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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.

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

Ice cold in Alex ….or Exeter

Ice cold in Alex ….or Exeter
Boats locked in ice at midnight, Exeter Canal Basin, Exeter city, Devon, England.

Boats locked in ice at midnight, Exeter Canal Basin, Exeter city, Devon, England.

Apologies to John Mills and co for the bad pun. By chance this next blog was going to be about Alexandria, Egypt (well, Abu Qir actually, a small seaport nearby). Things came up and I haven’t quite completed it yet. As temperatures plummet and my boat is once again locked in ice I somehow managed to prise myself away from my woodburner last night to play around with some long exposures and high dynamic range shots. Returning to the warmth of the saloon around midnight, after a couple of hours freezing my butt off, I decided I had suffered exposure long enough and a warming whisky was required. Feeling began to return to my fingertips and I felt reassured they weren’t frostbitten after all.

Reviewing the pics afterwards I felt reasonably satisfied my time wasn’t entirely wasted. The one I’ve attached is an HDR composite of three exposures, ranging from 30 seconds to around 10 seconds. In the end I decided to combine them manually rather than use software such as Photomatrix, layering alternative exposures and combining as looking pleasing to the eye (well to mine eye anyway).

I’ll upload more images as i get around to editing them. Expect a blog about Abu Qir soon too (possibly titled ‘Soaking wet in Alex’)

Boats and wind and winter skies

Boats and wind and winter skies

We’ve just had around ten days of stormy weather here in southwest UK; a series of deep lows have driven rain-laden westerlies out of the Atlantic and up the English Channel. I’ve spent this time trying to effect repairs on my deck between squalls, while winds howl through the rigging. Trying to pour molten pitch into leaky seams between planks, each seam rather less than quarter of an inch wide, in a force eight gale is somewhat akin to attempting to juggle ping-pong balls whilst standing in the downdraft of a helicopter. A stream of bubbling pitch carefully aimed at a newly raked out seam will unexpectedly slew sideways to decorate my newly sealed deck with a long string of tarry sine waves. I spend the next ten minutes scraping off rapidly solidifying pitch, then retire to my laptop as the next squall arrives. Days like this can make me long for the blue skies of summer. When trying to work outdoors on the water, winter offers relatively few advantages. It does offer others though. Whilst sun-kissed beaches and clear blue skies look pretty, I generally prefer my landscapes to look dramatic. Dark skies and storm clouds with shafts of sunlight breaking though are, to me, intrinsically more interesting. Very often the look of a landscape will change dramatically in seconds as cloud cover waltzes light and shade across the terrain. It’s the opportunity to capture these ephemeral patterns that makes me climb out of bed early on winter mornings, pile camera gear into the cab of my old Landrover and try to make it to my selected vantage point in time for sunrise. Okay, sometimes it does; and sometimes I’ll hit the ‘snooze’ button on my alarm, turn over and reassure myself there’ll be other mornings like this.

Landscape photography is one of the few areas where I still on occasion use film. In terms of workflow and cleanness of image 35mm film no longer compares with current DSLRs (to be brutal, spatial resolution, signal to noise ratio and even the old weakness of dynamic range are all better on good DSLRs than 35mm film equivalents), but there is something about producing images by initiating and influencing a chemical reaction on a medium you can touch and feel that has a magical quality about it. I no longer process my own film; cutting, mounting and scanning slides is enough of a chore. Yet exposing images on film still feels closer to the spirit of Louise and Auguste Lumiere’s autochromes or Hurley’s Paget Plates than allowing photons to kick electrons up the energy escalator in layers of silicon.

Given the wintry weather we (in the UK) are experiencing at the moment, I thought a local winter scene would be an appropriate image of the week. This one was taken a couple of years ago, on a chilly November afternoon on the Exeter canal near where it joins the Exe Estuary. The sun was getting fairly low and boat hulls were shining brightly against the dark water. It was very still, and where the canal widened to allow vessels to moor alongside, just in front of the first lock (the Turf Lock) a perfect mirror image of the moored boats reflected of the water. It may have rained later that day but I’m really not sure. It’s the moment I remember.
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