On Sunday I experienced the happy photographer triumvirate – great weather, free time and new toys. OK, so the toys aren’t new-new. I’ve had them for about a year but I hadn’t played with them properly before. Me, my camera and a woefully neglected set of gloriously inexpensive neutral density filters (the newish toys, about £12 from Amazon, if I remember correctly) headed to Holyrood Park in Edinburgh to enjoy the sun and make pictures.
Sunday was my first just-doing-photography outing for a while and it was one I really needed. I’ve spent years mostly photographing humans and while I’ll always love portrait photography, I’m really enjoying creating nature and landscape photos at the moment. Over the last year or so I’ve started to feel more and more inspired by the world around me and the non-human things living in it. This feels like a bit of a new adventure and it’s a challenge having less control over the things in front of my camera and the light shining on them than I do when I’m working with studio gear and taking photos of people. I haven’t left portraiture behind but I’m allowing myself to freely follow my muse and she’s definitely leading me in the direction of nature and landscape photography these days.
The slightly weird title of this post comes from the subjects of the photo – the ruin of Saint Anthony’s Chapel overlooking Saint Margaret’s Loch. I’ve lived within 10 minutes drive of this stunning place for 12 years now and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever taken a photo of it. There’s a lot going on in this picture in terms of technical bits and pieces, so I’m going to break it down and address each thing in turn.
The clouds were moving pretty quickly, so the neutral density filters and a 30 second exposure created a rather stormy looking sky on a day that was anything but stormy. I love this effect so much and am so excited to have the tools to create it! I layered two filters together to allow for a long exposure on such a sunny day and couldn’t see a thing through them. I could have focused before placing the filters, which is what I would do if I was aiming for something super sharp and precise, but I got a kick out of the nostalgic joy of feeling like I was using a pinhole camera so I just set the camera and filters up on my tripod, pointed it all in the right direction and let the photo happen.
This is also down to the neutral density filters and long exposure. Since they didn’t come labelled, I have no idea which filter is which and made my choice by sight and experimentation. If RockstarVanity Photographic Art was a Game of Thrones house, our motto would be By Sight And Experimentation. Check out the blurry swimming birds too!
BIZARRE LIGHT EFFECTS
The bracket for my filters can hold three at a time. This is probably really useful for lots of sensible reasons but the thing I love most about it is that it allows the use of two filters with a gap between them, creating a reflection of the lens (the circular ghosting). Where I was sitting was dusty and dry and there was a bit of a breeze, so some dust also made its way between the filters, which is where the randomly placed bokeh sparkles came from. I’m pretty sure I could do this again and get similar results but I’m never going to be able to recreate it precisely. This makes me happy. I do like a one-off.
BLACK AND WHITENESS
I always shoot in RAW and process with Photoshop CC’s wonderful RAW processor (don’t even get me started on how much I adore it – I will never shut up and then you’ll be sorry). I recently downloaded Google’s Nik Collection and their Silver Efex plug-in for Photoshop is amazing! It creates really stunning black and white conversions and I’m definitely still in “Ooh, what does this button do?” mode when I’m playing with it. To be honest, it doesn’t do anything that I couldn’t do myself during RAW processing and I’m too much of a control freak to leave everything up to a plug-in all the time, but I’m really enjoying the experience of messing with a new gadget right now and it was free, which makes it at least 100 times more appealing.
Prints of this photo are available at http://www.deviantart.com/print/39694157/
See more May magic in Jesh St Germain’s Seasons linky.
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