It’s #Steller!

Not a typo. Just referencing a new iPad App I’ve been introduced to. It’s a free storytelling app which lets you create photo and video stories with an emphasis on design. Simple to use, intuitive and great fun – almost addictive lay so!

In the first week since discovering Steller I’ve pulled together six of my own stories, one of which was shot and conceived specifically for the app.  It is a great way to harness my photography, iphoneography and experimenting with the iPad as a post processing tool.

© Dave Whenham

Six #Stellerstories in a week

Find me at https://steller.co/s/5WpD7faGRcs

Textured amusement

I’ve been trying out a new way to light floral studies today using an A3 light panel and three off camera flashes.  I’m away for a few days now so processing the images will need to wait but I was keen to have a quick look so downloaded a handful to the iPad.

 

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Simplicity is the aim on ths shoot

 
I was pleased with the outcome from this experiment (see above) and am looking forward to processing and printing the images next week. In the meantime I had a bit of fun on the iPad using a couple of Apps that have become my go-to apps for processing on the go. Snapseed is used for basic processing and then for some images I open the image in DistressedFX to apply a texture as I did in the case of these floral images.

 © Dave Whenham  
© Dave Whenham  © Dave Whenham 
This provided me with some amusement this afternoon, making for a pleasing half hour diversion from my domestic chores. I hope you enjoy them too.

Musing on a Sunday Morning

What is it about Sunday mornings that brings out the muser (is that a word?) in so many of us?  I don’t propose trying to answer said musing but I’m grateful to it as, in the way of such things, it has led me to consider how to harness the recent learnings (iPad processing etcetera) and use them in my photography going forward.

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Amaryllis – outwardly well past its best but to the creatively-wielded macro lens still a visual delight.

 
I’m not sure who said it first, if I did I could credit them, but I like the mantra “don’t focus on being the best, just focus on being better than last week”.  I can relate to that and thinking back it was something I unconsciously adopted throughout my working life.  Being the best brings with it unnecessary pressures and to my mind the more modest objective of being the best that you can be, step by step and without undue pressure, seems a far more desirable state of being.
 
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Shooting into the sun (Nikon D750 with plastic Lensbaby lens)

 

As I’ve sat here musing a thought has started to percolate through my aged grey cells. A project. I know from my own experiences and from that of other people that a photographic project can give some impetus and direction to some really creative and rewarding work. I also know that it can become a millstone around the photographer’s neck.  So it’s important to choose the right project at the right time and not to set totally unrealistic targets. That way lies madness and despair (although that may be slightly over-dramatic).

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Lensbaby

So, taking a leaf out of my friend Janet’s blog, I’m going to ponder over the next few days before committing to anything, at least in these pages. A public commitment can work wonders for personal photographic projects I know but it can also put a lot of pressure on the photographer so pragmatically I’m going to let it gestate for a few days.  Now, I know that it is very possible that  apart from myself no-one reads these ramblings – but it pays to be optimistically cautious to avoid public shame and humiliation when a project doesn’t get off the ground 🙂

Thank Friday …

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Ted can be relied upon for an interesting facial expression! Nikon D750 with SB800, processed in Lightroom Mobile on iPad

The time spent apart seems to have done my cameras and I some good. I spend a lot of my time child-minding my youngest grandsons who provide lots of opportunities if I have the time and inclination to take them. These opportunities have also gone begging in the last four months until this week. I had so much fun on Hackpen Hill that the cameras and speedlight both found a home next to my chair throughout the week.  I’ve never taken so many pleasing photos of the boys in a single week before and coupled with a new found interest in processing on the iPad this has meant a continual flow of images for my daughters and wider family to enjoy.

© Dave Whenham

Zac and his new glasses. Usually camera-shy but unexpectedly cooperative this week.

Frustrated with many of the Apps that purport to offer “amazing” and “stunning” black & white conversions but in the final analysis leave a lot to be desired I turned to Lightroom Mobile which is part of my Adobe Creative Cloud package. What a difference! I’m still doing all the basics in Snapseed (it works well, I’ve established a good workflow and unless I want mono it does everything I need) but for the black & white conversions I have been delighted with the Lightroom option. Both the images above were converted with the Creamtone preset as a starting point and its great to have my favourite preset available on the move.

 

© Dave Whenham

It’s not just the cameras that have had use this week – iPhone, processed with Snapseed on iPad

 
As well as the DSLRs I’ve also rediscovered the simple pleasures of using my mobile phone for photography. I reverted back to an iPhone a month ago and the photographic experience with my new toy is immeasurably superior to the previous two smartphones I’d tried in an attempt to break the Apple-centric hold on my technological life. Used sensibly and applying the same principles as I do with my “proper” photography has yielded some excellent results. And there’s the nub of using a phone as a camera I think; it’s far too easy just to wave it about and press the onscreen button whereas slowing down, holding it steadily and gently tapping the shutter release all combine to improve the quality of the image. Slowing down and considering the scene before whipping the phone out also leads to more pleasing compositions. Most of us wouldn’t use our digital or film cameras in such a way so why do we think it’s OK to do it with a smartphone I wonder? 

 

© Dave Whenham

Getting down low with a wide angle lens for a truly immersive image. Nikon D800E processed in Snapseed

 
 
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Nikon D750, processed in Snapseed

 
Why title this piece “Thank Friday”? I’ve no idea but I am thankful I’ve made it to Friday once again so here’s to many more Friday’s.

Time Passages

Sometimes you have to accept that just because you love an image it doesn’t follow that everyone else will do so too.

 I stood at the roadside before the light was up and froze one November morning in 2015 in order to take (make?) this photograph. You could say I invested in its conception. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much? It was probably the only image from that morning that I kept.

When I saw it emerge from the RAW file on my large computer monitor I was instantly drawn to the way the streaks of the clouds and the shapes in the water suggest movement, the passage of time. Part of my life wandered by whilst stood on the roadside and this image has captured that fleeting moment. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much?

As I looked at it, the words of a favourite song came unbidden into my head. Time Passages. This image links to not just my visual senses then but my aural too. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much?

I guess the viewer has none of these emotional cues. I guess that I will just have to accept that just because I love this image it doesn’t follow that everyone else will do so too. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much?

“Well I’m not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don’t last
Well it’s just now and then my line gets cast into these
Time passages”

Time Passages by Al Stewart

A Wiltshire Afternoon

As you’ll have gathered from the last two posts I spent a few hours recently in the vicinity of Hackpen Hill and Uffcott in my home county of Wiltshire. All of the images in my last two posts were processed sat in the car on the Ridgeway using Snapped on my iPad. I’m home now though and a few hours to spare this afternoon for some processing on the Mac.

© Dave Whenham

Trees lining a field boundary near Uffcott, Wiltshire. Nikon D800E, processed in Photoshop CC and Silver Efex Pro

All of the images here are destined to be used in monthly folios with the Postal Photographic Club of which I am a member.  As such they are unlikely to be seen as a set anywhere other than here. I still however processed them in such a way that they have a unified aesthetic. I often think of my photography in terms of different “bodies” of work (without meaning to sound pretentious) rather than a collection of individual images.  For me there is something very powerful about a set of images that work together, an approach no doubt influenced by my days studying with the Open College of the Arts.

© Dave Whenham

Abandoned roller and trees, near Uffcott. Nikon D800E, processed in Photoshop CC and Silver Efex Pro

Degree-level study was however far from my mind last Saturday afternoon. I was simply enjoying the pleasures of being outside with a camera in my hand. I kept it simple; no tripod or filters and just two lenses, one a telephoto the other a wide-angle lens.  I do think it is important to remember that photography, for me at least, should be something I enjoy doing. Even though I have studied and researched the subject extensively, even though I have worked hard to practice and hone my technical skills and even though I have spent many days on workshops and training courses I still remember not to take it all too seriously.

© Dave Whenham

Tumuli, Hackpen Hill. Nikon D800E, processed in Photoshop CC and Silver Efex Pro

Don’t get me wrong. I am competitive (very competitive one of my line managers once said) and I have enjoyed the successes I’ve had in my club competitions over the last five years. Winning though is not the ultimate goal – creating images that fulfil my vision and that I find aesthetically pleasing is the objective. If other people, or indeed if judges on the club circuit, enjoy my efforts than that is a bonus for sure.

© Dave Whenham

Hackpen White Horse. Nikon D800E, processed in Photoshop CC and Silver Efex Pro

So, the images here, processed similarly, are presented chronologically. I can retrace the drive from Uffcott up the hill to the top of Hackpen Hill from these photographs. Which is what I was unconsciously doing even as I wandered on Saturday. Unconscious competency I think some theorists term this. I prefer to think of it as “consciously aware of unconscious competence” as I know exactly what I’m doing even if I don’t have to think about it.  The same can be said of using the camera, I have used it extensively such that even after four months of not using the camera I was able to pick it up and carry on where I left off last time. This ability to deal with the technicalities without conscious thought leaves the mind free to make choices and consider composition rather than fret about which button or menu item is required to achieve those objectives.

© Dave Whenham

Nearing the tumuli, Hackpen Hill. Nikon D800E processed with Photoshop CC and Silver Efex Pro.

© Dave Whenham

Tumuli, Hackpen Hill. Nikon D800E, processed with Photoshop CC and Silver Efex Pro

Looking back over these images this afternoon I’m pretty pleased with what I achieved with the minimum of kit and the maximum of application. Are these masterpieces? Of course not. But do they satisfy my original creative and aesthetic objectives? Absolutely. And that is what photography is all about in my eyes.

© Dave Whenham

Inside the tumuli looking out on Hackpen Hill, The Ridgeway, Wiltshire.

 

Hackpen Hill

A few more images from Hackpen Hill yesterday.  All Nikon D800E and all processed with Snapseed on an iPad.
   

 

  

A square crop. I love the 1:1 ratio and often compose an image with such a crop in mind.