Norfolk Sunflowers

While out for a drive this morning I caught a brief glimpse of this field of sunflowers so I did a u-turn and drove off towards them. After driving along the edge of the field I found a convenient place to park (in an adjacent field - thank goodness for 4WD).

Location: A field just off the A1067 (Norwich to Fakenham Road) near the village of Bintree. See the panoramio map at the bottom of this posting.

Inspiration: all those massive fields of sunflowers I'd passed over the years driving through Spain. Always being on a motorway I found it impossible to stop - but like a fisherman I was philosophical about the 'ones that got away' and promised I'd one day return.

Technique: Once in the field I was a bit dissapointed - the flowers follow the sun, and at that time it was high in the sky and in front of me. All the flower heads were looking away from me with their 'noses' in the air. I really needed to be in the middle of the field with a step ladder (not something I routinely carry in the car). Furthermore it appeared to be a little late in the season with half the flowers hanging their heads, with no petals, and ready to drop their seed. There was no option I had to walk around the field to a spot where most of the flowers were facing me, (fortunately Norfolk fields are nowhere as big as those in Spain). Then it was a matter of walking around, climbing up onto the slightly raised scrubby field edges, getting down low in ditches; all with the aim of trying to find a reasonable composition. Oh yes and just one more problem - it was quite windy. Those heads wouldnt keep still so I had to shoot at about 1/125sec. in order to get a reasonably sharp subject. This also meant a relatively high ISO if I was going to achieve any depth of field.

perched high on a scrubby ditch edge so I could look into their faces....

in a ditch (full of nettles) to capture these three
(auditioning for parts in the 'Flower Pot Men' - blob-a-dob weeeed!)

... Photo of the Day ...

Camera Work: Nikon D80, RAW(12bit), 
Focal Length - 60mm,
Exposure - 1/80sec at F/14 & ISO400,
ColorMode - IIIa,
Sharpening - High,
Tone - Auto,
Saturation - Auto, WhiteBalance - Auto

 original (unprocessed) image
Post Capture: In Capture NX2
Camera Settings: Tone - High Contrast, Saturation - enhanced,
Color Noise Reduction: Intensity - 8%, Sharpness 5(on a scale 0 - 10) to compensate for noise introduced by using ISO 400;
Quick Fix: slight tweek to curves to improve mid tones (to bring out detail in the petals), further increase of 8% to saturation;
Adjustments: straighten the horizon, crop to A3+ for printing, Auto retouch to remove telegraph pole on horizon, High Pass sharpening (4px)

Organised Landscape

close-up version of my 'Photo of the Day' - doesn't quite work

Craster and Dunstanburgh Castle

A poor imitation of Joe Cornish's Cannonball Beach (see inspiration)
Location: The Trail can be inspected and downloaded to GPS from alternatively go to the EveryTrail site at the bottom of this post.

Inspiration: A picture by my favorite landscape photographer Joe Cornish (see: - If I'm honest I would have dearly liked to capture something similar to JC's famous picture - but there was little chance as the weather just wasn't comparable. What makes JC's image is so powerful is the powerful waves.  Hey but it was good to stand in the great man's footsteps.
Instead I chose to concentrate on the southern aspect of the castle (despite the scaffolding - I cant remember a landscape I've visited over the past 5 years - overseas and in the UK - that hasn't been covered in scaffolding /posters/etc.).
Picture of the day:

Dunstanburgh Castle & Rock Pool
I particularly liked this composition because of the layered effect created by:
  1. the foreground rock pool with the reflected clouds - they add a little more interest,
  2. the bordering sandstone boulders which add colour,
  3. the almost black layer of higher level rocks (in cloud shadow),
  4. the green pasture in front of the castle,
  5. the castle, and finally
  6. the almost grey sky.
The layers add depth to the image as well as giving it a little more interest.
Camera Work: Nikon D80 with Polarising Filter, Raw(12-bit), ISO 125, Focal Length: 36mm, Exposure: 1/30sec at F/16, Color Mode IIIa, Sharpening: High
Post Capture: In Capture NX2:
  • adjusted White balance by setting gray point,
  • adjusted Picture Control: Tone Compensation - High, Saturation - enhanced
  • Exposure compensation - (-0.3ev)
  • set Black & White control points
  • reduced brightness (29%) of sky and reflection in pool.
Style: organised landscape
Around Craster at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Community

Holy Island - Retreat!

Location: One of the pleasures of summer when you're no longer a wage slave is the opportunity to browse round our National Landmarks on a weekday when the crowds are thinner. But.........

Beware places like the National Trust's Lindisfarne Castle, where access is restricted by the local tides.
(Click on the picture above - to view large - and see the view is spoilt by the queue of multi coloured 'ants'. At least there is no scaffolding - this time).
The sea falls back and so reveals
A rising tide of automobiles.
Like ants, tourists swamp the causeway
all driving to their holiday.

The car parking bays and meter's fill.
The ice cream seller stuffs his till.
Which way now? There's no need to ask -
Follow the line until at last

The castle appears, on high ground
With ants, queuing all around.
Lots of time, no need to queue
So let's sit and enjoy the view.

The view's blocked, they're all around.
The view's become a feeding ground.
Come on - break the line, find a spot.
If I'm lucky I'll get a shot.

Damn - it's no good - they follow too.
They think I've found a public loo.
So follow the line, follow the rest
To the castle, or is it the nest.

But once inside, there's no fresh air,
Just the damp warm smell of underwear,
Sweaty arms and clammy crotches.
No thoughts here of garrison watches.
Just the musty air of clammy cells
An ants nest, composting, and full of smells.

Bad poetry I know - but it gets the message across.
Despite the stunning views this was a disappointing visit - purely because the sheer volume of visitors made it virtually impossible to get a good shot. Even if you walked off the beaten path it seemed the mindless army took this as a cue to follow. Then having given up altogether on the 'quiet' shot and deciding instead to soak up the history of the castle - which was a military garrison for over 300 years - I was disappointed to find the place had been stripped down to being nothing more than a very cosy cottage. And.... despite the small corridors and rooms the National Trust made no attempt to control the numbers in the cottage at any one time - making the atmosphere inside damp, smelly, devoid of history and almost intolerable. I couldn't get out fast enough.
If you're going to visit plan your timing very carefully!

Camera Work: Nikon D80, Aperture priority, RAW(12-bit), ISO 125 - Auto ISO, 1/30 sec. at F/18, focal length 26mm
Post Capture Processing:
In Capture NX2: Exposure compensation - 1.08 ev to bring out the cloud detail.
In Photoshop CS2: much use of the clone stamp to remove most of the 'ants'.
Style: snapshot - taken very quickly before the 'followers' tramped into view.


© All rights reserved

Search This Blog