Joe Cornish, the great British landscape photographer, advocates taking most of your photographs no more than thirty minutes from your home. So, here's my blog featuring pictures either thirty minutes drive or walk away from my front door or from the place where I'm staying for a few days. I'll also be writing about photography in general from time to time. Please enjoy!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Nana's Room

Sometimes you just chance on an image and have to act quickly. "Nana's Room" is one such image. 

I was passing the bedroom when I saw some beautiful light momentarily shining into the room. There was a lovely shadow on the wall and I wanted to get the image. My TZ-10 was to hand and I was able to quickly compose and shoot off six images before the light went. In fact, I captured more than the shadows; I got some of the dressing table, too, with some gorgeous rim lighting. It was an instant still life.

When time allowed (last evening!) I decided to process one of the images. Monochrome was my first choice and using Silver Efex Pro2 I selected a Fine Art Process preset as the start point. Next, I modified the brightness - highlights and midtones to +14% and shadows to -14%. I then increased the structure (contrast effectively) to +50% across all three ranges and adding a vignette preset.

Having done the basic work I went back to the brightness increasing the midtones to 42% and shadows to +10%. Returning to Elements I cropped to 12x8, applied an unsharp mask of 33% with a radius of 1 and a 3x threshold and, finally, a high pass filter at a radius of 0.2.

I really like the effect and hope you do, too.

Click the image for the bigger picture

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Path Through the Dunes

There was some good weather during the summer and here is an image from one of those days.

We took a picnic to our favourite place, which is Llanddwyn on the island of Anglesey. Llanddwyn is an island in its own right being cut off from the mainland at high tide. There's the lovely woodlands of Newborough Forest to explore, long wild beaches that can be deserted, wildlife a plenty, rolling dunes with dense clumps of marram grass and super views to the Lleyn Peninsular. It's a great place for photography whatever the weather.

Paul Gallagher is a favourite photographer who works almost exclusively in black and white. He has captured some wonderful shots of the marram grasses on the coast between Liverpool and Southport. I'd been waiting for the right conditions to use some of his techniques and was blessed with a beautiful calm day with blue skies and wonderful cloud formations.

The image was captured using a polarising filter and Lee 0.6 graduated ND filter. I loved the savageness of the rocks against the softness of the marram and the clouds were just made to complement the image.

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The Evolution of an Image

During a few spare minutes earlier in the year I converted a colour image I'd posted here previously under the title "Holiday Homes". It was posted on my Fotoblur site under the title "Perfect Summer Day" and did quite well for itself being featured by the Monochrome group. Well, the same image has evolved still further!

I do love the square format and I wondered just how the image would look cropped to 5x5. I'm pleased with the result, which you can see below. It just goes to show that an image, like a painting, is never truly finished.

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The original mono conversion was hand done in Adobe Camera RAW and Elements using techniques from a Future Publishing black & white guide and at some stage during the long winter evenings I shall do a new conversion using Silver Efex2 Pro.

Lee "Big Stopper"

Joy of joys... my Lee "Big Stopper" glass filter has finally arrived! Pity it was just a little too late to capture some of the stormy weather we had during the second week of October. I'm looking forward to getting out and seeing how it all works and will give you a full review in due course.

First Dawn of Autumn

I like to think that 1st October is the first day of autumn when winter clothes are aired ready for the cooler air. How strange then to be on the coast of Anglesey near Penmon Point at 6:30 in the morning wearing a t-shirt! And what a start to my autumn photography, my favourite time of the year...

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 No computer trickery here just a couple of Lee ND filters on the front of my Nikon.

Exped Dry Bags

It’s often wet here in the UK so keeping your camera and accessories dry needs to be considered. I’ve been using Exped Dry Bags for a while now and I think they’re great. I use one for my ThinkTank holster (and contents, of course) another for my Lee filter kit and another for accessories.The Exped’s come in a variety of sizes, are light and have, so far, done their job of keeping stuff dry admirably. They are inexpensive, too. Available from good outdoor shops - I got mine from Joe Brown’s in Llanberis.

A word of warning... THEY’RE NOT SUBMERSIBLE!

Wildlife With a Compact

Pick up any good photography magazine and you’re likely to see wildlife photographs of outstanding quality. Read the picture captions and you’re most likely to find that the photographer has used some very high end equipment often costing in the £1,000’s. It’s often thought that to achieve really top notch images you need expensive gear but that’s not necessarily the case. Back in my youth I had a small exhibition of photographs taken wholly using my first camera, a Halina 120 roll film jobbie; I’ve still got it, by the way. I believe that it’s the person behind the camera who makes the picture not the equipment used.

That is not to say that expensive equipment doesn’t help, it does. A fine piece of Nikon or Leica glass on the front of your camera is going to help tremendously. But you can achieve very satisfactory results using far more affordable kit. I set out to prove this shortly after getting my TZ-10.

A rather large spider had spun a web in the garden and on a rare sunny August evening I took the little Panasonic down the garden and using the macro zoom setting took a few very pleasing pictures. Since then I’ve been on the look out for more wildlife images to take using compacts. So far the Panasonic has been the most successful mainly because of its superior specification but I have one or two nice shots from my Leica. All are hand held primarily because there’s no facility for a cable release and the fact that using the time exposure function isn’t very accurate; the “decisive moment” is lost.

Here’s some of the images:

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Click the image for the bigger picture

Click the image for the bigger picture