London Calling

From previous posts on here, and if you follow me on facebook, twitter or anywhere else you’ll probably know that I’m Welsh.  I don’t live in Wales, however.  Last year I decided to push forward on a few fronts and move to Engerland, so here I am half an hour from Central London.

One of the biggest things I miss about Wales is the scenery;  in particular the Brecon Beacons and the Gower Peninsula.  I’ll be posting loads of images from the Gower over time, and I produced a calendar for 2015 but just a limited number which have all been sold or given away.  There’s not a massive amount of Brecon photos but enough to keep the eye pleased.

So, there are no beaches around here and no fancy hills, mountains or waterfalls but there’s still plenty to capture.  Actually there is so much that I’m slightly lost.

The key to photography is to plan ahead.  That’s also the key to enjoying London!  You could head East and find some incredible street art and graffiti, as well as some of the best food in the capital.  A slight trip North takes you to Camden, absolutely buzzing with all walks of life, as well as some of the best food in the capital.  Alternatively there’s the touristy beehive hotspots along the Thames like Southbank, Tate Modern, Tower of London and The Shard, and just a few steps away from the Thames Path is Borough Market in Southwark, which has some of the best food in the capital.

Today’s photo blog post is all about the tourist trail, but I’ve tried to capture something a little different from the snapshots that every visitor to London has on instagram, or in a photo album if you’re over 35.

First up then is the Palace of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower that houses Big Ben.  The shot below was achieved using a 10 stop neutral density filter.  Lee do them, but I’m too tight to buy them so it’s Haida for me.  If you’re looking for one check it out on ebay.  The slim one.

big ben

Palace of Westminster and Elizabeth Tower

The weather was pretty rubbish and it wasn’t deterring the big crowds so I moved out from here pretty sharpish and headed further down stream to the Tower of London.

The amazing Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is going to feature in another blog post, but I spent about 20 minutes there before moving down towards Wapping where I continued the experiment with the neutral density filter.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge and Shard Long Exposure from Wapping

The one above was about a 2 minute exposure which means the camera has to be absolutely still on a very expensive tripod.  Failing that just balance it on a bench like I clearly did.  To get the shot below I just used the railings.

Shard and Tower Bridge

The Shard and Tower Bridge in London

The light was dropping by this point and I guess it must have been close to sunset.  Like I said earlier, it’s all about the planning, and you have to know where the light will be, and more importantly where it won’t be at certain times of the day.  Tower Bridge at sunset… that had to be planned.  I hadn’t planned that the cloud would be there but hey ho.

So night caught up soon and those clouds decided to dump their load.  As long as it’s not baltic I’m usually in shorts and a hoodie.  Waterproof jacket?  Nah.  When the heavens open I get soaked, but I also dry off quickly too.  The next shot was taken in the rain and I did my best to stop the rain drops hitting the lens but one or 2 are still visible.  I still think it’s a great shot, this time of St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Paul

St Paul’s Cathedral in the rain

Not many places to shelter on this side of the river so a quick run across Millennium Bridge took me to a FAIRLY dry spot underneath the bridge.  I say fairly, but no it was pretty horrendous there too.  I did manage to get this cool snap of the top of St Pauls Cathedral.  The only way to shelter the camera from the rain was to hover over it.  Decent result again though!

St Pauls Cathedral

The top dome of St Pauls Cathedral

By this point it was time to call it a day, and really time to dry out.  There were more images taken through the day and if you’d like to see them please visit my page on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography and check out a selection of my images for sale at my etsy shop – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DanDavidsonFineArt?ref=hdr_shop_menu

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Happy St Dwynwen’s Day!

It’s the 25th January today and as a Welshman that means it’s Valentine’s Day!  None of that 14th February nonsense for me!

The story of Dwynwen, who is actually not recognised as an official Saint anymore, goes way back to the 5th Century and depending on which account you believe tells the story of the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog.  King Brychan had 24 daughters so one assumes he was quite the hottie and didn’t have a lot of spare time.  Dwynwen was apparently the hottest of the bunch.   Think Kim Kardashian.

Dwynwen fell in love with a guy named Maelon Dafodrill but luck wasn’t on her side as Dwynwen’s father had already arranged her to marry someone else.  She prayed and asked for God’s help, which prompted the arrival of an angel that night.   The angel appears to have been more of a genie as the angel (let’s assume the voice of Robin Williams for this bit) gave Dwynwen a magic potion and three wishes.   The potion was formulated to help Dwynwen forget Maelon, and turned him in to a block of ice.  This was a bit harsh so the first of her three wishes was used to thaw the ice.  Secondly she wished that God would meet the needs of all lovers, and her final request was that she should never marry.   We will now assume she became a crazy cat lady.

Let’s fast forward to 2015 and go to Llandwynn, near Anglesey.  The remains of Dwynwen’s church and a magical well can still be found there today.  It’s said that the fish in the well can predict succesful relationships!  Fish active in the well at the time of a visit means that they believe the husband is and will be faithful.  If they aren’t active…. well you know.

I think it’s a great story that not many people know about, but I realise that this is a photo blog.  Having never visited North Wales please accept an image of the Gower Peninsula instead, featuring the rock at Cefn Bryn.  If you’ve enjoyed this little tale, check out the story behind Cefn Bryn.

Cefn Bryn

Cefn Bryn

No fog on the tyne

I’m digging in to the archives here, going back to 2012 and 2013 when I spent some time in Newcastle Upon Tyne with the day job.

As I type, my fingers are freezing cold.  I think it is about -2 degrees outside which is roughly the same temperature felt on the Quayside late in the evenings to capture some of these shots.  The Quayside in Newcastle is the area just on the edge of the city centre sitting along the bank of the River Tyne, and although it’s not a huge area there is plenty to see and do.  I think I counted no less than 7 bridges in half a mile although someone may correct me on that fact.  The centerpiece of all of this though has to be the Tyne Bridge.  I would imagine that there isn’t a photographer in the North East who doesn’t have at least 100 images of this structure somewhere on their hard drive, so I tried my very best to do something different.

tyne bridge

Tyne Bridge at sunset with lots of colour

The image above was taken later in the afternoon as the sun had disappeared behind cloud on the horizon.  A touch of fancy processing really brought out the colours in the sky as well as the bridge itself.   The red swing bridge can also be seen below the Tyne Bridge.

So, having taken a shot from directly in front of the bridge, in this case it was taken from the middle of the Millennium Bridge further down stream, it was then time to find another angle and this meant a few steps more across the river to Gateshead.

tyne bridge gateshead sage

The Tyne Bridge seen from the Gateshead Sage arts building

The Sage Gateshead is a fantastic looking building on the bank of the River Tyne, but no time to stop as there were more interesting angles to find yet!

If you keep following this blog or have seen my photos elsewhere on the net you’ll know that a favourite style of photography for me is long exposure at night.  That usually means city scenes and car light trails, so of course it was time to climb up to the Tyne Bridge for a new shot.  It must have been rush hour by now so there was no end to the traffic passing me.  Time to position up and get low on the pavement before waiting for the right vehicle to pass.  Buses rarely fail to provide plenty of light streams.

Tyne Bridge at night

Light trails on the Tyne Bridge

The shot above isn’t perfect, but the best photos shouldn’t be perfect.  Perfect means following the rules, and rules are boring!

I’ve saved my favourite until last, and having been in front of, to the side of, and on top of the Tyne Bridge it was now time to get back over to Newcastle and get below.  Dean Street is the street that drops you down from Newcastle city centre to the Quayside Close and I took up position at the very bottom outside the Redhouse pub, a boozer with tons of history!  The Tyne Bridge was now above me and the sky was considerably darker.  There’s not as much activity in the area as there used to be, but I knew a taxi wouldn’t be far away and I wanted more light trails.

tyne bridge

Street lights below Tyne Bridge

I hadn’t planned to catch all of the traffic lights, but it happened and I think the result is great!

Newcastle is very cold in the Winter so that was enough images for one evening.  Time to head back to the hotel for some ice cream!

If you’d like to see more images of Newcastle and the North East of England check out my facebook page or google me.  All images are for sale as prints or canvas.  Best rates if you message me directly of course.

Baby, baby, baby ohhhhhhh

Let’s start with the shortest, least inventive sales pitch:

I PHOTOGRAPH NEWBORNS!  BOOK ME!

But seriously, do.  Kids are great to work with as they tend to not follow direction, and refuse to do whatever you want them to do, but with newborns they don’t have quite so many options.  A well fed newborn is a dream to work with as they just sleep with little or no fuss!

Towards the end of 2014 I took a few shots of baby Maliyah, a friend’s beautiful granddaughter.  I don’t have a studio as the unnatural environment, indoors, with lights and fake backgrounds doesn’t really appeal to me.  Working outdoors with urban or rural scenery and the challenges of natural light is more my bag.  For this shoot we clearly needed to use somewhere warm so made a makeshift studio at my house using various blankets, towels, natural light through the window boosted by a single softbox, and we threw in some props for good use – soft toys, fairy lights, a suitcase and a basket.

Maliyah was awake and smiling at the mysterious fuzzy shapes and sounds in the room, and waving and kicking, for the whole 2 hours that we were shooting, so I didn’t get very many of the “typical” newborn shots where you see baby curled up and sleeping.  Still got some great results, and here are a few examples.

3aa 810x8aa

newborn shoot

Maliyah wrapped up

Willen Lake Peace Pagoda

Well the weather hasn’t been fantastic recently but I managed to spend half an hour at the Buddhist Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake in Milton Keynes last weekend.  It was pretty cold so no one was hanging around for long but my ears have experienced colder bites so some decent shots were captured.

Peace Pagoda MK

Peace Pagoda Milton Keynes

If you’ve never been to Willen Lake it is undoubtedly one of the prettier areas of Milton Keynes, away from the rest of the concrete jungle.  The lake is split in 2 – the South lake used for watersports, the North lake being more tranquil and home to the Buddhist Temple and Peace Pagoda, as well as a lot of wildlife.

Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake

Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake

Fancy some history?  Yeah you do, it might help in a pub quiz if nothing else..

The Peace Pagoda was built in 1979/1980 by Matsuura Yoshijke, taking over a year to complete.  It’s made mostly of concrete, as is most of the Buckinghamshire town, and is home to a gold painted statue of Buddha.  If you approach the pagoda from the lakeside or from the Buddist Temple next door you will pass 2 concrete lions at the top of the first flight of steps, and another 2 guard lions at the foot of the pagoda steps.

Concrete lions at the Peace Pagoda MK

Concrete lions at the Peace Pagoda MK

Enough rambling, I hope you’ve enjoyed these snaps of Nipponzan Myohoji.

If visiting, look for signs to the Peace Pagoda Car Park on V10 Brickhill Street.

Thanks for reading!

Dan Davidson off of Dan Davidson Photography

Shard and Tower Bridge

Welcome to my new photography blog

I’ll keep this short and sweet but this blog is my new plan for 2015 to document everything that I do in the world of photography.  It isn’t exactly “new year, new me” but I have lots of plans for this year and it would be nice to keep a record for myself as well as being able to share with everyone who has internetses.

2014 was a really great year as I decided to put less focus on landscapes and give portrait work more attention.  There were plenty of challenges and lots of new things to learn, so expect to see some of that featuring on the blog in the near future too.

Be sure to check back in soon with your feet up, a cup of tea and some decent biscuits, and enjoy the images and my attempt at writing words on a page!

See you soon

Dan Davidson off of Dan Davidson Photography