Photographing in woods is a bit of a nightmare- one of the things that makes them so attractive is the dappled light which is horribly difficult to capture because of the limited range of a camera- you either end up with the shots being too dark or the light being all burnt out.
I’ve done my best to strike a balance with these in some familiar favourite places on the common.
…And then out into the open to look at some flowers:
… then finally a flowerbed in town:
My mantra on this blog has been “always take my camera with me everywhere I go,” but in my eagerness to pick it up when going out, I don’t always pay attention to what is on the front of it.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I set out to go walking on the common with a close up portrait lens (a 1980s Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4 for the gear-heads amongst you.)
I actually like the challenge of seeing the world through an unfamiliar view, but after struggling for a bit taking in the wide views of the trees…
…I changed tack and headed down to the pantiles where I enjoyed the blurred backgrounds this lens gives me.
Then a quick stroll past the shops at the bottom of town:
And then best of all for a coffee:
Each summer, as I return back to Tunbridge Wells after a visit to some amazing place, I have to re-start my photography a bit. Often this starts in that most familiar of places-Dunorlan Park.
This summer, I have just been to the Norwegian Fjords (hint hint- you can check out the first part of my adventures in my other blog at this link)
How can Dunorlan compete with this?
Well for me a big part of what makes the park work for me photographically is about my own attitude. When I go to a worldwide location for the first time, I often tend to take my least risky or original shots as everything is new to me.
Back home, the opposite happens. When I go back yet again to Dunorlan, I have no choice but to try something new. It is why when I look over the past of this blog I see so many failed experiments, but also all of the pictures where I have moved my technique on. Most of what I have actually learned about photography has happened in this town.
The pictures that follow probably mix failed experiments with successes. they are all taken with my favourite old Russian lens, the Helios 44-2 which creates those lovely painterly blurred backgrounds. I have messed with it even more by putting it on a tilt shift adapter- a strange contraption which allows me to bend it from side to side on the camera so that it focuses on just a strip of what is in front of it- you can see the effect most clearly in the first picture below of the bench.
I’m not entirely sure whether it all works- I normally only decide these things after a few weeks when I look back at my shots, but I’m glad I tried.
I’ve used long exposure shots on this blog quite often over the last couple of years to freeze lakes like Dunorlan to give the look of a sheet of ice. You can see a bit of that look in the picture above of Bedgebury, but just after I took it, I noticed what had happened to the reeds on the opposite bank.
I’d never really tried out this technique pointed at foliage in the wind. There is nothing peaceful about these shots of I took in the next few minutes of Bedgebury in a breeze. Instead the 30 second exposures end up looking a bit like a poor man’s Monet. I’ve exaggerated the colours a bit to add to the effect.
Goudhurst 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:
One of the joys of being a colour blind photographer is that I have the excuse to try out all kinds of nonsense with my pictures. In today’s selection from nearby Bedgebury Pinetum, I have tried a technique in photoshop where I first make a black and white image and then superimpose it on the original colour snap. I blend the two together to take the light levels (luminosity) from the black and white and apply them to the colour version:
And if you don’t like all that technical talk or the OTT look the technique creates (not always sure myself) I’ve included the monochrome ones as well:
These are also all long exposure shots – there was a lot of wind that day, so 30 seconds left quite a lot of blur in the clouds. All in all, it goes some way towards bringing out the beautiful artificiality I find in this place:
A bit of a change of view, slightly out of town in Haysden Park in Tonbridge this morning:
For those few of you who might be interested in the processing I do with these- I converted the original images into black and white twice- once normally and once overexposed. I then combined the two pictures together in various ways to create the sorts of blended gradients in shade:
The last one is actually a three minute long exposure, although to be honest, I can barely tell the difference this time: