Posts from the ‘light’ category

Stop, look, wait and observe….

This entry is all about one image, which I have called ‘Walking Stick’.

The photograph was taken in the middle of the day just a few days ago. In December the sun is very low in the sky and the pavements are often wet from an early morning shower, but then never dry out as it’s too cold and damp.  In strong sunlight this combination can result in a lot of contrast and reflection. Surrounded by Christmas shoppers I looked around me and saw the different textures in the paving stones and back lit people in silhouette. The shot just needed someone to come into the frame. I took three or four shots by way of an experiment to make sure I had the correct exposure. With such extremes of light and dark, it would be very easy to have blown highlights by over exposing the photograph.

I waited a few minutes when a man with a walking stick came into my field of view. The camera was set to ‘single shot’ even though the Olympus EM5 can take 9 shots per second. I released the shutter at what I thought would be the best moment and the camera with its really fast autofocus did the rest.

The rather intriguing and perhaps mysterious result is shown below.

Walking stick

I quickly looked at the screen on the back of my camera……reviewed the shot and frankly couldn’t wait to get home to download the image and find out whether or not the camera was capable of capturing such a wide dynamic range. I used my usual workflow of Lightroom 4 and then Silver Efex Pro2 for the black and white conversion.

I was delighted with the result and it reminded me of the famous and much repeated saying by Henri Cartier-Bresson – ‘the decisive moment’. On this occasion I believe I have captured that moment. A few minutes later the sun went behind a cloud and the lighting effect was lost.

It also embraces a saying which I have adopted for my photography –

“Stop, look, wait and observe….then capture the world in a different light”

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Gathering storm at East Head

Last Friday was the second time I didn’t need to go into the office. It’s still a strange feeling working a four day week, but a very pleasant one all the same!  Having decided that I would try and devote some of my time every Friday to my photography, I thought that I should rekindle the Nikon D90 DSLR and perhaps visit the coast – attach a wide angle lens and see what I can produce.

Breakfast over, I packed everything I thought I might need in my camera bag and headed down to West Wittering, with the specific intention of exploring East Head. The sky was blue and completely void of clouds. A beautiful morning but as I drove to my destination I thought the weather was just too fine for the type of images I had envisaged taking. The weather forecast had indicated that by lunchtime clouds and maybe the odd the shower, would arrive from the west. I thought better of a morning shoot, turned the car round and headed home to do some gardening!
By lunchtime the weather forecast proved to be accurate; so back in the car and I headed south. As I parked up, the cloud formations were taking shape and I knew the decision I had made earlier to postpone my ‘shutter therapy’ (a phrase coined by Robin Wong – read his blog here) had been the right one.
By late afternoon the rain clouds appeared to the north and the wind moved them swiftly across the South Downs from west to east. In the meantime East Head itself was still bathed in glorious autumnal sun, which resulted in the three images below.

I returned home, downloaded the images using Lightroom and converted to monochrome in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Storm approaching.
Nikon D90 with 16-85mm @ 19mm f18 1/80 ISO200 hand heldStorm clouds at East Head

Sand dunes and wind blown grasses
Nikon D90 10-24mm @10mm f10 1/160 ISO200 hand heldSand dunes at East Head

East Head – the gathering storm
Nikon D90 16-85mm @16mm f18 1/125 ISO200 hand heldStorm approaching East Head at Wittering

Photo opportunities – always have a camera with you

So often when out and about, I see something and say to myself if only I had my camera with me. Every photographer will have uttered those words at some time and probably more than once! Well from now on I will try and avoid that mistake. I will also follow the saying which states – ‘the best camera, is the one you have with you’. How true is that! The next couple of images were taken on the way to somewhere else, with no intention whatsoever of releasing the shutter on the journey but on both occasions I did have a camera in the car.

The first is a shot of the late afternoon light on the South Downs in West Sussex between the villages of Amberley and Storrington. This was captured with the Olympus EM5 and 45mm 1.8 prime lens. Its not the best landscape photograph I have ever taken but I think its quite pleasing and I wouldn’t have it at all, if I hadn’t got the camera with me.

Afternoon sun on the South Downs

The second image is a sky scape taken on my way home from work. The dramatic clouds and light were crying out to be caught on camera. On this occasion the Olympus E-PL3 was in the car with nothing more than the standard kit lens and attached EVF (electronic viewfinder). An almost essential extra when in bright light.


Once downloaded into Lightroom on the computer at home, I wondered how well this image would convert to black and white. Well here is that version using my favourite ‘plug-in’ for Lightroom – Silver Efex Pro.

Late afternoon sky on the south coast

Which one do I prefer? Well I’m not sure, they both have their merits, I think its down to personal choice. If I had to come off the fence then the ‘black and white’ version would win the day. All I do know is that had the little Olympus E-PL3 not been in the car, there wouldn’t be a choice, as there wouldn’t be a photograph to look at!

Olympus E-PL3 with 14-42 kit lens
The Olympus E-PL3 which started my love of the micro 4/3rds format.