It’s A Kind Of Magic

Well for me it is. Over the years I have tried to capture a Kingfisher with little success. Too far away, or flying too fast for the camera focus to lock up on, always a disaster when I looked at the photographs. Until yesterday. So here it is my first ever Kingfisher that I’m happy enough to show you.

Kingfisher

To me that’s magic….

That’s it for this week, a really short one but I wanted to show you the photograph, not ramble on.

discover-badge-circle

Update – 25 November 2016 17:18 hrs: Not long after I posted this to the Weekly Challenge I received an email saying it had been selected for Discover, a place where WordPress highlight some of the best content published with WordPress. Wow, that is an honour.

Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.

annembray Magic Moment – From Studio to Gallery
aNadventures Magic
Fairy Tale World – Lizz Beth Ashley
Colline’s Blog View from a Train
magic – Photographic Trek
through the luminary lens All about the magic of water & photons – no joking!
Weekly Photo Challenge- Magic
It’s OK Because You Made It – The Foxy Igorota
Ruth E Hendricks Photography Late Afternoon at U of Pitt Campus
Julie Powell – Photographer & Graphic Artist WPC – Magic

Blackpool Illuminations–A Festival Of Light

Blackpool Illuminations have been going since 1879 when eight arc lights lit up the promenade. Nowadays the light show stretches for approximately 6 miles (10 km) along the promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the promenade to Bispham at the northern end. This year, 2016, the light show will run from the  2nd September until the 6th of November and use over a million bulbs in the light displays. For more information you can follow this link.

Anyway let’s get going with the photographs. As we set off from our hotel I caught this murmuration of starlings before they settled down to roost for the night. It was interesting to watch for a while but I was here for the lights, so time to move on.

Black Cloud

Without the light show Blackpool’s sea front is already quite well illuminated as the various attractions have their own lights which are on all year round. That’s the Blackpool Tower in the background.

Blackpool Tower

Still waiting for the lights to come it was time to take a wander around the amusement arcades on the Central Pier. Free entry, but you pay a fortune for everything else. Yeah I know I’m just a cynical grumpy old man. Oh! By the way, it was half-term this week. All the children were there, the little darlings……..

Ice Cream

Like all amusement arcades there’s the usual mix of “pay your money and take your chances” stalls. Oh! And of course don’t forget your highly over-priced miniature doughnuts, that’s the correct English spelling, ask the BBC.

Hot Donuts

It’s starting to get dark now and it’s time for the donkeys to come off the beach. They were moving so fast that they’re just a blur.

Donkeys

We’re still waiting for the lights to come on and so is everyone else. Way down at Starr Gate the traffic is queuing to start the run, well actually it’s a crawl, along the seafront. It’s at a dead stop and the whole time I was there, about twenty minutes, that white bus moved forward exactly 0 feet. It’s far easier to buy a 24 hour tram pass. You can hop off and on as often as you like, in either direction, for £5 GBP or $6 USD.

Queuing Traffic

Lots of light are on by now, including rides, street lights amusement arcades. Great for photographers to practice shooting lights at night,

Globe Lights

For fans of Doctor Who, who isn’t, there’s a static display on one of the roundabouts as you head towards North Shore.

Doctor Who

But this is what I really was after. Light Trails. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has a great feature called Live Composite Mode. It works by taking one photograph but constantly adding light as it changes. It makes it so much easier to get these light trails which are of trams passing by the camera. Watch the video, it’s only 1m 34s long and it explains Live Composite far better than I can.

You can see the fixed lights all along the seafront but the trails are from moving objects. I love this feature and I’m still experimenting with it to get the right settings.

Light Streaks

That’s it, just a few photographs from our one day trip to the amazing Blackpool Illuminations.

The Mach Loop

I’m on a roll at the moment, so here’s a quick post about the Mach Loop. It’s an area here in North Wales where low flying military aircraft can be photographed as they fly through the valleys. There’s no timetable of when this will happen, but generally you can say Monday to Friday, usually during daylight hours, although Friday is usually POETS day so there may be limited traffic then.

To get there I have to leave the house at six and after an hour and a half drive it’s time to climb up the side of a hill to the vantage point which puts you level or even above the aircraft as they fly through the valley. In reality there are several vantage points but my favourites are CAD East and CAD West. It’s very rare that you wont find other photographers up there waiting for the same thing as you and often that wait can be long. Sometimes it’s three hours of boredom followed by ten seconds of sheer panic as you spot the incoming aircraft, get you camera up, focus and fire the shutter, hoping that you’ve got a least one in sharp enough focus.

CAD-East-Base-Camp

But of course, we’re photographers with a common interest so it’s not really hours of boredom, we chat, talk about gear, which aircraft we seen, keep in contact with the other photographers who are on the other vantage points, have a look at flightradar 360 to see what military aircraft are flying and where they are, and most importantly listen to the radio scanners for those magic words “low level LFA7”. And the tents? Not normally for sleeping, more to keep your kit dry, the wind off, it can be cold at those heights, and generally act as your own little shelter against the elements.

So when your up that hill you have to carry, camera, lenses spare batteries, food, water, hot drink, and the tent. The only good thing is the load is lighter on the way down. Is it worth it? To me yes. If I get one good photograph on a day, I’m a happy guy. If I don’t there’s always the banter, and amazing scenery to enjoy. On a clear day you can see so far.

On the CAD east side you get to see the underside of the aircraft as well as head on photographs as they make their approach. It just gives you that little bit of extra time to pick them up and focus.

Hawk T2

Tornado GR4

CAD West, you’ll get cockpit photographs but the difficulty is that you are photographing into the sun which can make it difficult.

Tornado Swept Wing

Hawk T2

At the end of the day I’ve been on the hillside ten and a half hours, it’s six o’clock and it’s time to go home. Faced with another hour and a half drive home I’m eager to get off the hill, and I’m not alone. Military activity has slackened off. The scanners have been quiet for a good hour the radar picture shows nothing up flying in the vicinity so we all make the decision to head home.

All-Packed-Up

The tents get packed up, camera gear is stowed, we take all of our litter and head home.

Fujiholics Liverpool Photowalk–Sep 2016

Saturday saw me in Liverpool for the Fujiholics Liverpool Photowalk. But with my Olympus E-M1 still in for repair I was using a 6-year-old Point and Shoot camera. Not the greatest camera in the world, with a poor battery life, but hey it takes photographs and being small is pretty discrete. But I’ve never really worked seriously with this little camera so it’s going to be interesting to see if I can get some half decent results from it. One thing though, there I am on Saturday morning, no camera bag, no heavy camera, with the advantage of total freedom. Now all I need are some good results.

Today I’m going to be using Black and White for my photographs and I’m starting with the reflection of one of the towers of the iconic Liver Building in the window of a restaurant.

Oh Me Oh My

Good start, but I’m noticing there’s quite a lot of noise with this little camera, especially in the darker areas but you have to work with what you’ve got.

Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image. The less time and effort you spend worrying about your equipment the more time and effort you can spend creating great images. The right equipment just makes it easier, faster or more convenient for you to get the results you need. – Ken Rockwell – Your Camera Does Not Matter, 2005

Tattoo Shop

What a strange photograph! The shop is in perfect focus. The two ladies are blurred, fair enough, but it almost looks like they are partially see through. I’m not knocking it in any way and if I tried to get something like this with the Olympus, I probably never could, unless I used a tripod and slowed the shutter speed right down which incidentally was 1/30 sec @f3.7

As we slowly make our way around a pre-planned route it’s inevitable that the large group we started with will break up into smaller groups as people stop to take photographs. That’s fine follow the map and you can soon catch up with everyone. But on these photowalks the route can be anywhere between 3 and 5 Km so come prepared

A photographer may not just walk the streets but he/she does a lot of walking, with a purpose, so the most important piece of equipment after the camera is a good pair of shoes. A writer can do a lot of work from a hotel room but a photographer has to be there, so he/she is in for a hell of a lot hiking. – David Hurn

SAM_3298-Edit.jpg

Telephones! Nowadays everyone is one the phone. You can get very close and they probably won’t notice you, especially with a little camera. But one of the things I have noticed, these are very flat, smooth. Probably because they are out of focus. Maybe I’m just too close to people.

On The Phone

Now this wasn’t intentional, because at the time I didn’t know I was getting poor results, but in the photograph below, it’s much more in focus and that’s because I was standing further away

Smokie Mo's

I like the one above. He started laughing and joking with me. He knew I was taking photographs but was quite happy for me to go ahead. Now this next one is the same. it looked so interesting and working on the principle of “if you don’t ask you don’t get” I went into the barbers and asked if it was ok. They were totally happy  to let me take some photographs and just carried on as though I wasn’t there, except of course they guy in the background who sort of started posing.

Haircut

There’s a lot of regeneration going on in Liverpool with old buildings being knocked down to make way for the new.

Regeneration

Finally I’d like to leave you with my only colour photograph of the day. . The bride knew we were coming and so a lot of photographers gathered to capture her and her husband when the emerged from Saint George’s hall. After the Pro Tog had done the official photographers we were allowed to take some as well.

The Wedding

Congratulations to the newly married couple. That’s it from me

Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

I’m all at sea this week, not me personally, just the photographs. For this weeks challenge we’re going just off the coast of Prestatyn, my home town. So let’s make a start. First up is a partnership between the Rhyl Lifeboat and an Royal Air Force Rescue Helicopter. Sadly we won’t see this anymore as the aging fleet of Sea King helicopters are being phased out and Helicopter Rescue Services are now done by a civilian contractor. In this case it’s just an exercise. practicing transfer to and from the lifeboat. I’ll miss the big yellow helicopters as we often would see them in the Snowdonia National Park.

Rescue Me

On to another partnership, this time between Wales and Ireland. The Nostag is a cable laying ship which is putting in place the undersea power cable which will allow the two countries to share electricity resources. The cable is dropped into an underground trench and then remote vehicles fill the trench in.

Nostag

OK! Not strictly at sea with this one but everyone calls them sea gulls. In reality, their Herring Gulls and a damn nuisance. They’re urban flying rats, raiding bins, attacking other birds, crapping all over roofs and cars, attacking people during the breeding season and just after. Yet, nothing can be done about them, in the UK they are a protected species. But the chick s ar kind of cute and make for a good photograph, as long as you use a long lens and keep your distance. The parents will take it turn about to sit on the nest whilst the eggs are hatching and then once hatched, one or the other will stay very close whilst the other goes in search of food.

Proud Parents

My final photograph this week is from a competition involving fast little boats call ZapCats. It takes two people, one to steer and the other to balance out weight distribution as these little boats hurtle around a pre-determined course.

Zapcats

Well, that’s it for this week and I hope you enjoyed the photographs. As usual, here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.

Wall of Fusions Freedom is Escapade
Partners in – – Lisa Jill Singh
Loving Couples – Weekly Photo Challenge
Elizabatz Gallery Weekly Photo Challenges- Partners
Half a photograph Music
Claudia Curici Photography What a day…
hereisandrea weekly photo challenge- partners
Giggles & Tales Partners – Weekly Photo Challenge!
The Everyday Photographer by J.E. Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge- Partners
West Sac Photographer Partners