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At the Waters Edge

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 7 October 2009 in Business & Industry and Portfolio.

This is the River Mersey in NW England with Fiddlers Ferry Power Station in the background.

It's only in the last 20 years or so that the River Mersey has been cleaned up enough to allow it to be restocked with fish. Before that it was pretty much a dead river just like the the River Styx of mythology.

About 30 years ago when we were kids my friends and I used to swim in the sea a few miles down the coast from here at Crosby - it's amazing none of us died from the pollution!

Fiddlers Ferry generates 1989MW of power burning 16,000 tonnes of coal and biofuel every day. It uses nearly 200 million liters of water daily from the river for cooling.

For those who are interested in the technicalities of long exposure photography this was a 3 minute exposure at f8 and iso200 using a Nikon D40 and Nikon 16-85vr lens.

NIKON D40 1813/10 second F/8.0 ISO 200 37 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.

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

Another exeptionally well composed photo with superb foreground interest.

7 Oct 2009 5:51am

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

Also, the dead tree with the powerstation in the background is a classic shot to highlight environmental issues.

7 Oct 2009 5:54am

@Mike: Thanks Mike!

yz from Budapest, Hungary

beautiful shot, so perfectly composed with the chimneys and the deadwood

7 Oct 2009 6:22am

@yz: Thanks yz!

Foto-aksent from Binkom, Belgium

This is great! I like your b/W photography. Especially in this picture is the compo. Terrific forground!

7 Oct 2009 7:32am

@Foto-aksent: Thanks very much!

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

Magical shot Ian. Yes the foreground interest really elevates the scene (how far did you have to drag that tree!!!) but what really makes this one for me is the rich depth of tone and almost glossy did you manage it?

7 Oct 2009 7:45am

@Ted: Hi Ted....yes, I was lucky with the tree wasn't I :-) To get good quality blacks in long exposure photos like this there's a few different things that help: #1 - Expose right to maximise signal to noise ratio: This really helps to avoid noise in the shadow areas. #2 - Shoot in RAW format in the highest bit quality that your camera offers. Mine is only 12 bit but your D300 offers 14 bit which is much bettter. I then process using Nikon's NX2 for basic exposure adjustments etc then 'save as' a 16 bit Tiff for conversion to B&W in one of the later Photoshop versions (I use CS3). The RAW/16 bit Tiff combination helps to maximise quality and helps to avoid the appearance of banding or posterization. #3 - as a final step I add a pinch of sepia tone which helps to soften the B&W a little :-) Edit #4 - it should go without saying but shoot in the lowest native iso of your camera - my D40 operates optimally at iso200 but most cameras are best at iso100.

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

Turned out perfect again Ian the tree is positioned perfectly and the tones are exceptional.

7 Oct 2009 7:51am

@Curly: Thanks Curly!

Frida from Sweden

Excellent tones and the position of the tree log is spot on. With the industrial buildings in the background it makes a wonderful contrast.

7 Oct 2009 8:54am

@Frida: Thanks Frida!

Sarito from Basingstoke, United Kingdom

Fantastic BnW shot.. lovely composition!!

Thanks for the explanation of what you did to get this result..:).

7 Oct 2009 9:03am

@Sarito: Thanks Sanito!

k@ from Paris, France

Delicious delicious & delicious***

7 Oct 2009 9:14am

@k@: Thank you very much !

Babzy from Besançon, France

Brilliant , what more to say ... bravo !

7 Oct 2009 9:59am

@Babzy: Thanks Babzy!

Peter Zsakai from Budapest, Hungary


7 Oct 2009 10:19am

@Peter Zsakai: Thanks Peter!

Anna.C from LA ROCHELLE, France

beautiful composition ! excellent exposure ( thanks for explanation Ian ! ) a great sharpness of the foreground against the smooth background. nature against/industry !

7 Oct 2009 11:35am

@Anna.C: Thanks Anna!

Luca Bobbiesi from Milano, Italy

fantastic contrast

7 Oct 2009 12:39pm

@Luca Bobbiesi: Thanks Luca!

bluechameleon from Vancouver, Canada

I am always in awe of your skies and painted clouds. A beautiful stillness which creates a kind of quiet eeriness. Superb!

7 Oct 2009 12:41pm

@bluechameleon: Thanks Sharon!....I do love photographing with these nd filters!....sometimes the results seem to work out and sometimes they don't. Part of the interest for me lies in never really knowing exactly what I'm going to get.

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Ian, this is a masterclass in composition, lighting and technique!
The subject is as powerful as the processing applied to it. Your tutorial to Ted is also very useful, and I really appreciate your detailed explaination on how you accomplish things (rather than keeping it to yourself )
I hope you didn't pick up any splinters dragging that tree around? *_^

7 Oct 2009 12:44pm

@Ian Smith: Thanks Ian....I had so much help myself from you and John leech when I was starting out that it would be very strange if I didn't also want to follow your example and help others as much as I'm able. That tree branch must have weighed several hundred pounds and there was no way I'd have liked to try moving it. The mud would have been everywhere!

Anita from Quito, Ecuador

just perfect
I love the composition, the reflection, the BW treatment and the message,...

7 Oct 2009 12:45pm

@Anita: Thanks Anita!

alex centrella from California, United States

fantastic black and white image !

7 Oct 2009 2:12pm

@alex centrella: Thanks Alex!

Mags from Paris, France

Another very nice compo, well done !

7 Oct 2009 2:18pm

@Mags: Thanks Mags!

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

Wow! The ends definitely justifies the means, but what a workstream. This sounds like the discovery of the Model T Ford for the first time! Thanks Ian.
I am now off to a quiet room with a strong jug of coffee to try and understand the L-L article...

7 Oct 2009 2:33pm

@Ted: Ted - It sounds like it's complicated but believe me when I say I get rapidly bored with post processing my photos and if a photo hasn't got to the way I want it within about 5 minutes then I usually forget about it and move onto processing another one instead. It's very rare that I spend longer than about 10 minutes processing any of my photos. As you've got a Nikon I'd strongly recommend 'Capture NX2' - it's great for handling Nikon's Raw file format and the 'U' control technology is much easier to use and more intuitive than anything in Photoshop. For my family photos in colour it's all that I use these days.

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

Absolutely a masterpiece!!! The composition, the b&w tone and that Bramham signature long exposure effect work together perfectly! What is more, in addition to being amazed by your impeccable skill and fine craft, I'm so touched by an exceptional strong element of art and spirituality! Congrats my dear!

7 Oct 2009 2:45pm

@hugo poon: Thanks Hugo....that's very kind of you!

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Exquisite. Stunning foreground.

7 Oct 2009 3:12pm

@john4jack: Thanks Jack!

Bishop from Houston, United States

Wonderful shot, again! I'm going to buy a ND filter just to try something like this myself! :)

7 Oct 2009 4:19pm

Bishop from Houston, United States

Wonderful shot, once again! You are going to make me splurge on a ND filter just so that I may get shots like this one :)
What was the general light conditions when you took this pic, if you don't mind me asking?

7 Oct 2009 6:12pm

@Bishop: was bright autumn sunshine believe it or not! (UK autumn sunshine that is!). I used a total of 2 extreme neutral density filters screwed onto the front of the lens for this shot - a 10 stop and a 6 stop (giving 16 total) The nd filters and long exposure give an ambiguous quality to the light which I really love as I feel that it leaves more to the imagination.

Fred from Manila, Philippines

composition excellent! good job! another D40 user here btw. :)

7 Oct 2009 6:40pm

@Fred: Thanks's a lovely simple camera to use isn't it but with great image quality.

Betty from Phillipsburg, United States

Excellent... composition, lighting, etc.

7 Oct 2009 7:04pm

@Betty: Thanks Betty!

Sandra from Thoiry, France

Oh my God... this one is just perfect! I LOVE it!

7 Oct 2009 7:31pm

Stéphane from Saint-Malo, France


7 Oct 2009 7:58pm

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

I'm always amazed how you suceed in making power stations a natural part of landscapes. Great image!

7 Oct 2009 8:36pm

Muy Caliente from Lawrenceville, United States

great shot, thanks for sharing!

7 Oct 2009 8:53pm

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Fantastic, the texture of the tree in the foreground is exellent!

7 Oct 2009 8:57pm

elena from Turin, Italy

wonderful b&w well composed! wow!

7 Oct 2009 9:46pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

superb yet again! even better than the previous one! a greater hook in the foreground in the form of the branch and there is an amazing clarity to this photo that i really like!

8 Oct 2009 3:28am

dabbler from Minneapolis, United States

powerful statement - stunning b&w image!

8 Oct 2009 5:32am

Alun from cheshire, United Kingdom

CRacking image, love the tree in the forground, and the exsposure is fantastic

8 Oct 2009 5:53am

Sriram from Chennai, India

Beautiful tones.. excellent capture!!

8 Oct 2009 7:07am

Naveen Bachwani from Mumbai (Bombay), India

A powerful image, if I've seen one... Your site is testimony to the fact that the D40 is more than enough camera in the right hands!

9 Oct 2009 7:02am

missparis from PARIS, France

Excellente composition

9 Oct 2009 2:33pm

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Great composition - great BW

12 Oct 2009 4:56am

Marie from FRESNES, France

elle est magnifique, cette composition !

12 Oct 2009 8:26pm

1813/10 second
ISO 200
37 mm (35mm equiv.)