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Out Their Front Door – Russ Barnes

You are in for a treat today! Coming at you from across the pond is one of my favorite photographers. He has been a long time flickr contact of mine and I finally get to share his talent with you. I could go on and on about Russ Barnes, but that would just take away from the time you have to read about his techniques and creative process. I suggest you quit reading what I have to say and find out why I love the work of Russ Barnes so much!

Russ Barnes

I’m always very excited when someone asks me to contribute to something associated with my photography because a huge part of the process for me is the sharing of images with others. Photography for me is not about collecting a set of memories or even necessarily capturing a precise representation of a scene – it’s more about creating something artistic that elicits an emotional response or opinion from people?

To this end, my chosen subject is landscapes and the techniques I deploy include the use of creative blur utilizing my specialist Tilt Shift lenses, heavy neutral density filters to generate long exposures and the occasional use of Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) to produce very abstract but often very colorful ‘painterly’ images. You’ll also notice that I’m a massive fan of mono too, in fact it’s usually my first choice for a scene.??I very much like the idea of Justin’s concept here of what’s out my front door because living right in the middle of England means that I often feel pretty limited by the type of landscape I can shoot – in truth a lot of it looks pretty similar around here. The nearest beaches are more than 100 miles in any direction from where I live but that can mean a journey of 2 to 4 hours in each direction on British roads. So for the sake of keeping absolutely true to this series, I’ve strictly selected images mainly from the local Warwickshire countryside and certainly no more than 40 miles from my door. The sea is very important to me and features heavily on my website, but living in Warwickshire means that I’m limited to land and trees in particular – so much so that’s I’ve developed a bit of an obsession for trees; they are after all an essential part of our world.

The twelve images I have selected below hopefully go to prove that even if you have a limited landscape to work with, as long as you work hard enough at finding a compelling view and utilize different photographic techniques, you can create an artistic representation of the local environment around you at any time of the year…

I’m going to kick off with the most local of all of my images – this is only a couple of miles from my house. I’m lucky enough to live on the edge of the countryside so can access fields very quickly. This Barley field in combination with the typical British summer time, providing a perfect opportunity for a moody 49 second long exposure with just enough movement within the crop and sky to soften the whole scene… I called this one “Beyond The Red Sea”:

I have what I feel are a few ‘hot’ locations near by where there is a decent variety of scenery to shoot. That includes the local parks we have – never ignore the obvious! Kenilworth’s Abbey Fields in Warwickshire is a place my kids love to visit and it has also doubled as a rich resource for my more abstract images. The two scenes below are both taken with a strong neutral density filter (ND8) to enable a longer exposure time, enough at least for me to deliberately move the camera in a certain way to create an artistic abstract scene. “Day Of The Tree” and “Summer Glory” were both taken on the same trip:

I mentioned earlier that Tilt Shift was also one of the techniques of choice for me. The simple capture of light across a tree in another local park below during Autumn last year is accentuated by the plane of focus that can be applied with the help of my wonderful Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E and 45mm f/2.8 PC-E lenses. I’m pretty much addicted to the whole artistic use of blur as you can probably already tell. “Tree” was taken in Coventry’s War Memorial Park, somewhere I’ve loved since I was a kid…

A little further away from the local parks is Chesterton in Warwickshire. It has heritage reaching back to Roman times, and as well as being steeped in history it also boasts a fabulous more minimalistic landscape and unique Windmill. I try not to shoot here all of the time, but this place offers different views all year around. I think my long exposure “Cloud Surfing” shows the windmill off beautifully here, followed with “The Storm Before The Calm”, taking advantage of the rolling hills, and lastly “The Stone Man” showing of a young Wheat crop in all its glory…

Another big location for me has been Brandon Marsh in Warwickshire. It’s basically a wetland belonging to the local Wildlife Trust but has provided me with a rich resource of landscape images of all types. The first image below “Rise And Fall” was a big hit for me in 2010 winning a National Autumn Shoot competition. The others here are “22 Carat” taken during winter floods (also published) and “March Of The Reeds” another favorite Tilt Shift image of mine:

That brings us down to the last couple I have for you. Slightly further away is a location that has yielded a stunning field of Poppies for the last two years and although they only last a short time, scenes like this provide a welcome splash of color and something different in the year. “Red Heaven” is shot at Blackstone Nature Reserve but really shows that seasonal variations can produce some amazing opportunities:

So last but not least is another of my favorites from 2011 so far. My image “Solo” is another stormy Tilt Shift image of a lone tree, a minor obsession of mine, which I found on The Fosse in Warwickshire. Driving whilst looking at fields instead of the road ahead can be dangerous past time, but often I’m rewarded with something compelling like this…

So there we have it, all local, all less than an hour from my door and all hopefully proving that as a photographer there is a rich world around you out there with bags of artistic opportunity from even the most basic of surroundings. I say make the most your immediate environment because often only you will make the best of it.

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