As readers of the Just 10 Photos tweets will know, there’s two posts coming up from my recent trip to Scotland. This first post focuses mostly on the Lochs, with a few other photos thrown in for good measure.
The five day coach break with Bakers Dolphin involved two days of travelling to and from Scotland, and three days exploring the Trossachs national park and Edinburgh. Coach trips aren’t very relaxing as you’re always on the move, but it’s a good way to see the area and let someone else do all the driving (a good opportunity for a nap on the move!).
Although lots of miles were covered and lots of stops were made, none were long enough for me to fully explore and photograph in detail. But I had long enough to get a good feel for the area and get few photos of Scotland’s stunning scenery. This was my first trip to Scotland, and I’ll definitely be retuning one autumn to capture the autumnal colours which I imagine will be amazing.
The weather was a mixed bag although I only got wet on a couple of occasions. For anyone who like to see or photograph landscapes and never ending greenery you must add a trip to Scotland to your list!
A bizarre inflatable Scotsman, at the Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch.
A cruise boat on Loch Lomond.
A classic Scottish view - a long loch (Loch Lomond), mountains, and clouds.
The Inversnaid Hotel, nestled among the trees at Loch Lomond.
One night the hotel entertainment was a singer in a kilt.
A genuine Highland Cow.
The Black Watch Memorial at Aberfedy.
The shores of northern Loch Lomond look like a rugged paradise.
A long exposure of the Falls of Dochart at Killin.
I can't help but wonder how long some of these trees have been there.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to switch off from some recent stressful events for a few hours and head to Bristol Zoo. The Zoo is home to a variety of animals in a relaxed and quite spacious area. It’s hard to pick a favourite animal, but the red pandas, meerkats, gorillas, all seemed to be popular on the day.
The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great, but luckily it was wrong and I was treated to sun for most of the day. This meant that most of the photos I got were better than expected. For photos where the animal was behind glass I used my Lens Skirt to cut out the reflections.
The Twilight World section doesn’t allow flash photography, so I decided to play with the camera settings see what I could capture in the dark. Hand-holding the camera I was relying on built-in image stabilisation along with appropriate manual settings (ISO of 25600, speed no slower than 1/60 second, and maximum aperture) to get the best photos possible using the display screen rather than viewfinder. It’s fair to say that low light photography is challenging, and it’s one area where I expect cameras to improve in the future. But the photo of the slow loris below is pretty impressive given how dark it was. Someone walked past as I was taking photos and commented “That guy’s got a night vision camera”.
I was lucky to catch a couple who'd just got married, standing in front of a water tank to give them amazing back lighting.
A very forlorn looking lion.
Looking straight up, I caught a gorilla looking down on me.
How do you get coax a lemur onto scales to be weighed? With food of course.
A monkey gives me sad eyes.
A meerkat looks bemused at children spying on it from a pod.
What are you looking at?
A naked mole rat, one of my favourite animals.
A bat tries to hide from the daylight to get some sleep.
A slow loris photographed in almost total darkness, showing how good modern cameras are at capturing light.
Following hot on the heels of yesterdays post about The Red Arrows comes another Air Show favourite, the Vulcan. The Vulcan was the final aircraft to display at the Weston Air Festival this weekend and, just like The Red Arrows, the display was in bright sunshine and a little cloud.
From a photography point of view having bright sun behind the subject means that a lot of photos come out like silhouettes. With modern photo processing software it’s possible to rescue some of the colour and detail, but usually to limited success. Well, with my limited skill in Adobe Lightroom! Today’s trip out has made me realise that I need a longer zoom lens too.
This Avro Vulcan XH558 is run by the charity Vulcan To The Sky who maintain and run the aircraft for air shows. Originally the Vulcan was a nuclear bomber, never used to deliver nuclear bombs in action luckily. It’s known for its distinctive delta wing (V shape) design and howling engines. Have a look at the Vulcan To The Sky website for the history of this aircraft.
When I was a child my Dad worked on Nimrod at Woodford and occasionally visited RAF Waddington, where the Vulcans were based. Each year a Vulcan would display at the Woodford Air Show, and I vividly remember the Vulcan climbing vertically and forcing itself to stall and gracefully fall before powering up the engines to fly off.
The Vulcan swoops past Weston pier.
The Vulcan in silhouette, but with the camouflage still visible.
The iconic delta wing.
The sun shines on the Vulcan over Knightstone island.
Wales and the island of Flat Holm in the distance.
Today is the summer soltace, the longest day of the year, and so it seemed a good day to escape the stresses of life for a while and head to the Weston Air Festival for a bit of daylight. I didn’t have time to spend the whole day there, so just popped along to photograph The Red Arrows.
For anyone who doesn’t know, The Red Arrows are the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team and can be found putting on amazing displays of close flying and colour at most of the main summer air shows here in the UK.
Wanting to avoid the crowds, and knowing the local roads, I aimed to position myself on a hill to the north of Weston-super-Mare so that I could almost look down on the display. Little did I know that half of Weston had the same idea. The spot I was headed for was as crowded as the fantastic beach at Weston.
I decided to zoom into the town centre and get myself to the top of one of the towns multi storey car parks, where I enjoyed the display with a few like minded folk in the sun.
It was a great show, although it’s one of the occasions I wished I had a longer lens to get closer to the action! It was the first time I’d had a real use for fast continuous shooting and continual auto focus of the Olympus OMD E-M1, and was the ideal place to play with settings.
The Red Arrows through their own smoke, looking moody.
The local wildlife didn't seem too bothered by the performance.
The Red Arrows split from vertical.
My favourite photo from the day... "look behind you!".
Each year the Gadget Show Live event takes place here in the UK to show off the current and future consumer technologies. 2014 marked my third visit to Gadget Show Live, and it was a great opportunity to take my camera along to get a few photos for the blog.
Gadget Show Live is a spin-off of The Gadget Show TV programme. Although I’m not a regular viewer these days, I have previously appeared in a couple of programmes when I was ever so slightly addicted to the show a few years ago. I first went along to take part in a Focus Group feature on remote control gadgets. It was great to play with the gadgets, including a remote control car with virtual reality headset, and I had a good chat with Jon Bentley about cars (Jon was previously a producer on Top Gear). I went back for another programme to look at outdoor party gadgets, and somehow got roped into a karaoke rendition of Summer Nights with Dallas Campbell (now of BBC science nerdery fame) and Suzi Perry (now of BBC F1 fame).
This year’s Gadget Show Live was on a smaller scale to last year, about half the size by my reckoning, but there was still enough gadgetry to keep me interested for a whole day. Walking around so much definitely made me appreciate just how lightweight my Olympus OMD E-M1 camera and lenses are compared to my old Canon camera set up!
I went along with my good friend and fellow photography geek Ryan. I’d been tweeting about my visit and as a result got invited to get photos of a couple of stands. Sarah Holburn, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, was doing regular live performances on the iT7 Audio stand. I caught one of Sarah’s performances which was simply amazing to hear, see, and photograph. The Vibe Collection stand was probably the best lit and brightest stand there, it was a great opportunity to get some close-up photos of their brightly coloured watches.
Each year seems to have its own themes – something that almost all the stands seem to be demonstrating or selling. This year’s themes were speakers, headphones, and quadrocopters. Speakers and headphones weren’t of much interest, but I was very impressed with some of the quadrocopters on the DJI stand. Their ability to zoom around so gracefully and hover still enough to get amazing photos and video from dizzying heights; definitely an addition to my future gadget list!
Something else for my list is a Go Pro camera. I’ve long been a fan of these robust little camera’s that you can attach to pretty much anything for photos, video, or time lapse. I was interested to see some similar products around the show, but nothing could beat the quality / price point of the Go Pro in my opinion. I was hoping for a show discount on the Hero 3+ Black edition, but no discounts were available and so my credit card remained intact… for the time being!
I also took a visit to the Olympus stand to play with the new baby OMD, the E-M10, and some of the lenses not in my collection. I was particularly taken with the 25mm f1.8 and 12-40mm f2.8 lenses, yet more things for my bank manager to be worried about. Whilst there I got chatting to Robert Pugh, a professional photographer and thoroughly nice chap who was on the stand and also runs some Olympus workshops. He gave me some great tips on how to get the best out of my Samyang Fisheye lens, and suggested I visit his YouTube channel for a few more tips – if you’re an Olympus user I’d definitely recommend a look. I plan to go on one of his workshops some time and will of course blog about it.
But for now, here are my top photos from Gadget Show Live 2014…
A bright stand from Microsoft.
A rare zombie find.
I was asked by one of the stand owners to take some photos of their brightly coloured watches.
Sarah Holburn (@SarahHolbMusic on Twitter) plays live music on the iT7 Music stand.
The Olympus stand, one of many camera manufactures at The Gadget Show Live.
A speaker in a lightbulb, controlled from your phone.
You could have a mini 3D model created of yourself - this is a 3D scan of me.