Monday, January 09, 2017

A new year, a new blog

My hiatus from blogging has proved to be shorter than I thought - in fact, hardly any time at all. I decided that the answer to my problem was to close PhotoReflect and start up a less labour-intensive alternative. So that's what I've done in the form of PhotoEclectica. I hope you'll take a look.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Taking a break

click photo to enlarge
I'm taking a break from the blog for a while - it will be good for both of us. How long is a while? I don't know at this time; it could be a few weeks, it could be a few months, it could be longer.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: The Boat House Pool, Belton House, Grantham, Lincolnshire
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 42mm (84mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas postage stamps

click photo to enlarge
I remember doing a quiz many years ago in which one of the questions was, "Which is the only country not to feature its name on its postage stamps?". The answer, of course, was the United Kingdom, the country that introduced the adhesive postage stamp, the "Penny Black", following the ideas of Rowland Hill. This method of paying for postal deliveries was adopted across the world. Designers and artists were tasked with devising designs for the stamps, and unwittingly their endeavours set in motion a hobby - stamp collecting (or philately) - that was eagerly pursued by children and adults.

I collected stamps as a young boy and was particularly pleased when the UK's Post Office started to produce a wider range of stamps than those featuring just the head of the reigning monarch. Many interesting and often beautiful designs in a variety of sizes have been produced down the decades. Moreover, each Christmas a distinctive and seasonal set of stamps is issued and reported on in the press. Perhaps its my age, perhaps its designers exhausting the possibilities, but I feel that stamp designs are less inventive than formerly. Today's photograph shows part of a sheet of stamps featuring this years Christmas design for the 2nd Class (i.e. slower and cheaper) postage. The paper cut snowman and surround are fine but lack the bold, jewel-like qualities that I remember from my youth.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: UK 2nd Class Postage Christmas Stamp 2016
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 60mm macro (120mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December morning light

click photo to enlarge
The flat, Fenland landscape that extends across parts of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk is well known for its fertile soils that comprise about half of England's Grade 1 agricultural land.What is less well-known is the wide range of light that the Fens exhibit, a feature that is particularly noticeable in autumn and winter. This is partly to do with the "big skies" that all flat areas experience, but the low-lying nature of the land and the managed drainage systems that criss-cross the area must also play their part. Mists, strong and slight, are common. Rain squalls can be seen from miles away. Cloud types proliferate. And these effects, and more, are food for the hungry photographer.

Today's photograph shows a typical Fenland scene on a cool but not cold December morning. The shadows of trees and houses behind the photographer darken the field of winter wheat that is showing through the manicured soil. Pantiles and bricks of houses at the village edge glow a deeper orange in the yellow-tinted light. A church tower peeps over the graveyard trees that surround it.Poplars and a walnut that is past its best thrust up into a blue sky that looks like a painter has wiped his white brush clean on it. And in the distance the slight mist almost, but not quite, obscures the sheep that have been tuned onto the remains of a field of cabbages. It's the kind of unremarkable scene I often see but don't often photograph.And each time I do I wonder why I don't do it more often.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: December Morning Light, Lincolnshire
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.6mm (34mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec
ISO:125
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Friday, December 16, 2016

Too many Santas

click photo to enlarge
On our recent visit to London we saw a lot of Santas. At first it was just one or two of the sort seen annually at this time of year, dressed up, out for a drink with friends, wearing as a minimum a basic red and white hat. However, these Santas, and the groups of eight to ten we saw subsequently had made more effort. Hat, jacket and trousers were worn by all with some adding a broad black belt or a home made one of tinsel. True, most of these outfits had that skimped look suggesting an origin in a Chinese factory and a price that left change out of a ten pound note. But, nonetheless they exhibited more than the usual attempt to emulate the dress sense of the man in red.

It was when we turned the corner to where the west portico of St Paul's Cathedral towers over the street that we realised there was something of a greater magnitude going on than a few friends on an outing or a themed office party taking place. There must have been three or four hundred Santas thronging the plaza, police in attendance, listening the the multitude of St Nicholas's giving enthusiastic, if discordant, renditions of well known carols. Only later, when I got home did I discover that we had inadvertently stumbled upon London Santacon 2016, a flash-mob style meeting advertised over the internet for people to congregate in London dressed as Father Christmas. The aim of the event was to provide a "non-profit, non-political, non-religious and non-sensical Christmas parade". It seemed to be quite good humoured, harmless and colourful. However, I wasn't tempted to join in this year or any year for that matter.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Revellers, London Santacon 2016
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/30
ISO: 2000
Exposure Compensation:  -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A rainy London scene

click photo to enlarge
Maybe it's the photographer in me, but I quite like London in the rain. Certainly the photographs that ensue don't look anything like the tourism shots that are used to promote the city: those glow with sun and blue skies and only tell part of the story. The fact is Britain has a temperate maritime climate that features regular wind and rain that comes in from the Atlantic. And with that rain is the inevitable cloud. So a photograph such as today's is not untypical of the kind of image that a visit to London can produce. Lest I be accused of frightening away potential visitors it needs to be said that the weather changes frequently and quickly, so rain  is a temporary inconvenience (or charm).

My photograph shows the most recent version of the London double-decker bus pulling away from a bus stop, a black taxi exiting the frame on the right, people under umbrellas,and a backdrop of part of St Paul's cathedral, Christopher Wren's magnum opus. What I like about shots such as this is the lights, the darkness contrasted with them and the pools of illumination that they provide, the shine of rain on tarmac, and the deep colours. A similar photograph taken a few years ago, but featuring modern architecture, still serves as the desktop photograph on my laptop, a testament to my predilection.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Rainy London near St Paul's Cathedral
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.9mm (35mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 1250
Exposure Compensation:  -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thoroughfares and short cuts

click photo to enlarge
On a recent day in London we spent a lot of time on the highways and by-ways of the central and north central area of the city. Highway as its name implies means "main way" or route, and a by-way is a route other than the highway i.e. a side road or a less frequented, subsidiary route. We were using the main roads to get to smaller roads and passages to see some of the less obvious architecture of London, and some of the placenames and relics of former times. The terms thoroughfare and short-cut seemed more appropriate to describe what were doing because in the hierarchy of roads, Fleet Street was as big as we got and St Swithin's Lane the smallest. "Thoroughfare" today often implies a main road because its derivation is from the word "through" and "passage", in the sense of a route that is open and unhindered. And taking short-cuts down narrow lanes was what we were doing quite frequently.

The line of many of the routes in London would be familiar to medieval city dwellers because the properties that line them are still there in some instances and have been respected by later buildings in others. St Swithin's Lane, connecting Cannon Street with King William Street, is a case in point. However, that medieval person would wonder where the old church of St Swithin that bordered the lane has gone. The answer is that the medieval building was burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666, rebuilt in the Renaissance style by Christopher Wren, and that this building was badly damaged by bombing in the second world war, and its remains were cleared from the site in 1962. Today the buildings along the lane date from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Our evening walk between Tube stations took us down this modern short-cut, brollies up to counter the heavier rain, our passage lit by light spilling from brightly illuminated, empty offices.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Evening, St Swithin's Lane, London
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/30
ISO: 5000
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Frost on leaves

click photo to enlarge
I've mentioned a few times some of the themes that have developed in my photography during the lifetime of this blog - chairs, benches, church vaulting, deliberate blur, shadows, reflections, to name but a few. Today's photograph is another - leaves.

I like leaves for their shapes, colours, lines  and patterns. I also like them when frost subdues their colours, adds emphasising outlines to their shapes and lines, and gives a "hairy" look to leaves. The first few frosts of the year were weak, leaving only a little impression on the fallen leaves. But a few days ago stronger frosts made much better effects, good enough for me to mount the macro lens on the camera and search some out. The photograph shows the underside of a large field maple leaf that is surrounded by smaller leaves from the same tree and flowering cherry leaves from a neighbouring tree. Soon the leaves will have decayed too much for this kind of shot so I was glad to get it.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Frosted Leaves
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 60mm macro (120mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
ISO:800
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Disused swimming pool

click photo to enlarge
The other day we came across, for the first time, the former outdoor swimming pool in Grantham. This facility in Wyndham Park opened to the public in the 1880s and offered bathing to the residents of the town until the 1970s. Since then it has been used as a skate park, and more recently has been the boating pool for the local model boat club.

On the day we saw it the pool had been drained and it held only leaves and an inch or two of rain water (just enough for a grubby reflection). I read that there are plans to remodel it, a project that includes demolishing some of the Victorian buildings that are on two sides of the water. I hope that the symmetrical block in today's photograph remains; it looks better than some of the others and would be a tangible link with the site's past.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Former Outdoor Swimming Pool, Grantham, Lincolnshire
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 36mm (72mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Built to impress

click photo to enlarge
The first two houses that we bought and lived in suffered from a problem that many buildings have suffered from down the ages - more money was spent on the front than on the back and sides. One was built in the early 1900s and the other in the 1930s. In each case the quality of the bricks on the main elevation was better than those elsewhere. Ornament in the form of stone/concrete arches, oriel windows, and large bays appeared on the front, but not on the back, or where they did, in simpler, more pared down form. The fact is, those houses and many other buildings had relatively more money spent at the front for a reason that is obvious - to impress the buyer and passers-by. Interestingly, and refreshingly, this wasn't so pronounced in a house we bought that was built in the late 1970s. Our current house, part of which is oldish and part relatively recent uses the same quality materials throughout but has a much more "composed" facade.

Constraints of this sort did not affect the affluent builders of the country houses of the Georgian period - all elevations aimed to impress. At Belton House the main (south) facade and the rear (north) elevation are almost the same. The east elevation is composed with symmetry in mind, is flusher than either north or south, but then doesn't have the main entrances that those feature. Only on the west, where stables, courtyards and other ancillary buildings are found does the main house lose something of its imposing appearance. And here this is compensated for by those subsidiary buildings being large, ornate and monumental.Today's photograph shows Belton House's plainer east elevation from one side of the wide avenue of trees that frame it. Incidentally, my composition was prompted by the desire to find a composition that was a little different, that emphasised the building's setting, but also by a desire to minimise the featureless blue sky.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen


Photo Title: Belton House, Lincolnshire
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 42mm (84mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
ISO:200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On