Chesterton Windmill

Irv_b

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I am in the middle of a little project to photograph the windmills, that I see dotted around the local and not so local landscapes but It is quite difficult to get anything a little different, to make things more interesting, so any thoughts would be welcomed.Chesterton windmill.jpg
 

David M

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Have you seen the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher? They built quite a reputation for themselves by cataloguing industrial structures of all kinds in a very straightforward way, using large format cameras. Many people like their work very much.
May I suggest that you have made a kind of passport photo here. There's nothing wrong with it at all.
It's a very interesting and unusual structure. On the other hand, there's no context. Perhaps if you stood back a little to show the situation of the windmill, or chose a less confrontational viewpoint... Or perhaps some revealing side-light...
I'd also suggest that in this particular case, the windmill is competing with the stormy sky for attention. And there seems to be some mysterious figure crouching in the middle – axe murderer; monument; fugitive camel?
Let me add that it's very easy to sit in a comfortable chair in a warm room, dishing out advice. I know it's quite different in the field.
 

Alan Clark

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The Welsh photographer Pete Davis has a wonderful collection of photographs of Welsh tin sheds , on his website. Well worth a look to see how the whole project has been conceived, photographed and assembled.


Alan
 

Irv_b

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Have you seen the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher? They built quite a reputation for themselves by cataloguing industrial structures of all kinds in a very straightforward way, using large format cameras. Many people like their work very much.
May I suggest that you have made a kind of passport photo here. There's nothing wrong with it at all.
It's a very interesting and unusual structure. On the other hand, there's no context. Perhaps if you stood back a little to show the situation of the windmill, or chose a less confrontational viewpoint... Or perhaps some revealing side-light...
I'd also suggest that in this particular case, the windmill is competing with the stormy sky for attention. And there seems to be some mysterious figure crouching in the middle – axe murderer; monument; fugitive camel?
Let me add that it's very easy to sit in a comfortable chair in a warm room, dishing out advice. I know it's quite different in the field.
Thanks for the critique David.
I tried to capture some of the field of corn/wheat(? [I'm a townie] ) to give a bit of interest but was limited as to where I could go, as I thought to keep within the wheel ruts of the tractor/harvester, rather than just trample anywhere.
I will seek out the work of those you mentioned and see what I can interpret from their work- thanks for the reccomendation.
 

Irv_b

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The Welsh photographer Pete Davis has a wonderful collection of photographs of Welsh tin sheds , on his website. Well worth a look to see how the whole project has been conceived, photographed and assembled.


Alan
Thanks Alan I will cetainly look.
 

David M

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Those tin sheds are a little hymn to corrugation.
Have you looked at another Davies - John Davies?
 

Alan Clark

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Yes David, I have looked at John Davies, once, when he gave a talk about his work. I have to say, his photographs did absolutely nothing for me....

Alan
 

David M

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Can't win 'em all, but I was suggesting him to Irv-b as an example of another photographer who makes use of the constructed environment. His approach is very different from the Bechers. I don't suggest that he should copy either of them, but there might something to help with his question.

There are also some very professional photographs of structures in architectural magazines, but they tend to be in colour and aimed at a different audience.
 

Alan Clark

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Sorry David, I thought you were talking to me.
Irv-b, don't let my comments about John Davies put you off him. Take a look at his work and even if you don't like it much you will be sure to pick up something from his approach to a project.

Alan
 

David M

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No problem at all. Unless we sit glued to our keyboards all the time, our messages are bound to get out of sync.
I think the two (or rather three) we've mentioned give a fairly wide spectrum. We don't need to mention the Following in Ansel's Tripod Holes school of landscape photography.
 

Alan Clark

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Irv_b,
I know you have asked for advice, and I know people are willing to help. But at the end of the day I think the way you approach your project has to come from you. Then it will be your own personal work, and hopefully will express what it is you feel about the subject matter. Personal expression is quite hard to achieve in photography. Much easier to pull off on painting, I find. And unfortunately there are no rules to follow in order to achieve it. All that can be done is to stick at it. Make lots of prints, and try to evaluate things as you go along. I find it is very satisfying when things do come good. But in my case it doesn't happen often enough...

Alan
 

David M

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Alan is right. After making more images, you begin to see what you’re trying to do. At least, that’s been my experience. Examining your own project shows where your interests lie.
I’m not suggesting some deep psychological process. It can be as simple as saying “Like these ones; I’ll look out for more. Like these less, will make fewer.”
It’s always possible that the ones that don’t fit may become another project in the future. There may be other projects (off the top of my head) on people who visit windmills or close-up details of the machinery. Pay no attention to these suggestions.
I do hope this makes some kind of sense.
 

thronobulax

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This a generally well seen and realized image. It's right in the sweet spot of my favoured sort of image.

To my eye, though, it lacks local contrast, particularly in the central area of the building structure and foreground grasses. This could just be an artefact of digital reproduction, my monitor, the phase of the moon, etc.

I have oft posted here on the merits of extended high dilution development and - at the risk sound like a Gushing New Convert - it is exactly this sort of problem semistand development solves. It gives you full box film speed and really expands the contrast of the middle grey zones. The downside is that it is a very fiddly process that is quite easy to get very wrong.

For example, this image was shot on a dead flat grey day right after a snowstorm. The central area was a bleak geometry of muddy gray tones and lacked compelling visual interest. But expanded development opened up the middle tones. (I note that I think this image is a bit over produced and would benefit from reprinting to bring down some of the highlights.) Scan of resulting silver print:

https://ozzie.tundraware.com/Silver/#2

Here's another, shot on an an overcast grey day with very flat contrast:

https://ozzie.tundraware.com/Silver/#11

My notes on the process here:

https://gitbucket.tundraware.com/tundra/Stand-Development
 
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Joanna Carter

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Yes David, I have looked at John Davies, once, when he gave a talk about his work. I have to say, his photographs did absolutely nothing for me...
We had the privilege of going to see an exhibition of his work, along with some of Ansel Adams'. They might not look impressive in a book or on screen but, when you see them printed to around 8ft long, they are simply awesome!
 
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Alan Clark

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Joanna, I saw an exhibition of his work too, and the talk accompanied the exhibition. Why I was disappointed with his photographs was because they just seemed so lacking in emotion and atmosphere. No attempt was being made to convey how he felt about the subject. He just showed it as it was. I realise that this is his style, his way of doing things. But rather than see an entire unexciting cityscape with no emphasis on any particular part of it, I much prefer it when a photographer homes in on something of interest to them and manages to convey this excitement in the finished photograph.

Alan
 

Irv_b

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Guys thanks for the words and recommendations.
I have had a quick look the Belchers, Davis and Davies available shots and I do think that there is something I can take from their work to improve mine.
Thronobulax interesting article on the semi stand development process, which I have heard of with people doing with Rodinal, when they have a film that they are not sure of how it's been shot, thanks.
 

thronobulax

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<snip>
Thronobulax interesting article on the semi stand development process, which I have heard of with people doing with Rodinal, when they have a film that they are not sure of how it's been shot, thanks.

Yes, Rodinal has been used exactly the way you suggest for years. To my eye, Rodinal produces too much unnecessary grain and I've thus avoided it entirely. (This may be because I've mostly seen it used with Tri-X and HP-5+ 35mm.) For most things, I now use Pyrocat-HD and - occasionally - D-23 1:1. I do also want to try HC-110 Dilution H as a point of comparison. It supposedly produces many of the same virtues when used to semistand process.
 
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Marley

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“He just showed it as it was.”
And there is nothing wrong with showing something as it if is that's the intention. In a book showing the designs of windmills country wide that would be great. However in the original post @Irv_b says he wants to be interesting and unusual, so that would suggest he would prefer something with more pizzazz than a 'record shot'.
That's an absolute gift of a sky but it's WAY more dramatic than the somewhat 'flat' windmill. I would personally bump up the contrast to get some good solid blacks and more 'mood'.
In future images you could include more environment, or even crop in and go for abstraction and unusual angles. And personally I don't subscribe to this 'law' that says that just because we have camera movements available we have to use them - and that all verticals must never converge on pain of being drummed out of the 'boys with big cameras' club.

I'd definitely loose the camel though :)
 
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