Here I'll share with you twelve photos taken in the first week of our government enforced Coronavirus lockdown, from 27-03-2020 to 03-04-2020...
**Note that the images on my website have been compressed for faster page loading, at the expense of a little image quality**
**Just want the pictures? Scroll down to skip my preamble...**
With lock down instructed by the government to help combat the COVID-19 virus, I've been taking my camera on walks from home in Penryn, Cornwall, as my daily exercise allowance. Without being able to take these daily walks, I think I'd go insane!
My favourite time to shoot is first thing in the morning for the quality of light and solitude. I've even spotted four deer this week - two of which came within metres of me! This time of day is also ideal for a lockdown walk. There's generally very few people about (helping to maintain social distancing) and it gives me some images to process through the day. It keeps me in a routine with a sense of normality and purpose.
I usually like to feel that I'm having a bit of an explore or adventure with my photography. So, I'd normally drive up to an hour from home to visit Cornwall's little coves, woods or moors. This has meant that, although I know my home town pretty well (I've lived in Penryn half my life and neighbouring Falmouth the other half), I don't tend to explore it with my camera. So now, I'm photographing places on my doorstep that I've overlooked or never visited all this time.
I've found that the travel restrictions have provided more advantages than disadvantages for my photography (or maybe I'm just looking on the bright side)...
The main disadvantage of course is fewer options. I have Penryn River on my doorstep and Glasney woods about 15 minutes away. I've found a new walk through farmland towards Enys Estate. But that's pretty much it for my type of landscape photography. As time goes on, this could well leave me less inspired to get up early to re-tread old ground. I have just ordered some macro extension tubes though - so that might give me something else to try!
There are lots of advantages though:
- The (self-imposed) pressure of choosing a location is off! I wake up before sunrise and walk out the door. Having checked the tide times, I look at the sky and decide there and then - River or Woods! And that's it! No agonising over apps the night before to try to decide what the weather is doing in order to choose a location. I just get up and go!
- I have some degree of flexibility. If I do make the wrong choice, Glasney woods or St Gluvias Cemetery are each a 5 minute walk from Penryn Quay for example.
- The (self imposed) pressure to succeed every time is off! With such restrictions and finding new places, I'm no longer hopefully expectant to get that epic shot every morning.
- No (or little) equipment cleaning! As I can't visit the coast (it's too far to reasonably walk), there's no need to clean sand and sea-salt off my tripod, camera and filters every time I return home. I only really need to clean the tripod if I've shot from "muddy beach" at low-mid tide. Which I've only done once this week.
- I've found a new walk that through farm land and woods, right from house, that I never knew about!
Well, that's enough waffling from me! Here are my best twelve photos taken in week one of lockdown...
I've walked down to Penryn River a few times this week. For the most part, helped by the clocks changing, the tide was high. So I shot mostly from the quay. On one morning, when a lower tide coincided with sunrise, I walked the river's edge (muddy beach) and bagged a shot.
Interestingly, there was only one composition I found from the quay that did it for me. And, despite standing in the same spot, with the tripod at the same height, with the same focal length, pointed in the same direction, I got some surprisingly different shots!...
G R A C E Taken first thing in the morning, this image of a mute swan gracefully paddling on a calm Penryn River is kind of a metaphor for what we're going through right now.
We all know the analogy - how a swan appears graceful despite furiously kicking under the water... Well to me, this sunrise was so calm and serene, despite the chaos around us with the COVID-19 virus. The image was shot as three bracketed exposures for HDR processing, with an extra slightly faster shot of the swan blended over the top. The swan isn't exactly where I wanted him. But seeing as I coaxed him over with a series of clicks and whistles (one man and his swan!), I'll take what got!
Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 80mm | Lee Soft Grad ND & ND Filters | Tripod | Taken 28-03-2020 at Penryn Base image: ƒ/16 | 1/5 sec | ISO 100 | 3x bracketed exposures for HDR processing Swan image: ƒ/8 | 1/10 sec | ISO 100
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I normally write a little description as I post to Facebook. That description then becomes the core of any copy I put to my images. I've been fortunate enough to have grabbed so many decent pictures this week, that I've just not been able to post them all to social media without spamming your feeds! Keep an eye on my social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for when I post this with a description...
S I L E N T - R I V E R On the same still and cloudless morning at Penryn Quay, I thought the conditions suited another crack at ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) photography. It's been a while since I tried the technique after being inspired by the work of Andrew S. Gray last year. I know this technique isn't everyone's cup of tea! This was shot before sunrise while the sky was full of dawn colour. I wanted to constrain my movements to a vertical motion - so I kept the camera on the tripod with a slackened camera mount attachment. Upon pressing the shutter, I paused for a moment to record some detail of the boats, trees and sheds - then rotated the camera up & down to soften the image. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/16 | 5 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | Soft Grad ND & ND Filters | Taken 28-03-2020 at Penryn Quay
I N C A N D E S C E N T Since the previous shoot of Penryn River three days before, I had walked down to the quay every morning since. In fact, one of the boat owners questioned what I was up to after seeing me there every morning! Each day, the conditions had been pretty much the same. Similar cloudless sky and a similar high tide. So I didn't waste my time re-taking similar photos. Until this day!... Upon arriving at the Quay 15 mins before sunrise, I noticed these broken clouds drifting slowly across the scene. I hung around, hopeful for some epic light. In the moments before sunrise, the clouds coloured up in reddish-pink tones. To control the tonal range of the scene, I used a soft grad ND filter together with bracketed exposures for HDR processing. I always try to process my HDR images subtly and naturally(ish). Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/16 | 1 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | Soft Grad ND & ND Filters | 3x bracketed exposures for HDR processing | Taken 31-03-2020 at Penryn Quay
R A D I A N C E This image was shot from the Quay just before sunrise. A 10-stop ND filter extended the exposure time to one minute to streak the clouds which appear to radiate from the sun. A soft grad ND helped to balance the brighter tones of the sky with the darker tones of the water and boats. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/11 | 60 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | Soft Grad ND & 10 Stop ND Filters | Second lighter exposure blended in (the boats) | Taken 31-03-2020 at Penryn Quay
A W A K E N I N G For this shot of Penryn River, I waited for the sun to rise just over the opposing bank. Shooting a partially obscured sun with a narrow aperture gives this "sun star" effect. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/16 | 1/8 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | Soft Grad ND & ND Filters | 3x bracketed exposures for HDR processing | Taken 31-03-2020 at Penryn Quay
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Glasney Valley Woods
G L A S N E Y - T A N G L E Before this week of lock-down, I'd never walked through Glasney Valley Woods - which is less than a 15 minute walk from my home in Penryn. To be honest, I struggled to find compositions, but eventually settled on shooting this fallen tree arching over a stream. It's not the best image I've made this week, but I wanted to share at least one image from each place I visited. A naturally slow shutter (without filters) captured movement in the water. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 24mm | ƒ/11 | 1/3 sec | ISO 400 | Tripod | No Filters | 3x bracketed exposures for HDR processing | Taken 31-03-2020 at Penryn Quay
St Gluvias Church Graveyard
W O O D E D - G R A V E Y A R D St Gluvias Church is a very short walk from my house, but I've never photographed it or it's grounds. The COVID-19 lockdown has forced me to explore these locations (as part of my daily exercise allowance) on my doorstep that I've previously overlooked. I'd never normally visit woods with my camera on a sunny day. For me, strong sunlight makes an already tricky type of photography even more difficult - with intense "hot spots" of light in addition to the chaotic tangle of branches. As I wandered the old graveyard with its leaning headstones dating back to the late 1800s and even older trees I'd imagine, I remembered advice from Landscape Photography YouTubers (such as Nigel Danson) who suggest shooting into the light - and it worked! Shooting into the sun eliminated hot spots on the scene and introduced a some bleeding light from from the left to add a touch of drama. Canon 6D MkII | 24-105mm lens at 60mm | ƒ/11 | 1/3 sec | ISO 100 | Tripod | No filters | 3x bracketed exposures for HDR processing | Taken 29-03-2020 at Penryn
Walk from Pencoose Farm to Enys Woods
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I hope you found this blog of interest. I'd be keen to hear how you are getting on with photography, other hobbies or work during this crazy time. Please feel free to contact me here or on my social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
Do you know of a little gem of a location near St Gluvias Church, Penryn? Please let me know here or on social media - it might just keep me sane for a little longer!
Keep an eye on my social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for any photos I take next week. If I've taken enough good ones worthy of a follow-up blog, I'll write one! When the macro extension tubes I've ordered arrive, I'll be playing around with some macro shots...
For now, stay safe and look after each other :)
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