Friday, 2 December 2011

TUC Strikes

The Trades Union Congress organised a strike march through Lancaster and, seizing the opportunity to grab some crowd shots, I grabbed my camera and went out to photograph the mood of the day.

I took these photographs using the Program Auto (P) mode on my DSLR in order to help my equipment respond to variable light and photography situations. Program Auto mode allows the photographer to make small and fast adjustments to the camera-set aperture and shutter speed using the dial on the camera. This gives an opportunity to adjust oneself to the situation, setting-up position and composure for the best shot without having to worry too much about the workings of the camera.

The march sets-off from Dalton Square. The NUT led the way with their oversized banner.

Some strikers used rather amusing images to lift the mood.

This striking image captures an older RMT union member taking action.

This band led the march through Lancaster, attracting crowds and gathering support.

I used a shallow depth of field to capture the message on this NUT balloon with the crowd scene thrown out of focus in the background.

The march arrives at Lancaster Town Hall

It was a family event with a good atmosphere. This image, taken through the balustrades in Dalton Square, captures a striker alongside a man walking his dog.

Children, off school for the day as many were closed, were given an opportunity to take part.

The rally at Dalton Square, with the statue of Queen Victoria looking over the scene.

For more of my photographs from the TUC march through Lancaster, see this Picasa album.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lancaster Guardian Competition

I'd like to enter a competition in the local paper, with the theme of 'your favourite place or scene in Lancaster' certainly being a far-reaching one. I've assembled ten photos - both taken previously and especially with this competition in mind - and I would like your thoughts on them. Please comment, as usual, but also vote for your favourite using the panel to the right. Thank you for your help!

Lancaster Cathedral and Ashton Memorial, from the Town Hall

Lancaster Cathedral

Millennium Bridge and River Lune

Bird sculptures on Morecambe prominade

Ashton Memorial from the University of Cumbria

Lancaster Castle in Autumn

Kite flying on Morecambe prominade

Wintry Lancaster, from the University of Cumbria

Conservatory detail, Williamson Park

Lancaster Town Hall, Dalton Square
Please vote for your favourite using the panel on the right. Thank you.

Edited 04/10/11: The poll associated with this entry has now ended.

Monday, 26 September 2011

An Interesting Perspective

I recently had the chance to visit Lancaster Town Hall and a rare opportunity to climb it's clock tower for an interesting and unusual view over the Roman city. Here are a selection of the shots I gathered and, despite it being a pretty drab day, I'm pleased with the results. Better light would have made for more dramatic and artistic shots, but one can never be too fussy when presented with a rare opportunity like this.

I bounced light off the ceiling using my flash to avoid glare from the shiny brass and marble of the Grand Staircase

Looking dead-ahead from the clock tower over Dalton Square. Unfortunately the weather miserable and light poor

A view of Lancaster Castle - until this year in use by Her Majesty as a prison - not usually seen

Another rare glimpse: This time at the reverse side of one of four clock faces atop the town hall

I enjoyed the opportunity to photograph the small Cathedral and grand Ashton Memorial in the same frame

A more artistic shot of the city's flag, using the balustrade as an interesting silhouetted frame

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Photoshop Hint: Untangling Hair

There have been many a Photoshop disaster where hair has been poorly edited, making images that are supposed to evoke glamour and desire somewhat laughable.

Thankfully, Ice Flow Studios have come up with this very handy video to show all how one of these most awkward of image editing problems can be tackled with ease.

Saturday, 3 September 2011


I was very excited about the prospect of visiting this remote Scottish island. But Islay is much more than a remote Scottish island. It has plenty to offer if you are interested in the great outdoors, whisky - or photography.

For the first of those three draws, the scenery is stunning - the views across the Sound of Islay to the Paps of Jura are breathtaking and the illusions of a disappearing horizon over Loch Indaal are something to behold. The light on the island's west coast provides a stunning setting in which to take photographs, too. Meanwhile, the golden eagles soaring overhead provide a glorious photo opportunity (should you be equipped with an appropriately long lens, that is). One should be careful they're not snapping in a frenzy at buzzards, which are much more common than their much larger cousins. Of course, they too provide an intriguing photographic subject.

Lesson learned: Always have the right lens attached, or you'll miss shots like this golden eagle overhead.
Don't forsake buzzards; they too make an imposing subject. This was a drive-by shot on the Portnahaven road.
Secondly, to the whisky. Islay is home to seven distilleries, of which six are open to the public (Caol Ila was undergoing some refurbishment and was, alas, closed to visitors on my trip). Their architecture - whitewashed walls, slate roofs, towering chimneys - makes for an often interesting subject, as I discovered at Ardbeg.

The Old Kiln at Ardbeg distillery on a beautiful Islay afternoon. Note the whitewashed walls and slate roof.
Tthe more technical side of distilleries offers interesting photo opportunities, as the spirit cupboard attests.
As for that pure, hobbyist's photography, there was ample opportunity to explore some of Islay's wonderful landscapes during my stay on the island, whilst a boat trip to Corryvrekan allowed some time to take-in Jura and the wonderful uninhabited Eilean Mor.

Herring gulls take off from the water alongside a shag, having been disturbed by our passing boat.
The Paps of Jura provide a stunning backdrop for one of the more popular walks on the island.
Finally, a walk to the American Monument on the Oa (pronounced as 'Owe', I discovered to my embarrassment) provided a glimpse of that other Islay rare bird, the Chough, and an interesting use of the light to silhouette a solitary Highland cow.

This solo Highland cow cuts a very recognisable silhouette on an Ileach hillside.
The rare chough in flight, this one found near to Britain's only wave power station near Portnahaven.
All of my photographs from my Islay break are on my Picasa account.