Yesterday I went out for a ‘Photowalk’ around Ipswich with my good friend Miss H. For ‘Photowalk’ read a meander around the shops with our cameras. The purpose behind this was not just to spend a pleasant afternoon together but to help her get to grips with her first DSLR a very niffty Nikon. Miss H is new to photography but enjoying herself.
Naturally there was much chatting and as we wandered round, cameras in hand, I heard a voice call out asking if I wanted to take a photo. Turning round I saw a man sitting in a door way.
This is Dan. I took his photo and we chatted for a little while. I’m not a great one for street photography and rarely take photos of people. However Dan was happy to pose and I just couldn’t resist. He was a little vague about how he ended up sat in that doorway on the cold floor, but seemed grateful for the money I gave him to get a hot drink. As Miss H and I walked away we started looking round to see what else, and who else, we were just walking past. Dan had been charming and articulate, and I had just been walking past as if he didn’t exist. Food for thought…
Last summer I did some exploring round places I’d not visited before. Top of the list that blew me away was Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. I keep leaving the shots for a few months and coming back to them. Here are the latest couple of shots which I thought I’d share with you…
If you ever get a chance to visit I’d strongly recommend it. The site is looked after by English Heritage but they were very relaxed about me wandering round with my camera and tripod.
Last summer I visited Bylands on the North Yorkshire Moors. Despite being much easier to find than Rievaulx a few miles away this ruin was practically deserted. As a result there was a strange spooky feeling to it. The weather had been variable all day and those black clouds in the sky really were black with impending rain.
As I wandered round with my tripod the sun was peaking in and out. When I came across this composition I set up and waited for the clouds to move and give me some light. When they did I took a series of shots but unfortunately the only other visitor was visible, something I didn’t realise till afterwards. He’s still there if you look carefully and in my mind he’s become a ghostly monk.
I’m not a huge fan of applying loads of filters and post-processing the life out of every image. I frequently see photos that look ‘over processed’ for no reason other than the photographer felt like it. I try to do only as much as I need to and nothing more. This shot of course has a lot more processing than most of my images but again I only did what I felt was warranted. I was aiming for a spooky shot that you could imagine being the image which would flash up on screen during a Hammer House of Horror movie. You know the way some directors show you that there is another world lurking just out of view by flashing between the regular film and an alternate reality. I’m not sure if I managed it, but I like the result anyhow.
I’ve been going through some old images, trying to look at them with fresh eyes, and thought I’d share a few from my ‘Hmmmmm’ list. This is the list of shots where I know there is something there, but I’m not exactly sure how to process the image to pull it out. Some images stay on this list for years while I try to work it out.
For these specific images I decided the colour, while beautiful, was distracting from the essence of the shot. So it was a conversion to black and white for them…
They were taken at a wonderful little place called Castle Eden Dene, not far from where I grew up in County Durham. All these shots were hand held while out walking the dogs. They were happy because they got to run around in amongst the trees like idiots, I was happy as I got to wander with my camera.
I love woodland shots but find them difficult. I think it’s because I’m like a kiddie in a sweet shop with all the amazing nature around me. Add in the often limited colour palette and my brain get’s itself all confused about where to point the camera. Sometimes when wandering in places like this dene, it’s easy to imagine what England was like when covered in the wild wood thousands of years ago. I always find these places a little magical. Many woods are heavily managed but Castle Eden doesn’t feel that way, it feels somehow less touched by man. They have a strange other worldly feeling which I believe suits black and white. I’ve always felt that other worldly tingle in this dene and for that reason, if nothing else, the time I get to spend there is special and to be treasured.
Sometimes I like to revisit old photos. In part because I love looking at them and reliving the memories, but also because it can be fun to re-process them. This is one reason why I use RAW files straight from my camera. The RAW format is basically all the information saved by your camera and I like to use this as my starting point for processing. Others differ in their view on this and that’s ok, each to their own.
So, this is a shot which is about 18 months old now. I had a go at processing it straight away but was never really happy with the result. It just seemed wrong somehow. However when I got home the other evening I found myself wondering about black and white.
I love black and white images, they are that one step further removed from the reality we see everyday. This is Loch Faskally near Pitlochry in Scotland. I had planned a walking, (and photography), holiday for myself and Jake the dog not last summer but the one before. Unfortunately a few weeks before we went I hurt my left knee, making long hikes a bad idea. So the planned places to visit list had to be hastily revised. A walk round this Loch was added and I’m glad it was. Jake of course approved as it involved, running in woods and splashing in water, but then he’s easy to please.
The photo was taken hand held on my old Canon 10D, ISO 200, f 16 for 1/125th sec. My knee ruled out carrying a tripod. To get to this black and white image I took the original file and imported it into Adobe Photoshop CS3. (Yes I know it’s an old piece of software and I have CS5, I’m just more used to CS3). I then converted to black and white. You can do this using the auto feature but I find the images look rather flat that way, so I adjust the different colours manually. I tweaked the brightness and contrast etc and voilà. I like this version much better than the coloured one. Part of me misses the beautiful colours of Scotland but I’m sure I’ll get to see them in other shots. You’ve got to do what is best for each photograph and in this case it was black and white…