Sunday, 31 March 2019

melancholy

daffodil

After the mood enhancing ride yesterday, today was a come down. I awoke in a low mood not helped by the sound of rain against the window, checking the phone and seeing a text from Matt saying he couldn't make it today. I think the clocks going forward and robbing me of an hours sleep didn't help.

So what to do? Go back to bed, or go out? In the end I did both; an hour later I was out on the bike.

Cycling normally improves my mood, but not this time. Lots of family stuff going on and it was colder and windier than Saturday, finally I was cycling alone. I went through the motions and returned home.

I saw the daffodil alone and growing away for the path, where you wouldn't expect it.

I thought it summed up my mood.

Looking at it again, I guess you could put a positive spin on it. The daffodil grew and made the best of it's situation. I don't know if it was made stronger by the experience, or if it can be used as inspiration, being a flower. But I feel a little better for the thought.



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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Signs of spring

bikes leant against a gate CCTV

Just back from a cycle and it was great. Warm, sunny and very pleasant. I could say the normal signs of spring were everywhere, daffodils etc. But for me there are other harbingers.

The legs come out, after a long search for the shorts.

bikes leant against a gate CCTV shorts

Don't worry this post won't get geeky; my camera doesn't need such a high ISO.

ISO for film was used to show how much light a particular film needed. The higher the number the less light it needed. The trade-off was the picture became grainy at higher ISO's. Digital camera sensors don't work in the same way though. The ISO rating was retained to give an indication and allow some comparison of how a camera deals with light. The higher the ISO the more amplification the camera applies to the picture. This can result in noise and a lose in quality.

We see a lot more lycra wearers, abandoning their turbo trainers for a bit of fresh air.

And finally it's time to cut the grass. If I do it regularly it doesn't take too long. The rest of the gardening is less of a priority; the garden tends to have to look after itself. Survival of the fittest.

larn mower


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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Blue sky and fly tipping

blue sky over a field bikes

We got out on the bikes both days this weekend. Yesterday was nearly aborted. Light rain that stopped quickly enough so as to not dissuade us. I even contemplated shorts, it was that warm. I'm glad we stayed with it. A pleasant ride to the bus stop, tea and biscuits.

On the way back after parting company with Matt I took a detour to Oxted. It meant a descent and climb of a twenty percent hill. It's time to start challenging myself in preparation for the Waller Lane hill climb. I'm hoping to beat my time from last year.

This morning was bright and clear, but no chance of wearing shorts. Way too cold.

We followed the same route and headed for the same destination as yesterday. This time however the road was almost completely blocked by a big pile of garden rubbish. It's becoming more common, especially on this road. Are we really getting to the point that CCTV needs to be everywhere? The penalties have to be increased, and the people whose rubbish it is should be punished. It's their responsibility to ensure their waste is disposed of properly.

rubbish dumped blocking the road


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Friday, 22 March 2019

Know your rights

I read blog about a new development in New York that is encourging visitors, you could say it is a huge art installation.
The comments quickly filled with "experts" saying what they are doing is illegal. I'm no expert, so this is my opinion.

It is private property, so access is granted with conditions.

It all seems reasonable to me, if you don't like to rules, don't visit. What isn't clear is how prominently they are dispalyed as you walk through the door. Which I think is more of concern. But everyone seems focused on how pictures might be used, not if people could reasonably be expect to know what they were agreeing to.

Other venues have similar restrictions, concert and theatre venues ban photography.

The "experts" also say you have to sign a contract for it to be binding, I don't think that is true. You don't sign contrats for software you install, or for tickets you buy. Just because no-one reads T&C's doesn't mean they can be ignored.

I am sure there are plenty of instances where proceeding with an action infers acceptance of T&C's.

The T&C's that visitors agree to by entering the building don't say you lose ownership of your pictures. Or that if you are seen taking pictures the company can ask you to delete them or take the memory card. They have been changed, here is a link to the original agreement.

I suspect that the commentors haven't followed the link. Even the writer doesn't appear to understood what was written. Neither version seized ownership.

It says you agree to allow the building owners to retweet, or reshare your social media posts. I guess the actual wording doesn't make such an attention grabbing headline.

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Saturday, 16 March 2019

A violin and Brighton

 brighton model violin and the pier


A model contacted me about organising a shoot. She mentioned playing the violin which I thought would add some extra interest. Yesterday I travelled to Brighton, I wasn't sure the shoot would go ahead, I checked with Helen and she was still keen. The walk from the station to the beach was concerning, the wind was getting stronger the nearer to the sea we got. I thought the waves, wind and backdrop would make for drama. It made it almost impossible to shoot. Helen was only about fifteen feet but she couldn't hear me. She kept her coat on while I checked camera settings and adjusted the pose. Then coat off, take a few shots and coat on. It was so windy keeping the camera steady was difficult, standing in big heels can't have been easy. But all she was concerned about was getting a great picture.

brighton violin and the pier heels

We moved to a short jetty structure, it was about fifty feet long. And only accessible by walking across the stoney beach, but as soon as the camera came out people felt compelled to walk it. It seemed weird to us.

red coat pier in the background

We didn't stay long, time for plan b.

Hot drinks were needed, we found this beautifully lit dinner. Big windows facing the beach and down one side gave very soft light.

tea in a dinner

The violin came out again, the black of Helen's outfit and red of the phonebox were a good contrast.

red phonebox violin black outfit

Then to compete the shoot some lifestyle shots taken as we walked back to the station.

red coat lifestyle railings

red coat lifestyle flint alley

It goes to show what can be achieved out what at first seems like a lost cause.

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Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Collaboration

headshot makeup

At the end of last year I contacted a model I had worked with a few times. I knew she had contacts in the design and fashion world that may enable me put together a bigger collaboration. It is part of my goal this year to push my photography, and set challenges.

The project was on hold until Marilyn finished at London Fashion Week. It was a good opportunity for her to talk to people about it. When she told me there was a makeup artist also interested I was very excited, tempered with a little trepidation.

I started setting up the lights and a white backdrop, Marilyn arrived and said, "that won't work with the clothes". As we started to look at them I could see what she meant. There was gold, orange and pink; really bold and shiney. A short pause then while we evaluated all of the choices. Bright orange was tricky to light evenly but I am so glad we used it.


The initial makeup took longer than I expected to be applied, but it had to be right, and it did allow time for the studio to warm up. I rarely work in a warm studio, this one was big, with a high ceiling so not easy to heat. But much smaller ones are also generally cold. Ok for me, I can keep a jumper on, but it's not the same for the model. It was okay towards the end, I'm not sure what else they could do. Maybe a space heater like those in garages etc. But they are noisy.

Once we started it became obvious how much harder this was going to be then my previous shoots. The extra pressure of delivering on a promise to a client was at the back of my mind. I leant on Marilyn more than a photographer might normally do, or at least that's the way it felt. I have watched commercial shoots on youtube, the model doesn't seem to have much input. As I become more confident I'll need to take charge. Although I hope I can still make the process a team effort.


We had an hour at the end of the shoot to look at the pictures on the computer. But time didn't allow us to decide a final number to edit. There were too many to choose from. We'll work online to put together a complete set.

It is said you need to take lots of pictures to improve I don't think that's the best advice unless each shoot pushes you to try something new. Be that equipment, style or location. I see a lot of portfolios where all the pictures are very similar. The photographer has one idea and sticks with it. Often shooting the same model again and again. For me at least, I would soon get bored.

I have attended workshops, but they didn't deliver for me. I have improved because I have challenged myself with each shoot. Working with good models is also the part of the journey. This shoot for instance, I learnt so much. Not just about lighting, the choice of backdrop etc. The clothes designer wasn't at the shoot, but Marilyn involved her. Sending short videos and back of camera shots. I hadn't thought of doing that.  But now I realise how brilliant an idea it was.


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Monday, 11 March 2019

dockland HSS

The first photoshoot of 2019.


Ria docklands red jumper

I had intended to use my 300mm lens after doing some testing with it at the beginning of January.

I had only used it for motosport. The results from a previous portrait shoot where I had used the 80-200 were good. Now that I had more space I could see what the longer lens could do.

It is also satisfying to be able to collaborate with people, they see my work and want to be part of the shoot.

The location was docklands, near the ExCel exhibition centre. The cranes could have been a frame for the shots, it shouldn't have been too busy and the Royal Victoria bridge was also interesting.

In the end the weather meant no time to experiment so we went for the safe shots. And there were a lot of people. A dance conference was in full swing, with many dancers having their picture taken. We didn't want to get on their way.

I was assisted by Xavier. I think he took away some insight and thoughts for his photography. I did need the flash to be off camera but I was standing a long way from Ria. He came in handy as a moving light stand.

I intended to use the 85mm first to help establish a connection with Ria. The long lens requires a considerable distance between subject and camera which can hamper this.

The strong cold wind would have made using the long lens difficult; even on a monopod I wouldn't have been able to keep it steady. I stayed with the 85mm. Xavier had the flash, moving around to keep Ria perfectly lit.

Ria docklands red jumper sitting on a crane

Ria docklands red jumper


I used what is called high speed sync to keep the sky from being overexposed. It was very bright, needing 5000th of a second at f2. Without the burst of flashes that HSS produces the maximum shutter speed I could have used was 200th second.

Ria docklands coat
It was cold so Ria grabbed her coat whenever she could


As you can see; even at 1000th of a second the sky was very overexposed.

dock sculpture over exposed sky

Getting the sky right would have meant a silhouette for the sculpture. When I introduced flash and went up to 5000th of a second the sky was better.

dock sculpture High speed sync

The speedlight needed to be closer and more powerful to really light it properly. It's better to bring up the shadow during processing; there was little I could do to improve the sky in the first shot.


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Saturday, 9 March 2019

the first daffodils

daffodils bikes in the background

It was damp, windy and chilly this morning. But it was good to be out, Matt was puncture free. So we cycled to Tatsfield village the long way. More fly tipping was evident on Beadlestead Lane, it wasn't as bad as the burnt out van. People really need to take responsibility for how their rubbish is disposed of. Is the person you use taking it to a proper refuse centre? If they are cheaper than most it's probably because they just drive down a quiet lane and dump it.

It's likely the same for people who knock on your door and offer to clear your garden. What are they doing after they drive away?

The countryside isn't a dumping ground, we need to protect it. And punish those who abuse it. 


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Saturday, 2 March 2019

Uneven

uneven footway sign

The cycling blight that is a puncture has affected our cycling again. A short while ago on another foggy morning we used the cycle path, and I got a puncture. Last weekend Matt used it to cycle home, and this morning as he approached his bike; a puncture was evident. Fixing it would have meant a later start. It's not normally a problem, but he had plans that a late return from the ride was not compatible with. So I received an abort text. It arrived when I was in the garage unlocking the bike so I went out alone.

The cycle path along the Limpsfield Rd is very poorly maintained. Often when we use it a flat tyre is the outcome. It's a fast road and is used by morons. Even in bad weather they don't slow down and often pass too close. There is a lot of news about encouraging more people to ride a bike. And plenty of money is being spent on cycle lanes etc. But very little is being done to change driver behavior. Sentencing for injuring or killing cyclists is not consistent and lenient. I know most drivers don't intentionally go out to hit cyclist, but when they do the punishment should take into account the consequences. Drivers need to know it's not okay to be inattentive, to not give others a safe space. a close pass is a driver either not paying attention or them making a decision to put someone in danger. I read everyday about close passes; which is either driving without due care and attention or dangerous driving. And in most cases the police aren't interested. The videos are there for them to see the offence. But they just don't want to know. The Met police are one of a few that target this. Surrey police rarely do.  I have stopped reporting drivers to them, what's the point?

Cycling will always be seen as dangerous and few want to change that. I feel old when I say this, but it was better when I was a kid. Cyclist aren't blameless, When I was younger few jumped red lights or rode on the pavement. Fewer used the road for time trials, there was no strava in those days.

I headed for White Lane, a steep hill past Botley. But as I approached the roundabout leading to Titsey Hill and then White Lane there were signs that the road was closed. So I continued to Tatsfield village, and through it to the steep hills beyond. With no-one to talk to time passes quickly and the ride just becomes a way to stay fit and to burn off some of the frustration built up during the week. I look forward to it, but it's better when there is a sociable element to it.

I rarely stop when I'm on my own, I only pausing to take pictures. Flower Farm is the exception. If the weather isn't too bad I'll stop there for tea and cake.

The weather is unpredictable so I don't know if we'll be out tomorrow, I hope we will.

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