A first outing since I have had my pacemaker fitted and now have some energy and stamina. I visited with my photo buddy Jean Bint and we picked the best day of the year so far. The sun shone in blue skies and it was comfortably warm. This was our second trip to the National Trust property and a good deal had changed since the last visit in 2010. Take a look here for some more images from the day. http://ajpphotography.co/galleries/recent-photographs/croome-park-2016/
I went with my photo-buddy Jean to take a walk around the gardens at Painswick. The journey there showed the tress to be displaying glorious autumn colours but oddly the trees in the garden area were not so colourful. It might be that the area is sheltered in a sort of valley. Anyway everything was in good shape with lots of work being dome since the last visit there. The sun was warm and bright until mid afternoon. I took my TSE 24 shift lens and played about with this to gain some good effects, like the reflections of trees in the main pond.
Take a look here to view some of the shots taken here http://ajpphotography.co/galleries/events-and-ephemeral/rococo-garden-painswick/
Some time ago I read that a photographer had made a computer controlled focus rack using an old flatbed scanner and controlled by a Raspberry Pi miniature computer. The recent release of the Raspberry Pi Mark II and a find of an old scanner in a skip inspired me to develop the idea for myself. The results are pleasing and some more examples are in a gallery that I have setup to show some of the work. I use a canon 5D III with the Canon MPE-65mm Macro lens and an MT-24 EX flash head. The scanner unit does not drive the camera in my manifestation of the idea. The camera kit was too heavy to move smoothly due to friction. Instead I move the subject on the focussing rail which works very accurately and smoothly in steps of just .01 of a mm. The python program I developed calculates the necessary steps from the Magnification setting of the lens and the Aperture setting of the camera. The software allows the subject to be positioned at the nearest and farthest sharp focus points and then the steps are calculated and the process starts. The Raspi drives some electronics which in turn drives the stepper and fires the shutter. Input is via 4 buttons on the scanner and the keyboard connected to the Raspi. The images are sent from the camera to computer via EOS utility and then the focus stacking is done from Lightroom using Helicon Focus.
See here for some samples http://ajpphotography.co/galleries/macro-work/various-using-auto-focus-rack-and-stacker/
http://www.tonesshots.com/galleries/uk-national-parks/peaks-in-autumn/http://www.tonesshots.com/galleries/uk-national-parks/peaks-in-autumn/http://www.tonesshots.com/galleries/uk-national-parks/peaks-in-autumn/To go straight to the shots use this link
After a successful first visit to the Peak District national Park in May this year I decided to return to try and capture the park in autumn. Various constraints drove me to plan for the first week in November. I think I was a little late for the best colours. However I did get over three days of very good weather. The days were pleasant and mild, the skies were mainly cloudless but blue. The sun was very low in the sky throughout the day causing some problems with shadows. Although the weather was very pleasant I missed the drama that the expected showery conditions can create. Anyway, one has to accept and make the best of any conditions a pre-planned trip presents to the photographer when he gets there.
I did a lot of clambering to viewpoints and skidding about in muddy conditions. Twice I had slippery falls into mud but my camera kit survived both of these. I found the climbs and treks very stretching and had to balance the potential for a picture against the effort to get to the spot. Anyway I did my best to squeeze the best from the usable days whilst I was there. It is a lovely area and Bakewell, the town in which I stayed is delightful.
Take a look at the gallery I have created with the shots I liked best.
Outside my studio I have built a feeding station (made from recycled wood) for the many birds that thrive in the grounds here. For some time now a pair of woodpeckers have been feeding on the fat squares. These are very nervous birds and it took them a long time to settle down to become regular visitors. I read somewhere that birds of this sort have a small 'circle of fear' . Eventually they got used to my movements inside the studio; they can see this as the feeding station is right outside my main window. Recently I noticed that the parents were feeding their young near to the station. The parent bird would fill its beak with the fat and then nearby in the trees and bushed would do beak to beak feeding. I got interested in trying to photograph this but had little success at first. To get pictures of the sort needed me to intrude into the spaces around the feeding area which would quickly scare them off. Gradually I assembled a set of tools to help me see what was going on without trampling about in the bushes. One very helpful asset is a Microsoft LifeCam HD wideangle camera. A small device about the size of a film can which was easy to waterproof and fit onto the feeder. The f2 lens and wide angle view enabled me to watch from the comfort of my chair and learn where the birds were feeding and how they approached. Next I set up a camera outside in a suitable spot and with the remote control of the 5D Mk III using the Canon utility. Next I resurrected an old Zigview R which has a motion detect mode. A Hahnel inspire has also helped a bit to remotely control a camera although the Wireless transmission was poor inside the house. I think this is down to noise from routers and wireless keyboards etc.
Anyway slowly over the last week I have been practising using all the facilities listed above and have started to get some results. It is clear that wildlife and bird photography requires a lot of practice and understanding of their behaviour. I do admire the guys who do this work so successfully. Below is a link to a few shots that have worked quite well, including some taken of a Green woodpecker in a local orchard.
I spent a week exploring the Peak district based in the very pleasant town of Bakewell. This was the first visit for me and I found plenty of sites to photograph. As usual the weather was difficult to read and trying to be at the right place at the right time was the main impediment to getting good shots. One day was a write-off with rain and uniform grey skies all day long. One day was very good with some dramatic skies and heavy storms punctuated by interesting skies. The other days were showery and pretty good at times for some well lit shots. I managed to climb to the top of Mam Tor during a break in some storms. This nearly killed me but was a good move and I am quite pleased with the results from here.
I met some very nice people in the area. I will go back again at a different time of the year and see if I can better the keep rate.
Here is the link to the gallery for the rest of the shots.
A couple of days ago it stopped raining and some sun opened up the flowers around the garden here. Is it Spring I wonder? See here for more evidence
I went to Brussels for the weekend on the Eurostar. A very unusual place with a rich mix of old and new. Many areas were very grotty and many very beautiful. Most noticeable was the clear pre-dominance of Eastern Europeans begging, hanging about in the streets and sleeping in railway stations. Attempted pick pocketing was experienced and in places the atmosphere was intimidating. I was with my granddaughter and her partner who gave me plenty of exercise walking about the huge city. Click on this link to get a gallery of the shots I liked best.
The featured shot above was not far from our Hotel and was on Bvd Simon Bolivariaan near the Gare Nord Metro station.
re-visited Cumbria with a bag full of heavy camera kit and a head full of ideas. The weather was not too unkind, just one half day of torrential rain out of four but only 1 day and a half of good light. So I went in pursuit of such things as red squirrels and the amazing sight of Salmon leaping up a waterfall at the river Kent etc. When the light was good I managed to get in the right place at the right time on a few occasions. I encountered many a big 4 x 4 travelling at high speed towards me on narrow lanes and plenty 'white van men' displaying annoyance at me looking for a place to stop having spotted a rainbow or similar photo opportunity but came through all these challenging situations OK. I find in the case of the big 4X4 I look as simple as I can and wait till they give in and reverse. I am thinking of getting a flat cap to enhance the 'silly old fool' image I try to create but it gets easier every day; I wonder why that is? For white van man I just ignore them and let them do their worse which usually amounts to some bravado overtaking at high speed on a blind bend and then I generally find they can't proceed very much faster than I was doing so catch them up at the next junction. Hey Ho.
Anyway see here for a gallery of images from my four day trip.
The featured shot above is of Slater's Bridge Lower Langdale. Worth the hike for a shot I think.
Not long ago I joined up with a photographer and we went to Blenheim Palace fro a battle re-enactment by the Sealed Knot organisation. This was a remarkable and well organised event. Plenty of photographic opportunity and a very entertaining day. Lighting was good and not too much H&S nonsense, just enough to ensure the safety of normal people and not much in the way of intrusive coloured tapes etc.
Here is a link to some of my shots from the day.