Won’t Be Long Till Spring

Just a thought – spring isn’t that far off in the UK – I can’t wait to see some colour again.


All have a texture layer – more obvious in some than others.


After the greyness – almost monochrome – experience of shooting outside lately these look very colourful!


As always, shot for the book cover market – hope you like them.

Shooting Doors Part Two

A few more for the Legion – what a fantastic idea!

First a nice Victorian one – they’re always so pretty. Lightly layered with a vignette.


Next a church door – can’t remember where – with some ornate almost celtic/saxon metalwork.


Next, a reversal of the ‘darkening levels’ technique (see previous post) where the highlights are pushed into the midtones to give a washed out effect, keeping just the essentials of the image.


Not strictly a door – more where a door was then boarded up in a run down part of town.


This final one is a particular favourite as it was my first sale – ‘Murder Ballad’ by Jane Hill.


Here’s the cover – note all image rights are owned by the publisher.


Taken on all sorts of kit so I won’t bore you with the details.

Thanks for looking – there should be some nice Christmas wreaths on doors to shoot over the next few days!

Darkening Levels

Some shots have just too much ‘clutter’, with midtone detail distracting from an otherwise clean, simple image.

This was a wet road disappearing over a bridge after a storm – tweaking the levels brought out something much more dramatic.


To remove those pesky midtones use the ‘levels’ tool in photoshop – on the ‘input levels’ slide the left (dark) triangle right until most of the midtones have been darkened to black, then move the centre midtone (grey) triangle to get the desired effect. To do the reverse and make a very ‘high key’ image move the right (white) triangle left.


This didn’t take too much alteration – just enough to remove distracting midtones in the darker areas.


Finally one of a track on chalk downland taken with a telephoto lens, ‘chopped’ with levels to give an abstract.


Give it a try as it does give some shots a real lift.

As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Summer, Beach and a Lensbaby

Thought it might be an idea to post a few ‘summery’ pics, as it seems a long time since I went outside without a coat on! If you’re in the Southern hemisphere you might be reminiscing about winter – but maybe not.

All shot with the plastic optic on an Olympus 620, and, since you can see vaguely what the subject is, using one of the middle apertures (f4 or 5.6). This lens produces some lovely soft colours, the images needing relatively little post-processing.


Can’t do an English seaside series without some deck chairs….


Finally one of those oddities which makes using a Lensbaby so much fun. In all that blurry softness, how did it render the mooring rope sharply?


As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Tree Tuesday Number Three

My third ‘Tree Tuesday’ – and this first shot is through a Lensbaby on a Canon 60D, taken into the sunlight in a stand of pine trees.

lensbaby pines

The second shot – and yes I said no more infra red for a while …. but it is Tree Tuesday so I might get away with it.  Efke 820 IR film in an OM1N, lightly toned in Photoshop.

infra red tree

Hope you like them.

A Bit of ‘In Camera’ Processing

In the last few years, most new digital cameras have some sort of  ‘in camera’ processing special effects on board. This post looks at one of the more useful ones – ‘dramatic tone’ on an Olympus EPL3.

These shots have been given a bit of a twist by being shot on a Sweet 35 Lensbaby and the two seem to complement each other nicely.


The processing (amongst other things) pulls out minor differences in mid tones – those clouds just looked plain white on the day. The effect can be previewed on the LCD and can produce a look which is similar to print dodging/burning,  film fogging or even strong flare.


What’s more, minor movements of the camera produce some major variations in the way these effects are distributed on the image – it’s quite fascinating! It can also be applied to a ‘normal’ RAW image using the Olympus supplied software ‘Viewer 2’ but without any fine tuning by moving the camera obviously.


The output from the process is in colour, but they seem to me to look better in mono – something done in DXO Filmpack choosing either one of the film profiles or the creative presets and tweaking the settings. To add a final finish a layer can be added too (see above)!


So, with the effect toned down a little, and with conversion to a mono image it’s quite useful and not just a novelty (which many of the others are). Just don’t use it for every shot!

As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Last of the Infra Reds for a While

I really must post something other than infra red next week! Until then, the final two for a while – promise!

These are both taken on a converted Fuji F810 (now retired) through an R72 filter in RAW.


This second one was taken on an overcast day – not ideal for IR – but after a lot of post-processing attempts it worked out OK.


Hope you like them! I might bring this camera out of retirement next year.

Maybe another Infrared..

In a bit of an infra red mood these last few days – here’s one from a while ago taken on a Sony R1. The processing of consisted of messing around in the ‘channels’ panel of Photoshop – so quite simple.


Enjoy the rest of the weekend….

As it’s Friday – a Couple of Infrareds

No other reason really, and not much text – much to everyone’s relief!

First one of Efke 820 IR film in an OM1, lightly textured and toned.


Next one from an Olympus 8080 (which was quite good at IR) on some nearby heathland. A very slight touch of  ‘diffuse glow’ just lifted it –  trying to mimic the ‘aura’ effect of IR films like the much missed Kodak Hi Speed.


Hope you like them – have a good weekend!

Shooting Doors

Best get the confession over with! Doors and windows are a constant theme for a book cover photographer – the more bashed up with peeling paint the better.

This one’s had quite a bit of post processing – but I can’t remember what it was.. Probably just levels and ‘diffuse glow’.


Sometimes a natural line can draw the eye to the subject – some daffodils in this case, and the door can be out of focus. This was shot on a Sony R1.


With ‘diffuse glow’ again in Photoshop and an abstract composition they can even sneak in from the edge. Shot on a Canon G9 and definitely in the category of ‘not sure why I like this’.


Or maybe even a Lensbaby might do the trick!


I don’t know what the blue light source was on the other side of this door but it was unusual. Canon 60D.


Sometimes a few leaves can do the trick…


This door has everything a cover photographer wants in one shot! Peeling paint, rust, cracks – the lot! Canon 60D.


Finally an overgrown one! This was an abandoned Methodist chapel and I’m sorry to admit that I took this from the car – it was freezing! Canon 60D.


As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting Abstracts Part Two

Part 2 of the Abstracts series – the first was by the sea, and these are, well elsewhere!

This was a strangely repaired window with an odd stained glass pane – without it though I wouldn’t have taken the shot…


I’m not sure if any of you ‘suffer’ from this but some days I just see abstracts to take. I could walk past this 9 days out of 10 and not see it….


A few more on the ‘vegetation’ theme – this was just from testing a new lens on a Canon 60D, post processed in DXO Filmpack.


This one using a Lensbaby and heavily processed. Lots of ‘copy space’….


What was going on this ‘abstract day’ is anyone’s guess…. It’s been accepted by the agency but I’m still not sure if I like it.


Back to worn stuff – ropes and a fisherman’s storage box something a little more traditional.


Next is a bilge of a boat with some worn paint. This was taken on a Helios 85mm f2 on an Olympus 620 and the soft muted colours seem to go well together.


Finally some barbed wire viewed through a bunker observation slit in Jersey. APX100 film toned. Yet more ‘copy space’!

abstract barbed

As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Rollei Blackbird Film

This is a mini test of  Rollei Blackbird film following a short post on this film back in October which seemed to get some interest.


Rollei Blackbird is a really unusual film and produces unique results. However if it’s underexposed it will be a disaster – there will be no shadow detail at all, so it’s always best to expose for the shadows and let the highlights sort themselves out.  What makes it special is it’s treatment of shadows – if correctly exposed and developed it cuts to a deep black at just the right point in the midtones giving a dark, moody image.


A side effect of exposing for the shadows is that the highlights often wash out. Not that good if it’s sky, but for other subjects the results can be interesting.


It’s a very fine grained, sharp film and can be rated at 25 or 100 ISO. Its even more contrasty at 25 ISO so 100 ISO is the most flexible rating. The development times are 10 minutes for 100 ISO or 6 minutes for 25 ISO in D76/ID11 stock at 20 degrees C with no prewash. It makes and a fine mess of the stock developer but I’ve reused the same stuff 5 or 6 times without any problems. If you need to tame the contrast a little, cut the development time by 10% and only agitate the tank every 1.5 minutes.

I’ve used in 35mm format, and the Big Dev Chart lists D76/ID11 and Rollei RHS High Speed development times only, so no Rodinal unfortunately – unless you’re feeling experimental! It should be loaded in subdued light which hasn’t been a problem even on bright days.


This beach at Plement Bay in Jersey has some deep shadows cast by the surrounding cliffs and rocks – good for contrasting with the sunlight on the sand and water, all enhanced by Blackbird.


Can’t have a post without some peeling paint!


Finally a repost of this shot from the first post back in October – it’s worth re-showing as for me it’s the definitive ‘Rollei Blackbird’ shot.


All pics shot on an Olympus OM1N or OM2N with 28mm, 50mm or 85mm lens scanned on a Plustek 7500.

So definitely a film worth trying – or even getting hooked on as I have! In the UK it’s about £4.50 per roll if bought as a twin pack so around the same price as PAN F or Tri X.

Thanks for looking and hope you like them.

Tree Tuesday Number 2

The second Tree Tuesday for me – didn’t realise how many shots of trees I had, so thanks to Jeff for thinking up the idea.

So – the first shot on EFKE 820 IR film in an OM1N taken on a very windy day on the coast. This film’s supernatural ability to gather dust while drying led me to just remove the larger spots and leave the rest to give it ‘character’ – does that sound like a plausible excuse?


And shot 2 – mistletoe colonising a tree, taken on a Canon 60D, layered and toned. Must be getting close to Christmas!


Hope you like them and thanks for looking.

DXO Filmpack – B/W and Cross Processing Simulation

I’ve spent hours in Photoshop tweaking colour settings and black and white conversions options on a shot, often abandoning the process as a different idea for the final ‘look’ suggests itself. What I wanted was software which would present a gallery of post processing ideas which would get me to the best result quickly – but couldn’t find any.


I tried a trial copy of DXO Filmpack last year and realised that it gave me something close to what I’d wanted – though its not it’s main purpose! This is a mini test of some of the DXO Filmpack options.

A screenshot is shown above – the film types along the bottom and some editing tools on the right with the current simulation displayed in the centre. The tabs above the filmstrip allow the different film simulations to be selected.

So with a straight shot from a Canon 60D with ‘neutral’ colour profile chosen on the RAW conversion, lets have a look at some of the B/W and cross processing options. All are untweaked and the default result of the film simulator. The subject is the mill used in the Adox CMS20 mini test on a clear winter’s morning.


This next shot is the cross processed Kodak Elite 100 simulation – a dramatic difference but the saturation needs taking down a bit.


This is cross processed Fuji Superia 200 – as with the other cross processed shots, a little less blue is needed but otherwise not bad.


Now things get interesting – B/W simulations. This is Rollei Retro 80s, a film I didn’t get on with as it was much too contrasty. This is reflected in the simulation but it’s more useable as an image than my attempts with the film.


This one is Rollei Ortho 25 – a good simulation of high contrast treatment.


Finally Rollei IR 400. Not a real IR effect but quite close, and for this one the added grain was removed. A general criticism of DXO Filmpack is that it adds too much grain for higher speed films by default. Rollei IR film isn’t that grainy at all!


Shooting film is still my preferred option, but if film isn’t for you, the question is – is DXO Filmpack a good film simulator? Well if you put in quite a bit of effort the results can be excellent, but the defaults are a bit strong, and the added grain can be excessive – especially for higher speed films. All of these things can be altered in the editor panel.

As a quick evaluation tool for different processing options though, it’s brilliant! Even if I can’t get exactly the result in DXO I can go into Photoshop and know what look I want to create immediately.

I’ll do a post on the colour film and creative presets soon.

I’m not associated with DXO in any way by the way – I just use this software!

If anyone would like to see what their favourite film looks like ‘simulated’ let me know and I’ll add it to the post.

Thanks for looking.

p.s. it works just as well on film scans!

Shooting Abstracts by The Sea

There’s something hypnotic about a receding tide. The clean, fresh sand and the draining sea water produce some amazing patterns which beg to be photographed.

This one took a lot of post processing to get the desired result – mainly in the ‘levels’ control to stretch highlight and shadow to produce something from a very ‘flat’ shot. This was taken on a Sony P200 in Bournemouth on the way to work some years ago.


Similarly here – but less processed – this was taken in Jersey (UK) at Plemont Bay – one of the best beaches in the UK with the fastest receding tide and the cleanest fine sand  I’ve ever seen. Canon 60D.


Another at Plemont Bay – this time on film – Rollei Blackbird film in an OM2.


Back to Bournemouth and not really the beach. There’s a stream which flows through some gardens which had overflowed onto the path leaving this muddy residue.


The beach is kept in place with wooden groynes – barriers to stop the sand migrating eastward. This one had some rivets in a nice pattern and a line of algae which marked the high water mark.


Back to Jersey and a stream of water which runs across the fine sand as the tide goes out. The knot of weed made the composition.


Finally a heavily processed reflection of some buildings on the sea front in Bournemouth.


As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.