Saturday, 12 September 2015

2016 Calendars - The Northern Landscape, Richmond and York.

It's that time of year again where I've got to try to sell some calendars, they've gone down ever so well for the last few years so it's good to push it and keep expanding them! It's always nice to know that so many people will get to look at my pictures day in day out.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Purple Haze

Year after year, heather blooming seems to be something I look forward to the most (along with the first snow) and year after year it always seems to coincide with a period when I can't get out as much as I'd like - usually falling bang in the middle of holiday weeks where I'm travelling to visit family and things, or going to Edinburgh for the Fringe. But this year, I'm coming to the end of this glorious moorland season and I'm actually content... partly because it came late this year and partly because I had fewer distractions... but it seems I've actually made the most of it for once.

Plenty of images for cards and calendars and some of my most popular photos of the year. So here's a very small selection of what I've got, coming from all three of Yorkshire's National Parks... the Dales, Peak and Moors... having visited Sutton Bank, Beamsley Beacon, Embsay Crag, Grindsbrook and Kinder Scout, Higger Tor and Froggatt Edge.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Haze: Friend or Foe?

So often on these warm summer evenings we are confronted with a thick haze obscuring the distant views - we can often guess when this is going to happen and the forecasts are pretty good when it comes to air clarity, but it wouldn't stop us going out even if it was supposed to be horrific. But I often wonder if it really is a bad thing? When the sun is higher in the sky during the first part of the golden hour then I can only agree with the general consensus that it's a horrible thing... contrast is lost, the colour gets blurred into the general whitewash of the photograph and it's difficult to process back to how you saw it. But is it always bad?

I'll begin with something from a little while before sunset - this view out over lower Wharfedale. The first thing you always wonder, and get told endlessly about, is whether or not a polarising filter will help things. This was especially true on this occasion when I wanted to pull every bit of colour possible out of the late blooming heather... so I tried both to see the difference.

It's a close call... you can hardly even see the difference (not hard to guess which is which!)... and this was after much twisting of the filter to get the optimal effect. So this is my first point, polarisers so often do very little in such situations. Mine hardly ever comes out of the bag unless it's wet and the ground extra reflective, which may be controversial amongst landscape people!

The other main problem I have with haze is knowing just where the sun ends. It's okay to let the centre of the sun blow out entirely, it's so bright it's inevitable, but it's much more difficult to find a smooth transition from blow-out to the surrounding sky and even more difficult to decide just where this transition is. As you'll see in the later photo, this is made much easier as the sun gets lower in the sky, and is often much easier in less hazy conditions - but the haze tends to blur the brightness of the sun to an arbitrary extent. In the end I took a couple of exposures to blend together - but when merging them it's always difficult to know just what weight to give to each layer - our eyes adjust so naturally but the camera simply does not, and cannot.

In the end, I ended up coming up with this final image, which is - to my mind at least -pretty much how it looked at the time. It looks unreal, it looks lacking contrast, but it looks how our eyes could see it. 

Overall though, it was horrible to process and still looks a bit dodgy at the end! In contrast to this, however, the later light was indisputably helped by the thick haze - taking the power out of the sun, increasing its pinkness and helping with the exposure no end. The dynamic range, whilst still being too great for the sensor, was much more workable and resulted in some very lovely photos - with the pink colour helping to enhance the heather. The problem here is that the haze takes out a large portion of the direct light we're all used to, but it's still there, just more diffuse. It won't do much good to show you the breakdown of images in this case, but the end product, with much easier processing, looks like this...
The sun-sky transition is much more natural and much more obvious to locate, the colour the sky holds is greatly enhanced in comparison to a non-hazy blue sky day and lens flare is much easier to deal with. 

So whilst I totally agree that haze is very often a difficult problem to deal with... you have to admit, it can sometimes be lovely too.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Yorkshire 5 Peaks

The three peaks just wasn't long enough for me - so I added on Little Ingleborough and Plover Hill to the usual route - along with a detour down to Ingleton Waterfalls and Twistleton Scar. Okay, so Little Ingleborough and Plover Hill are just alternative routes and sub-peaks of two of the main three peaks - but the Little Ingleborough route in particular adds a good amount of extra descent and ascent as you pass near Trow Gill... and dropping down almost to Ingleton adds loads more climbing to the summit of Whernside! So realistically, this is much more comparable to 4 Peaks in terms of both ascent and distance (31.5 miles rather than the usual 24 mile route)... and I rather miraculously -beyond any kind of expectations - completed it in 10hrs exactly. Before I go on, you can see the route below (backwards)...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Realisations upon losing.

Each year I submit my photographs to Landscape Photographer Of The Year and each year, two cruelly short weeks later I get the reply informing me that my photos are just not up to scratch. My initial  reaction is usually anger with a good dollop of confusion - but then it moves on to wondering just why my photos might have missed out.

Friday, 24 July 2015

That time I went to Barcelona

A couple of weeks ago I went on holiday... abroad... a rarity for me. Growing up in a less than wealthy family (too many bloody siblings) and then dragging on this student lifestyle for as many years as possible, I've never been flush with cash. So this holiday would be my first ever aeroplane flight (turns out it's boring) - so we headed off to Barcelona and these are the tourist snaps. It's difficult to have any sort of order with so many photos, so I've just done it chronologically, with descriptions to go along with each day. 

In summary though, Barcelona is an amazing place.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Women In Photography

Over the years I've witnessed numerous conversations, blog posts and articles on the subject of women in photography - but every time those involved seemed (to me, at least) to miss a key point. 

It's good to own a woman for many reasons, but an important one is the blocking of lens flare in telephoto situations... when your long, manly arms just don't have the reach required to do the job adequately. This has been a problem for me, despite being roughly 6' 5", more times than I can count on both hands (one more reason to bring your woman, and her fingers along) - but was never more evident than on my recent wander along the south side of the Swale...