Sunday, 29 September 2013

Designing a new home page for my website.

When I first designed my website - I was very happy with most of the pages but the home page itself didn't inspire me. I felt it needed a more contemporary look, and something which would more closely depict my black and white approach to photography. I also wanted it to be easier to navigate, so that anyone visiting the site could quickly get to a particular page.

So this past weekend I set about a re-design and here is the result.

20130929-Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 17.53.54.jpg

It still retains the traditional menu at the top but now each of the titled boxes link directly to the relevant page of the site. The original home page only showed one image unless you waited for the carousel to kick in, but by then my guess is that any visitors had either moved on to another page or left my site altogether, which is much worse!

I am pleased with the result and if offers scope to update the home page when I add new pages to the site itself.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Cloud - Pre-visualising a minimalist image

The one disadvantage of combining walking the South Downs Way and taking photographs was quite simply the need to press on; complete the required number of miles for that day, so that we could reach our pre-booked overnight stop. So any photographs were taken as the opportunity arose. No stopping and waiting for the light to change. More observation, a quick composition, release the shutter maybe two or three times and then on we would go. I have to say I quite enjoy this more spontaneous type of image making.

The shot which is featured in this entry is almost certainly an image which in the past I would never have seen, let alone taken. But as I learn the so called art of 'pre-visualisation' I noticed what I thought were an attractive line of trees on the horizon. It was the middle of the day, the sun shone brightly, it was particularly hot for the time of year and hardly a cloud in the very blue sky. But then I noticed some wispy clouds moving in the light wind above the tree line. Immediately I had an idea as to how the finished image might look.

I grabbed my camera, composed the shot and took a few frames. Of the three, only one was workable, as the cloud in the other two had dispersed and no longer gave me the effect I had foreseen at the time of taking the photograph. In fact I remember that it only took a few minutes before the cloud in this scene had been been burnt away by the warmth of the sun.

The Cloud
The Cloud

It's a very minimalist composition. A line of trees, a dark sky and a few wispy clouds. The finished result is largely how I imagined it might look when I released the shutter. Again another lesson learned. 

I don't know who first said it, but there is a quote which reads as follows - 'The more I practice, the luckier I seem to get'. I am sure this could be applied to many situations, but to me it is a very true saying and one which can certainly be applied to my growing interest in photography.

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Gate - processing a digital painting?

Although I have not had much time since I returned from walking the South Downs Way, I have at least made a start on editing and processing some of the catalogue.

Whenever I take a large number of shots, from the moment I press the shutter there are some which stick in my mind. Perhaps instinctively I know that these shots might have the right basic ingredients to make a potentially pleasing image.

One such shot was taken early in the morning as we left the village of Amberley and started the uphill climb to Amberley Mount. The sun had not long risen and there was still some early morning mist in the air. We came across a gate in amongst some trees and hedgerow. The light being cast on the scene was just glorious. I only took the one exposure and here is the result.

The Gate
The Gate -
on the South Downs Way

I originally started processing the image in Photoshop CS5 a few days ago and made a number of fine adjustments on a daily basis until I felt completely happy with the result. More often than not I will process a photo in one sitting, but on this occasion I took more time and tried to remain patient. This was simply because each time I revisited the image, either later in the day or the following morning, I would look at the picture and see something new, which I thought could be fine tuned to enhance the overall appearance.

This staged approach is of course no different to an artist with a paintbrush in his hand. A painting will often take a number of sessions to finish and as the paint dries so the picture changes. I don't think the method of processing a photograph should be any different. I accept that some images can be completed in no time at all, but there are others, and this is a good example, when more time and patience brings its reward. You do of course have to decide when to click 'save' for the last time and that decision is never an easy one. For now the 'The Gate' is finished and I can now enjoy 'fine tuning' the next image in this series on the South Downs Way.

There is not a great deal more to say, other than how fortunate I was to be in the right place at the right time to capture this shot. The shaft of light coming from the other side of the gate was a very beautiful sight, as it lit up the path and the foliage of the surrounding trees and hedgerow.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Walk completed - let the processing begin

On Monday my nephew and I successfully completed our challenge to walk the length of the South Downs Way - 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne. We had a wonderful time. We encountered wind and rain, beautiful sunshine and for two of the nine days, temperatures which must have been close to 30C. A bit too hot for walking but we had to keep going, and keep going we did.

In the process we managed to raise nearly £5,000 including Gift Aid for our chosen cause. The St Peter Project - a new church hall for Fishbourne.

The scenery along the trail was very special and there were plenty of opportunities to press the shutter on my Olympus OM EM5. I only took two lenses; the Panasonic f2.8 12 to 35mm zoom lens, together with it's sister the f2.8 35 to 100mm. I wanted to travel light, so this combination would cover most situations.

Many of the photographs taken were more record shots than images which might stand out from the crowd. So now the fun begins to go through several hundred RAW files and begin the editing process. It will take a little time and I do want there to be some order to their inclusion on this blog, whether by type or in chronological order, I have yet to decide.

By way of a taster here is one shot which perhaps typifies the scenery and the beautiful weather we enjoyed for much of the time.

Distant windmill
Distant Windmill

The above image was taken from West Hill to the north of Brighton before we descended into the village of Pyecombe. The windmill you can see is called 'Jill', and is one of a pair, the other being called 'Jack'; they are a well known landmark on the South Downs.  The clouds were just stunning and the afternoon sun fell on 'Jill' and lit up its sails, so it shone like a beacon against the distant hills in the background.

I am so looking forward to processing more images and when I have, I hope they will provide a useful source of material for a number of forthcoming entries on this blog.