Macro Weekend

This last weekend I went out hoping to photograph Swallowtail butterflies which are rare and only appear on the Norfolk Broads. Getting up at 5am to travel to RSPB Strumpshaw Fen just outside of Norwich teamed up with someone from the camera club we spent a few hours walking around the reserve while visiting the various bird hides. I tried out his Sigma 150-500mm super zoom on my Nikon D7100 for a short while capturing a few birds but nothing too interesting or of good quality, not too sure I have the patience to sit around for hours with the keen bird watchers.

Not having any luck seeing swallowtails which we put down to the wind we made our way back to the car, we soon saw a row of wild flowers growing along a hedgerow which were full of Damselflies.

I shall be visiting Ranworth or Hickling Broad in the next few weeks in the hope the Swallowtails will be showing themselves for me to photograph.

How Hill Wherrys

This Sunday I went along to a meetup organised with a photographic themed Facebook Group dedicated to posting images taken in the county of Norfolk. Initially I initially joined this group for inspiration for my own photography which does help. However attending past meetups I have started to know a few people which only strengthens the desire to attend these which are now becoming more frequent. 

Being at a loose end I decided to attend the organised trip to How Hill which I have been to only by boat while on family boating holidays along the Norfolk Broads. The weather forecast looked a bit grim and I hoped the rain would be intermittent which is what thankfully happened, at least till mid afternoon while we were inside having lunch in Horning. 

The main event at How Hill were three restored Wherry's offering short trips up the River Ant. Wherry's are old pleasure sail craft built around 1900. The group of around 10 people went on the hour and half trip all armed with our cameras varying from mobile phones to professional  Nikon D800 and everything in between including my Fuji X-E1 and Nikon D7100. 

While my Fuji has superior image quality compared to what Nikon equipment I currently own it isn't weather sealed which is where my Nikon D7100 came in handy as it was a wet day. While we were on the boat traveling down the River Ant it was dry enough to use the Fuji so I was using that most of the day. 

For £12 I tagged along with the group for a short boat ride down the River Ant. Initially I wasn't going to go along as I wasn't too keen on spending any money and as I go on holiday here and I will be again in a few week time and it isn't really a novelty. Not wanting to be left behind on my own I went along on Wherry Norada which has plenty of character and being with a friendly group made it worthwhile.

Travelling up the River Ant is always a pleasure with the beautiful scenery of the Norfolk Broads and the stormy sky only added to the experience and added drama to my images. 

My approach to camera settings were to make sure the sky was exposed correctly which when reviewing images on the camera showed everything else as being dark. Because I take all my images in RAW mode and using Lightroom 6 I knew the information would be in the file to create a correctly exposed final picture by altering the highlights, shadows, blacks and whites. Even then I used the graduated filter in Lightroom to darken the sky by -1 stop and using the new Lightroom 6 improvements to alter its effects.

I shall include a couple of favorite YouTube tutorials on these methods I used below. The first video is a general tutorial on how to process images using Lightroom 4 which is still the same for Lightroom 6 and the second video is on how the new updated tool improve the editing process. 

My Week Off

My photographic activities for last week were based around a self imposed theme of sunsets, the idea was leave in the afternoons to capture sunsets and then the night sky.

This time of year the sky doesn't get completely dark till around midnight and after all the walking to locations I weren't in the mood to wait around too long and I try and avoid driving when tired.  

With Norfolk i'm spoilt for choice when it comes to locations with the Norfolk Broads and the North Norfolk Coast providing ideal scenery which I were rewarded with the effort in traveling to Berney Arms and Burnham Overy Staithe.

The online shop is now open for business which is still being improved and I intend to expand my product range to blank greeting cards once I have a sourced the materials I require to create a high quality product.

My next holiday won't be till the end of July for a week on the Norfolk Broads with family. In a couple of weeks butterflies should be in big supply to photography which I am looking forward to, Swallowtails in particular which only appear on the Norfolk Broads. 




Berney Arms Windmill

Not being at work this week allows me to travel and living in Norfolk there are plenty of places I have yet to visit. Berney Arms windmill has been one of them since seeing pictures of these on facebook by other photographers.

Reaching this windmill isn't the easiest or quickest of places to get to,  Parking at Wickhampton: St Andrew Church NR13 3PD and following the paths down to the river which is quite a distance and I am unsure if all of these paths are public access. I believe you can walk from Great Yarmouth or Reedham. The easiest way would be to travel by boat.

The forecast for this week is to be unsettled which potentially creates interesting skies for landscape photography if you don't mind the risk of getting wet. When I have weeks off I try and make my photography interesting by having a focus with long exposures being the last theme and sunset & night time this time round. Leaving later in the day paid off as I had a great time seeing the sunset over the River Yare and the clouds soaking up the colour of the sun as it disappeared.

Rest of the week is going to be spent setting up my online shop using ESTY as the platform to sell my images which I aim to have ready for Friday this week.

The Four Day Holiday

I had four days of holiday entitlement to take before April, It was slightly annoying having go into work for just the one day.

Like with all my holidays I spend the time exploring the countryside looking photographic opportunities. With it still being February the nature reserves are still barren and uninteresting. 

With nature photography not being an option (Snowdrops being an exception) I focused my efforts around the North Norfolk Coastline and Norfolk Broads.

When planning my trips out I try and find a number of locations nearby, for example on Tuesday which was my first day off, the first place was Thurne Windpump, then onto Horsey which was 8 miles from Thurne and then onto East Somerton that was 2.5 miles from Horsey which in themselves won't keep me busy for a whole day. is a great website to find photo locations.

Wednesday I visited Cromer then went onto Sheringham, Thursday Kings Lynn with a couple of photographic friends. Friday Brancaster and then Brancaster Staithe. 

Since I solved my purple fringing issue when taking long exposures I wanted to focus on that type of photography. Long exposures are good with moving objects like skies and water to smooth them out and it creates a moody feel to images.

Thurne is one of the most photographed windmills in Norfolk as it is easily accessible and in good repair. Horsey Windpump which is owned and maintained by the National Trust is currently being repaired due to the recent storms damaging the sails and they are also refurbishing the facilities. This visit was to see the other mill nearby called Brograve Mill which is accessible by the footpath at Horsey where there is plenty parking available. 

East Somerton has remains of a church was I thought would be interesting to see and I was not disappointed with the brick work covered in vines and a tree growing in the middle of the structure. An added bonus was Snowdrops which I also wanted to photograph this year. 

Cromer Pier has been on my mental list for sometime now and is ideal for long exposure photography. What I wasn't expecting was the amount of repair work that is ongoing on the sea defenses and the pier itself with the beach around the pier is closed off to the public which is unfortunate as I would have liked to take an image from the beach level, maybe in a year once the works have been completed.

An old street in Kings Lynn

I lived in Sheringham for about 5 years, unfortunately my parents restaurant business closed at the start of the recession and the building appears to be still empty. This was the first time I have returned, other than the new Tesco and Sainsburys in the old Woolworths not a lot has changed. 

Despite living in Norfolk since 2000 I cannot remember exploring Kings Lynn, reading up the towns history on Wikipedia is quite interesting, used to be called Bishops Lynn. There are a few old buildings and streets about worth looking at.

I have been to Brancaster Staithe before, very photographic with the fishing industry. Brancaster beach further along is very flat and open but lacks any interest, no boats or sea defenses. It wasn't long till I moved onto Brancaster Staithe.

My next week off isn't till the 3rd for 4th week in March, more research is required to see what else is interesting to see in Norfolk and possibly Suffolk. There are a few more windpumps that require a long walk to view them.