Waterfalls and fireworks

Saturday morning and I’m up ready for some waterfall shooting, have arranged with my son a trip to the Brecons to capture some waterfalls along the river Neath, or to give it it’s Welsh name, Nedd Fechan. The Nedd Fechan flows from below Fan Nedd out to the sea just west of Port Talbot, but the bit I’m interested in lies above the small village of Pontneddfechan. The place where we normally park the car is named Pont Melin-fach, a smallish car park with room for 15 cars, beside the car park is a picnic area, which in summer can be a bit busy, especially at weekends, Sat Nav address, Heol Calch, Neath, SA11 5US.

 
 Location map

Location map

We set off about 10 oclock, Tom, myself and the two doggies, the weather was to be overcast and a bit windy, the overcast bit of the forecast was fine, if the sun keeps going in and out behind clouds the long exposures that I shoot for waterfalls are tricky because of the changing light. The windy bit was bothering me a bit, too much wind would blur the leaves in a long exposure, maybe because we were to be in valley it wouldn’t be too bad.

Driving over the second Severn crossing the traffic seemed heavy, and upon reaching the toll booths the queues were quite bad, i’m normally a lot earlier when visiting Wales and there isn’t much queuing. 12 minutes of queuing later we’re off again, anyone who has ever watched the Wackyraces cartoon will understand the exit of the toll booths, 15 booths into 3 lanes of motorway, everyone trying to get to the 3 lanes as quick as they can!! As we near Newport and the Brynglas tunnels, traffic seems really heavy, we’re down to 10 mph, the smart motorway signs are saying 40, very optimistic today, then the penny drops, There is an rugby international on today with the Welsh entertaining the Jocks at the Principality Stadium, overall the traffic delays cost us about an extra 45 minutes.

Finally we arrive at the Pont Melin-fach car park, luckily for us the 50 or so hikers on a guided waterfall walk have just passed us at the car park, meeting those hikers on the narrow trail with two dogs could have been interesting or chaotic. On opening the car boot the dogs are straight out and into the river, they both love water, boots on and we’re off, it’s an out and back walk today. Now we’ve both been here before and shot the falls, todays plan is simple walk down the trail for about a mile then work our way back up stopping to capture the falls. The trail isn’t too muddy today, some days it can be a bit wet, its not a difficult walk not very steep but quite rocky with some loose rocks that you have to be careful of. Walking down there is a bit of water on the river the falls are thunderous in the noise that the water going over them is making, unfortunately the leaves are on the deck not the trees, again i’m too late for autumn colours! Upon reaching my favourite horseshoe shaped fall I’m disappointed to see 3 rather large trees wedged across it, won’t be shooting that fall for a while, I haven’t been here for a couple of years so I don’t know how long these trees have been here, they’ve been In the river a while as the bark is missing from them!

 
 ISO 100, f11, 1.5 seconds 3 image focus stacked

ISO 100, f11, 1.5 seconds 3 image focus stacked

 

First ‘fall’ we shoot is only a small one, I kinda like the fallen tree lying across the river, it gives sense of scale to this small fall, you can see by the leaves on the rocks, that they had turned and fallen early, one consolation today is that there is very little wind in the valley. The image is a 3 image focus stack with an exposure time of 1.5 seconds for each image, by focus stacking the image I can achieve sharpness throughout the image with out risking diffraction by using a smaller aperture.

 
 ISO 100, f11, 4 seconds

ISO 100, f11, 4 seconds

 

The above image is another small fall, the river is made up of small falls like this, rapids, some slower glides, pools and proper falls. In this image you can see that the water has polished the bedrock, there is a deposit of iron in the rock and this can be seen in the image as an iron oxide, the red coloured rock, the shallower water over the polished rock has eroded away the iron oxide.

 
 ISO 100, f11, 1o second

ISO 100, f11, 1o second

 

In the above image the fall is about 5 feet tall its at the end of a rapid which can be seen near the top of the right hand side of the image, the fall drops into a shallow pool before heading off down river.

 
 ISO 100, f11, 15 seconds

ISO 100, f11, 15 seconds

 

This fall is 30 metres above the fall in the last image, The fall is between 15 -18 feet tall and sits in a horseshoe of carved out rock, being this close to the fall is quite noisy, it really does sound thunderous as the noise bounces off the walls around you, would be quite interesting to see this in flood, but obviously from the top!

 
 ISO 100, f11, 10 seconds

ISO 100, f11, 10 seconds

 

This is the last fall I shot and it one of the few falls to have a name on the Nedd, its name is Scwd Ddwli, the fall is about 20 feet tall, its a nice curtain fall, it would have been a really nice image if the tree to the left still had its autumn colours, ah well maybe next year i’ll get up here when the trees still have leaves. All in all a pleasant day on the edge of the Brecon’s, now the 85 mile drive home to look forward too and the prospect of shooting some fireworks in the evening.

 

The weather is looking iffy, drizzle is falling, not really weather for shooting fireworks, pointing a lens upwards into the night sky with drizzle falling is going to produce very soft images! After much deliberation Tom and I decide to go to the fireworks and if we can’t shoot them we’ll enjoy watching them. When we get to the fireworks the drizzle has stopped, great we can break out the gear and set up, bugger, I've forgotten my glasses, tonight it could be spray and pray photography! After the fireworks started it became clear that we were too close for some of the fireworks, some were filling up and even going beyond the frame, we had to settle on capturing the ones that were going off at a lower level. My standard go to setting for shooting fireworks are ISO 100, f8 and 2 seconds shutter speed, so the following images are shot at those settings.

 
_CD18354-2.jpg
 
_CD18366-2.jpg
 
_CD18383-2.jpg

I was quite tired come the end of the display, it had been a fun day shooting the waterfalls and fireworks, planning the next photo trip which will probably be next Friday, the 9th of November.

In Wales in search of waterfalls

Upon waking this morning it was obvious that the sky was going to light up, a belly of fire looked a nailed on cert, the only issue I had was that I was on call until 8 AM. As I stood at the back door and watched the sky go a lovely shade of pink I contemplated where I was going to go with the camera, somewhere I could walk Spot the dawg as well. I had originally thought about going to Dartmoor, there is so much potential in that place to get some seriously good images and lots of exploring and good walking, but you need the weather on your side, all too often the weather closes in and you can’t see a thing. Today it was according to the forecast, going to be blue skies, not really any good for the classic grand vista shot, I hate blue skies, so where else could I go? Pondering where to go while munching on me Frosties, I decided that I hadn’t been waterfall hunting for a while, only one place to go waterfall hunting near me, The Brecons!

 

I’ve shot a few waterfalls in south Wales, but there are so many falls in the Brecon Beacons that I haven’t visited, many of them won’t be worth shooting I know but it’ll be a good walk and Spot loves water. There is one place that I’ve been to on two occasions previously but I've never gone up the river to explore the ‘falls’ that the Ordinance Survey map shows are on the river. Ok that's where i’m off too, a little river named Caerfanell which is at a place called Blaen-y-glyn, the river drops about 1400 feet from up high on the hills to where I parked the car and it drops another 250 feet into the Talybont reservoir.

 O/S map of Blaen-y-glyn

O/S map of Blaen-y-glyn

 

Blaen-y-glyn is quite easy to find, you turn off the A40 between Brecon and Bwlch and head towards Talybont-on-Usk, crossing over the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal you stay on the road that passes the reservoir for about 5 and a half miles to the car park, you don’t need a camera to visit this lovely part of Wales, just walk and enjoy the fantastic scenery. From the car park the first few hundred yards is a steady uphill climb along a forestry track, which today is quite wet, not surprising really after last weekends rain. Last weekend the River Usk down the road at Crickhowell was at least a hundred yards wide in places, glad i’m here now? might have been a bit of a push on last weekend!!

_CD17996-Edit.jpg

The image above was the first ‘fall’ I stopped at, now I've shot this ‘fall’ previously sometime last year I think, or it might have been earlier this year? like I said earlier in this blog I've been here twice before. I got the settings all wrong, I was rushing a bit to get the shot before the people I had just passed got into the shot. School boy error number one was not Checking my ISO, the last shot I took on Thursday night was at ISO 1600, an ISO i’d only shoot in very poor light or Darkness. The image is quite soft as I've had to add quite a lot of noise reduction to get a usable image for this blog.

 

Compositionally today was going to be a challenge, there was a small amount of breeze that was moving leaves a bit too much for my couple of seconds exposures, but its not all about the images, the walk with the dog is just as important!

_CD18008-2.jpg

I love the colours of Autumn, if the tree in the foreground had been full of leaves and I could have isolated it a bit better it would have made a really good image, I couldn’t get to the other side of the river, my boots are very comfortable and waterproof but trying to walk on wet rocks I end up doing an impression of Bambi on ice!! Many of the images I capture I revisit at some point to see if I can improve on the original, watch this space!

 
_CD18009-Edit-2.jpg

Moving to one side removed most of the tree and slowing down the shutterspeed improves the look of the water to a milky blur. The image is focus stacked, that is to say it is 3 images blended together in Photoshop, with a busy scene like this one I tend to focus stack to get the image as sharp as possible. The 3 shots consist of one focusing on the foreground, in this case on the rock in the bottom righthand corner, the second place I focussed was in the midground, just to the right of the waterfall on the rock, finally the third image was focussed on the tree up on the hill, this is an image for web use so the resolution is low, but the full resolution image is tack sharp throughout.

 
_CD18016-Edit-2.jpg

This is the final image I shot today, another focus stacked image, It’s only a mile and a quarter from the car, but I've climbed up 600 or so feet up what at times was no more that a sheep track, its been boggy in places from the rain we had last weekend, Spots enjoyed himself (he’s currently flat out on his chair as I write this). All I have to do now is descend back down to the car with my dodgy knee and drive the 73 miles home, all in all a good day of recon, no Portfolio worthy images, but some nice images all the same, Blaen-y-glyn I’ll be back.

A return to Dartmoor, recon trip

In the last blog, I visited Dartmoor with a specific iconic location chosen, on this trip I planned to drive around and see if I could find locations to capture images, maybe not this trip but certainly future trips.

Although I planned to drive around Dartmoor, it was sort of planned, I spend a lot of time reseaching an area, I spend hours looking at Ordinance Survey maps looking for interesting features, then I check out Google earth using street view to see if the location can be seen from the road (especially useful for hills and mountains), also useful is searching for images of a possible location online, it's amazing how many images there are online of places i'd like to shoot.

First location was Wheal Betsy, located alongside the A386 between Okehampton to Tavistock, Wheal Betsy is the skeletal remains of an former engine house that served a local mine, the mine produced Lead, Zinc and Silver from the 1740's through to 1867, the mine closed and reopened several time in it's lifetime. The remains of Wheal Betsy are the only remaining example of a mine engine house left standing in Dartmoor national park, it has a crooked chimney that looks like it could topple in the next storm, the Oak lintels holding up the stone walls look in amazing condition for their age. This location looks like it could work well with a cloudy moody sky and shot in black n white, not so sure about sunset as its in a bit of a valley.

 

 Wheal Betsy

Wheal Betsy

After leaving the Wheal Betsy the vistas really opened up, there are granite tors every where, you could easily shoot from the roadside with the 200mm lens and get some good images with the right lighting conditions. I reckon I would need a day to walk around and explore each Tor for compositions and there are lots of Tor's, maybe a couple of years of photographing them?

I stopped for an ice cream in a car park on the B3357 Tavistock to two bridges road, where I spotted Vixen Tor, it was cloudy but every now and again the sun broke through and sunlight would move across the land and light up the Tors. I decided that I would try and get some light on the nearby Vixen tor. I chose to shoot the Tor from a way off because the land it sits in is private property and you can't get close to it. I set up the 70- 200mm lens and composed the image at 200mm and waited for the gorgeous sunlight to light up the Tor and I waited, and waited, and waited and the clouds rolled in and snuffed out the sunlight, that's the thing with landscape photography, it's about the timing and my timing was off today, so I didn't get any sunlight hitting the tor, sure I could have waited longer but I chose to move on to look at other locations.

 

 Vixen Tor

Vixen Tor

Next stop was a comfort break at Dartmeet, another location with potential, Dartmeet is where the east and west river darts meet, I just had a quick look, the water level was as you'd expect after the dry spell we've been having quite low, but I saved the location into the Sat Nav for a future visit.

 


Next it was time to find somewhere to eat, having driven past a few pubs I came across the Old Inn which is in the lovely village of Widecombe-in-the-moor. The village sits at the bottom of a steep valley, the roads in and out both ramp up to 20%, chugging up and out of the valley later I though to myself I'm glad that I wasn't riding the bike up the hill. 

 The Old Inn, Wide-combe-in-the-moor

The Old Inn, Wide-combe-in-the-moor

 Evening meal of burger n chips

Evening meal of burger n chips

My meal of burger n chips was nice and well priced and it arrived quickly after I ordered it, the pub wasn't that busy so I wasn't surprised. I would recommend this pub if anyone reading this blog and down this way, check out the website @ www.theoldinnwidecombe.com


After my meal it was on to another location at Emsworthy rocks, I was told about this place by fellow landscape photographer Rich McKinley, check out his work  RMAC Images Photography on Facebook. From the car park it was a 20 minute walk up to the location I wanted to capture, I arrived 2 hours before sunset, although I didn't think sunset would produce any colour as the lovely clouds that had been around all afternoon were now disappearing fast. After 20 minutes of hanging around and taking a few images for a future visit I decided to call it quits on the recon trip, it had been a good trip, but I was now tired and had a 90 mile drive home.

 Emsworthy rocks

Emsworthy rocks

Dartmoor I will return...……………………………………...

First of many trips to Dartmoor

Yesterday evening, Tuesday 26th of June, Tom and I, along with the dogs set off to Dartmoor for what we hoped would be some sunset photographs, the sky was blue with no clouds so we didn't expect to get any vibrant or even subtle pink skies. 

The plan was to set off after work and drive the 85 miles down to our chosen location of Bowerman's nose on Dartmoor, we also needed to get something to eat. The temperature sensor in the car was reading 32 degrees, the dogs were hot so I detoured to a little pub I know that sits on the Teign river. The pub is the Fingle bridge inn, near to the village of Drewsteignton, which is situated in the northern Dartmoor national park and roughly 10 -12 miles from Exeter.

 

 

 Fingle bridge Inn shot from Fingle bridge

Fingle bridge Inn shot from Fingle bridge

After letting the dogs cool down in the river for 10 minutes, we decided on a ham and cheese ploughmans for dinner, followed by Raspberry cheesecake, now I've got a sweet tooth and I would go to the 'Fingle' just for the cheesecake!!!!! 

IMG_0072.jpg

Fingle bridge is a great place to take a walk as you can walk both banks upstream of the bridge and then reward yourself with something nice to eat from the pub, check out the pub @ www.finglebridgeinn.co.uk

 Fingle Bridge

Fingle Bridge

After being suitably fed and watered we set off to our chosen location of Bowerman's nose, which resides on the northern slopes of Hayne down, close to the village of Manaton. When we arrived and parked the car we could see Bowerman's nose but not an easy path to it up through the gorse and ferns, after a short while of trying to pick our way through the Gorse ( must remember to wear long trousers next time) we get to the 'nose'. Already there was another photographer (Richard McKinley) ready to capture a sunset, chatting to Richard about the location we learnt that despite on living down the road in Newton Abbot it was his first visit up to the 'nose'. Richard was very knowledgeable about Dartmoor and Devon and soon I had quite a few places in my head where I could visit to get some images. Check out Richard's FB page at rmacimages to see his work with the camera and lens.

 

 Bowerman's nose

Bowerman's nose

Bowerman's nose is a stack of weathered Granite, it stands about 6.6 metres tall (about 21.5 feet in old money) strewn all around it are Granite blocks that are known as 'clitter' these blocks are the remnants of the tor that would have surrounded the 'nose' before erosion revealed what we can see today.

As expected the sky was blue and the setting sun on the horizon didn't really kick off, but I did get an image of the 'nose' that I was pleased with and it was great to meet Richard and chat about Photography, the Dogs had a good walk, Tom enjoyed himself and he's probably got some good images. Thank you Dartmoor, we will return...…………………………………………………………...

RCD16124-Edit.jpg

Whats in my bag?

Its been a while since the last blog I posted, there just hasn't been that much to write about, not much photography, the weathers been poor, or I've been ill. The last two trips out have been a long boggy walk with a few images followed by a long boggy walk back, hardly worth blogging about, so I thought I'd share what I take out with me on my long walks.

IMG_4019.JPG

So what do I take? firstly the bag, my bag is a Manfrotto off road photography 30 litre bag, it has a padded compartment to protect the camera equipment, this padded compartment can be removed to make the bag into a normal bag. It has several useful pockets on the outside and a useful main compartment at the top of the bag. The bag is very comfortable on your back, the total weight is around 8 Kgs when full but it doesn't feel that heavy due to the suspension of the straps.


A new addition to my equipment is some lightweight carbon fibre Trekking poles, these attach to the outside of the bag with some elastic cords when not needed. I've been meaning to add some of these for a while and now that I have them I'm not disappointed with them, the question I had about buying them was would I use them? Well the answer is a big yes, once you have got used to using them they really do help with your walking especially uphill and with my dodgy left knee going down the steep paths they should help me no end.

 
IMG_4024.JPG

The camera that I use for my photography is a Canon 7D Mark2, it is a 20 mp crop sensor camera, I would like a full frame sensor an acquisition I hope to make later this year or early next year. A full frame camera will allow more light to hit the sensor, enabling me to get better quality images in the low light situations at sunrise and sunset. That said the 7D produces more than acceptable images, its not all about the megapixels, more megapixels mean you can enlarge your prints to a larger size, but if you get the focus right and your image is sharp and you have no need to enlarge your images to stupid sizes, a low Megapixel count is no drawback, cheaper cameras will get acceptable images.

Attached to my camera is a Kirk L bracket, this piece of kit is really handy, it fits the Swiss Arca quick release head on my tripod, with the tripod levelled up it takes seconds to change the camera from landscape view to portrait, which helps with compositon in  quick changing light, sometimes the light is like a fart in the wind, it doesn't stay for long! One thing you will notice is that there is no strap on my camera, they just blow about in the wind and clause camera shake.


IMG_4022.JPG

For a while my go to lens was the Canon 24-105 f4l series lens, a brilliant bit a kit but with as with all of my lenses designed to be used on a full frame sensor camera, fitting my lenses to my crop sensor 7D MK2 effectively changes the focal length of the lens by 1.6 so the minimal focal length on the 24-105 is 38.4 mm. This causes problems with being too close too compositions sometimes, another reason why I need a full frame camera! The 24-105 lens still has its uses for me in the 35-70mm range and that why its still in my bag.

IMG_4023.JPG

The next lens in my bag is the 16-35mm f4l series lens, this is the latest lens to live in the bag, actually its the lens that lives on the camera more than the others. This lens I use for the compositions I can't get close to with the 24-105, it is also sharper that the 24-105, the reason that it is on the camera body more than the 24-105. Of course the crop factor make the 16mm, a focal length of 25.6mm, which is closer to the 24mm on a full frame camera.

IMG_4020 (2).JPG

The third and final lens in my bag is the Canon 70-200mm f4l series lens, sometimes in landscape photography you need to pull in detail from distant objects and not shoot the wide open vistas, this lens is perfect for grabbing those shots. All the lenses in my bag are fitted with an adaptor ring which allows me to attach a filter holder so I can use neutral density filters ( so I can slow down the shutter speeds), graduated filters ( these enable me to balance the exposure between the sky and the land) and a polarizing filter (removes glare from water). 

 My bag of filters

My bag of filters

 
IMG_4026.JPG

Another bag that lives in my bag is my accessories bag, this includes a spare camera battery (cold weather kills camera batteries), a head torch, a wireless remote (always best not to touch the camera when taking an image if possible), spare batteries for the wireless remote, lens cleaning kit and spare memory cards.


Other items in my bag include a first aid kit complete with a foil blanket ( you never know if you're going to get caught out on a moor or mountain, better to be prepared), waterproof trousers, warm gloves, microfiber cloths for drying kit and because Spot comes with me, pooh bags.

And although it doesn't live in or on the bag, my tripod always comes with me, its got a strap that frees up my hands for walking with the trekking poles.

IMG_4027.JPG

Peace :)

Fudged photohoot update

In my last blog, I talked about a photoshoot that I had just done for my friend Caroline. last Sunday saw me back down with Caroline reshooting the fudge. The first shoot of the fudge didn't look right when it came to building the website, so Caroline asked me if I could reshoot the fudge, this time we kept it simple and now its up on Caroline's site. As promised in my last Blog I said that I would put up the link to Caroline's site when it was up - Exmoor fudge kitchen

 

I've fallen behind with my blogging lately :-( I have a stinking cold so this weekend there won't be anything to go out and blog about. I am trying to plan a trip to the Peak district soon, hopefully I'll blog about the trip here on the site when I have done it!

Peace :-)

A fudged photoshoot

A few months back a friend of mine Caroline who makes the most delightful fudge said to me that she was going to change the name of her website, the range of fudge she makes had grown from the 16 flavours she had to 30+ and she wanted to have Exmoor in the name. I said that I would take the images for her new website, now Caroline is a busy lady when it comes to fudge, she is out most weekends at a farmers market or a show somewhere, so tying down a time to shoot the fudge was going to be tricky, but we managed to set aside yesterday to shoot some fudge. 

 

I got to Caroline's around 2pm, not knowing how long shooting a few bits of fudge was going to take, couldn't be that long surely? I had prepared a few things beforehand, I made a little cardboard set with a silver grey travertine tile to shoot the fudge on and Caroline had been busy making all of her fudge flavours. I planned to shoot the fudge tethered to my new laptop (subject for another blog when I've used it a bit more), photographing this way shows me quickly if the image is sharp and exposed properly, a lot easier than squinting at the LCD screen on the camera. After a few minor connection issues, I was ready to shoot some fudge :-) Those of you that know me will know I have an extremely sweet tooth, so resisting eating the fudge was going to be challenging, but not a morsel of fudge passed my lips.

 
IMG_3930.JPG

The above image is the set up I used to shoot the fudge, my nice little set to place the fudge on, the flash gun was set up to bounce the flash off of the ceiling thus minimising the shadows in the image, I would have liked some more lighting and reflectors, I had an LED lamp (the blue one in the image) but even on a low setting it was too bright. If I was going to do more of this sort of photography I would invest in some lower powered LED lighting and some reflectors, maybe I will if I get asked to do more of this photography. Once I had set the flash output to find the exposure I wanted, it was a matter of shooting a couple or three images of each fudge flavour and Caroline arranging the fudge for each image. 

 

After shooting the fudge came the task of editing, it was always the plan to have the whole thing wrapped up while I was there, I didn't want to come away and have to send the images back down to Caroline. Caroline had said before hand that she would provide an evening meal for me, an what a excellent meal it was, the best beef casserole I think I've ever eaten followed up by apple n blackberry crumble with custard. Back to the editing, Caroline's web guy had asked for a certain image resolution, so firstly I had to crop the images to the same size and then export them as 3 megapixels jpegs. The darker fudge was quite easy to process in lightroom, getting the white and lighter coloured fudge looking how I wanted was a lot more tricky, but I got to a point where I was relatively happy with the images and more importantly Caroline was happy with them.

 Blackcurrant Fudge

Blackcurrant Fudge

The blackcurrant fudge in the above image is my absolute favourite flavour, this is the finished image for Caroline's new website, if I could shoot this again I would hunt down a ceramic jug for the milk, the flash bounced of the ceiling does a good job overall but the reflection of the milk in the jug makes the jug look a bit unsightly.

 

I enjoyed my visit to Caroline and her husband Chris, lovely people in a lovely part of the country, you can check out Caroline's old web site thehightearoom.com which is available for a few more weeks and the new website Exmoor fudge kitchen will go live soon, I will update this blog when it is live, also Caroline has a fb page for the old site and I expect that she will have a new fb page for the new name as well :-)

Peace :-)

Sod Brian, I'm off to Wells cathedral

This weekends weather is pants, storm Brian is going to hit us with 60 mph plus gusts at some point today, update: sounds like he's here out there in the dark literally knocking on my door, the door knocker is a knocking. With the weather looking so poor I don't think there will be shots of autumn foliage this weekend, I might search out a rough sea image tomorrow, high tide is going to happen with the tail end of Brian, fingers crossed.

My boy Tom is up for shooting in the cathedral, we've shot the outside a few times, normally in the dark when the cathedral is lit up and there are few people around. I've been inside a few times for the ordination of friends into the church of England but never to photograph. At the entrance we are reminded that there is no flash photography allowed inside the cathedral, doesn't bother us because we are hopefully going to shoot focus stacked and bracketed shots for HDR images. Focus stacking is something I've tried before with out much success, hopefully shooting images to stack inside will prove more successful, I plan to shoot one image focused on the foreground, one focused on the mid-ground and the final one focused on the background. I've had more success with the HDR images that I have shot, today inside the cathedral the lights not too bad, so I will shoot one image perfectly exposed, one image one stop under exposed and one image one stop over exposed. All shots will have to be taken on a tripod today, I want to use ISO 100, I don't want to much noise in my images, the higher the ISO the more noise (grainy looking)

 

wells cathedral.jpg

The above image of some steps leading up to upper floor rooms on the north side of the cathedral was shot using the focus stacking method, three focus points were used and then blended together to achieve the final image using photoshop. The image is quite sharp front to back or would be if you were looking at the full resolution image, unfortunately this is a low res image you are looking at. Compositionally its not right, if you look at the left hand side you can see by the wear on the steps that lead up from the door way, this is where I would have liked to stand, standing in a doorway trying to shoot 3 images is not fair on others who want to use the door. When shooting in a busy public place you have to expect that you will be in the way of people, now some people wait or walk around you and some people just photobomb!

 Organ pipes

Organ pipes

A quick bit of history about the organ at the cathedral, the original organ was built in 1664 by Robert Taunton, it was rebuilt in 1786 by Samuel Green, then in 1857 Henry Willis built a new organ but retained some of the original parts. In 1910 a virtually new instrument was built again some of the old parts were used again by Harrison & Harrison, who did work on the organ again in 1973, at that time a new case around the pipes was built. The image was shot using 3 images then converting them into an HDR image using lightroom, with light coming in at the side through the windows it was not possible to capture the shot in one, blending 3 into 1 was the best way to get the image I wanted.

 The crucifixion

The crucifixion

Again I chose to shoot the above image as an HDR image, the tricky side lighting again made it difficult to get it in one, so three shots were again blended together picking out the best bits to form one image. Focus stacking wasn't an option as I had nothing in the foreground to focus on, instead this time I closed the aperture down to f14 to improve the acceptable sharpness of the roof detail and the pipes in the background. Compositionally it was easy to go with the symmetry of the cathedral, shooting upwards also removes the unintentional photobombers.

 The amazing roof detail

The amazing roof detail

The final image of this blog is one of the roof, looking up at this wonderful bit of architecture it is plain to see that it wasn't built by Persimmon homes, In fact this building took several hundred years to build by many generations of stonemasons. Today it still has a team of stonemasons who work on replacing the damaged and worn stone all year round, the cathedral needs £4500 a day to look after the buildings upkeep, if you are in the area or live nearby plan yourself a visit, a small donation is all that's required to have a look around the inside of this amazing building.

Peace :-)

Yellow is the colour

Yesterday evening, a walk with the dogs was needed, I'd missed Monday evening's nice sunset, so armed with the camera off to the beach we headed, just in case another came along tonight.

On arrival at the sea front it was clear that sunsets aren't like buses, they don't come along one after another! The tide was in, good job I'd remembered a towel to dry the dogs, but it was on its way out and quite ruff, sorry dog humour haha.

The tides rough, the suns not playing ball, it's playing hide and seek with the clouds or more hide than seek as it turns out, there must be an image on the beach somewhere. With the sky looking like it does I'm thinking black n white, there are plenty of posts on the beach that are in the tide and with the tide receding I'll have to be quick finding the image.  

simking mud 2.jpg

A quick composition shot to see if my idea might work, the above image was shot at 1/15th second @ 84mm, f8, ISO100, in the image the sign is yellow but the sky is bright enough to fool the camera into back lighting the sign. I could have used spot metering and metered on just the sign but then I run the risk of blowing the sky, I was reasonably happy with the exposure and I know that I'm going to be shooting quite a long exposure, a minute or more.

simking mud 1.jpg

Next image captured was shot at 78 seconds @ 80mm, f8, ISO100, the length of the exposure, 78 seconds has smoothed out the sea and blurred the clouds, again I've used evaluative metering. As you can see if you compare the two images, the sky in the second image is a lot brighter than the first image, this is because the shutter was open for 78 seconds and let a lot more light in. The more observant of you will notice that this image is a colour image and not the black n white image I set out to capture, that I will achieve in post processing using Adobe Lightroom.  

simking mud.jpg

The final image in this blog was shot at 116 seconds@ 80mm, f8, ISO100, it didn't quite come out as I planned, but this was an experiment of sorts. The image using Lightroom was stripped of all of it's colour but the yellow, it would have worked quite well if the sky hadn't had a band of yellow from the setting sun in, you can see that a portion of the sky has a band of a very, very pale yellow in it. Perhaps if I hadn't boosted the yellow too much, the sky might have looked better, but I wanted the punch of the yellow sign in the image, alternately I could have processed the image in Photoshop, I'm not that good with Photoshop and it would have taken me much longer to process the image.

I'll have another go at this sort of processing as i'd like to get it right. 

Peace :-)

In search of a little colour

So after yesterdays standby, in which I only had a small call out in the morning, today I awoke to a damp dreary grey skies day, not ideal for good photography. Last night we babysat little granddaughter Callie and the plan was to hand her back around lunchtime, Marian said find us somewhere to walk, so as it was grey skies outside I plumped for Westonbirt Aboretum, bound to be some colour there as it is Autumn and the leaves are a changing.

Westonbirt is only 50 mins up the road, so we set off around 10:30, not a cat in hells chance of getting her back for lunchtime, haha. It was packed by the time we got there, we were in the overflow car park, Westonbirt is open all year apart from Christmas day, but Autumn has to be the time to visit if you like to see trees in autumnal colours. Not much in todays blog about camera settings, just the pictures to look at, they're hand held shots so the quality is not great as the wind was ruffling the leaves.

westonbirt.jpg
westonbirt-2.jpg
westonbirt-3.jpg
westonbirt-4.jpg
westonbirt-5.jpg
westonbirt-6.jpg
westonbirt-7.jpg

Just a few of the images I captured today, I hope to return before the end of Autumn when it's less busy ( hopefully on a weekday) and find a really good image for my portfolio

Peace :-)

Little time for photography

This last week has been a busy one, with work and the weather getting in the way of getting out and finding an image or two, this time of year when the days are getting shorter adds to the challenge.

If the weather is right at either end of the day, I might get a shot after work as I’ve got a couple of hours before sunset, but as I have to start work at 8 I don’t have any time before work to get a sunrise. So now the best time of getting any images of is at the weekend, but not this weekend, with my job I have to do standby once a week and this week it is today, on call until 8am tomorrow morning! So possible to get images tomorrow providing I don’t get called out all night and if the rain holds off, hopefully I’ll get out at some point tomorrow.

So it’s been a busy week at work, what have I been up to in the evenings? Well I desperately need to lose some weight and get some fitness back, managed to get out on my bike Tuesday evening, boy that was hard work. When the evenings get darker earlier I’ll concentrate on riding the bike more through the week and concentrate on the photography at the weekends. Also this week I’ve been looking at a new wide angle lens, my Canon 7D Mk2 is what’s known as a crop sensor camera, not going into lots of detail basically this means that the focal length on my lenses has to be multiplied by 1.6. Effectively the 24mm end of my 24-105 lense becomes 38.4mm when it’s attached to my camera, this means that to get some images I have to be further away than I would like to be. It is not always possible to stand in the ideal place so some compositions I like the look of, don’t get caught in the camera which is a shame and something I intend to put right by purchasing the Canon 16- 35mm f4L Lens, at 16mm this lens will give me a focal length of 25.6mm, much closer to 24mm. I intend to upgrade to a full size sensor camera at sometime in the next year, eliminating the crop sensor issue making the 24mm a true wide angle and the 16mm closer to an ultra wide angle.

Also this week I’ve been looking at a computer, my laptop is getting on a bit, it doesn’t really have enough umph to run lightroom and photoshop smoothly. At first glance the Apple Imac looks like a contender, a real bit of bling but do you get a good deal for you pounds? Well no not really, the iMac is made from (apart from the screen) off the shelf computer parts. I configured an iMac with my basic needs, came out at £1667 without any aftercare insurance, that was another £155. So I then configured a windows based system, the desktop solution I came up with had the same amount of memory, same amount of storage, 3 years comprehensive warranty, a bigger screen and a faster I7 processor all for £1112. I would like two monitors, it is better if you can look at your images as large as you can make them and having the image on a separate 24 inch monitor rocks,  being £500 cheaper that the iMac, I could have my two monitors for £300 less than the iMac. Calibration of a windows monitor is also easier than calibrating an iMac, calibration is important because I need to see the finished image on screen as it will appear in print.

Until the next blog, peace😊

Camera settings

A boring sky again today, rain forecast for this afternoon, no enthusiasm today, so I thought I'd blog about the settings I generally use when I'm photographing.

   My gear, Canon EOS 7D Mk 2, Canon EF 24-105 f4 L series lens, Vanguard Alta Pro carbon fibre tripod and a cheap, but does the job fine, wireless remote, my go to set up for most of my photography  .

My gear, Canon EOS 7D Mk 2, Canon EF 24-105 f4 L series lens, Vanguard Alta Pro carbon fibre tripod and a cheap, but does the job fine, wireless remote, my go to set up for most of my photography.

I've got this Acer in a pot in the back garden, so I thought I'd shoot a few example images to show how I get the images I do.

IMG_3856.JPG

In the above image you can see the selector switch on my camera, the switch is set to m (manual mode) it is the setting I use for 99% of my landscape photography, I have control over the camera, I set the ISO, aperture and the shutter speed. Some times I use the B (bulb mode) for exposures long than 30 seconds, again I have the control of the camera. AV (aperture priority), I use this mode for stuff that is moving about, ie: Spot the dog, generally slow moving things, In this mode I set the aperture, the ISO, and the camera sets the shutter speed. TV (shutter priority) I use this mode for fast moving stuff like cars and planes, this time I set the ISO, the shutter speed and the camera sets the aperture. The p mode and the A+ modes are for beginner's and those who just shoot JPEG's and are happy with the images that the camera produces, I shoot in RAW format that allows me to process the images into JPEG's of my choice. Raw is a digital negative it has all the information the camera collected when I took the shot, unlike the JPEG image provided by the camera which has only a fraction of the info left in it.

 Image 1 ISO100, 1/250 second, aperture f4

Image 1 ISO100, 1/250 second, aperture f4

 Image 2 ISO100, 1/100 second, aperture f4

Image 2 ISO100, 1/100 second, aperture f4

 Image 3 ISO100, 1/400 second, aperture f4

Image 3 ISO100, 1/400 second, aperture f4

The 3 images above were shot one exposed correct, one under exposed by 1 stop and one over exposed by 1 stop. The under exposed image has a shutter speed that is one stop greater than the correct exposure shutter speed, the faster the shutter speed, the less light in the darker the image. The over exposed image is the opposite, the slower the shutter speed the more light in to the camera and the lighter the image gets. The other thing with these images is that they are shot at f 4, this aperture gives a shallow depth of field, if you are able on your device to zoom in, you will notice that the leaves on the tree are sharp and the conifer in the back ground is blurred as is the gravel behind the tree, more on depth of field later on in the blog. 

 Image 4 The lcd screen, live view

Image 4 The lcd screen, live view

Image 4 is all about how I use live view to adjust the settings on my camera, firstly I will say that I use the view finder to compose my image, and set the exposure for the shot. I then view the image on the lcd using live view before I take the shot, using live view has a bonus that it locks the mirror up so there is one less vibration to worry about, which is good as a slow shutter speed may cause a blurred picture due to the mirror flipping up as the picture is taken ( my camera has mirror lock up for when I'm not using live view). 

The main reason I use live view is to view the histogram, which if you look at image 4 you will see a white graph which looks a bit like a mountain range, ok its on it's side but you get the idea. The histogram is useful because it can't lie, it is programed to give the same reading time after time, our eyes don't give us a true reading, that's because our brains will adjust our eyes to what it thinks we should be seeing and we're all different, we see things differently. The histogram in the LCD in image is from the correctly exposed image 1, as you can see it just touches each end of the box it sits in, to my eyes the finished JPEG looks like it is a shade too light, might have needed another 1/3 of a stop towards over exposure (something I can do in lightroom, because I'm shooting RAW). When using the histogram I can change the ISO, the shutter speed or the aperture to adjust the histogram when shooting I manual mode, simple really.

 Image 5 ISO 100, f 11, 1/25 second 24 mm

Image 5 ISO 100, f 11, 1/25 second 24 mm

If you compare Image 1 with image 5 you will notice that the back ground is less blurred in image 5 than in image 1, this is because I have increased the aperture from f4 to f11 thus increasing the depth of field, unfortunately the images are of low resolutions so they will not appear pin sharp as the hi resolutions are. So by setting a smaller (higher number) aperture images will look sharper over a distance, I look to shoot most of my landscapes at f11, it gives me the sharpest results for the 24 -105 lens, shooting with an aperture of f16 to f32 you run into problems with diffraction, which I'll leave for another technical blog. 

Peace :-)

SS Nornen

Thankfully I wasn't called out all night, standby is a pain if you've planned to shoot some images and you haven't slept much. I didn't make any plans. Tom and I had loosely said that we might go out, but nothing concrete, I took Spot down to the beach for a walk around 8:30, the weather was flat, the clouds seemed to fill the sky with a flat whitish nothingness. I didn't feel like driving to my fav haunts in search of something to shoot, a bit jaded after the week at work I guess, with the weather I though I might go for a moody black n white image, but where?

As I was on the beach I thought something with a seascape maybe? mulling over some options in my head I thought about the shipwreck on nearby Berrow beach, it might work black n white. So with Tom on board with the idea we set off from mine to the shipwreck around 12.15, it nice that Tom has his own car now, gives me a rest which is nice after all the running him places I've done over the last 24 years. 

On arrival at the beach the sun had come out and the clouds had gone and worst of all the wind had got up, one day the weather will be perfect. I had planned to shoot some long exposures and write about the process in this blog, but the wind killed that idea, no where to hide on a very open beach. So with no grainy black and white Images to talk about, I'll give you some history about the SS Nornen.

The Nornen, a Norwegian Bargue was driven on to Berrow beach by a howling south westerly gale on March the 3rd 1897, but before she ran aground the ships crew of ten plus the ships dog were rescued by the Burham on sea lifeboat which was crewed by 10 brave men who rowed their boat out in to heavy seas to rescue the souls from the SS Nornen. The wreck can be reached easily by walking across the sand when the tide is out, park on the main Berrow beach car park (charges apply during the summer) or walk through the dunes across the golf club as Tom and I did this afternoon.

 Image from the bow of the Nornen, she faces almost directly from the south west, I wish I had included something to give a sense of scale, she is bigger than you would think when you get up close and personal.

Image from the bow of the Nornen, she faces almost directly from the south west, I wish I had included something to give a sense of scale, she is bigger than you would think when you get up close and personal.

 A view of what's left of the stern of the Nornen, I suppose because it's arse is facing the incoming tide, it's taken the brunt of the tide over the last 120 years.

A view of what's left of the stern of the Nornen, I suppose because it's arse is facing the incoming tide, it's taken the brunt of the tide over the last 120 years.

Tom and I plan to go out again and try to get images involving sunset, the tide around her or some moody clouds for a black n white image, all depends on the weather, as usual.

Peace :-)

In search of a golden hour image

Sat at home this evening with Tom and the dogs, we had just had our evening meal of chilli n rice, followed by new York style cheesecake, Marian was away tonight babysitting for No1 stepson, well while the cats away the mice will play.

So with a bit of time spent deliberating the weather, we finally decide on visiting the levels to see if we could get an image of Glastonbury Tor with some colour in the sky. Tom's forgotten his camera, so first stop Tom's house to get his camera, Tom's driving tonight :-) We're running late for our first choice so I make a call on another venue I know about from walking Spot there in the past, but I would have liked to be there 10 minutes earlier than we. Its a mad rush as we scramble down the path, two pooh stops later we're in position for the shoot, the dogs are going potty in the long grass and we missed the best of the light lighting up the Tor, ah well there will be other times.

  1/6th of a second @ 100mm, f8, ISO100

1/6th of a second @ 100mm, f8, ISO100

The above image is disappointing because the clouds didn't want to play ball, all around us the clouds were turning pink, there is some colour in the sky but not what we were after, we had a clear horizon behind us, so if the clouds were high enough it would pink up. But unfortunately the wind had dropped so it wasn't pushing the cloud through to us and our composition as quickly as we would have liked.

  1/4 of a second @ 24mm, f8, ISO100

1/4 of a second @ 24mm, f8, ISO100

The image above is what I mean about what the sky was doing to the left of me, it was also popping to ourright, I wasn't interested on the sky to our right, I was hoping that the clouds in the picture would make it to the Tor before the sun dipped too far below the horizon, but it didn't :-(

So it didn't work out this time, there will be other times I'm sure, I reckon that this location will offer up some good sunrises, especially on frosty or misty mornings and hopefully some better sunsets :-)

The other day I found my Go Pro in the back of a Drawer, and I am thinking of making a Vlog of one of my trips out with the camera, so those of you that read my blog might see my ugly mug grinning at you one day.

Peace :-)

The golden hour at both ends of the day

This morning I remembered to set the alarm, not too early 05:55, sunrise at 06:45 now where to go? In the car at 06:08, looks a bit cloudy over Crook peak, it looks clear to the east where sun gonna make an appearance hopefully, Blagdon lake I reckon, not much wind, hopefully I'll get an image or two! 

Pulling up on the dam wall at the lake, I notice that there is some mist at the far end of the lake, there isn't too much cloud but that could change and did over the next half an hour. I wanted to blur the water slightly, the big stopper was too much, giving me exposure times of around 2 mins. That's great if there was no cloud in the sky but the breeze is rolling in some mist and clouds, too much of blur in the sky, so I try a 6 stop filter, that's giving me exposure times of around 1.6 to 4 seconds, perfect. 

 
Blagdon lake sunrise.jpg

The above image is the best of the bunch, shot at 1.6 seconds @24mm,f13, ISO 100, It became clear as the sun began to rise that it wasn't really going to pop this morning and shortly after I got this image more cloud rolled in and snuffed out the sun. Still I was up and out, you can't shoot images like this from your bed unless you're dreaming about them and then they're better than this!

Let's see if the other end of the day yields anything! 

Originally I had planned to go to the Brecon Beacons today for some photography, but in light of the tragic events in yesterdays awful accident on the M5 near Bristol that closed the motorway and that the motorway was still closed this afternoon. I didn't fancy driving in traffic, sure I was going across the new Severn crossing using the M49 link to the M4 to Wales, as it turns out there was an accident on the exit slipway off of the M4 to the M49 which would have held me up on my way home, this blog would have had to wait til tomorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones, friends and families of yesterdays accident victims on the M5 and to those who are still fighting for life.

Tonight's photo location was a last minute decision, Spot needed a walk as well, so where to go? I have this great little app on my phone that tells me where the sun is going to be at any time of day 365 days a year, tonight the setting sun lined up perfectly with the end of sand point. It's a short walk from the car park to the end, about 2/3rd of a mile, at least some of it's uphill! It doesn't take long to get to the end, it's a walk I've done many times as I used to fish out here on the rocks. The wind has got up from the light breeze this morning, I was hoping for the same light breeze, looks like I'm using a filter again tonight.

 

sand point sunset.jpg

I am pleased that I got a decent image, shooting into the sun is tricky, everything in the foreground is dark because the camera meters for the sky and if you meter for the foreground the sky gets completely blown out (too bright) Camera settings for this image were 8 seconds @32mm, f11, ISO100, but to get the above image it took some processing in Lightroom, mainly dodging(lightening) the foreground and lowering the exposure to the sky to balance, the sea stayed the same as the captured image. Because I shoot in what's called RAW, which is like a digital negative, all the information is captured in the camera and using Lightroom I can adjust the image to how I think it should look.

Until next time, peace. 

Lilstock rocks

I awoke this morning just before 6:30 this morning, hmmm I wonder what the sky was doing outside? typical! almost clear skies with the odd cloud, some cloud to the east where the sun is coming up but she's gonna colour up this morning and I'm not ready for it. I must not look at the forecast and say 'It's not on for the morning' I should just set the alarm and have a look, I can go back to bed if it's not on. Feeling a bit annoyed that I had potentially missed an image, I now had to decide if I was going out, what time is the tide was my first thought, hmmm 16:30, forecast was for sunny spells. I didn't fancy going too far today as I've got a trip to the Brecon's planned for tomorrow, and the sea around here is a dirty brown colour, even more so with the sun out. So I decided that I should give the big stopper a run out (more on that later) Lilstock beach sprang to mind, it faces north, but todays breeze was negligible, first time for ages! A quick text to Tom and it's on, early afternoon should be perfect.

Lilstock is between Hinkley Point power station and Kilve beach, It's SSSI coastal status is due to interest to Geologists and fossil hunters in the early Jurassic lower Lias which is found running from Lilstock to Blue Anchor. Tom picked me up around 12:40 and we took the dogs with us, they could have a swim, we got to Lilstock around 1:30, up on the sea wall it was clear that one of my choices for some images wasn't on, the tide wasn't going to hit it in the time we had allowed to photograph, the old harbour quay it was them.

Lilstock harbour.jpg

The quay, or as it should be called, the breakwater was built around 1820, coal was landed in the harbour at Lilstock from Wales where it was burnt in a lime kiln above the harbour. The return trip to Wales saw the lime produced on site go across the channel along with pit props for the Welsh mines. The harbour and breakwater were abandoned after a storm on the night of the 28/29 of December 1900 and finally destroyed after world war 1. In the above image the breakwater is lying on it's side, in the background the work being done for the new power station can be seen progressing.

History lesson over, back to the photography bit, I shot the image above using the big stopper I mentioned early, oh the big stopper? that's a 10 stop Neutral density filter, it's almost completely black, you wouldn't think light would get though it but it does. I said earlier that is was forecast to be sunny spells this afternoon, this was shot in bright sunlight, I chose an aperture of f16 to combat the bright light, I was shooting at 100 ISO which again was chosen to keep the shutter speed as low as I could get it in the conditions. Presented with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second I picked out the big stopper from my filter case, the 10 stop filter gave me a shutter speed of 10 seconds, perfect!

I like using the big stopper on the images I shoot of the sea around where I live because if the sea is calm enough it tends to make the sea look bluish. ISO100, f16, and 10 seconds @28mm with 2 stops of graduation applied to the sky makes this shot look pretty good, not one for sale due to the work going on at Hinkley.  

Must remember to set the alarm tomorrowjust in case there's a sunrise, hopefully i'll get some good light in Wales tomorrow!

Autumns on it's way😊

Woohoo Autumns on it's way, the leaves at starting to turn, just one small issue, if this bloomin wind doesn't go away all the leaves will be on the ground rotting before they've turned☹️  

I've got this place in mind for some really good images, it's in the vale of Neath, Wales, it's not too hard to get to, two hours by car. But catching the leaves at the right colour and more importantly no bloody wind, is going to be tricky, it could require a few trips no doubt, some of them wasted, but Spot n me will get a good walk.

 

 

IMG_1588.PNG

The above map is the location I want to shoot most of all this Autumn, its in 'waterfall country' I've got some images on this site already, but there is always room for improvement. It's a fantastic place, a special place, I love the waterfalls on the Nedd Fechan, I know that some luck will play into me getting good images, hopefully i'll get them, watch this space.

The trouble with this location is that is quite a few feet above sea level and the leaves could turn quickly if the weather goes cold, visited it twice last year the second time in November with my boy Tom, nearly all the leaves were on the ground when this side of the water they had hardly turned. This year thanks to smartphone apps I will check the area's weather daily, every bit of cold weather will be recorded in a notebook, maybe I can shorten the odds of me getting good images? Still, cold windless days are what I need, slowing waterfalls to a pleasant blur calls for no wind on the foliage.

I would like a really cold snap this winter, maybe that cold that it freezes some of the falls, I've seen images of the area frozen in winter and I like some for my self. 

Future blogs will, where possible include location plans, I would like to give people the chance to visit the locations, to walk around and maybe take pictures.

 

Steam trains and boys again

Last chance today to capture an image or two of the Flying Scotsman on her last trips from Bishop's Lydeard to Minehead and the return journey on The West Somerset railway. I had planned along with Tom too shoot her at some point during her visit to the west country, due to stuff getting in the way along with some bad weather we thought we had missed our chance, that was until yesterday when I managed to blag a day off today.

A simple plan was loosely hatched yesterday evening, a drive down to Blue Anchor, let the dogs run around on the beach and in the field where we planned to shoot from (hopefully no livestock in the field) capture some images and head home. 8:45 AM and we're off, first stop Greggs, they do a bacon, egg and sausage roll with a filtered coffee for £2 before 11:30 AM. Grub n coffee smashed on the drive down to Blue Anchor, two drooling dogs in the back of the car, they'll have to wait for some doggie biscuits.

On arrival at Blue Anchor, hey the tides in, so we can bath the dogs as well, there are a few people wandering about with cameras, we better get a shift on if we're to get a good spot to shoot from. Rushing along the shingle, only stopping twice for doggie toilet breaks, we're soon in the field and we have the spot we want. Condition are sunny then cloudy back to sunny and so on, I suggest to Tom that we shoot Aperture Priority rather than Manual and up the lSO from 100 to 200, doubling the ISO gives us a faster shutter speed for when the clouds cover the sun. With my Aperture set to f11 and an ISO of 200 I'm getting shutter speeds of 1/160th to 1/250th, oh one other thing to mention I'm using a polariser, basically to take some of the shine off the locomotives paintwork, it has the added advantage that if we get some blue skies it will help to deepen the blues and punch the whites.

And here she comes.................. 

RCD11604.jpg

As she trundles across in front of us at 20 MPH I manage to reel off 92 images, I've been careful with my shutter finger, with my camera capable of shooting at 10 frames per second, I could have easily reeled off 300 images, but hey I don't want to spend the rest of the day and night looking at them in Lightroom. In Lightroom i soon throw away the images that are out of focus or have artefacts that detract from the image, after a while I've got 2 or 3 that I'll keep for this blog.

RCD11646.jpg

Back to the field, I know that in another 40 mins there will be another steam train passing by, just enough time to bath the dogs in the sea, there have been cow pats destroyed in the field! I brought a ball with me and after throwing in to the sea for half an hour they're clean :-) 

RCD11680.jpg

The second Locomotive Raveningham Hall trundles by us, we reel off some shots...............

RCD11692.jpg

Ok we've hopefully got some good images, we have two clean tired doggies, time to head for home.

Snowdonia and back in a day

Some people might think I'm a bit mad (those who know me, will know that I am), well it was only 480 miles and 11 hours of driving and a few miles of walking to try and shoot some images in Snowdonia national park. 

Snowdonia_c-typeFujimatt-3.jpg

It was a cloudy day in Snowdonia, with the occasional bit of sun peeking through the cloud and it was quite windy, well we were around 1200 feet above sea level. We (Marian, Spot the dawg and me) were only going to walk up to Llyn Llydaw reservoir, which sits at the foot of mount Snowdon at around 1450 feet, I wanted to capture some images of the Res, I wasn't that optimistic as it was quite windy. The car park at Pen y pass was quite busy, in fact we had to go for drive before someone came out so we could park, it is a popular spot to start a walk up to Snowdon from! At the start of the walk there was a notice on a gate from the ranger,  it gave the conditions at the summit of Snowdon as - poor visibility, 30 mph winds and a wind chill temperature of 2 degrees, Marian was glad we weren't going to the top, oh and it looked a bit steep. On an information board at Pen y pass there was information about the climb to the summit, about an 8 mile there and back hike, about 6 hours roughly.

Our climb up to the Res was only going to be about a mile and a half long, with an elevation gain of 250 feet, so it was easy really, lots of sheep so Spot dawg had to walk on his lead! Upon reaching Llyn Llydaw it was how had feared it would be, a bit to windy, Spot dawg went for his usual swim( he loves water) and I set about looking for an image or two, hopefully with no photobombing dog in it today!

Snowdonia_c-typeFujimatt-4.jpg

In the image above I have shot a long exposure to try and smooth out the water, it doesn't really work, it was a bit too windy and Snowdon is as it was for most of the day veiled in cloud, although I don't mind the cloud on the summit it makes it look moody and menacing. 

Snowdonia_c-typeFujimatt.jpg

Cropping in and putting these rocks in the foreground provides an acceptable image, its not as good as it would be if there was no wind, but that's the challenge of the weather when trying to get the image you want, if it was perfect every day, i'd get fed up of it and go back to riding my bike!

 Another image of Snowdon looking moody, what I like about this image is the stone walled enclosures in the foreground.

Another image of Snowdon looking moody, what I like about this image is the stone walled enclosures in the foreground.

Was the trip worth it? from a walking and driving around Snowdonia yep very enjoyable, images - not so good, but I did learn stuff so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Would I go back? yep but not for a day trip, I would need at least 3-4 days if not a week! Time of year would be important too, I fancy late January early February, Images with snow in them for this area would be most welcome, watch this blog.

photobombing Dog

ok I've got a week off of work and I got some new filters for my birthday, hmmm I need a seascape image I think? So we head off to the south coast, Charmouth to be precise, by we I mean Spot the dog and 'er' indoors Marian. Its only just about an hour to Charmouth from my house, got a bit of a heavy right foot sometimes. Arriving at the car park, I think hmmm lots of people here, kids too (shouldn't they be at school?) walking along the beach nothing is looking like a composition worth shooting and then the sun came out, that settled it, no image here today! I paid the car parking charge of £4, so I spend 20 mins chucking a ball into the river Char for Spot and enjoy an ice cream. 

So no image on the Jurassic coast, but Spot has had a swim in the English channel, hmmmm would he like a dip in the Bristol channel? Tides in at Lynmouth at around 18;00, so not bothered by the distance to Lynmouth, I've got plenty of fuel and nothing to rush home for so off we go. On arriving at Lynmouth, its clear that the kids ain't at school here either and there are a few people around as well. We're hungry now and a quick visit to a near by fish and chip shop sees us refuelled with some excellent food, if you ever find yourself in Lynmouth check out the Esplanade fish bar. I'd like shoot an image of the boats in the harbour, but the waves are rolling into the harbour, too much movement! I do shoot a series of shots of the coastline and I plan to make them into a panorama later.

Ok, so todays photography hasn't gone so well, you have to know that days like this happen! No chance of a sunset tonight with all the heavy cloud, one last chance for an image. The harbour at Porlock weir faces a different direction and the boats might not be battered by the waves, Porlock here we come. Arriving, its perfect, got the composition in my mind, I set up and as usual Spot amuses him self swimming in the sea. Using the new wireless remote I've just acquired I set about shooting some images, surely I have at least one usable image? We have a quick drink at the nearby pub and I review the images, slightly annoyed by the fact that I seem to have a water spot on most of the images, probably from a wet dog running around no doubt, my mood is brightened by the image underneath.

 

Porlock weir_c-typeFujimatt.jpg

Ah well there's always tomorrow!