studiojoslizen

The photography of Alex Baker

Category: Landscape

Fly my drone for the first time

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I bought a Mavic Pro drone the other week. The only problem was that it arrived in the middle of Storm Doris. I had to wait a while before the winds and rain died down but when they did,the sun came out and I headed off into the fields around our house. I was pretty happy with the results:

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Nature’s very own fireworks

2013-Scotland-Highlands-New-Years-97 by Alex Baker Photography star trail

I spent New Year’s Eve (2013/2014) in a very remote part of the Scottish Highlands. The cottage was on a small island connected to the mainland by a floating footbridge. In the absence of fireworks I thought I would let the stars light up the sky.

How was it done?

  1. I made sure I had a sturdy tripod
  2. I made sure I had a fully charged battery
  3. I made sure I had a torch. You may not believe it but it was pitch dark on the night. There were no lights, no moon, just distant specs of light from houses across the bay.
  4. Check the sky for the moon. If you can, try to do this when there is no moon. I was fortunate to have no moon on New Year’s eve. The moon actually produces a lot of light so it’s best to avoid it so the sky has a chance to remain dark and the stars can still be seen.
  5. Trees or hills provide a nice fixed point for the stars to move around so position your camera with something like that in the foreground.
  6. Exact tech details: I used my Nikon D800, shooting in RAW. The lens was a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8. The lens was at 14mm to get the most amount of sky in the frame. Aperture was f8, ISO was 640, and the shutter was left open for  3609sec.
  7. Once I’d locked my camera into position I set  my focus to infinity and then made sure my autofocus switch was off (this ensures the focus doesn’t shift). With focus set to infinity (the stars and beyond!) and an aperture of f8 I had a good chance of having most of the shot in focus.
  8. Since the most time a shutter can stay open is 30sec, I set it to ‘bulb’ and then attached a remote shutter release cord to the front of my camera. This meant I would not disturb the camera by pressing down on the camera button myself. And it meant I ccould lock the shutter to be open for as long as I needed.
  9. It was pretty cold and wet out there so I didn’t want to leave it for longer than an hour since condensation and moisture will build up. Star trails are best taken in high dry areas so you don’t have to worry about moisture. This is why the desert is so popular. Plus the skies are clearer there. I left my shutter open for 3609secs. Which is pretty much an hour.
  10. Despite being pitch dark there was enough ambient light from the houses in the distance to light up the horizon as well as the trees in the foreground.
  11. A little contrast adjustment and colour correction in Photoshop and voila.

Happy new year!

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The air is heavy with a smell like molasses

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The air is heavy with a smell like molasses.

Every year my brother-in-law sets fire to field after field of sugar cane on his farm in Natal, South Africa. It may look chaotic, fun even, but there’s a good reason for doing so. The fire destroys all the dried leaves and other unwanted vegetation which grows up around the cane while leaving the cane itself unharmed. To do it by hand would require a day or more. The fire barely takes 45 minutes.
Did I mention how much fun it was to watch?

Fields of Spring

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It really hasn’t been the best of Springs here in England this year. Rainy, grey, damp and chilly, it’s been pretty crap to be honest. However, last weekend the clouds parted and the warmth returned. On my way back from photographing a 40th birthday party I drove through the rape fields outside Henley-on-Thames. It was dusk, the sun was setting at around 8.30pm. And these photos were the result.

Soon, the monsoon

 

A late September monsoon cloud start its growth over the Gulf of Siam off Koh Tao during our trip to Thailand

Cotswold fields

 

Bridge to the stars

Bridge to the stars

African skies are awesome. It helps that this bridge in Kleinbrak River, South Africa, is  away from the major cities. I set up my camera on a brick wall under the bridge as it was the most stable thing around and I’d forgotten to bring my tripod along. It was a warm summer night which made the waiting for the timer and shutter very pleasant. I left the shutter open for 30secs, the aperture was f8, the ISO 200 and the Nikon ActiveD-Lighting was boosted to high. What I want to do next time is leave the shutter open for five minutes or so to capture the star movements. (Click on the picture for larger image)

There can be only one

There can be only one

Look familiar? A fan of the film Highlander? This is Eilean Donan castle which was used during the movie. I was standing on the banks of the Loch at about seven in the morning on a cold Autumn day. The sun could barley be seen through the clouds. There wasn’t much light but at least no one else was around and so I took the photo.

Now that – that is a landscape

Epic

It just makes you want to sit back, light a fire and pour a whisky. I took this near Glencoe in Scotland on very rainy day.

Every epic landscape should look a little sheepish

Ewe from around here?

Bucolic. It sounds like something nasty which babies suffer from. Instead it refers to the gentle pastoral nature of the countryside. The British landscape is rarely in full sunshine but don’t let the heavy clouds deter you from taking photos, especially in autumn. What does help are sheep. They’re like the clouds of the land. They break up the browns and greens with spots of piercing white. They’re cute, they’re wooly but above all they make my significant other very hungry. The above photo was taken in Keswick which is in the Lake District (Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth country – they ruled as king and queen for a while). Below is on the island of Skye, on the west coast of Scotland. (click on the photos to see them bigger).

Clouds of the land