Loret Del Mar Spain ISO 100 17mm f/11 1/5th sec
I hope we are all well and have survived the winter. In this news letter I have a selection of images from Spain, Amsterdam and the Dordogne France. My first image was taken on the Spanish coast of Loret del Mar. Not necessarily the first location you might think of for landscape photography, but it does go to show, even in an area better known for its clubs and nightlife, there are shots to be had. Dawn shoots were interesting affairs, dodging groups of drunken young men staggering back to their hotels hotels after the bars had closed. Not quite the the normal peaceful morning vigils I am used to.
Loret del Mar Spain ISO 50 17mm F/11 1/13 sec
After planning a trip to the Auvergne region of France in October, about a week before the trip I totally changed those plans and decided to stay in the Dordogne. The reason for this was the Autumn colours were looking so great round here that I thought it would be a shame to miss them. Working from home like that can often be difficult, as there are so many distractions, but I was determined to not let that happen, and managed to get an unbroken week of photography in, and was happy with the results.
Chateau Montfort Dordogne France ISO 100 34mm f/11 0/6 sec
I loved Amsterdam, though it’s not my first visit. I was there for five days and felt at the end I could have stayed another week, as I was only just getting my eye into the place. On the final day I was seeing so many possibilities for shots and really didn’t want to leave, but the flights were booked and things to be done on my return. I’m sure another trip there will not be too far away.
Amsterdam Holland ISO 100 21mm f/11 Three merged exposures
Towards the end of last year, I decided to seriously upgrade a lot of my equipment. Not that I wasn’t happy with my existing gear, but I had had my eye I on various new bits of kit for a while and felt it was the right time. I’ve replaced my two main lenses I use for landscape work, and the upgrades are worth every penny, showing some real advances in resolution and sharpness, especially round the edges of frame. I decided to bite the bullet and replace my Manfrotto tripod, with a carbon fibre Gitzo, in conjunction with a Gitzo levelling base. Other additions are a new FLM ball head and an L plate for my Canon 1Ds III, which makes changing from landscape to portrait much easier and more stable on the tripod. The Amsterdam trip was my first opportunity to really put all the new gear through its paces and I was very pleased with the results. When you do invest in this type of equipment, it’s just a joy to use in every way and fills you with a sense of confidence shooting in any conditions. To see the full list of this equipment on my website click here.
Amsterdam Holland ISO 100 24mm f/11 Three merged exposures
Amsterdam Holland ISO 125 33mm f/11 30 sec
My May workshops are filling up nicely but I still have a few places free, so please come and join us if you’ve been putting it off. I’m only doing three in May and three in October, this year. To see all my workshop dates click here.
Rijks Museum Amsterdam Holland ISO 50 17mm f/16 124 sec
Seeing as I have just been through the process of buying of lot of new kit, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.
Firstly to say, buying a new lens or camera is a relatively easy task, when its compared with the nightmare of choosing a tripod and head combination, made more difficult because I also wanted a levelling facility, independent from the tripod itself. The choice is so bewildering and confusing, that I’ve only just gotten over the whole traumatic experience.
The two new lenses are testament to the long held belief, that investing in good lenses, is more important that your camera body. My main camera is quite old now, mainly due to that fact that Canon have not bought out a direct replacement for it, but with these two new lenses, it feels like new. Showing that my old lenses, as good as they were, were not pulling out the maximum resolution possible from the camera. So if you are thinking of upgrading your camera, maybe you would get more benefit from just upgrading a lens. I think there is certainly little point in buying a new 22 million pixel camera, and putting a budget lens in front of it, because it just won’t be able to make use of all those pixels available.
When it comes to tripods and heads, there is often a tendency to scrimp a little bit in this department, but if you are serious about tripod work, it doesn’t really make sense. It’s a bit like the lens question. You have a nice camera, with a good lens, but all that definition and resolution is lost by mounting it on a tripod that moves with the slightest gust of wind.
One of the main reasons I went for a carbon fibre tripod, was not so much the saving in weight, though that was welcome, but rather the extra stability. Caron fibre is more rigid than aluminium and will carry greater loads safely. They also dampen down vibrations much better than metal, meaning that a slight movement caused by wind, or passing traffic for example, will calm down much more quickly. Especially when using long exposures, as any slight movement of vibration will result in a soft shot.
A levelling base sits in-between the tripod and the head and allows you to level the camera in every plane quickly, avoiding the painful process of levelling the tripod leg by leg. It’s a joy to use and saves a lot of time. It’s particularly useful if you shoot panoramas.
Of course all of these considerations will come down to finances and how much you would actually use and benefit from this equipment.
Forest of St Julien Dordogne France ISO 100 19mm f/11 1.3 sec