t power station in Nottinghamshire, England
Time / Date:
16:56 / April 27th, 2013
Camera Body: Nikon D5100
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
Filter: 10 Stop ND Filter
Shutter Speed: 15s
Focal Length: 26mm
I was with a group of photographer friends and for most of the day didn’t have much clue where I was but before I knew it there was a giant power station in front of me! At the time I was trying to immerse myself into landscape photography so did what I could to capture the scene in a pleasing manner but I’m more used to shooting fast-paced images on the streets of London so slowing down was hard for me.
Ratcliffe-on-Soar is a coal-powered power station in Nottinghamshire and has been photographed a million times as it’s so photogenic. However when it was directly in front of me I could hardly resist the opportunity to try and capture it’s rather menacing presence.
The most important factor in this shoot was using a 10 stop ND filter which enabled me to use a shutter speed of 15 seconds in daylight which made the rising steam much more photogenic. After having owned a full frame camera I decided in 2011 to move back to a crop sensor model as they’re so much lighter and the image quality is still more than good enough for my needs. I was using a £300 camera body, a second-hand lens I paid £200 for and a cheap tripod yet I don’t think the photo suffers by me using ‘lower end’ gear. I can understand totally why so many people are now moving to mirrorless cameras as the size and weight savings are enormous without sacrificing image quality.
I think the 10 stop filter is now rather over-used but sometimes it can make a shot work well and if you want to make images like this you have no real choice but to use one. Hopefully I’ve also shown you can shoot something pleasing without spending a fortune on gear.
Making the Shot:
It took me a while to find a composition I was happy with as I wanted to included something of interest in the foreground to balance the main element of the shot. Colour shots I took without the filter were very dull to my eyes and I’m glad I decided to use the filter on this occasion.
Editing & Processing:
I used Lightroom 4 to process the image and I spent less than 10 minutes working on it. That’s probably the longest I’ve ever worked on a photo but that might be because I’m usually taking photos quickly on the street. I was pleased at the black and white conversion I achieved using only Lightroom’s built-in tools.
I’m very proud of the image which has been featured in Black + White Photography magazine and was recently shortlisted by Nikon in a competition. Considering I’m not an experienced landscape photographer I think it came out well although I think the shot would have looked better if I’d been able to use an even longer exposure.
Personally I think the most challenging aspect of trying landscape photography was making myself slow down and try and take in everything in front of me before deciding on a composition. I’m more used to working quickly and making snap decisions to try and capture a fleeting moment so when viewing a fairly static scene I had to stop myself from moving around, and make only small adjustments to my composition. I found it best to make a fairly firm decision before attaching my camera to the tripod, once it was attached I became lazy and just photographed whatever was in front of me. Overall I quite enjoyed trying landscapes but it’s not a passion and I don’t have the dedication or drive to try and become really good at it.
Photographers that inspire me are Elliot Erwitt for his humour and the late Brian Duffy for his supreme skills and attitude to life.
About the Photographer
I’m an amateur photographer from Kent in England and my main interest is street photography with some occasional dabbling in land and seascapes. I’m also documenting my son Will Allen who is an emerging talent on the folk music scene and about to start my biggest documentary project so far which will hopefully result in a book of photography to sell for charity.
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