Monday, 3 December 2012

Eastern Sierras - California

I spent 3 weeks in October in California photographing at various locations along the Eastern Sierras, Owens Valley, White Mountains and Death Valley. Here are a selection from the trip - the full set are in two galleries on my website - here and here. The last four and the second link are images from a memorable visit to the abandoned gold mining town of Bodie. I have a few more images to work on from the trip (Death Valley in particular) - I'll add them in due course.

Convict Lake Sky
Lembert Dome - Yosemite NP
Aspen Creek
Early Dawn over Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

North Norfolk Coast

A long weekend trip to North Norfolk yielded several images. The weather started fine but deteriorated over Sunday and Monday into the worst September storm in the UK for 30 years, although this area seemed to miss the worst of it.

Reflections on Holkham
Here comes the rain - with a faint 22 degree sun halo
Blakeney Guildhall

Another Cloud

Thanks to the Cloud Appreciation Society for posting another of my cloud pictures - linked here. It was one of four I published herein a couple of weeks or so ago.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Photograph or Painting - Colour or Mono

Occasionally I'll take a picture that may be ok as a photograph but for me it would make an excellent basis for a painting. This image of a pair of Cedar trees reflected in the lake is a case in point. I can see this as a watercolour in soft pastel shades. Unfortunately I have zero ability when it comes to wielding a paintbrush so this image will stay as a photograph. Am I tempted to cheat by 'artifying' it using photoshoppery or 'art' type filters? Certainly not.

Croome Park Cedars

An alternative that I do like is this monochrome rendition:

Croome Park Cedars
Taken with my pocket S95.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

This Week's Sunset Skies

The sky is a source of infinite variety for photography. We've had some splendid evening skies this past week. These four were all taken from near my home at or around sunset on three different evenings.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Worcester - Birmingham Canal - Day 7 - The End

My 60 mile round trip hike is now over and the last few images posted below with the full set on my website - linked here. It's been an exercise in hiking with a light weight digital camera (a 7D) rather than my heavy weight large format 5x4 camera, lenses, film holders etc. And an exercise in getting familiar with taking images mostly for colour rather than my usual B&W. Most enjoyable, and I've now extended my understanding of colour image composition and adjustment in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Just one downside that I've encountered. I'm a cropper when it comes to adjusting aspect ratios of my images. I don't subscribe to the practice of presenting images only in the format of the camera used; I crop my images to any aspect ratio I choose. But several times I've almost come a cropper in a different sense. Canal towpaths are popular not only with walkers but with cyclists too, many of whom are travelling at full speed. Unfortunately, only a small proportion of cyclists give due consideration to walkers when approaching. They often approach at speed from behind without ringing a cycle bell and without slowing down to a safe passing speed. As their approach is almost always silent the shock as they hurtle past millimetres from colliding is disconcerting to say the least, and often very dangerous on the usually narrow towpaths for both walkers and for themselves. So, a plea to cyclists on towpaths - please slow down when passing walkers, get a bell and use it to warn of your approach. And thank you to those of you who are already considerate to your fellow towpath users.

Edgbaston Tunnel
New Birmingham Library

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Worcester - Birmingham Canal - Day 6

Yesterday was my penultimate day hiking the canal. I'd arrived at the outskirts of Birmingham so, no surprise, there was much more industry and urbanisation. There are many long sections of wall and fence beside the canal that were clearly made for Birmingham's wall artists. The canvas they provide has been well used and provided me with lots of opportunities to advance my colour work! When planning this section I realised that the canal in Selly Oak took me very close to my old flat where I lived whilst at Birmingham University almost 40 years ago - and past the Country Girl pub where I spent many a happy evening. I went in the pub for lunch - it's always worth remembering that a memory often exceeds the reality! Below are three from yesterday - they, and the others are on my website page - linked here.

Exit From - Or Entrance To - Wast Tunnel

Ivy Reclaims Its Wall

Toadflax Foothold

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Worcester - Birmingham Canal - Day 5

It was very warm and sunny for hiking during the middle of the day - the time of day when some say there are no photographs to be had. I disagree. There are significant challenges in bright overhead sun - but there are also images that are totally dependent on it. These are the ones I've just added to my canal gallery - they are the first four on the page linked here. They'll move down when I add more.

Reflected Ripples Under Bridge 65

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Worcester Birmingham Canal - Day 4.5

I returned to the start of the canal today to photograph the first four lock number signs. It was a short visit hence the 4.5. I didn't decide to photograph all 58 until I got to lock 5 so I had to return to collect the first 4 at some stage. This has enabled me to finish the cover page for the PDF portfolio that I am planning to produce on completion of the hike to Birmingham. This is my first stab at what it will look like ...

58 Locks

Whilst there I found two or three other images that I've now posted on the canal pages of my website here. This is one of them ...

Desaturated Water

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Last year I awarded myself some time for a total photography diversion and played at substantial image manipulation using PhotoShop. This resulted in my producing a book (in Blurb) entitled Symmetrographs. Just one single copy exists - and it's mine. Some interest has been shown in it lately so I thought I'd mention it here. Blurb is very expensive for one-off large format hardbacks, more than I'd pay if I didn't have a close interest so I don't expect this to lead to any sales. But if anyone is interested you can see the whole book as a full screen preview in Blurb linked here. This doesn't represent a new direction for me - it was just an enjoyable week playing with some of my old images in PhotoShop and then producing them in book form.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Worcester Birmingham Canal - Day 4

Just a morning's hike this time from Lock 46 to Tardebigge Tunnel. The tunnel is about 2/3 of the way (about 20 miles) along the canal from Worcester but by this point all 58 locks have been passed. The remaining distance through the suburbs of Birmingham is all on the level. The images are linked here on my website.

Grassy Steps

Bridge 54 and Lock 50

Pump House Ferns

Friday, 6 July 2012

Worcester Birmingham Canal - Day 3

Thursday 5th July - my third day hiking the canal - took me from Hanbury to lock 46 just south of Tardebigge - and back. A grey gloomy start turned very warm and humid by mid morning. I found more images suited to monochrome treatment on this stretch. Perhaps it was just my frame of mind that was particularly black and white. Here are three of the nine images that I've added to my website for the day's hike. The images are here on my website.

Bridge 46


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Worcester Birmingham Canal - Day 2

I've completed my second day hiking the canal - below are a couple from the day and the latest set are the first 11 here.

Drip Rings

Under the M5

Friday, 15 June 2012

Worcester Birmingham Canal

I've just started a new photo project - hiking from Worcester to Birmingham and back along the Worcester Birmingham canal. The canal is 30 miles long and has 58 locks (on average one every half mile) along its length. My photography along the way is not intended to document the canal, rather, I use the opportunity that hiking presents to look for scenes and images along the way that I find appealing.  There will be some strictly canal photographs but alongside them are likely to be more that don't give any clue to the canal's proximity. It will take about 6 visits/days each of around 10 miles to complete the hike. The days will not be all in one stretch but each separated by maybe a week or two. I can and often do walk many more miles in a day but adding in photography time cuts down the daily range significantly. All of the images to date from the hike are linked to my website - here. And here are three from day one ...

30 Miles and 58 Locks

Dark Lock

Peeling Pastel Paint Pattern

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Twitter @virtuallygrey

On the off chance that anyone is interested I have an account at Twitter (@virtuallygrey) that I use to notify new work or images that have been published. I don't use it for anything else.

New Images on my Website

I've just completed a website update to add a new set of images from Puglia, the heel of Italy, three images from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Beacon on the Malvern Hills, and four recent cloud images. My "New Image" page is linked here. Several of the Jubilee and Cloud images are also in posts below.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Bonfire Night Photography

Yesterday was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Four thousand beacons were lit to commemorate the occasion. The photographs below were taken on Worcestershire Beacon - the highest point on the Malvern Hills. Travelling east from that point you'll next reach land at that altitude (1395ft) when you get to the Urals in Russia, some 2500 miles. For me it offered the chance to try something new - photography at night. The one thing I learnt - which I already knew of course was the value of a light but sturdy tripod.

I knew it was to be a full moon last night so I sought out just about the only place available for my tripod where I could get both the moon and the beacon in the frame. "The Photographer's Ephemeris" is an invaluable tool for researching the timing and positioning of the sun and moon so that you can plan ahead for where their positions are important for your photograph.

I took almost 300 shots last evening of which I am satisfied with just a handful, which means, it was a good result. I've also included these three photographs in my Malvern Hills blog here.

Full Moon Rising over the Diamond Jubilee Beacon
Fly the Flag
Making Tracks Back Home

More Cloud Appreciation

And another thank you to the Cloud Appreciation Society for posting another one of my photos. It was taken later on the same day as the one in the previous post but it's taken me two months to add it here! It's linked here at the CAS.
After the Rain and Just before Sunset

Monday, 16 April 2012

Cloud Appreciation

Thanks again to the Cloud Appreciation Society for posting one of my photos. It's linked here at the CAS and also appears on my Malverns blog - on Day 7 here.

Storm over The Cotswolds - from Chase End Hill on The Malverns

I've now received my copies of the just published CAS book - "Clouds that look like Things" with my Gnarly Hand image. I referred to this and showed the photo in the first post in this blog.  It's very satisfying to get an image published in a book.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Always Carry a Camera

There's been a major about turn from the incredible warm sunny spring weather we've been having for the last few weeks. The shot below was taken two days ago in South Wales on The Skirrid - or Ysgyryd Fawr in Welsh.  The blizzard conditions weren't ideal for using my 5x4 camera or even my 7D. But my S95 snappycam came out for a second or two to record the scene. It's always worth carrying a camera - even a snappycam.
Skirrid Blizzard

Sunday, 18 March 2012

iPad 3 for Photographs

There are many ways to show or display one's photographs. I make prints, publish images to my website, make folio presentations, make Blurb books, make PDF presentations and slideshows. I've just taken delivery of a new iPad (3) in order to explore its potential. The superb screen resolution offers a wholly new medium for presenting and publishing photographic material. I've now to start finding out how best to use it.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Why blog?

I’ve been giving some thought to why I’m publishing this blog. There are many potential reasons why others may do such a thing – but why am I doing it? Is it because I believe there are some who might be interested in what I have to say or show? Is it because that’s what is expected these days in the newly connected world? Is there a vanity which I’m seeking to burnish? Is there a commercial motivation – print sales for example? I’m sure there is wealth of motivations that might apply.  But I’m more sure than ever that the reason I’m doing it was revealed to me when I decided to produce my photo blog of the Cotswold Way (now at over a six month period starting in May 2009. It became a seriously motivating driver to keep going; to not fail part way through; to encourage me to keep up the momentum. It was not as if I expected anyone to follow my progress, and indeed hardly anyone did on a subscribed regular basis. But the very fact that I exposed what I was up to was a spur to keep going. The fact that I’ve now resurrected this blog which originally carried my Cotswold Way progress is at least in part because I want what I’m doing to be ‘out in the open’. In the same vein I’ve started another project blog to record my photography year on the Malvern Hills ( As a photographer it’s all too easy to take pictures and then show them to no one – or to just a small group. And I could easily do that as I take photographs entirely for my own interest.  I enjoy the whole process from end to end.  Through the planning and preparation right through the travel, the capture, the processing, the assessment and then the final presentation, whatever forms that takes. But, the periodic posting of new work and the occasional feedback it prompts is reward enough for me. I know I would do this even with the thought that no one may ever see what I do.  There is still the discipline of assembling my thoughts and material and attempting to make a good job of publishing it – albeit as a blog. I’ve thought about using facebook to communicate my photographic activities but I am not prepared for the gross intrusions and openness that is a part of the whole social networking scene. I have allowed myself a twitter account (@virtuallygrey) but that is strictly used in close association with this blog for the purposes of making known what I’m up to photographically. So, even the act of writing this entry helps my photography.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Garlic Crop

Last year I grew garlic for the first time.  So easy - this is the crop from just two bulbs, or around 20 cloves, laid out to dry.  By the way, a "garlic crop" isn't a new approach to trimming photographs.

Drying Garlic

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Moonset at Yankee Boy Basin

I've worked on most of the images from last year's road trip in the US.  This is probably the last to be added to the portfolio from that trip - linked here.

Moonset at Yankee Boy Basin

Monday, 12 March 2012

One more from Oxford Cathedral

I didn't think much of this when I saw the negative.  But, at a second look I changed my mind. The six from the Cathedral are posted here.

Cathedral Entrance from Christ College Quadrangle