Saturday, 31 January 2015

Using a Telephoto For Landscapes


'The best lens for landscapes is a wide angle', how many times has this advice been given?  I give it myself and on the whole I agree with this, but this is not a hard fact.  Any lens is good for landscapes and a medium to long telephoto lens is also very useful and I use my 55-200mm (80-300mm equivalent) on almost every photography trip. 

A telephoto lens isolates elements of the landscape and it also compresses the perspective, bringing items in the composition closer together.  For example in the shot at the top of this page of Barns Ness lighthouse, Bass Rock can be seen to the left of the lighthouse.  In this shot it looks like The Bass is just beyond the headland when in fact it is a few miles away out in the Firth of Forth.  

This 'stacking' of the different elements is highlighted when the light is slightly behind the subject as in the shot below of Lismore Lighthouse in the Sound of Mull. The lighthouse is dark, the shoreline in the middle distance is lighter and the hills on the Isle of Mull is lighter still.  The three elements are miles apart but in this image taken on a Nikon D90 and Sigma 50-500mm (at the 500mm end of the zoom) compresses the perspective.


Some more examples of using a telephoto for landscape images are below and I always have my 56mm and 55-200mm lenses available when out shooting.




All images taken on a Fujinon 55-200mm f3.5/4.8 with the exception of Lismore Lighthouse


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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

VIDEO: Beautiful East Lothian



2014 was the first full year we have lived and worked in East Lothian and I have put together a video slide show with some the photographic highlights from this part of Scotland.  Some of the images, like this shot of the Dunbar Lifeboat, are previously unpublished.

The video lasts 7 minutes and I have used three tracks featuring guitar solos by artists Jason Shaw and Gillicuddy which area available to download on the Free Music Archive website.

Here is the video and we hope you enjoy this photographic tour of East Lothian.  

Don't forget you can book a Photography Workshop or Tour in East Lothian with MacLean Photographic HERE




Monday, 26 January 2015

Any Old Iron


A couple of weeks ago I posted some pictures of some sea glass that we had picked up on some of our beach combing trips on the beaches near to our home in Dunbar.  There are plenty of other interesting things that we have found - shells, driftwood and some old iron items that have come from boats or from the many World War II installations that are on this coast.

During the Second World War the threat of invasion was felt all around the UK, including the North Sea coast of Scotland.  With the naval base at Rosyth up the coast near Edinburgh, installations were built all along the East Lothian and Fife coasts, many of which are still visible today.  

These macro photographs are of a piece of old iron that is probably the top of a metal post that was used to hold rolls of barbed wire.  It is corroded pretty badly but this makes it more interesting to photograph, which I did using the Fuji X-T1 and the XF60mm f2.4 macro.   Lighting was provided by the Nissin i40 flash on a remote lead so I place the direction of the flash where I wanted it.

The results are some interesting close ups of a old scrap of iron.




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Sunday, 25 January 2015

One Lens Mono Challenge on Winterfield Beach


A walk at low tide had me heading down to the beach at Winterfield to get a shot of the Club House through the gap between the cliff and the short stack of rock.  This beach is only accessible at low tide as the sea comes right up to the base of the cliffs.

I decided to use one lens on the Fujifilm X-T1 and that choice was the superb Fujinon 14mm f2.8.  This wide angle lens has been getting a lot more use of late even though I have the 10-24mm f4 ultra wide zoom in the camera bag.  There is something quite special about this wide prime lens and I find  the 21mm equivalent field of view to be spot on for my landscape work.


A well as sweeping landscapes the 14mm is also good for getting down low and filling the frame with some foreground interest.  



The images were converted to mono in post processing but I took the picture with a black and white image in mind.  I prefer to see the images in colour in the viewfinder and convert the image in my brain rather than set the camera to black and white mode and the viewfinder being mono.


All images taken on the Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujinon XF14mm f2.8 R lens.  Images converted to black and white using NIK Silver Efex Pro2.

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

500K


On May 27 2014 I reported that this blog had received 250,000 views since it began in 2011.  Today on the 24 January 2015, just 242 days later, this blog has received and additional 250,000 views, making a total of half a million views since February 2011.  The average over the past 242 days is 1033 views per day. 
Total views 
2011  -  1,976
2012  -  22,050
2013  -  143,278
2014  -  305,490

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit, read the features and view the images that I choose to post. 

Please remember to visit the advertisers on these pages.  It doesn't cost you anything to click on an advert but we get a small payment every time you visit a website - thank you.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Curious Robin


On our last two trips into the Highlands of Scotland we have had some close encounters with Robins.  While taking pictures of Kilburn Castle this Robin came and sat on the fence next to the car obviously looking for a bite to eat. I was able to capture a few images on the X-Pro1 and the 55-200mm lens.

The Robins below were taken on the Fujifilm X-T1 and 60mm f2.4 while sitting next to Loch Achray in the Trossachs National Park.  The two Robins seemed completely immune to my presence as I sat and took shots on the short telephoto lens.







The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), is a small insectivorous passerine bird. Around 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 in) in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly. It is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa; it is sedentary in most of its range except the far north.


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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Glen Coe

Looking down Glen Coe towards The Three Sisters
The final destination on our Highland photo trip was the depths of Glen Coe.  We hadn't planned to stop in the Glen, instead we were heading back to Rannoch Moor, but the light hitting the Three Sisters as we traveled up the A82 between the steep sides of the mountains had us changing our plans quite rapidly.

The main problem we had was trying to find somewhere to park the car near where we wanted to be as the Glen was very busy with walkers, people sledging and, of course, other photographers.  We lucked in when we spotted a parking space near to a good spot. The view was back down the Glen towards The Three Sisters with some foreground interest provided by some snow covered boulders and an old stone bridge. 

The Three Sisters
Trying to find a suitable location to set up the tripod proved to be interesting as the snow was very deep, up to 24 inches / 60cm in places, which made walking very tiring. Skis or snow shoes were probably the order of the day.  After taking some shots of the boulders and the dramatic sky we headed further down the hill to the old stone bridge.

Firestorm on the ridge.  The sunlight behind the clouds provided a dramatic light display.
There are two stone bridge on the walkway through Glen Coe and we managed to get to the first one in the deep snow and there was no way I was trying to get to the second bridge.  The burn was not frozen over so I set about getting some images of the bridge and the water.





The underside of the bridge was covered in icicles, which were duly captured before getting one final wide shot of the scene before heading back to the car through the deep snow.



Driving the car a couple of miles further up Glen Coe we spotted another opportunity as the Glen opened up onto Rannoch Moor.  The sun by this time was fairly low in the sky and framed by Buachaille Etive Mor on the left and Buachaille Etive Beag on the right.  We headed down the track towards the River Coupall and took the opportunity to take a shot in the other direction of Beinn a Chrulaiste and an old ruined croft and wood in the foreground.


We followed the snow covered track down to a small burn that fed the river and with the reflections in the water of the fiery sky I decided this was going to be the shot of the day.  I waded into the burn and took a low level shot of the ice.  I was rewarded with this image, which I had posted on this blog on Sunday evening.


I then started to look for further opportunities and here are some of the shots I took as the sun set behind the mountains.




That was the final shot of the day and with the light gone we packed the car and headed home.

The X-T1 and X-Pro1 were not phased by the difficult wintery conditions and shot all day without missing a beat.  I did have to change two batteries because of the cold weather, having only got around 250 shots on a single charge.  However this was to be expected and I was carrying plenty of spares.

A great day and one we'll have to repeat in the near future.


The first location at the stone bridge and the view towards The Three Sisters 


The second location at the River Coupall

All images were taken on the X-T1 + 10-24mm f4 or 35mm f1.4 or the X-Pro1 + 55-200mm f3.5/4.8

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Loch Leven



After lunch in Ballachulish we headed east along Loch Leven towards Glencoe village before turning left onto the B863 to Kinlochleven.  

Kinlochleven sits at the mouth of the River Leven that flows into the loch of the same name and the B863 runs the length of the loch on both the south and north shores.

We spent around 30 minutes looking for a vantage point  to get a view down the loch towards the bridge at North Ballachulish but we couldn't find a good location.  So we headed back to the south side and set up on a small hill overlooking Loch Leven with a good view of the snow covered 742 metre Pap of Glencoe (Sgorr na Ciche) on the left and Beinn na Caillich, the 764 metre high peak on the right.

Beinn na Caillich
Pap of Glencoe (Sgorr na Ciche)
With the sun heading towards the horizon we packed up and headed into Glen Coe to capture the sunset that was looking very promising.  This will be the subject of the final blog from our first photo trip into the Highlands of Scotland in 2015.





All images taken on the X-T1 with a 10-24mm f4 lens or X-Pro1 with 55-200mm f3.5/f4.8
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Long Exposure Shots Before Dawn



While waiting for the sun to come up over the horizon last Sunday I did some long exposure images of the wintery scene on Rannoch Moor.

Lochan na h'Achlaise was frozen solid except for a patch where the flow of the river kept the loch from freezing over completely.  I had to tread carefully in the half light (I did take a torch) to make sure I was on land rather than on frozen loch - I didn't want to end up in the loch!


On that point I also made sure I was dressed for the conditions. The temperature was down to -4 degrees but factor in the wind and the temperature was more like -10 degrees Celsius!  Plenty of layers, with thermals, winter coat and proper walking boots.  You are standing around for a while during these long exposures and you will not want to stop for long if you are cold and miserable.

The first two images were taken on the X-T1 with the 14mm f2.8 lens fitted.  The shutter speed was 20 seconds for each shot.



The images above was taken on the X-T1 but this time fitted with the 35mm f1.4 lens using a shutter speed of 10 seconds.  

The shot below was taken using a Lee 10x ND Big stopper to give a 4 minute exposure just as the sun was starting to appear behind the clouds to the left of the frame.





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Glen Orchy and the Mooring at Connel



After leaving Rannoch Moor we headed south again on the A82 to Bridge of Orchy before turning right on the B8074 down Glen Orchy.  This single track road runs parallel with the River Orchy as it passes down the glen with steep mountain ridges on either side.  Lower down the woods cover the slopes but further up the trees give way to open mountain tops which were covered in snow.

The contrast between the dark green trees and the snow topped mountains made for some great patterns to photograph.








The River Orchy drops down through a series of rapids and waterfalls and we stopped a couple of times to get some images.  However, because the winter sun was is low in the sky at this time of year, the sunlight didn't reach the bottom of Glen Orchy so the light was a little flat. 





We also came across a herd of cows in a snowy field, some Highland cattle and some of another breed that I couldn't identify.







At the bottom of Glen Orchy the snow coverage thinned out as we rejoined the A85 and headed towards Connel.  We passed Loch Awe, with the ruins of Kilchurn Castle out on the waters edge.  The cloud cover meant that the light was still pretty flat so I took a couple of shots on the X-Pro1 and 55-200mm with a vow to return on another trip into the Highlands to get a better shot earlier or later in the day.



We drove into Connel and headed south to Oban for 1-mile to the mooring just off the main road.  By this time the sky had cleared and the flat calm sea and the snowy mountains in the distance was a great backdrop for the boats moored up and the reflections in the water.  




I also took the opportunity to capture another quick image on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mobile phone camera using the panoramic mode.



After this brief stop we headed north again, crossing the Connel Bridge on the A828 for a lunch stop at Ballachulish on the shores of Loch Leven.

Tomorrow's blog will be the short detour up to the top of Loch Leven.

All images taken on a Fujifilm X-T1 or Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the exception of the panoramic image, which was taken on the Samsung Galaxy S5.   The lenses used were the Fujifilm XF10-24mm f4 or XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8


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