We will remember them

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Strolling around with a camera, on the look-out for the next image to capture, I enjoy the challenge of attempting something different. These are often experimental ideas. The results commonly end up being deleted back home, but there is sometimes that single image that grabs my intention.

The image above was the result of panning during exposure (1/8sec, F10, ISO100). A quick  vertical movement. I shot about a dozen, this is the one I saved, the rest were rubbish. There was something right about this; the panning had a clean vertical movement, there were streaks of golden light, it felt ‘magical’ somehow. I’ve done very little in processing except adjust curves and levels, and use Topaz/Clean/Curly Smooth. Click to see an enlargement.

The second image (below) was a shot taken locally looking up into the bare canopy; searching for the right composition, the right array of branches. Back home it was an OK image, but there was nothing special about it, and even reducing it to a pure silhouette didn’t get my pulse going. So I did what I occasionally do to B&W images (my idea of computer doodling, best expressed as ‘I wonder what will happen if I try this’): I solarized it.

Solarization first came into prominence in the 1930s with the work of Man Ray. In those days it was the result of briefly flashing the darkroom light on while developing a print. It reversed some tones, and created lines (the Mackie line) between areas of high contrast. The results were very unpredictable. In my experience, I experimented with this process using inter-negatives in the film era.

In the digital era, all you have to do is ‘click’ Solarize (if using Photoshop you will find this in Filter/Stylize/Solarize). The result will initially disappoint but the next step is to adjust levels and you will have an image with rich blacks and bright whites. There is an alternative method. In Photoshop, open Curves, click on the Drawing icon to the left of the window, Shift-Click bottom left corner of the curve window, repeat Shift/Click middle top, and again bottom right corner. You will now have created an inverted ‘V’ shaped curve. Job done. Voila, as the French would say.

And that is it. Simple to execute and occasionally you get an image that inspires. It’s the Mackie line that makes this print – as if hoar-frost has picked out every line of the tree and its branches. A complete transformation. Try it sometime.

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Another image in this series on leaf fall and the arrangements created by nature and the elements. We tend to look for, and be attracted to, leaves that have an individual beauty, created by shape, form and colour: Oak and Maple spring immediately to mind. But to confine one’s observation to those undeniably attractive leaves is to exclude the subtle shapes of Willows that, when blown by the wind, cluster together creating shapes that remind me of  hieroglyphs.

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Waiting to Fall

An array of leaves, low enough to allow the shot to include the parkland at Petworth. A place that is well worth a visit in Autumn.


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This is the second in this series of leaves that fell to earth. It’s a project that slows me down; time spent scanning the ground for potential compositions. Finding one, and then a little careful weeding – removing detritus, foreign objects, ugly stems, careful not to disturb the critical elements; simplifying the composition, but no re-arranging, and no additions (tempting at times). Click here to see the first in this series if you missed it.

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The leaves are falling. In the heat of summer (here in the UK) there was talk that Autumn would be very early and could be over by the end of September. Ha! Wrong! Despite the heat and the lack of rain, Autumn seems to be on a very typical schedule, it turns out.

The leaves are falling – actually that is a rather bland description of what happens. Leaves don’t fall: they tumble, they pirouette, they somersault, they twist and turn, they float, they fly, they are blown. Eventually, gravity wins, and they land: sometimes for good, but quite commonly only to be moved again by the wind. Ultimately they are grounded and they occupy a space relative to other leaves; not necessarily leaves from the same tree, or even the same genus. They are just THERE. By chance. They become part of the leaf litter. And this year’s project, for me, is to examine the leaf litter and find nature’s compositions. And so, natives of my neighbourhood will find me examining the ground, identifying a clutch of leaves and removing intrusive elements to reveal a composition. That composition is always about subtraction, not about re-arrangement or addition of elements. It is a process of ‘reveal’.

How this will develop, and how far I will get with it – heaven knows! It’s time-consuming and subject to the vagaries of the weather, but here is a starter for today, found a couple of days ago. Others will follow, I hope.


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I’ve never owned a Harley Davidson and I’m never likely to, but that doesn’t stop me getting excited by the sight of one, or the sound of one.

A couple of weeks ago we had an event in town called ‘AmeriCARna’. The town centre, for a day, was home to an astonishing collection of vintage American cars from the fifties, sixties and seventies. An era of extravagant styling when cars had fins and bling. There were also Corvettes and Mustangs and Hot Rods, and…. a large number of Harleys and other Bikes.

It was a great day and a lot of images were taken. An opportunity to get up close to the heart of a Harley – something I have wanted to do for a long time. What a stunning sight. It’s an engine, but so much more than just an engine – it’s a work of art. Beautiful.


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