Water Grass

Where there are mountains there are likely to be lakes – large or small. The Zermatt valley is a classic example,  with a number of small lakes among the high mountains. Some are filled from glacial meltwater and are recently formed – the consequence of global warming and glacial retreat; others are simply in natural hollows that have probably been present for thousands of years. The Riffelsee, not far from the Gornergrat railway is an example of the latter. A pretty little lake in which, on a calm, day there is very often a reflection of the Matterhorn. Click here to view.

It is home to a lot of little fish, cotton grass and what I will call ‘water grass’. A more scientific term might be Reed. Found in clumps around the edge of the lake, the individual stems weave intricate patterns. The image above was shot two weeks ago, the one below in summer 2017.

No scene is ever precisely the same.

 

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Posted in Swiss Alps - Summer | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

A line of trees

I’ve been missing for two weeks. I’ve been elsewhere, and those of you who know me well will have figured that I was away in the European Alps, as is usual at this time of the year.

I’ve just been sitting in front of the computer for two hours or so, uploading hundreds of new images and this is the first one processed. Perhaps not what you might expect from 10 days in Zermatt – home to the Matterhorn, which, if visible, would be just peeking over the horizon towards the right edge of the image. We had good weather, and not-so-good weather – this was one of the not-so-good days. But this was an image I really wanted to work on.

I had viewed this line of trees in previous years (they are visible from our hotel bedroom across the valley); I probably walked past them about eight years ago. I have often thought: that would make a reasonable picture if I could get the right angle.  It’s a fifteen to twenty walk to get to them and so one morning with the weather looking unsettled I decided to take a closer look.

This year I made the decision to take two Nikon SLR bodies on holiday – an old D80 and a newer D7000 and two lenses: my ultra-wide 11-18mm Tokina and a 18-250mm Sigma. These lenses are a good pair, between them they just about cover every eventuality, but when I’m carrying just one camera body, I am constantly switching lenses; and in a harsh environment where there is always the risk of dust getting on the sensor, it’s a nuisance to keep uncoupling one lens and attaching another. And often I just can’t be bothered, with the result that I have probably missed loads of images in the past.  So this year I have done most of my walking with two cameras slung round my neck. I don’t enjoy the extra weight but I’ve enjoyed the options that two lenses provide.

I wonder how often you have seen a potential image some way off, envisaged how it would look, and then when you got close up discovered that finding the right point of view was difficult if not impossible. It happens. And this was one of those occasions.

I envisaged the line of four trees against the sky – no competing ridge lines, just trees and sky. I looked from this side, and the other side. I stood well back, I got up close. I moved up and down the hill. I used both lenses. There was no position that enabled the image I had in mind. What you see above was the best view I could achieve after about fifteen minutes of trying. It had the bonus of bringing a fifth tree into view.

I had an image, but I wasn’t too hopeful that I could extract a good picture from what I had captured. In colour the leftmost tree merged into the hillside in the distance. But, I had always ‘seen’ the image as having potential in B&W.  And Silver Efex has delivered the goods as it so often does. There are, I think, 37 presets to flick through in Silver Efex. For any given image thirty of those will be rubbish, but there will always be a few that are promising and often just one that hits the sweet spot. And that is what I found with this image. One option gave me exactly what I wanted – tonal separation between the trees and the distant ridge-line, the right amount of contrast, and a powerful sky into the bargain.

It’s so nice when it all comes together. This was shot at 22mm film equivalent, F16, 1/180 sec, ISO 320.

More images will follow over the next days and weeks.

 

 

Posted in Walking in the UK | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

On the Way

When I go out with a camera I have no idea what I will find to capture. Even if I am going somewhere special with obvious images that I will want for my archive as a record of where I have been, there will always be the unexpected. Pictures taken literally – ‘On the Way…’ or perhaps ‘By the Way…’

And that is the thread that links today’s images. The one above was taken on Reigate Hill. It’s a place we had heard of with commanding views southwards. A mixture of woodland and open hillside. Actually (although it was well worth the walk) I found no memorable record shots of Reigate Hill itself. But…there was a small herd of Belted Galloways up there. Most of you will be scratching your heads and thinking: what the heck is a Belted Galloway? Click the link. It’s a heritage breed of cattle originally from Galloway in Scotland. They are black with a wide belt of white hair around their middles – hence the name. I got close to one of them, slowly, and took this shot. The ‘black’ part was not truly black which I think added to the interest in the image. Maybe this was a young animal or an old one – that might explain the lack of pure blackness.

More recently I was in  London to see Christo’s installation on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Click here to view me post about that. Crossing the road on the way into Hyde Park I saw this sculpture. Getting closer I was struck by the streaks under the chin of the closest head.

Worth a shot. A detail that attracted me – I can’t explain why. Streaks created perhaps by the weather and maybe enhanced by the pollution inevitable in London.

A week later I was back in London again, visiting the Royal Academy. Wandering around new areas of the Gallery I found myself staring at the back of a marble feature and the quite extraordinary patterning thereon.

A true abstract with an almost 3D effect.

Three up-close images that are the result of always having a camera in hand, a natural state of curiosity and an interest in texture, pattern and line. There’s something special about holding a camera in your hand – it sends a sub-conscious message to your brain that says: ‘I’m looking for pictures’. It works for me. Next time you are out, don’t have your camera in a bag, try holding it in your hand, lens cap off, ready to shoot. You may be surprised what a difference that simple action makes.

Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

See-through Sea

 

I’m looking down through maybe a foot of water. The tide is coming in, the water is calm with a few ripples as tiny wavelets lap against the sea wall on which I am standing. The sun is shining; sunlight is being reflected and refracted by the sea and strands of sunlight are piercing the water and tracing delicate lines that dance across the seabed.

There’s only one word for it – enchanting. All the elements combine to create something that is constantly evolving. It’s mesmerising. It’s a light show. It’s nature at its best. Every step I take changes the picture. Every image is unique.

It’s inspiring. Wow!

Posted in Coast | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Blazing summer means a short brown autumn

‘Blazing summer means a short, brown autumn’ was the headline in the newspaper today. And here is further visual confirmation of the consequences of the UK’s recent heatwave. Leaves are already dropping – dead, burnt, fried.

My previous Post, click here to view, showed the evidence, and today’s image was taken on the same short walk.

The newspaper article went on to explain that a warm slightly moist summer is best for a good autumn display of foliage because trees need a healthy balance of sun and rain to produce sugars, which create the colours in their leaves. It quoted a forestry commission director: “unless there is some rain soon autumn will be brown and crispy and much less colourful. It may all be over by September.” What a dismal prospect.

We have had a day of very welcome rain, but that seems to have been just an intermission, the heat is now re-building with no sign of imminent rain.

 

Posted in Autumn | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Is this really July?

Well, the heat wave finally ended. The rain arrived yesterday and with it, wind. Everything got a soaking – no need to water the garden yesterday, nor today. Hurrah for that! Leaves have been blasted from the trees and I have been out today gazing at the leaf litter that carpets the ground.

And, I’m scratching my head and thinking: this is July (by a couple of days, but still July) and the ground looks like Autumn. This shouldn’t be happening, not in July. The leaves are dying. They have been fried, burnt, starved of water, and they have given up. And here they lie in a scene that would easily suggest late October. The world’s gone mad.

In our back garden we have what we call a Cabbage Palm (that may be incorrect), and that too has been buffeted and has shed a bucket full of leaves – or spears as my wife calls them. It needed to, actually. I picked up over 150 of them. And thought – worth a picture.

What will tomorrow bring? more rain I believe, and then it hots up again. Can we have normal, please?

 

Posted in Autumn | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

Pausing

Our lives seem to be governed by our iPhones or equivalents. They cause us to grind to a halt anywhere and everywhere. Even on a staircase – plenty long enough for me to take this and a number of other pictures. NOT with an iPhone, I hasten to add, but with my Lumix 100. But, naturally there was an iPhone in my pocket.

I was visiting the Royal Academy in Central London for the first time since it reopened following a major re-development. Well worth visiting purely to see what a recent article described as: “a masterpiece ten years in the making.”

The image above is a significant crop from the original vertical image shown below.

I remain in two minds as to which I prefer. The vertical shot has the benefits of its height and the way the stairs lead the eye around the image to the figure. The horizontal one focuses more on the figure and accentuates his position in the frame.

Which do you prefer?

 

Posted in Eclectica, Seen on the Street, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 38 Comments