ADP Photography: Blog http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) ADP Photography tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:19:00 GMT Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:19:00 GMT http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/img/s3/v39/u566635365-o550842591-50.jpg ADP Photography: Blog http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 The Tulips of Turkey http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/The-Tulips-of-turkey Now Turkey, my adopted home, is famous for many things, but one thing that isn't internationally well-known is that the national flower is the tulip.

In all shapes, colours and sizes, come the spring, you'll see them blooming in just about every municipal garden.  Beautiful!

Black Tulips - Koza Han - Bursa (f/4.5, 1/125, 24mm, ISO100) 

Is it the seductive subtle curves, the wider hips and slender waist of the tulip that makes it so photogenic?  Let's not get Freudian about the metaphor...the bottom line is, the tulip, for me, is more enjoyable to photograph than any other flower, even the rose...

TearsTearsMorning dew on a pink tulip

Silk Tears (f/5, 1/200, 105mm, ISO200)

Why?  Forgetting metaphors, I think it is because the lines and forms are so often flawless; nature displaying it's most perfect artistry, such a sublime sweeping curve. 

Being close to some city gardens in my hometown each spring we are treated to a burst of colour.  The shapes and styles of these gems often bejewelled with dew, or with the sun's morning rays shinning through their petals.  By now I've just about photographed them from every angle...traditional and otherwise.  Which leads us back to my snowdrop blog post about using such opportunities to get thinking more creatively.

There's the normal shots...

  • Top down
  • Side on (displaying the full curves)
  • One nestling against another
  • The full flower bed displaying uniform or a variety of colour
  • At sunrise closed up
  • Midday, fully opened

There's other shots...

  • Decorated with dew drops
  • Insects sneaking around
  • The bent or the broken, imperfections
  • Focused stacked for front-to-back sharpness
  • Framed by out of focus flowers

f/5.6, 1/320, 105mm, ISO100 & f/5.6, 1/640, 105mm, ISO100

This last choice is one that I've been experimenting with, ideally to find complementing colours...though not easy (especially as I am badly colourblind). It's still on the photo bucket list, if I get one...I'll post it!

This spring I've made it to the flowerbeds a number of times, always with the same lens; Sigma 105mm macro.  It's a great lens; fixed f/2.8, super sharp, not to mention a lot cheaper than a Canon verdion.  With my 70D, I find manual focusing far reliable for really tight in macro work, with usually around f/5.6 - f/8 aperture.  At 105mm the depth of field is very narrow and slight movements, even breathing can throw out the auto focus as it hunts back and forth.  Though in the past I have used a Sigma 10-20m for an alternative landscape shot of the tulips.

With a worm's eye  (f/16, 1/40, 15mm, ISO100)

Yes, one tulip may very well be very similar to another, but, different light, angles, apertures, lens choices and so on give you a whole range of different creative options.  The more you photograph a similar subject, the more you can challenge yourself creatively...a positive thing! 

Do you have any favourites that you go back to regularly?  Do you agree the tulip is the most graceful flora subject?

Leave comments and links!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) aperture blur bokeh close up creative creativity depth of field flora flowers gardens landscape lenses macro nature photography photography enthusiast photography tips plants tulips http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/The-Tulips-of-turkey Mon, 23 Apr 2018 09:30:00 GMT
The Multi Splash Project http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/the-multi-splash-project With a photo project, I am kept safe and out of trouble.  My wife knows where I am, not getting run over by traffic going through red lights or by motorcycles going up and down the pavement, and not making friends with the friendly, cuddly and adoption-wanting street dogs that abound in the city...there are many I would love to take home.  Apartments, though, are not the place for dogs, big dogs. 

So, a photo project.  Splash photography is always a good one to try.  No, I know it’s not original, but it's good practice to improve your techniques and your camera skills.  Anything that helps you learn to adjust and adapt settings to the needs of the situation is good, and if it produces a nice result at the end, who cares if it isn’t original...as long as you don’t claim that it is!

So, yes, I have tried the lemon splash...and others...with ordinary results at best...


Splash of Lemon? f/8, 1/200, 53mm, ISO100 (Flash behind a white reflector placed behind the glass)

Strawberry Milk, f/11, 1/250, 85mm, ISO100 (Flash at 1/8 power through snoot)

I’ve also tried water drops, most of us have, but we’ll talk about the ‘Birth of Time’ in a later post!

So this one particular ‘keeping out of trouble’ moment saw me try and take the splashing a bit further, again, not original, but new for me.  Different coloured water, splashing at the same time.  I think Karl Taylor, (professional photog with an amazing array of work), has done this with paint for advertising work.  He used a special contraption to drop into six or seven cans at the same time with stunning results.  I don’t have the space or the budget, so the natural solution was to take separate images and place them together in Photoshop afterwards.

The three coloured splash, f/11, 1/250, 44mm, ISO100 (flash at 1/8 power)

The set up was simple.  Black card as the background, flash with a single flash gun side on using a snoot to direct the light, the flash on low power to freeze the movement.  Shutter speed on my camera defaults to the usual sync speed, but it is the flash that freezes motion.  Here I used 1/8 power, in room lit with natural light this was enough, combined with an ISO of 100 to freeze movement and not capture any of the background.  In Lightroom I increased the blacks to ensure that any muddiness in the background was eradicated.

A couple of tips though.  Plastic wine glasses!  They’re harder to break, and not so expensive if they do.  Also, plastic ice cubes, (as also used in the lemon splash above), which, when covered with water, look fairly authentic – with the added bonus that they don’t melt.  The colours were achieved by food colouring, rather than colouring the image in post processing! Oh and, a big water proof sheet bent to allow run off of the spilt/splashed water into a bucket.

Of course, splashes are about trial and error.  I recommend placing a pen in the middle of the glass and focusing on this BEFORE you start dropping and splashing.  Once your focus is set, take some test shots to check how the water freezes, you may need to increase/decrease the flash power and ISO.  Once you have the settings right, you can then start to try and catch the splash as the ice cube/object hits the water.  A shutter cable release helps with timing, as does using the rear articulated screen turned so you can see your hand holding the cube just out of shot; it’s also a good idea not to drop from too high! Especially in your nice tidy kitchen!

I don’t know how many shots I took of each colour before I was convinced that I had enough good shots to make the end result.  The tip here is to check images, zoom in and check sharpness to ensure you timed them correctly BEFORE you dismantle your set up. You don’t want to have to set it all up again when you find that you didn’t catch good splashes after all!  Trust me!  That’s a muppet moment post for another day!

Strangely, the shot of the three colours shown here actually has what could be three stages of the same splash, in different colour.  I only realised this months after putting the images together in Photoshop with the aid of clipping masks.  I just selected the best splash from each of the three colours, then aligned them in what seemed to be the best colour order.  I didn’t realise the sequence at all.  Ah well, a happy coincidence!

What’s your technique for capturing a good splash?  Share your ideas here! Send me a comment!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) flash home project mistakes off camera flash photography photography enthusiast photography project photography tips snoot splash splash photography water http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/the-multi-splash-project Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Tip07: Doing it on public transport, and the benefits of using rubber! http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/tip07-doing-it-on-public-transport-and-the-benefits-of-using-rubber If the title made you think of something else, get your mind out of the gutter!  Behave...this is a family blog!

As I have mentioned over and over again (and over), I get a little frustrated about being in good places, but unable to take photographs...especially when the light and weather conditions are perfect.  We know that public transport won't stop for us, so, what can we do?

Çapraz Creek from a bus window.  I got lucky as the bus was in traffic so only moving 10-20 mph

f/8, 1/500, 15mm, ISO1000 (Rubber lens hood fitted)

Well, not a lot. We can:

  1. ignore it...not really an option, but it does lead to less frustration!
  2. make a note of the location, using GPS on your phone if necessary, so you can return one day (and pray that light and weather play ball!)
  3. try and take some kind of shot from the vehicle

The third option leads to many technical challenges, not least trying to get other passengers out of the way.  But assuming the shot is on your side of the vehicle and you are tucked up against the window...we still have a fight on our hands...

A good tip, if you plan to shoot from the window during a journey, is to check the route beforehand and get yourself up against the most profitable window!

Dirty windows...not a lot you can do about them, unless at the next stop you get out with a mop and bucket...believe me I have been tempted, but never done it - yet.  In this part of the world, intercity buses and the fast trains do not have windows that open.  pffft!

Focusing - your auto focus may try and hunt as the window confuses things, as will objects that flash by.  You can try and set manually on infinity, perhaps this at least gives you a known parameter to work with.   

A larger depth of field is also desirable of course to try and get as much of the scene as sharp as possible...that means at least f/8 is advantageous.  But then of course we have...

Shutter speed.  If you're on moving transport, you need a shutter speed fast enough to counteract the vehicle...that could mean opening the aperture...but, see the point above.  Fortunately, most modern cameras, especially the DSLRs, perform well at higher ISOs.

ISO.  The truth is, shooting from transport will always lead to a lot of missed shots, often with telegraph poles, or something similar, close to the lens being blurred, or to the landscape being too soft to use, (thanks to the dirty window between you and the scene), a higher ISO (800-1000 for example), is not going to be your biggest problem and will give you more chance of getting a fast enough shutter speed.  Naturally, better results will come when there is more light outside, low light and night will be nigh on impossible to get a shot that is anywhere sharp enough to look at (let alone keep).

Reflections.  How do you combat the reflections from the window?  Well this where rubbers come in.  Rubber lens hoods that is.  I bought one to try out, I cannot remember the brand but if you look on Google images you can get an idea of the type of thing.  They do allow you to press your camera right up to the window so as to block out all internal light, so stopping unwanted reflections. 

Honestly, though, I had varying degrees of success with mine. 

Rubber lens hoods are normally built in such a way that you can vary the length of the hood.  At a 90 degree angle to the window it works fine, but adjust your angle slightly and the rubber will pop back into it's next length position, and so you'll get reflections again while you try to adjust.  It also means that you pretty much have to work at the same angle all time, which isn't really possible.   All in all, it worked to banish reflections, but was cumbersome.  I expect the more expensive options may not be prone to such a problem, and may allow you to vary your angle to the window more reliably. 

An alternative for shooting from a hotel room window would be to place your camera on a tripod or flat surface, use the timer and a black jumper/coat to block the internal light while the shot is taken.  Unfortunately, this isn't really possible from the seat of a bus or train, unless you have extra hands! 

If you have a coat with loose sleeves, I guess you could push your lens up the sleeve and out of the shoulder end, then pad the rest of the coat around the camera.  It would block out a lot of the internal light causing reflections, and no doubt everyone else on the bus/train will think you're a bit odd...but hey, who cares! I may give this a go next time!

People.  Perhaps the last problem, if shooting from a seat on a bus or train, are the people in the seats around you.  If they're trying to sleep they will tut, moan, and even get aggressive with the constant clicking of your shutter.  Some trains have vestibule areas with windows that may even open...but DON'T put your head or your camera out of a moving window...that would be incredibly dangerous!

The foothills of Uludağ, near Bursa.  Through a bus window while travelling around 50mph

f/10, 1/3200, 24mm, ISO800 (Rubber lens hood fitted)

Ultimately, shooting from a moving vehicle is not a good way to get shots...to state the obvious!  You'll face a lot of challenges and if you have to shoot through a glassed window, the shots will rarely be usable.  But, if you've got no other way to get the shot, at least it is a momento and also a clear reminder of a place to go back to...one day!

Have you managed to get some good shots while on transport?  What were your techniques?  Please share your thoughts and links to images!

All the best

The Frustrated Photog.

 

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) aperture high iso landscape photography learning lens hood mistakes photography photography enthusiast photography tips reflections rubber lens hood shooting on the move shutter speed transport travel photography http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/tip07-doing-it-on-public-transport-and-the-benefits-of-using-rubber Sun, 15 Apr 2018 09:30:00 GMT
Istanbul in the rain http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/istanbul-in-the-rain İstiklal, the grand shopping street from Taksim Square to Galata...in the rain!  Where else? It follow me everywhere!

Turkey, the land of turquoise seas and golden beaches drenched in glorious sun.  True, in summer at least.  In the UK most of us probably think of Turkey as this idyllic summer holiday destination...and yes, it has all those ingredients usually absent from an English summer holiday, but Turkey does get rain too...and snow! In fact the climate is actually very diverse, but enough of that.  Photography isn’t about meteorology or geography, or is it?

Of course it is!

For travel photography, landscape photography, street photography, in fact any outdoor photography...weather plays a huge part.  Light, natural light, is not only about the golden hour, but also the weather.  The mood that light and different weather conditions create are essential ingredients for us.   In addition, if humans, you know those peculiar creatures, are in the shot, they behave very differently in different weather and temperatures.  The attitudes, the clothing, the interactions all vary.

In İstanbul, in late January, I had the pleasure, I think that’s the right word, of hanging around outside some of the shops of the main shopping street in the famous Beyoğlu district.  It’s the neighbourhood that sits on the European side of the Bosphorus nestled up against the shores of that famous waterway and the Golden Horn.  It has views across into Asia, and also across the Horn to the Sultan Ahmet district with the famous Topkapı Palace, Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.  Why was I hanging around outside shops?  My hobby is photography, my wife’s...ok, I know it’s a stereotype but, what can I do sometimes?   No complaints from me, well, maybe a few as the knees scream when standing in the cold, damp weather...but they'd do that with photography too!

Now, street photography isn’t really my thing and for that matter, neither is true travel photography.  Many would say that true travel photography should capture the locals to give the series of shots more colour and an emotional connection.  Nothing demonstrates culture like the people belonging to it, I guess.  For me, both street and travel photography, where people are included, always feels...awkward.    

Photographing without permission just feels like an invasion of privacy...and asking permission just seems too, well, forward!  I know it shouldn’t be, but my personality is what it is.

Tips I have heard to overcome photography shyness:

  • A zoom lens is useful; using something like 200mm on a crop sensor and the subject may never know.  But it still feels invasive!
  • Take a photo and then keep looking, don’t make eye contact again – pretend you were photographing something else.  But that just seems rude, not to mention dishonest!

Ok, I just can’t do it.  Give me a landscape or a macro something, even a piece of architecture – anything that cannot take offence!  What am I frightened of? A punch in the kisser?  I’ve no idea!  A psychologist may be able to help, if I were actually interested in solving this problem I could try and get out of the comfort zone.  One day, perhaps!

I’m rambling, verbally that is, not up and down the shopping street.  I was standing in the same place for about an hour.  The great thing about this street though is the small red trams that shuffle back and forth.  A relic of a previous time that add something special to the area and they have, of course, been photographed a million times.  Fortunately that evening the street was not too busy, I challenge you to try and photograph the trams without obstruction in peak tourist season!

Even photography this tram was outside of my comfort zone.  Clearly doing something photographic...in public!  I knelt down, I don’t think anyone almost fell over me, and with the high speed shutter mode on I fired off a few shots as the tram passed by.  I attempted a few angles, but the low shot works better I feel, a more dramatic, interesting angle picking up the reflection of the light on the damp flagstones, I deliberately choose a gritty feel in post processing to try to enhance this atmosphere.

Light red riding in the Beyoglu 'hood, f/3.5, 1/40, 15mm, ISO250

Looking back I wish I had used something like f/8 to get a deeper depth of field, light wasn't good and I was too cautious about ISO...incorrectly I would add!

Still no sign of my wife, deeply esconced in H&M no doubt.  Ah well, what else can I photograph.  People! Me? Could I?

I lifted the cam, the faces looking straight at me somehow blocking my trigger finger...I hesitated, the shot was gone.  When I did get a shot, there was no clear subject just a naff image of bored, damp looking people.  I tried again. Failed.  Then Two young ladies, one photographing the other, at least they were not moving much...I should be able to get a capture as they checked the back screen images together.  It’s not a great picture, but somehow the blurred people passing by frame these high street screen scrimpers in an interesting way.  I put the camera down.  Enough being outside of my comfort zone.  It was uncomfortable!

High Street Scrimping, f/5.6, 1/15, 85mm, ISO6400

The sun was now going down.  The clouds began to glow.  Could I get street detail and the colours of the sky?  3 shots, bracketed, should work.  Sure, people were in the shot, but I knew they were not the subject and I was honestly ignoring them.  Better!

Istiklal Street, f/5.6, 18mm, ISO100 (3 shots bracketed)

HDR photomerge in Lightroom.  Much happier inside my comfort zone!

One last shot to get tonight.  Shopping finished and down the hill at the end of the street to get the normal tram service to our hotel.  We passed the Galata Tower, of Genoise origin and originally called Tower of Christ (I think), anyway, it’s a wonderful landmark and lit up nicely at night, the only problem is, without an expensive tilt-shift lens, converging verticals are always a problem due to the angle and space available to take the shot.  Just using the top of the tower in a landscape format works well, but with some work in Lightroom, a full shot can be, almost, achieved.

The Tower, f/16, 25sec, 31mm, ISO100

Why f/16 for this shot, originally I was trying to include the street lights at ground level and have them become light stars, but the distortion of the tower geometry was too wild!  The shot had to be cropped.

Did you have nerves or issue photographing strangers?  What techniques did you or do you use to get by?  Write a comment, share your ideas!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) embarrassing hdr istanbul learning photo problems photographing strangers photography photography tips shyness solutions street photography travel photography turkey weather http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/istanbul-in-the-rain Wed, 11 Apr 2018 09:30:00 GMT
Muppet Moments 08: Too, Too Dark! http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/muppet-moments-08-too-too-dark If you’re a regular reader to this blog you may have noticed that I like long exposures.  I like the silky effect on waterfalls, smooth glassy water, and streaking clouds.  Ok, I know it's not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like it!  I also have a bit of a thing about water, check my Flickr photostream where probably three in every five photos include water; the sea, rivers, waterfalls, rain drops and so on. 

The Lower Laithe Reservoir, near Haworth, West Yorkshire: f/11, 30 secs, 27mm, ISO100

Combine the fixation with water and long exposure and you can guess what filters I’ll usually be reaching for.  The Big Stopper or Little Stopper from Lee.  I've read that some people experience a bit of a colour cast, I must admit, with these from Lee, I never have.  Maybe masked by my limited colour vision (I am colour blind with most colours), but any cast that may appear can always be corrected if you’re shooting in raw...so, no biggy!

I try long exposures a lot, with varying degrees of success, often failing horribly and falling into the clutches of one of my most daemonic and persistently present muppet moments.  A muppet moment that I seem intent on repeating almost every time and not learning from.  One day, I will!  İnşallah, as they say here in Turkey.

The problem is the long exposure (LE) at dusk, or at night.  It comes down to lack of patience perhaps, or trust in my camera techniques.  Often a long exposure in dim light, with even the Little Stopper, can easily run into minutes, and for some reason I am so hesitant to allow the shutter to keep running.  Checking my Lightroom catalogue, the longest LE I have is 461 seconds, it probably should’ve been longer. 

The technique should be solid enough...

  1. I line up the shot on the tripod
  2. Check Image stabilisation is off
  3. Using live view or mirror lock up to ensure no camera shake from the mirror flip
  4. Check that the image is level
  5. Zoom in on live view to check focus
  6. Make sure focus switched to manual
  7. Set to ISO100
  8. Take a meter reading for my chosen aperture, note the shutter speed
  9. Put the shutter speed/aperture/ISO into a phone app (I use Photopills if you’re interested)
  10. Adjust the ISO if speed too long for the scene (too much blur etc)
  11. Switch to Manual mode (or BULB mode if > 30 seconds)
  12. Dial in the settings recommended by the app
  13. Use a cable or remote release to start
  14. Use the stopwatch on my mobile to time the exposure
  15. Use the cable or remote release to stop the shutter after the correct time has past
  16. Review a splendid image on the rear screen (hopefully)

So where do I go wrong?  Why do I get the shots such as this?

This shot took 60 seconds but it should have been at least 4 minutes.  The image doesn't look too bad but I cannot use it full size because the quality has degraded, especially in the important foreground rocks.  It was severely under exposed.  To get the result you see above, I've had to push shadows and exposure along way to the right.  The shot was too, too dark!

So, why?

Simple, because I DON’T follow the steps above!  I know them, but: knowing the same as doing is not!  Which is how Yoda might say it! 

One critical step is not followed correctly that always results in the exposure being ended too soon, and a dark shot being presented on the rear screen. Step 15, emphasis on the correct amount of time!

The only reason for this is that I am trying to be too quick and save time.  But it’s a false economy.  If I trusted the technique to get the shot correctly first time; I wouldn’t have the rework of taking a second shot with a longer shutter speed.   MUPPET!

Next time I am fixing up the LE composition, I am going to follow those steps I have written above...to the letter...and wait for step 15, to the second!

Don’t be a MUPPET, Wait!

Hopefully I can guarantee more correct exposures by just trusting my technique and having a little more patience.

Have you had any experience of this or similar LE exposure problems?

Share your thoughts, send me a comment!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) big stopper error exposure filters landscape photography learning lee filters little stopper mistakes photography photography enthusiast photography tips shutter speed under exposed http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/muppet-moments-08-too-too-dark Sat, 07 Apr 2018 09:45:00 GMT
Haunted - Houghton House, Bedfordshire http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/haunted---houghton-house-bedfordshire Ever heard of Houghton House? No?  Actually, I am not surprised. 

I lived less than 10 miles away for 35 years and only found out about the 1615 hunting lodge after I moved to Turkey!  It's an English Heritage site, free entry, and a wonderful place to look around and have a picnic on the green lawns overlooking the hills of Bedfordshire.

I only found out about the property after I went on an internet search for places to visit near to my family during one of my summer holidays back to England.

Here's a link to the English Heritage website. The site includes an audio tour of the property, well worth a listen...but better if you are actually walking around the place!  

So the dilemma at a place like Houghton House was, as is often the case at such ruins like the many castles, monasteries and abbeys up and down the country:  how on earth to capture it, not just the architecture, but the setting and also the atmosphere of the place?

It was summer, but, as it seems with most of my visits around the UK, grey skies!  Ok, a bit of brooding atmosphere, that's good!  This visit was back in June 2016, just after I had changed from a variable ND filter, (a Tiffen I think it was), to the Lee Filter system and a big stopper.  I wish I knew then what I know now about the Stopper, but it's all a learning process after all!  Looking back at the two years since getting onto the Lee Filters, I think (hope) I am getting better. 

As well as using the stopper for motion blur in the clouds, a number of images, especially internal shots that included the landscape through the open windows, had to be bracketed to keep shadow and highlight detail.  Although it was a grey day, there were brighter patches of cloud and sky in between, making exposure tricky.

The first thing I had to do, and I think professional photographers will recommend this also, was to have a walk around.  Have a look.  Check out the location and the structure.  What did I want to capture?  How would I capture it?  I was fortunate that no one else was around and for the majority of the time so I had the whole place to myself to ponder, save for a couple of dog walkers passing through, and the ghosts, of course.

The image I had seen that got me interested in the location, was the south front.  After the long walk down the tree lined gravel drive, I took a couple of quick snaps from a similar angle but soon left this vantage point.  Working too much from memory leads to a lack of creativity, I wanted to clear my head of what I had seen and compose shots with what I felt from the place. I explored.  Having walked into, around, and out the north entrance.  The magnificent north face demanded a photograph.

The north face of Houghton House, f/11, 12secs, 12mm, ISO100

Square on, across the lawn, was the obvious choice to begin, but for me, the shot wasn't as strong as the image above, a bit more menacing bringing the ruined architecture under blurred dark clouds, the angle also demonstrates the slightly precarious lean of the far wall.  

Such view of the façades are all well and good, but a house like this I feel needs more said about it.  I walked around the rooms several more times looking for details, and, thanks to England's summer rain, nice puddles gave interesting added dimensions to the detail work that remains inside the ruin.

Choose your future? Looking out of the north face, f/8, 11mm, ISO100 (bracketed 3 shots)

From inside the views are perhaps just as splendid as those outside.  The strong walls being overrun with the slow onset of nature brings a wonderful juxtaposition that shows the building as it falls further and further to ruin, as with the shot below taken, facing north, looking up from the down stairs service wing to the grand window on the ground floor.

From downstairs, f/8, 10mm, ISO100 (bracketed 3 shots)

Although a lot more photos were taken, two more that stand are from the south east and south west corners, the former showing the full scale of the old building, the latter allowing us to see what the building sees as it still looks out over the Bedfordshire countryside.

Haunted, the south face, f/16, 1/60, 11mm, ISO100

Alone, f/11, 1/1000, 11mm, ISO100

It took around two hours to explore and take the shots of Houghton House, although I plan to revisit now that my filter skills have improved. 

I hope on my visit in 2016 I was able to capture some of the character and former grandeur of the building, and perhaps also it's current mournful aspect.    Photography is a useful medium to capture and share some of the history around us by doing our best to tell the story through the images...

Nature's victory, f/16, 1/50, 42mm, ISO100

Many thanks to English Heritage for their great work looking after the site!

What do you look for when photographing old buildings and ruins?  What tells the story to you?

Share your ideas and images, post me a comment!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

 

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) architecture architecture photography bedfordshire building decay details history history photography houghton house learning photography photography enthusiast photography tips ruin travel photography http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/haunted---houghton-house-bedfordshire Tue, 03 Apr 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Windmills from...Buckinghamshire? http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/windmills-from-buckinghamshire Windmills, they conjure up so many images of rural life, past (perhaps) less stressful times...and also of Spanish Knights charging across La Mancha.  Although the UK may not be as famous for its windmills as The Netherlands or those made legendary by Don Quixote, there are still some fine examples around that date back to the 17th century.  I've had the chance to visit a few, in the country of Buckinghamshire, near the villages of Brill and Pitsone, the present windmill at each location dating back to 1680s and 1627 respectively.  This information comes from the Brill village website.  According to this site, Brill is one of "dozen or so 17th century 'post-mills' still standing, (Pitstone Windmill, also in Buckinghamshire, [...] is believed to be the oldest windmill in Britain.) A post-mill is a mill in which the whole structure revolves around a central post in order to face the wind."

The history around them, and the sad fact that most are no longer in use, makes a windmill a wonderful photographic subject.  Close up, almost abstracts, of the structure could work, but I for one prefer to locate the structure in its location...to give the full pastoral scene as it were, and a sense of place.

These two mills are in my mind typical of the British windmill in style, they're what I think of if someone says 'windmill'.  It's interesting to see images from across the world to see how the design changes from country to country.  Just do a search on a photo sharing site like Flickr to see a wide range of examples.

A family day out to Brill windmill and I was lucky enough to catch a range of weather.  On arrival it was dark, cloudy and overcast, but during my hour or so in front of the mill, the weather changed to bright blue sky.  It gave great opportunities for some long exposure shots.

Brill Windmill, f/8, 20secs, 18mm, ISO400 (Big Stopper used)

My visits to Pitstone have been less planned, usually as a drop in on the way past after having travelled to another location, sadly the only time I have been able to take images was with a background of bright high cloud, this shot is looking west-ish...a fantastic vantage point with a sunset behind.  Maybe one day!

Pitstone Windmill through the Barley ears, f/11, 1/400, 85mm, ISO400

There are many more fine examples of windmills across the UK, maybe not as internationally well-known as some, but they definitely are a quintessential part of British rural heritage.  A dozen or so, reported the Brill site, could it be a mission to photograph them all?

Do you have any windmill images?  Please share links to your shots.

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) brill windmill countryside farming landscape landscape photography nature pastoral photography photography enthusiast pitstone windmill rural travel photography windmills http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/windmills-from-buckinghamshire Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:15:00 GMT
Tip06: Finding differences at the same location:  The Bloody Poplars http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/tip06-finding-differences-at-the-same-location-the-bloody-poplars An intriguing name for a blog post! 

The Turkish name for this local park is Kanlıkavak, roughly translates as bloody poplar, or in English Red Poplar Park.  The park rolls alongside the Porsuk River towards the west of my adopted home town, Eskişehir, Turkey.

Like many of the parks in Eskişehir it’s a nice pleasant place for a stroll.  Many of the city parks are flat with a manufactured water feature, but at least in this park, the river winds through, though the banks have been shored up.  There's a couple of platforms for boarding boats, and, although I am yet to see any boat on this stretch of the river, they make an interesting feature.   The other notable objects are the bridges and water flow gates.  A couple of fountains are dotted near-by, some tea houses, and picnic benches, sadly, as often the case, bestrewn with sunflower seed husks dropped carelessly – but I suppose they’re organic! So, you have a general idea about the park.

Naturally, being a pleasant location, I often visit with the camera to see what I can find.  This happens often when I haven’t scratched the photo-itch for a while and get impatient to capture something (anything!!!).

Here’s the benefit of visiting the same place many times! 

It pushes you to look for different compositions and subjects.  The seasons naturally bring new alternatives.  Compare the two shots below taken in early morning, the first, in early winter below and the older shot taken in summer.  No two hours are ever the same, no two days, so definitely not the seasons.  Light always changes, weather conditions, sun position, colours…there’s always variety.  These two shots of what I call the eye bridge, from opposing banks, but look at the difference the months make.  Knowing that I had taken shots of this bridge before made me wait for the reflection to be made more interesting by including the people.

Cycling through the seasonCycling through the seasonKanlikavak (Red Poplar) Park, Eskisehir, Turkey

There’s also the different features that come with the seasons.  Sure, it’s the same place.  But in autumn you have the falling leaves, dead leaves, golden colours, in winter a frosting of snow.

Never forget to look up too, the passing roosting Jays bringing the death of the year.  They're always some around, but in December there are many more and they're gathering!

In the dead of winter you also get some intriguing patterns in the fountains as part of the water freezes, an  ice-cream anyone?

But also consider the alternatives of different shots. You know me and my watery-long exposure obsession?  Yes, I should see a psychiatrist about this, but even the functional water gates can be made more interesting by using a big stopper and slowing the shutter speed right down.  Those circular patterns were not even noticeable to the naked eye.  I could see the white foam on the surface, but not their circular motion until the long exposure brought it all together.

The tips then. 

  1. Just because you’ve been there before, it isn’t a reason not to go again!
  2. By going again you can force yourself to think differently, how can you make more creative captures?

And, so far, I've never been to the park at night...that's a mission for the future.

Please share links to images that you have of the same place, but in very different conditions!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) alternative composition city park composition creativity eskisehir landscape landscape photography learning park photography photography enthusiast photography tips river same place travel photography turkey variety http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/tip06-finding-differences-at-the-same-location-the-bloody-poplars Mon, 26 Mar 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Destination - Tenby! http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/destination---tenby Anyone vaguely interested in landscape photography would love the Welsh coast.  Picturesque beaches and villages, stunning dramatic rocks, and of course dramatic weather!  The Gower peninsula had been a stop for us, but the beautiful views to Rhossili beach from the headland had been ruined.  Up on the Worm’s Head we could see nothing but the grey mist in front of us, and the rain in our faces.  The whole day had been planned there, so we had to resort to plan B and drive around a very wet Gower, and then return to the hotel early for a visit to a local shopping centre (my wife did not protesteth too much, me thinks!)

The next day, on to Tenby.  A wonder of the Welsh coast.  The seaside town has always been a very interesting place, long before my interest in taking pictures.  Narrow lanes, soft sandy beaches backed by steep rock, old churches and a picturesque small harbour.  It even has a gorgeously dramatic lifeboat launch.  It’s a great place for photography, but, like the rest of my visit to Wales in the summer of 2017, could I rely on the weather?

We had only planned to drop in for the day, park up and then spend a few hours looking around.  If it were warm enough, my wife even planned a swim, but could she? Would she?  Even the Mediterranean is considered too cold in April for her Turkish blood, how would she get on with waters from the Atlantic Ocean?

Sadly the weather didn’t suit a swim, those nothing bright grey skies greeted us, and it was barely 20 degrees, but fortunately, for the photos anyway, later in the day dark clouds rolled in to add a bit of interest. 

Warm enough to swim?  Dogs, children, yes…my Turkish wife, not a chance!  Though now, of course, she regrets not having tried!  I did my best to persuade her as I lined up some long exposure shots on Castle Beach with St Catherine’s Island and fort placed in the shot, which, incidentally, you can walk to in low tide.  The shots were not working, and my wife only paddling nervously.  I had the sea turning nice and creamy with a long exposure but the sky wasn’t.  Looking back, if I’d had the time, I would’ve returned to this beach once the darker clouds had starting massing on the horizon. 

The composition didn’t entice me to keep trying.  The tide far too low to use the rocks at the back and sides of the beach to any effect, without filling the shot with half naked tourists.  No thank you!  What it is about beaches that make us want to sit in public in, virtually, our underwear? 

St Catherine's Island, from Tenby Castle Beach.  f/11, 8 secs, 73mm, ISO400

What a glorious beach it would be on a sunny summer’s day!  The sand is blissfully soft and clean.  The view, amazing and interesting.  Not a sunny day by any stretch of the imagination.  Ah well.  Onwards!

Around to the harbour nestled in the small bay made by the arcing headland.  Beautiful scenes, clouds now added some depth and dimension.  The colourful houses, mostly Victorian I guess, adding an intriguing contrast to that moody sky.  If only Vernazza in Italy had been painted as well as this!  I visit that lovely village in 2016 but the paint of many buildings was cracked and tatty…shame.  Back to Tenby!

St Mary's Church and the colourful houses of Tenby overlooking the harbour.  f/11, 1/50, 26mm, ISO100

The natural progression was of course to follow the path around the harbour and onto the promenade above North Beach towards the Croft.  More of those lovely coloured houses and the gorgeously angular Goskar Rock in the bay.  Twisting up the hill through the lands, all kind of folk like to look out at the view.

Down on the beach.  Long exposures.  If you follow this blog regularly, you’ve probably guessed that I am obsessed with water and, as natural extension, long exposures.  To me it makes an image more dreamy and thought provokıng, though at the same time I love capturing the smash of a dramatic wave as I had down in Devon the previous year.  Here, the usual routine.  Line up without the filters to get the composition, then add the big or little stopper (depending on light levels and amount of blur needed) and then click.  I also used a 3 stop grad filter on this shot to hold back some of the light in the sky so I could retain the detail in Goskar Rock. 

AnglesAnglesA close up of Goskar Rock on Tenby North beach looking across to the lifeboat launch, South Wales.

Goskar Rock, f/16, 60sec, 27mm, ISO100

I could’ve spent hours down on the beach.  My wife too as she played bare foot in the soft sand, I guess wishing it were a bit warmer to convince her that even she could swim.  As always, we had a deadline to get back to meet up with family and still much more of the town to look around, not to mention more shots around the harbour.  The problem with Tenby, especially with the now gorgeous, moody clouds, is that there were too many shots to get!  Wonderful!

Into the SeaInto the SeaThe lifeboat launch, Tenby, South Wales

Tenby Lifeboat Launch, f/16, 30secs, 24mm, ISO100

 

If ever you get the chance, I strongly recommend Tenby! A beautiful spot for photography or just a holiday visit.  A tip though!  Research before you go.  With so many shots it can be overwhelming.  Plan in advance, know your tide times…and good luck with the weather!

Share your photography weekends…leave me a comment and I will reply asap!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) coast coastal coastline landscape photography landscapes long exposures pembrokeshire photography photography enthusiast photography tips seascapes tenby travel photography wales http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/destination---tenby Thu, 22 Mar 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Journey to Yorkshire 2017 – Part 5: Malham to Haworth and the end http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/journey-to-yorkshire-2017-part-5-malham-to-haworth-and-the-end Leaving Malham we would take the Cove Road past Malham Cove and then head down to the Tarn.  The beauty of the valley up to the Cove, in the right weather, with the imposing face of the cliffs today was lost in the low grey cloud.  I would get a shot, if I could, just from the road.  There was no photo opportunity in those conditions.  Perhaps the Tarn would have some decent views.

Sure enough, as we passed the Cove, it was mostly hidden.  I took a shot, bracketed, just to try and get what I could, knowing the shot would only be as a momento.  I couldn’t use it (except for here in a blog to show how bad it was!).

 

Malham Cove on a grey wet day (f/5.6, 1/100, 67mm, ISO160)

We were quickly on again heading down to the Tarn in the direction where the weather was massing again and getting worse.  Another passing shower and the not-so-passing grey clouds covered the car on the way across Malham Moor as we drove past the high craggy rocks.  It’s only a short drive down to the Tarn so that didn’t give the weather chance to change much, not that I think it would have.  If anything, down at the Tarn, it was windier.  At least, as we arrived, the rained had stopped.

As you’ll see from my Flickr feed, I like water.  A bit of a photographic obsession, and with clouds like these in wind a long exposure is always tempting.  Sadly the clouds were not so well defined as could be to make a long exposed sky more interesting.  They were not grey clouds, but a mass of grey!  From the car park to the Tarn is just a short walk, but a cold, one around pond sized puddles.  The Tarn though looked dramatic.  It’s a fairly large lake surrounded by the hills and some forests on the far side, with an intriguing run off down into a stream, which was running fast thanks to all the recent rain.

The colours were all muted.  Monos again were the order of the day.  I set up the tripod bending the knees aching after the effort at the Foss and Scar.  I had to crouch over the tripod again to provide some protection against the strong wind that was pushing me over.  Several compositions taken, with and without a Big Stopper, the sky was grey, but in that direction, bright grey.  A lot of light had to be held back to get the desired exposure.

Moody Mono the order of the day at Malham Tarn (f/16, 25secs, 38mm, ISO400)

I altered my position again.  The elements again were not helping.  Water was being whipped off the surface of the lake by the wind onto the filters, and it was cold.  August!  Experience is a wonderful thing, as is hindsight, I know if I had my time there again I would take more images, why didn’t I?  Knee pain?  Vicious wind? Maybe…

There are some wonderful images of some rocks near the shore, I could’ve framed these up better but truth is I was concerned about the 70D and lenses.  No real weather sealing to speak off, and by now my knees were screaming at me.  Every kneel, bend or squat making them yell louder.  Crouching over a long exposure, then trying to stand, hurts!  Sad to say I could only do so many.

Looking back I should have taken a long exposure of the bubbling run off from the Tarn.  At first I was annoyed by the oversight but then I realised that the composition would’ve been impossible.  I would’ve had to fully extend the tripod to get the shot, but the wind would not have allowed anything close to a sharp image.

I walked away from the Tarn.  As two folk with dogs passed me, there was a shot there.  I handheld with a fast burst of shots and captured a few scenes now that humans and animals would give a sense of scale. 

Dogs on the Moor (f/8, 1/60, 40mm, ISO160)

The drive back to Haworth, via Arncliffe, Hebden Bridge and Grassington, I know from previous visits to be stunning.  Over Malham Moor at the start the sudden rises and drops of the dales are gorgeous, and today there were added waterfalls, seasonal appearances that are not marked on the regular maps.  The wind and showers were strong and violent, I framed up one such waterfall through the car’s open window, the tripod set up on the back seat and down into the foot well.  My Tamron 70-300 at full stretch on a 1.6 sensor only just picking it out through the thick low cloud.  In the right weather, it would have looked gorgeous, tumbling down the hillside in a series of cascades before a long drop, it wasn’t to be.

An unnamed (seasonal?) fall near Malham Dale (f/9, 1/60, 218mm, ISO100)

Back to Haworth was much of the same, stunning ‘if-only’ views.  Had I been on my own with endless time, I would’ve stopped in one or two places and waited to see if light would clear just enough, but I can’t expect drivers to hang around like that, and in truth, not even my British weather optimism saw any real sign of breaks in the cloud.  A circular route to Haworth was taken to ‘make a day of it’ as no more wandering was possible in such grim weather.

Haworth was, once again, annoyingly dry!  The weather over the Yorkshire Dales varies greatly town to town, here, on the edge, the skies break, unlike up on the moors.  Before dinner I wandered around the hill of Haworth, around the old churchyard once again and captured a few more scenes.  The village there, typical Yorkshire, beautiful streets, rich in history and colour. 

Haworth Sunset (3 shot HDR, f/11, 17mm, ISO400)

Down the Hill of Main Street, Haworth (f/4, 1/30, 24mm, ISO125)

It’s an area so much more than just history, scenery or villages and people, it’s the whole and the sum of its parts, each affecting and affected by the other.  Despite being ‘a southern’ I have Yorkshire in my family and it always feels like home and a part of ‘real’ England.  Whether here to the west or over on the east coast, on the North York Moors, or in the rolling Yorkshire Dales, it’s such a rich and varied area.  I will always try to visit as often as possible; Yorkshire, a truly beautiful part of the world, in any weather!

Do you have an area that feels special to you?  Let me know in comments and share links!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) bad weather haworth landscape photography learning malham malham moor malham tarn monochrome moody photography photography enthusiast photography tips sunset travel photography yorkshire dales http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/journey-to-yorkshire-2017-part-5-malham-to-haworth-and-the-end Sun, 18 Mar 2018 09:45:00 GMT
TIP05: Finding difference in the same subject: snowdrops http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/tip05-finding-difference-in-the-same-subject-snowdrops There are many ways to understand which season we’re in, even though in the UK it can be confusing when grey cold wet days can assail you in summer. 

You can:  a) look out of the window b) look at a calendar c) look at your photofeed on websites like Flickr.

If you have an account on a photo sharing site, I can guarantee at certain times of the year you’ll be inundated with the same things.  I'm also guilty, I will take and post these shots too!  For example:

  • February:  Snowdrops
  • March: Daffodils
  • April: Tulips
  • Late Summer: Hay bails
  • Autumn: close up of fallen leaves
  • Etc…

You get the general idea! 

Overexposure of the subjects (pun intended),  I do it, we all do it.  Most of us are not professional photogs, so we take what we can when we can and yes, these things are beautiful so, when they are there, naturally we take photos of them!

My tip, if you get too many of them in your photo feed, don’t follow so many people J or don’t look at it…or just don’t worry about it.  Plenty of other things in life to worry about after all...

Whichever J  Personally, although the similarity of subject matter can be a bit monotonous, use it to your advantage!  Look at all those shots, what do they have in common? Which are the better ones? What makes them different? Why are they better? 

You can see where this is going...

By understanding what makes one shot stand out above the rest, you can improve your own technique and your eye for composition.  Improve yourself!

Now, I am not saying that the pictures of snowdrops below are particularly special, actually far from it, but, by looking at many shots I tried to find a different approach.  Compare the two.  Which do you think is better?  Why?  The first was taken in 2016, the second, 2018.  Just by examining two shots you’ll start thinking about your own images in a new way, and that can only help you find more compositions to try in future.

She who hangs her headShe who hangs her headSnowdrops always look sad...

She who hangs her head, snowdrops Feb 2016, f/2.8, 1/1000, 105mm macro, ISO400

Snowy snowdropsSnowy snowdropsA snow covered snow drop

Snow drops on snowdrops Jan 2018, f/5.6, 1/500, 105mm macro, ISO1250

(a very windy day, high ISO used to combat movement)

Share links here to your images of snowdrops…or other similar objects that suffer seasonal overexposure.  Let’s have a look!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) comparison composition following learning mistakes overexposure photofeed photography photography enthusiast photography tips seasonal subjects seeing differently subject matter http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/tip05-finding-difference-in-the-same-subject-snowdrops Wed, 14 Mar 2018 09:30:00 GMT
Muppet Moments 07 - Raindrops keep falling on my lens… http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/muppet-moments-07---raindrops-keep-falling-on-my-lens Ok, not raindrops.  But seaspray keeps falling on my lens doesn't sound like a good song...

If it was only raindrops my high-tech plastic bag rain cover (blog post here) would have saved me.  Ortaköy at night, in January, was worse than rain…much worse.  Rain comes down, this was coming upwards, perhaps at a 45 degree angle!

Firstly, for those who don’t know it: Ortaköy is an area of İstanbul almost immediately under the first Bosphorus bridge.  The name of the place literally means middle village, I guess because it is about halfway up the (or down) the straits.  The famous shot is of the Ortaköy mosque standing right on the edge of the water.  The narrow side streets are famous for trinket shops, small bars, and jacket potatoes stuffed full to the brim (called cümpir).  Now, just to make it clear, here in Turkey, an ultra-plain jacket potato still has butter in it!  A normal cümpir has everything from peas to sweetcorn, from olives to mushrooms…and butter of course.

Anyway…back to the problem.

As always I had to photograph Ortoköy when I had the opportunity, impossible to plan for the right light and conditions.  It was windy, very windy.  At night gales were whipping the water of the Bosphorus onto the low sea wall spraying everyone around and it was tough to keep the tripod upright in such conditions.

Hand held day shots were not as bad.  The wind wasn’t as strong and the golden hour gave a nice tint to the marble of the mosque.  I bracketed some shots as the sky was very bright, the paving dark and wet.  The water on the floor meant that reflections were bouncing all over.

Ortoköy as the sunsets, 3 shots bracketed, f/11, 15mm, ISO400

After the sun fell, cue the increased wind…decreased temperature and wild sea spray.  Oh, and my muppet moment!

Do not call me names for I know that I am muppet, and this is one of my best to date and, as a results, not one of my best shoots.

I had planned to get shots of the mosque lit up at night with the glowing lights of the bridge in the background...that, at least, was the plan.  Very long exposures would also help me blur all people out of the shot, even the ones lingering for the umpteenth selfie.

As always, before trying long exposures, I took a test shot to make sure I had things lined up.  Checked it on the back screen and there were a few spray spots spoiling the light stars.  Only now did I release that I had left my remote and my lens cloth, in my camera bag…which, unlike me, was nestled in a warm restaurant nearby with my wife. 

I know now that I shouldn’t have persevered trying to clean the lens and filter with the inside material of my filter pouch.  Albeit it's made of the same material as the lens cloth, I know now that it was unable to clean the lens properly.  In the dark by the street lights it had looked clean…but it wasn’t.  I know...muppet!

I took another test shot, a quick look, not bad! I really did look clean!  Glasses? Where were they?  Yep...you guessed.

I didn’t want to leave the spot I had gained.  A few other photogs were prowling around for the best spots and many tourists, even on this cold January evening, were milling about.  I persevered to get what I could though annoyed that the spots never seemed to be cleared no matter how hard I wiped the filter.  ISO was increased to allow the shutter speed to use the max 30 seconds, I couldn't use bulb mode without the remote or a cable release.  Filters then were not going to work.  

Was this a lack of planning? I had planned it.  Or was it just being too keen to get on with taking the images?  Honestly, both!

I moved away from the water’s edge to line up some different compositions, damn, it was cold!  The spot problem decreased, but it never went away.  After about 30 minutes freezing in the cold wind trying different alternatives, I gave up.  Huffing in the restaurant to my patient wife drinking her tea.

After looking through the images in the restaurant I contemplated going back out…with the right kit.  Or better still, waiting for the next time in Istanbul when I hopefully won’t have to contend with the spray lashing up from the water’s edge.  Living in Turkey I usual have a stop over in Istanbul before flying to the UK, so a return in more amicable conditions looked the best option.  Most shots I had could not be saved.  If not deleted right there and then, they were after importing into Lightroom.  I did however manage to get one or two that, when merged to b&w and with a lot of cleaning, I managed to get almost spot free-ish.  Believe me, such a gritty black and white had never been my intention, but it made something out of a disaster.

Ortoköy at night, 3 shots bracketed, f/16, ISO100

And there was one, yes one, that I managed to keep in colour. Though sadly heavily flawed.

f/18, 8secs, ISO100

So, don’t be a muppet! 

1) If you forget your kit…stop.  Go and get it!  Spending 10 minutes to collect and reset up is better than losing almost all your shots.  Obviously!  Doh!

2) Before you charge in to get your top shot.  Take a deep breath.  Check everything!

This ever happened to you?  Share your experiences!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) bosphorus darkness errors istanbul landscape photography learning mistakes mosque night shoot nighttime ortakoy photography photography enthusiast photography kit photography tips travel photography http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/muppet-moments-07---raindrops-keep-falling-on-my-lens Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Frustrating a photographer in the Wye Valley http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/frustrating-a-photographer-in-the-wye-valley

St Mary's Church, Ross-on-Wye, from the village of Wilton, Herefordshire. f/11, 1/80, 21mm, ISO100

Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, is a beautiful small town set in the picturesque Wye Valley near the border with England and Wales.  For me Ross represents the very essence of the problem that tortures the soul to create frustrations in a wannabe photographer.

As I mention on my about page, and have touched on several times in other posts, I would be a landscape photographer, if I could.  If I had the talent and...well, I won’t go into details now but a knee problem other factors that prevent me from having the freedom of being in the right place at the right time for that, often elusive, perfect light.  Not to mention perfect weather condition.  See the recent posts on photographing Yorkshire in heavy summer rain and dense low cloud.  Typical...ah well!

So I am not a landscape photographer.  Am I a travel photographer? Well, no.  Not really.   Travel photography really needs to include people, the locals, while telling the story.  I’ve never liked taking a picture of a stranger in a street.  Am I too reservedly British to do that?  Many Brits are excellent travel photographers.  No.  It’s just me!

What am I then?  An opportunist photographer!  One who takes what he can, when he can and prays that the light and weather conditions when he arrives at a cracking location are, if not magnificent, at least benign. 

One side of being a frustrated photographer, (insert landscape in there), is, usually, passing through an ideal location in ideal conditions but unable to stop.  Drivers of public transport are not obliging to such request as “Stop the bus! Stop the bus!  Can you give me 20 minutes to set up and take some photos of this scene, please?”  I wonder why?

The other side of the rough rusted low-denomination coin of a now defunct currency is being in the ideal place with conditions that aren’t ideal.  But at least this is better than conditions that prevent photography at all…isn’t it?

Is a bad picture of a good place better than no picture at all?  Well, it depends. 

Do you:

a. take every picture expecting it to be portfolio quality in order to sell

or

b. enjoy the process of taking photographs whatever the outcome?

Well, for me it’s b), it has to be b).  Frustration, and hunger, would be extreme if I was trying to make a living from landscape photography without transport. 

I enjoy the quiet time with a camera.  The process of finding shots, adjusting settings, seeing what I can get.  The process of trying to make as good an image as possible is my hobby and I adore being close to the beauty of the world while I do it.  Ultimately the 'means' are my hobby and if the ‘ends’ are nice images, that’s a bonus.  But, how I would love to increase the value of the end result but having the ideal conditions.  <sigh> Ah well!

So Ross.  My family and I had scheduled a stop here for one night on our way through to Wales.  Ross, being known as a nice spot in beautiful countryside, was ideal.  The image above was taken on the banks of the River Wye from the nearby village of Wilton.  It’s nice and colourful, just nice...not outstanding by any means.  Mid-afternoon sun, not the greatest light, but some puffy clouds around add depth and dimension. 

Naturally I cannot expect the driver and the rest of the family to fit travel and meal plans all around sun times.  Nor can I expect them to wait around twiddling thumbs until the light changes, when it probably won't.  As an opportunist photographer, you take what you get and hope you can return to the location if there’s a change…though that’s rarely possible.

I did have another shot (pun intended) at Ross though.  The next morning we’d pass the spot of the classic view of the town by taking the A40 road into Wales.  The view is of the town using the river to lead into the shot with the spire of St Mary’s Church reflecting in the water.  There are shots of this view but with the spire reaching above ethereal mists glowing gold with the morning sunlight, go find them on Flickr or Google Images now.  Definitely end results to be really happy with!

What did I get? 

Roll the dice of weather luck and see if you get a 6 or a 0.  I know zero is not on a dice but you know the type of weather I mean: the 'nothing weather'.  The forecast wasn’t good.  It predicted a 1 at best.  Certainly not the time of year for the mist, but grey cloud was expected.  Stormy angry looking clouds could add a bit of mood, but no, perhaps that would be a 4.  But summer drizzly clouds were expected!  High, bright grey, blankets of boringness! 

Naturally I still tried to get the shot.  Mono was always going to be the choice for this. The grey sky and lack of any real light had sucked a lot of the colour out of the Wye Valley, but at least it wasn’t quite a 0, perhaps it was a 1. 

I had to work hard to maximise what cloud definition there was in the sky and with Lightroom tweaks I was able to bring back even more.  I bracketed 3 shots, to try and get more detail in the sky than the tonal range of my 70D would normally give.  I even used a 3 grad filter to hold in the sky.  f/11, 38mm, ISO100, and HDR merge and black and white conversion in Lightroom resulted in this.  That cloud definition was barely visible with the naked eye.  Amazing what RAW files can do with a bit of jiggery-pockery, perhaps a 2 on the dice after all.

Ross-on-WyeRoss-on-WyeMoody grey skies over the Wye Valley

St Mary's Church, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.  3 shots bracketed, HDR, f/11, 38mm

I know it's not the portfolio quality of a professional, but I was happy enough to put it in my gallery.  Perhaps to serve as a reminder that optimum light isn’t needed to get acceptable images, if not exceptional ones, and to remember WHY I am doing what I do?  For the love of doing it, or the love (and glory) of £-$-€- that the results could give?  Sure, the latter would be nice, but as a hobby, the former is a wonderful pastime. 

Ever had a shoot ruined by weather? Or have you ever had to alter your plans to get a result in a difficult situation?

Share your experiences here!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) countryside hobby landscape landscape photography learning pastime photography photography enthusiast photography tips reasons to take photographs ross-on-wye travel photography weather http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/frustrating-a-photographer-in-the-wye-valley Tue, 06 Mar 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Journey to Yorkshire 2017 – Part 4: Janet’s Foss and Gordale Scar http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/journey-to-yorkshire-2017-part-4-janet-s-foss-and-gordale-scar Sorry folks...bit of a long one, bare with me!

The next morning.  The patches of blue between grey scudding clouds were already getting smaller.  The forecast: not great, no, in fact, it was terrible!  Grey skies are perfect for waterfalls, bright sun makes controlling the exposure difficult as it shines on the white water, but heavy showers were expected, annoyingly, clearing by late evening!

The plan had been to drive to the picturesque village of Malham, then walk through the sites.  First the trail to Janet’s Foss waterfall, then to Gordale Scar.  I am not fit, (or crazy), enough to attempt the climb up the side of the Gordale Scar waterfall, and the path through the valley towards Malham Cove is very attractive and offers great photo opportunities of the limestone cliffs.  The plan then was to walk back from the Scar, through the valley and then to walk to the top of the Cove onto the natural limestone paving.  Although I would not be on top of the Cove for a stunning sunrise or sunset, the views are beautiful any time of day.  From the Cove, I would walk straight down to Malham Tarn; a ‘tarn’ being a a lake, usually in the hills, formed by rain water.  After the previous day, and indeed the previous two weeks, there was no risk of low water levels in the tarn or the falls!

Driving towards Malham the traces of blue sky had gone, but even before this the hope of getting all the photo opportunities had been torn up.  Heavy showers are one thing, strong cold wind another, but additionally, as with the day before, the low cloud would block out any scenic views, making hiking for photographs pointless.  Remember, this was August – summertime!  Bad luck!

We parked up opposite the start of the trail to Janet’s Foss.  It was already raining.  But, just as yesterday, the hike had to be done, now!

I wear a mesh fisherman’s vest when I am out on photo walks.  Not an old, once white, string vest that a fisherman once wore.  But a mesh type jacket full of pockets.  It’s perfect for carrying, and easily accessing, batteries, cloths, rain covers, and even lenses that fit inside spacious inner pockets.  VThis vest is over the shirt and jumper, and on top of the vest a waterproof coat, similar to a cagoule – essentially a large piece of blue plastic, shaped(-ish) into a coat, with elastic hood, sleeves and waist to try and keep out the rain.  It’s blue.  Not very fashionable, but fashion wasn’t the purpose.  Under the cajoule the filter pouch, tripod and camera were slung around my neck.   All in an attempt to keep things dry.  It just about succeeded!

The hike had been shortened due to the weather, just to Janet’s Foss and the Scar.   I gave my folks an expectation of return time and off I went.  Is it brightening up?  ‘Brightening up!’ This is a phrase uttered by the British on many holidays and/or days out spoilt by the rain.  No one, except the British in these circumstances, could define any change of brightness.  Truth is...there usually is none.  The phrase is close kin to the rain focused ‘it seems to be easing off!’  It got heavier as I walked, and the wind stronger!  What was I doing?

Here for perhaps one time only, it had to be done.  Extra incentive: my mother really wanted a shot of the Foss having always heard about it, but never seen it.  I came across a new obstacle.  Cows!

A swing gate beneath the trees and a herd huddled timidly together for warmth under what little rain cover was available.  Three of them squarely positioned in the gateway.  Had the weather not being so appalling I would’ve taken a photograph.  Beautiful docile faces looking at me, probably wondering why this lunatic in blue was approaching.

I ushered them back.  Politely.  ‘Come on ladies, back up a little!’  My wife wasn’t on this trip, perhaps just as well as I could never have got her to walk past these, she’s as timid as these ladies.  They backed up slowly, watching me as they moved just enough for me to edge the gate open and pass through.  I walked by and they closed back in again.  This path is signposted for the famous and popular walk of the Pennine Way, but at 10 that morning, there was only me...and the cows.  At least it should guarantee that I can photograph the falls without other bright blue (or yellow) cagoule forms filling the frame.

The trail to the Foss is beautiful.  Or would’ve been.  I couldn’t see most of the grand views of the Pennines and Malham Cove. It was all hidden in low cloud.  The walks over the top were clearly not worth doing.  Janet, of Janet’s Foss fame, was a Faerie Queen, so it is said, who lived/lives in a cave nearby.  The word ‘foss’ is Nordic for falls. 

The trail entered a small woodland, this was gorgeous.  The stream that the trial from the village follows was wider, twisting and turning through the dark crowding trees and moss covered rocks.  Everything was damp and dripping which gave the place a surreal atmosphere.  After many twists and turns there it was, Janet’s Foss.  The small beck wasn’t so small today, raging over the edge, the plunge pool near bursting.  I had never seen a picture of the falls like this.  It had stopped raining, or so I thought, but here before the waterfall, large drops of cold rain fell regularly from the leaves above.  I had to set up the tripod, arrange filters, all without getting anything too wet.

The rain cover had been placed over my camera before I started the walk as extra protection against the elements, (see my recent blog entry on this wonderful invention(!)).  It worked, to a degree, but a number of shots were ruined, or had to have the drops cleared when post processing.

I levelled the tripod, framed up a shot, self-timer and click.  As usual aperture priority to capture a basic shot before I started to play with shutter speeds.  The Little Stopper was employed to slow the shutter speed right down.  A lovely silky image appeared on the rear screen, but with water splodges everywhere.  The rain cover was on, extended over the filters.  How?  Then I realised, it was me.  The cagoule was dripping water as I learned over to line up the shot. 

Have you ever tried to dry a wet filter when water is falling from you, leaves and splashing from fall?  Not easy.  Eventually I got it dry enough to attempt another shot. 

Janet's Foss (f/8, 30secs, 18mm, ISO400)

Shots merged to blur water, but not the trees!

My time for returning had already expired and I hadn’t even got to the Scar yet.  It was slow going fighting with the elements.  I tried the mobile, no signal.  I tried the walkie-talkie back up, no connection.  Great!  I am sure they wouldn’t have worried about an hour or so, they’re pragmatic folk, but I am the sort that worries that others might worry.  What could I do?  Get a move on!

I left the Foss climbing up the steps that were part of its natural wall out towards Gordale Scar.  Fortunately the walk from the Foss to the Scar isn’t far and it had stopped raining, though more was clearly on the way.   The cut running in between two hills looking impressive, perhaps more so thanks to the ominous cloud.  I walked up the lane towards the campsite, a signal on the walkie-talkie and I manage to get a message through that all was ok and that I was going on, but reception was poor.  It didn’t alleviate my concerns over time but a photo had to be taken of this dramatic scenery.  There was no colour so this would really suit a moody mono.  I didn’t frame up with the tripod but took my time to handhold a decent composition.

Into the ScarInto the ScarThe path through the campsite into and under Gordale Scar, North Yorkshire

Towards Gordale Scar (f/8, 1/500, 18mm, ISO400)

Time was ticking.  I put my tripod back over my shoulder.  Crash!  If someone had been behind me, I would’ve caused them serious injury! 

I looked around, what was that sound?  There was my tripod, on the floor, 5 feet behind me.  I had swung it over my shoulder thinking my arm was through the strap, it wasn’t.  Good hardy kit though, no damage done, thanks also to the soft turf.

Get on!  Now jogging (!) Yes, jogging! 

In full camera gear and with water bouncing off my cagoule, I was running through the campsite on the flat path approaching the scar.  It must have been a lovely site for the damp campers to see this blue flash in full camera gear running along the path.  Ok, so maybe not a flash, I’m not that fast, more of a flounder...

The rain seemed to be spitting again, but it was the high sided narrow gorge of Gordale Scar with the wind whipping around like a whirlwind.  The stream at the bottom of the Scar was an intriguing coffee colour, the silky water, the cream; a lovely contrast.  I framed up.  The wind was even shaking the camera with the tripod on its shortest height.  I crouched around it, burning my problematic knees with pain, I was almost on all fours as I fought to keep the wind from affecting the images (again without the filters to compose and then with the Little Stopper to turn the cream water to silk).

Coffee with CreamCoffee with CreamThe coffee coloured riverbed of Gordale Beck and the lower section of the falls at Gordale Scar.

Coffee with Cream, lower falls at Gordale Scar, (f/8, 20sec, 24mm, ISO400)

I worked as fast as I could. Time!  Got to get back!  I was late already and had the return journey to traverse.  Each shot was taken several times with and without filters and flipping from landscape to portrait to cover as much as I could and not regret missing a shot as I had done on the Elidir Trail (read that MUPPET MOMENT here).  Ok, time to go!

Whaaaatttt?  Oh my %&/U^+%, I didn’t know that was there! 

Despite my research I had never known there was a top section to the Gordale falls.  It looked impressive too, full and swollen as it came out of the high rocks above.  Wet rocks were all around, I couldn’t frame it well from ground level.  How would I climb to get a decent shot and without time to do it?

No I couldn’t.  Some people do climb up the side of the lower section, and yes it is possible.  But wet rocks, full camera gear?  No!  I later read that shortly after my visit a climber had broke her leg falling down the bottom section of this very waterfall!  I am not a climber, I’m a faller, so I think I made the right decision.

There was a small patch of blue sky up there too.  To capture both parts of the fall, the sky detail, and the dark wet rocks, I bracketed for three shots to merge later.  Again I sheltered my tripod as well as I could from the wind and the rain being blown from the Scar walls.

The Falls at Gordale Scar and the brief patch of blue

(f/11, 30sec, 50mm, ISO400)

Over an hour late back.  Get moving!

Off I went, regretting with every step that I hadn’t arranged a longer time period for the hike.  The walkie-talkie sounded.  Poor reception again.  I got the message through, I think.  Move!

The trek continued back towards the Foss.  The rain still holding off so I carried the camera and was able to take a few clicks on the trail back: sheep standing on rocky outcrops, or being nosey through a gate. 

Back at the Foss, people!  Ah well, had to be expected.  I lined up another couple of shots on the tripod from a slightly different angle, only later in Lightroom did I notice the alien rock on the right.  Coincidence that such a thing would be in this place of the faerie folk? Odd! 

The Alien at Janet's Foss (f/11, 25sec, 18mm, ISO800)

Again, shots merged to blur water, but not the trees!

Photographers and hikers had now come out of their hides, lots more people were coming up the path through the wood.  The sun too came out briefly and that faerie woodland with the moss covered rocks and dripping high trees was certainly a magical place.  The air was so fresh and pure.  Gorgeous!

On and out of the woodland and back along the path, walking as quickly as I could. There were more patches of blue but all on the wrong side.  Malham Cove was still dressed in low grey cloud.  The blue appearing way off to the left, the weather was coming from over the Cove on the right.  Any shots I took now would have a wide tonal range, but as the rain had stopped, I decided to handhold a few shots for memory’s sake, each bracketed and taken to remind me of that wonderful natural landscape. 

A coach load of sikh ladies approached with their guide, each one wearing a colourful sari, decorated at the hem with Yorkshire mud.  They looked cheerful enough as we exchanged ‘good morning’.  A sign that now the day trippers were descending on the area.  More people not to have luck with the weather. 

I made it back to Malham Village and there in front of me was a very welcome site.  Near the start/end of the trail was The Old Barn Cafe ("Muddy Boots welcome"...just as well!).  They make packed lunches for hikers or serve hot and cold food to eat on the premises.  The fried breakfasts looked wonderful, but I had already had one that day.  The sandwiches and cuppas though were perfect. 

If I could do it again, I would definitely give myself at least four hours just for the two falls. 

TIP: always overestimate the duration of a photo trip when arranging to meet afterwards.  You’ll only end up regretting not getting a shot.  My biggest regret of the day was that both falls were not covered as well as I should’ve and of course, perhaps I will not see them again.  Why, time!

We live and learn!  It’s a stunning area, and should be enjoyed as slowly as possible, in any weather!

On the Pennine Way (3 shots bracketed, f/5.6, 20mm, ISO100)

Part 5 online shortly.  Malham back to Haworth and the end of the 2017 Yorkshire trip.

Please share any comments / images / ideas about similar experiences.

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) bad weather gordale scar hills janet's foss landscape photography malham nature photography photography enthusiast photography tips rain river travel photography waterfall weather woodland http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/journey-to-yorkshire-2017-part-4-janet-s-foss-and-gordale-scar Fri, 02 Mar 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Tips - Get out more 04: Tripod strap! http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/tips---get-out-more-04-tripod-strap Some tripods are useful, they have their own bag, but, we enthusiastic enthusiasts, walking around looking for shots in cities and on hikes, often need to be able to carry the camera at our side and have quicker, easier access to the tripod.  I use the Mefoto Roadtrip,  It doesn't have full height and features, but then it is a travel tripod and a pretty good one too!

Regardless of which tripod you use, there’s nothing worse than having to unpack and set up kit each time you see a good shot, especially if moving from silky water to snapping fast moving objects.  Unfortunately though, most tripods don’t have their own strap!  Weird, I wonder why not?  It would be useful...

Enter metal hose clamps.  What's a metal hose clamp?  A metal loop with a screw that makes the metal loop tighter (see here).  Put one of these around one of your tripod legs, and a nylon cable tie tied into a loop, then tighten up the hose clamp and you're ready to attach a strap!  Easy!

The solution may cause legs to loosen (the tripod leg, not the photogs), and so you do this at your own risk of invalidating warranty or damaging your tripod!  It’s what I do, I am not recommending it, just saying it’s what I do!  Hope that’s clear! 

I don't claim to have invented this.  My inventiveness isn't so radical that I could be the first and I am sure there must be someone else that has had the idea of fixing a strap on a tripod using metal hose clamps...It works for me.

A piece of advice though...carry a spare cable tie.  A couple times the cable tie has broke when out walking as the hose clamp will gradually eat away at the nylon cable tie.  Basically, the thicker and stronger the cable tie, the better!

Together with my Black Rapid RS7 strap, placing my camera on my hip, and a Sirrui quick release plate, mean I can quickly move my camera from sling strap to tripod and back.  My tripod is easily carried, easily set up and then back over my shoulder, (except for the time in Yorkshire last year when I thought my arm was through the strap and I launched the tripod five feet behind me - testimony to the Roadtrip tripod...it survived its maiden flight!).

Having your tripod available, in a city or out in the country, increases the ease at which you can switch between different set ups.  Less hassle means you're more likely to stop and take the shot.  Naturally if you are using a full-size tripod, the weight will be a burden, as it would however you carry it!  

Got any other photo hacks like this?  Please leave comments to share your solutions!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) cable tie camera hacks cheap easy to carry hose clamp photography photography enthusiast photography tips strap tripod tripod strap http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/tips---get-out-more-04-tripod-strap Tue, 27 Feb 2018 08:30:00 GMT
Muppet Moment 06 – Castled? http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/muppet-moment-06-castled Actually this is the Muppet Moment that wasn’t, but almost was!

I’ve written before about missed opportunities, and this was nearly a big MUPPET MOMENT!

Have you ever heard of Raglan Castle?  Full details here at their site.   

Unless you are from Wales, probably not.  I had, but only in passing.  Never in the same breath as the most famous Welsh castles such as Chepstow, Caernarfon or Caerphilly for example.

Ragland Castle (f/8, 30secs, 15mm, ISO320)

We were travelling into Wales for our week long break touring around some different spots.  The Elidir Trail, as serialised in this blog, was to be a major stop.  But before we made it over the border between England and Wales we had stopped near Ross-on-Wye, the next day we were to travel through to a hotel near the Brecon Beacons at Abergavenny.  How could we spend the day?  It wasn’t far from Ross to Abergavenny, only 30 miles on the most direct route.  Sure we’d pass through the Beacons but, as was the case this summer, the weather forecast wasn’t great, so no chance of much hiking around without getting soaked.  Low clouds and rain being expected after lunch (and they came).

We choose Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire to stop at and have a look, to lengthen the journey and see a bit of the local landscape.

We arrived about 11, parked up in the car park and I got out and had a look over the gate.  Paid entry.  Normal.  No big deal and expected for the upkeep of such places.

My family would have to stay in the car while my wife and I walked around it, not the mountain goats that they used to be with regard to agility and balance! 

At least an hour to go around.  It looked big!  Windy, scudding clouds, I’d do some long exposures, maybe 90 minutes.  No!  I wouldn’t keep them waiting; they’ll have a long, long wait tomorrow when I hike the waterfall trail.

We drove out towards the gate of the car park, after much debate about wandering around it, or not. 

“No, stop!  I will go around it.”

Fortunately my folks are understanding souls!!!

Crisis averted. 

I did visit and photograph Raglan Castle. 

Unfortunately it is one of those places that you cannot sell photographs of without paying a fee to the owners (CADW).  I cannot afford such a fee, I’d only ever sell 1 or 2 at the very most.  But, as a tourist, and a photographer, I can fully recommend visiting Raglan Castle and having a good look around.  It’s a beautiful place and a substantial ruin.  Lots of interesting compositions to be had!  

 

In the courtyard (f/8, 1/60, 15mm, ISO100)

False Promises (the weather didn't stay blue for long) (f/4, 1/400, 15mm, ISO100)

Sure enough, as we entered the Beacons the cloud descended further, and the rain came...but at least I’d got some shots that morning.

 

So, DON’T BE A MUPPET.  If you get the opportunity to visit something - take it!  You’ll only regret it later!

 

Ever missed an opportunity?

Write a comment and share your experience!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) architecture buildings castle history learning mistakes monmouthshire nature photography photography enthusiast photography tips ragland castle ruins travel photography wales welsh http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/muppet-moment-06-castled Fri, 23 Feb 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Original London Light Trails? Admiralty Arch http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/original-london-light-trails I visit London two or three times whenever I go back to England.  My home town being very close and the city is famously rich in photographic opportunities.  There are so many historic old buildings, modern structures, ornate churches and also the wonderful Royal Parks.  The views along and across the Thames, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s, Parliament, The Shard, The Eye...the list is endless.  But there are many lesser known landmarks that are equally interesting and, after so many visits, it’s now these unique places and lesser taken views, that I try to seek out.

That brings us to Admiralty Arch, at the end of the Mall leading into Trafalgar Square.  It’s a gorgeous old monument any time of day, read here for more details about the structure.

London Light trails are very common.  Whether along Tower Bridge, in front of St Paul's or beneath the Elizabeth Tower, (that’s the one with the bell of Big Ben inside it).  Many people incorrectly call the Elizabeth Tower ‘Big Ben’, remember that ‘Big Ben’ is the name of the bell that goes BONG, not the tower in which the BONGs bong!

Anyway, mini rant over.  When thinking about other possible locations for light trails, Admiralty Arch came to mind.  I am sure shots exist, they must do, but I have not happened to come across them.  Though remember, when doing any light trails with traffic, always, always be careful!  You can misjudge things when focusing on your camera!  DON'T TAKE PHOTOS IN THE ROAD - STAY WELL CLEAR OF TRAFFIC!  Traffic can hurt!

After trying a couple of compositions, I choose this angled shot as it emphasises the full arch shape of the monument, not only it's arches, as well capturing the light trails moving under it.  

No filters were needed, by using a narrow aperture and a low ISO I was able to get the shutter speed slow enough to capture the light trails.  Several shots were taken to get a variety of traffic, both large and small, cars and buses for lights at different heights.  The final images were then merged, using auto align and then a lighten blend mode to allow only the lighter parts of each imageş (i.e. the light trails), to show through to the top layer.  The final flattened image was boosted for colours and contrast in Lightroom to polish off the result. 

If you have shots of lesser known landmarks, light trails or not, please share a link in the comments!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) architecture city photography light trails london night time photography photography enthusiast photography tips road traffic travel photography http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/original-london-light-trails Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:15:00 GMT
Journey to Yorkshire 2017 – Part 3: Ribblesdale and the viaduct http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/journey-to-yorkshire-2017-part-3-ribblesdale-and-the-viaduct Journey to Yorkshire 2017 – Part 3: Ribblesdale

Would I be able to see the viaduct?

Yes!

Would I be able to photograph that majestic viaduct without getting soaking wet? 

No!

But that’s jumping forward.  Some background:

The Ribblesdale viaduct is just on the border between North Yorkshire and Cumbria.  It’s a stunning feat Victorian engineering from the golden age of steam.  It’s on the branch line between Settle and Carlisle, which for many years was closed.  Now reopened it carries passenger and freight, but if you ever visit, notice how slow the trains move over those arches.  Which is a good thing as I guess the views from the top must be impressive.  Not today though!

The viaduct opened in 1875.  This information from the Visit Cumbria website:

“Hundreds of railway builders (“navvies”) lost their lives building the line, from a combination of accidents, fights, and smallpox outbreaks. In particular, building the Ribblehead (then Batty Moss) viaduct, with its 24 massive stone arches 104 feet (32 metres) above the moor, caused such loss of life that the railway paid for an expansion of the local graveyard.”

Grim stuff!

Under the viaduct I believe there used to be some kind of old railway depot.  Now it’s given over to the moorland.  I knew where I needed to be to start my hike.  A very useful photograph online shows the road junction  sign with the majestic structure in the background.  The junction of the B6255 and B6479, near Ribblesdale railway station.

On the approach the weather was getting worse.  The grey getting thicker as drizzle hit the windows.  Here perhaps only once, and maybe never again, I had to get something.  The scenery of the high hills of the Pennines on the road up, and of Ribblesdale itself, would have been splendid, had the weather played ball. 

The B6255, the road running through the dale, was closed a few miles on.  After we turned off the B6479 ‘No Through Road – Access Only’ raised its very ugly head.  It didn’t say why, but I can guess.  There was a BT wagon in the lay-by at the edge of the dale.  BT...you +%&/()=.  Yes, they were at it here too…there were also a couple of trucks parked under the viaduct!  In August, closing roads where tourist and holiday makers want to go.  Opppf!

We couldn’t cross the dale, as was our plan, we’d have to find another way back.  But for the moment we pulled up in the in the lay-by near the dreaded white vans.  I got out, donned my waterproofs and began to take some distant shots, before my hike across to the viaduct itself.  Depending on the weather, I would cross the dale to shoot from the other side, and straight on from distance if I could.

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Taken on LG G4

While I was there several train rolled across, sadly no steam!  What a grand sight that must make!  A couple of passenger units, and a freight train that seemed to tip-toe over those majestic stone arches was all that went passed.  It was drizzling again.  Mist was rolling across the hills of Whernside opposite.  Whernside was becoming hidden by the low cloud.  Off I went.  Over the years as a child, we’d often had picnics in the car as the weather was spoiler the day.  Make the most of it, the English holiday approach.  Today would be no different.  Would we see anything more of the Whernside hills that we're being swallowed by that all encompassing cloud before leaving?

The more I walked, the more it seemed to rain.  Across the grassy moorland for the distance square on shot was out of the question, it was boggy and the weather was getting worse by the minute.  I had to play percentages and try to get shots that I knew would work.  Onward.  A couple of shots fired from this new angle.  These had to be taken handheld.  My makeshift rain cover (plastic bag with a hole cut at one end - very effective) was keeping the rain out of my lens and camera body, but keeping the glass drip free was tough.  No, not tough, impossible!

Strangest thing of all.  I wasn’t the only lunatic doing this hike in the rain. The dogs really didn't mind, is he wearing shorts???  Must be a local!

I reached the centre point and darted off the path and fired off a number of shots to make a pano.  Again, handheld as the rain was too heavy to set up the tripod and keep everything dry.  I had no hope for this pano, the scene wasn’t what it should be as there was no detail in the landscape at all.  I am glad I hadn’t tried for the square on distance shot.  It would pick out nothing but the dim outline of the arches against an ever shifting mass of formless grey.  There was no landscape, just cloud and rain! which was now very heavy, with a strong squally wind whipping around.

I approached the arches, perhaps up close was my best (only) hope of a usable image.  A contrasty shot of the arches at a dynamic angle was my best composition.  The image below had to be cleaned of water drops.  What else could I do?  I had to photograph it today, when would I be back?  Rain was still falling, from the sky, and from me - the problem with waterproofs is that they drip! 

If anything, I think I did well to get some shots and return with a usable camera! 

Under the archesUnder the archesThe Ribblesdale Viaduct, Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire. Also know as the Batty Moss Viaduct, on the Settle-Carlisle line.

f/11 - 1/1600 - 15mm - ISO 800

I am certain that the grim weather actually made this shot more impressive than it would've been on a dry clear day.  Some good can come out of bad weather!  Persist!

With the weather conditions the rest of the day was abandoned as far as photography was concerned.  After finding another route back to the hotel, with telecoms company causing us to redirect several times, we adjourned to our rooms to meet later for dinner. 

After dinner, back to that ominous churchyard.  Not as atmospheric as the night before.  It was earlier than last night and the cloud was breaking to show the sun setting, albeit out of view.  The forecast had said a cloudy, dry evening.  It lied! 

The forecast for the next day was the same.  Disappointing, it didn't look good.  The plan had been to walk from Malham village to Janet’s Foss waterfall, then to Gordale Scar, an imposing cut in the hillside with a waterfall running through it.  I had planned then to hike from the Scar through the valley to the imposing limestone cliffs of Malham Cove, and then over the top of the cove and down to Malham Tarn for some waterside shots. 

Find out how successful this plan was (or wasn’t) next week!

Got any similar stories or comments about weather spoiling, or enhancing, your shots?

Please share!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) architecture bad weather black and white cloud landscape photography monochrome nature photography photography enthusiast rain ribblesdale ribblesdale viaduct travel photography viaduct weather http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/journey-to-yorkshire-2017-part-3-ribblesdale-and-the-viaduct Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:45:00 GMT
Tips – Get out more 03: Rain Covers http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/tips-get-out-more-03-rain-covers If you don’t have solid weather sealed camera and lenses, (as I don’t), you need a decent rain cover to be confident shooting in wet weather, which in the UK we have quite a lot of.  Even outside of summer, here in Turkey, the weather can often be wet.  Ask more photogs and they will tell you that bad weather often makes a much better picture, clear blue sky isn't very interesting...that's for holiday snaps, so if you're out in dodgy weather, you need protection!

Checking on Amazon.co.uk, you can buy rain covers from as little as £8, without spending over £100 for Canon’s own!   Really Canon? £100?  That’s what Amazon sells the Canon ERC E4L Large EOS DSLR Cover for.  What does it do?  Automatically dry your hands at the same time? 

Anyway, back to my own solution.  I don't claim to have invented this, and I am sure many others do the same.

The solution below may not be 100% waterproof, I am not sure even the expensive Canon option guarantees that.  The idea below is what I do; I am not recommending it, just saying it’s what I do!  Hope that’s clear!

All I use is:  1 medium sized clear plastic bag; 1 pair of scissors; 2 elastic bands

Yes, it is that simple!

I used this approach several times in the UK last year.  On the Elidir Trail in Wales, and especially up in Yorkshire in rained a lot!  I had to keep my gear dry.  My 70D doesn’t have rain seals, nor do my lenses.  I wish I could afford kit that did.  Even if it did, I am not sure I’d be happy with so much water falling on expensive gear as it would've done up in Yorkshire...

The solution of cutting the bottom out of a plastic bag, placing it over your lens and pulling it over your camera works perfectly. The only problem I had was rain drops falling on the filter glass from me while drying the filter glass, a slight adjustment in bag position was needed, 

  • Use a bag big enough to get your hands under. 
  • Use a clear bag so you can see the buttons. 
  • Put one elastic band over the front end of your lens, you shouldn’t need the second (but it’s good to have a spare)! 
  • Leave enough bag in front of the elastic band so that you can fold a peak over the lens and cover filters.
  • Leave enough room at the back that you can lift it and see your rear screen. 
  • Eh viola – rain cover! (Less than 50p)

Sorry I didn't include a photo...but do you really want a photograph of a camera in a plastic bag? Well, let me know if you do! :)

My clear plastic bag, that now goes with me everywhere, came from Simmonds Bakery, where they make extremely fine bread and cakes!  No sponsorship, just if you’re passing and fancy a sausage roll ;)

Got any other photo hacks like this?  Please leave comments to share your solutions!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) bad weather camera hacks cheap tips keeping gear dry photography photography enthusiast photography tips protection rain cover travel photography http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/tips-get-out-more-03-rain-covers Sun, 11 Feb 2018 11:00:00 GMT
In-Camera Filters??? http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/in-camera-filters In-Camera Filters???  Let's call them ICFs (As there are so many acronyms in photography already, another won't hurt!)

Mr Frustrated Photog., what are you talking about?

Well, let me explain.  Over a year ago I sent this thought to Canon via there 'contact us' web link. I have had a stock reply thanking me for contacting them...Nothing else, maybe not surprising as this is perhaps the insane musings of a frustrated photog's brain.  Anyway...

Filters, they're something extra to carry.  On a photo mission maybe you have your standard zoom, a wide angle, perhaps even another zoom, (like a 70-200), to help you pick out details and composition in a landscape.  So carrying filters as well, that's extra weight and something else to hang round your neck or pack in the bag.  Not to mention more glass to try and keep spot and blemish free.

We know that most effects that filters give us can be applied in post-processing, though purists like to capture the scene in camera, by using filters:  

  • ND filters to reduce the shutter speed and block out light by a few stops
  • Graduated (hard or soft) with 1, 2 or 3 stops of graduated density  
  • There's even a reverse grad, placing the darkest point on the horizon and becoming light towards the top, for sunrise and sunset images when the sun is on or very near the horizon.

So, carrying all of these? 

  • Polarizers, we'll talk about those in a minute

The grads are less than perfect unless you have a completely flat horizon.  Even with a soft filter there'll be some degree of overlap on hills, tree lines or what-have-you, maybe only visible to the pixel-peepers out there.  The ND filters apply the same effect across the scene.  E.g. to the river as well as trees.

The shots below of Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf in Wales were merged to allow me to use the silky water, but stationary tree detail.  In the first you can clearly see movement in the trees, movement I didn't want.  Of course, I blended these two images to make a composite.

How cool would it be if we could just affect the water in a single image?

Most enthusiast level cameras already have some 'effects'.  They also already take and blend multiple shots in their HDR function. All cameras change an image with white balance or some form of picture styling (neutral, mono, landscape etc). Are ICFs just a step on? Most digital cameras now have a rear screen and many are touchscreens. 

How about using all of this to apply a filter when looking at the live image of the scene in front of you?  

For example:

  1. Display the live image on screen
  2. Draw a line from any point on the LCD with a fingertip to select the area that the effect should be applied to
  3. We then adjust a tonal range and/or colour tolerance parameter that tells the camera to only apply the effect to certain tones/colours within the selected area and whether it should be continguous or not
  4. We choose how many stops we want to apply to the effect
  5. We choose how much we want to feather the result, i.e. how soft the transition should be
  6. The LCD would display, in real time, what the finished image will look like (updating as we change the parameters) 
  7. The camera would fire the shutter two or three times, similar to HDR functions, one for the normal shutter speed at the standard exposure, and one or two for the filtered area. 
  8. The images are then merged together by the camera and displayed as a single image.

Why stop there, why not apply multiple filters to different parts of the image, maybe even spot lighting via radial filters with feather control?

Maybe some bright spark in the R&D dept at Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Sony or whichever are already tinkering with the idea.  With faster, better processors, could this happen?  Holding back the ND grad from the leaves covering a waterfall could take a bit of clever thinking, but our digital camera are already pretty blumming amazing machines when you think about it.  Why not?

The polarizer is perhaps the only filter that has to be a physical object, I guess that lens technology to ignore light coming in at a different angle would make lenses even more expensive and heavier.  Grad filters; Ok, perhaps not as good in post-processing as when applied to the front of the camera, but is it so different? 

ND filters, like the big stopper, can be imitated by applying blur to selections, though I find using the physical ND filter much better and smoother than the post-processing route.

Could in-camera filters mean we only need to buy and carry a polarizer in the future?

What do you think?  10 years?  20 years?  Never?

Let me know, write a comment!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.

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tony.eski.26@gmail.com (ADP Photography) camera advances camera innovation development filters in-camera filter landscape photography photography photography enthusiast travel photography http://adpphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/in-camera-filters Wed, 07 Feb 2018 11:00:00 GMT