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Lockdown Photography: Weeks 5 & 6

25-04-2020 to 08-05-2020

Photos taken in Falmouth during my final weeks of lockdown...

I'm sounding a bit like a broken record now... I've said it in every blog over the last few weeks, but I've struggled more & more to motivate myself to get up for sunrise to head out with the camera. Sunrise is my favourite time of day to shoot. So if I miss it, I'd be going out knowing I could have missed the best light and conditions.

The lack of motivation is probably partly due to uninspiring weather with overcast, flat light (although it's often worth a gamble as the forecasts are often wrong), but I think it's mostly due to the travel restrictions. And possibly the monotony of lockdown stifling my desire to create!

In my first lockdown blog (Lockdown Photography: Week 1) I mentioned that these travel restrictions lifted the weight of researching and picking a location the night before a morning shoot. But these same restrictions have now left me bored.

I'm always hopeful for that epic shot - but, as nice as it is, the Falmouth & Penryn area just doesn't have that appeal for me. I'd love to head up to the north coast or far west to catch some sunset light - or the lizard peninsula at either end of the day - or even the moors. But that's just not feasible under lockdown. Also, regardless of the photography, I think I just miss getting out and going further afield.

With this impact on my enthusiasm, when I do go out shooting, I sometimes feel that I'm just going through the motions and not trying hard enough - often coming back with nothing to show for a 2-3 hour walk (other than lungs full of fresh air - which isn't a bad thing of course!). To be honest though, I often feel a little downbeat when going through a photography dry spell - it's a battle I constantly have, until I take the next decent photo!

This won't be a problem for me soon though, as I'm due to come out of furlough and start work again in the middle of next week. No doubt I'll soon be wishing I had all this free time back to go out shooting!

Realistically though, I'm looking forward for lockdown to be lifted (when it's safe to do so) and I can once again nip around west Cornwall with my camera (and of course see my friends & family!)

Before I get back to work, here are my last lockdown photos, from weeks 5 & 6...


Constantine Woods

B L U E B E L L - S P O T L I G H T As I walked through Bosahan Woods, Constantine, I turned around and noticed a patch of bluebells glowing in a spotlight - as diffused sunlight through an overcast sky filtered through a gap in the canopy.

The composition is pretty straight forward - I used dominant trees each side to frame the image. But this shot was really all about the light. I exposed for the patch of light, which threw the rest of image into shadow. A polarising filter reduced glare from the leaves. In post processing, I colour graded to desaturate and darken the greens for a moodier feel. Colour grading is something I've been trying to get my head round over the last few weeks. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 75mm | ƒ/11 | 1/2 sec | ISO 200 | Tripod | Polarising Filter | Taken 04-05-2020 at Bosahan Woods, Constantine


F A L L E N With the hope that some of the mist forecast overnight would linger in a local wood until sunrise, my alarm was set to get me up at 5am. Yeah... that didn't happen! The hope for mist was just that, hope. And with an overcast morning forecast I knew I the light would be pretty much unchanging for a few hours. So I had a lie-in until 6.30! I'm not a fan of "popping greens" in spring woodland photography - yet I've found it tricky to control. While I've been furloughed, I've been steadily learning more about colour grading. A YouTube video by Nemanja Sekulic helped me with the principles of colour grading to darken & desaturate Spring woodland images. This composition takes the eye down the trunk of a fallen tree. The foreground has a smattering of bluebells for a splash of colour. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 46mm | ƒ/11 | 1/5 sec | ISO 400 | Tripod | Polarising Filter | Taken 04-05-2020 at Bosahan Woods, Constantine

**Colour grading on this image isn't quite where I want it to be - hopefully it will come with practice!**


Maenporth Beach

I've been to Maenporth beach a few times in the last two weeks - with varying success.

Successes (loosely speaking!):

On the first visit (second picture), low cloud snuffed out the sunrise but I still managed to come away with something. On the second visit (below), conditions were amazing, with pastel colours at dawn.


The less said about the third visit the better! - The sunrise was pretty decent, but I battled with rain on my lens and came away with nothing! On each visit, I also popped up the road to Mawnan Glebe Woods behind Mawnan Church. These woods have some old characterful trees - but I didn't once get a decent shot! This could be due to the steep gradient of the bank down to the cliffs. I couldn't really walk amongst the trees to find the right composition - as I'd almost certainly tumble down the bank and off the cliff!


M A E N P O R T H - D A W N Maenporth Beach is a difficult one for me. Conditions on this visit were amazing - with great light and wispy clouds. But the beach is devoid of features for focal points such as Holywell Bay's iconic Carters Rocks. There's not even any large stones that tend to form puddles around them as the tide goes out. No sand dunes. Nothing! So that's what I shot! I composed this photo to show the emptiness of the beach. I intentionally included the headlands to either side of the frame to give some indication of where it is. There were though, some patterns in the sand left by the receding tide. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 28mm | ƒ/11 | 0.8 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | Grad ND filter | Taken 02-05-2020 at Maenporth, Falmouth


M A E N P O R T H - R U S H A two minute exposure at Maenporth Beach. As I've mentioned above, I find it hard to pick out a focal point there. So I've gone for a minimalist type image. The long exposure adds interest to the sky as it streaks the clouds. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 30mm | ƒ/16 | 120 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | 10 Stop ND & Grad ND filters | Taken 01-05-2020 at Maenporth, Falmouth


Falmouth seafront

C R A Z Y - N I G H T Before heading out for an evening walk, I racked my brains for a location to shoot the setting sun (or more specifically, it's afterglow) locally. After checking my TPE (The Photographer's Ephemeris) and weather apps, I eventually dreamt up this image overlooking Swanpool from the crazy golf course. I needed a pretty clear sky for the afterglow. Thankfully the clouds parted just as the sun set. Another bonus, was that after I'd finished shooting and was putting my gear in my car, I heard a voice shout - "I hope that's essential travel!" It was my friend, Mike. We chatted (at a safe distance) for around 20 minutes. After we said goodbye, I looked up and the light had improved massively. By now it was half-an-hour after sunset. The sky was more colourful and darker - more equal in tone to the foreground. I whipped the camera back out and took this one last exposure. So, thanks Mike!

Still, the shot wasn't quite what I hoped for. More colour in the sky and reflections after some rain might have helped lift it. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/11 | 20 sec | ISO 200 | Tripod | Grad ND filter | Taken 26-04-2020 at Swanpool, Falmouth


L I Z R I X The "LIZRIX" Oil Tanker moored in Falmouth Bay. Call Sign: 2ATQ8 Flag: United Kingdom [GB] Gross Tonnage: 1343 Summer DWT: 1942 t Length Overall x Breadth Extreme: 76.47 x 10.6 m Year Built: 2008 Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 105mm | ƒ/11 | 4 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | No filters | Taken 27-04-2020 at Falmouth


ICM (Intentional Camera Movement)

With cloudy, overcast weather coming in for a few days, I decided to start a little "ICM" photography project - as straight shots in "flat light" can be a little... well, dull!

I love the work of Andrew S Gray, which inspires me to try it myself. But this type of photography is very much love-it-or-hate-it. And those who hate it don't mind telling me! Positive comments always outweigh the negative ones in number, but it's the negativity that sits resonates in mind louder and longer. Maybe that's why I ended this little project after processing only three photos and posting just two.

Anyway, here are the three images I've made. No doubt I'll try some more in future...


L I T T L E - D E N N I S - [ICM] For this shot of "Little Dennis Castle," I attached a 10 stop ND filter for a 5 second exposure. Once I clicked the shutter, I juddered then rotated the camera to introduced some blurred movement. From dozens of attempts, this was my favourite. You can just about see that it's a castle, but it's blurred enough to be abstract. To finish it off, I dropped in the figure of a man fishing from another less blurry attempt. I colourised the image in Photoshop with split toning - trying a few variants before settling on this pinky-orange / blue combo. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/4 | 5 sec | ISO 100 | Handheld | 10 stop ND filter | Taken 267-04-2020 at Pendennis Point, Falmouth


G Y L L Y - G H O S T - [ICM] The ghostly figure of one Falmouth's seafront shelters. Heavy rain kept me from going our early in the morning, so I headed out with the camera at mid-day. With uninspiring noon light, I tried using ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) to inject mood and mystery. I've tried "straight shots" of this shelter in the past - conceding that I really need a lens with a slightly shorter focal length. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/5.6 | 4 sec | ISO 100 | Handheld | 10 stop ND filter | Taken 29-04-2020 at Gyllyngvase, Falmouth


G Y L L Y - C H A P E L - [ICM]

This is the image that I opted not to share on social media. It's probably not quite as good as the first two in that's less defined. When taking these photos, I tend to look for strong recognisable shapes in high contrast with their surroundings.

Should I have shared it? Please let me know!


Well, I guess that rounds off my final full week of lockdown!

In a weird way, I'm looking forward to getting back to work - and more so the normality once lonckdown is lifted. Hopefully then, I'll start enjoying my photography more (and start getting better results)...

For now, stay safe, and stay sane! :)

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