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Venice, monochrome

in Hasselblad XPan , Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is slightly crazy. A few weeks ago I decided to work on a small set of photos of Venice, converted to black & white using the excellent Nik Silver EFX 2.0. Silver EFX does a pretty good job of turning digital images into emulations of monochrome film photography. So far so good. But then it occurred to me that I was actually transforming scans of positive film into emulations of monochrome negative film, which is not exactly an optimum process, since there’s a good 5 extra stops of exposure range in b&w, and the contrast curve in positive film doesn’t like being stretched too much. Well anyway. I’d probably have been better off loading Agfa Scala in my XPan in the first place. Or even Ektar 100. And apart from that, the originals actually were shot very much with colour in mind. But I quite like the way it all turned out.

Venice monochrome

I’ve decided to publish the set on 500px. I’ve had an account there for a while, but so far I haven’t used it much. What I like about 500px over Flickr is that it lends itself more to publishing sets, or portfolios. Flickr of course allows you to create sets as well, but it really puts an emphasis on individual photos. I can’t say I’ve built up much of a following over the 5 years or so I’ve been on Flickr, so perhaps it’s worth trying another approach. Personally I feel my photos work better in portfolios - in fact I was nudged in this direction a while ago by a professional photographer friend - but photo sharing sites are pretty much all about the latest shot, followed 15 nanoseconds later by the next. Also somehow photos taken recently are granted more worth than ones taken several years, or more, ago. I don’t really know why that is. These photos are nearly 2 years old, but they wouldn’t look substantially different had I taken them yesterday.

500pxVenice

I’m not all that happy about 500px deciding that everybody’s photos should be represented by a square preview. That’s them imposing their aesthetic decision over mine. But I suppose everybody else does this too. Otherwise it’s certainly much cleaner and photo-centric than Flickr.

Here’s one that didn’t make the cut. Possibly a little too clichéd.

Xpan 0210venice 004 bw

And there’s another one that didn’t make it to 500px, but ended up on Flickr instead. Well, I wouldn’t want them to feel left out.

 

Posted in category "Hasselblad XPan" on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 08:13 PM

Milano Centrale, Zuiko 85mm

in Photography , Friday, May 25, 2012

Some impressionistic views of Milano Centrale train station using the OM-mount Zuiko 85mm f/2.0 on the Olympus E-P3. According to Mark Thackara, marketing manager at Olymous UK, it’s a classic. Wasted on me then…

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Posted in category "Photography" on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 09:39 PM

Aeolian Islands gallery

in Photography , Friday, August 26, 2011

On Saturday morning I’m off for two weeks to Sicily, starting with the Aegadian Islands.  Not exactly a polar destination, but life is full of compromises.  Several years ago, when I first went to Sicily, I ended up visiting the Aeolian Islands for the first time, and that kicked off a new geographic obsession for me.


I’ve just published my first gallery of photos from the Aeolian islands. I’m sure there’ll be more to come.

Aeolian Gallery



Posted in category "Photography" on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 09:06 AM

Tuscan Tips

in Photography , Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I guess Tuscany must be well into the Top 20 most photographed locations in the world. The concentration of cameras is phenomenal, albeit nothing like the freak shows you get in places like Yosemite. The first time I went there, quite a few years back (they still sold film - proper film at that - in the shops), I certainly had all the well known cliches in mind.  There’s the Cypress Grove (on your right, heading south on the SS2 just outside of San Quirico d’Orcia, can’t miss it).

The Cypress Grove

Exhibit A: The Cypress Grove

There’s the Isolated Chapel (heading east from San Quirico, towards Pienza, over on the ridge on your right, although to do the Charlie Waite close-up shot you’ll need to take the farm track).

tuscan chapel

The Isolated Chapel

And there’s the vantage point over the Twisty-Road-With-Cypresses, which you can find by heading out of Montechiello towards Pienza and taking the first unpaved road on your left. You can’t miss the actual spot…

twisty road with cypresses

The infamous twisty road, somewhat drenched

And to complete your collection, you just need an early morning misty valley shot, preferably featuring distant ochre romantic farmhouse, and with all the pesky telegraph poles and power lines painstakingly edited out in Photoshop.  Best bet here is the road down from Castiglione d’Orcia, or the road over Le Crete Senesi, from Asciano towards Siena. But you’re going to have to get up painfully early.

misty hills

Misty morning, Le Crete Senesi, around 6am

E perfetto, va bene cosi. I’ve given away all the trade secrets, and you’re now a fully qualified Tuscan photographer. Of course, you get bonus points if you include poppies. I’m leaving that as an exercise for the student.

So, anyway, I was in Tuscany again last weekend, and although I wasn’t expecting to do much photography, I did have in mind that it would be nice to avoid the cliches, and to try to do something a little more interesting… back streets, people, details, close ups.  Of course it didn’t work. I did resist the Cypress Grove, but it was pretty tatty and the sky was dull and overcast.  But the rest, yeah, pretty much.

Detail shots take time and good ones need to say something about the bigger picture. It takes quite a while to get into the atmosphere, to relax, to listen to what a place is saying to you, and as far as Tuscany is concerned, I’m not sure that I’ve ever managed. But I quite like this photo. And I’m not telling you were it is, because I’m going back!

la fattoria

La Fattoria. Sunday, around 7:30am

 

 

Posted in category "Photography" on Tuesday, June 07, 2011 at 10:58 PM

Wish

in General Rants , Thursday, May 08, 2008

Photography has being going by the board recently (strange expression... wonder where it comes from ?). I haven't even got around to writing much about my early March Iceland stuff, still less posting any of it except on Flickr.

However, last week, we spent a few days at the heavenly haven of Casa Bolsinina, Tuscany, being looked after by Maria Pia and Marcello. Although I can't say I was feeling particularly motivated, I took a few bits and pieces of gear with me (only 4 cameras), and intended to get up at least once at 4am for a Tuscan dawn.

Well, one morning I set the alarm for 4am, which given that I got to sleep at 1am was a bit drastic. And when 4am came around, I dragged myself out of bed, far enough to see that the sky was completely clear. This, in context, is bad news. Ideally there would be a thick ground mist, which can be used to artfully used to conceal the less attractive parts of the Tuscan landscape.

So I went back to bed.

And felt guilty.

Finally, at 5am I decided to give it a go. By this point, the sky was lightening, and I decided to head in the direction of Val d'Orcia, since getting to the Crete Senese ridge would (a) take too long, and (b) was pointless given the lack of mist.

At some point I glanced around and saw I'd struck oil - a new crescent moon was just rising. All I needed to do was to find a suitable framing for it. Fast. A "this is better than nothing" opportunity arose just outside Buonconvento, and here it is ...

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Before Photoshop...

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...after Photoshop

Footnote

In some cultures, a new moon is an invitation to make a wish for the coming month. Well, I didn't make one, but I had been hoping to see a porcupine (or two). And I did. Unfortunately, it was plastered all over the road - a long, straight stretch of road, where some doubtless petrol-head Italian had been compensating for his frustrating relationship with his underpants by bravely travelling at 180kmh.

I have calmed down a bit since, and at the risk of offending my many Italian friends, really, what the F&*% happens to Italian men's brains when they get behind a steering wheel ? Why do almost all of these courteous, educated, polite and cultured people turn into brainless, arrogant, rude homicidal maniacs ?

Same reason the Germans, British, French, etc do I guess.

Posted in category "General Rants" on Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 12:34 PM

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