LPOTY 2010 Entries

Well, after much thought and deliberation I finally decided to place some images in this years Landscape Photographer of the Year competition.  It’s very difficult to know, or preempt, what the judges will be looking for and looking at the previous years winners it seems there is a mixed bag. 

So, I sat with my wife and agonised for some time which to enter and came up with a group of 5 images.  Yes, I like them and so do many other people judging by the comments I have received on them, but what will the judges make of them? 

Well, it’s my first ever photographic competition entry so I’m hoping for some beginners luck for starters.  Now I’ve submitted them though I kind of feel that I’m way short of the mark, in a self doubting kind of way.   Have I applied enough thought into which images to upload?  Are they exposed and processed correctly?  Do they stand out from the others?  Are they just run-of-the-mill images?  These are very difficult questions to answer.  Anyway, it’s out of my hands now and into those of the judges.  For now though, I’m treating this as a learning experience.  If I get some recognition of my efforts then BONUS!!  For me that’s a win!!  Yes, it would be nice to be crowned ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010’  but I know for sure that’s well our of my reach – maybe one day!!

Northumberland

A weekend Castles & Coastlines workshop in Northumberland proved to be a tougher photoshoot than I had expected.  You’d think that visiting iconic locations such as Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles the images would be in the bag before setting off.  Well,  I had to think again!  Thankfully I was on one of Doug Chinnery’s workshops again and he was there ready to offer guidance when the going got tough.

The weather proved to be a very mixed bag starting with nice cloud cover and the odd light shower which slowly dissipated into clear blue skies for sunset – not ideal at all.  Anyway, i pressed on regardless but feeling a little deflated by the conditions.  I had to be more creative and make images from what I had, using the Lee filters 10 stop “Big Stopper” filter proved helpful in some situations but even this had its limitations in these condition.

Using the “Big Stopper” while contending with a rising tide can be a hazardous combination too!  I was shooting a series of images of Dunstanburgh Castle while balancing on some large boulders with water already lapping around my feet.  Engrossed in the setup and waiting for the exposures, some over 100 secs, I soon discovered that my route back to dry land was now awash, thank goodness for welly boots!  It certainly shows how easy and quickly you could be caught out by a rising tide so always be aware of your surroundings.  Those rocks were “Slippery When Wet” too – Bon Jovi song in my head now!! 

There was a beautiful sunset looking over the boulders to the West but so little cloud to give the sky some drama.  Never mind there was always tomorrow i thought.   Well, after just 3 hours sleep, tomorrow was here and  so was a sky full of cloud, a thick blanket of the stuff, damn, more difficult conditions.

Down on the beach at Bamburgh Castle it was drizzle, still cloudy and misty.  Sunrise never happened, well, it happened but I never saw it!  This morning marvel was happening somewhere else behind all that cloud.  I managed to get a few images in the diffused lighting but the drizzle was getting heavier and it became a constant battle to keep my lens and filter clean.  I lost the battle!

Beaten by the rain we all headed back to the B&B to dry off and then get a welcome full cooked breakfast.  The B&B, by-the-way, was fantastic, very comfortable, clean and run by a very helpful friendly couple.  Here’s a link, I thoroughly recommend it if you are planning a stay at Seahouses.

On the way home we stopped off at a few locations taking in views at West Burton Falls, where Doug introduced me to shooting panoramas, and other locations in the Yorkshire Dales.  Another stunning area that I must visit again sometime.

Well, that was my third workshop with Doug and it proved to be the hardest.  Blessed with fantastic light and conditions on the other two I suppose I got a little complacent thinking that the images would be in the bag.  Doug passed on many tips and techniques again but my biggest lesson learned was not to rely on the weather.  Knowing how to be creative when the conditions are not at their best certainly takes a lot of practice, so, I’ll be out in all conditions now trying to hone those skills.

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Flickr Explore and two little tips

Well, my Spurn images proved to be very popular on Flickr! Being fairly new to Flickr I often wondered, with the thousands of daily image uploads, how ones own images would fair in the recognition stakes, After all It doesn’t take long for your image to be lost and relegated to the bottom of the cyber pile after all these uploads.

On my return from a photoshoot in Northumberland I had a nice welcome surprise! One of my images had made the front page on Flickr Explore and got to number 44 out of the top 500 selected images uploaded on that day.

I am over the moon at having one of my images recognized and selected but looking at the explore selection at any point in time it shows a very ‘varied’ range in taste and ability, but, at the end of the day, that’s photography, very subjective. To me though, it’s a mile stone in my photographic career to date so I’ll take it as a compliment.

The image in question was, to be honest, a quick grab shot. I was down on the beach taking images of the old groynes and concentrating on the stunning scene before me during a spectacular sunrise when something made me look behind me, I gasped in amazement at what I saw – the dunes were ablaze in a golden glow that just had to be photographed.

I quickly grabbed my gear and shot off up into the dunes before the light changed and scurrying around like an excited child I found a quick composition. I fired off a few exposures and that was it, the light had changed. A little exhausted I headed back down to the beach, elated that I had seen this spectacular scene but somewhat wishing I had spotted it earlier to get a more pleasing composition. So, here comes my first little tip – while working on that stunning scene before you always keep a watchful eye on what’s happening behind, I wonder now how many missed opportunities there have been.

I got many pleasing images from Spurn Point and uploaded them to Flickr and got some equally pleasing responses but they were all surpassed by an image that I hurriedly uploaded before heading to Northumberland, an image that I wasn’t initially pleased with and an image that was a grab shot. So, here it is:

I still feel that my image does not do this scene the justice it deserves and I’m not entirely happy with the composition, but, it was certainly appreciated on Flickr and I am very grateful for all the comments received. So, here comes my second little tip – if a photographic opportunity presents itself – grab it!

Now, I’m off to look at those Northumberland images with a fresh pair of eyes.