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Author Topic: 24 hours on Anglesey.  (Read 5009 times)
Wayland
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« on: April 21, 2013, 05:32:55 AM »
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You know how it is when an idea starts nagging at you.

Iíve been thinking that I needed some new challenges and one that I have been looking at for a while is combining astro-photography with landscape.

One place that had impressed me with itís dark skies in the past was Anglesey with a shoot at Penmon Point sticking in my mind particularly.

So with a new camera to hand but not much free time I set out having researched a few fresh locations for a 24 hour shoot starting with dawn at Treath Dulas.

There are the hulls of couple of old fishing boats stranded on the mud of the estuary here and though I had hoped to photograph both of them, on the morning I could only gain access to the one closest to the shore.
Dawn broke slowly but with not much colour but my day started well enough with this shot.



Parys Mountain is an abandoned copper mine which did much for the prosperity of the island in the past but fell into disuse due to the falling price of metals on the World market.

I had seen footage of the place on a TV documentary and had noted it as being worth a visit on my next trip into the area.

There are a few promising ruins there but it was the extraordinary colours of the rock and spoil that caught my eye on this occasion.



Normally Iím quite clear about the format of my compositions but this shot has me stumped. I really cannot decide which I prefer, the vertical or the horizontal shot.



It seems to be a shot that divides opinions too. I have tested the image amongst friends and colleagues and the split seems pretty even.

The other thing that seems about even is the number of people that see an animal head in the rock face and those that donít.

An interesting location that I think I will most likely visit again.

Cutting across the island my next stop was Cribnau in Porth Cwyfan, best known as eglwys bach y mor (the little church in the sea).



The small 13th-century church of St Cwyfan used to stand on the mainland but was slowly cut off by land erosion resulting in the building of the protective wall around it in the nineteenth century.

There is a causeway leading to it at mid to low tide but I wanted to show itís isolation by the rising waters which seems so central to itís story.

I used to struggle to find local tidal information for locations but these days computer programs and ďappsĒ have made such information, along with astronomical and meteorological data, so much more straight forward to find. It really does make the life of a landscape photographer so much easier.

I met a local lass on the beach that was diligently picking litter from the shoreline. Much of it comes in on the waves, the product of unthinking disposal at sea and itís like is the blight of many of our beaches. Some of it is sadly left by visitors who really have no excuse for not taking it home with them.

I have to say that this was one of the tidiest beaches I have seen in a very long time and I suspect mostly due to the hard work of this unsung hero.



Three locations down and the main stop I had planned was another tidal island, Ynys Llanddwyn, just down the coast.

I had arranged to meet on the island with Matt Aspden, another talented  landscape photographer that I know from a local photographic society. He had visited the site before but it was all new to me on this trip.

My plan was to stay overnight, shooting as the conditions allowed.

The weather was supposed to be clear but cold. The wind was a little higher than I had hoped for but being on the coast you have to accept these things.

When Matt arrived he had another good friend, Mike Lawrence in tow. They were only staying until sundown but the prospects looked good for all of us. The light clouds that had been with me all day looked to be clearing nicely.



Having hiked in with a pack full of clothing to keep me warm I had to work in a fairly close area while there was still a lot of day trippers on the island but slowly they started to drift off as the light got more interesting.

Eventually it was just us and a couple of other photographers waiting for the World to turn.

More often than not, I have found landscape photographers work around other like minded people, making sure we are not in each others line of shooting.



This co-operation is usually helped by a friendly greeting and occasionally good conversation. Every now and again you come across the other type.

Usually you can tell the sort, they obstinately stand in the same spot refusing to give ground as if they own the location, scowling at others that have the temerity to want to shoot the same landmark.

Often they try to show their innate superiority by fiddling endlessly with a field camera that should only take a couple of minutes to set up.

I used cameras like that back in the days of film and chemistry. In fact I still have a couple of them buried under my desk in the darkroom that has since been converted to a ďlightroomĒ full of computers.

These days I seem to achieve far more using digital technology than my old 5x4 or medium format film cameras ever could.

Itís also a lot easier to carry around.

Seeing this type of ill humoured photographer rather amuses me these days. Personally I have made a number of good friends, both professional and amateur, from meetings in places like this so I donít really know what they expect to gain by it. Of the two other photographers present on this evening, one turned out to be a friendly chap from greater Manchester and the other, lugged his field camera off into the last light of sunset, looking like a bulldog chewing a wasp, without saying a word.



Later than that, at about the time the sun dipped below the horizon and twilight was beginning, Matt said that he would normally start packing to leave about now. I hope the pictures he got following that time will convince him to stay a bit longer in future.



The only difficulty I had was picking my way off the rocks in the dark as I had foolishly left my torch in my rucksack which was tucked behind a rock some distance away.



When Mike and Matt left I had the place all to myself and could start experimenting with the sparse light that remained long after the Sunís influence had finally waned.

Even here there was still light pollution from the mainland to the South, Holyhead to the North and a source I could not quite place out the sea.

In the end there is little you can do about it so you might as well make use of it.



The islands above were rendered entirely by the light from the stars and the light pollution and in the Milky Way shot it provided a useful splash of colour to silhouette the foreground.



Later, as the moon rose over Snowdonia I tried this shot of the beach beneath the lighthouse. Of all the shots I took overnight this is the only one that is let down by noise.

There is a slight banding in the sky that I cannot remove and sadly the shot you see here is probably the largest useful size I can get from it.



To complete my night I was treated to a lovely mellow sunrise with the last quarter moon hanging gently over the far horizon.

All in all a very productive 24 hours.
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Wayland.
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 06:06:37 AM »
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Some great shots there
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2013, 06:23:30 AM »
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Well done Gary.
I think you can say: mission accomplished!
As Bill had said:
Some great shots there

Tony Jay
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thierrylegros396
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2013, 08:05:58 AM »
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Llanddwyn-Old-Lighthouse

That one is really well done !!!

Thierry
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Justan
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2013, 08:56:51 AM »
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The one below is outstanding!

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Wayland
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 09:14:16 AM »
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Tony and Bill, thank you very much.

Thierry, I like that too but it is the "pack shot" for Llanddwyn in many ways. I've seen that viewpoint quite a few times but it's difficult to resist because it just feels like the right composition.

I was lucky with the lighting though.

Justan, I think think that's my favourite but I can't help wishing I'd set the timer and sat upon that bench contemplating the universe for a while.

It's the first shot I've done of the Milky Way and I was pleased with how it turned out. It also brought home to me how much sensors have developed in the last 7 years.
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Wayland.
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 09:19:16 AM »
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Splendid, Gary.
I like how the stars brighten as they clear the horizon.
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Wayland
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 09:36:37 AM »
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Interesting isn't it?

I sort of knew about it in theory but I'd never seen it so clearly before.
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Wayland.
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Matt Tilghman
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 10:02:25 AM »
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Lovely thoughts and images!  I must say, my favorite is not the nightscapes, but the the wandering path to the lighthouse.  All are great though.
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 01:10:27 PM »
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Love the colours in the rocks.  I prefer the landscape orientation to the portrait one for this, BUT, the dark rocks in the upper left seem more prominant/dominant in the landscape shot than the portrait.  I'm assuming they were processed slightly differently, and I prefer the processing in the second.

Mike.
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 04:18:00 PM »
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Thank you Matt.

Mike, I think the rocks you are looking at are actually knee high heather and scrub.

I think on reflection that one of the problems with the shots is not having anything to give them a real sense of scale.
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Wayland.
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francois
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2013, 05:52:32 AM »
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Your 24 hours were really amazing. In this short amount of time, you managed to produce fantastic images. You could almost make a book with them.

Bravo!
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Francois
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2013, 08:10:37 AM »
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What was the exposure on the Milky Way shot? I am with Matt, while I really like this shot, the wandering path to the lighthouse is my favorite, along with the last image posted.
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2013, 12:02:02 PM »
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Francois, I wish my time on shoots was always that productive. I can only think of one other shoot that produced so much work and that was a year or so back now.

Chris, the milky way shot started as two 25 second exposures, f4 6400 iso.

There is a useful rule of thumb for how long you can expose the stars for before they start to trail.

Divide 500 by your "effective" focal length based upon a 35mm full frame to give the maximum number of seconds. (Some people use a figure of 600 but 500 is safer.) (Remember to apply crop factors for smaller sensors.)

In this case the lens was set at 19mm so that gave me a figure of 26.3 which meant that 25 seconds should be fine.

I had determined where the Milky Way would lie using an astronomy app on my iPad and had waited up late so that some of the dust clouds around the galactic core would be visible above the horizon. I had to shoot upwards to use the hill to shield most of the light pollution but still silhouette the memorial.

In PS I stacked the two shots as layers, masked the foreground from one and rotated the upper layer around the celestial pole to register the frames then blended them together in the colour dodge mode.

Once that was done I stamped the layers to create a flat copy layer, added a curve to remove some of the light pollution and then warped the layer to correct the perspective of the memorial and the bench but not distort the sky too much.

To finish off, I applied some selective exposure control and a curve layer just to enhance the dust clouds of the Milky Way a little.
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Wayland.
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2013, 10:45:41 PM »
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Wonderful photos, thanks for posting.
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stamper
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« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2013, 03:24:27 AM »
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A very promising start to a project and some very likeable compositions however I fell that one or two are "overdone". The first looks as if it is HDR and I don't think it is needed. I find that some practitioners of HDR use the effect to enhance an image that is in reality not very good to begin with. Your images don't need that effect because they are good. If it isn't HDR then I apologise.  Smiley
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Wayland
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« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2013, 03:48:50 AM »
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It's not HDR but I did manually blend differing exposures to manage the contrast range.

Like you I am not a fan of HDR as used by Spinal Tap ( Everything turned up to Eleven.) however I do not find graduated neutral density filters very helpful in many of my compositions so I tend to stack multiple exposed layers and selectively mask them in cases where I am working against the light for example.

Does anyone else think it is over cooked? I could easily go back and rework it but I didn't think it looked too bad.
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Wayland.
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« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2013, 08:08:12 AM »
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I kind of felt like the first and fifth ones were a bit cooked as well, but was so enjoying the rest, I soon left them as ho-hums and concentrated on the others.
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Wayland
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« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2013, 10:18:22 AM »
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Hmm.. Interesting, apart from a shadow/highlight adjustment and a slight S curve in PS the fifth one is pretty straight.

Thanks for the feedback though, I'll go back and have another look at the files coming out of Lightroom.

I'm not quite as comfortable with the controls of the 2012 process so I may have toasted them a bit there before I started.
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Wayland.
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« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2013, 03:44:36 PM »
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A very nice group and interesting commentary.

I shoot at dusk quite a lot and get the same wonderful deep blues but I don't see them.  I've taken to warming these shots up quite a bit because although I enjoy the blues they tend to derive from not adjusting the white balance for the rapidly changing color.  I'm wondering - do you see the light that blue or is it creative use of the white balance (which is just fine)?
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Chuck Hurich
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