Author Archive

Jul
28

Sunrise over the River Stour in Essex

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If you believe most photography tutorials, you could be forgiven for think that almost every image captured is the result of planning, equipment setup, patience waiting for the right moment and the right conditions. However, this isn’t always the case and you can take some great images at a moments inspiration.

I regularly took an early train to London and the route passes through Manningtree, a little place on the River Stour where the counties of Essex and Suffolk border each other. The river is tidal here and this provides some wonderful lines for an image at low tide. One of the few advantages of catching early morning trains is that at certain times of the year, the sunrises are stunning.

The train line cross the river as it slows down to pull in to Manningtree and although there are several trees in the way, there are some gaps. On one journey earlier this year when I would be passing by around sunrise, I had my camera with me. You could see the sky was colouring up nicely as I stood by the door and with the window open (yes, the train still had windows that open on the doors), I started shooting as the train approach the station. In all, I took around 60 images and in the end, 3 were good enough to take into post.

The image below is one of those 3. Little planning, no special equipment or filters, taken from a moving train.

Sunrise From A Train

This was a single shot image taken with the following settings:

  • ISO 100
  • f/5
  • 18mm focal length
  • 1/500 seconds exposure

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Jan
29

Sunset at Pont Neuf, Toulouse

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The French city of Toulouse is not one of the more high profile tourist destinations in France but like many European cities, it offers plenty of wonderful buildings to photograph. The Garonne River runs through the heart of the city from its source in the Pyrenees on its  way to Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean.

The most spectacular of the bridges spanning the Garonne in Toulouse is without doubt Pont Neuf. Built between 1542 – 1632 (quite a long time to build a bridge), Pont Neuf is made with 7 arches giving a total length of 220m.

I’d previously seen some stunning “blue hour” photos of Pont Neuf so decided that this would be my shot. At this point, the Garonne runs south-north so looking along the bridge from east to west puts the sunset in the perfect position for a sunset shot.

Setting up a shot is easy. There is a wide footpath along the river with plenty of space so you won’t get crowded out.

My intention was end up with 2 shots to blend; the sunset blended with the bridge being lit up once the sun had gone down. When I arrived at Pont Neuf, the sky had clouded over and was completely grey so I wasn’t hopeful of anything special. However, nature can turn in a moment as sunset drew closer, the sky just exploded in colour. The red, orange and purple mix was stunning and I had the sky I wanted for my blend.

At this stage, the lights on the bridge weren’t on so it was a matter of waiting. I was in luck as the lights came on while the colour was still in the sky. This meant, I had everything in a single shot, making the post production work a lot more straightforward.

I didn’t need to do anything with the water. It was perfectly still with no wind or current. The final result is below:

Pont Neuf at sunset in Toulouse

This was a single shot image taken with the following settings:

  • ISO 100
  • f/22
  • 20mm focal length
  • 2 seconds exposure

 

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Oct
13

Bled Castle at Blue Hour

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Lake Bled in northern Slovenia is one of the countries biggest tourist attractions and you don’t need to look at too many photos to see why. It is set in the Julian Alps, it is as picturesque a destination as you could wish to see anywhere in the world. It is dominated by Bled Castle overlooking the lake from high up on a cliff on the northern edge with Bled Island and church towards the western end.

The lake itself is around 6.5km (4 miles) in circumference so you can easily walk round in under 90 minutes. From a photography point of view, this means you can get a wide variety of views at all times of the day. I spent a couple of days here and there was always a new place to photograph. Additionally, the different seasons each offer something different.

Bled Castle at Blue Hour

Bled Castle at Blue Hour

With Blue Hour photos, you ideally want some artificial light on buildings to light them up, giving contrast against the darkening sky. Unfortunately, as stunning as Bled Island is, there is very little artificial light on the church or bell tower. There is no such issue with Bled Castle.

Bled town is at the eastern end of the lake with various hotels, shops and restaurants. The lakeside edge is well light as is the church at the foot of the hill on which Bled Castle is located. With the sun setting over the far end of the lake, all these factors make for the ideal spot for a Blue Hour shot.

For this shot, I positioned myself next to one of the lakeside benches just below the Park Hotel towards the end of Blue Hour. The camera settings were:

  • ISO 100
  • f/22
  • 18mm focal length
  • 30 seconds exposure

I was pretty pleased with this image and it didn’t require too much work in post processing to come up with the final result.

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Sep
24

Photo Challenge Winner on Viewbug

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There are numerous websites and online communities where members are able to share photos and sell images.

Viewbug is one of such sites I’m a member of where I share images and enter them into various competitions run by the site or contests run by other members. While the chances of winning are slim (due to the thousands of excellent entries), it does help give you feedback on your images and it is sometimes surprising to find that images you really love are not always as popular as you may think they would be. Similarly, some images you may believe aren’t anything special, receive excellent feedback.

gp-lobster2

Recently, I entered the above image of a Caribbean Spiny Lobster into a user contest called “Sea Life Photo Challenge”. When the winner was announced I was surprised to find that my image had been voted as the Peoples’ Choice winner. Naturally, I was pretty pleased with this news so I thought I’d just share a little bit about this image.

I took it at the very start of a night dive in Cozumel, Mexico in June 2015. My main camera for underwater photography is a Fujifilmn XQ-1. I also have a GoPro Hero4 Black mounted on top of the XQ-1 underwater housing. The housing has twin handles with a Inon D2000 strobe mounted on one side for use with the XQ-1 and a small video strobe mounted on the other side.

I only shoot video on the GoPro which offers a wider angle view than the XQ-1. Typically, I’ll shoot a few seconds video and then select the best image to work on in post production. The wider angle offer by the GoPro means I can get closer to the main subject (in this case the head and body of the lobster) while still keeping more of the image in frame. In this case, I could show more of the lobster’s long antennae in the frame.

Lobsters are a lot easier to photography than some marine creatures. They tend to hide away under rocks during the day (you can still see them) and tend to emerge at night. As they don’t swim off, you can get close to them and take the time to frame your shot. This allowed me to get this one head one which is a type of image I try to look for.

There is a problem is post production as I can only extract JPG images from the GoPro video and not RAW files which would give me more flexibility in editing. Fortunately, the GoPro’s auto settings are pretty good so there isn’t usually too much work to do in order to complete the image.

A couple of tweaks in Photoshop along with using some of the excellent GoogleNik Color Efex Pro filters give me the finished image.

My Viewbug profile can be found here: https://www.viewbug.com/member/ratherton

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Sep
18

Blog update

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Well, it been a while since I’ve updated the site and I’ve been thinking about the type of articles to publish.

Personally, one of the biggest pleasures I get when travelling is photography and trying to capture images of the places I’ve visited. While there are no shortage of excellent photographers out there to learn from, I’d like to be able to pass on little hints here and there about certain places.

Sunset in Mexico

Sunset in Mexico

Sometimes images are planned, others are taking an opportunity. The image above was taken at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres in Mexico just over a month ago. There were some fabulous sunsets while I was there.

As well as taking photos, I always enhance them or what is known as “post production”. I do this to improve the overall quality of the final image and use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. These are subscription software packages and there are other free options available. The important thing is to understand a few key controls that will help enhance colours, improve the contrasts and balance the lighting of an image.

I’ve got plenty of images to write about from various countries, so I will be posting more regularly going forward.

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