Saturday, 27 February 2010

Project 50 - rain

I've really focused on the effects of rain in this project as previous images taken in the rain tend to be a little dull. Maybe I just haven't found the right subject. Mostly these effects are reflections taken in different lighting conditions.

Masts - I really liked the reflections in the puddles here and the way the diagonals mirrored those of the masts. This was a close contender for submission in Assignment 3.
De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill - we were having lunch on Boxing Day overlooking this view and I was impatient to finish up so I could go and catch the reflections following a heavy downpour. The white painted dome in particular shows up very well in the puddles.
More beach huts in Hove. I know I photograph these all the time, but this was an astonishing moment as the sun came out giving rise to the great colours on the prom. It's a real shame about the flats behind that completely destroy the picture (and no amount of cropping improves this situation) but the strength of colour is astonishing - I had to catch the moment!
Unfortunately at this time of year there aren't many flowers out to make interesting water image droplets but this euphorbia does have some potential particularly after the rain. Playing around in Elements I wondered if a black and white version with increased contrast was more effective?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Project 48 - dull and cloudy weather

This project called for photographs that would definitely not have been better taken in sunlight. I've found that many images are enhanced by having an interestingly cloudy sky, which is how I have interpreted this project. As these images show, this tends to be contrasted with an element of sunlight even if not a stunningly blue sky.

This black day on Beachy Head is really helped by the shafts of sun streaming through the dense clouds to the sea, helping to silhouette the foreground grasses.
The stormy sea is here complemented by the stormy cloudy sky. A cloudless blue sky really wouldn't have had the same effect.
A cold and cloudy weekend in Edinburgh saw a lot of photographs of the Forth road and rail bridges from all angles! The dense grey cloud enabled the still waters to be the perfect surface for reflections of the rail bridge as well as the red boat moored up in the distance.
The sunset from Calton Hill over Edinburgh was made a lot more interesting by the layer of clouds above, adding interesting colours and textures.
In the other direction, in the cloudy view over the Forth to the hills beyond make an interesting shot in itself. Somehow the clouds act a bit like tofu - soaking up other flavours and textures and then becoming more than the sum of the parts.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Assignment 3 - a winter walk from Hove to Brighton

For this assignment, which requires a selection of photographs in different sorts of natural light from my neighbourhood, I have chosen a walk that I and many others frequently do along the seafront from Hove to Brighton – a distance of just over a mile.

Given the time of year, I have chosen to represent the seaside in winter and therefore made a conscious decision to show this frequently busy location at what I think is its best – without people and with a low sun.

Photographing by the sea brings its own special delights as well as challenges: the light is strong and reflected off the sea. It is a comparatively harsh environment with a pebble beach and 180 degrees of water – no gentle coves here to soften the edges. Skies and sea are frequently burnt out in my images despite the use of a polariser. The other major issue is the horizon – I invariably have to straighten this afterwards and the subsequent cropping often means something key to the image has to come out. Having a straight sea often also seems to mean that other parts of the image somehow don’t look level which is a distraction, and those images are rejected as well.

For this assignment I took many, many pictures at different times and in different conditions. Choosing the final selection was difficult and there were some heart-rending decisions to get it down to 12. Some days were easy to discount entirely – such as the very blustery day after a storm. The sea was fantastic – all white waves and bubbling surfaces and spray everywhere. It was almost impossible to stand up however with the result that I had to delete almost the entire 200 pictures I took – they were either out of focus, just too white and bright or the lens was covered in salt.

Orange umbrellas in the sun - Hove


Still engrossed in the “colour” part of the course I was delighted to see this great example of orange on blue. While this was mid morning just a couple of days after Christmas the sun was quite low and really brought out the deeply saturated warmth of the umbrellas.

Beach huts in the rain

Wet beach huts

These beach huts are such a key part of the walk that I couldn’t do without them. I choose to photograph the bright colours in a damp and rainy context to show the colourful reflections in the puddles but also give a softer fuzziness created by the humidity. A high ISO also increases the grainy and “wet” effect.

Red bicycle in the snow

Red bicycle in the snow

I am delighted that this course has shown me how to take picture of white snow rather than grey – by increasing the exposure bias, as I’ve done here. This was a reasonably bright day after some snow but this was a typical case of needing to straighten the horizon which meant the cropping of the back wheel of the bike was tighter than I would have chosen.

Fence at midday


While the light is sometimes at its least interesting in the middle of the day, the low sun at this time of year means that this image of the fence shadows looks disproportionate to the actual fence creating a dramatic viewpoint, enhanced by the use of black and white.

Sunrise over West Pier

Sunrise over West Pier

On possibly the coldest morning ever recorded in Brighton and with snow still lying on the beach, I braved the early morning light to take pictures of the sunrise. There was an interesting battle between the clouds and the sun, then the sun burst through, the clouds melted away and the temperature rose. I particularly like the bright shadows from the fence reflected on the damp promenade.

The "birdcage" bandstand

The Birdcage

A shot taken at twilight just after the lights in the newly refurbished bandstand had come on – I wanted to include them as they provide some illumination from underneath as well as the ambient natural light that was gradually getting darker.


Pink sunset

This was an incredibly beautiful sunset but unfortunately, having been indulging in a late lunch, only saw the last 90 seconds or so during which time the pink-tinged sky shown here turned grey with the light disappearing entirely. I love the way the sea has pink reflections on it too.

Sunset over West Pier

west pier sunset

It is astonishing how different sunsets can be – this is another evening but the effects and colours are quite different with a focus on pink rather than the oranges above.

Morning sunlight

West pier

Looking west now towards West Pier (and on a day with a higher tide than the sunset image above) the focus here is intended to be on the green catamaran. The low morning sun adds a particular warmth to this part of the image which is in the sun.

Monochrome curve

The curve

I took this image on a cloudy day and it is the shape of the sculpture and its texture that I like particularly. I thought that making this black and white it would enhance those elements. The people on it – the man in a big furry hat – place it firmly in the winter and the more distant West Pier show our progression east.


Murmuration over the pier

Starlings used to roost on the West Pier but as it has gradually crumbled away they have headed east to Brighton Pier. This shot at sunset looking east captures this winter-only activity and the size of the flocks compared to the size of the pier demonstrates what a vast number of birds arrive.

Under the pier

Under the pier

On the same evening, but looking west with more of an orange glow in the sky I like the silhouette of the struts under the pier, with seaweed and rope tangled among them.

Project 47 - twilight (sunset)

Sunsets are much more accessible than dawns and as these images show, are extraordinarily varied.

Edge lighting
This image has a lovely edge lighting effect to the clouds contrasting with the dark foreground, and taken with an exposure bias of -0.7 stops.
Pink sky over the sea
This astonishing sunset was taken with an exposure bias of +0.7 stops to highlight the amazing pink clouds, which are less visible in the image below that which was taken at the exposure recommended by the camera's meter.
Sussex village
These images of the church in the pretty village of Alfriston are quite different.
The first, taken according to the camera's meter, shows the beautiful pink of the clouds without losing too much of the detail of the church and trees.
This was taken with an exposure bias of +1 stop and shows much more detail of the foreground but loses the colour of the clouds. Perhaps an extra +0.3 of a stop would have been enough.
The silhouette created in this image resulted from a reduction in exposure by one stop, and also has the effect of darkening the clouds. On balance, I think I prefer the standard version.
This image of the Thames was taken with the recommended exposure and maximises the reflections on the front panels of the distant building. A better zoom than I have would have captured that more effectively.
I think this image taken with a wider angle lens is better compositionally with the line of turrets and lights to the left but it is interesting that the sky colour is much more orange than the first - just a reduction of exposure by 0.7 has made that occur.
A fairly understated sunset here in terms of colour but still bright enough to create a striking silhouette.
Just a couple of days later and we were treated to this fantastic orange display.
And on another occasion I took this image but added a warming filter to enhance the sky which was pretty featureless - but I really liked the reflections in the foreground, as well as the silhouette the kids are creating as they play.

Project 46 - choosing the moment

This morning, after weeks of prevarication, I stumbled out of bed while it was dark not on this occasion to join the 7.11 Hove to Clapham Junction but instead to complete Project 46 about the effect of the movement of the sun on images. It was cold but the sky was already lightening - and I knew from my experience with sunsets how quickly things can change.

Not much was happening apart from a little pinkness in the sky at 7.09am. It was still sufficiently dark for the streetlights to be on. Only a few hardy joggers and dog walkers were around.
By 7.21am the sky was beginning to get more interesting with some of the higher clouds taking on a lighter and brighter pinkness although the low grey cloud seemed to be trying to blot them out. While on this occasion it wasn't enough to be truly spectacular it showed the potential of a sunrise - but this phase did only last for a few minutes.By 7.30am it looked as if the sun was more likely to set than rise again, as the bank of grey clouds thickened up again. Meanwhile, I was icing up - there was snow on the ground and given the instruction to stay in the same place for an hour or so I was freezing. I took the decision to move closer to my subject of Brighton's west pier.
By 7.42am I turned round from being absorbed by the tide tables to discover the grey clouds had been overcome and the sun was bursting through. This was a really interesting moment as the sun was still partially obscured by the clouds - but still pink.
7.49 and the sun continues to rise, burning off the cloud around and creating some interesting effects. It becomes quite difficult to photograph however, with areas being burnt out. Focusing on a different part of the image however lightens the whole thing and means you don't get any of the sunrise effects at all. It would be a shame to have missed the pink sea!
At 8am the sun is fully up, brightening everything that's around me and warming my fingers and toes which have just about frozen solid. At last there are some shadows to look at. The effect in the sky and on the sea is dramatic as it changes from being pink to an almost sepia effect with the sun's rays clearly visible through the cloud.
I did enjoy this exercise - and in fact the getting up early too - but have struggled a bit to see which is a "good" picture as there are clearly significant areas of highlight and dark on all of them as a result of shooting directly into the sun which confuses the light meter.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Project 41 revisited

Since working on project 41 and "the eye's sensitivity to colour" I've been bitten by a nagging feeling to complete the job properly using the beach hut doors on the seafront in Hove just five minutes walk away.
Today was the first day of "gardening leave" (ho hum, not really sure how I feel about that... but great for doing some coursework - hurrah!) so took the opportunity to finish this off and then plan the rest of the week's photography.
Credit goes to for the mosaic-making software.