While the Sun Shines | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, colour, landscape, nature, photography, summer

Making Hay.


As I looked out of my living-room window yesterday morning and, to the fields opposite, it was clear to me that it is again that time of year. Oddly, as the years pass, certain annual events seem to come more quickly than ever before, and, so soon, it’s baling season once more. Part of me would love to live in or close to a city, with amazing architecture and dazzling lighting; interesting folk too busy to notice another would-be street photographer, perhaps. But I live in the country and so, the country revolves around my life, I suppose. For years, I have been meaning to get out and shoot the fields dotted with their bales under warm evening, late-summer sunshine and I have always either missed the opportunities or, just been too lazy to create them. Until this year. Being right outside my door, for me to have not made these frames would have been a personal crime.

(The first three frames were obviously captured during daylight hours, but the last exposure (of 30″ at ISO:100) was captured around 10pm – as baling continued well into the night.)

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I.

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II.

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It is my plan to publish three posts in this series because, not only have I used visible light to capture the scenes (as in this post), but, as regular readers may well suspect, I have made a number of infrared captures of different wavelengths, too. Starting with the visible-light frames I believe is the more natural way to start this little series off but it will, I hope, become very clear as to how alternative wavelengths and focal-lengths can offer a very different visual perspective to similar compositions, in the posts to come. 

As one apt old saying goes – we must make hay, while the sun shines. (With camera in-hand, who am I to argue with that?)

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III.

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IV.

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(Part II can be visited here.)
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Photographing for Black & White or Colour | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, boats, close-up, colour, infrared, landscape, nature, photography, spring, summer, waterscape

Discussing the Age-Old Debate.


Not wishing to make it sound like I’m imagining the two forms in a boxing ring, I use the word ‘or‘ instead of ‘versus‘. It’s not a win or lose decision, nor should it be a fight between the two so, I’ll get this said right off the bat – there’s absolutely no wrong answer. The simple reason for this is that both colour and monochrome have their place in photography and this has always been the case since the advent of colour photography back in 1861. We see in colour, for one thing, so that alone should give colour output the edge, right? Well, as it happens, no, not at all. What I’m hoping to achieve here is to pass on a collection of my own personal, simple thoughts on a subject that never seems to go away, and, which may help anyone considering this very question with the intent of applying such notions to their own work. Although it’s a question that I have considered during almost every shoot or processing session, I believe, for myself at least – that I have simplified the issue to a point that now, for me, it’s no longer a difficult decision. Perhaps this will help others too and, whilst I may not be considered an authority on the subject, well over twenty years behind the lens affords me a pretty full insight. Pinch of salt, an’ all that – but read on if you’re interested.

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In the Dog-House? | 720nm Infrared

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You may have gotten bored already and zipped down the page, noticing that I have only posted black and white images here. This is deliberate. No, I do not shun colour output, nor do I dislike it. I simply feel that if colour output is desired, the colours in the frame should be the sole reason I realised that I wanted to create it in the first place. Whilst I might produce an aesthetically pleasing BW from the colour RAW too, this would not discourage me from preferring the colour version. I’m getting a little ahead of myself at this point, so let me back-up a tad. What I should have said was that, I prefer black and white output, black and white prints, even previewing in black and white in camera. My brain just seems to think better in black and white. But it’s not for everyone and, learning to see light and dark colours as shades of grey came with time – but it’s how my brain interprets a scene more naturally than it does so at interpreting and processing colour, unless, the colours create something special. But black and white should not be (as it so often is) seen as the grail, in photography or, the best way to see an image. I can understand why many do, and yet, I also – can’t. It’s subjective, of course. Like colour, it’s a mode of expression, often over or under utilised. I know this to be true because I have been very guilty of this, too many times. 

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Horse-Chestnut or, Sticky Bud.

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For sure, the very first reason anyone should create either in colour or monochrome is – personal preference. However, I find colour distracting, largely unimportant and, mostly unnecessary; in the main. As one having way more than a passing interest in photography, my learned and experienced notions of light, composition, message and interpretation, contrast, texture, scene or frame interest – all of these things and more besides, reside in my brain and help me to make what I hope to be a successful image. Whether there is colour or not, doesn’t even become a consideration to me, unless, as I have mentioned, the colours have shouted at me already. Sometimes they do, mostly though, they don’t. If I make a shit frame – it’s my own fault and in no way is the presence or absence of colour responsible for it. 

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The Wellspring | Full-Spectrum.

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Rather than wax-on, paragraph by paragraph (the last thing I wish to induce is reader-fatigue, or even worse, your waking up to find your keyboard imprinted on your forehead!) – I shall instead, bullet the main points which I believe are most conducive to each output. Please remember, these are simply elements which work for me and, I speak for or against no-one else’s opinion. Hopefully, some of this will explain itself. 


Considerations for Colour Output:

  • Personal preference (either for screen viewing or, for actual prints).
  • When more accurate or  representational reproduction is required.
  • When presenting colours and shades create a desired contrast by their very existence (in other words, the colours are the actual reason you make the frame).
  • When the distraction of colour does not overpower the message of the image.
  • When a potentially lesser contrasty or less punchy image is desired – where heavier contrast would interfere with colour intensity, textures or overall / general dynamics.
  • Lower ISO usage where higher ISOs would increase colour noise (though with good APS-C and FF sensors, this is way less of an issue than it once was).
  • When shooting longer wavelength IR.

Considerations for Black & White Output:

  • Personal preference (either for screen viewing or actual prints).
  • When a more ‘artistic’ look and/or feel is required. No, colour is not unartistic per-se, but the brain processes in colour and therefore, any black and white image causes it to reinterpret in, for want of a better description, a more artistic way. 
  • When the removal of colour allows for greater appreciation and, undestracted absorption of the content.
  • When greater contrast may be utilised to increase the punch of an image.
  • When shooting at higher film speeds where otherwise shooting on colour would not necessarily be conducive to higher noise values.
  • When the content of the image speaks for itself and does not require the use of colour to emphasise itself.
  • To remove the illusion or potential appearance of an era or time-frame; this is dependent on content, of course.
  • When WB cannot be pre-set accurately or, is unlikely to be achieved in post.
  • When content, light, contrast and texture are the image key there is often little requirement for colour.
  • When shooting infrared: longer wavelengths can yield pleasant faux-colour results with knowledge and experience, shorter wavelengths, less so, once you head north of 720nm.

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Telford Woz ‘ere… | 720nm Infrared.

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Many of these elements are of course, by our own nature and preferences, completely subjective and your views or interpretations may differ; though not all of these principles can work for every subject, I have found them to be extremely useful for me as starting points when I make the choice to reproduce in either colour or monochrome. For posts containing glorious colour please take a look at any of these posts: Travelling Light, Closer Still(s) PT.IIPT.IIIPT.IV or, click the colour tag on any of my entries and, feel free to have a mooch. If you got this far – thanks for bearing with me (and, I’m sure that those little square imprints in your forehead will disappear shortly!)

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Thank you.

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Infrared Lucidity | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, landscape, nature, photography, spring, summer, trees, waterscape

Monochrome Waterscaping | 720nm Infrared.


I. From a Bridge:

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II. To a Bridge:

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Thank you.

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Closer Still(s) | PT.VI | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring, summer

Dent de Lion.


We call it the Dandelion, from the French meaning ‘lion’s tooth’; but it has many more names, not oft’ used or heard such as: cankerwort, swine’s snout, witch’s or, yellow-gowan, monks-head, milk-witch, blowball, Irish daisy, priest’s-crown, wet-a-bed (presumably because of the diuretic effect of its roots when ingested), and, white or, wild-endive. No matter what we call it here in most parts of the UK, it’s generally regarded as a weed (but this is more than likely promoted as such by chemical companies producing consumer lawn and garden-care.) Nonetheless, though the humble dandelion is an all-too-common sight at this time of year, it would be a mistake to think that it wouldn’t be worthy of a frame or two. 

[Each image resized for web & may be tapped / clicked to open in a new tab / window]

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II.
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III.
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Thank you.

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A Little Seasoning | 35:Chronicle

35mm, autumn / fall, black & white, infrared, nature, photography, spring, summer, winter

Not Exactly Vivaldi.


This is a good thing. Whilst I enjoy music in many forms, Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ (most of it anyway, and, to my ears) sounds like perpetual motion for the sheer sake of it; long-winded and rather too repetitive for my liking. But still, this post has nothing to do with Vivaldi’s most popular pieces and I dare say, photographically, my present offerings will never even touch the sides of the adulation which he would have enjoyed from his own interpretations. Nonetheless, my offerings are short, (hopefully) sweet and, won’t annoy anyone’s eardrums, either. So, it’s all good, no? (Unless you’re a particular fan of the Big ‘V’ – in which case you’re probably reading somebody else’s pages already and this scribble is all rather redundant.) Still, as the first warm days of spring arrive to lighten the heart and stir the spirit, here is my little take on each of the seasons, with a doff of my cap, a wry smile and an anticipation of the changes to come.

My lens will be ready.


Spring Daffodils | 720nm Infrared

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Summer Shade | 720nm Infrared

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Autumn Mist

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Winter Closure

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Thank you.