Author Archives: stephentolleyphotography

About stephentolleyphotography

I am a Photographer from South East Cornwall, I enjoy nothing more than roaming the countryside at silly hours to capture beautiful images of what Cornwall has to offer.

Shooting for the Moon…

Today 21st of January 2019 there was going to be a Lunar eclipse. A Lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow. When it reaches its maximum point of eclipse the Moon will turn a wonderful deep rusty red colour, which is where it gets its name of “Blood Moon”.

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This is something I hadn’t had the pleasure of capturing before now due to that little thing that hampers so many of our efforts here in the UK, for photography and otherwise. Yes that’s right, I am talking about the weather. Every time that there is some amazing astronomical happening, it always seems to cloud over……..

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Well this time was different and I managed to capture some images that I was really pleased with. I captured several images over a two hour period and have also arranged some into a composite image to show some of the stages of the eclipse.

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I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them……

 

These images were captured with my Nikon D600 on a tripod with Tamron 150-600mm lens @600mm.

As always please don’t hesitate to ask any questions if you need help with your own photography…

Finding new angles

Sometimes it takes a bit of time and exploration to get the shot you want. Take yesterday for example, I got my shot of Moorswater viaduct and although I was pleased with it I always like to try to find a way of getting a different scene with the same subject. So after some research I found there to be a footpath that enabled me to get to a field that I previously believed to be private. This gave me the opportunity me to capture an image of the viaduct from a completely different angle and as I was now a lot closer, it allowed me to use a wide lens.  Added to that the weather this morning was crisp and frosty and has made for a completely different picture.

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It is always worth putting in the time and effort to find different angles to get new images. The countryside is littered with little known footpaths and bridleways, sometimes even just asking permission from land owner’s to enter private land will reap rewards too.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog posts and as always please don’t hesitate to contact me for any tips or advice with your own photography.

Happy shooting…….

Viaducts

This morning I decided to stay local and go for a shot of the Moorswater viaduct at  Liskeard, it spans the valley at Moorswater carrying the Cornish mainline railway. It is 45 meters high and is 291 meters in length. The current stone viaduct was constructed in 1881. The remains of the old piers from the previous viaduct are still visible next to it.

The sky was particularly clear but there was a misty haze to the morning and the golden hour came into its own to silhouette the viaduct beautifully and highlight some of the misty patches in the air and from the heating vents from the buildings on the industrial estate below.

I got several shots but my favourite by far was this following shot of the Liskeard to Bodmin Parkway train travelling across it.

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Moorswater Viaduct

As always thanks for taking the time to read my blog and don’t hesitate to contact me for any help tips or advice for your own photography.

happy shooting.

On a high

Today’s adventures entailed a return trip to a very windswept location on Bodmin Moor, one that I have only been to once before and one I promised myself I would return to and capture a better sunrise of , as the first effort in April wasn’t as rewarding as my lens would have liked.

The location is Brown Willy and it is THE highest point in Cornwall , when I say I traveled to Brown Willy I use the term loosely as to get a photo of Brown Willy at sunrise I needed to be up on top of Showery Tor next to Roughtor which is the second highest peak in Cornwall and overlooks Brown Willy to the South.

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Brown Willy with Showery Tor in foreground

For more information about Brown Willy check this link ,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Willy

 

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Brown Willy in background with Showery Tor in the foreground

The journey is just short of an hour from my house and once you arrive at Roughtor car park it is a good 20 minute hike to the top of the Tor. The weather was raining all the way there and there were very strong winds which were driving the clouds Southwards and breaking them up in the process. This proved wonderful for my images as it gave way to the sunrise beyond.

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Roughtor is the second highest peak in Cornwall

I hope you enjoy viewing them as much I enjoyed taking them and as always please don’t hesitate to contact me for any advice or tips with your own photography.

 

Happy shooting.

The Pepper Pot

Yesterday was the last day of November and I had booked my afternoon appointment with another North coast location, Portreath. It is a good hour or so drive from where I am based and my iphone app that I spoke about in the last post had said that the weather and photo opportunities should be fair…..

As it turns out they were fair but the drive there was very rainy and not nice to drive in, often though the best photos come after a rain shower or storm as we all want some clouds in our images to alleviate that “boring photo” as we have discussed before.

Getting to Portreath is very simple and direct, finding Lighthouse Hill (it isn’t actually a Lighthouse) is easy too , then its a very short walk to the “daymark”

A daymark or a day marker is a daytime identifier for shipping, it identifies to the mariner their location during daylight hours the same as does a lighthouse at night. The Pepper Pot as it is known locally was built in 1846 and stands proudly on the cliff top.

The weather was so windy up there that I had to take great care as the cliff face is sheer. The edge had collapsed at one point and a cordon and warning had been put in place, so if you visit take GREAT CARE!

The windy weather aided in breaking the clouds up and allowing the winter afternoon sunlight to light the Pepper Pot beautifully.

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The ‘Pepper Pot’

As always I try to get as many different shots as possible when at a location and here is a couple more that I captured too.

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The Daymark was built in 1846

I even gave one the black and white treatment and I think it really works with the image.

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As always please don’t hesitate to ask for any help or tips with your own photography and thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Happy shooting.

The end of autumn at Boscastle

I haven’t been out for a few weeks now and I was starting to get an itchy shutter finger and there is only one cure for that , and that’s to get out there and get some quality photo time.  So, I decided to take a trip to Boscastle on the North coast of Cornwall, as it is somewhere I have visited but seldom photographed. I checked the weather for Saturday afternoon and It was looking hopeful. I then checked a new app that I have been trying out recently called GoldenHour.One .

Basically GoldenHour.One will check the weather reports for your area currently or you can choose an area you wish to travel to and it will give you a prediction (so far it has been pretty accurate) of the chances to get a good photo at sunset or sunrise.

It does this by way of a scale  from 0 – 10  Zero being a “Don’t even bother” and Ten being a “Pretty certain chance” of getting a decent image.

As you may or may not know the Golden hour is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset, It is known as the Golden hour for the beautiful low angled warm Golden light that filters through the atmosphere and can be used to bathe your subject in delicious Golden goodness, It will also cast long shadows across landscapes to give depth to an image and it does give very pleasing results to your images.

So having visited Boscastle before I knew I had to venture up the coast path to the right side of the harbour to get my sunset shot. It is quite a steep path to climb but it is definitely worth it as the view from the top is simply breathtaking as you will see from the image I captured.

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Bostcastle Harbour sunset – f8 1/30th iso 100

It is a beautiful place that certainly is worth a visit if you are in the area or if you are planning a trip to Cornwall. I will be returning there myself in the future to get a shot when the Heather is in bloom as I noticed I was surrounded by it while up there. I’m sure it will be a sight to behold.

On the way home I passed the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor , an iconic Inn and the subject for Daphne Du Mauriers novel by the same name. The clouds looked very foreboding behind it in the last dregs of daylight so I  pulled over to grab a shot and I quite like the outcome,

I wonder if you will agree…….

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The Jamaica Inn

Trip to Rame head

So this morning I decided I was going to visit Rame head for an attempt at a picture of the chapel on the end with nice colourfully lit clouds behind it. I say attempt, as any photographer, professional or amateur, who has visited the location will know that there is (realistically) only one way to take a picture of Rame head chapel and that is pretty much directly from the North looking Southwards towards it. This is why we come to rely (on a sunrise or sunset shoot at least) on the weather again to present you with your backdrop for the set…

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Looking East from the peninsula

As you saw in my last post the sky and clouds can make all the difference to an image, they are what turns average into epic, you could say they are the sprinkles to the trifle, or the gravy to the roast, after all strawberries without the cream are just strawberries, nice as they are, everybody knows that with cream they are simply…….better.

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Rame head chapel on the end of the peninsula

This morning as beautiful as it was didn’t give me the wonder sky background I desired so I settled for some nice contrasty shots after the sun was up, and with such a beautifully blue sky who could complain? not me!.

Back to Brentor….

Often as a photographer you have to return to a location on several occasions until you get the picture you envisioned. More often than not this is the case. As I have said before we rely on good light to get our best images and the weather doesn’t always play along  for us.

Today was definitely not one of those days (or mornings) for me. I decided it was time to return to Brentor in Devon to grab the snap that I have wanted for a long time of Brentor church. Perched on top of the tor it is in my opinion the most striking example of  an English church that I have seen and I’m sure that anyone of you that have seen it will be inclined to agree.

The first time I visited this place was two years ago for a picnic with friends, It wasn’t a particularly nice day, quite the opposite but I took a picture nonetheless….

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My first encounter with Brentor church

Not a bad picture by any means but definitely not what I would have liked to have captured. To the left (East) of this scene (out of view), Dartmoor is situated and the tors rise sharply on the horizon I could picture it in my head, the early morning sun poking over the top and filling my lens with all those lovely photons. That was it!, my mind was set on returning to this location at another time in the very early hours.

Move on sixteen months to early December 2016 and that’s what I did , gear packed, alarm set extra early as the forecast was frost!. That morning was very icy indeed but fortunately I made it there in one piece which is always a bonus, but here is the shocker, as I was making my way up the path to Brentor church I noticed that it was clearly undergoing repairs (this is good for the church obviously, but not for my pictures) and had scaffolding up the sides……..well it was a very clear crisp day and I got some pictures anyway but the pictures still were not what I desired.

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The second attempt

As you can see it was a beautiful morning but the image overall is ruined by the scaffolding on the building.

So that brings us to today , Monday 30th October 2017, almost a year later and the trip this morning paid off for me, as I now have the image I have been waiting over two years to capture.

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Got it!

Sometimes everything comes together for that image, other times it doesn’t but don’t be put off, keep at it and keep persevering and you will eventually get that picture.

 

As always please don’t hesitate to contact me for any advice or tips with your own photography.

Fireworks at Rilla Mill 28th October 2017

Had some great fun this evening shooting some firework shots at the Rilla Mill firework display that we attend every year, It is always a fantastic display and one I can highly recommend!

This year I decided to attempt some photography whilst enjoying the display and I must admit I am more than pleased with the results.

For those that would like to know these exposures were shot on a tripod at ISO 100 for 2.5 seconds @ 24mm / f4.

A quick tip as well, if you are shooting on a tripod and don’t have a cable release then you can use your cameras self timer option to save jogging the camera when pressing the shutter button.

Also if possible set your cameras focus to manual and get it focused on the area where the fireworks will be beforehand, this will stop the camera trying to focus for every shot, which will end up with missed and blurry images.

As always don’t hesitate to contact me for any advice or tips with your own photography.

New Wildlife lens

Just the other week I took a trip to Cabilla woods in the Glynn valley to try and get some pics of  Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies, they are something that I have not had the chance to photograph before and I found out , much to my dismay just how ‘flighty’ these butterflies are!

I usually use my trusty NIKKOR 105 2.8 Micro lens for jobs such as these but the 105mm reach meant invading their privacy and subsequently sending them packing.

On the way back to my vehicle I decided to explore another area in the same vicinity with a lovely track up through the wood, after reaching a dead end I turned and headed back down the track only to meet a Fox coming up towards me! I immediately dove into the long grass at the edge of the track and poised my camera ready!

As mr Foxy approached I popped off a few shots which drew his attention towards my direction and he paused for a moment before he worked out that the clicky thing had a human attached at the back of it , of course he then turned tail and made off pretty sharpish.

I was totally beside myself with excitement for finally I had some pictures of a Fox something else I have always wanted to get images of. It was then I decided to check out the pics on the back screen of my camera , WOW this is going to be amazing! finally some seriously foxy images!!………………..I’ll just end this paragraph here, as it was at this point my heart sank with disappointment as in my head I felt like I could have reached out and touched the Fox from where I was, the reality however was that the Fox was too far for a good image with the 105mm.

My mind was set , I needed a good long telephoto lens for these kind of situations, I could not let this happen again.

Moving on a week and a bit of research and taking into account budgets , I decided on purchasing the Tamron SP 150 – 600 mm lens

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This lens is a monster, it weighs in at nearly 2kg and although made mostly of plastic, it feels solid and the build quality and finish are fantastic. It isn’t fully weather sealed but does have a gasket to seal between the lens mount and the camera body. The focus motor is silent and the minimum focus distance is 2.70 meters.

In the box you get the lens and the lens hood but no pouch or case! (come on Tamron!) why on earth they did not include one is beyond me.

It isn’t a particularly fast lens and may require a bump in ISO to get a fast shutter speed but it does include image stabilization or VC (Vibration Compensation as Tamron likes to call it) so hand holding is possible but I much prefer to use a tripod. It is not a fixed aperture lens and it ranges from f5 at 150 mm to f6.3 at 600 mm and I wouldn’t say the focusing is especially amazing or speedy but for the most part it works well, my copy needed quite an adjustment on my Nikon D7100 body as it was front focusing a fair bit but nothing overly drastic.

Let’s talk about the image quality

To be completely honest my first test shots in the garden (as they always are with me) left me with mixed feelings , obviously everyone wants to know how good it will be at 600 mm which is exactly what I wanted to know , well it was OK but it could be better, this was my initial thought. To be fair it wasn’t the best weather , quite gloomy actually and grey……..

Move on a couple of days plus a focus adjustment and a few local trips out in the sun later and I am feeling quite different now.

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Broad Bodied Chaser Dragonfly (male)

Dragonflies are now so much easier to approach and photograph without disturbing!

As are birds……..

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Stonechat (juvenile male)

I even managed this next shot of an Emperor Dragonfly which I was so happy with! (this was manually focused)

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Emperor Dragonfly in flight

How about an Owl in flight? In the daytime?……..Ok, it was a falconry display at Woodlands Theme Park in Dartmouth but hey!

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Siberian Turkmenian Eagle Owl

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Silver Washed Fritillary

This lens for the money is very capable and has opened up many more photographic opportunities to me, it is sharp enough when stopped down at f8 or f11 but obviously this then means bumping the ISO up to keep a fast shutter speed which introduces more grain to the image and requires a bit of time processing in your editor to get a cleaner image.

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The Moon shot at 600mm and has been cropped slightly

Tamron have recently released the new generation 2 version of this lens which has a few tweaks to the optics to improve quality further. You may like to look at that version if money is not an object, but for me , the earlier version was the choice and I am content with my purchase now I have seen what  can be achieved with this lens.

This lens retails at around £750 in the UK and when you consider the ‘reach’ this lens will give you, coupled with the fantastic build quality, it certainly is worthy of consideration if wildlife is your game.

Oh and when me and Mr Fox cross paths again I will be ready……………