Thursday, November 14, 2013

A simple way to create a smooth B&W image

A quick tutorial on taking a fairly flat image and creating a smooth black and white from it using masks and gradients.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dorset Day 2 - Hide & seek in the New Forest

Woke up to the noise of rain sousing the window and I knew immediately, I was not going to get a sunrise shot. So after a leisurely breakfast we decided to take a trip to the New Forest, thinking either the weather might be slightly better inland, or perhaps the trees might offer us some flimsy protection from the deluge.

On the way there we stopped at Kingston Lacy, the two and a half mile avenue of grand beech trees that forms part of the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy Estate. It was planted in 1835 as a gift to his mother Frances by William John Bankes and was the main driveway to their house at Kingston Lacy. The avenue is now reaching the end of its natural life, as beeches only last around 200 years, plus these have had to contend with pollution from traffic on this busy road, so a number of mature trees are being felled each year for safety reasons.

The traffic was pretty much non-stop, so I used it to my advantage and tried to get some traffic trails going,
plus the light was very glum, which didn't show off the trees to their best advantage.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dorset Day 1 - Shameful behaviour under grey skies

Last week I took a quick sojourn down to Dorset, I hadn’t been there for quite a while so I was looking forward to getting some, hopefully, decent coastal shots. I was meeting my occasional photo chum, Sarah, down there for a couple of days of photography, before I returned home and she began one of her workshops. I drove down Wednesday evening without incident, save for an unfortunate happening in a car park in Poole.

I had stopped to answer the call of nature, well it was more of an uproar than a call, I had seriously misjudged my coffee intake vs journey time to a wild extent, so my concept of driving through in one go was tragically misguided. Anyway, after I’d made use of the facilities I was walking back towards the car, and noticed a big ol’ 4x4 (the type for chauffeuring sprogs about rather than off-roading) reversing out of its space not far away.

I walked behind it to get to my car, and as I was unlocking the door I noticed that it was getting closer and closer. Thinking that it was about to stop any moment, I got in, but as I was about to turn on the ignition it suddenly dawned on me that it was not about to stop at any moment at all, on the contrary, it was going to carry on at will.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Batsford Arboretum - A Potted History

Last weekend I took a trip to Batsford Arboretum to see what autumn colours were on display in this Cotswold cornucopia of flora. As it happens, not a great deal, autumn is running pretty late this year, but there were very strong winds predicted for the next couple of days, so I wanted to catch what there was before it all blew away.

It’s the first time I’d been to the arboretum at Batsford, despite it being no more than a 40 minute drive away, I’d always opted to go to slightly further afield to Westonbirt, its bigger, grander cousin. But despite Batsford’s modest 56 acres, it’s still one of the largest private tree collections in the country, and boasts quite an array of species, including the national collection of Japanese Flowering Cherry.

The place has quite an interesting history, as the site not only contains the arboretum but also includes Batsford House, a huge pile of Cotswold stone that is still in private ownership, namely to the 3rd Baron Dulverton, so unfortunately is out of bounds for visitors.

Batsford House