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Monday, August 4

Singular Image: Baxter Park

This is a photograph from the same roll of film as the night shots I posted about last Monday. Baxter Park is a centrally-located park that was gifted to my home town of Dundee back in 1863 by a rich mill owning family called Baxter. It was laid out by the famous Sir Joseph Paxton who designed the even more famous Crystal Palace in London.

I'd gone there to finish the roll which had about four shots left on it. I'd dropped Cath off in town and had about an hour to kill. I couldn't think of anything to photograph so went to Baxter Park to have another go at Phil Rogers-style window reflections in a glass pavilion in the park.

The only reflection I liked was this one which must be either a prominent member of the Baxter family or perhaps old Paxton himself looking out over his creation:

But anyway, this occasional feature is supposed to be about a singular image so best to get on with the story. I had the OM2 with me along with a 50mm f1.8 "Made in Japan" Zuiko. For those of you who aren't geeks, the "MIJ" version of the standard lens is supposed to be superior to all the earlier standards. I can't see the difference. The film was Adox CHS 100 II rated at the box speed of 100 ISO and the developer was HRX, my regular combination.

I was on the way back to the car with two shots remaining on the roll when I saw the big canopy of the backlit tree almost silhouetted against the old tenement buildings. I took two pics, one with detail in the tree trunk and one with it more or less in shadow, exposing for the background. I preferred the one with the detail which is at the top of the page.

It was a really hot day (for Scotland) and there was a slight heat haze apparent. You can see that in the tones in the street behind the tree. The sun is shining almost directly down the street. There's a nice 3D effect to it - or maybe I should perpetuate the myth and put that down to the MIJ Zuiko? I'm not an FFF (full frame fetishist) but I do try whenever possible to compose the scene within the confines of the 35mm frame so this one is uncropped. The one thing I wanted to ensure was to put the tree trunk against the lightest part of the background so it would stand out. I thought about putting it equidistant between the small tree to the left and the tenement to the right but decided against it. Sometimes photographs can be too balanced.

There are some photos that stand out when you see them and others that sort of gradually worm their way into your affections. This pic is one of the latter ones for me - the quiet type as I think of them. I've picked a couple like that for the Singular Image series so I must be developing a preference for this type of photo.


Folker Neumann said...


I love the first one!
I agree it has something three-dimensional and wonderful tonality.
HRX really is a fine developer.

Stefan Eisele said...

I do love the first picture as well - and still enjoy your posts a lot, even if I didn't comment much lately :).

Best, Stefan

David M said...

I really like this. Just the right amount of shadow detail in the big tree. At first, when you see the image, it looks like a silhouette, but when you look closer, the detail emerges, in almost exactly the way that the eye works in the real (as photographers call it) world. If the tree had been a featureless black cutout, then instead of coming forward, as it does, it would have receded and the atmospheric perspective would have been lost.

Frank Kouwenberg said...

Hi Bruce,
I'm a Olympus OM user since I bought my first OM 1 in 1974. It turned 40 just a few weeks ago and is still going strong. About the 50mm MIJ myth:
A few month ago I found back some old magazines in which Om cameras and lenses were tested. When they first came out those lenses were considered to belong to the best on the market at that time. There was one magazine from 1973 in which the original 1.8 50mm was tested and one from 1984 with the MIJ. Testing method did not really change in those years and they usually used several examples of the same lens. In those tests there was no significant difference between the 2 lenses. The older one maybe a little better at larger openings, the newer one maybe a bit better stopped down, but nothing you could notice in real life. So, yes, according to these tests, it's a myth.