Saturday, 24 December 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas to everyone.  I hope 2012 will be enjoyable and successful for each of you.  Thank you for reading my blog this year and there will be more to come in 2012 and also from our trip to Mull next week.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Picture of the Week: Mansell Family Collection

One of my favourite images from 2010 showing Nigel Mansell's famous helmet colours alongside the variations on a theme adopted by Leo and Greg.  This was taken during the first test of the Beechdean Mansell Motorsport Ginetta Zytek in Portugal.



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Monday, 19 December 2011

What a Year

This is the time of year we all look back and take stock of what we have done.  My overriding memory of 2011 was the different places I got to visit thanks, in the main, to my job in motorsport but also for family time when I was at home. When working I did manage to squeeze in some time to take photographs as well.  


In 2011 I visited - United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Slovakia, The Netherlands, China, Argentina, South Africa, Scotland and, of course, new places in England. 


There is still one more trip to make in 2011 and that is back to the Isle of Mull on the 26th December for the New Year celebrations.


Here are some of my photographic highlights of the year -


Monza, Italy

Navarra, Spain

Sound of Mull, Scotland
Cape Town, South Africa

Southern Right Whales, Hermanus, South Africa

The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Grid Girl in Mongolian National Dress, Ordos, China

The Great Wall of China

Ashness Bridge, Lake District, England

The pitlane at Potrero los Funes, Argentina

Potrero los Funes, Argentina
Potrero los Funes, Argentina

Fountain's Abbey, Ripon, England
Sunrise in Haarlem, Netherlands



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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Pictures of the Week: York Minster

Last April we visited York for the first time in many years.  A trip to York Minster is a must and these two mono architectural shots of the West Front and Main Entrance show the details of this magnificent building.

The Rose Window and Main Entrance, taken from Minster Gates

West Front of York Minster
The York Minster website can be found HERE


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Monday, 12 December 2011

Mono-tastic

Black & White photography is a bit like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it.  However in some pictures the colours are a distraction and as a mono image it becomes something more dramatic and interesting.


I've always been a fan of the Black & White image and when I am out and about I always look for pictures that will look good without colour.  Having said that I have learnt to take the picture in colour and convert it to mono in Photoshop rather than switch the camera to mono mode (which in RAW keeps the colour data anyway).


As someone who worked in a darkroom, 'dodging' and 'burning' to produce the perfect B&W image, altering images in Photoshop is much easier and any mistakes are easily rectified.


Here are a selection of mono images, with the original colour files, that were taken specifically with the final image as a B&W in mind -



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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Picture of the Week:The Streets of Pompeii


A shot from the archive from a visit to Pompeii in 2007.  A truly awe inspiring place and it's almost as if you have stepped back in time. The pictures on the walls, the shop counters, the mosaic floors, all are still visible and just as they were when they were buried under lava and ash in 79AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted.    This shot shows some of the stones used to line the streets and you can see the grooves that were left by the cart wheels that ran up and down this road 2000 years ago. In the background you can see Mount Vesuvius.

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Monday, 5 December 2011

North Lincolnshire Coast - Part II

Confession time now.  I've lived in Lincolnshire since moving here from the North of Scotland in 1990 and I have to admit that, photographically, I find the county very uninspiring.  I like mountains,lochs and dramatic bays nestling amongst the cliffs.  Lincolnshire has none of these things; it is flat and the landscape seems to go on forever.


In my quest to stop putting areas into photographic pigeon holes, we decided to visit the Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes nature reserve on our way back from photographing the seals at Donna Nook.  Saltfleetby is another Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve and covers a total of 1377 acres. 


This important reserve contains tidal sand and mudflats, salt and freshwater marshes and sand dunes. On the foreshore, accreting mud and silt flats and saltmarsh in the north give way to a narrower sandy beach at the southern end. 


We decided to head out and see what we could see.  It was very flat but there was an abundance of low lying vegetation and a small lake that formed a focal point for the first picture taking opportunity.


We then headed to the beach and was faced with a wide area of sand and mudflats.  Two pieces of driftwood provided the second picture stop and mono pictures were the preferred media for the final images from this flat, desolate but strangely beautiful place.  A flight of Bewick Swans had the camera lens pointing skywards as they flew directly overhead and into the setting sun to the west.




We headed off and stopped as the sun started to set behind one of the many on shore wind farms that dot the Lincolnshire coast.  


A great day for photography.  North Lincolnshire still isn't my favourite place in the world for photography, but it wont be another 20 years before I visit again.  


The next trip will be back to the Isle of Mull on the 26th December until 2nd January.  That is the one place in the world I don't have any problem getting photographic inspiration!


CLICK HERE to visit the LWT website page on Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe reserve



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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Picture of the Week: Misty Start

An early start in Cape Town and a shot taken across the bay with the mist still on the water and the hills beyond.



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Monday, 28 November 2011

Photographing the Seals at Donna Nook, North Lincolnshire

In February I wrote about not ignoring opportunities on your own doorstep and while the North Lincolnshire coast can't really be classed as the doorstep to Grantham (75 miles / 120km) it is a part of the same county I've lived in for 21 years that I've never photographed before.




I had the opportunity to visit the Grey Seal colony at Donna Nook (Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust) near Louth and along with John Rourke (http://www.johnrourke.net/) set off from Grantham at 7am.  Following the Sat/Nav north we arrived in the well marked car park next to the beach, which only had 12 cars parked up, but that didn't last long.




Suited and booted against the elements we set off and were amazed to find that just beyond the car park was a fenced off public viewing area and in front of this were seals of all shapes and sizes as far as the eye could see.  There are over 2000 seals, including over 800 seal pups, on the beach.   




A mother and pup were just beyond the fence, and we'd walked less than 200 metres from the car park.  80-200mm f2.8 lens fitted and images of mother and baby duly taken, along with a bull that decided to defend its territory from another younger male that had strayed into its domain.  The first thing that struck me was the speed the bulls could actually move and I was actually glad we couldn't stray onto the beach area.


A Bull Common Grey Seal.  They could move surprisingly fast when defending their territory
A little further along there was a young pup lying close to the fence line and we decided to see if we could get some wide angle shots without getting too close.  I placed the camera, fitted with a 10-20mm f3.5/f4.5 lens (set at 10mm) on the ground between the inner and outer fence and used the live view to set the framing.  I made sure the camera lens didn't go beyond the inner fence and I kept back beyond the outer fence with just my right hand on the camera.  One of things we had to careful of not getting too close to the pups because human smell on the pup might mean the mother rejecting it and the pup would then die. 


Seal Pup - this was the picture of the week last Thursday but I am very pleased with this image and have used it again


The seal pup was curious and I was able to shoot five frames, with the best one being cropped slightly to remove the fence that was showing in the final image.  All in all the best picture of the day.




We moved along the fenced area taking shots on the long telephoto lenses of the interaction of the mother and pups, the 'face-offs' between mothers as they defended their pups and fights that broke out between various young bulls and dominant males.



A dominant male chasing off a young bull trying to move into its territory
After 2-hours we moved back along the fence line towards the car park and we noticed that a lot move people had arrived and it was becoming quite crowded along the beach.  We decided to head off to another area of the Lincolnshire coastline (more on that next week) but not before visiting the wardens hut in the dunes to make a donation to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, to help in the great work they do here and other parts of Lincolnshire.  


For more information visit www.lincstrust.org.uk


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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Picture of the Week - Grey Seal Pup

This is a wild Grey Seal pup, taken today at the Donna Nook seal colony on the North Lincolnshire coast.





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Monday, 21 November 2011

Water, Water Everywhere

What is it about water that attracts photographers?  Whether it is streams, rivers, lakes or the sea, water features a lot in my images.  Is it a very British thing as we are essentially islanders and are never far from water or is this the same for photographers the world over?


I love to feature shorelines and running water as the major part of my pictures whenever I can and here are a few examples -


Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy
Loch Tulla, Rannoch Moor

Ashness Bridge, Lake District
Tobermory Harbour, Isle of Mull



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