Monthly Archives: July 2014

Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire – the annual visit

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Having been so busy work wise recently, I had forgotten that I hadn’t posted any image of my annual trip to Skokholm Island off the Pembrokeshire coast. This year with lots of June blue skies, I was less productive since I confined my photographic activities to after 7.oopm. Normally I would have done some early mornings as well, but due to very low wind conditions, I was concentrating on getting the surround sound recording of Manx Shearwaters at night which didn’t finish till 4.00am on some days.

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I have also decided to create a longterm project of the island, so I now only concentrate on one area of the Island at a time. This year the north shore was my main location, so I was photographing mainly the Auks and sea birds that nest on the cliffs there.

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With harsh sunlight I attempted some back lit images of the coastal flowers, which although slightly beyond their best, still had enough colour in places to warrant a photograph.

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I couldn’t resist making a few Puffin images as well, so with the setting sun behind them, I experimented in trying to get a silhouette of the birds. Once again to my amazement, the exposure latitude of my digital sensor recorded a lot of shadow detail as well as the highlights in one exposure and as a result none of the images became a true silhouette. I could process the images differently to achieve a silhouette, but I quite like the shadow detail now.

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Even the evening light at the end of the day was quite contrasty, so photographing mainly dark or black and white birds proved challenging at times. The only upside was most of the shadow areas when very dark or black as I exposed for the white highlights. This cleaned up some backgrounds and allowed me to isolate sections of the cliffs, like in the image below.

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When on the island I always get to indulge my love of photographing cloud patterns as the even light often produces strong colours of all hues. They are simple images to make, but when put together, it is interesting to see the wide variation that we get, but often ignore. I haven’t joined the Cloud Appreciation Society yet, but perhaps I should!

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Summers Evening at Whiteford NNR, Gower Peninsula

Looking out to sea, Whiteford NNR, Gower Peninsula

It seems to be ages since I had some time to myself to try some personal photography. With the sun shining I set off to Whiteford NNR, my favourite location on Gower, just to wander with no specific aim in mind for the images I was hoping to make. Blue sky conditions are always challenging for me as I tend to be less inspired in those conditions. I have been trying harder to try and learn to work with them, but at this time of year the contrast can get very high. The image above reflects the very bright nature of the day, with strong sunlight shining through the clouds and reflecting off the sea. Amazingly the exposure range was within the tolerances of my camera’s digital sensor.

Ladybird, Whiteford NNR, Gower Peninsula

With the heat building, even though it was mid afternoon, I stopped for a rest, but was soon engrossed with what was happening in the grass around me where I was having a lie down. I must admit that I don’t spend enough time lying down while photographing – I don’t know why not as I always like the images it produces. I watched the Ladybird above for a while. It didn’t keep still for a minute, so I failed to improve on the above image which has too shallow depth of field since most of the Ladybird head is out of focus, but the image has the right feel I was looking for in the image.

Wild Geranium and grass, Whiteford NNR, Gower Peninsula

After the Ladybird, the surrounding Geraniums were next in front of the camera. Once again I tried some shallow depth of field images, through out of focus grass to change the mood of the image, as well as the more traditional plant portrait below. Different moods and feel to both images, but I quite like them both.

Wild Geranium, Whiteford NNR, Gower Peninsula

With the sun dropping lower on the horizon, I switched back to landscape mode, hoping that the sunset would produce a nice yellow colour to the sky. Even though there were not that many clouds in the sky, I hoped it would contrast against the blue sea. Like most best laid plans, what I hoped would happen didn’t – the sunset died quite quickly as the sun hit a bank of cloud on the horizon, killing the intensity of the light immediately. The image below was taken a few minutes before the light died, which had better colour and contrast but not the sunset look I was hoping for.

Looking towards Broughton Bay, Gower Peninsula