The Solar Eclipse 2015

I didn’t really have any intentions to photograph the recent Solar Eclipse, and as it turned out, this was just as well.  Our home town was fairly densely covered with cloud and mist throughout the period when the eclipse should have been visible.  There were, however, a few opportunities to glimpse this event through very brief gaps in the cloud and mist and here are a couple of shots, just to prove it.

I’d already decided that I needed a 10 stop ND on the camera for safety, and I didn’t really want to use my E-M1, just in case the sun was bright and might damage the sensor.  For this reason, my first shot was with only a 12-60 mm lens, which ND filter fitted.  Much too heavy a crop was required, but it was only a minute or two before the maximum eclipse here so I thought it worth keeping.

Solar Eclipse.  Near optimum timing through mist and cloud.

After that, the fog settled in until about 10-15 minutes before the eclipse was completely over.  There was then a very brief opportunity, by which time I had fitted a longer lens and held the ND filter in front of it.

Solar Eclipse 2, just before it ended.Not good photos, but at least they remind me that I did see the solar eclipse.

Attempts at ‘Street Photography’ – 1

Frankly, ‘street photography’ terrifies me.  That’s why I haven’t posted much which could be considered of this genre.  Last night was the judging of the 4th of this seasons Camera Club competitions, and the topic for ‘prints’ was ‘street photography.  Oh happiness, or perhaps more accurately, oh hell!

I didn’t have much expectation of success, particularly because I hadn’t been able to take any street photos especially for the competition.  This had left me rummaging around in my archives for some images to use, and there wasn’t much there.  I had some, which I really classed as ‘travel’, so I dismissed them, only to find that an image which I would have put in that category earned a place in the results.  Live and learn!  It was a great image anyway.  In the end, I entered a couple of images which I had taken at the Bemondsey Street Festival, a while back, one of which has been seen on this blog.  I wasn’t hopeful.

The one which I had published in a previous post, in colour, I printed in black and white for this competition, thinking that it might give more of a ‘street’ feel.  The judge said that he wished that I had printed it in colour.  Live and learn!  To be fair, the image was a little lacking in street ambience, and I did prefer it in colour myself.

The second image that I entered, was of a girl singer, performing in the street.  I’d always liked the image, but it did have a few too many distractions in it.  I have a very limited Photoshop ability and was unable to get rid of the distractions properly in the time that I gave myself.  Always last minute when producing for a competition!  In the end, I cropped it heavily (not appropriate for ‘street photography’), and entered it anyway.  There were some particularly bright distractions in the background that I hadn’t noticed until I had printed it.  They fell just in front of the singer’s face and did spoil the picture, having similar tones to her face.  The image would never have made it in this competition because of the tight crop, and failed as I suspected that it would.

It spite of what I have just said, the judge for this competition was excellent, and made some very valid points about all of the images entered.  I certainly learned from the experience.  After all these words, here is just one image for this post.  It is a further rework of the Street Singer, and I still quite like it.  I have now managed to tone down the distractions a bit.

Girl singer at the Bermondsey Street Festival

Girl singer at the Bermondsey Street Festival

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.