I’ve be far too busy lately and nearly missed this year’s Autumn colours, but today, travelling through the Dales, we found a perfect view of Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. When the scene looks this good photography becomes simple 🙂
3 shot panorama, using the Sony RX1rII at iso400 & f9, stitched & post processed in Lightroom.
Over the last few weeks and months I’ve been putting in the miles in the Great British Northern countryside, in preparation for next month’s Everest Base Camp trek, accompanied by Polly, my kids Sam & Harry, my old friend Brad, and of course Morgan the dog.
Though the primary purpose was fitness and weight loss, I couldn’t resist taking the camera. The following images range across Cumbria’s Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, and Yorkshire’s East Coast on the Cleveland Way.
I can’t say I’ve shed many pounds, but I’ve enjoyed every moment, except perhaps the popping the massive blister at the end of the three peaks 🙂
Hole of Horcum, North York Moors
Simon’s Seat From Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales
Great End from Seathwaite, Lake District
Ingleborough and Whernside on the 3 Peaks Walk, Yorkshire Dales
Leeds Light Night provided a great excuse to take the camera out after dark and capture some unusual images of usual scenes. Handheld @iso1600 to freeze the motion. Attached to tripod with a 4 second exposure to capture motion. Post processed in Lightroom & Analog Efex Pro 2 to add an extra dimension.
3 years ago, on the first leg of our 90 mile walk along the Dales Way, I came across this sad old tractor, and couldn’t resist taking its portrait with my Nikon D800.
Today, in training for a longer walk, a trek to Everest Base Camp, I came across it once again, slightly worst for wear, and a few more cobwebs, but still standing strong, and snapped it with Sony RX1rII.
On a tramp around our local woods we happened upon a farm machinery graveyard brim full of mechanical contraptions of all shapes and sizes, and for what purpose I have no clue, and in one corner, overgrown with weeds and ivy, this old wreck of a flatbed lorry, with more soul and pathos than the Mona Lisa. Surely some mechanical miracle worker should rescue it before it finally succumbs to its fate.
“I don’t get it” snorted the women passing our Artsmix stall last Saturday. “It’s a boat and a house, I don’t get it!”. “It’s art” I said. “It’s autistic” she replied. “I don’t get it” she repeated to her friends shaking her head as she walked off, “it’s just a boat and a house” and that, I suppose, was me told.
But I love this image. I love the colours and contrast in the stone. I love the symmetry of the picture juxtaposed with the irregularity of the stonework. I love the tones in the boat. I love the sense of age and decay and mood. I love the sense of place and time, and times past. I love the gradual reclaiming of human habitation and activity by nature. I love that in a 100, 200, 500 and 1000 years, the essence of the scene will remain the same, but the man made objects will erode, whilst nature exerts her ultimate authority.
So who’s right, me with my over analysis and poetic pretensions, or the lady with her no nonsense, straight forwardness? Well I guess we both are. Art is subjective after all!
To compress or to uncompress? That is the question.
Since I starting shooting with the RX1rII I’ve always had the format firmly set to uncompressed RAW on the (not unreasonable) assumption that though my memory cards might now hold only half the images, my disk drive is constantly full, and my post-processing time is twice as long, for an IQ gain, however marginal, it has to be worth it, right?
But for my upcoming trip to Nepal and 10 day trek to Everest Base Camp, I’ll need to squeeze as many shots as humanly possible onto each memory card and can’t waste valuable power reviewing, editing and deleting images. It was time to test the (not unreasonable) assumption and so I stole off into Leeds for 40 minutes of shooting, using both compressed and uncompressed formats.
The result? Absolutely no difference in IQ whatsoever. The only way I could tell which were which was the load times in Lightroom. The test might have been quick, and might have been unscientific, but for me it’s absolutely conclusive. I’ll head of to Nepal with the format set to compressed and happy that the resulting images might be half the size, but every bit the equal of their uncompressed brethren.
But it does leave one question, what the hell are those other 40 gigabytes doing?
All shots were taken hand held in Aperture mode. Post processing adjustments in Lightroom were exactly the same (copy settings) for each pair of images except when taking into account different shutter speeds and therefore exposures.
“It’s the journey that counts, not the destination”.
If your destination is the Isle of Harris in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides there’s good grounds to say sod the journey, catch a plane to Stornaway, and be sitting in the dunes of Luskentyre before you can say “Traigh an Taoibh Thuath”.
… but by taking the quick way you might just be missing out …
Over five days of travelling Polly’s Slow Way took us back to old favourites – Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Elgol, Sligachan, and Eilean Donan; and for us new discoveries – Glenfinnan & Loch Sheil, Arisaig, Isleornsay & the Quiraing on Skye. As is so often the case on our travels the highlight was a random, spur of the moment detour, to kill time before our ferry left for Skye. From Arisaig we took a single track road to Rhumach, discovering calm, sheltered, “tropical” bays, pebble beaches, rocky outcrops pushing into the sea, and views out to Eigg, Rum, and to the distant Cuillin on Skye. We had just a few minutes to sit by the shore and take in the views before climbing back into the car, but we’ll be sure to return and stay for a while on our next slow journey up the West Coast.
Wow, crossing from East to West on our journey from the ferry at Talbert to Northton on the A859 and suddenly there’s Luskentyre right in front of you, white sands, emerald sea, a stunning introduction to the beaches of Harris.
Over the next six days I tried to capture just a hint, a smell, a touch of their beauty, but ultimately headed home defeated. Whether it was due to weather, or timing, or lack of creativity, or an unfamiliarity with the landscape, or lack of technique, I don’t know, but it was certainly not through a lack of inspiration.
But no photographic series on Harris would be complete without a shot of a beach so some feeble attempts and holiday snaps follow.
If you want to see some photos that do the place justice take a look at Ian Lawson’s Harris Tweed @ http://www.ianlawson.com/prints/outer-hebrides/ . Better still go along if Ian has another exhibition.
The shots above are taken with the Sony RX1rII or Sigma Merrill or Sigma Quattro cameras, post processed in Lightroom.
Get up. Make cup of tea. Drink cup of tea. Shorts, trainers, t-shirt, hat on. Camera in rucksack. Rucksack on. Stretch. Down the track from the cottage to the Northton’s main street. Turn left. Past the houses. Past Croft 36, excellent buns. Past the Temple Cafe, excellent food. Past the lane to the beach. Through the gate. Onto the machair. Harassed by Redshanks protecting chicks. Right. Onto the sands of Traigh an Taoibh Thuath. Aim toward the sea. Onto Scarista. Follow water’s edge out across the bay. Meet sand dunes. Find gap in fence and right onto the A859. Past grazing cattle. Round the corner. Up the hill. Turn right back onto Norton’s main street. Complete the loop. Stop to take photos whenever needed.
Not the most conventional approach to photography I admit, and I’m unsure it will catch on, but you do cover some ground, it’s a great excuse to take break in the middle of a run, and it’s only possible because the Sony is so small and light!
Returning from Lewis in the North to Harris in the South, and to our base in Northton, we took the Golden Road, avoiding the fertile Machair and white beaches of the West coast in favour of the barren landscape of the East.
Down this coastline the land is unforgiving, a thin covering of earth icing over the bedrock lying inches below the surface. It may be beautiful but few people would chose to scratch a living here, but then few had a choice after the forced evictions of the Clearances.
The single track strip of tarmac twisted around sheltered sea inlets, lochans full of water lilies, grey rocky outcrops and abandoned crofts; driving required full concentration and focus – why do you always meet an oncoming vehicle on a blind bend?
As we wound slowly on the weather closed in, obscuring our view, and the rain tipped down as it only can on Scotland’s West Coast. A quick glance at the map and we couldn’t believe our lack of progress South, having driven what seemed many miles and for over an hour.
With my mind tired after a full days driving we swapped seats. Polly drove and I gazed through the passenger window through the haze of rain at the passing landscape. It was the buildings that took my eye; signs of human habitation scattered down the coastline.
An old red telephone box, a long abandoned croft complete with decaying boat, a red tin roof, a wooden bridge crossing a brook, houses dotted along the coastline, the boat builders yard.
… And so every so often we stopped, and I took another photo, and ran back to the car to shelter from the rain.
Looking at the images afterwards, the thing that’s striking is the buildings’ temporary nature; the total lack of impact on the landscape. If a giant bent down and lifted them away, the land would be what it was a thousand years ago, and what it will be in another thousand years.
The only thing left would be the road, a permanent scar down the East Coast, a permanent reminder people once made their home here.
“I spent many hours and drove many miles, chasing the perfect scene and perfect light, only to find it was right there in front of me all along”.
During our six days on the Isle of Harris I fell in love with the view from our window. Past the fence that marked the boundary of the croft; over the rooftops of Northton, beyond the fertile machair and the lagoon and sands of Traigh an Taoibh Thuath, and out over the sea to the distant mountains that dotted the horizon.
The scene was ever changing: every day, ever hour, every minute, natures rhythms offered a different picture. South Westerlies driving the weather from our back; the spur of bright, yellow, sand expanding and contracting with the tide; mountains clear as a bell one instant lost in mist in another; the hazy sunshine of midday transforming into the gloaming of midnight.
For six days the television remained unplugged, books left unread, music set to silent, games unplayed, our view offering all the entertainment we needed.
And on the sixth and final day we became a part of the scene, before heading for the ferry, to Skye, and onwards to home.
I hate camping! In fact I detest it! Why anyone would want to camp in the UK is absolutely beyond me. When I was young and naive, I may have been duped by the adventure of it all, but I’m older now, and wiser, the victim of multiple, miserable, camping trips that have invariability involved: rain, midges, mud, showers with only two settings – scold or freeze – and zero sleep. Sod adventure, what’s wrong with civilisation!
So heaven only knows why I was stood in the middle of a sodden field, rain bouncing off my sodden hat, under attack from waves of sodden kamikaze midges, staring down at my sorry, sodden, excuse of a tent, which had disintegrated the instant it was pulled from its bag.
… And that would have been the end of the matter had not – at my moment of total abject despair – my co-campers Lynne and Brad turned up, bringing not one spare tent, but two! No chance now to duck and run. No way of escaping the misery of it all.
The reason I was stood, bedraggled, in a field, surrounded by crazy campers, was a late decision to walk up Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, in preparation for higher and longer walks to come, and a desperate, last minute, search for accommodation that had proved fruitless. It was camp or nothing and I should have chosen nothing, but I didn’t. Idiot!
Wind the clock on 18 hours and at 1pm the next day we were stood on the summit of Scafell Pike, the air as still as I’ve known it, the sun breaking through, the horrors of camping a dull and distant memory. And with the majesty of the Lake District spread below us a quick change of plan was agreed and we descended down a different route to discover Piers Gill.
These moments of discovery, even within a familiar landscape, are the reason I head to the hills; a view I never realised existed revealing itself for the first time, for a moment it almost made camping seem worthwhile … but only for a moment!
Having a a camera at hand at those moments brings me neatly on to the Sony RX1 rII. Tiny, light, solid as a rock, fantastic IQ, low noise, huge dynamic range; I’d carried it around all day without noticing; no need for a tripod, no need for multiple, heavy lenses, no need for a bag full of grad filters, no need for a carbon fibre camera strap.
They say the best camera is the one you have with you and I can’t disagree!
Waking up at 5am to a promising sunrise, I finally got my act together and headed into work to take some images of Leeds Dock and Sky’s Shiny New Technology Campus.
The sunrise didn’t quite materialise but the quality of the early morning light combined with the stillness of the water made the early start worthwhile, whilst the results provided enough material to go completely over the top with Nik Efex Pro.
Click on the images for full size views, and expand to get the full effect of the panorama.
All images shot handheld using the Sony RX1rII, (heavily) post-processed in Lightroom and finished using Nik Efex Pro.
Last night I got a chance to try out the Sony RX1rII after dark. I had a hour or so max to scurry around with a tripod so apologies for the lack of creativity. Though the shots lack some artistry, in terms of the performance of the camera I’m impressed. Clean as a whistle and with a tremendous amount of flexibility in the raw files to pull out shadows.
All shots on a tripod @ iso100, a variety of exposures / apertures, post processed to taste in Lightroom
I’m gradually catching up with posts of our Lofoten trip and this post takes us back in time to our voyage onboard the MS Lofoten from Bergen to Bodo, with time to explore Alesund and Trondheim. The images are (just about) in the order taken.
The stop at Trondheim was particularly memorable but for the wrong reasons. Stopping to photograph the Old Bridge, a lens fell out of my sunglasses and we became distracted searching for the tiny screw that (should have) kept the lens in place and was now lost. Whether I left the camera there, or whether I lost it rushing back to the ship, I guess we’ll never know. What I do know is that captain refused to delay the sailing by the 20 minutes it would have taken to retrace my steps. It’s fair to say I was furious with myself and furious with the ships captain; a camera I’d bought specifically for the trip, only owned a couple of weeks, and costing an arm and a leg lost on day 3 of the trip! The next day our time in Bodo was spent in the police station reporting the loss!
There’s a fair amount of camera shake in the above image, a consequence of the long lens, the ships engine and my poor technique, but I love the composition so it’s included in the blog.
It was sunset as we took off from Bodo to fly the short journey to Leknes on Lofoten. The view as we left the Bodo was jaw dropping. The above shot, shot using the SD1 Merrill, at ISO800, was typical of the scenery. Hopefully flying at midday on the return trip I’ll have a better chance to do the beauty of the landscape justice.
The shots above were taken with the Sigma SD1 Merrill, DP1 Merrill, DP3 Merrill and (the now lost) Sony RX1 RII.
This week I got to move into our stunning new building at Leeds Dock. It’s a cool workplace designed bottom up for the development teams, and with Sky 2 and the soon to open Sky 1 it demonstrates Sky’s commitment to building a world class technology campus in Leeds.
The building really comes alive when the sun goes down becoming a great subject to test the Sony RX1rII. Some quick snaps follow.
All images were shot at ISO200, aperture priority, using a tripod, and post processed in Lightroom.
After six months of anticipation it’s now just four days and counting before we begin our journey to the Lofoten Islands; bags are packed, final purchases made, last minute preparations underway.
Our journey takes us by air from Manchester to Bergen, where we catch the MS Lofoten to head North, hugging the Norwegian coastline for three days and nights until we reach Bodo. There we say goodbye to the boat and make the short hop by air to Leknes, an hour’s drive from our base at Reine.
Though Lofoten is North of the 66th Parallel the warming effect of the Gulf Stream keeps the deep freeze of the Arctic at bay. Even so our preparation has been pre-occupied by the question of warmth if temperatures plummet, and how to keep upright on the ice and snow; winter boots, smocks, crampons, thermals, fleeces, hats, gloves, fill our Rolling Thunder holdalls.
Photography wise the trip is pure Foveon with one notable exception. In the bag is a Sigma DP1 & DP3 Merrill, a DP0 Quattro, an SD1 paired with an 18-300mm lens (both kindly loaned by Sigma for the trip) and a shiny new Sony RX1rII. When the sun’s above the horizon I plan point the Merrill’s and Quattro’s at the mountains, lakes and coastline. If we spot a whale offshore I’ll reach for the SD1. The Sony I plan to use as a general purpose travel camera, and, when the sun goes down, to take star trails and the Northern lights (if we’re lucky enough to see them).
If you want to be inspired by Lofoten the very best place to start is Cody Duncan’s website http://www.68north.com, a veritable mine of information alongside a set of beautiful inspiring images.
Now on with the packing!
What’s in The Bag
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP3 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma Close Up Lens
B&W & Hayes ND filters
Induro CLT103 Tripod
Many spare batteries & memory cards
Red torch for night-time use
Silcon gel bags for removing moisture
Freezer bags for bringing cameras from cold to warm temperatures
A first trip out with the Sony RX1R Mark II to Saltburn on the Cleveland Coast. All shots were hand held except the second, classic, shot of the pier, which was balanced on a railing (my tripod is stowed away ready for our Norway adventures). All have been treated in Lightroom, pulling back highlights and lightening shadows. First impressions are that this is a superb little camera.