Archive for the ‘Photo Essays’ Category


April 5, 2012 2 comments


This vista could be anywhere. There are no telling signs of what country it is in, never mind what city. This shot is taken from the beach at Colwyn Bay, North Wales near the pier.

Using the 10 stop filter during the mid morning light I manage to create some fantastic movement in the clouds as well as the milky flows effect in the water. I think you are beginning to get the feeling by now that this is completely my favourite type of subject at the moment. My favourite to photograph that is. I appreciate lots of other genres such as rugged portraiture, soft focus floral, tac sharp macro and abstract.

I love the simple nature of this image. It almost breaks a few ‘rules’ too such as having the horizon in the middle rather than on a third and the lead in line of rocks doesn’t actually lead into anything solid, just the water. I think it just works.

What do you think?


Kit used:-

  • Canon 40D
  • Sigma 10-20mm wide angle
  • Tripod
  • B+W 10 stop filter

Waterfall at Llandulas Beach

March 31, 2012 1 comment

Waterfall at Llandulas Beach – North Wales

Sometimes a shoot requires extra effort and some risk. The risk in this case is that I am stood in the middle of the fast flowing water with my tripod legs dipped below the surface, wedged in between some rocks to steady my kit. With wellies on I am fairly confident my feet won’t get wet, but the grip on the soles are not the best and I am conscious that if some part of me does get wet it will be all of me! All or nothing – including my camera kit! Worth it? I think so!

A neutral density filter is required for a shot like this. A 10 Stop filter would be overkill for what I am trying to achieve here. 3 stops will be plenty, given the available light on this particular day. A polariser is also needed to bring out the cloud detail in the sky.

Flowing water is a brilliant subject to photograph because you can control the kind of mood you are trying to create. You could use a fast shutter speed and freeze the movement or use a slower shutter speed as above to give a more milky effect. I particularly like the smaller flow on the right of this scene. Can you spot the caravan park?

Llandulas beach is a shingle beach in North Wales with plenty of subjects to photograph. You can see more of my work from this location on my main website. I like to work a location when I am there. There are receding groynes in the sea (wave breakers), plenty of pebbles with interesting shapes and colours and this waterfall of course. Whilst only a small beach I think it is worth a visit for any landscape photographer.

Trail Blazin’

March 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Trail Blazin’

One of the first times I experienced the capabilities of the ultra wide angle lens, the Sigma 10-20mm, I remember being blown away by the amount of extra scenery you can fit into the shot.

As usual I try to fit in as many elements as I can with this shot. It’s a dark and cold evening and I’m in the mood for trying something creative. Playing around with the bulb setting on my camera, I spend a good couple of hours exposing (before my fingers drop off) trying to capture the different light trails whizzing underneath the bridge I am perched on. That’s the beauty of light trails – no two shots will be the same. The traffic is changing all of the time.

On this particular evening I am lucky that a maintenance truck is laying out traffic cones with flashing lights on the northbound section of the motorway. Great! Another element I can use.

This long exposure captures enough light from the passing vehicles to illuminate the central reservation as well as the detail in the concrete road. The light from the towns and cities in the distance help to give a slight orange glow to the base of the sky. some may see this as light pollution but I think it gives a hint of sunset feeling.

My favourite part of this shot was actually an accident (perhaps I shouldn’t admit that?). The exposure was long enough to capture the trail of a passing aeroplane in the distance. For me, it looks like it could be a shooting star and is actually makes the shot. Sometimes photography does include a little bit of luck.

Poppies at Bamburgh Castle

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment


Poppies at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Northumberland seems to have been the designation for 2011 camera club holidaymakers. Every man/woman and his/her camera has ventured here this year. The puffins on the Farne Islands attract thousands of tourists to the North East of the country each year and I am no exception. However, my love of the area lies not with the birds but with the landmarks. There are castles galore to be seen and wandered around. Bamburgh Castle is my favourite and trying to find a different view to photograph from is a menacing feat – Not least because it has been done a million times but also because of the position of the sun. One night I tried to shoot at sunset from the other side of the castle and found it difficult to get into a position where I was not also photographing my own shadow! The alternative at this time of year is to shoot into the sun with the castle in silhouette.

The shoot

Driving along the main road towards Bamburgh, with the castle in front of us, I notice the grassy field beside me with dashes of orange and red flowers springing up through the growth. The lightbulb moment happens and I pull the car over in the nearest lay-by, leaving my wife to tend to the car whilst I dash over to investigate further. Yes! Poppies! Perfect!

I know the image i want. The clouds are necessary in a shot like this, the colour of the poppies will bring the image to life and the combination of red blue and green will make the shot. I set up the tripod as low as it will go, attach a circular polariser and ND grad to bring out the detail in the sky. Using a wide angle lens has its advantages and disadvantages. It depends on what you are trying to achieve whether it is appropriate to use one. In my case I want to capture the poppies as well as the gorgeous sky. The castle has now become the least significant feature in the image. That’s ok with me. I am trying for a different take after all. It is interesting how shoots turn out.

After a good 30 minutes or so, tinkering with the composition, I return to my wife and car a happy camper. (any longer and the wife and car might have left me there!).

Urban Directions

February 22, 2012 1 comment



Taken in an underground car park using various lighting methods. The striking prime colours bring a real connection between the foreground, middle and background of the scene.



Trophy and gold medal for overall winning image of the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union annual PDI knockout competition 2009 as well as acceptances in numerous other exhibitions throughout the UK.


The setup

The scene before me cries out to be photographed. It’s pitch black in the corner of an empty underground car park. I set up the tripod and camera, loaded with my trusty wide-angle lens. I love using the wide angle because the range from 10-20mm gives an ultra wide perspective on the scene. With bulb mode selected I have complete control over the exposure time. There is an art to this though. Too long an exposure and all the important parts will be washed out. Too short an exposure and the scene will not reveal itself.


The shoot

Flash gun, small torch, and home-made gels at the ready, I click the shutter on the cable release to start the exposure. Excited with anticipation of what is about the unfold and be revealed on the camera’s preview screen I run around like a mad man attaching different coloured gels and firing off the flash gun, taking extra care not to capture myself on the memory card. The picture in my mind is clear. I want to include three primary colours that complement each other and collectively create an image which is striking enough to the viewer to stop and take at least a second look.


I sprint back to the setup, click the release button again and wait for the big reveal. It’s always a tense moment when you shoot on bulb mode because the exposure is more of an educated guess than a sensor-calculated time. The camera’s display looks great. I can’t wait to get this up on my monitor to see what it really looks like!



Surprisingly, relatively little boosting of the saturation is needed for this shot. The colours speak loud enough for themselves already. Just a little bit of curves and levels adjustment to bring out some of the detail in the rugged concrete and darker background areas.



Bulb mode. Aperture F/5.6. 135 second exposure. Red, green and blue acetate moulded to fit on the flashgun and the small torch using black gaffer tape. Tripod. Cable release. Good grippy trainers.



Sticks and Stones

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment


Shot at Llandulas beach, north Wales. It’s the “almost” uniform recession of the groynes as well as the detail in the foreground that makes this picture for me.

The setup

Foreground is so important when shooting landscapes. It gives a sense of scale as well as depth to a picture. It brings the sole shot together. Foreground interest gives the viewer a starting point for their journey through the image. Tripod is a must for this shot – a long exposure of 100 seconds requires complete stillness, which is difficult when you are freezing your assets off on a windy beach.

The shoot

The trusty wide-angle lens is out again. I get really low down to the ground, and in close to the rocks to exaggerate their size. I know the shot I want in my head. I want milky water, almost fog-like, frothing over the rocks and a calm tranquil sea for the groynes to descend into. For this I need a Neutral Density filter capable of stopping down the light for a good few seconds. It can only mean one thing… This is a job for the 10 -stop filter!

I arrange the kit, making sure the camera is focused on the right spot to ensure the whole image is sharp. Using the camera’s exposure meter I now calculate how long I would need to leave the shutter open for based on its current reading. Being careful not to move the setup, I now attach the 10-stop filter. With bulb mode applied, I now dial in the aperture (f/22) and press the shutter-release cable button and wait. This is the hard part – waiting for time to pass, concentrating on not disturbing any rocks underfoot otherwise the whole setup will have to be restarted. 100 seconds later – click. That’s it, done. I view the camera’s preview image and histogram to make sure the calculated exposure time was accurate. Got it.


Being next to the sea it is inevitable that the filter will catch some of the spray from the water, especially on a windy day, so a few minutes viewing the shot at 100% is necessary to make sure I clear up the dust-bunnies using Photoshop’s spot-healing brush. Some levels adjustments and sharpening and I’m happy.