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Spring is with us

April 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A few days ago I took a trip out to Winnats Pass near Castleton to shoot some spring images, I was also testing out a new ballhead for my Gitzo tripod. My old ball head was looking seriously worse for wear cosmetically. I recently visited the Photography show at the NEC purely to go and test a few products I was interested in. Looking for a new ballhead in today's market gives you so many options to think about. I drooled over a few tripod heads the Arca Swiss was a trult fantastic piece of kit but I could not justify the expense. I wanted something that was well made, quite light and that had a very easy and smooth adjustment method. I settled on the Novo CBH 46 which ticked all my boxes. You can find a link for the Novo products here https://www.ukoptics.co.uk/brands

The head itself is extremley strong, and very well built in both fit and finish, it holds my mamiya 645df and Phase One back without any slippage. The arca swiss qr mount is easy to attach and locks into place without any fear of the camera flying off. Its very easy to use and has a level of adjustments that is really smooth, also features 2 panaoramic lock buttons and a easy to see spirit leve' Set up the tripod using the level, lock it off and attach the camera job done. All in all a really nice product and one that I am pleased to be using.

So the test in the field went well even though the wind was quite gusty the whole rig felt really well balanced, even did a couple of long exposures of 4 minutes to see if there was any movement. Nope locked solid this baby don't move. 

The light over the Great Ridge and Mam Tor was contantly changing due to the high wind and clouds, it was nice to see the light moving over the hills as the clouds moved so quickly in the strong winds.

All the images from the Winnats Pass visit were made using the Mamiya 645df Phase One P21+ back, using 35,210mm lenses. ND Grad and Polariser.

 


The best laid plans

March 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

 

 

Having a good plan is always a good approach to getting the best out of the location your intending to visit. I am starting to venture further afield in my photography, as we have such a beautiful country to explore. I had been wanting to go to the Lakes since my last visit to Wastwater a couple of years ago. As usual things and weather get in the way, but this year I have made a promise to escape the confines of Derbyshire and get out to some of my planned locations.

So with a decent weather window I had pencilled in the Langdale Valley, and a disused slate Quarry as my preferred locations, it would suit the sunrise time and the view of the Langdale Pikes are perhaps the most iconic in the Lakes. A 3.30 alarm call got me up and out the door by 4am, and I made good time up the M6 feeling happy with my choice the weather was looking fantastic. An hour into my journey I saw the dreaded motorway closed sign, and proceeded to divert off the M6 due to a lorry fire. This cost me an hour in time, racing up thorugh Windermere and Ambleside I finally made the location well after sunrise, but hey ho what can you do.

As it was the Pikes were under some brooding clouds, I set up shop at Blea Tarn and waited to get some light on the scene in fornt of me. I had opted to shoot some really long exposure frames, but the weather for that first hour was bloody horrible, with strong gusts of wind bringing in a few rain squalls, fortunately I had brought along a rather large brolly which kept the kit dry. The couple of long exposures I shot were trashed as over a preriod of a few minutes light drops of rain found the front of the filter. I was beginning to think that the journey up was going to be a washout. I was getting deeply frustrated, and also a slip on a rather wet bank left me with a soaking wet backside.

The sun then appeared round the back of Lingmoor Fell and the whole valley was lit with this gorgeous light, I was once again a happy camper. Taking advantage of this I moved around various viewpoints looking for good compositions. I was satisfied with what I had managed to capture. I went on to recce a couple more spots for a later visit. Then headed off to find the Quarry.

The Quarry was a fantastic place to visit, and concentrating on getting some abstract images I was not disappointed, the light was getting rather flat though and bt about midday I headed into Castleton to grab some lunch and a brew. The whole of the Lakes was bathed in glorious spring sunshine, and a fantastic blue sky, but for me the day had ended, I like my light a bit moodier. Making tracks back to the M6 i thought I would be home for around 4pm, except the southbound section was closed and the jam I was trapped in would take another 8 hours to clear. I finally got home at 10pm totally spent.

All the images taken, were shot using the Mamiya 645df, using the 35mm, 80mm, and 210mm lenses. The images are 16bit raw files processed in Adobe CC and Lightroom. I used the following filters nd grad .6/.9 and a colour polariser.

 

First light Langdale Pikes, Cumbria


Fleeting Moments

March 06, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Shooting the Landscape as many have discovered is all about Fleeting moments. The weather is undeniably the photographers saviour, as well as tormentor, what you think is going to happen, usually doesn't and vice versa. We had a prospect of some snow last week, the prospect of some snow on higher ground was inviting. The day broke and looked pretty good for some images. I had an idea  that snow would be lying above the village of Tissington, as this is about 800 feet higher than my village.

Snow was around, but the weather was poor, low visability, with little contrast. Some snow was still in the air, and it was bloody cold, so i decided to leave it for awhile.Parked up in a layby on the A515 with a nice hot coffee and waited. I gave it an hour and could see the sun trying to break through. Mad dash to get to a couple of spots I had recce'd earlier, I could not hang about too long as the snow was already thawing. A couple of hours later I was done, the snow had vanished in a blink of an eye. I was pretty happy though I had captured some nice winter snow scenes. Mind you the car was absolutely bogging. An hour of jetwashing when I got home.

Sheep on the Rake near MonyashWaiting to be fed

Mamiya 645 df Phase One P21 with 35mm lens. The sheep thought I was bringing them some feed.

 

AutoWB: 2.94; 1.00; 1.03, Kelvin=5941, Tint=-0.0021

Mamiya 645df Phase One P21, 210mm . Rolling hilside near Pikehall

 

AutoWB: 2.98; 1.00; 1.10, Kelvin=5778, Tint=-0.0059

Mamiya 645df Phase One P21 with 35mm, I have always wanted to take this image with snow on the ground. Worth the wait I think.

 

AutoWB: 2.99; 1.00; 1.13, Kelvin=5706, Tint=-0.0073

Mamiya 645df Phase One P21 with 35mm. Breaking light near Alstonfield.

 

AutoWB: 3.08; 1.00; 1.07, Kelvin=6075, Tint=-0.0063

Mamiya 645df Phase One P21 with 35mm. A small hillside copse near Alstonfield


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