Sunday, 21 June 2015

First shoot with the D3

I have finally upgraded to the Nikon D3 and these are the images from my first studio session with Rachael.   I had no problems with the new body as it is so similar to the D2x,

 I used a borrowed 24- 70mm lens. We had about two hours and it was one of the most productive shoots we have done to date, these are the first edited images I have only added a single texture layer to a couple of them and have done very little in the editing as what I had in camera was close to what I wanted to achieve.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Little Owl

Little Owl landing, backlit by early morning sun
The last Saturday of May. It is still early morning, and I am cold, getting cramped already, hunched over a camera in the confined space of a hide.

Outside, the sun is well above the horizon. Insects play in the shafts of light created by the shadow of an oak tree. The sky above the tree line is deep blue. It is going to be a gorgeous day.

Martin and Neil are sitting next to me in the hide; Neil with binoculars to his eyes, peering through the camouflage netting.

We wait. A few pigeons and jackdaws cross our view, but not the elusive quarry we are here for. The minutes pass like treacle.

A whisper from Neil. "Movement". Quiet. We still wait. "The male is on his high branch in the oak". From my angle, and with the scrim in front of me, I still can't see the bird. But I can feel the tension rise, and I check my camera settings once more, fearful of missing the moment.

"He's coming". I hear him first -- the slight slap of the wings as the bird approaches. I've got him. The camera's viewfinder blinks repeatedly in front of me as I hold down the shutter to get a series of pictures.

And there he is. My heart is beating with delight that the morning's promise is fulfilled. Backlit by early morning sun, the little owl sits on a perch in front of me. He turns and fixes me through my viewfinder with a stare that communicates that he knows I'm here, and defies my intrusion into his domain.

The owl pecks at something -- food for the young in his nest -- and is gone.

Thanks to Neil

A few more pictures in my photostream on Flickr

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



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


A little zombie from this years zombie walk Folestone

A dark look with texture.

South-bank parkour


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