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

Published ‘down under’!

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As a keen photographer I have amassed quite a collection on my hard drive – and that’s the thing – what’s the point in taking all those photographs for them to never see the light of day? That was why, a couple of years ago, I decided to set up a website and start blogging – to share them and let them live. I don’t make any efforts to sell my work so that has been something of a bonus, even so, it was quite a surprise to be contacted recently by ‘Qweekend’, the glossy, award winning magazine issued with Saturday’s edition of Queensland’s ‘The Courier-Mail’. It’s quite fun to now be able to claim ‘international publication’ ( :) ) as my photograph of Sutton Veny is the featured image in their article this weekend about the Sutton Veny CE Primary School and their ANZAC Day ceremonies to remember those who died in the village during the First World War.

Sutton Veny CE Primary School, church and ANZAC commemorations

This has been posted before (my tenth post!) but it seemed a good excuse to share it again with a new audience :)

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 1/3s, f11 at 270mm, RAW file converted with Capture NX2

Tangible history

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It seems that spring is here without a decent winter, my favourite photographic season, ever materialising. The best on offer was a foggy day a couple of weeks ago so I was determined to make the most of it. Up before dawn with next to no visibility I drove (very slowly!) over to Avebury, a Neolithic henge and the largest stone circle in Europe, which encompasses the village of Avebury. Not as well known as Stonehenge it doesn’t draw the same crowds but on a busy summer day, like Stonehenge, it can still feel belittled by them.

This day was different: the village still slept and I was alone with the stones, their ghostly shapes looming out of the dense fog. They possessed a majesty and aura that echoed through the ages; their history was tangible and I was humbled in their presence. I hope these images speak for themselves ….

To see more from this encounter please visit my website.

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data:
ISO 200, 1/50s, f11 at 38mm.
ISO 200, 1/80s, f11 at 42mm.
ISO 200, 1/60s, +0.7, f11 at 70mm.
ISO 200, 1/600s, -0.25, f11 at 55mm.
RAW files converted with Capture NX2

The old hedgerow

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As the flood waters subside the fields become dark and sullen with thickening mud and the disturbed air rank with the dank smell of rotting vegetation. The illusory magic of the changing colours, textures and reflections of the temporary watery landscape is rapidly disappearing.  This image captures one of my favourite moments during the flood when the scruffy remnants of an old hedgerow were transformed, acquiring an almost ethereal beauty. Weathered trees, part of an old hedgerow, reflected in the flood water near South Newton in WiltshireI was lucky to be in the fortunate position of experiencing the extraordinarily high waters as something novel and beautiful – for many others it was, and is still, not so.

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 640, 625s, f20 at 24mm, RAW file converted with Capture NX2

Too much of a good thing?!

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Having finally realised that there should be some good photo opportunities of Salisbury Cathedral reflected in the water meadows, the first dry(ish!) afternoon afterwards found me looking across the flooded fields to a classic and much photographed view of this beautiful building. The wind, although light, ruffled the water surface enough to make my intended shot impossible so I whiled away the time until it eventually died down, long after the sun had well and truly set. The slight flow of the water meant that a perfect reflection was never going to be had but still I waited for a pair of ducks to swim through the Cathedral and the swans to settle before pressing the shutter. Salisbury Cathedral and Cathedral Close reflected in the water meadowsAs it turns out, I think the added element of the illuminated Close works better than a daylight image would have done anyway – but – another picture of the Cathedral? …. is it too much of a good thing?! Not for me! :D

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: ISO 200, 25s, f6.3 at 50mm, RAW file converted with Capture NX2

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