Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban



My entry for this weeks challenge is a bit late, well late for me. I’m sitting in my study looking out into the garden on a rainy public holiday day (why does it always rain) and I’m behind schedule.

I’ve got three projects on the go, four if you count this one and I’m running out of time, fast.

This weeks image was taken in Den Bosch in the Netherlands. I’d flown in from the UK, early morning on a business trip and had the afternoon to kill before catching the evening flight home. Bicycles typify the Netherlands for me, they’re everywhere, in the towns and cities and the country. Cycling in the Netherlands is a common and popular method of transport and recreation, accounting for 27% all trips nationwide, and up to 59% of all trips in its cities.

One of the scariest moments I’ve ever had when driving involved bicycles.”Strict liability”, supported by law in the Netherlands, leads to driver’s being deemed to be responsible in a collision between a car and a cyclist. I had the misfortune to drive through the centre of Eindhoven just as employees at the old Philips Electrical factory were leaving for the end of the day. Hundreds of bicycles in front, behind and to the sides, some just inches away. Worse still they were cutting across my path as well. Absolutely frightening..

Anyway back to the photograph. As I had time to spare I took my camera for a walk through the old part of the town. As many towns in the Netherlands are closed to cars you see bicycles in use everywhere, but they have to be parked somewhere.and the image above is typical. For me it made a great photo opportunity.

Hey! I didn’t use the word Urban once..





I’ve switched back to PhotoMatix for a while and then did final post processing of the HDR image with Topaz photoFXLab. I quite like the results I’m getting from this.


Medieval Church


Medieval Church

Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch is a village in Denbighshire, Wales. It lies in the Vale of Clwyd near the A525 road between Denbigh and Ruthin. The medieval parish church of St Dyfnog contains a Tree of Jesse window, dating from 1533, described as “the finest glass window in all Wales, exceeded by few in England”, which was originally part of Basingwerk Abbey near Holywell. Nearby is St Dyfnog’s Well, once a destination for pilgrims.


Capture The Colour

Somehow or other this morning I found my way on to Jason Teale’s blog and noticed an article about Capture the Colour a competition run by TravelSupermarket.com.

The idea is quite simple, show 5 photographs on your blog using the theme Blue, Green, Yellow, White and Red, and write about them. Nothing could be simpler. Could it? Oh! And while you’re at it nominate five other bloggers.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, rather than asking you to write a five thousand word blog post, we’re inviting you to produce a blog post with up to 5 photos that really do ‘Capture the Colour’.

First I had to decide what photographs to use and since the sponsors of this competition are TravelSupermarket.com I used photographs from my travels around the world.

I’ve been lucky that I am fit, healthy and can afford to travel which has allowed me to visit some great countries over the years and I’d like to share some of them with you. I’ll start my journey in Australia and end up in America, travelling east to west.

I had a difficult decision to make about my first photograph. Should I go with something that was pre-dominantly Blue or show something with just a splash of colour.

All In A Row

The splash of blue won. This line of boats, for hire at Loch McNess in the Yanchep National Park, Western Australia caught my eye as I went for an early morning walk. It’s one of my favourite times of the day for photography, water can be quite still and mirror like, you get nice long shadows which can break up wide open spaces, and best of all, no one about to walk into the camera’s field of view.

Leaving Australia, we’re off to Hong Kong next and this photograph of Star Ferries, Twinkling Star, crossing Hong Kong Harbour.

Twinkling Star

The Star Ferry Company, is a passenger ferry service operator and has long been a tourist attraction in Hong Kong. It was founded in 1888 as the Kowloon Ferry Company, but later changed to its present name in 1898. The fleet of twelve ferries carry passengers across Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Between them, the ferries carry over 70,000 passengers a day and is a really inexpensive way of crossing the harbour. Every time I go to Hong Kong I make sure I take at least one ride on a Star Ferry, for no other reason than I really enjoy it. I love the hustle and bustle of the ferry terminal, the mad rush to get on, the harbour crossing and then trying to get off the ferry again when the ramps are moving up and down. If you look at the centre of  the Twinkling Star you can see the passenger ramps, one Green and one white.

Moving on to Continental Europe now and Spain. I missed out most of Asia because I’ve never visited. Some of the countries like Vietnam, India, Thailand and China are on my list, but you know how it  goes..

Olive Groves

Anyway, I love Spain in the springtime. The fields become carpeted with lots of these yellow buttercups like you can see here in this Olive Grove. This photograph was taken late in the afternoon and the flowers had started to close up. so they are not as bright as they could be. I’ve heard so many stories about these buttercups. Some Spanish farmers will leave them alone and won’t touch them. They believe that the buttercups provide nourishment for the olive trees and also protect them. Others do take them away and many Brits who live in Spain do not allow them to grow below their trees. As a photographer I suppose I am selfish and hope that they stay because in my opinion they do make for a good photograph. It’s hard to believe that as the year progresses and summer reaches it full height, these fields will become dry dusty landscapes.

I like to travel but sometimes that old saying “There’s No Place Like Home” does fit. North Wales where I currently call home has some magnificent flat sandy beaches and amazing sunsets. Yet, just a short drive and I can be visiting the mountains and lakes of the Snowdonia National Park. For my White image I’d like to show you the old lighthouse on Talacre Beach, five minutes drive from my house.

Talacre Lighthouse

The lighthouse has long since been abandoned, but it was shown briefly in a recent paint advert with an Old English Sheep Dog mascot. Yes, the lighthouse does lean. Oh! If you are interested it’s up for sale, but beware, at high tide you are cut off from land and this part of the coast can get quite stormy seas in winter time.

My final destination takes us to the Hoover Dam and the plaque to the workers who died during the construction of the dam. All right, it’s a bit tenuous with the link to Red but those rocks behind the memorial sort of fit the bill.

Hoover Dam Memorial

Designed by Oskar Hansen the plaque commemorates the 96 men who officially died during the construction of Hoover Dam. Originally it was set into the canyon wall on the Arizona side of the dam, but is now located on the Nevada side. It reads:

They died to make the desert bloom. The United States of America will continue to remember that many who toiled here found their final rest while engaged in the building of this dam. The United States of America will continue to remember the services of all who labored to clothe with substance the plans of those who first visioned the building of this dam.

I hope you have enjoyed my very brief tour. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, as usual I’ll do my best to answer them.

That’s the blog part done, now I’ve got to nominate five other bloggers


Judy blogs about photography, her home, garden and crafts.


Patti shares her photographs of events and people in New York.


Francine shows us life through her photography.


Keira shows us photos, comments and writes about where she lives, Mt Lawley/Highgate/North Perth.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge


Interesting challenge this week considering that only last week I was talking about Digital Art. I’m going to walk you through some of the steps I took in creating a Vintage Travellers Diary, which involves using Photoshop Brushes and merging in many photographs to create the final image.

diary final

Each of the elements that you see here are merged into the base background. It would take me far too long to show you all of the steps but I’d like to try and give you an idea of how an image like this is created. Lets start with the background.


The background is made from a textured photograph; the maps are Photoshop brushes applied over the top.

Next I will add the notebook and the three photographs, which themselves are merged items, a photograph of a polaroid frame and 3 of my photographs


That notebook looks blank at the moment so the next step is to fill it in.

pictures and text

I’ve added some additional photographs, putting some underneath the left hand pages and some on top with a paperclip. On the right page, it’s a Photoshop brush again and then some text over the top.

Finally, to complete the Vintage Travellers Diary I added the torn card, the coffee cup and the compass as you see in the first image at the top of the page.

If you want to have a go yourself at creating The Vintage Travellers Diary then follow this link to the original tutorial (not mine unfortunately).


Shop Local


There is a lot to be said about shopping local and supporting your local camera shop. Today I had a problem in that I fitted an older Macro Lens to my new Pentax K-30. It wouldn’t come off afterwards and I thought I had ruined the camera or would have to send it back for repair. Before doing that I called into my local camera shop, Cambrian Photography, where I had bought the camera. They were able to get the lens off for me without damaging my camera. Apparently one of the pins had failed to retract when I tried to release the lens. They freed it by inserting some film between the lens and the camera mount, which released the pin.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong (Zemanta links limit)

zemanta 1

This is not strictly a weekly photo challenge more of a gripe, but please read on as I think it’s important to us all. The subject this week is WRONG and I thought it was an ideal time to highlight this problem which has just started occurring. I’ve always been a firm believer in using the related links on my blog and generally I rely on Zemanta to point me to those links. If you’re not using Zemanta, why not? It comes free with your blog and I really recommend its use. What does it do? In a nutshell Zemanta will suggest photographs, links and keywords for you to include while you are writing your blog post. I never use the photographs, on my blog they’re all my own, but I do use Zemanta to find blog posts that are entitled Weekly Photo Challenge. These are what I insert as related links.

Sometimes I can reach up to about 40 related links which previously Zemanta has faithfully supplied. Once I insert them into my article a pingback is initiated to your blog should you happen to be on the list. That was until last week. Suddenly I find that I can only insert a maximum of 10 links. Either WordPress or Zemanta has imposed an arbitrary limit, without notification.

I’ve looked on the WordPress Support pages, currently they are still advising that you can use as many related articles as you like so either there is a fault or they need to update the advice. Talking of WordPress Support, have you ever tried to contact them? I have found no matter how you answer those 3 questions you will always end up in the forums. Now the forums are good, there are some very knowledgeable people on there, but no one seems to be able to provide an answer to this problem, if that’s what it is. Here’s what it looks like when you try to insert that additional link.

zemanta 2

That’s not very clear but to the right you can see that Zemanta has successfully displayed what the elated link is about. But, that grey box just to the side of it says you’ve reached your maximum of 10 inserts. I really do find this very frustrating.

If you are a Zemanta user are you finding the same problem? Or is everything ok with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Pentax K-30 Low Light


Pentax K-30 Low Light

The Pentax K-30 is really starting to impress me. I was walking back up from the beach having just completed a sunset shoot, you can see that here, and decided to stop off and photograph these buildings.

I’m still experimenting with the K-30 and by now the available light was getting pretty low. Normally for something like this I would get the tripod out but I was tired and just wanted to get home. The Pentax K-30 has a lot of preset shooting modes you can use, including one called night scene, which came out better than I thought it would, especially when you see the settings the camera used,

  • ISO 6400
  • f4
  • 1/25 second

Yes, it’s a bit noisy, that’s probably due to the high ISO speed, but nothing I can’t clean up using Topaz De-Noise. More importantly, it’s not blurred, considering the slow shutter speed and being hand-held. Must be due to the in-camera shake reduction.

All-in-all I’m pretty pleased with the Pentax K-30


Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong



What’s wrong with this image. Not so much, but it is overexposed and wouldn’t be easy to correct. It’s slightly blurred as well but I’m an optimist and I believe that no matter how bad a photograph is, you can always do something with it. For that reason I never throw anything away. Although this might not make a good photograph it can always be used to create something that I call Digital Art.

First thing I did with this photograph was to run it through my HDR program. Why? Because HDR will bring out some of the detail and enhance the colours a little bit.

Next, I used some of my favourite Photoshop filters on it, these are from, Topaz Labs and NIK Software. I have the complete suite of Topaz filters, They’re great for creative effects, but also for just enhancing photographs. Likewise NIK Colour Efex. It’s one of the best plugins for enhancing detail and tonal ranges in photographs and nearly all of my photographs get the NIK treatment to some degree.

Anyway, I said even a poor photograph can be used to create Digital Art, it’s just up to your imagination and this is what my imagination came up with.


Some of you might like it, some not, but next time you take a photograph and you’re considering whether it’s worth keeping, keep it. Have a play with Photoshop or whatever editor you use. It’s a great and fun way of learning how you to use your photo-editing program, as well.