Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stonehenge


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Stonehenge was a highlight of my Wiltshire roadtrip in December, 2006, and I could only lament how rough the weather was on the day. I would have loved to see it in summer, but the greyness of the day certainly created atmospheric images. This is a generic view chosen to exclude the throngs of visitors, hundreds despite there being a 45-degree slant on the rain at the time. The chip has managed the exposure very well indeed, bringing out the median-values and detail on the subject while burning the stormy sky out to white. The image was sharpened and enhanced in the areas of colour and contrast. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. image by Mike.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Globes in the Sun


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Art decor can range from the irritating to the engaging, and the classically simple purety of these sherical light shrouds, echoing organic bubbles against the natural sky, is a strangely pleasing image. Art imitates nature, steel and glass become an organism, a linear one but no less a reminder of stems and branches, or of the floatation bladders of sea wrack. These lights were photographed on the Festival Plaza, Adelaide, in January, 2008, and were a simple composition exercise. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Deceptively Calm

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The shelter of cliffs buffers a town from the weather, and just as the old town of Whitby nestles in the protection of the Esk River estuary, so Sunderland grew up around the mouth of the Were. This is the Sunderland marina, a new residential complex sheltered by the shoulder of the Roker cliffs from much of the force of the North Sea weather, and here the marina seems placid, almost Mediterranean. The frame was taken from St Peters Rd, in November, 2006, and was sharpened and colour- and contrast-balanced. The horizon line was squared up with fine rotation. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Adelaide Hilton Hotel


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After an evening band shoot at a city pub, I was heading home via public transport from Victoria Square, Adelaide, and could not resist trying again for a definitibe portrait of the Hilton Hotel, in the full beauty of its floodlights. I steadied the camera against the uprights of the bus shelter and picked up a few frames of which this one has the most comfortable composition. The chip does a remarkable job of registering the intense contrast in a night time image, the length of exposure can be seen from the blurring of the pedestrian and car at lower left, and the frame was enhanced with the usual round of tweaks via Irfanview for publication. August, 2009. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Lytham Rd, Blackpool


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The sky was the motivating factor in this image. It was just after sundown on a chilly evening in November, 2006. I was standing on a bridge, looking north toward Blackpool Tower, and was exploring for a while before retreating to my hotel. The short wavelength light in the shadowed street is an interesting, soft registration, while the clouds make for an artistic counterpoint to the angular, built environment. Sharpened and enhanced, with gamma correction bringing up middle values and contrast hardening them off. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reflected Forest





Sometimes you 'see' a potential shot, and do some manoeuvring to make it happen. This is the glass facade of the new wing of Flinders Medical Centre, south of Adelaide,with the tall eucalypts lining the seasonal stream that runs by the foot of the building reflected clearly. I saw this image from the parking lot on the opposite slope and picked the right spot, zoomed in hard on the effect I was interested in and grabbed several frames. The time of day was crucial, had the light been from a different angle the reflection would not have been as clear: the trees had to be catching direct light but not the facade. April, 2009. Sharpened and contrast-enhanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. mage by Mike.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Available Light, With a Difference


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This is the British Museum's mounted skeleton of the dinosaur Baryonyx walkeri, photographed in December, 2006, and it presented a different lighting situation to most other displays. The floodlights built into the mount provided all the primary illumination, whereas most of the freestanding dinosaurs are in mysterious, soft lighting and are so large that flash shots tend toward the indistinct as the subject flows into the background in ways contrary to the usual performance of flash. This is a non-flash shot and the contrast level is excellent. The frame was sharpened and colour-enhanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hot Sundown





One would expect this shot to be using a gold filter, but it was taken without any aids at all. It's a high telephoto value on the setting sun, taken off Brighton beach in August, 2007, and it suggests a hot day, a very tropical feeling: it was a cool late afternoon, and after sundown conditions became rapidly chilly. The horizon line is almost exactly horizontal also, which is pretty fair for hand-held shooting. Sharpened only; Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stone of the Ages


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This shot was taken inside Salisbury Cathedral in December, 2006. This is a place of living history and one is very much aware of the passing centuries, of the millions of pairs of feet which have walked these halls before. I had mixed success with this shoot as the lighting levels were essentially low but the building so huge that flash did not have a hope of reaching. I took my best shots with the camera held imobile against an upright to let the long exposures do their thing. I have some shots with people visibly moving, illumination was that low. This was an attractive composition in which the late afternoon sun could register along with the artificial lights, and outline the 12th century stonework to perfection. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Catch the Flash


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Reflex shooting can give unpredictable results, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Here a Robinson R-22 helicopter is framed quite well, at a high telephoto value, as it passes obliqiuely, at the Goolwa Classic Airshow, February, 2007, south of Adelaide, South Australia. The short exposure time has stopped the blades and the timing of the shutter has also captured the strobing of the beacon on the aircraft's tail boom. The general grain of the image is an artifact of the telephoto setting, and the fact it was taken at only 2mp, a way of getting a large number of frames onto a flashcard in the days before really big cards started to become affordable. Sharpened and colour-enhanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Waterbirds in Grey Light


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These swans were photographed on the lake at Ropner Park, Stockton, Cleaveland, UK, in December, 2006. It was a day of changeable weather, alternately grey or sunny, rainy or dry. The birds on the lake, ducks, swans, geese, are expert wranglers for food and flock to any visitors. They make unusual photographic subjects, especially in the quite steely light of the moment. This shot was cropped from a larger frame, sharpened and the colour enhanced slightly. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alien Organisms


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These huge, bizarre plants were photographed at the lake at Loftier Gardens, in the Adelaide Hills, in April, 2009. They are so strange, rising so imposingly from the waters, that they evoke thoughts of lush alien jungles, when of course they are very much terrestrial. The exotic plants gathered in botanic gardens are often eye-opening in their sheer unfamiliarity. This was a simple frame-and-shoot, looking more or less into the sun quadrant of the sky but the transparency of the vegetation creates almost the illusion of side-and front-lighting. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Soft Dusk Light





This is one of my Newcastle Airport shots from November, 2007, taken with the camera held firmly against plate glass and with the benefit of a piece of furniture blocking reflections. The sun was down, leaving the world in indirect, long-frequency light, and so long as the camera was steady the chip translated the conditions remarkably well. I framed the standing aircraft and waited for the taxying aircraft to reach the right point in the composition before the releasing the shutter, compensating also for the timelag in that operation. Sharpened and contrast-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Autumn Mirror


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This is a delightful study of the lake at Loftier Gardens, east of Adelaide, taken in April, 2009. Viewed from the south side, this was a zoom shot of the northern bank. The image was cropped to draw the attention tightly to the trees and their reflection, and create a palette of pure fall colours. Sharpened, colour- and contrast balenced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sun Quadrant


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Shooting into the sun quadrant is always an adventure, as the characteristics of your lens will interact with the lighting angle and any other local conditions to create flash and glare, often intrusive factors but sometimes aesthetically pleasing on their own merits. The prismatic artifacts in the dark area are particularly interesting. This shot was taken at the base of the east breakwater in Whitby, North Yorkshire, UK, in November, 2006, looking toward the west side of the harbour, something of a reflex shot to catch the passers-by in the midst of the glare, and basically see what happened. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Dry Land





Is this the dry heart of Australia? No, this photo was taken in November, 2006, on a domestic shuttle between Adelaide and Melbourne. The watercourse holds enough moisture for life to survive but away from the river the heat and dust rule. The trick with this kind of shot is to see the interesting ground features, frame and shoot before the plane is past them, but from 20, 000 feet the scenery scrolls by slowly enough for the process to become a comfortable one. Sharpened, and colour- and contrast-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Around the Feet of Giants


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This is the East End of London as it has been redeveloped in recent decades, a maze of new residential and business blocks fronting on the waters of the long-disused commercial docks, a veritable Venice of canals and bridges, the 19th century maritime trade complex recreated as gracious living in the 21st. The Docklands Light Railway is the people-mover which threads it all together, running on a system of bridges and elevated tracks from the region of the Tower of London to Greenwich and points further afield. This shot was taken through the train window (some reflections of internal lighting appear as the price of framing the material for its own benefit) on a Sunday afternoon in November, 2007. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Metal and Complex Light


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Here the POV is under the tail of the DeHavilland Sea Venom at the Fast Jets Fighter Museum, Parafield Airport, north of Adelaide, taken in January, 2007, and the range of tonal values the chip has gathered are striking. The shadow areas have been adequately registered, while the main lighting source is burned out, yet the general colours of the environment have been captured with great truth. The image was sharpened, and the colour and contrast adjusted slightly. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Street Scene in Shadow


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This frame was taken in the morning at the top of the eighteenth-century Henrietta St, Whitby, in November, 2007. The shadow of the east cliff is cast over the mouth of the River Esk and flattens the contrast, and this frame, looking back down the steep street, catches the compression of perspective with a medium telephoto factor. The verticals of the buildings become the theme, and the horizontal of the road surface the element giving meaning to the verticals. The absence of pedestrians creates an almost staged air, and a quite artistic feel. Sharpened and contrast- and colour-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Extreme Distortion


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This is the most extreme example of heat distortion I've yet photographed. My post "Unintentionally Artistic" looked at catching a stem of grass correctly in focus as a consequence of the chip being unable to focus on the heat-distorted aircraft in the background; this is the same aircraft, a T-28 Trojan flown by Wayne Pearce at the Goolwa Classic Airshow, February, 2007, heading in the opposite direction, further away and 100% masked by the heat haze rising from the runway. The photograph was taken at high telephoto, thus the distortion becomes the entire image. Colour-enhanced and contrast-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

Vanishing Point in Stone





This is a pleasing perspective shot, taken on the south side of the south breakwater on the Roker foreshore of Sunderland in November, 2006. The low lighting angle was about 3.30pm. The conditions were very cold, with a stiff breeze, and I went down a flight of old boat-landing steps to capture this angle on the stonework. This engineering is 19th century, and the deterioration of stone and iron under the impact of the environment creates always-interesting images. Sharpened and colour enhanced, Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lighting Depth


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This is once again opportunistic photography: at the Gumeracha Medieval Fair in May, 2009, I snapped some close-ups of the armoured horsemen after their display. The jousting area was set up at the base of a steep hill, which created a shadowed background in the late afternoon, while the foreground remained sunlit, and here the backlighting does interesting things with both armour and the foliage closest the POV. This is a complicated lighting situation and taking advantage of it for striking composition makes the lighting the key element of this 'personalised hardware' shot. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

19th Century Landscape


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This image is an excellent contrast to my last photo from the Esk Valley Railway. That time the lighting, the cleanliness of thr window and the angle on the subject were wagering against the shot, but this time everything was going for it: a clean window, lighting favouring the subject matter, and a lower telephoto factor providing for less inherrent grain. This is a classic old farmhouse in the Esk Valley of Yorkshire, between Middlesborough and Whitby, snapped on a sunny afternoon in November, 2007, from the passing train. But for the visible motion on the foreground tree, you would almost think you were standing on the far side of the valley from the clarity. The frame was sharpened and colour- and contrast-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Then and Now





Architecture defines the centuries, and here in the Adelaide CBD the 19th and 20th centuries are very apparent. The city is less than 200 years old, and the neo-classical styles that defined grandeur 150 years ago are now almost quaint, though the size and stylistic inventiveness of modern buildings has often been criticised as lacking the inherent dignity of prior centuries. This is a view of Adelaide's tallest building, taken from Currie St in April, 2009, and was technically an exercise in composition, balancing the vanishing point symmetry of different structures in different alignments to create a pleasing, vertiginous, image. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Urban Visitor


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Seagulls penetrate to the heart of London, reminding the viewer that the Thames, so wide and placid and dirty, is in fact a tidal river and that the arm of the sea known as the Thames Estuary is not very far to the east. This bird posed for a telephoto portrait on a (fascinatingly textured) rotted wharf piling on the river frontage near the Tower of London, with the old cruiser HMS Belfast framed as the background, in November, 2007. Sharpened and colour- and contrast-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Evening in the Valley


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This photograph was taken in the country near Williamstown, east of Adelaide, in October, 2007. The shadow of the hill behind the POV was starting to move across the valley, and the horizontal, long-frequency light created the amazing field of colour and shade seen here. This was an opportunistic shot, a few minutes and the whole image would have changed, so the idea is to zoom on the area that most grabs the eye and grab the composition while it lasts. Sharpened only. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lens Flare by Night


Given that this image was also taken through a window, it turned out very well. After several hours delay for weather, my plane finally backed away from the terminal at London Heathrow bound for Australia, in the third week of November, 2007. I had photographed the aircraft from the terminal, and at last got some shots through the window as she started to move. Here the massive flood lights burn out in lens flare, and reflect from the wing. The shot was cropped down to better focus on the area of interest, then sharpened. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Characterising the Action


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This is a less-precise variation on "personalising the hardware," almost a crowd-scene, though the image tells a story. The sign on the truck sets the scene, the people are the personification of what's happening and the helicopter, stopped in flight overhead, is the "noun" of the narrative in the sense that it is the object, and the "verb" in the sense that flight is the action. This was one of a batch of similar shots taken at the Goolwa Classic Airshow, February, 2007, in which the close proximity of people and aircraft made for many interesting action shots. Trying to shoot aircraft devoid of passers-by is a skill all by itself, but when you combine them deliberately some engaging compositions result. Sharpened, and colour- and contrast-balanced. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic. Image by Mike.