Scottish Highlands 2022

Welcome to the Scottish Highlands 2022 post, our annual visit to Scotland. This year the weather was typically Scottish. Sun, showers, sun, heavy rain, showers etc.

The conditions did provide for some interesting cloud. As this was a holiday and not a photographic trip there won’t be any amazing sunset (or sunrise) vistas. At this time of year your looking at sunrise around 4.30am and sunset around 10.00pm.

Here’s an example of the sort of things I did capture:

It’s a standing joke in the family that the holiday hasn’t started until we get a shot of Stac Pollaidh (or as anyone not from Scotland calls it – Stac Polly).

The above shot shows one of the small island ferries on the right with a visiting sailing ship on the left. The sailing ship was moored up in Ullapool but moved before I could get a shot of it.

The next two shots are from Loch Ewe. The metal sculpture of the soldier on look out links back  to the Second World War when the Loch was used as an assembly point for the Russian artic convoys.


Here we see a typical Highland mountain and road scene:

Sometimes you get a scattering of sheep across the roads.

We didn’t see too many deer on this visit. Depending on your point of view that can be a good thing or a bad thing. They can present good photo opportunities but can also be hazard to road users. In the past we have had to swerve around a stag that suddenly jumped into the middle of the road.

This was as close as I got to a sunset photo without causing too much family disruption. In the past we’ve enjoyed some quiet time sat on that bench. On this evening however it was a bit too breezy for that.

We have had better (and worse) weather on our Scottish holidays. On the bright side between the memory of covid and everything else going on at the moment we are fortunate to enjoy a week away.

Rain or shine the time always seems to fly by and we find ourselves heading home too soon…

 

Something from the hard drive #3

The third instalment in something from the hard drive features a trio of images from a typical Cotswold town called Chipping Campden.

This trip was shot in early December, 2008. There is some sun but a lot of the buildings are in shade.

I’d like to think my photography has improved since then and presented with the same conditions I would produce a totally different set of images.

There are a lot of market towns and villages in the UK I would call hidden gems. Under the right lighting they can produce some lovely images.

All you have to do is find them and figure out when’s the best time to photograph them, which could involve multiple visits at different times of day and even different seasons.

Hey…nobody said this photography lark was easy….

Water and sky

A trio of images from last weeks nature reserve walk, featuring water and sky.


All taken on my iPhone. As with everything in life using a smartphone for photography does come with some compromises.

You can forget about the long range telephoto shots. Although having said that I never really carried around a long telephoto anyway.

The macro capability isn’t quite the same as  carrying a dedicated macro lens (obviously).

But focussing on the advantages – I’m not carrying a camera bag of gear and swapping lenses. I can do ‘Slo Mo’ water shots without a tripod so I’m not carrying a tripod either.

I’m currently only using my iPhone for photography, in a bid to see if I can go ultra light. If I’m honest I do have a bit of FOMO at the moment. After years of carrying some sort of bag with extra lenses I do feel a bit ‘naked’.

Time will tell if just using a smartphone for photography will work for me. i did have a short dalliance with a Motorola G4 some years ago and produced this.

Our annual trip to the Scottish Highlands will probably be the clincher. For the first time I’m only taking my phone. My better half doesn’t quite get the gravity of my sacrifice, responding with ” I only ever use my phone”.

I’m not suggesting that others should ditch their gear and go minimalist, I’m just trying it as an interesting experiment. As such I need to give it a fair shot and resist carrying a bag full of gear.

I will do a post along the lines of ‘The Scottish Highlands with a phone’  in due course.

Something from the hard drive #2

Something from the hard drive part 2 – these shots were an attempt at some architectural photography and if I remember rightly (they were taken in 2007) also part of a school project for my son.

The shot below was actually a streetlight which had some interesting angles and curves.

I liked the rectangles and right angles in this shot, together with the alternating glass and cladding.

All these were taken on a Nikon D70 with 18-70mm zoom,  it was a great combination of body and lens and produced some very likeable images for me.

I still think there is something about the output from the CCD sensor Nikon cameras. I have a D200 which I like but at almost a kilo just for the body, it’s getting a  bit heavier than I want to carry around these days. The D200 did produce some of my favourite photos.

I am toying with getting another CCD version Nikon, the D80, arguably the D200s’ smaller brother. The D80 has more or less the same internals in a ‘plastic’ body. This makes it lighter at around half a kilo (585g) body only. It also uses Sd cards rather than the Cf cards used by the D70 and D200.

Another advantage for me, and I know this is very subjective, is that all the bodies mentioned here just sit right in my hands.

I did have a D80 and it was one of the few cameras I regret selling. Interestingly a D80 or D200 can be had for around £60 – £70 used (depending on condition) here in the UK.

I know the output might not suit everyone but at that price, if you like CCD output I think it’s quite a bargain.

(Other Nikon CCD cameras are available😀).

A bunch of flowers and a phone

Yeah I know.. you’d rather be out taking photos… but a bunch of flowers and a phone can keep you occupied on those days you have to wait in for parcel deliveries.


Here are some roses

Without diving into the camera bag and setting up a tripod, you could still capture some close up images.

All these were taken on my iPhone. I did move the vase into the conservatory (with the blinds shut) for some more diffused lighting.

Now you could say that didn’t take long. Maybe. Maybe not.

Let’s look at it another way. You decide you want to take some photos but you can’t go out. So you think what can I photograph. Then you think where, what about lighting, angles, shadows etc. Although your still at home the whole process is the same as taking a shot anywhere else.

Your in the zone, your mind is now engaged in photography mode. You’ve escaped for however long and got some practice in. Think of photography like going down the gym – to get any benefit you have to do it regularly.

So some photographic entertainment at your finger tips or should that be flower tips🤔

You also now have an excuse (should you need one) to buy the other half even more flowers.

Go on get some brownie points in the bank…..

 

Change your angle

To get a different view of things why not change your angle.

On my latest local reserve walk I came across a couple of subjects that benefitted from an odd angle.

This veritable little forest was actually growing on top of a fence post that was only about four inches across. It looks like it’s ready to entwine anything that gets too close.

Talking of which, have a look at this:

You can just imagine something coming out of the middle of this, a bit like in the Alien movies. What do you mean you haven’t seen them? – Perhaps I watch too many movies🤔

Anyway, by changing the way we look at things we quite often see something differently. This doesn’t just apply to photographic subjects though.

Sometimes we need to change the way we look at other people and other situations.

In respect of the former I’ll leave you this little snippet of wisdom:

If you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.

 

Sea abstract

A trio of sea abstracts taken on a sunny but windy day.

After having an early lunch we decided on a bracing walk along along the beach. Considering the conditions there were quite a few people about.

I thought I would try some long exposure abstract shots for two reasons. 1. I don’t normally do long exposures. 2. I don’t normally do abstract 😀

My favourite shot of the day has to be the second one. Head on seems to work better than the first shot at an angle.

These shots were literally spur of the moment, my first experience using the long exposure option on my smartphone at the beach.

I think I will use this feature more in due course. The potential to explore long exposure photography without lugging a tripod around is appealing.

This short outing also got me thinking about doing some abstract photography, a genre I’d previously not really thought about.

Something from the hard drive #1

I’m starting a new series called ‘Something from the hard drive’. This came about from going through my images on yes, you guessed it .. my hard drive.

In this series I am picking images that may have an ‘interesting’ subject rather than be artistically ‘perfect’. You know what I mean.

So to kick off here are three images from Cardiff Bay in Wales. The first one is the corner of the Wales Millennium Centre. I thought this angle was more unusual and interesting than a straight head on shot.

This is inside the Senedd, the Welsh assembly building. The curves and lines of the roof appealed to me.

This is view looking through the transparent walls of the Senedd across part of Cardiff Bay, towards the voco ST David’s, Cardiff, the building with the curved roof. It is actually a five star hotel and no we haven’t had the pleasure of staying there.

You can easily spend a day wandering around Cardiff Bay. There are plenty of interesting subjects for the photographer and a variety of establishments for eating and drinking.

Frosty

I’m not really a morning person especially when it’s frosty. But if you want outdoor pictures in the frost you don’t have much choice. So forcing myself to get up and defrost the car I ventured  down the local reserve.

Of course it would be rude not to stop on the way for a bacon and sausage roll and a coffee. Yes the independent bakery was open early in the morning, had already cooked the bacon, sausages and baked the rolls. And here’s me thinking I was up early 😀.

Enough about getting there, here are some images:

My last one is the days favourite. When I see Snowdrops I always think Spring isn’t too far away, mornings and evenings will get lighter and the weather will warm up.

So here’s to things getting better as spring approaches, not only locally but hopefully globally.

Black and white – nailed it

Black and white – nailed it!

Forcing myself to get out on a cold but sunny morning, I tried a couple of locations before I even got the camera out.

Here are the images:


It would have been quite easy to get despondent and ‘panic’ about finding a picture. The sky was nice and blue but no cloud. The majority of the trees were bare. Being out and not wanting to go home empty handed, I started to look for something more detailed.

After a few minutes of looking around, for some reason my eyes settled on the first image of the two nails in the post. Having taken that I then thought how many other nail images would I get?

OK so not your typical photos from a walk out but I did have a bit a fun…

 

What do you do when it’s raining outside – edit

 

What do you do when it’s raining outside – edit. I make no excuses for going through my images on my hard drive, which I do quite regularly. There is not much point in taking photos if your not going to look at them!

So on a particularly wet and windy afternoon, after spending what seemed to be ages trying to kick my computer back to life I opened up my DAM program and started browsing my images. As a slight aside – if you use Lightroom or Darktable (other editors are available) you can search yours photos using metadata. Such things as Lens, camera, date, shutter speed focal length etc.

This information can be handy when deciding on potential new purchases, especially lenses. Do you get a prime because your zoom always seems to be around a prime focal length? Are you really using that macro lens as much as you thought? Of course there are other considerations but the information can help make an informed decision on new purchases and potential part exchange candidates.

On the editing front I revisited some images and started playing around with some adjustments. I should have copied the original files to post a comparison but hey ho…

In the shot below I adjusted the sky to give it a bit more detail. In the mid ground I made adjustments to the exposure, added a slight amount of dehaze and a touch of clarity. This gave better definition and made the mid scene more interesting.

In this shot I made an adjustment to the sky, tweaked the exposure of the mountain in the centre and brought up the detail on the right hand side a touch.

This shot had the most adjustments:

Originally the foreground was a lot darker obscuring the detail in the grass. I brought the sky down and sin of all sins got rid of an obtrusive power line. You can see the pole I left in on the left hand side, but it looks more abandoned than used.

I find that any adjustments should be subtle. Move the slider which ever way, then bring it back a touch. Especially the dehaze and clarity. Control Z and reset can also be your friends here 🙂

I prefer to be out taking pictures and won’t spend hours editing. In fact in all these shots I only spent a few minutes on each. Personally I like to think of the software as enhancing images rather than trying to save them. My m43 gear will easily cope with a good stop or so of adjustment. Having said that, good practice dictates trying to get somewhere close in the original exposure.

When your rained in on a Sunday afternoon wondering what to do, one option could be looking through your old images. Maybe even explore some of the features on your image editing software. There must be some buttons  you haven’t tried yet 😀. Most of us (hobbyists) probably only scratch the surface of what these packages can do. I will be the first to admit I use about 10% maybe 15% of the features of LrC.

So unless your thing is taking pictures in the rain (mine isn’t) some computer time on your image editor could be beneficial to your workflow.

After all we don’t want to be behind a screen when the weather is good.

Do we?

So January was full

So January was full in more ways than one. My oldest relocated (twice – long story) and started a new job. This required a bit of input in terms of moving and van driving. Fortunately he also had a great bunch of friends helping him out with temporary lodgings and furniture humping. I think in future our contribution will be helping to pay a removal firm 🙂

With other things going on in the TMMA household there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for photography and to be honest I wasn’t really ‘feeling it’ in terms of image making.

I did manage to have a walk and grab a couple of shots at the local reservoir.

I’ve taken similar shots to this before but with a lot less water – these  were the levels in May. Get the title now?

Here’s another couple:

This is the first time I’ve actually seen water on this overflow outlet. Apologies if that’s not what it’s called.

Anyway it was a great walk and a welcome distraction. Even though I’d describe the temperature as ‘fresh’ it was sunny.

Other walkers I met that day also agreed it was a nice day to get out…..

 

Happy new year for 2022

I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to do any more posts this year so if not Happy New Year!

I’m going to start a new series of posts next year, but don’t want to give any spoilers away too early.

This Christmas the TMMA household has been busier than normal during the festive period but given the last couple of years there are no complaints.

Here’s a visual break, almost seasonal photo and cryptic clue to one of my favourite tipples:

Grouse in snow covered english countryside

As we go into 2022 we face an uncertain few weeks. There could be more lockdowns or restrictions or both. You have to wonder how long retail / hospitality etc will be able to cope with this. If you read any news articles they seem to be negative in terms of outlook. We have rising inflation in the UK and  bigger energy bills looming. It would appear that incomes will be squeezed.

What effect this will have on a already contracting photo industry remains to be seen. Chip shortages are affecting not only photographic gear  but seemingly anything electronic. Camera manufacturers are already shifting production to prioritise higher price equipment. I can’t really see how more expensive gear will help anybody.

We need a long term strategy for global economies and health organisations rather than bumping along from one variant to the next.

Talking of long term strategies I’m making plans to modify my photographic workflow. I’m not going to give too much away now but it will involve a total rethink on how I capture and process  images.

I’m not one for making New Years resolutions. Whether your moving house, job, or making any other life changes may you realise your dreams and ambitions.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2022.

‘Twas still outside

‘Twas still outside, well there was no wind at least. Family commitments have overtaken photo opportunities for the time being, but I did manage to have a short trip out.

Here’s a couple from the local reservoir on an unusually still day. It’s not very often this much water has a mirror like finish.

This shot is from a slightly different angle showing more of the wall. The level is still relatively low.

It was a good job there was no wind because the temp just managed to reach 3 degrees Celsius. Adding a wind chill to that would have made for very interesting  conditions.

There was still some nice frost patterns on top of the wall, unfortunately due it being late afternoon the wall was already in shadow.

On a bright note we have passed the shortest day, which if your like me and don’t like the dark days of winter is very good news.

Getting back to my roots

Getting back to my roots. No this isn’t an article on ancestry.

On a walk in one of the local woods I came across some fallen trees. The upended root structures varied between interesting and bordering on spooky, almost like they could eat you, if it was dark. And Halloween 🙂

Here are the images:

The lighting proved interesting. It was a sunny day and some roots were in shade while others were in the sun. Despite forgetting to bring the sky down a bit with a graduated ND filter, I think my little m43 camera handled the conditions well.