Angle Shades

On Sunday evening as I went into our kitchen I disturbed a moth - it surprised me by flying repeatedly at my head and face before landing on the surface nearby. If it had been in conversation with other visitors to our house it would know that being photographed is obligatory. It has evolved to look like a leaf and folds its wings along its body. A friendly looking moth - Angle Shades. Some other portraits can be found here.

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Good to meet

Saturday evening saw me photographing the stage exploits of the Dave Strider Band. Originally formed to release an album they now perform for charitable purposes such as for ex-forces members suffering from PTSD. An impressive performance led to two encores!


Latest and earliest

This photograph was the first one that I felt was a proper photograph. I had returned alone to the location and found that I needed to go out further from dry land and cross a completely empty beach. The sense of isolation was intense. Plover Scar Lighthouse was unnerving in the growing dusk and quiet. Overhead the clouds were rapidly changing and the sun was suddenly hidden by a ribbon of cloud. I was uncomfortably aware that where I was setting up my tripod was many feet below the surface at high tide.

Many months later I have returned to this photograph to edit it to try to get it feeling right - it had always been too dark before. So this latest edition has found its place in the latest gallery.

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Of course the jpeg file here on the website or on Instagram is not as rich or detailed as the original, but I keep looking at this photograph, in either form. Even after all the time since I took it, the atmosphere is very expectant.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday, not so very early in the morning, we headed towards Milnthorpe and then west to Arnside, with a diversion to see the force higher up the Kent. Nearby we saw a pig, a sow in fact, enjoying lying in the warm shade, keeping an eye on the world. I made a panorama of the viaduct - it does not quite fit on the view in the Latest page. The view in the other direction I posted on Instagram. Happy Easter!


Sometimes as I have been wondering who or what I should turn my photographic attention to next I have pointed my lens at my own face. This has also served as a useful bit of practice before meeting someone else for a shot. In the shot I have shown below I am wearing my hat, useful for all sorts of reasons, not least to keep the glare of bright skies or the sun from my eyes. My glasses have been put aside, although I almost always wear them, except when asleep in bed.

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More than flattered!

When Naomi Philp contacted me to ask me about posting her work “Wait” I was amazed because she had drawn inspiration from my work. I had photographed from Silverdale Cove just after sunset, and Naomi has used colours for the inks from my photography in her own process to produce her work. Follow through and like her work on Instagram. Naomi is an artist living and working in Somerset, UK. Check out her really great work on her website.

Bird watching

Since I wrote about a dynamic way of using my lens to photograph the moving swan I have in fact been using a quite different technique. Looking for something the birds are interested in - food always a good one and using a tripod, focusing nearby with a fast shutter (1000th +). Then watch and take many pictures. Here are three from today’s pleasant time.

One thousand and counting ...

I am pleased gratified and still quite surprised to find I have more than a thousand followers on my Instagram. Most of this has happened in the last month or so and I have become a bit of an instajunkie checking to see how many likes and comments have popped up on my phone. In fact I turned the notifications off my screen etc because the psychology was definitely working on me and I was starting to look every time one appeared and I had other things to do! There were a couple of key ‘breakthroughs’ when I finally understood how the different pages and tabs worked. Interesting stats come from the ‘Insights’ section and I think these will help with moving me into business mode and selling my work. The most popular post is of the Great Egret. In fact I think that I have some very useful specialised knowledge that a number of businesses could use!

I have found that I have been drawn to produce much more black and white work when posting for Instagram, but I have not yet worked out why, although I have been impressed by some of the high quality photography on show.

I have also been reviewing my work and trying to discern what’s happening. The image below from last August is very different from recent work. I think this would definitely get #moodygram

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How to photograph a charging cob

It took me some time to work out what needed to be done to photograph birds in flight. Searching that phrase on the web pulled up some useful information which sank into my brain after a while. When I first tried to photograph flying birds with a 70-300mm zoom on a Nikon D7000 I was not very successful. Many shots were blurred, empty or half-filled frames. I would like to blame the camera or the lens, but really it was my poorly practiced skills. 300mm on a crop sensor is equivalent to 450mm, so not a bad reach.

There are some easy parts of the equation to change eg start with slower-flying big birds, rather than fast flying small ones. The technical part is getting your camera set up properly - I now have my settings memorised in a preset, so I can easily switch to bird in flight mode! The part which requires most patience is trying to point your camera and lens at the bird you are trying to photograph. Again there are many opinions out there on the net, but most often I hold my camera and lens in my hands (with my strap round my neck) and shoot. Based on observation of the bird I have some idea which way it is going to go and I move with it. It is not unusual to have several hundred shots or more on my card after 15 minutes when trying birds in flight, only a small number of these are worth more than a glance! There can also be longish periods of time just watching and waiting (and waiting …) for an exciting event. Another important step is that you have to be in a place where the bird you want to photograph likes to be!

Some settings: I am assuming that you are working with a DSLR camera.

f5 - f6.3, autofocus continuous (AF-C) on a Nikon or AI servo on a Canon, shutter speed needs to be up at 1000th of a second or more to freeze motion and your ISO needs to be high to get the correct exposure. My camera allows an auto-ISO where you can specify maximum sensitivity and minimum shutter speed. I usually have the metering centre-weighted because that’s where I hope the bird will be in the frame!! Using this group of settings I then look through my view finder keeping my other eye open for the birds. I let the auto ISO deal with the exposure, while I use back button focusing and continuous high speed shutter release. I tend to shoot at no more than 90 degrees to the Sun. Choose a good safe spot to stand, because it does get very engaging at times. Swans can weigh over 10kg and fly at over 20 mph and I have had one coming straight at me.

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Still questing

When I took some photographs of the Ribble on a misty day, looking downstream I didn’t realise that this would lead to a sequence. As I thought about the photographs and how I felt about the photograph I had made I began to form the idea of photographing each of the rivers feeding Morecambe Bay. The Lune and the Wyre have proved reasonably straightforward, however I have repeatedly tried the Kent and need to try again to show this estuary and river.

Instagram Account

I have been building up my Instagram account to complement my website and have been posting a number of photographs there. Have a look @simon.lensnorth on Instagram, or you can click on the link at the foot of each page. Most of them have appeared already on my website. I have displayed a foray into architectural photography. I spent some time under the M6 motorway photograping the underside of a new bridge.

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Preston city centre has drawn me there too. I photographed the Jacson Street side of the Harris Museum. I have also posted a further photograph from the city centre.

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The Lune

A visit to Glasson Dock and walking upriver along the Lune allowed me to see this magnificient view of the Lakeland fells covered in snow

In a field on the way to Cockersands, there was a very large flock of Whooper swans.

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How did I arrive at this?

When 2017 began I never imagined that I would have spent time in hospital recovering from a heart attack by the end of the year. So here I am now in 2019 with some big decisions and my old job behind me. A new start doing something I have been fascinated by as long as I can remember. I love walking and this together with photography is a good recipe for a healthier life I hope

Current - a view downstream of the Ribble as the tide rapidly rises

Current - a view downstream of the Ribble as the tide rapidly rises

Beautiful mist

There was the odd strange look as I was walking along the lane from one or two dog walkers to take these photographs; I suppose that most people would not expect photography on such a dull looking day. In fact I had been looking forward to seeing mist so that I could get that sense of depth from the tones in the image. Trees I had seen so many times, now transformed into a delicate near silhouette.

Some surprising therapists

There are quite a number of people who deserve my thanks for helping with my recovery. They probably didn’t realise what they were doing, but they got me out and walking and photoing when I wouldn’t have done otherwise and they got me thinking about my camera and what it can do and renewed my enthusiasm. I don’t want you to misunderstand me here; without my family and friends and a great team of doctors and specialists of one kind or another I would have been stuck. This is a different online group of photographers who really kept my spirits up.

There isn’t a particular order here and there are probably others whose ‘tip of the week’ has made me think. Nevertheless here goes …

Nigel Danson has a very informative vlog which also shows great drone work to say nothing of his photography.

Stuart McGlennon has a great website and huge enthusiasm, as well as success in many competitions and publications

Dave Fieldhouse has a great set of photographs which have inspired me to get out on many an occasion. His photographs have also had great success in competitions

Another great favourite is the work of Rachael Talibart. Her ‘Sirens’ work is justly famous, but I also very much enjoy her more abstract work, such as ‘Traces’.

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How did the idea for the name of the website originate? A conversation with my son, who said he thought a name would help me carve out an online identity. Hopefully the name would let people know where my interest and the focus of my work lay. However, it did stop me in my tracks as I had previously thought that I would use my name as my website name. Other people thought it was a good idea too. After various non-starters because they were already taken or way too expensive - eg northhawk or northlight, I started thinking a bit more laterally, but thankfully ruled out northernduck at an early stage.