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Paro Dzong, Bhutan
Phase One XF, 35mm lens, f8 @ 1/1600 second, ISO 160

How many photo books do you have on your shelves at home? I reckon I'd have close to 1000, but I confess that includes several boxes of books still under the house from when we renovated eight years ago!

And how often do you refer to those books for inspiration? It doesn't happen often enough, but sometimes I find myself printing a bunch of images on my Epson SureColor P10070 (with Canson paper, of course) with a little time between prints. So I'll go to my bookshelves and pull out a photo book. You can do the same with a Google search, of course, but what are you going to type into the search bar? And what will Google decide to give you? I think the advantage I have is that I have already chosen the book because I liked the images. Or the approach. Or the technique, the philosophy etcetera. While the images are great, it's the ideas that matter to me.

I'm always looking for inspiration and it was while reviewing one of my books that I decided to revisit black and white with areas of soft focus. Years ago in the darkroom, I'd use translucent plastic held over the print during exposure to create softness in parts of the image. I loved the results, but never felt that I'd really nailed the technique.

At the time, I was heading off to Bhutan with David Oliver and, given it was my fifth trip, I felt I had the space to try something completely new. And I knew David would be fully supportive if I tried something in black and white because he's always telling me how much better it is than the crap colour photos I produce!

The photo of Paro Dzong is one example of the technique. It uses softness over most of the image, which is then rubbed back over selected areas. Obviously I've also pushed the contrast up and I'm enjoying the deep, rich shadows. It's a little different to my usual work and while I haven't completely nailed the technique, I do love this one. It certainly has some mood to it.

So, my suggestion for this week is, what could you try that is a little different? Maybe you'd like to try some high contrast black and white as well? Or maybe we can both convince David Oliver to shoot a little in colour!

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