Monday, December 31, 2012

Buckingham Palace

Well what grander way is there to end 2012 on than a picture of the palace. Yes the palace. The home of the British Monarchy for many decades now, and a cultural icon of the United Kingdom. Most people are in a bit of a disbelief when I tell them that despite only living about an hour from London, I had never visited Buckingham Palace until last week, when this picture was taken. I don't really know why myself either, I just haven't got round to doing it. I think it's also perhaps though that having a passion for history such as I do, I'm always more keen to visit the older places such as Hampton Court Place or the Tower of London.

The weather was particularly British when I visited, overcast clouds mixed with the occasional light rain, but at least it gave a nice soft light to capturing pictures. Clouds can be made more interesting with HDR anyway. I used Topaz Adjust to bring out more details and colour for the whole scene and blended it in with the original at about 70% opacity.

Hope everyone has a great end to 2012 today and a wonderfully successful 2013! Back on here again tomorrow!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Crypt Beneath Winchester Cathedral

This is exactly what the title says. One of the oldest parts of the historic Winchester Cathedral, the crypt dates back to the Norman times. It's a wonderful place to visit within the Cathedral and was adorned with this sculpture (Sound II by Anthony Gormley) in 1986. Like yesterday's picture, I wasn't able to take a tripod in here, but fortunately there was a solid metal fence separating visitors and the water, which proved a useful stabiliser whilst firing off 3 bracketed shots. In the end though, I chose to use 1 single RAW file to create the HDR, as this simply was the sharpest image possible.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Altar / A Look Back at 2012

Now I honestly was not going to do a 'review' of 2012, but since many other photographers seem to be reflecting their thoughts on the year, I find myself fairly inspired and compelled to do the same. I will try to make it as least boring as possible, with some 'awards' coming up shortly.

2012 itself has been a crazy year for me, mainly away from the photographic world. I got married, bought my first property, lost a job, started a new job and somewhere in between all that, managed to keep up a fairly regular photographic blog. It was a wise choice for me at the end of the year to end my set days for blogging, as I was losing the spark for blogging itself and felt my pictures were just becoming routine, rather than ones I truly loved creating.

With photography itself though, my love for it has continued to grow and grow. I remember watching the film 'Almost Famous' many years ago and at the end of it, the Rolling Stones journalist (the lead character) asks one of the band members he has been following "What do you love about music?" to which he responds "To begin with, everything". This quote always comes to my head when I think about photography. I really love EVERYTHING about it. I'm so interested in many forms of photography and am currently halfway through a course I am undertaking with The Photographic Institute. Photography is where my future lies - it is what I go to bed every night and wake up thinking about in the morning.

So do I feel I have improved at all? Honestly, yes I do. I've held back for a couple of years now, writing any kind of training or tutoring material for this blog, or any website I have had. That isn't strictly true actually, I'm still about two fifths of the way through an HDR tutorial I began writing in the summer, but I started really questioning why I want to write it. I love talking about photography and would always happily show anyone interested how I came to a certain image or look. But I don't think (at the moment anyway) that it is my nature to tell people how to create photography, I've just wanted to focus on producing pictures. Some photographers spend all their time writing new guides, strategies and tutorials, with very little photographic output. And I am not knocking that for one second, if that's what they enjoy doing and it works for them, then great, but for me I would rather produce pictures.

So how do I feel I have improved then? Well because training and practice I think have paid off. It was only yesterday while in London with family and friends that I realised I have stopped thinking in tourist mode when it comes to taking pictures. Even with the famous landmarks, I think about composition and additional interest to the main subject before pressing the shutter button. My personal belief is that you cannot teach this vision, but that with persistence and practice, it simply sinks in. My other key area I believe has improved my photography no end is using manual mode. Yes MANUAL mode. This even at the beginning of the year would have seemed a barren desert to me, but now it is the mode I use for 95% of my pictures. I learnt all about the advantages (indeed necessities) of shooting in manual mode in Photographic Institute course and have never looked back. To be able to meter the scene in-camera and then reflect the exposures accordingly (without auto-bracketing), I believe will improve the dynamic range of your images. I do still use auto-bracketing when doing hand-held HDR's (for those occasions like recently where I have been out with family and friends) but still always use manual mode. Using a manual focus mode and nearly always setting up a tripod now, have also improved my photography. Therefore, my one tip to gain from all this - get out of auto mode! Yes any type of auto mode, that includes Aperture-Priority! The rewards will be shown in your photographic output.

Ok, so those are my thoughts, here are the 'awards' as promised (click on the headings to see the pictures I am talking about):

My photographic highlight of 2012 - Undoubtedly having my picture 'Justice for the 96' be the lead picture in an article entitled 'Eleven stunning pictures of Anfield' on the official Liverpool FC website. Appearing on the front page of Flickr is blown out of the water by appearing on the website of one's beloved football club.

My best photo of 2012 - Probably 'Like a Setting Sun'. One of the first days shooting with my new Nikon D700 produced this picture, which was one of several I took of the blurred sun against the foreground of the wheat, but is the only one where I 'got the shot'. I knew instantly it was a good one.

My worst photo of 2012 - Oh that would be 'Away From it All'. A key reason I switched my set blogging days. I produced it in about a 10 minute time frame I had to blog that day. I would delete it but then the worst photo award would be a tough decision.

My favourite photograph by another photographer - Drumroll please.....this would have to go to 'Cormorant Fisherman' by Conor Macneill. I was truly blown away when I saw this photo. A beautiful combination of HDR, subject and character. A cliché, but absolutely a picture that tells a story.

Best contributor to this site - This one goes to Tim Pursall. Regularly shares his thoughts and opinions on this website and has often stuck by my side when I wrote perhaps a couple of blogs I later regretted. His support and contribution to this site has been fantastic! Thanks Tim! Check out his website TPimages.

Key lesson of 2012 - As stated above, MANUAL MODE!

Hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas and has a great new year! I wish you all the best and much success for 2013! I will have a couple more pictures I want to post before 2012 ends, so will be back on this blog tomorrow and Monday. I wasn't going to do a slide show for 2012, but once the year has ended, I think I may just get round to doing one. Thank you to every single person that has visited this site in 2012, your support as I always like to say, is highly appreciated!

The Altar

Today's picture is one I took the other day whilst visiting Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire. This is an example of an HDR I have had to take hand-held recently, mainly due to the fact that you cannot take tripods in with you. I think it is great that some cathedrals like this one do happily let you take pictures inside though.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google+ Communities / The National Gallery

Well it seems that the latest craze to hit the photography world at the moment has been the introduction of the 'Communities' on Google Plus. I'm not sure how this really came about or how it differs from the groups aspect that was once on there, but nonetheless I have been drawn in like everyone else to become part of the communities that I want to be part of. I have joined 10 communities in fact and some of them are really great. Some of the one's I recommend are The Art of Post-processing, HDR Photographers and of course Trey Ratcliff's Stuck In Customs community.

Now I am well aware that I have in the past had a little dig (not in an angry way, think bucket and spade size) about people who try to 'own' communities of photographers as soon as the next photo social media craze takes place, but without any shame I have set up my own community - UK HDR Photography. This is the only group I am interested in setting up and it's purely to do with my desire to get UK HDR photographers and UK based HDR photography more recognition. There are many great HDR photographers in these Isles and I truly hope that as many of them (maybe you!) join the group as possible, and share their work for us all to enjoy and get inspired! I will be adding content and again would love to see other folks get very active on there as well.

The National Gallery

I have uploaded a picture today, which I have recently 'made over'. This is a single RAW HDR image of The National Gallery in London. It was taken in October 2010, on the same day I took my first ever pictures that I converted into HDR images. I rarely go back to old images, but sometimes I look back and think I can tweek it and add a little something more now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Down at the Marina

Taking a slightly longer break from blogging than I perhaps thought I would, I have returned refreshed and eager to post pictures once more. It was definitely the right choice to switch my blogging habits from 3 set days a week to posting when I'm inspired. The last few days I have been able to work on these pictures with no hinderance on time and have got back the feeling of joy to post pictures again, rather than the chore it can become when you set yourself a weekly quota. This was all about the quality returning to my pictures and hopefully I will achieve that.

So what is 'Down at the Marina' all about? Well I was delighted recently to be commissioned to take photos for the upcoming website of Newbury Marina. I don't know much about Marinas, but I was surprised when I went down there that I had never heard of this place before. It is a well run set up, with all the facilities canal barges, boats and of course the people that live on them need. They are about to launch their official website and came to me to take pictures having seen some of my Canal pictures of Newbury and the surrounding area on the internet.

Being commissioned to to take photos for a certain company or institution is something I know not all photographers are interested in, but I think it's fantastic and I am very grateful for the opportunities. Having not heard of it as I said, I may never have gone down to the Marina to take pictures, and there I was having an absolute blast, finding it immensely enjoyable trying to find further ideas for pictures and taking them. I've been down there on 2 separate occasions; the first couple of pictures from last weekend when it was chilly but yet had a soft muted light, which made metering and finding the right exposure fairly simple, and the third picture was taken a couple of weeks ago when there was some lovely sunshine. In between these 2 weeks was a hell of a lot of 'drizzle' (British people will know what I mean), which is not the best set of circumstances for photography.

The pictures you see on this blog today are all HDR's, something although not unique to me, I certainly feel gives me an edge for corporate and commissioned photography, and I encourage all other HDR photographers to let people know their services are out there. Most of the pictures I provide to Newbury Marina will be non-HDR's, though taking away the artistic aspect of HDR, it was still necessary to employ for some of the pictures, especially ones from inside a canal boat looking out. It helped capture the complete light range of these kind of images.

I'm still finishing my work ready to hand over to Newbury Marina, but I certainly hope to post some more in the near future. I said to them I would use only landscape pictures for my blog for now, but will link to their website when it is up and running, so you can see more of the interior canal barge pictures. As I said, this has been a great experience and has certainly made me take great care over my HDR's, something that has helped me get back to the early days of posting pictures, when I hadn't set myself a weekly quota and when it was genuinely exciting to post pictures I was delighted with.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Where the Red Trees Grow

Back again in Westonbirt Arboretum, this will perhaps be my final image to emerge from my trip there a few weekends ago. I stated on Thursday that there would be a change to my blogging pattern, specifically meaning that I would not blog on set days, but will try to keep up the regularity. Therefore as promised, I have posted this picture on my usual Sunday blog. When I blog again I have not decided, but it won't be very long. As I said on Thursday, this new approach is about posting the right picture, at the right time I'm happy with it, and not just because I have to get a photo ready for my set blogging day. When I'm a professional photographer and have more time on my hands, that may change, but whilst I'm juggling my photography course, as well as my full time job, I don't always have the energy and inspiration to blog on my set days.

Enough of that anyway. You may think today's picture is a bit similar to my 'Underneath the Maple Tree', and it is indeed the same tree. I have taken out the immediate foreground interest in this picture though, and gone for a more authentic and artistic 'far east' look to the photo. This is a Japanese Maple tree, one of the highlights to any visit to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire, which I thoroughly recommend. It's time for me to go out and shoot some new locations now. With Christmas coming up and hopefully (fingers crossed) some frosty winter weather round the corner, there should be inspiration lying all over the place.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Finding a New Path

Uh oh, with a title like that, it sounds like it's going to be one of those 'announcement' blogs. Well it kind of is, but I don't want to make a big deal about it. As you may know, up until now I have been blogging for most of the year on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Well I'm going to change this slightly now. I'm still going to blog regularly, but not have set days when I blog. I had planned to do this in the new year, but now I figure why wait. The main reason for doing this, is simply that I want to focus more on posting quality pictures on this blog, rather than just filling the weekly quota. I have blogged about this before, but now I really do not want to be restrained by my set days of blogging. Sometimes, I have little inspiration to post a picture on say a Tuesday or a Thursday, but yet have to blog because of my title statement. And this is not good for creativity. I notice most other photographers do not have set days for posting new pictures, and I want it to be that way for me as well.

I don't want this to be misinterpreted as a sign that I'll be blogging less, I fully intend to keep this as a regular blog, but yes it will mean that there are times where I post very frequently, and other times less frequently. Again though, it will all be about posting the pictures when I'm happy and want to post them. Just to prove I do not intend the blogging frequency to become less, I have a photo ready and will blog again on Sunday as usual, so do come back!

Today's photo is taken within the Japanese Maple Tree Area of Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. Ok so the title is really about my new blogging pattern, but it is of course entirely applicable to this picture as well. It would have been nicer perhaps if we had visited on a drier day, but late October is a great time of year to visit Westonbirt, though next year I reckon I will go a few weeks earlier.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going Underground

Seems like a long time since I did an 'inner city' shot, so to mix up things a little here on TPWPH (worst abbreviation ever....), I decided to post a picture from back in my D90 days, when travelling round a city taking handheld HDR's was a lot simpler. I can't really walk round taking handheld HDR's with my tank that is the D700 now (too many blurry shots) and to be honest I wouldn't want to, as I'm pretty much attached to the tripod nowadays, which does make your pictures better.

3 bracketed shots, Lightroomed, Photomatixed, Photoshopped, Topazed and finally Nik Colored. I prefer natural looking photos though......What?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dark Days at Lacock Abbey

Another Sunday evening post, as opposed to a morning blog post. Been very busy today, but would not fail to blog on Sunday as standard. It was a very tough choice for a picture to post today. I feel like I am moving on a bit now from the recent batch of Poland and Eastbourne pictures, and now looking for new subjects. I decided to go back a few months to when I visited Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire.

I processed today's picture nearly 4 months and honestly never imagined I would publish it online. It was intended as an artistic experiment really, because I don't believe I have ever (actually I think I have once before) used the 'Burnt Sienna' filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. It is a very unique filter and I imagine would only be used with a very specific type of image. I don't necessarily know what that type is, but nonetheless I took a photo of the front of the abbey, put it through the Burnt Sienna filter, played around with the sliders, and then worked on the picture even more in Lightroom. Having been looking at some of the pictures in my digital collection, my wife and my brother both said they liked this picture, so then I began to get curious what other people may think about it.

It was intended as a rather dark picture (despite the fact it was actually quite bright that day), and while I was processing it, I had the idea of naming it something related to Dante's book (from The Divine Comedy) Inferno. I thought this was unfair however, because A) I have never read Inferno (it's on the reading list) and B) I didn't think it was fair to label a religious building with a connotation of Hell. It has that artistic 'look' that I often try to get from my pictures though, and it has definitely grown on me over the months.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Late Sheep

From enchanting Poland to sheep? Yeah why not! Ok so I am struggling a little with a picture to post today, but can't help but find it a bit fun to combine sheep and HDR. I doubt it will be going in my portfolio section, but hey these guys deserve some 'air time'! I'm worried that if I'm not careful, I'll develop a reputation for pictures involving sunsets and farm animals (such as this picture as well), but how often do you see the 2 in a photograph?

As well as acquire a decent flash, another thing I would like for the new year is to improve my timing for capturing sunsets. I have previously been very guilty at thinking 'well the sun is going down at about 7.30, so I'll make sure I'm there by 7.20', which of course leads to rushing around convincing myself I'm an idiot for missing a great sunset again. This happened when I was in Eastbourne a few weeks ago. Being well away from the cliffs, this was the best opportunity I had for a sunset picture that evening. The sun was going down at such a rapid speed (as it does in the final minute) you could literally watch it move over the horizon. Therefore, I did not have time to set up a tripod, but just fired off some bracketed shots handheld at these sheep while I still had the time. I would file that under the 'if all else fails' section of an HDR tutorial.

Due to that mad rush, it was never the sharpest picture, so I used a couple of filters (such as Glamour Glow) in Nik Color Efex Pro, but still quite happy with the final result.

The new look Halewood Photo

I know I have beaten the drum a little bit over the new look to my website, but just thought I would post a picture of it here, to show you the look in case you hadn't seen it for yourself yet!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Enchanting Part of Poland

Disney title perhaps? Maybe, I was indeed struggling to come up with a title for this picture, especially as the one that kept coming to my mind 'The Land of Krzeszow' had already been used on a previous photo. In the end I couldn't get away from the 'magic kingdom' feel to the picture (maybe that's just me), albeit this being a very real and wonderful place. Yes this is one of my favourite pictures to come out of my recent trip to south west Poland, and an idea I hope of how truly beautiful the landscape and scenery is in this part of the world.

It is has been quite a long time in the making this picture, even the last day or so I have been uploading to my site and then reloading it, because I have made tiny adjustments I think will improve it. I know it can be a dangerous game spending too long processing a picture, but in the end if your heart is telling you it can be improved, then it's best to go with it.

This is a single image taken hand-held from near the top of a hill that overlooks the village of Krzeszow in Poland. I didn't want to have to say it again on this site, but one more time, the wonderful holy building you can see in the picture is the Basilica of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Have I mentioned I got married there recently?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Underneath the Maple Tree

The third part to my Westonbirt Arboretum trilogy, this is more specifically a Japanese Maple tree, one of many they have at the arboretum. As I said on Tuesday, it's anyone's guess what the best time of year to visit the arboretum is, but last weekend was quite a good time to picture these wonderfully coloured maple tress, as there is plenty of colour left on the tress, but a lot on the ground as well. This is one of the rare occasions where I have used the camera's popup flash, which helped give the photo nice foreground details whilst keeping the colours strong in the background. It is on my christmas list (stuff to buy after christmas, not the Father Christmas list) to get a decent flash unit for my camera, as I can see myself taking many more pictures that will benefit from it going forward.

I have mentioned a few times (though can't remember the last time when) I am doing a Photography Institute course at the moment, which is teaching a lot of things I didn't really care to know about before. One of the lessons has been the benefits of shooting in Manual mode, something I can now see myself doing a lot more of, rather than the typical Aperture mode I use for 90% of my shots. I will share  more more in-depth some of my learnings as the weeks go on. makeover

Please head over to to see my new, and may I say more 'professional' look. I know it's easy for photographers to appear that they are being paid by certain photography companies, when they rave about them to death, but if you are interested in setting up a good website, I would recommend the SquareSpace team. I have used them for my site, and continue to find them helpful and equipped with the best tools for photographers on a budget who still want to set up a very professional website.

I'm not one for new year resolutions, but one I think I have vowed to myself, is that I will spend much less time working on websites next year! I seem to lose a weekend or 2 working on them every couple of months, and would now like to invest that time in taking more pictures!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Autumn Way

Trees are in my opinion the hardest subject to introduce HDR techniques to. Even if you are picturing whilst on a tripod, it only takes a minute amount of movement by the branches or leaves of a tree to make the whole post-processing task a (photographic) nightmare. This can be rectified by producing 2 versions of an HDR (as I commonly do), a heavily anti-ghosted version and a non- ghosted version, and then combining the best elements of the 2, which in this case would include the non-moving parts of a tree. That doesn't always work but it helps a lot. Another problem with trees and HDRs though is the patches of bright exposure between the leaves and branches, which can be totally out of sync with the exposure of the bare sky in the rest of the picture. Photographers will probably know what I am talking about here.

Luckily, I did not seem to have many of those problems with today's picture. It was another picture I took from Westonbirt Arboretum at the weekend, and is the kind of picture I wanted to post on Tuesday, but just didn't have the time to do. This tree didn't move at all during the 5 bracketed exposures taken (only 3 were used for the final HDR) and I had very little problems with exposure as well. It is indeed a beautiful tree, though that is about as much information as I have on it. I am no expert on plants, trees, things that don't talk etc, and do not have the patience to go looking on the net for a tree that looks like this, just to know the name of it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Away From it All

Unfortunately, I have very little time to write a blog today and I have had even less time to process many pictures recently. This mini busy period should not last longer than today though, and on Thursday I will have had much more time to work on a few pictures and write a proper blog.

Suffice to say that today's picture was taken at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire where I visited on Sunday. I had planned to visit this place for a long time, though my timing was perhaps not great last weekend. It wasn't raining when we visited, but the heavy rain that had fallen earlier in the day had led to quite a muddy arboretum and being I guess the tail end of Autumn now, a lot of trees were becoming bare. It's still a great place to visit though, with some wonderfully coloured trees and I do have a few pictures I would like to process properly from my trip there. This picture is a bit of minimalist postcard type scene, but one that nonetheless I found interesting when I approached it. It just gave me sense of relaxation in the fall season that I wanted to share.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cuckmere Haven /

Landscape Photography is still probably my most loved genre within photography, but there isn't many I do not like. I'm not a great fan of brushed up studio portraits and I can't see me ever pouring my heart into child or pet photography, but I'd still be willing to give everything a go! I noticed this week that the landscape photographer of the year awards for 2012 were announced, and what a great collection of photographs they were. The winner was a haunting black and white picture taken at Lindisfarne beach, which had superb depth of field to it. My personal favourite was this one, and you can see all the other pictures through that link.

One of my favourite photographers is Charlie Waite and I was delighted to see that he is one of the judges on the panel. His work for me has so much character and that's what I find appealing about all his images. You only have to work at the gallery page (click link) on his website to understand how I am so inspired by his work. Another thing I like, and this is perhaps why I love landscape photography in general, is the picture is what it is, there are no arty farty type messages mixed in or statements, which I have always found off-putting and overrated. There are books you can buy that actually explain to you why a certain photograph is great, even though I reckon 99% of the population see nothing interesting at all. I'd rather appeal to the 99%, not the fickle 1%. And if you have to explain why a photograph is great, then I doubt it's for most people anyway.

Another reason I mentioned Charlie Waite though is that it was through watching him on a TV programme once that led me to want to photograph the scene in today's picture, Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex. I finally had the opportunity to do that a few weeks ago and it is certainly one of the most unique landscapes in the British Isles. The wonderful thing about landscape photography, which includes great landscape such as this, is that it will always be different every time you visit because of the changing time and light, and therefore I see no reason not head back there again.

I wanted to mention my own gallery website today because I have spent the last 2 weeks giving it a bit of a 'service'. It is actually one of the longest running websites I have, though I have never really done much with it. It's hosted by the smugmug guys, which I know are very popular with a lot of photographers but I have tended to have a love/hate relationship with. When I first joined a couple of years ago, I found the functionality very poor, unless you were of course wonderful at entering html and other coding that means jack to me. So it always seemed like a mountain to climb to get a decent website running out of it and many times I did consider cancelling my subscription (had I found that easy to do, I probably would have done it!). But as fate would have it, after appearing on the Liverpool FC website a couple of weeks ago, I had an enquiry from a lady who said she couldn't find anywhere on the web to buy a copy of one of my prints. That made sense because I'd stopped promoting any kind of web-sales site long ago, as I wanted to focus totally on just producing new pictures and seeing where that takes me. I wanted to help as well though, so pointed her to my smugmug site, and indeed like to think I have a very happy customer now.

So then I decided I would try and make something out of this website and am glad I took the effort to do it now. One of the only things that has kept going is the fact that all my photos that appear on this site are hosted from that site. I have a total of 8 galleries there now, the first one of which is simply called 'Blog' where you can find absolutely every picture that has ever appeared on this site. The remaining 7 are taken from my '7 Galleries' that appear on my official website

I am not a shopkeeper or a salesman, but I have totally over-hauled my prices on there, which range from £40 to £300+ for one of the more expensive type print formats. I have seen other peoples smugmug sites and find that they have way too many prices on there, which are simply a minefield for a prospective customer. With that in consideration, there are only 12 separate prices and products on mine, and are all priced in British Sterling (for Queen and country!), though this can be changed in the Buy Photo section.

I have linked it probably one too many times already but if you missed it, here is the link again, I'd love you to have a look!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Red Sky at Night

Returning closer to home now, this church maybe familiar to some people who visit this blog. I posted a previous picture of this church nearly 3 months ago. It is St. Mary's Church in Newbury, only about 5 minutes from where I live. Sometimes I think I shouldn't post a similar picture from the same location, but I think it's ok to have more than 1 picture from the same location and time. It's right that photographers should try different perspectives when photographing a scene, and to be honest I think I prefer this picture than the original one I posted. It gives a wider view of the scene surrounding the church but also covers more of the red clouds than the previous version.

It is a 5 shot HDR, processed in Lightroom, Photomatix, Photoshop and also in Nik Color Efex Pro, my favourite plugin in Lightroom/Photoshop.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gateway to the Basilica

The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Krzeszow is not a name I want to keep writing (for obvious reasons!), but when it is surrounded with so much photographic inspiration, it's very hard to refrain from blogging about it. As the title suggests, this is the entrance to grounds of the Basilica, and as I was taking pictures around the ground that evening, I noticed the sunlight peering through the gate, which gave a fantastic effect against the lightly coloured gateway. The pathway you see in the picture leads directly behind the point of view towards the Basilica (this is shot from within the grounds).

This is a 5 shot HDR (-2 to +2) and was shot handheld with my D700, not easy to do, but as I have mentioned recently, I was having so many problems with my tripod keeling over on me in Poland, that I began to view it as a nuisance. I have since bought a new and much more professional piece of kit.

When I talk about HDR as I have above, and you are still not sure what it is, you can now read the 'What is HDR?' page on my official website This I hope gives you a good basis on what a HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph is.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Lighthouse at Beachy Head

Last time I blogged (Thursday) I displayed a picture with a couple of textures blended in, something I went onto describe is an aspect I do enjoy adding to pictures in Photoshop. I have again used a texture in today's picture but to a much subtler and softer effect. I used the same sea texture I described on Thursday, though have only used it much effect on the sea itself in this picture, and some of the land. This picture is actually more a combination of HDR and texture, than just texture itself. Although the picture on itself was good (and to most old school photographers, probably how they would say it should have been), again I wanted to make it a bit more interesting and make it stand out a bit more. Creating an HDR (from a single RAW file), layer masking it with aspects of the original RAW image, and then gently blending in a texture, helped me get the look I was after with this scene.

This is the famous lighthouse off the Beachy Head cliff, within the South Downs National Park in East Sussex. Sadly, Beachy Head is famous for being a notorious suicide spot, but the natural landscape surrounding the area is a wonderful opportunity for photographers. I was delighted to spend a day here taking pictures of the landscape, my only regret being that I was somewhere else for the evening. I'm sure there would be great pictures to get in the sunset period, so a good reason to go back in future.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Eastbourne Pier at Night

Photoshop is not something I consider a strong skill of mine in my photographic toolbox. I work mainly in Lightroom, but I normally use Photoshop for basic editing that it handles better such as sharpening, noise reduction (via plugins), spot-healing, clone-stamping etc. Of course I also use it a fair bit for layer masking with HDR and the RAW files, but I really don't consider myself knowledgeable on any unique skills within Photoshop. One thing I do like to work with now and then though is textures. In the same way I like HDR for it's ability to give a photo an artistic or painterly feel, the use of blending in a texture can have the same effect.

Today's picture was taken a couple of weeks ago at Eastbourene pier. It was a long exposure (30 seconds) that I originally wanted to keep just as that. However, despite the sea looking nice and smooth, and the lights from the pier having a nice glow to them, I still felt that the picture was a bit empty (especially the blank sky) and needed more to make it interesting. So I started to see how it would look with a texture blended in and I began trying a few out. In the end I have used 2 here. First of all, I have used a sea texture (from a photo I took at Durdle Door last year) for the sea itself. Mixing the smooth sea with the sea texture gave it this impressionist kind of look that I really like. I was going to use the sea texture for the whole picture but I felt it didn't work so well with the sky, so I used a second texture, a rock from the czech republic (I also used it in my Torcello picture), that made it look a bit more appropriate for the night sky.

It really isn't that difficult to blend textures in, you simply have your main picture as 1 layer and the texture as another and then reduce the opacity to about 50% (or however much you like) and then change the blend mode to Overlay, which I feel works the best for textures. You can then use the Eraser tool, again at whatever opacity you feel works best, to eliminate parts of the texture where you do not feel it is necessary (for instance in this picture I kept the sand in the lit foreground largely texture-free). I don't do many tutorials, but I hope that small one helps!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Priest's House

The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been mentioned a few times since I returned from Poland, but I haven't spoken much about the surrounding area. Within the grounds of the Basilica, there is another smaller church (although even older than the Basilica!), a mausoleum, a nun's house and also this, today's picture, the priest's house. If you were to turn 90 degrees right from this picture, you would see the Basilica right in front of you. I'm not sure if it has been officially declared it yet, but the basilica and the surrounding area is to become a world heritage site this year, a very deserving accolade and one I hope draws more attention to this spectacular part of south west Poland. I have been in the Priest's house on a couple of occasions, mainly to sign away any rights I may have had to allow a Church of England boy to marry in a spectacular Catholic basilica in Poland, but it wasn't that much trouble and of course I have no regrets.

This is an HDR picture made up of 4 exposures (the 5th and brightest exposure was useless and unnecessary), which I took handheld due to having tripod troubles. As this was evening, I had to crank the ISO up to about 800, but due to the D700's ISO handling ability, it wasn't a problem. That would not have been the case with my D90. The tripod troubles were caused by bolts coming loose and therefore having unstable legs, and since I have come back to England has busted completely (ball head broke). I don't want to get petty and name the make, but I can safely say that tripod was the worst money I have spent during my time with photography. I had it for about 9 months until it was unusable. The truth be told I shouldn't have bought it in the first place, I don't even like the way it works, but I thought it would at least give me stability for a while. I have now done what I should have done in the first place and bought a decent Manfrotto setup, which is ten times better and will hopefully be my trustworthy tripod for years to come.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Spirit of Autumn

Returning to Poland was the plan for today's blog, but instead we have what is called a change at the 11th hour. Yesterday was one of the most magical 'golden hours' I have ever known, no exaggeration. My new wife and I were coming back from shopping (and who said marriage wouldn't be fun!) when we drove past this church and were both in awe of how great the scenery, coupled with the autumn sunset was. This wasn't a normal sunset though. And this is why photography is special. Because however was the position of the clouds and the sun, it cooked up a strange colour in the sky, a shade of blue that I have never seen in the sky before, mixed with a golden yellow glow. So upon seeing this I had a dilemma. I'm 3 minutes from home, I have no camera with me and I know these moments don't just hang around. My first naive thought was to remind myself to come back to this location same time tomorrow, but of course it doesn't work like that. I've mentioned it before, but Ian Cameron's book 'Transient Light' is all about this. The special kind of light that sometimes occurs that is both unique and rare. You can't just expect it to come again tomorrow, you're lucky if it lasts 10 minutes.

So I decided to race drive carefully home, pick up my camera, and return to the scene, whilst hoping the light still remains. I had more than 1 option as well. Driving further down the road presented a circus that was in town, which would have also been a great subject and was nearer to my new apartment. Having picked up my camera, I began driving back towards the church. Being very aware that this light was not going to last much longer, I decided to drive past the circus and keep going towards the church. The idea of the circus was good, but when I remembered how the church scene looked, I knew it was that or nothing. I got there as the light was still fading and whilst fumbling about with settings in the rush that I was in, managed to fire off a few bracketed shots, of which the HDR scene you see above is the best result I got.

This is St. Mary's church in Thatcham. It is not the same St. Mary's church in Newbury I pictured a couple of months ago at sunset, and I was quite disappointed to learn that the 2 churches, whilst being fairly close to each other, had the same name. But oh well there you go, this one I'm led to believe goes much further back in history, as far back in fact as the Norman times. I should pop down more often actually, it's a great location and only about 3 minutes away. Proof again that you don't have to travel far for photographic inspiration.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cuckmere Gate

First of all, apologies for the blog being so late in the day. I have spent the best part of the last 2 days in Germany and had no wifi access as expected, therefore could not upload a blog. Anyway, I'm sure you are not that interested in that story, so I'll just get on with the photo.

This landscape picture is from Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex. If you read this blog regularly, you will know that the Grass Snake photo I posted on sunday was also taken at Cuckmere Haven. It was for landscape pictures that I went to this place though, and despite visiting during the middle of the day (any advice you read saying you can only take landscape pictures at dawn or dusk should be promptly treated as suspicious, as I think this warrants a crime against your creativity as a photographer), I came away with some pleasing (my opinion of course) photographs. The main attraction is the winding river as it makes its way to the English Channel, which is great to picture from the heights of the surrounding hills. If you stop and look around though, you will find other little gems to picture in the area and this little gate and small waterway made me think of the English countryside, which of course it is a part of.

This is a non-HDR picture, and although I did take 5 bracketed exposures of this scene, I just felt in post-processing that it didn't need the HDR treatment. However, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to find out what it might look like either.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Krzeszów

Easily one of the hardest buildings I have ever tried to photograph, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a very special place to me, as it was here that I was recently married. Yes it beats the local village church! Or I should say an English village church, because Krzeszow is only a small village, and this is how they do their churches! Ok that's not really true, it is indeed a rarity to have a Basilica this massive in a small Polish village, but sometimes that's where these grand holy places turn up. The area itself has switched hands a few times between Poland and Germany over the last 1000 years and I believe this Basilica was part of a Germanic state when it was built between 1728 and 1735. There is an old painting inside of the virgin Mary that dates back to the 13th century and is a holy relic.

As I said at the beginning though, photographing this building is a real challenge. I had a DSLR with my last year when I visited and didn't get any satisfactory close up shots. As you maybe able to tell, getting the whole building in the picture is very far from easy. I was lying down on the ground, nearly as far back in the grounds as possible to get this evening shot and you can still tell the distortion and warping issues you have (after correction I should add). Although I shoot with a full frame camera now, the only way you could make it easier is to shoot with a 14-24mm lens but I still think the distortion and warping issues with that must be immense. There are many single shots like this I have been working on with this church, and I'm sure more will appear but the thing I actually most like about this picture is the person you can see at the bottom and to the left of the Basilica. It gives you an idea of the sheer size of this building, and it was a joy to see my English guests for the wedding completely overwhelmed at the first sight of it.

One thing I did not picture and do not intend to, is the inside of this Basilica. Ok so you aren't supposed to take pictures inside, but nevertheless many people do. It's amazing outside but inside it is simply one of the most stunning buildings I have entered and though I am a photographer, I do not believe a picture could even nearly do it justice. I was delighted to see the photographer Jeremy Cowart express a similar sentiment on Twitter recently, that he couldn't bring himself to picture a sunset he was witnessing, because it was too beautiful and he couldn't hope to do it justice with a photo. That is how I have always felt about the inside of this building and it's great to know I'm not the only one thinks like that!

News Update!

Ok so it is not my intention to brag about any accomplishment I achieve within the photographic world, but like the Grass Snake I spoke about on Sunday, something happened yesterday that completely made my day. My Justice for the 96 picture was selected as the lead photo in an article by Liverpool Football Club entitled 'Eleven Stunning Pictures of Anfield'. This means that my photo is currently appearing on the front page of the website (see picture below)! It never bothered me, but I always thought it would be great recognition to get a photo of mine on the Flickr Front Page but to be honest, appearing on the front page of my beloved football club's website I will take over Flickr any day of the week, month, year and so on forever!

Here is the link to that article

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Natrix natrix...but we just call it a Grass Snake

Although I say I have only developed a passion for photography in the last 2 and a half years, my first love of photography began in my teens. I loved natural history documentaries, especially the legendary David Attenbrough's programmes, and grew a keen interest in wanting to photograph the local wildlife around me. Even though people bought me books on wildlife photography to inspire me more, the fact that digital photography was still years away, and whilst I was still at school, to afford any kind of equipment to get the pictures I was seeing in the books, would have just been unheard of for a 13/14 year old boy. It's easy for me to say now, that out of all the disciplines of photography, I would still rate wildlife photography as the hardest. This is simply because (perhaps along with sport) you do not have time to plan the shot. I know you can go out searching for a subject and plan how the photo will look, but when the subject turns up, you just have to snap away, hoping your settings you selected at lightening speed will pull off a gem amongst the many photos you rapidly fired off. Nearly every photograph even professional photographers take gets rejected, but the ratio of wildlife photographers pictures that are taken compared to what gets published, must be ridiculously small. It's one thing to capture the animal of whatever kind, it's another thing to have an interesting picture of that creature i.e. in a wonderful surrounding, displaying some unusual behaviour, a genius composition etc.

Anyways, that is looking at the hard work of it. The fun side is just saying to myself that this Snake I came across on Cuckmere Haven last weekend, absolutely made my day! I spent the weekend in Eastbourne on a sort of break after my wedding (I don't want to say honeymoon, as that probably won't be for a few months yet), and Cuckmere Haven was the last place I wanted to visit, as I knew it is a favourite location of one of my favourite photographers, Charlie Waite. It's a fantastic landscape to capture, but the last thing I expected to see was a Grass Snake! I was coming down the hill towards the river when this Snake, slithered (I almost wrote sprinted then) out in front of me at speed. Now I have seen Grass Snakes out and about before, but again the moment is normally as fleeting as the speed at which it takes the Snake to find cover in the nearest bush or undergrowth. However, true to it's name, there is nothing but short grass on the hill surrounding Cuckmere haven at this time of year. So I was able to chase it down the hill for a long time, whilst stopping occasionally, to try and get as close to the snake as possible, whilst firing off many pictures.

One thing you have to know about Grass Snakes, is that despite being the largest Snake in the British Isles (we only have 3!), it really is not that big. I've been looking at other pictures of grass snake on the net since, and though there are indeed some great pictures, with interesting surroundings, nearly all of them are cropped below 1000pixels across. I have cropped this picture, but still to just above 3000pixels, because although I could crop in closer and still keep the detail, I wanted to get as much of the snake in the shot as possible. Who knows though, maybe I will put a closer shot in another day. Wildlife photography remains a keen interest of mine, but I know that until I can afford all of that 'glass', I'll still have fun capturing these little opportunities that present themselves.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rural Poland

Getting closer to the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary now, this is clearly different from Tuesday's picture, by being taken on more level ground. It was actually captured the evening before the last picture, but was nonetheless a great opportunity to picture the spectacular Polish landscape, this again being the village of Krzeszow. Whilst out in Poland, the weather for most of the time was very good. Unlike England, you get a much better sense of autumn out there, and indeed all the trees were starting to, or had turned, a beautiful shade of orange and red. With the sun being out a lot, the sunsets in the hilly landscape were quite stunning and I drove a short distance out of the village to get this picture over the misty autumn evening as the sun set.

I'm not always in agreement that you should take your tripod out with you on every photography trip. I often find it can be cumbersome and unnecessary, especially when you are working with daylight. Even HDR's in that case can be done handheld (of course there are other factors that affect that possibility), but with today's picture, a tripod was absolutely necessary. First of all, because the light really was quite low and any handheld shots would have been unsharp and potentially blurry, and secondly, because HDR was essential in this case, to capture all the light and tones of the landscape. So after experimenting with a few different compositions, apertures and ISO's, this is final image I think worked best on all fronts. I think this picture works in black & white as well, but I will perhaps save that one for another day.

Coming up on Sunday: I put my wildlife photographer hat back on, with a picture of a Grass Snake pictured at Cuckmere Haven near Eastbourne last weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Return of HDR - The Land of Krzeszow

Most of the attention I have got for my photography (and that is a big IF I have got any attention) is still probably down to my HDR photos. It's still a relatively new field of photography, though it's roots go back decades. I had never heard of HDR photography until about 2 years ago, just a few months after I developed a passion for digital photography and I really wanted to learn the techniques to produce these artistic and 'different' photographs. It's been an interesting road to follow over the last couple of years, from initially thinking that most HDR photos worked because of the saturation to the already interesting processing, to the current trend which tends to favour a less saturated look (demonstrated very well by the some of the excellent recent photographs by Artie NG on Flickr). My output has tended to be less HDR in the last few months, as I'm back to wanting to capture images through natural photographic techniques, but I still want to be up there producing great HDR photos, and I know that is what drives a lot of other photographer bloggers out there as well.

Which brings me to today's picture, one I took whilst on my recent trip to Poland. This was taken from a small, rebuilt (it was literally just ruins a few years ago) chapel on top of a hill that overlooks the village of Krzeszow (pronounced c-shes-shov). The view you could see from this small church was amazing and I wanted to capture a kind of 'looking through the door' picture. The church you can see in the middle of the picture is the spectacular Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and yes this was the place I was married recently. That itself is not an easy building to photograph close up as it is literally so huge, but the pictures will be coming soon! I know this may have looked better had I not had features such as the ladder and the unhinged panels, but unfortunately I had no control over those things. I'm very glad to have got the picture though, as the light at the time I visited was on my side, and I would have regretted not getting the picture.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

One Half of a Happy Couple

Yes I am back!! Don't want to overdo the emotion on that, I wasn't gone that long. But still, it was a well needed break from blogging and photography, as a way of focusing on my wedding and also to recharge my photographic batteries, so to speak.

So yes there is a big change in my life now, I have since my last blog post, become a married man. The wedding took place last weekend in the village of Krzeszów in south-west Poland. We were married in an absolutely stunning and long-named (of which I cannot remember the full name now) Basilica, but very soon there will be pictures of this special holy place. There are many pictures I took out in Poland, so unlike other times this year, I should not be short of 'material' for a while. I am spending this weekend in Eastbourne as well, so expect quite a few photos to pop up from here in the next few weeks.

Today's picture is one I took the day after the wedding. You would think that I set this shot up, but you would be wrong. My new wife's sister set up our room which we were staying in Poland like this, to celebrate our marriage and just as I was about to go out for the next day's celebrations (2 day wedding celebrations in Poland), I noticed the sun was beaming through the window and onto the bottle of champagne. At about the same time a big light bulb appeared above my head and I knew there was a great shot here. So whilst I did take several pictures from different angles, this picture is one that I knew even from the back of the camera, was the winner.

I hope you like it anyway, I will be resuming normal service now, back on Tuesday, and every Thursday and Sunday after that. It's good to be back!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Time for a Break

Yes, sorry that my announcement wasn't more cheerful (and to avoid making you come back for bad news, I won't announce an announcement again) but I have decided to take a break from blogging for a month. The day I will post again will be Sunday October 7th. I have been toying with the idea of taking a break for a little while now, simply because with my wedding coming up at the end of the month (in Poland), I cannot commit my entire energy to this blog. I have been juggling this blog up with other commitments for a couple of months now and have finally decided to take a break until after the wedding.

It wasn't easy to make the decision to take a little break, but the fact that I have been concentrating on the wedding (and everything that goes with it), means I have not been out that much taking photographs. I have never wanted to post anything on this blog I was not happy with and feel I will be breaking that ideal if I keep going over the next month. I've been committed to posting 3 times a week during this year and will continue to do that, upon my return.

The good news is though, when I do return to this blog in October, I will be more committed and determined than ever to produce fantastic photography. My love for photography has not relented even a little, in fact it is quite the opposite. Photography is dominating nearly all my thoughts (apart from the wedding of course...ssshhh!) these days and I want to progress to a much higher level with it. I have recently undertook a course with The Photography Institute and would love to post my 'assignments' to this blog in the near future. I know it's not fair to expect everyone to just come back to a blog they follow after the blogger takes a break for a month, but I will work hard to make up for my absence with great pictures from Poland and other places I happen to be over the next month.

By the way, this is not an absence from the photographic world in general. I will still be on twitter as usual, and perhaps posting the occasional picture on Flickr (ones I probably already have here).

Though the end of the year is still 4 months away yet, I have decided to post below, what I think are my best photos of the year (earliest first). This is based on viewer response (on here or other websites) by the way, not my own personal opinion. Hope you enjoy them and see you in October!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day at the Museum

The museum in this case being the world famous and historic British Museum in London. This is a photograph I took many months ago, while in the capital for a Christmas bash last year. It is a 3-shot HDR image, but at the very last moment (as I was preparing this blog), I decided to see what it would look like in Black & White, as the colour version just seemed a bit 'normal'. I began processing it further in Silver Efex Pro 2 and thought it's best look was this drawing-type, vintage look. I finished it off by adjusting the shadow colour in Lightroom.

I have an announcement to make on Thursday this week, so hope you will all come back to the blog then!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Walking on the Sands

It's probably a slight misnomer to say 'sands', as Hastings beach where this shot was taken is pretty devoid of sand. Pebble/stone beaches such as this are great for photography though, as they tend to attract less attention on a nice day. Not that that was a problem anyway on the day I visited in November last year, but that as well makes the winter months a great time to visit beaches. A good thing considering we are now heading that direction. This was shot as dusk was approaching and was one of many shots I took that evening while trying to get some long exposure shots.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What makes a good Photography Blog....?

Photography blogs do indeed seem quite common these days. As I have said here before, it seems a natural path for the keen amateur/professional photographer to take, to have their own platform to display their images and I think (obviously) they are wonderful things. I very much enjoy visiting photography blogs, seeing all the new photos people have uploaded and thoughts they have shared. I do though seem to have formed fairly strong opinions recently on what makes a good photography blog/blogger and rather than just keep them to myself, thought I would share them all today. So I'm going to look at it in reverse, i.e what I don't like about photography blogs. Please bear in mind that the following list is just my humble opinion. It's one of the great things about having a photography blog. These are not cast in stone rules and are certainly not meant to criticise anyone in particular. I'm very happy though for everyone to share their thoughts or comment on anything I have said.

So here it goes, in no particular order, these are things I think do not make a good photography blog:

* No interactivity by the blogger whatsoever - This is one that seems to have grated me a little recently. It's not that I want a full thank you and critique of my thoughts if I leave them on your page, but to say nothing to anyone who has posted is just ridiculous. I'm particularly referring to 'celebrity photographers' (which of course is only used within photography circles - most people do not know any photographers they can name, which is a good thing), some of them are lucky to get even 1 comment and still they do not acknowledge that comment. I have been 1 of 2 or 3 people to share my thoughts on a particular blog that has interested me, and the author chooses not to respond to these thoughts. It's actually quite illogical to me. You are never too big not to respond to people commenting on your site. The best photography bloggers do acknowledge comments and respond to thoughts shared.

* Infrequent posting - Yes I know, we are all very busy and nearly all of us have commitments outside the photography world. I know it isn't easy. I promise 3 blogs a week and struggle sometimes to find the inspiration to post. So I do understand the other commitments. But the problem you have to face is, if you do not post for a long time, people are going to stop checking your site for content. If you are going to be away for a while, you may as well just let people know, rather than just leave us guessing what's happened. And yes I do worry.....

* Lack of variety - I am working on this one myself. Rarely does someone post great photo after great photo, so it pays to have other thoughts and concepts to share. How about a video you like? Or a slideshow you have created? Or a blog about the latest photography rumours/releases? Again, I am working on all this like the rest of you, I have just come to realise that the best blogs, have something a bit more to offer than just photos.

* Routine comments - Now this one I know might be a bit controversial. I have to get it off my chest though and for good reason. Because I think it hinders you as a photographer rather than helps you progress. What I mean is there are many blogs out there that have the 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine philosophy'. Now of course I am not saying do not share your thoughts or interact with other bloggers. It's great that these micro communities build up and comment on each other's pictures, but again I refuse to believe you like every single picture a particular person posts. If you just comment on people's posts because they comment on yours, you are not really being honest. I'm only saying this is as I said because it's like the 'American Idol' false belief mentality. As long as people who like you, are telling you are really good, you are deluding yourself and won't become any better. I think there is an unwritten rule with my blogger friends that we comment on pictures we particularly like and that way, we know if it's 'a good one' or not. If I get more than a few comments, I know it's probably a genuinely good picture. I'd like to balance this up by saying I rarely look at a photo and think 'I don't like that'. But if you are going to comment regularly on someone's blog, then you should say what you like and what could be improved (some people are good at that) but I rarely see that.

* Having an agenda against a certain photographer/photography company - This is the last but certainly not least element. Again this one you see mainly in the 'celebrity photographer' arena. I'd love to point out examples but then that might seem to be having an agenda of my own. Needless to say there are well-known photographers who have written huge rants about what they think of another photographer's recent actions/efforts and to me it is as unprofessional as you can get. Over criticising one photo company or site, shows to me you have connections or money coming in from opposite sources as well. Again, I'm not saying don't have an opinion, we are all indeed entitled to it, but there is a difference between sharing your thoughts and looking like a petulant 15 year old whose girlfriend left him. Don't make it personal.....

So those are some of my thoughts. Having written this, I will probably think of many more but very happy anyway to hear your thoughts on what makes a good photography blog.

Today's picture is taken from Hever Castle in Kent, at the magnificent lake within it's grounds.