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In the depths of Winter

February 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

What crazy weather we have been having this winter. Fog and Fog and even more Fog. The weather has been so benign, hardly any frost or snow. Still it's made for some interesting winter landscapes. I have been out on a few occasions since I returned from the Falklands, and found shooting the Fog so frustrating, as there is no pattern to it, nor does it do what you want it to. I went out yesterday -3 in Derbyshire and the fog so thick in parts you barely saw anything over 50 metres away. I tried to find a break in it as I knew the dawn would be special, found a decent spot over by Alsop en le Dale, got the drone up in the air, even though I kept getting warning notices that the batteries were cold and that performance was being limited, so I flew it out to where I thought I could get a decent image from, it was 150 feet up and in a waiting hover, the sun finally broke for a few seconds, then the fog rolled back in. I took half a dozen images.

Image taken with the Dji Inspire Pro with Zuiko 12mm

Alsop en le Dale DerbyshireSunrise though hill fog

It took a further 12 miles or so before I found the edge of the fog, and was rewarded with some spectacular light. A quick stop and whipped out the Mamiya 645df with the 210mm, I was after some compression and minimum depth of field, the telephoto is one of my most used lenses when out in the field. The Mamiya 210mm is perhaps not quite long enough for me, but its a great lens for an oldie, very sharp. Not as contrasty as the new digital designed lenses, but has a nice quality to how it renders objects.

Image taken with Mamiya 645df with Phase One P21+ back. 210mm AF

Beech Trees in the foglayers of fog near Pikehall

So the mad dash continued, thought Minninglow may be interesting. When you see rolling fog like this the light can change in seconds, a chink of sunlight last only a few moments before it's smothered by the grey blanket.  It certainly is quite exciting chasing around like this.

Image taken with the Mamiya 210mm Minniglow Hilllayers of hill fog near Pikehal,l Derbyshire

My last image of the morning was perhaps the most excting, a little knoll and a tree appeared around a bend in the road, the sun was just trying to break through, quickly setting up with a 35mm having chucked the X trail into a partial ditch, I managed a few frames before the light went completly.

 

Mamiya 35mm MF with Lee ND Grad

Sun breaks through the fogOn the road between Pikehall and Parwich Derbyshire

I tried to get a more detailed shot of this little Hawthorn tree but the light just got worse. I waited for awhile but I knew that by the time it cleared the sun would have moved out of the frame. A place to go back and explore further though.

 

Image taken with the Maiya 645df 35mm MF lens In the gloom of winter

The above image was shot just a few moments after the amazing burst of sunlight, thats how quickly the light can change. Always be prepared to move from your initial choice of photo location, as 9 times out of 10 the weather will do it's best to screw up your day.

 

My last frame of my morning outing was of a small copse. Quite like the contrast of the trees against the fog. Thanks for reading and your comments are always welcome.

Small copse in the fogA freezing cold morning near Parwich Derbyshire


Apologies

February 01, 2017  •  1 Comment

Yep I have an apology to make, I've been missing in action for several months, kept meaning to update my blog, then something got in the way, then it became harder for me to write a catchup on my work. So apologies for that.

So whats new ?

I'm using medium format

Returned to The Falkland Islands after 35 years.

Had a wonderful Autumn

Flying a Drone

Got Married

This is no particular order by the way, and of course getting married was by far the best thing that happened to me (honest dear). So plenty to write about and catchup on.

The move to Medium format for me was a tough move, especially as I've waxed lyrical about how much the Fuji system is such a joy to use when out in the landscape. However I have had this thought in my head for sometime, that despite Fuji's attempt to bring the analogue style shooting concept back into fashion, they keep making the cameras seemingly more complex with loads of bells and whistles that I don't really need. When I look back at my first Fuji (X100) it was quitea simple camera to operate. Looking at the latest iteration the XT2 it has got so many features that for me it has become far removed from what I really want a camera to be.

I want a simple picture taking machine one where you set the aperture and shutter speed according to your requirements, set the focus point and press the shutter. Simple isn't it? thats all I require, for the majority of my work I don't need Live view, hundereds of focus points, programme modes and the like. I want a machine that gives me a good exposure, has good build quality and delivers nice image files. Bearing this in mind I began looking at medium format as the way to go. I settled with a Mamiya 645DF coupled with a Phase One back a P21+. The reason for choosing this back was simple it had a great reputation for delivering very good colour files, albeit at the expense of low ISO use only. Allowed me to take images upto 1 hour long, great build quality, and an ease of use in its menu system that a child could operate. One other factor was that although this is quite old tech, the back when it was new cost about as much as a decent car. Nowadays they are quite cheap and as an investment make so much sense. You can change the back without losing the camera, you can scale up the back to a higher MP rate at any time. Plenty of lenses to go at, both old Mamiya manual focus, as well as the newer tech from Phase One. You still get AF if you want it, you can get leaf shutter lenses which allow for higher flash synch.

The Mamiya 645 system has been around for ages, and has a good reputation, the 645Df is built like a tank, and yes it's a weighty beast, so hand held only in super light conditions. It's pretty much stapled to my tripod, its very rare I shoot handheld, although on a recent London workshop I took, I did shoot it hand held mainly with a 210mm and I was pretty pleased with the results. The one caveat I have is that mirror slap at low shutter speeds is an issue, so I usually shoot mirror up mode, tripod mounted, cable release. The Mammy is so easy to use, set it in manual and use the dial to set shutter or aperture. The exposures are pretty good. Although now I have the benefit of a super light meter, as an aid to exposure measurement, and comparative results show the camera is pretty much on the money exposure wise. It has been such a joy to use, simple no fuss photography.  My favourite lens at the moment is the 35mm MF given the crop factor of the Phase One back this equates to around 23mm in 35mm terms. No super wide angle I know but the widest lens on offer is well over 2k and is outside my budget at the moment. Though the 28mm Phase One lens is very very nice. Some recent images shot using the Mamiya 645df and Phase One P21+

 

 Images taken using the Mamiya 35mm MF

Sunrise Ratcliffe on Soar

Dawn breaks River Tame Staffordshire

Old Barn Peak Dsitrict Derbyshire Images taken using the 45mm AF

Autumn colour swirling leaves Padley Gorge Derbyshire

Autumn Padley Gorge Derbyshire

Dawn small meadow pond Satffordshire

Image using the 210mm AF

Storm over Winnats Pass Castleton Derbyshire

 

I am sure you will agree the colour rendition out of the Phase One is quite stunning, even for old tech I am using colours are the best I've seen. In fact I shoot very little monochrome with this combo. My Fuji kit is still with me and I won't ever give that up in a hurry, I still have weddings to shoot :) My next blog will be covering some City shooting in London. Thamks for reading, please post a comment, any questions just ask.


What an Autumn

October 28, 2015  •  1 Comment

As a photographer I just love Autumn, the colours,  and the light are simply wonderful things to experience. Days are drawing in now the clocks have gone back, spent a few hours out earlier this week, started out in typical Peak district fashion of real gloom over the hills, then the sun broke through and the real magic of Autumn came out. A few images from the day, all taken with the fuji Xt1 combination of lenses 55-200, 18-55, and 35mm.

Stoney Middleton



Autumn in the peak

October 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Well it's my favourite part of the year again, and have been out and about with visits to Curbar, Padley Gorge, Burbage amongst others. Trying to capture the autumn colours, the weather has been a bit hit and miss, wonderful days found me stuck in the gallery biting at the leash. When i did manage a few hours out the weather was less than inspiring. Still I think I've managed to convey the autumn mood.

River Derwent reflections Shades of autumn River Derwent bridge at Calver

River Derwent at calver The River Derwent is a beautiful and quite tranquil place to spend an hour or two exploring it's banks. Fuji Xt1 with 55-200 and 10-24 lenses.

 

Silver Birches at Burbage


Dungeness visit

October 16, 2015  •  1 Comment

I have been wanting to visit Dungeness for quite some time, it's a fair old trip to get down to the south coast from Derbyshire. So last Sunday Trudy(my long suffering partner) and I decided a trip to the coast was needed. After some gentle hints and we were off to Kent. Had a fantastic day, the late September weather was perfect for a day at the coast.


Decaying boat Dungeness

Dungeness is a strange but quite wonderful place to visit, Ok I know it's got a Nuclear power station by it, but the landscape is just incredible. I would think on a raw winters day it would be quite foreboding. It's seems that the place over the years has attracted all types of flotsam and jetsom, the decaying hulks of old boats and fishermans sheds provides a wonderful photographic opportunity. You can easily understand why its been used as a location for film and TV.

The scattered remains of livelyhoods litter the shingle beach. All the images taken on the Fuji Xt1 using 10-24mm and 55-200mm lenses.

Lighthouse Dungeness

 

 

Nowhere to go, DungenessAn empty horizon

abandoned boat DungenessFootprint in foam


Just itching to get out

August 11, 2015  •  1 Comment

Since I got back from my French trip to shoot the lavander in Provence, I have been pretty busy in the gallery catching up with orders, I've been dying to get out to shoot some images. However as usual time and weather have conspired against me. I made plans to go out yesterday afternoon, settling on having a wander up the River Wye, an area I had not been to before, strangly enough!

The weather looked menacing on on the way it absolutely stonked it down, perhaps this was not a good idea. Pressing on I stopped off at a small group of trees I have often wanted to shoot, they always remind me of poodles. The view from up the hill was cracking and I could see right to the end of the Dove Valley, and Ax edge moor beyond.

The upper Dove ValleySky just clearing after a massive rainstorm

The hills of Parkhouse and Chrome centre of image. Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

Trees and meadowland

The Poodle trees against a clearing sky, Fuji Xt10 10-24 mm with nd grad

I eventually found a space to park the car, expecting the place to be busy, I was amazed to find I had the entire river to myself. The day turned out to be warm with some fantastic sunshine which provided me with some enchanting light. I was amazed at how dark it became under the tree canopy, it was a lovely  winding walk up the river eventually reaching Litton.

The weir at Cressbrook

The weir at Cressbrook with the famous Rubicon wall in the background, Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

Weir closeup Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

 

A Swans feather Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

Wild Chervil (Cow parsley)

Contre jour lighting the webs amongst Wild Chervil, Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

Worker Bees on Wild chervil

Worker Bees on Wild chervil, Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

The River Wye at Cressbrook The River Wye at Cressbrook, Fuji Xt1 10-24mm (Velvia Setting)

Contre jour lighting this leaf study, Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

 

A smaller River Wye at Litton A smaller weir on the River Wye at Litton, Fuji Xt1 10-24mm I love the colours in this image.

The limestone provides a nice canvas for this flower study Fuji Xt1 55-200mm


A small pool of light spotlights the vivid green of the Ivy, Fuji Xt1 35mm 1.4

Submerged tree stump reflections Fuji Xt1 35mm 1.4

Green on green leaf study Fuji Xt1 35mm 1.4

A tiny pool of light highlights the simple elegant beauty of this grass study. Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

The light just catching these grass heads provides the right contrast for this study, Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

Reflections captured with the Fuji Xt1 and the marvellous 55-200mm

Dead tree contrasts perfectly against the warm tones of the limestone Fuji Xt1 55-200mm

Rubicon wall basks in the late afternoon sunlight Fuji Xt1 10-24mm

Dappled sunlight highlighting this group of wild chervil Fuji Xt1 55-200mm.

 

It was perhaps the nicest couple of hours I've had in the Peak so many shooting opportunities made for some interesting studies. It's quite weird but one of my most used lenses when out shooting in the landscape is the 55-200mm. Since the new firmware version updates to the Xt1 this lens snaps into focus everytime.

I think this place will be lovely in autumn, I will look forward to going again, when the leaves start to change.


A couple of days in Canary Wharf

June 13, 2015  •  1 Comment

Last month I was fortunate enough to have a couple of days away in Canary Wharf London. I was looking forward to shooting some images of this iconic city landscape, a far cry from the hills and moors of Derbyshire.

The place is simply fantastic, a miniture city in itself, glass, steel and concrete structures soaring into the sky. Housing thousand of workers who swarm in every day. Its a great testement to the vision of turning this once run down and forgotten part of London, into something resembling Manhatten. I was fortunate enough to be given a couple of days of brilliant weather. Which worked so well for me and the images I had in mind. Not once during the 2 days did I encounter any hostility to me shooting images around there.  My kit for the visit comprised of Fuji Xt1 and X pro 1 bodies, 10-24mm, 55-200mm, 35mm and 18-55 lens.This was all packed into my F stop Gura backpack, possibly the best bit of kit I have owned for carrying and comfort. Combined with the small size and weight of the Fuji X cameras and lenses, I was totally comfortable with carrying this gear around on what became 2 very warm days.

Using the Xt1 and the X pro 1 leaves you totally  unnoticed by everyone, I just looked like a tourist. Its such a pleasure to shoot with these amazing little cameras, I'm certainly looking forward to the new updates to the firmware in June, I think the updates are going to address a number of issues that people have been waiting for to be reolved, and will certainly give Fuji a breather until the next itineration of cameras comes along. I certainly don't feel the need for more and more megapixels, I print large for the gallery and find the files from the Fuji to be able to resize very well. I find the quality of the X files so easy to manage in post processing, I want to be out shooting images, not sat behind a monitor for hours on end.

On an end note I found the whole trip away from my usual subject matter to be so refreshing., it's nice to be able to shoot something different, and another visit is definately on my to do list for this year.

Canary wharfe skylineImage taken from Greenwich penisular Canary Wharf Tube Station reflections caught by the new crossrail terminal


Parkhouse and Chrome Hills

April 21, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

  I've been wanting to visit these hills again, its been awhile since i was last over that way. The weather yesterday was fantastic, a lovely warm spring day, with a incredible blue sky and wisps of high Cirrus cloud. Ideal weather for some serious monochrome photography. Leaving the car in the little village of The Earl of Sterndale, I made my way thorough the numerous gates and out across the pastures until I reached the Gluttons Farm. Parkhouse and Chrome HillsThe upper Dove Valley

Once through the farm I struck upward until reaching a small copse, then walked up the spine of Parkhouse Hill.  What fantastic views it gave me, the breadth of the Dove valley and the spine of Chrome Hill. Mind you the midges were out in force, and quickly swarmed around me due to it being a near windless day.

Parkhouse HillThe upper Dove valley Chrome and Parkhouse HillsChrome and Parkhouse Hills

Descending Parkhouse is quite steep, and loose underfoot so care must be taken ! Save for the odd passing car going upto the farm I was totally on my own, in one of the most picturesque locations in the Peak district. It's funny how we call it the Peak comprising mostly of high moorland, that is until you come to Dovedale and see these spiny ridged beauties. Certainly care must be taken in places, especially on Chrome Hill as in places the drop is sheer. Once again the views from Chrome are pretty majestic, and you can see right over Axe Edge moor, and the high quarried face of Harpur Hill.  All the images were made using the Fuji Xt1 and the 10-24mm and 55-200mm lenses.

 

Tree on Chrome Hill Parkhouse Hill Parkhouse Hill Derbyshire


Landscape workshop day

March 31, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Had a great day out with Andrew yesterday, who had journeyed up from Bristol to join me on my Landscape 1-1 workshop. Given the appalling weather over the weekend, I thought it would be touch and go as to the day going ahead. Fortunately the light up at Curbar and Padley Gorge was great, although up on Curbar edge it was a tad windy.

Finished the day off over on Stanton Moor, when the rain fell late afternoon. All in all an enjoyable day with great company, and Andrew came away with some nice images. Will he be a Fuji convert, We shall have to wait and see. Some images from the day. All the images taken with the Fuji Xt1 10-24mm, 55-200mm lenses.

Curber edge to Froggat


Shooting the Eclipse

March 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I was really looking forward to shooting the Eclipse, its such a special event, and one that I was determined to try and include in my favourite Derbyshire landscape. After consulting with my shooting files (the brain)  I picked the place where I thought woud give me the best view to capture it. I chose Curber Edge with those gritstone outcrops, I thought would make a really good image.

Thankfully we had cloud, without it the shoot would be difficult in the extreme, I would have had to overcome a massive exposure difference to retain the elements which were key to the image. The other key factor was to figure out the best angle that would allow me to use the 55-200 mm lens, which would give me a nice view of the Eclipse, plus keeping the elements of the foreground in the frame.

So the drive over to Curber was filled with constant checking of the cloud cover, it was patchy all over tbh, however on getting up on top of the edge, it was very overcast, would we even get a glimpse of the event? As it turned out we had 2 fleeting moments of the clouds parting to show the moon passing by the sun. 

I only shot 60 frames in the 2 hours I was there. Such was the poor light, It was amazing how gloomy it got, and also how cold. waiting for the eclipseview of the curber edge 20th march 2015

Watcher of the skies Fuji xt1 10-24mm

 

Lunar Eclipse of the sun march 20th 2015Eclipse over Curbar edge Peak District Derbyshre The moment the clouds parted Fuji xt1 55-200mm

I was so pleased with the images, that and with a huge element of luck with the weather, gave me the best opportunity to capture an image that encompassed everything I love about the Derbyshire landscape, with a moment that I will never see again.

 

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