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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My two struggles!

Apologies for the self-dramatising title, but this is my first ever blog post. I’m a hobbyist photographer living in Tunbridge Wells and for the ten years that I’ve been taking pictures, I have struggled with two things:

The first is my colour-blindness- for those who are interested in technicalities, I have protanopia which is a form of red green colourblindness. It means that I struggle most amusingly with clothing choices, but from the point of view of photography, I effectively have no idea whether the colours I use in my pictures are correct or not.

The picture below gives you a sense of what I see- this is a set of some of my pictures which I have converted using an online tool into colour blind versions. (By the way, you can click on any of the pictures on this page to get a larger version.) On the left we have my version, on the right what you see.

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I genuinely have no idea which is which.

As a photographer, this is clearly frustrating, but it has forced me over the years to take a number of different approaches- one is to go for extremes of colour like this colour infrared shot:

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More frequently it pushes me towards exploring the world in black and white:

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My friend Miles, kindly described my colour blindness as a gift when it comes to photography. I don’t know if I’d go that far- it makes me sound like Rainman, but I know what he means.

My second test is more something that most photographers face- making something of the familiar. Almost all of the pictures that I am most proud of are taken when I travel. I love arriving in a new location and rushing out capturing thousands of images before I move on. This one, for example was taken a couple of months ago in Bali:

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I am proud of pictures like that, but the photographic comedown is considerable. I know the area I live in, the Kent/Sussex borders in Tunbridge Wells is genuinely beautiful, but I often feel I know it too well to do it justice.

So this blog is intended to stir me into action. I have recently been taking my camera with me everywhere and most importantly returning to some favourite locations again and again. I will post some black and whites here and the occasional wrongheaded colour shot. I have no idea how often I’ll post and certainly imagine many of the posts will be more like galleries than full textual dissertations, but it should keep me motivated to take lots of shots.

Meanwhile if you are interested in seeing what I am competing with- my shots from around the world, you can look here:

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