Moving from 35mm to 50mm!

For the past while I have mostly been taking photographs with a 35mm lens, so much so that I feel very comfortable using this focal length, it seems to suit my documentary style and provides a wide frame within which to arrange the various elements.

Recently I was reminded that Henri Cartier-Bresson invariably photographed with a 50mm lens and that he never cropped photographs.  I decided to take a walk around Belfast’s historic entries with a 50mm Summilux lens and to rely on zone focusing at f8.  “F8 and be there” is attributed to the New York photojournalist Arthur Fellig, although I see that some attribute the quotation to the famous war photojournalist Robert Capa.  This aperture is wide enough to let in sufficient light and small enough to provide adequate depth of field. All I had to worry about was composition!  

As I continue to explore street photography and the rangefinder camera I am finding photography even more enjoyable by just working with one camera body and one prime lens with all the freedom this brings.  However I did find using a 50mm lens a little bit more challenging with its narrower angle of field forcing me to frame more carefully.  On the plus side I did like how the viewfinder on the rangefinder camera allowes you to observe what was entering the leaving the frame.  This added information is really useful.  Also zone focusing does not always produce pin sharp focus at full resolution, something which digital photographers are increasing becoming obsessed with.

Looking back at the famous street photographers who used expensive Leica cameras, they did not capture pixel peeking sharpness!  They instead concentrated on capturing emotion, which is really what photography is about, photographs that tell a story.  In HCB style here are the results of my Belfast entry explorations.

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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. 

Travel light photography

For quite a some time now I have been using Fujifilm X system cameras and enjoying the experience, especially the lack of neck strain.  I now seldom use the big and bulky DSLR cameras, except when the occasion demands it.  However for the past couple of weeks I have been using a full frame rangefinder camera, a complete new experience for me. Manual focus and no bells and whistles have brought me back to what photography used to be like.

My recent monochrome images have been produced with this camera.  Being forced to slow down using manual focus might help to improve my photographic eye, I have also being trying out zone focusing and being surprised when my images were sharp!  But what has been most enjoyable is the experience of going out with just one camera and one prime lens.  There is a freedom with this which just lets you concentrate on making that image.

Earlier today I visited Island Hill and the three monochrome images are the result. Yesterday I visited the same location and captured the colour photograph.

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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. 

Print it big!

This past week I have conducted a small experiment with photographs that have featured in my last couple of blogs.  The problem with digital photography is that few images taken ever get printed and Facebook is killing the photographic print.  So I decided to print some myself and to select two printing labs to print the same images for comparison, one local and the other from Stockport.

From the three options my own printer and the locally based printing lab produced similar results, so I was quite pleased that my own printer, a Canon Pro 9500 MkII, was up to the job.  However DS Colour Labs Ltd from Stockport provided an outstanding service at half the price of the locally based print lab and their print quality was simply outstanding.  I definitely recommend them.

Printing the image big is also recommended, in this case I printed 12 x 16 inch prints which rendered fine detail, the following image of the prints does not really do them justice.

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I personally use Fujifilm Satin inkjet printing paper which gives fine results.  I also noted that DS Colour Labs Ltd also used Fujifilm paper.  The prints were printed on Fujifilm Pearl Crystal Archive paper which gave my monochrome prints an almost silver metallic appearance. When selecting images to print those which show good contrast and a good dynamic range look great. I would be happy to settle on this paper but would like to see how colour prints are rendered.

Finally, rather than viewing your photographs on a PC screen try printing them!

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 black & white print!

I am still in my monochrome phase!  By selecting carefully the right composition it can often be better to render the image in monochrome.  Some people print in monochrome simply because the colour version was weak; this is a terrible reason to choose monochrome!  So what am I trying to achieve?  The following image is Kilmood Parish Church, a five minute drive from where I live:

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What I am looking for in a monochrome image is a good dynamic range from pure black to pure white.  I want lots of detail that will almost produce a 3D image, of course a photograph can only be two dimensional but you can get a 3D look!  In this image I was focusing on the headstone in the foreground, yet with a f4 aperture I was able to achieve good depth of field to the church tower in the background.  The right light does help, weak winter sunlight – a great time to take photographs!

Of course holding a 12 x 16 inch print in your hand is the real test, the computer screen does not do it justice and even less a Facebook posting ;-)

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 lines

This blog is more about composition, something I don’t talk enough about!  But in framing a photograph the lines of direction, or to put it another way, the direction of force within the image are important, among other things.  It is the leading lines that direct how you read the image, they direct your eyes into the image.  There are of course other visual influences such as colour and lightness and darkness.

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In the above image I used the line of the roof on the left to draw your eye towards the centre of the image and in this case it works.

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The use of lines in this image is quite different, perhaps more subtle.  I have used the line of the roof of a burial vault in the foreground with that of the line of the church gable end roof to frame the shadow of a branch from trees that were behind me.  The church tower at the other end of the building provide a depth of the image, which incidentally was taken at f2.8, not an aperture associated with deep depth of field.  This is where a wide angle lens comes into its own, in this case a 35mm lens.

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.

Seductive Red!

Red is a seductive colour, it dominates the image and pulls the eye forcing you to perhaps miss other features in the image.  In the right circumstances it may be appropriate to desaturate the colour or to convert the image to monochrome.  This photograph is one I took of Brunswick Accordion Band from Annalong Co Down and they published it on their Facebook Page as a monochrome image.  It worked and gave me the idea for this blog!

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The monochrome image I my view helps you to see other features more clearly, such as the band members’ feet being bang on the beat; well they are a first class band! Notice how the red tunics have become a grey shade, which I think blends in very well with the sky and the sea in the background. Rather than colours clashing with one another the shades complement each other thereby providing a pleasing balance.

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The band are releasing a CD soon, you can look out for that!

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.  

 

Monochrome or Colour

For this short blog I have returned to Nendrum Monastic Site, the colour version of this scene has been featured before, but this time I want to compare it with a monochrome conversion.  Here are both versions:

Nendrum Monastic Site

 

Nendrum Monastic Site

The monochrome was created using Silver Efex Pro and a preset selected which makes use of the full dynamic range within the image, hence the fuller detail in the sky.  The problem is that when making monochrome versions I never know which one I like the best, so perhaps you can drop me an email and let me know.  Somehow I think the monochrome has created greater depth, almost a 3D effect.

The joy of photography is that there are endless possibilities!

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.

 

Using the correct exposure

Returning to my Using Flash blog published on 1st April, I have been asked for some further explanation.  The image below represents less that 20% of the size of the original image posted.  In this case the cropped image is shown here at full resolution and the point of focus was placed on the queen piece in the middle when the shot was taken.

The purpose for going back to this shot is to highlight the importance of accurate exposure to ensure that the subtlety of light can be distinguished and that the surface texture can be captured.  Note the faint line of shadow created by two slight sources, as indicated in the first blog the main light source was the stronger of the two!

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So how was the light measured and the overall camera setting selected.  A light meter was used.  First of all the main light source was measured to the level determined necessary. Then the secondary light source was measured to ensure that it was weaker than the main light source.  Lastly a reading was taken measuring the two light sources together and this data dialled into the camera.  This ensured a correctly exposed final 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.

 

Colour or Black and White?

I am returning to a photograph that I took on New Year’s Day and which featured in my last blog.  Having viewed it in both colour and black and white I am asking myself which looks best.

Tonal contrast plays an important role in any photograph, but it is more noticeable in monochrome images.  An image with no contrast is dull and uninteresting.  Contrast can be subtle or it can be striking but with no contrast there is no photograph.  It is the contrast which helps to create lines and shapes that lead the eyes through the photograph.

The removal of colour can help the eye concentrate upon the important features of the image, sometimes colour is a distraction.  In this case the architectural features of this iconic building.  Now to the image in question, below are the two versions:

Titanic Signature Building

Titanic Signature Building

Notice how the illuminated blue line on the right hand side of the image is not so distracting as it is in the colour version, also the mood of the black and white image is very different from the original.

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.