7 best locations to photograph Yosemite | tips, techniques and videos

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Yosemite National Park is probably what kick started my interest in photography.  It was the location of the photographs by the amazing Ansel Adams that I admired when I was 14 and why I first started experimenting with photography.  I first travelled there around 15 years ago and like anybody that has been there will know I was amazed by the magic of the shear cliffs of El Capitan and Cathedral.  The view as you come through the tunnel is straight from lord of the rings. I returned there once more and then got the opportunity to return more often as I moved to San Francisco, California in 2016.  I was also lucky enough to visit in the winter of 2016/17 which was incredible.

Following this winter trip I produced a 2 part vlog entitled "Landscape Photography - Yosemite in the Winter". This 2 part video has some great information about photographing Yosemite and follows me on location with a D800. Part 1 is below and part 2 is further down in this article.

 

I wanted to share in this blog some of the gear I used to take the photographs and talk about the locations I went to in a bit more detail.  When I first went to the area and search the web for information for landscape photographers and wanted to provide more useful information.

Yosemite has so many areas to shoot that are accessible from the valley road - and this blog aims to list my top 7.  Obviously there are other locations to the ones listed below but I feel that this is a fairly good summary of the places I found to be best.

I have pinpointed on the map below these 7 best locations to photograph Yosemite (descriptions and photos below...)

Best locations to photograph Yosemite
Best locations to photograph Yosemite

The 7 Yosemite photo spots you must Visit

1) Tunnel View

The obvious one is tunnel view – this is the classic Ansel Adams image and is best photographed at sunset to catch the light on El Capitan (although you can get some great light at sunrise).  It is difficult to get a unique shot from this location though and you really need clouds to get a great image.

Tunnel view, yosemite, sunset
Tunnel view, yosemite, sunset

Yosemite Valley Sunset, Tunnel View D800 - 0.5s - f/9 - 34mm ISO 50 (0.9 soft grad, polarizing filter)

Tunnel view gets very busy at sunset so make sure you arrive early.  It is a great place to watch the sunset and the mist form in the valley.  Also - why not be creative and take a timelapse (as you can see in the start of part 1 of my Yosemite vlog I did just that with my Yi 4K+ on a tripod).  Remember to stay after the sun has gone down though as the purple glow afterwards is sometimes incredible!  Take the image below - I was just packing up and ready to leave - luckily I had my Fuji X-T2 and took this image handheld!

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Purple glow - Moments after sunset, Yosemite Valley Fujifilm X-T2 1/40s f/3.2 35mm ISO 320

2) El Capitan Meadow

The granite shear faces of El Capitan, Cathedral and the surrounding rocks makes a great backdrop to any photograph.   El Capitan meadow is situated just west of El Capitan bridge and it is best to park North of the river.  From there you can get amazing views of El Capitan and Cathedral.  It is also a great place to wonder around and just take in the majestic Yosemite Valley

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Golden Oaks against Cathedral Rocks, El Capitan Meadow Nikon D800 - 1/125s f6.3 50mm ISO 64

It is an amazing place to photograph in the morning and evening ( as can be seen in part 2 of my vlog on Yosemite in the winter >> https://youtu.be/hATu3TMrhuw )

 

3) The Merced River at (secret location - see map)

The Merced river meanders through the valley and it is well worth hiking along it to find something different.  If you are at the east part of the valley you can get El Capitan in the background with the wonderful Merced river as a leading line.  I have marked on the map the exact location of this shot as it is a bit hidden away and not an obvious location.  You need to park south of the river and hike down to this location.

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Morning Glow on Merced River and El Capitan Nikon D800 - 1/100s f/8 24mm ISO 100 (Lee 0.9 soft grad)

4) Hike up to Vernal falls

The hike up to Vernal falls is amazing and the falls themselves are worth photographing.  However, it is the vistas that you get whilst you are walking up that are really stunning.  And in fall the you get splashes of color from the aspens and other deciduous trees.

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Splash of color, Yosemite Nikon D200 1/160s f/7 45mm ISO 100 (handheld)

5) Yosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge

A great place to photograph Yosemite falls is from is just off the swinging bridge carpark.  You can either shoot from the bridge itself or wonder down the river and get some unique shots.  This image was taken with my 70-200mm lens (a lens that is really useful to have in Yosemite!).  The trees in this shot still have a hoar frost from the cold clear night.

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Yosemite Falls in the Winter Nikon D800 - 1/100s f/6 98mm ISO 64 (tripod)

6) Sentinel Dome at Sunset

Most people that head up the Glacier Point road go to Glacier Point at sunset.  But if you park 1 mile before you get to Glacier Point you can hike up to Sentinel Dome.  It is an amazing hike and the views when you get there are equally breathtaking.  There are compositions in many directions from here but I like shooting back towards the sun and getting El Capitan from above.  Remember to take a head torch as when you come down it will be dusk and it goes dark very quickly.

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El Capitan from Sentinel Dome - Sunset Nikon D800 - 1/13s f/9 200mm ISO 80 Lee 0.9 hard grad (tripod)

7) Valley View at Sunrise (or sunset!)

The list wouldn't be complete without adding in the sunrise / sunset shoot at valley view.  This is another famous location and probably at its best after a snowfall in winter.  I have never managed to capture it as well as I have wanted but here is my best shot!  Ideally you need mist, snow and breaking sunlight (not too much to ask!)

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Sunrise at Valley View - Yosemite Nikon D800 0.5s f/13 16mm ISO 64 (2 images blended in photoshop) (tripod)

Best times to photograph Yosemite - sunrise and sunset

The mornings are often the best time to take photos in the winter as the hoar frost lingers on the branches of the trees and creates a crystal coating on the ground fauna.  However, closer to sunset you often get fog setting in and this can lead to great images throughout the valley but mostly in the meadow areas at the east and west end of the valley.  I try to avoid shooting in the middle of the day as the harsh light is difficult to control.  However you can use El Capitan or other large granite faces to reflect the light and that reflected light is great for brining out detail in images.

If you are lucky you will get rays of sun through the evening mist like the shot I took below.  Good luck!

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Pastel Winter Sun, Yosemite Fuji X-T2 1/550s f/4 35mm ISO 200 (handheld)

Fuji X-T2 vs Fuji X100T - Finally decided which one

You have a D800 - so why on earth buy a Fuji X-series camera? I hear you ask! This pretty much reflected my wife's thoughts.  I had purchased a Fuji X100s about 3 years ago and it was awesome.

I had been looking for a good fixed focus small camera that takes great photos and isn't the price of a Leica and when the x100s came out in Jan 2013 I got one.  I loved the camera so much and it provided awesome quality photos in a pocket sized camera.  However, it was stolen earlier this year in Yosemite.

I was going to replace it with the Fuji X100T but then the X-T2 came out and I had a decision to make.

My thoughts on the benefits of each in my X100T vs X-T2 battle (you can find lots of technical comparisons out there - this was my thought process for both)

Fuji X100T

  • Smaller, compact and portable (with small lens)
  • Looks better
  • Awesome case that makes it look even better
  • Integrated flash
  • Cheaper
  • Integrated ND filter
  • Loved the X100S

Fuji X-T2

  • Newer technology (better sensor, focusing, speed)
  • Flexibility - whole range of lenses (not restricted to 23mm)
  • Still small enough to carry in backpack
  • Better focus (X100S was very bad)
  • Tiltable screen
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Golden Gate Bridge Pano - Fuji X-T2 (Acros film simulation)
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Golden Gate Bridge crop from above image - Fuji X-T2 (Acros film simulation)

It came down to 2 things - the flexibility of the X-T2 vs the size of the X100T.  Ultimately I wanted it to take with me all the time so I could capture photos on commute and when I wouldn't normally have my Nikon D800.  However, I decided that I was willing to give up some size for the added flexibility of the interchangeable lenses.  Having had the X100S and worked with 23mm for over a year there had been a lot of occasions where I wanted something slightly bigger.  Mostly for when I was photographing my kids.

dscf0160Waiting for the moon - Fuji X-T2 (straight out of camera)

So a chose the Fuji X-T2.  Being a tech geek it was the a decision that was also heavily influenced by the latest technology and amazing reviews on sites like dpreview, fstoppers and luminous landspace - see below for a lis

Fstopper review of the Fuji X-T2 >>

DPREVIEW review of the Fuji X-T2 >>

Luminous Landscape review of the Fuji X-T2 >>

 

When I finally decided on the X-T2 I then struggled to find one in stock anywhere but I finally found one and I bought my camera from Samy's Camera in San Francisco.

Initial impressions are very positive.  I find myself wanted to shoot with the Fuji a lot more than my D800.  It is a camera that just wants to be used.  It is fun and the dials are so useful.  I will post some blogs over the next few weeks of the performance in more detail but here are some of the images I have taken in the last week.

 

 

Printing on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper with Epson 3800

I don't write many technical blogs and I don"t think I have ever written one on printing technique.  However, it has taken me days to get the best settings for Hahnemuhle fine art paper and I thought it was worth sharing. For those of you that have never used Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308g paper before it is a matt fine art paper.  It has a smooth but very slightly textured paper and certainly isn"t like the Epson Archival matt paper which is much brighter white and very very smooth.  When printed on correctly it is an amazing paper and the detail and colour saturation are amazing.  Full settings below.

epson3800printing

All images were printed from Lightroom 4.3.

The settings that I used were

Lightroom Print Module

Printer profile: HFA_Eps3800_MK_PhotoRag.icc

Intent: Relative

Print resolution 300ppi

Print sharpening: Standard / Matt

Print Dialog (Mac) / Print settings

Media Type: Velvet Fine Art Paper

Color Settings: Off

Print Quality: Superfine - 1440dpi / High speed - OFF / Finest Detail

Print Dialog (Mac) / Paper configuration

Color Density: 0

Drying Time: 3 (This is critical)

Paper Thickness: 5

Platen Gap: Auto

I found 2 of the settings that did make a big difference were turning on Finest Detail and Drying Time of 3.  I experimented a lot with the drying time and a longer drying time resulted in significantly improved detail.  This maybe my specific printer but these settings created amazing prints.

My D800 photographic exhibition

I have had my Nikon D800 for 1 year now. This anniversary of getting my D800 falls quite nicely with my 1st photographic exhibition that features photos taken with the camera over the last year.  The exhibition will showcase images from the Peak District and surrounding area.  I have printed the photos on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Paper and some are enlarged to 65cm wide showing the true potential of the large megapixel sensor on the Nikon D800.  Most of the photos are taken with two lenses;

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens

and

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens

I would say that 70% of the images are using the 24-70mm lens (at the 24mm end).  For the wider shots the 16-35mm Nikkor is awesome.  I really struggled with the decision over that and the 14-24mm Nikkor but decided on the 16-35mm as I wanted to use my Lee filters.  I am really pleased with my decision on this and have never thought I need the extra 2mm or that any of the images are soft.

Winter Sunrise, Nr, RainowWinter Sunrise, Nr Rainow –  Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 VR.  F/9 1/60s ISO 100 (48mm)

Landscape Photographic Exhibition in the Peak District

Details of the Nikon D800 exhibition of photos in the Peak District can be found here >>

Here are some of the stats from the last year.

    • 16,000 images taken
    • 400 GB of storage required (95% of the images were taken at full res in RAW)
    • Average of around 25Mb per image

Storm clouds over hutStorm clouds over hut, Goyt Valley Nikon D800 and Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR.  F/8 1/400s ISO 400 (70mm)

A couple of the tools that I have found really useful with the Nikon D800.

MB-D12 for Nikon D800 - the official Nikon grip and battery holder is really expensive.  This replacement is a 1/3 of the price and does exactly the same job.

Battery Grip Holder Pack Replace MB-D12 for Nikon D800 D800E Camera EL15

Lightroom 4.3 - I have moved from Aperture to Lightroom 4.3 and found that I now on rarely use photoshop.  80% of the images that I edited and printed for my up coming exhibition were created in Lightroom.  I would encourage anybody to use Lightroom as it is a great way of categorising your photos.

Details of the Nikon D800 exhibition of photos in the Peak District can be found here >>

Amazing views from Bosley Cloud

The Cloud or Bosley Cloud is described by Wikipedia as a prominent hill which lies on the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire a couple of miles to the west of the Peak district national park boundary.  The hill was shaped in the ice age by the passage of ice. In the past I have walked up it many times with my kids but never done much photography up there.  Getting to the top is really simple though and it can be accessed easily on the North East side from Red lane.  The images below are a couple of the shots I have taken over the last few weeks on a number of visits.

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Sunrise over "The Cloud" – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F22  1/60s ISO 160 (70mm)

Bosley Cloud itself is difficult to photograph and I have tried lots of different angles but not really found an image that works.  The above image was a grab online casino shot taken recently from the A34 on the way to work and shows the geographical contours of The Cloud.

After a casino online couple of visits at both sunrise and sunset I decided that the morning light created the best compositional opportunities.

Golden Light - Bosley Cloud

Golden light, Bosley Cloud – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8  F/9 1/60s ISO 100 (48mm)

Morning rays - Bosley Cloud

Morning rays, Bosley Cloud -  Nikon D800 and Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR.  F/9 1/200s ISO 100 (130mm)

Another amazing morning mist in the peaks. The rays of light were stunning - it was a shame I couldn"t have spent more time up here.  Often landscape photographers forget about isolating areas of the image with a long lens.  In misty conditions like "morning rays" above this can be really effective.  In rays in this photo weren"t as obvious in the wider image and even by the naked eye but are accentuated in the tight crop 130mm focal length gives.

These and many other images of the peak district and surrounding areas can be seen at my exhibition next year at Bollington Arts Centre entitled Peak Discovery.

D800 Diary - 2 Months

I have now used my D800 for 2 months.  Well actually that isn't quite correct.  I have owned my D800 for 2 months, 1 week of which Nikon had it.  It all started after I had shot some portraits of my kids and noticed that when using the edge focus points they weren't  as pin sharp as the central point.  I had read about this online and didn"t think my camera had the same problem.  After some ad-hoch tests (see below) I emailed Nikon NPS in the UK and they asked me to send it in. My focus tests were performed on a Sigma F1.4 50mm lens (This exhibited the strongest focus problem)

Left edge - Was around 10cm out Right edge - Was around 6cm out

Nikon NPS UK were brilliant and 1 week later I got it back and the problem has been improved but not solved but does seem to be exaggerated on the Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens.

I have decided to work around the problem until Nikon has admitted the issue and rolled out a permanent fix.  It doesn't impact on most of my photography and actually can be avoided most of the time.  The only instance that I find it problematic is if I am shooting fast moving action that I want to be in the LHS of the frame.  I will have to make sure that all my footballers are running from right to left!

The Great Ridge, Mam Tor

The Great Ridge, Mam Tor - Nikon D800 and a Nikon 16-35mm F4 and Lee 0.9ND

This wasn"t the only problem I has with my D800.  I had one of the explosive batteries and my camera locks up!  That is what happens if you get one of the first D800 cameras I suppose and Nikon have acted extremely well in helping me solve these issues.

On a more positive note I have taken some stunning landscape shots on the D800 over the last month and the results don"t fail to amaze me.  For me it is 3 areas of the D800 that really stand out as a landscape photographer

The resolution - The images printed big are simply breathtaking.  The resolution also allows you a lot of room for creating images from images.

The dynamic range - Something that isn"t spoken about too much is the dynamic range the D800 has.  The level of detail is amazing - especially out of the shadows.

The usability - I am going to write my next blog on 10 things you must do with your D800.  The tools that are available are great and the ergonomics of the design really helps access them quickly.  The view finder is bright and the live view with horizon is an invaluable tool.  It really does all add to an all round package.

Evening at Mam Tor

Evening light at Mam Tor - Nikon D800 and Nikkor 16-35mm F4 VR.  F/16 1/20s ISO 200 16mm

One of the big decisions I had to make was around a ultra-wide angle lens.  It came down to 3 choices

Options for a sub 20mm ultra-wide lens for D800 FX format camera

Obviously the Nikon 12-24 is an amazing class leading lens.  But you can't fit a Lee filter system to it without a seriously expensive add-on from Lee.  The Tokina really appealed to me as I loved the 11-16mm DX Tokina I used on my D200.  Again though you can"t fit filters on the front.  I really don"t understand why these 2 lenses haven"t been designed with this in mind.  They will be used by landscape photographers and they always use ND Grads.

View more of my images taken with the D800 and Nikon 16-35mm F4 VR lens on Flickr >>

So I went for a Nikon 16-35mm Lens and love it.  The 2 images above are taken with this lens and the prints of these look stunning.  I really can"t see why you need to pay more and go for the Nikon 12-24mm.  Obviously you get 4mm more at the wide end which is a lot and if you think you need that then go for it.  For me, 16mm is wide enough and any wider would result in difficult to correct distortion.

Rapeseed, Cheshire

Rapeseed at Tidnock - Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8.  F/8 1/640s ISO 200 24mm

D800 Diary - Week 2

I have had the D800 for 2 weeks now and it is a week since my last post.  I have managed to do some landscape photography - but not managed to get the light necessary for any amazing shots.  You can click on most of the images for a high res photo in Flickr (you need to go to the size view in Flickr though)

Twisted Tree
Twisted Tree - Nikkor 24-70 @ 24mm - ISO 125 F/8 1/500s (Handheld)

I still love the D800 - after 1 week here are some of the things I have found.

It is ok to handhold and shoot.  The twisted tree is handheld (albeit 1/500s @ 24mm).  The are a lot of people saying you get blurred shots and it is unforgiving.  Basically - it is the same as any other camera - but you may not get the absolute best resolution and may struggle if you print to A2 and look at the photo from 6" away!  You do need to be careful though when shooting at around 1/60s and slower on a tripod and always used mirror lock up and a remote shutter release.  The mirror does create a lot of vibration that does lead to a lose of high resolution detail.

The battery life is really really good.  I used the camera for 3 days and shot over 1000 images and about 10 movies continuously using the screen and still had 15% left.

So far I haven"t got any dirt on the sensor (a massive problem with the onlinecasinocanada1 D200).  I have been counting the number of times I have changed lenses - it now stands at 159 (sad I know!).

The auto image rotation doesn"t seem to work correctly - I have noticed when taking in portrait mode on a tripod it is fine when first comes up on view finder - then shows in landscape rather than portrait.

Editing the photos isn"t too bad - I have used a ipad (see my blog from a few weeks ago on the iPad apps I use >>) and Aperture and not had any issues at all.  Yes, it takes a while to transfer them to the iPad and they take a lot of room - but I have mostly shot RAW and never had a problem.  For reference , I have an iPad 3.

Morning light on DerwentMorning light in Borrowdale - Nikkor 24-70mm f/8 1/20s ISO 50 (Heavy crop from original - edited on iPad)

I don"t care what anybody says - having the resolution (as long as you have good lenses) means you can crop more and compose different shots.  The shot below is a heavy crop of an original I took.  The sky wasn"t great and the image that was interesting was this crop.  You could still print this at a push at A3.

Buttermere TreesButtermere Trees - Nikkor 24-70mm

View_to_keswick_585View towards Keswick - Nikkor 24-70 @ 50mm ISO 50 1/15s F/8

Finally - here is a fun shot I spotted whilst walking up Catbells - again handheld.  The full resolution shot is crisp and you can actually see a lot of detail in the people.  View more shots from my Lakes trip on Flickr >>

ridge_walkers_585Ridge walkers - Nikkor 24-70mm @70mm 1/800s 

D800 Diary - Day 7

Ok - this is going to be my last daily update on the D800.  I will still post updates but they are more likely to be on a weekly basis.  Over the weekend I am going to do a lot of landscape photography - in the Lake District which is close by in the NW of England. I wanted to thank everyone for the kind emails and comments on my blog.  It has actually been fun writing - but I am running out of things to photograph on a daily basis!  My blog has attracted over 7,000 hits a day which is amazing - I thought if I got anybody reading it would be miracle.

Sunset TreeSunset Tree - Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 Lens

I thought for my final daily post I would list a few sites that have caught my eye over the last week.  All the sites below have some amazing images and information about the Nikon D800.

My Best Nikon D800 sites >>

Ming Thein First Impressions review - Some amazing street photography using the D800 - and probably some of the first real life images

Flickr Nikon D800 User Group  - Some of the latest images from D800 photographers and a great discussion group

500px D800 photos - A selection of photos with the tag D800 on the amazing 500px website

Some great street photography from Bill Mcdad - great b&w photos in this dpreview forum

The dpreview.com production samples - great site with studio photos

D800 first impressions - Richard Wright talks about his first impression of the D800 - some good photos (keep the posts coming Richard!)

Aurora reflection - One of my favourite photos so far taken with the D800

I am sure other people have spotted great sites as well - please post these as comments on my blog and I will take a look and add them to the list

I hope to post again in a few days time - in the meantime happy shooting!

 

D800 Diary - Day 6

Today I had some time in London to do a bit of street photography.  It isn"t something I have done a lot of before and I found it quite difficult to spot opportunities for creating some good images.  I started shooting around 5pm and finished around 9pm (with a stop for some food and beer!). I used 2 lenses - the Nikon 70-200mm VR I and the Sigma 50mm F/1.4 although the Sigma was on 80% of the time as I felt the longer lens was too intrusive  and obvious for capturing the images I wanted.  In fact I think all the final images I choose for this entry bar one where taken on the Sigma 50mm which is fast becoming my favourite lens.

Eye on youEye on you - ISO 2000 - Sigma 50mm @ F/1.4 1/200s (Heavy crop of the original - see below - click to see larger image in Flickr)

The original image for image - eye on you

I am not sure about the next photo - I like the shadow but could get the crop correct - it seems as though there may too much of the actual women.

Shadow D800Shadow - ISO 500 - Sigma 50mm (I forgot to lower the ISO for this)

I waited ages to get the next image - the lighting was good and the women were heavily lit by the light from the shop window.  I took 100 photos at this location to get this image.  As with all the photos I took today this was hand held.

Opposite DirectionsOpposite Directions - ISO 1600 and Sigma 50mm lens

The next image is actually my favourite of the shots I took today - It was a quick shot that I saw and I managed to focus correctly - which did prove difficult with the tolerance that you have with F/1.4.  It wasn't the fault of the D800 - just the operator.  I do wish I had used face focus more though.

SmileSmile - ISO 2000 and Sigma 50mm at F/1.4

I have also included a few more of the images I took below.

In total I took 450 RAW images and 5 videos.  I also used the screen on the back of the camera a lot.  My battery went to its lowest yet of 53% left.  One thing that I have noticed more and more with the D800 is that it does over expose photos.  This isn"t a problem as I set -0.3EV to compensate.  I just don"t understand why Nikon would do that?  It is very good practice to expose to the RHS of the histogram though as this great article from Luminous Landscape illustrates 

3 People - Sigma 50mm and D800

Cafe - Sigma 50mm and D800

D800 Diary - Day 5

Again I have struggled to get time with my D800 today.  I did get an exciting package through the post though - A Nikon AF-S 24-70mm F2.8 lens to replace my trusty 17-55mm DX lens (which I am now selling if anybody is interested - check out eBay in the next few weeks).   I managed to get the 24-70 on eBay for around £350 cheaper than a new one and first inspection shows it to be in mint condition.  This will be put through its paces this weekend as I am doing some photography in the Lake District. A positive consequence of not having a full frame wide angle lens is that I have spend a lot more time using the Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens. For those of you who like a bit of Bokeh (the blobby out of focus highlights that you get with F1.4 lenses!!) this is such a bargain.  For £360 it is amazing how sharp the images are.

Daffodils - Sigma 50mm and D800

Daffodils - Taken with Sigma 50mm at F5

I decided tonight to see how the focusing performed in low light.  Focusing was always accurate and quick.  In fact I had to go into a room with no lights on at all (It was really dark!) and still it managed to focus quickly.  I took this image in reasonable room light (but it wasn"t bright).  Click on it to see a larger version in Flickr

ABC D800 - ISO 5000High ISO and focusing in the dark with the D800 is as easy as ABC - Sigma 50mm - F/1.4 ISO 5000

I don't think looking at the full size image is the best way to judge images like this - I think if they look perfect at around 1000 pixels wide then they are fine for the web.  Anything bigger than that and they will be printed.  I printed this image off at A3 and it was again brilliant.  I am trying to find fault with the D800 but just can't in terms of image quality.

D800 Diary - Day 4

I didn't get much chance to shoot with my D800 today as I was sat in the office for most of the day.  Here are a couple of the images I did get on my brief trip to Dunham Massey after work.

Squirrel ISO 800 - 585Squirrel - ISO 800 - Nikon D800 - 1/1250s F/3.5

Time to walk up - D800Time to walk up - ISO 500 - Nikon D800 - 1/800s F/7.1

I have taken a lot of handheld shots with the D800 and not had too much problem.  However I have been stick to around 1/1.5 x focal length as a rule.

I wanted to do another test comparing the high ISO performance of the D800 with the D200 as I have been asked by a lot of D200 users how they compare in real life.  So I took a few photos of a bottle of Bud - is that real life enough :)

Both the shots below are taken using a Sigma 50mm F/1.4 lens (this lens is really great for only £360!) at F/5 on a tripod.  Obviously the D200 was a bit further away to take into account the 1.5x DX factor. The D200 crop is at full pixel resolution (big enough to print at A3).  I downsized the D800 to the exact size of the D200.  Decide for yourself the improvement below.  I have also included a D800 at full resolution at the bottom.

D200 ISO1600D200 full crop @ ISO 1600

bud d800 ISO1600D800 downsized to D200 @ ISO 1600

D800 ISO 1600 - full cropD800 full crop @ ISO 1600

D800 Diary - Day 3

I didn't manage to do as much with my D800 today as I was out in the garden enjoying playing football with my kids and generally loving the Spring sunshine.  Us Brits love to talk about the weather and at the moment we are having a great spell of blue sky and warm weather for March.  Being a landscape photographer though, I don"t want blue sky as it doesn't really lend itself to dramatic light and I still haven"t managed to get any landscapes that are worthy of uploading.  What I did do was a few studio photos with my very (un) willing kids.  Why anybody goes into portrait photography I will never know! The results are simply amazing- the detail in the image and the tonal range is breathtaking.  The series of images below give some idea of this.  What I was struck with was the colour in the images and the sharpness of the RAW images.

Emily b&w with D800 at ISO 50Emily - ISO 50 - Nikon 70 - 200mm (crop of main image below)

Emily crop - d800

Emily 100% image on D800 at ISO 50

The colour image of Emily below is a large crop of the original image - again showing the crop potential of the D800.  I know I have gone on about it - but it is so useful to be able to do this.

Emily colour D800 at ISO 50Emily - ISO 50 - Nikon 70-200mm Lens (sorry about the 2 catchlights for the portrait pros out there!)

After using the D800 for 3 days now here are the main highlights and a few lowlights.

  • The resolution is amazing - it is so useful to have this resolution
  • Editing the images in Aperture isn"t a problem - I have not experienced any speed issues as people were worried about. I am using 2.8Ghz iMac with 12GB of RAM.
  • The focusing is quick and accurate.  The focusing modes available in the D800 are really useful.  The image of Thomas below was taken with face priority AD on - it worked very well and of the 20 images I took only 2 were not spot on.
  • The ergonomics are good - the front AF and Fn (Function) buttons really work well and allow you to quickly change settings when you need to
  • The movie mode produces amazing 1080 HD movies and the focusing is very quick.  However it is difficult to produce a movie with moving subjects - I have tried to take movies of people running and it was difficult to keep them in focus.
  • Having 2 memory cards has proved useful for a number of reasons.  I have set all movies to record to the SD card and used the CF card for photos.  The other main reason having 2 cards slots is great though is that I aways forget to put a card back in the camera - this way there is less chance of doing that!  In terms of the cards and write speeds - I have a SanDisk 32GB SDHC Extreme Pro 95MB/S card (from Amazon) and a SanDisk CF 16GB Extreme Pro 90 MB/s card (from Amazon).  I have seen no difference in performance between the SD and CF cards - so if you are only going to buy one go for the cheaper SD card.
  • The DX crop mode is useful if you want to have a faster frame rate or want to save space.  I haven"t really used it after the 1st day though and don"t think I will use it much going forward.
  • My DX lenses are useless in FX mode (as expected)  See below for the performance of the 17-55mm Lens in FX mode.
  • The battery life is good - I think I will be averaging around 1200 images per charge with lots of viewing of the screen.
  • The time lapse function will be useful and the fact it makes a movie is great.
  • The exposure is good - however I have been under exposing my shots by -0.3EV as it has tended to burn out some highlights.  I prefer that it exposes to the right though and for most of my work I will manually expose photos.  The image below shows how good it is with people - here it didn"t under expose Thomas"s face.
  • The rear screen is exceptional
  • The viewfinder is exceptional

Here is an image I took whilst messing with the AF focus modes on the D800 - this was with face priority AF - it worked amazingly well - even at a strange angle like this.

Thomas - D800 - ISO 1600Thomas - ISO 1600 - Sigma 50mm @ f/1.4

D800 Diary - Day 2

First of all - thanks to all the people that viewed and commented on my day 1 diary. A lot of the photos I post in this blog have higher resolution images in Flickr (Some are full resolution) - I have created a D800 gallery in Flickr >>

Today I have had chance to take a look at the auto focus performance as I photographed my son"s football match.  In the D800 you can set various dynamic area AF modes (9-point, 21-point and 51-point).  I set it to 21-point dynamic auto-focus during the whole of the match and the results were amazing.  Almost all my photos were perfectly in focus using the 70-200mm Nikon VR I lens.  What is really good is when you are in DX mode (which I used for half the match to get 5fps) the tracking points fill a larger part of the final image.

Football Match (1) Shot with D800Saturday Under 8s - ISO 500 - Nikon 70-200 VR I @ 200mm F/3.5 1/8000s

Most of the shots I ended up using for the game where shot in FX mode as I found that the DX mode meant I accidently cropped parts of the images I wanted.  I could sacrifice the 1FPS for the extra area this gave me to play with.  The image below shows the amazing resolving power of the D800.  Click it to open the full resolution image in Flickr.

Football D800 - open full res image in Flickr

Football - D800 - Image 2

 The main benefit of the camera I am finding is the versitility. The resolution means that you can shoot and have the ability to crop later.  The photo below again shows this.

Football Nikon D800 - ISO 500

Football 3 crop Nikon D800 - ISO 500Crop of FX image on Nikon D800 taken with Nikon 70-200mm @ 190mm F/3.5 1/6000s

The detail in the image above is amazing - here is a further crop at 100%.  You have to remember that I am at F/3.5 here - so not all ball is in focus.

100% crop D800

I also played with the HD video during the match - it is obvious though that this will need some practice.  The auto-focus in live view is quick but on moving subjects you need to have a lot of skill.

Early that morning my son had spotted some canadian geese that had landed in the field about 100m from our house.  So I put on the 100-300mm Sigma and took the shot below at ISO 1600 and heavily cropped to get this image.

Canadian Goose - Nikon D800Canadian Goose - ISO 1600 - Nikon D800 with Sigma 100-300mm lens at 300mm f/4 1/4000s (In DX mode)

One things that I have been emailed about by many people is the performance the Nikon 17-55mm F2.8G\AF-S DX IF-ED lens lens and Tokina ATX 116 PRO DX AF11-16mm F/2.8 that I currently use for most of my landscape photography.  I haven"t used then too much yet as I haven"t had the time to go on a morning landscape shoot.  But I can show you some of the results I have got from various trials in DX and FX mode.  The results aren"t great and it is clear I will have to swap these lenses for new FX landscape lenses.

This is the Tokina 11-16mm lens at 11mm.  You have to go down to 15mm before you see no black vignetting - however the corners are unusable.  I did some test and for the Tokina you have to use the 1.5x DX crop mode to get good results.

Tokina 11mm D800 Heavy Vignetting on Tokina 11-16mm wide angle lens at 11mm

Daffs Nikon D800 with Tokina 11mmDaffs - ISO 50 - Nikon D800 with Tokina 11-16mm Lens f/5 1/400s DX mode

The corners on the DX crop are still soft (actually slightly softer than on my D200!) - but the central detail is very good.

Daffs_tokina_585_cropDaffs - ISO 50 - Nikon D800 with Tokina 11-16mm Lens f/5 1/400s DX mode (Central crop)

Finally as the sun set rather than going out and taking landscape photos I decided to take a time lapse movie with the D800.  One thing that is great about this is that it produces a 1080P full HD time lapse automatically.  The results are amazing.  However - one word of caution - the video speeds up at the end as the longer exposures kicked in and the 15s interval was less than the exposure.

For the full 1080P HD version click here >>

Tomorrow I am going to test the D800 out with some studio shots.

 

D800 Diary - Day 1

I have had a D200 for 6 years now and it has been an amazing camera. I have been tempted by the D700 for the last couple of years but always wanted to wait for the next generation camera (this wait went on a little longer than I expected!).

When the D800 was announced I decided to take the plunge and over the next few weeks I am going to write a blog about my experiences with the D800. This is day 1.

Blue Tit - D800 - Sigma 100-300mm F4 LensBlue Tit - ISO 1600 - Sigma 100-300 @ 300mm in DX (effectively 450mm) f/5.6 1/1600s (RAW - processed in Aperture). 

The main type of photography that I do is

  • Landscape Photography - this is my main area of interest
  • People photography (mainly my kids)
  • Sports photography
  • Starting to do more natural history photography

What I do with my photography when I have spent hours editing it!

  • Share on Flickr
  • Enter competitions
  • Print it (up to A2 on Espon printer) and hang it at home / exhibit it

First of all I wanted to address the main reasons that I bought a D800 and why I wanted to upgrade from a D200.

  • I wanted better noise performance – the D200 isn’t great above around ISO 400
  • I wanted to take videos
  • I wanted slightly more resolution as I often crop my photos (however never thought I needed 36 MP)
  • I wanted better dynamic range for landscapes

There are also quite a few things that I haven"t liked about the D200 (this list was difficult to compile as most things have been brilliant!)

  • Dust on the sensor – I have to get it cleaned every 4 months
  • Screen - it is poor quality and makes it difficult to review images
  • Focus problems - I have had a few focus problems on fast moving subjects and in low light
  • Battery life – it is poor and only good for 250 photos

Finally a few points to note

  • This test isn’t an absolute test of the D800 – for that go to dpreview"s great d800 review 
  • This is my opinion as a keen photographer – I maybe wrong – but it is how I see it!

The D800 arrived from Park Cameras at 9:30am.  What I had completely forgotten was that I needed to charge the battery - so 1 hour later (and about 65% charged) I started shooting.  What is immediately obvious is how clear the view finder is and how good the screen is (Very good colour rendition, brightness and sharpness).  You can use it to actually review your images accurately.  So I put on the only normal length lens I had that would have any chance of performing with the D800 and started shooting - the Sigma 50mm F1.4!  All images were shot in RAW (not RAW ).

Some of the images link to Flickr higher resolution versions - so click away!

Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG Lens

This is one of the first few images from the camera.

sigma50emilyISO1000Emily - ISO 400 - Sigma 50mm F/1.4 1/1600s (RAW) - click the image for full resolution image access on Flickr

I then decided to have a run out with the camera.  I left the Sigma 50mm lens on and snapped away

Sigma 50mm and D800 100% crop centreTwo Trees - ISO 50 - Sigma 50mm f6.3 1/640s (RAW - No processing) - CENTRE OF IMAGE

Sigma 50mm and D800 100% crop Top leftTwo Trees - ISO 50 - Sigma 50mm f6.3 1/640s (RAW - No processing) - TOP LEFT

These photos show the performance of the Sigma from centre to edge.  As you can see there is some Chromatic Aberration towards the edge of the shot.

I also wanted to compare the D200 to the D800 even though it is comparing a 6 year old camera to a camera that is just released I wanted to see how much impact the 32 Mp had.

Cheshire Wall - Sigma 50mm D800

Cheshire Wall to Shutlingsloe - ISO 50 - Sigma 50mm f/16 1/6s (RAW)

I took this shot on the D800 with Sigma 50mm and used the 17-55mm Nikkor on the D200 @ 34mm.  The Nikkor lens is far superior - so it isn"t by any means a scientific test.  What it does show though is the level of detail (even with a £400 sigma lens) the D800 can produce.

d800vsd200

Cheshire Wall to Shutlingsloe - D200 (TOP) vs D800 (BOTTOM) D200 is upsized

Ok - the boring stuff over with - onto creating some great images.  I decided to take some natural history shots and where better than the garden!

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Lens

The 70-200mm lens is a great lens - it is pin sharp and produces great Bokeh.

The first thing I tried was shooting in DX mode which you can force the D800 to do.  The photo below is shot in DX mode.  The highlighted crop below is taken from this 15 MP DX image.

Coal Tit Large D800 DX

 

nikon70-200 D800 DX modeGreat Tit - ISO 640 - Nikon 70-200mm @ 200mm in DX so effectively 300mm f/5 1/1250s 

100% crop of D800 DX on 70-200 NikkorGreat Tit - ISO 640 - Nikon 70-200mm @ 200mm in DX so effectively 300mm f/5 1/1250s  (100% crop)

A lot of people have said that hand holding the camera would prove difficult - however here is a snap I took with the 70-200mm lens.  The detail when blown up on screen is stunning!

nikon70-200 D800 testBull! @ ISO 400 Nikon 70-200 @ 200mm f/4 1/2500s

Bull! @ ISO 400 Nikon 70-200 @ 200mm f/4 1/2500s (100% crop)

Sigma 100 - 300 F4 EX DG HSM

I then switched to the Sigma 100 - 300 f4 EX DG HSM and decided to take some video.  I shot this @ 50fps and then created this 50% slow motion video @25fps.  I will investigate the video function a little more tomorrow.

View this video in 720P HD >>

The blue tit image at the start of this post is actually a fairly small crop of the original DX image.

Blue tit crop

Blue Tit - D800 - Sigma 100-300mm F4 Lens Blue Tit - ISO 1600 - Sigma 100-300 @ 300mm in DX (effectively 450mm) f/5.6 1/1600s (RAW - processed in Aperture). 

I also managed to capture a nut hatch!

Nuthatch Sigma 300mm F4 D800Nuthatch - ISO 1250 - Sigma 100-300 @ 300mm in DX (effectively 450mm) f/5 1/1600s (RAW - processed in Aperture). 

Before I invest in a new wide angle landscape lens (probably the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR II AF-S IF SWM Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens) I wanted to see how the Nikon 17-55mm F2.8G\AF-S DX IF-ED lens lens and Tokina ATX 116 PRO DX AF11-16mm F/2.8 that I currently have operates (obviously I can"t use it at 36.2 MP)

I have got some interesting results on both these lenses - but that will have wait for tomorrow as it is getting a bit late now!  Need sleep!

Oh - the battery went down to 32% (from 65%) and I took around 400 photos, 10 videos and used the viewer lots!

Finally - I found a list of lenses that Nikon recommends on the D800 (should anybody be interested in spending a lot of money!)

[table id=1 /]

 

7 brilliant photography apps for the new retina iPad

I have used my iPad 2 (and previous to that iPad 1) for the last couple of years as a great photography tool. It has enabled me to quickly and easily to assess, edit and sort photos after shoots on location and holiday. Although the apps available for the iPad don’t have all the bells and whistles of desktop applications like Photoshop and Aperture they still have a lot of the regular tools like levels, spotting tools and cropping.

More and more I am finding that I use the iPad to edit photos over my iMac - it is great to just mess with ideas whilst sat in front of the TV or sat around (not that happens a lot with 3 small kids!)

I have also been using the iPad 3 for 6 days now. The massive advantage of the new iPad series 3 is the high-definition retina display that allows you to clearly see the detail in all your images and is a great tool when you"re on the road and quickly want to edit and upload photos to sites like Flickr on a blog.

There lot of really good apps out there at the moment the photographers. In this blog I list my favorite 7 from a landscape photographers point of view. I have been using over 30 photo editing apps over the last 12months and these are the 7 apps that I will keep using. They are all good apps – I just use them in different ways.

iPhoto

Download iPhoto from App store >>

This is the newest of the Apps – it was launched at the same time as the new iPad with retina display.

iPhoto has a great interface but lack layers and I found it too slow (even on the new iPad).

iPhoto iPad app

It is great for a basic crop, horizon correction (the straighten tool is such a great interface), and use of the ‘blue skies’ tool. But if you need anything a little more then other apps are much better.

Great for

Cataloging your photos Clever tools like "blue skies" and straighten tool Simple interface Brushes (the repair brush helps fix blemishes really well)

Not so good

If you are in a hurry – it can be slow Doesn"t allow layers

Snapseed

Download Snapseed from App store

Is made by Nik software - for those of you who don"t know a professional photo software company with some pedigree for plug-in tools and noise reduction.

20120320-215913.jpg

It is the simplest of the apps that I use and probably the one that I use most. It doesn’t have anywhere near the features of iPhoto or Filterstorm but it doesn’t need to. You can easily do the basic things well which is great if you want to quickly share some good images on Flickr. It lacks layers, touch-up and the drama tools aren’t great (although on the correct image you do actually get surprisingly good results!)

Great for

Quick and dramatic effects – photos that you want to edit and share quickly whilst on location It is so easy to use and you can produce good photos

Not so good

If you want to do anything sophisticated No history No layers No touch up tool

Filterstorm

Download Filterstorm from App store

This is one of the most powerful tools and lets you do a whole host of powerful editing including layers and layer masks. You need to have time when using it through as it isn"t the quickest app out there. You can create some amazing results and the layer masks are great.

Filterstorm iPad App

Great for

Sophisticated photo editing Layers Layer masks

Not so good

If you are in a rush

Photogene

Download Photogene from App store

This isn’t the best looking of apps but it is powerful app. It is inbetween the simplicity of Snapseed and power of Filterstorm. What I really like about this app is the healing tool. If I have an image that I want to remove spots or touch up then Photogene is the app of choice.

Photogene iPad app

Great for

Touching photos up The pre-defined crop ratios

Not so good

If you want to roll back changes (as you can’t easily see the history) Histogram is a little basic

PhotoSync

Download PhotoSync from App store

This is an invaluable tool as it enables you to wirelessly transfer photos (and vidoes) between your iPad / iPhone and Mac / PC. It is a new discovery and something that I now find invaluable.

PhotoSync iPad app

The more and more I work with photos on the iPad the more I produce results that I want to print and catalogue. I always have good intentions to recreate the photo manipulations in photoshop – but this doesn’t happen. Therefore having a tool like PhotoSync helps me enormously to transfer photos back to my iMac. If I want I can easily transfer photos out of Aperture to the iPad as well.

Flickstackr

Download FlickStackr from App store

This is without doubt my favourite app – it is such a joy to use and a great way to digest the amazing photos that are shared on Flickr.

Flickstackr iPad App

You can do so many things with it that you can do on the website - Collaborate, Upload to Flickr, group your images, search for images and save your favourites.

500px

Download 500px from App store

For those of you who don’t know 500px it is, to quote from their website

“a photo community powered by creative people worldwide that lets you discover, share, buy and sell inspiring photographs”

500px iPad App

The key word in that summary is “inspiring” – if you ever want inspiring to take photos take a look at www.500px.com - it is simply awesome!

The app is equally awesome – just download it as it is free!!!

A note about Photoshop Touch – I didn’t include this very capable app because you can’t edit full resolution images on it. This was a massive oversight in my eyes and something I am sure will be addressed. When it is I will do a full review of Photoshop Touch. In the meantime this is an amazingly good review - http://www.macstories.net/reviews/adobe-photoshop-touch/

A note about RAW images – the iPad doesn’t handle RAW images well. You need to convert them first – which is a big drawback.

Why I haven't upgraded from D200 to D300s or D700 but will upgrade to Nikon D800

If anybody reads www.nikonrumours.com then they will have also heard that Nikon is probably going to launch the D800 anytime soon.  It is expected to have some amazing features a lot of which I have been wanting in my D200 for the last 6 years.  But the D200 is an amazing camera and I have produced some great photos – many of which are on this site or can be found on my gallery on 500px and flickr There have been so many rumours about the Nikon D800 and many sites have reported that it will be a 38MP monster.  I don"t know if any of this is true but there are some things that are certain if Nikon are to keep up with Canon.  It will definitely have a high Megapixel count, it will be fast, it will have good low light performance and it will have a HD movie mode.

So why do I think that the D800 will be the camera that will move me away from my trusty D200? The photography that I mainly undertake is Landscape Photography and this needs

  • Megapixel count
  • Good dynamic range
  • Excellent colour range
  • Robust camera – as often work in difficult conditions
  • Wide angle!

However – I also want more flexibility in my next camera and also want to start to take high quality video diaries of my landscape photography trips in the UK. Things that my next camera must do is

  • Be able to take movies
  • Have better low light performance
  • Better autofocus

The D200 has been a trusty camera since I bought it in December 2005 and I have created many amazing photos.

There are quite a few things I don"t like about the D200 though.

  • Dust on the sensor - I have to get it cleaned every 4 months
  • Screen - it is poor quality and makes it difficult to review images
  • Focus problems - I have had a few focus problems on fast moving subjects and in low light
  • Battery life - it is poor and only good for 250 photos

The key area though is the sensor.  I have been looking to move to a full frame sensor as this has many added advantages to a landscape photographer.  I have never consider this a must though and have looked at other camera over the last few years including

The D300s – Not a great improvement for my type of photography

  • ASP sensor
  • Poor movie mode
  • Not a significant increase in megapixel count - only 12.3 MP

The  D700 – Great low noise but one main problem

  • Doesn’t offer Movie mode – so that was ruled out
  • Not a significant increase in megapixel count - only 12.1 MP

The D7000 – Amazing camera, good 16.2 MP

  • ASP sensor
  • Didn't feel robust when I tried it

The D7000 is an amazing camera.  It has great low noise and is priced very competitively.

This is a great site - http://snapsort.com/compare - where you can compare 2 cameras – take a look for yourself – it has all the important specifications for each camera.

The big issue from going to ASP to full frame is the lens issue. I have a lot of lenses and bought these to match the 1.5x magnification factor.  The lenses that I have are

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 DX (A problem as designed for 1.5x sensor)

Sigma EX 50mm f.4 DG (OK for Full frame)

Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 G DX ((A problem as designed for 1.5x sensor)

Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR (OK for Full frame)

So I will have to invest in 2 new lenses with the D800 for landscape photography.  They will need to be excellent quality lenses too if the megapixel count the D800 is to have is to be believed!

In addition to all this I just like new tech! I have had my D200 now for 6 years and can’t wait to try something new.

So I keep searching google for Nikon D800 in the hope that sometime very soon they will release this much anticipated camera.

Kinder walk and a sunrise

I have been planning a sunrise / sunset trip to the Peaks for some while now.  I don't get a lot of spare time so decided to have a Monday off work and set off early to Edale and take in Mam Tor on the way for Sunrise and then do a reasonable walk on Kinder - finishing with the sunset over the Cheshire plain and over Bosley Cloud. Mam Tor is a fantastic place to shoot the sunrise or sunset as it is easily reached from the road into Edale.  It is a short 10 min walk to the top.

I arrived at the top in almost complete darkness and found a good vantage point for what was to prove the best photo I took all day.  I now find that I use the Tokina 11 - 16mm lens more than any other and if you are careful you can get some stunning results with it.

Sunrise from Mam Tor

Sunrise from Mam Tor

I then parked in Upper Booth and set off up Kinder via Crowden Clough.  This is a steep route up Kinder and more of a scramble up a river bed than a well marked path.  The clouds were very low though - so no luck with any great photos.  I did take a few videos on my iPhone which I thought I would share

Kinder route map

Walked from Upper Booth over Kinder Scout and back down Jacob"s ladder (8 miles)

http://youtu.be/8jGhabP4R2o?hd=1

At the top you really need to be careful and try and follow the river bed - if you go off track (as you can see I did from following my track above in the map) if is easy to be knee deep in peat!

http://youtu.be/4fAWLx86-n0

At Kinder Low the views are impressive as are the rock formations - definitely one to come back to at sunrise!

http://youtu.be/yczAA6TJoWc

 

Edale Valley at sunrise Edale valley

 

Cornwall Coast

I have just returned from my family summer holiday to Cornwall.  This year I actually pushed myself to get out in the evening and explore the coast between Lands End and Cape Cornwall.  We were staying near Sennen Cove (a magnificent beach and great for Surfing). I decided to try out my new Tokina 10-17mm f3.5-f4.5 AT-X lens.  I also have a Nikon 17-55 f2.8 lens which is great but when shooting landscapes I often wanted the extra wide angle the Tokina gives.  So I left the Nikon at home so I would be forced to use the Tokina.

Lands End RSPB lookout (Nr Sennen Cove, Cornwall)

The image above shows the advantage of using the 11mm lens.  However, you do need to be careful with verticals - such as the ones on this lookout.

Heather at Lands End, Cornwall

I had walked over the path between Sennen Cove and Lands End the day before with my family and seen the potential in the vibrantly coloured heather.  It wasn"t an easy shoot to get though as I needed the golden light on the heather, background interest, control the dynamic range left to right on the Lee filters. The 11mm lens allowed me to get great foreground detail.

Crabbing at Sennen Cove, Cornwall

In Sennen Cove I had noticed that the sunset created a great opportunity for some silhouette images.  I didn"t manage to get the shot I was after but the above is the best of the bunch.  If the guy that is crabbing was the other way around that would have been perfect.  This images was taken with a 70-200mm F2.8 Nikon VR lens mounted on a tripod.

I did find the 11mm end of the Tokina lens very very good.  Care needs to be taken with verticals and the horizon as it does create convergence, however it is sharp and produces some crisp images.  One problem I did find was the Lee Polarising filter I have can be seen at the widest end of the lens.  I got round this by using a direct lens mounted filter to polarise the light.

The area between Cape Cornwall and Lands End is amazing - I only wish I could have spend more time there!

 

Photography isn't about the camera

It is amazing how many times people say to me "yeah, but you have such a good camera". What I always say is that it isn"t about the camera. Most of the time nobody believes me and thinks if they get a better camera with more megapixels and bigger a lens they will take better photos.  That isn"t true, successful photography is about 3 basic things. - The light - the most important thing to create a stunning image.  95% of my photos are taken at sun rise or sun set.  The light in an image makes a massive difference and saturates the colours and creates a more dramatic image.

- The composition - All good photos have great composition.  Photos should be easy to look at and your eye should be guided around the image.  Great photos have great composition

- Timing - even landscape photography is about timing.  This maybe the time of year, time of month or time of day.  Timing is crucial - sometimes you have to wait for the correct light, the correct weather or the position of the sun and moon.

I often take photos on my iphone - to record a location I want to go back to.  Ok - the iphone is never going to be great for creating an A2 print.  But - it is amazing the quality of photos that you can get.  Take a look at 3 photos I have taken recently...

St Ives, Cornwall - taken on iPhone 4

St Ives at dusk - Taken with iPhone 4

Millenium wheel, London - Taken with iPhone 4

Millenium Wheel, London - Taken with the iPhone 4

Coniston, Lake District - Taken with iPhone 4.0

Coniston, Lake District - Taken with iPhone 4

All these photos were taken with an iPhone 4 and only cropped - no other editing was done.  They all follow the 3 rules above - light, composition and timing.  So - don"t go and buy a new camera or lens - use what you have got and concentrate more on your technique - you may be suprised!!

One foggy morning

I have finally decided to push myself and get up that little bit earlier and make the most of the morning light on a regular basis.  It is amazing how much photography you can get done when you put your mind to it!  I have found a great  location really close nr Wincle and Bosley - but still haven"t had any great light.  Today wasn't much different - but the mist started to clear and I managed to get some great long lens shots.  I actually thought when I was stuck up on the top that I had miss timed it by about 10mins but when I got back and look at the photos I found a great shot. View towards