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
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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

(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
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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.

Transition to Fuji – Part 4

Posted on 1st March 2017 by Admin under Comment, Equipment
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It is time to wrap up my review of the current camera market with the fourth and final instalment of this series.  I now have a camera system which I am happy to use in most circumstances.  That would not be the case if I did a lot of action photography, for which a fast focussing DSLR remains the best option.   There is the prospect of an eventual upgrade to a newer model with the 24 MP sensor, but I am in no rush.  I went to a Fuji launch event for the X-T2 where a well known fashion photographer was presenting.  He had only had the camera for a few days and consequently no images taken with the camera to show us.  Instead he had shots taken mainly with the X-T1 and a few with the X-Pro2.

At this point the Fuji reps present should have been having kittens.  The message was obviously meant to be that if good results are possible with the older 16 MP camera, imagine what the new one can do.  To my eye, and believe me I looked closely, there was not much difference between the prints.  Admittedly AF speed and some ergonomic issues have been addressed, but we have long reached the stage of sufficiency with digital cameras.  The secondhand value of digital cameras plummets rapidly and Fuji has not helped itself in that regard.  As witness to that, the two cameras I own have been acquired cheaply, at prices well below the original selling cost.  Ironically that is partly what persuaded me to buy into the system.

Why no aperture markings?

No aperture markings on the XF 18-55 lens
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Why are there no values marked on the 18-55 lens aperture ring?

So, Fuji is the perfect camera?  Not exactly.  Some of the controls are not as intuitive as my Canon DSLR and Fuji demonstrates a lot of confusion when it comes to setting apertures.  Most lenses have an old fashioned aperture ring.  For prime lenses and zooms with fixed apertures, the values are marked on the rings.  Zooms with variable apertures do not.  Come on Fuji, I know that if I have bought such a lens the Read More

Photo of the Day – 11 February 2017: Cat in a Window

Posted on 12th February 2017 by Admin under Comment, Location, Photograph
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It was cold and it was dull.  No complaints about that, it was what the weatherman had predicted.  Less welcome was the constant sleet which had not been in the forecast.  I had joined the London Region of the RPS for a street walk in the Greenwich area, making sure to wrap up warmly for the occasion.  The route took us from the O2 Arena along the Thames footpath into the centre of town, finishing close to the Cutty Sark.

At least, we tried to follow the footpath.  The area used to be home to a lot of industry, but much of it has gone to be replaced by blocks of flats.  There is also a deep water terminal for cruise ships under construction.  Ongoing building work has temporarily closed off a large section of the riverside to walkers and there was a lengthy diversion before we were able to get back to the river.  Some riverside industrial buildings do remain, but I wonder for how much longer?  The area is constantly changing.

Cat in a Window

Cat in a Window
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Inclement weather spoils the day?

So, conditions were not really suited to photography?  If there is such a thing as bad light, it is not what I and the rest of our small and intrepid group experienced.  The haze in the distant views was atmospheric and the soft, non directional light was good for capturing detail.  It is what I would call it a monochrome day, although some Read More

Photo of the Day – 9 February 2017: Hyacinth

Posted on 10th February 2017 by Admin under Comment, Equipment, Photograph
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A cold and dull day, such as the one experienced around here today, does limit the scope for photography.  There are options to use the soft light to shoot details, but as there were some fresh flowers in the house I took that option instead.  I chose a hyacinth and used the same setup as the one for my monochrome flower shot on 11 January.  My recently acquired Leica Elmarit-R 60 macro lens was mounted on a full frame camera.  The background is a piece of black velvet and I used a silver reflector to fill in the right side.


(Click on image for a larger version)


Post Capture Processing

I processed the resulting Raw file in Lightroom, which included tidying up some blemishes, before opening it in Photoshop.  The hyacinth had been at a more inclined angle as shot, so I straightened it slightly.  My initial framing had been quite tight, so I enlarged the canvas filling the new area with black.  The Read More