The Golden Circle – Iceland

Over the last few weeks I have not let the inclement weather stop me taking pictures. This week the combination of work, projects being photoshop related and the torrential rain have kept me inside. I thought I’d use this opportunity to post some old photos taken before I started studying photography. These shots are all from a day trip I took on my holiday to Iceland last October.

Iceland is one of the ‘newest’ land formations on earth and is still very geologically active with hot springs and volcanoes everywhere. This is clearly evident as you drive around, the landscape has an almost otherworldly feel. The Icelanders have successfully harnessed the  hot springs to provide clean, geothermal energy; this is evident the minute you turn the shower on as the smell of sulphur can instantly be smelt. Cars contribute practically the only emissions and this leads the air to have a heady, pure quality.

The first stop on the trip was to a farm an hour’s journey outside of Reykjavik. Farms take the form of greenhouses that allow the farmers to create artificially warm and/or humid conditions – we were told that outside of the Caribbean Iceland is the world’s biggest producer of Bananas! The farm we visited grew predominantly tomatoes and we had a pleasant tour hosted by the owner.

 

The next stop was Haukadalur valley, home of the world famous Geysir. This water spout was visited by Victorian explorers from Scotland. They documented this phenomena and it is after this example that all geysers are named. Earthquakes through the 20th and 21st Century have altered the frequency of Geysers eruptions and, after a dormant period, it is again a daily occurrence. Geysir’s smaller neighbour, Stroker (the butter churn), is now the main attraction blowing every 5-10 minutes

The next stop was Gullfoss falls (Golden falls). This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. We are fortunate to still have this treasure as there were plans to dam this for use as part of a hydroelectric solution. The dogged lobbying of the owner’s daughter was one of the key factors. The falls are awe-inspiring and I was treated to a rainbow, of which Iceland’s rain ensures are plentiful.

The final stop of the day was at Þingvellir which holds two exciting reasons as a destination. Firstly it is on the boundary between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. A void between the two create a plain several kilometres wide bounded by sheer rock formations. The Viking settlers of Iceland used this stone to hold their parliament, the first of modern times. When Iceland became an independent state it was here that it was celebrated.

 

I loved my trip to Iceland and would recommend to anyone. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed my pictures.

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Wildlife in the Garden

I live in a suburban environment, close to rail links and motorways. Although I’m fortunate enough to have many parks and green areas in my locality the casual observer would find it unlikely that I would have many opportunities to capture fauna in my garden. I know to the contrary as I regularly see nocturnal interlopers in the shape of foxes and deer. This weekend my neighbours stocked their bird feeder and there was an influx of animals coming to fill up. From jays, to woodpeckers and beyond.

Obviously as I reached for my camera these visitors became shy. After some patience I managed to capture some shots of a pigeon a jay and a cheeky squirrel. Below are some of my favourites.

Thanks for stopping by.

Movement & Out of Focus

Part of this week’s project was to take series of pictures that captured each of movement, out of focus,  abstract composition and reflections. A common shot used to demonstrate movement is long exposure of moving traffic at night. I wanted to experiment with this. Given the long evenings this wasn’t as easy as it would’ve been in winter as by dusk the roads are fairly quiet, however, choosing  relatively busy road the more sporadic traffic density allowed for more experimentation than a steady stream would’ve done. I’ve chosen a selection of different results below:

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This first composition was taken on bulb mode with a 30s exposure. it has reduced traffic to a a series of red or white lines evoking movement. Note the intermittent orange of the indicator on the left lane.IMG_4646

Although this second shot from a slightly different vantage point was taken using a shorter (13s) exposure time, the effect is comparable to the first.IMG_4596

I also tried to use shorter exposures. This example was at 2s. I’m really pleased with these.  They don’t show continuous streams of light. What they do show is discrete vehicles, however, all that is identifiable is their lights and the reflection of them on the tarmac. It makes it seem that the road is used to transport light beams 30ft long.

IMG_4622My primary aim was to capture movement. As I was set up I decided to play around with focus as well. This resulted is almost abstract compositions of the same scene. The above is with the focus ring set to infinity and a 1/30s shutter speed. Below, shows a longer exposure with the same focal point.IMG_4639Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my pictures.

An Introduction to Photoshop/Adobe Elements

I haven’t posted on here for a while, although I have been busy snapping away. I shall try and upload some of my pictures retrospectively over the coming weeks.

This week’s NCFE project was to create a montage or joiner by taking 10-20 pictures of a subject and stitching them together either by hand (I doubt anyone has chosen this option) or using some form of editing software.

We were allowed some time during the lesson to trial both the capture and the editing using the colleges licenses of photoshop. Below is my first attempt. This is one of the ancillary buildings at the college where I take my evening classes. We are fortunate to have some interesting buildings to capture (and even more lucky that the weather held out!).

Panorama1Although not completely satisfied with the end result there are several elements I was pleased with. First of all I successfully took 12 pictures that could be stitched together into a composite whole. Equally the final piece is a relatively accurate reflection of subject.

Now for the points that I was less happy with. The evening sun ensured that maintaining an even exposure through the various shots was a challenge and one that I did not completely master. The top right of the finished product is overexposed washing out much of the detail. My overlaps were too sporadic. The frame second from bottom left barely features as about 90% of its area is duplicated in the neighbouring frames. Finally, and almost in contradiction to the last point, the frames almost seem too regimented; The expanse of grass on the bottom and sky at the top allow for a square of result, which detracts from the collage feel that was intended.

To improve these I ventured out in the rain this morning to try and capture a new scene. This was my first attempt in conditions other than bright sunlight. I’m pleased to say that other than soggy feet I enjoyed it and think the overcast nature brought out different colours than are normally available. For a subject I chose the ruins at Virginia Water. These were transported from Libya as a folly for Queen Victoria. The finished result is below.

 

Panorama 2_edited-1

 

I’m much more pleased with this attempt. The width of field is much greater than the first attempt. Partly as the subject was bigger and partly as the railings meant I had to stand closer to it, although I would have done this deliberately had the restriction not been present. This gave the finished work the curved effect seen above.

I’d learnt more about the post production work since my lesson and was able to add the thicker drop shadows that helped to add to the collage feeling that I was aiming for.

This is the first occasion I have spent any significant time editing work post capture. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I realise that the above work represents only a toe in the ocean in terms of Adobe Elements’ capability. I look forward to learning more as intend to take on more projects like this.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed my post. Please feel free to leave any comments below.