Friday, 25 July 2014

The best of times...The worst of times

Ahh, the summer family holiday. What a great opportunity to go to some scenic location and practice your camera skills.

The reality is however, that family holidays are probably the most frustrating time for a part-time photographer. Here you are surrounded by all those great opportunities and you spend the whole time catering to the whims of your family, very few of which involve standing around for hours while you setup your tripod. Even when the stars do coincide and you end up with your camera in some photogenic location, the likelihood will be that you will only have the time to take a quick snapshot.

Don't take me wrong,  I enjoy being with my family on holiday, however sometimes it feels like being taken to a great pub and then being told you can only drink lemonade.

One professional photographer confided to me that he was banned from taking his cameras on holiday by his family. I can understand the reasoning, but of course for the rest of the year, he could spend every waking moment getting that next great shot. As a part time photographers we do not have that luxury, so the idea of a week without work and not taking photographs is unthinkable.

Still you have to take what you can get in these situations and so it was that I set out to the south coast of Wales.

It has to be said that as a location, the area between the Gower peninsula and Cardiff is often overlooked, but has pretty much everything that a photographer needs. Towering craggy cliffs and beaches, green hills and mountains, and wonderful beaches. Also for once the Welsh weather turned out to be superb.

In the end I did manage to get one 2 hour period to myself and my camera. I had always had the intention to play around with very long exposure seascapes so I went down to Southerndown beach.

As my luck would have it, I chose the exact same time as another bunch of camera enthusiasts were trying to do exactly the same thing (I wonder what the collective term for photographers is? An annoyance?)

Inevitably a lot of the time was spent trying to avoid getting in each other shots. Still they were a friendly bunch, and we had a good chat and photography and comparisons of equipment.

It has to be said though that I am not fond of  these "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours" sessions. I know full well that my equipment is pretty inadequate when compared to others. But as my wife says, it's not how big it is, it is how you use it(I assume she was talking about the camera).

In the end the only wildlife I managed to get were of Seagulls who will do anything for a thrown chip. As a consequence I didn't use my 300mm lens all week. Still seagulls should not be underrated as photographic subject.  True they are not as rare as a collared pratincole , but that should not make them any less interesting. And unlike, say your average Bittern, they can be easily encouraged into camera range.
(As a side note I did see 3 Choughs on the beach, but they were inconsiderate enough not to hang around long enough for me to change my lens.)

Anyway these are some of the better shots from my trip

 Fishermen on the beach. I've increased the contrast a bit, and there are some nice silhouettes

 The red cottage. This is from my trip to St Fagans museum, which is a real gem(and even better, free). For some reason I did not end up with many great photos here

Nash Point. I have to admit I have photoshopped out the ugly radio mast that someone had decided to position next to it.

 Colours. I really like the abstract banding of corn and foliage here

These are a closeup of the thatch on a cottage at St Fagans. It is actually in colour, but again I like the abstract shapes

Both of the above were taken with my budget big stopper on Southerndown bay. Really needed a whole day to do justice to this (I got an hour), but I learnt a lot doing it

My two best seagull photos. The sky makes the difference. I must admit the throwing of chips was used in these photos

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