While contracting in Tewkesbury come lunchtimes I usually go for a 2.5 km walk around the industrial estate, just to get some exercise, fresh air and natural light weather permitting. Nothing to take nice photos of there though.
If it is raining I still need a break from the office, so one lunchtime I was studying google maps to determine what might be of interest nearby from a walking photography point of view.
The area around Teddington and Oxenton looked interesting. Google maps shows a nice big green patch which must be the edge of the Cotswold. I drove to Teddington to do some scouting and was surprised to find an ancient church below a steep group of hills. I drove around and located a few parking spots one near St Nicolas church of Teddington as well as some public footpaths leading into the hills. I knew this area around Oxenton was a place I wanted to return one weekend and walk and photograph. I first needed to study the Ordnance survey map around the pinnacle which is known as Oxenton Hill.
The contour lines clearly showed Oxenton Hill was steep in places upto 223 meters, this detailed information is not present on google maps. Footpaths clearly took a circular route from and back to Teddington but not clear if the peaks of the hills were accessible to the public, only one way to find out.
The weather this weekend was a mixed bag, mostly cloudy and windy only a small chance of some rain. If the sun breaks through in such conditions can give way to some unique lighting opportunities known as transient lighting. The day before had done a small walk around Pirton in Worcestershire in similar conditions so was prepared.
From Teddington village followed the footpath up the hill pass Teddington grove and through some pastures with friendly horses and even a fenced in Lama. Off the beaten track climbed up the south side of Oxenton hill and managed to snap a panoramic photo or two of Teddington Village with the south facing Bredon Hill behind.
Pretty standard landscape photography settings, tripod F11 with a 2 stop graduated ND filter for the brighter sky above Bredon hill with the St Nicolas Church as the focal point, although in this instance it not really stand out. Nothing in the foreground to add interest. The sun was high and behind me highlighting(front lighting) the village houses below. At a different position and attempting to include some foreground interest I had to be careful not to include my own shadow.
Following the footpath and track around the west side of Oxenton Hill through some woodland where you then get some panoramic views of the vale across to the whole stretch of the Malvern Hills.
For the photos over Teddington village I had used my 18mm-200mm canon zoom lens. I had initially attached this lens as walking up Oxenton hill there would be many opportunities to take hand held shots of whatever presented itself. At such a wide angle should have taken some with my canon 24mm prime lens. So this shot of the full stretch of the Malverns I switched lens. The sun had disappeared behind thick clouds so the light was now diffused.
Further round Oxenton hill it was not long before I wanted to switch back to my 18-200 mm zoom lens, mostly to focus in on Oxenton church and some horses grazing in a field under what is known as Crane Hill.
Managed to find a location could take a wide angle shot of Oxenton church as the focal point and the Malverns across the vale as the backdrop. The rickety fence acts as a good horizontal leading line into the view. Still had attached my trustly 18mm-200mm canon lens for this shot, was not going to keep changing lens in the field now.
Following the path around Crane hill the vistas really open up with the wow factor where you can see Cheltenham and Cleeve hill south west. On the top of Crane hill are the earthwork remains of what was one an iron age fortress, good location. North west its more views of the Malverns through some knarled old trees atop of Crane hill.
The photo of the lone old knarled tree atop of Crane hill with Malverns stretching out across the vale as the backdrop multiple exposures were taken. 3 in total 2 stops apart -2 to +2. The intention was to post process these 3 separate images later as HDR in Lightroom.
The reason being with the lone tree breaking the skyline a graduated filter would have left the top of the tree to dark and incorrectly exposed. Whenever the skyline is broken like the above lone tree atop crane hill best to take multiple exposures. An alternative is to take two exposures, one correctly exposed for the sky another for the land and then use exposure blending in Photoshop. I just find HDR easier and semi-automatic.
Following the path round to Crane Hill farm, it can get a little confusing but checking the Ordnance survey map you need to walk through the farm to rejoin the footpath the other end. A jolly old farmer passed me and I asked if OK to climb to the top of Oxenton hill, in a deep west country accent he told me it was private farmland but OK for me to walk around as long as I closed any gates etc. It really gets remote here on Oxenton hill, well off the beaten track for casual walkers. Its the first walk I have done that I have constructed myself. The Ordnance survey non premium routes do include this walk though if you want to follow a marked out track.
You have to cross some fields where there are warnings of bulls grazing especially from June onwards. Its a big field though and the cows were far away. Personally I do not like crossing fields with cows and bulls with all the steroids they feed them with these days they can get aggressive and feel threatened by your presence, especially if they have young and you have a dog. Be aware that over 70 people have been killed by cows in the last 15 years. Interesting Oxenton Hill gets its name as the hill was originally used as a pasture for oxen.
Rapeseed Bredon Hill
Making it back onto the road leading into Teddington and some blue sky was showing and the sun was breaking though the scattered white clouds. I could not help but notice a field of Rapeseed disappearing into Bredon hill to the north east. I had to enter this private farmland to take a photo.
The rapeseed field below Bredon hill was a somewhat difficult exposure as wanted to use a 2 stop ND filter on the sky as well as a polariser but the tips of the yellow Rapeseed flowers were brighter, although not register at the time. Would have got maybe a better exposure with HDR and multiple exposures, problem then is the rapeseed was blowing in the wind. You can see some motion blur which is intentional with the single exposure. For blending multiple exposures do not want any motion blur.
St Nicolas Church Teddington
Back into the village of Teddington and I took a path pointing to the church where my car was parked. It was a great angle on the ancient 12 century St Nicolas church. With the sun shining on the church from behind me so took some handheld shots around F 5.6 auto ISO which I think must be my lens sweet spot.
I was knackered a good 6 mile walk but including some steep ascents and descents as well as alot of bending, stretching and kneeling setting the camera at the right angle atop of the tripod. I only take water with me on these walks as its a chance to fast, burn off some excess calories and take a break from caffeine. If there is a pub nearby can be tempted, but was looking forward to some well deserved hot coffee and a fried egg sandwich back home and processing over a 100 photos in Lightroom.