This happened today at 1pm, organised by sister-in-law Diane, and we walked around Pennington Flash as a tribute to Sue’s late brother Mark. There was quite a group gathered, and I made a group shot to commemorate the event.
After the walk, the magnetic attraction of an ice cream van overcame most of us.
Until there was but one buyer left.
Also at Pennington Flash was the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
It was good to see such a great turnout and a great opportunity to share thoughts and memories.
Kirklinto Hall is near Carlisle and another place worth a photographic visit. It is under a slow restoration, so return visits every now and again may see some progression. Our visit was way back in 2018, so here are some pictures from then. Hopefully soon we will be back for an update!
I came across a lovely description of the MR Jamess voice while reading a lesson in church as being delightful: he lend you his understanding of the text. Even 100 years ago, this was quite an achievement for most listeners with a lesson from the King James Bible.
This is something that we should aspire to achieving without photographs, showing people not only what was in front of us, but sharing more of the background, more of the facts about the situation. The question is, though, how we can achieve it.
Unless youre very lucky indeed this is going to require a lot of thought. You will need to consider what a viewpoint gives you a birds eye view of your subject, so that a landscape resembles a map, and you can trace routes through the geography and relate one part of the scene to another in a way which reflects reality. This isnt as easy as it seems perhaps there is a curve in a path as it passes through a dip, or a gate which is at right angles to the film plane so that it isnt visible.
If you are photographing a workshop the image needs to show what is done there and the tools used to do it in a way that reduces or eliminates the need for a written explanation. How do you make it clear that the pieces of wood on the bench will be assembled into a camera? Or how would you convey the idea that the round thing in the vice is the alternator from a car under repair?
Trying to find a good example in my own portfolio proved somewhere between difficult and impossible. Well have to make do with a view of Symi from the room we stayed in in 2015, which at least shows the complexity of this town. (Id planned to use a view of Lindos but Symi is an easier place to explain, visually ) And it makes me want to go back for another holiday on Rhodes: sadly, it would be this year.
It’s a long held belief that using software to enhance an image is the devil’s own work. I’m not talking about creating misleading, fake or fraudulent imagery but using simple basic adjustments that many images benefit from.
The idea for this blog came from reading a description of post-capture processing on an image uploaded for critique. It’s welcome to see someone detail their processing steps, so that we know what has been done to the image. It must be noted that these were bread and butter adjustments such as contrast, levels, and so on. It’s a pity the original unprocessed image wasn’t included so that a comparison and assessment of the changes could be made. Were the steps taken enough or did they go too far? That’s what’s needed in order to provide the most useful feedback. While different people will have different ideas, further small adjustments did improve matters.
Straight from the camera
That last sentence is the caveat. Ten different photographers will produce ten different results from the same image. I don’t mean because they use different gear (hough that could be the case), but give them a RAW file to work on and the same software to use you won’t get ten identical results. True, some will be quite close to one another, but some won’t. Indeed, a single photographer can easily create several versions all of which they like.
While it’s hard, if not impossible, to dial out personal choice and style, and I don’t advise anyone to go that route (unless they’re) there are good practices to observe. We all want our images to look as good as we want. It can be that we’re too close to our own work. Coming back a day later and evaluating what’s been done can be helpful. Sometimes a small comment is enough to make us see what needs to be changed. For example, on one of my images, quite a number of years ago now, reference was made to a slight magenta cast. It was there, and using the white balance picker on the white background made the image so much more viewable.
I’m talking about basic adjustments required in order to bring out the best in an image. Good colour, contrast, shadow and highlight detail retrieval, a crop maybe, and so forth. Nothing that creates a fraudulent result (for example removing or adding people from a street scene for political ends or creating artificial looking skin in a portrait, though those types of manipulation have ben done decades before digital appeared).
Straight from the camera
Years ago, photographers would choose a particular film for its characteristics. Velvia to a boost insipid tons in a drab northern European winter landscape, Astia for more natural skin tones. Filters would be used to control colour, polarisers to boost saturation. Not to mention the renditions of different black and white films together with contrast enhancing filters and control over the print using different contrast grades of paper. All of which are choices you have using the basic adjustments of which I described above. You’re just replicating what has always been done, albeit with a greater degree of control.
Levels and Curves adjustments and further Curves adjustment on the sky
The allegation of ‘cheating’ is misplaced and comes from a lack of understanding, mainly from non photographers who don’t understand either analogue or digital methods and would have had negative film processed at a low cost (that must mean good value and thus a good job) minilab and accepting the results as given. Even some dyed in the wool photographers at the start of digital photography regarded the greater control with scepticism, and I think, apart from the fact it was a change, considered it cheating because they didn’t understand computers and software not realising the potential and freedom to actually produce the style of images they always wished for. Yes there would be a steep learning curve, and that doesn’t suit everyone. There is also the fact that so much more responsibility was put on the photographer to come up with the goods. No more blaming it on the local photo processing lab.
There are still purists who don’t like post capture processing, preferring to accept the jpegs straight out of camera (or other device), not necessarily realising that a whole lot of processing has already been done defined by algorithms with no creative appreciation. That’s their choice of course. In the end they’re missing out on getting the best from their efforts.
So, for the rest of us, let’s continue with our adjustments.
Im not sure how many blogs I have written since the start of the pandemic, but I suspect at around 400. And looking for signs that normality might be returning, Im particularly pleased that I shall be writing full-size articles for EPZ again. You can see the first one HERE.
So my output of blogs will be reducing, though as Ive promised a few people, I will be continuing to write them from time to time. As Ive said more or less from the start, I welcome ideas that people would like explored in this format. After my initial run through of the photographic alphabet, its often been a struggle to find something to write about. But a morning walk has often inspired me.
Thats all for today, but there will be more blogs to come!
And actually in Honfleur as well. Street photography, wherever it is, can be great fun to do. Gathering interesting and/or quirky pictures of people is great, and by and large the subjects tend to be quite happy about it. There are plenty of books on the subject of Street (Reportage, Photojournalism) but in the end, getting out there and having a go is the way forward.
I confess that at first it was a bit daunting. How would people react? My theory is that two things are necessary – confidence and efficiency. Looking like we know how to operate our camera kit slickly is a good start, doing it confidently rather than being shy and consequently a bit shifty and of course the secret weapon – a smile. A confident, friendly smile goes a long way towards reassuring the subjects.
So, some street images from my early attempts, shot in Liverpool, St Nazaire and Honfleur. Camera was the Pentax *istDS and the lens nthe SMC Pentax-DA 16-45mm f/4.
Without getting into the RAW vs JPEG arguments, for those who use JPEG capture there are a number of picture styles available, as well as all sorts of digital filters. This is subtly different to shooting RAW and then aplying filters, because it implies instead that we have a particular intent before the shutter button is pressed. So we look at our subject, decide what we are trying to achieve with it, and shoot around that, maybe or maybe not using the various image styles that we have at our disposal. Likewise, just like loading a camera with a particular type of film, we set a style and then go out and seek images for that style. The obvious example is monochrome, where using a mono setting means that we look for suitable subjects right from the start, which is a totally different mindset to shooting in colour.
I came across this small building in one of the speciality gardens at Rounddhay Park. I had the SMC Pentax-F 17-28mm Fisheye Zoom on the Pentax K-1 full frame DSLR and decided to see what effects I could dial in to make, perhaps, this quirky building even more quirky.
Natural. This is my usual setting.
Of course, the parameters can be changed for all of these settings, so the amount of control possible is amazing.
As a member of a model and photographer networking website, I often look at the portfolios of people who have liked one of my pictures. And sometimes its a dispiriting experience: there are quite a lot of people who have never got past either flash on the camera or a pair of nicely balanced softboxes on either side of the camera. This is often coupled with a camera level thats a couple of inches above the models eyeline and a wide angle lens so that the model perches a large head on a tapering body and tiny feet.
However inventive the pose, however lovely the models, the photographer seems to take the same picture over and over again. And the trouble is that its never a terribly good picture. I keep wondering how to tell them that they could easily improve their pictures. But Im not sure that that actually is a way.
Now, I know perfectly well that my own pictures rely on a number of tried and tested setups, technical tricks, and types of processing. In a sense, the only differences are but I have several of these, and that I avoid the basic mistake of shooting everything from the same viewpoint.
I keep meaning to shoot an example or two, but its so ingrained in my mind to avoid doing that Similarly, its thoroughly ingrained that I should avoid terribly even lighting on subjects and background, in the way that I see in so many of these shots. A couple of nice shadows on either side of the subject completes the picture, and its not a very pretty one.
So my suggestion for the day is to look at what you did in your last set of pictures, and see if there is something that you just do too often and without thinking.
Thank heavens for SatNavs, the one and only way to defeat the Mangled Machinations of the road designers in Leeds…..after a not impossible journey we arrived at Roudhay Park, more specifically at Tropical World, with Granddaughter Amelia in tow. We knew it would be hot in the glasshouses from last time, but it didn’t actually seem that bad, perhaps we have become used to the heat these past few days. Stock levels of butterflies and birds were a bit low, but no doubt that is because of the pandemic closure. However, it was all good and Amelia enjoyed it all and we managed to shoot some images. I was using the Pentax K-1 full frame DSLR with the HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm WR lens. So first some images from Tropical World:
Then we wandered up towards the Mansion, taking in the speciality gardens on the way. There were also a couple of wedding shoots going on, so I pinched a couple of quick candids as well. The kit was expanded to include the SMC Pentax-FA J 75-300mm and the SMC Pentax-F 17-28mm Fisheye Zoom. This is quite useful, being compact and a full frame fisheye at 17mm, gradually becoming more rectilinear as we approach 28mm.
This is something I have to admit I do a lot and I was wondering is others are so inclined. I will often see an image and a song, lyric or song title pops into my head. This is very much the same feeling with one liners from tv or films and I was wondering how much this has to do with the way that these have been instilled in our heads. We listening to music and if it’s something we like we often something we play over and over again. How many of use can sing every word to an old Beatles song or are they still getting no satisfaction (Rolling Stones). This repeats it self with films we watch with classics like “We will always have Paris” or I’ll never go hungry are” and Michial Caine is “Still blowing the bloody doors off”. So the question I ask is often is this the trigger for an image title, puts a music worm into your head for the rest of the day or the image is the trigger to other things…
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