30 Nov 2010


This is one of the photographs I took yesterday when I was working on my Street Photography course. It was really cold and I just couldn't stay out there too long. The exercise was to produce photographs that froze action and others that showed motion, so I was photographing people walking along the street and chose this cafe as a good backdrop. In this one I had a pedestrian just coming in on the right-hand side but I decided to crop him out and convert to black and white for my blog photo today.

29 Nov 2010


Yes - I know. 'Dead Things' is a dreadful title. Unless, of course, you understand how beautiful dead things can be. When plants and trees are dead (or in winter slumber) they're stripped down to their essence; their shapes are revealed. Take away the frippery of summer and you have them in all their basic beauty. I've always been drawn towards the minimalist, which is probably why I like black and white images so much and also probably why I've been getting such enjoyment out of photographing these 'dead things'. Putting the two together just seems right to me.

This afternoon I was out and about in the bitter cold taking photographs for my next Street Photography assignment. I have until the weekend to submit my images, but as the weather is set to get colder I bit the bullet and got out there. I haven't defrosted my camera yet to see what's there but have promised myself an afternoon in front of the fire tomorrow to do that.

28 Nov 2010


Today has been another cold one and yesterday's frost didn't completely clear away before another last night. This buddleia is a lovely dark purple in summer and it still retains some of that colour, enhanced by its sprinkling of frost. I was tempted to convert to black and white but I like the slight greenness of the background which compliments the colour of the flower.

We've had the wood burner going full time since Friday and in the garden the smell of woodsmoke is lovely, beckoning me in to sit in front of its cosy warmth. This morning we went for a walk on the forest and the ground was rock hard - a nice change from mud. The view from the top of the hill showing everything coated with a pale coat of frost against a watery blue sky was stunning.

I think the coming week's street photography course includes work with motion and different shutter speeds. I suspect anyone outside in the cold will be walking pretty fast so I'll start panning at 1/125 and work from there. It sounds as if I know what I'm talking about doesn't it!!

27 Nov 2010


It's very cold here in the UK - unseasonably early. But I just love the spiky patterns the frost makes on everything and especially on the foliage.  It never fails to make me marvel at the way nature always gets it so right.

I wasn't sure how these images would look in black and white but I think I like them better than the original colour ones.

Listening to the weather forecast I think there will be a few more frosty pictures over the next few days. And probably some pictures of frost bitten fingers after I've done my street photography assignments this coming week!

26 Nov 2010


This was a submission for week 3 of the Street Photography course I'm doing. The assignment was to find a place to make a good backdrop and then to wait for someone to come into the scene to make a good image. I knew of this sculpture at a nearby town and thought it would be a good scene for my photo - unfortunately I didn't know they were re-paving the precinct!!

I got a coffee from the cafe in the background and sat around waiting for the 'right' opportunity. It was freezing cold and I was sitting on a concrete bench and I'm lucky I didn't get a nasty case of piles! Luckily, just as I was about to run out of coffee and patience, and after several pretty boring photographs, this man came along. He had a shopping bag with him which he put down just by the sculpture and bent to tie up his shoe lace. I didn't realize until I downloaded the photographs that in my image it looks as if he's trying to lift the sculpture.

I converted to black and white to try to get rid of some of the distraction of the workmen's fences in the background, but it's a real shame they were there.

25 Nov 2010


Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogger friends across the Atlantic!

And my thanks to all of you who have inspired me on my journey with my camera so far. You have given me endless inspiration, gasps of pure delight and shown me beauty beyond imagining.

24 Nov 2010


There are a lot of birch trees in one of my local woods whose bark is peeling off. I wonder if this is a regular winter thing, or a regular life thing. This one most certainly isn't dead and I think the textures work OK in black and white.

I'm now in a quandary! I was dead set on my next lens being a 24-70 f/2.8, but in order to pursue my street photography ambitions I think I'd be better off having a 35mm (or equivalent for my 550D which I guess is a 20mm). Canon do a 20mm f/2.8 but it has mixed reviews. On the other hand, it isn't a whole bunch of money compared with the 24-70. Another plus is that it's much lighter and easier to shoot from the hip, which must be pretty near impossible with a heavy zoom lens!

My cunning plan is to be able to sneak up to people, looking appropriately innocent and unconcerned, and surreptitiously click that little button. This of course will result in amazing candid images. Well, that's the plan anyway.

Anyone with any opinions on the 20mm?

23 Nov 2010

Dead Hydrangeas

These hydrangeas are so delicate, in death as much as in life. It's a lacecap variety rather than the heavier mopheads. They always remind me of alien spacecraft the way the separate flowers float above the stalk on extended legs.

This one has even fewer flowers left. I guess those are little seed heads that remain after the petals have dropped.

I was going to post these images in colour because there are still traces of pink and blue left among the brown, but there was so much bright green in the background, from the evergreen leaves in the first one and in the lawn in the second, that it overwhelmed the delicate flowers. So I converted to black and white, compared them with the originals, and in both cases they look better like this.

22 Nov 2010


This is the first, and my favourite so far, of my Dead Things images. I love the decayed colours - they remind me of old faded fabrics and Aubusson rugs. I decided to use this as my desktop background at work and showed it to some of my work colleagues. They looked a bit nonplussed at why someone would want to take a photograph of a dead plant so I enthusiastically told them how different everything looks once you put a camera to your eye. But they didn't get it at all.

I must remember that not everyone gets blown away by the same things that I do!

21 Nov 2010


There aren't many flowers left to photograph at the moment but this lovely white wild flower beckoned to me from out of the dark foliage by the lane. I haven't got the focus right - I think it should be on the nearest flowerhead but I may have shifted slightly after focusing.

I spent a little time in the garden today in between periods of drizzle photographing dead plants. And I discovered something - they are absolutely beautiful. When you get up close and really look at them properly you realize that they're not just brown and colourless, but have a subtleness about them that is a perfect balance for the riot of colour we had in summer and autumn. It probably sounds completely stupid but I got all excited about these decaying beauties - I felt I was the first one to discover beauty in death. But of course I'm not - it's just that since picking up a camera I'm noticing all sorts of things I hadn't seen before.

So I may leave black and white for a little while to photograph a series of 'Dead Things'.

20 Nov 2010


Rain, rain and more rain. Nothing particularly heavy but not nice either for walking dog or trying to do some early Christmas shopping. I worry about keeping my camera dry when it's like this. I don't have a lens hood for either of the lenses I use most - maybe I should think about getting them. Ho hum - more for the Christmas list. But underneath the 24-70 I think!

19 Nov 2010


This is my entry for the Fence Friday group on Flickr. I took it while I was wandering round my home town looking for shots for my street photography course. It surrounds the graveyard of the town's main church, St. Swithuns and I like its ancient, battered, uneven look. This is a fence with attitude!

18 Nov 2010

Dead Leaves

I was really unsure whether this would work in black and white and I had to do some post production tweaking of contrast and levels but feel it's turned out quite well. You can see the lichen on the branch and I think it and the leaves are recognisable.

The light is dreadfully flat today as it has been for most of the past week, so it's difficult to get the lighting right for black & white images. So I used the sky as a background to give definition to the form.

17 Nov 2010

Drama on the Forest

I love the drama of this shot which benefits greatly from the interesting sky in the background. I shot it against the sun so the tree would be silhouetted and just upped the contrast a little in Lightroom.

According to the DVD "The Art of Black and White" which I bought recently and have really enjoyed, there are four elements, at least one which should be present when taking photographs for black and white. They are line, shape, texture and form. I think this fits into the shape category whereas my post yesterday fits firmly in the line category.

16 Nov 2010

Lines and Clouds

This is the museum in my home town. The slats seem to translate really well into a black and white image probably because they're very graphic and repetitive. This was part of my town walk-around yesterday for my course. I won't use them for the course assignment because that was all about taking the same view with different lenses and focal lengths.

15 Nov 2010

Another Shop!

I was out and about in my home town today taking photographs for my street photography course. I've sort of noticed this shop before but have never really looked closely at it. I don't even know if it's still in business, but I suspect they do bicycle repairs if nothing else. But, amazingly, the shop looks exactly as it must have about 50 years ago. The paintwork is badly flaking and doesn't look as if it's had any TLC for a long time; the signs in the window speak of another age. The striped reflections you see in the windows are from the tudor buildings on the other side of the street.

I completely fell in love with it and hope it stays the same way for many years to come. The shops either side are modern and newly decorated but instead of standing out like a sore thumb this lovely old shop is a rose among thorns.

14 Nov 2010

A Haiku for Remembrance Day

Silent memories.
Losses felt; tears unbidden.
Fields of poppies nod.

13 Nov 2010

Bric a Brac Shop

I stopped at this shop this morning on the lookout for props. I wanted a small, rustic table for placing objects on to photograph. They had a lovely one in the window - all chipped paint and bare wood - which would have been perfect but, apart from being a little larger than I want, it was also hugely expensive!

But I did buy a potato/apple storage tray for £10. You can see them stacked on the pavement outside (with the watering can on top). I'm sure I'll get lots of use out of it - the textures are good.

The shop was full of interesting things, from furniture to ornaments to pieces of vintage fabric. And that lovely little milking stool you can see by the step.

12 Nov 2010

Just after the cow jumped over it...

...all there was left to see was the moon. It was a lovely clear evening when I took this on Wednesday, but I haven't seen the sun or the moon since then. Must have been the darned cow's fault. ISO 3200 has caused lots of noise but I don't think I mind that.

Have a great weekend everyone!

11 Nov 2010

Vintage Luggage

This lovely old scuffed, scratched and generally battered suitcase was my father's. Those are his initials - Eustace Bromley Davenport. The name gives away the era into which he was born and the suitcase gives away the style of that era's travels.

He regularly flew from Croydon Aerodrome, just south of London, where Imperial Airlines had their base and would have gone mostly to Europe. It's no longer a commercial airport but the original art deco Aerodrome Hotel is still there although considerably extended.

Justine Gordon's photograph of an old pair of binoculars inspired me to take a picture of this lovely old suitcase.

10 Nov 2010

Sunny day!

Today's weather has been as beautiful as yesterday's was dreadful so I decided a little colour was called for in my photos today. I was playing around trying to find my lens's sweet spot which I think I read somewhere is usually about two stops down from wide open. As wide open on my 50mm is f/1.4 I first tried at f/1.8 but I thought that sounded a little low and it didn't work well at all. I took the photo above at f/5 after remembering Bryan Peterson's advice that on a sunny day you should meter off the blue sky and then re-compose the shot. So I did and I think his advice is sound!

The colours are changing again as autumn drifts towards winter but there are still colours out there, although of a different palette.  I'm going to try and find them, even on the yucky days. How about you?

9 Nov 2010

Low tide in Norfolk

It's been a dreadful grey, rainy day today - even worse than yesterday. I stood outside this afternoon taking a series of photographs of the same image at different shutter speeds with the camera hand held as part of my course. It was to find the speed at which the image began to break down and lose its sharpness. I froze to death and by the time I'd finished I couldn't feel my fingers. I must put some fingerless gloves on my shopping list - I think I'm going to need them!

I found the picture above among the photos I took early in October when we were on holiday in Norfolk. It looks better in black and white than it did in colour - more dramatic I think. The lines of rock give it the contrast that black and white photos need. It's a shame there wasn't a strong blue sky that day which would have given more interest at the top of the photograph, but this is England!!

8 Nov 2010

Black & White Experimenting

It's been such a grey, dismal day today that I wasn't able to go out and about with my camera for my street photography course so I played around inside.

I placed the subjects against a window and the texture in the background is the rain lying on the glass. It silhouetted them quite nicely.

6 Nov 2010

Into the Woods

It was a lovely morning for photographing in the woods today. Last night it rained but this morning the sun was out and glinting off the wet foliage. I tried hard to catch the sparkle on this pine sprig but there were so many other branches around it I was finding it difficult to focus on the one I wanted. Add to that the fact that I was standing on very uneven ground so the camera was wavering about as I tried to focus and the result wasn't quite the one I'd hoped it would be. But to be honest I really like it - it almost looks as if it was taken in low light but it wasn't. Another successful failure maybe?

I thought the linear aspect of this image would translate well into black and white. There's rather a confusion of small branches behind the trees which detracts from the impact though.

5 Nov 2010

One of those days

I was quite pleased with the way this converted to back and white with very little tweaking. Just a tad of extra contrast and that was it.

It's the only thing that went right photograph-wise today though. I tried to take a photograph of a street lamp in very low light this morning - just after dawn on a grey morning so no colour in the sky at all. It just didn't work and I was disappointed because I see it every morning and had a picture in my mind of how good it would look. But it was completely out of focus and the light from the lamp was much too bright. I didn't really know what to meter off - to be honest I didn't know what I was doing at all.

It feels like a step back day rather than a step forward one.

So I decided to take a picture of my lunch and that looks rubbish too (the photo, not the sandwich!).

4 Nov 2010

Ice Cream Houses

I took this back in the summer and was reminded of it by one of the images in Kat's recent post. It was such a beautiful day and the houses were such pretty colours that I sneaked into one of the gardens to take the shot.

They reminded me of ice creams - strawberry, vanilla, pistachio and... um, blue!

3 Nov 2010

Street Photography Course Week 1

Well, my online street photography course officially starts today and lasts for eight weeks. I was conscious that I'd be expected to get out there and get going pretty quick, and as I had to go to London to see a client this morning I didn't want to miss an opportunity for some nifty photoing. But I didn't think I could take my beloved Canon as well as my laptop and everything else for my meeting, so I took my husband's point and shoot Lumix.

As soon as I saw these colourful hire bicycles I knew they'd make a great image.

This is my morning espresso fix at an outdoor cafe in a London street.

And this is my first real photograph of an unsuspecting person acting naturally! Woefully out of focus but my excuse is that I couldn't shoot manually so it's the camera's fault :-) I loved the expression of concentration on this little boy's face as he took a photo of his family in the concourse of Victoria Station. I took quite a few photographs there while I waited for my train home but I wasn't happy with any of them except for this one which I like for its subject but definitely not for its lack of technical ability.

For the next eight weeks I'm going to be welded to my Canon day and night. I've got to get used to focusing quickly and learn how to work out exposure with no help from the camera. Anyone heard of the 'Sunny 16' rule? Nor had I this morning. And maths was never my best subject!!

2 Nov 2010

The Creative Exchange - week six

I was looking for something to offer for White Cotton Tee's Creative Exchange  and found this. I posted it before but it was in colour that time. I began to think it might look good as a black and white photograph because the aeroplane is back-lit which gives a good contrast for a black & white photo.

I converted to black and white, darkened the dark tones a little, upped the blue to give a little more definition to the clouds and then cropped to remove the background so it looks as if it's actually flying.

1 Nov 2010

Black & White

I've just joined Justine Gordon's Black & White November flickr group. The real challenge is to find subjects with enough contrast between light and dark to make a striking black and white image and the photograph above just doesn't have that.

I took it during my afternoon walk with Misty in some nearby woods. I had this view in mind when I went out and knew I'd be able to frame the farm with close up foliage. The leaves in the foreground work really well, but the landscape beyond is made up of too many mid-tones to translate well into black and white.

So - a learning curve and, hopefully, the beginning of a journey of discovery during November.

And I finally clicked on that Buy Now button and enrolled on an online course with BetterPhoto.com on street photography starting Wednesday. Can't wait - although with a certain amount of trepidation!