Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Buckfast Abbey at sunset

A few weeks ago, I had a friend staying over and we paid a visit to the Abbey at Buckfast. As the afternoon turned into evening, the light took on that beautiful quality you sometimes get in the aptly-named "golden hour".

In all its glory...

Buckfast Abbey at sunset
I fired off maybe twenty shots from various angles, viewpoints and at different settings, trying to make sure I captured "the shot", the one that shows off the abbey and its beautiful architecture to the best.

..and I think I got it.. ..what do you think?

In the digital darkroom

I decided to take the shot through the HDR process to try to reproduce what I has seen with my eyes, so prepared a number of different exposures from the same RAW file. I used Dynamic Photo HDR to combine them all into one tone-mapped image and then it was into Photoshop for the editing.

I cloned out a small figure, waiting discreetly at the edge of the frame for me to take the photo; kind person :) I also removed a couple of distracting low pillar lights in the bottom left corner. They added nothing and, being so close to the frame edge, were just plain distracting — they had to go.

As a final step in this part of the process, I corrected / straightened the converging verticals a bit to give a more eye-pleasing end result.

I then applied my normal workflow, relying on a tad of contrast achieved with a 5% opacity curves layer set to the overlay blend mode, a slight adjustment to the levels and finishing off with a subtle vignette to keep the viewer's eye in the centre.

A final bit of sharpening with the unsharp mask finished off the image.

The joy of photography

I enjoyed the company I was with, the cream tea(!), making the capture and working with the image in the digital darkroom — I hope you take pleasure in the result as much as I derived in bringing it to you.

Season's Greetings to you :)

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Back to black and white

After my last couple of adventures with colour, here's me back with black and white...

An exploration of low sunlight on rock

As the sun dropped towards the horizon on my visit to Bantham beach, the fast-changing lighting conditions gave some great shot opportunities.

Yearning for More
In this one, I was exploring the interaction of the light with the rock face, searching for that magic moment when the light hits at just the right angle, and the rock lights up as if from within. It didn't quite happen with this one, but it's fairly close, I reckon. Must keep trying... ;-)

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

On a colour roll...

I was at Bovisand beach with a friend last weekend and have now managed to squeeze in some time to get this one out of the digital darkroom.

Bovisand Third Beach

Third Beach Rock

The shot

It was quite a chilly day but wrapped up warm and in good company, it was great to be on the beach again with my camera. In late autumn (fall, for my American readers) you get lots of opportunities at the beach; overcast skies give lots of diffuse light (light spread out in all directions) that saturates colours, and if it's a little chilly, you should get the beach pretty much to yourself!

Not entirely. Not always. Bear with me while I digress a little...

While we were there, a middle-aged lady out to take the clean, fresh air blowing off the Atlantic, approached and asked about something she'd often wondered about. She asked how come the really famous photographs can fetch thousands of pounds, when all they need to do is print off another, just like printing money.

I explained that it's not like a photocopier... the likes of Ansel Adams would return to the negative for each print, and reprocess it applying his zonal system and masking, dodging and burning to his heart's content. Each one is subtly different from the next and a work in its own right.

I've only just thought of it now, but a better analogy might be that of a sculptor sketching out what the finished statue is to look like and then using the same sketch to sculpt a few. Each one is a re-interpretation of the sketch, just like each print is a re-interpretation of the negative.

When I hand-print one of my limited edition images, I go back to the digital darkroom, to very early in the process and start from there, with each one taking three or four hours - maybe more - to go through the re-processing.

...anyway, back to the shot

The rock itself had a really interesting shape, with a "nipped-in" waist where it has succumbed to the waves. I tried making the shot from different positions, angles and heights and this was one of my favourites, largely catching the essence of its shape.

I liked the way the little flecks of darker slate on the lighter sand formed striations pointing out to the sea and also the way they lined up with the general direction of the rock, which also seemed to be pointing to the sea. In amongst all the other things to juggle in the composition, I wanted to make sure I caught that aspect.

I thought the little ripples and patterns in the slate flecks would give some balance and interest to the shot and it's turned out that way quite well, I reckon.

In the framing, I've nodded in the general direction of the rule of thirds, but not at the expense of the overall composition, I hope :)

Digital darkroom

I started off as usual from a RAW image out of my camera and, once in Photoshop, I straightened the squint horizon and removed a couple of small distracting pieces of seaweed.

I gave it the usual slight contrast adjustment and balanced out the levels before setting to with a bunch of dodging and burning on the rock. I wanted to sculpt and emphasise the depth and curve, its three-dimensionality. I also dodged the face to give some fill-in light, burning back the mid-tones a little to maintain area contrast.

Once again, I've used a soft-touch vignette to bring the viewer's eye into the centre, and to finish off I've sharpened it and given it my final contrast "pop" (by dint of a sneaky use of the unsharp mask).

Ok me luvverlies, until next time... take care and have a great Christmas :)

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Oooh, colour - a rare one from me!

A few weeks ago I was at Bantham beach with a friend. This is the first shot I've found the time to process - I hope you like it!

Bantham Beach

Bantham Rocks to Burgh Island

The shot

The light was changing from one moment to the next when I was taking this shot. That and with the advancing tide, it was touch and go for a while.

Wintry showers had eased off and as the sun lowered beneath the clouds, shafts of golden light were piercing the gathering dusk.

Trying to time the shafts of light with the waves, and at the same time making sure the hotel in the distance on Burgh Island was caught in the light was a bit of a game!

Patience, wet feet and taking lots of shots paid off quite nicely in the end, don't you think?

Digital darkroom

I've given the shot a subtle HDR treatment (yes that type of seaweed really is that green!) and a bit of dodging and burning on the rocks, both to sculpt them and to bring the scene nearer to what I experienced.

A gentle-touch vignette brings the viewer's eye in towards the centre and I've given it a little "pop" by enhancing the contrast

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Lenses tutorial from Canon

A sponsored post all about the range of lenses from Canon and what they're for.

So you want to learn about lenses...

My mainstay is the EFS 17-85mm with image stabilizer. I keep it mounted on my 350D body at all times and on the occasions when I need a bit more "reach", I use my EFS 70-300mm, again with inbuilt image stabilizer.

Watch this video tutorial from Canon about their range of lenses, what they do and the benefits of each.

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)


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