Category: General

It’s A New Year, Learn Something New.

It’s A New Year, Learn Something New.

So, another New Year. More new years resolution, more plans to get fit or just exercise more. Maybe learn something new?

What about combining a bit of walking, with learning something new. Get out in the fresh air, and learn photography?

I’m offering a days 1-2-1 photography lesson with a bit of walking around Dartmoor.

Click Here to Contact me for full details

Belstone’s Maidens and Tors

Belstone’s Maidens and Tors

Last week I had the chance to get back to Dartmoor, so I thought I’d head back to Belstone and go in search of the stone circle called, ‘The Nine Maidens’ then get up close to one of the Tors. This was going to be about a 3 mile circular walk, nearer 4 if I included the distance from the moor to the car, but I was prepared for it.

I was too prepared as it happened, the temperature went up and wind dropped so I found myself too wrappped up. I think I’d prepared for winter, or at least very cold Dartmoor winds!

I headed onto Belstone Common via a different entrance which ended up being a long steep hill! Not what I’d expected to start the walk, but there was no turning back! Once onto Dartmoor again I followed a ‘footpath’ which gave me a great view of the Tors and where I was eventually heading for.

I found the Nine Maidens next, these stones date back to the Bronze Age. I thought they were taller, but neither-the-less, it was still impressive to see this circle that dates back so far in time. The Bronze Age started about 2500BC until 800BC!

After the stones I followed the footpath further and found a stream. Taking this shot was straight towards the sun, so a little blown out in the sky, but I left it in the photo as I liked the aircraft contrail.

Next on my list was to try and get to the top of the hill next to the Tors. This would be a first for me. The route wasn’t straight forward, a rocky climb, but these rocks are so big they made a sort of climbing path around them.

A tough climb, but worth the view from the top at Higher Tor and a great place for a bit of lunch at the half way point!

As well as a great view, you also have up here, near Higher Tor, The Logan Stone and Irishman’s Wall. I realised these wall was what I was searching from at the bottom when I first visited, but I never got that far.

So, following the Irishman’s wall all the way down was my way back to complete my circular walk. At least is was a shallower walk down than the other side.

This route gives you are great view of the opposite hills and on the footpath below, a view of Yes Tor.

This was my last photo in this trip. It had taken 2.5 hours, well I did take lots of photos! In all I came back with nearly 50 panorama and vertorama photos which will be slowly working their way on to the site.

If you have the Dartmoor 365 book, this walk cover squares B9, B10, C10

I’ve now setup a gallery just for my Dartmoor Photos

If you fancy visiting Belstone, here is the walk I took.
I parked in Belstone Car Park and walked through the town to the moor.

There is a pub, The Tors before you get to the moors and a Tearoom (only open Friday-Sunday), otherwise it is just moors and the walkers.

A Foggintor Visit

A Foggintor Visit

In my continuing exploring of Dartmoor I have recently found out that very close to where we visited in August was a quarry with a small lake or pond in the middle.

So, as it was half term and time to get a bit of fresh air, we headed in search of the quarry and other interesting things.

Dartmoor just doesn’t disappoint. Firstly you have the views…


You just can’t not take photos when given this as a view.

Secondly you have the interesting features and Foggintor definitely has them. Following the path, actually it’s old railway track, the regular flat stones with 4 holes are bit of a give away, but more path these days, you head towards an old settlement area. Then this disused ruin of a building from the time when the quarry was in use.

Opposite the building is an opening, through what was a big part of Foggin Tor mound, you see hight cliff edges. Stepping of the big chunks of granite strewn around the ground you pass through the opening into the quarry.

Although not a massive quarry, it was one three great quarries on Dartmoor and is big enough is still to impress. I know I was! During the 1840’s it supplied the granite that was used to build famous London landmarks, like Nelsons Column and London Bridge. Locally it was used in the construction of Dartmoor Prison.

It’s view on a day like today, was definitely worthy of a panorama photo.

I found it a bit tricky to get to the quarry floor beside the lake, so we gave that a miss. There are just views everywhere and so we explored the surrounding area for about another hour before heading back to the car.

Sadly we couldn’t stay till sunset, but I was still stopping and taking photos on the walk back, capturing this one with the sun starting to warm up the view.

This is a nice straight forward walk to this quarry with lots of photo opportunities on route.

I’ve taken more Panoramas and Vertoramas that can be viewed in their relevant galleries.

If you have the Dartmoor 365 book, this walk covers squares M6, with the Quarry in N7

Photo Restoration

Photo Restoration

Old photos are amazing memories. Most of us have an old box of photos that we occassionally get and out flick through. Sadly though over time these photos can fade, or have got damaged, either with a tear, scratch or worse.

Old photos are amazing memories. Most of us have an old box of photos that we occassionally get and out flick through. Sadly though over time these photos can fade, or have got damaged, either with a tear, scratch or worse.

The good news is, with computers, these days it doesn’t have to be the case. I can scan your old photos and digitally restore them to their former glory. Although not all can be recovered, that vast majority can be and you can then enjoy these memories again, this time on your computer or other device.

Your photos are scanned to a high resolution and then digitally edited to restore the missing detail, or correct the faded colour, or even remove strains or replace missing parts.

Once your original photo is scanned, it isn’t touched in anyway and you always have that as the original memory.

It’s is great when you have a wonderful photo of a family member from the past, capturing one instance in their life and even better if that photo is restored to its former glory

Please feel free to contact me for a non obligation quote

Backing up

Backing up

Most people these days have a computer and possibly more people own a phone.

We use our computers for a multiple of things, reading emails, browsing the web, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter etc…

If you run a business, or are a student, you might write letters, create spreadsheets, or create pieces of art in a graphics package like photoshop.

If you are an iPhone or iPad user and you take photos, then these may also be transferred to your computer too or you might backup your iPhone to your computer. This goes for other phones too, like Samsung or Nokia which might be backed up to your computer.

Now this is all great, everything works, you turn your computer on and off you go… or does it.

I’ve used computers for around 30 years and over that time everything has worked pretty much as it should, however, I’ve also had problems with computers not starting and hard drives failing. 3 hard drives in total. It doesn’t sound much, but when your data is stored on them, it’s EVERYTHING! Some of these drives have been a few years old, but my one failure was on a new computer just a couple of months old.

As a photographer, I have to think about ways of storing my photos and data, so I can access them, even if the worst happens. These days cloud solutions are very popular, but a lot of people like to keep their data local or don’t know about or trust the cloud.

So, an easy solution for backing up is to create a copy of everything you do. If you take photos, create an extra copy. When you’ve updated a spreadsheet, create a backup copy. Now the important part here, is the copy must be stored in a separate location to the original. So if your data is on your computer, create these copies on an external drive. External drives are cheap enough to buy and easy to use.

You should create a process for yourself. At the end of the working day, copy your new and updated data to your external (backup) drive. Get into the habit of doing this regularly or even better daily.

It might sound like a drag (no pun intended!), but it is better then losing your files.

Another option to manually backing up, is to get some backup software that can do it for you. If you use a iMac, then even better, that has it on built in software and recognises when you have your back up drive plugged in and it does it for you.

If you are a photographer and you use lightroom, that gives you an option to create a second copy when you import. Simple!

So find a method for you that works and backup on a regular basis.

Your backup drive needs to be big enough to store all your data, so look at your disk sizes and buy bigger. Backup software sometimes does incremental backups, so creates more than one copy on the drive to protect against bad sectors or you saving a ‘wrong’ version of your file.

Once you’ve got your backup process and drive in place, remember that hard drive might also fail, so maybe backup the backup? Another problem with this in house method, is your data is still in one location, i.e. in house or your office.

Backing up is a simple thing to do to help protect your data, but you do still need to think a little further than just your local backup. It is however a good start, as a backup is better than no backup, but maybe not as good as 2 or 3 backups stored in different places

Hartland Quay

Hartland Quay

In early August, we had family visit, so we wanted to take them somewhere with walks and a beach. We chose Hartland Quay.

You approach Hartland Quay via a toll road, which also covers the parking, and you drive down a narrow winding road to the first of a couple of car parks. Down another twisting road and your at another, where the hotel is.

There is a great view point, just past the hotel and down across an outcrop. At the end, some railings and then a view!

Wow!

This was just asking for some panoramic photos,

It’s the only way to show of the amazing dramatic coastline.

Heading back up from the outcrop, you can then walk down towards the beach. Another amazing view, more jagged rocks, cliffs.

Getting closer I took a Vertorama (Vertical Panorama) to try and show the details a bit more.

Once on the beach, there was so much to see, rock pools, dramatic cliffs, although some looked very precarious
so avoided them and wave smoothed low level rock lines just waiting to be explored.

There where also many walks along the top of the cliff areas to more exciting places, but that required more time and more planning. This day was about the beach, scenery and the company!

Digital Textures

Digital Textures

Since moving house and living nearer the coast and moors, I have been inspired to start taking images for use as digital textures.

I have then also been using some of these images to add into my own portrait photos to give the background a bit of detail or even adding them to some of my landscape photos.

In this image I added a textured background (tm 1860) which was actually a photo of a piece of road.

When you start photographing textures and start looking at patterns it gets quite addictive and you end up finding textures in everything. I’ve photographed pavements, wood, sand and interesting granite rocks. These texture were taken on the beach.

One of them created a great background for this image.

I’ve found some great granite rocks too.

These have then enabled me to create these 2 images.

The first works really well as an old style image, using 2 textures and the second and just made the photo have an interesting feel to it.

Other texture packs are

Rough Granite v3

Sand

Beach Rocks v3

Render

Concrete v3

and more…

So if you are a portrait photographer, landscape photographer or even a crafts person, please take a look at my Etsy shop to view my range of textures, where you can them buy them if you like them.

Digital Textures Packs via Etsy

The Langtree Tractor Run 2017

The Langtree Tractor Run 2017

Yesterday was Fathers Day. It was also the Langtree Tractor Run. This sounded like fun and it was for a good cause for our local pre school, Little Bears, so we booked up in advance and spent the week checking the weather forecast. It looked like it was going to be hot!

So, yesterday we headed out armed with hats, suncream and water and went to Langtree. We weren’t too sure what to expect, other than it was a tractor run with about 50 tractors!

The timings seemed a little vague on how long the run was and having never done it before we really just had no idea…

We set off from a field in Langtree on 1 of the 3 trailers, with what then looked like the other tractors jostling and squabbling for position.

Through the farm and down a track to the road.

Now I must say at this stage, these photos are taken from back of a bouncy trailer with nothing really to lean on or indeed focus on!

We’d been going for a while now, but checking the map we had found, it seemed like a long route and we hadn’t travelled far…

Then off roading again to more tracks and across fields.

Through more farms…

and fields, well it was a tractor run…

We eventually, an 1hr 30mins later, made it to the half way point, Shebbear Village square!

A chance to stretch our legs…

before getting back on the trailer and heading back towards Langtree, via many places I hadn’t been.

It was great to just sit there and watch the countryside go by, wave and people and looking over all the hedgerows.

The whole trip from leaving to getting back was around 3 hours. A little uncomfortable at times bouncing up and down on the wood benches in the trailer. The other trailer had a sofa and even some covering but we survived and was rewarded with a great roast meal and amazing ice creams at the end.

The kids enjoyed it, mostly, and so did we, although it was a little long but definitely something you should do at least once.

Vertoramas at the Gorge

Vertoramas at the Gorge

Vertorama photos can be great fun and have a real impact on the viewer.

If you don’t know, a Vertorama is a vertical panorama with images stitched together vertically. It can take a bit of practice to get them right, but the result is worth it.

They can be made from stitching just 2 images together, or multiple images.

I recently visited Lynford Gorge and this was a great chance to take some.

My first chance was when walking towards the Devils Cauldron, there were some very tall trees that I wanted to try and capture and show the height of them.

This images is composed of 6 images in totals.

My second vertorama was a lot more tricky, is was down in the cauldron itself. The lighting at the bottom where the water flowed was dark, in the middle, even less light then towards the top a lot brighter, making the exposure range very wide. Even so, I think it worked out ok. A couple of the exposure were 1/4 to 1/2 second, hand held.

Again, this was 6 images, stitched together.

My final vertorama was a lot easier. Just 2 images, but it really adds impact to the photo by showing it in this manner.

Vertoramas can be fun and it can seem like you are shooting in meduim format when you create the final image, at least with the 2 image versions.

This is something I am going to be doing more of and will be offering some tuition on it too!

I have more vertorama images in my Vertoramas Gallery

Free Texture No1

Free Texture No1

As I mentioned and promised recently I am giving away one of my new textures for free and all I ask in return, is for you to like my Facebook page.

Facebook.com/LeeOrchardPhotography

So, my first free texture is this one. It is of view old stonework. The file is a jpg image, 5000px across the long edge @ 300dpi and is profiled to AdobeRGB. Oh and it is a 10mb file.

It is free to download and use as you like for personal and commercial use. If you would like to link back to me via Twitter (@LeoPhotography) Instagram (@LeoPhotographyUK) or Facebook (@LeeOrchardPhotography), that is much appreciated, but not required.


Click the thumbnail to open the file.

Once the image has opened, you can save it to your computer using the save option on right mouse click menu.

Here is an image I have created using it.

I hope you like my first texture giveaway and I hope to see some of your creations using it.