Posts in Category: Out n about

Out for an evening drive

When the weather is good it’s nice to sometimes go out for an evening drive. You never really know what you will see. Some of the usual spots that you think will provide a good photo can be disappointing. The clouds aren’t quite right, there’s a camper van (or two) in the way, you know the usual stuff.

A layby on a main road wouldn’t be my first choice to capture a sunset, however I think this shot didn’t come out too bad.

Sunset over fields

Yes I did brighten up the foreground a touch to provide a bit of interest.

The trouble with chasing a sunset is knowing when to carry on driving to find a better view and…..knowing when to stop and take a shot.

You could try for something better but you might be chasing unicorns….

 

Thought this only came out at night

Thought this only came out at night… now bear with me.

An early morning walk around one of my regular haunts provided a bit of a surprise. Enjoying the peace and quiet I was happily strolling along looking for potential subjects. The sun was out and the temperature was steadily rising. It was going to be a warm one today.

The route in front of me was scattered with a criss cross of tree roots, some higher than others. As the path rose this is what I came across:

hedgehog in morning sun

I dont know who was more surprised me or this little chap (let’s call him Harry). When Harry saw me he looked up a little startled. We had a bit of a stand off, probably both wondering why we were out so early. Although at about half eight in the morning I’d of thought Harry should be in bed. Anyway he obligingly posed for a few frames and then turned around.

I thought Harry would make a run for it but instead he seemed quite happy to walk in front of me for a while. I must say it was a bit surreal to be sharing a path with a hedeghog. After a few minutes Harry decided to go left up a grassy bank where he stopped and bid me farewell.

Who would think going out to take some photos would lead to experiences like this…

 

 

Some square macros

I thought I would post some square macros. As stated before my definition of macro (traditionally 1:1 or life size) also includes images that are taken close to the subject but not necessarily 1:1.

water drops on blade of grass

There are many variations of water drops on blades of grass or plants. A bit like images of clouds, you could argue that each one is unique, the water, like the clouds are transient and would be difficult if not impossible to capture at a later date.

Here is another one.

Arching leaves like this one pose a challenge to the photographer. In a form over function like dillemma, the point of focus is open to interpretation and consequently will affect the out of focus areas as a result. One way around this would be focus stacking, depending on what you are going for. Personally I’m happy with out of focus areas in my images. Others might focus stack for front to back sharpness.

Insects provide another example of being able to choose what areas you want in focus. The generally  accepted method is to focus on the eye. With macro and the resulting razor thin depth of field a choice has to be made as to at what point things become less sharp. Focus stacking can be handy here if you have an agreeable subject.

Most insects I come across tend to have a time limit on posing for the camera though 🙂

What a difference a few weeks makes

What a dfference a few weeks makes at the local nature reserve. The following images were taken seven weeks apart:

nature reserve on 10 may

 

natyure reserve on 21 june

The top was taken May 10th, the bottom, June 21st this year. In both cases there is a bridge slightly above centre, In the first image it is clearly visible, In the second you can just about see the top bar.

Both of these photos bring up an interesting point. I regularly revisit places to see how they change through the seasons or with different light.

Natures reserves are a good example because if you go there often enough you get to know when damselflies and dragonflies are about in summer and various birds over winter / spring. You could also include fields or forests for flowers such as wild garlic, daffodils, snowdrops and the more popular lavender and bluebells.

I once met a chap on a nature reserve who was after a picture of a specific dragonfly. He knew what time of year it would be around and where to look on a reserve of acres, to within a few feet. While talking, right on que the dragonfly appeared and flew in its usual ‘pattern’. The guy knew at once. I left him to it so I wasn’t a hindrance. For most of us shooting digital we probably would have sprayed and prayed we got something. This guy was shooting film. Theres dedication.

By returning to a certain area we become more familar with whats going on and a better chance to capture certain images. This could apply to castles and lighthouses as easily to insects or birds.

You could make a project out of photographing the same scene over a period of time. For instance, Coastal, urban or woodland shots could be a great starting place.

You might not be the first person to do this, but you might capture some great images showing how a view changes with time. More importantly you can make it personal with your local beach, town or wood.

I didn’t set out to make a project of the above shots, I just happen to take the images from a similar place. To close, here is a photo I took in March. Just slightly to right of the two above. The bridge is on the left hand side of the frame.

View across nature reserve in March

Unfortunately I never bumped into the dragonfly hunting film photographer again. I hope he got what he wanted 🙂

 

Along the riverside

Along the riverside – a calming walk by a Scottish River. We are fortunate that (barring pandemics), the TMMA household get to have at least a couple of breaks a year in the Scottish Highlands. There are vistas galore to explore, in the car, by bike, walking or even if you like trekking over mountains (which I don’t really do).

The views change with the light, the weather and the seasons. On our last visit one very warm and sunny afternoon I managed to spend some time along the river bank. Away from the tourist hotspots you may not actually come across anyone else.

Being one to burn easily I have to be careful how much time I spend in the sun. On this particular walk I took advantage of the numerous areas of shade and just listened to the water.

I took in the sights and sounds as I slowly ambled along. The water rippling over the rocks, the sheep baaing (hope that’s a word) away in the fields. The wind rustling the branches of the trees and keeping things cool.

The water looked very inviting but I refrained from paddling.

 

Ok so no competition winners here but that doesn’t matter.

Glorious surroundings, great weather and a camera in hand… what more could you want?

#livingthedream

 

A trio of black and white

A trio of black and white images at one of the local reservoirs. These were intentionally taken as black and white rather than thinking afterwards if it should be converted.

black and white barn

I actually saw this on the way up to the reservoir (technically across the road) and thought straight away there was a picture here. The colours weren’t too bad either but I wanted an intentional monochrome image. For some reason part of me thinks this is more reminscient of rural North America rather than rural North England.

This bridge is at the inlet end of the reservoir. The levels have gone up a bit but still remain low. It would be interesting to get a shot with the water a lot higher.

Shutting the gate I noticed this pattern made by the steelwork. These old gate and fences can have some real photographic potential, a lot of them lending themselves to suitable black and white images.

For a challenge when out and about think if your subject could benefit form the monochrome treatment. This could be easier if like me, you’ve shot monochrome before. If not, why not set your camera to black and white and see what you think. It may not be for you or you might quite like it. Who knows until you try?

Or perhaps capture images in a different format. You don’t need to go out and buy a huge and heavy medium format system to get square images. I must admit that can be a lot of fun if you want to get into film and maybe developing and processing at home, but if you just want to ‘try before you buy’ see if you can set your digital camera to record square first. Some can, some can’t, fortunately my current camera can. All is not lost however because you can always crop to square in post processing. It might just be a bit harder to visualize at capture.

Personally I’m leaning towards shooting square for a while, but we’ll see what happens……

If you want to explore black and white, film and different formats check out this chaps website and You Tube http://steveonions.com/

Tracks trees and bridges

Tracks, trees and bridges ended up being the subject instead of snow in May. Yep thats right we had snow. In May. Can’t remember the last time that happened.

Anyhow I thought I’d pop out and get some snow scenes, then discovered it was very localised. Knowing I was up against some cloudy weather moving in I decided to go to plan B.

lone tree with line of sheep

Looking across this field I envisaged a lone tree shot, until the sheep decided to form a line and head towards the farmer at a gate out of shot to the left. Not sure if it was feeding time but they were very excited. I think I will ‘adopt’ the tree for future potential images.

At the time I thought there was a shot here, but the image didn’t really work. Better to take something than pass it by though.

small arched bridge

Couldn’t quite decide the angle on this one. Perhaps a little to the left would have been better. Should have worked the scene a bit more. I’ve  said that before haven’t I ?

disused railway bridge across river.

This old railway bridge will probably look better when there are more leaves on the trees, maybe even Autumn?

Railway track curving into distance

Again some more colour in the foilage and brighter conditions might result in a better image.

railway bridge and track

This shot combines all three elements of the title.

Lastly a shot of the tracks curving beyond the bridge.

I actually passed where all these shots were taken on my way out when the light was better. I headed off thinking I might have got some better landscape images somewhere else. As it turned out it would have been more advantageous to stop here first. Live and learn.

So what’s the take away from this? Well the shots weren’t bangers, but it has given me somewhere to return to in better conditions.

I had a good time exploring a previous unknown area and got some exercise in the process.

After the last 18 months it’s just nice to get out……..

Windy day at the coast

A windy day at the coast. Not too surprising as generally you do get a bit of a breeze where the sea meets land.

View to the Larne Islands

This is a view across to the Farne Islands, just off the north east coast of England.

In the other direction we have:

Bamburgh Castle and coast

This is Bamburgh Castle. Normally shot from the other side, but I thought through the dunes was interesting. Although it was windy there was enough heat haze to result in some distortion. I didn’t really notice it at the time. If it had been a decent shot the blue tent on the left would have received a good cloning.

Another shot affected by the heat haze.

This one could have done with some more space at the top. Thinking about it now I should have either gone for the castle or the rocks but not both.

As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased there will be plenty of opportunities for us to get out again, see friends and family and venture further afield to capture images. We’ll be able to polish up our photography skills and maybe even enjoy a pie and chips or pint (or both) at the coast. Mmmmm.

After the lockdowns we have all endured, I for one will relish the simple pleasures……

 

Levels at the reservoir

Levels at the local reservoir on a recent outing were quite low, including the water.

low water level at the reservoir

The UK is known for talking about (read complaining) the weather. It’s too hot, cold, wet, dry, frosty. You get the idea. As evidenced above we could actually do with some rain. When you think about it we don’t seem to have had much rain recently. A warm spell during April lulled us into a false sense of security with what now feels like a cold start to May.

fishermen at reservoir

These fishermen seemed to make the most of the early morning conditions. The other level alluded to in the title is light. I was really hoping the light would turn into something more than the meh in these scenes. Unfortunately it was not to be.

boats on the shoreline at reservoir

There is a better image here than I managed to capture. With the right light I think this scene has potential.

bench against wall

Even black and white couldn’t save the day from the flat overcast light.

Black and wwhite brick building at reservoir

I’m putting down this outing as a scouting expedition. 😉

A couple of close ups

Here are a couple of close ups following on from my ‘looking a bit bare‘ post, which explored the local nature reserve before it bursts into life again in spring.

I deliberately went out in what could have been rainy conditions. The idea being the lure of capturing some water drop images. Just to prove things dont always go as planned:

Not quite what I was expecting

These two leaves were covered in water drops and looked far more interesting than I managed to capture here. Not only did I fail to get the scene I witnessed, for bonus points points I managed to mess up the focus as well. There are no excuses here. I should have taken a few more shots from different angles. Don’t know why I didn’t, it wasn’t like I was pushed for time. So much for working the scene.

Here is a slightly more sucessful image:

water drops on leaf

Better but still room for improvement.

Having caught the water drops on the leaf edge I didn’t notice the pointed leaf on the right. When I want to waste of couple of hours editing I will try to clone out the offending article :).

A little bit down the trail I found this fungi:

I am fascinated by the different types and shapes of fungi but haven’t a clue as to any of thier names. Note to self – research types of fungi.

So in terms of photography no award winners on this trip. But it doesn’t matter. I was out with my camera getting some fresh air and enjoying the great outdoors.

A decent picture is just icing on the cake.

Stay safe.

PS: Here’s the modified version:

Water drops on edge of leaf

The ‘improved’ version

Version 2.1

Looking a bit bare

Looking a bit bare…. is how I would describe the local nature reserve.

Instead of posting about gear – I actually did a gear post and took it down again – I thought I would post about how different the local nature reserve looks before spring comes.

Stream and sparse undergrowth

Looking out from the bridge

You can’t normally see across here due to the vegetation.

Opposite view to above

Once all this has grown back I will take some comparsion views. Later in the year these two areas will become a hive of insect activity and in due course home to damselflies and dragonflies.

right angled tree branch leading to spiral pattern

Is there a photo here?

I’m sure there is a photo here but I haven’t found it yet. I normally try to work the scene but currently a decent shot here evades me.

For a final shot we have Woody doing his thing:

Hers to getting a bit further a field in due course.

Stay safe.

Catching a Sunrise

Catching a sunrise proved a bit harder than I thought. On a nice but cold morning I thought of incorporating some exercise with a photo session. Thinking I got up early enough was my first error. It took longer to defrost the car than I anticipated. With the windscreen clear I set off on the short drive to my chosen destination.

The car park was covered in ice as I pulled in. Any thoughts of getting out again were quickly put to one side while I wrapped up and gathered the camera gear. The car thermometer put the outside temperature at -3 degrees C (note to self figure out how to do degree sign on the laptop).

A short walk later and this was the view:

 

Continuing along the in places, very icy path I came across some grouse.

grouse

These two seemed to be calling each other from either side of the path. Within a few seconds they had disappeared back into the undergrowth.

While most people use sleepers to build a bed or wall in their garden, at some stage it would appear they were also used for fences:

I don’t know how long these have been here, but the weathering would suggest some time. By now the temperature had increased to just above freezing.

Time to call it a day and see if the car will get out of the car park. Spoiler alert, it did.

Stay safe.

PS. found the ° symbol. Eventually.

 

Snow scenes

Some nice snow scenes resulted from the recent weather. Observing lockdown restrictions here in the UK,  I went for a local walk and came across the following:

snowy scene

The snow had turned the fields into a white barren like landscape. With no wind and suitably wrapped up for the conditions it was quite pleasent. I would estimate that there was a good 6 inches of the white stuff around. Maybe deeper in places.

snowy countryside

Rather than take the DSLR, I popped the Nikon V1 in my pocket and just in case had a spare battery. My current cameras are pretty good in respect of battery life. But not knowing how long I would be out in the cold, I took a spare. In fact I always carry spares no matter the weather but very rarely need them. You can bet the one time you don’t have a spare, you’ll turn the camera into a paperweight just as that banger of a photo appears round the next corner.

snowy countryside

Talking of things I normally carry: filters. I have a small ND Grad for my Nikon 1 gear. On this occasion it was still indoors nice and warm.  Given the snow and the time I went out I should have known better. With the filter I could have calmed down the right side of the above photos a bit. Ah well, next time maybe I’ll grab the whole bag of gear rather than just the camera. Being Nikon 1 it’s not like it’s an ardous weight to carry around.

I actually just weighed my N1 bag. Any guesses?  1.4kg all in. Thats a body, four lenses, (two zooms, two primes, equal to 28-300mm), spare battery, gps, mini tripod, spare sd cards and filters. Should of just grabbed the bag eh?

All of the above images were overexposed by two stops. I least I remembered to do that 🙂

Stay safe.

Blast Beach Seaham

Blast Beach, Seaham

A recent opportunity led to me exploring Blast Beach in Seaham, County Durham.

The beach was once so polluted from local mining operations that it featured as a desolate landscape in the sci-fi film Aliens 3. After a monumental clean up it can now be enjoyed as a ‘proper’ beach again.

Blast beach

Blast Beach 1

The nearby free parking leads across the top of the cliff and down a very steep and sometimes slippery path (the dip in the cliff face, photo above) The access I’ve found so far is only suitable for the able bodied.

A wander along the shore line can reveal some interesting items:

Londonderry brick

Londonderry brick

This well eroded brick still clearly shows its place of origin. You can only speculate as to how this turned up on the North East Coast of England.

Blast Beach layers

Layers

The above photo shows remnants of the deposits on the beach in different coloured layers.

Blast Beach

Arch

There could be some interesting opportunities for long exposure photography but it will require some return trips. And not leaving the tripod in the car.

A short walk (and even shorter drive) will find you in Seaham. There is a harbour and lovely Promenade with numerous places to stop and have a coffee or meal. Even better when we don’t have to worry about the dreaded C word. I’ll do a separate post on Seaham in the new year.

Being on the North East coast at this time of year (actually anytime of year) I would advise appropriate clothing.

There can be a quite bracing wind 🙂

I had to say it…

I had to say it…. In my last post entitled – It seemed to be getting better – I forget to tell Covid-19 that it was the heading of a blog post, not a challenge.

Large parts of the UK have had new restrictions imposed on them. Although inconsistent messages appear to be put across to the masses.

But this is a photography blog so lets get back to that. Unfortunately our latest escape became a non household mixing holiday as well, so our numbers were drastically reduced.

So the wife and I toured a part of Scotland we had only previously driven through.

Out of seven days we only had one day of rain. Not too bad for Scotland. The light wasn’t too bad either.

Loch, Oban, Scotland

Loch, Oban, Scotland

It seemed to be slightly quieter than we would have expected, although most of the places we visited were new to us. Having been to Fort William and Glenfinnan before they appeared to be the usual hot spots. Yes they are a bit of drive from Oban. We like to get around and explore when on holiday. It gives us an idea for future places to visit (think of it as scouting) or avoid depending on what we are after.

While the holiday wasn’t what we planned, we feel fortunate to have managed to get away at all. For our next Scottish holiday we are considering another area we havent visited much – the eastern coast. That will be next year when hopefully we won’t be talking about Covid as much.

Between coming back and doing this post there is talk of new restrictions for the Scottish Central region and something similar in parts of England.

Being in October now, it makes you wonder what sort of Christmas to expect…….

I’ve added a collection of other images of Oban in the 12 Pics series available here.