Month: April 2011

17 Apr

Through The Trees

As it was a high tide at sunrise today, I set off for Budleigh Salterton with a preconceived view of the sun rising through the trees on Otterton Ledge, as it does at this time of year. What I really wanted was an interesting sky, but the forecast was for fog. Never mind, I thought, and my preconceptions turned to a shot with the sun peering through the mist, but when I got there there was no fog and the sky was empty, so I had to concentrate on foreground instead.

Its getting to that time of year when I’m going to have to change photographic tack, with dawn ever earlier and empty skies becoming the norm. Maybe time for some bluebell shots over the next couple of weeks.

Sunrise over Otterton Ledge

09 Apr

Squeezed out by the seasons

Now that the sun is rising north of true East, there are fewer places on the south coast to go to for early morning photography. This morning I decided to go to Dawlish Warren as the tide was too low for my default location of Budleigh Salterton, and I figured that the sun rising over Exmouth and a bit of early morning haze, helped by a Saharan dust event might give an interesting red sky over the groynes which this beach is famous for.

The best light was before dawn, with a pastel red haze in the sky. A bird taking a rest and sitting motionless for 30 seconds helped my favourite shot of the day.

Early morning perch

Daybreak Starburst

05 Apr

I’m Liking Silver Efex

Somebody recently recommended Nik Software’s Silver Efex to me for producing monochrome images. Well, I thought, the last thing I want is to buy yet another expensive plugin to layer on top of already purchased expensive software but, being a curious type, I went to the Nik website and downloaded the 15 day demo. Three days in and I’m loving it, and am already not looking forward to next Saturday when it stops working.

Using the software via Photoshop is simple, presenting itself as an option on the Filter menu. Once loaded, there are a number of easy presets on the left hand side of the screen which range from dark to light effects, subtle to garish, soft to harsh. I’ve found that it takes a little time to calculate updates when a preset is selected but on balance this is a small price to pay. In the middle of the screen is the image preview itself, while on the right is the full control set with global settings for Brightness, Contrast, and something called Structure which seems similar to the mid-tone contrast of the Lightroom Clarity control. There are also local settings, using what Nik calls u-points but I’m finding these harder to get to grips with, as I’m used to applying grad filters not circular adjustments. Film grain and coloured filters can also be applied globally, with finishing effects such as vignettes and borders also available.

I’ve only really had a cursory play so far, but I’m really liking the tonal range it gives me without encountering some of the monochrome conversion artifacts I always seem to produce in Photoshop. It could be argued that I’ve been a bit broad brush with my experimenting so far, having been seduced by the effects on offer, but I’m really really liking it. Whether I’ll like it enough to part with cold hard cash after another 12 days is another matter though ….

Rows of cloud above a row of beach huts at Walberswick, Suffolk. Processed with Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro 2
04 Apr

Megalithic Scorhill

Back in February, we took a family trip to Scorhill (pronounced scoril) stone circle on the Eastern edge of Dartmoor. The photos have lingered on my hard drive ever since, until a friend recommended Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro software for doing monochrome conversions. It seems an incredibly powerful piece of software and makes monochrome conversions a breeze. These two photos are my first attempts at playing (admittedly without too much thought) with the 15 day free demo. I’ve deliberately processed them dark to accentuate the wildness of the moor.

Whether I can afford, or justify, the 160 quid to take the software beyond 15 days is another matter, but I think I would have found this very useful for my mono picture a week challenge last year.

03 Apr

When that pre-conceived shot doesn’t happen

Having checked the tide times and sunrise time and angle earlier in the week, I thought that the best course of action this weekend would be to head inland to Turf Lock near Exeter. I had a pre-conceived shot in my head of the boats moored near the Turf Lock Hotel reflected in the still waters of the canal against a fiery sunrise sky. The weather forecast was looking touch and go all week, and on Friday night the forecast for Saturday morning looked bad (and that turned out to be a good forecast), with Sunday looking the best bet of the weekend. Come Saturday night the forecast had changed to overcast with the chance of rain so my hopes fell.

However, I woke up on Sunday morning at 5:30 and thought “what the hell”. I got out of bed and headed towards Exeter. Half way there I ran into rain and added “am I doing?” as a suffix to my previous exclamation. However, I persevered and got to Turf lock half an hour before sunrise, found a viewpoint clear of reeds, set up the tripod and waited. There was a clear sky above me and the earlier rain was staying to the North. Maybe I would beRead more

02 Apr

Long exposure at Axmouth

Following the clock change last week, I was really looking forward to getting up this morning for a spot of landscape photography, and I want to make the most of the next few weeks before sunrise gets really early again. I checked the weather forecast and it looked touch and go, but thought I’d get up anyway. So, come 5 o’clock I surfaced to look out of the window. Cloud. A quick check of the forecast again on the web. Cloud, to be followed by rain. Grumpily I went back to bed and dozed until woken by our 2 year old a few hours later.

I had the photography bug and wanted to get it out of my system, so I referred to my list of potential long exposure locations, and chose Axmouth. Having persuaded Helen that a family trip to the seaside was in order, I snuck the camera and tripod into the car boot and off we went.

For the umpteenth time this year I was not alone with my tripod, having to share a spot with the rather talented Mark Voce. However he was not impressed with the conditions and chose not to Read more