Brian A Keen Fine Art

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News Archive - 2013

Monthly Photography, Painting and Website news for the year.

Photos of The Year

A selection of personal favorite photographs for the year with larger image sizes. (click the thumbnails below to enlarge).

News: Dec 2013

Gallery News
Graffiti and Street Art Gallery.

As I seem to be aquiring more and more photographs of street art and graffiti, I decided to collect them together in a separate 'Colour Graffiti' gallery.

Here is one that recently appeared on a Willen Lake underpass.

Photography News

Heavy rain leading up to Christmas left some flooding around Willen Lake.

Reflections Reflections

The brightly painted excercise posts and bars around the lake were partly submerged creating colourful reflections.

Reflections Reflections Reflections
Silver Birch.

The silver birch trees on the flooded lake shore created some interesting landscapes that also look good when converted to monochrome.

I stood almost a foot deep in water to get these shots. A polarizing filter was used to darken the blue sky.

Silver Birch Silver Birch

The flooded bird feeding area around Willen lake created refelections of the green painted fence in the water. The green colour matched the feathers on the head of this Mallard duck.


For some reason, Lapwings seem to be attracted to the jetties at Willen lake. I suppose it's because they can rest in relative safety.

Ice Patterns.

The shallow water around the edged of the local medieval fish ponds froze giving some interesting ice patterns.

Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Frosty Leaves
Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour Graffiti' gallery
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Mono, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Mono, Macro' gallery

News: Nov 2013

Painting News
Durdle Door.

This month I finished a new oil painting of Durdle Door on the Dorset Coast. I used a 20" x 24" canvas board.

The painting is based on a photograph taken in summer and has taken several weeks to complete. The most difficult part was the reflections on the calm sea in the foreground. It took two or three aborted attempts to get it to look how I wanted. The detail on the chalk cliffs was also difficult.

The painting still needs to be varnished and framed once the oil paint has fully dried.

Durdle Dor
Photography News
Local Autumn Images.

A planned autumn trip to Padley Gorge in Derbyshire was abandoned due to weather. Instead I had to make do with a few local images.

Canal Barge Willen Tree Linford Wood Autumn Trees Autumn Trees Autumn Trees
Campbell Park Beacon.

The illuminated beacon in Campbell Park can make an interesting backdrop at dusk. These images were shot while visiting the funfair.

A bit of photoshop trickery was used to create a water reflection.

Beacon Beacon Beacon
Campbell Park Funfair (10th Nov).

The weather on Sunday 10th Nov was dry and bright. I visited the funfair in Campbell Park for some dusk/night photography. I mainly used my 17-55mm zoom lens and experimented with a range of apertures and shutter speeds.

Funfair Funfair Funfair Funfair Funfair Funfair Funfair Funfair
Funfair Funfair
Gallery Updates.
  • 'Oil Paintings' gallery
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery

News: Jul 2013

Photography News

A break from work this month has given me the opportunity to make good use of my camera.

Bradwell Windmill.

This is a repeat shot of the windmill to determine if my Kodak HIR infrared film is still useable. The film is 5 years out of date but has been kept in the fridge. I have just 8 rolls of 36 exp remaining. The negs looks ok - some slight fogging on the frame borders but that's only because I left the film in the camera for a few weeks before processing.

I use homemade developer based on the formula for Ilford ID11 / Kodak D76. The main ingredient is Sodium Sulphite. Each 1L of solution uses 100g. My stock of Sodium Sulphite is running low so I ordered another 2.5kg from Silverprint. That should be enough for another 25 x 1L batches.

Because of the high contrast, I scanned 3 bracketed frames and combined them using Photomatix HDR rendering software. The frames were shot at 1 stop exposure intervals (1/60s, 1/30s, 1/15s, all at f16).

There is some flare caused by the low sun on front the infrared filter. Unfortunately I didn't notice the flare when I took the shot but was able to remove it using Photoshop's cloning tool.

Bradwell Windmill
St Botolf's Church, Aspley Guise.

I photographed the Church at Aspley Guise using Kodak HIR infrared film.

Lighting conditions were tricky for some of the shots with the sun on the church and shadow in the foreground. I always bracket heavily when using infrared film. This meant that for the high contrast images I was able to scan each bracketed frame and combine them using Photomatix HDR rendering software. I then added some local dodging and burning in Photoshop. One of the images was split-toned using the Photoshop gradient mapping tool to give the effect of a lith print.

St Botolf's Church
St Botolf's Church St Botolf's Church St Botolf's Church
West Cornwall (6th - 13th July).

A week in Cornwall made a welcome break from work and a chance to get back to photography. We stayed in a rented cottage at Porthcurno, not far from Lands End.

Unusually for an English summer, the weather was hot and dry with clear blue skies most days. However, this made photography tricky because of the high contrast. It also meant that walking was often hot and uncomfortable.

Most of the time I used my Nikon D200 but I also took along my infra-red gear. When carrying my infra-red kit, the Nikon had to stay in the boot of the car and I had to make do with my Canon G11 compact for digital images.

The old tine mines and St Levan's Church made good subjects for my out-dated Kodak infra-red film. I used nearly three rolls with the usual heavy exposure bracketing. In some cases I used Photomatix Pro HDR processing on a number of bracketed frames to improve the dynamic range and reduce contrast.

Ruin Botallack
Botallack Mine Levant Mine Mine Ruin
St Levan Church Gate, St Levan

There are new Monochrome and Colour gallery sections for the Cornwall images. A few sample images are included below.

Fisherman's Hut Treen Farm Penberth Penberth Botallack Mines Lands End Sennen Cove Sennen Cove
St Michaels Mount Sennen Cove Sunset Poor Mans Parasol
Rinsay Mine Treen Farm Fisherman's Hut

I also experimented with a few HDR images.

Colour HDR...

Sunset Sunset Sunset Boats & Rope Porthcurno Gate Barn Chicken Farm

Mono HDR...

Gate Church
Great Coxwell Barn (13th July).

We stopped off at Great Coxwell near Faringdon, Oxfordshire on the journey back from Cornwall to photograph the 13th Century stone barn. The barn is now owned by the National Trust.

The timber roof gave an interesting image. The dark interior called for HDR to handle the wide lighting range.

Barn Barn Interior

Reflecting part of the image in photoshop creates an unusual abstract.

Barn Abstract
History Live, Kelmarsh Hall (20th - 21st July).

I visited the English Heritage 'History Live' events at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire. I decided to go on both Saturday and Sunday because there were too many simultaneous events and displays to see them all in a single visit. The weather turned out unexpectedly cool and breezy after the recent heat wave. The sky was overcast but bright, so I tried to exclude it from photographs where possible.

Photographing events is not really my thing - I find it uncontrolled and a bit hit and miss. Capturing a really good image is usually down to luck. Anyway, I thought I would give it a go.

Unlike landscape photography I am unable to take my time looking for good compositions. People and crowds get in the way. Often it's not possible to use a tripod. Avoiding distracting or unwanted backgrounds can be tricky.

The biggest problem for photographers at the History Live event were the two rope barriers at the event arenas. Only those with press passes were able to cross the first barrier. It meant that wherever you stood, ropes, posts and signs would inevitably get in the way. The event marshals seemed to always end up standing in front of my camera.

I used my Nikon D200 with 80-200mm and 17-55mm zoom lenses. Although I took my tripod, it stayed in the boot of the car, so all shots were hand held. I set the camera to ISO 200 to get fast enough shutter speeds to avoid camera shake. The size of the DX sensor on the D200 does mean that noise is a bit more noticeable.

I found myself often using continuous shooting to try and capture fast moving action such as the moment when a canon or gun fired. Photographing the people in costumes was a bit hit and miss - it's not easy capturing the right expressions. Ideally I was looking for soldiers with natural or aggressive expressions rather than smiling or looking miserable. The best approach seemed to be to take lots of photographs and delete the poor images: Something you could not do in the days of film.

There were Hurricane and Spitfire fly-pasts but it was difficult to obtain interesting photographs because of the flat, overcast sky. Disappointingly, the Spitfire was not in WW2 camouflage colours but painted RAF blue. I used the 80-200mm Nikon zoom in continuous auto-focus and continuous shooting mode. I had the usual problem of finding a fast enough shutter speed to keep the aircraft reasonably sharp while not completely freezing the prop. My Hurricane images are not particularly sharp even at 1/1000s. For the Spitfire, I experimented with a slower speed (1/250s) to get more movement in the prop. Unfortunately this meant the main body of the aircraft was not sharp. I guess my hand held panning skills are not good enough. Some photoshop work was required to create a more interesting background.


There are new Colour and Monochrome photo gallery sections for the Kelmarsh event. A few images are included below.

50 cal machine gun German Soldiers WW2 re-enactment

More images to follow...

Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Infrared' gallery
  • 'Colour, ColourAircraft' gallery
  • 'Colour, Cornwall' gallery
  • 'Mono, Cornwall' gallery
  • 'Colour, Kelmarsh' gallery
  • 'Mono, Kelmarsh' gallery

News: Jun 2013

Photography News

I finally found time to process and scan some rolls of 120 film that have been in the fridge for too long. There are three rolls of Fuji Reala 100 and one of Velvia 50. The oldest roll was exposed back to 2010. Apart from slight fogging on three frames of Velvia, the images look ok.

Lavender at Cadwell Farm.

One of the Velvia images shot at Cadwell Farm near Hitchin in July 2010.

Tree Reflection.

Early winter morning reflections at the small lake near the River Ouzel at Woughton On The Green.

Tree Reflection

I saw these tulips on the grass verge while walking through one of the estates at Woughton On The Green. The bright red and green complimentary colours looked interesting, so I returned later the same day with my medium format kit. Some frames were deliberately blurred using a vaseline on acetate filter. The early spring green grass appears quite vivid despite reducing green saturation by 10% in photoshop after scanning.

When I later attempted to print these images using my enlarger and RA-4 Fuji Crystal Archive paper, I found the paper was unable to handle the deeply saturated reds: The flower heads appear as a red blur with very little detail even though the information was captured on the negative.

Tulips Tulips Tulips
Church Reflection.

I got up early to get this shot of the former Holy Trinity Church reflected in the still, partly frozen water of the medieval fish ponds at Woolstone. The quality of the light from the early morning sun was spectacular: The buff coloured limestone walls appear gold.

Church Reflection
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Colour, macro flowers' gallery

News: May 2013

Photography News
Grey Heron.

Photographed hand held using an 80-200mm zoom. The bird was beneath a bridge which meant it was quite dark. Even with a large aperture (f2.8), I had to use ISO400 which makes the image fairly noisy. The camera was accidentally set for -1 stop exposure compensation. Luckily I was able to correct it in photoshop without losing shadow detail.

Grey Heron

The last few remaining spring daffodils. Shot using a large aperture to throw the background out of focus.

Water droplets.

Water droplets on a stainless steel playground slide. It looks like a monochrome image but it is colour.

Water drops
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, animals' gallery
  • 'Colour, macro flowers' gallery
  • 'Colour, macro' gallery

News: Apr 2013

Painting News

I recently completed a 12" x 16" oil painting entitled 'Bluebell Wood'.

Bluebell Wood
Photography News


Daffodils, like other spring flowers have been particularly late this year because of cold temperatures. This back lit flower was shot in the local churchyard.

Daffodil Daffodil
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, macro flowers' gallery

News: Mar 2013

Photography News

Tree Reflections.

This pair of trees is in Northridge Park in Hemel Hempstead. I photographed them on a foggy morning to remove any distracting background. The image was converted to monochrome and split toned. The reflection was added in Photoshop.

Trees In Fog

This tree had similar treatment but was left as a colour image.

Tree In Fog
Trees and Mist.

Trees in the local park on a frosty morning with low lying mist in the background.

Trees In Mist
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Mono, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery

News: Feb 2013

Photography News

Church Reflections.

The Holy Trinity Church in snow, reflected in the fish ponds.

Church Refelection
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery

News: Jan 2013

Photography News

Tree in Snow.

This tree in snow with the frozen water and sheep tracks in the foreground makes a pleasing composition.

Church Refelection
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
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