clock tower abberley

Great Witley Worcestershire

The weekend had come around again, the weather looked good, lots of sunshine and excellent visibility again.  It was a toss up between Hergest Ridge in Herefordshire or Great Witley in Worcestershire, After much toing and froing  I chose Great Witley.


Great Witley was a lot nearer to my base in Pershore.  I prefer to start my walks early in the morning but this photo walk I wanted to try and catch a sunset so left after midday starting the walk after 1PM.  Problem is this time of year sunsets come late after 8pm.  Its also very difficult for me to remain indoors early when the sun is shining outside.

rapeseed great witley
rapeseed great witley 1/30 sec, F/11, ISO 100, 18mm

I knew this was going to be a good photo walk as soon as I left the car I was presented with spectacular views across a rapeseed field with woodbury hill in the background.  To bring out the white clouds against the blue sky used a polarising filter.

Walsgrove Hill

Not much to see atop of Woodbury hill but the views opened up westward on reaching Walsgrove Hill across the Teme Valley.

teme valley
teme valley 1/10 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 18mm

Getting good shots in the afternoon sun

Graduated Filters

A little hazy in the distance and enough contrast between the ground and sky to warrant the use of a two stop graduated filter.  Seeing the horizon was straight I could employ a hard edge graduated filter.
To determine what strength of filter to employ change your metering to spot and take a reading from the brightest part of the sky and darkest part of the ground that would be included within the frame giving you the dynamic range.  Usually a two stop filter is enough, with experience you know without metering, but be careful to change your meter mode back  to matrix.  Dont overdo the filtering though the ground should always be darker than the sky.

Perils of Polarisation

With the haze and white fluffy clouds I used the polariser too. Having more than one filter in front of your lens is known as filter stacking.  On a wide angle lens the edge of the filters when stacking can begin to show in the frame, a phenomenon known as vignetting.

filter holder
You have to be careful with a polariser on a wide expanse of sky too with a wide angle lens.  You can get dark blobs which is known as blocking.  If dark patches start forming in the sky through the viewfinder then turn the polariser in the opposite direction until they disappear.

Hard to See?  Loupe

In the bright sunshine it can be hard to clearly see what you are doing. On bright days you can take along a loupe to put over the live-view screen to more clearly see what your camera sees.

With more glass in front of the lens the resulting image can be less sharp, less contrast than would be possible in ideal conditions.  But without the filters during this time of day either the land would be underexposed, or the sky overexposed and the clouds would not been well defined.  The alternative is to take multiple exposures and blend in post processing.

With all these filters and a small aperture of F/11 the shutter speed is slow enough to require the use of a tripod even on a bright sunshiny afternoon.

Another challenge with the image above is down in the bottom of the frame to the right was an ugly white tank.  Had to remove this in post processing via the Lightroom cloning tool.

bluebells walsgrove hill
bluebells walsgrove hill 1/10 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 18mm

I was in this position atop of Walsgrove hill for about 1 hour taking many photos from different angles and viewpoints.  From the image above you can see the sky is a bit skewed between the light and dark areas due to too much polarisation.   The sky in this photo was edited in lightroom using the gradient filter tool to try to even out the light and dark areas of the sky.  But love the bluebells in the foreground.

Towards Abberley

From Walsgrove Hill Abberley Hall and its clock tower come into view.  I wanted to return to this position for sunset.  Without the fluffy white clouds a wide expanse of blue sky only can look quite boring.

abberley clock tower
Abberley clock tower 1/8 sec, f/11 ISO 100, 20mm

Just beyond the Abberley clock tower is a deer park to the west.  I liked the scenary  and color contrasts of this shot not realising there was a herd of deer sheltering from the sun under the tree.

Abberley deer park
Abberley deer park 1/15 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 20mm

Difficult to get a shot here with a tripod, due to a ditch and fence by the side of the field.  I unsettled the deers and they started to move.  I had to revert to handheld shots, yet not have the settings right for sharp shots.

llama abberley
llama abberley 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, 200mm

Closing in on Abberley and a friendly farmer had 5 or 6 Llamas in a field that he was breeding for a hobby but hoping to make money out of them in the future.  Not get much opportunity to photograph live models so this llama will do.  I like the bokeh in this llama shot and the fact that I have focused correctly on the eyes.  Llamas are native to south America, Chile mostly during winter the farmer has to supplement their diet with Vitamin D due to lack of sunshine, but plenty of that today.

Stopped off for a pint of Ale in the Manor Arms in Abberley and some peanuts to get my energy back, still had a few miles to walk.  Around 8pm I return to Walsgrove hill to try and catch the sunset.

sunset teme valley
sunset teme valley 1/8 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 60mm

Alot of cloud had moved in now, not the red globe I was hoping for disappearing behind the hills on the horizon.  When you start zooming in or increasing your focal length substantially from say 20mm to 60mm your depth of field gets shorter.  Perhaps the above image would have been better at f/16 or f/22?

Great photo walk though and day out around Great Witley in Worcesteshire.  Now watch the movie!

Great Witley Worcestershire