April 2020 As It Happened
Well this could potentially be the shortest blog I've ever written seeing as were all still locked down due to the horedous Corona virus outbreak that has wrecked havock on the world.
So obviously going out and doing landscape photography hasn't really been an option, and I hope everyone else has done the sensible thing and stayed inside to keep everybody else around them safe too.
At this time my attention turned to editing some old shots and going through the archives to see if I could improve any so that's pretty much what I'm going to share with you and keep praying that all this will be over soon but as it stands I'm fairly certain we will be locked down for the whole of April at least.
So the first shot I started with was on old image taken 5 years ago in 2015 of Banjo Pier, Swanage when camera gear wasn't quite so good and post processing understanding wasn't as in depth as it is now.
The images will look fairly similar but the main thing that was done was some levels and curves adjustment to give certain areas a bit more pop.
The original seemed a bit flat and needed some specific contrast adjustment around the pier itself and there was a small bit of haloing around it which had bothered me.
I decided to re size it too to a 16:9 ratio just to make it more gallery friendly.
The colours of the sky were also less "Muddy" now due to proper curves adjustment making the colours more defined and less colour cast.
Hopefully you will see the difference and feel like me, it is now a better shot.
The next image to see a facelift was taken in 2013 and was of the old pier at Swanage, but not the normal way everyone seems to take it from the new pier.
This is a really simple image and has no technical merit really but its one I've always loved but several things about it bothered me.
The usual one was the muddiness of the colours so this was addressed with curves adjustments which also gave the brights a bit more of a boost.
The transitions of the original image were processed in 8 bit mode (Many years ago) so a switch to 16 bit mode made the transitions much smoother and the colours blend in as nature had intended,
There was some serious flare and light bleed occurring on the post directly under the sun so this was taken care of by backing off the red channel in curves with a layer mask over everything else then a small bit of dodge & burning on the pillar do keep the darker silhouetted look to it.
Finally to try something different I applied an Orton effect to just the highlighted areas, I wanted the shadows of the old timbers to stay sharp but I felt the highlights really benefitted from this softer dreamier look.
This is an old image and it really does show but I felt I had breathed enough new life into it that it could warrant a place in my portfolio again, if not for the image itself but for what it means to me personally, great memories of a great morning.
Last thing I tried was a new crop to 16:9 ratio but to be honest I wasn't as keen on it so I kept it at its original ratio, despite there being a lot of space at the top I felt it belonged there and showed more of the sunrise and told more of a story, but I keep coming back to it and can't make my mind up.
The funny thing is as soon as I had posted up the re edited version of this picture I sold a printed version of it which was a right result and proved it was worth giving it a spruce up.
Trawling through the archives I found a picture of Weymouth seafront which had some very controversial lasers fitted to it I believe back in 2012 which have since either stopped working, gone dim or have been switched off so I felt it was worth resurrecting a picture of them so they could at least be seen when they were at their best.
The obvious choice for this image was a panoramic format as there was very little else worth seeing on it and after experimenting with various ratios I settled on 3:1 ratio as it gave the best view of all four lasers.
I remember taking the shot at the time and it was quite frustrating as the lasers would move to a new pattern very quickly so catching them just right was hard work, couple that with it being windy and the poles they were mounted on tended to shake but I was happy with this image so it earned a place in the gallery if for nothing else but as a record of what it was once like when these green lasers cut through the coast of Weymouth.
The next image to rescue from the eternal doom of the hard drive was one of Portland Bill lighthouse that was again very old, around 2011 but I had forgotten I even had it.
It looked reasonable when I started on it but in truth when it was finished I just wasn't into it really, The composition was pretty poor and despite the nice conditions the image just didn't do anything for me so it was destined for the bin once again, funny how you just don't gel with an image even after putting some love & care into it.
The fact was I had much better pictures of Portland Bill so it didn't really seem worth keeping, wish I had realised that before putting time into it to process it !
Another shot that I felt needed refreshing was actually a fairly recent shot and I liked the original but there was just something about it that bothered me and I could never really put my finger on what it was so I decided to re edit it from scratch and see if I could iron out what was bothering me.
In the original I felt the rainbow lacked a little pop so this was addressed with a minor levels adjustment and I also wasn't happy with the balance of the whole scene, the church which is the dominant subject was way too far over on the left as I had wanted to catch the light on the trees on the right but I felt it benefitted from a small crop sticking to the original aspect ratio but the balance of the scene now felt better.
Some muddiness of the colour was removed with curves adjustment with a small reduction in the red channel to give the blues/cyans a bit more tone in the sky as well.
A small reduction in contrast was also needed as the original scene was really heavy due to the intense light pouring in and dark rain clouds.
I was pleased with the end result so it was switched round in my gallery in favour of the new version.
The next image I found was quite a shock, it was on my site and I just hadn't seen it for ages and it was bad, really bad !
Taken back in 2016 the processing should have been at a reasonable level but it appears I had got quite excited with the sliders and it had been done on my laptop and just overcooked it really.
The original image was horrific, there were halos and the colours certainly weren't as they were on the day so the image was started from scratch again.
Its very easy to get carried away with temperature and saturation sliders but hopefully the re edited version was a much better reflection of the conditions on the day along with no more halos from poorly done masking.
The image may not look as dramatic now, but I'm much happier with it.
Where do I start with the next image, well it was terrible ! Mainly due to poor processing and the fact the shot had so much contrast in it, but yet that was the appeal.
Because the light had been so hard its exactly what I liked about the shot so I decided to give it a rework.
The original image was hideous, I mean the sky had purple areas for goodness sake, how I could have not noticed that I don't know ?
The first thing to deal with was to vastly reduce the overall image contrast and be more selective with where it went by use of layer masks.
The next issue to address was the wildly out there colours which were corrected using curves adjustment and a calibrated monitor, something I wished I had way back then !
The final image while a million times better than the original but was still a 50/50, I just wasn't sure if it was a keeper or not and if it should make the gallery ? I mean I knew I could shoot it better so maybe it was time to be honest with myself and take it out of the gallery but I haven't decided yet and will let it sit on the fence for a while.
A look through my pictures from the Brecon Beacons revealed a few in need of attention too so I managed to get three images done from this little lot of White Castle, It was a beautiful sunny evening and the castle was glowing but the images never really reflected that so I needed to address it.
Quite a difference in this one, again was started from scratch as it really lacked the punch & colour that was there and looked quite washed out.
The colours were also way off which seems to be a reoccurring theme with my older images.
Contrast was addressed to be into the lower half of the image which was just out of sunlight and now you can see the shadow plus the castle itself has now got a much fresher red tone where the light was hitting it, I think the image looks far better now and will sit well in the gallery.
Added bonus that while trawling the archives for this trip I decided to process another which I also liked when it was finished.
The last image of the trip I found just lacked punch and was muddy, it needed a rework but not a major one.
Not a lot appears to have been done to this image when you first look at it but it now has more pop and definition due to a small levels adjustment on selected areas and some doge & burning to bring out the detail and nail the contrast.
This removed the muddy look of the image and was once again gallery worthy.
Seeing as its bluebell season and we can't go out the inevitable happened and I had a trawl of the archives to see if there was anything worth editing from previous trips and I found a couple of images that I decided to have a go at, all three were taken in 2019
Two very different images, one utilising the light being cast over the bluebells and another directly into it at sunrise.
Im not usually a fan of the direct light approach as the images are really contrasty and can make the bluebells look a little washed out but I felt the image came out pretty well in the end so will probably give it a home in the gallery and the 2nd image I liked as its just a nice reminder of a great morning while out chasing these wonderful flowers which sadly it looks like we won't get a chance to do this year as at the time of writing lockdown is going to be till at least the 11th of May and most bluebells are starting to go over by then, Never mind, the bigger picture is I get to stay safe and keep others safe so that's a small price to pay.
Another one was pulled from the archives and I couldn't make my mind if it looked better as a standard crop or as a 16:9 ratio, maybe you could let me know if you find one better or worse than the other ?
I have done a decent amount of printing in April as orders seemed to go through the roof which was nice and certainly very welcome too with little or no work for the foreseeable future.
I've really enjoyed doing this and nothing beats seeing your work in print and of course its so nice when people e mail to say how happy they are with the work and its a very good feeling to know that its
hanging on someones wall.
This is just a quick phone video to give you an idea of the prints and how they come out.
I really must do a video one day on this with my camera so you can see in much more detail, it would also show the differences in the types of paper I use.
Its April 20th now and the lockdown is really starting to get to me, This is the longest I have ever been inside I think and there's been a few gorgeous sunsets in the evening but I'm still doing the right thing and staying in, however there has been a spanner thrown into the works.
The official guidelines say that you may travel to the countryside for your daily exercise, but your exercise period must exceed that of your journey which wouldn't be a problem BUT and its a big but, the Dorset police say they are still following previous government guidelines that say if its not essential travel then you can't go out.
This causes a massive moral dilemma, on one hand the government appear to be allowing it and on the other the police say no, add that to the moral element of it which would say no stay at home and there is no clear answer.
Guidelines at this time are very unclear and I think as responsible people we all have to err on the side of caution and stay home.
The temptation to go out is really hard to fight when it seems like there is a way to do it but at the same time I just can't justify it to myself.
I've been back & forth with this subject and wrestled with myself over it but the want to take pictures is not an essential need so therefore I have my answer even if I don't like it.
I know many others are having this dilemma too and some of them have decided that they are ok to go out and that's their choice, I just wish they wouldn't advertise it and make others feel like its ok to go, or to feel like they are missing out so go anyway.
Well I said things were getting to me and they have, so as usual I decided to fall back on humour to get me through things and decided to post the following image on Instagram stories.
The funny thing was I got several messages from people who just looked at the first picture asking right away, where is this ! Don't you just hate that ! They totally missed the joke of the whole thing and were swiftly told to stay home ! But it did show that quite a few were going out which was a bit of a shame really.
For the vast majority it caused a really good chuckle and I got plenty of messages saying they loved it, its stuff like this that keeps the community going, having good laughs with friends and this has never been more obvious to me about how much we should value that and look out for not only our friends but also people we don't know, people who may need a laugh as they're struggling through all this and totally understandable.
At this times one of the most inspirational stories about is one that you will all know about but that is the simply amazing legend that is Captain Tom Moore who captured the nations hearts when trying to raise £1000 by walking a hundred laps of his house at 99 years of age.
Not only did he mange to do his laps but he absolutely obliterated it and at the time of writing he is just over 30 million pounds.
Just stop and say that figure out loud to yourself, 30 million pounds, staggering isn't it.
Captain Tom is still battling for Britain all these years later and he's also bringing out the generosity and good nature of the nation and that is something special.
We salute you Captain Tom, you have done way more than just raise a staggering amount of money (And yes I did donate, Hope you did too) You have managed to bring out the good in people of the nation and that can't be under estimated.
Tom has been promoted to a honouree Colonel on his 100th birthday, a fitting tribute along with a fly by of the spirit of Britain, the Spitfire.
Now I know this isn't photography related but I just had to give this inspirational man a mention and a nod for everything he has done, The same goes for all NHS & Care workers as well as all front line staff for all businesses that are still going, these people are true heroes and deserve our respect and grattitude.
To my photography friends who are front line in any capacity, from shop workers to care or NHS, Thank you and stay safe.
Finally a quick plug for my print of the month special offer, for May its Old Harry Rocks with a beautiful sunset from a very memorable visit.
If you would like a copy of this print on the finest paper available simply click HERE to see the special offer and save yourself some money and get free shipping.
Happy lockdown, Stay safe.