Nature’s Best …

IMG_5442Is it just coincidence, or are there more Spring wildflowers around this year as a result of lower traffic pollution caused by Covid-19 lockdown? We’ve had some beautiful weather this Spring – indeed some days it’s felt like mid-summer, and being somewhat restricted from going very far we have had some lovely walks arounds the lanes and fields near home.  What we have noticed is a profusion of wildflowers – not just the usual dandelions, buttercups and daisies, but more wildflowers than I’ve ever taken notice of before.  Maybe they have indeed flourished as a result of lower pollution, or perhaps it’s just that with our horizons somewhat diminished just now, we are more attuned to what we see?

Anyway, on our walk a couple of days ago, although the bluebells have pretty much finished, we saw upwards of a dozen other wildflowers in the space of an hour or so.  Surely there are many more too, but these are just some of the ones we spotted and I photographed.

Do You Need A ‘Proper’ Camera?

FullSizeRender (1)I absolutely love my Sony A7iii camera. It’s a fabulous camera to use, and with it’s full frame 24Mpx sensor, unrivalled dynamic range, and superb Zeiss and Sony lenses, it’s capable of the highest quality images.  The downside though is that it’s a fair amount of kit to carry around, and needs to be used carefully to get the best out of it. Fine for a dedicated photo ‘expedition’ but overkill for casual photography – definitely not something to carry around all the time.

Enter my new iPhone XR – every iteration of mobile phones has a better camera built in, and the latest iPhones are no exception. A 12 Mpx camera is standard, and amazing processing power means that photos can be subsequently edited to alter the depth of field – something that defies the usual laws of photography. But how good is the camera for ‘everyday’ photos? – those situations where you wouldn’t realistically be carrying a ‘serious’ camera and lenses.

FullSizeRenderToday gave me the opportunity to check that out – a bright and cold start, with lots of great colours in the sky, and pretty much wall to wall sunshine for the rest of the day.  Photo #1 was taken very early, and just a few yards from home, while photo #2 was taken an hour or so later when the sun was fully up. The rest of the photos were taken late morning – looking across at a local wood, and then near the local canal.  All photos were taken in RAW format, using the Moment Camera App, and then processed in Snapseed on the phone to convert to mono or enhance the colour etc, and to add the border and frames.

Snapseed (1)A phone-camera is never going to be a match for a dedicated camera with a much larger sensor and inter-changeable lenses, especially for nature or sport photography, or in adverse lighting conditions, but for ‘casual’ shooting the results are pretty amazing.  I’m confident that with my new phone I can take photos that I wouldn’t otherwise get, just because I wouldn’t have a bigger or better camera with me. I have a wide angle adapter lens on order which will help with landscape and architectural shots, and I may also get a telephoto adapter too – ideal for portraits.

Judge for yourself whether you think these are ‘worthwhile’ photos – I’m certainly happy with them.

 

Worth getting up early…

The fact that dawn and sunrise are now just a little later means it’s not quite such an effort to get out and take photos in the rather special light that morning brings. We are lucky that we live on the edge of a valley where the early morning mist collects, and it was really only a short walk down to the fields where the cows were grazing as the sun came up.

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These cows seemed to think I was bringing breakfast!

No tripod, I just relied on being able to use the camera at higher ISO and still get good results. Even before the sun came up, there was a pretty big difference in illumination between sky and foreground, so most of these shots use a 0.6 (2 stop) grad filter to balance the exposure.  I’m more than happy to take several shots with different exposures and blend them when using a tripod but handheld really does need a bit of help at source.  Even so, the shots with the sun in the frame needed a little Lightroom magic to get the tones and balance just right…

Misty Morning

The mist weakens as the sun rises – 10 minutes later it had all gone!

Even before the sun makes an appearance there are great tones, although again they need a little work to bring out the best contrast.

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Converted to mono, but there wasn’t much colour going on this early anyway!

It was definitely worth getting up for these photos!

Take a walk…

My dear wife spotted a FREE photo walk at the Dudmaston National Trust property in Shropshire (UK) and encouraged me to try it. I am so glad I did!

Accompanied by a volunteer photographer at the estate, a bunch of around 12 of us walked around the site for a couple of hours while he pointed out things of interest and good viewpoints. All this was at a leisurely pace, so even though I was the only one using a tripod, it didn’t seem rushed.  It wasn’t the best weather/light – around midday in September, cloudless sky and slightly hazy, but this was fine for the woodland shots, and needed a bit of post-processing to bring out contrast in the wider more open views.

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Taking it easy…

I really enjoyed using the Fuji 18-135mm lens – its a fair bit heavier than my ‘old’ 18-55mm, but I only switched lenses once during the day (and that was to a wider angle lens).  There’s been talk about this new lens not being as sharp as the 18-55mm, but so far it works for me.

All in all a great session – well lead by volunteer Matthew, a good venue, and minimal cost, just the standard £6.60 entrance fee to the property.  Definitely worth looking for other similar events – there are several over the next few months in the Shropshire/Cheshire area.

Boathouse - Dudmaston NT

The  boathouse at Dudmaston

Dudmaston is situated on the A442, approx 3 miles south of Bridgnorth, and is run by The National Trust.