Monthly Archives: May 2011

A day off

Flower

I have been on holiday today. The plan was that as we were going camping last weekend we would come back today and avoid the bank holiday traffic; however, since we never left the house this plan was never put into action. I could have cancelled today’s holiday but as its half term I thought I might as well still take it and I’m glad I did. The weather has still been ‘mixed’. We have had wind, heavy rain, hailstones and sunshine today so we spent all morning playing cards and giving the house a bit of a spring clean – including moving my son’s drum kit from the study into his bedroom, which may prove to be a terrible mistake. And, in the afternoon sunshine we went for a walk.

Sometimes you can find beauty in the most mundane of settings and this flower, growing in the cracks in the wood of a wooden canal lock gate, struck me as having something to it. It’s not the most beautiful of flowers and is probably considered a weed; however, as you may know I am not a gardener so I can consider it beautiful. Again taking a photograph like this reminds me of why I took up photography in the first place. I’m not sure anybody else will have taken this picture and therefore I have captured a unique moment. The fleeting nature of flowers is I think what draws photographers to them; we are like bees only less able to make honey.

Anyway, after the black and white of late it is nice to get back into colour…

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A walk in the woods

Woods

Typical British bank holiday. Hungover. Pouring rain, cold. And it’s June next week! Attempted to get some fresh air and walked part of the sandstone trail with friends and assorted children. We walked across Bulkeley hill, which (thankfully) is wooded so we remained under tree cover for most of the walk. It wasn’t great conditions for photography as a mist clung to everything and the visibility was very poor – a shame as there were some stunning views from up there, so I will have to go back. But when visibility is poor it always pays to go black and white. I seem to be on a bit of black and white kick at the moment so I’ll try and return to colour for the next few posts. Unfortunately the walk has not shifted the excesses of the weekend so I am heading for a bath and an early night.

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Lazy Sunday

Heading home

Because we didn’t go camping yesterday, it’s turning into a bit of a lazy weekend. Brownie points earned yesterday being put to good use today so I am off to take some pictures this afternoon. Not sure where but locally as we have an invitation out for tonight. Looks like we made the right decision anyway; awoke to the sound of rain this morning and it is very windy. I’m definitely a fair-weather camper, too many wet Glastonbury’s have tainted my outlook.

This is an old image that I decided to have a little play with. Its the pier at Llandudno and the nearest figure is my son stropping off somewhere. I have cropped it to square and decided to go with black and white to get the best out of the winter sea and sky. As I have said before I have 1000s of photographs backed-up that I am slowly revisiting as my processing skills improve. With many of them it is genuinely surprising what can be rescued and I am daunted by the fact that I am only scratching the surface in terms of what can be achieved with a little knowledge and a lot of practice.

Heading homeI have also attempted a version of this with an old-fashioned sepia tint and vignette – what my wife calls ‘The Bagpuss Effect’, for obvious reasons (at least obvious to those of you that are as old as me). This was just for fun really but I think that this sort of treatment works well for Victorian settings. Perhaps I should remove the boy in the puffa jacket for ultimate authenticity but you get the idea.

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Triptych

New York Triptych

Our camping exhibition to North Wales has been cancelled due to a) inclement weather and b) lack of enthusiasm for all concerned. As a result the womenfolk have gone out on the razzle leaving us men with only the comfort of the Champions League final cling to. Its a hard life! In truth, the only downside is that we have the kids to look after also but given that its Doctor Who night and we have a voucher for Dominos pizza there is no mountain that cannot be climbed. At the moment they have gone to play with the kids over the road so I am taking the opportunity to do some photo work.

This image is one I put together last month from the old photographs of New York that I found in the loft. It is my first attempt at a triptych and as such I’m pretty pleased with. As usual YouTube  proved invaluable and this is one thing that I have learned that should be passed on. When stuck on how best to process an image have a look on YouTube. Nine times out of ten, someone will have uploaded a handy video taking you through the process step by step. As I am self-teaching with regards to photo processing this has proved a real lifesaver.

Although I have blogged a couple of these images before I think they work well as a threesome, particularly with the twin towers in the middle. Again this is another small step forward towards doing things with more artistic merit than just landscapes. By trying to think this through as a piece of wall art I think the three images together work much better than they do individually.

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Competition fail

Albion Inn

I have recently entered some photographs for a competition (fingers crossed) and was with most photo competitions there were various categories under which you could enter. All of my entries were accepted bar this one. The category was ‘Local Britain’. What better way to illustrate this I thought that with a traditional British ‘local’ (for overseas readers, vernacular for a public house). Even better that said local is called The Albion Inn. But no. The image was rejected. Not because it’s a bad picture (for the record I think its pretty good) and not for the fact that it did not meet the stringent image criteria – it is the right orientation, size and format. It was rejected because it was deemed to be ‘advertising’. Now with all the will in the world I’m not sure how this can be the case. There are no logos, no brewery signs, nothing promoting anything at all. It’s just a typical British corner pub. So in other words my picture is deemed to advertise a pub rather than being a picture of a pub. I find this quite amusing and I would be intrigued to know how many other images are falling foul of this rule. I obviously have to consider these things more carefully Winking smile

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Balloons

Today’s blog is a little different as it is not actually here but here. I don’t think its cheating as the photograph and words are both mine. If you are reading this after 26th May 2011 you may need to scroll down. My entry is number 22.


Butterfly

Butterfly

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."

Hans Christian Anderson

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To the beach

posts

Tonight is one of those occasions when for the life of me I can’t think what to say or what to write about so I am afraid it’s going to be a short post this evening. I’m not sure about this picture and can’t really gauge if its any good or not. It’s another rescue job, since the original colour version is too bright with the bright sunshine robbing it of most of its detail or colour. However, with confidence gained I thought I’d process it as a black and white and this is the closest I’ve got to something that I’m reasonably happy with. What do you think? Worth saving?

We are off the the beach this weekend, it being a bank holiday and all that so come Friday I am going to have to come up with three posts and attempt to use the ‘set post date’ function in Windows Live Writer, which is what I use to the write the blog. As I am heading to deepest North Wales I will have no way of knowing if the blog has been updated or not so this weekend may be the point at which I fail the post-a-day challenge.

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Phobic

Dollface whiteout

This is a piece that I worked on over the weekend for a collaboration titled ‘Whiteout’ for Society6. The brief is to produce an image, in any media, where white is the prominent colour to extent that detail is lost with the best ones being picked to appear in a limited edition magazine. It’s the first time that I have created a piece from scratch with a view to fulfilling a brief and I really enjoyed doing it! The picture is one of my daughter’s old dolls; one that has seen better days after being left in the garden over a long period of time. I think it works quite well but I have been told that it is, well how shall I put this, creepy.

I am lucky enough to have no serious phobias – apart from fear of death but everyone has that. I’m not bothered by heights or flying or spiders or any of the classic phobias. I don’t like clowns but I’m not phobic about them. But I have met more than one pediophobic in my time; that of course being someone who has a fear of dolls. I had a friend at school that was terrified of Victorian porcelain dolls, which was very amusing as another friend’s mum collected them. I’m not sure what it is about dolls that freaks people out; they are a toy after all – a toy that is designed to bring pleasure – and my daughter has boxes and boxes of them. However, she is yet to be exposed to the way the doll has been heavily exploited in popular culture as an empty vessel that can be inhabited/possessed to wreak havoc. There are countless films and television programmes – from Michael Redgrave’s ventriloquist’s dummy in Dead of Night to The Terror of the Autons in Doctor Who to the Chuckie films – in which a seemingly harmless doll has become a sentient being bent on destruction. Whether this happens through magical spells or random chance, there is no escaping the fact that a child’s plaything has become deadly, usually accompanied by the strains of a music box or a nursery rhyme.

Anyway, please don’t have nightmares. It’s just a doll. But if you are a pediophobe I apologise for any stress this image might have caused.

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In the garden

Robin

We have spent this afternoon in the garden and whilst I have not been gardening I have been busy. Lawn has been mowed, camping equipment has been disinterred from the bowels of the shed, shed has been tidied. Thankfully, our garden is a good enough size to attract quite a lot of wildlife – such as the fox that killed our chickens – despite being quite near to the city centre. There is a pair of robins nesting in the ivy on the side of the shed and I took this picture of one of them this afternoon. In my head I think I though that Robins migrated to colder climes in the Spring as they are so associated with winter and Christmas and I don’t recall, until now, seeing one at other times of the year but I assume that they are indeed always around. Maybe we just notice them more when there is snow on the ground.

I have also spent some time testing out my new extension tube. As I have resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to be able to afford a dedicated macro lens anytime soon, an extension tube is the cheap option. It basically attaches to the front of the camera, thereby moving the lens further away and enabling you to take extreme close ups. I’ve been having a play this afternoon and given the low cost I’m pretty pleased with the results; only downside is that you have to focus manually rather than use the camera’s autofocus – and when you wear glasses like me this can be a problem. So, a lazy Sunday with a few photographs in the garden. Lovely.

aphid

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