Landscape challenge Part 2

I’m picking up where I left off with my landscape challenge, and the last few days were indeed a challenge with poor weather. But sticking with AJ’s “whatever the weather” out I went. Once again, I have used my Canon 5D4 throughout.

Day 6. I did two challenges to make up for the lost day (i) compare wide angle and long lens options and (ii) slow shutter speed. 

There’s really only one option (that I can think of) for slow shutter speed and landscape and that is water falls, so I went to New Lanark (a World Heritage site) where I know at this time of the year there will be water in falls. I also felt sure I could achieve wide and long comparisons there.

Lens 16-35mm: f7.1 s/s 1/100 ISO 100

This is Cora Linn. I have never seen so much water, not even when the sluice gates open, and the noise was tremendous. It’s all snow melt.  In December 2018 when my cousin was visiting from Australia, we watched people walking across the rocks that form the lower fall. So yes, there’s a lot of water! I would normally crop this a little but have kept it as it is for the purpose of the challenge. [The light is very flat, but this looked much brighter & crisper on my screen, the colour seems to have been sucked out on here]. I didn’t have a tripod but there was a post to stabilise my camera hence the low ISO & s/s. I wanted to show the volume of water and the mist so tried a number of f stops – this was my choice.

At the foot of the falls on the right side, there is a little rock outcrop with a tree with three branches. Further down the track, both in distance and height, offered a long lens view of it.

Lens 100-400mm @400mm: f7.1 s/s 1/3200 ISO 1000

It was wet, dull and I tried several settings to try different effects. I’ve chosen this, a fast s/s to catch the roiling water and give some texture to the backdrop for the tree. I would love to try this with some green on the tree, but there won’t be that much water in Spring (or shouldn’t be!) I may try in autumn for some golden leaves. I have been to these falls many times and never considered this before, in fact, I don’t think I’ve even noticed the tree growing out of the rock. And I quite like it 🙂 Once again, it paid to look around for different options.

Further up the trail is Boddington Linn, that offers many different views. I have cropped this as there was just too much rubbish at the sides that I couldn’t bear to keep. Normally, the water here allows some good slow s/s options from the right of the image looking straight on to the falls with lovely rocks, but there was simply too much water – certainly for hand held. The Linn is the two main falls that you can see on the left and there is also a little one on the right that falls from underneath a footbridge.

Lens 16-35mm: f9 s/s 1/320 ISO 640

I was trying to show the force of the water as it crashed over and onto the rocks below, with the spray rising. Classic landscape f11-16 didn’t give the effect of the water on the rocks and I struggled with a lower ISO. This seemed to make the best of grotty conditions.

Lens 100-400mm: f9 s/s 1/20 ISO 100

This was as slow as I could hand hold. Normally, this is barely more than a trickle, so has only ever featured in wider shots. And the one below is from the bridge where the river (usually a stream) runs underneath to the waterfall.

Lens 100-400mm: f7.1 s/s 1/15 ISO 500

At this point, I ran out of energy and was no longer enjoying myself. I was wet and I had an hour’s walk, including a steep uphill climb at the end, back to the car. So I listened to my inner self, put the camera away and headed back. Although I am very happy with the long lens images I have, I didn’t get the “compressed” perspective that I was hoping for. However, I think I achieved the slow shutter speed challenge. 

As I was getting to the end of the walk, there were glimpses of light shining on a moss wall. I whipped my camera out and the light went – typical. But I had a hunch, and needed a breath, so waited for another 10 mins and for about 5 secs, the light appeared again. Worth the wait. That is New Lanark Cotton Mills, and in the far distance, a very posh hotel. Again, the colour seems to have been sucked out. (perhaps it has in all of them but I’m only noticing because of the greens).

Lens: 16-35mm: f16, s/s 1/15 ISO 1000 I needed f16 in order to have both the moss and the buildings sharp and although there was a patch of light I am standing under trees.

Hmmm. I have just seen I need to take this into Ps and try some of Jon’s magic to straighten the buildings.

Day 7. The sky is the star

Logically, this should have been a sunrise or sunset. But there is nowhere near me from which to see a sunrise at this time of the year and I am far too fond of my bed to get out and about in the car early enough on the off-chance of one, so that was never going to happen. If I had seen a sunset during the week I would have cheated and gone for it, but there was nothing. Fortune favours the brave and at dusk the skies looked dark and moody so I jumped in the car to see what, if anything, I could find that might meet the challenge.

Lens 16-35mm:  f9  ISO 800 This is an HDR exp comp -1/0/+1 and I planned to convert to B&W

I tried a single frame but the contrast between the bright light just above the horizon and the dark trees meant a flat image. Not sure why f9, it could/should have been 5.6/6.3 as there is no depth to the trees.

Lens: 16-35mm: f9 s/s 1/1000 ISO 800 It was blowing a gale, 4C,  I didn’t have gloves & my brain was frozen. It was 5pm so almost dark. I needed a high s/s to keep the camera steady but clearly didn’t think enough about my settings! Probably could have done better on this challenge then 😉

So what have I learned for my challenge? In no particular order:

  1. Look for light – it doesn’t have to be sunny or bright, moody works just as well and sometimes better.
  2. Be patient and wait. I do that with wildlife waiting, sometimes hours, for a creature to appear or do what I want, it’s no different with landscapes – wait for the light.
  3. Get out there with my camera – I won’t see what is available if I sit at home
  4. Don’t be afraid not to take a photo. I walk in the woods most days so have probably already got the best images I am going to get – but I never know, so still take a camera even if I don’t use it.
  5. Think about composition whatever it is I’m taking, and compare landscape and portrait compositions.
  6. If I don’t see an image when I get to a site, keep looking, it may not always be in front of me, but may be round the corner – or higher or lower.
  7. Deliberately think about B&W, don’t just convert “poor” images, think about colour contrasts, light and texture.
  8. Enjoy myself, and if I am not, then stop and do something else.
  9. Give myself permission not to enjoy every genre of photography – I don’t have to, just as I don’t enjoy all genres of music.
  10. Compare my photography to where I was and where I am now rather than to anyone else. Yes, get inspiration from others, but don’t get disheartened by comparisons. I think this especially applies to creativity.
  11. Keep tryingpractise makes perfect – except there is no such thing as perfection. Eventually, I will develop my own style.

If you are still with me, thank you for reading this. I really enjoyed the challenge (thanks for the suggestion AJ) and would recommend it anyone looking for a focus for your photography. I’m sure it could be applied to any genre. As always, critique on any of the images in either blog are welcome – this is after all a learning experience for me.

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4 Comments
  1. Great blog Mary, we were up at New Lanark in 2019. Walked up the path to the sluice gates were they divert the water to the power station. Not as much water then though.

  2. Excellent Mary. I am really pleased you did this and your 11 learned things at the end really show the benefit of the process.

  3. These are brilliant blogs with some stunning photos. I love the idea of a winter ramble with one wide angle lens and one telephoto to produce some contrasting images.

  4. Thanks all for the comments.
    Lloyd – give it a go and show us what you find 🙂

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