Swan Lake

Category: Newsletters 24 May 2016

Swan on the lake in Blenheim Park, Oxfordshire, England. Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, 0.5 sec at f32.

The light at dawn was pretty uninspiring. We’d hung around on the banks of the lake for several hours, hoping for a glimmer. In the meantime we grew progressively colder, despite it being mid-May in Oxfordshire, until eventually the pull of hot coffee and breakfast in Woodstock was simply irresistible. But walking back around the eastern fringes of the lake revealed a flock of swans sheltering from the wind, and that was it; we were both squinting through our eyepieces, engrossed, our chill and hunger forgotten.

A one-to-one tuition session with f11 Member Mandy Seligman was well under way in Blenheim Park and we were having good, productive fun, despite the overcast sky. Since our 4am start we’d covered hyperfocal distance, exposure merging, camera settings and panoramas. Now, with the swans drifting in front of us, we swapped lenses so she could try my EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II. I bolted on her 70-200mm, and while Mandy was concentrating on creating art, I stopped down and proceeded to experiment with slow exposures while panning on the stately progress of the swans.

As usual with such shoots, most attempts resulted in just a blurry mess; the swans weren’t exactly rushing anywhere, and achieving a smooth panning action on their erratic movement was not easy. But one image stood out there and then on the camera’s LCD. Now, a few days later, Mandy is back in Philadelphia and I’m looking at my swan. Yet again I’m struck by how, even on an unpromising grey, dull day, there’s still visual potential all around, if we can see it.

Join us here next autumn: Le Bief Sarrazin, Gorge du Lison, Franche-Comté, France. Canon 5D Mk III, 24mm TS-E lens, 1.3 sec at f16.

So, to the latest news: we’ve a new Photo-Explorer Adventure to tempt you next autumn. Join us in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France next autumn, 4–7 November 2016, for a photographic adventure exploring this beautifully rural yet little visited region of rolling fields, wooded valleys, deep limestone gorges, waterfalls, chateaux, vineyards, villages and the rampart-like mountains of Haut-Jura, just when the fall colours should be at their prime. Lying between Burgundy and Alsace, and between Champagne and Switzerland, Franche-Comté is easily accessible from the Low Countries, Germany, the Channel Tunnel or various regional airports, and is possibly the most underrated of all French regions.

Our group of a maximum of nine photographers plus partners, led and tutored by myself and fellow professional photographer Nicolas Logerot, and supported by Wendy Noton, will be exploring the area over 4 days and 3 nights from our base, the Hôtel le Bois Dormant with its peaceful woodland setting and spa facilities near Champagnole. Nicolas, our man with the local knowledge, is a native of the region. I have visited the area a couple of times, so I know well just how beautiful it is in autumn. We’re excited about this new course, so if you’d like to join us, follow the link for full details and bookings. Also watch this space for imminent announcements of our program of courses and photo adventures in 2017.


Vineyards near Château-Chalon, Franche-Comté, France. Canon 5D Mk III, 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II lens at 168mm, 1/5 sec at f16.

This month in the Chasing the Light Online Magazine I kick off with a Field Trial to evaluate the new Canon EOS 1Dx Mk II in Paris. I also start a new series entitled Photo Essentials, which is designed to refresh our basic photo skills – the first instalment begins a detailed exploration of camera settings. I then start a new occasional series, Location Report, this time objectively evaluating Iceland as a photo destination. Meanwhile, in this month’s Low Down I consider how to effectively harness the awe-inspiring Power of Nature in our landscape and travel shots. And I present the usual two Fundamentals of Post-Production Videos.

This month’s Fundamentals of Post-Production Video Tutorial optimises an image from a tricky shoot on the Pont des Arts in Paris.





Elsewhere, the second instalment of the new Editor’s Choice selects my Lao Drive Time shot, which I consider a true example of what travel photography is all about. In Hoddinott’s Hangout, Ross Hoddinott rediscovers polarising filters, reminding us just how useful they really are. In Art of Landscapes we travel with Bas Meelker through Namibia on the adventure of a lifetime, photographing the country’s breath-taking wildlife along the way. And for this month’s edition of The Pipeline, we join Ben Pipe on his recent visit to Seville where he shot this beautiful city and the Semana Santa festivities.

For this edition’s Guest Feature we’re delighted to welcome on board Australian photographer Glen Cowans, as he reveals his passion for underwater photography, along with the approach and techniques he uses to capture the very best images beneath the waves. Finally, the standard of entries to our Your Vision 2016 photographic competition was so high that we decided to dedicate this issue’s Member’s Gallery to six images that were Highly Commended by our Judges, displaying these along with comments from both the Photographers and the Judges.

The cover image of this month’s edition of the Chasing the Light Online Magazine; a bluebell in the woods near Minterne Magna, Dorset, England. Canon 1Dx Mk II, EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II.

As you all know by now, the Chasing the Light Online Magazine is published exclusively for our registered f11 Members who pay a subscription of £39 per year, which also includes the free download of my ebooks, The Composition Tutorials and Light. Stand by for further ebook releases soon. And if you’re still not sure about what f11 Membership is all about, there’s a video explaining it here.

Right now, Dorset and Somerset are looking their verdant best. The bluebells are just about holding on, while the woods are bursting with fresh green growth and wild garlic. It’s a great time to be out behind the lens. In fact, this time of year is often the best in so many destinations it’s difficult to know where to head. Next up we’ll soon be in North Wales to present the Chasing the Light Road Show on 28 May at the Cambrian Photo and Optics Show at Colwyn Bay; details and tickets here. Then in June… No, you’ll hear about that soon enough.

Wild garlic in the woods at Milton Abbas, Dorset, England. Canon Powershot G1x Mk II.

Keep exposing.

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Every month we publish an issue of our unique magazine Chasing the Light exclusively for f11 members. With features from behind the lens and on the road with David Noton it combines stunning photography with David's unique style of writing. Technical features, humorous anecdotes, travel notes, a member's gallery, news and the stories behind the pictures make it an entertaining, informative and inspirational monthly read and information resource for all who love photography and travel. All this for less than the price of a coffee and a biscuit a month. F11 members can also download other exclusive content such as Despatches+ and video blogs for free as they become available.

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