Day trip to Vernazza

Vernazza al crepusculo
Vernazza at dusk

One of the villages of the Cinque Terre, a rugged stretch of Ligurian coastline to the west of La Spezia, Vernazza is among the most photographed locations on It was therefore on my bucket list for this holiday and part of the reason why we chose to stay in Pisa.

My major concern with this trip was the last leg of the journey. The road to Vernazza from the autostrada looked to be narrow, steep and winding – unforgiving to somebody unfamiliar with it like me – so I found a very good alternative.

My top tip for you is Continue reading »

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Hotel San Ranieri, Pisa – a good base for exploring Tuscany

In early September, my wife and I spent a week exploring Tuscany and used the Hotel San Ranieri on the outskirts of Pisa, as our base. We chose Pisa because it is served by a weekly direct Ryanair flight from our local airport, Bournemouth (at the time of publishing, this route doesn’t appear on its Summer 2015 schedule). It is, moreover, an interesting city in its own right and offers good road connections, both to the heart of Tuscany and northwards to the Cinque Terre in Liguria.

The San Ranieri was our chosen hotel because Continue reading »

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5 tips to make your photos rank high in search results

In August, I published 15 tips to get your photos Popular on As I mentioned, each photo you upload gets 24 hours to rise towards the front page, propelled in that direction by likes, favourites and comments from other community members, after which a 10 point penalty is applied so that ‘fresher’ photos get their turn. Thereafter, to some extent, photos descend into oblivion as their pulse score decays.

Nevertheless, there are a number of ways you can  tailor what is effectively a photo blog post – you create textual content around it – to help people using the site as a stock library. With the advent of 500px Prime licensing, this is becoming increasingly important. Here are my top five tips to get your photos found by potential buyers. Continue reading »

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Ukip steals Tory and Labour core vote

And so, with Douglas Carswell’s landslide victory in Clacton, Ukip has won its first ever MP. It also came close to causing an even greater upset in Greater Manchester, coming within 617 votes of winning the formerly safe Labour seat of Heywood and Middleton.

The former result was predicted from the outset; Mr Carswell had cultivated a large personal following and Ukip performed well in Essex in the European elections in May. The latter, caused by the death of the incumbent MP, was contested by candidates previously  unknown to the electorate.

In their different ways, however,  both contests show that Continue reading »

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15 tips for getting your photo Popular on

I’ve been a member of for about 18 months and have seen many – but by no means all – of my photos ranked as Popular. One of them, Sunlit uploads, made it into the top 15 a couple of weeks ago. In that time, I have looked at the work of many other members and have gained a good idea of what gets to the top of its Popular and why.

Before I share my tips to help you rank higher, here’s a quick summary of Continue reading »

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Sunlit uplands on the Blackdown Hills

Nearly a month ago, I went out on a dawn shoot on the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. My main intention was to capture the sun rising over the Isle valley beneath its eastern escarpment.

The shots I took there were nothing special but on the way, I noticed that the Otter valley on the other side of the ridge was filled with early morning mist. Rather than driving home again, therefore, I took a small detour and found a lane from which I was able to capture several stunning views of the sun rising over the mists. This was the stand-out shot that I uploaded to

Sunlit uplands
Sunlit uplands

In terms of post-processing, I made global adjustments in Lightroom, cloned out some distracting lens flare in Photoshop, applied lens corrections in Dfine 2 from the Google Nik Collection, then finished it off with a soft glow effect in Perfect Effects 8.5 from OnOne. Before doing any of this, though, I added keyword tags and a geo-tag in Lightroom, for the reasons I set out in my recent post for Ordnance Survey.

Very gratifyingly, thanks to hundreds of Likes and Favourites  – with lots of reciprocal appreciation of other photos on my part – it made it into the top 20 on, with my highest ever final ranking of 99.4.

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Guest blog today for Ordnance Survey

I guest blogged today for my employer, Ordnance Survey. My topic is using maps in photography and I explain how I use maps to decide where to shoot, how to find good vantage points and, on my return home, why and how I use Lightroom to geo-tag them.

I hope you enjoy it; do share your thoughts with me either here or on the OS blog.



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