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Sea Of Yellow

While commuting too and from work its hard not to notice the amount of rapeseed being grown which creates striking blocks of yellow which to my photographers eye is very appealing. 

Going down side roads can be tricky as they are often wide enough for only one vehicle to travel down and once the fields started turning yellow I consulted Google Maps to get an idea of the small interconnecting roads and I have never been down these roads. 

Playing around with different techniques can be interesting and effective such as creating panoramas and using different lenses for closeups and wide angles to capture the sea of yellow against the sky.

I believe experimenting is a good way to get a great and unexpected results with photography and revisiting the same location lots of times over a days, weeks, months and even years and at different times to really capture something great.  

Top 22 Of 2015 Photos Part 2

Continuing from part 1 of my 2015 collection where I show 22 of my favorite images taken in 2015.

Image 12

I had recently purchased a second hand Samyang 12mm f2.0 to fit my Fuji X-E1 which at £140 which was a bargain that I intended to use for my increasing interest in astrophotography.

This new lens has opened up a new genre of photography and the images that I have been able to capture with it have been very pleasing to say the least and has become my lens of choice for normal daytime photography. Being a 67mm threaded lens my 10 stop filter also fits which is a real bonus. 

The the Milky Way can clearly be seen behind the beach huts in Wells in this image and I just love it. 

Image 13

This year I have changed my job and now based in Norwich which has given me access new places to explore easily before, lunch break and after work. St James Hill near the prison is in easy walking distance to the office and I have visited this spot on countless occasions and offer views over the entire city. Although the walk up the very steep hill always reminds me on how unfit I am.

The spot is great to see the sunset and I have included a few images in my 2015 collection from this spot. As with most of my landscape images I try and use HDR to achieve a good exposure which I have used in this image. 

Image 14

Another image taken from St James Hill in Norwich on a different day to image 13.

The man sitting on the Memorial makes the image. 

Image 15

Taken at Winterton-on-Sea not far from Great Yarmouth. I decided to travel to the coast after work one evening in October. 

Typically when I go and photograph the night sky or sunsets and sunrises I like to have been there before in daylight just so I know the area. Currently this has been the one and only time I have visited Winterton.

The Milky Way can be seen dropping down behind these sheds and the bright small cluster M31 Andromeda Galaxy can be seen in the top right, or so I have been told.

Image 16

Taken at Thompson Water a nature reserve nearby that I decided to visit very early on an October Sunday morning for a sunrise.

As I have recently discovered, the real interesting stuff happens long before the sun is actually visible. Now when planning a sunrise I need to be at the location ideally at least an hour before the sun comes up. While driving to this location the sky was even more dramatic but I am still happy with what I have captured. 

Image 17 

One of the more modern building in Norwich and next to one of the oldest.

I got into the city a little earlier than normal to see what I can capture as the sun rises. Taken with the Samyang 12mm f2.0 lens using the 10 Stop filter to capture the movement in the clouds and smooth out the water enhancing the reflections.

Image 18

With the clocks going back the when I leave the office it's now dark, while capturing sunsets is no longer convenient I alter my photography to the conditions that are presented to me. 

Taken in Norwich in late October I was walking along the river towards the Riverside Leisure Park and captured this iconic and well photographed location. As this is a long exposure the water has become smooth enhancing the reflection of this medieval building. 

Image 19

After photographing the fireworks display organised by the council with a fellow photographer we walked past a queue for fish and chips on a slow walk back to the car.

After some trial and error I settled on this angle while using HDR to capture the colour inside the buildings and in the wet cobble pavement.

That fish and chip shop has now become one of my favorite places to get lunch. It can be quite busy and I often have to go elsewhere as I have little time to wait due to the time it takes to walk there. 

Image 20 

This November trip into London was with the camera club which means I wasn't worried about wasting their time as they were also taking images. 

Like with most of my images its usually the case of being in the right place at the right time as you never know what the conditions will be. When we first arrived it was raining very heavily and ending up with this sunset was unexpected. I was using a 10 stop filter on 12mm lense to create the dramatic sky along with the reflections. 

Image 21

With the nights getting longer taking images of the stars is becoming easier, this image was taken at around 9pm which is much better than midnight compared to the images taken at Wells.

Taken at Little Cressingham which is just down the road from Watton I wanted to see if I could do anything with this building and this ruined roof worked really well. In this situation I wish I had the newer cameras that you can control with a smartphone as I had to lay on my back on gravel to see what I was doing. At Least I was sheltered from the wind and it was surprisingly fairly comfortable laying down.

Image 22

Last image making my 2015 collection was taken on Christmas Eve. Finishing work earlier than normal allowed me to capture a sunset which I have not been able to do in a few months. Again this is looking over Norwich from St James Hill.

Due to a quick drink with colleagues I arrived just as the sun went under the horizon. I just love the color in the horizon and then the rain to the right which is very different to what I have seen before from this same location that I keep visiting. I did capture a set of images to make into a HDR image but I think the silhouette if the city skyline is much better.

 

If you have made it this far then thank you for taking the time to view my work. What I love about photography is that I get to see these beautiful scenes and places that I would otherwise have no idea about and being able to share these makes it all the more worthwhile.

Tools I use

BBC Weather https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=bbc.mobile.weather&hl=en

AccuWeather https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.accuweather.android&hl=en

Blitzortung Lightning Monitor https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.blitzortung.android.app&hl=en

The Photo Ephemeris (Phone - Paid) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.crookneckconsulting.tpeandroid&hl=en

The Photo Ephemeris (Desktop - Free) http://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=52.629152,1.294935&center=52.6899,1.3622&dt=20151226082600%2B0000&z=10&spn=0.40,1.85

 

Top 22 of 2015 Photos Part 1

It's been awhile since I written a blog update. Since I started working in Norwich my available free time has been reduced. 

Christmas is a good time to sit back and relax while reflecting on the events of the previous months and plan ahead for the coming year. 

Over the next week I intend to catch up on my blog posts and to share my thoughts on what I have been working on and to figure out what I would like to achieve in 2016.

I intended to select my 10 best images from 2015 on this post but having gone through my library I cannot choose which ones to leave out to make a collection of 10 so I decided to made it 22. 

Image 1

Starting from the beginning of the year my first image in this collection was taken in Well along the North Norfolk Coast taken on a week's vacation in March.

Wells is one of my favorite locations in Norfolk to visit as you will get to see. Other than fish and chips being a secondary interest the mile long walk to the beach has boats along the channel from the sea leading into the harbour. Once you get to the beach there is a row of beach huts which you will see later on. 

I do like creating square images as it does often suit the situation where the standard 3:2 ratio doesn't work so well, however photo mounts and frames are uncommon so I haven't yet had any printed. I would presume this is where a Canvas or Metal print would be useful although much more expensive. 

What makes the image for me is the birds in flight on either side of the sales balancing out the otherwise empty space. 

Image 2

I could easily post 22 image of just London, there are so many photographic opportunities and I would love to spend a week just exploring the UK's capital city than the usual day trip.

When I visit London walking along the River Thames has to be a priority with the wealth of architecture and views that really come to life when the daylight starts to fade away and all the colours in the buildings show off.

This picture was taken on a family outing on a cold April evening which made me a little guilty as I tend to stop every few metres while the waiting non photographers with me are standings around freezing. 

Image 3 

The Berney Arms is only a handful of fully restored Windpumps on the Norfolk Broads with Thurne and possibly Horsey (Currently under repair with its sails taken down), are the only three that I have visited. Berney Arms has been the most difficult to access being only accessible by a long walk or boat.

There is a small train station but only stops a couple of times a day. This windpump is close to Great Yarmouth and I believe a popular way is to park up in the seaside town, get the train and then walk back to the car along the river.     

This was taken during another weeks vacation in May where the weather was very varied and got caught in a rain shower while walking to this location.

What's special about this image is primarily the interest in this historic building which has been preserved brilliantly and also the lighting which is shining onto the front with the lines in the grass leading up to the windpump. 

Image 4 

This picture was taken just after Berney Arms, image number 3. 

I used the technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) taking 3 or 5 images at different settings to capture the colour in the sky as well as the foreground as just the one image would not capture the entire scene like this. 

In this image its the shades of orange on the sky that really attracts me to this view and secondary is the wildflowers in the foreground and then the River Yare in the distance on the left. 

Image 5

This image was taken in the Norfolk village of Caston near Watton where I live on a camera club training evening in May.

A few of us captured the same scene getting similar results which shows off this very special sunset. While I tried taking this scene as an HDR image it works better as a silhouette as the shape is far more interesting than the colour and detail in this boring barren farming field.

Image 6

I missed out on a lightning storm a a couple of weeks prior to this one. During the summer months I now keep an eye on two different weather apps, "BBC Weather" and "AccuWeather" as they both show slightly different data.

Soon as I see the possibility of a thunderstorm I keep a good eye on the app called "Blitzortung Lightning Monitor" that tracks thunderstorms. Knowing my local area was another important factor in capturing this image as this spot is from a layby off a major route into my hometown of Watton that I pass regularly. 

My approach was to set my focus to infinity and then set the exposure manually to 30 seconds and set the self timer to avoid any camera shake and then wait and see if anything happens. Luckily I was rewarded with this image where I could have easily come away with nothing and if I had to pick just one image for 2015 this could be it.

Image 7

For the last few years I have been on a boating holiday with family on the Norfolk Broads at the end of July. This year has been colder and the weather has been varied with more rain which for photography has been very interesting as stormy conditions has the potential to create stunning scenery to capture and I really enjoyed my week off with observing beautiful sunrises and sunsets and on one evening a rainbow in Potter Heigham.

This was a sunrise and at this time of year I got up really early. Using the phone app "The Photo Ephemeris" also available in a normal web browser. I will link all tools used at the end of part 2. 

Using the app the previous evening I scouted nearby spots where I could possibly capture a sunrise.

I was under a bridge where an old barge was moored up. Climbing onto this rusted platform that was potentially dangerous it gave me a better view being more in the centre of the river and what a view this was making the early rise worth it. 

Image 8

This is the Windpump Thurne on the Norfolk Broads. I have been here a couple of times before by road but this image was taken on a boat passing by on my annual boating holiday with family. 

I did nothing too special with this picture. As the boat was moving at a good speed using HDR wasn't going to work as you really need to be stationary to take a series of images. I just took a number of images as the boat passed by and used the best one. 

Image 9

A local farmer invited me to come along while his team was harvesting, I believe this was a field of oats. Again this year has not really been completely sunny and more like stormy which for me is great the skies have been fantastic and dramatic.

I just love how the damp conditions enhance the colours. As the combine are slow machines I used HDR to try and get a good exposure from the lightest parts of the clouds to the darkest part on the base of the crops. 

Image 10

This is another image taken at Well and not the last in this 2015 collection. Taken on the 12 August the peak of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, being a moonless night it was to be a better show than normal. 

The idea was to travel to Well in good time to capture a sunset to make my trip worth it incase I saw nothing of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The image of the Meteor didnt make my collection but can be seen at https://flic.kr/p/x1PB5h. I use HDR to make sure I captured enough detail in the sky and the beach huts. 

Image 11

I had recently purchased a Hoya 52mm infrared filter to try this type of photography as I do like black and white photography and I have been admiring the different effect I have been seeing on other photographers images. 

Taken in Norwich on 12th August I spent a few hours walking around before meeting up with a friend later on just using this filter. Because using an infrared filter reduces the light it acts as a neutral density filter where a longer shutter speed is required which smooths out water and clouds that enhances reflections in the river .

 

Continue To Part 2

   

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.  

Attempting Timelapse Photography

Timelapse photography is a type of photography that I have tried a little in the past but with my new obsession with night photography the same skills and techniques can be used to create a timelapse video  and has given me a renewed interest in trying timelapse photography again.

The biggest issue for me in making a timelapse video is the amount of time required in creating one. The standard frames per second on TV in the UK is 24, to have a 10 second timelapse video I would need 240 images which doesn't sound like many.

My images of the night sky like in the timelapse video at the top taken at Wells Next The Sea are 25 seconds each plus a delay meaning I am taking two pictures a minute or 2 hours for a 10 second video.

Being fairly impatient standing around for 2 hours on my own doing nothing is quite difficult. The finished timelapse is only 6 seconds due to the sea starting to come in and also the clouds bringing the timelapse to a shorter end than I would like. 

To capture the timelapse I set the camera in full manual mode attached to a tripod and tweaking the exposure and frame before setting the inverlomitor to automatically take the sequence of images and then the hard part of waiting and not touching the camera as any movement between images can ruin the final video. 

Shooting in RAW mode I processed the images as normal, Lightroom makes this easy by allowing me to edit one image and then syncing the edit to the other images before using the additional free plugin to create the timelapse video which can take awhile for the computer to render, easily an hour or more depending on the length of the timelapse. 

Follow this link for the Lightroom download and install and usage instructions http://lrbplugins.com/shop/presets/lrb-timelapse-presetstemplates/

This timelapse taken in Hunstanton only took about 20 minutes to capture, the battery running out cut this one short. 

Perseids Meteor Shower

Over the last few weeks with the nights starting to get longer I am now trying to take pictures at night with the aim of photographing the night sky. On August the 12th saw the Annual Perseids Meteor Shower reach its peak. Being a Wednesday I wouldnt normally travel so far as Wells Next The Sea with being at work the next day. I eventually got home around 1.30am with my alarm set for the usual time of 6am making my purchase of Redbull energy drink essential, surprisingly I was fine till about lunchtime. 

The weather forecast kept changing throughout the week and I wasn't hopeful the sky was going to be visible to see the meteors through the clouds, I only decided to go at the last minute. Leaving early enough I had time to scout the area I intended to set up in daylight and to photograph the sunset on the same trip to make it worthwhile incase the sky was too cloudy for the meteor shower. Clouds may not be good for taking images of the night sky but I think they are essential to good sunset images as you capture different colours in the clouds. 

Can I call this a selfie?

I selected Wells because I thought the beach huts would add interest to a potential image other than the night sky which I think can be boring on its own. Also I like the fish and chips there and not having eaten anything before I left home I simply was determined to have a big tray of chips which made Wells the ideal place to go. I could have easily gone to Brancaster or Burnham Staithe further along as alternative locations.

Soon as I arrived at the beach my mind was focused on foreseeing potential images with a sunset using the beach huts as a primary point of interest. Using my Nikon D7100 and the 35mm 1.8 lens on a tripod I set the camera on self timer mode with the bracketing set to 5 images at +/- 2 stops, to later merge into a HDR image to ensure I create an image with good exposure and detail which works well with the top image.

With the self timer on the camera will automatically take 5 images in quick succession which makes HDR easy, more so with Lightroom 6.  The picture at the top of this article would be impossible with a single picture, not without loosing quality in the beach huts as they would be in silhouette as you would need to expose for the sun which is far brighter than the beach.  

Wells Next The Sea Town

After the sun had set I walked back to the high street to get my chips while the sky turns to darkness. Once I return to the beach and pointing the camera towards the town as I was advised the best place to look was north east. Using an intervalometer which arrived only a couple days prior I was all set. I was convinced the bright and frequent meteors were going across the sky everywhere but where the camera was pointing. Only once I reviewed the images the next day and altered the exposure I noticed a couple of images had captured a meteor or two.

Created from 2 images to get three meteors

On the initial image I used a torch to illuminate the beach huts, with the involomitor automatically triggering the camera every 18 seconds I just watched the show with my own eyes. Being on the beach at 11pm was very peaceful and stress free. 

The sunset alone was worth the trip out to Wells after work and watching the Perseids Meteor Shower only made it better. One of the main reasons why I love photography is because I would never have an interest in events such as the Meteor shower or exploring the countryside. 

I entered the beach huts sunset into #wexmondys on Twitter and was lucky to get second place on this weekly competition which is a good personal achievement. Been trying for months but the standard of images entered on a weekly basis is very high.

Cant wait till next year to try again !

Wex Entry: Damselflies

This weeks #WexMondays competition was take in a nearby nature reserve of Thompson Common which is owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. I like this reserve mainly for fungi in the Autumn and bugs and insects at this time of year. 

I wanted to see some bigger dragonflies as I have already seen and photographed some Damselflies on the previous day at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen. However all I saw were Damselflies on the way back to the car and the odd butterfly which I were expecting to see more of.

The main thing I learned from this photoshoot is that it pays to be patient. It was only after I stood still for awhile till they started to land on the leaves to make it possible to photograph these tiny insects, and on occasions I got very close with the sigma 105mm about 15cm away from them

My technique was to set the camera at around F/16 and shutter speed at least at 1/250 seconds and manual focus with the ISO to create a good exposure being around 800. The idea was to make very slight adjustments to my body position forwards and backwards to achieve an image where I had the correct focus. With the camera set to high speed shooting I could easily take 10 images with the hope one of those would be useful, all taken in RAW mode.

Stay tuned for a video on my editing process from this trip.

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.

Sunset At Burnham Overy Staithe

Fuji X-E1 35mm 1.4 with +/- 1 Stop 3 bracketed images. ISO 200 F/16 1/60 Sec 

This image was taken at Burnham Overy Staithe along the North Norfolk Coast on Wednesday 20th May 2015 during a week off work. Typically I focus on a theme for my photography and this time I wanted to focus on sunsets and the night sky and possibly capturing an aurora if there was an opportunity to do so.

Because the sunsets quite late this time of year around 9pm the sky does not get completely dark till midnight which for me it too late especially when I have an hours drive home and ended up just capturing a couple of sunsets during the week.

Keeping an eye on the weather forecast over the week I was looking for sunny spells conditions to see if there were an opportunity of the sun setting and clouds to create an interesting sky with the sun changing the colour of the clouds and possibly breaking through them. Weather that week was perfect for photography with storms creating interesting skies. 

My reasons for choosing this location was for a few reasons. Firstly I had not visited this part of the Norfolk Coastline before so was somewhere new to explore. Secondly it was recommended for night photography. Thirdly I wanted to visit the coast at least once on my week off.

Taken With Nikon D7100 with +/- 2 Stops 5 Images using 35mm 1.8G ISO 100 F/16 1/25 Sec 

Being warned not to park on the dirt/sandy flat further into the quayside as it floods at high tide I parked on the embankment just off the roadside. When visiting coastal areas I typically wear wellies but mine turned out to be useless with one of them being split which meant I had to be more careful to avoiding ending up with wet feet. 

I soon started to walk along the coastal path which I assumes leads to the beach. While walking along I am constantly looking all around to find potential images such as boats and the general shapes and curves of the landscape and taking test shots to see what is possible. At this point the tide was out and all the boats were sitting on the sand, not researching the tide times I had no idea on what the conditions will be once the sun would start to set. 

One thing I have learned in photography is that once you have found something of interest it's best to stay in one spot. Sunrise and sunset is so short you have very little time to set up to be ready for the show which is why I arrived early. It is better to come away with one good image than nothing because you were rushing around.

While waiting for the sun to set I was previewing different angles along the bank of the waterway,moving in either direction avoiding any obstructions such as bushes and signs. In this case there was another smaller craft to the left which I wanted left out of the picture as their is a photographic tip of having "odds". When capturing flowers for example you want 1,3,5 flower heads, it's just one of the many photographic "rules".

Once I had framed the image in the viewfinder I locked down the camera in that position with a tripod to avoid taking a blurry image due to the camera moving. To ensure there was going to be enough information I decided to bracket the images to combine into an HDR file using Lightroom 6 which I will include a YouTube tutorial below. I find using HDR is very useful to landscape images by capturing detail in the sky and the ground. 

Using both a Nikon D7100 and Fuji X-E1 to compare the bracketing features and to see if I could live with just the Fuji to benefit from the lighter weight. The Nikon has much better bracketing features with taking upto 5 images with +/- 2 stops or 3 images with +/- 3 stops in quick succession with the camera in timer mode.

The Fuji can only take 3 images +/- 1 stop which for me limits its use for HDR, however the 35mm lens for the Fuji is the best lens I own over the Nikon and Fuji so I try and use that where I can. Taking bracketed images with the Fuji is certainly possible and I use it all the time but I cannot see why Fuji is less advanced, maybe the newer Fuji cameras are better? 

Using Lightroom 6 I merged the files using the new inbuilt HDR feature which now avoids the interaction with Photoshop which is handy. Using a similar method to the below YouTube tutorial I eventually achieved these results which I think produced interesting images that I am happy with making my trip out worthwhile.

The top image was entered into the Wex Photographic weekly competition held on Twitter by Tweeting an image taken the previous week to #WexMondays which I occasionally participate in with the hope I could win a voucher, most of their entries by other photographers are simply stunning and I have little chance. If anything I enter images to help increase my twitter following and drive traffic to this blog to help promote my work. Wex have requested I write up my experience in taking this image by explaining my process and giving it difficulty rating out of 10. 

Fuji X-E1 35mm 1.4 ISO 200 F/5.6 1/240 Sec, a Single image not HDR to capture the person.

Asking myself on how difficult it was to capture this image and give out difficulty rating seems to be a simple request but It's actually quite difficult. I went out knowing on what I wanted to achieve. I know what combination of setting are needed to capture this type of image and I know the camera's limitations and why an HDR is useful in this situation. After some thought I will rate this picture with a difficulty rating of 6/10 and here is a simple checklist for taking sunset images and landscape images in general.

  1. Get there early and find something of interest to include with the sky. It can be a boat, tree or a building for example.
  2. Use a tripod to stabilize the camera as hand holding the camera will make the image blurry, or a flat surface such as a wall and trigger the camera with trigger release or self timer mode.
  3. Take test shots before the sunset to see if you're happy with the general framing and dont forget to look around the edges of the viewfinder for any unwanted branches that you don't immediately notice.
  4. HDR is not always required, a silhouette image is just as effective.
  5. Try manual mode, remember to use your lowest ISO and around F/16 then change the shutter speed to get the sky correctly exposed as auto modes will probably get it wrong.
  6. Take images in RAW mode, this is very important to capture enough information for post processing later.
  7. Practice, taking good images takes time and experience which can only improve by getting out there and taking pictures.
  8. YouTube is a great resource with tutorials on camera settings, technique and image editing to learn from.   

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.


EDP May Magazine Publication

Seeing my images in publications is still a novelty and gives me a sense of achievement. Taken last year in Wayland Wood is just outside of Watton which is where I live and naturally is one of my most visited locations simply because I can walk to it.

In 2014 I made the effort to explore Wayland Wood to capture the Bluebells on a number of occasions as they progress throughout the season visiting at different times of the day. Going into woodland at the beginning or end of the day when the sun is at a low angle will produce images with interesting side light and shadows from trees which adds depth to images, the image used was taken around 8am. 

Because cameras do not currently capture what they human eye sees I use a technique called HDR or High Dynamic Range to capture enough detail to create a picture I would be happy with. Most of my landscape images are taken using the HDR technique, watch this YouTube video for HDR is action. 

 

Bluebells are now coming to an end for the 2015 showing and I shall be moving onto butterflies in the coming weeks building on last years experience, hopefully my newly acquired 80-200 lens will do a better job. Next year will be a challenge as I need to try something new with bluebells to avoid taking the same image over and over.

 

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. 

The Yellow Star of Bethlehem

During the last week I have been spending time in Wayland Wood as it has started to wake up from winter. 

I have been focusing too much on bluebells which isn't a bad thing but it would be too easy to miss other beautiful flowers that are currently in bloom such as The Yellow Star of Bethlehem which was pointed being a rare plant and only appears in a small number of locations in the UK and Wayland Wood is one of those places.

Macro photography to me is very rewarding as I find a sense of achievement when I can capture something beautiful that you would otherwise not even notice.

Using a Nikon D7100 with a Sigma 105mm lens I was sitting down on a bin bag and using a tripod to get a rough position. With the wind and the size of the flower being not much bigger than a 5p coin taking a picture that was usable was very difficult. I carry a small water bottle to create water droplets on flowers to create a more interesting picture.

I often see small insects around flowers which I find fascinating and fun to watch and getting any detail from them is even more of a challenge.

As spring is well on its way im sure many more will popup on here, so please visit often to see the results.


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. http://www.shothotspot.com/ 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. 

2014 Highlights

2014 has been a busy year for me, I try to go out most weekends, usually to nature reserves around Norfolk. Simply because they are easy to travel to and there is plenty within a 30 minute drive. 

This year I have been using social media more and sharing my work in an attempt to promote my work. I'm currently still working on increasing my following on Twitter and Facebook not an easy task.

One way which is having an effect is sharing my work with the organisations that own and manage the places that I visit. In the case of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (@SupportNWT) they used one of my images taken in Wayland Wood for their nature reserve handbook and more of my images have been printed in their "Tern" a newspaper sent out to the members a few time a year.

What I find interesting is how people see my images differently to how I see them. Some people say they have a mood, story to them or a feeling. I am not an emotional person and I don't connect on that level. Most of the time I just see the technical aspect to an image. I can easily dismiss an image because of a flaw that no one else would even think to look for. Maybe I am too critical of my images. 

The above gallery are images that I consider to be my best images taken during 2014, Tried to keep it to a few but I do like quite a few of them and could have easily included more.

2015 ... What do I want to achieve this year? I think building on 2014 would be a good start by exploring other nature reserves that I have yet to visit. The only downside is that it would require more travel which is why I have yet to visit these or only been to once such as Foxley Wood and Lower Wood Ashwellthorpe.  

Portraiture is an area that I would like to build on, what has been limiting me on this type of photography is not knowing enough people or more to the point, not having to confidence to ask for their time to build up my skill in taking portraits. Building up my social skills is the biggest challenge and character flaw to overcome.

Since joining the Facebook group Norfolk Countryside Photos a few locations in Norfolk are quite popular like Cromer Pier and Thurne where their is a windmill that I will visit this year along with exploring more of the Norfolk Broads.

With my acquisition of the Fuji X-E1 street photography and general urban exploring is more attractive with the smaller and lighter camera that makes it easier to be more mobile and less obvious. 

Currently my photography is just an activity that I enjoy doing that does not provide an income stream, This year I intend to put myself into a position where I can sell my work, not sure how I will achieve this goal.

Happy New Year !

December Overview

December has been a relatively quiet on the photographic front due to family events and work has limited my time to go out exploring. 

Visited Norwich to see the xmas lights and then to Blakeney to see the seals, both with the camera club. It was the first time I had seen the seals, well worth the long and tiring walk along Cley beach. Walking in sand turned out to be difficult and I had underestimated on how much equipment I was carrying and really felt the unnecessary weight.

Now that Christmas is over and soon new year I can think ahead into what I want to achieve in 2015. Now I own a Zoom H1 audio recorder I can record decent audio, video blogs may soon start to appear.

Happy new year !