Recently I've been involved with the start of a lovely project in the south-east of England where a small team of conservators have got together to provide help and support to the museums of the region in their attempts to maintain their collections.
I came aboard as graphic designer and photographer and have had fun putting together their publicity material and photographing some of their roadshows.This roundograph was taken in the sumptuous wood panelled room at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery last Friday. It was a really enjoyable event and as well as the room we had plenty of intriguing objects to gaze at, including a mummified human hand,
Anglo-Saxon gold & garnet work, a beautiful paper will, a mouldy Cindy doll and much more.More photographs and project details can be found on my Behance project page and the project blog.
I have no location details to add to this image and I have only a vague idea of when it was taken (about a week before posting). The reason for this is that I didn't take the original photograph and wasn't even present at the time. I freely give my partner full credit for the original, but I feel that I've since made it mine and I hope he doesn't mind!
I've said before that my images really come to life, for me, in the post-production process and I have very occasionally started with photographs that my partner, not I, has taken. As a rule I don't usually admit this, partly because I'm not in the habit of including information in the picture gallery section but also because I change the image so much that I feel it becomes as much mine as his...
However, since I've started writing a little blog about the images I post I have a place to air my confessions. In the future I may add more information in my gallery pages, in which case I shall always include this detail.
I have almost never shown an original, unprocessed photograph on this site, let alone one right next to the finished image before. It feels a little too exposing somehow. However, in light of my confession I'm going to break this rule here.
This is a fairly typical example of just how much of a liberty I take with my photographs, and a good illustration of my previous statement that the greater part of my creative process really begins after the initial image capture.
I think this does diminish my status as Photographer (and I've said before that I'm uncomfortable with the term) so I just need to find another word, that's all :-)
This photograph, recently added to my Landscapes gallery, is a view of one of the high points at Painswick Beacon, Gloucestershire, near our home. It was taken at the beginning of summer on the evening of the Queen's Jubillee beacon lighting. We found no beacon at Painswick but were able to see many others around the neighbouring counties from this amazing vantage point. In these days of the 21st Century however, the event was largely lost among the city, town and village lights that dotted and clustered the landscape, but these were themselves worth the climb.
This picture is actually a combination of several individual photographs merged together on the computer in Photodshop. It is fairly obvious I think, once you know, that the right of the image is exposed differently from the left. Does this decrease the value of the image? I would argue that it doesn't; after all, is this not precisely what our own eyes do as we look around a scene?
Some photographers may call this a digital deception, but I stand by my convictions that it was the only way to capture the scene as I saw it in that moment, showing the dynamic range of the wide and contrasty view in a natural and un-photographic way (I can almost feel my pupils dilate and contract as I look from left to right, just as they did in real life).
There is one further 'deception', and that is that this picture was actually taken on my iPhone4. Does that decrease the value of the image? I did have my camera with me on this occasion, but it was still tucked away in my bag after the walk to the beacon. I was struck very suddenly with this incredible light and know all too well how fleeting these effects can be. I therefore pulled out my phone (always in easy reach) and took a few pictures. Only then did I begin to retrieve my camera, but it was already too late. Not ideal maybe, but certainly no less beautiful for that, I would argue.
A beautiful evening and a beautiful sunset. A lovely experience altogether.
Last night I went out with my camera, tripod, shutter release cable and a beer and settled myself down in our local churchyard facing roughly north. I wanted to have the North star in view as well as the church, so I spent a bit of time looking for the best place to set myself up where I could be comfortable for an hour. This was the view I chose:
You can see the Plough clearly to the left, with its lower two stars pointing to Polaris, and Cassiopia just to the right of the spire. It was a beautifully clear sky when I arrived, and the churchyard was quiet and calm and much more dim than it appears here. The aggressive lighting of the spire and wall was a little troubling, but I didn't worry about it too much.
I set my ISO to 800, which is the highest I dare go on my camera (before the noise becomes too upsetting) and started my vigil of constant fifteen second exposures, with eleven second gaps between shots while the camera did its processing. I stayed there for an hour, during which time the sky began to cloud over and the spire light went off. This is how it looked when I left:
I don't know what the worrying green mark is just to the left of Polaris..... never mind.
The difference between the positions of the stars from the start of the hour to the end can be seen on these two photographs, but the sky really comes to life when all the images are put together in a sequence. This small video doesn't show the stars, (I'm having a little computer trouble today, but will repost when I've managed it) but does give an idea of the cloud cover that produces much of the orange glow in the final image:
And here it is. I have deleted an aeroplane that bisected the image down the middle as it was very distracting, but left a very faint horizontal aeroplane trail about half-way up. I also straightened up the church spire and added a slight texture. I'm pretty pleased with it really, for a first proper attempt.
The final image is all about light and I wanted it to look as luminous as possible. I put the images all together in Photoshop, with each image in a layer set to 'Lighten'. There are specialist pieces of software available to download on the internet to amalgamate different exposures, and I might give one a go at some point.
There is something magical about star trail images and something so special about watching one appear on the screen before you. They are so easy and so fun and I can't wait to have another go!
This is a ten minute exposure I took last Saturday evening at The Tudor camp site near Gloucester, which is the origin of the eerie orange glow. I only had a brief window of time to do this in between putting our toddler to bed and clouds coming to completely cover the sky, so I only had one shot (literally). I have been fascinated by star trails
for years but never seem to get around to having a go myself, except on one occasion a few years ago, also on a camp site, where I produced this tentative experiment:
I previously blogged about it here
so won't go into the details of the exposure, except to say that it was taken at Robin Hood's Bay in Whitby, though you wouldn't know it.I will say that the technical difference between the two images
is that the first is a continuous single exposure and the second is an amalgamation of separate smaller exposures. All the advice in books and the internet warn against very long exposures on digital cameras and although I knew why, it's always good to see for yourself. The difference in image noise between the two pictures is startling; even at this scale the noise in the first image leaps out and ultimately makes it very unsuccessful. If the noise were reduced to the level of the second image, you might even have been able to resolve the Milky Way which was prominently visible that night, and oh so many more stars! This on its own has been enough to convince me not to try such a long exposure again, to say nothing of the immensely long processing time and the lack of control when it came to oversaturated portions of the image.I have declared to myself that I shall produce a good star trail image by the end of the Summer
. We'll see.
In the middle of the wet weather of the last few weeks was just one or two days of joyful summer sun. We tried to take as much advantage of them as we could; these are from 5th July, one such isolated perfect day.
I found myself looking through my old Wordpress blog today and came across these animated gifs of me spinning round like a lunatic in Thornhill Park in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire a couple of years ago wearing the most unappealing winter sack. They're very roughly put together and the planet isn't very good, but I find the gifs quite funny :-)
I remade this sequence in a more polished fashion for my book although I must say, I seem to have chosen equally unflattering clothes the second time round too.
The sequences below show my partner's point of view, my point of view and the finished planet, back in the days when I only had my 18mm wide angle lens and needed to take thousands and thousands and thousands of photographs to make a roundograph. Thank heaven for my fisheye.
Last month I moved with my family from South Oxfordshire to the heart of Gloucestershire, meaning that I have lived in three counties of England in the last three years.
This means that I have had to cancel my All Year Roundograph project for now, but we have no shortage of suitable locations here in the Five Valleys for another start in 2013.
Gloucestershire is quite different from Oxfordshire in many ways: it is much more hilly and the area we have moved to is covered with trees, so I have high hopes for some wonderful photographing days out in the future. It is a photographer's paradise in many ways here and I think we will be very happy, as much as I loved my time in Oxfordshire.
I hope these are the first of many rural idyll images :-)
This year I'm embarking on a project to produce a set of roundographs from a single spot taken every month throughout the year, showing how the place changes as the year cycles on: the changing light, colours and density of life as the leaves grow and fall.
The location I chose is a little country lane in Pishill, Oxfordshire, a few miles from our house. It is a point on a little walk we often do where a small path through grazing fields meets the main tree-lined track, and overlooks arable fields. It therefore contains a lot of natural and farmed elements that should provide a good amount of variety over the next ten months.
Two months in, here are my first two images; in wormhole form to emphasise the canopy of greenery that will appear in Spring. My exact position was slightly different between images, which although it greatly irritates me when I look, it's something which I hope won't matter too much to other people!