Initial thoughts and ideas
For my portrait in a location shoot, I am going to use an old school friend of mine who is an avid mountain biker, see this post for more details.
The night shoot I think I want to do by Lake Vernwy in Wales,
For landscape photography, I will be reliant on the weather as I would like to get a sunset during golden hour, some shots during blue hour and then maybe try to capture some star trails. I have done a little research and found a few useful web pages that can help with weather and moon phases.
Moonconnection.com has a calendar that shows the phases of the moon on an easy to understand the calendar.
Naked eye is a web page that shows light pollution over the UK, the map is zoomable so you can start with the full map of Great Britain and then zoom into a close-up view of your chosen area. It is amazing to see how much light pollution affects our country. Looking at the map below Lake Vernwy is in a low light pollution area.
As always when I need to research something I turn first to Youtube, as I know there will be other photographers with experience and can offer the technique I need, in this case shooting star trails. Here are a few videos I watched on the subject.
Canon 70-200 F2.8 L
Canon 17-40 f4 L
Manfrotto 055X PROB + 496RC2 head
Tiffen 77WIDCP 77mm Wide Angle Circular Polarizer
Hoya 77 mm Pro ND 1000 Filter
Cokin P Series Gradual ND Filter Kit
Useful software and app’s
A big let down.
Sadly as always seems to be the way, my friend let me down for the photoshoot, so have had to work around this with other ideas and images. I am sad that the bike shoot did not go ahead as I wanted to try a variety of shots using different techniques, such as HSS, narrow DOF etc. I had also taken a look at some ideas on Pinterest and found some appealing images that would have provided the foundation for some of my images. I had also purchased a high power Godox AD600BM flash as I wanted to do some into the sun shots.
18th May 2017
I spent the day at the beautiful Lake Vyrnwy, a massive Dam in the Powys area of Wales, the Dam was built in the 1880s to provide water for the Liverpool area. Below the waters are the remains of a little village called Llanwddyn.
Here are a few images of the village and the building of the dam taken from www.lake-vyrnwy.com
The day was a very bright day with beautiful blue skies and wisps of white cloud. I know early morning or evening are the best times for landscape photography but sadly, due to time constraints, I could not be there at those times and had to make the best of the time that was afforded to me. I used a selection of cameras and lenses plus employed the use of ND filters, Grads and a polariser, to achieve the outcomes I desired. I also shot a roll of medium format film at this location.
Here is a selection of images from my trip to Lake Vyrnwy.
All three images were shot using my Canon 6D and a 70-200 f2.8 lens, I had attached on the front element a 6 stop ND filter and a circular polarising filter. When preparing for landscape shots most photographers reach for the widest lens they have, but I decided to use my 70-200 to reach parts of the dam and highlight some of the detail that my 17-40 would not show. For example, image three shows a small bridge this was shot on the long end of my lens at 200mm and was still cropped a little to give the perspective I required. Image one is at the other end of the lenses reach set at 70mm and in all honesty, might have benefited from a slightly wider shot, however, I like the amount of detail that is captured in this image and the water tower would have been completely lost in a wider image. Image two gives a nice leading line along the wet side of the dam, with its repetition of arches leading off into the distance.
I came to learn the value of filters during this project. In most photography assignments filters are no longer needed as Photoshop and Lightroom has a plethora of plugins and filters to transform the image as one sees fit. However, there is no filter available to replace the effect a polariser makes on an image or one that can increase the shutter time beyond what a balanced exposure triangle might require. Even at f16 with an ISO of 100 on a sunny day, you are still looking at around 1/250 sec exposure or thereabouts.
The addition of an ND filter allows the photographer to slow down the passage of time in front of the lens and combined with the polariser can give some truly amazing effects. Again looking back at the above three images, the smoothness on the lake is achieved by slowing the exposure down allowing the undulating water to blur to a pearlesque sheen. The polariser then brought out the deep blues and helped saturate the image with colour.
19th May 2017
Since visiting a local waterfall Badger in Shropshire, I had always wanted to photograph a bigger example and so headed back out into Wales to photograph Britains highest single drop waterfall, Pistyll waterfall is near the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in the welsh district of Powys, Pistyll is counted as one of the seven wonders of Wales and is recognised as a site of significant scientific interest. it has a drop of 80 meters that’s 240 feet. As with my visit to Vyrnwy, the weather was bright and sunny with blue sky and broken white cloud.
Some of my images taken during my visit to Pistyll.
Brighton, West Sussex
20th, 21st & 22nd May 2017
Due to the constraints of having a young child, I decided to travel down to West Sussex where his grandparents could have him while we (myself & Helen) try some night time photography. I made one mistake and learned one lesson on the first evening, the mistake was leaving one of our SD cards in a card reader at home, the other was not wrapping up warm when on the sea front in the evening. Due to the one card missing we had to share it so I would take a few shots then Helen. This proved very time consuming and we got very cold very quickly, in total I took four shots. These are what I consider to be the best two from a very short, cold miserable shoot.
Ouse Valley Viaduct
21st May 2017
On the afternoon of the 21st I went to a place called Balcombe to photograph one of the most amazing viaducts ever constructed. Ouse Valley Viaduct is registered as a Grade two listed building. It was built in 1841, is 96 feet high and is constructed from eleven million bricks. Still in use today with over 100 trains crossing it per day as part of the Brighton to London mainline. (Edmondson)
22nd May 2017
Early start and headed into Brighton to try to capture a sunrise over the town. Yet again the weather did not play ball and was quite cloudy, making the most of a bad situation I managed to get some colours in the sky and offset them with famous landmarks and town centre skyline.
23rd May 2017 Llangors Lake
As part of my landscape project, I wanted to go somewhere to photograph stars and possibly star trails. After watching some videos on what is required, I set about finding a dark sky area that was within a reasonable travelling distance. After searching numerous websites I found one that mentioned Llangors Lake that is in the heart of the Brecon National Park.
Did you know that on a clear night above the Brecon Beacons stargazers are able to see the Milky Way, as well as numerous major constellations, bright nebulae and even meteor showers? In fact, the Brecon Beacons has some of the highest quality dark skies in the whole of the UK – making it the perfect destination to visit to get a better view of the night sky.
The award of INTERNATIONAL DARK SKIES reserve has identified Llangorse Lake as one of the top ten places to come and see the night sky. (“Dark Skies – Discover Llangorse & Bwlch”)
Sadly the weather did not want to play ball and as the night drew in so did the cloud cover. By around 21:30 not a patch of open sky was visible. I had booked a room at a local hotel and decided to return there for the evening. I awoke a few times during the night to check if the cloud cover had dispersed only to be greeted by thick fog.
Luckily I had managed to capture a few images on the afternoon of my arrival when I was scouting the local area for good vantage points for my evening shoot. Below are a small selection.
24th May 2017 Brecon Mountain Railway
I did not have to be back in Wolverhampton till 5.30pm so decided to head to a place that I had found on a leaflet at the hotel I had stopped over in. The Brecon Mountain Railway
The Brecon Mountain Railway is a narrow gauge railway that runs along the south side of the Brecons and takes in the full length of the Pontsticill Reservoir. I thought this might be a great photo opportunity from the aspects of the train right through to the wonderful landscapes of Merthyr Tydfil. I was on the 10:30 train (first of the day) so again had not been on location for the ideal part of the day. Taking the first train enabled me to stay on the halfway point station for a prolonged period and once the first train left only myself and my wife remained so I could take the time to experiment and enjoy the surroundings in peace.
I used a few techniques to achieve some interesting shots from slow shutter to looking for leading lines and a hint of abstract too.
Aberporth, South Wales
31st May 2017
Last chance to get some sunset or sunrise shots on a distant location before having to get the project completed for the hand-in date, I booked a hotel room in Aberporth in South Wales. During the afternoon there was some amazing light and I did manage to capture some nice images, though I am still not 100% satisfied with the results.
Due to time constraints and being let down by an individual for a portrait shoot I took a look through my back catalogue of images that I feel are worthy of consideration for my landscape and location portfolio. They vary from weddings I have photographed to family days out at local museums.
My final thoughts
When I was given this project I genuinely thought I would find it difficult and not enjoy it what so ever. Having taken photographs of landscapes before I felt the images were never strong enough, They lacked something that viewing the original lacked, I enjoy most disciplines of photography other than landscape. But this project turned out to be one of the most fulfilling projects on my HND course to date! It made me think more about the images and how they are created, looking at other photographers work and watching their videos spurred me on to try new things, I purchased some filters and travelled to various areas to capture my images. Landscape photography as with film requires a slowing of pace, you need to take time to look with your eyes before breaking out the camera and selecting a lens, this project has helped me start to visualise shots and in my mind think about how the final image will look and how I will treat it in post production.
With landscape photography, you soon realise that you are at the mercy of the weather and you need to try to plan your day to be on location just before you expect something to happen (sunset, sunrise). I had a few let downs where the clouds obscured a sunset and rain stopped play, but I also enjoyed moments where it all came together and the fails made the wins so much sweeter.
I now have a new found love of this genre and genuinely think I will continue to take landscapes as part of my photographic progression. I never thought I would enjoy sitting on a rock waiting for the sun to do its thing would be so enjoyable.
“Dark Skies – Discover Llangorse & Bwlch”. Discover Llangorse & Bwlch. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 June 2017.
Edmondson, Andrew. “Ouse Valley Viaduct”. Balcombevillage.co.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
“History Of Lake Vyrnwy | Lake Vyrnwy Tourism”. Lake-vyrnwy.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 June 2017.