Brian A Keen Fine Art

Galleries are best viewed with a resolution of 1024x768 pixels. All images copyright © All rights reserved

Welcome

This web site was first created in 2004 as a showcase for my two main hobbies: photography and painting.

As well as containing galleries to display my work, there are monthly news pages. These serve as a 'blog' containing day-to-day ramblings about my photography and painting. The news pages also describe any major updates to the web site.

There are pages containing information about my photography tools and techniques. Technical details about the web site construction and the underlying database are also included for anyone who might be interested.

The web site is continually evolving and improving as I learn more about web design and attempt to conform to the ever-changing design standards. I am not a professional web designer, so I hope you will forgive technical or spelling errors etc. I would rather spend my time taking photographs or painting than spend hours creating a technically perfect web site that works on all browsers and platforms. The pages are often checked using the W3C Markup Validation Service. There are too many browsers out there to check them all but I do try and verify that the pages are rendered correctly on the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox running with a display resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

I deliberately keep most of the images uploaded to the website small (usually only 400 pixels or less on the longest side). This reduces storage requirements, upload and download times and helps prevent unauthorised copying for commercial use.

I hope you enjoy my pictures. The galleries are frequently updated as more images are added, so do come back and see what's new.

Brian

Photo Gallery Slideshow

A selection of colour photographs from the galleries.

News - 2017

Monthly Photography, Painting and Website news for the year.

News: Dec 2017

Gallery and Website News

After a long delay, I have started updating the news pages once again. The website has not been updated since 2016, so there is a considerable backlog of images. I expect it to take some weeks to get things fully up to date.

The delay has been partly due to the computer and associated software changes that took place in Apr 2016. Since then, Lightroom has been used to catalog and process most of my images. The MS Access database that holds images for the website has not been kept up to date.

The news page updates start from Feb 2016 and are gradually advancing forward. Once the pages for 2016 are complete, they will be moved into the archive section.

I am already close to my maximum free webspace allowance (250MB). This means either pruning some of the images or finding an alternative Web Hosting service.

Image Aspect Ratios

Previously, images in the galleries were limited to the following aspect ratios:-

  • 1.6:1 (35mm film or vertically cropped landscape images)
  • 4:3 = 1.3:1 (6x4.5 medium format film)
  • 1.4:1 (A4 prints or horizontally cropped images)
  • 2.3:1 (panoramas)

Fixed aspect ratios make it easier to add the surrounding picture frames. Each aspect ratio requires separate size and frame information in the database for landscape and portrait modes.

Nikon sensors (including DX and FX) all use a 3:2 aspect ratio. In the past, all images from my D200 had to be cropped slightly to fit. For landscape mode this meant cropping in the horizontal direction to fit the A4 aspect ratio or in the vertical direction to fit the 35mm aspect ratio. The opposite applies to portrait mode.

For images that were carefully composed in the viewfinder, sometimes a change of aspect ratio can be undesirable. Hence, I have now added support for a new 3:2 = 1.5:1 aspect ratio.

Image Filenames

Following the addition of a new camera in 2016, I decided to add a 'camera type' prefix to my image filenames going forward. This should make identification easier and prevent unwanted filename duplication. The camera type prefix is 'D200_' or 'D810_' for the Nikon DSLRs or 'G11_' for the Canon compact. To avoid renaming a large number of files, existing D200 files will be left without a prefix.

Database

Now I have started to use Lightroom to manage and process my digital images, this has required some workflow changes that have revealed a few LR defficiences.

My image database and website requires images with exact pixel dimensions. Unfortunately Lightroom is unable to export images with exact pixel dimensions since the export module does not support changes to aspect ratio.

The only way to change aspect ratio in Lightroom is by cropping. However, this does not always give the required result. For example, it is impossible to crop a 7360 x 4912 image from a D810 to an aspect ratio of 1.492 : 1.000 that results in a 400 x 268 pixel image after export.

The only solution I could find is to use the LR/Mogrify 2 plugin. This works, in as much as it allows the aspect ratio to be changed during export. However it is slow and clunky. For each image exported, LR/Mogrify 2 runs ImageMagick followed by ExifTool. Both these programs are Windows 'Console Aplications' and so open a black Console window while running. That prevents the user from doing other tasks while Lightroom Export is busy.

Another lightroom deficiency is that it does not support flexible filename renaming during export. For example, if the user has used Photoshop to edit a lightroom image, by default the filename root is given an '_Edit' postfix after the ID number. This upsets the file rename option on export and the image ID number is lost.

I have resorted to using Windows Bulk Rename after export. This is not ideal as it requires manual intervention.

MS Access Forms.

To speed things up, I have made a few enhancements to the MS Access forms I use to enter image details into the database. This has involved re-learning how to program 'Visual Basic for Applications', a lot of which I had forgotten since the database was first created in 2004.

Exif data.

Exif data is now read automatically from the jpg files when added to the database using the 'Photos' entry form. Previously the exif data was read from the original raw files. That meant entering the path and filenames of the raw files for each image.

Import Button.

A new 'Import' button on the 'Photos' entry form allows multiple images to be added to the database in one go. This speeds things up considerably. The exif data is loaded automatically, although the 'Location' field still has to be input manually for each image. By default, the image title is initially derived from the jpg filename, although it usually needs changing to something that makes it easier to identify when searching.

Gallery Button.

A new 'Gallery' button on the 'Photos' entry form now makes the process of adding an image into a gallery much quicker.

The button opens the 'Gallery Images' form and searches for any existing enties with the same title. If not found, a new record is automatically created. By default, 'Gallery Category', 'Gallery Name', 'Matt Colour', and 'Frame Type' fields are copied from the last entry. This speeds things up considerably when adding a set of several images.

Before this enhancement, the 'Gallery Images' form had to be opened manually, a new record created, and the title string copied and pasted from the 'Photos' form. The other fields then had to selected manually for each new entry. This involved a lot of repetition when adding a batch of images.

Panorama Images.

The wide format, stitched images in the Panorama Gallery were originally viewed using the PTViewer Java applet. This provided scrolling in both horizontal and vertical directions by clicking and dragging with a mouse.

In most modern browsers Java applets, including PTViewer, are usually blocked by default for security reasons. Instead, the images are now simply displayed full size and rely on the browser to provide scrolling.

News - 2016

Monthly Photography, Painting and Website news for the year.

Photos of The Year

A selection of personal favorite photographs for the year with larger image sizes. (click the thumbnails below to enlarge).

News: Nov 2016

Photography News
Frosty Nettles (Tue 8th Nov).

These frost covered nettles along the bank of the Ouzel River made a pleasing, almost monochromatic composition.

Nettles

News: Sep 2016

Photography News
Red Darter Dragonflies (Tue 13th Sep).

Macro images of Red Darter dragonflies photographed along the banks of the Ouzel River.

Rde Darter Rde Darter Rde Darter Rde Darter
Rde Darter Rde Darter Rde Darter Rde Darter

News: Jul 2016

Photography News
Flywheel Festival (Sun 3rd Jul).

The annual Flywheel Festival event held at Bicester. The show features classic sports and racing cars, vintage aircraft and military vehicles.

I find event photography generally does not produce exceptional pictorial images. Lighting and backrounds are usually not ideal and people often get in the way. Nevertheless, I thought it would be an interesting challenge. The sky had just the right amount of cloud for photographing aircraft in flight.

Rolls Royce Phantom II. 'Woody'

One of my best images from the event is a photograph of the interior of a vintage Rolls Royce. This is a 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom II 'Woody' Shooting Brake owned by Sterling Moss's father.

The image was shot hand held using the door pillar as a rest. I used a 24mm wide angle lens and shot five frames at f8 with 1 stop auto-bracketing between each frame. I kept to ISO 100 which meant the shutter speeds were very slow - 1/25 to 0.6sec. I really should have used a faster ISO setting. Somehow I managed to get a reasonably sharp result. I combined the five frames to create an HDR image. The view though the windscreen and side window was replaced with another image to remove unwanted passers by etc. The only adjustment to the colour of the interior was to de-saturate a distracting circle of blue surrounding one of the knobs on the dashboard.

Rolls Royce Rolls Royce Rolls Royce
Sports Racers.

Alvis 200 Miles race car, a racing version of the Alvis 12/50. The Alvis was designed to race at tracks such as Brooklands and this example finished fifth in 1924 Junior Car Club 200 Miles Race in the hands of Major Frank Halford.

Alvis

Newton Brooklands 200 Miles Race car 1923.

Newton

1963-64 Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III Works Rally Two-Seat Hardtop Coupe .

Austin Healey Austin Healey

Ferrari 250 GTE.

Ferrari 250 GTE

Allard Farallac 1951 sports racer.

Allard Farallac

1954 Lincoln Capri.

Lincoln Capri

1964 3.8 Fixed Head Coupe E-Type Jaguar.

E-Type Jaguar

1925 Bugatti Type 30.

Bugatti Bugatti

1938 Riley Sprite. This car with it's 1500cc engine was capable of almost 85mph.

Riley Sprite
Vintage Bentleys

1928 Bentley 3 litre.

Bently Bently Bently

Bentley 3 litre. This car was first registered in 1926 by Bentley Motors for the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

Bently Bently

1925 Bentley 3 litre.

Bently Bently

1938 Bentley 4-Litre Drophead Coupe.

Bentley
Sports Racers On The Track

Aston Martin DB2-4 MkI.

Aston Martin DB2-4

1955 Lotus X.

Lotus X Lotus X

Allard J2.

Allard J2

Lotus 18.

Lotus 18

The Ferguson p99 was a four-wheel drive Formula One car built by Ferguson Research Ltd. for the Rob Walker Racing Team. It was the first 4WD F1 car and used a 1.5-litre Climax engine. It remains the most famous example of its type as a result of its twin claims to fame - not only the first 4WD car, but also the last front-engined car ever to win a Formula 1 event.

Stirling Moss. Reunited with his 1952 Reims GP Winning C-Type Jaguar.

Stirling Moss Stirling Moss Stirling Moss
Miscellaneous Vehicles

Austin 12. This is the 1926 Heavy Twelve Clifton tourer.

Austin 12

MG Sports 14-40 1V 1928.

MG Sports 14-40

Humber 14-40 hp tourer.

Humber 14-40 hp tourer

1921 Vauxhall 30-98hp E-Type Velox Tourer.

Vauxhall Velox

The Titan 10-20 Tractor was built by International Harvester from 1915 to 1921 in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA factory.

Titan Tractor
Military Vehicles

Centurion AVRE. The Centurion Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) was developed to assist Combat Engineers in breaching fortifications and clearing anti-tank traps.

It had a fairly short stubby L9 165mm main gun. This would fire a large HESH (High Explosive Squash Head) round at concrete bunkers.

This vehicle was still used for many years after the Centurion Gun Tanks had been retired. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War and was fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor across its turret front.

Centurion AVRE Centurion AVRE Centurion AVRE

The M4 Sherman Tank was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. Most were fitted with a 75mm gun.

Sherman Tank Sherman Tank

The Dodge WC51 Truck, Cargo, 3/4 ton, 4x4 w/o Winch Dodge (G502) Weapons Carrier. 123,541 were built. The open cab pickup could be fitted with an optional M24A1 machine gun mount, which bolted across the front of the bed. The mount could carry the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, the M1919 Browning machine gun, or the M2 Browning machine gun.

Dodge WC51 Dodge WC51

US Army Half Track.

Half Track

Miscellaneous Military Vehicles

Ambulance Dummy Trucks Armoured Car
Music

The FB Pocket Orchestra.

FB Pocket Orchestra FB Pocket Orchestra

Louise Cookman of The Picadilly Dance Orchestra.

Picadilly Orchestra
Re-enactors

The Home Guard.

Home Guard Home Guard Home Guard
Home Guard Home Guard Home Guard

Period fashion photographers David and Bee Jackson were conducting shoots alongside some of the aircraft. By using a long lens, I was able to join in.

Costume

Sopwith Triplane.

Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Costume

Costume Costume
Costume Costume
Costume Costume

RAF S.E.5

Costume

Fokker CL1

Costume Costume Costume Costume
Costume Costume Costume
Vintage Aircraft from WW1

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5. The RAF SE5, originally with a 150HP direct-drive Hispano-Suiza engine, first flew in November 1916. Only 77 of these were built before the engine was replaced by a geared 200HP version. The type went into squadron service in March 1917 and, with another engine change to the 200HP Wolseley Viper, they continued in service right up to the end of the war, with a total of 5,265 being built.

RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5 RAF S.E.5

A line up of WW1 vintage aircraft.

Vintage Line Up

Royal Aircraft Factory BE-2c. The BE2c was designed and built in 1912 at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough and was Britain's first-ever military aeroplane. Designed with artillery observation in mind, it was the most stable aeroplane ever built. At the outbreak of hostilities, the BE-2, was a mainstay of the Royal Flying Corps.

RAF BE-2c RAF BE-2c RAF BE-2c

Fokker Dr1. Designed by Reinhold Platz, the Dr1 was a direct attempt to copy the Sopwith Triplane. Armed with two forward firing Spandau machine guns, it was highly manoeuvrable. It was flown by German aces such as Werner Voss and the legendary Manfred von Richthofen.

Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1 Fokker Dr1

Junkers CL1. The Junkers CL1 was a ground-attack aircraft, based on the Junkers J8 but with an extended fuselage to carry a gunner. First flying in late 1917 it was accepted by Idflieg, which oversaw all German military aviation, but only 47 were built by the time of the Armistice .

Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1 Junkers CL1

Sopwith Triplane. The Sopwith Triplane was developed in 1916. By early 1917 two RNAS squadrons had been equipped with Triplanes. They were very popular with the pilots, being able to out-climb and out-turn any contemporary enemy scout aircraft. Only 150 Triplanes were built: Their service life was short. By late summer 1917 they started to be replaced by the Sopwith Camel biplane.

Sopwith Triplane

Sopwith Triplane under attack from a Fokker Dr1.

Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane Sopwith Triplane
Travel Air Mystery Ship

The Travel Air Mystery Ships were a series of wire-braced, low-wing racing airplanes built by the Travel Air company in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They were so called, because the first three aircraft of the series were built entirely in secrecy.

Mystery Ship Mystery Ship
Tiger Moths

The de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth is a 1930s biplane designed by Geoffrey de Havilland and built by the de Havilland Aircraft Company. It was operated by the Royal Air Force and many other operators as a primary trainer aircraft.

Tiger Moth Tiger Moths Tiger Moths Tiger Moths Tiger Moth Tiger Moth Tiger Moth Tiger Moth Tiger Moth Tiger Moths Tiger Moths Tiger Moth Tiger Moth Tiger Moths Tiger Moth Tiger Moth Tiger Moth
Vintage Aircraft from WW2

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner.

Dakota Dakota Dakota Dakota Dakota Dakota Dakota Dakota Dakota

The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, was an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II.

Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina Catalina

Supermarine Spitfire 1X. Probably the most famous of all Spitfires still flying today, MH434 was built in 1943 at Vickers, Castle Bromwich. This Spitfire is remarkably original, having never been subject to a re-build.

Spitfire Spitfire Spitfire Spitfire

Hawker Hurricane. PZ865 is the last of 14,533 Hurricanes built. It rolled off the Hawker production line at Langley, Bucks in July 1944 with the inscription 'The Last of the Many' on her port and starboard sides. It is now operated by the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Hurricane Hurricane

North American P-51 Mustang. The Mustang was originally designed to use the Allison V-1710 engine, which, in its earlier variants, had limited high-altitude performance. It was first flown operationally by the RAF as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber (Mustang Mk I). The replacement of the Allison with a Rolls-Royce Merlin resulted in the P-51B/C (Mustang Mk III) model and transformed the Mustang's performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft, allowing the aircraft to compete with the Luftwaffe's fighters. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 two-stage two-speed supercharged engine and was armed with six .50 caliber M2/AN Browning machine guns.

Mustang Mustang Mustang Mustang Mustang Mustang Mustang
Post WW2 Aircraft

De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a single-engined high-wing propeller-driven short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft developed and manufactured by aircraft company de Havilland Canada. It has been primarily operated as a bush plane and has been used for wide variety of utility roles, such as cargo, crop dusting and civil aviation duties.

De Havilland Beaver

Yakolev YAK-50. The Yakovlev Yak-50 aerobatic aircraft is a single-seat all-metal low-wing monoplane with retractable main wheels and exposed tail wheel. The control surfaces are fabric-covered to save weight. The aircraft is not equipped with flaps.

YAK-50 YAK-50 YAK-50 YAK-50 YAK-50 YAK-50 YAK-50
Helicopters

Augusta-Bell Sioux AH Mk1.

Sioux AH Mk1

Westland Scout AH Mk1.

Scout AH Mk1

More Flywheel images to come.

Art In The Park (Sat 9th Jul).

TBD

Duxford. Flying Legends (Sun 10th Jul).

TBD

Grey Heron (Sun 17th Jul).

I managed to capture a Grey Heron in flight over the local Grand Union canal. The image is not quite as sharp as I would have liked: The shutter speed was just a bit too slow. It was shot at 1/250s, ISO 200 using my D200 with a 200mm lens at f2.8. I was pleased to get a non-distracting background and reflections in the water.

Heron
Peace Pagoda (Mon 18th Jul).

TBD.

Rowan Leaves (Fri 22nd Jul).

The bright yellow-green leaves of a group of backlit Rowan trees caught my eye while out for a walk. I decided to play around with some in-camera zoom blur and de-focus. I used a small aperture and and a 3 stop ND filter to slow down the shutter speed.

Rowan Rowan Rowan
Horses (Fri 22nd Jul).

This white horse stood out from the dark background. The composition is helped by the absence of distracting bright sky

Horses
MK International Festival (Sat 23rd Jul -> Sun 24th Jul).

TBD.

News: Jun 2016

Photography News
Grand Union Canal (Wed 8th Jun).

Local images from a walk along the Grand Union Canal near Campbell Park.

Poppies Bee Heron Heron Canal Bridge Canal Bridge
London Street Art (Sat 11th Jun).

This month included a trip to London's East End to photograph street art and graffiti. I decided to play safe and use my D200 rather than risk carrying my expensive new D810 on the streets.

One of the best areas for street art in London is the square mile around Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfields. Several websites provide walking maps of the area. The artwork is always changing. Over time, even the best artwork ends up vandalised and covered in crude graffiti.

Overcast conditions are preferable to sunny weather for this kind of photography as it avoids harsh shadows and reduces contrast.

Where possible, I have tried to compose and crop the artwork to remove distracting surroundings or backgrounds.

Including passers by in the images can add interest if they relate to the artwork. This can sometimes be tricky; some people do not like to be photographed. Also, these days many people are glued to their mobile phones when walking.

One of the best images from the trip included the painting of a cityscape at night in the rain by the artist Dan Kitchener. I believe the original title is 'London Rush'.

While photographing this particular artwork, it began to rain. This turned out to be a bonus as it meant we could include passers by carrying umbrellas. They became a part of the art work. Luckily, there was some shelter directly opposite, so we were able to wait for interesting people without getting soaked.

Shoreditch Shoreditch

Here are just a few other examples of street art images from the area:-

Shoreditch Shoreditch Shoreditch Shoreditch

There are too many images to include them all here. The complete set can be found in the Photography "Colour, Graffiti" gallery.

Peace Pagoda Anniversary (Sun 19th Jun).

This was the 36th anniversary for the Peace Pagoda in Campbell Park. The programme included a Buddhist ceremony, multi-faith peace prayers, speakers on anti-nuclear and non-violent actions and an afternoon multi-cultural celebration. It was organised by the Monks & Nuns of Nipponzan Myohoji

Peace Pagoda Anniversary Peace Pagoda Anniversary Peace Pagoda Anniversary
Dragon Boat Race (Sun 19th Jun).

The annual dragon boat racing at Willen Lake took place in the afternoon.

Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats
Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats
Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats Dragon Boats
Flying Scotsman (Sat 25th Jun).

The Flying Scotsman crossing the Welland Viaduct.

To get a good view of the viaduct meant shooting into the light which was not ideal. The weather was a bit dull and hazy too.

The location had the advantage of having no overhead power lines. There were many photographers waiting on the hillside for the steam train. They were not pleased when the view was spoilt by a another group wearing hi-viz vests who raised a cherry picker platform next to the viaduct.

Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman
Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman
Rutland Water (Sat 25th Jun).

Normanton Church at Rutland Water. I used a 10stop ND filter for some of the images to create a smooth, ripple free effect in the water.

Normanton Church Normanton Church Normanton Church Normanton Church Normanton Church Normanton Church

News: May 2016

Photography News
Dockey Wood (Thu 5th May).

May is bluebell time and Dockey Wood in Ashridge is one of the best places to see them.

I used an 80-200mm zoom lens for most of the images. A polarizer was used to improve colour saturation. I experimented with in-camera zoom blur, de-focus and a vaseline on acetate filter.

Here are some examples. The complete set can be found in the 'Colour, Bluebells' Gallery.

Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood
Springtime Walk (Mon 9th May).

Images from a walk along the Grand Union Canal and Willen Lake. The bright yellow-green leaves always look good at this time of year.

Canal Broadwalk Canal Bridge Poplar Trees
Dockey Wood (Thu 12th May).

A return visit to Dockey Wood, Ashridge and Ivinghoe.

I call this one 'Symetree'. It is the large Horse Chestnut by the entrance of the field leading to Pitstone Windmill near Ivinghoe.

Reflected Tree

A more conventional view of the same tree with the windmill in the background. A lot of cloning was required to remove the signs attached to the gate.

Pitstone Tree

Another set of bluebell images from Dockey Wood and Crawley Wood. Crawley Wood is a few hundred yards to the west of Dockey Wood on the opposite side of the road. It is less well known than Dockey Wood and so does not get as busy at this time of year. It has no annoying 'keep to the path' signs scattered all over the place.

As before, I played around with in-camera blurring effects.

The light was better on this visit compared to the previous week. There were more leaves on the trees which I think improved the images.

Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood
Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood

The images below are from Crawley Wood.

Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood Dockey Wood

Interestingly, when I compare my recent bluebell images, shot using both the D200 and D810, against earlier scanned medium format film images (both Velvia and Reala), the film images appear to have better looking, more saturated colours. It's particularly noticeable in the blue flowers. It may just be down to the lighting conditions (slightly overcast, hazy light is better than full sun). It's something I need to look into.

Poplar Trees (Sun 15th May).

More images from the Poplar Tree plantation near Willen Lake.

Poplar Trees Poplar Trees Poplar Trees Poplar Trees
Grey Heron (Thu 19th May).

Another Grey Heron on the banks of the Grand Union Canal.

Heron Heron Heron
Scotland (Sun 22nd May - Sat 28th May).

A one week trip to Scotland based at Glasnacardoch, just outside Mallaig. The weather conditions were perfect with no rain for the entire week.

In my view, some of the images look better in monochrome. Lately I have started to process many of my monochrome images using the free 'NIK Collection' Photoshop plugin filters. I think they work very well. I usually use the filters to add tints and borders. I have not included all the monochrome images here in the news pages, but monochrome versions can be viewed in the photo galleries. For this trip, most have been filed under 'B&W,Scotland' or 'B&W,Railway' galleries as appropriate.

After some deliberation, I have decided to leave out many of what I consider 'record shots' from my photo trips. In some cases these are useful reminders of places visited and may add something to the 'story' but they often end up being not what I consider to be 'art' in the sense that less thought and care went into creating the image. In these cases it's often better just to add links to other websites that describe the locations and history in more detail. What I don't want is to end up with a website of boring holiday snaps. Deciding what might be considered by others to be 'just a snap' is not always easy.

Mon 23rd May.

The West Coast Railways Jacobite steam train runs from Fort William to Mallaig. It passes some spectacular highland landscapes along the way.

The Jacobite steam train was used as the famous Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter film.

On our visit, the Jacobite was hauled by 'The Lancashire Fusilier' No:45407. This an LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0, built at Armstrong Whitworth in 1937.

The Jacobite steaming past 'Our Lady of the Braes' Roman Catholic Church at Polnish near Lochailort. The building, also known as Polnish Chapel, featured in the film 'Local Hero'. In the background is Rois-bheinn, the highest hill in the area. The image also works in monochrome.

Jacobite Jacobite

The weather was dead calm as we drove past Loch Eilt heading east towards Fort William. We stopped to photograph the mirror-like reflections in the water.

Reflections Reflections Reflections Reflectionsd Reflections

The Jacobite crossing the Banavie Swing Bridge over the Caledonian Canal at Corpach just outside Fort William. Ben Nevis in the background.

Swing Bridge Swing Bridge

A record shot of Ben Nevis from the Caledonian Canal at Corpach.

Ben Nevis

We stopped at Glenfinnan on the way back to Mallaig.

Another record shot of the Glenfinnan viaduct from 'Torr a Choit' at the head of Loch Shiel.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Loch Shiel from 'Torr a Choit'. The Glenfinnan Monument that stands at the head of the Loch is dedicated to those who fought in the Jacobite Risings. Unfortunately, the monument was surrounded by scaffolding during our visit. For my photographs, I had to position it behind a tree.

Loch Sheil
Tue 24th May.

A classic shot of the Jacobite steam train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct. The driver obligingly opened the steam regulator for the many photographers waiting on the hill side.

The Glenfinnan viaduct was the bridge to Hogwarts in Harry Potter.

Glenfinnan Viaduct Glenfinnan Viaduct

We managed to get ahead of the train when it stopped at Glenfinnan station. We shot some photographs as it steamed along the far shore of Loch Eilt.

Loch Eilt Loch Eilt

We found this boat house at the western end of Loch Eilt.

Boat House Boat House Boat House

We stopped at Morar station on the way back to photograph another steam train: A Stanier Black 5 Locomotive '44871'.

Black 5 Black 5

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the northern side of Loch Morar near Bracora. It was a pleasant walk, although I struggled to find interesting images. I think the waterfall images look better in monochrome.

Loch Morar Loch Morar
Waterfall Waterfall
Waterfall Waterfall
Stile Stile
Wed 25th May.

Wednesday was spent exploring the Ardnamurchan peninsular.

Castle Tioram is built on the tidal island of Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart. It is also known as "Dorlin Castle".

Castle Tioran Castle Tioran Castle Tioran Loch Moidart Castle Tioran Castle Tioran Castle Tioran Castle Tioran

We eventually arrived at Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly point on the island of Great Britain.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse was built in 1849 to a design by Alan Stevenson. The former keepers' cottages and outbuildings are owned by the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust and operated as a visitor centre. Exhibits detail the history and operations of the lighthouse, including access to the restored engine room and workshop.

The lamp, surrounded by glass prisms made an interesting image.

Lamp Lamp

In front of the lighthouse is the original red painted fog horn.

Fog Horn

I repeated this shot using my D810 with a polarizing filter to get better colour saturation and a deep blue sky.

Fog Horn Fog Horn

Next to the lighthouse are some rusting cylindrical tanks. The rust patterns made some interesting abstract images. Initially I uesd my Canon G11 handheld.

Rust Rust Rust Rust Rust Rust Rust
Rust Rust Rust

I later re-shot some of the rust images using my D810 and a tripod to make sure they were sharp.

Sanna Bay.

Sanna Bay lies just to the north of the lighthouse.

Sanna Bay Sanna Bay Sanna Bay Sanna Bay Sanna Bay

The light was starting to fade as we headed back.

Ardnamuchen

Fishing boats at sunset with Eigg in the distance.

Sunset Sunset
Thu 26th May.
Inverie.

A ferry boat trip from Mallaig to Inverie on the Knoydart Peninsular. The ferry also calls at Tarbet Bay on North Morar. Tarbet has a permanent population of 6 and is not connected to any roads, access is either by ferry or footpath from Bracorina.

Although on the mainland of Britain, the few miles of single-track road around Inverie are not connected to the rest of the national road network. Inverie is only reachable, aside from a 17-mile (27 km) hike over very rough terrain, by a regular 7-mile (11 km) ferry from Mallaig, giving the place a Guinness National Record for remoteness.

The Old Forge is the remotest pub in mainland Britain, being furthest from roads connected to the national network. We called into the pub while waiting for the return ferry. By the time we managed to get served, the pub had run out of beer!

Although it made a nice excursion, I struggled to find interesting images at Inverie.

Fishing Boat North Morar Inverie Inverie Inverie Inverie
Mallaig.

On arriving back at Mallaig we found the steam train preparing to depart.

Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite Jacobite
Mallaig Harbour

I struggled to find any really interesting images around Mallaig harbour. I ended up with a few unexciting record shots of the fishing boats. The piers underneath the jetty produced some more unusual images.

Harbour

I think the jetty images work better in monochrome.

Harbour Harbour Harbour
Fri 27th May.
Loch an Nostarie.

I got up early and took a walk to the nearby Loch an Nostarie. I took a some record shots using my Canon G11 but failed to find any outstanding images.

This abstract image of a corrugated shed roof was the best I could do.

Tin Roof
Lochailort.

More images of the steam train near Lochailort

Jacobite
Loch Nan Uamh Viaduct.

The Loch Nan Uamh Viaduct was opened in 1901. It is built from concrete and carries the West Highland Railway over the A830 and the 'Allt A Mhama' burn that runs from Loch Mama into Loch Nan Uamh.

The weather was cloudy and the light was flat and not very inspiring. It really needed a steam train on the viaduct to create a good image. I resorted to a few hand held record shots using the Canon G11.

Viaduct Viaduct Viaduct Viaduct

They look a bit more interesting in monochrome.

Viaduct Viaduct

An abstract image of Rockweed along the shore of the loch and a fern against patterned rock.

Rockweed Fern
Arisaig.

The small village of Arisaig is at the head of Loch Nan Ceall. I tried to find interesting pictorial images around the village and the loch.

Boat Boat Cottage Door Boat Fishing Nets Boat Detail Boat Detail Boat Detail
Maelrubha's Chapel.

Maelrubha's Chapel is an early 16th Century ruined church dedicated to St. Maelrubha situated in an ancient graveyard in Arisaig.

Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Gravestone Gravestone Gravestone
Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel Maelrubha's Chapel
Arisaig Railway Station.

Arisaig Railway Station is a small station on the West Highland Line. It was opened in 1901. We arrived just in time to photograph the steam train on it's way to Fort William.

Arisaig Station Arisaig Station Arisaig Station Arisaig Station Arisaig Station
Arisaig Station Arisaig Station Arisaig Station Arisaig Station Arisaig Station
Glasnacardoch.

The railway passed right next to the cottage where we stayed. These photos of the steam train were shot from the garden.

Jacobite Jacobite
Sat 28th May.

Most of Saturday was spent travelling south to Northumberland where we stayed at Budle Hall near Bamburgh.

Forth Bridges.

We stopped to photograph the Forth bridges. I created a stitched panorama using my Canon G11.

The Queensferry bridge, under construction in the photograph, was opened in August 2017.

Forth Bridges
Northumberland.

We found time to photograph Bamburgh Castle on Saturday evening.

Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle

Here are some monochrome versions.

Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle Bamburgh Castle
Sun 29th May.

Budle Hall is a short walk from the sands of Budle Bay. A group of three horses made a useful foreground.

Horses

The weather was dull and cloudy, so we decided to visit the nearby Roughting Linn waterfall. Waterfalls always look better in overcast conditions.

Roughting Linn.

Roughting Linn waterfall is a hidden gem. It has to be one of the most photogenic falls I have ever visited. At this time of year, the falls are surrounded by bluebells and fresh yellow-green ferns.

Near the path leading to the falls are a number of ancient circular rock carvings. I didn't include photos of the carvings; they can easily be found on other web sites.

Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn

The waterfall images also look good in monochrome.

Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn Roughting Linn
Lindisfarne.

Lindisfarne has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. Unfortunately the sky was bland during our visit.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne

I resorted to replacing the sky using Photoshop.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne

The up-turned boats used as fisherman's sheds have been much photographed.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne

Again, these work well in monochrome.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne

The tatty tarpaulin shed roofs made interesting images. I might be able to use them as backgrounds sometime in the future.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne

We did not have time to explore or photograph the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. In any case, the weather conditions were not ideal.

Miscellaneous, not particularly exciting images of crab/lobster boats and fishing gear along the shore.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne

A few images from inside Lindisfarne Castle itself. Visitors are not allowed to carry backpacks or tripods inside the castle; they have to be left in lockers outside. I was not happy about leaving expensive camera gear in a locker.

It was dark inside, so difficult to photograph hand-held.

Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne Lindisfarne
Mon 30th May.
Budle Point.

I got up before dawn and walked along the footpath behind the golf course to Budle Point. I was hoping to shoot a colourful sunrise but was disappointed. Then I spotted a man walking his dog on the otherwise deserted beach. This image was shot at 3:53 in the morning!

Budle Point
Bamburgh.

We paid a visit to the Grace Darling Museum. in Bamburgh.

Grace Darling was an English lighthouse keeper's daughter, famed for participating in the rescue of survivors from the shipwrecked "Forfarshire" in 1838. The paddle steamer ran aground on the Farne Islands; nine members of her crew were saved.

The Grace Darling Memorial monument is in St. Aiden's Church opposite the museum.

St Aiden's Church St Aiden's Church St Aiden's Church Wall
Rain.

It began to rain as we were about to begin the long drive home. I took this abstract of a passing line of motorcycles in Bamburgh from inside the car.

Rain
The Angel Of The North.

We stopped in Gateshead near the Angel Of The North sculpture for a bite to eat on the way back. As usual the sculpture was surrounded by people taking selfies. To avoid them I had to get in close to the base.

Angel Of The North Angel Of The North Angel Of The North Angel Of The North

Removing the people using Photoshop was the other option.

Angel Of The North Angel Of The North

News: Apr 2016

Computer/Website News

This is the first month in which I start to use my new Nikon D810.

I bought three new Nikon FX lenses to go with the new camera: 17->35mm wideangle, 28->70mm mid range and 80->400mm telephoto. Luckily I found the ones I wanted in used but mint condition on the internet.

Computer Upgrade

The new camera meant upgrading my computer and operating system:- I was using Photoshop CS6 with Camera RAW 8.3 under Windows XP. This version of Camera RAW does not support RAW files from the D810. There is a newer version of Camera RAW (9.1.1) that is compatible with Photoshop CS6 and supports the D810. Unfortunately, this version will not install or run under Windows XP. Hence it was time to upgrade to a more up-to-date and faster 64 bit PC running Windows 10. This should also help to handle the larger image files from the 36Mpix D810.

The new computer was built by Chillblast and is optimised for image processing.

There were a few initial teething troubles with the new PC: I don't think Chillblast could have tested the system properly before shipping:-

  • Initially, the AKASA card reader did not work at all. I had to open up the case and hot plug the internal USB port and carry out a firmware update.
  • Overclocking was not configured in the BIOS, even though the PC was advertised as being overclocked.
  • The case fans were configured for DC rather than PWM operation in the BIOS which made them noisy.
  • The PC had an Intermittent start up fault requiring return to Chillblast for repair. This took 3 weeks. It was eventually traced to a faulty PSU and/or RAM.
  • Poor support when trying to get things put right. Emails took 2 days for a response. Phone calls were unanswered.

I subsequently added some additional components that were not part of the original configuration :-

  • Eizo ColorEdge CX271 Monitor (see below).
  • Epson Stylus Photo 1500W A3+ WiFi Printer. This was bought as a replacement for my 14 year old Epson Photo Stylus 1290. One of the cyan print heads in the 1290 failed. Repeated head cleaning using alcohol did not work. The printer was so old that replacement print heads were unobtainable. In any case, replacing the heads requires the use of special, hard to obtain, calibration and configuration software.
  • Inateck 5 port USB 3.0 expansion card. The ASUS Z170-A motherboard provides 2 rear USB 3.0 ports, 2 rear USB 3.1 ports and 4 front USB 3.0 ports. Only two of the front USB 3.0 ports are brought out to sockets on the PC case. I needed more USB sockets to connect a Flatbed Scanner, USB backup drive, Graphics Tablet, Monitor Calibrator, Printer etc.
  • Seagate 5TB USB 3.0 drive for backups.
  • Wacom Intuos Pro medium graphics tablet. The medium 'A4' size tablet is 338mm x 219mm.

After I eventually got everything working as it should, the old 32bit machine seems very sluggish in comparison. Booting is a lot quicker as are external backups over USB 3.0. Uploading a CF card using the built-in USB 3.0 card reader is much faster.

Monitor Upgrade

I replaced my heavy 19" IIyama Vision Master 454 CRT monitor with a colour calibrated 27" Eizo ColorEdge CX271. The new monitor has an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels compared to an aspect ratio of 4:3 and 1920 x 1440 pixels on the IIyama.

I decided against a higher resolution monitor because of potential backward compatibility issues with older software. Using software that does not have built in support for high definition displays can result in text that appears too small to be readable. In this case, although you can increase the text size in the operating system, it simply scales up the pixels resulting in text with jagged edges.

Broadband

As part of the upgrade I switched my broadband connection from ADSL-2 over a copper landline to high speed fibre optic broadband (FTTP). The download speed has increased from around 8Mb/s over ASDL to 38Mb/s. Upload speeds were initially around 1.9Mb/s but have now been increased to 9.5Mb/s This makes uploading images to the website much faster. The connection is also much more reliable.

Software Upgrades

Migrating and upgrading software from 32bit Windows XP to 64bit Windows 10 was a major upheaval.

As well as upgrading to Photoshop CS6, I have started using Lightroom to help manage my ever increasing library of images.

Although MS Office 2003 runs under Windows 7, I discovered it would not run correctly under Windows 10. This meant upgrading to Office 2013. This in turn meant using a new version of MS Access for my image database. There were a few problems along the way:-

  • Warnings about digital signatures, certificates, trusted CAs etc, etc for Visual Basic code & macros in the database modules. These were self-signed on the old PC, but not recognised as trusted on the new PC. I had to use the 'mmc' tool to install myself as a trusted root CA.
  • The MS Access database uses a third party utility called ExifTool to read the exif data from NEF files. This initially failed under Windows 10 because ExifTool needs to be run as admin.
  • I discovered a couple of run time errors that needed to be fixed in Visual Basic support code in some Access database forms.

Hopefully everything now seems to be working ok.

Photography News
Willen Daffodils (Thu 7th Apr).

Daffodils at St. Mary Magdalene's Church at Willen. These were some of the first images shot using the new Nikon D810.

Willen Daffodils Willen Daffodils
Rosebury Music Room (Tue 26th Apr).

I have photographed this little church many times in the past. The sunlight and dark clouds on this occasion were perfect.

Holy Trinity
Tree Cathedral (Sat 30th Apr).

The backlit yellow-green spring leaves at the Tree Cathedral near Willen looked good in the morning light.

Tree Cathedral
Peace Pagoda (Sat 30th Apr).

The sky looked interesting, so I couldn't resist another shot of a much photographed subject. A polarizing filter helped darken the blue sky and bring out the cloud detail.

Peace Pagoda

News: Feb 2016

Painting News

The weather in late Jan / early Feb has been mostly cold, grey, damp and dull. Instead of venturing out with my camera, I spent my spare time working on a new oil painting. It is based on a painting by one of my favorite sea and sailing ship artists: Charles Vickery.

The painting is 16" x 12" on canvas board. I prefer to paint on larger size stretched canvas, but I inherited a number of smaller oil boards so decided to use one of them.

Painting the movement and reflections of waves, sea and surf is a challenge, but I'm reasonably happy the result. The clouds need a bit more work: Some additional shadow will hopefully make them appear more three dimensional.

I used quick drying Alkyd Oil Paints. These still need to dry for several weeks before the finished painting can be varnished.

Surf
Photography News
Woolstone Church (Sun 14th Feb).

A split toned monochrome photograph of the Holy Trinity Church in Woolstone. This was shot handheld.

This viewpoint is about the only one that gives a reasonable composition without the foreground trees obscuring the view.

Woolstone Church
Oak Tree (Sun 14th Feb).

A split toned monochrome HDR image of the Oak Tree at Woughton.

The image is really about the sky and clouds. The tree is just there as a focal point for the composition.

HDR was needed to handle the large contrast range. It prevents complete burnout of the bright sun and stops the tree from becoming a totally black silhouette.

Unlike most of my other recent images of this tree, this was not shot at dawn. It was actually taken in the middle of the afternoon.

Oak Tree
Sunrise (Tue 16th Feb).

Another nice image of the Oak Tree at sunrise.

It was bitterly cold and the water was frozen. I really liked the soft pastel yellow, pink and blue colours in the sky.

Oak Tree
Sunrise (Wed 17th Feb).

This has to be most colourful image of the Oak Tree and sunrise I have managed to capture so far. The colour in the sky was amazing. It looked so unreal that I had to reduce the colour saturation during processing.

Oak Tree

I also took some shots of the sky reflections in the nearby pond. To my mind, this image is not quite as good as it used to be. Originally there used to be a group of three large Horse Chestnut trees reflected in the water. This made for a pleasing composition. Unfortunately the center tree fell down a couple of years ago.

Woughton Pond
D200 Battery Problems.

While attempting to capture a few more images before the sky colour disappeared, I experienced the same problem with my camera that I had last month. The camera stopped working and an 'Err' message was displayed.

I now believe the problem to be that the battery level indicator on the camera no longer acurately reflects the actual condition of the batteries. It means that when the battery power drops, it can give shutter and/or CF card write problems even though the battery indicator suggests the batteries are ok.

The problem is more likely to occur in cold temperatures and gets worse as the batteries age.

Cameras such as the D3X have a calibration function which allows the battery indicator to more accurately reflect the amount of power remaining.

Until I replace the batteries, I will have to ensure they are fully charged before I got out and not rely on the battery level indicator in the camera.

News: Jan 2016

Photography News

Another year rolls by. Images from 2015 have now been moved into the 'news archive' pages.

It's hard to believe it's 12 years since I first created this website.

Nikon D500.

After a 9 year wait, Nikon's replacement for the D200/D300/D300s has finally arrived. For some unknown reason they decided to name it the D500 rather than D400.

My initial impressions are that the introductory price of £1729 is expensive. For just £100 more you could buy a discounted D810 during the end of year sales. I expect the D500 price will come down after a few months.

The big advantages over the D7200 are the 'pro style' controls (similar to the D200) and the fast continuous shooting rate (10 FPS and a 79 frame buffer). As I am not into sports or action photography, continuous high speed shooting will be of limited use for me. I hardly ever use high speed continuous shooting (Ch mode) on my D200.

The lack of an in built flash is a disappointment. I don't use flash often on the D200 but there are times when it can be useful.

The tilting screen from the D750 is a great feature. Having used the flip screen on the Canon G11 for some time, I know how useful it can be.

I believe that like Nikon's latest FX cameras, the D500 has a virtual horizon. I often use a hot shoe spirit level on the D200, so this will be a welcome addition. However, if it's the same as the FX implementation, the viewfinder tilt indicators are not easily visible when the subject is dark.

Video and Live View were not available on the D200. These will be useful new features.

The 10 Pin connector and PC flash sync socket have been retained. This is a good thing. It makes me wonder why these were removed on the D750. A consistent interface makes it easier to use existing accessories.

The ISO and MODE button positions have been moved. I would prefer it if they tried to keep the user interface as consistent as possible between different camera models.

The new 20.9 MPix sensor is an unknown quantity. For me, dynamic range is an important factor. Having double the number of pixels compared to the D200 will be good. The 24MPix sensor used on the D7200 has excellent dynamic range.

The D200 sensor was never very good at low light levels: Noise becomes apparent at ISO 400. I would expect this to be much better on the D500. It will be interesting to compare the two when DxOMARK eventually carry out the tests.

Lack of built in RAW support in Photoshop CS6 for new cameras like the D500 will be an issue for me. I don't want to upgrade to the subscription version Photoshop CC. The alternative would mean converting new NEF files to DNG using separate utility software.

I still use Photoshop CS6. As I still use Windows XP, CS6 does not support RAW files from recent Nikon DSLRs such as the D7200, D750 and D810. The last RAW converter plugin supported by CS6 is 9.1.1. Camera RAW 9.1.1 does support the above cameras (but not the new D500). The problem is that the software requires Windows 7 or later to install and run. Camera RAW 8.3 is the last version that will operate with Windows XP. Hence I will need to buy a new PC running Windows 7 (or Windows 10) when I upgrade my D200.

Oak Tree (Wed 13th Jan).

An HDR image of an Oak Tree at sunrise reflected in the water at the Ouzel Valley Park in Woughton On The Green.

Oak Tree

A non HDR version of the same scene. I placed a dead branch in the foreground to help the composition.

Oak Tree

I experienced a problem with my CF card while attempting to capture the sunrise images. This was an 8GB Sandisk card I had used a few times in the past.

I initially took a few shots without any problems, then the camera stopped working. It was displaying 'Err' on the top LCD panel. I couldn't see the actual error code as it was still quite dark.

When I tried to review the images on the card, I got the message 'File Does Not Contain Image Data'. At the time, I thought this meant I had lost all the images on the card.

The battery level looked ok. When I tried removing and refitting the battery, the 'Err' message was still displayed. I tried replacing the battery with my spare - it made no difference.

The CF card was nowhere near full. I tried re-seating the card but it made no difference.

Next I tried replacing the CF card with another but the 'Err' message was still displayed. The only thing that cleared the fault was when I reformatted the second CF card.

By now the colour in the sky had started to fade. I took a few more shots using the second CF card and went back home to try and figure out what went wrong.

The camera was set to 'auto exposure bracketing' mode at the time with 3 exposures per shot (0, -1 stop, +1 stop). The exposure mode was set to 'continuous low speed shooting' (Cl). This is the set up I usually use for HDR.

When I got home, I put the first CF card back in the camera. All the images were there, apart from two of the bracketed exposures for the last image: The first two shots (0, -1 stop) for the last image were missing. Upon examining the files on my computer using a card reader, the file before last indicated a size of zero. Luckily the +1 stop image was still usable.

I assume there must have been an error during a flash write operation - maybe an intermittent battery or CF contact. It's possible CF card itself has developed a fault.

Oak Tree Revisited (Fri 15th Jan).

Another early morning start (6:30am) and another attempt to photograph the oak tree at sunrise at Woughton. Although the clouds looked promising, they were too low in the sky and didn't show much colour as the sun came up.

A sharp overnight frost meant that this time the water in the puddle in the foreground was completely frozen over.

The dead branch I had placed in the puddle earlier in the week was still there. I think it improves the composition by providing a lead-in for the eye.

These images were taken well before the sun appeared over the horizon. It was still quite dark and required exposure times of several seconds. Exposure bracketing and HDR processing were used to handle the contrast range.

An annoying speck of sensor dust appeared in the sky area of many of the images. The Photoshop spot healing brush made a good job of removing it.

Oak Tree Oak Tree
Snow (Sun 17th Jan).

The first snowfall of the winter. The sky remained grey and bland throughout the day, so it was difficult to make good photographs.

Oak Tree Holy Trinity
Early Morning Frost (Tue 19th and Wed 20th Jan).

More sharp overnight frosts. The temperature remained close to zero during the daylight hours.

I made some more attempts to photograph the sunrise. As before, I used the oak tree and pond at Woughton as a foreground.

It's almost impossible to predict how the sky will look as dawn approaches. You just have to make the effort to get up early and be in the right position at the right time just in case.

The cloud patterns looked interesting on Tuesday, although I was hoping for more colour in the sky.

Oak Tree Woughton Pond Oak Tree Oak Tree

After the sun had risen I photographed a few abstract ice patterns in frozen puddles using my macro lens.

Ice Patterns Ice Patterns Ice Patterns
Barges (Wed 20th Jan).

A row of barges moored on the frozen Grand Union Canal.

Barges
Sunrise (Mon 25th Jan).

Another attempt to catch the sunrise at Woughton.

There was just enough high cloud to give a bit more colour in the sky. The weather had warmed slightly so this time there was no ice which meant better reflections in the water.

These are both three exposure (-1,0,+1) HDR images. I had to be careful to avoid the flocks of birds flying from their overnight roosts during the exposures.

Oak Tree Oak Tree
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