That’s A Nice Pic, What’s For Dinner Love?

That’s A Nice Pic, What’s For Dinner Love?

13

MAY, 2013

I often get asked how I produce the results that I do, “has it something to do with the camera I use or is there a special filter in the post processing phase that adds the last touch?” The answer is quite simple, Practice is the holy word. Not only are you training your eyes & other senses but you become confident over time, knowing what to look for, how to master a challenge & being out often raises the chance of shooting something special. Things are always happening, you just have to be present & ready to capture the moment.

Have you ever noticed how little time people have these days to concentrate on one thing for more than 5 seconds? One of the negative aspects of the High-Tech world we live in I take it. With the constant flow of information through hundreds of different TV programmes, radio stations & of course through social media & internet. Hardly anyone buys a “real” book these days as they load it as an Ebook from Itunes onto the iPad or iPhone. I  wonder if any of these Ebooks get read through so many other things that one has as distraction. I bet that the last “real” book that you bought was delivered from an online order from Amazon. There was a time when if you wanted to book a table in a restaurant that you used the phone to do so, today its almost obligatory to send a mail or SMS. When was the last time you were in a music store to buy a “CD” or even a “DVD”?

This constant need to be informed, to be on top of everything and have an answer to all possible questions be it the weather prognose 5 days in advance in Wisconsin or who’s making the biggest minus on the stock exchange in Tokyo & so on. The problem is that 99% of this information gets overwritten with the next wave of information on the following day & so we are all just skipping through a jungle of data that most of us just can’t filter into important or rubbish.

The same is unfortunately true for pictures, nobody shows a genuine interest for a good picture anymore because the world is just saturated with good pictures. I notice this often, I observe how people use the Internet. There are of course more than enough internet junkies out there but also the average user spends little more than 5 minutes on one particular website as the search goes on with numerous links that send the viewer from one side of the data autobahn to the other. I am no exception, I hardly notice sometimes that I have left the original site I was viewing & have landed somewhere totally different. Time just flies by, your life just flies by watching what other people are doing as you yourself vegetate in front of your computer.

Looking at pictures from others is easier than motivating yourself to take your own. Unfortunately for many people photography starts & ends with spending the money buying the equipment. The only way to get good at anything whether it be football, driving, singing, making pictures or generally anything is through practice even if you have got talent.

 

“Looking at pictures from others is easier than motivating yourself to take your own. Unfortunately for many people photography starts & ends with spending the money buying the equipment.”

It is sometimes nauseating to hear how amateurs that have just bought their first DSLR discuss how and what their camera can do although an idea how to approach a photographic problem from a creative angle never gets discussed because naively they think that this is also solved with a particular menu function. If I say this then I just get laughed at. Then I get to hear something like, “Yes of course, a good photo is dependent on the good eye of a photographer” but then they continue with phrases like, “But what use is a good image if it is overexposed, grainy or blurry?” These are of course mistakes that everybody makes but after taking 10,000+ pictures this sort of thing shouldn’t happen very often anyway.

Of course these days I tend to view this sort of technical mumbo jumbo with a certain amount of humour, especially when I see what a lot of these so called professional amateurs produce. After the first 100-200 crap shots the enthusiasm starts to ebb and then the search goes on in Internet for “Tutorials” how to “Take photos like a professional” or “Three easy steps to better landscapes” or “A masterclass in portrait photography”. ROFL, the only thing basically that they are doing wrong is spending too much time orientating to results that others have produced rather than doing their own thing. The worst thing of course is that many give up and place that Holy Grail back in its expensive camera bag and disappears from sight into a cupboard until their next holiday.

Many have asked me for tips on which camera/lens combination they should buy although they know already what they are actually going to purchase because they have spent numerous sleepless nights scouring the Internet to find the perfect kit for the perfect price for those perfect photos. Rarely though do I get asked about techniques I use in the field actually taking photos. Questions about clothing, navigation, transportation, places or light never occur. The one question I am still waiting to be asked is: “What is the secret to taking a good photo?”. My answer is quite simple:

“Practice, practice, practice”

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What To Do On A Rainy Sunday

What To Do On A Rainy Sunday

13

MAY, 2013

There comes a time when the weather gets colder, the Autumn colours disappear & the days get shorter, Winter is just around the corner. Once the apartment starts getting cold & the heating period starts then I personally find it difficult to get up & go out to take pictures. That’s when I start experimenting indoors with the macro lens.

After a real up and down summer this year (more down than up unfortunately) it’s come to a point where the leaves have started to fall, the daylight hours are diminishing and the weekend is rained out yet again. Saturday was the official start to the Munich Octoberfest, the worlds biggest beer and folk festival. The start looked promising too, sunny weather, blue skies and a couple of fluffy white clouds to match the Bavarian chequered blue/white flag. Unfortunately as the day wore on the clouds started to get thicker and by 4 o’clock there was more water in the glass than beer.

The Oktoberfest was a washout this year unfortunately but the atmosphere inside was still unbelievable.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Even worse was the parade through the city on Sunday, normally a spectacular event with hundreds of thousands of spectators from all around the world coming to Munich to watch numerous associations present their traditional costumes and brass bands. This year though it rained and rained and rained, a complete wash out. I was hoping to see the parade this year but as I opened my curtains yesterday morning I had only one thought…….get back into bed. As I did eventually crawl out of bed and sat in front of my toast and Marmite the thought ocurred to me that Autumn/Fall is actually the best season for landscape photographers.

 

Autumn is my favourite season with the colours and more subdued lighting, plus the temperatures are perfect for hiking.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

“Autumn is about getting up early in darkness to drive down the empty motorway in direction of the mountains to capture ground mist blanketing the fields, hills & lakes.”

A little bit of product photography with help from tutorials & Youtube films can be very helpful.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

The challenge is to produce something as professional as possible with little effort & equipment.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Autumn is about getting up early in darkness to drive down the empty motorway in direction of the mountains to capture ground mist blanketing the fields, hills and lakes. The Autumn colours need I hardly mention, hills and valleys break out into wonderful tones of red and orange. Add to this the cooler temperatures and the first snow of the season powdering the mountain peaks combined with a clear blue sky and a warming sun there is nowhere I would rather be than there. But when it rains?

 

Such objects as this perfume bottle require quite a bit of work especially in the post due to very fine scratches & dusty surfaces.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Well, if my wife isn’t feeling in the mood for a walk through one of Munichs many parks followed by a warm coffee and a fine piece of German cake then I start making plans and space in my very small home office to accomodate my Tripod, a small table, a couple of table lamps and some sort of requisites that I find lying around in the flat to make some sort of Macro/Still-Life photos. I quite enjoyed myself in my mini studio and after 6 hours of lighting, testing, relighting and retouching I came up with a couple of nice results I think. The fine thing was that I didn’t even realise how depressing the weather was outside ;-))

 

Close-ups call for the use of a tripod to enabling the use of smaller apertures, longer exposures thus increase in depth of field.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

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Turning Pro, A Pipe Dream?

Turning Pro, A Pipe Dream?

04

AUGUST, 2011

I believe that most hobby photographers have at some time or other played with the thought of going pro & I’m no exception. So why haven’t I? Well, generally because contrary to my dream job as commercial artist my hobby leaves me free to decide, decide where when, why & how. I am not dependent on achieving or delivering a result. I can choose what to shoot without having to explain why. I can choose the location, the subject & even whether I go out in the first place.

Many have asked me recently why I don’t turn professional as my photos seem to be finding a certain amount of  interest amongst viewers on the Web these days. The answer is quite simple, as soon as something you enjoy pursuing in your free time (hobby) becomes a thing that you have to do to earn your daily bread (work) then the dream is over. Of course it would be nice to earn enough money from a hobby to finance future trips and equipment but if the price means having to give up the freedom to shoot what I want, where I want, when I want, then I can continue with my first dream job as 2D Artist which I do believe it or not still enjoy.

Landscape & nature photography requires a high degree of tenacity. One has to be out there ever present to get those “Shots.”

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Recently I was in Oban, West Scotland with the intention of visiting Richard Childs at his Gallery in the high street. I was quite shocked to see the gallery had closed, I found out through an article on the Web that Richard had given up the gallery amongst other things due to not having enough time for that what he is good at, taking pictures out on the mountains, moors and coastline of Scotland. Most of us think that being a photographer is a dream job but it isn’t. Photography is a very hard creative career to get into, it doesn’t matter how good you are you have to start right at the bottom usually. The percentage of successful togs set against the amount that are trying to make a serious living to pay the bills is probably 0,001%.

 

“Becoming a “Pro” doesn’t make you a better photographer it just means you have to pay your bills with the imagery you shoot, with a saturated market that can be daunting.”

The difficult part of being a pro isn’t the photography but the rest of the business in the office that keeps you from going to shoot new material.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

To be a successful Landscape tog you have to acquire a number of essential assets. Talent, equipment, transport, travel bug, advertising, (Website, Blog, Gallery etc) contacts, hold workshops, lectures and more, maybe even publish the odd book, calendar or travel reports. The only thing that you don’t have time to do anymore is to take pictures. Admin takes up a fair amount of time being selfemployed, it is definitely not to be under estimated. Tax returns, equipment repairs, planning trips, research, picture processing, printing, framing, website and blog updates, it’s never ending. One thing you can be sure of, it would never be boring, whether it is worth its while depends a lot on luck, patience, persistance and demand. In any case I am pretty sure sacrifice is also going to be a keyword in the process to becoming a success at this business. “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

 

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A Trip To The City

A Trip To The City

01

AUGUST, 2011

Since moving to Munich in 2006 I have commuted very often into town to take advantage of the many interesting sights & architectural icons. Munich has always been known as the “Village”, small, but cozy & chilled. The times are changing though & Munich is expanding constantly making way for more modern forms of architecture, office & apartment complexes.

The weather has been pretty crappy recently with everyone complaining that especially at the weekend the chances of getting out and about in the sun were near to impossible, this weekend being no exception. Yesterday started cloudy in the morning but I had this feeling of wanting to get out no matter what the weather had in store so I decided on a short trip into town with my Camera, hadn’t done this for a while.

Maximilianstrasse is where the Schickeria go shopping, here you will find everything you don’t need.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

As I arrived at Munichs most central point, Marienplatz I was actually welcomed by a touch of blue sky and the sun was doing its best to show its face through the cloud. Although I have probably taken photos of Marienplatz and its surroundings many times over the last six years I always find something new to fill my viewfinder with. After a few detail shots decided to make my way in the direction of Mamimilianstrasse, the exclusive and theatre quarter of  town. I was in luck, a couple of metres from the 5-Star Hotel Four Seasons (Vierjahreszeiten) I spotted this nice looking toy designed for the rich and famous. I’ve seen such sports cars often at car shows but to see one like this in front of a posh restaurant was for me the perfect photo opportunity. I took a number of shots from the opposite side of the street and then opted for risking a few closeups.

“I have been moved on many a time by security personel in airports, railway stations, shopping passages and office complexes.”

The Theatinekirche was built in Italian high-Baroque style, inspired by Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome, designed by the Italian architect Agostino Barelli.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

I say risk because these days you have to be very careful in such areas because of invasion of privacy and security risks. Photos of the owner or numberplates are a no no especially if you want to publish in Internet. I have been moved on many a time by security personel in airports, railway stations, shopping passages and office complexes. The main reason being that they fear negative advertising but generally it’s due to worries of the photographer earning money from their pictures whereas the owners of such objects want to be in on the act. You need a Photographers permit and that costs money.

Not exactly the Arc de Triomphe in Paris but the Munich Siegestor is still worth a look on the Leopold/Ludwigstrasse.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

My next objective was to retake some shots of the interior of the Theatine church. The Theatine is a beautiful example of Italian Barock architecture, a church richly decorated in stucco as you can see from this QTVR found in Wikipedia: http://homepage.mac.com/wkaemena/FS/Muenchen/Theatinerkirche/index_swf.html

After 4 hours walking, stalking, aiming the lens at all possible picture opportunities I decided to call it a day with over 300 pictures on the chip, enough to keep me busy for the next couple of days.

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Back To The Roots

Back To The Roots

13

JULY, 2011

I came to Germany straight after my studies in the southwest of England to Frankfurt with a mountainbike & 2 suitcases with 200 DM cash. It was a hard deal at the start but I had a lot of help from new found friends & colleagues who taught me a lot of German to get me integrated quickly. I would recommend this jump into the deep end to anybody at this age as it broadens the mind & offers so many new challenges & opportunities in work & pleasure.

 

I left my home town of Camborne in the year of 1986 after finishing my studies at the local Technical College to start my first job as an Illustrator in Frankfurt. The main reason for leaving England was because of the lack of job opportunities. Other than tourism there are few possibilities for a technical illustrator in Cornwall. After almost twenty-five years in Germany eighteen of which spent in the Frankfurt area I am now after six years in Munich wondering where it goes from here. Thoughts of returning home crop up now and again, sometimes through frustration, sometimes through cultural differences and sometimes because I think that I have been away long enough. It just doesn’t matter how long you live as an ex-pat you are what you are. I speak German and have a German wife, work in a German company and pay German taxes, I have lost a lot of contact with England over the years simply because you have to decide at some stage whether you are going to stay here or go back after a short stay. I intended on staying for just a year, earn enough cash to set up as a freelancer and hop it back to blighty. After the year passed I realised that I had enjoyed my stay too much and hadn’t saved a great deal and decided as the job was interesting to stay longer, the rest is history as they say :-)).

Images of Spitfires flying over the cliffs at Beachyhead while cricket is being played in the school fields made me feel nostalgic & a little patriotic at the time.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Looking back over the last twenty-five years of my life here I can honestly say that I’ve had it quite good, I integrated well after the first year what the language is concerned, have never been unemployed and have enjoyed considerable success career wise too. I have been around a bit and have discovered more of  Britain probably than I would have if I lived there. My wife is a great England fan too. I have travelled europe quite a bit too over the years.

Now I wouldn’t say that I’m ready for the knackers yard just yet but as with all of us I’m not getting younger and the thought of selling up and moving back keeps popping into my head, but why? Well, it is quite simple, it’s where I originate, the language , the small talk about the weather, the cursing of public transport, the crappy football on Saturday etc, etc. I miss small things like fish & chips, visits to National Trust and RSPB properties, shopping until 10pm, English pubs, lasagne & chips, ploughmans lunch, rugged coastline, steam trains and traction engines, reed covered cottages, airshows, car boot sales, red telephone boxes, cornish pasties, English crisps………

 

“I have been around quite a bit & have probably seen more of the UK from here than I would have if I had lived there.”

A dramatic sky just before sunset in a field of wheat seen in the Midlands of England.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

An absolute must see in the Bavarian Alps, south Germany, is king Ludwigs magnificant Neuschwanstein Castle.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Of course when I do get the chance to go over then I indulge in as many of these things as possible but of course not everything you would indulge in as when you would live there. Of course living in Bavaria is a great experience too, German beer, pretzels, Oktoberfest, barock architecture, Neuschwanstein, Garmisch, skiing, mountains, cars……but it is German and not English.

 

 

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It Always Rains in England, I mean Germany ;-))

It Always Rains in England, I mean Germany ;-))

13

MAY, 2013

Being English & living in Germany I often, well almost every day get my leg pulled about how bad our weather is. It’s no wonder, Baker Street in the old Sherlock films was always foggy. Every Englishman has more than one Umbrella at home to choose from & the bad weather that Germany receives comes directly from us. Well have I got news for you guys, German summer weather can be even crappier! Take this year for example, we are into July & haven’t had more than a couple of sunny days since May. I can remember having summers here where the sun shone for weeks at a time with temperatures generally around the 28-30°C mark.

These days we can call ourselves lucky here if the sun comes out two days in a row, then we get a hefty storm front and then back to grey skies and temperature drops from 30°C down to 14°C overnight. When it rains it pours as they say and I can tell you that here you can almost guarantee that either around six in the evening (as I leave the office) it starts getting dark and windy and that as I step out of the train in Unterhaching the first drops of rain start falling with the sound of thunder and a flash of lightning here and there. Of course this happens almost exclusively when you have no umbrella or jacket with you. What no umbrella? But you are English, you was born with an umbrella in the hand, how can this happen? Probably because I have lived so long in Germany. But what use is an umbrella with the gale force wind?

This is the typical early evening “End of Work” storm in Munich. Afterwards, the sun comes out & the air becomes extremely humid.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

What pisses me off more than anything this year is the fact that when the weekend nears the weather deteriorates dramatically. Of course on the Monday when we all have to work again the quicksilver rises again and the working conditions deteriorate rapidly taking all remaining motivation with it. This weekend is going to be different apparently, sunny spells with temperatures up to  28°C but then next week the temperatures fall to 16°C, and so it goes on, this yo-yo effect. It seems that in Bavaria this seems to be normal with its closer vicinity to the Alps.

What I basically want to say is that English weather is obviously not comparable to the Dominican Republic although palm trees do actually grow in the south-west where I come from because of the ever present Gulf-Stream from Mexico but on the whole, English weather is predictably mild, summer temperatures between 18-26°C and winter temperatures between 6-15°C, of course the further north you go the colder and more unpredictable is the weather. The summers do seem to be getting warmer and longer periods without rain meaning hosepipe bans in the months between May and August. This means no washing of cars, watering of private gardens and replacement of water of swimming pools. The water reservoirs dry up extremely quickly in the summer months.

“On Monday when we all have to work the quicksilver rises again & the working conditions deteriorate rapidly taking all remaining motivation with it.”

Germany on the other hand is quite extreme, in winter -10°C to +12°C and in summer between 15°C to 35°C but at least up to 5 years ago you could depend on a long warm summer but not any more due to global climatic changes. Nowadays summer consists of a continual question what shall I wear today, shorts and t-shirt or mac and wellies?

Oh, and by the way, we English do drink cold beer these days believe it or not ;-))

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Looking For Something New

Looking For Something New

13

MAY, 2013

When you start getting really involved in this hobby you start orientating & comparing your skills with other photographers throughout internet & social media. This is all very well but when you see what is possible you may start to question whether it is worth continuing, the answer is a definite, yes. Everybody sees things differently & add the time of day, year, hour & weather influences to the equation then all things are possible to get even better material.

Not a great deal going on lately due to me fracturing a toe after falling from a rather slippery Elgol boulder on the Isle of Skye in Scotland last month. To be honest, it’s driving me mad not being as mobile as I’m used to. I’m missing the trips at the weekend down to the Bavarian Alps or even the less adventurous daytrips into Munich. My only consolation is that the weather has generally been miserable at the weekends too. Since returning from Scotland I have had more than enough time to concentrate on the processing side of things which of course is all part of the fun, but at some point it just gets to be too much and the motivation sinks into the cellar. Normally when this happens I trade in my keyboard for the camera & disappear for a day snapping at everything of interest that crosses my path. The funny thing is that when I return home, the excitement of having new material mounts & I start combing through the latest series & start getting involved in sorting for post-processing. It usually gets so involved that I forget entirely the images that I took as I was on holiday. Maybe this could be described as the post holiday blues. It could be the case that you see just too much in the time you were on holiday & need a break by looking at something else, to sort of refresh the senses. The good thing is that at some point the interest returns for the holiday images because you get fed up with the new stuff from your home area. What I mean basically is that the grass is always greener on the other side. Thank God that this is so, I wouldn’t want to know how it would be if I didn’t have this curiosity. There are just so many places on this planet that interest me that I don’t have enough time or funds to realize them all unfortunately.

Where the Koningstraat crosses with the Spiegelrei I spotted this oldtimer on the bridge with a nice backdrop of the Jan van Eyck Square.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

 

Trips at the top of my list include:

Norway: http://www.visitnorway.com/de/
Svalbard Islands (Arctic Circle Norway)
Lofoten islands (Norway)
Antarctic (An expensive dream)
Patagonia: http://www.patagonia-argentina.com/i/
Greenland: http://www.greenland.com/en/
Americas National Parks: http://www.nationalparks.org/
Canada: http://de.canada.travel/
New Zealand: http://www.newzealand.com/int/
Iceland: http://www.visiticeland.com/ (A second visit to capture that what I missed last time, or maybe more towards Winter)
Nepal: http://www.nepal.com/

 

Last but not least, I would like to return to my home area of Cornwall in the south-west of England where some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery can be experienced, a place I spent almost 15 of my life & since living in Germany 21 years now have only returned to visit twice, the last time being almost 10 years ago now:

http://www.visitcornwall.com/

 

There are many other individual settings I would like to capture within certain countries that are just too numerous to mention.Who knows where I will end up next?  It will most certainly be too difficult to realize them all unfortunately.

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The Eagle Has Landed

The Eagle Has Landed

13

MAY, 2013

At long last I have a quiet moment to gather my thoughts about my trip to Scotland. It was an intensive course in getting to grips with being completely alone again for two weeks just doing my own thing & although being just what I wanted I felt nonetheless a little apprehensive whether I was being too egoistic again leaving my wife at home to her own devices as I tramped around the country, living in my car trying to grab special moments on data chips & for what? After all it is just a hobby, but that is the point, I do this because I like it.

As we were transfered from the terminal to the awaiting plane with an airport bus the weather was sunny and around 23-24 degrees, my first thought was ” I bet it’s raining in Edinburgh”, but to my amazement our pilot insured us that Edinburgh was sunny, clear, with a light breeze and around 19 degrees which meant basically 14 degrees when you take the breeze into consideration ;-). The flight was the typical cheap airline thing, quick snack and drink distribution and then with the plastic sack down the aisle to collect the refuge.

” It was mid evening as I caught my first glimpse of Loch Lomond near Alexandria, now I was starting to feel more relaxed & realized at last that I was now on holiday.”

The new Franz Josef Strauss airport in Munich with sail roof spanned between the terminals.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

We landed punctually at 17:40 local time and as I made my way to the rental car desk on the other side of the car-park I felt acknowledged what the temperature was concerned, it was sunny, cloudless sky, but cool. Never mind, could have been a lot worse. I picked my almost new Renault Scenic up although I was promised a Megane (never do I get the car that I have ordered) and made my way on the M9 in direction of Stirling and then further on to Loch Lomond on the A811. I was surprised how quickly I had got used to driving on the left hand side of the road again having no practice for the last two years. It’s all that driving in the fast lane on the German Autobahn probably ;-))

It was mid evening as I caught my first glimpse of Loch Lomond near Alexandria, now I was starting to feel at home and realised at last that I am now on holiday. I had to get shopping in and found coincidentally an Aldi, a German supermarket chain that has found its way into Britain too. I was quite chuffed to find similar products as in the German store, was also surprised to find the general layout of the store to be better, the prices were similar to Germany too. I wasn’t sure whether to speak German or English as I paid at the cashier desk but then as the cashier spoke in a broad Scottish accent from whisch I understood nowt I thought it better not to say anything other than thankyou and departed with my goodies to my car

My first pictures were taken on Loch Lomond in a small village called Aldochlay.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

We landed punctually at 17:40 local time and as I made my way to the rental car desk on the other side of the car-park I felt acknowledged what the temperature was concerned, it was sunny, cloudless sky, but cool. Never mind, could have been a lot worse. I picked my almost new Renault Scenic up although I was promised a Megane (never do I get the car that I have ordered) and made my way on the M9 in direction of Stirling and then further on to Loch Lomond on the A811. I was surprised how quickly I had got used to driving on the left hand side of the road again having no practice for the last two years. It’s all that driving in the fast lane on the German Autobahn probably ;-))

It was mid evening as I caught my first glimpse of Loch Lomond near Alexandria, now I was starting to feel at home and realised at last that I am now on holiday. I had to get shopping in and found coincidentally an Aldi, a German supermarket chain that has found its way into Britain too. I was quite chuffed to find similar products as in the German store, was also surprised to find the general layout of the store to be better, the prices were similar to Germany too. I wasn’t sure whether to speak German or English as I paid at the cashier desk but then as the cashier spoke in a broad Scottish accent from whisch I understood nowt I thought it better not to say anything other than thankyou and departed with my goodies to my car.

I did my first stop over at a small village on Loch lomond called Aldochlay just South of Luss, Luss is very picturesque and well worth a visit but of course a landscape tog is always looking for something new, I found it, a mellow looking bay with a small tree covered islet just a couple of hundred meters offshore with a couple of boats and coloured buoys dotted here and there. The light was minimal as it was around nine as I arrived meaning that the warm tones of a sunset were very subdued to a cool blue purple tone. After a number of bracketed long exposures I moved on to Luss to enjoy a clear view over the lake with its hilly and partly mountainous backdrop disappearing into darkness at around 22:00. It was time to find somewhere fitting to spend the night. Being a budget holiday I was set upon spending a considerable part of it roughing it sleeping in the car. I have done this before and although not so comfortable as a B&B it has two large benefits, it saves a considerable amount of money on board and lodging, plus you are always up at the crack of dawn to catch that elusive sunrise. I found a nice quiet spot and got into my sleeping bag on the back seat and dozed with thoughts to how tomorrow could be.

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Hey Ho, Here We Go!

Hey Ho, Here We Go!

13

MAY, 2013

If there is one invention I would pay gladly for it would be a beamer, no, not a film projector, I mean a beamer like Captain Kirk & Mr. Spock had to transport me from home to shooting destinations in real-time. I hate packing & I hate lugging gear to & from airports or onto buses & through trains. I can’t stand being controlled at airports or worrying where my passport is or studying timetables in foreign countries. I just want to be there where I want to be quickly & with as little fuss as possible.

In 24 hours from now I’ll be on my way to Franz-Josef-Strauss airport to the north east of Munich to catch my flight to Edinburgh, estimated time of arrival around 16:40 local time. From there its off to the highlands with a rented car for a 2 week visual adventure, just me, the car and my camera.

The last couple of days have been hectic, for some unknown reason I had lost the enthusiasm for the research, my thoughts and time were spent more with tying up things at work and the weather at the weekend was beautiful so that I could take a number of nice pictures that of course needed to be processed and sent online to the website. Add to this tidying the garden, shopping and a bit of housework then the distractions cost me quite a bit of time that I now need to make up for.

For this trip I am taking my iPad with me, a new addition to my equipment. On my last trip 2 years ago there were times where I had to spend hours in the car due to spells of rain, to pass the time I started to keep a sort of diary but unfortunately as the weather improved this got put aside. The iPad is worth its weight in gold for passing time with internet, games, films, music, emails, Skype, GPS positioning, map reading and weather forecasts.

There is nothing better than standing next to a waterfall, in a forest on a warm day being cooled by the water rushing by .

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

An aspect that often annoyed me after returning from a trip was not being able to locate where some shots were taken, this time I am taking a Nikon GP1. This little GPS receiver allows me to keep track of where I am exactly and allows geotagging on a digital map like Google maps. As I returned from Iceland a few years back I encountered the locating problem quite often. Iceland has a thin infrastructure outside of Reykjavik. The road signs are few and far between and further more almost impossible to read and remember, plus of course in the heat of the moment you never think of writing these things down.

One thing I have noticed this time around is the amount of battery rechargers and cable salad I need to take with me, a real pain in the proverbial. A Nikon recharger for the camera batteries with car adapter, a recharger for the Ipad, another for the mobile phone and one for the laptop, add to this a German/English electrical adapter, 2 external Hard drives a card reader and a number of USB 2.0, 3.0 and Firewire cables then you get some sort of idea what I mean.

Camera equipment wise, it’s the same story I’m afraid, since I was last in Scotland two years ago I have replaced a number of lenses for the more professional Nikon lineup. These include the replacement of the Tokina 12-24mm f4 for the Nikon 14-24mm f2,8, the Nikon 24-120 f4,5-5,6 for the lovely Nikon 24-70mm f2,8 and the Nikon 70-300mm f4,5-5,6 for the much better 70-200mm f2,8, add to this a Nikkor 105mm f2,8 macro, a 2X Teleconverter a D700 FX Body and a D300 as spare then you know why my Photo rucksack is 11 Kilos these days instead of only 8. That’s the price you pay for quality it seems. Now I have no reason for blurred edges with chromatic aberrations in my images anymore. In fact, the only thing that I can’t rule out is the weather.

“For this trip I am taking my iPad with me, a new addition to my equipment. On my last trip 2 years ago there were times where I had to spend hours in the car due to spells of rain, to pass the time I started to keep a sort of diary but unfortunately as the weather improved this got put aside.”

Sparsely inhabited, a lot of Scotland is a peaceful, meditative experience with just the odd cafe & pub along the way.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

The Isle of Skye is something special, I think it is the light & where better to enjoy this then at Sligachan?

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Indeed, the weather, an ever present topic when in Scotland. If you have luck then you may have 2 weeks of beautiful sunshine, if you are unlucky only 2 days. The weather conditions change rapidly, on one occasion on the Isle of Skye I set off from the car-park to walk through a forest and then up a steep hill to the Old Man of Storr, a Rock stack formation on the north eastern side of the island, on this approximately 5 km hike I encountered sun, rain, hailstones and snow, all within 2 hours. The wind was quite hefty too. The use of a tripod, out of the question. The fascinating thing though is that everyone imagines Scotland as being such a damp, cloudy, windy country so no one expects to see images with blue skies and sunsets. The unpredictable weather makes for some unbelievable light experiences. Just before or after a storm for instance, the clouds are at their most dramatic. Add to this the rugged coastline, a romantic loch with a mountain as backdrop and you can hardly take a bad picture.

The start & end point of all my trips since 2006, the Franz Josef Strauss Airport in Munich. As I said above, a beamer would be better.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Patience is the greatest virtue for a landscape photographer and in Scotland you need patience at times of extreme weather conditions. It can rain non-stop for 3-4 days which of course doesn’t tend to motivate a great deal but at some stage the weather clears to reveal the real Scotland, a Scotland full of rugged countryside, beautiful lakes, dramatic skies a wild coastline and a great variety of wild birds and animals from Ospreys to Whales, from Otters to Puffins.

I’m really looking forward to this trip, I wish I was already there. See you guys in 2 weeks, hopefully with a couple of decent shots and a couple of stories to tell ;-))

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Pre Holiday Blues

Pre Holiday Blues

15

APRIL, 2011

When I have a plan where I want to go on holiday I start scouring the WWW to find flights, rent a car & scout the sights that I want to shoot but at some stage once everything is booked I lose enthusiasm. Normally this continues until shortly before I leave home, like two days before & then I realize just how badly organized I am. Panic sets in & then I do my best to save the day spending the very last minute scouting. It has almost always worked out other than forgetting to pack the odd piece of kit. I can live with that though as long as it isn’t the camera that I forget.

I should think myself lucky & I do, it’s a luxury for me to get away from it all at least once a year even if it isn’t always an exotic location where I’m off to. But who cares? Nobody needs to fly half way around the globe to find a nice, quiet, picturesque spot to take a couple of decent pictures. Some of my best photos have been taken within a few miles of my own doorstep. Now & again though it does the body & soul good to do and see something completely different.

A magical moment on ta jetty at Luss on Loch Lomond. This boat with the snowy background was just perfect for me.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

On 4th May I’m off to the Scottish Highlands, my only problem is, how do I get through the next three weeks up to my departure? The job is a bit of a bore at the moment with very little of interest happening, this doesn’t help much when you know that at home there is a mountain of research to be done for the upcoming trip. This will be my second trip to Scotland, the first being in April 2009. I don’t know how it is with you guys but I must be honest & say that the shots I took back then were partly disappointing, either due to of bad weather or bad equipment. If there is one tip I would give anybody serious about their photography, buy the best glass you can afford. During the last couple of days I have been rummaging through the 2009 Photo Archive & was appalled at some of the poor results using the old Tokina 12-24mm. Chromatic Aberrations in every shot plus a pretty nasty blur towards the corners and edges. Add to this a scratched 82mm Polfilter that I was too tight to replace & crappy weather conditions with raindrops on the lens in some shots then you know that it would be a good idea to go back with better equipment (I splashed out on that 14-24mm F2,8 Nikkor & a D700 since then), more experience & hopefully better weather conditions. We shall see.

So, what do I do for the next three weeks? Ah, yes, research. Location scouting in Internet is good fun & you tend to come across a massive amount of talented photographers, both amateur & professional that were there before you. So why do we bother? The challenge of doing a shot better, differing weather conditions, looking for that special something in the composition, a particularl mood & colour plus presenting ones own piece of individual creativity to the world. Reasons enough to get up at five in the morning to drive somewhere to capture that magical light.

“So why do we bother? The challenge of doing a shot better, differing weather conditions, looking for that special something in the composition, a particular mood & colour plus presenting ones own piece of visual creativity to the world.”

The slanting slate coastline on the island of Easdale, on the Firth of Lorn in the West Highlands used to be the center of the Scottish/English Slate Industry.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

Location scouting can save a lot of time, petrol & shoe leather. By the time I leave for Scotland I will know exactly what I’ll be visiting, an approximate mileage I will have to cover & a priority list of things to see given the right weather conditions. I can even study where & when the sun goes up & where it sets, how many hours of sunshine there will be (if the sun shines), wind directions etc, etc. Of course weather conditions never turn out as you expect them too ;-)). GPS is also a very useful tool if you are really in the middle of nowhere so long the batteries are fully charged. Another useful tool is a GPS Module for the camera for Geo-tagging. Through bitter experience in the past I have had to try and reconstruct my route & search through miles of digital countryside & roads to find the spot where I had taken a specific shot, now it is all recorded in the image data.

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Why Do You Bother?

Why Do You Bother?

17

FEBRUARY, 2011

A good question for many probably. What motivates a person to get up very early in the morning to get out somewhere & take pictures of a sunrise that might not even occur or similar? It’s the challenge & the possibility to see something that others won’t. I’m looking for special moments, to document them visually & to prove that they really exist.

Photography is the perfect hobby in my eyes. Everybody can take a picture of course but for me it’s about getting involved with the subject to a deeper level. Not only do I take the pictures, I also enjoy finalizing an image with a certain amount of retouching too. Unfortunately this combination involved in reaching new destinations, purchasing expensive equipment & the sheer addiction of this hobby doesn’t earn me a lot of plus points at home from a wife who has absolutely no interest in my activities. she enjoys seeing the results of my hard labour of course but also sees how expensive this pastime is. I’m sure that she would kill me if she knew how much the 70-200mm F/2,8 from Nikon cost me that I recently acquired :-)). I need a car, would like to travel more often to exotic destinations but can’t afford it & why? I am trying to scratch my dream team of camera equipment together that when I eventually get abroad at least from the technical side of things every conceivable situation that I encounter is possible to master. It’s also about achieving the best possible quality images to an extent that somebody could buy prints from me.

Good lenses means spending less time in front of the computer correcting vignettes & chromatic aberrations which means more time out in the fields or mountains concentrating on taking pictures. So basically either you need rich parents, an inheritance, a win on the state lottery or a full time job to pay the bills & even better your next piece of equipment or trip. A good question that I often hear from others that don’t share the same fascination for my hobby as I do. My usual answer is that I enjoy getting out and about. Photography is a great excuse to get your proverbial off of the sofa & out into the real world. Most of us sit 5 days a week in stuffy offices staring at flat screen computer monitors for at least eight hours a day & some like myself often longer. Another reason is that I have always been fascinated by pictures, so much so that after leaving school I visited the local art college four years long learning the art of Illustration.

Portfolio Index

Complete overview to all categories of my portfolio.

Journal

A chronicle of places I have visited & documented with word & picture in recent years.

About

Me, my gear, inspiration & answers to frequent questions.

Blog

Putting pictures into words.