Early Morning Write Off in Stevington

tevington Mill before dawn.

Stevington Mill before dawn – (c) M4Photo.

Well this morning was a complete write off.  Following some amazing clear and frost mornings with massive golden and red balls of sun rising into the morning sky – enjoyed at 60 mph during the school run, I’d decided to chance my arm over at Stevington this weekend.

Looking at the weather forecast on Friday night, Saturday looked to be a non starter.  The temperature was set to rise five degrees and into the positive figures and the sky was set to be overcast from the outset.  So into Sunday and checking the forecast again late Saturday and then again in the early hours of Sunday, the sky was supposed to be clear from around 06.00 right through the day.  In fact, my iPhone apps (I don’t rely on just one) were all pointing to full sun and clear skies by 09.00.  The temperature was set to -1 on one app and zero on another, so the heavy ground frost and winter feel that I was looking for was looking doubtful.

Anyway, I left the house at 6.30 to get to the mill for around 7.00.  Worryingly the sky looked black and heavy and the inevitable blanket of thick cloud presented itself as the sky began to brighten over the horizon.

I never did get the sunrise and huge golden ball as it broke the horizon and began its slow relentless climb into the morning sky.  In fact, I did not even see the sun until the cloud cover began to break up well after 09.00.  That will have to keep for another time and this coming weekend is looking interesting as the arctic weather is set to return.

I only took a handful of images and most of those have gone into the bin as the lighting produced nothing special.  The best of the bad lot was the very first image that I took as I arrived.  Presented with a lovely silhouette of the mill against the dark morning sky, I quickly grabbed the image above.

For now, the mill will have to wait until next time.

Memories & Post Processing – I don’t recall that scene!

Austria Sunrise Split ImageFor as long as I can remember, I have been taking images that form memories.  Be those places that I have visited, scenes that inspired me and, more recently as an event photographer, moments in time that capture a personal memory.  Throughout this time, I have shied away from post processing mainly because I believe that a post processed image loses the ability to hold the memory and usually the whole reason for the image in the first place.

However, I have recently had numerous conversations with people promoting the benefits and virtues of post processing and I decided to run a quick test using 500px.

www.500px.com is a photographic website where photographers can upload their images and like minded people can view, like and favourite any images that they like.  The site provides a pulse which gives the photographer a nice report of how well their image fairs on the website.  There is also the usual comments section, for those people inclined to leave some feedback for the image.

Whilst in Austria over Christmas, I look a photograph from our apartment window of a wonderful red and cyan sunrise over the mountains.  The valley was full of dense fog and the whole scene was hazy – this made for an image which was not super clear but it captured my memory of that final morning of the holiday.  The image below pretty much represents my recollection of the scene.

For me, this image captures my memory.  It reminds me of the sub zero temperature flooding the room as the window was opened, the beautiful colours pushing through the fog and the battle to get a reasonable photograph through the haze and the dim light before the sun rose too far and the colours changed.

Final Morning Sunrise over Maishofen.

The above image was posted to 500px and it received 14 Views, 5 Likes and zero Faves. The all important Pulse rating rose to 35.9 and it has been around that figure ever since.  No great surprise there because the image is a little dull coloured, but that was what I wanted- a record of my memory of the scene in front of me.

Anyway, the point of this exercise was to see what I could do with about five minutes in Lightroom.

I should point out that I had seen a photograph for sale locally which was similar to the scene in my image.  However, in that image the sky was the main focal point with bright blues and pinks with the snow on the mountains reflecting the sunlight.  The inspiration therefore, was to try to turn my image into something close – after all, the photograph for sale had a whopping price tag of £60.00, including the glass panel style frame.

Running up Lightroom, I located my image file and and simply made some Lens Correction adjustments for the camera.  I decided to stay away from the may presets because I had a rough idea of what I wanted to achieve and none of those would get me anywhere close.  I then went to work with the sliders in the Basic section, Noise Reduction and Sharpening sections.  Nothing overly technical, I just wanted to experiment over the five minute time limit that I had set myself.

Zel Um See Sunrise

The image above was the final result and quite a change from the original.

The memory has now gone from this scene.  It could now be any snow covered mountain range, anywhere in the world.  It has no resemblance to the scene that I awoke to that morning and it is now nothing more than a piece of art to print and hang on someones wall.

So what about the 500px posting.  Well, the views have settled down to 286 but I’m hoping that they tip the 300 mark.  However, where things get really interesting are the Likes (41) and the Faves (15) which gave me a top Pulse rating of 93.5 at the time of writing.

Compare those statistics to the original image and the post processed image has blitzed the original.  I guess that you can conclude that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.  I prefer the original because of the memory that it holds.  Without the memory, the more vibrant, impactful and  more artistic version wins hands down.

All I can say is: Thank goodness tools like Lightroom and Photoshop make non destructive changes to RAW image files.  From now on, I’ll be keeping an original copy of my landscape scenes for my personal memories and a post processed image for the online portfolios and commercial purposes.

Which image do you prefer – I’ll bet that it is the post processed image 😉

Archers of Raunds Tournament Images

AoR 2015 Open Portsmouth Tournemant GalleryToday was a long day at Archers of Raunds, but as usual it was an enjoyable one.  The archery competition was extremely well organised and it ran without a hitch.

I was there with my camera to capture as many decent shots as possible.  Archery is always difficult to photograph at club level because you are always way off to one side and out of the safety zones or behind the archers.  Today was no different and in some respects much worse.

The shoot was a busy one with targets stretching right across the hall and the shooting line was equally as busy with competitors standing just a couple of feet from each other.  This makes front on photographs impossible during the indoor season and side on shots almost as impossible because you have to remain behind the waiting line.  However, therein lies the challenge and with two International archers in session three, I was not ready to give up too quickly.

Anyway, the images should be on the www.m4photo.co.uk website by the time you read this posting.  The images from today can be found in the Archers of Raunds gallery using the image copied above.

What my i sees – Austria

Austria 2014 - Mountains overlooking Zell Um See

Austria 2014 – Mountains overlooking Zell Um See

This Christmas was a little special this year and it involved a trip away from home. Owing to the generosity of some close friends, Joanna, the girls and I bought flights to Austria and we had a wonderful apartment to ourselves for the week. Our friends had the apartment next to us and the whole week proved to be relaxing and highly enjoyable.

I’ll not trouble you with the photographs of us trying to ski and snow board on the mountains, but it was really interesting to see how the weather can affect the scenery.

On arrival we had to make our way into Zell Um See to buy provisions for the week. Sods law that my camera was left behind to allow for shopping bags to be carried back to the apartment and as we left the sun began to sink in the sky turning the mountain tops a beautiful golden colour. We were glad to have some snow later in the week, but this was the first and last time with the golden topped mountains and I missed the display of colour. One very good reason not to leave your camera and phone behind.

Most of the time was spent on the mountains and on excursions which did not really allow for any decent photographs to be taken or the lugging around of my camera gear. However, I kept my iPhone to hand and below are a few of the images that captured the changing weather of our week.

The image above is the awesome view that we had whilst eating lunch on the ski slopes about Zell Um See.  The vista was glorious and we had great weather until mid afternoon when the wind picked up and started whisking the snow up and into our faces.  However, whilst damn cold, the sun did come out over the mountains at midday and I quickly grabbed the image whilst I was able to.

Austria 2014 - Zeller See Lake

Austria 2014 – Zeller See Lake

One of of earliest excursions was into Zell Um See for provisions.  Whilst the rest of our party took to the bars for something to eat and drink, I headed off down to Zeller See Lake.  Most of the week this view was overcast and not overly obliging, but on this trip and armed only with my iPhone the sky cleared and, whilst a little hazzy, I caught the shot above and the one below.

Austria 2014 - Zeller See Lake

Austria 2014 – Zeller See Lake

The image above was taking a little further around the lake and the sun lowering in the sky had begun to turn the snow covered mountains from their bleached white into cream (as taken here) and then golden colours.  Unfortunately, the weather was not kind and the haze obscured the mountain range as the light changed.  I never got back to get the glorious golden coloured mountains on this trip.  Maybe next time.

Austria 2014 - View from Maishofen Bus Shelter

Austria 2014 – View from Maishofen Bus Shelter

We had snow towards the end of the week and one morning the skies cleared enough to capture a shot looking back from the resort.  This was actually taken using my Canon 5D with no filter aids whilst waiting for the bus into town.  Whilst the composition is not wonderful, it was one of the better alpine looking images from the week and it turned out to be one of my favorites.  This image is as taken and I might run it through #Photoshop at some point to lift the colours – not something I like to do too often because I think that it removes the memory.

Austria 2014 - Maishofen

Austria 2014 – Maishofen

The image above is the view from our balcony window.  We were just north of Maishofen and this is a view down the valley towards Zell Um See.  As you can see, the weather was not great on arrival and one of the main reasons why my canon was left in the room – along with leaving hands free for carrying provisions for the week.

As we went through the week the weather turned very overcast with snow clouds dominating the sky.  Trying to find a break in the clouds was tough but I was luck to get some of the images above.  The images below show how the weather can really change a view.

Austria 2014 - Maishofen

Austria 2014 – Maishofen

This was taken just before one of the bigger daytime snow falls during the week.

Austria 2014 - Maishofen

Austria 2014 – Maishofen

This was the day after the snow first fell and the valley was full of low cloud obscuring the mountains.  A couple of days later and the valley floor was bathed in thick mist when we awoke.  By the time this image was taken, the mist had begun to clear a little, just showing how quickly things changed in the valley.

Austria 2014 - Maishofen

Austria 2014 – Maishofen

I woke early on the final morning expecting to see more overcast skies.  To my surprise, I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise.  The valley was full of mist again with the mountains peeking out of the top and the clearing night’s cloud picked out the red of the rising sun.  Again, this was a quick iPhone shot from the balcony and by the time I had reached for my Canon the red sky had gone – these colours appeared and dissipated so quickly.

If this was a trip to capture photographs, rather than a much needed holiday break, I would have had to have been very careful to have researched each shot and made sure that I was in position good and early with the camera mounted and ready to go.

Final Morning Sunrise over Maishofen.

Final Morning Sunrise over Maishofen.

I am planning on getting out and capturing more landscape images this year.  This was always my plan once I had saved up for my filter set and new tripod.  However, an overwhelming nice surprise this morning has resulted in me bringing those equipment purchasing plans forward by a few months.  Later in the Spring, I will be flying off to Navada and California to learn how to take high quality landscape photographs with one of the best names in the business.  More on that later.

Now this posting goes under the heading of what my i sees, and that means the #iPhone or #iPad.  It has often been said that the best camera is the one that you have to hand and this was even more apparent during this trip.  Not least on the flight home.  Somewhere over Europe the airplane made a turn, the cloud base smoothed like I have never seen before and I was presented with a somewhat other worldly photo opportunity.

iPhone capture of the sun whilst cruising over Europe.

iPhone capture of the sun whilst cruising over Europe.

The image quality is not great because it was taken on the iPhone, through a double glassed commercial aircraft window at x,000 feet up above the clouds.  However, I just love the sun burst (even if the sun is completely blown out) and the colours of the cloud base.  With a slight curvature, it looks like a photograph taken from space as we cruise over some alien planet. An image that I strangely enjoy every time it pops up on my screen.

For those of you that are pictorially and photo technically brilliant, none of the images in this posting have been corrected using #Photoshop.  They are just a handful of natural light images that I like and which captured my week in #Austria.  I hope that you enjoy them as  much as I do.