Slightly abstract image here. Made up of three different textures. Concrete, water and sand. The colours and contrast have been exaggerated massively to create more impact. The shot was made looking downwards from a seaside carpark (lower left of frame) into the water (middle of frame) with the submerged boat ramp on the right side of the frame. I think though that knowing this makes the picture less interesting.
On my way back home from a trip on to Dartmoor I turned a corner to see the South Devon lower fields lit up by the sun. The contrast between the snow covered fields and the dark wintery hedgerows and trees looked fabulous. The light gave the landscape a ‘graphic’ two dimensional quality that I thought a monotone approach would suit.
The image was taken on a fairly long range telephoto lens at the 400mm end (equivalent to about 600mm on a 35mm full frame camera)
A lot of people ask, what is the best camera? The answer has to be,the one you’ve got with you. Nowadays theres so many many ways to capture interesting images. Sports cameras , mobile phones, Go Pro’s and of course conventional digital and analogue cameras.
This image was taken using my old Go Pro camera in a waterproof housing. I set it take rapid fire stills images. Placed on a cheap little tripod in-between the rocks. As the waves came down the gulley the camera fired maybe about 50 images. This was my favourite.
It’s not what you could call an ‘intelligent’ image. I didn’t really frame it, set exposure values or focus it, but it captured the effect I was looking for. It can be fun to experiment even if thing go wrong. The point here is I wouldn’t have risked placing an expensive camera and lens so close to this fast flowing salt water full of tiny stones, sand and rocks.
I hate shaving. It’s one of those annoying daily rituals. I shave every morning. Its amazing how consistent I am too. Before I start, I typically wash my face in hot water. I then religiously follow the same sequence of applying shaving foam, first to the right side of my face, then the left, moving on to my neck before covering my both lips which I then draw a line through….sometimes upward like a smile, sometimes straight like a robot and sometimes downward like a frown. Mostly though I opt for the robot look.
Then the shaving ritual starts. I follow the same routine of dipping the razor into the hot water. Then shaving my face, right side and then the left side, nearly always choosing to shave my neck before my upper lip. In actual fact its more detailed than this but worse still if I miss a step or try to change the sequence it makes me feel very uncomfortable!
…more than 30 hours a year..
Anyway, all told it must take me about 5 minutes. Thats 5 minutes every day, seven days a week and not far off 365 days a year (on some rare occasions I don’t shave) totalling on average more than 30 hours a year. Incredibly thats 1 day and 6 hours of non stop shaving………….Please get in contact directly if you’d like to know more about my morning ablutions that include teeth brushing, flossing, beard and moustache trimming, eyebrow plucking, medication(s) and aftershave application.
The point here is that tall of the above represents a significant daily ritual. I stand in the same place, facing the same direction, looking at the same familiar objects that are at my ritual site and perform the same operations in the same order everyday.
looking versus seeing,
This got me thinking about looking versus seeing, just as in music there can always be a difference between hearing and listening. All of this led me to consider how well I knew and observed the site of my daily rituals.
I mention all of the above because the very first photograph that had a real impact on me was of something that was very familiar to me.It was something I’d seen and used many times without giving it any real consideration.The object in question was an old GPO telephone door handle. I’ve mentioned this before on this site that the photographer had made me focus, not least of which by excluding any other distracting objects and had managed to make me look and really see that there was something here worth looking at. The way that the photographer had framed and composed the image, the limited depth of field highlighting certain points of interest had somehow managed to captivate me.
The highly polished, chrome handle simply looked fantastic. The image was beautifully printed in monochrome with deep rich blacks , brilliant whites and a rang of tones inbetween. Remembering all of this I decided to undertake a photo study of my ritual site. I was surprised by the result. The images had made me see elements of familiar and unfamiliar shapes and design.
To take a high resolution look at the images please navigate to the gallery or click here.
Texture, Light and isolation
Sometimes it’s possible to miss the interesting, to walk right past something that has a real and unique quality and yet pay it no attention. Often this can be because this object (this thing) has been seen but never really looked at. Occasionally it might be because the lighting, direction of light and time of day may not compliment the subject.
..a real and unique quality…
Perhaps this blog’s title should have been reordered to read Light, texture and isolation as light is always the most important factor in photography. Depending on the quality, direction and colour temperature of the light so much can be achieved. The image below is a perfect example. The surface of the rock pictured here is so interesting when examined closely. There are wonderful natural patterns, veins, cracks and faults that are all the more visible when the light falling on it comes from the side. The soft light also brought out the subtle blue and grey colours of the stone. Depending on the framing its possible to isolate the subject so,as in this case, a sense of scale is hard to understand. In this particular image the real scale or size is about 18 inches wide by about 10 inches tall.
Light, texture and isolation
All of the images in this blog were recorded more or less in the same location, no more than about five or ten feet from one another. This next example uses similar techniques to isolate the image from its context. I selected this particular section of rock because of the direction of light and the textures that it shows. The same forces of nature have been at work here as in the previous example, waves, wind and erosion but because of the geological differences in the rock, those same forces have yielded a different result.
…isolate the image from its context.
Although you couldn’t say that the images seen here are abstract (they’re very obviously images of rock or stone) what the camera can do, is to make the viewer see the specific subject outside of its context i.e the family one metre away eating ice creams on the beach. I find this particular ability of the photographic process fascinating. You, the photographer can make your viewer and audience see the subject exactly how you want them to see it. Of course, how they interpret it is another thing all together. Its probably worth stating the obvious by mentioning that your choice of lens, exposure, depth of field and framing also contributes massively to the end result.
..make the viewer see the specific subject outside of its context..
This next images starts to venture a little towards the abstract but only a little. It’s an image of stones and rocks recorded in a fast flowing fresh water stream. The scene is in constant motion. The surface of the water is constantly changing. The light is always in motion reflecting from the water surface in an unpredictable way. It’s not an ‘intelligent’ image in as much that I couldn’t predict the exact result but for me that doesn’t matter. Taking multiple shots from the same angle produces very different results. The process though, allows you to take multiple images and select the the one(s) that produce the best or desired result.
…light is always the most important factor in photography.
The final example here is of the remains of a steel handrail that has been eroded by the sea, sand and a great deal of time. For me it makes a contrast in terms of textures and most importantly colour. Its easier to see the scale in terms of size but the contrast of the ‘man made’ as opposed to the naturalness of the stone is appealing to me.
To see more example please navigate to the Galleries menu or click HERE
Dartmoor is an amazing and rugged place. Approximately 400 square miles of wild and generally unpopulated high moorland. Dotted across the landscape are Tors or rocky outcrops. You really get a sense of an ancient and slightly dangerous place. Lots of opportunities for photos here.
If you ever walk there alone it’s a good idea to go prepared for sudden changes in the weather and to let someone know the area you plan to visit.
‘..the place really does have its own kind of ‘vibe’..’
The terrain here hasn’t really changed for thousands of years. Haytor pictured above is a relatively easy place to get and can be the perfect introduction to anyone thats unfamiliar with the moor.
I love being up here, its difficult to explain but the place really does have its own kind of ‘vibe’. Many trees have grown into strange and unusual shapes, the result of unrelenting strong winds. Criss crossing the landscape are lots of fast flowing rivers and streams.
A few miles north of Buckfastleigh in South Devon is the Avon Dam and the source of the river Avon. The avon starts here and flows more or less southwards through South Brent, Avonwick and Averton Gifford before flowing into the sea at Bantham a distance of about 18 miles.
Theres a great walk from Shipley Bridge (OS grid reference SX680629
Lat 50.451047 // Long -3.860666 Postcode TQ10 9EL (approx. location only) up to the dam with lots of great opportunities for photos. Just take a lot of care, it’s really easy to fall in.
To see more more imagers go to the gallery or click this LINK
About 9 miles north of Abergavenny is the beautiful Llanthony Valley. It’s well worth a visit whatever the weather. It’s pretty in places, rough and tough in others but always peaceful and serene.
Llanthony : A place for quiet contemplation
‘The landscape opens up and you can see for miles…..”
As you head north up through the valley the hills close in and the climb gets steeper until you reach Hay Bluff. The landscape opens up and you can see for miles into the Herefordshire countryside below. If you’ve ever seen the film ‘An American werewolf in London’ the creepy opening scenes were filmed here.Loads of opportunities for photographs along the route.
Remnants of the past
Llanthony Priory is fabulous, mostly derelict but what remains hosts an amazing old cellar bar with Felin Foel regularly on tap. If you want stay the night its possible to book a room in the Priory or there’s a very basic camping field nearby.
Capel y Fin is little more that one cottage and a small chapel. The chapel dates back to the mid 16th century. Its a small single story building painted white and to my eyes doesn’t depict a typical welsh chapel but I’m no expert.
‘….Yew trees a few of which are more than 2000 years old.’
2000 year old Yew tree
Nestled into the southern slopes of the Fforest Fawr massif, west of Merthyr Tydfil, Waterfall Country is one of the most beautiful and popular parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Fforest Fawr Geopark, with steep, tree-lined gorges and an abundance of tumbling water.
‘…wooded gorges, caves, swallow holes and waterfalls.’
Coed-y-Rhaeadr (Wood of the Water), Waterfall Country lies within the triangle formed by the villages of Hirwaun, Ystradfellte, and Pontneddfechan. Here, old red sandstone and a long belt of outcrop limestone have created a highly distinctive environment of wooded gorges, caves, swallow holes and waterfalls.
The Rivers Mellte, Hepste, Pyrddin and Nedd-Fechan, tributaries of the River Neath, have their headwaters in the Fans, the old red sandstone mountains further north, and wind their way south through Waterfall Country via steep-sided, tree-lined gorges.
It’s well worth a visit at any time of the year…..
I had a fab day here. It can be a bit tough in places but lots to see. It’s well worth a visit at any time of the year but especially after heavy rains increases the flow of water over the many falls.The most famous waterfall is Sgwd-y-Eira, the Snow Waterfall, on the River Hepste, where a natural path leads right behind the curtain of water.
To see more images visit the gallery by clicking HERE