Showing posts with label whitley bay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label whitley bay. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Another Moonrise Attempt - St. Mary's Lighthouse

Hello again!

Another short write up, about my September visit to the outskirts of North Tyneside and another well known landmark - St. Mary's Lighthouse, near Whitley Bay.

It was another one of those full moon occasions, when you rely on those trusty smartphone apps to give you a few pointers regarding location, weather conditions, tide times, etc. It was a Friday evening and I headed off with good intentions of putting together a vlog (video blog), which is something I don't usually dabble in, but on this occasion I thought I'd give it a bash. I set up my GoPro in the car, en route, finding myself prattling on about the task ahead. The journey to St. Mary's lasted around 35 minutes. I parked up on the cliff top, near Old Hartley, which is a five minute walk to the rock shelf below, where I intended to shoot from. Only thing was, I hadn't given myself a great deal of time to prepare, so I ditched the GoPro and got myself down the steps and onto the beach, as the moon was about to rise. Ideally I should have set away earlier and gave myself plenty of time to continue my vlog as I set up my gear, but alas my planning was rather piss poor, so I stuck to the task of concentrating on my photography instead.

I grabbed a couple of shots as the moon rose on the horizon, then I shuffled around for the next 15 minutes, positioning myself in the ideal spot to get exactly what I wanted. Obviously the main objective was to align the lighthouse with the moon, which I managed to do before the detail in the moon burned out. It was another one of those 'Blink and you'll miss it' moments, or so it seemed. These occasions fly by in no time.

Again, I 've uploaded a screenshot from my Photographers Ephemeris app, which shows the location and moonrise, in relation to where I was standing to land my shots. This app is worth its weight in gold for tasks like this!

Thanks again for visiting!


Friday, 8 January 2016

Welcome to 2016, Aurora Style!

Hot on the heels of my last blog entry is another Aurora experience to share on my blog page. The Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, made it's last appearance of 2015 and a first for 2016, a spectacle that coincided with a firework display at midnight to see in the new year. And what an experience it was! Throughout the day of December 31st, Aurora prediction alerts were bombarding my mobile phone via an app, grabbing my attention once again. Being New Years Eve and all, any chance of getting out with the camera would usually be a bit tricky due to other commitments, but this time round no plans were made in advance, so a couple of hours were spent on the causeway at St. Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, in anticipation of seeing a show that was worthy of a New Year's Eve/Day spectacular. And it certainly didn't disappoint. What a way to see in the new year. Does it get much better than this?

Well, once again it was a case of 'Suck it and see'. My last blog entry covered the 'Dunstanburgh Aurora Chase' that never really materialised, despite the KP8 predictions and the BZ reading hitting South in a massive way. So would the New Year;s Eve bash follow suit? Time to find out. Upon arrival I was amazed to see the car park almost empty, but when checking out the night sky it quickly beacame apparent as to why that was. The clouds were calling all the shots once again as the weather front ruled. At this point I'm thinking ' we go again, Dunstanburgh part 2'. The wind was strong too, as I stood at the causeway at high tide, looking across to the Lighthouse. A northerly direction held no clues at this point as to whether the Aurora was about to kick off. Above the horizon it was completely clouded out and I wasn't too impressed. another photographer showed up at this point - Jake Cook. We chatted for a while, which was the only option, before heading back to our cars to play the waiting game. It was nice to get out of the cold for a while, with the heaters on full pelt, checking Facebook for any Aurora sightings in the area. Twenty minutes passed and suddenly there was a loud knock on my car window. Why man.....ah neely shat me'sel!!!!!!  It was Jake Cook, I rolled the window down and he showed me a photo on his camera that he had just taken. The Aurora was showing. That was it. Leaving our cars behind we were back on the causeway within a matter of seconds!

Within twenty minutes a green glowing arc could be seen on the horizon, stretching across the sky behind the lighthouse. The camera was working at this point. Can't be missing any of the action eh. The word Aurora must have spread quickly, as car after car arrived at St. Mary's. It wasn't long before the place was crawling with photographers, all keen to bag a slice of the action. A few of them joined us on the causeway, including Alison Leddy, who I hadn't previously met but had seen many of her fine photographs on the TV and internet. I did have one previous 'encounter' with Alison back in 2014 - click here to find out all about it.

On the stroke of midnight the sky was filled with fireworks and everyone around wished eachother a Happy New Year. The noise from the fireworks added to the atmosphere as well as the obvious colour in the sky behind us. However, the midnight firework spectacle that was got out played by the Aurora to the north. What was the chance of that happening? This was undoubtedly the most eye-catching Aurora chase I've been involved in during my relatively short 18 months involvement in the game. It doesn't come any better than this - does it? And on that note I shallwith everyone a belated Happy New Year. All the best!


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Old Hartley, Whitley Bay (Part 1)

The Christmas holiday period presented opportunities for me to capture sunrises on the North-East coast, so I ventured out to new territory to do exactly that, and as a result it proved a very wise move. St Mary's Lighthouse, just north of Whitley Bay, has been a fairly regular haunt of mine of the last few years, particularly at sunrise, and although I've had my fair share of false dawns during this time, I've been lucky to capture one or two cracking red skies before the sun rose over the North Sea. It's pot luck, to be honest, but you've got to be in it to win it, as someone once said. The law of averages would give a firm impression that from six visits you are likely to see between one and two good sunrises, and by this I'm expecting good colour and cloud formation, as well as seeing the sun as it rises on the horizon. Low cloud cover often scuppers this.

And so, to my first ever visit to Old Hartley, a small bay between St Mary's Island and Seaton Sluice. A short walk from the small car park on the cliff top led me towards the steep concrete steps where I gained access to the beach. Not a great deal of sand to be had, as rock formation covered the majority of the bay. And if it's good rock formation you're after for detailed foreground interest, it doesn't come much better than this. By the time I arrived the tide was on its way back in and around half way. Because of this I was able to get out and explore the flat table of rocks to my left, which stretched out quite far and despite the incoming tide there it was safe enough to spend some time out there without being cut off. A couple of photographers appeared shortly after I had set my gear up. There was also one or two silhouetted figures on the cliff tops, crouched behind tripods and waiting for the sun to show up.

A warm yellow glow on the horizon behind the lighthouse was enough to get my firing off my first shots. At this point I could tell it was going to be a productive morning and the best was yet to come. As sunrise drew ever closer the colours in the sky were continually changing, especially 5-10 minutes before sun up when a nice pink/red hue took over the clouds. And it wasn't long before the sun made its appearance. At this point I headed out onto the flat rocks to get a better view of it. I was mindful of the incoming tide and made a decision to keep things brief. I'd been at Old Hartley for a good 90 minutes and pulled in some nice shots, especially the first half dozen efforts of the morning. I imagine this place will be a regular haunt in future and I look forward to photographing the same location later in the year when the sun rises further north. I'll keep you posted on any developments.
Hope you like these shots...
Cheers, Ash


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

St. Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

It's time to unveil my latest sunrise photographs, taken at St. Mary's Lighthouse, near Whitley Bay. I know I've mentioned this once or twice previously, and I'll make this one the last - it was at this location that my Canon 5D2 bit the dust on the rocks after a gust of wind. The tripod blew over as my back was turned and the rocks did the rest. I was out of action for 5 weeks, during which time my camera was away for repair and it never returned, deemed 'Beyond economical repair'. My insurance company replaced the camera with a brand new 5D3, much to my disappointment... NOT!  I was chuffed to bits. Everyone loves a happy ending. And so the new chapter begins. The 5D2 was my dream camera, so when I finally got my hands on one I was a very happy bunny. 5D3 was always a pipe dream, until now. Getting my hands on this spec was more than I ever imagined and it's fair to say I have now reached the top of the tree, camera wise. It's now up to me to get the very best from it's capabilities. It's gonna be a challenge and I don't feel as if I'm punching above my weight, not at all. Let's just see what's round the corner...

As I get to grips with all my new camera has to offer, it seemed a good idea to return to the fateful location that is St. Mary's Lighthouse. A kind of unfinished business, shall we say. A summer sunrise and a 3.30am alarm call. Now that was a first. I had only had two hours sleep after a late Saturday night, so I was rather knackered as I drove out of Houghton toward the A19 and Tyne Tunnel. Arriving at St. Mary's at 4.40am in time for a 5.00am sunrise, there was already colour showing in the sky and I was hopeful of even more as shooting time approached. There was one other guy on site, already set up and pulling in shots. He warned me that the tide was rapidly incoming, so I kept out of wet reach and opted for safe haven on the causeway steps as the sun was about to rise. I dotted about, not wanting to bag a whole set of shots from one viewpoint. And here is a small selection of them. A stunning light show and what a way to return to a location which holds bad memories of my last visit, now banished and well forgotten, judging by the shots shown here.

Cheers, Ash

Friday, 20 September 2013

Out And About In The Sun

As Summer comes to a close and we head towards Autumn, this seems like a good time to show you a few of my recent photographs that were taken in the sun. I was out and about with the camera on a number of days, mainly on the doorstep, and occasionally off the beaten track. I found myself visiting places that I used to tread many years ago, when I lived at South Hylton, during the 80's and early 90's. Places like Cox Green, Hastings Hill and Offerton were regular haunts back then, so it was nice to take a stroll down Memory Lane, after a long absence. As well as these local haunts I also visited a couple of places in County Durham, on the way back from a camping trip in the Lake District (more of that coming soon). Egglestone Abbey and Bowes Museum are located near Barnard Castle, and a quick stop off provided a chance to grab some nice postcard type shots, so I made the most of that. Another stop off, after an early morning drive to Bamburgh, had me calling in at Blyth Beach to see the colourful huts along the promenade. Clear blue skies were on show, offering an ideal backdrop for a quick shot or two, so I didn't hang about. And finally, moving slightly further down the coast, I found myself at St. Mary's Lighthouse. Not much else to say, other than here are the photo's...

Until the very next time...

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham

Egglestone Abbey, County Durham

Foxcover Lane, Nr Hastings Hill, Sunderland

Beach Huts, Blyth, Northumberland

River Wear @ Cox Green

St. Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

TV Weather shots (Parts 63-66)

Hello again.
Here is my latest batch of Weather Shots that were shown on local TV recently. As usual, each shot is presented as a short video clip, taken directly from TV and converted for use in the blog video player (below). Today marks a slight change from the norm as I bring you my first ever BBC Weather shot!
Up to now all of my previous weather shots were shown on Tyne-Tees Television, all 62 of them, but I decided to try my luck with BBC and it worked out well. A recent camping trip on August Bank Holiday weekend gave me an opportunity to do my first ever sunrise shoot in the Lake District, which I grabbed with both hands. I captured what I consider to be one of my finest landscape shots I have ever taken, at Buttermere. A full blog entry of my camping trip will appear here soon.

Weather shots in the video player below are -
63. Roseberry Topping, Great Ayton
64. St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay
65. South Shields Sunrise
66. Buttermere, Lake District


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Black & White Photography

Wot, two blog updates in as many days! I guess it must be pissing down outside!!!
Oh dear, the colourful language raises its naughty head again, tut tut. Of course, pun intentional, as this latest blog entry has nothing to do with colour, unless of course I refer to grey scale, also known as Mono, but more commonly referred to as Black & White. I've never been a big fan of this type of photography to be honest, but lately I've been dabbling more and more with B/W conversions, and quite liking the end result. A big part of a good conversion is picking a suitable image to begin with. Many images simply won't work, so get your selection right and you're half way there. I cherry picked a few recent shots of mine before giving them the B/W treatment, and I'm well satisfied with their 'New look'. The majority of these shots were captured on dull, cloudy days, which is a good start as a lack of available colour generally has me pointing in the direction of B/W anyway, coupled with the fact that these moody skies often add a sense of drama to the shot, lending themself to B/W more than colour. Another slice of criteria is contrast - I tend to favour strong contrast in B/W conversions and always look at the depth of shadow and highlight before making a decision whether to 'Convert' or 'Back heel' the image I am considering for use. Thinking rationally, if it doesn't work in colour then there's only one path to go down. I choose to do my B/W photography in post processing, rather than capture it at source with the aid of Yellow, Orange and Red filters. Traditional methods, such as the Y/O/R filter route, were the only way to achieve true B/W shots before the introduction of digital camera's, but now it's a whole new ball game when you can easily lay your hands on a decent editing suite such as Photoshop. The end result, with the help of Photoshop is just as pleasing on the eye and it's a lot cheaper than shelling out on expensive B/W filters (that is, providing you have a copy of Photoshop that you managed to download for free!). Did I really say that? (wink).

And now to the business end of this blog entry - the photo's. Here is a small selection of B/W images by yours truly. Don't forget to click them for enlargements. The list is as follows...

1. Tynemouth (above)
Standing on the pier next to the Groyne Lighthouse, Littlehaven, I waited a few minutes for the arrival of the Amsterdam-bound ferry, which eventually arrived on schedule.  Plenty of great detail in the sky!

2. Tynemouth 2 (above)
As the ferry approached the Groyne Lighthouse at South Shields, I waited til it sailed alongside, then I tripped the shutter.

3. Transporter Bridge, Middlesborough
Positioned on the south side of the River Tees. Some nice foreground interest, and the Transporter Bridge dominating the shot. Not too much sky detail in this one.

4. Temenos, Middlesborough
A dramatic artwork on the banks of the Tees, with the Transporter Bridge in the background.

5. River Tyne, Gateshead Quays
I shot through a glass partition to get this one. A storm was brewing, as you can see in the distant black clouds. The rain was well and truly on its way...

6. Baltic Arts Centre, Gateshead Quays
And the rain soon fell! I took the lift from the viewing terrace back to ground level, which took no more than half a minute. Within this short space of time the heavens had well and truly opened. Seeking shelter in the Baltic doorway, I grabbed this shot, with like-minded folk opting to stay dry.

7. Roseberry Topping, Near Great Ayton, North Yorkshire
(as featured in my last blog entry). Works well in B/W. I quite like the added effect of the overhanging tree, which almost 'Frames' the iconic hill in the background.

8. St.Mary's Island, Whitley Bay
And finally, an experimental shot. Taken in broad daylight with a shutter speed of 45 seconds!!!!
An ND filter was applied to achieve an extra long exposure time, thus smoothing out the water in the process. A very dull and overcast day, with very little detail in the sky, Poor conditions for my type of photography, but you have to make the most of what you've got to play with, and on this occasion I landed a decent shot...
And that's all for now. I'll be back colour!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lee Filters On Test

Hello again!
More low-light photography comes your way after I made a recent trip up the coast to St Mary's Lighthouse, near Whitley Bay. This location was featured on my Blog not too long ago, and once again I have more Sunrise shots to share. The alarm clock called out at 5am and a cold wash had me awake in no time, before I necked a cup of coffee and left the house. St Mary's is approximately 35 minutes from home, passing through the new Tyne Tunnel before heading down to Tynemouth and coninuing along the coast road. Passing Cullercoats I saw the first colour breaking through on the horizon, which is what you hope for on a freezing cold morning like this. Not many folk around at this hour, just the odd dog walker and a couple of photographers with tripods - must be mad! Today though, it was time to give my Lee Filters a run out - something of a rarity, which I need to address after paying an arm and a leg for them. The set comprises of 3 Neutral Density Grad's - a 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 - or 1 stop, 2 stops and 3 stops, whichever you prefer. Basically, each filter is clear at the bottom and dark at the top, the shading is graduated and fades out in the middle of each filter, allowing you to balance exposure between the highlights and shadows of your chosen subject. The filters are ideal for Sunrise shots, especially when you have a colourful sky at the top of your frame and darkened rocks at the bottom. Metering off the foreground rocks will expose perfectly for particular area of the shot, but will in turn burn out the detail in the sky. That's where the grads come in handy. After selecting the correct strength filter (based on the difference in f-stops between the dark and bright areas, the filter is then positioned over the highlights in the sky to 'Hold back' the detail in it. Just for the record, the filters are made of resin and are calibrated precisely to reduce the amount of light by either 1,2 or 3 stops - they measure 150x100mm and are dropped into a filter holder (Lee Foundation Kit) that is fitted to the lens. The dark portion of the filter is positioned carefully over the sky to retain detail. In the first two photo's shown here, the rocks and sky are exposed very well, but because of the big difference in f-stops between the two, I had to use two filters together, a 0.9 and 0.6 soft grad, stacked in the holder. Shutter speed was down to 5 seconds for these two shots, so naturally a tripod and remote release switch came into play. The tide was in when I arrived but it seemed to retreat quickly enough, allowing me to pick my spot on the rocks as I shot towards the Lighthouse. The sun rose over to my right, almost out of shot, but I managed to get some colour without panning to far across and losing St Mary's Island altogether.
Feet were stone cold, icicles began to form on the owld snozz, but there was work to be done so I persuaded myself to stop being a pussy and continue the task in hand. And no Blog entry of mine would be complete without a mention of food and drink at some point. As the sun came up and the colours faded I began to limber up for a pit-stop at McDonalds, on the nearby Silverlink. I could almost taste that double sausage n' egg McMuffin and the hot coffee!
Half a dozen photographers were scattered around me, as I packed up my gear and headed onto the sand. I felt I had the best spot out of all of us, so it was worth scrambling down the muddy bank onto those rocks, even though the tide was swirling around below. Fearless photography and all that - or am I just an idiot who puts his camera first? My last offering is a panoramic effort. Well, not strictly true - I simply cropped the top and bottom to create that format after deciding the bulk of the detail lay in the middle portion of the frame. Some nice subtle colour in the sky, coupled with the ancient groynes that add some interest to the right-hand side of the shot, with the focal point being St Mary's Island itself. And that's about all folks - another early start that saw me get to grips once again with those trusty Lee Filters. I feel that I haven't given them a proper run as such, and will use them heavily in the coming weeks and months, along with a new filter that I've just invested in - a Lee Filters 'Big Stopper'. For more details click here.
I ordered this one six months ago and have just recently received it, due to the long waiting list from the supplier. Most definately the most sought after filter in the world! Lets see what I can do with the 'Big Stopper', eh.
See ya soon. AC

Friday, 16 December 2011

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

At this time of year my low-light shots always seem to take precedence over any other photography I have planned, mainly due to the short days and convenient times when the light is low. I recently turned out at St Mary's Island, on the Northumberland Coast near Whitley Bay. Another early rise and a 25 minute journey via the Tyne Tunnel to this coastal haunt that has become more of a regular thing for me during recent weeks. Today was one of those disappointing days when the sunrise wasn't a sunrise and drizzle was most definately drizzle - a wipe out in photography terms and certainly not what I was hoping for. I'm sure those people at the Met Office have inside information of when I'm planning a trip up the coast as they always say the right things but the weather on the actual day is quite often a far cry from their earlier prediction. Maybe these weather apps for mobile phones aren't what they're cracked up to be, eh. Ah well, with a 'No Show' from Mr Sun it was a simple case of taking a few photo's for the sheer sake of it, so here are a couple of efforts from last Sunday's visit. I wasn't aware that St Mary's Lighthouse was lit up during the night and this was the first time I'd actually seen it in artificial colour. The tide was very low so the causeway was accessible, although I only photographed from the first half of it and went no further. This is the point where small pools of sea water offer reflection and this lends some content to the shot, rather than a messy foreground, which would have definately been the case with a clutter of rocks without the water. I was the only mug on site today! The last few times I've been here there's been at least 3 other people following suit, but not today folks - just the one 'Muggins' flogging a dead horse, he he. Aye, just wait til the next time though - I'll show ya how it's done (wink). The best part of my 30 minute stay was getting back into the car and opening a flask of coffee. The accompanying Mini Roll made the experience even better, so I sat there and indulged - this was as good as it got, unfortunately. Thank god for Mini-Rolls and allowing myself to be very easily pleased.

The heaters were on and I left the scene. Ah well, with this one behind me I have a feeling I'll hit the bullseye next time. Rough with the smooth, and all that jazz...

Until then, AC

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Whitley Bay Sunrise

It's been a few months since I captured my last sunrise shots, so with those very early Summer starts out of the way it seemed like as good a time as any to get back into it. From October onwards you can catch a good sunrise at a sensible time where you're not setting the alarm clock between 3 and 4am - the silly hours! Mind you, when you have the option of lying in a warm comfy bed, versus getting out of it on a freezing cold winter morning to take sunrise shots, well...some folk might say it's a 'No brainer'. But, anyone who's done sunrise before will tell you there's only one way to get those nice 'Crack of dawn' shots, and that is to get out there bright and early and do the necessary. Any dedicated photographer would not think twice about an early rise if he or she thought there was a good chance of bagging some good sunrise shots, and that's where I'm at these days, the alarm clock is only 'Enemy' on work days, he he (wink). That said, there's been a few times when I've turned out and there's been no sunrise to be had. Low cloud cover often kills the opportunity stone dead, so best do your homework the night before. I always check the weather forecast, sunrise times and tide tables so I can plan where I intend to visit the following morning, based on the information gathered.

Today I visited St. Mary's Island near Whitley Bay on the Northumberland Coast. This is a very photogenic part of the North-East coast and one that I've visited a handful of times in the past. The lighthouse is the focal part of this location and it dominates the stretch of coastline and can be seen from many miles away. The lighthouse is accessible via a causeway when the tide is low, but cut off once the tide returns. The rocks around the lighthouse are a minefield if you aren't wearing appropriate footwear at low tide, but on the plus side they come in handy when you're after some foreground interest. I came equipped with me wellies so I had no problems in that department. So, all I was waiting for was a good sunrise. The key to a good shot lies in the actual sunrise itself and the colours it presents, not only as the sun rises, but during that fifteen minute window beforehand. I was set up and raring to go, working with the following equipment...

Canon 7D body

18-135mm EF-S lens

Manfrotto tripod

Manfrotto ball & head grip

Lee foundation kit

Lee soft graduated ND filters, 0.3, 0.6, 0.9

Wireless remote control unit

(oh, and a Snickers bar!)

The first shot I took was captured shortly before sunrise. Taking my base exposure from the foreground sand, I then took a reading from the brightest part of the sky and made a mental note of the difference in f-stops. I knew that no compensation for the difference would burn out the detail in the sky completely, so out came the filters. I attached the filter holder to begin with, using a 67mm adaptor ring and screwing it into the lens thread. Then the filters came into play as I dropped in a combination of 0.9 and 0.6 Neutral Density grads. A quick test shot gave me the result I was waiting for - this is the actual test shot (above, shot 1). Both filters were positioned just above the horizon to hold back the detail in the sky. It worked quite nicely.

My second shot was taken a few minutes after sunrise - this was from a different spot, further back near the ageing wooden groynes that head out to sea. This is where those wellies came in handy as I was more than ankle-deep in sea water - something that the other photographers nearby never had the privelege of. Slippery seaweed lay underfoot at almost every step, so I was more than aware that falling flat on my arse was more than a possibilty as I negotiated the rocks in search of more angles to shoot from. My final viewpoint was right back off the rocky foreshore, next to the wooden groynes. The fractured rocks in front of me drew me instantly into my next shot. By this time the sun had been up around 15 minutes so the light had changed dramatically since my arrival at 6am. The 0.9 grad was removed and I was now running with only the 0.6 as the foreground base exposure was much lighter due to the sun hitting the rocks directly in front of me. This composition took in everything that was on offer - I quite like this one, although once again there was another shift in detail where the sky is concerned. Not much in the way of colour, just a bland greyish sky with highlights to the far right. The foreground makes up for this though in a busy kind of way. It wasn't long before I called it a day and went back to he car where a nice flask of coffee was waiting for me. I sat guzzling away in an attempt to warm myself up whilst listening to Smooth Radio before heading back home via the Tyne Tunnel. And so, my first sunrise shots for over six months and now, with the addition of my new Lee Filters, I'm looking forward to lots more early rises to improve my technique in this kind of photography. I'm already planning a visit to Bamburgh Castle, further up the Northumberland coast, probably around late October 2011. Until then I'll leave you with these three shots, which are hopefully just the start of a new collection of sunrise photography that will only get better.

Throws down the gauntlet...

Thanks for visiting.