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.

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Where Are The Dragons?

Wales, or more specifically North Wales, where I live, is the land of magnificent castles, stately homes, railways, festivals and the scenery is superb. Fantastic sandy beaches, tumbling rivers, waterfalls, mountains and lakes. I think I’ll just let the photographs do the talking this week

Yes we have rugged coastlines, but look at the sandy beaches.

Heather

There are sand dunes and of course that old abandoned lighthouse that I love to photograph

Talacre Dunes.jpg

You can fish, even at night…..

Fishing

….although you shouldn’t leave your nets behind.

Net Blue

We get some fantastic sunsets

Purple Haze

And there’s that lighthouse again

Talacre Beach

We have an industrial heritage as well. I wonder who Karen is?

I Love Karen

Of course much of the heavy industry is long gone and we are left with the ruins.

Porth Wen Chimney

It’s not really a castle but we do have them, honest

Gwrych Castle Gate

Lead was also mined here

Minera Lead Mines

And we’ve got the odd waterfall

Waterfall

Plus mountains. One of my favourite walks. Take the path up to Cwm Idwal

The Glyderau

…and this is Cwm Idwal

Heather

If you turn your back to Cwm Idwal you get to see Pen Yr Ole Wen

Pen-yr-Olwen Reflections

Butt we also get snow.

52/2013 Week 4

That’s when you ate likely to see the ponies who live wild in the mountains. They come down for food.

Ponies

I did mention we had lakes. Didn’t I?

Reflections at Llyn Nantle Uchaf

With walking paths that let you appreciate the countryside. This one eventually leads to Snowdon.

Llyn Teym

Probably the most photographed bridge in Snowdonia. Despite it looking rugged, one of the main roads through the park is no more than a short walk of about 75 metres away. I’ve seen coach loads of tourist stop here to photograph this bridge and they think they’re seeing Snowdonia. By the way cross that bridge to the left and you’re on the path to Cwm Idwal

Afon Idwal

Another one of my favourite walking areas. I’ve been in this valley 3-4 hours and not seen another person. It is quite lonely but so peaceful and usually the only sounds you hear are the water tumbling down the hillside, sheep and birds calling.

Rhosydd Terrace

Yet in this remote valley, families lived and worked, mining slate. Above are some of the small terraced houses and below is the ruins of the church

Cwmorthin Chapel

Slate mining was probably the most industrial activity in North Wales with several large quarries extracting slate in vast proportions with Welsh slate, used to roof houses and buildings worldwide

Tracks

Well that’s it. I could have shown so many more photographs. If you want to know more about North Wales follow the link at the top of the page.

Another Year Has Gone……I’m Getting Old

It’s nearly the end of the year and I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite photographs that I have taken throughout 2017. It’s hard to choose though but here goes.

January started off blustery with some high seas. It’s hard to believe from this photograph that when the tide goes out I can walk around the base of this marker which is probably about 30ft high. Our tides are quite high at times; combine that with an on-shore breeze an there is potential for flood damage. That’s why we have some very large sea defences. This marker notes that underneath surface there are large rocks, the first part of our defences, positioned to break up tidal surges.

January

February saw me in Chester Cathedral which I had been meaning to visit for some years now, but just never got around to it. The cathedral is very large inside and I was thinking about how to show the scale. So I was really please when one of the clergy cam and sat down right in front of me. If you look really closely you will see two other people, but they are lost in the scale of the cathedral.

February

In the UK we are lucky to still have many of our stately homes in good preservation order thanks to the National Trust, of which I am a member. Although tripods aren’t allowed, photography is is permitted and so I’m able to get some great photographs from inside the houses I have visited. I like this one with the table set for dinner.

March

Back in Chester, this time on the streets on a cold, wet and windy April’s day. With horrible grey skies, street photography seemed the best option. A bit of Black & White, some extreme HDR and there you go….

April

Warmer climes in May, beautiful sunny Lisbon, Portugal. Walking away from the tourist paths I came across a series of street art, that was on doors, the sides of building, even the streets themselves. This one caught my eye, although to be honest I could have included any of the ones I photographed that day.

May

I am extremely luck that in summer time the sun sets out to sea. This can make for some great “big sky” sunsets. Yet in this case, here I am in town, with the sun starting to set and so I decided to go for the silhouette.

June

July caught me chasing sunsets again, this time at Talacre and the lighthouse. Only this time I was trying to capture some long exposures which give the clouds that blurred look and the sea looks as though it has gone flat and milky.

July

When I knew I was going to be visiting the South of France I was determined to get to the Museum of Photography in Chalon-sur-Saone. August was so hot with temperatures in the 40’s centigrade. far too hot to be walking around. Inside the museum it was like a sweat box but I was determined to stick it out and see the exhibits.

August

One of the things I like about Olympus, as well as the cameras, is that they run experience days, where Olympus users can get together with Olympus experts, to ask questions, borrow equipment for the day and usually get some good deals as well. It give you a chance to meet other Olympus users who are likely to be local to you area as well. So in September we were on the Llangollen Railway which is a heritage line running here in North Wales. Apart from the weather, a great day out as we had access to areas that, such as the workshops and signal boxes, that most visitors never get access to.

September

Another overseas trip, this time to Budapest. Of all the photographs I took in Berlin I had to include this one of the Parliament taken from the Buda side of the river. Such an ornate building and well-lit at night, great for photography

October

It was cold, so cold, but a gang of us decided to brave the temperature, to photograph the bridge over the River Dee at Connah’s Quay in November. I had all the gear on that I normally wear for walking in the mountains so I should have been warm, but when you are just standing around you don’t generate your own internal heat the same way. We stuck it for about an hour, then decided to move on to Flint Castle. Never did get that photograph because the snow started to fall and unusually the castle wasn’t lit, as it usually is at night.

November

Unusually for me, I’ve only been out on one photography trip through December and that was to a long-standing engagement to take a walk around the Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool. It’s an industrial area that has many old buildings and warehouses; along with some great street art. What more could a photographer ask for.

December

Well that’s it for this year, for those who take part in the Weekly Challenge, here’s to some new and interesting ones in 2018.

I’d like to thank all those who follow Say It With A Camera. Your comments are appreciated and hopefully I have managed to acknowledge all of your comments over the last year. Finally I wish you all a Healthy and Happy New Year – Mike

I’ve Been Busy–Is There Ever Enough Time

What a hectic two weeks it has been working on two separate projects at the same time. As many readers will know I joined a local start-up camera club, which is surprising for me as I’ve always been dead set against them for being too stuffy, with the usual CanonIkon users looking down on everybody else. But this local club is different, we’re a bunch of photographers who in the main like to socialise, discuss photography and have no real fixed agenda. We’re not into getting initials after our name, like some photographers do, but we do like a bit of fun and to see how our photographs are comparing against others in the area. But I’ll talk more about that later.

Meanwhile this week I’m going to show a few photographs from around the coast and especially the stretch near me from Talacre to where I live now, Prestatyn.

Talacre Beach

First thing I can say is that post is no longer standing. It was washed away last week in a storm. It’s still on the beach but much further up.. The dog was one of those lucky shots. I’d just set up the camera on a tripod with remote control attached, getting ready to do a long exposure. Fortunately I ghadn’t attached any filters or set the camera for long exposure photography so I was able to get this one photograph before the dog ran away.

Dog on Beach

Talking of one photograph and one of the projects I was working on. Our little camera club is a member of the North Wales Photographic Association and last week I was busy co-coordinating our clubs photographs for the inter-club championship. For copyright reasons I can’t show you the photographs, they’re not all mine. But suffice to say I spent hours making sure the entries from our club members where in, preparing a slide show so that our members could vote on the ones they liked best and then getting those scores onto spread sheets which allowed us to choose the highest scoring photographs for submission to the competition.

Right back to Talacre, I make no bones about this, I visit there a lot, it’s one of my go-to places for testing and when I’m not in the mood for travelling. It’s only ten minutes away.

Talacre Sunset

Yes, the lighthouse does lean. So what about the second project? Well that one is more closer to home. My youngest son has decided to go it alone and set up his own electrical contracting company. I’ve been helping him design his website amongst other things. If you get the chance please click this link, drive some traffic to it. Catchy name huh?

52 in 2015 Week 8 SOOC

And we’re still at Talacre. This is what happens when we have an exceptionally high tide and you ignore the tide tables. You get cut-off and have to wait it out on the dunes until the tide recedes. Of course if you know the area, you don’t let the tide catch you out, but if it does, you also know that if you walk along the top of the dunes for about ten minutes you can get behind the incoming tide and safely make your way of the beach.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood - 11

If you look at the photograph below which was taken several years back and were to stand in the same spot today you wouldn’t see all those stones, nor would you see the dunes. The great storm of Dec 2013 along with higher than usual tidal surges served to destroy much of the dunes. The sand that was carried away changed the shape of Talacre beach and buried many of these stones, which were the remains of the pathway to the abandoned lighthouse. To date only a few have been uncovered by tidal action.

Ray of Light

One thing we are very luck to have here in North Wales, amazing sunsets, and with long wide beaches there’s always scope to show a mixture of both sky and beach

Reflections

…or perhaps just more of the beach, this is one of my favourites.

Purple Haze

And it’s an ever-changing scenery. Sure there are some fixed things like the groyne markers. but tidal action, weather and the sun can serve to give you a different photograph every time you visit.

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

So that’s it for this weeks challenge. I hope you enjoyed the photographs and if you do get the chance please click the link.

It’s been a while since I visited any blogs which take part in the challenge, mainly due to other commitments, therefore there haven’t been any links to other sites on Say It With A Camera. But this week I managed to make some time, despite all the work I have on, so here are some bloggers whose work I have liked this week. Note, unlike other bloggers I have seen, I do not just spray links. I do take the time to visit and if I like an article I will say so, maybe even leave a comment. It’s only fair – Mike

Yvette’s photography Scale
Day-To-Day Photography Orange Beach, Alabama
Anvica’s gallery Scale
AEKShots Weekly Photo Challenge…Scale
Weekly Photo Challenge- Scale – Novice Photographer
Photography Journal Blog Weekly Photo Challenge- Scale
The Land Slide Photography Lone Fisherman
The Reluctant Photographer Scale

Point of Ayr – Long Abandoned

Normally on a Wednesday night I’d be at the Camera Club but with the floor being renovated in the hall it was time for a field trip. A place I haven’t been to in a long time is the  site of the old Point of Ayr colliery, located just a short walk along the coast from Talacre at Fynnongroew. The colliery was situated on reclaimed land right along side the Dee Estuary and entrance to the two original shafts were with yards of the sea-shore, with the workings extending out under the sea. In later years the colliery was taken over by the National Coal Board (NCB) and a new shaft was added in the early 80’s, but now coal came to the surface on a conveyor belt.

Despite extensive reserves of coal in the mine, the colliery closed in 1996, mainly as a result of reduced demand for coal-fired power stations. All of the buildings were levelled and today you would be hard pushed to know that a colliery even existed there, other than for this sculpture of a miner with a pit pony and a cart of coal.

Miner and Pony

I was there to catch the sunset, though, and on part of the land that was once the colliery, lies the Point Of Ayr Gas Terminal. Ironically, the move from coal-fired Power Stations was prompted by the introduction of more cleaner gas-powered ones and the gas from the Point of Ayr terminal is used to provide power to half of Wales.

The fenced off areas are overgrown but you can see the Gas Terminal’s structure beyond the trees…… and that was my idea for a photograph last night. Try and get a sunset with the plant structure in silhouette.

Point of Ayr

Of course, you need a decent sunset and last night it certainly wasn’t. Hardly a cloud in the sky, coupled with a dull orange glow, but you work with what you’ve got.

Since the last time I visited Point of Ayr there have been a few additions to the site. I mentioned the sculpture earlier and I also found this wheel, which represents the winding gear from a mine. Who knows it may even be the original wheel?

So with the gas plant in the background and the wheel silhouetted against the setting sun this was probably the photograph of the night for me.

Point of Ayr

One last little point. One of the old miners who used to work at the colliery told me an interesting story. On the final day of colliery operations they flooded the mine, by boring a shaft from the dock, coal was shipped by sea, and letting the high tide do the rest.

Right that’s it. I’m off on holiday. No doubt I’ll take a lot of photographs whilst I’m away. Many of them will be touristy, but hopefully there will be the odd gem amongst them, worth writing about – Mike

What’s In A Sunset? Macphun Luminar Windows Beta

I’m always willing to try new software and when Macphun anounced a beta version for Windows of their popular program for Mac called Luminar. I thought, why not? Especially as one of my favourite plugins NIK Color Efex is no longer supported by Google.

Luminar is already a well established piece of software for the Mac, so it will be interesting to see how it shapes up in Windows. As Macphun say;

Faster, even more powerful and now featuring Accent, the world’s first AI-powered photo filter. Make photos beautiful in seconds with 1 slider. Luminar adapts to your photo style to make complex photo editing easy and joyful. Prepare to be astonished.

So the first thing to note, this is still a beta version, it’s nowhere as feature rich as the Mac version, but I can still get a flavour of how the software works.

The first thing I noticed, there are quite a few ready-made presets, one click looks, that could fit a variety of purposes.

Normandy Sunrise

In the photograph above I have selected a  preset called Artistic Copper Strong. It’s quite good for any photograph that features a sunset.

Ashampoo_Snap_2017.07.29_13h17m02s_003_

But you can also use filters to affect certain elements of a photograph, such as sharpness, colour, foreground, All in all there are about 65 filters you can use to affect your photograph

Ashampoo_Snap_2017.07.29_13h13m10s_002_

This one was developed using some of the filters from Luminar

Night Star

Maybe it’s me, but during my first day of trialling Luminar I started gravitating to trying it out with sunsets, I seemed to be having better success with those. Photographs taken during the day didn’t seem to gain much advantage using Luminar. However it is early days, so I might change my mind.

Orange and Blue Sunset

Anyway, here’s a few photographs that I processed using Luminar

Nova Centre

Weston Beach Shelter

Reflections

It’s far too early to draw a conclusion as to whether or not I would incorporate Luminar into my workflow. First of all the program is not complete and Macphun have a long way to go before the Windows version will equal the power of the Mac one. But it is still in beta.

At the moment, I have found it great with sunsets but I’m still indecisive as to ordinary photographs, personally I think NIK Color Efex does a better job.

Disclaimer: I’m not being paid to write this, nor am I getting free software, or anything like that. Macphun have made the beta free to download to all Windows users but the final version will be a paid model. I have included links to the Macphun Facebook page and their website in case anyone wishes to have a look at Luminar for themselves.

Here’s what others are saying about this weeks challenge

Potpourri Weekly Photo Challenge- “Satisfaction”
Pin(terest) Wins! – In the Wild Los Angeles
Natural Satisfaction – aroused
I can’t get no… – Reinhold Staden Photography
BeCre8ive
‘Satisfaction’- How personal should we get – Writing On A Rock
Spirit in Politics Photo Challenge, Satisfaction- Serenity Coasting on the Summer Breeze
The Land Slide Photography Pausing
Hot Dogs and Marmalade Summer Swimming
Stupidity Hole Valleys Past the Trees

Fire In The Sky

Don’t you just hate it. I started to write this post and then got side-tracked into doing something else. The result is as you can guess, I lost it all. For some reason, Windows Live Writer didn’t do it’s normal auto-recovery so I’m starting again. That’s if I can remember what I originally wrote.

Last week I was invited to a shoot at my favourite lighthouse and better still it was at sunset with an incoming tide. I’d never met any of the other photographers before and they were all travelling from England to be here in North Wales. So there’s my connection to bridge, this weeks challenge.

Talacre Lighthouse

In my camera bag I have some Neutral Density Filters which can be used to slow the shutter speed of the camera down. The filters come in various densities of darkness and the darker the filter the slower the shutter speed becomes. Slow the shutter down enough and moving objects like clouds become blurred and water takes on that milky sort of look. If you want to see more have a look at the photographs on “Longer Exposure, Extreme Neutral Density”.

I don’t use these filters enough, in fact I very rarely get them out of the bag. It was one of those things you buy but end up hardly ever using. So it was good to meet with other photographers who do use them and maybe pick up some pointers along the way. Later we were going to publish some of our photographs to a Facebook group dedicated to Neutral Density Filters.

Talacre Sunset

Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of photographers using Facebook and Instagram seem to be adding a watermark to their photographs. I thought that had more or less died out, but it seems to be having a bit of a revival in recent months.

This is my final photograph for this week and I’ve included a watermark. What do you think? Too intrusive? You don’t like to see them? I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the use of watermarks on photographs.

Fire In The Sky

Well that’s it for this week. As usual here’s what other photographers are saying about this weeks challenge.These are blogs I have visited and left a “like” on, because I did like their photographs.

Nan’s Farm-Inside Out Bridging the Ancient With the New
The View From Wallace Monument – James Collett Photography
Nature & Travel Pix WPC – Bridge
Light Words Weekly Photo Challenge Bridges
The Bridges – Reflections on the river
WPC- Bridges Across the World – Battling the Bone Breaker
Moonlight Reflections Covered Bridges in Parke County, Indiana
simply.cindy Trestle Bridge
Light Words WPC Bridging the Bay Bribging The Seasons
Spirit of Dragonflies WPC – Bridges in Alaska