Enjoying the Sunshine

Enjoying the Sunshine (1516)

Over the Easter break I’ve taken the opportunity to start processing photos from recent outings. There’s still a number of photos to work on, and some outings where I haven’t even started. Today’s photo is from a visit to Winkworth arboretum, almost a month ago. It was still too early for the spring flowers, but the sun was out, and the grass was green, so what more could one want?

I was visiting with a few others from the Photographic Society, so some talk about gear was inevitable. Now I like gear as much as the next guy, but I also generally avoid talking about it. Too much of this talk falls into one of two categories: a) people who would rather talk about gear than shoot, and b) people who think that their photography is held back only because they don’t have that particular lens / camera / whatever. I don’t sympathise with either category; in the first case, I think it simply defeats the purpose of photography, while in the second the problem is generally some form of user error.

In any case, on this day the talk was not pointless. I was interested in the cinema lens that one of my fellow PhotoSoc members had with them, and was also lucky enough to try it out. Specifically, this was the Samyang 85mm T1.5 with Canon mount; it’s a manual-focus lens with continuous aperture adjustment. The lens was a joy to use, and the cost is a pleasant surprise.

I took this photo handheld as a single exposure. It took some effort to get proper focus as the depth of field is so shallow. But being a cinema lens, the focus ring travels a considerable distance, allowing fine adjustment. Post processing was minimal, just the usual curves layer to adjust contrast and exposure.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, as always.

Empty Tombs

Empty Tombs (1644)

I don’t generally write or post on Sundays, but today I wanted to wish you all the best for Easter. This weekend I got started with the recent images from Malta, so here’s the first from that series. This is a secondary entrance to the underground complex of catacombs of St Paul’s in Rabat, Malta. Earlier that day we visited a couple other Heritage Malta sites in the area, and after a long lunch I barely made it in time before the site closed for the day.

The catacombs are an extensive Christian burial site from the Roman period. Though perhaps not as big as their counterparts in Rome (or outside Rome, rather), I still get the creepy feeling that I could get lost in there all too easily.

I took the photo handheld as a single exposure. With the light level really low, I had to bump up the ISO significantly to avoid motion blur. We’re lucky enough these days that ISO 6400 is actually usable on modern cameras. Post processing involved the usual selective curves layers to balance exposure.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, as always. Meanwhile, I wish you all l-Għid it-tajjeb!

The West Window

The West Window (1757)

A quick blog post on this Good Friday, with a photo of a stained glass window from the west wall of St George’s in West Grinstead. I visited last Sunday, and I happened to arrive there soon after the Palm Sunday service finished. The pastor, who also leads the digital photography group, beckoned me over, and kindly showed me around. Today, shortly after I post this, their choir will be singing Fauré’s Requiem in a devotional gathering.

I hope you like this stained glass. From what I gather, it was installed in memory of three fallen soldiers. The central panel shows a soldier kneeling in front of the crucifix, with the risen Christ above.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, as always.

Floating in a Sea of Violet

Bluebells (1773)

There are photos that one goes to a lot of effort to get. Others seem to take no effort at all. And there’s no saying which will prove better. Sometimes it’s those that take least effort that strike the deepest chord. This is one such example.

I was away for a week and on my return I found that spring is in full force. The bluebells are out already, and on yesterday’s walk I came across many examples. It seems I chose well: I went on a walk around Shipley in West Sussex. A great choice for a fine day, as the walk is mostly in the open, but also passes by (or through) various patches of ancient woodland at the edges of farms. About half-way through the walk I came across a particularly dense patch and had to take a few photos. Thankfully I had my macro lens with me, so decided to take a few macro shots as well. I think I like this one best. The shaft of light on the grass and flowers in the background were special.

I took the photo handheld as a single exposure. Focusing was tricky, and I think in the end I adjusted manually. The light breeze was lovely, but did not help. Perhaps, in retrospect, I should have taken the time to set up the tripod and to things more formally. In post I did little: slight cropping and just the usual curves layers to adjust exposure and contrast.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, as always.

Keeper of the Museum

Keeper of the Museum (1167)

While I’m on the subject, here’s another photo from our visit to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. I mentioned before how the main hall is surrounded by busts and statues of scientists etc. I was expecting Darwin to be in a prominent place (which he is), so as soon as I saw the first venerable gent with a professorial beard I rather jumped to conclusions. Closer inspection identified the above as the mathematician Henry John Stephen Smith, who also held the post of Keeper of the Oxford University Museum.

I took this photo handheld as a single exposure. I kept the aperture large to hold the background out of focus, taking care to keep some interest in the background by including (part of) the column capitals. The diffuse light of the hall made exposure rather easy. In post, I corrected for perspective and cropped accordingly, then applied a global curves layer to fine tune contrast.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, as always.

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