Some More Ilford Delta 3200 (through a red R25A filter)

Being rather taken with this fast monochrome film (having used lower ISO rated films for years) here are a few more to whet the appetite.

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Just about right – though I cheated a bit and added a vignette here for dramatic effect. 17mm.

All taken on a trip in winter round Poole Harbour (Dorset UK) on a drizzly, dull day using an OM2N, a Vivitar 17mm, a Zuiko 50mm f1.8 and R25A red filters to bring some drama to the patches of blue skies. Exposed at 1600 ASA the dev time was 9 1/2 minutes in D76 stock which does a good job with this film.

Ilford Delta 3200, Olympus OM2N, Vivitar 17mm f3.5

That looks suspiciously like a fingerprint on the right. Hmm. I’ll pretend it’s a Photoshop layer. 17mm.

The viewfinder is darkened using the filter (and everything is red obviously) but using smaller apertures and the depth of field markings is sufficient. It’s best to use these on the 17mm lens anyway as the viewfinder focus aids aren’t that useful on such a wide-angle lens where most things are in focus.

Ilford Delta 3200, Olympus OM2N, Vivitar 17mm f3.5

Hardly ‘gritty urban’ but it has something. The red filter has done a nice job on darkening the blue skies here. 17mm.

The ‘exposure factor’ for an R25A red filter is 3x so this is the equivalent of shooting at 200 ASA which is more than enough even on an overcast day using wide-angle lenses to use f11 or f16 and keep the shutter speed fast enough for hand holding.

Ilford Delta 3200, Olympus OM2N, Zuiko 50mm f1.8

The light was just right here for a few seconds as the sun came out from between heavy clouds brightening the wet pavement and putting some highlights in the river ripples. 50mm.

The low contrast conditions meant that the whole roll was fairly flat, so some levels adjustments plus the inevitable dust spotting were needed.

Ilford Delta 3200, Olympus OM2N, Vivitar 17mm f3.5

Not that happy with the tone of the grass in this one. I suppose it’s the low diffuse light and the red filter. It’s OK though.

Though it’s difficult to be certain the red filter has brought out some nice detail in those clouds, improved (I think anyway) by the grain of the film.

Ilford Delta 3200, Olympus OM2N, Vivitar 17mm f3.5

My favourite from the day with the sun getting quite low and the path and trees looking ominous. The 17mm lens goes a bit soft at wider apertures (below f8) and f3.5 was needed for this but the trees hide it luckily.

In case you’re wondering if you can achieve the ‘look’ of this film in software, the answer is that you can – almost! The following two images are firstly the last of a roll of Adox Silvermax and secondly the first off the roll of Ilford Delta 3200. I know it’s converting from one film to another but Silvermax is a fine-grained well-behaved film and the image characteristics are similar to a monochrome converted digital shot. OK – not 100% convincing, I know for a proper comparison I should use a digital shot but I didn’t have a digital camera on me at the time.

Ilford Delta 3200, Olympus OM2N, Vivitar 17mm f3.5

‘Proper’ Ilford Delta 3200 image

The Ilford image is quite low in contrast, the grain is quite soft and in the clouds the transitions between light and dark are nice and gentle. The DXO version comes very close, but this is with the contrast turned right down to a minimum. There is more detail visible in the buildings and the grain is sharp. I don’t personally think the clouds look as good but that’s purely personal.

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Simulated in DXO Film Pack from a Silvermax image (no filter present on the lens).

So it’s very close indeed and possibly good enough, but I still prefer the original. Whether the difference is worth messing around loading, processing and scanning proper film is up to you! It would be possible to process the Ilford image to look more like the DXO default output but the grain would still be too sharp on the DXO image and that process seems to be the wrong way round (Ilford isn’t simulating DXO!).

I’m so impressed by this film there’s a load on order and if you hadn’t already guessed it’s heartily recommended! Hope you find this useful, thanks for looking.

p.s. There a reviews of lots of other films on the film, camera and lens review index tab.

 

An Efke Swansong

Well it had to happen one day – my final roll of Efke 820 ‘Aura’ has been hiding in the fridge for a few years, but it’s day has finally come. The ‘Aura’ bit of the name is due to the film not having an anti-halation layer, producing a soft glow around highlights something like the ‘diffuse glow’ filter in Photoshop.

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A bridge on the river Stour in Dorset.

The equipment used was minimal – an Olympus OM1N, a Vivitar 17mm f3.5 lens, an R72 filter, a tripod and a cable release. Exposure bracketing between one and eight seconds at f8 usually produced a decent result. The use of a wide-angle lens helps avoid the infrared focus adjustments required on longer lenses – at f8 pretty much everything is in focus and it’s possible to just use the depth of field scale on the lens to make sure everything is sharp.

Developed in ID11 for eight minutes at 20 degrees centigrade.

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And from further down the river. There are some internal reflections going on which add a certain something.

This style of shooting is really relaxed – plonk the tripod down, take off the filter (it’s opaque), compose, replace the filter and shoot. With bracketing your only going to get around twenty images from a roll so you really take your time. It’s all a bit like fishing and as far removed from blasting away with a DSLR as it’s possible to get.

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Even further down the river there’s this pedestrian bridge. For mid November there are a surprising amount of leaves still left reflecting IR light on those trees.

As always the resulting negatives can be rather dusty, so a quick clean with a soft cloth is worthwhile before putting them in the scanner. I still needed a pass with the ‘dust and scratches’ photoshop filter to remove some of the remaining dust.

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Even more odd internal reflections inside the 17mm lens. I’ve never seen these using conventional film.

Even with the post processing the use of the clone stamp tool to remove the larger dust particles is needed (something I didn’t do for these as you can see).

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The final location and something a bit ‘gothic’ – this film really makes the most of these locations, and the ‘aura’ effect is very noticeable in the distant trees.

I remember this as extremely grainy film, but giving it longer exposures seems to help – I must have been underexposing it in the past.

Efke 820 Aura

Finally a recreation of a shot taken thirty years ago on Kodak HIE speed infrared film – a suitable last shot for the roll! Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Amazingly it’s still available (for a high price!) on some websites – Lomogaphy being one of them – but as the Efke factory in Croatia has apparently closed this must be quite old stock. Either that or someone is making it again which seems unlikely.

A pleasing last roll of a film I’d grown to like over the years. From now on it will have to be Rollei’s IR film (£6 a roll) which is better behaved and less grainy but doesn’t get as near to look of the best IR film ever – discontinued in 2007 – Kodak HIE Infrared. Ilford also make an IR film (SFX 200) but at £13 a roll in the UK it’s an expensive option.

Thanks for looking!

p.s. There a reviews of lots of other films on the film, camera and lens review index tab.

A Few Abstract Landscapes

The chalk downland between Dorset and Wiltshire is a superb location for photography. The gently rolling ploughed fields produce some hypnotic patterns which are the subject of this weeks post (well most of it). All shot on an Oly EpL5 using the basic 40-150 f4-5.6 kit lens which is excellent given it’s price and light weight and pretty sharp one stop down from it’s modest maximum aperture.

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To get that ‘flattened perspective’ the long end of the telephoto zoom range is needed – not normally considered a landscape focal length, but as some readers may have noticed, on this blog it’s all about breaking those classical photographic rules to achieve a ‘different’ result (or maybe just being contrary)…

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To further enhance the abstract effect, monochrome has been used, and to maximise contrast the Oly’s ‘Dramatic Tone’ and some heavy post processing has been ‘inflicted’ on these images.

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset zuiko

The jpeg’s straight out of the camera are already heavily stretched across a broad tonal range, so they’re quite ‘brittle’ during post processing. The worst side effect is a tendency to see heavy banding in the sky so careful exposure is required (it’s just visible in the shot above).  This is usually only seen in clear blue skies, but with a 300mm equivalent lens to play with (150mm on micro four thirds), just cheat and don’t include too much sky…

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset dramatic tone zuiko

These lines of trees have yielded some good images in autumn – looks like they’re also quite photogenic in winter too.

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset dramatic tone zuiko

Next one of those odd ones which I quite like but I’m not sure why. The two trees frame the distant view,  and the dramatic tone effect has given a lightening effect around the trunks. The bokeh produced by the little 40-150mm Zuiko is quite good too!

Finally – one not in the slightest way connected with abstract landscapes but I thought I’d throw it in anyway just for fun :-

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This looks like a grad filter effect but it’s a result of that dramatic tone doing odd – but very good – things….

Thanks for looking – hope you like them.

 

p.s. if you like this effect, have a look at this WordPress photo blog (he’s rather taken with ‘Dramatic Tone’ too!) – Postcard Cafe.

Even More Dramatic Tone on an Oly EPL5

This ‘Dramatic Tone’ phase in a dark cloudy winter is hopefully over soon! Overcast is an uninspiring light source at the best of times so any useful technique helps. A recent trip to Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay in Dorset (UK) provided a chance to use it again.

Tyneham – a village taken over by the army and never returned to the previous owners (the Bond family). The Bond’s family motto ‘The World is not Enough’ was used as a Bond film title.

This isn’t just a gimmick – it’s genuinely (commercially) useful at those times of the year when light is limited and flat and you need to inject some drama into an otherwise bland scene. ‘In Camera’ effects are often criticised for being a bit crass – the ‘Dramatic Tone’ is genuinely useful in black and white if used carefully, so I beg  to differ.

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A published book cover (Arcangel Images/Rob Lambert) using this technique!

Corfe Castle shot from the south. The original was pretty dreary but this is good.

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Corfe Castle – a remarkable range of tones for a winter landscape, shot with the 40-150mm kit lens.

Finally, a shot of an old farm building near the coast, inhabited by some wind battered trees.

Using the 14-42mm kit lens. The remains of a farmstead on the way to Worbarrow Bay.

Thanks for looking – hope you like these!

DXO Optics Pro 9 Noise Removal (a quick test)

If you shoot with a wide variety of camera bodies and lenses but want to shoot in RAW, there are a few options available to smooth out the work needed to process your shots.

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The original scene. The enlargement is from the centre left.

Converting to DNG format, then opening in Photoshop is an option, but correcting 3rd party lens distortion on each individual shot is laborious. Alternatively you could switch between the RAW converters provided by the camera manufacturer, but they won’t correct 3rd party lenses either. This is where DXO Optics excels. It can load and process most camera/lens formats without any fuss – a real time saver.

In addition to lots of advanced image processing options (including integration with Filmpack 4), it offers a new noise reduction called PRIME (Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement), which takes a few minutes to process an image. As it looked like it was doing a lot of work it seemed worth a quick test.

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An enlargement from the centre left. No noise reduction – and pretty grainy. Good enough for a small print but quite ugly.

I don’t often shoot above ISO 800, but with a slow wide-angle (a Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6), no IS and no tripod in a dark interior, higher ISOs are needed. This was taken on a Canon 60D at 6400 ISO – an insane sensitivity for an old film shooter – the nearest film I can remember which would come close was Kodak’s Professional T-Max P3200, but the results would only be useable if you really wanted a very grainy look.

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Standard noise reduction setting. This is very good but there’s still a fair degree of visible noise (look at the pillar on the left).

The standard noise reduction offered by DXO is better than most, but it can’t work miracles as the image above demonstrates. It’s fairly quick to process an 18Mp image however.

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Processed using DXO’s PRIME noise reduction. This takes a few minutes to complete processing on a basic spec quad core I5 PC.

Personally I’d say this is excellent – better than anything else I’ve tried. There’s inevitably a tiny loss of detail (check the detail in those gold finials), but it’s more than worth it for the improvement in noise over the standard processing. It would be better to keep a tripod in the car of course, but in an emergency it’s good to know it’s possible to shoot at high ISOs in an emergency and still get useable results.

Hope you find this useful – thanks for looking.

p.s. I’m not connected with DXO in any way – just using their software.

Olympus PEN Dramatic Tone

As you might have guessed from the previous post, I’ve been messing around with an Olympus EPL5 lately, having sold my EPL3 earlier in the year. What I really missed was the ‘Dramatic Tone’ art filter, which is proving useful in dragging some useful images out of an otherwise overcast few days (it’s quite useful when used on video too).

A walk up on the downland on a dull day – the filter really pulls detail out of flat cloud and the pseudo ‘HDR’ effect can produce a subtle infra red effect.

It’s not great for every scene, but when the light is just right – mixed overcast when normal photography produces flat uninteresting images – this can produce some intriguing results.  These are all straight JPEGs (plus a Raw file as a backup), toned in DXO filmpack.

Sometimes the results are a real surprise – this looked nothing like this to the naked eye, but through the viewfinder (or LCD) the effects can be judged quite accurately. A real transformation of reality!

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Shot a few minutes earlier that the first shot – and completely different.

These are shot using the monochrome filter, the colour version produces results which look too artificial for my taste. You could of course argue that these look artificial – however years ago I used to work for hours in a wet darkroom to produce similar effects and it never occurred to me that I was doing any ‘unethical’ post processing. Maybe our negative attitude to computer/camera based post-processing is that the results weren’t produced by traditional darkroom skills? Whatever the reason, the results are good enough for me not to worry about it any more!

In some circumstances the images just look like a lightly dodged/burned print :-

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This result was more predictable – the cloud forms were visible to the naked eye and all it needed was something interesting in silhouette.

And on other occasions the dodge/burn effect is less than subtle…

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This one is possibly looks too over-processed!

So, whatever your attitude to post-processing images – thanks for looking and hope you like them.

English Downland and a Lensbaby Plastic Lens

Been out today in some brilliant weather – up on the chalk downland which is in full summer mode with grasses, butterflies and birds everywhere.

In an attempt to stop taking IR shots on the Sony RX100, an old favourite was attached to a Canon 60D – the Lensbaby composer with the plastic lens and (very) manually changed apertures. As I’m not really a landscape photographer, the best subjects to concentrate on were the flowers and grasses, rendered very softly with this odd lens.

In order to boost the contrast the ‘Clear’ colour profile was used in camera. Other important settings were centre weighted metering, magnified LCD focussing and RAW file output as exposures can be all over the place – display a histogram on the LCD and keep an eye on it! Unless you really like lying down and getting up a lot, the pivoting LCD screen on the 60D is very useful for this sort of subject, though it’s difficult to see in bright sunlight. It’s all a bit hit and miss to be honest.

First some buttercups, post processed to give the yellow of the flowers a reddish hue. No aperture disk so very soft – just the essentials of the subject really. A neutral density filter (x3) was needed to prevent overexposure at f2.

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This was shot with the f4 aperture disk and converted to black and white in DXO filmpack to give it a harder contrast to cut into the softness and let the chalk path burn out.

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Finally another at f4 (once an aperture disk is in I rarely change it). Some odd flare top right, but given the lens it doesn’t seem to matter.

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Not a bad day at all – I may have picked up a slight suntan too!

Thanks for looking, hope you like them!

Rocking Horses and Russian Dolls

(Four Images). The search for saleable stock images on a wet day leads you to have a look around the house for something to shoot – hence a very strange combination of subjects….

Starting with the russian dolls – no idea when these were bought, they were just sitting on a mantelpiece. A plain white background left cover designers an opportunity to place whatever background they wanted. The camera was an Oly 620 with the 50mm f3.5 macro.

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Same subject, different angle – the important thing is the part of the image which is out of focus.

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And next it’s the rocking horse, sitting under the stairs, it’s been there for years but worth a few shots both taken on the 60D. Can’t remember the lens – sorry.

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This was enhanced using the ‘Toy Camera’ effect, giving a vignetted/faded appearance.

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If it’s not that good outside, have a look around the house for something to photograph – it can work really well and it’s better than watching the TV!

All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them and thanks for looking.

Texture Layers Part Three

The last (for the time being) of the layer posts and this time it’s about even more subtle layering.

This was taken as a simple abstract but a light blue/brown helped it along nicely. Not too obvious, but then that’s the theme of the post…

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Next a Lensbaby shot which was taken on a stormy day by the coast. The post-processing added an extra boost to an otherwise so-so image.

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Finally one with a vignette, and the same image as number one layered to add something to an otherwise grey featureless sky. 00182158

Layering is a useful technique to add a bit of extra mystery and atmosphere to a shot which is graphically promising but lacks a certain ‘something’ – especially shots taken under flat skies. Give it a try using the hundreds of free layer/texture images on the web, or even better, shoot or create your own.

All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them and thanks for looking.

Texture Layers Part Two

Following on from part one of this layers series, this on is dedicated to a more subtle (but not too subtle!) use of texture layers in post processing.

This first layer is almost like one of those odd Hoya filters from the 1980’s with a strong colour bias to one side. Combined  with a Lensbaby Sweet 35 at max aperture it makes a nice combination!

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Next a shot of the same tower as the first post – but the rain and condensation in the inside of a car window added to the fogged effect. This was one of only a few shots from a wet and cold day which was worth the effort.

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And finally a narrow alley with a ‘daguerreotype’ layer added – that bricked up window makes the shot. Converging lines again….00178893

All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them and thanks for looking.’

Texture Layers

It’s about time something was posted about using texture layers – I’ve already posted loads of shots with this type of post processing, sometimes so subtle that it’s hardly visible.

Starting with a few where it’s very visible:-

There are two main layer images added to this Lensbaby shot – one to enhance the stonework (which was a shot of rust), and one to give the brighter tones some texture. The images are blended together and then the layers ‘flattened’ to give the final effect. The interaction of the out of focus areas and the layers is very attractive.00182163

To achieve this effect you’ll need to ‘layer’ one or more shot on top of the other in Photoshop.

The easiest way I’ve found is to open the main picture and the texture images then drag a texture image over the main image from the ‘Projects’ floating toolbar. Resize the texture image to be the same size as the main image beforehand – this helps a lot!

The ‘Layers’ floating toolbar will then give various blending options such as ‘Overlay’ and ‘Soft Light’ – just have a play about with the options and the opacity of the layers and you’ll get the hang of it.

This next one is another Lensbaby shot with some strong layering to give a scratched/blotchy appearance. The Lensbaby plus layers combination is very nice!

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And finally a more subtle one – a soft green texture with a vignette around the edge. The texture has the effect of altering the tone curve and the colours which, if you get it right, can make the image look a lot better without looking over processed.

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I’ve gone a bit ‘Gothic’ here – probably because these types of shot suit more extreme layering. One you get used to this as a normal part of post processing it’s easy to build up a library of textures from free downloads or texture shots you take yourself.

There’s a detailed free tutorial here if anyone wants to see the process in more detail.

Give it a try – it can really add a special look to your images – especially for book cover stock. It’s also good for hiding dust and scratches on film images, and for adding some colour to black and white shots.

Hope you find this useful and thanks for looking!

Foggy Days Part Four

Though this winter has been bad, there’s a lot of water about which, with a bit of cold air now and again means fog! It’s by far the best weather for photography, and it never lasts too long which adds a bit of extra pressure to get those atmospheric shots (four images).

All these were taken in a short 15 minute period on a Canon 60D and a 15 – 85mm lens. I liked the feeling of foggy silence and isolation in this one.

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Post processing consisted of texture layering to enhance the fog and below some lightening of the foreground to add some detail to the forest floor.

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This shot’s red channel was tweaked to give some more punch to the leaves on the forest floor as they were a bit pale.

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Finally a simple layer to darken the darker midtones which brings the image closer to the scene as viewed.

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

Thanks for looking!

A Few in the Crime Genre

The agency I shoot for specialises in creative publication imagery and crime novels are a bit of a speciality of theirs, so inevitably you end up taking some unusual shots…

Onto the first one, shot after a vintage photo shoot in abandoned building (obviously). Toned and textured in Photoshop, the fallen chair in the deserted building  is something of a crime book cover classic subject.

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This one’s  in a different vein –  thanks Pete for standing in the doorway. It’s a ‘frame within a frame’ shot of a reflection in a mirror and hopefully conveys some implied surprise or tension. This has just some basic toning to bring out some greys in the white paintwork surround.00217850

Finally a shot taken in some tunnels and a figure running towards the light with a slow shutter speed. A classic cover shot if ever there was one..

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

Ripples

Looking for a new subject a while ago I thought maybe ripples would be worth a try. Luckily there’s some heathland with lots of ponds nearby, so with a Canon 60D and the lensbaby (and a pocket full of pebbles) this is what resulted…

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I tried putting the camera into ‘motordrive’ mode, but it didn’t really work for me. It’s probably a long term memory from using film SLR’s with a motordrive, burning up film and money at an alarming rate! Single shot was more precise.

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Multiple layers on this and the previous one – a blotchy green one and a red one.

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Finally a simple one – just a slight yellow/green texture to make it seem more delicate.

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This shoot did result in a book cover sale (Deborah Crombie – ‘No Mark Upon Her’) – but the shot had no ripples in it (it’s on the Book Covers tab). Not quite what was intended but never mind….

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

Tree Tuesday Part Seven

Four more images from last Autumn, posted as a change from bare winter trees. All taken on the same (very good) photographic day!

All taken on a Canon 60D, 15-85mm and post processed in Canon’s DPP RAW processing software.

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This one was post-processed in DXO filmpack (one of the creative filters).

Finally a ‘vintage’ treatment for this ‘one side of the road’ avenue of trees.

Thanks to Jeff for the idea, – as always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking and hope you like them.