Memories and missing pictures

This is a first from me – a blog post without pictures.  But there’s a reason; read on.

I’ve had a break from blogging; March and April saw me travelling extensively, with trips to Brittany, the Lofoten Islands, Venice and Norfolk.  Time at my desk between trips was for catching up with all the admin I hadn’t done while away.  But, this morning, I decided it was time to resume my much-neglected 365 redux project.  So I booted up my Mac and hunted for a shot from 15th May.  To my surprise, I found that in the last five years (as far back as my current Lightroom catalogue goes) I hadn’t taken a single photo on 15th May.   I wondered why that might be.  May is such a pretty month – surely a landscape and bug shooter would have found reason to go out shooting on the 15th at least once?

15th May was my mother’s birthday.  Perhaps I was busy with family on that day, but surely I ought to have taken some family snaps then?  Well no, and that brings me to the point of this post.  My mother hated having her photo taken.  The pictures I have of her are from her youth, pictures of a mother I never knew.  Beautiful and young, but not my mum.  I have very few pictures from the later decades of her life, when she was the person I knew and loved.  And this made me think.  I too hate being photographed; perhaps it’s a photographer’s curse?   I know I much prefer being behind the lens. But there is more to it; I must confess to the vanity of not wanting my ageing face to be recorded for posterity.  Canute-like, I want to command the years to retreat even if the only thing I can actually control is the production of images of myself.

This is the first 15th May since my mother passed away.  And I wish I had more pictures of her.  I would like to share them with my own daughter and to remember the grandmother she loved.  She looks at the old pictures of her youthful grandmother with admiration, but not with recognition.  I can’t do anything about that – it’s too late.  But I can make sure that when I am gone my daughter has pictures of the mother she knew.  I will just have to put vanity aside and let the shutter click.

A turbulent evening

Brittany

During the first couple of days of my trip photographing lighthouses in Brittany earlier this month, we had some nicely changeable weather. The wind was so strong at this lighthouse, it was hard to keep the camera and tripod still enough. Black and white seemed to suit this two-toned structure.

Dawn the next day, and it was still just as windy but the sky was serene, heralding more peaceful weather ahead.  A long exposure in colour seemed the way to go.  I love going back to locations and capturing their different moods.

bretagne

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Still catching up with my 365 redux backlog. 365/66, 68 and 69 are from 2009, the year of my original, and more conventional, project 365. It’s handy to have that project to rely on when I hit a patch where I haven’t taken pictures in other years. True to my pledge, I have re-edited these. 67 is from last year, a shot previously unshared of a midge on a pieris shrub in my garden. I am enjoying seeing how my images have improved (to my eye, anyway) in the 7 years since I switched to digital, and became obsessed.

365/66

365/66

365/67

365/67

365/68

365/68

365/69

365/69

365 Backlog

derelict hut

365/60

Starting to catch up with my backlog of 365 redux images before a different sort of post tomorrow. 365/60 is from 2010, 61and 62 are from 2009 and 63 is from 2014.  365/64 is also from last year.  According to the traditional song, seven magpies is ‘for a secret never to be told’, but what about 24?  Finally, 365/65 is also from 2014, an image hitherto unprocessed from my day out shooting street images with Damian Demolder and Amateur Photographer magazine.  If you want to know more about my 365 redux project, see here.

wey navigation

365/61

poinsettia

365/62

snowdrops

365/63

magpies

365/64

street

365/65

Silky waves, sometimes

I have been promising a post about shutter speeds and sea photography for a while. It seems I am going to do two; this is the first. Long exposure photography, achieved with ND (neutral density) filters, has become ever more popular in recent years. I enjoy it too. Adjusting the length of the exposure, even during the brightest time of day, is one way to expand the creativity of my image making. Over time, I have found that I have begun instinctively to know roughly what shutter speeds are going to achieve the effect I am after. The following pictures were all taken within an hour of each other earlier this month, at one location, Climping beach on the West Sussex coast.

Sussex coast

20″, f/16, ISO 100, 200mm, Big Stopper

The ‘Big stopper’ is a 10-stop ND filter. That is, it reduces the light getting to the sensor by 10 stops, so an exposure of 1/250th of a second becomes four seconds. The first two images here were taken using a Big Stopper. Note how in the top image, at 20″, breaking waves have become an ethereal mist, really not like water at all. Reduce the time by a half and there is more of a hint of wateriness, but not much.

sussex surf

10″, f/22, ISO 50, 140mm

At four seconds (below), some of the movement of the waves is beginning to appear.

sussex surf

4″, f/22, ISO 50, 200mm

This increases as the exposure time gets shorter.

sussex surf

1.6″, f/7.1, ISO 100, 120mm

And then (below) we begin to reach my favourite zone for capturing breaking waves, something between half a second to 1/5 usually seems to suit me – I like to capture some sense of the form and energy of the waves, but without ‘freezing’ them.

sussex surf

0.5″, f/11, ISO 100, 200mm

My favourite picture from the morning is this one, at 0.3″. I am fascinated by the way the water splashes, scattering into different directions, and this shutter speed seems to be good at capturing that with an almost painterly effect.

sussex surf

0.3″, f/11, ISO 100, 135mm

The exact shutter speed will vary with the force of the surf. My second post on this topic will be from a very different set of conditions experienced at the coast in Norfolk last week.

Finally, not every shot of the sea has to be a long exposure! Sometimes you just have to go faster. Turning round from my chosen breakwater, I saw these gulls playing chicken with the waves:

gulls and sea

1/800, f/10, ISO 200, 200mm

gulls and sea

1/1000, f/10, ISO 200, 200mm

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A backlog of 365s: 365/59 is from 2010, taken at RHS Wisley.

leaf macro

365/59

365/58 is from 2009, when I was at my daughter’s school gathering images for their new prospectus. This one was a bit of fun, experimenting with shutter speed during a PE lesson.

gym lesson

365/58

365/57 is from 2014, taken in my garden as I started to flex my macro muscles for the forthcoming bug season. It always takes a while each year to get my macro ‘eye in’ after the winter when I tend to concentrate on the landscape.

midge macro

365/57

There may be a hiatus for a few days as I am off on an adventure. More anon.

Curlicue

Norfolk

Just before I started photographing the seals featured here a couple of days ago, I couldn’t resist capturing a few frames of the gentle dawn light.  As before, this is Horsey beach in Norfolk. A two-second exposure captured the shapes made by the surf.

I have been promising a post about shutter speeds and waves. It is still in the pipeline but it’s been busy week! This afternoon alone I have fielded three enquiries for images, all expecting me to provide them without charge in return for the ‘honour’ of attributing my picture to me. I know, the internet is full of photographers whinging about being asked to give images free. I do try to remain stoical, but I must admit it is a little irritating sometimes.

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On a lighter note, here are some more 365 images.  365/54 is from 2009.  I was walking with one of my greatest friends on Puttenham Common.  The light was very ordinary but I snapped a shot and had a go at improving it in editing. It was useful experience at least and, in accordance with my 365 redux pledge, I have re-edited before sharing it again now.  I chose it because it seems to be the only picture I have taken on 23rd February in any year since 2009 and because, coincidentally, I was out walking with the very same friend again on 23rd Feb this week.  One of the interesting and unexpected things about this project so far has been finding connections and coincidences across the years.

Surrey landscape

365/54

365/55 and 56 are from 2014.  55 is another watery local landscape during the flooding of winter 2014. 56 is Farncombe Boathouse on the River Wey Navigation near Godalming.

Surrey

365/55

Surrey landscape

365/66

Thank you, Light!

f11 workshops

Some of you may know that I am joint owner of a photography training business, f11 Workshops. Yesterday we ran one of our most popular tours, Piers and Wreck, on the West Sussex coast. We have been so lucky with the light on every iteration of this tour so far and yesterday was no exception. Of course, landscape photographers keep going no matter what the weather, but it is nice when things get this good.

f11 workshops

My business partner, Tony Antoniou, and I are clear that we will not make our own images when out with clients;  we just grab a few publicity snaps at the last location. We both know that photography is such an absorbing occupation that we would not be giving our customers our full attention if we were making our own images. Sometimes, when the light is this good, that’s a hard promise to keep! In the end though, having happy customers is the better reward.

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My 365/52 is from 2010, a close up of one of the butterflies in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley.

insect macro

365/52

365/53 is from last year. Just a snap really, on what appears to be a date when I take few photos: Walton viewed from the bridge to Desborough Island.

surrey landscape

365/53