Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wychwood Wild Garden

A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to the lovely Cotswold village of Shipton-under-Wychwood, a place that takes part of its name, along with a couple of other nearby villages, from the ancient forest of Wychwood.

In past centuries this forest sprawled across a large area of rural Oxfordshire, at its height in the 12th century, the forest covered some 50,000 acres. It is of course now a shadow of its former self, and since it was enclosed in 1887, 870 hectares is all that remains of the woodland that was once home to forest fairs so riotous they were eventually banned.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Northumberland Day 3 - Exploring castles inside & out

For my last sunrise location of the trip, I took an early morning drive over to Dunstan Heads, to get another view of the magnificent ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. Once I had arrived on the coast, it was a 20 minute walk over the neighbouring golf course, which thankfully at this time of the morning was deserted, to get to the dramatic coastline.

The ocean shore along this stretch of remote headland is strewn with large, weathered boulders, worn smooth from the constant pounding of the relentless surf and battering winds.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Northumberland Day 2 - A hidden waterfall & windswept coasts

Out for sunrise at Bambrugh again and the conditions were a lot more promising than the morning before. There was very little cloud in the sky apart from a gossamer ribbon lying across the horizon, ready and willing to be illuminated beautifully by the rising sun.

I got a few shots of the castle with some grass covered dunes in the foreground, their lush thatches trembling and shuddering under the whims of the boisterous breeze. All too quickly though the sun ascended the cloud bank, its glaring rays penetrating directly into the lens, which made continuing to shoot towards the castle a pointless exercise.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Northumberland Day 1 - Castles at dawn, and dusk.

A rather overcast start to the day at Bamburgh.

Up early on the first morning of my short visit to Northumberland, and it was chucking it down with rain. I went out anyway as you never know what the weather will bring, and drove from the cottage I was staying in, through the small, twisty lanes to Bamburgh.

By the time I pulled up at the seafront, the morning light was just arriving, but it wasn’t heralding the promise of better conditions. I sat there for a little while looking at the choppy surf and listening the raindrops thrum on the roof of the car, in the hope that the weather might improve.

After around 20 minutes, the constant tattoo of falling water began to subside to a barely audible fizzle, it was time to get on with the day. Standing on the beach I couldn’t believe how mild the temperature was. Considering a month earlier I had been on a beach in Dorset, struggling to stay warm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dordogne Day 3 - Bustling markets and deserted villages

We began where we had left off the day before, by visiting another château, this one was slightly different from the rest though. Château de Commarque is a ruined castle deep in the Perigord forest. We arrived well before it opened, so once we had taken the 20 minute walk through dense woodland to get to it, we had the place to yourselves.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dawn at Minster Lovell Hall

Minster Lovell Hall

Yesterday morning I decided to head over to Minster Lovell Hall for sunrise, I thought there might be some autumn colour in the magnificent trees that stand behind the ruins, and I wanted to see if I could complement them with a bit of early morning colour.

I'd never had much luck photographing the ruins themselves before, either because the light wasn't suitable or I couldn't find a composition I liked, or more usually, both. So I wasn't holding out a great deal of hope, but I still wanted to give it another go. They should, in theory, should be a good place to get some decent shots, they are interesting to look at and are set in a picturesque spot next to the River Windrush, so I when I think of them it's always with a sense of frustration at my inability to do them justice.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dordogne Day 2 - Misty trees & imposing chateaux

It was a chilly start to the day, the nights in fact had been particularly cold, I was having to use 3 blankets just to be warm enough to get some sleep. But thanks to the balmy days and cool nights, the early mornings offered plenty of mist.

We headed over to same woodland we’d been the day before to get some shots of trees swaddled in the creamy haze, while the sun warmed their shining boughs. The white trunks stood in lines like a picket fence, supporting a canopy of glittering leaves alight with the morning glow. It made for a beautiful sight, but it wasn’t long before the sun had driven the majority of the fog away, so we packed up and drove to St Cyprien for the obligatory coffee, and picked up a baguette for lunch.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dodogne Day 1 - Villages both Medieval & troglodyte

We headed out first thing, to the nearest town of Le Bugue, to get ourselves some breakfast; a pain au chocolat and a coffee were definitely on the cards. After that it was a quick trip to the Supermarché to stock up on essentials, plus of course some tea towels so we could remove the much maligned calcer, and a couple of bottles of the local vino.

This eye catching group of trees caught our attention.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dordogne - Arrival

Decided to hop over the pond, well, the puddle, to France, to spend a few carefree days in the beautiful surrounds of the Dordogne. I was in the company of my occasional travelling companion, Sarah, who was scouting suitable spots for an upcoming photography workshop in the area, and invited me to tag along.

The journey over was possibly one of the easiest in the history of travel. Exiting the leafy kingdom of Oxfordshire and motoring along the M40 and M25 without a single hold up had left us suitably jubilant, and not a little surprised. Then, being able to stretch out on the plane, as it was only half full, was nothing short of astonishing. And to top it all off, ours was the only plane at Bergerac airport, which is not much more than a large corrugated shed, so passport control, namely a smiling official in a small plywood booth, was an absolute breeze.

A few snaps from the trip as a bit of a taster. Here my esteemed colleague wanders blithely through my shot.

Dorset Day 2 - Peveril point & Lullworth Cove

The forecast for early morning had not been great, unlike the day before, which had promised some dawn sunshine, and which had spectacularly failed to deliver. So I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope for a decent start to the day.

With that in mind I hadn’t planned to go far, just down to Peveril Point again, in case something did happen. And happen it did, it turned out to be a real beauty of a morning, with the sun appearing from behind a bank of cloud, and casting its warm radiance over the ocean before me, and Swanage seafront to my rear.

The weather was on my side.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dorset Day 1 (Part 2) - Sandy shenanigans & Kimmeridge clouds

Whilst at Studland Beach got it into my head to do a variation of that classic footprints in the sand shot, so often seen in holiday brochures and suchlike, but instead of bare feet leaving a tempting trail, it was my size 12 boots stomping through golden shoreline.

The tide was on its way out, meaning I had a nice stretch of smooth sand to play with, so I created some inexpertly made footprints heading into the water, which was a lot harder than I thought it would be. With the final effect being rather less vacation paradise, and rather more goodbye cruel world.

It wasn't entirely what I had in mind when I originally thought of it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dorset Day 1 (Part 1) - Peveril Point & sturdy masts

Woke up to fog, so like any right thinking person, I figured it was time to give Corfe Castle a go, in the hope that the fog wouldn’t be too thick, and a lovely bit of morning sun would light up the delicate mist as it twirled and wafted around the impressive hill top ruins, ruffling the battlements and wafting about the crenelations.

So as I heaved myself up East Hill, to get a view down and across to the castle remnants, I hoped against hope that it wouldn’t be as discouraging as the previous visit. It was as discouraging as the previous visit. For the second time in as many hard won ascensions, I couldn’t even see the castle, let alone admire its ruffled battlements.

So yet again, I hung around for a while, in the vain ambition that Mother Nature might take pity on my situation, and spoil me with a view, but as usual, my wishes were comprehensively ignored, and I was left desolate and crestfallen. Once I realised that was the way it was going to be, I strode obstinately back down the hill and returned to the car, in a righteous cloud of huffy indignation.

I didn't bother to take a picture, so here's one from the last time I was there to give an idea what it was like. 
In fact this is exactly what it was like. It couldn't be more spot on if it tried. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Exmoor Day 4 - Morning mist on the Moors

Up nice and early in the hope that I might get a sunrise, but once there was enough illumination to see my surroundings, it was clear that this was not going to happen. The landscape was shrouded in a thick soup of grey fog, under a chunky stew of sombre cloud, topped off with a beefy brew of gloomy light.

All this poor weather was making me hungry, but instead of filling my bemoaning belly, I decided to head up onto the moors to see if there were any atmospheric shots in the offing, while the fog was still so dense.

Stopping in one of the little car parks that dot the moors, I got out and with no particular direction in mind, I took a stroll amongst the dew covered heather and ferns hoping something would catch my eye.

The colours were vibrant thanks to the overcast conditions.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Exmoor Day 3 - The Barle Valley up close

I emerged from my dripping tent, thanks to a boatload of early morning condensation, to a very dim vista, so I couldn’t yet tell what the sky had in store. I jumped in the car, well more sort of slumped, at that time in the morning, and headed towards the Exe Valley again, in the hope I might get a decent start to the day.

I set up in the pre-dawn gloom and prepared myself for the sunrise to come, which was all well and good, except there wasn’t one. Just a dim grey sky turning slowly into a slightly less dim grey sky.

The grey clouds have come out rather blue in this picture, which actually makes the scene look a lot better
than it was.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Exmoor Day 2 - Misty morning & an incompetent evening

Up this morning for a spot of sunrise shenanigans, and I was hoping to get a few images of the River Exe as it curled its way through the surrounding valley, but that proved slightly difficult, as not only was the river completely obscured by a thick shroud of early morning mist, but most of the valley was too.

When first arriving a fine mist was settled in the valley, and there wasn't much colour in the sky.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Exmoor Day 1 - Medieval bridges and spiky intruders

After an early start and time spent negotiating the rabid packs of traffic on the always delightful M5, I was in Exmoor, the former Royal Forest and hunting ground, which became a National Park in 1954.

On the way to my campsite, I saw the sign for Tarr Steps, a clapper bridge that traverses the River Barle, a river and accompanying valley that would consume a lot of my time while in Exmoor over the following days. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, so I stopped to wander down to the ancient construction, and take a few pictures.

Tarr Steps stretching across the River Barle

Friday, August 22, 2014

St Oswald's - A bit of Cotswold history

Last weekend I took a trip over to Widford, a tiny village, that's not really village anymore, on some maps it isn't even listed, or if it is, then it's as 'the site of'. But despite its lack of substance, there are still a couple of structures that denote an actual place, rather than the remains of one. And the Church of St.Oswald's is such a marker.

This shot was taken at sunrise, to catch the sun as it popped up on the horizon, appearing behind the small
church and offering some colour to the clouds above.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Storm Clouds

We had quite an eventful couple of days last weekend with the weather. Surprisingly enough I wasn't out with my camera much at the time, but I did spot a particularly rambunctious weather system develop over where I live, and it would have been a crime not to get any pictures.

So, at great risk to my own personal safety, I braved the savage elements and got a few pictures of some lovely old Cotswold houses under an infernal assault of meteorological viciousness.

Luckily I managed to get back inside before it started drizzling, my person intact.

Cotswold town of Burford under heavy cloud

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cotswold Lavender and Cornflowers

It's that time of year, when the lavender is in full bloom, so it was time I got myself to Snowshill Lavender Farm for a few snaps.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stanton & Stanway

Early morning a week or so ago, I paid a visit to two of my favourite spots in the Cotswolds, namely Stanton and Stanway. The main cause for my visit was to complete a commission, but it's always a pleasure to spend some time in these idyllic Cotswold villages.

Taken from the Mount Inn, looking over the village of Stanton, out to the vale of Evesham and towards
the Malvern Hills and the Welsh Mountains

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peak District Day 3

Day 2 (Part 2)

Slept through my alarm!

The early morning sun still had a charm to it.

Out of necessity I’d slept with my earplugs in, and had completely missed my morning call, it was 5.30, a whole hour and a half too late.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Peak District Day 2 (Part 2)

I turned back the way I had come, and eventually found the road to Winnats Pass, which was as remarkable as I’d hoped it would be. Once I’d crowned the summit, I continued on until I saw, away to my left, a solitary tree, sat in majestic splendour atop a hill. No one can resist the lure of a solitary tree, let alone one sat atop a hill in majestic splendour, so I pulled over as soon I could find a suitable spot, to have a better look.

Once out the car, I happened to notice a small sign pointing to a walking track that veered upwards through a tangle of shrubbery, so in the hope it would give me a better vantage point of said solitary tree, sat in majestic splendour atop said hill, I began to walk.

A stone wall stretching into the distance.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Peak District Day 2 (Part 1)

My mellow mood from the evening before didn’t last long unfortunately, as I was kept awake yet again by another group of rowdy lowlifes.

So, rising early, after a disturbed night, I was pleased to see a silky brume of mist, skulking around on the valley floors. So I decided to head back to Higger Tor to see if I could get a good view of it from up there.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Peak District Day 1 (Part 2)

Day 1 (Part 1)

Monsal Head and traveling clouds

After breakfast I took the drive south to Monsal Head, a spectacular viewpoint looking down Monsal Dale and up the Wye Valley. Where the river Wye carves its way through a high ridge of limestone, and winds its way through the deep sided, rocky valley.

It’s also home to the Headstone Viaduct, an elegant structure built in 1863 by the former Midland Railway, to cross 40 foot above the Wye River. It is now considered an essential part of the landscape, although there was some opposition to its original construction because of the damage it caused to the surrounding area.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Peak District Day 1 (Part 1)

I traveled up to the Peak District on the Thursday, hopeing to have plenty of time to look about and get myself familiar with the area. Unfortunately the motorway Gods took an unfathomable dislike to me, and closed the M1 not long after I was discharged onto its clogged artery. So after a long detour and copious amounts of bumper to bumper action, I arrived at the campsite in Bamford four and half hours after setting off.

I quickly put up the tent, and was soon having a scout about in the hot afternoon sun. It wasn’t long before it started to cloud over as afternoon turned to evening, so I headed back to the campsite to make some dinner and have an all-out skirmish with the local bug population, who seemed intent on draining me of all my life giving nutrients.

I took a few snaps on my phone on the Thursday as I was nosing around. They are Over Owler Tor, an old Millstone at Baslow Edge and a cow who just would not stop staring at me, in a field of buttercups.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An afternoon in the meadow

Finding myself at a loose end a couple of weeks ago, I took a stroll down to Burford meadow, a relatively small patch of land that encompasses a section of the River Windrush, as it meanders on its picturesque journey through the Cotswolds, before spilling into the Thames at Newbridge.

The meadow was sporting a good crop of buttercups, and a handsome herd of cows, so it was no chore to spend an afternoon wandering over the boggy ground, amongst the fresh spring growth.

Friday, May 16, 2014

South Wales Day 3 - And the wind blows...

Another truly miserable start to the day, the wind was stronger than ever and the sky as grey as pewter, so I did what was right and correct in such circumstances; I had had a leisurely breakfast and watched a bit of morning television.

It didn’t take long for that distraction to wear thin, so I got my boots on and took a ride up to the Gawr Valley. This picturesque little vale is home to the River Garw, which runs the twelve miles from its source, Blaengarw, where I was ultimately heading to, to run into the River Ogmore, whose estuary I photographed next to on my first evening.

A view over the Blaengarw pine forest

Thursday, May 15, 2014

South Wales Day 2 (Part 2) - Dunraven Bay

After getting some well overdue lunch back at the cottage, as it was getting on for 6pm, I watched with a heavy heart, the beautiful late afternoon sunshine being overwhelmed by a congregation of clouds, rapidly going about their billowy business without so much as a thought for my future requirements.

Like the weather outside, the prospects of getting a decent sunset were looking dimmer by the minute.

I took the 20 minute drive down to Dunraven Bay anyway, as I wasn’t going to be bullied by these nebulous rascals. I had a thought to mooch around the interesting rock formations that line the coast along here.

Interesting patterns of erosion on this rock ledge

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

South Wales Day 2 (Part 1) - Waterfalls

With the night slowly succumbing to a muted and lacklustre dawn, the chance of a sunrise shoot was out of the question, but by eight o’clock it was brightening up a treat. I was off to waterfall country today, so as I jumped in the car I was in a chipper mood, and in short order, I was motoring up to the Vale of Neath to get me a torrent of goodness.

Arriving in Pontneddfechan about an hour later, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, but I didn’t mind, the woodlands would provide me with shelter, and I was soon making brisk time to my first stop, Lady Falls.

After a 20 minute walk alongside the swift flow of the Afon Pyrddin river, past trees fresh with spring green foliage, and the occasional gleaming clusters of bluebells. I arrived at Lady Falls, or Sgwd Gwladus, a picturesque 20 foot cascade from a lip of sandstone to a broad pool below.

A view of Lady Falls in all her splendour.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

South Wales Day 1 - The sunset that never was

I was heading to South Wales for a few days of photography but I wasn’t in any rush, the forecast for the area, and the rain peppering the windows outside as I packed, meant there was no immediate hurry to get going.

Looking out from Dunraven Bay onto the Atlantic Ocean

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The remains of a pine woodland

I spent a few hours last weekend exploring a stand of pine trees that were in the first process of being turned into something other than trees.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dorset Day 3 – Thick fog inside and out

Woke up after another fitful night’s sleep, feeling as though the contents of my head were wallowing in a mucilaginous swamp, while my limbs were groaning in protest over some grievous offence they obviously felt very strongly about. Not sure if it was because of the immoderate exercise I’d subjected them to, or just because I was feeling a bit peaky. Either way I was feeling about as lively as this old fella.

Took the short drive down to the seafront to get some shots in the misty conditions, cue more long exposure images of beach groins and minimalist compositions. If I hadn’t got at least one decent shot of this style from the past few days, it was time to step away from the camera and take up something a bit less creatively taxing.

A few viewpoints looking along this beach groin into the misty conditions beyond.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dorset Day 2 – No so magical mist and timeworn relics

After another sleep of the undead, as in, not a moments rest, I floundered to the window to see what the weather was doing, and got a face full of fog staring back at me. This was an opportunity not to be missed.

Clothes were attired, hairs were combed and tea was drunk all in double time, for if the fog were to break, letting the sun’s rays pour through, then it was the perfect time to be at Corfe Castle, that most impressive of ruins, situated not 20 minutes up the road.

After gunning the motor, safely and responsibly, along the little roads to the village of Corfe Castle, we parked up at the base of East Hill and began the steep climb to the top. As I trudged up the rough steps, hewn into the hillside, I couldn’t help but entertain visions of bagging myself a Landscape Photographer of the Year winning image. As per example one and example two.

In fact I did more than entertain them, I served the finest champagne, dished up a six course banquet and was just about to let loose the DJ. Then we reached the top, and were presented with this decidedly party poopering view.

The castle is definitely out there somewhere

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dorset day 1 - Long exposures and questionable fitness

Rising at 5.30 am after a very fitful night’s sleep, thanks to the unpleasant effects of a bug I was suffering from, and stumbling into the bathroom to cough my guts up under the cold, florescent ambience, I was still trying to convince myself that driving down to Swanage the previous evening was preferable to staying home and, more importantly, leaving my comfortable bed behind.

But good thing or not, I was here, so it was time to make the best of it and strike out through the morning darkness to Swanage seafront, to see what variety of sunrise nature had decided to bestow upon me.

As it happens, she was obviously not in a generous mood, as the display was somewhat lacking in vibrancy. The sky was completely clear, apart from a big old ribbon of murky cloud settled along the horizon, doing its best to make the day’s entrance as subdued as it could.

A couple of shots of the beach groins as the sun rises behind clouds, giving off a soft ambient light.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Time Lapse Part 2

So now the images have been taken for the time lapse video, it’s on to part two of the tutorial and we look at how those images are processed and combined to create the finished movie. We’ll be using Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw and Photoshop, before moving onto Windows Movie Maker.

To see part one, about setting up the camera and capturing the images visit here.

Once the images have been taken off the camera you will have a folder bursting with hundreds, maybe even thousands of images, so the key to processing them is automation, we want the computer to do most of the work. So with that in mind, once the images have been taken off the camera the first thing to do is open them in Bridge.

The reason I'm using bridge is because of its direct communication with Camera Raw.
Click on any image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Time Lapse Part 1

I’ve recently been trying my hand at a bit of time lapse photography, I’d seen some amazing videos online so I thought I’d give it a bash. And although mine are not up to a particularly elevated standard, they were fun to do, and it was interesting to learn the process.

Taken at sunset looking over a flooded field. I thought the reflections might add a bit of interest. But the breeze kept the water moving about. Only up until sunset though, then you will see the water suddenly go very still.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A bit of good old fashioned history

I was feeling the need for a bit of history last weekend, so I thought I’d head over to Chastleton House, a grand old Jacobean pile owned by the National Trust, to get just that.

On the way there however I stopped off at St. Nicholas church in Lower Oddington, it had been a long time since I was last there, and as I was driving past anyway, it seemed a shame not to pop in on the way.

The church is set amongst woodland and a little way out from the village, the original settlement was probably moved to its present site during the plague, to make use of the higher ground, away from any swampland. And this tranquil isolation is one of the reasons the church is worth a visit.

A view of the Norman church from the back wall that runs around the graveyard.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Forest of Dean

I visited the Forest of Dean on a whim the other day, as I hadn’t been for quite a while, and I fancied a bit of peace and tranquility as only an idyllic woodland glade could provide.

Unfortunately I had picked the very day that the Wydean Forest Rally was taking place, the yearly motorsport event that roars its way along a twisting course through this ancient forest. And as such, pretty much all the usual parking spots had been commandeered by the rally, so those who couldn’t find a space had parked everywhere you could possibly fit a car, and a few places you couldn’t.

After driving around for half an hour, dodging all manner of vehicles and unwary pedestrians, and wondering if I shouldn’t perhaps have thought this through a little better. I finally stumbled upon a section of the forest that was clear of activity, so I turned off the main road and parked up at Cannop Ponds.

After making much needed use of the forest facilities i.e. a tree, and vowing that all journeys from now on would be coffee free, I grabbed my camera gear and set off into the woodland. After walking/slipping along the boggy pathways for some distance, I came across one of the ponds, with a section of its bank lined with wispy reeds.

With the sun out, the water lost this green/blue hue and began to blend in with the reeds.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Loud and quiet

I was out the other morning down by the local river, taking advantage of the weather. We’ve had a lot of rain recently, so the fields were flooded, but, there wasn’t any rain that morning, meaning I could get some pictures. It was the perfect storm, except without the storm.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The tranquillity of trees

Minster Lovell Hall from a distance, and hidden by trees. Getting a closer shot proved to be a problem.

Following on from my last post about capturing a hard frost at Minster Lovell Hall, an English Heritage property not far from where I live. It occurred to me last weekend, that I should pay it another visit, what with all the flooding we’ve had recently, I thought it might be a good time to go back, and see if I could get some nice reflections of the ruined hall in the swollen river.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A large helping of frost

With the weather getting slightly chillier, but not by much, we haven’t seen a great deal of frost about, certainly no sign of that mighty frigid roarer; the hoarfrost, so until that Polar Vortex comes barging it’s way over here, I dug out a few frosty snaps to tide me over.

These were taken in the grounds of Minster Lovell Hall last winter. Which is just as well, as the site is flooded at the moment, thanks in no small part to the adamant desire of the rain recently, to place as much of the country under a couple of feet of murky water as possible.

They were taken first thing in the morning, while the sun was just bobbing up over the horizon, and before it could start to nibble away at the delicate, frosty tendrils that incrusted every surface, and simmer away the delicate mist hanging amongst the trees.

And while processing them afterwards, I thought they lent themselves to rather well to a sepia glow, so that is what they got.

Fingers crossed for some of that polar fury to blow this way…