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Hello everyone and an especially warm welcome to my new subscribers.
A telephone call from a client asking me to take him to the Isle of Skye for a week to help him improve his photography was a nice way to start my year. Skye is a magnificent destination for photographers at any time of year but late winter/early spring is my favourite time to visit, there is usually still some snow laying around and with frequent weather fronts pushing across the UK you can usually find some lovely lighting to make your images really pop.
The image below was taken at the Fairy Pools, Glen Brittle and after enduring rain, sleet, snow, hail and wind we were eventually rewarded with just a sliver of light which grazed the peak known as waterpipe gulley. All we had to do was be in position and wait for the light and when it arrived it was magical.
Waterpipe Gulley: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 47mm @ f14, 1/13 sec
We visited Elgol a couple of times during our trip but despite a promising weather forecast luck wasn't on our side, however the weather gods did send us 5 seconds of beautiful, glowing light before the sun dipped below the horizon so our trip wasn't totally wasted.
Chasing the light is one of the most difficult aspects of running photographic workshops, so knowing the locations and being familar with localised weather patterns really helps me to put my clients in the right place at the right time. On one day where Skye was forecast thick, unbroken cloud all day we made a 2hr journey to Torridon to photograph an iconic red roofed cottage as I knew we would get some breaks in the cloud over there. Once again we endured all seasons in one day but as I had hoped the light was perfect as patches of sun crossed the land at regular intervals. I have photographed this cottage several times in the past but it is always a delight to soak in the scenery and help clients to add a quailty version to their portfolio.
The Red Roofed Cottage: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 24mm @ f11, 1/40 sec
While over in Torridon I noticed this stand of pine trees with the mountain as a backdrop, a composition I have never photographed before. It involved donning wellingtons, some scrambling up and down slippery banks but eventually we got our photograph and it one I think I will definitely photograph again in the future.
Pine Stand: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 127mm @ f14, 1/250 sec
Another favourite excusion is a trip to photograph Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie, one day I will photograph it in good light but on this visit we weren't blessed with good light so we waited and photographed it at 'crossover lighting' and I also made a b&w version too. Now the trip wasn't a total disppointment because as we passed through the Kyle of Lochalsh a storm blew across the south west tip of Skye, the rain came down in sheets but it was backlit by the sun - this was far too good an opportunity to miss. The image below is comprised of 5 images taken in landscape format, stiched together in Photoshop to produce an ultra wide panorama. You have the Skye road bridge on the right side of the frame, the recession of the hills on Skye and right where the brightest part of the image is (bottom left) a trawler boat prevents the area from becoming too bright and drawing the eye to that part of the image too much.
Storm Over Skye: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 189mm @ f11, 1/250 sec (5 stitched images)
My brief from my client was to help him come home with 4 or 5 really good images, we surpassed that by some margin - he came back with 13!
As well as some indepth tuition on using filters, composition, streamlining his workflow and polishing up on his technique. It was really nice to recieve an email from him shortly after we returned home saying "I am really buzzing since getting back from Skye, my photography has really improved and I feel as if I have turned a corner and am on a roll"!
As well as a trip to Skye I headed out to Fiddlers Ferry, Runcorn to photograph the power station there which was rumoured to be closing in April 2016 as part of cutbacks, I wanted to get a nice record shot for my portfoilo of the steam rising from the cooling towers at sunrise. It turns out that I couldn't have picked a better morning, clear skies overnight allowed the temperture to drop enhancing the clouds of steam billowing from the towers. Also all the towers were in use which made for quite a spectacular sight as the steam rose into the dawn sky, then for just a few seconds everywhere glowed pink in the first light of a new day. Moments later the pink hues were replaced by yellow and still made for a spectacular image with the sun just catching the tops of the cooling towers but I think I prefer this 'pink' one.
Fiddlers Ferry Dawn: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 70mm @ f11, 1/40 sec
I have had a few emails from members asking to see the 'yellow' version of the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station image, so I have updated this page to include the other version of the above image. On checking the RAW file I can confirm that there is just 2 minutes 24 seconds between me taking the 'pink' image and the 'yellow' image, that is just how fast the light can change in landscape photography, so being aware of this and being ready for it can often be the difference between capturing a good image and a great one.
First Light, Fiddlers Ferry: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 70mm @ f14, 1/40 sec
Finally I have been experimenting with the square format quite a bit. Sometimes the normal 4x3 landscape format can contain a lot of 'dead space' and a good maxim to use when composing an image is 'if it doesn't add to the scene then remove it'! It is quite an art getting the balance of an image in a square format quite right as the normal 'self imposed rules' such as the rule of 1/3's doesn't apply that often, so its good to think out of the box occasionally. This is an image I made up in the Lake District on a recent trip up there and it really suits the square format.
Transient Light: Canon 5D MkIII, ISO 100 - 100mm @ f14, 1/50 sec
In this months 'featured image' I am going to discuss how I made this image taken at Porth Nanven, Cornwall.
When 'out in the field' I always try and imagine how I want my finished image to look before I make my exposure, doing this helps me decide what camera settings will get me the closest RAW capture to enable me to achieve my goal.