Weekly Photo Challenge: Reward

Over the years I have taken many photographs that in my opinion have been rewarding. This one of Talacre Lighthouse is on my lounge wall in extra-large size 120 x 80 cm (47” x 31” approx). Admittedly it breaks the Rool of Thurds, but I like it and that’s the important thing.

Talacre Sunset

However this is not really my Reward photograph. The one below, a sunset taken on Frith Beach, Prestatyn, probably qualifies more as one I would reward myself for. Mainly because I spent some time waiting for the sunset to happen.

In order to obtain pictures by means of the hand camera it is well to choose your subject, regardless of figures, and carefully study the lines and lighting. After having determined upon these watch the passing figures and await the moment in which everything is in balance; that is, satisfied your eye. This often means hours of patient waiting. My picture, “Fifth Avenue, Winter” is the result of a three hours’ stand during a fierce snow-storm on February 22nd 1893, awaiting the proper moment. My patience was duly rewarded. Of course, the result contained an element of chance, as I might have stood there for hours without succeeding in getting the desired pictures. – Alfred Stieglitz – “The Hand Camera” (1897)

I know I have shown you this photograph before but here’s the background behind it. Standing on a cold wind-swept beach on the 25 November 2014 I was waiting for the sunset. The cloud formation and the way the sun was dipping down behind the mountains seemed to suggest that it might be a really good one. But like all weather events you can never really tell what you are going to get until it happens. Previously I’ve seen what looked like an amazing sunset only for it to fizzle out in seconds, never delivering the promised light show. I’m sure you’ve been in that situation as well, waiting for something to happen and then facing disappointment when it doesn’t?

Meanwhile I was getting colder and colder. November on our wind-swept beaches is not a comfortable position to be in, trust me, I’ve done it often enough. Sure I was equipped to be out there but on the exposed beach it’s amazing how you can get cold really fast, especially if you are not moving around too much.

After an hour on the beach it was looking like maybe I had got this one wrong. The sun had almost dipped behind the mountains and there was only a small red band of colour running along the horizon. Not much of a sunset at all. Time to pack up and go home.

Ffrith Beach sunset

But then it suddenly changed, the lower part of the sky nearest the horizon started to glow red and purple, then those cloud formations started to pick up the colour. I just knew then that this one was going to be a cracker. OK! I was cold but there was absolutely no way I was leaving the beach until I had captured every aspect of this sunset. Best of all I had the beach to myself, no one there, perfect. I was right, as you can see, As an aside I haven’t seen a sunset like this since I was on the Falkland Islands, and that was a long time ago. This sunset lasted a good twenty minutes before the sky finally lost most if it’s colour and all that red disappeared. That’s why I class this one as one of the most rewarding photographs I’ve taken in a while.

52 of 2015 Week 9 This Is Me

This weeks challenge is once again taking me out of my comfort zone, which in a way, is a good thing, I suppose. Whilst I’m happy to be behind the camera I have previously made sure I’m rarely in front. Recently though I’ve had to use myself as a model for several portrait challenges and whilst I’m still uncomfortable I’m slowly getting used to being on the “wrong” side of the lens.

There are good reasons for using oneself as a model(…)of course: your model is the most intriguing and puzzling person in the whole world;(…)you’re always available; you’re cheap; no explanations are needed(…); you don’t have to keep the model happy; and the model gets tired, and wants to stop, at exactly the same moment as you do. – Julian Flynn

This week I decided to combine my self-portrait with a background stock photograph to give me a composite image. I used to create quite a lot of composite images when I first started using Photoshop but over time I have let that skill drop – a lot.

52 of 2015 Week 9 This Is Me

This one is pretty simple, I haven’t spent a lot of time on it but over time I’ve forgotten how much I enjoyed creating composite images. You may see some more over the coming weeks, especially if I don’t go out that much due to the crappy weather we keep having.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rool Of Thurds

“Roolz is Roolz”, but, as is often the case, Roolz are there to be broken. I mean, c’mon…how long has that Rool of Thurds been around?

According to Wikipedia – The rule of thirds was first written down by John Thomas Smith in 1797. In his book Remarks on Rural Scenery, Smith quotes a 1783 work by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in which Reynolds discusses, in unquantified terms, the balance of dark and light in a painting. Smith then continues with an expansion on the idea, naming it the “Rule of Thirds”.

So this week I’m going to play whilst still conforming to the Rool of Thurds

Rule of Thirds

When I said play, I meant with textures and borders. However as you can see the Cross is in the left hand third of the photograph, the centre of the cross is on the top third and the horizon is on the bottom third. As you can guess by now I’m struggling to say a lot about the photograph for this weeks challenge. So instead here’s a little ditty I found about the Rool of Thurds

A normal person sees a storm, thinks help and runs away
A photographer sees that storm, and runs the other way
Off into the cold they go, the wind, the rain and more
To capture pics no matter what, of all the things they saw
Watching all the huge waves crashing, defiantly they stand
Looking out from beneath the pier, with camera in hand
Why do we do such stupid things, like photograph the snow
We can’t resist to get that pic, so off we always go
We see the world through rule of thirds, and many shades of grey
The search to get the perfect shot, continues every day
Dean Thorpe – The poem: “The photographer” by Dean Thorpe.

Gone Fishin’

This weekend Flood Alerts have been issued for coastal areas in North Wales and other parts of the country. Natural Resources Wales has issued 10 flood alerts, warning of dangerous conditions that could breach sea and river defenses. Higher than normal tides, the biggest for two decades, will combine with unsettled weather to batter our coastlines.

Yesterday I was on Rhyl  seafront, which has only recently been repaired and strengthened since last years storms which caused so much damage, and was able to capture some great photographs.

That's Enough

About an hour before high tide the sea was up, some big waves were breaking but nothing series yet. The young lady had just cycled along the promenade so it wasn’t too bad yet.

How things change though, within a quarter of an hour the wind had got up and waves were crashing right over the railings. The two fishermen seen in the photograph had decided enough was enough, they packed up and left, leaving one brave soul to carry on.

Gone Fishin'

Eventually even he decided it was getting too dangerous to be on the sea front. Although it doesn’t look as bad, this wave nearly swept him off his feet. Fortunately he regained his balance and was able to get behind the small wall you can see at the bottom of the photograph.

Stormy Seas

We are expecting higher wind speeds today so the sea will be much rougher. At the moment 09:30 about four hours before high tide there is only a soft breeze blowing, hopefully it will stay that way and allow the high tide to pass without incident.

52 In 2015 Week 8 SOOC

For those of you who don’t know SOOC stands for Straight Out Of Camera. In other words, no adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop, other than cropping and straightening. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a creative photograph. There’s all sorts of things you can do and for my first photograph I used a 10 stop Neutral Density Filter.

52 in 2015 Week 8 SOOC

Neutral density filters are used to reduce the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor which means you can get longer exposures compared to not using an ND Filter. The 10 stop ND filter reduces the light reaching the camera’s sensor by 1000 times and as you can see it is almost black


Using this filter I was able to achieve an exposure time of 98 seconds, that’s right 98 seconds. The effect of using this filter is to smooth out the wave action. The photograph below was taken immediately after the long exposure but this time without the ND filter. You can clearly see the waves, they’re not particularly strong but the ND Filter has done a good job, giving the image above a more creative dreamlike look and yet it is still SOOC.

Dog on Beach

I hope you enjoyed this little explanation of the 10 stop ND filter. If you are considering experimenting with one I would suggest you buy one of the cheaper alternatives. Yes I know the results won’t be the same as some of the more well-known and expensive brands but for experimenting why pay a fortune out for something you may use a few times and decide it’s not for you.

Search the web and you will find lots of recommendations for 10 Stop ND Filters, I read lots of articles before buying one from SRB Photographic. Although it’s probably one of the cheapest ones to buy, in tests Amateur Photographer scored it 4 out of 5, the same as the more expensive LEE and B+W offerings.