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Bright Moonlight Blues
07th February 2015
I headed out to Twistleton in the Yorkshire Dales with the aim of taking some star trails. I realised my meager collection of star shots after dark amounts to a grand total of two photos and I really ought to make the effort to try to take some more photos.

The Yorkshire Dales looked like a good location for star trails are the light pollution levels are very low compared with the Peak District so I headed off for the 2 hour drive.

There a decent amount of snow still showing in the landscape and so I thought things were looking promising, even if it was going to be on the cold side.

I hadn't banked on the almost full moon though which showed itself as darkness fell. I was surprised just how bright it was being a city boy used to those pesky street lights. As darkness fell, the shadow cast by my tripod (and me) in the glow of the moonlight threatened to creep into the photo. It was apparent that I didn't even need a torch to read the time on my watch. Book reading by moonlight would also have been possible had (1) I remembered to bring a book and (2) it been 20 degrees rather than a finger freezing -1 degrees.

So I persevered anyway for the practice and because it seemed daft not to try having made the effort anyway.

So things I've discovered are:

1. An f4 lens isn't quite as useful as an f2.8 lens - I could have done with the extra amount of light for a 30 second exposure.

2. You really need the combination of a clear sky and a new moon - I wonder how often that's going to happen.

3. I really ought to take my Self Heating Hand Warming Packs if I venture out in winter.

4. Jam sandwiches and crisps don't really make the best crush resistant snack when wedged at the bottom of a camera bag. It appears as though the jam and bread will compress to about 3mm - who says I don't carry out practical field experimentation on behalf of sandwich eaters everywhere.

Pet Hates
26th January 2015
Pet Hates. I have a few. Strangely, we don't seem to talk about Pet Loves. That's either the 'mans best friend' type love, or something else complete different. Don't Google it on the internet is all I'm saying.

So pet hates and photography. I decided after a frustrating trip to a neighboring Yorkshire city to photograph water features there are a few things that niggle me.

After yesterday lets start with:

1) buildings covered in white plastic sheeting when you want to photograph them. There really can't be anything more distracting and hideous, architecturally, as the side of a lovely old building draped in a plastic sheet.

Then we have:

2) Ducks - natures own surface torpedoes whose only role is to ruin those perfect mirror like reflections.

3) Footprints - in snow (or sand) mainly. Carefully creeping around the side of a perfect snow scene to find a lone cow or size 10 boot has stomped across there first. Or some hiker has thoughtfully decided to test the weight bearing capacity of the frozen puddle which just happens to have the areas most interesting ice patterns. The same applies with sand although its generally warmer and has less cows (and ice).

4) The 'standing in your shot' photographer. I was once photographing the Another Place installation of 100 life size cast iron figures on Crosby beach. All by myself at sunset. Perfect. Expect for the one other photographer who turned up late to stand between me and the one figure I was already photographing so he could take the same photo. There was literally 99 other figures to choose from. I was speechless.

5) Weather forecasts - or more properly, wrong weather forecast. Nothing more frustrating that going to bed with a great forecast (I think she said that was her name), waking up in the dark at 4am when you can't see the likely weather, driving 2 hours only to find the forecast has miraculously changed for the worse during the previous 5 hour sleep. Great.

6) That stupid band of cloud that always hugs the horizon to stop any chance of a decent sunset.

7) Why do some cycles insist on wearing cycle gear so dark that even a trained ninja would say 'who know what, I just don't need to be that hard to see'. God forbid wearing anything as uncool as a reflective jacket. What's wrong with cycle lights. Do we look at a forecast and see fog or rain or maybe the trip will end after dark and think 'I'd better save weight and leave my lights at home.' What's all that about.

I'm sure I can think of more.
New Macro Lens
04th January 2015
Just because I don't have enough to carry already, I've added a new macro lens to my kit list.

I decided to go for the Sigma 105mm f2.8, having heard some positive peer reviews on quality of the lens.

Having used it once now I can see both the benefits and the challenges that macro photography will bring, but I think its worth the effort and it seems to open up some new photographic subjects which haven't really been on my radar before.

My first thoughts are that its probably going to be quite a challenge composing shots as the subjects, certainly in the woods, are tucked away in hard to reach places. I can see straight away why a longer lens, say 180mm, would help with setting up shots by allowing the camera to be further away in clear space.

It also seems like a few new accessories might be of benefit, perhaps like a smaller tripod or a beanbag to help support the lens. The depth of field is so shallow that even a very small movement throws the shot out of focus. More practice will help me as well.

So for now, here's my first go and we'll see how things progress. These 2 were about the same size as a £1 coin.

My full kit list is here


Winter Arrived
31st December 2014
After lamenting the lack of snow so far in winter 2014, we had some on Boxing Day.

As fate would have it, I was away for the holidays in sunnier climes down in Exeter.

Sheffield, as usual, ground to a halt when the first 1.1mm on snow landed and settled. If ever there is a Zombie Apocalypse which coincides with the first snowfall of the year, then the good people of Sheffield are doomed. No-one is leaving town.

Note to head zombie (presumably biding time on the Tory back benches) - postpone the summer invasion plans.

Anyway, I survived both the snowfall and any zombie related incidents (although I haven't seen my neighbour recently) and made it back from Exeter in time for a trip out to the Peak District.

For once the sunrise coincided with some nice light at sunset and I chose to head out to photograph the Salt Cellar rock formation, which sits above Derwent Reservoir in the Derbyshire Peak District. The white, cold snow scene was a joy to photograph against the warm tones of the orange sunset and blue, cloudy skies.

Despite my whole body feeling like it had been rolled down a hill in a tumble drier by the time I returned, it was a wintry trip worth making.

If there are any zombies out there and if any of them have spare body parts, then I wouldn't mind using them. My legs don't seem to be quite as good as they once were.

Photo of the winter Salt Cellar is in this gallery
The Weather Outside
10th December 2014
So, as we head towards mid-December, I recall childhood winter antics such as 'who can sledge down the hill and end up closest to the brook without falling in'.

I expect this had probably been proceeded by the yearly 'Dad, can we have a sledge, can we, pleasssse' appeal which me and my sister made every winter. I gave up when I turned 25. Kids today don't know they're born. I expect they all have isleds or whatever modern 'tech' is cool these days.

So going on, I remember those winter days when football was cancelled at school due to the hard frosts - on those days we were forced to play rugby on what amounted to a field of frozen icy razer blades.

I remember having to use extra choke to start the car on those cold winter mornings (does anybody under 40 actually know what this is).

I remember a mere 2 years ago when I would venture out on a crisp winters morn, crunching my way through frost, ice and maybe snow to capture photos of my favourite Peak District scenes in their splendid palette of winter colours.

Given that I don't really like the cold or the snow I'm surprised by just how much I like to capture the different seasons, including winter. Along with autumn, winter should be a magical time to be out with camera.

So, when will the weather actually start being wintry. Not this 'cold, wet, foggy, dark and dull' wintry but proper 'chestnuts roasting on a open fire' wintry.

Answers on a post card please.
Bulgaria Workshop Return
16th November 2014
Well I'm back from a hectic 8 days Photo Workshop in Bulgaria and the memories are still with me. They were with me four times in the night yesterday - I can't recommend Bulgarian cuisine.

The trip was a lot of fun even if the weather didn't really play into our hands but we made the most of the days and put in the miles looking for subjects to photograph around the southern mountain region. Emil our Bulgarian guide and excellent bird photographer really went the extra mile for us.

In the 8 days we stayed in 5 different hotels, 2 of which opened up specially for us because of Emil's contacts. I honestly can't remember what the second hotel room looked like. It will have have had a wet room which all Bulgarian hotels seemed to provide. I assume they have a partnership with toilet paper manufactures as wet room showers seemed designed to avoid the human body and soak just about everything else inside the room. Top tip - move toilet paper to a safe distance (the dining room should be about the right place) if you intend using it after a shower. Some wet rooms were small enough have a shower whilst sitting on the toilet and cleaning your teeth. Interesting, but I didn't try it.

Its hard to describe Bulgaria without sounding like I didn't enjoy the trip but that's not the case. Bulgaria is certainly tired, shall we say, and very different to what I take to be the rest of Europe to be like. There is quite a bit of poverty around. Since the Soviets left, whole factories, buildings, train stations, gravel plants, farms, cars (you name it) are just lying abandoned and a lot of buildings are unfinished. It was hard to tell what building were occupied even if they looked totally run down. A lot of derelict buildings and even whole villages lie around the countryside. We went to one village with over 100 building where there were just 35 (mainly elderly) people left. Litter seems to be a big problem as well. I was amazed at the number of abandoned shoes lying around the countryside. No matter how remote - shoes, water bottles, paper tissues were always there.
At this time of year the major occupation seemed to be wood chopping for the winter fuel storage. We have it very cosy in the UK.

I think the best way to describe Bulgaria in my mind is 'joyless - without joy' which seems odd. There were certainly some hustle and bustle in the larger cities but on the whole people seemed only to be doing things they had to do. When I got back to Sheffield I saw people out jogging, riding bikes, expressing themselves with fashion. Things with no purpose other that we have the time, money and security to do what we want.

In some towns Emil told us a whole apartment in a towerblock could be bought for £500. My camera is worth more than that. Emil described the gypsies moving into a village and pretty much 10 years later everyone else will have moved out. Pretty sober stuff compared with grumbling that Morrison's have rearranged the shelving or there's nothing to watch on TV.

Having said all this I had a very good time, I have lots of photos to go through which will keep me busy for a while and another wish list of photography kit to save up for.

And I didn't get stopped by the Watchers. Oh, the Watchers.
Sheffield Telegraph Article
15th November 2014
Ellen from LongValleyBooks, who publish the Photographers Guide to the Peak District, has had an article published in the News section of the Sheffield Telegraph. Ellen had to scale down the size of the story to fit the allocated space and I'm pleased that she still chose my Salt Cellar image to illustrate the article.

Here's hoping that the damp weather isn't putting off anybody buying the books and venturing out.

New Arrival
25th October 2014
After crashing and burning with my Canon 5D II body and lenses, which are still in for repair, I've decided to tempt fate and buy a Canon 6D body as a back up.

This will now guarantee that all repairs are complete by 9am tomorrow if my luck is anything to go by.

Harrison Cameras in Sheffield had a decent looking second hand 6D in stock which has 18000 shutter activations, my 5D has 28000 by comparison. I was happy to find out that for some reason, Canon seem to have forgotten the First Law of Camera Manufacturing, which is to 'needlessly change parts of the camera between different models, thereby ensuring the loyal customer is forced to buy a whole new batch of accessories such as batteries and cables that fit the new camera'. I'm pleased that the only thing that seems different is the memory card so that's a definite bonus.

The reviews for the 6D http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-eos-6d seem very positive and I'm looking forward to giving it a test.

Things will have to be very near though, as my only working lens is a wide angle.

I've now discovered that Adobe Photoshop CS5 doesn't have the support for the 6D RAW files but there is a converter which makes them editable. Nothing is simple - maybe its time to upgrade to a newer Photoshop version.

I had a quick test of the 6D out in the field, and the results at higher ISO setting did look less noisy as the reviews had indicated. The Live View level feature was also very useful.



My 5D mark 2 is now repaired - an expensive few days.

Update 18th Nov: My 6D has now stopped talking to my computer - in for repair (not much luck recently)
Camera's Don't Bounce
16th October 2014
Alas I've found out the hard (expensive) way that forgetting to zip your camera bag up can be a poor way to test your camera's bounceability.

For those of you who are interested the answer is - they dont. I kind of gave that away with the blog title so I wouldn't make a very good thriller writer.

What I'd hoped was some damage to the casing has turned out to be some cracking to the sensor frame as well. And the lens has decided it didn't need to autofocus after all.

Just enough damage that the cost is still lower than an ebay replacement, just expensive enough to hurt. A lesson learnt.

The insurance will cover it provided they accept the quote. Unfortunately I have to plow on with getting it fixed anyhow.

My advice would be to check your insurance - now my 5D mark 2 is superseded, I hadn't realised just how much more expensive the new model is, if a replacement is needed.

Maybe I should start painting landscapes - the cost of replacement kit must be a lot less. If only I didn't have a complete lack of brushes and paint. Or artistic ability.
Back from Ireland
30th September 2014
A week later and I'm back at home after a very pleasant tour around the Causeway Coast, Antrim in Northern Ireland.

I can wholly recommend the area, the coastline is certainly well worth the visit.

The journey there was a very calm ferry trip from Birkenhead, Liverpool, marred only by my inability to navigate as usual. A driver error (even with SatNav) meant that I had to go through the Mersey tunnel and then turn round and come back again. Possibly the most pointless £3.40 that I've had to spend on tolls when driving.

My B&B in Portstewart was only a 75 minutes drive from the Stena Line docks in Belfast - fantastic. If I lived there then I'd head for the coast all the time.

On the next morning before dawn I managed to lose the Giants Causeway - refer to notes above on navigation skills. I say lose, but the arrangements at the Visitors Centre are very misleading. The few signs around are badly orientated and there is a constant reminder that is costs £8.50 to visit (payable at the Visitors Centre). True, but it fails to mention there is a free route to the Causeway via the underbridge adjacent to the visitors centre. So needless to say, there aren’t any signs of the 'free route to the Causeway this way' variety anywhere.

It also says that its a 25 minute walk down to the Causeway - again, it isn’t and takes about 15 minutes. Bear that in mind if you're planning your photo shoot for a certain time.

I wasn't blessed with great sunsets and sunrises but it didn’t rain either and the sun did make more than one appearance. It was T-shirt weather which isn’t bad for late September.

I think that I basically followed the tourist information brochures for things to photograph but they're nice to visit for a reason. The Dark Hedges was a good example. I've always wanted to visit after seeing shots in photo magazines so I assumed that only a few people who read the same type of magazines would know about them. Wrong. It’s definitely on all the leaflets as a place to visit. For the hour I was there, I suspect there must have been 50 people who turned up as well. Bless those camera phones. To be fair, it was still easy to shoot the trees but I suspect this isn't the case in summer.

I planned to visit Ireland as well and changed some money into Euros. £70 worth, with my usual 'you can't be too careful' approach. In the end, I spent £5.50 on a very bad sandwich and some crisps. I ate so many crisps in a week that I was in desperate need of some fruit and a proper meal or I'd end up getting scrispy - the snack food equivalent of scurvy except in cheese and onion flavour.

All in all, a very tiring week but it would be great to go back and nail those gorgeous coastal sunsets. If only I knew an Irish Weather God. Or at least had his email address.

The Titanic Museum, Belfast:


The Dark Hedges
The Photographer's Guide to the Peak District
10th September 2014
I was surprised and very pleased to be contacted earlier in the year by Ellen Bowness of Long Valley Books.

Long Valley Books already publish two excellent photography guides to the Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District and were looking to expand their range by publishing a new book - The Photographer's Guide to the Peak District.

The guides are packed full of locations with useful advice to assist your photography trips and have been very well reviewed.

The Photographer's Guide to the Peak District is out now and I'm very pleased to have contributed five images to the new book and am especially proud that my photo of the Salt Cellar features additionally on the cover.

The books are on sale now at Amazon and Long Valley Books

Across the sea to Ireland
04th September 2014
Having just begun to see the Heather turn now (so long for another year) I think I've managed a few more photographs this year compared with 2013. This included a couple of visits to new locations for me, Win Hill and West Nab, which proved to be rewarding trips.

The next photography milestone that mother nature sends our way is the Autumn colours, which is another great time to be out taking pictures.

However, after some dithering on my part I've decided to head over to the Northen Ireland coastline for a break. As usual, I need to do some reading around the area but I'd like to have a look at those little known spots such as the Giants Causeway and the Dark Hedges. I don't think they've been photographed before.

Alright, they have been photographed by just about everybody but I'll try and give them my attempt. If its anything like my recent photos that means I have to get there with the sun in the shot and capture a starburst. I think its in the stephenpricephtography book of kung foo (sorry, book of photo rules).

We'll see how it goes.

Update: my first trip to an outdoor shop for information and maps of Northern Ireland was unsuccessful. Apparently, all of Wales is covered with maps/guides and there are maps of even smallest Scottish island (an 11 hour ferry trip from the mainland) but nothing on Northern Ireland (a relatively minor 8 hour ferry trip away). I've never noticed this before. I shall check if this discrepancy continues in other shops.
Landscape Summer Heather
05th August 2014
Now that we've got through the June and July months, which are great for family holiday but for me not a great time for photography, we've arrived at the summer heather time.

This is a time of year which I enjoy from a landscape photography point of view. The uniform blanket of green and yellow scenary is suddenly enhanced by vivid purple as the heather blooms in the Peak District and other National Parks around the UK.

Work and weather permitting, I'm going to try to make the most of the time of year to make up for a lack of really decent shots from 2013.

A 2 hour trip to Roseberry Topping was a good venture into the heather.

Why the Woolly Hat
18th July 2014
Ok - I admit it. I'm generally old fashioned and grumpy. The only reason that I buy new jeans is because my middle age spread means that my old jeans dont fit anymore (although I tell myself they shrink in the wash).

But, why of why, do I keep seeing young people (anybody under 35 in my book) wearing woolly hats in July. Mid July, mid summer. Its 24C outside for goodness sake. I just dont get it. What happens in winter to these youngsters? Do they wear more woolly hats or will it be fashionble by December to wear pirate hats. I do hope so as that would cheer up up on a winters day day.

Don't start me on summer fashion. Flip Flops. For men. Who was the first British lad to decide 'you know what, these items of beach wear are perfect for a walk down the high street'. Why stop there. Swimming costumes are beach wear and surely those skimpy speedos would keep you cool on the bus.

At least I'm not seeing underpant hanging out of the back of trousers as much these days. How on earth was it comfortable to have the crotch of your trousers round your knees. I've no idea.

Kids eh.

And another thing ....
16-35mm Lens Change
13th July 2014
I've traded in my Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II lens for the newer 16-35mm f4 version which is a tad lighter and should be a sharper lens as well.

There is a good article here http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-16-35mm-f-4-L-IS-USM-Lens.aspx

Interesting to note the comparison of focal lengths (16mm wide angle to 35mm) if you're not familiar with full frame cameras and using wide angles lenses. I like the wideness of the 16mm for landscapes as it really helps with getting in as much of the scene as possible.

It takes practice to use as it tends to exaggerate any empty space in the frame and distort vertical lines if camera is tilted, but if used carefully these wide angle lenses have an important part to play in landscape photography.

As I like to shoot into the sun at the moment, the new lens will produce 18 star points instead of 14 from the f2.8. I'm hoping this isn't an overkill of the star burst effect, but if flare and colour fringing is less then overall it should be a better lens to use.
Stock Photos
27th June 2014
Actually photos of Stock Cars and Banger Racing was what I was going to write about - I've given up on stock photos. My road to fortune doth not lie through stock photos.

In mid June I headed down to the Buxton Raceway circuit at the edge of the Peak District National Park - http://www.buxtonraceway.com/. Having spotted it the week before I thought it might make a good location for photographs and an interesting way to spend the afternoon, it didn't let me down.

We were treated to some good racing on the tarmac oval on what turned out to be one of the hottest afternoons in June.

I was impressed by the organisation and the rapid turn over of races in the all classes, which ranged from the Junior 10-16 year olds in their 1.3 lts cars, up to the big bangers with their 3 lts race engines. We had about 17 races in the afternoon, pretty good going.

The racing was tight, nose to bumper stuff but very fair. It put a lie to my preconception that it was just an excuse to smash cars up. Much more interesting than Formula 1 from a spectator point of view.

It took my camera along and snapped away until I needed to rest my arms. As a result I missed the best full roll over crash which I'm pleased to say, resulted in no driver injuries. Just goes to show, you need that camera out at all times.

Enjoyed the day racing and I'll definately head back there at some point.



Logo or NoGo
12th June 2014
Since I started my website for landscape photography, I've always wondered whether I should have a snappy logo.

Generally this thought process is hampered by my incredible inability to think of anything artistic (being an engineer).

Engineering generally involves thinking about things that go in straight lines. We leave all the curvy, interesting bits and ideas to Architects. And then we try and turn them into some resemblance of straight lines so we can build their masterpieces. I do roads. It couldn’t be much straight line than that.

So as long as my Logo could look that the M1 or the B1138 to Lincoln, I'll be fine.

In the meantime I'll keep on using my NoGo until I have a brainwave, or at least find someone who can draw a brainwave properly for me.


__LOGO__________________
____ StephenPricePhotography
Millennium Bridge Commended
25th May 2014
I enter a few photos into the competitions on www.photocrowd.com and I'm pleased that my Millennium Bridge photo was Commended and in the top 25 of the Expert Choices from the 613 entries. This is on the River Clyde in Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

https://www.photocrowd.com/c/61-bridges-crossings

If you look, I'm in there near the end.

The Expert Review was kind enough to say that out of all the Millennium Bridge entries this shot "stood out for me for a number of reasons. (I) liked the nice contrast of colour temperatures between the warmer bridge lights and the sky with its reflection in the water."

If only I hadn't left the pesky building on the left hand side, it "may have made it into the Top 10". So near, yet so far.



Saved in Photos of Architecture
The Week that Was.
22nd May 2014
I've popped out for a few photo trips since my visit to Pembrokeshire but I've been having a funny week.

I booked a hair appointment at a Rastafarian barbers by mistake. I'm dreading it.

For some reason the man in the butchers bet me that I couldn't reach the meat on the top shelf. I didn’t take the bet. The steaks were too high.

People have been saying I'm paranoid. Well they don’t say it, but I know that's what they're thinking.

My friends 7 year old is off to Scotland. He asked me if he would see any men wearing quilts.

Goodbye and Goodnight. I'm here all week.
Pembrokeshire Report
29th April 2014
I braved the Bank Holiday traffic and naively got caught up in many queues on the way from Yorkshire to Fishguard. I tend to forget that there are people in the outside world doing the same thing I'm doing. Taking landscapes at 6am is generally a solitary affair.

My hotel in Fishguard was the Cartref which I admit wasnt the most expensive. I work on the theory that I'm out most of the day anyway. First impressions of reception were that the place was a cross between a jumble sale from the 1950's and a hoarders paradise. I got slightly more worried when the landlady needed WD40 to make my room key work in the lock. I had visions of locking my camera gear in the room forever. I bought some WD40 myself. Just to be on the safe side.

On balance I kind of warmed to the place. Despite its fading glory, the room was clean and had all the cons (not exactly mod-cons although the shower was new and worked well) and to be honest they served the best tasting sausage I've had with breakfast.

The weather was the kind your mum would say was very nice, all warm with hazy, white blue skies. I wasnt really rewarded with great sunrises or sunsets but I made two early starts to catch the sunrises anyway.

I didnt realise that the coastal paths that I'd decided to have a look at, actually run round the tops of the beaches and coves. There were pretty big cliffs between me and the beaches and even I'm not brave (or daft enough) to try climbing down them. This limits my options until I learn to fly a helicopter.

The Green Bridge of Wales was a good example and I glad I made the effort to see the sunrise behind it. Most the the Pembrokeshire coast points west and isn't great for sunrise. Should have realised that before I went.

The drizzle started on Sunday which was reason to head home a day early to recover and to miss yet more Bank Holiday traffic.

A tiring few days and I think that maybe next time I need a trip to Wales again, I'll head further south.