Paul Grayson Photeinos.com: Blog https://www.photeinos.com/blog en-us (C) Paul Grayson Photeinos.com light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Fri, 11 Jun 2021 18:47:00 GMT Fri, 11 Jun 2021 18:47:00 GMT https://www.photeinos.com/img/s/v-12/u1011337836-o853868342-50.jpg Paul Grayson Photeinos.com: Blog https://www.photeinos.com/blog 120 116 Cheesy? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/6/cheesy  Ile de la Cite  DawnIle de la Cite DawnCopyrighted Digital Image Paul Grayson www.Photeinos.com

Given my aspiration to produce high-quality, Fine Art Photography, this image triggers some questions for me. Sure, it was crafted with care, given that it required planning, timing, and the use of quality equipment mounted on a heavy tripod to produce a colour sensitive and in-depth focus result, all under difficult lighting conditions.

That said, I question whether it may be considered banal, given the saturation production of images of Paris, especially at dawn. Against that criticism, its redeeming qualities for me are the rarity of the combination of: this viewpoint, the subtlety of the  gradations in the dawn sky and the play of verticals and horizontals in the silhouetted composition. I love making silhouettes, whatever the lighting situation, for aesthetic reasons, not just because of laws against selling images which can identify people without their permission.  

Technical

The narrow f22 aperture and low sensitivity of ISO 250 generated a tripod-requiring shutter speed of 1/80s, producing the strong silhouette and subtle colours. Less drastic settings could have produced a better-lit, but soft impact image. This would have had low impact, in my opinion.

What do you think?

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR

Focal Length: 70mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Aperture: f/22

Shutter Speed: 1/80s

Exposure Program: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Centre-weighted average

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Tripod Mounted

Format: Raw

Place : La Conciergerie, Ile de la cite, Paris

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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Eiffel Storm https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/6/eiffel-storm Blog 21 06 04 Eiffel StormBlog 21 06 04 Eiffel StormEiffel Storm

I see the Eiffel tower every day that I leave home and have photographed it in a myriad of lighting and weather situations. I am still hoping one day to capture a lightning strike on it, but the lighting on the day that I captured this image was still quite dramatic.

Given the ubiquity of images of this most iconic of structures, I am most often focussed on finding angles on it that are interesting and uncommon, but I also enjoy seeing and capturing the weather effects which frequently dramatically impact it, particularly at sunset. This occasion was a mixture of sunset and bad weather which seemed to threaten the tower with an operatic, “Twilight of the Gods” storm.

Clearly the tower has demonstrated the robustness of its creator’s design and war, weather and mass tourism have all failed to do it any substantial damage. Long may it continue to make us gasp with delight, as it nightly sparkles and glitters on the hour, until  the final amazing show at 1 am.

Technical

Given the long focal length capture of a distant object and using the camera hand-held, I maxed out the shutter speed to avoid poor focus due to shake.

The lighting was difficult, particularly with extremes of tones, and changing quickly, so I also used much more negative exposure compensation than is usual for me. Equally, I used “spot” exposure management to ensure that the camera did not average out the exposure calculation.

The high speed and narrow aperture might have made for a poor exposure, given the relatively low ISO, except for the fact that the sky scene was very bright in patches and I was specifically aiming for a dramatic silhouette effect.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon 70-300mm f4/5.6

Focal Length: 250mm

Drive Mode: Single shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/8000s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: -2.3 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 500

Hand Held

Format: Raw

Place : 7th Arrondissement, Paris.

Year: 2011

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) D300 Eiffel Tower Fine Art Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos storm φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/6/eiffel-storm Thu, 03 Jun 2021 22:05:00 GMT
The Towers of The Teeth? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/the-towers-of-the-teeth Blog 21 05 28 The  Towers of The TeethBlog 21 05 28 The Towers of The Teeth

Carchost and Narchost stood either side of the Black Gate at the entrance to Mordor. Long abandoned by the Gondorians, they were occupied by the servants of Sauron and swung open at the end of the epic story, to allow his forces to face the Host of the West in the final, agonising, Battle of the Black Gate.

Today, instead of Orcs and Trolls, they protect the denizens of Société Générale Bank’s headquarters staff. I fear to utter its name and dare not speak of the deep secrets within, for I, myself, hammered and sweated there for 10 years.

Effect of Light

Which brings me to my photographic point. An overcast, Summer sky with steel-grey clouds can create a beautiful, yet moody effect, which transforms the architecture of the business district of La Défense, just outside Paris, into Tolkien’s vision of Hell.

It is a lifelong privilege to have inhabited fascinating places for enough time, that I could observe them in myriad lighting and weather conditions. Clearly their ever-changing nature offers magical photographic opportunities, no matter what the subject, but it is the addition of a longer time frame which permits the capture of infinite visual subtleties and effects.

Absent such a longer presence it is photographer’s luck which provides those moments of intense pleasure, when faced with a fortuitous lighting situation. Of course I can make my own luck by applying precise planning, such as researching the timing, angles and location of events such as an eclipse, or the dawn and sunset, for that matter.

Technical

The lens used on this capture is a Tilt/Shift lens, generally required for achieving optical adjustments of architectural subjects. On this occasion it was used more simply for the optical quality of its glass and the wide-angle available from using it as a short focal length, prime lens

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5ED

Focal Length: 24mm

Drive Mode: Single shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Tripod Mounted

Format: Raw

Place : Esplanade de la Defense, Courbevoie/Puteaux.

Year: 2010

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) fine art nikon paris paul grayson photeinos societe generale φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/the-towers-of-the-teeth Thu, 27 May 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Verticals https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/verticals Blog 21 05 21 VerticalsBlog 21 05 21 VerticalsVerticals.An exercise in experimental composition

This was an exercise in experimental composition. I am generally respectful of the “rule of thirds” and other helpful concepts for artistic composition, but on this occasion I jettisoned eons of art history to try out a purely vertical layout. Using an ugly street lamp as the principal point of interest, framed by boring skyscrapers and allowing a construction crane and the Tour Montparnasse to compete with the Eiffel Tower, I took the risk of creating an unhappy visual jumble.

That said, it did not work well in the original colour treatment, so that Black & White conversion was needed to take out one dimension, so to speak, and create a more graphic effect focussed purely on the shapes. Luckily the sky was free of large cloud formations, which would also have detracted from the sobriety of the image, in my estimation.

The image does “read” left to right, I think, due to the height of the building on the left, the lamp and the building on the right, with the eye then travelling from right to left along the foot of the image and coming to rest on the details of the distant structures. The fact that one of them is the Eiffel tower is a kind of full stop for the meaning of the photograph.  

It works for me. What about you?

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D

Focal Length: 60mm

Drive Mode: Continuous

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

Format: Raw

Place : Esplanade de la Defense, Courbevoie/Puteaux.

Year: 2010

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Black & White Fine Art Nikon Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/verticals Thu, 20 May 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Ghostbusters https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/ghostbusters Blog 21 05 14 GhostbustersBlog 21 05 14 Ghostbusters

Dawn in Winter at the Ghostbusters Building: more exactly the apartment block at 55 Central Park West and 66th Street, New York. Featured in the climactic final scene of the film, it was designed by Schwartz & Gross in the Art Deco style and built in 1929.

I was fortunate to live on the 40th floor of an uglier building nearby, with heart-stopping views of Central Park in all weathers. This morning provided an atmospheric apparition of freezing fog seeping up from Central Park, while seemingly avoiding the spooky building. Was I shuddering with the cold or from fear?

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D

Focal Length: 35mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/15s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Tripod Mounted

Format: Raw

Place : 64th Street and Central Park West, New York

Year: 2008

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Central Park Fine Art Ghostbusters New York Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos snow φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/ghostbusters Thu, 13 May 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Trompe l’Oeil https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/trompe-l-oeil Blog 21 05 07 Turning TorsoBlog 21 05 07 Turning Torso

The Turning Torso apartment building in Malmo, Sweden was designed by Santiago Calatrava, who is not only an architect, but a sculptor. It was completed a year before I took the photograph and was inspired by one of his own sculptures of a human “Twisting Torso”. 

The oblique angle of the image to the lens is not the only reason that appears to make the floors and windows not be horizontal, but when viewed from far off, you can see clearly that the residents are in no fear of their furniture sliding out one side of the building. The effect is psychological and a magnificent example of trompe l’oeil. Fool the eye, in English.

Technical

Even using the 18mm option of my zoom lens, unless you photograph the building from a boat half a mile out in the Sound separating Malmo from Copenhagen, it is nearly impossible to observe the building far enough away to see that it is vertically and horizontally normal,.

Given the failing light, a tripod was imperative and in the absence of a cable release, I used the self-timer to avoid camera shake from my pressing the release button.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5/4.5 G IF-ED

Drive Mode: Self Timer

Focal Length: 18mm

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/22

Shutter Speed: 1/20s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Centre-weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 320

Format: Raw

Tripod mounted

Place : Malmo, Sweden

Year: 2006

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Fine Art Malmo Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos Santiago Calatrava Skane Sweden Turning Torso φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/5/trompe-l-oeil Thu, 06 May 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Fear Of Heights? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/fear-of-heights Blog 21 04 30 Hoover DamBlog 21 04 30 Hoover Dam

The camera had to hang over the parapet of the mighty Hoover Dam and peer into its depths with no visible means of support. Luckily, I did not do the same, since I used the self-timer to take delayed exposures, after I had braced the camera on the rim attached to a monopod. Equally, since I “self-insure”, I was also gripping tightly onto the camera strap lest thousands of dollars’ of equipment succumbed to gravity. I was pleased with the result.

Technical

Having resolved how to not  test out Newton’s theories using my equipment or myself, my main concern was to capture the depth and detail of the dam. The graphic quality was assured by the pharaonic scale of the structure and its generator buildings at the foot, as well as the colour palette offered by the rocks, the two-toned concrete of the dam and its buildings and the water in the spillway.

The minimum focal length of an 18-70mm zoom lens was ideal, in order to capture the width of the view, but a narrow aperture was indicated in order to maintain deep focus. This was a serious issue at 5pm in December, given that the light was dying. I therefore pumped up the ISO to 1250, but the indicated exposure was still “tripod slow” at 1/6s. So, there was nothing for it, but to take a stabilised exposure.

The rest was down to luck, good posture, a relaxed application of muscle strength and holding my breath. I poked the monopod over the edge and sought to be Zen, or more precisely, Samurai: as in  practising the disciplined drawing of a bow in the art of Kyudo. It worked for me. I hope it works for you.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon 18.0–70,0mm f/3.5-4.5

Focal Length: 18mm

Drive Mode: Self Timer

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/11

Shutter Speed: 1/6s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 1250

Mounted on a Monopod

Format: Raw

Place : Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Nevada

Year: 2007

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Hoover Dam Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/fear-of-heights Thu, 29 Apr 2021 22:05:00 GMT
The Camera Never Lies https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/the-camera-never-lies Blog 21 04 23 Camera Neve LiesBlog 21 04 23 Camera Neve Lies

This image is one of a set of three, a “Triptych” of runners on the path surrounding the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. Taken late afternoon in the Summer, directly into the sun, it provided a beautiful “black and white” opportunity to frame a fascinating silhouette, reminiscent of Balinese shadow puppetry.

However, if you view closely, you will see that image colour has not been suppressed and that the foliage remains green. Only pumping up the exposure, or the brightness, in post-processing will reveal the colours of the leaves and the runner.

Raw Photography

This is neither a reference to tough subjects nor to working while unclothed. I photograph using the “Raw” version of the camera’s files. These are uncompressed versions of the original image and retain all the data captured by the sensor. Although they are large, they offer the maximum amount of computational manipulation in post-processing.

On initial viewing, many photographs lose details in the extremes of dark and bright sections of the image. This can be due to the weakness of a camera versus a human being in handling “dynamic range: the difference between the “whitest whites and the “blackest blacks” which were captured. Professional cameras have made great advances in reducing this disparity between the abilities of the camera versus its photographer, resulting in technical decisions to prioritise lighter or darker elements, in order to obtain a satisfactory, overall optical solution.

Dodging and Burning

Similarly to my remarks about “Raw”, this should not be interpreted as riotous, incendiary behaviour in the city by the photographer. That said, it has traditionally taken place in a dark room, which may create some initial suspicion. Joking apart, it is the technique, used both in chemical and digital photography of manipulating the exposure in an image, to increase or decrease the luminosity of a section of the photograph. Burned-out highlights can be darkened so as to recover colour and detail and overly dark shadows can similarly be lightened.

Technical progress is slowly reducing the gap between our wondrously-made eyes and the capacity of lens, camera and silicon to match us in dynamic range. In the meantime, Raw capture and post-processing has saved my skin from poor technical choices or the limitations of my much-loved Nikons.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Focal Length: 125mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/7.1

Shutter Speed: 1/1250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand Held

Format: Raw

Place : Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Manhattan New York Nikon Nikon 70-200mm zoom Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/the-camera-never-lies Thu, 22 Apr 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Composition Rules OK? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/composition-rules-ok Blog 21 04 15 Composition Rules OKBlog 21 04 15 Composition Rules OK

Apart from the grafitti tag which originated in 1970’s Britain, there is a serious question to be asked concerning “rules” of composition. I am not qualified to make an academic critique of the many guidelines for framing an image, whether in photography or in other visual arts. However, having been fascinated since adolescence by the work of  painters, particularly artists of the Dutch schools and the Impressionists, I have schooled myself in an aesthetic which is deeply personal and very important to me. If it has to be characterised, I would call it “classic graphic”.

We are all emotionally satisfied or dissatisfied by images, whether or not we make a conscious analysis of them. It is either visually appealing or it is not, in ways which will vary for all of us as individuals. At first glance , it will be received as more or less peaceful or distracting because of its content, but subsequently it will touch the viewer at a deeper level, because of the way in which that content was portrayed.

Beauty is universal, I believe, but composition is a purely human discipline concerning how images of small segments of reality are constructed. Formal analysis identifies such solutions as: symmetry, balance, pattern, repetition, simplicity, complexity, inclusion, exclusion, the  Golden Ratio, the Rule of Thirds and, simply, the orientation of the camera. Each might contribute to making the work pleasing or displeasing to the viewer.

Personal Taste

I personally ignore these specific tools, trying to order the image according to my self-taught view of what is pleasing and “graphic”: my shorthand expression for impact, order and balance. I want the eye to flow into and around the image, led by decisions that I have made about how to create and then treat the content. The first decision is, of course, taken prior to image capture, where my aesthetic “juices” have been stimulated by sight of a subject, in anything from an  immense landscape down to an individual object. The image has to resonate with my personal aesthetic and “sing” in my mind. Any image that I choose to make, resonates with me as if it were visual music. It excites me even before I raise the camera to my eye. When I am “in the zone”, hours disappear without me being aware of it.

Choices

My challenge is how to successfully communicate it to others and express this personal visual satisfaction through the treatment I give it “in-camera”. Although this is the beginning of imposing technical limitations onto an idea, it can also result in the enhancement of a scene by the opportunity of using a different instrument than my own eyes. 

Given the possible range of options provided by the equipment I am carrying, this therefore starts with adjusting where I am to optimise the effect I need to achieve. For instance, absent a long lens, I would move “into” the scene, so as to capture it in a more tight frame. Moving around, even by only inches, turning a little and changing the height of the camera can create major benefits. On the other end of the spectrum, such moving may require a hike of many hours or require climbing walls or some street furniture. Finally, having decided to capture the image, the orientation of the camera itself has a major  impact on the scene.

When blessed by a large and heavy camera bag, many other visualizing options make themselves available, by using the characteristics of alternatives from small focal length, prime lenses to “large” focal length lenses and zooms. 

Cropping

Finally, the most subtle option is offered in post-processing, using the crop functions. In this case, I am betraying the example of Cartier-Bresson, my photographic guide, who would not stoop to such a procedure in order to save an image that was not perfect “in-camera”. Although I do not presume to attain his level of artistry, I have to admit my guilty secret that I immensely enjoy making these artistic decisions, using finely tuned software.

I am sure that anyone reading this could have extremely different views, while achieving wonderful results. If you do, please let’s start a conversation. 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Focal Length: 78mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/3.5

Shutter Speed: 1/15s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV

Metering: Centre-weighted average

ISO Sensitivity: 1250

Tripod mounted

Format: Raw

Place : La Grande Arche, La Défense, Paris

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Composition Fine Art Grande Arche Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/composition-rules-ok Thu, 15 Apr 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Millenium Saint Paul's https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/millenium-saint-pauls Blog 21 04 09 Millenium Saint PaulsBlog 21 04 09 Millenium Saint Pauls

Both St. Paul’s and the adjacent Millenium Bridge are architectural gems, complementing each other across 3 centuries of stylistic change. Given the important, historical lines of sight to the cathedral and the need for aesthetic sensitivity, a satisfying solution was found by building a bridge with “flat supports”, allowing a clear view of St. Pauls from the South Bank of the Thames. It was achieved by the inspired, triple combination of a design team consisting of architects, a sculptor and engineers.

After a famously “wobbly” start, perhaps due to the daring initial design, the structure was stabilised and Londoners and tourists alike have gained an exciting new pedestrian route from the Globe and the Tate Modern over to the City of London. Given the layout on each bank, the view in either direction is architecturally marvellous.

Iconic in Black & White

The choice of Black & White came from two criteria. I have always been moved by the wartime image of St. Pauls, standing defiantly amid clouds of smoke from the fires of bombing near misses. I only learned in researching this blog that the cathedral was, in fact, successfully hit by bombs three times between 1940 and 1941. The second was large enough to have caused massive structural damage, but it was defused, removed and blown up at a remote site. The artificers both received the George Cross for their courage. When I lived and worked in the vicinity of St. Pauls during the 1970’s, bombsites and ruined buildings still scarred the whole area.

My second consideration was the need to emphasise the visual contrast between the two structures. Draining out colour rendered the tones of the steel bridge more in line with the  stonework of the cathedral, allowing the eye to concentrate more on the shapes.  

Composition

The bridge was crowded with pedestrians, so rather than using a wide angle and capturing the direct line of sight across the bridge towards St. Paul’s, I opted for the narrower field of view of a long lens and no distracting people. This had the added optical advantage of “crowding” the distant church into a seemingly near relationship with the stanchions of the bridge.­­­ Using a narrow aperture gained enough sharpness from front to back to achieve a unified view.

This technical preference was enabled by strong light, such that the ISO could also be low, providing high quality, while using a relatively fast shutter speed. Given that the image was captured during the Winter, this was a happy piece of photographic luck.

Finally, I composed the image to connect the downward sweep of the bridge to the strong verticals of the cathedral. The eye is drawn both ways: down the Dome and up the bridge, or down the rails of the bridge and up to the cross. I hope that this combination pleases you as much as it did me. 

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Focal Length: 125mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/800s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Place : Central London

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Cathedral" Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Paul Grayson Paul's Photeinos St. φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/millenium-saint-pauls Thu, 08 Apr 2021 22:05:00 GMT
Roofs https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/roofs Blog 21 04 02 RoofsBlog 21 04 02 Roofs

Other people’s homes are always fascinating, so being able to observe them from the 40th floor of my apartment was a constant joy in New York. This view extends across 5 streets from W 65th to W 69th streets. The image is somewhat fussy, being full of detail, but I like the effect that it has, reminding me of a completed jigsaw puzzle.

This is helped by the fact that using a long focal length lens “flattens” the look of an image from the foreground to the background. I liked that effect in this image, since I was seeking to highlight the pattern, rather than indicate distance. Equally the very sharp focus configuration adds to the quality of “flatness”.

Technical

I improved the “reach” of my 200mm zoom lens with a 1.4x converter, allowing a theoretical increase to 280mm. Seeking a quality print meant limiting ISO to 250 and obtaining front-to-back focus led me to use the narrowest of apertures at f32. Despite excellent Summer light, this combination reduced the exposure speed to 1/100s. When the problem of exaggerated camera shake from viewing a distant subject through long focal length lens is added, the camera had to be stabilised on a tripod.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with attached Nikon AF-S Teleconverter 1.4x

Focal Length: 220mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/32

Shutter Speed: 1/100s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Tripod mounted

Place : 64th Street, New York

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Fine Art Manhattan Nikon Nikon 70-200mm zoom Nikon D300 Paul Grayson Photeinos roofs φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/4/roofs Thu, 01 Apr 2021 22:05:00 GMT
The Big Smoke https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/the-big-smoke Blog 21 03 26 Big SmokeBlog 21 03 26 Big Smoke

London was called this before they managed to eliminate the famous, coal-fired London smog, so popular with pre-war Directors of Sherlock Holmes and Jack The Ripper films. Fun fact, your humble blogger was born as a consequence of one of these events. My birth was triggered, when my chronically asthmatic mother was hospitalised with respiratory failure, while in the late stages of pregnancy. Luckily we both survived this unfortunate turn of events.

When I lived in New York for a few years, the constant sight of “smoke” pouring from the ground was always curious and visually interesting. This effect comes from 100 miles of pipes which pump heating steam into 1800 buildings throughout lower Manhattan. The steam that we see comes both from leaks and from the effect of ambient water landing on superheated pipes and being evaporated into the air. Summer or Winter, these clouds provided interesting street images, as New Yorkers go about their day, ignoring them.

Night Photography

Although I love trying to capture the strange effects of the night, I have been hindered, as are all photographers, by the relatively weak performance of cameras versus the human eye. However, digital cameras have gradually gained ground on our eyesight, by constant improvements in useable ISO, such that the camera I used for this 2008 image delivers useable images at its maximum, 3200 ISO. My current “go-to” body, the Nikon D850 allows image-taking up to ISO 25,600. Such sensitivities were unthinkable during the era of film, unless the photographer were in the military, a spy or a scientist.

Even now, not all combinations of high ISO and camera sensors are born equal and it is preferable to not tempt the photographic Fates by dialling ISO all the way up to the top.

Choosing Your Settings, Your Equipment And The Moment

The 1/250s shutter speed setting and slightly reduced 2,500 ISO may seem counter intuitive, but they were made possible for several reasons. The first was the overall ISO capability of the camera, but the second was the choice of lens. I most frequently use zoom lenses in the city, principally for the choices that they give in framing distant scenes and objects. They necessarily provide a narrow field of view for nearby subjects, less aperture flexibility and less optical quality than a prime lens. For these reasons, on this occasion I used the 60mm Nikon Macro lens, which is popular for close-up, portrait and copy work. Most importantly, it provides excellent optical quality at its widest aperture of F2.8. After experimentation with the lighting conditions, I was confident that forcing the camera to use a relatively fast speed, along with limiting the D300 to ISO 2,500, would provide good results even though the camera was then limited to an f2.8 aperture.

The final, and most critical factor, was the ambient light provided by the headlights of vehicles stopped in front of the pedestrian crossing. You can see the impact most clearly, image right, in the shadow of the pedestrian that is thrown on the steam.

New Yorkers

It only remained to lurk nearby, Cartier-Bresson like, until New York obligingly delivered some interesting denizens into the viewfinder. My needs were met by the arrival of the woman, bundled up for the New York freeze, happily in a very visible jacket, and clutching bags of food or fashion, I know not which.

She seems to have the determined “get out of my way”, focussed attitude of most New Yorkers, perhaps even lonely. The black and white rendering tries to give a Raymond Chandler twist to the scene and harks back to my references to the emotional impact of thriller films of the 1930’s. I hope you liked it.

 

Settings 

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: AF-Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D

Focal Length: 60mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Continuous

Exposure Mode: Shutter Speed Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 2500

Format: Raw

Stabilised on Monopod

Time & Place : 2008, Manhattan, New York.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Manhattan Nikon Nikon 60mm Mikro-Nikkor Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/the-big-smoke Thu, 25 Mar 2021 23:05:00 GMT
The Light At The End OF The Tunnel? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel Blog 21 03 19 Light at end of TunnelBlog 21 03 19 Light at end of Tunnel

Another topical moment arose, just as I prepared to write this blog, because France just announced yet another month of “Le Confinement”. My mood chose this image as a symbol of mixed feelings: where are we headed? How long must we go on? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? 

 

The small, disappearing, figure of the young woman silhouetted in the entrance/exit to the alley seems symbolic of our vulnerabilities during this long journey into the unknown. Are we even sure of whether she is coming or going? Is she entering the light, or leaving it? Does this journey have to be lonely? Will she be alright?

 

Aesthetic choices.

 

I am driven by a number of visual “tics” which never fail to inspire me. It is an additional pleasure when several of these “tics” line up with one another, as in this one image, which combines my love of: silhouettes, stark perspectives, the built environment and architectural detail. Others are: graphic shapes, shadows, the night; water and abstracts. You can see many examples of these in the galleries of this website.

 

La Loi 

 

At first, my decision to photograph people in silhouette was a necessity, driven by draconian French laws on personal privacy and the right to protect use of a person’s image. Absent very limited journalistic exceptions, it is forbidden to sell any image of an identifiable person without their permission and, unless a photographer uses models under contract, or harasses uncomprehending passers-by to sign releases, photographing in urban environments can be commercially problematic.

 

It is a complex topic. Here is a 2012  article on the subject by my fellow NUJ photo-journalist Nigel Dickinson: 

https://photothisandthat.co.uk/2012/02/15/the-french-privacy-law/

 

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

 

This necessity gradually became a preference, as I enjoyed the both the technical challenge and the resultant visual impact of creating anonymous stories. Conscious of the anonymity rule, I have to exercise the kind of patience exemplified by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who would habitually wait at an aesthetically suitable spot until happenstance completed the desired effect by producing a brief appearance by a passer-by.

 

Finally, shadows create a timeless mood, perfect for capturing a little of the essence of a corner of La Serenissima.

 

Settings 

 

Camera: Nikon D850

Lens: AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 56mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/30s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Continuous

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Stabilised on Monopod

Time & Place : 2019, Venice, Italy.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Fine Art Nikon D850 Paul Grayson Photeinos Venice φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel Thu, 18 Mar 2021 23:05:00 GMT
"Celebration Time - C'mon!" https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/-celebration-time---cmon Blog 21 03 12 CelebrationBlog 21 03 12 Celebration

Today I join Kool and the Gang in their exuberant 1981, chart-topping hit “Celebration”, because I just received my first Covid vaccination. Normality, here I come! Slowly and carefully, I admit, but the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer a train coming the other way. Yeah!!

Harlem Nights

Which brings me to this image, which I came across, after church on a beautiful Summer Sunday in 2007. Clearly there had been a party on Saturday night and, instead of the usual pairs of basketball shoes festooning the trees and traffic lights at intersections, someone had created a wonderful decoration of helium-filled balloons and attached them to the traffic lights for all to see. Sadly, I could not decipher the silver numbers and letters to know the exact occasion or the age of the birthday boy or girl. I am glad to share it with you on my own joyful day.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5/4.5 G IF-ED

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 70mm

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/7.1

Shutter Speed: 1/1000s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Centre-weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Hand held

Place : Harlem, New York.

Year: 2007

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Celebration Covid Vaccination Fine Art Harlem New York Nikon D70 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/-celebration-time---cmon Thu, 11 Mar 2021 23:05:00 GMT
Global Warming? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/global-warming Blog 21 03 21 Global WarmingBlog 21 03 21 Global Warming

Has the jungle reclaimed Manhattan, or did I benefit from an unusual juxtaposition of architecture and plants? I took this photo on the roof terrace of a reception centre in mid-town. It was Summer and the terrace had been decorated for the season, to create a carnival atmosphere, using exotic plants.

I was moving around, scouting interesting angles of the street below and even reflections in the serving dishes on the tables around the edge of the terrace, when I noticed the Empire State Building framed by the palm branches. It was 15 years ago and the debate on Global Warming had not heated up to the extent it has now, if you permit the bad joke, but I was attracted by the quirky image, which seemed to suggest that New York had been transposed to the Tropics.

The Composition

The sky and the lighting were the final confusing effect, psychologically moving the building down the Continent from the U.S. East Coast to Yucatan. I was lucky that the positioning of the palm trees at each end of the long terrace allowed me to frame the Empire State with a canopy above the viewer and provide a long view to the forest floor at the foot of the building. It was an image glimpsed on entering a clearing, as amazing as stumbling across a lost Mayan Temple.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

I took this photograph with my very first digital camera, a Nikon D70. It was Nikon’s first “consumer-level” digital product and was sold as a “kit-package”, with the lens which I used for this photograph. Notwithstanding the modesty of the equipment, the combination of wide angle lens, excellent light and ideal viewpoint were perfect for creating the image. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5/4.5

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 31mm

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Format: Raw

Hand held

Place : Manhattan, New York.

Year: 2006

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Empire Ste Building Fine Art Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/3/global-warming Thu, 04 Mar 2021 23:15:00 GMT
75cm and 350 Million Years https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/75cm-350-million-years-ago Blog 21 02 26 DragonflyBlog 21 02 26 Dragonfly

A Wonder Of Nature

Dragonflies are a wonder of nature, which so perfected themselves during the Permian era that they have hardly changed form since then, except for one thing – size. They were then the largest insects to ever fly, with a wingspan of nearly 1 meter. Our beautiful, frequently shimmering neighbours of today are smaller, but no less impressive.

They are perhaps the best fliers in nature, able to fly fast, far and in any direction: up, down, forward, left, right and even backward. They achieve 4G acceleration speeds and generate 9G in sharp turns!

Their eyes have a 360 degree view and in a sense they see in slow motion, because while we see only 60 images per second, a dragonfly can process 200. To achieve that, around 80% of their brain is devoted to its sight. They endlessly excite me and fascinate me. I always try and photograph them when they are in view. 

Glad to Capture One At Rest

Given their agility, you may have become very frustrated, like me, trying to capture them in flight. You will share my relief when I am offered the joy of photographing one of them at rest. Luckily, they love to sunbathe and tend to rest for long enough for me to scramble the camera’s settings to suit the moment.

I was photographing a ruined, traditional farmhouse on the beautiful Estonian island of Hiiumaa on a hot, sky-blue Summer’s day. The house in the forest was straight out of Hansel and Gretel and it’s garden was wild. Perfect dragonfly territory! I was concentrating on the weather-worn ancient door, (See my earlier blog from January 2017 at : 
https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/texture ) when this beautiful gift of nature settled on the wall.

Technical

On this occasion, there was no need to engage in the above-mentioned scramble to reset the camera, notwithstanding the change of emphasis from capturing a slow-moving building to imaging one of nature’s speedsters. Bright, Summer sunlight was my best friend, which meant that I had already set an aperture of f/10, ideal for picking out detail of the texture of the wood – and also the delicate form of a winged insect .

Since I was in my preferred “art” mode of Aperture Priority, I was lucky that the strong ambient light delivered a speed of 1/500s, despite that very narrow aperture. I do not remember whether I also helped in my need for speed by dialling up the ISO to 400. It is very probable, because I would normally prefer to image static objects at low ISO. I note that the photo taken of the door in my above-referenced blog was shot at ISO 100, so I think that I may have indeed taken such a quick and useful decision.

I was probably about 10 metres away from the subject, which, although very visible, was not particularly large in the viewfinder, notwithstanding the 200mm zoom. In post-processing, this required a quite severe crop, probably of 50% of the of the final image, but I could rely on the resolution capability of the camera’s 46 MP full-frame sensor to maintain detail. I hope you like the result.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 200mm

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.3 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Format: Raw

Hand held

Place : Hiiumaa island, Estonia

Year: 2016

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Dragonfly Fine Art Hiiumaa Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/75cm-350-million-years-ago Wed, 24 Feb 2021 23:15:00 GMT
To Drone Or Not To Drone? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/to-drone-or-not-to-drone Blog 21 02 19 San Francisco BayBlog 21 02 19 San Francisco Bay

There are many beautiful images being made using drones and many heretofore impossible angles of view being discovered, giving us a whole new perspective on both nature and news gathering. It only seems like yesterday that every photo  show I attended started to have enclosed drone pens for flying demonstrations and exhibitor stalls selling “flying” instruction courses. Now I am seeing major contests awarding prizes to drone-derived photographic excellence.

Aerial is Aerial

That said, “there is nothing new under the sun”. Aerial photography has been with us since hot air balloons. The Professional Aerial Photographers Association, cutely known as PAPA, relates that “The first known aerial photograph was taken in 1858 by French photographer and balloonist, Gaspar Felix Tournachon, known as "Nadar"” and the oldest surviving aerial photograph dates back to 1860. See:

https://papa.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=808138&module_id=158950

Followers of my blog know that I am fascinated with the opportunities offered by the window seats in commercial aircraft. I love to gaze at the terrain and try to guess where I am on any plane journey. My joy is complete if the conditions are good enough to also use my camera. It constantly amazes me that this produces fascinating images, no matter how high the plane is flying. I am increasingly anxious nowadays at the prevalence of electronic window dimmers, which make indulging my passion much more difficult than blinds allow me to do, given the annoying intervention of aircraft attendants to allow fellow passengers to sleep or watch movies.

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Until Covid times, I have been used to landing or taking off from SFO, up to 6 times a year, passing over the massive salt marshes surrounding the southern section of the estuary. They are particularly prominent at the San Jose end of the bay. Whether in the air or on land, I do know the way to San Jose and habitually whistle the eponymous song while travelling there, much to the aggravation of anyone around me.

The drainage patterns and strange colours create wonderful abstract images. They seem ever-changing, according to the season and the light. I have no understanding of the processes creating these sights, but it is a beautiful, unintended consequence of man’s efforts to control nature. I look forward to it every time that I know we are on the descent to SFO.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5–4.5G IF ED

Drive Mode: Continuous

Focal Length: 44mm

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/4.2

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Speed Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.7 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 1000

Format: Raw

Hand held in aircraft seat

Place : San Francisco Bay

Year: 2014

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Bay Area Drone Fine Art Paul Grayson Photeinos Salt Marshes Wetlands φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/to-drone-or-not-to-drone Thu, 18 Feb 2021 23:15:00 GMT
Covid, Flood, Snow, Ice and Pigeons https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/covid-flood-snow-ice-and-pigeons Blog 21 02 12 Le ZouaveBlog 21 02 12 Le Zouave

Le Zouave

The Alma bridge in Paris is named after a French Crimean War victory. It hosts “ Le Zouave”, the sole survivor of the  four original military statues which decorated the previous version of the bridge. They commemorated regiments which fought in the Crimea. Le Zouave sits on one of the bridge’s pillars, facing upstream. 

Famously, as the unofficial measure of how dangerous is the level of flooding on the Seine, it has become the focus of, river-watching, concerned, Parisians. In the historic flood of 1910, the river reached to its shoulders, high above the normal level, given that the statue is itself 5 meters tall, not including its plinth. The highest I have personally seen the Zouave suffer, was with water up to his hips in 2016 and 2018 (See also my Blog post of June 11, 2016 at 
https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/6/zuave). This year it reached his shins, which still measures 4 meters above the normal level of the water. My non-statistical assessment, that the frequency of flooding is accelerating, is an uncomfortable thought, given that I myself live in the most vulnerable flood plain of the Seine.

Yesterday

Attracted by the combination of snow and the river in flood, I ventured out into sub-zero temperatures, wearing double clothing, double gloves and double masks. With the addition of a backpack of photographic equipment, the Covid-induced problem of my glasses fogging up due to wearing masks and the fact that I have had little exercise during confinement, I struggled to spot, compose and take photographs. My destination was always the Zouave.

I went up onto the bridge and bent over the parapet, looking down on it perpendicularly. Having previously nearly suffered embarrassing equipment failures on overhangs, I was careful to ensure that my camera strap was round my neck and that the lens hood was firmly attached, only to discover that the chin strap on my furry hat was so loose so that it nearly fell into the river. No fear of losing my glasses though, since I take them off when using the viewfinder, which has corrected optics. Equally, reading of many cases of suicide-by-selfie ensured that I kept my weight carefully distributed and my feet on the ground. 

The Ultimate test!

It was then that I discovered the ultimate aggravation for the poor Zouave. Pandemic, flood, snow and ice were, quite literally, capped by the evidence of bird feet in the snow, including the final insult of a waste disposal nature. As always, he seemed to rise above the occasion, accepting every indignity with calm, patience and courage – particularly the latter  - given that he also has no protection from the mass of fast-moving, floating materials, some of which are large and heavy. I am grateful for his example and proof of survivability for those of us living in the danger zone. He matters to me, as my Parisian neighbour and comforter.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D850

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G  ED

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 38mm

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Exposure Mode: Auto

Exposure Compensation: +0.3 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Hand Held

Place : Pont de l’Alma, Paris

Year: 2021

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Le Zouave Nikon Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Pont de l'Alma φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/covid-flood-snow-ice-and-pigeons Fri, 12 Feb 2021 13:07:43 GMT
Seeing Red https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/seeing-red Blog 21 02 05 Seeing Red 1Blog 21 02 05 Seeing Red 1Copyrighted Digital Image

Photographing live music, particularly Jazz, is one of my special interests, although it only came about because I married Joan Minor, the Jazz vocalist (Look her up on her website and Facebook). Never previously a jazz aficionado, I came to love these events, which are a luxuriously intimate feast of: small venues, enthusiastic and expert fans, mesmerising performers and - of course - enchanting music.

This venue was the much-missed, St. Nick’s Pub on St. Nicholas’ Avenue in Harlem, New York, which closed in 2011 after making 80 years of musical history.

The one thing which disturbs me, but only because I am photographing performances, is the obsession of stage technicians with red lighting. I understand its widespread use for its emotive, moody, stage effect, but the optical impact is harsh and destructive to colour images, not to say ugly. 

Post processing process: No Crop

It is difficult to find a clear view of the stage or to be physically stable in small venues, among agitated, excited audience members and to avoid being jostled by servers taking and delivering orders. The event photog owes respect for audience and performers too, so I take care to not use flash, nor make camera noise at intimate, quiet performance moments. Choosing just when to capture an image is therefore frequently not optimal. That said, it is very satisfying to capture a close up, straight out of the camera, requiring no crop, as happened here.

However, the photo was virtually unusable. Here is how I treat such images. This is the original, with blown out highlights, poor detail and garish colour:

Blog 21 02 05 Seeing Red 2Blog 21 02 05 Seeing Red 2Copyrighted Digital Image

Conversion to Black and White

In my processing software, Capture One Pro 21, I ticked the Black & White conversion box and pulled down the slider 20% on the red channel. This restored the definition on skin, beard and textiles, gave the small ‘catch lights” extra clarity and rendered the image useable. It also enabled other minor corrections.

Heal layer: white spots on jacket

A few white spots were visible on the performer’s jacket. Although only a mild imperfection these were a distraction, so I applied a “heal” layer to 9 spots and they disappeared.

Sharpening layer

Since I never apply “in-camera” sharpening, some general improvement is always needed when shooting Raw. The shallow depth of field arising from using maximum camera aperture of f/2.8 on a zoom lens made this more critical. The camera’s focussing “nailed” the plane of focus on the eyes, but even so, I felt that capturing the full impact of the image required extra attention to them. I added a specific sharpening layer on the eyes only, which had the additional benefit of emphasising the small “catch lights”.

Finally, the lens/aperture combination threw the stage lights behind the subject’s head completely out of focus into a satisfying, abstract, soft, “bokeh” effect.

I was happy that “post-processing” had enabled a satisfying image, notwithstanding the actual environmental conditions.  

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Vibration Reduction: On

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 140mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Format: Raw

Hand Held

Place : St. Nick’s Pub, Harlem, New York

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Jazz Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos St. Nick's Pub https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/2/seeing-red Thu, 04 Feb 2021 23:15:00 GMT
Is This Kitsch? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/is-this-kitsch Blog 21 01 29 Eiffel KitschBlog 21 01 29 Eiffel KitschCopyrighted Digital Image

All That Glitters…?

This pile of little Eiffel Towers was on sale outside a souvenir shop nearby to the massive real thing. Their daring and, may I say, non-representative colour scheme glittered and glowed in the summer sunlight. No-one seemed to want to buy any of these precious, carefully engineered, scale-model, evocations of an iconic example of engineering skill and aesthetic daring. One reason for the lack of interest, might  be that 30% of the world’s population probably already has one? All that said, I was immediately attracted to photograph them. Why?

More Is More

In contrast to my ironic introduction, I personally view each of these souvenirs as kitsch, because they are colourful, cheap, plastic, mass-produced and a poor evocation of the real thing. When it comes to painting, sculpture or home decoration, my definition of art may be your kitsch, or vice versa, but I dare to say that we would both agree that these little touristic reminders are in poor taste? And yet…

Curiously, I felt another aesthetic arising from the very excess of so many of them jumbled together. In some way, their burning colours cancelled each other out. On an individual basis each one was garish, but like Hindu religious costumes, the daring juxtaposition of bright, primary colours was glorious.

Equally, the pell-mell distribution blended a shape which has been burned into our collective memories of Paris into something completely abstract. The eye no longer focusses on one image of totality, but rather flits around the image, seeing only pieces of the whole and burrows into “caverns measureless to man”, to steal a phrase. 

All the while their nature still screamed “I’m the Eiffel Tower, look at me! See me in ways you never can in real life, not even with a drone camera: sideways, upside down, top down, bottom up and upside down”. All at the same time. A fantasy.

Eye Of The Beholder

I well understand that my experience of this visual offering is personal and perhaps does not “travel” – unlike the purchased souvenirs. It flows from a curious eye, seeing the environment in slices, like a film director using a Director’s viewfinder to reduce the scene to what will be found in-camera.

Being a photographer trains a person to “envision”, to choose parts of the viewed world and even to mentally turn them in three dimensions, to try and portray them in a particularly interesting or artistic way. Above all it is a capacity to see particular qualities in objects and/or juxtapositions which give them meaning when connected.

I believe that each photographer has his or her own sensitivity, based on their purpose in photographing, their response to each moment and their assessments of how, or whether, the scene meets their needs. I am also deeply aware that, when faced with the same circumstances, I can either feel inspired to make multiple impactful images or I might respond weakly, depending on my emotional state at the time. How is it for you? I can only encourage an effort to feed the habit of “emotionally looking”, as opposed to only “seeing in passing”. It is a practice which joins heart and eye to the finger pressing the shutter release, releasing joy.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 G ED

Vibration Reduction: None

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 60mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Hand Held

Place : Eiffel tower Paris

Year: 2014

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved
 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) D850 Eiffel Kitsch Nikon Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Tower φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/is-this-kitsch Thu, 28 Jan 2021 23:01:00 GMT
Capture and Composition https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/capture-and-frame Blog 21 01 22 Capture and FrameBlog 21 01 22 Capture and FrameCopyrighted Digital Image

Capture

As much as I would love to emulate Henri Cartier-Bresson, my photographer icon, I am incapable of implementing his policy of: if it’s not perfect ‘as shot’ then it is unusable. Having viewed some of his contact sheets in exhibitions and observed his rigorous process of choosing images, I witnessed the amazing fact that he refused to allow his images be manipulated in the darkroom. His images were either useable “as is” or not at all.

This was only possible because perfection flowed from his rare, combined talents of: technical mastery, choice of subject, instinctive composition and, perhaps most importantly, patience. I can humbly state that I share some of the first three, but definitely not the last.

Given his avoidance of the options which were made possible in the darkroom, I do wonder how many stunning images were left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Perhaps this may become the topic of a future exhibition at the Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson in Paris? Although I imagine that they would never dare to betray a foundational principle – no pun intended – of their eponymous subject, I would pay a lot of money to see it.

A Lesser Mortal

I, on the other hand and to the degree possible, consciously frame my captures to allow some adjustment in the digital darkroom. This basically means opening up the area of the capture beyond the “perfect” minimum necessary. I do try to follow the spirit of my mentor’s example and not overdo it, but, as I have previously written, I love post-processing and many of the possibilities it affords to fine-tune images. Thus, after technical adjustments for sharpness, light and colour, I pay particular attention to cropping for composition. 

Resolution and Cropping

I mentioned “to the degree possible” in reference to captures where a sudden opportunity does not allow a premeditated choice of equipment or settings.  Such a case might be the sudden appearance of a moving object in the distance, where the best that can be done is snatching an image “on the fly”. In order to be useable, such an image will most likely need to be heavily cropped, with all the deterioration in quality which that implies.

However, my latest D850 camera body gives me a major advantage in such a situation, due to the resolving power of its 45.7 Megapixel sensor, combined with the excellent resolution from using Nikon lenses. Even heavy cropping can produce remarkably sharp and useable images, obviously with a trade-off on the maximum viewable and/or print size.

Unfortunately, although the lenses on this occasion were Nikon, the sensor on the D300 I was using in 2008 was only 12.3 MP, so no luck there! I had to capture any subject fully in the frame.

Bird Watching

I am not a bird watcher, do not use ultra-telephoto lenses and am not trained in the expertise needed to capture such fast-moving, beautiful creatures. That said, during a visit to the beach in Cancun, I was near where some birds were flying around an area of interesting fencing. I had a sense that the combination of the two had potential and took a series of images as the birds settled and took off. I framed the fencing in a shape I found satisfying, creating a left-to-right triangle and shot the birds as they came and went.

The late afternoon light was excellent, so that when I adjusted the speed up to 1/1600s, I was able to maintain the aperture setting of f/9. I felt this was necessary, given the level of my speed photography skills and helped to keep focus in following moving objects. Nevertheless, the images were poorly lit, but I do love silhouettes and the final effect pleased me.

Due to my lack of training in the bird-watching department, only this image out many was useable and provided me with a potentially satisfying composition. This was not the case in-camera, but I looked forward to adjusting it later.

Breaking from Henri’s philosphy

The following, original version of the image shows the source of my preferred composition above. As stated, I first adjusted exposure and focus to suit my taste and then concentrated on composition.

Blog 21 01 22 Capture and Frame 2Blog 21 01 22 Capture and Frame 2Copyrighted Digital Image

My Thinking

For me, the prime element in the image needed to be the fencing. After experimenting with different options, I was most attracted by emphasising the diagonal of the fencing, which had attracted my eye at capture. This was best achieved by using a vertical frame. Equally the space inhabited by the bird created a pleasing shape around it.

The crop had the secondary benefit if improving the viewability of both bird and fencing, allowing a subtle sense of the colours of the fence and body of the bird.

Finally, the elongated shape of the bird in flight, its trailing talons and speed-blurred wingtips were a perfect counterpoint to the even curves of the fencing. I had found my most impactful choice from the opportunities offered by the image.

The proportions are not perfect. The fence lies below a diagonal of the rectangle and the bird is not centred, but for me, there is movement  from top to bottom, emphasising the effort to escape the ground in the leap from the fence. I find it pleasing overall and my eye is drawn to study the different elements and remember a beautiful moment in a peaceful place

Technical

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Vibration Reduction: Off

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 210mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Format: Raw

Hand Held

Place : Cancun Mexico

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/capture-and-frame Thu, 21 Jan 2021 23:02:49 GMT
Bokeh Telling A Story https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/bokeh-telling-a-story Blog 21 01 14 BokehBlog 21 01 14 Bokeh

Bokeh

I love the word “bokeh”, both because it is uniquely photographic and because it describes something very subtle and beautiful, absent in other art. One definition is “the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image”. Photographers discuss the “quality” of bokeh produced by different lenses, which speaks to the personal, aesthetic response of individuals to what is a purely technical effect. Different eyes see “good” and bad” bokeh, given that the effect differs according to the manufacturer and the lens used for the photograph.

In researching this blog, I learned that the origin of the word is from the Japanese word “boke”, meaning blur, or haze. Even more interesting is the notion that the Japanese linguistic roots can also refer to mental states, such as being mentally hazy or having a poker face. Wonderful! I was amazed to learn that it only passed into photographic usage as recently as 1997. The technical characteristics are fascinating and, if you are interested, you can study these at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

 

Impact

I am not, in general, enamoured of pin-sharp images, which is possibly the reason that I am  not much engaged with journalistic, commercial or “street photography”. All that said, this is just a very personal, professional and artistic preference. I find that bokeh elicits a strong visual response in me and enhances my appreciation of the overall impact of an image.

Which brings me to this photograph. Captured last Summer in the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, it  tells a story, starting with the photographer: My father was  a Polish-Jewish immigrant to France, who arrived in Paris in 1927, when he was 7 years old. Many of his family were rounded-up by the Vichy France government’s police, commencing in 1942, and dozens of them were deported to Auschwitz in 1943. Only one of them, a second cousin, came back in 1945. My father survived in hiding, like 2/3 of the rest of his family, protected – this time – by other courageous, moral, French people. He joined the Polish Division of the British army outside Paris on 31 October 1944 and was sent for training in Scotland, where I was born a few years later.

 

The Heart And  The Eye

This tombstone is of an American Jew who died in June 1944, so that my father could come out of hiding, when the Paris insurrection rose up against the occupying German army in August. I don’t know if this soldier died on one of the beaches, or during the fierce fighting which raged for weeks afterwards among the fields and hedges of Normandy, but my heart was deeply touched to find him resting there, as I wandered through this sad, peaceful and glorious place.

With an aperture of f4, I consciously “bokéd” the surrounding crosses on the graves of the Christian dead, his comrades in arms, in order to focus on his unique significance in this place at this time. The crosses stretch out behind him to the horizon in even rows, in their thousands and tens of thousands, but the significance of him being there was my focus and my ‘out-of-focus”.

Other Jewish soldiers survived the beaches and were able to provide critical skills from their European origins to the war effort, particularly as German interpreters and also as rescuers for their own relations whom they could find and help in the aftermath of liberation. One such American came to seek out my family in Paris. Some eventually took part in the liberation of the extermination camps.

The point of the Bokeh in this image is not to diminish the significance of the other dead, but to place them in a common, supporting context behind the Jew who is the subject of my thoughts. They all died together and are honoured as one “band of brothers”.

Telling Stories

I appreciate the opportunity, as an image-maker, to create a thought-provoking experience which tells, not one, but many stories, depending on the point of view of the viewer.

Technical

Settings

Camera: Nikon D850

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR., with Nikon AFS TC-14EII 1.4x attached = 280mm equivalent. 

Vibration Reduction: Off

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 280mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/4

Shutter Speed: 1/3200s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Format: Raw

Supported by Monopod

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 70-200mm Art' Beaches' Nikon Nikon D850 Paul Grayson Photeinos VR zoom" φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/bokeh-telling-a-story Thu, 14 Jan 2021 23:30:00 GMT
In Need of Repair https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/in-need-of-repair
Blog 21 01 08 In Need of RepairBlog 21 01 08 In Need of RepairCopyrighted Digital Image

A sad day for America, but with this reminder that old things need maintenance and can be repaired.

 

Settings 

 

Camera: Nikon D850

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

Vibration Reduction: On

Drive Mode: Continuous

Focal Length: 105mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/1250s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Speed Priority AE

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Format: Raw

Hand held in a fast-moving vehicle

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) φωτεινος "Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom" "Paul Grayson" Insurrection January 2021 Nikon" Photeinos USA https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2021/1/in-need-of-repair Thu, 07 Jan 2021 21:31:29 GMT
A 2020 Wink to Willy Ronis https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2020/12/a-2020-wink-to-willy-ronis Blog 21 01 01 Covid RonisBlog 21 01 01 Covid Ronis

 

Paris In The Year of Covid

 

Since I paused this blog in January 2018, the world has changed, but Art has not. My camera and some equipment has changed, but my eye has not. Paris has changed, but children have not. As I recommit to producing my weekly, Friday image for you each weekend, I offer this year-end reflection on the passing of time. 

A child plays football in the middle of one of the busiest streets for fast-moving vehicles in Paris. In case of interrogation by the police, I have my written, dated and timed permit nestling in my wallet. I am still within the 1-hour permitted for being outside and less than 1 kilometer from home. This is the new normal during the first of two total lockdowns of the City of Lights this year.

 

I am not Ronis

I live in Paris, largely because I fell in love with it in 1971, as a recently-graduated tourist on a tightly-budgeted weekend break from London. This was my second visit, following a sadder occasion in December 1962, when my father came home to say his last goodbyes. Paris was strange to me then: freezing cold, snowy, covered in soot and terrorised by the OAS, who were fighting to keep Algeria a province of France. My childish heart was not impressed, not least because of the time of grieving which was creeping up on me.

In ’71, however, my now adult mind saw the beauty everywhere, fascinating history on every corner and a glimmer of what “savoir vivre” can mean in day-to-day living, which tempted my senses. I can still smell in memory the mysterious vanilla-like odour that used to pervade the Metro, allegedly a melange of burnt rubber from the train tyres and Gauloises cigarettes. As in marriage, much has changed, but I am still very much in love, having accumulated 23 years as a Parisian during three different stays.

Paradoxically, although I love the idea of Paris which Willy Ronis portrayed and while his images are iconic, I have a nagging, disrespectful feeling that they are somehow too styled to be digestible. A touch kitsch, if you like. That said, I do not deny the sincerity of his poetic gaze nor do I see them as having been staged, such as is suspected about Doisneau’s famous “kiss”.

Perhaps my childhood sense of the dark underbelly of La Ville Lumiere”, from where dozens of my family were deported into nothingness in 1943 persists in my choice to photograph the place, rather than the people, as he did.   

 

The Image

Which brings me to the exception in today’s image. In the midst of the strangest year of my existence, with the city I love struggling with a tiny, ferocious foe, I left home, having been indoors for months with only the company of my beloved wife. Covid isolation and fear of loss initiated a desire to reach out to others and technology rose magnificently to this bizarre challenge, so I was, and remain, in closer contact with many more people than previously. This is a joy and a gift of 2020.

Being physically in someone’s presence also became a more desired experience, particularly the chance to share the innocence, joy and imagination of children.

As I strolled around a nearly empty capital I came across this little boy, unaffected by the strangeness of an empty Place de La Concorde, nor of its grandeur, but simply joyful that he could play in the middle of the road.

Even as I captured the image, my visual memory made me  aware that I was having a Ronis moment. For once, I experienced his Parisian “moment decisive” and shared in his desire to capture a glimpse of something that makes this city special. In that moment I was able to wink at his photographic achievements and respect his memory.  

 

The Year Of New Beginnings

The past year has been a true “memento mori” and I have resolved, to step out of my recent monastic practice of “le sixième art” and share myself and my work with you, in the hope that you will receive some of the joy that that this passion has given me for a lifetime.

 

Settings 

Camera: Nikon D850

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

Vibration Reduction: Off

Focal Length: 70mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/1250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Format: Raw

Hand held

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2020 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 2020 Boy Concorde de Football la Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Place Ronis φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2020/12/a-2020-wink-to-willy-ronis Thu, 31 Dec 2020 18:42:12 GMT
The Reason For The Season https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2019/4/the-reason-for-the-season Notre Dame 1Notre Dame 1COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

The tragedy of last night’s inferno has pressed me back into action with a new blog. One of the sensuous privileges of being a Parisian is the daily serendipity of walking past innumerable sites/sights that make me stop in wonder and delight to enjoy beauty and history, art and daring aesthetics in a city that always surprises. The City of Light delivers this, by day or by night. 

Such a moment overcame me one cold, bright January night, when I was crossing the “Parvis” of Notre Dame on my way home. It was built to stop you in your tracks with a “wow” moment; teach you about the beliefs of the constructors through its imagery and symbolism, then to draw your eyes, your mind and your heart upwards in contemplation of the Divine. My personal response was to stop and try and capture part of my emotions in images.

Until we live long enough to see the dismantling of the Chernobyl style “sarcophagus” that will likely shield Notre Dame from the elements until it is restored to stability and architectural health, we will have to make do with our memories of our visits and our photographs. Here are my thoughts and my images of my special night in 2017.

It starts with the above-shown statement of kingship lining the façade above the doors, an effort to impress on the pilgrim the power, wealth, majesty and anointed legitimacy of France’s secular rulers. 

Notre Dame 2Notre Dame 2COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

However reigning over this stands the spiritual power of the Virgin and Child, guarded by angels and heralding the revelation of the Reason for the Season and the reason for the building to be revealed in glory inside. The rogue’s gallery of kings gives place for a poetic riot in stone and spaces, carvings and glass, pillars and arches.


Notre Dame 3Notre Dame 3COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

Walls and buttresses thrusting upwards like a mighty fortress give a hint of the power of the Lord of Hosts, the Almighty, with gargoyle cannons jutting out to fend off all foes.

Notre Dame 4Notre Dame 4COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

What fears inhabited the builders of this gargantuan structure, unprotected by crenellated, protective walls, guardrooms, armouries or artillery? Surrounded by the gallery of dead kings, faith seemed to balk at the promises of divine protection and, rather than turn to a Golden calf, tried its hand instead at stone monsters and ferocious hounds.  


Notre Dame 5Notre Dame 5COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

Try as they might to take the limelight, the kings are always overseen by angels and archangels, saints and even sinners, who crowd the building, above and below them, as if they owned the place too. Although honoured above the massive doors, each carrying their own major part of the story of salvation, the building itself always soars above them, writing its own story of wonder, power, creative expression and beauty beyond their regal limits.


Notre Dame 6Notre Dame 6COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

Deep in the shadow of the portals a riot of humanity struggles to grab your attention to their particular part of the Biblical story: a heaving mass of saints and sinners, prophets and monks, angels and archangels, all constrained in the tramlines of their particular narrative.  


Notre Dame 7Notre Dame 7COPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

Finally, a deep dive into the murky waters of these artful and oh-so-human expressions of the struggle of faith and hope in the promise of eternal life, which brings the agony and anxiety of this ever-present struggle into focus. Hands grasp temples in painful memories of regretted actions, or cover the face in shamed embarrassment at sins committed.

All of this before you cross that portal and enter the hallowed, soaring, incense-filled blow to the senses within…We hope for the opportunity to do that again, before we find out the truth of all these spiritual stories for ourselves… 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art church gothic night Nikon D850 Notre Dame Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2019/4/the-reason-for-the-season Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:48:53 GMT
Perspectives https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/perspectives Corinth CanalCorinth CanalCOPYRIGHT 2012 Paul Grayson AMDG

Drawing In The Eye

The Corinth Canal is visually powerful, and an impressive example of engineering determination. Completed in 1883 it was an economic failure almost from the start, because it bankrupted the original builders and rapidly proved uninteresting to commercial traffic due to its narrowness and local navigational difficulties. All a lack of planning, you might say. Its attractiveness is now due to seaborne and land-based tourism.

 

It holds other challenges for the landscape photographer, since the view is dominated by harsh horizontal and vertical angles and the narrowness of the artificial gorge frequently leaves part of the image in darkness, at least as far as a camera’s capacity to handle dynamic range is concerned. There is also a physical issue related to the photographer’s viewpoint which I cover below in the “Technical” section. So, it requires some aesthetic foresight to improve the travel of the eye “through” the image, to give a greater feel of the tightness and length of the structure.

 

Timing is the Key

Having thought about the problem, I came to the conclusion that a view of the canal “naked”, with no vessels in sight was the worst visual option. Instinctively, I felt that the movement of a boat away from the viewer might create a direction to the composition that would lead the eye “into” the image and soften the effect of the verticals and horizontals. Luckily the canal has frequent movements of small vessels, phased into two directions, of course, so while I waited until the traffic started to go “my” way, I set up the equipment and framed the image.

 

I was lucky to get two tall-masted yachts to come into view, ahead of a tourist motorboat. They moved slowly and carefully, allowing me plenty of time to choose my moment(s). The wake of the boats and their masts seemed to point the way and make my “eye” theory work and their presence both enlivens the image and gives scale to the canal itself, I believe.  

 

Lack of Perfection

That said, I am unhappy about the asymmetry of the vertical spars at each side of the bridge in the foreground. I would prefer that the one on the left had the same space between it and the side of the image, as appears on the right-hand side. Either I made an error in composition, or there was something ugly or inappropriate at that side of the scene. It is too long now since I shot this image for me to recollect whether the error was simply my fault in not “pulling” the zoom wider, or whether it was an irremediable result of the existence of something that would spoil the view, given the camera positioning.

 

Technical

This being Greece, the light was magnificent, therefore the choice of ISO 200 and f8 for quality pixels and good overall depth of field still generated a high speed of 1/2000s. The camera was also mounted on a tripod. VR is counter-productive at speeds higher than 1/500, or while mounted on a tripod, so it was switched off, but notwithstanding the rapid shutter speed, I was still very much concerned about vibration.

 

This was because my viewpoint was on a relatively lightly-engineered bridge, very like the construction in the photo. Cars, buses and trucks were rushing past regularly and generating significant vibration each time. Taking a photo just then would have been like trying to do it during an earthquake. I therefore waited until a quiet moment, giving the structure about 10 seconds to still itself before I triggered each of the bracketed images.

 

One remaining imperfection was the effect of the sea haze on the coastline in the distant horizon, which I treated by using a mask, as described below.

 

Post processing

  • Tiny crop to eliminate projecting metal in top left corner
  • Minor contrast & saturation adjustment of whole image, mainly to heighten the cragginess of the cliffs
  • Adjustment of the shadowed cliff to (image left) via dynamic range tool
  • Normal sharpening of the whole image
  • Creation of a mask layer on the coastline in the far distance. Contrast, saturation and sharpness adjustments were applied to this mask

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 155mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed(Bracketed): 1/2000s

Vibration Reduction: Off

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -2.0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 200

Mounted on a Tripod

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2018 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) amdg art corinth canal fine art greece nikon nikon 70-200mm vr zoom paul grayson photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/perspectives Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:06:54 GMT
Nine Mans Morris https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/nine-mans-morris Nine Mans MorrisNine Mans MorrisCOPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act 2, Scene 1. Titania speaks

“…Contagious fogs, which falling in the land

Have every pelting river made so proud

That they have overborne their continents.

The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,

The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn

Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.

The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,

And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.

The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green

For lack of tread are undistinguishable.

The human mortals want their winter here.

No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.

Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,

Pale in her anger, washes all the air…”

 

Taken last night, one street away from where I live, this image is full of troubling, man-made offenses to our planet. Shakespeare, as always, said it best, “…The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud…” but whereas the mud is flowing in California, not France, the Seine and its tributaries are bursting their banks, renewing the severe flood conditions of recent years in central Paris.

 

Listing the issues

As you may see from Titania’s soliloquy, the disturbance in the Force, to use a more modern current expression, gives rise to floods, pastoral disaster and the strangeness of the night. The photograph, was taken near midnight, one street away from where I live, on the Pont des Invalides. It illustrates the current applicability of this poetry and adds some, more modern factors.

 

How shall I pollute thee? Let me count the ways… (with excuses to Elizabeth Barret Browning and her sonnet 43)

  • Flooding

The Seine’s 3rd most serious flood was in 2016 (the two other, bigger ones were in 1658 and 1910). While the lower quays regularly are at risk of some interruption from flooding, today’s water levels are more extensive along the length of the City’s flood defences. Today’s levels give rise to legitimate questions about the reasons for the severity and frequency of their occurrence.

 

  • Light pollution

The image you see is slightly false, in that I corrected the yellow/orange colour cast arising from the city’s use of sodium vapour lamps. I chose to prioritise the normal colour of the swan and a more pleasing, natural colour of the water over the absolute colour “truth”. Of course, without that immense light pollution, I would not have been able to capture the scene with as much clarity and depth of field, even if I used maximum ISO. 

 

  • Nocturnal disturbance of nature

The swan was fully awake, feeding and observing its disturbed, fast-flowing environment, even though it was very late at night. I don’t know where is its usual habitat on the river, but I can witness that it is not usually seen on this particular stretch of the Seine. Its partner appeared briefly but disappeared to some other shelter.

 

  • Litter Pollution

The amount of garbage generated by city dwellers is immense and Paris is particularly attentive to collecting and disposing of it. The flimsy nature of the safety-friendly bags and unplanned issues like major flooding do not assist in keeping the flow of detritus from entering the natural environment.

 

  • Terrorism

Why are the litter bins so flimsy? This is a Parisian response to long decades of multi-faceted terrorism, varying from home-grown nationalists to various north African and Middle Eastern factions. Out of concern to reduce easy and dangerous hiding places, as well as to diminish injuries to passers-by, the former, more elegant street furniture has given way to the current models. Unfortunately, these are far more fragile,   

 

  • Plastic pollution

The nature of general litter is heavily weighted towards plastic, a long-lived, noxious and dangerous product which is deepening its penetration of the food chain, as micro particles are digested by plankton and are accumulated in the hierarchy of predators, of which we are the pinnacle.

 

Technical

The main issue with this image was whether to keep the colour “as shot”, given the artificial illumination, or to correct it, which I did do. That said, without that powerful, false colour illumination, the camera would not have been able to provide a workable speed at that aperture, even at ISO 6400. Even then, Vibration Reduction, being mounted on a monopod and bracing against the parapet of the bridge were other, helpful factors.

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 200mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/7.1

Shutter Speed(Bracketed): 1/25s

Vibration Reduction: On

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Mounted on a Monopod and braced against a parapet

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2018 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) amdg fine art la seine nikon 70-200mm vr zoom nikon d800 paris paul grayson photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/nine-mans-morris Thu, 11 Jan 2018 22:41:32 GMT
What’s In A Name? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/what-s-in-a-name What's In A Name?What's In A Name?

For Cataloguing of this image, see “Technical” at the foot of this blog

I shared in my 1 January announcement that I had spent much time in 2017 upgrading my workflow with new software tools for post-processing and Data Asset Management (DAM).  The latter included a long-delayed investment of time in cataloguing my images with keywords with a view to rendering my enormous database accessible and fully useable. Since I can now be “holier than thou”, I am starting the year with an encouragement to you to do the same. If you are already in that angelic crowd who have properly identified all your images in depth, then I take my hat off to you.

 

Whichever case that you are in, any comments and/or advice that you have to give me on the following exposé of my methodology are very welcome.

 

The Curse Of Being Special And Different

 

I am a serial repeater of the error of creating my own solutions to generic problems. This has caused me much pain in the past, whether with equipment decisions, software choices and enormous wasting of time, but I appear to be obsessed with finding a path that satisfies my uniqueness and ego. I find myself reversing back up a well-trodden path to go back down the other fork in the road, all the while declining to ask help from other travellers who have already been to where I need to go and know the way. I am not recommending this to anyone.

 

That is the bad news. The good news is that when it occasionally works out well, I am able to pat myself on the back and feed the ego-monster with a large dose of praise. Luckily for me and this blog, my tailor-made key-wording method is proving to be very helpful, both in the inputting phase, as well as the search process.

 

Categories

 

The first element is a no-brainer: "Location". Professional camera makers are truly challenging Hubris by turning their noses up at the internet-based features of camera phones and compact devices used by the image-taking proletariat. I am thinking of the simplicity of file transfer and distribution and geo-tagging. While my iPhone images are saved with pre-loaded, precise time and place information, my Nikon will condescendingly let me know only the time of the capture and its time-zone, giving me a choice of perhaps 20 countries to guess where I took the image.

 

I compensate for this by taking photographs of signs marking the area or item, when available, and/or taking a photo with my phone. The latter is not a better, or cheaper, option than investing in a satellite-capable, professional GPS locator, but it is one less thing to carry.

 

So, Location is my first data entry point, within which are nested: Location/ Country/ Region or State/ City/ Street/ Quarter and Monument. With one click, marking up an image of the Eiffel Tower, for example, creates the chain of “breadcrumbs”: Eiffel Tower/ Paris/ Isle de France/ France/ Country/ Location, any of which can be the subject of a search term. The image will appear in all of these.

 

My second category took the greatest amount of thought. I have a strong sense of the particular subjects and types of photography that drive my passion for image making. I call these my “Genres”. I did not come to this knowledge of myself naturally, but only when professional sites asked me to identify myself and my body of work in writing. When I looked over my creative efforts, in an attempt to bring some order into what was until then a non-structured view of my activities, I was surprised to find that they fell into some very distinctive categories that have proved to vary very little over time.

 

These are, in alphabetical order: Abstract; Aerial; Architecture; Black & White; Close-Up; Events; Night; Still Life and Water. To round out the cataloguing exercise I found I needed to add “Fine Art”, simply for commercial image identification and “People”, for work where I receive private and public commissions, but where I am not emotionally engaged, oddly enough.

 

Most of these categories have “nested” sub-categories, allowing me to refine my searches for other recurrent categories such as silhouettes, reflections, the moon etc. Architecture has the greatest degree of sub-editing, since it includes a large variety of structures and circumstances such as “Church” which includes:  Abbey, Cathedral, Gothic, Monastery, Mosque, Shrine, Synagogue. Every such detailed, “nested” keyword list is constantly evolving, as my key wording activity finds so-far unidentified subjects.

 

Details

 

The last remark is most relevant for my third category: “Subject”. This is the one on which I spend most of my time and which gives rise to the greatest number of itemisations per image. Since the “nesting” capability of the software allows me to burrow keywords underneath as many layers as I want or need, I can be as precise as I need to be. So far, I find that a maximum of 3 levels suffice. For example, Equipment/ Musical Instrument/ Piano. If it so happened that I was interested in the latter to a high degree, I could dig deeper with the layer Piano/ Grand, Harpsichord, Upright etc. and even further categorise “Piano/ Grand" into  “Piano/ Grand/ Bechstein, Bosendorfer, Steinway etc.

 

Driven by my historic activities, the core Subject layers are: Art, Equipment, Cityscape, Emblem/ Sign, Landscape, Person, Plant, Seascape, Species, Structure, Vehicle, Weather/ Season and Work. I list them alphabetically in order to more quickly mouse over the appropriate choice, but I rely on the software’s ability to re-order them in any way, should I decide to change. For example, were I to bundle Persons, Species and Plants under, say, “Life”, it is simply a matter of “pulling” the relevant items with the mouse into the proper topic and level. The system will adjust the embedded data in the photograph accordingly.

 

Workflow

 

My commitment for all new work from 01 01 2018 is to use Capture One to:

 

  • ingest images from the camera cards
  • automatically rename them with the date, time and a date sequence number
  • cull images to be discarded
  • transfer images to the disk holding the database of originals

 

Next, using Media Pro:

 

  • Catalogue the images with Location, Genre and Subjects
  • Rate the images for quality and later processing
  • Create new processing “Sessions” for the post-processing candidates

 

Finally:

  • Backup everything!

 

Technical

 

Cataloguing the featured image. This is how it went:

 

Location/ Country/ Sweden/ Region/ Skåne/ Falsterbo

 

Genre/ Fine Art

Genre/ Night/ Landscape, Sunset

Genre/ Water

 

Subject/ Seascape/ Beach, Sea, Shoreline, Waves

Weather Season/ Winter

 

Any experiences you would like to share with me or others? Let me hear from you.

Copyright Paul Grayson 2018 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) amdg art capture one 11 cataloguing fine art media pro nikon nikon d800 paul grayson photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/what-s-in-a-name Thu, 04 Jan 2018 20:55:56 GMT
I'm Back!! https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/im-back I'm Back!I'm Back!Copyrighted Digital Photograph

I’m Back!!

After nearly a year’s “breather” during which time I have undertaken various photographic adventures, changed my workflow to apply the latest software and started to climb the mountain of cataloguing all my 57,000+ digital images (I have only reached May 2010, so far) – I am committing to renew my weekly, Friday blog, which I hope will entertain and please you.

Travelling Light (No pun intended, but a great title for a photography book when I think about it)

The image was taken by fellow photog. Gary Bridges (http://garybridgesphotography.com) on our recent trek to Bryce Canyon, Utah. As you can see, I like to travel light when photographing on the edge of long drops. I am carrying a Nikon D800 with Nikon 70-200mm zoom attached. A Gitzo tripod, mounted with an Arco Suisse head, is attached to the backpack, which itself contained: Nikon 24mm Perspective Control lens; 24-70mm zoom; a 1.4X tele-converter; spare 64GB CF and SD cards; spare batteries and filters; a hand-held torch and, finally, a small toolbox in case anything got a bit loose. The smallest contribution was my newest gizmo, a little helmet lamp. It is tiny, but produced amazing power and a wide angle of illumination. Thank-you Walmart!

In contrast to the photographic equipment, my vestimentary contribution to the exercise was decidedly old-fashioned: thermal underwear, shirt; inner tweed jacket; scarf; outer leather jacket; thick socks; work trousers; one pair of gloves inserted into another; boots and my favourite, ugly, warm, fur-lined hat, to which I had sewn the helmet torch. I was “toasty” warm, except for when I needed to make camera adjustments. I couldn’t do it gloved, so from time to time I endured some brief pain with uncovered hands.

Workflow changes

I have never been a fan of Photoshop as a post-production, development tool, except for occasional, supplemental technical needs and I confess to being allergic to Adobe’s attempt to take clients prisoner for life with their monthly licencing model, so I felt uncomfortable handcuffing myself to Lightroom. When Nikon ceased to develop and support Nikon Capture NX, I migrated to the Danish Phase One company’s software “Capture One 11”. At the same time, I moved my image management system to their “Media Pro SE” product.

 

While the developmental capabilities of this software are superb, the transition was not easy, since ease of use is not Phase One’s software-writing strongpoint, in my opinion. It took a steep learning curve for me to work out the best new workflow for me and the best way to integrate a digital asset management (DAM) process. I found myself scrapping one version after another, in order to experiment with an alternative, and I have only now settled down to what I believe will be a robust approach for me for the immediate future. I admit that my hard-headed insistence on being self-sufficient, might have slowed the process, which would have benefitted from engaging earlier and more often with the Help Desk.

 

So, 1 January 2018 is also the date at which I have committed to uploading/ naming/ culling/ saving and cataloguing my images in a uniform way. From that date, all will be efficient. Unfortunately, I will still be working in parallel to bring the legacy images into the same catalogued environment. The effort invested so far has clearly demonstrated the increased efficiency in manipulating my precious stock and given me a lot of pleasure in reviewing where I have been and what I have captured over the years.

New Year Resolutions

Mine are:

  • To complete 2 new photographic books: “Genesis” and “Paris Mon Amour”
  • Complete the cataloguing of my work
  • To refresh the look and ergonomy of my website www.photeinos.com
  • To refresh the choice of images and showcase new work

 

See You Friday!

So, this blog is a New Year’s Day taster for next Friday. I sincerely hope that the year will be a great one for you, your family and friends and that you will find it a pleasure to make a habit of viewing my blog and, perhaps, engage with me and the rest of my work on the website.

 

Very Sincerely

 

Paul

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2018 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) bryce canyon fine art nikon 70-200mm vr zoom nikon d800 paul grayson photeinos www.photeinos.com φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2018/1/im-back Mon, 01 Jan 2018 09:54:23 GMT
Hire A Plane https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/3/hire-a-plane Hire A PlaneHire A PlaneCopyrighted Digital Photograph

That’s what I usually do when I want to take vast expanse images of the U.S. landscape. If you want a tip on how to hire a plane for aerial photography, go straight to any web page for a “Cheapo” flight and ask for a window seat in economy. It works for me!

 

A Rugged Country

 

I never tire of staring out of the window on long flights. Whether it be the clouds or the earth far below, I still have a permanent sense of wonder, both at Creation in its untouched form and the incredible extent of the human imprint to be seen on it. Roads, paths and structures seem to cover the earth, with only a few miles separating the one from the other.

 

I have a very map-oriented brain and am constantly surprised and excited to identify what I see from where I guess the plane happens to be passing. This works from large-scale items such as the Grand Canyon, to individual buildings in cities viewed during landing and take-off.

   

This was a flight from Las Vegas to the U.S. East coast, so the image is somewhere over Arizona in the general area of the Grand Canyon. I regret my lack of geo-localisation capability for such images. While I have a record of the flight and its general trajectory it is often difficult to be precise about what was captured.

 

Technical

 

For such aerial photography, first of all, it also helps to have an excellent camera and secondly, excellent post-production software.

 

I took the usual precautions for commercial plane window capture: clean the inside of the window; use a short-barrelled lens, so as to get close to the Perspex; look ahead and plan any necessary camera adjustment; shoot in RAW and use as fast a speed as possible, consistent with a reasonable aperture and ISO combination, in order to eliminate aircraft vibration.

 

Given the fact that I was shooting through two layers of somewhat dirty Perspex, the real problem I had was in achieving correct colour balance in the image output. I experimented with using the grey point selection tool, but this was an iterative process, since the captured colours did not give me a good feel for where the grey point really was.

 

After levelling the horizon, the solution was to use the tint and saturation sliders until the image seemed to provide the most honest balance of colour overall. I am sometimes amazed at the capacity of a trained brain to reconstitute what the correct colour rendition might be, sometimes months or even years after tie image was originally captured. That did not help here because the image was originally photographed through the unwanted filters in the window.

 

In a situation like that, I focus on one thing that seems to be the truest representation and this was the muddy water of the river (the Colorado, I think). I hope that you think that my final solution from all these permutations is reasonably accurate.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 24-70mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 60mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Handheld

 

Please comment on the image or my comments. I would love to hear from you and share your thoughts with others.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Aerial Canyon Grand Landscape Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos Photography φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/3/hire-a-plane Fri, 17 Mar 2017 19:56:38 GMT
How Do You Re-Image An Icon? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/3/how-do-you-re-image-an-icon How Do You Re Image An IconHow Do You Re Image An Icon

Aesthetic, Aesthetic, Aesthetic

 

We have all seen this image of the Brooklyn Bridge dozens, if not hundreds of times. Whatever the angle, whatever the lighting conditions, it is the play of the lines of cables swooping around the towers which capture the attention. I pondered how to stamp my own interpretation on this beautiful piece of architecture, which is indeed a wonderful “installation” (pun intended).

 

The Spider’s Web

 

I came away with many different versions of the cable themes. Taken from the side, with and without the stonework, with and without views of the Manhattan or Brooklyn skylines.

 

I became interested in the convergence effect in the views towards the towers and shot test images with a tighter and tighter crop. This final angle was the most powerful for me, drawing the eye relentlessly in to the centre-top of the tower. The flamboyant use of vertical wires on this bridge created a part-completed steel spiders web. I surely did not want to meet the Transormers’ spidery first cousin who was weaving it!

 

Off-centre

 

In post-production, my next thought was to subconsciously irritate the viewer. Note that the centre of the perspective is slightly below the middle and to the right of the image. This is a choice, since I could perfectly well have chosen to crop with the centre point of the plunging lines being, classically, plumb in the middle.

 

It seemed to me that this positioning was slightly deranging and made me focus more intently on where the lines were going. What if it had been perfectly centred? Would there have been a release of dopamine at the pleasure of the orderliness of it all? Would it just have replicated every other view of the bridge that you have seen? What do you think?

 

Next I decided that the graphic imperative of the lines demanded a black and white treatment. This enhances the focus on the symmetry of the structure, rather than on the ambient light, which was not unattractive, since the image was taken near sunset in winter.

 

Technical

 

There were an amazing number of seagulls in the sky, which were an unwelcome distraction, as they speckled the image, like dust. These were deleted with the “heal,” tool and the image finished with some sharpening and noise reduction.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm AF-S DX zoom f/3.5 G IF-ED

Focal Length: 70mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/200s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Auto

Exposure Compensation: +1.0 EV

Metering: Centre Weighed

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Handheld

 

I hope that you too “feel” the connection of image making to time and place, as I so often do. Please take the trouble to sample other images which touch me in this way on the rest of my website.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Brooklyn Bridge Fine Art Manhattan Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D70 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/3/how-do-you-re-image-an-icon Fri, 10 Mar 2017 07:00:00 GMT
Rest In Peace - Again https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/3/rest-in-peace---again Resting In Peace - AgainResting In Peace - Again

I was meditatively visiting St. Paul’s Chapel in 2005, on the very edge of Ground Zero, whose wounds were then still very raw, and stepped in to the graveyard, which had been buried in debris from the adjacent towers, although the church itself miraculously escaped without a scratch. The Chapel became the 24-hour care centre for the first responders and, sadly, a means of forensic identification of many lost firemen by way of checking the owners of the daytime boots which had been hung on its railings when the firemen rushed to change into rescue gear.

 

The Chapel is the oldest surviving church building on Manhattan, having been built in 1766 and still maintains the pew where George Washington regularly worshipped, when he was serving as first President in the then capital, New York.

 

These thoughts were front and centre, when I stopped to admire a play of light and shadow on one of the tombs in the, now pristine, freshly-grassed cemetery. I captured it with my Nikon D70, the first digital camera I have ever used, and stepped forward to find out who had been laid to rest there. I marvelled to discover that it honoured a French colonel, who served America both in the Revolutionary War and who chose to return to more honourable service to the Army until he retired and ended his days in America.

 

I could not help pondering the irony of the modern death toll swamping the ancient residents of St. Pauls, followed by the immense tragedy of the following period. It was truly comforting to see the return of respectful quietness and peaceful remembering of the dead, ancient and modern.

 

Le Sieur de Rochefontaine

 

His brief bio (with thanks to Wikipedia) is:

“Stephen Rochefontaine (February 20, 1755 Ay, Marne France – January 30, 1814 New York City) …was born Étienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Sieur de Rochefontaine.

…came to America in 1778 after failing to gain a position in the French Royal Corps of Engineers. He volunteered in General Washington's Continental Army on May 15, 1778 and was appointed captain in the Corps of Engineers on September 18, 1778. For his distinguished services at the siege of Yorktown, Rochefontaine was given the brevet rank of major by Congress…

He returned to France in 1783…, reaching the rank of colonel in the French Army. He came back to the United States in 1792 and anglicized his first name to Stephen. President Washington appointed him a civilian engineer to fortify the New England coast, in 1794.

After the new Corps of Artillerists and Engineers was organized, Washington made Rochefontaine a lieutenant colonel and commandant of the new Corps on February 26, 1795. Rochefontaine started a military school at West Point in 1795, but the building and all his equipment were burned the following year. He left the Army on May 7, 1798, and lived in New York City, where he died January 30, 1814”

 

The Aesthetic

My joy with this image arose from the very strong light on the grass, which seemed to flow from the glowing section in the front into the subtle shadows behind. The gravestone imposed itself on the viewer, almost shouting “remember me!”, I thought. The specks of seeds on its surface reflected the “from dust to dust” emphasis of the funeral service and the darkness of the sides and adjacent graves spoke of the long, dark sleep of the dead.   

 

Technical

The image was remarkably fine for a “little” sensor of an early model digital SLR. I was very happy with the original colour rendition and the image only required a little sharpening and lightening of shadows and a minor crop for my aesthetic preference to focus more on the Colonel’s tomb.

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm AF-S DX zoom f/3.5 G IF-ED

Focal Length: 62mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/640s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Auto

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Handheld

 

I hope that you too “feel” the connection of image-making to time and place, as I so often do. Please take the trouble to sample other images which touch me in this way on the rest of my website.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Béchet Fine Art Ground Marie Nicolas Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos Rochefontaine Sieur Zero de Étienne φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/3/rest-in-peace---again Thu, 02 Mar 2017 23:30:55 GMT
Magic Night https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/magic-night Magic NightMagic Night

The Magic

So, I had a few micro-brewery beers with a friend at La Taverne du Cluny on rue de la Harpe, almost as good, I’m sure, as the monks in the local monastery could brew back in the Dark Ages. Shouldering my trusty camera bag I stepped out into the night in the over-touristy, restaurant-cramped streets and wandered vaguely in the direction of Notre Dame, looking for a place to buy dessert.

I had no paper money left, only 8 euros and change, so I thought of ice cream. No sooner thought than “Amorino” appeared on a street sign and I headed down rue de la Huchette to buy a large cone of pistachio, so home-made that it did not have that fluorescent green colour you get with factory made wares. It even had real pistachios on top – imagine that!

Having slaked my thirst for cholesterol unfriendly fare, I ambled over to the Parvis of the Cathedral. While I watched the beautifully lit structure shimmer and dance in front of me I pondered how eerily quiet was the space, lacking the usual throngs attracted to Paris at all times of the year and at all times of day and night. As I did so, a guitarist started up a Kabyle song about his mother, a miraculous gift, given that I love the Arabic genre of music on the oud, the eastern version of the medieval lute. I was entranced. Look him up on Boudji World Music.

The Photography

 Then the passion for image-making kicked in and I tried various ways of capturing Notre Dame at night, mainly focussed on the story-telling in the stone. I then wandered over to the right bank of the Seine in front of the Town Hall, l’Hotel de Ville.

I was again working on limited “wobble prevention”, only having a monopod to support my heavy D800, but the area was quite well lit, so I captured various views of the town hall, before I became focussed on the Carrousel.

Not Doisneau

I have briefly alluded to my distaste for a certain, cheesy kind of Parisian street photography. Maybe I am somewhat insensitive, but I much prefer the unadorned (so to speak) architecture of Paris, without capturing its denizens. This image has merit in colour, given the magical creatures in their fantastical colours, but I saw it in black and white.

I also felt very satisfied with the complementary art offered by the street lamps and their circular composition, seeming to complement the carrousel itself.

Technical

 The image required very little treatment after rendering in Black & White. Only sharpening and a minor crop.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 24-70mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 62mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/20s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Continuous

Exposure Mode: Auto

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 2500

Handheld against street furniture

 

I hope that you find something of the enchantment that Paris means to me in this image. If so, please take a wander around the other images on this site.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Nikon Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/magic-night Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:38:01 GMT
Holy Island - Bourgeois Island https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/holy-island---bourgeois-island Holy Island - Bourgeois IslandHoly Island - Bourgeois Island

History

 

The island on which sits Notre Dame is the Medieval heart of Paris, originally separated into the western section devoted to the power of the King and an eastern section to the power of the church. The land in-between was residential and commercial.

 

This was echoed in the 19th century by, guess who, Baron Haussmann who built many key administrative structures, such as the Prefecture de Police and the Palais de Justice, among others.

 

A third epoch for the island is currently being studied by the French Presidency, which is intended to give a new life to the island, making it more attractive to visitors, by freeing up more pedestrian spaces, opening access points and creating new, sub ground-level uses which do not detract from the above-ground attractiveness of the first two periods.

 

Aesthetic

 

This view from the north focusses on the Quai des Fleurs, which is basically a 19th century construction, but includes vestiges of the presumably highly elegant, 17th century homes of the Canons of Notre Dame (see the left of the image).

 

I confess that prior to researching this piece, I had thought the elegant homes to be 200 years older, dating to the 17th century. They are more varied in height and appearance than in “standard” Haussmann era streets on the riverbanks.

 

I am not embarrassed by learning that, since I am already aware of the heavily fake appearance of today’s Notre Dame. The spire and roof design, particularly the statuary, are the result of the daring imagination of the Haussmann era architect Viollet-le-Duc, who felt impelled to perfect the idea of Gothic and Renaissance architectural aesthetics, by adding his own touch of genius. I personally think he managed to pull it off. His mark is to be seen on famous structures all over France.

 

Thus, the casual stroller passing the Paris town hall by the riverside walk is presented with two styles separated by 500 years of changing tastes. Day or night, this view is extremely satisfying, a waltz of horizontals and verticals emphasised by bands of colour, from the river flood walls to the homes, up past the cathedral roof and on to the sky. The effect is highlighted at night, aided by Paris’ famous mastery of monumental lighting.

 

Technical

 

Being bereft of a tripod on this occasion, my only support was the parapet of the river wall. To achieve an acceptable stabilising speed at F 2.8, I maxed the ISO to 6400, which I usually only use in music clubs, resulting in an acceptable shutter speed of 1/100.

 

For best quality night-time, architectural work, I would have dearly preferred to be able to shoot at ISO 200, but I had to accept that this result was necessarily going to be grainy.

 

Post Processing Treatment

 

Prior to dealing with the best-of-a-bad-world aperture, shutter and film speed choices mentioned above, I first straightened the image to correct the leaning of the steeple. It is not easy to get that angle right “in-camera”, when you are leaning on a curved, uneven stone surface, while shivering in a Winter’s night. I then used the “keystone” tool to straighten vertical lens aberrations at the edges

 

Next, I decided on some drastic pruning. I firstly changed the aesthetic of the original portrait aspect ratio. I made a rather drastic crop, using the “unconstrained” choice of aspect shape, ending up with a near square. Then, in order to retain the 19th century look of the final image, I “cheated” by using the cloning tool to transform vehicles parked on the quai into buildings. If you enlarge the image, you will see that this has been done rather clumsily. If I were to print this image, I would review the cloning to be less obvious.

 

Finally, I applied sharpening and the much-anticipated noise reduction. All things considered, I was not too unhappy with the quality of the final result

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 24-70mm zoom f/2.8G ED

Focal Length: 52mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/100s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Continuous

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Handheld

 

Please comment on the image or my comments. I would love to hear from you and share your thoughts with others.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Capture One Pro 10 Nikon Nikon 24-27 Zoom Nikon D800 Notre Dame Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/holy-island---bourgeois-island Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:35:14 GMT
The Majesty Of The Law https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/the-majesty-of-the-law

I don’t consider myself a « Street Photographer », like so many others who roam Paris, New York or Stratford-Upon-Avon, by day and by night, usually photographing with Leica’s using film and printing in black and white. Nevertheless, living in central Paris and always having a camera at the ready, there is frequently some little interaction taking place that may be worth capturing for posterity. This one was so close that I first had to run into another room and find my camera bag, before capturing it from my balcony.

 

Our current, highly-politicised security situation apart, I have always felt that Paris is one of those places with a bit of an edge. People quickly get ready for an argument, particularly when faced by the police. In fact, the more outnumbered they are by the police, the more they seem to get worked up. Not something that my little British self is used to.

 

Scenario

 

Here we have a typical scenario. This lady is driving the wrong way down a one-way street towards the massed ranks of French riot police – the famous (infamous?) CRS, the Compagnies Republicaines de Securité, who were blocking my street during a large demonstration. Trained to face up to screaming mobs of molotov cocktail throwing, black-hooded, violent, “casseurs” their instincts are honed to perfection to smell trouble and “get their retaliation in first”, as I believe Americans like to say…

 

Clearly this would-be troublemaker was not going to hoodwink the Guardians of Order. Was she intending to accelerate to, say 4 MPH, whip out and assemble a weaponised walking stick to brandish at the nether parts of the approaching men of steel and perhaps reach into her ammunition box, cleverly disguised as a shopping bag and roll a few grenades into the melée?

 

The Outcome

 

Smelling the chance for a good fight, this CRS swaggered up to her, clothed in his gladiatorial protections and ready to unbutton his service pistol at the first sign of trouble. Watching from my balcony, I held my breath in anticipation of blood spurting and bones cracking. Maybe the lady would get hurt too?

 

I could hear nothing as the officer leaned over to courteously hear what she had to say, turned and cleared a path for her to get through the cordon and join the demonstration, which in fact consisted of very middle class Catholic families, nuns and priests protesting about same-sex marriage.

 

You can never be too careful

 

Even this most bourgeois of demonstrations received a lot of attention from the government and therefore the police and even resulted in many arrests later in the day (see my blog post of 29 May 2013). It reminded me of my first Paris Balcony/CRS experience in 1978, when I was living near the Place de la Bastille. One Saturday morning the street filled to the brim with CRS wagons, towing their supplies of shields and tear gas. They swaggered out, donned their kit and shouldered their grenade launchers.

 

I fearfully tried to spy out the threatening hordes who justified their presence, when I became aware that it consisted of a mass of women, many pushing strollers and holding toddlers by the hand, who were seeking support for “ Woman’s Right To Choose”. That’s the Paris I love.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 24-70mm zoom f/2.8

Focal Length: 135mm

VR: Off

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/640s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Continuous

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Handheld

 

Does this ring any Parisian bells for you? Why not take a tour around my website for nostalgia’s sake?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/the-majesty-of-the-law Thu, 09 Feb 2017 22:48:20 GMT
Moskwa Sur Seine https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/moskva-sur-seine  

 

Moskva sur SeineMoskva sur SeineCOPYRIGHT 2016 Paul Grayson AMDG

Moskwa Sur Seine

 

Quai Branly in Paris already had a long connection with Russia, even before the completion of the new Orthodox Cathedral at Pont d’Alma in 2016.

 

Most visibly, there is Pont Alexandre III, my “Muse” as regular followers of this blog will know. The French wanted to honour the signatory of the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1892 and so the foundation stone was laid in 1896, by Tsar Alexandre’s son Nicholas II, the last Tsar of all the Russia’s. This Art Nouveau masterpiece is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, in my opinion.

 

Just nearby the north-eastern corner of the next bridge West, the Pont des Invalides, stands the monument commemorating the contribution of the Russian Expeditionary Force to defending France in WW1, as per the agreement with Alexandre III. Two brigades served on the Western Front and in Greece before the little matter of the Russian Revolution upset the apple cart and the brigades mainly mutinied, leaving a reduced, tsarist Légion Russe fighting until the Armistice.

 

 

Aesthetic

 

I personally like having gold leaf covered, onion domes pop up on this spot. Parisian and Russian authorities cooperated in view of the importance of the existing architectural perspectives including both the Eiffel Tower and the American Church in Paris, to ensure that the height, scale and general design took account of the aesthetics.

 

The main buildings for use by the Russian Orthodox community are less attractive and definitively modern, in contrast to the traditional roof. These mainly face on to the quai and a wide boulevard and I had been searching for a sight line which treated the domes in a more discreet, less time-defined way.

 

As I returned from a demonstration at the Eiffel Tower the day after the American presidential inauguration (if you know what I mean?) I chose a favourite route of mine behind the Musée du quai Branly. I love the architectural whimsies throughout this building, one of which is a reed bed flanking the street at the back of the garden.

 

It is a tranquil spot in warmer weather, usually with water plants rustling in the breeze and ducks and coots nesting there. This January day, the plants were in hibernation, the ducks were warming themselves somewhere else and the water was frozen.

 

Moskwa sur Seine

 

Above all, I had a moment of joy, as my mind recast the view into a reed-covered, frozen stream running towards a dimly seen Orthodox monestary in mother Russia. The setting sun and deep colours of the museum added an emotional edge to my response.

 

Right Angle, Right Time, Right Light

 

The first artistic response that stopped me in my tracks was the perspective of the reed-like posts which adorn the stream of water. They formed a natural composition leading left to right, the way that Western readers see things and formed a strange foreground through which everything else was half-seen. Then I noticed that as they grew smaller with distance, they created a natural space in which the Cathedral domes were framed.

 

Next, I was surprised to notice that the water was solid, not flowing and created a base into which the metal rods were stuck. The water was no longer limpid and formed a solid colour mass which contrasted with the red of the museum and the yellow tones of the church.

 

Finally, the domes. In truth, the light was not right. Notwithstanding the low sun of a late Winter’s afternoon, their newly applied, high quality gold leaf is a camera burn out nightmare. I struggled with different settings, most notable a really severe exposure compensation of -2.7 EV, measured on the domes using a narrow “spot” metering choice.

 

I was not helped by the absence of a tripod, given that I had gone out to participate in and photograph a demonstration, so also I relied on the quality of my D800 sensor to save my bacon.

 

Processing

 

Finally, during processing I used a mask to treat the sky and the dome separately from the rest of the image. Clearly the latter required the shadows to be enhanced, while the former needed both delicate exposure and contrast adjustments, as well as significantly more sharpening than the foreground

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/320s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Auto with bracketing

Focus programme : Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -2.7 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held, resting on a low wall

 

If you can’t take a personal tour around these streets until some later date, please take a tour around my other images of Paris on the rest of the website.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Nikon Nikon D800 Orthodox. Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Russian φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/2/moskva-sur-seine Thu, 02 Feb 2017 21:22:47 GMT
Texture https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/texture DoorDoor

Time Passes…

 

I was privileged to take a peek into the past of an Estonian friend’s childhood, visiting the village of Kassari on the island of Hiiumaa. The family Summer house is a thatched, weather-beaten log cabin, which reeks of time.

 

I tried to soak in the atmosphere with my eyes, ears, nose and camera, enjoying the gently overgrown garden and the house, then concentrating on individual details of life gone by – an abandoned millstone, stacks of Winter wood, a barred, wooden window shutter, a cobweb. I felt like I could have bumped into the seven dwarves heading out of the house to work in their mine or Hansel and Gretel playing hide and seek among the trees.

 

The light was filtered softly through the surrounding forest and created strange shadows on the moss-covered and weather-beaten wooden constructions. Everything was bathed in a gentle glow.

 

Texture

 

As I took more time to focus on smaller things, I parked my tripod near the front door and went to investigate its handle. My response to the smooth, rust free, bare metal was influenced by my feelings when I see flights of worn steps in a palace or a church, shaped by aeons of shuffling feet as the faithful pressed in to pray, or servants rushed around doing their work. Who has been here? What were they doing? What were they thinking. Did they live peacefully, or with sadness?

 

The rough-hewn door planks were a tactile contrast to the hand-smoothed door handle. Their roughness, dents and scrapes spoke of resistance to rain, cold and heat and seemed to breathe out their own story of the moment of gladness to be home, hurrying in to eat or to rest.

 

Finally, the speckled, rusted fixing points, metal surfaces pocked by rust and the wind, subliminally spoke of the passage of much, much time and another age before aluminium and chrome.

 

 

Technicals

 

Rather than struggle with shadows by pressing close to the door with a short focal length lens, I parked myself about 2 metres away and chose a long zoom lens. The combination of closeness and maximum zoom created a very tight view of the elements that mattered to me.

 

The greatest problem was the light glare on the curved metal surfaces. Correct exposure of these would over-darken the rest of the image and correctly exposing the main door would “blow out” the highlights.

 

The in-camera solution was a combination of using “spot” exposure calculation aimed at the highlight on the handle and using bracketing to give a choice exposed more “to the left”, emphasising the darker/left-hand side of the histogram.

 

In post-processing, the treatment was to reduce exposure and mildly increase contrast and brightness. Finally, sharpening was used quite aggressively, to bring out the texture of the wood.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 200mm

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Exposure Mode : Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : +0.3 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 100

Mounted on tripod

 

I hope you enjoyed this. Please take a moment to see other “instants decisifs” which have marked my photographic journey.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Estonia Fine Art Hiiumaa Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800 NikonNikon Paul Grayson Photeinos Rustic φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/texture Fri, 27 Jan 2017 07:08:06 GMT
How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/how-do-you-get-to-carnegie-hall 14 July A14 July A

14 July B14 July B

 

Answer: “Plan! Plan! Plan!”

 

Well, the correct answer is “Practice! Practice! Practice!”, but I am not a violinist, I am a photographer. So, in 2010, when I decided to photograph the air component of the 14 July parade in Paris, I wondered how I might place myself under the flight line, without being invited by the President of the Republic to set up my equipment on his reviewing platform at Place de la Concorde.

 

As a second option, I also felt it unlikely that I would be allowed to join the special forces spotters, police snipers and air traffic controllers who take over the top of the Arc de Triomphe on the same occasion. But that thought is the hint which led to a genius solution – the flight line down the Champs Elysees is a straight line at the eastern end of a geometric continuation of the Avenue de la Grande Armee, the Avenue Charles de Gaulle in Neuilly and the Esplanade de la Defense in Courbevoie.

 

Eureka!

 

While I would be unlikely to be left in peace by pedestrians or the police, were I to try and work in the centre of one of the main roads, even if I were on a pedestrian crossing, the Esplanade is pedestrianised, wide and has clear sight lines for the airshow. Here was my Eureka moment to solve the problem. I need not be anywhere near the crowds on the Champs, nor in the middle of a road, I just had to move myself a few miles to the West, which placed me only a few seconds ahead of the arrival of the aircraft over the President and his guests.

 

A second Eureka, was the fantastic opportunity to combine the airshow with the remarkable architecture over which the aircraft pass, i.e. the Arche de la Defense. Making the most of the architecture and the flypast nevertheless posed some technical problems.

 

No Problems, Only solutions?

 

First problem, how to capture both the distant, approaching aircraft “under” the Arche at the same time as imaging the formations in tighter groups as they swept overhead? First decision: use two cameras, one fixed on a tripod with a wide, fixed aperture lens covering the Arche and a second camera, hand-held, with a vibration reduction zoom.

 

Second problem, how to maintain a clear working space and line of sight, given that the Esplanade might also be full of spectators. Second decision: arrive early and make a space for myself where I would protect my angle on the Arche from passers by. This necessitated being on the edge of a raised structure, where no one could walk past the camera.

 

Third problem, how to operate two cameras nearly simultaneously. While sophisticated wireless solutions do exist, I did not want to spend the money on hiring them. So, my third decision was to “fire” the fixed, wide, prime lens aimed at the Arche on rapid exposures, using a manual cable release, then dropping the cable release and swinging the zoom up to hand-hold images of the aircraft in the sky above and heading east towards the waiting crowds on the Champs Elysees.

 

Technicals

 

Images 1 and 2 were the hand-held option, while image 3 is from the tripod option. The weather that day was unusually bad for July, being overcast and showery. Given the poor light, I upped ISO from my usual preferred range and took the risk of not maximising speed, given that the aircrafts’ apparent motion was reduced during their approach. Those choices still produced wide apertures, which deteriorated the depth of field.

 

In retrospect, there was room to push ISO higher to allow use of higher shutter speed. On a future occasion, there are likely to be blue skies, Global Warming permitting.

 

 

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Camera

Nikon D70

Nikon D70

Nikon D300

Lens

70-200mm f/2.8

70-200mm f/2.8

PC-E Nikkor 24mm f 3.5D

Focal Length

70mm

105mm

24mm

Focus Mode

Shutter speed Priority

Shutter speed Priority

Shutter speed Priority

Aperture

f/4

f/5.6

f/3.5

Shutter Speed

1/600

1/600

1/1000

Exposure Mode

Auto

Auto

Continuous

Exposure Compensation

0

0

0

Metering

Pattern

Pattern

Pattern

ISO

640

640

1250

Tripod

Hand Held

Hand Held

 

Processing Software

Capture One 10

Capture One 10

Capture One 10

 

I look forward to seeing you on the Esplanade on some future Fete Nationale.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D300 Nikon D70 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Quatorze Juillet φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/how-do-you-get-to-carnegie-hall Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:33:23 GMT
Ice Land https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/ice-land Ice LandIce Land

Fire and ice.

 

November in Iceland. A derelict piece of ice on a volcanic black sand beach reflects the sun’s rays breaking at 10 a.m. I was blessed with clear skies for the whole of my two days exploring this “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14) place, but you do have to be patient before the light starts.

These small chunks had beached on the edge of the glacier’s outflow into the Atlantic and been sculpted by wind, sand and sun into sharp relief. The shape and the light changed abruptly as I circled this one and I tried to capture it outside of my shadow, with my back to the sea and the sun on its face.

The enormous mother ships of these tiny shards floated half a mile inland, waiting for wind, tide and the relentless pressure from behind to press them out of the estuary. They were more solid, more densely coloured and rounded in appearance. Just as beautiful in a different way. My beach dwellers though, seemed to have additionally passed through the hands of diamond cutters and been set in beds of soft darkness for the joy of the beachcombers.

 

 Technical

 

Given the wintery, early sun and the sharp contrasts, a low ISO and speed combination were inevitable. Also, in order to capture the reflection of the sun, a very low angle of view was needed. I was helped in this by flattening the tripod’s legs to place the camera body about 50cm above the ground and by the composition flexibility added by a Perspective Control lens.

Managing the brightness in the ice was the second greatest problem. It took some experimentation with adjusting the Exposure compensation and I was surprised to find that it took all of 3 stops negative adjustment to give a satisfying final capture.

Finally, focussing manually with a PC lens, while lying on a beach with my nose nearly in the sand was another challenge, not helped by the lack of flexibility imposed by layers of upper body weatherproof clothing and the wearing of gloves.

Eventually it all came together and I hope that you like the result.

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: PC-E Nikkor 24mm f 3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24 mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/13s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -3.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Tripod

Processing Software: Capture One 10

 

If you ever get the chance, do not just change planes at Keflavik. Take a tour!

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) D300 Ice Iceland Nikon Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/ice-land Thu, 12 Jan 2017 23:01:00 GMT
Rue des Vertus 1917 https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/rue-des-vertus-1917 Rue des Vertus 1917Rue des Vertus 1917

Apologies

 

I used a long break from my blog until 2017 to travel back a century in time to the Marais district, here in Paris. This is the first image I have published of my journey, taken in Rue des Vertus. I really regret this long absence in sharing my passion with you and hope that you will again accompany me on my weekly, Friday photo blog.

 

Well…the truth is that I am somewhat lacking in virtues in giving you this story, since I am, more truthfully celebrating my return to blogging with an image that I captured only today of a street with virtually no visual intrusion of the 21st century.

 

Endurance of a Long Distance Photographer

 

I was celebrating by taking a stroll through the adjacent Marais, because I had just recovered my D800 and two of my most-used lenses from the Nikon Pro repair shop in Boulevard Beaumarchais.

 

This had been made necessary, because in 2016 I damaged my camera equipment and myself three times. Twice, by climbing on rocks at the shore side in Biarritz and later by slipping on ice in Iceland (seems to be somewhat of a warning in the name of the place?). The third shock was when I knocked a camera and lens 3 feet onto concrete during a photo shoot in a warehouse.

 

Nikon seems to be more robust than I am, since the equipment still worked (with some imaginative adjustments) until I could find a break in my programme and let them be taken away for repair. I, on the other hand, ended up in ER twice and needed a tetanus injection, stitches in my knee and two sessions of heavy antibiotics before I was “repaired”. The downside was that, whereas my medical repairs were financially painless, having come out of prepaid taxes, the Nikon repairs were a 100% deduction from disposable income.

 

Timeless Beauty

 

I was itching to try out my newly-repaired and excellently cleaned and re-calibrated equipment, so I chose streets that I did not know well and let the serendipity of Paris do its magic.

 

There is a wonderful light phenomenon where the sun shines in a break in the clouds after rain, giving a strong, clear light which glistens on the wet ground. I was stopped in my tracks as I passed this side street because of the glistening, water-clean cobbles. In truth, the sky was blue, not rainy, but my black and white conversion creates the sense of a grey, wet sky passing by.

 

I was equally very much struck by the absence of modernity in this section of street. I immediately felt the timelessness of this old street in an even more ancient section of the city. In full disclosure, I can confirm that I have deleted two very small television aerials from the roofs, but these were still difficult to see without magnification.

 

Equally I exerted the patience to eliminate modern passers-by, so as to maintain the effect and I hurried home to complete the illusion by a black and white conversion.

 

Processing

 

The narrow street and low Winter sun generated a huge dynamic range disparity between the centre and the sides of the image. I therefore chose a combination of low ISO and “spot” metering of the over-exposed area to give the sensor the best chance to cover the range as well as to expose “to the right” in order to avoid “blowing out” the bright section. I was mindful of the corrective capabilities of my new post-processing software Capture One Pro 10, by Phase One.

 

Indeed, the image required strong treatment of the areas in shadow, which seemed to result in an unusual high level of noise for such a low ISO. I therefore added noise reduction, which is the first time I recollect having done so at low ISO.

 

The final “tweak” was the above-mentioned elimination of small, hard to see aerials using the “Heal” tool.

 

 

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G ED Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/800s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 320

Hand Held, resting on street furniture

Processing Software: Capture One 10

 

I am glad to be back online with you. Please also take a moment to enjoy the rest of this website.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 24-70mm AMDG Art Nikon Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos zoom φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2017/1/rue-des-vertus-1917 Thu, 05 Jan 2017 22:02:02 GMT
Zuave https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/6/zuave ZuaveZuaveCopyrighted Digital Image

 

 

 

Zuave 2Zuave 2

 

Déjà Vu All Over Again

 

I “printed” the top image of “the Zuave” in black and white in order to echo the historical images of the Paris flood of 1910. The walls of the Seine in Paris have been significantly raised since that date and the Pont d’Alma was rebuilt in steel in 1970, such that today’s photographer has to take more risks leaning over the balustrade than prior to 1970, as per the historical image (courtesy of Vosges Matin). 

 

The high water mark for this year’s flood reached his upper thighs, a long way from the shoulder level of 1910, but this level of flooding left significant damage in its wake in central Paris, not least because of the amount of leisure infrastructure which has progressively replaced the riverside motorway in recent years.

 

The third image gives a little taste of what happened and a warning about how much worse a repetition could be. The heavy wooden blocks are part of the street furniture on the Quai d’Orsay, which I hope will be fixed to the ground in future, since I observed at least one sailing ship at anchor desperately trying to prevent others from holing their ship and smashing its gangway.

 

Pont Alexandre III in floodPont Alexandre III in floodCopyrighted Digital Image

 

Let It Begin With Me (Not!)

 

On a purely selfish note, I live a few streets away from the river within the flood zone, and observed the rise of the sewer waters beneath out basement garage to within 1.5 metres of our building. I now know that the Zuave will be a useful measure for me to decide when to move my junk out of our “cave”. I guess that when it reaches his waist, next time, we will have a few hours to save our stuff. That said, the speed of the rise and fall of the waters was truly amazing to behold and I could be kidding myself.

So, the point of this week’s blog is:

 

  1. The statisticians spoke of a “centennial  event in 1910
  2. 106 years later, the event was still only a taster of greater things to come.
  3. “The Big One” is still out there (think about that any Californians among you)

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800, Zuave, Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/6/zuave Sat, 11 Jun 2016 18:10:56 GMT
Never Leave Home... https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/4/never-leave-home HeronHeronCopyrighted Digital Image

 

…without a camera. I mean a “real” camera, not a phone. As I shared in last week’s blog, I am presently suffering from health issues that make it uncomfortable to carry my usual weight of equipment in a backpack. Nevertheless, I went out walking with a visiting friend and chose to lighten my load, by carrying “only” a D800 and a good quality, albeit relatively short reach 24-70mm zoom, all of which was attached to a monopod. A total of 3 or 4 kilos, I would estimate. As we walked in the Tuileries Gardens, I was attracted to investigate a crowd of onlookers, who were interested in something in one of the ponds. This is the result.

 

Ignore Your Friends!

 

Without a thought for my duties as a host, I abandoned our friend and headed for the crowd. There, in the centre of Paris, was a beautiful heron, which seemed unperturbed by the humans lining the edge of the pond as he/she concentrated on finding a meal swimming around below.

 

The bird moved here and there, still staying within the confines of the pond and I settled into a café chair with my wife and our guest, as we discussed the menu. Then my “subject” moved onto the edge of the pond not far from me and I decided to pounce. I again abandoned my friend and my wife and sped off to focus on the gorgeous creature (other than my wife, I mean). I don’t know why, but herons have always held a special place in my enjoyment of nature. They seem so solitary, graceful and, somehow, peaceful. I photographed it as it stood and silently hunted, but I was mainly waiting for it to take off. 

 

Think!

 

I was extremely keen to capture the bird in flight, so speed and focussing accuracy was key. I set the focussing choice to “continuous” and a high ISO of 2000, although it was a sunny day, such that a speed of 1/2000s resulted.

 

Secondly, since I had made a weight-reducing choice before I left home, I did not have access to my favourite 70-200mm zoom. As per my blog last week, I “tricked” the camera to lengthen the reach of the lens by adjusting to the DX format, which give a 1.5x increment to apparent focal length. Thus I was effectively able to max it out at 105mm.

 

Process!

 

These settings still resulted in a rather large view of the target subject in the captured image, so I had to crop down rather severely to about 1/3 of the original image. The 36.3 effective megapixel size of sensor was an aid to keeping the final, shrunken image at a decent quality.

 

Equally my new processing software (Capture One 9) was helpful in seamlessly cleaning up some distractions caused by detritus in the water and delicately sharpening the image. I hope you enjoy the result.

 

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 24-70mm zoom f/2.8

Focal Length: 70mm x 1.5 = 105mm

VR: N.A.

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/2000s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Continuous

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 2000

Mounted on monopod

 

The motto of this week’s blog is: Never leave home without a camera – ever!

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 9 AMDG Capture Fine Art Heron Nikon Nikon D800 One Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/4/never-leave-home Fri, 22 Apr 2016 06:00:00 GMT
Wipeout! https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/4/wipeout 1 Surfer1 SurferCopyrighted Digital Image

 

This series of 3 images preceding, during and after the surfer ends his run should have had a fourth crash “on film”, i.e. me. I was enthusiastically clambering over the rocks on a promontory at the beach in Biarritz two weeks ago, when I slipped and fell from the boulders protecting the structure from a winter battering, onto the concrete pathway. Wildly waving my precious camera and lens in the air, so as to avoid their demise, I nearly caused my own, as I fell heavily on my left side. Luckily my head was spared, but given this behaviour, you may well be wondering what use it is to me.

 

Other beachgoers hastened to help me up and check on my health, but, bruised and battered on my left knee, elbow and shoulder, I “bravely” waved them away and carried on with my action photography of the surfers. The wisdom of my actions was proven a week later as I sat in the emergency ward at L’Hopital George Pompidou being prescribed strong antibiotics and a tetanus injection for an infected, swollen elbow. I am only now recovering my normal mobility.

 

Was It Worth It?

 

2 Surfer2 SurferCopyrighted Digital Image

 

This particular surfer is clearly well experienced and he demonstrated many techniques of balance and wave-riding to great effect. Even as the wave buries him in its final charge to the beach, he keeps control and his balance amazingly well, as evidenced by the second image.

 

3 Surfer3 SurferCopyrighted Digital Image

 

These three images were chosen as a sequence to tell the story, but I also hope to identify the hero of our story (evidently not me – as described above) by a contact I have at a local surfing journal

 

Technical

 

Settings necessarily prioritised speed, given the sport involved. Otherwise, the excellent light of southern France did the rest. I did also "trick" the camera to extend my enlargement / telephoto capacity, by switching the sensor from 35mm "FX" format to Nikon's smaller "DX" format, which creates a "crop factor" of 1.5x the normal magnification of a 35mm lens.  Hence the reach of the 200mm lens was electronically extended to 300mm.

 

Settings

Copy

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 300mm

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/2500s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on tripod

 

The motto of this week’s blog is:

 

A) Be very careful in dangerous places and have a primary focus on safety, rather than on the image capture opportunities

B) If it comes to your health versus that of the camera – drop the camera!   

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Biarritz Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos Surfing φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/4/wipeout Fri, 15 Apr 2016 06:00:00 GMT
Staircase https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/staircase StaircaseStaircaseCopyrighted Digital Image

 

I was attracted to photograph this staircase when leaving a party on the third floor of a Haussmann period apartment on Avenue Niel. This building is from the second, 1860’s phase of the great Baron’s reconstruction of Paris.

The rules imposed a certain homogeneity to new residential construction, which contributes to the beautiful proportions of Paris’ streets to this day, but I never cease to be amazed and pleased by the variety and artistry visible in the individual buildings. They are a tribute to both the designs of architects and the skills of many artisans, such as the ironworkers, stonemasons, woodworkers and plasterers who provided the embellishments and finish to the main structure.

Almost every Haussmannian building seems to have a spiral staircase, although they are mainly hidden by the construction of lifts/elevators in the stairwell. These often-miniscule appliances are a joy to discover and I like to think that their forced intimacy is one of the reasons for Paris’ well-deserved reputation for romance. 

 

Fractals, Fibonacci Sequences and Spirals

“Fractals are repeating geometric patterns that combine to form a whole” says Leona Henryson in a fascinating article I recommend you to read at: http://www.creativebloq.com/design/math-every-designer-needs-know-91517049

This structure interested me for three reasons: the shape created by one flattened side of the spiral, the soft light suffusing the top floor and gradation of the soft creamy-brown tones of wood, varnish and paint.

Not being a Da Vinci, using the math of aesthetics is a subconscious endeavour for me. I am however, most sensitive to it when working with the crop tools in post-processing. Just as moving a few inches can change the impact of a potential photograph in the viewfinder prior to shooting, so infinitely small adjustments to how an image is “cut” and how it is proportioned (aspect ratio) create satisfaction or irritation. This is “felt” and is extremely difficult to explain in words.

 

Struggles

I am struggling with back pain at the moment, which is probably caused by my habit of carrying a photographic backpack and monopod most of the time! Consequently, I was under-equipped during this outing, limiting my carry to the D800 and an f2.8, 24-70mm zoom.

While the relatively wide angle and wide aperture available from the zoom were just what the doctor ordered in order to squeeze the staircase into the frame, I had no stabilisation device, which I could use to take a long exposure or to poke out into the centre of the airspace. I therefore used myself as the camera platform, painfully leaning over the balcony and twisting to point the camera upwards.

As far as the exposure was concerned, given low light and the need for some speed to minimise camera shake, I had to maximise the speed of the film and the speed of the shutter. A setting 6,400 ISO offered a speed of 1/125s, which I thought a reasonable compromise.

The insoluble problem then became depth of field. At f2.8, the bulk of the image was going to be in soft focus. I was in pain, uncomfortable and unsure, so I chose to take multiple images at differing focus points from near to medium distance to farthest away. Most of these turned out to be unattractive, but I found that this one provided a moderately satisfying compromise, with the psychologically important area of focus nearest the eye.

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 58 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6,400

Hand Held

 

I hope that you are in the habit of looking around you as you go through life, seeing how Creation and human creativity provides these shapes and light effects for you to savour. Maybe you can whip out your 12 megapixel Smartphone and capture it in a photograph?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Haussmann Nikon Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/staircase Fri, 01 Apr 2016 06:00:00 GMT
Trompe l'Oeil https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/trompe-loeil Trompe l'OeilTrompe l'Oeil

 

The Plaza Hotel New York, reflected in “The Pond” in Central Park is a kind of “fools the eye” use of a water reflection. This image can’t be trusted in other ways too. Primarily it is shown here upside down, given that its natural aspect was the wrong way up. The eye accepts this trickery and quickly identifies the trembling image with the real building, for anyone who has enjoyed a stroll in mid-town Manhattan. Such is the skill of human memory and eye-brain coordination.

 

Also the brain somehow presumes that the lower section of green is “watery”, while the upper section of grey-blue is cloud. Neither is true, as seen in the correctly aspected image below.

 

Trompe l'Oeil BTrompe l'Oeil B

 

Water Off A Duck’s Back?

 

I have processed this version of the image to make it easier for you to see that there is a duck standing on the rocks on the bottom right of the photograph. From this view, you can see that I was standing on the lakeshore in front of the duck, which I failed to notice in my excitement to capture the reflection, before the ripples of other passing ducks in the water destroyed the image. The poultry intrusion was somewhat mitigated by the camera’s excellent focus on the reflection of a far away object (the hotel), thereby rendering the near foreground somewhat blurry.

 

Once I noticed the duck, I could no longer blind myself to it in the 180 degree rotated version. However I share it with you, presuming that you  - like me – could not see it when all the initial attention was on identifying the hotel. If I scroll between the two versions, I now find that the duck irritatingly intrudes each time.

 

The first lesson that I like to encourage new photographers to learn is “Look carefully in the viewer”, which I failed to do here. Playing golf is said to be one way to learn humility. Being a photographer is another.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm f3.5- 4.5G 

Focal Length: 46mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/800s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

If you like trompe l’oeil, take a look at the Abstract portfolio on the website.  

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/trompe-loeil Fri, 25 Mar 2016 07:00:00 GMT
The Runner https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/the-runner The RunnerThe RunnerCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

This is one of many images that I like to take of people in silhouette. They frequently happen to be runners, but can also be captured going about their business in transparent sections of modern buildings, or be strongly backlit at night. I like the effect of anonymity, which places the emphasis on the action of the individual rather than who they are and creating a visual dynamic between the environment and the person.

 

Not least, I am not allowed, any more than you are, to make commercial use of identifiable people captured in most of the countries where I travel. Hence my photography generally avoids them completely or disguises them strongly, by blur, darkness or distance. I suppose that I am making an artistic virtue out of necessity.

 

I personally like the fact that the Runner almost seems to have been drawn in the image, although this effect was obtained in-camera, not in Photoshop.

 

Extracting Value

 

I present the original of the image below, in order to explain my thinking at the time of capture. As you can see from the technical notes, I was shooting from quite a distance, fully extending the zoom to 200mm. Since there was a stream of after-work runners taking this route, I walked closer to the scene and photographed from both sides of the bridge. None of the other images interested me as immediately as this one.

 

Being aesthetically focussed on the image of the runner, it was clear that most of the rest of the image was “busy”, indeed very distracting, and contributed nothing to a composition relevant to the main subject. Similarly, a standard “landscape” aspect ration would necessarily include fussy detail. After experimenting with the crop tool set to be unconstrained, I moved quickly to the narrow angle of the final version. This emphasised the angle of the bridge and the effort of the runner.

 

 

The Runner 2The Runner 2Copyrighted Digital Photograph

Technical

 

The darkness of twilight was stronger than is apparent in the image and so I first had to dial up the exposure compensation a little to +0.3, in order to satisfactorily illuminate the sunset and the Grand Palais in the background.

 

Equally I set a rather narrow aperture for this lighting situation, in order to maintain some background detail. These two settings naturally resulted in a very slow speed, which was perfectly satisfactory, however, given my intent to render the subject anonymously, the combination was perfect.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 200mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/15s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on a monopod

 

Do you like to “play” with speed settings and create abstracts or dreamlike results? I do. See more on my other website pages.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/the-runner Fri, 18 Mar 2016 00:05:12 GMT
Street Of The Dead : Road Of The Living https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/street-of-the-dead-road-of-the-living Blog 11 March 2016Blog 11 March 2016Copyrighted Digital Image

 

Cities of the dead are always fascinating. The customs of different cultures reflect the social and anthropological certainties of the living and their instructions to their survivors on how to handle their demise. The greatest such example that I know of in Europe is the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, closely followed by Highgate cemetery in London. Less well known is the Montmartre cemetery, nestling in an increasingly dense residential district nearby the Place de Clichy.

 

No Peace For The Wicked And The Good

 

Baron Haussmann (yes, him again) had the idea of creating the western access road to Montmartre, which became the Rue Caulaincourt. It necessitated the construction of a “viaduct” across the southeastern corner of the cemetery and required the displacement of a number of tombs where the pillars of the bridge now stand.  This gave rise to protests from the owners of the plots, who organised a petition against the bridge, which was voted on by the Senate in 1861. Along with the Franco-Prussian war and the Commune de Paris in 1870-71, this delayed the construction for decades. It was finally built in 1887, using “eminent domain” (“utilité publique”) authority.

 

A Callous Aesthetic

 

I like this treatment of the view, which has the cobbled Street of the Dead going left, “crossed” by the ironwork road of the living going right. I am particularly amused by the stylistic nod to funereal architecture in the Doric columns of the viaduct and the tonal register and verdant colour of the painted ironwork. These echo the Corinthian columns and pilasters of the facing tomb temples. All in all I find it strangely respectful, given the structural brutality of the bridge.

 

More emotionally, I find the clean, empty, ordered “street” somewhat sad. The effort to prolong life or the memory of life seems particularly pathetic in the face of the silence of the tomb and the emptiness of the road. Lifeless, leafless winter trees on the horizon just add to the effect.

 

Technical

 

The main issue on this occasion was the wide dynamic range between the late afternoon light on the trees and the darkness underneath the bridge. I estimated that the darkness would be easier to compensate than overexposure in the trees, so I applied a strong underexposure factor of    -2EV.

 

Even with this setting, some “HDR” reduction in highlights needed to be added, along with the application of the same slider to the shadows.


Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 24 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -2 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on Monopod/ braced on wall

 

I hope that you like this image enough to explore this sometimes-neglected haven of peace and quiet right next to Pigalle.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Cemetery Montmartre Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/street-of-the-dead-road-of-the-living Fri, 11 Mar 2016 07:00:00 GMT
Opening A Fern https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/opening-a-fern Blog 04 March 2016Blog 04 March 2016Copyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Yesterday New Zealand started its referendum process to keep or change its national flag. The new proposal, which I like, highlights a silver fern. Also yesterday, the new transport hub at World Trade Center opened in New York, spreading its enormous “wings”, the subject of this architectural study.

 

As I pondered these two events, I was drawn to the images I captured during a trip to New York last September. I circled the building site and framed the incomplete rib-like structure in different ways. The architect Santiago Calatrava had a mandate to produce a structure with a spiritual dimension to it and I felt its power as I tried to project its impact with a respectful photograph.

 

The building has been criticised by the New York Times as “a kitsch stegosaurus” and, indeed, other images of mine emphasise its “Jurassic appearance”. I am looking forward to seeing the completed building on another visit, but so far, I am a big fan of the design.

 

Abstraction

 

Had I not explained the source, the image itself gives little clue as to the gargantuan scale of the original. It could be a gate, or the top of a fence, but it is the abstraction from a size reference, which allows the mind to wander into other meanings, such as a plant, or a wing, or ribs. The human mind’s eye is wonderfully subtle and I think that artificial intelligence will only become a reality, when machines can decipher visual hints and spin them in to the kind of aesthetic adventures of which we are capable.

 

Technical

 

As the settings show, the light was wonderful that day. Exposure speed, aperture and film speed were all optimised and the quality of the light gave a soft glow to the cream-coloured sections of the structure.

 

A little tweaking by way of a crop was required to align the central spar in a pleasing way and a lot of annoying dust on the camera’s sensor had to be “healed”.    

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 125mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/18

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 160

Mounted on a monopod

 

I think this is a daring construction in a sensitive place. I hope that it will prove to be a building that New Yorkers will enjoy seeing and using. I look forward myself to using it one day.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art New York Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/3/opening-a-fern Fri, 04 Mar 2016 07:00:00 GMT
Irish Jig https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/2/irish-jig Irish Jig 1Irish Jig 1Copyrighted Digital Photograph

 

I love trying to capture the excitement of performances and the sense of the music, usually at Jazz events. Here are two images of Irish traditional music, taken within 44 seconds of each other: the clear one using flash and the blurred one in ambient light.

 

Irish Jig 2Irish Jig 2Copyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Completely opening my photographer’s heart to you, I honestly cannot remember whether the absence of flash in the blurry version was intentional, or a lapse on my part. In my defence, the majority of the dozens of images I shot that night in Carr’s Irish Pub in Paris were taken in ambient light, so as not to antagonise the musicians or the audience. These resulted in many faulted images as well as some “atmospheric” ones and heavily relied on my typical methodology of “feeling” the music so as to time capture at a moment when the musician is relatively still.

 

I did use flash on occasion, with the intention of providing a record of the event for the musicians, but I frankly found these uninspiring, reminding me of the kind of images anthropologists bring back from a field trip among indigenous peoples. The “freezing” effect of flash is not merely mechanical and optical, but is extremely anti-aesthetic in this case, resulting in the fishy gaze of the lady fiddler.

 

Feelin’ It

 

I have been an enormous fan of traditional music all my life, very likely as a result of a childhood in Scotland with frequent bursts of bagpipes at celebratory occasions and the strong sense of identity that this engendered. It was strengthened, firstly at university in Ireland, where I saw the Chieftains play, long before they became world famous, and in London after graduation, where I was introduced to the incredible live music of refugees from Pinochet’s Chile, such as Inti Illimani and Quilapayun, as well as the posthumous grandeur of Victor Jara.
 

For whatever reason, traditional music (I dislike the expression “world” music) moves me viscerally, through the range from profound joy to tearful sadness. I cannot sit still when listening, not only because most of such music is deeply rhythmic and often heavily uses percussion to set the beat, but simply because it excites me. It is the one kind of music that will make me get up and dance, particularly to Arab rhythms, I must say.

 

I admit that it is often simple in form and predictable in performance, but this very predictability of the familiar is what enters the soul and reverberates around a receptive heart – which brings us to how to evoke such abstract notions in a photograph.

 

The Power Of Blur

 

I purposely use blur to create abstracts, although as said above, I cannot claim a conscious intent to do this on this occasion. I wonder whether the fact of having been present at the event, knowing the music that was played and having a great love for the genre makes the sense of wild abandon by musicians in a trance more real? I would really like your feedback on what this image evokes in you, or not. The other cultural references add to the effect, for me. The pub environment, casual clothing and half-empty glasses of Kilkenny Ale, dreamily hovering in front of the ecstatic fiddlers.     

 

Technical Treatment

 

Counter intuitively, I sharpened the image aggressively in post processing. This was in order to resolve the violins and the bows as much as possible. I had no fear of creating the intrusive artefacts, which this would normally generate, because there are artefacts aplenty due to the slow speed and the rapid movement. I had to play with the contrast and brightness a little because the original was somewhat “flat”, but this was a simple set of adjustments.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 60mm f/2.8D, “Prime”

Focal Length: 60mm

VR:  Not applicable

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 2.8s

Flash: Off

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on a monopod

 

I would really appreciate any comment that you would like to leave on the Blog page or Linkedin. I would like to take part in a conversation about it.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 60mm Prime AMDG Art Fine Art Irish Jig Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/2/irish-jig Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:30:00 GMT
City Of Light https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/2/city-of-light City Of LightCity Of LightCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Paris has so many faces: from rundown, paint peeling charm, through bourgeois elegance to wedding-cake extravagance. It is also justifiably famous for the quality of its light, which has a lot to do with the absence of high buildings reducing the natural light and creating shadows, in my opinion. This is most obvious at dawn and sunset, particularly with the slanting, more distant, softer light of winter. It can also be made interesting by Paris’ wide use of architectural illumination.

 

Then there are the bursts of construction extravagance that make it such a daring showcase for great architecture, whether it be the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramide du Louvre, or, in this case the Grand Palais. This image concentrates the extravagance of the building and decoration with the use of artificial light.

 

Wedding Cake

 

For some reason this view has a very celebratory feel for me, evoking a psychedelic wedding cake. Admittedly, instead of the traditional bride and groom we have a wild composition of “L'Harmonie triumphant de la discorde” above the southern door. The one above the main door on the Champs Elysees also bears an imaginative name, being “L'Immortalité devançant le temps”. I know, on the other hand, that I am pushing the cake metaphor too far, when I see the blue dome as a garish British pudding (or even a jelly), instead of the habitual French croquembouche tower of choux pastry balls.

 

Beaux Arts

 

The artistic and aesthetic intention of the edifice is expressed on the inscription above the main door “Ce Monument a été consacré par la République à la Gloire de l’Art Français ». I personally tip my hat to the success of that endeavour and am so relieved that civic vandals were not allowed to demolish it when it fell into disrepair in the 1960’s (shame on you Le Corbusier!)  

 

Exploring The Limits

 

The view encompassed a high dynamic range from the bright lamps to the dark background, exposure was “long”, aperture was wide open, ISO was maxed out and the heavy body and lens were hand-held, albeit mitigated by the use of a monopod and Vibration Reduction. None of the above is an ideal recipe for a well-exposed, sharp, colour-true image. Clearly, I tried to ensure minimal success by efforts to stabilise myself when shooting and by using bracketing to optimise exposure and sharpness alternatives.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 125mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Mounted on a monopod

 

Like last week’s blog, I think that this image is easily challenged aesthetically, given the mish-mash of colours and forms swirling around the building. I just like the celebratory nature of it as an “out there” Parisian statement of chutzpah.  

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/2/city-of-light Fri, 19 Feb 2016 07:00:00 GMT
Is This Annoying? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/2/is-this-annoying Is This Annoying?Is This Annoying?Copyrighted Digital Photograph

 

This image is “skewed” to the left for the very simple reason that, when I tried to frame the image straight on to the Grande Arche, the view was blocked by a couple who were embracing in my line of sight. Since I was not trying to recreate a romantic Doisneau scene of modern Paris and I wanted to include as much depth as possible of the bridge’s deck, I compromised by swinging my viewpoint a few degrees.

 

Even as I took the photo, I was unsure about the aesthetic of the off-centre direction of the bridge and the consequent bias of the planking. There was also a danger of moiré in the mid distance, given my camera’s high-resolution tendency to allowing that effect.

 

Equally, I have scrutinised it so often for vertical distortion, that my brain has lost the sensitivity to figure out if the Grande Arche is correctly displayed, or not. Do you have a view? I am also wondering whether I am being influenced by “classic” images of pontoons in water, some of which I have done myself, where the structure presses out at 90 degrees to the shore.
 

A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu

 

All of that said, my urge to capture this image was built upon years of memories of walking its planks, alone or in company, often musing on workplace issues and many times sharing wonderful intimacy in conversation with dear friends. During those times, it was usually crowded with other walkers, picnickers, lovers, runners and tourists.

 

In times of personal tension, I used to take a stroll there, during the working day, in order to work out how to deal with whatever issue was bothering me. At those times, there were often very few passers by. I felt very grateful for these meditative times, so, finding it well nigh empty gave me an urge to freeze this fleeting moment of pure silence and form.

 

Technical

 

  Apart from the framing problem, this was a relatively standard set-up using a Perspective Control lens mounted on a tripod. The manual focus appears to have been correctly set at hyper-focal distance, keeping the image sharp from front to back.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D

Focal Length: 24mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/22

Shutter Speed: 1/60s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Mounted on Tripod

 

Any thoughts you have about the aesthetic qualities, or faults, of this image would be very welcome.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Grande Arche Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/2/is-this-annoying Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:00:00 GMT
Born To Blush Unseen https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/1/born-to-blush-unseen Born To Blush UnseenBorn To Blush UnseenBorn To Blush Unseen

 

“Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen…” says Gray’s Elegy. I found this baby fern in the undergrowth on the edge of a volcanic crater on the island of Hawaii. The light was generally poor in the dense vegetation, but here and there, shafts of sunlight illuminated small pools, in one of which stood this little plant. In the murky surrounding light, it glowed. Its soft lilac colour and delicate shape seemed a statement of new life rising amid the brown foliage of its dying and dead predecessors.

 

I was rooted to the spot when I saw it, struck by the ephemeral beauty of its fragility, its progress towards maturity and the changing light conditions in which it was bathed. Coming to my photographic senses, I hurried to try and capture an image before the momentary illumination passed.        

 

Bobbing and weaving

 

The visual magic was somewhat dimmed by the difficulties of finding a suitable position in which to crouch among low lying branches and the squelching, dead undergrowth in the muddy ground. I was using a monopod, but because I was nearly squatting on the ground, I could not take up the “tripod” stance, using my legs as complementary balance. Despite my best efforts, I therefore found myself rocking backwards and forwards on the balls of my feet. I thought to fight this problem by setting a fast shutter speed and shutter priority, but given the poor lighting this generated the maximum wide aperture of 2.8. I could have tried much higher ISO in order to squeeze out some more depth-of-field from a narrower aperture, but I was determined to honour the delicacy of the fern’s colour and shape by staying within relatively high quality “film” parameters.

 

Photography is full of such decision-making trees. Unfortunately the ephemeral nature of light often prevents trying out even a few of the possible permutations.   

 

Technical

 

As outlined above, the capture required relatively aggressive settings, particularly prioritising a high shutter speed. Vibration Reduction was switched off, because it is ineffective and even disruptive at speeds above 1/500s on my Nikon setup.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 200mm

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/1000s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on a monopod

 

I was truly touched by the delicacy and beauty of this plant, which was unlikely to be seen in this light and at this stage by any other human being than me. I hope that my efforts to preserve it for you have been worthwhile.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fern Fine Art Hawaii Manhattan Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/1/born-to-blush-unseen Fri, 29 Jan 2016 17:27:05 GMT
Hommage To Paul Strand https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/1/hommage-to-paul-strand Hommage To Paul StrandHommage To Paul StrandCopyrighted Digital Photograph

I am grateful to an artist and photographic teacher, who also happens to be my cousin, for introducing me to the early 20th century American photographer Paul Strand, after I had posted the image of the French Finance Ministry on 4 December. He was struck by the way the structure of the building and its dominance of the small human figure evokes an iconic work of Strand. This is the image to which he referred (courtesy Wikipedia)

 

Paul StrandPaul Strand

 

When I delved into Strand’s artistic journey, I very much empathised with some of his ideas, tastes and love of design and the abstract. However, given my aversion to photographing people, I differ from him greatly, given his mastery of the portrait.

 

I also watched some of his early film clips, which used a somewhat eerie perspective from high above the street, with a plunging view of pedestrians as “ants” scuttling about their business. So, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…”

 

...Or Is It?

 

The fact is, that both December’s and today’s images were taken prior to ever knowing about Strand, albeit only a month or two beforehand. My view is that as “aesthetics” is the study of beauty and truth is the corollary of beauty, all genuine artistic creativity is somehow convergent towards true beauty. “Great minds think alike”, you might say. Let’s forget the second part of that saying, since it doesn’t make my case.

 

I obviously share visual tastes with Strand, but I come to them for different reasons. He, for example, was much influenced by the inter-war explosion of abstract art, which he first discovered in the gallery of his own icon and teacher Stieglitz, but my own art tastes are far more classical. He was privileged to have early photographic education at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York (which I lived next door to for 4 years) and to be taken under the wing of luminaries like Stieglitz, while I am self-taught.

 

Whatever the reason, I love his urban images and dare to hope that he might have liked some of mine.

 

Technical

 

This was a hand-held, “snatched”, “street photography” image taken in the Paris Metro. Even boosting ISO to 6400 and limiting depth of field to f9 only produced a speed of 1/50s. I shot several images in order to catch the moving pedestrians in mid-walk and/or obtain a pleasing distribution of figures in the scene. Then I packed up and left before the heavy hand of “Security” fell upon me.

 

Having denied Strand’s influence on my choice of image, I did develop this image on-screen with Strand very much in mind. I hope that I succeeded.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 56 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Hand held

 

If you would like to find out more about Strand, you might like to start with the video to which I was referred:

 

http://youtu.be/dP5YTqqoAqA

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Paul Strand Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/1/hommage-to-paul-strand Fri, 22 Jan 2016 07:03:07 GMT
Hommage à Mondrian https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/1/hommage-mondrian Hommage à MondrianHommage à Mondrian

 

Influences

 

I have written before about the unconscious influence of accumulated art appreciation on my taste in images and composition of subjects. In this case, when I came across a tastefully decorated building in Columbia University’s Manhattan campus I was entirely conscious of a graphic connection to the work of Piet Mondrian and wanted to honour it.

 

It may be that the architect was similarly touched by the style of the abstract painter, although the entire building does not give the Mondrian effect, only the section that I chose to frame. Therefore, this is a small section of a large edifice, photographed from a few feet away. Happily, a bright sunny day in a New York Summer provided sharp, dark shadows, which fit in with the black line structures in Mondrian’s works.

 

Since a hommage should still respect the style of the honourer, as well as the honouree, I enjoyed the challenge of using the linear forms and texture of the surfaces to compensate for the total absence of the primary colours that so characterise the painter. That said, a few of his works are almost absent of colour and consist of linear patterns on white.

 

The Henri Cartier Bresson “Dance”

 

Talking of influences.there is film of HCB engaged in street photography, where he bobs and weaves, ducks and dives, as he searches for the perfect frame for his targeted subject. Due to A) my lack of a monopod or tripod to stabilise the camera and B) my desire to achieve a direct print, with no cropping, my “dance” on this occasion consisted of microscopic movements. (Honest admission: I eventually did have to crop a tiny amount from the right hand edge)

 

When paying maximum attention to what is in the viewer,

I always need to take small steps to left and right, forward and backwards, when framing scenes, in order to move the elements of the scene marginally, into the – hopefully - perfect arrangement. Similarly when moving around in a particular place, I always turn around and look back at what I may have already photographed, because the perspective and composition will have change into something quite different, even in a short distance.

 

Technical

 

Due to the marvelous light, this was an easy image to set up. ISO, aperture and speed were all perfect assists to the lack of a tripod to frame the image inch perfectly.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 60mm f2.8D Prime

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 200

Hand held

 

How deep are the visual influences that unconsciously affect you when you frame an image? Do you connect your appreciation of visual art to your photography?

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2016

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 60mm Prime AMDG Art Fine Art New York Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2016/1/hommage-mondrian Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:00:00 GMT
Happy Christmas! https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/12/happy-christmas Happy Christmas!Happy Christmas!

 

Happy Christmas!

 

On the basis that this is a season of time when people of every faith and of none may take a moment to reflect on their joys and pains and on the meaning of human existence, I post this image of Lincoln Plaza New York.

 

May you all enjoy a time of quiet reflection and fun with friends and family.

 

Paul

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Happy Christmas Manhattan Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/12/happy-christmas Fri, 25 Dec 2015 08:00:00 GMT
Siege Engine https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/12/siege-engine Siege EngineSiege Engine

Keeping Faith With The Past

 

I fear that I am somewhat of an architectural pedant, who needs to be convinced of the appropriateness of mixing ancient and modern. I love stand-alone modernity and I can be mollified by daring designs such as the Pyramide du Louvre, but I remain offended by other intrusions, such as the London Eye. In 1996, I actually appealed through my Member of Parliament against the building of the latter. However, I was severely put back in my box by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Selwyn Gummer, who replied that he was “not allowed to ‘call in’ the planning application”, because the construction was “temporary”. About as temporary as the Eiffel Tower has turned out to be, I imagine.

 

That said, during a journey last week (the reason for the absence of that week’s blog), I was favourably struck by this Swiss solution at the Chateau de Nyon in the Canton of Vaud. Medieval Swiss fortresses remind me of my Scottish homeland, in that they are spare, functional designs with relatively little modern adaptations to convert them into homes. Perhaps the Calvinist traditions of both countries also influence the lack of decoration, not going down the path of the French, whose culture allowed  “improvements” to Gothic exuberance by the romantic treatments of Violet le Duc, for example.

 

The result is a complementarity of engineering-led medieval and 21st century design. The pure victory of function over form, you might say, since the elevator serves a municipal car park built into the hill. Simplicity is the key, which results, for me, from an aesthetic sensitivity on the part of the modern architects, to allow the eye to see through the new construction, so as to give prominence to the older work.

 

Siege Engine

 

On an imaginative level, I was first and foremost struck by the resemblance of this elevator to a siege engine, the engineering answer to attacking fortresses since time immemorial. It seemed wholly in keeping with the military defences in the chateau: the glacis, fosse, earthworks, turrets, ramparts, loopholes, curtain walls and the keep.

 

Its functional, steel structure is emphasised by the dark grey paint and the transparency of the glass walls. Its shape and orientation to the building create the image of a pending assault. The long preparations for attacking the walls are emphasised by the fascine-like plant bundles “filling” the fosse, in order to allow the infantry to cross and set ladders against the walls, while the knights fight their way across the bridge of the siege engine.

 

Technical

 

The composition breaks the “rule of thirds”, since it is constructed in quarters, with the centre point at the top left corner of the elevator. When I opened the image in my new processing engine Capture One 9, I was surprised and gratified to find that my hand-held capture had framed the composition precisely, without recourse to the inbuilt Virtual Horizon of the camera. Comes from having a practiced eye, I suppose.

 

The wonderful clear winter sky provided all the light necessary for hand-held exposure at a deep depth of field. At the same time, December's reduced glare gave a comfortable treatment to the white-painted chateau, both in sunshine and shadow, aided by a small “exposure adjustment of -0.3 EV.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 98mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/20

Shutter Speed: 1/160s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Hand held

 

What are your architectural preferences? Do you sympathise with mine, or not? Let me know your thoughts by commenting on my blog page.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Capture One 9 Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/12/siege-engine Fri, 18 Dec 2015 08:00:00 GMT
Now I Am Become Finance Man… https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/12/now-i-am-become-finance-man Now I Am Become Finance ManNow I Am Become Finance Man

This image evokes in me the famous quote by Robert Oppenheimer on the occasion of the first test of an atomic bomb on July 16 1945. He quoted the Bhagavad Gita and said: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

 

The puny Finance Man in the bottom left of the photograph stretches out his arms to the world in the garden of the French Ministry of Finance and represents the power of money to create and to destroy, particularly the latter, which has been felt worldwide since 2008.

 

Contrasting Crop Sizes

 

For me, his human insignificance in the face of the powerful monetary bureaucracy is evoked by the contrast of his human scale with the vast, almost “brutalist” architecture. The tiny corner of the image which he “owns” is crushed by the oppressive size and dark, prison bars of the edifice.

 

I tried an alternative, “tight” crop, which would have shown him larger and more visible, but the oppressive effect of the juxtaposition is lost.

 

Development

 

Post processing this image mainly required attention to the lens distortion in the verticals, dealt with by the application of an image-bending tool, as well as a problem of moiré, visible in the pattern on the edge of the horizontal girders. The latter is a rare, but inevitable product of the D800 camera’s high-resolution image sensor. Although much discussed at the camera’s launch, moiré is a rarer phenomenon than its users had feared. I was, however obliged to go lightly on the sharpening of the RAW file on this occasion, since it significantly worsened the moiré.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 38 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Held on Monopod

 

Hoping that this photograph does not give bad feelings to those of us heading to the end of the French fiscal year, I hope that you will take little tour of my main website.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/12/now-i-am-become-finance-man Fri, 04 Dec 2015 18:17:36 GMT
DUMBO https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/dumbo DUMBODUMBO

No, this is clearly not Disney’s cute little flying elephant, but a district of Brooklyn between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, rebranded by the enterprising property developer who coined « Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass » as a cute acronym. Now it is a tech startup centre of excellence and one of the most expensive sections of Brooklyn.

 

I chose to present the image in black and white as a tribute to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Monochrome Architecture

 

The photograph was taken on the night of the recent combined “supermoon” and “blood moon”, an hour prior to the eclipse. Since the colour version draws the eye more to the bright moon than to the structures below, I converted it to monochrome to emphasise the man-made structures over nature and to highlight the Brooklyn bridge, whose age is more in keeping with black. Equally is camouflaged the modernity of the swathe of recent building in DUMBO.

 

Development

 

After applying a monochrome treatment to the original Raw file, the most delicate issue was to balance the brightness of the moon with the darkness of the land and water. This was achieved by applying shadow lightening to the lower half of the image, defined with a Selection Gradient. In this case.

 

The tool gradually fades in strength from bottom to top, thereby making a gradation in the effect of the shadow darkening.

 

It is interesting that sharpness is acceptable from near to far in this image, despite the application of an f4 aperture, but the start of the image is, in fact, about half a mile from where I was shooting.

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Normal

Aperture: f/4

Shutter Speed: 1/4s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Fixed on Tripod with camera bag as counterweight.

 

I confess that I must invest time in investigating Brooklyn during my next New York trip, it is truly worth it, and I don’t mean just for the views of Manhattan!

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Manhattan Moon New Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/dumbo Fri, 27 Nov 2015 05:00:00 GMT
Art Imitating Art Imitating Spirit https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/art-imitating-art-imitating-spirit Art Imitating ArtArt Imitating Art

I was attracted to this angel hovering above us during a recent tour of La Madelaine church given by one of the priests. He explained the theologically androgynous nature of angels had always posed a problem for artists, who generally have insisted on “sexing” them either as male or female. The (unfortunately anonymous) creator of this one seems to have hit the spot in terms of keeping sex out of the equation.

 

What attracted me was the definitively ethereal nature of the creation, which beautifully speaks to the spirit nature of the subject.  That said, another artistic feature which is non-theological has been the depiction of angels with wings, gowns and harps: a Hallmark Christmas card rendition reflecting non-scriptural traditions going back to medieval times. This artist has rendered the wings and the gown, but thankfully not the harp.

 

However, I forgave the artistic licence and enjoyed the formless, floating image of peace and protection that was so successfully depicted in chicken wire. The element that most touched me in this sculpture is the face, which is so delicately rendered in front of the right “wing”. The angel seems to look down on us with no visible expression, but with a tilt of the head, which says, “I will protect you”.

 

Art Imitating Art

 

In this case, I accept that it is somewhat pretentious to qualify my image of this work as “art”. I claim it nevertheless, because it is, in fact, one of very few photographs that I took in the Madelaine, the others being plainly architectural, rather than spiritually sensitive.

 

I cropped and rendered the colour treatment to be “vivid” in order to enhance the focus on the angel, rather than its surroundings. I also enjoy the happenstance of the blurring of the gown and the right wing, which was a function of the wide aperture setting. It seems, in my imagination, to be the beginning of the disappearance of the angelic apparition.

 

The Capture

 

Being part of a walking tour, I only had a minute to set up and photograph the art piece above our heads. Out of respect for the place, flash was out of the question, so a speed boost to 6400 was required. Even so, with aperture priority, the diaphragm flipped to f 2.8 and the speed to 1/50th second.

 

“Reach” was fine, thanks to the zoom, which only needed 95mm of 200mm to frame reasonably tightly on the angel hanging from the enormous ceiling. That said, the vibration reduction function was fully called for to enable a workable image. In thinking about that, were I to reshoot the image, I would also try with no VR, just in order to create more blur and more of an ephemeral look to the scene.

 

Finally, I did use the monopod, angled sharply to enable a high shot, since my camera was mounted on a fixed plate, rather than a ball head.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 95mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.1 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Mounted on monopod

 

We are promised an innovative crèche this year at the Madelaine, which traditionally invites local artists to express their individualistic expression of the Christmas story. I shall certainly return to see what transpires and perhaps to be inspired myself once again.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/art-imitating-art-imitating-spirit Fri, 20 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Paris Photo https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/paris-photo  

 

Paris PhotoParis Photo

I photograph the venue very time that I visit the annual Paris Photo show at le Grand Palais. The sheer exuberance of the original Art Nouveau design and its execution in cast iron is sublime, competing very effectively with the art below. Here is today’s example, photographed an hour before my time of writing today’s blog.

 

The Photographers

 

I found the breadth of vision on display very inspiring. Even traditional genres, such as portraiture, were taken into unexpected directions. Some were “classical”, in the sense of sticking only to the use of lighting, composition and inventive presentations, while others were completely off the charts. Much was run of the mill, of course, or sought to attract interest via sex or morbid interest in the ails and ills of others.

 

Among the visionaries, one “image” was certainly a representation of a photograph, but the artist had created a three-dimensional array of wires onto which he had painted the image. Viewed from the side, it was a “trompe l’oeuil, invisible until it came into focus front-on. The work was not simply imaginative and skillful; it added an eerie depth and felling to the image that it revealed.

 

Another image was a beautiful combination of painted glass and video of a waterfall, synchronized down three screens, altogether the height of a wall. The silent shimmering spray was captivating, peaceful and beautiful in its delicate colours and movements. A kind of visual meditation, I thought.

 

As always, the displays were a mixture of historical gems, such as the original copper plates used to print the Native American portraits of Edward S. Curtis and the work of highly established artists like my recent discovery, Michael Kenna. The absolute highlight for me was a single nature image by Sebastiao Salgadao, which glowed in all its black and white beauty and seemed to be alive and moving. I came dangerously close to refinancing my home for that one.

 

The Fine Art Printers

 

It became even clearer to me during this visit than ever before, that many artists owe the ultimate quality and value of their work to the technical and aesthetic skills of their Fine Art printers. This was so striking to me, that I now understand that a real partnership between the image-maker and the image printer could render images beautiful, which, up to now, I might have discarded as unworthy of fine art status. I fully intend from here on to work at achieving much deeper cooperation with the printers of my fine art work.

 

The Artists’ Representatives

 

At first sight, the commercial side of the affair is an unedifying circus. That said, I had several conversations with gallery staff, which clearly demonstrated their own appreciation and enjoyment of the work in which I, at least, was interested. The Curtis copper plates, for example, have never been seen outside of the United States. Indeed the vast majority of them never will be, given that the Smithsonian has now acquired them.

 

So, I was grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to just bask in the metallic glow of these beautiful artifacts. The Gallery owner Bruce Kapson was also so kind as to advise me (and you) that Curtis’ original published work is available to view, on special, but easy to obtain approval, at the New York Public Library. I will be heading straight there during my next visit! In the same vein, I have to thank all these galleries for assembling a cornucopia of pleasure and inspiration for the tens of thousands who will never buy anything, other than their ticket, or a photo book, during the Salon. The excitement that they generate definitely spills over onto the generality of photographic artists, whom they do not represent and from whom they earn nothing.

 

Settings

 

Lacking a support for the camera, I shot hand-held and chose a speed setting to compensate, making up for the light deficit with a very high ISO.

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 3200

Hand Held

 

Thank you and “good luck!” to all the established and “emerging” photographers exhibiting today. I personally felt very encouraged to plough my own artistic furrow and hope to join them in the not too distant future.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paris Photo Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/paris-photo Thu, 12 Nov 2015 23:05:00 GMT
Dandelion https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/dandelion  

DandelionDandelion

From Nature to Abstract

 

I was stopped in my tracks in the Greek countryside by a very simple light effect. Some dandelions in front of a mass of bushes were lit by a shaft of late afternoon sunlight, which missed the background plants. They seemed ethereal and unusually still on that sweet, calm day.

 

After a moment’s pleasure staring at the sight, I decided to try and capture the amazing light and the delicate tracery of a plant that Nature calls beautiful and that we call a weed.

 

Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are

 

I was not specifically equipped for Nature close-up photography, although, because it was small and light, I was carrying an old, 24mm lens, which did not benefit from all the electronic connectivity that my digital camera body could deliver. As you may know, all such “legacy” Nikon lenses will connect to even the latest bodies, although their capacity to benefit from current high-tech is limited. The “glass” is still excellent, of course, and a little ingenuity can still deliver excellent results. Rooting around in a junk store can still provide you with a happy surprise!  Also, I was hulking a solid tripod, which assisted the setup.

 

The Capture

 

I am presuming that we have all blown the petals of dandelions and watched the ease with which they detach in the lightest breeze and fly into the distance. Calm as the day was, some had already been blown from the centre of my target, which I think opens up the structure in a pleasing way, creating a kind of crown, or halo effect. I wanted to both “freeze” any movement and to blur anything behind, so I needed both a wide aperture and a fast speed. Given the lighting conditions, setting the lens’ widest aperture already generated a very fast speed. Setting a fast speed under shutter priority would have given the same result, but I went with the first offer, so to speak. The result was deep enough for the little flower and fast enough to trap the fine detail.

 

The Treatment

 

I have several ideas for using this image, at least three in fact, and since the original image was not as overall dark, nor as contrasty as this version, what did I do?

 

Firstly I used the “Contrast” slider to heavily twist the original, natural view into this abstract concentration on the shape and structure of the plant. Then I selectively used the “Retouch” function to paint out the residual traces of the flowers on the bushes behind.

 

In fact, this is the result of very little intervention, although it is a highly distorted – or abstract – version of the original.

 

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: 24mm f3.5D

Focal Length: 24 mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/3.5

Shutter Speed: 1/3200s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Tripod

 

If you want to see the other uses of this image, come back in a week or so to my website Limited edition pages.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/11/dandelion Fri, 06 Nov 2015 06:30:00 GMT
1 World Trade Center https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/1-world-trade-center 1 World Trade Center1 World Trade Center

 

“Location, Location, Location”

 

No, I don’t mean buying the most prime real estate in the world with a handful of trinkets from a group of native Americans who happened to be passing by that day and probably did not claim to own it anyway. I mean finding the view of western, lower Manhattan, which would allow a full, face-on view of the new tower.

 

Serendipity played its role, as I travelled to a friend’s birthday party in a building on the shoreline of Hoboken, just before sunset. The ferry gave some attractive views during the crossing, but the pitch, yaw and roll of a fast launch crossing a great river is not ideal for photographic stability. Instead the attractive quayside and pontoon sections jutting into the river Hudson offered magnificent views of midtown and lower Manhattan with the sun setting in the West behind the camera.

 

The Art Of The Possible

 

Architect Daniel Libeskind’s various designs for this building are lighter, more shapely curved and complex than this final compromise between the desires of the promoter, the city and the designer. That said, for me the external effect is much more attractive than the buildings it replaced. The reflectiveness and transparency of the cladding create a changing surface, reflecting the surrounding buildings and clouds and allowing the starry, speckled lights to glow in the early evening.

 

Structurally, the plunging lines of its triangular sections create a more visually dramatic effect than previously and the particular angle that I chose seeks to maximise the thrust of the central section down to near the ground.

 

Emotionally, it is hard not to draw a breath at the frequent passing of helicopters in front of the building and of aircraft in the sky behind it, given its status as a defiant challenge to those who bear ill will towards America. I did experiment with including some of these in other images, but I felt that this was unfeeling and improper.

 

Technical

 

The technical challenges were straightforward. Because I was carrying a monopod instead of a tripod, I had to make one compromise in order to achieve acceptable sharpness. This was to apply Shutter Priority and force a speed of 1/500s, which is a recommended cut off point for switching off Vibration Control. As a consequence of this, the light level from a setting sun necessitated the use of a less than ideal ISO of 2500. This defect seems to have resulted in a pleasing (at least to me) softening of the detail on the different faces of buildings reflecting the light.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 185mm

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 2500

Mounted on monopod

 

Having lived in New York between 2005 and 2008, I felt some compassion and satisfaction that the city is finally taking a breath and settling down to a new and vibrant, post 9/11 era. Ground Zero is now a dignified memorial and 1 World Trade Center contributes to the hustle and bustle of the 5 Boroughs. May it do so in peace.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015 All Rights Reserved

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Manhattan Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/1-world-trade-center Fri, 30 Oct 2015 06:15:00 GMT
Electrowerkz 15 October 2015 https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/electrowerkz-15-october-2015 Alex Golding B&WAlex Golding B&WCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Alex GoldingAlex GoldingCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Event Photography

 

Although my photography is driven by my love of the natural and built environment, my marriage to a Jazz singer introduced me, rather later in life than for most people, to the world of live music. This brings photographic challenges and unique experiences, generated by the combination of performers’ artistry and individuality allied to their staging, particularly the low level of overall lighting and the extreme colour combinations which are generated.

 

This photograph (the black and white is simply a treatment of the original colour image) was taken at the launch of the band Goldtripper and their new EP in the darkly industrial space Electrowerkz at the Angel, Islington in London. The image is of the band leader Alex Golding strutting his stuff.

 

The black-dark, standing-room-only hall was filled with jumping, dancing, yelling youth, excited by deafening music and I know not what else. After asking permission to photograph from the stage manager, I extricated myself to a ledge a few meters away from the performers, which gave me just enough isolation and elevation to safely use a monopod and to photograph while avoiding the crowd.

 

Focus on the action

 

I frequently change settings in order to: achieve different effects; counter different lighting schemes, or handle different behaviours by the performers. The challenging lighting conditions require the use of “centre-weighted” or “spot” exposure reading settings, rather than “matrix”, which will try to produce an averaged reading for the scene. Clearly this will ignore the image area surrounding the main target, but I personally love the gloomy effect of isolating the high-lit performer. Beyond that came the need to capture the dramatic moment.

 

Given the above, as can be seen from the settings below, this image was captured with an emphasis on speed, rather than quality, given that the performer was moving fast and unexpectedly at this point. This drove the choice of the D800’s highest “native” ISO of 6400 and resulting speed of 1/500s. I had left the vibration reduction on, although 1/500 is at the high end of useability for VR, because the diaphragm was set to f2.8 and I did not benefit from any tolerance level for loss of sharpness. I have to here give honour to Nikon’s automatic focussing mechanism, which delivered excellent results despite rapid changes in the target’s movements and in sub-par light.

 

To Colour Or Not To Colour, That Is The Question

 

I am torn between the “real” image and its Black and White treatment. I like both. The former gives a sense of time and place, a “now” photograph, if you will, while the latter is more timeless and generates references to myriads of performance images from the past.

 

I still cannot define clearly what is the fundamental attraction of Black and White and I am amused that I write it with capitals, which seems to flow from a sense of its special quality. Partly it seems to be the historic weight of iconic images made with the silver gelatin process, but this does not explain why its use persisted for high art work even as colour became increasingly available. Its use by the fashion photographers of Vogue magazine, or the erotic art of Helmut Newton (who worked for French Vogue) come to mind. Conversely, I am fascinated with the failure of my principal mentor Henri Cartier Bresson to use colour well, despite his unique skills in black and white. There seems to be a joy in the human eye to “see” in terms of black and white?

 

Post-processing

 

This conversion was not done out of necessity, for example when struggling to handle the “bloom” effect caused by red stage lights. I hate them! I like the green effect, but I clicked the “monochrome” button and made just a few adjustments thereafter. Apart from some sharpening, I concentrated on optimising contrast, using a black and white “Control Point” on the black plastic section of the guitar and  darkening the area surrounding the performer. The aim was to “pull” Alex out from the dusty backstage and focus on his energy and emotion.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,

Focal Length: 116mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Mirror:  UP

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Centre Weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Mounted on monopod

 

The audience enjoyed the noise and the drama of the performance in a 1960’s Cavern Club lookalike space. I hope that you did too.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015 All Rights Reserved

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Alex Golding Electrowerkz Fine Art Goldtripper Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/electrowerkz-15-october-2015 Sun, 25 Oct 2015 16:34:58 GMT
Flatiron Icon https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/flatiron-icon Flatiron IconFlatiron IconCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Many architectural photographers are drawn to this subject, such as Edward
Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz, initially because of its unique place in the history of steel fabricated structures, but more emotionally because of its special visual charm and its role as the precursor of the defining, “reach for the sky” ethos of Manhattan. Wikipedia describes it thus: “The Flatiron Building was designed by Chicago's
Daniel Burnham as a vertical Renaissance palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling… Unlike New York's early skyscrapers, which took the form of towers arising from a lower, blockier mass, such as the contemporary Singer Building (1902–1908), the Flatiron Building epitomizes the Chicago school conception:… like a classical Greek column, its facade – limestone at the bottom changing to glazed terra-cotta from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company in Tottenville, Staten Island as the floors rise…– is divided into a base, shaft and capital”. I am no exception and I scurried downtown to photograph it, as soon as I arrived in New York earlier this month.

 

Form and Function

 

The Flatiron building is clearly the antithesis of the above-mentioned principle, given that its unusual footprint makes it difficult to use the interior spaces efficiently. It is more to be appreciated for its visual chutzpah and decorative flair than for its use as offices. Perhaps it would serve better as apartments? This is now highly unlikely, given that it has achieved the status of historically protected edifice.

 

The builders were very conscious of the visual effect that the building would make, as the prow of a ship pressing its way north from the lower town to the upper. Therefore, they called the front edge the Prow, but I am fascinated by their decision to “window” the leading edge of the structure, rather than to make a solid, “blind” finish, as for a ship. This, for me, is a distinguishing and enjoyable feature that emphasizes one of the many novelties of its appearance.

 

My Vision

 

I tried different photographic treatments, using short focal length as well as telephoto lenses to feature either different elements of the structure, or the architectural context of the building in its neighbourhood, but this is one of a series in which I wanted to capture the essence of the building as it might have appeared when first built. This has been helped by the pedestrianisation of the junction of several streets in front of it. I was able to find a framing which eliminated more recent constructions nearby and was grateful that the street furniture remains somewhat timeless and old, so as to not interfere with the turn of the 20th century dating.

 

Secondly, the autumn afternoon light enhanced the unusual, terra-cotta treatment of the upper floors, giving a somewhat glossy and eerie, almost architectural drawing texture to the image.

 

Finally, the relative isolation of the building in this image allows the scale of the humans walking in front of it to emphasise its modest scale, when compared to the behemoths, which were to rapidly follow it in time and proximity.

 

Technical

 

This was a “classic” architectural capture, made possible only by the use of a short focal length, Perspective Control lens, tripod and slow exposure. The sensor in this camera body required that additional precautions be taken to avoid blur caused by vibration, both from the street, as well as the action of the camera’s own mirror. These were to use a carbon fibre tripod, weighted down with the camera equipment bag, to lock up the mirror and to fire the shutter using a cable release.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/18

Shutter Speed: 1/30s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Manual, using a cable release

Mirror:  UP

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 160

Mounted on tripod, with camera bag as a counterweight.

 

I enjoyed my time photographing in the shadow, so to speak, of photographic masters. I hope that you too enjoyed the result and fell inclined to investigate other architectural ‘treatments” which I show on this site.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Flatiron Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/flatiron-icon Fri, 16 Oct 2015 06:30:00 GMT
1776 https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/1776 17761776Copyrighted Digital Photograph

Visiting the new memorial site at “Ground Zero” is clearly the latest “must” for both domestic and foreign visitors to New York, so much so that the area is literally submerged under a wave of humanity, fascinated by what happened here in 9/11 and by the very American story of survival and recovery that is on show today. This partly explains my search for an upward camera angle that would avoid the teeming masses and create an image of dignity and tranquility, which could point to a more peaceful future.

1776 is, of course a reminder that the tower’s height in feet, including the spire not seen at this angle, represents the foundation of the state, the principles it set forth in the Constitution, the Americans' belief in themselves as a nation of law and democracy and their honouring the sacrifices of those lost in today’s battles for hearts and minds worldwide.

Seeking The Mood

My personal mindset while photographing is entirely solitary. I am in an artistic, aesthetic, intellectual and technical bubble, which I find to be a Zen-like, heightened awareness of my surroundings, with a single focus on interpreting in the scene around me according to my emotional, artistic and technical responses to my choices. From the outside, it is exemplified by a slow walk, with stops to reflect on what is out there and with attention to as 360 degree as possible a view of the changing patterns between objects and effects of light as I move. My oft-mentioned hero Henri Cartier Bresson had much more of a dancing and prancing approach to his street movements, but then he married a Javan traditional dancer and was photographing people. I, on the other hand, married a Jazz singer and prefer to photograph things.

As I composed the image between the leaves and saw the tower delicately matching the blue of the sky above, I felt that this aspect gave a gentle feeling of uniting the earth and the sky in a forward looking and peaceful new purpose. 

Serendipity versus Planning

While last week’s image had everything to do with planning, this one arose from serendipity. As the above text explains, I found myself in a crowded, noisy and, seemingly, rather disrespectful mass of tourism, which conflicted with my own mood and intentions. As I approached the area of the new memorials, I passed through the building sites of other, spectacular architectural works-in-progress and emerged under a few trees leading toward One World Trade Center. 

Following my image-seeking habits, I looked up, as well as around and was immediately struck by the framing of the building between the leaves. My main concern was to achieve balance between the glare on the building and the dark of the trees. While taking bracketed shots and choosing alternative points of exposure in the image area gave me a range of results to choose from, the results shown in the camera’s image viewer made the building seem dull. On the other hand the histograms, both for tone and colour seemed balanced. 

As a result, the effect of glare could be amended on-screen in post-processing, because the histograms demonstrated that enough good light and colour data had been captured to make compensating adjustments using Black Point and White Point controls.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                 
Settings

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom
Focal Length: 38 mm
Focus Mode: AF-S
Autofocus Area Mode: Single
Aperture: f/14
Shutter Speed: 1/250s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: 250
Mounted on a Monopod

Notwithstanding my personal feelings about the size and nature of the crowd while I was there, the area is being respectfully renewed and is well worth a visit, whether for the memory of for the newness of it all.

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Manhattan Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/1776 Thu, 08 Oct 2015 23:45:00 GMT
Super Moon Apology https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/supermoon-apology Supermoon ApologySupermoon ApologyCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Super moon Apology

 

I beg your forgiveness for neglecting my blog last week in favour of photographing a “Super moon” rising behind the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as other images of Ground Zero, the Flatiron District and JFK airport.

 

Homage To John Atkinson Grimshaw

 

In my bio, I list night photography as one of my preferred subjects. This is very much due to my early appreciation of the works of the above-named Victorian artist, known as the Painter of Moonlight. His Pre-Raphaelite style very much appeals to me, creating mysterious landscapes, with a silent moonlit beauty all of its own. His period in art, contemporaneous with Charles Dickens and Jack the Ripper, was part of a gloomy, menacing movement which leaves the viewer silently contemplative before a quiet landscape, usually devoid of people.

 

After booking my trip to New York, I learned that there would be a conjunction of a Super moon and a Blood Moon Eclipse on the day prior to departure from the city. I therefore delayed my return by one day, to ensure that I could comfortably capture the event and planned where I would try and set the scene. Having researched the direction and timing of moonrise, I eventually decided on setting up opposite the Brooklyn Bridge at the South Sea Seaport. There are advantages to having actually lived in a city, in terms of scouting venues for images!

 

Paper Is Best?

 

The subtlety of this image is best seen on a print, rather than a screen, especially if you do not come to my website to see it in full-size projection. The delicate web of wires supporting the roadway of the bridge become harder to view against the unlit sections of the sky as is the brooding shape of the southern Tower on the Brooklyn side.

 

The exposure privileges the moon and its corona, as it rises at its perigee, 12% bigger than normal, due to its being 26,000 miles nearer the earth than at its apogee. The event took place in partially cloudy conditions, creating the halo effect and reducing the view of moonscape detail.

 

I declined to attempt imaging the later Blood Moon, since the moon would be high in the sky and in very small scale against the New York Landscape. Equally, I was not equipped with the longer focal length lenses need to do it justice as an astronomical subject. That said, I was already stretching my “reach” by attaching a X1.5 converter to a 200mm zoom lens.

 

That Pesky Moon

 

I have previously mentioned the particular difficulties that photographing a celestial object as bright as day at the same time as a darkened, nighttime landscape. The problem is that the dynamic range of a camera is far less effective than the human eye. Therefore compromises are forced on the photographer. I chose to expose for the moon, using “matrix” metering to make the camera use an “averaged” solution. Therefore, the light meter in this case took a reading from both the moon and the landscape. Nevertheless, the landscape was severely under-exposed.

 

A partial solution to this would have been to use a low ISO, so as to retain the maximum amount of dark detail for later post-processing. However, this would also have resulted in a combination of much longer time of exposure, wide, depth of field reducing aperture and insufficient speed to “freeze” the fast-moving orb. So, as always the image is a compromise.

 

Technical

 

As you can see below, I chose to short-circuit the automatic capabilities of the camera for focus and exposure mode, which obliged me to manually set the aperture, ISO and speed. I carried out an iterative process, reviewing the overall result on the camera’s viewer and monitoring the White and Colour Balance graphs.

 

Image quality was also protected by the use of a tripod weighted down in the centre by the camera bag, a cable release, using “mirror up” mode and waiting 10 seconds between exposures for vibration to dampen down.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G, plus a 1.5 times Teleconverter

Focal Length: 280mm

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Manual, using a cable release

Mirror:  UP

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on tripod and with camera bag hanging from centre hook.

 

 

It was a joy and a privilege to share this occasion with the other professional photographers and videographers on-site, as well as with the general citizenry who came out to view these celestial wonders. I hope that you can also get a sense of the beauty of the occasion.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Manhattan Moon New Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos Super wheel φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/10/supermoon-apology Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:27:02 GMT
Where The Buffalo Roam? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/9/where-the-buffalo-roam Where The Buffalo Roam?Where The Buffalo Roam?COPYRIGHT 2012 Paul Grayson AMDG

This is another in-flight image, taken in December 2012 on the approach to Denver, Colorado. I was experimenting with using a physically short 60mm prime (fixed focal length) lens, so as to have a more flexible range of movements in a cramped seat, than what is possible with a telephoto prime or zoom. At least three negative compromises arise from this: significant loss of framing choice (the ability to concentrate on a selected area of the whole scene); loss of “reach” (the ability to zoom closer to distant subjects) and the benefit of vibration reduction, which many modern zooms provide.

 

That said, when photographing from the air, I generally give up the opportunity of vibration reduction in favour of speeds significantly above 1/500s, which is the effective limit of utility for VR. High speeds are needed to defeat the huge vibration felt in the cabin and the effect of the speed of the aircraft over the scene being captured. Even though I had set for Aperture control in this case, the combination of scenic conditions, ISO and aperture still generated a very satisfactory speed of 1/6400s.

 

Given the above difficulties and the additional deterioration arising from unclean or scratched Perspex windows, the resultant image has a surprisingly good level of sharpness.

 

Pixel Peeping

 

I found the experiment to have been a success, although this is largely due to the landscape nature of the scene, with its focus on wide spaces and sky, rather than on any particular detail. Were I to have needed to focus in on elements taking up a fraction of the area covered by that lens, I would have definitely missed the reach of greater focal length. That said, the D800’s 36 megapixel sensor delivers high resolution, which, when used with a good quality lens and technical rigour, delivers image sharpness at high image magnification.

 

If you view this image on my website at its full size, you can view a trail of tiny dots leaving a cattle station in the bottom left of the image. They reach a clearing and fan out into several lines of “dots”. Magnified to 300%, these turn out to be cattle, perhaps bison, which are densely farmed in Colorado, rather than running wild, as in other states.

 

Peeping into that level of detail is entirely unnecessary for appreciation of the image, but it was a validation for me of the experiment, which I had made with a mid-level prime lens.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 60mm f2.8D Prime

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/6400s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

I encourage you to always fly with a camera in your pocket and to try and “bag” a window seat. The results can often be very satisfying.

 

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 60mm Prime AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/9/where-the-buffalo-roam Fri, 18 Sep 2015 04:00:00 GMT
Ready To Pounce https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/9/ready-to-pounce Ready To PounceReady To PounceCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

My anticipation of the visual pleasure to be found in visiting the Philharmonie de Paris was not disappointed, when I arrived there recently in ideal lighting conditions near to sunset. Earlier this year, I had come away dejected from photographing the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which seems awkwardly sited in terms of allowing it to be seen, at least from the outside, to best effect. I will return there and try and capture it in a better light, so to speak, from the Jardin d’Acclimatation.

 

Despite varied critical opinions, I personally have no such thoughts about the Philharmonie, which is a strange mixture of neo brutal angularity and serpentine menace that suggests it is a sleeping monster about to pounce on an unsuspecting city. The more I gazed at it, the more I became aware of a huge snake coiled around the building in which it seems to have nested. Its coils are represented by curved steel panels and its nest is a cave in the cliff created by angular, grey, flat surfaces.

 

Because of delays arising from its complexity and budget overruns, the building’s sponsors and the architect unfortunately had a disagreement concerning the need to complete its complex decorative external surfaces prior to opening, so he did not attend that event in January this year. I hope that all concerned find a way to complete according to his design so that he and they can enjoy the praise due for creating such an addition to Paris’ incredible list of great architecture. I also look forward to the opportunity of enjoying its primary purpose by hearing a concert in its beautiful interior, which appears from the images which I have seen to be a Lexus version of a Klingon battleship’s bridge.

 

 Orwellian Whine

 

I take this opportunity to express my amazement at a recent “concept camera” design called 'Camera Restricta', which would use GPS and geotags to determine whether the site that you intend to capture has already been photographed “too often”, such as la Philharmonie de Paris. Following this determination, the camera would then prevent a photograph being taken. It boggles my mind to consider that even though any given viewpoint could have been captured well, or badly, by a multitude of previous photographers, that this would justify preventing even more visitors to express their individual artistic vision of the scene. The article added that the technology could be used to enforce copyright law by impeding illegal photography, ignoring that image capture can be followed by seeking usage permission, something I do regularly. I hope the inventor finds a better way to make a fortune.

 

Uriah Heep

 

Finding the most exciting composition, light effects and inspiration for photographing a building with such complex surfaces made me bow and scrape and weave and wring my hands, such that I felt I was Uriah Heep in the wonderful 1935 film of David Copperfield, starring W.C. Fields. He is one of my heroes in life. If you have never read “Fields For President”, get a copy.

 

A building like this clearly requires regular visits, given its seeming capacity to morph into different visual expressions, according to light, angle, distance and composition. In this case I cropped close, seeking to capture something of its animalistic soul, rather than show its function in a wider, situational image.

 

As I worked, I kept making mental notes about other inspiring aspects of the building and where and when to return and photograph them. In fact, I generally take notes when I am out and about about particular angles and views of new and well-trodden paths, to which I should return.

 

Technical

 

The settings here are completely standard apart from the heavy exposure compensation required by the reflective surfaces. Also, a better final quality would clearly have been possible had I been equipped with a tripod.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on a Monopod

 

Other images of this spectacular building will appear later on my website.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/9/ready-to-pounce Sun, 13 Sep 2015 23:22:16 GMT
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/9/sic-transit-gloria-mundi Sic Transit Gloria MundiSic Transit Gloria MundiCopyrighted Digital Photograph

The Arc de Triomphe was constructed to celebrate the military prowess of the Napoleonic army after its victory at Austerlitz in 1806. It is inscribed with many battle victories and the names of many generals who fought and died under the Empire, but on Armistice Day 1920 it assumed a more humble and, for me, a more moving role as the last resting place of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the representative of all who have suffered or fallen to defend France.

 

Given the significance of the site, my photographic effort to capture a transit of the moon beneath its arch led me to take some images, which seemed to point more at the “memento mori” aspect of the Arc than its celebration of “La Gloire de la France”. This is one of those. Below the frieze of imperial troops battling their way to victory, two angelic carvings frame the arch of heaven, while a glistening moon wrapped in beetling clouds hints at death amid the smoke of ancient battles.

 

Thus Transits The Moon

 

I use several extremely useful iPhone apps to plan ahead for particular light and astronomical conditions. Using an inbuilt, GPS-based, or a stand alone compass, these simplify calculations about the sun and the moon, such as their rising and setting times, altitude in the sky and their geographic bearing (azimuth). I use these to plan ahead, for example, where the moon will rise on the horizon and how I might line it up in relation to some ground base scene that I wish to capture in a moonlit and/or moon viewed scene

 

The iPhone has its own inbuilt compass, which is reasonably accurate which I use with “Darkness”, while “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” (TPE) is an integrated app, which orients itself. These are both inexpensive and can be bought from the Apple App Store, or are available on the other platforms.

 

The one thing these apps cannot do is change the danger factor associated with the ideal spot. I thus found myself sheltering behind concrete bollards in the middle of the Avenue de la Grande Armée, right on the edge of the racing mass of metal that is the Place de l’Etoile, all the while jostling for a clear line of sight with tourists taking selfies.

 

Technical

 

I have discussed some specifics about imaging the moon before. Several typical settings are mentioned below, such as heavy negative exposure compensation, spot metering and the use of a tripod. On this occasion, I did take the risk of a slow, one-second exposure, a compromise resulting from my choice of a high quality ISO of 160. That was with a view to handling the quite intense post-processing that often accompanies my night photography.

 

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 130mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -2.7 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 160

Mounted on Tripod

 

If you feel like transitioning to the rest of my website to see other night and moon images, please let me know what you think.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Moon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/9/sic-transit-gloria-mundi Thu, 03 Sep 2015 23:30:00 GMT
Hommage To Henri and Michael https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/hommage-to-henri-and-michael Hommage to Henri and MichaelHommage to Henri and MichaelCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

That is to say, Cartier-Bresson and Kenna, of course.

 

Knowingly repeating a “Study” previously executed to perfection by two of my favourite exemplars is a perilous exercise. I have many reasons for daring to do so. The first and most powerful is that this iconic and moving scene compels my own artistic passion to engage with it creatively for myself, to personalise it. The second, is the amazing variety of combinations of light, angle, photographic treatment and subtle evidence of the passing of time, which render each capture unique. A third is the breadth and power of the story that this view tells.

 

Perilous Passion

 

Michael Kenna stunningly followed Henri Cartier-Bresson in imaging the Isle de la Cité from the Pont des Arts on a misty winter’s dawn. My point of view is farther downstream, which includes the bridge, and was taken in dull summer conditions only last week. Being a student of such masters generally creates a fascinating, subconscious response to passing sights, which I compare, without thinking, to the general lessons they teach about aesthetics, composition, method and even rule-breaking. How much greater the reaction when I am privileged to pass by a concrete example of their best work.

 

In all humility, this is not just I being a pale copyist. I am always touched and encouraged when I pick up a book or visit an exhibition where I see that where my predecessors have passed time in the same sites as me, I have often independently been grabbed by similar subtle beauty and not only applied the same composition principles, but also created versions to my own taste.   

 

Time Passes

 

“Time passes…” as Dylan Thomas’ narrator in “Under Milk Wood” gently murmurs. In my own case it seems that time accelerates as the years roll by. However, for cities, even ancient ones, the rate of change in the short term seems imperceptible. In the long term, the risks are of sudden man-made and natural catastrophes. Even these are mitigated for Paris, which has been protected by millennia of good civic management and even by inhibitions in the destructive instincts of invaders and occupiers, too ashamed to be forever condemned as the destroyer of the City of Light. Beyond that, Paris seems to have a mystical ability to swallow whatever structural changes are thrown at it and integrate them into what went before.

 

In this image, the most visible evidence of time sliding by is the replacement of the padlock-loaded railings of the Pont des Arts by solid sidings decorated in a semi-graffiti design which is not personally to my taste. Thankfully the longer timeline is movingly present in the skyline. I look forward to a more permanent, padlock-free and elegant frame to the deck of the bridge.

 

The Story

 

I love history as much as photography and this fascinating place just reeks of it. Paris started on this island, with the Parisii tribe, followed by the Romans, but what we see dates from 1000 years later. Reading the image from left to right starts with the 13th century Conciergerie, steeped in the French Revolution’s tears from “aristos” crammed into the main hall awaiting their fate and the deeper dungeon, where Marie Antoinette showed more courage and dignity than she is mostly credited for.

 

Many of the other island buildings serve the purposes of the state in applying the law, both civil and criminal. Now integrated into the central criminal court, the highest steeple is the Sainte Chapelle, contemporaneous with the Conciergerie. Physically much abused by history, it keeps bouncing back, as evidence by the restoration of Archangel Michael to the top of the nave in 2013.

 

Moving further right, the clock tower is part of the mythical (for the French) Quai des Orfevres, the origin of all great real-life and fictional French police investigations and the office of those great modern rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Maigret and, less admirably, Inspector Clouseau.

 

Sweeping off the island and past the majestic tree to the image end point, the left wing of the 17th century  Academie Française looms into view. Founded by Richelieu and restored from the ravages of the Revolution by Napoleon, here reside the 40 “immortals” that preside over the safety of the French language for eternity. Interestingly, their fascinating title does not prevent regular gaps appearing in the seats, which now – shock horror! – Include women. Seat number 5 is currently vacant. You can apply, on condition that you are willing to eulogize the previous holder of the seat. I don’t know who that was. Maybe you might be lucky and find that they were truly admirable?

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/80s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on a Monopod

 

Please take a tour around my other images of Paris on the rest of the website.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/hommage-to-henri-and-michael Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:29:04 GMT
Sharp And Wide Or Soft and Close? https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/sharp-and-wide-or-soft-and-close  

Salamander Snow 1Salamander Snow 1Copyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Salamander Snow 2Salamander Snow 2Copyrighted Digital Photograph

Sharp And Wide Or Soft And Close?

 

A last blast of winter in March 2013 provided many snow-clad opportunities to capture familiar scenes in an unfamiliar setting. The Pont Alexandre III was densely and most beautifully decorated by its architects and a bevy of other artists and includes several salamanders peeking round the base of some of its columns. Part of the decoration evokes medieval France and I presume that these are a reference to Francois I, whose emblem they were.

 

Capturing snow is always a challenge, particularly under  “snowy”, grey skies, but my personal challenge was to find the best choice of composition. I discuss two of these below and include the differentiation between the camera settings in each case.

 

Sharp And Wide

 

This Salamander seems to be crawling out from a snow cave on the edge of turbulent water represented by the curls on the base of the column. He wears his cold mantle lightly, being a “fire animal” in terms of its mythology. His powerful legs seem poised to leap on the prey on which his intent stare is concentrated.

 

These reflections flow from an image which is in-focus from front to back of the column on which the salamander is perched, while the distant right bank of the Seine is blurred with a soft “bokeh” effect. (I love that word!)

 

The animal’s face seems to be in soft focus, but this is an effect of the softness of the final treatment of the cast. The scene moves visually back along the creature until its rear leg creates a sharp, right-hand profile with the column.  Overall the view is dynamic, full of detail and comprehensive.  

 

Soft and Close

 

This is an “intimate” option. The decreasing sharpness from front to back places a strong emphasis on the face of the subject, which makes me, at least, change my focus to what is on the creature’s mind, rather that what it looks like it is going to do. I am riveted on its head and not drawn out of that area due to the blurring of the back of the animal. Given this emphasis I am drawn further in to focus on the facial expression and its eye. This is a small piece of the decoration on this marvellous bridge, but it is no less a masterpiece, evoking the power, mystery and style that Francois I sought to convey.

 

I personally prefer this version, given that the size of the subject is exaggerated, when the sight of the whole column is taken away and a key visual reference is lost. Similarly, the severe loss of definition gives a sense of distance that adds to the illusion.

 

Small changes can make for great effects

 

Thus, a small twist of the zoom ring from 116mm to 130mm, a short step forward, closer to the subject, and a switch of aperture from F/8 to F/2.8 created a whole new composition and emotional response to the scene. Here are the settings for each image:

 

 

Common Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: AF-C

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Stabilised on Monopod

 

Settings Specific to “Wide” Image

 

Focal Length: 116mm

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

 

 

Settings Specific to “Close” Image

 

Focal Length: 130mm

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/8000s

 

I both enjoyed the excitement of thinking about the technical choices needed to to capture the scene at the time, as well as the after effect of enjoying the different emotions evoked by both versions. What’s your view?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/sharp-and-wide-or-soft-and-close Sat, 22 Aug 2015 12:26:07 GMT
Frustrating Flower Carpet https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/frustrating-flower-carpet Brussels Flower CarpetBrussels Flower CarpetCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Frustrating Flowers

 

Every two years since 1986, the city of Brussels has carpeted the Grand Place with flowers at this time in August, with each one representing a different artistic theme. Around 1,800 M2 of begonias are laid in only 4 hours by 100 volunteers and the event is rounded off by a son et lumiere themed for each event. This photograph was taken this day in 2012.

 

The event is immensely popular, with huge crowds milling around the narrow space left between the carpet and the ancient buildings of the square. I made my life as difficult as possible, by hurrying to take a photograph while friends waited to set off on a long journey and added to the truly uncomfortable conditions arising from the crowds by insisting on using a tripod in the best place I could find, rather than planning to come back at a propitious moment, such as sunrise. It doesn’t help that the short life of these flowers make the event last only 4 days.

 

Mea Culpa

 

Having shared my success in a competition with you last week, to be honest, I was reluctant to show you this one, but my writing principle is to include a “warts and all” explanation of how I have to continually learn from my mistakes. The aesthetic and technical errors deriving from this hurried, disorganized approach are visible in the original image at the foot of this blog. My hurried choice of position resulted in the inclusion of a building under repair and the construction crane in the distance. The overall exposure is based on a “spot” metering choice focused on the flowers, which resulted in inadequate lighting of the buildings. The wide-angle lens distorted the verticals on the sides of the image and, finally, the environmental vibration of so many people walking seems to have blurred almost the whole plane of the image. So, how did I try to recover from the train wreck?

 

In Praise Of Algorithms

 

My normal “slow and careful” methodology is to achieve the best possible combination of set up and settings, such that post-processing is a relative formality, being only a process of touching-up imperfections discovered when viewed at full screen. However in situations like this, the digital dark room is more like a hospital emergency room, with drastic methods being called for. I then have to turn to bigger guns in the suite of tools invented by optical scientists and computer geniuses and turned into functional software for the digital photog.

 

The first choice was to crop as much of the “ugly” scene out as possible. This necessitated a complete reversion from the landscape orientation of the original image to a portrait version. While it reduced the unwanted scaffolding, it also lost the impact of the pattern in the wide version. I am still not sure if that was the right decision.

 

Once the aesthetic choice was made, I proceeded to attack the technical problems. Exposure balance was rectified using what Nikon calls a D-Lighting tool. This is a zone-based tool, which operates to lighten dark spaces in the image and only those dark spaces. The slight vertical distortion was remedied by the use of a Distortion Control, which pulls the whole image in or out on a virtual ball, stretching or shrinking the image, so to speak. The overall lack of focus definition was so bad that it could not be adequately fixed, but the repaired rendition is adequate for Internet use. I would never print this image.

 

Now It's Your Turn

What would you have done in my place? Do you prefer the orientation of the original and the choice of flower patters that were included? Would you have processed the amended version as aggressively as I did? Would you have just thrown it away? Let me know.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24 mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 160

Mounted on tripod

 

My apologies for advertising the event only on its last day. The good news is that you now have 2 years to plan to see the next one.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

 

Brussels Flower Carpet OriginalBrussels Flower Carpet OriginalCopyrighted Digital Photograph

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Brussels Fine Art Grand Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos Place φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/frustrating-flower-carpet Sat, 15 Aug 2015 20:33:31 GMT
Honourable Mentions PX3 2015 https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/honourable-mentions Cyclades DawnCyclades DawnCOPYRIGHT 2010 Paul Grayson AMDG

La Passrelle Franz KupkaLa Passrelle Franz KupkaCOPYRIGHT 2008 Paul Grayson AMDG

Santa Maria della SaluteSanta Maria della SaluteCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

With your indulgence, I am sharing a Press Release from PX3 concerning my "Honourable Mentions" for each of my entries in the 2015 competition. Not a bad result given the competition with other professionals and amateurs who entered thousands of images from 85 countries.  

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

HONORABLE MENTIONS WINNER OF PX3, Prix de la Photographie Paris

PAUL GRAYSON OF FRANCE WAS AWARDED IN THE PX3 2015 COMPETITION.

PARIS, FRANCE 
PRIX DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE PARIS (PX3) ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF PX3 2015 COMPETITION.

Paul Grayson of France was Awarded in category of Fine Art/ Architecture the entry entitled, " Passerelle Kupka" and in the Fine Art/Landscape category the entries " Cyclades Dawn" and " Santa Maria della Salute" He was therefore recognized for all three of the photographs which he entered. The jury selected winners from thousands of photography entries from over 85 countries.

View at:

http://www.px3.fr/winners/zoom2.php?eid=1-54442-15&uid=3233918&cat=

http://www.px3.fr/winners/zoom2.php?eid=1-54444-15&uid=3233918&cat

http://www.px3.fr/winners/zoom2.php?eid=1-54446-15&uid=3233918&cat

Px3 is juried by top international decision-makers in the photography industry: Carol Johnson, Curator of Photography of Library of Congress, Washington D.C.; Gilles Raynaldy, Director of Purpose, Paris; Viviene Esders, Expert près la Cour d'Appel de Paris; Mark Heflin, Director of American Illustration + American Photography, New York; Sara Rumens, Lifestyle Photo Editor of Grazia Magazine, London; Françoise Paviot, Director of Galerie Françoise Paviot, Paris; Chrisitine Ollier, Art Director of Filles du Calvaire, Paris; Natalie Johnson, Features Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine, London; Natalie Belayche, Director of Visual Delight, Paris; Kenan Aktulun, VP/Creative Director of Digitas, New York; Chiara Mariani, Photo Editor of Corriere della Sera Magazine, Italy; Arnaud Adida, Director of Acte 2 Gallery/Agency, Paris; Jeannette Mariani, Director of 13 Sévigné Gallery, Paris; Bernard Utudjian, Director of Galerie Polaris, Paris; Agnès Voltz, Director of Chambre Avec Vues, Paris; and Alice Gabriner, World Picture Editor of Time Magazine, New York.

ABOUT Px3:

The "Prix de la Photographie Paris" (Px3) strives to promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. Winning photographs from this competition are exhibited in a high-profile gallery in Paris and published in the high-quality, full-color Px3 Annual Book. Visit http://px3.fr   For Press Inquiries, Contact: Press@px3.fr

About the Winner:

Paul has been passionate about art life-long, soaking up great works in the National Gallery of Scotland as a teenager and world-wide afterwards, initially studying Fine Art and acquiring a Contaflex, which cemented his relationship with “le huitieme art” and widened his artistic horizons to photography.

The arrival of the digital age significantly steepened his learning curve and intensified his practice of artistic photography, such that he has become more passionate about the freedom and inspiration enabled by the dramatic increase in control and responsiveness available in photography today. He is most excited by the graphic potential of architectural subjects, landscape, the night, water and also event photography, particularly Jazz performances.

He adopted Photeinos.com as my commercial branding, in tribute to his love of Greece and the inspiration-giving power of light inherent in the word. He has exhibited in Paris and the USA, is an Associate Member of the American Society of Media Photographers and launched his Fine Art and Photography web sales site on www.photeinos.com

Contact Paul Grayson: light@photeinos.com

http://www.photeinos.com

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Honourable Mention Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 PX3 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/8/honourable-mentions Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:41:02 GMT
Look Up! https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/7/look-up Look UpLook UpCopyrighted Digital Photograph

I have mentioned previously that my photographic walking style involves regular turning around to view what had previously been ahead of me from the opposite angle. By doing this, many new compositions and juxtapositions appear in a completely refreshed view.  When in a building, there is a third dimension that I add to my “walk”. I look up. As I entered the luxury shopping arcade at Dallas Airport last Monday, on my return to France, I looked up at a highly modernistic and complex chandelier, which immediately triggered my love for photographing everyday objects or scenes abstractly.

 

Look Around!

For me, the most enjoyable point of an abstract image is the freedom it gives for the imagination to go where it will. Approaching the chandelier from a distance, it was pleasing at a functional and a decorative level and was, naturally, very much in accord with the overall mood of the mall set by the designers. Their aim to give a feeling of style and luxury was effectively achieved, using rich materials and an overall glittering, bright environment.

 

I took a moment to sit on one of the scarlet canapés scattered in front of the Dior store and gazed up into the chandelier, fascinated by the impression of globules of mercury floating above my head. Like so many children, I had been fascinated by this element during my ultra brief exposure to science lessons at school. Its more magical name of quicksilver better evokes its shape-shifting, glittering, speedy metamorphoses.

 

Going further into reveries, the floating shapes strongly evoked in me visions of futuristic vehicles floating through the metropolis, or fleets of spaceships carrying Earth’s population to safety from a ravaged planetary home. More pleasantly, I just got lost in the softness, brightness and depth of the glittering shapes above my head. 

 

Lie Down!

Although my wife complains about me negligently maltreating my clothes, I can occasionally defend myself through the excuse of my passionate pursuit of art. For example I have lain flat on my stomach in the courtyard of the Louvre on a freezing cold night, in the gravel on the edge of the fountain of Apollo at Versailles and, on other occasions, flat on my back to capture architectural objects from a flat, rather than a slanting angle. This was one such situation. I confess that I did wonder if my lying on the floor might give some angst to the massed ranks of Homeland Security only a few dozen yards away.

Even hunkering down changes the view of anything significantly. My message is, don’t stand and look forward all the time. Be like Henri Cartier Bresson and dance!

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 42 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/40s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Hand held

 

I hope that you use the freedom of movement available to you to “see” the world in a different way. Take the risk of embarrassing yourself, being criticized by your companions, or even being interrogated by the police. It’s worth it!

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/7/look-up Fri, 17 Jul 2015 20:41:42 GMT
Live The Dream https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/7/live-the-dream Live the DreamLive the DreamCOPYRIGHT 2010 Paul Grayson AMDG

A couple sheltering at a bus stop on a freezing Winter night at Place de l’Opera captured my imagination as I wandered down Avenue de l’Opera. In fact I only saw this because I was practicing my habit of turning round every so often to see the view I had just passed in reverse. I was touched by the juxtaposition of their huddled figures with the cool, gorgeous couple embracing in a commercially idealized world.

 

What’s The Story?

 

So many scenarios would seem to fit the image. They stand separately, stiff and cold, gazing longingly at their dream of romance and relationship. They seem modestly dressed, perhaps aspiring to the world of the chic and the rich? Or maybe they are more revolutionary spirits, declining to be impressed by temptations offered to dull the masses into a materialistic torpor? This is Paris, after all!

 

Staring intently at the image on-screen in order to draw the best from the raw files, another, very prosaic story comes to mind. Is he consulting his cellphone? Its light seems to shine in his hand and he might just be showing it to her. Could it just be the excellent Paris transport app telling them when the next one is due to arrive at this bus stop? I prefer to imagine the romantic versions.

 

Street Photography

 

My friend Eric Bontemps is a master of candid street photography and is particularly skilled at getting behind the eyes of his subjects and right to the heart. See: www.ericbontemps.fr

 

I, on the other hand, am an opportunistic capturer of moments, more interested in graphic images and silhouettes than identifiable human portraits. This started off as a reaction to draconian laws in many countries protecting privacy and commercialization of identified individuals. Since I cannot obtain releases from these subjects, I choose to render them non-identifiable.

 

To that end I shoot most often at night, or in “contre jour” silhouette. When seeking to hide people in daytime landscape or architectural photography, longer exposures come in handy to render passers by as ghosts, blurs or even completely invisible.

 

Also, I am unfortunately more shy than Eric Bontemps and do not approach subjects from up close, as demonstrated by the 190mm utilization of the zoom.

 

Technical

 

My camera was set up for general night-time use with a high ISO, “fast” zoom (i.e. with the capacity to open the aperture out to f2.8) and aperture priority to impose the widest setting. I therefore had to stay aware of the resultant very slow speed generated by the other settings. Given that the principal light-metered target in the subject was the advertising poster and that the consequent treatment of the figures as dark silhouettes was intentional, a speed of 1/25th s was generated.

 

Although slow for a hand-held capture, I was assisted by the fact that the subject was static and that the zoom had vibration reduction activated. I don’t recall if I also used street furniture to stabilize myself, but if there were a lamppost handy, I would certainly have used it.

 

Finally, I dialed down exposure compensation a little to handle the bright advertising screen. I also had to reduce brightness on that section of the image in post-processing in order to achieve some definition of the woman’s face.

 

Truthfully, I don’t know why I set Auto Focus-Area Mode at Dynamic 51 points (3D tracking). I think that I probably made a wrong adjustment due to the darkness.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 190mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/25s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Dynamic 51 points (3D tracking)

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 2000

Hand held

 

This is a serendipitous image for me. It represents “my” Paris in a genuine way. It has truly been for me “The City of Love”. I hope that it is, or will be so for you.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/7/live-the-dream Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:11:06 GMT
Balance and Purpose https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/7/balance-and-purpose Balance and PurposeBalance and PurposeCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Balance and Purpose

 

A suburban garden near Paris on a Summer’s day delights the eye with its peacefulness, scents, gentle breeze, gorgeous flowers and busy visiting bees. Patiently trying to capture their activities is challenging, given their flying speed and rapid changes of direction, but this image fell into my lap as a beautiful specimen rested acrobatically on the stamens of a flower and drank up the nectar from the blossom.

 

In researching the subject, I learn that the feeding habits of bees are immensely more complicated than I had ever imagined, fulfilling their needs for different forms of nourishment at different stages of the lives of each type of hive member, but I will spare you the details of their “honey stomach” etc, in pursuit of this photographic explanation.

 

Balance and Purpose

 

It was only after I could view this image at full size that I could enjoy the wonder of the symbiosis between the insect and the plant. The stamens offer a complex landing ground on which the bee delicately positioned itself with apparent ease and without the need to hover in flight.

 

Through the offer of the nectar, it is evident how the plant obtains its pollination benefit from the “dust” flecks  caught up in the hairs of the bee. Other photographs I have taken show the bee collecting pollen and storing it on its back legs. I had not realized until my reading that the pollen is used in the hive as “bee bread” and is not simply a plant-beneficial side effect of nectar collection. Nature is incessantly surprising, wonder-making and incredibly beautiful. That is one excitement that pushes me to photograph.

 

Good light

 

It is always wonderfully freeing to have the benefit of the kind of “good” light required for the specific photographic moment. So often, its less than ideal quality involves frantic thinking and adjusting to compensate for light which is either not quite suitable to produce the desired result or which challenges a mechanical instrument to replicate its delicacy. In this case the clear, bright afternoon light encouraged me to attempt hand-held capture of one of natures speedsters.

 

The first benefit was that it enabled the setting of a small aperture to create enough depth, while maintaining the fast speed required by the subject. Had the insect been moving, I would have switched to shutter priority and chosen a much faster speed, but the fact that it was at rest was perfect.

 

Finally, the camera’s very high sensor specification, which produces 35-50+ megabytes of raw data per image allowed a very tight crop of the original image. This was attractive in terms of the overall plant life, but did not provide an emphasis on the acrobatics and beauty of the bee. I chose a severe, free-form crop which is nearly square, in order to focus on the single blossom visited by the bee.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/1000s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0,7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

We humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, but all of life is a wonderment. How beautiful, harmonious and perfect it seems. May we assume the obligation to steward it, in recognition of the gift that it is.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 24-70mm AMDG Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos bee f2.8 stamen zoom φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/7/balance-and-purpose Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:45:34 GMT
Le Frigo https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/le-frigo Le FrigoLe FrigoCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Built in 1921, Le Frigo was the Parisian Cold Store facility until the central market at Les Halles moved out to Rungis. It fell into disuse in 1971, until it was occupied by squatter artists in the 1980’s. This being Paris, their situation was gradually regularized under its different owners, until the City finally bought it in 2003 and gave it some recognition as a centre of contemporary art. That said, it is still not on a stable financial footing and – while not yet dangerous – is clearly in need of future investment to protect a slowly crumbling edifice. 

 

Graffiti

 

I am personally not a fan of random graffiti, but appreciate its artistic potential when the work is concentrated in areas that would otherwise be abandoned or simply ugly. The whole area of the Frigo, outside and inside, is covered in various skill levels of graffiti and is constantly being renewed, as was the case during my visit yesterday.

 

Given its marginal social and financial status, his building falls under both of my “allowed” categories of abandoned and ugly. It is a multi-level, concrete warehouse, with a central lift shaft surrounded by a spiral staircase. Natural light in the stairwell is heavily reduced by graffiti on the windows, giving them a somewhat primitive effect of stained glass. Even when operating for its original purpose the stairwell would have been gloomy, I think.

 

Where is the light?

 

I initially experimented with flash, boosted quite strongly, as I was shooting in deep gloom arising from the cloudy conditions of the day outside. The results recorded the structure, but in a harsh, “flat” light. Then I noticed from the window on the lower left that the clouds had cleared and some natural sunshine was filtering through. I decided to risk switching to natural light capture and, for good or ill, made the following choices. 

 

How to light the subject?

 

I had to use a very high ISO because of the low light and relatively narrow aperture because of the great depth of the area to be captured. These generated a slow shutter speed, which was risky, given that I had to work hand-held. I also took a risk that the poorer quality image arising from ISO 2,500 would matter less for a subject which was basically in crumbling disrepair and covered in tags. I would not have chosen this solution for a shiny, new and glossy structure in modern materials, for example.

 

I also banked on enabling improved clarity and acuity using software during post-processing of the Raw files. Be warned that I exploited this capability to render this image to be significantly more visible than was true on site. I regularly comment that the human eye has more dynamic range of light to dark than does the camera, but in this case the camera’s capacity to “see” better in the dark than the human eye could be exploited.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 24 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/11

Shutter Speed: 1/10s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 2500

Hand held

 

I hope you enjoy this image, even if, like me, your artistic preferences are more classical. What is your view of “urban” art? Do you find this place interesting, enjoyable or repulsive? Is there anything that is worth photographing like this near you?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/le-frigo Sat, 27 Jun 2015 15:04:23 GMT
High Flight https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/high-flight High FlightHigh FlightCopyrighted Digital Photograph

So there I was at the Paris Air show, strapped into Alpha Jet No 1 belonging to the leader of the first section of the Patrouille de France, as the second section formed up alongside. I snapped away deliriously through the perfectly cleaned Perspex of the canopy as I fulfilled a lifelong dream of experiencing free flight in the hands of an aeriel acrobat.

 

I woke from that reverie on the ground, from where I really captured this image, alongside the hundreds of other avid airshow photographers. Nevertheless, I was quite happy to have captured a number of photographs which seemed to have been taken from the air in accompanying aircraft, due to my position at the edge of the runway, the evolutions of the aircraft and the enhancement of my telephoto lens with a teleconverter.

 

Aeriel Photography

 

I chose to show one of the jet-engined images, since I was unhappy with most of the propeller-driven aircraft which I photographed in the air.  Why? Because if you shoot at high speed, you “freeze” the propellors, which appear to be not moving at all and so, to the human mind’s eye, the plane looks to be about to stall. In order to render the propeller blur in the way that our eyes are used to seeing them in operation, you have to photograph at less than 1/125s and be highly trained in panning the camera, so as to follow the movement of the aircraft perfectly, thereby allowing for in-focus capture. I am, unhappily, not so trained and, having rare access to high speed objects, have no need to practice that art.

 

This image was therefore only possible, because I was well-positioned at the point of take off on the runway and able to shoot just as the aircraft rose above the buildings on the horizon at the far side of the airfield. For that same reason, they were in relatively close proximity, about only 500 metres away. I set the camera to “Shutter priority”, such that the image would be captured at 1/2500s and at ISO 800, despite it being a sunny Summer’s day, so that the aperture would stay reasonably small and add to the image sharpness factor.

 

Man and Machine   

 

The airshow was a dazzling tribute to the skill and courage of the extraordinary men and women, mainly French, who flew that day. There were several female World Aerobatics champions, and two other stunt pilots, one man and one woman who had overcome loss of the use of their legs in accidents to learn to fly at a high level of accomplishment. Another stunt pilot lady happens to be the current Director of the Le Bourget History of Aviation Museum, where the Paris Airshow is based.

 

The show commentator reminded us of the long history of French aviation and specifically the resonance with this place, which is where Lindbergh landed after his solo crossing of the Atlantic. He was met by a crowd of 300,000 on the field and was guided in to the airfield by the headlights of another 300,000 drivers stuck in traffic jams between Paris and Le Bourget.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Teleconverter TC-14E II 1.4x

Focal Length: 280mm

VR: Off

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/2500s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

And here is the poem which I tried to honour with my caption for this blog…

 

High Flight        18 August 1941

 

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air...

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark or even eagle flew --

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

 

John Gillespie Magee, Jr    9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gillespie_Magee,_Jr.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/high-flight Sun, 21 Jun 2015 13:26:39 GMT
Stillness https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/stillness StillnessStillness

Dawn on a lake in Bavaria. Hardly a breath of wind. The peace and serenity of reeds, leaves and water.

 

Unconscious references

 

When reviewing images at their full size, I am often struck by the way that they evoke art that I have drunk in over the years. For instance, I feel that my enjoyment of depictions of Chinese nature, particularly in the medium of ink drawings, led me to make this choice of focusing on the silhouette and tracery of these shoreline plants. I am not very well versed in gardening, but I imagined that the lower plants with spear-shaped leaves might actually be young bamboo?

 

The tree, which I included in order to provide a composition from upper left to bottom right, is delicately leaved, so much so that it appeared to me to be Japanese. I certainly don’t know, but the oriental feel was very strong in me at that moment.

 

Choices

 

Despite the modest light level, I could only risk making a low ISO, higher quality capture, at the same time as keeping a reasonable depth-of–field, because of the pre-dawn dawn stillness in the air. While the water was moving faster and therefore became pleasingly blurred, the vegetation remained still enough for the slow speed. That said, some blurring is visible, particularly in the shoots growing in the lake.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/2.5s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 160

Mounted on a Tripod

 

As the temperature rises here in Paris and Summer eases into action, this image reminds me of the joy of rising early and enjoying the cool of the day, particularly if on a lake or at the seashore. I hope that your plans may offer that opportunity soon.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/stillness Fri, 12 Jun 2015 11:01:38 GMT
...and The Smell https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/-and-the-smell ...and The Smell...and The SmellCopyrighted Digital Photograph

This scene stopped me in my tracks yesterday, as I walked past an anonymous apartment block in Paris’ 17th arrondissement. I smelled it before I saw it, as the pungent mix of burnt plastic, cloth, paper, wood and who-knows-what-else filled the air. I am not a reportage photographer and people rarely figure directly in my artistic work, but this powerful story of a family’s near tragedy cut to my heart.

 

Spoiler Alert

 

The debris tells a frightening visual story of a family’s shock, fear, horror and survival. I say survival, because all my efforts to trace a report of a recent fire in that area failed, although there are numerous reports of other incidents, which gave rise to injuries and/or fatalities. So, in truth, perhaps the apartment was empty at the time of the incident. I truly hope so, even though the result is heartbreaking enough. France has just imposed a law obliging homeowners to install fire detector alarms, so I pray that this was so in this case and thank God that none were harmed.

 

Sensory Power

 

I used to joke that cinema’s next development would be “Smellovision”, a horrific thought given the nature of many films, I would say. If you have a capacity to imagine smells, take a moment to view the different elements of the photograph and delve into your olfactory memory, although be warned, the stench of this debris was pungent.

 

You Are What You Own

 

Please excuse this pun on “you are what you eat”. Neither do I subscribe to it as a fundamental law of nature, more a potential character aberration arising from identifying oneself according to the degree of one’s possessions. That said, to see the contents of someone else’s home dumped unceremoniously into the street gives rise to feelings of unjustified voyeurism. This did not prevent my curiosity drawing me to view what the workers were dumping onto the pavement. There was a difficulty to identify some things immediately, given the jumble of sodden, burnt items, but it was sad to see the mix of general household contents, along with treasured items such as the green artist’s folders crushed under a machine. What rooted me to the spot however, were the rocking horse and the child’s fold-up stroller.

 

Oh The Children!

 

I truly had a heart-stopping moment when I saw the rocking chair and the stroller. I could not help projecting that the child’s room had not just been swamped in smoke but that the melted face of the rocking horse witnessed to the searing heat that had swept through. The fact that these were signs of a very young child, unable to protect itself in a crisis moved me to pray that nothing serious had occurred.

 

My search for information was therefore not just verification for a photographic blog, but a need to reassure myself that tragedy had been avoided. As is so often evident in disasters elsewhere, particularly in America, I must say, I deeply hope that this family came away from the event relieved at their survival, united in mutual support and determined to reconstruct their lives in a new beginning.

 

To conclude I give a sincere “shout out” to the excellent Paris Fire Department, the so-called “soldats du feu”, given that they are a unit of the Army, and to my colonel friend who is responsible for this sector.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 45 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/180s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

I hope that this rather personal and non-beautiful blog does not soil your day, but rather points to the gift of life that is so easy to take for granted.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/6/-and-the-smell Fri, 05 Jun 2015 11:11:20 GMT
Still Life https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/still-life Still LifeStill Life

“Still life” indeed. In fact, they are not just still, they are dead. Notwithstanding their lifeless state, it is all those eyes, which grabs you and make you wonder about what these poor fish feel about their situation. They seem so surprised at what has happened to them. Many seem to be staring out, imploring us to rescue them.

 

Capturing The Fleeting Beauty Of The Mundane

 

Still life is a wonderful genre, where incredibly talented artists have focused on a homely arrangement of items, whose beauty is brought into focus by the creativity, skill and artistic sensitivity of the artist. This particular situation was offered to me, pre-packaged, so to speak, on the quayside at Naphlion in the Peloponnese. It was a perfect Greek Summer’s day, with a clear, strong, midday light reflected from the Mediterranean and shining onto a restaurant’s offering from that morning’s catch.

 

The restaurant staff that created it clearly possesses an innate sense of artistic composition, colour and organisation that not only excites the appetite of potential clients, but also greatly pleases the senses of all who pass by.

 

Them There Eyes

 

For me the aesthetic is intensified by the story of the eyes. Who can remain unaffected by the solemn gaze from every corner of the dish? The clarity of their colour speaks to the freshness of the catch as they peek at us from their jumbled disarray. I am not a vegan, but I still cannot eat anything that is “looking at me”. I have never eaten lobster, because I don’t want to encourage unnecessary cruelty. Their plight touches me.

 

Searching the image reveals different attitudes among the larger specimens, from glum perplexity, to gasping desperation to survive, to keeping a low profile in the hope that the problem will pass them by. The small ones seem to have all given up hope.

 

The Gift

 

That said, this catch does touch my spirit. It is a sight whose beauty attracts due to its powerful statement of the bountiful, wondrous generosity of nature, which nourishes us every day.

 

 

Technical

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm zoom f/3.5-4.5G

Focal Length: 46 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/16

Shutter Speed: 1/320s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: O

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Hand held

 

If you enjoyed this image, please take a stroll through the rest of this website, where there is a variety of witnesses to the wonder of things surrounding us.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Greece Naphlion Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos fish φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/still-life Fri, 29 May 2015 14:42:25 GMT
Literas Loquendi https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/literas-loquendi Literas LoquendiLiteras LoquendiCopyrighted Digital Photograph

I owe this classics-based title to the occasion when I took this photograph, which was the World Premiere of composer Johan Hugossons’ eponymous choral work at the Swedish Church in London. That said, my purpose is to write on taking an image in difficult light without a tripod, also while prevented from using flash because a performance was underway.

 

You can view the fourth movement of this amazing work, “Luctor et Emergo” on YouTube at : https://youtu.be/_0evtcRDM8M

 

The featured concert pianist is the composer Johan Hugosson.

 

Svenska Kyrkan

 

This Church was built in 1911 and is a Grade II listed building in its own right. However, the original Swedish Church in London opened in Wapping in 1798 to serve seafarers in the London docks. When this was closed and the church relocated to central London, the altar, pulpit, fonts and chandeliers from that original church were removed and reinstalled in the new Svenska Kyrkan.

 

Photographing the event, I was positioned in the balcony, nearly horizontally to the chandelier and became fascinated with its unique look, not knowing at that moment that it was a 217 years old component in a 20th century building. Although ignorant of these facts, I nevertheless “felt” its uniqueness and sought to photograph it in a way that would isolate it from its surroundings.

 

Sequential choices

 

My default setup is Aperture Control, where I choose the aperture and I generally leave the camera to choose the speed, subject to whatever other settings adjustments I initiate. The first choice was to use the widest aperture for this lens, f/2.8, a decision driven by the desire to soften the background behind the chandelier.

 

Despite the light benefit from using a wide aperture, I still had to dial in a high ISO to handle the absence of flash in such a dimly lit space. I was also concerned to produce a high speed of capture to compensate for any movement that would result from shooting hand-held. This went against the opposite problem that each doubling of ISO doubles the level of noise. I finally settled on the lowest possible level consistent with capturing the image in acceptable quality, being ISO 2000. I find that so many such decisions are a compromise, often taken rapidly at a subliminal thought level, based on instinct and experience.

 

With these decisions made, I needed to handle blown out highlights caused by the glare in sections of the image produced by electric light sources added to the ancient chandelier. For that, I dialed down Exposure compensation by -0.1EV, which darkened the overall effect, but in a pleasing way, adding to the focus isolation and the general low light level.

 

As a result of all the above, the speed came in at 1/2500s, which compensated for the vulnerability of my D800 to any sign of camera shake. Clearly, I completed my precautions by using the balcony rim as a support.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 150mm

VR: ON

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/2500s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.1EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 2000

 

I hope that you both appreciate the image and the music that was the occasion for capturing it, by viewing the YouTube link.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art London Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos Swedish Church φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/literas-loquendi Sat, 23 May 2015 13:18:37 GMT
Apocalypse Now https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/apocalypse-now Apocalypse NowApocalypse NowCopyrighted Digital Photograph

While working in Hawaii on a soon-to-be-revealed project, I spent several days and nights photographing the crater of Kilauea volcano. During daytime, the fact that it is in constant eruption is usually surprisingly hard to see, with only a wisp of steamy grey-white smoke joining its crater to the sky. At night, however, the eruption is marginally visible inside the crater and its fiery glow illuminates both its smoke plume and the clouds above. It seemed to be a Hieronymus Bosch-like vision of Hell.

 

I learned a few days ago that the activity level has stepped up a notch since I left and perhaps the lava eruption may have become a daytime sight? To a non-volcanologist, there seems to have been a spurt of activity worldwide during the last few years, with on-land eruptions spewing megatons of ash into the sky and sub-sea ones creating new islands.

 

Wonderment

 

The sheer power of our planet home’s internal workings, demonstrated in the plasticity of rock and geological processes is a reminder that the stability and fixedness of the surface upon which we live is an illusion. The vast number of curious parameters and combinations of circumstances that place us in this “Goldilocks” zone in time and space astonish me. The more we learn about quantum mechanics and astrophysics, the more we seem to learn of further “quirks” in the functioning of the universe that give rise to our existence, nourish and protect us. Awe-some, in fact.

 

Determination and planning

 

Capturing this image required some logistical thinking and the application of a dose of old fashioned sweat and muscle to backpack 25 kilos of equipment from the tourist car park out onto the rim of the main crater. Oh, and a torch! The friability and sharpness of volcanic rock is uncomfortable to walk on and painful to fall on. Luckily, I was travelling on old, cold surfaces and did not have to worry about any accidents from flowing lava or hidden lava tubes. I had also scouted the spot to set up the tripod during earlier daytime trips, so I had a reasonably good idea about the best viewpoint, as well as where I might risk falling over the edge.

 

Slow and Careful

 

Working in the dark and on a very rough and dirty surface is challenging for a job requiring precise manipulation of delicate mechanical and optical equipment. Slow and sure is the byword, so as to avoid dropping, and thereby probably losing, camera accessories, but my personal worry is about allowing fine dust and particles to blow into the camera body and lenses. If you have ever changed lenses on or near a beach you will know just how easy it is for the sensor to become polluted. A volcano is very similar. I did carry sensor-cleaning materials, but it is preferable to capture a clean image at the outset, than to have to sweat over removing imperfections afterwards in software.

 

Keep it Simple

 

That said, the camera’s shooting parameters were set up, as far as possible, before leaving my lodgings, so that once it was mounted on the tripod and the remaining mass of the camera backpack was slung beneath the central hook, so as to provide further weight and stability, I could concentrate on the adjustments that imposed themselves from the actual conditions on site.

The fundamental issue was trying to photograph a moving cloud in near pitch-black conditions. Experimentation showed that even after I had maxed out the ISO with a choice of 3200. The bright centre of the eruption also needed some negative exposure compensation, such that, overall, the best speed I could obtain was only 1/10th of a second. The D800 provides 6400 ISO and two higher boost settings, but these are very, very “noisy”. All of that said, I tried my luck in the conditions as they were, hoping that a compromise image would be captured, if the clouds did not move to fast in the wrong places. Clearly, bracketing was a key to this exercise.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 70mm

VR: OFF

Focus Mode: AF-S

Aperture: f/3.2

Shutter Speed: 1/10s

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 3200

Bracketing set to 5

Mounted on a Tripod

 

The Volcano Park on Hawaii, the “Big Island” is a marvelous, but frequently wet and grey, tropical rainforest experience. I recommend splitting your stay on the island, so as to share time on the sunnier West coast, as well as the cloudier East coast.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/apocalypse-now Thu, 14 May 2015 23:00:00 GMT
Reach For The Sky! https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/reach-for-the-sky Reach For The SkyReach For The SkyCopyrighted Digital Photograph

I have been privileged twice in my life, once in London and once in New York, to live on the 40th floor of a residential tower. This image is of the St. George Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, London, a recent, 50-storey addition to the skyline, which is now the tallest residential building in London. My personal experience was that it was better to be looking out from within the buildings which I inhabited, rather than seeing them from the outside, since these were concrete-built 1950’s and 1960’s designs lacking the materials sophistication evident in the cladding choices of today’s constructions. I therefore enjoy the visual impact of many of the reflective, colourful towers which maximize the footprint of today’s city-centre residential buildings.

 

Location, Location, Location

 

I am also grateful for the fact that the site on the river at Vauxhall lies way beyond the area of traditional and historical structures in the centre of London, over which it would loom and with whom it would visually “jar”. Set apart in a vista of flat water and wide skies, it is able to be itself and stand proud.

 

In that regard, I was very disappointed recently to discover the external view of the new Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, which is crouched between a children’s amusement park a riding school and a (hopefully) waiting-to be-demolished 1960’s office building. I hope that the interior and the view from within the adjacent Jardin d’Acclimatation will change my opinion, when I take the opportunity to photograph from the private side, as opposed to that public view. Most of the flattering images I have seen so far appear to have been taken from the air. Maybe the architects are children of our new Era of the Drone and expect that their work be best seen from above?

 

Composition?

 

That said, my photographic conundrum was how to show this structure in its best light? (Pun intended) My tripod was set up for “architectural” photography, with a wide-angle, 24mm, “perspective control” lens, which allows the image to be corrected for vertical distortion and sideways focus. I did wonder whether to change to a long lens, in order to frame only the St. George’s Wharf complex, excluding the other, more disparate structures to its right. My aesthetic “juices” seemed to salivate more in the direction of the big sky option and the opportunity for added interest offered by the bare twigs of an overhanging tree.

 

The resultant image is, for me, to be read from left to right in a rising sweep from the lower buildings, past the tower, up into the triangular tracery of the tree. Although this goes counter to the general visual psychology of reading a landscape from near to far, I feel that the other natural, Western cultural rule of reading left-to-right and the strength of the shapes still gives satisfaction. Similarly, there is a lighting drift in the same direction, from bright to dark, which adds to the effect.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/27

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.7 EV

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 900

Mounted on a Tripod

 

I was surprised to learn that the building was a strong contender for the 2014 “Carbuncle Cup” a joke prize offered by the magazine Building Design for the “ugliest building” completed in the UK over the previous 12 months. As stated above, given its situation, it is my view that it can stand on its own merits, without distressing the view of previous, much-loved structures. What do you think?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos St.George Wharf φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/reach-for-the-sky Fri, 08 May 2015 07:00:00 GMT
Oh! That Light! https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/oh-that-light Oh! That Light!Oh! That Light!

Sitting in a friend’s kitchen one Summer’s day in Dallas 10 years ago, I was gripped with awe, when I saw the harsh light of mid-day pierce the trees outside and the fronds of an intervening household plant, before exploding inside the heads of flowers adorning a vase. The purple of the flowers and the cobalt blue of the vase’ seemed to enhance each other in the same way that the shapes of the jagged shards of porcelain matched the irregular jumble of the flowers’ leaves and stems.

 

Ethereal

 

The final effect was so subtle and so ephemeral, that it seemed as if the flowers had morphed into candles, some bright and some extinguished, but all beautiful. Coming to my photographic senses, I rushed to get my camera. I doubted if I could capture it with what was then my first-generation digital camera.

 

The result was an exercise in Still Life. The serendipitous nature of the occasion did not allow me to pay more attention to the composition of the elements in the image, prior to capturing it. Therefore a small crop was necessary to exclude the jarring colour of the light on the table on which the vase stood and I had to accept that the flowers on the right are marginally out of frame.

 

“Contre Jour”

 

The contrast between the glare of the day and the shadow of the vase created a stark effect of “contre-jour”? What is the English expression for that? Oh yes, it is contre-jour! To emphasise the flower heads in that light, I had to blur out the background at the same time as lightening the image from the front, given the excessive contrast between the dark side of the vase and the glaring light from the window.

 

Therefore, I chose a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus and compensated for the glaring light by use of flash to lighten the vase, which was in shadow. I was pleased with the result.

 

Technical

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm zoom f/3.5-4.5G

Focal Length: 31 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/4

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: O

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Flash 0.0 EV

Hand held

 

Light is so amazing in terms of its effect on different kinds of surfaces and materials. Do you pay attention to what it is doing around you? When you do see a gorgeous sight, do you reach for a camera, or do you just sit and drink it in? There is much to be said for “staying in the moment”, but I was glad to have made a decision to act photographically, so as to be able to share this with you.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos Still Life φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/5/oh-that-light Sat, 02 May 2015 11:11:11 GMT
Eiffel Snow https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/eiffel-snow Eiffel SnowEiffel SnowEiffel Snow

This image reflects the knife-sharp cold and snow-swept visual conditions of an otherwise enchanting Winter’s day. Unusually for Paris, it was painful to handle the camera for long without gloves and not easy to stay warm, despite semi-Arctic clothing, but the camera was able to function normally. Thank-you Nikon!

 

Stark Beauty

 

This is a colour image, but the lighting and environmental conditions convert the scene to near black and white. Viewed on an enlargement, the browns of the wood and the green of the gardeners’ buildings in the distance are dimly visible, but that said, the nakedness of the trees and the neighbouring lamppost stand out against the snow and the sky in a pleasing, near black tracery.

 

It seems a scene of beautiful desolation, empty of people and so very still, that it is almost as if Princess Elsa of “Frozen” passed by here. That said, I only discovered by enlarging on-screen that there is, in fact, a person in the image. Look between the two nearest trees on the left for the man in the white coat.

 

Glare

 

My main concern was the “whiteness” of it all. This was not the blue-sky, colourful conditions, which attracted the Impressionists to render snow in true colour as faintly blue in the shadows. Pristine ground snow faded into a dull grey sky and no amount of exposure correction seemed able to stop the sensor “blowing out” the white highlights. I finally accepted the inevitable and settled on a stark, near black and white exposure, where the “blown” highlights cover almost the entirety of the image area! This is a theoretical, perfect balance reading by the camera’s data processor, since the actual image data that was captured is visible to you now.

 

Focus

 

Even with the snow falling between the Eiffel Tower, and me I wanted to further emphasise the separation between the trees in the foreground and the eerie presence of the Tower in the distance, by choosing a wide aperture. Finally, in order to eliminate un-aesthetic elements on each side, I had to crop the image vertically, but I found that, happily, this emphasized the impact of the trees on the tower.

 

 

Settings

 

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 70mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/4.5

Shutter Speed: 1/6400

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Tripod

 

Will Global Warming make this kind of experience in Paris more or less likely? I don’t understand the science well enough to guess, but I hope that it repeats itself frequently enough to allow me and you to see Paris cloaked in a new covering and generating a new kind of light.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Eiffel Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Tower Winter in snow the φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/eiffel-snow Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:33:33 GMT
Pont de la Concorde https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/pont-de-la-concorde Pont de la ConcordePont de la ConcordeCopyrighted Digital Photograph

That light!

 

This image was taken in the early evening during May, when the golden light of sunset in the West was slanting to a low angle. The colour and quality of the light was arresting, as it seemed to enhance the age and mystery of this bridge, which witnessed the birth pangs of the Revolution during its own construction.

 

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters?

 

Spanning the right and left banks of the Seine, the bridge today links the Place de la Concorde with the French parliament, the Assemblée Nationale. Given the bloody history of Concorde, site of the guillotine which sent so many to their Maker, it provides a salutary reminder to the legislators of what awaits them if the population tires of its political masters and crosses the river to lay siege to the Parliament.

 

Planned by the architect of the reigning monarch Louis XVI, the bridge was started before the French Revolution in 1787, but was only completed during the revolution in 1791. In fact, as construction progressed, the builders were able to use a significant amount of masonry taken from the Bastille prison fortress, demolished in 1789. A final rebuild took place in 1930, when it was widened.

 

The History Of Names

 

It has changed names frequently, like the Place de la Concorde, which was originally Place Louis XV before changing to Place de la Révolution, back to Place Louis XV, then Place Louis XVI, before finally settling down again with its current moniker in 1830.

 

The bridge has also changed names 5 times, although it has only had three names. It started off in life as the Pont Louis XVI, became the Pont de la Révolution in 1792, Pont de la Concorde around 1796 and Pont Louis XVI again during the Bourbon Restoration of 1814. In 1830, it once again became Pont de la Concorde following the July Revolution that replaced the Bourbon Restoration with the Orléanist monarchy.

 

Dynamic Range

 

For me, this is the key factor with which I struggle, in order to capture all the subtlety of light in the somber scenes, which frequently attract my attention.  I have written earlier about the photographer’s frustration with the fact that a camera, however technically excellent, cannot hope to match the subtlety of the human eye in capturing the range of brightness in a scene.

 

Photographing the underside of a low bridge, while strong direct sunlight is illuminating the pillars and reflecting on the water is therefore fraught with difficulty. This is most evident in the light playing on the pillars in the middle of the river, where the brightest sections are verging on being “burnt out”, therefore swamping the camera’s sensor with so much light that it ceases to deliver useful data.

 

This could be compensated by settings which matched the high level of light, but which would, on the other hand, negatively handle the darker areas of the image, which represent the bulk of the scene. This calls for a set of compromise choices, as well as bracketing the central image with “lighter” and “darker captures. The principal choice was to experiment with the exposure compensation settings, which I finally fixed at -1.3 EV, which is relatively severe. Also I chose to use spot metering to refine the camera’s exposure assessment of the bright spot, rather than the more usual Matrix metering, which provides a balanced exposure based on the whole image.    

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 60mm f2.8G Prime

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/160s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Bracketing: Multiple captures

Mounted on Monopod

 

The light and its effect on the structure touched my sense of history, as I lived the moment, but I only learned of the whole history of the bridge, particularly its inclusion of the masonry of the Bastille, when I researched this blog post. I hope that it has something of the same effect on you.

 

Why not take a little tour around the rest of my site to see what other emotional responses I have tried to evoke with my camera?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 60mm Prime AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos Pont de la Concorde φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/pont-de-la-concorde Sun, 19 Apr 2015 12:18:10 GMT
La Coupole de Jacques https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/la-coupole-de-jacques La Coupole de JacquesLa Coupole de JacquesCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

This magnificent Art Nouveau cupola is the 1912 work of the architect Ferdinand Chanut, and his glass artist Jacques Gruber, who was also a cabinet maker and painter. Built around 10 metal pillars supported on a magnificent, operatic, circle of balconies, it translates the sky into a psychedelic frenzy of colours and shapes designed to excite the eager shoppers below, winding them up into a frenzy of buying, their minds bent to the will of the commercial geniuses who commanded this exotic beauty, an architectural ode, worthy of Shelley’s Ozymandias.

 

Framing

 

This was a two-phase exercise. Firstly on-site, as I sought an interesting, non “architectural” angle of a much-photographed edifice and secondly, on-screen, as I sought to fine tune the architectural elements of the image in the most aesthetically satisfying way.

I therefore avoided symmetrical, centred framing and twisted the viewpoint leftwards, to include a slice of the near edge of the balcony where I was stationed. This was emphasized by my 24mm optical choice whose wide-angle, “dog nose” distortion created an enlarged, left-side frame for the dome. For the same reason, the pillars were also distorted, introducing a dynamic, live feel to the shape. 

 

Trompe l’Oeuil

 

I don’t know about you, but my eye plays tricks on me with this image. The central, highly-coloured top of the dome seems to “pop” in and out, when I lose track of what the original point view showed me. Most of the time it seems to me as if that part of the structure was built to hang down from the centre, when, in fact it is a small, separate dome rising out at the top.

Equally, my mind morphs the shapes of the pillars to create a spider-like sense of the legs of a monster arachnid. Does that happen to you too?

 

La Ville Lumiere

 

Jacques the glass master, was obviously also a Master of Light. His subtle treatment of the clear panels is wonderfully visible thanks to the restoration for the centenary in 2012. The beautifully subtle daylight of Paris creates a constantly evolving effect of filtered light through an enormous artwork.

In pixel-peeping my images, I notice that the light reflected from or transiting through the surface of the glass panels is filtered through a kind of netting, which seems to cover the structure? I don’t know whether this is an original element, a more recent conservation-oriented addition or an insurance-driven protection against anything loose falling on the bedazzled shoppers below, but it seems to add an additional level of subtlety to the visual effect.  

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom
Focal Length: 24 mm
Focus Mode: AF-S
Autofocus Area Mode: Single
Aperture Priority
Aperture: f/10
Shutter Speed: 1/100s
Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority
Exposure Compensation : -0.3 EV
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: 800
Held on the glass edge of the balcony

 

Other wonderful photographic opportunities in Boulevard Haussman’s temples to Mammon are the roof terraces of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Don’t miss these opportunities to drink in the roofs of “Paname”.


Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/la-coupole-de-jacques Fri, 10 Apr 2015 10:59:44 GMT
Tour EDF https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/tour-edf Tour EDFTour EDFCopyrighted Digital Photograph

This is another attempt at capturing the subtelty of this interestingly designed building at La Defense in Paris. Its shapes and surfaces always interact beautifully with the light, whatever the season, the time or the weather.  

 

Shapes

 

I played around with cropping quite a lot before settling on the composition that satisfied me. My intent from the beginning was to create an abstract and I needed to find the most satisfying positioning of the curved podium, relative to the angled glass surface above and behind it.

 

Strong straight lines abound, because of the unusual shape of the curved glass wedge above the metallic canopy, and distract the eye with too much detail and confusing directions. So, I tried to focus on the curving nature of the components, avoiding verticals which might intrude on the original.

 

Surfaces

 

I can’t explain why, but I very much enjoy the effects of the metallic and glass surfaces in this photograph. Both seem silky and tremendously smooth, to the point that I would love to stroke them and feel their cold touch. They seem rich and finely assembled, a luxury structure. They tone in with each other and reflect light delicately.   

 

Sweeps

 

For some reason, which I cannot yet explain, I start to “read” this image from right to left, instead of my usual, “western” trained habit of left-to-right. My eye starts in the dark of the bottom right corner, follows the lines fanning out under the canopy and then follows the rim back to the centre, where I connect with the upward sweep of the window lines.

 

The best art provides visual, often subliminal, clues which lead the eyes through the story that the artist seeks to tell. This is true for both figurative and abstract subjects and my intent here is to provide a satisfying journey for the eye.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 58 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/160s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400

Mounted on a monopod

 

I hope that, enjoying this image, you might take a stoll through my other architectural and abstract images on this site.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/4/tour-edf Sat, 04 Apr 2015 13:06:17 GMT
Dilemmas https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/the-dilemma-of-colour  

Sacre Coeur MonochromeSacre Coeur MonochromeCopyrighted Digital Photograph Sacre Coeur ColourSacre Coeur ColourCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Is Colour Best?

 

Art appreciation depends on an individual’s physical condition, particularly the wide variety of visual abberations from which our individual eyesights suffer, including response to colours and – even more importantly in my view - the choices we have made in life to develope the set of visual, intellectual and emotional standards, from which we judge art. Despite a lifetime of trying to hone the latter, I cannot decide which of the two treatments above I prefer, since I am torn between my visual responses to the subtlety of colour in the original image, versus the emotional effect of time past expressed in its manipulated, monochrome version.

 

The colour version pleases me in its chromatic sobriety (see the contre jour discussion below), which is nevertheless not so sparse as to falsify the reality of the scene. True, the low-light effect is manipulated, but it softens the stones and focuses the eye on an upward plunging perspective, finally drawing the eye to a soft, evening-like horizon. Also, the cobbles maintain a sense of some late Winter/ early Spring warmth, even despite the effect of the barren trees.

 

Contre-Jour Contre Nature?

 

The graphic impact of this image is also a function of my choice to chose to shoot nearly straight into the sun and to heavily dial down the exposure compensation, such that an early evening level of light is imaged, although the photograph was, in fact taken in full daylight. My intent was to create a silhouetted, contre-jour effect, in order to concentrate on the paving stones and avoid the eye taking an interest in greater detail elsewhere.

 

Composing is not Just for Musicians

 

Finally, the composition is stark, with 2/3rds of the image taken up by the sweep of the cobbles, driving upwards at a sharp angle. This has the purpose of leading the eye directly to the dome of Sacre Coeur and the dramatic statue beside it (I cannot discover whether it is of St George slaying the dragon or if it is meant to be an Archangel).

 

That said, my personal critique leads me to ask myself whether I ought not to have stepped a foot to the left, in order to create a space between the top of the lamp and the adjacent building? The fact that it touches the building’s edge somehow displeases me.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 58 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/3200s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.2 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Mounted on a monopod

 

Do you have a preference between the two images? Let me and others know by leaving a comment on the blog page.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/the-dilemma-of-colour Sat, 28 Mar 2015 17:18:37 GMT
Fly Me To The Moon https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/fly-me-to-the-moon  

Fly Me To The MoonFly Me To The MoonCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

“…and let me play among the stars”. This one is for all the astronauts out there.

 

Asterisms

 

Viewing things “out there” that, although at enormously different distances from each other, apparently line up and create an interesting, but false, image is known in astronomy as an asterism. The most famous one is the Plough or Big Dipper (depending on whether you are British or American).

 

Serendipity and making your own luck

 

I was photographing in the Place de la Concorde one evening, when I spotted the aircraft heading towards the vicinity of the moon. Equally serendipitously, my camera happened to be set up with a telephoto zoom lens. That said the subjects in the resultant photograph were still much too small in the frame and it required heavy re-processing and cropping to provide this view. Therefore the final JPEG image is a small file of less than 1 megabyte, compared to the original of 14 megabytes, which is too little for a quality print.

 

I quickly dialled down the Exposure Compensation to -2, in order to avoid the glare of the moon, although – now that I read the metadata – I see that my hurry and impatience made me neglect a few things. Firstly, I did not pull the zoom out to its 300mm maximum. Maybe I can excuse that by the need to seize the rapidly passing moment? Maybe not? You make your own luck, as they say.

 

Also, because of the lack of time, I did not change from the high-quality ISO of 250, resulting in an undesirably slow speed of 1/100s. This lens is an older, non-vibration  reduction model, so a faster speed would have been ideal, given that both the aircraft and the moon were in movement.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: 70—300mm f4-5.6D

Focal Length: 250mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/18

Shutter Speed: 1/100s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.2 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Hand held

 

In closing, I would just like to remind you that the song is not about astronomy, but about love…

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fly Me To The Moon Moon Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/fly-me-to-the-moon Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:53:33 GMT
Les Toits de Paris https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/les-toits-de-paris Les Toits de ParisLes Toits de ParisCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

The roofs of Paris have an eternal fascination for photographers. I have seen many taken from the heights of Montmartre, but my angle of view this time was face-on to the Basilica which, for me, gives a more intimate feel to the “Butte” when connected to the Parisian roof scene.

 

As for so many other visitors, there is something about viewing Paris over the roofs which creates strongly enjoyable feelings of history, art, residential density and cultural specificity. It always raises my spirits, whenever viewed from a hill, the Eiffel Tower, another tall structure, or –as in this case - my own, secret preferred location.

 

A Feel For History

 

From a bucolic, religious backwater and vineyard to gypsum quarry to revolutionary battlefield to bohemian centre to tourist Mecca, Montmartre has had an intense history over the last few centuries. The visible marker of this history is the white Basilica, visible from miles around, which was built in expiation for the sins committed in the name of nascent communism during the Siege of Paris in 1871. If you are on the other side of the political spectrum, your preferred respectful Paris visit would be to the “Mur des Federees” in Pere Lachaise cemetery, where captured Communards were shot into a mass grave by the victorious, conservative French Government  troops.

 

Moving from the end of the Prussian invasion of France to our own times, when Montmartre is enjoyed by reason of the bohemian occupation and its associations with Utrillo, Modigliani, Mondrian and many others, the atmosphere is one of bustle, street art, street performance and, in the Basilica, religious reflection.

 

Foreshortening Impact

 

Telephoto lenses invariably create a false visual effect, whereby farther and closer subjects appear pushed closer together in the photograph than they are in real life. Sacre Coeur was beautifully designed to be seen and appreciated from the large open space dropping down from in front of it onto the boulevards below. This image falsely “pushes the roofs of the intervening buildings up against the Basilica, hiding that open space.

 

The effect is nevertheless pleasing, seemingly making the church nestle right down on the residential housing, whereas they are, in fact built on a ridge between the hill of Montmartre and the viewing point.

 

Apart from that telephoto effect the photographic choices were relatively simple. The only issue was the whiteness of the church, making dynamic range an issue. This was compensated by a relatively strong Exposure compensation of -0.7EV, allied to spot metering onto the Basilica, which controlled the tendency of the main feature to be burnt out. 

 

Technical

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 200mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Vibration Reduction : On

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : +0.7 EV

Bracketing set to 3

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 400

Hand held, supported on a ledge

 

It is quite a challenge to try and make a difference when capturing iconic buildings. How would you approach the Sacre Coeur in that regard?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D300 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/les-toits-de-paris Sat, 14 Mar 2015 20:05:27 GMT
Mississippi sur Loire https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/mississippi-sur-loire Mississippi sur LoireMississippi sur LoireCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

A moss-covered, drowning tree trails its twigs in the languorous flow of a dawn-impregnated river. The sun peeps through the mist over the dim, far bank, preparing a hot new day in the Deep South.

 

Except that this is not Missouri, but Beaugency sur Loire, in the Loiret, another favourite spot of mine, downstream from the medieval town, where this Summer-slow river meanders in shallow turns between forested shores.

 

Although it is not far from the nearby ribbon of housing built above the flood plain, it takes a determined pre-dawn effort to reach this semi-wilderness, clambering in the gloom with a torch through tall weeds, trying to find a view of the dawn that will do justice to the peace and beauty of la France Profonde. 

 

Don’t Miss The Gift

 

The joy of simply being in such a place at such a time is as important as any photographic intent and I always try to remain open to the absolute gift that is being presented to me. Surely the sense of awe, peace and beauty which such a moment offers is key to feeling the way towards choosing an image that can be shared with you.

 

I confess that the fleeting effects of light tend to push me towards a more bustling, mentally intense, active attitude, rather than a spiritual, meditative state, but my urge to be at the right place at the right time and the investment of planning and effort to get there help me to not “waste” my time in photography alone.

 

I am as guilty as the many other persons I see in attractive places, so much hurrying to capture “the” image, that we sometimes miss the sweetness of the moment and the chance to feed the inner self.

 

Flexibility Is Everything

 

Given the constraints of unstable ground, twisted branches, highly contrasted light and heavily detailed shapes, I was glad to have scrambled my way down to the rivers’ edge with a heavy tripod and a bag full of lens choices.

 

This scene called for the use of the most flexible one, an “architectural”, wide angle, “Perspective Control” instrument. Adjustments allow the lens to view the scene more flexibly than a “normal” lens permits, particularly via raising and lowering the optics to alter the view of the scene, without moving the camera body.

 

Normally this lens comes into its own when trying to capture the entirety of a tall building without parallax distortion. Being a prime lens it is extremely efficient optically, but it does require exacting focus pulling, since it is manual focus only.   

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/40s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : 0

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 200

Mounted on a Tripod

 

I urge you to get up early and enjoy the dawn whenever you can, ready to both drink in its sweetness for yourself, as well as to share what you see with others via photography.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Beaugency-sur Fine Art Loire Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/3/mississippi-sur-loire Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:54:21 GMT
Eiffel Champagne https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/eiffel-champagne Eiffel ChampagneEiffel ChampagneCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Have you ever envisioned the top of the Eiffel Tower as the cork on a bottle of Champagne? That image came to me, as I walked in the Tuileries Gardens and was startled by image of a jet of water from a fountain lining up with the Tower in the distance. The image of the champagne cork “popping” was irresistible.

 

Situational Awareness

 

In an earlier life, I had to laugh a lot at the implementation of a new management tool by my boss. It was called MBWA - “management by walking about”. While it is laughable to see a superior try to fake empathy with the peons, by simply being present in the workspace, as opposed to skulking in his office, MBWA turns out to be a noble pursuit in photography.

 

As I have written previously, the aesthetic eye should be constantly considering what is being presented to it, as the photographer walks about in his/her environment. It is important to vary the point of view, for example turning around at regular intervals to see how the scene just passed might appear more interesting, given the new perspective. Equally, stepping a foot or two to the right or the left, or even an inch or two for that matter, alters the alignment of pictorial elements in important ways. Such a movement lined up this jet of water with the Eiffel Tower, which is, in fact, several miles away.

 

The Excitement of the Discovery

 

I was enthralled with my visual discovery, which seemed invisible to the hundreds of people around me. Capturing the image would give the opportunity for others to share in my joy and to savour a whimsical and beautiful conjunction of the near and the far, the banal and the iconic, as well as creating a modestly surrealistic experience.

 

I set to work to try and ensure that the physically distant and dynamically different objects could be brought into a coherent relationship.

 

Technique

 

The principal problem of “fixing” the water droplets so as to imitate champagne, required the use of significant speed, 1/3200 of a second in this case. Happily, despite this speed, the day was bright, which enabled the relatively narrow aperture of f/13 needed to ensure that the iconic shape of the Eiffel Tower was not blurred into nothingness, given the distance between the two objects. That said, one compromise had to be the use of a less than optimal ISO of 800, unusual for a sunny day.

 

The next issue was framing the image hand-held, while avoiding crowds of passers by and achieving good alignment of water flow and the tower. Rapid-fire shutter release was necessary to compensate for my uncomfortable physical position and the uncertainty as to whether I had perfectly aligned the shot or not.

 

I spent some time trying to confirm visual success and good exposure using the camera’s review screen, but it is never certain until viewed “full screen” back in the digital darkroom. The ideal would have been to shoot “tethered”, such that the images could be viewed immediately on the computer connected to the camera, but since I did not have a computer with me on a casual walk through the neigbourhood, this was not an option.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: 70-300mm zoom f/4-5.6D

Focal Length: 250 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/13

Shutter Speed: 1/3200s

Continuous Shutter Release

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.3 EV

Metering: Centre weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

I hope that the celebratory, serendipitous nature of this image gives you a little pleasure on the eve of your weekend. Enjoy!

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Eiffel Champagne Fine Art Nikon Capture NX2 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/eiffel-champagne Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:28:18 GMT
Greece Is Drowning https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/greece-is-drowning Greece is DrowningGreece is DrowningCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Anguish

 

This photograph is a metaphor for the anguished situation of the Greeks. My use of “Photeinos” as a brand comes from the Greek: “lustrous, transparent or well-illuminated…bright, full of light”. I love Greece for the many times that I have visited, photographed, meditated and enjoyed friendships there. I also am keenly aware of its financial distress, not least because I was part of the structural problem in my role as risk manager in my previous, investment-banking career. I lived the birth of the crisis during 4 years in New York, from 2005 to 2008, and physically witnessed the demise of Lehman Brothers from my office on the other side of the street. My heart goes out to all those, worldwide, who have felt the pain of the last few years’ financial woes.

 

Be Aware

 

In the spring of 2012, I was comfortably settled on a pontoon in the bay of Porto Heli in the southern Peloponnese, photographing the scene and the activity on the water. Although I was enjoying yet another wonderful, peaceful visit to this place, I was keenly aware of the deepening disaster around me, that was sweeping over a proud and ancient people. Perhaps too proud and ancient, I wondered? They seemed to be suffering from the long-term consequences of dreamy responses to the realities of a harsh world.

 

As these thoughts floated around in the back of a mind that was primarily seeking to capture a photographic  “instant decisive”, I was jerked into real life, when this drowning Greek flag came floating on the current. I immediately “felt” its impact, as a metaphor for the state of the country and the feelings of its people, both of them drowning in a sea of debt, tattered and struggling to stay afloat. My taking the photograph was a reflex action, born of my professional experiences and my sensitivity to my immediate environment. It was a crazy moment, unifying my past life of banker with my new life of photographer.

 

D-Day

 

As I write, “Debt” day approaches for the EU negotiators and the Greek government. I have no idea how the events will play out, but I place my hope in the beauty and peace of the azure sea that rocks this struggling symbol of the country in its warm embrace. The Greeks live a maritime existence and have learned how to tough it out with the capricious and powerful ocean. May they find a way to navigate today’s dangerous currents and storms. This subject is too sensitive to trivialise it with any comment on the photography related to taking the image. I simply copy the settings below, as per my weekly format. 

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 280 mm

Vibration reduction: Off

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Dynamic 51 points (3D tracking)

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Handheld

 

At this critical time for Greece, I trust that, one way or another, the consequences will result in long-term renewal for this wonderful country and its people.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art D300 Fine Art Greece Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/greece-is-drowning Thu, 19 Feb 2015 23:01:00 GMT
Breaker https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/breaker BreakerBreakerCopyrighted Digital Photograph

The end of a half-the-Pacific journey, as a wave breaks gently on the dawn-lit shore of Hawaii island.

 

Narrow Vision?

 

The original photograph is of a shoreline view of the sea, a wave and rocks, which was framed as a standard, 35mm, 4x6 proportion rectangle. The wide, narrow form in this version of the image was a choice inspired by the central, lace-like delicacy of the breaking peak of the wave and the double banding of a gold and azure.

 

In post-processing, I therefore experimented with the “free-form” version of the crop tool, as opposed to the standard formats, until I was satisfied with the combination of proportion and content.

 

Water Wonders

 

 As I have explained previously, I have a fascination with the beauty to be found in frozen moments of moving water. Happily, my camera will capture at up to 1/8000th of a second, which is able to capture the tremendous speed of water shattering, such as in this subject.

 

However, given that I was photographing in the delicate light of dawn, the highest possible speeds would have only been possible with an excessively high and relatively poor quality ISO of say 3200 or 6400+ and a wide-open aperture of, say f/2.8.

 

As it was, I compromised with a speed of 1/3200s and a “decent” ISO of 800, such that the camera managed to shoot at an aperture of f/5.6, just enough to achieve reasonable depth-of-field for the breaker, which was about 50 feet away. Such speed nullifies the vibration reduction capability of this particular zoom lens, as does mounting the camera on a tripod. The latter added stability to the capture and compensated a little for the non-use of a “laboratory” speed.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 135 mm

Vibration reduction: Off

Focus Mode: Manual

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/3200s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.7EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Mounted on a Tripod

 

This was photographed during my “Genesis” project, as part of the water depictions and will be posted to the website in due course, once the project is complete.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

 

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Fine Art Hawaii Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/breaker Sat, 14 Feb 2015 20:22:35 GMT
Serendipity https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/serendipity SerendipitySerendipityCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

A surprise visitor appeared during the few seconds that I set up my camera to capture this beautiful flower.

 

Serendipity

 

I needed insect images as part of my Hawaiian project, but I struggled to find many to photograph, in the depths of what passes for Winter in the tropics. While this was a blessing in terms of avoiding insect bites in the rainforest and at the beach, it proved a very limiting factor in completing my image capture plans.

 

In pursuit of the flowering plants part of my list, I was wandering around in the tall grass on the slopes of Mount Kilauea and stopped to capture the delicate petals of this red flower. After making my adjustments, I composed the image in the viewfinder, focused on the plant, steadied the Monopod supporting the camera and lens, breathed out slowly and “clicked”.

 

During the the first image capture I did not realize that an insect had settled on the plant. Looking at the image on the camera’s viewing screen to check white Balance and enlarging the view to check for focus accuracy, I then saw the visitor and went back to shooting to try and capture it while it worked on this bloom. The subsequent images did not have the same flying impact as the unplanned one however, so I accepted the stroke of fate and present it here.

 

Speed is of the essence

 

The camera set-up described below prioritised a fast shutter speed over aperture, in order to avoid the blur that inevitably comes from photographing plants blowing in the breeze. Vibration reduction was switched off, since it does not have useful effect at shutter speeds over 1/500s and the good daylight generated a limited, but acceptable aperture of 6.3.

 

That said, when a flying insect buzzes into view, the choice of faster speed provides a better chance of capturing its body movement and wingbeats. A serendipitous technical benefit!

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 155 mm

Vibration reduction: Off

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/6.3

Shutter Speed: 1/800s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation : 0

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Mounted on Monopod

 

This was photographed during my “Genesis” project, as part of the plant and insect depictions and will be posted to the website in due course, once the project is complete.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/2/serendipity Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:42:26 GMT
Leviathan https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/leviathan LeviathanLeviathanCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

After taking another huge breath, a Humpback Whale slides back into the Pacific Ocean, off of the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, its tail streaming water.

 

Leviathan

 

Our boat took us out of Honokohau Harbour in search of some of the thousands of whales who migrate annually from Alaska to Hawaii in order to breed, in the case of females in heat, and to give birth, in the case of females already pregnant for the 12 months of whale gestation. He gave a running commentary on the lives of whales, particularly the Humpback whales which are most common in this area. These animals are far greater in size and bulk than our 40 foot boat, even though they are far less massive than their Sperm Whale cousins.

 

We spent some time with a mother and its calf, supported by a protecting male, whose action was definitively self-interested, given that females frequently come back into heat having given birth and accompanying her as she fed her offspring, might lead to a future recurrence of this happy event.

 

Captain Dan

 

Captain Dan McSweeney was full of interesting information about the whales: the fact that they do not feed while in Hawaii; that the mothers provide an enormous amount of milk per day to their calves, squirted into their mouths underwater, thereby losing 10 tons of body mass while nursing; the mating hope of the protecting males, who fend off any other interested suitors (or not) and the remarkable story of the regeneration of whale populations since they were largely protected in the 1960’s. See his website:

(http://www.ilovewhales.com/index.html)

 

Serendipity

 

Many of the images taken during this voyage were at the legal limit for protection of the species. However, this photograph was offered to me as the boat returned to harbour, when a passing, lone Humpback, not knowing the rules, surfaced just to starboard about a mile from the harbour.

 

A Life On The Ocean Wave…

 

Taking photographs of a fast moving mammal from a pitching and rolling boat requires fast shutter speed, having a Vibration Reduction lens and being able to compensate for the interdiction of getting nearer than 100 yards to a protected species.

 

The first two issues were dealt with by using the Speed function on the exposure controls, which made shutter speed the defining parameter. With ISO set at a fixed level, the camera decided on its adjustments for exposure by changes to the aperture. Happily, given sunny, bright conditions, the reasonably high quality ISO choice still enabled a depth-of-field enhancing aperture at that fast shutter speed. The last issue, that of getting close to the subject required one hardware adjustment and exploiting two software choices.

 

“Reach”

 

The hardware was the addition of a Nikon 1.4X magnification Teleconverter. The fact that this reduced the choice of aperture for low light conditions was not relevant in this bright light situation. Adding this element increased the effective size of the lens to 195 X 1.4 = 274mm.

 

The software choice was to alter the effective sensor size from its normal Nikon “FX”, which is equivalent to the traditional 35mm frame of a film camera, to “DX”, which is the smaller sensor size of earlier generation Nikon digital cameras. The optical effect of attaching a lens which is optimized for 35mm is to multiply the magnification produced by that lens by 1.5. Therefore the final magnification produced by these adjustments is 274 X 1.5 = 411mm.

 

A final layer of “Reach” was produced in post-processing, where the full-size image was cropped to make the target image fill the frame.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G, with  added 1.4X Teleconverter

Focal Length: 195 mm

Vibration reduction: On

Focus Mode: AF-S

Image Capture area set to “DX”

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

DX Mode

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/1600s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Continuous High (maximum frames per second shooting)

Exposure Compensation : -0.3

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Hand Held

 

This was a moving experience on many levels, generating a meditative response from me. Although you could not share that particular journey on the ocean, I hope that the image gives you pause for thought.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Hawaii Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/leviathan Sat, 31 Jan 2015 20:30:17 GMT
Hawaii Project : Hokusai https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/hawaii-project-hokusai
Hawaii Project HokusaiHawaii Project HokusaiCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Bonus

 

This is an aerial image taken on the Las Vegas to San Francisco leg of my journey to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I will be working on a special project. As I joyfully anticipated the beauty and the photography to come, I was inspired by this sight, as the aircraft crossed the Sierra Nevada, somewhere south of Yosemite National Park. It was an uplifting bonus, sending me on my way to the challenges to come.

 

Hokusai

 

I “see” the way I do thanks to the inspiration provided by many Masters, mainly in the arts of painting and photography. One example comes from Japanese and Chinese landscape traditions, particularly Hokusai. Some of his evocations of Mount Fuji with clouds at its feet triggered my response to this view from my window seat.

 

A white, Winter-time, late-afternoon fog carpeted the main valley between the mountain ridges, like a foamy ocean riding into cliffs on the shore. Wispy clouds hint at the fact that the image was taken while travelling around 400 MPH at about 30,000 feet. The layout and contrast of the colours, particularly the diagonal sweeping down from image left to image right, bring the eye into the scene from distant to near. The highlands were a delicate progression of blue-gray tones, dusted with a more delicate mist, which highlighted the progression of the ridgelines. Sumptuous. 

 

The Eye in the Sky

 

I have written in previous blogs about the techniques for photographing from a fast-moving, vibrating aircraft through scratched and dirty Perspex. Sometimes this pays off more than others. This was one of those times.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom

Focal Length: 56 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/2000s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.3 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Hand held

 

Whenever you fly, I encourage you to be aware of how precious is the opportunity to be a witness to the beauties of the sky and the land. At least take the time to ponder it for a moment, and, should it truly move you, maybe try to capture it in a photograph to share with others.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon 24-70mm zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/hawaii-project-hokusai Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:55:17 GMT
Surprised By Joy II https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/still-life  

Surprised By JoySurprised By JoyCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Having recently read Henri Cartier Bresson’s views on how to become a photographer, basically “read the manual” and “learn how to see”, and his instruction to have a camera to hand at all times, while looking for subjects wherever you happen to be, including at home – I was sitting in my hosts’ lounge today, as the slanting, soft morning light of Winter shone through a window in the door, illuminating a vase of flowers.

 

I was immediately gripped by the beauty of the scene, as the vase glowed brightly and eerily, throwing its flowers into deep shadow. I was alone as I sat and enjoyed the overall view: the colours, shadows and shapes and the contrast between the bright vase and the dark bouquet, which was, curiously, lit softly from below. Visual satisfaction was completed by the single opened lily, whose gorgeous shape presaged the beauty to come from its still-closed sisters. The whole effect was sweetly emotional, vaguely surreal and had transformed a table decoration into art. A still life.

 

A Mind Awake

 

Waking from my pleasant reverie, I realised with a start, that I needed to grab the camera and try and capture the moment to share it with you, before a cloud passed by, or the direction of the sun moved the light elsewhere. The process was aesthetic and technical. The former, so as to frame the subject pleasingly, despite the non-studio setting, and the latter to find the combination of camera settings that would handle a huge “dynamic range”, i.e. the degree of contrast between the bright and dark sections of the image. After years of self-taught, digital experimentation, my artistic and photographic reflexes kicked in, allowing me to prepare to press the button less than half-a-minute from jumping out of my chair.

 

The Discarded Image

 

I am not as much of a purist as my Master, Monsieur HCB, therefore I do allow myself the luxury of post-capture cropping and using pixel manipulation allowed by the combination of “Raw” photographic files and the software of the digital darkroom. That said, I deeply enjoy the process of composing an image in the viewfinder and trying to capture that perfect moment at first attempt.

Therefore I engaged in the learned process of: being completely aware of all that is seen in the viewfinder; moving the lens minutely and incrementally to adjust for that detail; moving my body up and down and from side to side – snake-like - to find the different framing options that the scene could offer and finally, choosing the one or two positions that provided the aesthetic that pleased me most. The beauty of this is that, if you were present at the same time, you would certainly choose something different from me and it would be as fascinating or moreso than the choice that I make.

 

This flows from my lifelong love of the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Cezanne, Pissaro, Hokusai and dozens of others, when I have stood and drunk in the subtlety of the choices of line, form, proportion, balance and I know-not-what, which they united into a totally satisfying, unified image. Clearly, this implies innumerable choices of what to leave out, a choice made easier for a painter than for a photographer.

 

The Pilgrim’s Progress

 

The technical decisions were more automatic and flowed in sequence. Overall, the available light, hand-held circumstance and the subject led to a set of “art” choices, such as low ISO, prioritizing maximum aperture, so as to create a narrow depth of field and using bracketing of 3 exposures: one above, one below and the central exposure.

 

The principal problem was the high dynamic range, given that a glass vase was shining brightly in an otherwise dim room. Thinking about this involved combining the capacities of the camera with the possibilities available in post-processing. The raw images produced by a Nikon D800 at ISO 250 are very tolerant of processing and Nikon’s own processing software also provides a sophisticated “D-Lighting” function, which successfully pulls detail from otherwise darkened sections of the image. Given this protection of the darker area of the image, I focused my adjustment thinking on the more serious problem of the blazing light suffusing the vase. I therefore “dialed in” a very strong Exposure Compensation level of -1.7EV.

 

In the “digital darkroom” I made a very small crop, chose the area of the image that was in near darkness, applied D-Lighting and, finally, sharpened the adjusted version. I love the result. I hope you do too.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 60mm f2.8G Prime

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/2.8

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -1.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Bracketing: 3 captures

Hand held

 

If you are curious about today's blog title and the paragraph headings, they all come from the book list of one of my favourite authors C. S. Lewis.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 60mm Prime AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paul Grayson Photeinos Surprised By Joy φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/still-life Fri, 16 Jan 2015 19:52:06 GMT
Chinese Firecracker https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/chinese-firecracker  

 

 

Chinese CrackerChinese CrackerCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Seeing The Unseeable

 

Irrespective of the technical means needed to “freeze” this event, I am fascinated by the aesthetic of a frozen moment when thousands of shards from the casings of many firecrackers flew into surrounding space, a space suffused with smoke and flame. Its look and clours remind me of a supernova event, where an end-of-life sun collapses on itself and blasts out its matter into the void of space.

 

The image preserves innumerable scraps and particles of the red paper which had contained the explosives, now in shattered shapes creating an abstract, tan-coloured, mass flying away from the central glow. The spokes of the tree grille at the base of the image give them direction and a sense of three-dimensional volume,which I find satisfying.

 

The whole effect is, for me, one of power, excitement, discovery and curiosity. 

 

Ready For Anything

 

I had been enjoying the noise, colour and bustle of the 2014 Paris Chinese New Year parade and my camera was set to my default camera settings for general photography in Winter, which is: Aperture Priority; ISO 800; single shot image capture and – if light is low, such that the shutter speed is below 1/500s – with Vibration Reduction activated on my zoom lens. I choose these, since I want to prioritise aperture adjustment as a means to adjust depth of field, particularly in order to blur out unwanted background detail. If I need to use a faster shutter speed, I tend to achieve this, more or less instinctively, by using one finger to spin a dial whih increases aperture, making the camera shoot at a faster speed to maintain correct exposure by compensating for the increased light.

 

When confronted by a Dragon Guardian about to set off a long band of firecrackers at the foot of a tree, I needed to adapt immediately to the need for speed.

 

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

 

Well, not exactly. Capturing something moving at 100 feet per second is achieved via synchronised flash photography, using cameras whose technology can “fire” at hundreds of frames per second and is being operated by a technically experienced, and hopefully lucky, operator. This was not my situation.

 

I therefore changed from aperture to shutter priority mode, set a speed of one thousandth of a second and the shooting rate from single to highest speed. Then I mentally crossed my fingers and started to shoot, because the long, multi-element firecracker was already starting to explode.

 

Luckily for me and surprisingly too, an exploding firecracker moves much slower than a bullet, so that I was able to capture several rapid-fire shots of the event, in one of which the outward-flying fragments were mainly in focus. This one.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 70 mm

Vibration reduction: Off

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/4.5

Shutter Speed: 1/1000s

Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

Continuous High (maximum frames per second shooting)

Exposure Compensation : 0

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand Held

 

Chinese New Year is on Thursday February 19 in 2015. Chinese communities worldwide will be putting on a traditional “son et lumiere” to celebrate it, on or around that date. Why not make plans to try to capture your own impression of one of these celebrations?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Chinese New Year Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/chinese-firecracker Mon, 12 Jan 2015 04:03:40 GMT
In the Palace of the Ice Queen https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/in-the-palace-of-the-ice-queen The Grand Palais in Paris became a Winter Fairyland with a giant ice-skating rink attracting lengthy queues of children waiting to enter a beautifully-lit world of ice, glass and light. 

 

Palace of the Ice QueenPalace of the Ice QueenCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

“Upstream” contributions to producing this image.

 

What did it take to produce this image? Firstly, the Grand Palais in Paris has been undergoing significant restoration since severe problems first appeared in 1993. Much of this has been invisible, relating to the foundations, but a few years ago, the magnificent glass roof was completely renewed with lighter materials (in both senses of the word), restoring clean light transmission into and out of the building, such as is visible here. A final, reconstruction stage is planned to run from 2018 to 2024, which will bring the whole of the site back into public use and reveal the original internal scale of the edifice, while modernizing access, logistics and services, including a stunning pedestrianisation of the roof which will overlook the whole of Central Paris. I look forward to 2024!

 

Secondly, light masters were needed to set up a fairyland inside the building, providing stand-and-stare moments in the surrounding area for passers by and avid photographers.

 

Next, the photograph needed to be optimized by my recently abandoning both of my favourite camera body and zoom lenses to Nikon’s repair department, for them to replace the lens attachment ring of their “F-Mounts”. Both were no longer perfectly flush, on the one hand due to the camera falling out of my backpack onto the pavement and on the other hand because of systemic, almost daily use of the 70-200 zoom lens. Imperceptible damage to the rings resulted in less than perfect focusing, which is now remedied. This is a tribute to the robustness of Nikon’s professional bodies, which still function for months at a high level despite falling three feet onto concrete. That said, the lens to which the camera was attached at that time was smashed beyond repair.

 

Optimisation

 

Given the environmental and technical precedents, capturing the image was enabled by the in-depth capacities of this body-lens combination to compensate for night-time conditions and the absence of a tripod to stabilize a longer-exposure. The processes were:

 

  • Stabilisation of the camera and lens against a lamppost

 

  • Reliance on assistance from vibration reduction, as a second layer of focus protection

 

  • Making a balanced choice between ISO, aperture and speed settings to obtain a reasonably final quality of image. In this case an ISO of 1600 and an aperture of f5.6 resulted in a speed of 1/10 second


 

  • Maxing out the “reach” of the zoom to 200mm, to bring the building as close as possible, while remaining far away enough to keep it flat to the plane of the sensor and avoid distortion


 

  • Benefitting from the large size of the D800 sensor (36 million pixels file) to make a deep crop of the original image

 

  • Using Nikon Capture NX2 processing software to reduce noise visible in the night sky

 

  • Sharpening aggressively

 

Aesthetics

 

All of the above facilitated an artistic choice of which section of the building to choose, which would provide both a pleasing composition, as well as focusing tightly on the light and architectural patterns and shapes that attracted my initial interest.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 200 mm

Vibration reduction: On

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/10s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -1.3

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 1600

Hand Held, steadied on lamp post

 

A happy 2015 to you all. Please feel free to share your comments on any of the images on my site.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Fine Art Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2015/1/in-the-palace-of-the-ice-queen Fri, 02 Jan 2015 11:12:15 GMT
Abstract Water https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/abstract-water Looking deeply into the whirls and eddies of a pool of water can reveal strange sights.

Abstract WaterAbstract WaterCopyrighted Digital Photograph

Enlargement

 

I am always interested in photographing water and in the abstract forms hidden within otherwise banal sights. I photographed the ornamental pond at the bottom of the Parvis de la Defense in Paris, because I was attracted by the shapes and colours being created by a choppy wind. I used a fast speed to “stop” the movement of the water (by reducing aperture to 5.6 on a bright day), but at the time of image capture, my eyesight was unable to see the fine detail of the patterns being created on the surface.

 

In the “darkroom” I enlarged the scene to 100%, in order to correctly adjust the level of sharpening, particularly taking care to not overdo the sharpening and create excessive line delineations and/or artifacts. I was astounded to see fine linear patterns appear, revealing a beautifully detailed image of that frozen moment. At first I thought that my processing had created the effects because of over-sharpening, but I found that I had, in fact, just brought an ephemeral sight into existence, invisible to mortals, whose eyes and brains do not operate at 1/2000th of a second.

 

Crop

 

With that revelation, I abandoned a full view the image to concentrate on making a crop, which would both enlarge the linear patterns I had discovered and create a satisfying composition from the swirling waters.  In order to see the full effect of what I saw on my monitor, you might like to hit the magnify keys on your keyboard, in order to expand the image to full screen.  

 

Contrast

 

My final decision was to brighten the scene a touch and to add some contrast to provide a little more depth to the shallow swell of the water. You can see the original image below and the area from which the final image was taken in the centre and lower third of the frame.

 

Abstract Water OriginalAbstract Water OriginalCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 60mm f2.8G Prime

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/2000s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -0.7 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Hand held

 

Given my enjoyment of photographic abstraction, I surprise myself that I am not an enormous fan of modern art, largely ceasing to be interested in it from the period of the late Impressionists, so I hope that you will be indulgent and enjoy this mildly hypocritical artistic exercise on my part. Let me know what you think about it by leaving a comment or emailing me.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 60mm Prime AMDG Art Fine Art Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Nikon D800 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos abstract water φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/abstract-water Fri, 26 Dec 2014 21:09:49 GMT
American Xmas https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/american-xmas The newscasters are describing today’s “last minute” shopping frenzy on the last weekend before the Festival. Here is how it looked near Macy’s in New York a few years ago. 

 

American XmasAmerican Xmas

Street Photographers’ Paradise

 

As evidenced by the mass of coffee table photography books many of us possess, the Big Apple is a wonderful subject for street photography, traditionally in black and white, as per my homage to that genre today. The reasons are many, starting with the bustle, insouciance and tolerance, even love, of cameras shown by the citizens of the City That Never Sleeps. Also, in Winter, the silhouette effects caused by the slanting light cutting through clouds of steam created by food vendors (as in this case) or heating pipes buried in the much–damaged roads, create dramatic effects out of everyday situations.

 

Survival Of The Fittest

 

To survive, much less thrive in the streets of New York, one needs to be energetic, determined, impatient, self-centred, opinionated and, above all, to know where you are going. If not, you will be swept along helplessly in a stream of dynamic humanity heading for their own target destination at speed. Curiously, my own experience is that this potentially unpleasant social situation is managed with good humour and courtesy by a population that is also fun-loving and respectful. Despite all appearances, you are safe in these crowds and a helpful word is never far away, if you fear not to ask for it.

 

The destination in the case of this photograph is the Alladin’s Cave of Macy’s store, a place where the staff have as much chutzpah as the clients. Given my own personal preferences, I avow that I have avoided it during Saturnalia, preferring to browse in local Christmas markets for whatever cute new trinket has been Made in China.

 

Happy Christmas!

 

I used “Xmas” in the title, since it has the commercial, abbreviated connotation of the “Spend! Spend! Spend!”  concept of the image, but I finish by wishing you “Happy Christmas!”, since it is the more accurate “reason for the season”, as they say.

 

 

Technical

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm zoom f/3.5 G

Focal Length: 70 mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/11

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : O

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

May there be Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Mankind.

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) AMDG Art Fine Art New Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos York φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/american-xmas Sat, 20 Dec 2014 14:45:13 GMT
The Office https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/the-office  

 

The OfficeThe Office

 

Abandon Hope

 

I don’t aspire to doing social commentary or journalistic photography, but I can interpret the architectural and visual lessons of this image from personal experience, because I not only photographed there, but I actually worked there! Every time I set foot in this space, I felt the power of Dante Alighieri’s famous description of the inscription over the entrance to Hell: “Abandon Hope all ye who enter here”.

 

I will pull a veil over the name of the employer concerned, but suffice it to say that it was a corridor next to a bank dealing room in New York. Much of the ghastly, anorexic, aesthetic is due to the plunging lines of perspective down four planes of poorly lit, largely unvaried texture and colour, as well as the much-reduced headroom caused by several feet of computer and electrical cabling under the floor, servicing manic high-speed trading being pursued on the other side of the wall.

 

What does this do to you?

 

I sought to photograph what I felt and I was significantly assisted when someone walked into shot at the end of the corridor, dwarfed and pressed into insignificance by the power of the lines squeezing down on him. I was not keen to be berated for using a camera in a private space by the powers that be, or by the individual coming towards me, so I hurried to capture the moment, hand-held and without flash.

 

My aesthetic sensibilities were always screaming as I entered this corridor. My mind would spit invective at the person or persons unknown who chose the carpet, wall covering and ceiling tiles, as well as the disinterested or budget-obsessed administrators who thought that the yawning gap of taste might be alleviated by a few posters, which no doubt lauded the achievements or services provided by the esteemed institution in which we plied our trade. Frankly the style could only be characterized as “North Korean Secret Service Chic”. I came to the view that these choices could only be justified by an intent to create sensory deprivation and a drone-like attitude to work in the denizens of this area. Given that they were almost entirely computer engineers, perhaps this was indeed the idea?

 

All joking apart

 

Notwithstanding the tongue-in-cheek character of the preceding invective, I do find this a powerful architectural image and a lesson in environmental deprivation. The tonal uniformity, crushed space and paucity of decoration give increased power to the plunging lines of perspective and the dehumanizing effect on the human beings passing through.

 

I could add that the recreation and dining area for the staff in the adjacent noisy, crowded rooms was off this corridor space. I can imagine numerous ways in which the corridor could have given a moment of pleasure, restfulness for the eye and the encouragement to enjoy something to its users, as a counterweight to the stressful activities they were leaving behind them.

 

I should also add, out of respect for the whole truth, that this was an egregiously poor environmental example in an otherwise normal and reasonably pleasant enterprise space.

 

As a postscript, I can add that the said institution has now relocated. I trust that the errors of the past have been remedied in a more humane and energizing new space.

 

Technical

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm zoom f/3.5 G

Focal Length: 18 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/10s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : O

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

Would any of my many well-placed readers, with responsibilities for facilities and budgets, care to argue against my little critical outburst?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/the-office Thu, 11 Dec 2014 23:01:04 GMT
Centrifugal https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/centrifugal Its Christmas season again and La Grande Roue has been installed in the Place de la Concorde, ready for intrepid sightseers to climb into the swinging cabins and be gently swept into the night sky for a breathtaking view of Paris’ twinkling light show on the Champs Elysees…but, oh no…

 

CentrifugalCentrifugalCOPYRIGHT 2008 Paul Grayson AMDG

 

The Centrifuge Monster

 

…something is going wrong with the mechanism!! Instead of gently rolling into the night sky, the machine is speeding up, faster and faster, and innocent tourists are being thrust into the roof of their cabins, with only a few millimetres of aluminium saving them from being hurled into space and beyond the Peripherique.

 

The shocked photographer recording the scene drops his shutter release cable onto his tripod and reaches for his telephone to alert the authorities…or maybe not?

 

Reality Check

 

Perhaps this is just an example of a tripod-based night exposure? As an alternative to recording the scene in a “natural” mode, I decided to experiment with a high quality ISO and aperture combination (ISO 320 and f22), letting the speed be decided by the camera. This turned out to be 4 seconds, which was no problem, for either the moving or fixed elements of the scene, given the use of a heavy, carbon fibre tripod, further stabilized by my camera bag hanging from the hook on the centre-mounted ball head.

 

Pleasing Result

 

I was pleased with both the disconcerting visual impact and overall aesthetic of the photograph, given the resultant colours and spin patterns of the different moving structures. The combination of the time lapse and the movement diluted the otherwise garish impact of the fairground lighting on the wheel, creating softer blue and brown tones in the blur.

 

The ISO and aperture enhanced both the static objects and the quality of the inky black background, especially the latter, which might easily have suffered from excessive “noise”.

 

The cocoon effect of the crane-hung lighting on the upper mid-right of the image was a bonus surprise created by the time lapse, since the actual lighting structure was in four pieces, turning slowly.

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 70mm

VR: Off

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/22

Shutter Speed: 4s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -1EV

Bracketing:  None

Metering: Centre weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 320

Mounted on a Tripod

 

I hope that this image has a seasonal feel and adds to your Christmas decorative efforts. Enjoy!

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Art D300 Fine Art Nikon Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Paris Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/12/centrifugal Thu, 04 Dec 2014 23:38:02 GMT
A Reflection On The Night https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/11/a-reflection-on-the-night This photograph resulted from a reflex reaction, driven by my long-standing image-making interest in reflections, the night and abstracts. A Reflection On The NighA Reflection On The NighCOPYRIGHT 2008 Paul Grayson AMDG

 

Straggling

The Parvis of La Defense can often seem a lonely, even forbidding place at night, especially in the Winter when most people are comfortably snuggling in front of the TV at home. It is improved by the lighting and colours of the annual Christmas Village and the company provided by stragglers doing last minute shopping for presents.

 

I was making my own way home, walking away from the Grande Arche and the Village, when I saw them re-appear in front of me, distorted in a chrome, globe-shaped sculpture. I liked the combination of twisted shapes and colours framing the Arche, which I have photographed so often in its “pure” architectural look.

 

Skulking

One enjoyable challenge of reflection photography is either using the inevitability of your own presence in the image to tell the story, or, if this can be avoided, finding that particular angle of approach which delivers the desired scene, while hiding the photographer. This necessitates a M. Hulot-like dance around the object: crouching and standing up, bending and weaving, much like a cobra sizing up when to strike. As always the curious gaze of passers by need to be filtered out of consciousness, in order to concentrate on the desired objective.

 

Settings Choices

In extreme lighting conditions, there is always a compromise to be made with all or some of aperture, ISO and speed, in order to capture even a basically workable image. I felt able to avoid a more extreme ISO, largely because the target image was largely abstract and somewhat “fluid”, thereby reducing the need for best quality sharpness. Nevertheless, given that the speed and aperture were still very unforgiving for a hand-held capture, I was gratified at the result.

 

Because of the lighting conditions and ISO, the post processing was, of necessity, quite aggressive, in terms of sharpening, brightening, contrast and colour saturation. The result is nevertheless, not a pixel-manipulated view, but a relatively faithful snapshot of what marvels can be seen, if we only take the time to stop and look.

 

Technicals

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length:  125mm

VR: On

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/ 3.5

Shutter Speed: 1/13s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -1.3 OEV

Metering: Centre weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 1250

Hand held

 

The final result gave me pleasure, in its evocation of the magic of Christmas lights, the scuttling presence of the people huddled through the image and the friendly interest that the skyscraper “monsters” are showing, as they protectively bend over the scene.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

 

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) Fine Art La Defense Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom Nikon Capture NX2 Paul Grayson Photeinos φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/11/a-reflection-on-the-night Thu, 27 Nov 2014 23:41:27 GMT
Consider the lilies of the field... https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/11/consider-the-lilies-of-the-field And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Mt 6:28)

 

Consider the lilies of the field OriginalConsider the lilies of the field Original

Central Park Meditation

There are days which linger in the memory more than others and this one became fixed in my heart for its quiet beauty, as left a museum on the upper East side and strolled on a warm, windless, late Autumn day in Central Park. I was attracted by the stillness of the water, the reflections of the trees and the peace of lilies floating among fallen leaves, to photograph this moment. I then sat and pondered the why and wherefore of the beauty of things for a while, not knowing that I had another gift waiting for me, once I returned home.

 

Viewing it on screen, for some reason, the mirror-like stillness of the reflections and the tension of the water at the rim of the plants and in their centres reinforced my sense of the symbioses, balance and purposefulness of creation. The opened flower seemed to be the final element of satisfaction in a mysteriously beautiful process, while the bud pushing out of the water in the upper centre promised further wonder.

 

Tribute to Raw

This image required rather more post processing than would be appropriate for a well-exposed original because it was born in difficult circumstances, being hand-held at 1/15s on a lower-end camera body. Enter the post-processing machine, in this case Nikon Capture NX2.

 

I cropped it a little, to add some dynamic concentration on the lily pad and then experimented with the contrast, brightness and colour saturation until the image “popped” into natural colour and clarity. Because of the technical limitations, some noise reduction was also necessary, so in this case sharpening needed to be rather aggressive, due to the original slow speed and the impact of noise reduction.

 

The Original

Here is what I started out to develope.

 

Consider the lilies of the field OriginalConsider the lilies of the field Original

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm zoom f/3.5 G

Focal Length: 52mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/22

Shutter Speed: 1/15s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : +1 OEV

Metering: Centre weighted

ISO Sensitivity: 640

Hand held

 

I hope that the peace and the natural gift of beauty that this memory of a contented moment recorded in a sweet image works for you too. Theimage is for sale in the prints section of the website on  http://www.photeinos.com/p544507831#h949e7e0

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

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light@photeinos.com (Paul Grayson Photeinos.com) 6:28 AMDG Central Mathew New Nikon Nikon Capture NX2 Park Paul Grayson Photeinos York φωτεινος https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/11/consider-the-lilies-of-the-field Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:58:14 GMT
Surprised By Joy https://www.photeinos.com/blog/2014/11/surprised-by-joy  

When you have a sight like this…whatcha gonna do?

New York New YorkNew York New York

 

Seize The Time

 

One Summer evening in 2003, I returned to my 40th floor, north-facing apartment near Columbus Circle New York, as a massive electrical storm swept eastwards, about 5 kilometers away. Its southern edge seemed to be directly over the George Washington Bridge because there was no curtain of accompanying rain between me and it. It provided a heart-stopping, wonder-inducing spectacle that made me literally run to my camera equipment in order to seize the moment.

 

Happily, I had often experimented with night landscapes from this vantage point, so I was quite practiced in rapidly setting up my camera and tripod next to an open window.  (See also the blog entry “I Rise At Night” for  February 8, 2013)

 

Unhappily, I was not then photographically trained in capturing this kind of natural fireworks, which also deeply challenged me to rapidly figure out how to time the exposures in order to coincide with the flashes. It also deeply challenged my camera to cope with reconciling both brilliant flashes and the dark of the surrounding city.

 

Digital Experimentation

 

I was then using a Nikon D70, whose “first generation” capacity is laughably less capable  than my current “fourth generation” monster. Nevertheless, I owe my current joy in image-making to the freedom that this instrument gave me in terms of accelerated learning, due to the new opportunities offered by digital technology. Immediate, on-screen feedback of the images allowed me to juggle with the settings to find the most appropriate mix, in terms of portraying the scene in front of me.

 

Given the intensity of the storm and the amazing frequency of the lighting strikes, I learned that repeated exposures, each holding the aperture open for a few seconds, was time enough to coincide with several bolts of lightning. Equally, long exposures were needed to provide enough background light, given that I had “stopped down” the aperture to f11, in order to enable deep depth of field for a scene stretching kilometers in front of me, which was now hidden in a black-dark storm.

 

Since the camera was fixed on a tripod, all this was possible, with the added advantage that I could “shoot and scoot”, since I also had little interest in hovering near open, aluminium windows up on the 40th floor, as nature fired giant blows from Thor’s hammer all around.

 

Surprised By Joy

 

As I reviewed the results from time to time during the ensuing half-an-hour, I knew that some were spectacular, but the most rewarding time was still to come, when I could review and correct the images in post processing on my computer.

The one parameter that I could not “nail”, as I excitedly shot one image after the other, was the white balance. The lightning was incandescent energy flashing in a generally sodium lit city, all of which was covered from any natural light by dense cloud cover.

Happily, the answer to that problem is to shoot “raw”, which I always do. This produces image files which are the “native” format produced by the camera, in which is stored all the data captured in the moment of exposure. Not only are all the mechanical settings listed in “Technicals” below retained, but also all the original information striking the camera’s sensor i.e. the impact of the photons on the millions of individual pixel sites.

Working this way allows post processing to change the white balance which was set at the moment of exposure and to experiment with the effect of alternative approaches. This digital photographic development process is capable of rescuing images, which may have been captured with non-optimum settings, and to enhance other aspects of the image which require some treatment in order to reproduce the original scene, such as tones and sharpness. 

 

Technicals

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: VR 70-300mm zoom f/4-5.6D

Focal Length: 75mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Aperture: f/11

Shutter Speed: 3s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : +1 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 1000

Mounted on a Tripod

 

I was deeply moved by the beauty and power of creation as I experienced the moment. I hope that a little of this may be visible for you too, as I share part of my moment of joy with you.  

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014

 

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