First off, for the avid readers of my blog (both of you!), apologies for not posting in a while! I'll try to do much better this year! I have a very interesting trip to Eastern Europe planned that I'll no doubt share with you!
"a little insight into how I take photos"
As we head into 2019, I thought I'd share my personal favourite images taken in Cornwall throughout 2018 - with a little insight into how I take photos. Almost mid-way through the year, I upgraded my kit to include a full frame Canon 6D MkII + some Lee Filters, which I believe have helped to lift my work. I may do a little review of the camera in later blog.
So, in chronological order...
#01 "ICY PENRYN RIVER"
I'm sure you remember the "Beast From the East" towards the beginning of the year! - This was shot on the 1st of March. With my car abandoned at work but keen to take advantage of this rare occurrence in Cornwall, I grabbed my camera bag and headed out on foot.
This was the scene just a few hundred metres from my house. Pictured here at high tide, ice was beginning to form on Penryn River - something I've never seen here before.
The weather conditions muted the background colours in striking contrast to the rowing boats in the foreground. A little enhancement in post editing pulled this out even more. I used the on camera flash to freeze the falling snow in the foreground.
I actually used this photo together with a snowy picture of Penryn's main street to print Christmas cards - which proved to be more popular than I'd imagined at a Christmas Craft Fair.
For more photos of Penryn in the snow, check out my last article - "7 Snowy pics of Penryn, Cornwall - 2018"
#02 - COT VALLEY WASH
The last "landscape" image taken with my old Canon 700D (I know, it's in portrait orientation, but it's still shows a landscape!) :)
On this visit to Porth Nanven within Cot Valley, near St Just, the usual spot frequented by photographers was covered in an unsightly thick layer of brown seaweed. Another photographer had set up his tripod in the river flowing down to the beach which offered the only good composition in the cove.
"sometimes known locally as "dragon Eggs"
Keen to take home a good shot after the hour long drive (and recent goal drought), I headed over the small headland jutting out to the south and climbed down into a tiny cove on the other side. With the tide almost fully in, I had little room to manoeuvre - but managed to find a pleasing composition looking over some of the valley's famous granite boulders (sometimes known locally as "dragon Eggs") as they were washed by the incoming waves.
The image was shot with a 0.6 second exposure to depict the movement of the water.
#03 - CRANTOCK DUNESCAPE
This image makes my "12 of my Besy Cornwall Photos, 2018" - simply because it was the first photo I took with the new Canon 6D MkII. Photography, like art can be very subjective. A style or subject that one person may like my not be someone else's cup of tea. As a landscape photographer, my connection to the images I shoot extend even beyond how the final result looks - as I draw in my experience, frame of mind or if I overcame certain challenges on location...
On this occasion, I was firstly happy to have managed to take a reasonable shot with my new equipment - and after I had also decided to forsake my usual style of shooting the sunset out to sea - instead photographing dunes illuminated by the golden light of the setting sun (with the meandering water as a lead-in).
I found that this brought new challenges - in finding a composition unspoiled by the shadow cast by my tripod and keeping my feet dry as the incoming tide crept up behind me!
#04 - HOLYWELL GOLD
Holywell Bay defied thick cloud cover to put on a stunning sunset display on this visit. The sun pierced through cloud to give some awesome "God Rays." I used to go for a short(ish) focal length to provide a wide angle for my coastal shots.
But this time I went for a long(ish) focal length to capture the size of the waves and make the rays of light more prominent in the frame. Since taking this photo, I've been using a longer focal length much more often - defining a slight change to my style.
A slowish shutter speed was used to capture mood and movement in the sea though has long been a favoured technique.
#05 - WHEAL COATES & SEA MIST
This is another instance where the photo itself may not be the most amazing - but on a really dull, uninspiring evening with "flat light", I managed to compose an image with a touch of atmosphere.
"I'm beginning to love mist!"
I used the sea mist (I'm beginning to love mist!) to soften the cliffs and add atmosphere. The incoming tide line where the wet sand met the drier sand made for a great lead-in towards the distant focal point - Wheal Coates high on the cliff.
#06 - ALL THAT REMAINS
I visited Sennen with Mark from 'Wild Seascapes' and Matt from 'Kernow From Above' to photograph the wreck of the RMS Mulheim.
Check out their work as they both have some amazing images!...
WILD SEASCAPES - www.wildseascapes.co.uk
KERNOW FROM ABOVE - kernowfromabove.scaw.co.uk
At the time, I felt a little downbeat as Matt was happy with his drone shots and Mark was finding interesting shots - while I struggled to find anything other than basic compositions amongst the mess of twisted metal and granite boulders.
On reflection though, I'm quite happy with this straight forward shot of "all that remains" in one piece. I used a Big Stopper filter to streak out the clouds, allowing the wreck to take centre stage, and a hard grad ND filter to control the exposure of the sky.
#07 - EYE OF THE STORM
While visiting the Mulheim wreck, I took the opportunity to photograph the "Long Ships Lighthouse" from Castle Zawn inlet - the resting place of the wreck.
With my longer lens at 205mm, I got down as low as the tripod would allow (which isnt that low - I may look at getting a more versatile one after I've added to my Lee Filter collection). This served to compress the depth of the image and reduce the area of "dead space" between the breaking wave and the lighthouse / God rays.
#08 - LOST LAGOON
An eerie 'lagoon' formed in Colliford Lake at the end of our long, dry summer.
Our unusually dry summer led to low water levels in reservoirs across the county. I also photographed Argal and Stithians reservoirs - which too revealed new, once hidden landscapes.
Photographed here in September, this small lagoon encircled with drowned, dead trees emerged as Colliford Reservoir's water level dropped - it is now flooded, and "lost" again after the winter rain.
I used a Lee Hard Grad ND filter to balance the brighter tones of the sky with the dark land below it.
#09 - AUTUMN GLOW
Walking back to the car after my first visit to Golitha Falls (on the River Fowey near Liskeard), I saw this brightly coloured tree in the distance. It's orangey-yellow leaves caught my eye in a dark, gloomy corner of the woods.
By this time, it was 10.30 am, but the low autumn sunlight was diffused nicely by thin cloud. Upon reaching the location, the shafts of light from the sun piercing through the shedding trees was a bonus that I just had to include in the composition.
The felled trees and carpet of fallen leaves made for an interesting foreground with lead in lines towards the light.
The image was shot with a polarising filter to bring out the colour in the leaves, with a -1 exposure bias to capture the gloomy setting and a slightly raised ISO to 320 to speed up the shutter enough to avoid wind blur on the leaves.
#10 - PORTHCURNO SUNRISE
Having seen loads of fantastic photos of Porthcurno's golden sand and crystal clear water these past summers, the location had been on my to-do list for a while. Although the summer sunrise and sunset trajectories don't suit how I do things!
On morning of this visit though - with low tide just after sunrise, the winter sunrise trajectory perpendicular to the cove, and a forecast of thin cloud - conditions were just how I like them! So I took my first visit to the beach.
TIP! - I use "The Photographer's Ephemeris" (TPE) App to predict the sunrise / sunset trajectories
This image was composed with a stream as foreground interest - and lead in line sweeping up to the sea, colourful sky and interestingly shaped rocks to the left of frame.
A Lee hard grad filter balanced the bright sky with the land below - while a Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND filter) enabled a 60 second exposure to soften the running water and the blurring of the moving clouds.
#11 - "300"
For one day during my Christmas break (27th December), we had some awesome weather conditions for landscape photography - which produced one of my favourite images of the year. The rest of the period was pretty grey and flat - but luckily we picked the right day to head out!
With my sister, a keen amateur wildlife photographer herself (check out her instagram - @louisamhocking) we were initially heading for Cardinham Woods early ahead of sunrise, But during the drive, as the "blue hour" light started to rise, I noticed that the cloud was fairly thin and the sky quite bright. Now hopeful for a colourful sunrise, I thought being enclosed in a wood may waste this opportunity - so we instead headed for nearby Colliford Lake.
Upon arrival half an hour before sunrise, the sky had already begun to colour up in pink and yellow tones. I quickly marched to the remains tree remains I've photographed before - but in less favourable conditions.
"A little confession here..."
Taken in the moments before sunrise, I used a Lee Hard Grad filter to balance the bright tones of the sky with the ground & lake - and a Big Stopper enabled a 5 minute exposure to streak the clouds and provide a stronger contrast against the trees. A little confession here - this was the first time I have actually metered the light without the filter and adjusted the exposure time appropriately instead of guessing! I used the "Lee Stopper App" to calculate the exposure time.
If you are wondering... the "300" title relates to the number of seconds for the exposure and/or a reference to the film of the same name about Spartan soldiers who stood strong and steadfast.
#12 - SKELETAL TREES
(This another of my favourite images from the year - taken on the same day as above. In fact a couple of other shots of Colliford Lake and Cardinham Woods just missed the cut - but can be viewed on my social media channels.)
"a couple of other shots of Colliford Lake and Cardinham Woods just missed the cut"
After photographing the above image at Colliford Lake, we made the short drive to explore nearby Cardinham Woods - and I'm glad we did! I was fortunate to have some wonderful mid-morning light - diffused beautifully by a thin veil of mist.
The "skeletal" deciduous trees having dropped all their leaves made for strong elements in the shot - softening as they recede into the mist. Framed without the "messy" ground (a tangle of roots, and ferns), and a conversion to black and white (with just a hint of a cool filter) strengthened the tree's bold shapes and simplified the image.
I hope you liked this selection of images (and my commentary), please let me know what you think on my social media channels, and if you have any questions, please ask. Feel free to "share" and all that malarkey!