Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Inspiration

How convenient that this challenge has just started. After quite a long break from blogging on Say It With A Camera I’ve finally started to get back into the swing of things with some new posts.

Last week I took some time out to visit a place I have been meaning to photograph for years, Gwylfa Hiraethog, which sits high on the Denbigh Moors in North Wales.

Gwylfa Hiraethog
High on the moors above Llyn Brennig Gwylfa Hiraethog is reputed to be haunted

Abandoned now and a total ruin, the lodge is reputed to be haunted, not that I saw anything.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But a photographer friend of mine say visiting at night takes on a more spooky atmosphere. At 496 metres above sea level, the lodge in the late nineteenth century was considered to be the highest inhabited house in Wales, with some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

Not the greatest of photographs, taken with 75-300mm lens at 300mm this is the view from Gwylfa Hiraethog towards the Snowdonia National Park.

Snowdonia
Looking from Gwylfa Hiraethog towards the Snowdonia National Park

And from another side you can see towards the coast.  Looks so close, thanks to the power of the 75-300mm lens but in reality it’s about 20km away.

Sea View
Looking from Gwylfa Hiraethog towards the coast

Now it might be lonely up there, but it’s far from quiet. This area is used by low flying military aircraft from RAF Valley, training future fast jet pilots. Gets quite noisy at times but I just saw it as another photo opportunity. More on that in another post.

Anyway, moving on. I love the moors, vast open spaces with the occasional tree to break up the featureless terrain.

Lone Tree
Lone tree on the Denbigh Moors

There’s also a lot of reservoirs on the moors. It’s cold up there as well so swimming is not advised.

Warning Sign
Swimming in cold water reservoirs can be dangerous

Being in Wales, we get all signs in two languages, Welsh and English. Can be confusing at times, especially with road signs, but you soon get used to it.

Well that wraps it ups for this post. I hope you enjoyed the photographs and all that is left for me to say is “thank you” to both Snow and Amanda for hosting the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Mike

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Chester Cathedral

First of all an update to the SmugMug/Flickr situation. I have now taken steps to reduce the file count down to the 1000 that Smug now allow. This means that many of the early posts on Say It With A Camera are now going to have broken links as there are so many photographs missing. Nothing I can do about it.

I’ve taken steps to register a new blog Mike Hardisty Photography but I will hold that in a dormant state for the time being. By doing so I have reserved a .photo.blog sub-domain with my name. There are a few test posts on there, just to make sure it works.

It makes more sense for me to continue posting to Say It With A Camera. Photographs will now be uploaded to the WP Media Server. So you won’t be able to click on them to see a larger view. But I’ve chosen a theme that gives a reasonably large image size to start with.

Right let’s get some photographs up. Thursday I spent some time in Chester. The idea was to go Christmas Shopping but I couldn’t resist taking the camera with me and a quick visit to the cathedral seemed a good idea to test the new wide angle lens.

Choir
Carved wooden pews and beautiful tiled floor in Chester Cathedral

The photograph above was taken in the Choir and it looks towards the rear of the cathedral. Just to the left side of the Choir is this passageway leading to the Lady Chapel.

Side Passage
A side passage in Chester Cathedral to the left of the Choir and Lady Chapel

I couldn’t photograph in the Chapel because there was a service on, so I moved to the Cloisters, which were really busy. I waited about 15 minutes to get this gap in visitors.

Christmas At The Cathedral
Christmas trees in the cloisters of Chester Cathedral

Just off the Cloisters is the Chapter House. It’s a quieter part of the Cathedral so I was able to take my time to get this photograph.

Chapter House
Beautiful stained glass and polished floor in the Chapter House, Chester Cathedral

So that’s it for this post. I hope you enjoyed the photographs – Mike

 

Is This The End?

Ever since the terrible decision to end the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge I have found my interest in blogging slowly but surely starting to wane. To the point that I’m not blogging at all.

I have been considering what to do about Say It with A Camera and have come up with several options

  1.  just leave it dormant and never post again
  2.  delete it completely for reasons you will see if you read below
  3. try to resurrect my interest in blogging to showcase my photographs, using the WordPress media server, but start with a new blog completely, for the same reasons as 2 above

In a way I think the decision has been made for me with the recent announcement from Flickr that they are ending the free 1Tb of storage space and limiting non-pro accounts to 1000 photographs. In January or February they will start to delete photographs from Flickr starting with the oldest first until the 1000 limit is reached. That’s a disaster for this blog as nearly all of my photographs are hosted on Flickr. When the deletion starts there will be so many broken links here because the older posts will have no photographs in them, just the words. Not ideal for a photography blog.

I did consider downloading all of my photographs from Flickr and then editing each individual post to make use of the WordPress Media server. However the amount of work involved in reducing the file size down from the hi-res photo’s I post to Flickr would take me such a long a time, time that I can’t really devote to such a task.

To give you an idea, I have 2698 photographs stored on Flickr, probably about two-thirds of these are used in this blog. I have 916 published posts. I would have to take each post in turn, click on the individual photographs to see what I had named them, find the corresponding photographs that I downloaded from Flickr, reduce the Flickr photo file size and then load them up to the media server for use. I almost forgot. I’d also have to delete the Flickr link as well. So a really mammoth task.

I am faced with a difficult decision and not sure how to proceed at this point. What ever happens in the coming weeks I will have to do something, I’m just not looking forward to it.

I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have on this.

In the meantime this could be the final photograph, so I hope you enjoy it

Gwydir Forest Waterfall

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.

 

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.