Monday, 25 January 2016


With the weather being so awful in recent months – rain, wind, dreary grey skies – when a day is forecasted for decent weather, particluarly at the weekend, it makes the choice of what to do hard since these opportunities have been so rare.  The choice usually comes down to wildlife or landscapes.  I don’t ‘specialise’ in either as I enjoy both, each having their advantages and particlular enjoyments.

I love photographing landscapes or seacapes because you can be at a location and capture a moment at a time of day or year which can be beautiful or dramatic.  I never get bored at seeing a sunrise over the sea and I’m amazed at how many people who live near the sea, have never seen one.  With wildlife it can be more of a challange but therefore a dissapointment if unsucessful, but the skill both technical and the fieldcraft, make it feel more satisfying if sucessful.  Even if unable to get an image of an anmimal (which is more often than not), simply seeing it can give me a buzz especially if it’s elusive.

I think with photography, sucess is as much down to regular attempts, but without the opportunity due to the rotten weather, there has been few attempts recently and certainly no images that have stood out from those times I have been out.  At least the decision as to choose between wildlife or land/seascapes has been a bit easier – mud.  Everywhere waterlogged, damp and mud, lots of it.  Below are some of my better attempts at both options despite the weather.

For months I’ve been trying to get a decent sunrise but it usually ends up grey skies for the clouds are in the wrong place to get the ideal colour.  Also because the tide was wrongly timed for the moment of sunrise, I was unable to find and ideal foreground to help make the image.








The wildlife have been particularly elusive not helped by my poor timing, often when I do see something it’s been too late or, like the Roe Deer below, too far away to get a good shot.  The Pheasant was a bit more obliging.






Saturday, 2 January 2016

End of Another Year

I suppose it’s that time of year again when you look back on how the last 12 months have been and, to be honest, 2015 wasn’t a great one for myself or my photography.  The weather in particular stand out as causing mayhem to my photographic plans.

At the beginning of the year there were a number of plans that I had which I’d hoped to achieve – none of which have come about.  One was to photograph the Milky Way for which I took two weeks off work in June, apparently a good time to see it.  I had planned to go out somewhere with less light pollution make the most of the mild short nights and spend the whole night beneath the starry skies. The week before I was due to go off was lovely clear skies the whole week and perfect conditions.  Literally to the minute I finished work on the Friday, the skies clouded over and just about remained so until the Sunday, two weeks later, before my return when there was another week of clear skies followed!  During this same period I had also planned on visiting the Farne Islands, but again the weather intervened.  In the last two months we’ve had rain and regular 40-50 mph winds.

I’d also hoped to get some lovely sunrise land or seascapes. So many times on the way to or at work I would see beautifully lit coloured skies but come the weekend, grey overcast and usually wet and windy.  Just after Christmas, a break in the weather was forecast.  One night and day of clear skies so not enough time to really plan anything but dark enough in the mornings still to maybe see the night skies, I decided to head for the coast where at least the light pollution would be limited. The night before clear skies where still forecast but by the time I got up in the morning (4:30 am) cloud was now expected until 6:00 am.  Still enough time I hoped as sunrise wasn’t until 8:30, allowing for an hour before that of the slow morning light appearing, I could still maybe achieve something.  On arriving on location however, it was completely overcast yet the forecast was showing clear! 

Disappointed, I thought at least by sunrise, with the clearing of the clouds forecast, at least I would get that nice sunrise.  Nope. 8:30 and it was still overcast. In fact the clear skies didn’t show until after 10:00 6 ours after our lovely weather forecasters predicted – The can’t even get the weather right while it’s happening!

The below seascapes are the best I could salvage out of the morning.


Above and below St Mary’s Lighthouse.  I had hoped for this to be framed by the Milky Way!  The foreground was ‘painted in’ with a torch.


Above. Looking southwards towards Whitley Bay


Whenever I take seascapes, I always try to be there when the tide is going out that way I don’t risk being caught and trapped with the tied behind me.  Also, the waves coming in are gentler – normally.  In photographing these two images I had to get close to the seaweed but wanted the water to show around it.  Usually the waves were only just reaching these clusters but the occasional one would just go past giving me the effect I wanted.  Unfortunately there would also be a much bigger wave that would also come which was hard to predict and on two occasions this resulted in my being up to my ankles in sea water, nervously hanging onto my tripod/camera in case it got swept away.


Above taken at 9:13 – Where’s the forecasted clear skies and sun!


I’ve been out a lot more times that I’ve managed to have anything to put in a post.  One of the few successes recently is a sight of a Short Eared Owl.  At this time of year they take winter resident locally and so a good time to see them and on this occasion, in rare sunshine.  I hadn’t planned on photographing it but caught a glimpse of it floating over the tall grasses and didn’t want to waste an opportunity.  Not great photos but sometimes it’s just enough to watch wildlife and owls are no exception.

Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl

One last event related to 2015 for me were regarding software.  The year saw the release of Affinity Photo – finally a real replacement for Photoshop, at least for those using a Mac.  Since getting my Mac I have still had to sometimes resort to going to my Windows PC to use an older version of Photoshop since I refuse to add another monthly bill and use Adobes CC.  I did buy Lightroom for the Mac and did do some editing using using Pixelmator but having used Photoshop since my early days in DTP and design, it’s hard to let go of it and I’ve tried numerous other software but was never really happy.

Affinity Photo does everything Photoshop did as far as my photo editing and sometimes better and for the price of 4 months Creative Cloud subscription which asks the question why did Photoshop cost so much to begin with?

The other news was Live Writer.  Microsoft unfortunately abandoned this little gem for writing blogs a few years ago and again, I’ve found nothing that comes even close to it either on the Mac or PC.  Recently it’s gone open source so is now being developed again with the hope if might even be ported over to OSX which would be great as currently I have to do all my photo editing on the Mac and then copy over images to my PC to do the blog.