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Tuesday, February 19

The Forgotten Mists

Here are a few images that slipped under the radar when I was writing my last post - just forgot all about them. They were an early attempt - I think it was at the start of the year - to give myself a shake photographically speaking and get on with things. I'd just dropped Cath off at work and decided to stop off at a local public park and golf course to see how it looked in the early morning mist. I wasn't really in the mood but I do like a bit of fog and it proved a worthwhile exercise.

The picture above is my favourite from the day. I love the pose the golfer has struck whilst following his pal's drive to its final resting place. I'd watched this photo developing over a few minutes as I stood on an adjacent football pitch. It was the big tree in the foreground, which seemed to be framing the winter tee perfectly, that first caught my eye. So I was in position with the Nikon F90x and an 85mm lens waiting for the lads to finish their putting before driving off.

The photo of the woman walking underneath the goal posts was another slow burn pic that I could see coming a mile off. She had a dog with her but it managed to hide itself in the undergrowth at just the wrong time. Yet another case of dogs not doing what I want them to - now, if only she'd had a pet seagull...

My second favourite shot from the roll was the rural junction (below) all busy with road markings, signs and telegraph poles. It reminds me a bit of a couple of Ray Moore images - if I can get away with saying that. These shots are all about the placement of the various elements within the frame. Sometimes you have a measure of control over them, depending on how they're sited and how much room you have to move around without losing the overall composition, and sometimes the smallest shift in viewpoint ruins things. I had just a little room to manoeuvre.

The pic was taken at the wonderfully-named Tullybaccart, a spot five miles or so from the western outskirts of Dundee. I've been going there since I was boy and it feels like home. The road rises to this point as you leave the city and then drops beyond it as you enter the countryside leading to Coupar Angus.

My mum and dad cycled out this way regularly in the late 1940s. A quarter of a mile beyond Tullybaccart is a hidden spring a short distance from the road where they would scoop up some water for a brew on an old Primus stove. There's an old and very handy bridge next to the spring beneath which they'd shelter if it had turned windy or wet.

My mum's 88 now and every time we pass Tullybaccart it triggers the old memories and she retells stories I've heard countless times - like how she never shared the work on their tandem on the way up to Tullybaccart but liked to pretend she was giving it the beans on the way down. She was actually sitting patiently in the car when I took the pic.

Finally, a shot that required a little bit of Photoshop trickery to get it to where I wanted it to be. It was the trolley tracks (we’re back on the golf course) in the foreground that appealed to me but they're not too obvious on the negative such was the general low contrast murkiness of the morning, albeit that the mist had started to lift by this time.

Ten minutes on the computer and I was able to bring out the features that had caught my eye although I left it "untoned"since the colder image tone suited the subject matter better. It will be interesting trying to achieve this look in the darkroom.


DavidM said...

Well done. All good stuff.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Yep - I like all these Bruce - would love to see the last one printed too - you can get your split-knee loons out for that one if you like.
You know, it occurs to me that you have a WEALTH of knowledge of the areas surrounding Dundee - why not journal it? After all, it's probably only you that has that breadth of knowledge in your noggin . .hidden springs etc etc - really fascinating. I'd read it.
Well done and keep them coming.

Ronnie said...

It can be a struggle to get out of the doldrums at times but reading about someone else’s struggle is indpiring, so thanks for taking the trouble. Getting a few nice photos like this can make it all worthwhile though.

DavidM said...

Mist would look even better on the Mamiya, of course. Just my own prejudice speaking here.

Bruce Robbins said...


I've heard about format bigots but always thought they were an urban legend or, being charitable in your case, an urbane legend. Haha.


I don't carry all that stuff around in my head - a lot of it is from information I read online. I just garnish it a wee bit.


I'm glad that you get a bit of encouragement from the blog. We all need that front time to time, especially at this time of year.

John Carter said...

You take me to another world. Thanks, it is almost a surprise bit of peace.

Bruce Robbins said...

Nice of you to say, John. Hope you’re still doing well after your op.

DavidM said...

We are legendary, as you say.
It's just that mist looks so very nice when there's no grain.
My other camera is an iPhone.

Bruce Robbins said...

I appreciate what you're saying re grain, David. Is it not the case, though, that a good DSLR would be the best way of achieving grain-free misty shots if that is your main concern? Some of today's digital machines are tremendous in that regard.

Dave Jenkins said...

I really like the first one.

You could write and photograph "A Photographer's Guide to Scotland," but then everyone would be led to believe Scotland has nothing but abominable weather. (Or maybe that's just the way it is. . .)

Bruce Robbins said...

The laugh is that my side of the country - the east coast - is supposed to be our Sunshine Coast and my home town of Dundee the sunniest area. We do actually get sunny days but I tend to shoot arty "shapes and shadows" stuff rather than landscapes so you'd probably not notice...

DavidM said...

Bruce, I agree.
Some of the latest digital cameras are astonishing.* You say DSLR, but the latest cameras are mirrorless. A clonking glass mirror is a leftover from the mechanical age of cameras and a digital viewfinder can show much more, especially in low light. As we all know, it can also carry so much information that the picture itself is hard to see.
On the other hand, this is the Online Darkroom, not the Online Digifanclub, so, I referred to film, where bigger really is smoother. (...and slower is smoother too, of course.)
You made me think. I'm not a format bigot: I'm a tripod bigot. I have more tripods than you can shake three sticks at and always looking out for a better one. The preference for a bigger format follows from that, not the other way round. The hand-held camera seems ideally suited to street photography, which I don't seem able to do.
(There appears to be a debate about what constitutes street photography. Apparently it's not photography of, or in, streets. But I digress. I dunno. Perhaps the subject of a future blog?)

*Astonishingly expensive too.

Herman Sheephouse said...

C'mon David . . . HOW MANY TRIPODS?

DavidM said...

I think I have seven proper tripods, plus one that's too flimsy to count. Then I have several table-top ones, including a very elegant Minox, which telescopes inside itself, two Gorilla pods, large and small and some of those strange little bendy ones that don't really work. I also have a set of the individual crutch-shaped legs that fit the turntable on the base of a half-plate Houghton's Superbe-Victo (my new toy).
There now. Is that all? A very modest collection, now that I write it down. I hope I've remembered everything. There do seem to be more heads than tripods.
Surely, everyone has a few tripods, if only to go with different coloured anoraks?

Bruce Robbins said...

And here was I, thinking that tripods are the most boring items of photographic equipment. No, wait - I still think that. :)

Herman Sheephouse said...

Well you've beaten me David:

Gitzo Reporter (old one)
Gitzo CF
Giottos Bambi On Ice model
Slik miniature
Leitz Table top
Linhof Twin Shank

I did have the Screamin' Chimp (Hakuba) and the Gitzo Monopod too, but no more.

Not so many heads though . . actually, wait a minute . .

Bruce, you're wrong - tripods are exciting!

DavidM said...

How can you say such things about your faithful three-legged friend?
Perhaps you have not come across a really dedicated Leica worshipper...
Or, perhaps the Big/Gigantic/Monstrous/Titanic Stopper... You know what I mean – the chicken soup filter.

It's not that I actually want a lot of tripods, it's just that I'm reluctant to throw them away, so some just lie there and trip me up in the darkroom. It's their way of saying hello.

If the Online Darkroom ran a Boredom Referendum, I'd put my cross next to the densitometer. How about it?

DavidM said...

A true gentleman, Mr Sheephouse.
The Linhof twin-shank is a heroic monster.
I've never managed to understand the Benbo. I do own a Benbo ball-head, (although I can't remember why) but the idea of One Handle to Ruin Them All seems strange. They do make a point about it being the only tripod that can be used on a spiral staircase. Perhaps they are right.
It does have one feature that I like. The legs telescope the "wrong" way round so that it can stand in water without filling up. When I need to photograph from a submerged spiral staircase, I shall regret these remarks.
I do hope that some kindly members of the Benbo Club, The Tripod Defence League, Tripods Anonymous, The People's Tripartite Support Committee or the Three-Legged Brotherhood will be able to balance my rather negative views with a torrent of fascinating tripodesque anecdotes and amusing trivia.

Herman Sheephouse said...

I think Bruce has or had a Benbo . . . they always sounded too heavy for me.

As for the Linhof - mine is a 70's one . .and you can still buy all the bits from Linhof, like the leg clamp ABS things. It is untouchable for water - the lower (long) leg is a simple aluminium tube - nice and easy to clean when you unscrew the spikes. It is bloody enormous and stable too and can support a fully extended Sinar at full height extension. Really quite something.

DavidM said...

Presumably, when you've finished painting the Linhof in one direction, you have to begin again at the other end.
I'm looking forward to Bruce's spiral staircase pictures. He seems able to turn out a decent snap with most bits of kit.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Yep - Craig and Rose paint all the way.

You shouldn't say that to Bruce - might go to his head . . .

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks, David, although I'd struggle to take a decent pic with a tripod: I normally need a camera for that sort of thing. I do have a Benbo and it is a handful, no doubt about it. However, with the help of a couple of octopuses it is possible to erect it in roughly the right spot and, if you can manage that, it does provide an excellent level of support. If you try to do it too fast, though, you run the risk of corkscrewing yourself a decent depth into the ground. Overall, I much prefer 800 ISO to a tripod.

DavidM said...

OK, in the interests of preserving Bruce's head – he can't take a snap for toffee.
I believe that squid are more intelligent that octopuses so maybe the Benbo could manage with just one of them. On second thoughts, a reasonably-sized squid might work well as a tripod by itself and with a little training (– reciprocity, rule of thirds, etc) might take over the photographic duties altogether.
Both kinds of animal are well equipped to operate the knobs on a view camera, all at once. Am I talking Homo sapiens out of job?

And on second, second thoughts, if 800 ISO is better, then 1600 might be better still ...and so ad Nikon D5. Pursuing higher speed leads to digital. Hmmm...

Bruce Robbins said...

I think it's probably true to say that if I were still a digital photographer and given the performance of today's sensors, I wouldn't own a tripod. I'm still firmly of the belief that tripods are the equivalent of having sex with your socks on. if 1600 ISO and f2 are the equivalent of Scarlett Johansson then a tripod is Jo Brand. Warning: Overseas readers Google pictures of Jo Brand at their own risk.

Seth Ellis said...

I enjoy diversity of opinions. The bloke who mentioned preferring grain-free mist is my foil.
I envy the way you capture and utilize grain in your images. I recently bought Barry Thornton's book to try and learn a bit more about harnessing it myself.
Carry on sir Bruce.

Herman Sheephouse said...

"I'm still firmly of the belief that tripods are the equivalent of having sex with your socks on" Is there something wrong with that?
Now, where's my scuba outfit . . .

"then a tripod is Jo Brand".
Overseas readers it has to be Jo all the way, she's acerbic and funny and probably much more use in an extreme tripod situation.

Bruce Robbins said...

Hi Seth,

Yes, I enjoy a bit of grain myself. I like just enough so you can see it's a film-based image. Too much and it can become all about the grain rather than the photo and too little can look like you've just sliced a bit out of the actual world and plopped it down on a sheet of paper. Have fun finding out where you are on the grain spectrum.

I'll say this about your pin-up. She's a lefty feminist so gruesome on the inside as well as the outside - you certainly know up front what you're getting! I'd rather have a good conservative woman like Maureen O' Hara or Babara Stanwyk. :)

Herman Sheephouse said...

Ah but you didn't mention that at the time ';0)

Herman Sheephouse said...

So really, Jo Brand is akin to your Benbo? A right handful with a mind of its own??

Who does that make a Gitzo?

DavidM said...

Well, I dunno. Nobody told me that socks helped you perform for longer than a thirtieth of a second and in the dark.
Probably best to avoid commenting on people's appearance.

Bruce Robbins said...

I don’t see Jo Brand as a Benbo, Phil. The Benbo is actually quite attractive. Jo’s probably more like the Kodak tripod I have for the Kodak Specialist 5x7: bloody enormous, no fun to be with, designed in the dark by a committee and could do you serious damage if it fell on you.

Herman Sheephouse said...

She'd probably take that as a compliment.

DavidM said...

"...sliced a bit out of the actual world..." Very well put. How much do we care which scalpel was used?