Ponies are a very special feature of the Icelandic landscape that you’ll see everywhere you go if you visit Iceland. These very placid friendly little guys stay out in all weathers, experiencing the most extreme conditions Iceland can throw at them. I’ve seen them huddled in blizzards with winds so strong it’s been impossible to open the car doors or stand up if one manages to leave the car for a quick photograph, such is the way of photographers – quite mad really. Who else would try to open car door in 30 metres per second winds to take a photograph of the blowing snow.. hmm (see below).
The ponies are a unique breed with a unique gait. They are extremely well adapted to the Icelandic climate and when there was a general call amongst the Iceland community to treat the ponies better, many of them became ill simply because they were unused to the richness of additional food in the way of hay and silage that they were provided with. It’s true that in times past, a good pony was the equivalent of a Porsche for young guys hoping to attract the girls.
One of the ponies I was photographing, and as an ex-teacher I know there is one in every class, took great joy in sticking his tongue out, every time I pressed the shutter..
I had to ask the question why farmers would keep so many ponies on their land. Farmers, not renowned for their sentimentality when it comes to their animals (not that they don’t care for them of course), keep animals only if they can make use of them and in Iceland, the answer is meat.
The boom in the tourist industry however has given many of these ponies a reprieve as they are proving more valuable to farmers if they rent them out for trekking. Some farms, with spare accommodation, are offering all-inclusive riding holidays. This is bringing in huge amounts of revenue to struggling farms.
I mentioned the unique gait of these ponies earlier, they have a way of walking, and trotting, that keeps their backs almost completely level giving the rider a very comfortable and bump free ride. Just perfect for children and those with no riding skills.
In the worst of weather I have seen these ponies galloping, rolling and playing. This tells me these animals, despite their harsh existence, enjoy life tremendously.
Here’s a picture of Skogafoss in Iceland treated a little differently to my usual. This picture was taken on a very dull, miserable morning to be honest and the day really didn’t hold any promise for a photograph of any sort, or so I thought. I took some pictures anyway, despite the conditions, of course. Processing the pictures in black and white however with a low key approach, there was a picture there after all. There really is no such thing as bad weather..
I was going through some pictures taken in Iceland over the weekend. I’m still catching up on processing the many pictures I’ve taken there now. Looking at some pictures taken near Hvaines in East Iceland, I was very much struck by how the character of the scene changed over the course of about an hour.
The kind of conditions encountered that day were absolutely my favourite for landscape photography, sunshine and showers. These very dynamic conditions create the opportunities for variety of light, demonstrated in the photographs below. They really highlight why, as landscape photographers, we should wait for the light, waiting is good especially on days like this one. I’d be hard pushed to choose a favourite amongst these pictures which is why I guess, I’ve posted them all as a sort of demonstration. Talking of which, the photographs also demonstrate quite nicely the difference between using an ultra wide angle, wide angle and standard 35mm lens when taking shots of the same scene. My Nikkor 14-24mm really is an exceptional lens.
Incidentally, I’m really quite pleased to report that the photograph I took on the beach at Reynisfjara that I posted a little while back here, has been published on the 1x gallery website. 1x is a curated gallery of quite exceptional photography and that’s a first for me so I’m feeling really quite pleased. If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s well worth a visit. :-)
I’ve posted before about Jökulsárlón. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake fed by the same glacier, Vatnajökull, that I spoke about in my last post. Huge icebergs that calve from the glacier edge, float in this lake, some for many years until finally, currents send them on their way to the sea. You can see my first post from the lake here. It was also at Jökulsárlón that I saw the seals lazing on the ice and I posted those photographs here.
Visiting for the second time, I found my way onto the beach where some of these icebergs, having made it to the sea, are then washed up onto the black volcanic sand. Huge diamond like chunks of ice litter the beach for hundreds of yards. I happily spent a couple of hours, watching the action of the waves on these huge blocks of ice. These are the photographs I took whilst contemplating this beautiful spectacle.
Leaving the lake behind we soon hit the blizzard that was looming on the horizon in the photographs above. Looking for petrol, we came upon a frozen waterfall, Systrafoss, (sister falls) cascading down smooth rock at Kirkjubæjarklaustur. With the snow falling so heavily, we clearly weren’t seeing it at its best and is definitely on the list of places to visit next time..
About a year ago, I donated a framed photograph to a charity raffle. After the raffle had been drawn, a lady approached me saying how much she liked the photograph and how disappointed she was that she hadn’t won it. She was so nice, I endeavoured to find out who she was which I did. I then framed another copy of the photo and sent it to her. You can see the photo that the lady liked so much here.
We exchanged emails and I was made to promise that if I were ever to visit Iceland, I must get in touch. Visiting Iceland at the time was not something I had considered but I guess the seed was sown and when I finally decided to make the journey, I did get in touch. What followed were lots of suggestions of where to visit and several introductions to people, one of whom was a university friend who lived in Höfn.
I was delighted when I, along with Poppy, Poppy’s BB and my friend Chris were invited to dinner with Hulda and her partner Róbert. We had a traditional Sunday roast, a meal that Hulda explained she’d enjoyed every Sunday since she was a child; roast lamb with rosemary, roast potatoes and vegetables. There was one additional condiment from the UK that Hulda explained she bought from a specialist shop in Reykjavik and who can argue with how well mint jelly goes with lamb. I was surprised how similar the meal was to the Sunday roast that I’d grown up with. We had a wonderful evening and it was such a pleasure to make new friends.
During the course of the evening I asked Hulda where she would recommend we visit while we were in Höfn. Horn was the answer and these are the photographs that followed. It was a very wild day, the wind was roaring in our ears and bringing tears to our eyes but we had some sunshine as you can see along with some very heavy snow. Thank you Hulda and Róbert once again for a fabulous evening. This post is dedicated you.
Gulfoss is probably Iceland’s most famous waterfall. Certainly one of the most popular tourist attractions being within the Golden Circle – an area defined around Reykjavik that contains attractions easily reached from the city.
I arrived at the falls around first light, 9 am, in thick fog, ahead of the tour buses that would be calling in for the rest of the day. There were just a couple of cars in the car park. This was still the blue hour, the sun hadn’t risen, hence the blue cast to the Photographs.
In the first image below, a single figure adds scale to this vast waterfall. In the second image, the tiny figures from one of the first tour buses can be seen at the safety fence, just tiny smudges, putting the canyon that carries the river Hvítá onward from the falls, into perspective. Click on the images for a clearer sharper view :-)
The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis do not need an introduction I suspect. This is one of those natural phenomena that most of us wish to see at some point in our lives. Many people travel to Iceland just to get a chance to see the Northern Lights. It was certainly one of the things I hoped to see when I got here. Getting to see this spectacular light show is a bit hit and miss. It’s very much weather dependent, clear and dark skies are needed along with plenty of solar activity.
I visited Siglufjörður in the far north of Iceland yesterday and was lucky enough to witness this amazing light show. Here are a couple of the pictures I was able to take.. more to follow I hope.. I’m off hunting the Aurora again tonight. A little more locally to Reykjavik this time.. :-)
Click on the images for a clearer, sharper view..
In Iceland! Quite an adventure awaits exploring this amazing island of fire and ice and I can’t wait to get going. Picking up a hire car at Keflavik airport this afternoon, I couldn’t resist taking just a couple of detours on my way to checking into my apartment, organising some groceries and unwinding after a very tiring day (and night).
I didn’t sleep at all last night. I had a really good sleep Saturday afternoon and set off for Bristol airport at silly O’clock to make my flight at 7.30 this morning. A three-hour drive, two-hour check-in, security, getting hooked up with the assisted passenger people, having myself and my wheelchair scanned labelled and loaded aboard the aircraft, it all took time..
A wonderful flight ensued, with clear skies over the west of Scotland it was easy to make out the islands of Arran and Mull. For now, I will leave you with just a couple of shots taken on the drive from the airport in Keflavik to the capital, Reykjavik, where I will be based for the next ten days. Well done to Lynn for guessing my destination.. :-)
With the light changing in this second shot by the second, I became seriously excited about the coming days. I just hope I can do this Island justice..
Click on the images for a clearer sharper view.. :-)
There is no doubt that I will keep returning to this beach time after time. Chapel Porth has got to be one of my favourite places to be. The beach only appears during spring tides that coincide with the full moon. During spring tides, the difference between the highest and the lowest tide is at its greatest. Neap tides, where there is little change between high tide and low tide, coincide with the new moon. Between new moon and full moon, the height of the tide at its lowest and highest, changes a little each day. Tide tables come in very handy when planning shoots, along with the weather forecast of course.
The day these photographs were taken, the tide was at its lowest at around 11.30 in the morning and on a beautiful September day, the shots I got weren’t the shots I was hoping for but I was quite pleased with these nonetheless. Waiting patiently for the moment the tide dropped low enough to be able to get onto this part of the beach, I was there before anybody else.
I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. It’s a long time since I had a paddle in the ocean usually preferring the Wellington boot to taking my shoes and socks off and rolling up my trouser legs but on this day, I couldn’t resist.. Click on the pictures for a clearer sharper view :-)
This photograph was taken in the dunes at Rock on the Camel Estuary in Cornwall. We really have been having an exceptional September weather wise. Making up nicely for a miserable August.
I’ve managed to collect a fair few sunny images over the summer. As a landscape photographer, I prefer a bit of ‘weather’ to create more dramatic shots. With a lot of sunny seaside pictures on my hands, I wondered what I might do with them other than just presenting them as nice seaside picture postcards.
I thought about the illustrations in the books I used to read as a child that made me long to be at the seaside and I started experimenting. There are many commercial filters around that will turn photographs into water colour pictures, Photoshop has its own filter but I wanted to find my own way that created just the look I wanted, so started experimenting in Photoshop.
I came up with my own recipe of layers, blending modes, layer masks and brushes available in Photoshop that created the sort of illustration effect, with the translucency of water-colour washes, that I was looking for whilst maintaining the qualities of my original photograph. I’ve posted a couple of my ‘illustrations’ below. I’d be interested in your thoughts. Click on the image for a clearer view.
When my friend Marianne was visiting last week from the States, she needed to visit and bank and coinciding with a rainy day, I thought a trip to Truro wouldn’t go amiss as we could visit the cathedral. This isn’t the first time I’ve posted pictures from the cathedral and I don’t suppose it’ll be the last. It truly is a very beautiful building. I just wish I could get them to turn the awful electric lighting off.
I’ve left the pictures fairly large to allow you to zoom in and enjoy the detail. Just click on an image to take a closer look. My apologies to those of you with a slow Internet connections, it’ll take a while to load the pictures but I hope worth the wait..
I used a small aperture in the image above to give me the longest possible exposure allowing me to lose some of the visitors to the cathedral that kept walking through my shot. Shooting at too small an aperture can soften an image but life’s all about compromise, as is photography.. ;-)
..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..
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..
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.. :-)
This is a photograph I took at Porthnanven (Dinosaur Egg) Beach in the Cot Valley..
You may have seen my pictures from Trebarwith Strand in previous posts. It’s a place I like to return to. With all the terrible weather we’ve been having I wondered how the little village was coping. I was unable to park in my usual place and set up on the rocks down on the beach because the waves were crashing over the the little wall and onto the road but because of the rocks I’ve photographed often, the waves were really a spent force by the time they reached the road and with the exception of the public toilets that looked as though they’d been flooded repeatedly, the small businesses that cater to the tourist trade looked like they’d weather the storms without damage. To get a couple of pictures I drove up to the Port William pub that sits on the cliff. With so little light and wtithout a tripod, I upped the ISO to permit a hand-held shot, hence the rather grainy appearance. I hope you enjoy the picture nonetheless.
24mm f/11 1/100 sec. ISO-800
If you read my last post, you’ll know I was quite upset about a young photography student’s experience with a particular teacher at Truro College here in Cornwall. I wanted to emphasise that Truro College is an excellent place to study and I didn’t want the antics of one particular teacher to detract from the excellent work they do so I took the post down.
This photograph was taken at low tide on the beach at Constantine Bay. What drew me to the picture was the texture of the rock being mirrored, almost perfectly it seemed, by the ocean beyond.
“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
24mm f/11 1/125 ISO-100
24mm f/11 60 sec. ISO-100
36mm f/11 120 sec. ISO-100
36mm f/22 1/160 sec. ISO-800
Wishing Everybody a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014!!:)
This photograph was taken at Trebarwith Strand. The exposure was 6 minutes turning the crashing waves to smoke. The rising sun can be seen reflecting off the island (known as Gull Island) a couple of miles offshore. I think perhaps the people who named this particular lump of rock, lacked a little creativity.. ;-)
24mm f/22 346 sec. ISO-100
For those of you who follow my blog, you’ll know that for a couple of months now, I’ve been building my own e-commerce website. Tired of Photoshelter, Smugmug and the rest, taking such a large chunk of sales subscribers make, I thought I’d go it alone.
cornwallphotographicsales.com is now available to view via a browser near you, selling fine art photographic prints and cards. I’m now an Amazon and Topaz Labs affiliate so I’m able to sell a select range of cameras, lenses, camera bags, tripods and accessories along with Topaz Labs’ excellent processing software. If you’re looking for camera equipment, check out my site, All the products offered have been tested by myself and come highly recommended. Oh and I’m also to be running workshops from January next year, the details are on the website. A chance to visit some of the best locations for landscape photography in Cornwall.
It’s been a long journey full of many ups and downs but I’m there now. This morning, I put the site online.
I hope you’ll all visit the site over the coming weeks. The more times the merrier! Lots of traffic will ensure Google takes notice and the site will start to climb the page rankings.
Thank you all for your kind words of support and encouragement. Within an hour of the site going live I made my first sale, a large fine art print, confirming it’s all been worth it. My special thanks go to my first customer! :-)
It’s now just over a month ago that I posted about my new website, thinking it’d be ready in about a week.. Hmm. It’s turned out to be a hell of a lot more work than I’d ever imagined. I have had my head buried in code for this last month, lost all my data several times, been unable to restore back-ups, tears of frustration when I could quite happily have thrown the computer out of the window to moments of sheer joy when a light bulb of an idea has flickered on in my head, often when least expected, and I’ve inserted an additional line of code and it’s made everything work.
The site is now functioning and I’m very nearly ready for launch. I’m now just stocking the store as it were. Adding my products, finalising my prices, etc etc. This is the reason for my relative absence although I have been dipping into my reader on a regular basis and enjoying many of your posts.
I haven’t been doing a whole lot of photography, for obvious reasons, but a fellow blogger friend and her husband have booked the holiday cottage next door to me for a few days so if the weather will behave (not looking great at the moment) we’ll be out and about taking tons of pictures over the next few days. Watch this space, thanks for your patience, I will be back… ;-)
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.. :-)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and the happiness engineers at email@example.com. I’m sure they’d be happy to hear from you ;-)
35mm f/11 1/20 sec. ISO-100
This is one of my favourite spots to take pictures, Wheal Coates, St Agnes, Cornwall. Whether it’s down on the beach at Chapel Porth (this was taken at high tide so no beach) or sitting up amongst the mine ruins, I just love being there.
I get different pictures every time I go as the seasons change or the time of day differs. I guess this is another of those picture postcard type shots. I prefer the brooding, dramatic skies with the surf throwing up mist due to the gale force wind that’s blowing but hey, you take what you get and this weather is just glorious.. ;-)
Oh and just to let you know, the voting is now open in the DLR Urban Landscape Photography Competition. You can cast your vote for your favourite picture here. :-)
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..
24mm f/18 1/60 sec. ISO 100