A Year of Lockdown

Back in March 2020, I started a gallery on my website to which I periodically added images I had taken during each of the three lockdowns.

The first images were reworks of some old photographs taken as early as 2011, and 2012, and it was rewarding to see how up to date software dealt with them, which encouraged me to keep looking at what I had – not only on older hard drives, but on some CD’s too.

It was a bit disappointing to find that some of the CD’s were no longer readable, despite my best efforts, but no matter – there was still lots to look at.

As the weather improved (we did have a lovely Spring last year), and daily exercise became a thing of habit – at least I was able to get some new images made. Cycling became more regular too, till I damaged my ankle at the end of March, but by then macro images came to the fore, and the re-introduction of the moth trap.

With the end of our first full year of Covid on the horizon, I’ve decided to close down that gallery, and start anew.

Here’s the link to the 2020/21 images

I have been kept busy all year with Zoom – lots of talks, and judging in places all over the UK, Ireland and Scotland, with the occasional foray abroad. New friends have been made, and I hope we will continue to keep in contact long after Covid has passed.

An invitation down to Cheltenham next year, and proposed trips to the Isle of Wight are just two of the things we have in mind, both prompted by zoom meetings.

Although I admit to being a bit ‘zoomed out’ sometimes, it’s been great to see new people and superb images, with more scheduled in for the rest of this year, and into the Spring of 2022.

Our camera club has had fewer competitions (in fact I think only 3 in the last year), with one about to run next week – and this was something that would never have happened before. It’s a 4 way between us (Cleethorpes), Niton (Isle of Wight), Otley and Kidderminster.

I find that I really don’t miss competitions – I gave up pretty much on the BPE circuit after I achieved level 3 – and totally gave up on FIAP after I achieved my A. Recently FIAP made a number of rule changes that a lot of people disagreed with, and it did seem to become more like a money making exercise than anything else. They also stopped any print submissions. Subsequently they have retracted these changes, but it looks more like a deferral to 2022.

The images I make these days are purely personal – and I only send images out to competition if it’s something I am interested in.

In the meantime, I need to settle down and sort out what I want to achieve in the next 12 months. I want to fly the drone more now I have completed the Certificate of Competency, and certainly get the camera overheated with imagery.

So, as the anniversary of lockdown one approaches – I wish you all a happy and healthy 2021 – and once you are offered your jab – please take it – make us all safe.

The leaves will soon be back on all the trees, and I’m looking forward to a happier, healthier spring…..

Take care and stay safe.

Well, what a year that was…

It’s been a horrid year in lots of ways, and I bet a lot of us will be glad to see the back of it.. I’ve tried to see the bright side, but sometimes it does get you down, and I worry very much about what 2021 will bring – at least in the first half of the year. Fingers crossed the vaccine will work, and that more will be on the way soon…..

The weather has turned a bit more wintery recently, and so getting out and about has been a bit more difficult – however, there have been some good days this month, and the colder weather has brought waders to our beaches.

Twice this week, I’ve been able to nip to the coast, and see what’s about as the tide recedes.

Dunlin


The problem, if you will, with this time of year, is that not only does it get dark early, but the light changes fast. It started off dark grey, I was focussed on the Dunlin. I kept shooting for quite some time, varying ISO and shutter speeds, and any other factors that I could. The penny slowly dropped that the light had changed completely, the sky was blue, the light was stronger, and warmer, and things were picking up …

Redshank

It looked like summer through the viewfinder……..

Bar-Tailed Godwit

The blues became incredibly intense, to the point that it didn’t seem realistic.

And, as suddenly as it came – it went……

Dunlin

It got a little later in the day – people were thinning out – fewer dogs on the beach, and just one chap with a metal detector. He was up and down the beach – moving the birds on in front of him….. waiting to be moved was a Little Egret, it hung on, and hung on, and suddenly was off, in a flurry of water and wings

Little Egret

I was just thinking to call it a day, when I spotted an Oystercatcher on the shore – there was a group of 4, and each time I got close, they either ran up the shoreline, or flew away – this time, one remained behind – and puttered around in the water…..

Oystercatcher

What made this attractive to me now, was the light, and the colour on the water…..

Fashion photographer Barbara Bordnick once said “we walk by wonders every day and don’t see them. We only stop at what shouts the loudest”.

I feel it is a photographers duty to stop and see things that don’t shout out. Everything has some beauty, even the simplest of things. We just need to learn to see them, and take time to collect the images. It’s at this time – we stop saying “but, there’s nothing here to shoot”.

I think this will be the last blog post of the year…… so I want to wish you all the Merriest Christmas you can have – take care of yourselves. Maintain that social distancing – it’s the best thing we can do for each other –

Keep shooting – stay safe…..

See you in the new year… may 2021 be a better one…..

Light, and the Edit

Last night, I went out and was able to take some photographs of Tawny Owls.  Sat there, in the dark, unable to speak for fear of scaring them away, low whispers and pitch black in the hide, staring at the pole on which we hoped they’d land – before moving across the area where a couple of flash guns were set up, to land on the target.

I’d envisaged what I wanted – the subtle background of trees in the dusk – the owl in flight moving across the glade on silent wings – me with the remote clutched in my hot hands – staring at that first pole, as the light fell, and fell – a tiny light illuminating the top of that first pole so I’d be able to make out the owl as she landed. The strain of the eye – was that a landed owl, or was I imagining things?

The picture was in my mind – but the reality was twofold.

  1. The owl landed on the second pole straight away – took the bait and cleared off.
  2. The owl went straight for the food and didn’t land on anything.
  3. (OK, threefold then), the owl landed on the first pole, flew to the second as planned, but did it not in a straight line, but in a curve, and so was too small in the frame.

It’s so frustrating – nature at its very best, I love it.

Then the conversation later about how to tackle the low light, the bird, and the background.  One point of view was to keep everything as dark as possible, as tawny owls hunt at night (unlike barn owls which I see fairly frequently in daylight hours). On the other hand, they do hunt at dusk, so some background would be inevitable.

Shooting with flash (and that’s the only way to illuminate the bird), means the background is black anyway.  So what’s the answer.  Maybe a second light on the background permanently, so as to illuminate both things at the same time……… or

Two images, one of the background with a longer exposure, but still dim, and the second of the bird, in flight, or stationary on its post.

OK, well the downside to this is that I can’t use a composite image in a nature competition.  The rules generally say I can’t do this, so back to plan A.

The reality of things like this, is you have to take an image to please yourself, and not for the competition. If you like it, then that’s all there is to it – but in the meantime – here’s a couple of owl images that I like, and you can work out for yourselves how I did it…..

 

Where East Meets West – Part 9

There’s been a bit of a hiatus in the Meridian project – due to life getting in the way…. Unfortunately I missed all the lovely days that came in February, but I did manage to get out and explore a little more of the area just North of Boston.

I intended to visit Stickney

The place-name ‘Stickney’ is first attested in the Domesday book of 1086, where it appears as Stichenai. The name means ‘stick island’, and is thought to refer to the linear shape of the village between two streams. The nearby village of Stickford similarly means ‘stick ford’.

Stickney has been chiefly an agricultural community. The ancient 13th-century Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Luke and is a Grade II listed building. The parish dates to 1564 . A new chancel was built in 1853 and the rest of the church was restored in 1855. The tower was partly taken down in 1887 because of deterioration, but rebuilt in 1900.

Donations to the poor house and for care of the poor have been recorded since 1552 when William Hardy left a yearly rent charge of £1 6s. 8d. for the poor of the parish.

Stickney was the home of Priscilla Biggadike, who in 1868 was charged and convicted of murdering her husband Richard by arsenic poisoning. They lived in a small two-room house with their five children and two lodgers. She testified that she had seen one of their lodgers, Thomas Proctor, putting a white powder into her husband’s tea, and later into his medicine when Richard was being treated for a sudden attack of severe illness.

At first, the two were both suspects, as they were rumoured to be having an affair. The judge in the case ruled that only Priscilla Biggadike should be prosecuted, and the jury quickly convicted her. She was executed in December 1868. Years later on his deathbed, Proctor confessed to sole responsibility for the murder of Richard Biggadike.

I’ve not got photographs yet of the village itself.  That’s for another visit.

However, it’s amazing what you can find whilst just driving around.  I saw the sign for the Ark Wildlife park, and almost overshot it.  A bit of gentle reversing found me turning into the place and in the end staying for a couple of hours.  I would actually have stayed much longer, but the day was coming to an end, and frankly it was bitter cold.

To add to the difficulty, they had just had a power cut, and so couldn’t serve hot drinks, or even offer change from the till.  Good job I happened to have the right entry feee.

(http://arkwildlifepark.co.uk/)

The ARK is home to a wide variety of captivating animals, from exotic mammals and fearsome carnivores to stunning reptiles and some less exotic  and more farm like creatures.

Included in the collection are a Puma, and Lynx.

_DSF2120-Edit

The Ark is also right on the Meridian Line, and they have this plaque to prove it.

The Ark offers an all weather attraction throughout the year, and is set in the Lincolnshire Countryside.  Visitors can get close up and personal with a wide range of animals.

The majority of the animals at the park are rescues from the European pet trade, who, for one reason or another were neglected, or kept illegally.  They now have a permanent home at the Ark.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photography is actively encouraged.

If you want to visit and support this wonderful venture (which has only been open for two years),  please do.  It really is worth the trip out.

ARK Wildlife Park,
West Fen Lane,
Stickney,
Lincolnshire,
PE22 8BD

I look forward to hearing from you, please do click the button to continue to get updates on this blog, as I continue my journey down the Meridian Line….

Fast Photography?

I feel the need to slow down, but it’s hard to do…….

Most times I go out to shoot, I come home, and am looking at what I’ve taken within hours. I’m starting to think (a strain for me I know), that I should try and slow things down.

When I’m actually out shooting these days, I’m one of the slowest – I’m conscious that I’m the last to finish, and sometimes people are left waiting for me.  It’s a style, and I see other photographers who can jump out of the car and get cracking straight away – and if I try to do this, I come back with images that are only fit for the digital trash.

I was talking to a friend the other week, who said that he didn’t look at anything he’d taken for at least a week.  He would download to his computer, and back up – but then leave them to ‘develop’ and come back to them later.

With hindsight (which is a wonderful thing) I can see how this works.

I’ve been looking back at images I took months ago, and have just left them to stew on the computer.  This long cooking time, can make for a better image – so rather than just delete stuff – I’m trying to hang onto it for at least two months before I make a decision.  The obvious operator errors can go straight away, but sometimes it’s good to come back to something in a different frame of mind.

A95T5627

This image for example.

I took this in March of 2017, when out with some friends on an exploration of the Lincolnshire Coast.  I’d forgotten all about it, and rediscovered it, and re-processed it over the last day or two.  I think it’s something I might have easily thrown away, but with hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t.  I think it’s a peaceful shot, calm and Autumnal.  (The image by the way is the ‘Soundtower’, part of an art installation called ‘Structures on the Edge’, and can be found at Chapel Six Marshes.)

It’s always worth archiving images you are not sure about, and come back to them later.

And in the meantime, I’m going to make a serious effort to not process images as soon as I’ve taken them.  I’ll try and let them stew for a while, and look at them again, in the ‘cold light of day’ as it were.

I think that there’s a difference between just getting a ‘shot’, and experiencing the ‘getting of that shot’.  This is what I’m sometimes missing.

Do you find that you get the best images when you are chasing the shot, or when you spend time contemplating what is to come – can you anticipate when the moment is to come?

I think I learnt to ‘rush’ when I was working as an agency photographer.  I would have to wait for the event to happen, but then it was a frantic rush to get the shots, and then they had to be sent off to the agency as soon as I could.  If I was late, then another photographer would have already sent images to another agency, and I would have lost the moment.  Speed was of the essence.

Now though, I don’t need to do that any more, but it’s still ingrained in me – so I rush with post processing, like I need to get images out in a deadline.

I need to STOP, and smell the roses……

I need to make the observation come first, the photography second, and the processing slow and easy.  I shall try and adjust my approach for the future.

And now, I’m out to shoot…. hopefully I can resist the image to edit what I take today…..

Enjoy your photography.

Why not sign up for notifications – I’d love to hear from you.

 

Garden Birds

This is just a short piece to talk about the setting up of a garden bird hide at my home.

_DSF3599-Edit

I had recently been to a hide out in the Lincolnshire Wolds, and having examined the set up there, decided that I’d have a go at home.  It’s taken a bit of sorting out, but the results are starting to come in.

_DSF3575

It took a while for the birds to decide that they ‘liked’ where I’d put the new feeder, and that they trusted the perches I was putting out for them.

_DSF3281

So far, I’ve had the usual suspects creeping in – Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Coal Tit, Starlings – and the usual crop of Wood Pigeons.  Collard Dove is around but not had them on the table yet.  I’ve seen other finches and I’d love it for Woodpeckers to arrive.  Most years I get a cuckoo in the garden – and it would be amazing to get a shot of one of those.

_DSF3474-Edit

Fingers crossed.

_DSF3023-Edit

All images were taken with the Fuji X-T3 and the 100-400 lens.  The latter two with a 1.4 extender @f8

I’m waiting to be discovered….

I’m getting older.  I’m 61 – and fortunately in reasonably good health.  I think I’m a reasonable photographer, maybe a tad better than average, but I’ve certainly not been discovered.

I have spent my photographic life producing work in complete obscurity – well near complete anyway.  The people who have seen my work are mostly clients, then camera club folks, then the people that I can bore on a semi-regular basis.

Though this might not be ideal, I am at least, on a par with probably 99% of the photographers that I know, and that is a comfort.  There must be billions of people who own cameras, and even more billions of photographs are uploaded to the internet every day.  Goodness knows how many get uploaded just to Facebook, without thinking of Flickr, or 500px, or any of the other social media channels.  So I suppose I’m in good company.

I don’t suppose for one minute that I’m ever going to be famous.  I suspect that the photographers that I know now, who are well known, in my circles are not going to be internationally famous either.  So why do we continue? – well, I think it’s because we like to have an audience of sorts, even if it’s of our own compatriots.

Photography is expensive, it can be demanding, we push ourselves to make the best images we can, and sometimes we are rewarded with applause from our friends, or maybe a competition win or two, and this is where there is potential for it all to go wrong.  We win something – we achieve a qualification, therefore we are good, and so we should, maybe, be fighting off the adulation from our doors….  NOPE – that didn’t happen either.

Success in competition or accreditation is satisfying.  Success in the outside world is rare, and is for the few, but I’m not suicidal yet…..

Fame in the real world is not just about skill, craftsmanship and the ability to produce brilliant images (I see that every time I look at images on 500px), it’s also about chance, luck, and being in the right place at the right time.

Why for example is Ansel Adams (my hero by the way) so famous..?  Well I looked it up on Google – and here’s the theory.. He was born in 1902 in San Francisco, California. He rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, using his work to promote conservation of wilderness areas – and there we might have it – Conservation of Wilderness areas.   He was there, producing images of the wilderness at the time conservation became a big issue in the 1970’s which is when he rose to prominence. His work fitted the situation exactly, and his hard work over previous decades was given credence because he lived and worked there, and because he had a huge catalogue of work already complete.

I’ve been to Yosemite, wondered at the majesty of Half Dome – decided to stand on the bridge that Ansel Adams stood on and get ‘that’ picture of the sunset.  Me with the 40 odd other people jostling for position, on what amounted to a small bridge.  No – you need to live your own creative life, and not try to live it through the eyes of a hero…

Screenshot 2018-11-15 14.49.27

We have no control over who likes our work and who doesn’t – we have more control over who sees our work, but we can’t make them buy it.  (It’s great when someone does though) – we cannot have any idea what will happen to our work in the future, and we have no idea if anything we have produced will influence future generations.

All we can say for certain is that our work will still be visible after we have gone, the internet will see to that, and I personally have no idea if my work will  influence anyone in years to come.  Enjoy it whilst you can…… you do not know what tomorrow may bring.

 

 

Photo Impressionism

About six or so months ago, I rediscovered multiple exposure photography.

A good number of years ago, I was taking the ocassional multi exposure image, and putting them together in post production.  Once I got a Canon that could do them in-camera, I added a few more.  Time ticked on, and I was working for clients, and I didn’t have much time to make images for myself, and the experiment got put on the back burner….

Then towards the end of 2017, I was admiring the work of a Candadian photographer who was creating very impressionistic photographs using multi exposures.  He was not doing them in camera, as each image he created was using upwards of 30 exposures.  He said he’d been influenced by a photographer called Freeman Patterson – and after a short time, I was able to get hold of a book Freeman had written, called Photo Impressionism, and the Subjective Image.

Whilst the publication is quite an old one, and refers entirely to shooting with film, the actual process was easily translated into the digital world.  He talked a lot about shooting images that only gave an impression of the whole, and in the use of shapes and lines, focused entirely on texture, and the nature of the surfaces.

Absorbed in the book, and tracing other photographers who were working the same way – I started to look at how these fascinating images were actually created.

It involved a lot of research, and tracking down different methods of working within Photoshop.  Eventually though, I was able to work out how to align layers of images, and how to blend them together to give the kind of result I was looking for.

Once I fully understand how the layer stacking affects the final images, I’ll write a full blog piece.  In the meantime I’m looking at shooting all sorts of things, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Tree

This is one of the first images I made using this multi shot technique. It uses around 40 images – stacked and blended to give the impression of the tree in front of a building.  I’m working on refining the technique, and this next image is one of the town of Louth in Lincolnshire.  It’s the indoor market hall tower clock, on a busy Maundy Thursday, and a shot I shall try again on an even busier market day.  A mere 17 images this time….

Tree

The more images used, the finer the final image becomes, so somewhere in between there must be an optimum number of pictures to use.   I tried one larger image with nearly 70 images, but it did not seem to be so successful.   I have seen one photographer use this technique though with over 200 layers.   I can’t imagine how big the final file would be.

I have uploaded a number of images onto my Flickr page (see the link to the right of the blog), and more are on my website

http://www.dseddonphoto.co.uk/multi_exposure

I’ll keep working………..

Photographers Block, and Moths

I think I’ve inadvertently taken a break from my photography, and I think it’s done me good.

For 4 weeks, my daughter, her boyfriend, and the boyfriends parents (though the latter two were only here for a week) have been staying with us and there has been no photography time, apart from the images I captured of them, during their stay.

Similarly, whilst they’ve been here, I didn’t go to the camera club, and didn’t really interact much with any other photographers.  I found that whilst I missed their companionship, I didn’t miss taking photos.

At first I thought it was odd, but then I had so many other things to occupy me, that it made sense.  Since they left though, the urge to shoot hasn’t come back in any meaningful way.

I was left to wonder if this is a bad thing, and came to the conclusion that it’s not. I’ve had time to sit and plan what I’m going to do next, and actually the planning is making me more creative.  I’d been worrying (unnecessarily as it happens), about upcoming competitions, exhibitions and qualifications.  Worry stifles creativity.

I’ve taken myself back to basics, and this week dug out the moth trap, and caught some stunning insects, which I was able to shoot slowly, and with a bit more thought than usual.

DS2_2812

This is the Elephant Hawk moth, and I spent a long time looking for the right flower to put it on, and the right background to shoot it against.  I spent a couple of very happy hours with this, and other insects caught during the night.

So, it came as a bit of a surprise that when I checked my diary for July, it was rammed full of shoots – and even more of a surprise was that I was aching to get at it – and get some good images in the bag.  I’d been putting everything off till after the family had been and gone.  The ‘forced’ break did me the world of good.  I’d stopped thinking about up and coming competitions, and stopped worrying about where the next shot was coming from.

Hats off to those good folk who do the 365 projects, and take a photo every day for 12 months.  I tried it once, and after about 3 months gave up.  I was forcing images, and they slowly got worse and worse, as I made do with what I had.  Even cheating to get that image online for that day.  Never again……..

So, for the next week, moths…. I’ll put the trap out again in a day or two, and see what pops up.

DS2_2834

In the meantime, this one (above) is a Golden Y moth, and the shot below, is the Eyed Hawk Moth

Eyed Hawk Moth

It’s good to be back………….

The moral I think is to not worry if you don’t do something you love for a period of time – absence really can make the heart grow fonder.  It really doesn’t mean that you love it any the less.