alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘places’ category

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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Eigg revisted

In September 2011 I went on my first photographic workshop with Bruce Percy to the Isle of Eigg which is just off the West Coast of Scotland. Ever since I first visited this beautiful part of the world some thirty years ago, its always been a place I have wanted to return to, and to this very day, still do. So the opportunity some fifteen months ago to combine my relatively new interest in photography with a trip to the Isle of Eigg was greatly anticipated. It was a wonderful few days despite the fact that it was cut short by one day, because the weather closed in and the group feared that the Cal Mac ferry back to the mainland might not sail when scheduled. Despite this I still came home with several memory cards full of images.

Bruce was a great tutor and fun to be with. I love his work, which has now been published in two books – ‘The Art of Adventure’ and ‘Iceland – A Journal of Nocturnes’. But for his teaching and his inspiration I am not sure my photography would be where it is today. Thanks Bruce!

Although the title of this post might suggest that I have been back to Eigg, sadly this is not the case. One day I would love to return but for the moment I thought I would look back on some of the images I took whilst on the island and reprocess a few of them. I would like to think that my photography has come a long way since the workshop. At the time of my visit, I was almost exclusively taking colour images and not converting them to black and white. My knowledge of post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop was also quite basic and I had never heard of Silver Efex Pro which I now use all the time.

The fact that I am now looking at the world in monochrome is perhaps down to a black and white conversion of one of the photographs I took on the workshop. This image is ‘Sand Waves’ and can be seen by clicking on the link. I shall not feature it here because its already appeared in a  number of earlier posts. Looking back I guess the way I chose to process this photo was really the start of my love affair with black and white, and this has grown and grown in the intervening period.

So here are a few of the photographs I took on Eigg. They have all been processed in the past few days from the original RAW file. Its very interesting for me to compare these results with how I tackled the question of post processing over a year ago. I was pleased with the results then but in my view the latest set of images help me to understand the direction in which my photography is taking me. It’s exciting to learn and develop new skills which I hope and intend to build upon in the  year ahead.

Reflections in the sand
Reflections in the Sand

Fading light over Rum
Fading light over Rum
Solitary shell - looking towards Rum
Solitary Shell – looking towards Rum
Clouds over Rum
Clouds over Rum

In total I took over 600 images when I was on the Isle of Eigg. From this number the four photos above and two others, namely ‘Sand Waves’ and ‘Sea Swirl’ are the six shots I am most pleased with. A return of 1 in 100 shutter releases. What this has taught me  is that I need to try and pre-visualise the shot I am taking before releasing the shutter. Asking myself how it is composed, how do I deal with the exposure, do I need to use filters and lastly how will I post process the image? I therefore need to take more time before taking a shot. I would have to adopt this approach if using a film camera – in many ways the digital age has made us lazy…….we can click and click and click to our hearts content but that won’t necessarily produce a good image.

It reminds me of the saying and I quote –

‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away’ 

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Reflections on Salisbury

At the end of last week the preview evening for the annual Southern Photographic Federation Exhibition took place in the Wiltshire county town of Salisbury and I thought it woud be a good idea to attend. It’s about 60 miles from home so it made sense to me to go there for the day and take a look at the City and its Cathedral. Although I had passed through Salisbury, I had never actually stopped, so I can’t say I knew the place at all.

The River Avon passes through the centre of Salisbury and the Cathedral which dates back to 1220, has water meadows to the south and west. In 2012 the UK experienced its second highest rainfall total and it was particularly bad towards the end of the year. As a consequence the river was badly swollen and parts of the water meadows which are normally dry, were flooded. The photo below was taken from, believe it or not, playing fields which adjoin the meadows. You can just about make out three benches in the middle distance which were inaccessible but for a pair of wellington boots or waders.

‘Reflection of a Spire’

Reflections of a Spire

Once inside the Cathedral I was very taken by the four cornered font which was designed by William Pye and installed in 2008 to commemmorate the 750th Anniversay of the Cathedral. Consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury the font is used for baptisms, but it also serves as a wonderful reflective surface as you will see below.

‘Arches in Reflection’

Arches in Reflection - Salisbury Cathedral

I am delighted with this image. Out of necessisty it was hand held with the camera just above the surface of the water. I doubt a tripod with its head could have been placed in this position. I also doubt that an amatuer photographer would have been allowed to use one anyway. I did ramp up the ISO to 2500 on the EM5, but using the Olympus 12mm @ f2, I still managed a shutter speed of 1/60th sec. On my return from Salisbury I processed the above image and uploaded it to Flickr. It was the second consecutive image of mine to be chosen for ‘Explore’ and as a result it quickly became my most popular image, nearly 3,000 views and over 300 ‘favourites’ in a 48 hour period. Does this make it a good photograph for a club competition or future exhibition? In this case I think it does and I will look forward to entering ‘Arches in Reflection’ in the near future.

The Cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral are the largest in the UK so had to be photographed. The theme of this entry is ‘Reflections’ and this image still has a place but this time the reflections are of a different nature – Reflections of the Spirit. I could just imagine monks or countless numbers of worshippers over the centuries seeking peace and quiet in this special place. I deliberately kept the bench seat small in the composition as I didn’t want it to detract from the wonderful arches of the building.

‘Reflections of the Spirit’

Salisbury Cathedral Cloisters

As I walked around the ‘water meadows’ I came across a man sitting on a park bench and eating his lunch. A normal event but on this occasion he was ankle deep in the flood waters. It makes for a rather amusing scene.

‘I always sit here!’

I always sit here!
And lastly the same individual but having changed the composition there is a greater feeling of isolation and I am left wondering what thoughts are going through his mind. 
‘A moment to reflect’
A moment to reflect

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Swanage Pier – a photo opportunity

Swanage is a small seaside town on the Purbeck coastline of Dorset. Although I had been to the town before I had not seen the pier, so a quick detour to our journey seemed like a good idea, despite the fact that we would arrive mid afternoon and the light would be fading fast. There wouldn’t be a great deal of time for photography but in many ways the short stop was to see whether or not another visit would be worthwhile when I had more time. As we parked the car I noticed a ‘Trompe L’oiel’ on a derelict building opposite the pier. In the bottom right hand corner was this inscription. An omen perhaps?

All the photos were taken using the Olympus OMD EM5 and Olympus 45mm f1.8 prime lens.

A photo opportunity

There are in fact two piers at Swanage. The remains of the original pier which was built in 1859 and the ‘new’ pier, which was built in 1895, the latter having undergone considerable restoration in recent years.

Swanage Pier

The original pier

The Original Pier

As I walked along the pier I noticed that the vast majority of the wooden planks included a small brass plate with an inscription. In one or two cases a floral tribute had been left, probably on Christmas Day which only adds to the poignancy of the next two images.

Floral tribute on Swanage Pier

Another floral tribute

Floral tribute on Swanage Pier (2)

There are many benches along the promenade looking out to the sea. On this particular bench was a pair of shoes and a single sock. I only hope the owner returned from his paddle, together with the missing sock, on what was a particularly cold day.

Shoes and a sock

The magnificent trompe l’oiel I referred to at the beginning of this entry. The ‘photo opportunity’ inscription can be seen in the bottom right hand corner.

Trompe l'oeil on derelict building in Swanage

Another trompe l’oiel which has been painted on a shutter board in a window

Trompe l'oell near Swanage Pier

As the light faded the full moon joined the sea gulls in the sky

Full moon over Swanage Pier

Swanage Pier is definitely a ‘photo opportunity’ and one I hope to return to in the not too distant future.

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The Cathedral City of Chichester

I am very fortunate to be able to call the ancient city of Chichester my home. Whilst our house is not in centre of the city, its not far from where I live, so its a place my family and I frequently visit. From a photographic point of view it has so much to offer but because it’s on my doorstep its all too easy to take for granted the splendour of it’s buildings, the Cathedral in particular.

I had a couple of hours spare about a week ago, and as it was reasonably dry and bright, I decided to walk around and take a few photographs. I concentrated my time on the Cathedral and in Priory Park which is still within the Roman City Walls but over to the North East corner. As well as taking some well known ‘tourist views’ I also took one or two more close up shots which also say something about the place.

When I came to post processing, I converted the images in Silver Efex Pro2 but thought it would be appropriate on this occasion to apply a slight sepia tone, which to me introduced a little warmth and softened the picture. All the shots were taken with Olympus OMD EM5.

As mentioned before Chichester has a wealth of buildings and subjects to photograph. Add in seasonal variations and I am all too aware that I have only scratched the surface, so I am sure there will more entries on Chichester in the future. In the meantime here is a selection of the images I took that day.

Chichester Cathedral from Canon Lane.

Chichester Cathedral from Canon Lane

Chichester Cathedral spire taken from Bishops Palace Garden which is to the west of the Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral from Bishops Palace Gardens

Bishops Palace Garden – a fine place to relax and do The Times crossword perhaps?

Relaxation

The imposing statue of St Richard which greets everyone as they walk up the shallow set of steps from West Street on their way to main west entrance of St Richard’s Cathedral

The statue of St Richard

The beautiful arches of The Cloisters

The Cloisters of Chichester Cathedral

A bust of Queen Elizabeth II at the West Entrance to the Cathedral

Queen Elizabeth II

A bust of the Duke of Edinburgh also at the West Entrance

Duke of Edinburgh

Just one of the many attractive rows of houses in a side street near Priory Park

Chichester side street

Priory Park and The Guildhall

The Guildhall, Priory Park

A statue in Priory Park. Some think it is Moses, others Neptune, whilst it is also thought it could b a druid.

Statue in Priory Park

One final image of Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral

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