alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘clouds’ category

Looking through the archives – Dunes Fence

Dunes fence
Dunes Fence
There are occasions when I will look through my back catalogue and come across an image which I have not processed before. It can be fun, a voyage of discovery as I search through various folders hidden away in Lightroom, my default workflow program which I have used since 2009.
The above image of a fence on the dunes at East Head in West Wittering was taken in October 2012. When I first opened the shot, I thought it had promise and I immediately applied a square crop to the portrait 3×2 aspect ratio, as there was too much foreground and too much sky above the clouds. I also decided that I would process the image in a different way to my usual approach. After a quick black and white conversion in Lightroom, I exported the file into Photoshop, created a duplicate layer and smart object so that I could continue working on the image in Silver Efex Pro2.
After a few minutes of processing in Silver Efex, which included adding a ‘coffee’ tone, I returned to Photoshop for some fine tuning and the finished result heads this entry. Total processing time about 15 minutes. 
For me I enjoyed returning to a set of photographs taken about 18 months ago. Reliving the memories of a wonderful afternoon on the sands and the lovely cloud formations which are of course a key feature of this particular shot. I very rarely delete any photographs from my catalogue, unless they are obvious duds from the outset, and this is the reason why. Going back in time can reveal some new images which have some merit and are worth looking at in a fresh light, using perhaps some newly acquired processing skills to create an image which can be classified a ‘keeper’.

Harvest time

The time to harvest the crops is upon us. It’s the season when farmers have to make the sometimes difficult decision as is to when is the optimum time to roll out the combine harvester, maximise the yield and not to risk a change in the weather, as this has the potential to do untold damage to the crop, not to mention their bank balances.

The South Downs are covered in fields of wheat and on a recent walk the threatening shower clouds started to form, although the rain never fell one me fotunately.

This post of just four entries captures for me something of the beautiful downland scenery at this time of year.

Harvest shower
Harvest shower

I was drawn to the scene below of the old tree and the flowing lines of the field which had recently been harvested. A week later I returned to the same spot and these distinct lines were no longer so clearly defined. The ‘decisive moment’ of landscape photography.

The harvest tree
The harvest tree

In the next image, which I have called ‘Harvest Enemy’, I have tried to capture the mood of a brewing storm which threatens the crop of wheat in the field below.

Harvest enemy in mono
Harvest enemy

I rarely process my work in colour but on this occasion I particularly liked the the contrast in colour between the field of wheat and the threatening sky. I also used a ‘letterbox’ crop instead of a ‘5×4’ crop which was applied to the mono version of the same RAW file.

Harvest enemy
Harvest enemy in colour
I love this time of year as the summer draws to a close and the more changeable weather of autumn starts to appear. Will I be drawn to more colour work to capture the wonderful autumnal colours?, This I don’t know, only time will tell. Whatever happens, I will be out with my camera doing what I enjoy most!

Idsworth Church – the return visit

A little while ago I decided to take a detour through the back roads of the West Sussex/Hampshire border. As I drove northwards from the village of Finchdean towards Petersfield, I spotted a church and a rather pleasing line of trees on the brow of a hill. I couldn’t stop on this occasion as I had passengers with me, but I vowed to return as I saw the potential for a photograph.

At the beginning of December I once again found myself in the same area and although it was quite late in the afternoon, I thought it might just be worth revisiting the location…..after all the light might just be right. To be honest I thought I had left it too late and although I took a few shots the sun was very low in the sky, hidden behind cloud, even though the clouds behind the church were broken. I waited a few minutes more before continuing on my journey home and it’s just as well I did. The sun fleetingly broke through, cast a shadow on the field in the foreground and lit up the church for one last time that day.  I did not use an ND grad which would have helped balance the exposure between the sky and what was now a dark foreground. Fortunately there was enough information in the RAW file to recover some detail in the shadows. The result is shown below.



Evening light on Idsworth Church
Evening light on Idsworth Church


I am still of the opinion that there are more opportunities to be had from this location, so I shall be returning once more to Idsworth, but when I do, I shall make sure I allow a little more time. One – to take advantage of the best light; two – to find the most favourable viewpoint and three – to have ND grads etc to hand should I need them.

It has also made me wonder whether or not ‘churches in the landscape’ might be an appropriate subject for my ‘ARPS’ panel, which I would like to work towards during the course of this year. I think I need to do some more exploring first, visiting possible locations and seeing whether or not there is sufficient material locally. If not, I will need to travel further afield but this would make the task a little more challenging!

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Bognor Regis – just being there.

Through my work and therefore out of necessity, I visit the seaside town of Bognor Regis on a regular basis. Situated on the Sussex Coast I have to say its not the most glamorous of resorts. Nevertheless the very fact that I find myself frequently in the town or driving along its seafront, it does provide some excellent opportunities for photography.

The three images which make up this entry were all taken on different days and at different times of the day.

The first image was an early evening shot taken in September of this year with the Olympus OMD EM5. I had just acquired the Panasonic 45 – 200 zoom lens (second hand from a fellow camera club member) and as I had not used it before, I was keen to see how well it paired with the camera and to see the results it produced. Its not every day that the such a beautiful cloudscape will appear in the sky, so I was fortunate to have chosen a great  evening for its first outing.

Early evening - Bognor Regis Pier


The second image is what I might call a ‘grab shot’. Taken around the middle of the day I had been driving along the seafront when I noticed a rainbow to the north. If I was quick I thought, I could park the car, hurry down to the seafront and take a shot of the beach huts in the foreground with the dark clouds and the rainbow as a backdrop. Unfortunately rainbows go as quickly as they come, so by the time I got to where I wanted to be the rainbow had lost all its intensity, and seconds later was no more. Mildly disappointed at the missed opportunity I turned around and composed the shot below, which in my view was more than adequate compensation. The couple walking along was a bonus, as it takes your eye right into the image. The Olympus E-PL3 with 14 – 42 kit lens worked a treat.

Beach huts

The third and final shot was taken early in the morning just a few days ago. Again the cloudscape was the reason for stopping the car and getting out, but I knew some foreground interest was required. I walked down to the foreshore and captured the image below, again with the E-PL3 and kit lens.

Rays of light over the sea

A famous quote attributed to the photographer called Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, is ‘f8 and be there’. None of these shots were taken at f8, but the second element is certainly true!

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‘To flip or not to flip?’ that is the question

In the past couple of weeks it has been suggested by two individuals on two separate occasions that I should consider ‘flipping’ one of my images. Their comments applied to two different photographs so it set me thinking whether or not I should apply this post production technique, as it’s not something I had ever considered doing before.

Obviously this technique could not be applied to an image with any writing or symbols, which when reversed, would no longer be legible and it would be clear to the viewer that they were in fact looking at the original image in a ‘mirror’. Neither could it apply to a recognisable landmark as it would no longer be a true representation of what the viewer expected to see. However if the image did not fall into either of these categories then what would be wrong with flipping? If the result is more pleasing to the eye, even though it no longer represents reality, then what’s the issue? After all the vast majority of my images are converted to monochrome because thats how I want my images to look. No one ‘sees’ in black and white so this change is applied for visual imapct. If I wanted my photographs to represent what people would actually see with their own eyes then frankly nearly all post production work would be a ‘no go’ area and even the choice of lens can distort what the eye actually sees, but thats a topic for another day.

Well, the only way to find out would be to try ‘flipping’ and to then compare and analyse the results.

The example I have chosen for this exercise is a shot taken at East Head in Wittering of wind swept sand dunes. The first image is the original photo followed by the flipped version. No other changes have been made.

Sand dunes at East Head

…..and now the flipped version.

Sand dunes at East Head - version 2 'flipped'

So which one works best? Well in my view the flipped version is the better photograph, it’s more visually pleasing. So why should this be?

In my opinion its down to two main factors. Firstly when we look at an image our first inclination is to start from the left hand side and our eyes then move to the right hand side. Our eyes naturally follow this path as we read from left to right……it therefore feels comfortable to look at an image in this way. Our eyes are also drawn to the brightest areas of an image; in this case the sand in the lower half of the picture. So when the image is flipped, the bright area is now on the left and not on the right. The lead in lines of the sand, take our eyes to the right, the grasses are also being ‘blown’ from the left, and our eyes find it much easier to move around the image. In the original shot this does not happen and our eyes find it difficult to settle, with the result that we see a ‘busy’ image and one that really doesn’t work that well, or not as well as it could when flipped. As there is nothing else in the image which would give the ‘flipping’ game away, the final result is in my opinion perfectly satisfactory and an acceptable form of post manipulation.

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