Sunday, 13 May 2018

Return to Black & White Photography

It's been a very long time since I worked in b&w photography. In fact, I haven't done it since I first took up photography back in 1987. At the time it was still a film only era, of course, and I was only interested in shooting b&w film. Colour had no appeal to me at all. I joined a photo club and had a makeshift darkroom in the spare room of my London flat where I developed my own b&w film and did my own enlarging and print processing. It was a very expensive hobby which I couldn't keep up for very long, so I was delighted when digital photography came about: now, all of a sudden, photography was free once you had your picture taking equipment and a computer; no more endless, hefty spending on film, chemicals and photo paper! However, shooting with a digital camera I quickly realised it was hard, if not impossible, to achieve the same quality b&w results as shooting on film.  On the other hand, digital photography saw a boom in colour photography; everyone seemed to share just colour photos on the internet. Colour was something new to try my hand at, so I started thinking and shooting in terms of colour.  I still tried to edit my photos in b&w as well, but colour versions seemed more effective almost invariably. So for many years I virtually forgot about b&w and shot exclusively in colour.
My desire to start creating b&w images again was born out of two things: the first is my recent decision to focus my efforts solely on mood photography, and b&w medium is perfect for creating mood. The absence of colour really helps you draw the attention to the atmosphere and mood; and secondly, I always like to make improvements in my work and learn new things about photography and I feel that converting colour digital images into b&w provides a great scope for making a progress in my work.
So here is a first  handful of selected images I took recently/not long ago that I thought would look good converted to black & white. Most of them I haven't shared before at all and one or two I shared as colour images.

Upper Ponden Farm, Stanbury Moor

Three Old Wooden Chairs, Haworth

Lake District Sheep

Reading Spot, Haworth

Brontë Parsonage, Haworth

Sepia, with its old photo look, is part of monochrome photography I am also eager to experiment with.

Wycoller Village, Lancashire
I always like to view other photographers' work; in fact I think it's very important to do that as a photographer, but I find that the longer I am doing photography the harder it is to see photos that really move me. But just recently I have seen some very beautiful, heavily desaturated, "almost black & white" images that did give me that inner glow and made me want to try the post processing technique on some of my images. I do like just a hint of colour in these images; I think it adds to the feel of the subject in the image.

Branwell's room, Brontë Parsonage

Earnshaw Room, Ponden Hall
This year for my birthday I got a most amazing gift from a dear friend - a gorgeous vintage wooden writing slope. It is special also because it comes from a great gift shop in Haworth, Number 71, run by mutual friends. Of course, a still life image was in order very soon!

Still Life With Vintage Writing Slope

I am not saying I will now be creating b&w images only. I will merely try and include them in my work as well. Not every image looks best in b&w and I am hoping to get better at seeing and understanding tonal ranges and deciding if a scene will look better in colour or b&w.
I bought an interesting, concise online b&w digital photography guide and am looking forward to seeing how I can apply the tips to my themes and style of work.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

16 Random Haworth Images, Brontë Country

I have been posting about Haworth quite a lot in recent times and I cannot apologise. For there is no such other place that draws me back to it, whether it be in person or in mind. There is no other place that inspires me in so many ways and for so many reasons.

A while ago when I had no new photographs to process and no time to take any I looked in my archives and thought it was a perfect time to gather some of the odd photos of Haworth taken over the past few years and post them together.  Incidentally, most of them were taken around this time of year.

Main Street, 4/2015

Old School, 4/2015

Bottom of Church Street, 9/2015

Bottom of Church Street, 4/2015

Arched Tunnel opposite Black Bull Inn, 1/2018

Lodge Street, 2/2017

Vintage Tractor, 10/2017

Outside Haworth Church, 10/2017

Sonia's Smile shop on Main Street, 4/2015

Linen shop on Main Street, now gone, 4/2015

Sweet Shop on Main Street, 4/2015

Street off Sun Street, 9/2017

Street off Sun Street, 9/2017

Little Street, 10/2017

On Railway Children Walk, 4/2017

Hill Top from Cemetery Road, 9/2015

I now have a special folder on my computer for random Haworth images and I look forward to collecting enough for a next post like this.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Roses From G

Just a quick post this morning to mark my birthday. These roses were given to me by my G a little while ago. They are no more, but the photo remains.....


Me on my 56th birthday

~ Happy St George's Day! ~

Friday, 20 April 2018

Springtime Break In Haworth, Brontë Country

"Awake to new life with the coming of spring,
When the lark is aloft with its fetterless wing;
When the thorns and the woodbine are bursting with buds,
And the throstle is heard in the depth of the woods;
When the verdure grows bright, where the rivulets run,
And the primrose and daisy look up to the sun;
When the iris of April expands o'er the plain,
And a blessing comes down in the drops of the rain"

~ John Critchley Prince ~

It is fair to say that last week saw most intense hard work I have ever done in my working life.  Although it was gratifying as well I must admit that by the end of the week I was in great need of a good rest. So when I saw I had now two days off Haworth immediately sprang to my mind. Saturday lunch time after work I quickly stuffed my rucksack with a change of clothes and headed for my heaven on earth place.
I didn't have any plans other than staying a couple of nights. This time for a change I was just going to do whatever my heart told me to do at a given moment. But, one thing I was sure to do and that was take photos, of course.
I arrived to a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon - first real spring day this year. I spent a couple of  hours just pottering around and having a glass of wine in my favourite pub while waiting for the golden hour. And then I walked over to the Brontë Parsonage, Haworth church and the graveyard.

St Michael and All Angels' Church

Brontë Parsonage and Graveyard

Dusk Graveyard Visitor

The following morning I woke up at 6:30 (trying to convert to an early riser!).  It just got light and there was a mist shrouding the old stone houses, obscuring the distance and creating that mystic and atmospheric ambience. It is not often that I get a chance to be in Haworth on an early misty morning, so I quickly got dressed, grabbed my camera and was back in the Parsonage graveyard,  exactly twelve hours after my previous visit.
Apart from a gentleman coming out of John Brown's house I never saw anyone, and the only sound I heard was the usual cawing of crows.

Haworth Church Graveyard

Old School and John Brown's House

Behind Parsonage

Haworth Main Street

Haworth Station

I took another couple of images which, although taken in Haworth, are not intrinsic to Haworth by their composition or subject matter. I am thinking of processing these images in black & white, and as they are different in character to the ones I have published here I will blog about these images in a separate post.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

New Book Cover

The day before yesterday I received  a Trevillion Images sales statement with a great new book cover on it. Thank you, Trevillion!

The book is written by two English authors working as a team on detective novels under the pen name of James Henry. The authors are James Gurbutt and Henry Sutton. "Yellowhammer" is their latest novel, to be released in July this year.

"Yellowhammer" is the third different title book cover this image of mine has been used for and the sixth time license has been bought for this image to be used as a book cover. You can see how it was used in the past herehere and here.

The interesting thing is that with "Yellowhammer" the image was turned into black & white for the first time. And it comes at a time when I have been thinking of creating some black & white photos again.
When I first took up photography back in 1987 I was shooting b&w film only and was not interested in colour at all. Then, with digital age, I turned to colour simply because b&w images seemed to look nowhere near as good as those shot on film. But now, with my postprocessing skills improved and the fact that my sole interest and intention in photography is to convey or create mood, I am toying with the idea of trying my hand at some black & white again. And it looks as if this new b&w book cover is telling me "go for it"!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter 2018 Still Life

As I write this it's wet and windy out there; but I have seen colourful crocuses, primroses and daffodils cheerfully dotted around and my favourite camellia in its luscious bloom; trees are starting to bud up and days are longer and brighter; spring is finally upon us!... And it's Easter time! I love Easter! It is such an uplifting holiday.... a religious one, but for me also a celebration of the arrival of spring, the most longed for seasons of all.
Every year, as part of my Easter celebrations, I endeavour to create a festive still life image.

I have had these wondrous, decorative eggs for quite a few years. They were given to me by my Croatian friend's late mother, who in turn were given the eggs by a friend that painted them. I have never seen Easter eggs like these; they are unique and so skillfully and beautifully made. I have long thought of using them for my Easter still life, but somehow other ideas tended to prevail. Until this year!!
The eggs are so eye catching and interesting that a most simple and obvious composition suffices. A subtle texture use in postprocessing adds my ever favoured soft, painterly, vintage look.

~ Happy Easter & Springtime! ~ 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The village of Dockray, The Lake District, Cumbria

I haven't taken any new photos for the past few weeks. I was ill with the flu when we had a spell of heavy snow, and "the beast from the east" was thrashing England. Then I started a new job, which for me is a bit like starting a new life, so while I am in training and finding my feet in the new job and new circumstances of living I have put my photography on the back burner.
However, when it's time to relax I like nothing more than editing photos, and I decided to look in my archives for something to process for a blog post. The weather has not been nice: low, wintry temperatures, another bout of heavy snow followed by incessant rain and then more snow. It's already mid March, and I'm sure everyone is, like I am, eagerly awaiting a turn in the weather and some much welcome signs of spring. In this spirit I thought I'd share a few photos I took in the beautiful August weather of 2016, when we were on holiday at Ullswater, one of the lakes in the wonderful English Lake District.

We were on the lookout for some good places to have an evening meal and were recommended the Royal Hotel in the picturesque village of Dockray, a mile or so away from our rented cottage. We came here one afternoon to check it out, and while G and our friends sat down to a cold and refreshing drink in the beer garden I disappeared with my camera for half an hour or so.

The Royal is a family run, traditional country hotel. It looked so beautiful in the lovely light of the summer afternoon with its contrasting colours of white, black and red framed by the rich blue of the sky. I wandered excitedly around the building and the garden with my camera clicking away.

Dockray is a very small, quaint and peaceful village with old stone houses, many of them whitewashed. There are quite a few gorgeous holiday cottages. As I admired them I thought what a perfect place to be based for a holiday with Ullswater and its lake attractions just a mile away, proximity of the spectacular Aira Force waterfall and two of  England's most well known fells, Helvellyn and Growbarrow, just a stone's throw away.

Dockray is surrounded by farmland and rolling valleys and nestles in the stunning lakeland countryside. I was itching to explore it, but it was time I went back to my company so I just grabbed a couple of shots from the edge of the village.

To round off our experience of this charming place we did return for an evening meal at the Royal. It was exquisitely home made and delicious. Both the hotel and the village are on my list of places to go back to when I am in the area next time.