Whilst I had some fun with people battling the wind on Friday, this was not my main objective in heading into Sunderland.  I had it in mind to shoot a slow exposure image of a willow tree being thrown about, preferably with some water to catch its reflection, and a solid structure to provide a pin sharp background to the blur of the branches in motion.  The slow exposure would allow the tree to become ghostly, whilst the ripples of the water would even out to provide a mirror like surface.

That was the theory anyway.

I was pretty sure I’d find a suitable combination of elements in the town’s Mowbray Park, but whilst I wasn’t entirely incorrect, the trees around the ornamental lake were either denuded by the autumn winds or too small to feature much in the picture.  Nevertheless I thought the reflections might still make for some worthwhile imagery.  What I didn’t count on was the wildlife.

On seeing someone at the water’s edge every duck and swan on the water assumes you are here to feed them and makes for your location.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t be averse to including a swan or two in the pictures, but when shooting slow exposures any movement simply becomes a blur.  In the 15 or so exposures there was one where a swan was still enough to be a feature of the shot, but the cygnet with it was not so cooperative and painted a swathe of grey across the foreground.

This of course is where digital imagery comes into its own.  As each image is no more than a set of numerical data I was able to effectively calculate an average of those numbers by combing 15 files and producing the mean.  Bingo, the ducks and cygnets were all gone and only a couple of paler patches remained in the area once occupied by swans.  A quick application of the cloning tool set to darken was enough to sort that issue.

A little adjustment to the contrast to darken foreground details gives what is called the “Lorrain Effect” – check out J.M.W. Turner‘s Crossing the Brook to see how it is done properly!

Leaving the park I found another bird, ostracised by the more garrulous fowl on the lake.  I was surprised how unperturbed it was by my presence, but glad of the opportunity.

Incidentally the building in the photograph, part of the Sunderland Museum is appropriately enough the Winter Gardens.  Judging from the way Pat was wrapped up and warming her hands on her coffee, she’d already been.



2 thoughts on “Winter Garden

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