Tate Britain

After living in London for around seven and a half years now, I still have a massive list of places to visit and photograph. Tate Britain is well up there, so today I decided to pay a visit. We actually had a warm day in London, which led to the museum not being too busy, making my job a little easier. I went in with a few ideas for compositions, mainly around the main hall and the dome. I had a good wander around but I did miss a few exhibitions, so will definitely be back. I was in a bit of a rush to get back for the Grand National!

I took along the 85mm f1.4 and my 12-24 f4, both fantastic lenses. Here is what I came away with.

 Golden ration composition going on here, quite happy with this one. I did have to remove someones hand though.  This is a 3 shot HDR, with 2 shots 3 stops either side of the below settings.  12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/125 Second

Golden ration composition going on here, quite happy with this one. I did have to remove someones hand though.

This is a 3 shot HDR, with 2 shots 3 stops either side of the below settings.

12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/125 Second

 The dome from below.  This is a 3 shot HDR, with 2 shots 3 stops either side of the below settings.  12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/125 Second

The dome from below.

This is a 3 shot HDR, with 2 shots 3 stops either side of the below settings.

12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/125 Second

 Again I didn't read the note on this but I know I love it!  85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/15 Seconds (how is this sharp!!)

Again I didn't read the note on this but I know I love it!

85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/15 Seconds (how is this sharp!!)

 An abstract shot with the 85mm  85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

An abstract shot with the 85mm

85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

 The room where I found this was full of interesting models and sculptures.  85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

The room where I found this was full of interesting models and sculptures.

85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

 Bokeh!  85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

Bokeh!

85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

 This lens is pretty awesome and should get some good use next weekend!  85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

This lens is pretty awesome and should get some good use next weekend!

85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/320 Seconds

 Very colourful, maybe theres a composition hidden here somewhere.  12-24 f4 at 23mm, f4, iso 100, 1/15 Second

Very colourful, maybe theres a composition hidden here somewhere.

12-24 f4 at 23mm, f4, iso 100, 1/15 Second

 This was like a swimming pool with a ladder, didn't read the text on this but I quite like it.  12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/15 Second

This was like a swimming pool with a ladder, didn't read the text on this but I quite like it.

12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/15 Second

 Not sure whats going on here but Im annoyed I didn't get a shot with the 85mm of the manakin.  12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/30 Second

Not sure whats going on here but Im annoyed I didn't get a shot with the 85mm of the manakin.

12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/30 Second

 No clue whats going on here, there were strange noises going on too.  12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/30 Second

No clue whats going on here, there were strange noises going on too.

12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 100, 1/30 Second

 A sculpture on the way to the Gallery.  85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/2500 Seconds

A sculpture on the way to the Gallery.

85mm f1.4, at f1.4 iso 100, 1/2500 Seconds

 Scouting for future shoots nearby.  85mm f1.4, at f2.8 iso 100, 1/2500 Seconds

Scouting for future shoots nearby.

85mm f1.4, at f2.8 iso 100, 1/2500 Seconds

Westminster

I haven't visited Westminster for a while, I had decided that I didn't want to photograph it while the repair work was being done on the Elizabeth tower (most people call it Big Ben, but that's actually the bell). I have since come to my senses, the work will apparently be going on until 2021 and the bell wont chime until then, so I would be waiting a while to photograph it.

So armed with my 24-70, a selection of ND filters, my tripod and a polarising filter, away I went.

 Managed to catch what brief sunset we had from the hospital garden.   This is a 3 shot hdr with 3 stops either side of:  24-70 at 46mm, f20, iso 50, 1.6 seconds, I think I used a 4 stop nd here.

Managed to catch what brief sunset we had from the hospital garden. 

This is a 3 shot hdr with 3 stops either side of:

24-70 at 46mm, f20, iso 50, 1.6 seconds, I think I used a 4 stop nd here.

 Sunset from the hospital garden.  This is a 3 shot hdr with 3 stops either side of   24-70 at 40mm, f22, iso 50, 20 seconds,  6 stop nd and a polariser

Sunset from the hospital garden.

This is a 3 shot hdr with 3 stops either side of 

24-70 at 40mm, f22, iso 50, 20 seconds,  6 stop nd and a polariser

 Another shot from the hospital garden, I had to time it just right to avoid peoples heads getting in the shot while taking selfies.  This is a 3 shot hdr with 3 stops either side of   24-70 at 34mm, f11, iso 50, 2 seconds,  6 stop nd and a polariser

Another shot from the hospital garden, I had to time it just right to avoid peoples heads getting in the shot while taking selfies.

This is a 3 shot hdr with 3 stops either side of 

24-70 at 34mm, f11, iso 50, 2 seconds,  6 stop nd and a polariser

 Blue hour with the clock in the middle.  Again a 3 stop hdr with 3 stops either side of  24-70 at 61mm f11, iso 100, 4 seconds   

Blue hour with the clock in the middle.

Again a 3 stop hdr with 3 stops either side of

24-70 at 61mm f11, iso 100, 4 seconds

 

 A blue hour shot from the side of the river.  24-70 at 24mm, f22, 30 seconds

A blue hour shot from the side of the river.

24-70 at 24mm, f22, 30 seconds

 Close into the bridge, not sure I like the perspective on this one  Again a 3 stop hdr with 3 stops either side of  24-70 at 24mm f18, iso 100, 30 seconds

Close into the bridge, not sure I like the perspective on this one

Again a 3 stop hdr with 3 stops either side of

24-70 at 24mm f18, iso 100, 30 seconds

Baker Street Pixel Shift

I've been wanting to try out the pixel shift technology on my a7riii since I got it. Pixel shifted images have a couple of requirements. They have to be perfectly still with nothing moving in the shot and the camera must not move so will need to be on a tripod, this saves on complicated re aligning in post. I think the software may be able to cope with this but I didn't want to risk it.

With this in mind I could think of no better subject than Baker Street tube station. It fits the bill perfectly with the only complication being people on the platform and trains coming in and out.

From what I understand what pixel shift will take 4 images, shifting the sensor 1 pixel for each image. This leads to the camera capturing all the RGB information for each pixel and a final images that is (4*42) megapixels in size, so 168 megapixels.

To create this image you have to take your 4 images from the camera and combine them using Sonys Imaging Edge software. This will then output an ARQ file, mine was 325mb in size and the individual images about 81.8mb, so you get roughly all the data from each image in one large file. Photoshop is not able to read the ARQ file so I converted it to a TIF with Sonys software and then imported it for editing.

The end image has a lot more detail than the single file, the colour also looks a lot more realistic and required less editing. I'm not sure the level of detail matters that much unless you are printing the image really really large. That said,  I do like the end product and it wasn't too difficult to work with. I assigned my c1 button to pixel shift so its really easy to setup in camera.

This is a feature that I will definitely use again, especially for architectural shots.

Here are the results:

 This is the finished product, I'm quite pleased with it, I wanted to shoot a really wide pano but the station was quite busy and it would have take a lot of time to get it exactly how I wanted it. So I'll save that one for another day, one that isn't over a bank holiday weekend.  This is an incredibly detailed image, you cant quite read the writing on the tube map zoomed in though.  Shot with Sony 24-70 f2.8 at 32mm, f9, iso 100, 1.6 secconds

This is the finished product, I'm quite pleased with it, I wanted to shoot a really wide pano but the station was quite busy and it would have take a lot of time to get it exactly how I wanted it. So I'll save that one for another day, one that isn't over a bank holiday weekend.

This is an incredibly detailed image, you cant quite read the writing on the tube map zoomed in though.

Shot with Sony 24-70 f2.8 at 32mm, f9, iso 100, 1.6 secconds

 This is a 300% crop from the image to show you the difference in sharpness, this is the normal image without pixel shifting straight from the camera.

This is a 300% crop from the image to show you the difference in sharpness, this is the normal image without pixel shifting straight from the camera.

 This is a similar 300% crop from the shifted image, as you can see there is a lot more detail and the colour is much better.

This is a similar 300% crop from the shifted image, as you can see there is a lot more detail and the colour is much better.

Spiral Staircase

London is a treasure trove for photographers, there are interesting compositions and locations to shoot galore. There are the obvious places, less obvious places and then hidden places. Today's location was a hidden place, somewhere a little off the beaten track and tucked away.

I'm not going to openly disclose the location other than its a staircase in a London railway station somewhere. If it wasn't for friend at work Jim, I would have no idea that this place even existed. So thanks for the tip Jim!

 Almost from the top.  Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/8 Seconds

Almost from the top.

Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/8 Seconds

 Looking through the mesh at the top of the staircase.  Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/8 Seconds

Looking through the mesh at the top of the staircase.

Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/8 Seconds

 Looking through the grid at the top of the stairs.  Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/8 Seconds

Looking through the grid at the top of the stairs.

Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/8 Seconds

 Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/13 Seconds

Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/13 Seconds

 This was my first shot, after finding the staircase tucked away.  Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/13 Seconds

This was my first shot, after finding the staircase tucked away.

Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f4, iso 320 1/13 Seconds

DSC02145-Edit-2.jpg

Weekend in Kent

My Girlfriend's parents live in Deal, Kent. This weekend I had a long weekend there. We enjoyed some excellent food and a few good days out. I also enjoyed some photography and drone flying. 

I had 3 locations in mind, Reculver, Botany Bay and the usual fantastic Deal Pier. The clocks have just gone forward so no real chance of getting in a sunset this trip. I had intended to get up and go for a sunrise shot in Deal but I failed miserably and apparently it was pretty spectacular. Oops!

I think being deterred by bad weather is something I suffer from too often so in future I need to try to be creative even in bad conditions. With this in mind I set out to find a few good compositions and use ND filters for really long exposures. As well as scouting for future shots.

Deal Pier

 I've taken this shot many times, but never with exactly this composition, not with these tones and not for an exposure this long. This would be pretty special for a sunrise and one day I will get there and take that shot!  Taken with Zeis 16-35 f4 at 16mm, f22, iso 100, 206 seconds 

I've taken this shot many times, but never with exactly this composition, not with these tones and not for an exposure this long. This would be pretty special for a sunrise and one day I will get there and take that shot!

Taken with Zeis 16-35 f4 at 16mm, f22, iso 100, 206 seconds 

 This is a composition I've been thinking of for a while, quite pleased with it, could have possibly have done with a longer exposure to soften the sea and sky a little more. Would be excellent as part of a pano at sunrise.  Taken with Sony 70-200 f4 at 145mm, f13, iso100 30 seconds

This is a composition I've been thinking of for a while, quite pleased with it, could have possibly have done with a longer exposure to soften the sea and sky a little more. Would be excellent as part of a pano at sunrise.

Taken with Sony 70-200 f4 at 145mm, f13, iso100 30 seconds

 I don't think Ive shot exactly this composition before, again something that would look pretty special at sunrise.  Shot with Sony 24-70 f2.8 at 48mm, f22, iso 100, 70 seconds

I don't think Ive shot exactly this composition before, again something that would look pretty special at sunrise.

Shot with Sony 24-70 f2.8 at 48mm, f22, iso 100, 70 seconds

 I don't think Ive tried this one before, but again something that would look good at sunrise, which would be difficult as the pier isn't open at that time, I would have to try to get my camera through the railings at the gate somehow.  Shot with Sony 24-70 f2.8 at 24mm, f14, iso 100, 30 seconds 

I don't think Ive tried this one before, but again something that would look good at sunrise, which would be difficult as the pier isn't open at that time, I would have to try to get my camera through the railings at the gate somehow.

Shot with Sony 24-70 f2.8 at 24mm, f14, iso 100, 30 seconds 

 Shot this with my dji spark in pano mode, the wind was getting get up so I was a bit weary about flying too far over the sea.

Shot this with my dji spark in pano mode, the wind was getting get up so I was a bit weary about flying too far over the sea.

Reculver

What a wonderful location. I was a bit sad to find that I had left the memory card out of my DJI Spark. It was plugged into the side of my laptop. Whats worse is that the conditions were perfect for drone flight, no wind whatsoever and plenty of sunlight.

 This place is wonderful, easy to get to and great for photography. This would make a stunning sunset location. I like the tones in the sea for this one.  Shot with Zeis 16-35 f4 at 33mm, f22, iso 100, 206 secconds

This place is wonderful, easy to get to and great for photography. This would make a stunning sunset location. I like the tones in the sea for this one.

Shot with Zeis 16-35 f4 at 33mm, f22, iso 100, 206 secconds

 A much tighter composition. At about this time a guy was flying his Mavic which made me sad as I couldn't fly my spark.  Shot with Sony 70-200 f4 at 70mm, f22, iso 100, 206 seconds

A much tighter composition. At about this time a guy was flying his Mavic which made me sad as I couldn't fly my spark.

Shot with Sony 70-200 f4 at 70mm, f22, iso 100, 206 seconds

 I quite like this for its calmness, the reflection and the tones in the water. I went for a much shorter exposure here, the water was really calm anyway and no clouds.  Shot with Zeis 16-35 f4 at 33mm, f18, 30 seconds.

I quite like this for its calmness, the reflection and the tones in the water. I went for a much shorter exposure here, the water was really calm anyway and no clouds.

Shot with Zeis 16-35 f4 at 33mm, f18, 30 seconds.

Botany Bay and Kingsgate bay

So Im told that this place is very very busy in the summer and the parking can get interesting. I would recomend choosing your timing wisely.

 A wonderful sea cave looking out on to the horizon, with an added Polly into the picture for scale.  Shot with Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f5.6, iso 100, 1/100 second

A wonderful sea cave looking out on to the horizon, with an added Polly into the picture for scale.

Shot with Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f5.6, iso 100, 1/100 second

 The sea arch leading from Kingsgate bay to Botany bay. More Polly for scale.  Shot with Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f5.6, iso 100, 1/320 second

The sea arch leading from Kingsgate bay to Botany bay. More Polly for scale.

Shot with Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f5.6, iso 100, 1/320 second

 This is more a location scouting image, this would look awesome at sunset, would have to be timed carefully though with the tide.  Shot with Sony 12-24 f4, at 12mm, f5,6 1/320 second

This is more a location scouting image, this would look awesome at sunset, would have to be timed carefully though with the tide.

Shot with Sony 12-24 f4, at 12mm, f5,6 1/320 second

 Giant Steps.  Shot with Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f5.6, 1/320 second

Giant Steps.

Shot with Sony 12-24 f4 at 12mm, f5.6, 1/320 second

Footage from my DJI Spark

Snow day 2, Macro day

Turns out the beast from the east wasn't quite finished with us here in London. This weekend temperatures have shot back down to around 0 and snow has come back. This put a downer on me vernturing out into the cold so I decided to get the macro lens out and shoot some images with snooted flash.

I need to learn much more about lighting! I aslo need some E mount extension tubes!

Anyway here are some of the results.

All images shot with the Sony a7rii and the Sony 90mm f2.8 Macro lens.

 An egg helf up by two forcs. Lit by DIY snooted flash.  90mm f14, 1/200 secs

An egg helf up by two forcs. Lit by DIY snooted flash.

90mm f14, 1/200 secs

 A slightly wet apple  90mm f20, 1/200 secs

A slightly wet apple

90mm f20, 1/200 secs

 One of our garden statues.  90mm f16, 1/200 secs

One of our garden statues.

90mm f16, 1/200 secs

V&A Museum

Following the snowpocolypse of last week we have had a mixture of weather in London ranging from strangely warm and sunny to rain, lots of rain. So this weekend I decided that my shooting would be done at the V&A. I've never been here before, I always end up in the Natural History museum or the Science museum, both of which are also excellent.

Anyway I took along the a7riii, the 12-24 f4 and the 85 f1.4. Not really shot with the 85 yet and I though it would be nice to use in the museum, due to the f1.4 and the amount of bokeh it produces.

Anyway here are some of the shots:

 Took me a while to figure out where this was! I also didn't go quite as wide as I could have, a good reason to go back! The flippy tilty screen came into its own with this shot.  12-24 at 17mm f16 1.6 secs, iso 100

Took me a while to figure out where this was! I also didn't go quite as wide as I could have, a good reason to go back! The flippy tilty screen came into its own with this shot.

12-24 at 17mm f16 1.6 secs, iso 100

 Main hall with the fantastic sculpture.  12-24 at 12mm f4 1/30 secs, iso 100

Main hall with the fantastic sculpture.

12-24 at 12mm f4 1/30 secs, iso 100

 Scultpture with the 85, the detail and bokeh you get with this thing are amazing!  85mm f1.4 1/30 Secs (thats IBIS for you!) iso 100

Scultpture with the 85, the detail and bokeh you get with this thing are amazing!

85mm f1.4 1/30 Secs (thats IBIS for you!) iso 100

 More fun with the 85  85mm f1.4 1/100 sec iso 320

More fun with the 85

85mm f1.4 1/100 sec iso 320

 To people admiring a famous work of art.  85mm f1.4 iso 320 1/100

To people admiring a famous work of art.

85mm f1.4 iso 320 1/100

 Rhino  85mm, f1.4, 1/10 iso 100, yes these settings are ridiculous and its not particularly sharp.

Rhino

85mm, f1.4, 1/10 iso 100, yes these settings are ridiculous and its not particularly sharp.

 Tapestry room.  12-24 at 12mm, 13 secs iso 100

Tapestry room.

12-24 at 12mm, 13 secs iso 100

 BOKEH!  85mm f1.4 1/100 iso 1000

BOKEH!

85mm f1.4 1/100 iso 1000

 Two guys fixing a sewing machine.  85mm f.14 1/100 iso 800

Two guys fixing a sewing machine.

85mm f.14 1/100 iso 800

 More of the stunning sculpture.  85mm f1.4 1/80 iso 100

More of the stunning sculpture.

85mm f1.4 1/80 iso 100

Pluto pump and a fishtank

The Beast from the East visited the UK this week, causing travel chaos, snow penises and a day working from home. Due to today being the last day of Snowmagaddon , I decided to stay at home and plan an indoor shoot with the pluto trigger, pump and the trusty fish tank.

This shoot was a total nightmare from start to finish. It took me three hours to get the settings right on the droplets. Then getting focus was a nightmare, keeping the fishtank clean a nightmare and the cleanup in editing also pretty painful. Not a shoot I will repeat in a hurry! I do have some ideas for future shoots with the pluto pump and trigger though.

Gear used: A7riii, Sony 90mm f2.8 Macro, two light stands, pluto trigger, pluto pump, manfroto tripod, diy snoot and a Nikon flash.

 Got this after about 300 attempts. Main issue here is that you have roughly 3 attempts with the ink and then the bottom bit has just become a total mess. Then you have to empty the tank, refill, clean, not touch anything and go again. Changing from white to blue ink was mostly luck, the pluto pump has a hole where you can just drop the ink in quickly.  iso100, f13, 1/200, lit with a Nikon flash

Got this after about 300 attempts. Main issue here is that you have roughly 3 attempts with the ink and then the bottom bit has just become a total mess. Then you have to empty the tank, refill, clean, not touch anything and go again. Changing from white to blue ink was mostly luck, the pluto pump has a hole where you can just drop the ink in quickly.

iso100, f13, 1/200, lit with a Nikon flash

 iso100, f13, 1/200, lit with a Nikon flash

iso100, f13, 1/200, lit with a Nikon flash

 iso100, f13, 1/200, lit with a Nikon flash

iso100, f13, 1/200, lit with a Nikon flash

 The setup

The setup

Tower Bridge from the docks

Despite the cold we've been quite lucky with the weather this weekend. I decided to take the opportunity and take out the new camera, with the 24-70 f2.8 G master, that hasn't been used yet and see how good it is. I've ordered filters for it as its an 82mm filter thread whereas my Nikon glass used to be 72. I prefer using the circular screw on filters as you can use the lens hood to avoid glare which can quickly become a problem.  

So all shots from this shoot were without any sort of filter, hence the slightly strange settings in some of the shots.

I found this location the way a lot of spots are discovered, via Google maps. It is not very far from Tower Hill although I wish I had worn my walking boots rather than my trainers.

In conclusion I think the lens is excellent, amazingly sharp and quick to focus, perfect mid range lens.

 First composition from the docs just as sunset was starting and the lights were coming on.  ISO 50 67mm f22 1 sec (this is a hdr so the 1 sec is not the full story)

First composition from the docs just as sunset was starting and the lights were coming on.

ISO 50 67mm f22 1 sec (this is a hdr so the 1 sec is not the full story)

 Slightly different composition further in with more lights coming on and the light starting to fade.  ISO 50 48mm f18 0.4Secs (this is a hdr so the 0.4 sec is not the full story)

Slightly different composition further in with more lights coming on and the light starting to fade.

ISO 50 48mm f18 0.4Secs (this is a hdr so the 0.4 sec is not the full story)

 I think this is my favourite image of the evening, the light is just at the perfect level, sunset still in full force and all the lights have come on. I will probably go back and take the other compositions at a similar time.  ISO 100 44mm f18 30 Secs (Again a HDR)

I think this is my favourite image of the evening, the light is just at the perfect level, sunset still in full force and all the lights have come on. I will probably go back and take the other compositions at a similar time.

ISO 100 44mm f18 30 Secs (Again a HDR)

 Similar timing as the previous image but different composition.  ISO 100 59mm f18 20 Secs (Again a HDR)

Similar timing as the previous image but different composition.

ISO 100 59mm f18 20 Secs (Again a HDR)

 Thought I would test out the closer focusing of the new lens and see what the bokeh looks like from this location, in all I'm pretty impressed!   I was also joined by another 2 photographers at this location, one with a Cannon one with a Nikon. Both were using all manner of different 100mm square filters and diy devices to stop glare. They had warming filters, and grads I think. Personally I only really ever use polarizers and ND filters. Grads and colour filters can be achieved in post easier and its less kit to carry. One guy had a Gitzo tripod that was quite nice, when my trusty manfroto dies I will be after one myself I think.  ISO 100, 53mm, f2.8 1/6 Sec ( Could I have hand held this with the IBIS, surely not)

Thought I would test out the closer focusing of the new lens and see what the bokeh looks like from this location, in all I'm pretty impressed! 

I was also joined by another 2 photographers at this location, one with a Cannon one with a Nikon. Both were using all manner of different 100mm square filters and diy devices to stop glare. They had warming filters, and grads I think. Personally I only really ever use polarizers and ND filters. Grads and colour filters can be achieved in post easier and its less kit to carry. One guy had a Gitzo tripod that was quite nice, when my trusty manfroto dies I will be after one myself I think.

ISO 100, 53mm, f2.8 1/6 Sec ( Could I have hand held this with the IBIS, surely not)

Sky Garden

London's Walkie Talkie or 20 Fenchurch Street its official name has a pretty impressive roof garden that contains several bars and restaurants. I was lucky enough to have a reservation at one of these restaurants, which also allows you to jump the long queues. We arrived pretty early to take in the spectacular views of London at Sunset and for me to do some shooting with the new A7riii and the 12-24 F4. I'm very impressed with the new camera, the level of detail it shows is impressive. I also find it much easier to use than my old D810, the EVF takes away all the guess work and allows you to arrive at the final image much quicker in my opinion. The 12-24 is also a fantastic lens, I was very surprised by the lack of distortion and the level of sharpness.

So if you intend to visit the sky garden I would recommend booking a restaurant too so you can jump the long queue. Also be aware that the terrace shuts at 6pm, that time may change in Summer. 

Anyway here are a few of my shots, for stabilisation I rested my camera on a rail, no tripods allowed, another thing I wouldn't have been able to do with the D810, it wouldn't have fit on the rail.

 Sunset was mostly a bust, the sky did light up a little but only briefly.  IS0 100, 12mm, f6.3, 1/125 sec

Sunset was mostly a bust, the sky did light up a little but only briefly.

IS0 100, 12mm, f6.3, 1/125 sec

 Shot through the terrace glass while resting on a railing, required a fair bit of cleanup in post.  ISO 50, 12mm, f22, 3.2 sec

Shot through the terrace glass while resting on a railing, required a fair bit of cleanup in post.

ISO 50, 12mm, f22, 3.2 sec

 London's west end, shot through one of the side windows, my favourite shot of the night.  ISO 100, 24mm, f11, 1.6 sec

London's west end, shot through one of the side windows, my favourite shot of the night.

ISO 100, 24mm, f11, 1.6 sec

Pluto Trigger and new camera

I've been going on about switching to Sony for a while now and this weekend I finally did it. I traded all my Nikon gear and my a7mk2 and moved completely over to Sony kit, I will post about what I have now at a later date. 

Around a month back I also ordered a Pluto trigger to replace my lost Miops trigger (it fell between a rock in Madeira never to be seen again ). As well as the trigger I ordered the Pluto pump, which can be used to create amazing droplet photography.

So I setup the new a7r3 with the fantastic Sony 90mm f2.8 macro and away I went. Here are the results.

 This is my favourite. I used a gold reflector to get the gold tint to the water.

This is my favourite. I used a gold reflector to get the gold tint to the water.

DSC00226.jpg
DSC00251.jpg
DSC00255.jpg
 The Pluto pump setup, before it got any coloured liquid in it.

The Pluto pump setup, before it got any coloured liquid in it.

 Very simple lighting setup for this first attempt, one speed light and a reflector.

Very simple lighting setup for this first attempt, one speed light and a reflector.

 The Pluto trigger connects to the camera and the pump, you then configure your drops using a smartphone app and trigger everything with the same application.

The Pluto trigger connects to the camera and the pump, you then configure your drops using a smartphone app and trigger everything with the same application.

Pixel Stick First Outing

Last year I originally asked Father Christmas for a Pixel Stick. In his wisdom he decided that I should have a DJI spark instead. I've had loads of fun with the Spark but still wanted to do some light painting with a Pixel Stick. So in January on the first day back at work after the holidays I decided to order myself a Pixel Stick.  It arrived pretty quick. I was surprised out how well made and how easy to use it was. You basically chose the image you want to paint, put it through the converter app on the PixelStick.com website, put the image onto an SD card and plugin to the stick.

For my first attempt with the stick I wanted to go for something relatively simple so decided to paint the Union Jack on Tower Bridge. I also painted a swirly rainbow. You can see how I did it in the video. My girlfriend Polly helped me with the camera, thanks Polly!

We had a lot of fun and will definitely be out again with the pixel stick, light painting in London.

 Flag Painting

Flag Painting

 Painting Rainbows

Painting Rainbows

Vauxhall Bus Station

Vauxhall Bus station is probably the most impressive station in London, or so I read the other day on Facebook. Its also under threat, TFL (Transport for London) apparently want to demolish it to improve the flow of traffic for the area. That would be pretty sad and may well get thrown out by parliament. 

This place has been on my list for a while but just haven't got around to it. The conditions weren't perfect today and it was clouded over by the time I go there. There was no sign of any sunset or even decent cloud movement. Definitely somewhere I will visit again in better weather. I also had a little scout along Vauxhall Bridge and I think there are quite a few good sunset compositions to be had . I'll be back later in the year, with the new A7r3.

 This has had a surprising number of distractions removed from it!

This has had a surprising number of distractions removed from it!

 I quite like the contrast in the black and white edit.

I quite like the contrast in the black and white edit.

 This would be a great sunset location.

This would be a great sunset location.

 Another great sunset location with Battersea Power Station in the background.

Another great sunset location with Battersea Power Station in the background.

DJI Spark gone with the wind

Today was my last day in Yorkshire and I took advantage of the half decent weather this morning by heading to one of the local parks to fly my drone. I did not take account how strong the wind was! it was stronger than I had first anticipated! I think I may need to invest in a wind gauge and maybe check weather reports more carefully.

So I was taking a shot looking down on the band stand, as I ascended the drone was pretty stable and elevating nicely. When I got to 60m however the drone got caught in a strong wind that it could not overcome and started to drift. No matter what I did the drone would not overcome it. I still had full control of the drone and my GPS signal was strong (checked the flight log) so this was definitely due to the wind. Im not sure even the trusty return home feature would have saved the spark here as it could not fight off the wind. Anyway I managed to get the drone to descend and changed its mode to sport mode, in sport mode the drone could thankfully overcome the wind. I managed to get it oriented the way I needed it and accelerated as hard out of the drift. Thankfully I overcame the wind and managed to get the drone under control.

Quite a scary experience but a good lesson learnt and my flying skills should have improved as a result. I think high altitude should only be attempted on a day with very little wind at all.

At home in Yorkshire

Its not often I go home to Yorkshire, this weekend was a bit special because my parents met my girlfriends parents for the first time. So as you can imagine the main focus was not photography. Not to be deterred though I did get in a few shots and got the drone into the air on the Wentworth Estate.

 Wentworth Village near where I grew up.

Wentworth Village near where I grew up.

 Wentworth Woodhouse at sunset

Wentworth Woodhouse at sunset

 9 Shot pano with the spark, they need to do a HDR setting for the 9 shot pano, would have saved the highlights in this.

9 Shot pano with the spark, they need to do a HDR setting for the 9 shot pano, would have saved the highlights in this.

 Sunset Over Wentworth

Sunset Over Wentworth

 This shot was a case of being in the right place at the right time, I just pulled up at the side of the road and got my camera out. This is actually a larger pano but square space can't cope with large pano images so had to cut it down.

This shot was a case of being in the right place at the right time, I just pulled up at the side of the road and got my camera out. This is actually a larger pano but square space can't cope with large pano images so had to cut it down.

Definitely need to work more on these spark shots, here is my latest effort at sunset, the spark range seemed a little limited, on this sequence here I started to lose signal when I got close to the house.

Albert Bridge

I've been wanting to shoot this bridge for a while but just never got around to it. Despite the poor cloud cover today, I thought I would have a go. I really enjoyed the shoot, its a very nice bridge and met some fellow photographers there too. 

I decided to take a 4 stop and filter and try to go for some exposures over 1 minute. I also had the idea for a good angle of the bridge from in the middle of the road going across it. This required a fair bit of patience and determination not to get run over.

Definitely somewhere I will go back to when the sky is a bit more interesting. A good sunset spot for the future.

 This is my favourite composition of the night, would look great at sunset.

This is my favourite composition of the night, would look great at sunset.

 There's a good composition from this side of the bridge too somewhere, I thing it possibly from down the river on the neighbouring bridge with a long lens.

There's a good composition from this side of the bridge too somewhere, I thing it possibly from down the river on the neighbouring bridge with a long lens.

 Black and white conversion always works well with the longer exposures.

Black and white conversion always works well with the longer exposures.

 Stood in the middle of the road for this, there's a better shot to be had here with some cloud cover!

Stood in the middle of the road for this, there's a better shot to be had here with some cloud cover!

 My favourite middle of the road shot.

My favourite middle of the road shot.

Shepherd's Bush Underground Station

I haven't really done much photography on the underground recently. I've got a few places on the list but usually reserve them for summer when sunset and golden hour happen much later.

This weekend Saturday was too cloudy and I wanted to do something relatively close to home so chose Shepherd's Bush Underground station. It has an interesting curve to the platforms and you can look down both platforms at one end of the station which gives an interesting effect. I need to see if there are other stations with a similar layout,

So gear wise I took out the D810 with my trusty 14-24. I used my mini tripod to support the camera as I wanted something really low to the ground for a more dramatic composition. This was also pretty light which is always good. Missed having the tilty flippy screen the Sony has.

 Its rare to see both trains stood still like this at the same time so I took advantage.

Its rare to see both trains stood still like this at the same time so I took advantage.

 I wanted to get the motion of the trains in this one.

I wanted to get the motion of the trains in this one.

Crashing my DJI Spark

I decided to take the new DJI Spark out today for a new years day flight, my first flight of 2018 turned out not to be my best flight! As you can see from both crashes in the video below.

Lessons learn from this are:

  1. Use sport mode carefully, don't fly too close to trees when using it. The wind can move the drone more when it moving fast.
  2. Use prop guards.
  3. When shooting video from a high altitude move the gimble down so you can see more of the land and less of the sky.
  4. Fly more carefully.
  5. The little spark is quite durable.

I also got my OTG cable working, to do this you need to downgrade the DJI GO app to version 4.1.15 (This is on Android I have no idea about IOS), you will also need to turn off the auto updates or the app will just upgrade and you will end up with it not working again.

 

 Two of the destroyed props, The other two are just gone!

Two of the destroyed props, The other two are just gone!

 The spark flying after its eventful day, it was hovering nicely here maintaining its position well.

The spark flying after its eventful day, it was hovering nicely here maintaining its position well.

I also noticed that while hovering the spark indoors to check that its ok, if you turn off the light the spark will drift to the side, this is apparently something to do with its ground sensor. So something to be weary of!

Christmas In Maderia

Christmas was a little different this year. In an attempt to avoid the cold and take in some winter sun we flew off on holiday to Madeira. The weather was fantastic, better then I had expected and the island is beautiful. There were tonnes of opportunities for photography and flying the new DJI drone. Obviously this was not an all out photography trip, so that wasn't my main focus but I did get in a few outings, including one into the mountains on Christmas day to see the valley of the nuns, which was fantastic.

I'm gaining in confidence with the little DJI Spark and did fly it over the sea a few times. Will definitely be flying it more in the near future! We did see a Mavic flying what must have been miles away from the pilot, at a height the spark could only dream of, capturing an amazing sunset. I wouldn't be surprised if one of those ends up in my hands before the year is out.

I doubt this will be my last time on the Madeira and already have loads of ideas for shots and drone footage I want to capture next time, maybe next Christmas!

Looking forward to the new year, I already have plans to swap my Nikon gear over to Sony with a new A7R3 which will be followed shortly after by a trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. There are also whisperings of trips to the Jurasic coast and to the Lake District so plenty of good things happening in the new year.

 

 Sunset from the Hotel

Sunset from the Hotel

 The Valley Of The Nuns, I was lucky with almost perfect light.

The Valley Of The Nuns, I was lucky with almost perfect light.

 Ribeira Da Janela, better conditions would lead to amazing shots.

Ribeira Da Janela, better conditions would lead to amazing shots.

 Pano shot with the drone.

Pano shot with the drone.

 Sunrise, something I hope to see more of in the new year.

Sunrise, something I hope to see more of in the new year.

 Another drone pano, reaching imposible heights.

Another drone pano, reaching imposible heights.

Last shoot before Christmas

Christmas is slightly unusual for us this year, in that we are having it in Madeira instead of the traditional Rotherham or Kent. Anyway today was my last chance to do some shooting before flying out on Friday. I chose to wander to Tower Bridge and get a few pano shots with the 70-200 on the Nikon, probably one of the Nikons last outings. The weather looked great this morning but failed me and there was no sunset, I came away with a few shots but nothing spectacular.

Sadly Squarespace cant really cope with the size of my pano shots, you can get an idea of the shot I came away with from the video.