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Wakehurst Place Revisited by Alpha Whiskey Photography

Not to waste a sunny day we ventured down to Wakehurst Place again, a splendidly vibrant botanical garden with a diverse range of plant species from around the globe. We had hoped to see the elusive kingfishers in the Loder Valley Nature Reserve but alas we were not as lucky as our previous visit. Still, there were plenty of other floral and botanical delights to enjoy in the gardens and were happily ambled our way through them. My images here are probably not as good as the ones I accrued on my previous visit but I wished to enjoy the day without being a slave to the photography. Infidelity to my usual micro-four thirds format again, these were all shot with a Nikon DSLR (as indeed were the images from my previous visit here). 

South Iceland In Black And White by Alpha Whiskey Photography

One of the more obvious ways of rendering images from inclement weather is to make them black and white. The glass is always half full with me so despite the relentless persecution by the weather I considered myself fortunate that I had seen these sites before (in better weather) and wasn't too disappointed to get a soaking. It thus didn't take me long to navigate through the mist from place to place, starting at Vik and ending at the hidden waterfall near Seljalandfoss. The black sand beaches at Vik and Reynisfyara made monochrome conversions easy, of course, and for the waterfalls at Skogafoss and Kvernufoss I used a long (1-2second) exposure to blur the water. 

View From CN Tower by Alpha Whiskey Photography

If you enjoy seeing vast city skylines from above then I suppose you could do worse than visiting the top of CN Tower in Toronto, probably the tallest structure in Canada. I timed my visit to be there before sunset so that I could enjoy the changing light through to dusk and beyond.It was a trifle challenging shooting through the glass but a good polariser helped out on my lenses. The best light came at dusk with its cobalt blue but unfortunately didn't last very long. Since the colour and lights of a city skyline appeal to me most I have processed these with that in mind, even rendering a slight pop-art look to some of the images.All shot hand-held with the Olympus E-M5.

A Walk In The Woods by Alpha Whiskey Photography

It was more about the walk than the photography, to be honest. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a breezy and bright Sunday afternoon.But I still took my camera along in order to prove that even in the most ordinary of environments interesting compositions and lighting can be found, from the canopy above and right down to the ground.Our host, Epping Forest, allowed the overhead sun to provide shadows, backlighting and pockets of lit trees and leaves. The tree trunks themselves provide... 
directional lines, guiding the eye into their upper echelons and creating a sense of height and scale. Their branches, when not taking on fantastical shapes, create frame edges and pervade the canopy with a dendritic, arterial scaffolding.Individual details are just as representative as grand scale, with bluebells, dandelions and ladybirds all gracefully posing for portraits. With the primes lenses I was using (35mm and 50mm) getting close enough meant some elaborate contortions but shooting wide open helped to blur the backgrounds and isolate the subject. I decided on this occasion to commit infidelity to my usual mirrorless system and shot everything with a DSLR, and without a touchscreen to help preclude crouching for low angles. Still, it's good to be kept on one's toes every now and then and remind oneself that ultimately the most important gear you can use is the trifecta of your brain, eyes and legs.

365 Project - April Highlights by Sandra5

I ended March with the idea of making a bucket list and decided to use the next month for illustrating items on it. But I lost focus so that didn't quite worked out. The idea remains for some next photo project.The times were turbulent and the weather was nice so there were things to photograph around town. I made a small step into photojournalism, although it is not really visible in this collection. The concept I had at the beginning of the month disappeared as I started to work on... 
something and again it was a challenge to have a photo every day. It was not so hard as it was during the winter since the weather was nice and there are all sorts of things to see around town. But I didn't have the control I wanted to have. And while this month didn't have that big step forward I wanted to make, I did manage to approach some subjects in a way I never did before. We'll see how that is going to develop in May.

Butterfly Conservatory by Alpha Whiskey Photography

I decided to kill some time here during my visit to Niagara Falls, having a bit of a soft spot for butterflies. Much like the aquarium it tapped into my inner child's sense of wonder; I still find it extraordinary that these have metamorphosised from caterpillars. Coupled to that their colours and lighting made them a good photographic subject, lending themselves to isolated portraits.A fairly typical butterfly conservatory, there was no shortage of species fluttering about and it was an... 
enjoyable, albeit brief, diversion. With some species on the decline in the wild I imagine it is evermore important for places like this to safeguard their continued existence.All shot with the Olympus E-M5 and either the 60mm F/2.8 or the 40-150mm F/2.8 with 1.4xTC attached, the zoom providing as much background separation as the excellent macro lens. 

Towering Toronto by Alpha Whiskey Photography

Well, maybe not all of it was towering but it was still a jungle of steel and glass, a testament to human endeavour and achievement to which I would often look up and casually snap while walking through it. Photographing buildings and architecture, especially the grand structures of an urban metropolis, is an easy photographic subject, in the sense that they offer plenty of leading lines and geometry to furnish one's compositions. After a while you just disconnect from the actual building... 
and focus on the structure and the angles, rendering the images a little more abstract and (hopefully!) more creative than simply documenting individual buildings.  Well, Toronto provided no end of subject matter to play with and from the ground the perspective upwards was truly impressive. These are all shot with the Olympus E-M5 and mostly with 12-40mm F/2.8. A couple were taken with the Samyang 7.5mm F/3.5 fisheye and with the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8. Having the flip-out touchscreen on the E-M5 made composing the shots easy without suffering the neck cramps or vertigo of constantly looking up. 

Svartifoss And Beyond by Alpha Whiskey Photography

So I still have some shots from my Iceland trip to rifle through. It was a pretty long 8 days. These are mainly from in and around, and after, the Skaftafell National Park in the south.I mainly wanted to capture the Svartifoss waterfalls, bracketed by dark lava columns, but hadn't realised it was a bit of an uphill trek to get there. Nevertheless, I persevered and found some other picturesque waterfalls en route. Views from the hillside were also rather special, and would have been more so... 
but for the descending cloud. Later in the day, as the light waned, I looked for the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. As is inevitable in Iceland, I stopped en route to capture yet another scenic waterfall and set of rapids. By the time I had found the canyon darkness had all but set in so it took some manual focusing and long exposures to bring them out into the light. Everything was shot with the Olympus E-M5 and mainly the 12-40mm F/2.8.

Capturing The Toronto Skyline by Alpha Whiskey Photography

Ok, so I know there's a lot of shots of the skyline here and it goes without saying that I was somewhat enamoured, not just with the skyline itself, but also with the experience of shooting it. These shots are intended to show the beauty of the skyline over the course of the 75 minutes I spent shooting it, in changing light and positions. Reflections in the water and the colour of the sky varied over the course of that time owing to both the stillness of the water, the presence of mist and... 
the changing light through twilight to dusk. My original plan was to shoot it from Polson Street but at the last minute I changed my mind and took a ferry to the Toronto Islands. I timed my arrival to be before sunset so that I would have the time to set up and get the shots I wanted. I found myself completely alone on the shore of one of the smaller islands; just myself and my tripod and camera. The solitude and silence, but for the water lapping at the shore, was a truly serene experience. Before sunset there was too much light for a long exposure so I attached a 10 stop ND grad filter to my lens. This enabled me to use a slower shutter speed without resorting to too narrow an aperture where diffraction would kick in. I also set the ISO to the default 200. As the light waned I removed the filter and was still able to use slower shutter speeds. The cloud cover precluded either a rich sunset or my preferred cobalt blue dusk but there emerged instead a pleasing fusion of magenta and pink clouds against the bluish dusk sky. I was soon able to resort to using the LIVE TIME feature on my Olympus, a great way of seeing the exposure progress and enabling one to stop it at any time. The Anit-Shock feature (1 second delay) was also engaged to prevent movement from depression of the shutter button. My preference when shooting city lights is always to err on the side of slight over exposure, just to catch a little more dazzle. Highlights can always be toned down in post. In the water in front of me was bench (I didn't put it there!) that I used in a few shots as a focal point in the composition, particularly to slow the movement of water around it and achieve a more ethereal look. Eventually the dusk blue surrendered to the black of night, although the city lights in the skyline still created a haze of red and yellow colour around them.Some images were taken from the ferry and also from Casa Loma but most were shot from the islands. These were all shot with either the Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 or 40-150mm F/2.8 on the EM-5 body. Some of the images may seem a little bright and colourful but to me the beauty of a skyline is in its vivid colour and light against the sky. And my postcard style always calls for a little 'pop'. 

Postcards From Snowdonia by Alpha Whiskey Photography

Well, not really postcards since the inclement weather didn't allow for the most picturesque shots but I did what I could in the brief time that I drove around this spectacular part of the country. Visiting friends was my primary objective during the Easter weekend and with that accomplished I decided to navigate my way through Snowdonia National Park, an understandably popular and stunning part of Wales. Having lived in Wales for a time it is a beloved second home to me and after they put... 
Alpha Whiskey out to pasture (not long now) I hope they sprinkle my ashes liberally over this magnificent land of the red dragon. Thus this excursion was really about the photos but to soak in, enjoy and experience the environment. My friend Natalia accompanied me and we started our journey with a stay at the grand Castle Deudraeth next to the colourful town of Portmeirion. A vibrant, if slightly surreal place Portmeirion as designed and built by Sir Clough William-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. A walk through the surrounding woods and along the beach treated us to some pleasing views.The following day, besieged with rain and mist, Natalia suggested we do what any sensible person would do in those conditions; hike up a mountain. After wandering through the Mawddwy valley we found ourselves at the foot of Cadair Idris. The late Sir George Mallory (who died on Mount Everest) said that the best reason to climb a mountain is because it is there. And while Cadair Idris is no Everest it was only courteous to accept her invitation to ascend her steep, stepped incline into the dense shroud of mist above. Our hike rewarded us with waterfalls rushing down through her wooded aspect until we finally reached Llyn Cau, the canopy of mist nestled within her crater just floating up in time for our arrival. Some food and rest later we picked the coastal town of Criccieth to see at dusk, with its beach leading the eye to her castle ruins atop a hill.The last day time was on a budget so we judiciously picked a few scenic views to take in. A quick stop at the small village of Beddgelert was a prelude to a drive though Snowdonia, viewing Llyn Gwynant from the mountain side before finding the beautiful Swallow Falls by the side of the road. Speaking of roads, Wales has the best I've experienced  this side of the Isle Of Man and it was a real pleasure to drive along her undulating hills and valleys, often completely alone for miles on end but for the ubiquitous sheep. In many ways, with it numerous waterfalls and glacial valleys and lakes, it reminded me of Iceland. We finally made our way to Llyn Padarn, our satnav taking us on a rather agricultural route through skeletal tracks but offering up some terrific viewpoints. Before the obligatory sunset shot over the lake we stopped at the eerie Vivian Quarry, now an apparent training facility for divers. It was, of course, wonderful seeing and reminiscing with old friends and as ever I am grateful for their warmth, hospitality and love. I am also extremely grateful to the group of drivers in customised racers who stopped to pull Alpha Whiskey's car out of a hole. Without their miraculous help I would probably sill be there now. Well, I hope these images offer a fleeting glimpse of this wonderful place and prove that one doesn't need to travel far to see great beauty on this planet. I hope to revisit Snowdonia again with more time to capture more of it. All images processed to my taste and shot with Olympus gear. 

Introducing SlickPic's Exhibit

Your Portfolio

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