Claydon Test

Sunday

Monday

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John – John Beardsworth

Instagram

For a few months I have been posting new pictures to Instagram. Maybe I am a bit late to the party and I am not sure what is going on, what I have to say, or whether anyone would be listening! But I am still alive, if anyone is wondering.

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John – John Beardsworth

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John – John Beardsworth

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2017 has been and gone

I knew I was struggling to keep the blog going, but I just realized that I hadn’t made a single “real” post in the whole of 2017! I am still alive, I do tweet, quite often, I still help people in forums, occasionally exchange harsh words too, and Facebook a little too, which I am told is a verb. But for some reason, I’m just not as communicative as I used to be!

Brooklands

I did in fact have a long post lined up, but just never got round to publishing it. It was about the Fuji X-T2 which I did get in September 2016, days after they released it, and it was going to be “3 months with the X-T2”, then it got pushed back to 6 months, then a year, and I still intend to unleash it on the world!

In short, the X-T2 wasn’t content to remain as a second camera to my Nikon D800 and pushed it aside for almost all types of photography. Mid way through 2017 I added the 100-400mm lens to my kit bag and while I still have my Nikon I barely paid any attention to its replacement the D850. I’m happy with the switch, if that is what it is, and all three of my favourite images from 2017 were shot on the X-T2.

The first picture here isn’t perfectly-sharp but I love the subject and the expression of the boy in the passenger seat. It reflects a bit of a change in my photography as I’ve slowly been getting into vintage motorsport since encountering the Vintage Sports Car Club 5-6 years ago in the Lake District. I’d only been to a few events, but in 2017 I “went for it”. This was at the old Brooklands circuit and I had no idea what this car was. Its shape is freakish, and the engine noise is like no car that I’ve ever heard. But in fact it it quite well known, a one-off special built in 1911 by FIAT to beat the land speed record, and it’s powered by an aircraft engine. Just watch this video if you want to know why it is named “The Beast of Turin”.

HastingsMy second favourite was taken in late October at the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. My re-enactment photography began in a small way 12 years ago when I had nothing to do one weekend and went to an event nearby. But as someone who studied history at university and who still reads academic works on the subject, I imagine it was always likely to attract my interest. I am still not a re-enactor and nothing would make me want to dress up and go into battle, yet as a photographic subject I still find it presents interesting challenges and enjoyment.

I often get my best shows away from the battle itself, either before when they’re lining up before entering the battlefield, or afterwards when they’re sweaty and knackered. So this picture was taken when the Norman army was beginning to assemble, and for a moment this French re-enactor gave me a look of such hostility. I don’t know whether he was playing up for me or was just annoyed at the big lens – this was on the 100-400 – being pointed in his face, but it’s the Norman version of Millwall’s “No-one likes us, we don’t care”.

Castle Crag
But my favourite picture of 2017 is, not surprisingly, from the Lake District. I was there a lot again – thanks to my brother and his wife – and got two particularly-great weeks in mid November.

This shot was taken using the 55-200mm late one afternoon from a spot just over Seatoller in Borrowdale. It’s not a scene I had ever noticed before but at that time of year the light falls beautifully along the line of the fells.

As so often with my longer-lens landscapes, I had been up there to photograph a different scene – Castle Crag itself. But isn’t that the beauty of photography? Planning is great, but reacting and improvising is so much more rewarding.

 

Author

I’ve written about 10 books on digital photography, the latest two published in 2014, but I didn’t begin as a photographer or even as a graphic artist. I had been a “spreadsheet warrior” and photography was just a hobby, but working for Heidelberg in the graphics industry I been familiar with Photoshop from about 1990. So while I loved darkroom printing, I also built up my digital skills with scanned negatives and slides, a “wet and dry” route. Then in 2003 I mentioned on my blog that I had just bought a Nikon D100, and this led to the opportunity to write the first of three books on digital B&W.

Advanced Digital Black and White Photography is probably my favourite. Partly that’s because I know it contained a few big firsts for books on the subject – Lightroom, Photoshop’s B&W panel, using SilverEfex, and smart object workflows. It’s still bang up to date.

Consultant

I have a murky past – as a spreadsheet warrior. Qualifying as a chartered accountant, I spent two decades before finding how I could program Excel and databases. Escaping into financial IT consulting, I was implementing big accounting systems, OLAP cubes and “business intelligence”. That background happens to be ideal for managing photos and the field of “digital asset management”, so I found myself improving clients’ Lightroom productivity and designing web sites (my own web site has been going since 1997) which integrate efficiently with their workflows. And after using it for 27 years, I do know Photoshop pretty well too.

I have moved all my newer Lightroom content over to my other web site, Lightroom Solutions.

#2016top3 3/3 – Grange Crags

Grange CragsThe third of my #2016top3 favourite images, a birch and bracken on Grange Crags, has in fact already been on the blog. It was from mid January and I like it so much because I remember how the scene was quite different when I first noticed it, but then developed exactly as I’d hoped.

I was actually on Grange Crags planning to take a wide angle view looking in exactly the opposite direction, across Derwentwater to Skiddaw. But while I was waiting I noticed a line of birches in the sun that contrasted against the trees in the shadow of Grange Fell. There was one birch that I could isolate – I like compositions involving negative space – but I just didn’t like how the entire foreground was in sunlight. Things only came together when the sun began to set and I noticed a shadow moving up the bracken. From then on it was a matter of waiting and hoping the shadow would continue in that direction, almost exactly parallel to the slope.

I liked the photo so much that I posted about it earlier in the year, but I never got round to posting the photograph I had actually intended to take that afternoon. So here it is, taken almost an hour after the picture of the birch.

Grange Crags

Sunset over Skiddaw and Derwentwater from Grange Crags