Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

Being mainly a landscape photographer I really applaud the choice for this weeks challenge. And to celebrate I went out and photographed some fresh landscapes from one of my favourite areas in the Snowdonia National Park: the Ogwen Valley and Cwm Idwal. Easy to get to, a well constructed path leads up from the car park at the side of a main road to the shore of the Idwal lake. Along the way you get some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Like the photograph below showing Tryfan which forms part of the Glyderau group. Although not the highest mountain in Wales by any means, it is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain,  but at 917.5 m (3,010 ft) above sea level it is only the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales.

Tryfan

Now Pen yr Ole Wen, on the opposite side of the Ogwen Valley to Tryfan, is the seventh highest mountain in Snowdonia and Wales and forms part of the Carneddau range.

Pen yr Olwen

Down in the Ogwen Valley lies Llyn Ogwen which lies at a height of about 310 metres above sea level. Llyn Ogwen is a very shallow lake, with a maximum depth of only a little over 3 metres. In the photograph below yu can see Llyn Ogwen, Tryfan to your right, Pen yr Ole Wen to your left and the path coming up from the car park. It’s a popular walk and probably one of the easiest in Snowdonia. Even on a weekday you can see quite a few people are heading up to Cwm Idwal which is behind me.

Cwm Idwal Path

Cwm Idwal is a valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern Snowdonia, within the valley lies a small lake called Llyn Idwal. That lake drains down to the Afon Ogwen by a small river which tumbles over rocks all the way to the base of the Ogwen Valley

Iron Bridge.tif

Other small tributaries come down from the mountains but eventually they all end up at the Afon Ogwen.

Mountain Stream

All the while I was up at Cwm Idwal, the light kept changing as did the weather. A little bit of sleet, some hail, sunny patches, but hey, this is Snowdonia and we are in the mountains. But look at the light. Some great patches of light and shade, constantly changing, what more could I ask for.

Ogwen Valley

That  wraps it up for this week and as usual here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.

The Photographer Smiled… Polder View
Wednesday Lensday- Sunshine and Solitude – Aloada Bobbins
Claire Rosslyn Wilson Fishing Rods
Dr D in Oz Outback Trio
Elizabatz Gallery Weekly Photo Challenge- Irish Landscapes in Psykopaint
Maria Jansson Photography Amazing Places in Northern California- McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial
Weekly Photo Challenge- Landscape – Sky Blue Pink Design
Rebecca Gillum Photography I Love Rainstorms
Beyond the Brush Photography Dalveen Pass
Weekly Photo Challenge- Landscape – Connie’s World

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half Light

It’s Sunday morning, here in the UK. Overnight our clocks went forward one hour whilst most of us were sleeping, so we are officially in British Summer Time. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this twice yearly event where the clocks go forward in Spring and backwards in Winter, which means that for now evenings have more daylight and mornings have less. Britain is one of a few countries around the world that observes a daylight saving time. Why do we do it? Well it all started during the First World War

  • Germany and it’s ally Austria-Hungary were the first to introduce Daylight Saving Time, on 30 April 1916, as a way to conserve coal during wartime
  • On the 17th May 1916 the British government followed suit, passing the Summer Time Act in Parliament

It is light that reveals, light that obscures, light that communicates. It is light I “listen” to. The light late in the day has a distinct quality, as it fades toward the darkness of evening. After sunset there is a gentle leaving of the light, the air begins to still, and a quiet descends. I see magic in the quiet light of dusk. I feel quite, yet intense energy in the natural elements of our habitat. A sense of magic prevails. A sense of mystery. It is a time for contemplation, for listening – a time for making photographs. – John Sexton

Menai Strait

I took the photograph above at Caernarfon late one evening after the sun had set. I wasn’t really interested in the foreground but the pattern and colour of the clouds did really interest me.

Blue Hour in the evening happens once the sun has dropped a good distance below the horizon and what little light is left happens to take on a blueish sort of hue. It’s a good time to take photographs which are different from the normal reds, oranges and purples of a sunset. As Pete Bridgwood says;

Landscape photographers are crepuscular creatures, we tend to function most creatively at twilight, be it dawn or dusk.

Causeway

…and that’s probably true. I find my best photographs tend to be in the evening as the sun is setting and living on the coast there’s always the chance to capture a good sunset out to sea, especially in the Spring, Summer and early Autumn.

You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either. – Galen Rowell

Purple Sky

Sometimes though you can go inland and capture something completely different. The photograph below was taken on the banks of the Grand Western Canal which was completed in 1814. I hadn’t really gone out with the intention of taking a photograph, we were using the canal towpath to get to a local pub, but along the way the sky just lit up and it was really too good an opportunity to miss. No tripod here, just a steady hand, a 1/30s exposure and my wife’s shoulder as a brace.

The Canal

More local this time in a field very near to my house. I had seen the bales being cut during the day and thought it would be good for a sunset photograph. So suitably armed with a tripod I wandered around the field looking for a good viewpoint. The sun was setting to my right and flooding everything with an orange glow.

Hay Bales

My final photograph is of Tewkesbury Abbey which is a joy to photograph both inside and out. But Tewkesbury has a dark history. After the Battle of Tewkesbury in the Wars of the Roses on 4 May 1471, some of the defeated Lancastrians sought sanctuary in the abbey. The victorious Yorkists, led by King Edward IV, forced their way into the abbey; the resulting bloodshed caused the building to be closed for a month until it could be purified and re-consecrated.

Tewkesbury Abbey

Out on the green I was looking for some foreground interest and finally found this lone bench some distance from the abbey. Even although it was some distance away I wanted to include it just to give that added something.

Finally I’d like to talk about Luminosity Masks. Last week I wrote an article about how I’d finally given up on trying to work with this method of post processing photographs and yet all of the photographs you see in this weeks post were processed using Luminosity Masks. Why? Over on Facebook I’m a member of a group called Luminosity Masking and last week I put up some photographs challenging the group to convince me that LM’s really worked in practice. Terry Tedor came up with a very well worded explanation of how he used LM’s to produce a photograph, which forced me to rethink how I should use Luminosity Masks. The results you can see here.

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

Geriatri’x’ Fotogallery Half Light at Lukuba Island
Photo Challenge – Half-Light
JAMAC Photography Dawn
Ann Edwards Photography Weekly Photo Challenge – Half – Light
derwentvalleyphotography Weekly photo challenge- Half-light
Wolverson Photography Half-Light
A Certain Slant of Light Photography Half Light
Jude’s Photography Weekly Photo Challenge- Half Light
Schelley Cassidy Photography Half-Light- Nature’s Abstract Art
corleyfoto Weekly Photo Challenge- Half-Light

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance

I’m finally getting around to writing this after an early start (5 am) to pick someone up from the airport. I like that time of the day. The roads are quiet, you get to the airport fairly quickly (50 minutes) and can usually find a parking spot near the terminal building). The downside is by the time you start to travel back rush hour is starting and the roads are so much busier.

Right, this weeks challenge. I thought long and hard about this. I didn’t think I had any photographs of dancers so my interpretation this week is a bit loose to say the least. But here we go….

Flamingo

It’s just a shame this Flamingo isn’t facing me but you can’t have it right every time. That’s just the way it is in photography. In an ideal world I’d walk up to the Flamingo, it would see me, say to itself “here’s Mike, best I turn around and let him photograph me”. If only.

I photograph all my birds and animals in the wild, in their natural environment. Some photographers will cut branches from nearby trees and bolt them to a small table. They’ll then put food at the bottom of the branches and sit back, behind a blind, with a long lens, and wait. To me, that may be bird photography, but it isn’t wildlife photography. – David Young

Now hears the thing. I’m highly unlikely to photograph a Flamingo in my back garden, let alone their natural environment. At least, not here in the UK. So what do you think about photographing animals in Nature Reserves?

Now this one actually is in the wild.

Grey Heron

It’s a Grey Heron photographed in a lagoon, here in North Wales. A lot of our coast attracts birds like this and they can regularly be found fishing.

That’s it for this week. Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.

Dance Sunset Photography – Zero Creativity Learnings
Dancing in the Wind – A Year of Sunshine
Log Dancing – Shangri-La
Click! Weekly Photo Challenge – Dance
Jennifer Sawicky Photography 2016-03-22- WPC Dance
Claire Rosslyn Wilson Flamenco shoes
The Dancing Mouse – Snapshots, Styles And Smiles
Cooes N Cuddles Photography! Dance Dance – WPC!
Capt Jills Journeys Dance- New Orleans
Creative Blog Mom Dancing to the Weekly Photo Challenge

Goodbye Luminosity Masking, Welcome Back HDR

Over the last few weeks I have wasted so much time trying to master Luminosity Masking. Sometimes I thought I had got it and then I would have a total failure, or several of them. Now you might be asking “what is Luminosity Masking?”

Luminosity masks are the cornerstone of tone-based image adjustments. These masks provide a convenient way to select specific tones in an image which can then be altered as the user sees fit. They have the ability to overcome shortcomings in the tonal values that were captured by the camera or film and to correct tones that shifted during image manipulation. Beyond simplifying these standard adjustments, however, luminosity masks also encourage a very individual approach to interpreting light. Luminosity masks make the captured light incredibly flexible and thereby provide the artist photographer unique opportunities to use Photoshop to explore their personal vision through photography. – Tony Kuyper

I have watched numerous tutorials, experimented on multitudes of photographs, spent hours at the PC, sometimes late into the night, trying to master this technique. All for very mixed results. Why? Because I want to display my photographs in the best possible way……and the experts will all tell you that “Luminosity Masking is much better than HDR. Oh! By the way I’ve got a course I can sell you to help you master the technique”. Look at this photograph. It’s not a great sunset, by any means but the photograph will serve to show what I mean.

Luminosity Masking

After messing around with Luminosity Masks for about 15 minutes I managed to get the image above. Look closely at it. It looks flat, lacks contrast, everything seems muddy, excuse the pun. I had to go an extra step to bring some contrast back into the scene by using ON1 Perfect Effects Dynamic Contrast filter.

Luminosity Masking with Contrast
Previously I had always used HDR to blend my photographs together. HDR is great for high contrast scenes such as sunsets or inside buildings and I like the results I get.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. For those who aren’t so acquainted with this high-tech shutterbug lingo, dynamic range is basically just the difference between the lightest light and darkest dark you can capture in a photo. Once your subject exceeds the camera’s dynamic range, the highlights tend to wash out to white, or the darks simply become big black blobs. It’s notoriously difficult to snap a photo that captures both ends of this spectrum, but with modern shooting techniques and advanced post-processing software, photographers have devised ways to make it happen. This is basically what HDR is: a specific style of photo with an unusually high dynamic range that couldn’t otherwise be achieved in a single photograph
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/how-to/what-is-hdr-beginners-guide-to-high-dynamic-range-photography/#ixzz43eS4zF3E

However, HDR gets a bad press due to the surreal images that are often seen on the internet. Have a look at the image below this is the type of photograph that gets HDR a bad press.

Awful Awful HDR

The thing is HDR is a technique but it’s also a “look” which can produce results from the realistic through to the surreal. I don’t like this surreal type of HDR but I would never criticise anyone if they produced something like this. After all I have always said “My Photograph, My Vision”.

For me HDR can be used to create a natural looking photograph where the highlights and shadows are balanced to produce a photograph more like I saw at the time of pressing the shutter on my camera.

Lightroom HDR

So that’s it for me. No more Luminosity Masks. It’s back to HDR, takes me approximately five minutes to get the result I want using Lightroom’s HDR module, leaving me more time to get out and take photographs.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

Short one this week. I’ve been so busy with everything but photography. Whilst on my Berlin trip I came upon this man and his dog. From the way he dresses he looks like he could be down on his luck, but the dog looks well fed and very muscular. Who am I to say though? I don’t really know his circumstances.

One Man And His Dog

Anyway he hangs around Alexander Platz in the centre of Berlin and for a donation he will get the dog to sort of perform on the skate-board. Or you can buy a bratwurst from one of the street vendors who frequent this area which he shares with the dog.

That’s it for this week. Here’s what others are saying about this weeks challenge

The Photographer Smiled… Souvenir of a love
One Love – Where I Ought To Be
Michelle Lunato Photography Family. Together With One Love
Hot Dogs and Marmalade First Grandchild
Ain’t Mine No More Weekly Photo Challenge- One Love
Street Art- Don’t Hate! – Susan Rushton
Jonathan Dudley Photography WPC – One Love
Anna Begins One Love
Jude’s Photography Weekly Photo Challenge- One Love
Maria Morera Johnson WPC- One Love