Sunday, September 25, 2016

The sunset cliché

click photo to enlarge
The biggest clichés in photography are generally thought to be the sunset and the sunrise. With the possible exception of babies and, perhaps, cats and dogs, (and not forgetting, in recent years, food on plates!) these two subjects must account for more photographs than any other. If you want to stake a claim to photographic credibility make sure you steer clear of sunsets and sunrises!

Why this should be I don't know. Each is a splendid phenomenon, and each is unique -  no two sunsets or sunrises are the same. Fine artists down the centuries have thought them to be just as worthy of depiction as any other subject, and inventiveness has been given full rein in conjuring up a different take on this familiar composition. This blog has several examples, all different, and to the photographer, all worthy of recording. I make no great claim for them though some are better than others as photographs, but I also make no apology for photographing them either.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Fenland Sunset with Pylons and Wind Turbines
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.9
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
ISO:125
Exposure Compensation: -0.7EV

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The chimneys at Melton Ross

click photo to enlarge
We periodically travel from our Lincolnshire home to north of the Humber on family business. Our route to the Humber Bridge, the crossing that takes us over the river from Lincolnshire into Yorkshire, is always the same, though our route home is frequently varied to include the opportunity for shopping, a walk and photography.

Travelling north we always drive past the chalk quarries at Melton Ross. Chalk has been dug in this location for nearly two hundred years and chimneys of one kind or another must have been a feature here since whiting first began to be produced.Today a variety of lime products and services keep four large chimneys and assorted smaller ones sending very visible plumes into the north Lincolnshire sky. I've photographed part of the works (click photo for extra large image)before - also on a damp, overcast day - but this time I went to the summit of the road bridge that goes over the nearby railway to get my shot

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title:Chalk Quarry Chimneys, Melton Ross, Lincolnshire
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 56mm (112mm - 35mm equiv.) cropped
F No: f5.5
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Unexpected rain

click photo to enlarge
The weather forecast said it would rain from three o'clock in the afternoon onwards so I calculated that it would be fine to cycle to my appointment for half past nine and cycle home at about ten thirty or eleven o'clock.  No need for wet weather gear I thought, summer trousers and a light sweater over my short sleeved shirt should be enough for the cool of the morning. And it was. A pleasant cycle ride down the drove roads, past the wheat stubble, the flocking swallows and the foraging collared doves and tree sparrows. But, as I chatted after my meeting at about quarter to eleven I looked out of the window and saw steady drizzle falling. The predictions of the Met Office had, once again this summer, proved hopeless and several hours early the rain had arrived.

Aiming to miss the heavy rain that was likely (or was it!) to follow the light rain I made a swift exit and cycled home, head down, legs pumping, through the steady precipitation. My front was quickly wet and my glasses were soon obscured by raindrops. But I pressed on and got home damp; the sort of damp that in winter would have had me changing clothes but which in late summer found me letting them dry naturally and quite quickly still on me. Taking my glasses off and setting them down before wiping them I saw the small droplets of rain on the lenses and quickly snapped today's photograph.

Just as it's an ill wind that blows nobody good, so too is it hopeless rain that can't produce a photograph or two.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Raindrops on Glasses
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 60mm macro (120mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.2
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A sign of different times

click photo to enlarge
One of the photographic themes that has arisen down the years on this blog is public signs. I have enjoyed quite a few that I've seen as I've travelled the country, some perplexing, some intentionally humorous, some unintentionally humorous and others engagingly redolent of the age in which they were made. Today's example that I photographed in Borough Market, Southwark, London falls into the latter category.

The sign itself dates from 1908 and may be original or a copy of an original. The case that holds it is probably original. What I like about this sign is the interesting use of language and punctuation. How odd, for example, that the words "Borough Market Trust" and "Notice" have a full stop after them. This is something that is being done consciously occasionally today by companies such as EAT., but in the main those full stops would be thought superfluous now. It's interesting too that "Beadles" were employed to maintain security in the market and that the police were not deemed sufficient in this regard. I like too, "Loiterers or other suspicious characters", descriptions that we wouldn't use today. It reminds me of the "lurkers" that populate the alley ways of London in Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. For more of my photographs of signs follow this link.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Notice, Borough Market, Southwark
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 39mm (78mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
ISO:2500
Exposure Compensation: -0.3EV



Friday, September 16, 2016

The Mudlark

click photo to enlarge
I've done my share of mudlarking as this post of 2010 explains.

The usual definition of a mudlark is someone, often a child, who in Victorian times scavenged the muddy fringes of the River Thames in London in search of anything of value that could be sold for cash. The pub sign in Southwark, London, near the river, that is the subject of today's photograph alludes to these "valuables" in the grubby hand and items shown in the bordering circle.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) shows that mudlark has not always carried the meaning that it usually has today. The first entry from 1785 defines the word as slang for a hog, and we can see how that might transfer to Thames-side foragers. The next entry dating from 1796-1800 describes a mudlark as someone who prowls around ships in the mud, receiving plundered goods from them which they sold. Again the connection is apparent. The 1801 definition most closely matches today's understanding of the term. However, there are others. Apparently in the nineteenth century the Royal Engineers were sometimes so called. This must have been due to their often muddy work being equated with the urchins who searched the Thames mud.

I was quite pleased to see this elaborate, original and obviously quite expensive sign advertising the pub. All too often today the traditional pub sign is being replaced by a cheaply printed glossy advert, or the old design is replaced by a "tasteful" often almost monochrome updated version.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Pub Sign, The Mudlark, Southwark
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
ISO:640
Exposure Compensation: -0.3EV

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Evening at the paddling pool

click photo to enlarge
Any photographer in the UK looking for colourful subjects for their camera could do worse than visit a travelling fun-fair or pay a visit to the British seaside. Not the quiet, refined seaside however, but the glitzy, brash seaside. One of Lincolnshire's locations that fits that latter description is Mablethorpe north of Skegness (another such place).

We dropped into the town in the early evening for a little diversion as we travelled to an appointment further north. After 6pm in the middle of September in the UK isn't the place you usually encounter a temperature in the twenties and people still frolicking on the beach, in the parks and along the main street, but that's what we found. The low sun lit up the scenes before us with a yellow tinted glow and the freshly painted buildings, beach huts, wall and railings positively glowed with deep colours in the evening light. As did the deserted blue paddling pool with its fountains still feeding the water. I took a few shots of the colours that the view offered and a further shot as one adventurous little girl entered the water for a final paddle of the day. To her great credit she went in at just the point where my composition needed some interest!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Early Evening at the Paddling Pool
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Morris man

click photo to enlarge
It is generally thought that the name "Morris", pertaining to the English type of dance called Morris dancing, derives from "Moorish". Whether that is because of the similarity between the dances or because, as in other instances, the oddness of the dance attracted a foreign epithet, isn't known.

The earliest reference in English to Morris dancing occurs in the mid 1400s, and not until the 1600s does the spelling "Morris" appear. Many writers note that at the end of the nineteenth century Morris dancing as a conscious revival activity prevented the disappearance of the dance as a genuine folk activity of great longevity. Today it is pursued as a hobby or pastime by Morris groups throughout the country. Frequently groups follow the dance steps, patterns and tunes peculiar to the locality in which they are based, something that distinguishes (though often only for the observant) one from the other.

In recent years it has seemed that whenever I go out and about with my camera in the south of England, particularly in the west, I come across Morris dancing. Usually they are strictly traditional in all respects, though one of the most enjoyable was an updating that edged towards heavy metal! It happened again recently when we were in Gloucester. In  a public space at the centre of Gloucester Quays, a shopping centre that has sprung up in the old docks, at least two groups were putting on a display of dancing for any interested shoppers. Naturally there was The Gloucestershire Morris Men, but the troupes also included the Great Yorkshire Morris, of which "Bob" above, is a member.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Morris man, Gloucester Quays, Gloucester
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Enforced phone photography - b & w

click photo to enlarge
My smartphone camera isn't the best for photographing people - especially fast moving children. However, it deals reasonably well with static subjects such as architecture. The qualification to the last statement is - if it is well lit. Today's photograph shows the concrete staircase in the Switch Room, Tate Modern's £260 million extension with three gallery levels. The exterior, with its angular brick walls, window slits, great views and fascinating lighting at night is becoming well known - especially to the inhabitants of the new, glass-walled residential towers nearby who resent having spent up to £19 million for a flat only to find gallery visitors peering into their rooms.

The interior features quite a lot of new raw concrete that extends from the old raw concrete that was laid down when the building was a power station. The most arresting feature is the spiral staircase shown in today's photograph. This wasn't a particularly well lit subject and the resulting image had quite a bit of noise. But, that noise was quite amenable to cleaning up and so I thought I'd find out what the resulting image looked like when converted to black and white. Not too bad is my answer.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Staircase, Switch House, Tate Modern, London
Smartphone photograph

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Enforced phone photography - colour

click photo to enlarge
On our most recent visit to London my camera stopped working properly and so for a few days I had to use my phone for photography. Despite the rapid improvement in phone cameras to the point where many are "good enough" for a limited range of photography, I still prefer the flexibility and quality of a purpose-built camera. I should also add that my phone was bought knowing that I wouldn't use it a great deal and so I chose on price rather than features.

All that notwithstanding, it takes photographs, and in some circumstances for some purposes the images it produces are quite good. It doesn't have real zoom or course. Nor does it handle low light well. Its dynamic range is somewhat limited, and you have to make a conscious effort to hold it still. In fact, the latter is the most frustrating feature because a few of my shots that are compositionally quite good, when enlarged show distinct blur caused by my hand movement. As far as basic ergonomics for photography goes the shape of the average smartphone seems deliberately chosen to induce blur.

Today's photograph is one of the better shots I got. It shows the platform at Cannon Street station in London. We've become quite familiar with this location following the closure of London Bridge station. However, our regular route means a walk to Bank station to get the Northern line tube, and interesting as that is, I'll be glad when London Bridge reopens in 2018 and I don't have to do it so often.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photograph: CannonStreet Station, London
Phone photograph

Sunday, September 04, 2016

WW1 floral tribute

click photo to enlarge
One of the traditions of the Church of England (and some English churches of other denominations) is the church flower festival. This usually takes place in late spring or high summer when flowers are plentiful. The church is filled with flower displays - on window sills, pulpit, font, bench ends, and many other spaces in the nave, chancel and porch. Often a theme is decided and each display is an interpretation of it. Themes I've seen include, hymn titles, saints, London, months and famous people. Much of the pleasure of the viewer comes from seeing the creativity involved in expressing the idea florally. Churches publicise the event, welcome the wider public, and use the event as a pleasurable fund raiser, often putting on refreshments, sales etc to accompany the flowers. Groups of churches frequently co-ordinate their festivals, those in a geographical location choosing the same week so that visitors can make a day of visiting several churches.

On a cycle ride we recently visited Muston church in Leicestershire and came across what I assume was their flower festival based on the theme of the First World War. I say "assume" because in these years in which the centenary of WW1 is remembered some churches are mounting special events, and perhaps it was one of those. Whatever the inspiration, the displays were very good. There were poppies in profusion, of course, but the ideas went wider than that. The example above features barbed wire, crosses and explosions in the form of coloured alliums.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: WW1 Floral Tribute, Muston Church, Leicestershire
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec
ISO: 640
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On