CHRIS COUGHLAN

A Wander in the Clouds

Living at 1000ft allows me to see more clouds.  Having limited mobility, I can at least prop myself up on something for a few minutes so can still make some images even when things are bad.  Living in a village does have its drawbacks however, the main of which are telephone lines criss crossing just about everything.


My equipment is an old Canon 5D Mark I and principally a Canon 28-135mm zoom.  I do have a very old Canon 100-300mm zoom but it suffers from horrendous fall off at anything wider than f11 so is rarely pressed into service except in summer when there is more light around.


Few of my images are heavily 'photoshopped'.  I rely on IrfanView and Lightroom 5.7 for adjustments and limit their activity to basic colour corrections, contrast, exposure etc to get back to what I actually saw - or thought I saw - which leads us into the mysterious and labyrinthine realm of the metaphysical.  IrfanView (www.irfanview.com) is a brilliant, small program funded entirely by donations.  The person who writes it is one of the few people on this planet who really deserves to be a millionaire so, if you do find it useful, give them some money to carry on the good work.  The only advanced Lightroom tool I have found useful for clouds is the Clarity Control.  It seems to bring a depth to the images.  I do use a very old copy of Photoshop (I'm talking Photoshop 7 here!) for inserting credits and words sometimes because it is simplicity itself.  Having seen some of my cloud images, Corel kindly gave me a crazy discount on PaintShopPro 8 but despite their more than generous offer, I can't seem to get want I want from the program.  I'm sure someone brainier than I could manage it but it is simply beyond my reach.


I don't crop pictures as a rule.  I recall from the very, very limited tuition I received the watchwords "Get it right in the camera or don't bother son.  If you can't do that, you're neither use nor ornament" and I suppose they stuck.  I can't give you erudite explanations about how I compose an image.  I never really understood why I could shoot fashion when other people couldn't.  With me it's a feel thing and I'm not at all sure how I do it so am the last person to try and blind you with science or polysyllabic Arts Council speak.  One photographer who used to take the most exquisite images using movement decided he would take a year off to actually fathom out how he did it.  At the end of a year his summary was "I realised if I ever found out, I wouldn't be able to do it any more".  I'm with him - 'nuff said.  If you're looking for the fount of all knowledge and wisdom "It ain't me babe..." (Dylan).

I'm not a RAW person so use jpeg nearly all of the time although I do take in RAW + jpeg just in case (that's ex-professional paranoia for you!).  For those who are interested in photography rather than editing, if anyone tells you jpegs can't be adjusted, they're talking hogwash.  I have no doubt someone can create a masterpiece using RAW but  it is beyond me.  I'm a bit miffed to be honest that what I see in the viewfinder is rarely what I see when pictures are downloaded onto a computer when it comes to clouds.  Now I have to spend time I don't like getting back to what I saw in the first place.  Not my idea of the digital revolution!


If I am honest, coming from a world of film using Contax, Hasselblad, Cambo and Fuji Velvia, digital was a bit of a come down but it is now the only way I can afford to go.  I sold the Hasselblads (their names were Tweedledum and Tweedledee), their lenses and the Contaxes a long time ago to raise funds but kept the Cambo for which I have bought a Canon adapter if I need movements.  One big problem I had initially was metering.  Point the Canon 5D at anything terrestrial and it's spot on.  Point it at the sky and the metering system appears to have a minor nervous breakdown.  I now run at a standard 1 stop under exposure for clouds but that can change dependent upon the angle from the sun.


I guess that's about it for now.


Footnote 3rd January 2018

I am slowly discovering that RAW can be quite useful with Lightroom and, having been reminded recently by Joe Cornish that blues are a nightmare to reproduce in print, I am starting to damp down their brilliance but it's not something I'm fond of.  It smacks of big time compromise.


Chris