Saturday, 10 May 2008
Witches flying high...
Sunday, 4 May 2008
All the fun of the fair
Ben and I added a new piece of kit to our bag yesterday with the purchase of a second-hand Canon EOS 20D. It's pretty much a carbon copy of my 30D - just without spot-metering and third-stop ISO adjustment, and with a slightly smaller screen. For a while now we've noticed that we tend to have our long lenses on the cameras a fair amount when we're out and about, leading to us missing shots which could have been better captured with a shorter focal length. We also had a bit of a scare with the D30 the other week - now sorted out - which left me feeling that I would be "safer" with a more up to date body as a back-up. The intention is that as well as using the 20D as a shared body when we're both out, I can use it as an additional at speedway, saving me needing to change lenses as often - not a bad thing in such a dusty environment. MPB Photographic of Brighton impressed me a huge amount - they were easy to deal with, and their kit is exactly as described. I'd certainly use them again in the future. Having picked up the camera, I took it for a wander along Brighton Pier in order to check it out and get all the custom settings sorted out - judging by this shot, it certainly handles colour well enough!
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
The nifty-fifty project - part 2.
I had to go into London on Friday - some site visits to be done, so as is my usual habit I tucked the camera into the bottom of my bag. Well, you never know what you might find, do you? I decided to attach the 50mm f1.8 to have a go at stage 2 of the project I've set myself - namely to spend some time with ONLY that lens to use, in order to make me think more about composition etc. Actually, that's a lie. There wasn't much space in the bottom of the bag and the nifty was the only lens that would comfortably fit whilst still allowing me to carry notebook, toe-capped boots etc.....
As lunchtime beckoned I found myself on the way back to Kings Cross to get back on the tube - it seemed like the ideal opportunity to spend an hour working on another little project I've been thinking about for a while - a wander around St Pancras (St Pancras International as I believe we are now supposed to call it). St Pancras is probably my favourite building in the capital. The outside is stunning - OTT architecture at its very best. The inside has been fairly sympathetically treated - heavy use of glass doesn't exactly suit the character of the building but does at least enable you to see through to the finer parts of the structure from almost wherever you are in the upper part of the station. The brickwork is now as clean as the day it was built and the roof-supporting ironwork has been restored to it's sky-blue painted glory. That is presumably what John Betjeman's statue is regarding - and well he might as it's quite a sight to behold. Betjeman has a special reason to look in awe though - he was in part responsible for saving the magnificent building from being demolished when the idea was mooted in the 1960's. Good on you Sir - I'm very glad you did!
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Thought it was about time the 100mm f2.8 Macro lens saw some action again, and buying a couple of plants for the garden yesterday was all the inspiration I needed to get me going! I love doing macro stuff, but, as I have commented on before, often seem to lack the patience that it demands. Insect photography is beyond me for that reason, if no other - after the little bugger flying off for the fifth time just as I was ready to shoot I'd give up and go in for a cup of tea! These two were both shot using manual focus - AF with the macro lens doesn't really work so well. Settings for the first were f5.6, 1/60th second exposure , and the second - F11, 1/10th second exposure. ISO was 200 for both, as the light wasn't as good as I would have liked.
Anyway - the two pictures posted are both of Aquilegia - but quite different flowers as you can see. I also have a beautiful mauve and white one which I may try and do some shots with in due course. I did try a few this morning but got nothing that I felt was up to standard. Now all I have to do is to decide which of these two images I'm going to use as my pc desktop.....oh, and plant them in the garden, of course!
Sunday, 20 April 2008
Thursday, 17 April 2008
The nifty-fifty project.....part 1
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
We went up to London on Sunday to watch - and photograph - the marathon. Mindful of the fact that the best pictures tend to be got early on, before the streets get too clogged with the "fun" runners, we arrived at Westferry DLR and walked along the route to our spot of choice, which was delightfully free of crowds and remained so for the entire morning! (no, I'm not saying where, you think we want everyone turning up there next year?!). As always the wheelchair race provided some great shots - as did some of the "Backroom" staff - more of those shots in due course, perhaps.
Kit-wise it was a pretty simple decision to settle on my standard kit. I started off with the 70-200 f2.8 - with which the shot above was taken - before switching to the 24-70 f2.8 when the course got busier and we started walking around. Once the bulk of the runners had passed us, we headed off along to the South bank (via a pub for a pint and a sandwich whilst my rather damp 30D dried out a little and all its buttons started working again!) and the nifty-fifty got an outing shooting the grafitti and the skateboarders down there. I also got some new shots of the London Eye using that lens - the first time I've shot it using that one, and it certainly put a different perspective on the subject and made me work a bit harder for the shots!
Saturday, 12 April 2008
Ducking and diving...
Anyway, today we finally got around to a visit to our extremely local RSPB reserve - Rye Meads - and what a lovely place it was. There are various different "trails" to walk, with hides along the way so you can get a closer look at some of the birds. We saw lots of different species, although sadly the Kingfisher was making himself scarce today. I did get a glimpse of a Great Spotted Woodpecker though - forst one of those I've ever seen. Also got another look at the little chap above - he's a Little Grebe, and we first saw one just a few weeks back on the Loch at Carinish.
All in all I'm delighted with the lens - even once I'd added the 1.4x Teleconverter the IQ seems to be superb, and the Autofocus is lightning fast. Definately money well spent!
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
Time to experiment a little...
Back out on the centre for the final few heats and for me this is time to play about a bit - hence the posted picture. I like to try to get something a bit "different" - the shot above was with the flash turned off, and shot at 1/80th, f2.8. Heat 15, and either jubilation all round as the witches rack up some vital points, or crestfallen faces and a downbeat atmosphere if things haven't turned out so well. For me it's time to get packed up before heading up to the bar for a bit of a gossip and the "post mortem" on the meeting. Then it's home (about an hour and a quarter for me!) and time for bed - none too soon!
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
"Postcard" when translated from Gaelic! In the bookcase in the cottage is a great selection of books - from novels to guide books. The night before this picture was taken I had been browsing through a book of old postcards of the Western isles, so when at the end of road we'd just driven along, we found this little cottage with the sheep taking shelter from the wind in front of it, I knew exactly what I wanted from the shot! Processing was fairly straightforward - convert to Sepia, levels, and then a touch of grain added to give that "film" feel. Finally a quite search for just the right font for the wording.
Apparently I have a reader in the USA - Hello to Phyllis!
Monday, 7 April 2008
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Spring has sprung!
It was the first time we'd really noticed the change in the season - buds are breaking all over the place and this back-lit leaf burst caught my attention. Meanwhile, the squidgers attention was being caught by the bag of Monkey nuts being carried by Ben......this little chap decided we merited a closer look!
No speedway this week so I will hopefully get the holiday shots finished and uploaded....... watch this space for the new Webshots address for those.
Finally, a mention for a blog I'm a regular visitor to now. Silversprite - the Librarian at the end of the World is written by a chap living on the island of Berneray but covers far more than just the subject of island life - go on, have a browse!
Sunday, 30 March 2008
The one that got away...
we walked from the cottage up to the road end at Sidinish, only a mile or so each way but a pleasant enough stroll to start us off - on the way back we were rewarded by this fabulous sunset in front of us - just what we wanted really! It topped off what was a rather special first day as we'd not been at the cottage more than a couple of hours when a glance out of the front window revealed Otters at play in Loch A Ghoill, just across the road from us. Amazing watching them - and especially considering all the time we'd looked fruitlessly for them previously, there they were just over the road. Didn’t manage to get any very clear shots of them unfortunately, but this one does at least prove we saw them! We've seen plenty of bird-life since we've been here too - seen Golden eagles several times now, and also a heron, whooper swans, black throated divers, Shelduck, Tufted Ducks, and the sweetest pair of Stonechats playing "kiss-chase" around us on our walk at Rueval (Benbecula) yesterday. Altogether so far we've seen 29 species of birds, and on the mammal front, seals (including yesterday evening on in the Loch at the back of the cottage!), rabbits, Red deer and of course the Otters
Finally - this is the beach on Berneray looking
Saturday, 8 March 2008
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Monday, 25 February 2008
Saturday, 23 February 2008
An afternoon of macro...
Monday, 18 February 2008
Friday, 15 February 2008
I used a chair, with two sheets of plain white A4 paper on it - one propped against the back of the chair curving round to meet the seat, the other lying along the seat and overlapping the first sheet slightly. Lighting was an anglepoise lamp behind and to the left of me, and hotshoe mounted flash dialed down to -2 compensation. I did experiment with bouncing the flash but direct actually worked better which surprised me a little. Initially there were a few awkward shadows just in front of the rings but these were dealt with first via levels to blow out the background as far as possible, and secondly by a little dodging where needed. The macro lens comes out so seldom it scarcely seems I can justify having it, somehow. Every now and again though I get the inspiration for a project something like this, and it just makes sense, and I love the challenge of using it. Not being naturally the most controlled and patient of people, I feel it must benefit my photography to accasionally slow everything down and use a piece of kit that actually demands a cool head and a little planning.
Saturday, 9 February 2008
Hebrides Countdown 2008!
Saturday, 2 February 2008
One from Sunday morning this time - as you can see once again the weather was kind to us - more beautiful blue skies! The cathedral itself at Sacre Coeur is stunning - a quite amazing building. I have to say that in spite of it being quite clearly false and trading off its reputation, I also liked the Montmartre area - tacky gifts shops, roaming "artists" and all! We were impressed that our regular metro tickets also worked for the furnicular railway running back down the hill - this is just the sort of thing that, in the UK, someone would be taking the opportunity to make a few more £££'s from the tourists!
Possibly still a few more of these to come....they are now on my webshots 4 album if you want to take a look though.