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Just checking in…..48 hours late

The last 48 hours have been manic. I have not had two minutes to even contemplate blogging. Well, actually that’s a tiny fib as I re-blogged a small post yesterday; what I actually meant to say was that my normal afternoon typing marathon on the PC disappeared in to oblivion yesterday.

Monday morning reality sank in. That dreaded word echoed around my head like the never-ending tone of tinnitus. “Dentist !!! ” I know, I know..most of you don’t mind and its routine but I do mind and by no means is it routine. My dentist has deserted me a few times over the years as they always seem to be leaving. The phrase “This will be the last time you see me” has now become a familiar saying on my visits. So back to square one and a new dentist; maybe things just wouldn’t be so bad after all I had not been having any problems why would it be any different. I had tried to put it to the back of my mind over the weekend and just get on with life as normal but it was just sat in the back of my head like an itch that wouldn’t go away. “Be brave, be brave Mark just a walk in the park” is all I kept saying to myself.

One final brush and rinse and I was on my way. I arrived about 15 minutes early as the rush hour traffic for a Monday wasnt as heavy as I perhaps thought. This presented me with a choice: a 10 minute wait in the comfort of my warm car or a 10 minute wait in the surgery watching other victims leaving after been inflicted with unecessary pain. I opted for the first and stayed warm listening to Radio Aire.

When the time came it wasnt that bad actually, I stayed calm, took some deep breaths and pretended to be strong. I could hear the voice of Richard Hammond from BBC’s Top Gear…”Scared, Scared, Scared…quite scared..still scared..very scared”. That was me….scared. Actually the dentist was fine, nice guy..I went through the usual routine, you know what I mean…sit down, open wide, any problems I should know about sir? No !, OK then just a quick clean and off you trot. That wasnt quite how it went! Gutted isn’t the word.

From my viewpoint laid down in that wretched chair I could just see the expression on his face as he prodded his prodder and articulated his Budgie mirror for a better view. The wrinkles on his forehead were enough, three of four times he got to the same tooth and he repositioned himself to another angle. Everytime he reached my front right tooth he stopped. Only five minutes before, after asking me if I there had been any problems he commented how clean and nice my teeth were, what on earth has he found wrong with one of my front teeth. My original state of worry and fear had subsided when I sat down, but as he progressed his way around my top row of teeth from the back to the front and back in the opposite, a sudden state of nervousness returned resulting in my stomach dropping through my backside. The words I had never expected to hear now bounced off all four walls. “You’ve cracked your front tooth”. Oh S***t I mouthed without the words coming out. I had this mental vision of my face next to Jimmy Nail’s mug shot comparing similarities with a toothless Oz (Oz been his character in Auf Wiedersehen Pet)

tumblr_mbhhvt0uzz1qhdw0vo1_400The image I found of “Oz” doesn’t really does his toothless smile justice as he hasn’t got his mouth open but a quick google search will reveal video clips of a more appropriate Oz. This took me totally by shock. Firstly, I just wasnt expecting it and secondly how and when on earth did that happen. Mr “lovely-dentist-person” advised me that he would do what he could to repair it, if not, all the options would be reviewed later. Maybe my vision of ones head on Jimmy Nail’s body was a little premature but it was a scary thought nevertheless. I left the chair (and the surgery come to think of it) like a stabbed rat. (That’s a Top Gear expression I think) and made a beeline for the exit. Unfortunately, I will have to return.

Monday evening was cold, a lot colder than the average for the end of April in Yorkshire anyway but I chose to take a trip up to Yeadon Dam/Tarn. The opportunity to take photographs when there is some nice golden light should never be turned away.  The whole place was buzzing with activity, it was quite a surprise really as the wind and the cold normally puts people off walking in circles around a shallow stretch of water. I could have understood if the Little Fisherman had been open as the hypocritical excuse of a little exercise after scoffing fish and chips is one commonly used by visitors, but it wasnt. Mondays are a closed day, much to the delight of the missus.

As always with my passion for photography, I knew what I wanted. I was looking for silhouettes, low light images with plenty of shadows. Even the possibility of a colourful sunset. As the sun sank so did the temperatures and before long it was bitterly cold.  With a 28-135 IS lens on I grabbed what I could, when I could. I managed to get questioned by a swan and after poking its beak in my lens it withdrew its ideas and carried on foraging. Looking in to the sun can create some wonderful effects, including light flare in abundance. Doing just what I love felt great, cold but great. I kept tapping away composing and grabbing what I could. Always best to get more than what you need as you can always dispose of what you don’t require.

The limited clouds that were loitering around the sun an hour before were now dissipating with the cold air and low pressure. The sun was dipping closer to the horizon creating a noticeable colour change in a narrow band across the scene. The gradient of colour from a pale orange to mid to dark blue was evident as I carried on capturing silhouettes. Runners, walkers, dogs, swans, ducks, trees, houses and boats didn’t escape my viewfinder in the last thirty minutes.  A poor lens choice (again) left me composing a stitch as opposed to a single image with a nice silhouette of Cemetery Road, Yeadon as a foreground to the setting sun.

One hundred and eighty images later, with the sun now below the horizon I wandered the short distance back to my car. I was quite happy with the outcome, but as with any photo shoot what looks good on the camera back doesn’t necessarily look good on the computer back home. Only time would tell. Sitting in the car to examine my images soon gave way to the thought of getting home and feeling some warmth.

Tuesday morning started the same way Monday evening ended: taking photographs. Elaine has managed to get a place in the BUPA Great North Run this year and been her first time she is training hard to give her the best chance. You can actually follow her progress as she writes a blog called “Boothie is doing the Great North Run” every few days.  If you would like to donate some money towards Sue Ryder Wheatfields then you can visit Elaine’s Just Giving Page. If you have looked at the links show previously then you will understand Elaine’s passion for what she is doing. Elaine’s 10 kilometre training route incorporates a circuit of Yeadon Dam/Tarn so whilst waiting for her return it seemed like a good idea to capture a few more images. Well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it? She wouldn’t mind, would you Elaine?

Might as well make use of the sunshine so off I went. In total contrast to 12 hours earlier, the light was excellent, the sun warmed the morning air and the colour was vibrant. The Swans were just as nosey, the Geese just as rowdy and in between all this the ducks were in abundance.  The shot that probably made the morning was a gentleman fishing by the side of the tarn, he was smoking a pipe and as I was facing in to the sun the light was catching the smoke being expelled from his long pipe. I waited and waited for the perfect opportunity. He was total unaware of my presence which really helped the situation. I envisaged the image in monochrome with the smoke showing up against the dark background. Unfortunately he had a small tent by the side of him and no matter which position I stood in I couldn’t manage to get a decent image that didn’t contain part of the structure of the tent. Still, despite that I was reasonably happy with the outcome. A small preview is shown below and as I am now over 300 images in editing arrears. I will post a link from the last two days shooting on a subsequent blog entry.


Thanks for looking, as always comments are very welcome and in particular if you like the image above. Thank you.


D-Day….Do it !

cloud12The Pain has gradually got worse over the last couple of weeks until it eventually made me sick. In truth I am not sure what actually made me sick. It could have been the excessive medication or the pain, either way it wasnt very nice. So ten days ago I booked a doctor’s appointment to see try get some pain management sorted out once and for all. Ten days to wait for an appointment, what is the world coming too. Ok, Easter had positioned itself right in the middle but what can you do about that. The whole system seems to grind to a halt for that reason yet aircraft still fly, Hospitals still care, Police still patrol and shops still open.

So I carry on, the pain is there but I still…carry..on…. I must, I have a wife and children and I have a purpose too. Otherwise we give up.

I am now going to grumble about the weather again. Yesterday I ventured out early in the frost to be greeted by a very clear but beautiful dawn. Tarnfield Park at sunrise is sublime. Less than half a dozen people are around at 6:00 am and it feels like you have the place to yourself. That is of course if you choose to ignore the abundance of bird life. Yesterdays sunrise was somewhat bland; a distinct lack of clouds to create some colour and the whole image lacked another dimension if you know what I am getting at. It looked more like a small silhouette with an enormous orange to blue graduated filter; something I could have created in two minutes using Photoshop.

Bad news….this morning was exactly the same. This got me thinking so I decided to look back through my archives and in particular last years images from this time. Guess what?

Cloud !! Well, just a little bit. Every image from around this time appears to have very little cloud. I have studied sunrises and sunsets for years and if you look through my pages on here you will see a full article on them.  The temperature has a huge influence on clouds; during sunrise and sunseta good opportunity arises to observe different aspects of clouds. During these periods, changes in the contrast and colour are observed as well as structure of the clouds. Such sunrises and sunsets can develop into some of the most spectacular events that exist in meteorology.

Obviously, sunrise and sunset are mostly noted for the associated changes in the colour of the sky especially around the sun. On some occasions, clouds will also reveal different colour patterns if present around sunrise and sunset. It is very difficult to describe the various colour changes that occur with the different clouds around these times. But there are general stages that are associated with the times from dawn to sunrise and sunset to dusk.

The heights of the clouds have an important influence on the length of times that cloud reflections occur. The higher the cloud, the longer the cloud bases will be able to reflect light. In fact, high clouds will reflect light for periods of up to 30 minutes whilst low clouds will typically reflect light from their bases for around 5 to 10 minutes. The reason for such a vast difference is that lower level clouds near the horizon are much closer to the observer ( around 1 to 15 kilometres away) than clouds at higher levels which may be up to a few hundred kilometres away. The cloud bases of higher clouds therefore reflect light well before sunrise and remain so until just before sunrise. The same situation still applies for sunset but in the opposite order. The process of sunrise and sunset obviously occurs in a set pattern. Let us consider only one level of cloud in the sky. The cloud closest to the horizon will reflect light first. Gradually, clouds further away will also begin reflecting light. The process continues with colours changing from red and pink to yellow although occasionally some blue or violets are also observed. This of course depends on the heights of the cloud and the patterns of their bases.

Now, if combinations of clouds occur, then different patterns will be observed representing the different reflections of light from different levels of clouds in the atmosphere. This means that the higher clouds are still reflecting light from the sunrise for instance and lower level clouds are only observed as darker regions with no light being reflected from their bases. In the case of the lower clouds in particular, their shadows are observed as well as the sun’s rays. This provides the observer with the opportunity to observe the outline structure of the clouds, especially cumuliform clouds with rounded tops such as cumulus.

During sunrise and sunset, even the same types of cloud may appear different in various regions of the sky. Cumulus, for example, will reflect more light at the opposite regions of the sky to that of the sun as compared to cloud closest to the sun. This creates a varied contrast and must be taken into account by observers trying to determine the different types of clouds in the sky.

Sunrise and sunset represent a short period of time where there are changes in the intensity of light and the colour of the sky signifying the transition between day and night. It is important to note that sunrise and sunset occur as a result of the earth’s rotation and not the movement of the sun around the earth. We obviously know the sun does not revolve around the earth. Nevertheless, it is more “convenient” to associate the sun as the object moving across the sky (which is its relative observed motion) especially when referring to and explaining weather concepts.

Both sunrise and sunset reveal changes in the colour and intensity of the sky during the morning and evening respectively. The changes in colour occur due to light passing through the atmosphere being scattered at different frequencies. The frequencies that lie in the spectrum of red will be scattered by light particles more than those frequencies in the blue spectrum. This means that the sky near the sun on the horizon will appear red since the light will be scattered to the observer. On the other hand, red light from the sun whilst it is well above the horizon will be scattered away from the observer. The light from the blue spectrum will be scattered least and hence pass through the atmosphere straight to the observer. The sky therefore during the day will normally appear blue. The light during the period from dawn to sunrise increases in intensity near where the sun will eventually rise and eventually covers the whole sky area. The intensity also increases radially away from the sun’s rising position. It therefore becomes easier for an observer to predict where the sun will rise. The process during sunset occurs in reverse.

Of course there are other factors that influence how sunrises and sunsets vary from one location to another. The latitude is one of the most important factors and is directly associated with the length of sunrises and sunsets. For instance, in the most extreme case, both the north and south pole during their respective summers have 24 hour sunshine just above the horizon and therefore have the longest sunrises at certain times of the year. During winter, the sun is non existant with complete darkness.

Another factor is the altitude. In fact, altitude can influence the appearance of sunrises and sunsets in two ways. First, if the observer is located in high mountains, the sunrise and sunsets may appear earlier or later depending which way the mountain faces . Second, if other areas exist to disturb the pattern of the normal landscape, then this will influence the amount of colour visible during sunrises and sunsets.

I am yet to edit the images from yesterday so this morning’s is at the back of the queue. I will post the image as soon as I can. Breakfast next, then the doctors waiting room. Cross fingers.

Bye for now.

Nearly Spring | Tarnfield Park

Finally, some sunshine. This light was just crying out for some photo opportunities. Just two minutes away is a location that always has the ability to host some photography.

Only managed this one though, its a two-image photo-stitch. Thanks for looking

Via Flickr:
A stitch of two images taken with my Canon G9 A beautiful, but cold morning.

Finally, some light

After the atrocious weather over the last few days and only a slight dusting of snow overnight it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun this morning. Ah yes, sun I here you say? Remember, that spherical object that sits in our universe providing light and heat to our world.  It made an appearance this morning, and in style too. In fact it was so nice that a proper camera was taken out of moth balls as Elaine and I proceeded to have a very gentle saunter around the dam (also known as Yeadon Tarn). On a side note, don’t get me going on this one, apparently it doesn’t matter what I call the “puddle of water” I always get it wrong.

Yeadon in the snow

Yeadon in the snow

But that’s another story, one I wish to try to avoid for fear of upsetting the locals. The water was 90% frozen and covered in a thin layer of snow and how pleasant it was. The sun appeared to be generating some winter heat and before I knew it the gloves were off and stowed away in a spare pocket and the fleece jacket zip was lowered to half mast. I took a staggering 176 images this morning which considering I took 1700 in January 2012 as a whole and bearing in mind that this is the first outing this year I don’t think I did too bad. There was plenty to see and capture by camera too; far too much for me to demonstrate on my blog. If you head over to my Flickr pages in a few days time I will have uploaded a whole set from this morning. The light was sublime; an ideal winters day for a landscape photographer. Crisp, clear, long shadows, plenty of contrast all set against the blue. I was in my element. I had expected exactly that and my only failing was leaving the tripod behind.

Yeadon in Winter

Yeadon in Winter

I always carry a tripod with me, even if it’s just in the boot of the car. I have been asked why so many times. The answer, well I am quietly confident that any photographers will already know the solution to that question but here goes anyway. The use of a tripod has an obvious answer and a not so obvious answer. I am going way back now and digging up this from the bowels of my photography history so here goes. The tripod is one of the photographers best friends; but not something you see being used everyday. Ask yourself the question…when did you last see a photographer? I don’t mean someone with a camera, I mean a “Photographer” with a tripod? That’s because it’s not such a common sight anymore; all down to the advent of digital photography combined with upgraded equipment and image stabilised lenses. Its true, why spend time trying to create something in the field when you can do exactly the same thing back home in the warmth of your living room using Adobe software. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Yeadon in the snow

Yeadon in the snow

There are a few uses for a tripod, as much as they are a bind to carry around. Firstly, they are fantastic at holding the camera still for you; preventing movement and increasing stability. I am only joking, they are THE best thing for holding your camera still. The ultimate objective of the tripod. When the ground is covered in snow or wet from the rain, the little hook on the centre column is great for holding your camera bag whilst you fiddle around with your camera settings. A tripod is also handy when it comes to getting the horizon or verticals completely level, once you have set it up using the spirit level, Bob’s your uncle. Another one for you….close up and macro photography like taking photos of small objects close-up can require a lot of skill, and minor movements will be crucial to a perfect image. Using a tripod will noticeably reduce unwanted movement of the camera. My ultimate reason for using a tripod, to increase depth of field in landscape photography. By closing the aperture down to f27 or similar and slowing the shutter speed down to match your landscape images take on a whole new meaning. Sharp and clear from front to back. So there you go, a few benefits of the tripod. The next time you head out of the door, consider taking her with you, that’s the tripod by the way.

Thank you for reading today’s short blog. I hope you like the images and also understand why it was an opportunity not to be missed.

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