Cuckmere Haven at dusk

_ds86395The WordPress Reader may destroy the composition of this image – so if you are viewing it in the Reader and don’t see people (on the left) and cottages (on the right) as intended – and understandably think what a boring image –  please open the Post so you can view it properly.

Regular readers will remember a number of posts from Birling Gap, just a couple of miles East of this point. Click here to view the most recent. My son and I left Birling Gap late in the afternoon but were still determined to walk out to the sea at Cuckmere Haven as well. It was approaching dusk as we neared the gravel bar above the high water mark. The cottages, so often the foreground of images shot along the Seven Sisters cliffs, stood stark against the sky, and people – reduced to silhouettes – walked along the gravel bar.

We made it back to the car as darkness fell. Back home a decision about how to process the RAW file was a no-brainer. It was my kind of B&W – upping the contrast, paring down the frame to the essentials. Click on the image to see a far better enlargement.

Posted in Black & White | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Waveform

_ds86427There is something hypnotic about watching a wave approaching the shoreline knowing the inevitability that the wave will ‘break’; but that before that moment is reached it will gain a rolling crest. What intrigued me most as I watched the waves roll in alongside a small concrete jetty was the way that the surface of the sea was delineated by lines, both before and following the crest.

I could have stood there for many minutes just watching this perpetual motion, no two waves the same. Each one unpredictable, some curved, some sinuous. The break point variable.

Posted in WaterScapes | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Perfect Symmetry

_ds86480_finalSharp frosts and bright sunny days are days to be enjoyed and photographed. Especially when one is rewarded with an image like this.

How do trees achieve this level of symmetry? I spotted this example late in the afternoon on a visit to Sheffield Park. It wasn’t easy to get a clear view of this magnificent tree, and some work in processing was required to remove unwanted intrusions into the edge of the image, but the image you see, is exactly how this tree is in real life (including that marginal imperfection affecting the lowest branches on the right side of the tree).

Nature never ceases to amaze me, and the more I observe the countryside hereabouts, the more I know that trees will become a subject of greater interest.

Posted in Country Houses & Gardens, Landscapes | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Waiting for the light

_ds86362The weather between Christmas and New Year was uninspiring – grey and foggy – except for one day when the sun shone. Son and I headed for the South Coast to re-view Birling Gap.

The tide was going out and together, but mostly independently, we explored the beach, the rock pools, and the rock falls of chalk at the foot of the steep cliffs. It was a very leisurely hour or more, cameras in hand.

The time came to leave, there was less than an hour of daylight left, and we wanted to visit Cuckmere Haven as well. Walking back to the iron staircase up the cliffs I spotted a lone photographer standing in the shallows, camera on tripod, patiently waiting. For the light perhaps? For me, he was the picture; the light was warming up towards sunset, the sea was quiet and gleaming. Possibly the best picture of the afternoon.

When you leave, always take one last look behind you.

Posted in WaterScapes | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Avoiding the Cut

_ds86253_wpWP is cropping your images to fit a Refreshed Reader as many of you know, and annoying a lot of photographers in the process. Can you minimize the damage done to your compositions? Yes, you can. Read on…

I’ve spent a bit of time working out exactly what WordPress is up to, and how it is cropping images, and these are my findings:

Firstly, and particularly relevant to those of you who post images with little or no text. If the character count of your text (presumably including spaces) is 100 or less, or zero, then your image will appear as a thin letterbox shaped (banner) image across the Reader window. This crop will be through the centre of your image.

For all those who write more than 100 characters the following points are relevant.

Portrait mode images (taller than wider) will be cropped through the middle of the image to result in a 2:1 ratio landscape-shaped image. In the process people may lose their heads and flowers will be cut off mid-bloom etc etc.

If your images are in landscape mode then the news is better. If your images are twice as wide as they are tall (eg 3000 pixels wide  by 1500 pixels high) then it seems that they will be fully displayed. If your landscape images are slightly squarer (images from my Nikon are in the ration 3:2 (eg 3000 pixels wide by 2000 pixels high) then your image will be trimmed top and bottom to a 2:1 ratio. Letter box images may be truncated but I have yet to confirm that.

Three lines of text are printed to the right of the image shown in Reader (assuming the character count is greater than 100). The third line of text starts to grey-out towards the end of the line, but the readable number of characters in those three lines is approx 200 (including spaces), Therefore it makes sense to maximise the use of this space. Avoid starting a new paragraph within those first 200 characters and choose your wording carefully to get readers wanting to read more. But, you should be aiming to do that anyway.

It’s worth taking a look at the Reader window to assess what is happening. I now ‘follow’ myself which means I can see exactly how my Posts are displaying.

So the message at the moment is: Post images in landscape mode, preferably  in a 2:1 ratio.

Meanwhile, there is a growing list of comments from photographers in response to the WP News item, complaining about the changes. Make your voice heard and let’s hope that we will be listened to, and  that common sense will prevail.

_ds86250Nearly forgot – two images today in 3:2 ratio, so I’m expecting them to be cropped a bit top and bottom. These are from my recent visit to London, both taken on Victoria Street.

Posted in A Personal Viewpoint, Architecture & Buildings | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Image Cropping – The WordPress way

A really bad photo - that the WordPress 'cropper' probably can't make look much worse

A really bad photo – that the WordPress ‘cropper’ probably can’t make look much worse

WordPress has made a decision – it doesn’t think much of your idea of photographic composition. The Reader now crops your image any old how. I quote: “Here’s the idea: the Reader stream is not the work itself, it’s an excerpt of the work. So, for text, we “crop” it and show just the first few lines. For photos, we do the same.’ Excuse me – a photo is a work in itself.

We take it, we process it, we may crop it to improve the composition, and the end result is how we want it to be seen. We don’t want some arbitrary computer at WordPress to take a pair of editing scissors to it and chop a bit of the image out and display that bit.

If you wonder what I am talking about, then open the WordPress Reader and see how images are being mangled in the last 2-3days. And here is the hilarious bit. The guy who penned the WordPress article ‘A refreshed Reader for 2017’, (click here to view) from which the quote above is taken is a photographer himself (Derek Powazek). Here’s what he writes in reply to a comment made about his article: “Wanna know a secret? I’m actually a photographer, too. (I even ran a photography magazine back in the day.)” Words fail me.

Here’s my own comment appended to Derek’s article:

‘Has WordPress decided that it doesn’t like bloggers who post images in their blogs, and specifically doesn’t like photographers for whom Images are the heart of their regular Posts? I ask that question because suddenly the Reader is cropping our images in a totally arbitrary fashion; in many instances completely ruining the composition and thereby often making it appear that our images appear as the work of novices with no artistic sense whatever. Would someone in WordPress management re-consider this frankly ridiculous decision please, or it is likely that many of us who are serious photographers, who wish our photography to be taken seriously, will decide to take our custom elsewhere.’

And in case you are wondering, I have deliberately posted a rubbish photo, because why bother to post anything meaningful. And yes, I do realise that Instagram generally crops images square (but the photographer has some control of which part of the image is displayed) and so does 500px, but there again the photographer has control over the part of the image that is displayed as a thumbnail square crop. WordPress just doesn’t care.

If you don’t like this wizard new idea, and don’t like the concept that an ‘excerpt’ of your photo is a good idea, then complain, Add a comment to Derek’s article. Make your voice heard. If this crazy way is not re-refreshed early in 2017, I for one will be leaving WordPress.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 36 Comments

A Neighbour’s Imprint

_ds86247_cropYesterday I was in London (in-between the strikes currently being inflicted on passengers travelling on Southern Rail by the Unions). I am still familiarising myself with the London terminus at which I now arrive – Victoria Station. A station whose immediate surroundings seem to have been a building site for years upon years. And each time I travel up to London I use a few spare minutes to walk the immediate area and shoot a few images.

Regular readers will know of my fascination with the way new buildings interact, due to the preponderance of glass as a cladding material. And here is one captured yesterday. A curved swathe of reflections from a neighbouring colossus.

It seems fitting to post this today because my reason for being in London yesterday was to see the current major art exhibition – Abstract Expressionism – at the Royal Academy. This huge exhibition has just over two more weeks left to run and is an embarrassment of riches featuring work by Gorky, Clyfford Still, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, de Kooning to name a few. The highlight for me were the vast canvases by Jackson Pollock especially Mural. Equally exciting was a minutely inscribed, calligraphic work by  Janet Sobel and a similar work by Lee Krasner (Pollock’s wife) who also painted a vast, poignant canvas The Eye is the First Circle in tribute to her deceased husband.

If you have the time and the energy, and London is within reach, then don’t miss this exhibition.

This exhibition, like others I recall, is an inspiration. I am reminded of a quote from Alain Briot, a well-known American photographer, writer and teacher: Creativity is an input-output, import-export business. You have to be in contact with other artists … in order to foster creativity’. So very true.

Posted in Architecture & Buildings | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments