Wednesday, 27 May 2020

An experiment

As promised, some zine news!

Selling self-published fishing books isn't a problem for me, I have a pre-existing market I can tap into, but talking people into buying books of my photographs is another matter! Up until now I've made zines and Blurb books for my own amusement and to give away to those who appear in them or who have been kind enough to let me take pictures at their events by way of thanks and because I think pictures need to be printed and shared.

The printing costs have always made them work out a bit expensive if postage and even a small profit margin is added on. Having been put on to a different printer, however, costs have come down enabling a better value offering to be produced. How I'm going to promote and market this first zine remains to be seen. I guess hitting the dreaded social media will have to be done. In the first instance here is a flip through video - which will give me an idea if anyone other than myself reads this blog!

In anticipation of a sales rush I have set up a page on my photography site where the wonderful publication can be purchased which can be found here!

Back in the real world rather than my fanciful imagination work has again curtailed my roaming with a camera. I might only have managed a couple of evening walks taking 'experimental' camera gear with me, not expecting to see much, but I came back with some worthwhile additions to the files. Or ones which have given me ideas to work on.

The first time I went out on a still windy evening with a long zoom and the Panasonic and it's standard zoom. The small camera was a sort of fallback option in case the longer lens proved useless. As it turned out both options came in useful. The only downside to the micro 4/3 system being the small sensor's woeful performance in low light and lack of dynamic range shooting into the setting sun. With bright sun behind me the results from it were perfectly fine.

The second wander saw me taking just the 50mm lens on the big camera with my backup being the expensive (at brand new price) compact with its 28mm equivalent lens. The compact didn't get much use but when it did the sensor gave a nicer look than the m4/3 under similar light conditions.

This picture still baffles me as to what made me take it. I'm not sure it fits in the project either.

More of the usual. Again. But showing a partially harvested crop. Which makes it different.

Unlike this picture which doesn't add much but I like.

Finally a second try at something under different light to the first go. I shot quite a few frames of this but didn't quite nail it. I got half way there with two. Should have been midway between them I think.

I'm still enjoying this project, still finding new things to photograph and still having to think about what I'm doing. The time might be coming when I start breaking it up into sub-projects based on types of pictures or subjects. Finding details to use as punctuation could well be added to the agenda.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Pandering to the crowd?

I guess people have either got used to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 situation or are remembering what used to be normal. Whatever the case work has picked up, limiting my time to get out and about. Even so I have managed some short sessions wandering the meanygates. There's a lot of the same old stuff, but sometimes a day or two can change things enough to make comparison pictures.

I find that there often comes a point when I'm starting to repeat myself that I break out of the rut and begin to see different pictures of the familiar things. Sometimes all it takes is a change of viewpoint.

While there were a few people about when I started my meanderings since the crops have been planted, and my walks have shifted more to evenings, they have thinned down a bit when I've been out and about. That changed when one farmer on his 56 year old tractor stopped for a chat.I learned a lot about what I've been photographing. For one thing not all the crop coverings are the same.

While I first thought the photograph below was nothing more than a record snap, and it wasn't posed, the more I look at it the more it seems to be a bit more than a snap. Or maybe I'm deluding myself. I was lucky with the light, and I managed to get my shadow out of frame

That was Tuesday. It wasn't until today, Friday, that I managed to get out again. This time I took the car to retrace my tracks from a morning trip out on errands to photograph the dust storm which the 40mph winds were stirring up from the dry land. It was horrible to be out in the dust, the tiny particles being just as bad as wind whipped sand. The fine particles were getting in my eyes and I couldn't bear it for more than a few minutes. My pictures were pretty poor as a result. But they still tell the tale I think, even if they are not what I had envisaged.

Mean while on Twitter I have been posting occasional pics from the past. I mostly concentrate on sheep pictures, and being fed up of a constant diet of Herdwicks, Swaledales and Rough Fells from the people I follow I found a Whitefaced Woodland picture which I cropped. For some reason it proved popular. I know full well that interwebby 'likes' don't mean a picture is great, but this got more likes than I have followers. Which isn't saying a lot but there must be something about it people find pleasing.

And finally...

It's zine time again. Watch this space!

Friday, 15 May 2020

Seeing again

With travel for recreation restrictions lifted I thought I'd go look for some local sheep to give me a break from my current project obsession. I knew where there'd been some sheep last time I'd been out in the car and planned to make a circular tour of the area to see what else I might find, The bloody sheep were nowhere to be seen! I went home and did some work.

Itching to do something I packed the superzoom and went for a walk at the quietest time - tea time. Taking a slightly different route to my usual I saw there had been some changes. First of all a bird-scaring kite within photographic range. I spent some time trying to make a picture of it, but it never quite felt right.

New crops planted made for a variation on my 'horizontal strip' series within a project.

And a variation on the 'vertical division' series was added.

More interestingly irrigation had started. Various framings and angles were tried. I keep being drawn back to dead centre subject placement, although wider, angled, views have their place as part of the story telling.

But how to frame the central subject - large or small?

It's not just hose reels that can be stuck in the centre.

Small changes to the area, perhaps, but I felt like they had made some contribution to the project as a whole. Reviewing the pictures I've added to the gallery I can see that the earlier ones are looking out of place, particularly the few of people at work. This makes me think that there are at least two ways to approach the overall project. One as 'landscape' photographs and the other as 'people' photographs. There may be a way to present them together. Or maybe not.

For a change I returned home through the wood. Usually I just want to get back as fast as possible, but I was in the mood for a wander as there weren't any dog walkers about. I try to steer clear of the clich├ęd shots, but a clump of bluebells illuminated by a shaft of evening sunlight was hard to resist. hard to photograph with the superzoom too as it kept missing focus in the gloom. A bit of contrast fiddling on the computer and there you have it.

This morning I set out with two photographs in mind. Nothing exciting, just two improvements to make to earlier 'record shots' with the sun in a better place. I got the first one no problem. Carried on a few more hundred yards. Stopped to photograph a gate. Why gates I dunno. Turned to carry on and felt a sharp pain in my right foot. Something had twisted. I tried to walk it off but it wouldn't. So I hobbled back to the car. Until I can walk without a limp the project is on hold!

Monday, 11 May 2020


Walking the same ground was starting to get to me, so I set off on a different route last Tuesday. Photographically it proved less than fruitful. Still, where there's a traffic cone there's a picture!

Wednesday I saved my walk until evening back on the old circuit. I didn't go too far though and messed around taking rubbish pretty pictures. When I saw the full moon rising over the wood in a cloudless sky I was tempted to try a minimalist kind of picture. It looked okay in colour at 3:2 but I went for the Ansel Adams look with a 5:4 crop and a monochrome conversion. It probably needs a bit more fiddling. I'm not sure if it's a touch too dark as it stands.

Having been unimpressed with the evening light the following day I went out after lunch, taking the 28-300 to see if that made any more sense as a one lens solution to the mosslands. As expected it worked well.

I certainly preferred the higher sun which reduced shadow length. Quite why early and late is recommended for landscape photography mystifies me. While the warm glow might be attractive I find there is too much dark shadow to contend with.

The horizontal strip approach is still ongoing. This might make a series within the overall project.

Another set within a set possibility is the vertical, dividing, centre line.

Some pictures rely on converging lines. These three picture structures might work as grids. I like grids!

While I continue to have these vague ideas in mind I still look for other ways to show what the landscape is like, and how it is used. Sometimes this is with detail type pictures.Although I am open to slightly unusual viewpoints I am trying to steer clear of pictures which look contrived in order to appeal to photographers.

I am also trying to go full circle to making better efforts at the kind of picture I started out taking before I got attuned to a way of seeing. The straightforward record type of picture which lacks any pretension at working as formal image in its own right (a 'good photograph') but which contains information about what takes place.

After trying the superzoom I had a couple of short walks with an ultrawide option. First time it was the 20mm, which I kept swapping for the standard zoom. Then I dug out the 18-35, which mostly got used at the longer end. Overall I've decided that the 24-85 range is where I'm at for this project. And for most things in all honesty. Although there are times when 300mm comes in useful for any project. It may seem boring to use such a standard lens, but it does make pictures that look like how I see the world. I think I might have said something similar before...

Ultrawides are good for when space is tight. Long lenses are good for when things are far away. Most of the time neither of those criteria apply!

All this landscapery is fine and dandy. But I am really missing the human element in the pictures. Despite trying to show that human intervention takes place I'd really like a few more people in the pictures. Which is slightly problematic in these days of social distancing.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Big skies

Although work has started to come in I've been putting off starting it this week with the weather remaining fair. After a day of light rain I wondered if the moss would look different the next day and went for a look. Not much had changed save the sky being a more normal cloudy grey instead of a uniform bright blue.

In an attempt to change the way I looked at things I'd taken a longer zoom out with me on my previous walk and used it mostly at the shorter end of the range So it was back to the 'boring' mid-range lens. It reflects the way we mostly see the world, I think, which is why I seem to circle back to using it. Sometimes I wish it was a little longer, but mostly I don't.

For the most part I stuck with the front on approach with a centralised subject or near-symmetrical composition. This seems to fit the way I see the landscape here, and the architecture.

A few days later the sunshine had returned along with fluffy clouds. This was bound to change the way the moss looked. There would, however, be a strong temptation to photograph the big skies. I soon gave in to it.

I also soon realised that the sky isn't the subject of this project. The land is. While I was still taking the straight-on pictures I thought it was time to try other angles. I wasn't convinced that it was working. Either I need to do it more to get a handle on how to do it well, or not bother as they results  looked a bit to forced to me.

I went back to plan A.

As is so often the case when I visit places repeatedly I repeat photographs. I'm sure I don't do it intentionally. However, one instance when compared with an earlier shot pointed up how even  a short space of time can see subtle but significant changes to a scene. It's unlikely I'll make any more versions of it, but you never know. It could make an interesting series.
With all the walking I've been doing I was in need of a less taxing route today and I ended up at the playing field where I've taken loads of pictures of the pavilion over the years. For once I managed to make something a bit different from the norm.

Knuckling down to work this week might see bigger changes out on the moss when I get a chance to return. If nothing else some crops should have grown on a bit.