Monthly Archives: August 2010

Hay Bales at Scurlage, Gower Peninsula

After returning from my 1-2-1 tuition with Tom at Worm’s Head yesterday, I saw these Hay bales on the horizon as I headed into Scurlage. I haven’t seen many of these around Gower before as Gower is mainly livestock and dairy farming. The conditions were still a bit bright, but with the blue sky it was an opportunity to try a few images. Due to the location of the sun and the layout of the bales, the best position for competition was fairly limited so I tried to introduce some variation using different lenses. I think I prefer the image above at the moment, but the image below was a wider view with a 12mm lens. Where I think it fails slightly is in how the bales split the horizon. Ideally any object crossing the horizon should either be well above or below the horizon. In the image they are a bit middling, perhaps I needed to get lower even though it was taken with the camera 1 foot above the ground.

And finally an image of me in action.

You didn’t think I would show a straight image did you? There is a point to this image. In the low light it is very easy to get part of your shadow or that of your equipment in the image with very wide angle lenses so luckily with digital you can check on the spot. So as the sun starts to drop lower in the sky, take care.

Broad Pool, Gower Peninsula

I needed to escape the office the other day so I set on a road trip with no planned destination. After a few false starts I ended up at Broad Pool, hoping to get a good sunset as the clouds were looking good on the horizon with space for the sun to get through. As can happen with a lot of days that look promising, at the last stage the light just dies. Low cloud on the horizon completely blocked the sun, flattening the light totally. At this point it is common to believe that the days photographing is over, but quite often the light after sundown is great with bizarrelythe light levels increasing momentarily. The above image has a wide contrast range which needed controlling with both a 3 & 2 stop ND graduated filter. I tried both hard and soft graduations, finding that the harder edge was better even though the trees became a silhouette above the horizon. I later lightened them in Adobe Lightroom.

The recent warm, damp weather has been perfect for fungi and a few were found around Broad Pool. The hay cap shown above were found next to an animal track and looked fairly recent. They are poisonous and cause hallucinations if eaten, so not very good for breakfast!

I haven’t noticed this fungi before when out and about, but this is the classic presentation of the Egg Shell Toadstool. It grows on horse or cow dung and due to this is deemed not suitable for eating. I don’t think anybody wants to try it to see if it is suitable!

Although around all year, the next few months will be the most active time for fungi, so I will be looking forward to finding more. They also give me something to photograph on windy days as the don’t move much compared to flowers!

On the road – Hitchin, Hertfordshire

I spent the weekend with friends near Hitchen in Hertfordshire. They have a Lavender farm close to where they live, so we paid a visit on Sunday. The sight of lavender in rows is quite stunning, but also difficult to get some original images. I wouldn’t claim that any of my images are original and for composition, only use the diagonal leading line as a composition tool. The repeating lines help to strengthen the image further, plus the use of figures in one image gives a sense of scale as well. These were only snaps, so it would be nice to go back fully geared up and in better light conditions, even though the overcast light on Sunday helped reduced contrast.

The farm also had a strip of sunflowers which were past their prime, but were also interesting to photograph.

Extreme contrasts, Welsh Moor, Gower Peninsula

I originally went to Welsh Moor to photograph the varied and plentiful grasshoppers and crickets on Welsh Moor. The ideal weather for this is high cloud with good light levels; this helps reduce the contrast and gives better details. As usual my plans went astray due to the cloud clearing on my arrival and producing some interesting cloud patterns. As most of you know I’m quite partial to the odd cloud photo, so suitably distracted I wondered off in search of clouds.

I did manage to get back to my original subjects, but most of the images were too contrasty to be of any use. This little Froghopper is only about 5mm long so it was quite a challenge to get it in focus, plus get an interesting composition. At this level of magnification any slight breeze looks like a hurricane in the view finder and as a result only 2 of about 30 images were sharp. It didn’t help either that I was trying to do this hand held as well.

Although the light is quite contrasty in the spider image, I still like the “feel” of it produced by a shallow depth of field, close magnification and a burst of fill in flash. Most of the time we are used to seeing the top of spiders as they scuttle around, so I like the different view point showing some of their different colours and details. I’m not sure what spider this is as I wasn’t able to get to see the other side and none of my guide books show the underneath of the spiders.

A few moments at Caswell Bay, Gower

Last week I visited Caswell Bay for a few minutes. The weather wasn’t looking that great with low cloud and no sun, but after a while there were a few breaks in the cloud for the sun to shine through. This really lifted the scene and allowed me to make a few colour images when I had initially previsualised some black and white images.

I’m not a great fan of the current trend with long exposures of water, but do agree that it produces images with impact. The slow exposure technique has been around since the start of photography, mainly due to the early, low sensitivity films forcing long exposures. Recently though it has come back into fashion with Michael Kenna and Jonathan Critchley, amongst others, bringing it to the fore.

When I look at water I always see the details of waves, ripples etc. and I like to try and retain some of this when making an image. The other reason that I don’t want totally detail free images that I don’t want to do what everybody else is doing. It is harder, but making your own route is hopefully more satisfying and rewarding in the end. This is summed up in the Poem – The road not taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.