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Cottongrass at Wast Water

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 9 July 2008 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Cottongrass in full flower on the edges of Wast Water in the Lake District of NW England.

PS - this image is best viewed in the evening or in a north facing room where it is not competing with bright natural light. I find converting grass to B&W extremely difficult and I'm only just learning how to get texture and tone into my photos of it so this image is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination..... it's a B&W conversion that I would have given up on only a month or so ago.

For anyone whose interested in a larger size image you can see it here in its full subtelty:

NIKON D40 1/400 second F/8.0 ISO 200 15 mm (35mm equiv.)

Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

For purchasing high quality archival prints of any of these photos you can send me an email by clicking here or by going to my website Ian Bramham - Fine Art Photography where prices are listed in the gallery sections under each individual photo.

Vincent Bertrand from Montréal, Canada

I love this one, I'd call it symetrical eventhough it's not, in fact. But you balanced everything quite effectively (I really should say with perfection). Interesting foreground, have you used hyperfocal setting? Nice lake & sky.

9 Jul 2008 6:14am

@Vincent Bertrand: Thanks Vincent!...regarding your question on hyperfocal distance - I don't bother with this particular lens (Sigma 10-20 wide angle zoom) as it's depth of field is so huge, especially as the light was bright enough for f8 as on this particular shot. The focus was set to fully automatic.

Anthony Lambert from Bielefeld, Germany

Nice shot,the grass works well for me,a nice low angle.

9 Jul 2008 7:15am

@Anthony Lambert: Thanks very much was very boggy ground as I should have realised from the tell-tale cottongrass which only grows in that kind of ground. The water was welling up the sides of my shoes and if I'd managed to get down any lower to the ground my bum would have been in the water too :-)

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

I don't have your technical 'savoir-faire' but I know that no matter how you work it you maintain its mood with integrity and that is more important to me than anything else. Not that I would mind having your technical expertise lol
Actually I would love if you had another blog for just your coloured photos...and I would visit both, sometimes it surprises me how very much I love your black and whites, as I love colours most ;) but the drama and mood in your b&w are hard to surpass...

9 Jul 2008 8:39am

@Lorraine: Hi Lorraine.....I enjoy exploring new directions and ideas with my photos so it wouldn't surprise me if I'm back posting a higher proportion of colour photos again in a few months time...we'll see!

Alfredo J. Martiz J. from Tokyo, Japan

I recommend you to see the photography of Ansel Adams, it can guide and inspire you on your path, one thing I like of this photo is that there is a sense of dynamism through the whole scene in the way you have composed it, this feelings gets stronger when looking at the transition of clouds, mountain and grass on the left side of the photo, its like a sequence and tells a story of nature!

9 Jul 2008 9:28am

@Alfredo J. Martiz J.: Thanks for the link Alfredo....I don't know nearly enough about Ansel Adams but I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to get to an exhibition of his prints.

IanSmith from London, United Kingdom

Nice capture Ian!

I'm glad you posted a link to the larger version, as it works so much better. I think the problem with wide glass shots is the fact that some details appear too small when scaled down for the web, and you can only see them with larger presentations.

9 Jul 2008 12:36pm

@IanSmith: Thanks Ian...that's a very good point about wide angle photos. The largest print I've produced up to now from one of these 6 megapixel D40 images is 30inches in the long dimension, It doesn't work for every image but when it does they look amazing.

I've just finished framing 6 photos as I'm exhibiting soon at my first informal community art exhibition. The prints varying in size from 18" to 24". It's so much better than just seeing them on a computer screen.

Mirko Herzner from Mühlheim am Main, Germany

What a nice work, Ian. The bright blossoms give something cheery to an otherwise quite dark composition. The waterside line is also very well chosen deviding the picture nicely...

9 Jul 2008 1:11pm

@Mirko Herzner: Thanks Mirko!....those cottongrass flowers are really beautiful and have a real delicacy to them.

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

Great work again Ian! "Grand and intimate aspects of nature" were being captured in a single picture... wonderful!:-)

9 Jul 2008 3:04pm

@hugo poon: Thanks Hugo!.....I really liked the idea of photographing those delicate white flowers against the backdrop of the dramatic sky and mountains.

amy from Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Ok... I echo Lorraine and hugo... Can't say it better than they... oh, except I am a huge fan of your work. You really are brilliantly talented.

9 Jul 2008 3:18pm

@amy: Thanks Amy!...flattery will get you everywhere :-)

Alun Lambert from cheshire, United Kingdom

great shot, taken nice and low

9 Jul 2008 7:54pm

@Alun Lambert: Thanks Alun!

Stephen Phillips from San Francisco, United States

Ian - this is a beautiful conversion and the grasses add much against that sky. I'd be interested in what conversion method you use. I'd had considerable success in CS2 with using the 'gradient map - then following with the channel mixer.

I just upgraded to CS3 and find a new 'Black and White option under Adjustments. This produces six sliders; R,Y,G,C,B,M - which allow one to fine tune through the image - each of these filters - you very quickly see the impact relative to the others. I sometimes make three passes or more - but can do this in very little time. At the bottom - there is a separate slider to add infinite tinting to the image.

Again, Ian - I love your portfolio - you are a consistent inspiration. I hope this might be helpful.

9 Jul 2008 10:49pm

@Stephen Phillips: Thanks Stephen.....I did a little dodging and burning in the grass to get a better and more realistic texture. I did use the new B&W conversion tool that you describe on this one and agree that it is a fantastic and easy way to convert to mono.....compared to Elements 5 which is the software I used to use, it is so much more subtle and controllable.

gbe from kansas city, United States


9 Jul 2008 11:19pm

@gbe: Thanks very much Grant!

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

great shot and good use of b&w! the contrast and detail is wonderful here and I think that monotone adds a lot of drama and atmosphere to the scene - well done!

10 Jul 2008 4:17am

@DarkElf: Thanks very much...mono was the obvious way to go with these shots when the weather was so overcast with a very flat light. Also the clouds were very dramatic and mono can really bring out that sense of drama in a scene.

Luis A. De Jesus R. from Mexico City, Mexico

The bw tones in your photos always blow me away. Is this countryside scenery all you get to see? If so, how I envy you. Enthralling scenery, indeed.

10 Jul 2008 5:58am

@Luis A. De Jesus R.: Thanks Luis.....I guess I've been slowly working at my B&W photos ever since I got my first digital camera about 18 months ago so I've had plenty of time to think about what I do and don't like in mono pics. It's only in the last few months since getting Photoshop CS3 that I've really got bitten by the B&W bug.

The Lake District in this photo and my recennt ones is about 90 minutes away by car but I do live on the edge of the Peak District National Park near Manchester which is also a beautiful area with rolling green hills, areas of woodland but also desolate swathes of moorland on the tops (not as dramatic scenery as this however!). England has to be one of the best places to live on earth if you are interested in photography!

GJC from Kyoto, Japan

Very fine work. Your control in the tones is exquisite, but it never overwhelms your composition. Everything is working together in this shot.

15 Jul 2008 4:45am

1/400 second
ISO 200
15 mm (35mm equiv.)