Dave Fieldhouse Photography: Blog http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog en-us (C) Dave Fieldhouse Photography davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:54:00 GMT Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:54:00 GMT http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/img/s/v-5/u786661780-o1030235067-50.jpg Dave Fieldhouse Photography: Blog http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog 80 120 Street Spirit (a month to try something new) http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2017/6/street-spirit-a-month-to-try-something-new The summer months are notoriously difficult for landscape photographers. The sunrise and sunset times are both at anti-social hours, and once the Sun has risen it generally creates light too harsh for pleasing images. For these reasons May, June and July tend to be barren months for me. I tend to get grumpy and frustrated and the camera gathers dust. This year I decided to try something different...

I have only ever taken photographs of landscapes (aside from the odd dog portrait), shying away from people, plants, cars, architecture, abstracts and definitely weddings. When I bought the Fuji cameras I joined a couple of Fuji groups on social media pages which were not genre specific and I started to get interested in Street Photography.

What is Street Photography?

"Street photography, also sometimes called candid photography, is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents[1] within public places. Although there is a difference between street and candid photography it is usually subtle with most street photography being candid in nature but not all candid photography being classifiable as street photography. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic" On the 21st May I decided I would try this type of photography for one month, try to amass a dozen usable images and write a blog of my experiences. I set myself some ground rules. 1) I wouldn't take any images featuring people I knew. 2) I would not take photographs of homeless people (a staple subject for some) 3) I would stick to a fixed focal length, in this case 35mm, and 4) I wouldn't just shoot in black and white.

At A Safe Distance

The thought of taking photographs of people has always filled me with dread (I don't know anyone who is happy with how they look in a picture), so the idea of taking them of strangers was just off the scale. To start with most of the images I took were from a distance, where the subject of the image most likely didn't even know I was there. At this point I didn't know how people would feel about some guy snapping away at them and had a little fear of any confrontation this may create. At least from my vantage point I knew I had a head start (This fear turned out to be totally unnecessary).

Although these images could generally be considered safe, I enjoyed the processing and the final image, and fairly quickly I started to look around for more quirky compositions. The majority of my business week takes place in Birmingham, a city with bags of potential for this style of image, so I found myself taking my camera with me and looking for opportunities on my way to meetings or at lunchtime.

Black and White, or Colour?

When I started to investigate the genre it was instantly obvious that most street photography was black and white. I can understand this to a certain extent, but I don't buy into it completely. I decided to set my camera to shoot mono Jpeg images, but also capture a RAW file so that I had the option to process in colour if I thought it would suit better. Shooting in mono helped me to identify scenes with good tonal range quickly. Unlike shooting landscapes, you don't have time to wait for the light, you generally have to use the light your given and make the most of it.

In my mind the image above was perfect for mono. The preview on the LCD on the back of the camera was in black and white and I thought it looked perfect. Once I had processed the file I realised it worked in both Colour and Black and White. The scene wasn't set or staged, although I don't think I could have directed it any better if I'd tried. I only managed the one frame before the guy in the blue shirt vanished.

Movement

Capturing movement in a static image is something I don't get to do that often with Landscapes. If anything I remove the element from my images, especially at the coast when I used a ND Filter to slow the shutter speed and smooth out the water in the ocean. I didn't use a Tripod for this project (Tripods are impractical in this situation and attract attention) so finding the best shutter speed to capture the motion YET shooting fast enough to keep some of the image sharp took several attempts (more than several actually) to get right.

Abstracts

Modern architecture provides multiple options for a photographer, when were prepared to open our eyes. On a visit to a clients offices towards the start of the project I noticed this balcony view, extending 6 stories up. It's a building I have worked in and on for over ten years yet never looked at it in this way. I ended up shooting it from all levels. It lead to an interesting conversation with the buildings estate manager, who it turned out was a photographer himself. The scene worked in both colour, mono and split toned. Not a comfortable shot for a vertigo sufferer, but eye-catching images nonetheless.

Buildings as Art?

I have always had a casual interest in architecture, I even considered doing a degree in it when I left school. Eventually I ended up working in an industry associated with construction, and have done so for over 20 years. I have witnessed a transformation of Birmingham during this time. I don't necessarily like all of the new buildings, but on the whole it looks a lot better now to what it used to (some of the regeneration planned for the next 10 years looks even better). The same applies to many other cities around the UK. Completely new shiny buildings rising up in place of ugly, concrete boxes from the 60's, or the renovation of older buildings, from a time when even a warehouse was designed to look beautiful. 

Some buildings simply provide the canvas for an artist. Certain parts of many UK cities actively encourage graffiti in their cultural and creative quarters. The street artist Banksy has helped to popularise the talent of the Graffiti artist and whilst theres very little creativity involved in taking a photograph of a painting by another person, it does help to document an area/time. I couldn't resist photographing this Huge Fish that adorns a wall of a fairly nondescript car park in the city centre. The artist is Louis Masai who takes all the credit for this. If this is your kind of thing, I strongly suggest you search him out on google....you're in for a treat.

Reflections

With all the shiny materials used in a modern city there are reflections everywhere. During my research into street photography I saw so many images using glass, chrome, puddles, canals, brass, you name it to provide a reflection, and for good reason. In the 31days of the project it rained once when I was out, so puddles weren't going to feature, but Birmingham does have more canals than Venice (pub trivia answer) and millions of windows, so I knew it wouldn't be a struggle to get at least a couple of examples to show.

By this point I think you should be able to tell I was loving the new challenge. It was pretty much all new to me but I found myself seeing photo opportunities all around. I was still shooting more duffers than keepers, but thats also how it is with my landscape work. I did however find myself taking more photographs in these 31 days than I have ever done before. 

It felt like I was given an open remit to process however I wanted. With the landscapes I take every effort to make the final image as realistic as possible. The processing of each image is very similar, whereas in this project I was let loose to try new things.

I found my confidence increase by week three, even approaching strangers with just a simple "would you mind if I took your picture?" and to my surprise I didn't get a single refusal. I ended up having several really interesting conversations with folk, learning more about Birmingham than I would have ever done if I didn't try this.

I'm hoping that some of the things that I learned during this period will be transferable to my landscape work, which if I'm honest I have felt is a bit too conventional at times.

I don't think that this is the end for me and the streets, I have loved it. The images I have shared so far haven't been as universally popular as my landscape photographs, but then I am followed mostly by people who have little or no interest in this genre, I get that, that was me 12 months ago. If One Direction bring out a CD of Opera Covers I doubt that would go down well (actually it probably would, there's no helping some folk). That being said, some of the comments received have been encouraging and generally positive, and I have never had a landscape shot referred to as 'cool' before, so thats good.

I have received some success in a weekly only competition that I have tried my luck with over the last 3 years, coming third twice during the month. Something I never achieved with a landscape, so maybe theres something in this after all.

As I said at the start, I don't know who any of the people that feature in this blog are. Where faces are shown I did try to get their permission first, but this wasn't always possible. For those that I didn't speak to I hope you don't mind. I have tried to portray you in a good light and think you all look pretty cool. In fact I think Birmingham looks pretty cool, something I had missed up until recently.

Theres something to be said for pushing yourself. I think most of the photographers I know are a little like me, insecure and craving the approval of others for their work, but sometimes its good to step out of the comfort zone and see what happens. I'm certainly not adverse to trying something new again, almost anything, but not weddings!

All of the images above were taken using a Fuji X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 WR, between the dates of 22nd May and 22nd June 2017. With the exception of one image, they were all taken in the city of Birmingham, UK.

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Architecture Birmingham Black and White Buildings Candid Casual Commuter Custard Factory Fuji Mono Opportunity Photo Project Photography Portraits Project Public Snow Hill Street Street Photography Summer Urban http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2017/6/street-spirit-a-month-to-try-something-new Sun, 25 Jun 2017 10:57:55 GMT
Elgol - Take 2 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2017/3/elgol---take-2  

Elgol, Isle of Skye - Take 2

Having been teased by what this location had to offer during my visit in 2015 (see previous Skye Blog), as soon as I decided to head back to the island I knew I'd be spending at least one evening here. In the end I made it two.

The tiny fishing/crofting village on the shores of Loch Skavaig is reached by following a 15 mile single track road from the slightly larger village of Broadford. Its a road that can take anything from 40 minutes to a whole day to travel down. There are so many things to stop and photograph on the way, that If the conditions were right you probably wouldn't even reach Elgol before it was dark.

There is no such thing as a long range weather forecast on Skye and I quickly learned that scouring numerous apps on my phone any further ahead than 3 hours was a waste of time. For starters it was windy, and that meant that the skies were changing quickly and showers were frequent, but fortunately not long lasting.

The previous afternoon had been frustrating, with flat light, grey skies and poor visibility meaning very little time was spent with the camera, but on the Thursday the weather looked more interesting. A band of heavy showers, some of them wintery had been passing through all day. It was still windy, but the wind was breaking up the cloud enough to let some strong sunlight through. I checked the tide times (at least you can predict them) and despite seeing that it was rising rather than receding towards the time of sunset, I decided to go for it.

On arrival at the car park near the jetty my spirits raised as the weather looked to be improving, there were even patches of Blue sky. I grabbed my gear and made my way across the rocks. The shore of Elgol is littered with jagged boulder sized rocks, most of which are coarse so offer excellent grip. Obviously theres one or two really slippery when wet ones thrown in to keep you on your toes, but its generally ok to hop from rock to rock. Even so, it takes a good 15 minutes to clamber round to where the good stuff lies.

But as you can see from the image on the right, by the time I got close to where I wanted to be the hail had returned so I had to quickly take cover until it passed.

If I could offer one piece of advice for a location like this it would be to slow down and have a good look around before you even get your camera out of your bag. Its easy to get carried away, but essentially the beach is a chaotic jumble of jagged rocks. If your foreground is too confusing it will just look a mess, or at best a snap shot.

I liked the arrangement of rocks in this image, especially as they were angled towards the light, and the strong burnt orange/rustic colours in the cliff on the far right of the frame really stood out against the dark, brooding sky.

The sea was rough so to calm things down a little I chose a shutter speed of 2 seconds, which I thought would help to separate the mountains from the rocks, providing a welcome break for the eyes inbetween the angular foreground and dramatic backdrop. 

I was fairly happy with the composition but did my usual thing of scrutinising the image on the back of the camera looking for what was wrong with it, rather than what was right. It looked ok, but I couldn't help but wish I had left a bit more space at the foot of the frame (Its always a good idea to do this on location where you can do something about it). I hadn't moved far, so could recompose the image and try again. Only this time the light had changed and yet another hailstorm was rolling in. 

 

Ironically, this became my favourite shot of the day, but then I'm a bit of a fan of extreme weather photography.

That was to be the last of the 'decent' light, so I started back. The sun was now completely obscured by cloud and the waves were crashing further up the beach.

Once I could see the car again I decided I had time for Just time for one more shot, this time including some of the corrugated rocks that make up the floor on areas of the 'beach'. Using the poor light to my advantage, I set the shutter speed to 15seconds and waited to see the results. I was really pleased how the milky surf now looked and made a note that if I was ever in a similar situation to take more shots at this sort of exposure length, using the white water to provide some separation between rocks. 

On the Sunday, as I was due to leave the island the weather took a turn for the better. The forecast had been for a clear morning followed by an overcast afternoon with rain in the evening. In typical Skye fashion the actual weather was back to front. I took a coffee break at Broadford and weighed up the options. I had a 3 hour drive ahead of me to my accommodation for the evening, so the choice was either to make my way there for sunset, stick around on the island and do the drive in the dark, or somewhere inbetween.

Encouraged by another photographer friend, and reminded by the fact I wouldn't be coming this way again anytime soon, I decided I'd give Elgol another go, and see if I could put my experiences from a few days earlier to good use.

By the time I had arrived it was bucketing it down, but it was bright, so I knew it wouldn't last. I decided to sit it out and use the time I had to clean all my filters and lenses. It was at this point I noticed that somehow I had let the sensor on my camera become, well frankly filthy. Fortunately I now carry a second body with me for such trips, so it was simply a case of swapping from my Fujifilm X-T2 to the X-Pro2. Not a major jump but I hadn't tried the X-pro2 out yet, so this was really going to be a baptism of fire.

I think the camera did well. The sky was amazing for at least an hour and I was able to get right down low by the shoreline as the calmer water meant that the spray wasn't as impossible to deal with. I hope that these shots clearly illustrate how the different exposure times affect the overall image. The exposure times increased as the sun got lower in the sky from 1second (above) to 10seconds and then to 15seconds (below).

 

I had just one more shot I had wanted to try. I'd found the composition a few days earlier, but by then the light and tide weren't quite right. Also the sea was rough and I had feared I might be washed away. But on this occasion everything seemed good.

 

I was lucky and got it in one. Its a good job, as the sun didn't stick around and shortly afterwards most of these rocks had been covered by the tide.

I learned a lot during my two sessions at Elgol, I'll share some tips. 1) Move around a lot. The compositions won't simply come to you. 2) Don't start by looking for the finished composition. Find one rock that interests you then work the ones around it into your scene by moving the camera or your feet (use live view lots). 3) Use the light to provide natural contrast. 4) Try to predict how the scene infront of you will look when the tide is higher (or lower), remember where it is and move on. Its great to have a composition picked out that you can come back to in 10 minutes time. 5) Familiarity helps. I was far more confident on my second visit and had already found parts of the shoreline that I knew were good places to start.

I thought I was done with Elgol, at least for a while, but now I'm back home looking at the files I'm already longing to go back. Theres so much I missed, and so much more to this place than what I have done here. 

 

All of the above images were taken on tripod mounted Fuji X-T2 or X-Pro2 cameras with a Fujinon 16-55mm, f/2.8 WR Lens. A graduated ND filter (ND3) was used throughout and a 'Lee Filters' Little stopper was used for the shots with exposure times longer than 2 seconds. 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Cullins Elgol Fuji Fuji X-Pro2 Fuji X-T2 Isle of Skye Landscape Photography Lee Filters Long Exposure Road Trip Scotland Sunset Weather Wild http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2017/3/elgol---take-2 Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:41:08 GMT
A Solution That Caused A Problem http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2017/2/a-solution-that-caused-a-problem During the summer of 2016 I started wild camping, and I loved it. I quickly realised the importance of the weight of kit, or more importantly the importance of the lack of weight of kit. I ordered a lightweight tent, small, lightweight sleeping bag, a stove no bigger than a large beer can and I happily plodded on up the fells. But my camera, my trusty Canon 5d mark iii became known as 'The Brick'. 

It's a fabulous camera, but I knew it was the wrong tool for wild camping, so began a search for a smaller, lighter camera that would give me images that were as close to as possible, the same quality as the pro level DSLR was giving me. Obviously I thought they won't be as good, they're going to be on a mirrorless camera (there's still quite a bit of snobbery in the DSLR vs CSC discussion. I'll admit to being guilty of it myself to some degree). I had no intentions whatsoever of converting.

So what is a Mirrorless camera?

As the name suggests, they're cameras that don't rely on mirrors. This makes them smaller, lighter and mechanically less complicated. Generally they're also quite a bit cheaper (not including the Sony A7r ii in that statement). My research led me to conclude that there are currently 3 main players in this market, Sony, Olympus and Fuji. The big boys Canon and Nikon are dipping their toes in, but I got the impression it was more because they felt they should, rather than felt they wanted to. Thats fine, concentrate on DSLR's for which they still hold most of the market.

When Fuji announced the launch of the X-T2 in the Autumn, I knew that was the animal for me. It has a similar resolution to my Canon (24.3megapixels against the Canons 22.3), an APS-C sensor that was getting rave reviews on the Fuji X-Pro2 (which I had accepted was a crop sensor, and everybody knows a crop sensor isn't as good as a full frame sensor, but this is my second camera, so its a compromise right??), weather sealed, and with a decent choice of lenses to go with it. The range of lenses is not as good as you get with Canon or Nikon's DSLR equipment, but this is my second camera, right?

To cut a long story short, my new Fuji X-T2 arrived in October, along with a 16-55mm f/2.8 lens and a 50-140mm f/2.8 lens.

First Impressions

Size wise its everything I want. Its not too small that I'm frightened that if I squeeze the shutter too hard it will break, but light. The body itself is very light (just 507g against the Canons 950g). The photos above compare the camera with lenses with the same focal lengths (24-70mm in 35mm terms) This is a big lens, but overall its still a huge weight saving. If I was to attach a prime lens (with a fixed focal length) that saving would be even more noticeable.

You might notice the number of dials on the top of the Fuji. This might look retro to some, but all of the functions I might need to change are right there in front of me. Theres no complex menus to scroll through to change a setting. ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and aperture compensation are all there. Want to change from a single shot to a bracketed shot? Its there, on a dial....perfect, I love it.

With my Canon I tended to use the live view screen on the rear of the body and manually focus (in truth I never quite trusted the autofocus). This 'small' camera has a whopping 325 AF points (against the Canon's 61) and seems to lock on much, much faster, so I decided to give it a whirl. I also made the decision to go out without a tripod and filters to see how I got on.

Grindleford Woods - Peak DistrictGrindleford Woods - Peak District Frosty HedgerowsFrosty Hedgerows

All of these shots were taken hand held, using auto focus. I found being free from the tripod was making me search for the best angle. Also, using the viewfinder (an electronic viewfinder in the X-T2 which provides the user with all the information he needs, including a live histogram, without taking your eye away from the camera) was assisting me with framing. There is very little, if any cropping done to these 3 images.

And as for image quality, I think they're equal to that of the Canon, if not slightly better. I'm not sure how many stops the Fuji has on its dynamic range, but I would be interested to see the results against the DSLR. In short, its everything I need, but more than I expected.

But what about in low light? 

The camera seems to cope really, really well. This is a well known spot (but rarely photographed). Its possibly rarely photographed because its a roadside snap from a bend on a busy road out of Ambleside where there are no pathways.

This isn't a spot you would want to dawdle at so there was absolutely no time to set up a tripod. The light was fading, but the smoke from a small fire just behind the trees made the atmosphere just too tempting to resist. 

The shot was taken at ISO800, f/5.6, 31mm at 1/8second with the camera resting on my crumpled up wooly hat, sat on the dry stone wall. 

The Fuji makes me want to take photos where I wouldn't in the past.

What about harsh light?

Kelly Hall TarnKelly Hall Tarn

I rarely take photographs pointing into the sun, so I avoid the harshest of light, but on this late Autumn day, when the sun was already making its way to bed, I knew that the difference between the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows would be too much for the dynamic range of almost every camera. 

For this shot I used a tripod, and set the camera to take 3 shots a couple of exposure settings apart in rapid succession. A technique known as a 'bracketed exposure'. I could then manually blend the 3 images into one once I got back to the computer.

The effectively extended the dynamic range enough so as not to blow any highlights in the sky, yet recover detail in the shadows.

I don't use this technique often, but its very, very easy to do on the fuji.

 

And Panorama's?

Stitching photographs together to make up one wide panorama is something I like to do a lot when faced with a scene like this. I had taken some images on the Canon this way that I had been really pleased with, but could the Fuji allow me to do the same thing? Well this is a series of 5 images, taken hand held inbetween hail showers and in strong winds. I was pretty pleased with the sharpness throughout and the stitching (thanks to lightroom) is seamless. Im certainly not put off doing more and more of this type of image now I'm using a smaller camera.

So what about the downsides......

Well its not perfect, but maybe I just haven't worked out how to make it work perfectly for me yet? It gets through batteries quite quickly, possibly down to the fact the camera must be turned on to use the Electronic View Finder. I just need to buy and carry a few more cells with me. The EVF (electronic viewfinder) does slightly lag when panning, which I should imagine would make shooting action shots, or a moving target a little more tricky than with a traditional optical viewfinder. But as I rarely shoot things that move, thats not a big problem to me. I haven't quite got used to the white balance options yet. But as I always shoot in RAW this can be corrected back at the PC (I'd just rather get it right in camera). Theres also a little cap on the front of the body that covers the sync terminal. Watch this, it can easily fall off without you noticing. This happened to mine within a couple of weeks, but it was easy to get a replacement and now I just make sure its on tight every couple of times I use it. Its integral to the weather sealing of the body, so important. 

The final downside was that I needed to ditch my standalone PS and LR packages and sign up for the Adobe Creative Cloud monthly subscription. Its something I had avoided for over a year, reluctant to pay for the same software I had already paid through the nose for previously. Alas, the standalone package did not support the Fuji RAF (RAW) files, so I had to pay up.

Other than that I'm struggling to find too many negatives. After all, this is my second camera isn't it? I would use the Canon for the proper shots like this....

Well thats the kind of problem, this wasn't shot on the Canon. I love the Fuji X-T2 so much that I have hardly used the Canon since its little brother arrived. Its been gathering dust in the corner of the spare room, which is in my opinion a shame and a waste. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Canon, it does everything I want a camera to do, really well. Its the camera with which I have had a lot of success and therefore will always hold it in high regard. But for me the Fuji does all the same things as the Canon, just as well, but its so much more practical and, dare I say it, fun.

My Canon had become an expensive second camera, eclipsed by the mirrorless upstart. I had ended up with 2 machines that could do pretty much the same thing, but one I didn't want to use, and a whole lot of lenses that were not compatible on both bodies.

I held back making any further decisions until I saw what Canon were going to do with my mark 3's replacement, but when the spec for the mark 4 was released, and then the cost (£3,499 for the body alone, against the Fuji X-T2's £1,399) it cemented my decision.

So today I finally let it go. The Canon is heading off to pastures new and will hopefully get plenty more hours out in the field taking landscape photos. Or maybe a wedding photographer, or baby portrait photographer will pick up a bargain and it will have an entirely new life. I hope its looked after, as well as it looked after me.

I hope Canon are taking notice of the improvements in the CSC (Compact System Camera) and develop a new generation of DSLR's that once again widen the gap between the two. But for now and the immediate future I'm all in to Fuji. A second body and a bag full of prime lenses arrive next week so lets see what happens next...

 

 

 

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Bracketed CSC Camera Canon DSLR Dynamic Range Exposures Fuji Fujifilm HDR Lake District Lighter Mirrorless Panorama Photography Wild Camp X-T2 smaller http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2017/2/a-solution-that-caused-a-problem Fri, 10 Feb 2017 21:13:14 GMT
2016 - A Year in Review http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/12/my-favourite-shots-from-2106 Well folks, we made it through another year. Thanks to everyone thats still following me, and a warm welcome to any newbies. It's that time when I take a little look back at the last 12 months and pick out the shots that have meant the most to me. That doesn't mean they're my most popular or critically acclaimed (no award winners amongst this lot), they're just a bit special to me.

I knew this year was going to be a busy one. With all the political uncertainty surrounding Brexit I had a feeling work (the day job) could become even less predictable than usual, and therefore harder. I had 2 houses to decorate top to bottom and sell, then another to find and buy. On top of this my father was ill and undergoing regular treatment. As we round off the year I am happy to say the houses were done up and sold, my day job is still good and my father is now feeling back to his old self and just undergoing maintenance treatment. I am already looking forward to next year...

All of the above meant that trips with the camera were less frequent (which had been predicted), so it was more important to make them count. I decided to focus the majority of my efforts on the Lake District so that I might be able to put together a Calendar for the end of the year.  

1 - The Lake House

Living in a DreamLiving in a Dream

Winter was a very wet and windy affair in the Lake District. All hopes of snowy landscape shots were quickly dashed and thoughts went out to all those affected by some of the worst flooding in memory. Despite the obvious devastation the national park urged the public to visit (a dip in tourism would have been a double blow to the local economy) so I did my bit and hoped that photographs showing that despite everything seen on the news, Cumbria was very much still open for business, would encourage folk to make an unplanned trip, or keep to existing plans. I quickly learned in 2016 that preconceived ideas of what I was going to shoot were a waste of time. 

2 - Sunset Surfer

Sunset SurferSunset Surfer A hazy week in Cornwall. Unseasonably warm and cloudless which forced a different approach and for a change I decided to include people in a couple of my photographs. I always seem to end up on the beach at Gwithian when I visit. The scattering of rock pools, the island lighthouse and its westward aspect make it perfect for a sunset location. On this occasion, with very little going on above the horizon I decided to focus on the patterns in the sand. The inclusion of the surfer was a last minute decision, but in hindsight it made what would have been a fairly boring image, somewhat more interesting.

3 - Wastwater Panorama

Haweswater PanoramaHaweswater Panorama In March I was lucky enough to be picked to help a magazine out with a landscape feature in the Lake District. It was a great experience but unfortunately the best weather came the morning after the magazine crew had returned down south. I had stayed on an extra night as I thought driving home when so tired would have been foolish. This gave me the perfect opportunity to visit a new part of the park that had been on the wish list for a while. The snow was unexpected but welcome, despite making the journey 'interesting' and the after-shoot hike back to the car even more so. This photo formed the basis of 2 blogs, and the single frame version made it into this years Landscape Photographer of the Year book.

4 - Castlerigg Stone Circle Castlerigg Stone CircleCastlerigg Stone Circle 2016 was definitely the year I became addicted to stitched panorama's. An image made up of a sequence of photographs taken and then stitched together on the computer. I had stopped using my ultra-wide lens (as it seemed to make the mountains appear small and insignificant, which the most definitely are not) but I was still struggling to get the drama of the landscape into a single frame. The stitched pano seemed the perfect answer. Shortlisted in this years LPOTY competition, but alas didn't make the final cut.

5 - Good Morning Neighbours

Sheep over UllswaterSheep over Ullswater I started wild-camping in 2016, something I had fancied trying for a while. Theres a very special feeling once the tent is set up and your dinner is cooking on the portable stove. Everything seems to stop, and you finally get to appreciate whats around you, with the added bonus of exclusivity. This photograph was taken during the hike back to the car after my inaugural camp near the summit of St.Sunday Crag near Ullswater. I'm not sure the sheep were used to folk walking this way down the path at 7:30am. I thought this shot was perfect for the cover of my 2017 Calendar, and so thats exactly what it became. Thanks to everyone that bought a copy this year. We smashed last years total.

6 - Sunrise at the Old Man of Coniston

The View from Black SailsThe View from Black Sails After possibly the worst nights sleep had so far in the tent (that will teach me to pitch on a slope), I awoke to fabulous conditions looking down towards Coniston, which was enjoying a little localised cloud inversion. Although it is a relatively low fell, I was still 5 miles from where the car was parked up so felt truly remote and wild. The initial idea of camping was to get me to less frequently photographed locations to avoid the easy to shoot clichés (I save those for when my legs cant manage any more climbs). You could think of it as a lot of effort for relatively little return (one or two images maybe), but I have found these trips ironically become less about photography and more about the experience. 

7 - 3rd Time Lucky

Kelly Hall TarnKelly Hall Tarn Having visited Kelly Hall Tarn twice before I knew exactly what to expect. Everyone has their own ideas what light/conditions suit a location best, and I had already decided that a good sky, with strong side light late in the day, and not too much wind (so that I would get some sort of reflection) would be just perfect here. So as the autumn afternoon drew on and the clouds built up around the mountains and fells, I headed back to the tarn for another go. This time I got everything, it must have been my lucky day.

8 - My Lucky Day

The kind of shoot I'm not that keen on anymore, standing around, waiting. But on this occasion I had a feeling that I was in the perfect spot for something special. I already knew that the trees still had enough autumn foliage to make a decent impression, and with the bonus of a heavy dumping of snow overnight, I felt the contrast of the seasons would look really nice. When I arrived to see the lake so calm I knew it was just a matter of waiting for the mist around the fells to clear and the light to hit the trees, so I stood there and put up with the odd shower. It was during one of these showers that the magic happened. One of those moments you instantly know you have been very fortunate indeed (and hope you managed to get everything in focus).

9 - The end of Autumn

Grindleford Woods - Peak DistrictGrindleford Woods - Peak District I remember this time last year saying that there are a just handful of photographers that do woodlands justice with their cameras.  They create images of simple beauty amongst the chaos of the trees. I've grown to love these shoots, you hardly stand still, constantly exploring for something special. I still struggle to find compositions that aren't cluttered or scruffy but its something I'm working on, and for now I am quite pleased with the progress I have made in 2016. Theres still a long way to go, but maybe one day....

10 - A Frosty End

Frosty HedgerowsFrosty Hedgerows I generally like my latest work best. I'm fickle with most of my images. This was taken just a couple of days ago.

Something local, but when the conditions are as good as this you don't need the help of a national park to make a nice shot. I treated myself to a new camera in September, a Fuji X-T2. Its smaller and lighter than my beloved Canon DSLR (and about half the price incidentally), something I knew would help with the wild camping trips. I haven't quite managed to put my finger on why yet, but I feel that its changing how I shoot. The tripod is being used less often which I feel frees me up to search for compositions faster. I'm using the viewfinder more thaa the 'Live View' on the back of the camera and taking my time before pressing the shutter, making sure the frame is balanced and pleasing, meaning I crop less in Post Production. I haven't yet used filters with the camera, but haven't found this to be a problem. 

The above photo is an example of a shot that where I took longer to set up (up a little, across a little, down a little. You get the idea), but it would have abeen a shame to have wasted such perfect conditions with a shoddy or rushed composition. 

So whats next....

Hopefully more of the same. I'm relatively happy with the progress I have made over the last 12 months. I have managed to get shots into more magazines than ever, had a couple of articles published, had an image selected to be a cover and won a couple of awards. I'm still waiting for the results of Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and have all fingers and toes crossed. I'm already planning trips to Dorset, Scotland, and of course the Lake District, but Id like to go somewhere new. Maybe Wales, maybe Yorkshire who knows.

But its not all about me. The list of photographers I follow has grown during 2016. I'm looking forward to meeting some of them this coming year. It's always nice to put a face to the images, share ideas and chat with likeminded individuals.

But most of all Im looking forward to more wild camps. These, along with the new camera have been highpoints of the year. 

Thanks for sticking with me so far. I hope you have enjoyed this little retrospective. Have a wonderful New Year and I hope that 2017 brings you everything you wish for. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Autumn Canon Castlerigg Coniston Cornwall Cumbria Derwent Water Frost Fuji Gwithian Kelly Hall Tarn Keswick LPOTY Lake District Landscape Loughrigg Tarn Mist Photography Rainbow Scotland Sunrise Sunset Weather Wilderness landscape photographer of the year snow http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/12/my-favourite-shots-from-2106 Sat, 31 Dec 2016 15:53:32 GMT
Skye, Storm Abigail and a change in style http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/8/skye-abigail-and-a-change-in-style I had been looking forward to visiting the Isle of Skye for well over 18 months, but in the week leading up to the journey north I started to wonder if I should cut my losses and abandon the whole thing. It had been raining solidly in Scotland for 4 days, and the long range forecast looked worse still. The first storm of the winter was around the corner, and the MET office had decided to give it a name. Abigail was her name...

I was due to be joining up with a group of photographers on the island for a Dawn2Dusk workshop, lead by top landscape photographers Ross Hoddinott and Adam Burton. I'd met Ross a couple of times before, but I was looking forward to meeting Adam for the first time. I was drawn to Adam's style when I first started taking an interest in Landscape Photography, and its always nice to meet your influences first hand.

My friend Keith Truman (also a very talented photographer) persuaded me that if all else failed and we weren't able to do any photography, Scotland is renowned for its whiskey and that we would still have a laugh. So the argument was won and on the Saturday morning Keith arrived at my house early and we made our soggy way up the M6. Passed the Lakes, the Borders (it was still raining) and the city of Glasgow, up passed loch lomand (where the roads were actually flooded), eventually arriving in Glencoe where we intended to spend the next day taking photographs.

Glencoe 

It didn't quite pan out like that. We actually spent most of the next day sat in the car watching the rain. To raise our spirits we would say things like "its definitely getting brighter over there" or "I don't think its raining quite as hard anymore" but this was mostly wishful thinking. The lack of 3G signal in the Glen meant that it was impossible to get a reliable forecast but this was probably for the best.

Eventually the rainfall appeared to be easing off, not completely, but enough to convince us to break from the confines of the car and actually take some pictures. After all, we were dressed for the weather and the Canon 5D mark iii is weather sealed...so lets do this.

The Good Life (Not for Sale)The Good Life (Not for Sale) The laghangrabh Hut is one of two small white cottages that are located near the main A82 that are honeypots to photographers. On a good day you would be lucky to find such a location to yourself, but on a day like today (with the exception of one walker) we were alone. 

I had seen many clever compositions of the cottage by other photographers. Some close up, some distant from high up on the Devils Staircase, but we didn't have time for anything clever. I have always said that the thinking behind this image is to keep things simple. I like to think that if you asked a child to draw 'a cottage with some trees by the side and a mountain in the background' this is what you would get. We don't always need to try to be clever with composition (but we still try).

This is a 2 shot stitched panorama (stitched in LR6) taken hand held at a high ISO. This was not a day to be faffing around with a tripod. Rain was starting to fall again.

The next few hours were spent going up and down the A82 trying to put ourselves in the best locations in case the weather gods actually decided to shine on us. All the news on the radio was about the storms heading in that were due to hit the Western Isles late in the afternoon the following day. Which was precisely the time we were due to arrive on Skye.

We decided to work our way along the winding road to Loch Etive. I remember this road from a holiday with my parents when I was a child. My word has it changed. There is a massive deforestation program currently underway in the Glen, it looks like it has been for many years but won't be for much longer. Most of the trees have already been cut down leaving row after row of untidy sawn stumps, and debris behind. To be plain the place looks a mess. I hope that there is an environmental plan to put this back to how it was once the loggers move on, but in the meantime it was such a disappointment.

Even the local wildlife looked fed up with the state of things, and most likely the weather. Although still magnificent, even when soaked from days of torrential rain.

I'm not going to say too much about the drive from Glencoe to Skye. I didn't see much but I was glad I was driving a Land Rover.

Upon arrival at the Skeabost Country House Hotel we met up with the group and caught up with some old friends. One thing about the Dawn2Dusk workshops is that they don't scrimp on accommodation. The Hotel was lovely, and incredibly accommodating. The plan was to go straight out and shoot at Neist Point on the far Western side of the island as this was possibly the only chance we would get to shoot a sunset (I hadn't seen the Sun since the Wednesday before).

                         

          Neist Point Lighthouse

In hindsight, of all the locations we were to visit during the four days of the workshop, this is the only one where I would say a bit of sun would have made for a much better end product (in my opinion).

The sea looked calm from this height, but the winds were already picking up and it was hard work to keep the cameras steady enough for a sharp picture. Its hard to appreciate from this shot just how windy it was, but if you've read any of my previous blogs and remember my respect for heights, this was as close as I was getting to the edge on this occasion. At least it had stopped raining for an hour, that was something.

This is one of several shots that has only recently been processed. I had several attempts at processing this shot but always seemed to over cook the sky. I was relatively pleased with sweeping portrait composition, but I was trying to compensate from the lack of sunlight by dragging in dark grad filters to the sky, and upping the clarity slider too high. In the end this is slightly desaturated with some dodging and burning to the foreground alone. 

Technically the shot was a nightmare to correct. It was shot using a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens at a focal distance of 16mm (to make the most of the foreground rocks). Unfortunately there was a lot of distortion that needed correcting to get both the horizon straight and the lighthouse upright. Even now the horizon looks like it falls off a little to the right, but theres a strip or lighter ocean that is causing the illusion. Unfortunately by correcting the 'wonkiness' I lost a lot of space around the image so its not exactly how I intended (but its a lot better than having a lighthouse tower at 45degrees).

It was decided that we had already pushed our luck with the weather as the rain started to fall, so it was back to the hotel to unpack, warm up and discuss the rest of the weeks action (with numerous contingency plans). Now I have got to say that the hour or so 'briefing' with Adam and Ross was a joy to attend. This blog isn't a review or a plug to get them more business, I'm being honest. These guys have been to the locations so many times they know them well. They know the best spots to get to and when to go, they've researched it and they have their own shots to show for it. We were treated to an hour or so presentation of images from every location we were due to shoot at. Yes they're the ones that everyone shoots at when you go to Skye, its unlikely you would find something new on a workshop, but they're catering for a market that wants the honeypot, cliche photograph that they can put on their walls and say "I took that one".

It was decided that the weather was looking so poor we might as well go for the Daddy (the Old Man Of Storr) the following morning as we might only get one shot at it.

The Old Man Of Storr

The Old Man of Storr is reason enough to visit the Isle of Skye on its own. Game of Thrones, Alien - Prometheus, Macbeth all feature scenes shot around the rocks of the Old Man. Photographers travel from all over the world to shoot here......
Shine a LightShine a Light

....So its unlikely that you will come away with anything original.

Its the cliché of cliché locations. I shudder at the thought of how many similar shots the judges for the photography competitions 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' and 'Scottish Landscape Photographer of the year' have to trawl through from here each year (I even added to that number this year, sorry).

We had been advised to pack one camera body, one lens and filters, the bare minimum to keep down the weight of our bags.

The first half of the ascent is on good gravel paths. Its a gentle climb all the way, but if you pace it right and take a breather every now and then, theres no need to bust your lungs. It gets a little more rocky the higher you get, but its a good path and shouldn't cause anyone with moderate fitness too many problems. It was handy to have a guide to show the way but I would have no hesitation in going to this location myself alone now (taking all the necessary precautions obviously).

After an hour or so walk we arrived at viewpoint in time for sunrise,  however there was a problem. Visibility was down to about 30 yards. The winds had died down a little which made the ascent easier, but wasn't going to blow away those clouds. There was nothing else to do but stick it out and keep everything crossed. 

 

During the next hour sunrise came and went. Our hopes were raised and quickly dashed as the clouds appeared to thin and get brighter, for it to only get darker and even more cloudy. Just as we were about to pack it in and head back there was a break, and the light flooded in. Click, click, click from the cameras and oooohs and ahhhhhs from their owners filled the air as the conditions went from frankly crap to awesome in the space of 5 minutes. A valuable lesson in patience if nothing else.

The landscape shot above is the classic from this location. The portrait is however me trying to be different. It's another recently processed shot that I couldnt get to sit right, but 9 months on I have something Im happy with. Taken at the narrow end of the 24-70mm lens (at 70mm), this was shot in the the portrait aspect, but intended to be cropped square. Im glad I changed my mind about the crop now, which just goes to show that sometimes a little distance from your images removes any emotional attachment and promotes creativity (sometimes).

                          Elgol

The beach at Elgol is famous for its view across Loch Scavaig towards the Cuillin Mountains. The coastline is varied with jagged granite rocks and honeycomb cliffs. You could spend a week here playing with compositions.

By this point I had accepted that we had to work with the conditions we were given. We had struck gold earlier at the Old Man, from now on we would just do our best. I wouldn't say I was enjoying the constant heavy showers and strong winds, but I hope I didn't moan too much.

In hindsight, and many months on when I got round to processing these shots, Im glad we had the weather we had. We only got to shoot at Elgol for about 30 minutes and it was nowhere near enough for me, I have to go back. But now if I was given the choice of a sunny day with blue sky and a few fluffy clouds, or a repeat of the chaos we had during our visit (OK maybe not quite that much chaos), I'd ask for a repeat. 

 

                    The Quiriang

This was the morning that I feel Ross earned his fee from me, just by coaching me along the narrow path that leads to this viewpoint. Its the one location I had been slightly worried about getting to and on this morning, beloved Abigail was in full flow. 

The drive to the Northern End of the Trotternish Ridge was actually quite pleasant. It was dark but for once it wasn't raining, much. But as we arrived at the car park (before we'd even opened the car doors) the first of several heavy hailstorms hit us.

Now Adam is one of those people that is constantly positive. Its a brilliant vibe for a workshop leader to give off, and its infectious. I'm sure many photographers, amateur and pro would have looked out the window of the hotel/car and thought "not today" but not Adam, or Ross to be fair. So as soon as the hailstorm passed we were all out of the cars, boots on and making our way along the ever narrowing, winding path that leads to where the shot below was taken. I think this was the point where my vertigo was at its worst. I've been working on getting over it and I'm making progress, but its not easy. If you asked me to walk along a kerbstone thats 4inches wide I could do it no problem. Put me a few hundred feet up and a path 2 foot wide and it becomes an issue. I would love to be able to tell you what the walk here was like but I can't. My eyes were firmly set on the path and my feet, not the landscape, at least until I heard those fabulous words "I think this will do" from Adam upfront. 

We only had time to set up a tripod and reach the cameras from our bags when another hailstorm hit us. There was nowhere to go, we had to just stand there, perched (ok its a 2 foot wide path which is ample to most normal human beings) on the edge of a mountain, in a gail, getting pelted with hailstones. They hurt i'll tell you. Fortunately I had managed to compose a shot and focus before the hail hit. I'd taken a few shots and set the aperture. Played around with exposure times to get a Histogram that I was happy with (filters would have been impossible to keep dry. I had decided to ditch them straight away). I started what became a sequence of click, cover lens and clean, click, cover lens and clean, and repeat until the hail had passed.

When I looked at the back of the camera to see what I had taken I thought 'what a mess!' It was the scruffiest photograph I think I had ever taken. I couldn't work out what was going on with the sky, but I was convinced that the lens would be covered in rain spots and the files would be more trouble than they were worth to process. As it happens, there wasn't a single rain spot on any of the RAW files.

This turned out to be my favourite shot from the trip. It needed carful editing as I had set to expose 'to the right' of the histogram, meaning the RAW file looked bright, washed out and flat, but I had plenty of pixels to work with. It was only during the processing that what I had captured came into view. The scruffy sky turned out to be hailstones in mid flight. Its ugliness became its beauty. 

                         The Fairy Pools

We got out of the cars, went for a walk along the river. We almost lost a photographer this day. We genuinely did lose hats, rain covers and a few other personal possessions. I took half a dozen photographs and said "enough is enough". I was getting used to bad weather photography, but this took the biscuit. 

I have nothing to show from my visit to this location. Which is reason enough for me to HAVE to go back :)

                         Glen Sligachan 

This is a great spot with an amazing backdrop (if the clouds haven't obscured the mountains), but this was the location that frustrated me the most.

By now I was exhausted. You underestimate the amount of driving thats required around the island. It looks tiny on a map, but the distance between locations is considerable, and the roads are twisty and narrow. Me, and everything I had with me was by now soaked. I was really impressed how well the camera gear was holding up, although to be fair I hadn't taken many shots.

There are a number of small cascades along this river that make wonderful foregrounds with the mountain ridge in the background. Unfortunately the best places to set yourself up for these shots is fairly tight and there is only room for so many tripods. So place 3 workshoppers along with a pro giving direction, and the rest need to take turns. I totally understand this, what else can you do? but when the weather was changing all the time so I felt that I couldn't afford to stand around and hope to get my turn. So I went for a walk in the direction of the car muttering to myself. Remember I shoot alone most of the time, so being considerate was alien to me (only joking). I don't much care for milky waterfall shots anyway. 

I did in the end find a composition I thought might work. I'd managed to find a view without photographers in, and with some interesting rocks, one which seemed to have a bush growing our of it. I processed this shot today specifically for the blog, to fill some space, but I think it works and doesn't look too out of place and just goes to show you don't need the sun to shine to make a decent picture. 

 

 

So that was my trip to Skye and my epiphany moment. When I realised that bad weather photography was actually pretty cool. Get the composition right and theres no need to scratch around for mood during post processing, it's there infront of you in the flesh. You might need to work quicker to catch the light that may be gone in a second (this is where being free from a tripod in my opinion helps), and therefore shots may not necessarily be technically perfect, but you might get that special shot. Exposures are easier as the tonal differences between highlights and shadows are much more akin to the dynamic range of the modern DSLR. The challenges are therefore not so much photographic, they're more about ensuring you're dressed for the elements, safe and keeping your spirits high and your eyes open.  Lets face it, theres only so many fools who would stand on a mountainside in a hailstorm taking photographs, so get the photos others won't. Theres plenty that push the limits much, much further than me and fair play to them. I will no doubt be in awe of their shots and the silent back story that often goes with them.

We didn't make it to the proposed locations of Talker Bay, Loch Cill Chriosd, Loch nan Eileen or Eileen Donan Castle, the weather was too poor and driving conditions were frankly dangerous (the Hotel actually advised us to stay indoors for several hours). Originally I was disappointed with the the results from the trip. Not the workshop, that was fun with great people and its not likely I would have got my shot at the Quiriang without them. Half of the shots used in this blog were only processed in the last few weeks, a full 8-9 months since the workshop, and its only when I look at them displayed as a group and wonder what was I thinking. The trip was just perfect. Would I be writing a blog about a trip when I went to scotland and had wall to wall blue skies? I don't think so.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the other photographers (especially Keith for providing the company on that long journey) and of course Ross and Adam, who between them all made a challenging week thoroughly enjoyable.

Hope you've enjoyed the story, and the images Ive put together to tell the tale.

All of the photographs were taken between the 9th and 13th November 2015

In A StormIn A Storm

 

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Adam Burton Canon Cuilins Elgol Fairy Pools Glen Sligachan Hail Hailstorm Isle of Skye Landscape Mountains Neist Point Ross Hoddinot Scotland Skeabost Country House Hotel Sligachan Sligachan Bridge Storm Abigail The Old Man of Storr The Quiriang Weather Wilderness Winter Workshop landscape photography photography http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/8/skye-abigail-and-a-change-in-style Mon, 08 Aug 2016 08:50:20 GMT
My First Wild Camp http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/7/my-first-wild-camp 14-07-16

Wild camping has been something I have wanted to do for months, and a couple of weeks ago I finally got my chance. I have been a long time admirer of the photographer that goes the extra mile to get a shot. I like a photograph that has a story behind it, or maybe one that you look at and think to yourself what an amazing experience the photographer must have had to produce such a spectacular piece of work. Im also mindful that the photographer was committed to the location. He/she may have more time to get to know the immediate area but also you're stuck with what you get. If the weather in the neighbouring valley is much better than where you are you can't simply jump in the car and drive a couple of miles up the road. The car is probably an hours walk away, so you just have to look longingly at what was so near, yet so far, and make the best of what you have in front of you.

I may have had a near miss on the Wednesday night (the sky looked amazing near Keswick and Derwent Water) but I think I struck lucky on Thursday morning.

I started to plan wild camping around Easter. I regularly purchase 'The Great Outdoors' and 'Trail' magazines, which are both full of walks around the UK that have the potential for a wild camp along the way. I also discovered a couple of books by the talented Phoebe Smith. Her book 'Extreme Sleeps' is lighthearted, yet informative and packed with tails from her first and most memorable trips. Its also packed full of useful tips, things that may seem obvious but are often overlooked (I always carry suncream thanks to this book).

But its still not as simple as 'just buying a tent'. The amount of equipment on the market for wild camping is staggering! For example, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of sleeping bags. Tents come in all shapes and sizes and no matter how many reviews you read, you will rarely find two people recommending the same one. I found myself glued to outdoor shop websites for many a long night, trying to decide what to buy. I kept the budget tight, but I was mindful that you get what you pay for, and sleeping on a mountain isn't something you should do 'on the cheap'. Safety is important, and should really come first.

Im going to list some of the basic items I purchased. This may help a few but please don't take it as gospel. Its simply what I decided to go with. Ask anyone else and I'm sure they will say they prefer a different bag, tent or mat.

  • Tent - Berghaus Peak Pro 3.1
  • Sleeping Bag - Snugpak Softie Kestrel 6 (with pillow)
  • Sleeping mat - Thermarest ProLight
  • Camping Stove - Jetboil Flash
  • Rucksack - Ospray Kestrel 68
  • plus a selection of Dry Bags, First Aid Kit, Mobile phone charger, food, clean clothes, a map and of course my camera.

For my first time out I decided to head up to the Lake District, to the area around Ullswater. Its a fair way for me to travel but I had been working on a project that required 12 landscape photos from this region and I felt I was one short. The traffic on the way up almost persuaded me to change all my plans and head to my back up location in the Peak District, but I persevered and eventually at 5:30pm I parked the car in Patterdale.

Having carefully packed the rucksack with all of the essentials (throwing in an apple and some nuts for a snack along the way, and a boil in the bag pasta bolognaise for tea) I started to follow the path towards St.Sunday crag via Birks. I had never been this way before but wanted to pitch the tent somewhere I could get decent views across to the lake, and according to my basic but improving map reading skills, this looked perfect.

Now I'm not great at climbing or heights, so what takes the average human an hour to walk probably takes me 90minutes. But for once I wasn't in a rush. A lot of the time I rush to locations to get the shot, then get back to the car as fast as I can before it gets dark and dangerous. This time I was able to pace myself. The conditions for the evening didn't look promising but I had the morning to work with and the forecast for then was more favourable. I had chosen this particular night as the Met office had suggested it would be clear, calm and dry. Perfect conditions to ease myself into this new pastime of mine I thought. After all this trip was essentially about testing out my purchases, and hopefully bagging one shot for the project. Anything else would be a bonus.

Ten minutes walk from the car and the path started to climb, and from this point on I didn't see another person until 9am the next day. It was just me and the landscape. I felt like the luckiest man alive to have all this to myself (apart from a couple hundred sheep).

Now as I said earlier, I wasn't rushing because the conditions were not as expected. There seemed to be a lot of clouds around, and at high level, they seemed to be fast moving. Having found the perfect place to pitch the tent, on flat grass with shelter provided by some scattered boulders, I started to mooch around looking for potential compositions for sunset and the following morning. The tent only took 10 minutes to put up (I had practiced this once before in the back garden), the sleeping mat was inflated and the sleeping bag was removed from its compression sack. The sleeping bag had no doubt been handpacked by a robot. It was exhausting removing it from its state of tidy parcel into something I could sleep in, but after 5 minutes wrestling I had won. This didn't bode well for re-packing (as I found out the next morning). 

By now the wind had really picked up, the clouds had thickened and were looking increasingly dark, I conceded that this evenings photography was cancelled and I should relax and enjoy nature, my evening meal and get an early night. The pasta dinner cooked within 8 minutes after which I retired to the tent.....just in time for the heavens to open. It rained and blew a gale for 3 hours until 1am. I didn't get much sleep....

I last remember checking my watch at 1am, the next thing I knew my alarm was going off and it was 4am. Everything was now perfectly still and totally, totally silent. I slowly unzipped the tent and what I saw took my breath away. The sight of the fells at dawn or just before sunrise is something everyone should experience at least once. I knew once the sun was up I would be busy for at least an hour so I decided to make myself a coffee and come round slowly. There was little point packing at this stage as the risk of burglary was 0% and anyway I wasn't planning to go too far.

Out came the camera... The rocks near the tent provided an interesting foreground and the soft, diffused light was just strong enough to provide light and shadow, that much needed contrast. It was whilst taking the shots at this location I started to notice the ray of light that was starting to form across the lake above Place Fell. It was time to move on. I quickly ran down the path in the direction of the car to a place where I could make the most of the lovely light. I wanted to position sunrise to my extreme right where I wouldn't need to worry too much about lens flare (I had forgotten to pack a lens cleaning cloth, a massive error on my part and my filters were misting up quickly due to the humidity).

The opening shot of this blog is what quickly followed. A 5 shot stitched panorama that has been cropped down to an aspect ratio of 3:1 (my favoured ratio for panos). Its hard to see the best of this photograph as a low resolution file, so you'll have to take my word for this....but the detail in the shadows that are held within the files of a Canon5D mark iii RAW file is staggering, especially for a camera approaching its 4th Birthday.

Happy with the wider landscape shots, I turned my attention to smaller details.  Sunlight projected through broken clouds creating dappled light on the fellsides. I was watching as patch of light lit up a small copse of trees and then the little islands on Ullswater. One shaft of light started to trace its way along Patterdale Common. I looked ahead to see if it would be passing anything interesting as it approached. The little house at the foot of Hartsop Dodd was perfect. It would give the image a sense of scale, and ultimately its title 'Sun shines on the Righteous'. Incidentally can you see that  tree halfway up the fell? If you compare its size to the size of the house that tree must be HUGE!

Time was passing far too quickly and I was conscious I had a day job to get back to. I made my way back to the tent and started to repack the rucksack. Everything I had bought had performed splendidly, but i still needed to get the sleeping bag back into its compression sack. It took 3 attempts, a lot of bad language and sweat but eventually I did it. I thought to myself how impractical this bit of kit will be in bad weather when I need to pack quickly. I was impressed with everything but the sleeping bag had failed me.

Now in hindsight the failure of the sleeping bag is entirely my fault. After I had got home and emptied the camping gear out to dry and air, I checked the Snugpak website intent on sending an angry email. However on the website there is a lovely, clear and well presented video showing you just how easily the sleeping bag can be formed back into a tight little bundle. I tried it, it took me about 30seconds to pack it. I wish I had had this knowledge 24 hours earlier. So to the makers of the Snugpak softie....your kit is amazing, sorry for all of the cursing aimed in your direction.

I packed up in glorious sunshine. The tent was still soaking from the rain of the night before but I knew it was only a matter of hours before I would be back home and I could dry everything on the washing line in the garden. Anything that doesn't like getting wet was put in a dry bag to protect it. I checked the area around my campsite to make sure I had left nothing behind and started the decent back to the car in good spirits, for after all I had done something I had wanted to for months.

The views on the return to the car were stunning. This area of Northern England was particularly hard hit by flooding in December, so it was brilliant to see how well and quickly it has bounced back. There is still some evidence of rebuilding and repair, but on the whole you would never know. The people and the welcome they extend is never faulting and the bacon sandwich from the shop next to the post office in Patterdale was the perfect reward for my morning hike.

I fell in love with Cumbria when I first visited with a camera in 2013. Now I feel like another level of enjoyment has been made available to me. This was all about an experience, with the photography coming second. There will be plenty more wild camps to come. I can sense an oncoming addiction and lets face it, I'm very unlikely to run out of potential camping spots. 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Berghaus Camping Canon Cumbria Glenridding Hiking Jetboil Lake Lake District Landscape Ospray Patterdale Photography Snugpak Summer The Great Outdoors Magazine Thermarest Trail Magazine UK Ullswater Walking Wilderness landscape Photography wild camp http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/7/my-first-wild-camp Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:40:11 GMT
60 Minutes, 10 Steps, 1 Great Location http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/5/60-minutes-10-steps-1-great-location A fairly self explanatory title, this blog tells the story of an all too brief morning out with my camera. Totally unplanned and unexpected, I spent an hour in the Peak District, experienced almost every weather condition and light you could imagine, moving only about 10 paces during the whole time and creating several, very different images. I hope you like it.

A noise outside, or maybe just too much on my mind woke me up at 3:40am on the last Saturday of April. I was instantly wide awake and knew that getting back to sleep would be hard. I reached for my phone (at this point just to check the time) and almost out of habit clicked on a weather app. A nice day ahead was forecast but I already had a list of jobs as long as your arm to do around the house. Curious, I checked the forecast more specifically for Upper Hulme at around sunrise time, which was just two hours away. Sunny intervals, excellent visibility, low winds and very cold....mmmmmm that sounds good.

I knew my camera bag was packed and the batteries were recharged from my last trip to the Lakes, so I quickly dressed, grabbed what I needed and jumped in the car. Upper Hulme, the nearest Weather Station to the Roaches is the entry point to the Peak District for me, and because of that its become a firm favourite location over the last two years. It takes me about 65 minutes to get to the parking places, and from there within another 15 minutes there's photo opportunities a plenty.

All the way up the M6 I could see plenty of stars and not many clouds...that didn't look good. Then as I approached the Roaches the Fog descended, thick cloud rolled in and visibility was reduced to about 100yards. It was going to be one of those mornings of extremes. I parked the car and walked up to the high ridgeline of the Roaches, looking towards Hen Cloud. Im a huge fan of side light. If you look through my back catalogue you will notice the sun rarely features in my photographs. On this morning I knew the sun would rise over my left shoulder, so I looked for rocks that were angled to make the most of this. Visibility was still awful so I had plenty of time to search for the best ones. Then it was a matter of waiting. 

After about 20 minutes the fog started to lift and the first light broke through. It wasn't direct light and it was still pretty murky but I thought there was enough drama to make an interesting image. I set up using a very wide angle lens to try and pack in as much of the scene in front of me, I really wanted to get Tittesworth Reservoir into the frame. 

Moody I thought, I liked it but it wasn't what I was really hoping for when I saw that forecast a couple of hours ago. Visibility to the west was now pretty good. On a clear day you can see for miles from here. I noticed the satellite dish of Jodrell Bank in Cheshire was glowing bright orange, it was in full sun, now that was a good sign. The clouds overhead were moving quite fast and I could see a slither of light getting closer and closer, anytime now. Then bang! It was almost blinding. Cloud ahead of me and above, but where I was standing was lit up like a beacon. Conditions this good are rare, so I needed to make it count. I adjusted my location slightly, trying to incorporate a small pool into the composition and fired off some shots. 

Great, but still not happy. I started to reconsider the inclusion of the Reservoir, feeling that cramming so much into the frame was reducing the impact of the light and the contrast between the bright rocks and the trees in the valley below. Could I change lenses quick enough and recompose? I had to give it a go. The longer focal length was perfect, and it made me switch from landscape to portrait aspect, something I really like with this sort of scene. I only managed a coupe of shots before the cloud rolled back in, blocked out the sun, the golden light was gone.

The weather had taken a turn for the worse. I checked the back of the camera to make sure I had something I liked from the previous 2 minutes of great light, it looked good. Glancing around me I couldn't believe how many different potential compositions I could have make in such a small physical space. I have been to iconic locations and struggled to come back with more than two shots (and thats usually one portrait and one landscape shot), but here I could have easily found 10 very different shots with very little effort. Heres a couple more that show what the changing conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I  have often read that the Author J.R.R Tolkien was inspired by the landscape of the Roaches when he was writing his Middle Earth books. It would be easy to see why, although I'm not sure just how much truth is in the rumours.

April Showers - The RoachesApril Showers - The Roaches A short, sharp shower passed through, but was gone as quickly as it had appeared. The clouds started to disperse and the morning had officially begun. I checked my watch which now read 6:45am, I had been in this spot for almost exactly an hour. Aiming to be back home for 8am I decided to make my move. The sun was pretty high by now making balanced exposures tricky anyway, and I didn't want to be greedy. I knew I had been lucky that morning, and also that the beagle back home would be ready for his morning walk (and more importantly his breakfast).

It was obvious by this point it was to be a lovely day, but for me the best of it had been when most normal folk had been fast asleep in their beds.

Theres one more photo to come, which will round this blog off perfectly. Unfortunately you'll have to wait a couple of weeks for that one. Maybe you'll come back to check?

 

 

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Canon Clouds Dawn Drama Landscape Lee Filters Morning National Park Outdoors Peak District Photography Staffordshire Sunrise The Roaches Weather http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/5/60-minutes-10-steps-1-great-location Fri, 20 May 2016 13:22:07 GMT
Making A Panorama (From Fell to Frame) - Part 2 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/3/making-a-panorama-from-fell-to-frame---part-2 For me, planning a trip and taking a photograph is just a part of what I enjoy about photography. Theres plenty more to do back at home when the weathers not great or there simply isn't time to make a journey to a landscape I want to shoot. Obviously there is the editing of the RAW files (which I discussed in part 1), and then sharing it online on various social media platforms for feedback and response. But what I really enjoy is following this process to the end, where the image gets to go on a wall as a piece of art.

I have always enjoyed looking at a physical photograph more than one on a screen. I give it much more attention if its printed, whereas I am guilty of just 'flicking past' or 'scrolling through' images on my phone. Give me those same images in a book or portfolio and it would take me ten times as long to view them I can guarantee.

12 months ago, following weeks of research and indecision I eventually invested in an Epson Stylus Pro R3880. A high quality inkjet printer, and after the initial setting up teething issues, learning about monitor calibration and understanding the difference between reflected and projected light (could be a blog in itself, but a dull one) I was eventually getting results I considered to be as good as, or better than the prints I had been getting from the pro-labs up to then.

Choosing hardware is just the first major decision to make, next is what paper. There are many manufacturers of quality photographic paper, each producing a wide range of finishes and quality. I have settled on papers made by Permajet, Hahnemuhle and Fotospeed, although there are many more available that I am sure are as good. The choice of paper can depend on the image. I like a slightly textured finish on a lustre paper, although Gloss, Matt, Aluminium, Canvas and many more are all available.

So once the image is resized to suit the chosen paper size, the print settings are updated to the profile required for selected paper and printer, its time to press 'print' and watch ....

 

 

 

For this image I used Permajet Photo Art Pearl 280gsm (Size A2) which I trimmed down to suit the panoramic aspect. Panoramic paper is available, as is paper on a roll.

I loved the finished print so much I knew instantly that it had to be framed, but first mounted. Giving the image a nice border really helps to draw the viewers eye to the photograph. Border size is personal choice. Some like a thin border just like a second frame, others like a huge border, bigger than the print to give a contemporary look. My choice is somewhere in between. After some careful consideration I settled on a 60mm border and proceeded to make a mount (Using Daler Antique White (White Core) Mountboard).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the mount board has been carefully cut to reveal the aperture through which the photograph will be seen (making sure theres a slight overlap of 2-4mm. Well you don't want the photograph to be smaller than the hole in the mountboard do you?) an identically sized backboard is needed. This is a relatively cheap thick cardboard. once cut, the mount and backboard are joined using PH Neutral tape to form a hinge along the top. So that it opens like a book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hinge allows you to carefully position the image so that no edges are seen and the print is level in the frame. When you're happy with the photo paper position and have marked the corners, you can attach the print. The print isn't fixed down, it hangs. I make 3 'tab hinges' along the top of the photo paper which i then fix to the backboard. This allows for any movement during the life of the frame. Mounting in this way means that the image is free to float and will not crease or wrinkle as it might if it was simply glued down.

Its now all starting to come together. Now you need a hardboard backing, and some glass. 2mm thick Hardboard is easy to cut to size with a good quality craft knife, so thats easy. Glass takes a little more care and practice. I use 2mm thick non-reflective glass for my frames. A lot use 2mm float glass which is cheaper and lot easier to cut, but I hate reflections stopping me see pictures, so I do what I can to remove these. Cutting glass by hand is still what I consider to be the most difficult part of frame making, and also the most dangerous. Thick gloves and a lot of care must be taken and mistakes are costly. 

Now we need a frame...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The materials supplier that I use stock a mind-blowing amount of wooded and metal mouldings. This is where you can get creative and take total control of the final item you are looking to produce. As this isn't for a customer, I decided to use a light oak moulding that matches my own furniture. The moulding comes in lengths of 2.4-2.6mtrs length so needs to be cut to size. I use a quality mitre saw, and then precision cut the corners using a guillotine type machine that helps to make perfect corner joints. The blade on this machine would easily chop through bone, so It gets a lot of respect from me when using it. At the end of this process you should have 2 long pieces and 2 short pieces (unless your frame is square) with perfectly cut corners, ready for joining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mitred corners are first glued and then joined using stainless steel V Nails all pulled together in a corner clamp and Studio Joiner. Larger operations use a mechanical under-pinner which is much quicker, but a costly investment. Taking your time at this point can make all the difference. Frames are judged on their corners so you need to make sure theres no gaps. Filler is an option, but it can sometimes emphasise the error and look awful. I make my frames in two parts. I join a long and short piece to make an L-Shape and then repeat. When I have 2 L-Shapes I join them together. I find this much easier than trying to join in a clockwise manner as any slight variations don't get as exaggerated. Once you're happy, any excess glue has been cleaned from the frame, you can start to assemble the finished item.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most important stages of assembly is cleaning the glass. This needs to be spotless and free of smudges and fingerprints. I usually end up cleaning both sides twice before I am happy its clean. This might be boring but its worth it as taking the whole thing apart after assembly just to remove a hair is far more annoying. The glass, mountboard, backboard and hardboard are then all dropped into the rebate on the frame moulding. If you're happy its a good fit (It should be if the measurements were right) you can insert tabs all around which will ensure nothing falls apart and doesn't move. I cover the Tabs with a conservation tape, which gives the back of the frame a professional finish. I also add foam bumpers to the bottom corners of the frame (so as not to damage any walls and allow air to circulate around the image), fit the hanging string and of course my website details (well you never know where it will end up). Once all this is done, its time to take a step back and see what all our hard work has produced...

What do you think?

Measuring 750x350mm and ready to grace a wall. The processes above are taken whenever I make a frame. I generally make frames to suit A4, A3 and A2 prints which I make at home. I can make larger items ( I now use Loxley Colour for anything larger than A2 and the service and quality are both excellent) up to  38" wide. Mouldings are available in almost every wood finish you could imagine, so you can really let your creative juices run wild.

Hopefully you can see passed the poor quality images (all taken on the iPhone as I was making the frame) and that this has been an interesting insight into what goes into making a picture for a wall. Yeah its a lot of work, but its rewarding to. If anyone has any questions please feel free to drop me an email and I will try to help out. Thanks again for taking the time to read this blog.

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Art Art For Sale Colour DIY Epson Frame Framing Glass Logan Loxley Permjet Wall Art http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/3/making-a-panorama-from-fell-to-frame---part-2 Wed, 09 Mar 2016 12:16:47 GMT
Making a Panorama (From Fell to Frame) - Part 1 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/2/making-a-panorama-from-fell-to-frame---part-1 In recent months I have been taking more and more panoramic pictures, and I'm not 100% sure where its come from. It might be from memories of my childhood where I used to watch my Dad painstakingly sticky tape his 6"x4" prints together (long before digital was an option), or maybe its because it really is so easy now with modern Photo editing software. I think its most likely to be the fact I have been getting closer to the mountains, where just one shot isn't enough and I want to get as much detail into the picture.

I recently visited Haweswater in the Cumbrian Lake District, a location new to me, but I knew from research online and through books that the views were stunning and that there are a couple of abandoned/ruined cottages that would add some interesting foreground detail. Leaving my Travelodge accommodation at 6:30am I headed towards the exact spot I had decided upon. The forecast when I went to sleep the night before was for cold, clear blue skies with light winds, so the blizzard I had to drive through was both unexpected, but welcome.

Taking it steady because of the conditions I arrived at just after 7am, 5 minutes before sunrise. I usually get to a location a good 30-40minutes before sunrise, but this time I knew that it would take a while for the sun to clear the surrounding mountains, so there was little need to rush. I then had to make my way up the steep 'Old Corpse Road' to get the height needed to make the most of my surroundings, and maybe find those cottages I had read about. I assume that the path, all be it steep, is quite nice in the summer. When its covered in snow, frost and ice its a little bit more interesting and I did feel on more than one occasion that I was stretching my capabilities (I'm not great with heights and edges). 35 minutes after leaving the car I reached my goal.

The view really was superb, made so much better for the dusting of snow. The clouds were low and dramatic and the water on the reservoir surface was still. Having wandered around for 10 minutes trying to find the best position and composition, here the key elements of the picture (The cottages, the tree covered headland and the island in the lake) did not overlap, I fired off a number of shots with my 'go to' lens (Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L 2). I was really pleased with the result, but I felt I was missing out on what I could see before me. I wasn't 100% happy with the fact that the lake disappears out the side of the frame, I felt it made you wonder what was round there, it was only part of a view. I quickly swapped lenses to my 16-35mm f/2.8L 2 super wide angle lens and it helped, but now the distant mountains looked tiny and insignificant. There was only one option.

I swapped back to the previous lens, made sure the tripod was perfectly aligned (most tripods have a small spirit level bubble built in to help), then made sure that the camera was level. I use a cheap additional spirit level on the cameras hot-shoe to do this. With the camera and tripod level I panned the full extent of the scene to make sure there was no slope across the scene. 

For my panoramas I always use the manual settings on the camera. Its important that the camera doesn't change aperture or shutter speed across the images used for the panorama. Its also important to take the white balance off auto. Set it for cloud or shade, shoot in RAW and you can always correct it once you get to your computer. With everything set, focused and ready, I fired off 5 frames, overlapping each one by at least 20%.

I spent as long as I thought I could get away with (I had to get back to work) enjoying the sunlight fill the valley and watching the clouds disappear, then I made the slightly treacherous decent back to the car, and onwards to home. 

Later that evening I uploaded the RAW files to Lightroom6 (My editing software of choice) and allowed it to do its magic. It really is simple to photo merge images like this nowadays. So long as all the images have the same focal length, aperture, shutter speed and white balance, you have allowed enough overlap and some space for cropping, the software does the rest. It takes my mac about 5 minutes to do this, perfect time to put the kettle on and make a brew.

I was over the moon when I returned to find the stitching was complete and the image was just what I had intended when I was on the Fell earlier that morning.

I didn't think the image needed too much processing. I sharpened it, cleaned off two annoying dust spots, added a little bit of contrast and dropped in a slightly graduated sky, just to drag out some details in the clouds. Happy with the look, all that was left was to crop it to size. Aspect ratio is very important when you chose a crop for a panorama (in my opinion). I like 2:1 or 3:1, but nothing more than that. I have tinkered with super wide panorama's, but theres no way to view them properly unless you can print on roll paper or you have a HUGE monitor. In this instance I settled on 3:1. Heres the finished shot...

Haweswater PanoramaHaweswater Panorama Making a panorama is a rewarding process and something I would urge all photographers to at least have a go at. In part 2 I will continue the journey from Fell to frame when I will be printing the image out, mounting and framing it, ready for the wall. In the meantime here are a few more recent lakeland panoramas that were created in exactly the same way. Thanks for reading, and for your continued support.

Catbells PanoramaCatbells Panorama

Castlerigg Stone CircleCastlerigg Stone Circle

Blea Tarn LandscapeBlea Tarn Landscape

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Haweswater Lake District Landscape Lightroom6 Panorama Stitched Panorama Tutorial http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2016/2/making-a-panorama-from-fell-to-frame---part-1 Sun, 28 Feb 2016 17:48:58 GMT
My Favourite Shots from 2015 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/12/my-favourite-shots-from-2015 So its that time of year again when we all reflect on the last 12 months and look forward to the next. Some of us have big plans for 2016, others are happy with how things are going so have no plans at all. Personally I have really enjoyed 2015. I have got to visit some wonderful places, met some amazing people and learned a lot. This is a short selection of shots from the last year that have all been at one time favourites of mine. They're not my 'Top 10' as such (my latest work is always my favourite, and that wouldn't be very interesting as a blog), more of a review of some of the key moments of 2015.

A Trip Down Under

I have been to Australia 4 times now to visit really good friends that live just outside Perth. Its an amazing place, with amazing weather. In Jan/Feb I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks with them, and despite it being the height of summer there I did manage to get out with the camera lots. My favourite shot from the trip was undoubtibly this long exposure of the Boat House on the Swan River just outside of Perth CBD. Its a phenomenally popular spot, but for good reason.

Then down to Cornwall

The county of Cornwall is one rich with photographic opportunities. I love it down there, especially out of season when the roads and beaches are quiet, and the car parking is free (in a lot of cases). In March we (me and the dog) spent a week on the Lizard Peninsular, exploring new locations. It was fantastic, but unfortunately the weather wasn't. It was a week of flat skies ranging from flat dark grey, through to flat mid grey and finally hazy/flat bluey grey. I came back with hardly anything useable, but I did find some great locations for another time. This beach is due another visit, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Roach End Barn

Roach End Barn 1Roach End Barn 1

I think that for as long as I live in the Midlands, the Peak District will be my most popular playground with the camera. I have visited this National Park dozens of times in 2015 and still haven't scratched the surface of it. One of the easiest places for me to get to is The Roaches, just outside the town of Leek. In March/April the sun sets at a time that allows me to finish work, walk the dog, then dash up the M6 to get some shots in before it goes dark. I was particularly lucky with the sky on my first trip to Roach End Barn. A place I went back to more than once this year.

Calm, Still, and Colder than it looks

Blea Tarn LandscapeBlea Tarn Landscape Another National Park I visited a lot this year was the Lake District. A very different landscape to the Peak District with new challenges. Whereas with the Peak District the position of the Sun is important, in the Lakes it can be critical. Sunrise may be at 7am, but if its rising behind a mountain you will still be in shade at 8:30am and have missed the best of the light. I made 4 trips to the Lakes in 2015 and it wasn't until the last one that I think I got it right. This shot at Blea Tarn was one such occasion where I had to wait a full hour after sunrise to get light on the trees on the left of the frame. Fortunately this shot doesn't suffer from the lack of a colourful sky and the reflections make it. Its still one of my favourites now.

Roseberry & Cows

Rosberry Topping and some cowsRosberry Topping and some cows In May we made a last minute decision to spend 5 nights in the Yorkshire Moors National Park. There was no time for planning. It was booked on the Saturday and we were off on the Monday morning. On the first evening after the long drive up the M1, I left Ellen and Eddie in the cottage to chill out and made my way up to Roseberry Topping. Its a place I had seen lots in magazines so knew it would be a popular spot. After a nice chat with a bunch of local photographers I headed up to the top of the hill to make the most of the light. Just after I set up a herd of Cows appeared to perfectly balance the image. Moments like that are rare and special and you try to make the most of them. This image was shortlisted in the 2015 Landscape Photographer of the Year competition.

Back to those Roaches

Roaches PanoramaRoaches Panorama Another afterwork, after dog walk dash up to the Peak District in June. Blessed with good light and a decent sky, this 3 shot stitched panorama makes the most of the dramatic landscape and the view down to Tittesworth Reservoir. It was just after this point that I made contact 'The Gallery - Leek' who now sell my framed work and a good job they do to. Their current record for this shot is 3 hours from display in the window to sale.  

Mount Doom, possibly?

Side PikeSide Pike After three visits to Cumbria where 90% of my shots were taken Lakeside, I decided that I needed to put in a little more effort and find some height. Now I'm not great with heights. My confidence in my own balance is lacking, so don't expect to be seeing shots from razor sharp mountain edges or sheer drops of a 1000feet in 2016, its not going to happen. I will pick my challenges within my limits and do my best. At the end of the day, I do this for enjoyment, not to become a statistic. This shoot was amazing. I only really went up the fell to scout the location for a future sunrise shot, but Im glad I had my camera with me. As the fading light kissed the side of the rocks, and illuminated the valley below I knew I had just taken possibly my favourite shot of 2015.

Autumn

Padley GorgePadley Gorge Magazines, Facebook, Twitter and every other outlet for landscape photography are full of woodland shots in the autumn. However I have found it a lot trickier than it looks. Yes the colours speak for themselves, and if you get a bit of mist to add atmosphere you're over halfway there. But here good composition becomes more important than ever. I follow several photographers that are experts in this field. They take spectacular shots that 90% of people (myself included) would simply walk passed, not even noticing the opportunity. Getting a nice woodland scene that doesn't look cluttered, or chaotic is a skill and art. I will spend more time next year exploring the woods, trying to improve this area of my photography, but for now, this is my best effort from 2015, which is a marked improvement to my efforts from 2014.

Keeping things Simple

The Good Life (Not for Sale)The Good Life (Not for Sale) We (photographers) spend so much time looking for a new angle, a different approach, a fancy processing technique that sometimes we miss the obvious. This scene comprises a Cottage with some trees beside it, some lovely rich Autumn grasses in front of it,  A mountain behind it and a moody sky above. Now I'm sure that if you asked a child to paint such a scene you would get a similar result to what we have here. It works! Its simple, its easy on the eye, it doesn't take a great deal of thought to work it out. Thinking about it now, I almost feel compelled to print it out of stick it to the fridge door.

Shine a Light

Shine a LightShine a Light I had been looking forward to my trip to Skye for 18 months, but as the time came to make the journey north, so did the arrival of the first of the terrible winter storms we have seen these last 6 weeks. In short the forecast was dreadful. After 2 washout days in Glencoe we made the journey to the Hotel on the island and went through the possible locations we would try to visit during out 5 days there. Out of all the locations discussed, the Old Man of Storr was the one I was desperate to go to in good light. The next morning we set off to the foot of the mountain in weather not even a duck would go out in. We parked up and the rain eased off. In the dark we decided to make the walk to the Storr (approx 1 hour) and see what happened. Upon arrival the Storr and the Old man below were shrouded in heavy cloud, and they continued to be so for at least an hour. Then, just as we were about to give up, the clouds began to break and all of our efforts were rewarded. Its not everyday you get epic light at such an iconic location. Somebody was smiling on me this morning.

 

I love photography now more than ever. Not just taking the photographs, but talking to photographers, reading about techniques and locations, viewing others work, buying or just browsing new gear, all of it. There is an abundance of talent that makes my social media pages a pleasure to view every single day. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 12 months.

Next year will be very different. I see it being very busy and this will mean I will probably take less photographs. I have managed to get my head around this, its not a bad thing. I will go out less, but for longer at a time which will hopefully mean the quality of the images will improve as I won't feel rushed, or pressured. I have a list of places I want to visit as long as both my arms, as well as favourites I don't feel I have yet done justice to.

If you have got this far, thank you for your efforts, I hope I didn't go on too long. If you're new to my page welcome. If your a regular, then I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement and engagement. Either way, can I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year, and all the best for 2016.  

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) 2014 Australia Autumn Boat House Buttermere Competition Glencoe Lake District Landscape Long Exposure Old Man of Storr Padley Gorge Peak District Perth Reflections Roach End Barn Roaches Roseberry Topping Scotland Skye Yorkshire http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/12/my-favourite-shots-from-2015 Thu, 31 Dec 2015 11:39:44 GMT
A Trip Across the Border - Part 2 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/6/a-trip-across-the-border---part-2 How emergency service staff, or anyone else that works shifts for that matter survives, is a mystery to me. Landscape photography at this time of year is hard work. After 2 or 3 consecutive early rises I turn into a zombie. The same applies to Eddie, and nobody wants a grumpy beagle. I am sure I am not the only landscape photographer who can't wait for sunrise to happen at a more sociable hour again.

The next location on my wish list was Glen Etive, and eventually Loch Etive. The road through the Glen is approximately 14miles long and a dead end. Its a single track road that twists and turns as it follows the river. It has passing places that are mainly occupied by camper vans overnight, and again our old favourites the suicidle deer that occasionally like to jump out in front of you, usually on a blind bend. I remember my parents falling in love with Glen Etive when we went as a family over 25 years ago, but it was lost on me. So having researched it a little online, I couldn't wait to see it again.

Now I'm not going to say it was a disappointment, but its looking a bit scruffy at the moment. There's a huge logging/deforestation project underway and until thats finished its not going to look its best. I know the area has an economy to keep going, and keeping a Photographer from Walsall happy is low on their priorities, but I just felt they could have left the cleared areas looking a bit better. At the end of the day, I'm sure it will recover, the landscape is very good at that. To avoid the necessary heavy wagons using the narrow road along the Glen, most of the cut timber is transported using water power, and to facilitate the boats a special floating pier has been installed. Its quite a simple but ingenious structure. You can just about make it out in photograph above, taken from the head of the loch.

The forecast for this particular morning was spot on. They had said any low lying cloud would be 'burnt off' early, to be followed by a mostly clear day, and they were right. With this in mind, I knew that I had to make the most of the first few hours of daylight, and I decided to concentrate on using it to its absolute best. I decided to get a bit 'arty' or as I prefer to call it 'creative'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the clouds are low enough to touch, the water provides mirror like reflections, and the light is as good as it gets (at this time of year) you have to make the most of it. It only lasted about 15 minutes. The hues of greens and yellows changing with almost every exposure as the light crept into the valley. I was in my element. Its moments like this that make it all worthwhile. I have never tried fishing, but I would imagine its a similar feeling after all of the waiting around to finally get a bite.

This is my favourite shot from the trip. Its nothing like what I had in mind when I set out for Scotland, but for me it captures a moment in time, and thats all I ever try to do. Lets face it, it could be anywhere, and it could get easily overlooked as there is no obvious focal point. But if you give it a chance and allow yourself to get lost in the pixels you never know what you will find. At this low resolution I expect you would at least spot 2 ducks, but at high resolution theres a cheeky deer in the trees in the distance, having his breakfast (ill prove this only if i have to!).

Light and shade is one of the fundamental necessities for landscape photography. Its as crucial as composition, as without it you have a flat, boring photograph that nobody wants to see. 

Light provides us with shadows, which creates natures own contrast. You can add contrast using software, but it doesn't look natural. Much better to wait around for the real deal.

In the highlands its not as simple as checking what time the sun is due to rise, as more often than not a mountain will block it at some point. So as a 'tourist' it can be a bit hit or miss. I had checked my sun position App (The Photographers Ephemeris) and knew that the Glen was in line to get some good light early on, it was just a case of sticking with it. Im glad I did.

You can do a lot with light and shade. You don't even need a whole mountain to make the most of it. A lot of the time its all in the detail, so get a bit closer, or get out those longer lenses and make the most of it.

 

No photographic journal about a trip down Glen Etive would be complete without at least one shot of the waterfalls in front of Etive Mor, the impressive pyramid shaped mountain that stands at the entrance to the Glen.  I know this shot would be hugely more impressive when there is snow around, murky clouds in the sky, and the rivers in full flow. Its been taken a thousand times already, and will be a thousand times more, so its hardly original, but that shouldn't stop anyone wanting to take a picture (This seems to be a hot topic at the moment, and maybe one for another blog, another day).  Im sure I will visit it again when the conditions suit.

From this point on good light was fleeting at best. Wall to wall blue skies were replaced with wall to wall flat grey ones, so the trip turned into a glorified recconaisance outing. Im not complaining about that, its rare you can just turn up somewhere and instinctively know where you're going, so the groundwork is essential. Its just a shame I didn't get more opportunities.

The next few days were spent exploring. Walking Eddie in some of the most wonderful landscapes we have ever seen. He got to spend his Birthday on a beach (his favourite places, but not in the sea) and I tried to keep his time in the car to a minimum. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I drove away from Glencoe, disappointed with the shots I had taken. I felt that somehow I had missed opportunities and ended up having a glorified jolly, minus sleep. It was only when I got home and started to edit the shots that I realised the lessons that I had learned. The importance of light, the majesty of scale etc. Also the new knowledge that I have for the location. You could spend a week just in Glencoe with the right conditions and fill an album. In fact there are books on the glen packed with stunning images, all within walking distance from the A82. I have a notebook full of reference points, places of interest, where to park the car and so on, that will come in useful at another time. Its not simply a case of "rocking up and taking a few snaps" to get a good shot. It takes patience, planning and a dose of good luck. Then one day, you will be rewarded by being in the right place at exactly the right time. 

I hope you have enjoyed this 2 part blog of my trip. I hope it has been informative and interesting, and even if you're not interested in photography, you have at least enjoyed the pictures. Please feel free to drop me a line using the 'Contact me' feature of the site if you have any questions. Also, you can follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/davefieldhousephotography and twitter @davefphotos

 

 

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/6/a-trip-across-the-border---part-2 Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:21:47 GMT
A Trip Across the Border - Part 1 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/6/a-trip-across-the-border---part-1 My parents decided to spend my Fathers 75th Birthday in Lochleven, on the fringes of Glencoe, a place we had visited many times as a family when I was growing up. Of course then I was more interested in Lego and Star Wars movies than in landscape and photography, so much of the beauty of the region was wasted on me.

However in recent years, I have read more and more about Glencoe, and the mecca it is for landscape photographers. So, when my parents said that the holiday cottage they had rented had a spare room, and more importantly dogs were allowed, I knew I had to make the 370mile journey north, and Eddie was coming with me.

Now summer landscape photography takes a lot of effort. The sun rises at about 4:30am, but its getting light a full 40 minutes before then. This far north it barely goes dark at all, so in order to maximise the best possible light the alarm needed to be set for 3:15am.  Placing all of my faith in the forecasts from the Met Office (amongst others), we headed for the first location on the wish list.....Rannoch Moor, for what we hoped would be a colourful sunrise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the colourful sunrise didn't happen.

I arrived on the banks of Lochan na h-Achlaise at just after 4am, and believe it or not, I wasn't alone. Another photographer had a similar idea to me. we were both a bit surprised with the complete lack of visibility, but Landscape photographers are generally optimistic, so we both decided to stick around until the mist had been burned off by the suns warm rays.

There was something eerie about the loch, the tiny islands and the mist. Despite being disappointed at not being able to see the mountains, I was soon transfixed by the ghostly shapes. The water was perfectly still, so the lochs surface provided mirror like reflections. The above shots are not long exposures, and have not received any excessive photoshop treatment. This is what we saw....until the mist got even thicker.

After 50 minutes, we decided enough was enough, and we would go on to try somewhere else, where we might actually see something. I did return the next morning, when it was much clearer. Like many of the locations I visited, I think this will look a hundred times better in the winter, when the islands become frosty, the mountains more snowy, and the water frozen. This scene will keep for another day....

I headed back up the A82, at crawling speed through the mist. Even at a snails pace I had to (on two occasions) slam on the brakes to avoid deer who seemed hell bent to come to an abrupt end. I was relieved to reach my next planned location, the entrance to Glen Etive and Etive Mor.

(This is not strictly accurate. I had wanted to take some shots of the famous Black Rock Cottage with Etive Mor in the background. Yeah, its been done before, many, many times, but I thought it would look impressive in the morning mist. When I arrived my heart sank, there was no way I was shooting here today. Someone, in their infinite wisdom had decided that the best place for a portable toilet would right outside the cottage wall. Now maybe its a weird way of telling me not to shoot a cliched shot, but I wouldn't have minded it for a personal memory. Another shot for another day...)

Fortunately the thick mist started to clear as the sun got higher. This provided some great light on the foreground rocks. Eddie (the Beagle) was in the car, so I didn't want to walk far from him (he's banned from coming on shoots with me after disgracing himself near Glastonbury last year. Anyway, by this point he had been walked and had his breakfast, so he was ready for a snooze). 

The sun was mostly to my left and behind me, so I was concious that my shadow could cause a few problems.  So checking the ground in front of me before every shot I was confident I had avoided any such problems. It was only when I started to edit the photographs that I noticed a strange halo and what looked like my shadow in the distance. Can you just about make it out in the centre of the image below left?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took a little bit of Google detective work, but I eventually worked out that I had actually taken a photo of strange phenomenon known as a Brocken Spectre (Ghost of the mountain). 

Brocken is a mountain in Germany, which is where the legends of the spectres originated. Its shrouded with superstition, but climbers used to fear that whoever saw a spectre was doomed to die the very next day. Fortunately, this didn't happen, I'm still here.

I spent about 40minutes shooting here until most of the mist had lifted. This is such a wonderful place to take photographs. I had hoped to go back later during the week, but the weather conditions didn't suit, and as you'll see in part 2 of this blog, light was at a premium.

I made a mental note of a few useful compositions for another day. This trip was starting to turn into a glorified reconnaissance mission, but I find thats often the case when you visit somewhere new. I could list many places I have been to and didn't get the best from the landscape...but i'll be going back.

 

It was getting time for breakfast, so I headed back towards Ballachulish where we were staying. At this time of the year the sun is at its highest point in the sky, making the light very harsh. It becomes almost impossible to get a decent exposure just a couple of hours after sunrise, especially with clear skies. The camera was packed away, I assumed until sunset. However.....the mountains infront of me were glowing in the morning sun, and the water of sea loch Linhe was perfectly still. I had to make a detour. The bacon sandwich would have to wait.

I use Lightroom and photoshop for my editing. A recent update of Lightroom (6) has a useful feature for stitching images together to form wide panorama's. This has become quite addictive. The trouble with Scotland is that its so beautiful, its hard to know when to stop shooting. Facing across the loch I started with a shot of a headland with some trees, and some mountains in the distance. I then panned right for one, two, three, four and eventually five and six shots. I thought 'I'll crop that into something sensible later'. 

This is the image in its entirety. I would be more than happy to hear from anyone with suggestions where you could crop it.... Because for me its perfect as it is, but potentially useless. I could never print it out at a reasonable size, and you wouldn't make out any details on social media, such as Facebook or twitter, especially when viewed on a smartphone or small tablet.

 

All in all, not a bad morning, time for some rest and then, maybe a sunset shoot at Appin, back on the shores of Loch Linhe?

I hope you've enjoyed this blog (part 1), the second part of which will follow next week, when I get even more obsessed with good light. Please feel free to use the 'Contact Me' tab if you have any questions, or would like to discuss any of the locations, conditions or subjects touched on above.

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/6/a-trip-across-the-border---part-1 Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:43:56 GMT
Buttermere Reflections on #wexmondays http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/5/buttermere-reflections-on-wexmondays I tend to buy most of my camera gear and accessories from Norwich based online retailer Wex Photographic, who run a Twitter based competition to discover their 'Photographer of the Year'. Its essentially a weekly competition, where you are invited to submit (on a monday) your best photograph from the previous 7 days. The top three images are given points and the photographer responsible for the image then takes his or her place on the leaderboard. This repeats for 52weeks, after which a winner (the photographer with the most points) is declared, and they receive £1500 worth of Wex vouchers.  

I thought I'd give it a go.......

My first attempt failed to place, but I did receive an email from Wex asking me to share some further information about the image in the form of a blog, which is what i am here to do now.

Following a really busy week at work, I decided to treat myself to an overnight jaunt to either the Peak District or Lakes. Dog sitter arranged and beagle despatched, I set off up the M6. I got to Stafford Services, checked the weather and set the Sat-Nav for Cumbria. The plan was to spend the evening around Keswick and Derwent water, then sleep in the car near Ullswater and shoot the Duke of Portland Boat shed at dawn.

As is often the case, things didn't quite pan out as i'd expected. Yes I did wander around Derwent water, and yes I did wake up on the banks of Ullswater, but a last minute decision to head to Buttermere was the what the trip will be remembered for most.

My entry photograph (the one above) is one of many that were taken at around 8am on that morning around Buttermere. I had been to this lake 3 times previously over the last 6 months, only to find it as choppy as the North sea. So when I drove around the last bend, and the lake came into view, I knew I was in for a treat.

Not knowing how long the lake would remain still and mirror like , I started shooting as quick as possible with a wide 16-35mm lens, getting as much of the scene as I could into a single exposure.

The Buttermere BenchThe Buttermere Bench

Now I for one am guilty of standing still when I'm on location, assuming that the viewpoint in front of me must be the best. So on this occasion, I decided to break the habit, and be a bit more mobile, try swapping lenses, different compositions and try to make the most of what was in front of me.

I generally carry 3 lenses along with my Canon 5d Mark3. The 16-35, 24-70 (both f/2.8 L series lenses) and the 70-200 f/4 L series telephoto lens. This covers me for most things I shoot. 

The Buttermere pines, the fishing hut, waterfalls and small groups of trees, all with perfect reflections would have been enough to keep me snapping all day.  But I was working quickly as things were starting to wake up, and movement wasn't far away.

 

 

 

The Photograph that I used as my entry, was one of the last taken that morning. I had the 24-70mm lens fitted to the camera, and I was heading back towards a bench that looked a perfect place for a luke warm coffee from the flask, made the day before. Dry stone walls have an extraordinary appeal to landscape photographers. They're random and crooked and full of shadow and detail, and they can be used as excellent leading lines into a picture. I had walked passed this one and made a note to take a closer look on the way back. As ever, I was shooting with the camera attached to a tripod, but at this point the banks are a lot steeper, and as I was getting closer to the edge of the water, the more I was struggling to keep my feet, and the tripod on dry(ish) land. The shot was hurriedly composed and taken. Quickly checking the live view to make sure it was sharp and the histogram looked good, I scrambling back up the bank onto firmer land. For those of you interested in the technical aspects, the exif details are ISO50, 27mm, f/9.0 at 1/13sec. A 0.3 soft graduated filter was used to prevent the bright sky over exposing.

This set of photographs needed relatively little post production. The RAW files were imported into Lightroom, where the dust spots were removed, the contrast was tweaked, detail was recovered from the shadows, and the sharpness slightly enhanced, ready to print. If it took me any more than 5 minutes to process this image, I would be surprised.

As for a difficulty rating, I'd say it was fairly low, maybe a 6 or 7. The effort was more about getting to the location in time to catch the conditions. Processing was kept realistic, and other than a tripod and a grad filter, no special equipment was required. As with most good photographs, light and composition are king, without those you're lost. But adding complications would not in this case have made for a better end result. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time I had taken the photograph of the bench and sat down on it, the ripples had grown too strong and the reflections were gone. That in itself was quite magical to watch, Almost like a domino effect started from a slight gust of wind, or a paddling duck maybe. 

So, was worth the 360mile round trip and uncomfortable night sleeping in the back of the landrover? Would I do it again? Hell yes, in fact I already have, and I might do it again tomorrow. 

I wonder if one of those shots might be my next #wexmondays entry???

 

You can find out more about the competition here http://www.wexphotographic.com/blog/have-you-got-what-it-takes-to-be-the-wex-photographer-of-the-year-2015  Have a go, its open to all. 

For those interested in following me on twitter, you will find me @davefphotos

 

 

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Buttermere Competition Lake District Landscape Reflections Wex Photographic http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/5/buttermere-reflections-on-wexmondays Thu, 21 May 2015 17:16:27 GMT
Real or No Real http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/2/real-or-no-real A subject for discussion

Photography techniques, and the use of the technology available to us photographers are always great subject for discussion, and sometimes controversy.

A photograph of mine, was recently the subject for discussion in an open letter to the Outdoor Photography magazine (Issue 189/March15). Firstly, I must say that the letter was lovely and complimentary, and the response from the editor of the magazine was perfect. In an earlier publication of this magazine (one of my favourites I might add), they ran a feature on some of the winning photographs from this years Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. My image 'Bright Eyes' was published, alongside another brilliant image of Red Setters on a beach in Sussex.

The Author of the letter felt cheated, when he read that the Red Setter image was digitally manipulated. The Man, and one of the Dogs had been added from separate exposure, the image was a composite. This then caused him to doubt, or at least raise a concern as to the genuine nature of my image with the hare. In short, was the Hare added from another file? This is a perfectly reasonable question, and one I am sure has been muted before about my shot. Let me assure you, this was a genuine moment.

Competitions, like Landscape photographer of the year have strict guidelines stating what you can, and cannot do with your entries. They also have different categories, some allow digital manipulation, some do not. The purists amongst us can be very Anti this technique, but, if you are honest, is it a problem?

So, when to Blend, and when not to.....?

My photoshop skills are limited in comparison to many others, so I have never, until recently attempted to blend two images together. I like a real, natural look to my images, and assumed that I would never need to learn, to make a composite. But even with my style of imagery, I am noticing the 'occasional' requirement of some digital darkroom adjustments.

I have recently returned from a trip to Australia, where I managed many wonderful hours with my camera. At a couple of locations that I visited, I decided to produce a long exposure image (generally referred to as an image taken with a shutter speed longer than 2 seconds). These can be wonderfully calming images, but sometimes nature throws a spanner in the works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old Jetty at Hamlyn Bay, is a perfect example. I loved the simplicity of this shot, and decided that a 30second exposure would be perfect to smooth out the ocean, and make the then dull sky slightly more interesting. The only problem was the constant arrival of seagulls, and the tethered boat in the distance. Both refusing to stay still for so long. 

Straight away I knew that I was either going to have to either digitally remove the offending blurred areas of the image, or take 2 separate shots. 

So thats what I did. Without moving the tripod, a second exposure was taken as soon as the first had been recorded to the memory card. This time much faster, at 1/80second. You can see the second image here>

 

Once back at the laptop, and with the help of a couple of free tutorials on Youtube, I learned to place the long exposure image over the short exposure, and cut through to allow the detail of the sharp seagulls to show through. A little bit a housekeeping to tidy up, and voila, there you go.

SO was I wrong to do this? I was either going to have to remove the seagulls completely (so not what I saw anyway), or settle for an image with smudges on the top of the wooden posts. Its a no brainer.....but I know it couldn't, and shouldn't be passed off as a single image at competition level.

and again...

A similar problem happened with the Boat shed at Crawley. This simply had to be a long exposure photograph, the scene almost screamed for this technique. The problem was, and anyone thats been to Perth will back me up here, its always windy! The flag on the boat shed was never going to sit still, so again I knew I needed two images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see the problem clearly with the photograph on the right. So again, is it wrong to use the same technique as with the Old Jetty, I think not.

Other uses possibly?

There are other occasions where I think this technique would be useful. I shoot a lot of sunrise and sunset images, where the contrasts between light and dark are huge, and often beyond the dynamic range of the camera. In most instances, a Graduated filter can be used to darken the light areas (generally the sky) sufficient to get a correctly exposed image. However, if the horizon isn't perfectly straight, you can end up darkening parts of the image you don't want to. This can be a problem with jagged cliffs and shore lines.

These are some of my favourite images, but with hindsight, would they have looked better if I had taken two shots, one after the other, the first exposed correctly for the sky, the second for the foreground. Then I could have manually blended the two images together. Don't get me wrong, I love both (one is framed on my wall in my hallway even), but could they be better, or is this where we cross the line with deception?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HDR

A similar technique would be the use of HDR of High Dynamic Range. This is where we set the camera to automatically take several exposures, one after the other at various settings. I.e: you would expose for the middle tones, and the camera would take an image 1, 2, or 3 steps under exposed, and the same over exposed. Then, using wizardry it automatically combines the 3 images to create what it considers to be a single, balanced exposure. 

This is a marmite technique. I personally don't like the look that this gives 9 times out of 10. Very skilful photographers can use this technique well, and you would never tell it was a HDR image. But in the majority, it is very obvious, and not to my taste. Im not knocking it, its just not for me.

A case for honesty & the spirit of Photography

So, this is all just my opinion. When there are no better alternatives, blending is a perfectly good way to prevent a photograph being spoiled by elements out of your control, but you can never claim its a single exposure. Should I have walked away from the Boat shed at Crawley, just because I knew the flag would ruin the image I wanted? of course not. Would I enter it in a competition where blending isn't allowed, of course I wouldn't. 

And finally, back to the hare in my image 'Bright eyes'. On the left, my final artwork, and on the right a snapshot of the back of the camera, showing the raw file from the shoot. Ill never delete this image from the memory card, in case this discussion crops up again. I see nothing wrong with using technology to help in certain circumstances, but adding random detail, (which adding the hare would have been) to create magic that simply wasn't there, would, in my opinion not be right, and this would be where I would draw the line. Its all about the spirit of photography. I take, what I hope people consider to be realistic landscape images, adding something alien would not be in the spirit of this genre of photography.

Bright EyesBright Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for bearing with me on this subject. I hope the above has been useful and maybe thought provoking? I hope I haven't caused any offence or shattered any illusions. I would love to hear opinions from other photographers and lovers of photographs in general. This will be a discussion for debate for years to come

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) Blending Dynamic Range HDR Long Exposure Movement http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/2/real-or-no-real Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:52:18 GMT
Best of 2014 http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/1/best-of-2014  

My Top 10 from 2014 (well 12).

I was recently asked to put together what I felt were my best 10 photographs from the last year. Being my usual awkward self, I decided 12 was a better number, so here you go. They're not strictly my favourite 12, but they show a good spectrum of the work I have been doing, and a development of a style. Hopefully this will continue into 2015.

The photographs are listed in chronological order, its almost a Calendar (Project for later in the year). These images have all, at some point been my favourite. Its been great going back through the archives to choose the images, I hope you like my choices.

Can I also use this Blog to wish anybody that reads it, a Very Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2015.....Lets make it a good one.

Cheers

Dave Fieldhouse

 

1) Lichfield Cathedral at Night

LichfieldLichfield

Im a big fan of reflections and this pool in Lichfield offers some great ones at sunset. It was a particularly chilly evening, but the sunlight had been good, and there were just enough clouds around to make the sky interesting. As happens so many times at the critical moments, the sun disappeared behind the remaining clouds on the horizon, and the wind picked up, creating choppy water, blitzing the reflection. Feeling a little disappointed with the conditions, I decided to play around with my new 10-stop ND filter, and here is the result. I could have corrected the blue colour cast created by the filter, but I felt it helped to illustrate the coldness of the night. I guess the lesson that I took from this outing was that plan B is sometimes better than Plan A (this happens a lot I now find). 

2) Sunset on Iceland

I decided to be extravagant and treat myself to a photography trip to southern Iceland in February. A six day trip that fuelled my passion to be behind the lens. The trip was lead by professional photographers Ross Hoddinott and Mark Bauer, and their subtle words of advice improved my compositional skills overnight. I cannot praise these guys highly enough, and I am pleased to now be able to consider them friends. Picking just one image from this trip was hard work, but this is my favourite. You only get to see sunsets like this a handful of times a year, and having your camera with you at the right time and place is even more of a rarity. The black sands of Vik create the perfect contrast...I just love this one.

3) Gwithian and Godrevy

The cliff tops along this beach are a favourite for me and my Dog. We have walked them many times during 2014, and enjoyed more BLT sandwiches from the Godrevy Beach Cafe than I care to remember. Its a great spot, managed brilliantly by the National Trust. I can easily wear Eddie the Beagle out, before wandering down on to the rocks or beach to 'do my thing' as the sun sets over St.Ives. I always time my visits to coincide with low tide when the rock pools can act as a mirror to the sky. Theres usually only a handful of people on the beach, and maybe a dozen surfers making the most of the last of the light. This is heaven for me.

4) Dinosaur Egg Beach

Nanven at DuskNanven at Dusk

I had seen photographs from Porth Nanven in magazines and some of the 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' Books. It looked amazing, so I had to go and find it. The boulders make the perfect foreground interest, and if you time your visits well, the sun sets in just the right spot. It can be a tricky beach to climb on (theres no walking on the sands here), so you need to check the tide times before you get engrossed in your craft. This is another location I have shot many times in 2014, and found it hard to pick just one image. The subtle, warm tones of this one made it a favourite for me though.

 

5) Bright Eyes

Bright EyesBright Eyes

My most successful photograph to date, and the winner of the 'Classic View' in the 2014 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' competition. I think enough has been said about this image by now, so ill keep this entry short and sweet. 

6) Priests Cove

Out of darkness (comes light)Out of darkness (comes light)

The planning of my trips to Cornwall can be likened to that of a military operation. I get out the tide charts, check the sunrise and sunset times, even consult the Ephemeris to see the exact position of the sun at some of my favourite locations. I do as much as I can, but can never predict the weather more than a day in advance. This particular week in September was frustrating beyond belief. It was unseasonally warm and sunny, and with that warmth came very poor clarity of light. However on the final day of the trip the rain moved in big time, clearing the air. I thought it was going to rain all day until mid afternoon when it stopped and the sun tried to break through. It never quite managed it, but this 90second shot benefits from the moody sky, and remains one of my favourites from 2014. 

7) Business down South

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The sea defences around the UK always make a good subject for photographers, and as such are shot to death by us. But I still find them interesting. I decided to compose this image with the 'Groyne' off-centre, and keep the shutter open for a couple of minutes to blur the clouds and smooth out the ocean. The sharpness of the grain in the wood and the sandy beach contrast well against the lack of detail in the water. This was one of the rare occasions where the day job provided a great photo opportunity. 

8) A field of Wild Poppies

What isn't to like about wild flowers on a perfect summer evening, except this year the poppies served as a reminder of events of 100 years before. These splashes of red dotted around the countryside became a symbol of remembrance to the brave soldiers that gave their lives in conflict, particularly the so called 'Great War' in 1914-1918. I remember this photoshoot well. Despite the proximity to a very busy road, there was an enormous feeling of peace as I quietly took my pictures.

9) A wet and windy trip to the Lakes

Buttermere had been on my radar for months, so I planned a trip to the great lake to fit in with work and the availability of dog sitters (my dog isn't well behaved so is banned from most photoshoots). What I hadn't banked on was the tail end of Hurricane Gonzales coming in to try and blow me away. Unfortunately the trip was cut short after just 2 days, but I did manage to find some great spots for another time. 

10) Autumn

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By the time I managed to get back to the Lake District I had almost missed all of the autumnal colour. But on a still November morning just outside of Keswick, the mirror like surface of Derwent Water helped to double what colour there was left. I see many houses and cottages in picturesque locations during my travels, but this one is my favourite so far. How lucky you must be to wake up here every morning. I spent about 4 hours walking around the shores of this lake around sunrise. Not a bad way to start your Sunday.

11) Back Tor

On the morning the results were announced for Landscape photographer of the year, I decided to meet up with a photographer friend close to the location where my winning shot was taken. We had a great walk in very mixed conditions. When the sun did come out at around 10am, we had wandered as far as Back Tor. The golden light illuminated the side of the tor brilliantly, so we hastily began shooting. It was only when I got back to my computer that I noticed the breaking cloud on the summit. A nice little extra that gives the shot some atmosphere. Maybe this one is a bit 'Arty' to be considered wall-worthy to most, but its still one of my favourites of the year, for many reasons.

12) Winter

A picture I decided to call 'High Peaks, Low Temperatures'. This isn't intact a mono conversion, but a colour image, although the only colour evident is the green grass around the trees in the distance. I like this image as the conditions show off the naked trees to their best. Ordinarily the detail of the bare branches would be lost in the background, but with the snow and mist, they stand out lovely. Its actually a couple of photographs stitched together, something I will be doing more of in 2015. This was taken on my way home. Im glad I decided to stop the car and get the gear out again.

And so we get to the end of what turned out to be a pretty fantastic year. I ended 2014 with my enthusiasm for photography even greater than when I started 2014. I have learned so much over the last 12 months, but theres still so much more to discover. Most of all, I have enjoyed it, and thats got to be the main thing.

 

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davefieldhousephotos@hotmail.com (Dave Fieldhouse Photography) 2014 Autumn Bournemouth Cornwall Hare Hope Lake District Landscape Photography Lichfield Cathedral Peak District Seasons Sunrise Sunset Winter best of landscape photographer of the year http://www.davefieldhousephotography.com/blog/2015/1/best-of-2014 Fri, 02 Jan 2015 12:56:23 GMT