Social Media

I haven’t been posting as regularly on the blog in recent months as I have in the past but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped making images or thinking for that matter. I have material for a couple of VLOGs, although I hesitate to call them that, they are more accurately termed as personal video diaries to my mind, ones that I don’t mind sharing. There’s a lot of very well executed VLOGs on YouTube at the moment with exceptionally high production values hence my hesitation. There’s even a newly formed Facebook group celebrating UK landscape videos/VLOGs on YouTube.

I have made a token effort to process the images from the last couple of months and a selection have appeared on my Instagram feed and on my Facebook account.  Not my Flickr account though. I seem to have completely fallen out of the habit of posting on Flickr, even though it’s the account I’ve had for the longest and is after all designed for photographers (allegedly, but that’s another story). The exception to this has been the 63-2017 series which are all in an Album on Flickr.

© Dave Whenham

Llyn Padarn

When I look back at what I’ve posted I will no doubt find that those I’ve processed so far are those that have instant appeal. The more thoughtful photographs will follow in due course and these will be the most fulfilling for me personally. As they are also those that are less likely to have that instant appeal they may not make it to Instagram at all. I find it amusing that I happily post anything that interests me to my blog, which is my more “grown-up” social media outlet yet hesitate to share the more “challenging” images to Instagram or even Facebook where the only people I interact with are people I know and in the main, are people I have met in the real world. It seems that my social media usage is falling into three buckets almost:

  • Instagram: Instant hit – an ego boost?
  • Facebook: sharing my best work primarily with my friends
  • Blog: sharing what I like, what I feel and think.

Arguably then, this blog is my more honest face on the social media merry go round.

Throughout 2017 I have been following the “365” exploits of Maxwell Law, a member of the same camera club as myself whom I interact with mainly via Facebook, email and very occasionally the telephone. This has inspired me to do the same in 2018 and I’ve already mentioned that I have joined the 2018-365 group on Flickr to which he belongs and I’m looking forward to that in the new year.  I really do carry a camera, and not just a mobile phone camera, everywhere but whilst I use it regularly I do not use it every day. It will be interesting to see what being a member of a 365 group does for my photography. Will it reenergise my photography, will it become a chore, will I end up photographing the garden in the dark to grab that days shot? Will I last the year? A month? The first week? They don’t call them a challenge for nothing and I am at least going into this with my eyes open. It’s possibly the most social thing I will have attempted in recent years and no doubt I will cogitate further on the subject as we count down to 2018 – I’ve already posted more than a few words on the subject here.

“Facebook for chat and interaction, Instagram for behind the scenes images., Twitter for thoughts and musings, Flickr for EXIF data and higher resolution images, your website and blog for more of an insight into you and your photography.”  From Landscape Photography on Location: Travel, Learn, Explore, Shoot by Thomas Heaton

Night time

Night time. Happens every day. But how many of us take to the night time streets unless we have to? And in the rain?

I do from time to time …

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© Dave Whenham

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All images: Fuji X100t handheld ISO 6400

63-2017 Week 3

So week three is complete and there are now 22 images in the Album, but only because I actually posted Monday’s image on Monday!

It’s been an interesting week all told and there are several images that would never have been made without the focus of the 63-2017 Challenge.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-16.  Morning Express. Fuji X-T20 Acros(R)

63-2017-16. This was pre-planned although the timing of the train was serendipitous. I had this image in mind a few days earlier and so was hoping that the light that morning would work as I had a hospital appointment at 7.45am and the hospital is literally next to this bridge. On the morning I got to the bridge at 7.20am and conditions were perfect. I took a couple of images and was pleased with the way the rails stood out. I experimented using the various Fuji Across simulations before settling on Acros(R). I had twenty minutes in which to shoot and got this at 7.37am, just three minutes before I needed to leave for my appointment. I was pleased with the shots without the train, they were what I’d been after, but was more than happy to take this opportunity.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-17. This was not planned as such but it was the result of a positive decision to find an image in the location. The road leads to a local garden centre and I’ve driven it many times. My go-to position in the garden centre is the cafe where I sit with a coffee or three and a good book whilst Senior Management shops. I have never bothered to step outside and see what photographic potential the location offered – until today.

A pleasing autumnal image and one that would never have come about without the 63-2017 Challenge as a focal point.  Looking back over seventeen days I was chuffed at how many images were there which would not have been created without the project to encourage me.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-18

63-2017-18. I took this sat on my settee.

Seriously.

One of the main concerns I had when I committed to the project was Thursdays. I have Ted every Thursday, all day, and at just three years old he can be a handful. The first week I took his photograph but I was conscious that I didn’t want every seventh image to be one of Ted.

On this Thursday morning I put a DSLR with telephoto lens on the settee and whenever I was in the room kept an eye on the hedge in the front yard for any birds that might be tempted by the various feeders in the bushes.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-19. The Schoolboy Error.

63-2017-19. I call this the “Schoolboy Error”.

I was collecting grandson from school and had noted the light on the fence and upper stories of the houses and liked the contrasts. My camera was, as always, in my pocket but when I took it out to take the photograph – no life in the battery!

Duh!

My phone had to suffice but I still got my shot. These sort of everyday, almost mundane, scenes are what make up most of our waking moments so I think they are worth preserving. The “wow!” scenery or architectural images,  reflect what is often a unique experience within this myriad of quieter moments. Whilst this won’t win any awards or plaudits it is every much a part of my photographic life as the Lone Tree on Llyn Padarn at sunrise.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-20.  It was the potential in the background that drew my eye, I took some images without the twig as a focal point too but chose this one as the twig gave context. Just proves you don’t need to wander too far for some interesting photography – these plants are growing against the front wall of the house!

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-21.

Guess where I spent Sunday … it wasn’t out taking pictures! Part of the 63-2017 series.

For more about this particular day, see the blog post on the RPS Great Yorkshire AV Day.

This was, literally, the only image I took that day but it was taken specifically for this project. I suspected my opportunities for photography would be limited and therefore popped my X100t in my pocket intending to grab a shot from the lecture room which is what I did.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-22.

63-2017-22. Elland Woods, pouring with rain but my seven-year old shower cap still keeping the lens and most of the camera body dry. I was drawn to the soft feel looking through the trees.  I really struggled to decide which of two images to post as todays entry into my 63-2017 series.  I’ve posted both to my Flickr portfolio and labelled the other image as 63-2017-22(A), the “A” standing for  for alternative.

Only this one gets to go in the 63-2017 Album though!

I get the impression from the 365-2018 Group page that they prefer images uploaded on the day they were taken so I’ve tried to do that over the past week. Most of these were therefore posted on the day with the exception of  #21 which went up on the following morning.

It’s all about the script

One of the reasons, probably THE reason, that audio-visual sequences (AV) appeal to me is that they are another way to display my images and make something creative that is centred around my interest in the still photograph. As I’ve documented elsewhere, I have started to get to grips with creating my own sequences this year and am finding it an interesting and enjoyable challenge.

One of the things I’ve already learnt this year is the importance of audio and good quality sound. Apparently our eyes are more forgiving than our ears when it comes down to it. Less than perfect image quality can still be tolerated if the underlying image is strong enough but when it comes right down to it, poor audio will have us reaching for the skip button faster than a dose of salts. I’m not going to offer the academic references, just trust me on this one.

So, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it in previous blog posts, the audio quality is just as important in AV, and video, as the quality of the photography. 50/50 perhaps? I could live with that.

But, it seems that I’ve only had two-thirds of the picture, that is up until this weekend. I attended the RPS Great Yorkshire AV Day which was a full day of AV sequences and conversation.

‘Twas a Grand Day Out too.

© Dave Whenham

The morning session consisted of AV sequences submitted by attendees which were shown with little or no pre-amble and then after each sequence there was the opportunity for up to five minutes feedback . It was, to be fair, very gentle and constructive feedback althoughI did note that some of the members who were better known to each other were a little more forthright in their views. Never nasty though and no one took offence so far as I could see. I enjoyed every sequence, even those that did not appeal quite so much to my tastes were instructive and over lunch I had the chance to exchange thoughts with those attendees who were at my table.

Throughout the morning an idea was starting to take shape in my mind regarding the importance of the script. Not just the narration, but every aspect of the sequence needs to be scripted. The second sequence we saw, A Year in the Life by Brian Rogers, followed a Northumberland farmer throughout one year, the hardest year for a generation, starting and ending in deep, deep snow. It used a stunning set of gritty black & white photographs, on-screen captions and music to really draw a compelling and poignant story. No narration, and we debated that at length, yet there was a clear story unfolding on the screen with a clear progression; a beginning , middle and end if you like. Chatting to Brian it was clear that he had a story in his head that he was following when he put the sequence together. I think we both realised at the same moment that whilst it was not written down it had a clear structure which was undoubtedly down to the script, even if it wasn’t a formal document, written down and tweaked, it was definitely driving the show.

Indeed all of the sequences demonstrated the importance of script. Some were very well-written, humorous tales which relied on a well-written narrative and an appropriate delivery.  Others were more documentary in approach and here the script was more apparent as the subject was introduced and there was a natural progression to the conclusion, or in some cases the “reveal”.

In my naivety I didn’t take a pen and paper, but I shall do next time. There were fifteen attendees sequences in the morning session ranging from gritty documentary to a fabulously witty parody entitled It’s Grim which as a southerner, probably the only one in the room, I thought was brilliant. With some stunning landscape images, some images chosen to reflect the narrative and a wonderfully written script delivered in a gentle northern accent it gently poked fun at northern stereotypes and had the audience in stitches.

Without that missing pen and paper I cannot really sketch out all fifteen sequences nor indeed credit the authors. Loves Grace stood out, not least for the diverse opinions expressed by the audience, but it gave me a germ of an idea for a style of AV I would like to attempt.  Another sequence we saw mixed still photographs and video, a somewhat contentious method still it appears, but received well by a very open minded audience. The subject was the River Tees and the use of video was cleverly confined to those sequences where we were witnessing the power of the water cascading over rocks or waterfalls. A clever idea which was spoilt slightly by rather shaky handheld footage. Had the author locked the camera on a tripod and given us the same quality of footage as the stills then it would’ve been a far better result I thought. I hope he reshoots those sequences as it was an interesting, well-produced AV which I found very engaging and was clearly the result of a lot of work and effort.

But, pervading everything for thIs novice AV-er was the power of the script. I was starting to re-evaluate my 50/50 photography/audio equation. Perhaps it’s actually 33/33/34, photography/audio/script?

Which brings us to the afternoon and the guest speaker, James Hamill ARPS from Northern Ireland. James showed us a fabulous selection of AVs interspersed by some explanations of why he made them and his approach to the genre. Anyone looking for a detailed how-to was at the wrong event as the afternoon was all about the whys, the motivation, the though processes and the emotions behind the sequences. It was all the better for the lack of technical detail I thought, not least because no group of photographers can ever agree on the “right” or “best” way to do anything.  What came across strongly was the notion of script, in fact James clearly had it in mind as he showed us a couple of his scripts and how they evolved and changed during the process.

The other big takeaway for a beginner such as myself was giving images room to “breath”. James achieved this in two ways. Firstly by giving each image more screen time than was typical in most of those we’d seen in the morning and by making the dissolves longer too. The other was to allow decent gaps between the narration so that the images that bridged each part of the narrative could be appreciated for their own sakes and not simply as illustrations for the spoken words.  There were no flashy AV tricks on show, James allowed the sequence to tell its own story without technical pyrotechnics.

So what did the whole day do to my 50/50 model? Well, the 33/33/34 model also doesn’t seem appropriate in the cold light of reflection. If you consider that audio covers music, ambient sound, sound effects, quality of recording and the quality of the narration too it is clearly a big part of an AV sequence. The script too, my newest variable in the AV equation, has a huge impact on the way the sequence flows and builds the story. Where it is used, the narration, as in the words rather than the delivery of those words, is a big part of the script too. If you add into the script the concept or idea behind the sequence then I’m starting to think that photography is the smallest component. Important, yes, as poor or inappropriate imagery won’t move the story along, but not as I originally thought equal to half of the equation.

My conclusion? Well, call it a working hypothesis, as I’m too much of a novice to be sure but it seems to me that, taking everything above into account it’s probably nearer to 20/40/40 – photography/audio/script (perhaps I should shorten that to PAS2/4/4).

But what about the idea or inspiration? Or even what is in fashion or out in the AV world? Perhaps the equation for a successful sequence (SAV) is even more complex:

SAV = ((0.2P + 0.4A + 0.4S) x I)/F *

Whatever.  I don’t think it matters what the equation is, or indeed if there is one, what is important is that I have a lot of new skills to learn and plenty of existing skills that I need to improve upon. It was also a very enjoyable day out with some like-minded folk.

* my past life as an analyst creeping in, sorry, I shall try to keep it in check!

Newborough beach from the air

Newborough beach, Anglesey. Sadly tide times and the fact I only had the morning available meant that I didn’t make it to the island.

© Dave Whenham

Yes, I erased myself and Richard from the beach :0

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Sunrise was not spectacular but still worth seeing

© Dave Whenham

Just as the sun popped its head up

© Dave Whenham

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© Dave Whenham

Sadly I didn’t make it on to the island

© Dave Whenham

A final sweep of the beach into a now-risen sun

A few drone images from Llyn Padarn

Just because … no special reason 🙂

By the way, if you Google (other search engines are available)  “lone tree llyn padarn” you will be told via Google Maps that it is an historical monument – fancy that! It’s been shot to death over the years so I figured a few more from a slightly different angle wouldn’t hurt it.

© Dave Whenham

Was pleased with how well this contre-jour shot turned out

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The much-photographed lone tree

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You’d have to jump pretty high for this angle

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Lone tree complete with photographer in position (mono at foot of page)

© Dave Whenham

Looking up the length of the lake

© Dave Whenham

A large crop but still holds up well

© Dave Whenham

A mono to finish

63-2017

I’m now 15 days into the 63-2017 project and have created a Flickr album to house the growing collection of images in the 63-2017 series at https://flic.kr/s/aHskr3ELaY

With a lot of domestic and club responsibilities this week I can honestly say that without the focus of the picture-a-day challenge the cameras may well have stayed in the bag this week. Instead, I have awoken each day with the thought in my head that I need to find my image. I am determined not to snap the garden at 11pm or grab a quick shot of baby eating tea just to fulfil the brief. It’s very satisfying therefore to note that most of this weeks images were pre-planned to a greater or lesser extent.

63-2017-9 is a case in point. I had this in mind from the start of the day and kept a close eye on the light as tea time drew near knowing I wanted a little bit of the blue hour to complement the orangey tinges to the night time streets.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-9

63-2017-10 was the result of checking the weather apps the night before. It is shot from 190 feet above Marsden Moor as the sun rises and was a pre-planned image which saw me setting the alarm for an early start to drive to the moors. I was not expecting any frost based on the forecast but there was just a hint of the white stuff which reflected the first rays of the day. With the temperature down to 1°C and a bit of a breeze I soon lost all feeling in my ungloved fingers. Once the drone got above 200 feet (ie more than 1500 feet above sea-level at this location) the wind turbulence was too high for successful photography so with real pain in my finger tips I was probably grateful to bring the drone home and land it just a couple of feet from the car.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-10 (re-edited from original)

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-11

63-2017-11 – the River Calder from Elland Bridge is a favourite spot for images that I have visited countless times over the years. It involves a short but steep ascent of Got Hill one of the oldest streets in the town which is mostly cobbled and therefore lethal on wet autumn days with decaying leaves added to the mix.

I had originally intended taking a shot over the weir looking in the opposite direction but in the event decided to leave that shot for another day and to make a mental note to take a small tripod and neutral density filter with me to slow the shutter speed down. I also decided on the square composition to use so that is another 63-2017 image opportunity stored away for the right conditions. Despite having shot in these locations many many times in recent years it’s amazing what opportunities are still available with some thought.

63-2017-12  “A Warm Reception?”  The windows were glowing warmly but the heavy front door was firmly shut and the sign says visitors must have a prior appointment. Number 12 in my 63/2017 series is one where I simply went for a wander to see what I could see and is the first in this series where the title came first and the image was made second. It’s a simple image but perhaps it tells us something about our society whereby a reception can look both warm and yet uninviting at the same time. I won’t ponder too much in case it gets pretentious!

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-12

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-13

63-2017-13  This is quite simply an homage to one of my favourite photographers although when he was here in 1937 he was shooting the scene in B&W. I’ve written about this part of Halifax dozens of times over the years and it was inevitable that I’d be drawn to create another image for the 63-2017 project. I have a different composition in mind that calls for some snow so we will see if 365-2018 provides the opportunity.

63-2017-14 was something I’d had in the back of my mind for a while. Amanda and I always observe the two-minutes silence on the 11th November and also on Remembrance Sunday when the two do not coincide. We also stand to watch the parade pass our front door on their way to the war memorial for the laying of wreathes and poppies before marching back to the church for the Sunday service. I have often wanted to create a photograph from the event but wanted something other than the usual images with poppies or veterans with rows of medals gleaming in the autumn sun.  Inspiration came when I saw Amanda looking out of the bedroom window as they marched past on their way to the memorial and thus when they returned I was at said window watching and hoping that I would get a large enough gap in the procession to highlight some long shadows. This was the result and hopefully it is a poignant image especially on Remembrance Sunday and particularly when linked to its title of “The past casts long shadows”.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-14 “The past casts long shadows”

63-2017-15 So to number 15 in the series, todays image as I type this. I set off this morning with an image in mind but this was not it. A slight misunderstanding over timings meant I was not able to get to my chosen location after dropping my wife at work so I decided to make the best of the situation and shoot at the planned time but in a totally different location.

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The biggest part of the challenge for me is not necessarily to take an image a day, although that will be tough I suspect,  but to find something new to photograph every day when I am unavoidably confined to the house and therefore my shooting opportunities of necessity will be restricted to Elland.  There are a few indoor projects on the cards for the winter months and on those days it will be easier but I don’t want to post an image of a water splash for seven consecutive days now do I?

I enter the third week of the 63-2017 Challenge in a good frame of mind and already have tomorrows image in the back of my mind. It won’t be long though until 365-2018 starts and I suspect that will be an even bigger challenge – or opportunity if you prefer.