Perhaps more than any other, Autumn is a season for visual metaphor in landscape photography. The sight of leaves turning colour and falling evokes advancing age, maturity, wisdom and looking back wistfully on years gone by and, in particular, the happier times among them.
Tip 1: Make shades of copper and gold the dominant colours in your composition, as in this view of livestock grazing in a field on the Mottisfont Estate in Hampshire, owned by the National Trust:
Tip 2: To amplify the nostalgic metaphor, introduce water: the river of life. This is a view of the stream that runs through the estate:
Tip 3: For additional interest, add another focal point, such as a lone figure or, as here, water rushing over a weir:
This is the start of a culvert that ensures the estate stream does not flood the grounds of the main house; it provided the ideal opportunity for a long-exposure shot. It could be said to represent the turbulence of life-changing events, although that it probably taking symbolism too far!
Tip 4: In taking all of these long-exposure photos in fading, late afternoon sunlight, a tripod is essential to avoid camera shake and permit the use of ISO1OO to minimise noise.
Tip 5: Key to bathing the landscape in a golden autumnal glow is shadow detail and rich saturation. Whilst you can use neutral density filters and gels to achieve these effects in-camera, it is often easier to do so via post-processing in Lightroom or Photohsop.
Each of the photos above trended Popular on 500px.com shortly after upload.
My wife and I spent a week earlier this autumn at the Sol Gavilanes Hotel in Cala Galdana. Following a great holiday there a year ago and being too busy to look at any other options, having moved house and been busy with garden improvements, we booked again with Thomson. We weren’t disappointed. The hotel is very well-managed, clean and comfortable, serving excellent food in both of its buffet restaurants. Unfortunately, it still does not offer free WiFi.
So what was different this time? Most importantly, we took advantage of being able to fly from Bournemouth airport, rather than Gatwick. This cut down our travel time dramatically and meant that we could get a bit of sleep at home before setting off for our early-morning flight (last year, we drove through the night before catching one at a similar time); we were also able to check in for it a little later.
We took a boat trip along the coast. Along the way, we passed some fascinating rock formations, not least the sea arch at Punta de Sant’Aleix.
The voyage was an ideal way to take a look at other beaches along the coast; I have to say, however, that none surpassed our favourite, Cala Mitjana.
My birthday fell half-way through our stay and, on our return to the beach, we were delighted to find that the hotel had left a complimentary bottle of Cava in an ice bucket for us. Along with the fresh fruit left for us a couple of days previously, it was a lovely touch.
Finally, the weather turned a little more unsettled towards the end of our stay: windy but no rain. Whilst it wasn’t so good for sunbathing, I enjoyed dodging higher waves in the surf and we enjoyed a couple of fabulous sunsets.
We were really glad we paid a return visit and are now interested in trying other hotels in the Sol portfolio.
This photo of fireworks was taken in November 2010 from St. Catherine’s Hill, to the south-east of Winchester and captures the colour of the annual firework display staged near the city.
Like others organised in towns and villages around the country, this ostensibly commemorates the foiling of the 1605 ‘Gunpowder Plot’, in which a group of Catholics conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Westminster during the State Opening of that year’s session by King James VI. Guy Fawkes was tried and executed for the crime but he was only a co-conspirator rather than the ring-leader. At least that’s how the tradition started; nowadays, in reality, it’s mainly because most people enjoy a good bonfire and firework display.
This photo was captured as a 30-second exposure at ISO 100, enabling me to capture multiple fireworks in one shot. Out of the camera, the light detail looked blown but backing highlights down to zero in Lightroom enabled me to recapture detail and a lot of colour. Other than cropping to remove distracting street lights, the image didn’t need a huge amound more work. It trended Popular soon after upload to 500px.com.
This photo was taken on a walk in Devon three years ago. The raw file didn’t look very promising – the image was very flat and washed-out – yet Lightroom coaxed vibrant colours and beautiful textures from it.
Having made global adjustments, I turned the exposure down a little, then used the radial filter to highlight the bullocks – young, castrated males, known as steers in the US – in the foreground.
This photo quickly trended as Popular after upload to 500px.com.
Getting solar panels installed is the only home improvement you can make that will actually pay for itself in hard cash. For the cost of a kitchen or bathroom makeover, you will get a miniature power station that will slash your electricity bill and, thanks to the government’s feed-in tariff (FIT), earn you payments of up to about £800 for a 4kW 16-panel installation. Potentially, you could recoup the outlay in about seven years and then receive a similar amount for a further 13 years.
(1) It’s quick to have done; In our case the work took just a day and a half, with scaffolding going up and coming down on the days preceding and following the panel installation.
(2) VAT is charged at only 5%. On all other building work, it should be charged at 20%.
(3) With the addition of an immersun unit, it will help to heat your hot water tank and thereby reduce your gas bill.
(5) It reduces your carbon footprint. Whilst global warming doesn’t exactly seem to be happening – even the Met Office now concedes that we might be in for a decade of dismal summers – avoiding burning fuel unnecessarily makes sense.
In July, we had solar panels fitted to the roof of our house by Finesse Energy of Southampton. Although it cost several thousand Pounds, thanks to the government’s feed-in tariff and reduced electricity bills, we should recoup the outlay in less than ten years. During August, we were able to turn our gas boiler altogether, relying on the solar panels to heat our hot water. Overall, our electricity consumption from the National Grid has halved since having the panels fitted.
If you can finance it from savings, go right ahead; if not, you might be eligible for grants or other support under the terms of the Government’s Green Deal.
One thing to avoid, however, is signing a deal with a company who will install the panels and allow you to benefit from cheap electricity in exchange for collecting the FIT payments you would otherwise have received: they will get by far the bigger benefit and leasing your roof in this way might well complicate matters if and when you come to sell your house.
Yesterday evening, I spent just over £50 buying groceries at Sainsburys in Lordshill, Southampton. I was therefore astounded to be handed this voucher with my receipt:
You read it right; I can use it to redeem a whole penny off my next shop there. More to the point, in this age of smart phones, Big Data and loyalty cards, why are they printing out paper vouchers? I’ve sometimes been handed as many as half a dozen:
you’ve saved a few pence on what you’d have spent at Tesco or Asda (I rarely shop at either)
here are 100 extra points if you buy this (I don’t think I ever do)
here’s 200 extra points if you spend over £30 in your next shop (I’ll probably get to the till and find I’ve spent £29)
…and so on.
It’s therefore no wonder to me that my visits there have become less frequent. Aldi in Romsey stocks nearly everything my wife and I need – and charges less. Getting out of their car park is a lot easier than the horrendous junction you need to negotiate on leaving this branch of Sainsburys.
I have been a loyal customer of Sainsburys for years and probably giving them far more data about me than they deserve or seem to use via their loyalty card. Tannoy announcements endlessly parrot their strapline live well for less during the day (it must drive their staff nuts). With regret, my current interpretation would read buy elsewhere for better value.
Whilst I have photographed Romsey Abbey and the services, concerts and events held there many times over the past few years, this is my best shot so far of its interior, dominated by round Norman arches.
It was taken after the Choral Evensong that concluded this year’s Ethelflaeda Festival. Incense had been used during the service and, bringing into relief the beams from the powerful lights that illuminate the building, it created a magical, almost mystical atmosphere.
I shot a single 13-second exposure at F14 and 100 ISO, then processed it in Lightroom 5 to bring out shadow detail, level it (the new Upright tools in Lightroom are ideal for this) and boost clarity a little.
Shortly after upload, the photo trended as Popular on 500px.com – the first of mine to do so.
‘Bad HDR’, typified by halos around edges and unnatural colours, is a look I abhor. HDR nevertheless has its place in the photographers toolkit; the problem for me hitherto has been that Continue reading »