Saturday, 26 July 2014

Trials and tribulations

This week just gone I think I've managed to put a project to bed. After the hot weather and bright sunshine putting me off doing anything that involved moving about for ages I had two evening sessions with the camera trying to add to the collection of shots for my Autoflora project. My enthusiasm had been rekindled after carting my camera to the Post Office the other day and finding some inspiration for my village 'project'. That got me keen to do something more focussed.

This has been ongoing for a couple of years. It's only possible to do much with it for a few weeks each year. Too soon and there are no plants growing between the cracks, too late and they have either died of natural causes or been sprayed with weedkiller by the council. In the place where I take the pictures time of day is important too, so it has to be evening. Again timing is critical and after a certain point my shadow enters the frame.

After working out a viewpoint, focal length and shutter speed I was determined to do it properly this time. The tripod went with me and the remote release. That way I'd get more 'keepers' with the plants and foreground sharp. Or so I thought. As it turned out I didn't. Back home I reasoned why that was the case, and a trial in the back garden revealed that the problem was mirror/shutter shock using the camera in burst mode. Using mirror lock up I could get sharp-enough frames at 1/10th sec and 200mm. Another attempt would have to be made while I was still in the mood.

The first problem to hit was the remote release playing up. Long story, but my own fault. Still, I could use the receiver as a cable release so all was not lost. The burning issue was if I would be able to time the shots while limited to one frame at a time? I'd been using burst mode to give me a fighting chance of getting one out of three or four with a car in the frame. As things turned out my 'hit rate' was much better!

Using the mirror lock there were still bits of the plants which were blurred, but that's unavoidable as the draught from the passing vehicles moves them. The kerbstones and tarmac were as sharp as I could hope for. Success.

It didn't take me long to get the shots I was after. Given that they are all just variations on a theme it didn't seem worthwhile to carry on taking more of the same. Certainly not when I have already got a number of similar pictures on file, plus variations which were made on the road to the current stage. I reckon the project has gone as far as I can take it - unless I think up a different angle to approach it from.

In other news. The sandplant continues to throw up occasional interesting pictures for me. I liked the way the folds of the plastic mimicked the folds of the leaves in the shot on the right. Despite the seemingly endless opportunities and inspiration the place provides it really is time for me to put some order into the pictures I've made there. Even if I carry on visiting and photographing the place. What kind of order that might be is what's stopping me. I should edit the 600+ frames down to 200 or so, then whittle those down into a coherent set of 50-100. What I could then do with them once whittled is anyone's guess!

The Vintage Village series continues on it's whimsical way. I still can't decide if it's 'serious' or just a bit of fun. Trawling car boot sales and charity shops for old frames and making 'aged' prints to go in them is the kind of thing an art student would do. Which is why I'm reluctant to do it myself!

These 'vintage pictures often come from the rejects from my more self-consciously serious picture taking walks around the village. Trying to find things, and ways of photographing them, which will build up to a picture of how I see the place, without avoiding the obvious views, is a challenge I enjoy.

Making the church spire a small element in a picture was one way of including a village landmark in a less than obvious way. Another, which I'm not entirely certain of, was to photograph the modern Catholic church so that it was out of focus while the spindly sapling was sharp. Not a very original concept, but the result was moderately pleasing. Although maybe a lower angle might have been better. Damn those creaking knees...

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