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Bluebells in the woods: springtime comes to Hardcastle Crags

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

After the short, grey days of winter, springtime percolates slowly through Calderdale, injecting life and colour into the valley once again. Muted monotones turn into verdant hues, flowers and buds appear, and the hills echo to the sounds of bleating lambs and birdsong.

This year it feels as if spring’s come later than ever: the wild garlic is still here, coexisting alongside bluebells and daffodils almost a month later than when I shot this panorama last year. It all feels a bit messed up, and I can hear hailstones hitting the windowpanes outside as I write this. So when there’s a window of good weather, it’s worth taking advantage… such as when I caught the setting sun light up this

Hardcastle Crags is an oasis of calm for me, an outpost of tranquillity and a place to escape the hectic nature of working life. It’s by no means an unspoilt landscape, but despite hundreds of years of man’s influence it’s a treasure trove of flora and fauna, and a great place to explore.

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III, shaved Sigma 10mm f2.8 fisheye lens, Nodal Ninja RS-1, Promote Remote Control. 10 exposures, 1.7EV apart; HDR tonemapped with Photomatix Pro & HDR Efex 2.

 

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

I first shot the bluebells in the Crags during my first spring in the valley, back in 2007 as I was just starting to embrace panoramic photography. It was the first panorama I shot bracketed in RAW… 3x exposures of 39 views. I stitched three separate panoramas (one for each exposure) overnight using the long-departed Realviz Stitcher. Seems an eon ago.  Six years, and thousands of panoramas later, it was great to revisit the theme once more, applying more rigorous technical and artistic experience to the subject.

It’s prompted me to dig out the original RAWs from 2007 and restitch this scene, which you can view above. It’s by no means perfect, but it acts as a good comparison to this year’s version. And you can never have too many bluebells on on page…

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 400D, Canon 18-55mm, Panosaurus head. 3 exposures, 2EV apart; HDR tonemapped with Photomatix Pro

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee beacon on Stoodley Pike near Todmorden

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser. Select the icon on the beacon itself to toggle between a lit and unlit scene. Enjoy the view!

It’s been an especially long weekend in the UK, with two extra days holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and it seems as if most of the country’s taken it to heart as an excuse for an extended party. Me too, but the crowning glory for me was seeing our local Jubilee beacon lit at dusk on the hills above Todmorden.

I only found out by chance on the day that the nearest Jubilee beacon would be at Stoodley Pike, a favourite vantage point overlooking the Calder Valley. As I read the details a couple of hours before it was due to be lit, there was a slight drizzle outside, so I was unsure if I’d be rewarded with a spectacular view if I climbed up to the monument.

However by 8pm the evening sun was glorious – a perfect example of the photographer’s golden hour  – and I decided it’d be well worth a drive and climb to capture a couple of my 360° panoramas as the beacon was set alight. I’d already had a busy day in Todmorden, photographing the Pollination Parade, and thought it’d be perfect to round everything with a bit of exercise and a stunning view over the South Pennines.

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La chapelle du Saint Eutrope, near Andabre, Languedoc

The only way to get to this French mountain chapel is on foot… a steep climb along some increasingly hairy paths through chestnut forests and over bare rock. And, despite us setting off in late afternoon, it was well over 30°c. As the photographer, I was paying for my art – carrying camera and kit, compared to the water bottles being clutched by everyone else – so I was doubly relieved to climb the final set of steps over the final false peak, and collapse on the stone flagging by the building.

Inside, the chapel was delightfully cool, well maintained and calm. I snapped a trio of HDR panoramas as we enjoyed the view of the hills around us being lit up by the golden evening light; the still warm air suffused with the smell of herbs and hot earth. Well worth the climb to enjoy this kind of view…

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Setting sun, rising stars… an HDR timelapse over Manchester

This dramatic timelapse was commissioned as part of the highlights video production for the recent Manchester International Festival. We’ve been working on extremely high-resolution timelapse footage for many years, specialising in capturing the subtleties and richness which conventional techniques cannot do justice to.

Working with long-term film partners Toasted Productions, Anti Limited shot this piece across the Manchester skyline, which you can watch as part of the MIF 2011 highlights film on the link below.

I’m pleased to announce it’s also been chosen to be incorporated into a regular broadcast feature on the digital ‘Community Channel’ in the UK, starting in November 2011. This, alongside some of Anti Limited’s other cutting-edge high dynamic range timelapse material, will feature in the credits for ‘UK360’, a news programme covering the whole country. Obviously we’re more than happy to be helping to represent the North West!

Special thanks to MIF for allowing this piece to be licensed by the non-for-profit Media Trust, so it will be seen by an even wider audience.

England’s highest beach

Two spring evenings at Gaddings Dam, on Langfield Moor above Todmorden. I’d previously shot a couple of panoramas up here in worse weather, but warmer spring evenings have been tempting me out to enjoy the hills again recently.

This expanse of water reflects the great bowl of the sky above, and these photos capture those hazy ephemeral moments as the sun drops out of sight towards the Irish Sea in the west on two evenings. Pity it doesn’t capture the sounds of curlews and other birds breaking the silence. Gaddings Beach, or Tod beach as it’s also affectionately refered to, is sometimes called ‘England’s highest beach’ and is a great spot for enjoying the summer sun, far from the madding crowds of the valley.

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!