Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lake District Photography Course - Day 1

We had a day of 2 halves, as they say. Quite a lively bunch for this course we spent the first day in Eskdale with dull weather in the morning; perfect for water shots. The rain here in the last week had provided plenty of water for photographs. From the 60 foot waterfall to smaller falls and rapids, they were all in good form.

After a short lunch break at the Brook House Inn in Boot we drove over the Hardknott Pass where it was brightening up as the minutes passed. Then down to the old Roman Fort where we had some really good light off and on. The best was yet to come at a little tarn on the moors.

Now off to dinner at the Woolpack Inn and possibly the odd pint.

Forecast is good for next 2 days. Always easier to run courses in nice weather.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Strasbourg to Folkestone

What a great morning in Strasbourg. Sunny and warm-ish. Revisited several locations that I photographed last night; it was better light for some of them. Brighter reflections in the river in the old town.

Could have spent all day taking photos but Jan made sure we kept on schedule; the drive to Calais is about 6.5 hours.

Getting out of Strasbourg was the biggest problem, lots of roadworks had us going round in circles. We eventually escaped but I slept through most of the trip to Calais, knocked out by the drugs I took for my painful back.

Eurotunnel put us on an earlier train then it was a short drive to the hotel in Folkestone and a meal and couple of proper beers.

Home tomorrow. Just 94 rolls of FP4 for Ilford to process for me and lots of net scanning so that peoplee can see what I have been doing these last 3 weeks.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Last Stop Strasbourg

We left Villars in rain, then had snow as we drove over 2 passes on way to Gstaad. Then it was rain again on and off for much of the day.

Had a morning break for a wander around Zweisimmen in the rain. Then Jan drove us to Strasbourg avoiding Bern and most of Basel. We arrived here at 4.30pm just in time for more rain.

My bad back has been painful with all the time sitting in the car the last few days. Worried about it going into spasm so am taking all 3 drugs that doc has given me. Makes me feel a bit spaced out.

We wandered around the old town about 6pm as the rain had stopped and the light was pretty good for photos. Not many people about, reflections in the river and old black and white buildings, ideal for black and white photos!

After a meal it was dark and time for some night shots. I wandered around for about 3 hours taking photos in the old town, including the enormous cathedral and the river.

Time for lights out now, long drive to Calais for Eurotunnel tomorrow. Hopefully some more photos around Strasbourg in sunshine tomorrow before we leave.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

No Last Mountain Day from Villars

After the thunderstorm during the night we woke to heavy rain and low cloud. Not a good day to hike the mountains and no big views to photograph.

Google weather showed it better in the valley around Lake Geneva and best for Lausanne, which was where we headed for the day.

We arrived in Lausanne to heavy rain, same as Villars except no low cloud. Decided to sit it out from the comfort of our car. An hour or so later it stopped and we headed off, both with cameras in hand in case it brightened.

We wandered along the shore of the lake and up to the old town where it started to brighten, then the sun came out between 2 and 3pm. Lots of photos around cathedral as well as old narrow streets and lots of hanging signs. Then down to the town and lastly to the harbour and marina. A total of 6 rolls of Ilford FP4 (60 exposures) on what looked like a bad day. Really nice light and clouds in many of them.

No views from Villars on our return: the clouds stayed low all day. That meant that our last mountain walk was actually in Misurina since we didn't get onto the hills today.

Tomorrow we head for Strasbourg. Hoping for better weather than the last time I was there on Ilford business in the late 90's.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

First Rain for 12 Days

Jan drove us from Menaggio on Lake Como to Villars in Switzerland (in mountains at east end of Lake Geneva).

Overcast, warm day. Not so good for photos as very hazy. Lots of traffic around Lugano and Locarno but quiet on minor roads to Simplon. The only photos were of a spectacular, enormous church in the tiny Italian village of Re. Not just a Swiss Re building in London but an Italian Re as well!

Came over Simplon Pass and had heavy rain, first since 5th Sept in Garmisch, the day we visited Oberammergauer and Neuschwanstein. Back to chilly weather too. Temp down to 12℃ in Villars (we had 37℃ a couple of days ago around Italian Lakes). We prefer it cooler than hot.

Good sunset and clouds on nearby hills (the ones just south of Lake Geneva). Tomorrow we walk the local hills and need clear views for photos, I've had several requests for photos from Villars. Fingers crossed all is well.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Ferry Day

We spent the day on and beside Lake Como. Very easy using ferries, we just bought tickets that let you jump on and off where you wish.

From Menaggio we went across to Varenna on the eastern shore. After a couple of hours exploring, and the odd beer, it was on to Bellagio. Looked a bit more up-market than the other two. Of the 3 we probably prefer Menaggio, lots of waterfront and bit more feeling of space. Will wait to see which gives the best photos.

Feels like I have switched from mountains to nautical landscapes.

Quite a few photos (70, in fact). Clear morning then very hazy as temps reached a mere 27C, a full 10C cooler than the other day.

Tomorrow we drive to Villars for another couple of nights in the mountains. Sunday is a day for walking the mountains. Fingers crossed the weather is kind.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Comatose in Como

No only joking! Not comatose and not in Como, other than that it's a true statement.

Yesterday's blog didn't happen, I fell asleep after few beers and sharing a bottle of wine with Jan. So our last day around Lake Garda was spent circumnavigating the lake in our car. A distance of just under 100 miles. The roads were really busy, it took ages. Photo stops were at Sirmione, Bardolino and Torri del Benaco. A mix of castles, piazza's and harbours. Quite graphic as well as colourful, for anyone wanting to work in colour (I'm sure there must be someone!).

I ran off 6 rolls of 10 photos and have some good ones despite the number of people around (especially at Sirmione). That makes 68 rolls of Ilford FP4 for the trip, so far.
Today we left Lake Garda and headed west for Lake Como. We are now on the homeward stretch. The roads were really busy, it took over 6 hours instead of 4 or so.

We are staying in Menaggio, a good mix of old and new.tomorrow we use the ferries to explore Bellagio and Varenna. Hope weather stays clear but temps drop. Yesterday was 37C, today 31C. That's hot, we never see those temps in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Beer rubbish and very fizzy. Looking forward to a decent pint but when?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

In Verona with George Michael

We had a day of 2 halves but both hot and humid. It started with walking around Malcesine taking shots with morning light. Some of which didn't work yesterday afternoon because they needed light from the other direction.

Then it was back to the hotel to load up the car with cameras and head to Verona, a bit over an hour away from here. I was taking photos again by 2pm, bridges, old building's, narrow streets; the usual mix.

A young couple from Israel asked if I would take their photo with the Verona Roman arena in the background and mentioned that George Michael was playing the arena tonight. What a coincidence, both of us doing Verona on the same day! That explained why Verona was so busy; I knew it couldn't just be for Jan and I.

I finished my day-time shots and we went to a bar for a beer or two and some food, then waited for dusk.
Unfortunately, my planned dusk shot was of the arena and there were thousands of GM fans in queues and generally milling around. There were also lots of police and army vehicles as well as several large lorries. A challenging set of conditions!

We waited over 1.5 hours as dusk turned to night but the crowds stayed. The concert started at 9.15pm but there were still lots of folks about. Unusually for me I'm unsure what night shots I have (of the arena). It was so difficult to have a clear spell for up to 1 minute exposures. I took several photos with people walking in all directions as well as the odd cyclist. I'm hoping the long exposures of 20 to 60 seconds have blurred them considerably so that they don't catch the eye. I need to see the contacts before I will know for sure.

We left the arena area, took a few more night shots then headed back to Malcesine, arriving a bit before midnight.

Tomorrow we spend the day around Lake Garda.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hot Lake

We drove from Misurina to Malcesine on Lake Garda in northern Italy. Just 18C increase in temp to 30C. It's too hot for me and have remembered why have so many trips to cold climes. My bad back feels better though and guess it's less likely to go into spasm when warm.

Malcesine is on eastern shore of Lake Garda and has lots of narrow streets and some old buildings, including a castle. Took pictures during day and a few at night. Not well lit so used long exposures (guessed; meter as useless as ever at night).

Tomorrow we may go to Verona, just an hour or so from here. Want some morning shots in Malcesine first though. Hoping cooler than 30C tomorrow.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Busy Mountains - Diversion

Today we planned to climb 3 passes near Misurina in the Dolomites.

All started well with a chair lift ride up from Misurina and walk to the top of the first pass. There were cables but they weren't needed. The descent however was really slow. We were in a queue going down at the speed of the slowest person, which was very slow! There were a few cables but again they were barely needed.

By the time we reached the bottom after the first pass I had had enough. A quick look at the map and we diverted over a different pass, the Forcella de Neve. Lots of big spiky rocks but no people!

We dropped down, skirted around and climbed to another minor pass. This was by far the best place for photos so far. Pointy peaks, nice clouds, as well as graphic lines from the scree runs and boulder fields.

More good photos followed after a quick descent, quickly changing clouds over very shapely peaks. All the shots here were with the camera pointed skywards as well as with an orange filter to keep the drama.

The diversion gave us a good day. I would have been very frustrated following the hordes over the other passes. Only 2 rolls of Ilford FP4 film but I'm sure I have some crackers.

Time for a well-earned beer before showering and going down to Cortina for some night photography.

Tomorrow we leave the Dolomites and head to Lake Garda. We have never been there before so really looking forward to it.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sunny Dolomites

Fortunately the forecast for a wet day was seriously wrong. It was a cracking day in the Dolomites with sunshine, clouds and visibility for many miles.

We circumnavigated the spiky peak called Croda da Lago, just south of Cortina, including a couple of passes, the highest being  at almost 2500 metres.

Lots of trees lower down so few photo opportunities until above the trees and above the hut. Clear views from both cols and good clouds. I took quite a few with peaks, mountains as well as clouds. Used the orange filter quite a bit to give high contrast and darken the blue sky. I didn't go mad though, taking 47 shots in all today, all on Ilford FP4 120.

One of the best was of 3 shapely mountains, reasonably spaced left to right, each with its own clouds. I think this will be great as a 2:1 panorama.

My bad back has not been good for most of trip so have limited myself to using 1 camera (Mamiya 7 mk 2) and 1 lens (43mm). This limits a few shots but overall I just look for the shots that work with the kit I'm carrying. For the hill days I have used the smaller of my 2 Gitzo carbon fibre tripods and the lower height has not been much of a problem.

I also have some new ultra-lightweight carbon fibre trekking poles which have saved weight and work really well. I don't always use poles because of the weight but with these new ones I can't use that excuse any more. They cause my posture to become more upright so my back is less likely to go into spasm, so I should use them all the time.

Wonder what we'll do tomorrow?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Musical Mountain

Today we hiked up Monte Piano from Misurina, just north of Cortina in the Italian Dolomites.

It was warm and sunny all day with a cool breeze. Lots of shapely clouds in the blue sky to make for some striking photos.

Monte Piano wasn't musical at all, in fact it was quite sombre in some respects; over 14,500 soldiers died on this one small mountain in the 1st world war. There are lots of tunnels, trenches and memorials on the highest parts, even a railway line coming out of cliffs near the summit. Difficult to believe anyone would fight over such a hill.

Lots of new shots. Just used the very wide angle 43mm lens on my Mamiya 7 camera with Ilford FP4 120 film. Used a mixture of my favourite dark yellow filter as well as orange and yellow/green. The first two for mountains with blue skies, the latter for views with lots of green trees.

We finished the day with a drink at our hotel with Ulli, our amiable host.

Tomorrow rain is forecast so unsure what we will do. Possibly a Cortina photo day.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Innsbruck, Brixen and Dolomites Photos

We woke to heavy rain in Innsbruck instead of the forecast sunshine. Time for a leisurely breakfast!

Spent an hour or so taking photos around Innsbruck Altstadt in dull weather before heading south over the Brenner Pass into Italy.

Next we headed for the beautiful small town of Brixen. Lots of photos here in the sunshine. Stopped for a spot of lunch, mine was liquid, jans was ice cream!

Then back to the car for the final leg to Misurina. Stopped a few miles short at Lago do Landro to take another set of pictures to compare to those from 4 years ago.

Used dark yellow filter for the sky to start but as sun lit up the conifers I switched to green to brighten foliage.

We arrived at the Sport Hotel in Misurina about 5pm and received a warm welcome from Ulli and Fiorenza despite it being 4 years since our last visit.

Then jolly nice meal at restaurant in the village before retiring to our room for blog time!

Walkies tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Waterfalls and Innsbruck

We left Garmisch and headed south towards Austria. Dull but dry day, not the rain they had forecast.

Sunshine tomorrow, allegedly, so decided to leave day-time shots in Innsbruck until then. Instead we detoured to the Pitztal for possible views of the Wildspitze, which I climbed on a ski mountaineering trip in 1994 with guides Jon de Montjoye and his wife Hilary Sharp. Bit unclear as to whether it could be seen from the head of the valley but I have the shot anyway.

Waterfalls were in full spate and they were just putting warning signs out for hikers about flash flooding.

It was a couple of miles to waterfalls and a bit of a scramble. Bit like taking photos in the shower but I dried off quickly afterwards. Had to keep lens covered while I lined up the shots then remove hand as pressed shutter button. Interesting!

We arrived in Innsbruck at 5.30pm. Our hotel is close to the old city. Did a quick recce then had an early dinner (and a couple of Dunkel beers) in the Stifts beer Keller while waiting for darkness.

Headed off to first location a bit before 8pm and carried on until 10pm. Innsbruck is not that well illuminated so had to guess long exposure times of up to 1 minute. Usually I get away with 10 seconds or so.

Tomorrow morning we spend in Innsbruck for photos then we drive down to the Sport Hotel in Misurina for 4 days in the Italian Dolomites.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Zugspitze Day

It was a cracking day today. Warm, blue sky and the odd cloud with a few clouds hanging in the valley until midday. Caught the train and cable car to the top of the Zugspitze and took some photos. Mostly used an orange filter to darken the blue sky but knew it would make shadows more difficult to print.

Then down to Glacier Station on cable car to start walking down to Garmisch 11am. Looked like a rocky desert to start with. Then it was into some greenery while following the stream to Garmisch.

Lots of trees in Partnachklamm area and for previous section so I switched to a yellow-green so that they were brighter in the picture.
I estimated 12 miles in total but turned out to be over 16 miles. Will have to buy a new map measurer! Jan not impressed.

Jolly nice meal and beer tonight. Had Hacker Pschoerr Oktoberfest beer, nice taste but very fizzy. Used my fork to whisk it to remove air.

Tomorrow we move on to Innsbruck and Dolomites on Thursday.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wet Day in Bavaria

Yesterday was a good day for walking, warm and dry with sunny spells. Looked like it was clearing on tops so went up cable car to Zugspitze. Unfortunately, clouds didn't clear from here so went down for walk in valley around Eibsee lake and then back to Garmisch through the meadows. That was about 14 miles in total and 20 photos. Could have been better for photos.

Today is very heavy rain (as in stair-rods) with clouds low on the mountains. Not a day to go high! Forecast is better for tomorrow so planning to catch cable car up Zugspitze and then walk down. Am keeping fingers crossed for a clear day!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Frankfurt Photos

We are heading south from Frankfurt. Came off the motorway to avoid traffic jam, driving towards Bavaria, hot and sunny.

Frankfurt was good for photos, interesting buildings, the River Main, clear blue skies and hot. Ran off 120 rolls of Ilford FP4 (10 shots a roll), both day and night.

The modern skyscrapers were better lit on Thursday evening than Friday. Apparently they turn off the lights on environmental grounds for part of the week. Luckily I took my night shots on Thursday.

Had a useful meeting with Antje, an artist agent that we met 3 years ago at licensing show in New York - our stands were opposite, about working together. We have a contract to go over but we agreed to go forward and just sort fine detail. We actually bumped into Antje on the street while looking at the map on Thursday afternoon and went back to her house for a coffee and met her 2 sons.

Last night we had an nice time with Antje and husband Steffen. First they took us to a pub in Sachsenhausen for a meal and beers then along to a bar at the river.

Tonight we arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for 4 days in the Bavarian Alps.