Saturday, 9 March 2013

Digital sketchbook

I've been neglecting my little camera of late so I thought I'd give it some love by taking it round town when I went to buy the latest copy of the BJP. It had been performing rather better for me of late, and an A3 print from one of its files had demonstrated how capable it is. So long as you acknowledge its weaknesses.

The colours where what drew my eye to make the picture on the right. Alas it's not as sharp as it could be. Fine at this size but there's definite motion blur that detracts at a larger size. It's the difficulty of checking settings quickly that flummoxes me. In shutter priority the aperture disappears from the screen, and vice versa. You only get to see both settings when the shutter release is half pressed. And if using the viewfinder there's no information at all. So I either use programme mode or set the widest aperture and cross my fingers the shutter will be fast enough. More oftren than not it all goes Pete Tong for quickly grabbed shots.

The second shot is sharper. I was struck by the animal prints and the way they are looking through a grille. Maybe a little obvious play on the caged animal theme. The square crop is to get rid of unwanted clutter.

I actually got sidetracked in town and forgot to buy the magazine I'd gone for... So after lunch I headed for the market town, it having cheaper parking and a bit more to photograph, to make sure I got a copy. Again I blew it with the shots I thought had most potential, while the so-so shots were technically better. I'm still not sure if that pair of boots has feet and legs in them in the first shot!

 This next one is okay as a picture of a handbag stall, but there's nothing much else to it.

It was the absurdity of a hidden display of wares that appealed to me when I framed the picture on the left. That and the way it reminded me of the wrapped bodies often shown in documentary pictures from scenes of conflict. It's just a slightly absurd image.

My friend had his stall up this week, so I handed him a print of the photograph I took last time, and made some more. One of Matt serving a customer was sort of all right but the one I was trying to make of him serving with a young woman stood talking on a mobile in a pub doorway behind the stall simply wouldn't fall into place. Win some (few) lose some (many).

By chance I spotted a book in a charity shop window that looked interesting. 'Memories of Britain Past' is an illustrated look at life in Britain in the 20th century. I've yet to read or look at it all yet, but there is al ot of nostalgia as well as photographs by John Bulmer and an uncredited Tony Ray-Jones. Not all the pictures are of that standard, many were probably stock images at the time by the look of them. However it should give an insight into how Britain has been pictured over the years. Which interest me greatly.

With book and magazine purchased (the book for less than the magazine!) I headed for a little river I'm thinking of making some photographs of. My intention was to use the X10 to take some quick snaps as sketches of potential pictures. It was raining and I turned back after a few hundred yards after making a few snaps. I say they were snaps simply because I didn't bother checking any of the settings, so focus was likely to be awry. It was purely an investigatory visit. I came away with enough to give me some ideas. Waders might be required for one thing! The biggest problem will be that access is along the north bank only, meaning the sun (at this time of year) is going to be in my face in a lot of places, although the river does twist and turn a great deal. If the rain holds off tomorrow I might take another trip there.

I'll admit that it is Jem Southam's 'The River Winter' which made me think of visiting the Yarrow. Not that I have the book, although I have seen some of the pictures in it. It'll be interesting to see what I make of this new project. If that's what it turns out to be. It could be worth pursuing it as spring turns to summer if it does start to bear fruit. I have it in mind that a series of pictures working downstream as the seasons change might be one way to approach things. Maybe that's a little pretentiously conceptual!

While the files from the X10 are capable of rendering detail, the colours on dull days always seem to be lacking something which I can't pinpoint. They are prone to a magenta/purple cast, but I have learned to remove that. They still not right though. What I have come to realise, after a few people on the Talk Photography forum mentioned it, is that the jpegs are better to work with than the RAW files. They are more malleable than those from my other cameras. They also seem to require less processing than the RAW files. A tweak of the tone curve, a nudge of vibrancy and clarity and that's pretty much it unless some highlights need reducing or the exposure is slightly out. Very counter-intuitive given how RAW is usually best.

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