Saturday, 30 January 2016

High Light, Lake Light and Peak Light - Sold Out!

My first 3 books are now sold out. High Light and Lake Light sold out in 2015, that's 2000 copies of High Light and 1500 copies of Lake Light. The final 8 copies of Peak Light were sold at the lecture I gave to Holmes Chapel Camera Club on Thursday night. That's 2500 copies of Peak Light sold.

The only place I know still with a few copies of High Light and Lake Light is the Tourist Information Centre shop in Buxton Pavilion Gardens. They are selling them for £10 each. They sold out of Peak Light last year. They also have copies of my 3 current books, City Light, Land Light and Snow Light. Here's the covers for the current 3 books, in case you needed reminding!

You can of course buy these 3 books online through my website at:

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Wild Walk in the Peak District

Jan and I walked the local hills near where we live in the Peak District the other day. We started from above Combs village and made our way onto Combs Moss. It was windy but dry and overcast. As we went on the top (to just over 500m) it was really windy, Jan was able to lean into it without falling over but it wouldn't quite support my little bit of extra weight. Wind speeds of around 45mph are enough to support me so it was a bit less than this (I did the test a  few years ago with a wind speed meter on the top of a mountain in Ireland!). It was blowing us sideways as we walked on the slippery tracks across the peat moor.

I was actually checking out some locations for photos, one of which is a commission, but without carrying a camera. It was very flat lighting so not much chance for striking big views. I did take one on my phone and convert it to black and white to give an idea of what I will go back and take on a good day.

It's a bit calmer today so will be a bit easier as I walk over Eccles Pike behind the house.

Tonight I'm giving my City Light lecture to Holmes Chapel Camera Club, in Holmes Chapel Library, 8pm KO. All welcome. Click here for details:

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Exmoor Coast

Today we had wall-to-wall blue sky all day with near freezing temperatures.

This was to be our last day of the trip before heading home tomorrow (Thursday) and we decided to have one last coastal walk. One thing that we can't do in the Peak District!

We headed west towards Combe Martin, parking a few miles east then walking the Coast Path.

It was a good walk but I didn't take many photos, in fact just 8 shots all day. All with my Mamiya 7 camera, 65mm wide angle lens and Ilford 400 Delta at 500 ISO. All handheld, no tripod, travelling light.

The walk was a bit under 10 miles and took 5 hours so we weren't rushing. I almost forgot to take a phone photo to illustrate this blog post but took just one from Great Hangman Hill looking east.

The whole trip was just over 6 days, including Bristol and Exmoor. I took 19 rolls of 120 Ilford film, mostly FP4+ with a few 400 Delta when I didn't carry a tripod. With 10 shots per roll that's 190 7x6cm  negatives for my week's work.

I used a Mamiya 7 camera exclusively, in fact I used 2 as the cable release socket on the first one didn't work so I switched to the spare that I had packed. I suspect part of the metal screw thread of a cable release has broken off and blocked the socket. It's so difficult to buy good quality old-fashioned screw thread cable releases!

I used 3 lenses. Mostly 65mm and 43mm wide angle lenses but I also used a 150mm short telephoto in Bristol. On using Google Street View for planning shots before leaving home I could see images across the river to the SS Great Britain that needed a short telephoto lens. These were the only shots that I used the 150mm lens for.

I took 2 tripods. Both Gitzo's. One a series 1 that weighs about 1.5kg that I used around Bristol. It's more sturdy and higher. The other is a series 0 that weighs about 1kg and I can carry when Hill walking. In fact on this trip Jan carried it when I decided I would need to use it for long exposure waterfall shots on Monday.

Best of all though, my bad back survived some pretty strenuous walks and the hardest I've done since July. All without taking any drugs. Fingers crossed I can keep it under control in the future.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Sunny Exmoor Photos

At last, a sunny day! To make the most of it we decided to use the car to visit as many locations as possible, rather than going for a walk.

First of all, we revisited Countisbury Hill and took the sunny views along the Coast. Yesterday I didn't even get my camera out of my rucsac. Today we walked out to the end of the headland, about 2.5 miles in total. Good views both east and west.

From the headland we could see Lynmouth beach and pier were sunlit. With the low sun at this time of year most of Lynmouth never catches the sun. We headed back for shots of the harbour, it was an hour or so from high tide. Nice light. I used both of my wide angle lenses to pick out different views and Ilford FP4.

We were close to the hotel so we had a bit of a break before heading off to Lorna Doone country in early afternoon.

The book Lorna Doone is set mostly in the East Lyn River valley so we only had a short drive (minutes) to get there. The low sun gave lots of interesting lighting and shadows.

First stop was the Lorna Doone farm and old bridge. Really nice light illuminating the underside of the bridge arches. Had to wade into the river to get the angle I wanted on the shot.

Then just a couple of miles to the 900 year old church in Oare. The best view was from the churchyard with the hills in the background. 

Last location on my list was Robber's Bridge, a few minutes from Oare. This is a small bridge over a stream with overhanging trees and lots of bright green moss on the rocks. I meant to take a phone photo to illustrate this blog but forgot. Sorry.

Next stop was a few miles away on Exmoor. Not planned but just had to stop and take a line of trees. The clouds behind them were fantastic too. I used my 43mm lens and an orange filter to start with then took a few with my red filter. Not sure which will be best. I didn't want to darken the sky too much or the trees won't stand out enough. I fear red may make the sky too dark.

That was it. What a fantastic day! Can't wait to see the negatives.
Here are some phone photos to give you an idea of what I've taken.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Watersmeet Waterfalls

Today started dull, with rain forecast, but it stayed dry all day - the dull bit they got right unfortunately!

On days like these big views often look flat but it's perfect for waterfalls. Sunlit waterfalls often disappoint because details can be lost in the brightest areas.

We started off following the Coast Path for a couple of miles to Countisbury Hill. A jolly fine viewpoint overlooking Lynmouth but very windy too. A good one to come back to on a bright day.

It was just about midday and we happened to be passing the Blue Ball Inn so we ventured in for a swift pint. It would have been churlish not to!

From here it was all downhill to Watersmeet. With all the recent rain the waterfalls were spectacular, much more water than on our last visit a few years back.

Jan carried my tripod for me as I knew it would be needed to give me the streaky water effect that I like. I just carried my Mamiya 7 camera with 43mm wide angle lens, Sekonic spot meter and a few rolls of Ilford 120 FP4+ and 400 Delta. I only used the FP4+.

The pictures needed me to wade into the river in several places to put white water in the right part of the frame. Fortunately my Hill walking boots are 10 inches high and Gore Tex lined (Meindl Dovre Extreme GTX) so I remained dry shod.

2 films later we moved off on the final 2 mile riverside walk to Lynmouth. A bit under 8 miles in total and my bad back still seems to be as well as can be expected!


Countisbury Hill

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Exmoor Valley of Rocks

Having arrived in Lynmouth late afternoon yesterday, today was our first full day in Exmoor. It was a nice day so we decided to head for the Valley of Rocks, just outside Lynton and Lynmouth. Not bright sunshine but overcast and dry.

From there it was inland for a few miles eventually stopping for a break at the Beggars Roost Inn in West Lyn and an excellent pint of Exmoor Stag.

From there it was about an hour back to Lynmouth. Dry all day but dull so no photos after Valley of Rocks. At just under 10 miles this was my longest walk since early August, and drug-free too, except for alcohol of course!

No tripod today, all photos taken on Ilford 400 Delta handheld, with a dark yellow filter to add a bit of contrast.

Bristol by Day

We had a couple of hours on Saturday morning to take photos around Bristol. It was a crisp, cold, sunny day and we started close to our hotel with the Georgian Terraced houses in Royal York Crescent.

Then we went down to the river and the SS Great Britain and on to the harbour. A few good shots here but it was clouding over. On to the nearby cathedral before heading back to the hotel.

After a short break to check out of the hotel there was just time for a few daylight shots of the Clifton Bridge before heading off to Exmoor.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Bristol by Night

Happy New Year!

In case you were wondering where I'd got to I just took it easy for a few weeks. My bad back was the worst it's been in 12 years through 2015 with 4 really bad episodes. So I've had to slow down a bit to build it up and get it back under control. I'm walking the hills for at least an hour a day and another hour or two of workouts and exercises before breakfast. So far I've lost 6kg and am a shadow of my former self!

Instead of going skiing we are having a few days away in the West Country and tonight we are staying in Bristol. Never been to Bristol before!

Our hotel overlooks the Clifton Suspension Bridge and we arrived in time for a few photos at dusk, before it went dark. The bridge is well lit and there is a high viewpoint that looks down on the bridge from the Clifton side. After the first few dusk shots I settled for 2 minutes at f5.6 for most of my photographs, on Ilford FP4 at ISO 125.

There was another photographer there when I arrived, taking time lapse photographs to make into videos. He showed me a very impressive one of Barcelona. It took him hours, moving a few metres at a time. I wouldn't have the patience for it! He also added that he took 30,000 shots on his recent short trip to Barcelona. I pointed out that in my whole life I have taken less than 60,000 negatives!

Here's a phone picture converted to black and white to give you an idea of what I've taken on my proper camera (Mamiya 7 with 43mm lens). Had to use my widest lens to fit the bridge in. We also wandered around the quays and I took a few shots around Millennium Square at night.

Tomorrow we'll take some more photos around Bristol before heading down to Exmoor where we're staying for a few days. Good weather forecast too, yippee!