alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘Silver Efex Pro2’ category

Foggy morning on the south coast

 

Boat by the pier

Boat by the pier

The weather has been quite glorious for the past week or two, but sometimes at this time of year the coastline can be affected by sea fog. More often that not it burns off but while it lasts it will bring the temperature right down. A few hundred yards inland it can be bright sunshine and much warmer.

The weather forecast predicted early morning fog, so I left for work much earlier than normal, took my camera and walked along the seafront for about half an hour and took the photographs you can see in this entry. I like the emptiness of a seaside resort first thing in the morning and when coupled with the fog it takes on a very different feel. Later in the day the blue skies and warm sunshine had encouraged people to come out and the coastline took on a whole new character.

 

Painted hut

Painted hut

 

Cockles and whelks

Cockles and whelks

 

Empty tables

Empty tables

 

Gull on a groyne

Gull on a groyne

 

Boat and huts

Boat and huts

 

Lone walker

Lone walker

All of the images in this post were taken with a Leica M Monochrom and 50mm Summilux lens. Straight out of the camera the images are very flat so they do need processing. I used Lightroom and then applied a Kodak Tri X 400 ‘film type’ preset in Silver Efex Pro which adds some grain and contrast to the image.

Click on any the photographs to view a larger version.

A Monochrome Masterclass and a visit to Wells

Chimneys and cobbles

Chimneys and cobbles
Vicars Close, Wells

 

Last weekend I was staying near Bridgend in South Wales so that I could attend a ‘Monochrome Masterclass’ being run by Andy Beel FRPS. It was an excellent day. Cameras never saw the light of day but the four participants, including myself, had the opportunity to share our work and discuss ways in which our monochrome images could be improved. Andy provided a comprehensive set of notes for us to take away, as well as showing us many examples of his own work to illustrate the points he wanted to get across.

For me it was a very thought provoking day. So often my photography is reactive, not planned, and I realise I need to give much greater thought to the images I am taking. Why am I pressing the shutter at that particular moment and from that particular position? What do I want my images to ‘say’ to the viewer? Am a trying to put together a body or panel of work? Am I working on a particular project, whether short or long term? Do my images have a certain style? Does it matter if they don’t? After all an image can stand on its own, although a collection of images can work even better if you are trying to tell a story or make a statement. All these questions require thought and hopefully some answers. In many ways they are not just about photography and could be applied to many other art forms.

The workshop took place on Saturday. I stayed overnight and planned to return home on Sunday, picking my daughter up from Bath on the way. This would give me some time on Sunday morning to take some photographs. Unfortunately the weather was appalling. Heavy rain and strong winds ruled out any outdoor photography, so I decided to head for the Cathedal City of Wells which is about a 20 minute drive from Bath. It would give me the opportunity to take some images inside the Cathedral and in and around the city if the weather improved. Wells is a small and beautiful City and with hardly any tourists around there was plenty to see and photograph. The wet conditions actually worked to my advantage as the  photograph at the top of this entry illustrates. I think the wet cobble stones really add something to the atmosphere of this shot.

Here are a selection of other images –

 

The Scissor Arches

The Scissor Arches

 

The Nave, Wells Cathedral

The Nave, Wells Cathedral

 

Underneath this stone

Underneath this stone

I particularly like the above image. The light on the line of chairs and on the memorial floor stone are ideally suited to monochrome. The fact the chairs are empty, could be interpreted as people who are no longer with us but the inscriptions in the slabs mean that their lives will be remembered forever.

 

The Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

The Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

A classical and arguably a rather cliched view of the cloisters but one that just had to be taken.

 

Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

 

Cloisters' End

Cloisters’ End

 

South Aisle, Wells Cathedral

South Aisle, Wells Cathedral

Something I learnt on the workshop – From a compositional point of view something on the the edge or in the corner of an image can work well; you don’t always have to apply the ‘rule of thirds’, in fact it can be rather boring and repetitive if you do!

 

Wells Staircase

‘Vicars’ Staircase

This staircase and doorway leads from Vicars Close back towards the Cathedral. Warn steps and doorways have great appeal to me. You just can’t but help wonder how many people over many centuries have walked up and down this staircase and opened and closed the arched door.

 

Wells Catherdral

Wells Cathedral
An empty cafe on a wet day, overlooking the Cathedral

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to Wells and like so many places it’s definitely worthy of a return journey. Nor will I worry if it’s raining or not. In fact the inclement conditions kept the crowds away and in the case of ‘Chimneys and Cobbles’ made the photograph all the more interesting.

All of the images in this post were taken with an Olympus OMD EM1 and Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 lens, processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro2. Click on any of the images to view a larger version.

Finally a big thank you to Andy Beel and to the other participants of the Monochrome Masterclass. In March I didn’t post a single entry on this blog but hopefully my creative juices have started to flow again!

Cley Windmill – decisions, decisions.

Cley Windmill

 

I recently uploaded this photo of Cley Windmill to Flickr. A traditional view and treatment of this much photographed and prominent building on the North Norfolk Coast. A relatively pleasing image, well composed I think, but is there anything more to say about it, or just as importantly, could I do more with it in post processing?

When I looked at it again a few days later,  I wondered whether or not I should have processed it in another way and that got me thinking. What if I came up with three more versions of the same image using only Silver Efex Pro2, promising myself that I would take no more than five minutes on each version. My plan was to start with one of the many pre-sets and then make some minor adjustments until I finished with an image I liked but had a very different look to the first attempt. What would I learn from this quick experiment? Would I prefer any of the ‘new’ pictures? ….. and finally how would all these photographs compare to the original RAW file from the Leica M Monchrom. Just how flexible are the files it produces?

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The Reader – a new approach to my photography perhaps?

The Reader

The Reader

 

Following my one day workshop with Andy Beel in Bath recently, I have started to observe and then process my images differently. I would like to think that I am trying to approach my photography is a more artistic way. This ‘new’ style is also a result of my acquiring a Leica M Monochrom earlier this year, which when coupled with the 50mm f1.4 Summilux lens provides me with plenty of creative opportunities. The files it produces are quite superb and allow plenty of latitude in post processing. I have yet to fully appreciate all of its capabilities but the learning curve is a very good one! For a start, the one camera and one prime lens approach also means that I spend more time looking and taking pictures instead of zooming in and out, or swapping lenses. The fully manual controls also help to ensure I am thinking about the look I am trying to create. I haven’t perfected it yet, but manually focusing is getting much easier and more intuiative.

The shot featured in this entry was taken yesterday in the fishing village of West Bay in Dorset. I was attracted to the way the light fell on the man’s face and clothing as he sat in the winter sun by the harbour side, absorbed in the pages of his book. I guess he probably works in the fishing industry but found himself with time on his side. I have increased the contrast and darkened areas of the picture, so the eye is drawn to his profile which is sharp in comparison to the out of focus background. I also like the way the light is falling on the harbour wall as it disappears into the distance. I have added a ‘copper tone’ at 20% in Silver Efex which I think suits this image.

 

Thanks to everyone who has started following my blog recently.

 

 

Looking through the archives – Trees in the crop

From time to time I like to look back through the folders in my Lightroom catalogue and find photographs which have either not been processed, or even if they have, have yet to appear on my blog.

 

Trees in the crop

Trees in the crop

 

One such picture is this photograph of a small group of trees which were surrounded by a growing crop. Taken back in May in the lovely county of Dorset, I stood in the field and with a telephoto lens used the widest aperture opening available to me (f2.8) to throw the foreground out of focus. I wanted the viewers eye to be drawn to the trees and not have the distraction of the everything being in focus. I know that many landscape photographers will use a very small aperture (f16 or more) so that everything is sharp front to back, but the look I was looking for on this occasion, I think warranted a different approach.

Once converted to monochrome, I applied a ‘cream’ tone in Silver Efex Pro to give the image a little more warmth. A treatment I rather like for this type of shot. I hope you agree.

I shall keep looking through the archives as I never know what images I will find!