Day 302 – The Tower of London

One of the most famous landmarks in London is the “Tower of London” – this is one of the Royal palaces and is currently home to the Crown Jewels. It is also an amazingly busy and popular place with tourists and families during half term. We visited, as I always wanted to see the Crown Jewels and I never had … and because it is one of the most prominent landmarks on the Thames when we visit London.

My attention today was to try and capture a view of the Tower of London that my friends from other countries would enjoy, to try and avoid the crowd and to follow the rules – there were many areas where photography of all kinds was prohibited, and to capture some unique views of London that you would only be able to see inside the Tower of London.

Exploring the Tower of London - ISO100, F5, 1/320sec
Exploring the Tower of London – ISO100, F5, 1/320sec

An introduction shot – Continue reading

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Day 300 – A different view, a different beach

I wanted to try a comparison shot with the nd filters and with a polarising filter today … so aimed to go prepared and I also watched to capture the beach, some coastal interesting shooting wide. Busy morning planned – I also got to enjoy an 11k walk with hubby and the photo buddies. Continue reading

Day 236 – Lifeboats and the RNLI All Weather Centre

I was lucky enough to visit the brand new RNLI all weather lifeboat centre at Poole at their open weekend. This fantastic location is the home and training centre to the RNLI. It is open regularly for tours – so if you want to find out more about their amazing life saving work you can book a visit.

I had to use my Sigma 17-70mm lens as I was too close to the action to use my Canon lens, but I think I got some interesting record shots of the day. The RNLI really do use bright colours with their signature orange branding, and it was really interesting to see how the indoor photo turned out in the rain – I don’t usually take photos in heavy rain and I like that one a lot. I also like the reflection of the RNLI crew in the water.

It is interesting to see how shooting close and shooting wide can create a different feel to the image.

Day 227 – Seeing the Stars (Chasing the dark part 4)

Now is suppose to be a great time of year to view the Perseid Meteor shower – so I thought why not have a go, and I discovered that it really was down to a certain amount of luck – the weather had to be right – a fairly cloud free sky, I had to choose my spot – somewhere dark with relatively little light pollution, I had to set my camera up on in the right direction and then I had to have a star shoot past the lens whilst the shutter was open.

I have done a variety of night time images before, but to capture the meteors I had to consider:

  • Shooting wide – so I could include as much as the sky as possible
  • A wider aperture to let as much light in as possible – and a shutter speed of less than 30 secs on my wide angle lens so that the stars were stationary.
  • The higher the aperture the more light I could collect… so the more stars that appear in my final image – but if it is too noisy the photo would be no good anyway.
  • Foreground interest, to give a sense of scale and a feeling of place
  • Trying to ensure the composition was balanced in the dark, the horizons were straight, that I was not spooked by forest animals and I did not fall over the legs of my tripod in the dark… it is surprisingly easy to loose it!

Disappointingly although I saw a few meteors, I did not capture anything on camera. I did however capture these images at Cadnam’s Pool.

ISO6400, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO6400, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I started shooting with a high ISO so that I could make sure that I had the camera in focus. The skies looked dark, but it was amazing how much orange glow could be detected on my sensor. This was a great place to start as I realised how wide the lens was and needed to adjust the location of my camera so it was further away from the car – in the lower left you can see the reflection of the car’s mirror.

ISO100, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO100, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

ISO 100, and only the brightest stars are detected, it would be great to a meteor to shoot across the sky, but it lacks interest.

ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I moved around around the area – and experimented with ISO – ISO800 worked well, allowing some additional starts and not too much light pollution. It was amazing how the dark pond was lit up by reflected light from the sky, however this meant that my image did not include enough sky to capture the occasional meteor.

ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO800, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I worked out where the meteors were occasionally going accross the sky and moved the camera so it was pointing in that direction. This meant I had a less interesting foreground, and above being much closer to the car park … when a car draws into the car park whilst the shutter is open it is amazing how high up the trees the headlights create light.

ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

I thought about changing the format of the camera and shooting portrait, this way by including my car and a small part of the pond and a huge area of sky, there was more chance of capturing something of interest, but as you can see the clouds are arriving quickly and really reflect the town lights, and the movement of the wind can be seen in the trees to the right.

ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

This final shot is in a different direction, I included it cause I can clearing make out one constellation in the sky. It is the one most people learn to look for first I think – I perhaps should have had a slightly shorter shutter speed, but I think I have managed to capture the stars relatively stationary.

ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs
ISO3200, 10-20mm lens, 10mm focal length, F4.5, 30 secs

Day 149 – Shooting Wide

Back home and I was challenge in one of the facebook groups I am in to have a go with a zoom lens and shoot as wide as possible and see what the result of those images are. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try, so on a dog walk out to Hurst Castle I thought about keeping my lens as wide as possible. I had one or two problems, the first being my photo buddies – they kept getting into shot making the composition harder especially as due to the birds one had to be kept on the lead.

ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F6.3, 1/1000 sec
ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F6.3, 1/1000 sec

To show you the range of the lens, this is the same lens fully zoomed and cropped in. The shallower depth of field is much more distinctive in this shot.

ISO 100, 250mm zoom, F6.3, 1/1400 sec
ISO 100, 250mm zoom, F6.3, 1/1400 sec

I cropped this image top and bottom to make a stronger composition … it is quite interesting how much can be included in the shot when you go wide… and you have to make sure there nothing is bring cut out on the edges.

ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/640 sec
ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/640 sec

This next image shows just how important composition is – the bridge stops you looking at the amazing background. I also notice in processing that my 18-250mm lens had crept forward … it is not uncommon in zoom lens… and it is something that I am aware happens, but I had not realised it had during today’s practice.

ISO 100, 21mm zoom, F11, 1/200 sec
ISO 100, 21mm zoom, F11, 1/200 sec

With the camera wide, it was important to consider the lines that draw you into the image, the placement of the horizon and foreground interest. This shot (below) was not strong enough.

ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/250 sec
ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/250 sec

Moving closer and moving down – I felt I got a much stronger composition.

ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/250 sec
ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/250 sec

Another wide angle shot, and once again my photo buddy has crept into shot… now if he turned round and faced to camera he would have made a good foreground subject 🙂

ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/200 sec
ISO 100, 18mm zoom, F11, 1/200 sec

Got Sparky back and got the shot… though I did not notice the lens had crept … and I was no longer shooting fully wide.

ISO 100, 35mm zoom, F11, 1/125 sec
ISO 100, 35mm zoom, F11, 1/125 sec

From exactly the same location, I shot this photo of the lighthouse… this photo was also shot wide – but with a lens with a bigger zoom – my 150-500 sigma lens.  I love the detail that has been brought out in the compressed grass layers, and because of the distance covered, this kind of shot of Hurst Castle Lighthouse with the Isle of Wight behind is only possible on a clear day.

ISO 100, 150mm zoom, F11, 1/250 sec
ISO 100, 150mm zoom, F11, 1/250 sec

My final shot is a large panoramic image – this was shot with my camera in the portrait position, on my 150-500mm lens, with the camera resting on a monopod so I could keep the height the same – so all the images were taken wide and then joined together and cropped.

150mm zoom of 150-500 mm lens, several photos merged together
150mm zoom of 150-500 mm lens, several photos merged together

Day 96 – On Location

A couple of weeks ago I got to visit a stunning Bed and breakfast property in the New Forest National Park and was privileged to be able to take some photos for it for their online advertising – I was not sure what to expect when I arrived, but it was 100 times better and the previous photos that i had seen taken maybe 15 years ago really did not inspire you to stay. It in in an idyllic location with stunning views and it would have amazing night skies.

I took with me:

  • A choice of lens but I ended up only using my Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens
  • My tripod
  • My white balance tool that I got for my birthday – brilliant for HDR photos, and for making me look professional … always great to have a gadget people have never seen before!
  • The photos were ten processed in Lightroom and as HDR images in photoshop.

New Forest B&B Location PhotosNew Forest B&B Location Photos New Forest B&B Location Photos New Forest B&B Location Photos New Forest B&B Location PhotosNew Forest B&B Location Photos New Forest B&B Location PhotosMy favorite shot from today was this one below – it was a shot I just had to take – it would be amazing to have a window in my home with a view like this. If you would like to go and stay – their new advert and photos can be found here on the Explore the New Forest web site, I was waiting to post them once I had their approval.

PhotoChallenge-Tothill Window-6

I entered the above photo in last week’s camera club competition – the judge loved it. He said it was a simple image that drew you in, with three windows, the flowers, the lack of clutter, the roof framing the window, the paths leading you into the landscape were well balanced and it was well captured. There  were 18 photos in class and this one did really well – it was one of two top images scoring 10/10 and a seal. My first digital seal of the year.

Day 11 – Forest Walk

Today I took my wide angle and my tripod out to the New Forest – experimenting with shutter speeds and looking for a lone tree that would make a great focal point for my photo.

ISO 100, 10mm focal length F20 1/30 sec
ISO 100, 10mm focal length F20 1/30 sec
ISO 100, 10mm focal length F4 1/800 sec
ISO 100, 10mm focal length F4 1/800 sec

The same tripod position was used for both pictures – I would like a lighter tripod – but I prefer the fluffier clouds in the first image, with the longer shutter speed, the clarity of the background and the details are stronger I think in the water reflection of the 2nd image.  There is also a really distracting vertical line in the clouds in the 2nd image … I enjoy exploring the outdoors and taking shots like these… just got to make my kit lighter….

Extra note: As a member of my local camera club I am encouraged to enter the Southampton International Photographic competition…. and I have been brave – today I submitted two digital images … I really dont think they will do that well, but if I don’t enter, I am not really being an active member of the club – and after all if you aren’t in it – you can win it … so pushing outside my comfort zone and at least entering this year!

Day 10 – Windy Day on the beach

Today is a lovely windy day, so I walk to the beach was in order to blow our the cobwebs – I took a tripod 🙂 and a couple of photos with my wide angle lens. I think it is the first time I have been really aware how the shutter speed effects the end result of what I capture in my photo.

This first photo shows how having a small aperture (high f stop number) and a slow the movement of the waves is blurred – trying underexposing or using a neutral density filter would be essential if I wanted to keep this depth of field but increase the shutter speed further to enable to the water to be more of a milky blur.

ISO 100, 1/13 sec F31 - 20mm zoom
ISO 100, 1/13 sec F31 – 20mm zoom

These two shots show how with a shorter shutter speed – timing is really important to get the right feel to the shot …  the first photo shows the rocks just being splashed by a wave, whereas in my second shot – the foam from the sea covers the rocks in the foreground and the foam is bubbling up – the tripod is in the same place in both shots… but I prefer the timing of the 2nd one.

ISO 100, 1/800 sec F5.6 - 20mm zoom
ISO 100, 1/800 sec F5.6 – 20mm zoom
ISO 100, 1/800 sec F5.6 - 20mm zoom
ISO 100, 1/800 sec F5.6 – 20mm zoom

My favorite shot – was the first image I captured… no tripod, a higher ISO… and at a wider angle only 11mm -but the overall difference with this photo is the light that was available at the time… it was only a minute or two before the other shot… but the sun appears a little brighter… and the wider angle adds more foreground interest….  I have added a graduated filter on the sky in Lightroom … now I am unsure whether all the shots may have benefited from the wider, whether F16 is a better focusing spot on this lens, or whether the light was better at this moment.

At least I have a whole year to experiment!

iso 400, 1/250 F16 - 11mm zoom
iso 400, 1/250 F16 – 11mm zoom

Day 9 – Wide Angle Walk

It is a beautiful day so today I took the dogs off into a walk into town along with my wide angle lens to get a shot of the harbour – no other reason, other than to take the kids of photo I enjoy looking at – scenery / landscape style images….

Lens: Sigma 10-20mm 1:4-5.6

20mm ISO 400 handheld - when will I learn -  F 8 1/1600 sec
20mm ISO 400 handheld –  F 8 1/1600 sec

The same photo is shown below with a black and white edit in Lightroom – which I feel is a much more timeless image… my favorite – the colour I think… as my eye is drawn to the different shades of blue.

20mm ISO 400 handheld -  F 8 1/1600 sec - black and white edit
20mm ISO 400 handheld – when will I learn – F 8 1/1600 sec