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

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography

Moss, Inside Droplets |  A Colour Excursion.


Two days ago I posted a few close-ups (almost macro, maybe) of a little of the moss on my garden wall, after a light drizzle. As many of you who read my posts and view my work, it will be all too apparent that my preferred medium is black and white and, as such, I tend to think in this way when I am envisioning and composing a shot. Still, there are many who like a little colour and I cannot neglect those of you either. Though I shoot and post for myself (don’t take that the wrong way, only, I resist the temptation to shoot or process images based on expectation of any audience) I do sometimes process for colour representation, just – not very often (unless the colours are the reason that I want to make the frame in the first place). On this day, when I made these shots, the light was rather flat; however – diffuse, cloudy light can be rather useful for evening out exposures and, also, can render saturation of colour far more pleasingly than harsh or direct light. As such, for Rajeev and for Quy, and anyone else who might have wondered how I would have seen the images of #107 in colour – here they are. I can only hope that they were worth your wondering. (I haven’t included the IR frame – false colour infrared really doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid).

[On a slightly technical note – I love to use minimal equipment and carry as little as I possibly can. Not many of us like gear or choice to get in the way of how we shoot and I am a huge fan of minimal.  With that said, I have no need for a dedicated macro lens and, while my normal 35mm FoV lens focuses down to a minimum of around 6″ (I just have to be more careful not to block the light I wish to use, and predictably, the wider the lens, the harder it becomes) – I get a lot closer when I pop my Hoya +10 on the front of it. The +10 was also used for these frames, though not at closest focus distance.]

I do hope you’ll enjoy these few captures.

R.

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2018 Photographic Review | 35:Chronicle

28mm, 35mm, 50mm, black & white, boats, close-up, colour, faux-colour, Indoor, infrared, landscape, macro, nature, personal, photography, review, skies, spring, structures, trees, waterscape

One Hundred to One.


Seeing as how this post happens to be my one hundredth, it’s actually ninety-nine into one . Since I began this blog back in March, I have also enjoyed the works and posts of so many of you and, if there could be more hours in a day, there would be many more besides, too, providing me with no less enjoyable learning, entertainment or, food for thought. I have also, over the last ten months, hoped to provide some interest in the field of photography, my own takes from various genres of our art-form which I feel so passionate about. Without the love for it, the desire to (hopefully) create something a little different on occasion or, the discipline to stay true, it’s all for nothing. Insosaying, I hope with all the passion that I have for various genres of photography, that my sincerity is not only intact but also, perhaps more importantly, unmistakably evident.

As this year now tick-tocks on to draw its last, making way for the next, I would like not only to thank you most sincerely for your input, your comments, clicks, follows and conversations, but to wish every one of you a very happy New Year for 2019. Your presence here is just as important as my own works, because without a reader, a word or a picture – would be pointless. Therefore, if you will forgive my indulgence, I would like to share with you all just some of my favourite frames from this inaugural year on 35:Chronicle.  I truly hope that you will enjoy them.

Wishing you all wonderful celebrations and, much happiness from the coming year.

Warmest regards,

Rob. 

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Snowdrops | 35mm.

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Telford Woz ‘Ere! | 720nm Faux-Colour Infrared | 35mm.

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Double-Masted | 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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Bluebell | 35mm.

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Broom | 35mm.

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Milkbank House Ruins | 760nm Infrared | 28mm.

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Talla Reservoir | 760nm Infrared | 28mm.

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Talla’s Monitoring Station | 720nm Infrared | 50mm.

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How the Other Half Live | 720nm Infrared | 35mm.

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Sir Duncan Rice Library | University of Aberdeen | 28mm.

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Moonrise | 720nm Infrared | 85mm.

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Grandeur | 35mm.

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Happy New Year 2019, to You All!

R.


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Closer Still(s) | PT.XVI | Orchid [B&W PT.II] | 35:Chronicle

black & white, close-up, macro, nature, photography

Light, Shadow & Form.


This is the penultimate post in this latest series of images from the humble orchid, which resides and, seems to be thriving, happily in my living room. I cannot say that I prefer the colour frames previously posted in PT.XV – for the light, shadow and form which I feel when I see these frames in black and white, grabs my attention without any distraction. The qualities which for me, make this subject so beautiful, are not enhanced one iota by their colour. I wonder how many might feel or see the same. If I have done any justice to this little flower in these few captures, then, maybe you will?

R.

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I. [33mm f8.0]

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II. [33mm f14]

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III. [33mm f8.0]

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[To view other posts in this series, please click the ‘orchid’ tag].

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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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Closer Still(s) | PT.XV | Orchid | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, macro, nature, photography

On Expiration (or, Breathing Out).


V.

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Before I write about the content of this post, I would first of all like to extend something to all of you who read and, follow my pages. I am never quite certain as to just why the the number ‘100’ is quite so significant, however, for some reason, it seems to be the case – for, yesterday, 35:Chronicle received its 100th follower. It’s not a number that I was waiting for, and, whilst I love statistics (though I don’t view them as often as I used to) – I do this for the love of it, the passion for photography and writing, if you like. Not only this, but to read so much wonderful work by so many of you, it’s a perfect way to relax, learn and engage the grey-matter simultaneously!) Nonetheless, whilst the number is just that, I wear a smile – one of gratitude to every single one of you who read my pages, enjoy any of my images, click, comment and, get involved even in the smallest of ways.  When I started 35:C back in March, I had no idea that I would be read by so many, or, from so many countries around the world. Today, I am so grateful to everyone who has contributed to these pages and, to you all, I would like to extent my most grateful thanks and, I hope you will return for a long time to come. I also wish to thank my friends who read my pages, offering encouragement and critique, and, whilst they are not WP members (they’ll come around, one day!) your input is utterly appreciated. To Amar, the thinker and the doer, I extend my deepest personal gratitude for the support, technical wizardry, patience and constructive criticism that you tirelessly provide. You’re the best ideas-man out there, barring none; and a good friend.

Without you all, these pages would be little more than an online diary. So, from me – a huge and warm thank you. You’re all completely (bloody) fabulous! This post is dedicated to each and every one of you.

R.

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If you happen to love the colour yellow, this post is also for you. In truth, my frames would have been processed only in black and white were it not for their sunny disposition. The orchid’s form was in fact the reason that I wanted to capture them at all; their almost skin-like texture, their alien, possibly even deep-sea-like centres and, smooth curves. The black and whites speak to me – but how I exhaled in relief when, after only the smallest amount of processing (admittedly, I don’t do much) I looked at these frames. They are not perfect, they’re taken with old equipment but, they work for me.

I had spent the main part of the day preparing and constructing a macro-table in the corner of my spare room, a task which, if you saw it, looks like it should have only taken a few hours – instead, it took the entire day. With matte black covering (I used rolls of framing-card) on the table itself, and using a deconstructed, white plastic soft box, I created a high-ish walled corner which I also covered with the same card, clipped into place. Using a fisherman’s angled fly-tying clamp, a couple of small free-standing mirrors, clamped side lights, an overhead lamp, and an assortment of tripods of varying sizes and purposes, I was good to go. Rather than wait for the following day to shoot them, I waited for dark, doused all the lights I didn’t want, save for those on the table and, set to work. 

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One thing that I do believe in when shooting anything to which you’re probably not going to return any time soon, or, ever – is – to shoot the hell out of it and from every angle you want. Use different depths of field, change lens-to-subject distance, exploit your subject to the maximum. Cut off from it’s host stem, this flower would last maybe two days in a shot glass full of water, at most. Therefore, I spent almost two hours with it. Just shooting. Recomposing. Re-shooting – and, loop! It’s a process that I become totally absorbed in; the rest of life disappears for a while, during which time my respect for the subject becomes all that is important to me. Casual has it’s time and place – but it’s not here. Some things are just too beautiful for that.  I hope that these elements come across in these frames.

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VIII.

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Thank you, always, for taking the time to view my pages. I am more grateful than I can write. 

[Frames V, VI, VIII – Ricoh GXR w/A12 33mm 2.5 Macro. Frame VII – Sigma SDQ w/18-35mm 1.8 Art, at 35mm]

[To view other posts in this series, please click the ‘orchid’ tag].

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Closer Still(s) | PT.XIV | Orchid | 35:Chronicle

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

On Inspiration (or, Breathing In).


It has been a long fortnight since my last proper post and, a lot has been going on during this time. At the back of my mind has sat, constantly, thoughts of how I will move my photography forwards over the coming months and, whilst I have been pottering away trying my hand at making some kind of studio in my larger spare-room, I have been repeatedly inspired by much of the work I see here on WP, in the shape of writers, photographers and, artists whose work I follow and read regularly. It is short-sighted to think or believe that our works are, or could be, enough – or more ridiculously, the pinnacle of our achievements when there exists so much inspiration that can only ever serve, if we truly care about our art, to spur us on to more wonderful or beautiful things.

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This first post in my Orchid series, is, inasmuch as it could be, a doffed cap to a post I read and often return to, entitled Still Life with Tulips by Alena Shminke and, though my composition, focal distance and subject are all different as well as the tools of our trades, “Tulips” inspires me with its own tone and composition and in these elements  my attention was directed more greatly than with my previous shoots within the engaging genre of close-up photography.  (This is why my first post in this series is of solely black and white compositions, as opposed to colour which, will follow soon). Whether I have achieved more by such considerations would not be for me to say, but the process is all the more engaging when keeping elements of the works of others in mind. Inspiration is a gift to any of us who open our eyes and our minds to invite it.

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II.

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III.

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The Orchid itself was another gift, of a nine-year old girl called Maddison – who, upon returning home one afternoon during the autumn, proudly, smiling as she did so – wandered over to her gentleman neighbour who was sitting in the sunshine, to  give it to me.  Kindness, altruism and generosity are also inspirations but never moreso than the smile of a happy child.  So, for Maddie – thank you! I hope that this first series (and subsequent offerings) preserve what still is, a beautiful gift. (Tell your mum I use a little tomato-feed! Works a treat!)

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IV.

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Lastly, (and I should do this more often, I know) if I may mention another blogger, here on WP. Donald Reese has recently grabbed my attention with his utterly stunning low-light, light-painting street and environmental photography and, makes amazing use of rain, flashes and torches – as well as his cameras. If you’re interested, please take a look


[Frames I, II, IV – Ricoh GXR w/A12 33mm 2.5 Macro. Frame III – Sigma SDQ w/18-35mm 1.8 Art, at 35mm]

[To view other posts in this series, please click the ‘orchid’ tag].

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

50mm, black & white, colour, macro, nature, personal, photography

Taking a Chill-Pill.


Heck, I can’t always take photography too seriously; without doubt it is and has been one of my biggest passions throughout the past twenty (plus) years of my life and, I dare say, by those who know me personally, I am known for it. But there’s another side to the seriousness of getting the image and that is, to simply get the camera out and just have a little fun with it – and to not worry or be so seriously preoccupied with perfect composition or, focus or, whatever else we look for. The truth told, I love to shoot freestyle, freehand, free-lensed and, I don’t do it anywhere nearly as often as I would like, and, I have been photographically rather lazy lately. I could make excuses about the weather or some-such, but I’d be spouting bollocks so, I’m not going to place a blame. I guess sometimes, we just need a little break from the – constant thinking? I don’t know if I am making any sense here but I promise, I’m not writing for the sake of it. 

For me, the real enjoyments of photography come from many aspects. It’s so engaging when you would want it to be, so technical in thought and deliverance at other times and yet, so passive and relaxing on occasion, too. Depending on any given genre, expectations, deadlines, or presenting difficulties, all are true. If you are yourself an enthusiast, you will know this already. But at the heart of every image is me, you, and how we see. I love to look; and see; and interpret; and steal a frame. What I don’t love – is to always feel like I’m overthinking because then, at some uncertain, invisible point of effort, a line gets crossed and, I don’t always enjoy it so much – especially when that line is completely bulldozed. Indeed, on such occasions, I can take a whole load of shit and know that I have before I have even depressed the shutter. Yet I do it anyway – like shutter-finger Tourette’s  Syndrome (hereafter referred to as SFTS). Damn, I hate it when I do that because not least, I know I’m just going to spend more time at home, after upload, deleting the crud. 

Most often, I find that when I’m making shots for the fun of it, with no actual goal in mind, when I don’t care so much about focus, or content – I tend to make images that I like, nevertheless. In opposition, as we all have – I have put so much effort and thought into a particular shoot or subject and come away with so much utter crap, it could make me cringe at the knowledge that my own brain decided that that capture was a good idea. Really? 

With all of this preamble out of the way, I decided, with plenty of time to kill today and, though the weather was not playing ball (I was hoping to get a little more of a tan on my chrome-dome – uh… no!) – to faff around with my favourite body & prime combo and, make a few frames; just to see what I might come away with. No, given the images I have posted here, you’d be forgiven and absolved for thinking that I have actually been yapping on for the sake of it, because technically these images are not fabulous, or varied. They are indeed unimaginative, poorly composed, a tad soft, but do you know what? Today, I don’t care. Today, I made some photographs; and I like ’em! Moreover, I hope you will too. Yes, I shot close without a tripod – I was chilling

By the way, the first image in this post is great in colour, because it really looks to me like a camouflage-act and, it may have been, in the mind of the Hoverfly. I wasn’t going to post it in colour because I really do prefer the mono-shot (moreover because I have genuine dislike for the colour orange for some barmy reason that I can’t explain) – but I caved in, and have included it at the end of this post. You’ll see what I mean when you get there, if, that is, you haven’t nodded-off already. Okay – time to wake up. It’s picture time!) Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great week ahead. 

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Montbretia & Hoverfly | 50mm – Handheld.

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Montbretia | 50mm – Handheld.

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Camouflage? | 50mm – Handheld.

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[There’s a photographer in India called Rajeev Virmani – he makes some beautiful environmental flora photographs and I have to say, he has nowhere near enough followers for the work he puts in and puts out here on WP. Please, if you like the genre, do take a look at his images. He has an intimate and opportunistic approach that may well appeal to many. I don’t know him but I do love so many of his images. If you have a little time, you may enjoy a peek!]


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Karma? | 715nm Infrared | 35:Chronicle

50mm, close-up, faux-colour, infrared, macro, nature, photography

Sometimes, We All Need a Helping-Hand.


This little guy was crawling very lethargically around my garden a few days ago. While I know little to nothing about bees, I figured he(?) could use a lift. I picked him up and placed him on one of my flowering shrubs and instantly, he began to gather. For a few minutes I just watched it – half grateful, the other half of me just happy to see it perk up. Then, it occurred to me that I might be able to grab a few frames and, the one close-up capable camera I had almost instantly to hand was my 715nm IR converted GXR 50/Macro. For around five minutes more he frequented the flowers on my shrub before he had gathered enough strength to buzz-off again. Still, though my discipline was far from perfect and I was shooting handheld, I was rewarded with a few shots that, whilst a little tricky to process in faux-colour, were worth it. Karma at work? I’m not sure. But, it’s possible. 

With more time and a less urgent / opportunistic approach, I’d have set-up for this kind of work properly, but as is – these are just a few excited (excitable) grab-shots. (The high-key is intentional and, a result of my habit of spot-metering when I macro.) I hope you’ll enjoy them.

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I. | 50mm | 715nm IR.

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II. | 50mm | 715nm IR.

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III. | 50mm | 715nm IR.

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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 Thank you for visiting & if you would like updates, please click Follow. All images are resized for publishing.
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Closer Still(s) | PT.IX | 35:Chronicle

50mm, close-up, colour, macro, nature, photography

Cherry Blossom.


I.

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II.

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Thank you.

Foxgloves | PT.I of II | 35:Chronicle

50mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography

Pretty in Pink?


The woodlands and scrub around my house are festooned with Foxgloves and, it would be remiss of me if I weren’t to have a little fun with them. It’s easy to see why this flower is a very popular subject for photo-enthusiasts. In this first instalment, I concentrate only on the colour frames – the final image being made indoors, as the breeze began to hamper my efforts somewhat, even with the use of the tripod.

I hope you’ll enjoy these few grabs.

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IV.

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Thank you.

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

35mm, close-up, colour, Indoor, nature, photography, spring

Spring Broom | PT.II of II.


Righto, this is the second of two posts (otherwise it gets boring!) containing shots that I made last week of the gorgeous red and yellow broom flowers that are in massive numbers at the back of my house right now. They truly are stunning little flowers and, though most of the shrubs are offering yellow flowers only, there is just one out of the entire lot of ’em that has given up these beautiful variations, the like of which I have not witnessed before. To look at them with the naked eye, they are not all that remarkable, however, when getting up-close and very personal with these 15mm or so flowers, they do take on a much more intricate character, if that can be said of a plant? 

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IV. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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V. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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My macro / close-up set-up is pretty basic really and shooting only with a 35mm lens (which is not a macro-lens either) does make my choices very simple – I either can shoot what I envisage or, I can’t. It’s as simple as that. There are of course limitations but these only serve me to do my best to get more creative with what I do have in my bag. Yes, I have mentioned my little 49mm Hoya +10 Close-up filter a few times but I cannot stress how abso-bloody-lutely brilliantly useful that little filter is. Having spent countless thousands of pounds on photographic equipment over the many years I have been enjoying the art, it truly is a revelation to know that instead of forking out (and carrying around) more lenses, I have finally managed to put together a collection of three cameras and a few filters that even collectively weigh less than my last DSLR with it’s 50/1.4 mounted. Picky, I am indeed and I would be the first to be unhappy with my images if my chosen rigs weren’t producing the goods that I work towards – and the only duds I ever find are those reflecting my own mistakes. 

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VI. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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I love these images and I am very happy to have made them – yet, though I don’t expect anyone else to share my utter enjoyment of them, I do hope that some will find a little pleasure in them. Such an understated plant and yet, so full of form and vibrance that I find incredibly appealing. To have these frames is a real pleasure for me because, very soon, the garden floor will be coated in a carpet of faded yellow petals and, the hedgerows? Well, they’re certainly going to be left wanting, aren’t they?

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VII. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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Click for PT. I of II
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Closer Still(s) | PT.VII | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

Spring Broom in Bloom | PT.I of II.


I. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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II. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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III. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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Click for PT.II of II
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Thank you.

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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Closer Still(s) | PT.V | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

Sleeping Belles, Awake.


In my last post (Closer Still(s) | PT.IV) I posted two images from the pre-flowering stage of one of the many, many Bluebells, coming to life on the high slope in my back-yard. After leaving it in water after it’s first portrait session and essentially forgetting about it for a few days, I spied it today whilst doing the dishes and, was made to smile when I caught sight of them opening, there on the sill behind the window. After dark, I set up my backdrop, lights and, clamped the stem for another session. So, here for another whirl, is the same flower-head from PT.IV – only, a little bit more glorious. All we need now, to make it feel ultimately Spring-like – is some warmer weather. Oh, when?!

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

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

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

The Blue Belles of Spring.


Only a dozen or so posts into my project and already a third of my offerings  concentrate on the finer details. It’s true, I do love close-up photography and even moreso, visualising those details which too often go unnoticed simply because most of us don’t have the time to slow right down and observe. It’s easier to see the obvious, the ‘in your face’ elements of life; less so, all of those beautiful, artful elements of life hidden or camouflaged  within it’s fabric. I just don’t like missing out on anything that might force me to stop and wonder. There’s a reason in all of us, a perfect explanation as to why each of us fascinate over the things that we do. 

The fabric of the high and steep bank of what was once scrubland (before I got sick of looking at it and, mercilessly cleared it last year) behind my house – is currently a small sea of thick greens and indigo-blues. The Snowdrops and the Daffodils have had their time already and now, it’s the turn of another to bloom and saturate my garden with colour. As I look out of the kitchen window while I write, I see mainly sundrenched greens, but the ‘bells are rising up slowly and making themselves known. Out of curiosity, a few days ago, I decided that I wanted to make some close-up photographs once again, but this time, of the pre-flowering stage of the delicate Bluebell.

Never having regarded this little flower so closely before, I have to wonder – why on earth had I not?

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PT.V – Sleeping Belles, Awake
As always, thank you for visiting & if you would like updates, please click Follow. All images are resized for publishing.
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The Importance of the 35mm Focal-Length | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, Indoor, infrared, landscape, nature, personal, photography

The Most Versatile Focal-Length in the Bag.


The first lens I ever shot with was a 35mm, back in the day when I began making photographs with a film camera. In those days, zoom lenses had only been popular among casual shooters and enthusiasts for around ten years or so and my pocket was way too shallow to be able to afford anything more than my 35. So, it stayed with me and I made the best possible use that I could have with it. For over two years I used that same lens and the more I did, the more I loved it. It was almost as though I could predict how it would render, no matter what I was photographing; in essence, it’s frame-lines had begun to become branded into my brain, through my eyes. Of all the lenses I could have learned with, I am so relieved that my first lens was that 35. In later years I would come to prefer a 50 – a more natural focal-length for me, but whenever I spent time with this slightly longer lens, something often felt like it was missing. It took me years to figure out what that something was.

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Horse-Chestnut Bud

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After saving (and hammering my credit card on occasion) I acquired a number of other lenses over time, G.A.S took a firm hold of my psyche and, I kind of got lost. Though I loved all of the choices I was giving myself, I was only becoming more confused as to the ends I was trying to reach. Telephotos and mid-long zoom lenses made me want to go out and shoot wildlife; wider lenses had me scouring locations for old ruins and run-down buildings and kit zooms, the standard nowadays being the trusty 18-55, shot everything in-between; which was in honesty, almost everything. But even the useful FLs of a kit zoom weren’t really doing it for me because the something that I missed was this: scene and subject interaction. In other words, I was beginning to feel like a casual observer of the scenes or subjects that I was trying to capture rather than as an integral part of it. To me, this felt like a crime given how much I love and always have loved photography, but not only this, I wanted to be close to or even inside my frame – I wanted to be a part of the creative process that I absolutely love so much rather than as a bystander or worse, a casual voyeur on the perimeter, casually making frames of a world, or a scene – that was passing me by.

 

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Stumped | 720nm Infrared

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It took me years to realise that I was killing my own creativity by trying so hard to cover every base by carrying way more glass than I could possibly need and, that no matter what lens I had mounted at a given time, I would always feel as though it was the wrong one, or, be at least concerned that it might not be the right choice at the time. Doing away with so much choice, essentially, does away with equal amounts of worry and concern. Furthermore, when we can make any and all possible images with any working lens, the only consideration needs to be how best to frame with that one chosen chunk of glass. To see in that focal-length and move around it and, through it, according to our own vision, whether unique or not. This does also mean that the legs get more use (particularly for prime glass) which in turn, puts me back in the centre of the process. But I hear cries and, they’re getting louder. They are cries of anguish and perceived enlightenment that are trying to tell me that I can’t shoot wildlife without a tele-lens, nor can I shoot wide landscapes or industrial frames without a decent wide lens. The 35 is neither one nor the other. So, what the hell am I doing? Well, I know these arguments well and I’ve been doing this a long time so, the ol’ saying about grandma proverbially sucking eggs may well be extremely relevant here. I don’t carry four or five kilos of gear any more and, I am still able to capture images that make me not only happy themselves, but also happy that I am back in the middle of my art. I simply had to revert to one main, workable focal-length and, get to know it again like I once did. The learning never stops but it’s amazing how quickly you can place yourself in the right spot for any shot when you only have to think in one perspective – the chosen prime perspective, that is. Before I have even lifted my viewfinder to my eye, I know where I need to be when an inspiration strikes. It takes away the guesswork, the trial and error, the faffing with lens-changes and the worry about crud getting inside the camera body. And yes, the bag is shedloads lighter and I can move about more freely, for way longer and, I don’t get home and reach for the Deep Heat anymore.

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The 35mm focal length is considered to be at the longest edge of the wide-angle lens concept. It is also regarded as being pretty close to the natural focal-length at which we humans see. Neither of these ideas do I argue with. In contrast, I believe that these two elements are what truly make a 35 the most versatile lens for the way that I shoot and make photographs. Here are just some reasons as to why a good 35 should be a definite consideration:

  • Not only do most if not all 35s focus pretty close, they have little if any distortion (providing you haven’t got a dud).
  • They are inherently sharp (usually, even wide open – I’ve used many and never had a soft shot at f2 that wasn’t my own stupid fault).
  • Primes tend to open up more than zooms (though if you have deep pockets and you want, need and can justify the purchase of that mean looking 18-600mm 1.0 constant (you get the idea?!) then go for it). A fast 35 is a total joy to use when the light levels dip. If you haven’t tried it – you should.
  • The costs are relatively a lot lower than for good or high-quality longer or wider primes (so, much cheaper to replace if you drop it from a height).
  • They are small, light, often very well constructed and a joy to use. Because of the size and weight, they really don’t get in the way of my thinking. It’s a tool. I trust it. It works. Make photographs. Move on and, stop thinking about the gear!
  • 35 is wide enough to capture life as it happens, socially, environmentally, intimately – back in the 70s and 80s it was pretty much the only lens used by press photographers and if ever a lens finds itself in a tough proving ground, that’s probably it, right there.
  • Construction is largely such that it remains reliable for many years of service.
  • It’s the best middle of the road lens (alongside a nice 50 prime, depending on how you ‘see’) for learning and capturing whatever you want.
  • Whatever single focal-length one chooses to befriend, the mainstay of all of these points apply. I simply feel that a 35 is the true Jack of all’.
  • I’ve shot weddings, portraits, land & waterscapes, close-ups & near macro, stills and fine-art, visible, full-spectrum and infrared, the lot. The 35mm FL has seldom if ever left me wanting. My ageing legs too, are grateful, because they get a reason to keep working that little bit harder than a slightly sedentary brain would usually require of them.
  • Bag: Light + Bank Balance: Healthier (potentially).

If you’re considering venturing into a single focal-length for the first time, choose wisely and justify your choice, stick with it and, persevere. The benefits of restriction will present themselves quickly and, your eye will improve with enough frames. If you’re not sure about which FL to plump for but can’t get the idea of self-limitation for the sake of freedom out of your head, just go for a 35, mount it, forget it’s there, and simply enjoy making pictures – for the sheer love of it.

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Light & Love

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