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
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.

Monochrome Moments – 5 (More Sand, and a Stick)

This one continues from Monochrome Moments – 4, it also having been taken in the dunes of Fuerteventura.  This was a snapshot taken because of the potential appeal of the intersecting diagonals of the sand ripples and stick.  Monochrome conversion was again made with Topaz, and I also chose to retain a ‘warm’ look to the image because it seemed in keeping with the scene.  I did consider a more ‘stark’ B&W conversion, but didn’t like any of my results as much.


This is another of those rather minimalist images which, when you look back, you wonder whether it was really worth taking.  Having played with it a bit, I think it probably was, just.


I wasn’t really happy with this image so I took some advice from Adrian Lewis.  I’ve increased the contrast a bit (quite a bit), and the result is below.  I could probably go still further but think this may be enough.  I didn’t do this before because I am always a little nervous of ‘overprocessing’.

Stick and Sand

Any better?

Monochrome Moments – 4

I rarely go back to my ‘holiday’ snaps, looking for potential monochrome images.  A recent post from Mike Osborn’s prompted me to look at some old photos from Fuerteventura, and I think that I must start doing it more often.  I found this one.  It’s not as good as Mike’s, but it does show that the sun doesn’t always shine there.  I quite liked the drama in the sky, and also the receding ‘mountains’ (really only little volcanic hills).


I used a slightly ‘warm’ conversion from the Topaz presets because I thought that it might fit with the actual colours of the landscape better.  Personally, I think that the mono image is better than the original, which I have included below for comparison.  I know that the original shows the sand colour correctly, but mono shows more drama in the sky and the wind blown ‘ripples’ in the sand more clearly.


Fuerteventura is a barren island in the Canaries, best known for sunshine, beaches and strong winds, which give the island it’s name.  These images are from the Sand Dunes immediately south of Corralejo, at the north end of the island.

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.


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.


One of a ruined village snapped on the way back to base.


The weather improved just before we came home! (This was at Latchi)


In 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.


We also visited the Papplewick Pumping Station. This is their workshop, which is a bit tidier than mine.


We also took a stroll by the River Trent.


In 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)


We visited museums (lots of them, all over the place).


And ruins. (This was on the way up to the Acropolis in Athens)


And churches.


Saw statues.


And mountains.


And bridges.


And lakes. (This was at Ioannina)


And monasteries at Meteora.


Back at home in June, we visited Lyme Regis (when the tide was out).


We went to a Speed Hillclimb at Gurston Down (actually, we went a couple of times).


We’ve been out on the Somerset Levels.


We were at the Merryfield Open Evening.  This is a local RNAS training airfield.


In July I spent an evening in Weymouth.


In August we went to Portland several times. I love St George’s Church.


To RSPB Arne several times.These aren’t birds but the birds kept moving!


We also went for a walk which took in Iford Manor Gardens.


And Henstridge Wings & Wheels. These two should really have been in a Derwent Valley photo. Photoshop maybe?


We were in Pembrokeshire last week, where we:

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


Watched the sun set over Skomer Island. (from Martin’s Haven)


Walked some of the coast opposite Milford Haven. (Gas Tanker unloading, taken from Angle).  Another stitched panorama.


Went to some lovely beaches. (This one is at Little Haven).


Played with a ‘cheapo’ chinese fisheye lens. (Near Little Haven and the Cleddau Bridge)


Met an Artist. (at Carew Castle. He was painting the Castle and the Tidal Mill)


Oh, 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.

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.

Vietnam – Hue to Hoi An 3 – Marble

After visiting the Museum of Cham Sculpture we moved on to see still more sculpture.  These statues were, however, not nearly as old.  In fact, we visited one of the many Marble Statue Shops in the area.  I’m sorry, but I can’t remember the name of the business now.  There are many of these shops, stemming from the proximity to The Marble Mountains, though I believe that the marble is now sourced from elsewhere.

Many of the statues would have looked good in our English gardens, and would have been good value at the prices asked.  Sadly, that sort of excess baggage would have been out of the question on our return flights.  Of course, they offered to ship their products to the UK for a fee, which would have rather reduced their ‘good value’.  Never mind, I took a few photos instead.

I also took a few of the marble textures and some ‘work in progress’.

We certainly crammed a lot into this day so far.  We haven’t had lunch yet.  Our journey to Hoi An continues after lunch, initially with a visit to a silk making factory.  Please come back to have a look.

Vietnam – Hue to Hoi An 2 – Museum Of Cham Sculpture

En route to Hoi An, we passed through Da Nang, where we visited the Museum of Cham Sculpture.  It was too crowded to get good photographs.  Though nothing special, the following photos serve to give an idea of the content of this museum.

A little more information on Champa Art can be found here.

The journey to Hoi An will continue in the next post of this series.  Please come back and have a look.

Vietnam – Hue 5

I feel so bad about failing to complete my posts about our trip to Vietnam in 2008.  As I said in my last post on Vietnam, it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember all of the detail about the trip.  Now that I have worked out how to add ‘galleries’ to posts, this opens the opportunity for me to present some of my photographs with only a few words about the particular area being visited.  Hopefully, this will allow me to complete to story of the tour, albeit not with the detail that I originally intended.  Maybe, if recollections come to me in the future, I will be able to revisit some images again, with a bit more detail.

Let me continue the tour then.  While we were in Hue we also visited the Citadel of Hue Imperial City.  Most of the photos in this gallery are from that visit, with a couple from our lunch break and a couple more from the Perfume River when we returned to the hotel.

I do intend to continue this tour, probably using this ‘gallery’ format and minimal narrative.  I hope you can still enjoy the images.

Thanks for looking and please come back when you can.

More Cheetah

Over a year ago, after I started my series on Vietnam, I dropped in a photo of a Cheetah, which I captured in Namibia in 2006.  I still haven’t finished my series on Vietnam, which I consider to be a terrible failure, so this post drops in a few more Cheetah photos, just to keep the blog moving.  Please don’t be too critical of them as they were all taken with a humble 5MP camera.  How cameras have moved on.

These pictures were all taken at the Africat Foundation at Okonjima, in Namibia.  We stayed here for a couple of nights during our tour.  As we were walking into the lodge, we met the well known celebrity and TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, who had just been filming for a TV programme screened a little while after we returned toi the UK.  She had a few words for us as we passed, saying with a smile, that we ‘would enjoy it here’.  We certainly did.

Cheetah Feeding Time
Lying around!
Waiting for supper.
Sleep walking?
More lying around.
Prowling around.

My earlier Cheetah post can be found here.

Hopefully, one day I will get around to posting some more from Namibia.  I just hope you can wait!

Cuba Revisited

Last night I watched ‘Cuba with Simon Reeve’, on BBC television.  Many of the places visited by this programme were ones that Dee and I also visited on holiday in February 2011.  The programme set out to look at how the Cuban economy has changed in the last two years, and I must confess to being quite surprised at how things have actually moved on.  When we were there, Cubans didn’t expect to see much difference, even though some degree of economic liberalisation was anticipated.  Now, Cubans can buy and sell property legally (see this link), something unimaginable 2 years ago.

I’m glad that we went when we did, as Castro’s Cuba certainly seems to be changing, albeit slowly.

Visually, the programme refreshed my recollection of that excellent holiday, so I thought I would take this opportunity to link back to the series of posts that I started in July last year.  Perhaps this may be of interest to anyone that wasn’t following my blog then.  The start of the series can be found here.

One photo from the original series.

Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco