Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Landscapes

There is no finer way to spend a day in the cold winter weather, than out in that very same cold winter weather. That is if you’re a landscape photographer looking for some striking images. Probably not so advisable if you’re trying to make bread, or raise meerkats, or even sunbathe. But if decent photos are what you’re after, then it’s time to wrap up and get chilly.

As every right thinking person knows, a snowy landscape is a thing of beauty. It doesn’t happen very often though, as despite our sometimes glum weather, the number of days per year we see snow, are quite minimal, particularly in the south of the country. Which makes a snow covered scene something special.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A simple way to create a smooth B&W image

A quick tutorial on taking a fairly flat image and creating a smooth black and white from it using masks and gradients.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dorset Day 2 - Hide & seek in the New Forest

Woke up to the noise of rain sousing the window and I knew immediately, I was not going to get a sunrise shot. So after a leisurely breakfast we decided to take a trip to the New Forest, thinking either the weather might be slightly better inland, or perhaps the trees might offer us some flimsy protection from the deluge.

On the way there we stopped at Kingston Lacy, the two and a half mile avenue of grand beech trees that forms part of the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy Estate. It was planted in 1835 as a gift to his mother Frances by William John Bankes and was the main driveway to their house at Kingston Lacy. The avenue is now reaching the end of its natural life, as beeches only last around 200 years, plus these have had to contend with pollution from traffic on this busy road, so a number of mature trees are being felled each year for safety reasons.

The traffic was pretty much non-stop, so I used it to my advantage and tried to get some traffic trails going,
plus the light was very glum, which didn't show off the trees to their best advantage.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dorset Day 1 - Shameful behaviour under grey skies

Last week I took a quick sojourn down to Dorset, I hadn’t been there for quite a while so I was looking forward to getting some, hopefully, decent coastal shots. I was meeting my occasional photo chum, Sarah, down there for a couple of days of photography, before I returned home and she began one of her workshops. I drove down Wednesday evening without incident, save for an unfortunate happening in a car park in Poole.

I had stopped to answer the call of nature, well it was more of an uproar than a call, I had seriously misjudged my coffee intake vs journey time to a wild extent, so my concept of driving through in one go was tragically misguided. Anyway, after I’d made use of the facilities I was walking back towards the car, and noticed a big ol’ 4x4 (the type for chauffeuring sprogs about rather than off-roading) reversing out of its space not far away.

I walked behind it to get to my car, and as I was unlocking the door I noticed that it was getting closer and closer. Thinking that it was about to stop any moment, I got in, but as I was about to turn on the ignition it suddenly dawned on me that it was not about to stop at any moment at all, on the contrary, it was going to carry on at will.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Batsford Arboretum - A Potted History

Last weekend I took a trip to Batsford Arboretum to see what autumn colours were on display in this Cotswold cornucopia of flora. As it happens, not a great deal, autumn is running pretty late this year, but there were very strong winds predicted for the next couple of days, so I wanted to catch what there was before it all blew away.

It’s the first time I’d been to the arboretum at Batsford, despite it being no more than a 40 minute drive away, I’d always opted to go to slightly further afield to Westonbirt, its bigger, grander cousin. But despite Batsford’s modest 56 acres, it’s still one of the largest private tree collections in the country, and boasts quite an array of species, including the national collection of Japanese Flowering Cherry.

The place has quite an interesting history, as the site not only contains the arboretum but also includes Batsford House, a huge pile of Cotswold stone that is still in private ownership, namely to the 3rd Baron Dulverton, so unfortunately is out of bounds for visitors.

Batsford House

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lake District Day 2 - Holes in the ground

Up for sunrise once more, and I elected to go back to the same spot I had occupied the morning before, to see if the colours were more to my liking. So yet again, as I strode through the gloom, I thought how a torch would have been handy, and yet again, once I had reached Friars Crag, I made my way down the perilous embankment to the shoreline. But here’s the crucial difference, I made it down without banging, cutting, grazing or gouging a single part of my delicate person.

Job well done I mused, but then an alarming thought appeared unbidden, if I didn’t injure myself now then it was bound to happen later on in the day. So with that unpleasant logic beginning to smoulder in my brain pit, I thought it best to get it over with, at which point I promptly picked up a wellington boot someone had discarded on the shore and began bashing myself over the head with it.

So it was I found myself stood on the gentle, silent shoreline, as the dark of the night gave way to the soft, cool tones of dawns first light, repeatedly hitting myself over the head with a soaking wet item of rubber footwear.

Life is a strange old fruit sometimes.

Of course I didn’t do any such thing, it wouldn’t have worked anyway. Believe me, if I thought there was even a glimmer of hope along that particular avenue. I would have brought my own wellington boot along with me for the occasion.

I was soon setting up the tripod in anticipation of the morning light, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. It was soon putting on a grand display of pinks and yellows over the distant fells. Alas it didn’t last long, and although I waited around for another half hour or so, it just became rather grey and ashen as the early morning progressed.

This was the last of the sun I would see all day unfortunately

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lake District Day 1 - Part 2

After getting what I could of the sunbeams piercing the distant clouds, above the looming fells of Buttermere, I moved to the skeletal tree that sits on upon the mere’s northern shore and did what I do best. Actually that’s a lie, my twerking prowess is only unleashed within the hours of darkness and at very select locations, instead I did what I do passably middling, and that was good enough for me.

No visit to Butters is complete without a shot of this old man

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lake District Day 1 - Part 1

I had arrived early afternoon the previous day, but thanks to the boisterous weather there was no chance of getting out with the camera. The visibility was next to nothing and the rain was relentless, so I didn’t fancy standing next to a lake and getting soaked. So I went into Keswick town and got soaked instead.

I met up with Sarah from Image Seen, who was running a photography workshop over the weekend, and with whom I had agreed to ferry some of the participants around for one of the days, while dispensing general advice on photography and Photoshop, whether they asked for it or not. And we repaired ourselves to Java & Chocolate where the coffee is always never less than decent.

After guzzling down our respective cuppas we headed out into the rain and made our way to Booths, that most resplendent of supermarkets, and one I have waxed lyrical about before, to pick up a bounty of grub for the workshop the next day. And as usual I was suitably impressed enough with their operation that they remained at the top of my favourite supermarkets list. While I realise that having a favourite supermarkets list is, let’s not beat around the bush here, tragic, I am in no doubt that the owners of Booths would be pleased as punch to know they lead it, and rightly so.

I spent the remainder of the day sprawled out on a sofa, suffering the gruesome and harrowing repercussions of an ongoing cold as it developed within my face, whilst hoping the next day would bring a more pleasing climate.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The deadly menace in our countryside

I stumbled across this herd at the weekend, they had obviously just finished gorging on a fresh carcass, probably an unlucky sheep, or an unfit dog walker. But I could tell by the way they stared at me, their craving for flesh was far from sated.

I quickly made my excuses and got out of that field in double time. So take this as a word of warning, if you're in the Cotswold area just keep your eyes open, and always let someone else know where you are going.

These cows will kill and eat you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Garden exploration

Partial view into the garden

Last weekend I took a stroll out into the back garden. I’d not done it recently because there had been quite a lot of work going on out there. Some updates to the plumbing system had been undertaken over the past few weeks, somewhat overdue, as the pipes they dug up were well over one hundred years old, in fact the house itself has a vintage of close to six hundred years. 

So, as is often the way with old houses, what they discovered when they started to dig below the surface displayed very little in common with you would be expected from above. Pipes veered off into adjoining houses, a septic tank or two were placed in spots that seemed to offer no benefit to anyone, if they were even used, although someone must have taken the effort to put them there. And couple of small streams were even discovered, which were a surprise to all.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Scotland Day 7 - An early start and a surprising sky

Woke up at 5.30 with some anticipation, as for most of the week the forecast had predicted good weather for sunrise, the only day of the week it had. I struggled out of my sleeping bag with no little difficulty, as my ribs were still playing merry hell with me since the fall on day two, and grappled my way to the window, where ominous, glowering clouds were assembled yet again.

I was not best pleased, but I figured I would get up anyway and face the day, as it was my last in Scotland. At least it wasn’t raining I thought, or more likely said, quite loudly, as by now I was regularly chatting away to myself, without the least concern.

I quickly attired, jumped in the car and headed to Buachaille Etive Mor, which is the classic sunrise shot, but the inclement weather was having none of this sort of behavior and the mountain looked flat and lifeless.

So instead of hanging around, I scooted over to Black Rock cottage, a classic view from this area, and somewhere I’d not been to yet, to see if anything interesting would happen. And much to my surprise it did.

As I stood there looking at the view, in yet another all encompassing wind of almost hurricaniffic proportions, and rueing my ‘at least it wasn’t raining’ comment from earlier, as the rain splashed down. I noticed a bit of colour appearing in the sky above the cottage. 

You can see the trees blowing about in the high winds.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Scotland Day 6 - A titanic battle at Glen Affric

Woke up nice and early to yet another morning of wind and rain, so quickly had some coffee then I was north bound to loch ness.

Within an hours drive the rain had stopped and the sun was shining away like it had never been gone. Once at the southern end of the loch, (a loch which, as you may be aware, contains more fresh water than all of the lakes and reservoirs in England and Wales combined) I took the smaller of the two roads that follows its length, and headed up the eastern side, which brought me up high into the surrounding landscape.

I first stopped at the little Loch Tarff, which had a delightful island in it and was looking lovely in the morning sun. So I set up thinking this would be a straight forward exercise, as even if the sun did go in when it saw me unpack my apparatus, as it surely would, it’d soon be back out again, thanks to the speed the clouds were being transported in the brisk wind.

So as with the usual accordance, once I had set up, the sun duly disappeared, but I wasn’t at all concerned as it would surely be back without haste. It wasn't. I stood on that mound overlooking the loch for about 25 minutes. Which doesn't seem very long, but when the wind is blowing around you in gale force strength, and threatening not just to topple the camera, but is brutally ruffling your very self, 25 minutes can seem an interminably long time.

Loch Tarff and its perfect little island.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scotland Day 5 - The Cairngorms

Woke up to a very blustery morning, with a murky, sombre sky and very little visibility. So decided on a whim to head for the Cairngorms, to see if the weather was any better over there, and perhaps spot some of the local wildlife which, confusingly enough, had been notable only by its absence.

Also somewhat confusing is the name of the Cairngorms themselves. The range’s original name, Am Monadh Ruadh, translates as the red hills, yet Cairn Gorm (which is one of the mountains in the range) means blue hill. So the title Caringorms National Park in Gaelic means the Blue Hills National Park, yet the park authority also uses the Gaelic strap line Pairc Naiseanta a Mhonaidh Ruaidh, which in English translates as the Red Hills National Park.

But despite the confusion, the park itself is one of the most impressive in Britain. It is the largest in the UK, at almost twice the size of the Lake District, five of Scotland’s six highest mountains lie within its borders, and altogether it has fifty two summits over 900 metres. The fact it represent such a major barrier to travel and trade across Scotland, has helped to create the remote character of the Highlands that persists today.

The Cairngorms hold some of the longest lying snow patches in Scotland, they can remain on the hills until August or September, while in the Garbh Coire Mòr of Braeriach the snow has melted just five times in the last century. The lowest recorded temperature in the United Kingdom has twice been recorded in the Cairngorms, at -27.2C and the greatest British wind speed, 173 mph, was recorded on Cairngorm Summit, where speeds of over 100 mph are common. And lastly, but no means leastly, the park contains the finest collection of glacial landforms outside arctic Canada.

And extending the confusion somewhat, I wouldn’t actually be heading into the heart of the park itself, as there are no roads, I would just be skirting the edge. So with that cleared up, I struck eastwards and, as luck would have it, left the worst of the weather behind me.

I stopped in a parking bay on the main road that lines the eastern side of the park, as the views to the sun speckled ranges in the distance was looking rather nice, and tramped off into the undergrowth. I was pleasantly surprised to find some heather in bloom, as I’d not really seen much so far, so I made the most if it by including some in the shot.

Shame the sun didn't grace me with its presence,
but I like the colours.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Scotland Day 4 - Highland meanderings

Woke up early to an utterly grey morning so went back to sleep again for a while before arising at the more respectable hour of 8.30.

I was heading north today, possibly to Loch Ness, depending on how the time went, but first I was going to loch Eli. So I drove the several miles up the road to the car ferry, so I could jump across the other side of Loch Linnhe, which would save driving all the way around it. Then follow the western shore northwards until it doglegs left and feeds into Loch Eli.

That was the plan anyway, except I took a wrong turn when alighting from the ferry at Corran. Well there were two whole choices placed before me, so I can't be entirely responsible for that. Once I realised I was going the wrong way, I stopped alongside Loch Linnhe and got a shot of the little islands that reside in it, plus, as a bonus, I saw some seals messing about in the water which was nice.

Loch Linnhe on an overcast day. The seals were splashing about around those three islands.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Scotland Day 3 - Showing signs of dementia

I arose after a fitful nights sleep, thanks to the pain in my ribs, which must have been caused the by the fall I had the previous day (and made every move in the cramped confines of my canvas home an uncomfortable exercise), to the pitter and patter of raindrops on the tent.

And also in it, which is how I discovered my tent was not waterproof. It’s supposed to be, let me make that very clear, I’m not so inept to deliberately choose a tent that wasn’t waterproof, for my trip to Scotland. But this one wasn’t, and my views towards camping were growing decidedly dim.

The rain eased off in the end so I crawled out and made some coffee before heading off for the day. My first stop was Loch Achtriochtan, a small loch that is served by the river Coe, the same river that gives the glen its name.

Looking along the Loch bank with a swathe of reeds in the water

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Scotland Day 2 - Etive Mor

Woke up to thick mist and dull, weighty clouds so there was to be no sunrise shoot that morning. Fine, OK, I forgot to set my alarm and didn’t wake up until 7.30, by which time it was indeed rather grey. What it was like at sunrise I have no idea, but to ease my mind, I’ll say it was rubbish.

I feasted on oat biscuits and peanut cookies, as I’d forgotten to buy any milk for cereal, and made a flask of (black) coffee for my day ahead. After loading up the car, I headed to Signal Rock with a view to doing some forest walking, as it was so overcast. But as I was contemplating doing just that, I noticed a bit of light on the distant hills, and not one to let such an event go to waste, I made directly to Etive Mor.

When I got there the clouds were starting to disperse, but low hanging remnants still curled around the mountains, which looked a treat. I got some pictures of the iconic Buachaille Etive Mòr, meaning ‘the great herdsman of Etive’, that marks the junction of the beginning of Glen Coe to the west and Glen Etive to the south.

The peak of Stob Dearg rising through the clouds

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Scotland Day 1 - Camptastrophe

So after a nine hour drive I finally arrived at the campsite in Glen Coe that was to be my home for the next seven days, and considering I hadn’t been camping for years, I was quite looking forward to it.

It was early evening when I arrived, so I was keen to get set up and head out for the sunset as soon as possible. So with prudent haste I pitched my tent and loaded it up with all my supplies for the week ahead. Then I realised, with more than a moderate amount of dismay, that my power cable was not long enough to reach from the tent to the socket.

In something of a forewarning of what was to come, I had forgotten to check whether or not it would reach, so as quick as I could, I unloaded the tent, took it all down, re-pitched it and filled it back up with my weekly provisions. By this time I was perspiring with some abandon and quite exhausted.

But there was no time to stand around cursing my stupidity, I would have plenty of time for that in the days to come. Right now the light was as good as it was going to be, so I had to get moving.

Driving along the A82, the road that runs through the Glen Coe valley, the landscape was looking incredible. With huge mountains rising steeply on each side, the soaring peaks wrinkled and craggy, and their lower banks, undulating and surging under a velvety covering of verdant moss. Home to gnarled trees and sparkling waterfalls, nestled in ancient chasms, it really was like something from a fantasy film.

It's quite difficult to get a sense of scale, but if you look closely, you can see a couple of people on the
footpath that runs from the bottom left of the frame, to give you an idea the size of two of the
Three Sisters pictured here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Big Cats and their eye wear

Not so long ago I posted a piece about photographing big cats at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, you can in fact see that very post right here.

What I didn't include was what I got up to after I'd taken all the usual shots of the usual cats in the usual poses. Looking for something different, I waited until everybody else had left and asked the keepers if I could get some pictures of their charges just kicking back and relaxing, as they would when not on display to the general public.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vintage Cars

I attended the Witney Steam and Vintage Fair the other day, and as you can probably surmise by the name, it was full of people showing off their steam engines and vintage cars.

I do like a bit of steam engine action, so I was looking forward to catching those snarling helions as they rumbled and clanked around the arena, to the glorious sound of raw 18th century fury.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Extreme apertures in the lavender fields

I took a trip to Snowshill Lavender Farm the other weekend to get some shots of the lavender fields in full bloom, and I was looking to get something a bit different from the usual purple rows you see so often.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Photographing big cats

A little while ago I took a trip to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation based in Kent. This charitable organisation has been running The Big Cat Sanctuary since 2000, their mission is to protect big cat species around the world from extinction through their successful breeding programmes.

Part of the way they raise funds for their projects is hosting photography days, where you can get up close (but not too close) with the various species and get a few snaps.

Your not allowed in the cages with them of course, but you can get right up to the fence to get the shots, assuming that is the residents of that particular enclosure are not being too cantankerous. If they aren’t in the mood for a close-up, a quick snarl and the flash of canines soon has everyone stepping back fairly briskly.

Our first visit was to the cheetah enclosure, these inquisitive animals were quite comfortable with us being there and it wasn’t long before they wandered over, in that nonchalant way of theirs, to see just what we were up to. In fact cheetahs are quite easily domesticated, the ancient Egyptians and Romans used them to hunt, hence the name ‘hunting leopard’, although they are most closely related to the puma and jaguarondi.

While they are not a true ‘big’ cat, as they cannot roar, instead issuing mews, hissing, chirrups and yowls, they are one of the oldest extant cat species, still closely resembling their forebears from 200,000 years ago.

This one was getting quite bored with our company and obviously couldn't 
stifle that yawn.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blurring flowers for interesting effects

At this time of the year the flowers are out in full swing, parading their colourful blooms in a grand display of sprightly vibrancy and sparkling vigour. There are some of course, who insist it’s just showing off, that it’s nothing to at all to do with pollination and propagation. They even go so far as to bewail the ‘pomp and bravura’ as nothing more than pure ostentatious narcissism.

These people are idiots.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Focus Stacking a Daffodil

This picture was not taken in my garden
One spring afternoon, with nothing much better to do, I decided to go and pull up some unsuspecting daffodils from the garden, to use in a diabolical experiment.

Once I had procured the hapless flowers, I picked out the finest example, cruelly tossing away the outcasts and leaving them to make their own way in this pitiless world of ours. And then set up the terrified champion on a table, with my looming lens just millimetres away from its quivering bloom.

I wanted to try my hand at a bit of focus stacking. Often when getting close to an object, even with a dedicated macro lens, the depth of field, or, more importantly, the lack of it can make getting a sharp image from front to back a real challenge, ranging from impossible, all the way to unattainable.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exhibitionist clouds over Burford

Those pesky clouds have been up their old tricks, namely showing off and generally acting up again.

I happened to look out my window the other day and wouldn't you know it, they were swaggering across the sky with such pompous bravado you'd have thought they owned the place.

Well, I'm not one to sit back and let such pretentious affectations go undocumented, so I immediately grabbed my camera and took to recording this unfettered tribute to garishness, with a view to shaming them into behaving with a bit more respectability next time.

So once you have fortified yourself, with a strong drink in one hand, and a sternly disapproving look in the other, I would bid you to peruse the following images with caution.

I would also suggest you carry out this investigation whilst seated, I cannot be responsible for any injuries you sustain as a result of swooning at the outrageous dandyism displayed before you.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Zoom Blur

The other day, whilst wandering aimlessly about, camera in hand, wondering what to do with myself, as I often am, I stumbled across this row of trees with a rather fetching sky behind them. The sun was fast disappearing and it seemed somewhat churlish not to get a photo, what with the sky going to all that trouble and everything. 

So I did.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Evening Light over a Cotswold Town

I happened to look out my window the other day and what did I observe? Well the usual things, as you would imagine, seeing as my window is in the same place it’s always been, and the things outside, such as trees and walls etc, are well known for their inclinations to stay put. 

So it would come as no surprise to you if the answer to my question about what I observed was ‘I saw exactly the same things in exactly the same places as I always see when I look out of that exact window’. And your lack of bewilderment would be well founded, because that is what I did see.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lake District - Day 6

This morning I drove over to Ullswater, the second largest lake in the district after Windermere, and one which many regard as the most beautiful of English lakes, comparing it to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. It is a typical Lake District narrow "ribbon lake" formed after the last ice age when a glacier scooped out the valley floor and when the glacier retreated, the deepened section filled with meltwater which became a lake.

And here is that very Water, taken that afternoon
The origin of the name 'Ullswater' is uncertain. Some say it comes from the name of a Nordic chief 'Ulf' who ruled over the area; there was also a Saxon Lord of Greystoke called 'Ulphus' whose land bordered the lake. The lake may have been named Ulf's Water in honour of either of these, or it may be named after the Norse god Ullr.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lake District - Day 5

Woke up to a fair amount of cloud, but by the time I left the weather was starting to look promising and boding well for the rest of the day.

I started with a drive over the Honister Pass that would take me to the southern end of Buttermere. At 1,167 feet it is one of the highest and steepest in the region. Passing the Honister slate mine and YHA situated at the top, I made my way down the other side, stopping for a while to wait with my camera for the sun to creep downwards over the precipitous valley walls, crags and boulders that are strewn about the valley floor. 

It took a while, but the sun started to creep across the fells in the end
It was fairly early in the morning so traffic was few and far between and the place was beautifully quiet, it really is an atmospheric place.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lake District - Day 4

Yet again, with an embarrassed sun rising behind a thick smog of grey cloud, the morning weather looked ridiculous. I headed over to the Borrowdale Hotel, to deliver some choice words on the subject of Photoshop techniques to the lucky people who were part of the Lake District Image Seen workshop group. And by the time I had enlightened all with my sparkling presentation, the weather was looking a lot better, so I took the short drive up to Ashness Bridge with an idea to get some images of this most resplendent of Cumbria’s icons. 

As it happens so had quite a few other people, all of whom it seems, were taking part in some kind of bizarre contest to see who could wear the most garishly coloured cagoule. So I tried my best to get some photos of the bridge and lake beyond, while at the same time doing my best to exclude the rabid pack of flamboyantly hued hunchbacks crawling all over my view.

I was aware that I too was probably featuring heavily in their photos, standing right in front of the bridge as I was. So I could well imagine that they had similar misgivings about my presence there, although to make one thing absolutely clear, my jacket was a pleasantly tasteful neutral colour, so they could have no reason to suffer distress on that regard. But the thought of them taking issue with my attendance made me curse them doubly, and I vowed to fight them and all their kind to my last breath. 

After a bit of judicious waiting around on the day and a small amount of tinkering
on the computer I managed to make this a cagoule free zone

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lake District - Day 3

Woke up to yet another heart achingly miserable morning, with rain and wind of the likes I’ve not seen for many a long year. Decided to go into town and get a few bits, and stopped in one of two local photography galleries to have a browse of the incredible photos on display. Having the Lakes on your doorstep must be quite amazing.

After walking out in a dishearteningly sombre mood, the profound feeling that I will never, ever be able to get images like those coursing through my troubled veins, I picked myself up with a visit to Booths, one of the finest shopping emporiums I believe has existed anywhere and at anytime, in the history of all worlds.

Well, maybe that’s a slight overstatement, but let me make it quite clear, this is a very fine supermarket. Very fine indeed. In fact I think it should be the template for all supermarkets across this land of ours, perfectly laid out, very keenly priced and a genuine pleasure to purchase life’s essentials from. I seem to remember that the last time I was here it was a tawdry dump, so whoever was responsible for such a positive sea change should deliver themselves a hearty pat on the back.

Ashness Jetty with Catbells behind

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lake District - Day 2

As expected, woke up to a rather miserable morning, so didn’t rush out. After breakfast I headed over to the southern end of Derwentwater, to the boardwalk that traverses the marshy perimeter of that part of the lake, with a view to have a bit of a walk and take a few snaps. My ever present friend, the howling wind, accompanied me on my travels and did its very best to blow me from the boardwalk into the brackish water below. But it did not succeed, and I held strong in the face of such gusty disorder.

The sun began to make a few tentative appearances as I approached the western shoreline, so I stopped and pitched my tripod to enable some shots of the foreground lake with Catbells, one of the most popular fells around Derwentwater, rising grandly behind. I ended up staying there for quite a while waiting for the light to be compliant enough for me to get what I wanted, which was to be a recurring theme for quite a lot of the week.

Despite a wobbling tripod I managed to get an image with the sun dappling across the fells

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lake District - Day 1

After travelling up to Keswick, in the Lake District the evening before, I was ready to get cracking first thing. Unfortunately the weather was acting rather belligerently, a dismal, funereal procession of unrelenting grey, shoving spluttering rain and pin sharp gales in the face of anyone who would be foolish enough to venture out. 

Needless to say, sunrise was off the cards. So with a heavy heart and modest relief, I hastened back to bed with a view to humoring my shameful laziness. So after a leisurely breakfast I headed out around 11.30, once the worst of the weather had sodded off. My first stop was Buttermere, in my view one of the prettier lakes in the area.

But wait I hear you shriek, Buttermere, is in fact a mere, not a lake, hence Buttermere. There is only one true lake in the Lake District, and that is Bassenthwaite Lake, the rest are either, meres, waters, or in the case of the smaller bodies, tarns. Yes, well done, you are absolutely correct to make that statement with the force and clarity it warranted. Now we have that settled, let us move on and never mention it again.

Once parked in the approved parking area at the northern tip of the mere, not lake (yes I lied, I will be mentioning it. A lot), I made my way to the nearest shoreline where I had a date with a rather scrawny tree. I had seen pictures of this particular specimen before, but never had the pleasure of its company. I was about to rectify that. 

The light was pretty flat so I have processed it with a toned monochrome
effect as the colours were nothing to write home about

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Day at Silverstone

Slightly departure from the usual posts, I spent the day at Silverstone on Sunday watching the start of this years Formula 4 season, and had a rather cracking day out.

The series was originally operated by the 750 Motor Club along the Formula Vee series as an entry level single seater formula for young drivers. In September 2012, it was announced that the "Formula 4" name would be passed onto MotorSport Vision and the British Racing Drivers' Club to create a new Formula 4 Championship. The championship features a mix of professional motor racing teams and privately funded drivers using identical 2.0-litre cars built by Ralph Firman's RFR company.

To start with though there was a bit of Caterham action.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Puddle That Stays With Me, Always

I took a little jaunt into the Cotswolds the other day and, inspired by the images of reeds and water I took a few days previously, whilst I was in Widford I forsook the natural beauty of the surrounding wolds and valleys, and found myself a nice big puddle to settle down with. 

And I have to say, our time together was some of the best of my entire life. We talked and laughed and dreamed our dreams, it was as if time had stood still for us. But as with all things, nothing can last forever, so in the end I had to say goodbye and move on with my life, plus I had to get home for my tea, it was fish fingers and spaghetti that evening, and I wasn’t about to miss it.

But I can’t seem forget that puddle, and something tells me I never will.

At least I have the memories…

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reeds, Water & A Long Exposure

I took a recent excursion to a local fishing lake to get some watery shots and I liked it so much, that I had to go back again. This time though the weather wasn't in cahoots with my intentions, so my attempts at apprehending the setting sun and incarcerating it in my digital casket did not go to plan. That wily old sun. 

But as I was making my way out through the undergrowth I came across some reeds that caught my fancy. There was a bit of breeze about the place which didn't look too good on the water surface, so I set up my ever dependable tripod and prepared for some long exposures.

I wanted the surface of the water to be as smooth as possible so I did what I could to minimise the amount of light that was able to enter the lens, thereby extending the exposure as much as I could. This would dissipate the ripples, as they would all blur into each other, thus creating the illusion of a smooth finish, ideally.

I did this by closing the apperture to f/22 and bringing down the ISO to 50, or L as it's known on my camera. I would normally do neither of these things, as they each result in a loss of picture quality, but I decided the ends justified the means. Nothing was going to deter me from my plotted course.


f/22, ISO 50, 6 second exposure

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I visited a local fishing lake recently but I didn't want to go fishing.

I will admit though that I had a private, urgent need that required satisfaction. And yet, I didn't have the slightest desire to stand, tackle in hand, on the banks of this great pond and while away the hours tugging on my rod (And no, it is not wile). So now we have cleared that up, as many an angler has had to do. I will admit that my great need was to get some images of water.

You know how you might get a hankering for a certain type of food all of a sudden, and nothing will make it go away until that craving for a century egg or Casu Marzu or whatever floats your boat is satiated. Well that is the position I found myself in. I wanted some reflections and I wanted them right away.

So I headed to the aforementioned fishing lake at sundown to see what I could find and I was pleasantly surprised. The sun for its part was ‘playing the game’ and I managed to get a few nice shots in the bag. Nothing earth shattering, but they gratified the flustering urge that had been growing inside me.

And after that lazy sun had slumped beneath the horizon, I sauntered past the fishermen, still grappling with their wet flies and wooly worms, with many pleasing thoughts filling my contented mind.

As the sun was saying goodbye it deposited some golden tones
on the blue/grey lake which worked well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Cotswolds on a sunny afternoon in Spring

It’s been quite a while since I last posted, mainly due to malaise, and the fact that it’s been a while since I last picked up my camera, predominantly for the same reasons.

But the guilt of having an expensive piece of machinery sat about gathering dust, along with a low hanging chimerical smear of cloud gently, but insistently draping a curtain of shame over the back of my mind for not ‘getting out there’ and ‘capturing the light’ etc etc, ad nauseum, was enough to spur me to action.

So action is what happened.

I took an action packed trip up the road and got some pictures my local area, so here they are, with a bit of info culled from various tourist sites about the Cotswolds.

“The Cotswolds is the most 'quintessentially English' and unspoiled region of England where you cannot help but fall in love with the uniqueness of it.”