Thursday, 16 August 2012

To HDR Or Not?

I don't do this HDR thingy very much. I went through a phase a while back (didn't we all luvvy) and it produced some interesting results but like all things new, it all got a bit, well...tedious. Once people became aware of HDR they kind of kicked the arse out of it and you couldn't move for the HDR 'look' - you know what it looks like. Hell, some people made a whole career out of it!

Don't get me wrong, HDR is a superb tool for balancing out the highlights and shadows if used subtly but therein lies the key - subtlety. Images were being over processed to the point of ...yuk.

And so, at the risk of opening myself up to criticism, I produce for you an HDR processed photograph... or is it?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Shedding Some Light

When you take a shot like this they can be a little bit, well, can be hard to distinguish the subject (the tree stump) from the background.

What I did here was pretty simple. Made a copy of the original, changed the brightness level, added a mask and then painted back the background as I wanted it to be. In the old days of darkroom alchemy we called it 'dodging and burning'. Now we call it a 'doddle'.

Have a go.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Busyness of Water

When you're next on walkabout, have a look around for reflections. With this, I was fascinated by the 'busyness' of the branches and saw the opportunity, when the water rippled, to create an altogether 'busy' image - top, bottom and sides.

Friday, 3 August 2012

A Day At The Beach

Sometimes with photography it's hard to show a sense of scale. I saw the three people on the beach and immediately knew that I could use them for scale purposes. The fact that I caught all three standing apart from each other and in height order was just one of those happy but hoped for accidents.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Metal Men

The fellahs are kind of creepy...made of metal with the outline of the body imprinted into the casing. They stand near the old Woolwich Barracks near the Thames.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Fenced In

There was a big event going on at Greenwich a while ago and I saw this chap looking over the fence. What I liked was the way his leg poked through and broke, but also kind of added to, the symmetry of the fencing.

Monday, 16 July 2012


This was a photograph I took whilst testing out my Fuji X10 not long after I had bought it.  Originally it had a lot of cloud which, when I looked at it, felt that it was not bringing anything to the party so- I cut it. Severely. And, I'm glad I did because the original was one of those y''s okaaaay kind of shots but once I'd chopped out the top lump of uninteresting cloud, I was left with a much more of a 'grabber' shot (I think).

Why not go back over some of your old shots and see if a bit of heavy duty cropping doesn't give them a new lease of life.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Inner Sanctum

At first glance this may appear to be just the interior of a church and, to be honest, you wouldn't be wrong if you'd have said that. But, I think that if you look at it for a second or two it has a kind of depth to it and I'm trying to figure out why. I'm not sure if is the apparent contrast or the slight shadow work in the eaves that give a feeling of depth. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Rusty Thing

I was having a bit of a walkabout on the shore of a river/estuary the other day when I saw this ....thing. I have no idea as to what it is but I'm assuming that it came out of one of the nearby abandoned/wrecked boats. If anybody knows what it is, do me a favour and drop me a line. 

It's driving me mental.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Catching Crabs!

This chap was out and about paddling in the sea catching crabs. There are other ways to catch crabs but this is probably the most sensible....

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Hanks Guitar Shop

Hanks is apparently the most famous guitar shop in London. I kinda remembered this place from when I was a kid with dreams of being the next Eric Clapton. It would have helped a bit if I could have played like him I suppose, but.... there's only one Clapton.

The processing on this image was simple enough. I black and whited the base layer, added a texture on the top, changed the blend mode layer to screen (I think), took a soft brush and gently painted out a few bits. Dead Simple my son.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Water Posts

This was taken during my visit out to the Isle of Grain but on the opposite side of it....I had to drive for about 20 minutes or so. There were a couple of old, abandoned barges falling to pieces but I was more interested in these posts sticking straight up and saw the parallel with the chimney stacks on the other side of the water.

A quick B&W treatment followed by the addition of a texture combined with the hint of a tint and viola!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Isle Of Grain Fort

Grain Tower Battery is located on Grain Spit, a mud flat at the east end of the Isle of Grain, opposite Sheerness Port. The Tower is accessible by a causeway at low tide but at high water it can only be reached by boat; there was originally a jetty alongside the causeway.
It was built in 1866 as part of the Chatham Defences to a design similar to that used for the Martello Towers some years earlier being almost circular in shape and with the gun platform on the roof. A chain linked the tower to Sheerness to stop vessels entering the Medway. It was modified in 1910 when the accomodation block was added in brick to the west side. It is now abandoned.
I decided to take a looky see but, in the best tradition of keeping it simple, didn't pack any boots so went ankle deep in mud (literally) to get this and a few of the following photo's. And the wind….don't get me started!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Blackpool Down Low

I've never really been in to using the 'Curves' tool in Photoshop but having spent time listening to David and Craig discuss the merits of it use, I now have a deeper understanding of its creative potential. I used a number of layers here to create and control the luminosity of this image.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Blackpool Beach

Another shot taken from the 'Creating Dramatic Images' workshop run by David Nightingale. I actually spent a fair bit of time (for me!) thinking about how I wanted this to look before I pressed the shutter and, whilst not quite where I thought it would go, I'm quite happy with it. 

It was the shallow water that drew me to the scene and I liked the way it shimmered and reflected whilst leading to the pier. I used a few of the techniques I had picked up on the workshop whilst processing and, whilst overall, I'm satisfied there is still a couple of things I would have done differently.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Blackpool - Creating Dramatic Images

I've not posted for a while and that's because I've been away on a photographic course. Now, in all my years of taking photographs, I've never been on any sort of photo course. Never belonged to a camera club. Nothing. It just never floated my boat to be honest. 

But, I've longer been an admirer of David Nightingale's work and decided to take the plunge on his 'Creating Dramatic Images' workshop. Why? To be honest, I think my work had become a bit 'formulaic' in that I was taking photo's and processing them quickly without giving too much thought to what I was trying to achieve or indeed, could achieve. 

Now, whilst I've always advocated not spending too much time in front of the computer fiddling with your images, I was moving at lightning speed!! Most of my images could and would be processed out in less than five minutes. Truthfully. 

I had found a workflow that suited me and I refined it to the point of (almost) automation. So I thought it would be a good thing to learn a different way, something new. Enter David's course.

An interesting man is David. The author of three books on the subject of photography he was one of the first to embrace HDR. His book Practical HDR: The Complete Guide to Creating High Dynamic Range Images with your Digital SLR remains a useful starting point to understanding the finer points of HDR. To be fair, he has moved away from the 'grungy' type images that first defined and brought HDR to people's attention and when he works with HDR, it's of a more realistic nature.

The course is a mix of classroom and practical set over two days in Blackpool, UK (with an optional evening shoot) and teaches you the value of shooting with an idea in mind of how you want the image to look before you press the shutter . I don't suppose that's anything new really but, for me, I had gotten a bit out of the habit of doing it. But that mind set forces you to slow down and think about what it is you're doing and that's not necessarily a bad thing is it?

There really is too much to discuss here but suffice to say, it was a jam-packed weekend full of extremely useful technical and creative information and I can only highly recommend the workshop to you.

Of course, no man is an island and David is no exception being ably assisted by Craig Judd, a fine photographer himself  and an all round good guy. Craig, if you're reading this, thanks for your time.

Have a look at these images all taken with my X10 on my arrival on the Friday evening. I went walkabout to get a feel for the place. I'll post up some more images from the weekend later on.

Monday, 14 May 2012

An Angels Wings....

The Canon SX40HS really does produce quality images and this, believe it or not, only had a medium level of sharpening applied in post processing. I'm pretty impressed with the amount of fine detail its resolved.

More than good enough for the interweb methinks!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Any One For Dim Sum?

I just got a hold of the Canon SX40HS on a trial basis. From what I've seen of it so far it is an impressive piece of kit. As you know, I primarily shoot with compact cameras these days. I have a Canon S90 and a Fuji X10 (which I love to death) and I'm debating whether to add this  SX40 to my arsenal.

The image quality is superb and, of course, there's the huge X35 optical zoom(28-840mm) but, what's impressing me most, is its low-light performance.

Shot at ISO 400. A bit of touching up in LR3 but basically, a good, clean image to start with.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Something Fishy....

When I saw this guy working I knew I wanted to catch him with his face masked by the plastic and was drawn to they way the frame naturally split in two. I could have framed it to completely obscure his face but just wanted to catch a bit of it. Makes me wonder what  he looked like.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Just Buy It!

Fred and Rene just couldn't make their minds up. It all looked so very....foreign.
Actually I have no idea who they are - I just have strange things rattling around in my head when I work...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

You Don't Look Too Clever....

The thing with churches and Cathedral's is, they always have something interesting to shoot. These places may not be your cup of tea (I know the feeling) but there is some fantastic marble inside and it give you the opportunity to take some photos of models that don't move around! How cool is that?

Try it out for yourself. Great fun!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


The windows of this shot were a tad blown out so I duplicated the base layer, darkened it down until the windows looked better, masked and painted the image to balance it out as you see here. 

I've got to stop posting up churchy pictures. You'll all think I'm a God botherer...

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Freshwater Bay ~ Isle Of Wight

Sometimes I can't quite make up my mind about which I prefer -Colour or B&W. I am a self confessed lover of the ol' B&W as it really does float my boat. I cut my teeth in a darkroom printing out shed loads of 10x8" B&W's and the majority of my work to this is indeed, B&W.

But I'm a strong believer in the fact that some things work better than others. In this case, I like 'em both. Which do I prefer? That would be telling.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Witchy Village ~ Burley

This chap was taking shelter from a sudden downpour in the tiny village of Burley in Hampshire. 

Witches, smuggling and dragons are also part of Burley's unique character. During the late 1950's a famous 'White' witch named Sybil Leek lived here. She was often seen walking around the village in a long, black cloak with her pet jackdaw resting on her shoulder. Unfortunately, because her attire fitted the image of a wicked 'black' witch, the locals were upset by her presence and she decided to live in America where she continued writing many books on the occult and astrology, including "Diary of a Witch". 

The place is full of little 'new age' gift shops and this one that had a thing for Betty Boop!

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Solitary Man ~ Winchester Cathedral

The Solitary Man is my 200th post! Since I started this blog I've had nearly 12,500 people drop by so, thank you all for doing so. It's much appreciated.

In the crypt of Winchester Cathedral is a statue by renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley. This mysterious life-size statue of a man contemplating the water held in his cupped hands is called Sound II ( no idea why), fashioned from lead out of a plaster cast of the artist’s own body. The Cathedral crypt floods during rainy months and this chap is literally up to his knees in water.
I was a bit disappointed that the crypt was bone dry when I went -considering this country is normally under about a foot of water at the best of times - AND it had been hammering down with rain on and off all week.
This was taken with the X10 set to EXR mode. It selected an aperture of F/2,5 and a shutter speed of 1/20 of a sec (hence the movement) with an ISO of 800.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Scribe ~ Winchester Cathedral

I know I said I wouldn't overly abuse the square crop format but I felt that it suited this picture from Winchester Cathedral perfectly. A simple 'grab' shot straight out of the Fuji X10 set on EXR the ISO set itself to 3200 and, I have to say, I'm pleased with the result from it. It could have been a bit sharper I know but, that said, I like the softness of it as it reminds me a bit of the results I used to get from film and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

Having processed it I added a simple Quadtone action that I have to 'warm' it up a bit. It worked well as a B&W but I just preferred the brown look.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Going Home.....

I'm not, to be honest, a religious person as such. I really don't have too much truck with organised religion but I do consider myself to be a ''spiritual' person in that I try to lead a good, and decent life living by the maxim 'First, do no harm....' and I respect other's rights to their beliefs. 

I have to say though that I am oftentimes in awe of the structures raised to worship and none more so than Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire. The cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.

Dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Saint Swithun, it is the seat of the Bishop of Winchester and centre of the Diocese of Winchester. The cathedral is a Grade I listed cathedral.

A truly beautiful building.

Monday, 16 April 2012


When I saw this image I was struck by the low sunlight throwing its long shadows and picking out the textures in the wall. The 'tag' that you can see was particularly luminescent (silvery in colour) but I decide not to try to capture that particular sheen concentrating instead on the composition of the (yes, I know....) square format.

I thinks it works though!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

I Miss You.....

I originally published this picture elsewhere as a B&W. It was well received at the time but it wasn't, to be honest, how I envisioned the image to be at the time of taking it. This new version was much more like it but for some reason I processed it out as a B&W (with a hint of a tint) and posted it (Have a look below) . The crowd went wild!!!! 

And so, I left it as it stood but y'know, I think I prefer this second, colour version....

Friday, 13 April 2012

Julia Margaret Cameron

I've just returned from a short break which took me to the Isle of Wight and Dimbola Lodge, the home (now museum/exhibition/gallery/school) of the celebrated Victorian Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (11 June 1815 – 26 January 1879),
Cameron's photographic career was short, spanning eleven years of her life (1864–1875). She took up photography at the relatively late age of 48, when she was given a camera as a present. Although her style was not widely appreciated in her own day, her work has had an impact on modern photographers, especially her closely cropped portraits.
I coudn't resist this shot of her bed with a copy of a newspaper of the day.