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.
I didn’t know that the Azores produced tea. Much more so in times gone by than now but it was with great interest that I visited one of the two remaining tea plantations on the island of São Miguel, the capital island of the Azores archipelago. The neat rows of tea bushes make an interesting subject for a photograph or two.
Much of the original 19th century machinery, developed by the British company Marshalls no doubt for use in Indian tea plantations, is still in use here.
I’m very much looking forward to trying the Pekoe, Orange Pekoe and Green tea blends that I purchased in the plantation shop.
The skies in the following pictures give a clue as to why the Azores islands are so lush with vegetation, we are however having a good mix of sunshine and clear blue skies as well as rather dramatic ones as moist air from the Atlantic condenses over the mountains.
I’ve just learned that my picture of a Pentireglaze sunrise here in Cornwall is a finalist in the See. Me International ‘Exposure 2014‘ competition.
I’m thrilled and more than a little humbled given the standard of photography and art on display amongst the finalists. This is my picture..
I’d really appreciate it if you could stop by https://exposureaward2014.see.me/ and give my picture a ‘like’. You can sign in to See.me with Facebook or sign up. There is some really wonderful art and photography on display at See.Me and it’s a site well worth taking a look around. Thank 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..
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.. :-)
Today I had the honour of being recommended for the award of a Licentiate Distinction from the Royal Photographic Society here in the UK. The distinctions bestow Licentiate, Associate and Fellow memberships on successful candidates and are recognised worldwide as setting the standard in photographic excellence.
The panel commented particularly on an ‘obvious affinity the photographer (me – anonymous at this stage) had with the landscape depicted in the images’. It was a real moment of affirmation for me, my love of Cornwall was coming through in my photographs, as judged by fellows of the Royal Photographic Society. It felt good!
I had some help in preparing for the distinction from an extraordinarily brilliant photographer, David Penprase. If you don’t know his work you can see it here and here. It has been such a privilege to work with David. He has stretched me, challenged me and generally given me such inspiration and focus I am so grateful to him for that. I also had the pleasure of working with another fellow of the RPS Anne Sutcliffe. You can see some of Anne’s work here. This is how the Royal Society works and why it is so worth considering membership. You get the opportunity to work with such fabulous photographers
The agony of preparation, the difficult decisions concerning what to include in the panel, what to leave out. The nervous wait for one’s panel to be put up before the judges is definitely worth the genuine pleasure of gaining the recommendation and receiving that recognition.
The following image was singled out as really setting the standard. My panel is now on loan to the RPS. I was asked if my photographs could be used at the Society’s assessment days where prospective distinction candidates can gain expert advice on their work and the process. I was naturally very honoured. I leave you with what is certainly one of the best photographs I feel I’ve ever taken along with my panel hanging plan and a picture of the judges looking at my work..
This is a photograph I took at Porthnanven (Dinosaur Egg) Beach in the Cot Valley..
I’ve posted a couple of pictures lately showing water in the clay pits here in central Cornwall of the most surreal and vivid blue. Several people have asked the question, what makes the water this beautiful yet rather surreal blue/green/turquoise colour? I thought it must be down to minerals or chemicals left over from the clay workings. I was right in one sense, it is a mineral but not the copper I suspected.
I gave Imerys, the company that operates the china clay works, a call and spoke to Chris Varcoe. He told me the water in the bottom of the pits is a mixture of china clay, water and mica. Mica is what’s left over when the china clay, or kaolin is separated from the decaying granite rock using high pressure water. We’ve all seen mica, it’s what they use to make glitter and is a key ingredient used in the billion dollar beauty industry. Unfortunately that mica doesn’t come from the clay pits of central Cornwall, it’s a waste product here. The mica used in the cosmetics industry is largely mined in India, often by children.
Mica is a highly reflective mineral as we’ve all seen and when you mix it with china clay in suspension, it reflects light giving the water this vivid surreal colour. Water reflecting light is what makes the ocean blue, mix in some mica and a bit of china clay and the reflectiveness is greatly enhanced.
For those of you with a scientific bent, the mica group of sheet silicate (phyllosilicate) minerals includes several closely related materials having close to perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition. The almost perfect cleavage, which is the most prominent characteristic of mica, is explained by the hexagonal sheet-like arrangement of its atoms giving the mica its reflective properties.
It’s worth noting that this mixture of china clay in suspension and mica is a little like quicksand and extremely dangerous if you find yourself trying to swim in it hence the danger keep out signs and barbed wire fences everywhere. A timely reminder to an inquisitive photographer who might be tempted to get a little too close. ;-)
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.. :-)
70mm f/22 1/30 sec. ISO-100
Oh, I better finish the ryhme..
The little bird is on the wing,
but that’s absurd, the wing is on the bird! :-)
For those of you in the UK, the storms of recent weeks are all too familiar. For those further afield who may not be aware, the UK has been battered almost relentlessly for the last 6 weeks at least, with unusually deep Atlantic depressions creating winds of storm force 9 or more. Heavy seas and spring tides have meant misery for many as sea defences are breached. The main rail link between Cornwall and the rest of the country has now been severed as seas washed away the line at Dawlish in Devon.
You may have seen the photos I took in Porthleven back at the start of January. Little did we know then that the storms would continue, making landfall every 3 or four days. This coming week shows yet more storms hitting the coastline and with spring tides once more, many are beginning to wonder if the damaged and seriously weakened sea defences will hold.
I took the video below yesterday morning at Portreath on the North Cornish Coast. As huge waves, dwarfing the 30 – 40ft sea wall, crashed relentlessly ashore. It is estimated that around 100 tons of granite have now been ripped for the wall and perhaps this video will give you some idea as to why. It is difficult to appreciate just how powerful and damaging these seas are. A few have sadly underestimated the force of the water crashing onto the beaches and harbour walls and have been swept to their deaths.
As I’m sitting here typing, the wind is howling outside and I can hear crashes as yet another pane of glass in the greenhouse gets blown out. I don’t think the greenhouse will last the week, nothing compared to the huge losses and difficulties others are facing. There are always winners and losers though. As huge, barnacle covered rocks are smashed about in the surf, the seagulls are having a field day as the shells are crushed freeing up the creatures inside. As for the hotel trade, it’s difficult to find a room anywhere as people flock to Cornwall to see the storms for themselves.
For a brief moment this morning the sun came out creating a rainbow in the sea spray. It was all rather beautiful, belying the deadly force behind it..
The tiny figures on the cliff in this picture help lend some scale to these pictures..
Please forgive the lack of editing in the video, oh and the video is better than the preview picture suggests. No way to change that it seems. I discovered video on my D800 for the first time yesterday. I hadn’t realised the video would be saved using the .mov extension. .mov video files use a proprietary codec belonging to Apple and I have yet to find any software on my Windows based system that will convert the video in any decent enough quality to edit. Hence the video is huge and rough around the edges. My apologies to those of you with slower Internet connections.
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…
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…
And other stories..
The sun shone today! Albeit intermittently but the endless grey skies of late lifted so I grabbed my camera and headed out. I found myself at the top of the clay burrows. I’ve talked a little about the clay burrows before, these are huge mounds of waste material that pile up as the ultra precious china clay is blasted from the decaying granite which can be found in huge abundance in the hills of central Cornwall. Burrow is a Cornish word meaning pile of waste material.
These are some of the biggest deposits of the best quality china clay (Kaolin) in the world and as the aerial photograph from Google Earth below shows, the workings are extensive. Visible from space these white scars on the landscape remain hidden from the ground for the most part due to very careful management and ‘Greening’ of the landscape following the extraction of the clay.
What you don’t see from the air is the height of the waste, and the depth of the excavations. I’ve put a little marker on the Google Earth image where I took my picture today. The bright blue colour of the water in the bottom of the pit comes from minerals left behind when the clay is extracted. The Google Earth image shows these pools as bright green, the colour changes with the light but it is always extremely intense.
I mentioned other stories. I was very flattered to be approached by a young composer in Sri Lanka who asked to use some of my images (I should have sent high resolution copies) in a video to accompany his most recent composition, Loneliness, that he was making to post on YouTube. This was certainly a first for me, it’s a lovely piece of music…
This photograph was taken last year on a trip to the dinosaur egg beach, so named for the giant pebbles that litter the beach..
Just as the sun was starting to sink in the sky towards dusk yesterday, I took the following picture. A heavy, sqaully shower was moving rapidly in my direction, the sun reflected in the top of the thunderhead..
55mm f/11 1/100 sec. ISO-100
I drove onto the harbour road when I first arrived at the fishing village of Porthleven before first light this morning. Suddenly faced with a wall of water, I reversed rapidly and sought higher ground passing a policeman as I went with cones and tape to close the road…
Standing above the village I was able to avoid most of the sea spray that was filling the air but constant wiping of the ND Grad filter I was using was still necessary. I also had the help of a good friend who stood with their back to the wind, shielding the camera and tripod from the spray but it was still a struggle to keep lens and camera dry. I saw a lot of photographers lower down with their cameras in plastic carrier bags, drenched through. I think I made the right decision to stand where I did… ;-)
70mm f/11 1/25 sec. ISO 100
“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!!:)
I was out this morning, down at the very western most tip of Cornwall, of the UK in fact, not very far from Lands End at the Botallack Tin Mine. In the picture you can see the Crown Engine houses or what is left of them. These engine houses housed the huge beam engine pumps used to keep the miners dry as they tunneled hundreds of metres under the ocean in search of tin.
It is said that the miners could hear the sea roaring above them as they worked. These engine houses are probably 40 or 50 feet in height so you can get a feel for just how big the waves were today. Sea spray was falling like rain and getting off a shot before the lens became opaque with salt was a bit of a challenge. coordinating a bit of brightness with a good-sized wave set was an even bigger one. Waiting for the light (and the waves) once again..
I posted a picture a few days ago from my recent dawn shoot at Trebarwith Strand. This was the scene about an hour and a half later. The sunshine had made significant inroads into the shadows..
Taking pictures like these mean making certain sacrifices. Apart from waiting the four and a half hours on a rock in the cold to get the shot, when you’re totally engrossed in what you’re doing, you tend to miss certain important little details like a rising tide and getting wet seems to have become the norm when Chillbrook gets anywhere near the ocean..
The following pictures depict the scene behind the long exposures and apparent tranquillity that belie a surging, roaring surf that was threatening to knock me off the rock. The rock I was perched on is about 8 feet, at it’s highest point, above the channels either side that have been carved over thousands of years by the actions of the surf and the stream that runs down on the left.
Bearing this in mind, you’ll get some idea of the height of the surf and crashing waves that were surging shoreward whilst I was taking the long exposures My Wellington boots were of little use as I found myself standing in about two and a half feet of water when this particular wave came ashore.
24mm f/22 1/10 sec. ISO 100
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
Back in Cornwall, this shot was taken on the rocks at Trebarwith Strand at first light. The exposure time was 10 minutes at f/11, ISO-100. The star trails distinctly show the rotation around the pole star and gives some notion to the fact that we’re hurtling through space at an incredible rate. It’s all quite mind-blowing to me, trying to get a sense of the scale of the universe in which we live, how it all works and where we fit into it all…
Not the camera that makes the photograph..
I couldn’t agree more with this statement but we can’t ignore the fact that we have cameras that cost less than £50 and cameras that will cost you the same as a mid range, brand new BMW? The Camera must be important on some level, mustn’t it?
Well yes, of course it must. Whilst it isn’t the camera that makes the picture, it’s the camera that reproduces the vision of the photographer and this is where things get interesting. A mobile phone can take a picture in the same way a £30,000 camera can, but when it comes to the quality of the image, the process of turning the artists vision into pixels on the screen or ultra fine droplets of ink on paper, there is no comparison. For some applications of course, the level of quality is not so critical while for others it certainly is.
A couple of weeks ago, thanks to Brian Tinsen, at DTek Systems UK , I had the opportunity to test drive the camera equivalent of the new BMW. A medium format Phase One 645 DF camera with a P45+ digital back along with a fabulous Schneider Kreuznach 28mm LS f/4.5 Aspherical Lens. As I’m principally a landscape photographer, I needed the SW150 filter system from Lee ,designed to fit lenses with fixed hoods to protect the convex nature of the super wide lenses. The P45+ digital back has a 49.1 x 36.8mm sensor giving 39.1 megapixels at a resolution of 7216 x 5412. What all this technical stuff amounts to is wonderfully sharp images with superb depth and range of colour.
Within ten minutes of the courier delivering the equipment, I had the camera unpacked and I was taking pictures. Using the menu system on the P45+ digital back, I was able to format my compact flash memory card and set the ISO. It was all very intuitive.
I took a half-dozen shots from my patio then came back inside, inserted the compact flash card into my card reader and uploaded the images to my PC. I already had Capture One Pro installed. This is the software created by Phase One to process the .IIQ RAW files that come from the camera. As soon as I put the images on the screen I knew I was dealing with images of superb quality. I could see immediately, even at 16%, that the photos were sharp with a fabulous depth of colour. It was when I looked at the image at 100%, though I knew I had to get me one of these cameras. :-)
I’ve posted one of those first pictures below in full resolution so you can judge for yourself. Click on the image and view at 100% and you’ll see what I mean.
We generally don’t go zooming into images to check the finer detail so does this level of quality matter? Well on a professional level it does and while the camera didn’t take this picture what it did with the data I gave it to process is on another level.
I went on a couple of dawn shoots to Trebarwith Strand and was really pleased with the way the kit performed and the results I got. The camera is big and heavy but packed away nicely in my Kata backpack and I use a tripod so I didn’t find this a particular problem. It’s not a camera I’d like to have around my neck all day long however. The Schneider lens is in a class of its own, the clarity and depth of field achievable with this lens just blew me away.
Below is a gallery of images I took while I had the medium format kit. Second hand, the equipment I had costs around £16,000. I’m now in the process of trying to raise the cash so if there is anybody out there keen to sponsor the arts, this particular photographer could do with some help so please get in touch :|
My thanks once again to Brian for the loan of the equipment and for showing me what is possible. It’s a lot of money. My current kit costs around £3,500 and in many respects, the Nikon D800 holds its own against a medium format camera. I love my D800 and the images it produces. Is the medium format kit worth 5 times my current kit? Well yes, for me it is. Looking at the images in the gallery below, the style is the same, these are Chillbrook images for sure and there’s not a whole lot of difference to be seen at this level However, these images could take being printed at billboard size without any problem and from a quality point of view, would satisfy the critical eye of the most exacting magazine photo editor. As a professional photographer, this is where it counts.
My sincere and on going thanks to everybody who has clicked the links to my new website, www.cornwallphotographicsales.com The site is doing really well in the Google page rankings, thanks to you all, and in several fairly general searches I have done recently found Cornwall Photographic sales on the first page of results. This is fantastic so please keep clicking..
This photograph was taken on a recent dawn visit that I made to Porth Nanven, with fellow blogger Poppy. Porth Nanven is a beach at the end of the Cot Valley that runs down to the sea at the very western tip of Cornwall. Porth Nanven is sometimes referred to as the dinosaur egg beach because of the giant pebbles to be found there. These pebbles are regularly dislodged from the cliff face where they were left 120,000 years ago when sea levels receded.
My new site is up and running and I’m working hard on my Google page rankings. It’s an uphill struggle in a very crowded marketplace so if you enjoy my photographs, it would really help me a lot if you could give this link a click and have a look around. Perhaps click on the gallery page, sit back and enjoy a collection of my most successful pictures. Thank you. ;-)
24mm f/11 1/13 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! :-)
I took the following two shots on my first ever visit to Trebarwith Strand this week. The beach is a photographer’s dream and can be found on the north Cornish coast, not far from Tintagel. Another early start for me but I was rewarded once more for my effort, this time with the most beautiful sunrise. The sun was rising behind me but the colours thrown across the sky were fantastic.
I’ve posted two shots, both with different exposure times. The first shot had an exposure of just under 8 minutes made possible with the use of a Lee big stopper filter. The second shot had an exposure of just over a second. Both photographs were taken with a 0.9 hard graduated neutral density filter. Which do you prefer..? ;-)
24mm f/22 467 sec. ISO-100
24mm f/22 1.3 sec. ISO-100
Please note that these images are posted here at 1/8th their original resolution and in a heavily compressed jpeg format, introducing a slight halo effect and other artifacts not visible in the print which will be available from my new website, coming soon. ;-)