Midnight in the woods

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The original image for this photograph is a woodland extract typical of the sort of photographs that can be found in Padley Woods, part of the Peak District National Park.

However, rather than just presenting a documentary replica of the scene, I have blended the original image with another (a photograph of a ceramic floor tile I have used before with woodland scenes) to create an alternative impression of reality – ‘Midnight in the woods’. For those interested in the Photoshop technicalities, the two images were combined using the ‘Subtract’ blending mode, set at 82% opacity.

Trees with artistic intent

Woodland Impression

‘Woodland Impression’

This image is another in a series I am gradually building based on woodland and Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). The photograph was taken at Lakeside in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England – a man-made water parkland. My aim was to create an impression of the scene rather than producing a factual representation of this particular piece of woodland.

The image was taken hand-held at arms length with the exposure settings of 1 sec, f16, ISO 100 and a 35mm focal length – so a very rapid, mainly vertical movement of the camera. I’ve developed the image using the RAW converter, Capture One Pro Version 9 (a great piece of software for this sort of image). In post-processing I have tried for a oil/acrylic painting effect using the tools available within Capture One Pro (rather than Photoshop filters) to accentuate the textures, patterns and colours, particularly within the birch trees. In addition to the usual tweaks with things like ‘Clarity’ (mid tone contrast for those who aren’t familiar with Capture One), the most important action for me was to change the ‘White balance’ from the original value of 3,707 °Kelvin, Tint +3 (as shot) to 3,400 °K, Tint -0.5 to give colder colours and a more silvery/blue colour palette to accentuate the silver birches more and give a greater feel of luminosity to the foreground trees. An unwanted side effect of that change was to make the grass bluer so I used the Colour Editor tool in Capture One to select the colour of the grass, tell it to construct an adjustment mask based on that colour (a fantastically useful option within this RAW converter) and then I adjusted the saturation of the grass so it looks more natural. I can’t sing the praises enough of Capture One’s ability to create a complex mask in an image like this in seconds just by clicking on one point in your image to select the colour you want the mask to cover wherever it  occurs in the image.

Finding the right balance between creating an impressionistic photograph using ICM and retaining the detail you want (for example the thin ‘sticks’ just in front of the large tree in the background) is something that requires some experimentation, but for me it’s worth the time since the results open up new creative options and give us ‘non-painters’ more of an opportunity to capture what we see in our minds rather than simply factually, documenting the landscape scene we find before us.

Two different approaches to tree photography

Autumn in England is a good time for traditional, picturesque landscape photography in woodland, but another approach is to use the technique of ‘intentional camera movement’ (ICM) to produce unexpected photographs that look similar to the ‘Impressionism’ style of painting practiced by artists such as Claude Monet. ICM involves long exposure times for a hand-held photograph and a deliberate movement of the camera during the exposure.

The two images shown here were taken with virtually the same exposure. Both taken with a 70mm focal length lens, ISO 100 and an aperture of f11. The difference is the first image was taken using a tripod (2 sec exposure), whilst the second one (1.5 sec exposure) was taken with the camera held at arm’s length and a rapid up and down movement from the wrist during the exposure. The results from ICM can be very hit and miss but generally an up and down movement for vertical subjects such as trees along with an interesting combinations of colours gives a fair chance of success. These two images taken within 200 metres of each other on the same day show the stark difference that can be achieved using the traditional approach to landscape photography with a tripod-mounted camera and sharp focus, compared to the ‘impressionistic painting’ result from ICM without the need for Photoshop post-processing.

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Out on the street

RPS_Day_in_the_life

With a camera in hand I’m normally more at home exploring a country landscape but from time to time I do venture out into the city. This diptych was taken a few days ago in Malaga City, Southern Spain.

I still feel uncomfortable with some aspects of street photography but it does provide a good opportunity to reflect on the nature of Society, or it can just make us stop and reflect on our own lives compared to those of others.

In a sense our own journey through life has some parallels with city streets. There’s usually a lot going on in them and even though they are separate, with each street having its own name, from time to time they do intersect with each other.

Photography has immense power to capture snapshots of life on the streets, I am particularly interested in those moments when lives touch, when peoples’ paths cross. People in the same place, at the same time, but travelling through very different lives with contrasting fortunes and futures.

A dry stone wall and fern shadows in Padley Wood

As part of my on-going project in the Padley Wood and Gorge area, here is an intimate landscape from that area. Currently I am working on three projects that will probably lead to a submission of 15 images for the Royal Photographic Society’s Associate Distinction (ARPS). This image is likely to be part of that submission.

 

The Scream

Experimenting with slow shutter speeds (courtesy of a Big Stopper neutral density filter) and using the wake of a ship out in the Bay of Biscay as the subject produced some interesting abstract/impressionistic images. This one I’ve called ‘The Scream’ because I can see a ‘face’ and ‘arm/hand’ which reminds me of the principal figure in the famous painting by Edvard Munch entitled ‘The Scream’.

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Can’t see the wood for the trees!

Yet another Padley Gorge/Padley Woods photo. Staring to build up a useful portfolio from that area. A great place for the landscape photographer plus the bonus of the biggest chip butties (sandwiches) at the nearby Grindleford Old Railway Station Café.

Sunlight, shadows and silver birch

Sunlight, shadows and silver birch

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