Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Then again...

Warm, dry weather often sees me thinking of fish rather than photographs. So 'serious' photography has been taking a back seat. However, there can be lots of idle time when trying to catch fish and I sort of have it in mind to make some serious fishing photographs some day. After sunset the other day I played around using the self timer and an LED light to try to capture some of the atmosphere of night fishing. The concept was OK, but balancing the natural light from the moon and sky with that from the LEDs was beyond me. Partly because there is only one setting for the LED, mostly because it involves a lot of faffing about and I was there primarily to fish. It's not really possible to do photography well when it doesn't command your full attention.

One thing that I do seem to be better at when I'm fishing, and probably not thinking too hard about it, is make landscape photographs. True enough I usually do so having the benefit of sunrises, sunsets and 'interesting' weather effects simply because I'm outdoors for a long time. And maybe the fact I'm not looking for landscape pictures makes me work more intuitively.

Where these photos always fall down is technically. I never have a tripod with me, so they are always taken hand-held. More often than not they are taken using a compact camera too.  They're still good exercises in looking and framing though. They are fine for the small screen, no matter what. One day I might collect the best of these fishingscapes together and make a Blurb book out of them. They should work well enough at that sort of size.

I did get out with my camera over the weekend when the sun was shining. Firstly to the village's scarecrow festival. Which proved to be a failure in terms of photography. Latter setting out with anything specific in mind which resulted in something. I've been trying to use the trees in the wood as a frame for a picture for my church project for ages. Finally I think I might have got it.

As this is the season when crops are starting to become noticeable in the fields I've been thinking of ways to picture this. I've been struck by how a field appears is dependent on where it is viewed from. What looks like a green lawn can change to a series of fine green lines when you see it from another angle. On the spur of the moment I took a series of shots from one spot and made them into a vertical strip. Again, not technically adept, but it's the idea that is the important aspect. A starting point for further photographs or a full stop? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

That didn't last long

I should have known I'd get fed up of Twitter pretty quickly. I guess I'm just not interested in what most other people are getting up to or, worse still, letting the world know what I'm doing. If people would make interesting tweets (a handful I've started to follow do) instead of mindlessly retweeting stuff that's just not very interesting, I might have more time for it. On the whole it's bollocks. The list of people I'm following grows shorter by the day and I can see the account going the way of my Facebook account - closed and not missed!

The superficiality of all this following and liking really came home to me yesterday. On Sunday I'd opened a Soundcloud account (just to see how easy it was to use to host sound files) and uploaded a couple of badly recorded tune ideas. I accidentally left one of them open for public listening. Yesterday morning someone had 'liked' it.

Apparently the tune that had been liked was #Electronic, #Trip Hop as decided by the automatic tag generator. Flickr uses something similar to label photographs if you let it. These tags then help the dreaded algorithms suggest simialr stuff for you to 'like'. I don't want to be suggested stuff to listen to or watch. All this automation is in danger of taking away people's ability to think and search for stuff themselves. It's not good for generating ideas, it'll lead to a levelling of the creative curve - in the way  idiots adjust the sliders in Lightroom to take away the shadows and highlights to create a hideous HDR look. Contrast is good - in what you look at and listen too as well as in pictures.

Rant over!

Back in the real world I've been mostly taking advantage of the warm spell and going fishing. No point trying to take photographs in bright sunshine anyway. That said I still keep on thinking about getting the tackle shops project going somewhere. especially as the local newspaper seems to think the one under threat from a supermarket development might be doomed no matter what.

It's something I could get on with most Saturdays when I try not to go fishing and which wouldn't be affected by the weather too much. maybe it'll get somewhere.

Taking a long winded walk to the Post Office the other day I was reminded that photography isn't much about cameras. It's more about looking and thinking. Looking for potential pictures and thinking about how to make them. I'm not too bad at the former, the latter is where I fall down. I'm sure there was a better picture to be made from the event below.

The element of chance also plays a big part in my photography. Taking a wrong turn the other day lead me past another eggs for sale sign. This one had the added bonus of a sign across the road for duck eggs.

Then there is the habit of repeatedly covering the same ground but keeping your eyes open rather than assuming things never change. I'd never seen eggs for sale down the lane I take at least once a week, often more frequently, until yesterday. I'd almost not taken a camera with me as I was off to the supermarket, but I had slipped a compact into a pocket.

Then this afternoon I took a winding route from the feed merchant to the tackle shop, a road I've travelled recently, and passed another roadside egg sale. This time I had put a camera in the car, but made a bad choice of lenses. I might go back to this one.

Whenever I hear people saying they are stuck for things to photograph I can't help but think they must go around with their eyes closed. Maybe that's why sunsets appeal - they're pretty hard to miss. And pretty irresistible. Especially when the fish aren't biting.

Maybe it was the sunset the listener really liked?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

I'm a twit

Being antisocial by nature (if you ever track down my mobile number I won't answer if you're number isn't in my phone book!) I'm not sure why I created a Twitter account. I think it seemed like something that might be less of an annoyance than Farcebook proved to be when I gave that a try. The plan is to use it just as a place where people I photograph might be able to track me down to see the pictures. Easier than pointing them here. I'll probably give up on it though as I like being in control of how web pages looks, and all social media sites hamstring you in that respect, and they keep telling you who you should follow or like or otherwise want to know about. As if I can't think for myself. If either of you who read this nonsense can be arsed my twitter link is I give it a month...

The start of May has brought some warm and sunny weather along. Which means my thoughts have turned to fishing. I can't resist playing around with a camera when the bites are scarce. I like pushing the boundaries of what a compact camera can do. They are far more versatile than camera snobs give them credit for. The small sensor models only really falling down in the low light/hand held stakes. And when it comes to using flash I still prefer a camera's built in unit to messing about with flashguns.

It's a bit of a cheat to call my 'good' compact a compact as the sensor is APS size, with no AA filter and a really good (fixed focal length) lens. I'm almost convinced that it makes sharper pictures than my DSLRs!

'Serious' photography has had to wait until today when the poultry club held its annual egg show. More lessons were learned. I fiddled with the auto white balance which made a big difference, as did moving out of matrix metering mode and using centre weighted. That's not to say I didn't make my customary selection of technical errors. Too slow a shutter speed gave me camera shake when I had sufficient light to have easily avoided it for one thing.

Although I messed up some shots I wanted I did manage to get some new looks at the poultry world as this time I concentrated on the judging. A deadly serious business.

I've changed my way of working over the last two or three shows and have been using my mid-range zoom instead of two fixed lenses. It has advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side it means I can react quicker if something happens suddenly, on the negative side I think it is a partial reason for the camera shake. At 50mm I can hand hold down to 1/30th with confidence, but at the long end of the zoom (which is only 70mm) that's dodgy and I need 1/125th to be safe because the lens is heavy.

One thing is for certain, it's easier to take un-posed pictures of people when they are engrossed in something than when they are self-consciously aware of your presence. And the pictures are, to my eye, more interesting than posed pictures.

Once more there is a gallery of pictures - which can be found here.