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!

Monday, 28 February 2011

I'm Published!

I've had a (very) small image published on the letters page of the March edition of Practical Photography (page 14 if you'll permit my vanity!). The image is my take on Robert Doisneau's 'The Kiss', which you can find in entry 'French Street Photography' on this blog. I'm very pleased to be in print again. 

I also got invited to the UK film premiere of 'The Insatiable Moon' in Stoke--on-Trent where I took some photographs for the Stoke Your Fires animation event at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Some of my pictures can be seen on the website on the following link:

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Photographers Ephemeris

I'm a sucker for sunsets, I really am and there's lots of places I'm getting to know where, given the right conditions, some spectacular ones can be seen. My current favourite locations are West Kirby on the Wirral peninsular and the west coast of Anglesey from Llanddwyn to Tywyn Fferam. There's lots of places to discover, too. I'm planning a trip to the Jurassic coast of Dorset, the north Devon coast and to see and photograph the wooden lighthouse at Burnham on Sea in Somerset probably in May.

One of the best tools I've found for planning such adventures is The Photographers Ephemeris. This little tool allows you to plot sunrise and sunset times for just about any location in the world. It's superbly accurate; I put it to the test a couple of weeks back on Anglesey when it plotted the sunrise at Beaumaris perfectly. There's two versions: a desktop one, which is free, and an iPhone app, which is £5.49 (UK). Once you've got a copy of the program or app start it up and search for a location. When it finds where you're after it drops a pin that can be moved to the optimum location. Yellow and blue 'beams' are projected showing the sunrise and sunset on the yellow axis and moonrise and set on the blue one complete with times. You can fix the date to any point in the year.

There's all sorts of other calculations such as elevation above sea level, azimuth and altitude of the sun or moon for any time of daylight and it will even find when the sun/moon will appear from behind a hill! It's invaluable for the landscape photographer. All I now need to complete my landscape kit is a nice set of Lee ND grad filters!

You can get TPE by clicking below:

To round off this post, here's a West Kirby sunset from last winter. As always, ACR5 was used to process the image before final tweaking in Elements and a 5x5 crop, a format I'm liking this more and more...

Click the image for the bigger picture

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dawn at Bangor

After the snow and ice of December the weather in January was not particularly brilliant and certainly not when I was free to take some photographs. I did manage a couple of good days on Anglesey in the middle of the month and took the weather people at their word turning out to shoot the dawn from Beaumaris Pier. It was a lovely morning with nary a cloud in sight, which rather spoiled my plan of shooting the sun rising over the Welsh mountains. And it was cold with a sharp easterly wind adding a sizeable windchill factor. All was not lost because as I was driving back to Menai Bridge the sun popped over the mountain tops and bathed Menai Straits in a lovely golden light. I knew a spot where I could get to the water's edge and managed to get a couple of half decent shots. Here's a picture of Bangor Pier taken from the slipway of the Gazelle Hotel. Enjoy!

Click image for the bigger picture

Monday, 14 February 2011

A Grand Day Out

The lovely people at Nikon UK organised a Nikon Professional Users seminar at Salford Quays last week with three different 90-minute lectures during the day and the opportunity to have your kit cleaned for a small donation to their charity of the year, Born Too Soon. It's amazing what you can learn in three hours. I opted for two seminars: an introduction to Nikon's creative lighting system and a Nikon system tips and tricks.

It was an excellent day and, as always, much was learned. I've never really liked flash photography preferring available light but in recent months I've been asked by friends to take some portraits and capture a few family events, which meant getting my head around flash. I'm using a Nikon SB-900 flash and whilst generally satisfied with my efforts I needed to get a little more knowledge under my belt. John Clement ran this seminar and what an eye-opener it was. As a result of John's excellent presentation I picked up some interesting ideas and need to sit down and research flash photography in more depth. The tips and tricks session was also excellent if only for a neat little trick to ensure you only take pictures once your subject is in focus.

One important lesson was gaining knowledge of the Nikon Professional User network, a service provided by Nikon UK to pro kit users. Lots of benefits including a quarterly magazine and invitations to training events with discounts when fees are charged.

Thank you, Nikon, for a very informative and entertaining day!

Whilst at Salford Quays I took the opportunity to visit an exhibition of Harry Hammond's 50's and 60's monochrome images of popular musicians at The Lowry. Great pictures of The Beatles, Cliff and the Shadows, Adam Faith, Billy Fury and a host of other great performers. Well worth making the effort for. The exhibition runs to 10 April 2011. Here's one of his Beatles pictures to whet your appetite:

© Harry Hammond

More later this week - I hope!