03
Apr
14

Reworked images 3 – Chatterley Whitfield

DSC_4646-Edit-2

Another rework, with some quite dramatic changes to the mood. It is somewhat timely as I read this morning that two of Britain’s remaining coal mines are under threat of closure. The storm clouds continue to gather over Chatterley Whitfield with every passing year resulting in further deterioration, and I really don’t know what the future holds for the place. Coal past and coal present – not a promising outlook.

 

 

12
Mar
14

#336 – Mechanical Landscapes – my new website

Sometime in April 2007, in a paradox of high hopes and no expectations, I launched theviewfromthenorth.org. Since then the journey that the website and I have been on has been an interesting one to say the least, and one that shows no sign of coming to an end.

The site has now had over 2 million views, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t much, but for someone like me who is clueless at self-promotion, it’s a landmark I’m proud of. So now seems a great opportunity to launch a new website to complement theviewfromthenorth.org.

I’ve been faffing around with mechanicallandscapes.com since December last year (and have been playing around with the concept for about 3 years) as I’d forgotten just how much work goes into setting up a website especially when you are relying on someone else’s templates and you are trying to make it bend to your will. Still, after much swearing, late nights and many, many changes of mind I now have it looking something like I had in mind.

In some respects it’s the same but different. The site is all black and white, and while a lot of the pictures are in fact the same as on theviewfromthenorth.org, they are often comprehensively reworked or presented for the first time in black and white. The intent, the look and the layout of the site is completely different and is ordered by theme rather than location.

One key difference will be that I am limiting the number of galleries online at any one time, and I will rotate the galleries on a regular basis to keep it fresh. I also intend to have occasional guest galleries as well.

At the moment it’s complete, apart from the long task of captioning several hundred photographs, but I’m getting there.

Please take a look and let me know what you think If you do the social media thing, please use that to share or whatever jiggery pokery you do on twitter, pinterest and all that other nonsense.

So another journey begins, I’ll be interested to see where it takes me this time!

www.mechanicallandscapes.com

11
Mar
14

#335 – theviewfromthenorth.org Backbarrow Pictures on the BBC

I was approached by the BBC asking for permission to use 6 of my photographs of Backbarrow Ironworks in a story they were doing. Only two were used in the end, better than nowt I guess.

The Ironworks site has been sold and some of the vacant land is going to be used for a holiday village, hopefully the remains of the Ironworks will be restored.

BBC story here.

Full set of photos on thewviewfromthnorth.org are here.

26
Feb
14

#334 – Reworked images 2 – Grove Rake

untitledThis is another problem image that I’d had several goes at over the years and never came up with anything that I liked. I think it’s getting somewhere now, although I’m not sure it’s there yet.

The problem has always been in balancing the tones. The light on the day was constantly changing as the clouds were being blown in front of the sun by the wind, and the hilly landscape meant that some areas were in shadow and others weren’t.

The photograph is about the derelict old mine and its position on the landscape, and using the tools in Colour Efex pro has enabled me to subtly focus attention on the mine, even though it’s only a small part of the sceen.

It’s certainly an improvement on the previous iterations of the image, I’ll probably come back to it again when my skills are at a higher level to produce the definitive iteration!

07
Feb
14

#333 – Reworked images 1 – Bridge of Doom

Dinorwic

This was an image I’d struggled to do anything with in monochrome. As a colour image, it works quite well, but converting it to monochrome always left it looking flat. That’s not a problem as the initial conversion normally does look flat, but I could never get anywhere with it after that.

However, after my recent course with Martin Henson, I chose this as my first photograph to revisit. I’ve managed to change the mood of it quite significantly. It’s got some real ‘pop’ and is a lot more dramatic, which probably suits the scene – a length of railway track dangling precariously over a huge hole high up in a valley.

The reworking involved selectivelt adjusting different areas of the image to get the right balance of tones, before going into the Nik suite of tools to add some contrast and drama.

 DSC_2163

The original picture, pretty much straight out of camera. Your eye is drawn to the track as the colour makes it stand out amongst the other subdued hues.

DSC_2163bw

One of the better black and white iterations. The problem seems to lie in the lack of contrast in the image, now that the colour has been removed from the image.

04
Feb
14

#332 – Review – Digital Monochrome Workshop with Martin Henson

Experience has shown me that in many endeavours where there is a high level of skill involved, you start to plateau and need either a change in the way you do things or a change of tutor / mentor. This is especially so of you are working on your own in isolation.

Last year, I submitted my FRPS portfolio for assessment and it was rejected as not being of a high enough standard. The feedback was that although my ‘seeing’ was good, the quality of the print (i.e. the processing of the image and the physical image on paper) was lacking, and a colour cast could be seen.

It was time for some expert tuition! I contacted Martin Henson whose monochrome work I had seen in magazines previously and who runs workshops on digital monochrome.

Martin works on the basis that there are 4 principles that make a good monochrome image – contrast range, texture, tonal range and mood. You get the first three (i.e. the tonality) right in Photoshop, and then you can produce the mood, either in photoshop, or using the Nik software tools which I use a lot. My monochrome workflow, while not unstructured, doesn’t spend enough time getting the tonality right first, and I was creating too much contrast in my images, and blocking up the shadows, which when printed was causing my prints to be too dark. I now know a better way of assessing and processing my images.

While most of the problems were around my own technique, there were a couple of hardware issues – my old monitor was somewhat past it (which I have since replaced anyway), and my current one is not yet calibrated, something I must do. In addition, I’ve probably gone as far as I can with my current printer, which although capable of producing lovely images, isn’t quite up to the job of producing high quality cast-free monochrome images. While not immediately noticeable under most lights, when compared with a print off Martin’s Epson, a green cast was noticeable. Seeing Martin’s own prints mounted on the walls of his home and studio made me realise what an excellent print looks like!

So now the task is to start practicing and re-visiting my images. It’s going to be a pretty long task re-visiting my images, but I might as well take my time and enjoy the journey!

They say there’s nothing like failure to show you where you need to improve, and the Fellowship assessment showed up my shortcomings. If you’re serious about monochrome, and especially if your output is the print, then I highly recommend Martins workshops! Or failing that, have a look here, a great place to learn http://www.digitalmonochromeforum.co.uk/

http://www.martinhensonphotography.co.uk

22
Jan
14

#331 – Camera Club Talks!

Following an unusual sequence of unrelated events, I’ve suddenly found myself three camera club talks booked for 2014, so I might as well formally offer my services on here to camera clubs or anyone else who is interested! Please contact me via the comments box.

Title

Mechanical Landscapes – Exploring the Industrial North

Synopsis

The talk is approximately 90 minutes and is a wander through the remnants of the northern industrial landscape. Covering a diverse selection of sites such as the enormous slate quarries of Snowdonia, abandoned textile mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire, a disused underground coal mine, the bizarre landscapes of active steelworks, beached passenger ships, as well as unique views of the inside of derelict cooling towers, this talk is somewhat different from the majority of camera club talks. The images are predominantly black and white, with splashes of colour.

I can also talk on other subjects that I’ve written about or photographed, or customise the talk to specialise on certain themes – contact me to discuss.

Format

Digital (Pictures to exe / Powerpoint)

Areas Covered

50 mile / 1 hour radius of Chorley in Lancashire. I will consider talks further afield, but I am in full time employment so I am not in a position to travel long distances during the week.

Cost

2014 – 2015 season mileage expenses only




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Mechanical Landscapes Book

Exploring The Indus...
By Andy Marland
April 2014
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