Holding on to Summer

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Having recently started a new photography course with Kent Adult Education, I now have ‘homework’ to complete each week! Last weekend I decided to visit Ightham Mote to take some shots using the aperture priority and shutter priority modes on my camera. It was a lovely sunny morning and, to my surprise, there were plenty of beautiful flowers still in bloom. If there hadn’t also been some autumn colours and a slight chill in the air, then I might have been fooled into thinking that it was still summer!

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Having set my camera to aperture priority, I mostly selected as large an aperture as my camera could manage, generally f/5.6, to ensure a shallow depth of field. There were exceptions, though.  Photos 6 and 7 were taken on f/8 and photo 8 was taken on f/22 because I wanted to keep as much of the image in focus as possible.

There was no ignoring this vibrant orange flower as it glowed in the morning sun.

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The photo on the left is the original.  In post-processing I thought I would try different ways of cropping the image, just to see what happened; this is my favourite.

I turned, somewhat reluctantly, to shutter priority on the camera and went in search of suitable subjects.  I love some of the effects that can be achieved by slowing down (in particular) or speeding up shutter speed, but for some reason I find aperture much easier to think about and work with.  Still, I had spotted a small waterfall and made my way there, via a water feature, tripod in hand.

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Photos 1 and 3 were taken at a faster shutter speed (1/160 and 1/100 respectively).  For photo 2 I wanted to slow down the shutter speed to give a slight blurriness to the water.  At 1/2 I needed my tripod.  After a few minutes, a father and daughter, clearly out taking photos together, joined me and set their tripod up next to mine.

I didn’t want to be too predictable, so also looked for something other than water that I could shoot on a variety of shutter speeds.  It was a breezy day and the long grass around the lake, swaying in the wind, gave me plenty of opportunity to practice.

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Each of these photos was taken at 1/2 a second.  I prefer the second one – there is movement without it being too pronounced.  The first photo was a mistake in many ways; I took it whilst the wind was blowing strongly, so the combination of a slower shutter speed and fast moving grass has created a very blurred section in the bottom left hand corner.  On the other hand, with it being so close to the lake, I can almost get away with it – the suggestion is that the water is swirling around.  Photo 3 does not show much movement, but the slower shutter speed has had an interesting effect on the sun’s rays.  I am not so keen on the lens flare but it is not as distracting as it might have been had it shown elsewhere in the image.

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Both of these images were taken on manual.  I simply could not walk by either of these trees without taking a photo.  The reddish bark of the first tree was particularly appealing; the light here had a different quality and felt… mysterious and otherworldly.  Neither words nor photos can do it justice!  The second is, of course, an illustration of the changing seasons and a reminder that, despite appearances, summer really has come to an end!
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