As the last clusters of colour are shed from arboreal heights to leave denuded forests in a fading landscape I thought I would post a final hurrah for my favourite season. Avenues briefly gilded with golden leaves are now pale and unwelcoming. Iridescent fallen foliage clears away for the new season of monochrome and the air is cooler and brisk. The sun, fatigued with the task of diffusing through gathering clouds, cascades all too soon behind a lifeless horizon. Winter is upon us.And so I present a humble reminder of the autumn that now departs. These were all taken at Plitvice National Park, where pockets of seasonal hues were still radiant under the sun. The gentle breeze would nudge at trees ablaze with brilliance and bring leaves gracefully tumbling and fluttering around us. The clear, still lakes mirrored even more Technicolor dreamcoats of golden shades into our viewfinders and screens, and pockets of sunlight would kindle flaming spirals of red, orange and yellow on their way to the ground. Enjoy.
Before our visit to Plitvice, we stopped at this rather enchanting little town nestled in the company of several beautiful waterfalls flowing into a gorge. The waning afternoon sun filtered through the autumnal foliage to cast its rays upon the water, itself decorated with surrounding tinges of yellow and green. Curtains of silky smooth water draped themselves over rocks and rapids to find a gentle landing in the adjacent canyon where a delicate mist floated just enough above the bottom to glisten in the light. It proved to be a sumptuous appetiser for our main course at Plitvice. Enjoy.
Some more images from this trip to the lakes, arguably some stragglers, but no less picturesque in their own right. I have added a few more reflection shots in this set as well as some attempts at capturing the Milky Way over the lakes. A luminous partial Moon added a little too much light to our sky so bringing the galaxy out was a challenge. Some of the autumnal hues still remained and spotted the park as we walked through on our second day. Again, many thanks to my friend Parrish for his company and patience. These were all shot with Olympus.
Anyone with an aversion to fall colours should probably look away now. Somewhere I had wanted to visit for some time, the famous Plitvice Lakes in Croatia were awash with vibrant autumnal hues reflected in crystal clear emerald waters. My friend and fellow photographer, Parrish, and myself both had the idea to plan and execute this excursion and it proceeded pretty much flawlessly.The Unesco site is comprised of a series of upper lakes connected to some lower lakes through a succession of streams and waterfalls, no less than 90 all told.I'm not sure what it is about waterfalls that draw me to them so much. I have seen some of the largest and most beautiful falls that this planet has to offer in places such as South America, Iceland, Canada and even Wales (still my favourite). Perhaps its the sheer power of the flow or the sound of the rush, or perhaps it's the simple beauty of seeing nature pour water freely over an edge. Many of the waterfalls in Plitvice are, of course, small, trickling affairs, while others have a more interesting aesthetic. The largest, known as The Big Slap, isn't really that large at all and is merely a trap for tourists wishing to capture it as yet another digital friend on their selfie sticks. But the entire national park is a pleasure to roam for a couple of days, hiking through its woods or clapping ones boots on its many boardwalks. While overcast skies are probably better for accentuating seasonal colours and limiting blown highlights the glaring sun, solitary in a cloudless, blue sky, reached its fingers of light through the canopy above and touched the leaves with radiant glows of red, orange and yellow. Tanned and ochre leaves pirouetted down around us, denuding their host branches to leave a ceiling of bare, black dendritic webs. Every corner turned would reveal a new waterfall or stream, the view often obscured by tall yellow reeds or wistful orange spots. As they gurgled into the waiting lakes lush highlights of crimson and gold would interrupt the green foliage at the banks and become twinned by the mirror of still water beneath. Our steps crunched along the caramel carpet of leaves under us, stitched together with patches of rose and amber.Surprisingly, around water, we saw very little wildlife but for the abundant fish and ducks. Fearless coal tits and nuthatches would flutter around us hoping for a morsel and the island in the main lower lake hosted a few cormorants. Branches and tree trunks often crowded our views of the waterfalls but in retrospect this added an authenticity to the unspoiled environment. En route to Plitvice Parrish and I stopped at Rastoke, a picturesque little town also populated by a series of waterfalls flowing into a long canyon. It proved a terrific appetiser for the main course and I shall post some images from there later. We finished our trip in Zagreb, a small but bustling city of trams and colourful cobbled streets. The Croatian people were generally helpful and friendly and we enjoyed driving through the country's vivid autumnal landscape. I thank Parrish for his excellent company and knowledge, and that's two polarising filters I now owe him. Please don't lend me anything else. There's still more to come from this excursion but for now enjoy the images below. All shot with Olympus and mainly the 12-40mm F/2.8.
Having visited this magnificent waterfall in August, courtesy of my dear friends Nat and Rob, I was keen to return to make a decent photographic study of it in the absence of other visitors. So thanks to Nat and Rob's hospitality once more Natalia and I ventured back up to Wales to see Pistyll Rhaeadr once again, this time in the early morning before sunrise. Gale force winds the day before did little to deter us as we braved the relentless bluster and rain to snake our way through pieces of felled trunk and branches. A tree in the road so close to our destination was quickly conquered as we dragged and cajoled it out of the way. Just like a certain starship captain I simply do not believe in the no-win scenario.We found ourselves once again dwarfed and deferential to the majesty of this waterfall, its engorged flow thundering down and punching into the stream below like a stampeding water giant. The howling winds bullied and shoved us, whipping up swirls of red and ochre leaves to swarm us like we were unwelcome visitors.But we would not surrender our solitude to the elements. Not a soul in sight disturbed us as I captured these images, until finally the risen sun would peer through clouds behind us and light the valley in our wake with shards of yellow autumnal light. The wind was too severe, even with my sturdy tripod, to allow for exposures longer than 10 seconds and most of these were between 2 and 5 seconds. A few shots of 1-2 seconds were taken hand-held thanks to Olympus's excellent image stabiliser.The inclement weather also prevented us from scaling the hillside to reach the top of the waterfall as we had done in August.Well I'm happier with these images of the waterfall than the ones I took in August. I hope you enjoy them too.
Natalia and I spent a lovely day at Hinton Ampner, a property managed by the National Trust. Although surrounded by beautiful and bountiful gardens and views, the house was the main attraction, comprised of lavishly decorated rooms and furnishings and exquisite ornaments. All images shot with Olympus gear.
Just a few from the archives. Of course Berlin is a fantastic city with much to see and do and I certainly enjoyed my time there. But that time also allowed me to visit the city's two zoos, Tierpark and Hauptstadt, the latter having an impressive aquarium. Both zoos are known for their polar bears and cats and had ample numbers of each. I am increasingly on the fence about zoos, erring on the side of antipathy, as I do not like seeing sentient animals cooped up, caged or restricted in their movements. Some zoological parks do a decent job of allocating plenty of space for their species to roam but in a big city that space must surely be limited.To that end, simply think of these images as portraits, celebrating the beauty of species we have on our planet and reinforcing our responsibility towards them, their freedom and their survival. All these were taken with a DSLR and 70-200mm F/2.8 zoom.
The United Kingdom has one of the largest (if not the largest) populations of grey seals along its coastline and this weekend past Natalia and I decided to visit them again on the east coast. And as ever, they were playful and expressive, almost anthropomorphic in their gestures and postures. Despite their grunting and passing wind it was a great joy to spend an afternoon in their vicinity on a warm, sun-blessed beach.It was difficult to isolate individuals or pairs from their colony but I have no regrets about failing in that regard as I was trying to maintain a respectful distance from them, allowing them to behave naturally in their own habitat. We were merely guests.These were all taken with the excellent Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 and MC-14 TC attached.
As well as all the beautiful waterfalls and glaciers and mountains Iceland also had wonderful views just driving along its roads. Often empty for ages at a time, always long and winding, they led to views of mountains and lakes and great vistas in the distance, too attractive to resist but too many to stop and shoot individually.So, whenever I was in the vehicle, I mounted my camera (EM-5) onto the dash in front of the steering wheel close to the window, with a polarising filter on the glass to cut out reflections. I set the vehicle in cruise control so that I would have only the steering to focus on and whenever a pleasing scene came into view I would hit the touchscreen on the camera to take a photo. Sometimes I would zoom in or out but usually I would simply wait until I was the appropriate distance. Instead of zooming with my feet I would zoom with the vehicle. The last shot was taken by the roadside; I couldn't ignore the aurora, after all. Virtually all the rest were shot from the car travelling along the roads. All images were shot with Olympus gear.
On my final day in Iceland I cruised around the north-west of the island in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Perhaps it's a testament to how much I saw and shot during my circumnavigation that I'm still posting images from the trip almost a year later. It's also a testament to how quickly a year flies by these days. I still have a few more images left from the road which I may put into another post. Anyway, this part of Iceland was rocky and windy, especially on the coast, with volcanic rocks strewn over the land at the foot of high cliffs and mountains. I had started my day watching some Icelandic horses walk home along the highway after sunrise. That was a truly eerie and bizarre sight. The weather wasn't great during my time there, mostly overcast and gloomy which an occasional intermission of blue sky. The coast offered some interesting rock formations as well as some wildlife such as seals and birds. One highlight of the day was the Rauðfeldsgjá gorge, with its small closeted waterfalls and shafts of light. I finished the day, and indeed my trip, where had I started it at Kirkjufellsfoss. I spent a couple hours here in the evening, hoping the clouds would clear to reveal some aurora, but it wasn't to be. So I finally headed back to Reykjavik in the early hours of the morning to return my vehicle and fly home. Eight long days and a ton of photos later I was ready to hang up the camera, eat some wholesome food and sleep in my own bed. It was both an exhausting and exhilarating trip and one I intend to repeat, albeit with wiser and even more selective choices about the places I visit. Almost all the images were shot with Olympus.
This was a lovely surprise suggested to us by our friends and a stunning location to visit. Natalia and I had a great time exploring around the waterfall and hiking to the top to soak in the spectacular views. Photographically, however, these images demonstrate why light and being able to control it with filters is so important, in that the sun was behind the falls during our visit in the afternoon and I had left my filters at home. I tried to capture the water slow shutter speeds (necessitating higher apertures) while not having too many blown highlights but these are not the greatest shots taken in the greatest light. I imagine that I will return here someday soon to shoot it in better light.However, I'm ever so grateful to my friends, Nat and Rob, for bringing us to Wales's highest waterfall and to Natalia for insisting we hike to the top.All images taken with the Olympus, except the two of the Milky Way at the end, shot behind our friends' home with a DSLR and wide angle lens.
A few more shots from this event. There were just too many that I liked. One should always endeavour to place a limited number of only their very best shots but as this is my blog I'm happily indulging myself and I doubt anyone will mind seeing more of the action from the race. Again these were all shot with the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 with MC-14 teleconverter attached. I have processed them to my taste, mainly for contrast, but in some cases I have again dialled down the saturation to emphasise the action and the mud. Whatever one shoots one should not just think about capturing the subject but revealing something too. In other words, the images should always try to have artistic merit where possible. Just my view. Enjoy the action!
Natalia and I had an absolutely thrilling weekend in the company of my dear friends Nat and Rob up in mid-Wales, especially at this local demolition derby event. We were joined by Frank, Isobel and of course, young Harry. I haven't been photographing much lately owing to a busy schedule and the necessary rest after intense volume in the gym. But this was a great opportunity to experience and shoot some vehicular carnage.Mud and dust were whipped up and hurled at us in the frenzied race as cars that looked like something The A-Team constructed after being locked in a shed careened around a dirt track, fenders and bumpers flying off all over the place. Wheels detached as axels twisted, and shards of metal and splinters of headlights littered the track. The incessant and glorious revving was matched by the dust clouds in their wake, some so thick that cars smashed and rolled in the fog. Hopefully the pictures below will do more justice than mere words. Most of were taken with my Olympus mirrorless gear, namely the EM-5 with the 40-150mm F/2.8 mounted to it. Some were taken with the DSLR and 70-200m F/2.8 as the phase detection autofocus proved useful in certain moments. Overall, however, the EM-5's contrast detection did a fine job keeping up with the cars. Cameras were set with burst shooting in shutter priority at around 1/500secs, occasionally using 1/80secs for panning shots. The main difficulty was finding decent positions to capture the action in, and a few wooden posts had to be cloned out of the images. I processed the images with simple contrast adjustments, using a desaturated or B+W treatment to emphasise the swirling hurricanes of mud, itself often as much a character as the cars. Tribute must be paid to the excellent drivers and organisers for hosting an excellent and enjoyable event. To be honest, I could have volunteered my own car in the races and it wouldn't have looked much different! Many thanks, too, to Nat and Rob for their kind invitation to see this event.
Hoping to catch sight of a few meteors from the Perseids shower, my friend Natalia and I headed to a dark site in the south of England. Catching any of the falling meteors was always going to be luck of the draw, but I think I managed to register one on the first image. With our own eyes we saw quite a few of them streaming across the sky. We found a barn/distillery of some kind and decided it would make a decent anchor for the images. I wanted to capture the Milky Way with my fish-eye lens, hoping it would show the galactic arm arching across the night sky. Admittedly, it was a trifle difficult shooting at higher ISOs with the micro-four thirds sensor and required some agricultural processing to bring the galaxy out. The nearly full Moon also didn't help with the exposure and changed positions a few times trying to exclude it. But I'm showing what I managed to get below, and I happy I got something. The second image in this series was taken with a DSLR and Toking 11-16mm F/2.8.Before long the clouds started moving in and their invasion concluded our excursion. But not before I took a few shots of the cloud patterns blanketing the sky. Overall, a fun and spontaneous excursion to the middle of nowhere in the dead of night. Although, note to self: perhaps not the best idea to be up all night after spending two hours in the gym.
I'm still plundering my Iceland trip from last October for more images, having seen so much in so many places. This set is from the lower centre part of the island, which I traversed on my penultimate day there, starting with the sunrise at Haifoss and ending with the sunset at Oxarfoss in the Thingvellir National Park.In between the weather wasn't particularly cooperative and thus I only spent a marginal amount of time the much-frequented haunts of Geysir and Gulfoss. Having visited them in the past I wasn't too bothered and will surely visit them again in the future. Bruarfoss was a revelation, hidden away and a bit of a walk to find, but the beautiful cyan rush within its flow was plenty reward. I also visited the Gjain Gorge, but the shadows were too deep and the vegetation a little dead. I imagine it looks better in the summer. En route to the gorge I found an interesting variety of terrain with equally enticing light, including a rainbow, no less.Generally a good day spent but perhaps the images demonstrate that fatigue was catching up with me by this point in the trip. And I still have my final day's images to go through. They'll be posted soon.