Lytham St Annes: The Quest for the Perfect Shot.

Whilst in Lancaster on holiday a couple of months ago I visited Lytham St Annes for the first time in many years. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining and it looked as though people had ventured there from far and wide to enjoy the beach and take a leisurely stroll along its beautiful pier.

With my sunglasses on, cool drink at hand, a fully charged battery and a spare SD card, I spent a lovely afternoon taking pictures of everything I could.

As much as light is at the very heart of photography, sometimes the type and strength of it can make, or break a great image. When working outside light conditions can change within seconds, so we must always be ready, with our finger on the shutter release button, waiting to capture the best image we can. This can be rather frustrating at times because you can’t force the sun to come out from behind a cloud, or stop a shower of rain just for you to take a photograph. Mostly it isn’t until I am back at home and I can see the images I have took that day on my larger computer screen that I can see if I have had a successful day. When you do find the one image that you are delighted with, you sit back and take pride in the work that you had done, and forget about what you had to go through in order to get it.

Personally, when I take my camera outside I believe the final result is only achieved when I can find that slot of time where mother nature and I can work in coalition with one another. It is almost like every relationship we have in life;  work with one an other then good things will happen, but fight against one another then it can be miserable!

Now on to the elusive perfect shot, how many photos did it take before I got it? In truth, a lot! would you like to see it?

Lancashire England UK Victorian seaside ornate ironwork garden plants foliage holiday nature
Seating shelter at Lytham St. Annes.

I stood at the very same spot for around 5 minutes taking many photographs of this view. This was due to the clouds moving quite quickly across the sky, the light was hitting the sourrounding area in many different ways. The trouble was that with each of the images had their merits, with different qualities. I have chose this image as my best shot, but I’m sure if you seen the others then you might pick different one as the best shot. That is the most interesting thing about art, it is completely subjective. I choose this one as it truly represents the atmosphere of the day, everything was bathed in beautiful light. Everything from the plants to the finials of the ornate ironwork of the shelter seemed to  glisten and radiate in the early afternoon sun.

The only post-shoot work I carried out was that I decided to apply a slight vignetting around the image, and to increase the vibrancy ever so slightly – it didn’t need any more!

Like nearly everything to do with photography, it is important to be prepared. Here is a my own personal check-list I have before heading out for a day with my camera.

  1. Ensure battery is fully charged, and SD cards have been cleared and ready to go. ( I also have a spare battery which I charge and have at hand just in case!)
  2. Make sure everything is packed and ready to go in my camera bag, batteries, SD cards, lenses, tripod etc. (preferably done the night before.
  3. The night before make a plan. Decide location in advance and check what the weather is going to be like (this can help with knowing what to wear and help determine what equipment you need to take).
  4. If your chosen location is an extremely rural one, make sure you prepare a packed lunch, maybe a flask for a hot drink if its cold. Pack a map and make sure mobile phone is fully charged (Getting lost is easier that you think!).
  5. Make sure to pack a lightweight water-proof jacket in my rucksack. (Especially if like me, you live in Scotland!)
  6. Take a book with me, to pass some time between bouts of not ideal weather conditions.

Sadly sometimes there are days when, it doesn’t matter how many photos you take, the perfect shot is just out of reach. There are many times where I have had to revisit a location in order to get what I want. The main lesson is, don’t give up. It just means that when you finally capture that perfect image then the victory is twice as sweet!

If you like this image featured in today’s post then please visit my 500px profile at https://500px.com/reclickphoto where you even purchase it for re-use (terms and conditions apply).

For more information about ReClick Photo and the work that I do please visit my website at http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.

 

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Behind the Photograph: Lancaster Castle

Overshadowing the historic City of Lancaster and the River Lune, Lancaster Castle stands as a physical embodiment of nearly 1000 years of turbulent British history. Up until its closure in 2011, H.M.P Lancaster Castle was the oldest fully functioning prison in Europe dating all the way back to 1196. In 2011 the running of the castle reverted from the Ministry of Justice to the owners of the site, The Duchy of Lancaster. As of my visit a couple of months ago some areas of the castle were still being leased to the Ministry of Justice for use as a crown court.

The Castle as we see it today consists of a curious collection of structures dating from different periods, built for various purposes.  From the 12th Century Norman Keep to the prisons built in Victoriantimes, this site has seen many changes over its lifetime and currently it is the beginnings of evolving into it next incarnation as a popular tourist attraction.

Now let’s turn our attention to the main subject of this post, my favourite image from the visit.

Lancaster castle England Lancashire heritage history tourism tourist attraction medieval prison court jail
The magnificent 15th century gatehouse of Lancaster Castle.

Shown here is the main entrance to the castle, this magnificent gatehouse dating from the early 15th century was constructed during the time of Henry IV (1367-1413) incorporating into the new structure an earlier Norman gateway, this impressive structure rises to a height of around 20 meters (66 ft) and is believed to be one of the finest examples of its date and type in Britain.

With this shot I wanted to capture the textural quality of the stonework. When I arrived at the castle, the first thing I did was to walk up to the stone walls and put my hand on it. It’s almost as if I wanted to physically connect with it and its history, to know you are standing in a place and seeing something that many have for centuries before you is quite an amazing experience. It brings back to mind that I am, like you reading this blog, only the smallest of ink-dots on the large manuscript of time. For me that is a humbling yet reassuring feeling. By converting the image to black and white; it really brought out the tonal quality of the image, emphasising the rugged stone work, and for me brings back to memory how I felt standing there that day.

As you can imagine this building has been the backdrop of many historical events in our country’s history, here are some fascinating facts about Lancaster Castle:

  • The owner of Lancaster Castle is The Duchy of Lancaster. Do you know who the present Duke is? Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the current Duke of Lancaster as have all the monarchs before her since 1399!
  • In 1612, Lancaster Castle was the scene of one of the most famous witch trials in English history. During the Lancaster Assizes of the 18th an 19th of August 1612, twelve people living around the area of Pendle Hill in Lancashire were found guilty of the murder of 10 people by means of witchcraft. The most astonishing fact about this trial was that the key witness for the prosecution was a nine year old girl named Jennet Device, and three of the people accused where Jennets mother, bother and sister who were all found guilty and hanged along with 6 others. One died awaiting trial, and only once of those on trial was found not guilty.
  • On the 9th June 1975, the trial of The Birmingham Six started within the Shire Hall at Lancaster Castle. The trial lasted 36 days and on the 15th of August 1975, the jury found the six men guilty and were sentenced to 21 life sentences each.

Now many areas of the castle are open to the public, guided tours of areas inside the castle are available. Speaking as a person who has visited many historic properties of the years, the tour was amazing! If you are ever in Lancaster a visit to the castle is a must – I cannot recommend it highly enough!

I really hope you have enjoy this post today, if you would like to see some more of the images I took whilst at Lancaster please visit my 500px page (https://500px.com/reclickphoto) if you like them you can even licence them for use!

For more information about ReClick Photo and the work that I do please visit my website at www.reclickphoto.co.uk for more information.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.

 

Fireworks: Remember, Remember the 5th of November!

With an atmosphere full of suspense, waiting for the next rocket to be launched, there is always a few seconds of anticipation before a loud bang reverberates all the way through you, before bursts of bright light and colour begin to fill the night-sky creating bold patterns which cast reflections upon everything around as well as upon the faces of an expectant crowd.

For many a fireworks display is a frightening event, but for others it is a moment of sheer excitement and one of those few moments in life when, for a few moments you forget about the hum-drum of our everyday lives.

fireworks, event, guy fawkes, public
Fireworks display

As spectacular an event as a fireworks display is, and so thrilling to experience, trying to capture it in a photograph is a challenging but extremely rewarding task. Like all art forms, in photography there are many ways to achieve a similar outcome.  It is important not to just take someone’s opinion as gospel; you have to experiment and find what is best for you. My belief is that a photographer someone who paints with light. Our job is to channel that light in through our lenses, controlling and shaping it in order to create art.

When it comes to capturing fireworks I have a few tips:

  1. Make sure you arrive at the location with plenty of time to make sure you have the best possible spot where you can have an unobstructed view of the event.
  2. Turn off your flash!
  3. Switch off your automatic settings, be brave and go manual! Used in conjunction with a tripod you will be amazed with the results! Trust me you will fall in love with your camera even more when you use it in manual!
  4. Take your tripod!  The best way to capture fireworks, in my opinion is by using a long exposure time. So your tripod is an important piece of kit. The less movement of the camera, the clearer the image.
  5. Once the shot is set up do not look thought he viewfinder whilst you take the photograph, this will very likely cause movement of the camera, so if you have a remote then please use it.
  6. For great results keep your cameras shutter open so you can capture a whole burst. On my Nikon I can simply change my settings so that when I press the shutter button the shutter stays open until I let it go. Again to achieve the best results you will have to use your tripod.
  7. Every firework creates its own exposure, different types need to be treated slightly differently. So be prepared to make adjustments as the event progresses.
  8. Be creative look for clever and innovative ways to capture them, tripod heights and positions, capturing their reflections on water or glazed buildings etc. Most importantly have fun!!

Please do not be disheartened if your images don’t turn out the way you want them to. Capturing fireworks can be difficult so keep at it! A bad photograph should not be instantly dismissed. It can be used to find out what went wrong and used as a means to create a different strategy to capture a similar subject next time.

Photography is a process in which we are constantly learning; therefore it is a great exercise to keep some of your earliest images as a reference point for in years to come you can compare your work to them to measure how far you have come.

So make sure your battery pack is fully charged and you have a spare SD card and get out there and have some fun!

For more information about ReClick Photo and the work I do please visit my website at http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk . To stay in touch and here about special offers and seasonal discounts you can follow us on social media please click here to find out how to connect – http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk/follow-us-1.html

Hope you enjoy all the fireworks tonight – just remember to wrap up, stay safe, and be very careful!

Thanks for Reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.