More uploads…

Made some more uploads to my large format gallery page today. Check them out!


Botanicals Edit

A set-by-step process through the various stages of post-processing that the majority of my D800E colour images go through. (more…)

The many ways of skinning a black and white cat (aka digitizing a 5×4 negative)

Backlit Botanicals 2

The latest in the ‘Traces of Botany’ Album series, “explored” today on Flickr.

What I really like about these images is that the polythene seems to “press” the leaves as if in a herbarium, except that it doesn’t prevent the decay, though the moisture of the condensation appears to slow it down. The photograph captures a moment in this process.

Shot with D800E and 85PC-E.  It’s taken me a while to process this shot (or rather shots, since it’s a stitch of 2 vertical frames, to allow a wider view close-up, esp. since I don’t have a normal DSLR lens apart from the 60 micro).  I wondered about entirely removing the detritus – all the black specks – but chose not to in the end: I did do a little bit of retouching, especially around the edges of the frame, but nothing too drastic.  I felt – I think rightly – that the detritus is part of the point, part of the balance between beauty and decay which is essential to the success of these shots and fundamental to their character.  I may, if I have time, do a post on how I went about the processing for this from the raw files to the output.  With a flat RAW file from the D800E, I find there’s a lot of proccessing to do to get it to feel right, especially now that I have got used to comparing my digital output against what large-format film can achieve.

When the time and lighting are right, I MUST shoot these on large format!!



Wildlife Crime

The origins of this blog were based in macro photography: European orchids, and butterflies in particular.  Three years ago I posted a blog entry celebrating my first UK sightings of the Large Blue (Maculinea arion), at the location of one of its reintroductions:


It is dismaying that this site is in the UK news today because of the criminal activities of a butterfly collector:


Will these people never learn?

Leave the countryside and its inhabitants alone, for everyone to enjoy, will you please??



“What happen to the Linhof Technikardan?! “

A couple of days ago, I received the above comment on a photograph I posted on flickr of Castle Stalker, Scotland, during my November trip to Glencoe:


This is the first slightly off-beam comment I’ve seemingly received on flickr since I ramped up my prominence on the site last year, and I think it’s worth critiquing.  My original response to the comment was: “Nothing! For this shot, handheld from the side of the road on a drive elsewhere… can’t do that with a Linhof, with all the will in the world.”      The shot was, of course, taken on digital, with Nikon D800E and 70-200f4, shot handheld or at least resting on a roadside fencepost, during a brief stop while I was driving elsewhere.

I’m not entirely certain what the comment (and its use of expressive but actually opaque punctuation) was getting at, but what strikes me is that the comment was made about the (non-)use of large-format film for such a shot, and it seems that the original commentator is a film-shooter.

This is somewhat perplexing: I’m all for the continued use of film, and can view my use of the Linhof camera over the last year and a bit in only extremely positive ways, both for the creativity it has allowed me and for the more general affect it has had on my photography.  But here’s the rub: at  no point have I ever stated that I would ever give up digital entirely, and there are a whole host of shots that I can make digitally – including the image above – that I couldn’t even begin to contemplate with film.  Using film has improved my photographic creativity by making me more self-aware of the medium itself, and this is a great thing in general terms.  But I’m not in favour of, and do not countenance, the idea that ‘film’ is something akin to a ‘calling’.  It may be for some, but not for me: it’s a creative choice, with its own limitations, in the same way, conversely, as digital.  A resolution for 2017 was – of course – to expose more film, and I will continue to strive to do so.  But I will also continue to shoot digitally alongside it, creatively and complementarily.

For more discussion of this general issue, see the recent videos on Youtube by Matt Day and Eric Wahlstrom:

Water Abstracts at Daeda’s Wood


Here are the results of a trip to a local Woodland Trust site: Daeda’s Wood, near Deddington, Oxfordshire. It’s a young plantation of mostly willow and poplar, with a small river (the Swere) meandering along one side. Since the woodland isn’t mature, there are few opportunities for traditional landscape work, but the river and its overhanging trees provided good opportunities for abstract work of the water surface, using tilt with my 85PC-E to level the focal plane onto the surface of the water. (more…)

Traces of Botany

As featured recently in OnLandscape Magazine (4×4 Subscribers’ Portfolios).

The four images presented here are part of a growing series interpreting and evaluating my emotional connection and reaction to horticultural decay:

images of the relation between botanicals and the glass (or polythene) that controls, contains, or restrains them;

images reflecting my connection with, but also separation from, my ‘roots’.

These images seek out redemptive beauty in decay and the passage of time – the three shots beyond the Kew image that inspired them are details from my parents’ ageing Derbyshire horticultural business.

These images are also the beginnings of an (initially unintentional) response to my first year of shooting more self-consciously through glass with a 5×4 view camera and film. The Kew image was shot on 5×4 Ektar 100, while the others were with a Nikon D800E and 85mm tilt-shift.

Kew Waterlilly House Ektar

Kew Waterlily House Ektar

Backlit Botanicals

Backlit Botanicals

Backlit Botanicals Detail

Backlit Botanicals Detail

Hokusai Glass

Hokusai Glass

New Gallery Page

A quick note to say that I’ve created a dedicated Gallery page for my best shots on large format film, here.

Clicking on an individual image will take you into the slideshow, with technical details provided at bottom left.

All images processed by Peak Imaging, and scanned at home with a basic but very effective DSLR macro setup (D800E generally at 60mm, with four shots stitched in CS6, providing a basic file with long dimensions of about 9000 pixels, depending on how much overlap I dial in).



Porth Meudwy 

A couple of trips to North Wales – and in particular the Aberdaron area at the very tip of the Lleyn peninsula- in the last few months reminded me of its photographic potential – though I hadn’t visited in over 20 years it was all very familiar after childhood holidays every year.  It’s a four hour drive each way from home, and while I’ve done this a couple of times, it requires a 4am start and you’re also limited by tide times for coastal shots.    On this latest visit I decided to bring camping gear , and wild camp in the National Trust car park at Porth Meudwy.  On this occasion I stayed for two nights; I wouldn’t do this here in summer, when things are very busy with holidays, but it’s quiet out of season.  I put a significant investment into decent gear in preparation for a week in Glencoe last autumn, and while the kit I have is bulky overkill for one, I rest assured that it will withstand extremely bad conditions and will have enough room should my son come with me in future.  Here’s what I have:


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