Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ahem...ummmmm errrr...

This blog post is a little shameless self promotion before I disappear tomorrow to the Lake District, on a shoot. Well, to a wedding (that I am not photographing) that will be one afternoon and an evening. The rest will be a mixture of photography and exploring the area with Anna. I've never been to the lakes before, but have always wanted to go. I don't care what weather we have, because I bet it will be photogenic anyway!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been uploading some of the photographs made on my trip to Pembrokeshire. I think I've cherry-picked the best out of 1,000 images - there are lots of others, but like a wine collection, its nice to let them mellow and maybe in a few months or years' time I'll see them in a different light and put some more up. For now, there are about 20-25 new images, which for a week's shooting, ain't too shabby!

So what Have I posted? More to the point, what have I put up for sale on my website? Lets take a look.

There's this photograph of St Ann's Head at the entrance to Pembroke Harbour. It was shot perhaps half a mile from the lighthouse on the coastal path. There's nothing to give it scale, but had I slipped and fallen into the sea, I'd have been able to have a long and leisurely panic with my life playing in slow motion before my eyes...

On the one day, my lovely Anna and I went for a drive to the Preseli Hills near Fishguard. On the way back, having passed through St Davids we stopped off to investigate Druidston Haven and the hotel there for future reference. The sun was shining on the sea and yielded me several very dramatic images, including God's Spotlight.

One thing I never expected to do was any sports photography. Well, I should have, because I did. Early one freezing morning near Tenby there were a handful of kitesurfers preparing to face the FREEZING water. I was convinced my 200mm lens wouldn't cut it, but fortunately they seemed to like blaying on the inshore waves. Shooting into the sun is never easy, but I did manage to get a few keepers in the twenty or so minutes I was there. Take a look at this one.

Those who know my work will know that I am very fond of creating stripped-down images. When nature is the subject, it is too easy to fill the view with scenery and you miss the big picture. I photographed these cows as they grazed on a hillside near Dale at the mouth of Pembrokeshire harbor. Here's a different shot of the same crew. Let me know which one you prefer (by buying it???) :-)

Low angle sunlight can be a real pain, especially with my wide angle lens. Fortunately, I had my long lens on when I saw this view.

Finally, having been back to the earlier pages of my gallery, I just have to ask you to look at this photograph, which is, I think, my favourite of all my work.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me. :-)

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A little catch-up

I really do need to make more effort with this blog, but at the same time, I'm trying not to write just for the sake of writing something; this is not about quantity, its about quality.

Kensal Green Night Shoot

First off, a brief report on my efforts to spook myself. On the full moon before Easter, I decided it would be clever and energetic to get off my backside and do some night shots in the Kensal Green Cemetery. It never ceases to amaze me how good I feel when I make the effort to go and take photographs instead of "doing the usual".

Cross and Moon
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Unfortunately, by the time I'd cooked dinner and eaten, the moon was quite high in the sky, so I had to write it off as one of the subjects for the shoot. There is a broken fence that has replaced the cemetery wall that collapsed (how clever is it to have hundreds of graves, all subsiding right next to a 16ft wall?). I snuck in through the gap in the fence and started wandering around the various graves and monuments that I know are good subject matter.

I have not done much night photography and was quite disappointed by the very urban, very bright sodium glare from streetlighting, coupled with the fact that the Heathrow approach path was running west to east, right through the darkest bit of sky. I set up a few 30 second time exposures and ran around various monuments illuminating them with a small LED light, with mixed results. I also did a few shots over 30 seconds with my flashgun hand-held, flashing once at the beginning of the exposure and once (after re-charging) at the end, dashing between two different positions so as to give two light sources per exposure. Again, varying degrees of success.

Sentenel 3
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Note to self: Get some portable battery-powered studio lights, get permission to shoot in the graveyard so guerilla tactics can be avoided. In other words, make the shoot a proper, planned production.

One shot I wanted involved a musoleum. I wanted to flood the inside of it with light and have it illuminate the ivy-clad tombstones outside. I set up my tripod and composed the shot (note to self: bring a powerful torch to enable acccurate manual focusing on the subject) then st the exposure to 30 seconds then hoped, skipped and jumped over the jumbled graves into the mausoleum with my flashgun, firing it twice at various walls. I repeated this a number of times at various aperture settings. Results? Medicre. Spook factor: Medium-high.

One of those shoots I was glad I had done, despite results that were below my expectations. Over the next few months I want to master night photography. Plenty more trips to the cemetery!

Easter in Wales

St Brides
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St Brides is a lovely bay in Pembrokeshire, Wales, west of Milford Haven
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Over Easter me, my lovely lady and my splendid daughter went to Wales. To Pembrokeshire, in fact to enjoy a week with the bulk of my family at a place called Saundersfoot, near Tenby. Which is near Pembroke. Which Is near Milford Haven. In Wales. Got it?

Obviously, I considered it a clever idea to take my camera gear and use the week essentially as a long landscape shoot. In the end, I shot over 1,000 raw images which will probably shake down to no more than 20-30 "keepers" - not that I ever throw any photographs away.

The Church Doors
Skrinkle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

The last week has seen Lightroom and Photoshop sweating as I clean up and manipulate the images, and my RedBubble account has seen a lot of action as I upload said images and then 'farm' them - posting them to various groups, plus Stumbling them etc.

Kite Surfer, Tenby
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned on this trip was to be more grateful of the opportunity to shoot in such a stunning location . I thought I was being a good, diligent photographer by getting to Saundersfoot harbour 10 minutes before sunrise. In truth, I wasn't. I should have been at a previously recce'd location at least an hour before sun-up. I should have pursued just one photograph instead of machine-gunning the entire area with my camera and every lens I possess. The results were inevitable: a couple of okay shots standing head and shoulders above a hundred or so entirely mediocre pics.

That said, I did come away at the end of the week feeling quite satisfied with several photographs, some of which are now for sale.

Sister and Niece
Wisemans Bridge, Pembrokeshire
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

I'll be going back, possibly in the summer with my son and his girlfriend and I promise to be up and shooting at least an hour before dawn, and will also shoot at sundown and for at least an hour after.

Nab Head, St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

With my 28-200mm lens out of action, I was unable to use my 72mm polariser on my, essential for photographing landscapes at this time of year when the sun is low and there is a bit of haze from the sea. I missed it an awful lot, even holding it over the 58mm front element of my 50-200mm zoom. But what I also missed and MUST get were a range of neutral density filters to help tame the low-sun glare.

Dawn Patrol
Photographed as the mist cleared in Pembrke Dock, just after sunrise
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

On top of this, the sea mist - invisible most of the time - coats the front lens element and on my wide angle, this created havoc with sunspots. A lens shade that I can mount onto the hot shoe is another "must". Oh, and image stabilised lenses. Did I mention a new camera? I need one. NEED, not want.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sunday in the Countryside

Having attended a swanky engagement party for my very good friends Ian and Heather on Saturday night, and having had my equally good friends Sue and Fernando staying with us overnight, I was unsurprised to wake up on Sunday morning with Hangover Vulgaris.

Despite having gone to bed late and quite bladdered, I was still awake early, fighting to fall asleep again. Then I remembered that Mr Button and his friends had some work do do so I staggered through to the sitting room ("lounge" is almost a banned word in our house. Chavvish, apprently) to watch the Aussie Grand Prix. Yay for Jenson!

Eventually my lovely lady got up and so did my splendid house guests. Teas and coffees all round, accompanied by bacon sandwiches. Yum.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey.

Post Bacon sarnie, S & F had to go back home and reunite themselves with their daughters and I decided to go on a photo shoot.

Recently, I've felt as though my photography is getting into a bit of a rut. I'm not seeing properly. I'm just looking and there's a difference. My forays into the urban underbelly have been to be frank, a little underwhelming. I've returned with images, yes, but nothing that gets my heart racing. Nothing that I can look at and think, "I wish I'd shot that! Oh, wait, I did!".

On Saturday afternoon I had done yet another shoot at Kensal Green Cemetery - a rich feeding ground for my camera, but having spent many hours there in the past, It was all a bit samey. I have yet to process the 200-odd frames I shot there.

For a change, I decided that I would use my car for the first time in about four weeks and head out into the country, swapping urban grit for the countryside. Good decision! I drove west along the M40 into Buckinghamshire, exiting the motorway at Stokenchurch and then winding along some of the lovely narrow country lanes, eventually stopping for a walk up what I think is called Chinnor Hill. It was so good just to be out of the London area, watching some type of Kite sweeping across the sky, seeing people out with their dogs (Labradors have such proud faces when they are carrying a very large stick). I climbed the hill and took a few photographs - nothing staggeringly clever or anything, but worthwhile just for the pleasure of being outdoors in the countryside.

Spring View From Chinnor Hill
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

I decided to move on and spent an hour or so just getting lost, avoiding anything as vulgar as a road capable of two way traffic. I eventually found my self in a place called Lee Common where I got out of the car, grabbed my tripod and gear and took a large number of exposures of a little cottage and its surrounds on what I think might be the Lee Common. This cottage has no driveway, no road passsing its front gate, nothing. It was just there in the middle of this lovely parkland with an avenue of trees leading up to it.

Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

The light was fantastic - a warm golden quality and the sun was still low enough in the sky as to make shooting a pleasure; long strokes of sunlight painted onto the lush spring grass. Total feelgood!

Lee Common Cottage 2
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Eventually I moved on wanting to find somewhere to shoot the sunset, but ended up getting trapped into a whole "A" road and then Motorway situation and before I knew it, I was London-bound on the M1, Sylosis blasting out LOUD on the stereo.

Perhaps the best news of the weekend though is that the clocks have gone forward again: Summer has been switched back on!