A Greenwich Single Click

We visited the Cutty Sark in the morning and then huffed and puffed up the hill to the Royal Observatory in the afternoon. The Royal Observatory is a cool place, but visually the thing that attracted my on this historical site was the protrusion of the 45-ton bronze-clad truncated cone of the Peter Harrison Planetarium through the court yard between the Astronomy Centre and the Altazimuth Pavilion (shown in the following photo).

I took several shots of this feature from several angles, but the one I liked the best was taken from the opposite side shown in the photo above.  Standing close up, the effect was very reminiscent of  2001: A Space Odessy.  I liked the tactile roughness of the bronze exterior, along with the vertical seam, against the brilliant blue and white of the sky.  I later learned the planetarium is oriented toward Polaris.

This photo is a straight forward single click. The only thing I did in-camera was to set my EV to -1 to help capture some of the richness of color in the sky.  In post-processing I added a little contrast and some structure to emphasize the texture and feel of the bronze surface. I considered cropping the image to a more square format, but it lost much of its drama when the darker foreground was removed.

I hope you enjoy it.

Handheld HDR – the Cutty Sark

Although I took my tripod with me on the trip, I only got to use it at a couple of places; Abingdon, and Bibury.  Every place else, we were pretty much in tourist mode and on the run, so all my shots had to be handheld, including multi-exposure HDRs and panoramas. The shot in this post is a hand held 5-shot HDR of the Cutty Sark clipper ship in its newly renovated dry dock/display.

The new Cutty Sark display is unique because the bottom of the dry dock has been opened up with displays and a tea shop.  This is possible because the supports that would normally be under the ship’s keel and pressed against the hull’s exterior have been attached to the ship’s wrought iron frame at the waterline, thereby suspending the ship opening up there area below the hull to visitors. It provides an awesome view.

This shot consists of five images, and it is the first of many handheld HDRs I took on the trip.  I sat myself down in front of the hull, looking up, with my back against the base of a display of figureheads, and my arms resting on my knees.  I used my 16-35mm wide angle zoom, and set the vibration redution feature to ON. As the inidividual images were written to the flash card, I was able to watch the camera’s LCD and was assured that I would have pretty good registration across the images in the HDR software. After that, all I did in post-processing was to add a little contrast overall, and some brightness to the upper keel to pull the eye in from the brighter edges.

I hope you enjoy this photo.

Posted in HDR

“Chocolate Box” Photos …

Before going to England, I did some web searching to find places of photographic interest in the vicinity of Cirencester in the Cotswolds.  Running across the web site of the Cirencester Camera Club, I sent an enquiry via their comment form, asking for suggestions and whether anyone would be interested in going out on a morning photo expedition.  I got a reply from the club president, Syd Mathews, so that on the Friday morning I was in Cirencester, Syd, John Hanlin, and I went to Bibury, a location that has been called “the most beautiful village in England”.  The picturesque Arlington Row cottages that I show in this post were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store, and were converted into a row of weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. Arlington Row is probably one of the most photographed Cotswolds scenes, what Syd and John termed as a “Chocolate Box” scene.

The three of us did not get to Bibury until nearly 9am, meaning the sun was relatively high in a cloudless sky and the shadows were very harsh.  The only way around the extreme lighting was to shoot an HDR series to capture detail in both the highlights and the shadows. Not being able to spend much time with the subject before the light got even worse, I also decided to shoot a panorama in order capture the whole scene. The following image shows the almost the entire length of Arlington Row. It consists of four separate HDR images that were then stiched together in Adobe Bridge.

As the first of the tourists began to show up to get their snapshots, the three of us adjourned to shoot at the abandoned Thames and Severn Canal for a while, and then Syd and I took off for a cup of coffee.  It was very nice to be able to hook up with folks like Syd and John who share your interests, and I am very grateful for their hospitality and warmth.  But … the Bibury story does not stop there.

The next morning, I made another run to Bibury on my own.  I left at 6am, hoping to get the early monring light.  What I got was fog.

Both of the following images are stitched panaoramas. The first image was taken at the western end of Arlington Row, looking back down on the scene I had taken the day before from the other end.

This final image came from approximately the same location as the shot I had taken the day before, but this time I decided the foggy scene would look best in black and white.

I hope you enjoy these images.