To name but two. After Hraunfossar I drove for most of the day towards Godafoss, only to be met there by unrelenting rain, wind and mist making any photography impossible. So, after returning from Alderyarfoss and the aurora display I spent the night at Godafoss hoping for some better luck in the morning. To my relief, the morning brought clear weather and a colourful sunrise.After Godafoss I hurried towards Husavik for a spot of whale watching, images from which I'll probably add in a separate post. Curiosity took me to the Asbyrgi Canyon, another potentially expendable item on my itinerary but one I'm glad I took the time to visit. An eerily empty and tranquil place, full of autumnal colour and embraced on all sides by high canyon walls. At its heart was a serene, silent and still pool, teeming with beautiful rocks. Navigating to Dettifoss, Europe's largest waterfall, my trusty sat nav once again sent me along an apparently short route that belied its rocky and treacherous ride. At least I could enjoy some lovely scenery en route while trying to stay vertical. Before long I could see the plumes of mist from Dettifoss and hear her roar. Dettifoss is mighty indeed, the magnitude of her sound and breadth overwhelming the senses. I hadn't realised that further on was another waterfall, Selfoss. By now the light was fading, the mist was intensifying and I was running out of time. I trudged over to Selfoss only to be stopped by large puddles around slippery rocks. I managed to hop and skip my way over to the edge of the cliff near the waterfall, and I still don't know how I set up a tripod in near darkness on a wet surface next to a steep drop, manually focusing with a 50mm lens to get a shot off. Returning to my vehicle was a blind battle through a chokingly thick fog and it took me a while to locate my vehicle. Driving through the fog was even more challenging but as I headed east towards Hengifoss it cleared up to make way for a beautiful moonlit sky.All in all, a good day.
Well, it hasn't been a boring year.Unfurling with typically merciless speed it brought us chaos, tragedy and abrupt and painful loss, but also celebration, triumph and discovery. New horizons beckon on both sides of the pond and as a compulsive optimist I subscribe to the idea that joy cometh in the morning. Perhaps my optimism is naive and misplaced but the alternative must be far worse.For I can gratefully report another enjoyable year of life on Earth. Being busy with personal and private projects seemed in no way to inhibit my travel, foreign or domestic; to see some old friends, foreign and domestic; and to keep peering through a window on the world from behind the shelter and solace of my camera(s). In terms of photography the beginning of the year was a little quiet until a trip to Central America by way of Costa Rica and Panama. Diverse, exotic wildlife in dense cloud forests, humid mangroves and even a night in the jungle thrilled us before visiting the towering metropolis of Panama City. Hummingbirds, capuchins, iguanas and sloths preceded the gateway between two oceans and two continents. Hot, enlightening and thrilling I relished every moment of it. Historical Colchester was a town I hadn't appreciated until I took the time to do so with Zuzana as my guide. And a little street photography in London was a brief interlude until my next overseas trip to Gothenburg, the first of two visits this year to this beautiful city. A remarkable place with a cosmopolitan culture and some truly magnificent sights, all seasonably clad in vivid springtime blossom. Upon my return from Sweden my good friend and fellow photographer Parrish invited me to join him at the top of the United Kingdom's tallest building for a view of the capital. Down on the street the miserly Londoners can be abrupt and rude and would rather step through you than around you but when the dusk descends the city becomes an irresistibly radiant spectacle of lights and colour. The United Kingdom may be geographically small but I have lost no faith in its ability to continually surprise me with its beauty and the Isle Of Wight was no exception. Much like the Isle Of Man two years ago the Isle of Wight impressed us with its vast range of interests. From history at the stunning Osborne House to its picturesque beaches, from fascinating castles to golden sunsets on the coast, and of course the rare red squirrel, the island has something to offer everyone.The summer had me take a brief trip through Wales, no less scenic or special whatever the weather. Back home I enjoyed a local car show and availed myself of a little National Trust before spending some time in Central/Eastern Europe (depending on your relative location) and driving back. Another trip to Wimpole and to Stowe and a spontaneous drive down to the south coast to capture the Milky Way arching over Durdle Door rounded off the summer. The autumn began with a terrific road trip to Newcastle, yet another pleasant surprise within Her Majesty's Realm, a friendly and vibrant town as abundant in bars and eateries as it is in the grand architecture lining its streets.I had a little time to kill in October so I popped over to Iceland to cover nearly 3000 exhilarating km of its mesmerising landscape, left soaked by its waterfalls, dwarfed by its glaciers and speechless by the Northern Lights.Being my favourite season I naturally had to capture the colours that autumn had gifted us and this year had a prolonged and vibrant display.The end of the autumn saw the annual November fireworks, this time rendered through a great fish-eye lens that also proved useful on a trip to a vast car show in Birmingham.My final trip this year was another visit to Gothenburg to enjoy some Christmas lights and winter nights. Poseidon still presides proudly over his city, surveying its festive radiance under a low crescent Moon.This wonderful pastime called photography has again taken me to new destinations both near and far, enriching my life with new experiences and knowledge. My photographic postcard style hasn't changed much. My emphasis on practice over theory and gear hasn't changed at all. But Alpha Whiskey is thankful to be a year older and wiser with a little more mileage on the clock. My horizons are broader at the end of this year (as indeed are my lats) and I look ahead with confidence that a new year, as quickly as it may unfold, will deliver even more intrigue. And however much more time the future generously gives me I intend to enjoy it.
It caught me almost completely by surprise (although my app did suggest some aurora activity that evening) but the display turned out to be a consoling reward after an epic journey to find a remote waterfall. I had just driven for most of the day to reach Godafoss, only to be prevented from capturing it that evening by unrelenting wind and mist. So, I decided to pop over to the next stop on my list, Alderyarfoss, gullibly believing my satellite navigation's assertion that it was a mere 45-minute drive away.Alas, what my navigation didn't tell me was that it probably determined that time over an aerial distance in a straight line. On the ground I had to take what I assumed was a road but seemingly more crevassed and cratered that a beaten up asteroid. Consequently, 45 minutes was something of a fantasy, taking more than double that time along a route that evidently no one else was stupid enough to travel. But there I was, utterly alone in the dark with my poor vehicle trying not to flip over on this rodeo ride of gravel and rock, not a single solitary droplet of life anywhere to be seen or heard and evermore committed with each passing metre. Finally, I had managed to scale the vertical cliff to the car park where I found myself, unsurprisingly by now, completely isolated but within earshot of running water. The waterfall. But that subtle scent of relief quickly evaporated when I realised I still had to walk a few hundred metres downhill through muddy rocks. Telling myself I was committed by now was no consolation for carrying my camera bag and tripod, grumbling frustration under my breath with each precarious step. At least I could see the ground clearly with a full moon at my back and a Brubaker-supplied headlamp strapped around my temples.I paused for a moment to contemplate my frustration and fatigue, looking up at the moon-lit sky where I saw two pale strips of cloud reaching over me from behind the hills in the distance. Hang on a second. Those can't be clouds. I set up the camera on the tripod and took a ten second exposure.The strips were green. The aurora borealis was about to display. This was my reward. Ribbons of light began swirling through the sky, as if someone on the other side of the hills from where they emerged was holding them in their hands and gesticulating wildly. The lights became brighter and larger and more saturated with hues of green, yellow and pink.So there I was, exhausted and alone on the side of hill under a spectacular aurora display, Alderyarfoss a few metres away. It would have been great to capture the lights over the waterfall, or any other landmark for that matter, but they were firing in the opposite direction and the full moon would have challenged my exposure.Once the peak of the display seemed to be over, I quickly walked down to snap the waterfall before trudging back up the car park and enjoying the fading glimmer of the display.The following night I was also graced with the lights while driving east so naturally I pulled over and shot what I could before the lights faded once again.These are by no means great aurora images and would have been far better over a mountain peak or reflected in a lake, but I consider myself fortunate to have seen the display twice on two consecutive nights and they were certainly a prize for my efforts. The last image is actually from my last night in Iceland when a momentary break in the clouds allowed me to quickly capture a mild aurora by the Milky Way. Sorry to take you on this epic journey of prose but I wanted to share the experience. These were virtually all taken with a Nikon-something-or-other-who-cares-DSLR and wide angle lens between ISOs of 1600-3200 for around 8-13 seconds, manually focused to around infinity at F/2.8.
As well as the seasonal lights Gothenburg is a beautiful city in its own right at any time of the day. These images are a glance around the city from day to night and many of her landmarks become stunningly embraced by the fiery sunset reds and cobalt dusk blues. I have been to this city a few times now and many of the shots and views are very similar to previous occasions, but these views are so photogenic that it is hard to resist taking them. The last image was taken by the aquarium in the Universeum.All photos were made with the Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 or the Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5 mounted on the E-M5.
Spent a lovely long weekend in Gothenburg, at the invitation of my friend Christina, enjoying the coruscating Christmas lights draped around the city. Gothenburg is rightly very proud of its vibrant seasonal decorations and they have become a big attraction for visitors, adding both colour and sparkle to an already luminescent city. While I felt bathed in the warm glow of the lights my friend's company and hospitality were warmer still, a needed contrast to the winter chill.Anyway, I hope you enjoy these images. I will post some more of Gothenburg in the daytime and sunset in another post. These were all taken with the Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 and Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5 mounted on the E-M5.
I didn't see these two places together on my second day in Iceland, and indeed the Grabrok volcano crater wasn't even on my itinerary but merely along the way during a day of mostly driving. I started at Hraunfossar waterfall, which wasn't overly spectacular, and then drove towards Godafoss, a mere 6 hours away. I was meant to go and see Hvitsekur in the north en route but I was running late and wasn't fussed about missing a big rock in the sea. I stopped to trek along the volcano and take in the views, and also met some horses whom I shall present in a separate post. In the evening I drove through Akureyri and stopped again to photograph its lights against the dusk. All shot with the Olympus E-M5 and 12-40mm F/2.8.
Not exactly the most original images Alpha Whiskey has ever made but I had company the other night and tried to steal some shots where I could. The luminous colours and brilliance of London's lights are hard to resist, regardless of how often I have shot them. The impending winter and shorter nights also means that my preferred dusk light doesn't last as long. So these were shot and edited to be ever so slightly over-exposed and as vibrant as possible. All shot on the Olympus E-M5 with either the Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 or the Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5.
The most photographed mountain and waterfall in Iceland, Kirkjufellsfoss was both the start and terminus of my excursion around the island. Understandably popular with its obvious beauty and compositional simplicity, I was barracked on the hillside by countless other tourists and their tripods. Rather than just be a slave to the same shot that everyone takes I also tried to make a small study of the water and surrounding areas. I rendered them in black and white wherever I felt that the colour added nothing of value to the shot (particularly under an overcast sky). There was a hint of the auroras in some of the images but nothing like the spectacular display I was treated to the following night. I hope you enjoy these images. More from my excursion will be posted soon.
Some classic, some modern, all at the NEC in Birmingham this past weekend. I'm not a fervent car enthusiast but I'm gracious enough to accept an invitation, and even more impressive than the cars themselves was the sheer magnitude and variety of them, filling 5 halls to the brim. The heaving masses swarming around the cars made it difficult to capture isolated shots so I employed a variety of techniques and processing to get these images. And the harsh spotlights and glistening sheen of the metal made the polarising filter largely ineffectual. But low angles made the vehicles look more dynamic and imposing, and individual anatomical details helped exclude people from the picture. I tried composing along geometric lines and shapes while emphasising the beauty of their designs. The images were processed to have a look that I felt conformed to their classic status and design, as well as to render any unwanted bystanders irrelevant. A great exhibition, but after nearly 6 hours of touring around it even my legs were getting tired. Highly recommended though.To capture all of these I used a variety of lenses; mostly the Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 but also the Olympuses 12-40mm and 60mm F/2.8, and the Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5 fish-eye. All mounted on the Olympus E-M5.
Happened to be in London last night and decided to try my recently acquired fish-eye lens on some familiar locations. I must say I was rather impressed with how the manual focus Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5 performed, producing very sharp images and an interesting perspective. I wasn't too bothered about 'de-fishing' the images to give wide angle shots as I rather liked the slightly warped perspective. Sometimes a different focal length can stimulate one's creative juices. The wide field of view can disconnect one from a small or central subject so I suppose one has to be judicious in one's choice of scene or perhaps get closer for a deliberately warped perspective. The long exposures were shot by mounting the camera on a small Velbon Mini tripod and using the LIVE TIME function. All images were shot RAW and processed in Lightroom. All shot on the Olympus E-M5.
Well, these don't change much from year to year and perhaps the photos reflect that, and in any case I prefer to spend more time watching them than photographing them. Just to be different this year, however, I took all these pics using a fish-eye lens, the Samyang 7.5mm F.3.5, a manual focus fish-eye made for the m4/3 format. Easy to focus with and very sharp, I look forward to using it for other subjects.All these were shot with the Olympus E-M5 at around 1/30s and F/3.5 at ISO 2500.
A little more colour as its my favourite season and the more denuded and depressing winter is upon us. The colours this year, while vibrant, didn't last long so I'm keeping them alive here for a little while longer.Again, all shot with the Olympus E-M5 and one of the 12-40mm F/2.8, 40-150mm F/2.8 or Panasonic 20mm F/1.7.Hope you enjoy the colour as much as I do.
My favourite season, and as much as I enjoyed the autumnal hues recently in Iceland I still wanted to capture the vivid colours here at home. These may be very similar to autumn shots I have taken in the past, but for me capturing the autumn instinctively engages certain criteria. The light has to be there, either backlighting the foliage or stretching its fingers through it. The colour obviously has to be as vivid as possible, and in many cases I had to desaturate the intensity (especially the reds). In terms of processing, I tend to bias the white balance towards warmer tones, deepen the blacks to accentuate the colour and increase the white point slightly to emphasise the light. These were all shot one afternoon at Winkworth Arboretum with the Olympus E-M5, hosting one of the 12-40mm F/2.8, 40-150mm F/2.8 (with MC-14 attached) or the Panasonic 20mm F/1.7.I must extend my sincere sympathy (perhaps pity) to the poor old woman at the arboretum who chastised her husband and grand-daughter for speaking to 'that black man.' Firstly, while I accept disseminating human skin colour amongst the vibrant autumn foliage can be a trifle challenging, I am not African-Carribean. Secondly, even if I were (and I accept there probably aren't very many in Surrey), I would still not be a threat to anyone as I'm sure human beings of all ethnic persuasions enjoy nature. And thirdly, while it may seem unusual to a sheltered old woman who probably hasn't got out much, we humans tend to talk to each other. So best of luck.To the rest of you, enjoy the autumn!
So I recently had some time to kill and I thought it might be rather fun to drive around Iceland in the autumn. I had been to this charming little island twice before but this time I was on my own, driving around its ring road in an SUV that was also my home for the duration of my trip. My main aim was to see as much as possible in the limited time I had, which often meant I wasn't always fortunate enough to have the best light or indeed the best weather. Nevertheless, in less than 8 days I crammed in over two dozen waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, canyons, a volcano crater, humpback whales and the aurora borealis, the last of which was a stunning display that was worth the trip alone.Iceland is, of course, a beautiful land unlike anywhere else, with contrasting landscapes, volatile weather and spectacular natural features. Much of the country was appropriately dressed for the season in autumnal hues, decorating the countless waterfalls, streams and mountains in a kaleidoscope of colour. It is certainly true that one cannot help but regularly stop at the sight of something unexpected and beautiful. I ended up seeing far more than my itinerary intended for me.I may elaborate in a later post how I planned and executed my trip but for now I simply wanted to share a brief snapshot of some of the things I saw. And despite all that I did see it is still probably just the tip of the iceberg (so to speak).I realise Iceland has been photographed to death and I may not have anything original to offer but this was a trip I wanted to do for myself and most of the images I captured please me. In the coming days and weeks I may expand on individual landmarks/locations. Rather bizarrely, the inclement weather towards the end of my trip became particularly severe whenever I visited a place I had been to before, and miraculously cleared up at places I was seeing for the first time. Spooky. I must thank my good friend Brubaker for all his invaluable help kitting me out for vehicular camping and navigation. Without his help I would literally be lost, cold and powerless. He was due to join me on this adventure but his draconian employers would not free him from work. I must also thank my good friend and fellow photographer Parrish who very generously lent me a set of ND and graduated filters, enabling me to capture some long exposures, particularly at the glacier lagoon. Well, nearly 3000km and a supertanker of diesel later I had made it back to where I had started my journey at Kirkjufell in Snaefellsness, the most photographed mountain in Iceland. A small sense of accomplishment quietly crept under a stronger longing to finally get back home, light up a fat one and swig down a cold one. Job done.Most of these shots were made with the E-M5 and Olympuses 12-40mm F/2.8 and 40-150mm F/2.8. I used the DSLR primarily for the auroras as the larger sensor was more capable at capturing them.
A small but no less beautifully ornate cathedral in the heart of Newcastle, St Nicholas has all the usual photographic opportunities found in these historic buildings. From the grandeur and scale of the columns to the geometric patterns in the architecture, everything in between is a treasure of statues and ornaments with plenty of interesting lighting upon them. All images shot with the Olympus E-M5 and 12-40mm F/2.8 or 60mm F/2.8.