Blundellsands, Hightown

One Step Forward; Two Steps Back

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Blundellsands, Hightown

Iso 200, 35mm, f13, 1/5sec

Unusually for me, I have a rare early finish from work during mid week. Normally I finish hours later with absolutely no chance of heading out with my camera.

This has now left me with a very tough decision to make.

Do I stay in to have an early night ready for work tomorrow or head out with my camera.

Decision Time

I’m going out!

I may not get another chance for a

couple of weeks and find it almost impossible to turn down this opportunity.

Where To Go?

With my mind made up, I check Google Maps on my phone where I have locations saved which I have been to or would like to visit so all I have to do now is to choose one that suits.

The place I had chosen to go was Blundellsands Sailing Club between Crosby and Formby, It has sea, sand and hopefully boats. I can also be there in less than 30 minutes which is perfect.

With the weather not looking promising for a decent sunset, I headed off in the car down the M57 motorway with my camera equipment and walking shoes; however in hindsight wellies would have been more favourable.

Blundellsands

As I arrive at my destination, I find that the sailing club car park is closed but this is no problem as there is a public footpath near by that allows direct access to the beach.

I throw my bag on my shoulder and change into my walking shoes then head off down the gravel path towards the shoreline. The first thing I noticed was a mast from a sailing boat extending up above the tips of the sand dunes giving me some idea of what lay beyond. Now filled with excitement that there is at least one boat still out today, I climb up onto the ridge to give me a better view of the area. To my joy there was more than just one boat, there was many.

Previous Visit

I have visited this location once before.

Last time I went south down the beach towards Crosby as there was no boats to be seen in the other direction. What I found was that the beach is littered with bricks and rubble which I can only imagine to have either been washed up by the tide or have been placed there as some sort of sea defence, but I’m not sure.

This was also the location where I sat next to a dead sea bird while capturing sunset without even realising until I started packing up my camera and tripod.

I couldn’t find much to photograph this way, but I did come away with a couple of keepers. The sunset was pretty good that night too.

Location Scouting

This time I headed north up beach towards Formby and my goal was to capture a picture of a boat with its reflection in the water.

I consciously made the decision to leave my camera in my bag and try to find a composition first before setting up my equipment. The idea behind this was that I would put a little bit more thought into my composition this time instead of taking multiple test shot while walking round and ending up with 300 images to edit through later.

The light was very flat, dull and the sky was grey with a hint of blue but this would have to do. I walk north for only about 5 minutes following the coast until I can go no further due to the way the estuary runs inland from here. Time to turn around and start taking some images.

Compositions

I attached my camera to my tripod and set up to capture my first image.

iso 200, 40mm, f6.3, 60 sec

My subject was an anchored boat in the estuary which was just about floating. I tried to use the estuary as a leading line upto the boat which I had placed on the bottom left third of the image but looking at the back of the camera it hadn’t come out quite as I envisaged which I think was mainly due to the none flattering light. However, having completed a moody edit on the picture in lightroom, I quite like it now.

Onto the next one.

By the time I’d finished taking this image, an opening had started to appear between the clouds and the horizon. This looked promising.

Iso 200, 12mm, f22, 1.6 sec

I had found a large tree branch lying on the sand pointing directly towards the sunset.

I used the timber to lead your eye towards the sunset and made sure to have the horizon on the top rule of thirds. I thought this image was ok but there is better to be had I was sure.

Sunset

iso200, 12mm, f13, 0.8 sec

My final spot was pretty much back to where I entered the beach and this would have to be my final location as sunset was fast approaching. As I was walking back to this spot, the sun had began to appear through the thin opening of clouds on the horizon. Big, bright and round It lit up the beach giving a very strong and beautiful magenta colour cast to the whole scene. Wary of the fact this would not last long I quickly tried to set up my composition but there was a problem, the ground was too boggy and my feet where getting stuck in the wet clay like sand. After moving Backwards and forwards, side to side it’s clear that I will have to overcome this challenge to get my shot and maybe sacrifice another pair of shoes.

Iso 200, 40mm, f6.3, 1/5sec

Iso 64, 12mm, f22, 4sec

Finally got it! I’ve got a boat, my reflections and a stunning sunset.

Heading Home

I’ve packed up my gear and I start heading home but I see one more composition which I had forgotten about. It was looking directly into the sunset with estuary snaking through the image as my leading line with two boats reflecting on the calm sea water. It would have been preferable that the boats were facing the opposite way, bow pointing to the camera but nevertheless I thought to myself, `I can’t leave with taking this picture’. I unpacked all my gear again, tripod, lens, polarising filter just so I was not leaving this image behind so to speak.

Iso 64, 25mm, f13, 20sec

Conclusion

This is a great place to visit for photography and I’ve only scratched the surface of this location so a third visit is definitely on the cards and next time, hopefully I can make it when the tide is in to capture even better reflections.

I set off on this journey with very little expectations due to the weather conditions but I ended up having one of the most colourful sunsets in terms of light on the landscape I’ve ever experienced. I came away having had a very enjoyable experience all because my desire to take images has brought me here. If I didn’t own a camera I probably wouldn’t have visited this location.

Oh, in case you were wondering, my shoes survived.

Email – Info@andrewgeorge-photography.co.uk

Website- www.andrewgeorge-photography.co.uk

Blundellsands Sailing Club – http://blundellsandssailingclub.co.uk/about

Ripples On The Dam

When it comes to landscapes, the number one thing that I like to photograph are reflections. It doesn’t really have to be any particular subject matter; I just always seem to find myself heading for somewhere that has water. Ideally, the water will be calm and still, however, I can achieve similar effects by using a long exposure.

Carr Mill Dam

My love for reflective landscapes has led me to some fantastic locations and one of my favourite places to visit is Carr Mill Dam which sits alongside the A580 East Lancashire Road, or ‘East Lancs’ as its more commonly known. This is partly down to the fact that its local to me but mainly because of the variety of pictures that are available here. There are trees, water, wildlife, and even a bit of architecture in the form of the 19 Arch bridge that stretches across the dam.

The 19 Arch Bridge taken October 2017

Heading to the Dam

Saturday 18th May.

My daughter has a friends party and the venue isn’t too far from the dam (you can probably tell where this is going). So I came up with the idea of dropping her off and spending a couple of hours at the dam with my camera; then I would collect her on the way back thus killing two birds with one trip…. Genius I know.

As I arrive at the dam, the wind is calm, trees are still, and there is a nice covering of clouds, a little bit dull, but I can live with that. I start thinking of reflections, long exposures, dramatic clouds and capturing the perfect photograph. As I get closer I see a small, white boat on the water, about 30ft from the edge of the bank, occupied by two people, ‘probably just doing some gentle fishing’ I thought so nothing to worry about there, I can still get my reflections with a long exposure; but this would mean editing out the boat later, so all in all a pretty good recipe for a nice picture.

The Waters Edge

I grab my gear out the boot of the car and head about 100 yards away to the waters edge. I look out across the water beyond the fishermen and I see a line of racing power boats. The serene atmosphere was suddenly broken by the sound of highly revving engines, as all the boats set off like greyhounds out of a trap, they start screaming towards me across the water. The two anglers, who turned out to be race marshals in their own motorised vessel, eagerly watch the boats as they take the corner at the end of the straight and head back down the water.

Camera settings – 150mm,1/2500sec,Iso 800,F3.2

Camera settings – 150mm, 1/2000sec, iso 640, f2.8

Camera settings – 150mm, 1/2000sec, iso 640, f2.8

A Lucky Coincidence

DAMN IT! (pun intended) no reflections for me today.

Luckily, I’m a big fan of motorsports so this was right up my street… Or East Lancs in this case.

I quickly equipped my Olympus Camera with my Olympus 40-150mm lens and started to capture the action using a high shutter speed of around 1/2500th of second to ensure I could freeze the boats within the image. However, I was keen to try out a technique called ‘panning’, where you use a slower shutter speed than normal, say around 1/50th of a second, and take a shot while tracking the moving boat across the water. This technique will allow you to have your subject sharp in the image but have a lot of motion blur in the background giving the feeling of movement and speed. I’ve seen plenty of pictures captured this way and can’t help but admire the skill of the photographer. My initial endeavour did not come with a high success rate, more likely because this was my first attempt and it’s a difficult method to master. I was probably getting around 1 in 20 shots which where usable. Most of them the boat was just a blur, a streaky mess. I felt that I did get better as the race went on but it’s all worth the effort for that one shot. 

There is no better feeling than looking at the back of your camera and realising you’ve got the image you were hoping for.

I was made up with this particular one. 

Camera settings – 150mm, 1/50 sec, iso 200, f8

I was also able to get a couple of pictures at the end of the first race when nobody was on the lake. I was photographing the boats near to a weir which fed into the Sankey Brook and I noticed two logs resting there.

I used the curvaceous overflow as a leading line into the image, the logs as foreground interest, smoothed out the water by using my 10stop filter screwed to the front of my Olympus 12-40mm lens. I was really pleased with the way this image turned out, definitely a keeper for me.

Camera settings – 14mm, 60 sec, iso 200 f9

Loved It!

Was I disappointed I didn’t get the image I was hoping for? ….. Nope absolutely not, I was in one of my favourite places doing something that I loved.

Email – Info@andrewgeorge-photography.co.uk
Website- www.andrewgeorge-photography.co.uk
Carr Mill Dam – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carr_Mill_Dam
Lancashire Power Boat Racing http://lancashirepowerboat.com/
Windermere Motorboat Racing Club http://www.wmbrc.co.uk/