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 Eyjafjallaj√∂kull 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 ..

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paint it Black

"The only time you find anything blacker is when you shake off your mortal coil"

Chas Wethered - Artist, Potter, Caver, Jazz Lover, Morris man, Gentleman - recorded in the ISSA Radio4 programme Paint it Black in 2002 when he was aged 62 and still caving after his quintuple Heart bypass 

Keep on caving Chas ... I Hope it's black enough for you

Chas’s died on Monday 24th January. He had just bought a large supply of snuff in the Bath snuff shop and stopped off to sink a couple of pints in the Apple Tree before returning to his local in Axbridge for a couple more.

Everything to Excess!
Robin Gray

His wish to die in a real ale pub with a pint in his hand came true.. it was just a pity he was just at the top of his first pint

There is a follow-up to this post Here

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not Caving - Mostly

We went across to Mendip this weekend to visit some of our close friends in the the ISSA cave art group for their AGM meet.

As we left wales I had a sudden realization.. I had left my caving camera at home

Well at least I still had my above ground equipment with me so I could concentrate on taking pictures in the sunshine OK. Plan B looked inviting until just as we arrived in the Mendip area the clouds rolled in, it started to rain and and plan B looked a little less inviting as well

Nothing ventured as they say and we headed off to a secret location to see the site of one of the cave digs and maybe even take part. I got roped in literally as my rope and ladder were sequestered into the cause to make the diggers safe, but I (not reluctantly) stuck to the above ground support role with my camera

So I kept myself entertained with some of the excellent views you can find in a small Mendip woodland

Somewhere deep in the depths of the wood lurks an as-yet unknown to science new type of tree crawler. Well that's at least what it looked like to me when I first saw this leaf frozen to the branch of the tree.

Deep in the woodlands you find other unusual things and this is a lesser spotted Meg wandering around at the back of this picture. I have kept the depth of field short to protect the innocent

 Also with a close depth of field is a close up of the old winding gear of a cavers winch used when excavating into the bed of a stream to find out where the water was going to. It's now a bit beyond its productive life, but forms an interesting unusual feature on this nature reserve walk

I'd like to thanks Robin and Barry for arranging an excellent weekend and in particular for showing me the delights of East Twin Swallet and the major engineering works that have been done by the local cavers in trying to explore more of this cave. In particular the link to Spar Pot which has the most incredible fossils on-show and is a place I really need to go back to WITH my caving camera

Friday, January 21, 2011

Homeward Bound

One of the nice things about My Tree is that it's got a wonderful view back towards home so whichever way you turn there is a picture

Snow shots are often criticised for being somewhat grey so I don't know what the purists will think of my orange snow, but this was the view a few minutes after the last shot in the My Tree section. I used a fairly small aperture (f16) because I wanted a good depth of field on this picture, and +0.7 ev (exposure variance) to keep the snow bright even thought I was shooting into the sun. 

Clearly a couple of blown highlights in the sun and one at the bottom, in the reflection, but I'm going to not worry too much I'm not a pixel peeper

The long and winding road is the way home. it's about 2 miles and along the way there are many fine pictures to be seen. This one is a little closer to home I've only about a mile to go before I will be warm...

or so it seems because this was actually a few days before and I was going in the other direction and had to shelter in the pub when the blizzard landed ....

At least that's my excuse.

In this picture I opened up the aperture to F8 which is a good compromise in terms of depth of field and still being bright enough for a reasonable shutter speed. Once again +0.7 ev because it's predominantly a white scene 

Using exposure variance in this way is important in pictures that are dominated by Bright or dark because scenes because your camera will try to adjust to an average  

We DID make it home eventually...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Tree

A couple of years ago I was persuaded to go to our local real ale establishment by my dear wife (she's always referred to as such when she drags me to beer)

Sitting outside in the beer garden we were treated to a wonderful sunset and enjoyed the last of our drinks as the sun slid down behind the church.

It was a little cold so we headed off and, to our delight as we got onto the top road and had a better view the sky turned a deep rich orange colour and the views were spectacular.

I knew that I needed to find a spot to take pictures and I needed to find it fast so we headed quickly to a place where I had stopped to take a shot of a tree in a field about a year previously

I was not disappointed

Tree in a fiery Sky
As the darkness drew in the fire did not abate and I settled in to enjoy the view but it got harder t take pictures this is handheld at 1/15th

Up Close and Personal with my tree in the dark

Since then I have been back in the sun and I've enjoyed a number of visits to "My Tree"

My Tree enjoying some sunshine
 I've been there in the snow as well ...
In the Snow
So why sound so possessive.

Well on walking around a local Christmas market I came upon a picture of a tree I recognized. It's not this one it's the one in the field across the road from it. I've since found another local photographer to takes pictures of that tree as well .. and I have to admit so do I, but until now I've not seen another picture of "My Tree" so I'm claiming it.

I have no rights to it I understand and I quite expect that there has been someone out there recently eyeing it up and event taking some quite excellent pictures of it, but when I'm there and I'm the one enjoying the view I like to think I've found a little somewhere special of my own .

I'm sure someone will prove me wrong

I'm also sure I've not yet recaptured the majesty of that first night - I will need to try harder

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to abuse camera kit

As you can see in this picture I take my cameras underground. This picture is taken in Dinas Silica Mines in South Wales.

The picture is taken with my E-500 and the kit 14-42mm lens with the camera on a tripod and the lighting coming from a Scurion caving light which was being worn by my friend and fellow caver photographer Andy Morse. 

The object in the near ground is my camera bag in which you can see my E-30 sticking out with a flash trigger unit on the top. This level of protection is only possible because the mines are fairly easily accessible and you do not need to get muddy. Even so everything I took with me needed a very good cleaning before I used it again

Main Passage Dinas Silica Mines, Wales, UK

Geological Note

The Dinas Silica Mines are famous worldwide because ot the quality of firebricks created from this rock in the local brickworks

More pictures from this trip and an explanation of the geology and history of the site are available on my website at

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not my Picture of the Year 2010

I am currently running the Picture of the Year 2010 competition over on the Olympus e-Group

for that people enter their top 3 pictures and we have a blind voting system and elect a winner who has the great prize of being named as such on the forum

To prepare to enter you of course need to go though what you have taken in 2010 and pick some favorites so its a great opportunity for reflection

As it's a blind vote even the organizer can enter so as the competition is still running I'm not going to discuss my entries. What I will do as it's a great way to get this blog going is show some of the pictures I considered and rejected and explain why.

My number 4 picture was this one which is a Herald Moth taken at Charterhouse, Somerset

Herald Moth, Charterhouse, Somerset

These moths hibernate over winter and this one taken in February would be coming near to the end of it's hibernation. The moth was in an overhang in old mine workings in a section that could just about be classified as underground and was taken with my Olympus E-30, 50mm Macro Lens and an FL-20 flashgun which is a great little gun for close up work. The Flash was off camera on an CB-05 cable which is why you can see a reasonable amount of shadow on the picture

The 50mm is not true macro, but an incredibly sharp lens and really usable as you are not too close to your subject

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Welcome to the new Shenstone Photoblog

I have to admit that I sometimes find it hard to keep the website ( up to date and I hope that this will fill in some missing gaps and allow me to tell you about my latest gadgets when I get them and hopefully some useful information on the kit I use.

Pictures will always be over there in galleries, but a few over here where I can focus on a single image and share what I like about it or how it was done


The Shenstone Logo from