The view between

This view between two beach huts was taken a few years ago on the Essex coast.  Beach huts seem to be a popular subject for photography, especially if they are painted in bright and contrasting colours. These ones were rather less vibrant in appearance, and so I thought I’d use them to frame the long view out to sea.  I like the simplicity of the picture, but also one or two of the little details like the number of the hut and the untidiness of the cables.

View of sea between beach huts

The view between

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Textured surface

When I’m teaching new photographers, one of the things which seems to excite people most is the move from Auto to Aperture-Priority function, allowing the photographer to control the depth of field in their image.  In basic principle, it is such a simple thing to learn, and yet it has the ability to alter and enhance an image radically.  I say it’s basic “in principle” advisedly…learning how best to use it in practice can be a little more demanding, but still a lot of fun.

There are all sorts of ways in which controlling depth of field can help to bring out the impact in an image.  In today’s picture, I wanted to bring out the richly textured surface in the bricks, while still maintaining a view of the wall as a whole.  By using a shallow depth of field, I’ve kept the focus on a narrow band of textured brickwork, allowing the rest of the wall to fade off into soft focus on either side.

Red brick wall, showing texture of the bricks

Textured surface

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Flowers beyond the window

Compositional techniques like framing and leading lines are not just about making pretty pictures, they should also be a key part of the way in which each picture tells its story.  With something like framing, the relationship between the frame and the picture can be an important part of the drama of the image, the tale it tells, or the questions it raises.

Today’s image shows summer flowers in a garden, viewed through the frame of a window.  When I look at the picture, that “frame” raises interesting questions.  Whose gaze are we following as we look through the window, and is it a look of hope, longing or despair?  And what lies outside the frame, in the rest of the garden, to either side of that beautiful display of colour and fecundity?

Flowers beyond the window

Flowers beyond the window

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London at night photography tours

In the new year, I am running a series of night-time photo walks in partnership with the London Transport Museum, and I am pleased to report they are selling out fast!  Night-time is such a fascinating time to see the city – the atmosphere is different, the streets are (sometimes!) quieter, and the play of artificial light on the city scape is such that sometimes you feel you are looking almost at a different world.  Certainly, there are some buildings I have photographed at night that look utterly distinct from their daytime appearance.

Today’s picture shows a view of the City skyline which always seems to me entirely different at night.  With the shape of the buildings picked out in artificial light, the gathering gloom around them, and the swish of headlamps from cars in the side streets, the scene is transformed.

A few tickets are still available for the night walks in January and February, and can be booked online at the London Transport Museum website.

City view at night

City view at night

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Trees framing trees

We are back to my ongoing obsession with trees today, I’m afraid!  The leaves of the tree in the foreground frame the cluster of trees in the background here, which I feel helps draw you into the image.  The trees to the rear of the photo have long, bare, and slender trunks and seem almost like a group of alert sentinels standing watch over the woodland around them.

Trees framing trees

Trees framing trees

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The church in the garden

Today’s image shows one of my favourite churches in London – St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden.  Originally built in the mid-1600s by Inigo Jones, it has become associated with the acting profession; and inside, plaques in memory of members of the acting profession line the walls.

The outside is also very striking – simple, but bold.  When photographing a famous building, the temptation is always to try to get right in front of it and capture the whole facade in neat, symmetrical perfection.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But sometimes I like to take a step aside, and see what a different perspective shows me.  In this image, I like the way that the churchyard and its foliage break up the unimpeded view of the church itself – the building is still clearly visible, but framed by the leaves of the trees and the elegance of the churchyard lamps.

St Paul's Covent Garden

St Paul’s Covent Garden

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Sunset

I promised landscape after the last few days of abstract meanderings, so here we go.  Sunset pictures are often considered to be principally about the colours, but I think that’s only part of the story – the shape of the silhouetted landscape against the sky is for me an important element as well.

I took this image on a journey through Essex; as we were driving along the colours were intensifying, and it was clearly going to be a special sunset.  When we pulled over by the roadside, the yellows and oranges were certainly striking, but so too was the pattern of the trees against the skyline, and the gentle slope of the land.

Sunset

Sunset

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