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 November evening.
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 cloning.
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, read on.
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 write-up.