Tuesday, 23 May 2017

'Good light'?

If you read enough photography magazines or watch enough photography YouTube videos on landscape photography you'll inevitably hear you should shoot in the hour after dawn and the hour before sunset. Some go further and dismiss shooting landscapes at any other time of day. Remember when you were told there are 'rules' in photography that you're supposed to follow and then someone tells you, 'actually, it's fine to break the rules', same applies to this idea about only shooting landscapes in the first and last hour of the daylight. If the sky is clear, sure, the first and last hour of direct sunlight will be the softest and warmest and we generally find that to be flattering and spiritually warming but what if you ignore the beautiful landscape spread out before you because it's two hours before sunset only for cloud to build on the western horizon and that beautiful warm light is gone before that precious one hour window you've been told is the only worthwhile time to shoot? Don't be bound by rules! Use your imagination. Engage your creativity. You can plan all you like to get to a location with all the kit you'd ever need only for the weather or life to scupper your plans. Roll with the punches and make the best of the situation. Is it disappointing to not be shooting what you had planned? Hell yeah, but it'd be more disappointing to not get anything because you threw all the kit back on the car and left when the plans got ripped up. Evolution shows us the success of a species is dependant on adaptation and we want that same success for our photography.

I left home with a largely blue sky, an hour later it looked like this (see above). We all know where this was going. Two hours later it was as expected (see below).
Virtually featureless pale grey/white sky. Was it still good for my architectural abstracts? Sure, it wasn't ideal, and certainly, little to no point in including much, if any, sky in the images, but that leaves the immense range of textures and patterns to be captured, some of which maybe be better in soft light than more contrasty direct lighting.When it started raining, I continued to shoot, though the rain on the lens did make for some otherwise unnecessary retouching work. Eventually though, I sought shelter inside and continued to shoot abstracts and textures.

The patina of the above panels might not have recorded so cleanly in bright conditions with reflections muddying the look of the surface.

The retouched images will be added to the Limited Edition gallery over the next few weeks as they're retouched, the texture shots will either be made available on the Open Edition gallery or as a texture pack download.
Rounded off the day with some creative inspiration taking in both the Tate Modern extension and the FIXPhoto Exhibition at the OXO Tower Bargehouse and even spoke briefly to it's curator, Laura Noble. A productive day, despite the highly changeable weather.
Check out the facebook page, show it some love and share the hell out of it please ;) : https://www.facebook.com/NickCroninArtist/ and the gallery page on my site: http://folio-21.com/artGallery.html

Thursday, 23 March 2017


Just because we can, should we?
The answer is, as ever, not clear cut and definitive, it's art, it's subjective, it's up to you where you draw the line.
We live in an increasingly enhanced world whether that's virtual reality overlaid into real life through a headset or on a phone screen or silicone implants for all manner of body sculpting, so why should an image of an architectural subject not be subject to the same?
 That answer is at least a little more straightforward. If the image is essentially shot to document the building's existence it should be a fairly straight shot, maybe adjusting for perspective distortion, with the usual tweaks to contrast and colour as necessary but if the purpose is as art, the world is your oyster. Inject the scene with whatever you like, stimulate discussion about the subject, your choice of colour, overlay images/textures and a thousand and one other options. Do not let the subject constrain your imagination. Will everyone love your image on Instagram? WHO FREAKIN CARES???? The answer is no, of course not. Dare to stand by your creative decisions because YOU liked them. If the image you create only brings you joy, it was worth it, but in all likelihood someone else will too, so that's a bonus.
You've hopefully looked over my galleries by now and seen my love of pattern and texture and, for the most part, those images are cleaned up and tweaks made to colour and contrast but in amongst the Abstracts I'll be adding this:
Yeah it's a wall, don't know it's essentially a deep profile clay tile or actually a brick but the dappled oblique light on it was great and injecting the vibrant colour makes for a strong splash of colour in a modern home. See how the dappled light has effectively broken up the pattern of the tiles? Well I like it! For the more conservative among you, I've also worked up a black and white version that wallows in the shadows.
As I've told you before, explore your options, I've also created an enhanced version of straight image that shows the blue in the dappled leaf shadows in contrast to the warmth of the direct illumination.
With that, I wish you all a safe week with Spring finally here and the new F1 season upon us. Check out my galleries if you've not done so, both Limited Edition, for those investment pieces, and Open Edition for those beautiful decorative images (which make much better gifts than yet another Easter egg).   ;)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Patience, persistence and planning.

Yup, boring as it may seem. Those are three key attributes for success. For architectural photography it helps to know the time of day and light quality you want for the shot you've planned and that's a combination of creative vision and either a recon or hitting the maps to find the time of day for the light you're after. Despite that, you're constantly at the mercy of the weather and the regularly 'partially cloudy' or 'mostly cloudy' weather forecast doesn't entirely rule in or out a beautiful photo opportunity so it pays to be flexible. Be prepared to scrub the shoot at the last minute or grab your kit and go, likewise, when you're on the ground, be prepared to stay there for a good while. Don't just sit there, explore the locale but be prepared to get back to your target quickly, the clouds could part for 60 seconds to give you that shot then it's gone for the rest of the day. If you happen to live somewhere with a more stable weather pattern you might not have that grief but equally you might not get the opportunity to shoot in weather conditions that could give a sense of 2-3 seasons in one day.
  Also on the patience point, we all know that there are definitely areas you should be careful about hauling out your expensive camera kit but don't be too quick to write anywhere off. On a recent trip over to West Croydon, yes, Croydon!, I got some images of a new striking building. Lot's of colour and geometry, pity about the couple of ropes still hanging from the very top all the way down to the ground whilst the finishing touches are being made.

See! Not sure if the red panels are supposed to look like flames licking up the building facade as some sort of a nod to the fires set during the riots some years ago. Not something I'd expect to be immortalised in the building design for sure, but what a beautiful addition to Croydon's frequently grey skyline.
The building sector is in a near constant state of flux so keep an eye out for new buildings going up but also old buildings coming down, providing new, cleaner aspects on other buildings.
Think you've exhausted all the opportunities in your local area, (really?) then find a bus route that takes you off to unfamiliar ground, start researching the area with Google and take the time to get over the there for a recce. Scoping the area doesn't require the best weather but take a camera, just in case, it'll allow you to document likely subjects even if the light's poor, better still if you can geotag your images. On the off-chance any camera manufacturers read this, it's time any camera costing over £500 had GPS built-in, not 'available with an optional (over-priced) accessory'.
On the subject of weather, we've had a few delightfully Spring-like days but it's still February and a storm is imminent so be prepared, dramatic weather can be very picturesque even without a beautiful building in shot. Proof of which was a top 12% (?) place for my image of a heavy fog in an open woodland on microstock site Twenty20: www.twenty20.com/challenges/backgrounds
Until next time folks, don't get blown away by Storm Doris (proof the public should not be naming storms or anything else) and get out there shooting. Better weather means less excuses to not get regular exercise and pictures.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Meanwhile, back in London.

Americans, for all the anti-British rhetoric about 'colonial times', largely view Britain and, particularly, London, as cool? For a country of largely temperate climate, this past week has not been just cool but freakin ass freezin cold. Off I headed, walking almost immediately past a bus stop with a woman and her 2 sub 5 yr. olds all brandishing placards. Curious start to the day (didn't realise that was the universe giving me a 'heads up' at this point). Not content with walking around London's streets funnelling the icy breeze, off I went to 'Little Venice'. Where the wind was stronger, whipping across the open stretches of water. Despite wearing 5 layers, the contortions of this photographer in search of the 'perfect composition' apparently made it easy for the wind to search out bare skin. Suffice to say, I need to find clothing longer in the body because I will not become a fair weather or indoor photographer. NOT HAPPENING!
On the plus side, the research I'd done to select this location proved accurate and the briefest of recces following the SWPP convention around the corner the previous week had confirmed it as a likely subject. The glorious blue sky and sunshine beckoned and the architecture, although somewhat polluted by the human factor, looked majestic.
 Many of my architectural images are graphic and I love them in black and white, but in such weather conditions I was out for colour impact at every turn. London did not let me down. Not for subjects anyway, more on that later.
SEE, graphic. Colour pop. As usual this is just a crop from the finished image which will soon appear on the limited edition gallery on my website. If you've not had a look yet, please get on over there, drop a like, share etc, you know the routine.
 As I've said before, don't be limited by your research, walk that extra few metres/half mile, or whatever if you sense there might be something worthy of a closer look. I did just that on this visit and it allowed me to get a slim side view of a building with a significant percentage of the light coming from below (a large clear area of train tracks). Nearly four hours later, as a result of stopping frequently to take pictures I wasn't getting the warming benefit of walking so I was cold, realll coldddd, but that nagging little voice had ensured I'd explored the target buildings and a few others for interesting compositions whilst I was there and not just thrown in the towel or headed for a coffee shop. So that was enough, the sun was already low, took a few more images of the targeted subjects as I left Little Venice now the light had swung round and repacked the backpack for the walk over to Regent Street. Edgeware Road was at a near standstill and beyond. The annoying drone of the police helicopter and occasional woman with a placard suggested there was a demo somewhere near but arriving at the bus stop I was greeted by the familiar long queue of people awaiting a bus, this after having walked past complete gridlock at Marble Arch and Oxford Street lead me to the conclusion it was time to walk, at least in the direction of home in case the buses were getting turned early to avoid the demo route. Half an hour later I'd walked through the demo twice, not seen any sign of my bus running in either direction but I had reached the river again, by a crazy route, and took advantage of the opportunity to get a picture of The London Eye for stock before continuing my walk towards Waterloo, the most obvious point at which to turn buses around. Typically for my bus excursions of late I once again had a bus pass me as I walked between stops and yet again I was forced to run for it with all the camera gear on my back. Finally I was able to sit down and have some of the coffee I'd been carrying around with me all day. Definitely could feel the affect of not having eaten for the past 6 hrs but satisfied with the images and keen to get to work on the retouching, the nagging question remained, 'How do I get the art images out there?', in front of art people, marketed, dare I say it, SOLD! Well I'm still working on that one, but they're on my website, some are on SaatchiArt website and very soon my Patreon will go live and I'll reveal on there and here my plans, both short and long term. until then here are another couple of images from the day.
Remember, go check the gallery.