Saturday, 15 October 2016

Levadas - Maderia

We're just back from our second visit to the Portugese island of Madeira - a steep sided (and hopefully) extinct volcano located about 300 miles from the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The island's agriculture is supported by the capture and distribution of rainwater by well over 1000 miles of levadas or rainwater channels. That's a lot of levadas given that the island is only about 300 square miles (800 square kilometres). They have been built over the last several hundred years and deliver water from around the island to where it's needed for agriculture. Many of the levadas have paths by their side so can be walked, and as they're almost on the level they are mostly very easy. Except that, because they run around the contours of the very steep volcano, in places they have precipitous drops - often without guard rails for protection. And here and there they flow through tunnels, some of which are easily long enough (many 100s of meters or more) to require a good torch. So, not for those a little unsteady on their feet or who don't have a good head for heights, or who would feel claustrophobic hiking through very dark restricted height tunnels.

This is a selection of images from this year's trip plus one from 3 years ago.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Website Updated - New Images from USA & Bredon Hill

I've just updated my website with images from my recent visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and The Cascade Mountains of Washington State - linked here.
The Rain's Coming
And I've added a few images to my "On Bredon Hill - 2016" - the one image per hike page - linked here. I've now completed 32 Bredon Hill photo-hikes so far this year. My blog of this photography project which contains up to several images from each hike is linked here.
Three Tree Sunrise

Sunday, 12 June 2016

27 hikes on Bredon Hill so far this year ...

I've now completed 27 photohikes on Bredon Hill since starting on 1st January. After each hike I post a few photographs from the day on my Bredon Hill blog - linked here.

Circumhorizon Arc ...

I recently returned from a road trip that took in The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Seattle and the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Whilst staying in Chelan I was lucky to see a spectacular Circumhorizon Arc just above the horizon directly below the sun. I photographed it (of course) and sent it to Les Cowley who runs the superb website Atmospheric Optics. He immediately let me know that it was a particularly good example and that he’d use it for a forthcoming “Optics Picture of the Day (OPOD)”. He posted it this afternoon, here are the links:

Webesite Home Page:
OPOD - it’s here for the next few days:
Permanent location if you miss it as the OPOD during the next few days:

It was spectacular - the first time I’ve ever seen one.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Now on Day 12 of my "On Bredon Hill - 2016" project

Today I completed my 12th hiking and photography outing "On Bredon Hill - 2016" since starting on 1st January this year. By now I must have covered about 80% of the public and permissive path on the hill and have so far published 50 photographs on my project blog: linked here: So I'm just starting covering some ground for the second time which is where the challenge comes - to find new images from where I've been before. This will be partly facilitated by the changing seasons, by my aiming to walk in 'the other direction' and at different times of the day and of course in different weather and light. In addition to the photographs from each day's hike I select just one from each day and post it on my website here: - 12 in all so far.
Reflected Oak

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Image Aspect Ratios and Camera Design

I'm a photographer who is in no way wedded to any particular aspect ratio. I will trim my images to whatever I consider suits them best, whether or not they fall to one of the recognised ratios or some non-integer ratio. But, I resent losing pixels. In particular, square format images have to be sliced out of an already elongated 3:2 ratio image - 1/3 of the sensor's pixels having to be ditched.

Easily selectable aspect ratios of maximum pixel count in digital cameras raises some questions about higher-end camera design. I've been mulling this over for a while and concluded that some fundamental changes to camera design would be enormously beneficial.

First a few statements of the obvious:
  • Sensors are rectangular with width greater than height.
  • One always has to turn a camera through 90 degrees to take a portrait orientated image.
  • All cameras are designed to handle most easily in landscape format orientation.
  • Some alternative image aspect ratios may be available via menu options but they are limited and clumsy to select.
  • All lenses throw a circular image around a rectangular sensor.
It's the last of these statements that suggests a far better approach to camera design and handling. Cameras ought to be able to take advantage of the full image circle by having a circular sensor to capture all of the image data. In-camera software should enable easily selectable aspect ratios (predefined or infinitely variable) via a simple dial option which accordingly masks the EVF and screen. There are many positives to this but there are two of real significance:
  1. Utilising the full image circle means that the maximum possible image size (pixels) would always be available for every selected aspect ratio within the image circle.
  2. Portrait oriented images could be made whilst the camera remains in the comfortable 'horizontal' position.
Clearly this requires a new approach to some significant aspects of camera body design, but not lens design. Larger sensors would be required because they would now need the full image circle to be accommodated rather than the 3:2 rectangle. And consequently the EVF and screen would need to be square so that the selected aspect ratio is shown at its maximum size whilst masked.

Additionally, the in-camera software should offer the photographer the option to save the full circular image raw data along with the crop decision made at the time of capture. This would allow an alternative crop decision to be made later. Amendments to processing software to accommodate this would be required. No doubt, Adobe and the like would oblige!

An innovation such as this would be a huge step forward which, for some (probably many) serious photographers, would be irresistible.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

My new Photo Project: On Bredon Hill - 2016

After completing my last photography project in September of last year - Photohiking The Thames Path (linked here) I've been looking around for a new one which involves far less driving. Bredon Hill is a short distance from home and is where over the last 30 years I've occasionally walked. I've decided to see how I can portray the hill throughout 2016, taking about a hike a week throughout the year: all weathers (perhaps not torrential rain), all seasons, any time of the day and night. At the time of this post I've completed my first 4 days. As with my Thames Path project I've set up a blog where I'll endeavour to post some photographs from each day's hike along with just a few words reflecting the day.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Hebrides, Edinburgh, Northumberland, York, Peak District

We recently returned from a photo road trip with four friends from the US. We met in Glasgow then headed off to Oban and the ferry to Lochboisdale on South Uist. Working our way north over the next few days through North Uist, Benbecula, Berneray, Harris and Lewis we were delighted not to be assaulted by the worst of weather that we were really only half prepared for. Indeed the weather was largely benign making for all round excellent and varied photographic conditions. We departed Tarbert for Uig and then spent a couple of days on Skye where the good weather continued.

Enjoying a drink at 10pm in the bar of the Lochmaddy Hotel someone rushed in shouting "they're out, they're out". It was the Aurora Borealis. I couldn't have arranged it better if I'd tried!

After Skye was a stop in Fort William then on to Edinburgh for a few days, at which point all but two of us departed for home. The next few days were spent meandering through Northumberland, York and The Peak District on our way back to my home in the Midlands. Two and a half weeks of excellent photography, good company, good food and drink, with good weather to boot. What more could one reasonably wish for?

My images from The Hebrides are linked here on my website in the Hebrides and Western Scotland gallery. A few of those images and some from Edinburgh and beyond are linked here in my New Images gallery.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Completed - My 'Photohiking the Thames Path' project.

Just a short post here to say that after almost 2 years, last week I completed my 'Photohiking the Thames Path' project. It has a blog all to itself (see here) where I've been posting photographs from each of the days I've hiked along with a short commentary on the day. I've just made my final post there reflecting on the last 2 years.

Friday, 26 June 2015


We recently spent two weeks in Puglia - the heel of Italy. Trulli (singular - Trullo), the small conical roofed buildings, are a distinctive feature of the region, particularly around Alberobello. They date back to the 16th and 17th centuries when they were the homes of the poorer families. They still serve as homes, some having been made particularly luxurious. But there are many in various stages of neglect or dereliction. The conical roof has an interesting history. In this region of Italy there was a roof tax - similar to the window tax in Britain. But Puglians were smart - the conical roof could be very rapidly removed whenever there was a roof tax inspector in the region, thereby avoiding the tax. And then rebuilt promptly after the roof tax inspector had departed. More information here.
Click on any image to see full size views of the images.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Website Update + New Camera

Two days ago I completed my 20th day hiking The Thames Path. The latest photos and blog entry are linked here. And I've now updated the New Images and Home Page images on my website to reflect the progress I've made so far. I've covered 125 of the 184 miles - but as I hike in both directions it's really 250 of the 368 miles.

Under the M4
I recently sold my aging but excellent condition darkroom equipment and traded in my Canon 7D and lenses (after 5.5 years of excellent service) to help with the purchase of a new Sony A7II and two Zeiss zoom lenses. So far so good, superb image quality and excellent dynamic range which to me is highly important. The images from Day 20 were my first with the A7II after a few days playing with the camera at home to get familiar with its huge range of configurable settings. I'm getting there ...