Archive for the ‘ Night photography ’ Category

Red Sky

Red sky over Kidderminster

I have set up a highly efficient office in a room in my house. It’s got all mod cons – computer, laptop dock, printer, scanner, speakers, filing cabinet, cupboards, bookshelves, phoneline. There’s a nice picture on the wall, a big map of Shropshire and a giant whiteboard where I can plan work and cross things out when I’ve done them. I like this bit best.

Yet after three weeks of working as close to full time as is possible with two kids to pick up every day at 3pm, I’ve already decamped with laptop to the dining room table at the back of the house. Sometimes I end up on the settee, hunched over the keyboard. The lovely oak desk with its posture-friendly office chair is abandoned.

I’ve ended up with a crick in my neck and sore shoulders but, despite realising the stupidity and wastefulness, I can’t help it. I live in a house, you see, with two distinct climates. The front of the house, where the office is, gets the morning sun and is flooded with light until about 11am, when the sun moves round and it falls into shadow. By midday the back garden is bathed in sunshine. Thus, the back kitchen and dining room are lit up, warm and welcoming, while the study turns dull and cool.

I was in the back room the other night; I’d returned to my laptop to finish something off while Richard put the boys to bed. Then I became aware of this bright red glow. When I looked out of the patio doors I was convinced something must be on fire nearby, so intense was the red sky. To one side was bright blue sky; to the other ominous dark clouds; and betwixt was this sweep of fluffy, swirling scarlet mass. I grabbed my camera and took a few snaps. It was weird, and eerie, and amazing, and lovely, all at once.

Blue Skies

Night sky, sea, sand

I’ve waxed lyrical about Woolacombe in north Devon before. It’s become a family tradition to come here over Easter to celebrate my birthday and it’s one of my highlights of the year.

This photo was taken within a few hours of our arrival for this year’s annual sojourn. I love  its simplicity and calmness, the lines and the shadows.

This week away is one of those rare times when I get to carry my camera around with me much of the time. There is so much amazing scenery, so many places worthy of a photograph, that I could spend the entire week snapping.

I’ll try not to bore you though – just a photo a day if that’s all right with you.

Why I Take Photographs – A Discovery!

Why exactly do I bother to post my photos online or show them directly to friends? I say it’s because I want to improve, I want to see how others judge my “artistic work”, and particularly because I want more experienced and talented folk to point me in the right direction.

I have realised that this is actually complete and utter rubbish. All I want – and I mean ALL I want – is for people to tell me a picture or set of pictures is great, fab, whizzo and wonderful. And, ergo, by association, so am I.

This sad reality dawned on me rather pathetically after I posted some pictures from my recent sojourn from Kidderminster to sunny Woolacombe. After spending quite a lot of time downloading and sorting through untold gigabytes of photos, I selected about 40-odd landscapes to put on my facebook page and on my flickr site to guage reaction. I was met by deafening silence.

In the hours after posting them I regularly checked the pages for updates and comments, perhaps even a personal message to say something like: “These are great, I didn’t want to sound too gushing on your page but they are the best photos I’ve ever seen in my life, have a prize.” Instead I found diddly squat. Nada. Nowt.

Eventually, like, HOURS later, a few people kindly commented on two or three pictures, and one even posted the link to my pictures on her own page (thanks Tanya!).

But (and this reflects very badly on me, people, not you) the damage was done. I decided the pictures that I’d thought would elicit gasps of appreciation were probably all just useless and dull after all.

For this confession I apologise. It is not nice to feel you are responsible for someone else’s happiness, particularly when you hadn’t even realised it! And, as I say, it reflects very poorly indeed on my own self esteem regarding my photographic talents that someone failing to click on a “thumbs up” button on Facebook could bring me down.

I would add that this feeling of Abject Misery passed very quickly and was indeed swiftly cured by my husband telling me in no uncertain terms to “get a life, facebook saddo” and pouring me a double vodka.

I have now revisited said pictures and realised they are, after all, just a nice set of holiday snaps at a beach. This is not me being self-deferential or putting myself down after the fact (indeed, I still think several of the shots are lovely and am even framing some to adorn my walls) but I now appreciate they are fantastic to me because I WAS THERE.

Just looking at them on my wall or on the computer transports me back to that beautiful beach, at twilight, any one of three nights we spent down there watching the sun set.

There was hardly a soul around except for the surfer boys in the ocean, trying desperately to catch the last tiny waves;  the odd dog walker; and my little family.

The boys were happy making a platform in the dunes from which to do somersaults and jump into the sky; my gorgeous hubby was happily cooking up a storm on the barbecue while sipping a beer; and I was contentendly snapping away with my camera, glass of red in hand. The chilly breeze forced us occasionally to huddle together behind the windbreak in a happy heap, from where we watched the sun tumble out of the sky into the sea. I had never realised before quite how dramatically the sun plummets at nightfall. It quite literally disappeared before our eyes – one minute a ball of fire, the next a purple haze trailing over the horizon.

So, that’s why I like photography, and why I want to continue to take photos. If I’m going to have cherished memories of a place or moment in time, the photograph that accompanies it may as well be as good as it can be! And the actual art of taking a photo is extremely satisfying – I like going off into my own little world to focus my mind on something specific.

And this realisation, dear friends, is a blessed relief. I feel like I have been released from a torment that was gathering pace in my soul.

For weeks I have been forcing myself out to take pictures of, well, anything really, in the desperate quest for a photo that would prove to me that I could make the grade, that I could be a contender, that I had a photographer’s eye, an artist’s instinct, a sensitive touch.

And now? Now I feel free, free, free! Now I feel that I can accidentally leave my camera at home when I go for a walk in the woods without suffering moments of desperate anguish that this might be the day I see “the shot”. I can spend under £100 on a new tripod instead of the £400 one I’d seriously considered as a “must have” if I was going to take this photography lark seriously. I don’t have to buy a macro lens so I can take pictures of little biddy insects and flowerheads that I can’t even identify. Ah, bliss.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to take pictures and am still going to bore my facebook friends with the odd album of snaps. I’m still going to meet up with my new photography friends for the odd shoot. I’m still going to go along to my local camera club when I get the chance to pick up tips. And I’m still going to try to learn more, get better and have fun with my hobby.

But I won’t feel quite so desperate if it all goes wrong and, especially, if what I like doesn’t meet with the approval of anyone else.

It feels good, this freedom.

(To see the rest of my landscapes from Woolacombe visit my flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fab2010/  You don’t have to leave a comment!!!)

First attempt at Night Photography

bewdley-underarches, originally uploaded by Jane2020.

I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. I tend to hit the wall, energy-wise, at around 3pm most days, when I could happily crawl into bed for an hour or two, if only work and children would allow me such a wonderful luxury.
But with or without my “old lady’s nap” I come scarily alive come nightfall. I am literally wackaday wideawake, and often just as irritating as Timmy Mallett, particularly when everyone around me is winding down.
In the good old days BK (before kids) this second wind resulted in lots of late night drinking and musing on the state of the nation and how to dispose of Thatcher Thatcher Milk Snatcher, while listening to Patti Smith, Kevin Coyne, The Wedding Present, The Smiths and Otis. Nowadays, I tend to use this time to catch up on the ironing.
But last Thursday I joined some new chums on my Recreational Photography course on a night visit to Bewdley, a beautiful little town on the River Severn, just three miles away from my hometown of Kidderminster.
After some false starts, I discovered how wonderfully illuminating photos taken at night can be.
While I find my daytime photos tend to strike a discordant note when compared to my memories of the moment – the skies are never quite blue enough, the detail not deep enough – I discovered that night photography reveals hidden depths, hidden details and hidden secrets that I hadn’t noticed at the time.
This picture was one of my last of the night. I had sneaked away from the rest of the group on the riverbank opposite Southside, a beautiful row of townhouses skirting the water’s edge. On my travels I discovered a steep set of uneven steps leading right into the brown, mysterious water. Perched on my bottom on the penultimate step, I took this image. My tripod was lopsided and I hadn’t been able to get my remote to work so had to press the button to take this picture, so I know it could be sharper. At the time the reflection of the bridge was somewhat muted and barely noticeable, yet when I got home it came magically alive. I plan to pop back one night to try again.
I have been musing on my photography adventures so far with some disappointment. I don’t feel that I have progressed sufficiently. But then I remember that I have spent very little time actively seeking out photographic opportunities. Until starting this short college course, I had only once gone out purely to take photos – the rest of my pix have come about during day trips or family holidays. So I have now resolved to spend at least an evening or morning a week taking photos – and this blog is a good way for me to keep my promise to myself. It will be interesting to see how long I last. I tend to be a bit flaky when it comes to sticking at things…