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The advantages of winter photography

The advantages of winter photography

A friend of mine recently complained that she wished winter would hurry up and end so she could get out and start taking photographs again. No, no! I contradicted, winter is a fantastic time for taking photographs; all those heavy, brooding skies, the low sun, those stormy seas and frost-coated landscapes. It’s true I’ve never been a fan bright sunny scenes; give me grey, moody, atmospheric vistas any day. A sun high in the sky rarely makes for great photographs, even in summer landscapes generally appear more interesting shortly after dawn or close to sunset when the sun is low.

Sunrise over Cockwood Harbour at low tide, Exe Estuary, Devon.

Dawn over Cockwood Harbour on a frosty December morning.

In winter the sun follows a lower arc across the sky, thus a greater proportion of the available daylight produces what is, in my view, a more interesting light. A corollary of this is that the sun rises later and sets earlier, thus one does not have to drag oneself out of bed at five in the morning, or hang around until almost 10pm, to get those sunrise and sunset shots. It is true that some wildlife shots become trickier when one has to work with slower shutter speeds and wider apertures, and sometimes one has to rely on a tripod, not exactly condusive to high mobility for stalking some flighty subject. However, on the flip side, many animals become markedly less wary in winter, when hunger overrides normal timidity.

Heavy rain clouds above Teignmouth Pier, Teignmouth, Devon, England, UK.

A long exposure shot of Teignmouth Pier on a winter’s afternoon. Teignmouth, Devon.

I have always been fond of long exposure shots of moving water, producing beautiful soft, fluid and slightly surreal effects on waterfalls or waves on the beach. This does require low light levels entering the camera though, and in summer (even at minimum apertures) one must either stack neutral density filters in front of the lens, or get up really early or wait really late to get those shots around dawn or dusk. In winter it is so much easier, light levels are much lower anyway and as the sun rises and sets at a more acute angle to the horizon so the period of gloomy light lasts that much longer. This can be crucial if you are rushing between spots to try and find the best angle for you ‘money shot’. So dig out the winter boots and woolly hat and make the most of these chilly and gloomy landscapes. If nothing else it’s such a great excuse to eat lots of chocolate and warm up in a pub afterwards.

Start Point and Start Bay, South Devon

Rocky headland, Start Point, South Devon, England. Image MBI000921.
Rock Ridge and sky, Start Point, Rock Ridge and sky, Start Point, South Devon, England. Image No. MBI000920. Colin Munro Photography

South Devon, England. Image No. MBI000920.

 

Rocky headland, Start Point, South Devon, England. Image MBI000921.

Rocky headland, Start Point, South Devon, England. Image MBI000921.

 A very blustery day in late June saw see scrambling around the rocks on Start Point with my son.  The southwesterly wind was whipping white horses off the wave tops on the western side of the headland; to the east, sheltered by the high rocks of Start Point, the water within Start bay was almost mirror smooth, disturbed only by surface ripples.

Start Bay from Start Point,  South Devon, England. Image No. MBI000922.

Start Bay from Start Point, South Devon, England. Image No. MBI000922.

 

As ever, these images are available to reproduce as rights managed images or as art prints on a variety of media.  If you’d like to use any of the images in a publication, display, website etc., please email be (colin ‘at’ colinmunrophotography.com) noting the image number and where you’d like to use the image.  If you are interested in a print, please visit the prints page for options then email me. Thanks, Colin Munro.

Fishing canoe (pirouge) being landed at sunset, Senegal

Fishing canoe (pirouge) being landed at sunset, Senegal
Pirogue fishermen at sunset, Senegal, West Africa Image. MBI000914

Pirogue fishermen at sunset, Senegal, West Africa Image. MBI000914

 

Fishing canoe (pirouge) being landed at sunset, Senegal. Image MBI000914. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image or purchase a fine art print.

A wooden fishing canoe returns from a day at sea, and men haul the boat and engine up the sandy beach as the sun sets.  M’bour, Senegal.

Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific

Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific

Coconut palms trees and white sand beach and blue sky, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Image MBI000566.

Coconut palms trees and white sand beach and blue sky, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Image MBI000566.

.Coconut palms trees and white sand beach and blue sky, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Image MBI000566. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image or purchase a fine art print.
Aitutaki, Cook Islands, South Pacific.
Position 18° 51? 0? S, 159° 47? 24? W (WGS84).
I wrote recently that bright sunshine and blue skies did not feature in my photography. Okay, i lied! I doesn’t feature that often, but when it comes to South Pacific islands what else can one do? Aitutaki, Cook Islands, must be one of the most idyllic places on earth; sunshine, pristine white beaches, warm clear waters teeming with life, coconut palms and wonderful friendly people. I, like most people who visit I suspect, felt my time there was all too short. I’ve limited this post to a a couple of beach views and pictures of coconut palms (there wil be more). Aitutaki is a coral atoll, the second largest of the Cook Islands (after Roratonga) and also the second most visited. The atoll comprises 22 islands in total; the largest, central island is Arutanga. The remaining islands lie on top of the traingular fringing coral reef that encloses the lagoon. Tapuaetai island (one foot island,) where these images were taken, is located near the southern tip of the fringing reef. it is a small island of sand and coconut palms, less than a kilometre across.
Recently germinated coconut palms trees ( Cocos nucifera) on a white sand beach, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific. Image MBI000904.

Recently germinated coconut palms trees ( Cocos nucifera) on a white sand beach, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific. Image MBI000904.

.Recently germinated coconut palms trees ( Cocos nucifera) on a white sand beach, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific. Image MBI000904. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image or purchase a fine art print.
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is found around the tropics. The cocnut seed is buoyant and may be distributed widely by ocean currents. Coconut palms flourish in sandy soils and are tolerant of high salt levels. They grow fastes where mean annual temperates are around 80 degree F (27 degrees C).
Coral platform, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific. Image MBI000905.

Coral platform, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific. Image MBI000905.

. Coral platform, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands, South Pacific. Image MBI000905. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image or purchase a fine art print.
Coconut palms trees and white sand beach and blue sky, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Image MBI000906.

Coconut palms trees and white sand beach and blue sky, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Image MBI000906.

Coconut palms trees and white sand beach and blue sky, Tapuaetai island (one foot island), Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Image MBI000906. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image or purchase a fine art print.

Recently germinated coconut ( Cocos nucifera) on a white sand beach. Image MBI000907.

Recently germinated coconut ( Cocos nucifera) on a white sand beach. Image MBI000907.

Recently germinated coconut ( Cocos nucifera) on a white sand beach. Image MBI000907. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image or purchase a fine art print.

Reflections on water

Reflections on water

Yachts silhouetted just before dawn, San Diego harbour. Image MBI000899.

Yachts silhouetted just before dawn, San Diego harbour. Image MBI000899.

San Diego Harbour just before dawn. San Diego, California, USA. Image No. MBI000889. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to license use of this image.

Those of you with way too much time on their hands may have noticed that reflections on water is a recurring theme in my images. I know its a cliche, but hey! Cliche images only become so because they work. The images I’ve uploaded span a good few years; although most were taken in the past four, the Loch Ness image pre-dates that by quite some time. Consequently the pictures include both digital and film originated images. I’ve also chosen pictures from around the World: from San Diego’s bay-side to rural Devon,Southwest England, through to the Navua River creek at the southern tip of Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu, and back to the northern hemisphere to the shores of Loch Ness, northern Scotland during a particularly hard winter. You won’t find a great many bright summer days amongst my pictures. Not that I don’t enjoy the sun as much as anyone else, but it’s rarely dramatic. I much prefer the low light of dusk and dawn or winter days when the sun bobbles along the horizon, creating light and shadow that I can play with. Although I cut my teeth working underwater with a purely mechanical camera devoid of even a light meter, I’m not really a purist and will use Photoshop or whatever tools are at my disposal to enhance an image. To me it is not that different from dodging and burning photographic paper. However, you don’t great create a good image from a mediocre one straight out of the camera. For me at least, what I see through the lens in 95% of the final image and getting that image on to the camera’s sensor is 95% of the work. Everything after that is dressing. Two of the photographs were taken in the 30 minutes or so before dawn. For me that’s a magical time; very still, the World haven not fully woken. A not-so-magical time is when my alarm goes off at 4:30a.m., but if I do force myself out of bed it is often well worth the effort. The final image of Exeter historic quay was actually an evening shot, around 9p.m. on a warm evening in early June. The sun had just set, leaving a dramatic sky but with most of the quayside in deep shadow. To bring out this detail I created an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image as a composite from four seperate images covering (if memory serves me correctly) six full stops. The images were then processed using Photomatix and Photoshop. The hardest part of compilations like these are what to leave out. Thus reflections is a theme I will no doubt return to, with a ‘Reflections’ gallery up soon. All feedback, including reports of any gliches, most welcome.
Colin

The Turf Locks Pub, Turf Lock, Exeter Canal, Devon, England. Image No MBI000900

The Turf Locks Pub, Turf Lock, Exeter Canal, Devon, England. Image No MBI000900


The Turf Locks Pub, Turf Lock, Exeter Canal, Devon, England. Image No MBI000900. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to licence use of this image.
Yachts reflected on the calm waters of Exeter Canal on a winter's day. Image MBI000775.

Yachts reflected on the calm waters of Exeter Canal on a winter's day. Image MBI000775.


Yachts reflected on the calm waters of Exeter Canal on a winter’s day Image No. MBI000775. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to licence use of this image.
Sunrise over the Navua river near the mouth at Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji. Image MBI000583.

Sunrise over the Navua river near the mouth at Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji. Image MBI000583.


. Sunrise over the Navua River, Viti Levu, Fiji. Image No. MBI000583. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to licence use of this image.
Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland,. Image MBI000124

Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland,. Image MBI000124


Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland. Image No. MBI000124. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to licence use of this image.
Exeter quayside at night. Exeter's historic quayside. Devon, England.

Exeter quayside at night. Exeter's historic quayside. Devon, England.


.Exeter quayside at night. Exeter’s historic quayside. Devon, England . Image No. MBI000890. Please email me, quoting this number if you’d like to licence use of this image.

Exeter historic quayside at night

Exeter historic quayside at night

Exeter historic quayside at night. Cafe live on a warm summer night, Exeter, Devon.

Exeter historic quayside at night. Cafe live on a warm summer night, Exeter, Devon.


Feels like summer has finally arrived. We’ve had a few great days recently, and for once it’s co-incided with schools half-term so I’ve had the chance to take get the boogie board out with my son, rather than watching DVDs as rain lashes the windows (the norm for holidays!). I’ve been playing around with High Dynamic Range images a little bit recently. I’m not always keen on the effect, sometimes it works for me sometimes its just too lurid.

There has been a quay in Exeter since Roman times; the main trade was wool and woolen cloth, with the Customs House being built in 1680 to collect taxes on this burgeoning trade. The square riggers and the trade has long gone but many of the fine old buildings remain, converted now to cafes, bars and craft shops. I took these two images while out bat watching along the river bank with my kid (an extra treat as way past his normal bed-time). Each image is a composit of three long exposure images (these varied from 1/8th to around a second, from memeory). I actually took around 10 images of each scene but selected only three for the final images.

Exeter quayside at night. Cafe life along the river Exe by Exeter's historic quay in central Exeter, Devon, on a warm summer evening.

Exeter quayside at night. Cafe life along the river Exe by Exeter's historic quay in central Exeter, Devon, on a warm summer evening.


Larger images (and additional images of Exeter) can be viewed by clicking on this link here. If there is sufficient interest I may produce some prints of these images for sale.

Sunrise, Navua River, Viti Levu, Fiji

Sunrise, Navua River, Viti Levu, Fiji
Sunrise over the Navua river near the mouth at Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji.  Image MBI000583

Sunrise over the Navua river near the mouth at Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji. Image MBI000583

A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a little time on the islands of Fiji. This included a couple of days on the Navua river. I was there mostly to photograph bull and tiger sharks in Beqa Lagoon but the sheer beauty of the area was a real bonus. These shots were taken around 5am, just as the horizon began to lighten. It’s an incredibly tranquil place; the only sounds were the waking calls of a few parakeets and birds I did not recognise, plus the occasional ‘plop’ as a startled mudskipper dropped off a low hanging branch. I’ll be adding some of the Fiji landscapes to the prints for sale section of my website soon. if interested just email me.
As always my images are available to license. If you’d like to use one of my images please contact me

Sunrise and reflections, Navua river near the mouth at Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji.MBI000584

Sunrise and reflections, Navua river near the mouth at Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji.MBI000584

Loch Ness in winter, Scottish highlands; reflections and ghost ships

Loch Ness in winter, Scottish highlands; reflections and ghost ships

Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the still waters of Loch Ness, Highlands, Scotland, UK.

Frozen birch trees and snow-capped mountains reflected on the still waters of Loch Ness, Highlands, Scotland, UK. Image MBI000124.

Reflections on still water, Loch Ness, mid-winter.

We’ve just had a pretty hard winter, by UK standards. The coldest for about eighteen years. I didn’t manage to get up to Scotland this winter so this is an image for a few winters back. I am originally from this part of the World so it brought back childhood memories.
A winter high had settled over the highlands, leaving the air still, clear and bitingly cold. A dense layer of fog slowly rolled across the surface of the loch. Fog such as this is known as evaporation fog or steam fog, as the warmer water of the loch evaporates into the bitterly cold air above. Loch Ness is the second largest, by surface area, loch in Scotland (and lake in Britain), second to Loch Lomond. At 230 metres deep its volume is far greater and so it is the largest freshwater body in Britain, containing more freshwater than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Thus in winter this huge mass of water cools slowly, rarely falling below 5 degrees C. As I watched a survey vessel appeared out of the fog like a ghostly apparition. A few moments later it was lost in the fog again like a modern-aday Marie Celeste. As always my images are available for licensed use. If you’d like to use any of my images just email me

Like a ghost ship, a survey vessel cruises through winter fog across Loch Ness

Like a ghost ship, a survey vessel cruises through winter fog across Loch Ness. Image MBI000029