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, into 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.X | Infrared 715nm | 35:Chronicle

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

One Red Poppy.


There is such a pleasure in photographing in infrared, (in fact, I can say the same of making images utilising any alternative-wavelengths) though I can’t even begin to describe it. Something about the added uncertainty of the quality of the light we can’t see – and wondering how to control it and, capture it. It definitely keeps me thinking; sometimes head-scratching. Yet so often, surprise and delight are revealed in such density that one cannot help going back for more, and more

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I | Poppy | 50mm 1/125th @f8 | ISO:271 | 715nm IR

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Since having received my IR converted A12 50mm for my GXR it occurred to me that I’ve not really given it a fair outing, yet. It’s not like it will care, or anything like that; it has no feelings and minds not if it’s being used or, if it spends its time just rattling around in compartment three, in my bag. But – though I love what I’ve managed to capture with my 28mm IR unit, the 50 is a rather different kettle o’ fish. For landscapes and closer, wide-angle stuff, the 28 is supreme and, at 760nm,  has a perfect base-wavelength for those tasks, but the 50 has a whole other genre as its niche. Whilst I haven’t taken it out for more natural FoV shooting as yet, I did, this morning, mooch around the garden trying out some close-up and macro subjects while the sun was out. Being as this is the UK – that latter consideration should remind you that unless the forecast states temperatures of 25 Celsius or higher for the entire day, the sun largely makes its own mind up as to whether it’s going to shine or hide behind the nearest cloud, and, there’s usually at least one large bugger waiting  for that job. That said, I had around a half-hour for a play before the inevitable happened.

It was enough.

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II | Poppy | 50mm 1/220th @f5.6 | ISO:200 | 715nm IR

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I’ve broken with a couple of traditions for these frames. The first is more of a sacred rule than a tradition, I suppose: I shot these handheld because I was just too lazy to set up on my tripod.  (There. I said it.) Secondly, I so seldom process infrared in false-colour because, well – it just never looks natural to me (even after setting the correct WB). If I can’t believe what I’m looking at, then I’m certainly not going to expect anyone else to believe it either and, if that should be the case then, what is the point? Still something about these frames made me want to have a go at FC-IR again. Therefore, after processing the entire batch in black and white (my ‘safety-net’ batch), I went back to the beginning and re-processed the whole lot for the second batch in faux-colour; and, you know what? I actually prefer them. I enjoy the subtlety that 715nm has afforded to the colours – and, I have done extremely little to these files  in order to complete them. Still, complete, they are and I am very happy to share a few of them. One single bright-red poppy, dishevelled by short bursts of heavy rain and a fortnight of regular stiff breezes, yet, still every bit as photogenic as when it first came to flower. 

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III | Poppy | 50mm 1/180th @f8 | ISO:200 | 715nm IR

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IV | Working Lunch | 50mm 1/125th @f8 | ISO:238 | 715nm IR

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

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

Cherry Blossom.


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II.

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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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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?!

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II.

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III.

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IV.

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V.

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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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II.
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PT.V – Sleeping Belles, Awake

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Internal Affairs | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, Indoor, personal, photography

A Long Time Empty.


No.2

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I Can See Clearly, Now the Label’s Gone…

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Tiptoe Through?

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

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

Spring | Horse-Chestnut Buds


Only once in the past have I ever photographed this bud, a true spring beauty when you get closer. That was a lot of years ago now and whilst I enjoyed the results back then (being relatively wet behind the ears as I undoubtedly was – to close-up and macro-photography) the images I had produced didn’t have the impact I now look for when making images this way.

My indoor close-up set-up has evolved a little and I like to play around much more nowadays with lighting for more pleasing effects and, dare I say, maybe even a little drama? Processing is, perhaps surprisingly, minimal; this is largely due to the controlled environment in which I create, allowing for few problems after initial set-up for a new shoot (no pun intended). New buds can be so ridiculously photogenic when they start to sprout and what I have endeavoured to capture in this series (of a number of horse-chestnuts at different stages of growth) are not only the different textures and their rich colours, but also, their clear gluey stickiness, making them impossible to handle without leaving fingermarks and thus, they must be handled by the host branch when placing correctly for composing and framing. I sincerely hope that you’ll enjoy these images – because I have had so much fun in making them.

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Horse-Chestnut | 35mm w/ Hoya +10 Filter
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VI.

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VII.

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The Importance of the 35mm Lens | 35:Chronicle

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

The Most Versatile Lens in your 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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Shadowed

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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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Submission

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Cherry Blossom

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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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