An Un-expected Muse

We often hear Joe Cornish talking about Roseberry Topping being his muse, but it came as a bit of a shock to me to realise that the Kingthorpe farm had become my muse without me actually realising. I guess I’ve been amassing images of Kingthorpe over the years without realising just how many I had. But it was while I was processing my latest Kingthorpe image that it suddenly dawned on me that I had quite a few images from Kingthorpe, though I didn’t realise just how many until I brought them all together in a Lightroom collection.

Joe talks about shooting Roseberry in different lights and different seasons, whereas I struggle to produce anything I’m happy with from Kingthorpe in any conditions other than mist and snow. The features that attract me such as the trees and the rolling hills are hard to separate when the visibility is good. For me, shooting in poor visibility, be it fog, or falling snow, gives that simplicity we strive for and the diminished backgrounds imparts that sense of depth we love so much.

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If You Don’t Go, You Don’t Get!

I’m a big believer in the saying “If you don’t go, you don’t get”, but I have to say, I’m as guilty as anyone for saying, “The weather’s not very good, I’ll not go this time”. But we all know that bad weather can be exactly the conditions that produce the most atmospheric images.

So, looking back to last Sunday morning, we woke to a most un-promising day with a dusting of snow and very high winds. However, by the time we were up and ready to go out, the wind seemed to have calmed a bit, so we decided to head for the Wolds. We didn’t have a plan, we just decided to go have a look see what we could find. As we headed south, it was obvious that the wind hadn’t abated at all and it really wasn’t a nice day to be out and about, however “we’d started, so we’d finish”.

Once we arrived on the Wolds, the weather was really wild and getting out of the car didn’t have much appeal. The gusty high winds meant shooting from a tripod was a non -starter, so it was going to have to be the odd drive by shooting from the car. However, the combination of the dusting of snow, the rolling hills and the colour contrasts combined with the textures were fascinating. So, what started out looking like a complete waste of time, proved to be a very satisfying and productive morning out and Janet came home with the shot of the day with her Winter Mosaic.

And it all server to prove the point, if we’d stayed at home in the warm, we wouldn’t have been able to add a few more images to our slowly growing Wolds gallery.

Wolds Textures by Richard Burdon

The Zig-Zag by Janet Burdon

Rolling Hills by Richard Burdon

Winter Mosaic by Janet Burdon

DSLR vs Mirrorless – Part 2

Before I start, I’d like it to make it clear that these are purely my own thoughts on the subject and could easily prove to be well wide of the mark.

Following on from my blog post on the subject of DSLR vs Mirrorless in November, I’ve been following the Nikon rumour mill with some interest. Back in January, the internet was alive with predictions that Nikon would announce a top end mirrorless camera in February, however that seems to have gone quiet for now.

I’ve also spent some time trying to get my head round the need for the oft rumoured Z-mount. There’s always been plenty of diagrams and maths on the internet, but very little sign of an explanation of why it’s needed. Fortunately, it seems that the new mount will allow Nikon to design some new, more compact lenses, which if correct is great news.

The big negative that some people were citing, is whether Nikon can produce an EVF to rival that of the Sony A7R mk111, from a standing start, but only time will tell.

Sony, Fuji, Sigma and Olympus are all eating into the market share Nikon and Canon have long enjoyed and with Nikon’s shaky financial state at the moment, they need something to revive their fortunes. A mirrorless camera would be cheaper to produce than a DSLR, so Nikon could do like Porsche did with the Cayman vs the Boxster and charge more for a cheaper product!

However, it struck me that announcing a camera that essentially uses D850 technology, would be very bad marketing right now and would compete with the D850 for sales. In my humble opinion, they need to wait for possibly up to a year from the launch of the D850 to allow the D850 to get fully established in the market.

I recently went on an Olympus day to try the EM1 mk2 and their super 12-100 f4 lens and it is very good, but right this moment I’m minded to sit tight and see how the market works out, but a light mirrorless Nikon camera, with a compact lens sounds just the product I’m looking for.

Follow Your Own Path

Follow Your Own Path

Janet kindly bought me a copy of the “Masters of Landscape Photography” book for Christmas and it proved a really interesting read. Marc Adamus did lots of processing on his images while others did very little. Some carried out lots of preparation, prior to a shoot, while others preferred to “freewheel”. Johnathan Critchley shot in black and white, while Tom Mackie preferred highly saturated colours.

It all served to confirm my own opinion that there is no “right way” only “your way”, so always follow your own path, be it in life, or photography. Sometimes I’m happy to just get out there and see what the conditions have to offer, other times I have a specific image in mind and it becomes like an itch, I can’t settle until I’ve scratched it.

So, it was with my latest mono image. I really liked the images we produced at Strensall Common, exactly one year ago. I loved the delicate branches on the birch trees and the fine detail in the frosted grasses, but as a simple soul who loves simple images, I wanted to reduce the image even further. Ideally, I needed a thick layer of snow to smooth the foreground even more, with just a few stalks of grass sticking through, but I was going to have to be patient and wait for some snow to come.

As soon as the snow fell a few weeks ago, we headed straight for Strensall, only to have the snow peter out before we got there! So more patience required. When the snow finally returned last Thursday it was game on, but where to go? When it snows heavily, travelling becomes difficult and parking even harder! Being constrained to stay local by heavy falling snow, we headed for one of our favourite locations and there infront of me was my perfect tree with some vegetation sticking out of the snow! However, driving snow in my face made it impossible to keep the lens dry, so this image would have to wait for another day. 

The following day dawned dull, grey and un-inspiring, but with a thaw forecast overnight, we had to give it one last try, even if it was to only be a recce of the location. As it turned out, the conditions were favourable and I even found a simpler clump of vegetation to add my foreground interest, so job done, I could go home happy and not worry too much about the impending thaw.

A Time To Reflect

As the end of another year approaches, it’s the time when we all relax and sit back and start to reflect on the past year, but also time to ponder where we are heading in the new year, both in our personal lives and also in our photographic journey. We’ve already got a calendar packed with workshops, talks, fairs and trips to interesting places, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to in 2018.

However, I’ve digressed from what I originally sat down to write about. I was sat having a coffee the other day whilst looking through a friend’s website, as you do. And I found my going, oh I like that, and I like that, and I wish I’d taken that and I’ll have to go there. I’m sure we’ve all done it, but then I thought that’s exactly what I don’t want to do. I really don’t want a portfolio full of copies of other people’s work, I want to do my own thing.

Now before anyone points out that I’ve got loads of images of iconic, well known locations, I accept that I need some of these for commercial reasons, but it’s images taken in little, or unknown locations that give me the most satisfaction and I want to follow my own path more this coming year.

I’m happy with the direction of my monochrome work, I just need to figure out how to produce more of it, but the saturated colour work doesn’t please me anymore. My recent image of Kingthorpe didn’t exactly set the social media on fire, but I don’t care, I like it so much it’s going to be printed and hung on the wall and I’m sure there will be more, softer, subtler images to follow this coming year.

Getting to Know Your Own Patch

Constantly photographing the same place may seem like a waste of time at first, but in reality, the light and the conditions are never the same twice, so it can be an interesting and challenging project. By constantly going back to a location, you get to know the place and learn which times of day work and when the light will be favourable. It also allows you to “work” a location to get the most out of it.

I’m lucky as I live close to two streams. Ten minutes’ walk in either direction and I can be on the river bank and it’s a place that is good for the soul. Life feels as though it slows down, keeping pace with the slow-moving river. I see deer and rabbits, kingfishers and egrets and never tire of the peace and tranquillity and this puts me in a good frame of mind for photography.

I took my first successful image of Costa Beck way back in 2008 and it has always been the benchmark for me as an image I’ve never bettered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the seasons roll by, the vegetation at the side of the beck constantly changes, bringing new challenges, but also offering new images. Summer 2011 brought a wonderful display of rose bay willow herb that gave a colourful display that is such a contrast to the frosty images I regularly take.

The banks of the river are often overgrown, but in 2015 the banks had been mown giving me un-rivalled access to shoot reflections in the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whereas today the banks are very overgrown, bringing its own challenge and giving me an image that I’m not happy with.

However I’m sure I’ll be back along the banks of Costa beck again one day soon and who knows I might just better the 2008 image!