Aliens in Scotney

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More alien infrared experiments mixed with some lovely flowers from Scotney yesterday.

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Alien on the common!

I posted some infrared shots from Dunorlan last week and now I am back again with the same, strange alien looking shots from the common yesterday.

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An infrared camera for me works best with the pictures converted to black and white with strong contrast and the bizarre white of the infrared glow from anything living screaming loudly.

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I am only just learning to do this properly after about ten years of trying- some of these I love- others are a bit too OTT, but that is what it is often like when I am in an experimental stage.

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I’ll calm down soon.

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Getting Goudhurst

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DSCF7880Goudhurst is one of the most beautiful spots in the borough of Tunbridge Wells, but I’ll admit that I’ve never managed to get it photographically.

The problem is that what makes it so wonderful to visit is the high views over the Weald, but you will see none of them here because they are all distant background without any foreground- that works when you visit, but looks dull in a picture.

Instead what I have done here is to concentrate on the beautiful old buildings and in particular the church:

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Finchcocks

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Finchcocks was somewhere I used to visit semi-willingly with my parents as a child, but for some reason I had never come back since moving home ten years ago. Embarrassingly, I was only reminded to do so by its featuring on the hoardings of local photos on the abandoned cinema site.

I remembered the old instruments, but I’d completely forgotten the beauty of the house. It is a Georgian brick building which manages to look far bigger than it actually is from front and back by having virtually no depth whatsoever.

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Inside the rooms are quite simple but classically elegant with beautiful light from the large windows illuminating wood everywhere:

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Outside is a small and very traditional garden:

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Despite all this elegance, the real attraction is the musical instruments. The owners, Richard and Katrina Burnett have been collecting ancient keyboards- Harpsichords, Clavichords and early pianos, since 1970 and for many years have also built replicas of the same:

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They are beautiful instruments which are crying out to be touched and surprisingly they can be. Twice a day, there are free concerts by Richard Burnett and others, but even more wonderfully around the house, every keyboard seems to be being played, from my son hammering out some year 8 school music homework, to really talented amateurs dreamily lost in the chance to play such a perfect instrument:

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Staring into the Middle Distance at Haysden Park

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I have written before about how important it is in landscape photography to try to create three dimensions in an image which is in reality flat. The classic way of doing so is to find something to put in the foreground of the composition, then something in the middle distance and then something far, far away.

This is why, for all that I like the mystery of the shot above, it is lacking something which might drag our eyes through the frame. It is also one of the many reasons why landscape photographers including me return endlessly to places such as Ullswater in the Lake District.

Voila- three plains- foreground, middle distance, long distance:

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But what to do when a return to the otherwise appealing Haysden Lake in Tonbridge doesn’t provide such depth- almost everything is in the middle of the view.

One solution is just to concentrate on something beautiful and near:

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…Or even on something that only I will find beautiful:

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…Or to step back somewhat, so everything is middle distance:

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…Or just to turn away and find my three plains behind me:

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…Or to give up completely and head for foreground in the woods:

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…But then I remembered that tiny pier that I had found so appealing earlier- time to get down on my knees and let it point into the distance:

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Forest Walk

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Photographing in a wood or a forest is a real challenge that I have never quite mastered, but I am determined to keep at it. On a walk today around Ashdown Forest near Hartfield, I tried a few techniques out.

One first problem is that the trees are so damn tall it is often difficult to get enough of them in the frame- in the shot above I have stitched together two pictures vertically to give some sense of how this tree dwarfed everything around.

This picture also is evidence of another problem within woods- deciding with so many different trees how to make a simple composition- in that picture, the comparative bulk of the main tree made it simpler. In an exit from the woodland, it was even easier to create a single-minded image:

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At other times, I was presented with a path and trees all around- I’ve ended up having to use Photoshop to try to create some kind of distinctive contrast to draw the viewer through the frame and along the path.

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On other occasions, as I turned away from the path, there was simply a mass of undifferentiated trees. At least today, the cloudy conditions actually helped me, as the glorious dappled light of summer woodland is actually particularly challenging to photograph without the bright spots getting all burnt out. No risk of that with today’s dulness which I could then contrast up in my cheating software:

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Nevertheless, I wanted some foreground- the legendary Pooh Bridge, where the fictional bear and Christopher Robin played Pooh sticks provided some:

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And then, out into the open and just enough colour to make me switch off the black and white for a moment:

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Tunbridge Wells Cemetery

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My two visits to Woodbury Park (here and here) made me realise that I ought to take a trip to the main town graveyard, but if I am honest it felt a bit odd.

Visiting Woodbury Park, with few graves newer than about 1870 feels like a history lesson, but taking pictures in a site with so many recent burials is more potentially intrusive. Fortunately when I got there, it was clear that there were sections which were older and where I ended up strolling and others with more frequent memorials of still raw grief.

But what a beautiful site it is- no sign that I could find of its two most famous residents, the light music star Mantovani or the first Doctor Who, William Hartnell. But some beautiful monuments, including the one at the top for some wealthy local who even in death dwarfs all around- and without a hedge to protect him from prying eyes like mine!

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