Last Saturday we had the first Photo Trek of the season down at Buscot Weir, near Faringdon in Oxfordshire. It’s a great location on the River Thames, and not too far from my photographic studio near Swindon.
When I’d researched the Buscot Weir Photo Trek I’d planned for all sorts of weather conditions, and I was delighted that the day dawned sunny, bright, and warm.
The weir pool looked peaceful in the morning light, so I shot a 6-image classic panorama, complete with swan. I used my Lumix Fx-500 digital compact, and stitched it together in Photoshop PS5. As with other Photo Treks, I took a selection of cameras; a compact, a superzoom compact, and a DSLR. Most of the time I ended up using the two compacts, as they both have full manual control, and are great for demonstrating techniques.
The trek attendees were an excellent group, with a range of photographic experience, and a range of equipment. What they had in common was a willingness to learn how to improve their photography, and they all had some great ideas during the day.
The Buscot Weir Photo Trek has an emphasis on water. The Thames splits into 3 parts at Buscot; one part going to the lock, one to a sluice, and one to the weir. There’s a lot of dramatic moving water, and it makes for great images.
This water shot was taken using my Panasonic Lumix FZ-50 superzoom compact. I chose a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second and an equivalent focal length of 420mm. The long shutter speed has given a nice blur to the water. We had to find a part of the weir out of direct sunlight, as the brightness was making selection of a long shutter speed difficult.
With this image, of water rushing under one of the sluice gates, I’ve used the bright sunshine to my advantage. The light was shining deeply into the water from the other side of the sluice, and it’s given a fantastic luminosity and colour. Shot with the FZ-50.
This image is of some rather more peaceful water. In a field near the river there’s a cattle trough. It was full to the brim with nice clean water, and for some reason it had a load of pebbles at the bottom. The sunlight playing through the water onto the pebbles made for a stunning semi-abstract image. An ideal subject for my FX-500.
Away from the weir we found a field full of grasses, buttercups, and seeded dandelions. It was hard to do the field justice by trying to photograph it all at once, so we concentrated on details. It was a perfect place to show the difference that changing your lens focal length can make.
The first image used an equivalent focal length of 24mm, and the second an equivalent focal length of 420mm. The first image gives a better idea of the relationship between the different types of plant. The second has a more abstract feel, due to the out of focus background. Which do you prefer?
This final image is of a swallow resting on electric cables at St John’s Lock which is upstream from Buscot. I loved the simple composition of one bird, the cables, and that wonderful blue sky.
So, an excellent day. The weather was great, the people were great, and it was a great learning experience.
There’s still some places on our other Photo Treks this year, so if you would like some photography tuition, ” al fresco”, why not come along?
See you soon,