Articals

Discovering new photo locations

Norfolk city of Norwich at dusk.

Having a new job now based in Norwich has placed me within close proximity within prime locations along the River Wensum and from Mousehold hill that gives views over the city. When looking for photo ideas I look at other people work on Flickr and http://www.shothotspot.com/. Also being a member of a local Facebook group also provides inspiration. 

Jarrolds along the River Wensum 

Another good way to find locations is to simply just walk around and keep in mind where you have been for future photo opportunities, I have walked along the river many times but I now know where the good places.

Even in my local town where I have been living for 15 years I am still discovering new locations.  

Castle Acre & New Toy

Recently I purchased a "Joby Gorillapod" tripod designed for a lightweight camera like my Fuji. The idea is to replace much heavier and larger tripod for urban exploring as it can fit all in one bag.

The way its used is by attaching the tripod on railings, lamp posts or just simply walls to add stability to the camera which is essential for photographing sunsets and city skylines. 

A few days ago I was out exploring a nearby field which reportedly was growing yellow and red flowers but it turned out to be too far away from the roadside to be any good.

I then decided to travel to Castle Acre to capture the sunset from a viewpoint I discovered a couple weeks earlier and made a point to use my new "toy" which worked well and kept its position while I changed the dials to manually take images with different exposures to merge into HDR later. 

When I next visit London I shall only be taking this smaller tripod. It should also work well in woodland, however in the countryside I can see it being less useful for landscapes. 

Chinese New Year in London

At Christmas it was suggested that the family should meetup in London to see the Chinese New Year event and would be a good opportunity to capture some street life.

As I was traveling into London by myself I decided to leave early. Looking at the weather forecast Sunday afternoon was to be wet so any exploring had to be done in the morning while it was still dry. 

Chinese New Year in Chinatown

The alarm was set for 5am with the idea to leave about 6. It was a cold night and the car was frozen which needed removing. Before setting off the passenger side light bulb had blown as it was turned it on which took a good 20 minutes to replace, most of which was trying to find the tools I needed. 

After much research I decided to travel to Epping which is the closest underground station from Norfolk and is the start of the Central Line. Parking is £1.50 on a Sunday and estimated the underground fee to be around £7 round trip. 

Other options would have been to park at Ely and take the overground in Kings Cross or Downham Market if it were not closed to engineering works. The train fare would have been £22 which isn't bad. But there wasn't too much of a cost difference between these options when factoring in the petrol. I felt Epping would give me more flexibility with the more frequent trains.

Walkie-Talkie (Left) Cheesegrater (Tall Middle Building) Gherkin (Right)

Arriving at the underground around 8am, this was to be the start of my day. In the case of a couple of people who stumbled into the same train carriage theirs had just ended and quickly went to sleep. I found it amusing when they got off at Stratford as both sides of the carriage were open and they must have walked through the train a couple of times figuring out which side of the platform they wanted.

I pre planned my route to exit the underground at Bank to walk across Tower Bridge to explore the South Bank area as I researched where the Sun would be at that time of day. As soon as I emerged from the underground I was inspired by all the old and new architecture surrounding me with the Walkie-Talkie being the nearest landmark.

The equipment I brought along was both my Fuji X-E1 using the 35mm lens and Nikon D7100 with the 18-105mm and 35mm lenses. As I only have the one lens for the Fuji I would be limited in what images I could take and I knew a wide angle lens would be very useful. The D7100 is also weather sealed where the Fuji is not and with the threat of rain I wanted the option to take images if it were to get very wet. 

I spent about 3 hours walking along the South Bank absorbing the London skyline through the viewfinder seeing such landmarks as Tower Bridge, The Walkie-Talkie, Shard, Gherkin and City Hall to name a few. 

Saw a few of these along the Golden Jubilee Bridge

My exploring was peaceful and relaxing until I entered Trafalgar Square where it was packed with people celebrating Chinese New Year and it was a struggle getting through to the meeting point at the M&M store at Leicester Square. I should have gotten here much earlier if have had a chance to see any of the event. With so many people in front it was hopeless to get any images of the dragon (or sheep?) acrobatics. I could only see the large screens which isn't too interesting.

We soon went into Pizza Express in ChinaTown and by the time we finished it started to rain which signalled the end of the trip to London and made my way to the busy underground to start the journey home. 

Thoroughly enjoyed the day out with all the architecture to photograph. I have some time off at the end of March and intent to revisit for night photography. My wishlist for equipment is a wider angle lens for the Fuji to cut down on the weight and a Gorillapod to attach along the bridges and walls to eliminate the need for a bulky and heavy tripod. 

Exploring Norwich & Narborough

Narborough 

I belong to a Facebook group called Norfolk Countryside Photowhere people post their photos that have been taken in Norfolk on a wide variety of subjects, usually landscapes, animals and birds. I find it a good resource to discover new locations to visit and enjoy. The admin team had organised a meetup in Narborough for Saturday but due to the weather forecast it was delayed till Sunday.

Only been to Narborough to visit the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve which is known for the butterflies in the spring and summer. 

I'm still learning the Fuji camera so I decided to just bring this instead of the Nikon to get used to it more and also to keep the weight down and I definitely noticed the difference. Also not knowing the route this was going to be a scouting and socialising exercise. This was the first time I had meet this group so I was more interested in listening (i'm not much of a talker) and getting to know them.  

The only point of interest I saw was an old disused derelict watermill. Otherwise the usual farmland and trees are plentiful. Could be better in the summer with insects flying around. 

A map for this walk can be found on the Norfolk Trails website or click HERE for the PDF download.

Norwich 

As Saturday was now free I decided to visit Norwich to see a friend and to watch a film at the cinema, Night At The Museum 3 is worth watching. I intended to do a little street photography that would be a good subject to take advantage of using a smaller camera which is more discrete. However I just wasn't inspired and moved onto my preferred type of photography of architecture.

After going back to the car to off load some light shopping I started at the bridge near the cinema taking images interesting buildings either side of the river which I have done before. What was new to me was following the river around to Jarrolds Bridge passing by Cow Tower that I had yet to see. Considering how close it is to Jarrolds bridge that I have visited many times is just stupid.  This time I focused more on the materials of the bridge. 

By the time the film had finished it was close to sunset and decided to hang around till it was dark. For sometime now I have been wanting to visit Jarrolds Bridge at night as i've been told it lights up and I wasn't disappointed. 

On the way back to the car I decided to go by the Cathedral where I setup the tripod and took a series of images to merge into HDR later. What surprised me is when processing the image on the PC the camera had picked up the stars that I was not expecting and add to the final image. Normally stars do not show up when taking images in a city due to the light pollution.

The next part is a bit technical and can be skipped.

After using the Fuji I have noticed a couple of drawbacks compared to the Nikon. When doing bracketing to take multiple exposures to create an HDR image later I am used to the camera keeping up. On the Narborough trip I was taking images to stitch into a Panorama and often I bracket them. On the Fuji I was waiting for the camera to write to the card which isn't a slow card and I never had the same issue when using the same card in the Nikon so it is the Fuji not keeping up which was annoying as I take the sequence of images in burst mode to avoid using a tripod and remote control.

On the Nikon I set the bracketing option to take three images at +/- 2 stops whereas the Fuji only goes to +/- 1 stop which can be an issue. I would need to get a newer version that has the ability to use wifi and remotely control and take each image manually as changing the exposure settings. The Fuji is a bit fidley to change while taking a sequence of images. 

That being said the X-E1 with the 35mm lens is a fantastic camera, the image quality coming out is excellent and I just love using the camera. Once you know the limitations you can work around them.   

Disappointment From High Expectations

One of my main goals of the year was to attempt to photograph fireworks. I have only attempted this once before a few years ago without a tripod and remote trigger, I was not happy with the results.  

When researching local firework displays I soon found a free event hosted by Norwich City Council based around the impressive landmark of Norwich Castle.

Most of the good viewing angles around the Castle were closed off, I assume due to safety issue as it would be directly below the display with debris falling down.

The picture I had in my mind was to have the Castle in the centre of the frame with fireworks going off above it. Exploring the many multi story car parks roofs did not offer a suitable angle and the view from city hall was too crowded with the marketplace blocking a clear view.  I think the best place would be a church tower or the balcony at city hall, both would be inaccessible to the public. 

Using the Castle as the main subject of the picture would be interesting than having just pictures of fireworks which would be boring. 

Having high expectations set me up to be disappointed and not to enjoy the event. On the upside I saw the city at night while scouting and found a few possible places where night photography would be interesting. Came away with snapshots of the display at the wrong angle and a short unplanned video. Maybe I should make friends with the staff in City Hall for next year and get a better view from their offices if I intend to go again next year.