Latest News

Summer Heather
24th August 2013
I've been conscious that the Peak District heather is looking very nice as it reaches full bloom and that I ought to try and capture it when I can at the moment.

The combination of late working and mother nature giving us rain and clouds (it is a British summer after all) has meant there haven't been to many chances to venture out. Of course, its a Bank Holiday weekend as well, so that more or less guarantees a wash out but I'll hopefully have a few trips out still to come.

I'll be posting shots in Latest Work
North to Sutherland
09th August 2013
I've decided a trip and a break from work is in order so I've booked on a trip to Sutherland. This is north of Inverness and it looks like wild landscapes and coastlines.

Lets hope the weather is kind and the views are great.

After considering the itinerary I've decided to catch the train to Inverness which starts off as exactly the same train I catch to Leeds in the morning. I was hoping to avoid work but at least I'll be 'holiday' Steve and not 'commuter' Steve. It’s a late finish at the end of the week so I’ve plumped for an extra night in Inverness. A hotel and some whiskey to round off the week will be nice.
A Very Dirty Story
06th August 2013 the shopkeeper replies "Ping-pong balls? I thought you said 'King Kong's balls!'"

Anyway, not that kind of story.

Looks like my attempts at blowing out (so to speak) the inside of my camera have resulted in an absolute field of dust and grime ending up on the sensor. Maybe it's the mirror lubricant (what going on here!) that's got sprayed around.

I hope it comes across on the picture below.

Looks like I'm going to have to invest in some sensor swaps and have a go at sensor cleaning. Until then, I'm pretty stuck as there is no way I can clone out that amount of spots. Wish me luck.

Update: I bought Sensor Swab and Eclipse Fluid which was a tad expensive for 12 cleaning swabs. They're a bit like small paddles. After using 5 of them I was pretty happy with the result so I can confirm that the DIY route worked OK for me.
ICE Local Cover Photo
30th July 2013
The local branch of the Institution of Civil Engineers used my photo of the Humber Bridge for the cover of the July Edition of Yorkshire and Humber ICE Local newsletter (I'm a Highways Engineer by day, daredevil crime fighter by night).
Gitzo Grumble - Updated (Again!)
16th July 2013
Up until recently I've been pleased with my Gitzo tripod but I have to say I'm somewhat disgruntled now.

I've had the legs about 18 months - but in the last three weeks, 2 of the metal castings where the carbon fibre leg section meets with the tripod head have cracked. I'm not exactly using the legs as a hammer or anything so this is a major annoyance given the price of the legs in the first place.

So at a cost of £130 I have replaced one leg section (not the whole leg - this is the most expensive section but there are 4 sections to a leg!). Given it's likely that the third leg will also break thats a total of £390 in repairs.

I'm really going to have to look at options for tripods and I'm not sure Gitzo will be at the top of my list anymore.

Buy a good tripod they say - it'll last longer than any camera upgrades. Not with Gitzo it appears.

Update: After pondering the options I've decided that there isnt really an alternative tripod I'm happy with. Really Right Stuff are recommended but even more expensive.
I plumped for an updated model, the 3542XLS. Interesting, Gltzo seemed to have beefed up the magnesium collars where the legs join the head, which was the part that broke (twice) on my old tripod.

I should get round to sending my old tripod back to Gitzo for them to look at.

Update 2: 19/9/13

Having had my new 3542XLS for 4 weeks, I finally had a requirement in Scotland to extend the last lower leg section, only to find the quick release twist lock was completely 'welded' tight. No amount of cursing and turning would see the thing budge at all. I can only summerise that the joint has been overtightended at the factory. Very frustrating. Back to the shop for me.

Update 23/9/13

Harrisons Cameras in Sheffield were very good in replacing the leg for me so thank you for that guys.

Update 30/9/10

Another trip out to the coast and shooting on a sandy beach which has been fine before with my old Gitzo tripod. Guess what, the leg almost refused to open afterwards for a second time. I think there is a design flaw that makes the leg joint really suseptable to sand grains getting stuck in the threads - maybe the tolerances are too fine. I would advise therefore opening the bottom leg and making sure that the joint is kept well clear of the sand - dont shove the joint down into the sand. Wash the sand off straight away.
Struggling With Summer
08th July 2013
If I have a favourite time of year for photography then I think Summer is low down on my list. Ok, to be honest it's at the bottom of my list. Sorry Summer.

I think that there are several factors in my lowly ranking of summer photography. I guess these include the very early sunrise times, the dry conditions giving rise to fewer clouds and mists plus the uniformity of the green landscapes.

In my top four of seasons I would say the first place goes to Autumn, then Winter, Spring and Summer.

At the moment we have a mini heatwave and I seem to have turned into Homer Simpson with his habit of sitting on the sofa in his underpants with the fridge door open to cool down. Which is also not a great sight for photography.
Bank Holiday Weekend in The Lakes
27th May 2013
A had a last minute weekend trip to the Lake District which I didn't necessarily appreciate coincided with the kids being off on holiday as well.

An interesting weekend and here are my top thoughts.

1. Don't get a hotel room with the fire door and fire escape route right through the middle of your room (thank you Queens Hotel, Keswick). This makes for very a interesting experience at 2am when the fire alarm goes off.

2. The morning sun lights up the trees at Buttermere at 7am this time of year - don't arrive at 4.45am.

3. Don't ever, ever drive up and down Hardknott pass. Worst 'road' ever. Bank holiday traffic makes it twice the fun*

*I believe this road was actually formed by the Devil himself farting a thin strip of tarmac from his rear end and declaring 'There Mortals! I have created a road which I condemn you to use - behold my Wrath and suffer my Hell on Earth!'

4. Don't expect to park anywhere in the Lakes on Bank Holiday weekend. Except maybe in the Lake.

5. Don't expect the God of Sunrises to appear just because you took the trouble to get up early. This Gods activities are spectacular but sadly, a rare thing. Like a Sheffield United home win.

Post Blog Update: The Fire Brigade inspected the Queens Hotel and advised them it was inappropriate to combine the fire escape with a bedroom (you don't say) and the room is no longer in use.
New Look
25th May 2013
My favourite web site, Flickr, has undergone a revamp which I'm not sure about.

However, one of the feedback comments was that the black backgrounds which they introduced weren't easy on the eye for some people.

I guess you don't see many art galleries with black walls so I've had a think and changed my page colours.

I'll see how it feels - if anyone's got any thoughts, please drop me a line Contact
Trip to Brighton. Not that one.
19th May 2013
A had some time after work and the local weather forecast wasn't great so I headed off to New Brighton on the Wirral, Merseyside to have a look again at Perch Rock lighthouse. The tide tables said it would be low tide which reveals some rock and sand formations which can be used as foreground interest.

When I arrived there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the haze meant the sky wasn't even a deep blue colour. Thanks to my lack of interest in all things TV related these days (I'm a Celebrity Cooking on Ice - no thanks) I decided to hang around to see if anything developed.

Glad I did because the setting sun lit up the sky and I had a mad dash along the beach as the colours changed from blues, to oranges, to reds/lilac and finally deep blue after dark.

Located in Photographs of the Coast
Same Place - Different Times
28th April 2013
I thought it might be interesting to show the affect of time after sunset on lighting, colours, exposure etc. Sunset here was around 2015hrs and I love taking shots round this time. There is a lot of natural colours (the so called 'blue hour') and a lot of scope for creativity with the long exposures. The challenge is not over exposing the brighter lights against the darker backgrounds.

Top Left: 2005hrs (10 minutes before sunset)
Top Right: 2050hrs
Bottom Left: 2105hrs
Bottom Right: 2115hrs (one hour after sunset).

New Panoramic Head
08th April 2013
I've ordered a new panoramic head to add to my kit bag.

Its a Benro PCO Panoramic Head from who provide a good range of camera equipment.

I'm hoping the head will prove less time consuming to set up as I won't have to laboriously level the tripod itself using the legs, which can prove hard work on steep slopes. There should also be less 'distortion' of the overlapping set of images which get stitched together in post processing, so hopefully I'll capture all of the scene and not cut off any of the important foreground elements.

We'll see how it performs when it arrives and I get a chance to field test it.
Updated: Changed 'About' Photograph
10th March 2013
I've swopped by About page photograph for one my Dad took a few weeks ago on Carhead Rocks in the Peak District with his Nikon D3100.

See my About page for larger version

Update: New photo taken in Slovenia October 2013 - many thanks to Keith, who was on the same workshop.

Devon Knows I Need a Holiday
07th March 2013
I'm researching photographic locations at the moment for a week in Devon.

Its the early stages of planning so I've got 'Dartmoor', 'Exmoor' and 'The Coast' on my at the moment.

I can't help but think that I ought to narrow the field down at bit.

Still, the break will be a very welcome one.

Post holiday update - the unseasonable cold snap at the end of March gave me very grey skies for the whole week which meant they were very few photo opportunities :-(
Blue Hour winter blues
10th February 2013
Since a very productive period in early January the winter weather has been very varies and hasn't played its part in landscape photography.

I've been struck that, apart from periods of heavy snow, the weather has been very mild.

I would have expected cold, white, frosty mornings with ice for some great landscape interest but my weekends have been somewhat damp and dull for a few weeks.

To change the subject to shoot the weather, I've been out to photograph after sunset, when the dullness and clouds of the day can actually help with the 'blue hour' compositions after dark.

This is the period of twilight just before dawn and after sunset where the light has a very special quality and looks very photogenic.

Timing is important as the is only a relativity small time period where the artificial lighting is balanced by the ambient natural light which brings out all the details in all areas. Leave it to late and the long exposure 'burns' out all the highlights and sky becomes to dark to retain any interesting cloud features and colouring.
Interview in Hope Valley Online
04th February 2013
Esther at Hope Valley Online has been kind enough to feature me for an interview on the Hope Valley web site - link below:

I've added to my links page, please feel free to drop by and check out their page.
First Stock Photo Sales
19th January 2013
I sold my first stock photographs yesterday, which I'm pleased about.

At this rate I shall be able to retire in 375 years. I wonder if we'll have hover cars by then.

Landscape Posters for Sale
05th January 2013
I've added a new section Landscape Posters in the menu bar above to provide A2 landscape posters for sale.

I hope you'll like these and that they will prove a welcome addition to wall space in your home.
New Years Day 2013
05th January 2013
New Years Day 1st January 2013 and I made an early start to Boggle Hole, near Robins Hoods Bay on the Yorkshire coast. After a disappointing amount of dull weather over the Christmas break there was an opportunity to catch the sun rising over the coast.

I made a 5am start and after a trip on the almost empty motorway I was rewarded with an deserted beach and some very pleasant sunshine.

Latest Work

Back from Northumberland
17th December 2012
Now that I've been back from Northumberland for a few days I've been able to post some shots in Latest Work

An interesting and challenging workshop which took in some varied locations such as Hadrians Wall, Gateshead, Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Berwick and even a trip across the border to photograph Waxwings (which unobliging didn't put in an appearance).

It certainly showed me where I have some gaps in my equipment and pushed some parts to destruction - one boot, one wader, one remote release and, at one time, one camera body all fell victim to the punishing conditions. I'm glad to say that my camera recovered once the rain water had dried.

I picked up a lot and think I'll go back there in the future.

A wonderful part of the country and well worth a visit.
Back from the Tatras
04th November 2012
My trip to the Tatras Mountains in Slovakia with Adam Burton was greeted with an unseasonable cold snap and snow falls causing delays on the roads. I thought that just happened in Sheffield. The wintery conditions were a month early and the first snow fall in October for about 25 years. It was certainly chilly.

The holiday started off on the wrong foot as we'd been given the wrong booking reference by Tatra Photography. I did wonder whether I'd get on the flight. All was well after some discussion with the check-in clerk.

After landing a Cracow in Poland the Slovakian border was easy to spot as the Slovaks didn't grit the roads as they were in the National Park.

Day 1 was an early 0500 hrs start at minus 8 degrees for a trip to Strbske Pleso Lake. The fog prevented any sunlight but gave some superbly atmospheric conditions for the pines covered in snow and ice. We then changed locations, via a woodland walk, to another lake at Popradske Pleso. A brief burst of afternoon sunlight soon gave way to biting wind and colder temperatures. I did enjoy the snowy conditions but 3 pairs of socks would have gone down well instead of just two.

Day 2 started again at Popradske Pleso in similar conditions. Nature gave us an almost perfect monochromatic landscape - very interesting indeed. Finally, the sun came out back at Strbske Pleso Lake which added for some warmth to the snow and the mountains and some different conditions yet again.

After a hectic and tiring break I would recommend a workshop with Adam Burton and for mountain scenery, the Tatras region is definitely worth a visit.
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