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I would Leica new phone.

I’ve got a new mobile phone.  It makes calls, texts and happily WhatApps, but the camera module and its software are worlds away from my previous mobile.  It has a Leica-branded double camera setup and has, it seems, a 27mm f1.8 Summilux-H lens.  The software is also powerful.  It can do the fancy “fake-bokeh” thing, and the amount of the effect, and the focus point, can be altered after you have taken the image.  Impressive stuff.

The image quality, made up of combined data from a 12Mp colour sensor and a 20 Mp monochrome sensor, is very good.  This sunset from yesterday evening shows the “wind harp” at the entrance to the Watchfield wind farm.  Taken in HDR mode, and with a bit of in-camera post-processing, the sky is fabulous.  I like the contrail going to one of the pipes. as it looks like a washing line.  Ansel Adams called them “sky worms”; he was not a fan.

The camera has some light trail modes.  You will know from previous posts that I am a big fan of light trails.  One is called “silky water” and is set up to render moving water as mist and assumes the camera will be held still.  It’s a bit like Olympus’ “Live Composite” mode.  So what happens if you move the camera instead?  Well, this hydrangea is now an abstract pattern of colour and texture.  I increased the contrast in post-processing.  I think there’s lots to explore with this mode.

It doesn’t focus very close, but I can fit my clip-on macro lens.  The phone does moan about me covering one of the lenses but it still works, as this shot of a perfume bottle shows.  It will focus very close with the clip-on lens fitted, and the ring light that is part of the lens kit helps light the subject.  Lens quality is not bad for a £4.99 Aldi Special Buy.  Keep an eye open for it next time you are there; it may come back into stock.

With the macro lens fitted you can make the phone do bokeh circles.  These are LED lights taken in the studio.  I set the camera to manual focus and made sure the image was very out of focus.  There are all manner of artefacts in the circles, probably caused by dust somewhere in the system, but it makes for an interesting image.

Five years ago mobile phone cameras were simple devices with limited power and not too wonderful quality.  Now they are sophisticated, powerful devices that you can get great images from.  You still need to know about photography and need to explore all the menu options to get the best from them.  It’s fun trying!

 

Fabulous Gower with lots of sunshine.

I try and get down to Gower in South Wales at least once a year.  It’s got the lot as far as landscape is concerned.  There are hills, valleys, woods, caves, rivers, and above all beaches and cliffs.  The fabulous thing about Gower is that it’s all in a relatively small area.

One less-visited part of Gower is Whiteford Sands/WhitefordPoint.  It’s up in the north-east of the peninsular and when the tide is out the beach is enormous.  There were only two or three other people there!  At the end of the huge flat beach is the unmistakable form of a lighthouse.  To quote Wikipedia:

“It is an unusual cast-iron lighthouse built in 1865 to a design by John Bowen (1825–1873) of Llanelli, by the Llanelli Harbour and Burry Navigation Commissioners to mark the shoals of Whiteford Point, replacing an earlier piled structure of 1854, of which nothing remains. It is the only wave-swept cast-iron tower of this size in Britain.”

After double checking the tide times, (vital, as the tide comes in like a steam train!), I walked out over the mussel beds to take a closer look, and a few photos of course.  I had seen that there were some cormorants perched in various places on the lighthouse.   As I pressed the shutter button they flew off.  It makes the shot much more interesting.

Another favourite Gower location is on the top of the Cefyn Bryn ridge.  It’s a great place to watch the sunset from.  Here some foxgloves and grasses on an ancient stone cairn are silhouetted against the just post-sunset sky.  It’s always worth looking at the details as well as the broader view.

Of course, sometimes the broader view is the thing to go for.  One of the finest bits of coastal scenery in the UK can be found at Three Cliffs Bay on south Gower, shown here at high tide just after sunset.  Gower has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, so it changes hugely as the tide goes in and out.  The long swoop of Oxwich Bay in the background takes us to a return line along the water.  It’s a 5-shot stiched panorama from a compact camera.

Gower?  Go there!

Take your photographic chances – once more

I was on my way out to the studio a couple of days ago and saw an odd shape on the door.  I thought it might be a leaf caught in a cobweb, but it just didn’t look right.  On closer examination it turned out to be a pair of mating Poplar Hawk Moths.  I’ve not seen that many Hawk Moths in my life, so this was a photographic chance I simply couldn’t miss.  I ran and got two Olympus E-M10 bodies.  I fitted one with my Nikon-fit Sigma EX macro lens and adapter, and the other with my Panasonic 100-300mm lens and an extension tube.  I did need to focus closer than the lens would normally focus.

The moths were in the shade so the contrast was nice and low.  It was quite awkward to get into a good position due to parked cars, but after a bit of back bending I was there.  The female was somewhat larger than the male; it’s all those eggs she was carrying.  She was also much more colourful.

After a while the sun moved round so the moths were lit more brightly, and the contrast went up.  I put the camera on the door below the moths and flipped up the rear screen so I could frame the image.  The male, with his larger antennae, now looks a bit like a biplane aircraft.

The angled sun was picking out the wing patterns and scales so I began to get closer.  I didn’t want to get too close as they were somewhat occupied, and it would have been rude to disturb them.  The female’s wings and furry thorax have lots of detail and beauty.

 

Finally I focused on just one wing of the female.  You can see each individual wing scale and the pattern is fabulous.  The wings are quite big; the female has a wingspan of around 70 to 100 mm.  It’s a good-sized insect!  They were mating for several hours, but eventually left.  I may never see anything like this again, and it was literally in my own back yard.

Take your photographic chances!

My first 2018 HF holiday completed.

Last week I was leading my first HF Holidays photography holiday of the year.  It was in the fantastic county of Derbyshire.  We were based just up a side valley from beautiful Dovedale, so it was an easy walk down.

Dovedale on a summer half-term weekend was very busy, but if you moved away from the most popular sites, such as the famous Dovedale stepping stones, it was a bit quieter.  We concentrated on the weirs and cascades, and there were great images to be found.  This small weir section looks like migraine zigzags!  I had to underexpose by 2 stops to get the highlights as I wanted them.

As well as visiting sites in Derbyshire where water has played a major role; Dovedale, New Mills, Buxton, Bugsworth Basin (to name but a few), we also visited the atmospheric Magpie Mine, an old lead mine.  There are many mines and quarries in Derbyshire where man has extracted riches from the ground, and in fact continues to do so.  This image shows the replica horse-powered lifting engine.  It’s near two very deep shafts and the original one was used to haul miners back to the surface  Rather them than me!

During the holiday we had a free day, which I used to research potential sites for future photography holidays.  I was struck by this lone tree near a huge abandoned quarry complex near Castleton.  The cropped letterbox composition gave the best shape to the image.  Nature has a way of coming back.

I’m looking forward to my next HF Holidays lead in July.

Robert KimberleyJuly 14, 2018 - 9:21 pm

Thanks for holiday tuition at Church Stretton.

It’s all a bit Gothy in Whitby.

Last week I was up in Derbyshire and Yorkshire doing some research for a couple of photography holidays I am leading for HF Holidays.  One of the places I visited was Whitby and by a happy coincidence the famous Whitby Goth Weekend was happening.  There were lots of people in fabulous outfits and all seemed happy to pose for photos.  It would have been rude not to…

One of the key locations for the weekend is the ruins of Whitby Abbey.  It’s a real eyecatcher up on a hill overlooking the town, and is about as Gothic as they come.  I used the Dynamic Monochrome Art Effect on my Olympus EM-1o.  I’m not too proud to use the Art Effects from time to time, though I save a RAW file as well of course.  I exposed for the sky to give a nice dark mood.

Some of the headgear on show was pretty full-on.  This person was in full-length leather and studs, but I concentrated on their mask and hat with horns.  It looks a bit like a selective colour image but it’s not.  The wall behind was white which made the red on the horns stand out very clearly.

On the subject of headgear, this guy’s top hat was one of the tallest I saw.  He was wearing a very elegant black jacket and neck decoration.  I have reduced the colour saturation to make him look a little washed out.  Those vampires do take their toll you know!

I managed to avoid all the vampires and escaped, so I was able to get all my holiday research done.  Phew!