The second set of pictures I took yesterday afternoon, in unseasonably warm sunshine, was from the marina at Shotley. This is a peninsula between the rivers Orwell and Stour, and within a few hundred yards of the shore here you have Harwich, to the south, which is a major ferry port for European destinations, and Felixstowe to the north, which is one of the largest ports in Europe. It being a Sunday afternoon, the port was relatively quiet, with two large container ships already berthed, Maersk Klaipeda and MSC Rossella, and one which arrived whilst I was shooting, Maersk Taurus [which is the one in the last picture].
It is quite interesting watching the movement of these vast ships – the port is now able to handle the largest container ships in the world – because although the Taurus has a weight of 94,000 tonnes, it was pirouetted 180 degrees by two little tugs in about five minutes, and looked for a moment rather graceful. The other interesting thing about shooting a large port like this is the sheer vastness of the machines. As well as the ships, which are incomparably large, the cranes also dwarf everything around them. Their drivers sit a hundred feet above the ground in a glass cab, sliding back and forth over the dock and then over the ship as they move the containers.
My daughter is at school quite a way from home, and as a result, when birthday parties occur, there is usually a long drive involved. Rather than try and get home and then go back again, I find it easier [assuming the weather is decent] to take the camera and find somewhere nearby to take some photos for a couple of hours. Today was just such an afternoon; the dog refused to get into the car, so I could not spend the time walking him. Instead, I took two sets of pictures. The first is of Pin Mill, a small hamlet that sits on the south bank of the River Orwell as it flows from Ipswich out to sea at Felixstowe. The light was very clear today, and the still water provided some great reflections.
Here are a few pictures from a recent trip to Liverpool, mostly from the Pier Head area. I snuck out of the hotel and captured some interesting sights. My previous ramblings around the city were documented here.
The first one was taken out of my hotel window, and the second is a crop of the first, but with the white balance turned down to about 2200. They were all taken on my d3100 with shutter priority mode at F16 over a long exposure at ISO100. Hey, enjoy, already too soon!
Right, to ease me back into blogging again after a lengthy lay off, I am posting a little photo diary of this weekend’s trip to Copenhagen. It was savagely cold, in a way that the UK has not been so far this winter. The east wind goes through any layers you are wearing and eats its way into your very being. Copenhagen is a compact little city, with a lot of waterways, and a few very good real ale pubs. These shots were all taken with my little Samsung point and shoot camera, because we only took hand luggage and the big camera is too big!!
Phew, long time no posts, eh?
Sorry about the break – you know the kind of thing. Work, real life, tonsillitis – but tonight I’ve decided to post some things just to get me back in the habit again. August was such a great month for FR – I was acually exceeding one post per day at one point – and then…only one for the whole of October!
Not much commentary with these as I had originally felt that they didn’t make the cut – but I think I was also getting a little to technical – precious about my shots as well, and I had forgotten that a picture can be worthwhile even if it’s not technically perfect. So….they do at least convey, to me at least, the end of summer on the bleak Suffolk coast – the crowds have gone, the temperature is cooling, the clouds have obscured the sun, and the leaves are starting to drop. Some are HDR’s but the people on the beach one is just a single exposure.
It’s a long haul ’til next spring…
And finally, moving north-west again,I took this one in my New Brighton Beach set which I posted last month. To some of you it will be horrendously over-cooked, and that’s why I held off from posting it. However I have just looked at it again and I think it’s worth posting – it certainly conveys that ‘end of summer’ feeling, although some might say it’s more ‘end of the world’……if you have an opinion, use the comments box below to let me know!
I took this some time ago; it’s an HDR rendering of the boilers in the brewing house of the Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds. The brewery has dominated the town for as long as anybody can remember: when you are in the streets near to the site on a brewing day, you can see the clouds of steam from the boil, and the smell of malt extract and hops pervades the whole town. This picture is shot in small yard in front of one of the main buildings, through whose windows you can see the vast boilers that are used to boil the ‘mash’ and the hops, which are added at different stages. In the reflection on the window, you can see the tops of two of the vertical fermenting tanks that the finished, hopped wort is moved into, having been cooled, to turn, slowly, into beer.
My recent tour around England’s North-West took me in an exotic loop from Runcorn, through to Salford via a weekend at a friend’s house in New Brighton, just a short ferry from Liverpool across the Mersey. I took some shots on the beach on a sunny afternoon, because the sea front has unique qualities. The sea can retreat at low tide for maybe a quarter of a mile, leaving a vast sandy expanse; yet at other times it can seem as if it is trying to breach the sea wall and flood the [reclaimed] sea front. Here are some photos that I took with a no.8 graduated ND filter and my trusty circular polariser. A couple are HDR’s, the rest just normal.
Above: The ‘Lifeguard’ hut is a great subject for a shot or two. This is actually an HDR of four shots at varying exposures.
I love the way the clouds seem to radiate from the centre of this picture – it gives it some dynamism and almost makes it look as if I meant to get this effect!!
Above – testing out the depth of field technique of focusing ‘one third in’ to the picture.
Above” This is the sea wall and where I am standing is often under water – so the wall has acquired a nice patina.
Above: That rather dramatic sky again, captured in Black and White.
Above: Looking out to sea from the gap at the top of the steps, this is an HDR rendering of four shots taken at varying exposures, the given a ‘pop’ in Topaz Adjust.
Much has been made in the British press about the BBC’s gradual move to Salford, near Manchester. It has been explained as a cost cutting measure and also as part of the ongoing attempts to revitalise the provinces and draw some of the attention away from London. Well that’s as may be, but I found myself temporarily relocated to Salford this week for a few days because of work. One evening, me and my two colleagues decided to take a wander, and so I took my Nikon and my tripod with me too. Not a great look for a casual wanderer, but it made for some interesting night time shots. I also fell victim, for the first time, to the security guard intervention syndrome that so afflicts the urban snapper. Luckily, this chap was quite nice once I explained myself as an amateur photographer, explaining that ‘we’re told to ask people, like’……
Above: The building works still continue, but the whole mediacity site does have something of a buzz about it.
Above: A shot of the Mediacity tram terminal at F16.
Above: The main square – the ‘Studio’ building to the right houses Childrens’ BBC and Blue Peter is also situated close by. My daughter was impressed by this.
Above: The quay looking towards the Lowry Museum.
Above: The sweeping glass facade of the CBBC studios, where you might meet actors dressed as unlikely, furry creatures. Or a dalek or two.
Above: The sail bridge, whose lighting, like that of much of the illuminated area, changes colour constantly.
Above: This was the view from my 15th floor hotel window. On the first evening, before the sun set, I set up the camera and tripod, and took a set of images of this view at a range of -3ev to +3 ev. Then I merged them in Photomatix to create this interesting HDR image. My hotel room had floor to ceiling windows, which made me feel a bit uneasy if I went too close and looked down. In the background is Trafford Park, which is a vast expanse of goods sheds, oil depots and container haulage yards that goes on for miles, and is the size of a small town.
Above: I took this from the 15th floor lift lobby in the Holiday Inn by setting up my tripod and camera right up by the window (which needed a clean!!!) and using a polarising filter to minimise reflections. Luckily nobody came out of the lift to see me!!!
One of the things that I like most in terms of photos is pictures taken at dusk or night time; even more so if water is involved. I have already mentioned that I had some great night time shots in my sights in Swansea Marina this week, only to be dashed by the poor weather. If there is a choice between slogging around a deserted water side district and sitting in the hotel bar with a pint of real ale, then there is of course no choice. So last night, having finally returned back to Suffolk, I took the plunge, as it were, and popped over to Ipswich and the Marina in order to take some shots in darkness.
However there are many things you learn when you involve yourself in photography. One is to always heed the old Boy Scout motto, ‘Be Prepared’. I found that, no doubt like most ‘water side developments’, this one was tightly controlled as far as parking went. Even at 8pm. And of course, I had not brought any change with me. So much frustrated driving around followed, and just as I was about to give up and go home, a space right on the waterfront availed itself. I breathed a sigh of relief, and set about getting the Nikon ready to shoot. I set the F-stop to 11, the ISO to 100, and the mode to manual. Then I got the tripod out and got ready to shoot. The results of my first night time shoot surprised me. They are, I hesitate to say, rather pleasing. I have made a few elementary errors such as letting street lights leak into the corners of some shots, and I over exposed one of them and made it rather grainy, and I also learnt a bit about post processing.
Yes, the post processing ‘workflow’ has become a bit of an art for me with my daylight photos. I use Adobe Camera Raw to sort out clarity, detail and sharpening, and have been in the habit of increasing the sharpening in recent weeks. But on pictures taken at night, even on a low ISO, that is asking for trouble as you are letting masses of noise into the shot. So I then did a second pass and was more restrained in my settings, and here are the initial results. Hope you enjoy them.
Finally, before we get to the actual results, I have learnt a few things again here. In no particular order, here are some things I will try and remember next time:
- The positioning of the camera is key. I didn’t consider the effects of the streetlight above my camera in the second picture, and it flared into the top right corner.
- Use a shutter remote release. You don’t want that camera moving. I haven’t sussed out the mirror lock function yet, but this also helps in steadying the camera and that’s how you get those pin-sharp images.
- To deal with the artefacts and lens flare from the lights in some pictures – take the long exposure first [most of mine were 6-10 seconds], then take the same shot at a much shorter exposure. You can subsequently increase its exposure in Camera Raw, and then add it as a layer to the original so you can erase the flared bits and expose non flared detail beneath.
- The key settings are LOW ISO, LONG EXPOSURE, but try to start at about F8 and play around with the aperture in Aperture Priority mode.
- Beware pedestrians; especially when a tripod is involved. Don’t hog footpaths, especially if like me some shots were taken outside a busy pub on the dock – you don’t want to end up with the tripod wrapped round your neck.
- Prepare – check out things like parking charges if you are driving – many ‘shootable’ venues such as this one are very busy, even at night, and nothing is more frustrating than driving round unable to stop and take pictures!
Above: I was surprised at the clarity and crispness of the images in low light – that is the effect of a decent tripod and a low ISO.
Above: This was an interesting shot because it involves indoor and outdoor subjects. A surprising amount of detail from the inside has been captured.
Above: Some flare from the rope ligths in the middle of the picture, because this was taken with a 6 second exposure at F11.
Above: The shot that taught me that ‘less is more’ as far as post processing goes. Just a little sharpening and some de-noising.
Above: Again some lens flare, this is a problem I will have to learn to deal with by positioning the camera.
Above: a crop from a larger image, again having done some post processing, mainly in camera raw, I’m pleased with the result.
Apologies for the few days without posting, after my 100% record! I’ve been in Swansea where there were some great night time photo opportunities, but it rained heavily the whole time, so the camera stayed firmly in the car. Anyway, I took some evening shots of Bury back in August, and went back to take some more of the area around the cathedral recently. These were mid afternoon pictures on a rather unsettled day, so I had to contend with the diffused light and some interesting clouds. But I still rather like some of the ‘keepers’ I took, all of which were taken hand held as opposed to using the trusty tripod. The good looking chap portrayed by the statue in the bottom photo is St Edmund, the King of East Anglia.