The Age of Steam

I haven’t posted anything for a month, and I have also struggled to find time to visit the blogs that I follow, so the first thing that I must do is apologise to all my blogging friends.  To be honest, I suspect that the next few months will also find me with little time, so any posts will be even more sporadic than usual.  Keeping up with the ‘reader’ may also be a challenge. I did however get the chance to go out with the camera for a few hours this week, and largely because I thought the weather would be better in that direction, we popped down to Corfe Castle for a ‘breath of fresh air’.  As it happened, the weather may have been better at home, but at least the weather stayed dry, but cold.  We hadn’t been around the castle for many years, so we took a quick look, but being ‘half term’, it was pretty crowded with kids, swarming all over it, so not much in the way of photos.  It was cold up in the castle, so next stop was a warming cuppa, after which we did a lap of the village, ending up at the Railway Station.  We had never visited this before, and were pleasantly surprised to find that there was one train running on the Swanage Railway because it was ‘half term’.  We had a wander around, chatting to the Station staff, and waited for the 15:20 from Swanage to come through.  Here are a few photos, best viewed by clicking on the first one and displaying a slide show.

Thanks for taking a look.  I hope you will come back again when I post some more of my photos.

Sculpture by the Lakes

Sculpture by the Lakes is a landscaped park in Dorset, owned by Simon Gudgeon, who is a well known British contemporary sculptor.  This park provides a showcase for his work.

Last Saturday I was able to spend the afternoon there with Dee, and our friends Susanne and Ed.  I did, of course, try to take a few photographs.  The weather was cold and dry, but I still found it quite difficult to produce the quality of photograph that I wanted.  I’m going to put it down to the cold freezing my poor old brain.  Still, it was a useful opportunity to, hopefully, learn from my mistakes.

I haven’t been able to find time to post, or visit blogs recently.  I’ve got a little time available today so I thought that I would post a few photos from that afternoon, even though I wish they were better.  Any artistic value in these images should, of course, be attributed to Simon Gudgeon and his wife, Monique, who is responsible for the gardens in which the Sculptures are set.

Here is a ‘gallery’, best viewed as a slide show, by clicking on the first image and then using the carousel.  I hope that these images may inspire you to visit Sculpture by the Lakes.

 

A visit to the Sculpture by the Lakes site will provide details of this excellent Sculpture Park as well as some images which are much better than mine.  I’m looking forward to revisiting the park soon, to try to improve on these shots.

 

Monochrome Moments – 5 (More Sand, and a Stick)

This one continues from Monochrome Moments – 4, it also having been taken in the dunes of Fuerteventura.  This was a snapshot taken because of the potential appeal of the intersecting diagonals of the sand ripples and stick.  Monochrome conversion was again made with Topaz, and I also chose to retain a ‘warm’ look to the image because it seemed in keeping with the scene.  I did consider a more ‘stark’ B&W conversion, but didn’t like any of my results as much.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is another of those rather minimalist images which, when you look back, you wonder whether it was really worth taking.  Having played with it a bit, I think it probably was, just.

Update!

I wasn’t really happy with this image so I took some advice from Adrian Lewis.  I’ve increased the contrast a bit (quite a bit), and the result is below.  I could probably go still further but think this may be enough.  I didn’t do this before because I am always a little nervous of ‘overprocessing’.

Stick and SandAny better?

Monochrome Moments – 4

I rarely go back to my ‘holiday’ snaps, looking for potential monochrome images.  A recent post from Mike Osborn’s prompted me to look at some old photos from Fuerteventura, and I think that I must start doing it more often.  I found this one.  It’s not as good as Mike’s, but it does show that the sun doesn’t always shine there.  I quite liked the drama in the sky, and also the receding ‘mountains’ (really only little volcanic hills).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a slightly ‘warm’ conversion from the Topaz presets because I thought that it might fit with the actual colours of the landscape better.  Personally, I think that the mono image is better than the original, which I have included below for comparison.  I know that the original shows the sand colour correctly, but mono shows more drama in the sky and the wind blown ‘ripples’ in the sand more clearly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFuerteventura is a barren island in the Canaries, best known for sunshine, beaches and strong winds, which give the island it’s name.  These images are from the Sand Dunes immediately south of Corralejo, at the north end of the island.

Dorset Coast – 1

I struggle with post titles, so I’m going to continue the trend that I’ve adopted recently, at least where I think there will be more with the same theme.

Today it is cold and grey, and getting colder according to the weather man.  This picture is from a stroll on the beach at Burton Bradstock yesterday, when the sun was shining and all was good in the world.  It was not too chilly, at least not for the young lady taking a dip.  She said that she swims all summer and couldn’t see a reason to stop in the winter.  I was impressed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe moon was meant to be more prominent, but I recomposed to get the swimmer in and forgot it.  Silly me!

Fisheye Fun – 5

One serious problem with ‘fisheye’ photos is the difficulty of keeping unwanted elements out of the eventual image.  Since I’ve had this lens, I have taken numerous closeup pictures of fingers, thumbs, and camera straps, but I am now getting the hang of it.

The lens is still fun at the moment.  The Lloyd’s Building seemed to be crying out for attention when on a recent walk in London.  The only unwanted element in this one was a car parked in the lower right.  The clone tool fixed this!

Largely LloydsI had to decide whether to make this a Monochrome Moment or a bit of Fisheye Fun.  I thought Fisheye ruled for this one.

Monochrome Moments – 3

I’ve touched on Camera Club competitions before.  Well, we had another Camera Club competition last night and the theme for this competition was ‘Monochrome’, so I thought that a post about my efforts in this competition might fit the ‘Monochrome Moments’ series quite well.  I know that some ‘online photographers’ don’t have much time for Camera Clubs and competitions, and I do understand that point of view.  The Club does, however, get me out on a Monday night and it’s good to be able to mix with like minded people.  I also have a bit of a competitive streak in me, so it seems natural to enter the competitions and give support to the Club’s efforts in running them.

The Judge for this competition was very experienced, so I don’t think that there was much dissent from the opinions that he passed on the evening’s images, certainly not from me.  I thought that I would use ‘Monochrome Moments – 3′ to describe what I may have learned from last night’s judging of one of my entries.

Although sometimes I have managed to shoot specifically for a competition, frequently I find myself trawling through recent images that I have taken, trying to decide what might make a suitable entry.  For this competition I needed four images but this post will talk about just one.

None of the observations that the judge made are new.  We are all aware of the potential pitfalls that a photographer can make.  The problem is that we can also momentarily forget some of these pitfalls when we spot an image that we think just needs to be captured.  This was what I was guilty of when pressing the shutter release on this occasion.  The next image is the one that I entered although the original vision was of a colour image.

The sun was low, the scene was peaceful and I really loved the reflections.  I wanted to capture these reflections.  I also wanted to use the path to the Mill as a ‘lead in’, and I spotted the small boat pulled up on the shore on the right hand side, thinking that this might add interest to the scene. Click!

Carew Tidal MillGo on – pull it apart.  Well, the Mill isn’t ‘on a third’, which I thought was acceptable bearing in mind I had already considered what I wanted to show.  The power lines and poles hadn’t really been considered.  I think I knew that they were there, but didn’t think them an issue at the time.  The judge last night did appreciate the reflections, but thought that the right hand end of the image was not worth keeping.  He would rather have seen the Mill depicted in a portrait configuration, which would have had the benefit of removing ‘the ugly post on the right’ (his words).  Sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ was a message that he passed several times during the evening.  I couldn’t get a ‘vertical’ crop without loosing the ‘lead in’ from the bottom left, so I opted to try a square crop. Carew Tidal MillSince the judge didn’t like the power lines and the post on the right, I took the opportunity to remove the rest of them.  Here is a ‘letterbox’ crop like the original effort, but with the offending electricity removed.

Carew Tidal MillHaving listened to the judge’s words, and taken another critical look at the image, I have to agree with him.  I do now think that the square crop is best, even though I do still like the original ‘letterbox’ crop.  What I have learned is that I do need to be much more critical at the stage where the image is recorded, and also that it is well worth exploring the options when preparing an image for competition, posting or printing.  Available time is of course the thing that will likely make me forget what I have learned.

That’s it for Monochrome Moments – 3.  Perhaps another of my entries for last night’s competition will make it into Monochrome Moments – 4.

Monochrome Moments – 2

The next one in this series is also from our walk around London at the end of October.  Having walked through the City, we were returning to the South Bank over the Millenium Bridge.  Having just fitted my Samyang Fisheye, I thought it would be worth a bit of a ‘panorama’ looking downstream towards The Shard.  I guess that I could have used this image in the Fisheye Fun series, but having done a mono conversion, I thought that this series might be more appropriate.

Although it is not so far, the fisheye lens makes Tower Bridge appear miles away.  The B&W conversion was done by ‘fiddling around’ in Topaz B&W Effects.  I can’t remember the actual adjustments now.

From The Millenium BridgeI guess that if I could have worked out how to do it, this could have been an entry into the five days black and white challenge suggested by Mike Osborn in his comment to my Monochrome Moments – 1.  I may just go ahead and post a few more on a daily basis anyway.