Monday, February 27, 2006

Some more images from Sable Island

Here are a few more photos from Sable. I am still working my way through them all.

Male grey seals fighting at the surf

Male grey seals fight to establish access to females. Often these fights end as soon as one gets their camera out, but this one happened to start as I sat on the beach with my camera out. The goal of these fights or wrestles, is to bite your opponents hind flippers. These flippers are very important since they provide the seal with propulsion for catching their prey. Once the opponent bites down on the hind flippers, the game is over.

Old East Light at sunset

This is the remains of the old East Lighthouse at sunset. I caught the start of the sunset on south beach and was quite disappointed with it. However, when I got back to the cabin, the sunset had turned quite spectacular but I had nothing to focus on. So I dashed over to the old East Lighthouse to catch the last few minutes. This scene lasted for a matter of minutes. Sunsets require patience.

Erosion of the Big Flat Dune

A couple of years ago, this dune was huge. It was a landmark that we used to navigate with. It had been there at least since 1997 when I first visited the island. One winter, in a matter of months, it was reduced to this sorry sight. I drove past this dune on many occasions but the weather, light and so on was never quite right. On this day it was.

More images will come soon...


Sunday, February 26, 2006


Here are some photographs of sand. On Sable after heavy rain followed by freezing temperatures, high winds blow away the loose sand and create sculptures. These may only last for a morning so the timing to take photographs of these 'sculptures' is important.

Loose sand meets frozen sand

This photograph shows the two 'types' of sand coming together. It was very well defined.


I took this photograph because of its simplicity and the different shades of sand.

Spinning Top

This is an example of how intricate these frozen sculptures can be. Taking this photograph was a bit of a challenge for me and the camera because the wind was still very strong and when I was this low down I literally got sand blasted.

Cliff Edge

Another example of the delicate designs. In this photograph I also like the different shades and colours of the sand particles.

This last photograph was from a high-sided 'tunnel'. There were three in line with each other and each one had a different 'design'. The tunnel shown here was the best of the three. Damian

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Shipwreck, Sable Island, Canada

Shipwreck, Sable Island, Canada

This is a shipwreck that appeared on one of the beaches for just a couple of days before it was covered over. The original photo was in colour but I wanted to see how it would look in Black and White. I used the Channels Mixer to convert it; setting Monochrome and the red, green and blue channels to 35, 55, 10. I played around with these numbers at first but this combination seemed to work best. I made all the necessary adjustments (e.g. Levels adjustments, so on) before doing the conversion. I think this is what Ivan recommended in an earlier discussion. Would be grateful for comments from the Critical Eye....


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some images from Scotland

To take a break from the Sable Island photos I have decided to put up some images from Scotland. There are just three, nothing special, but I like them.

Old pier on Loch Tay

Sue and I were driving around Loch Tay to find some crannogs; ancient scottish dwellings that were built in a loch and partly submerged. It was getting dark and I saw this. I realy like the light.

BruachnaFrithe, The Black Cuillins, Isle of Sky

This is BruachnaFrithe in the Black Cullins of the Isle of Sky. Sue myself and two others hiked up here. The weather was misty so the scene in front of us would, at time, completely disappear. However, when the fog cleared the view was just spectacular. I have many fond memories of that hike.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Sky

This photo is nothing special but I like the image. For me it has a feel-good factor about it. I feel as though I am walking along the road to The Storr.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cambridge Winter Scenes - Part 1

Over the Christmas break, we had a reasonable (by UK standards) amount of snow, certainly enough to create nice winter scenes. I ventured out several mornings before 7am, to try to catch some of these before the masses descended. I had some success, and a couple of the images are presented below.

Cambridge Punt

This first image was a bit lucky. I knew I wanted to come to this part of the river, as it had all the elements of a nice scene: the bridge, the tree, the river and banks with trees to ensure an interesting background. However, sometimes the punts are there and sometimes not. This time, there was only one punt, dutifully obliging with a pleasing angle, in relation to the bridge, tree and bank! In truth, it was slowly rotating round. A series of pictures, with the punt steadily changing it's angle, revealled this one to be the best. Shortly after, a group of swans came by and this completely changed the scene. I was pleased to get this. I converted to black and white, and used a Photoshop filter to create the graduated effect from top to bottom. This just makes the sky less bland and stops the picture being filled with white at the top. I also cropped it to be horizontal, emphasising the length of the punt, and echoing the bridge and trees in the background. Also, it de-emphasised the sky and original foreground, which were of little interest.


This was taken on the same outing, after the punt shot above. I liked the isolated bench, set against the backdrop of the college building (not sure which one...shame on me!). I cropped this to take out the riverbank and other distracting elements, and to place the bench to one side, rather than in the middle. I also did a "portrait" format version of this, but I think this one works best. The path in front of the bench can be seen, which is also a pleasing element in line with the other horizontal features of this composition. You can imagine someone sitting on there, thinking about life or the day ahead.

Any/all comments welcomed.

Beach - cropped

Damian doesn't escape the treatment either...!

I love the beach images that Damian has submitted. The energy of the waves, the brooding or peaceful skies, and the perfect beaches, unspoilt by footprints. Really nice. I think that they can also work if a more horizontal format is used. Without a focus (rock, wood, seal) in the foreground, the sand, however perfect or reflective, looses impact in my opinion. Tightening the format to emphasise the sea rolling in horizontally, and still maintaining the beach and sky, increases it's impact for me. It creates more focus on the dynamic elements, but keeps them in context too. The viewer is engaged in the scene a little more, by forcing the view more deliberately.

Just my view...

Misty Trees - cropped

This is what I meant in my last comment, in relation to cropping the nice image of the misty trees. I think it becomes a tighter composition and eliminates distracting or non-contributing elements top and bottom. Let me know what you think...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A loose collection - Trees Of Arabia

A collection of trees from a recent trip we did to an amazing place called Wadi Bih (approx 1 hour from Dubai). A wadi is essentially a dry river bed. Although this falls far short of the majesty of this valley that runs through the most dry and stark landscape... to illustrate here is a small goat dwarfed by the cliffs.

So - on to the reason for this post. A collection of 3 images of trees from this trip. I found the trees stunning in their ability to exist in such an environment, 50 degress C plus for a couple of months in the year...

This first shot reminded me of a savanna scene. The dust was kicked up with a convoy of Jeeps that had just passed and the mountains in the backdrop had differing shades of blue that were delicate and dramatic.

This one is from the heart of the valley, I was hopeing for this silhouette effect, although it is too strong I think. Perhaps with the wonders of Photoshop it can be improved...

And the final shot of the trilogy is this survivor. I really like the deep blue of the sky with the full moon visable at 3pm. Not completely happy with the image, I feel that the tree should have been in sharp focus with the background less so, however auto-focus is my enemy in this case...

So, once again, very keen to have any comments, advice or criticisms.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sable Island in January - Post 1

Here are some more photos from Sable Island. These were taken within the first week of January.

Sunset on South Beach

This is another sunset photo. It was taken a little later than the one in the previous blog. This appealed to me because of the wet sand arch reflecting the sky and bringing the viewer into the photo. There is less darkness on the RHS so no cropping is required but there is enough to create the desired contrast.

Male Seal in Grass - post editing

After suggestions by Ivan, I spent an hour or so working on this image to remove the long grass stems that were partly covering the face of the seal. I used a combination of the Healing Brush and selecting, copying an area and then pasting it over the stem. For the Healing Brush, I used an elliptical shape which creates a better blend. After doing this I realised that the right eye (which was partly covered over by grass) was dull and dead looking. So I copied the pupil of the left eye over and then used the Healing Brush and a mix of burning and dodging to blend the pupil into the eye.

Tree Trunk in Sand

This is a photo of another piece of trunk partly buried in the sand. Because of the sea and the wind storms , objects like this are uncovered all the time. But they only last for a day or so before they disapear under the sand.

I liked the shape of this trunk and how the pieces of wood interplay. There is also some nice texture revealed in the bark.

Storm at dusk

I find this image striking. The colour and texture of the sand makes this photo. The colour of the sand is from a mix of three types of rock that does not include quartz. Its only found on the South Beach. The light reflecting off the wet sand, the stormy skies and the crashing surf complete the photo.

Sunset over Wallace Lake

As you can see I took lots of photos of the sunset and sunrise. There is a reason for this. Unfortunately, in this season we had little snow and few storms so the really exciting shots with great light were mostly captured at these two times of day. This shot was taken shortly after the sun, as a huge burning orange ball, sank into the sea (not literally). The sky just got better the more you waited. The curvature of the landscape and the 'fingers' of land create contrast and provide boundaries to the lake. I realised while composing shots like this that the human eye (or rather mine) needs to see boundaries. There is no boundary on the left, but there is on the right.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sable Island in December - Post 2

Here are a few more shots from Sable Island that I took in December. Critiscm encouraged.

Crossover Flats Dunescape

This is an area called CrossoverFlats which is so called because it is one of the easier points on the island where one can cross over to the South side. I always find the dunescape appealing; especially when there is a nice sky.

South Beach East Light Cut at sunrise

Our cabin looks out onto the South Beach. In the morning we sit, drink coffee and watch the sun rise. On many mornings I would run out of the cabin to take photos of the rising sun before the sun became too intense. It was usually somewhere between 730 and 8am.

North Beach surf at sunset

The sunset on this day was incredible. Unfortunately, I missed the best (a huge brilliant orange sun sinking below the horizon on the south side) because I got carried away taking photos of the surf in the sunset light. This was one of the two best shots that I got. I like it because the wave is breaking right across the photo.

East Lighthouse

This is the light that can be seen from our cabin on the east side of the island. Just to the right, are some ruins of the previous lighthouse. The dark clumps of what looks like dirt on the dune is peat, presumed to be from the last ice age. In this photo you can also see the east end of the island tailoring off into the distance.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sable Island in December - Post 1

So I have just got back from Sable Island and am slowly sifting through my images to pull out the good ones. I shot 99% of my images in RAW so they require a bit of processing before I get them into photoshop to fine tune. Takes a bit of time but I hope to keep putting up the best images as I get to them. Some of the images are very much Sable but there were lots of images that could have been shot anywhere.

Wood In Sand

This is one of those images that could have been taken on any beach. I like it because of the different colours and textures in the sand and the same in the wood and the light sand takes the viewer to the wood. I filled the frame with the wood because, along with the sand, that is the interesting part of the photo.

Trunk on Beach

Lots of drift wood is brought up onto the north beach. Some of it is huge as is this trunk. When you see the sea play with wood this size as though it was a football, you realise the power of the sea, just feet in front of you. I liked this trunk because it looks and feels huge. There were also small pools in the trunk and different textures and shades of colour. The sky adds to the image as do the small rock particles scattered on the beach. The slope of the trunk takes the viewer in.

Lighthouse at dusk

This is a Sable Island photo. The lighthouse in the background is the east light which is minutes from where our cabin was. We pass by this image everyday. On this occasion, it was dusk and the light and sky were stunning. This was early in the season. Later on, lots of seals filled this area and changed the scene.

Male grey seal

Not far from the image above is this path that leads to our cabin. One day, this large male appeared. He was completely oblivious to me so I could crawl up to him and get quite close without him paying much attention. I love the curvature of the grass which frames this image so well. He also has a nicely curved body which complements the curvature of the grass. His look is also great: like he doesn't give a damn.

Sunset on South Beach

At the end of the day this sunset developed. I took many many pictures of this sunset (probably the best of the season) and quickly chose this one. More will likely appear. I like this one because 1. the colours of the sky are varied and pastel and they reflect very well on the wet sand. 2. The direction of the wet sand takes the viewer into the photo, 3. the beach to the right is darkened so that it creates a contrast but does not pull the viewer away from the main scene of the sunset. It might need a little cropping. 4. the sea adds a nice divide between the sky and beach which I think is needed in a photo like this.

OK. They are just a few photos that I quickly pulled up. More will appear....