63-2017 Week 5

Over half way!

63-2017-32Golden Selfie. I think this is both the first selfie I’ve used in the challenge and also the first time I’ve thought to use the selfie option.

© Dave Whenham

These leaves are alongside the busy Elland-Riorges link road that leads in and out of Elland.  We have had a rather hectic round of hospitals, doctors and ill health this week. Daughter with meningitis requiring a few days in hospital, wife with viral labyrinthitis and a chest infection for me together with my routine blood tests which have coincided to leave little “quality” time for photography. I thought I’d fail this week but touch wood I’ve kept at it and still managed to make a picture a day without resorting to photographing my evening cocoa!

63-2017-33.  I couldn’t resist calling this Potty! It was only after I’d published the image to the Flickr album that I noticed the out of focus telegraph wires but I was committed by then so left it as it is. I was attracted by the warm light  on the chimney pots and brickwork as well as the shadows caused by other chimney pots on the terrace.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-34. Saturday was spent mainly in the car, a round trip of over 400 miles to deliver Christmas presents to relatives in the South. I had a camera in the boot of the car but was seriously concerned about the opportunities, especially as I felt pretty crappy and was definitely not up to wandering about looking for an opportunity. I needn’t have worried though, 45 miles from home and the M6 ground to a halt. Time to stretch my legs in the outside lane without fear of being mown down and an opportunity to try and capture how it all felt in a single frame.

© Dave Whenham

63-2017-34 Road to Nowhere

63-2017-35 If the forecasters are to be believed colder and wetter weather is on its way. I saw this leaf lingering on the doorstep and thought it would be a good test of the close-shooting capabilities of the X100t. Autumn Lingers but for how long?

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-36 Aside from trips to doctors and hospitals and that rather lengthy day trip down South our opportunities for getting out and about, with or without a camera, have been very limited this week. I saw this silver shape streaking across the bright blue sky and really wished that we were up, up and away to somewhere warmer and sunnier. Not something I’m prone to wish for so as it was an unusual event it needed commemorating in the 63-2017 project.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-37 and so we come to today’s image which sees me pushing the ISO to 6400.  I’m always looking to push the little X100t to see what I can get from it.  The camera was steadied against a fence post for the 1/4 sec exposure. I have not applied any noise reduction to this upload but it could probably do with some being applied. An acceptable result although a better choice would have been to put camera on tripod and lower the ISO.

© Dave Whenham

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Only six in this update because I snuck a couple of extra ones in last weeks review.  It has been a challenging week and is making me think about how I can perhaps plan for future occasions when ill health will confine me to the house or otherwise curtail my opportunities.  I am hopeful that my daughter will have moved all her belongings out of the spare room by Christmas which will give me the space to set my water drop kit up again but I cannot expect to keep it set up all year and I certainly don’t want to fall back on the same thing every time I struggle to get out properly with the camera.

Thinking Cap is on!

63-2017 Week 4

The first little wobble this week in my “sixty-three images, one-a-day in what’s left of 2017” project, also known as the warm up for the picture-a-day challenge in 2018. There is one image here that I am simply very unhappy about, it doesn’t meet my own perceptions of image quality and because it was the best of four poor images, the only ones I actually took that day, it had to entered for the 63-2017. More of that later. On the whole though I am pleased to say I have stayed on track and also pleased to say I haven’t resorted to a phone snap or a last minute random shot of my supper!

63-2017-23 The first of two night-time images from Dean Clough in Halifax, a pre-planned location with the passer-by adding a serendipitous touch to the final image.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-24 No title, just wandering about in Huddersfield town centre whist the wife was shopping looking for shapes and anything that took my eye really. No pre-planning, no fixed agenda, just me and the camera (Fuji X100t, what else) and a pleasant mosey around keeping my eyes open.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-25 and back to Dean Clough for another night time shot. My wife was woking a late shift hence my nightly presence in this part of Halifax this week. I took images every evening but have chosen to only use two for the project to avoid it getting “samey”. This was in part prompted by a video I’d watched earlier in the week but in part too because I’ve shot this kind of image at this location many times in the past.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-26 Friday came all too slowly but it did finally arrive and we escaped in the car for a couple of nights in a favourite B&B in the Forest of Bowland. Only fifty-five miles away from home but a world away from domestic chores and the ever-present kids and grandkids. Neither of us felt 100% so we pottered and I shot a few snaps from the roadside or at least within easy reach of the warmth of the car.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-27 and still in Lancashire, our first taste of snow this autumn/winter. The snow-scattered scene was spotted as we drove down the hill and the first place I could safely pull over was alongside a high hedge, growing on a bank four feet above the road. I scrambled up the bank, perched precariously on the narrow strip of flattish earth at the top and found the hedge was two foot wide but undeterred I found a way to get the camera and my head through into position to take the image. I did consider live view, but using live view on a Nikon DSLR with a 300mm lens and no tripod support was not something I considered as a very stable platform for photography.

© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-28 the final image as we headed away from Lancashire on Sunday morning. We knew that there would be limited time to take photographs as we were heading to Bradford to see number two daughter who’d been admitted on the Friday as we were settling down to our evening meal. With instructions to not break short our weekend break we compromised by coming home early on the Sunday. I saw this view as I crested the hill but before I could safely pull over the best of the light had gone. I still managed a half-decent shot though with the venerable Fuji X-T1 and as it turned out this was my only opportunity for a “proper” photograph so I’m glad I made the effort, something I probably wouldn’t have done without the 63-2017 to motivate me.

© Dave Whenham

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© Dave Whenham

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63-2017-29 and so we come to “that” photograph.

Poorly framed, poorly exposed and a poor choice of aperture – I’m not going to beat myself up but this is hardly likely to feature in my Top Sixty-two images, let alone a Top Ten!

Enough said, I am moving on.

 

 

 

63-2017-30. I was going to stop at image 29 for this weekly round up but couldn’t bring myself to end on such a low note.

Dave Whenham

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 63-2017-31 Determined to end this update on a high, here is an early morning image from the back streets of Halifax.

© Dave Whenham

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All in all a challenging week. I stuck to my guns though and despite a couple of below-par efforts (I’m not overly keen on #30 either) it started well and ended on a good note for me.

I’ve developed a heavy cold in the last 24 hours and with below zero temperatures outside I’m not overly keen to charge about outdoors but I have a few ideas for a brief jaunt outside to capture the thirty-second image … will the challenge survive “man-flu”?

Watch this space to find out!

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

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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