alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘countryside’

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.

Close to my back door …… when the light is right.

Earlier this month I posted my first entry on this blog for nearly 5 months. I am pleased this entry hasn’t taken quite so long!

Once again the images are all of scenes which are close to my back door. This isn’t just because the current ‘Covid Lockdown’ prevent anything other than ‘staying local’ for exercise but because I truly enjoy exploring and seeing what can be photographed in my immediate surroundings. Why travel for miles and miles (restrictions allowing of course) if good subjects can be found near to home?

There is another distinct advantage to this approach which I written about before. It allows me to return to a place when I know the lighting will work to my advantage. I will have visted the location previously and then envisaged what the scene might look like at a different time of day and when the weather conditions are more conducive to create a pleasing result.

This approach doesn’t guarantee a good picture but it does improve my chances greatly. Composition, choice of lens etc can all be considered beforehand. The light just has to be right.

All of the images in this entry were taken in this way. It requires a degree of patience and the pre-visualised outcome may not always be as I would hope or expect. Over the years this approach has allowed me to think and plan ahead. When the plan comes together there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had. When it doesn’t, I learn from the experience knowing I can return another day. After all – it’s close to my back door.

My last major project was ‘Still by the Water’ which took the best part of 2 years to photograph and complete, and all the images were captured within a 10 minute drive of home. The photographs you see here are I believe the humble beginnings of another long term project.

A return to my favourite genre…..and it’s close to my back door.

It’s been a number of months since I posted an entry on this blog. Five months to be precise, which is a long time. I could bore you with a variety of reasons for my absence but that’s not really something I think you want to read about. (I have kept fit and well though and for that I am most grateful).

Instead I would prefer to share with you a selection of images all taken since the turn of the year. Pictures of my favourite genre, the landscape of the English countryside. Open countryside, farmland and woodland scenes.

I consider myself to be very fortunate. I love and I am inspired to photograph the beauty that is on my doorstep, which is just as well as we are living day to day through another Lockdown. This severely limits all travel except for essential reasons, and to take exercise in your local area. In fact the guidance is clear, do not leave home unless absolutely necessary.

I inted this to be the first in a series of images and blog posts. As I process and share these photographs with you I can feel a degree of excitement at the prospect of building a body of work which is harmonious in character, style and subject. I am sure it will evolve over time but as the seasons change I shall allow that to happen. Most of all I want to capture how I see the English countryside, and in particular record the raw beauty of rural scenes close to my back door.

Wherever you happen to be, stay well and keep safe.

Winter is coming…..

It may seem a little odd to be posting this image when here in the UK we are still enjoying the long warm days of summer.

This dull, misty scene of bare skeletal trees in winter reminds me of what lies in store. From a photographic point of view, autumn and winter have much to offer and the months between October and March are arguably my favoured time of year to be out and about with a camera.

I shall make the most of the summer but I am looking forward to the seasons changing and the impact they have on our rich and varied landscape.