Dorset Landscape Photography: Dorset Opium Poppies
22nd June 2012 - 3 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Dorset Opium Poppies

Last evening light over a poppy field in Dorset, filled with Opium poppies

I decided it was time to find some poppies. I had seen a few out and about on the roadsides or the edges of fields, but bot a proper filed of them. I knew my usual field had not grown this year, so I was out hunting.

Last year the Government handed out subsidies to encourage farmers to grow Opium poppies which were used for medicines here in the UK. A number of farms across Dorset & Hampshire grew them which also turned out to be a real plus for us Togs.

On my way over to East Dorset/Wiltshire borders I passed another of these Opium fields, in full bloom, and as they only have 3 days or so in flower, I had to stop and investigate. It was only a single field, on a private estate, but easily shot form the roadside and despite politely asking for access, it was denied.

After a hunt round Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain, where I did find a few fields, though nothing to compare with the Opium field, I headed back there for the last ''''Golden Hour'''' of warming light. During my trips down various off road tracks I managed to get the car stick in the mud, which Im sure will be the subject to another post later this week.

The Dorset Opiums are a large, pink flower, with a darker purple centre to the flower and make for a stunning field of blooms. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

The sun shines through a field of Dorset Opium Poppies

Last evening light over a poppy field in Dorset, filled with Opium poppies

The evening light back lights a poppy field in Dorset, filled with Opium poppies

Evening light back lights a Dorset Opium Poppy field
Somerset Landscape Photography : Summer Solstice
20th June 2012 - 0 comments
Somerset Landscape Photography
Summer Solstice

Sunrise over the Somerset Levels for the Summer Solstice, from Glastonbury Tor

It was the Summer Solstice today, arriving a day earlier than usual, due to the Leap Year. Mist was forecast over the Somerset levels so I headed out to Glastonbury Tor.

There was a large group gathered on top of the Tor, to welcome in the longest day, with drumming, chanting & dancing. A spirited bunch. They threatened to throw me off the Tor as I arrived late (4.30am) and didn't camp out overnight like the rest of the group.

The mist was thin on the ground this morning but all were focused on the sunrise which was both colourful and spread across the sky thanks to some broken cloud cover.

A fun morning and thanks to everyone up there this morning for making it a memorable one.

Sunrise over the Somerset Levels for the Summer Solstice, from Glastonbury Tor

Welcoming in the new day. Sunrise over the Somerset Levels for the Summer Solstice, from Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor in the light mists on the Summer Solstice
Sailing Photography : Classic Yacht Racing, Westward Cup 2012
12th June 2012 - 0 comments
Sailing Photography
Classic Yacht Racing, Westward Cup 2012

The three classic yachts, Eleonora, Mariquita and Mariette cross the starting line of the Westward Cup 2012. Sepia.

I spent a day earlier this week out on the water watching some of the great classic yachts racing on the Solent in the Westward Cup 2012.

Three of the greats were taking part : Eleonora, Mariquita and Mariette. The largest of these, Eleonora is 49.5M in length and was launched in 2000 as a exact replica of the schooner Westward which launched in 1910 and dominated the racing scene for many years.

Run in association with the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) and the Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) with the RYS as the Organising Authority, the Westward Cup was first held in July 2010 and was a tremendous success for everyone taking part. It marked the revival of and interest in Big Class yacht racing in the Solent and around the world. A spectacle rarely seen on the Solent.

It was a grey overcast day with rain showers blowing through, which suited the monochrome of black/white or sepia conversions.. I managed to take a LOT of shots on this trip so it will take a while to pick out the best, but here are a few to get you going.

The classic schooner Eleonora under full sail in the Westward Cup 2012. Sepia.

The classic yachts, Mariquita and Mariette race downwind in the Solent as part of the Westward Cup 2012. Sepia.
Dorset Landscape Photography: Storms over the Cobb
08th June 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Storms over the Cobb

Storms rage over the Cobb in Lyme Regis, waves crashing

Some more images from last weeks storms down at Lyme Regis. I have processed all of these in Black and White as I feel it conveys much better the feel of the wet, windy & very wild evening.

One of the issues that night was keeping dry, both myself but more importantly the camera equipment. The winds were very strong and often I was being blown sideways or backwards as I walked around trying to get a good vantage point.

There were a few boats up on the harbour side and a few strategically placed brick walls, all of which I could shelter behind for a few moments while I captured the shot I was after, but the spray was everywhere. I came home caked in salt and the camera needed a good clean too.

Storms rage over the Cobb in Lyme Regis, waves crashing

Storms rage over the Cobb in Lyme Regis, waves crashing

There are many 'waterproof' systems for DSLR's on the market with a wide range of price tags, but when its raining or the spray is excessive like it was this night, I find a plastic bag with a hole in the bottom works owners. Make a small cut-out in the bottom of the bag and slip it over the lens, using an elastic band to hold it onto the lens. The bag is then folded back over the lens and camera body, with the bag opening free for you to access the controls.

A second piece of kit is a small hand towel which can be used to cover the camera/lens if its on a tripod, or can be used to wipe down the spray and keep it relatively dry during a shoot.

The other piece of kit you must always carry are clean lens cleaning cloths, along with a damp cloth when its salty. Wile the salt off first, then clean and dry the lens. You may have to return to the car or hide under a brolly to do this bit, but its worthwhile.
Dorset Landscape Photography: Storms over the Cobb
07th June 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Storms over the Cobb

Storms rage over the Cobb in Lyme Regis, waves crashing

A windy evening down at Lyme as the winds hit 60-70mph coinciding with high tide. It seemed at times as if the Cobb was under water as the waves rolled up the side of the Cobb, up onto the beach, round the end of the wall and down into the harbour.

The harbour was at it highest I have seen, overflowing on the car park and pathway. The mix of rubble being washed onto the Cobb's lower walkway along with the harbour overflowing caused the Coastguard to close off the path ... much to a number children's disappointment.

Many folks were out this evening to watch the storms including a few other Tog's trying to keep their equipment dry from all of the spray. An amazing evening, despite the gloomy and dull lighting, it was great to watch the spectacle.

The lighting led me to process this one in black and white to bring out the dark, gloomy nature of the event. This panorama is a stitched image of 8 different shots, blended together.
Queens Diamond Jubilee : Lighting the Beacons
05th June 2012 - 0 comments
Queens Diamond Jubilee
Lighting the Beacons

Queens Diamond Jubilee, Lyme Regis, Beacon, 2012

A quick trip along to Lyme Regis last night to watch the lighting of the Queens Diamond Jubilee Beacons along the Jurassic Coastline. From the harbour side in Lyme a beacon was lit on the North wall of the Cobb, watched by the gathered crowds, as the full moon rose behind the isle of Portland.

As the beacons got going there was others down the coastline, at Thornecombe Beacon, Bridport, Abbotsbury Hill and down to Weymouth. A great sight down the coast.

Many of the beacons we accompanied by fireworks lighting up the skies too, which made the evening a bit special. Its not often we see the beacons along our coast lit any more, so to see them lining the coast was tremendous.

In the harbour the beacon was lit by the Mayor of Lyme Regis was soon raging, sending sparks across the walls, which looked amazing with the full moon rising behind it. Its been a great weekend of celebrations and it was fun to do something local and share it and be part of it.
Dorset Landscape Photography : Early morning mists
29th May 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Early morning mists

Or, to be more precise, the lack of them! They were promised this morning, and with a cold, still night following a lovely warm day, it was looking good. I set the alarm early (again!) and even had a peak out of the window around 2am, to see a great waft of mists outside my window, so I was very hopeful.

A couple of hours later though it had mostly dissipated. As I climbed up the local hills overlooking West Dorset, there were a few light mists lying the in the valleys but nothing like what I was hoping for.

As I waited to see if it would improve, the sun became to give its wonderful pre-dawn glow which was great to see as it warmed the landscape and skies above, but at the same time, a huge bank of low lying cloud was being blown in from the North, which eventually obscured all the scene, before it was burnt off by the suns warmth over the next couple of hours.

It been a few early starts recently, with limited opportunities, but its always wonderful to be up at sunrise, to see the change in lighting and the mists lying across the valleys. Whether I get a great image or not, its a sight you can never tire of.
Wiltshire Landscape Photography: West Woods
17th May 2012 - 1 comment
Wiltshire Landscape Photographer
Bluebells at West Woods

A few more shots from last weekends trip up to West Woods near Marlborough.

A few of these shots were stitched together, to add more detail and to allow them to be blown up to large sizes on canvases. The images were all taken with a 50mm prime lens to ensure less distortion and provide high quality images.

The light was streaming through the beech trees by this time of day, catching and highlighting the new growth both in the trees and the ferns growing amongst the bluebells.

A great wood and if you're up that way, the best I have found in the UK for the bluebells this year.

Hampshire Landscape Photography : Micheldever Bells
09th May 2012 - 0 comments
Hampshire Landscape Photography
Micheldever Bells

A couple more images from the weekends trip up to Micheldever. I must try and get up there again if the light changes .... the brief glimpse of light makes all the difference to the woods.

The pathway seemed to be leading off to ..... where? It seemed to have no end point which made it more interesting.

The second image was a stitch of 4 images, each taken at 110mm in portrait mode. By using a longer focal length you can eliminate and distortion effects with the vertical trunks of the trees. By using this method you have to move quickly making sure the lighting doesn't change between the 4 shots, which in this case was a challenge.

Hampshire Landscape Photography : Micheldever Bells
07th May 2012 - 0 comments
Hampshire Landscape Photography
Micheldever Woods Bluebells

A second trip up to the woods at Micheldever over this weekend to see how the bluebells were coming on. The woods are large and there are many areas known to photographers for a good, extensive carpet of bells. In some places the bells go off into the distance for almost a mile.

On arrival the weather was cloudy with little chance of great light for highlighting the bells or the blossoming beech trees and their lime-green foliage.

I visited a number of areas and had to go to the far areas to get any good coverage. The bells this year seem very patchy and 2 or 3 of the main areas have been ruined by forest clearance work or the early frosts, or just too many folks walking over the flowers

This one was from the far side of the woodland, hidden away in an area not normally visited. The bells were not too bad and the thinning clouds from time to time, allowed a brighter light to pass over the trees and flowers.

Its worth another visit if I can get there again.
Infrared Photography : Churches
06th May 2012 - 0 comments
Infrared Photography
Churches : in the Landscape

This is a project Ive been working on for the last few weeks and months and although the project itself has now finished, I think I may well continue with it.

Its not that I'm a great lover of churches, but the monochrome look of infrared seems to suit them and I've enjoyed the change of photographic style.

The project covered both monochrome or infrared and was focused on churches in the landscape, thus excluding urban landscapes... some of which will be added soon too.

The style of infrared turns green foliage white, blue skies a very dark blue and limits the colour spectrum to almost monochromatic. The church images shown in the gallery were initially processed reversing the colour channels and adjusting the levels. After this I used Silver EfexPro to convert the image to black and white.

Infrared Photography : New Gallery
03rd May 2012 - 1 comment
I have just launched a new gallery of images which I will be adding to over the coming weeks and months : an Infra-red Gallery.

I have bought a converted Nikon D70 and have been learning to use it whilst working on a project, Churches in the Landscape, which I will cover in further blogs.

The Nikon is converted to capture only infra-red images, so I can use it as normal to take images, but the processing is very different from that for normal RAW or JPG images.

By capturing infra-red light, the result is quite distinctive with green foliage showing up white, blue skies turn very dark blue or black and the overall style is monochromatic. The first sets of images will be black and white and focused on the Churches project, but different shots will be added over time.

I hope you enjoy the different style.

Dorset Landscape Photography : Spring Rapeseed
21st April 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Spring Rapeseed

I spent a day out yesterday with a couple of fellow photographers, visiting some of the glorious rapeseed fields we have across West Dorset, so firstly, a big thank you to Tony Gill and Mia Lewis for their company and for sharing some of their favourite locations.

Mia is also an expert in infrared photography, so it was an opportunity to try out some infrared images of the multi-coloured landscape.

The day started with a clear blue skies with a few fluffy white clouds building and the fields were glowing in the early morning light. They looked stunning.

We headed up to the fields overlooking the Cerne Valley and spent a good few hours wandering round the fields there. A great spot with many fields out in full bloom and some wonderful landscapes going on across the valley.

The infrared turns the yellow rapeseed to white and the brown fields behind turn very monochromatic. Its a very different look and feel. I liked this composition due to its lines and patterns as well as the split toning of the image.

Infrared photography is something I've only recently started exploring, but I'm sure there will be more coming, especially in black and white.

Wiltshire Landscape Photography: Storms, Clouds & sun
17th April 2012 - 0 comments
Wiltshire Landscape Photography
Storms, Clouds & sun

Changeable is how I would describe the weather at the moment. I headed out this week to capture some specific images for a competition I am working on, only to find the weather, the light, the timing was not working.

Instead I decided to go visit some other locations across the region, but a bit further afield. As I headed out towards Salisbury I passed one of my favourite locations, a lone barn, standing in a field which this year was planted with rape, which was in flower. Set against the blue skies with some white fluffy clouds rolling through, it looked great and although I have captured similar shots before, I couldn't resist having another go.

As I was taking the shot, setting up, getting into the right position, I hadn't noticed the impending storm that was creeping up behind me and it was only the serious increase in wind speed that made me turn around, to the greeted by a hail storm bearing down on me.. I ran back to the car, just missing getting soaked.

Later in the day, with the storms building across the region, I was driving up to Stonehenge when I passed a field of rape, with a passing storm behind it. The combination of colours really worked for me and I stopped the car, jumped out and climbed a small hill to get the view. The rainbow was a real plus.

Unfortunately the storms over Stonehenge didn't work so well, there will be more to come from the day .....
Landscape Photography: So what is a landscape?
16th April 2012 - 0 comments
Landscape Photography
So what is a landscape?

This is a question that has been posing all sorts of concerns for the members of my local club recently. Bridport Camera Club ( has competitions throughout the year and it has come to light that not everyone has the same understanding.

For me, Landscape, is a generic term used to describe the view in front of view. It can of course include fields, hills & mountains, but the question seems to be what else can it include?

Wikipedia: Landscape Photography: Photographs typically capture the presence of nature and are often free of man-made obstructions.

Dictionary: a section or expanse of rural scenery, usually extensive, that can be seen from a single viewpoint. OR a picture representing natural inland or coastal scenery.

One of the big questions for me is : Can a landscape include buildings, or the sea/coast?

So for competitions such as 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' entries are accepted including just about anything, although they do sometimes add sub-categories (Urban View), but certainly buildings and the sea/coast are actively encouraged.

In a recent landscape competition I had an image rejected as it showed St Pauls Cathedral in its own City landscape and the judge decided it was not a true landscape. He wanted to see fields and flowers.

In an upcoming competition, 'Churches in the Landscape' again the rules have been stipulated that no urban/city landscapes are allowed. So the image above from Dartmoor's St. Michael de Rupe should fit the remit, but can you see the landscape? or enough of the landscape? or is it just a church on a hill?

So what do you think? Should the term landscape be sub-divided into urban, city, sea-scape, coastal etc. or should the judges be a bit more flexible in their interpretation? Let me know your thoughts and feelings and join in the discussion for The Shed.

Dorset Landscape Photography: Churches in the Landscape
13th April 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Churches in the Landscape

I am currently working on a project covering 'Churches in the Landscape' but it has to follow all sorts of rules. My question is for the next few posts, what is landscape?

The project is designed to be a black and white assignment, but you can choose to use monochrome infrared if you want. Infra red is something I have only just started getting into to, so I will post some of these over the coming weeks and months, but for now, I am sticking to the bigger question?

Can a landscape include the sea? or does that make it a seascape?

Can a landscape be an urban scene, or does it have to rolling fields, mountains and lakes?

It seems everyone has their own view. If you look through the Landscape Photographer of the Year book or exhibition, you will see a mix of landscapes, seascapes, mountains, water, rivers and much more.

My local club defines it as a land based photograph, and definitely NOT an urban scene or including water.... which they see as a seascape.

Wikipedia allows anything in a landscape ... confusing matters even more.

To help me get to the bottom of this I am going to be discussing it over the next week with my fellow photographers on The Shed Photography


Follow the discussion, join in and let me know your views.
Dorset Landscape photography: Low tide towards Golden Cap
16th March 2012 - 1 comment
Dorset Landscape photography
Low tide towards Golden Cap

Another from the recent low Spring tides along the Jurassic Coastline. The view towards the iconic Golden Cap is taken from along the sweeping rocky shoreline of Seatown that gets uncovered at very low tides. At the far end of the beach a large area of rocks and boulders appears when the tide is very low.

The long exposure technique of using a 10-stop filter was used to turn the water into a mist and add some slight movement into the clouds.
Dorset Landscape Photography: Low tide on the Jurassic Coast
15th March 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Low tide on the Jurassic Coast

It was one of the lowest tides of the year recently so I went down to visit what is one of my favourite areas at low water, Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock. As many of you will know, I get down there regularly and love the cliffs, ledges, rocks and boulders that are uncovered at these low tides.

I wanted to try and get out into the water, so I setup the tripod and waited for the tide to come back in, filling in the space around the legs. It is amazing the power of the water and although the waves were only slight that day, the power was enough to know me off my balance on more than one occasion. Thank goodness for a sturdy tripod.

I went for a long exposure shot, mainly to get the water to calm into a mist amongst the rocks, but it also gave some nice movement to the clouds which were flying by.

Very bright sunshine didn't help the exposures or the contrast between the rocks, clouds and the cliffs, but I hope you enjoy the final image.
Dorset Landscape Photography: Black and white series
11th March 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Black and white series

The first of a series of images I have been working on to offer something a little different. I have been asked recently to provide a number of images in black and white, but rather transform some of my existing ones into monochrome, I decided to get out and take some deliberately.

This is the first, taken at low Spring tide, where a number of rocks were uncovered that I have not seen before. These were only just uncovered at the lowest of tides, and many children were playing on them, getting soaked in the process.

I loved the way the water was swirling around them, forming patterns in the water and making the rocks glisten in the direct sunlight. It was early afternoon and the sun was shining brightly, so I used a polariser to try and reduce the glare, although it only partially helped.

More in this series to come.
Dorset Landscape Photography : Sunset across West Dorset
11th March 2012 - 0 comments
Dorset Landscape Photography
Sunset across West Dorset

A glorious light developed this evening across the skies after the sun had set. I had left my original position, thinking that it was all over, but as I walked back to the car I was reminded that patience is key.