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.

Fixed Gaze

Fixed Gaze (1168)

Can’t believe it’s almost a month since our quick trip to Oxford and its Museum of Natural History. Knowing the museum was a major highlight, I had taken my macro lens with me. I mentioned before that I have a number of photos to share from that visit, so here’s the first.

One thing that struck me about the museum is its mixture of old and new. Old as in the late 19th century Grade 1 listed building itself, and the busts and statues of scientists and luminaries surrounding the main hall. New as in the hands-on experience of the museum, one meant not only to house important artifacts, but to allow the visitor to experience them as fully as possible.

In this spirit, a number of artifacts are meant to be touched. To the right, as you enter, was a circle of stuffed wild animals. I couldn’t help feel sorry for them. What can I say? Scenes like this always find me conflicted. I’d rather see them alive and free, but at the same time I recognize that here they serve a purpose.

I took this photo handheld as a single exposure. Post-processing was minimal, involving only a curves layer to adjust contrast a little.

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


Desolation (1156)

Today I’m sharing another image from about a month ago, on a walk in Chobham common. By this time it was late afternoon on a bright day, but as I approached this clearing I couldn’t help feeling a sense of loss for the damage some of the trees had seen this winter. The place was peaceful, but the stacked logs had an air of finality about them.

I set up on a tripod, with a soft grad filter mounted horizontally (quite unusual) to balance the brightness across the frame, a polarizer to reduce the contrast caused by the direct sun, and a 10-stop filter for a long-exposure effect. The photo was taken as a single exposure. From what I recall (it’s been a while), in post I only did the usual selective curves to balance contrast.

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

Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee (1434)

Morning cannot really start before the obligatory coffee. And after a cold night, there’s little better than a hot cup by the campfire. Just because one is camping doesn’t mean one cannot enjoy a decent coffee. Or two. This was actually our second cup. Sure, it’s not the same as that made with a high-pressure machine. But if it’s good enough for the Italians, it’s good enough for me. And the surroundings also help…

I’m told the best way to make coffee with an Italian moka is as follows. Start by pouring water in the boiler. With the funnel in place, put the ground coffee in, and tamp it down well. Screw on the coffee collector, and put on the heat. When the water boils, it will be forced up into the collector, going through the ground coffee under pressure. Take off the heat, give the coffee a stir, and pour. It’s important to have coffee that is ground sufficiently fine, or the water will run through too quickly.

I took the photo handheld as a single exposure. No post-processing was necessary.

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


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