Friday, 23 October 2009

Image of the Week (Month) - Bedruthan Steps

After finally emerging from my Digital Asset Management Hell earlier this week I got back to work preparing images from the summer and came across this dusk picture from Bedruthan Steps.


Bedruthan Steps is a small beach on the North Cornwall coast near Newquay with a row of sea stacks across it's length. I believe the name is a reference to a giant called Bedruthan who was said to have once lived here, the stacks being his steps to the sea, or something like that.

On this day the low tide occurred almost exactly the same time as sunset. I spent about an hour before sunset watching the retreating tide looking for a picture. I found two. The first I made just before sunset and the second was to be at that magical time around 20 to 30 minutes after sunset when the sky turns pink. The idea was to capture the colour of the sky reflected in the wet sand left behind by the tide and that large rock you see centre frame was to be my foreground. That was the plan anyway.

I had neglected to consider how much the turning tide would shift soon after sunset and I found myself ankle deep in water on what quickly became quicksand. With a rapidly listing tripod I had to retreat. Having moved back several yards, I ended up with the stack to my right (now a black blob) in the frame. I wanted the brightest part of the sky centre frame so panning left wasn't an option. Moving the whole camera to the left proved tricky too as I was on an island of firm sand that was surrounded by more of that quicksand and the tripod would not stay still anywhere else. Then I am sure a light bulb appeared over my head. "Square" I thought.

So knowing I would crop away the sides I made my second exposure of the evening complete with one of Bedruthan's steps in the far right of the frame. I had just enough time for a third exposure so I turned the back round for a vertical version but the first square crop turned out to be by far the superior.

Digital Asset Management Hell

I'm beginning to think I should start to rename my "Image of the Week" to "Image of the Month" given the recent frequency of my postings. It's amazing where the time goes and almost as soon as this month had started I find myself about to enter it's last week.

I have good reason to have missed most of the month and from the experience gained over the last 3 weeks I would like to propose two new rules for photographers.

1. Never ever change your Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, no matter how wonderful those shiny new features might seem.
2. Under no circumstances ever ignore rule one.

As the saying goes the grass is never greener the other side, or rather there's a huge great big minefield between your pasture and the greener one next door. I'm not quite there yet, but the sounds of battle are receding, for the moment at least.

I'm not going to name systems because that would be unfair. Both are fine products, but system B had a few features I desired that system A didn't and from my initial tests B performed faster too. So I chose to move from system A to system B only to discover the migration process is unbearably slow and tedious (almost 2 weeks to import all my images and catalogue data with constant nursing along the way). A system crash part way through didn't help.

Learning a new interface is painful and discovering I preferred how system A did a number of my common tasks didn't make me feel any better about the last 3 weeks. Yes I did test it first, but I didn't realise how much I preferred the old way until now. I'm sure come Christmas I'll look back and laugh. Ho, ho, ho!

Consequently a number of planned trips haven't happened although I have managed a few excursions to more local areas such as Wells, Bristol and Exmoor. I had an opportunity to test my raincoat's waterproof qualities in Exmoor during a heavy downpour that started from the very moment I'd finished setting up my view camera and lasted until it went dark 2 hours later. I didn't get my picture but I was outside and that's all that mattered!

Still, I am at last able to resume work on my scans and make progress on my backlog and I'm off to the Lake District at the weekend for a welcome change of scene (more wet weather according to the Met Office - must test my umbrella rig for the tripod today).

My copy of Windows 7 arrived on my desk yesterday. I could install it today before I leave for the lakes. Will I heck. I've had enough of computers so I'm locking it in my drawer and there it may forever stay. So what if I can't print to my colour printer from Windows XP.....

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Take a View - Landscape Photographer of the Year 2009 Update

Well the results are out and one of my two short listed images has been Commended by the judges and awarded a place in the awards book. It will also be displayed as an exhibition print at London's National Theatre between 5th December 2009 and 24th January 2010.


Of course this isn't the image I'd specifically made for the competition but I'm not complaining. As it happens the image they didn't select from my two short listed images was my first take of Trevose Head which I knew was flawed. I wonder how my second take of Trevose Head would have faired?

The awards book is due out on 31st October this year. It's sure to contain many wonderful images as have previous years editions so if you are looking for something to ask for Christmas....