Ouseburn, Acros and …

… other things.

Like Seaton Sluice, Ouseburn doesn’t sound too attractive, something underfoot which should be avoided.  It turns out that names can be deceptive, Ouseburn is quite pleasant despite its mucky industrial past and living in the shadows of three viaducts which span the valley.

A brief period of snow after Christmas has been followed by leaden skies and persistent rain, not the best start to the year.  Après la neige, le déluge.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday afternoon we got lucky and a walk from the Side in Newcastle to the Ouseburn Valley was lit by a bright winter sun, splintered by the Tyne Bridge.

In the dull days before this Newcastle outing, I had spent many happy hours fiddling with the settings on the Fuji X100F. I am mostly a RAW man but I remain addicted to the jpeg film simulations available on Fuji X cameras and so shoot both.  When it comes to colour, I am mostly convinced by the argument that RAW records all of the data from the sensor and allows you to decide exactly how the final image should look.  However, when it comes to black and white I am not at all sure I can get anywhere near the simulations that Fuji provide in camera.  This is particularly true of ACROS as explained at fujifilm-x.com:

Other manufacturers are also implementing the idea of creating “graininess” to enhance image texture. FUJIFILM is not the only brand doing this. You can find “Grain” filter in readily available photo processing software, and many monochrome photographers add “grain” to achieve the monochrome film like effect.

Most of them try to achieve this by adding “grain-like element” to the original image. They simply add another layer of “dotted graininess” on top without changing the original photo composition. So something becomes unnatural in the process.  “ACROS” is different.

We developed it from the core of the image file to achieve a very complex and natural like grain expression. Optimal and different grain expressions are added to highlight and low light areas. You would not find unnatural dotted graininess in the highlight areas just like how the monochrome film behaves. In the low light area, you would see the graininess just as it would appear with monochrome film. There is undulating grain within the picture. And it adds depth like no other.

ACROS also changes the output of graininess depending on the sensitivity setting. As the sensitivity gets higher, stronger grain effect becomes visible, just like film.

We also think that it is very unlikely that any RAW conversion software would achieve what “ACROS” achieves. We all know that there are excellent RAW conversion software in the market, but we also believe that the magic of X-Processor Pro is not so easily solved.

These are the results with only minor tweaks in Photoshop – simulation is ACROS with a yellow filter, noise reduction at -1, highlight tone at -2 and sharpness at +2:

Newcastle Quayside from Lombard Street

The Newcastle Arms, directly beneath the Tyne Bridge

Newcastle Quayside – Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Co. Ltd. All that remains is the DFDS ferry to Amsterdam.

The Toffee Factory and the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company – Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle.

Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Company – Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle.

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do – Mother Teresa.

Boats at the mouth of the Ouseburn.

Mustang ‘S’ally, American Diner, Ouseburn.

The Ship Inn, Ouseburn.

Of course, I see what I want to see and I am not sure the subtleties of ACROS grain are particularly evident in these images.  So, to finish off, here is a portrait of my middle son, Matt, being subjected to the ACROS treatment.

Happy New Year, one and all.

Matt being given the Fujifilm ACROS treatment.

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Dunston Staiths

Dunston Staiths, on the River Tyne, is believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe. It is a Scheduled Monument, Grade II listed and is owned by registered charity Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT).

Opened in 1893 by the North East Railway Company, it was built to allow large quantities of coal arriving by rail from the Durham Coalfields to be loaded directly onto waiting colliers (coal ships) ready for the onward journey to customers in London and abroad. At the coal industry’s peak around 5.5 million tons of coal was moved this way each year – http://www.dunstonstaiths.org.uk/

This short film, Coal Staiths of the Tyne, shows the site in operation in the early 1970s,  The set of wonderful stills were taken by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen.

You don’t need a weatherman …

climate (n.)
late 14c., “horizontal zone of the earth,” Scottish, from Old French climat “region, part of the earth,” from Latin clima (genitive climatis) “region; slope of the Earth,” from Greek klima “region, zone,” literally “an inclination, slope,” thus “slope of the Earth from equator to pole,” from root of klinein “to slope, to lean,” from PIE root *klei- “to lean” (see lean (v.)).

Whatever the climate might or might not be doing, in these parts, it has certainly been changeable.  From bright, cold March sun through heavy snow, to biblical rain and out the other side to hints of summer, we have had it all these last seven days:

… bitter March landscape

… high water

… lonesome highway

… winter returns

… beneath Hexham Bridge

… bring me sunshine

Here comes the sun …

Sunrises and sunsets are a photographic cliché but this doesn’t stop me rushing for the camera every time I see one.  If they occurred with the infrequency of the northern lights it would stop us in our tracks.

We are fortunately placed, with a near uninterrupted view of the sun rising across the high ground above the Tyne Valley.  These images were taken a short time apart – above the valley the mist has burned off to a gin clear day while down in Hexham, there is fog on the Tyne.  If you look closely to the right of the video, you can see the fog bank shifting along the valley – these time-lapse videos have a certain sameness but I admit to compulsive habits and this is just one of them:

... across the field at Beaufront Woodhead

Fog on the Tyne ... Fog on the Green ...

Last of the melting snow

After the previous frantic post, this is a calmer time-lapse video to soothe the frayed nerves. The view is across the fields from our front door – as far as I am prepared to travel before breakfast (in my dressing gown 😨) . The morning started well enough but even over the hour this was shot, the day started to dull down. Passengers flying into Amsterdam from Minneapolis on a Delta AIrbus A330 and those on a Lufthansa A380 from San Francisco into Frankfurt were treated to the best of Northumberland – they streak across the sky near the beginning of the video.

There is still some snow but the sun is doing its work at least until the next batch arrives:

... the melting snow

And finally – this looks perishing but it wasn’t – the camera always lies 😉

... across the Tyne

The Week …

This is a collection of images posted on www.polaroidblipfoto.com over the previous week.  I first started submitting to Blip in late 2013, the central idea being that you take/publish a different image everyday (I ocassionally cheat a little 🙂 ).  It has now become something of a compulsive obsession but its main benefit is that it makes you constantly think about opportunities for taking photographs and a camera is always close to hand – this is no bad thing.  Over two years later I have now built up a photographic diary which, like many other ‘Blippers’, I would be very disappointed to lose.  The future of Blip has been in doubt for some time so the opportunity to support its survival through crowd-funding came almost as a relief.  It was therefore gratifying to see this posted from Blip Central on 2nd February:

We’ve got the money  …  We wanted to let you to know as soon as we could that the collection of money from pledges and donations via PayPal has just passed the target of £120,000. We offer a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed and helped. Give yourselves a collective pat on the back for we can now go ahead and complete the purchase from the current owners.

The images show:  Our local drystone wall repairman – plenty of work in hand; the Tyne rising yet again; the Sandhoe water trough; the Pant (fountain) at Tanners Row, Hexham; Sue Dunne’s white dove; panels from Hexham Abbey (there are actually three); evidence that the sun can still shine on Allendale golf course.

... plenty of work to do - drystone wall repairs on the Beaufront Estate

The Tyne rising ... The horse trough ... The 1858 Pant ... White dove ... Hexham Abbey panels ... The third ...

Do you see …

… what I see.  This is a collection of mostly autumnal images taken near home over the last week. My happy place is out and about in Northumberland and then sat in front of my two 19 inch screens dabbling with Photoshop and On1.  The screen on my left produces the brightest and cleanest image whilst the one on my right is slightly fuzzier with a yellow tinge. In other words, what I see and what you see will depend on the devices we use for viewing.  I could calibrate the screens but unless everyone does the same, what would be the point.

All of this is academic except that last night I viewed the fourth image on a Lenovo tablet and it looked like an explosion in a paint factory.  I have a tendency to over-saturate and my Fuji X100s is set up to emulate Fujichrome Velvia which, as it says on Wiki, “many see its high color saturation as unrealistic”. Hence the original question – do you see what I see – we will never know (the motorcycle was taken with a smartphone, there being nowhere convenient to carry a camera on this particular set of wheels):

Rowan berries ... Today is a dull day ... Call of the Wild ... Early morning rain ... Autumn, a time for ... Pots and Paws ...