Monthly Archives: February 2012

Gower by Night, Gower Peninsula

Always looking for a photographic challenge and a different way of doing things, I have been working on the principle of opposites to introduce  some variation in my pictures. This hasn’t always worked, but a few surprises have come up as well. Now when out making pictures, I ignore my fist reaction to the situation and do the complete opposite. For example, if my initial reaction was a telephoto image, then I switch to a wideangle lens to make the image. If I find myself heading to a favourite location, I pull off and go somewhere I haven’t been for a while. This has resulted in my productivity being less and more failures than normal, but it has proved to be worth while as a creative tool.

I had an idea the other day that most of my pictures were taken during the day. Quite logical really, considering us photographers need light, but then set myself the challenge to make a few images at night. This is not as easy as it sounds, as I have found out recently, due to the amount of light pollution caused by cities, town etc. This tends to produce an orange glow in the sky, which although not unattractive at times, can really ruin some images. There are a few locations around Gower that allow some night photography, luckily most of the southern coastline doesn’t have too much light pollution on the horizon making it suitable for light pollution free images. I was also trying to avoid doing star trail type images as this would be most peoples reaction as to what to attempt at night, plus avoid multiple exposures blended together. Talk about making it hard for myself.

The first images above were made while I was looking for tawny owls in Millwood, Penrice. Luckily it was a night of a full moon, so lots of light (by night standards) was available made it a relatively easy exercise. A few trees to add a bit of interest, high ISO and cable release. Nothing too complex.

The image of Mumbles light House shows I was trying to run before I could walk. In my mind I had an image of a full moon and stars with Mumbles light house in silhouette and some moon light on the sea. I ended up in the wrong position, lost any trace of the stars and moon due to the lights of Swansea in the background, plus virtually no light on the sea.

My next attempts were more fruitful. Instead of trying to avoid the light pollution, I embraced it at Whiteford as it produced some great colour variation in the sky behind the trees. A longer exposure allowed some stars to shine through as well.

My last image was to try and get one of the classic landmarks of Gower at night. My attempt at Worm’s Head was defeated by cloud, but Three Cliffs Bay worked out well. It would have been nice to have a bit more light on the wet sand in the foreground, but I was absolutely frozen after a few hours and the bit of moon out hadn’t cleared the height of the headland on the Southgate side.

I think this is still a work in progress and has morphed into a whole new area for me. I hope to have a few more surprises later in the year to show what I have been doing with some of the images, but lets say it is going to take me a while to bring it all together. Keep any eye out later in the year. I may release a few tasters between now and then.

 

Worm’s Head, Gower Peninsula

A few images of Worm’s Head from a few days ago. I went down to Rhossili to see if a sunset was going to happen, but on arrival I could see a bank of cloud on the horizon that would stop any spectacular colours from forming. There was still enough colour to warrant a few images.

I have been finding recently that an element of repetition has been drifting into my work and that I needed to try and get some variation into it. Any photographer who knows an area well will find that they have their favourite viewpoints at a location. This allows a regular, successful composition, but can  lead to repetition in the final result except for variations in the weather conditions. For this visit I decided to ignore the remains of the Helvetia wreck, partly because another photographer was setting off there to make some images, but mainly to challenge myself to find other items to act as foreground interest.

Waves are always a source of foreground interest, the problem is you can’t really tell what they are going to look like in the final image. I tend to find that I have to take quite a few images and that it is only when the images are up on the monitor that I can start to choose the best compositions. This is especially true when using longer exposures.

 

With the beach being flat and featureless in most places, there is very little to use as foreground interest. The ripples in the sand, especially after winter storms, can prove useful, but the uniform colour of the sand can make it look a bit uniform and plain. Using wet sand allows reflected colour from the sky to be picked up, creating more visual interest.

Experimenting on Cefn Bryn, Gower Peninsula

The four trees on the skyline close to the triangulation point near Arthur’s stone have always proved a fruitful subject for me. Up to now I have tended to use long lenses to pick them out from a distance and also to compress the perspective to make the sun in the background appear larger for instance. I set myself the challenge to something slightly different this week. With clear skies I knew that the sky would be quite plain without any cloud interest and this provided an extra challenge to deal with.

My first idea produced the image below. Not to different from what I had done before, but a bit more graphic and more sky. It still wasn’t different enough, so off came the telephoto lens and an extreme wide angle put on. This allowed a closer approach, but tended to lose some of the trees. An image of a single tree didn’t seem to work as well and didn’t reflect my vision as much. Eventually I found that by getting 4 foot from the lowest tree, I could include the others in the background. This created the problem of a lot of the closest tree being lost in the background that was silhouetted with the correct exposure for the sky. I needed to pick out the closest tree and separate it from the others in the background. A flashgun was set with the flash head zoom at a narrower field of view to concentrate the light on the tree and was altered to give – 2 stops of light less than the main camera exposure. This seemed to give the correct balance between the tree and sky. I like how the wider lens has emphasised the curvature of the tree trunk making it more interesting than a straight one would be. I though originally that I wouldn’t want any light on the foreground, but when processing the image it looked better with more foreground detail.

As the colours in the sky changed from blues to oranges, I wanted to try and make an image to show these. There wasn’t much foreground interest around and the trees didn’t line up with the most intense part of the sky. I passed the triangulation point  and remembered an image I had made before in daylight, so I decided to try something similar with the post sunset colours. Most of the triangulation pillar is quite dull, so I moved in close to emphasise the top and used a very wide angle lens to allow it to fill quite a lot of the frame. The metal work picked up the light well, plus the concrete has quite a nice texture on it as well. A bit more interest in the sky would be nice, but you can’t have it all sometimes.