Durdle Door – Christmas 2010

Posted in Locations, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 29, 2011 by mistymornings

Durdle Door is one of my favourite places. The arch is magnificent of course, but there is something special about the setting and the lapping waves on the pebble beach. Our previous visit had been on a summer bank holiday weekend about 10 years ago; it was almost impossible to find a place to stand on the beach and landscape photography was less than easy! We vowed to return one day in the winter, when hopefully it would be quieter.

We chose Christmas day, arriving well before dawn. The snow several days earlier had turned to ice, making the descent to the adjacent Man o’ War beach very dangerous. Fortunately the Durdle Door steps were ice free. Much to our surprise two other photographers had beaten us to it. “Nothing else to do today” one quipped!

At first the light wasn’t co-operative, with a bank of cloud out to sea depriving the sky of its best colour. I decided to use my ND400 filter to give some longer exposures.This first shot looked towards the East to include the moon.

The pebble beach gave a great quality to the waves.

The other photographers, after waiting 45 minutes for some light, finally gave up. Their timing was out, just a few minutes later the sun popped out of the cloudbank, just within the top of the arch.

I was lucky to be at about the right place on the beach. A small adjustment and I just had time to get the above shot before the sun rose too far. A fairly small aperture of f11 caused the starburst effect. Sometimes patience does pay off!

We decided to return the next morning in hope of some better colour. This time we had the beach to ourselves, and the sky was a little more co-operative before dawn (but less so around dawn).

It was a pleasure to spend two mornings in this magnificent place.

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Lower Antelope Canyon

Posted in Arizona, Locations, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2010 by mistymornings

Lower Antelope is a photographic gem. Its sinuous curves and majestic colours make it unique amongst the Colorado plateau’s many slot canyons, add to that its relative ease of access and it is an must see if you are in the Page, AZ area.

The canyon is a place of immense beauty and atmosphere, yet its magical twists and curves are a testament to the massive forces that created them: flash floods that can, and have, had tragic consequences. The Navajo who own and run the canyon have emergency facilities to aid people to escape if the worst happens, but these should not be called upon as the canyon is closed when rain is forecast anywhere in the drainage area.

At times the canyon can be quite busy with tourists, but we found that most people are with guides who are very polite and understanding towards photographers. So mostly photography was relatively easy, apart from in the narrow lower part of the canyon.

We spent two mornings here in September. The first day we concentrated on the top half of Lower Antelope.

Anelope canyon

Canyon colours

The colours are extraordinary, yet pose a challenge when rendering the RAW files. I generally chose a colour temperature around 5500K; this seemed to give the split between yellows, oranges and purples that I saw when I was there.

Lower Antelope Cayon

The Crack of Doom

The above image was taken as some beams of light hit the base of the canyon. Rather than photographing the beams (an exercise guaranteed to coat your camera gear with dust) I concentrated on the reflected light that made the walls glow orange, contrasting this with cooler unlit areas.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Up and beyond

The general advice is to avoid including the sky and any directly lit areas in your photographs. Whilst good advice, all rules are made for breaking! The above image shows an HDR rendered scene looking straight up.

The second morning we concentrated on the lower half of Lower Antelope, starting at a huge arch.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Antelope Arch

The arch is interesting as it clealy shows the route of the water flow to the right of the arch before it cut a lower, straighter route through the arch.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Canyon curves

The lower part of the canyon is quite deep; the steps out are quite strenuous on a hot day. Despite this, the contrast between warm and cool colours is just as good as further up as seen in the shot above and the one below.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Waves of stone

More images of Lower Antelope Canyon can be seen in our gallery.

Coyote Buttes and White Pocket

Posted in Future Trips with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by mistymornings

We’re looking forward now to our next photographic trip. We plan to visit the ‘White Pocket’ area of Arizona, near Coyote Buttes, in September. Coyote Buttes itself is Wilderness area is full of beautiful sand stone formations like The Wave:

Unfortunately it is increasingly difficult to get permits from the BLM to go into Coyote Buttes, particularly for the North, where the Wave is. South Coyote Buttes permits are easier to get, but the deep sand on the route means four-wheel drive is essential. We have visited North Coyote Buttes three times, before the permit system became too difficult, and South Coyote Buttes twice.

Two days after our last trip into South Coyote Buttes we were told a horror story by another photographer. Some people they knew had their vehicle become stuck in sand on the way to Coyote Buttes South, and were unable to dig it out. They had to be rescued by some locals, and that them cost a lot! If I had been told this story before our trip, we might not have gone, and would have missed seeing and photographing some great sandstone formations.

The White Pocket area is less colourful, but still of great photographic interest. It  is outside the permit zone, but even futher down the sandy roads beyond South Coyote Buttes. The risk of going alone is too great; we are travelling in a group, with a guide.

Emporio: Santorini’s ignored gem

Posted in Locations, Santorini with tags , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by mistymornings

When one thinks of Santorini, one thinks of immaculate whitewashed villages perched high on the cliffs around the volcanic caldera. Every tourist brochure shows an image of Oia and its blue domed chuches, often usually at sunset. They never show the crowds of tourists jostling for position to see the sun drop behond that classic view. However in the interior are several villages which retain more of the island’s original character, with the additional advantage of not being overrun by tourists or photographed ad nauseam.

Our favourite example is Emporio, specifically the near-deserted interior of the village. This is a rambing collection of narrow passageways, guaranteed to confuse. It will be a few visits before you work out and remember how the passages connect. The houses are an odd assortment of newly rendered and whitewashed, interspersed with buiding sites and dereliction. This creates great contrasts and photographic opporunties.

The occupied areas feature bougainvillea flowers in glorious reds and purples.

What we really enjoy about Emporio is the potential for more abstract images when focusing on the details, playing with contasts, shapes and textures. This is ideal for monochrome photography, and even for alt process printing. I have printed a few of these as cyanotypes, such as that below.

Hidden at the far end of the maze is an enclosed quadrangle featuring a church. The surrounding passages offer a fantastic set of organic shapes and crumbling textures.

At the right time of year the setting sun shines straight down one of the tunnels leading to the church. I used Jan’s silhouette to create this eerie image (a lith print).

Amongst the old buildings are some modern structures with very pure lines, with curves and circles the predominant theme.