Category Archives: Video

Ilston Valley in the snow, Gower Peninsula

  

The second fall of snow caught me completely by surprise, as it did the weather forecasters I believe. I was hoping to get an image of Three Cliffs, but with the snow falling still, occasionally with heavy falls, visibility was reduced so a wider view wasn’t possible at that time. I retreated to woodland as I had been inspired by some images of that I had seen in various wildlife photography competitions. I didn’t want to copy them, but see what I could get myself in those conditions.

I’ve been experimenting a bit with vertical pans of woodlands. My images aren’t true vertical pans as I’m using a ball head to do it so there is some lateral movement as well. The image top left is one of my more successful ones as it is possible to work out what the image is of still. To achieve this I only moved the head for half of the exposure time.  I quite like the technique which is strange considering that I am more of a straight photographic image type person. The technique isn’t that original any more, but I have seen some variations with horizontal pans; mainly of landscapes to produce horizontal bands of colour.

  

I liked the snow and shape of the fallen branch. Due to the lack of any colour I decided to process it in black and white. The snow had great texture, plus it wasn’t perfectly even and white. Later on as it got darker, the blue in the shadows started to increase since I always shoot with the camera set to the daylight white balance setting. The blue needs to be scaled back slightly in processing, but I like to keep a hint of it as it emphasises the cold nature of the day. Completely cancelling out the blue cast makes the image too warm and “clean” for my taste. I wanted to use the blue cast in the above image to emphasise and complement the stronger green of the tree trunks. Even though there isn’t much happening visually, I like the feel of the image.

In a world of black and white with a bit of green and grey occasionally, the orange of the retained beech leaves really stood out. Eventually I found one with an uncluttered background and used a 300mm lens to compress the perspective, blur the background further and help isolate the leaf. The snow was starting to melt and sleet had replaced snow  at this time, so the water droplets were another welcome addition.

I managed to make a quick video edit of the woodland as well. I hope it coveys the atmosphere of the woodland at that time.

 

Winter Woodland from Gower Photography on Vimeo.

Thinking about Photography with Joel Meyerowitz

I’m often surprised on my Day courses or workshops that some participants seen to think that there is only one image in a particular location and that once they have taken it there is nothing else to photograph. They don’t seem to want to experiment and move forward from an image that has been done many times before and find their own vision of the location. To me that is part of the challenge of working in a “local patch”. It is easy to keep repeating yourself in the same locations, perhaps the lighting is different but essentially the framing is the same. Finding an alternative view makes you think, plan and develop your photographic brain more. So here’s a question for you. Why do we need to have a foreground, middle and background interest in a landscape image? And while I’m at it , why does it have to be in focus from front to back?

Joel  Meyerowitz talks about a similar theme in the video below. Perhaps there aren’t any more options in a particular genre, location etc. so he talks about going over the threshold into another area of photography. I’m still working out my threshold and where I would like to move onto next in those areas of photography that I feel I’m stagnating in. What’s your threshold?

 

 

The Elidir Trail, Waterfall Country, Brecon Beacons National Park

With Gower being quite busy at the moment, the overcast weather and plus I needed to start planning some courses for next year, I decided to take myself off to waterfall country in the Brecon Beacons National Park. I don’t seem to spend as much time in the beacons as I should do. They are easy to access from Swansea, so I don’t really have much of an excuse for not visiting. Even in the height of the holiday season there seems to be room for everyone and it didn’t feel that busy.

Although the water levels are quite low at the moment and the falls are not as impressive as in the winter, it allows photographers to get closer to the falls than normal and get different view points. Not being a lover of really long exposures with pictures of water, I found that I was sacrificing some depth of field and using wider apertures, plus increasing the ISO to get more detail in the flowing water. The light levels did force a few long exposures, but I think I managed to limit it to about one and a half seconds for the longest exposure.

For the image above I climbed onto the second layer or upper part of Sgwd Ddwli Isaf falls. In winter this just isn’t possible, but in summer you just have to contend with the slippery rock instead. The grip of my walking boots just about managed it, so I was  a bit surprised when I was joined by somebody wearing flip flops! Another visitor was barefoot, which makes a bit more sense in a way as bare feet do provide better grip sometimes. It never ceases to amaze me that just because it is summer people feel they can traverse the country side in flip flops, t shirt and shorts whatever the terrain.

After visiting all the falls on the trail, I decided to have a bit of a wander around the area to see what was about and see if I could get a decent view of the wind farm on a nearby hilltop. I didn’t manage to find a clear view, but the light had gone very grey, but interesting at the same time with varying levels of brightness in the sky. As soon as I saw the tree below, I knew that I wanted to photograph it and in black and white, but finding a viewpoint was harder than I thought as various fences got in the way making a good view point harder. As there was not much interest in the sky and foreground, I knew that it would need to be cropped to a panoramic format, but found that it didn’t work as well with a tight panoramic crop. Having some space for the sky and foreground gave the tree a more isolated feel to it.

Update 12th August:

A quick video edit of the Elidir Trail

Waterfall Country from Gower Photography on Vimeo.

Passing storm – Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower Peninsula

The last couple of evenings have had some really good light and clearing skies and after concentrating on photographing spring growth recently, I decided it was time for a change. I must admit that it was a bit of a last minute decision as I had just cleared up after trying to do a surround sound recording of the Elizabeth & Row Harding Nature Reserve in Ilston.

The rain had brought an abrupt end to the recording, but by the time I had packed up, the rain had passed and some great light was available. The sun was low and very strong, which really defined the contours and details on the landscape. The sun was dropping quite fast, so I needed somewhere where I could catch the last few rays. I probably missed the peak moment by the time I had set up at Llanrhidian Marsh, but the light was still quite good and highlighted the headland with Weobley Castle well. Some of the contrast in the scene is lost as the sun was close to being in line with the direction of the lens giving some image flare, but I quite like the effect. The sky behind the castle was bright and not that interesting, so I cropped most of it out as it is distracting in the original image.

The cloud cover was changing rapidly, which produced lots of possible different image styles. The above image was originally made for a black and white conversion, but when I was processing the RAW file it looked better in colour. I’m still undecided about the heavy near black lower border, but I do like this two dimensional style landscape image. I seem to make a few of these when I look back on my other images.

When the sun had dropped below the horizon and with the clouds breaking up, the landscape lit up again. With the aid of stacked neutral density graduated filters to control the contrast range, I managed to make a few images to emphasise the light on the passing clouds. It always amazes me that just after the sun goes below the horizon there is a short period of a few minutes when the light intensity actually increases. I can’t remember why this happens, but you can see the change in your camera meter. This moment is always a good time to make some pictures as the light is always quite special.

I managed a quick video clip of the passing storm. It seems quite odd having the birds singing in the background as the storm passed, but as I was positioned close to a hedge this is really what I could hear at the time.

Passing Storm – Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower Peninsula from Gower Photography on Vimeo.

Lousy Weather – trying something new

With the weather being so grey and overcast photographic opportunities have been fairly limited. Normally overcast weather is good for detail images, but at this time of year there isn’t to much going on really to photograph anyway. I got a bit fed up of doing rock and plant detail close up photographs and then converting them into black and white.

In April this year I am off on a wildlife sound recording course with the master sound recordist/artist Chris Watson. You may have seen him on Autumnwatch, some of Bill Oddies programs or heard his work on many of the David Attenborough TV series. I have found that sound recording fits in well with my photographic work, especially when the light is not that interesting or has gone completely. The interest was triggered by me starting to use the video function on my DSLR. Most people use music on their videos, but occasionally this distracts from the images. It has been said that sound is 50% of a video/film and this has proved to be very true.

The video above started as an audio project to get some recordings together for the course, but then morphed into a project to see if I could get some images, still and video, that could match in with the sound. The still images don’t seem to portray the motion as well as the video, so it became more of a video project.

The editing of the video has proved far more complex than I envisaged and I think it still needs some more work to try and reflect the audio a bit more. Wind is a difficult subject to record and can come across as a mushy indiscriminate sound. The recording is a mix of two stereo tracks, but I think it needs a few specific audio close ups of various visual parts in the video e.g. the leaves rustling in the wind, the sound of the tree trunks flexing etc. If I get time and the desired recordings, I will update the sound on the video. There is a longer sound recording below, if you want more of the recording. The best way to listen to sounds is to try and cut out information of the other senses, so close your eyes to remove the visual distractions.

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I hope to do a few more mixed postings with stills, audio and video. Let me know what you think!

Kittiwake Update from Mumbles Pier plus some video

The Kittiwakes are doing well at Mumbles Pier despite the heat. Check out the photos of fellow Gower blogger, Adam Tilt HERE to see how they coped in the higher temperatures. I revisited last Sunday as it had become a bit cloudier which helps with the contrast in the images. By the time I got to the pier and with an opening time of 9am, the clouds had cleared and the sun was out. Luckily where some of the birds nest is in the shade so I was able to make some images. I was trying to get some images of the chicks, but as they don’t do too much at the moment, plus a lot of the adults are still brooding them, I had limited success. I tried a few variations, some of which worked, but I also decided to make a quick video for those of you who are not able to get to the pier.

A few comments on the video. The audio makes it sound that it is quite noisy in the colony. It is actually relatively quiet for a gull colony, compared to those I have spent some time around on Skomer & Skokholm Islands off the Pembrokeshire coast. The editing just seemed to make it appear as if birds are calling all the time when they are not usually. For those of you who think they can detect the sound of a pressure washer at some stage, you will be correct. The crew of the RNLI lifeboat, which is stationed off the same pier as the Kittiwakes, were cleaning the lifeboat down while I was trying to make the video. It didn’t seem to matter if I stopped filming and started again later. The pressure washer always seemed to come on when I pressed record. I now appreciate after trying sound recording on my course with Wildeye last year how difficult it is to get a clean sound recording like we are used to hearing on TV etc.

Enjoy the video!

Glossy Ibis, my First Nikon D300s Video and being slightly ahead of myself – Hurry up Adobe!

Raindrops on a spiders web

A bit of a cliche photograph this, but with all the rain we had recently there were plenty of opportunities to make this image. I hadn’t actually noticed this web in my back garden until it rained!

I was going to post some images of the Glossy Ibis that are present near the old Pembrey Docks, near Burry Port as today I spent nearly all afternoon photographing this unusual and rare visitor to the UK. Birders present stated that it was the first sighting of the Glossy Ibis in Carmarthenshire since 1910. The rings on some of the birds have been identified as from the Camargue region of France, which is closer to their Mediterranean habitat. At this time of year the birds start relocating to Africa to over winter, before returning to the Mediterranean in spring.

The title of the post refers to the fact that I was using my new Nikon D300s to photograph the birds, and it was only when trying to download the images into Adobe Lightroom that I remembered that Adobe hasn’t updated Lightroom yet to read files from the D300s yet! Bother! I will have to wait till this comes out before posting some stills. This leads nicely onto the reason I bought the D300s. I can’t post stills, but I can post some VIDEO! The little video that follows is a really quick edit in Windows movie maker. Some of the images need to be sharper or better levelled, so hopefully this will come with practice. As a first effort with the camera I am pretty pleased. Lastly I would like to thank Adam Tilt who posted on his blog and via Twitter the position of the birds.

 

A change from the usual subject – HELP PORTRAIT

Incoming Tide, Salthouse Point, Crofty, Gower Peninsula

Nature and natural history photography are the main focus of my photography, but haven’t always been so. I have gone through phases with my photography over the years, sometimes depending on my location at the time. I started my photography taking landscape pictures in Black and White, moving onto street scenes when I moved to London. I progressed from Black and White to colour and from street scenes to fashion and glamour model portfolios and then finally back to landscapes and natural history. Now I am temporarily going back to portrait photography.

You may wonder why I’m stating all this. I have signed up to the HELP PORTRAIT  programme that is the brain child of American photographer Jeremy Cowart.  Please watch his video explanation of the scheme below and join in if you think you can help. Contact me if you are interested in teaming up in the Swansea area.

Please help someone less fortunate this Christmas and please spread the word using the buttons below or just tell your friends and other photographers, hairdressers, make up artists, charities etc. Thanks.

Video of Ilston Valley in Spring

 

I made this video from my compact camera video mode so the quality is limited. I will post some images I made at the same time in another post. I thought it would be good to show what Ilston valley is like this time of year. The bluebells are fully out, but the wild garlic is not at its peak yet. I use the valley for one of  my Gower Photography Day Courses. Although it is only a small valley it has a great selection of habitats – deciduous and pine woodland, open grassland, a small stream and regular hawthorne, bluebell and wild garlic flowerings. A path runs the length of the valley from the back of the Gower Inn in Parkmill to Ilston Church so access is easy, although it does get muddy at times.

The bird life is great and Kingfishers have been seen on the stream. The photographic opportunities for the kingfishers are difficult, they usually see you before you see them. Wild flowers are present throughout the summer, but some parts of the valley get quite dark under the tree canopy. In Autumn there is some good colour on the trees and fungi on the valley floor. Winter is also a good season for imaging with frost coating the stark winter plant growth, and this is an ideal time to use black and white in your images.