Aurora Hunting in Norway – Trip Report, Day One.
Its 16:00 here in Sommeroy, north Norway and its been dark for two hours. Outside the hotel a blizzard rages. Visibility is below 50 meters at times. Welcome to Norway!
I'm here co-leading a workshop with famed aurora and landscape photographer Antony Spencer for Light & Land. We have just collected our group of 12 clients from Tromso airport and arrived safely at our hotel about an hours drive away. The journey was interesting to say the least as the blizzard raged. Here in Norway, they leave a thick layer of ice on the roads all winter and just scrape away the excess snow.
A New App from the Maker of the Photographers Ephemeris
I was very privileged to be asked by Stephen Trainor earlier this year to be one of the beta testers of a new app he has designed to complement the hugely successful and absolutely essential photographers app, The Photograpers Ephemeris (TPE).
TPE has been around for a while now and is available as a desktop program or as an iOS or Android app. For most landscape and outdoor photographers it has become an essential part of their location planning kit. I couldn't imagine doing my job without it. I also can't imagine the brains and ability that has gone into designing such a complex and useful program.
The Fuji X-Pro 1 – Is It a Landscape Photographers Camera? Some Initial Thoughts.
As followers of my work will know, I have been shooting exclusively wit he Fuji X-Pro 1 for about a month now. My main camera is a Canon 5D mk3 (and I also shoot on film with an ancient and much beloved Hasselblad 500C and wooden Zero Image pinhole camera).
I bought the Fuji primarily for lightweight travel photography, street photography and as a carry anywhere camera. However, as soon as I started to see the results it produced I was keen to see how it performed in my main shooting environment as a professional - the landscape.
Customer Images from Skye Trip
I had a lot of positive comments about my daily trip report blog which I posted while leading a workshop in Glencoe and Skye a few weeks ago. To follow this up I thought it would be nice to show you a few of the images made by members of the group. They have picked some of their personal favorites to show you here. I am always fascinated how several photographers can be at the same location at the same time and yet they capture the place in quite different ways.
Talk for the Royal Photographic Society
I feel very privileged, and a bit frightened, to have been invited by the Royal Photographic Society in the East Midlands to be one of two speakers at their annual 'Landscape Spectacular' event on 17th November.
I am to join talented and creative photographer, Peter Paterson , who is a Fellow of the RPS. We will both be giving lectures on landscape photography and also fielding questions from the audience.
“Sea Fever” – The New Book from David Baker
David Baker, or Milouvision as many of his online followers will know him, has been photographing and blogging for years (www.milouvision.com). Building his following and honing his skills with the camera, he has risen to real prominence over the last couple of years, first winning Outdoor Photography magazines 'Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2012' title, followed by three successful exhibitions and the 2012 Landscape Photographer of the Year 'Your View' category winner, culminating now in the publication of his first book, “Sea Fever”.
Exclusive First Interview with Landscape Photographer of the Year Winner 2013 Tony Bennett
After a long and nail biting wait wait for the photographers who had images shortlisted in this years Landscape Photographer of the Year competition the announcement was made at the weekend that Derby based photographer, Tony Bennett had won the overall prize with his image "Mist and Reflections" (above). I was especially delighted for Tony as I know him as a customer who has been on my workshops (although I take absolutely no credit for his win. Tony is a long established photographer who has been making images for many years).
First Impressions of the Fuji X Pro 1 – A Day on the Streets
I have taken the plunge and bought a second hand Fuji X Pro 1. Why? A number of reasons. I needed a smaller camera system for some trips that could produce high quality commercial images but without the weight and bulk of my DSLR system. I had also had a chance to use the X Pro and it's sibling the X100sa nd both had blown me away both in terms of usability and in the 'filmic' quality of the images the sensor and lenses produce. I also hold my hands up and unashamedly admit to being seduced by the beautiful retro styling and the superb build quality of the Fuji's. I have some workshop ideas for the camera too, so there were commercial considerations in my mind also.
Skye Expedition- Day Seven
Day seven of our expedition to Skye, a day to move on, a day to start heading south again.
The group were up again an hour before sunrise to take on the mighty Sligachan river outside the hotel before breakfast and a frosty sunrise ensure clear views of the Cullin and a chance to capture the raging river and rapids.
Skye Expedition – Day Six
Day six. The Big One. Any landscape trip to Skye necessitates a dawn shoot at the Old Mano of Storr. It is not a huge distance from the road, but the ascent is hard for all but the fittest. With a camera bag and tripod it is even harder. Add to this the fact the ascent has to be made in total darkness and it is a tough climb. In order to be in position up there an hour before sunrise you need to be leaving the car park at the base about an two and a half to three hours before sunrise. So we left our hotel at 04:30.
Skye Expedition – Day Five
Day five dawned and looked, again, unpromising, but is an example of how the weather up in Scotland can be deceptive. Again the group headed out to shoot the Sligachan river below the Cullin. There was not a star in the sky and the cloud hung low over the ridge. It had the makings of a dead loss. However, the old adage that the "harder I work, the luckier I get" proved true. Very gradually the clouds began to move and the light rose spectacularly. The diligence and effort of the group was rewarded with some great images of the Cullin with the mighty falls of Sligachan in the foreground, and all before breakfast.
Skye Expedition – Day Four
We gathered outside the hotel only to be greeted with murky skies and drizzle but to make the most of what light there was and to get something out of the herculean effort we had put into getting up, we set up to make some images. Rather than work against the conditions and get frustrated with rain on the filters, I suggested the group leave the tripods behind, choose a lens with a tubular lens hood, crank up the ISO and shoot the layers of hills with light emerging through the swirling cloud. The conditions really lent themselves to moody black and white images.
Skye Expedition – Day Three
Yesterday Scotland bit back as it often does. Perhaps it feels the need to just remind us, after a day as good as yesterday, that it is still in charge and we should not get complacent. We awoke to driving rain and very low cloud and this continued throughout the day. Scotland is capable of throwing significant amounts of rain at you and I suppose we shouldn't complain. After all, it is the weather here that goes a long way to forming the land into what it is that makes it so attractive to us as landscape photographers.
Skye Expedition – Day Two
Day two kicked off with everyone meeting in reception at 06:00 and promptly going straight back to bed. This was not a revolt against shooting sunrise, it was in recognition that the driving rain and wind meant that while the sun was going to rise, we were not going to witness it.
So, take two, we met for breakfast at 08:00 and tucked in to the full Scottish. Oh, yes. the VERY full Scottish. Well, you can't concentrate on photography if you are hungry can you?
Skye Expedition – Day One
So, what is a week long photography expedition with me like? Well, this week I am taking a group of six clients up to Rannoch Moor, Glencoe and Skye so I thought, if time allows, I would try and blog to give you a flavour of what a trip like this is like.
The craziness began at 02:00 yesterday. I met with three of the group, Keith, Kevin & John (names haven't been changed to protect the guilty). The reason for the early start? I had the idea that we could squeeze in sunrise at Bamburgh in Northumberland en-route to picking up the rest of the group at Edinburgh airport.
3:2, 1:1, 5:4, 16:9 and so on. When we get a camera it comes complete with an aspect ratio. Indeed, some now come with a switch or menu item to simulate various aspect ratios, but basically our sensor size, film size, glass plate or paper negative gives us our aspect ratio.
And off we go and play with it.
It becomes our frame. The border we work within. It confines our vision and gives structure to our images. In fact, I struggle to think of anything which has a greater overall influence on our compositions than the aspect ratio of our chosen camera. It has a tendency to dictate to us how we compose our images.
Following on from the theme of my last post I wanted to tell you about a conversation I had recently. A photographer asked me recently where I was planning to photograph in the coming months. When I told him he explained how he had no interest in going to those locations because he had already "done them".
On chatting further, it became apparent he viewed locations much like a twitcher views rare birds. As something to be acquired. Ticked off. And once visited to be of no consequence. Been there, done that, what's next? A teenager with a low boredom threshold.
Seeing for Ourselves
I read an unattributed quote recently. The gist of it was this;
"The photographer who is able to look at the work of another, admire it and not be tempted to imitate it has finally begun to mature"
It seems to me there is a lot in this. As photographers, most of us love and seek out the work of others. I spend hours each week looking at photographs. The quality of what I find often amazes me. Some shocks me. A lot is awful, but then that's only my opinion which is only of worth to me, and some makes me smile. I do like images which make me smile.
Adobe announce new Creative Cloud package for photographers
Adobe caused a huge amount of anger, resentment and upset with its surprise announcement some months ago that along with launching its Creative Cloud service it would no longer be releasing any of its Creative Suite products (including Photoshop) in any other format in future. No more downloadable version to own. No more DVD's.
Basically, the Creative Cloud allows you to have any of the Adobe Creative Suite program's installed on your computer and for this 'privilege' you pay a monthly subscription. It was a brave move by Adobe to make this move so decisively. I believe this model is the one all major software manufacturers will want to move us to in order to guarantee cash flow into their coffers.
Why Usability is More Important than Image Quality To Me and Why I Wouldn’t Buy Nikon.
Lets get one thing really clear at the outset. This post is not a Canon verses Nikon post. I am a Canon user and this post will go some way to explaining why, but right from the beginning lets be clear, If image quality is the most important factor to you in camera choice right now, as a DSLR buyer then go right ahead and get yourself a Nikon D800. It is amazing. What you read in the reviews is right about the quality of the files it produces. Here, at last is a DSLR which produces files very (very) close to medium format quality. You will not be disappointed by the images you get from it as regards the way it handles colour, contrast or detail. You will be able to crop into images heavily and still be able to produce wonderful prints. It is a 'game changer'.
New Dropbox Style Cloud Based Service with 20gb Free Space
As followers of my blog are aware, I am a keen backer up of my files and advocate using off site cloud based services, such as Dropox, Skydrive, Googledrive etc.
Each of these companies gives its users a small amount of storage space for free to get them used to using the cloud. They also hope that soon we will want more space and so sign up for their paid service. Here you pay for how much space you require per month.
“With Trees” by Dav Thomas, a Review
In 1961 a very young Bob Dylan recorded "Blowin in the Wind" and within months his life had changed forever. After seeing "With Trees" I have a feeling life won't ever be quite the same for Dav, either.
So here we are in the lull before the storm. I think it's true to say that, outside of UK landscape photography circles, Dav is largely unknown. But amongst us he already has a reputation for quietly doing his own thing with no other purpose than to make beautiful images. If Dav tweets a link to a new image on his website, Twitter goes quiet for a while as we all click to see what he has achieved this time. Then the retweets and plaudits begin, such is his reputation.
Shooting Landscapes Handheld. You Are Joking!
I have written some time ago about my thoughts on working with what you've got. Basically, the premise of my mantra is, if all you have is a 50mm lens, then shoot with it. If its raining, rather than giving you he technicolor sunrise you envisioned, shoot the rain. You get the idea.
Recently, on the day I broke my leg in fact, I had to work to my own maxim.
Limited Edition Prints. Should I Sell Them? Should I Buy Them?
Let me start by saying I don't issue limited edition prints myself. Although some would argue that I sell so few prints they are all, in fact, limited editions. :)
I came across an article this morning commenting on a court case in the US. In the case a very serious collector of limited edition prints by the photographer William Eggleston had complained to the courts because Eggleston (or his estate) had issued a new "limited edition" of a famous print of his, some years after the original edition had sold out. You can read about the case here.