Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Two variations from Rochester




The Seven Dials Rapscallions were present in force at the Rochester Dickens Festival in December 2014.They are wonderful character actors, who really convey a sense of Victorians living on the ragged and bloody edge. Phil and I were lucky enough to get some of them to pose for us.

The problem, as always at a street festival, is to put the characters in a context that tells the story in an effective way. The pictures here were taken in the middle of Rochester High Street. As you can see in the originals, below, the modern context is anachronistic, jarring and distracting. So when I shot this, I had the idea in mind of making composites of the characters against a suitable simple background. Phil is, of course, the compositing maestro, but it really isn't something I particularly do. However, this was a good stimulus to give it a try.

Leaving the festival, we stopped along the way back to the car to photograph various walls and side streets that we could subsequently use as backgrounds in compositing -- and got a lot of funny looks in the process :-). Photographing the background on the same day means that the lighting was rather similar; I used the same lens as I had for the characters, so the perspective should look similar both for both character and background. In this case, I used the 24 mm f/2.8 AF-D lens that Phil had kindly lent me for the day. The 24 mm lens is not a classic portrait lens: used close in, it distorts and gives an exaggerated perspective to the subject. But the great thing is it lends an air of unreality to the image that contributes to atmosphere.

Both these pictures were made just by placing the character (cut out of the original image) on the background, and making separate monochrome conversions in Silver Efex for foreground and background. I tweaked local contrast on the character primarily to grunge up the skin texture, and tried to increase the sinister feeling by selective darkening around the edges of the background. Simple, but quite effective, I think.

The backgrounds were easy -- the walls and streets just needed straightening and cropping to shape. The characters -- well, cutting characters out is more difficult for me. Not being a regular compositor, cutting characters out of the background is the least of my skills; there is an added difficulty in that the plane of focus was very narrow on the characters eyes, meaning that some of their clothing was actually slightly soft. However, Topaz Remask made short work of cutting the characters out. I followed the method shown in one of their tutorials, and it worked like a charm.

My thanks to the two actors featured here, as well as my apologies. They don't look nearly as sinister in real life!







Saturday, 27 December 2014

Anthony’s Favourites 2014:part 2

My take on Porth Nanven

Having posted my aviation favourites inPart 1, here is an idiosyncratic collection of more general interest.

As Martin mentioned in his favourites post, it is always interesting and revealing to look back at the photographs from the past year. I've chosen a selection from those that I flagged in Lightroom as finished picks (I use the flag icon to indicate those that are photos I've picked to be OK and have finished processing): some of these I've blogged previously, or posted on Flickr, but by no means all. These are purely personal favourites: I've picked quite a few of the ones further down the page simply because they evoke for me feelings of warmer days as I sit writing on a grey and chilly day at the end of December.

Seaweed and stones, evening light, Porth Nanven beach, Cornwall

I spent some time in France this year, in Normandy and Picardie
Les Roches de Ham, Normandy: looking down over the Vire river from summit of les Roches de Ham, just south of Saint Lo. This is a picture that needs to be looked at large: it is a very beautiful place, and the picture reminds me of warm spring air, with swallowtail butterflies flittering nearby.

 The next three are from St Valery-sur-Somme.
 Joggers, St Valery, iPhone picture

Sunset at St Valery. iPhone picture processed in Lightroom.

Dawn over the Somme  

Back in England:
Autumn rush, Challock. Yes - it is straight out of the camera :-)

I certainly can't (and don't try!) to compete with Martin for wildlife or plant pictures, but here are a few that I liked, and that remind me of warmer, sunnier days.

 Skylark, Elmley

 Lapwing chick, Elmley: fluff and mud!

 
Juvenile Marsh Harriers at play, Elmley

Common spotted orchid, Bonsai bank, focus stacked with Helicon focus. From an evening shoot with Martin.

On the street: Shoreditch
 Looking in four ways

Too cool for school

 Matching

 Stalked

A quiet break on a hot afternoon. I just liked the shapes, colours, light, and partcularly the hot afternoon feel (and it really was a very hot afternoon in July).

To finish: various people who are playing characters
Maleficent at Comic Con, London, in October


Into the desert: Long Range Desert Group re-enactor, Headcorn Combined Ops, August


Seven Dials Rapscallion, December. Re-interpreted from one of the pictures in my Rochester Dickens Festival post.

I hope you can tell that I've had a wonderful time in 2014 getting out and about to make pictures.

Just a couple of final points. The iPhone is great to have in my pocket the whole time: I've only posted two here (from St Valery), but I find the the 645Pro app yields 12bit Tiffs that process beautifully in Lightroom. I use it much more than you might think from this selection: memo to self for 2015 - make more of my iPhone pictures. As for the DSLR thing - well, the D700 still works fine, despite the temptation of the D810

Anyhow, Happy New Year for 2015!
 

 



Friday, 26 December 2014

Favourites from the past year

Here we are again at the end of another photographic year and I must admit I have neglected our blog. so here are some of my favourite pictures from the past twelve months. As an added bonus I have included some new images that have not been seen before now.

I like this as it has a certain melancholy

This is my most popular image on flickr

I like the mood in this simple portrait of Megan

You never know what you will see on a visit to Folkestone

The captivating eyes of Marie

Ted Clark performing at Revelation  St. Mary's   Ashford

Oliver

A little zombie from this years zombie walk Folestone

A dark look with texture.

South-bank parkour

Ruby

Steve who works with the band Boy and Bear 

Early summer Margate

A classic look from Fea Marie

From a project ageless beauty

To mark the one hundredth  anniversary of the start of the Great war

Marie in colour

Gruff Rhys at the sound-check for his gig at Revelation in September

Another in my series ageless beauty 

One of the best gigs at Revelation this year Ezra Furman

From our visit to Comic con in London this year

One of the members of the Seven Dials Rapscallions at Rochester's Dicken's Festival

Cosmic John 

More from ageless beauty set

Leonie asked me to photograph her wedding this year ?

From the land of grey and pink
 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Anthony’s Favourites 2014:part 1


Probably my favourite picture of the year: two Lancasters, British and Canadian, with their escorts approach Beachy Head at low level
I’m going to divide this year’s favourites into two parts:
1 will be aircraft
2 will be general photography

This year has seen a coincidence of several anniversaries with aviation links, as well as some new or visiting aircraft that I’ve not seen before. 2014 has seen the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, as well as the 50th Anniversary of the Red Arrows. Not only that, but we’ve had a tour from the Canadian Heritage Museum Lancaster (giving us two in the air at once with the BBMF Lanc), as well as other significant aircraft such as a pair of Polish Fitters. There’s been a seeming rush of new replicas around too, such as a Travelair Mystery Ship, a Mew Gull and two BE2c aircraft.

The pictures here are all reasonably large files (1400px or 2000px on their longest side), so worth clicking on to view large.

I’m a big believer that with blog posts, in general, less is more, but, really, I find it hard to edit this selection down much further. So, there’s about 26 pictures – ten or so more than I’d originally meant to assemble. I’ve also not tried to duplicate too many aircraft types, but sometimes it just can't be helped :-)

On with the show!

To start with D Day commemorations at Duxford, end of May.




The D-Day anniversary brought out large numbers of aircraft with connections to the invasion. Multiple Dakotas (C47) appeared at various events, including these on the flight line at Duxford in May. That day, they commemorated the parachute jumps onto the continent, including this demonstration from the Parachute Regiment.  Duxford would be much diminished without Spitfires, so here is MH434 still low after take-off. Finally, the Duxford-based Wildcat made a very welcome return.

The return of Biggin Hill
I was delighted at the return of an air display at Biggin Hill for the first time in a few years. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great, so I got few pictures that could stand out. But the Typhoon display with plenty of jelly air was great.

RIAT in July: really too many pictures, but what can you do?
 50th Anniversary fly past by the Red Arrows with representatives of 4 other team: the Breitling jets, the Patrouille de France, Patrouille Suisse and Frecce Tricolori.
 Spiral descent: Solo Turk F-16
 Polish Fitters
 Frecce Tricolori singleton
 US Navy FA-18
 Swedish Gripen turning in the rain on the Sunday morning
 Making its on clouds: A400M
 The Italian Airforce Tornado display was one of the best I've ever see from this type
I'd not seen the A-11 AMX before: this is an Italian aircraft
 The Textron AirLand E530 Scorpion N531TA was also new to me
 ... as was this P-8 Poseidon

And now - as they say - for something completely different: Headcorn

 I made several trips to Headcorn as usual, to hang out on the fence with Graham, Colin and Len: it is amazing the variety of types that come through. As an example, here is an Auster AOP6 WJ368.
In commemorating the outbreak of the First World War, there had been an attempt to re-create the first flights of the aircraft of the BEF to France. The weather was bad enough that it never happened as planned, but one of the BE2c aircraft made it to Headcorn. This record shot of it is a stitch of 4 overlapping pictures at 200mm f/4 to get a bokeh-pano to isolate the aircraft a little from its background.

Old Warden
 The Mystery ship

 A pair of Mew Gulls
 The DH88 Comet
Chilton DW1: this made a UKAR picture of the week

I made two trips to Old Warden to see displays put on by the Shuttleworth Collection, the second one with Martin. The restored Comet looked amazing!

I've blogged about the Shoreham Airshow previously, so I won't include any of those pictures here, but otherwise the Vulcan and Dragonfly in front of Lancing Chapel would certainly be here.

Finally, a couple of night shots.

I only made it along to one of the Northolt Nightshoots this year: this picture shows the Qinetiq Alpha and a Hawk T2. Best viewed large as it is a stitch of multiple overlapping shots: I'm showing it here at 2000px wide.
 Finally, the Spirit of Kent runs at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. UKAR chose a different one from this set as a picture of the week, but I do like this picture. As with the previous, this is a multi-image stitch, so best viewed large (just click on it).

All in all, I've had great fun this year photographing aircraft. About 3 months to go before everything gets going again: can't wait!