Tuesday 30 September 2008

Capturing September # 071630 - # 08/231

To be honest this is one extremely rare "misty September sunrise - 2008". This year the conditions have been wrong, but we can hope that perhaps October will bring some more early morning delights.

It's too early for a "lone figure" to take its place on the seat (I waited for 3 hours, but none came ;-) Ho, Ho)....but it's already "Rush Hour", as you can see by the trail of cars on the main road. The photo is far from being a "stunner", but then this September has been quite disappointing. Today, the "endless" grey clouds are back. Can we hope for a "Golden October"?

The view is looking across Ham Common towards the Petersham Rd.

Monday 29 September 2008

Capturing September attempt # P925004 - # 08/230

The meadows around us are being mown. Here I wanted to capture the graceful curving path taken by the mowing machine, and the cast of light and shade as the mid-day sun flooded the heaped grass - the piles are brilliantly lit on one side and darkly shaded behind. Of course, the "idiot camera" could not sense my "emotional gut feeling" and so this became a tricky exposure exercise. I admit to just a tiny bit of "post-processing" to improve the shadows (but only a tiny bit!!!). B&W proved better than colour, in my opinion, at capturing the mood.

I remember once on a visit to the French Alps in the Savoie we discovered the cheese Beaufort. This unique cheese comes from cows who spend the summer grazing the alpine meadows rich with wild flowers, and the scent of the flowers goes into the milk. This fragrance does not travel so well and it is (in my experience) difficult to find an excellent Beaufort anywhere that is far away from its origin in the Savoie.

Last week our local Ham and Petersham meadows were cut. One particular meadow had been especially rich in wild flowers. The scent of the hay was quite remarkable. The light breeze had gathered the fragrance into a corner of the walled area and concentrated it into the richest vanilla-like aroma I have ever experienced - magical and unforgettable, and totally unknown to the millions who live urban lives!

Sunday 28 September 2008

Coca Cola, Potato Crisps, Lilies, Fine Wine and Oranges - # 08/229

Another in the occasional "Bar Fly" series.

A couple of nights ago we visited the Black Lion in Black Lion St close to the river off Chiswick Mall. It's a very old pub surrounded by magnificent early 18th century buildings and narrow riverside roads.

The Bar Fly was struck by the interesting fusion of the concept of the "old riverside pub" and "elegant modern London venue". The bar-top combination of the "down to earth" and the "elegant", the "ancient" and "modern", caught our eye. A good dinner, and an excellent Real Ale beside leather armchairs and an open fire contributed to a good evening.

Friday 26 September 2008

The training paddock - # 08/228

The last few days of September bless us with brilliant sunshine. The orientation of the sun and the hour of day were just right to enhance this image of the horse and trainer in the paddock near Ham House. B&W is the only option for this photo. There is no other choice.

Camera: Olympus C7070 wz. Strong back-lighting, clear sun around 9.50 am.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Where is the Green Parrot? - # 08/227

Green Parrots have been spreading slowly all over London following the escape from captivity of a pair several years ago. They eat the mortar of old houses and now they are invading my apple tree.

Can you see him / her / it?

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Nick's gum tree - # 08/226

My neighbour has a huge Australian gum tree in his front garden. I absolutely love it. He has fitted it out with strings of lights right up to the top. He switches them on in Winter and the tree twinkles in the darkness.

Here you can see a flash of late September sun on the bark.

Actually I'm longing to get back to some B & W shots, but at the moment they simply are not materialising. The other thing I should be doing - but am not - is getting up early to capture sun rises and mists. Next month I really must try harder.

(By the way; we have total thick grey cloud........yet again. What an abominable Summer! Aaaaaarrrrgh!!!!!!!!)

Monday 22 September 2008

Capturing September attempt # 21-019- # 08/225

As the quality of light and the angle of the sun change we see new lighting effects under the trees and the sparkle on the water and even the nature of the mud seems to change.

For other pictures of Pen Ponds in Richmond Park see Year 2007 # 4, 7, 339 & 354.

This is a typical example of how the eye handles contrasts in light and shade better than the camera. Fortunately the blue water is not too much over-exposed. Several attempts were necessary. I hope you enjoy the scene as much as I did at the time.

Sunday 21 September 2008

The Equinox: when night is as long as day - # 08/224

The great tower at Canary Wharf..... No. 1 Canada Square......an icon of the City of London; at the heart of the world market for financial derivatives, share issues and currency trading.

The sun sets, and casts a powerful light upon an institution that faces "interesting times".

The tower is about 13 miles from Richmond Park. Sometimes it is obscure and indistinct. Sometimes it stands in a glaring light.

Camera: Olympus E3. Telephoto at equivalent of 400mm. Sunset

Saturday 20 September 2008

Capturing September: attempt # P91 - 5 - # 08/223

What are you doing? Why are you lying on the wet ground, in an old raincoat, fiddling with that camera again? Come in at once! Do something useful!

The garden apple crop this year is abundant but the apples are small in spite of the high rainfall. I suppose excessive cloud and lack of sun are to blame. But the squirrels and birds are getting the benefit from them.

My challenge here is to catch the juiciness, the whiteness and the squirrel's teeth marks. It's definitely not the world's finest September Apple Picture, but I had great fun doing it, and avoided having to do several "useful" things.

Friday 19 September 2008

Capturing September attempt # 8(DF) - # 08/222

First: a mighty "Thank You" to all those who commented and encouraged me yesterday following my rant about the lousy summer and the unending cloud. Anon in Seattle and Virginia in Birmingham Ala. put it in perspective, AND Jules in Rabaul reminded me that she has to put up with Volcano dust several times a year.

As we all know, City DP is not a doddle. We all work quite hard at it. I went back a second time, with a tripod, to repeat and improve on earlier attempts to catch the essence of this rural scene.

But what is it? Things go up and things go down and everything changes. We can see that this old footpath was once well kept and it looks as if about 100 years ago someone put up an elegant and very clear boundary fence. It's "Douglas Footpath" running from Petersham Road down to the river Thames - very little used today but so charming and useful that "London's Arcadia" is restoring it to good condition. (click on the link at the right of this blog to read more about "London's Arcadia" - it's not always cloudy, even if it is for most of this year!!!!!).

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Come on! Tell me. What is Richmond really like? - # 08/221

It's back again. Flat, thick, grey cloud. Just thick and grey. No sunlight, not even raining. Just thick grey cloud. Nothing else. Just thick grey cloud. It's been like this almost without a break for the whole summer. Day after day after day after day. So I'm "grey" and I'm grumpy. Why have we got this thick grey cloud? Thick, thick, thick. Grey, grey, grey. Day after day.

This photo was taken in the centre of Richmond during a (now rare and unusual) moment when the tick grey cloud cleared. But the moment was brief, and the traffic was awful.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Capturing September attempt # 32 - # 08/220

This a tricky task. After weeks of solid cloud the sun appeared. The rain has made the bushes and meadows lush and overwhelming. The drainage ditch is attractive; water running fast. The pebbles of the man-made banking make a good foreground. The pink wild flowers at the back are drenched in sunlight and the yellow bush further back is almost washed out even to the human eye because of the brilliant evening sun. The foreground is dark.

It's worth capturing, as you glimpse it from the river bank. The vision sucks you in and you enter the slightly slippery riverside undergrowth to get a good look at the drainage ditch on the far side of the tow path. The pink flowers are beguiling and the ripples on the clear water are delightful.

The human eye can take it all in, and sort it out, but the camera cannot cope with so many contrasts.

The camera is set up on the tripod. I chose a very low ISO, set the aperture at F22.0 to capture the depth of field, and set a shutter speed that gave a "correct" exposure for the brilliant, sun-drenched meadow at the back. I used a flash gun "off camera", holding it by hand on the left to light the tree and the dark shadowy bank of the stream.

The result is not quite as lovely as the one seen by the human eye, but it's as near as I could get to it.

Monday 15 September 2008

Whacky Racers - Serious Racers - # 08/219

Serious Racers: these ladies brought their superbly maintained Cornish Pilot Cutter (a Southwest of England style sea going boat) all the way from Warmond near Leiden in Holland.
These ladies, no less serious, dressed up and rowed all the way down to Greenwich in style.

Sunday 14 September 2008

The Great River Race 2008 - My Pic - # 08/218

Yesterday the skies cleared and the "S.A.D" clouds disappeared. Many rowing enthusiasts
travelled from all over the world, carrying their boats, to take part in the annual Great River Race. http://www.greatriverrace.co.uk/

"Whacky Racers" and tough cross-ocean competition rowing adventurers took part. Boats were handicapped and placed in numbered classes for the 22 mile row. Boats started from Ham House, Ham and rowed 22 miles down to Greenwich.

This main photo sums it all up. Every type of boat you can imagine and flags from around the world are getting ready for the Start. I'll show a few other shots later - from whacky to more serious.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Brave tourists set against grey sky - # 08/217

I don't approve of these little tricks with clever editing software. But I couldn't resist using it to put over the vision of these brave souls in their rain coats sitting down to an "al fresco" lunch. Suddenly we have been forced to remember why English life is generally lived indoors, or else engaging in really extreme adventure sports e.g. like trying to beat the Australians at our national game of cricket. The weather this year....to be more precise "the cloud conditions".....is truly awful. Nothing but thick grey cloud for weeks on end. Often it does not rain. It's just utterly dull. But when it rains; it rains!!!!

Perhaps the second half of September will be kinder. Normally it is a wonderful time of year in England: calm and warm and sunny with a special tangible quality in the atmosphere.

Friday 12 September 2008

Thursday 11 September 2008

All made by human hand- # 08/215

Hand-painted ancient Chinese vases; the folds of a dress painted by a 17th Century master painter; a hand-crafted gilded frame; a hand-made lamp shade all set against wood paneling hand-cut by the finest carpenters.

Hand-held Olympus E3 using hand-chosen Aperture F8.0 to control depth of field. Man-made shutter firing at 1/13th sec. The camera's humanly devised electronic brain, made on machines conceived and constructed by man chose ISO 3,200 after looking through a man-made Olympus 14-35mm SWD F2.0 lens, designed and made by human optical engineers. The light source came from electricity generated and transmitted by man's industrial endeavour.

This man thinks it's all a miracle.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

The Bar Fly does "Textures" - # 08/214

We're back in the Bell Inn East Molesey, built around 1460.

The Bar Fly was fascinated by the textures of the ancient wattle and daub walls, the brick and the rough old oak beams. Of course the "traditional Faithful Dog" had to be included.

So: Olympus C7070 mounted on table with trusty bean bag to steady it; lock in a low ISO to eliminate grainy "noise" and give a nice long, slow exposure to bring out all the details and richness. Make sure the aperture is right to ensure that both near and far are pin sharp; use a remote release rather than timer to allow me to control the moment when to fire the shutter. White balance set to "tungsten/incandescent" to eliminate false "orange" cast from the lights, and give a better white colour rendering. And, naturally, remember to switch off the flash.

Result: a nice clear true-to-life memory of a pleasant evening in delightful company. That's what the "Richmond upon Thames Bar Fly Occasional Series" is all about.

(The photo looks good in B & W, but I wanted to bring out the warmth of colour and texture rather than the tonal effect and drama of the B & W version.)

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Red, white, black and a touch of steel - # 08/213

Another attempt to amuse myself on a wet, grey day.

The red salt pot stands out nicely and livens things up. The polished black granite provides a pleasing reflection and the white ceramic sugar bowl contrasts dramatically with the black.

The tiny dots are reflections and little flecks of salt or sugar that twinkle like stars in the black vastness of Outer Space.

The stainless steel spoon shows pleasing pin-points of light and I notice a strange cascade of stardust that seems to be flowing out from the bowl of the spoon.

The light comes from a very large handheld torch. The camera is tripod-mounted and the white balance set for "tungsten".

The Olympus C7070 wz was manually spot-focused on the word "table" using close range macro, and the Aperture was set manually at f8.0 to give a longer depth of field. The ISO was manually fixed at ISO 100; the shutter was released remotely to avoid shake and fired at 1/6th of a second.

It's not a work of art, but I am pleased by the richness, clarity and depth, which are the qualities I wanted to capture.

Monday 8 September 2008

Vase leaf and teapot - # 08/212

The weather is awful. Not only is it raining heavily day after day, but the sky is totally grey, covered for weeks on end with thick cloud that obscures the sun. Tomatoes are not ripening, but bushes and weeds are growing strongly provoking visions of severe hard labour in the garden.

I turned to indoor "still life" photos to distract myself.

The lovely red hue on the tea pot and its shape caught my eye and then next to it the vase and leaf, lit by a brief, but welcome, moment of brightness shining into the room.

Sunday 7 September 2008

I've been bad - # 08/211

I've no idea whether this insect is a "beneficial" i.e. "good" insect or a harmful, therefore "bad" insect.

I have a strong suspicion that the concepts of beneficial or harmful are related to what we Humans regard as good or bad for Us, rather than some totally "objective" rating outside the Human domain.

Anyway: I now think that for a long time I have definitely been "bad". I have always respected the insect world, but never paid much attention to it. But now, having more time to reflect and also benefiting from a camera with macro capability I am beginning to think that perhaps I ought to apologise to the insect world.

I don't know what this specimen is. But I see that it is wonderfully made and not unlike me. It has a head, with two magnificent eyes. It also has a cleverly made "armour-plated" body (not at all like me). It's attractive, with excellent dress and colour sense (just admire those Italian-style padded shoulders); exactly like me!..........So, Yes: I would like to think that it and I could be friends and agree.

Camera: Olympus C7070 wz

Friday 5 September 2008

The security camera - # 08/210

........ A rather fine looking example of the species with special sensors and technologically advanced "illumination" systems mounted in the two side pods.

It stands on the margin between a rather fraught looking "enlightened" Left peering towards the ever increasing "darkness" and murkiness that is developing on the Right. The source of "enlightenment" is not obvious, and we cannot see what is hidden within the "darkness". Is there actually a silver lining?

Britain is highly advanced in the technology and application of electronic and remote surveillance techniques and has lived with a very real "terrorist threat" far longer than America. Nevertheless, I am still left with the sense that we - all of us in the "enlightened" West - seem to be observing and worrying and confronting rather than solving the problem. Perhaps the camera needs to turn and peer in the other direction.

Thursday 4 September 2008

The security fence - # 08/209

Holly bush and sharp metal surroud the cadet hut.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

The security guard - # 08/208

You must be hard to be a security guard.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Solid as an oak - / # 08/207

These oak trees are 700 years old. How do you present an image of a dead straight line of oak trees in the middle of an ancient landscape surrounded by modernity?

The trees were planted 700 years ago as the boundary line to a farm. These, and others, still show clearly that once upon a time something was there, and that men calculated it and made it for a purpose.

This is interesting, exciting even, if you are in the right mood. But showing it in a photo is almost impossible.

There they stand; huge, gnarled, and in a dead straight line, forming a visible statement of a legally recognised boundary. They are absolutely healthy and they survived. We did not cut them down to build yet another warship to bash the Spanish, fight the Dutch or punish that rogue Napoleon. They have survived for 700 years, and they still make their statement. This is the boundary. It stops here.

(I hope that my "post-proceesing" efforts haven't annoyed you. Believe me, without some form of "dramatising" these oaks are "non-photo".)

Monday 1 September 2008

Deep in the Wild Wood; who's that creeping up on me? - # 08/206

Deep in the middle of the Richmond Park you might imagine that you have gone back in time and are finding your way through the ancient "Wild-Wood" that once covered the whole of the British Isles.

Birches, oaks, lichens fungi, grassland and bracken host a multitude of wild creatures.

The pathway seen here is actually an ancient highway, 900 years old, between two settlements, and not far is the site of the gallows where highway robbers were hanged. At that time there was an average of barely 14 people per square mile in the whole county. Today its the most densely populated part of the UK. But that seems like nothing but a bad dream when you are in the middle of the Park.