Saturday, 26 July 2014

Kendal Castle

Last week I drove my daughter to Kendal and took the opportunity to take some photos while she was working in court.  The weather forecast had predicted good weather and although it was quite warm there was a variable amount of cloud cover in the few hours I had available. I had a bit of time by the river and I will post those photos later but for this post I will just show the ones I took at the castle.  It was a bit of a climb from the river up to the castle and the sun was out and I was very hot by the time I reached the castle.  As usual a big black cloud moved across the sun soon after I started to take some shots.

This first shot was as I approached the castle and although the scene was well lit by the sun there was quite a lot of cloud in the sky behind the castle.  I quite like the way the fence leads up from the stones on the right side of the picture up to the bigger bits of castle on the left.  I tried taking some more shots from nearer the stones and following the fence but the sun was straight ahead and I wasn't happy with the results.


I wandered about the inside of the castle for a while taking photographs but the lack of any good light made them disappointing.  Finally the sun came back out while I had my fish eye lens on the camera and I took this shot.  I love using the fish eye for some landscape shots because it's possible to get really close to the subject but because of the wide angle the shot also includes a lot of the background.  The distortion of the fish eye could be straightened out using software but I actually like how it curves the background around the subject.


Here's another fish eye shot where I am close to the wall and using it as a leading line towards the building.  The distortion in the majority of the shot is less because I was holding the camera level with the ground.  I had to wait a while before the sun came out again for this shot but the clouds were starting to clear quite nicely by now.


I moved very close to the building for this next shot as I was still using the fish eye.  The distortion is more prevalent as I was pointing the camera towards the ground a little which makes the edges curve upwards.


Next I went outside the castle and headed around the back of the building I had been shooting.  I had changed the fish eye to a normal standard lens as I was further away from the subject.  Here I was well below the castle and got a sense of how imposing it would have been for any attackers when it had been in use as a defensive building.


After this I headed back down the hill to the river where I took some more shots.  I promise I will post more pictures from Kendal soon and I will also make a report on my first showing of a couple of my photographs at the Holmfirth Art Week Exhibition, which is quite exciting for me.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Flowers in the Rain

The weather is still very wet and windy but last Monday the forecast promised us a full day without rain and even some sunshine.  My wife had also booked the day as holiday and it seemed too good to be true so we planned to get out for the day and take full advantage of the respite in the weather.  The ground is still very wet so we decided to head for a National Trust property rather than risk going for a walk over open land.  Dunham Massey or Tatton Park seemed to be ideal because there are paths and chance to wander around a deer park to get some photos of the flora and fauna.

We packed our wellingtons because we knew it would be wet underfoot and set off to Tatton Park.  The sun was in my eyes so I put on my sunglasses for the start of the journey, but as we went over the Pennines towards Greenfield we could see black clouds on the horizon.  I had checked the weather forecast for Tatton Park and it was still showing zero precipitation for the whole day so I assumed that the clouds would blow away before we got there.  As we got closer the clouds hadn't moved and arriving at Tatton Park we found it wasn't open on Mondays at this time of year.  It wasn't looking good but we headed for Dunham Massey which wasn't far away and hoped that it wasn't closed too.

As we arrived at Dunham Massey the rain began and it carried on the whole time we were there.  Occasionally it looked as if it might brighten up, but then it didn't.  We walked around the deer park for a while and then went to have a look at the winter garden where I took all of the photos in this post.

The first flowers we saw where these little pink ones which were well spread out in the border.  I wanted to get very low for the photo and had to line up the shot using the LED screen on the camera and rely on the camera to focus on the flowers.


I used a fairly narrow depth of field to isolate these little blossoms from the background in this next photo.


There was a few big patches of snowdrops in the garden and this first photo was taken low and close up to one clump.


In this second photo I made the camera focus on the snowdrops in the middle distance so that the nearer flowers were blurred out.  I also quite like the white barked trees in the background.


In this next photo, from near to where the last photo was taken, I have moved back to get the foreground flowers in focus.


Here are some red blossom on what I think is a type of pieris bush.


Here is another photo taken very low down of some yellow flowers which were growing between the snowdrops.


In the next photo I lifted the camera u a little and pointed it more downwards so that the foreground plant is in focus.


Here are some little purple iris which were at the edge of one of the daffodil beds.  The daffodils haven't flowered yet but there was a lot of stalks and leaves around the garden.


These little blue iris were sheltering under a pieris bush and it was quite dark where they were.  I had to boost the light quite a lot to make them look as if they were in a lighter area.


In the next post I might use some of the other photos which I took at Dunham Massey.  The thing that really annoyed me about the day was that within 15 minutes of leaving the park on the way home there was little sign of the rain that we had seen while I was trying to take photos.  When we got home it didn't look as though it had rained at all.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Fisheye Around Holmfirth

I'm still testing out my new fisheye lens and a couple of weeks ago I had some spare time to walk around Holmfirth while my wife was having her hair done.  It wasn't actually raining but everywhere was still pretty damp.  This first shot was taken at the riverside path which is over the wall from the Co-op car park.  It doesn't show off the distortion from the lens very much but it's a reasonable shot.


Up from the river is a little park behind the Post Office building.  I found it quite interesting to see the lined pattern on the floor under the benches where the rain has dropped through the seats.  One of the attributes of the fisheye lens is a very short close focusing distance which coupled with the very wide angle of view allows the camera to be placed very close to objects and still take in the whole scene.  The front of my lens was only a few inches from the metal frame of the bench for this photo.


This building is the Picturedrome which was originally a cinema but is now mainly used as a music venue.  Sometimes it is used as a cinema and the bar at the rear of the auditorium and the tiny seating area makes it a bit like watching films at home.  It is a wonderfully intimate music venue where the audience is stood a few feet from the stage which is just a couple of feet high.  The venue attract lots of the old bands and artists plus lots of tribute acts and local artists so has a lot of appeal to all music tastes.  I love the way the fisheye lens has exaggerated curve in the river and brought a large amount of Holmfirth into the picture.


Further up the river are the rear view of the mill shop, some office space and the market hall (which was previously a car showroom).  Also the main view of "The Rug Shop" which is across a little bridge across the river.  The lens distortion is highlighted quite well in the red brick building on the left.


After I had my hair cut I crossed the main road in Holmfirth and went up into Victoria Park and was amazed to see blue in the sky between the clouds. As with the picture of the benches in the other park area, I was very close to the railing when I took this shot.


This is a gift of a subject for a fisheye lens with the circular pavers, the rounded metal benches and the curved railings around.  My main problem when taking the photo was trying to make sure that I didn't get my feet in the picture because the camera was pointing downwards quite a lot.


After leaving Victoria Park I walked up the hill above Holmfirth for this final picture.  At the top of the hill the land flattens out and there are a few fields here stretching towards Upperthong. The clouds were moving away to the horizon and leaving a big area of blue sky above me.  I pointed the camera upwards to take in the whole of the old airplane vapour trail which looks to be radiating out from the sun behind the clouds.  The lens distortion has made the horizon wrap upwards at the edges and the yellow sun has lit the wet grass up in a beautiful way.  The white tractor and gate make very good foreground subjects to the picture.  Taking photos directly into the sun can be a bit problematic but I think that this was the best photo of the morning.


I don't have a batch of photos for the next post as yet.  I may have to look back through last year to find something if the weather doesn't do something interesting soon.  Maybe some photos from France may encourage the sun to come out.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Early Flowers in Beaumont Park

We've had a bit of a respite from the rain the last couple of days.  Unfortunately I seem to have gone down with "man flu" so I'm not feeling much like getting out and about.  However we popped out to Beaumont Park just before lunch today and I was very pleased to see lots of signs of spring on the walk and even a few early flowers adding a bit of colour to the landscape.  So here's a few of the photos that I took earlier today starting with some snowdrops.


A closer shot of the snowdrops from low down.  I had to take the camera strap from around my neck and use the screen to compose this shot.


Next are some little white and yellow primroses ...


... and some yellow ones too.


Not being an expert on flowers I had to look these next ones up and I hope they are Hellebore or Christmas Rose.


These are more Christmas Rose which are purple coloured and have not opened yet.


Some more primrose, white ones again and also a lovely vivid blue one.


I tried looking these flowers up but I wasn't sure where to start.  The leaves look a bit like hebe or maybe a pieris but it's probably something completely different.


Another unknown flower which looks a bit like an iris but is probably something else. I wish I knew more about flower species so that I don't sound so dumb when I make these posts.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

When Will the Rain Ever Stop

It feels like it has been raining constantly for as long as I can remember, which at my age isn't that long.  I suppose I can't really complain because down in the South of England they've had lots of flooding but here on the edge of the Pennines that's not likely to happen. Everywhere is very wet though and even when it's not actually raining it's barely fit to take any photographs so I've been doing a bit of mounting and framing to keep me busy.  I've got a few ideas for different things to do with mounting and framing so I've been doing some experimenting.  A couple of weeks ago I framed some postcards from France and I used one of my ideas for putting different things on the mounting board.  I've gone through the process in three posts on my Holme Valley Photo blog so if you're interested the links are here, here and here.

Just after Christmas I bought myself a new lens for my camera.  I decided to go for a diagonal fisheye because it's a look that I quite like and a photographer called Mike Page has been posting lots of photos on Google+ that he'd taken with his fisheye lens which look great.  So this adds to my frustration with the weather because I've not had much chance to get out and try out the new lens.  However I did manage to get out last week for a few hours and here's a few of the photos I took.

I decided to go to Scout Dyke Reservoir as it's close by and somewhere I've been plenty of times so I know where to get some reasonable shots.  This first shot was taken from the dam wall of the control tower and shows how you can use the fisheye lens to bend the horizon up at the edges by aiming towards the sky when taking the shot.  The lens is very wide angled an in some of the photos I've taken with it I managed to get part of myself in the frame.


I thought that the first shot was OK but I was loosing a lot of detail in the shadows so I decided to change to shooting for HDR where I take three shots at different exposures and merge them in post processing.  This time I stood closer to the gangway to the tower and this time angled the camera down towards the water to make the horizon curve downwards towards the edges.


After all the recent rain there was some water running down the reservoir overflow which I haven't seen for quite some time.  This shot was taken part way down the overflow and I used the fisheye again to bend the steps of the overflow.


I took quite a few shots from the bottom end of the overflow where there is a bridge across the water to the buildings where the water authority workers process the water from the reservoir.


I took some footpaths across the fields adjacent to the reservoir and put my normal lens back on the camera for a while.  The fields were very wet underfoot so I was glad that I'd put my walking boots on before I came out to play.  Here's a tree at the edge of the field which isn't normally under water but now it is.


The sun was quite bright and it was nice to see the trees bathed in sunshine for a change.  In this shot the reservoir is in the background and I like the way the clouds seem to be mimicking the branches of the tree.


I moved a lot closer and put the fisheye lens back on the camera for this final shot.  It only stopped raining for the one day and it's been even worse since the day I took these photos.  Hopefully it will stop raining again in the near future so I can get back out and do some more practicing with the fisheye.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A New Beginning - Strange World

Well it's 2014 so I thought it was time to get back into having an on-line presence.  Since retiring last year I thought I would have plenty of time to keep my blogging on a more regular basis but it's not worked out that way at all.  I guess it's not a lack of time that is the problem, although I am keeping very busy, it's more about not having the headspace to think about blogging.  I have been thrashing out (with myself) what I want to do in my retirement, specifically with Holme Valley Photo which is where I am starting to sell my work and services.  I've had a big re-think in the last few months which I have written about on my Holme Valley Photo blog, but briefly I'm looking to offer mounting, framing and photo enhancement services in addition to selling my own art work.

So thats the New Beginning part of the post title done, now onto the Strange World bit.  A few weeks ago I got out early to make some new sunrise photos and ended up getting some very alien looking shots during the morning.  I'll start with a few shots of the colourful sky from a field at Stocksmoor with a few trees in it.  This first one is one of the trees with the clouds picking up the colours from the rising sun.


This is the same tree from further back so that more of the sky is in the shot.


One of the other trees in the foreground and the original tree in the background.


I then went from Stocksmoor to Ingbirchworth for a walk around the reservoir where I took this photo of the sun coming up behind the trees on the horizon.


As I walked around a bank of low cloud came across to cover the base of the windmills across the valley.  This was the first part of the strange world.  After I got back to my car I thought I'd go to the windmills to see how it looked close up, but when I got there the cloud had gone so I decided to go home.


On the way home I noticed some more low cloud in the distance so I changed direction and headed towards the new strange weather activity.


It took me a while to get onto the right road but as I got closer I could see how the yellow sun was reflecting on the top of the clouds as they drifted down the valley.  The road is known locally as the Woodhead Pass which links the cities of Sheffield and Manchester across the Pennines.


I parked up near the road and started walking down an old road which goes into the valley.


There were some trees in the bottom of the valley and as I reached cloud level the sun reflecting on the top of the cloud started to look even more strange.


As I reached the bottom of the valley there was a hard frost on the grass which hadn't gone because the cloud had kept away the warmth of the sun.


Here's another shot closer to the tree in the previous photo.


The cloud was quickly lifting and this shot was taken from the other side of the trees and show the grass being lit up with the yellow light of the sun.


Moving around again I managed to get one last shot as the sun rose above the hillside behind these trees.


This final shot was after the clouds had completely gone leaving the trees bathed in the early sunshine  and the frost melting off of the grass.


I walked around and took a few more shots but I think I've added enough images to this post.  Hope to post again soon.