Tag Archives: cornwall

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

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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.

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……………

 

Alarm bells!

When you are a Landscape photographer there is one ability that you must possess. That is the ability to set your alarm at some point in the wee hours to get up and travel to the location of choice to capture the land in the best light possible.

Sometimes you can check the forecast and it will look like the perfect conditions for the “Epic” image , only to find after travelling miles in the dark to chosen location that the weatherman was completely wrong, I’m hastened to add that this is usually the case. After doing this several times you can often find yourself starting to doubt whether its even worth it. It’s at these times that a Landscape photographer absolutely must not give in to these thoughts…..

I will use an example from this weekend on my jaunt to Portwrinkle next to Whitsand bay. As usual I checked the forecast and all looked good , so I set my alarm for 5.30 am to get there with plenty of time to spare (sometimes the best colours are seen up to an hour before the sunrise and an hour after sunset). So I close my eyes and next thing I know off goes the alarm , I stumble out of my lovely warm bed and always have a glance out of the window. Can I see anything? no it’s still dark. What I am trying to look out for is if I can see stars, If I can see some here and there then that’s brilliant….but this day I couldn’t, oh well let’s go out anyway, so I quickly dress and neck a mug of coffee, grab my gear and I’m out of the door.

I arrive at said location with plenty of time to kill, but look at the sky only to realise that it is perfectly clear above me and looking to the East there is a bank of thick solid grey clouds as far as the eye could see, this was NOT GOOD!

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The outlook wasn’t hopeful

But being ever hopeful I decided to set up and try to get some “moody” shots of the sea with some long exposure photography. I then looked at my watch and realised that the sun had actually risen now but was unfortunately, for my lens, still behind the thick bank of cloud.

Shall I just go home for a Bacon sandwich now?? Nah I’ll just hang on a few more minutes, I can browse on my phone check emails check the news………..Well , literally 2 minutes later I glanced up and wow! there was my photo!!

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Portwrinkle looking East towards the Ramehead peninsula

This just goes to prove that sometimes, well most of the time, patience and perseverance are what’s needed to get that photo!

Happy snapping!