Finding those golden rays

Over the past few days I have been making repeat visits to Island Hill in Co Down, sometimes two or three times in the one day.  I often rephotograph locations that I have been to before and find that it always pays off by helping me to find the “right light”. 

As on my previous visits I left the camera bag behind and just carried the camera fitted with a 35mm prime lens.  On this visit I selected f11 as my chosen aperture and set the infinity symbol inline with f11 on the lens scale, remembering the quotation “f11 and hold her steady”!  The main benefit being that I didn’t have to worry about focusing thereby enabling me to concentrate on composition.

The other thing I have been doing is limiting my exposures to 36, just as if it was a film camera, a discipline I have been observing lately.  From my visit this afternoon I have chosen two images:

Following where the light falls!

Following where the light falls!

Chasing the sunbeams!

Chasing the sunbeams!

Fujifilm X Pro 1 and the Leica rangefinder cameras are just made for this style of photography.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission. 

Photographic development

Out of nothing comes nothing!

I think most photographers have gone through the phase of devouring photographic magazines and drooling over new gear in the belief that a better camera or that new lens would help them make better photographs, wrong – making images is a creative process.

My own photographic journey has taken me down many avenues and probably the single most important influence on my photographic efforts has been the Canadian photographer David duChemin, it’s worth googling his work!  My interest in photography has been a life long interest, but it’s only been since 2004 that my interest became more serious and my approach more planned.  

Deciding to concentrate on photographing Ulster themes has been an important step in developing my own photographic style.  Having a vision was also an important step forward, so I hope my vision comes through in my Ulster Photography blogs. The missing stage is creativity, which most certainly is my weak spot!  

By being creative does not mean producing original work, but rather using your own particular vision to bring influence to bear on your work and by asking a different set of questions, other than the normal technical considerations, in order to achieve a particular result.

Now for the image featured in this blog, Elephant Rock off the North Antrim coast.  Taken in early evening it was shot straight into the setting sun which presented some technical difficulties.  But from a creative point of view it looks much better in monochrome.  It’s more dramatic and illustrates the unique beauty of this part of the Antrim coast more powerfully than in colour.  I wanted to show smooth water lapping the beach in the foreground by using a slow shutter speed, but not too slow to render the water appearing unrealistic.  To control  the brightness of the sun a ND filter was required.  

It’s not a perfectly taken image, but it’s a true reflection of what I saw and it creates the mood and atmosphere which I felt at the time. Recently filming for the Game of Thrones was undertaken at this location – you can see why!  Making photographs of what you feel is very different from taking photographs of what you see.

Ballintoy Coastal Shoot

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

The gift of photography

Many will know that one of my photographic influencers is the Vancouver based photographer David duChemin. His recent blog speaks of the gift of photography.

Last night I received one of those gifts while driving home at sunset when I came across this isolated tree in front of a sunset. Making this image rewarded me as the image maker and I hope that it equally rewards you as the viewer.

In making the image I walked into a field from the roadside to isolate the tree as the main subject allowing the sunset to be the other element in the image. It is the photographer who decides what is in and what is out of the frame, how close to get and how far to step back and what exposure values to key in.

Pictures should tell stories or at least create moods. To a greater or lessor extent we all live in societies where politicians mess up, we need images like this to calm us down!

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

The Photographer’s Eye

Great photographs do not depend on the latest and most expensive gear, although good gear helps!  Photography begins with what you see and how you conceptualise an image. In other words keeping your eyes open and being aware of your surroundings.

This means looking for lines, patterns, symmetry, shades, contracts and contradictions while wandering around.  Thinking of concepts when taking photographs can be a fun exercise and a photograph which illustrate a concept will always make a powerful image.

Here is an image I took this week:

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For anyone who has lived in Northern Ireland through the troubles the irony of this image will speak for itself!

 All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Looking for something different!

This blog title can be read in two ways, yes its different because its not dealing with an image taken in Northern Ireland, the normal subject of this blog.  But what I am really getting at is that photographers should look for something different when taking photographs.   That something that might make the viewer take a second look!

This is the image I have come up with, it was taken in Amsterdam in September 2010:

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So what is different about it?  When I first look at it my view is that its pretty ordinary, obviously a bridge over a canal.  There are no people in the scene so you are left wondering so what!  Then you notice that the bicycle is chained on the other side of the bridge railing leaning towards the canal below!  This is why I took the shot, if the bicycle had been on the other side I probably would not have taken this photograph.

The simple lesson is, look for the unusual!

 All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Creating that mood!

I am returning to Nendrum again, a place near to my home where I visit on a regular basis in an attempt to capture something different.  Sometimes the light obliges and on other occasions it frustrates me. My visits usually coincide with early evening when the sun is setting and its position in the sky is behind the site ruins.  Here is an older image which produced pleasing results.

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In this case I am content for the ruins to be almost silhouetted, allowing just a hint of the stone detail to show, as it is really the sky that I am interested in.  No filters were used, but In Lightroom I applied a Fuji Velvia 50 preset which converts the image to resemble a print produced by Fuji Velvia transparency film, beloved by landscape photographers.

Given the historical significance of this site to Ulster’s early christianity I think I have created an appropriate mood with this image.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Painting with light

At this point I am working on collating my landscape photographs.  While not professing to be an accomplished landscape photographer I have been asking the question what makes a good landscape shot?

They say the quality of light makes the difference between a great shot and a pretty average shot and I fully agree with this.  It is also said that great shots are to be had in the hour before sunset and after sunrise.  But I have also taken very acceptable images at other times as well.

I think the more you take photographs the more you recognise good light.  You don’t want strong sunlight or clear blue skies.  Instead look for well defused light, interesting cloud formations and often sudden changes in weather produce interest atmospheric results. One such opportunity arose when visiting Stroove Beach, Co Donegal.

Stroove Beach

Stroove BeachStroove Beach

The incoming low pressure and rising winds produced very different images to what you would capture on a sunny day.  Photography is about painting with light and one objective amongst many is to bring out the texture of what you are taking.  Both the rock formations and the colour hue of the clouds are both vital elements in these photographs.   Strip these elements away and you would be left with very bland images. 

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

The Creative Frame

In my previous blog I discussed the printed image and the message or story it conveys. In this blog I want to continue the discussion focusing on the frame and how we use it to make a stronger image that conveys the message more effectively.  For this presentation I will use the same image as in my previous blog.

How the image is framed is important as every line within the frame directs the eye in reading and making sense of the image.  How elements in the frame are arranged in relation to the lines combine to give the image more strength.  The orientation of the frame is another important element in how the image will be viewed and interpretted.  Lets look at the image again.

Lane way from Binevenagh Mountain

The following elements were carefully placed when taking this image.  The forest track was placed to the right hand side and not placed centre stage.  Secondly the tree trunk on the left hand side was used to frame that side of the image and to provide balance.  Note that I did not include the full width of the tree trunk.  Already these elements force you to read the image from bottom to top rather that side to side as does the orientation of the image.

I had considered a square format, which would place the horizon near to the top of the frame.  This might make the Paps of Jura more prominent, which would have been my objective.  However on reflection I decided to leave the image un-cropped as the overhanging branches do serve to add to the depth to the image.  Showing depth was important as distance is one of the themes of this image.  Do you agree?

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

 

 

Enter 2013!

The first blog of 2013 and happy new year to all my readers and first time visitors.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to look back over the old year and assess how successful your photography was and to consider what changes you would like to make.  Photographically 2012 was a busy year with one major project dominating most of the year.  It was also good to collaborate with another photographer throughout the year, Rennie Gribbin Photography.  We have learned from each other, found encouragement and inspired one another.  This is what collaboration is about.   Some images have also been published and its always good to see your images in print.

So what do I want to do in 2013?  Certainly projects are a great way to drive your photography forward and so new projects will be important.  But rather than take just ‘nice’ photographs I want to take images that convey a meaning and say something.  To this end I have selected just one image that I took in Ephesus when I visited Turkey last November.  What do you think it says to you?

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Taken in one of the short tunnels that lead into one of the two theatres in Ephesus I think it portrays a certain mystery.  What do we see when we reach the top of the steps?  What is on the other side?  What are the people doing?  Should I have taken it differently if I could turn the clock back?  Yes, I should have waited to see what other opportunities might present themselves by waiting a little.  A sole person standing at the top looking out might have created a different mood, loneliness perhaps.  So one skill that I need to develop in 2013 is patience, not one of my strong points!  The purpose of photography is not just to take ‘nice’ pictures, but to take pictures that say something.

Let us see what 2013 brings!

 

 

 

Viewing Photographs!

In my last blog I talked about viewing the printed image and I urged you to print it big!  As I continue to think about this it seems logical that to show off your printed photograph to it’s best advantage then it should be properly mounted.

About a year ago I obtained a Logan cutter to cut my own mounts, but I never tried it out until recently and was happily surprised at how easy it was to use, so I have started mounting some of my own images.

With so many people taking photographs these days very view printed photographs see the light of day beyond close family members and even less are printed for a wider audience to see.  When you think about it, what’s is the point of taking photographs if you are not going to share them?

Of course thousands of images are shared every day over the social media viewed on a computer screen, but the printed photograph conveys a far superior viewing experience.  If you think about it, art galleries would be pointless if the same experience could be obtained by viewing the work on a computer!

Ideally a photograph should convey some meaning and tell a story.  The next step in sharing the printed image is to arrange an exhibition and this is something that I might return to in the future.

From the County Londonderry coast looking toward the distant mountains of Jura Island, illustrating Northern Ireland’s closeness to the rest of the British Isles.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.