PhotoWild! with Shetland Nature Festival

24 July, 2018

 

How would you like to have a great day out around Sumburgh Head while improving your photography at the same time?  Well, you’ve got a great chance with me THIS SATURDAY 28 JULY in association with the Shetland Nature Festival.

From the Nature Festival Programme:
Come on a PhotoWild! workshop with Austin Taylor around Sumburgh Head and take some photographs you’ll treasure. By the end of the day you’ll know how to control exposure, how to focus for better effect, how to create landscapes you’ll be proud of and learn to work with fast moving subjects. Suitable for all including beginners and all types of Digital Cameras are welcome. However, you’ll get the most out of the day with a Digital SLR, a Bridge or a Mirrorless camera.

A few more details:
Lunch and entry to Sumburgh Lighthouse Visitor Centre included
The plan for the day is to meet in the café for half an hour quick refresher of camera controls and then drive to Sumburgh Hotel.  From there we will make our way along the west coast taking in spectacular views of the Lighthouse and coastline along the way; we will get to the café for lunch, probably not around 1 PM. We will then spend some time photographing the birds around the RSPB Reserve and visiting the lighthouse exhibits. Depending on the weather and group’s wishes we could then either continue back to the vehicle(s) at Sumburgh Hotel via the east coast route over Compass Head or simply stay around the lighthouse and the Reserve, practising our photography on the many subjects there.  If the weather is initially unfavourable we could instead spend time around the Visitor Centre until it improves and then walk either coast.  Going all the way round would give the most variety but would probably cut out the indoor stuff.

For more details about what to bring, please visit this page: http://www.austintaylorphotography.com/what-to-bring.html

For more details about all my photo workshops, visit this page: http://www.austintaylorphotography.com/photo-training.html

To Book PhotoWild! at Sumburgh Head, please go to the Little Box Office/sat

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Total Lunar Eclipse of 28 July 2018 (estimated)

23 July, 2018

This Friday, 27 July 2018 we have a chance to see a Total Lunar Eclipse though, from Lerwick the event will be more than half over before the Moon even rises here. Add to that the fact that the Sun sets after the Moon rises and it will be a real challenge to view or image the phenomenon in Shetland at all! Our best chance will be towards the end of totality about half way through the “blue hour” (the hour after sunset). Below are the timings for those that wish to try to see the so called “blood moon”.

All timings are for Lerwick in British Summer Time (BST). To convert to Universal Time (UT), also known as GMT, deduct 1 hour.

(Total Eclipse begins 20:30)
(Maximum Eclipse 21:21)

Moonrise 21:39
(Sunset 21:49)
Total Eclipse ends 22:13
Partial Eclipse ends 23:19
Penumbral Eclipse ends 00:28 (28/7/2018)

Excitingly, Mars lies 5° below the Moon, unfortunately rising (at 22:51 BST) sometime after totality ends, while Saturn lies roughly 31° west of the Moon, having risen at 19:58 BST. But you’ll need clear skies fairly close to the horizon as Mars only rises to about 4° at its highest point.

Here’s a photo I took of the total lunar eclipse of 21 December 2010 that may give an idea of what the Moon might look like if the sky is clear. But it may not even be this visible.

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Highland Challenge – Result!

11 April, 2017

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I’m a member of Islesburgh Photographic Club (and Facebook page ) and the Club enters a number of competitions with other clubs up and down the country throughout the year, having 2- and 3-way contests with them. Islesburgh usually does quite well, occasionally winning, which is a measure of the talent among the members. Once a year we enter 10 images into the Highland Challenge, which is a major battle involving 9 clubs across the Highlands and Islands and the judging took place a couple of weeks ago. Islesburgh came second, which is a great achievement and up from 3rd-equal last year and 6th the previous year – steady progress!

Last year I was very pleased to be overall winner of the Highland Challenge with my image of aurora at Wadbister, which you can see here. That was very satisfying, especially the Ffordes (FB) gift voucher that accompanied the trophy! That image took a lot of effort, both in the capture (I took it about 3 AM, having waited for just the right amount of pre-dawn light) and in the processing (it’s quite a complex stitched panorama). However, this year I won first prize in the Monochrome Digital Image section with this image of Hazel. This was particularly satisfying for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s black and white and I don’t often do black and white portraits, though it’s a style I very much like. Secondly, I was very much intending the finished image to be square right from the time I initially set it up and am pleased with the final composition. The light, Hazel’s expression and stance and all the other details that make the image work are all key elements of the image but there’s an element of luck in that the catch-light in the hair just caught on a stray breeze at exactly the right moment. Finally, this is one of my favourite images and, unlike some others which I really like but will be replaced by newer favourites, I think this will remain one of my favourites for a long time, mainly because I still think “wow, I created that stunning image of Hazel” every time I see it.

And here’s me receiving my trophy and certificate from Sidney, of Islesburgh Photographic Club… 🙂
https://www.facebook.com/IslesburghPhotographicClub/photos/a.222857797826556.43677.219533081492361/1166067316838928/?type=3&theater

Hogmany at Mareel

2 February, 2017

Just a (rather belated!) post of some photos from the Hogmanay event at Mareel. From early evening on New Year’s Eve through to the early hours of New Year’s Day local band Fiddler’s Bid led a wide range of talented artistes in a musical extravaganza that was as good a Hogmany party as I’ve been to in many a year. It was something new for Shetland and really made the most of this fantastic venue – everyone I’ve spoken to since has said what a great time it was. I know many folk were disappointed at not being there, in fact many were kicking themselves at not having bought tickets!

There was also music in the 1920s-themed cafe-bar while the venue’s two cinema screens played classic American concert films. We had a brilliant time and I’d like to say a big thanks to all the performers, staff at Mareel and sound & lighting crew who all put in such a tremendous effort. A truly great spree to kick off 2017!

Milky Way at St Ninian’s tombolo and over Ireland, Shetland

4 October, 2016
I thought I’d missed the best chance to photograph the Milky Way on Sunday night, which had been exceptionally clear and wind free, whereas Monday evening had turned cloudy and there was a strong wind. But later on the sky cleared for about an hour so I thought I’d try my luck. So I headed out to St Ninian’s, which I thought would provide a nice environment for the photos. These are both composite images; one vertical, one horizontal. I was lucky with both images; for the first one I was surprised by a car that happened to drive down the track shining its light over the tombolo. Initially I was a little put out, with my darkness all gone just as I was about to take the first photo of the composition. But then I saw the beauty of the whole tombolo lit up just for a few moments, long enough for me to take the first image, creating an amazing illuminated foreground. The image with the aurora and Milky Way was quite lucky too – the aurora had been good in Shetland for the past few days but it wasn’t expected this night. However, as I was taking my photos looking south, I kept checking to the north and could see a faint glow developing; then the aurora brightened, just long enough to create the second image. http://bit.ly/1lzUb8j

Total Lunar Eclipse of a Supermoon!

28 September, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse just after the start of totality, about 0315 this morning. Also being called a “blood Moon”, because of the colour, and a “supermoon”, due to it being closer to Earth than for most other full Moons. Seeing conditions were poor in Shetland, with cloud obscuring most of the event, apart from some time just before and just after the start of totality. 10 minutes after I took this photo it was obscured again. Because of the cloud it was quite dim and much of the detail of the Moon’s surface is lost but it was still a great sight to see.

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Aurora for August!

16 August, 2015

I had been watching all the spaceweather prediction sites for some time, knowing that Aurora season often starts in August and, sure enough, activity was forecast – but it arrived a day early and, unfortunately, during daytime in this part of the world. Nevertheless, I remained hopeful that it would still be active after darkness fell – and that the skies would clear of the heavy rain and thick cloud, as forecast. Well, the clouds cleared nicely but the aurora returned to low levels. So I waited and watched and in the hour before midnight things picked up a little.

Eventually I could see the aurora in town with my own eyes so I decided to go out of town for a better view. It wasn’t a very strong display but the colours were very nice and I managed to get some nice photos with the pre-dawn glow and the developing blue in the sky too. Here’s a panorama I created just before dawn, as I was packing up at Wadbister.

I had plenty of company during my time here – I could hear several seals breathing as they swam past and even saw and heard an otter clearly eating something only about 30 metres away in the sea; it looked like it was on its back, but it was too dim to be sure. The Milky Way was amazingly clear as well and there were a few meteors about too, all in all, an amazing night to be out watching the sky!

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Autumn Birds day

9 September, 2014

I can hardly believe that it’s 4½ years since the last time I went on a birding day out with Paul Harvey from the Shetland Biological Records Centre – I thought it was just a year or two ago! With Paul was Rory Tallack (one of the Rangers) and a group of about a dozen folk keen to see and learn more about autumn birds in Shetland.

Well this past Sunday was an awful day of rain and wind, quite a contrast to the day before, which had been glorious and warm sunshine all day. So our hopes were not that high and we set out generally looking for larger birds and those less likely to “hide” in such poor weather. We weren’t disappointed though and saw a good number of bird species – about the same as is usually seen on these courses that are generally held a couple of times a year. That we saw so many species is down to Paul’s ability to see and identify birds when most of the rest of us can hardly even see through the rain on the minibus windows.

So, unlike the post from 4½ years ago, the photos in this post are very poor and I’m just posting a few record shots of some of the more unusual species we saw. In fact, most of these are firsts for me, including the Kestrel which isn’t common in Shetland and, whilst I’ve seen it many times on the UK mainland, I don’t recall ever seeing one in Shetland before. So, given these are mostly new to me it was such a shame the rain prevented any decent photos, but I think it’s still worth posting them, not least to show the good work of the Shetland Biological Records Centre in running these courses.

You’ll see a couple of photos are not birds – we were very lucky to see a pod of 20+ porpoises at Scousburgh and they were very active, allowing good views.

Stuck for something to do at the weekend in Shetland? Not sure I believe you.

21 May, 2013

Just a quick round up of what I got up to at the weekend!  First, I got an exclusive preview of the Artisan Academy Exhibition of selected work of 3rd year Shetland College students of contemporary textiles at the Böd of Gremista. And by “exclusive”, I mean just me – before the other press or the private view. That was a good thing though because the Böd is so small that with the crowds expected at the opening, photographing the exhibits would have been difficult. I shall post more photos of the exhibition later.

I went back on the Saturday for the official opening to invited guests and snapped a few more photographs, mostly of the artists and guests, as you can see below.

Later on that evening I went along to an absorbing talk at the Shetland Museum entitled “From Kennemerland to Mary Rose” by Christopher Dobbs. Fantastic stuff for anyone interested in maritime archaeology and underwater finds, divers, historians and anyone just interested in the maritime history of Shetland and elsewhere. Dobbs also gave a fascinating account of the raising and restoration of the Mary Rose in the Solent, including giving the audience an insight into the new Mary Rose museum, due to open to the public on 31 May. The Shetland Museum was packed with more folk than had ever attended one of these lectures and some extra chairs and the stairs had to be used to accommodate everyone!

Sunday morning and I had a quick whizz round the boat show – not that I’m a boaty sort of person, but all those bright colours and beautiful shapes are highly attractive to a photographer! I was particularly taken with some of the older boats, including the 19th century Ann, but also a number of “Shetland model” boats outside dating to the early 20th century and with their history and owners listed.

For more info on the Ann see here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.517678974945272.1073741828.381349481911556&type=1

Sunday turned out to be a bit misty in town but we were headed west and, once over into Tresta it turned out to be the best day of the year so far – we took in the sun (me behind factor 30!) and admired the local scenes, wildlife and kayakers. Coming back, the last photo clearly shows that the misty low cloud was still at the same point that we had left it 5 hours earlier.

DSC_7661Jack Hardy alongside a painting of him and Claire Saunders Smith by Jennifer Hutchison

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Government legalises copyright theft of yours and my photographs

30 April, 2013

This legislation means that photographers and illustrators alike will see their artworks legally taken and used for another’s own gain. Perhaps by the likes of big companies who can well afford to pay. Perhaps in ways or by companies that you would not be happy with.

Professional photographer? This will hit your income.
Amateur photographer? Want to see your photos advertising some new product?

Why does all this matter? Well, you own the copyright to every photo you create but as soon as you post it online or send it to anyone by email, there’s a good chance it will become separated from any information that identifies you as the copyright owner. At this point it becomes know as an orphan work and The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 says it can be used by anyone, for free, so long as they can show they looked for the owner. How likely are they to find you among all the billions of images posted every day?

There’s a great blog post with more details here:
http://photothisandthat.co.uk/2013/04/29/is-the-uk-government-trying-to-kill-of-photographers/

You can sign the petition here:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49422

You should write to your MP:
http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp/
http://www.writetothem.com/?keyword=write%20to%20your%20mp&creativeid=605235399&gclid=COGRzrnH87YCFdDJtAodsxgAjw

DO IT NOW! The Act has received Royal Assent but Regulations still need to be made.

Not in the UK? It applies to you too!