Thursday, 23 January 2020

A flip-through test

Video isn't my strong point so this was a spur of the moment experiment before it got dark enough to go and take some photographs for a new project. Next time I'll get the lighting and focus sorted better.




Sunday, 19 January 2020

Faffing about - again

Gradually the daylight hours are increasing. As this is most noticeable at the end of the day it means a greater chance to snatch a bit of time in the afternoon. A bit of sunshine also helps. And that was what came together on Friday. My intention was to go to the beach again, but when I got there it was deserted. Not surprising considering the strong, cold wind that was blowing.

Plan B was to wander into the dunes to see if I could spot the Red Poll cattle doing the winter conservation grazing. They were not in sight as I passed through the gate but I hadn't gone far when one came towards me through a dip in the path. More followed. They were on a mission to visit the water trough and mineral lick bucket. I let them go on their way and carried on. More of the herd were in sight, munching merrily away. I tried to get some scene setting pictrues but they didn't amount to much so I headed to the pen by the gate where the trough is.



Having gone armed with the do-it-all lens I was able to get some close ups as well as wider shots. While it isn't a lens to impress the shallow depth of field fiends or the critical sharpness at 100% nerds it does a good enough job for me. The low sun made for a warnmth to the light but I'm not sure if a slightly cooler white balance might be more accurate.



With the sun sinking lower I went back for another look at the cattle still grazing to see if I could get some atmospheric backlit shots. The animals wouldn't wander anywhere nice and always seemed to manage to hide behind at least one stem of grass.


After an hour of cow pestering the light was falling below the dunes and I headed home. The forecast was for more sunshine on Saturday and I had ideas. Ideas which came to nothing as it there had been a frost on high ground and the wind chill was unbearable. While I did venture out of the car the best sheep pictures I got were taken through an open window!



Another frosty morning didn't encourage me to venture out early today. It was only when a mist descended that I thought it might be worth taking the tripod to the wood. On the way there I crossed the playing field and remembered pictures taken there in similar conditions long, long ago. Maybe that's why I converted one to black and white?


The wood wasn't misty enough, and the mist soon began to lift. It really wasn't worth the effort. I must try harder to stick to my resolution of not trying to 'do landscape' photography.


Or if I do do landscape photography do it my way. F|rozen puddles and maize stalks. That's more like it.


Back home in next to no time I dropped my tripod on the concrete outside my back door and smashed the locking levers off the geared head. Bloody tripods. I hates 'em! After lunch I was in two minds about going out again to the marsh. When I did eventually make my mind up I forgot the camera. What made me return and pick it up then set off again I dunno. A combination of boredom and sunshine I think.

This was a half-hearted attempt to add to the sheep files. It's always hit and miss. Nothing of great significance was achieved but maybe something that will come in useful.




By the end of the month there may be less of a temptation to pop out on these pointless afternoon jaunts for the last hour of daylight as there'll be more time to spend fishing after lunch. If I don't get myself into a juicy project soon the camera gear will have to be drastically thinned out. taking pointless pictures is like catching small fish all the time when you are after big ones. Dispiriting and a bit boring.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

A short project

Nothing stays the same for long in the countryside, farmed or not there are seasonal changes almost every day if you look for them. That's why carrying a camera when walking familiar routes can still turn up something new. That was the case when I found the ditches at the far end of my local wood had been recently dredged. How I managed to get the horizon wonky I don't know. It has my usual lean to it! It's another one for the 'Waterlogged' files.


Although I am trying to avoid aimless trips out with a camera frustration with work got the better of me on Friday and I had to escape. As it was I stumbled across the first lambs of the year looking to be a week or two old. Not for the first time walking up to the field gate fooled them into thinking I was the bringer of food. Cute, but nothing more.


Still feeling ambivalent about the sheep dog scene I waited for the day to brighten before deciding a visit to a trial was a better option than wasting  Saturday doing anything else. The rain held off and the light was almost reasonable. It was another case of not really 'feeling it' but finding a few half decent pictures on my return home from a reduced count compared to earlier sessions. I was that demotivated I set my tripod up and shot some video for a change! The full, but slimmed down, gallery can be seen here.




A week previously I went for a longish walk, taking a camera but going for the sake of the exercise and fresh air. On my travels I passed two neglected ponds which made me think of a couple others I know. So the following day I took the tripod and went to look at those with the intention of photographing all four. I've tried photographing these ponds (the latter two) before but with no real idea behind the pictures.

With the day being overcast it was just how I like things. There would be no harsh shadows or stark contrasts. The first pond was quite open and I made a few pictures from a couple of vantage points. Not that I was too enamoured of them.


The second pond was much more overgrown. The field side being entirely surrounded by willow scrub. On the road side there was an opening. I made most of my pictures from that gap.


My intention to visit the other ponds was thwarted by rain arriving. It wasn't until today that I was able to go for a look. Again the big problem was finding a clear view.


The final pond has no clear view from the path so that was a struggle. Deciding on framing the shots was a big problem with all four ponds as it depends on what I was trying to show. That still isn't clear in my head. It never is with 'landscape' pictures. At least that's the project done now. maybe I'll learn the lesson that 'landscape' isn't my thing and stop trying it.



Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Resolution time

How long it'll last is anybody's guess, but I'm going to try to stick to my resolution to only take a camera out when I have something firmly in mind to photograph. Excepting taking one with me when I'm going in to town or walking around locally as in both cases I have little projects trundling along when I do that. To kick 2020 off I had two plans in mind. One was a bit half-baked involving tripods and macro lenses. The sort of stuff I don't really like. Thankfully that got ditched before I got anywhere close to the location I was heading for. However there was somewhere I'd stumbled across on the interwebs which I almost went to the other day, but didn't. It involved a route which would take me past a couple of places I have stopped off at for aimless wandering. Could I resist the temptation?

Sort of. I pulled over at a lay-by to have a bite to eat. When I got out of the car to stretch my legs I spotted some Lonks. Maybe a chance for a sheepscape. When I approached them on the public footpath through their field the lambs (or are they hoggs now?) approached me. They must have thought I was a bringer of food! It gave me an opportunity for some sheepy portraits. When three stopped and posed it was impossible to resist the near symmetry.


With Lonks photographed and food eaten it was on the road again. The usual stopping off points were packed with people. That's what New Year's day and sunshine do. This was a blessing in disguise as it meant I wasn't tempted to join the throng and I carried on to my intended target. Which turned out to be deserted. Of course by the time I got there the sun had disappeared. For photographing the outside of the church this was not ideal, although bright sunshine wouldn't have been any better.



Inside it was another matter. Diffuse light was just right for photographing stained glass windows. After taking a series of shots I wasn't satisfied with the results using available light. The windows were fine, but they were outlined in blackness. I turned to the lighting gurus' hated option. The pop-up flash of my camera. I'm no lighting expert but I knew enough to knock the flash power back a bit. One stop, in fact. This did the trick.



Ideally I'd have used a tripod to enable me to drop the ISO and decrease the aperture so as to get greater depth of focus for when I came top correct the verticals in Lightroom. I'd also have taken more care over framing to allow for the cropping which vertical correction entails. I might even have bracketed shots to allow some exposure blending in post. But for a first, down and dirty, attempt at this sort of thing I was quite pleased. I made a grid of the pairs of windows.


After I'd done my processing I thought I'd google 'how to photograph stained-glass windows'. The pages the search threw up showed examples which were worse than mine. None recommended the use of flash. I'll take Frank Sinatra's advice if I do this again!

Leaving the church I thought I'd try to set the scene of its location. This wasn't easy and the grey sky didn't help much either. I got some record shots which I may try to improve on at some point.



I guess this adventure counts as sticking to my first photographic resolution. The second one will be harder to adhere to as it means going way out of my comfort zone. If (big if) I manage to even partially maintain my resolve it should make a real difference to my photographic output. Breath not to be held...


Saturday, 28 December 2019

Round and round

As it's not New Year quite yet I have been ignoring my resolution and photographing the same old stuff in the same old places. Wet fields and a sheep dog trial.


I guess it's the old story of hoping to get a picture or two which are improvements on, or different to, pictures already in the files. Slim pickings so far.


It was a cold and miserable day at the trial and I was almost on autopilot. After a longish shower the standard zoom stopped auto-focussing. I went back to my car to change lenses in the dry and discern if it was the lens or the camera that was goosed. It was the lens which wasn't working. That meant I was stuck with 35mm on that body. Actually it makes a good companion for the 70-200mm.


As ever I found the people more interesting subjects than the dogs in action. My hierarchy of subject matter has people doing something at the top and landscapes devoid of people, animals or signs of human activity way down at the bottom.




The trouble is that when I have lots of spare time and nowhere to photograph people it's the landscape that is always available. Today I fought my battle with the landscape and ended up doing what I've done before with my quarry pictures - find a vertical, or near vertical, surface and photograph it head on to emphasise the two dimensionality. I had no tripod and had to up the ISO. However, this did ensure a shutter speed which froze the dripping water. The question now is whether to wander further down this avenue, or make more of a concerted effort to photograph people.