alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘West Dean Estate’

My new camera – an iPhone 6S – a useful photographer’s sketchbook

Most photographers will be familiar with the saying – ‘The best camera is the one you have with you’. I can’t disagree with this adage but just how good are smartphones as a true photographic tool? Let me say rather swiftly that this is not intended to be a review of my recent upgrade from the iPhone5 to the iPhone 6S, but merely a selection of images and a few opinions of my own about the value of taking images with a mobile phone. I hope you will find my thoughts interesting.

 

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The iPhone 6S now boasts a 12mp sensor, so it’s no wonder that the use of smartphones have stolen a huge number of sales from the compact camera market in recent years. (Click on this link to a page on Flickr which only confirms what most of us already know about the use of camera-phones). However I am all too aware that more megapixels doesn’t necessarily equal better quality pictures. The biggest factor is always going to be the person taking the shot, not the equipment being used, but that’s a topic for another day!

The four images in this post were all taken in the past few weeks whilst out and about walking our dog. I have never found it easy to multi task and keep one eye on the subject being photographed and the other eye on the dog, just in case he gets bored and runs off out of sight. So a quick shot is really all the time I have. The pictures have been imported into Lightroom from the iPhone 6S and then converted to black and white. Some limited post processing has been used to enhance each image if only to prove to myself what is possible with the jpeg files.

 

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So what are my thoughts? Well the results are pretty remarkable all things considered. The iPhone 6S has coped well with some high contrast conditions and to a certain extent the files are flexible in post processing. There isn’t much detail in the shadows but it’s unquestionably a better performer than the iPhone 5. They are certainly good enough for posting on the web which is where the vast majority of images now end up. What I would say is that the quality deteriorates significantly when zooming in, so it’s arguably better to take a ‘full size’ image and then crop in post. Would I want to make an A4 or even an A3 size print? – I haven’t tried, it would be an interesting exercise but I doubt I would be happy with quality, however I might be pleasantly surprised.

 

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I enjoy taking pictures on my phone but for now it will never replace any of the cameras I take so much pleasure in using. For me the camera-phone is the equivalent of an artist’s sketchbook. Something which is very portable and convenient to have with me at all times. Something I can use to make a visual record of a particular location. Something to inspire me and to think about when considering a return visit. A photographer’s sketchbook – most definitely yes, and a very good one at that. A replacement for my cameras with interchangeable lenses and the ability to shoot in RAW – no way, but still worth having with me at all times – if only to make the odd phone call!

 

 

‘Break through’ – (the 200th blog entry)

Break through

Break through

 

I started this photographic blog in June 2012 and whilst I am not a prolific blogger this just happens to be my 200th post. I recognise this is a very small number compared to many other users of WordPress but for me it’s quite an achievement. Over three years ago I never thought that I would still be updating this site five or six times a month. This partly demonstrates how much I enjoy sharing my images and my thoughts, but even more importantly it is testimony to how much pleasure I derive from making images and the art of photography.

When you reach any milestone, however small or large, it’s an opportunity to reflect and consider what lies ahead.

In the past three years I have become more critical of my own work and tried to be more discerning about what I do and don’t share on this blog. This is certainly true of what I upload to Flickr. I now only upload a handful of images a month, whereas previously almost anything and everything would be shared with the ‘online world’ – if only to increase the number of views and favourites! Don’t get me wrong I welcome all feedback but the photographs I make are first and foremost for me; they are my vision of the world in which I live. If they give pleasure to others then that’s a bonus for me, and quite naturally I hope they do.

I am fairly confident that in the future my photography will be more ‘project based’. I believe this will be a positive step leading to more considered and specialist work, with the aim of achieving a clear objective or outcome. I have a number of ideas, and these will evolve given time. I also recognise that my photographic skills and processing techniques can be improved. After all it’s never too late to acquire more knowledge about a particular craft or skill.

And maybe, just maybe, a photographic ‘break though’ lies ahead – who knows what that might be? One thing’s for sure, only time will tell.

If you are a regular reader of my ‘blog’ can I just thank you for taking the time to look and read what I have to say.

And finally…… here’s to the next century of blog entries!

West Dean Estate – walking the dog plus some shutter therapy.

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At about 3.30 yesterday afternoon our cocker spaniel wanted to be taken for a walk. He always does at this time of day, and the temptation is to revisit one of many well trodden paths because it’s familiar and easy to do. On this occasion I decided to go somewhere new. So I took him in the car, and with a camera in my coat pocket we headed towards a part of The West Dean Estate to the north of the village of Chilgrove and walk from there. There was some lovely late afternoon sun mixed in with light and dark clouds. I just love these weather conditions for both walking and photography.

 

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By way of some background, The West Dean Estate covers approximately 6,400 acres (2,590 hectares) along the Sussex South Downs. It stretches over 6 miles (9.7 kms) from the South Downs escarpment overlooking the Sussex Weald to the edge of the Trundle Hill overlooking the English Channel and the Isle of Wight. While much of the village of West Dean and West Dean College is sheltered within the Lavant valley, the Estate rises to its highest point of almost 750 feet (280 m) on the top of the Downs. The estate is a mixture of farmland, commercial woodland and is home to West Dean College and the village of West Dean itself. There are about 20 miles of footpaths and bridleways, including a section of The South Downs Way.

 

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Interestingly all of the heating and hot water needs of West Dean College (and parts of the village) are met entirely, and on a sustained basis, by using wood fuel grown on the West Dean Estate. The biomass district heating scheme was one of the first, and remains one of the largest of its kind, in the UK.

 

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I was pleased I made the effort to walk our spaniel along some new tracks. Wherever I go I always find something to photograph and in the space of just an hour or so, I was able to return with some images hopefully worth sharing on my blog.

All of the photographs were taken with an Olympus OMD EM5 and 1.7mm f1.8 Olympus lens and processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro2.