Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Turning an old leaf

Yes. It's another leaf picture. I can't resist leaves in sunlight, especially in Autumn when the colours are so intense. 

I spotted this fine leaf at head height, one of the last on the tree, with deep shadow beyond. Light and shadow are another recurring theme of mine.

I operated the camera one handed while holding the leaf still in the light breeze. It was just a matter of turning the leaf to get it face on and therefore all in focus. (We artists have our little tricks you know).

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Point

Making a point. 

Here we want to point the viewer towards the point of the picture, which is a set of points in miniature. I chose a wide aperture to minimise the depth of field and maintain the shutter speed for this hand held shot.

The only down side to this little work of art is that it cost me three pounds, a figure charged retrospectively by the Broad Gauge Model Society when the man on the door noticed I had taken a picture. I could have argued but what would be the point.

Hmm. I remember these things you know.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Low angle

Another cheap trick to emphasise the depth in a picture is to use a low angle together with some feature in the foreground. In this case the folding rear screen on the E-M5 allows an old man to get the camera down on the floor, while a wide angle enforces the drama between foreground and background.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Leaves left

Here is a three shot panorama of the churchyard at Hannington. The old (Saxon) church is surrounded by a sea of leaves at this time of year.

A splash of sunshine would have been nice, but we make do with whatever light we can get. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

I took this using ISO 800 without a second thought. Low light holds no terrors these days the E-M5 camera delivers nice reasonable noise free pictures at ISO 800 of course. My old but classic E-1 would not fare so well. This is progress.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

More Mist

More autumnal mist works it's spatial magic. 

As a rare concession to humanity, here are two people in a landscape...

...and a crow

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Infinite Depth

Further to my previous discussions, another way to indicate depth is to include something in the picture that the viewer will understand as being very three dimensional. 

Here is a good example. It is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's front drive, and you will recognise the depth cue because I'm sure it looks a lot like your own front drive.

In this case the impression of depth is enhanced by the use of a wide angle lens, by the receding scale of the leaves and trees and finally by the morning mist that mutes the distance towards grey. In fact this picture has most of the depth cues that nature offers.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Greater depth

As a follow up to my previous post, here's an example of mist and fog adding depth to a picture. This three image panorama (click to see it larger) gives a better impression of the horse paddocks than a plain sunny day picture would.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The third dimension

Here are a couple of recent pictures. Yes. Autumn leaves I'm afraid.

Anyway, I found myself somewhat disappointed with the results:

Why so? you may ask.. Well it seems to me that much of the photographer's efforts are expended in creating the third dimension on a two dimensional medium. The tree concerned is very three dimensional. As I walked towards it I was impressed by the colours and the shape of the foliage and also by the depth of the subject.

Now we come to the heart of the problem: How do we portray the third dimension in a flat picture?

I have a selection of methods I call on to show a sense of depth: 

The first method is to get in close and use restricted depth of field to pull the subject away from the background. The two shots above are an example.

I like to use receding tones to imply distance. A foggy day is ideal for this, you can't beat mist or fog for creating a sense of place. Here are two pictures that use a foggy day to make a point about distance.

I think mist almost always adds to an image and is well worth seeking out, even if you need to get up before dawn, as was the case with this next picture. 

When the sun comes up mist like this will have gone in half an hour.

These final examples use two tricks at once. 

The extreme wide angle lens is well known for emphasising foreground while pushing the distant parts of the image further away.

You can make this effect even more pronounced by including shadows in the composition. The straight lines formed by shadows are excellent depth cues and help to establish that tricky third dimension in the viewer's mind.

So, why not get out there and try to create that third dimension...

Saturday, 20 October 2012


I wonder what is going on here? It looks like the corner of a nicely ordered garden with a neatly trimmed shrub. Surely this is the domain of a keen gardener. However the spade looks old and rusty. This is not a gardener's spade. So it is an enigma.

Well: It isn't a spade, it's a shovel, and it isn't a garden, it's a horse yard

If there is one thing you need in a horse yard, it's a shovel. 

Friday, 19 October 2012


We had a day of sunshine and showers this week. 

I spotted this contrasting shot of white sunlit cottage with huge storm cloud from way down the street. I proceeded briskly* towards it in order to get better framing (so called foot-zoom method) and came up with this rather nice result.

*"A gentleman should walk and never run".

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Looking for all the world like some kind of bizarre Meccano galaxy, this old tedder wheel makes a great subject.

Hay is grass that is cut and dried. The cutting bit is easier than the drying bit, so you should make hay while the sun shines. A Tedder re-arranges your hay in the field in order to get some air into it and I suppose it can be used to fluff up the hay if it has been rained on.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Churchyard

The old Saxon church yard never changes. The seasons come and go: sun and rain, fog and snow. Local folks are buried there from time to time. 

The church looks on, it has seen it all before.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Green and black

It is mid October, and there are still plenty of green leaves on the trees. I really approve of this. Perhaps we won't have a winter at all. 

Perhaps December will be warm and sunny. Perhaps they will forget the Autumn foolishness where we put the clocks back to make the final working hours miserable and dark.

Perhaps pigs will fly. Perhaps people will be nice to each other for a change. Perhaps our government will stop wasting our hard earned tax on silly projects and expensive hardware. 

Perhaps it will all work out like Revelation Chapter 21 verses 1 - 4.....

Who can say?

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Turned by the seasons: This tree in the village near the playing field is usually the first to turn colour, fleeing the lovely summer greens for a short but futile splash of reds and gold.

The ground beneath will fill with colour of fallen leaves for a while before they themselves fade to nothing. The rest is silence.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Country Ways

Ah! The old fashioned way. Here we see a steep pitched roof covered in thatch. 

These days a thatched roof is regarded as a lovely crowning glory to a country cottage by many. I suspect those who actually live under thatch have a different view.

I wonder what villagers of old thought when they first saw concrete tiles or corrugated steel roofs. Perhaps they celebrated the end of expensive and inconvenient thatch with it's fire risk and it's perpetual rotting away...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Two Views

Here are two examples of depth of field in action...

Which do you prefer. Do we focus on the twigs?

Or do you prefer the crows?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Autumn: Season of fog and pallid fruitlessness*. The fields haven't been very fruitful this year and the farmers are not happy. The poor yield has pushed grain prices up, so there is some small comfort there. Currently it looks too wet to put next year's seed into the ground.

This was the scene in the village a few days ago. No sunlight, no shadows. No distinct outlines. But this is good. You can't buy lighting like this.

Sorry about the f in fog.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Knife

This is our bread knife.

Constructed from a single piece of stainless steel: Ground and polished, honed with scalloped edges on one side of the blade it clearly considers itself a cut above the other knives in the rack.

The problem is that the asymmetric sharp edge and the thickness of the blade means it always wants to cut round corners and it requires considerable strength of will to get nice even slices. 

Each morning turns into a test of moral fibre with this knife.

I hear its voice as I pick it up.

"Hmm. Jedi think you are? .. Disappointed will you be.."

Then, later after much metal effort and concentration I find myself surrounded by slices of bread in various states of wedge, I hear it say..

"Ready you are not, young master..."

I don't believe it. "That is why you fail"

I will not be beaten. I will learn the way.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Atlantic drips

Apparently, recent research tells us that the Atlantic is having a wobbler. It has become all warm for a decade or two and that messes up the weather, which makes old Blighty wet in the summer.

No one knows why this is. Did someone leave the bath tap running somewhere? Did we remember to turn the immersion heater off? 

Too much insulation - (or do I mean insolation...)? Whatever the cause, it looks like we are in for this kind of stuff for some years to come, which is a comforting thought. Time to dig up those potatoes and plant rice instead.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


Raise your hand those caught taking pictures in a Department Store.
Yes, guilty I'm afraid. 

Hands up all the old blokes with grumpy attitudes.
Definitely guilty. 

Raise your hand those disillusioned by mankind in general.
Guilty again.

Hands up if you are the sort of person who never puts their hand up...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Below stairs

I took a wrong turn on the back staircase in our north wing yesterday and somehow ended up in the servant's kitchen. 

Daisy, the maid of all work, was down at the village. I had given Scrollocks, our Insolent Butler, the day off so I had the place to myself.

It all looked like it could do with a good clean. Note to self: I really must review the staffing situation here at Snaar Towers.

Friday, 5 October 2012


After your average enthusiast photographer has bought their first camera, most of the rest of their money will be spent on lenses. If there is any left over it will be used to buy a selection of camera bags.

You would think a camera bag would be a simple purchase, but no: The shape, the size, construction and inner disposition are all important factors. 

Here's my big bag. This is a small bag by pro standards. I don't use it much. It's too big.

And here is my latest little bag. The National Geographic small shoulder bag. It doesn't look like a camera bag. It's just right for camera plus a second lens. Excellent.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


I do like a picture with contrast in it.  Here's one with some great colours

And here's one I can't explain.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


"Cheer up" they said, "Things could get worse"... So I cheered up and things did indeed get worse. 

Ah but you see, I am a lifelong pessimist: My glass is generally at least half empty and in my experience every silver lining seems to have it's cloud.

Look at this:


It will probably rain later.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

False and Overdone

Here's a dramatic picture that has almost everything possible done to it. 

Normally I restrict my photo processing to some light adjustment of shadows and highlights, and perhaps the removal of unwanted items from the view, such as aerials, wires, signs, people...

Anyway: Here we start with a fairly strong picture. The tonal range has been pushed a long way, the contrast stretched and the image cropped.

Even those blurred rotors are fake..

Monday, 1 October 2012


It is a great compliment to be called a Man of Letters. What a curious term this is, I really must research it.

Meanwhile, I have decided I would ensure my intellectual immortality by espousing this odd concept. I therefore declare myself to be a Man of Letters.

Here's the proof:

It turns out you can buy letters at your local Garden Centre. There I was thinking you needed four years at up at Oxford.