Thursday, 30 December 2010

Elemental (Mill Stream & Fire), Loose Valley

Something of a post-Christmas experiment; running burning wrapping paper through a mill stream tunnel in a foil wrapped Christmas pudding tub. Just one tub, with me shuttle running it, reloading with paper and relighting for each run. The 1112 second exposure (f/8.0 ¦ ISO 250) allowed for numerous runs, though only four or five made it down the rapids without toppling and quelling themselves.

The experiment was enabled in no small part by my new Christmas wellingtons. A good hour or two in the water constantly and no leaks or chills.

By way of putting ecological minds at rest, I spent about thirty minutes clearing the stream of debris before setting up in the middle of the stream. I also built a small damn of branches to ensure none of the paper or the pudding bowl escaped. Running back and forth in utter darkness to collect the bowl, knowing I was within feet of an invisible camera on tripod surrounding by cold water and stone was somewhat tense.

The green areas were in darkness and so I painted them with LED torchlight for around thirty seconds at the start of the shot.

Hope everyone is enjoying an exciting run up to New Year - whether that is only a day or some weeks away for you. Have a good one!

See Elemental (Mill Stream & Fire), Loose Valley on Flickr for additional notes.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Skeleton Coast, Rye Harbour

Foggy late afternoon at Rye Harbour. This is 444 second exposure (f/8.0 ¦ ISO 200) through a 9 stop ND filter. In response to enquiry in the comments, I use the "Lightcraftworkshop LCW ND500 MC filter 77mm" which works well. It does give images a bluish cast, which I correct in LR3, but was screw in - my main consideration to keep my kit bag light.

Probably best viewed on black - which brings out enough detail to see the soft grain in the wood of the posts. The large mass on the righthand vertical third is a tangled collection of discarded ropes and fishing nets. It's my second posted shot with the 9 stop filter. So far I'm pretty happy with it, though am yet to get a result that works in colour.

Hope everyone had an epic Christmas and is looking forward to a great New Year.

See Skeleton Coast, Rye Harbour on Flickr for extra notes.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Backlight (Winter Brambles), Hoohill

Hope everyone is well after a splendid Christmas and enjoying the run up to New Year!

Quick shot from Christmas day, as I start to learn my way around the new machine. Composition is a little wayward, but the colour demanded something quick. This light lasted less than a minute.

Catching up now!

See Backlight (Winter Brambles), Hoohill on Flickr.

Beware Of Dog (Leeds Castle Door Detail), Kent

Quick shot from last week's bleak visit to Leeds Castle. Hope everyone is having a superb week.

See Beware Of Dog (Leeds Castle Door Detail), Kent on Flickr.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Pipedream #1 without lighting

For Whom The Bell Tolls (The Burghers of Calais), France

Close-up of one of Rodin's first cast Burghers of Calais, taken in front of Hotel de Ville in the town itself where they stand.

Full information about the sculpture and the grimly intriguing events they commemorate can be found here:

See For Whom The Bell Tolls (The Burghers of Calais), France on Flickr.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Priced Out Of Lingerie, Milan

Female version of my compulsory fashion pictures from Milan. The chap's version is

Lightroom 3 was used for the switch to black and white, and Photoshop may have been employed to make a thematic enhancement to the price tags. As you might expect, this one looks classiest on black background. If I were trying to justify the luxurious price, that is certainly how I'd pitch it.

See Priced Out Of Lingerie, Milan on Flickr.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Dying Of The Light (Rossall Beach), Blackpool

Firstly, apologies that the last few days have seen me away from Flickr and thus unable to catch up with those kind enough to leave comments on my last posting. I'm afraid this posting is made by convulouted juggling of memory stick and the lack of meaningful internet access is to continue another few days yet.

This posting is a farewell to my trusty old EOS 300D. After some six years of hard and unerring service, he is tomorrow being put to pasture. I still have a few more shots to post taken on it, so the 300D will still appear in the EXIF now and again. My crop sensor 18-200mm Sigma will now be partnered with the 300D permanently and they'll come along to offer a broad range of focal lengths to minimise lost opportunities whilst my new kit is toting narrower focal length lenses. As for the new kit, imsha'Allah we shall survive the night, and I will then be the proud owner of a (second hand) 5D MKii.

Though I have only a few brief moments now, I very much look forward to a proper catch up once I'm back at home after Christmas. I hope everyone has a wonderful time with their families and a super couple of days' celebration.

See Dying Of The Light (Rossall Beach), Blackpool on Flickr.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

White Out (Leeds Castle), Kent

Snow, freezing fog and huddled forms at Leeds Castle today. Not the classic view, but one I like nonetheless! Nice on black.

Hope everyone is very well and having a great countdown to Christmas.

See White Out (Leeds Castle), Kent on Flickr.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Robin With Snow & Ivy, Rickmansworth

A shot of opportunity from a day out battling the snow yesterday. I was trying to do daytime light painting using a 9 stop ND filter, with the camera cloaked from the snow under a half kilo of elastic bands and plastic bags. Not the happiest human being due to the constant harassment of snow and with the experiment failing, I looked up to see this chap watching from just 2-3m off.

I probably looked pretty comic attempting to extract the camera from its bags, off the tripod, remove the 9 stop ND filter, get out of bulb mode, etc. without frightening him off. Still, he was a bold beast and remained through the whole wretched juggling act. This one is a close crop against ivy. There are some nice snow ones to come too.

Hope everyone's preparations for the coming week are going well, or, if you aren't celebrating Christmas, that you are surviving the media/Flickr blitz of attention it gets!

The feathers look nice in large!

See Robin With Snow & Ivy, Rickmansworth on Flickr.

Ice Age (Woolly Mammoth Light Painting), Hertfordshire

Mammoth sighting in Rickmansworth following this weekend's drifting snow.

As always, the painting is done in camera using torch/flashlight. In this case, the mammoth and the sun are both created in this way.

It's a night shot, so the sky started bright orange from the sodium street lighting outside of the nature reserve and the "sun" turquoise from the Cree LED torch. The quality of the end shot is a little compromised by quite a bit of processing to transform that into the day time sky you see here, achieved in Photoshop using the hue slider and then layers to blend into the treeline. I also used the recovery slider in Lightroom 3 to achieve a better contrast between the mammoth and the snow.

There's a couple of errors in this one - the flare where the mammoth's ear meets its body, and my presence in the scene (also around its ear). Whilst I did gently tone these effects down, too strident a correction was unappealing. All in all, I don't think either detracts too much from the overall impact.

Hope everyone likes it and is having a superb week in the run up to Christmas. For those celebrating it, I hope you have a superb few days and a great New Year thereafter.

See Ice Age (Woolly Mammoth Light Painting), Hertfordshire on Flickr.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Love At First Light (Light Painting), Kent

Update: Featured on today's Flickr Blog - thank you!

First attempt at light painting having invested £19 in a remote shutter release. I took five or six attempts to get the man worked out, using a basic flashlight/torch, dressed in navy and thoroughly hooded. This was my first attempt at the couple and the hearts. I'm delighted with it! Lots more long exposure work to come.

It was taken around 2:00am last night in Loose valley just above the village. The scene is lit across the grass with light from a bright moon, with fluorescent light from Maidstone on the horizon, which is tweaked only with the camera's WB. I cropped slightly in from the left as a third heart had strayed half off frame, and gave a minor boost to vibrancy and blacks. Lightroom 3 did a great job with noise reduction - a fair number of random (single) bright green/red/blue pixels from the long exposure were pruned without hassle.

Details: 229 seconds ¦ f/8.0 ¦ ISO 100.

Thanks for viewing! To see my second light painting of reindeer please see Light Harted.

Update: Explored #14 and front page! Many thanks to everyone who has commented, fav'ed and viewed. I massively appreciate the attention and insights offered, and will be working through everyone individually as soon as I have a chance. Thanks to all!

SOOC Version of Sodium On Ice, Rickmansworth

Some Corner Of A Field (Black and White Light Painting)

One take light painting, pretty much SOOC - just a slight GND effect added to the sky in LR3 and obviously a conversion to B&W. The original colour version is in the comments. The colour isn't at all bad, though I though the grass was a little uninspiring. The black and white felt better suited to the subject matter too.

Just upfront I'd add a note to the effect that in so far as this is a memorial to the victims of conflict, the crosses for the graves are simply there as the image that was in my mind and a shape that would easily repeat into the distance. It's not meant to be religious at all, just a quickly understood icon for a western audience, I suppose.

On the technical side it's a 414 second exposure - enough time to make all 24 crosses, the saluting soldier and the distant flare. As regards the flare, I'm glad it worked - just a result of aiming the torch (aka flashlight) at the lens from 200m distance. I felt the image needed an anchor at the end of the field of crosses, and the effect worked quite well I feel.

Meanwhile, I wanted to give the impression of angled light from that point through the crosses to the soldier, so attempted to tilt the torch's face on the left side of his body to give the impression of shadow there. This gave a few bends to lines that might have better been straight (e.g. his helmet's left rim), but was, by and large successful, so it's a technique I'll try again.

As for the torch itself, this is a new one. I mentioned in I felt my cheap £1 torch was better than an expensive on due to lack of flare. It simply isn't bright enough over 10-15' though. So I invested in a ridiculously powerful torch with a much tighter beam. You can see above there's quite a bit of flare, but it produces better lines I think. It's also an aluminum finish, so you can trace it across your limbs without it catching - the rubber grip torch is too sticky to trace properly against the body.

Not sure if that's interesting, but I get quite a few questions about this sort of thing at the moment, so thought I'd note it here. I've also put a trial run from another location in the comments - probably a stronger scene, but it needed the soldier figure to tie it together, I think, and that only occured to me later.

Hope everyone is having a great start to the week.

See Some Corner Of A Field (Black and White Light Painting) on Flickr.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Man Made Cascade, Virginia Water

Thanks for all the kind recent comments, combined with a busy week I'm afraid I've fallen behind with a few contacts streams. Apologies - bit by bit I'm catching up and will have a clear run at it tomorrow night. I'm really looking forward to seeing everything, as it has been a few days in some cases.

This is just a quick posting from a walk around Virginia Water in Surrey. The waterfall looked man made, and Wikipedia has kindly confirmed that it is. Indeed, it is the work of one Thomas Sandby. I took a few 200-300 second exposures using a newly acquired 9-stop ND filter, but the best of the bunch was this 13 second effort. I was after the trails in the lower section of water, and they are much more distinct here.

Further to some comments about Harry Potter to, the friends with whom we were walking today have explained their relevance. I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan, thus was unaware of the connection, but have duly tagged that image "Patronus" by way of homage.

Coincidentally, I see some of the outdoor scenes from the HP movies were filmed by Virginia Water. So there we go. Have a good one.

See Man Made Cascade, Virginia Water on Flickr.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas Poinsettia, Staplehurst

Just something quick, seasonal and colourful from a few days away from Flickr. Poinsettia (aka "Euphorbia Pulcherrima" or "Noche Buena") with bright natural backlighting through greenhouse windows. Catching up now. Hope everyone is very well.

See Christmas Poinsettia, Staplehurst on Flickr.

Field Of Dreams (Penalty Kick Light Painting), Rickmansworth

Following on from and I'm really enjoying exploring the possibilities of light painting.

For clarity, as with all my light paintings, every line in this shot is drawn in camera by torch or flashlight. There were lots of kind comments, messages and questions on this front last time round, and that's all there is to it!

However, by way of full disclosure this one is a two take painting - I've used the cross, ball, goalkeeper and striker's head and legs from one shot, then editted in the striker's torso and arms from a second take. I've also had to go over the lines to remove an unwanted blue tinge which came with a white balance edit across the whole frame, aimed at allowing the night sky to come through against severe urban light pollution.

It's a 248 second exposure at ISO 100 and f/13, which has mostly worked, though the bush behind the goal has over-exposed a little due to passing traffic.

Perhaps I oughtn't to say I don't really like this image, at least not as much as the other two (which I adore). The setting was a little tricky, with traffic going by in the background and dogs rushing about in the early evening. I shot early than usual to try to catch some blue in the sky, and hadn't realised how busy it can be! However, I had the concept in mind and wanted to keep the momentum to my light painting - and unless I'm doing them and posting them, I won't be getting better!

Hope you like it, and are all having a great end to the week.

See Field Of Dreams (Penalty Kick Light Painting), Rickmansworth on Flickr.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Forever Ever? (Cartier Diamonds), Vienna

Night shot taken with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 from a bench top. Only a quick one with company, so quite a bit left to be desired, but I liked the scene with this couple and, between them, the warm glow of the Cartier window display and a stranger, balanced by the clock and the shifting crowds beneath Vienna's wealth of Christmas decorations.

As we were on the way to dinner I didn't have time to wait for the crowd by the store's door to move, and asking them might have alerted the couple, so I dusted off my cloning stamp and have done my best to remove them. I've not killed myself over it, if I'm honest, but have posted the original SOOC below for anyone interested in seeing the scope of the job.

Wish there was a little more room in the frame, but the 50mm is a prime and the bench was set in concrete, so one takes what one gets sometimes.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the week. I'm delighted with the Front Page showing of - thank you all for your kind comments and other such prodding of the Magic Donkey's critical eye. I'm off for a couple of days, but will make sure that I have the time to read all your thoughts and repay your kindness as soon as I'm back. Can't wait to see all your images.

See Forever Ever? (Cartier Diamonds), Vienna on Flickr.

Original Forever Ever

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Hart Of Forest, Hertfordshire

Bit of a ramble! For those in a rush, it's enough to know the first attempt for North American viewers sits in the comments below.

Since delighting myself with my first light painting, I've lined up a number of other light paintings I'd like to try. A few weeks back I got the chance for a second session, but having invested in an overpowered Halfords torch (the torch I used first time round was borrowed) couldn't tame the light and just got flare. A visit to a £1 shop later and this is my third light painting session, the second shot I'm happy enough to post.

I've had this in mind for a few weeks, but not seen the right place for it. This evening I was out in the heavy fog shooting some Mars like images (to follow) when I found the fallen leaves had made the setting I was after. So with Christmas closing in all too quickly, I gave it a go! I took a few images to work out the reindeer (the first attempt ended up as a moose, posted in the comments for North American viewers), and then added the second reindeer at first take.

By way of side note, the moose around a 2/3 stop shorter exposure, and the colour isn't quite as cool as a result.

Normally I shoot night time long exposures at ISO 100 to tame the noise on the 300D, but it was so dark in the forest that this needed a twelve minute exposure (729 seconds ¦ f/8) at ISO 200. With each exposure something of a dice roll due to the reindeer, I felt the noise was an acceptable trade off to avoid 25 minute shots! It's a very similar colour to the sodium cloud in, and the fog does a similar job with the street lighting. The introduction of the forest and the lack of any moon, however, mean that shooting at the same settings (f/11 ¦ ISO100) last night's shot would have needed just shy of 50 minutes to get to the same place.

Kind of interesting, to me at least, sorry!

Few other things. It was raining quite hard by the end, and the mist stayed very dense, so I've amazed the torch didn't pick up droplets or flare more - it is very cheap (and dim) and I guess 12 minutes gives a lot of tolerance. I used an A4 sheet of bubble wrap I use as padding in the end of my bag as a makeshift camera cover; an innovation I can recommend.

Now I just need a red light to add the festive nose next time round. For now, I'm afraid you'll have to imagine it. Hope you're all having a great weekend and you like the image. Thanks for looking and indulging my ramble!

See Hart Of Forest, Hertfordshire on Flickr.

Alternative Hart Of Forest

Moose Light Painting

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Coldfrontation (Bury Lake), Rickmansworth

If you are looking at this photo, thank you! I know the thumbnail, which clips the geese, looks about as banal and flat as a pebble dash conference in Scunthorpe. So thank you for clicking through regardless.

Please do view on black!

Quick shot from this morning's wander in the snow and ice. A very foggy morning, so it's taken with the old 18-200mm Sigma lens - fortunately the misty atmosphere meant nothing doesn't resent it's softness! All ice in this shot, with a thin sheen of water which, in the stillness of the fog, created some lovely reflections.

For those few interested, the boat house is indeed the same one as in, shown from the other side this time.

Hope you're all having a great weekend.

See Coldfrontation (Bury Lake), Rickmansworth on Flickr.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Eilean Donan Castle Sunset, Scotland

I did try to make an HDR of this using some free software, but it was a resounding failure! Lots of turquoise patches appeared from nowhere. Clearly I have a lot to learn if I'm to do it successfully and I have a new respect for people that process HDR shots. Instead just brought through some of the stone detail in Photoshop, and perhaps not enough, but I wanted to try to keep it natural looking.

Perhaps I'm just not destined for proper HDR work. It always seemed a little excessive for me and my main interest is getting stuff done in camera first. That said, I'd love to have at least given it a go. So if anyone can recommend some free software they enjoy using, I'd be delighted to hear about it in the comments.

For the moment, it's all manual!

This shot is from a couple of weekends back hiking in the highlands, after my panicked realisation that climbing munros in November demanding technique as well as stamina. That curtailed a six top day to a single top day and meant we were down in time to take some pictures. It's a super place, though I'm still not sure about the seaweed through the foreground. Perhaps it adds a little quirkiness and sense of individuality.

Hope everyone is well and having a great week, as always.

See Eilean Donan Castle Sunset, Scotland on Flickr.

Inputs for Eilean Donan Castle Sunset

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Advent (Lamp Shop Window), Venice

Happy 1st December!

Not much to report on this, other than it's our Christmas card cover for this year. Just trying to find someone to print them. If anyone has any very good or bad experiences with such companies online, please drop me a note! I'd really appreciate it.

It's from a Venetian lamp shop window.

Hope everyone is having a great week and fun start to advent calendar season.

See Advent (Lamp Shop Window), Venice on Flickr.