North Wales - photographic nadia, gratuitous photo display

Started Mar 22, 2011 | Discussions thread
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jkjond
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North Wales - photographic nadia, gratuitous photo display
Mar 22, 2011

Its been a long time since I went to North Wales, in fact, about 30 years since I went with any regularity. On Friday night I met up with two good buddies from the UK, Ian Bramham (who I'm sure a lot of you will know) and Mike Spriggs, an equally worthy photographer but as a Canon shooter most of you won't have heard of him.

I'll write this as a bit of an essay, but it will be packed with useful hints.

By the time I arrived at the Broadway Hotel (recommeded, close to the sea front, everything you need for a 5 hour sleep and a good breakfast) they'd already enjoyed a good sunset and excellent moonrise, so I consoled myself with a pint while we compared latest acquisitions on the tripod front.

Ian has just bought a new Acratech GV2. Now if looks was all that mattered I doubt any other tripod would sell at all. It looks like it came directly from a sci-fi movie with HR Giger influence and a bit of inspiration from a sundial. I had just received my ebay purchases, a 2nd hand Kirk BH3 plus a new L-bracket and lens plate. Summary:

Desire: Acratech
Weight: Acratech
Knobs: Acratech

Feel: Split decision, the other man's grass being greener. Ian thought mine was smoother and preferred the extra rotations needed to remove the plate, I'd prefer to remove the plate in one easy action, especially when using the L-bracket.

Use: Hard to split them, both rock solid for the weights used (max being D300 with 70-200)
Price: 2nd hand BH3 with L-bracket

Ian hasn't got an L-bracket, or at least he didn't have last time I heard from him. I expect he'll have one by the next time we meet. Its a joy to use, maybe a bit slower than tilting the camera off the tripod axis, but non of the compromises in height or centre of gravity.

5:30am on the beach ready for a sunrise. This is about our 5th meet, and the first time we've actually seen the sun first thing! Excellent light on Llandudno beach, great opportunity for some long ND exposures.

This one is f8, 10 stop ND, 2 stop grad ND, 90secs - and was a good bit overexposed. It turned out to be a devil to process. As it was still about 6am I was far from awake and forgot to mount my cokin holder correctly on the 10-20mm sigma, so the shot vignetted badly - the secret here is to use the filter slot to hold the adapter ring, then a grad in the end slot means there's very little projection beyond the lens. In this case it didn't really matter as it suited a square crop. Exposures were proving difficult to guess and impossible to measure with ever changing dawn light. Later exposures ended up being stopped down slightly but 1 min exposures weren't really long enough for the cloud movement.

We broke at about 9am to head back to the hotel for breakfast. Quite civilised. Then onto Conwy and the medieval castle.

f5.6, 421 secs using both 10 and 6 stop NDs, I may have had a grad on here too, can't remember. My cokin grads add quite a cast when combined with NDs, so I think not on this shot. 7 minutes worth.

A useful bit of kit here is a remote with a timer. Why nikon have this crazy 30 second limit before switching to BULB is beyond me, the camera knows exactly how long the shutter is open, and with the digital interface it would be dead easy to increase the limit to 999seconds or beyond. I stood chatting to Mike and he pointed out that at least canon have the decency to show the time on the top LCD even though it won't allow an exact setting. Again, my cheap ebay remote with timer allows me to preset times. if done manually I'd typically get side tracked then return to the camera 20 minutes later to find it totally blown.

On to Llandullas. This is a location to redefine surreal. Unfortunately I was too much in awe, too tired, and about 2 meals and 2 litres short of nutrition. I've not been anywhere quite like this, two massive wooden piers stretch onto the beach so that conveyor belts could load ships with limestone from a nearby quarry. Now it is pure industrial decay of the photogenic variety. This shot doesn't come close to expressing what is there - I must return. Exif largely irrelevant. It will be f8 by default, then I'll have bracketed about three exposures with reference to the LCD and histogram, no real attention paid to either the shutter speed selected or what the meter thinks.

The day getting old, one final location, Point of Ayr, where we hoped for a sunset which didn't really happen. Dying light, half a second at f8.

So although we didn't get a sunset, we did get a most extraordinary moonrise. We could easily have missed it, which would have been ironic as the large moon had been the talk of the weekend. A pure red orb rose as Ian and I were chatting and ready to head for home. It sent us both dashing to try and juxtapose it against the lighthouse. My battery ran out, so a fumbling change in near darkness, and then my card filled - a delicate change as dropping my card with the whole day's shoot would have ended in tears. I'm disappointed with all my moon shots, but the joy of being there and seeing it was enough. Lots of locations to return to, endless scope. Over 14 hours intensive photography, but what a day.

Ian and Mike have both posted some shots on flickr, but will maybe add a few on here too.

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