PPC Photonews - The Lockdown Diaries Vol 4

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Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members

The Lockdown Diaries - Vol 4


Lockdown Diaries - Volume 4

Welcome to the fourth extra edition of Photonews to commemorate what PPC members have been doing in Lockdown. This one is courtesy of Maxwell Law, Graham Dean and Kieran Metcalfe - thank you gentlemen! These specials are only made possible by the support of members so as always my grateful thanks to all those who’ve allowed us a peek inside their Lockdown World. There’s another 90 or so members out there however so surely a few more of you have been making photographs during Lockdown? No “funnies” in this issue so instead I’ve shared an image of two-year old Harry (left) relaxing in the pool - “Pandemic? What Pandemic?” I have templates ready for the next issue … they just need some content … yours? All the best - stay safe!

Dave Whenham Editor email: davewhenham@aol.com

Page 4: Horrabridge Lockdown through the lens of Maxwell Law Page 14: Kieran Metcalfe shares how he’s getting his kicks in Lockdown Page 22: Foodbank. Timelapse Graham Dean’s way!

ON THE COVER: “Deserted road on Dartmoor” Maxwell Law (see page 4) 3

Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

Life has undoubtedly changed for all of us recently but for Max his regulat photographic subjects have also changed slightly as he adapts to Lockdown. Alongside the peaceful tranquility of an unusually quiet Dartmoor Max has also been photographing some of the people he comes into contact with locally. In addition to the images from his regular trips on his bike for his allotted exercise he has also been taking socially-distanced portraits and these can be found from page 8. Below: DIY (no change their Max) Right: Tavistock (visited by bike) (just a bike ride away!


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

VE Day

Ddouble rainbow over our cottage, the only rain all month.


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

My trusty steed (bike) and my almost daily exercise


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

Deserted roads on Dartmoor


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

Colin the baker. The bakery remains open and bakes every night except Saturday. The old ovens used to burn coke, and now they burn diesel.


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown


Paul the wall builder (his river wall in the background)

Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

Morning coffee at the pub, featuring Fred and Rachael, the owners.


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

Key worker (teaching assistant) making the most of the weather for educating her daughter.


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

Our neighbour and care worker, doing 12 hour shifts to limit staff turnover, here pictured with her daughter.


Maxwell Law Horrabridge Lockdown

The Horrabridge store: two persons maximum‌


Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

I usually get my photographic kicks out in the Peak District, and with all the fantastic weather it’s been a huge frustration to not be able to get out. That said, I have been able to occupy myself in a number of ways just in our garden and all these images were taken within about a 20-30m radius. It has been a real eye-opener as to the range of things to photograph in suburbia - and crucially made me take our own space a little less for granted. Crescent Venus - This one bowled me over… Venus, known as the evening star, is often the first ’star’ you can see as evening draws in. However, it’s actually a planet - the next nearest to the Sun - and due to a runaway greenhouse effect has incredibly reflective clouds (which is why it appears so bright). Being a planet means it has ‘phases’, just like the Moon’s, when it appears as a crescent. I never thought that would be visible from my backgarden with a 600mm lens… I thought I’d need a high-power telescope to capture that!


Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

Cosmic Blender - During lockdown, we were supposed to have been treated to the Lyrid meteor shower (see box below), so I set the camera up to shoot towards the southern sky. I tried to make the composition as pleasing as possible by angling the camera above the houses, which left a neighbour’s large tree in the corner of the shot. No meteors to speak of, but I did end up with enough shots (200) for my first ever star-trail image. The upward angle of the camera meant the stars trailed across rather than round which gives a rather novel effect!

The April Lyrids are a meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26 each year. The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra, near its brightest star, Vega. The peak of the shower is typically around April 22 each year.


Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

Waxing Moon at Sunset - There was a chance for a little back-yard astro before dark too - we’ve had a number of cotton-candy sunsets with high pink clouds and on this evening recently, they created a beautiful frame for the moon.


Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

'That’s No Moon’ - This was an attempt at a photoshop technique I had seen online. It merges 3 images (all taken at home during lockdown) to create a ‘hyper-real’ moon image. There’s full moon (from the Wolf Supermoon) which is placed on a background of stars from the same evening. A crescent moon from a couple of weeks earlier is then overlaid and aligned to provide the highlight, giving a 3D appearance to the image. 17

Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

Zebra Hunting Spider - I was working in the garden (on a laptop, not with a spade!) when I noticed this little lady on the bench beside me. She was prowling around looking for some dinner, so I grabbed my macro lens to see if I could get some images which show off those big (relatively-speaking) eyes. This shot was taken when she ran up the post of our pergola, and so was actually shot at 90-degrees to this. It felt more natural rotated to me. It’s a fairly heavy crop though - I’d like to get a Raynox adapter, which increases the magnification of the lens considerably, to allow me to get even more detail. Even so, I’m pleased with it for a first go!


Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

Mouse - Turns out we have a furry neighbour who has moved in beneath the feeders, and comes out two or three times a day to hoover up the seed the birds have dropped. I spotted him one evening while packing down the camera, and (again) lying on the 19

Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

Peony Macro - These flower every year at this time, and I’m always fascinated by the colours and textures of the variety we have. I always try to find a new way to shoot them, and spent a happy few minutes getting different compositions of slightly abstract nature. Red Acer - This small tree is in the corner of the flower bed and one evening (while waiting for the mouse) I saw the light through its leaves. I’ve not thought of using a 600mm lens for essentially macro work before, but was pleased with the slightly Japanese / abstract feel to this.

Foraging Dunnock - One morning, while setting up for the goldfinch project, this dunnock was collecting food for its nestlings. It was hopping in and out of the shadows so I grabbed a quick shot as the camera was in my hand. That did mean I ended up lying flat on the patio in my dressing gown (fortunately no photographs of that!) 20

Kieran Metcalfe Photographic Kicks in Lockdown

Goldfinch - My main photographic outlet has been a self-imposed project to learn how to capture in-flight images of the goldfinches which visit our bird feeders. It’s been a learning curve and a challenge, but this image, from the 70th(!) day is one of the best so far - I hope to share more details of the project within Photonews in the future, but suffice to say it involved a sturdy tripod, a very long shutter cable and a lot of patience! 21

Graham Dean Foodbank: Time-Lapse – my way!

The background At the end of April, out of the blue, I received a phone call asking if I could create a time-lapse video showing how the local foodbank were working with the city council to meet a tenfold increase in demand during the lockdown. At the same time, users couldn’t collect food parcels in the normal way – everything had to be delivered. Instead of operating from a small church hall, they were now using a large sports hall - see picture opposite. I didn’t commit myself – it was 5 years since I’d last played with time-lapse (shooting visitors posing next to the Eric Morecambe statue on Morecambe prom for an exhibition to celebrate what would have been Eric’s 90th birthday)! Traditionally time-lapse photography shows the action speeded up, much like playing a video in fast forward. Large number of still images are taken at regular intervals and then put together in video editing software. The gap between the images depends on how quickly the subject is moving and the desired effect. My first experience of shooting like this was in the 1970s on a super 8 cine camera, which allowed you to take single images via a cable release. When video took over from film, I dabbled with stop motion animation (mainly for work purposes, running workshops with school children) and I suppose that my approach to the Eric Morecambe had been more akin to animation than pure time-lapse – and I didn’t know if this approach would work for the foodbank. About 7 years ago I bought an interface which connected my camera to a mobile device and could be used to trigger exposure via sound (it was called TriggerTrap). It could also be used to take images at regular intervals. I started to use this for the Eric Morecambe video – but after the first couple of outings, I decided there was less editing needed if I just used the device to fire the shutter manually. If you’re shooting something where the movement is constant, be it the sun setting, a seedling growing, then regular time intervals are important. But I found that with irregular movements, manual control is preferable.


Graham Dean Foodbank: Time-Lapse – my way!

Since that time, the manufacturers of TriggerTrap had ceased trading and their app was no longer available to download on my new phone or tablet. I would have to shoot manually for the foodbank (there are similar devices on the market and many mobile phones and “action cameras” will shoot time-lapse – but I didn’t want to buy more gear and a mobile phone doesn’t have a tripod socket). After the first session at which I took about 1000 frames I put together a video which was rather a random selection of the activities taking place. The foodbank were delighted – so further visits were planned in order that I could capture the scale of the operation up to the point where the vans departed to deliver the food boxes.

The practicalities The first essential is a tripod! And the second is a remote control for your camera. If you search for how to shoot time-lapse on the web, it will advise shooting at the resolution of the finished video – 1080 pixels high for HD (faster saving to memory card than shooting full size on most DSLRs and less work when it comes to editing). I didn’t do this, all the nearly 7000+ images that I shot were at the max 15Mb that my camera allows (first and foremost, I’m a still photographer and I might have wanted to be able to produce prints of some of my images). Top: Donations to be sorted Below: Boxes ready for distribution


Graham Dean Foodbank: Time-Lapse – my way!

I did follow the advice to pre-focus and then turn off autofocussing (you don’t want the lens to be hunting for a focus point focussing when you’re trying to capture an image). Plan your shoot – ideally before you take the first frame. In this case, the storyboard came after I’d taken all the images, but before editing – a storyboard (see below) really helps to keep you from being side-tracked (at least it does for me – I’m very easily side-tracked)).


Graham Dean Foodbank: Time-Lapse – my way!

I re-sized all the original jpeg files in batches after each shoot using the free Image re-sizer for Windows. I’m still using Windows 8 and this was one of the first utilities I downloaded 6 years ago! Video software for editing – I used the free download from Microsoft: Movie Maker for Windows. I set the time that each still image appears on the screen to be 0.1 second – though this is probably something that needs a bit of trial and error, depending on the subject matter. Sound – I added music from www.free-stock-music.com, a website that provides copyright free music for amateur videos. The resulting video can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/muB2sWBPILQ The Eric Morecambe video is still on view at: https://youtu.be/ RKCS9hYxm3g

Top: Loading vans with boxes for distribution Below: Loading donations from village collection point (Holme)

See the finished video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/muB2sWBPILQ 25

To view more of our images, learn about the club and for membership information, please visit postalphotoclub.org.uk

Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members

Photonews is published four times per year. All rights reserved. All materials copyright The Postal Photographic Club and/or their respective authors. Any opinion or statement expressed by the author of any article published in this magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of The Postal Photographic Club, the editor or its members.

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