Tuesday 18 September 2007
Wednesday 25 July 2007
I have a new piece of equipment to add to my kit list too - as Ben and my parents clubbed together to get me the external power pack to fit the 550EX flashgun. I've not really had the chance to do much with it yet, but the very quick play I had this morning suggests it's going to be a godsend. Fingers crossed (weather permitting!) I should get the chance to use it tomorrow evening at Ipswich. At a quick look this morning it seemed to suggest that it was going to reduce flash recycling time from somewhere around 6 seconds to about 2 seconds, which will make a huge difference to my speedway shots.
Managed to get the pictures from the wedding online earlier on - e-mailed my Auntie Sue (mother of the groom) straight away and got an e-mail back later in the day thanking me for them - she's clearly delighted with the results I got and says she thinks Helen and Mark will be over the moon too. Always nice when people are happy with what you've done!
Tomorrow is another day off work - the intention was that I was off to the Lowestoft airshow but at the moment the forecast makes it look rather like that might be a dead loss so I shall play it by ear tomorrow and see what I think as the day goes on. First stop will most likely be Foxhall to have a cuppa with Bob and drop off the Race jacket which is being auctioned for Mark Loram. That HAS to be there in time for 4th August, and as I shall be missing in action at GBBF for that one, best I take it tomorrow!
Monday 23 July 2007
Tuesday 17 July 2007
Another shot with the Macro lens - this was my pudding on Sunday lunchtime - fresh raspberries and ice-cream! I'd been working with the macro lens before we ate - shooting some of the flowers on the balcony and hoping to get the cat to pose for a few shots also, with little success! The camera was next to me on the table and I decided that before I finished the delicious bowlful I should see what a raspberry looked like in close-up! Here is the answer!
I'm still really enjoying experimenting with the macro lens - my downfall I suspect will be that I can only rarely be bothered to set up the tripod - I generally prefer the freedom of working handheld and of course with the extremely shallow depth of field on this lens that becomes very tricky. More planning needed, and to actually set aside "camera-time" when I want to work with it I think.
Sunday 15 July 2007
Monday 2 July 2007
Saturday 30 June 2007
Wednesday 27 June 2007
Extremely quick post just to put up the first result from my initial experiments with my new Macro lens. It's a Canon 100mm f2.8 USM and so far seem like it's going to be great fun, but also a big challenge, to use.
I shall no doubt - as someone said the other day - be "posting up random shots of things in close-up" over the next little while - enjoy!
Speedway as usual tomorrow night, and then the weekend is the big one - Cardiff for the Speedway Grand Prix. As ever I can't wait - it's always an excellent trip and this year we seem to have plenty of riders to support with Tomasz, Jarek, Hans and of course Britain's very own Chris "Bomber" Harris. There will be others as well no doubt but I suspect those will get the loudest cheers from our little contingent!
Monday 25 June 2007
Wednesday 20 June 2007
Another image from the East of England show on Sunday. These two goats seemed quite interested in the camera and had to come and investigate before they stood back and posed!
As usual the camera will be out again at speedway tomorrow night. The Witches are against Arena Essex (known as Lakeside unofficially these days) and the meeting will see the return of former witch Jesper B Jensen - something which most of us have been looking forward to for a long while! If nothing else it will add some much needed stability to the team - something which has been seriously lacking since Mark's crash in March.
Monday 18 June 2007
We headed off to the East of England Country Show yesterday. It was being held at the east of England Showground at Peterborough - the same venue as the peterborough panthers speedway track - in fact the showjumping pictured here was taking place on the centre green which was slightly surreal!
It was nice to be able to have another attempt at some showjumping shots - and in slightly friendlier weather than the glaringly bright sunshine at the Suffolk show the other week. I think I'm starting to get it cracked now - it's practise more than anything and I'd like to try and take in some more at some point later in the year. I still enjoy watching it from a "horse" perspective as well as a "photo" perspective.
One thing which did strike me as being glaringly obvious yesterday was that in spite of walking right round the showground in the course of the day there was not one single mention of the speedway ANYWHERE. Now I appreciate that the cost of a stand at the show almost certainly would be ruled out on basis of cost (although as the showground owners are the speedway's landlords, surely a subsidised deal could have been worked out?) but surely a sign somewhere along the line, or indeed a mention in the programme under "other events at the showground" in the same way that the local Rugby team had a one-liner in there? There are plenty at Ipswich who would have you believe that Colin Horton is some kind of speedway-superhero, but I have to say in the light of this I beg to differ. On passing the stadium on Foxhall road there are several references to the speedway on the outside, and if you attend the stadium for another event you enter right underneath a large photograph of Chris Louis in full flight with the "Ipswich Witches Speedway" banner attached. An excellent ad and one which it would be hard to miss!
Stepping down from my soapbox and veering onto a different subject - I'm hopeful that my newly ordered Macro lens should be with me some time this week. I'm really looking forward to having a go at some "real" macro stuff - I even bought some new plants at the weekend so I have something to practise on!
Saturday 16 June 2007
I spent abit of time around the main ring, and one of the most entertaining events of the day was the Double Harness Scurry racing final - boy oh boy can those little ponies shift! The team pictured emerged as eventual winners from an action packed final - don't they look magnificent in full flight?
My PhotoZone72 website will shortly be undergoing a refurb so keep an eye on that. At the moment text is being re-written, updated photos selected and options for a new background etc being considered by my excellent webmaster and good friend Ross of ABC Data Recovery - as soon as there is any news on the refurb being completed I will let you all know.
Wednesday 30 May 2007
Monday 28 May 2007
Sunday 27 May 2007
No! Not the more usual "Ooooh!" "Aaaaah!" type - but this rather lovely clematis from Mum & Dad's garden yesterday. I'd hoped to do some shots of the whole garden for Mum as it's looking lovely at the moment, but the weather wasn't being terribly kind to us and frankly some of the flowers were just begging to be photographed in macro mode as the cloud cover was giving some fabulously saturated colours. There may well be some other shots from the afternoon to come yet - our plans for the Hertfordshire County show today have been cancelled due to the appalling weather and we're not sure if it's going to improve enough to make Southend an option for tomorrow either - I might have a LOT of time on my hands ove the rest of the weekend. A good thing really - I was on the centre as usual at Ipswich on Thursday, and then again at Arena Essex on Friday - as Steve Waller was unable to attend that one I had the opportunity to be the "Away side approved photographer" for the night.
Wednesday 23 May 2007
As previously - this was with the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8. It's spent more time on the 30D (other than at speedway) than any other lens recently - it's a joy to use and SO sharp! I still think a macro lens will have to be added to the "prospective purchase" list though.
There will probably be more shots to come over the weekend - it's a long one with the bank holiday monday tacked on, and we are planning to be out most of the time I think! I went to the Suffolk show last year and enjoyed it and Ben has expressed an interest in going to something similar - so as it is the Hertfordshire county show on Saturday and Sunday we are intending to head there on the Sunday. It sounds like a "plenty to see and do" day out with all sorts going on. Then on Monday we're crossing our fingers for good weather for the Southend air show.
Second shot for tonight then - the lavender to the left has survived on the balcony against all odds pretty much since we moved into the flat. It's hit the floor a couple of times thanks to the kids with their footballs but so far has survived to tell the tale - and looks as pretty as ever this year with its beautiful flowers!
Wednesday 9 May 2007
I had a bit of time to fiddle around with some more holiday shots this evening. I've been playing a lot with HDR (High Dynamic range) images again - todays shot has been put through Photomatix and then finished in Photoshop. I'm not so keen on it as I was the first shot of Loch Carnan I posted, but it does represent a breakthrough for me in that I have managed to get directly to a mono result which I find pleasing, rather than my more usual fiddling about for hours without ever quite achieving what I was after.
The apparent "pile of stones" in the front of the shot is the ruined blackhouse I mentioned in my previous post. You can just imagine the occupants moving across into their lovely new modern whitehouse and looking out at their old dwelling.....
Monday 7 May 2007
This shot is going down well over at Talk Photography - I posted up the colour version
yesterday and was promptly inundated with people telling me I should pop it into
mono to see how it looked - here is the result!
This was taken on a lovely walk we found on South Uist - it took us across from Loch Carnan to the opposite side of Loch Skipport from our favourite spot at the Old Pier (see www.photozone72.co.uk for some shots of that) - it was nice to see the pier from a different perspective and on the way we came across an abandoned settlement including the ruins of the old school. Fascinating to see - but rather sad too thinking of all the people who would once have lived and worked there. Just in front of the house in the picture was the remains of the family's old blackhouse - they must have been so proud when they were able to move into the whitehouse in the picture - it would have represented a massive step up for them. Now it stands in ruins.
Saturday 28 April 2007
The Witches recorded their first league win of the season on Thursday night - a huge relief all round and all the more so with the return to form of our Captain Chris Louis, and also a first home race win from the young man pictured above - Marcin Rempala. Another night out on the centre for me......I've had every home meeting I've attended out there so far this season which has been great - I know my shots are improving as a result as once I've got the first few heats out of the way to make sure there's something for the website and something for the programme, I can experiment with settings and try out different ideas.
It's still a huge thrill for me being "involved" even just in a small way during meetings. Years ago when I used to take a camera to speedway I would have been astonished if anyone had told me that in a few years time I'd be a regular centre green 'tog and getting shots printed in the programme every week - amazing! Off to Wolverhampton on Monday night - I got approved for centre green access there last year so am hoping I can pull off the same again this time.
Tuesday 24 April 2007
Another shot from my attempts at macro at the weekend. I wasn't too keen on this one when I first looked at them, but the more I look at it, the happier I am with it. I'm pleased at the level of detail I've managed to get in the petals. The flowers were set up on our balcony in fairly bright sunshine with no additional lighting - with hindsight a light to the right hand side and slightly above might have brough out even more detail - one to consider trying next time! The camera was mounted on the tripod and the shots were taken using three different lenses - the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8m the Canon 50mm f1.8, and the Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO DG Macro.
Monday 23 April 2007
Well the holiday was excellent and there will be some shots from that to follow on here in a while. In the meantime though I'd like to share this - one of my first serious attempts at a macro style shot. Technically it can't be a true macro shot unless taken using a "proper" macro lens (macro lenses are capable of 1:1 reproduction) - this was taken using the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 which has good close focusing capabilities.
I think that a macro lens might have to go onto the wish list....!
Monday 26 March 2007
Yes, the last time I will post up a Hebridean photo either until we get back from this year's trip, or at the least until we are there if I can find an internet cafe that are happy to let me download pics from my laptop or HDD.
We head off on Friday afternoon - driving North via the east of the country and the A1. Cut across to the west and join the M6 near the Lakes, and continue up into Scotland stopping overnight at Stirling. On Saturday we keep going North west, via Fort William until we reach Uig on the Isle of Skye where our ferry to North Uist will sail from. We are then based on North Uist for the first week, before crossing from Berneray across to Leverburgh on Harris the following Saturday, and on up to Holm, near Stornoway for our second week. We're hoping for - although not expecting - some good weather. This time of year the Hebs usually get a good mix of sunshine and showers so fingers crossed for more of the former!
Saturday 24 March 2007
An horrific night of speedway on Thursday night - Entering the back straight for the first time in the opening heat, Reading's Sam Simota and our own Mark Loram tangled together and both smashed through the fence. Sam escaped with cuts and bruises but Mark was not so lucky - he is currently laid up in hospital with a badly broken leg and broken arm. This weeks speedway shot therefore is actually one I took last week - Mark in flying style on his way to scoring maximum points for the witches.
Mark was in his first season when I first went to speedway in 1987. I watched him race in my first ever meeting and have supported him ever since. In 2000 he was World Champion - the last Britain has provided to date. He has been British Champion on several occasions and has ridden in just about every country across the world where speedway has been heard of. He's one of the most exciting racers that you might have been lucky enough to have seen - rarely reaching the first bend at the front of the pack and invariably battling through from the back to earn his points and thrill the crowds at the same time.
Get well soon Mark.
Tuesday 20 March 2007
Speedway world champions that is, and all four from the USA.
This was taken at a very cold Monmore Green Stadium, Wolverhampton, on Sunday. Possibly the coldest weather I've ever encountered whilst watching speedway and certainly the only time I can ever recall seeing that amount of snow at a meeting! From nearest the camera you have Greg Hancock, Billy Hamill, Sam Ermolenko and finally Bruce Penhall.
Thanks to the terrible weather settings on the afternoon ranged from ISO100 at one stage in brilliant sunshine which left me struggling to keep shutter speeds down anywhere below 1/500th (really too fast for speedway) up to ISO1000 and not able to get anything quicker than 1/60th.
By way of a second shot - have a blizzard!
Sunday 18 March 2007
Saturday 17 March 2007
One of the few usuable ones from a disappointing trip to Arena Essex last night. In spite of being told we were cleared for the centre green beforehand myself and others were then told that we couldn't go out there after all, and instead we would have to shoot from the outside on the stock car track which, of course, precluded the use of flash. Very cross indeed but nothing we could do about it whatsoever. after firing off a few test shots I decided my only option was to shoot in RAW and try to drag some exposure back in processing, which is what I did.
The shot above was at ISO1600, 1/200th at f2.8. Thank goodness for the new lens!
Rugby this afternoon so there might be another post later on.
Well, it must be Spring now - speedway has started again! I now have a very steep learning curve to get used to the 70-200mm with it's considerable weight - after two days of using it I'm wishing I'd done a little more preparation work as my shoulders and back are rather stiff! I've had a good start to the season as I had centre green access at Foxhall last night (where the shot above was taken) and pits access at Arena Essex this evening. That was also meant to be full access to the centre as well but someone had a last minute change of heart which left four of us shooting from the outside and absolutely fuming!
The shot above is 1/200th at f2.8, ISO 400, using the 30D with the 70-200mm at the short end.
Wednesday 14 March 2007
These grave slabs are at St Clements church at Rodel in South Harris. We stopped here on the Saturday we went between the southern and Northern chain of islands, and found it to be a quite wonderful building.
This year we're aiming to spend at least one full day exploring a little more of Harris. We've stayed in Tarbert several times but other than that immediate area most of what we have seen has been just "passing through".
This weeks countdown post is a little earlier than usual as the speedway season has started again. With a little luck I might have some speedway shots to post here in the next few days, and if the weather stays fine I intend to take in some rugby on saturday!
Friday 9 March 2007
Well the holiday seems to be creeping up startlingly fast now! Just three weeks to go and we'll be on our way.
This weeks shot is "Hebrides" the ferry which travels between Uig on the Isle of Skye, and Lochmaddy on North uist, on which we will be crossing to the Islands again this year.
Caledonian MacBrayne (Or CalMac as they are usually known) run all the ferry services across to the Hebrides and we seem to have been on quite a few of their vessels now. Crossing from Uig has the advantage that the ferry port is right next to the Isle of Skye brewery - so we shall be "taking on supplies" while we wait for the boat!
Sunday 4 March 2007
This shot was taken on a walk along the beach at Holm on our first morning at Bayview last year. All the time we were out it kept showering and then stopping, showering and then stopping, until it culminated in one almighty downpour which left us soaked! The light rain coupled with the generally overcast conditions meant that the colours in the pebbles were absolutely amazing though.
It suddenly occurred to me the other day that after this one there will only be another 3 of these shots to be posted before we go away and start taking some new ones!
Sunday 25 February 2007
Another from yesterday - in fact on further examination I think this is my favourite of the set. I enquired from Ben whether in fact it's within the rules for the chap in red to the pulling the other chaps ear.....his response was to point out that as the ref was in a position from which he could not possibly see the action, whether or not it was within the rules was largely irrelevant!
Further purchases to add to the kit bag are now on the horizon. The Sigma 12-24mm lens I've been hankering after can just about be afforded now I think, and prior to us going on holiday I also need some filters to help sort out those (hopefully bright) Hebridean skies. Fingers crossed then that should pretty much be the end of the serious spending...for while, at least...!
Saturday 24 February 2007
My favourite from an afternoon watching our local side beat Rochford. It seemed sensible prior to the start of the speedway season that I got a bit of serious time in practising with the new 70-200mm lens. It so much heavier than anything else I've used and at the moment it really makes my arms and hands ache after a while of holding it.
This shot was utilising the 1.4TC as well to add even more weight. This was wide open at f4. 1/250th, ISO800.
...If anyone can identify this plant we'd be most grateful! It was taken on last year's trip, growing in the wall around the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, and so far nobody has been able to identify it. We even put the picture into my horticulture-mad Aunt's Christmas photobook in the hope that she would be able to shed some light but so far, no joy. One thing we know for sure is that it's not a sea-pink as the leaves are too fine and delicate.
Just five weeks until we're off there again now. Time truly seems to be flying by this year - we still have ferry tickets to organise so those will get bought in the next little while.
Wednesday 21 February 2007
One of my favourite shots from the day this one. I was squashed between a wall and a pillar in Trafalgar Square whilst we were watching the ceremonial bit happening on the stage. There was a chinese family in front of us and while I was getting this shot and also another of the lanterns and Nelsons Column they were sneaking looks at the LCD screen on the 30D and then trying to emulate the shots on their camera! Quite flattering!
This shot was taken with the 70-200mm Canon wide open at f2.8. I playing with the limited depth of field on this lens - and it's so sharp!
Sunday 18 February 2007
Or "Happy New Year" - Chinese New Year that is!
We headed up to London today for this - the first time I've actually made it for the parade etc. Quite simply a stunning spectacle - the parade was full of life and colour, the firework display was a total contrast to what we are used to - and VERY loud!
Plenty to keep me busy with the camera all day - I stuck to my current aim of shooting in RAW as much as possible and kept to it all day. I think it's having a positive effect too as I am being more selective over what I'm shooting. A year ago I would have come back from a trip like today with 200 shots or so - today it was 100 and a much higher proportion of keepers.
Saturday 17 February 2007
One thing that can't help but strike you about the Western isles - Lewis in particular - is the importance that most of the locals place on religion. Sundays are strictly a day of rest as this fishing gear lying idle at Stornoway harbour indicates, and visitors must take care to avoid causing offence by behaving inappropriately. What this means to us is that on arriving on Lewis
on the Saturday afternoon we must make sure that we have the shopping we require at very least for the next day - no shops will be open - and also that the car is full of fuel - no petrol stations either and petrol stations around Stornoway are noticeably busier last thing on a Saturday than at other times!
Perhaps the strangest thing is how fast we have forgotten what it was like to have Sunday as a more classic "day of rest". Regardless of your religious leanings (or non-leanings!) there is something very peaceful about not having "business as usual" for just one day out of seven.
Saturday 10 February 2007
This is Scolpaig Tower on North Uist, one of our favourite spots for photos. Each year we choose our evening with great care to make sure that conditions should provide a fairly colourful sunset,
and then don our wellies to paddle through the marsh to the edge of the loch ready for the light to go!
Thursday 8 February 2007
......about 6 inches of it in the end too! Heaviest snowfall I can remember since the early 90's, although it's not looking to last as long as that one as it was well and truly starting to thaw by the time I came home this evening. Couldn't get the car out of the lane to get to work until after lunch so I ventured across the road to the woods this morning for a few shots. With snow the trickiest thing is getting the exposure right and if I'm honest this one could have done with another third of a stop in-camera I think. Taken at ISO400, f8. Must get that Sigma 24-70mm off the camera at some point again - I'm sure it's glued itself on....!
Tuesday 6 February 2007
This was posted up on Talk Photography on Sunday evening and seems to have attracted an almost Marmite-esque reaction from those viewing it - pretty much an even split between those making appreciative noises and those saying that they wouldn't eat them if someone put a gun to their heads!
If you're not sure what you're looking at then they are cockles. Leigh on Sea is famous for its shellfish - particularly the cockles, and a trip there isn't complete without sampling some of the wares from the hugely popular kiosks on the main street.
Another shot using that Sigma 24-70 f2.8. I honestly feel that it's some of the best money I've spent as it's barely been off the camera in a week and a half!
Sunday 4 February 2007
This was Leigh on Sea on the Thames Estuary this afternoon. It's somewhere you often read about in connection with photography in East Anglia - the light is reckoned to be special there and from what I saw today I must admit I can see what they mean. The whole place has a somewhat old-fashioned feel to it with its traditional looking pubs, cobbled alleys and seafood sellers, hence the sepia treatment to this shot which I felt suited the subject and the place rather well.
Saturday 3 February 2007
Having accidentally stumbled across part of the Flitch Way last weekend we decided to head out that way again today. I have new walking boots to wear in before we go on holiday and we also felt it was a good idea to get ourselves back into the habit of doing some longer walks prior to that as well.
The church pictured above is All Saints at Little Canfield and was just a short detour off the path, but a well worthwhile one. There are a few more pictures from the day in my webshots album4 too (link to the right hand side of this posting).
Thursday 1 February 2007
This week I have been mostly.....reprocessing photos from our Hebrides trip last year! I've been working my way through the shots in the Hebrides group on Flickr (Click here to take a look at the photos there) and have been inspired to take a look at some of mine again through fresh eyes. The shot above is one of my favourites now and I can't believe I let it slip through the net all those months ago! This is the delightfully named Cheesebay on the North East coast of North Uist. We sat in the car there drinking tea - to my astonishment there was a mobile signal and I was able to catch up on the gossip from that afternoon's speedway meeting at Ipswich from Ross!
Sunday 28 January 2007
...passed through this station in 1969, after which the lines were torn up and the railways converted to a public footpath, the "Flitch way" - running from just short of Bishops Stortford in Herts through to Braintree in Essex. This old station at Rayne is now a visitors centre telling people about the footpath and providing information for those passing by. By the time we arrived there - we chanced upon it by accident really - the light was fading fast and so I decided to take three bracketed RAW shots and combine them into a High Dynamic Range or HDR image. What you see above is the result. Taken with the new Sigma 24-70mm.
Friday 26 January 2007
Home sweet home.....well, it will be for a week again anyway! This is Bayview Cattage, three miles outside Stornoway which is the only town of any size in the Hebrides. The cottage is lovely - although small, it's still plenty big enough for the two of us for a week, and the Rayburn stove - once you get to grips with it - produces bucket loads of warmth which is an important factor in the Hebs in April! Oh, the view out over the bay isn't bad either....!
Tuesday 23 January 2007
Well my new lens arrived today. Very impressed with CameraWorld in the end - I'd certainly recommend anyone to try them as their prices are fairly competitive and they really know their stuff!
The shot above was taken at lunchtime - it's the centre of a table at the country park when I often eat my lunch and the graphic lines and grain of the wood really appealed. It seemed like the ideal shot to try out the nice large max aperture (f2.8) on the lens and also its close-focusing abilities! Camera in AV mode, Aperture at f2.8. ISO200. converted to mono in photoshop.
Monday 22 January 2007
One from yesterday evening after we got back from Maldon. Taken from the hill on the Common along from Mum & Dad's - I intended to take some shots of the moons but it was way too cold to be able to stay up there for long and I took this one first. This was the first time I've used the tripod for anything more than setting up to try it out, and I must say that I'm impressed. It'll take a bit of getting used to to get the fine tuning right I think.
Tomorrow's shot should with luck be one with the new lens - fingers crossed CityLink turn up before lunchtime!