Brian A Keen Fine Art

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This web site was first created in 2004 as a showcase for my two main hobbies: photography and painting.

As well as containing galleries to display my work, there are monthly news pages. These serve as a 'blog' containing day-to-day ramblings about my photography and painting. The news pages also describe any major updates to the web site.

There are pages containing information about my photography tools and techniques. Technical details about the web site construction and the underlying database are also included for anyone who might be interested.

The web site is continually evolving and improving as I learn more about web design and attempt to conform to the ever-changing design standards. I am not a professional web designer, so I hope you will forgive technical or spelling errors etc. I would rather spend my time taking photographs or painting than spend hours creating a technically perfect web site that works on all browsers and platforms. The pages are often checked using the W3C Markup Validation Service. There are too many browsers out there to check them all but I do try and verify that the pages are rendered correctly on the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox running with a display resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

I deliberately keep most of the images uploaded to the website small (usually only 400 pixels or less on the longest side). This reduces storage requirements, upload and download times and helps prevent unauthorised copying for commercial use.

I hope you enjoy my pictures. The galleries are frequently updated as more images are added, so do come back and see what's new.


Photo Gallery Slideshow

A selection of colour photographs from the galleries.

News - 2016

Monthly Photography, Painting and Website news for the year.

Photos of The Year

A selection of personal favorite photographs for the year with larger image sizes. (click the thumbnails below to enlarge).

News: Feb 2016

Painting News

The weather in late Jan / early Feb has been mostly cold, grey, damp and dull. Instead of venturing out with my camera, I spent my spare time working on a new oil painting. It is based on a painting by one of my favorite sea and sailing ship artists: Charles Vickery.

The painting is 16" x 12" on canvas board. I prefer to paint on larger size stretched canvas, but I inherited a number of smaller oil boards so decided to use one of them.

Painting the movement and reflections of waves, sea and surf is a challenge, but I'm reasonably happy the result. The clouds need a bit more work: Some additional shadow will hopefully make them appear more three dimensional.

I used quick drying Alkyd Oil Paints. These still need to dry for several weeks before the finished painting can be varnished.

Photography News
Woolstone Church (Sun 14th Feb).

A split toned monochrome photograph of the Holy Trinity Church in Woolstone. This was shot handheld.

This viewpoint is about the only one that gives a reasonable composition without the foreground trees obscuring the view.

Woolstone Church
Oak Tree (Sun 14th Feb).

A split toned monochrome HDR image of the Oak Tree at Woughton.

The image is really about the sky and clouds. The tree is just there as a focal point for the composition.

HDR was needed to handle the large contrast range. It prevents complete burnout of the bright sun and stops the tree from becoming a totally black silhouette.

Unlike most of my other recent images of this tree, this was not shot at dawn. It was actually taken in the middle of the afternoon.

Oak Tree
Sunrise (Tue 16th Feb).

Another nice image of the Oak Tree at sunrise.

It was bitterly cold and the water was frozen. I really liked the soft pastel yellow, pink and blue colours in the sky.

Oak Tree
Sunrise (Wed 17th Feb).

This has to be most colourful image of the Oak Tree and sunrise I have managed to capture so far. The colour in the sky was amazing. It looked so unreal that I had to reduce the colour saturation during processing.

Oak Tree

I also took some shots of the sky reflections in the nearby pond. To my mind, this image is not quite as good as it used to be. Originally there used to be a group of three large Horse Chestnut trees reflected in the water. This made for a pleasing composition. Unfortunately the center tree fell down a couple of years ago.

Woughton Pond
D200 Battery Problems.

While attempting to capture a few more images before the sky colour disappeared, I experienced the same problem with my camera that I had last month. The camera stopped working and an 'Err' message was displayed.

I now believe the problem to be that the battery level indicator on the camera no longer acurately reflects the actual condition of the batteries. It means that when the battery power drops, it can give shutter and/or CF card write problems even though the battery indicator suggests the batteries are ok.

The problem is more likely to occur in cold temperatures and gets worse as the batteries age.

Cameras such as the D3X have a calibration function which allows the battery indicator to more accurately reflect the amount of power remaining.

Until I replace the batteries, I will have to ensure they are fully charged before I got out and not rely on the battery level indicator in the camera.

News: Jan 2016

Photography News

Another year rolls by. Images from 2015 have now been moved into the 'news archive' pages.

It's hard to believe it's 12 years since I first created this website.

Nikon D500.

After a 9 year wait, Nikon's replacement for the D200/D300/D300s has finally arrived. For some unknown reason they decided to name it the D500 rather than D400.

My initial impressions are that the introductory price of £1729 is expensive. For just £100 more you could buy a discounted D810 during the end of year sales. I expect the D500 price will come down after a few months.

The big advantages over the D7200 are the 'pro style' controls (similar to the D200) and the fast continuous shooting rate (10 FPS and a 79 frame buffer). As I am not into sports or action photography, continuous high speed shooting will be of limited use for me. I hardly ever use high speed continuous shooting (Ch mode) on my D200.

The lack of an in built flash is a disappointment. I don't use flash often on the D200 but there are times when it can be useful.

The tilting screen from the D750 is a great feature. Having used the flip screen on the Canon G11 for some time, I know how useful it can be.

I believe that like Nikon's latest FX cameras, the D500 has a virtual horizon. I often use a hot shoe spirit level on the D200, so this will be a welcome addition. However, if it's the same as the FX implementation, the viewfinder tilt indicators are not easily visible when the subject is dark.

Video and Live View were not available on the D200. These will be useful new features.

The 10 Pin connector and PC flash sync socket have been retained. This is a good thing. It makes me wonder why these were removed on the D750. A consistent interface makes it easier to use existing accessories.

The ISO and MODE button positions have been moved. I would prefer it if they tried to keep the user interface as consistent as possible between different camera models.

The new 20.9 MPix sensor is an unknown quantity. For me, dynamic range is an important factor. Having double the number of pixels compared to the D200 will be good. The 24MPix sensor used on the D7200 has excellent dynamic range.

The D200 sensor was never very good at low light levels: Noise becomes apparent at ISO 400. I would expect this to be much better on the D500. It will be interesting to compare the two when DxOMARK eventually carry out the tests.

Lack of built in RAW support in Photoshop CS6 for new cameras like the D500 will be an issue for me. I don't want to upgrade to the subscription version Photoshop CC. The alternative would mean converting new NEF files to DNG using separate utility software.

I still use Photoshop CS6. As I still use Windows XP, CS6 does not support RAW files from recent Nikon DSLRs such as the D7200, D750 and D810. The last RAW converter plugin supported by CS6 is 9.1.1. Camera RAW 9.1.1 does support the above cameras (but not the new D500). The problem is that the software requires Windows 7 or later to install and run. Camera RAW 8.3 is the last version that will operate with Windows XP. Hence I will need to buy a new PC running Windows 7 (or Windows 10) when I upgrade my D200.

Oak Tree (Wed 13th Jan).

An HDR image of an Oak Tree at sunrise reflected in the water at the Ouzel Valley Park in Woughton On The Green.

Oak Tree

A non HDR version of the same scene. I placed a dead branch in the foreground to help the composition.

Oak Tree

I experienced a problem with my CF card while attempting to capture the sunrise images. This was an 8GB Sandisk card I had used a few times in the past.

I initially took a few shots without any problems, then the camera stopped working. It was displaying 'Err' on the top LCD panel. I couldn't see the actual error code as it was still quite dark.

When I tried to review the images on the card, I got the message 'File Does Not Contain Image Data'. At the time, I thought this meant I had lost all the images on the card.

The battery level looked ok. When I tried removing and refitting the battery, the 'Err' message was still displayed. I tried replacing the battery with my spare - it made no difference.

The CF card was nowhere near full. I tried re-seating the card but it made no difference.

Next I tried replacing the CF card with another but the 'Err' message was still displayed. The only thing that cleared the fault was when I reformatted the second CF card.

By now the colour in the sky had started to fade. I took a few more shots using the second CF card and went back home to try and figure out what went wrong.

The camera was set to 'auto exposure bracketing' mode at the time with 3 exposures per shot (0, -1 stop, +1 stop). The exposure mode was set to 'continuous low speed shooting' (Cl). This is the set up I usually use for HDR.

When I got home, I put the first CF card back in the camera. All the images were there, apart from two of the bracketed exposures for the last image: The first two shots (0, -1 stop) for the last image were missing. Upon examining the files on my computer using a card reader, the file before last indicated a size of zero. Luckily the +1 stop image was still usable.

I assume there must have been an error during a flash write operation - maybe an intermittent battery or CF contact. It's possible CF card itself has developed a fault.

Oak Tree Revisited (Fri 15th Jan).

Another early morning start (6:30am) and another attempt to photograph the oak tree at sunrise at Woughton. Although the clouds looked promising, they were too low in the sky and didn't show much colour as the sun came up.

A sharp overnight frost meant that this time the water in the puddle in the foreground was completely frozen over.

The dead branch I had placed in the puddle earlier in the week was still there. I think it improves the composition by providing a lead-in for the eye.

These images were taken well before the sun appeared over the horizon. It was still quite dark and required exposure times of several seconds. Exposure bracketing and HDR processing were used to handle the contrast range.

An annoying speck of sensor dust appeared in the sky area of many of the images. The Photoshop spot healing brush made a good job of removing it.

Oak Tree Oak Tree
Snow (Sun 17th Jan).

The first snowfall of the winter. The sky remained grey and bland throughout the day, so it was difficult to make good photographs.

Oak Tree Holy Trinity
Early Morning Frost (Tue 19th and Wed 20th Jan).

More sharp overnight frosts. The temperature remained close to zero during the daylight hours.

I made some more attempts to photograph the sunrise. As before, I used the oak tree and pond at Woughton as a foreground.

It's almost impossible to predict how the sky will look as dawn approaches. You just have to make the effort to get up early and be in the right position at the right time just in case.

The cloud patterns looked interesting on Tuesday, although I was hoping for more colour in the sky.

Oak Tree Woughton Pond Oak Tree Oak Tree

After the sun had risen I photographed a few abstract ice patterns in frozen puddles using my macro lens.

Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns
Barges (Wed 20th Jan).

A row of barges moored on the frozen Grand Union Canal.

Sunrise (Mon 25th Jan).

Another attempt to catch the sunrise at Woughton.

There was just enough high cloud to give a bit more colour in the sky. The weather had warmed slightly so this time there was no ice which meant better reflections in the water.

These are both three exposure (-1,0,+1) HDR images. I had to be careful to avoid the flocks of birds flying from their overnight roosts during the exposures.

Oak Tree Oak Tree
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