Out on the trail.

As I have moved more into landscape photography, I decided I needed to put a little more thought into how I was doing things. Often I am walking solo in very rough terrain, often the trails are strewn with rocks where tripping and breaking a leg or worse is very possible. Often no mobile signal is available so especially as I love photographing waterfalls which tend to be in very inhospitable places. I have decided to put a little more care into the way I was doing things.

The first thing that I have done is purchase a Manfrotto rucksack where the top part is for personal goods and the lower half is for the camera gear. A must is a good tripod carrying facility which this bag does well. I am concentrating on the top half here, first in goes my waterproof coat. I have also purchased a pack of mylar blankets and a safety bivvi bag to put in. In case of emergency these will be invaluable and very cheap to purchase. A few other bits like a torch, a whistle, water and some snacks to eat.

I cannot leave you without an image so as I am talking about safety I have put on a waterfall which made me think about that safety. It is Thomasson Foss at Beck hole in the North Yorkshire moors. The path to it is treacherous with rocks  surrounding the waterfall but the beauty is outstanding and worth the trip.

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Reflections of Fountains abbey.

I am a great lover of reflections, they seem to give an image extra life, though if you know what to look for they are easy to find. Bright sunny days are where they stand out best. The shot that I have put on here is about 100 yards from the abbey so you don’t have to be too close to the thing that you want a reflection of. Sometimes it is a matter of searching out where you will find a good reflection. The problem that I had with this shot was that it was a breezy day creating a ripple on the water. The ripple was spoiling the refection that I wanted so I put a 10 stop neutral density filter on the lens. When using something like this it is better to put the camera in manual, set everything up and work out the exposure then put the filter on the lens. The filter in this case gave me an exposure of 30 seconds at f22, I needed a small aperture to give a lot of depth of field. The effect of the long exposure on the image was to smooth out the water creating a better reflection. Often with filters like this you will get a slight color cast, depends on the image whether you adjust in post processing or keep it in. Also with reflections I often give extra saturation to my images in lightroom to make them stand out more.

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Posforth Gill waterfall.

Recently I have had limited time to get out to photograph. When a day came free recently I went to Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire with the idea of getting off the popular walk through the woodlands by the river to the Strid. I walked the route up to the Valley of Desolation which is signposted to the beautiful waterfall of Posforth Gill. Though the track is generally good, close to the falls however it is narrow and rough so wear good walking boots. Though it is winter and many of the trees are bare, I knew after recent rain there would be a good flow of water off the hills.

As I wanted to include the rocks in the foreground to give the image some depth and add some color variation the aperture was set to f22. This gave slow shutter speed of 1/5th second so the camera was set on a tripod and a shutter release was used. After packing my camera for a trip my tripod is the next most important thing I take with me. I do vary how I photograph water depending on the effect that I want to use. I am not a massive fan of making everything looking like cotton wool so I do tend to use as fast a shutter speed as possible without losing quality. The problem with many waterfalls is that they tend to be in areas surrounded by trees so are by nature quite dark. Long exposures tend to be normal but I like to get some of water looking as it should. It would always difficult to freeze the falling water without losing quality, I would always go for quality but it depends on your personal preference.

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Lumb falls in Yorkshire.

Lumb falls in Yorkshire is a little off the beaten track but well worth a visit if you have chance. Basic directions are follow the Keighly road out of Hebden Bridge then take the Haworth old road after about a mile. This is a single track road and you watch for public bridleway sign on your left. There is only room to park 2 cars. A good pair of walking boots are required to walk down the rocky path. You can get to the base of the falls with care if you cross the bridge.

A plaque at the falls shows that the former poet laureate Ted Hughes wrote his poem ‘Six young men’ at the falls. This is a poem about 6 young men in a photograph that went to war and they had all died 6 months later.

It was using my lightweight tripod and the exposure was half a second at f22. The big difficulty with the shot was the extremes in brightness between the shadow areas and the highlights. I did quite a lot of work in lightroom to balance everything out but do hope you think it was worth it.

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Outdoor portraiture.

As a change from my usual posts I am adding people into this post and talking about outdoor portraiture.  I have great love of capturing people naturally. I like to fit people into landscapes and scenes. As with all portraiture the aim is capture something about a person. A feeling or a look that says to someone this is me. The great thing about working outdoors is that people tend to be more relaxed, the images should be more informal.

You will need to find your own way to work but the way that I work is to put people into a position I want to photograph them in then get them to move slowly and change position and give me different looks. Talk to people and continue to shoot all the time. You will get a few mistakes shooting like this but you will get many great shots.

Use a longer lens for this type of work and a big aperture, f4 or f2.8 should work for you. However you shoot the most important thing is the person or people that you are photographing.

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Long exposures.

When I went to one of my favorite places recently, my aim was to  use some long exposures photographing a stream running through a gorge.  The place that I went is Padley gorge in the Peak district. You can get magical lighting there when the sun shines. As there a lot of trees down in the gorge you get some wonderful dappled light effects.

Because the day I chose to go was heavily overcast and the trees were blocking much of the light, it allowed longer exposures, the exposures were about 5 seconds. The camera was set on 100 ISO at f22. If the light is too bright for long exposures use neutral density filter to cut out some of the light. On exposures of this length you will need to use a tripod, here a light travel tripod was used with a rock in bag hanging from it for added stability.

The effect that you get on the water is where the water is running fast it goes almost milky. On the slower running water the effect is that it looks like  a sheet of glass. This type of photography is well worth giving a try and experimenting with.
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Look to the sky.

As you walk through woodland it is good practice to spend a little time looking upwards, look to the sky. As I walked along the woodland path it curved away which made the trees look like they formed a semi circle. Using a wide angle lens and pointing upwards from low down the trees converge creating a dynamic shape. When you take this type of shot you do need a good a good strong sky. On this particular day it was very blue with white fluffy clouds, the shot looked quite good in color but I thought it would look much more powerful in black and white. Whenever you are out photographing it is as well to spend a little time pondering the possibilities of any shot that you are taking. Always a good thought to have in your mind is how would I like this to look when it is finished.

The conversion to black and white was done in Lightroom,I have kept as much detail as possible in the trees whilst darkening up the sky to make the clouds stand out better. The clouds help the trees stand out against the darkened sky.

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The right time.

When is the right time to shoot? A massive question with many answers. Many people say that you should not shoot between 10 and 2 as the there is little modelling etc. My own thought is that you should be able to shoot at any time of day. Shooting between these times gives you some amazingly punchy black and white images with a vast range of tones. The main thing is to make sure that you use the correct exposure and that you post process the image well.  Controlling the contrast is big factor. Though the sun was very strong on the day I took this image there is very little lost in shadow areas but detail is kept in the white clouds.

Never limit when you should shoot because of what others say. The only thing that matters is the image that you have is one that you are truly happy with.

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Dappled sunlight.

I just want to tell you what I thought was a slightly ridiculous conversation that I had about this image with dappled sunlight. It was a beautiful day and I was out walking in the hills and stopped by a waterfall. There was a couple in their mid 70’s sat by the waterfall, there was also a class of school children doing geological studies there. The kids were having fun as they do when near water. I fell into conversation with the couple, the conversation got onto how these kids probably only get out into the countryside when on school trips. They probably spend most of their time sat on their PlayStation’s  at home.

The couple both had good cameras and liked to photograph when out walking. I mentioned to the couple about a day that I had in the Derbyshire Peak District recently, the light was beautiful and had come across some strange trees, the dappled sunlight was coming through the trees. The light was amazing and the scene just stunning. The gentleman the said to me that he would create that effect in photoshop. I was little taken aback, surely all you are doing is the same as the kids on their PlayStation’s. Part of what we do as artists or photographers is getting out there and seeing and feeling passionate about the images that we produce. Always remember that photoshop is not a substitute for feeling passionate about our wonderful world.

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Tree art.

I woke very early on a lovely morning with the sun rising. I set off along a local for a quiet walk. The path meandered alongside a golf course. The light was beautiful casting long soft shadows. As I walked past a small lake, there was dead rotting tree that had fallen into the lake. The shape of  the tree intrigued me, I do find the shapes that trees create quite fascinating. The reflections of the tree  in the water made the shape even more fascinating to me. I photographed the scene but knew that with some extra processing in lightroom I would be able to make the scene even more interesting.

In lightroom adjustments were made to add contrast and take some of the detail out of the image. The focus of the image had to on the tree and reflection. The image appeals to me very much and fits in with my view of what art should be. You are inspired by something and interpret in your own way. The great ability for anyone involved in visual art is to be able to see the way light works and what you can do with it. Understanding light is far more important to you than what camera make you use.

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