Thursday was Sunny. It has been such a grey Summer that was motivation enough for a photowalk.
The day before I was reading a very good article “The 7 Commandments of Great Photo Walks” by Swedish photographer Micael Widell.
His number 2 rule was “You shall snap the first photo immediately”.
His reasoning was different than mine. His reason more psychological, to get you into “photo mode” and his analogy was to shopping where stores place great offers near the doors.
My reason is more practical.
Check camera has a full battery, the memory card is in. Will a polarizer work well today? What sky to land contrast am I dealing with? What are the light levels like?
So the first photo is more of a prologue. You can see where I’m headed, over the bridge to a tram stop. It should give you a clue to how I created the reflection of the stadium.
Waiting for the tram I find some backlit berries on the car park and watch planes flying over and through clouds.
Two stops down I spot some trees that have turned a bright yellow and hop off. Unfortunately as I get closer I can see a lot of black spot on the leaves. A few minutes till the next tram, I revisit a wall I have seen before to see how its battle with nature is progressing.
By habit rather than plan I get off at Piccadilly, one of those mental muscle memory moments. Tempted to backtrack and jump back on but decide to walk a mile or so to another stop and see what I find on the way. At this point I make a settings change on the camera. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) shows the image as you capture it. Shooting in “raw” format means that the white balance (WB) of an image can be changed after the fact on the computer.
White Balance Ideas
I usually shoot auto white balance to have three reference values:
- What the camera thought was the “correct” white balance.
- The auto WB setting of the software to see what that thinks it should be.
- I can pick a preset that could have choosen at the time of capture.
If I shoot with the camera on a preset e.g. “Sunny” white balance setting I lose the first option. But on this occasion I switched from Auto to Sunny white balance, looked through the EVF and then decided a switch to Cloudy white balance setting looked even better.
When faced with a strong single colour the auto white balance of a camera will try to neutralize that colour. So much so that this bleached view of the colours was actually affecting whether I thought the image was worth taking.
So onwards with a new, much warmer looking, view of the world…
Under a leafy canopy on Canal Street I wait for the Sun to break through the clouds and the wind to drop. The Sun coming out seems to coincide with the wind getting up and blowing the leafs but there is no rush. The top tip here is that, while a short exposure time will freeze the movement of a branch blowing in the wind, the problem you face is that your subject is blown forward or backwards from the distance you have focused the lens.
“Focus pulling” is a term associated with moving images but if it helps have a name for the technique I’ll use it here for stills. I pull focus from the leaf on the surface of the puddle to the reflection of the cloud. A physicist (cough) will tell you that there is a fun way to focus on this reflection, you can point the camera upwards, focus on the cloud in the sky, lock focus and then point the camera to the puddle. It is as if the puddle is a few hundred meters deep. The reflection is definitely not from the distance to the surface!
Some shatterproof glass and the light shimmering on the Rochdale canal. Amazingly the light is not direct from the Sun, it is a reflection from glass windows.
Different ripple patterns and another play with a “focus pull”:
Some pretty flowers in a garden and I find a dark background to make them stand out and a complimentary yellow for a completely different look.
Some leaves fallen on a glass table is an opportunity to play with exposure, shoot low and the sky reflected in the glass is much brighter and the leaves will silhouette. A higher angle and the table and leaves are a much more similar brightness.
Low key to high key with the bend of the back, fascinating how simple changes can have a dramatic affect on an image.
Back to the tram I drop a few hints as to my location and spot a beautiful Jaguar. Standing traffic on the other side is a poor background at the top of the image. I wait for a change of lights that brings a black car whizzing by to solve the problem.
Tram to Didsbury and a walk to the gardens, I get the sort of images I expected when I set out with just a 100mm macro lens.
Leaves collecting in a mossy Lychgate’s gutter:
The tiniest leaf I could find, maybe 3mm across:
Repeated the shot of the stadium on the way back:
28th September 2017
Tramventure stops: Velopark, Holt Town, Piccadilly, Deansgate, Didsbury village.