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 - 2014

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: Sep 2014

Website News
Photos Of The Year.

The 'Photos Of The Month' section has been re-organised and renamed 'Photos Of The Year'.

The old system did not allow for easy expansion as the number of images increased: To keep the number of thumbnail images in the horizontal scrolling region reasonably small, images from previous years had to be selectively dropped as new ones were added.

From now on, only selected thumbnail images for the current year will appear. Images from previous years have been moved into new 'Photos Of The Year' sections in the News Archive pages.

This change means the ability to access 'Photos Of The Month' images by title from the 'Galleries' pull down menu in the main header at the top the page is superfluous and has been removed.

New Gallery Categories.
  • 'Colour, Ships'
  • 'Colour, Victory Show'
  • 'Mono, Victory Show'
Photography News
The Victory Show (Cosby, Leics. Sun 7th Sep).

The Victory Show is a tribute to World War 2, held annually in a site near Cosby, Leics.

This year the event ran for 3 days (Fri 5th -> Sun 7th Sep).

Highlights of the show are the main WWII battle re-enactment and the flying displays of aircraft from the era.

The show also includes static displays of WWII aircraft, 1940's vehicles, heavy armour and tanks. There are also model remote controlled aircraft, fairground and Farming Machinery.

New Colour and Mono 'Victory Show' Gallery pages have been added to hold the images. Aircraft images from the show can be found in the existing 'Colour Aircraft' and 'Mono Aircraft' galleries.

Some colour and mono images from the flying displays and static aircraft.

P51 Mustang P51 Mustang Hurricane Spitfire Spitfire and Hurricane Spitfire Harvard Dakota Dakota Dakota Harvard Harvard Mitchell Biplane Pitts Special Spitfire Spitfire

A selection of colour images of military vehicles, enactors and static displays. Some of the images are tonemapped.

Tank Victory Show Ambulance_107_0019 Ambulance Victory Show Carousel Victory Show Victory Show

Mono and toned images from the static displays and enactors.

Tank Victory Show Ambulance Victory Show Spiv Citroen Victory Show Victory Show

More images to come...

Tall Ships Festival (Greenwich Tue 9th Sep).

We photographed the Tall Ships Festival 'Parade of Sail' event from the north side of the Thames using Greenwich College as a background. The main parade took place in the afternoon from around 13:30 to 15:00. We were shooting against the sun, so lens flare was a potential issue. The background buildings were in shadow and appeared somewhat dull. On the plus side, it did mean the ship's sails were sometimes backlit.

I mainly used my 17-55mm Nikon DX zoom lens set to f8 or f11 with a tripod. For the smaller ships, I switched to my 80-200mm zoom.

I used an ND4 (2 stop) Cokin graduated grey filter on many of the images to reduce the brightness of the sky. This meant I was unable to use a lens hood. Instead I used black card as a sun shade to prevent flare. I used a polarizing filter on some shots - although the effect was only slight.

Two or three boats chartered by press photographers decided to use the same viewpoint. Annoyingly, they were often in the way of photographers on the river bank.

As well as taking more conventional images, I tried stitching 3 separate images together to create a wide panorama.

Greenwich Panorama

A new gallery category 'Colour,Ships' has been added to hold the images.

Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships Tall Ships
Graffiti (Tues 9th Sep).

Some Graffiti images shot at the 'Buzy' near Milton Keynes rail station.

Graffiti Graffiti Graffiti
Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Aircraft' gallery
  • 'Mono, Aircraft' gallery
  • 'Colour, VictoryShow' gallery
  • 'Mono, VictoryShow' gallery
  • 'Colour, Ships' gallery
  • 'Colour, Graffiti' gallery

News: Aug 2014

Photography News
Rollei Infrared 400 film tests.

I bought 5 rolls of 120 Rollei Infrared 400 black and white film from Firstcall. This is now the only infrared film still available.

Rollei infrared 400

I have not used this particular film before so I decided to test the exposure and development requirements before using it on an important subject.

I waited for a sunny morning. I metered the subject using the Bronica's metered prism with no filter and the camera set to 400 ASA. This indicated 1/250 sec @ f11.5.

I then added 5 stops for the Hoya R72 filter. This gave 1/8 sec. In other words, the expected equivalent film speed including the filter was 12 ASA. I double checked the metering using my trusty Gossen Lunasix hand held light meter. I exposed 5 frames at f11.5 with decreasing shutter speeds: 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 sec.

To avoid wasting film, I removed the part used roll in the darkroom, cut the exposed section and developed it in ID11 stock for the recommended 6min at 20 degC.

Visual examination and scanning the negatives shows the optimum exposure to actually be closer to 1/4sec @ f11.5. i.e. around one stop more exposure than expected. This means either metering at 200 ASA without a filter and adding 5 stops for the filter or metering at 400 ASA and adding 6 stops. Either way, the equivalent film speed with filter is more like 6 ASA. When using infrared film I usually bracket at least +/- 1 stop (3 frames per image) as camera meters are not sensitive to infrared wavelengths.

The negative strip below shows four frames shot at 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 sec.

Rollei IR Test

There appears to be a slightly dark uneven band just visible on the right hand side of each of the frames in the flat tone area of the sky. I think it must be a processing issue: There are no signs of fogging around the outside of the frames. The most likely cause is that I did not fit the spiral retaining clip to the developing tank center column. The spiral may have slid up the column when the developer was drained. As I only used the minimum quantity (500ml) of stop bath, that would mean the top edge of the film would not have been fully immersed.

Grain appears quite fine - even with stock ID11. Rodinal is reported to give even better results.

Negative contrast appears fairly high so I adjusted the Silverfast curves during scanning. Reducing the stock development time from 6 min to around 5.5 min or using dilute developer may help.

MK Museum Forties Weekend (Sun 31st Aug).

I spent an enjoyable Sunday at the MK Museum Forties event. It was good value at only £7.50 for the whole day. The weather was ideal. Exhibits included cars, military vehicles and weapons.

In addition to the re-enactors (Home Guard, Winston Churchill, etc.), there appeared to be quite a few visitors wearing 1940s clothes and hairstyles from the era. Most were only too happy to pose for photographs.

The highlight of the day was a Lancaster fly past in the afternoon. Originally two Lancasters were expected but the Canadian aircraft was grounded with engine problems.

Images to come...

News: Jul 2014

Website News
New Gallery Categories.
  • 'Mono, Animals'
Photography News

Some macro shots of dragonflies and butterflies near the river Ouzel.

Damsel Fly Marbled White Damsel Fly Damsel Fly Red Darter Red Darter Red Darter Large Skipper Damsel Fly Dragonflies Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Red Darter Dragonfly
Wrest Park (Tues 8th Jul).

A return visit to Wrest Park. This time mainly to photograph the Bath House using infrared film and digital HDR. The sun was in the wrong position on my previous visit; it requires a morning shot.

The Bath House (digital HDR).

Bath House Bath House Bath House

The Bath House shot using Kodak HIE infrared 35mm film. This is an HDR image created from four scanned frames with 1 stop exposure difference between each. The resulting image was blue toned in photoshop.

Bath House

The monochrome infrared image looks quite surreal; it reminds me of illustration from a fairy tale book. I took it further by adding a fairy sitting on a toadstool using photoshop.

Bath House

The pavilion interior (HDR).

Pavillion Pavillion

The pa villi on exterior (HDR).

Pavillion Pavillion

The Chinese bridge (HDR).

Chinese Bridge

Interior stairway (HDR).

History Live, Kelmarsh, Northamptonshire (Sat 19th Jul).

A return visit to the English Heritage History Live event. Heavy showers during the morning meant that most photography was restricted to later in the afternoon.

Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh

Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh
Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh

A few images were converted to monochrome and sepia toned.

Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh Kelmarsh
Flowers and Insects.

Macro shots of a red rose and insects in the garden.

Red Rose Peacock DamselFly Fly Fly

Images from the Milton Keynes International Festival.

Indian Dancer Indian Dancer Indian Juggler Dreamers Dreamers Belly Dancer

I could not resist a portrait of this guy and his amazing clothes.

Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Macro Insects' gallery
  • 'Colour, Macro Flowers' gallery
  • 'Colour, Wrest Park' gallery
  • 'Infrared' gallery
  • 'Colour, Kelmarsh' gallery
  • 'Mono, Kelmarsh' gallery
  • 'Colour, Aircraft' gallery

News: Jun 2014

Website News
New Gallery Categories.

The photo galleries have been reorganised. Several new gallery categories have been created and some images re-classified and relocated.

New gallery categories:-

  • 'Colour, Linford Festival'
  • 'Colour, Motor Vehicles'
  • 'Mono, Motor Vehicles'
  • 'Colour, Windmills'
  • 'Mono, Windmills'
  • 'Colour, Wrest Park'
  • 'Mono, Wrest Park'
  • 'Colour, Bluebells'
  • 'Colour, Abstract'
  • 'Colour, Togfest'
  • 'Mono, Abstract'
Photography News

June has been a busy month for photography. Consequently, I am struggling to keep the website up to date.

Willow seed and daisies.

In early June, wind blown willow seed sometimes falls like snow. The white carpet on the ground can make interesting macro images.

Daisies And Willow Seed
Stony Stratford Classic Car Festival (Sun 8th June).

The annual Classic Car Festival took place in Stony Stratford market square and high street on Sunday 8th June. I created new Mono and Colour 'Motor Vehicles' gallery categories to hold the images.

I found time to have a look around the town before the show began. This old garage door with it's flaking paint caught my eye.

Door Flaking Paint

I arrived about an hour or so before the official start of the show which meant I could get a few photographs before it became too crowded. As it was a bright sunny day, both contrast and photographer shadows were a problem.

Humber 14/40 Austin Six MGB GT D-Type Jaguar AC Cobra Bentley Marcos GT Pontiac Firebird Mustang GT350 Chevrolet

In some cases, it was impossible to isolate the cars from distracting backgrounds or people. I resorted to airbrushing in Photoshop which can be quite time consuming.

Morgan Austin Healey AC Cobra E-Type Jaguar Ford

Close up details can make interesting images and avoids unwanted backgrounds.

Radiator Detail Triumph Roadster Chevrolet V8 Spirit Of Ecstacy
Cornwall (Sat 14th -> Fri 20th June).

Some images taken during a 6 day holiday based in Rinsey, a few miles west of Porthleven on the Cornish coast.

This was not primarily a photographic trip, so many of the images are simple record shots. The holiday was a last minute decision, so there was no time for the usual location research beforehand.

I took a backpack with my Nikon D200 DSLR and three lenses. I also took a tripod, but it often stayed in the car. On days that involved a fair amount of walking I only carried my Canon G11 compact. On this trip I did not take my infra-red film equipment.

The weather was bright and sunny on most days which created the usual problems with contrast.

Porthleven (Sun 15th Jun).

Views of Porthleven and the harbour.

Porthleven Porthleven Porthleven Porthleven Porthleven Porthleven

Monochrome images of Porthleven.

Porthleven Porthleven

The coastal path between Porthleven and Rinsey.

Post Fence Gate

A few detail shots taken in Porthleven and the coastal path.

Stone Wall Lichen Rust Chain Pink Flowers

The tin mine on the coastal path at Rinsey.

Rinsey Mine Rinsey Mine

Sunset at Rinsey.

Rinsey Sunset Rinsey Sunset
Godolphin House and Gardens, near Helston (Mon 16th Jun).

Godolphin is an historic house and medieval gardens run by the National Trust.

Arum Lily Arum Lily

In addition to the gardens, it has some ancient stone outbuildings and a small collection of wooden carts.

Godolphin Godolphin Godolphin Godolphin Godolphin Godolphin
Basset Mines, Redruth (Mon 16th Jun).

The Basset Mines consist of 'South Wheal Frances', 'Wheal Basset' and 'West Wheal Basset'. In 1896 the three mines merged to form the Basset Mines Ltd. The Basset mines were closed, due to a slump in the price of tin in December 1918. The mines form part of the 'Great Flat Lode Trail'. We visited the remains of the South Wheal Frances Mine.

In many cases multiple exposures and HDR was used to cope with bright skies and high contrast.

A gallery with some interesting monochrome images of the mine ruins can be found here.

Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines

Some monochrome images.

Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines Basset Mines
Godrevy Point and Lighthouse (Mon 16th Jun).

We were hoping for more colour in the sky for this sunset. With hindsight, after having seen other images on the web, it would have made a better shot if we had walked slightly further north east, climbed down to the beach and made use of foreground rocks. It always pays to do a bit of research beforehand.

Godrevy Lighthouse

I took this shot after the sun had disappeared below the horizon. I used f22 with a three stop ND filter plus a 2 stop polariser to give a very slow (20sec) shutter speed.

Godrevy Lighthouse
Kynance Cove (Tue 17th Jun).

Views from the cliffs above Kynance Cove.

Kynance Cove Kynance Cove
Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove

The beach at Kynance Cove with the tide on it's way out.

Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove Kynance Cove

Sand Patterns on the beach at Kynance Cove.

Sand Patterns Sand Patterns Sand Patterns
Lizard Point and Lighthouse (Tue 17th Jun).

Them good old buoys.

Buoy Buoy Buoy

Rust detail by the old lifeboat station.

Rusty Bolts

A blue and white painted hut used to sell souvenirs made from local Serpentine stone.

Blue Hut Blue Hut Blue Hut Hut
Poltesco and Cadgwith (Tue 17th Jun).

Ponies on the coastal path between Poltesco and Cadgwith.

Pony Pony Pony Pony

Cottage at Cadgwith.

Cadgwith Cottage

Boats in the harbour at Cadgwith.

Cadgwith Boats Cadgwith Boats Cadgwith Boats
Glendurgan Gardens (Wed 18th Jun).
Glendurgan Glendurgan Maze Arum Lilly
Rinsey Mines (Thu 19th Jun).

We got up at the crack of dawn to try and photograph the Rinsey mines in the early morning light. Unfortunately, deep foreground shadows meant the intended shots along the cliffs did not work as well as was hoped. The image below taken on the way back after the sun had risen further in the sky was probably the best.

Rinsey Mine
Marazion and St. Michaels Mount (Thu 19th Jun).

St. Michaels Mount is maintained by the National Trust but is still home to the St Aubyn family and a small community. The rocky island is crowned by a medieval church and castle dating from the 12th century.

Rock detail at Marazion. It's tempting to think there is a signature in the rock.


Views of St. Michael's Mount from Marazion.

St Michaels Mount St Michaels Mount St Michaels Mount St Michaels Mount

At low tide it is possible to walk to the island across the causeway from Marazion.

St Michaels Mount St Michaels Mount

St. Michael's Mount Castle.

St Michaels Mount St Michaels Mount

Stained glass windows in St. Michael's Mount castle.

Stained Glass Stained Glass Stained Glass
Mousehole (Thu 19th Jun).

Although Mousehole has an attractive harbour, I struggled to find particularly interesting images. Perhaps because the tide was out.

Mousehole Harbour Mousehole Harbour Mousehole Harbour
East Pool Mines, Redruth (Fri 20th Jun).

East Pool Mines is now a museum owned by the National Trust. It has two preserved beam engines, one of which can be seen running although now powered by an electric motor.

East Pool Mine Rust Detail
Wheal Coates, near St. Agnes (Fri 20th Jun).

We stopped off in the morning to photograph Wheal Coates mine near St. Agnes on the way back home. The main engine house is on the coastal path.

Wheal Coates Wheal Coates Wheal Coates Wheal Coates

To give context to the location, I felt it was important to include the sea in the composition. I used a clump of purple heather to provide foreground interest.

Wheal Coates
Great Linford Waterside Festival (Sun 22nd June).

The Great Linford Waterside Festival took place over three days (Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd June). The Cornwall trip meant I only managed to visit on Sunday afternoon.

The warm weather meant the beer tent ran dry early in the afternoon. Luckily the nearby Nags Head had plenty.

I mainly used my old Nikon 135mm manual focus lens to save carrying the heavy 70-200mm zoom. For most of the portrait shots I used large apertures to throw the background out of focus and keep shutter speeds high to minimise camera shake.

I accidentally had 0.7 stops under exposure compensation set on the camera for the first few images. In most cases I was able to compensate during processing in Adobe Raw.

A new 'Colour Linford Festival' gallery has been created to hold the images.

Chloe Allen and Antonio Lulic.

Chloe Allen Antonio Lulic

A crazy guy with a blue hat in the audience made an interesting subject.

Blue Hat Dancer Blue Hat Dancer

The Milton Keynes Cheerleading Academy gave an acrobatic display.

MK Cheerleaders MK Cheerleaders MK Cheerleaders MK Cheerleaders

Other bands on stage included 'Mr. Wolfe', 'Mungo Jungo', 'Sliver Tongue Bandoliers' and 'Mad Mods'.

Mungo Jungo Silver Tongued Bandoliers Silver Tongued Bandoliers Mad Mods

These animal skulls and feathers displayed on one of the stands at the festival made a great still life. It works in both colour and mono.

Skulls Skulls
Grand Union Canal (Sun 22nd June).

I found one or two subjects along the canal towpath as I walked to and from the Linford Festival.

A female Mallard with brood of ducklings and probably my best photo yet of a Grey Heron. This was shot hand held using a manual focus 135mm lens. The yellow evening light was perfect.

Ducks Grey Heron

Barges on the Grand Union canal in early evening light.

Barges Barges Barges
Togfest, Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes (Sat 28th June).

Togfest is an annual music festival in Milton Keynes featuring 11 hours of live music.

There were some showers in the early afternoon but the weather cleared up later. Luckily one of the two stages was under cover in a barn.

The Silence.

My best photo from Togfest has to be this portrait of the stunning Livvy Griffiths. Livvy is the lead singer with Durham based band The Silence.


Livvy on stage with The Silence.

Livvy Livvy Livvy The Silence

Here are images of a just few of the other bands at Togfest: 'The Jar Family', 'Lem and the White Fire' and 'Runner'.

The Jar Family The Jar Family Lem and the White Fire Lem and the White Fire Runner
Air Display, Old Warden, Beds (Sun 29th June).

Despite a promising start to the weather in the morning, the sky clouded over. This is not ideal for photography. For many images, the background sky was plain and uninteresting.

On my previous visit to this air display, I used a shutter speed of 1/200th sec for propeller driven aircraft. Some of the images were not as sharp as I would have liked. This time I used 1/250th sec.

I used my 70-200mm Nikon zoom lens with the camera set to continuous auto-focus, shutter speed priority and spot metering. I switched between ISO 100 and ISO 200.

Despite using spot metering, some of the images were under-exposed and required adjustment in Adobe Raw. I should have compensated by around 1 stop.

The highlight of the show was a Catalina fly past.

Catalina Catalina Catalina

The Shuttleworth Sopwith Triplane clipped a fence with a wheel on landing. It ended up with a damaged wing and it's nose in the ground. The pilot was unhurt.

Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane

Other aircraft flying at the show included a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, Gloster Gladiator, Miles Magister and Chipmunk trainers.

Hurricane and Spitfire Hurricane Miles Magister Miles Magister
Chipmunk Gloster Gladiator
Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Colour, Linford Festival' gallery (new)
  • 'Colour, Animals' gallery
  • 'Colour, Misc' gallery
  • 'Colour, Aircraft' gallery
  • 'Colour, Motor Vehicles' gallery (new)
  • 'Mono, Motor Vehicles' gallery (new)
  • 'Mono, Misc' gallery
  • 'Colour, Windmills' gallery (new)
  • 'Mono, Windmills' gallery (new)
  • 'Colour, Bluebells' gallery (new)
  • 'Colour, Abstract' gallery (new)
  • 'Colour, Togfest' gallery (new)
  • 'Mono, Abstract' gallery (new)

News: May 2014

Photography News
Woodland Path.

The composition and overall bright yellow/green colour of this spring woodland scene caught my eye. The tree trunks provide foreground interest and help frame the image while the path provides a lead-in for the eye. I deliberately avoided distracting areas of bright sky though the leaves.

Woodland Path
Ashridge Bluebells.

Dockey Wood near Ringshall on the Ashridge Estate is well known as one of the best locations in the area to photograph bluebells. The flowers looked particularly abundant this year - perhaps helped by the mild winter.

It can get quite crowded when the bluebells are in flower, with some photographers coming from many miles away.

The best times to photograph bluebells are the weeks before the end of April and the beginning of May. Too early and there are not enough leaves to create a canopy which can give too many gaps with distracting bright sky. Too late and the flowers can look trampled and weary. The early May bank holiday weekend is best avoided because it can get very busy, especially if the weather is good. It can get very frustrating with people getting in the way. This year the May bank holiday fell on 5th May.

The ideal weather is dry and bright with a thin veil of cloud to help reduce contrast. It is better if there is not much wind; otherwise the low shutter speeds required can result in blurred flowers and leaves. Annoyingly, we had just the right conditions on Sunday and Monday over the bank holiday weekend, but I decided to wait until there were fewer people around.

In my experience, early morning light does not work particularly well with woodland scenes and bluebells, unless you are lucky enough to have early morning mist: Low sun can give excessive contrast. Evening or late afternoon light can also create problems with contrast and bluebells can appear an unnatural looking red/purple colour. Unusual for landscape photography perhaps, but the best times are midday, between 9:00am and 4:00pm.

A tripod is essential as shutter speeds can be as low as 1/2 or 1 second when using the small apertures needed for a good depth of field. A polarising filter improves colour saturation of both the flowers and leaves.

I find a short telephoto lens is best; it compresses the flowers making them look more dense. It also means you can avoid distracting areas of bright sky showing through the leaves.

In total I made three separate visits, two before the bank holiday (Sun 27th April, Sat 3rd May) and one after (Wed 7th May). On the first visit, I used medium format (Fuji Reala). On subsequent visits I mainly used my Nikon D200.

As well as taking more conventional photographs, I experimented with vaseline filters and double exposures, in which the second shot was deliberately out of focus. The effects created using a vaseline filter look best if it is used sparingly. Horizontal smears create a vertical blurring effect which can look good with tree trunks and back lit leaves.

Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells

Two images combined using photoshop layers. The background image was deliberately shot out of focus.


Back lit images with vertical blur created using a vaseline filter.

Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells

If it's breezy, a slow shutter speed results in blurred leaves which can add interest by suggesting movement.

Bluebells Bluebells

When Dockey Wood gets too crowded, it's worth visiting the smaller wood a few hundred yards to the North on the opposite side of the road.

Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells

Below are some scanned 6x4.5 medium format images shot on Fuji Reala colour negative film. The blue looks considerably more saturated compared to the images from my Nikon D200. In some cases I had to reduce the blue saturation in photoshop for a more natural look. I'm guessing this is down to the additional blue layer in Reala film. Some images were taken using a vaseline filter, some double exposure with defocus.

Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells

A diffused glow effect can be created in photoshop by creating a new layer from the background, adding gaussian blur, setting the layer blend mode to 'lighten' and adjusting the layer opacity.

Bluebells Bluebells

For macro shots, try the quieter areas to the North and West of the Dockey Wood car park. The bluebells are not as dense but you can find more subtle close up compositions including grass, ferns and dead trees. There are also white flowers amongst the blue.

Bluebells Bluebells Fern
Ivinghoe Beacon.

The view from the car park at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon at this time of year provides images of bright yellow fields of rape seed.

A long telephoto lens helps pick out interesting compositions including the lines and patterns created by tractor wheels. Shadows cast by clouds can be used to create variations in the light. Walkers on the diagonal footpath provide a useful focal point.

Yellow Rape Fields Yellow Rape Fields Yellow Rape Fields Yellow Rape Fields
St Marys Church, Ivinghoe.

I stopped off at Ivinghoe village to photograph St. Marys Church.

The best viewpoint appeared to be looking from the North East. The composition uses some foreground trees to provide a frame for the building. Luckily there was a gap for the tower.

The position of the sun was not ideal; the face of the church was in shade and the bright sky meant the foreground leaves would appear as a silhouette. HDR was the only option.

I shot 5 frames with one stop exposure difference between each frame. It was quite breezy, which meant the foreground leaves were moving between frames. The automatic 'ghost removal' in the Photomatix HDR software did a good job in avoiding blurring.

Some burning in of the grass in the foreground helps the tonal balance and leads the eye into the picture.

St Marys Church
Backlit Trees.

I shot these backlit trees near Willen Lake using a vaseline filter to create vertical blurring. The yellow-green colours are just as shot and were not enhanced.

Trees Trees
Tree Row.

I have photographed this row of trees along the bank of the Grand Union Canal many times in the past - usually in the autumn. This time I thought I would give it a try in the spring.

Tree Row
Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Colour, Macro Flowers' gallery
  • 'B&W, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery

News: Apr 2014

Photography News
Morning Mist.

There was some early morning mist and fog on Easter Monday (21st April). It's fairly unusual to get mist at this time of year; it was partly down to the rain the previous day.

It's a shame the bluebells were not yet at their best until later in the month as mist can produce some really nice effects. The mist takes on the blue colour reflected up from the flowers. As it was a bank holiday I expect my favorite bluebell location (Dockey Wood in Ashridge) would have been too crowded for photography in any case.

I photographed the poplar trees around Willen Lake using my Canon G11.

Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Trees

Some of the images were converted to monochrome and split toned using Adobe Raw.

Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Trees

The unusual trees by the lake shore in front of The Premier Inn provide some finger-like spooky silhouettes. The morning sun is just visible in the mist. The images are enhanced by converting to monochrome and split toning.

Willen Lake Trees Willen Lake Tree Willen Lake Tree Willen Lake Tree
Apple Blossom.

I used my Canon G11 to photograph apple blossom in the orchard near the Grand Union canal in Woughton On The Green.

Macro mode allowed me to fill the frame with just a few flowers and buds.

It is important to avoid distracting backgrounds. A large aperture helped throw the background out of focus. It also resulted in a fast shutter speed which mimimised camera shake and motion blur as the flowers were being blown by the breeze.

Apple Blossom Apple Blossom Apple Blossom Apple Blossom Apple Blossom
Cherry Blossom.

I found what I think is pink cherry blossom growing wild on the banks of the Ouzel River.

Cherry Blossom
Gallery Updates.
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News: Mar 2014

Photography News

We spent a day photographing in London on Saturday 1st March. This included a visit to one of London's cemeteries, Trafalgar Square followed by a walk down the south bank of the river to photograph Tower Bridge at dusk. On the way we photographed anything that caught our eye including the graffiti and skateboard park at the Southbank Centre.

Paddington Old Cemetery.

The original intention was to visit Kensal Green Cemetery but after a navigational error (we had no map) we ended up at the nearby smaller Paddington Old Cemetery instead. Unfortunately the main chapel building near the center of the grounds was being renovated and was fenced off.

Paddington Cemetery Paddington Cemetery Paddington Cemetery Paddington Cemetery

we found a few shots on the short walk back to Queens Park tube station.

Peeling Paint Urban Decay Blue Door Grey Wall
Trafalgar Square.

A few not very imaginative shots around Trafalgar Square on the way to Waterloo Bridge and the south bank.

Pall Mall Yoda Blue Cock Canadian Embassy
South Bank.

There were the usual street artists and an old-fashioned merry-go-round. I deliberately used a slow shutter speed to blur the movement.

Merry Go Round Merry Go Round
Southbank Skate Park.

The Southbank Centre Skate Park has plenty of interesting graffiti but is quite dark for photography. Without flash, the skateboarders are inevitably blurred. There are more images in the 'Colour Graffiti' gallery.

Graffiti Graffiti
Blackfriars Bridge.

Some not very original shots around Blackfriars Bridge.

Blackfriars Bridge Blackfriars Bridge Blackfriars Bridge Blackfriars Bridge

A captured moment - a little girl and her sister find a flower washed up on the river bank.

Girls abd Flower
St. Paul's.

The almost mandatory postcard/tourist images looking across the river to St. Paul's. In my defence, the light and clouds did look quite good that day.

St Pauls St Pauls
Tate Modern.

The girl wearing red caught my eye. The low light meant the two girls were blurred which helps convey the impression of movement.

Girls Walking
Millennium Bridge.

Another classic postcard image.

Millenium Bridge Millenium Bridge
Hays Galleria.

The Navigators sculpture by David Kemp. It really needed a tripod because the light inside the Galleria was so dim.

Hays Galleria Hays Galleria Hays Galleria
Wall Poster.

It would have been nice to pose a figure in front.

Wall Poster
Tower Bridge.

The best time to photograph the bridge is at dusk when the floodlights are switched on but there is still some light in the sky. I had no tripod with me, so had to find somewhere to rest the camera.

Tower Bridge Tower Bridge Tower Bridge
Thames skyline at dusk.

A couple of shots looking west from Tower Bridge.

Thames Skyline Thames Skyline
Tower Bridge Medium Format.

I made a return visit to Tower Bridge late in the afternoon a couple of weeks later. This time I took my medium format kit, velvia film and a tripod. Unfortunately there were no clouds in the sky, but the results are not too bad.

I scanned the film using an Epson 4870 photo flatbed scanner using 8000x6000 pixels and 48bits/pixel. This gave a large high resolution 48M pixel image. To avoid accentuating any grain in the sky, I selectively applied USM to the bridge only. I selectively applied a noise filter to the sky area to get a nice smooth graded tone with virtually no visible grain. You won't see the difference on the much smaller image on the website.

Tower Bridge Shard

I couldn't resist a couple of shots of the illuminated glass RPC building on the way back to Tower Bridge tube station. I like the way you can see right inside the building. It reminded me of looking into an aquarium.

RPC Building
Local Images.

These back lit reeds by the river were shot early one cold morning during 'the golden hour'. The orange light from the low sun was perfect. Preventing lens flare is tricky when shooting into the light.


A succession of misty mornings with no wind produced some interesting local images, both in colour and monochrome.

I really enjoy photographing in misty weather. It is a great way to isolate the subject from otherwise obtrusive backgrounds. The soft diffused light gives delicate tones and de saturated colours. Most of these were shot around Campbell Park.

Peace Pagoda Crows Diamonds Memorial Columns Object Sculpture Willen Lake Lamps Lamp Lost In Space Talk To The Trees Armillary Sphere Misty Trees

I added a sky with an ominous dark cloud from another photograph to accentuate the 'shelter' sculpture. It also helps balance the composition.


A repeat shot of daffodils with the Holy Trinity Church in the background.

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News: Feb 2014

Photography News
Local Images.

This mute swan obligingly posed for me with the Holy Trinity Church in the background.

Mute Swan

Colourful patterns on an old log.

Log Patterns

Graffiti under a bridge.



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News: Jan 2014

Photography News

The start of 2014 brought heavy rain and storms. When the sun did manage to appear between the clouds, it created some nice lighting for photography. It did mean braving the showers, being prepared to get wet and waiting for the right conditions.

Approaching Storm
Mackerel Sky.

A classic mackerel sky (alto cumulus clouds) shot early one morning following a disintegrating frontal system.

Mackerel Sky Mackerel Sky Mackerel Sky Mackerel Sky
Frozen Leaves.

A couple of cold mornings made for some interesting macro images of frost covered leaves. I used my Canon G11 hand held which unfortunately meant not all the images were sharp. Next time I will take my Nikon, macro lens and a tripod.

Frosty Leaves Frosty Leaves
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire.

Wrest Park is open at weekends (10:00 - 16:00) in winter. Being out of season has the advantage of fewer people to get in the way. You can have the gardens almost to yourself for the first hour or so after opening. Choosing a Sunday with bright weather meant not having to wait around for the light.

Unfortunately, the much photographed shadow patterns inside The Orangery cannot be seen at this time of year as the sun is too low.

I mainly used my Nikon D200 but also took my Nikon FE with a roll of precious outdated Kodak HIE infrared film.

The Pavilion mad a good subject for infrared. Puddles created reflections that added foreground interest and helped the composition.

Pavillion Pavillion Pavillion

The sun was not in the right position to get a decent image of the Bath House. To avoid ending up with a silhouette, I tried a different angle using a path to create a lead-in for the eye. Unfortunately the foreground was in shadow so the resulting image is not that strong.

Bath House

Below is a selection of colour and monochrome images from Wrest Park. The full set of images can be found in the 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' and 'B&W, Beds, Bucks & Herts' galleries.

Orangery Pavillion Shadow Swan Lake Orangery Pavillion Statue Bowling Green House Pavillion Dome HDR Wrest Park House
Segenhoe Church, Bedfordshire.

We visited the church ruin near Ridgemont on the way back from Wrest Park. It was almost dark with a clear sky and full moon. Obtaining the correct exposure for both church and moon was impossible. With hindsight I could have shot 2 or more frames and combined them into a single HDR image.

Segenhoe Church Segenhoe Church
Frost and Ice.

Some local macro shots of frost and ice patterns.

Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Frosty Bramble
Rosebery Music Room.

I managed to capture some pink skies and clouds by getting up early one morning. The clouds also look good when converted to mono.

Rosebery Music Room Rosebery Music Room

A pair of Swans on the fish ponds behind the church made an interesting foreground.

Rosebery Music Room
Misty Morning.

Trees on a cold January morning with a weak winter sun breaking though the fog.

Tree Reflection Saplings In Mist
Tree In Mist Tree In Mist Tree In Mist
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