Sunday, 15 August 2010

I've just finished the Wales Ladies Championship of Europe and, fortunately by way of a change during the week, the sun was out. Conwy Golf Club hosted the tour this week and I decided to do a few trophy shots with the winner, South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace, that would convey the classic links course feel. There was a fair bit of dry grass in the rough so I decided to use this as a foreground as it would complement the dark sky that I wanted. The contrast between the sky and the golden rough was useful as Lee-Anne was wearing all white, which in sunshine, can be challenging to expose properly. I used a polarising filter, a favourite of mine for deep blue skies. I used a 580ex strobe to fill in the shadows under the cap

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Golf in Tenerife.

For me, there are several sides to Tenerife. There is the fish & chip, alcohol and nightclub strip of Los Christianos, the hustle and bustle of Santa Cruz and then there is the National Park, with Mount Teide and its sulphur springs. If all that was not enough, interspersed amongst it all are some pretty decent golf courses. One of my favourites is Buenavista Golf Club which is perched on the eastern side of the Island, about an hour and a half from the southern airport, (the imaginatively titled Tenerife South, TFS for short). Every hole on this golf course has a view of the sea with two built on a promontory that sticks out into the Atlantic. This can make for some fantastic photographs if the weather is on your side, sadly for the week I was there, there was only about 4 hours of really good sunlight and blue skies. I am a real fan of these conditions as you can get some stunning images that would usually mean lugging studio heads about, something I am not too keen on when excess baggage runs at about £15 a kilo!! The other factor is that flash guns are not allowed on the course during a tournament as they distract players so it is nice to have the opportunity to shoot with this kind of backdrop.
I took the shot of England's Melissa Reid (above) using a 1Ds MkII and 70-200mm f2.8 L IS 1/640 f4 ISO 320. Although you lose a bit of light with the circular polarising filter (CPL for short) you can see by the setting on the camera that the light was not that bright but there was enough to freeze the club and movement of the player and provide sufficient depth of field for the subject, (Mel). If I had wanted to freeze the moment of impact, I would have needed a shutter speed well in excess of 1/1000 sec as it was I preferred this shot as you can see the face and the eyes, something you can't do at impact as her head was down and the low peak of the cap blocks most of her face.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Basking Sharks

As soon as I landed at Heathrow from Milan on Monday I received an email from Dr Alex Tattersall who had space on a Charles Hood's boat "Logan." on Wednesday for a Basking Shark trip. The sharks, the second largest fish in the sea, are something that I have wanted to see since I was very small. Even though it called for an early start (4:00 a.m.) and a four hour drive before we even got on the rib, I jumped at the chance. We were pretty lucky with the traffic to Penzance, and met Charles at the quay. A quick wait for the tide to come in and we donned out kit and jumped into the 7.5m RIB and made the 20 minute journey to the first bay where the sharks had been spotted the day before. It was not long until the first fin was spotted. The shark however had no intention of hanging around and was determinedly swimming out to sea. For the next couple of hours we scoured the coastline and sea for signs of the triangular fin sticking out of the water but to no avail. We rounded Land's End and into Sennen Cove when we heard a shout from the bow. A basking shark had breached just 100m from the front of the boat, the resulting splash was enormous. within a few minutes we were in the water with the cameras waiting for the first shots, the shark did a quick fly by then disappeared. Sadly no one managed any shots but at least we had seen another one.
The searching continued, there were some pleasant distractions along the way as we spotted a Sunfish and some seals but what we really wanted were some baskers. Finally we found a fin and then another one, and then another. Charles positioned Logan about 100 yards ahead of he sharks and we all slid quietly into the water and waited. Soon enough the sharks appeared out of the green murk and disappeared as quickly as they came and kept circling us for several minutes.
Charles advised us that the trick with the sharks is to keep fairly still on the surface and let them pass you, if you make too much noise or move too quickly they are off. It is a balance of sticking your head out of the water to locate the dorsal fin and then getting your head down back under water and waiting for the shark to appear.
There were a couple of occasions, just when you think the sharks have gone, one suddenly appears from behind or the side, the first time it happens it is a little unnerving but a great experience.
We spent about 2 -3 hours in the water with sharks towards the end of the day, they weren't always cooperative and we were jumping in and out of the RIB to reposition ourselves as the sharks moved along the coast, which in itself is pretty tiring, especially if you have too much weight on your weight belt!!
I was using my 5D in an Aquatica housing with a Canon 15mm f2.8 fish eye lens and an 8.5" dome port. This was great for getting the whole shark in view but i found myself wanting a bit more zoom. I switched half way through the day to the 17-40mm f4 L and had was able to zoom in a bit but the murky water meant that the only way to get really clear shots is the old underwater adage, get close then get closer!
We drove home via McDonalds and eventually walked through my front door at 12:00 so it was a pretty long day, but it was certainly worth it. I am looking forward to repeating the trip next year.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Landscape Photography

Having spent all day today traveling back from Switzerland, I think the 4am UK time start makes it feel longer than it has been, I needed to get out and stretch the legs so took the camera and tripod to the beach to take a couple of shots. I wanted to smooth out the water on the shore line so used two ND filters and set the camera so that I could get 30 second exposures. I also used a polariser to saturate the colours and reduce the glare on the sea. The above shot is one of the few that I took. I would have liked to stay out longer and get some better colours after the sun set but the early start and busy week abroad has take its toll. :)
Ideally I would like a little more cloud formation in the sky to break it up some more and add interest. In this, web sized, shot it is difficult to see the Needles on the Isle Of Wight in the distance but, trust me, they are there. :)

Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open

Last week took me to Losone in Switzerland. Sadly the Swiss Alps did their worst and the first day of play was cancelled due to a waterlogged course. Day 2 however was very different with sunshine and blue skies, so I managed to get out with the polariser again to capture some of the skies. I also wanted to show the general area with the mountains and scenery. I decided that a stitched panoramic shot would be the best way to do this as it offers more width than a standard landscape shot. I took 5 photographs for the above image, all of which were in shot in portrait rather than landscape. I then did a quick edit in Adobe Lightroom and then stitched them together in Photoshop. The original stitched photo come out at just over 1.2 meters in length and is a whopping 560Mb, so plenty big enough for large printing :)

The tournament itself was won by South African, Lee-Anne Pace, another first time winner on the Ladies European Tour, she took home a watch from Omega, the trophy and a €78,750 cheque.

The next golf tournament for em is Tenerife in a couple of weeks but until then I will be concentrating on some landscape and underwater shots as I have a couple of trips coming up.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Underwater Snoot, Selsey Pier

My first dive at Selsey Pier and I decided to make life hard for myself by trying to use a snoot that I have just obtained. The snoot work was tricky to say the least as the tide was on the flood and the tiny movements made getting the light in the correct spot hard. I think that next time I will use an off camera strobe in a fixed position and shoot form there. The shot on the left is of a small scorpion fish that was lying on the bottom. The viz was about 2 meters so the snoot is an effective way of reducing backscatter in murky waters. It also creates a pleasing black background and really isolates the subject in a beam of light.
I am looking forward to my next underwater trip, hopefully I will be able to see some nudibranchs and try out the micro snoot.

Underwater In Swanage

I have been lucky enough to get a couple of days diving in Swanage and get some good visibility as well. I found my first UK Sea Slug, which doesn't sound that glamourous but I love them :) The one on the left is Flabellina pedata and was about 1.5cm long so I was using a 100mm Macro lens with a canon 500D diopter, 2 Sea & Sea YS110 aplha strobes: 1/200 f16 ISO 200 on a 5D camera.
I managed to meet up with some other keen underwater photographers so a good weekend was had by all. I also managed some deeper dives down to 22m looking for larger aquatic life, sadly the viz was not great so no pics there.

Slovakian Adventure

This was the second event of the year that took me to a country that I hadn't previously visited. The event was about a 4 hour drive from Bratislava and the surrounding area was absolutely stunning. We were up in the mountains and at a golf and ski resort called Tale, (pronounced tali).
We were warned about the danger of the bears and wolves that roam the area, and to be honest, despite the occasional attacks on local people, I was rather hoping to come across some of the animals as one of my passions is wildlife photography.
That aside being in the mountains presented some weather challenges with 3 of the 4 days being disrupted by electrical storms, with one being right overhead. There was intermittent sunshine but Tale is definitely somewhere I would love to return to.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

UniCredit Ladies German Open

Laura Davies, took her second title of the year by winning in Germany. Her earlier win in New Zealand gave her the title of the Oldest Winner on the Ladies European Tour. It was Laura's 74th global victory and she took home the 50,000 Euro winners cheque as well as an Audi A5 convertible.
Sadly, photographically speaking, the weather was not fantastic with rain nearly every day. The prize ceremony was blessed with the only sunshine of the week so I managed t get a "non rainy" shot of Laura with the Audi A5 in the background, a technically easy shot to take, just make sure you stop down enough to obtain the depth of field you need.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Turkish Airlines Ladies Open

This time we managed to avoid the nightmare of the volcanic ash an had a very nice flight out to Turkey on Turkish Airlines. I always find that having a TV screen in the headrest in front of you with 60 films to choose from makes flying a little more bearable. The event took me to the National Golf Club in Belek, Antalya which is a fantastic location for golfers with some superb 5 star al inclusive hotels, which are dangerous if you like a tipple, (just ask some caddies), and equally good resort courses. The national Golf Club is the oldest one in the area, dating back to 1994 so not really that old compared to courses in the UK but considering that 2 of the 13-14 courses in the area are just over a year old, the National is something of a heritage site. The course is tight, tree lined and water comes into play on a majority of the holes so there is plenty to catch the wayward golfer. The greens are also pretty firm meaning that anything but the loftiest of wedges can skid through to the waiting rough or bunker unless your ball striking and spin control is up to speed.
This week turned out to be especially important as Melissa Reid finally recorded her first professional victory. We have all been waiting for a couple of years for Mel to win and 4 second places along with lots of top 10 finishes meant that it was only a matter of time before she won, but she kept us waiting. Anyway, congrats to Melissa, I am sure that this is the first of many wins, and on this form I am sure that she will take her new confidence into next week when we travel to Munich for the Unicredit Ladies German Open Presented by Audi.

VCI European Cup

Congratulations to Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson for winning the Euro Nations Cup. It was a pretty exciting final round with a 3 hole play-off required for Sweden to close the door on the Australian team of Carrie Webb and Karren Lunn.
After the celebrations and the obligatory trip to the bar at the end of a long day, it was time to drive back home, which was the small matter of 1300 miles. Home safely after 2 days of driving, 7 tanks of fuel and another £600 of repairs to the car I was looking forward to a couple of days off.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Day 1 of the VCI European Nations Cup

Drizzle on the first tee didn't dampen the players mood during the first round of the tournament. The Austrian pair of Nicole Gergely and Stefanie Michl took line honours, carding six under par. Their achievement was made all the more remarkable as Stefanie only arrived in Spain from the USA at 12:3o last night and without her clubs and clothes. She was able to compete today by borrowing clothes from Maria Verchenova, a Russian competitor, and by sharing clubs with her team mate. Fortunately, for team Austria, both girls use Titleist clubs and a Scotty Cameron putter. The team format means that, unlike stroke play events, players can share clubs so long as there are no more than 14 in the bag. The good news for the Austrians is that Stefanie's clubs are on their way to Madrid as I write so she should be re-united with them by her tee time tomorrow.
Spain produced a late rally to tie for the lead by birdying the 17 & 18th holes but with eight teams within 2 shots of the lead and three rounds left, everything is still to play for.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

VCI European Cup

The VCI European Nations Cup is one of my favourite events of the year as the promotors always make the effort to launch the event is a spectacular way. This year it was magic shows on stage, glitter and lots of music, along with the obligatory champagne, wine, canapes ad finger food. The new addition to the line up this year was a painting of 'Birdie" the official mascot to the event. Each team had to complete the painting by colouring in their respective flags. Above you we have Gwladys Nocera showing that she could be next in line as one of the great French impressionists. The tournament itself starts tomorrow and comprises 18 teams playing.

VAV's Make their way to Denia for the VCI Euro Nations Cup

With all flights cancelled from the UK there there was only one thing for it.. a Road Trip to the east coast of Spain for the European Nations Cup. Four VAVs (Volcanic Ash Victims), Myself, Bethan Cutler, Media Relations Manager for the Ladies European Tour, Matt Cooper, from Golf 365, and Steve Walsh a professional caddie and friend. I made the 1300 mile, 2 day trip from the New Forest, picking up passengers on the way until I arrived at the Channel Tunnel. The drive itself was not too bad apart from having to stop in Paris to find two new tyres that needed to be replaced as I, thankfully, spotted 2 blisters on the outside wall of the drivers side front. Anyway we eventually made it to Denia and just in time for the Opening ceremony.
Thanks to Matt for the Photo of one of our "Pit Stops" Here you can see Bethan on the fuel, Steve with the squeegee and me cleaning the drivers side window. Sadly we were not as quick as the F1 teams but we did our best :)

Congratulations Anja.

Congratulations to Anja Monke on winning in the Lalla Merryem Cup. Sadly the prize presentation was held a day later to coincide with the Mens European Tour so I only had a shot of Anja with the flowers that she received on the 18th green. A couple of weeks off now before the Ladies are in action again at the VCI European Nations Cup

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Moroccan Adventure.

Today is a first for me, as last night, I travelled to Morocco. I am here for the Lalla Meryem Cup, a Ladies European Tour golf event that is run along side the Men's tour event. The weather certainly makes a change from what we have enjoyed (or not) in the UK so hopefully there will be some nice blue skies and bright colours to shoot. I have only just arrived at the course but had time to walk to the 18th green, which looks like a tough finishing hole as a lake dominates the right hand side of the fairway and runs in front of the green . The sun starts to set here at about 17:30 so I will try and get some shots about then . Info: Canon 1Ds MkII 24-70mm f2.8 L @ 24mm f11 ISO 200 1/250.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Portrait Photography

I have just come back from a family portrait session. These can be great fun especially as I tend to shot at people's home. This makes people feel far more relaxed and if they feel like a break they just go and put the kettle on. It is also great for distracting the little ones as you have their favourite toy at hand to wave above the camera to get their attention :)
I use a combination of Bowens 500W/s mono blocks and reflectors along with a white backcloth for the High Key photography, which has remained popular for the several years now.

Camera wise, I use Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and a 24-70mm F2.8 L lens with a setting of 1/200 f14 ISO 100. THe 24-70mm lens is great for groups like this as the focal length allows you to get both group and individual shots. F14 aperture allows lots of depth of field, which is what I try and achieve on portraits like this. Typically for this type of effect, I like to use a 3 mono block system with the key light as a shoot through umbrella and 2 lights on the background itself which are set a couple of stops brighter than the key light. This setup is easy to transport to most locations that I want to shoot. As most of these are taken indoors there is no need for a power pack but I always take an extension cable with me just in case of a power socket shortage.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Goatfish & Diver Photograph Wins Blue O2 Competition

As you may have read in one of my earlier posts I won a weekly photo competition whilst diving in Egypt. The winners from all the weekly competition were then put into the final and I am really pleased to say that mine was selected by the Judges, Dr. Alex Mustard and James Dawson.
The prize includes a week onboard one of the BlueO2 live aboard boats on an itinerary of my choice .
More info can be found Here.

It will give me a great chance to get some more underwater shots as I did not get as many as I would have liked last trip due to catching the flu whilst I was on the boat :(

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Happy New Year to you all

Hello to all of you and a Happy New Year.
With the golf season on a little break, I get the chance to indulge myself with some wildlife photography. A side project I am working on is getting some photographs together for my local wildlife trust for a book that should be out in a couple of years time. I thought it would be a good idea to get some shots that include the snow that has fallen over the last few days as we don't tend to get a lot of snowfall on the coast.

I shot this Goldfinch on a twig using my 400mm with a 1.4TC to give me 580mm effective length. I used one of my 1D MkIIn cameras as the 1.3 crop sensor allows for a little more magnification as compared to my full frame cameras. Shooting birds
this small I would love to have the canon 600mm f4 as it gives you more reach but patience is the best weapon in the nature photographers armory.

I was stationed in a hide and the birds were being attracted to a bird table laden with nuts and seeds, which I am sure the birds appreciated in these harsh conditions. Talking of harsh conditions, I only managed about an hour and a half sitting in the hide before retreating to the warmth of home.

LET Qualifying School

After a two weeks of rain and snow delays Caroline Masson of Germany won the 2009 qualifying school. The weather, once again, was not conducive to great photography but, none the less it was , as always, a tournament of 2 halves. We had elation from the girls who secured their playing rights for next season and the other side of the coin from those girls who failed to make the cut.
I have a break from professional golf now for a few months so back home for Christmas and New year :)

In-Kyung Kim Wins Dubai Ladies Masters

Korean In-Kyung Kim held on to win the Dubai Ladies Masters by 3 shots. The weather was a little disappointing this year so there was not really the chance to get any of the shots I was after. Still it was nice to get out of the cold winter for a week. :)

The wide fairways and general access to the course meant that I found the 1.4 xTC was a really useful addition to the 400mm lens, especially when trying to achieve the type shot seen in the previous entry.

Next I'm off to La Manga in southern Spain for the final event of the year, golf wise anyway, the Qualifying school for the 2010 season.