22 February 2018

Revisiting old photo's

I've been struggling a bit recently in finding subjects to photograph that I haven't done to death already so I started searching through some old pictures of mine back when I was only really working in colour. There were some that looked like they might be worth doing some reworking on so here are the updated b&w versions  -

I can't say that there's anything really special to these but it was fun to play with some older pictures and it looks like I will be watching the forecast for windy days coinciding with high tides to get some better versions.

3 February 2018

Dodging the rain

The weather almost stopped play today apart from a brief period where the rain eased but the dark clouds lingered so I knew I had a very small window in which to get to Portland Bill and try for a couple of pictures before the liquid sunshine started falling again or the dark clouds disappeared.

I have to say it was damn cold, much colder than I thought it would be, but a quick runaround and a few pictures later I was back in the warm comfort of home with a mug of tea.

I've been really surprised with how I'm getting on just using the Fuji X100. The 23mm lens is making me look for subjects that I would normally not attempt, the wider landscape for instance, which I normally shun in favour of the smaller close-up details, but I'm enjoying my photography again in a way that I haven't for quite a while. Being able to grab such a small and lightweight bag and head for the door is quite a liberating feeling.

2 February 2018

Arm pain = lightweight camera kit

Due to some pain in my elbow which has now spread from the shoulder to the hand I am restricted at the moment to what I can do which means only short drives and having to abandon the heavy camera gear for a while.

The up side is that I'm now using my Fuji X100 only, and as this lovely little camera has a fixed 23mm lens it's making me work harder to get the images I want rather than just being able to zoom or change lenses. Although I love the Fuji it has been very underused because of the focal length so I'm on somewhat of a learning curve right now.

I managed to get out for a while yesterday and today and am starting to get my eye accustomed to seeing in 23mm (I hope).

The entrance to Weymouth Harbour

The Nothe at low tide

The Jetty at Bowleaze

On the Jetty with my home in the background

Chesil Beach

29 January 2018

Looking back, not always a good idea

Over the years my interests and hobbies have come and gone as they are bound to do, otherwise I’d still be playing with toy soldiers and building airfix model planes, but some remain constant such as photography, birding and keeping tropical fish. I’ve been thinking back to the days when these things started to interest me and how I went about it all.

The internet hadn’t been heard of and knowledge was gained by seeking out local people who knew about these things and getting their advice along with frequent trips to the library to devour whatever books I could find on the subject. For the publisher, printing a book was often a gamble with large costs involved and therefore the information it contained had to be correct with the best of what was available in pictures to illustrate the text. I would take these books home like prize possessions and sit with pen and notebook making notes of everything I wanted to learn, sometimes renewing the loan because I hadn’t finished recording what I felt I needed to know.

Then along came the internet. It may have been in its infancy, still crawling around in nappies, but it seemed as if an explosion in available knowledge had taken place with written articles available at the touch of a button. Information could be found on almost any subject and I was introduced to other ways of thinking, articles on the same subject written by many different people with their own views and experiences. It felt as if anyone could become an expert in their chosen field if they put in the time and effort to learn from all the resources that were becoming available.

Then the internet took off in such a huge way that nobody could have predicted, the chimp in the zoo had suddenly turned in King Kong overnight and everything changed. Anybody could write an article and put it out there for the world to see but the downside was that it didn’t need to be fact-checked first, nobody had to approve it, hell, you didn’t even have to know how to spell, just type, hit send, and there it was.

So now we live in an age where there is more knowledge and information available to anyone and everyone and yet we can’t trust it to be true or correct without comparing it to other sources for reference and too many people are not willing to spend the time doing that, it’s easier to just read, believe and move on to the next thing.

I love the internet for many things but since we all became knowledge-richer, in some perverse way we also became knowledge-poorer at the same time.

Next up, the rise of the abomination known as social media, or maybe I’ll just get rid of these damned rose-tinted spectacles, let my hair grow long and pretend it’s still 1965!

27 January 2018

Finding the small details in the landscape

When I’m out in the landscape looking for photographs I rarely make pictures of broad sweeping vistas and on the odd occasion when I try the results are less than satisfactory. My eye always gets drawn to the smaller details and the longer I spend in one location the smaller the subjects seem to get. The trouble is that no matter how well I know a place it still takes me up to an hour to really get my eye in and start finding these subjects and with the prices charged at public car parks it can start to get expensive when the first hour is all but wasted, at least in terms of making pictures.

Yesterday was a case in point. I really had to get out so headed to Portland Bill and a little cove I use regularly for photo opportunities. I knew the tide would be high and many of the possible subjects would be under water but later in the day the clouds would be rolling in so it was a case of now or never. A two hour parking ticket, a 15 minute walk and there I was at the cove starting to look for things to photograph. I looked at the rocks, the pebbles, seaweed, all the time honing in on smaller and smaller details until I found something tucked into a small crevice in the rocks. As soon as I saw it I knew it was just the kind of thing I wanted, I could almost hear it calling ‘here I am, let’s get to work’.

The appropriate lens is attached to the camera, the camera if fastened to the tripod, the tripod legs are wrestled with to get it all in the right place, the exposure is worked out and I’m ready to go. After I captured the image I looked at my watch and I realised that it was almost time to start heading back to the car!

I’m not complaining, I like using a tripod because it makes me slow down and examine the subject to get the best angle and composition that I can but it doesn’t result in many pictures for each outing, in fact I only took this single one on this trip but, for me at least, it was worth it. Maybe I'm actually learning patience in my later years........

Skeletal Fingers

26 January 2018

Finding your own style

Reading through photography books and magazines there seems to be a constant thread lately regarding finding your own style and specialising in one genre of photography. While I don’t doubt that this can sound important and helpful guidance my opinion is that it takes the budding photographer down the completely wrong path in terms of imagination and creativity. 

If, for example, you were bidding for work on a magazine then the editor would obviously like to see a body of work you’ve created that displays the kind of imagery they are looking for, be it fashionable young models, well-lit sports cars or coastal landscapes at sunrise and sunset but if you really want to specialise in one such arena you had better know that there is plenty of work out there for you and that you can compete with the best of the photographers out there already doing the work. And yet how many of us are really in that position of making pictures for a living or even aspire to do so. For every person making a living with full-time photography there are hundreds doing it for fun, doing it because of the passion we have for creating in this way, and these are the very people that will be harmed the most by following the trend of trying to create a personal style or carving out their own niche.

The more photographs we make the better we become as the experiences we have add to our understanding of the medium and help us to become more proficient at the technical side of the craft as well as continually honing our skills to seek out interesting compositions from the jumble of sensory input we are faced with every day and we will make more photographs if we have more subjects to aim are camera at. To block off all avenues except one is to make the journey exceptionally boring, like driving around the same race track all the time will certainly teach you everything you could possibly need to know about that particular track but it wouldn’t make you a better driver, the best drivers are the ones who have gained experience on different road surfaces and in a host of different weather conditions.

To those people to whom the idea of having a personal style that can be recognised by others is the Holy Grail I would say wait, just wait. Do your photography, create the images that you want to see and create them in the way that speaks to you the most and the resulting picture will have your passion contained within it and that is where your own individual style will come from, it’s not something that can be chased after or manufactured, it’s not something that can be easily defined but it is something that is born out of who you are, what you do and how you see and react to this world we live in. 

Go out and photograph what calls to you and capture it in a way that means something to you personally, enjoy yourself and the rest will come in its own time.