Groyne at Blue Anchor Bay

About a month ago, we were lucky enough to spend a weekend with our eldest son and family, at a cottage in Lynmouth, North Devon.  On the way there, we took a scenic route along the coast of North Somerset and I snapped this groyne at Blue Anchor Bay.

Initial thoughts on the image were not promising, but today I was looking for something to try out Silver Efex Pro 2, now that Google have kindly made it a free download.  I stumbled on this one, and found the program pretty user friendly.  I chose one of the presets which gave this ‘grainy’ look, boosted the contrast a little more and arrived at this.

I think it is much more pleasing to my eye that the original colour image.

Groyne at Blue Anchor Bay

Maybe it is an overly simple shot, being no more than a row of old wooden posts, leading off to the water, and eventually to the coast of Wales in the distance.  There are a few Gulls on the shoreline, and the grainy processing has done them no favours, but I still quite like the final result.

There would have been many alternative ways to present this shot that would have proved more attractive to some eyes, perhaps on a different day to my eyes, but this is today’s effort.

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The Solar Eclipse 2015

I didn’t really have any intentions to photograph the recent Solar Eclipse, and as it turned out, this was just as well.  Our home town was fairly densely covered with cloud and mist throughout the period when the eclipse should have been visible.  There were, however, a few opportunities to glimpse this event through very brief gaps in the cloud and mist and here are a couple of shots, just to prove it.

I’d already decided that I needed a 10 stop ND on the camera for safety, and I didn’t really want to use my E-M1, just in case the sun was bright and might damage the sensor.  For this reason, my first shot was with only a 12-60 mm lens, which ND filter fitted.  Much too heavy a crop was required, but it was only a minute or two before the maximum eclipse here so I thought it worth keeping.

Solar Eclipse.  Near optimum timing through mist and cloud.

After that, the fog settled in until about 10-15 minutes before the eclipse was completely over.  There was then a very brief opportunity, by which time I had fitted a longer lens and held the ND filter in front of it.

Solar Eclipse 2, just before it ended.Not good photos, but at least they remind me that I did see the solar eclipse.

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.

Winter 1 – Ducks and Ice

It may seem a bit late in the year to publish a post with this title.  We have had a pretty bad winter, but not really with the type of weather that is expected.  As it looks as if spring may be on its way, I thought it might be good to post something reflecting what winter can be like before the weather warms up.  To do this, I have gone back into the archives.  This one is from January 2009.

It shows ducks on the ice of Sutton Bingham Reservoir, where many years ago, I used to sail throughout the year.  Sometimes, we would have broken thin ice to get a sail at the weekend!

wpid-P1095821_edited-1.jpgThe dam and overflow of the reservoir are hidden in the mist of this frosty morning, at top left.  The pontoon where the Sailing Club launches its dinghies is off to the left.  A couple of the ‘marks’, buoys that mark the course or start/finish line, can be seen towards the upper third of the frame.  The water available for sailing extends from close to the camera, away to the dam at the top of the picture, and some distance off to the right, down a narrower finger of reservoir to the south.  Although not a large reservoir, Sutton Bingham provides some interesting sailing.

Duck and other water birds like it as well. 🙂

Another shot, taken on the same day and posted a couple of years ago can be found here.

Some shots taken during a ‘summer time’ walk around the reservoir can be found here.  Hopefully these will help us think of the better weather.

Have a good weekend. 🙂

After the Storms – 3

Over the last couple of months it has become impossible not to have viewed many images in the media, showing the effects of this winter’s storms.  Many of these images have depicted the results of the violent winds when combined with high tides around our coasts.  Others have shown floods caused by the wettest winter on record.  The fact is, that the weather events of the last three months have combined to cause devastation and human misery in many parts of the country.  The livelihoods of many people have suffered and homes have been completely lost or badly damaged.  I suspect that even those of us who have not suffered directly, will feel the ‘knock on’ costs in future years, due to the need to pay higher insurance premiums.

You can see from the title of this post that I have made two previous posts, ‘After the Storms‘ and ‘After the Storms – 2‘, on this subject and these were of the floods over the Somerset Levels.

Although the violent wind strengths that we have suffered of late have been mainly linked to coastal damage, significant numbers of trees have been brought down inland as well.  When I took the photos featured in ‘After the Storms’, I met a lady who didn’t suffer from the ‘tripod reluctance’ that I do.  Armed with a very heavy duty tripod and ND filters, she had been intent in capturing the late afternoon sunshine over the floods, and probably with ‘milky water’ to boot.  One of the images that she was taking focused on this willow tree.

wpid-20140111-_1110060.jpgI hope that she achieved the image that she wanted at that time, because this willow has now been uprooted, as shown below, and can no longer form the focal point for any future attractive landscape images.

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This post was only intended to show the manner in which the storms have permanently changed our landscapes, however, as I write this post, I am very conscious of what many people have lost during the storms, and I feel huge sympathy for them.  This leads to somewhat of a feeling of guilt when I capture images of the storm and flood devastation.  The fact is though, that weather events like this, can produce dramatic images that many photographers would want to record.  Would it be more acceptable to shoot only hard hitting ‘documentary’ images, showing houses and cars that are submerged, rather than apparently pleasant looking landscapes?  It is my view, that all the images in these 3 posts are ‘records’ of the floods and are therefore acceptable, even if they sometimes appear ‘artistic’.  By the way, I’m obviously not referring to either of these images as artistic.

Any views?  Does anyone else worry about whether to shoot this type of subject?

Monochrome Sunset Silhouette on the Somerset Levels.

Another B&W image.  Something has happened to my visual senses.  I’m starting to see more and more of my images which seem to yield a little more, or maybe just some different appeal, when rendered in monochrome, and I am enjoying it.

Having said that, I have just come home from a Camera Club monochrome competition, where 3 of my images, which I thought had some appeal, failed miserably to impress the judge, and one, which I only put in to complete my entry quota of 4, achieved a ‘highly commended’ from him.  My judgement ain’t that great.

Significant influences on my, perhaps temporary, leaning towards mono are Adrian Lewis, blogger at FATman Photos and Andy Beel, who gave a talk at our club last February.  I say ‘perhaps temporary’ because I still have a love of colour, but undeniably I am appreciating B&W to an increasing degree.  I’m still not seeing the images in B&W at the shutter pressing stage, though maybe I am becoming aware that lighting conditions could favour it.

I expect I will bore a few, who have often expressed a preference for colour images.  I apologise and please stick with me.  There will still be a lot of colour on this blog.  I am, however, likely to post quite a few B&W images in the future as well.

This is the first one.  It was originally posted quite recently in a gallery in After the Storms.

I liked that image, but I now think that I like this one more.  I fiddled around in Lightroom quite a bit before choosing this treatment.  I think that rendering it as a B&W silhouette, has enhanced the detail in the sky and its reflections in the flood water.  It has also improved the definition of the tree trunk, ivy and lower branches, where the sun was previously burning this detail out a little.

wpid-20140111-_1110067-2.jpgThe original is shown below, and I expect a few people will disagree with what I have said above.  Some may mourn the loss of the golden light on the reed bed.  Maybe I do a little.  As always, comments are most welcome and will help me to improve.wpid-20140111-_1110067.jpg

Pollarded Willows

It was another of those rather rare, nice sunny days, yesterday and another brief tour onto the Somerset Levels seemed appropriate.  We decided to take a quick look to see what Westhay Moor looked like after the storms.  To be honest, it didn’t look very different to usual.  During the tour, I spotted this row of pollarded willows and thought that there might be a photo in them.

wpid-20140119-_1190007.jpg

A careful look at the road surface shows quite well the common feature of roads in this part of Somerset, that is the subsidence, which I guess is caused by the continual soaking and drying of the peat on which they are built.

If you have missed them, and are interested, photos from my last two visits to the floods on the Somerset Levels can be found here and here.

After the Storms – 2

A few more Somerset Levels floods photos, this time from Sunday.  Unfortunately the weather was miserable and grey and the flooded landscape was not nearly as photogenic as it had been on Saturday.  I therefore decided that these pictures would be better presented in B&W.

These pictures are of floods where the River Parrett had spilled over at Langport.

The water was still pretty high in this area and we had to take a diversion to get home.

My last series of shots of these floods can be found here.

After the Storms

I took an opportunity yesterday, to take a look at how the recent floods of the Somerset Levels were receding.  There is still a lot of water around.

I only had time to look at a limited area around Ashcott and between Greylake and Burrow Bridge.  The shots that were taken at ‘flood level’ are from dry land, on or close to the A361.  I also took a few looking south from the ridge which runs east from The Pipers Inn.

No more words.  Just a few photos.  Click on any image to start a slide show.

Sorry if this is just a drop too much water!