Thursday, 23 February 2017

There's no substitute for a good lens

People who read TBOTAM will know that we went away a couple of weekends ago to north Devon, and I ended up shooting a lot of rocky beach pictures. The weekend was all about my wife & her birthday, so I whacked on an old Nikon 28-85 AF zoom and just grabbed a few pictures as the scenery went past, rather than taking my time, changing lenses and carefully composing.

When we got back I was generally quite pleased with what I had at first sight, but then came the processing. The Nikon zoom isn't bad, but it's a long way from great too. The original colour images had very soft contrast due to spray and an overcast sky, and the lens also lent a softness simply because it's not dead sharp at any aperture. I felt fairly pleased with the results in Nik Silver efex, but had to push the tonal range and sharpness/structure of the images HARD to bring out textures and and shapes in the rocks, and it's degraded the images a little on subsequent viewing.

This is an example.

I really liked this at first, but there's just too much fiddly stuff in the rocks, and the cloud on the LHS is horribly distracting. Later I ended up running a whole bunch of images through the mono module in Perfect effects but wasn't really happy due to the lack of a sense of crisp, film-like tonality and detail. I wanted everything crisper, crunchier, sharper.

At some stage these images will need a re-visit.

And like I said, there's no substitute for a good lens.

So Sunday we went to Upton House north of Banbury again, and I photographed some of their 1940s office furniture, again. This time I had a nice crisp 85mm prime lens, and immediately on processing I could see the difference. No need to go trying to boost sharpness, no hoofing structure to try to squeeze more detail out. Just simple, tone and exposure control because all the sharpness needed has been baked right in.

And then this morning, as the gales and the rain were coming along I took a picture of Ben's Guzzi, this time with an old, battered Nikon 135 f2.8 AIS manual lens. It was the same story again - no need to go scabbling around for sharpness - it's there already, even though the lens was wide open. And it's also hard to beat the bokeh from a slightly old fashioned telephoto lens that hasn't been stopped down. Just apply some tonal and exposure control and Robert is pater's brother, as they say.

I wish every photo I took looked as good as these, but sady it's not about the gear and I can still make a mess of some pics. :p

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Andrex and marmite

You can't polish a turd,as the phrase goes, but you can soften it a little so it's less turd-like.

This isn't intended to be turd-buffing. When I saw the landscape before me with the abandoned crop and the colours of the leaves & branches I knew that there was an image to create, but naturally the original was flat due to the light seeping through the clouds. My preference for creating blur is to use bokeh and movement, but in this case neither was appropriate for this image, so I did what I'd do in the days of film and tweak in processing to make something more like a painting than a photo.

Base image

Full size after adjustment

Cropped 'final' image

Woodland walk at Stowe

I've been having problems getting photos hosted on Flickr to show up here properly, and also trouble with the blogger page layout tools when the images are embedded, hence this post is a week late. Try, try again.

Last Sunday afternoon was bright and sunny with frost remaining in the shadows, so we chose to walk again around the grounds of Stowe House. The woodland walk goes around the outside of the haha, up into the woods past the gothic temple and Lord Cobham's pillar to the Bourbon tower (not shown on the map) and then back down to the lakes and across the Palladian bridge.

The Gothic castle 

The Bourbon tower

Sunset from the Palladian bridge

I also processed some up as mono images

The gothic castle

Locked gates on the way round

All photos with a D610 and either Samyang 85mm f1.4 or Nikkor 28mm f3.5 manual lenses.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Winter in the Cherwell valley

We had some fabulous frost last week, and I managed to slip down to the river and canal for about half an hour. Saw another togger at work (Hi Jo, if you find your way here) and we spent time talking technique & kit. And taking pictures.

Initially the sun was only just coming over the houses by the canal, leaving the sky very bright and slightly hazy, and casting long shadows.

I then walked down a little further to the river, where I encountered Jo, and took a couple more shots across the meadow toward Lock Cottage and the railway line. The light was changing as I walked, getting bluer and clearer as the sun rose higher.

Walking back, I'd wanted to go a bit wider than the 80-200 zoom would allow, so popped on an old 28mm f3.5 Nikkor that let me get 'into' the landscape a little more.

And then finally back over the bridge to head home.

All shot using Nikon D610, ISO 400, manual 80-200 f4.5 lens and manual 28mm f3.5 lens.

My Flickr stream.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Blenheim Christmas light trail

A few quick photos from the Christmas light trail at Blenheim palace:

From the Flickr album here.

Shot using the D610 with standard 50mm f1.8 lens at 6400 asa. That 'river of lava' is actually the waterfall.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Bradford on Avon

Is a small, attractive town in Wiltshire, about 8 miles from Bath.

We dropped by there for an hour last Sunday, after our very wet Saturday in Bath. It was around 10.30am, the sun was a little patchy, but when it did come through gave a lovely warm light, and we just enjoyed our wander through the town after the previous days miserable weather.

There is also a small Saxon church tucked away in the town (and another ancient church high on a hill that we didn't get to see) and the odd Christian symbol embedded in the local infrastructure.

Some time we'd like to go back, though it's a couple of hours drive to get there.