SNOW, BUT NOT TODAY

A few photographs from 2013 as I can’t get out today. These were taken at Clumber Park in 2013.
The temperature was a chilly -10, colder than I would be willing to endure now.

FEEDING TIME IN WINTER
HOAR FROST AT CLUMBER PARL
FEEDING THE DUCKS

A SUCCESSFUL FAILURE

This is Ticket to Ride, one of my more successful images in my early days of competing. It was accepted into Salons in twelve different countries and won a Gold Medal, a Silver Medal and an Honourable Mention. It’s a composite image; nearly every element in it was placed there by me, including the ticket in her hat. I worked hard on the final overlays to blend the tones. I should be very proud of it, but it makes my eyes bleed to look at it.
Why? Because the perspective is completely wrong.
I shot the model at a group night, in the days before I hired my own model, where you had to dive in for a few minutes to take your turn, no input into pose, costume etc. I was happy enough at the time. The model, Kelli Smith, knew what she was doing and the studio owner excelled at lighting.
It was only when I came to put it all together that I fell flat on my face. I had the photographs of the railway station already, so

all I had to do was cut out Kelli from the stool she’d been sitting on and pop her on the bench. Right?
I couldn’t have been more wrong. If you look closely, it appears that Kelli’s legs would have been about six feet long to have been in that position. And it’s all down to perspective.
I was looking down on Kelli when I photographed her, using (probably) an 85mm portrait lens. I shot the railway station at eye level with a 50mm lens. To get the perspective right, I should have shot both pictures in exactly the same circumstances – bent knee, same distance, same lens, same lighting etc. OK, same lighting can be difficult but that’s adjustable in Photoshop.
And, finally, shadows – they’re all over the place. I’ve learnt a lot since then and still learning all the time.

But, hey, two medals and an HM – I’ll take that.


UP, UP AND AWAY

Up, Up and Away was one of those whimsical pictures that ‘just appears’. I was keen to do something lighthearted and with a bit of colour, as a lot of my pictures can be, shall we say, a bit on the sombre side. Vicky May, the model and a talented actress who has appeared in the West End of London, had brought along this patterned dress and the umbrella was leaning on the wall in the corner of the studio. Along with Vicky’s hairstyle and shoes, the whole thing was taking on a decidedly upbeat and quirky feel.

I felt a ‘Mary Poppins’ coming on and dug the red ribbon out of my props box, quickly shooting the dangling foot.
It wasn’t until I was assembling the whole thing a bit later that I remembered the squawking gulls (a little bit of faffing required on their beaks) and so they were added in, looking suitably shocked at this strange creature floating in their air space.
The only thing left to do was add a cheerful sky and there it was – one of the quickest composites I’ve ever done and it still makes me smile.

A FEW WINTER BIRDS

As we’re still confined to barracks with not much hope of any bird photography on the horizon, I’ve collected a few winter birds taken in the East Midlands (UK) over the last few years. We can only hope that one day we’ll be out in the sunshine again listening to birdsong.

LITTLE OWL
WAXWING
GOLDFINCH

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all …
Emily Dickinson

SHORT EARED OWL
GOLDFINCH
WREN

AND WE HAVE SNOW …

NOT MUCH, TO BE HONEST, MAYBE IT’S A COUPLE OF INCHES, IF THAT. BUT IT’S ENOUGH FOR WARNINGS NOT TO TRAVEL UNLESS IT’S ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

SORRY, BUT BORIS GOT THERE BEFORE YOU!

HERE ARE A COUPLE OF GREYLAG GEESE WHO OBVIOUSLY DIDN’T GET THE WARNING.




A LITTLE BIT OF BALLET

BEGINNERS PLEASE

After listening to Boris on the television tonight I think it’s time for a little light relief and these pictures have always brought a smile to my face.

PAS DE DEUX

It was very much a family affair which meant everyone was relaxed. Martyn (left) is Hannah’s dad and Mason (right) is Hannah’s partner.

FADED DREAMS

Over the Christmas and New Year period, we watched a lot of old films on television, including Sunset Boulevard, starring the wonderful Gloria Swanson. It’s one of my all-time favourites and I had it firmly in mind while making the photograph below. The model, who I only ever knew as Peaches, was perfect for what I wanted and this somewhat unconventional portrait – Faded Dreams – became one of my favourites.

THE RED DRESS

Back in the days when we could go out and about without a care in the world, I had a three hour studio session booked with Hannah, my favourite model (and also my grand-daughter). I had quite a few different scenarios in my mind and decided to buy a dress off eBay for some of them. My eyes lit on this beautiful red dress with multi-frills on the skirt, a nipped in waist and a sprinkling of sparkles. Perfect! I just knew it would look fantastic on Hannah (I was right) and ordered it. Imagine my horror when it arrived in an A4 envelope, the material was nearly as thin as tissue paper and the whole thing was crushed beyond recognition.
When I tell you that I haven’t used an iron in over thirty years, you can understand why my first impulse was to throw it in the bin and put it down to experience. However, I set the ironing board up (well, Jan set it up. I didn’t know how to do it.) and spent a whole afternoon pressing the creases out of it. On the way to the studio, the dress had two seats all to itself as I was paranoid about it getting creased again.
Anyway, it photographed beautifully and I was delighted with the results. I still have quite a few frames from the day to work on so, hopefully, if my photographic mojo ever comes back I’ll revisit them.
The dress? I left it at the studio for another model to wear on another day. And I haven’t touched an iron since.

Left: Don’t Look Back. Right: The Party’s Over.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

We had planned to have a drive out today, secure in our in-car bubble, to see what birds we could spot. The first rain spots hit the windscreen as we drove off and, while never progressing to heavy rain, persisted enough to spoil any chance of decent photographs. We confined ourselves to a local tootle and managed to see a little egret, a few magpies and crows, a handful of sparrows and a small flock of black-headed gulls. So, I have rooted through the archives to show you what might have been.

I forgot the male pheasant we saw in a field near Holme Pierrepont, so he gets a frame all to himself. I think he deserves it as he’s very handsome.

LENS BABY TULIPS

I’ve been doing a bit of archiving / cataloguing while watching the rain run down the window. I found a little batch of florals I’d shot with my lens baby. It was a few years ago and I can’t remember which lens it was, but I remember it was a lot of fun. The lens now languishes forgotten in a cupboard somewhere, so I think it’s time I found it and learnt how to use it properly.

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