Another Great Sunset

I just knew it was going to happen, a great sunset. You could see the way the clouds were forming that it might be worth taking a trip down the beach. So when the Prestatyn and District Camera Club finished last night I headed straight down there. Not Talacre this time just our local beach.

Now the only thing of interest worth photographing on our wide swept beaches are the Groyne Markers. They’re there to make sure sailors don’t run aground on the sea defences which disappear at high tide.

Not fantastic, but put them in silhouette, and you’ve got a reasonable photograph. Anyway it’s more about the sky. So here it is in all it’s glory last night.

Prestatyn Sunset

Enough said – Mike

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It’s Saturday–Time For Black And White

The last three weeks have been pretty hectic with not much time for photography. A quick trip to Big Pool Wood and Talacre lighthouse to test the new camera and last Saturday I managed to arrange a day In Chester to take some photographs….and as usual the best laid plans etc. It was raining, dark grey skies, really overcast, but “plans is plans” and off I went. A good few weeks back I did a post about Chester Cathedral and Saturday was supposed to have been the architecture, Chester has some amazing Black and White buildings and covered walkways, called The Rows. The E-M1 Mk2 is weather-proof, so rain doesn’t really matter too much, apart from getting spots of water on the lens front, guaranteed to happen if you are shooting architecture, so Plan B, I always have a plan, was dusted off and brought into action. Street Photography.

The lovely thing about street photography is the best of is absolutely no way you can stage or even think of – it just like – it happened and isn’t it weird and it is gone.. I think the crazies stuff is the stuff that is generally real and the stuff you can make up is less impressive. – Matt Stuart

If you understand what Matt was saying, let me know.

Wet Chester

See what I mean about those lovely Black and White buildings, another day, maybe. I found a good spot to stand, it’s directly opposite me just to the left of the steps and two windows in. One it was out of the rain, you can see the dry spot on the street, and two it was ideal for catching my victims unwilling subjects as they came round the corner.

No matter what city you are in, at least here in the UK, Saturday is always good for Hen and Stag parties as the next two photographs show.

Strange People

Here comes the bride, can’t understand why she has shut her eyes, maybe it’s a surprise

Bride To Be

Chester is one of those town, they see so many tourists and photographers that they really don’t pay that much attention to another fool with a camera…..

I'm On The Phone

…..and those Black and White buildings are really fantastic to photograph. Just a shame people get in the way.

Friends

I’ve heard of The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, even been and visited it, but this is some serious lean. Ooops! It’s me. I haven’t got the horizon straight.

The Tower

Coffee time, at this point in the day I could do with one myself. This is another nice spot to take a photograph. People seem totally unaware that I’m standing there.

Coffee Time

On the same street, just a little bit further up and another convenient spot to take photographs.

Street photography is a renewable resource. If you don’t like what you see wait 5 minutes or walk a hundred feet. – Craig Coverdale

The Two Of Us

Watch out! They’re coming. On a wet day like Saturday he was doing a roaring trade in selling umbrella’s.

Smoke Time

….and there were lots of them about. Big ones, small one, all designed to poke your eye out. I’m tall and when I walk about in areas where there are lots of umbrellas I have to keep a constant eye, excuse the pun, for someone with their head down, scurrying along, underneath an umbrella.

Tourists

In Chester, there is a great area called The Rows. It’s a series of covered walkways with shops on one side that allow you to get about without getting wet. Well that’s how I look at it….

The Rows - Chester

Of course there are those who don’t mind getting wet, I other the other hand do like to keep dry, so this was taken from that nice little sheltered spot I mentioned earlier.

Happy Clappy

My final photograph for this week . I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did taking them – Mike

The Two Of Us Again

A Visit To The Mach Loop LFA7

A lot has been said elsewhere about the Mach Loop so I’ll keep this short. It’s an area in Wales where military aircraft practice low-level flying through several valleys. So if you can get high enough you will be at the same height or maybe even higher than the aircraft transiting through the loop. Of course, being military, there’s no public schedule of when an aircraft is likely to go through, so it’s a case of get there early, stay late, be prepared for hours of inactivity and then sudden bursts of activity. . This means you have to carry enough food and water to sustain yourself while you wait. Of course being Wales, you must also be prepared for changing weather conditions as well.

The Valley
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/1250s at f4.2, ISO 200

Our plan for the two days we would be in this area was to photograph from CAD West, the right hand side of this photograph and the following day use CAD East on the opposite side of the valley. CAD West allows you to photograph the cockpit side of the aircraft as they fly through, but during the morning you are shooting into the sun which can cause problems with shadows. From CAD East you will see the underside of the aircraft but you don’t have the same problems with the sun until late afternoon.

Right, let’s get the aircraft in…if only it were that easy. We waited from 8:30 until about 12 before the first aircraft, a Tornado from the Royal Air Force, came through. Not unusual, to wait that time and then you have to be quick with the camera. These aircraft fly fast and from seeing them enter until they fly away, you’ve probably got about 10 seconds but cut that in half for the real close-ups.

Tornado
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/1600s at f5.6, ISO 200

However if you are lucky enough to get a “Fat Albert”, Hercules C130 you’ve got all the time in the world.

Fat Albert
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/800s at f4.4, ISO 200

Yep! We’re higher than he is. Oh! I love these, they’re so easy to photograph.

Our next low flyer was this juvenile bird. I think it’s a Wheatear but regular readers will know my bird identification skills have never been that great. Anyway this little guy kept flying close to all the photographers. He was looking for any scraps of food we would drop. Quick dash, scoop it up and then fly back to the fence to wait for the next titbit.

Wheatear
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/640s at f5.6, ISO 200

Did I mention we were on the side of that hill on the hottest day of the year so far. Temperatures soared to 30C – 90F which meant we had to carry more water and make sure we were well covered in sunscreen. Factor 50 for me, I’m a “peely wally” Scot.  This phrase is often used to describe the Scottish complexion but alabaster or ivory might be more complimentary. In other words I burn when exposed to the sun. And another thing from the car-park to our location is a climb of approximately 100m – 328ft. Doesn’t seem much but the last part is a steep climb at about a 45 degree angle, even early in the morning it was hot work.

Anyway I digress, back to the aircraft…

Hawk T2
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/800s at f5.6, ISO 200

Next to come through was a Hawk from RAF Valley, it’s the two-seater version and I caught this one just as he banked to come through the gap.

CAD East
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/640s at f5.6, ISO 200

I wonder if the guys up on CAD East got that one. That’s there we’re going the next day. Looks hot up there as well.

After that little flurry of activity it all went quiet and we sat on the hill baking in the sun. Some took to their tents, others just waited it out listening to their scanners for any signs of activity

Waiting
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/2500s at f4, ISO 200

After a couple of hours of waiting, news spread that a Tornado was inbound.

Tornado Swept Wing
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/1000s at F5.6, ISO 200

This boy’s in a hurry, swept wing, he’s not hanging about, that’s for sure. I managed to get this one photograph of him…and the noise. There’s nothing like the sound of a military jet engine in a semi confined space. Sheer joy! After that we decided it was time to get off the hill. We’d run out of water and really needed to re-hydrate, fortunately there was plenty in the car, even if it was going to be warm.

Rather than go home I’d booked a night’s stay at Plas Gwyn a fantastic B+B in he nearby village of Dolgellau. Julie and Jan made us really welcome and if you’re ever in this part of the world I can highly recommend a stay here.

Overnight the expected thunderstorms rolled in, here was heavy rain but our next day started clear and certainly a lot cooler. So after a hearty breakfast at Plas Gwyn we set of for CAD East. Less of a climb today. You can drive up a farm track which will get you near the top of the hill, leaving just a short walk up to a good vantage point overlooking CAD West and the valley. There’s limited parking though and if you go up this route don’t forget to shut the gates and keep the speed low as the sheep and cows roam freely here. Once on the top the view is magnificent.

CAD East
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/500s at F8, ISO 200

There was a lot of low cloud further down the valley but it shouldn’t stop any low-level flying as the aircraft turn as they get over the lake. So it’s just a case of waiting now. There were a few guys up there already and they’re a friendly bunch so while we wait, we chat and listen to the scanners for air activity. But we could see a problem developing, those level clouds were approaching fast and they were starting to look really thick.

The Clouds
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R 1/6400s at f4, ISO 200

Pretty soon we were sitting in the clouds, the temperature had dropped dramatically, but worst of all we could hear aircraft flying above us, for F15’s but they wouldn’t fly low-level through this muck. Even if they had we wouldn’t see them.

Low Cloud
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, 1/380s at f2, ISO 100

Anyway by 2pm it was obvious that this cloud wasn’t going to clear fast, so it was time to call it a day and get off the hill. But when you have no visual landmarks it’s all too easy to get disoriented and go the wrong way. Fortunately, because of continuous use there’s a reasonably well-marked track and a fence line to follow which will get you back to the car park.

I hope you enjoyed this short visit to the Mach Loop with me, Maybe we’ll do it again soon, but not in such hot weather.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

The Snowdonia National Park boasts areas of natural beauty; it’s I shoot most of my landscape photographs. The park has an area of roughly about 838 square miles.

Snowdonia National Park

Boundary Markers for the park can be seen all over and surprisingly the park not only encompasses the beautiful mountains and rivers I photograph, it also includes farmland and forests.

Within the park though there are natural boundaries. Flowing rivers. This one is pretty quiet just now, but when winter and the rains come it will be a flowing torrent.

Afon Nant Peris

Mountains also act a natural boundaries. Only the fit and sometimes foolish are prepared to tackle them and each year we hear of someone being killed or seriously injured whilst on the mountains. The Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, who are all volunteers, were called out 34 times in August this year. In total they spent 750 man hours helping people who were in trouble on Snowdon and the surrounding mountains.

Have a look at this video showing one of the most dramatic  and dangerous walks in Snowdonia, the knife-edge track over Crib Goch. I’ve been walking down at the lake you can see in the video, watching people walk Crib Goch high above me, when the clouds have rolled in, completely covering the summit.

Dramatic. I couldn’t do it. Or maybe I should say I wouldn’t do it. I’m not experienced enough and I know my limits.

Of course in the park there are also man-made boundaries, gates, stone walls and barbed wire fences. Mainly they are there to keep the sheep in, not the walker and climber out. It always amazes me though when you see a stone wall which almost runs up to the summit a mountain in the National Park. The amount of effort which must have gone into, not only building the wall, but getting the stones there in the first place.  Look closely at this photograph you can see the wall stretching into the distance.

The Gate

Fortunately, there are many paths through the National Park and to save damage to the walls, wooden styles are provided for walkers to climb over.

Gate and Steps

Weather of course can act a boundary. Whilst I’m happy to walk up to Cwm Idwal, one of the easiest walk in Snowdonia, I’d think twice about doing it in bad weather conditions or heavy snow. Not entirely true. I have been up there when it was snowing. Not fun and I was glad to walk back down again.

52/2013 Week 4

Well that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge. Pay them a visit, you won’t regret it.

https://vannillarock.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/boundaries-flags-and-national-identity/
https://thewishfactor.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/weekly-photo-challenge-boundaries/
https://gottatakemorepix.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/wpc-boundaries/
http://asawyersdaughter.com/2015/10/05/weekly-photo-challenge-boundaries/
https://corleyfoto.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/weekly-photo-challenge-boundaries/
https://asnappshot.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/manhattan-bridge/
http://susielindau.com/2015/10/05/unlock-your-imagination-photo-essay/
https://dspda.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/weekly-photo-challenge-boundaries/
https://senkaustav.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/boundaries-and-a-breakthrough/
https://pictorailmotions.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/2/

52 in 2015 Week 27 Natural Light

How hard can that be? Natural Light, it’s all around us during the day time. Unless, of course you are in a cold and dark cellar somewhere. Probably not, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Anyway, all I have to do is pick up m camera, step outside, fire off the shutter, and I’ve probably got something I can use. But it’s got to be more than that.

52 in 2015 Week 27 Natural Light

So I waited until the sun was setting, nice and low on the horizon. At this time of the year, when it does, it bathes the bookcase in a nice golden light which later turns a deep red. Perfect and I didn’t even have to leave the house.

Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

For my next one I did just step outside, into the garden. At this time of the year the Red Hot Poker is in full bloom and the bees love it. As you get closer to the plant you can hear them buzzing as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. Using a zoom lens I decided to play around with the DOF of this one, blurring the background to make the flower stand out. My wife has a saying, “Red and Green should never be seen together”. But I disagree with this one. What do you think?

52 in 2015 Week 27 Natural Light - 2

Well that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

52 in 2015 Week 3 Silhouette

Week 3 already and another hard week to try to get a photograph. Weather has been the hampering feature. Poor light, grey skies, bitter cold, gale force winds, not ideal for standing outside with a camera. But last Friday the skies cleared a little in the late afternoon and I took myself down to the seafront hoping to maybe catch the setting sun and a silhouette. In the end I came up with two and I must admit this first one is just bordering on the edge of being a silhouette, but nevertheless it fills the brief.

52 in 2015 Week 3 Silhouette

Although the skies had cleared, providing some good light, it was still bitter cold with the wind blowing off the sea. With the tide on the way in as well I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot on Friday afternoon. But wrapped up well I hung around to take both these photographs.

52 in 2015 Week 3 Silhouette

This is more of a silhouette and with the sun starting to dip it was getting colder and colder. By now the sea was creeping in behind and in front of me so it was definitely time to get off the beach before I got my feet wet.

There you have it, Week 3 completed, only another 49 to go. Next week look out for an opening in a door or window, maybe a hole in a fence. I have some ideas but once again it all depends on the weather

Sunset on Ffrith Beach – North Wales

This is a really quick post but I just wanted to share with you the beautiful sunset we were lucky to watch tonight. At first I didn’t think it was going to be all that good. Yes, there were some nice cloud formations but the sun had already dropped behind Snowdon and the sky just wasn’t colouring up at all. Don’t get me wrong. I quite like this photograph but it could do with a bit more colour in the sky.

Ffrith Beach

But long experience of sunset photography has taught me to wait around a while, sometimes Mother Nature saves her best for when the tourists have gone, and tonight was no exception. The photograph above was taken at 16:54, but look what happens to the sky 20 minutes later at 17:15.

Sunset on the Ffrith

Mother nature at her best and one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in a long time.. The moral of the story, hang around after the sunset, sometimes you will see something so much better.