Sliders Sunday – 29th April

An out of box image of a blue tit sitting on a branch with a greyed out background

It’s Sunday again and I can’t believe it has come round so fast. Which means it’s time for another Sliders Sunday. I was wondering what to do this week and thought I really need something that I can do pretty quickly as I’ve got a lot on today. What with post-processing the images from the River Clwyd shoot yesterday and getting an HDR image together for HDR Spotting.

It’s been a while since I did an Out of Box and they don’t particularly take that long to do, especially if you cheat like me and use an action. So I’d like to introduce you to PanosFX Photoshop Actions. Panos Efstathiadis has a  site dedicated to Photoshop professionals and enthusiasts where you can find some great commercial and free Photoshop actions, tips and tutorials as well as other free downloads and resources. Many of the actions will work with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and they are really easy to install and use.

For those of you who might be interested in Sliders Sunday…..

Sliders Sunday is a Flickr Group devoted to having fun pushing those sliders in your digital photography program. Group rules are quite simple

  1. You are not allowed to post SOOC pictures
  2. You should have had fun experimenting with processing the picture you post
  3. You can only post on Sunday
  4. You must describe or tag your shot as intended for this group by either describing your processing or by tagging it HSS or “sliders sunday.”
  5. Please take a moment and comment on other group members
  6. One Shot per Week

52/2012 Week 17

A group of Sandpipers in flight over water

This week wasn’t looking too good for me to get a photograph for this weeks challenge. The weather has been appalling with heavy rain and very grey skies. So this afternoon, with a break in the weather, I seized the opportunity  to visit the banks of the River Clywd which usually has a variety of feeding birds in the estuary and mud flats. Of course these birds never fly towards you it’s always away, so you have to be quick in getting the photograph.

Camera details for this image, Focal Length 500mm, ISO 400, Shutter Speed 1/1500 sec, F-Stop 6.7

Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

For this weeks challenge I thought about putting in some photographs from a wedding I recently attended, or maybe a photograph of my two dogs together, but somehow it’s just not me. Instead I have chosen to show you some photographs from an Air Show I attended last year. All of the photographs were taken be me using an extremely large lens fitted to my camera. Unusually for me I have chosen to show more than one photograph but I’m sure you will enjoy them and they all represent “Together” to me.

First up is this photograph of the Red Arrows flying in a Diamond Nine formation…these guys have to be precise or they might come Together in totally the wrong way.

The famous Royal Air Force Red Arrows flying in Diamond Nine Formation

The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force. The Red Arrows badge shows the aircraft in their trademark diamond nine formation, with the motto Éclat, a French word meaning “brilliance” or “excellence”.

During displays, the aircraft do not fly directly over the crowd apart from entering the display area by flying over the crowd from behind; any manoeuvres in front of and parallel to the audience can be as low as 300 feet, the ‘synchro pair’ can go as low as 100 feet straight and level, or 150 feet when in inverted flight.

After the Red Arrows I thought you might like to have a look at the Breitling Wing Walkers who represent to me the ultimate togetherness between man, well woman actually, and machine. I wouldn’t climb out there and be thrown around the sky performing the stunts they do. How about you? Would you do it?

The Breitling Wing-Walkers performing at Rhyl Air Show in 2011

AeroSuperBatics Ltd is a British aerobatics and wing walking team. As of 2011, they perform as the Breitling Wingwalkers following a sponsorship agreement with the Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling. They previously performed as Team Guinot, the Utterly Butterly Wing-walking Display Team and the Crunchie Wing-walking Display Team according to their sponsors at the time.

AeroSuperBatics was founded in 1989 by Vic Norman, a veteran aerobatics pilot. It operates four Boeing-Stearman Model 75 biplanes and employs five pilots. The team’s shows consist of two or four planes performing aerobatic manoeuvres while female athletes, attached to a post above the wings, engage in acrobatics.

Next I thought you might like to see a helicopter from the Royal Air Force Rescue and a Royal National Lifeboat Institute as they get Together to transfer a rescued person. In this case it was an exercise but without these two great services many a person would have lost their life, either at sea or on land.

RNLI Lifeboat and Royal Air Force Rescue Helicopter practice transferring rescued person from helicopter to lifeboat

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as on selected inland waterways.

The RNLI was founded on 4 March 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, with Royal Patronage from King George IV of Great Britain and Ireland. It was given the prefix ‘Royal’ and its current name in 1854 byQueen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland. It has official charity status in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

The RAF Search and Rescue Force (SARF or SAR Force) is the Royal Air Force organisation which provides around-the-clock aeronautical search and rescue cover in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. The SARF’s primary roles are military search and rescue, and the provision of rescue for civilian aircraft in distress under the 1948 Chicago Convention. The military role involves the rescuing of aircrew who have ejected or parachuted from, or crash-landed their aircraft. Although established with a primary role of military search and rescue, most of SARF’s operational missions are spent in its secondary role, conducting civil search and rescue. This entails the rescue of civilians from the sea, on mountains, from flooded regions or other locations on land.

Finally I’d like to give you this image of an RAF Red Arrow silhouetted against the sun, but for this one I’m going to be different.

I’d like to invite you to give me your ideas why I have chosen this one to represent Together. There aren’t any prizes, or anything like that, but next Friday I will let you know why I chose this image as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Facebook, Yet Again…

I know I’m going to regret it, but I’ve created a new Facebook profile, yet again. Over the years I have had a love/hate relationship with Facebook and I’ve terminated my account several times. So why go back? Well one reason is that one of the software companies I use tends to publish more information to Facebook than they do their main web-site. Second reason is  several Photography Forums I’m a member of use Facebook for all sorts of things.


Mike Hardisty | Create your badge

Danger Sinking Mud

Warning sign silhouetted against the sunset on Weston-super-Mare advising of the danger of walking on sinking mud

Weston-super-Mare has some great sandy beaches, but venture beyond the signs in this image and you could soon find yourself stuck in thick cloying mud. Owing to the large tidal range in the Bristol Channel, the low tide mark in Weston Bay is about a mile from the seafront and this low tide uncovers areas of thick mud, hence the colloquial name, Weston-super-Mud. These mudflats are very dangerous to walk in, and yet, tourists still continue to walk beyond these signs and end up having to be rescued.

Although not generally known, Weston has the second highest tidal range in the world at a massive 15 meters, and when that tide starts to come in, it comes in fast.

HDR processing was done with Machinery HDR Effects on a bracket of 5 exposures (-2 to +2). Post processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Elements with NIK Color Efex, Detail Extractor and Tonal Contrast

Pin Mill – Bodnant Garden

The Pin Mill in Bodnant Garden, reflected in the water of the Canal Terrace

Bodnant Garden (Welsh: Gardd Bodnant) is a National Trust property near Tal-y-Cafn, in the county borough of Conwy, Wales. Bodnant Garden is situated above the River Conwy and overlooks the Conwy valley towards the Carneddau range of mountains.

The Pin Mill was imported from the Cotswolds in 1938, for use as a garden pavilion on the Canal Terrace.

Sliders Sunday – 22 April

Running water over rocks with splashes of red and yellow flowers on the hill-side.

Unfortunately the original image, taken on a rainy day  and down in a deep valley was dark and the colours didn’t stand out too much. Looking at it I decided the image was worth saving and would use it later for Sliders Sunday. Of course if I’m trying to rescue an image I need to be subtle with those sliders, otherwise I can just make it look worse. My main focus today was to use Photoshop to bring some light and brighter splashes of colour into the image.

Here’s the finished result. What do you think? Have I achieved my goal? Does the rescued image look better than the original? Or have I gone too far?

52/ 2012 – Week 16

Click for larger image

Bodnant Garden (Welsh: Gardd Bodnant) is a National Trust property near Tal-y-Cafn, in the county borough of Conwy, Wales. Bodnant Garden is situated above the River Conwy and overlooks the Conwy valley towards the Carneddau range of mountains.

This important garden occupies an area of 32 hectares (80 acres) surrounding Bodnant House, most of which was first laid out by Henry Davis Pochin, a successful industrial chemist, from 1874 onwards until his death in 1895. Bodnant House had been built in 1792 but was remodelled by Pochin and on his death it was inherited by his daughter (whose husband became the first Baron Aberconway in 1911). The garden, but not the House or other parts of the estate, was presented to the National Trust, with an endowment, in 1949. The House was the home of the late Lord Aberconway, and members of his family continue to be actively involved in the management of the garden, its tea pavilion and car parks on behalf of the National Trust.

The gardens are varied and include formal gardens bounded by clipped box hedges, ornamental ponds and pools and formal herbaceous borders, an enclosed laburnum arch and many rose gardens. However, Bodnant is most famous for its breeding programme, especially of varieties of Rhododendrons and azaleas examples of which are now grown throughout the world. Also noted are the collections of Magnolia, Camellia, Clematis and Hydrangea

Begun in 1875, it is the creation of four generations of Aberconways and is divided into two parts: the upper level (around the house) features huge Italianate terraces, specimen trees and formal lawns, with paths descending to at lower level “The Dell” with a wooded valley, stream and wild garden below. Included within the Dell are the Old Mill, the mill pond with the mill race and an attractive spillway waterfall into the River Hiraethlyn, to give the delightful babbling brook through the Dell its proper name.

Of the many specimen trees within the Dell and the Woodland, notable are several Californian Redwoods. One giant redwood (sequoiadendron giganteum) measured 47.2 metres (155 ft) in height. Another tree from the western United States, theOregon Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii was 48 metres (157 ft). From China about 1949 came the Dawn Redwood, previously known only from fossils and believed to have been extinct .

Above the Dell is “The Poem”, the family mausoleum from which a network of paths leads through shrubberies and the Rosemary garden to the front lawn (separated from the old park by a ha-ha) and across the lawn to the Round garden.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

Burnham Lighthouse on a dark and stormy day with heavy dark clouds and the sun peeking through

Click for a larger view of this image

First of all, to my regular readers I hope you like the new layout of my blog. I have changed the theme because this is a blog about photography and I wanted to show my images larger than the previous theme would. Please let me know what you think of the new theme.

This weeks image is of Burnham-on-Sea Low Lighthouse. It was taken on a really stormy day with the sun just breaking out from the clouds. Just after this photograph was taken heavy rain came sweeping in almost horizontally from the sea. Burnham Sands is totally exposed, there is no shelter except under the lighthouse but with the rain pattern the way it was I got absolutely soaked.

The Low lighthouse is one of three lighthouses in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England and the only one which is still active. It is a Grade II listed building.

Burnham-on-Sea is notable for its beach and mudflats, which are characteristic of Bridgwater Bay and the rest of the Bristol Channel where the tide can recede for over 1.5 miles (2.4 km). Burnham is close to the estuary of the River Parrett where it flows into the Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world of 15 metres (49 ft) second only to Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada. The constantly shifting sands have always been a significant risk to shipping in the area.

The low wooden pile lighthouse or Lighthouse on legs is 36 feet (11 m) high; the light being at 23 feet (7.0 m) was built by Joseph Nelson in 1832, in conjunction with the High Lighthouse to replace the original Round Tower Lighthouse, which itself had been built to replace the light kept burning in the tower of St Andrews Church to guide fishing boats into the harbour.

It stands on nine wooden piers, some with plate metal reinforcement. The structure is whitewashed with a vertical red stripe on the sea side.

The lights were inactive between 1969 and 1993 and were re-established when the High Lighthouse lights were permanently discontinued. They have a focal plane of 7 metres (23 ft) and provide a white flash every 7.5s plus a directional light (white, red, or green depending on direction) at a focal plane of 4m. It is operated by Sedgemoor District Council

When I receive the e-mail on a Friday notifying me of the weeks challenge I can nearly always pick a photograph from my extensive library and post it pretty quickly. But this week was different and really did present a challenge for me.

As a photographer, I very rarely choose to shoot straight into the sun. So I really had to browse my library to find a suitable image. Why don’t I shoot into the sun? Two reasons….

  1. I can easily damage my eyes looking straight into the sun if I spend too much time composing the photograph.
  2. My camera’s sensor is just like my eyes. It too can be damaged if it’s pointed at the sun for too long a time.
Over the years I have taken plenty of sunsets and sunrises where my camera is pointed directly at the sun but at that time of the day the sun is nowhere near as strong. However, I still take care with my eyes, they’re the only pair I’ve got. I can always replace a damaged camera. I can’t replace my eyes.
What about you? Did you find this weeks challenge difficult? Do you ever think about taking care of your eyes?