Monday, 31 August 2020

A late catch up

The longer I leave it between posts the more I forget what I've been up to! The weather has continued to be a bit flaky with a couple of warm sunny days followed by a return to wet, and falling temperatures as autumn gets closer.

On one of the sunny days I revisited the pumpkins and got a slightly better picture, aided both by the light and a longer lens.

Elsewhere I made more pictures of the sodden fields and the effects of the rain and wind.

Another morning I tried to make a picture of two of the old working tractors but couldn't get a good angle.

Over to my left three farmers were stood taking a break. Their presence made for a slightly better picture, but the grey tractor was still not quite right - it really needed the front end showing, at least in part.

I did get spotted taking these pics though!

Out on a damp and deserted celery field I used my 35mm lens to take some environmental portraits of a celery harvester.

Greenhouses continue to grab my attention. In time I'll end up with enough pictures of them to make a zine or something with them.

At long last I'm learning to love the 70-200. For outdoor photography where getting close to things is difficult, in the case of the moss usually because there's a ditch in the way, I'm finding it's almost perfect. I'd prefer it to be a little wider at the short end but I'm coping so far. Rather than carry a wider zoom in my bag I've settled, for now, on having a second body with a 35mm lens on it. This pairing is doing fine.

However, one evening when I was out more for the walk than the photography I took one body and the old school twosome of a 50mm and a 28mm. It didn't hold me back.

In fact I was surprised how 'wide' the 50mm felt at times. As the sun set I decided to walk back home through habitation in the vain hope I might get some 'night time' shots (by under exposing) for an idea I've got. I was a bit early for that but I did make a couple of pictures with the moon in view. One of which I like quite a bit right now.

The next day it was out earlyish and more of the same old wet land pictures.

I also tried to get improve on my representation of the flattened cereal crops. I think this one is close to what I've been searching for.

On a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday I did some work, listened to some cricket, ten popped out towards sunset, heading merewards for a change of scenery. Out there the sandier soil was drier and some harvesting had been done. I was a bit late arriving to make the most of the rapidly changing light.

Monday morning and it was back to more familiar ground. And more of the same old stuff, just different vegetables.

Walking the flatlands gives me plenty of time to think. But that was this morning and now I've forgotten what I was thinking about!

It was actually about the reason I manage to keep interested in taking photographs. Like everyone I lose my mojo at times, but I know the only way to get it back is to take photos. One reason, I suspect, that a lot of hobbyist/amateur photographers get despondent is that they are not broadly enough interested in photography. They only want to take pictures of the genre/s they operate within. These seem very proscribed to me.

Having been mildly obsessed with photographing sheep dog trials, auction marts and sheep shows for the last couple of years I could easily have become despondent when the Covid-19 situation stopped that for me. But as I'm interested in making pictures all I had to do was keep on snapping until another identifiable subject captured my imagination.

Therein lies the secret. I can make pictures of pretty much anything because I'm interested in how cameras make pictures of the world around me as much as I am in documenting it. I'm not sure a lot of people have that fascination for the medium itself.

Anyway, every now and then I do show an interest in the technical side of photography which a lot of amateurs seem to enjoy. When I read on the photography forum I frequent that the software I'd recently bought was able to do focus stacking (shows how much interest I had in researching it's capabilities...) I thought I'd try it out as it could be useful for my business photos of rods and other bits of tackle. Until now I'd always gone for the 'arty' shallow focus look when photographing rods close up. But only because I couldn't get any more of the rods in focus!

Today I dug out the tripod and DIY table. I even made an effort to modify the light by placing a diffuser by the window to soften the sunlight and a reflector opposite that to bounce in some fill. With the camera locked down I took a number of shots focusing at different points along the rods then stacked them using the software. All very painless and pretty effective. Plenty good enough for my needs. I'll probably never do it again though!

Sunday, 23 August 2020

A slow week

It's been a week of work and weather restricting my outings. Sunday I went out late, not expecting much for the meanygate project and got sidetracked almost straight away by a flock of starlings perching on a pylon. As chance had it I'd taken a longish zoom with me so I made some graphic compositions before they gradually departed. By walking slowly I managed to get closer and closer to the birds.

Taking advantage of the lack of work I made some close ups of a celery harvester. Visual punctuation for the project is how I think of this sort of thing.

Monday morning I walked to the Post Office and took a detour to see what was going on where some greenhouses had been demolished. I'm none the wiser as to why they have gone, but I got a couple of pics which I cropped to 5:4 for some reason.

Tuesday tea time there was rumblings of thunder. I took a chance and got the car out. The rain hit when I was walking out to the moss, so I turned back and went for a drive. This got me away from the rain and provided some distant views of passing downpours in the distance. The light effect was quite something. I'm not sure why I only took my 50mm lens...

Even looking behind me there was something. For all the frames I shot I made unusual crops for me.


Wednesday I went to see how things were drying out which made for an interesting comparison photo for one I've posted previously.

Another look today after a downpour last night showed that the drying had been reversed. It must be frustrating and annoying for the growers.


An inconsequential photograph really, but it serves to illustrate something that wouldn't have been seen years ago. Pumpkins. The Americanisation of Halloween has seen these gourds replacing the turnips we used to make lanterns out of 'when I was a lad'. It's something I shall try to make better pictures of as they reach maturity.

Whenever I get a chance I like to photograph tractors. Particularly older ones which are still in use. One day I might do something more about them as a subject.

Another distraction on a walk out to the moss one morning was the goal posts on the playing field. It's not often there are nets left on them. When they are it can make for interesting abstracts, which the posts can on their own. I always seem to prefer black and white conversions for this sort of picture. Maybe because it reminds me of photographing goal posts on film back in prehistory?

Also on the monochrome theme I decided to get a dummy copy of my complete poultry book printed. It wouldn't be the same format, but the pictures would be the same size as I'm intending. I thought having a hard copy to look at would give me a better idea of how various pictures looked at certain sizes, how the sequencing worked, and how the book 'felt' as an object.

Doing it in black and white cut the cost by over 50% which made the small outlay worthwhile. A day and a half of fiddling with the sequencing, removing a few pictures and replacing some others and I'm fairly happy with where I'm at now. There are just over 100 pictures across 88 pages. So it's a fairly chunky thing. All that's left to do is write a few paragraphs as an acknowledgement page and an unwaffley introduction. This will only run to a few hundred words for the two, but will probably take me a week to write, rewrite, scrap and start again!

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Busy week

Nothing much to say about the latest ventures forth with cameras. I thought the water would have drained off the field path when I went out on Thursday morning. But it hadn't. I went over my boots and did most of the five miles with wet feet. As it was red hot I didn't notice and the boots soon dried out when I got home.

The moss was still wet in places, as it remains today (Saturday), but the water levels had subsided.

In one place the fine, peaty soil had been washed down the slope like a miniature landslip, engulfing some small lettuce plants and making the sort of patterns seen on beaches after an ebbing tide.

Friday I went out late to avoid the heat and to see if I could get any mossland sunset pictures. On my way there I took a picture of a grid set in grooved concrete. I have no idea why. Looking at it back home it plays tricks on me. The outwardly radiating grooves messing with my mental image of the perspective and making it look more like it's a ceiling than a floor!

The sunset proved troublesome. The clouds did a disappearing act as the sun got lower. There being little in the way of foreground interest in the flatlands to make a picture I went elsewhere. The last few degrees of sunset last no time at all and I was lucky to find something to put in front of it when I drove out to the sheep farm. I still managed to make a bit of a hash of the exposures and haven't really captured the look of the scene as I remember it.

This morning I was up bright and early, and for once the clouds didn't close in after I'd had my breakfast. The field path was dry, although the grass damp from dew. Four crows were perched preening on a pylon and I made a few of my new style wildlife pictures of them.

The low sun helped with this shot of celery, providing just the right sort of light.The damp soil being dark enough to provide good contrast with the well lit leaves.

Elsewhere I went for more close up and detailed pictures, making a few of lettuce under midge netting and stacks of crates which reminded me of tower blocks.

While greenhouse pictures aren't yet a project I do still take them. One day thy might all hang together, or give me the nudge to make a concerted effort to pursue a greenhouse projects.

With some work done after lunch I bit the bullet and returned to editing my poultry book. After two hours solid my head was spinning and I had to take a break. I was finding gaps which needed filling as the editing process had developed a flow to the pictures which required more of some themes I hadn't originally considered worth including.

Something else which has become apparent is that I'm going to have to find a way to make a hard copy proof. A cheap print, in black and white, from Doxdirect might be the way to do that. At around 90 pages it would not only take ages on my home printer but use up a lot of ink. An A4 or even A5 saddle stitched proof would be less hassle.

I'll tackle it again tomorrow to fill some gaps then sit on it for a day or two before proofing one way or another.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Rolling thunder

The preoccupation with the mossland continues. Sundays don't see as much work going on in the fields so I took advantage of that and got in closer to some things I'd photographed from a distance earlier. Revisiting subjects often makes me see them differently and a slightly lower viewpoint for these stacked trays and pallets made for a stronger picture than my previous attempt. I also shifted position so as to hide stuff in the background which I had included before.

Waste and discarded veg is part and parcel of the cutting process. Quality demands have to be met to prevent rejection further along the supply chain. At least at this point it can be ploughed back in.

The following day I only managed to get out in the afternoon hoping to beat the rain which was forecast for the evening. It was a hot day so I set off without a jumper or jacket. There was work going on near the celery field, including some cultivation. This gave me a chance to photograph 'waste' being returned to the soil. I pictured this in suggested and literal ways.

On the other side of the track was a gang of field workers cutting lettuce. I was going to avoid photographing them but they waved, made photographing gestures and hammed it up for the camera! This made me wonder if there is a cultural attitude difference between where they come from and the UK when it comes to being photographed by strangers. It cheered me up though.

A few minutes after photographiong the workers it began to rain. Only light but there was more blowing my way. I took shelter for a few minutes before deciding to take the shortest route home.

Later that night the rain arrived with a vengeance in a long lasting and spectacular thunderstorm. It was all over my daybreak and I was determined to go and see if the moss had suffered as much as my flooded garden.

I chose not to walk through the field I usually do knowing that the ditch alongside the path can overflow. With two roads flooded across as I drove out I suspected I'd made a wise decision.

Fields were indeed underwater. Photographing them wasn't easy as most were in places where I had the sun in my face but I still managed to make some pictures which show submerged crops and the look of the land after heavy rain.

Walking past where the field path comes out on the meanygates I saw that it would have required wellies at least to make my way out, maybe even waders! Even if it had been passable the vegetation which has to be walked through would have been wet enough to soak my legs.

By the time I was nearing my car the sun was shining hotly. With no wind it made for a serene picture of a flooded lawn looking like a large ornamental pond in front of one of the moss bungalows.