Sailing Boat at Twilight

Sailing Boat at Twilight (2773)

Post-move, things are slowly settling here, so it’s about time I share an image from Malta. I’m afraid I haven’t been doing much photography lately. I’m very much missing the routine I had made for myself in Surrey, with regular walks in the countryside. Those quiet walks were always a time for reflection, which works well with the pursuit of photography. A small compensation has been the couple of times I’ve been out climbing with the MCC, and in the process discovering some great places on the island.

I have also finally gotten myself a better telephoto lens, now that I think I’ve figured out what I wanted out of it. So I was itching to try it out for real. But the weather’s mostly been too hot to do much. It’s only in the past day or two that it’s cooling down somewhat. In any case, a couple of weeks ago R and I dragged ourselves to Buġibba in time for the sunset. This is a very popular tourist and summer-residence location, and the plan was to simply walk along the promenade and find a good spot to wait for the sunset. In what seems to be a distant past I used to like to sit down by the sea and watch the sun set over Selmun palace. So I figured we’d try that again.

After the sun went down beyond Mellieħa ridge, as the sky took on those pastel shades of pink and orange and everything in between, I saw this sailing boat going out to sea. I waited until it came in front of St Paul’s islands and this is the result. I took the photo handheld as a single exposure. Post processing was simple, with the usual selective curves layers to adjust contrast.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, and of course feel free to share the link.

That’s My Spot

That's My Spot (1524)

This photo brings back some fun memories. I was at Winkworth arboretum with a few friends from the photographic society, and we sat down for a few minutes with one of our company who had just arrived, on foot, from Guildford. (It’s about six miles, I reckon.) We were also quietly observing the geese. Suddenly, this particular goose made for where I was sitting, and, vocally, made it clear that she (I suppose) wanted me to move. Luckily my camera was in hand, and mostly set up; I barely had time to compose and take a few shots before I really had to move away.

I still have no idea what was bothering it. I guess she thought I must have some food with me (which I did not, having already finished my lunch). In any case, I don’t make it a habit of feeding the animals. It’s generally rather poor practice to do so.

Obviously, I took this photo handheld as a single exposure. Post processing was very minimal, I think just a curves layer to adjust exposure and contrast. For some reason, what happened reminded me a lot of Sheldon, and his attachment to a particular seating arrangement.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, and of course feel free to share the link.

Clifftop Walk at Birling Gap

Clifftop Walk at Birling Gap (2449)

Yesterday I found some more time to continue processing my photos from the summer. I managed to complete this one, which turned out to be a relatively easy process. I drove down to Birling Gap almost two months ago, with the plan to walk along the cliffs to Beachy Head and back. This I did and enjoyed; in the middle of all the move-related commotion, it was a welcome break.

Before starting the walk proper, I looked back west and could just see this view in black and white. So I did something I don’t often do, and set my camera to B&W mode with a (digital) red filter applied, to help me see the intended result. This setting makes no material difference to the RAW image, and one can easily recover the colour information by setting a different profile in post. But doing it in-camera can help confirm how the photo will look later.

I waited for the walker to get to the right place and took this photo handheld as a single exposure. In post I set the RAW conversion mode to the usual ‘Faithful’, and transferred the image to Photoshop. There I applied selective curves layers to brighten up the sky and increase contrast in the distant cliffs. It was a rather hazy day, so this made a substantial difference. Finally, a B&W conversion layer with a red filter completed processing.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, and of course feel free to share the link.

A Windy Day at St Martha’s

A Windy Day at St Martha's (2739)

I’ve been on the island for more than three weeks, and it’s only this long weekend (today is a national holiday here, one of many national and public holidays) that I managed to drag myself to the sea. The only other outdoorsy thing I’ve done was to go out climbing with the Malta Climbing Club at Wied Babu last week. That was great fun, and I look forward to many more. But it suddenly feels like ages since I’ve been on a good walk.

The last one, in fact, was four weeks ago, on my last weekend in the UK. I wasn’t too sure where to go for that last walk in the country. I knew I’d need to drive my car up to the transport operators in a few days, so I didn’t want to go on any long drives. I also knew I’d need to add another four miles to whatever walk I wanted to do, just to get to the car and back. So no long walks, either. In the end I settled for a short walk in Guildford itself, from Pewley Down to St Martha’s and back via Chantry Wood. The way through Chantry Wood I had not done before, and I long wanted to. It also seemed fitting to spend my last quiet walk in a place I visited so often and liked so much.

It was rather stormy that day, but it was forecast to clear up in the afternoon, so I decided to start after lunch. It was still raining when I started, but that soon stopped, leaving only the wind and the sun between the clouds. I took advantage of the wind to try a long exposure photo. I had to wait a while at one point for a group of young visitors to move out of frame. It doesn’t bother me when that happens; with popular places one has to get used to it anyway.

I set up facing the wind, metered the sky and the foreground, and composed. I used an ND grad (pretty sure it was a soft grad) to balance the sky and foreground, and took a few exposures. Once I was happy with the result, I added the ND 3.0 filter and prepared the timer remote with the appropriate exposure setting. I always weight down the tripod with my backpack, but as it was so windy I needed to do more than that. I waited for a lull and held the tripod down during the exposure time to minimize vibrations. I repeated the process a few times to have a choice of frames, as I knew from experience that it’s hard to judge the overall composition in the field, with the clouds moving around so much.

In post I did some non-destructive dodge/burn using a gray layer with an overlay blend mode, painting onto it in black to burn and white to dodge that area. A global curves layer finally sets the overall contrast. As I use a Lee Big Stopper for long exposures, I also needed to remove its colour cast. As usual I did this as the RAW processing stage, by using a pre-determined white balance.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, and of course feel free to share the link.


Another View of Winkworth Arboretum

WInkworth Arboretum (1927)Among the many National Trust properties around where we lived, Winkworth Arboretum deserves a special place. If there is such a thing as a favourite NT place, this is one of them for me. I have visited in all seasons and in all conditions; well, almost. I haven’t really seen it piled deep in snow. There is always something to see there, and it’s such a peaceful place.

I made this particular photo in early spring, when we visited specifically for the bluebells. That was magical, as always, and when we were done I decided to walk the long way around the property. It was raining, which I find always makes the grass so much greener and the smells earthier. This view is one I particularly like. I spent a while there just soaking it in. Sure, the bluebells don’t show up much, but you can see just how many different kinds of trees grow in this place.

I’m not entirely certain, but I think I took this photo handheld. It was definitely a single exposure. Post processing was minimal, involving only selective curves layers to balance exposure and adjust contrast.

Click on the photo for a larger version; comments welcome, and of course feel free to share the link.



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