Monday, 29 March 2010

Landscape - Assignment 1 - Notes

Spring - 12 images - this is so much harder to do than I originally thought. One reason might be that despite it technically being springtime there is little evidence at the moment. In fact from Lincolnshire northwards this week there could be 200mm of snow. Maybe I should go north a bit and get some winter shots, but I really think I will wait till start of winter this year. IN terms of landscape photographs I will stretch the boundaries a bit and include a few close ups (with very OOF backgrounds) and maybe something a bit abstract. Thinking of a shot through wet glass onto an indistinct landscape, sort of April showers type of thing. I really would like to do this without a lamb picture but, why not.

Started post processing a few images from this weekend. Just into Lincolnshire are some huge fields of daffodils. Normally the flowers are picked before they bloom so are never seen as yellow in the fields. Some however are very yellow this week as they will not be cut as flowers I think, but used as bulbs for next year. However, I needed to make sure my PP workflow was at its best, and I returned to NX2. Its not so intuitive as CS3 but it does produce stunning Tiff files from RAW. Images for printing will be left with capture sharpening only and be printed through Qimage. Qimage applies the correct print sharpening algorithm, relative to the print size and handles all my printing away from Cs3.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Landscape - Project 4 - Collage

I spent some time today trying to harvest images for Assignment 1. Images based around Springtime. But there is so little evidence of spring so that will have to wait. Project 4 wants images made as a collage, so the shoot today tried to make the best of a bad job and look for a suitable large pano type opportunity. That didn't work too well either. I did try one, just to master the technique, although the finished photograph is average to say the least. It didn't work at all in colour, so I have produced one in monochrome for the time being. More shooting needed and I will come back to this when there is better light.

Update April 3rd 2010

I have returned to this project after a fresh look at opportunities and some more photography.
The latest panoramic was taken with the D3 and 80-200 zoom at 155mm. ISO 200 1/40s f16 on the tripod.

The 4 images were stitched in CS3, with the usual levels adjusted , usm etc. to allow a critical view.

The first image is the unmodified 4 frame panorama. The stitching has worked well and there are no issues that need correcting with the clone tool. The view is unbalanced by the inclusion of the new farm building on the left hand side. This remark is entirely subjective and based on my perception of this scene being pastoral in a idyllic sense and the steel building is at odds therefore with the abbey and church in the distance.

The image below addresses the issue of "pastoral" by cropping out the farm building and in addition I have cropped it tighter to emphasise the panoramic composition.

Panoramic photography does not work well in the environment of the computer screen. Images need to be printed to large sizes to see the full benefit and a roll fed printer is essential.

As the opportunity arises I will come back to this project with new work, but for now this will do.

Notes for future reference.

  1. Use the tripod and have reference points to allow overlap
  2. Use a spirit bubble to level tripod/camera
  3. Use manual exposure methods, preferably incident readings
  4. Record blank frames both ends of a set to enable easier recovery on PC
  5. Works better with short telephoto lens, wide angle shots difficult to stitch
General Note
  1. A technique made possible by digital technology that has limited use.

Named degree

An announcement today on the OCA website that Photography and Painting are now to be separate named degrees. This is excellent news.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Landscape - Notes

I have been photographing the landscape for 30 years with mixed success. My first real exposure to "proper landscapes" bearing in mind I live in Norfolk, was in the late 80's when I first took a holiday in the Lake District. Lakeland Photographic Holidays was run in those days by David Dent ARPS. David was an inspiration and I was hooked on Cumbria and went there twice a year for many years, and produced a number of useful prints for camera club competitions. The current course however has made me think of landscape in a structured way that is far more demanding. The outcome, by way of images may be similar, but the requirement to think ahead and plan my work must be disciplined. The course is structured around the seasons and it is therefore essential that no opportunity is missed. The penalty is severe, miss springtime and you have to wait 12 months for it to come around again. Studying the weather forecast is essential, know what to expect after a cold front etc and suddenly you are consumed in meteorology.A cold front this week would be good. Bland white sky for the last 7 days is becoming tiresome. Researching areas close to home where suitable shots can be made is also essential. Although holidays to Cumbria etc can be made there are many images that are going to have to be made locally. Local knowledge and OS maps are essential. has an interview with Charlie Waite, who considers height to be essential and in Norfolk this is a resource I am going to struggle with.

Later in the course there is a requirement to study a chosen photographer with a reputation for landscape work. The list from which I can choose is:

  • Ansel Adams
  • Robert Adams
  • Fay Godwin
  • Edward Weston
  • Galen Rowell
A further assignment is to produce 12 photographs in the style of the chosen photographer.

All that springs to mind is my rather unkind comments from the past that dull rainy days in The Lakes were always called "Godwin" days.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Landscape - Project 3 - Panorama

Panorama - "an unobstructed and wide view of an extensive area in all directions" is the dictionary definition. Within the remit of this project I have not used a special camera. I have simply cropped suitable images down to an aspect ratio of approximately 3:1.

Landscape - Project 2 - Horizontal v vertical

Essentially landscapes have a horizontality that is considered natural for the viewer, either when viewing a scene or when looking at a photograph. Our natural field of view is horizontally biased, our eyes like to work that way and our neck assists in this movement. The world around us is also in that plane, computer screens and televisions all horizontally aligned. So, when asked to consider landscape in the vertical alignment, we need to accept that the image will change in composition. Peripheral vision will be lost and additional space becomes available to allow more foreground or more sky.
In the images below, shot during a bright March morning, the sky was featureless, although blue. Example No 1 is a simple view of an area of common land near Castle Acre in Norfolk. The horizontal view allows the large tree to sit within the landscape and allows the viewer to see the pasture and smaller trees. It is essentially pleasing and with the low horizon.
The vertical option allows the composition to become symmetrical and the whole of the tree is visible. It becomes a simple illustration of the tree and nothing more.

Example No 2 is in the same area and shows a green lane with an un-bridged ford. The horizontal option is balanced and has a pastoral feeling. The composition is natural in the sense that the features are on the thirds and the light and shade forms a natural vignette. The vertical option is in this case not too dissimilar and could be considered as an alternative. The dark areas to the right in the horizontal have naturally been cropped out and the introduction of the blue sky offers another colour to compliment the greens and browns. For publication purposes the vertical option would offer more for a page layout, due to the general "portrait" orientation of printed matter and the requirements for space to include text, in this case within the sky.

In addition, although not mentioned in the brief for the project I have included a square format image, Example No 3. Many photographers, including myself have used 6x6 roll film cameras and for a limited number of occasions, the square format is not unpleasant. The ford scene is not compromised by this format. The period look of a square image suits the composition and offers a balance that the other formats did not achieve.

As an exercise, to produce horizontal and vertical at the same location, this is quite difficult. I have shot landscapes before as vertical, but only when the scene allowed that as the better option for composition.

I hope to pursue this further, and hopefully include more examples at a later date.

(Click on images to open at full size)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Landscape - Project 1 - The horizon line

For this project I have used a simple rural landscape near Kings Lynn. The soil in the fields here is red due to underlying sandstone. To demonstrate the significance of how the image changes with the horizon at differing locations I choose a 35mm lens on a full frame dslr. I experimented with wider angle and telephoto lenses, only to find that neither worked as well for this illustration. Metering was manual and set for the fore / middle ground part of the field. All images ISO 320 1/160 f9

It is clear that the white overcast sky is poor in terms of content and for images No 1 and No 2 it dominates to an unacceptable extent. No 1 however would be a good choice for an image that commercially needed space of a large text overlay, and in a minimalist context is quite interesting.
No 3 is beginning to be more interesting as we can see more of the track and the shapes in the soil. It is however not one thing or another and the 50/50 split is annoying.
No 4 and No 5 are more interesting as we can see the shapes in the field and the sky is becoming less dominant. By almost excluding the sky in No 5 we are more conscious of the lines and shapes, as these are the only graphic shapes forming useful diagonal and Z lines.

The sky on this occasion had no detail, and the interest was in the shapes in the field and it's inclusion needs to be minimal. With a stormy or fair weather cumulus sky the photographs would need to be treated differently and consideration given to how the sky could balance the composition

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Photography 2 : Landscape - Schedule

So that some dates and deadlines are established I have prepared a schedule of dates and time durations. This is a pdf file so wont load to here. It can be seen at

This schedule takes no account of holidays, which may produce more or less work.

This is preliminary and needs verifying with my tutor

Photography 2 : Landscape - Getting Started

The course material, together with various booklets arrived on Monday 15th March. My reaction was to panic a bit and wish perhaps that I had made a mistake about doing this. The preparation for APEL, while following OCA guidelines had been all about me and what I had achieved in the past. My choices for that were mine and now I feel a little apprehensive, which is not uncommon for me.

However 2 days later, with all the forms filled in for OCA, BNU and contact made with my tutor, the housekeeping is done and I can read the contents. It is considerable, but when spread over a year, it is manageable. My day job is the planning for large civil engineering projects. I see no reason why I shouldn't do a bar chart for this project. It will be a good visual aid to seeing the forthcoming year and help with some forward planning of shooting for the seasonal requirement. In my industry we have a catchphrase " If you fail to plan, then you have planned to fail" So, rather than rushing off out with the camera I think some time spent reading the project and assignment briefs, thinking of known locations and how they may serve the tasks and researching some new will be time well spent. Spring is late here in Norfolk by about 4 weeks, so there is still time to photograph it.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

APEL Result

The OCA have awarded me all 120 points from my application. What a relief !!.
Course work is on its way for Level 2 Landscape and the real work begins from here.

Note added. The OCA are using the APEL submission on their website as an example. It can be found here