Archive for Essex


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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My Favourite Photos of 2013

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Rather than pick out a load of pictures I took in 2013 with my trusty old Nikon (or Olympus for underwater pics), I thought I’d showcase my Instagram skills. For those of you who don’t know, Instagram is a popular, free photo sharing app available for your smart phone. It always you to crop, rotate and apply some basic effects to the image taken with the camera on your smartphone and I’ve been pretty impressed how easy it is to use.

Below are a sample of my favourite images I took using my phone. Any editing was done within the Instagram app.

Sunrise over the Cunard Building, Liverpool, UK


Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro


Dawn in Knutsford, north west England


Rainbow over Dedham Vale, England


Houses of Parliament, London


The last sunset over London in 2013

2013-06-02 15.08.56

Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

 This isn’t a photo I posted to Instagram (Instagram pics are always square, this is panoramic) but I took it with the camera on my smartphone. It is the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro where the 2014 World Cup Final will be played.

I’ve found Instagram to be a great little app to share photos which. A huge number of people have smartphones with cameras and the app is free to download. It is easy to use and allows you to share your photos quickly and easily onto Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

If you would like to see more of my Instagram photos, my account can be found here –


A Summers Day At The Seaside

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Although people do knock Britain as a holiday destination, there is little doubt that when the weather is fine, the British seaside is a great place to be. The little town of Frinton-on-sea in Essex is much quieter than its noisy neighbour of Clacton. The Esplanade is an expansive grass area overlooking the sea and its an ideal place to set up a little picnic area.

Even when the weather is superb, it doesn’t get excessively packed and you should be able find your own space. There are normally groups of people playing games or flying kites.

The section of beach at Frinton is wonderful and sandy although at high tide, the water does come right up to the sea wall. That said, its fairly shallow so even the little ones can splash around quite safely. Besides the public toilets and a couple of taps where you can rinse off the salt water and sand, there isn’t much in the way of facilities so you need to bring everything you need with you. The good news is that its free to park as well.

There are plenty little gems like Frinton all round the British coast  so if its a sunny day, a great day at the seaside awaits.

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Constable Country Tour Review

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When I was growing up in Africa, we had two paintings by John Constable in the lounge. I guess Mum and Dad liked the reminder of the English countryside. Now I’m back in the UK I decided to explore “Constable Country” for myself, and was lucky enough to find a local to help me.

Tour By Taxi offer private tours around the Essex / Suffolk border area. Having previously experienced tours which whisk you around at breakneck speed, I was delighted to find I could set the pace to suit me and spend time enjoying this beautiful area.

We started off in Dedham Village, a charming place for a stroll in the spring sunshine. The area benefited from the wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries, and there is a wealth of architecture to admire. The Parish Church appears in many of Constable’s paintings and is worth a visit, particularly to see one of only three Altarpieces painted by Constable.

After a short stop at Stratford St. Mary, with a visit to the site of Constable’s ‘Stratford Mill’ painting, we took a break for lunch in East Bergholt. We lingered here for a while, seeing Constable’s early studio, Moss Cottage, and the site of his childhood home, East Bergholt House. Just down the road is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin with a highly unusual bell cage. This was built as a temporary measure to house the church bells whilst the church tower was built, but this was never completed. We also found the Constable family tomb and the grave of Willy Lott, whose home was captured for posterity in ‘The Haywain’. The stained glass windows are also worth spending a few minutes over, especially the panel dedicated to Constable with a cheeky depiction of the baby Jesus having his portrait painted.

For our final destination we headed to Flatford Mill, where Constable painted what is possibly his most recognised picture, ‘the Haywain’, as well as ‘Flatford Mill’ and ‘Boat Building near Flatford’. The National Trust offer guided tours , and there are boats for hire, but we decided to continue with our “take your time tourism” and enjoyed wandering along the river soaking up the scenery. It’s remarkably unchanged since Constable’s time, and long may it stay that way.

Tour by Taxi can reached via their website at

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