Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Moon over Mumbles, Swansea Bay

Moon over Mumbles

This is another image from my pre dawn sunrise shoot in Swansea Bay. I was trying to get the moon in the shot with Mumbles Lighthouse, but due to the wide angle lens used I thought that the moon would not show up particularly well. It was a pleasant surprise while viewing these on the computer to see that is was OK after all. The LCD screen on the back of the camera made it difficult to check this even with the magnification option available these days.

Technically the set up was the same as the previous image, with the camera set up on a tripod and the image made with mirror lock up and a cable release. This was one of the few occasions that I worked with two cameras set up on tripods with a wide angle and medium zoom lens mounted. I found that with the long exposures I was using, it enabled me to move from camera to camera making images while I recomposed the other camera ready for the next image. This way I kept away from the camera as it exposed the frame and avoided my big feet hitting the tripod!

Swansea Bay Dawn

Mumbles lighthouse before dawn

The last couple of days I have been heading out early to get to various locations, to see this happening over Swansea Bay. At last I managed to make some images of the bay before dawn and at sunrise. In winter the sun rises roughly in the middle of the bay when positioned at the Blackpill lido. The lido is a good place to position yourself as there is the option of using some of the small streams that enter the bay here as foreground interest.

The tide was out as you can see, which gives some interest in the foreground with the pools of water. They also help to break up the black area of sand. The headland is Mumbles Lighthouse which is actually trickier to photograph with the light showing than you would think. Even on some of my exposures of twenty seconds or more the light didn’t flash. It all came down to having to work out the timing of flashing of the light and triggering exposures around that. I was using daylight white balance as this gives you the cool blue shadows to contrast against the warm colours of the sky. If I had used auto white balance, I would have had to have adjusted the image in the RAW processing software as the camera would have compensated automatically for the light resulting in a plainer looking image. Plus I also prefer not to have to do too many adjustments on the computer.

It wasn’t all seals in Norfolk!

Over wintering Geese at Holkam, Norfolk

This was a field by the side of the road following the north Norfolk Coast near Holkam Hall. The geese were a mixture of  Greylag, Brent and Pink footed, with others as well. The large flocks of geese are found on all types of fields. I even found a flock of Brent geese on a local playing field!

Also by the side of the road I found a small group of Egyptian Geese as well. They were relatively approachable with my truck, so with the use of a bean bag on the door frame I managed to make a few images that were sharp even though it was quite dark at the time.

Egyptian Geese, Norfolk

We get some over wintering geese on Gower with a few Brent and Pink footed geese in the Loughor Estuary that can be seen at Salthouse point, Crofty or from the tip of Whiteford Sands and WWT National Wetlands Centre Wales British Steel hide. I hope to get out and have ago at making some images with these now the weather is getting better. It will be more difficult to make the images than in Norfolk, but at least it stops my field craft skills getting rusty!

More images from Norfolk

Male grey seal

This male seal was hanging about with the female and pup at Blakeney Point. He is probably not the father of the pup, but hoping to mate with the female when she comes into breeding status. He regularly kept other male seals away from her, but also the female would keep him away from her pup.

Female Grey Seal

This is the mother of the pup in the images in my last post. She would regularly return to the sea and play in the surf, then come out for a bit and keep an eye on her pup. The image below is a slightly different take on the same scene, with the same male in the image above from a different view point.

Male grey seal in the surf

This ain’t Gower – a few images from Norfolk

Grey seal pup, Norfolk

I managed to make a few seal images while on the sound recording course and this is one of them. This is a beach near Great Yarmouth where this year about 174 pups have been counted. They are protected by seal wardens to keep members of the public at a distance, but with a 400mm lens like the one I used here good close up images are possible. Before starting the Sound recording course I had a few days on the North Norfolk Coast where I went looking for seals at Blakeney Point. After a 4 mile walk on shingle with about 30kg of gear (don’t try this for yourself – it’s knackering!) I came across a pup, its Mum and an attending male. I stayed with them for a few hours through sunshine and heavy rain and was rewarded with some great images. Apart from the usual seal portraits, I tried a few alternative views. One of these is posted below.

Seal pup at Blakeney Point, Norfolk

It took me about 11/2 hours to get close to this pup and to make sure both adult seals present were comfortable with my presence. Luckily the tide was coming in so every so often the pup would move closer to me as well. By taking this very slow approach to the seals they soon relaxed with both adults happy to leave the pup alone for a few minutes as they had a swim and relaxed in the surf.

Sleeping seal pup

As you can see my company was enough to send it to sleep. This is a completely relaxed pup and it is moments like this that provide a tremendous amount of satisfaction for me, as I know that my presence has been accepted and I am not causing harm to my subject. The 11/2 hour crawl on my hands and knees was worth it!

You can see the occasional seal around Gower, and a few have checked me out while I have been out on my kayak, but they don’t come onto the shore very often, if at all. Further along the coast in Pembrokshire the seals do come ashore, but the tend to know which bays are pretty much inaccessible to us humans. This results in almost aerial style images taken from the cliffs above.

Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula in between the rain showers

Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula

I have been away for a few days in Norfolk recently mainly for the Wildlife sound recording course run by Piers Warren of Wildeye which I booked earlier in the year. It was a great few days and Chris Watson, who is an independent sound recordist who has worked on most of the major BBC natural history series recently, was the main tutor. Chris is very approachable and a great teacher. He was helped out by Jez Riley French, who is a sound artist and specialises in hidden sounds. Both gave very inspiring examples of the possibilities and power of sounds. I have been thinking recently that with my interest in video, sound is becoming very important. It adds an extra sensory hook when combined with visual images: still or video. I plan to start introducing more sound into my work, so keep an eye out for some new style presentation coming soon once I have got around the technical issues.

The weather has been pretty wet on Gower recently, which has been limiting opportunities to get out and make some images. In one of the brief moments between the rain showers I managed to get a few moments down on Caswell Bay. The wind was quite strong and white foam was washing up and blowing over the sand.

Foam patterns on Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula