Archive for February, 2012

Dyrffyn Gardens with Nikon D300 and 60mm Macro

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by yammerman

The last trip having been such a success and with the sun still shinning, it was decided a trip to Dyrffyn Gardens might be just the ticket, though on this occasion we didn’t need tickets as it was free entry to celebrate the approach of St David’s Day on 1st March.

There has been a manor house at Dyrffyn  since the 17th century but the gardens seemed to have been created in the early 20th century by landscape architect Thomas Mawson for the then owner John Corey.  The house appears to be being restored but we’ve never been inside, content as we are, to walk around the rather splendid horticultural magnificence on offer.  I wasn’t expecting much, it being so early in the year but decided to take Nikon D300 with one of my favourite lenses the Nikon 60mm Macro.

We also took in the delights of Barry on the way, as we understood on the last Sunday of every month the Vale of Glamorgan Council dispense any excess wood that has been felled in the previous month.  It was the devil’s own job to find, as the council’s Google dot that represented the depot, was a good half a mile from its actual location. It was at this point that driving round aimlessly following your nose proved a winning formula when quite by chance we happened on our nirvana.

If it all sounds too good to be true that the council might be distributing free logs you can be assured that they are not.  A pile of broken branches and a mound of wood chippings with half a dozen souls like our good selves scrabbling for ‘the good stuff’ was all we discovered. The ‘good stuff’ was conspicuous by its absence. Still we secured a few branches for kindling and I laboured to fill a garden sack with wood chippings, hardly cursing at all.

On then to the gardens and a pleasant time was spent wandering around in the morning sunshine. I’d set the D300 to Vivid in the hope of finding some punchy colour and wasn’t disappointed. A swift Dandelion and Burdock to drink in the café with a Welsh harpist providing a tinkling soundtrack to our consumption of  a fine carrot cake. It was  then back home for some  afternoon sporting action on TV watching Spurs being trounced by Arsenal and then Cardiff’s heroic’s in defeat to Liverpool concluded my  backing of losers for the weekend.

Here are the favoured shots tweaked in Lightroom  for your delight.

Across the Cardiff Barrage with a Fuji 690II

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by yammerman

It was a beautiful Saturday in South Wales with the sun shinning brightly in a clear blue sky but it was still a surprise to hear my wife announce that perhaps a walk across the Cardiff Barrage was the order of the day.  The great outdoors has not been much on the agenda these winter weekends as we peered out at the grey clouds scudding by; we are more likely to be found slumped on the sofa, clad in our dressing gowns, exercise obtained by busy fingers flicking around the TV remote. Still we hadn’t visited the barrage for a while and I imagined some pleasure could be had ruminating around with my Fuji 690II, with the technological marvel that holds back the rivers  Ely and Taff  as a back drop. The day was young and there seemed plenty of time before the finest rugby players of England and Wales would do battle. A walk could be easily fitted in.

The word that I had not fully registered in my wife’s mention of a walk was ‘across’ as normally we wander ‘on’ the barrage and then when the moans of our delightful child become too much, turn back. The subtlety of language is a beautiful thing especially when used by a loved one to not entirely communicate their full meaning. So as I lined up my first shots through the view finder I was surprised to see said wife and child disappearing into the distance with a distinct sense of purpose. So upping my game I whipped off a few quick shots of the machinery of water flow and set off in pursuit.

I caught up with the advanced party about half way across, where the authorities sensing a place for a natural break or possibly a turning point have sited some sand based amusements for younger children and a skate park for teenagers. I arrived to overhear discussions of ice-creams which seemed a fine idea though I realised these were being not offered as a present pleasure but a future inducement to move on further across the barrage. It was at this point that I began to understand that communication about the true nature of our walk was to be released on a ‘need to know basis’ and we had at last reached the point that my son and I ‘needed to know’.

So where does the barrage go across to, well that would be Cardiff Bay where amongst the Welsh Assembly buildings, bars and restaurants there are a few shops one of which is (insert sound of man slapping his forehead) a woman’s clothes shop. The penny dropped, the ducks formed a row and all became clear. This, it appeared, was our true purpose and destiny, as I peered across the water into the far distance I checked the time, realising that kick off in the match of the day was approaching at some speed. I have lived with my wife long enough to know that the matter was not up for discussion and barking ‘Double-time ‘ at my son the party set off once more. If only the world’s tourist boards had thought to site a retail outlet in Antarctica or the Gobi desert or even possibly the Moon, I may yet have ticked them off  my list of places visited.

We moved on at a reasonable pace while I still attempted to shoot in medium format with a clock ticking in my head. It did not take us that long in truth and I’m sure we’re all that much fitter because of it.  Some more pacing up and down outside the shop while my wife successfully made her purchases  was followed by a quick ice cream break and a swift return back across (oh yeah I’m all over the word now) barrage. In fact we made it back in plenty of time to see England narrowly defeated by Wales, all the better for some good old fresh air.  So let the health giving benefits of a shopping trip never be under estimated.

Below are my snaps of the expedition where I quickly realised I had the wrong camera for the occasion but nonetheless it was a pleasure to see them emerge from the development tank. Shot with Ilford Fp4+ and processed for 12mins @ 20 degrees in Rodinal which is 20% less than the Massive Dev recommendations but Ilford’s films always seem to need a lot less in my particular environment. The dust Gods were not too unkind as I scanned them so here you have ten of the shots I took. They are Antique Greyscale toned in Lightroom. Not too bad for a man on the move.

Ordering the Chaos with a Bessa R2a and Canon 50mm LTM.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2012 by yammerman

I went for another wander in the environs of Chidam armed with my Bessa  R2a (which has mysteriously started working again) and the Canon 50mm F1.4 LTM. It was late afternoon and I wandered alone as the sun sank in the west. A roll of Hp5+ was followed by Rollei 400s which gave me about 50 shots. I processed the two films in Rodinal; Hp5 needs less time than the Massive Dev chart states and Rollei 400s needs exactly what it says.   I scanned and loaded them into Lightroom and selected those with which I was most pleased.

It is at this point my ruminations began, as once more it was the shots where I had control of the frame that appealed to me most. They are the details and patterns, mostly small pieces of the world. I vaguely remember reading that this kind of photography is the photographer trying to bring order to a chaotic world and I’m not adverse to that view.

A friend of mine once wrote a line that went ‘Everything I see, I see with a camera’  and it has come back to haunt me in the years since I have taken up photography. Before I did photographic courses, I took mostly snaps just recording the passage of life. The only time I used a camera extensively  was on a year long trip to Australia and it was there I can see I started to try and record small details. It was 10 years later when being taught photography that I became aware how drawn I was to shoot like this when left to my own devices.

What had been an instinctive thing was distilled by the intensity of being taught something new. The way I saw the world actually changed by looking at it through a viewfinder.  Everything I saw, I did indeed see with a camera. Now I walk around even without a camera thinking details, frames, light, shade and patterns.  I don’t think it’ll ever go away now as what could be better than a pattern of bricks, a fence or an old drain cover.

And have I succeeded in bringing order to a chaotic world?  Well, judging by the news these days  that seems to have been a spectacular failure but what else is there to do but keep on trying.