Posts tagged ‘colour’

Question – How simple can it be?

Answer – Not as simple as the title of this post would suggest.

When composing an image I have often read: ‘It’s not what you include, it’s what you choose to leave out’. Just think about that for a moment. It’s certainly worth having that thought in mind when you are framing your next shot.

I have always been drawn to simple compositions. A complicated image with many elements can be a challenge to appreciate, there can be just too much going on. The emotional reaction to a busy image can be one of excitement or tension, whereas an image with simplicity at its heart can be quite the reverse, being both quiet and restful. But even with a ‘simple’ image there are still choices to be made, so I thought it would be interesting to analyse the four photographs in this post. They all share the same viewpoint and were taken during the blue hour after the sun had set.

The composition of first image which is shown below is split into three broadly equal parts. The upper third being the sky, the middle third the sea, and the lower third the movement of the lapping tide where it meets the shingle shoreline. In essence a very starightforward composition.

In the second image I have stepped back from the shoreline so the bottom section has less detail. The horizon now intersects the midde of the frame revealing more of the sky. And lastly the exposure time was longer than the first image, which has resulted in less texture in the water. In my view this is now a simplified version of an already fairly simple image.

The third image shares much in common with the second. The horizon still splits the frame in two, the exposure time was about the same, but crucially the shoreline has been left out. Instead of three main elements there are now just two; the sky and the sea. A further simplification but as a consequnce you might now ask yourself the question whether this was taken from dry land or out at sea. Not only is this third image simpler than the previous two versions, it evokes a very different feeling.

In the third image you might have also noticed that I did adjust the colour balance, but what happens if all colour is removed and the photograph becomes monochrome? Again it’s a further simplification of the scene. There is little or no detail in the sky and the juxtaposition of warm and cool tones (above) has also been lost.

It is not for me to say which is best or which one I like best, they all have their merits in my opinion. However I hope they illustrate the point I wanted to make in this post. What might at first glance appear to be a simple scene, the photographer is still required to make a number of decisions. What to leave in and what to leave out. How fast or slow should the shutter speed be. Where does the horizon line sit in the frame. What colour balance should be used or should all colour be removed. Some of these choices can be made in post production, others must be made before the shutter is pressed. Undeniably though each of these choices will have an impact on the final image; how it feels and the emotional impact it has on the viewer.

As an aside the last photograph in the series was inspired by the work of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. It also just happens to be my most ‘liked’ photograph on my Instagram account.

Arguably it is the most simple composition I have ever posted – so is simple, simply the best?

Autumn mist (Part 1)……when warm and cool tones typify this time of year.

I don’t know of any outdoor photographer who doesn’t love shooting at this time of year. The cooler mornings when mist is so often present, coupled with warm autumnal tones, is such a wonderful combination.

In my last post I went out with the deliberate intention of taking photographs. The selection you can see here were all taken a couple of weeks back on an early morning dog walk in a woodland area near my home. A spontanous photographic session which is more my style. If the light and weather are favourable I like to take advantage.

My recently acquired Fuji XT3 and 55-200mm f3.5 to f4.8 lens compressed the field of view which suits this type of subject rather well. Until recently my longest focal length was 90mm in 35mm full frame terms, but given the APSC crop factor of the Fuji, this new set up gives me a range of 83mm to 300mm. A vast difference and I am enjoying being able to compose my landscape images in a very different way. It’s not the fastest lens on the planet, but it does have built in Optical Image Stabalisation (OIS) which for these shots negated the need for a tripod.

Slowly but surely I am becoming more comfortable with colour photography. It provides me with another creative dimension. Another form of expression. It’s very satisfying and rewarding to be persuing a different path and I am particularly looking forward to the weeks ahead as autumn turns to winter. Shorter days but given the right conditions so much potential.

This is the first entry in a short series as I have other similar images which I would like to share with you.

Thanks as always for taking the time to look at my work. It is very much appreciated.

A return to a favourite location – to find a feeling of calm and stillness.

Much has been written in recent times about how the combination of photography and mindfulness can be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Simply being out in the open, experiencing nature and witnessing the marvel of the created world has to be good for the soul. Most people worry and are anxious from time to time without actually suffering from a mental illness, myself included.

As well as taking regular exercise for your physical fitness, I recognise that doing things which specifically help your mental wellbeing are just as important, perhaps even more so given the world in which we live right now. So whilst stress and anxiety are not really a big issue for me, we can all benefit from being creative in a beautiful location and in so doing capturing a few special moments with a camera.

A few weeks ago I returned to one of my favourite places. East Head at West Wittering on the West Sussex coast. Probably one of the finest stretches of sand along the south coast and often listed in ‘Britain’s Best Beaches’. More often than not I am there with my wife and our dog early in the morning. On this occasion I went there on my own for a couple of hours not to walk but to photograph. I chose one particular spot, and then observed the tide receding and captured the setting sun. Because of the fading light and a desire to smooth the water all of the images you see here were long exposures which of course required the use of a tripod. This in itself forced me to slow down.

With no pressure on my time I could relax and concentrate on what I was doing. Whilst waiting for the light to change I simply stopped and watched the sun work its magic in the sky. Any worrying thoughts I had were lifted; as there was no space in my mind for anything other than photography and the scenery around me. Just ‘being in the moment’ to coin a phrase. Photographing sunsets is something of a cliche, but does that matter? Not in my opinion when the benefits are so tangible.

It has been a while since I last updated this blog and I am pleased to have another three or four entries to compose and publish soon. All of which will feature colour photographs as this seems to be the path I am following for now. I am also aware that I need to spend some time updating this website generally to reflect this change of direction. There are also a number of camera and processing techniques which I have yet to try – for example, focus stacking and exposure blending. Nothing new or original, just something I have never done before, so when I do I will endeavour to write about my experiences and share some images.

For now though I will simply leave you with this summary. If you are a creative (it doesn’t have to be photography), then put aside some time in your diary, head out to a favourite location and turn off your phone. Try and relax and take a few deep breaths, whilst you experience and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, And perhaps for the time you are there some of your worries will ease, as a feeling of calm and stillness prevails.

The rush to share….. or is patience rewarded?

In this day and age when instant gratification is the order of the day there is a tendency to share our images on social media without a moments hesitation, particularly if you think you have a ‘keeper’ on the memory card. I can be as guilty of this trait as anyone but I am trying to be more patient before uploading to Instagram or indeed this blog.

I have a quiet admiration of photographers who return from a shoot, download their images but then wait several weeks or even months before processing the files. Their reasoning is that as each day passes they become more detached from the actual event of taking the photograph and their memory of what they saw changes with the passage of time. As a consequence when the moment comes to process the images their approach is different to how it might have been if they had processed the photograph almost immediately after the picture had been captured. The final result can be an image which is more likely to reflect what they think they saw and how they feel, not what they actually saw. This is an important difference in the art of picture making.

I believe there are benefits to be had by proceeding more slowly even if waiting weeks or months is outside the realms of possibility for me at the moment. I don’t possess that degree of will power.

Take the image which accompanies this post. A dramatic depiction of Racton Tower, a subject which I have photographed on previous occasions. As I start down this road of making colour images I am already becoming increasingly aware of how subtle and not so subtle changes in colour can influence the look and feel of an image, not to forget of course all the other tools we have at our disposal.

I therefore decided to spend more time than usual on this image. I processed a number of different versions over several days followed by a review a day or two later, I compared one with another believing I would benefit from this approach. What did I like and what did I think worth changing to improve the picture. It hasn’t take weeks but it has been a much slower and more considered process.

I am pleased with the final result. As it happens it’s not so very different to the first version I made but it does include some enhancements which only became evident by giving myself the time to stand back, observe and be more critical. I like to think my patience has been rewarded and not just because I have made an image which pleases me, but because the process itself has been a more enjoyable and enhanced learning experience.

Harvesting the light……a few days of constant change in the countryside.

In the past week I have enjoyed watching the barley corn being harvested in the field behind where we live. The straw has been made into bales and as I type these words they are now being moved, so this rather lovely scene will soon be over for another year.

Farmer’s are well known for moaning about the weather. Too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot and so the list goes on. When it comes to harvesting the forecast is critical to the success or otherwise of a crop which has taken months to come to fruition. The moisture content of the crop needs to be below a certain threshold for harvesting and when the conditions look right it is all hands to the deck.

The weather has been very mixed in the last week. We had a mini heat wave with temperatures in the high 80’s for several days on the trot. Ideal for harvesting, but as so often happens in this country a spell of hot weather is often followed by thunderstorms and rain.

Photographers are also know to complain about the weather or the light and I have written before that high summer does not always yield the best light for photography. It’s often far too harsh but there is no point wishing for something different, you have to work with what you are given and make the most of it.

If you read my last post you will know that I am making a concerted effort to create more colour images. For the purposes of this entry I have decided to include some monochrome pictures as well, as they form part of the narrative…..but it’s the colour work which are the feature.

I have tried to capture these changing weather conditions and of course the light. On the day the bale maker arrived the clouds came in, a foretaste of a distinct change in the weather (picture above). That same evening I sat in my chair relaxing, when I noticed some beautiful warm light. I grabbed my camera to capture the golden glow of evening sunshine. Dark clouds were gathering on the horizon, as a thunderstorm moved in from the south.

A couple of days later and once again the blue skies returned and so did the crows to feast on the corn. Having been a committed black and white photographer for many years I couldn’t resist including both mono and colour versions. I will leave it to you to decide if you have a preference.

And finally in this series, a cloudscape looking west across the field as the day came to close. The straw bales play second fiddle to the dramatic sky but they do make for an interesting horizon and of course provide context to the scene.

In summary a very enjoyable and satisfying few days of photography, taking opportunities when they arose. Not waiting for the light but knowing that the waether and the story of harvesting could and probably would change at any time. The bales of straw have all been moved, stacked along the edge of the field. Acquaintances for a while, I shall miss them, but I look forward to making more colour images of another subject very soon.

Until then thanks for looking.