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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Bluebell Wood

apologies for not posting for sometime.  Its been a hectic few weeks in my home and unfortunately not in the photographic sense.   Last week some unscrupulous members of society decided they would like to break into my garage and steal my Motorbike and my new mountain bike.  Now, I could vent my anger with a few expletives but i’m not gonna let these scoundrels get the better of me.

So, after taking care of sorting new security measures, lights, locks and booby traps, lol, I headed out for a photoshoot to lift my spirits.  The location was an unsuspecting wood right next to the A614 near Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire.  Hundreds of vehicles must pass this location every day but I wonder how few take the time to look into the woods at this special time of year.

It’s that time when the Bluebells come out and I for one did not know that there was a wonderful Bluebell wood right on my doorstep.  It’s only after viewing a local photographers Blog that I came across this location.  Thanks to Mark Tierney for the directions and inspiration.

It’s only a small wood but has easy access from the layby, but, try to avoid entering the wood by the layby, unfortunately its strewn with litter.  It’s better to walk along the edge of the wood 100ft or so by the road, being carefull of traffic obviously, then enter the wood there. 

The compositions it offers are endless, indeed, the images below were taken with a variety of lenses from a Sigma 10-20m, Canon 17-40mm L, and a Sigma 70-200mm.  The first few images were taken in the harsh midday light on one visit and after much excitement I arranged another visit with some fellow photographers Doug Chinnery, Carl Mickleburgh and James Davies.  A fun evening rewarded with fantastic light and good humour.  Please follow the links and view their work from this location on Flickr, they are great photographers and have fantastic portfolios which i’m sure you will enjoy viewing. 

This spectacle only lasts for a few weeks each year so ill certainly be heading out there again over the next week or so, otherwise its a long wait till next year. 

Now, I’m off to arrange collection of my wrecked motorcycle, oh the joys!!

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Flowers Anyone?

Just thought i’d try something different – flower photography.

Inspired by Doug Chinnery’s images I got all arty and perched myself in the kitchen and using the large window I was able to light these images naturally.

The flowers were supplied by friends that we had staying over for the Easter weekend so thanks to them, they know who they are..

I actually found it quite a challenge, paying attention to the composition of the flower and trying to get it to sit where I wanted it took quite a bit of effort, but, I eventually learned the art of flower taming.

The exposure was a little challenging too. Outside was grey and overcast but I used bursts of bright but diffused sunlight that came through the clouds to backlight the flowers. This helped reveal the textures in the leaves, more evident in the Tulip shots.

Very little post processing was done, very slight exposure adjustments in a couple of them and that was about it.

Overall i’m very pleased with the outcomes, the only downside, the wife says I have to buy here more flowers now I seem to appreciate their finer details.

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