Saturday, December 3, 2011

Funny Signs

Spotted on a street in Sicily 

 Looks like no wandering around in your pants eaither 

And from Australia 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Etna Escapades

 Who would live on Etna ?

Plenty of people work there as you can tell from the visitor centre at th eleft of this picture. In fact there are a few more buildings out of site in the middle ground

I wonder how long until they look like this ...

Even with a bit of sunshine it doesn't look much better 

The tour up and down again is spectactular with all the lava flows. it's just a pity that there is no signage to tell you anything about them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Old St Mellons Fete 2011

I only had a few minutes to pop over to the village fete this year and decided to take a long rather than standard lens. This means you can be unobtrusive and get some interesting pictures rather than just crowd shots.

So here are a selection from the day.

1. WHY have they given me a spoon to eat this Ice Cream ?

2. Careful !

 3. I CAN have a manly conversation whilst holding onto a pink balloon animal - Honest!

4. Who are you looking at ?

And my favorite...

5. I AM going to eat this hot dog even if it's nearly as big as I am !

It was a nice day and it was really good to see people out enjoying themselves

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

I've been neglecting this blog for the last few months because I've been working so hard on my other projects and at work, but I hope to find more time from now on for the rest of the summer (ha ha) to be back here

So it's about time I posted dome summer views and her's one I took on a recelt walk in th esunshine

I know I was walkin gin the sunshine because it was hot, but it stopped being so sunny and I took off my sunglasses and put them down somewhere, and that's why there are a pair of sunglasses littering the countryside because I forgot to pick them up again

Just on the switch between the two states, I took this picture. The skies were wonderfully threatening and much more dramatic than the blue skies that we'd had earlier

Hardly any adjustments to that picture, simply point, shoot, process, upload

When the scenery is that good who needs more

Friday, June 3, 2011

Grassfire in Old St Mellons

On the way home tonight we saw smoke streaming from a field near the houses in the area where we live

On close inspection it turned out to be a grass fire in a field started apparently by 2 local youths seen throwing what looked like a cigarette into the field

We stopped and phoned the fire brigade and then I started taking pictures (see social responsibility comes first ! )

Here's a selection

The view that greeted us

Fire Brigade on the scene and rolling out hoses

Putting it out

Damping down

I should have cropped that foot out !

All I can say is thank goodness we have these guys as well as the idiots in the world!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chocolate Box Photography

There are very many superbly artistic photographers out there

I don't count myself amongst them

However what I do think I can do is appreciate a nice view

Like Castel Coch in Tongwynlais near Cardiff where I live

It's a place I know well. it should be... I got married there

And yet when I look through my photographs there was hardly a picture of the place in the collection

Thankfully this has now been rectified in part, but it;s also left me realising that I need to do more. I had a walk I was leading in the area so rushed off to check the paths were OK before the day and realised I was there, the light was nice and I had seconds with one lens and a few seconds before a hoard of people walked into the shot

So here's my chocolate box view of Castel Coch and I think I could see it adorning many a suitable box of local delights..

Now I just need to sell the idea to someone :-)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What you can get away with

On a recent event in Dan yr Ogof (Wales Premier show cave) I was asked to take some pictures and record the event

However as I was also organizer, part event leader, rounder upper of people and general dogsbody as well I found the whole timing aspect quite a challenge

Suffice to say that I rapidly decided that setting up tripods and even using creative flash was out of the question as there were too many people doing too many other things

So I went for the click and prey approach to taking pictures and it's amazing what you can get away with in Digital

Take these for instance

These are both taken on the E-30 with the 14-54 lens and they are taken hand held, no tripod, and using the show cave lighting which was only on for a short period of time as we went through ( the caves were not open yet for the season). ISO 800 and F2.8

OK I'm not going to win any competitions with them and they are to be honest not pin sharp when you look at them full sized on a good screen, but a few years ago I would not have considered taking such pictures. Even when I stated with the e-Series my E-500 was not up to these type of pictures and I would have had to do noise reduction, but these are straight out of the camera, resized and posted.

As I say - an example of what you can get away with

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Tree in Spring

In an earlier post I claimed a tree

I can't keep away .. it keeps calling and last night I caught it with the dun in the perfect position for some sunset silhouette pictures

In taking these type of pictures I admit to being entirely in my comfort zone because it's almost impossible to mess them up and only very limited skills and technique are needed

Take this for example

Stand in such a position that the sun is behind the tree.. it makes a nice silhouette and puts a glow around the tree.

Compose a picture on the basic rule of thirds (most interesting object 1/3 in and 1/3 up from the bottom)

Wait for the cloud to move far enough to not mess up the nice glowing area

Press click

OK so maybe that's too much cloud in the picture ...

Stand still for another 2 minutes

Press click

Well that may be a bit too much tree for some...

zoom out

Press click

Too dark?

Zoom in so a bit less bright sky shows and the camera picks up only the lighter part of the sky

I admit that I feel in my comfort zone taking these type of pictures

Some people have wonderful artistic vision and can see the unusual in any scene. I'm not one of them, but I think I can appreciate a nice view when I see one and if no-one else likes them at least I can say that I enjoyed the 20 minutes I spent standing in the sunshine appreciating the beauty of the skies

Monday, May 9, 2011


A While ago I posted one of my personal favorite imaged I took last year down on the banks of the River Severn at Goldcliff, near Newport South Wales

That prompted me to think that I have never put a selection of the pictures I have from this fine piece of coast on the website so I have finally made a start on doing just that and I have created a new gallery on my website of pictures from the banks of the River Severn

It's never that clear to me what I should think of as banks of the River Severn. Clearly when you can see right across to the English side it's still a river, but it's also tidal and therefore an estuary rather than strictly being a river.

Recently I see a lot of definitions stating that the River ends at the Second Severn Crossing Bridge, but it must have had a start and end before that bridge was built.

The next section is called the Severn Estuary which take us The Severn Estuary is said to extend to a line from Lavernock Point (south of Cardiff) to Sand Point near Weston-super-Mare. so I think I can still call those pictures Severnside (which is a good job as the one above is taken in that section.

Then we come to the section which is referred to as the Bristol Channel which in my mind is a very strange name for the section which is increasingly further from Bristol so what do I call pictures like this from Southerndown?

Luckily the old name for the Bristol Channel was the Severn Sea and in welsh it is still named: Môr Hafren, meaning 'Severn Sea' so I think it's quite reasonable for me to put those in the Severnside section as well when I get a minute

As to Pictures of Tenby, well these are also contained within the strict definition of the Severn Sea as I will call it, but for me these deserve a section all of their own

Friday, April 29, 2011

Working a Sunset

Spring and autumn are sunsets time

My Mrs took me out last night to where she has her riding lessons. That side of the hill was in shadow, so I drove around to Eglwysilan where people from the Universal Colliery disaster are buried.

Round on that side of the hill I found a really hazy sunset looking out over the Taf Valley so I found a quiet corner to sit and enjoy it

The spot I really wanted was spoiled with a farmer working and kicking up a big dust cloud that I found too hard to work with so I headed further North.

At first the skies were quite light and there were some interesting variations and the sun was still fairly high so it wasn't in the pictiures

As the sun went further down it needed to come into the picture and the colours got more intense which made it harder to get any subtlety into the pictures, but the colours were really enjoyable

And finishing with some really intense reds

I have not adjusted the colours in these pictures, just increased the contrast with a very minor adjustment.

The trick to get the intensity of colours was to shoot into the light and let the camera decide to darken the sky.

These are all taken with the 50-200 handheld, but with the aid of a fencepost for stability

Pictures Need Frames

It's nice when the location kindly provides you with one

This is St Teilio's church in the National Museum of Wales

The building was originally situated outside Pontarddulais, near Swansea, and built in stages, from around 1100 to 1520. and was moved to the Museum over abour 20 years. During the deconstruction process the museum staff found the church had medevial  wall painings beneath the puritan whitewash finish we see in so many churches these days

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rust in Peace

Not much pure camera time recently, but in amongst the work that I'm doing I do find the odd picture opportunity

Here are our 2 rust buckets on the drive

The plan is that within the next year both of these will get a rebuild

This was taken on my E-500 with the built in flash lighting the Foreground and the Mini lit by a cloudy welsh sky.

I use my E-500 for inhospitable places these days as it's my older camera and it's theoretically less valuable

However as you can see with the kit 14-42 and a built in flash it still gives pretty good results

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Life at Full Gallop

A while ago I did a commercial style shoot for some friends who have a trekking school in the Brecon Beacons and in doing it I gained a new found respect for the people who photograph horse racing because keeping them in frame when they are moving at full speed is incredibly hard

The lessons I learned on that day were: -
  1. Use a long lens so you can stand well back 
  2. Give your self plenty of time to prepare and get ready for it
For these pictures I ignored both of these pieces of advice as I had literally seconds to take this picture, I was too close and unprepared. I had lined myself up for a picture of some seagulls and was aware of them becoming unsettled and then I realised the sound in my left ear was getting closer VERY fast

I simply did not react fast enough to get the "riding into the picture shot" so mid picture was as good as I got.

 More true to rules of thirds, is the "riding out of picture" shot.

My opinion on just how fast these things move has not changed in this experience

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Land Rover Katy

I can't resist a plug here for my new on-line presence

I think this one if going to be a long and expensive journey back to pristine condition and probably quite a few picture opportunities along the way

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In a Happy Place

Feeling in a completely different mood to my recent post on Being in a Dark Place  I can relate on how spent a happy afternoon in Axbridge recently. Not actually a happy occasion as reported in Paint it Black, but with people who shared interests and backgrounds, especially the aspect of liking our dear departed friend Chas Weathered

I had a wonderful afternoon and evening the one thing I can easily say is that the only Boring thing was the old museum building and that only in terms of the woodwork so my first picture is entitled ...

A Boring Landscape

After the ceremony we were entertained by some of Chas's old friends... non looking older than the Morris Men

Love me... Love my Hat 

Who despite many a grey hair between them could still manage a sprightly dance.. please note close proximity to the nearest available watering hole...

A flock of handkerchiefs

As I understand it's a legal requirement for Morris men to drink real Ale.. So how could I do otherwise

I'm sure Chas would have been happy I made it this far in my pint

Getting there


Monday, February 14, 2011

In a Dark Place

I've found some images to show my mood tonight

All of this may seem over dramatic and I'm sure it is, but just sometimes when the day has been too much I like to hide myself away and try and find a positive spin on what has got me to this point. So here's my day in three pictures

In a dark place ... spinning around

So the Question I ask myself is...

And the answer is ...

And I'm one of them... Work has been manic I've been spinning all day and it's not stopped when I got home with emails and phone calls demanding more of  me than I feel I can give.

The final thought however is that there has been someone at the door of my den who cares for me and loves me despite my mood and my rants ... maybe I should just lighten up for her !

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trip to the Red Light District

Sorting out some of the files on my laptop I came across this again. A few years ago I booked onto an Art Photography course at the local university. I think that I need to do much more portrait work to get comfortable, but the most important feature is to find good models, which is one of the reasons I went on the course. 

Actually the teaching on the course wasn't up to much, but this young lady was a superb model and I wish I'd had more time to work with her.

After the portrait work I took an interest in the light itself and got comfortable as I really got into my element ;-).  

These were both taken with my Olympus e-510 camera using the 40-150mk II kit lens on ISO 1600 handheld as there was a lot of movement in the studio with more than one model. I used -1ev to keep the blacks dark and have increased contrast in post processing to get the clean final look I wanted

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Going Undergrond for the Winter or coming out After a Hot Summer Ready for Love

It's late night ( well early morning ) and I've been working on a presentation for the 2011 BCRA Cave Science symposium which we're hosting in Cardiff University in March.

In doing that I have had a need to look through quite a few of my caving pictures and I came across these old friends 

In late August we went underground in a local cave to look at some old archaeological digs that were done by the Cardiff Naturalists Society in the 1800's Whilst there we were treated to the sight of a couple of local inhabitants that had taken up residence.

Before you get ideas of bearded hermits here are a couple of pictures of the creatures in question. 

The first is the Tissue moth (Triphosa dubitata) who overwinter in caves in order to undergo a period of diapause (suspended development).  This is apparently necessary for the successful production of viable eggs in the following year

The second is the golden caddis fly Stenophylax permistus  who stay in caves in the summer to undergo a similar period of rest or diapause.

Both of these pictures were taken in early August 2010 when the weather was still nice and autumn hadn't really set in so I guess they were both just enjoying a cool dark place for a rest like we were. They were both taken with the E-30 and 14-54mm  lens which is great for getting up close to insects if they are nice and dormant like these two were.

The pictures are both lit with a single FL-36 flash on a CB-05 extension cord to be able to put a shadow across the insect otherwise pictures like this look misty and flat because of the levels of moisture in caves. 

Another moth that does the overwintering is the Herald Moth featured in an earlier post

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning a new Lens

Back in November I was pleased to take delivery of an Olympus 7-14mm super wide angle lens

I had been able to test one at one of the Olympus e-group meetings in South Wales a few years ago, but had not been able to afford one until recently so I was really pleased to get this in perfect condition from a member of the e-group who was downsizing at a significant reduction to the list price

It's a beast of a lens with a domed front element and a real case of "mind your feet" if you point it downwards, especially in portrait mode

With poor weather and work commitments I've not had the time to play lens properly until this weekend when we went to Southerndown on the River Severn to look at the Jurassic Lias cliffs (geology note!)

I've still got some practising to do to get the hang of what levels of distortion are going to be acceptable in a picture (some is inevitable with close items and this lens) but I an happy with these as a first real use

I would have liked to be further back from the cliff for this one, but the tide was too far in

 The pebbles on the right are a little too distorted for my liking, but it's fun to be able to get down and close to the ground

Of these three this is my favourite one, in the corner where the gryphaea can be found and looking back towards the main area of cliffs

Geological Note

These cliffs are Jurassic in age. that's about 190 Million years old in this case. They are known as Lias from the German for layers and are layered limestone's and shale's which contain marine fossils telling us they were laid down under the sea Gryphaea mentioned above is a type of fossil oyster that grows in a very curved manner and is often referred to as "Devils Toe Nails" because they look like the toes of gargoyles

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Picture of the Year 2010

In an earlier post I mentioned that there was a Picture of the Year 2010 competition on the UK Olympus e-Group

At that time as voting was still open I thought it inappropriate to talk further about what I had been really happy with in 2010, but now votes are in and counted so I feel free to talk.

So my top three were

Ice plants - these were sedges crowing on Mynydd Llangynidr that I really liked when we saw them in the winter of 2010 just after new year - this wonderful day out was a superb way to start the year and getting down close and personal with these natural ice sculptures was a wonderful way to start the year. More of these Here This was taken with my E-510 with the kit 14-42 lens at the long end, it's F8 at 100 ISO


As Spring wore on I was happy to spend another wonderful day out with Rhian who I persuaded to pose for me in this picture taken on the mudflats at Goldcliff. She'd been working whilst I spent a wonderful 2 hours taking pictures of the mudflats and the fish traps.This was taken with my new (at the time) E-30 and the absolutely wonderful 11-22mm lens at f5.6 to give a reasonable, but not ulttrasharp DOF and -1.7 ev because I was shooting into the sun

 in writing this I've realised that I never put any of these in my website. I will develop a gallery for the River Severn as it's so photogenic around here

Last and by no means least is my weekend in Tenby

We had planned to be lead on a field trip by Professor Brian WIlliams, but Rhian received a phone call at work.. "Hi Rhian... I'm phoning from the Hague.." The trouble was that was the weekend of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland which is why there are no planes in the sky and I didn't need to photoshop vapour trails out of that weekend's pictures at all. It's also taken on my E-30 and once again the 11-22mm lens. Tenby is always a pleasure to visit and take pictures of as you can see Here 

P.S. if you want to make a model of the Volcano ..