The Rain At Night

A handheld shot of rain falling, made possible with my new Nikon 50mm f/1.4D lens. Shot under a spotlight down at the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

Mrs H and I had gone down to the Barrage to practice some night photography, but unfortunately the weather was against us. We hung around for a bit, hoping for a break in the rain, but it wasn’t to be.

But as Mrs H was packing up her gear, I noticed how a spotlight was picking up and highlighting the falling rain. I managed to find an angle where I could shoot upwards towards the light without getting the lens wet, and fired off several frames. This one was the best.

I kinda like it. It’s definitely a different shot to what I normally do 🙂

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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Bute Park

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I’m supposed to be back at the hospital today for another MRI scan, so my desktop wallpaper today is a much-needed bit of escapism. When you’re stuck in an MRI scanner for 15-20 minutes, they tell you that if you move, they’ll have to start the whole thing all over again. Who wants that? It’s loud (even with the headphones on), you’re in there because you’re hurting, and you’re in there alone.

So when I’m stuck in the scanner, I pass the time by closing my eyes and remembering days like the one when I took this photo, lying on the sweet-smelling grass looking up at the sky through the trees overhead. I find it really helps if I think about this scene before I set off for the hospital … makes it much easier to remember once everything starts.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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The Floodlight

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My wallpaper today is admittedly one of my personal all-time favourite shots, looking up at a floodlight.

I can’t really explain why (and it certainly drives my wife nuts when we’re out with the cameras!) but I’m fascinated by looking at the various things overhead that we just normally don’t bother to look up at. Such as this floodlight. I know for a fact that every day in Swansea hundreds of people walk past this floodlight, but I bet you that hardly anyone ever notices it.

This was taken with my current pocket camera of choice (and a fantastic birthday present from my wife), the Canon IXUS 210, on its first real outing. I’ve been quietly impressed with this camera so far, and the ability to touch the screen and choose where the focal point of the shot will be is perfect for me.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Anthropogenic Crap

Cider bottle left on a wall in Cardiff near Splott and the Magic Roundabout.

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The Trees Through The Window

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This was taken from inside the cafe at Westonbirt Arboretum, just north of Junction 18 of the M4 in Gloucestershire. We went there for the day back in 2004 as a birthday surprise for my wife, who by her own confession much prefers trees to people. We had a great day there (mmm … must be time for another visit this year 🙂 ) and can’t recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys getting out for wonderful walks in the woods.

Whilst we were there, I fooled around a fair bit, taking silly shots like this one with my 4 megapixel Canon IXUS 400 (man, I loved that camera). I’d noticed that the cafe windows were frosted with different motifs such as this leaf shape, and decided to snap through to the outside to see what the resulting photo would look like.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia

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Take the A5 north from Bettws-y-coed, and you’ll find yourself driving along (imho) the single most beautiful stretch of road in all of Wales. Ogwen Valley lies to the east of the mountain passes of Snowdon itself, and is so popular with walkers and climbers that it has its own webcam setup by the local Mountain Rescue team to allow visitors to see what the conditions are like before setting off for a day in the mountains.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

This photo was taken back in 2003, before I had geotagging enabled on my camera, so there’s a bit of guesswork as to exactly where along the A5 this particular shot was taken.

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The Submerged Forest

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Although it looks like some sort of octopus or creature-of-the-deep that has been washed up onto the shore, it’s actually the preserved remains of a tree 🙂

Borth Beach in mid-Wales is an amazing place when the winter storms strip back the sand to uncover ancient trees beneath. I first saw it featured on the BBC’s Coast series, and was captivated by the idea. Amazingly, if you Google for Borth Beach, none of the hits on the first page mention the submerged forest … it seems that most people visit this place during the summer when the trees aren’t visible.

We went in mid-January, and got very lucky indeed with the amount of trees on show that day.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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I like to change my desktop wallpaper regularly, and recently I’ve been sharing my choice with my followers on Flickr. Judging by the Flickr stats, it’s been quite popular, so I’ve decided to start sharing these choices with my blog readers too.

I’m also going to expand my choices to include great photos on Flickr by other photographers that I think deserve a wider audience. If you come across any Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr that you’d like to see me feature, please let me know by leaving a comment here, or dropping me an email or a message on Twitter.

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Roundabouts are normally somewhere between dull and dangerous … either seeking to break up a predominant flow of traffic or simply so overgrown that drivers just can’t see what might be hurtling around from behind the bushes and trees. So when you come across one that’s truly different, it deserves to be celebrated.

Thoughts On The Day

With Mrs H. away all morning at the local iaido class, I didn’t want to be left in the house by myself for several hours. Grabbing my camera gear, I decided to head out to try and track down a rather unusual roundabout Bernie at work had told me about a couple of weeks ago.

Created nearly 20 years ago now, the Magic Roundabout is an art sculpture (installation?) created by Pierre Vivant for the Arts and Regeneration Agency. Built from classic (and some downright unusual too) British road signs, it sits in Ocean Park not far from one of the old Cardiff Bay docks. Ever since I was told about it, I’ve been looking at it on Google Maps, and decided it would make for a short but enjoyable shoot this morning. Besides, I could drive right up to it, which my injured knee appreciated.

It’s a real roundabout intersecting two busy roads, making initial photography a bit of a challenge. Although I took some shots from the footpaths by the road, the best shots were definitely to be had by crossing onto the roundabout itself and getting up close and personal with the sculptures. I can’t say that I was disappointed; it gave me a great excuse to mess about with the depth of field offered by the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D. It’s a lens that I’m still learning how to use effectively.

The Photos

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

Post Production

I’m deliberately trying to re-invent my photography style this year. It’s partly a reaction to the kind of photography I found myself doing towards the middle of 2009 before the car crash, and it’s partly a need for a bit of a change.

I’m trying to achieve two specific things:

  1. Stronger photos that stand on their own, instead of simply accompanying the photo journalism I’ve been doing since starting the Merthyr Road project
  2. More natural photos … which means getting away from HDR once again

To do this, I’m experimenting with different lenses (the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D in this shoot, and soon a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX), and different settings in camera. I’ve stopped shooting in RAW, and gone back to JPEG. Instead of bracketing 5 shots for HDR, I’m now bracketing just 3 shots. The processing I’m doing in Aperture is still about definition and colour management, but I’m spending more time on highlights and shadows instead of just resorting to HDR.

Most of all, I’m trying to follow some kindly advice given to me by a pro photographer after my shoot at the Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall event. During post-production, I’m trying to be ruthless with the photos, seeking out the least number of photos possible to upload, and only uploading those that add something different to the set they belong to. That’s going to be the hardest bit of all for me – on any one day, I tend to be very consistent in the quality of what I shoot.

But what the heck. I can’t get better unless I try 🙂

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Roundabout Ahead

Street sign at dusk, taken down at the regenerated waterfront at Barry Docks.

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