25 September 2014

London revisited - again and again!

 
 


Since my first photographic outing in London in June 2013 I have changed jobs and as a result swapped semi-regular trips to Switzerland with at least monthly visits to the capital. Most of these have been day trips but whenever I'm there on an overnighter I lug my camera and tripod with me.

This has allowed me to explore the city at my favourite time for photography, blue hour / night time. Accompanied by a good friend from university who now lives in the city, we have explored up and down the banks of the Thames, and more recently Canary Wharf, doing long exposures of the city's iconic buildings lit up at night. Of course this wouldn't be the same without a drink or two and a nice meal to round off the odd night away from home.

The following is a small selection and many more can be seen on my website:


 
 

21 September 2014

Iceland - the planning


Iceland is certainly in fashion at the moment and rightly so. It is a landscape photographer's heaven with it's stunning natural wonders that include glaciers, waterfalls and the holy grail: Aurora Borealis!

Couple this with the availability of cheap flights, the short flight time from the UK and the fact it is much more affordable after it was badly hit in the global economic downturn, mean it is no wonder that visitors, and in particular photographers, are coming in their numbers.

It has been on my hit list for a number of years and having secured babysitters for a week I was finally able to convince the wife that a road trip around southern Iceland in the cold would be much more fun than an all inclusive trip to St Lucia! And I'm sure it was!!

I don't normally plan trips in much detail but as there is a lot to see and only a week to see it I decided to do things a bit differently. I contacted a couple of Flickr contacts who I know had been and did a few searches to come back with a list of places I wanted to see. I then plotted them onto a Google map to determine what was possible to achieve in our timeframe while still enjoying ourselves (key was to keep my wife, a non photographer, happy).

As we were going over Easter we also knew things would be busy so I wanted accommodation to fit with my road trip itinerary. The outcome was the Google map below. (The link should take you to the full version). This outlines our itinerary, where we wanted to go, where we stayed (including costs) and some additional things to see along the way.

Pictures will follow in later posts.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zyXLlGSncrTY.kZM1csxtRA4g

 

18 September 2014

Snowdonia with snow

22 March 2014 - Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia
 
Since we first tackled the Crinkle Crags in November 2005, my good friend Big Rich and I have enjoyed a couple of hikes per year in the mountains and hills of the Lake District, Peak District and Snowdonia. I look forward immensely to them and despite the years several things have remained constant. In addition to the pleasure of each others company (hmmm!), I still wear the same hiking boots and carry the same rucksack (yes I'm too tight to buy new ones), Rich will always wear shorts (even in artic temperatures) and we will always have sh!t weather.
 
Another constant is that I've always carried a camera, a 4mp compact Canon A80 back in 2005 to more recently, as my interest in photography has grown, a DSLR and lenses. As a non-photographer Big Rich has always shown patience by waiting while I click away (any excuse for a breather), finding me a waterfall or two (I love them!) and of course being the subject of some of my pictures. (As my photography has improved I've come to learn that some of the best landscape / mountain shots contain people to give a sense of scale).
 
In September 2013 we had a good walk up the Carneddau range - Carnedd Dafydd (1044 m) and Carnedd Llewelyn (1064 m). However, this particular walk in March 2014 was our first attempt to tackle the nearby Glyderau group of mountains in Snowdonia, North Wales. We have faced adverse weather before; from almighty hail, rain, snow and ice to wind so strong it stopped the big man in his tracks! However only once before have we abandoned a walk. This was to be our 2nd time.
 
The wind was strong from the get go but at the base of Y Garn we found it was more sheltered and started our ascent. However about 2/3 of the way up it started to snow, the clouds were closing in and it was getting icy. Soon the tops were all covered in snow and any hope of a view was gone. The wind also became fierce. In days gone by we would have shrugged it off and carried on, neither wanting to be the one to admit defeat! However, we are now both fathers and while only slightly more sensible than 10 years ago, common sense prevailed.
 
It proved a wise choice as back at Llyn Y Cwn the heavens opened bringing rain, hail and snow. The camera got put away and we got a good soaking at the hands of mother nature. We might as well have been swimming in the tarn! Instead we decided to walk around it hoping for it to clear before calling it a day and starting our long journey home!
 
Below: The snowy peaks of Y Garn, Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and out of picture to the left/behind is Tryfan. At their base, just over the rise, is Llyn Y Cwn, a nice tarn. At this point all we faced was a bitter and powerful wind...  
Below: Llyn Y Cwn
Below: Looking back towards the Ogwen Valley. Tryfan on the right.
Below: Llyn Y Cwn and the Glyders.
Below: The mountain direct centre is Tryfan (3010 feet). The lake on the left is Llyn Idwal and the one on the right is Llyn Y Cwn. The Glyders are to the right of Tryfan.
 
Below: Shortly before our descent

24 August 2013

Lake District / Northumberland

I was fortunate enough to combine a visit to two of my favourite places in the UK on a long weekend break. We had only planned a day trip to the Lake District but managed to get a last minute hotel in Coniston so we could head up a day early. Unfortunately, as with most of my visits to this amazing area, the British summer weather lived up to its reputation and it rained non-stop. In a brief respite from the rain I made it out at sunset to a jetty on Coniston to shoot some long exposures with my new Lee filters. As you can see there was very little colour in the sky.

The next day the weather had improved and we took the kids to Tarn Hows, a very scenic spot and a nice easy walk for toddlers. In the afternoon we started the next part of our journey and headed over to the in laws house in Bishop Auckland where we were leaving the kids so my wife and I could head up to Northumberland for our wedding anniversary the next day.
 
I absolutely love Northumberland and try and get here at least once a year. We visited the interesting, spooky and slightly eccentric Chillingham Castle on the way and headed over the Cheviot Hills full of beautiful purple heather (below) to Bamburgh.
 
 
We spent sunset on the beach and I was up at 5am and back there again for sunrise. I had the beach to myself and despite the disappointing sunrise (the tide was too far out for the shots I wanted) I just love being by the beach. 
 
On the way home I managed to squeeze in a stop at Embleton beach - a wonderful curving bay that goes from golden sand to big black boulders (which look great on a receding tide). It also helps having the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle perched on a cliff above it. Again the tide was out and the mid morning light was harsh but I stacked all of my filters for a 2 minute exposure (Hoya ND400 8 stop screw on along with a Lee Filter holder containing a Hitech ND1.2 and Lee Hard ND Grad 0.9). The Hitech caused a horrendous purple cast hence the conversion to mono.
 
 


10 August 2013

Photographer of the Year - Travel - 3rd Place


 
I'm pleased to say that I came third in the Travel round of the annual Photographer of the Year competition run by Photoanswers.co.uk (the online portal for best selling UK camera magazines Practical Photography and Digital Photo - both published by Bauer Media).

The standard of entries is always strong and so to have been shortlisted and then placed is a great achievement.

My image appeared in the September edition of Practical Photography - shown above - (out in shops from August 8th) as well as Digital Photo magazine (out in shops from August 15th).

08 August 2013

Malta

I've just returned from a week holiday with the family in Malta. I'd never been to Malta before and love to visit new places but I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect having heard mixed things about the country. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Okay so Bugibba (where we were staying) is an uninspiring place but outside of the resort there are some great places to visit from the excellent capital Valetta and the equally impressive Grand Harbour / Three Cities to the fishing port of Marsaxlokk with its iconic colourful fishing boats (below). More pictures to follow.

 
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