Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tyne-Tees Television - Part 18

One of the best sunrises I've ever witnessed was at Roker Harbour in Sunderland, just a few weeks ago when I dipped my feet into sunrise photography after a spell away. The colours that were present in the sky shortly before the sun appeared were spectacular and it was a great reintroduction to low-light work during the 'Silly hours'. You may also have seen this photo here on my blog at an earlier date - I'm sure it's here somewhere!

Anyway, I give you the same shot in a short video clip that was shown on Tyne-Tees Television very recently.

Thanks again!


Tyne-Tees Television - Part 17

It's another video clip folks.

Once again I've been hogging the weather slot on regional television - I must give it a rest, eh. Maybe not. This time it's a recent sunrise shot of mine that you may have seen earlier on my blog page, it's Roker Pier in Sunderland, gods own back yard. A fisherman takes up position just I'm ready to trip shutter, adding a presence to this dramatic sunrise on the north-east coast of England.

Jobs a good 'un!


Autumn Stroll

After my recent outings at the crack of dawn to bag some low-light shots, it was nice to return to some afternoon photography on a mild Autumn day in Durham City. Not that much cloud kicking about to begin with, but very typically that would change as the afternoon turned into early evening.

Durham is a great place to visit during the Autumn season and the riverside pathways and walks are quite picturesque, offering plenty of colour when the sun hits against the trees. From a vantage point on Prebends Bridge overlooking the River Wear I spotted a break in the trees ahead of me, just off the river bank. I was drawn to this spot immediately as the ground was covered in golden brown leaves and I noticed a wooden bench in the middle of the plot. I suddenly imagined what view I would get if I were standing on that spot, looking towards Prebends Bridge where I was actually standing at that time. Only one way to find out so I got my arse into gear and headed across, passing a couple of elderly ramblers on the way. After reaching the spot the first thing that struck me was how quiet it was. I sat on the wooden bench for a minute or two and adjusted my camera settings, priming the toy for action. As I took my first couple of shots I was distracted by some movement to my left - a young couple walking along the path towards the bridge. They stopped behind me, looking straight ahead into my field of view and admiring it for what it was. A few whispers were going on and I got the distinct impression they fancied a bit of action - photography, that is!

Well, I got the shot I wanted so it was time to make tracks and head up towards Palace Green and the nearby Durham Castle. As I walked along the riverside path I looked over my shoulder and noticed that the young couple had nicked my position to take photo's of their own, he he. Aye well, it was worth it. I was probably one in a long line of folk who had been at the exact same spot at some point this Autumn, and no doubt not the last.

Ten minutes later I was amongst the people at Palace Green, a grassy area directly in front of Durham Cathedral. This was my main reason for visiting Durham today as I was after one particular shot of Durham Castle. Some idiot had parked a builders skip exactly where I wanted to take up position, so it was a case of pretending it wasn't there and simply working around it, compsing my shots the best I could . The house in the castle grounds was almost covered in red leaves, giving it that typical Autumn postcard appearance, but there were a lot of visitors kicking about, spoiling the shot. You need a lot of patience in these situations and especially when a pair of fishwives spark up conversation in the place where you least want them. Jesus, I must have waited a good fifteen minutes before they ran out of gas and buggered off, and when that eventually happened the sun went back in!!! Patience kicked in again as I noticed the clouds moving rapidly south - the sun would be out again within minutes. Whe-hey!

And it shone brightly, folks. I was just about to raise camera to eye when I noticed the pair of gasbags were walking back down towards the castle and bang-centre of my frame!!! I won't tell you what I was thinking at this point, he he. I quickly fired off a few frames and got out of there - relief - JOB DONE.

Before I knew it I was travelling back along the A690 towards Houghton. Although the sun was still quite high at this point I decided to pay a quick visit to Lumley Castle on the outskirts of Chester-Le-Street. The castle is tucked away in it's own grounds and is surrounded by tree's of all types, many of which have changed colour as Autumn reached its peak. I parked in the overflow just off the main drive and looked around for a spot to photograph from. I was drawn to a tree near the main lawn which was covered in golden brown leaves, just like the floor beneath it. Seconds later I was lying on the grass underneath said tree and focusing on the castle facade. The shooting angle was critical to the shot and the result I was aiming for - it worked well, as you can see here in the third shot.

As always, click on an image to reveal the enlarged version of it.

Thanks again for reading. I'll be back soon...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tyne-Tees Television - Parts 15 & 16

It's another video clip folks!
This is my fifteenth and sixteenth appearance of 2010 on Tyne-Tees Television's weather bulletin. This time it's a seascape, taken on the rocky foreshore at Dunstanburgh Heughs on the Northumberland Coast. Although it was a sunny day the conditions on the rocks were anything but ideal - I'll get swept away one of these days!

My photo appeared on TV the day after I submitted it, but it had been cropped (see clip one). Strangely enough they showed my original uncropped photo a few days later, which you can also see in the second video clip below.

Without further ado...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunrise, Littlehaven, South Shields

After my recent comeback in sunrise photography I was so pleased with the results that I just had to get out there again and get some more under my belt. Again it was decided that a visit to the north-east coast of England would be my best bet, so off I went. This time I shifted further up the coast from my previous sunrise shoot to a location in South Tyneside, a place called Littlehaven near South Shields. The harbour mouth is situated here and this is where the River Tyne meets the North Sea, with Tynemouth Priory sitting on the cliff edge directly opposite.

My visit wasn't a fruitful one to be honest. The sun was nowhere to be seen because of the thick cloud cover on the horizon, so I took a few shots just for the hell of it. The first shot (shown here) was one of my favourites from a half dozen half-decent ones. I used an ND grad to slow down the motion of the incoming tide, which is something I'm getting into a habit of doing more and more recently. Mind you, it seems to work quite well.

My second visit to Littlehaven was one of 'Unfinished Business' in a way. Not content with colourless photo's from my last visit a few days ago I was at it once again at the same spot. Today was a different ball game altogether. The sun came up shortly after 6am and it cast a brilliant orange hue over the water towards me. I was the only person on this stretch of beach near the Groyne Lighthouse which was a bit surprising considering what a lovely calm morning it was. Quite often you'll see dog walkers on the sand but today it was desolate. Never mind, I wasn't complaining.

Anyway, the second and third photo's on this blog entry were taken during my second sunrise shoot at Littlehaven and once again it was worth the effort in getting up very early to make it happen. I'm already planning another early start next week for more sunrise shots at Souter Lighthouse near Whitburn, Tyne & Wear. Let's hope I get another good one, eh.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Angel Delight

Hello again.
All of my recent photography has been either sunrise or sunset efforts, mainly due to the more convenient times when the sun appears and disappears at it's best. I'm not one for getting out of bed during the summer months at 3.00am to catch a sunrise - opting for a more sensible start during the later months of October onwards. As for sunsets, these times also vary, but at least you don't have too much inconvenience if the sunset isn't a good one.

It was early October 2010, Sunday evening and I was toying with a visit to the Angel Of The North, hoping for a decent sunset. I always tend to check the sky before making a final decision as this offers clues as to whether a potential 'Good one' is round the corner. A clear sky doesn't bode well for a dramatic sunset, although I've photographed a few decent ones - like this one.

Tonight there was a fair bit of cloud kicking about and I had high hopes of a visit that would be well worth the effort. The Angel Of The North is often the first place I visit when anticipating a good sunset. The location is entirely dependable on a good sky and a few visitors to include in the shot. I say this because everything else stays more or less the same during each visit. The static Angel obviously doesn't affect the shot but a sense of drama can be included by simply shooting from the best available angles. Being close up to the Angel and almost underneath it gives an impressive and dramatic angle to work from. I've found a couple of great spots to capture the sculpture and seeing the results in print just adds to the drama as the Angel towers above the lens.

During the year the sun sets in different positions along the horizon behind the Angel. This is ideal for photographers who can then capture the best angle of the Angel with the setting sun included in the shot. Because of the bright backdrop it's virtually impossible to balance the exposure and picking out detail on the sculpture itself, so a silhouette is normally the route to go down in such low-light conditions. From my main viewpoint I also had the silhoutted leaves on the nearby trees to add another dimension and these also 'Framed' the subject which was central in the finished shots.

Moving on to the subject of people - another important element in the shots. If you haven't visited the Angel Of The North you may well be unsure of its size. Scale is important in this type of shot as it answers the question by simply glancing at the photograph. Of course you don't get an exact size by comparing a persons size to the Angel itself, but you get a rough idea of what we're talking about.

There's been the odd occasion when I've visited the Angel and there's been hardly anyone else around. Not exactly ideal if you're wanting extra's in the shot. I was lucky tonight though as people were coming and going at regular intervals so all I needed now was that bit of drama in the sky - the main event, so to speak. The sun was very low as I took my first shots in continuous shooting mode and this gave me a batch of shots that I could cherry-pick from, singling out the best ones. A couple of lads passed me as they walked the path towards the Angel - I was now off and running.

Once the sun had set it was then a waiting game. The clouds above started to change colour and within a few minutes the sunset I had hoped for was right in front of me. Everything was in place by this time and the visitors were still offering that bit extra to my shots. The silhouetted extra's came in the shape of people, bicycles and dogs, but my favourite shot of the Angel included a young mother holding her young child, beneath the Angel itself. The silhouette was captured just as I had intended, with the mother looking at her young child during the dramatic burst of colour that lasted around ten minutes in total.

This was without doubt the best sunset I've witnessed at the site of the Angel Of The North. I'm now looking forward to sending some of these images to print and displaying them at their best - probably on A2 canvas.

I've lost count of the times I've made the fifteen minute car journey to the Angel Of The North, hoping for a dramatic sunset and not seeing one. The law of averages would probably state that I would eventually get my wish one day. Today was that day!
(click image to enlarge)


Sunday, 3 October 2010

Alarm Call - Time For Sunrise

Due to one thing or another I didn't attempt many sunrise shots last year, or the year before, as it happens. I remember a 5am start in Whitby not too long ago, in the hope of landing a few sunrise shots over the harbour, but that was about it.

It was time to put that right in 2010 as I tested my Canon 7D at low light once again. It had passed the test after dark on numerous occasions so now I wanted to get my first sunrise shots off my trusty little toy. Out came the tripod, the ND filters, the remote control...oh, and that big warm coat to keep the chill at bay. Having said that, it isn't even Autumn yet so the early morning temperatures aren't too bad compared to later months when Winter properly takes a hold.

The alarm clock went off at 4.45am, but who wants to get out of a warm bed at that time of morning eh. Aye, you've guessed it. A quick wash and a gob full of coffee then it was out of the door and away. The destination was local, very local, and twenty minute drive to the coast of Sunderland saw me parking up near Roker Yacht Club. The north sea was very calm and a mixture of clear sky and cloud cover gave me an indication that it might be a good sunrise. Of course, it was still early as I always set off with plenty of time to spare - there's nothing worse than turning up during a dramatic sunrise/sunset and missing the action by the time you've set your gear up.

The highlights on the horizon gave very strong clues as to where the sun was going to rise so it was then a simple case of picking my spot, and a foreground including Roker Lighthouse seemed the best bet all round. Anyway, I headed out onto the rocks to take up position as the incoming tide calmly swirled around my feet. I managed to get onto a concrete ramp but it was rather slippy and I didn't fancy going 'Arse over tit' so I stopped for a second and dropped the legs on my tripod. It comes in handy and doubles up as a walking stick now and again - I think it's known more commonly as improvisation, he he. And it certainly did come in handy, as I needed to get off that ramp quickly because the colours in the sky were now starting to show. I was now walking slowly to a spot just in front of me near the rocks - it was just what I wanted. I was stepping across the rocks that were covered in sea weed but it gave me extra grip, which helped a lot.

So, here I was and my gear was set up as the pinky-red hue in the sky got brighter and more colourful by the minute. Mirror lock, a four second exposure at f16, followed by a remote trip of the shutter and I was up and running. It was a good one alright - a mixture of warm colours with those dark rocks in the foreground. A few night fisherman were in position on Roker Pier in the background, especially near the lighthouse, and were seeing a fine sunrise in front of them.

Once the colours had burned out it was time for the sun to rise on the horizon behind the pier. I fired off a couple of quick shots before packing up and making the short walk back towards the yacht club. It was near here that I switched lenses, opting for a 70-200mm affair to pull in the subject. The lens was on loan as it happens and I only had use of it for a couple of days so it came in very handy just when I needed it. A small boat headed out into the harbour and was tethered to an anchored sailing boat. A few minutes later the sails were set and it was on the move. This time, facing the bright light of the sun, the camera was hand-held and I was off and running once again, grabbing a few shots of the boat as it left the harbour.

I must have grabbed around fifty shots in total from various positions. Here are some of my favourites from my first sunrise session of 2010. It was great to be back!
Hope you like them.
Thanks for reading,