Friday, December 04, 2009

The curse of blue skies

click photo to enlarge
Today I reached a natural break in some floor tiling that I'm doing, so I seized the opportunity to get out of the house and take some photographs. I planned a route to take in a few churches, looked at the sky happily noting about 25% cloud cover, and set off. But alas and alack! As I approached my first destination I could see that the clouds were fast disappearing; and by the time of my second port of call they were nowhere to be seen.

I've given a few talks to groups of people about photography and blogging in which I've made a point of noting my dislike of clear blue skies when I'm doing photography. Quite a few in my audiences have clearly thought me mad. You could see them thinking, "This is England for heaven's sake, the place where it's usually cloudy, and where if it isn't cloudy it looks like it soon will be! What's wrong with a nice blue sky?" Now don't get me wrong, I like a clear blue sky and the sun on my back as much as the next person - well maybe not that much - but there are certainly times when I welcome it. However, those times do not include when I'm looking for photographs! Then I want the interest that clouds offer in themselves, and I also want the contribution they make by putting some compositional interest in the top of the frame.

One of the churches I wanted to photograph today was St Andrew at Asgarby. This building, with its exterior of the 1400s and interior of the 1300s, is in a tiny hamlet near a house and farm, and is surrounded on three sides by fields. It has a tall tower surmounted by a short spire, so any image of the whole of the exterior of the church, of necessity, includes a lot of sky: and a lot of plain blue sky is, frankly, boring. So what do you do? Well, above is one answer - you show the church in context, make your image a landscape, and fill the blue with the tracery of tree branches.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On