This image originated from the palette of photos I captured when working on v2
of my Spirits in the Woods panel. I was experimenting with one idea when I
saw potential for another, and took things in a different direction.
I've done a quick write-up showing the
stages the image went through.
The Needles is a rock formation on the western tip of the Isle of White. As a
tourist attraction it's a busy place at peak times - but not so much on a late
This image came from three bracketed ±2 shots at f/8, combined using
Luminance HDR before being taken into Paint Shop Pro X for some quick
Some photographers claim to only take photographs for themselves, and it's a
bonus if others like them too. This isn't a viewpoint I completely subscribe to,
but I do tend not to explain my images - preferring to let the pictures set the
scene for viewers to interpet in their own way.
With that in mind, all I will say here is: this piece is not as disordered as it
might seem; it's all deliberate. The one bit that didn't work out as I wanted is
the sky area - one day I'll create a revised version to put that right - but
the rest is as intended.
Thinking in terms of versions of an image is a technique I'm finding useful - it
allows me to complete images whilst accepting they aren't 100% how I'd like. Far
better to consider an image as the first iteration than to have it remain
unfinished and unseen by anyone else.
My friend and I had been out for a walk, and whilst he returned to the car I
took a slight detour for a potential photo (turned out not to be worth taking),
but I came back to find nice lighting on his face and quickly grabbed this shot.
Maybe it was due to the book I'd been reading, but his hat, scarf and focused
gaze brought to mind a private investigator, hence the title.
Processing was simple: converting to mono was a natural choice, there were
over-exposed remnants of the car door to remove, then it was simply increasing
clarity and cropping to complete the image.
Sometimes it can be a long time between photographic capture and realisation of
an image. This one began life back in 2012, whilst out walking along by a lake
that had flooded and caused a swamp-like area amongst some trees, but it was a
couple of years later before the image emerged.
I use a collection in Lightroom to keep photos with potential but that are not
yet completed images (for whatever reason), every so often I look through what
it contains to see if inspiration bites. This one sat there for a while until I
figured it out, but was worth the wait.
To see how I gradually tweaked an initial shot which many might reject, and used
the versatility of both layer blend modes and adjustment layers to arrive at the
final image, keep reading.
This photo was taken whilst being driven along the A3055 on the only sunny day
of a trip last November to the Isle of Wight. My D750 and 24-140 F/4 lens were
both new at that point, and I was seeing how well they worked.
With the camera set to Aperture priority at f/8, ISO 400, I spotted the potential
and waited a brief moment to allow the cyclist to reach the right position before
trusting the vibration reduction and auto-focus, and they didn't let me down.
Whilst the camera succesfully captured the moment, post-processing was required
to reproduce the image above. If you're interesting in seeing the steps I took,
Spirits in the Woods is a panel of manipulated photos I originally put together
eight years ago, when I entered my first annual exhibition organised by
Croydon Camera Club.
Not having entered the exhibition for several years, due to various reasons, but
with this year being the 125th anniversary of the club, I made the effort to
enter the Photo 2015 exhibition with a re-imagining of that panel.
View the Panel
It's the same theme and ideas, reworked into four images, and created from photos
I specifically went out and took for the panel. This was a first for me -
generally I'll go to take photos of whatever I might find, occasionally with
vague notions, but without a clear intent/goal. My previous panels were all put
together independent of the shooting stage.
Having set myself the aim of re-creating the panel, I made notes on what that
meant; what I wanted in it. I then decided on a location I hoped would provide
the necessary scenes, waited for appropriate weather, then went out solely to
get the shots for the panel.
Note: This write-up was made over six
months ago - the exhibition ended on 28th March - but circumstances have prevented
the article from being finalised and put online before now.
Exhibition aside, it was a good experience and I'm glad I did it. If you're
interested in details you can continue on to the full article for a
At the weekend I went to the Folkestone Airshow, being held to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - the first in the area since the last Shepway Airshow held in 2003.
After an overcast start to they day, fortunately the sun came out and the sky cleared enough to make for some photographic opportunities by the time the planes turned up.
The photos were taken using a Sigma 70-300mm - a cheap lens with slow and noisy auto-focus - and I was uncertain how well it would perform, but I knew I wouldn't get the necessary reach with my standard 18-70mm, so I gave it a try.
As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst I did have issues with the lens, I was still able to get some shots I was happy with.
Below is a selection of images, with more being available in the gallery.
(The Red Arrows started the display with seven planes, and unfortunately Red 6 had technical problems, further reducing the display to five - but they still put on a good show.)