Blog, Landscapes

Oxburgh Hall in colour

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Oxburgh Hall

Processed in Lightroom 5.7

I think that’s virtually all the exterior viewpoints covered now. I felt that these shots were best presented in colour, though as you might be able to tell, I still decided to stylize them somewhat. I hope you like the results.

I may post a few detail shots next time but I think that’ll be the last in this series.

Thanks for viewing.

Blog, Landscapes, Mono

Oxburgh Hall (wide angle)

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Oxburgh Hall

Processed in Lightroom 5.7 & Topaz B&W Effects.

The second in this shot series of photographs, this time showing a wider view. Processed using the same technique as the previous shot.

Next time I’ll post a couple of colour shots.

Thanks for stopping by.

Blog, review

A day at Ightham Mote with the Nokia Lumia 920

So my wife and I decided to have a family day out at Ightham Mote, a beautiful National Trust property set in the wonderful Sussex countryside. Also, I thought, a great opportunity to test out the camera on the Nokia Lumia 920. One small problem though, I forgot to put it on charge and because I’d connected it to my home router the battery was only showing 50% left. Oh well, I took along my trusty Fuji X10 just to make sure I had everything covered.
It turned out to be a bright sunny day so the harsh lighting would certainly pose a challenge. Trying to view the screen in bright sunlight can sometimes be infuriating but the beautiful and huge screen of the Lumia was surprisingly clear and I had no real troubles using it outdoors.
Inside the house the darker rooms proved to be a bit more of a challenge as the iso only goes up to 800, even on a tiny sensor I would like to have seen it go up to at least iso1600. Despite this I still managed to get a few shots inside the house, luckily I have a very steady hand.
So there’s a couple of things that do annoy me a little, and that is the rather limited features Nokia have decided to put into the camera. First, there is no way to decouple focusing and shutter release. I like to make sure I have focus first before taking the shot but having both focus and shutter coupled together resulted in me getting a lot of shots destined for the bin. Aha I thought, enter Camera 360, a photo app I downloaded from the Windows store. It has the separated focussing and shutter I desire and also has a manual focus ability. Additionally there’s a number of cool effects that you can apply too. Now I’m not here to review the camera apps but because it had a couple of simple shooting features not found in the default camera I though it would be a good work around. Not so, upon transferring my shots to the computer I was disappointed to find the app works at a much lower resolution, around 3.1 MP! A bit of a come down from the 8.7MP you’ll get shooting the camera normally.
Still I got a few shots that I liked which you can view below.

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Blog, Landscapes, Tips

The Early Bird

Bodiam Castle shot moments before sunrise giving a lovely orange glow reflected on the clouds.

The early bird catches the worm, and the same goes for photographers if you want to get out and take great pictures. There is no hard and fast rule but generally speaking the best time to get a great quality of light is to be out at either end of the day. From dawn till just after sunrise, and from about an hour either side of sunset.

Get there early!

Of course there are going to be differing factors throughout the year, such as shorter days during winter where the sun is also lower, and longer days during the summer months where the sun gets much higher and stronger, but whatever time of the year I would always recommend getting out as early as is necessary. Find out when sunrise is and get there at least an hour before, this will give you time to walk around to find the best spot and set your gear up. If you’re ready to go with time to spare you’ll be much more relaxed giving you the opportunity to take in your surroundings. I think that if you can immerse yourself with what’s going on around you, the feeling you get will translate to the picture and hopefully the viewer.

Take these pictures for example. I arrived whilst it was still dark thus giving me time to have a good walk around to view all the angles and consider different compositions. Once I had the pictures in my head it was just a matter of watching the sky to see where the first signs of light would come from. The low morning sun gives beautiful warm tones and because it’s low it casts shadows that define elements in the scene, giving a greater sense of shape and depth. The shot above was bracketed and tonemapped so I could get some detail in the stonework which the camera couldn’t record in a single exposure but my eye could see perfectly. I could’ve used an ND grad to help balance the sky but this would have darkened the tops of the towers. Even when doing an HDR image it is important to keep the shadows and not get carried away with balancing all the elements in the scene just because the software can make it possible.

The shot below (taken on a different day, not bracketed) shows the light just after sunrise, with the warmth of the sun being just enough to evaporate the water giving the scene a wonderful moody atmosphere. It just wouldn’t have had the same feel and impact had it been taken during the middle of the day, and I certainly wouldn’t have got all the steam coming from that moat.

So get up early and don’t be tempted by the warmth of that duvet…You’ll be rewarded.