Monday, 31 January 2011

Wing Tips (Butterfly Sunset), Wisley

So it is slightly tenuous, but, having spent an hour in the Wisley greenhouse photography butterflies, I was seeing them everywhere. This was taken about half an hour after Greenhouse Effect, Wisley as the sun went down beside the glasshouse. Looks cool in Lightbox, if you have the time and are feeling indulgent!

There's more from this series to come, whilst the sun was still high and golden. Once it went behind the cloud I put my ND500 (9 stop ND) filter on to smooth the water. Although the blue cast needs some WB correction in processing, it really works well on sunsets. Another example is Meltwater, Hertfordshire.

As with that one, the main trade off is in terms of opportunity - without the filter you get to take many more pictures (I suppose theoretically over 500 times more...) of the narrow window of exciting light. That said, where there's water involved, I think it's worth the risk. I've found anything between a minute and two at low ISO, high aperture, delivers in this kind of "afterglow" situation. No doubt it must vary, but once you get to that amount of time, the wait to get yourself a stop off target is pretty lenient.

This is definitely a spot I'll return to. There's a sturdy paved border around the edge of the lake which did a perfect job as stand in tripod.

Hope everyone is well and having a terrific start to the week!

See Wing Tips (Butterfly Sunset), Wisley on Flickr for additional comments and notes.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Greenhouse Effect, Wisley

Greenhouse Effect, Wisley, originally uploaded by flatworldsedge.

RHS Wisley are repeating their butterfly exhibit, with hundreds of tropical butterflies let loose in the greenhouses. I was went over on Friday en route down to Dorset to have a look at them, and got thrown out at closing time when the sun was going down behind the palms and streaming windows.

There's a good number of shots from the afternoon and I'd recommend a visit to anyone - though you might want to warm your camera up before heading in. Coming in from the cold with a magnesium body, my kit instantly condensed a litre or so of ambient moisture and I spent the first fifteen minutes constantly drying it with a lens cloth.

Here's the first upload - more to come of the sunset that followed and the butterflies that preceded this one. Hope everyone is having a great weekend and enjoying life!

See Greenhouse Effect, Wisley on Flickr for additional notes and comments.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Still Life (Dead Duck), Grand Union Canal

Not sure about this one. Taken back at the start of the year, more out of horror than anything else. I was very sad to see it actually. Never seen a dead duck before. It seemed wrong not to take a picture. And having taken it, wrong not to post it. So here it is.

Lots of cloning to remove spots from the surface of the canal. I wanted a sort of "Han Solo frozen in carbon" effect.

Hope everyone is having a great week.

See Still Life (Dead Duck), Grand Union Canal for additional notes and commentary.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Never Forgets (Bernini's Elephant), Rome [Film Scan]

Another one from the archives to stay in touch and thank everyone for the kind comments in recent days whilst I've been offline. I'm just changing jobs at the moment, so things are a little busy! Like the elephant though, I know I've got some catching up to do and I'm really enjoying seeing everyone's work, albeit at a slower pace than usual.

See Never Forgets (Bernini's Elephant), Rome [Film Scan] on Flickr for additional notes and comments.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lake McDonald (Glacier National Park), Apgar

Additional image in the comments - thanks to johndolan for suggesting it. John's a super chap and I recommend a look at his 'stream!

Thanks everyone for your patience this week - it's proving an extremely enjoyable and extremely busy few days, with very little time online. Once the dust settles I'll give a better sketch.

Another one from the archives, with shifting clouds sliding across the sun to herald a week of rain. An hour later we were down the far end of the lake beginning our ascent into the cloud, for the close up have a look at Going To The Sun (Glacier National Park), Montana.

That's enough scribbling for this post - catching up now.

See Lake McDonald (Glacier National Park), Apgar on Flickr for additional notes.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Black & White Version of Many Glacier Hotel, Montana

Many Glacier Hotel, Montana

One from our honeymoon the summer before last; a road trip from Las Vegas up to Alberta and back. This is the fantastic Many Glacier Hotel, which I recommend unreservedly to all and everyone. It's taken late in the day on a quick stroll round the lake, with super golden light on the slopes. Viewed large the quality doesn't really stand up on the hotel itself, but I felt the slopes and reflections were strong enough to justify a posting!

Hope everyone is well and having a superb weekend.

See Many Glacier Hotel, Montana on Flickr for additional notes.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Mass Migration (Starlings), Hoohill

Not sure there's any way to view this large enough on Flickr - suffice to say there are *lots* of birds in the frame! It's probably my last posting from my Christmas Day "golden hour" session, which consisted of a mad ten minutes getting one shot of twenty different things.

These are some of the 100,000 starlings which roost under Blackpool's North Pier, returning en masse as the sun surges westward and away. So not really a mass migration, and apologies to any offended zoo- or ornithologists. My lawyers will cite poetic license.

This one is technically SOOC, shot in RAW with just the auto WB setting. I state that mostly because this shot made me realise what a nonsense this concept is nowadays. My in camera settings for this shot included +3 saturation and +1 contrast (I'm to guess by eye that the camera's "+1" is equal to about "+5" in PS, or "+10" in LR). Clearly this is processing - the fact it has been down inside the black box that is my camera, rather than the white box that is my laptop, is, to my mind, utterly irrelevant.

Yet an email I received today from my first university mentions an alumni photography competition which demands submitted images be SOOC. i.e. processed by the "picture style" command, rather than LR/PS. Surely this is madness? Do they really intend the rule to create a situation where people with expensive cameras can, without skill, process images - rather than letting everyone entering apply skillful processing. Am I alone here?

Rant over!

In closing, many thanks to everyone who was kind enough to view, favourite and/or share their thoughts regarding my last photo - Beyond (World Trade Center), NYC [Film Scan]. I am delighted that it made a brief appearance on Explore's Front Page, ten years after it was shot. Thank you everyone. Though I am struggling to catch up with everyone, I love putting people's kind comments in context by seeing their work and enjoy sharing my thoughts in return. Thanks for being patient while I catch up!

See Mass Migration (Starlings), Hoohill on Flickr for additional notes.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Beyond (World Trade Center), NYC [Film Scan]

One of my first SLR shots, taken in NYC a decade ago. The visit was a 21st Birthday celebration, alongside the gift of the camera itself. This is another scan of an original film image, EXIF data added, but no edits to the noise, scratches, etc. The trip was my compelling first connection to NYC; a city I got to return to a lot whilst studying more recently upstate. It was marked by the drifting mist and cloud in evidence in this view, which, neither undermined my engagement with the city itself nor, especially looking at this image in the years since 911, detracts from the impression it creates.

I would suggest viewing on black, despite the grain.

[From here on, I'm afraid things become a little reflective and over-wrought. It's not intended to offend, and no offence would be taken if you choose to skip it entirely.]

Having worked and studied overseas and in upstate NY, I've obviously made friends with a lot of people with far more intimate and emotional connections to 911 than I have myself. Not wanting to intrude upon or distract those far more powerful accounts, I still thought I might briefly commit some of my rememberings to this posting by way of commemoration and perspective.

On the day itself, we were living in Chipas, Mexico. In terms of timezones, this meant as we awoke the first tower was already on the news. Events unfolded as an American friend and I prepared for a morning volunteering (as English teachers) at the local orphanage. We had to leave for our teaching during the collapse. At the orphanage the kids would ask questions to get to know us, natural to them given their context, but strange to us, like; "Do you have a father/mother?" My friend's father was flying that morning, and he had been unable to contact him before we left, which gave a surreal, uneasy, yet somewhat epiphanic, edge to the morning.

Meanwhile, the close friend of another teacher in our group, was working in an upper level of the second tower. She had been unable to contact her. Understandably perhaps, to avoid panic and potential injury, after the first impact, she later found out that those working in the second had been told to remain at their desks. Her friend left her desk regardless, and, though she was still inside the tower when the second aircraft hit, she was now below the impact zone and thereby survived.

In terms of commemoration, I'd like to suggest, timidly, that one of the greatest tragedies of the day is not the tragedy of opposition - the battle between A vs B, whatever you label A or B, whichever side you take. Given subsequent conflict, right or wrong, that is how this event is often framed by the media. Rather I see it as a tragedy of those who have a side, and those who don't even know there was a battle. However the perpetrators are cast - be in political, religious, non-US extremist or US conspirator - clearly their paradigm was built on an underlying assumption of a conflict, which the victims were unaware of. If we disagree and together decide to fight one another, that is one thing. If we disagree, and I accept or am unaware of our differing thoughts, and yet you strike me down regardless, that is another, to my mind, greater tragedy.

I do hope these notes don't trivialise the event or offend anyone. It's just a record of a couple of stories and the musings that flowed from them. It's not meant as anything more. One thing my scanning of these old film prints has reminded me of is the power of a photograph to commemorate meaning over time. Flickr is chiefly a celebration of the present; of the frenetic energy of now and today. Perhaps one aspect of photography it overlooks is the longer term view. It's the difference between seeing the noise of everything, and stripping that noise away to leave the transcendent moment alone. Both interesting angles, but the latter inevitably absent from this medium, perhaps.

So that's probably quite enough introspection and philosophical declamation for the next few months. I hope you're all very well and have survived my ramble if you were generous enough to follow it. Have a superb week all.

See Beyond (World Trade Center), NYC [Film Scan] on Flickr for additional notes.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Phoenix From The Negative (Ob River Sunset), Siberia [Film Scan]

This is the first of a series of my old APS film shots which I've had scanned over Christmas. Apologies for the slight noise to the image - scanned at 600 DPI they look pretty good, but the colour images are not up to normal modern standards. I have added what EXIF data I can in each instance, but I'm afraid it's a little less informative than I'd like. If anyone knows how to add aperture and shutter values, I'd be interested as I do have notes for some of the shots and would ideally err on the side of completeness!

This one was taken handheld on a holiday in Siberia, staying in log cabins on the Ob north of Tomsk. It's shot with my first SLR sometime in July 2000, just pointing west across the river at one of several awesome sunsets we got over the course of the week or so we stayed there. The boat on the river is from a local ranger who took us out fishing on a misty dawn a couple of days earlier.

Strange to remember film days - I took two shots of this sunset, both hand-held. One died from camera shake, and this one lived. If I saw this scene now, with anything digital, I would shoot two or three just to get a bearing on the exposure! Then I'd probably shoot another twenty images bare minimum for this composition alone! How on earth I got through the rest of the holiday without suffering some stress-induced collapse is beyond me - to think I might have been calm enough to take two pictures, exposure unseen, and move on is very strange, and throws some interesting light on the way my photography and the technology around it has changed, if not perhaps also on me. [Introspective moment].

Hope everyone is well and enjoying a brisk week so far.

See Phoenix From The Negative (Ob River Sunset), Siberia [Film Scan]
on Flickr for additional notes.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Extinction (Star Trails Over Jurassic Coast), Dorset

First of a set from Friday night down at Winspit Cove in Dorset. I almost didn't bother due to a heavy mist and sporadic rain, but after the thirty minute walk down to the sea it had cleared somewhat. The retreating cloud picking up light pollution created a nice contrast to the rising stars in the blue twilight.

I'll be uploading another few images from the same set, all with different outcomes as the twilight blue vanished very quickly and this is the only shot to feature it. The scene was very dark, and even this 723 seconds at f/8.0 and ISO400 didn't bring out anymore than the skies colour and the mist of the sea. Usually I end up desaturated images, but this one needed a boost as well as some fill light and brightness to lift it. I also tweaked the WB so the light pollution came out more pink than its starting orange.

There's a little bit of a blur to the ridgeline from wave surging around the tripod. This is another shot that relied upon my new wellington boots, as I spent most of the shot ankle deep in surf. It was quite worrying, in fact, as the roar of the incoming waves is overwhelming and the darkness conceals their size. As you hear the deafening tide thrashing towards you, you have no idea if this is going to splash your ankles or come plunging over your shoulders to drag you back into the deep.

Viewing on black does lift this one another notch. Hope everyone's had a great few days whilst I've been away and look forward to catching up now I'm back.

See Extinction (Star Trails Over Jurassic Coast), Dorset on Flickr for extra notes.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Meltwater Featured On Foto Fame Blog

Many thanks to the guys at Foto Fame for featuring Meltwater. Check it out for some extra notes on taking and processing the shot, and to see the many excellent shots they host on their site.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Thawing Hoar Frost, Hoohill

Got my knees wet (and cold) taking this one! It's from Christmas day, a few minutes after Backlight (Winter Brambles). The light wasn't quite so dramatic as in that image, but low down the colour was still getting picked up in the wet grass and what was left of the hoar frost.

Same 24mm minimum lens as I used to whinge about on my older 1.6x crop body. The difference moving to full frame is incredible - it's really come into its own.

Happy New Year to all. Many thanks to everyone kind enough to take the time to look at, fav and comment upon Meltwater which was lucky enough to make Explore's Front Page to my immense delight!

See Thawing Hoar Frost, Hoohill with additional notes on Flickr.

Close Up Crop From Full Frame

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Meltwater, Hertfordshire

Meltwater, Hertfordshire, originally uploaded by flatworldsedge.

Happy 2011 - hope everyone is having a great start to the year!

One from December's final flurry of snow, deserving of a few notes. I was set up just testing my new ND500 (9 stop ND filter) on a footbridge, when out of nothing a brief, but striking, winter sunset lit up the sky. With people tramping back over the bridge in their icy wellingtons and only a brief moment of colour, I only got one meaningful shot. Perhaps I should have taken the risk and whipped off the filter, but hoped I could pull off a good shot with it to give a nice smooth river as well as the colour.

This one worked except for two issues; the snow was a little too dark to really make an impact and the bluish colour cast from the ND500 left it looking rather strange. I've manually juggled the snow to try to solve these issues, without creating too unnatural effect. This is a little on the edge, but the nearest I can get it to something that balances the two sides of the coin.

The biggest failing I would say is my correction of the blue tint - it is a little patchy on the snow and took a little out of the corners of the sky (e.g. left behind the lower tree branches).

In terms of the purple and magenta tones - I actually desaturated these slightly to blend the image better. It was stunning light, and the (overall underexposed) shot really caught them at their height.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the weekend.

See Meltwater, Hertfordshire on Flickr for extra notes and details.