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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

   

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.