Simon Wootton Photography: Blog https://www.simonwootton.com/blog en-us (C) Simon Wootton Photography (Simon Wootton Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:33:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:33:00 GMT North Wales Trip https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2019/1/north-wales-trip A Union meeting in Leeds gave me an ideal opportunity, someone was paying for fuel, to tag on a couple of days at the start and take some photos in North Wales. The forecast was mixed and none of the big sites could agree but snow was definitely on the horizon.

I drove down overnight and snow did slightly hamper progress. The rain and featureless sky meant I took it easy and had a lie in. It had been a long drive and sunrise images at my planned venue would not have been worth the effort. The weather was beginning to clear so I had a look at Llundudno Pier. Nice enough and a good start with some light and clouds.

Llundudno PierLlundudno PierLlundudno Pier Llundudno PierLlundudno PierLlundudno Pier
I decided to head to the hills with the blue skies but on arrival at Llyn Ogwen I was met with very dreich conditions. Being the weekend there were walkers and togs everywhere and I made my way up the mountain hoping the clouds would break. I climbed as high as the clouds would allow but the view of Tryfan was covered in cloud that never cleared so opportunities were limited. A lovely walk albeit very boggy and slidy.
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Next up was the famous lone tree at LLanberis. I was greeted with a little light and the place to myself. The tree was in water but not enough to create a decent reflection and the stones made the bottom of the frame a bit scrappy for my liking.
Llyn Ogwen PonyLlamberis Lone TreeLlyn Ogwen Pony
The weather was now looking decent with breaks in the clouds and I decided to head to Penmon for sunset. As seems popular in England and Wales they love ripping you off for parking. Three quid to get to the lighthouse and no facilities at all barring a place to park.

The tide was in to the lighthouse base and the slippy rocks made the walk/climb down to the waterline tricky. I felt like I had eels glued to the soles of my shoes but got there without incident. I love lighthouses so I was looking at all the various angles and came up with a couple I was fairly please with using pools for reflections and the algae/seaweed covered path as foreground.
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The sunset never happened so I started to think about heading to my digs. Looking at the time available I decided to visit the Church in the Sea in the dark hoping for some stars or moonlight. On the way I took the opportunity to shoot the wee house at the bottom of the Menai Bridge. Nice little shot but typical estuary sand that was very muddy. The landscaper’s friend, Welly Boots, saved having to worry about the mud.
Menai BridgeMenai BridgeMenai Bridge
Down to my final shot at St Cwyfan's Church. I love some of the minimalist shots of the church sat above the horizon with nothing else bar sea and sky. The tide allowed for this type of shot but it was hard going as it was now pitch black and focusing and composition were done by taking high iso shots and adjusting from there.
Church in the SeaChurch in the SeaChurch in the Sea

On to Day 2 and I was up bright and breezy, well tired and windy would be more accurate. That dodgy fish supper probably.

My first port of call was Ynys Llanddwyn Island. I had looked online the night before and didn't see any info about tides and when to cross and the only comment I read said it was only an issue on big tides. I arrived 90 minutes before a middling high tide and walked a mile in the pitch dark along the beach. I love this part of photography as the only sound is the waves lapping the shore and there is a lovely feeling of solitude and peace. That is a rare commodity living in a house with two teenagers and a wife. On arrival at the island it was clear waders would be needed to cross the channel. If it had been summer the trousers would have been off but far too cold for that. Besides it was grey and no chance of a sunrise. I retraced my footsteps thinking of where to go now

I headed to the lone tree again hoping it might be moody and have some more water as there wasn't a breath of wind. The tree was nice and I got another shot I was happy with.

After a quick breakfast of banana and double decker it was back to Ynys Llanddwyn. Those few hours had seen a huge change in the weather and the car park. A fiver to get in and the place was busy. The light was decent but not in a favourable direction but I fancied a recce having now been here twice.

A couple of hours not getting much was interrupted by a blast of God Rays and an obliging fishing boat. Very quick change of settings and filters and manged to get one I am very happy with.

Ynys Llanddwyn IslandYnys Llanddwyn IslandYnys Llanddwyn Island Ynys Llanddwyn IslandYnys Llanddwyn IslandYnys Llanddwyn Island Ynys Llanddwyn IslandYnys Llanddwyn IslandYnys Llanddwyn Island Another mile and a half back to the car in a tea shirt. It was around 13 degrees and so still.

Last port of call was South Stack. The weather started coming in and it was lashing down and getting windy. I sat in the car and watched the rain pass over from the trusty Mondeo. The light was gone and the sky not too interesting so I grabbed a few shots perched as close as I dared to the cliff edge and had a bit of a wander before tiredly calling it quits.

I always say if you get one shot then be happy. It was one of those days, 100 miles driven and probably 7 walked and I only like one shot. A big thanks to that fishing boat captain.

God Rays on a Fishing BoatGod Rays on a Fishing BoatGod Rays on a Fishing Boat
Day 3 of my Welsh trip, in my head that is being spoken in a Big Brother Geordie accent. The third early morning in a row and at last Mr Sun popped his head over the horizon. I drove from my digs in Anglesey up to Talacre. Around 90 minutes and on the beach for around 7.15. The tail end of the eclipse was visible for the first part of the journey and as I got out the car there was a rare orange glow on the horizon. Game on.

The tide wasn't as far in as I thought which was originally disappointing until I found a pool which allowed me to shoot into the colours of sunrise.
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As usual the colour doesn't last long and I hurried round to the other side to get some pastel pink in the sky and the first of the morning rays. The light was still decent so had a go at getting some waves in the foreground.
TalacreTalacreTalacre TalacreTalacreTalacre

Wales was great and although I never got great light on the first two days I came away with a few decent shots and topped it off with a great morning with miles of beach completely to myself.

The second part of the blog was going to be my journey home through the North Yorkshire Moors and onto the Lake District. The conditions were spectacular over the Moors with snow falling and lying. I was starting to feel shivery and other signs of the Norovirus were starting to be felt. I did take a drive to Ribblehead but there was far less snow than down the valley and it was shrouded in mist with no light. At that point my bed in Scotland was the only thing on my mind. A very long drive home but back safe and sound and nearly a week later I manage to publish this having lost half a stone and now feeling much better.

 

 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) Anglesey beaches Church in lighthouses Llanberis Llyn Ogwen Penmon Sea streams the trees Tryvan water waterfalls waves https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2019/1/north-wales-trip Mon, 28 Jan 2019 10:16:28 GMT
Unlucky 13th or more likely a bad day togging https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2019/1/unlucky-13th-or-more-likely-a-bad-day-togging I had to collect a new set of winter tyres and alloys down in Northumberland so took the chance to make a day off it and get some pics. I managed to get up at the required 5.30am but on the way down the A1 I needed to pull into a parking spot to get forty winks to make sure I was driving safely. That changed my destination from Dunstanburgh to Bamburgh.

I have spent a good few hours on the glorious Bamburgh Beach but this was my first visit around high tide. As it was the weekend the beach had at least 10 fellow toggers looking forward to the light.

I had just got a grip for the D850 and decided to leave it on to see how the batteries would hold up. That was mistake number one. I set up for my first composition and the light and clouds were looking very promising. I guess most photographers will know that lovely feeling of excitement when the horizon is clear and there are some nice clouds waiting to be lit up. Everything was looking great and any competent photographer was guaranteed a few good shots.
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The wind was blowing and the wee plate on the bottom of my grip wasn’t giving me the stability needed. It was also slightly loose and I never had an allen key with me. My next mistake was not noticing that my polariser was covered in salt spray from a previous outing. The light continued to improve and the waves were crashing in. One sneaked up on me and filled my wellies which only added to my dismay.
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Filter cleaned and exposure shortened to help with the wobbly plate helped but the best of it was already gone and I just managed a few exposures.
Bamburgh SunriseBamburgh Sunrise
Very disappointed I trudged off back to the car and had to drown my sorrows with a coffee and some pasties in Greggs.

Next stop was Roker Pier. The sea was a wee bit further out than I expected and I clicked away with some nice light here and there. Long exposures seemed to give the best results.
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Roker PierRoker Pier

I’ve been pretty lucky since starting the blog and have taken quite a few images I have been very pleased with. Luck definitely played a big part but so did knowing my equipment and being able to click away on auto pilot. The D850 is a great camera and very similar to the D810 I am so familiar with. However, my curiosity and the lack of an l bracket has stopped me getting quite a few shots. The l-bracket is now here and I have spent some time with the camera. Next week will give me plenty opportunities to use the D850 as I am off to Anglesey for a couple of days and will then have some opportunities for night shots in Leeds or York and a day in the lakes.

 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) Bamburgh beach castle Northumberland Pier Roker sea seascape sunrise waves windy https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2019/1/unlucky-13th-or-more-likely-a-bad-day-togging Mon, 14 Jan 2019 11:57:00 GMT
I've just came back from the Isle of Skye https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2019/1/ive-just-came-back-from-the-isle-of-skye Just back from a lovely 3 days on the gorgeous and thankfully quiet Isle of Skye. Donald would definitely have kept his troosers on in the Bothy I hired on Airbnb. Despite a lovely log burner it was a tad chilly with my breath clearly visible even with the log burner roaring away all night. Saying that it was far cosier than the back of my Mondeo which is my usual Landscape Photography abode.

I had travelled up on the off chance of some broken weather but for all the technology used to forecast weather Skye and Scotland seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to clouds and grey skies. Not to worry though as my previous visit had seen blue skies for two days and very harsh light. Give me clouds every day and for Skye the photos always look better with a bit of a moody and foreboding cloud at the top of the frame.

The journey up passed quickly with the help of a Spotify playlist and it was pretty much traffic free. I stopped for a couple of hours of sleep and planned to arrive at Sligachan for sunrise. I was on the road bridge in darkness waiting for the light to come but in retrospect I should have travelled to Elgol as the chance of light was slim and because the River under the bridge was about as dry as a Steven Wright joke the image never worked.

The Old Bridge at SligachanSligachanThe Old Bridge at Sligachan
Next up was the Fairy Pools. If you have never been it is a busy car park even in January so go in the morning as early as you can. The lack of water again made this a tricky venue. Walking up I made my mind up that I would just shoot the top pool as it has the best composition and I may have to wait my turn. I was puffing like a 20 a day man when I reached the pool as I had foolishly taken loads of kit up with the thought of making a Vlog. The purple face and sweat put that right out of my head and I thought that losing a couple of stone would be far more productive than the recently purchased vlogging gimbal. I’ll definitely give it a go at some point but it seems a real hassle.

Anyways the Fairy Pools didn’t disappoint. The walk up saw the cloud shrouded conical peak of the mountain slowly uncovered and peak out in perfect time for my arrival. A very productive and gloriously solitary couple of hours in my wellies brought a huge sense of well-being. Perhaps it was the magical water or the crisp air but it was more than likely just doing something I love.

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A spot of lunch in Portree and a spectacular Black Pudding and Bacon Wrap, that couple of vlogging stone can wait, was followed by a drive north towards my digs. I wasn’t sure about where to go as the allure of the Pools had made me a bit late but I decided on Neist Point. I got there a in the nick of time as it was already getting dark but never missed anything as the sunset was greyer than a John Major speech. It was still good fun on the side of the hill and again I was the only tripod in sight. Although the weather wasn’t great the compositions are so strong it was well worth a visit.

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Day two saw an early rise and a sharp intake of breath as my feet hit the frozen concrete floor of the Bothy. No time to waste though as I made the 45 minute drive to visit the Quiraing for the first time. I listened on the radio to talk of 5G network coverage being deployed in Orkney but there were no Gs at the Quiraing and as I arrived in the pitch black I realised I never had a clue where to walk. I walked down the road and up a likely looking hill before looking round and seeing a small stream of what looked like fairy lights on the hill opposite. The thought of walking back 20 minutes to where I started didn’t deter me as you get a rush when waiting for sunrise, at least I do, and I was so early that there was plenty time left. I took consolation that the fairy lights walking along the ridge were moving horizontally so there wasn’t much of a climb. The walk along the Quiraing isn’t too tricky. It was narrow but clear and there are a few spots to stop and park a tripod. There is one small bit of “climbing” but even this 17 stone chunkster, with a giant photography bag, made like a mountain goat and got down and over easy enough. Another grey sunrise was witnessed but boy the view made up for it. I think this is now my favourite spot in the UK. It is a simply breath-taking panorama that awaits you and the walk is incredibly easy for the reward, well it is if you go the right way!

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Next up was the Old Man of Stor. I went for a drive by and a waterfall took my fancy. I had hoped to take a shot with the loch in the foreground but it was fairly breezy so no chance of reflections.

Old Man of Stor waterfallOld Man of Stor waterfallOld Man of Stor waterfall As I planned to go all the way down to Elgol for Sunset I decided to just crack on although I did stop for a quick recce at Lealt Waterfall. I might try the descent another day but there wasn’t an obvious route. The road to Elgol was nice and quiet and I love when you round the final corner and see the Cullins as that stunning backdrop. Again, the skies were grey and the sea never had much energy. I was flagging too, truth be told. I spent a pleasant hour or two jumping from rock to rock but I never nailed a composition and left feeling I hadn’t done as well as I should. To me that is all you can do. You can’t control the sea or clouds but you can make the most of the opportunity and despite working away it never happened for me.

_8505983_8505983 _8506104_8506104 Another chilly night in the Bothy was followed by another trip to the Quiraing. The forecast had a tiny little bit of promise and I pulled up in the Car Park, the only soul on the hill. I walked to the spots I had found the day before and set up my first Panoramic shot. The clouds were thick but the sun was working hard to give a show. As the clouds parted the sky lit up pink and I walked as quickly as safety allowed to try and get as much colour as I could in my shot. That pink sky was as long lived as a Bacon and Black Pudding Wrap in my greedy digits and almost as quickly as it had lit up the light was gone. I walked back to the car and spoke to a family who had missed the show. We were the only ones on the hill on a Saturday morning, amazing, and I felt quite privileged to get a solo show.
 

I normally don’t look at my pics until I’m home but I couldn’t resist a sneak peak. What a disaster, my loaned D850(thanks Tony) had been played with by some idiot who thought he was customising it to his tastes and that cretin had left it in Square crop mode(I can't help it). That meant every image was short at either the sides or the top and bottom and I had missed 1/3 of every shot.
Quiraing, SkyeQuiraing, SkyeQuiraing, Skye
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That same idiot decided to see what settings he had messed up and noticed a 5:4 crop. That looks good he said internally before forgetting to set it back to FX. Next up was Fairy Glen, I took a few shots but there wasn't any light or mood. Nice place for a visit and all the stones have now been removed.

Still in 5:4, eedgit of a man, I headed to Elgol again. I walked right past the headland but never really found a composition. The tide was lower and the sea had even less energy so that never helped. Another couple of hours went by and I again left with the feeling of leaving some shots on the beach.

ElgolElgolElgol

With around 5 hours drive to get home I decided to pack up and head down to Eilian Donan Castle. Again a grey backdrop awaited me but at least you are guaranteed a bit of light when the Laird of the Manor switches on the floodlights at sunset.
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A fantastic three days with a mix of frustration and  satisfaction. I won’t wait too long before returning as Skye is magical.

 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) and Castle Donan Eilean Elgol. Fairy Glen landscapes magical Man mood of Old Pools sky Skye Sligachan Stor The water https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2019/1/ive-just-came-back-from-the-isle-of-skye Sun, 06 Jan 2019 20:26:19 GMT
Portobello Long Exposures https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/12/portobello-long-exposures Every photographer needs some local locations. A big part of that is that we don't always have the time or energy to travel. Secondly, it allows you to take shots in different conditions of the same objects and scenes. Mostly, for me at least, it allows you to start to notice the imperfections and get into the habit of looking for these annoyances before you click the shutter. There is nothing more annoying than getting home and realising that a few inches higher or lower or a step to either side would have made a big difference. Shooting the same scene trains the eye and gives you the chance to look out for those elements that can create unwanted tension or unseemly clutter. Photography is certainly an art but like most things practise and study will help you improve both technically and creatively.

So down to Portobello on one of the last days of 2018. The sky was blue and pretty much cloudless but the sun was low and the light good. The shots I had in mind were old photographic friends and would suit these conditions. It had been a few weeks since I have ventured out so this was a warm up on my local patch. Similar to a golfer hitting the range before the golf course but still satisfaction to be had from a well timed shot, either photographic or sporting.

The timing for my shots was long. The sea was calm and boring so no surf to use. Long exposures were the plan and I knew from the tide charts that my favourite Poo Pipe marker would be reachable along the shore and have enough water round it for a composition. The locals refer to the marker as Porty’s Eiffel Tower which requires a fair bit of imagination but on a sunny day I can see what they mean.

The first shot taken had a nice bit of light and I concentrated on getting a featureless horizon with as much negative space as I could muster. The previous shot I had taken some months ago had the Fife shoreline on the horizon and that was an element that could be omitted in my mind for a more minimalistic composition.

Porty's Eiffel TowerPorty's Eiffel TowerPortobello Long Exposures

Next, I ventured along the sand to the Poo Pipe which leads to the marker. It is an ugly cast iron pipe but my timing was decent as the sea had swallowed the majority of the pipe and it was only visible in between waves. Using a 2 minute exposure gave a hint of the pipe and allowed me to use it as a lead in. The photo looked better in mono for me but I never had a choice as I had forgotten to cover the eye piece and had some light leak on the image. Another lesson to remind me for next time.

Porty's Eiffel TowerPorty's Eiffel TowerPortobello Long Exposures

For the last bit of light I wondered round to the Joppa end of the beach and took a couple of shots of the groynes. These are lovely structures that help protect the shoreline and they also feature a marker at the end. I tried a few compositions and again previous experience had told me that images look better when the groyne posts sit under the horizon. A decent effort again but the light had started to hide behind the houses and I could have done with a few rays to reveal more detail and contrast in the barnacle covered wood.

Portobello GroynesPortobello GroynesPortobello Long Exposures
A lovely way to spend a couple of hours and my eye has been sharpened for a wee trip up north in the next week or so.

 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) beach blue coast edinburgh exposure golden groynes hour long midlothian portobello salt sea structures sun water waves https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/12/portobello-long-exposures Fri, 28 Dec 2018 21:55:18 GMT
Well trodden Path https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/12/well-trodden-path The East Lothian coast is my local patch. I love it and there are countless pictures to be had in all conditions. I had a couple of hours to spare at sunset tonight, or this afternoon as it is so early at this time of year, so I headed down to North Berwick. The sea had a good swell and there was some lovely late golden hour light. I stood where I have stood a good few times and tried to hit the shutter at the decisive moment to catch the waves crashing over the pier. It is a shot I and other have taken many times but there are many choices in composition and of course the sea is never the same twice.
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I was pretty happy with my efforts and probably secured my best shot at the venue so far. I enjoyed it a wee bit too much as when I went round to take the boating pond shot the sea had already covered my foreground interest. There was still a half hour to sunset so I toddled off down to Dunbar to take another Bridge to Nowhere shot. I have visited here many times shooting sunsets and Auroras but tonight there was a spring tide and it looked good for a minimalist composition and the blue hour produced the best image. This was exposed for 5 minutes with the tripod sat on top of the picnic table to get as much separation as I could between the bridge and horizon. Turned out well I think and again possibly the best I have managed from the venue. I particularly like the Bass Rock receding into the mist in the background.
The Bridge to NowhereThe Bridge to Nowhere

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(Simon Wootton Photography) blue bridge coast East golden hour Lothian piers sea structures water waves https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/12/well-trodden-path Mon, 10 Dec 2018 22:50:53 GMT
Best Laid Plans https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/12/best-laid-plans With a forecast of stiff winds and big seas I had been looking forward to adding to my Lighthouse portfolio. A couple of mates joined me on this trip and we headed to Carlingnose Point for sunrise. Hardly a cloud in the sky and only a few ripples made conditions pleasant to work in but difficult to create good images. I settled for some long exposures and relatively minimalist compositions.

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I had a look on the Aberdeen Beach webcam and it is fairly obvious that there wasn't going to be the chance for any dramatic Lighthouse images. We decided to head for the Hermitage just north of Perth to see if any Autumnal colour was clinging on and safe in the knowledge that it would be a nice walk regardless of images. Conditions were again difficult with little colour and not much catching the eye. I settled for some abstract water images which turned out quite well.

_8106951_8106951Treasure Island With the day more than half way through in terms of light we grabbed an expensive Bacon butty, that turned out to be rather nice, and headed south to catch the golden hour at the bridges. First stop was Port Edgar to see if any light would fall on the Road and Rail bridges. We waited and waited and eventually got a few minutes of lovely golden light.

_8106982Golden Hour BridgesTreasure Island Back over the bridge for the third time to catch sunset at the Forth Crossing. It is a bonny structure but very large and difficult to capture. I found a new composition using a boat slipway that I really liked. The light never did me many favours but the composition was decent.

_8107070_8107070Treasure Island Finally around the corner to catch the Forth Bridge at blue hour. We arrived just in time and I snapped my favourite shot of the day. In almost darkness I guessed my composition, made sure everything was level and shot trying to capture the reflections on the cobbles and get the reflection of the bridge in the small puddle. Very pleased with how it turned out. Not original but the first time I have shot there.

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(Simon Wootton Photography) Bridge coast Crossing engineering Forth Road sea structure water https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/12/best-laid-plans Sun, 09 Dec 2018 23:08:41 GMT
Northumbrian Lighthouses and a castle https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/11/northumbrian-lighthouses-and-a-castle I seem to be becoming a bit obsessive about lighthouses. When I’m planning a trip they invariably enter my mind. I used to pour over the sea state sites like Magic Seaweed and bemoan the lack of calm days to take the Kayak out. Now it is the opposite. I want big waves and storms so I can get out and try and capture some drama in the oceans.


My initial plan was to shoot the south Breakwater in Aberdeen. It has a beautifully elegant if a tad rust stained lighthouse. I could already see the waves were crashing over the day before and my visit would coincide with bigger waves and tide and more wind. All good but overhead conditions sounded grim so I looked south to Northumbria. The forecast there was similar in terms of the sea but the wind wasn’t as bad all day and there was a good chance of some light to go with the rain and wind.

I decided on Northumbria and a mate, Wullie, tagged along too. As is often the case the forecasters never quite got it right.  As we stood on the beach in Bamburgh with a threatening sky, thundering waves and a sandstorm it looked like Aberdeen might have been a good bet but that was the worst of the conditions we were out in cleverly driving to our next venue during the worst of the weather.

_8105019_8105019Bamburgh Castle Sand Storms

Bamburgh had been stormy and Seaham was bright and sunny for most of our visit. The waves were crashing over and we got the bonus of a comfy spot on the Café balcony to shoot from and relatively sheltered from the wind. We both bagged the typical shot and tried a different perspective around the corner that didn’t work as well. Satisfied we jumped in the car for our high tide spot.

_8105334_8105334 Roker Pier is my favourite Pier. It elegantly curves into the sea with a lovely striped lighthouse at its end. It has recently been done up and is a beautiful site for tourists and photographers. We had hoped high tides and big seas would have the waves crashing over the lighthouse but it wasn’t to be. The sea was still fantastically lively so we spent a couple of hours shooting the pier and waiting for a surfer to appear from the swell. We never got the shots expected but came away with something a bit different.

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A dash to Tynemouth for more Lighthouse action but the sea had calmed and the dram was gone. We spent a pleasant 20 minutes that really would have been better spent driving north.

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Our last stop was St Mary’s Island. We arrived just around sunset and the island looked glorious bathed in pinkish light. Unfortunately, by the time we made it down to the causeway the light had gone and our opportunity missed.

_8106065_8106065 Very unusual for me to go out photographing with company but I think it is safe to say we will be making further trips. It was a nice journey home talking about our exploits and putting the world to rights. Cheers Wullie for a great day.

 

 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) Bamburgh Castle defences lighthouse Pier Roker sea Seaham surfing Tynemouth water https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/11/northumbrian-lighthouses-and-a-castle Fri, 23 Nov 2018 18:01:31 GMT
Stirling Trip https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/11/stirling-trip I visited Stirling on Sunday for the SPF Digital Championship. I'm looking to get into judging for Camera Clubs and was advised that this would be a good opportunity to take in a lot of images and see on the spot what the judges were scoring. It certainly served its purpose and there was some great images on show with the natural history shots being favoured by the judges.

I rarely travel any distance without planning some photography time but a clear sky meant I decided against a sunrise and instead visited a spot I had tried last year. Raploch on the River Forth was the venue and I hoped the Autumn colours had clung on after all the wind of the last week or two. After a precarious climb down the very muddy river bank I reached a likely looking spot and chose the 70-200mm for a more compressed view of the landscape. The light was nice and there was enough colour hanging on to make a decent shot or two.
River Forth ViewsRiver Forth ViewsRaploch to the Wallace monument
I went to another haunt at South Alloa on the way home. the light wasn't kind and I'll have to wait a little longer to get the shot out of this venue that I have in my head.

South AlloaSouth AlloaSouth Alloa to the Wallace monument
 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/11/stirling-trip Mon, 19 Nov 2018 23:45:06 GMT
A trip down the east coast of Scotland https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/11/a-trip-down-the-east-coast-of-scotland A trip to see my football team is always an opportunity for a few photos. On the way to Aberdeen I stopped at the new V&A museum in Dundee. IT was blowing a hoolie but thankfully dry. The building is really stunning but I found it tricky to get a killer composition and settled for a shot taking in part of the museum and a silhouetted walker.

Victoria and Albert, DundeeVictoria and Albert, Dundee

A poor Hibs performance in the fitba was followed by an equally poor sleep in the car. The wind was blowing at around 50mph and it was persisting down with rain. It felt more akin to be aboard a ship on stormy seas than parked on terra firma the way the wind was rocking the old Mondeo.

I woke early to see a familiar band of cloud on the horizon. The sunrise never happened and my sunrise spot in Arbroath wasn’t as hoped. I decided to make the dash to Scurdie Ness lighthouse up the coast. I parked in Usan Estate and walked along to find a nice spot on the rocks. The water was crashing in and the tide rising so I was careful as the area is fairly remote and a fall on the rocks could have serious consequences. The light was fleeting as more clouds had joined the horizon ones but I managed to get a shot I liked with a lovely lichen foreground leading to the crashing waves in the foreground and the lighthouse giving a nice feature on the horizon. Not many clouds facing north unfortunately but it was a good start to the day.

Scurdie Ness LighthouseScurdie Ness Lighthouse

Next up was a trip to see the Red Castle at Lunan Bay. The light was now a bit harsh but what a stunning beach to spend a couple of hours. The castle is set back from the beach and there is a house in close proximity. If you got lucky with the burn which flows over the beach then there is a chance of a composition but try as I might I never spotted anything.

Another few miles down the coast for some well-deserved lunch in Arbroath. I had another look at the harbour but it wasn’t speaking to me so headed back down the coast. The sea was now getting towards high tide and I thought I would sea if the waves were crashing over the zig zag pier. Not only were they crashing over the pier but over the spot that is best for taking images. A carrier bag and shower cap were wrapped around the camera and I got a quick look at a composition before firing off a few shots. I got absolutely soaked and acted as a warning for a fellow tog who arrived later and thought better of it. I must have pushed the zoom in a touch from my chosen 24mm as this is shot at 32mm and a bit tight for my liking. The composition could have been better too but I never really got the chance so frequent were the waves crashing over.
St Monans PierSt Monans Pier

The sun was about 25 minutes from setting so I headed down to Elie for a look. The sunset never happened but there was a bit of light and the sea gave me the opportunity to try a different composition to what is normally taken. It was a great end to the day and the weather was kind with the heavens opening on my way back to the car. An hour’s drive home and a lovely tea to welcome me home. I was glad to see my bed that night.

Elie LighthouseElie Lighthouse

 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) coast defences Dundee Elie lighthouse Monans Ness pier safety Scurdie sea St V&A water https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/11/a-trip-down-the-east-coast-of-scotland Sun, 11 Nov 2018 21:57:37 GMT
Big Seas in the North East of England https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/10/big-seas-in-teh-north-east-of-england I imagine I'm like many Landscape photographers. When you settle down for the evening my thoughts turn to my next trip. I think of the photos and photographers I admire and want to get images that live up to those high standards. Hours are spent looking at The Photographer's Ephemeris to see where the golden rays will shine and the colour will be in the sky. More pages are virtually thumbed as BBC Weather, Accuweather, Clear Outside and other websites and apps are scrutinised to see what the likely cloud and overhead conditions will be like. Will it be windy and ruin those reflection shots or windy and aid those big sea shots. Then there is the consideration of how far and how much cost compared to the likely chances of success. No-one likes wasting money on fuel and that is before the environmental impacts of travelling for your own enjoyment.

There are lots of shots that an average Tog like me wants to bag. They are the building blocks of a portfolio and experience. Yes they are cliches but they are common because they work so well. The waves engulfing a lighthouse is such an image and I dearly wanted to have a shot of my own that I was proud of. So with all that in mind I planned a trip that was in my head for a couple of years. Tynemouth was the venue and a big sea, high tide and wild weather forecast was literally the perfect storm required to get me waking up at 5.00 am to start the adventure.

The first part of the day wasn't to plant. It was frozen cold, blowing a hoolie and persisting down with rain when I arrived at Bamburgh for my sunrise shoot. I got out of the car but that was the limit for me as the scene didn't justify the efforts required and with such a long day planned a soaking at first light was not the way to start proceedings. I decided to get a couple of hours kip and see what transpired thereafter. Next stop was McDonalds and a well earned breakfast and then off to Amble for a very windy hour or so. Nothing special image wise but another venue scouted and put in the memory banks.

Amble BeachAmble BeachBlowing a gale down on Amble Beach
I had a wee drive down the coast and stopped off at St Marys but nothing was really catching my eye so the camera stayed in the bag. At that point the clock had ticked round to 2pm and looking over from St Marys you could see the swell already battering into the breakwater at Tynemouth. Decision made to get there early to get parked and have a good scout about. Parking was free which was a bonus and a short walk found two or three likely compositions. The main one was always going to be to the far side of the pier on a small platform. I made camp there with my giant photo bag but as it turned out all that was needed was a single camera and lens along with some willpower to stand in the cold.

For the first hour the surf built gradually with only the odd wave over the pier and lighthouse. Photographers and tourists came and went and the biggest drama was cleaning the filters from the foam which was getting blown about like giant snowflakes. Once the tide had risen though, the local photographers increased in number and nature really put on a show. Wave after wave crashed over the pier with some clearing the lighthouse top by quite a margin. The sea had built to a stage where the platform was getting the odd soaking from the bigger waves and camera and lens required regular wipe downs. Glad I had my thermals and a big jacket on but in true Geordie fashion I was stood next to a chap in flip flops!

As you looked through a viewfinder and a 200mm lens the action was like a particularly dramatic flick book movie from Blackpool Pier. It really was an incredibly pleasant few hours and the humour and chat from the locals kept everyone's spirits up despite the cold. Normally a 64gb memory card would do me for two months but I quickly went through two 64gb cards and nearly filled a 32gb too. Lots of images to search through and the odd one I am delighted with. As I walked back to the car I had that warm glow of anticipation wondering if I had got the shot I came for. The security guard was moaning that there were boys fishing at the lighthouse and I can make them out in the earlier images. I thought they moved but seemingly they were there through the worst of the waves. Hope they got home safe and have a look at themselves in the mirror for being so stupid.

Delighted with a few of my Tynemouth shots

Tynemouth StormTynemouth StormWaves crashing over and around the lighthouse at Tynemouth, Borthumberland As a wee bonus I decided to stop at St Marys as it was on the way home. Luck was again on my side with the crashing waves hitting the steps at just the right spot and the mixture of ambient light and artificial lights on the island pretty much as good as it gets. A wee bonus from a venue I have visited 5 times and the first time I have a shot that I have liked.

St Mary's LighthouseSt Mary's LighthouseWaves crashing over the walkway to t Mary's Island The end of amazing week with the camera and came home to my Gore Glen image of leave swirls being explored on Flickr and becoming my most successful image on that platform. Back to work now so the trips will be fewer and further between. 

Thanks for reading


 

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(Simon Wootton Photography) big coast danger high lighthouse sea storm tide water waves wind https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/10/big-seas-in-teh-north-east-of-england Sun, 28 Oct 2018 12:44:44 GMT
Gore Glen in its Autumnal Splendour https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/10/gore-glen-in-its-autumnal-spendor A quick visit to one of my local haunts this morning, the lovely Gore Glen Woodland Park. I had taken some images I was pleased with earlier in the week but a bit of sunshine and a few hours to kill were all the encouragement needed to see if I could better those initial efforts. Conditions were great for a walk but tricky for photography. Bright blue skies were lovely to look at but the sun was low and wasn't penetrating into the Glen so the waterfall and surrounds were in shade. 

I decided to try and take a few different shots and spent time getting my set up right to shoot some leaves swirling in a circle in the water. After a couple of test shots, takes time with 30 second exposures, I could see the leaves were just a bit away from the optimal position. Luckily there was a huge tree trunk which still had some buoyancy and a few judicious nudges with the welly saw the flow decreased and the leaves move to just where I wanted them.


I spent the next half hour tweaking compositions to try and avoid the glare from the sky in the pool and taking quicker exposures so I could blend those in later in post production to freeze the motion of the trees.

Very pleased with my efforts and the slow and deliberate shooting style paid off with one of my favourite Autumn images. Nice to see a fellow photographer who was enjoying the scene but I bet she wished that she had sacrificed style over utility and wore her wellies.

 

Autumnal Gore GlenAutumnal Gore GlenAutumnal Gore Glen

Having taken quite a few swirl shots earlier in the week I decided to move over to the right hand falls and get a shot of the view down river which was being beautifully illuminated by the early afternoon sun. Again I took two images, one at low iso to get some movement in the water and another to freeze the leaves in the trees which were swaying gently in the light breeze.

Another couple of shots I am pleased with.

_8101474Autumnal Gore GlenAutumnal Gore Glen Autumnal Gore GlenAutumnal Gore GlenAutumnal Gore Glen My time had run out but as I was leaving I met another photographer who not only shared a love for Photography but also for my football team. Lovely speaking to you Jim (jimdevinephotography.com) and hope to see what you came away with in the days to come.

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(Simon Wootton Photography) Autumn autumnal colours Esk exposure Glen gold Gore green long orange park river shutter slow South trees water wood yellow https://www.simonwootton.com/blog/2018/10/gore-glen-in-its-autumnal-spendor Fri, 26 Oct 2018 13:53:47 GMT