Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Rain and more rain with a bit of rain for good measure

At last, my knee that I damaged at the start of summer is fit for running once more. One of my favourite fell races, The Three Shires, was last Saturday... but at around 13 miles and 4,000ft of climb it seemed prudent to give it a miss for a first race back on the fells.

The weather was lousy, cloud touching the bay leaving a gap just large enough for the constant rain to fall to the ground. That added more misery, its a course I know pretty well, so there's always the hope that I can sneak past a few fitter people who lose their way. But its one of the best races in the calendar to photograph - the start runs down a narrow lane for a few hundred yards, then across a stream. The first runners have the luxury of a narrow footbridge (replaced this year, the old one creaked and groaned under the weight of a few hundred runners once a year). The busy middle of the pack splits into two factions, those who enjoy an elevated view from the bridge of grown men and women splashing through the stream - and those who provide the entertainment. Its worth getting wet, it can save a minute or so. Plenty take the wet line, and plenty of spectators gather on the other side to watch them all splash through. As someone once commented - 'its like the start of Black Beauty'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0upwJC-XKBI

A quick chat at the start with club mates, then I made my way down to the bridge to get prime position. Then waited... and waited, stood in the stream up to the top of my wellies, water dripping off the tree above me, and the 'stream' rushing past. It wasn't looking good - I was wondering if I'd take the wet line had I been racing. Eventually the runners started to file along the bridge. Then continued to file across the bridge. Not a single person opted for the water. On one hand, why not? They couldn't get wetter! But saving a minute by risking a fall in there didn't make much sense. I took a few shots seeing as I was there, but runners walking in single file over a narrow bridge doesn't really stir the photographic juices nor fire me up for some hard pp back at the office.

Maybe next year - though with any luck I'll be running it rather than waiting to see if anyone goes nose first into the water.

This shot was taken later on a walk up Hampsfell above Grange. The nights are drawing in fast, 8 o'clock and the light has gone. Hand held with max iso seemed to record something, but had to push it pretty hard in photoshop to discover quite what. Imperative that you click on this one to see it larger.

Arnside and Arnside Knot from Hampsfell
iso 3200, ƒ4ish and pretty slow shutter

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Lido - St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands

Finally home and more awake than on my previous post from Jersey. It was quite a tiring week. On Saturday I finally had half a day to myself but hadn't thought up a game plan. I got up early to set off to photograph some conker trees that I'd seen in the week but not had chance to set up. On arrival I did a quick reccie of the scene and weighed up a few options... then realised that I'd left a crucial piece of kit back in the hotel room. Most times I'd improvise and overcome, but there's no substitute for a camera, so back I went.

At least that snapped me into thinking mode. 7:30, breakfast just started, so a quick full English plus porridge and crates of toast soon had me back outside contemplating a hire car to pop round to a stunning looking castle further around the island. The oversight being that nowhere is open to rent cars at that time of day - a pushbike would have done, Jersey isn't quite three times the size of Wales.

Plan B was to get lost in the docks, something I found relatively easy, before making my way around to the other side of St Helier, a second bay that I'd look over to from on top of the central headland, but not visited. A very different bay to the one I was familiar with. Here's a shot from the first bay which I took last December. A wide swooping bay dominated by Elizabeth Castle.

Elizabeth Castle, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands

The second bay has far more rocks on the horizon. You'll have to trust me that they're quite spectacular, 2nd only to Krakatoa erupting, as I couldn't get sufficient elevation for a worthwhile shot. But I did spend some time at the Lido in the bay. Its a huge tear drop shaped pool build with a perimeter that is below the high tide level. This means the water gets refreshed twice a day. The tide was already lower than the pool and receding fast. Next time I'm there I'd love to capture it while the tide is just clearing the shape of the pool.

The pool combines lots of photographic qualities that I enjoy – gritty textures, graphic shapes, surreal details and scale, an air of neglect and decay (though this is purely due to the daily sea coverage and green weed that is growing on it, the structure is well presented and maintained), a range of backgrounds, restricted and therefore challenging viewpoints – plus the variability of the subject itself due to the changing tide, and the UK's reliable changeability of weather. Certainly a subject I could return to again and again. The shots showing water were all 30 seconds at ƒ14 to ƒ16 using the 10 stop ND. The other shots are pretty much the same apertures with whatever shutter speed worked without the filter. All tripod mounted, so the shutter speed for still subjects wasn't something I thought about.

Lido, St Helier, Jersey
Long flowing lines with the dramatic rocks barely discernible in the distance!

Lido, St Helier, Jersey
I think this is a seating area, obviously covered by high water, treacherously slippery. The four blocks in the distance are for diving off, surreal stuff - distant rocks.

Lido, St Helier, Jersey
This one is right on the edge of blowing the sky, 30 second just giving enough movement.

Lido, St Helier, Jersey
Seating/step area – I think this one will get reprocessed before too long. Wonderful graphic shapes.

Lido, St Helier, Jersey
More graphic shapes and surreal hand rail disappearing into the water
Tip of the week
Don't leave your camera in the hotel room. Trust me on this, it makes a difference.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Jersey, The Channel Islands, 2011

Well you know what its like, 5:30am in a hotel room where you can't get the temperature right and its not your pillow, but ridiculously tired so know that if I don't get back to sleep I'll be zombied all day tomorrow.  A chance to upload a few photos I took last night on my way back to the hotel from work. Its not a long walk, it took about 30 seconds in the pouring rain the night before - just long enough to get soaked to the bone it was raining so hard. But last night was the first chance I've had to get out with my tripod and take some shots of the buildings.

Here's one of the front of the Jersey International Business School where I'm working this week. It would be nice to use this in the prospectus for the following year, though that Jersey Marathon sign in the foreground is a potential problem. Maybe something photoshop could take a look at - its just a little high in the frame to be covered by a text box which will be placed on the page.

Jersey International Business School
3 seconds ƒ14
A short walk across the boole park, the Royal Yacht Hotel with its distinctive lighting.

The Royal Yacht Hotel, Jersey
I can't remember and too tired to look up the exif, but I think this one was about 15 secs ƒ14
This next one is about 5 images combined in photoshop. The exposure was too short to get enough car lights, but using layer modes makes it easy to combine the lights from different shots all taken from the same locked tripod.
Crossing, Jersey
One of the cars must have been changing lanes, giving a nice swirling streak.

I'm staying at the Pomme D'Or - nice food!

Pomme D'Or Hotel, Jersey
The sky colour had gone by this shot, but I like the canopy so worth taking.

And a few in daylight. 

Roof, Jersey
Not a shot that the tourist board would commission, but the obvious textures and distant dockside development was irresistible.

This final shot is a building that I photographed last December but struggled to get anything worthwhile. On my walkabout on Sunday the bright sun created a streak of light which crosses the yellow line by the side of the road. My original intention was to go starker, but the balance on this version seemed about right, keeping some of the surrounding texture. 


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Congratulations Elaine and Alan

Its late, I've had a long day, and I fly to Jersey tomorrow for the week (and haven't packed yet). But I've got to post some of my fave shots from today's wedding shoot for Elaine and Alan.

The weather has been far from ideal, that fine rain which refuses to stop, or let the sun shine through, or allow you to see the other side of the bay. In fact, my fave kind of landscape photography weather. However, it wasn't ideal for a wedding with little light and little chance of going outside unless you didn't mind a bit of the wet stuff.

What a great crowd of folk. They had one aim today, and that was to enjoy a great wedding at the Greythwaite Hotel here in Grange over Sands. Enough of the chitchat, on with the shots. I seem to be working from the back to the front, I haven't reached the ones of the service yet! All clickable to see larger.