Dunorlan Park in the Fog

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I was beginning to wonder whether there were any new ways I could photograph Dunorlan after my many earlier visits.

But then this morning, I arrived to find fog. I love the mystery that fog brings a scene and by coincidence I had brought with me my infrared camera which creates enough mystery all of its own.

So forgive me if some of these are quite weird and experimental:

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As a proudly colour blind photographer. I sometimes leave my infrared shots in colour, simply reversing their natural red tint to produce something that looks sort of, but not quite normal:

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Actually, I have genuinely no idea how odd they look- I’ve been told before that some of what I have thought to be bold colour experiments were just plain ordinary:

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Maybe it is just safer to stick with black and white:

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Not wasting the dawn.

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When I travel anywhere else, I will often make the effort to get up early to take pictures in the best light, but here at home it never seems so appealing.

Nevertheless, this morning a few things pushed me out of doors.

It’s been an interesting week with highs and lows. On the plus side, I’ve been really touched by the positive feedback I’ve been getting about this blog and my new facebook page (linked here). Then midweek, as if I wasn’t smug enough, I learned that I had come third in the Amateur Photographer of the year black and white competition for this shot, taken (predictably at dawn) in Grand Central Station in New York:

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All really wonderful, but there has been another side to the end of this week- knowing that I should really be somewhere else. For the last four years at this time, I have been on my school’s charitable trip to the Gambia. (If you are interested, read here.)

This year, because of the vile Ebola virus, we have had to postpone until next July. It is horrible for the kids we take, but much more a real disaster for the villages we help when we are out there. I’ve been worrying this week about the hard times that our friends out there have ahead, but also really selfishly, I can’t deny being disappointed because I’m missing the chance to re-visit such a beautiful place- particularly at dawn:

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If you want to see a few more of my pictures from the last few years, I’ve put them here.

So this morning, I found myself wide awake at 7, with all of these thoughts messing with my sleepy head. I got up, looked out of the window and saw a sky like this:

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So, even though it is Saturday, I rushed out onto my default route to work.

By the time I got to my first viewpoint, some of the sky’s grandeur had receded over the rock house, but I still managed something in colour and then in infrared:

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Then on towards Eridge where I even discovered a new viewpoint off the main road- a spot I haven’t got quite right yet, but feel I’ll go back to soon:DSCF4778

My original challenge when I started this blog was to take pictures round here that matched my photos from around the world. I don’t feel I’m there yet, but this morning, having woken up thinking of a dawn stroll here:

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I looked over Tunbridge Wells and felt alright:

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Back to the Rock House

In an earlier post I wrote about the wonderful Rock Houses on the common and showed a few pictures I’d taken of them over time. I realised at the end that in my excitement to photograph them, I had neglected to focus enough on the rocks themselves.

So I returned two days ago armed with wonderful moody winter skies and a questionable sense of colour to take some more of my favourite of the buildings. In fact, there is no more of the rock in this, but I have managed to bring it out more in the editing:

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And then to demonstrate that I can get completely carried away and forget utterly what I was attempting to photograph, there is also a picture from the same morning where I miss the building completely:

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Freezing Time

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I’ve not focused on technique so far in these posts because most often that kind of camera talk is really dull, but there is one bit of kit which has really altered my photography recently- the snappily named ND110 filter.

This is basically a bit of the kind of glass that welders put over their eyes to protect them from extremely bright light. You can barely see a thing through this glass unless some very powerful light is in front of you- everything else is completely black.

So why on earth would anyone want to put something like this in front of a camera lens?

Because it allows us in bright daylight, when normally every shot has to be a quick one, to leave the shutter open for tens of seconds or even minutes and create pictures like this:

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Yes, I know that is not exactly local- so once again my challenge was to see if I could do anything as good around here.

Once again, any of these pictures will open larger if you click on them.

First off one of my favourite (and previously blogged) locations, Dunorlan Park:

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I liked  the way that the water freezes here making everything so cold and I went on to try out the same technique during the Tonbridge floods:

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I also  liked seeing how the blurring of clouds could contrast with the straight lines of old and new buildings:

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Finally, further afield in Brighton, I tried mixing together a really long exposure with a faster one to create a set of ghosts:

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The Drive to Work

Every morning I drive the seven miles from my house at the top end of Tunbridge Wells to Crowborough. A colleague of mine who had lived for years in Australia told me once that there was more variation in the views in that short journey than in the whole of Oz. I doubt that is true, but I never tire of this drive.

As ever on this blog, each picture will open up larger if clicked.

I come out close to the rock houses I wrote about in an earlier post

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Drive by a view of the top of town…

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Then on past Eridge Green, frequently at this time of year shrouded in mist…

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And finally, approach Crowborough…

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Lucky Me!

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Dunorlan Park

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If there is one place that has inspired me to get into the idea of improving my photography by returning repeatedly to familiar locations, it is Dunorlan Park. For about a year now, my wife and son have gone for a jog here each weekend. I have a knee that doesn’t like running, so instead I take pictures.

The park in itself is beautiful. I’ve been going there since I was a toddler and feel like I know every duck, tree and pedallo, so attempting to make something new there week on week has been challenging.

As ever on this blog, if you click on any of the images, they will open up larger.

Sometimes the weather helps me giving me beautiful contrasts between bright winter sun,10361461_10152790952829468_4954115172409159488_n

…or fog.

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Sometimes I go in close, trying to find all the features I have ignored before.1545832_10152812021144468_2791487997294544357_n 10291077_10152762530714468_247185962994982049_n 10362833_10152507953714468_6987548660813191035_n

…Other times I obsess about one bit of architecture like this staircase1506975_10152762531464468_117570970095481890_n 10615409_10152762531874468_2163925470031438402_n  10620202_10152743626844468_4526286443585037120_o10672302_10152790951384468_882109508843000537_n

…or the temple.

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Sometimes I seek out the wildlife

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…Or the trees

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…Or finally, I try some of my long exposure tricks to freeze the lake.10366265_10152494858524468_8898205373409323847_n

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The Rock Houses by the common.

I have always loved these two houses by the common. Of themselves, they are are attractive, nineteenth century buildings, but it is their location that makes them so fabulous. They look over the town in what could be a position of some power if it were not for the fact that they each have a huge rock almost growing out of them.

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As ever on this blog, if you click on any of the images, they will open up larger.

I don’t know if they were built like this in order to make some kind of Victorian statement of the triumph of civilisation over chaos, but more than a hundred years after this intention, they have something of the Sci Fi disaster movie about them. Before the inevitable destruction of an important city like New York, the power of the impending catastrophe is demonstrated by stray bits of space debris landing on Tunbridge Wells, narrowly missing these cozy dwellings.

Looking at the pictures I have taken over the years of these houses, I have always ended up trying to bring out some of the alien that I see in them. My cover picture for this blog uses infrared colour with some surreal colour shifts to do so:_SAM0299

At other times, I have tried to create the same surreal look with infrared black and white:P1010009

Or again in infrared colour:

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And finally most recently, I have found myself framing them from behind trees to create a lurking voyeuristic feel:

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Of course, looking at many of these now, what I don’t see much of is the rocks themselves, so as with much of the town, I will need to go back to this location again and again.

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