An adventure in Dorset, with filters

Dorset

f11, 30 secs, ISO 100, 24mm, cropped
Lee circ. polariser and Big stopper

Yesterday I had a bit of an adventure.  I attended a one day, Lee filters workshop in Portland, Dorset led by Jeremy Walker.  I have been thinking about investing in some filters for a while, particularly to try my hand at some long exposure photography, but also to balance my exposures in camera, so I can spend more time out taking photos and less time in front of my computer. When I came across Jeremy’s course online, it seemed the perfect way to learn how to use the filters, and to try before I buy.

long exposure

f/11, 2 minutes, ISO 800, 28mm
Lee 0.9 pro-glass, big stopper

After an early start and a two and a half hour drive, I found myself tucking into some much needed coffee and meeting Jeremy, Ed (the Managing Director of Lee filters) and Luciana, my fellow student.  We were provided with a set of filters for the day and were soon heading off to capture the waves and pebbles on the shore of Portland, Dorset.  The weather was inauspicious but, as we quickly learned, with filters you can make a photograph out of the most unpromising conditions.

long exposure

f/11, 2.5 secs, ISO 100, Lee circ. polariser, 0.9 pro glass

I am mostly a solitary shooter, finding it difficult to concentrate when in company. Add to that learning how to use the Lee filter system, and it is perhaps hardly surprising I did not take nearly as many exposures as I would normally when at the coast.  But Jeremy and Ed are good company and they were very patient with my rather fumbling, disorganised approach.  I also appreciated all the chocolate!

coastal long exposure

f11, 45 secs, ISO 400, 28mm, Lee 0.6 ND grad, circ. polariser, 0.9 pro glass

There is something very satisfying about using filters.  I think part of the pleasure is that you’re forced to slow down.  It takes time to select the right filter(s), set them up and position them (although I expect one becomes much quicker with practice!).  I liked taking it slowly, just enjoying the process and the experience.  Of course, I also learned a lot and not just how to use the filters.  For example, I can now adjust the kelvin value in camera, which was rather fun.  I chose to emphasize the blue tint in the light.  Well, I like blue!

dorset

f/11, 8 secs, ISO 200, 24mm. Lee 0.6 ND grad, 0.9 pro glass

Of course, back at home, I had to convert some images to black and white.

black and white black and white

Now I just have to buy some filters and start putting every thing I learned into practice.  I leave you with what is possibly my favourite shot from the day. Of course, it’s a blue hour shot, and that’s my favourite time of day, as I have said often enough here.  It also breaks rules (look at that horizon in the middle and all that emptyish space) but, as you know by now,  I like breaking the rules.  We may not have had a sunset, but we made the most of what the weather dished up.

Dorset

f/11, 30 secs, ISO 200, 24 mm. Lee 0.6 ND grad, 0.9 pro glass

If you are interested in learning about using filters, I heartily recommend Jeremy’s workshops. And no-one is paying me anything to say so!

An autumn stroll at Winkworth

f18, 1/5, ISO 100, 16mm, circ. polariser

 

I had a lovely day yesterday in the company of Jenifer Bunnett at Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey.  Magical light and location, and a small starburst in keeping with this week’s theme.  One of the many wonderful things about Autumn as a landscape photography season is that the sun never gets very high in the sky, making for softer light, longer shadows and the availability of starbursts filtered through leaves.

Starburst – no filter required

River Thames I have recently posted a few shots where the sun looks rather like a star. A few people have asked me what filter I have used, either on camera or in processing, so I thought I’d take a post to explain a simple piece of aperture know-how. The sunburst/starburst effect is simply what you get when shooting small points of bright light using f16. No processing, or special filters required.
London It works with man-made light as well as the sun. Look at this detail from the London night scape. All the lights have that ‘twinkle’. And, yes, the photograph was taken at f16.
night scape
The exact appearance of the burst will vary from lens to lens. My 16-35mm does a particularly nice job, but even the cheapest of kit lenses will do. The London shot was taken in 2009 using the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my very first digital camera, a Canon 400D, and the shot of the Statue of Liberty below was taken using my Fuji X-E1’s kit lens.
USA
Sometimes you can achieve this effect with wider apertures, f14 or even f11 but, to be sure of it, stop that aperture down to f16 or smaller. It only works really well with small points of light. The trick, if you want to achieve this effect with the sun, is to capture it partly eclipsed by an object, the horizon or, as here (taken using yet another lens, my 24-105mm), a tree.
starburst

Ladybirds with attitude

ladybird

Which way?

Still trawling through my hard drive trying to clear some space, I came across these ladybird images from 2011, and they seemed to make a set of ladybirds with attitude. Humour me. The first one is clearly at one of those crossroad moments in life.

ladybird on stem

The bad tempered ladybird

This one seems to be posing as the inspiration for Eric Carle’s delightful children’s book, The Bad-tempered Ladybird. I remember reading it over and over to my son when he was little.

ladybird on yellow flower

This season, stylish ladybirds wear spots to match their flower.

This ladybird is obviously a fashionista

ladybird

And for my next trick…

and this one an acrobat, or a show-off, or both.

insect taking off

I just want to be left alone

And this one has clearly had enough of being photographed!
Sanity will return tomorrow. I promise.

Winter unending

macroWhen will this winter end?  Clearly no-one has remembered to tell these snowflakes, on the windscreen of my car, that it is supposed to be Spring.

macro

 

Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with it tail – Proverb

 

“The English winter — ending in July, To recommence in August.”
 George Gordon Byron

ice

Thank you to those who have enquired about my recent absence from Focused Moments. I am fine, just flat out with college work and having to be very strict with myself about all things photographic as otherwise they might easily take over.  ‘Normal service’ will hopefully resume next month, after we return from a brief visit to one of my very favourite European cities where I will be putting my new travel camera through its paces!

 

Hardy spider

spider

Hello there!

This tiny spider has been hanging out in my olive tree for weeks now, happily oblivious to freezing temperatures and snow. It is a colourful and rather acrobatic addition to my garden.

spider

And, for my next trick…

“Imperio!”
Moody jerked his wand, and the spider rose onto two of its hind legs and went into what was unmistakably a tap dance.
Everyone was laughing — everyone except Moody.
“Think it’s funny, do you?” he growled. “You’d like it, would you, if I did it to you?”
The laughter died away almost instantly.
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The delicate art of dumping your camera on the ground

dewI haven’t been around much in the last week as I have had my first ever bout of flu!  Needless to say, I haven’t been taking photographs, so here are a couple of shots from last year, revealing how unkind I can be to my camera.  It doesn’t seem to mind being dumped onto wet grass, thanks perhaps to its weather seals.  I love the unpredictability of this sort of shooting.

dew