Posts tagged “Countryside


I’ve just returned from a few days away staying in Anglesey in North Wales.  I was staying in a holiday cottage in a village with an unpronounceable name with my friend, photographer and fellow blogger Poppy and her BB, not to mention Lottie, a beautiful white German Shepherd.

I’d never visited this part of Wales before and it was a real pleasure.   We were very lucky with the weather and given the forecast was looking so good, we booked a trip to the top of Snowdon on the little train that runs from the station at Llanberis to the very top of the mountain.  Poppy stayed with Lottie while her BB and myself set off for the top.

Snowdon is the UK’s third highest peak at 1085m or 3560ft above sea level.  The mountain is quite unique of course in that the other two peaks that beat Snowdon in terms of height above sea level, Ben Nevis and Càrn Eige, require a great deal more effort to reach their respective summits.  These two peaks I should mention are in the Scottish Highlands of course.  As my hiking days are over sadly, being able to catch a train to the top is a very real bonus.

There are two services that run from Llanberis.  There’s the diesel service, the only one that had any tickets left, and the more romantic perhaps, steam service.  As the picture of the steam service below illustrates however, romanticism comes at a price and I was quite glad I was only able to get the diesel ticket.

Snowdonia Steam Train70mm f/11 1/640 sec. ISO-100

SpacerIn my experience, smoke aside, there’s an awful lot of soot in coal smoke.  Diesel although not great, is definitely the cleaner fuel.

Given the weather, I knew I wasn’t going to be taking fine art, moody, mountain landscape photographs on my way to the top.  I certainly wasn’t complaining however.  As the conductor pointed out, there have been very few clear days at the summit of Snowdon this year.  We were very lucky to be treated to the spectacular views in the photographs below..

Winding our way to the Summit

Snowdonia Train24mm f/8 1/400 sec. ISO-100

SpacerLooking North, taken from the train

Snowdonia I24mm f/8 1/500 sec. ISO-100

SpacerLooking north-west, you can see the coastline and the Irish Sea, Anglesey to the right

Snowdonia II24mm f/8 1/400 sec. ISO-100

SpacerLooking east, back down the line towards Llanberis

Snowdonia III24mm f/8 1/400 sec. ISO-100

SpacerLooking north-west again, taken from the train, to the right you can just see the rise in the land in the far distance.  This is the island of Anglesey

Snowdonia IV24mm f/8 1/400 sec. ISO-100

SpacerTaken from the summit looking south

Snowdonia V24mm f/8 1/400 sec. ISO-100

SpacerTaken from the summit once again, looking south-west.  The coastline is just visible to the right of the picture

Snowdonia VI24mm f/8 1/400 sec. ISO-100

SpacerAll pictures were taken with a Sony A7R and a Carl Zeiss 24-70mm lens.  Click on the images for a clearer, sharper view!

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Always carry a camera..

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.. :-)

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I’ve taken this picture before and I expect I’ll be taking it again.  It’s always different. This is what I woke up to this morning.  I love these misty late spring/early summer mornings.  When the day starts like this, it’s got to be a good day and it was.  I hope the same for you..

Morning..24mm f/9 1/500 sec. ISO-100

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Leading you..

..up the garden path.

I’ve been visiting with Poppy this last week.  With the Royal Photographic Society distinction exams being held in a suite at the NEC, Birmingham, staying with my friend in Malvern, about 40 minutes drive away from the NEC, was not only hugely convenient but a great chance to catch up and to go out and take pictures together.

Yesterday, we were in the Malvern hills for the sunset but we were a little early so we decided to go looking for a good spot for some other pictures.  I suggested we go down onto the plain on the western side of the hills as the late afternoon sun would be casting a nice soft light.  We drove down and at each junction I just followed my nose suggesting either a left or a right turn.  Some part of me seemed to know where we were going   Seeing a sign for Coddington, I felt that Coddington was where we should go.  What a great name for a village.  Passing a lane that had a sign saying ‘dead end’ and ‘Bush Farm’ we decided to take the right and drive down the lane.

As we were approaching some farm buildings we saw an elderly man carrying a bucket.  At his heel, following faithfully, was a collie sheep dog.  Poppy stopped the car and I wound down the window asking if would be OK to take some pictures of the farm.  ‘I don’t see why not’ the man replied so we drove a little further on and parked the car.  We set up our tripods and started taking pictures.  The man came back down the lane.

‘Let me show you something very special’ he said ‘follow me’.

We followed onto the farm, through an arch and around the back of the rather lovely farm house.  Here we were treated to a lovely view of the Malvern Hills.  Feeling very privileged indeed, we started to taking pictures..

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Back into the farmyard we noticed the faithful sheep dog’s kennel cleverly cut out of the wood pile.  This photo opportunity was a real gift.  As is the way with collies generally, she was a lovely dog and seemed quite happy to pose in her kennel..

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Moral of the story, when you’re out taking pictures, if you need to get onto farmland or take pictures of farm buildings, it’s good to ask permission.  You never know what this might bring in the way of bonuses.  We were very lucky.

As we were leaving the man said

‘It’s a shame you were just a little too late to capture the light.’  I replied with

‘the late afternoon sun especially makes for some very nice photographs’.

‘It takes all sorts’ he said.

Thanking him again we left.  I will make a point of sending a print when I return home.  An opportunity to show him why the afternoon light is so special.. :-)

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Roller Banners

We’ve all seen them at shows, country fares, car showrooms.  The roller banner is a useful way to create an instant display anywhere.  I’ve been asked to showcase my work in a variety of settings where there wasn’t the opportunity hang pictures and these banners seemed like a good way to go so I’ve designed some for myself.

I will be at the Royal Cornwall Show this year and a number of other venues and these banners will provide an instant display.  I’ve had one printed and it worked very well.  I was glad to see the D800 earning it’s living allowing me to enlarge the photographs to 2m in height without any problem at all.

The problem I have however is which banners to print.  I have 8 designs and I only really need four so I was hoping for some help in choosing..

I’d really appreciate it if you’d vote for your favourite banner. Hovering over the banners with your mouse will give you their titles. I’ll then go ahead and have the winning four printed. Thank you for your help! :-)

Spring has Sprung..

The grass is riz.. I wonder where the birdies is..

After all the dreadful weather we’ve been having, today was warm and bright and decidedly spring like.  Another fine day for photography so despite lots of chores to do, I drove out to the clay burrows and photographed this disused pit.

I know it’s all wrong (not that the rules of composition are not there to be broken) the horizon is in the middle creating a rather static picture, (at least that’s the argument against a middle horizon) but what  drew me in to this photograph was the way the clouds were just hung there.  It reminded me of those drawings children do with the block of sky across the top, the ground at the bottom and a big white space in the middle.. :-)

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Oh, I better finish the ryhme..

The little bird is on the wing,
but that’s absurd, the wing is on the bird! :-)

Gunwalloe Church – St Winwaloe

Some time ago, I made reference the Poldhu care home where I hoped I would while away my dotage, wheeled out each morning by a caring nurse to enjoy the most marvellous views of the Cornish coastline.  Well, I got a little closer today, not closer in terms of needing to check in, but closer geographically.  Here it is on top of the cliff..

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Having eaten a fine lunch at the Halzephron Inn, I was actually visiting the little church at Gunwalloe, dedicated to a perhaps a lesser known saint, but a popular one according to one source, St Winwaloe.

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Winwaloe was a Breton saint, the son of Fragan, a prince of Dumnonia, and his wife Gwen Teirbron also known as Gwen the Triple-Breasted.. Hmm. He was the first abbot of Landevennec and Gunwalloe was a chapelry of Breage when first recorded in 1332.  A holy well was once sited near the porch.  The church probably began as the manor chapel of Winnianton which lay close by.  It is the only Cornish church actually sited on a beach.

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The church, which probably started as a chancel and nave (part of the 13th century church perhaps surviving at the west end), has two fonts.  One Norman, of Pentewan stone with a round bowl and a stylized tree of life carving, was found in the churchyard.  The other, with a granite octagonal bowl, would appear to be its 15th century replacement.  The tower may be the oldest feature, perhaps dating to pre 1400.  Other detached Cornish towers can be seen at Feock and Gwennap.

I was surprised and rather saddened to see the CCTV camera attached to the detached tower but these are the times we live in.  I was also saddened to see evidence that the recent storms have caused flooding in the church and talking to a lady I met in the churchyard today, I learnt that the cliff behind the church has been severely eroded.  Tons of rock have been dumped to try protect the cliff that is protecting the church.  I hope that the storms will abate and the church will remain, as it has for the last 8 centuries, a place for quiet contemplation and prayer.

Driving the back lanes..

I’ve been out a couple of times recently, just driving around the back lanes, seeing what I can find.  I came across this cottage whilst driving across Tregoss Moor. A real fixer upper.  I was attracted by juxtaposition of the old cottage, the sign directing animals and horse-drawn vehicles to use the gate to avoid the cattle grid and then that awful electricity pylon, a ubiquitous symbol of the modern world and our reliance on all things electric now…

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The front door to the cottage was so tiny, only about 5ft in height if that.  It must have been a very small person who lived here.  Either that or someone who was permanently banging their head…

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Looking through the window..

It was my intention to go out and take photographs this afternoon.  Santa was very good to me this year and delivered a nice shiny new Nikkor 14-24 f2.8 super wide angle lens and I’ve been itching to test it but it has rained and rained and the rain keeps coming and if the rain has stopped for an afternoon, I’ve been unable to take advantage of those few hours of respite.

The ground is waterlogged, every drop of rain that falls runs off the land and into the ditches.  From the ditches to the streams and from the streams to the flood plains of the rivers where developers have built houses because this was the only land available, or perhaps it was just cheap, meaning flood misery for thousands…  In Cornwall, this isn’t so much of a problem, instead those deep depressions crossing the Atlantic, one after another, have whipped the seas into a fury and along with extra high tides, it has meant flood misery for thousands…

I’m lucky, the worst of it for me has been confinement to house or vehicle while pictures remain un-taken.. I thought I’d share my view of the world over the last couple of days.  The first picture was taken from my lounge window.  How sad the garden looks this time of year.  Note to self, that wall really needs a coat of paint. The second, from my car, on location somewhere in mid-cornwall.. Such a dismal flat grey light..

On a technical note, I have been surprised and delighted with the depth of field achievable with this new lens.  With the lens just 30cm or 12 inches from the glass, I have raindrops on the window and the trees in the far distance all in focus.  Incredible..  Anyway, here are the pictures I have managed to take..

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Oh and by the way, I’ve just built a new site, under my real name, for the purposes of creating a straightforward portfolio of some of my work.  Your clicks (on the link below) would, as ever, be much appreciated. :)

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This photograph was taken last year on a trip to the dinosaur egg beach, so named for the giant pebbles that litter the beach..

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Happy New Year!!

“Twelve significant photographs in one year is a good crop” – Ansell Adams

That many? Twelve? That’s quite a tall order and I think he’s right.  These words are of great comfort when I come back from a shoot and the pictures are just not doing what I want them to. It seems it’s not just me.

My aim is to capture and convey my passion for Cornwall and my love of the ocean that surrounds it but more than that, the photographs are an expression of  how I see, feel and experience the world.  The breathtaking awe inspiring moments I witness at dawn while the rest of the county sleeps.   Me, my camera and the remote empty, heart stopping, tear inducing wonderfulness that  for a short time at least, will take away the pain and the grief and the madness of it all..

To quote Ansell Adams again, he said that landscape photography was the supreme test of the photographer and also often the supreme disappointment [of the photographer].  I look, I feel, compose and expose, feel the creative spark and press the shutter and so often the image will not live up to the experience for me.  How can one get everything one is feeling and seeing onto that tiny little sensor?  It can be done of course but it’s tough and I struggled to pick the twelve that I feel get somewhere close.  Anyway, these are my 12 significant photographs from the past year..  I hope you enjoy them

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Wishing Everybody a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014!!:)

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A Study in Light – A Cornish Sunrise

Dawn really has become my favourite time of day of late and my experiences yesterday morning just confirmed my belief that there is nothing quite so glorious as sitting on a beach, on rocks or on the top of a cliff waiting to greet a brand new day with your camera primed.

This is a series of photographs, some long exposures, some regular shots that document the changing light over the course of about 45 minutes as the sun rose.  I used a graduated neutral density filter to allow for a balanced exposure given the brightness of the sky, shooting directly into the sun.

If you’re thinking of buying a set of graduated neutral density filters, I wouldn’t bother with the soft variety.  It’s important to position a hard graduated filter correctly to ensure you don’t get a line across your picture but I don’t believe a soft grad ND filter is a substitute for not positioning your filter correctly in the first place.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Click for a clearer sharper view.. :-)

_1AT0148 frw56mm f/11 301 sec. ISO-100 Lee 10 stop Neutral Density filter plus a Lee 0.9 Hard Graduated Neutral Density Filter and a B+W Circular Polarisier

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Un-Spam Us!!

Having recently done battle with the ‘Happiness Engineers’ and the ‘Likes’ police (How many Likes is too Many) I’ve now had to go head to head with the Spam Police, those awfully nice people at Akismet who, in there overly zealous attempts to protect us from the occasional spam comment, are dumping perfectly good, honest, decent comments in our spam folders. I’ve just had to retrieve over a dozen from my spam folder and having spent a great deal of time recently writing many, well thought out, thoroughly considered and appreciative comment on someone’s work only to see it disappear before my very eyes as it’s whisked away and dumped where few people care to look, the spam folder, I’m getting pretty fed up.

I know it’s always a case of the few spoil it for the many but can we not deal with the ‘likes’ that come from people looking to solicit something from us and those that ‘like’ to get likes back?  They’re easy enough to spot.  Are WordPress users really complaining so loudly about this that WordPress’s reaction to ration our ‘likes’ is justified?  The same goes for the spam comment.  It’s easy enough to dump them in the trash.  In trying to stop what is really a reality of the world we live in, WordPress are starting to make this platform unusable for decent, honest bloggers like you and me.

While they figure that out for themselves as, surely as night follows day, they’re not going to listen to us, all we can do is check our spam folders daily and like in moderation hoping, as I hope, that we all understand we’re there, following and reading and appreciating the posts we read daily anyway, we just can’t necessarily show it. :-)

If you’re struggling with this as I am, you can contact Akismet at and the happiness engineers at I’m sure they’d be happy to hear from you ;-)


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How many likes is too many?

I need to apologise for apparently not visiting your blogs lately.  I have been, only my presence has not been registering.  I liked too many of your posts in too short a time frame apparently.  This is what happened.  Not wanting blogging to totally dominate every waking hour, I thought I could perhaps spend a few hours, a couple of times a week, going through your blogs, I thought I’d cracked the blog/life equation.

However, WordPress had other ideas.  In order to prevent what the ‘Happiness Engineers’ term ‘Spam likers’, you can only press the like button so many times within a given time frame before your like button becomes inoperable and you are labelled – spam liker.  How many likes this is and what the time frame is, I don’t know and WordPress aren’t telling me but my like button has been disabled for some time now.  I’ve been deemed to be liking you all too much.

I’ve been happily reading your posts and liking them but these likes have been considered spam and have not been registering.

I happen to follow the blogs of a select number of very talented photographers and writers and press the like button to show my appreciation.  Why wouldn’t I? And because I do this in the course of a couple of hours rather than popping back every hour or so, I’ve had my like button taken away.  I questioned WordPress.  I asked if it was the case then that I could only like some of the blogs I follow, ‘Yes’ was the answer. If and when I get my like button back, I don’t quite know how I’m going to choose.

Some of you have been telling me you have been unable to comment or like my posts.  Perhaps any likes on my posts have been deemed the result of me liking too many of your posts and that would be why you haven’t been able to let me know what you think lately.  Who knows?

Anyway, can’t let all that get me down and I hope you can forgive my apparent absence.  It’s still summer here in Cornwall after nearly a whole week of fine days.  Unprecedented in recent years.  Enjoying the weather, I was on my way back from an appointment with a book binder when I had to stop the car and snap this shot.  There will be hoards of sunseekers heading to Cornwall this weekend.  This is a clue as to why. No colour enhancement necessary. I feel so privileged to live in Cornwall as followers of my blog will know. Even more so when the sun shines..


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After a 5 year absence, summer returned to Cornwall this weekend and it looks set to be around a while.  I was at Wheal Coates around 5.30 this morning and took this picture, just as the sun came up from behind a hill..

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Click for a clearer sharper view..

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Balloon at Dawn..

A friend of mine was taking a balloon trip this week, a father’s day gift from his children and he asked me if I’d like to go along and photograph the event.  I thought this was a great idea. I didn’t think it was such a great idea as I dragged myself from my bed at 3.30 on Wednesday morning but I was committed.  As dawn broke I found myself in a field just outside Launceston, about an hours drive away from home.

I found the process of getting the balloon ready for flight fascinating and for me as a photographer, it was an interesting challenge given my usual subject, the landscape, tends not to get up and float away.  Anyway, here’s one of the pictures..

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Click for a clearer, sharper view ;-)

There’s been rather a lot going on this week for me, one way and another, and I must apologise for not being quite so attentive as I usually am in following all your blogs.  I will get around to your posts as soon as I can..

Oh and remember, last day for entries in the Digital Lightroom Urban Landscape Photography Competition..

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