Categories
Photography Walking

Flooding in Airedale

It started raining on the Sunday and, apart from brief intervals, didn’t really stop until the following Thursday. In the years I’ve lived overlooking the Aire valley, I’ve never seen it flood so quickly.

Airedale in Flood

It wasn’t until the Saturday that I could take advantage of such a, sadly more frequent and, “different” photowalk.

Up close, what surprised me was that levees have been built that prevent the flood water from draining away as quick as it might. There’s only 2 reasons I can think for this:

  1. To prevent the run-off simply draining into the Aire without soaking into the ground first; &
  2. To prevent flooding happening further down the valley in urban areas.

House building is already a contentious issue in the Aire valley; There’s a proposal to build even more houses on land that floods regularly. Anyone who buys one of them should prepare for their boundary fences to look like this…

Detritus

Categories
Consumerism Photography

Spring has Sprung!

So December has mostly been full of this…

Christmas

…and this…

Ready to Wrap

But there is also some of this going on…

Spring has sprung!

I spent a day in the garden over Christmas, cleaning up all the dead stuff, pruning, etc.  Underneath some of last year’s dead foliage, I came across these shoots.  They added a vibrant colour to the area and completely changed the colour temperature.

In other gardening-related news, the composting we started a couple of years back is beginning to give results.  I dug some out from the bottom of the bin through the access panel and riddled it as there was still some that hadn’t broken down fully.  The resulting soil looks top quality and the “too big” stuff went back in the top of the bin.

Categories
I.T. Photography Walking

Social Networking – The Options are Endless

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, are friends with me on Facebook or linked to me on LinkedIn will know that I am a big Twitter fan. I tweet A LOT! And often. About many different things – work-related articles, my own photography or photography in general, fell walking, etc.  I realise that different portions of that content will be of no interest to different groups of those people I’m connected to.

So, the quandary I had (and many people who have a varied web presence may also have) was how best to separate the professional content from the personal stuff.

Twitter has become the lynch pin in my Social Networking “strategy”. I can tweet direct (and in some cases automatically) from nearly all the web sites I use regularly using a variety of plug-ins to distribute the content as I see fit to…

  1. Facebook – I use an application called Selective Tweets to import my content with a hash tag of #fb into my Facebook profile.  Facebook emerged out of pure social networking.  However, it is slowly developing a business-oriented facet but this is proving difficult because of the apparent laissez faire attitude accorded 3rd party app developers when it comes to 1) users’ data; & 2) malware embedded in those same apps. Facebook doesn’t help its cause any by regularly upsetting its user base, changing the layout and the configuration of its default security settings, often in favour of those same app developers and without consulting its user base. We give so much of ourselves to that information-hungry monster and this is how we are repaid! Respectable business will always shy away from such volatile unpredictability simply because of the security risks and the personal data processing regulations involved.
  2. LinkedIn – I use the Tweets application to import my content with a hash tag of #li into my LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is VERY business-oriented and totally geared toward professional networking and collaboration. Though fairly formal, there’s no old boys club (that I can see) and you can extract far more business knowledge from the variety of groups available than you have to submit. Although, if you are reaping such benefits, it is human nature to put something back.
  3. Twitter has a foot firmly planted in both camps, with a genuine mix of social and commercial networking and self-promotion. Basically, your Twitter experience is entirely of your own making, i.e. not thrust upon you with the aim of controlling your entire (online) world view. Moreover, if you don’t like your current Twitterverse, changing it is so much easier to do. A new list here; some new Follows there…

I do have a Google+ profile but I’m struggling to wrap my head around how best to use it.  I think that until it acquires a critical mass of users, it’s always going to be playing catch-up but now that signing up is open to all…

So!  That’s how I do it.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on any of the above, your approach to Social Networking or if you have any other related comments…

Categories
Photography Walking

Sunny Day on Barden Moor Above Embsay

There is something calming and quietly reassuring about the peace and solitude of a lonesome meander across a remote moor.

I can thoroughly recommend Barden Moor on a fresh spring day with barely a cloud in the sky for just such an experience. Your heart rate rising as you climb up to the rim of this natural bowl. Once inside, you are sheltered from all but the strongest of winds. The pheasants having a hearty chuckle to themselves and occasionally making you jump as they take flight immediately AFTER you’ve walked past them. Stupid birds!!!

Upper Barden Reservoir

The two reservoirs, although man made obviously, add to the scenery rather than detract from it. The route can be as easy or as difficult as you choose, depending on where you start from, i.e. park, and how far you’d like to walk. Much of it is on established tracks but there are sections of soft boggy ground where sturdy walking boots would be more suitable.  The section between the cross on Rylstone Fell and Rolling Gate Crags is tricky and can be very wet. However, I think the views are well worth the effort!

Cross Cracoe

And at the end of it all, there’s a warm welcome waiting for you at the Cavendish Arms in Embsay.

Categories
Photography Travel Walking

We’re all Closet Meteorologists at Heart

The first weather warning of snow in the area for this winter season has been given. That really does fill me with dread. Don’t get me wrong, snow on the hills is brilliant! I got some fantastic photos during the cold snap last year and it turned everyday walks into expeditions.

However, I’ve got a rear-wheel drive car (a Merc CLC 200) and it’s rubbish in the snow! Driving it last winter was an exciting experience to say the least. It didn’t move for about 3 weeks while there was snow on the ground. When it was moving, there was far too much wheel spin for my liking. It felt like the traction control warning light was never off.

In some areas of some European countries, drivers are legally obliged to switch to winter tyres around November time. In the UK, snow is far from guaranteed each year (except maybe the far north of Scotland) and even when it is around, there isn’t usually enough of it for long enough to call for a whole new set of tyres.

The gauling thing is, I traded in a perfectly good 4×4 with permanent 4-wheel drive for something I really wanted at the time but now can’t wait to get rid of.

I’m not a fan of global warming, far from it; I think it’s a major problem and it has definitely left its mark on the 1st decade of the 21st century. However, at the moment in the UK, we’re in a bit of limbo where, generally speaking, the summers aren’t as warm as they used to be and the winters aren’t as cold; apart from these crazy spikes in either direction from time-to-time.

Categories
Photography

Photocamp Bradford 2010

October saw the 5th Photocamp Bradford unconference at the National Media Museum and Impressions Gallery. The event, organised by Exposure Leeds, has become a significant calendar entry for many West Yorkshire photographers and indeed for others based in the surrounding regions.

An “unconference” has many similarities to a typical conference except that the content is delivered by delegates willing to facilitate a session. Ideas and requests for content are canvassed in the preceding weeks and months.

On Saturday morning, Joe Cornish and Tim Parkin delivered the keynote address. A wide variety of sessions followed throughout the day, e.g. macro photography, personal photography projects, wedding photography, and lots more besides. The end result was over a hundred excited and motivated photographers moving between sessions, deep in animated conversations.

Sunday started with a photo walk around Bradford city centre. The remainder of the day was hosted by Impressions Gallery where the fundamental principle was creativity. Aside from the usual session of photography using props, three pairs of briefs were set. Delegates were challenged to choose 1 brief from each pair and create 1 or more images as per that brief. Thinking outside of the box was absolutely encouraged and the results can be seen at the links below…

1. City as Landscape
2. Urban Portrait
3. Textures and Details of Bradford
4. Abstracted Portrait
5. Still Life

Another fantastic event organised by Exposure Leeds!  Many thanks to Jon and Anne for making the event such a success.
My Shutterstock Portfolio

Categories
Photography Walking

Scrambling on Striding Edge

Striding Edge, as a classic scrambling ascent of Helvellyn, can get very busy.

Striding Edge

The route has claimed a few lives and should not be taken lightly.

Categories
Photography Walking

Paraponting

Takeoff

Paraponting (also called parapenting) is essentially launching yourself off the summit of a mountain and gliding back to earth in the valley below.  Whereas parachutes are designed for controlled descent such as skydiving or dropping cargo, paragliders are designed for ascending with the aid of thermals.  The skill of the pilot is finding these thermals.

Without thermals or upwards airflow (hence launching from a mountain slope), the paraglider will glide towards earth.  The rate of descent or glide ratio is inherent in the design of the glider wing be can be raised in a number of ways.

Typically, beginners or learners are strapped to the front of instructors but positions can be switched.

Paraponting

Categories
Photography

Michael Davitt Bridge

Michael Davitt Bridge at Night

The Michael Davitt bridge is a swing bridge which connects Achill Island to the Irish mainland at Achill Sound. It is named after Michael Davitt. The first bridge was opened in 1887 by the National Land League which he founded.

In 1947, that bridge was replaced as it was too small to carry vehicular traffic safely. A new bridge was built along the south side of the original.  In September 2007, work began to replace the bridge for the second time and was completed in 2008.

Michael Davitt Bridge

Categories
Photography

Don’t Pose For Photographs

This may sound strange coming from a photographer but there’s nothing worse in a photograph than an obviously put-on smile or a forced pose. We’ve all either done it or seen it.

And that is why good photos of animals (technically correct – in focus, well lit, etc.) stand out so much. They’re natural; What you’re capturing is their everyday behaviour at that moment in time.

Tail Wag Brown Lab Puppy Stretch

Now some (lucky) people are naturally photogenic but if that’s not you, next time someone’s got a camera, at least try to ignore it and trust the photographer to catch you looking your best.

Russ

Categories
Photography

Think More – Shoot Less

Everyone generally agrees that time is precious and we would all prefer to spend it doing the things we want to and not those we have to. In photography, at least in my mind, what that boils down to is “Less is more!” I read a few web postings recently that talk about this in more depth.

Scott Bourne isn’t exactly a hero of mine but he does talk a lot of sense. In an article from last year, Become a Better Photographer by Taking Fewer Shots, his general advice is to put more effort into thinking about the composition of a select few images rather than “spray and pray”.

Nicole Young echoes this sentiment…

Avoid “machine-gunning” your photos. Every time you press the shutter you are creating an image that you will import into your computer and do something with (even if it’s just deciding you don’t want to edit it), and shooting in continuous mode all the time (several frames per second with each press of the shutter) will exponentially increase your editing time. I have found that as I develop my skills as a photographer I am taking fewer and fewer photos, but I end up with just as many, or more, “keepers” than I did in the past. I am selective about my shots and know that want to think about everything I see in the frame and only press the shutter when I’m sure I have what I want. It doesn’t result in a great photo every time, but I know become a better photographer every time I press my shutter and don’t just hope I get a good shot due to “luck”. There are going to be moments when shooting several frames-per-second is appropriate, so the key is to know when to use that method.

So, how do you remove the temptation to “spray and pray”? Well, Chris Weston, a respected wildlife photographer, summed it up brilliantly in an interview with Digital Photography School. When asked “Do you have a tip for beginner to intermediate photographers that will help them improve their photography?”, his reply was a bit of a Eureka moment for me.

Something I still do to this day is, before I press the shutter I ask myself the question “How would I caption this image?” If the only answer I can conjure is the species name, then I wait for a better shot.

My Shutterstock Portfolio

Categories
Photography

Sunrise at Almscliff Crag

There was a full moon recently so I had the bright idea of getting up early and finding somewhere high to watch the sunrise. It was a fantastic plan when it was hatched but when the alarm went off at 2:40am and outside being a real pea souper, it didn’t seem like one of my better ideas.

Almscliff Crag was our chosen spot and when we arrived there at 4am, the sky was already starting to turn blue…
Almscliff Crag in Silhouette

It was really erie sitting up on the crag watching the fog retreating…
Receeding Mist

…but I think the end result was worth it…
Sunrise

While we were there, I’m sure we saw the crack in Amy’s bedroom wall
The Crack in the Wall?

As always, any feedback and comments welcome!

Cheers

Alex

Categories
Photography

Why Blog?

It’s all Scott Bourne‘s fault!

Scott Bourne wrote an article about why photographers should build a blog and not a website.  I started my own website years ago for a variety of reasons but recently I’ve found it harder to maintain (keep current) and with less time to do so.

Also, just like everyone else, I’m looking to collect (or reference) all my online content in 1 place.  So here are some blatant plugs for now and we’ll see how this evolves.

Shutterstock

My Shutterstock Portfolio

Dreamstime

My Dreamstime Portfolio

Fotolia

My Fotolia Portfolio

CanStockPhoto

My CanStockPhoto Portfolio

Bigstock

My Bigstock Portfolio

Cheers for reading thus far!

Alex