Royal Tunbridge Wells – sounds regal

I travelled to the town of Tunbridge Wells in the county of Kent UK, or to give it its full title Royal Tunbridge Wells, after King Edward VII granted the town its regal title in 1909, due to popularity with the royal family over the years.

The town has some very fine buildings dating back to the early 17th century when the discovery of the spring opened its Spa waters at the Chalybeate Spring, hence the name wells.

Chalybeate Spring

The Chalybeate Spring – Tunbridge Wells

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Eridge Railway Station

Eridge railway station in the county of East Sussex in England is located on the branch line from Uckfield. This line serves a fairly rural community as it winds its way through the county of East Sussex before sneaking into Kent and then joining the East Grinstead line at Oxted in Surrey.

Eridge Station Platform

The heritage platform side

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Red matching top

This was a planned trip to London to explore the city and capture some architecture, leaving home the sky looked quite promising with some light cloud. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas, on arrival the sky was dull grey and overcast, with no moving clouds, and pretty uninteresting. I am not a fan of flat dull sky, although great for macro photography, not great for the pictures that I had planned.

Posing for a photo by a red telephone box.

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Sony HX60 a good travel compact camera?

Just got hold of a Sony HX60 as I thought it would maybe make a good compact camera for carrying with me as an alternative to the RX100 MkII. Although I love the RX100 I just sometimes need a bit extra reach when I am out and about on a walk, and don’t want to carry the Olympus E-M1 and a couple of lenses. I remember back in the days of film cameras carrying a large bag of equipment especially on trips to France and Italy, how did I manage that weight I will never know.

So what does the HX60 give me against all of my other camera gear, well to start with a zoom lens that covers the 35mm equivalent of 24-722mm, that’s a 30x zoom lens in a very small package. Unfortunately, the lens is not very bright, with an f-stop of only 3.5 at the wide end, and 6.3 at the telephoto end. The other key point is no RAW capture, not that is a major issue, it’s just that I would prefer that to Jpeg only.

So how did it perform, well not that bad really, I used it with the FDA-EV1M electronic viewfinder that I use with the RX100 MkII, as I feel it gives the camera a bit more stability, especially on the telephoto end. I would also add that I used the lowest ISO setting of 80 where possible to get the best out of the camera, as I would expect that raising the ISO would result in increasing the luminance noise.

To test the camera I walked to Buxted Park not far from my home in the county of East Sussex in the UK.

Dragonfly

A Dragonfly laying eggs in the water @493mm focal length

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Sussex by the sea

Here in the UK, we have been having a mini heatwave, well temperatures in the upper 20’s for a few days. So I thought it would be a good time to visit my nearest city Brighton, on the Sussex coast and have a wander along the seafront.

The first place I like to visit when I go to Brighton is the West Pier, it is now slowly crumbling into the sea, after every storm you see another section missing.

West Pier Brighton UK

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A Photo Walk around Winnie the Pooh’s Ashdown Forest

This walk was around Ashdown Forest, a place that was home to the author A. A. Milne who wrote the story of Winnie the Pooh. The Ashdown Forest is situated in the Weald of Sussex with the main London to Eastbourne Road (A22) cutting right through it.

My journey started from Gills Lap car park, situated just off the B2026 road that runs between Hartfield and Fairwarp. I have visited the forest all of my life and can always recall an Ice cream van was parked in this car park every time I was here, it’s funny how you remember the small things. Today though no van, probably due to it being a Thursday, and not a lot of customers from the dog walkers.

Leaving the car park heading north towards the memorial plaque for A. A. Milne and EH Shepherd, turning west toward the Lone Pine.

The Lone Pine

The Lone Pine

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Adobe Photoshop finally seeing more use

As I said in an earlier post I am an Adobe CC subscriber, and use Lightroom Classic CC as my main photo editor. I have played around with Lightroom CC, however it doesn’t have the full suite of tools that are in the Classic version, although I have found the cloud sync useful. I expect that gradually it will catch up with Classic over time as I assume that is the direction that Adobe eventually wants to take us.

Now Adobe Photoshop is a product that I am slowly using more and more for my image editing, to date I mainly used it with the full suite of Nik plugins, that I purchased well before Google got their hands on them.

After having watched a lot of videos on YouTube over the last 6 months or so, I am now getting into Luminosity Masking, so much so that I decide to invest in one of the many Panels that are now available to purchase. My research eventually came down to two contenders, and after much deliberation, I finally picked Lumenzia which is developed by Greg Benz.

I have been using it now for a few weeks and I am delighted with the results that I am seeing from my images. I realize that all of the functions of the panel can be performed in Photoshop without it, but it saves the need to spend hours learning the procedures to achieve the final outcome. So, all in all, I am very happy with the tool and what I can do with it, in much the same way as when I started to use the Nik Plugins.

The blending of bracketed multiple exposures is something that I have performed for a long time, using either HDR Efex Pro or merge to HDR in Lightroom or Photoshop, with some mixed results, some pleasing while others have been ghastly. Now exposure blending in layers in Photoshop has so far given me a much more realistic output that I am very pleased with. The image below was blended from two exposures in Photoshop using Luminosity Masking and contrast added using the Pro Contrast in Nix Color Efex Pro 4, with a little vignette added in Camera RAW.

Olympus EM-1 12-40mm F2.8

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Been busy moving house

The last three months have been fairly busy as we have just moved house, so most of my time has been consumed with this, either planning, organizing, fitting, fixing or decorating. Although there is still a bit to complete, I thought it was about time that I set aside a day for a bit of exercise, exploring and photography.

I decided to take in a walk around the town of Uckfield in East Sussex, the walk would be in both the town and surrounding countryside.

It started from the Eastbourne Road near the Highlands Inn pub, which incidentally always seems busy especially at the weekend. Heading south-east along the Eastbourne road to pick up a footpath that now runs through two housing developments, one fairly recent while the other built back in the mid 90’s.

Woodland Path

Woodland Path Ridgewood Uckfield East Sussex

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A day out in the capital London

I do enjoy a day out with the camera, so a trip to the capital city was the plan, with a view to walking along the northern bank of the river Thames towards the Palace of Westminster, better known as the houses of parliament. From there crossing Westminster bridge and walking along the Southbank to the Millennium Bridge, back over the river to St Pauls and then down to Tower bridge and finally back to Blackfriars. That should take up most of the day allowing for a few stops for photos.

The journey started with a train ride to Blackfriars station, on arrival I decided to have a bite to eat saving some space in my bag for my jacket, that I certainly didn’t need. It wasn’t a gourmet feast just a roll and a packet of crisps followed by a couple of wine gums.

The walk down to Westminster was fairly quick, the reason being that I drunk too much water on the train up and was desperate for the toilet. I would have used the toilets at Blackfriars, but it was just my luck that they were out of order, so I had to wait until reaching Waterloo (oh how appropriate). At least they didn’t charge unlike at Blackfriars where they charge you 30 pence, the problem is I can remember when it was a penny, hence the saying “spend a penny”.

Just after Waterloo station, I saw Princess Anne being driven in a car that was escorted by several Police outriders and two other vehicles, she was probably only going down to the supermarket 😉.

I crossed the river via Westminster bridge hoping to capture a long exposure shot of the Parliament buildings, only to find they had the builders in with lots of scaffolding up. I do now recall a news article about the work required on the crumbling building, so I just took a quick shot with the camera phone instead.

The Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster Lumia 930 4.46mm @F2.4 1/1200 sec ISO 64

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Along the coast from Shoreham to Brighton

The majority of the images you will see in this post will be long exposures using the Olympus Live Bulb feature, with a combination of Lee Filters Seven5 Neutral Density (Big and Little Stopper), sometimes with a Polariser and or Graduated filter.

The start of this walk involves public transport by train, so a change at Brighton boarding an ageing diesel train on the line out to Worthing. So the plan was to get off at Shoreham and walk around Shoreham harbour, well that failed as I turned the wrong way and ended up on the wrong side of the water. I couldn’t be bothered to walk the mile or so back to start again so carried on, maybe that will have to wait for another day.

The path takes you across the harbour to a sluice gate, arriving at the beach I found that the wind was certainly turning the blades of the wind turbines.

Wind turbines

Olympus EM-1 17mm @F11 4.0 sec ISO 200

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