Monthly Archives: November 2010

Explore Gower Workshop 2010

We had quite a mixed bag of weather for the three days, but overall it was dry. We started off in Penclawdd, making images of the estuary including boats, patterns in the mud plus views down towards Whiteford Point. Sunshine on Friday morning turned to grey cloud just after we managed a few images at Broad Pool and Arthur’s Stone. The light had pretty much looked to have gone by the time we got to Rhossili. We decided to walk up to the causeway area, where the tide was starting to come in. In the dull weather the rock patterns provided interesting photographic material. As the sun lowered it looked as if we may be lucky and get some light at sunset, but low cloud came across and subdued the light. There was enough light to allow some rock and seascapes to be attempted.

Saturday was spent at Mewslade Bay, which had promising light in the morning, but the afternoon was grey and cold except towards the end of the day. Some sun managed to break through and warm us up at the last minute before we left. Mewslade proved popular and as usual had loads of photographic opportunity if the wider view was ignored due to the poor lighting most of the time. I managed a few frames myself at Mewslade, some which are a bit of an experiment, especially the bottom image. I’m still working out if I like it or not. No filters were used, the sky was very dark naturally.

Detail images are abound at Mewslade, but I am surprised how many photographers dismiss this type of photography. When the light is not great for landscape views, detail images can be the saving grace of an otherwise uproductive day.

Whiteford Sands & Burrows, Gower Peninsula

I hadn’t had a chance to have some time to myself recently, so when I managed a day to myself, I went to my favourite place on Gower: Whiteford Sands, Point and Burrows. There are quite diverse habitats within a small area, with a good mixture of plant life, birds and mammals about. As it is relatively flat, landscape photography is more of a challenge, especially as some of the best angles have either Llanelli or Burry Port in the background.

The next dilemma is what equipment to take. With a mixture of subjects, it is easy to end up taking the kitchen sink and making yourself tired and unproductive. As the weather looked fairly cloudy I thought I would stick to bird photography, taking my 800mm lens and a 24 -120mm zoom for everything else. I have finally started to learn that whatever lens I have, opportunities will occur that will require some of the gear I have left at home!

Although the air was very clear with good visibility, it was still very dark. The day was spent making images at 800iso mainly, and even this gave some slow shutter speeds. Not a great situation with fast moving subjects. So if you can’t get sharp images, it is best not to try and go with the flow or blur in my case. This style of image is starting to become more popular as the current trend in nature photography seems to be drifting from the accurate record style shot to a more artistic interpretation. Only time will tell if this is a fad or will become a longer lasting trend.

I hadn’t seen so many Eider Duck so close to the shore before, and even though too far for individual portrait images, group images were possible. The sound of the sea drowned out the calls of the males which are so different to what you would expect from a duck. The group slowly drifted further out to sea, so I moved on further around the point as I noticed some walkers had disturbed a small group of Dark Bellied Brent geese.

The geese had retreated to the sea as the walkers went by, then took the opportunity to use the waves to “surf” back into the shore. The group was about 12 birds and was very tolerant of me. I stayed in full view of the birds at all times, standing and not trying to couch down as this may resemble a predator starting to stalk them. By walking parallel to the birds but at a slight angle so it took me closer to the birds they tolerated my presence to about 10 metres. Close enough for a few group and pair images, but unfortunately not for individual portraits. It never ceases to amaze me how close I need to get to do portrait images, even with an 800mm lens. This is where a lot of time, field craft and hides are needed.

Even though the group of Geese was small, squabbles seemed to break out quite regularly for no particular reason apart from having their “personal space” invaded.

I stopped for lunch at the bird hide and just watch flocks of geese and waders relocate themselves in the estuary. This flock of Whimbrel came quite close, so I rattled off a few frames. Getting a pleasing flight pattern is a matter of luck and having a motor drive to make a few quick images.

Looking back over the marsh to the Burrows, showed that some late Autumn colour was still present in the trees and shrubs on the edge of the marsh. The recent high winds have probably removed all the leaves now.

As the sun dropped below the clouds, it broke through to provide some excellent light for landscape photography. I’m a great fan of “pure” photography, and am not keen on Photoshop being used to remove things from an image to make it better. If it is in the scene, it is part of that scene. Saying that I am tempted to remove both Llanelli and Burry Port, as they cause distractions in the background with some of my favourite angles, except I would probably use dynamite and not Photoshop! Only joking!! I will just have to wait for the perfect conditions of a hazy day to obscure Llanelli/Burry Port, with clear lighting on Whiteford Point. That is the joy and fustration of outdoor photography; the constant challenge to get everything to come together to produce the ideal conditions for the photograph that you have visualised.

With a 3 Day workshop this weekend, I hope we will be able to get some time down at Whiteford, it always has a lot to offer the photographer.

Image gallery of Nepal uploaded

I’ve finally got around to processing some of my images of Nepal. It is a great country to visit with lots to photograph, from portraits, landscapes, street scenes and architecture.

Check out my gallery HERE

I hope you enjoy some of the images.

3 Days on Gower at its best and worse

It was a real mixed bag of weather for my 3 Day Coastal Gower workshop. Friday, the first day was a complete washout due to the low cloud, misty or heavy rain and lack of any decent light. We used the time scouting locations for the other days which had better weather forecast. We ran through the use of maps and a sun position compass, plus sized up a few potential compositions.

 

Our first sunrise on Saturday, was foiled slightly by a layer of cloud on the horizon but as the sun rose the lighting over Oxwich Bay improved allowing a few images to be made from Great Tor back towards Nicholaston Burrows. After a pit stop for Breakfast, we then climbed Rhossili Downs to enjoy a great view over Gower. The weather had changed to mixed sunshine and showers, which continued for the rest of the afternoon.

Initially it looked like the sunset over Worms Head would be a total failure due to a rainstorm that appeared just as the tide started to reach the Helvetia wreck. We braved the heavy rain and hail stones as everybody else apart from a few surfers cleared from the beach. Our persistence was rewarded with a messy but spectacular sunset and cloud display over Worms Head.

As the sun dropped  below the clouds the contrast in the scene increased dramatically, giving really dramatic but awkward conditions. Flare and exposure were causing problems and needing constant attention and alteration.

The colours we had hopped for never really appeared as the cloud on the horizon seemed to stifle any further opportunity for the sun to give some great colours. A few surfers were still about which allowed some images to be made with a sense of scale to them, plus adding  extra interest to the scene.

Sunday started at Port Eynon, but once again clouds on the horizon stopped any decent sunrise. As the clouds cleared after breakfast we wondered around Mewslade Bay managing a few blue sky images of the bay, but we found the lighting quite limiting to a few views. Due to the early starts we decided to have a lazy afternoon, so relaxed in the Bistro and wondering around the National Trust shop critiquing all the images on display, trying to work out why we liked some more than others. Another sunset session was planned, so after a leisurely stroll down to the fields near the rectory and setting up in our desired position, we waited for  the sun to descend. Typically the cloud and sea mist rolled in and the sun disappeared with no further chance of  a sunset. Time for home!

WWT National Wetlands Centre Wales

I had one of my day courses last weekend at the WWT National Wetlands Centre Wales and even though it seemed quite quiet on the day with mixed lighting conditions, looking back at the results I’m quite please with the variety of the images I made and that some are different from the norm. I had quite a serious think after Wildphotos 2010 of the direction I wanted to go with my images. I think this is my first attempt to start that journey.

The Kingfisher was hanging around the no fishing sign as usual, but due to the wind breaking up the surface of the water it started to hover about 8ft above the water, before diving in to catch fish. I missed this behaviour the first time it happened, and only just managed it with the photo above. Thank goodness for a high frames per second rate! I managed a series of nine photos before it dived, unfortunately I didn’t get the dive image.

This is the same Kingfisher as before but in the afternoon. Shooting directly into the light has created the high contract and monochromatic look. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered trying an image, but with digital I had nothing to loose. The slightly misty look is due to the out of focus hide window frame getting in the way. I like the effect it has given so I left it in. The frames without it work well as well, but lack a bit of mood.

  

The final two images are some I took while waiting for other things to happen. Both were taken with my 800mm lens and show that even if you are stuck with one lens, you can still get variation in your subject matter.