The Earth Is Art, The Photographer Is Only A Witness…..

So said Yann Arthus-Bertrand  in his book: “Earth from Above, Third Edition” and I tend to agree. So this week come with me to Big Pool Wood and Talacre Beach to see what I have witnessed. Big Pool Wood is a small nature reserve managed by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. Despite its name the pool is quite small and only really fills up during the winter. But with the addition of a new bird hide and a dedicated team of photographers we are beginning to see all that the wood has to offer.

I’ve written about BPW before, mainly about the birds who visit, so let’s go for a walk around the woods, which you can do in about 15 minutes, or if you are like me, constantly stopping to take photographs, it could take an hour. Spring is here and the Mallard Ducklings have left the safety of the reed beds to paddle in the pool. There were seven little ducklings a week or so back but it looks like predators, or other Mallard Ducks, have whittled the population down by almost half.

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Of course with Spring, comes colour and the wood is now carpeted with purple and blue flowers.

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Bluebells form the biggest carpet and the path through the woods is lined either side by them.

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And flowers bring out insects like these Orange Tipped Butterflies. Common in the UK, so I haven’t really found anything rare.

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Likewise for this Comma, another common butterfly to be found in the UK.

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Not far from BPW is Talacre Beach and it with being such a fine day it seemed a shame not to pay a visit. Now if you go onto the beach it will be busy. But take a walk amongst the dunes and you will see plenty of wildlife. But you can also photograph the lighthouse with showing people and you get a different sort of photograph from what others might take if they were on the beach.

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Whilst I was walking through the dunes I came across this little Meadow Pipit, shot at the extreme length of my zoom lens and against a very bright background I struggled to get a decent photograph, especially as I had to crop in so much but the new Olympus camera with the improved sensor has done a reasonable job at the distance involved. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not perfect by any means, far from it, but at least I managed to get it good enough to post on my blog.

 

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As you wander around the dunes you see the odd sign of man made structures. During WWII Talacre was used as a bombing range and in later years there were buildings in amongst the dunes. Nowadays all that’s left are bits of fence like this.

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I’d just got back to the car-park when I spotted a little Robin perched in a tree. It was very quiet, normally they’re singing their little hearts out but this one wasn’t. He/She (both have that distinctive red breast) hung around long enough for me to get a few photographs and then took off.

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Right that’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed the photographs and as usual here’s what other bloggers have got to say about this weeks challenge.

Exploring the world Wild flowers
Shape Shifters – Wind Rush
Weekly Photo Challenge- Earth – Or, The Earth At My Feet – Petchary’s Blog
The Photo Junkie Earth II- Belogradchik Rock Formations
Pictures without film. Solstice Sunrise revisited – Weekly Photo Challenge- Earth
Simply Photos Here Today – Gone Tomorrow
Our Beautiful Earth – Geriatri’x’ Fotogallery
The Blog of Maggie Weekly Photo Challenge- EARTH
picturesimperfectblog Synecdoche
Photography Journal Blog Weekly Photo Challenge- Earth

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

It’s 6:55 am and I’ve just stirred. Got a lot to do today. Sort through a load of photographs I’ve took yesterday with the new Olympus Lens, the M Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II. I’ve bought it specifically for wildlife and those low flying aircraft that fly through the valleys here in North Wales. I’ve also got to start preparing my talk, with photographs of course, on “Abandoned Industrial Buildings in Snowdonia”. Strange as it may seem the National Park, known for it’s mountains and lakes also had an industrial heritage, mainly Slate mining.

Anyway time to get out of bed and get to work…..

Morning.jpg

Alright – maybe that’s not my bedroom but I wanted to show you this anyway.

I’m probably at my most productive first thing in the morning. The house is quiet, I can think and write without interruption for about an hour before my wife stirs. Yesterday I paid a visit to Conwy Bird Reserve. Like the Mach Loop it’s hit and miss what you might see in the lagoons or the estuary. The birds are wild, they choose to be there because they can find food, if there’s nothing they will move elsewhere. It’s not too far away from me so it’s a good place to practice with the new lens and see it’s limitation if any.

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Dotted around the reserve are some bird feeders, they attract the smaller nervous birds who will fly in quick, grab seeds and fly back into the trees. I was standing about 10 metres from the feeder which is surrounded by trees on three sides, making the area pretty dark. In an ideal world a good test would be to try to catch them in flight, not as easy as it sounds. I failed miserably yesterday, but that was down to me having the wrong shutter speed on the camera. If it’s too slow the wings just look a blurry mess. Thank goodness aircraft are much easier to photograph. Lock the focus, track the aircraft, fire the shutter. Easy in theory but the low flying military jet is moving pretty fast through the sky so you have to be spot on with getting that focus locked and that’s down to the lens. It has to be fast and not hunt.

Down on the estuary this junior Black Headed Gull had settled down to wait for the incoming tide which brings fish and nutrients with it. Probably about 70 metres away from me.

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Walking through the reserve woods I came upon this Green Finch sitting on a branch about 5 metres from me. I’m surprised I didn’t startle it. Hanging out of it’s mouth is the wing of some insect. I managed to take a couple of photographs before it flew off. But this was a good test for snap focusing and getting a useable photograph.

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Out on the lagoons the Little Egrets were doing their usual fishing routine about 50 metres from me. They disturb the silt by moving their feet, that’s why there are bubbles, then they dive in with that long beak and catch their food.

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At another feeder I found this Bullfinch. It’s colours are not as bright as they can be, mainly down to looking after their babies. See them in the Spring and the colours are so vibrant.

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Way across the lagoon I spotted this Grey Heron standing on a large stone. Probably trying to get a bit more height to see if there are any fish about. In reality it was far too far away to get a decent photograph

Grey Heron Far Away

but surprisingly I was able to crop in to get a photograph I could use for FaceBook, Instagram or Blogging. It doesn’t look it in the photograph because I have already zoomed in but that Heron was about 200 metres from me

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My final photograph for this morning is of a junior Green Finch. To be honest I had no idea what this was, my ability or lack of it to identify birds is well-known, I had to ask one of the reserve wardens  what it was. This was a real close-up. It didn’t seem to have any fear but I was able to get to about three metres from it.

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So there you go, the first part of my morning has come and gone. Time for a nice cup of tea and then I need to look at the industrial ruins for that talk I’m giving in September. Oh! and a heads up. I will be away at the end of the month travelling through Germany and the Netherlands for a week of  photography along the River Rhine.

Right here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Weekly Photo – Monsoon Mornings – Joel Locaylocay Photography
Weekly Photo Challenge- Morning – Liz McCafferty
Morning Menu – Laura’s Photos
DAVID OAKES -IMAGES. Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Morning
The Land Slide Photography Morning
Olssons universum Photo challenge- I feel good!
Westport lake views – Kee Wynne Photography
Mama Cormier WPC – Morning
hereisandrea weekly photo challenge- morning
Rebecca Gillum Photography See the day Begin

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration

Doesn’t time fly? I’ve been busy this week, what with a trip into the National Park combined with a one to one photography session, a good walk and then working through some lessons on Luminosity Masks.

So busy that I’ve not been checking emails and I suddenly realised that it’s Friday morning and I haven’t even started this weeks challenge post. So what inspires me? Nowadays it has to be the beautiful scenery we have in the Snowdonia National Park.

Pen yr Ole Wen

A this time of the year the grass is nice and green and the heather is just starting to bloom. Walking trails become eroded and dry out, the white stones stand out from the lush green grass

Steps to Tryfan

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how,” while others of a more curious nature will ask “why.” Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information. – Man Ray

Padarn Tree

I chose nature photography as a way of capturing and sharing the beauty, power, and fragility of wild places and the life that inhabits them, so that those who have become mired in the man-made chaos may open their eyes to the real world. – Guy Tal

I love nature photography, fresh air, sun (sometimes), a good walk accompanied by a camera. What more could you ask for?

Heather

Whilst I’m out walking, it gives me time to think, to achieve an inner calm, to appreciate nature. The remoteness, especially in parts of the National Park always amaze me. Hard to think that not much more than 15 minutes walk from where I’m standing to take this photograph is a busy main road which cuts through the National Park.

My goal as a person and, consequently, as a photographer, is to witness, participate in, and hopefully share the delicate beauty of wilderness – those moments in time when nature and spirit transcend the make-believe world of politics, economics, religious squabbles, fleeting fashion, mass “entertainment,” and other means of wasting the precious gift of thought and inspiration we are each endowed with. – Guy Tal

That’s it for this week. A bit later than I intended. I said I was busy. It’s now late afternoon and I’ve just got back from another photo session on Talacre Beach, site of my favourite lighthouse, so now I’m really behind schedule.

Anyway, here’s what other have said about this weeks challenge.

Elizabatz Gallery Weekly Photo Challenge- Inspired by Monet
Life in the Foothills Inspiration – A WordPress Photo Challenge
Wishing My Life Away Weekly Photo Challenge- Inspiration
My Photographic Life Inspiration- Friends
Mindfulness through a lens WPC- Inspiration
Half a photograph Variety
Sky Blue Pink Design Weekly Photo Challenge- Inspiration
Anything for the Photo My Secret to Happiness
Julie Powell – Photographer & Graphic Artist Inspiration – Light Painting
Annika Kellner foto Weekly Photo Challenge – Inspiration

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field. – Peter Adams

Peter Adams may be right but changing the Depth of Field can be quite useful in some cases; sometimes it may be desirable to have the entire image sharp, in which case large DOF is appropriate.

Take Your Litter Home

In other cases, a small DOF may be more effective, emphasizing the subject while de-emphasizing the foreground and background.

Spring Buds

Depth of Field can be altered by changing the Aperture in your camera.  Here’s the technical bit;

Reducing the aperture size increases the depth of field, which describes the extent to which subject matter lying closer than or farther from the actual plane of focus appears to be in focus. In general, the smaller the aperture (the larger the number), the greater the distance from the plane of focus the subject matter may be while still appearing in focus.

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Cbuckley at the English language Wikipedia

So at f4 the DOF will be very small, at f22 the DOF will be large. To show you this I’ve conducted a little experiment, photographing the same scene several times whilst changing the the aperture from f4 to f22.

For this experiment I’ve drafted in Edna and Mabel to act as subjects. Mabel will be in front and throughout the sequence of photographs I will maintain the focus point of my camera on her face. To avoid camera movement it’s mounted on a tripod.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

In the photograph above the aperture is set at f4. As you can see, Edna, who is in the background is out of focus.

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Now the aperture is f8, notice how Edna is starting to come into focus. Her features are much more clearer, you can even see her pudgy little nose.

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At f22 the photograph is in sharp focus from front to back including the fence behind Edna. In other words at f22 I have a large Depth of Field.

Every time someone tells me how sharp my photos are, I assume that it isn’t a very interesting photograph. If it was, they would have more to say. – Anonymous

On a practical note for most of my landscape photographs I tend to use f8,  f11 or f16, very rarely do I use f22. There’s a reason for this. If you look at the aperture diagram you can see that the higher the aperture number the smaller the whole is. In combination with variations of shutter speed, that hole controls the light reaching the sensor on my camera. Typically, a fast shutter will require a larger aperture to ensure sufficient light exposure, and a slow shutter will require a smaller aperture to avoid excessive exposure. So If I set the aperture to f22 I would need to have a slow shutter speed, which in turn means I could end up having blur due movement; me holding the camera, the wind moving trees or vegetation, clouds across the sky.

 

Young Herring Gull

Young-Gull

At this time of the year the gulls who have been dive-bombing us in our gardens, whilst protecting their chicks,  move down to the shore. They’re not us aggressive now and you can get closer to take photographs.

An adult Herring Gull can weigh over a kilogram, have a wing span of almost five feet and possess a formidable bill. So when Herring Gulls protect their nests or young by swooping over an intruder it can be quite frightening. Generally, it’s a purely protective measure and very rarely does the bird make contact.

Traditional nest sites are on sea-cliffs, islands and other inaccessible locations. Unfortunately, Gulls have also adopted roofs for nesting, bringing them closer to us.

Whilst photographing the sunset last night I took the opportunity, without getting dive-bombed, to capture this young herring gull standing on rocks.

 

52/2013 Week 33

52/2013 Week 33

This would probably have been suitable for this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge but I already earmarked it for 52/2013.

I was down on the beach photographing the sunset when this pair walked right across the front of the camera, despite me asking them to wait a few seconds whilst I finished the long exposure.

Anyway, they climbed onto the slippery rocks and proceeded to start fishing. I’ll qualify that. The father started fishing, the kid looked like he didn’t want to be there. Look at the way he’s standing.

Now although I don’t claim exclusive rights to the shoreline I do find it annoying when someone walks right in front of the camera, especially when you ask them to wait just for a moment.

Have you ever had a photograph ruined by someone walking into the frame? Or, maybe they’ve walked in and you’ve used it to your advantage?

 

52/2013 Week 32

52/2013 Week 32

Llyn Crafnant is a lake that lies in a beautiful valley in North Wales where the northern edge of the Gwydir Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains and, more specifically, the ridge of Cefn Cyfarwydd. The head of the valley offers a profile of crags which are silhouetted at sunset, and many people regard the lake as one of the most beautiful spots in North Wales. At 63 acres (250,000 m2) it is the best part of a mile long, although it was clearly once much longer – its southern end shows the evidence of centuries of silting.

Crafnant takes its name from “craf”, an old Welsh word for garlic, and “nant”, a stream or valley. Even today the Crafnant valley smells of wild garlic when it flowers.

The lake can be reached by car only from Trefriw in the Conwy valley, though many visitors walk there from the village or from the neighbouring lake of Llyn Geirionydd, which runs parallel to it, but a mile distant, the two being separated by Mynydd Deulyn – “mountain of the two lakes”. The lake can also be reached on foot Capel Curig.

Areas around the lake have been used for location shots in Hollyoaks, Tomb Raider II, the 1981 fantasy movie Dragonslayer, and the lake also appeared briefly in the 1966 film Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment.