Blowing my own trumpet!

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I’m not really one to blow my own trumpet ….. BUT …. :D

Earlier this year I found that I’d had three of my images shortlisted for IGPOTY 2013 (International Garden Photographer of the Year): Sentinel, Sidestep and Dandy Home –  only the last previously appearing in this Blog but all three on my website. It was the first time I’d entered this competition and felt that a little ‘toot’ moment was forgivable :)

A bigger ‘toot’ moment came late last week when I found that both my shortlisted images were Commended in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014 competition. As such they will be published in the accompanying book and will feature in the exhibition in the Waterloo Gallery and on the Motion@Waterloo screen. The Cove has featured in this Blog and both it and Pulpit Rock are on my website.

As I’ve said before, the main reason for setting up a website and blogging was to free my photographs from my hard drive and expose them to a wider audience, after all, what’s the point in taking them if they never see the light of day? And what better exposure than a 40m wide screen at the busiest station in England, an exhibition and a book?!

‘Tooting’ finished! :D

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

One in the bag

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Finally with the luxury of a little time for myself I headed down to Kimmeridge Bay for some photographic therapy. Being midweek and blustery I thought I’d have the place more or less to myself but my hopes were soon dashed as three mini buses spilled their contents of chattering students into the car park just as I arrived. It’s a relatively wide bay and it was with relief that I watched them stumble over to the far side as I worked out my ‘spot’ for later in the afternoon, taking a reference shot to make sure that I had ‘one in the bag’. Square format mono fine art image of rock ledge and rockpool at KimmeridgeAs I moved off a couple arrived and to my dismay headed out on to ‘my’ rock ledge; still, not to worry, it was to be a couple of hours before I wanted it back so, with a bit of luck, they’d be gone. Photographers can be very unsociable sorts! Time passed and much to my consternation they were still there so, with the light rapidly failing, I set up another image. Square format mono image of rock ledge at KimmeridgeAs it turns out, I’m reasonably happy with both versions (although I will return for another attempt!) and it goes to show the worth of getting ‘one in the bag’!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 57s, f20 at 40mm and ISO 200, 4min 20s, f20 at 62mm. RAW files converted with Lightroom 5

Learning Lightroom

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The sharp eyed among you may have noticed that my last image was processed in Lightroom rather than my usual Capture NX2. Due to manoeuvrings of the powers that be the Capture NX software will no longer be supported – a sad day indeed! Facing a move that had to happen at some point I decided on Lightroom and to make the jump sooner rather than later.

Square format B&W image of the spiral staircase at Wardour CastleThis image of the ruined stairway at Wardour Castle had already been processed in NX2 but, as it needed some thought (rather than the simple tweak of levels required by my Longleat photograph), it seemed a good place to start learning.

A necessary exercise but also good for the photograph as, concentrating fully on each step, meant that I took more care and produced a better finished result. Not hugely different but enough that I’m glad of the extra work …. thank goodness as taking the photograph was a challenge in itself with precarious footing (for myself and, more importantly, my tripod!) on a well worn spiral stairway, craning skyward into the rain whilst dodging wedding guests is not something I’d choose to repeat in a hurry!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 0.4s, f9 at 17mm, RAW file converted with Lightroom 5

A change of plans

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A recent foggy morning had me forsaking breakfast to squeeze in a much needed couple of hours with my camera. Disappointingly the conditions were very patchy – and not where I wanted a patch to be! A quick change of plans, a change of lens and my attention was soon focussed on Longleat House nestled in its surrounding parkland with the fledgling sun just high enough to catch the house as the remnants of mist slid lazily across the valley floor. Longleat House in the mist viewed from Heavens GateThe rising sun resulted in the somewhat surreal experience of gazing upon an archetypal English scene whilst a cacophony of cries from the heart of Africa rose up from the valley on the thin morning air. Breakfast time at Longleat Safari Park!

Stupidly, I didn’t check my ISO. Still, another visit with some autumn colour will improve this scene no end and is something to look forward to!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 640, 1/800s, f5.6 at 98mm, RAW file converted with Lightroom 5

Give yourself to the soft side

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A lighthearted shot (with some heavy handed Photoshopping!) to show that even Storm Troopers have a heart <3 :DStar Wars Storm Trooper stroking guide dog

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 1/1250s, f5.6 at 36mm. RAW file converted with Capture NX2 and  Nik Color Efex filter applied in Photoshop

Wardour Castle

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In the hectic last few months I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours at nearby Wardour Castle – but my timing coincided with a wedding. Not quite the solitude I had hoped for on a showery afternoon!

In May 1643 after a five day siege and with the threat of destruction the castle, defended by Lady Blanche Arundell with only twenty five men, surrendered to the Parliamentarian forces. Her son, returning from battle in 1644, laid siege to his own castle and it was virtually destroyed through the accidental explosion of a munition store. English Heritage's Wardour CastleDuring my visit the sharp ricochets of gun fire reverberated across the years as the roofless halls echoed with the sound of popping champagne corks! A brief break in the clouds allowed the sun to burst through and my fortuitous timing meant that I was in just the right place at the right time to capture the perfect symmetry of the main entrance, emphasised by the strong shadows of a fleeting sun.

Although I’m sure English Heritage wouldn’t appreciate it I hope my next visit finds the Castle deserted!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 1/200s, f5.6 at 29mm. RAW file converted with Capture NX2

Progress with people

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I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last post – time has just flown by. Much to my frustration I haven’t even had any time for photography, well, I’ve covered a few events but nothing to appease my creative disquiet. Roll on winter!

Anyway, back to the point of this belated post. Followers of this blog, or the casual observer, will realise that I don’t ‘do’ people. I generally photograph anything I encounter – but people ….? It’s somewhat ironic then that one of my very few ‘people’ photographs (‘Fire at will’) is now gracing the home page of the Historical Maritime Society’s website.

Historical Maritime Society website home pageThe HMS are a historical naval reenactment organisation well worth going to see if you have the opportunity. They were looking to revamp their homepage with something that said “action” to better reflect what they do – I guess this goes some way towards that! (Funny thing is that the colour version of this image looks a lot less dynamic …)

The few encounters I have with people at the sharp end of my lens tend to be rather ‘sneaky’, with either a long lens or taking advantage of their distraction so, when a local band asked me to take some publicity photographs, I leapt at the opportunity – much as I would the chance to swim with a whale shark: I know it’s intrinsically safe but it’s still a daunting prospect! Publicity poster for The Langfords bandThe Langfords are an “an original psychedelic country band, with Nashville guitar licks, soaring vocals & a touch of melancholy” – i.e.. it’s a great sound! They preferred the high key photographs and this was the result of me taking it a little further and messing about with Photoshop. Personally, I wasn’t best pleased with the photographs I took but, having survived the encounter, I’d like to give it another go! Maybe I’m finally making progress with people? :D

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Mottisfont meandering

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Mottisfont in Hampshire is a wonderful place to spend the day; possibly more famed for it’s traditional walled gardens than for the house itself. Path in Mottisfont walled rose gardenMy visit coincided with a fabulous day; glorious sunshine tempered by a slight breeze – in truth, probably better suited for a picnic than photography. With far too many people ‘spoiling’ the place :D I tried a few close ups but hand holding a macro, with a breeze, whilst crouching underfoot proved tricky – and probably annoying to others! Although the gardens are best known for their roses I was taken with these – can anyone tell me what they are?Macro photograph of blue cornflowerWith the main gardens proving too popular I headed over to the quieter areas around the stream and easily overlooked font after which the place is named ….Hostas and waterfall at Mottisfont riverside walkFern and cloud reflections in Mottisfont fontThe art exhibition upstairs in the main house entitled ‘Garden of Delights’ was an eclectic mix of paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture but I was sidetracked by the view outside, struck by the perfect framing of the lone tree within the window and felt it made an ‘installation’ in it’s own right :D. It was so perfect I can’t help thinking it was intentional ….Art installation of a lone tree framed by a window at MottisfontIn a way it was a good thing the place was so busy as it encouraged me to look for something beyond the obvious – and isn’t that one of the joys of photography?!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 320, 1/200s, f7.1 at 100mm, ISO 200, 1/400s, f9 at 105mm, ISO 200, 1/5s, f16 at 70mm, ISO 200, 1/15s, f10 at 31mm, ISO 200, 1/125s + 1/15, f7.1 at 38mm. RAW files converted with Capture NX2

The Red Crane

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During it’s hey days shipping quays dotted the cliff edges of Portland Bill to remove quarried stone from the island. Maybe due to its longevity, the hand-operated wooden crane, known as the Red Crane, seemed to find a place into people’s hearts lowering fisherman and their boats into the sea for many years after quarrying finally ended. Mindlessly destroyed by vandals (possibly in the early ‘70s?) it was replaced by the steel crane seen today. Square format photo of the Red Crane at Portland BillInitially taken as a ‘documentary’ photo this picture, like the crane, seems to have wormed it’s way into my affections – although I can’t quite work out why! Maybe the warm colours and stillness of it provoke thoughts harking back to memories of a glorious youth …. or is that pure twoddle?!

To see a very different, but strangely very similar, B&W view of the Red Crane please take a look here on my website.

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 1/50s, f14 at 38mm, polarisor and RAW file converted with Capture NX2

A different take on Portland Bill

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Search for ‘Portland Bill’ on Google and you’ll be faced with dozens of similar images of the distinctive white and red striped Lighthouse with skies and seas of various colours and mood ….. and why not: it’s a classic view of an iconic subject that is hard to resist. Portland Bill Lighthouse at sunset with a low tideHowever, there is more to the Bill than that. Certainly the lighthouse is key, as the treacherous race makes this area one of the greatest navigational hazards in the English Channel, but it also has a proud industrial heritage with the stone quarries being worked until the early 20th century, indeed, the lighthouse itself was built with local stone. That may not sound too impressive but consider the fact that Portland stone was used in the construction of the Palace of Westminster, Tower of London, Exeter Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England – to name but a few applications in England alone. I wanted to reflect this industrial heritage and felt that the best way was with a strong graphic image, black and white being an obvious choice. Square format, fine art black and white photo of Broad Ope Crane at Portland BillThis photograph breaks several ‘rules’ so I’d love to hear if it works for you or not.

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 5s, f16 at 35mm and ISO 200, 14s, f14 at 120mm. RAW files converted with Capture NX2

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