Sunday, 24 April 2011

A Day In France

This week I was fortunate to be able to spend a day in France with a photographer friend.  It was fantastic weather with temperatures hitting 25, maybe 26 or 27 during the day. This, of course, bought out many people to the beaches and created its own set of difficulties later in the day when we were looking for those uncluttered cameos.

We started at Le Touquet and wondered up and down the beach area as people started to arrive for the day.

This was one of the first images I took, it was as though somebody had turned up in advance and set it up ready for the people to arrive. Apart from cropping and a low opacity layer of gaussian blur this is much as taken.

Further along the beach and there were more people starting to arrive, but the scenes were still very simple with few elements in them. This image also uses the low opacity gaussian blur layer to give it a slightly dreamy effect.

Sometimes things happen which are difficult to explain. I have no idea who these people were or what they were doing, but the tubing and protective gear indicated that perhaps it was some kind of drain repair...who knows! This image is called  "Who you gonna call? Ghost busters"

As the day wore on more people were emerging and it was more difficult to identify those special moments, or as Cartier Bresson would call it ...that decisive moment.

This was one of those lucky shots,  saw the girl on the mono cycle too late to get a front view, but as she passed I turned and was determined not to miss the chance of a shot, just as this woman stopped to look. Pure luck.

I call this "I wish I could do that"

Later in the day we went on to Etaples war cemetery

Making use of my fish eye to obtain a more inclusive view I also decided that I would try out my IR camera, as I had read that cemeteries are good places to use IR photography.

Finally a grave which got me thinking......
You will notice that the grave in the right hand corner is a German grave. There are areas where the German soldiers are buried together, but this one is amongst British graves, why would this be so? I have tried to find an answer by doing a web search but so far I have not found out why. If anybody has an answer I would be interested to hear.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The annual bluebell shoot!!

Yesterday I took my annual trip to Ashridge Forset to look at, and photograph, the bluebells. It is such a well known spot which has been photographed so many times that it is difficult to get something which has my 'stamp' on it. I think I really need to give it another week, when it will be a blaze of colour.

At my camera club I am known for my 'quirky pics' so here is one which might fit into that category.


This was taken with my fish eye lens and processed to give a painterly, hazy effect.

This one, called a Worm's Eye View, involved me getting on the floor and making myself look rather foolish, not the first time I hear those who know me shout!!! Anyway I think it was worth it, so far this is my favourite.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

To edit or not to edit, that is the question.

We all know that digital photographs require a certain amount of basic editing, especially if you shoot in raw as I do, and that infra red has some additional work which needs to be done. My question is really to do with how far we need/should go. Of course the answer will always be it depends on the photograph and why the editing is being done. As I have said before filters, conversions, use of plugins etc will never rescue a poor image so we are assuming a basically decent start photograph.

The reason I am musing over this is because of the last image in my previous post, I kept going back to it believing there was something more in the image which, with some careful editing, could be coaxed out. In my mind I was imaging something a bit whimsical, prompted by the flowing clothes of the ladies mirrored in the billowing trees, also the idea of childhood being carefree and fun, how would these children remember this day?

Anyway I started to edit and came up with this version, created by cropping and adding some fractalius.

This is the original version for comparison

I think the reworked version is better, for the reasons stated above, but realise that it is sometimes difficult to be truly objective about your own work so any other opinions would be valued and taken on board.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Infra Red 2

This morning I had another look at my pics from the last few days and edited these two.

The first taken at Wardown Park and the second at Whipsnade Tree Cathedral.

IR seems to suit the bright midday sun, often a no no for many photographers. The bright sunlight, giving an almost skeletal look to the leaf, was the reason I was attracted to this image. I used curves to increase the contrast, darkening the background and giving the leaf a bit of a 'zing' - note the technical photographic word there!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Infra Red

Well it has been a while since I added a new post, mainly due to work and other commitments. As I have mentioned I have kept up my Project 52 pages and the most recent mentioned my recently purchased Infra Red camera.

The advantage of a converted camera over filters is that it can be used as a normal camera, no need for long exposures. Of course there may be times when a long exposure is beneficial, silky water, blurry people etc so, as with most things, it's not a case of one is better than the other, rather the opportunity to try something different.

As with all photography it takes a while to get your eye in, to 'see' in IR. It is true of all images that a badly composed, out of focus picture will always be a badly composed, out of focus picture, turning to mono, adding a filter or converting to IR will not rescue it. Having said that it seems that some pictures work better in IR, the learning curve seems to be to do with recognising which is which.

This is one of my first attempts. This is Pitstone windmill, a site I have visited regularly since starting to take my photography seriously, I still have to take a good picture of the windmill.

Of course I wanted to try something different so I swapped the red and blue channels in Photoshop to create an image with, what is known as, false colour.I tried using lead in lines and framing it with foliage from a conveniently placed tree. I suppose its OK but a friend would probably describe this as a 'so what' picture with nothing to distinguish it or make it stand out from the many hundreds which have probably been taken of this windmill.

Message to self - don't be so predictable, return to the windmill and look for something unusual, or at least take a brilliant pic of the 'normal'!!!

I then moved onto College Lake near Tring in Bucks. An old quarry which is now converted into a lovely wildlife area.

I do struggle with landscape and nature photography and find that this is a good place to experiment. I must admit when I first converted this I rather liked it, however I uploaded it to a forum I frequent and it was pointed out that the two blocks of dark colour are distracting and the viewer would not know if they were water or shadow...fair point.

Sometimes it is difficult to be objective about your own work.

So having tried some colour versions I then went for the more familiar mono conversion, again this is an image taken at College Lake. This I am happier with, I like the composition, reflections and the ripples in the water.

It has been commented that the ripples look rather strange, on this occasion I have to say that I don't agree. No prize winner but, for me, a decent landscape.

This is another from the lake, interesting in that unless you had been told you probably wouldn't know that this was an IR photograph.  I find it a pleasing photograph, but again nothing to write home about!
Now this one I am pleased with - it may well find its way into a club competition sometime.

Once I had finished at College Lake I moved onto Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, only to find it was swarming with young children on an Easter egg hunt. I took a couple of pics but you always have to be a little cautious of taking photographs of young children.

This all I could manage without feeling awkward. With hindsight I should have made more use of the reflections in the dew pond.

This is another of the same area, showing all of the dew pond, which is in the process of being constructed. I enjoy this because of the drama of the black sky, which in non IR was bright blue, with not a cloud in sight, and the glow on the trees.

Today I had an hour after work and travelled into Luton to visit Wardown Park This time I took, not only my IR camera,  but also a fish eye lens with the intention of finding out what I could do with that combination.

Advice from my photography advisor and friend is always to take the obvious first, which I did, the fountain, museum building, lake etc. Then I looked around to find something which would take advantage of the fish eye effect.

This one is called "When is it my turn?"  Not only is it IR and fish eye but I have also added a touch of Fractalius to give it a bit of a painterly effect.

This one is called "Just one bottle between us". This is deliberately cropped to give the feeling of space but I am unsure if there is just too much emptiness.

Finally the one I am most pleased with, probably because I am back in my comfort zone. Called "Wait for us" (or at least it is until I can come up with something more imaginative.)

Well that's enough for tonight. This is clearly going to be steep learning curve, but it seems as though the possibilities are endless. One good thing from my point of view is that I have seen very few IR prints, this means that I am not limited by what I have seen before or by what others tell me is or is not possible. Thinking outside the box usually produces much more creative images. Thanks for reading and looking.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Don't Forget Project 52

I know I have not updated this section of the site for a while, however I have kept up to date with my Project 52, at least one image per week. I am intending to add a few entries over the next few days, in the meantime why not take a look at the links above.