I was very fortunate recently to have three consecutive mornings where I not only rose early but conditions were ideal for some flying practice. On all three I headed to the closest stretch of the Calder & Hebble which affords sufficient space for me to fly a drone without getting in peoples way. That said over the three mornings I saw just two people so I was hardly a nuisance.
I used a polarising filter on the Mavic for the first time and that together with some bright early morning light produced some punchy, colourful images.
The image below falls partly into a landscape but also partly into an abstract style of image to me. It was for these types of straight-down abstract/semi-abstract images that I originally purchased the drone.
Bold colours, strong contrasts, a polariser and careful positioning of the drone all combine here to create one of my favourite drone images to date. I am still smiling several days after making this one!
This particular spot lends itself very well to images like the one below with strong lines, an almost graphical look but also when you look closely you see road, canal and river broadly running together.
All of the images above were shot with the sun either behind the drone or to the side and mostly with the camera pointing down so not receiving any direct sunlight. Shooting into the sun though as in the image below creates a far more contrasty scene and less saturated colours.
Undoubtedly though it’s the “straight-down” images that I like best especially when you can create layers and patterns.
I was lucky to get three good mornings, and almost an hours flight time over the bank holiday weekend and greatly benefited from the opportunity to practice my flying and aerial photography skills.
I’m not a serious natural history photographer but do enjoy the occasional dabble as it were. Being primarily a landscape photographer my gear is centred around those need so basically 14 – 200mm focal lengths. As a result my kit choicer natural history work is very limited; basically a 105mm macro lens and a very old (and heavy) 300mm lens. I generally use the 300mm on a Nikon D7100 body to take advantage of the crop factor.
Having spent a lot of time stuck indoors for various reasons recently I’ve got in the habit of leaving the D7100 and 300mm lens combination on the coffee table in the front room. Annoys the hell out of the wife but it is at least ready for when the birds visit our front yard. Our front yard I should explain is about six feet deep and bordered by a busy pavement and the main road in and out of Elland. By no means a haven for wildlife.
Our usual visitors are Sparrows, a resident male Blackbird, a Robin and a few Starlings. In the past we’ve seen Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches and on one memorable day a flock of Waxwings. Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Great Tits do also make an appearance although this year there have been fewer of them. One bird we rarely see is the Song Thrush although one turned up on Saturday to savour the rotting apples under the bushes.
Being so space restricted it is not possible to set up a hide in the garden. Indeed, so close are they to the front window that they are often spooked by movement inside the house. I’ve worked out that the best way to photograph them is to sit on the sofa near to the window with the camera beside me and when they appear to slowly and carefully stand up and photograph them through the window.
I jokingly referred to one image as being part of my “Birds from the Sofa Collection” and the tag has stuck.
Last week I found a roll of 120 Ilford Delta 400 in the back of a drawer that had lain there for goodness only knows how long. Nothing on the label told me what camera it had been through (I have four that take 120 roll film) nor what was actually on the film. I’ve only recently packed away the darkroom and with it the film processing tools as well so it was sent off to Ag Photographic for processing.
On its return it was clearly the test roll I had put through a Holga Panoramic camera early last year and totally forgotten about in the meantime. Four strips of film, around 6cm x 12cm, each containing one image. I popped the first on to the small light box I still hang on to and it was immediately clear that they were all horribly over-exposed, a fact that I’d already been able to see just by glancing at them in their protective sheet. I wasn’t particularly surprised, the “controls” on the Holga 120 Panoramic are rudimentary to say the least and this was the first roll through the camera.
Undaunted I popped the first on to the scanner (a rather outdated Epson Perfection V550 that I have had since at least 2013) and fired up the interface. It took quite a lot of tweaking to get detail appearing and it took around fifteen minutes to scan the first negative. I scanned at 3200dpi (the scanner has an optical max of 6400) and saved the resultant scan as a 16-bit grayscale TIFF file.
Why did I buy such a camera in the first place? Tempted by the hype in one online review on the Lomography website perhaps?
“One could argue that its 90mm ‘OPTICAL LENS’ is a piece of crap. I would argue that the fancier competitors (e.g. Linhof, Horseman etc…) produce cold, sad, perfect panoramic shots you wouldn’t even consider hanging in your toilet. Or maybe I’m just frustrated I can’t afford one of these monsters… Anyhow, the usual soft focus and vignette produced by the dirt-cheap lens give the warmth and dreaminess we all love in lomographs”
Well, as you can see the 90mm lens is definitely soft and the promised soft focus and vignetting is there for all to see.
Well, I paid over my pennies as you can see and I took the camera for a wander down Gog Hill (above) to the Elland Bridge (first picture) and shot the allotted four frames. Then promptly forgot about it! I was probably waiting to process it with another 120 roll film but got diverted and started playing with the 35mm film SLRs instead.
What do I think now? Well, the images are everything I thought they would be so no disappointments there, but they probably don’t sit with the type of work I’m doing right now. They have taken a fair bit of work to look half decent, and I’ve not tried printing them yet. But the fact that they don’t “sit well” with my current work is perhaps irrelevant. We all experiment at times, or at least we should experiment, and these have produced images with the characteristic Holga charm. Charm is highly subjective of course and one mans charming image is another’s out-of-focus, soft piece of crap I guess.
Yesterday I was ready to ditch the Holga, even offering it to anyone who wanted it amongst my Flickr friends. But this morning, having processed the other three negatives I’m a little less inclined to ditch the experiment altogether. I won’t be rushing off to put another roll through the plastic-fantastic but it will live to see another film at some point I think.