Track Day at Trac Mon, Anglesey

As well as the beautiful National Park and coastline within my doorstep, I’m also lucky to have a several nature reserves and a race track within easy car distance of my house. With two big cities nearby I’m also sorted for street photography. But this week I’m going to show you some photographs from Trac Mon, which is a race track situated on Anglesey.

Now the good thing is, if you attend on a Track Day you get in for free to watch the car drivers or bikers testing their vehicles around the track. Other than the pit-lanes and competitors area you are free to take photographs as long as it’s not for commercial use.

Caterham

So on a beautiful sunny day we turned up, chose a spot to see the action and started clicking away. I must say this point I was using the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk 2 coupled with an Olympus M 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II lens. Altough the lens will happily stretch to 300mm most of the photographs during the day were shot between 75mm and 150mm, mainly because you can get quite close to the track.

Blue amd Yellow

The idea behind a Track Day  is for drivers to test their cars, but not competitively. Normal race track rules apply and you can overtake, if someone is going slower, indeed they are expected to get out-of-the-way, but it is not a race.

White

All sorts of cars are on the track, some are road going and can be driven off the track and onto our normal roads. Others are built especially for racing. But the one thing they have in common, inside they must be equipped with all the correct safety equipment.

Yellow Peril

You’ll also notice that the drivers are wearing safety gear as well.

Catch Me

On the day I shot hundreds of photographs and unusually for me I was shooting JPEG’s instead of RAW. Mainly because JPEG’s save faster to the camera’s memory card, but I’ve come to realise recently that 99% of the photographs I make public are for my blog or Facebook. SOOC photographs save me a lot of time, so a quick crop and away you go.

Estate

But something else, previously I’ve always kept everything I shoot. but I have now started to seriously cull what I leave on my hard drive.

Highfield

Anyway a few more photographs to finish off what was a really enjoyable day at the track……..

Scooby Doo

……..except for the sun-burn. Trac Mon is tight on the Anglesey coast and there’s a nice cool breeze. So yours truly didn’t put any sun screen on. Silly boy, a hot flush, bright red nose, I would have put Rudolph to shame and tingling ear extremities where the sun caught me. Stupid thing is, I had the sun-screen in my camera bag. I always carry it in the summers months just for this very reason.

Number 20

Nice little car, that green one, and he wasn’t hanging around on the track. I’m pleased with this one because I managed to track him and get the background blurred. Not a technique I use often, being mainly a landscape photographer.

It's Blue

And a little blue one as well. Look at the blur on the front wheel.

My final photograph is of this Ariel Nomad. I had a chance to chat to the driver down in the pits before he started on the track and he was a really nice guy, sharing a lot of information about his pride and joy with me.

Ariel Nomad

That’s it for this week and one final though. I really do wish the team would bring back the Weekly Photo Challenge. It was my main motivator to go out and capture photographs…. and of course write this blog.

 

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Talacre

The semi-final of the World Cup is on. England are playing Croatia and everyone says “it’s coming home” (the world cup that is). England last won it in 1966.

However as a Scotsman, living in Wales, I’m off out for a bit of photography at Talacre with a few other togs who couldn’t care less whether England win or lose. I later heard they lost. So perhaps we can get back to some sanity in my house where “she who must be obeyed” is not screaming “c’mon ref he’s diving” or my all time favourite “oooooooohhh, he’s hit the post”.

So anyway down on the beach, timed for sunset (we didn’t get one) and an incoming tide. More on that later. To get to the beach you have to walk through the sand dunes before finally getting a sight of the abandoned lighthouse.

Through The Dunes

As you can see the sky is grey, and pretty flat so in order to get some interest in the photographs I’ve decided to add a 6 stop filter, with an 0.6 ND Grad and shoot some long exposures using a tripod and remote shutter release to steady the camera.With the incoming tide raining the waves a bit , the ND filter will smooth out the sea and hopefully I’ll get some good effects. The ND Grad should help bring some definition into the clouds as well.

Talacre Lighthouse

I’ve always been an advocate of “if you go to the beach check the tide times and height” and I did. I also noticed that where I was standing to take this photograph was a sort of sandbar and behind me was a dip. Ideal conditions for the incoming tide to creep in behind you, and it did. So there I am, thinking “just one more at a two second exposure” and then I’ll head further up the beach. My camera buddies had already moved and where shouting me to shift. When I turned around, oops. Lots of water between me and dry land. Fortunately I did have my wellies on so was able to wade through the water which was rising pretty fast and was just about up to the top of my wellies.

In reality I wasn’t in any real danger, because I could have run further along the beach and crossed where it was still pretty shallow.

But the moral is “don’t be distracted by one more shot and always be aware of what’s hapining all around you”. How many times have I told myself “no photograph is worth putting yourself in harms way”, and yet…….

So my final photograph is another of the Lighthouse.

Talacre

Last night was a bit of an experiment for me. I’m a proponent of shooting in RAW. I have been for years, but just recently I read an article about using JPEG if you weren’t going to be altering the photograph too much in Lightroom or Photoshop, which is generally true for me. Probably not ideal conditions for such an experiment but I decided to stick with it anyway. I’d also been reading about a different way of processing for Black and White and also decided to adopt that method as well. With the non, existant sunset and grey skies I thought that might be a good idea.

So there you are, a few from last nights trip to Talacre.

Miyajima Island

This is going to be a long one, so get a drink, sit down and have a look at the photographs from Miyajima Island. This is only a selection, I spent all day on the island and although I visited the most important temples and shrines, I know I missed some. There was so much to photograph so let’s get on with it and I’ll show you some.

Miyajima Island

A regular ferry service runs from Miyajima Guchi to Miyajima, the Island of Gods. The island is situated on the Seto Inland Sea and is considered to be one of the most scenic spots in Japan. Itskushima Shrine is a World Heritage site but there are other shrines, temples and historical monuments which are well worth a visit.

So from the ferry terminal I made my way through the Omotesando Shopping Arcade headin towards my first temple

Omotesando Shopping Arcade

But I had to have a look at what was on offer in some of the shops as I strolled through the arcade

Food Glorious Food

Looks interesting, but far to early in the morning for me. Talking of early, the deer love the tourists and they wait for them coming off the ferry. To see if they’ve goy any food in their backpacks. seriously they can get quite aggressive and you see them everywhere on the island

Ferral Deer

But I can’t be hanging around here so it’s onwards and upwards. Time to start climbing up the mountain to some of the shrines and temples.

But before I do, I’ll leave you with this one of the Torii Gate taken from the shoreline before I headed up the mountain. I would have loved to have photographed this at sunset but to be honest after spending all day on the mountainside in the heat, when I came back down I just wanted to get back on the ferry and head for home.

The Great Torii

I really should watch where I’m going. Second day in Japan and I was so eager to get a photograph of ToyoKuni Shrine that I fell over a some small rocks surrounding the base of th etree. Luckily there was no damage to my camera or lens.

Toyokuni Shrine

The five storied Pagoda. There’s no easy way to photograph this, as due to the confines around it, you sort of have to look up. Now normally I would be complaining about clear blue skies, not ideal for photography as it makes for very harsh light, but in this case it helps the pagoda to stand out.

Five Storied Pagoda

Theres so mch to see see and photograph here, including these prayers left by vistors to the shrine.

Prayers

Onwards and upwards as they say, past the prayer wheels. It is said that spinning the wheels is the equivalent of reading one volume of the Hannya-shinkyon or Heart Sutra.

Mani Wheels

Further up the mountain I came to the Daishi- Do Hall. It was so peaceful here compared to the hustle and bustle of the lower levels and the town. It was also a little bit cooler as there was a slight breeze and lots of shade.

Daishi-do Hall

I was struggling to work out what these figures are at the entrance to one of the shrines. There was no one to ask but I think they are dieties. I could be wrong though.

Statues

On the way up to the I found these statues, all with different facial expressions. If I’ve read correctly, in total there are 500 of them and they are called Rakan Statues

Rakan Statues

Carrying on in this upper level I kept coming across different little figures in lovely cool shaded areas, often with small streams of chanelled water running past them.

In all there are seven figures which are believed to redeem the spirits of deceased babies and children. To console the souls of loved one,s worshippers pour water over the images, which would explain why I could see the small streams..

 

Mizukake Jizo

One thousand Buddha’s line the sides of this shrine.

1000 Buddhas

Here’s a close-up

Little Buddha

For me this was the find of my visit to Miyajima, and I stumbled on it more by chance than anything else. I really should read the guides books, but they are like reading camera manuals. Anyway, it’s called Henjokutso Cave. Inside the cave there are 88 principal Buddhist icons. Followers believe that instead of visiting the 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, they can be given the blessing of the pilgrimage route by visting Henjokutso Cave.

Henjokutsu Cave

So that’s it from Miyajima. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

In The Doldrums

For the past few weeks I have I felt like I am in the Doldrums. Becalmed in a sea of indifference to blogging and photography, with no interest in either. There’s an area of high pressure sitting over the UK providing really good weather, we British always talk about the weather, and yet I am feeling low. That high pressure has brought some really flat calm seas and very wispy cloud coupled with some very good sunrises and sunsets. Yep! I’m not sleeping too well either so I’ve seen a few good sunrises these past few days.

Oh! And the World Cup is on, boring, I’ll leave that to ”she who must be obeyed” to watch. So, in an effort to shake myself out of this period of disquiet I went down to the beach the other night to see if I could capture a decent sunset and it wasn’t too bad.

Way off on the horizon you can see the amount of wind turbines we have in the bay. Some people find them a blot on the landscape, personally, I don’t mind them as they add a bit of interest to the photograph. That dark cloud you see, moving from centre to right of the photograph is from the gas terminal burning off excess gas. Normally you don’t see it and most people visiting the coast wouldn’t even know it is there.

To get this photograph I was standing on the rocks, the tide is incoming but I’m in no danger as it’s a gentle tide at the moment. To get the sea looking milky like this I used a 10 stop ND Filter at F22 giving me an exposure of about 2m 30s. Quite Ethereal…..

Tides In

Further along the beach I came to the NOVA Centre, a mixture of Gym/Fitness Centre, Swimming Pool and Café. The brightly coloured buildings really stand out on the sea-front and are a popular attraction during the summer months, even although it closes about about 9-30 pm

Nova Centre

Personally, I never use it, but it does make for a good photograph and a photograph similar to this is used by our local camera club, which I’m a member of. By the way if you want to see some great photographs from some very talented photographers have a look for @prestatyntoggers which will take you to our Facebook page.

Shades

Really looking good now. The sun has gone down and everything is flat calm. You can’t see them but behind that wall there are lots of people watching the sunset. Reminds me of Key West in Florida, where the tourists, including me, all gather to watch the sunset.

My final photograph is “Dechrau a Diwedd” which I’ve photographed many times before. It’s a metal sculpture celebrating the “beginning or end”, depending on where you start from, of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail, a 283km (176ml) footpath along the Welsh/English border. The trail, which attracts walkers from all over the world, mostly follows the remnants of Offa’s Dyke, an 8th century earthwork, ordered by Mercian King Offa.

If you are starting the trail from Prestatyn walkers would see the sculpture against the rising sun in the eastern sky, a reference to the start of their journey. If you are arriving in Prestatyn you see the sculpture against the setting sun in the western sky, a reference to the end of their journey. That’s of course if they arrive at sunrise or sunset, but you get the symbolism.

The burnished metal sculpture takes on the colours of the sunset. I could never tire of photographing this because every time I get a different photograph.

Dechrau a Diwedd

Well that’s it. I hope you enjoyed the photographs?

PS. At some time I must get around to sorting and deciding which photographs to use from my Japan trip. That happened weeks ago and although I have looked at them, that’s all I  have done.

Gingaku-ji

It’s three weeks since I got back from Japan and only now am I getting around to really look at the photographs I have taken there. Since I got back we’ve been working on completely renovating and landscaping the back garden to make it more maintenance friendly. This has meant, clearing borders, laying weed matting and shifting two tons of delivered chip stones from the from the front garden to the back. Decking stripped clean and freshly stained. Doesn’t sound a lot but it’s been hard work. So finally I’ve got a little time to sit in front of the computer.

Ginkaku-ji, is a Zen temple situated along Kyoto‘s eastern mountains (Higashiyama). whose name literally means “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”.

Silver Pavillion

Work started on building the temple, commissioned by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, in 1482. This was to be his retirement villa, modelled after the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji), built by his grandfather on at the base of Kyoto’s northern mountains (Kitayama). I’ll have a post later about the Golden Pavilion, probably next week.

You cannot enter the pavilion but one side is open for you to get a view inside.

Room With A View

My next photograph shows some of the maintained dry sand garden, which is known as the “Sea of Silver Sand”. In the background you can just see a massive sand cone which has the rather strange name of  “Moon Viewing Platform”.

How do they do it? First of all, those parallel lines are drawn on a bank of sand which is about a half metre high, how does that keep it’s shape. Secondly, how do they draw the lines in the sand and keep them exactly parallel. without disturbing the sand which is perfectly flat. And what about that cone? It’s not small and not a grain of sand out-of-place. Amazing, utterly amazing.

Silver Sands

Next to the sand garden is the Hondo, or Main Hall, which has paintings on it’s sliding doors. It’s just a shame that you cannot see inside the Hondo, but I suppose it’s to protect the inside of the building.

Hondo

There is one other building in the gardens and it sits right next to the Hondo. It’s the Togudo Temple which dates back to the temple’s foundation.

Tugodo

Wandering around the gardens allows you to get different views of the pavilion and I’ll leave you with these.

Silver Pavillion

Simple, but stunningly beautiful.
The Gardens

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

End Of An Era

When I first started blogging “The Weekly Photo Challenge” motivated me to write at least one post each week. Sadly it has been announced that after this weeks challenge, that’s it, for some weird reason, there will be no more.

So as a final flourish I’m going to finish with some of my most popular photographs on Flickr, not that stats really mean much, as I only use Flickr to host my blog photographs.

I thought I should also point out that I’m not ceasing to blog. I’ll still be here writing posts, and I’ve got a lot to write about after my trip to Japan. But bear with me for a while. I got back and “her indoors” presented me with a list of tasks, including cleaning and refurbishing the deck, shifting two tonnes of gravel, just delivered, from the front to the back of the house (about a ton and a half done already). It’s for a project we’re working on to make the garden so much more maintenance free. Oh! and I must not forget to order the new summer-house and of course build it.

Gardening can bring out the inner child, and sometimes, especially after all that time out in the hot sun, it can bring out the inner surrealist. When the urge comes over you to construct a zucchini zeppelin or a tomato truck, give in to your muse and then document [photograph] your masterpiece, preferably against an uncluttered background. – Bart Barlow

Anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with the photographs.

2016_Reflections on Llynnau Mymbyr

Sometimes you just get lucky when you’re out and about. More often than not I have seen this lake with white caps on the water. It’s very rare to see it flat calm like this. But just look at it and with a magnificent view of the Snowdon Horseshoe. I have honestly never seen it so clear.

Lakeside Reflections

And here’s another lake that is normally not flat calm like this. I’m just so lucky……

Talacre Sunset

Talacre Lighthouse is my go to place when I want to practice new techniques with my camera or try out new equipment. I have a 1 metre canvas print of this exact photograph hanging in our lounge. Yes it breaks the “Rool of Thurds” but hey Rools are there to be broken and I like this one.

52 in 2015 Week 43 Texture

A secret place that I once visited. It’s so secret that I can’t even remember where it is.

Rhyl Harbour

Just along the coast from where I live is Rhyl. The bridge is blue…they’d just finished painting it and the sun is a golden orange. Not much more I can say about this one.

Valle Crucis Abbey

Not far from Llangollen and the Horse Shoe Pass lies the ruins of the Abbey of Valle Crucis. surrounded by hills on all sides the grounds of the abbey are a quite haven. Best time to visit is Autumn when the leaves are just starting to turn orange. best of all, at that time of the year, you have less chance of someone wandering into your photograph.

Ogwen Bank

The Ogwen Falls cascade over rocks that are so jagged you can hear the water roar from some distance away. This is only a part of the falls I’ve shown here

Kingfisher

One to cross of my must captures. For years I tried unsuccessfully to capture a Kingfisher, with little success. Then it happened. Just sitting by a lake and this lovely little bird perched on a branch within good range of my 300mm lens. I shot so many photographs to make sure that I got at least one good keeper. What a beautiful little bird.

Afon Idwal Waterfall

At the start of the path up to Llyn Idwal, there is a waterfall that flows under a wooden bridge before tumbling over rocks to join up with the Afon Conway. The water is ice-cold, it’s coming off the mountains and Llyn Idwal, and it’s probably the most photographed waterfall in all of Snowdonia. I’ve seen tourist coaches pull up, loads of people get out and all rush up to the bridge to get that photograph. But if you are a little bit more adventurous, you can cross the river a little further up from the bridge and then walk back down to get this photograph.

Ponies

When the snow falls on the mountains, the wild ponies come lower in search of food. They’re reasonably friendly, although with all wild animals you should exercise discretion, so you can usually get quite close to get a photograph.

Over The Bridge

Well this brings me to my final photograph. Taken in Glasgow, on a cold winters evening, the bridge crosses the River Clyde, near the city centre. At that time of night you need a long exposure, but if anyone walks across the bridge whilst you are taking a photograph you might as well forget it and start over. I’ve never know a bridge bounce so much when someone is walking on it.

So that’s it. The end of an era. The Weekly Photo Challenge is no more but Say It With A Camera is still going strong. Until my next post.

Over the years, whilst taking part in the weekly challenge, I have been able to read some amazing blogs and see some great photographs, whom I’ve highlighted here. This is my final ten, all of whom I’ve visited this week and liked what I’ve read or seen.

http://40again.com/2018/05/31/all-time-favourites-the-final-weekly-photo-challenge/
https://mirthandmotivation.com/2018/05/30/photo-challenge-a-few-farewell-favorites/
http://thenarrowbamboogate.com/2018/05/30/all-time-favorite-japan/
https://thereluctantphotographer2014.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/i-couldnt-decide/
http://lifeisgreat0.blog/2018/05/30/some-pictures-to-say-good-bye/
http://outofmywritemind.com/2018/05/31/its-a-wrap/
http://adogslife.blog/2018/05/24/working-from-home/
https://spiritinpolitics.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/keep-on-your-own-track-thoreau/
http://theartofdisorder.net/2018/05/31/favorite-photos-friends-forever/
http://angelafurtadophotography.com/2018/05/30/wpc-all-time-favorites/

What No Equipment? Are You Serious?

A little known fact about me is that occasionally I have been known to give talks about my photography in the National park and surrounding areas. Of course my photographs are featured and usually the institution/club provides the projector and screen. That’s pretty normal and accepted by most speakers. So all we have to do is turn up, plug our laptop into their system and away we go.

Now it’s not quite as simple as that, there’s prep before hand on my part, but you get the idea. This Thursday I’m due to give a talk to a group who last week let me know that all they have is a screen. No projector. Panic stations. So this week has found me trying to source a projector for the talk which I’ve finally managed to do. But it’s been a nightmare. My laptop only has an HDMI output. Most projectors I tried  have a VGA input and never the twain shall meet. I borrowed a little projector prom the camera club but using the HDMI projection wasn’t doing my photographs any justice. In the end I sourced am HDMI to VGA convertor which strangely didn’t work with some VGA only projectors, but did work with the camera club projector as long as I used it in VGA mode. Confused, so am I, but tomorrow I’ll be able to give the talk and do the photographs justice.

Which brings me to this week challenge, what with prepping for Japan, I go on Monday, and try to get the projector sorted, I’m way behind with writing this blog post. Anyway, here are some photographs which include lines.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong, one of my favourite cities, but throughout all of my trips there I’ve never managed to get a photograph from the peak that wasn’t hazy. Just seems to be my luck.

Staying in Hong Kong, there are some fascinating buildings to photograph.

Lippo

I particularly like the one below with all of the port-holes.

Hong Kong Skyline

All of these photographs were taken from an open top bus. It’s the easiest way to get around and take photographs of buildings. And because you are not at street level you can miss out a lot of distractions like people, cars etc. Not only that, you don’t have security guards coming along, saying you can’t photographs.

_.jpg

Well that’s it. I’m really late this week and of course this will be my last post for a couple of weeks, whilst I’m in Japan.