Sometimes it’s just fun to see where things can go with a photograph. This is one of my most sucessful images turned into a jigsaw then blown apart using the 3D tools available within Photoshop to reveal the gem of the photograph, within a globe, and with a photograph of the Milky Way I took behind. I had to photograph my own hand and then isolate it to create the illusion of the hand holding the globe. Why, well why not? For those curious, this is the engine house used in the opening titles to Poldark.
Perhaps not the most seasonal of images for many but the reality of the weather at time in the UK now is for rather warm, often wet, conditions so I’ve avoided posting a snowy picture from Iceland and instead, decided to post this picture, taken at Priest’s Cove in Cornwall very close to Lands End, the most south-westerly point in the UK, a few days ago. It looks like Christmas Day is set to reach a record high, temperature wise this year so perhaps the Christmas Card industry, at least in the UK will have to start to re-thinking their snowy Christmas cards.
I’d like to wish all the followers of my blog a Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (as I understand the two celebrations coincide this year) and to season’s greetings, happy holidays to everyone else, however and whatever you celebrate.
It’s been a turbulent year on so many levels around the world so lets hope for better in 2017. That will certainly be my Christmas wish.
Catch up in the New Year. All the very best. Adrian :-)
I was informed today of another two book covers I can add to my name. One of the books is La Tour de Malvent by Gilbert Bordes. The cover can be seen below. This cover is taken from a photograph I took of Roche Rock (A print of which hangs in my hall) taken a mile from my then home in Cornwall. This hermitage and chapel dates back to the 12th century and was used as a location in the Hollywood Film, Omen III – The Final Conflict. It’s an interesting place to visit and has a lot of history and folklore surrounding it. Having been there before first light for a dawn shoot, I can testify it’s not somewhere you really want to visit, in the dark, on your own. The imagination really does start to do overtime. :-)
The other, Ildarnet by S. K. Tremayne is to be published in Denmark and I do not have a copy of that cover yet. However, it is the same image that was used for my first ever book cover. The photograph, one of my favourites of all time, I’ve included below. This picture has been incredibly good to me. Regular followers of my blog will have seen it quite a few times now. This was one of the first pictures I took when I picked up a digital camera for the first time, just under four years ago.
The picture happened. It was a cold, grey, miserable day in December and for those of you who know Cornwall, you’ll know just how miserable that can be. However, I’d ordered myself a Christmas present from Amazon. I had my shiny new Nikon D7000 and I was going to get out there and take pictures regardless of the weather..
As it turned out, I was in the right place at the right time. The conditions, that on the face of it were not particularly promising, proved to be perfect. As I was setting up my tripod on the sand, a shaft of sunlight broke through the heavy cloud, hit the engine house and I had my picture. I’ve been chasing such conditions ever since. This is why it’s so important to just get out there and take pictures. The more pictures you take the better. You just never know when you’re going to be in the right place at the right time to capture that special image.
If you’re considering joining an agency to make your pictures available for things like book covers, check the small print. Make sure that you know what you’re signing up for and what rights you might be signing away.
I have just returned from a week of much needed R&R staying in a lovely barn conversion just outside Bude in North Cornwall with my good friends Poppy and AJ. Poppy is now blogging again with a shiny new photography and art blog so if you haven’t checked it out yet, follow this link.
The north Cornish and Devon coast is rugged, the surf fantastic and as ever for me, a pleasure to visit. One particular feature of Bude is that it has a sea pool. The pools were constructed in the 20’s and 30’s for people to be able to enjoy a swim in the sea, without having to swim in the sea. A safe environment without the waves and treacherous currents so much a feature of many Cornish beaches and coves. These pools cropped up all over the country but few now remain. The Bude Sea Pool has been restored with donations and fundraising and for both Poppy and myself, a sure fire subject for a photograph or two. The pool is replenished with fresh sea water at every high tide and it was high tide that was bound to elicit the best pictures.
With spring tides in the offing and occuring very accommodatingly at around 10 in the morning, on one of the few sunnier days, we were there, tripods at the ready. Surfers often use the pool to launch themselves into the water, timing the moment with great precision. I was able to capture one such surfer, contemplating and timing the waves. This picture forms part of the series below. I hope you enjoy them.. :-)
My blogging birthday is coming up so I’ll save my round-up of the year until then. For now I’d just like to wish all those who follow my blog, comment visit and who make my blog what it is, a very happy, prosperous new year.
I’m ending the year on a bit of a high as I made National Geographic Photo of the day on the last day of the year, couldn’t be better than that really. You can see my photo on the National Geograhpic website here.
It’s a photo that will be familiar to some of you, Iceland has been good to me this year. I posted the picture on my National Geographic ‘Your Shot’ page and thought no more of it. It generated quite a bit of interest however, was favourited by a couple of NG’s editors and chosen for the National Geographic Daily Dozen. A few weeks later, I received an email from one of the Editors asking me to write a bit more about the photograph as they’d like to make the photograph ‘Photograph of the Day’ on the last day of the year. Here it is again..
The following photograph was taken a couple of days ago at Tewkesbury Mill. The flooding in certain parts of the country in the last few weeks has been horrendous and my heart goes out to all those who’ve suffered loss. It can’t be denied that this temporary ‘water world’, in parts, can be very beautiful though..
If you want a map with lots of detail, great if you enjoy hiking, cycling or just enjoy a nice gentle stroll, the map of choice in the UK is Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (OS) is the national mapping agency for Great Britain and is one of the world’s largest producers of maps. Since the first of April 2015 it has operated as Ordnance Survey Ltd, a government-owned company that is 100% publicly owned.
The agency’s name indicates its original military purpose, mapping Scotland in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. There was also a more general and nationwide need for maps in light of the potential threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, reflected in the inclusion of the War Department’s broad arrow in the agency’s logo up until 2015.
Ordnance Survey mapping is usually classified as either “large-scale” (in other words, more detailed) or “small-scale”. The Survey’s large-scale mapping comprises maps at six inches to the mile or more (1:10,560, superseded by 1:10,000 in the 1950s) and was available as sheets until the 1980s, when it was digitised. Small-scale mapping comprises maps at less than six inches to the mile, such as the popular one inch to the mile “leisure” maps and their metric successors. These are still available in traditional sheet form.
This year Ordnance Survey decided to update their cover photos and I’m really pleased to say that one of my photographs will now adorn Map 204, Truro and Falmouth, part of the very popular 1:50,000 Landranger series. The picture was taken of Fowey from across the Fowey River on a footpath known as Hall Walk. You take the Bodinnick Ferry from Fowey and a little way up the road, the foot path begins on your right.
I’ve done a bit of cut and pasting to show how the map will look (roughly). The photograph was taken on one of the most glorious June Mornings I can remember. It was just a perfect day and to have that day immortalised (well nearly) on the cover of a map covering my area of Cornwall, that makes me happy. This is a walk that I couldn’t manage today so it’s extra special and it’ll be very nice keepsake to have. The new maps will be available from February next year. I hope many visitors to the area will enjoy days similar to that one, although it has to be said, over the last few years these days, weather wise have been rare.. :-)
It feels like an age since I posted some pictures from Cornwall so here are some pictures I took last evening. As the sun started to go down, it really looked promising so I suggested to Poppy of www.poppytump.wordpress.com (who is visiting at the moment) that we go over to Constantine Bay to watch the sunset. We were not disappointed!
We were not the only ones to head to Constantine Bay. The beach was lined with people just watching and taking pictures with just about every device capable of taking a picture imaginable. This person was happy just to sit on the fence and watch however..35mm f/11 1/6 sec. ISO-100
Day 5 came around very quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever posted every day like this. Quite a challenge in itself. I’d like to just thank Sue J from Words Visual once again for inviting me to join in. It’s been great, I’ve enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it. I think as photographers we’re constantly learning and hopefully evolving and this challenge, although I was already exploring black and white film, has made me really stop and think about how we approach black and white as a distinct medium.
I’ve wanted to present a diverse range of images. On sunday, I posted a high key photograph of daffodils. Today I’m posting a low key photograph of Edward, a good friend who’s been with me a long time..
On my final day I’m going to invite Otto Von Munchow to take up the challenge. Otto writes a great deal about the art of photography, the creative process and how we should challenge ourselves in order to grow as photographers. Like me, I know Otto generally doesn’t get involved in these challenges and I also know that he’s a very busy man. However, we have talked about my interest in vintage cameras and film photography so although I don’t expect Otto to take up the 5 day challenge (although it’d be great if he did) I’d like to challenge him to dig out that darkroom stuff, buy the Rolleiflex he’s wanted for a long time, and to start taking pictures the old way again. I know that it’s doing my photography the world of good and bringing a nice breath of fresh air into the whole creative process.
It’s day four of the five day black and white challenge that Sue J kindly invited me to take up. I don’t usually get involved in these kinds of challenges but this one seemed very timely given I’ve been exploring black and white film. My first two images, came from my film cameras and were planned black and white photographs. Yesterday’s photo was a digital conversion from a colour photograph as is this picture. The difference with this one is that with grey skies, ocean and rocks, the image was very monochromatic to start with, the conversion wasn’t a huge leap. This is a double, long, exposure, accentuating I think, the dynamic nature of wind and tide. The picture was taken on the beach at Constantine Bay here in Cornwall. Something a little different. Click on the picture for a larger and sharper view, it does make a difference.. :-)
Today I’d like to invite Mike to take up the challenge. Mike frequently treats us to some superb black and white photography on his blog Mike’s Look at Life. I’m hoping he’ll share some more over the next five days but only if time allows of course..
I’m happy to say that Angi has taken up the challenge and you can see her black and white photos on her blog, Moments in Time
For day 3 of the 5 day black and white challenge, I’ve gone back to my roots as it were. I guess I’m best known for my landscape photography work so I suppose it’s fitting that I post a few black and white landscape photographs but this presented me with a problem because for the most part, I’m not a fan of black and white landscape photography. I love colour. Why hide so much of what makes our planet so beautiful by taking away the colour?
I was very much of the same opinion when it came to photographing flowers in monochrome but yesterday’s photograph demonstrated that sometimes, by taking away the colour, we are forced to look beyond to shape, form, textures, tone and another layer of beauty is revealed. The same must be true of black and white landscape photographs.
I didn’t have the chance to get out with the film camera today and put this knowledge into practice so I’ve had a look in the archives and I’ve found a few pictures where I think that absence of colour, rather than taking something away from the photograph, brings something new to it.
Today I’m going to invite John Todaro to take up the 5 day black and white photography challenge. John’s photographs from Long Island, New York are incredibly beautiful and if you haven’t visited John’s blog, I heartily recommend it. There is of course no obligation to take up the challenge, it’s a bit of fun if time allows.
I’m grateful to Sue J of Words Visual who yesterday invited me to join in the 5 day black and white challenge. As I’m currently exploring black and white film photography using vintage cameras and developing my own black and white negatives, I was happy to take up the challenge and join in.
As some of you may remember, this little camera was a gift from a very good friend and fellow blogger Angi (Moments in Time). Angi came to Cornwall to take part in one of my workshops last year. The camera was a lovely gift and was the catalyst for my new-found interest in black and white film photography. We visited Roche Rock one afternoon as part of the workshop and I’ve been wanting to get back to take some pictures using the Agfa Billy ever since. The challenge was the perfect opportunity. This is a simple camera, the point and shoot of its day. It’s over 80 years old, produces a huge medium format negative and the quality from the little 3 element lens is amazing, I think you’ll agree..
F/11 1/125 sec. ASA/ISO 50
This negative was developed in Ilford ID11 stock 1+3 at 20°C for 15 minutes.
It is the nature of these challenges that we pass it on so today I’m going to invite Angi to take up the challenge but of course there is no pressure to take part, only if time allows..
Just before Christmas I visited the Jubilee Pool in Penzance and was really taken with the beautiful Art Deco design of the pool. I was aware that funding had been found to restore the pool to its former glory following the devastating storms at the beginning of last year. The pool was opened in 1935 to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V. Today, it is one of the few remaining 1930s lidos in the entire country.
I was very interested in the future of the pool so I contacted the Mayor of Penzance and asked if I might be given access to take pictures of the pool, as it is now, before the restoration work begins.
I was put in touch with a chap called James Hardy, Community Network Coordinator, who is overseeing and coordinating the work for Cornwall Council. I told James what I wanted to do, to capture the pool as it is now and to follow the work as it progresses over the next 12 months or so. The plan is that the pool will re-open in May 2016.
My request was discussed at a meeting two weeks ago with the contractors who are carrying out the work and the Friends of the Jubilee Pool who are busy raising money to match funding from central government. I’m really pleased to say that I have been taken on as photographer for the entire project and I will be now be a regular visitor to the pool, cataloguing the work as it proceeds.
I visited the pool on Monday and met Ashley Snell, a geo-technical engineer, who is currently surveying the pool. During the storms of last winter that I mentioned earlier, the force of the sea was such that the pool was lifted and moved from its anchorage on the bedrock beneath. It’s Ashley’s job to now carry out a survey to assess the full extent of the damage and to gather information on the rock the pool sits on. On Monday, drilling equipment was craned in and the process of drilling bore holes at different points around the pool has begun.
Monday was a beautiful day with bright sunshine presenting a few challenges photographically, but also opportunities. I’ve a lot of pictures to go through and will be posting a gallery of those images soon but in the meantime, here are a few of the images I’ve processed so far. In the bright sunshine, looking at the pool, one could be forgiven for thinking just a lick of paint here and there would put things right. However, the reality can be seen in the third photograph, the pool has buckled and twisted under the force of the sea, almost as if an earthquake had struck..
My thoughts and deepest sympathy go to the families of those who lost their lives in the latest terrorist atrocity in Paris. As mature, liberal democracies in the West, we stand, for the most part, for freedom and tolerance. People may face discrimination but they do not live in fear because of what they believe, what they might say, or who they are. If we lose sight of this tolerance, the terrorists win. I don’t know the answers, I just try to focus on the beauty I find all around me and wonder why…
Happy Birthday Cornwall Photographic
I used a title very similar to the title of this blog 3 years ago today when I wrote my first ever blog post. I did so at the suggestion and encouragement of a good friend and fellow blogger Marina. As it’s turned out, my hopes expressed in that first post have been realised. I have now written 377 posts and counting. I never imagined for one moment when I started this blog that anyone would actually look at it, but on one day alone last year I had 1,481 views, over 105,000 views in total now.
I bought myself a DSLR camera for Christmas 2012, the blog came along in the new year as a place I could post the pictures I had started to take. Up until this point, I’d taken nothing but snaps at family gatherings and on annual holidays with a basic point and shoot. I’d been interested in photography in my early teens. My parents gave me a Zenit SLR. No auto settings of course and I learned the principles of exposure using a hand-held light meter. But, my initial interest in photography gave way to bikes and cars and the usual stuff. Determined to find something I could do despite my illness, I’d decided to take up photography again, reigniting that early interest. Both the photography and the blog have been a godsend.
I knew that I was embarking on a journey with my new DSLR hence the blog’s title. I didn’t realise at that time however, what an amazing journey it would be.
I’ve posted a lot of pictures in the last three years. Some I’m very proud of, more than a few not so much to say the least but good, bad or indifferent, they are all an important part of the story and the journey.
This last year has been incredible. From my first tentative steps with a DSLR three years ago, I’ve been shortlisted in a couple of major international photography competitions. I became a Licentiate and then an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. I’ve been published in magazines, the latest being the February edition of Classic Boat, my images have been used in national and global advertising campaigns and one of my photographs has just been selected to join 99 others (chosen from more than 3.500 entries) to tour the country in a Royal Photographic Society Exhibition this year. I’m really not sure any of this would have happened without the support and encouragement of the WordPress blogging community. Having somewhere I could share what I was trying to do and to get such positive feedback, I have no doubt is what’s kept me moving forward.
I’ve made some very good friends here in the last three years and hope to make many more in the coming years. I would like to thank everyone who has looked at, followed and commented on my blog. This is, as I’ve said, a wonderful community of supportive, encouraging people. I’m now looking forward to many more posts as the journey continues..
These are a few of my favourite photographs from the past 3 years, some because I like the pictures, others for their associations. This is the beauty of photography, we capture a moment and we have it to hold for ever..
Click on any of the images for a sharper, clearer view. This will open a slide show :-)
The Jubilee Pool, pictured below, was opened in 1935 to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V. Today, it is one of the few remaining 1930s lidos in the entire country. Measuring 100 x 73 metres on its longest axes, the Jubilee Pool is Britain’s largest surviving open air lido. However, the severe storms in February this year caused major structural damage to the pool and it didn’t open for the 2014 season.
Looking at the pool under leaden December skies, it’s clear the lido is in need of some fairly major maintenance all round. The good news is that Penzance Town Council and the Friend’s of Jubilee Pool, jointly bid for £2 million government funding this year and the bid was successful. I’m not sure when work is due to begin but I’m so glad that this wonderful Art Deco pool with its sweeping curves will survive. It was definitely built for hardier souls than me however. It’d have to be an exceptionally warm day for me to venture into a lido like this one.
The pool is 80 next year and this funding ensures it’s going to be a very good year for the Jubilee pool. I hope it’s an equally good new year for you. Happy New Year! :-)
Happy New Year!
This photograph was taken in Mousehole a few days ago. Each year the people of this tiny fishing village in the west of Cornwall decorate the harbour to raise money for charity. Mulled wine was on offer along with mince pies and the opportunity to drop some coins in a bucket. When I visited, a group of carol singers were doing their best despite the weather. It was raining, the wind was howling but the atmosphere in the village was a festive and happy one.
The blurred object in the bottom right of the picture is a whale spouting, outlined in lights, but the wind and fairly loose tethering were conspiring against a decent capture over a long exposure.
I’d like to thank everyone who has followed, commented and supported this blog over the last year. It’s been a pretty amazing 12 months for me and it wouldn’t have been the same without your company. Thanks for being there.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very happy new year.. See you in 2015! :-)
Trebarwith Strand sits on the north coast of Cornwall not far from Tintagel. The rock structures are a superb subject for photographers. At high tide, the waves start washing up two channels created by the action of the waves while a seam of much harder rock forms a spine down the middle. The result makes for some interesting pictures and on more than one occasion, including this one, wet feet. Click on the image for a clearer sharper view.. ;-)
This picture was taken using the Lee Big Stopper filter.
Lerryn is a beautiful little village that sits on the River Lerryn, a tributary of the River Fowey. I was passing through one morning having been up all night photographing the Milky Way. I was tired but as I crossed the little bridge and saw the misty calm on the river, I had to turn around and get my camera set up once more. Click on the image for a clearer sharper view.. :-)
There’s nothing quite like the light at dawn as the sun peeps over the horizon. That lovely soft glow can’t be beaten and is the result of the angle of the sun being so low. This is why the light in the autumn is so much softer, the sun is much lower in the sky. Anyway, here’s St Michael’s Mount, just off the coast of Cornwall at Marazion.
You can just see the causeway on the left, outlined in white water. Another half an hour and it’d have been possible to walk across to the castle. I hope you enjoy the picture as much as I enjoyed taking it. Click on the image for a clearer sharper view..
I posted a picture of a copse on top of a hill a couple of weeks back. This copse sits right on the border between Devon and Cornwall on the main arterial route into the county, the A30.
It’s a very distinctive landmark. Quite a few people commented that when they see the copse, they know they’re nearly home. For others it was a sign that their holiday starts here.
I was up early this morning. Just as it was getting easier to make first light shoots, the clocks went back an hour for daylight saving time. This doesn’t save any daylight of course, daylight hours remain the same, it just means landscape photographers have to get up really, really early again.. ;-)
I wanted to photograph the copse again but I also wanted to try to capture this sense of arriving and leaving. I decided dawn would be a good time to do this as I’d be able to capture the light trails from cars leaving and arriving, capturing a sense of movement below the copse that stands silently, immobile, marking the transition.
Click on the image for a clearer sharper view. :)
There was a lot of water on the road hence the spray so I will be re-shooting this on a dry day. On a technical note, you have a very narrow window of opportunity when taking a shot like this. It needs to be
a) light enough that your background is properly exposed and not too grainy.
b) dark enough that the cars still have their lights on and
c) dark enough to allow for a long enough exposure to create decent light trails and ensure the vehicles themselves don’t show up in the photo.
It worked out to around 10 minutes this morning in which to get it right. My first exposure was at 6.15 and lasted nearly 7 minutes. I guess I must have set that exposure off at 6.08. My second exposure, this one, was taken at 6.21 and was just one and a half minutes. All other settings were constant. That’s how quickly the light changes. By 6.30, the light trails were weak, the vehicles were showing up in the picture as a blur. The exposure time was down to just 8 seconds. I could of course have used a filter at this point to extend the exposure time again but cars were starting to turn off their lights. I don’t think I’d have got the shot I wanted.
I was asked by Leanne Cole to write an article for her excellent and very successful blog Leanne Cole Photography on the subject of neutral density and graduated neutral density filters and how I use them in my landscape photography. This is what I came up with. Most of the photographs you’ve seen before but they provide some good examples..
There are a few essentials that no landscape photographer should be without. There’s the camera of course and almost as importantly, there’s the tripod. Third on the list of landscape photography essentials is a set of Graduated Neutral Density Filters. Neutral Density filters are also useful although not essential so I’ll be mainly talking about ND Grads in this article suffice to say, neutral density and graduated neutral density filters are your camera’s equivalent of a pair of sunglasses. They cut down the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor and whenever you cut down the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor, whether it’s by stopping down the aperture or using a filter, exposure time is affected.
32mm f/22 4 sec ISO-100
Neutral density filters cover the whole of your lens and therefore cut down the light hitting the whole of the sensor. These are useful in extending exposure times allowing you to achieve that lovely silky water effect in rivers and waterfalls. These come in a variety of strengths right up to the now very popular 10 stop Neutral Density Filters. These allow just a tiny fraction of available light to enter the camera allowing you extend exposure times significantly allowing you flatten and smooth the ocean or achieve the silky, smoky water effect even in bright sunshine. These 10 stop filters are so dark it’s not possible to see through them so it’s necessary to compose your shot and focus before attaching the filter. Ten stop filters are often used by architectural photographers to simply make people disappear from busy buildings. All the time people are moving, they will not show up in a long exposure. There is a lot more I could say about using filters like the Lee Big Stopper but I’ll perhaps save that for another article and get back to my favourite filters of all, the Graduated Neutral Density Filter or ND Grad.
24mm f/9 1/500 sec. ISO-100
ND Grads are used to balance exposures. The sunglass effect is graduated such that skies are darkened leaving foregrounds unaffected. One sure fire thing that will let your photographs down from a technical standpoint is blown highlights and lost detail in shadows. These are very basic faults and the easiest ways to avoid them is to pack a set of ND Grads. If you have a bright sky and darker foreground, some of it in shadow, without filters you have two options, expose for the sky and you’re going to lose details in shadows; expose for the foreground and there is a good chance you are going to blow out the highlights in the sky. Strictly speaking you have a third option and that is to use exposure compensation and bracket a series of shots but I’ll get to that.
Once highlights are blown there is nothing in post processing that will allow you to bring them back. Conversely, modern sensors are very good at garnering every ounce of detail from any scene you are shooting but if your shadows are just too dark, attempts to recover them in post will give you blotchy unattractive results. You can’t make detail appear that just isn’t there and believe me I’ve tried. Attempts to do so look very messy indeed.
ND filters normally come in sets of 3. The filters are labelled differently depending on manufacturer but a set will usually allow for a 1, 2 or 3 stop exposure compensation. The table below relates to both ND and ND graduated filters.
It’s important to note I think at this point that it’s worth spending a few pounds on these filters and avoiding the cheaper options you see on websites like Amazon. You can easily find a set of ND Grads for under a tenner if you look but anything you put in front of your lens will degrade your image. Why spend hundreds of pounds on a decent lens and then put a cheap piece of glass or worse, plastic, in front of it. These filters will last a lifetime if treated well so it’s worth saving a little before taking the plunge and buying a set.
50mm f/9 1/100 sec. ISO-100
I use Lee filters because I think they are arguably the best and I have no affiliation with Lee. Hitech filters are right up there however and I’m hoping to put that to the test. Both of these companies offer 100mm filters with holder systems. When using my Nikkor 14-24mm lens, I use the Lee Super Wide system and 150mm filters. The bigger sizes really come into their own if you’re using wide angle lenses. Cokin Z-Pro filters are also 100mm I believe but I have no experience or knowledge of those. The first set of filters I had were of the smaller Cokin variety and I used to have to crop my wide angled shots rather defeating the object This was because the edge of the filters were picked up by my Nikkor 24–70mm lens at 24mm but if you’re on a budget, these are an ideal choice, certainly to get you started.
Another point to be made in favour of spending a few pounds or dollars is that Neutral Density Filters and ND Grads are so called because they have a neutral impact on the colour of your images, or at least they are supposed to. Not all ND and ND grad filters are created equally. Colour cast can be a real issue with cheaper filters and even with the more expensive ones when you get up to 10 stops. It can be corrected, using colour balance tools, but it’s best to try and keep things truly neutral from the start.
24mm 1/125 sec ISO-100
For most landscape shots, I like to keep my aperture constant at f/11 for maximum depth of field. You need to choose the right ND Grad to get the right effect. The sky is naturally brighter than the ground so you want to keep it that way. To achieve the most natural looking result you need to choose the right ND Grad to correct the exposure difference to within 1 stop.
If I point my camera at the sky, not the sun, and take a light reading and my light meter suggests a shutter speed of 1/200sec and I then point my camera at the foreground and take another light meter reading and my light meter suggests that to properly expose the foreground I need a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. This would be two stops and I would choose my 1 stop filter which would be my 0.3.
I would of course have the option of keeping my shutter speed the same at 1/200 sec. and opening the aperture from f/11 to f/9… This would still be two stops and I would still need my .03 filter to even the exposure.
Likewise, if my light meter suggested that to properly expose the sky at f/11, I would need a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. and to properly expose the foreground I would need a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. this would equate to one stop. I would therefore use my 1 stop .03 filter to darken the sky enough for me to shoot at f/11 and 1/125 sec. This would ensure I wouldn’t lose any details in the shadows and highlights wouldn’t be blown out in the sky. A balanced exposure in other words.
36mm f/11 1/160 sec. ISO-100
ND Graduated filters, as well as coming in different strengths as it were, they also come in hard and soft varieties. The hard and soft relates to the graduation between the darker glass and the lighter. Soft filters have a much more gradual division between the two halves. My recommendation would be to buy a set of hard ND Grads. It may be tempting to go for soft thinking this will allow for easier blending of the filter effect. The problem with soft grads is that often times you end up pushing the filter so far down the filter holder it’s nearly out the other side to darken a bright horizon. Having darkened the sky above the horizon sufficiently, because you’ve pushed the filter in so far, you end up with the area below the horizon being adversely affected by the filter.
The graduation on a hard ND Grad is not as stark as it at first might appear. You’re not going to see a hard line across your horizon unless of course, you set it too high but this is less likely because the hard edge also makes it much easier to set the filter in the right place. It’s not always easy to see through the lens, especially with the 0.3 filter, exactly where you need to set the filter. It soon becomes evident when you try and process the picture if you’ve set it in the wrong place however. A dark smudge right across your landscape does not look good. A dark sky with a bright strip just above the horizon doesn’t look good either but you’ll soon get the hang of setting the filter in the right place.
24mm f/11 1/125 sec. ISO-100
I had hoped to show some ‘with filter’ and ‘without filter’ photos to demonstrate just how effective these filters are in properly balancing an exposure but we have had thick fog in Cornwall for the last five days and with no let-up in sight, I’ve run up against my deadline for this article but please, take my word for it; with a set of these filters in your kit bag, you’ll be able to tackle shots you just might not be able to manage otherwise without under or over exposing one part of the picture or other.
This is where I should come back to bracketing as another way to balance awkward exposures. Bracketing can be very effective and when weather conditions make the use of filters awkward, I use this technique myself. But, bracketing is going to give you a whole lot of work to do in post that you just won’t have to do if you use filters. You can use programs like Photomatrix to make light work of merging bracketed shots but in my experience, this is difficult to do without getting an HDR like effect, even when using the ‘exposure blending’ rather than the ‘HDR’ option within Photomatrix. Filters are the best, and in terms of workflow, by far the most efficient option in my opinion.
15mm f/22 1.6 sec. ISO-100
As well as balancing exposures, you can also use a darker ND Grad than your light meter suggests for creative effect. I’ve peppered this article with photos I’ve taken where the use of a filter was essential in order to get a proper exposure and others where I’ve used a darker filter than was necessary to create drama or to otherwise enhance the sky.
With a decent set of filters and with these pointers in hand, the best advice I can give is to get out there, take photographs and experiment. For the added effort of a few minutes setting up, you’ll be amply rewarded, your landscape photographs will improve enormously and you’re going to look very professional to boot.
I think I’ve mentioned before that we had an incredible September weatherwise here in Cornwall and with the summer tourist season over and most children back in school, the beaches were deserted.
These two girls were certainly making the most of this unusual freedom. A whole beach on which to play with mum and dad always in view. The sort of day that lifetime memories are made of. Click on the image for a sharper, clearer view.. :-)
I found myself at Wheal Coats again this week. A severe gale was blowing making it very difficult to stand. It was the tail end of a hurricane I believe. With my tripod blowing over before I’d had chance to attach my camera you should get some idea of just how windy it was.
However, I did manage to take a couple of pictures. I will now ask the question often asked in photography blogs, black and white or colour? I’ve taken this shot before at 24mm. The black and white version won first in a Nikon photography competition so I am drawn to the black and white image but I’m also very drawn to the greens and blues in the colour version. I do like the way the wider angle lens has given this version of the picture a greater sense of space.
I guess I don’t have to choose, you don’t have to choose either, I hope you can enjoy both pictures but I would be interested in your opinion just the same. Click on the images for a clearer sharper view.. :-)
I’d just like to say thank you to Michelle from WordPress who contacted me last week to say that I am now, and I’m very proud to say this, a WordPress recommended photography blog. Since receiving this news, I’ve gained a lot of new followers so I’d like to welcome you all to Cornwall Photographic and hope that you enjoy my posts.
These photographs were taken at a smashing little beach called Porthcothnan on the north coast of Cornwall. Up until last winter, just around the cliff on the left, there was a huge rock that had a hole worn through it forming an arch, a bit like the one at Durdle Door in Dorset. One could get to it at low tide only. Sadly, it was smashed to pieces in the severe storms of last winter. Lets hope we don’t have a repeat of all that this winter. This rock arch was one of those features that I kept telling myself, I must check the tides and go down and take some pictures. I missed my chance and it’s now lost forever. Definitely a lesson to be learned in there somewhere. Click on the images for a sharper, clearer view.. :-)
I recently bought a Lumix LF1. It’s a super little camera for £150. I like the fact that it has a viewfinder so in sunny weather, I can still frame a shot and I like the fact that if fits in my shirt pocket. I like that it shoots RAW and I can have full manual control which with a little point and shoot, can make all the difference between getting a shot or not. These little cameras in my experience do tend to blow out skies when the conditions are a little dull as they were this afternoon so I took over.
The main reasons I bought this little camera though is that I can always have it on me and when I see a shot, out and about, it can be just about anywhere, I can press the shutter and if it’s a shot I like, as with this one, I can return with my D800 and tripod when the conditions are just right..
This shot won’t win any prizes, the quality isn’t quite there on full zoom but I’m really quite pleased with this and I’m really looking forward to returning. A bit more colour in those leaves and perhaps a sunset.. Hmm.. I like that idea.. :-)