Inside Thirlstane Arch | PT.II of II | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, personal, photography

Overseeing? | Internal Dialogue.


Eddie Van Halen once answered (while being interviewed for a famous rock magazine in the 80s) a question as to his playing style, most specifically, his soloing techniques. As I recall, he explained that when he constructs solos – he likened it to “falling helplessly down a long staircase but landing on my feet”. The reason I mention this, is because though I imagined this post to just be another few images of what some might see as ‘just another rock’, I have ended up writing… stuff. A ramble, if you like. I just hope that by the end of it, I also land on mine; and though I have little sense of thought-structure right now, the top of the staircase is in full and daunting view and, I am left feeling as though my shoes are on the wrong way round, laces untied.

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IV | 35mm – 720nm Infrared.

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When it comes to a scene, where compositional possibilities are somewhat limited (either by subject, angle, light or, our own abilities) what would be the point in taking  just one or two frames and walking away? If a scene makes me buzz, I hang around – explore it, and keep shooting. Not for the sake of it, though. There’s nothing more tedious than going through the editing process later, and knowing that 75% of my frames are destined for the bin before I’ve even begun looking  at them. Spray and pray? Not my style, at all. So, purposeful engagement with a pleasing subject, loaded with potential compositional snaggery (I don’t believe this is actually a word but, it works for me) can often be beautifully rewarding. Impatience has no place here. Instead, time, exploration, looking, seeing and the changing of shooting techniques (and yes, different wavelengths too) – are all keys to finding a different view of what, on first appearance to the human eye, might have been quite – normal. Unremarkable, even. Like a rock, perhaps.

Without direction, by perhaps explaining just why, what or how I saw or appreciated any given composition, I prefer instead to not influence a pattern of thought in a viewer and allow elements to come to the fore – or not, for that person. As you are reading this too, for you. Should not the very initial dialogue between the image and the seer, be internal? Seeing is a very personal thing, isn’t it? Whether you might (or, not) see what I see, or saw – is of little consequence to me personally and though this probably sounds dismissive, arrogant, cold or selfish, even, this would be as far from the truth of it as the stars must be. The freedom to perceive is the right of one and, the only wish I have is that you’ll enjoy even some of my frames, in whatever ways you see them. When someone, anyone, says to me that something I have seen resonated with them also has to be the biggest compliments I can imagine, and yet, often, I will hear or read words suggesting that something that I didn’t see – did the same thing. And so I keep learning to ‘see’ more effectively. By listening, too, I learn to look. The reason I mention any of this comes from my own internal dialogues of late; the ones that ask me to answer questions – begging answers in explanation as to why I do this in this first place. 

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V | 35mm – VIS.

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Before I attempt to answer my own question(s) I must explain though, as the idea for this particular post seemed to be a natural sequel to my previous, my first few frames from Thirlstane, there were to be no paragraphs, no sentences, no stringing together of words – at all. I figured that all that I wanted to say was already written in PT.I. The introduction and the conclusion. Still, as others have also poignantly written, sometimes the words come when we least expected them to and, other times, we ache to write something, stare at a blank screen and poke our brains for what feels like mini-aeons, and – nothing comes out from the fingertips. Whatever the intention, the reality of creativity seems to seek itself out and, as a conduit for whatever is or isn’t inside us, we do or we just – don’t. I think it’s as simple as that.

Conscious creativity seems to me, the very hardest part of making images. I don’t know if I’m answering my own questions but the nearest I can get to concluding why I shoot, think and continue to explore photography is the simple knowledge that I do not believe I’ve made all that I can make. I haven’t seen my best photograph because I haven’t made it yet. I haven’t explored the full possibilities of what my own limitations will allow me to see and make, with light and shadow. Though I search, sometimes painfully consciously for creativity, it seems to me that when I just relax with it, don’t push myself to make anything happen, instead just capturing what I see, trusting what I do know and being relaxed with variables – even by accident and not even thinking about every single element, I find ridiculous amounts of enjoyment in seeing a moment; and then, feeling the camera in my hand, stealing it.

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VI | 35mm – VIS.

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Not for recognition, not for the struggle or competition, not for anything else except the pure enjoyment, the passion, the constant pre-excitation – for discoveries; and, being able to share it. What is a picture without anyone there to look inside it?  

Perhaps I’ve just landed? Only you know the answer to that one.

R.

[Frames V & VI: X100T | Frame IV: X100 720nm Conversion]
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Inside Thirlstane Arch | PT.I of II | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, photography

On Being Prepared.


Barely a few miles from our county’s popular resort of Southerness is situated the picturesque inlet and beach of Powillimount (pron: po-wil-i-mont). I’d never heard of it (despite having lived around here for almost twenty years). The weather wasn’t great, but the kids (who had been before) wanted to go back and find the ‘cave’, again. Me? I was going because I was promised a delicious fish ‘n’ chips with curry sauce, afterwards. It was a grey day, chilly, with the sun making only fleeting appearances between larger cloud-pockets. Nonetheless, I took cameras for both visible and infrared opportunities – should they have arisen. It’s impossible to know beforehand. I remember, before moving to Scotland, being told that if going out for a whole day in shorts, that I should also take an overcoat; and if it’s raining when heading out, not to forget my Factor 30. It’s kind of true – and I’m grateful for that. On arrival, rather than walk the beach, we headed straight for the ‘cave’, just a few minutes walk away. As it turns out, the ‘cave’ happens to be the Thirlstane; rather  popular for climbers and, clamberers alike – and, photographers, too. Goodie!

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I. | 35mm -VIS.

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While the boys clambered or kicked the football on the beach, hunted for ‘fossils’ or swirled sticks in low-tide rock-pools, A and I sat and took in the view out across the Solway towards a hazy Cumbrian coastline, and the peace (between childish cries of discovery, astonishment, self-congratulation, or any of the frequent, “Watch this!” moments. The whole time, as we chatted, I kept my eyes open, for light; and after the best part of an hour, it arrived. Sliding my backside off a low rock, I took a wander around and, made a few frames. The Arch itself however, was the only part I could consider worthy of photographic appreciation, so, I concentrated here. 

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II. | 35mm – 720nm Infrared.

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Shooting both visible light and at 720nm renders  light so wonderfully differently and though both set-ups have their own characteristics, I will always have a preference for IR for conducive subjects under suitable light, to visible-light. However – on days like this, having a small collection of the same scenes photographed using both bands of wavelengths, lends to the eyes an absolutely gorgeous comparison which I am hopeful (yet, also certain) upon review, of not actually needing to explain.

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III. | 35mm – VIS.

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Getting an exposure balanced just right is tricky when the difference between shade and light is so great, still, I am very happy with these few frames and, I do hope you’ll have enjoyed this first instalment.

R.

[Frames I & III: X100T | Frame II: X100 720nm Conversion]
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In the Still of the Light | PT.IV | 720nm IR | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins

The Ruin at the Cross | Finale.


Having had the pleasure of trying out my new GR conversion last week, I now have the pleasure of sharing with you the last two infrared frames, bagged during my saunter around the old church at the Cross, not far from my home. I have always enjoyed how the GR allows me to reproduce texture, contrast and visual detail (though, ironically perhaps, I care little for actual sharpness) especially as I shoot almost exclusively for black and white and, having this second GR in my bag (or occasionally, my pocket) really does extend potentials for  light-weight, no-fuss photography  – both for visible-light captures and for alternative wavelengths. 

I hope that these frames are as pleasing to your eye, as they are to mine. (Roll on, spring).

R.

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(Both images photographed with a 450nm internally converted Ricoh GR, + front-mounted Hoya R72 IR filter.) 

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In the Still of the Light | PT.III | 720nm IR | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins

The Ruin at the Cross | PT.II.


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(Both images photographed with a 450nm internally converted Ricoh GR, + front-mounted Hoya R72 IR filter.) 


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In the Still of the Light | PT.II | 720nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

black & white, infrared, photography, ruins, structures

The Ruin at the Cross | PT.I.


These two frames are a taster of perhaps a few more to come, from a nearby church ruin. The fact that this single-storey derelict has its windows boarded-up is a little bit of a mystery to me and, a slight disappointment as it does rather mean that I can’t use those wonderful apertures as any kind of focal-point in any of my pictures. On the other hand, I am forced to put in more effort in my search for pleasing angles and views, and on such a day, I couldn’t think of anything better to do, than just that. 

(Both images photographed with a 450nm internally converted Ricoh GR, + front-mounted Hoya R72 IR filter at 28mm.) 

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First Shot from Ricoh GR 450nm Conversion | 715nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, photography, urban

Decisions, Decisions.


If you’re not interested in camera gear or those of us who harp on about it from time to time, you may want to switch the channel. Still, I’m not going to write a huge spiel here – not yet; there’ll be plenty of time for that, I know. However, what I will say is that last week, I received my latest alternative-wavelength conversion, in the form of my ol’ Ricoh GR. It’s had it’s internal IR-blocking filter removed, and that in turn has been replaced with 450nm glass, allowing me to shoot some lovely, detailed split-spectrum black and whites which will also absorb IR wavelengths under bright, outdoor light along with visible light above the 450nm threshold. Obviously, the the first reason I wanted this is because it’ll allow me to use IR filters of different wavelengths and, I can shoot it alongside my standard GR too without the need for a bag. My pair of Fujis need the bag but these two fit right in my jacket pockets without any fuss at all.  Insosaying, I took the bike out today, two GRs barely noticeable in the lower pockets of my jacket, and went for a leisurely spin. Those shots will come – but this one, was the first frame I bagged a few days ago (shot with a variable IR Gradient filter set to around 715nm, on the front element). 

The resolving power of this thing is just nuts despite the fact that this was shot using the GRs slightly lower resolution 35mm internal crop mode (in order to avoid vignetting from the hood). Though I have yet to compare its output with my 720nm converted X100 – for what I need, I know already it’s going to be impossible to have a preference. 

If you’re a fan of black and white IR, I hope you’ll appreciate this one. Experiment, play, repeat.

(A.V – thank you, my friend. It’s perfect!)

R.

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Peek-a-Boo | 35mm | 715nm Infrared.

IR000661

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Every (Bloody) Penny | Princes Street, Edinburgh | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, photography, structures, urban

No Complaints – Honest!


Last year, during another of my annual pilgrimages to Edinburgh in order to enjoy some of the silly-season’s festivities, I did what I always do not long after I arrive – that is, to pay nothing short of a small fortune to board the Edinburgh Wheel at Princes Street Gardens and, make three full rotations before being booted-off. (One has to laugh, I suppose.) However, though I utterly begrudge the abusing of the general good-nature and festive-charity of the average, joy-seeking tourist, I can’t complain one bit when I have come away with a few frames that I couldn’t possibly have got, without having been royally fleeced, beforehand. So, here are my two chosen frames from inside my pod at the very top of the slowly rotating Ferris-wheel – looking out first over Princes Street Gardens, Waverley Station and towards the Royal Mile, and secondly, through the car’s rain-smeared window at the Scott Monument and along Princes Street itself. In a nutshell? For me anyway, worth every bloody penny!

R.

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I | Princes Street Gardens, Waverley, Royal Mile | 35mm.

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II | Scott Monument, Princes Street | 35mm.

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Views from a Ridge | PT.IV | 35:Chronicle

28mm, black & white, infrared, landscape, photography

Portrait of Talla. 

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Small Beginnings | 28mm – 760nm Infrared.

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Morton Castle Ruins, Scotland | PT.III – Finale | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, landscape, photography, ruins, structures, waterscape

Its Place in Time.


At the risk of posting somewhat predictably of late, I can safely say that this is to be the last in my recent series of images taken at Morton. Since visiting, despite the awfulness of the weather and light-conditions at the time, it should be of no surprise that I fully intend to return to the ruins as soon as I possibly can; hopefully when conditions are far more conducive to my intentions, perhaps. Such a place is somewhat of a rarity – though local landscapes are abound with dilapidated historical and dare I say, romantic relics, however, Morton has a situation, a place-in-time so to speak, that can render one utterly speechless simply for the sight of it. Though I did try to capture the site from a number of angles and perspectives which might express just how romantic this place is, I know that I can do better. Finer weather would be a real treat, though. Yes, I shall certainly return – and, it won’t be a day too soon. 

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VII. | Morton Castle & Loch | 35mm.

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VIII. | East-Side D-Turret | 35mm.

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IX. | East-Nor-East [II] | 35mm.

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I very much hope that you’ll have enjoyed this series. 

R.


(For more images in this series, simple click on the ‘morton castle’ tag.)
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Morton Castle Ruins, Scotland | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, landscape, photography, ruins, structures, waterscape

Solitude.


Occasionally, words only serve to get in the way. 

R.

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IV. | Morton Castle | 35mm.

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V. | Morton, from the Dam [II] | 35mm.

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VI. | Westerly, over Morton Loch | 35mm.

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(For more images in this series, simple click on the ‘morton castle’ tag.)
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Morton Castle Ruins, Scotland | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, landscape, photography, ruins, structures, waterscape

For E.J. Dexter, et al.


Merely a name – painstakingly, thoughtfully carved into a door that is certainly nowhere near as old as the ruins themselves, still, looking at every carving – it is eery to almost feel the presence of so many visitors (perhaps even occupants) from the past. Morton Castle dates back to the 12th Century and, has been deconstructed, burned down, rebuilt and, has changed hands (and purpose) a good number of times in its long history. Much of that may have been well documented, however, there remains much mystery still about the place.

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I. |  Scores on the Doors | 35mm.

Morton Castle, Nr.Thornhill

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It will be all too apparent that I love old, ancient, historical buildings. Mostly though (in my laziness I suppose) it’s mainly a structural interest, a personal fascination owed to the immense ingenuity and graft (and time) that has been used or spent to create such unbelievable places, observing their spaces and  surroundings – even feeling their purpose. Yes, Morton has true presence. On arrival, the weather was probably of the worst kind for making photographs – I would not be capturing in infrared today. The sky, a heavy grey, the drizzle constant and, the clouds were getting lower over the nearby hills; but, my word – what an atmosphere. Like a child in a proverbial sweet-shop, I flipped constantly between excitement and fascination as I tried to take it all in. My brain couldn’t absorb it quickly enough; and the rain, though with small pockets of respite, was getting a tad heavier. 

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II. | Morton, from the Dam | 35mm.

Morton Castle, Nr.Thornhill

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On the east side of the ruin, at the base of the mound upon which it sits, is situated a dam that was built around the early 19th century, to purposely flood what was then marshland, in order that Morton Loch could be created and, it surrounds the site on three of its sides. Thus, in its elevated position, surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery and calm waters, even the dullness of the day could not spoil a single part of it. The only sounds to be heard were those of gentle breezes, the occasional oyster-catcher in the distance and, regular footfalls in the thick, sodden grasses. The fact that my camera was catching water from the persistent light rain did not deter me either. I honestly think that I would have sacrificed it just to get the shots that I did. With not another soul within miles, the isolation felt truly breath-taking and, on a finer day – I will (happily) spend many, many hours here. Nonetheless, the moodiness of the day lent its artistic hand to Morton’s space, a new beat in my chest that instils passions renewed and, a fierce anticipation of returning.

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III. | East-Nor-East | 35mm.

Morton Castle, Nr.Thornhill

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Perfectly ‘Scotland’? On a day such as this – yes, most certainly!

I do hope that you enjoy this, my first instalment of Morton Castle – it’s a very special place to which I am sure very few photographs can possibly do justice. (For more images in this series, simple click on the ‘morton castle’ tag.)

R. 

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Once Upon Us – Time | 720nm IR | 35:Chronicle

black & white, boats, infrared, photography

Rusted, Weathered & Rudderless.


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Stone, Cold, Hazy | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, photography, ruins, structures

Sweetheart Abbey.


The ruins of Sweetheart Abbey stand on the edge of the village of New Abbey, not even a ten minute drive from Dumfries along the Solway coast-road. On this particular day, temperatures were freezing and, the fog was thick, still I made my way in the hope that I might make some frames of this lovely structure in the mists. As I suspected, there were no other visitors on this day which would have made composition and exclusion a lot simpler however,  sadly, on arrival, I discovered that around 40% of the site was clad high in scaffolding and, almost half of the grounds were cordoned-off with temporary fences covered with CCTV warnings and police signage. Bit of a mood-killer, to say the least. With a little careful framing, however, I was able to grab a few frames of this gorgeous structure – not quite what I intended when I set out, but – almost close. 

I hope you’ll enjoy these few, only slightly misty captures.

R.

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Fujifilm X100 720nm IR Conversion | First Outing | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, photography

‘X’ Hits the Spot.


To begin, this isn’t a review. I dare say there will be thousands of them out there for the basic / standard camera anyway so what would be the point? But if you enjoy IR photography and have ever wondered if a a great fixed-lens, single focal-length camera is worth converting, I may be able to persuade you. Please bear with me.

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I | 35mm | 1/170th – F8 – ISO320 | 720nm IR.

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Okee-dokee – this might seem like a bonkers time of year to try out a new IR set-up and, you’d be forgiven for believing so. Winter infrared photography was something that I never really considered either, until recently which, in itself, is completely barmy seeing as how I have been shooting IR for over twelve years now. One might be forgiven for asking me (rather sternly, I might add) what the heck I’ve been playing at? Still, I have discovered the joys of shooting infrared all year round and, it’s a knowledge that I am utterly delighted to have. Naturally, (after the brightness of the spring and summer months here in the Northern Hemisphere) during autumn, after deciduous trees lose their leaves, hunting for interesting, engaging rural scenes and subjects with any kind of visual impact under infrared wavelengths can sometimes be a little tricky, however, ignore the stereotyping for this kind of alternative wavelength photography and it’s not difficult to see that with good, undiffused sunlight and an interesting subject – there’s no time of year that renders IR photography a pointless pursuit. It merely requires a change of outlook and, not a lot else. [View post #101 for an example – caught on New Year’s day.]

For around eight years now, I have been a Fuji-X shooter. I can’t say that I have been exclusive to this system during this time but, there have been very few months over this period (comparably) where I’ve not had one in my bag or more importantly, in front of my leading-eye. Another favourite system of mine over this entire time has also been Ricoh’s GXR (APS-C) system . Both outfits in their various guises have served me terrifically in not only visible light photography but also for IR and full-spectrum. The GXR has been a mainstay for me in alternative wavelength shooting and without my good friend, The Doctor, down in Guildford, I’d have known none of these systems. Every single conversion I’ve ever wanted, he has patiently created for me and I can take nothing away from him when it comes to my own enjoyment of the genre. However, the bag was getting heavier (again) and like most photographers, I needed to ‘spring-clean’ my gear and, rethink. That’s when I asked my good friend, once more, if he might create what was to become one of my personal Holy Trinity of cameras. Of course, because I am writing this, you know already that he came through, in style.

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II | 35mm | 1/180th – F8 – ISO320 | 720nm IR.

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The only X100 model that I’ve not owned / shot with is the ‘F’. Sure, I wanted one but I’m not the kind of chap to always want the newest sensor, hardware – anything, really. I desire a certain kind of output (most usually for black and white) and this is why I have stuck with Ricoh for so, so long. (Out of interest, if indeed you are interested, another of my Trinity happens to be my GR (1st APS-C model) for this very reason – as well as a few other important ones, too). As the X100 line evolved, so did the X-Trans sensor and, no matter how much I liked future iterations of that sensor, I could never get away from the fact that the first iteration was, for me anyway, more organic in output. I don’t give a monkey’s **** about MP – just show me some output-quality and good all-round performance and I’ll be on my knees, but while the first model in this line was a little less refined, hardware-wise, when I was thinking about a dedicated 35mm FoV IR conversion, I couldn’t think of any other camera that would or could fit the bill better than this one. I couldn’t imagine, after a couple of years using and experiencing the files from the ‘S’ too, that either that or the ‘T’ would come close to the rendering of the first, under IR light. There were issues with the latter two’s sensors in my opinion. There were other, practical reasons also for sticking with the line.

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III | 35mm | 1/340th – F8 – ISO320 | 720nm IR.

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For a start, it uses the same batteries (predictably) as my main 35mm FoV squeeze, the X100T. It weighs about the same and, whilst the button layouts are a tad different, I can interchange pretty quickly between the two of them without having to take my eye away from the viewfinder. I’ve used both of them for more than long enough to know them pretty well and, as I found out today, using them in unison on the same shoots, is a breeze. Also, they weigh so little as to render them perfect for that kind of caper. Naturally, all the accessories and filters are interchangeable too; (I don’t use many but, it’s an obvious bonus). 

Over a fortnight had passed after I received my X100 IR conversion and with work commitments and poor light on free days keeping me back, today was a true gift.  To say that I have been itching to get out and play with it is a veritable understatement. I also know that there are others who read my pages and sometimes contact me on the subject too, who may also be interested in what or how I shoot or process. I have been a little lazy on the subjects of techniques, I know – and I guess I have always figured that there are so many photographers who like to pass on that kind of knowledge that perhaps the world doesn’t need yet another one; besides, everyone  finds their own path eventually, either by investigation, tuition or, dogged experimentation (or as I call it, constant faffing around with my equipment – ahem!) That is not to say that I am not happy to help or join anyone who wishes to learn or share information – insomuch as my experience may allow, so please, do feel free to drop me a line or a comment if you wish. 

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IV | 35mm | 1/180th – F8 – ISO320 | 720nm IR.

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Clearly, I have not yet explored the possibilities of this new conversion, spring is a while away yet, but I can honestly say that if these few frames, taken just an hour before the Golden Hour on a cold, sunny, winter’s day in Kippford are anything to go by, it’s going to be another very enjoyable year in photography. Thank you for reading, thank you, Amar (again!) and, I hope you’ll all enjoy these few inaugural frames. (Please click the infrared tag for other IR posts, if you’re interested.)

R.

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

35mm, black & white, close-up, infrared, macro, nature, photography

Sterling Moss | Reprise.


Way back in May last year, I posted a few frames snagged of the moss on my garden wall. Not hugely interesting, to many I am sure, and in review, I have caught far better. One of the aspects of any image that I choose to make that I find is very important is, quite simply, to try to capture a different view of things; not necessarily unusual, rather – a view not too often seen by the many of us who don’t stop from time to time to observe, or seek. I am still very guilty of this – though not always. This is why, in contrast to the visible-light frames that I had posted in #24 – I have decided that these are more preferable and, a little more interesting, to me at least. I do love ‘delicate’. I hope that you’ll enjoy them, too. 

R.

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I | Moss Inside Droplets | VIS | 35mm.

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II | Moss | 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

35chronicle.107 (1)

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III | Moss Inside Droplets [II] | VIS | 35mm.

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HOME A RATIONALE | LIGHT-WAVES | ARCHIVES | LINKS
Thank you for visiting. If you would like updates, please click Follow. All Images & Posts © 35:Chronicle (2018, 2019) except where specified. No Copying or Redistribution of any kind is permitted without prior consent from the author, unless links to original work is clearly provided. 35chronicle@gmx.com 
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