Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A Hamworthy Sunset

This evening was spent down on Hamworthy beach where I could experiment on sunset photography.
Sadly we arrived a bit late so the sun had already set but there was still colour in the sky so I went out of my way to make use of it.

I'm still not great at finding a way to do landscape photography and with the light failing on me I decided i'd stick to more familiar ground and with nothing I could think of to shoot I decided I'd make something. SO, scrabbling around in the wet and the dark I built myself a few stone monoliths to use as foreground.
I liked the way the stars bokeh'd and tried to line them up above my little stone creations.

When headed back to the car it was too tempting not to make use of the jetty again for a couple of shots with a clear sky, quickly, before I had to go home and get some much needed sleep.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A moon-lit evening at Winspit Quarry

So, another new amazing location found on the Jurassic Coast, this one is Winspit Quarry.
On this trip I was joined by two fellow photographers, Chris and Shaun. (Who found and suggested this location and joined me on two recent trips.)

It's a fairly short walk from Worth Matravers and not quite where we expected after having spent quite a while reviewing google maps.
When we hit this sign(left), we turned left as a nearly full moon rose(That's the moon not the sun), which does lead down to the water but was not much use to us. We couldn't find any of the apparent ruined structures that could be seen from the satellite imagery, only some slightly treacherous looking climbs down to the rocks.

So, failing there and deciding not to explore the beach below due to the tide being in and the rocks being uneven and slippery we tried turning right at the sign. Where very shortly after we were greeted by the most amazing sight!

An opening in the cliff side to a  great hollow filled with ruins and lined with caves all lit by the right moon light. There was so much potential we didn't know where/how to start.

Regrettably I didn't get a shot as we arrived to show what we saw but it probably wouldn't be that impressive as a photo it just would've been nice too have to document the occasion.
Here is a panoramic shot of the area though .
Due to the volume of images and the inclusion of some animations I've broken this post up so please click the link to read further:

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hamworthy and the fog

Tonight I joined a colleague from the office to a local site called Hamworthy in Poole.
The weather wasn't going to be good. All reports were saying that it would be cloudy until it was dark and then it would be foggy so we weren't really intending to do anything other than scout out the location for future use and to work out how dark the skies were, we weren't expecting to come away with any decent shots at all really.

As you can see the site is mostly a heath-land sat on a cliff edge, over looking Poole harbour. It's quite a nice spot, worth revisiting on a clear night for a few reasons but it wasn't until we headed back to the car that we found what we'd end up spending the rest of the night shooting.
A jetty.
The jetty itself was a T-shape, one wide, long boardwalk leading up to two smaller ones on the left and right.
The fog started rolling in and the water was calm and still so the boats reflected well and the nearby docks and harbours lit the fog quite dramatically.

Naturally the glowsticks were put to work!
All in all it's an amazing spot, well worth a revisit on both a clear night and a dramatic sunset.
Expect to see more from here.

Until then though here is one of my favourite shots from the trip.
The chap at the end there taking his own photographs is Shaun, who joined me and suggested the location.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Glowsticks on the Jurassic Coast and the clouds part over Lulworth

Another clear night presents itself on a non-school night and so a friend and I decided to try a shoot out.
Not having visited the south coastal areas for a while I picked Kimmeridge as that's where the Met-office implied the weather would be good.

As it turns out the clouds came in thick and fast for the duration so the star shooting was few and far between but it was a beautiful moon-lit night and I was prepared with a pocket full of glowsticks to make the most of the situation.
Following the jump are more images and some animations, to read further please click the link:

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Lulworth Castle - Rear Gatehouse

Today I visited a location I was tipped off about a few weeks ago and have been itching to visit on a clear night ever since. Panstarrs managed to distract me significantly most recently.
So when I saw a not-so windy, clear evening, forecast for this weekend and where the temperature wasn't going to be less than -4, I decided to brave the cold and head out!

Now, I did manage to scout the area a week previous, in daylight, as these trips have previously gone poorly when I haven't applied an appropriate level of preparation.

It's a little awkward to get too. The only logical place to park is on the other side of a curving section of road that is on a hill with a blind dip and no verge/pavement.

I'm basically walking on a country road where no driver will be able to spot me until it's too late. Couple that with the fact I intend to walk this section of road in the pitch black makes for a very worrying scenario...
I ran the stretch of road and on my second, night, trip I also waved glow sticks furiously over my head... In a cool way obviously.
This image is of the gates on the north side facing south.
Lulworth Castle is just about visible through the arch on the ride-hand side of the main gate.
So if you haven't guessed already this structure is that of a now unused, gate house, at the rear of the property of Lulworth Castle grounds.
There are public footpaths that run past it which, as I understand it, are not always open but on this occasion they were.

It's a lovely structure and fairly unknown.
This is of the gates from the south side facing north.
The above two images are of inside the two buildings on either side of the gates. The windows were smashed in when I arrived, I didn't enter the buildings my self, I just poked my camera in and the above is what I got.
This was my first shot of the evening and how the gates looked as I first arrived.
That's Lulworth Castle brightly lit in the background. Sadly a bit too brightly lit for me to get in the same exposure. In retrospect I should have tried again with different settings and then composited a single image out of a couple but maybe next time.
The first thing I did was wander around the south side of the gate so I could see if Panstarrs was still visible and whether I could get it in frame above the gates.

That's why the shot is wonky but, right above the lion on the right hand side, the comet can be seen.
It's a little dim even in this image
So, recompose and here we are. Sadly the light pollution to the north drowns out some of the details but I like the image. Aimed a bit higher to remove some of the needless black space beneath the gate houses and took a timelapse sequence.
Just for fun,I grabbed a shot with me in frame under the comet. :)

And some star-trail stacks from the timelapses above:
The lightng provided on the gates was provided by the headlights of the guest leaving whatever event was occurring at Lulworth Castle that night.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Photograph of the "week" #071

"When not scribbling away in a sketch book or dabbling on a Wacom tablet i'm invariably fiddling around with exposure settings on my Nikon D90 trying to capture moments in aesthetically pleasing ways. So here we have "Photograph of the week" a (mostly) weekly feature showcasing my favourite photo of the week."

After I successfully snagged my shot of Panstarrs last night I finally felt free to start experimenting and doing some other things and, as I was at Badbury Rings already I decided to do some exploring. I have never been into the middle before where there is a small wood full of, as it happens, screeching owls and screaming foxes and finally, a stone plinth of some sort that has compass points and visible items marked on a circular metal plate.

I was just playing around really doing a bunch of things just to see what I could do using the glowsticks and torches I have. I really need to start dragging an assistant along with me though as it's quite difficult to synchronise the shots with the torch movements.

The best image of the shoot though is this one I think.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Hunting Panstarrs - Part 2

Tonight marks my second attempt to get the Panstarrs comet during its travels across our night skies.

This is my second chance to catch a glimpse for this whole month since it's been possible to view and my first attempt was a complete fail.
I was not 100% confident but I had to try.
I went to the same location as before albeit a lot drier, significantly less windy and so not bitterly, bitterly cold.

About ten minutes after I reached my location and got my gear setup, I referred to a compass to locate the general direction required and my first sighting of it can be seen below(A bit out of focus).
Just on the edge of the left hand side.
I didn't notice it straight away, I'd moved the camera elsewhere and took other shots searching for it thinking the evening was going to be yet another fail or the sky wasn't dark enough... but when I reviewed the images more carefully I noticed just a little smudge(the screen on the back of the camera doesn't have the same resolution that your monitor does after all), I zoomed in on it and lo, there it was.
Once I realised where it was I set about shooting it properly... well as well as I could.
The above image is a pretty untouched version of the shot as it comes out of the camera. As you can see it's not huge in the frame of the lens I used, a 35mm, on a crop sensor, giving it an effective focal length of 50-55mm.
Which explains why I likely had such poor success on my previous trip where I tried to use my 11mm lens,(effective 16mm). The comet would have been rendered so tiny in the frame it must have been indistinguishable from other stars, certainly on further review of those previous shots I still can't find it, even using these shots as reference.
The above image is a stacked image using a program called Deep Sky Stacker. It helps reduce some of the noise, I'm still experimenting with it but it does help to get some clearer/sharper stars the only problem is it tends to tear everything else apart. Hence why the foreground/landscape/horizon is cropped out.
In retrospect, whilst I couldn't be happier that I managed to capture the comet during it's brief traversal past our night sky, after such a long wait with so much preparation and disappointment due to just a constant and never ending stream of clouds, I think the images are a bit dull.
They lack any sort of foreground aside from a dark horizon, I've tried to spice it up with a time-lapse and the shot above where I've stacked the images into a star trail composite but weather permitting, if I get time, I might try another trip to get a more interesting shot, for nowthough I'm quite happy.

The shots that created the composite above came to around 116 images over a 16 minute period.
Stacking them into a star-trail image is a bit of whimsy really as it mostly obscures the comet and doesn't add much to the composition. The true reason for taking the series of shots is to compile them into a video/animation, which helps bring things to life a little bit.
TBH these videos don't come out that well, the resolution defaults so low when embedded that the details are lost but if you wanted to go fullscreen with it and select HD you'll get to see the outcome.