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A bird’s eye view from above a pleasure boat in Salford Quays

A bird’s eye view from above the Princess Katherine in North Bay, between MediaCityUK and The Lowry at Salford Quays. I’ve wanted to shoot a panorama from here for a couple of years, as I’ve captured panos from many of the tall buildings nearby and wondered what it would look like from the water, surrounded by the iconic buildings all around.

Amongst other sights, this view takes in the new BBC buildings, the MediaCity studios, the University of Salford’s MCUK, ITV’s offices (and across the Manchester Ship Canal, the new Coronation Street set), The Lowry and the Imperial War Museum in the North. Just beyond lies Trafford Park, and just out of sight, Manchester United’s famous football stadium at Old Trafford.

This was a bit of a challenge to photograph – a side wind meant the boat was drifting and rotating considerably even in the time it took to shoot this – but I still think it provides a cool perspective on one of the most dynamic parts of Salford and Manchester.

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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Summer’s evening on the beach…

Enjoying a brief Indian summer on a beach at the side of a Pennine reservoir. We started the summer with a heatwave; and despite a lot of rain in the last month, water levels are still significantly lower than they should be, exposing sandy foreshores and hitherto hidden features such as walls and gateposts.

This is Baitings reservoir near Ripponden: I’ve previously photographed this place as I love the sheltered, glassy surface of this stretch of water. This evening was truly glorious though, loved the light, and caught the sun just as it started to dip over the skyline. Shot as a 9 exposure HDR, which captured the full range of the sun’s colour and warmth.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Sundogs over burned moorland

I was out walking with a mate on the tops near home when we saw how first-hand much damage the recent spate of moorland fires had wreaked on the landscape. I know this area fairly well: the conifers in the background were well-grown and obscured the view to the heather beyond. At least that was until the fires took over,  burning and blackening the heath, scrub, and many trees. More were scorched, their needles taking on unworldly hues, and fresh green growth was determinedly poking through the charred earth to make the most of the short summer.

Closer to the camera the pond had retreated into two smaller pools, sapped by the earlier heat of the summer. The cycle of devastation and rebirth painted a vivid picture: I was mesmerised by the colours and decided to shoot an HDR panorama. It was only part-way through we noticed a small spectrum-like flare either side of the sun, flanking it like two shimmering prisms. I’m really pleased to have unintentionally captured this uncommon phenomenon, known as sun dogs or parhelia, caused by sunlight refracting through high, icy cirrus clouds.

Incidentally this was the first pano I finished with HDR Expose, a new app to rival Enfuse and Photomatix which I’ve used for years to tonemap 32-bit images. Still getting to grips with this new tool, I like the more life-like results it allows than some HDR examples you see around the web.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Setting sun over the Giant’s Causeway

Having grown up in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway was the place you’d always take visitors. Internationally recognised, visually impressive, geologically distinctive, culturally neutral: even at the height of the Troubles when other places may’ve been off-limits , the Causeway was the tourist destination. Rightly so: it’s a wonderous and crazy-looking place, with hexagonal columns formed by basalt cooling rapidly. No wonder in the days before we had an understanding of vulcanology the locals believed it was built by the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill: a much more romantic explanation.

Trouble is, it’s (justifiably) extremely popular, and so viewing it without hordes of sightseeing visitors is nigh on impossible, except in publicity photographs. Apart from on a Friday night when there’s a World Cup match on, so most people are either glued to the telly or going out for the night. Result…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bay around the main causeway look as magical. The sea was calm, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the sun slowly dropped towards the horizon, painting the vista with increasing saturated colours. With so few people around we felt like we had the place to ourselves, for which I was incredibly appreciative. Such emptiness made it easier to understand the scale and beauty of the natural features. Truly magical.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.