I think I’ve found my calling! Well, at least for this particular time in my life. In the last few months I’ve been engaged in flower photography and loving it. Who would have thought. Here’s just one of my images for you to enjoy.
52 for 2021 Week 45 Nuns Cross Fm & Crazywell Pool
14 Nov 2021 9:53AM
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Unique : 60
This week, once again accompanied by Mrs T, I headed off to Nuns Cross Farm via Down Tor Stone Circle then Back to Norsworthy Bridge via Crazywell Pool. I took the Bronica 6×6 Film kit loaded with Portra 400 to try to get some film shots along the way. The weather changeable with drizzle and wind for much of the walk, not forecast.
Down Tor Tree.
Nuns Cross Farm
We set off from Norsworthy Bridge car park in cloudy sunshine though the sun was quite low and not very strong.
We went up to Snappers Tor aka The Miniscule Sausage Area where I first set up the Bronica, however, by the time I was set up and metered etc the drizzle came in on a wind into the lens so a shot wasnt possible. We thought we might wait it out but a party of School children arrived and climbed all over the rocks. I had already taken a shot on my Fuji X-T2 though.
We left the kids with the rocks and headed over to Down Tor, the weather was looking a bit poor.
Looking back towards Burrator Reservoir we could see more squall on its way. Hey-Ho you work with what you get.
To the North the weather looked a bit brighter.
We soon arrived at the Down Tor Stone Row, Ive shot this before with the Bronica but I thought it was worth a go this visit anyway so I set up.
Although I wont see the film shots for a while yet (I only made 3 shots because of the weather) heres what I was looking for courtesy of the X-T2.
After the Stone Row we headed towards Nuns Cross Farm following the track through the stones up to a large Enclosure.
This is a shot looking South along the Stone Row.
The Enclosure is one of the largest I have seen and needed a 3 shot stitch with a 10mm (APSC) lens to get it all in.
Our route to Nuns Cross Farm took us past some disused Tin Workings, although I have walked this part of the Moor extensively this is the first time I remember seeing this place and I will re-visit it as a shoot in better conditions, it is quite close to Nuns Cross Farm but off the main tracks.
The Leat comes out from underneath the wall.
This tree and ruin are well worth another visit.
From here it was a surprisingly short walk to Nuns Cross Farm where we had lunch in the lee of the buildings. This was another target for a Bronica shot, again Ill not see the film for a while but here is an X-T2 shot of what I am expecting.
After Nuns Cross Farm we headed back towards Burrator Reservoir and the car, the way back was mostly tracks except where we jumped off track to get photos. This is Older Bridge an old Clapper Bridge along the track.
This rock and its growth are just beside the bridge.
Along the way we could hear the Leat and at one point we could see a stone wall that was obviously part of the Leat infastructure.
There were a few Stone Crosses on the way back.
This one is just above Crazywell Pool and is called Crazywell Pool Cross.
Crazywell Pool is odd, very steep sided and very deep, there are a couple of guys and a dog in this shot just beside the track scar on the left of the shot that show the scale of the Pool.
On the way back there are some great views of Burrator Reservoir with Down Tor, Sheeps Tor, Leather Tor and Sharpitor in the scene.
The rest of the way back to the car was via a very stony track through Raddick Plantation then on to Norsworthy Bridge. There were some nice views though.
However the track got rockier as we reached the edge of the plantation.
And worse still until we reached the car park, not the best after 6 miles of hiking.
Thats all for this week folks, sorry theres no Ponies or wildlife, as always comments welcome.
Landscape and travel
Nuns cross farm dartmoor
Crazywell Pool Dartmoor
This week joined by Mrs T I went in search of Dartmoors southernmost Tor which some say is Ugborough Beacon but Western Beacon is almost as high and is further south. A quick Google finds both Wikipedia and Tors of Dartmoor listing Western Beacon as the southernmost hill (Wiki) Tor (Tors of Dartmoor). Furthering the confusion is that in the Dartmoor 365 Book by John Hayward he states that Ugborough Beacon is the southernmost Tor and that Western Beacon isnt formally a Tor (but he does say that it is the southernmost hill) also in the Dartmoor Tors pocket guide by Janet and Ossie Palmer the Gazetteer of Dartmoor Tors only lists Ugborough Beacon. ??
Our walk started below Western Beacon but I had seen a disused Quarry marked on the map so we went to have a look at that before setting off up Western Beacon. It turned out to be a lot less of a Quarry than I had expected.
On the way to the Quarry we passed what appeared to be an old bridge long since disused/derelicted. Had we not got a long hike ahead of us I would have liked to go down to explore it but it will have to wait for another visit.
We had more pressing matters (the beacons) so we went back to the Moor Gate and headed up Western Beacon.
On the way up the first slopes we could see the rather quaint looking Mooraven Village.
Western Beacon itself has been quarried but that isnt evident from the map.
It also has a rather odd group of rock piles on the Cairn.
Once over Western Beacon we headed for Butterdon Hill which is also further south than Ugborough Beacon and is also known as Black Tor by some.
The Stone Row points the way which takes you past the Longstone beside Black Pool (not the seaside town). This view looking back towards Western Beacon.
On Butterdon Hill there is a Trig Point and from that point we could see across to Ugborough Beacon.
But sadly looking to the West we could also see the scar of the Clayworks at Lee Mill.
From here we could see Hangershell Rock, this was not on the original route plan but we decided to go over and have a look.
Once at the Hangershell Rocks we took time out to have lunch in the lee of the rocks.
From our lunch spot we could see across to Tristis Rock which is on my list of sites to visit but not for this trip, it sits on the opposite bank of the River Erme and needs to be approached from that side. Another day.
As we moved away towards Ugborough Beacon looking back we could see all the way to Plymouth Sound.
We made our way towards Ugborough Beacon.
Passing Main Head which is the start of the spring/stream.
Ugborough Beacon isnt the biggest Tor I have visited but it does have some interesting rock formations.
And some nice views.
I spotted a Kestrel out looking for lunch, I managed to get a shot but I really dont have the right kit for these kinds of shots (Im a landscaper not a wildlifer).
Anyway, it was now time to head off back to the car.
On the way back we saw some curious things, this water hole seemed to be a natural drain for the rainwater into the stream below.
We also passed this derelict building, not sure what it used to be though.
Finally we got back to the Moor Gate and the car.
We did see some Ponies on this trip though.
Thats all for this week folks. As always, comments welcome.
Landscape and travel
Today was yet another grey day. Not quite so bad as last week, when the rain set in almost as soon as we set off on the walk, and I got no usable photographs at all. I did do a little better this week.
I am still without my Olympus. I am told that it may take a month to repair. So, once again, I am using my Panasonic TZ70, which has made today a real getting to know my equipment day.
I am often quite curious as to why designers make the decisions they do, when the logic of the decision is not at all obvious. For instance, the TZ70 has a ‘Dynamic Monochrome’ mode, which I use for this project. If I use this mode, I have no control over when the flash will fire. I fancied trying daylight flash in the gloom, so tried to set the camera so the flash always fired. This would potentially have made some interesting shots with a highly illuminated foreground against a dark background. I would have thought such a shot was dynamic. But I am denied any such control. Why? The same mode also seems to accentuate the contrast. To get a decent monochrome from a lot of the images I took today, I would definitely need to go back to the raw file and do the conversion myself.
On the plus side, the TZ70 has a tiny sensor ( I believe the crop factor is over 5), which gives great depth of field, which is ideal for macro work. My lead image of a teasel head is a fine example of this.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, given the prevailing lighting conditions, all my successful shots today were made keeping the camera very close to the subject.
This next shot is of some late flowering dandelions. It is the kind of situation that interests me – the different shapes and textures in the undergrowth. Here, the nettles contrast nicely with the grass, while the dandelions themselves provide focus. For someone like me, who is interested in natural history, this is a picture of ecology in action, as the three plants fight it out, each having its own strategy for hogging the light, inhibiting other competing plants, and dealing with marauding herbivores. I have thought of making a false colour image, such as NASA images of a distant planet. I haven’t yet tried though.
This image is also all about differing textures. This field was just a mass of hawkweed (I think). Now late in the season, there are just a few flowers left among the grey feathery seed heads.
When I first set out, I intended to photograph fungi. But it wasn’t until nearly the end of the walk that I found any. I liked this one with a strong contrast in both lightness and texture to the surrounding ivy.
My final image if of an inkcap toadstool. Taking this picture made me really miss the fully articulated screen of my Olympus. Not being able (or willing) to lie down on the boggy ground, this image was made with quite a lot of guess work. This is also a nice illustration of the depth of field with the TZ70, sharpness extends for inches beyond the fungus.
Overall, I feel this has been my most successful foray yet.
Dof depth of field
Threshold is one of those image adjustments that may at first seem at best odd and at worst perhaps pointless. There may be some other uses, but here’s what I’ve used it for.
I’m going back a couple of years to 2019 and some photos of Ben.M I took at one of John Duder’s lighting workshops. I must emphasise that the key part of making the image lies in the lighting. That gets you where you need to be. Don’t ignore or undervalue the importance of getting a good image in camera. The post processing just enhances the result to get to a point I’d envisaged.
The idea in this studio set-up was to light the background and have Ben appear in profile. It’s almost silhouette as there is some detail in the subject created by light bouncing off the background. Indeed, a little detail like this does help with shape and form. It is perfectly possible to reduce the Black level to get pure black with no detail if you want to. I could have done that, but I wanted something much simpler, I wanted a pure shape.
That’s where the Threshold adjustment comes in. It produces pure black and puire white tones, Something that isn’t quite so effective by adjusting the Black and White points using the Levels adjustments. Threshold has its own control so you can vary what becomes black or white, and there’s no grey. That said, I left mine at the default as that looked good and just shows hat if you get the lighting right to start with it makes adjustments in software so much easier and more pleasing to the eye.
My idea was to create a narrative of a saxophonist playing the blues, hence the colour. Perhaps not an original idea and I don’t always come up with fancy titles, its the image I’m interested in. To do this I created a new Fill Layer and set the blend mode to Colour. I was happy with the result, so left the opacity of that Fill Layer at 100%, Depending on your own preferences you may want a lower opacity for more subtlety. Experimenting with Blend Modes revealed other options like a blue figure on a white background and different complementary colours such as a yellow figure on a blue background. I guess those could make for a triptych or pop art arrangement.
I had to use a Fill Layer to get the colour because the Recolour adjustment, which I often use for sepia and other toning, won’t work with pure blacks and whites. However, as all the adjustments are made on separate layers it’s easy to switch them on and off and in doing so I found I liked the effect of the Recolour on the oriinl image as there were some mid-tones that the colour could work on. This turned ou to be my favourite version. If, in the future, I want a different colour, I won’t go tough the whole profess again as the Hue/Saturation adjustment will work just fine.
Threshold is useful for producing a solid silhouette useful on its own or in a composite as I did here with this image from Southport airshow taken a few years ago.
52 for 2021 Week 42 Tristis Rock, Piles Copse plus
24 Oct 2021 10:34AM
Views : 495
Unique : 379
This week I was alone again, after 3 straight days of heavy rain I finally got a break in the weather so headed back to the South Moor to shoot Tristis Rock and the Stalldown Barrow/Stone Row. In stark contrast to the miserable rain and mizzle of the previous 3 days it was all bright sunshine with a few fluffy white clouds but very harsh contrast. Hey-ho you take what you can get. My first stop was Harford Bridge over the River Erme which was running high and fast. Unlikely I would be able to cross it into Piles Copse.
Stalldown Barrow and Piles Copse (Sharp Tor on the right)
Having found a parking space near the St Petrocs Church (the main Harford Moor Gate Car Park is closed for the time being) I headed off down the road over Harford Bridge and cut onto the Moor just past Tristis Cottage.
The track was well marked/used but very wet and rocky in places.
It wasnt long before I got my first view of Tristis Rock.
After Tristis Rock I headed over to Stalldown Barrow, this is a fairly bland hill but a deceivingly hard climb with 2 or 3 false crests before you see the Barrow itself.
The top of the Barrow seems to have been scooped out (or built up), not sure when this was done but I suspect rather more recently than the original build.
Stalldown Barrow hill has lots of Settlement remains all the way up.
More evidence of earlier life on here is the Stone Row.
On top of the hill the wind was much stronger so I decided to lose some height before stopping for lunch, my next target was Piles Copse but I needed to get across the Erme if I wanted to shoot the trees in detail. There was a herd of Ponies and Cattle grazing in the lee of the hill.
The lee side of the hill was surprisingly steep and rocky I found an outcrop to shelter in while I had lunch.
From my lunch spot I could see the Erme Valley and the raging river far below me.
I could see last weeks targets in the distance, Western and Ugborough Beacons.
I scanned the river with my binoculars and determined negotiating the rocky descent would be wasted as there was no way I would be able to cross into the Copse so a distant shot was all I got, maybe another day?
After lunch I decided to head back to the car back via Tristis Rock.
I passed more Settlements on the way.
Then found the track back to the road and eventually the car.
On the way home I crossed Wisdome Bridge so I pulled over to grab a shot.
Thats all for this week folks, as always comments welcome.
Tristis Rock and Piles Copse
Stalldown Barrow and Stone Row
This week our Sunday walk was through Milton village to Milton Country park.
I did not expect to be writing anything this week, as we had our granddaughter staying with us for the weekend. So, it was very much a case of snatching photos for this blog, as and when I could, in between pushing swings; saving fellow pedestrians from a five year old on a bike who thought she was in the Tour de France; and taking photographs for the the family album.
One problem I thought I might have, was switching my Panasonic TZ70 between the normal aperture priority, colour, four by three mode and ‘dynamic monochrome’ square image mode. In the event, this was not a problem – just a quick turn on the mode wheel did the trick.
What was more of a problem, was switching thinking. For instance, I routinely expose to the right as far as I dare. For this blog, using images straight out of the camera, exposure has to be balanced. Inattention to this, resulted in my first picture being far more high key than I would like. But to be fair, I would not have noticed this relief in the plaster, had I not been bending down to the granddaughter as it is only about three feet above the ground. The relief is on the exterior plaster work on the seventeenth century Queen Anne’s Lodge in Milton village.
This next image is a close up of the carving on a new wooden sculpture at the main entrance to the park. First impressions, are that the sculpture offers lots of opportunity for abstract close ups, which I will investigate on a less pressurised day.
If I was dissatisfied with the exposure of my first image, I was really happy with the tones in this third image of variegated ivy. I would have thought I had done well with this result if I had converted from a raw photograph.
Similarly, I have tried many times to photograph the dens which are now such a feature of our woodlands. They tend to be in various states of disrepair and always look interesting. But I have always found it difficult to get a good separation between the den and its background which is invariably cluttered. I think that that separation has been achieved rather well in this image, and as such it probably represents one of my best attempts at capturing this subject.
Finally, when I set out on Sunday, I thought that I could photograph some birds. Milton Country Park consists of disused gravel pits filled with water which support a fair population of birds. But the swans stayed resolutely in the middle of the pits, and buried their heads in the water. The ducks which normally come swimming up to investigate any ball I throw in for the dog to fetch, uncharacteristically scattered at the mere sight of the family pet. There was no sign of the herons, grebes and kingfishers. So, I tried taking pictures of gulls in flight. This was about the best.
The TZ70 is not the fastest camera for focusing, and by the time the AF had locked in, the bird had long since gone. I am amazed that the bird is as sharp as it is, but the camera probably focused on the clouds, which were a sufficient distance away to give the required depth of field.
As a title that’s not as slick as the Duran Duran song (you’ll be hearing that all day now!) but it does describe one of the pitfalls of the analogue medium.
In the early 1990s I had a transparency that I took in to a high street processing lab in order to get a print made. It was a branch of Max Spielmann (that particular branch has long since gone). The assistant was very clumsy and when picking up the transparency picked it up without paying attention with finger and thumb right across the image area. Horror! I guess in hindsight I should have at least complained and walked out of the shop.
That’s when I decided not to use high street processing outlets. I’m not saying all their branches or indeed all high street outlets had the same laissez-faire approach, but situations like that certainly make you ask all sorts of questions about customer service and quality control.
My transparency film was mostly the process paid sort, that which wasn’t was sent off in the post to trusted labs (found in those days in the advertisements at the back of the photographic magazines). Peak Imaging was one such place, and I also used a local branch of Colab (since taken over by One Vision Imaging and the local site abandoned, a casualty of the march of digital). Of course, there’s always the risk of damage in transit but there’s no need to get paranoid. Given the amount of photo material I sent and recived through the mail I can remember only one occasion when something went missing, though it was retrieved with no adverse effects.
Fortunately I can’t see any damage to the image yet and it hasn’t revealed itself in the scan. Acid from skin will in time eat away at photographic emulsions. That said, it’s quite amazing how some film and prints survive poor storage.
These days if I want a print from a negative or transparency I create a high quality digital file and upload that unless I print it myself. Time constraints and large sizes as well as special surfaces like acrylic mean home printing is out, otherwise home printing it is. Either way, creating a digital file means I can get the image just as I want it, for example colour balance, colour correction, contrast, shadow detail and so on.
This week I was alone again, the weather was unfavourable with heavy fog and rain. I decided to re-visit 2 Quarries near Princetown as I thought they would give me shelter from the weather and I would be able to get some detail shots in them. Once up on the Moor I found the fog was wetter than I had thought and the wind was coming from every direction. No matter which direction I pointed my camera I got moisture drops on the front elements. Hey-ho I pressed on.
Foggintor Quarry Main Entrance.
Surprisingly the car park at the start of Foggintor track was full (I hadnt realised it was School Half Term) but I found space by the old Pump House. I set off down the track feeling fortunate that the majority of my walk today was on tracks otherwise the 50m visibility would make navigation challenging.
I planned to visit Swelltor Quarry first as I have only been there once before so might spend most of the day there but I had to pass Foggintor Quarry en-route. These are the main derelict buildings outside the Quarry entrance.
As I got deeper into the Moor the fog got thicker, the track I was on went past the Quarry and I had planned to cut off up the hill directly to it but the visibility made that unwise.
I could see the spoil mounds of the quarry through the fog.
I followed the track until it turned back on itself up the now disused access track.
Abandoned along the track were these rather ornate Granite posts, typical of the kind of things these quarries produced in the past.
There were several smaller derelict buildings along the track.
Further along the track was the largest and most recognisable building, probably the Captains Quarters.
I thought this one deserved a bit more exploration.
There were several mounds of what looked like spoil from the quarrying.
I saw very little wildlife but this Mountain Sheep seemed to be surveying his patch.
While I was in the thick fog I could hear loud voices in the distance, I couldnt make out what they were shouting but I thought maybe stock gathering or something.
Then the fog lifted for a moment and I could see what all the noise was about and as if on cue the Huntmaster sounded his horn. Of course I didnt have a lens nearly long enough.
There were only these 2 riders so I assume that they were out exercising the Hounds rather than actually following a trail.
I watched them for a while as they went along the old railway track I could just make them out in the distance on the track to the right of the shot, like I said lens too short.
I turned my attentions back to the quarry but the access was such that I needed more visibility to safely get into the inner quarry.
I looked around but it became clear that on my own in these conditions it would be foolish to try to get into the quarry so I headed off back to Foggintor Quarry.
There were many examples of split stone along the way, I had to wonder how much notice the quarries got for closure as they both seemed to have just stopped production and left.
I made my way along the track to the edge of Foggintor Quarry and found a spot to have lunch.
I am much more familiar with this quarry so I was happy to explore, also there were people around so a bit safer all round. I found an entrance I was not familiar with and you could be forgiven for thinking I was back at Swelltor.
There were some soldiers training in and around the quarry so I decided to do a circuit around the top rather than go into the main quarry, these 2 chaps were having lunch, hardly visible in the fog (bottom left quarter of frame).
These Sheep were looking rather sorry for themselves in the thick fog.
After my circuit of the tops of the quarry I looked at the ruins that are a feature at the entrance to it.
Thats all for this week folks, as always comments welcome.
Landscape and travel
Foggintor and Swelltor Quarries
Foggy day on Dartmoor
Looking out of my window just now, watching the rain absolutely pouring in torrents, it’s hard to believe that just a few hours ago we were basking in relative warmth and without any sign of water from the heavens at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon. It was the annual illumination of the abbey, spread over a few weeks, and free to National Trust members as well. First stop was something to eat as we arrived at our alotted 5pm slot, and the queues were not too long. If we had waited another 15 minutes then that was a different story. So, sourdough toasties all round, and we had brought our own water bottles this time.
The choir started singing at 7pm prompt, so we listened awhile and then explored the floodlit ruins whilst the suitably ghostly voices echoed softly in the background. It was a great drive out to Ripon, a lovely relaxed evening and a great drive back on virtually empty roads. Fantastic! Here’s our self portrait of our visit:
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