September 2012 - Immaculate Conceptions

Category: News 28 August 2012

The Blackmore Vale from Bulbarrow Hill, Dorset, England
Canon 5D mkIII, 24-70mm lens
Dawn on Bulbarrow Hill; below lies the rolling countryside of Dorset’s Blackmore Vale, green and lush from this summer’s frequent downpours. From the look of the clouds looming to the south west another dousing is imminent, but for now tantalising gaps in the cloud cover are promising at least the possibility of heavenly shafts. To the east the sky is on fire, but we’re fixated by the potential of the view of endless patchwork fields stretching away to the north as far as our eyes can see. This summer has been a sad disappointment for many, barbecues have been few and far between, but the changeable weather has brought occasional dramatic skies, billowing clouds and fleeting light of startling clarity. I’ve managed a handful of productive shoots on my own home patch, and this morning we’re hopeful of more. The previous evening I introduced Gary to the world of panoramic stitching and already he’s well and truly got the bug; we’re both waiting for the light, ready to synchronise rotating heads with overlapping exposures. I don’t think Gary quite saw the potential of this location initially but now the reason we’ve been here stood beside the tripods since 5.30 am is becoming increasingly apparent. If we can make something photographically special here it will be an achievement of some significance for Gary, and his mother. I thought I had a special connection with this landscape, but it’s nothing compared to Gary’s; this really is a return to his roots.

A field of barley at dawn, Milborne Port, Somerset, England
Canon 5D mkIII, 24mm TS-E lens
Yesterday we talked through our plan for his 24 hours of One to One Tuition over lunch. As I briefed Gary on the locations and showed him the lie of the land on the OS map he dropped his bombshell; in 1957 when his parents had been stationed at Blandford Camp he was conceived on Bulbarrow Hill. His mother had sheepishly confided this pertinent fact over the phone as Gary talked through the prospect of his imminent day with me. As Wendy’s and my jaws dropped I realised this put a whole new complexion on our plans. The definitive image from Bulbarrow Hill thence became a priority; no pressure then. Now as the sun is rising over Hambledon Hill we’re getting increasingly excited as the scene below starts to glow. This is what it’s all about; standing and watching the light of Happy Hour transform a landscape is one of the fundamental joys of photography. 

We walked the location yesterday, talked through the options and eyeballed the most favourable viewpoints. Now the whole process of scouting, previsualising and planning is coming to fruition, just as Gary’s existence did here 55 years ago. The clouds part further and a ray of gold illuminates the tree in the foreground. Other shafts play on the rolling Dorset landscape below stretching away to Somerset and Wiltshire beyond; now is our Decisive Moment.

Back in the office after breakfast we watch as the computer munches on the seven vertical frames from the dawn shoot. Up pops the panorama; Gary’s image is immaculate, mines not bad either. The Joy of Photography suffuses through us both. 55 years after his last Decisive Moment on Bulbarrow Hill Gary has created again; hopefully his Mum will be impressed.


The Towanwroath engine house, Wheal Coates tin mine, nr St Agnes, Cornwall, England
An image from this month’s Composition Tutorial
The August edition of our Chasing the Light eZine revels in that Joy of Photography with the first of a series of three Back to Black and White articles giving you the Low Down on “The Power of Monochrome”. The Field Trial assesses the usefulness of fill in flash in the age of low light sensitive cameras, whilst the Composition Tutorial looks at the use of space on the Cornish Coast. Stepping Back  is the only thing to do whilst perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon, whilst Behind the Lens concludes the Sri Lanka trilogy in the company of some crusty fishermen at dawn. This month’s Guest Feature  “Fast Lenses and Fast Jets” is by Garry Ridsdale, who thinks nothing of climbing a Welsh mountain to spend all day waiting for a passing Tornado. His pictures are remarkable; as is his ability to shoot a jet moving at 500 mph whilst hand holding an 800mm lens. As usual we’ve a spread of intriguing images in your f11 Member’s Gallery, with comments by yours truly.

Dawn on a tea plantation nr Ella with Little Samson's Peak (right), Southern Highlands, Sri Lanka
Canon 1Ds mkIII, 17mm TS-E lens
To all our f11 Members we hope you’re enjoying the ride, and thanks for your feedback. Wendy recently messaged each and every one of you and we’re truly grateful for all the constructive comments we’ve received in reply on what you’d like to see in future editions. One thing came through loud and clear; more post production tutorials. You talk, we listen; so from next month we’ve a series starting on the Fundamentals of Post Production. These eZine articles will be accompanied by a series of on-line webinars free to f11 Members practically demonstrating the whole Digital Darkroom workflow in real time on your own desktop. You also highlighted the popularity of the Guest Feature so we’ve some entertaining reads in the pipeline. Next month my colleague and partner in crime on the Workshops Jon Gooding strips away the veneer of glamour that some attach to our craft with Confessions of a Commercial Photographer.  
Coming soon we have fellow Canon Explorer and Chief Sports Photographer at The Times Marc Aspland writing exclusively for the eZine about his long illustrious career shooting major sporting events from Wimbledon and Wembley to this year’s Olympics.  Also in the pipeline are more video blogs, an f11 Member’s Forum, and a series on how to publish your own book. Many of you suggested intriguing ideas which we’re commited to enacting, so watch this space for news on these exciting prospects. For those yet to sample the benefits of f11 membership; you’re missing out.

a field of wheat nr Piddletrenthide, Dorset, England
Canon 1Ds mkIII, 24-70mm lens
An image from this month’s Behind the Lens feature

To bring all this together we’re welcoming this month a new Crew Member on-board. Freya Dangerfield was the Commissioning Editor responsible for making my first book Waiting for the Light a reality. She now joins us as Editor of the Chasing the Light eZine. We’ve big plans for continued new offerings for our f11 Members and it will be her job to make it all happen. Following our brainstorming meetings in Torquay’s M&S I’m convinced with her publishing background she is ideally suited to the role.

Of course ultimately I need to rely on the Crew to transform our ideas into reality, enabling me to be out behind the lens exposing as much as possible, so Wendy and I have a busy 6 months of photographic travel ahead. Florence, the Pyrenees, Provence and Burma all beckon, with Talks and Workshops interspersed. Next month we bring the Road Show to Portlaoise in Ireland, followed by Dunfermline, Stafford and Cheltenham in October/November. We also have our first Workshops in Provence to run in October; due to cancellations we still have a few spaces left but the clock is ticking.


Turenne, Corrèze, Limousin, France
Canon 1Ds mkIII, 70-200mm lens

With such a busy schedule ahead we’ve enjoyed being grounded for a few weeks; High Summer is traditionally when we’re ensconced back at Base Camp. The prospect of adventurous travel is exciting, but when all’s said and done I just want to be out with muddy boots beside the tripod, and chasing the light on Bulbarrow Hill can be as exciting as exposing in any foreign field. From what Gary tells me we were not the first to be excited on Bulbarrow Hill. I suggest you give your Mum a signed and framed print Gary.

Keep exposing.


 
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David Noton Photography
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Milborne Port
Sherborne
Dorset
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