Saturday, 26 April 2014

Using 'Blur' down by the River Arun

Last weekend I gave myself some time to take a few shots with the specific intention of using my Lee Sev5n filter system. Yes, that is how it is spelt. It's the smaller version of its big brother and works in just the same way but its size is better suited to mirrorless cameras such as the system I use.

I decided to head back to a location I had been to in the Autumn of last year - The River Arun near the tiny hamlet of South Stoke, which is at the end of a no through road to the north of the town of Arundel.

Taking any long exposure shots has to be done with a tripod so the time taken to set up and compose the shot takes a lot longer than a more straightforward hand held exposure, but it does make you stop and think about what you are doing.

When I returned to my car and made the journey back home I was convinced that the hour or so I spent taking a handful of images had not been worthwhile. Nevertheless when I downloaded the files and started to work on them in post processing, a couple of the images started to come together. The long exposure of about 8 seconds which I used for the shot at the top of this entry, had blurred the water and the effect of the light wind movement in the reeds and the branches of the trees was captured. However there was still some detail in the foreground.

As well as taking long exposure shots to create a sense of mood, I though I would also experiment by selectively using one of the 'blur' filters in Photoshop and masking certain areas of the image which would have the effect of de-focusing some elements of the photograph. I have used this technique in the  photo below, effectively blurring the left hand side of the image whilst keeping the right hand side relatively sharp. I have applied a vignette as well as a 'coffee tone' in Silver Efex Pro2 to produce the image below. This was a 10 second exposure.

River bend
River Bend

Long exposures and using either a restricted depth of field or alternatively applying a 'blur' to an image in post processing, are techniques I would like to explore further. Used well, I think the combination can produce an ethereal look to an image which I rather like.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Pinterest… invaluable site for inspiration

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A little late to the party I admit, but I have now joined the millions of users of the 'bookmarking site' Pinterest….and what a valuable site it is. For those of you who have yet to discover the strengths of Pinterest, you start by opening an account and from there you can select images from the web and 'Pin it' to your page or a board you have created about a particular photographer, artist or subject. You can add a description to the 'pin' so as well as seeing the thumbnail of the image you have some information to refer to which relates to the image.  Click on any of these thumbnails and it will take you to the site where you discovered the link in the first place. Your account, or a board itself, can be followed by other users and conversely if you discover an account or board which is of interest to you then you can also 'follow' and will receive email notifications when new 'pins' are added to that account or board.

Like all things that work well, Pinterest is incredibly simple, but very powerful and I have already made up a number of boards for photographers and artists I admire, including Michael Kenna, Norman Ackroyd, Chris Friel, Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, Chris Tancock and so the list goes on. I shall be adding the wildlife photographer Nick Brandt and Ansel Adams in the coming days. In a short space of time I will have a single reference point on the web for all the photographs and works of art that inspire me. Given time I will also be adding boards for my own photographs as well.

If like me you want to build what in effect is a library of favourite or inspiring images then rather than bookmark the page, which just gets lost with the multitude of bookmarks already created, simply 'Pin it'. As I said at the outset a highly useful site and one which I will refer to on a regular basis.

If you want to sign up and create a Pinterest account then click here.

My own Pinterest account is alanrfrost and can be found here.

I will also add the 'PinIt' button to my own photography website, as there might be one or two people out there who would like to 'pin' one of my images to their account. Much to my surprise I discovered by chance that one or two already have!

Happy Pinning!!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Down on the farm

We have recently acquired a cocker spaniel puppy called 'Watson' who is now 15 weeks old. We are taking him to training classes in a barn on a farm near to where we live. On a previous visit I noticed a couple of possible images worth taking, so at the last session I took my camera with me and took a few photos before we left. I must admit I got some strange looks from some of the other dog owners but photographers are known for taking shots of subjects which most people would simply pass by without a second look.

Hay trailer
The Hay Trailer

For those of you who read this blog regularly you will know that I very much enjoy and admire the work of Chris Tancock, who describes himself as a rural documentary photographer. Like him, I too am drawn to farms, their buildings, the machinery, the livestock and in many cases to the dereliction, where all manner of things both large and small are left lying round, probably for months if not for years. Whether or not these two images document 'life on the farm' I don't know but in my opinion they do begin to tell a story.

Dog Barn parking
Dog Barn Parking

The two images in this entry were both processed using Silver Efex Pro2. In fact I created a custom preset after processing the first image which I then applied to the second shot, to give some consistency to the appearance of the two photographs. I have saved the preset as I think  it works well for this type of image and I shall certainly be taking some more shots of this type in the future. They might not be to everyones taste but they appeal to me and I think that's what really matters.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Looking through the archives again…..another fence in the dunes.

Fence in the dunes
Fence in the Dunes

In my last post I went back in time to 2012 when I enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon taking some photographs at East Head in West Wittering along the Sussex Coast. At that particular time I was still using my Nikon D90, which I guess was my first serious or shall we say semi serious camera. A very capable DSLR with a cropped APS-C sensor. It has now been sold in favour of my Olympus micro four thirds system. Which in itself is still only an enthusiasts camera, although there are now a number of professionals who are happily using the Olympus EM1 and some of the best lenses available for this format. I am lucky enough to be using the EM1 and have done so since the early part of the year and although I really don't feel I put it to the test I have been delighted with the results so far.

Anyway back to the reason for this entry and another image taken at East Head. I had previously dismissed this image, but two years down the road I like to think my processing skills have improved and the result is displayed at the start of the entry. Like so many of my images this was processed in Lightroom 5 and Silver Efex Pro. As opposed to a straight black and white conversion this photo has a 'coffee tone' added in Silver Efex, which gives a warmer feel I think it works on this occasion.  I hope you like it.