Friday, December 30, 2011

Newbury Canal at Night

With just a few days to go until the launch of this blog, I thought perhaps it's a good time to reflect over one of my highlights of 2011. Although I can see where I would change it now, this is probably my best picture of 2011. Some pictures you take, you know it's a good one straight away but I really didn't have that thought with this one. I'd been out taking pictures for a couple of hours that night and the picture I was most excited about taking was my 'Building a Newbury Sunset' which I took the same evening. I had a good feeling about this one in the processing stage though and I think posted it on Flickr first. The immediate feedback was great. Lots of comments and favourites added to it and to this day is my 2nd most viewed picture on Flickr (only beaten by one outside a football ground which would naturally have a larger fan base). Other pictures have perhaps been more successful in other ways throughout the year but this always sticks in my head as my best shot of the year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Journey Begins

As people know by now, I never post pictures from a particular trip in chronological order. I kind of tried with the Polish trip with that ‘First Night in Poland’ blog and picture but really, I’d already taken some 80 odd pictures before even that. I’m referring of course to the journey on the way to Poland and this is one of the very, very first. Standing on board a moving ferry is probably the last place you would ever see recommended in any HDR tutorial to practice HDR shooting but with good light and the alignment feature on Photomatix, there aren’t many places you can’t have a go at HDR. Having said that, I did work on today’s picture for at least 4 hours, cleaning up in Photoshop some of the problems caused by picturing in bright sunshine on a moving ferry. And like my ‘Polish Village’ blog the other day, this is also an HDR from 2 shots. I figured that the +2 bracketed shot was simply too bright and wouldn’t add anything at all to the finished picture. To get the finished look, I also used the Bi-Color filter option in Nik Color Efex 3.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Grand Central Paddington

Most HDR photographers have a grand view of a station in their HDR arsenal and this is mine (for now). The emphasis for me with this one was the structure of the roof and the patterns as well. In an ideal world, I would have been able to take the picture straight down the middle of one of these rows of arches but unfortunately the stairs to the cafe haven’t been placed that way. Therefore, it’s a bit of an angle shot at the same time but I’m quite fond of the details at the bottom of the arches that run along the left side, so all wasn’t lost. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Autumn Bypass

Originally written in October 2011.

Today’s picture below is one I took last weekend of an autumnal scene overlooking the Newbury bypass. Every photo magazine I read at the moment suggests going to this and that place to get autumn pictures and while I haven’t travelled very far yet to get autumn pictures, I couldn’t ignore this very local scene when I came across it. I had driven over the bridge earlier in the day and having seen the autumn landscape over the bridge, decided to get my camera and come back later in the day, which I did.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wroclaw Side Streets

This is a glimpse of what you can find if you wander down some of the side streets in the fabulous city of Wroclaw, in south west Poland. I’ve spoken at length previously of how much I loved my time in Wroclaw and going back to these pictures does make me miss it even more. I remember wanting to picture this scene because it seemed so unlike a Polish city. It looks like something you would perhaps see in a country like Cuba or Mexico (Disclaimer – I haven’t actually been to those countries) but there were actually quite a few similar places in Wroclaw, looking a bit ‘Spanish’ to my liking. My Polish still isn’t fantastic but I’m sure any educated guess would conclude that this is a cafĂ© / coffee house.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Justice for the 96

I was going to post another picture today of my recent forays round Combe Gibbet but after attending the Liverpool v Norwich game yesterday, I was emotionally blown away by the mosaic the Kop end presented prior to the game in marking the recent announcement that the government will release all files relating to the Hillsborough disaster to the investigation committee. For those unfamiliar with the Hillsborough disaster this was a tragic event that took place on 15th April 1989 where 96 Liverpool FC fans were crushed to death. The game being played was a semi final FA cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the neutral ground of Hillsborough, where Sheffield Wednesday FC play. The game was stopped after 6 minutes as it was clear that a terrible event was occurring in the stands, as too many supporters were being let into the ground and this was creating a crush of fans already in the stands. 

I was only 7 years old at the time of the tragedy but the memory is very vivid to me. I had family attending the game at Hillsborough and luckily they were ok but what also sticks in my mind was the reaction by everyone as they gradually learnt what was going on. I was at a football game myself that day, Luton Town v Coventry City and the memories of people talking about what was happening at Hillsborough at half time and when the reality really sunk in to people at full time will always be prominent in my mind.

On a photographic note though, I was delighted of course to see this scene. I always take my camera to football games now and after doing the usual shots in and outside the ground, I had put my camera away waiting for the game to begin. After the thanks that were given for all the work by the people who have campaigned for years to get justice for the victims of this disaster, this huge mosaic was presented and I quickly got out my camera and took some more shots. I didn’t know it was going to happen and felt very fortunate to be in such a position to get a picture like this. The game yesterday ended up 1-1 but I honestly felt afterwards that I was so glad to have gone up and been there and wouldn’t let the results of yesterday’s game bother me that much