Italy – Coreglia Antelminelli

We stayed in (or really just outside) the village/town of Coreglia Antelminelli. As with all places in Italy it has a long history, and is, apparently, famed for its plaster statues. I was personally more interested in its narrow streets and views of the surrounding countryside.

Everywhere we visited in Italy had a pedestrianised centre – and I don’t just mean one street of shops. The cobbled roads there are just not big enough for cars in most places, having been built long before Mr. Ford came along, and so by default cannot take any traffic. Although it is just when you come to enjoy this relative peace and freedom that you can bet you’ll be mowed down by a cyclist or someone in an ‘Ape’. However, these narrow roads make for great perspective photos, although you do have to rely on a wide angle lens for the most part, and it can also mean balancing the light levels is tricky, especially in bright sunshine.

Av, 55mm, 1/80 sec, f/14, ISO 100
As you can see, our first few days were quite overcast

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Borough Market, again

I find myself in the fortunate position of not only working nearby several interesting and photogenic locations, but also photography being a small element of my job. This has been a relatively recent development, and the kind of photos being taken for work are not exactly exciting. But as part of providing such a service, those of us who are involved occasionally take the opportunity to get out and about with our cameras on photographic field trips. It is, I imagine, a little like what being a member of a photo club must be like.









We visited Borough Market last week, on another one of those special flat, grey days that Britain is so good at, justifying it amongst ourselves as being great even light that brings out colour. Which it is. And just as well, because as I’d already realised in my previous brief visit, the market is awash with all sorts of colours.

The first photo was an accidental overexposure when the camera metered to the darker, down-facing side of the red flower and so blew out the background. However, I find myself liking this a lot, not least for the slight hint of backlighting on some of the petals.

This actually serves to introduce a problem we all noticed we were sharing as we progressed, which was the strange over-saturation of reds in certain lights. Tomatoes and chillis in particular showed this up. It seems this may have been a result of the fluorescent lighting, competing with daylight, and in turn the cameras also trying to meter to the dark reds. In my case, I have tweaked the red hue level in Lightroom to bring down the glare a little.

Between us all, we opted for a range of different lenses, however I was a combination of boring and lazy and stuck to the 70-300mm zoom for the duration. My previous visit had been using the 18-55mm so I wanted to experiment a bit more with some food porn photography.

This was the sweet section, obviously. And I haven’t even included the ‘Uber Brownies’ – how on earth we made it around without actually buying anything, I’m not sure I’ll ever know. Then there was the savoury section, which may have been even more tempting, if this was possible. Our rumbling stomachs aside, there were lots of interesting photographic possibilities with bread (which was stacked artistically on nearly every stall) and olives and cheeses. I was quite glad of the zoom at this stage, as the lunchtime crowds began to approach and so you couldn’t always get a good position.

I still think the sharpness of this lens is quite something, it’s taken a while to adjust to using the auto focus and I’m still learning how to get the most of the sharpness by switching to manual focus. This was something that I got a fair bit of practice on during this trip, as the lens has a 1.5m focussing distance which meant from time to time that the AF refused to play. It seemed though that if I was on the 1.5m cusp, AF wouldn’t work but I could still get good photos on manual, as in the images below:

That lobster – which was alive, by the way – is one of my favourites from this set.

As a group, all using Canons, we observed another possible tendency which was for the AF to default to the left third of any view, and switching to Manual focus seems to be the quickest way of getting the actual photo you want. This is something I’ll be making a strong mental note about, as with this lens the focussing ring is always operable and in a fairly practical and logical location compared to some I’ve seen on Canon lenses.

In post-processing this batch I toyed some more with mono, as the lighting wasn’t spectacular and some photos weren’t leaping with colour. This time I went with the simple switch to black and white in Lightroom and then for most I adjusted the tone curve for medium contrast. I love contrast. I’m not sure how it appears to others, but I think a good b&w image needs the difference in light.

The obvious photographic draw on this trip was the food, but I made the odd attempt to recognise the presence of those working there. My default position when it comes to people in photos – aside from portraits, obviously – is that they get in the way and ruin things. Not really a good attitude to take, and something I’m trying to shout down, because there are a lot of interesting photos to be taken of the general public who don’t always realise they’re being photographed.

I particularly like in the middle photo that you can see the reflection of the customers in te glasses of the lady serving. And in the bottom photo, going mono did a great job for eliminating the enormously distracting FISH! logo, which was bright orange in colour and made the whole photo look cluttered.

Those final images have no real connection, other than I like them, and on that note I shall leave this post here as I now have to have some lunch or I will try to eat the computer screen.

February freeze

It may have escaped your notice, depending on where you live, but we had quite a lot of snow last week. The biggest fall was considerate enough to drop over the course of Saturday evening and night, which meant that everyone was able to enjoy their Sunday in the snow before they had to start being really annoyed with it.

These photos are all from a wander over to the nearby Abington Park, which had a good balance of people enjoying themselves and big empty vistas (well, as big as you get in a town). The trees all looked stunning with the snowfall effectively highlighting each branch.

The photo above may be my favourite from this set – mostly because of the child on the bench – being able to see the trail made as the snowman was rolled into shape gives a nice perspective I think.

There were two challenges to this trip out with the camera. Firstly, well, the snow. It does funny things to the light, all that whiteness, and it did seem to result in the interesting monochrome appearance of a lot of photos I took. And the fact the sky wasn’t the typical bright blue but flat white as well did mean everything was basically two tones. I actually did try converting a couple to black and white, but decided I liked them more in their original form.

The other challenge was that I kept seeing images that were much more suited to a telephoto lens – which I didn’t have yet. I basically had the wrong eyes on. It was quite frustrating. However, this is to say nothing against the 18-55 I did have. It was perfect for a couple of shots that my husband wasn’t able to get properly with his telephoto. See, this is what marriage is all about.

The sun tried to struggle out at one stage.

It was only when I was running some basic tweaks on the images through Photoshop afterwards that I remembered that I’d left the camera set to underexpose by about half a stop, so some of the darkness of the photos may not be because the light was strange so much as user error. We’d probably be able to tell more if I had Lightroom sorted, but I didn’t in time for this batch. I’ve also failed to watermark the last few rounds of photos, again because my workflow isn’t yet sorted and also because I need to address licensing issues and start uploading to Flickr again. Fellow photographers: do you resize for Flickr? I’ve been resizing and uploading here on WordPress but I’m not sure what’s best to do elsewhere.

Anyway, I leave you with the slightest hint of some urban decay photography. If woodland and lakes count as urban. And if a trolley and some bent railings count as decay.

Clearly some work still to be done on that front…