Sunday, 22 August 2010

Jesmond Dene

With little luck with my wildlife photography in recent months, I decided to travel light and take my 5D camera and 17-40mm lens for a few landscapes and hopefully, creativity.  Ironically, after all the poor weather we’ve had this summer, today it was a bright, sunny day – not really ideal for landscapes as the light is too harsh, so I went down to Jesmond Dene which is largely sheltered being in a narrow, step ‘valley’ cutting through the east end of Newcastle.  I also took with me an ND 10, ND Grad and infrared filter as well as a tripod.

I used to visit this area quite a bit in my student days, with my Olympus camera, as I used to live in nearby Heaton.  The area has changed little since then though the water seems a bit cleaner backed up by the only other time recently I have also visited, when I saw Kingfishers here.  None today, in fact little wildlife at all apart from what you might expect to see a city park.  Most of the picturesque part of the Dene is at the end around the much photographed waterfall, so it was here I took most of my images and experimented around with long exposures and infrared.  The third picture down had to be two exposures merged due to the extreme contrasts in light and shade beyond the latitude of the cameras exposure system. 

It was strange that after taking some of the long exposures and waiting for the camera  to ‘process’ the image in the camera before showing it on the back screen, I was complaining to myself because it was taking so long!  How soon we get used to the luxury and convenience of digital photography.  Back in my film days I would have to wait up to a week to see any of the results.  In some ways I miss those times.  Just like life, it seemed so much more simpler.  Having said that, my film cameras haven’t seen the light of day for some years.

My second and third from last are infrared.  Infrared is a type of photography I would really like to have a go at, but ideally a camera converted for the purpose is needed for best results.  The final image has been converted to black and white something I still find very attractive for landscapes and abstract images.

Not my best work photographically, but sometimes I just need to have some success at taking photographs. 


Thursday, 5 August 2010

At the beach

Today was one of those times where the tide, times, day and weather combined to make it an ideal time to photograph shore birds at a location easily accessible in using the dreaded public transport, so, not for the first time during my time off work, I was up at the crack of dawn.  By the time I got to my spot at the coast, the sun was shining (a rarity this summer!) and little stirred when it came to people about.  So it was with optimism that I positioned myself a distance from the incoming tidal line and waited.  By doing this the various waders will feed at the tidal line as it slowly moves up the beach closer to me by which time the birds have also excepted me as no threat and being pre-occupied with feeding.

Keeping a low profile and waiting patiently for twenty minutes, the first bird, a Curlew, got close enough to reasonably fill the frame and I managed to get some frames off when the inevitable happened – a dog came bounding up the beach chasing the birds and off they went.  The spot I chose was not only because it’s ideal to photograph shore birds but it is a dead end at this time of the tide – there is nowhere to go, nothing to see, with miles of beach elsewhere there was no reason for these two people with there dog to deliberately walk right in front of me only to stop and have to go back again.  Looking at the smirks on their faces I guessed their reasons where some sort of self satisfaction.  Once they had gone I settled down to wait and hope the birds would return.  Twenty minutes again and slowly they did return and just as they were getting close enough along came another dog owner, chucking a ball right in front of me for his dog to chase after though it seemed more interested in sniffing around me and inside my camera bag then shaking itself of all its sand.  Once he left I settled down once again and waited for the waders to return.  After half an hour it was clear they weren’t coming back.  Ironically, no dog owners came by either!

Most definitely I’m hitting one of those low points in my photography where I am having little success, at least with the wildlife side.  Perhaps I need to keep the long lens at home and concentrate for a while on photographing landscapes – at least if any dogs get in the way I can Photoshop them out!


Sunday, 1 August 2010

The ugly side of the River Derwent

My previous blog was a brief look into one of my local areas that I go to, to escape the day to day madness of life and to enjoy a little bit of the countryside in peace and quite.  Today I went out and saw another, not so nice side of the area – anti social behaviour, vandalism, rubbish left lying around, dog crap everywhere…


At every entrance to the park are various signs such as the one above and left, pretty clear and not unreasonable rules so that everyone can enjoy the area and it can be maintained for such a purpose.  Going there today to enjoy what promised to be one of the better days of the week weather-wise, but when I arrived there it seemed to be a ‘Charver’ camping convention going on.  (For anyone who doesn’t know what a Charver is try this link )

The campsites had rubbish strewn, fires burning and the customary pit bull dogs, all located on the actual pathway so you had to take a detour or walk through their camp.  As well as this, the otherwise tranquil sound of nature was broken by the sound of dogs barking and their owners swearing at them as they tired to keep them under control, other tell tale signs of the dogs were evident all around the paths of which they left I was constantly trying to avoid.  I’ve never understood why people leave rubbish lying around the countryside – if you are going to take food there to eat – as many of us do – and you have obviously bothered to carry it there, why not carry the packaging back with you?

Other signs show why I tend to go out early in the morning to catch wildlife rather than the evening, areas littered with empty cans of lager and bottles of vodka as well as other dubious objects.  It’s ironic that the area has won a ‘Green Flag Award’ for having a well managed, green space for the public to enjoy!

TBP_6811 TBP_6814
TBP_6820 TBP_6826
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What I would prefer to see along the River Derwent