Photo of the Day – 17 May 2017: Misty Morning on Sark

Posted on 17th May 2017 by Admin under Location, Photograph
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I will have more to say about Sark, the fourth largest of the Channel Islands, in a later post.  In the meantime, here is a shot which I took this morning.  After a couple of days of overcast weather with just a bit of sun, the forecast of heavy rain for the day proved to be correct.  The choice was to sit around the hotel or go out regardless.  Naturally, I opted for the latter and ventured out suitably equipped with a large umbrella.

The front which brought the rain was slow moving and consequently there was no wind.  The downside that was the rain took most of the day to clear, but there were some significant benefits.  The first was that I did not have to struggle with the umbrella.  Better still, there was a lot of mist around which yielded some pleasing atmospheric effects for photography.  I’ll take that over dull conditions every time.

Misty Sark

Misty Morning on Sark
(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

Originally I had stopped to take a shot of this treelined lane with the bicycle on one side for a point of interest.  Actually, the resulting shot was a bit boring, if I am honest.  By dint of good fortune, this carriage taking tourists on a trip around the island appeared on cue.  I would have preferred to let the carriage get a bit nearer.  In the event, the driver shouted warnings that the umbrellas my wife and I were holding could unsettle the horse.  No photograph is worth causing an accident and naturally we moved to one side.


This post is part of my occasional “Photo of the Day” series.  I publish shots which I think might be of interest and tell the story behind them.  They might not necessarily be portfolio standard images, nor the final version, but still be of sufficient interest for inclusion in my blog.  If I do not show a shot on any given day, it does not mean that I did not take any photographs, just that I did not get anything worthwhile.  For me, that is part of the fun of photography.  Not knowing what I will find on a shoot when I have nothing planned.

Photo Retrospective – The Street

Posted on 13th May 2017 by Admin under Comment, Equipment, Location, Photograph
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When starting this blog just over a year ago, I was not entirely sure what I would write about.  My only idea was to do pieces on anything which came to mind and see how I progressed.  As anyone who has been following me for the last few months will observe, my main interest lies in images.  Gear, while obviously essential to photography, does not really interest me for its own sake.  Writing about my photographs allows me to document my approach and technique where appropriate.

Most of my posts have been part of my “Photo of the Day” series, where I have showcased recent images which I feel have some appeal.  Admittedly there has been some gear talk, but that has dropped off since the early days.  The least interesting thing about an image is the camera used to take it.  Sometimes it is important, which is when I include relevant technical details in addition to aesthetic considerations.

I also have a number of images taken before I commenced blogging, so I am introducing a new occasional series – “Photo Retrospective”.  I am starting with one of my more unusual images, “The Street”.  Despite appearances, it is a straight shot which I took at Whitstable in Kent.  It features people walking on a sandbar which runs out to sea and is exposed at low tide.  On this day, there was a mist over the sea which isolated the figures from the background.  Only the water in front of the sandbar is visible.  I am unsure how frequently those particular atmospheric conditions occur in the area.  Certainly, I have not seen anything similar on the few occasions when I have returned to the area.

Photo of a misty day at Whitstable

The Street
(Click on the image for a larger version)

Some Technical Information

This is an instance where it is appropriate to provide some information about the camera which I used.  It was an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with a Panasonic 45-200 lens, set at 184 mm. That is equivalent to 368 mm on full frame.  It is an inexpensive lens which cost less Read More

Photo of the Day – 10 April: Ely Cathedral

Posted on 21st April 2017 by Admin under Comment, Location, Photograph
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Ely was close to the route home from Norfolk, so I took the opportunity to stop off there.  It is somewhere I have long wanted to visit.  The cathedral is the tallest building in the area, dominating the city and its surroundings.  It is from this visibility that it derives its nickname, “Ship of the Fens”.  It  has more open, green areas surrounding it than is usual at other English cathedrals, including a park on its southern side.  I took this shot from the gardens at the eastern end.  For me, it encapsulates the feeling of spaciousness around the building.  The previous day had seen clear, blue skies but here the clouds add a dramatic effect.

Ely Cathedral eastern elevevation

Ely Cathedral
(Click on the image for a larger version)


This post is part of my occasional “Photo of the Day” series.  I publish shots which I think might be of interest and tell the story behind them.  They might not necessarily be portfolio standard images, nor the final version, but still be of sufficient interest for inclusion in my blog.  If I do not show a shot on any given day, it does not mean that I did not take any photographs, just that I did not get anything worthwhile.  For me, that is part of the fun of photography.  Not knowing what I will find on a shoot when I have nothing planned.

Photo of the Day – 9 April 2017: Dawn on the River Ant

Posted on 19th April 2017 by Admin under Comment, Location, Photograph, Technique
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If you had asked me where I expected to get my favourite image during my camera club’s long weekend in Norfolk, I would have said How Hill.  The River Ant, which is the location of this photo, flows past and is a scenic spot.  We had visited the previous day and opted to return for our dawn shoot.  In particular, there is a disused windmill on the bank of the river which I visualised would make an attractive feature.  As it turned out, I could not get a satisfactory composition which incorporated it.  That will be the subject of a post I plan for a later date.  What I got instead get was this photo, which was completely unexpected.

Dawn on the River Ant at How Hill

Dawn on the River Ant
(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

Conditions that morning were promising.  There was some fog visible as we left hotel and it was really thick in places as we drove to How Hill.  It offered the prospect of some atmospheric misty shots on the river.  We arrived just as the sun was about to rise and set up our tripods.  I positioned myself at what I considered the best spot, windmill included.  In truth, there were some issues with the composition, but I thought I could make it work.  At that point, the sun was behind a hill, so it was a question of waiting for it to appear Read More

Photo of the Day – 8 April 2017: Norwich Cathedral Interior

Posted on 15th April 2017 by Admin under Equipment, Location, Photograph, Software, Technique
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Another shot of Norwich Cathedral, this time of the interior looking from the Choir towards the High Altar.  The cathedral normally opens later in the morning, but our group had permission for a shoot beforehand when there was no one else around.  The only proviso was that we did not enter until after Morning Prayer to avoid any disturbance.  That was not unreasonable given the primary purpose of the building and we willingly complied.  There is a lot to photograph in the vicinity and we took shots outside until it was time to enter.  There was one consequence which worked in my favour.  The lights in the choristers’ pews were left on and I was able to get a shot with them illuminated.  Someone turned them off shortly afterwards.

Norwich Cathedral Interior

Norwich Cathedral Interiot
(Click on the image for a larger version)

Some Technical Details

This shot is a composite of three images, merged using the HDR function in Lightroom.  The three shots were one as metered and the others two stops either side.  I do not own a titlt/shift lens, so instead used Photoshop for perspective correction.  The equivalent feature in Lightroom has limitations which restrict its use for such work.  The main difference is that Photoshop allows stretching of the image, whereas Lightroom either leaves blank areas or crops them out.  The latter can result in the loss of parts of the image which I wish to retain, as occurred in this instance.


This post is part of my occasional “Photo of the Day” series.  I publish shots which I think might be of interest and tell the story behind them.  They might not necessarily be portfolio standard images, nor the final version, but still be of sufficient interest for inclusion in my blog.  If I do not show a shot on any given day, it does not mean that I did not take any photographs, just that I did not get anything worthwhile.  For me, that is part of the fun of photography.  Not knowing what I will find on a shoot when I have nothing planned.

Photo of the Day – 7 April 2017: Cloisters

Posted on 13th April 2017 by Admin under Comment, Equipment, Location, Photograph, Technique
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This is what could be described as a “classic” shot of the cloisters at Norwich Cathedral.  A polite way of saying that others have done it before.  It would be a surprise if they had not; few worthwhile locations are unique in photography, especially in the UK.  Only the early pioneers who were shooting their subjects for the first time could have that experience.  I know that there have been others since, as I shared the shot and location with those in my camera club who were on our recent trip to Norfolk.  And why not?  Should I deprive my friends of the opportunity to take what I and others had seen before them?

Norwich Cathedral cloisters

Cloisters
(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

Creative seeing or merely copying?

In his book “The Art of Photography”, Bruce Barnbaum describes how he first encountered English cathedrals in 1980.  Until that time, he had had little interest in architectural photography, but these monumental buildings were a revelation.  He changed his itinerary to visit as many as possible during his two week trip and returned the following year for five weeks specifically to photograph them.  There are many examples in his book and they are beautiful pictures, reflecting both the skill of the artisans who built them and the craft of the photographer in capturing their essence.

Barnbaum can scarcely claim to have uniquely discovered the magnificence of English cathedrals.  After all, many of these buildings can trace their origins back nearly 1,000 years.  Indeed, he makes no such assertion.  What he did do was encounter them for himself and recognise their potential for photography.  In shooting them, he applied his own interpretation of their grandeur.

Compare Barnbaum’s experience to that of Michael Freeman, who was one of the first photographers to depict Angkor Wat after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed.  The ruins were known to the Victorians, but the political situation in Cambodia meant they were Read More

Photo of the Day – 6 April 2017: Tracks

Posted on 12th April 2017 by Admin under Equipment, Location, Photograph, Technique
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Recently, I went with my camera club on a long weekend to Norfolk. It is a part of the country I have not visited since childhood when my parents regularly took the family on holiday to West Runton, near Cromer.  Those were idyllic days as the owner of the cottage where we stayed owned a large tract of land.  This was a place where we children could roam safely and unsupervised.  It takes the wisdom and experience gained from age to appreciate fully the freedoms enjoyed in those carefree times.

This time around, Norfolk was a revelation.  True, it is largely flat and lacking the hills and mountains normally associated with dramatic scenery.  In its own way, though, it is just as appealing and has a quiet charm.  Early spring was a good time to go.  The blossom was out and the buds were just appearing on the trees, yet leaving their outlines still visible.  Simply driving through such attractive countryside was an enjoyable experience.  That the roads have so little traffic was an added benefit.

A Norfolk field

Tyre tracks and a ploughed field
(Click on image for a larger version)

 

For my first photo of the trip, I have chosen an image which encapsulates much of the Norfolk landscape.  The location is close to Barton Broad which, understandably, is one of the flattest areas of the county.  What attracted me to the scene Read More

Photo of the Day – 29 March 2017: Nesting Swan

Posted on 5th April 2017 by Admin under Location, Photograph
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There cannot be many jobs which have not changed over several centuries.  One such is the position of swanherd at the Swannery in Abbotsbury, Dorset.  It dates back at least to the 14th century, with the first written record in 1393.  In practice most likely predates that.  The swanherd was originally a member of the Benedictine Monastery of St Peter’s.  It was established in the 11th century before the Norman conquest on land given by King Cnut.  He, of course, is better known as the monarch who demonstrated that his regal powers did not extend to commanding the incoming tide on a beach.

Swan nesting at Abbotsbury Swannery

Nesting swan
(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

Mute swans are usually very territorial and will aggressively defend an area of around half a mile in extent on a river or lake.  However, conditions in the Fleet lagoon which is behind Chesil Beach are so good for rearing young, wild swans congregate there in unusual proximity.  During the spring and summer, there are likely to be 500 or 600, many of which are nesting pairs.  The monks took advantage of this phenomenon to rear birds for the table.  Hence the presence of a swanherd to ensure that as many cygnets as possible survived during the breeding season.  As a result, it is the largest managed colony of wild swans in the world.

Apparently, swans do not make for very good eating.  The meat on the adult birds is too tough, so it was only the cygnets which the monks consumed.  Even that has a fishy taste,but it suited the monks.  During the Middle Ages, the days of the week on which meat could Read More

Photographing a Hockey Match

Posted on 22nd March 2017 by Admin under Comment, Equipment, Photograph, Technique
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Usually I do not bother with giving out technical details of my shots.  In most circumstances there is little benefit, other than satisfying curiosity, from knowing the camera used or the exposure settings.  For learning about photography, it is better to understand the approach and motivation for taking a shot rather than the purely mechanical aspects.  This article is different since I shall be discussing the shots I recently took at a local hockey match.  One of the resulting images became my Photo of the Day for 19 March.

Hockey goalmouth action

In Action
A wide scene transformed by creative cropping into a panoramic format.
(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

My main reason for going to the match was straightforward.  I wanted to get some action shots.  In order to do so, I knew equipment and technique would play a significant part.  I could not just turn up and hope for the best.  Not having ever seen a game of hockey previously, I was unsure what to expect.  While I normally shoot with a couple of older Fuji-X cameras, I knew that their AF systems would be unable to cope.  And I certainly was not going to rely on manual focus.  I know sports photographers used to do that all the time, but it requires practice and focussing aids which are not normally present on modern cameras.

Equipment Used

Instead of my Fuji equipment, I took my now little used Canon 7D, standard 17-55 f/2.8 zoom, 85 f/1.8, 70-200 f/4, 300 f/4 and 1.4 extender.  It turns out that the pitch is not that large and all I needed was the 70-200.  On the 7D, with its 1.6 crop sensor, it was the full frame equivalent of a 110 – 320 lens.  With it, I was able to cover most of the playing area, although it was slightly too long when the action got close.  I solved that problem by taking shots of just the players’ legs for creative effect.

Hockey players' legs

Just The Legs
Leaving something to the imagination can achieve a better result than showing the whole scene
(Click on the image for a larger version.)

 

Hockey is a fast moving and physical game, a spectacle which offers a lot of opportunities for dramatic images.  If I am honest, I was not fully sure what was happening much of the time.  Any of the things I thought I did know, such as the ball not being allowed to exceed shoulder height, were relegated by rule changes years ago.  The best strategy was simply to follow the ball as best I could.  That was not always easy as it can travel very quickly and at times I lost sight of it in the viewfinder.

My camera is the original 7D, the launch of which dates back nearly eight years.  How well did such an “old” Read More

Photo of the Day – 19 March 2017: Going For The Ball

Posted on 20th March 2017 by Admin under Photograph
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My camera club was invited to photograph a hockey match which was the semi-final of a regional competition in which a local team competing.  It proved to be a good opportunity to get some action shots.  Unfortunately, the home side lost, so it is unlikley that I will shoot the final.

Hockey players tackling

Going For The Ball
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This post is part of my occasional “Photo of the Day” series when I publish any shots which I think might be of interest and tell the story behind them.  They might not necessarily be portfolio standard images, nor the final version, but still be of sufficient interest for inclusion in my blog.  If I do not show a shot on any given day, it does not mean that I did not take any photographs, just that I did not get anything worthwhile.  For me, that is part of the fun of photography, not knowing what I will find on a shoot when nothing is planned.