Monday, 31 August 2009

Holiday Day 1

Back on the 15th August we set of at 4am to drive from Holmfirth down to Dover to catch the 9:30 ferry to Calais. It really does seem such a long time ago now, after all I'm a year older than when we set off. We had booked a gite in the Loire valley starting on Thursday and we were stopping in hotels on the way down at various places in France that we'd never visited before. The first stop was near Le Crotoy on the Somme estuary a little way down the North coast from Calais.

We stopped at a little town called Rue for lunch (magnifique) and then went down to Le Crotoy for a look around. Didn't like it, too busy, nowhere to park and a bit tacky. Decided to got to the hotel which was near St. Firmin and on the way have a look at some small lakes that we'd seen on the map. The are around the lakes called itself Petite Carmargue which I think was a bit of wishful thinking but it was very pleasant. There were quite a few birds on the lakes and these are a few shots I took.

This duck (don't know what sort) was very keen to have its photo taken. Unfortunately the sun was mostly in front of us so it wasn't ideal to get good quality images but I quite liked this one.


There were loads of swans and I've always found them a bit vain when it comes to taking their photos. I did take some photos of a black swan too but I wasn't too happy with how they came out. As before the sun wasn't really in the right place for quality images.


A group of swans decided to fly off and I think this was best of the photos I got of them as they rose into the sky and circled around. You might just be able to make out a Little Egret stood on the far bank of the lake.


This was one of the swans coming back into land. I took a few images of the bird skimming along the water and finally coming to rest but I didn't have my camera set to the correct focusing mode so as it moved away from me as it landed it also moved out of focus. It's a bit of a shame really because they would have been quite good, I might still put one in my gallery and hope no-one noticed how bad it is. (Note to self, put the camera into AI Focus mode when shooting moving subjects.)


After we booked into the hotel we went to St. Firmin and had a little walk around. It had a beautiful little church with a lovely memorial in front.


Around the village there was lots of farm land and many of the big houses had their own stables. I think it must be mainly quite a rich area as everything was very clean and tidy and there were lots of flower displays around the village.


There was one exception which was this old corrugated iron garage/shed and the accompanying lamp post which was totally overgrown with something. While we were wandering about we had seen some signposts which were going on about a walk to the beach so we got back into the car and followed the signs. We arrived at a spot where there were a few cars and bikes parked so we thought we'd follow the path.


Because we'd had a big lunch we weren't too bothered about having much (or anything) for dinner. It was getting a bit late by now but we thought a bit of time on the beach would be nice. After a short time we reached a bench and I said it was probably to have a quick rest at the halfway point in the walk. Then I joked that it was the first of ten benches along the path. It wasn't a good joke and turned out to be very close to the truth. The path was very heavy going as it was very soft, fine sand that you sank into as you walked and sapped your energy. I got to a point where I said that if we didn't see the sea over the next hill I was going back. A number of people passed us coming from the direction of the sea and gave us some funny looks. We just assumed that they knew we were English and probably a bit crazy.

At the top of the next hill I still couldn't see the sea but there was a sign proclaiming it was another 100 meters (300ft) and that the distance back to the car park was 3600 meters (2.5 miles). Well after walking so far there was no way I was going back without seeing the sea. One more big hill and it's got to be there.


And "voila", here it is, although still a few big dunes to cross before we could paddle.


And paddle we did, although it was starting to get a bit dim and we were now the only people on the beach for miles.


I even took my shoes off and rolled up my trousers to get the benefit of the cool water.


The seagulls were fishing. The one to the right of centre was hovvering and then suddenly plunged into the waves.



We watched the seagulls for a while because we'd never seen them fish before. We'd only seen them steal chips at Whitby and Blackpool or scavenge through the waste sites near the towns.

The beach was massive and stretched for miles to the South ...


... and miles to the North.


As we left the beach the last of the sun was disappearing behind the clouds.


On the way back I took this photo of a lovely flower that lines the path in certain places.


This next image was taken about half way along the path looking back towards the beach. The sun had broken through the cloud a bit and was putting a bit of a pink tinge on the blackening clouds. I was getting a little concerned at this point because we'd left the roof down on the car and it did look as if it could start to rain.


A bit further along and path disappears into the bushes. It didn't rain and when we reached the last bench (there was actually 10 altogether) we could see the car (so it hadn't been very far along the path at all). We went back to the hotel, had a big drink and then collapsed into bed. We'd been awake almost 20 hours, driven hundreds of miles and walked quite a few more, but we were on holiday and it was great.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Email blog

Hi

It seems a bit strange sending a blog post via email but my iPod touch
doesn't seem to like the text input bit on blogger.

Anyhow, we're on holiday in France and I've no computer so I can't
post any new photos. On Sunday we went to a bird park near Le Crotoy
on the Somme estuary. Took some photos of Spoonbills and Avocets so
it was quite good.

Monday we moved onto Honfluer which is a lovely port with some amazing
architecture. Really tall buildings, 7 and 8 storeys with restaurants
around the harbour wall.

Today we went to Cancale which is famous for oysters. Unfortunately,
it was so busy there was nowhere to park. We went to a nearby village
instead for a drink and then went on to Fougeres where we are staying
for the next two nights.

Tomorrow we are going to look around the fort here. It looks
enourmous so it could take a while. There is also a lake so we're
going to look around there too. Lots of photo opportunities so I
should have plenty to post when we get back.

On Thursday we arrive at a gite near Doue la Fontaine for a week. No
wifi there so could be incomunicado for a while. Will try to Twitter
whenever I ca catch a connection.


Sent from my iPod Touch

Please visit my website at colinwhiteley.co.uk

Twittering from France

Thursday, 6 August 2009

No Photographs This Week

It continues to be a lean time for the photography and on my only trip out I didn't take anything worth posting. I went back to the place where I had taken the shots of the Curlew and Lapwings a few weeks back because at my house the weather was quite nice and bright. By the time I got there it was the same old story, the black clouds had started to roll over from Manchester again. Not only that, there was no sign of either Lapwing or Curlew so I guess they must have moved on. There was a couple of hunting birds swooping around but none of the photos I took were very clear or very near. I tried to rescue some in Aperture but they were all beyond redemption.

On the plus side I ordered and have received a new 17-85mm lens to replace the broken one from my previous blog. I decided in the end that I couldn't really justify spending nearly £1,000 on the 24-70mm L lens, especially as I wanted to get some other stuff in preparation for going on holiday. Maybe if I start to make any money out of my hobby I can think about buying professional gear, but until then I need to be sensible (unfortunately). I found the new lens on eBay for about £250 as a new lens, unboxed which had been split from a kit. My original lens came in the kit with my Canon 40D so I don't need a box. I haven't decided what to do with my broken lens yet. Is it worth fixing now I have new replacement? The second hand ones on eBay are only making around £100 and it could cost more than that to get it fixed. I've considered taking it apart and seeing if I can fix it myself, you never know. Even if I can't I haven't lost anything.

So, what did I get in preparation for my holiday? I decided that I needed some more memory cards. Last year I didn't take the charger for my card reader hard drive so in the second week of my holiday I had to switch to shooting in jpeg rather than raw format when the battery went flat. I also had to reduce the number of photos that I shot which didn't make me happy. I am taking the charger for my card reader this year but the extra memory will reduce the amount I have to rely on the card reader. I also bought a couple of spare batteries for my camera. Again I am taking the charger but I don't want to be caught out with no power for my camera.

I also decided that I wanted a new bit of kit so I also bought a flashgun. I didn't get a Canon one because they seemed quite expensive so I bought a Nissin Di662 for about a third the price of an equivalent Canon one (7dayshop.com is brilliant for cheap stuff). I haven't played with it much but it seems to do all the things I want so far. I've never used a flashgun before so it's all a bit new to me and maybe later I might buy a second one to enhance my lighting options. Maybe a Canon one if I find this one is limiting and then use this as the secondary light. I'll get used to using one first and see how it goes. The flashgun uses AA rechargeable batteries, so I had to get some batteries and yet another charger. Also I bought a charger for my iPod Touch so I'm now taking 4 different chargers with me on holiday. There's got to be a better way!

So hopefully this weekend I will get some good shots and I'll post them some time during the week. As I've not had any new photos to play with this week I've added some Lensbaby photos from my garden earlier in the year into my gallery. I need to add lots more photos into my gallery because I have loads that I think are quite reasonable. I do need to get more organised in my workflow. Hmm, you never know it might happen.