Life this week has been interrupted a bit by the birth of our first grandchild: Della arrived on Sunday morning, and everyones been telling me that Ive got a free model for the next few years. Its been a while since Ive had much practice photographing babies, and it ought to be so much easier with digital than it was with film.
When my children were small, 1000 ISO was pushing it: 10 times that is easily achievable these days, and a modern auto focus system with eye recognition should make life a lot simpler! Best of all, Im neither responsible for getting up in the middle of the night to feed Della, nor do I have had a job to get in the way.
Im inspired by a lot of my Ephotozine friends who have posted beautiful, evocative portraits of their grandchildren: Im particularly indebted to Roy (kaybee) who is probably my oldest friend on here. Roy took exception advantage of the photographic opportunities his grandchildren have offered, and Ill be doing well if I match them.
There is one big downside though. I was never the most physically flexible photographer in the room, and it definitely takes me longer to get down onto my knees. Getting up is more a matter of the calendar than the stopwatch. But on the whole, the way is open for much photographic mischief and many photographs that I will need to print and distribute around the family.
Of course, whether you get to see any of them will be a matter of parental choice. Watch this space.
Not too far from Soham lies a fairly compact area that has basically remained unchanged for perhaps thousands of years, Wicken Fen. The National Trust have put in a small visitor centre, preserved a local cottage and there is also a cafe. The area is teeming with wildlife and apart from the open fen we have various walks, principally the boardwalk and the woodland walk. We went late afternoon and it was very pleasant too. Here’s some pictures.
One of 12 painted butterflies for the Children’s Activity Sheet!
K-1 set on Natural
K-1 set on Bright
K-1 set on Vivid
The last three images were just an experiment to see how things looked at different style settings on the Pentax K-1, especially as the light was becoming very dull. Did we need settings such as Vivid? All the other images in this blog were shot using Natural, as my pictures usually are.
One of our visits whilst we were in the Cambridge area was to Lyveden, a National Trust property. We pre-booked as requested on the website, but in fact there was little obvious need to do this as the property is secluded and not particularly busy. It was apparently more to do with restricting numbers on the access road until it has been improved enough to satisfy the Local Authority. They seem to be operating at reduced effectiveness andhad no maps to give out, relying instead on visitors taking a snapshot of the map.
That’s a shame, because the main purpose of the visit is not obvious without a map. Our intrepid explorers, Sue and Diane, prepared to negotiate the mysteries of the site, starting off in good humour.
The first place we see is actually Lyveden Manor and here we find the toilets and the cafe, and we could be forgiven for thinking that was it.
However, for those who do go on the estate walk, they will find something much more interesting, the remains of the incomplete Elizabethan Mansion. Only one side was lit, but that light was constantly changing, hence more than one image of the same viewpoint.
Having explored it inside and out, we took a rather pleasant walk around the rest of the site, including moats and woodland.
Once back at the atrt, it was time for an excellent packed lunch and then off to our next destination. Conclusion is that it was interesting, but could have been explained better.
I think I must have had quite a lot of beginner’s luck last week, because, this Sunday, I really struggled with the challenge I have set myself: square, black and white images, straight out of camera. Producing images straight out of camera is rather cruelly exposing my lack of expertise, and how much I rely on post processing to create good images. So despite taking more images, I still only finished with six that I am in the least bit confident of making public.
The pick for me was this flower. I don’t know what it is and cannot find it in any of my books of wild flowers, so I suspect it may be an escapee. Its a subject that fits the square format well, and the only post processing I would normally do is lose the additional white flowers on the left hand side.
It is strange using a square format. If I come across a subject that is clearly upright, I still rotate the camera, which with a square frame makes no difference at all! This has meant that at times, I simply could not get a good composition without cropping, which for the purposes of this blog I have renounced. But, by and large, I have found I have been using my feet far more often and getting a much tighter crop in camera than I would have done in the past.
Unfortunately, I could not get any closer to these cow parsley seed heads, because of a ditch and bramble bushes. Ideally, I would have done some gardening and got rid of the second seed head in the background. Alternatively, of course, I could have removed it in Photoshop. That is a pity, because I like the basic image.
Without post processing, I have way of mitigating extreme contrast. The swan swimming down the river could certainly do with attention to the shadows and highlights.
I find shooting monochrome is a great help in getting a good composition – it brings out the fundamental architecture of an image, which can be obscured by colours. Also in taking photographs in a green English countryside, the whole image is defined by luminosity and not colour, like this picture of bryony. A lot of the bryony I spotted was a necklace of red berries weaving through the hawthorn hedges, but without filters (which I haven’t got) they come out almost exactly the same shade of grey as the surrounding leaves and were completely lost.
The wood I walked through is on National Trust land, and has proved a prime location for den making. This particular one is one of the larger ones, and stands out well against the backlit foliage of the trees. Again, post processing, I would have cloned out the long horizontal branch.
Finally is this beech nut, which almost certainly would be better in colour. As a monochrome image, it needs work doing on the tonality. I would also clone out the bright spot in the top right, and work on the clarity and texture of the nut itself.
52 for 2021 Week 37 Dartmoor Photowalk over 2 Days
19 Sep 2021 11:07AM
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This weeks Dartmoor excursion(s) was in 2 parts. They took us first to Sharpitor Leather Tor (inc Farm and Bridge) and Black Tor plus the Falls on Tuesday, we had intended to take in Leeden Tor and Ingra Tor but ran out of time so Mrs T and I went out again on Friday to finish the walk plus get some shots along the old Princetown Railway.
On day 1 Mrs T and I were joined by our friend Jonathan, we set off from the car park below Leeden Tor out over Sharpitor on to Peek Hill.
The views as always on the high moor were fantastic but today they were marred by haze and low cloud. Leather Tor with Sheeps Tor in the distance.
Sharpitor is a very rocky Tor but has very interesting rock formations.
This Crow posed for me nicely.
There were good views of Burrator Reservoir from Peek Hill.
On to Leather Tor which is massive and would need several hours exploring to do it justice.
We didnt have the time for a full exploration as we were headed for the old Farm and Bridge. The way off Leather Tor was along a well marked path that seemed little used so we had to do a bit of Fern bashing to get through.
Eventually we arrived at Leather Tor Farm (ruins), it seems that they were vacated to facilitate the construction of Burrator Reservoir.
From there it was just a short walk to the Bridge where we took a lunch break.
After Leather Tor Bridge we set off through Raddick Plantation destined for Black Tor Falls via the Devenport Leat.
The Aqueduct was our jump off point.
Once at Black Tor Falls I set up the Bronica SQ-Ai in the hopes of getting some Pano shots on Fuji Provia 100.
I was looking for something like these (shot on the Fuji X-T2 as well as the film, film is not back from developing yet)
After the Falls we headed up the Tor in search of its Logan Stone.
On this trip we did see ponies.
We then headed back to the cars as it was getting late for Jonathans drive back to Cornwall.
Mrs T and I decided to go back out on Friday to get the rest of the planned shots plus some interesting sights on the old Princetown Railway (now a Cycle Track/Footpath).
We started out from the same car park but went North up Leeden Tor through the settlements.
From here we went up to the main Tor.
Once again the views were stunning from the high ground.
From Leeden Tor it is a fairly easy walk down to Ingra Tor.
Ingra Tor has what looks like a small quarry but it could well be a natural feature.
From here we went down to the old Railway.
When it was a railway track, it would not have been easy to drive stock across therefore there seem to be bridges to facilitate this (since there is no discernible track to or away from this one.
What appears to be a track peters out quickly on both sides.
Water also needs to get under the track.
It must have taken some engineering to build the railway track, there are plenty of areas where they had to either dig through or build up to keep a reasonably level track.
Up towards Swelltor Quarries there is an old stopping point and you can see the old platform. There are several ruins in this area, presumably buildings for the many workers for the nearby Quarries (Swelltor and Foggintor).
Thats all for this week folks, as always comments welcome.
There are some interesting markings on some of the negatives that I developed on Friday but I think I know how they happened. Its to do with being sixty years old and needing new and I do mean the camera and not me.
As you can see from the picture of the back of the camera the curtains are a little rippled: the view of the inside of the camera shows a sort of crackle finish, which is, I think the rubberised coating on the cloth curtain hardening and cracking.
And how did I reach this conclusion? Well, one of the peculiarities of the Exakta Varex IIa is that it doesnt have an instant return mirror. Therefore the shutter curtains are exposed to more light than in most cameras if you dont wind on immediately after each picture. And those who are used to older cameras will remember the general advice not to leave shutters cocked because it may weaken the spring mechanism.
It was then quite easy to check a few of the dodgy frames and establish that the speckling is in the same places in every frame. The frames affected are the ones where the camera had not been used for a while. The speckling is worst when the camera havent been used for some time, and was lightest when it had been left for just a few minutes after the previous frame.
Its the first time Id ever had a camera suffering from deterioration of the blinds: it doesnt arise these days because rubberised silk has been replaced by plastic and metal. I shall look around for a repairer who can undertake the necessary work, but it wont stop me using the camera so long as the condition doesnt worsen. Now I know whats causing it, I can make sure that I minimise exposure to light in between taking pictures.
Of course, if anyone can recommend repairer Id love to hear from them!
We made a flying visit to The Photography Show at the NEC, and this blog is just a brief glance to show the state of play. We did wonder if there would be many people there, and there were actually quite a few, but not in the congested sense of past years. We arrived at about 11:15 and there were no queues to get in, either on the approach roads or at the doors of the exhibition. The shuttle buses were not full. At the doors we showed our evidence of two vaccinations, in our case using the MyGP App on our iPhones. We were given a green band to signify that we were OK and then the ID badges were scanned at the hall entrance. Inside, it was easy to find people on the stands to talk to without running the gauntlet of crowds.
Having said that, the talks were popular, especially on the Nikon stand, one of the few places that was packed out with people. Canon, Fuji and Olympus were busy but not too busy and Sue was happy to be helped by one of the two Clares, one of the Olympus Vloggers. The food areas were offering a variety of expensive options, and for once we were able to find a table without any hassle at all.
I shot a few general images on my trusty Pentax MX-1 compact, and here they are.
When it’s a priory. Such is the status of Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. It was originally Anglesey Priory, but the owner thought that wasn’t grand enough, so he renamed it Anglesey Abbey. As houses of this nature go, this one is positively cosy, and it’s the sort of place I could imagine living quite happily. For the visitor the grounds offer a lot of interest and I understand this is a favourite haunt of many local people. Here’s some pictures of the Abbey and of some of the Dahlias from the Dahlia Garden, which was in full bloom and looked absolutely fantastic.
We were driving back to our holiday cottage in Soham when we spotted a windmill. This actually turned out to be Northfields Windmill and it took a bit of locating. It was the usual strory of being able to see something but not being able to find a road that actually led to it. Eventually we did and enquired as to whether we could shoot some pictures. We chatted to the owner Andrew and then another visitor Yvonne and her brother turned up and we all chatted and then we were offered the chance to go inside and explore. The windmill is in great condition and currently under restoration.
Plenty of work is going on inside.
Diane climbing the stairs.
Holes in the floor for the unwary.
Yvonne also explored, but her brother stayed outside.
Many thanks to Andrew, the owner of the windmill, for his kind hospitality.
Visiting ‘The Photography Show’ & Coverage For ePz
Visiting ‘The Photography Show’ & Coverage For ePz
15 Sep 2021 12:45PM
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I’m going to The Photography Show this Saturday the 18th Sept 2021 where I’ll be covering the event for ePHOTOzine.
I’m expecting to see lots of new products and ideas from hundreds of exhibitors and perhaps even catch a demo session whilst I’m there – I’ll be sharing lots of the cool things I see here, in my blog, so that others can also have a feel for the show and its products as well as see hands-on photos of some new releases.
Do say if you are looking out for anything in particular or if you’re going along yourself.
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