D800E – the story so far

First Posted in May 2012

So far so good, after a few weeks of using the D800E I’m starting to get an idea of how to use this camera to best effect. It will always produce a great image with good resolution and detail even hand-held, but with a little extra care and good method it can really pull out some amazing detail. You just have observe a few good habits and good practice. The main one being a good solid tripod, mirror lock up for at least 2 seconds, cable realease, a good quality lens (below using 16 -35 f4 VR and my trusty f2.8 80 – 200 ED) Live view focusing using manual focus (or AF single point) zoomed in, find the Hyperfocal sweet spot at f11 (or f16 at worst for wide stuff) and just bracket the focus around that point and review, although I’m getting good at hitting it first time. My foreground is always a priority so if I have to I compromise the background as in reality it will always be softer, but only slightly. I’ve also read that you should x2 the shutter speed/focal length rule when hand holding. So that’s it to date. The shot below was taken yesterday applying the above technique. Another point to mention is that some people may be put off by the size of the files and their PC/Mac struggling to cope in Lightroom or Photoshop, unless you’re using less that 8Gb of ram and you hard drive is overflowing it may struggle, but I haven’t met any frustration to date. It can get slower once you start creating multiple layers and masks, but this can be managed. Onwards and upwards..

Tenerife Bound

Heading to the winter sun of Tenerife and the dramatic landscapes that exist on this Canerian Island of eternal spring. Spains highest mountain El Teide and the surrounding National Park, along with the lush Anagas mountains in the North East will provide the main focus of my attention. These Tenerife locations will feature in a winter workshop in late 2013 or early 2014.

Lightstalking Croatia

One of my favourite places, I’ve been visiting Croatia since 1993 and it’s one of those places that as soon as you leave you start planning the next trip. So in October I’ve dedicated a trip to pure photography to capture the sense of place that is Croatia. World heritage Plitvice lakes, Island of Cres and the Istrian towns of Rovinj and Motovun are some of my most memorable places and just a sample of what northern Croatia has to offer. Croatia is one of the many places that stimulates the visual senses through the printed image but it really has to be experienced first hand to take in the flavour, history, azzure blue coast and timeless hill top towns that make Croatia something special. Join me in October.

Free Spirit – sad passing

Just a shot note to say my father “Ken” passed away this week. Very sad.

He introduced me to the wonders of the Scottish west coast when I was a boy, teaching me to fly fish, taking me to remote hill lochs to catch wild brown trout and showed me how to just “get on with it” when the rain was pissing down and wind howling by the lochside. He was also a yachtsman and a skipper, and spent some of his best years sailing the wild west coast of Scotland in the 1970’s visiting it’s islands and recounting the stories and adventures to me as I grew up. I get my love of the wild Highland places from him.

This image was taken on the sound of Mull 2 years ago, a place he sailed and new well. He was in every sense a free spirit.

Scotland Outdoors Winners

The good guys at Scotland Outdoors magazine ran a competition last year with two days in the Highlands with yours truly being the prize. Lucky winners Rob and Rachel from Bristol arrived on Friday and we spent the first day around the Cairngorm National Park, conditions weren’t ideal but it was loads of fun photographing the cascades around Glenfeshie and the ruined castle on Loch an Eilean.

Day two and we headed North up into wild and wonderful Inverpolly and Coigach. Cloud rolled in and out and we dodged a couple of showers but generally conditions were excellent, with constantly changing light creating some amazing views and images. Highlights included Loch Lurgainn and Stac Pollaidh, Achnahaird beach and Rhue point.

Above -Achnahaird beach, An empty expanse of beach to explore with Rob and Rachel. The hills of Coigach in the distance behind us. Below-  just after a passing shower we made our way down the lochside to photograph Stac Pollaidh, the cloud did clear but I kind liked this image with the summit cloaked in a lump of passing cloud.

Just before a looming shower I took this image of the beach, almost shooting into the light, I used a 2 stop hard grad to hold back the sky and a Lee big stopper (10 stop) to give me a 30 second exposure and create a more ethereal dynamic to the water. With second the rain hit and we took shelter under a rocky over hang. Some of the best light you’ll experience in the Highlands is just before or just after these frequent but short showers.

My thanks to Rachel and Rob for being good sports and congratulations on winning the competition, I’ll post a couple of their images once I’ve received them. Thanks also to the Lovat Arms Hotel in Beauly for providing  the accommodation and a warm Highland welcome.

Rachel and Rob on Rhu beach.

The Old Man

Even in ordinary light this scene naver fails to impress me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been up to the Sanctuary and wandered around this location, doesn’t matter what the season or how dramatic the light is it always comes up with something new.