Thursday, 13 April 2017

Best of the Rest - March (2017)

These are a selection of images that have not been included in previous posts during March. Some of the content includes similar subjects and locations to other posts in the last month. This is one of the consequences of being more up-to-date with image processing and posting - there is less opportunity to plan and combine topics accordingly.

Repeating photographic subjects and venues in quick succession is quite common. I think there is a recency effect at play here where the image processing sparks a thought or approach which either consciously or subconsciously leads to repetition.

Greaves Lane

After losing the light in Blidworth Woods, I headed for higher ground for sunset. Parking at the top of Greaves Lane I captured several scenes of the surrounding countryside including a panorama of Robin Hood Hill (all taken with a compact camera):

Blidworth Woods

A set from a frequently visited location during March. On this occasion the cloudy conditions produced flat lighting and the compositions are mostly about lines and angles:

Garden Wall

I mentioned in a previous post that there is something pleasing about the imperfect uniformity of old walls. They are also great subjects for colour and texture:

Clumber Park

Whilst in Clumber Park I came across this large beech tree. I particularly like the root composition which worked best in black and white:

Stanage Edge

During March I took and posted a series of black and white images from Stanage Edge. These are a selection of colour compositions taken as the light changed:

That concludes winter photography for 2017 - another season has flown past and spring colours are emerging at pace providing new subjects to photograph and enjoy.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Stanage Edge - Photography Week 12 (2017)

These are a set of black and white images taken at Stanage Edge in the Peak District and they are notable because they come straight out of the camera with little or no post-processing in image software.

I had a black and white finish in mind when assessing the conditions and altered the camera's settings to record a monochrome JPEG in addition to the RAW data. Normally I would use the JPEG only for reference and process the RAW data accordingly.

On this occasion, I felt that the finish on the JPEGs was exactly what I was trying to achieve and only minor tweaks to contrast, sharpening, and dust spotting were required in Adobe Lightroom. A polarising and 3 stop graduated filter were used to control the light at the point of capture and, of course, the millstones below Stanage Edge made perfect subjects:

Getting images right in the camera is an aim for most landscape photographers but it is not always that easy. The minimum I look to try and achieve is a balanced exposure (no blown highlights or blocked shadows). Later in post-processing I will use image software to enhance contrast and colour producing a hyper-version of reality or, in the case of black and white, an altered version of reality.

Whether the final version skews reality to a point that tests credibility is largely down to the viewer opinion but if I ever have any doubts about my own processing it is normally due to an image that has been poorly conceived or captured.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Clumber Park - Photography Week 12 (2017)

This set of photographs centres mainly on the wetland area in Clumber Park where the River Poulter feeds into Clumber Lake. This sounds quite dramatic but it is actually very gentle.

Much of the area is naturally overgrown and a haven for wildlife but the subjects that caught my eye were the details on the waters edge and in particular some of the reflections. Most of this I captured in black and white as this example image shows:

Before moving on to the reflections it is worth setting more of the context for these pictures using these photographs of the water's edge:

What can be seen in the above images is the way the branches reflect in the lake. Some are in bright open water and others closer to the bank have more darker areas. This led to two distinct panels of black and white photographs.

The first panel is characterised by gaining clarity between the reflected branches and the water which could be described as a high key finish:

The second panel takes the alternative low key approach creating a softer and more ambiguous representation of the reflections:

I find the low key panel more intriguing. The dark shadows and movement created by longer exposure times creates a mood that holds the attention longer than sharper or more defined higher key studies. That said, I find the first image in the higher key panel particularly engaging.

Finally, continuing the black and white theme is a small panel focusing on details at the waters edge. What I am trying to achieve here is a sense of elegance in the compositions.

Elegance often comes from simplicity of lines and in particular curves. The first image in this post is an example of lines creating a simple and possibly elegant composition - although this sense of elegance has been enhanced by the digital removal of some bubbles and other debris in the water. The original unaltered version is posted below along with some alternative compositions:

Whether digitally 'cleaning' images is considered acceptable depends upon your point of view and how the picture is being presented - there has been a lot controversy about the airbrushing of celebrities in magazines for instance.

As a predominately landscape photographer, I tend to remove only aspects of a scene that are considered temporary e.g. a distracting white van parked in the distance, a aeroplane's vapour trail in the sky or a piece of rubbish in the foreground. At the end of the day I doubt that anyone is going to get too worked up about the removal of debris around a blade of grass in water but it does question the difference between a representation of the natural world versus photo-art and hence the need to be clear about what is being presented.