Weymouth Speed Week – 1

Weymouth Speed week runs from the 18th – 24th of October.  As there was a good wind today, I thought that I would have a look.  I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get decent shots, but most of the sailboards and kites stayed pretty close to the causeway side of Portland Harbour, so I had plenty of ‘reach’ with my 70-300 mm lens.  I haven’t been having much success with this lens recently, so I wanted to try to correct some bad technique.  I think I have made a little progress, but there is still more to do.

Here are a few of the shots taken today.  I’ll look for some more when I get the time.

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Sika Deer Stag

There are a lot of Sika Deer in the RSPB reserve at Arne in Dorset and they are generally very easy to see.  Dee and I were just returning to the car a couple of days ago, when we had a surprise deer encounter which is perhaps one of the best we have had.  It was fairly late in the afternoon and we were walking on one of the main trails through the woods when I spotted a Sika Stag grazing just behind a ‘clump’ of bracken, about 5-6 metres away.  We stopped in our tracks, stood very still and he seemed completely oblivious to our presence for several minutes.  He saw us, but didn’t seem to care.  He carried on grazing, wandering around amongst the bracken and trees while I fired off a good few shots.  None of these yielded particularly good images, largely because of the challenging light under the trees.

I had my 70-300 mm (140-600 mm full frame equivalent) lens on my Olympus OM-D E-M1, and as a result was using ISO 3200 to help keep the  shutter speed up.  In the event, this shot was taken at the shorter end of the lens’ range, but I didn’t want to ‘fiddle’ with settings while I had such a good opportunity.

Of the shots that I got, I think that this is perhaps my favourite, even though it is not as sharp as I would have liked.  This lack of sharpness is partly due to having applied some noise reduction in Lightroom and partly due to cropping to improve the composition.  Using ISO 3200 is, however, something that I would have never dared to do with my E30, and indicates how much cameras have improved in the last couple of years.

wpid-20140910-_9100179.jpgWe are off to Maine soon.  It would be great, but unlikely, for us to get such an opportunity with a magnificent Moose.  We’ll probably get lots of Lighthouses though!

Please check back to see.

Dave’s Summer Snaps

This week, our Camera Club had ‘a member’s evening’.  As it was early in the new winter season, we were asked to produce short slide shows showing what we had been up to during the summer.  Happily, there were more than enough presentations, so mine was not required.  Just as well really, since it wasn’t very imaginative.  Having gone to the trouble to produce it though, I thought that I might as well publish it as a blog post.

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Here are a few of the places that I have snapped this summer.

To me, summer starts in May. So here are a few snaps taken between May and September. They’re not my best photos from this summer. They’re just a few random snaps pulled from my Lightroom archive showing some of the places that I have visited.

My wife and I went to Cyprus for a week. It rained non stop for 24 hours while we were there, but I still managed a few snaps. Here is one of Archbishop Makarios, way up in the clouds in the Trudos Mountains.

wpid-20140511-_5110115.jpgOne of a ruined village snapped on the way back to base.

wpid-20140511-_5110137.jpgThe weather improved just before we came home! (This was at Latchi)

wpid-20140513-_5130176.jpgIn mid May, we visited friends in Nottingham, and whilst there we went to the Derwent Valley, where the Dam Busters practised.  This is a stitched panorama of the reservoir that they used for practise.

wpid-Derwent-Valley_Panorama1.jpgWe also visited the Papplewick Pumping Station. This is their workshop, which is a bit tidier than mine.

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We also took a stroll by the River Trent.

wpid-20140519-_5190249.jpgIn June, we tried Greece for a coach tour. The weather was better than Cyprus, but not always great. I also had a fall and damaged my camera on the first day. Elastoplast held it together for the rest of the holiday.

We saw the sun. (this was at Volos)

wpid-20140607-_6070113.jpgWe visited museums (lots of them, all over the place).

wpid-20140608-_6080293.jpgAnd ruins. (This was on the way up to the Acropolis in Athens)

wpid-20140606-_6060067.jpgAnd churches.

wpid-20140608-_6080240.jpg wpid-20140612-_6120769.jpgSaw statues.

wpid-20140609-P1010143.jpgAnd mountains.

wpid-20140611-P1010356.jpgAnd bridges.

wpid-20140610-_6100521.jpgAnd lakes. (This was at Ioannina)

wpid-20140611-_6110693.jpgAnd monasteries at Meteora.

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wpid-20140613-_6130841.jpgBack at home in June, we visited Lyme Regis (when the tide was out).

wpid-20140617-_6170006.jpgWe went to a Speed Hillclimb at Gurston Down (actually, we went a couple of times).

wpid-20140622-P6223933.jpgWe’ve been out on the Somerset Levels.

wpid-20140624-P6244519.jpgWe were at the Merryfield Open Evening.  This is a local RNAS training airfield.

wpid-20140625-P6254579.jpgIn July I spent an evening in Weymouth.

wpid-20130113-P1130091.jpgIn August we went to Portland several times. I love St George’s Church.

wpid-20140810-_8100049.jpgTo RSPB Arne several times.These aren’t birds but the birds kept moving!

wpid-20140813-_8130029.jpgWe also went for a walk which took in Iford Manor Gardens.

wpid-20140820-_8200086.jpgAnd Henstridge Wings & Wheels. These two should really have been in a Derwent Valley photo. Photoshop maybe?

wpid-20140823-_8230056.jpgWe were in Pembrokeshire last week, where we:

Saw some misty mornings over the water. (Cleddau Estuary)

wpid-20140905-_9050002.jpg wpid-20140905-_9050004.jpg wpid-20140905-_9050005.jpgWatched the sun set over Skomer Island. (from Martin’s Haven)

wpid-20140830-_8300057.jpgWalked some of the coast opposite Milford Haven. (Gas Tanker unloading, taken from Angle).  Another stitched panorama.

wpid-Milford-Haven_Panorama1.jpgWent to some lovely beaches. (This one is at Little Haven).

wpid-20140830-_8300012.jpgPlayed with a ‘cheapo’ chinese fisheye lens. (Near Little Haven and the Cleddau Bridge)

wpid-20140830-_8300018.jpg wpid-20140831-P8310091.jpg Met an Artist. (at Carew Castle. He was painting the Castle and the Tidal Mill)

wpid-20140905-_9050052.jpg wpid-20140905-_9050055.jpgOh, and we also did a few jobs around the house and garden!

That was some of our summer.

I hope that I will soon be able to start posting a little more frequently.  Please keep an eye open.

 

 

A Little Bit of Speed – 2

My last post, ‘A Little Bit of Speed – 1‘, tried to depict speed by the use of ‘background blur’.  This image is completely different, and shows the ‘motion blur’ of the subject when the camera is not ‘panned’.  This is also from the same Speed Hillclimb at Gurston Down, and shows one of the entrants accelerating off the start line.

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A Little Bit of Speed – 1

I haven’t posted since early May, and I feel very guilty.  I’ve been busy and haven’t had much chance to get near my photos.  Just to make sure that I could still remember how to post, I thought that I had better make some time.

This is a shot that I took at Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb back in June.  It’s one of many, and attempts to depict ‘speed’.  With that in mind, I have given it a little help in post processing, which sadly is probably very obvious.  I’m not much good with Photoshop, still learning, or trying to.

wpid-20140622-P6223999-Edit-Blur-2.jpgI hope to produce a few more posts soon, but I am still short of time so I’m still not able to read all of the great posts on the blogs that I follow.  Sorry for that.  Things should get better soon.

 

An Elephant photo, treated using Topaz Detail 3

Last year, I posted ‘Elephants 3 – Another White Elephant, with Zebra (Mono)‘.  That image was shot back in 2006, when I was using a Sony DSC-H1 Bridge Camera.  I really liked the image, but the small sensor in that camera made it difficult to obtain much ‘selective focus’ and the image was too sharp from front to back.

Because I liked the image, particularly when presented in B&W, I decided to use a variation of it in a recent B&W Camera Club competition.  I’ve often said that I am not much good at using Photoshop, but regardless of this limitation, I felt that I needed to try to simulate some ‘selective focus’ in this image if I was going to use it in a Club competition.  I spent ages selecting different parts of the image and using layers to apply different levels of blur.  I wish that I hadn’t bothered.  The Judge didn’t like it, easily picking out those parts of the image that I had ‘worked on’.  I just wasn’t clever enough! :(

Last year, I purchased the Topaz Suite, but didn’t have the time of patience to learn how to use the various parts of it properly.  This week, I thought that I would have a bit of a look at Topaz Detail 3, an application intended for selective sharpening of images.  I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I still lack patience, but I have been very impressed at how this software can produce excellent results.

I thought that I would apply it to the original ‘jpeg’ file of that Elephant photo.

In this post, I have presented a series of efforts to improve this image.  I hope that the differences are clear enough to show just what a ‘pigs ear’ I made of it before moving on to Topaz Detail 3.  Here goes.

The first image is the jpeg straight out of my Sony DSC-H1

Original jpeg from camera.

Original jpeg from camera.

The next image was a B&W conversion using one of the Lightroom presets.  I can’t remember which, but I was going for a fairly high contrast result.

Initial B&W conversion.

Initial B&W conversion.

The next image is where things really started to go wrong.  I attempted to use my pathetic Photoshop skills to simulate some ‘selective focus’ in the image by using a number of layers with differing levels of Gaussian blur.  It took a long time to select the elephant layer and the result wasn’t great.

Attempt to simulate 'differential focus' using Photoshop layers.

Attempt to simulate ‘differential focus’ using Photoshop layers.

It must be remembered that these last two B&W images were produced because I thought that the image lent itself to use in a Club B&W competition.

Some time later, after investigating Topaz Detail a little, I thought that the selective sharpening (and softening) available in this program might be useful for simulating ‘selective focus’.  I gave it a try, and these next two images took only a few minutes to produce.  Maybe there is scope for improvement, but I quite like them as they are.

After a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

After a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

B&W conversion after a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

B&W conversion after a few minutes work in Topaz Detail 3.

Here they are again in a carousel so they can be displayed at a larger size where the differences are more evident.  Click on the first one to display the slide show.  Esc to end it.

I think the attempt to simulate ‘selective focus’ in the Topaz worked images is more subtle and was certainly achieved much more quickly.  Please feel free to comment as I know that I still have a very long way to go in improving my PP skills.  In particular, I always have trouble deciding just how much of an adjustment to make.

Springtime in the woods

It’s time for a walk in the woods.  Actually, this is a mere stroll compared with the day before’s hike around Culbone.  After the mild winter, it has been everyone’s expectation that this year will see an early show of bluebells.  With this in mind, we decided to take a stroll around some local woodland to see what we could find.

There was no carpet of blue yet, but where the most light and sun could find its way through, there were some well developed flowers to be seen.  I think primroses were still stealing the show but bluebells were on their way as well.  Compared to last year, I think the bluebells are probably 2-3 weeks ahead, at least in this wood.  There were also plenty of other spring blooms on show.

The final image in this gallery is a very strong clue as to where this woodland can be found, though it doesn’t look quite as it did a few years ago.

I’m not posting very regularly at the moment, but please keep an eye open to see what may come next.

Culbone Panorama, North Somerset

There has been a lot of attention to the Somerset Levels of late.  Well, not all of Somerset is flat, and below sea level.  Last Thursday, we set off on one of our fairly regular walks with our good friends Annie and Roy.  We normally try to follow the weather and the forecast suggested that there would be more sunshine on the north coast, than there would be on the coast of Dorset, so the decision was taken to drive to Porlock Weir and do what was described as a 6 mile circular walk, with some steep inclines.  We started with a quick snack in the pub, and then set out for Culbone Church, which I’ll cover in another post.  After that, we decided that we had enough car parking time to complete the circuit so off we went, climbing nearly continuously.  Thankfully, there wasn’t quite as much sunshine as forecast and the weather was very pleasant for walking.  The sun did shine for this panorama, which was taken from Culbone Hill, at an altitude of about 1250 ft.  Our walk peaked out at just over 1300 ft before we started to descend.

wpid-Culbone_Panorama1.jpgThere were several times on this walk where we thought that we wouldn’t make it within our car parking time, but we did, with about 4 minutes to spare.

The panorama is an accumulation of 9 images, stitched in Photoshop.  As always, a blog post can’t really do justice to a panorama, but with enlargement, the coast of Wales can be seen very clearly.  One feature of this walk was that we saw a truly huge number of sheep with very young lambs, some of which I am sure were new born on that day.  The field on the right is full of sheep without lambs.  Although not visible without enlargement, the fields in the centre, and further down, were where the ewes with their lambs were.

When we arrived back at Porlock Weir, we decided that this hike was probably enough for a couple of septuagenarians and their wives.  The muscles were certainly aching.  Maybe I should return to walking the Somerset Levels. :)

I’ll try to post about Culbone Church soon, so please keep a look out.

Bubbles

No posts for a while.  Sorry, but I’ve been busy.  Posts will probably be a bit thin for a while but here is a quick one just to try and keep things going.  I’m sorry, but I’m not keeping up with reading and commenting either.

This is a first try at photographing a bubble, attempted last night with the YPG photo group.  The intention was to illuminate a Union Jack with flash and capture the reflection in a bubble.

wpid-20140408-_4080160.jpgToo many light sources in the room me thinks!  There were several photographers trying to get a shot and with ‘off camera flash’ it was inevitable that someone would be using a simple ‘slave’ setup.  Hence, when my flash fired, then so did theirs.

I’ll try again in a more controlled environment.

Thanks Derek, for providing the setup.  Thanks also, for the many ‘bubble blowers’ that puffed through the evening.