Fonthill Castle

This past weekend, I was privileged to join a small group of photographers led by John Barclay, to photograph at Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, PA.  Fonthill Castle was built between 1908 and 1912 by William Henry Mercer.  Constructed mainly of reinforced concrete, Fonthill Castle is a wondrous assemblage of towers and turrets, and the entire interior is decorated with colorful tiles, some of which were made in Mercer’s own tile works.  Normally, interior photography is not allowed at Fonthill, but John has a strong working relationship with the people who manage and care for the castle, and they allow him to bring the periodic workshop group through to photograph in the morning before the regular daily tours begin.

I have included four of my images from this shoot.  All are HDR images, and the final one in this series is an HDR panorama of one of the great rooms on the second floor.



During the shoot, I mentioned to John that despite the colorful tiles thoughout, I saw much of what I was shooting as black and white images.  To that end, I made black and white conversions of almost all the shots I have processed from the shoot.  You can find them here. I am fairly pleased with them, but I feel I need to work on my black and white technique some more.  Look for some more black and white in the coming days as I am heading to Charleston, SC in the morning for a week of shooting with Tony Sweet.  I will post what I can from the week’s critique sessions.

Thanks for reading this post.  I hope you enjoyed it.









A Couple of Fall Shots

I love the fall, but I cannot seem to get hold of it photographically.  There is always so much bright color that I have a difficult time focusing in on a viable subject.  This year, though, I have managed to come up with a couple of images that are worth at least a web viewing, because I don’t think either of these will be printed.  The two shots in this post came from a couple of weekends ago, when I headed out to Shenandoah National Park and Dark Hollow Falls on Friday, and then went to the Abbot Wetland on Ft. Belvoir on Saturday.

The first shot was taken below the pool of the main falls at Dark Hollow.  Water was running, but not much, so I headed a little way down the trail and crossed the stream in order to get a view looking back up to the falls.  I made several uninspiring efforts when I turned around at saw this large rock and the backlit tree with bright, backlit leaves. Because of the extreme dynamic range, I shot it as a three image HDR.

This next image was made shortly after sunrise the next morning, at the Abbot Wetland near where I live.  The temperature had dropped overnight, and there was quite a bit of mist coming off the pond. I had been chasing the light ever since dawn, and this was about the last moment before the morning sun would have illuminated the entire pond with harsh direct light.  I was on my way back to the car when I spoted this tree with its foliage glowing from the sun rising on the left, but with its lower branches and the pond still in shade.

Handheld HDR #2

The following shot is another 5-shot handheld HDR.  It is a shot of the Victoria Tower at the south-west corner of the Palace of West Minster, with the Buxton Memorial Fountain in the foreground. The Buxton Memorial commemorates the members of parliament and the public who were instrumental in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834.

This was a free-standing handheld HDR, and to accomplish it, I had to go back to a technique I learned years ago when undergoing weapons training in the Army.  Back then, we were instructed to create a “spot weld” to our weapon by pressing our right thumb against our cheek bone while bringing the weapon to our shoulder and the site to our eye.  This time, I used my thumb to “hang” the camera from the boney protusion of my skull over my right eye.  This steadied the camera enough as I applied steady pressure to the shutter button through the 5 shot burst.  In post, I processed the HDR to be as realistic as possible, but I had to add a little contrast, saturation and structure as the HDR process flattened the scene somewhat.

I hope you enjoy it.

Posted in HDR