February blues

Tree reflected in car

Another uninspiring, grey, wet February day, but I just had to go out.  I needed to get out of the house, I needed to take some pictures, and I needed some daylight and fresh air.  To be honest, my mind wasn’t in the right place and I didn’t see much to get me going.  I knew there’d be some coloured reflections in puddles – always a favourite – and there were.  But not much else.  I felt a bit like the statue in the last image, shaking my fist at the greyness of the day.

Colour reflection in puddle

Light, glass and trees

Red puddle

Wet day with statue and lights

Soft autumn

Soft autumn 2

This is another little photographic experiment. I got in the car one rainy day and thought the trees and shrubs looked rather interesting through the raindrops on the windscreen. – it was what the Irish call a ‘soft’ day, with a kind of grey drizzle and flat light.  I spent half an hour driving round the – thankfully – empty car park, taking shots through the glass.  I’m not sure how it looked to the CCTV cameras.

I like some of the results although it was hard to get it looking the way I visualised it, especially as my viewpoint was constrained by being in the driver’s seat and having to maneouvre the car into position to get the view I wanted.  These are the three best ones.  I don’t think I’m quite there yet with this, but I’ve stored it up as something to experiment with on wet days – and I’m sure there’ll be some of those soon.


Soft autumn 3

Soft autumn 1



Fallen – again

Green and red

Some of you might remember I’ve been working on a project I call ‘Fallen’ – you can view some previous shots here.  There’s something about these that still intrigues me, although I’d find it hard to put my finger on why, and I keep taking new ones wherever I go.  I’m amassing quite a collection now.  During last week’s London workshop I found myself taking even more, and I found some shots with blue and red markings next to the leaves that I rather liked.  Although there are still some squared-off shots here  – in line with what I’ve done before – I found that many of these recent shots seem to be developing a diagnonal slant now.  Again, I’m not sure why – they just presented themselves to me that way.  I could really have done with using a polariser to get rid of some of the glare from the water but I didn’t have one with me, and in some ways I think the glare gives a better feel for what kind of day it was – very bright, but very wet.

I may get tired of these eventually, but I’m showing no signs of stopping yet.  It may be that they keep evolving in terms of composition and other elements, and I’m interested to see where I end up with them.  I don’t go out looking for these – I almost always see them while in the throes of shooting other things and it was a happy accident that they’ve turned into a series.

One of the suggestions from the tutor leading our critique session at the Leeds study weekend, was that I could use these for my seasonal portfolio when I put my work in for assessment.  (As part of the Landscape course we have to put together a portfolio of three images each that depict each season.)  Unfortunately I hadn’t thought of this and now don’t have time to get enough images together to make up the full portfolio in this way, but I’m thinking that I might include one ‘Fallen’ picture for each of the seasons.  Naturally, they would have to be different from the ones I used for Assignment 3 but I’ve got so many now that that shouldn’t be a problem.  The difficult bit is differentiating between spring and summer, and autumn and winter.  These look quite autumnal, but in fact we’re not quite into autumn yet and it was just a miserable September day with the leaves being blown off the trees by strong winds.  Frost or snow would offer the obvious solution to the winter problem – I might have to wait a while.  The way the weather’s going I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them happen quite soon………….

Blue line and leaf

Kerb and leaf

Orange and green

Blue line and leaf 2



Leaf and draincover

London rain

Umbrellas outside the Bank of EnglandPeople queueing to see inside the Bank of England building, OpenHouseLondon, 2012

London never fails to inspire me. It’s a tiresome place in many ways – the hassle and time involved in getting around it, the uncomfortable humidity of the tube system that slaps you in the face like a hot wet blanket, the carrying of a heavy bag up endless stairs, the crowds of people so wrapped up in their own worlds that they don’t even see you as they push past, the expense of it all – but despite that I love the visual stimulation it offers.  I’ve found nowhere round here that affects me in the same way.

The occasion this time was my first workshop for Hairy Goat in nearly a year. It felt good to be out there again, teaching, helping, feeling as if I had a purpose, and of course, bringing in a little income too.  I was a bit rusty – my explanations weren’t as polished as they could have been, the cameras were new models that I hadn’t seen before and had to figure out how to work, and I felt at times that I was dredging knowledge up from the sticky, muddy depths of my memory – but I think it went well, considering, and everyone seemed happy enough.

They turned out to be a very self-sufficient group and didn’t need much at all in the way of help when we went photo-walking, so I got a lot of opportunity to take pictures.  It was a wet day – a very wet day – but rain can be a gift sometimes and the shots I got owe everything to it.  It always interests me to see how students respond when the weather is bad.  You can see that some of them would rather be somewhere else – anywhere else that was warm and dry – and some of them stoicly soldier on but without really having their hearts in it.   But the ones I always think of as the true photographers get so excited by what they’re seeing that they forget they’re getting wet and cold, and are so absorbed in their photography that they barely notice it.  You just know that they will be the ones that will go on to produce really good work.

I took a lot of pictures and they’ve fallen quite naturally into several different themes. I’m going to start with buildings and people, although these aren’t the shots I’m happiest with.  I also have some great reflection shots, some more to add to my Fallen series, and some involving red parking lines, all of which I’m very chuffed about.   I made myself process these ones first because there were fewer of them to get through, but the others are on their way………

Yellow umbrella, Royal Exhange Square, London

Bank Tube station, London

Phoebe, camera workshop

Wet day, London

Corinna, Beginners workshop, September 2012

A rainy night in London, part 2

Royal Exchange

I got so excited with my wet night photography that I took loads of photos, so this is the second instalment.  (If you missed the first one, look here)  We moved on to the Royal Exchange, which was floodlit with the most astonishing reds and pinks, but I have to admit that these photos are very noisy indeed (please Santa, can I have a camera that goes up to ISO 12,800+ and manages noise beautifully?  instead of the one I have, which becomes unusable at ISO 1200?  not this year?  I’ve been very good this year, you know……..)

Royal Exchange pillars

Royal Exchange pillars 2


I love that foot that crept in at the bottom left corner; I didn’t know it was there till I got this up on screen.

At the bottom of these pillars there are mirrored boxes that reflect the surroundings.  It made for an intriguing image, but I have to say the resulting photos were so horrendously noisy I nearly threw them away.  Eventually I settled for making a separate layer and blurring it to get rid of some noise, and then erasing the part of it that had the reflected image so that it was left sharp (as always, I use this term loosely).  I don’t think it works very well, but it’s better than before – honest.


We moved on after this, shooting anything that looked interesting, and ending up at the Lloyd’s Building.  The shot below looks so timeless it could have been the London of Dickens; the only thing that gives it away is that it looks so clean.

Dickensian scene

Through the glass

Christmas trees

Lloyd's building at night

Rainy night 2

Lloyd's building lifts abstract

Just to contrast nicely with the Royal Exchange lighting, the Lloyd’s Building was floodlit in blues and greens.  The image above is of the glass lifts that go up the outside of the building.  Far more blurred than it was meant to be, but I like the resulting abstract.

I had such a lot of fun with this that I want to do more; I’m amazed how many of these came out despite my noisy, hand-held camera.  Bring on the rain……….  (I don’t totally mean that.)

A rainy night in London town

Puddle jumping

I was teaching in London again yesterday and afterwards met up with Corinna, who’s both my good friend and my employer.  She took a rare few hours off to share lunch, drinks and a long, long catch-up chat.  London pubs in the late afternoon in the run-up to Christmas tend to be very busy, noisy places; this one was no exception, especially when a large group of elderly men gathered next to us and produced a decibel level that was hard to believe possible.  When we found we were trying to lip-read each other because there was no other way to communicate, we thought we’d better get out of there and go somewhere more peaceful for a coffee.  But, hey…..when we got outside it was raining heavily and the coloured reflections and lights were to die for.  So instead of the coffee, we spent an excited hour or so in the rain with our cameras.

I’m astonished that I’ve got as many usable shots as I have. My camera doesn’t handle noise well, so I try not to put the ISO over 800.  I was forced to go up to 1600 this time, but even that wasn’t really enough to get a fast enough shutter speed and I had to use the widest possible aperture, so my depth of field wasn’t great either.  Add in the fact that I was handholding at shutter speeds of around 1/6 to 1/4 of a second and it’s hard to believe I didn’t have to chuck the whole lot of them out.  But I think these are the kind of shots where a little bit of noise or blur doesn’t matter too much and I think they capture the atmosphere pretty well.

Isn’t it amazing, we said as we headed for home, that when you take up photography rain suddenly becomes a thing of beauty instead of something to be avoided?

Rush hour in the rain

Wet pavement 4

Wet pavement 3


Wet pavement 2



Wet pavement

Window shopping