Friday, 8 May 2015

All work

It's not for lack of motivation that I've been neither writing here or taking photographs but an unseasonable amount of work (and a bit of fishing, which is sort of work for me)  that's been occupying my time. In fact I've got a few things I'd like to be doing photographically.

I tried to add to my collection of church pictures during a sunny period. The trouble is that when I make a conscious effort to take pictures for the series they look forced. The one that didn't look that way was messed up by my laziness - and the lies that a camera's rear screen tells. When looking at the whole frame the small screen size gives a greater apparent depth of field than a larger screen or print does. That meant my wide aperture shot looked okay at the time I took it, but not okay back home. No problem, the light would be the same the following day. Which it was. This time I messed up by going out a couple of hours later - and the previously raking light that had shown texture on a wall was hitting it straight on and flattening the features. Since then either the sun hasn't shone or I've been otherwise engaged.

On a whim one evening I took the fisheye to the woods to try and get some bluebell pictures. The wood doesn't have vast carpets of these spring flowers which usually attract photographers of a certain bent at this time of year, just odd scraggy clumps of feral looking, rather than wild, plants.

I hedged my bets and took a standard zoom with me too. Which worked okay. None of my efforts were really satisfying though. I'm not cut out for this sort of thing. I seem to need hard edges to make pictures I like.

Hard edges can be found anywhere in the built environment. I even find them at home when the light plays on the walls. Why people have to travel far and wide to be inspired to take photos has always baffled me. Fair enough f there's something specific you want to record, but if you're primairly interested in making pictures anywhere will do.

This one even works in black and white. One day I might gather some of the photographs I've taken round the house together to see what they look like.

Parochiality is part of my Sandgrounding 'project', an eclectic collection of photographs of things that have caught my eye in Southport which may or may not come to an end when it hits the 500th post in the not too distant future. What a lot of the pictures have in common is a focus on the banal and a lack of composition. This approach appeals to me greatly as I become less and less interested in 'good photographs', which is why one of the latest additions to my groaning bookshelves has become a current favourite. An unpretentious gathering of pictures of things, dull or humorous, seen around Britain by The Caravan Gallery in their book extra{ordinary}. Some of the pictures will make camera geeks freak out, but I think a picture of an Afghan hound in a shell suit is worth including even if it does look like it was taken with a very poor compact camera made a decade ago!

One of the benefits of having a number of loose projects on the go, or at least in the back of my mind, is that I can grab shots to use in them at any time. Although sometimes it is much better to go out with the intention of making pictures for a specific project. My biggest problem is that my mind works in peculiar ways and keeps on finding new things to make series of pictures of or about. The latest one is a narrowing down of my pictures of mobility scooters. Quite why I started taking these photographs is a mystery. I think it had something to do with Southport being overrun by the things. Recently I've begun to notice how frequently their owners park them outside pubs. The idea of being drunk in charge of a mobility scooter appeals to my sense of humour!

On a technical note I've discovered that putting a faster SD card in my compact camera has speeded it up when shooting raw. It used to lock up for quite a time while each file was being written, making it useless for reacting quickly. Now I find it far more useful. So the camera has become my choice for wandering round town when I have nothing specific in mind. Another breakthrough has been to keep the shutter speed up by using the widest aperture. Although that is pretty fast, in combination with the small sensor depth of field remains large enough for street shooting, and using face detection either detects faces or the closest object. All in all it makes grabbing shots quickly practical and effective. The camera also goes in a jacket pocket. This camera has also become my favourite for my fishing blog. Not least because of the flippy screen that makes low level shots a cinch. When I'm not catching anything (all too often the case these days) I bugger about with the camera. For blogging purposes I'm finding the 9:16 ratio useful. That's my excuse for the B&W 'street' shot being in that aspect ratio as I'd left the camera stuck in that mode, and in jpeg...

Where the camera falls down is dynamic range and shadow detail. Even crop sensor DSLR photos seem to be 'richer' to my eyes. You can't have everything in a camera - yet...

Back on the project front I have a 'big idea' that I might just get under way and even complete. Budding authors are often advised to write about what they know. So I'm thinking hard about photographing what I know. I've done some ground work, begun writing a plan (!!!!) and shot a few trial photographs. I think it might work. Part of the plan involves me leaving my comfort zone. Which is kind of worrying, but kind of exciting too. I'm keeping everything under wraps for the time being until I have gathered my thoughts about it more fully. In the meantime I'm sure I'll stumble across a few more mobility scooters, catch a glimpse of the church, and photograph a few more lost balls. So many daft ideas, too much real work to stop me carrying them out!

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