Joe Cornish, the great British landscape photographer, advocates taking most of your photographs no more than thirty minutes from your home. So, here's my blog featuring pictures either thirty minutes drive or walk away from my front door or from the place where I'm staying for a few days. I'll also be writing about photography in general from time to time. Please enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

From a Riverside Balcony...

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The snow returned on Friday sprinkling its magic over Cheshire. Here's a scene from the balcony of a good friend's home looking out over the River Dee towards Chester; a delightful view enhanced by the snow and beautiful sunlight.

This is four images taken with my compact camera, which were then stitched together in Photoshop Elements. They were then tidied up using Adobe Camera RAW and finished off back in Elements where the brightness was tweaked to bring a a little detail in the trees on the left. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Sailing Home

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Another Anglesey sunset... this one is a photograph from the original Menai Bridge looking west along the Straits. The sun had just dropped below the horizon when a small boat passed under the bridge and into view creating some lovely foreground interest.

Hand held for a change and very minor tweaking of the levels and saturation. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


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An odd piece of graffiti... in the style of Banksy but stapling a drawing instead of using a stencil as a template. And what a subject <smile>... a Zenit E from way back when. A great camera in its day; my first SLR was a Zenit (upgraded from a Zorki 4, comrades!) in the late 1960's, which I eventually traded in for a Pentax Spotmatic at Jessops in Leicester. They were a tiny company then with just a couple of stores in Leicester.

This is one of the many derelict shops in Crewe and I might just change the theme of my project and photograph some more of the deserted premises.

Adobe Camera RAW

For a while now I've felt rather hamstrung when editing RAW files by the fact that the Adobe Camera RAW 5 (ACR) editor in Photoshop Elements is a cut down version of the program found in the full Photoshop package. I suppose that one shouldn't complain too much given the price differential in the two packages but with just about every digital photography book and magazine encouraging the use of RAW for digital capture you'd think that Adobe would be kind enough to give all their users the full ACR hit. 

There's some useful functions in the full version of ACR not least of which is the spot removal tool; the ability to have a fully cleaned up image (i.e. all dust spots removed) at the RAW processing stage is a real boon and reduces the need for additional layers once inside Elements.

What I'm about to say next may well be common knowledge but I can't recall having read it anywhere or heard mention of this little trick: you can access the FULL version or ACR through Adobe Bridge! Deep joy! Bridge is used as the library function in the Mac version of Elements as opposed to the Organize program, which is used in Windows versions. 

It's simple to access, too. When you're organising your library in Bridge simply select the RAW image you want to process and click on the icon on the toolbar (top row of icons) that looks like a lens diaphragm, which is second from the right, and the full version of ACR 5 will open. You can also open JPEGs, TIFFs and other supported file formats in ACR 5 in this way.

So, if you're a Mac user and running Elements 8 with Bridge you get the real bonus of the full ACR program. Hurrah!

Just another great benefit of being a Mac zealot...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I've Known Mornings White as Diamonds*

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Tuesday dawned cold, clear and crisp with a sharp hoar frost so I packed a lightweight camera kit and set off on the numerous footpaths near home in search of things to photograph. I shared my three hour trek with robins, blue tits, rabbits, lapwing, fieldfares and assorted other wild things exploring a couple of footpaths I'd not been along before. This lovely scene - yes, the sky really was that blue! - was a bit of a challenge to expose correctly. I think this is the pick of the images I took during my walk. I hope you like it.

*White as Diamonds - Alela Diane from the album "To Be Still"

Snow and Ice

On the way up to Cwm Idwal (see the last entry) I took a number of photographs of Tryfan, Pen yr Ole Wen and Llyn Ogwen with my compact camera. Once downloaded onto my computer I saw that there was enough images to make another panorama. This one's a bit of a monster; there's ten images in total stitched together with Photoshop Elements.

Anyway, here it is for your enjoyment....

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Winter Bites...

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I have much sympathy with those who for the past ten days or so have been snowbound, stranded, missed holiday flights, school and a whole lot more. Where I've been there hasn't been so much snow but below zero temperatures and freezing fog have been much in evidence. Brrrr!

Two pictures for you from my recent travels; above is the majestic Pen yr Ole Wen, 3,209 feet of Welsh mountain. I'd been to Cwm Idwall and just before I turned for home the clouds cleared and the sun shone on the snowy summit.

I've been tinkering with panoramic images over the past few days and the picture below comprises two images of a frozen Llyn Idwal. Photoshop Elements did the stitching of the two images and I'm quite pleased with the results.

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Please feel free to leave some comments.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Project Update: 'Times Past'

I've been out and about pursuing my little project and I was struck by the number of fairly old items scattered about the streets near home. As a result the project is tentatively entitled 'Times Past'. There's quite a number of things that date back to the 1940's and 50's if you look carefully and take note of your surroundings and I guess that as more and more development takes place such things will eventually disappear. Here's three images of things I particularly like...

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The faded writing on the wall of a public house and the old RAC road sign (is it the oldest one still in use, I wonder? I've not seen one like it anywhere else) were within 200 yards of each other. And no, that isn't my shop in the lower picture!

As always, comments are welcome...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Holiday Homes 3

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Fresh overnight snow followed by freezing temperatures in Snowdonia produces a wonderful sight for walkers and photographers alike. A storm is gathering over Foel-Goch bringing the threat of yet more snow and adds some drama to the scene while Llyn Ogwen remains frozen over despite early morning sun. New Year's Day 2010.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Holiday Homes 2

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Anglesey... a late August sunset at Tywyn Fferam on the west coast of the island.

I'd only just arrived on the island for the weekend when this stunning sunset presented itself. A quick dash up the coast to another favourite location and the fastest setup ever to snatch a few shots from the headland overlooking the beach. No filters were used and just a tad of under exposure with the merest tweak of the saturation in Photoshop Elements.

Holiday Homes...

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Okay, I admit it.... this isn't thirty minutes from my home, more's the pity! I'm lucky to be able to travel quite often so 'temporary holiday homes' give me endless opportunities to stretch the thirty minute rule.

This is the western end of Llyn Padarn at Llanberris looking east towards Pen-y-Pass and the Snowdon range. A lovely still summer afternoon, blue skies, fluffy clouds and perfect for landscape photography. I spent most of the afternoon here looking for the right picture. This whole area is a lovely part of the world.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Always Carry a Camera!

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It really does pay to always carry a camera with you... I was greeted with this line-up of Bentley's old and new outside the Bentley factory in Crewe when out for a stroll on a sunny summer day. You never know what you might see.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Storming North

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I grew up with steam trains... as a small boy my bedroom window overlooked a quite busy line and I was always fascinated by the sight and sound of a steam locomotive. In the late 1960's as the steam locomotive was phased out railway photography was radically changed from the sunlit front three-quarters view of a clean engine to a more realistic dirty, gritty, rainy one by the likes of Colin Gifford, Ian Krause and many others. They didn't go for pretty locations; the industrial north with its decaying buildings and lousy weather became the backdrop. And often the train was secondary to the location. I photographed many steam trains with my little Halina 120 camera during 1967 and to the end of July 1968. Sadly, the negatives were lost in various house moves.

Whenever it's possible I still get out and photograph steam trains. This is 71000 'Duke of Gloucester' at Coppenhall Moss just north of Crewe working very hard; I've treated this to a monochrome conversion, a severe crop and added some Giffordesque grain.

Two books that I can recommend are Gifford's 'Decline of Steam' and 'Each a Glimpse' and Ian Krause's 'Steam', which show how steam railway photography changed in the mid- to late-sixties.

A New Project

Black & White Photography magazine challenges its readers each month with an assignment which can last for a few days or a couple of weekends (short term), several weeks (medium term)or a year (long term).

The first stage is to fire off shots; experiment, indulge yourself, enjoy. The aim is to get three or four satisfactory images. For the medium term build up a collection of images using the time to plan and experiment. The aim here is to have produced at least four images. Finally, the long term aim is to produce around eight pictures building a sequence of images across a whole year.

So, for my own pleasure, for the next couple of weeks or so I'll be looking for a theme on my local travels. Look out for progress reports...


Monday, 15 November 2010

Little Moreton Hall

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Old buildings are another passion. They do so lend themselves to being photographed but often it's difficult to get an image without people admiring them. Little Moreton Hall, near Congleton, has a public footpath running right past its front door. On this occasion I was looking for something a little different so I ventured off the path a ways and used the reeds and moat as foreground interest. One of the finest Elizabethan timber-framed buildings in the UK, Little Moreton Hall is owned by the National Trust.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Dawn Patterns at Winterley

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I like water and reflections. There is something very calming about sitting by a still lake waiting for the right moment to press the shutter and capture another unique moment. There's plenty of pools and lakes near my home so I'm never stuck for things to photograph.

My favourite time of day is either dawn or dusk. This is a dawn shot taken at Winterley Pool about five miles from home. The rising mist and sun  together with the trails of early aircraft combine to give an ethereal image.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Marbury Church

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This is in the village of Marbury cum Quoisley on the Shropshire/Cheshire border right on my thirty minute limit and a much loved location. The mere presents lots of picture opportunities with fishing platforms jutting out into the water. It's a much loved location and one I return to often.