The west coast of Ireland is rugged, raw and a hostile place that is nothing less than stunningly beautiful. If your preference is golden sands, palm trees and tiny waves (no more than a ripple) gently lapping the shore the west coast of Ireland is not for you. If your preference is high rocky cliff faces, intimidating rocks and boulders and powerful white water bashing the coastline you are going to love the west coast of Ireland.
I much prefer the latter over golden sands, palm trees and the like, which is why I traveled to the west coast of Ireland and drove North to South, snapping loads of photos along the way. Below is a small selection of the photos I captured, which I hope goes to show just what the west coast of Ireland is like
All of the above were captured using the Canon 8mm – 15mm fisheye lens. I have to admit that I bought this lens on a whim and it sat on the shelf collecting dust for several months before I decided to have a proper play with it. I have to say that now I have had a proper play with this fisheye lens I think it is awesome and use it loads for landscape and seascape photography. Whilst in Ireland my fisheye lens was permanently attached to the front of my Canon dslr camera.
Rather than write about how good the Canon 8mm – 15mm is I thought it would be easier to post a quick video, as below.
The Canon 8mm – 15mm f4L fisheye lens is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), Amazon (UK) and eBay.
On the face of it photographing classic cars and classic motorcycles at classic vehicle shows should be easy. I mean, the cars and bikes are neatly parked and stationery, and there are no time constraints so you can take it slow compose the shot and get everything the way you want it. It should be easy, but in reality this is not the case and there are many things you have to overcome……
Classic car and classic motorcycle shows are busy places and they attract large crowds comprising people of all ages. Classic car and bike shows are family friendly events, which is all well and good unless you want to take photos that is. Classic car shows are full of young kids running around all over the place, angry and irate parents trying to control their unruly kids, ditherers spending ages right up close to the vehicles, enthusiasts “crawling” all over the vehicles and other classic car owners inspecting the competition. Trying to get a shot of a car without a person close by is very tough and in order to do this you have to hang around and wait for the ideal moment.
Even if there are no people near the car you also have to deal with the reflection of members of the public in the vehicle’s body work. This is not such a problem with classic motorcycles, because the surface area is so small, but it is a big problem when taking photos of the classic cars. Trying to get people far enough away so there are no reflections is not possible, and the problem is made more difficult because the classic car owners clean and polish their vehicles so well.
Another problem is the weather, and there is nothing you can do about this. The sun casts shadows, creates glare and also creates hot-spots. A circular polarizing filter helps to reduce the glare, but it won’t eliminate it entirely. The ideal weather conditions is a dull day, which also helps with the intensity of the people reflections, but you can’t book the weather can you.
The cars and motorcycles at these classic vehicle shows are given a “parking space” and they are always tightly packed in. Trying to get a classic car or bike in the frame without some of the vehicles parked next door is impossible and there is no way you can ask the owners to move the vehicles in to a clear area for a photo. Trying to compose and create a photo that doesn’t look cluttered isn’t easy and you’ll often have to think outside the box and get creative to do this.
Below is a sample of the photos I captured during a local classic car and classic motorcycle show. It was a hot and sunny day and it was rammed with people - there were probably more than usual because it was such a glorious day.
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 24mm - 70mm/ 38.4mm - 112mm / Aperture:- 2.8 - 22/ Min focus:- 15"/ Dimensions:- 3.48" x 4.45"/ Weight:- 28.4 oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $1,750.00/£1,000.00
The 24mm – 70mm zoom lens is ideal for taking classic car photos and with a wide field of view you can get the entire car in the frame whilst being up close and personal to the vehicles. When taking photos at classic car and classic motorcycle shows space is tight and you won’t be able to stand far enough back from the vehicles so a wide angle lens is essential. You can use a wide angle prime lens however I would never use a wide angle lens at a classic car show. With prime lenses you have to “zoom with your feet” and this is not possible with a prime lens. With a zoom lens I can change the framing and composition in situ using the lens’ zoom capability.
The Canon 24mm-70mm f2.8L is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK)
The Norfolk Broads is a system of man-made lakes (“broads”) connected by a series of rivers, streams and canals. Norfolk is a beautiful part of the UK, and is a popular place for tourists (to experience boating holidays), nature lovers and bird watchers amongst others.
If you want to have a go at bird photography the Norfolk Broads is a great place to go, and whilst the birdlife may not seem that exotic (ducks, geese, gulls and coots aren’t as beautiful as the birds of paradise in hotter climates) they do have a certain charm about them and their active lifestyle and mannerisms are good fun to watch and also photograph.
Salhouse Broad is one of the smaller, and hence quieter broads in the Norfolk Broads network and with not much bankside access getting up close and personal to the bird life can be a bit of a challenge. A boat makes life much easier for bird photography, however I didn’t have access to one and had to make do with the small amount of bankside access I had.
Below is a sample of some of the bird photos I managed to capture during a spare hour I had, and whilst I didn’t manage to get photos of many species of bird life I did manage to get a few to give you a taster of what to expect on the Norfolk Broads:-
All of the above photos are available as wall art and on postcards, prints, posters and other different products through the Fine Art America site. Despite its name it is an international site that ships to many countries around the world. The images are also available for digital download for use too.
Essential gear to photograph the "birds of the Norfolk Broads"
Bank side access can be an issue on the Norfolk Broads, and even if you have a boat getting up close and personal to some of the bird life can be tricky. Species like ducks, geese and swans are tame for wild birds (many tourists feed them so they have little fear of humans) but other species such as grebe, king fisher, bittern and heron are extremely shy and nigh on impossible to get close to.
To maximise your chances of getting frame filling shots of birds on the Norfolk Broads having the right gear is essential. Getting a shot of a bird as a small dot in the centre of a huge landscape is easy and you can do this with any (cheap) photography equipment, but getting a photo where the bird fills the frame requires specific gear, and a long reach tele lens in particular.
Below is the equipment I use for photographing birds on the Norfolk Broads.
Being housebound for a while has meant I haven’t had a chance to get out and about with the camera much, and the only opportunity I have is taking indoor type shots. Given the circumstances I thought it the ideal time to have a go at “water splash” photography, which is something I have thought about many times before but never got round to doing it.
Below is a sample of my best shots, and given it was a first attempt I am quite happy with the results, although there is room for improvement.
The photography equipment I used for my water splash photography session comprised:-
Canon 6d. For the best image quality I thought I would use my full frame 6d, rather than my 7d (my wildlife and motor sports camera). “The pros and cons of the Canon 6d” is an article you may find interesting.
Canon 24 – 70 f2.8L lens. Most people use a macro lens for photos like this but given I was shooting in a confined space indoors and wanted a good working distance to give me the best possible chance of getting the subject in frame my 100mm macro lens was too long. The Canon 24 – 70 gave me the ideal focal length, and it is also a tack sharp lens with excellent IQ. “The pros and cons of the Canon 24 – 70 f2.8L” is an article you may find interesting.
Godox Witstro AD360. I could have use two speed lights instead but I thought there’s no point setting up two lower powered lights when one high powered one will do the job. If you have never heard of the Godox Witstro AD360 you may want to check out “Review of the Godox AD360”.
Hahnel Captur Pro. A sensor trigger made the timing easier and reduced the frustration/stress levels. If you want to have a go at water splash photography, or any high speed photography the Hahnel Captur Pro is an essential bit of kit.
Manfrotto tripod. You can’t take these type of photos without using a sturdy tripod, and whilst I use a Manfrotto tripod (which I highly recommend) any sturdy tripod will do.
Pixel Pro shutter release. I use a cheap and cheerful wired shutter release remote, and it does everything I need it to. You can use one of the more expensive wired or wireless remotes if you want, but is it worth spending the extra on a basic bit of kit that has no effect on image quality? I’ll leave you with that one.
I have had the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens for a few weeks now , and whilst I have had the chance to take a few snaps with it I haven’t had the opportunity (until now that is) to get out there and give it a proper test. Thinking about it, my recent trip out with the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens wasn’t a proper test since I had the better half with me, and all she really cared about was finishing off the Christmas shopping. That, combined with a four hour window (which sounds a lot of time but soon flies by) made testing the 40mm pancake lens even more of a challenge.
My line of thought was to take the motor home to the dealer for the repair work, and whilst it was being worked on take a trip to the town centre for a bit of street photography and then stroll down the seafront to look for more photo opportunities. The plan seemed perfect……………..
Christmas is usually a great time to get out and take some photos, however it isn’t on a cold, drizzly and grey day with three days to go in the middle of Yarmouth. The town, as you’d expect was heaving and with so many people barging around getting the last minute Christmas shopping done I found myself constantly in the way, constantly being barged in to and constantly being sworn at. And I always thought Great Yarmouth was such a friendly place! Even the Great Yarmouth market traders who are usually more than happy to pose for a photo or two were offish but then I guess they do have to maximise the festive period and earn as much as they can.
After several (failed) shots in the town it was time to venture down the seafront, which was far quieter. In fact, the seafront was too quiet and it was like a ghost town. Most of the shops down Regent Road (the street from the town centre to the seafront) which is a bustling shopping street in the summer months had the shutters well and truly down – so no interesting photo opportunities there. Hmmmmm………………………………. The seafront didn’t bring much inspiration either, and with the better half getting bored and keen to get back to the shops we walked a little way up the seafront and then headed back to the town centre.
I wouldn’t call the trip out a success however I did manage to get a few shots, as below:-
Canon 40mm f2.8 STM sample photos
(Click on the thumbnail to see the image in full resolution)
The trip put with the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens has shown me this lens has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to experimenting with it in the future. I used the 40mm lens on my full frame Canon 6d see the pros and cons here) and it was a light, compact and discreet set up. The image quality of the lens is spot on, and pretty darn sharp especially when you consider the cost of the lens. I paid £127 from Amazon although it now seems the price has increased a little. Even with the price increase this lens is still exceptional value for money and well worth buying.
And here it is - the "tiny" Canon 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens
Even though I live close to the coast it is not on my doorstop, and a trip to the beach is a two and a half hour cycle ride (which is not much fun and pretty painful carrying one of my dslr cameras, lens, filters and tripod) or an hour in the car. As much as I love the coast “normal” life (i.e. work, house maintenance and family) leaves me precious little time to go, which is shame, but something I am actively going to try and change in the future.
On those rare occasions I get to the beach I only ever seem to take my Canon 16 – 35 f4L IS wide angle lens (when I use the full frame Canon 6d) or my Canon 10 – 22 f3.5 EF-S (when I use the Canon 7d). Whenever I think of coastal and beach photos I automatically think of wide long exposure shots of milky water, rocks and sunsets/sunrises, or the other extreme of waves crashing against rocks/jetties/piers and angry skies. Do an image search on “coastal shots” or “beach shots” and most of them will be this type of shot. Because of this I admit I am a bit blinkered so when I do get the opportunity to get to the coast I instantly reach for the wide angle lens, Hitech square filter holder, Zomei 10 stop ND filter and a couple of ND grads to make sure I don’t miss out on the opportunity to get those wide shots. I know I should also take my Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens, especially since my favorite beach has sections of shingle and rock pools, together with a fisherman’s storage area full of fishing gear, nets, lobster pots, crab pots, fenders and other bits and pieces. There are plenty of unique coastal photo opportunities on my favorite beach but I have yet to properly take advantage of this. Again, this is something I plan to rectify in the future.
BEACH & COASTAL GALLERIES
All of the above photos are available on postcards, posters, wall art and other similar products from Zazzle - simply click on the image you are interested in.
The primary reason for the trip was to get out of the city and in to the countryside with my better half as we were both bouncing off the walls, however whilst we were out in the country I thought it was a good opportunity to try and record the colors of autumn (fall) since this is my favorite time of year, and due to some issues I couldn’t get out with the camera last autumn.
It’s not fair on my wife to take all my photography kit and have a proper photo session when we are out together, and she has (in the past) got pretty bored and p****d off standing around whilst I set everything up, play around with filters etc. and fire off a few shots. Because of this I traveled with the minimum amount of gear, comprising one camera, one lens, a flash, remote shutter release cable and a travel tripod. With the intention of taking photos of trees, golden leaves and such shots I packed the wide angle lens, a Canon 16 – 35 F4L IS, and thought that would be all I needed.
Whilst walking through the wood I found I was more interested in the different types of fungi and wild mushrooms than taking wide angle shots of trees in their autumn colours (which let’s face it, has been done to death – although I did bag a few) which was a bit of a pain because I left my macro lens at home. Fortunately, I did have a flash with me (it is something I always leave in my camera bag) so I did at least have some chance of lighting them, but the ultra-wide angle lens was far from the best choice.
Photography is often a compromise and you have to make do with the equipment you have, and that’s what I did. Even though I only had the wide angle lens with me I thought I would at least have a go at photographing the fungi and wild mushrooms, and the results together with a few of the “tree” type shots are below.
All of the above were captured using a Canon 16 – 35 F4L IS lens attached to a Canon 6d. The tree shots were captured with the camera on a tripod (the Manfrotto Befree) and the fungi/wild mushroom shots were all taken handheld and using a Godox Ving speed light.
I have to admit my keeper rate of close up fungi and wild mushroom shots wasn’t very high, but I was surprised nonetheless. I mean, I had never thought of using a wide angle lens to take close up photos of wild mushrooms and fungi. Given the choice I would obviously use a macro lens but given I only had the wide angle lens with me I don’t think they ended up too shabby at all……..
All of the photos above are available from Fine Art America – simply click on the image that interests you.
I have been told many times the Lake District is a stunning location and a great place to go and get some beautiful landscape shots, so when my wife booked a week trip in the motor home I was pretty excited to finally head north and try to capture the Lake District in all its glory.
I assumed the Lake District was the perfect place for long exposure photography so I got a scaled down landscape kit together comprising of the bare minimum – i.e. my Canon 6d, Canon 16 – 35 f4L IS lens, filter holder, graduated ND filters, Zomei 10 stop ND filter, remote shutter release and Manfrotto Befree travel tripod, in preparation for the trip up North.
In preparation for the trip I spent a couple of weeks getting to know my kit intimately (so I knew exactly what I was doing) as well as reacquainting myself with setting custom white balances (a little tricky with 10 stop ND filters) and also the hyper focal distances at various apertures. I wanted to make sure when I got out in the Lakes I could spend time composing and taking photos rather than wasting valuable time trying to remember how to change various settings.
We stayed on a small campsite at Lake Coniston in the southern Lake District, and the views and scenery didn’t disappoint. Everything I needed for long exposure photography was there, i.e. water, foreground interest, background interest and of course the sky, but the weather was terrible. The first day, whilst dry was very windy and the travel tripod simply isn’t man enough in the wind to hold a full landscape set up (even a small and lightweight one like mine) for long exposures. Basically, I didn’t trust my set up would be safe enough, which was a real shame.
We stayed at Lake Coniston for an entire week and not one day was suitable for long exposure photography. If it wasn’t heaving it down with rain it was blowing a gale, or even both. There were some breaks in the weather but either side of the quieter periods there was bad weather, so I never had the chance to use the landscape kit.
I did manage to get the camera out during my visit, but not that much and here is a sample of my photos:-
Some of the photos above were taken with my Canon G1X (a camera I have on me at all times – unless I am carrying the Canon 6d of course) and some of them are taken with my Canon 6d and Canon 28 – 300L IS f3.5 – 5.6 lens.
The Canon 6d and 28 – 300 lens is my walkabout camera gear, and whilst the lens is a beast that is big and heavy, it isn’t too bad carrying it around in the Lowerpro top loader bag. Any other bag or case the set up does make parts of my body ache (and sometimes hurt) but using the top loader bag I can carry it around for several hours totally pain free.
Even though I am very disappointed not to have used the landscape kit in the Lake District I am not planning to go back any time soon for another try. I didn’t enjoy the week at Lake Coniston at all (for the full report of my stay take a look at this post) and I didn’t warm to the place or the Lake District at all.
My latest gallery comprises a few photos I captured during a family day out at Banham Zoo in Norfolk. I have to admit having the family around (including an over active and excited four year old running all over the place) isn’t ideal for trying to capture decent animal photos, and I didn’t get the time to hang around each of the enclosures as long as I wanted to.
As well as having to be with the family during the day the other big issue was the animals simply weren’t playing ball, and were either sunbathing (it was a hot and sunny day, which is rare for England), sleeping, hiding in their enclosures, had their back to the viewing area or were so close to the bars it was impossible to throw them out of focus using a wide aperture. I have been to the zoo at times where the animals play up to the camera and want to pose, but on this trip the animals simply didn’t want to know.
Most of the time it is other visitors that make zoo photography difficult, however this was not the case on this trip. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few people milling around looking at the animals but the zoo wasn’t that busy and there were no problems getting to the front of the viewing areas.
Given the circumstances capturing that “magical” photo wasn’t going to happen, however I gave it my best shot and below is a selection of the photos I did manage to get. (To see the photos in full resolution click on the link)
All of the photos above were taken using a Canon 6d combined with my general purpose Canon 28-300L IS lens. With a 28mm wide end and 300mm at the long end, this lens is useful for capturing a variety of different photos. I know there are lenses with “better” image quality than the Canon 28-300L IS lens but these lenses don’t have the same range of focal lengths. The other thing I need to point out is the image quality of the Canon 28-300L IS lens is superb (it is an L grade professional lens after all) and only marginally less than the other lenses I am referring to. In the real world (i.e. without going pixel peeping on the computer) you would hardly notice the difference in image quality between the Canon 28-300L IS lens and the other lenses I am referring to.
The Canon 6d is a great camera, and I love full frame however the speed of the auto focus lets it down, and this was an issue taking photos of animals at Banham Zoo. I do own a Canon 7d and I could have used this for faster (and more accurate auto focus) as well as increasing the 300mm long end to 480mm (which would have been useful) but then I would have lost the full frame quality and the 28mm wide end (which would have increased to 45mm). The only way around this is to use the Canon 1DX (a full frame camera with fast auto focus) but I don’t have the thousands of pounds needed to buy this flagship camera. Photography is all about compromising in these situations, and making the most of what you have, and that is what I tried to do.
All of the photos above are available to buy as prints or wall art, and are available on a range of products including post cards, bags, phone cases, soft furnishings etc. and if you want to take a look feel free to take a look at this site.
The BSB is Snetterton’s premier race event and with a day off work I decided to get down track side on the Friday for free practice and qualifying. It was a wet and windy morning, however the clouds started to break and the sun made an appearance resulting in dry sessions, which was good news for the riders.
Free practice is usually a quiet day however this was not the case this year as the spectators (many of whom had a camera) were out in force. The large number of people made taking photos more challenging than it has been in previous years, however I managed to capture the main super bike riders, as follows:-
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.