It Is I

You start off with the best of intentions to get a blog post out before Christmas and then life seems to get in the way.

Somehow or other I’ve managed to strain my ankle again. So I’ve not been out much taking photographs and as a knock on effect I now seem to be having trouble with my knees.

However this week I manged to spend an hour at Talacre, wandering around the dunes and finally ending up on the beach by the Lighthouse. Someone has given the lighthouse a coat of paint, so it’s lost all its character.

Storm clouds building up over the Dee Estuary

Anyway, weather wasn’t that great, blowing a hoolie and with a constant threat of rain. Not the ideal place to get caught out as Talacre is very exposed with no shelter at all.

I was travelling light, just my new phone, no camera, trying to take the weight off of my knee and ankle.

Last Wednesday our local camera club, of which I’m a member, invited Adrian McGarry to give us a talk on using our smartphone cameras to take photos. Adrian has abandoned his heavy Canon gear and now just uses his iphone to take some incredible photographs.

The dunes at Talacre have been classed as an Area of Special Scientific Interest with some areas being protected and fenced off. During the day, especially in summer time you will always find holiday makers who are usually unawar that at nigh those same dunes come alive with Natterjack Toads, one of Wales’ rarest creatures. The dunes and marshes on the Dee Estuary are also popular with bird watchers who come to spot the migrating birds, who visit at different times of the year.

The Fence
Protected Areas of Talacre Dunes

To further protect the dunes and stop erosion areas where people walk a lot have wooden boardwalks laid. This serves to guide them along the correct paths and helps stop further erosion.

Wooden Boardwalk through the dunes

In 2013 the dunes, especially on the seaward side suffered terrible erosion from a storm surge with many of the high dunes being almost levelled. To help the natural habitat regrow, simple measures like placing old Christmas trees into the sand or building fences along the edge of the dunes help the marram grass to anchor. The sand blown by the wind will drift and bind to the trees or fences and eventually start to rebuild the dunes. It’s not an instant fix. It can take about twenty years or more for the dunes to get back to the height they once were on the seaward side.

Sand Dunes
Sand building up against a wooden fence shapes a new dune system

Whilst I was out I tried a little experiment to see if I could do a long exposure using smartphone camera. It’s possible, but I couldn’t hold the phone steady enough in the wind, so I think I would need to use a tripod with a smartphone mount to achieve satisfactory results. But I’m pleased with what I managed to achieve in the photograph below.

Motion Blur
Long Exposure hand-held but a tripod would be better

Out on the beach the weather seemed to be putting people off, with just one or two people walking dogs. One good thing, the recent storms have thrown a lot of debris up onto the beach so there are opportunities for photographs with foreground interest.

On The Beach
Gnarled tree trunk washed up on Talacre Beach

You might have noted that most of the photographs I took were in portrait mode. This happened for no other reason than that aesthetically they looked better that way. However I did take one or two in landscape mode.

Uncovered for the first time in about five years

The storms of 2013 washed away so much sand from the dunes that most of these stones have been buried since then. Recent storms have exposed them again. Compare this photograph from 2016 and the first photograph in this post to see what I mean.

Talacre Lighthouse
Talacre Lighthouse 2016

Well that’s it from me. Just for interest I have given up with Apple and have now turned to Android. My new phone is the Huawei Mate P20 Pro. which I’ve had for several months now.

To be honest I have always dismissed smartphone photographs as great for snaps, FB and IG. On my trip to Japan I did do those one a day posts to the blog using a smartphone photograph, but that was mainly for convenience and I never really took it any further.

However my new phone can shoot in RAW, has a pro mode which allows me to control the way I take a photograph and many more features which I’m only just starting to investigate.

What surprised me, there are lots of YouTube Channels dedicated to smartphone photography and how to get the best out of the cameras and software that they use. I’ve found a great channel dedicated to my brand of phone with hints, tips and examples of what can be achieved with the camera in my smartphone.

Will it replace my Olympus Pro Camera and lenses? Who knows? But I did replace my heavy Pentax gear for the lighter micro 4/3rds Olympus when I started struggling to walk up mountain sides in Snowdonia. Now I’ve got this ankle and knew problem……


14 thoughts on “It Is I

  1. Very nice set indeed Mike and I’m impressed by the image quality from the phone. Careful with the knee. I had knee surgery in May. The last one was in 2001 so I managed 18 years In between but the meniscus was torn and it needed doing. It took me 4 weeks to really get back walking hills again. So take it easy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was surprised at the feature set these new modern smartphones have for their cameras, Andrew. Previously I had stuck with my old and battered iphone 6 but my tel company talked me into updating for a tariff that was cheaper than what I was currently paying and they would throw in a new phone as well.

      My kneww has been giving me trouble for a good few weeks now so it looks like I might have to go and see the doc, but I’m putting it off, hoping it might just be a strain and it will heal in time.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Totally mesmerising and sucked me right into the scene. I can’t cope with a phone camera at all as I’m not good at holding it steady, even my camera suffers at times from camera-shake. I had to give up all my heavy equipment and now can use only a compact system camera (Lumix) with another smaller Sony compact system with a great telescopic lens for distance shots. Knee, hip and finger arthritis all take their toll eventually, but hey! photography is still fun.

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  3. Hope you ankle heals soon! The photos are wonderful, and I would never have guessed they came from a smart phone. I had no idea you could get a smart phone that shoots RAW! Not ready to buy a new phone (I have an iPhone 6 that really takes awful photos) but like you use a micro 4/3rds (Panasonic) and really like it.

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  4. The smart photos are impressive. I think the light house still is very interesting and I love the feel of the marsh grasses on the dunes which gives it a feeling of wildness and remoteness.

    I have a Samsung android and it a middle of the road, one. Can’t do anything near what yours does but it has 24 mega pixels which is quite high. I wanted a better phone camera but was told by the sales person that the phone I got had the highest pixels and I wanted that for more sharpness. I have not done much with mine- just really had no ambition to learn very much on how to use because I wanted to be able to get close ups of flowers and butterflies. I am not convinced that I can avail myself of what a smart phone can do and I still want to get a DSLR camera with a long lens. But I shall see.

    I hope you can look after your knee soon and get it all fixed up. I am sure it is very painful. Good luck and do take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently some is doing it up to live in it Yvonne, Although is has no electricity or running water as far as I am aware. It also gets cut off at high tide and takes a battering during stormy conditions. But it has survived for over two hundred and forty three years. It would make a good weekend home

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope your knee situation improves fast, Mike. Smartphones are doing great in most conditions especially in low light photography where otherwise you need more expensive gear. What smartphone are you using currently?

    Liked by 1 person

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