2014 Captured

Ridiculously belatedly, I know – glaciers have moved faster – I’ve finally pulled together a gallery of images from 2014! Post processing your images take forever – or so it seems – but notwithstanding it’s always worth reviewing your work. Not least, it’s worth asking what works and why and what doesn’t work and why and pulling together a gallery of images is one way of doing just that.

1402_DSC_5417In my round-up for 2013 I said that I’d shot some 7,500 images totalling 263 GB of space and that had trumped my efforts in previous years. Well, 2014 blew those figs clean out of the water; c.13,500 images shot consuming c.454 GB of disk – nearly twice my previous max! Quantity isn’t, nor has it, nor will it ever be a measure of artistic value or quality but – to coin a phase – the more I practice the better my images get – arguably! As an aside it also shows that myself and most other photogs have data handling issues equivalent to companies many times the size of our businesses. Quite literally, digi photogs are awash in data.

Photographically, 2014 was an extremely interesting and different year to those that went before it. I continued to shoot climbing images – as I figure I always well. The bulk of these however were in the Peak District – only a single overseas trip to Riglos being the sole exception. Cycling shots were up for sure – hardly surprising given that La Grand Depart happened on the doorstep. A week-long summer trip facilitated some UK surfing shots but the big newbie in my portfolio was trail running. Vertebrate Publishing were in the final stages of a trail running guidebook for the Peak District and our paths collided. By the time the guide went to print in the autumn I’d shot images on trails all over the White and Dark Peak. As you’ll see, trail running is well represented in the gallery accompanying this post – though more of that anon.

2014 kicked off with some spectacular dawn light on Merseyside. The New Brighton Lighthouse, formally known as Perch Rock Lighthouse, is a favourite1412_DSC01725 of mine and a few thousand other photogs as well! Originally constructed in 1827, the current lighthouse ceased operation in 1973.Since then it has been maintained by the Kingham family. Reports of Northern Light activity flooded the media in the second week of January – so much so that I donned suitable attire and jointed the throngs of night revellers at Stanage for whatever meagre glimpse we might get of said NL spectacular. In the end, most folks bailed an hour or so past mid-night with so much as seeing anything other than car headlights and a light-polluted (admittedly) clear night!

The main event in February was F-BO14 – an open bouldering comp at The Foundry. It produced some surprises along the way. Against some stiff opposition a certain Mr Ben Moon qualified for the final which was absolutely great to see that he could still hold his own in the rarefied air of top-flight bouldering comps. By March the weather was heading rapidly into spring and limestone action at Stoney was underway as well as some grit. It was great getting out again especially as I was in the midst of a climbing shoe review for CLMBER magazine.

1436_DSC_9294A four-day trip to Riglos in late March/early April felt like the real start to the season. And what an amazing route Fiesta de los Biceps is – absolutely knock-out; c.300 m of stunning climbing up unbelievable steep rock. What not to like? Back home after that, the flora was springing (sorry…) into life everywhere. April and May went rushing past in a blur with trips to Wallasey included the unexpected bonus of ‘finding’ The Breck as well as the more usual haunts in Chee Dale and Stanage providing photo opportunities. Farther north, a trip to Northumberland – with excellent weather as usual – was a real bonus. We based ourselves near to Dunstanburgh Castle which is just spectacular as are the nearby rock/boulder strewn coast line.

July, of course, was all about La Tour, what a great event that was – again bags of photo ops. It’s a cliché of course, but I couldn’t resist a snap of the yellow jersey as ‘it’ came past. And following that was the Sheffield Criterium – a city centre race where the pro teams and the best amateurs hack round a loop flat-out for an hour in a first-past-the-post race wins. A brilliant race and another great night out with the camera.

 

 

August and the school summer hols provided the opportunity for me to dip my toes photographically at least into a totally new genre – concerts; specifically Camp Bestival at Lulworth. It did occur to me that I might sneak off for a cheeky DWS or two but the festival was full-on that half-baked idea withered on the vine. What a great opportunity to add some new material to my portfo1467_DSC_4788lio as well as catching some great performances too. The week after we washed-up on the Devon coast at Bude intent on sampling the surf and some Devonian bloc action – both were rather good as it turned out. A trip down to Colchester later in the summer hols offered another opportunity to catch the Red Arrows and an iconic Spitfire. August bank holiday saw us back up north in the Whitby area. As well as a trip round Go Ape in the Dalby Forest we nabbed a few waterfalls and night scenes on the coast. I also managed to fulfil a long-term objective – photographing a field full of fresh cut/baled hay which doesn’t sound much but it seems to have taken me a while to get the tick.

 

1471_DSC_0778Starting in September I dropped into running mode; shooting trail running to be exact for a guide on trailing running in the Peak District. I’d shot runners before – but always as part of events and never as stand-alone image to illustrate a book. The brief was to shoot the runners at various stages around the routes and to shoot couples running wherever possible. With twenty odd routes to shoot in about as many days, it was an interesting challenge. Shooting a single runner as its own challenges but adding in another runner into the equation takes it to another level. Imagine shooting fast moving action and trying to get a good body shape as well as a good composition showing the routes is OK, but getting two runners to run together and look half decent is… well try it and you see what I mean! Fortunately the weather was stunning last autumn and I got the job done to deadline – just! Plus I got to go to some places I’d never been to before in the Peak which was brilliant. I also got to see and photo some great wildlife too.

And when I wasn’t shooting running, I was out climbing and snapping climbing action too – that seemed a doddle in comparison to shooting two runners. Autumn seemed to pass very quickly – the colours were beautiful but seemingly gone in no time and then it was winter, Xmas and then the New Year and then time to start over!

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To see the full gallery of 2014 Captured click thru here

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aviation, Bouldering, Climbing, Cycling, Events, Photography, Running

F-BO15: And the winners are…

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Posted in Bouldering, Events

Dec 30th: Surprise last shots of 2014

With 2014 fast running out I managed to grab an hour out to the Peak late this afternoon to try and capture the something of the snow we’ve had dumped in our lap over the weekend…

I’d heard main roads were fine but side roads and those off the beaten track were iffy to impassable so I kept it simple and headed out to the Surprise View. I knew driving out that I’d left it late but figured that something would grab my attention so I parked the car and headed off towards the Surprise View itself. Last time I’d been there I shot a tree above Lawrencefield Quarry so thought that might be a good starting point. However, walking up I spotted a lone tree in the middle of nowhere so I doubled back rather jump the fence. Responsible for once!

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As they say, “Beggars can’t be choosers” and given that the sun was on the verge of disappearing I set-up PDQ and got a few shots off.  In next to no time the sun had gone so I figured I’d walk over to the Surprise View and then back to the carpark. The Surprise View is one of the wonders of the Peak District; so well-named. However, the view down the valley wasn’t inspiring – it was pretty dusk by then – but perfect for car-trails though as the cars zipped round the bend itself. It was too cold to mess about with ND filters so I dialled in the lowest ISO I could and under-exposed by a couple of stops and grabbed a few light-trails looking both into the Hope Valley and back towards Sheffield.

It definitely wasn’t the most meticulously planned and executed photo-shoot ever, but hey-ho. Here’s a selection of what will – in all probability – be my last shots from 2014…

Lone Tree by Surprise ViewSurprise Light TreeSurprise Car-trail#01Surprise Car-trail#02

 

 

Posted in Photography, Scenic

Nov 2nd: Autumn Colours

Autumn is being very kind to us this year with some cracking scenes and wonderful colours around every corner. It’s great getting out at for family walks over weekends/half term etc. – nothing finer that stretching the legs out in the Peak. It always raises a conundrum for me photographically.

DSC_7860_lo resWhilst I’d love to linger and really get stuck in photographically I stay ‘run and gun’ shooting with one lens and no tripod. Photography, like most of life, is a compromise; better to take a shot with limitations rather than not shoot at all in my book. Here are a few images from recent trips – all taken with D800 plus one lens (usually the 24-70 F2.8) and all on the hoof…

River Derwent upstream of GrindlefordTree under autumn skyTrees, Walls and Leaves in GrindlefordAcer ColoursWhitely Wood, SheffieldHeron in pond, Whitely Wood, SheffieldFungiiFungiiThat Crag again - Popular End of Stanage

Posted in Photography, Uncategorized

Oct 24th: KSP Goes Big in Autumn

Keith Sharples Photography has just gone big into autumn and then some!

A while back, Foundry co-owner and living legend Jerry Moffatt got in touch with me to ask if I had any images of iconic scenes out in the Peak District that they could print up for the wall in the Foundry Café. “Only a zaggillion or two” was my reply…

Since then I sent Jerry a selection of shots to have a look at and he picked out a shot of the Popular End of Stanage in full late autumn colours. It was actually shot back in the days of film (remember them…) so I supplied a scan of said image for printing.

Well I called into the Foundry in downtown Sheffield this afternoon to check out the final result. I hadn’t really thought much about it but I was thinking 18×12 inches maybe or perhaps poster-sized. When I got there I was blown away – the Foundry café wall had disappeared under the print which can’t be far off 8 by 4 feet! It’s a monster print and it looks pretty darned good even if I say so myself.

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Nip down and take a look see for yourself if you’re in the area. Damn fine show skippy… err Jerry…

I’ve uploaded the original shot and two others below that were taken the same day. As I say, they were shot on film coming up for 11 years ago this autumn. I recall the day pretty well ‘cos I’d just nipped out to meet Steve Mac at the plantation and I only had a couple of hours but I felt that the light was so good that I couldn’t go climbing and not take the shots. Funny how you remember the minute detail related to some pixs. Glad now I stopped though. Sadly, I’ve still not done Jerry’s Traverse at the Plantation. Maybe one for this winter?!?!

Finally, I should say that smaller prints can be made if required!!

Stanage, The Popular EndStanage Plantation and the Popular EndStanage Plantation

Posted in Climbing, KSP Publications, Photography

July 26th: Farewell to Deano (a.k.a. the 2014 Sheffield Grand Prix)

Wednesday (23rd July) night in Sheffield was FarewellDeano Night as anyone in the city centre around 9pm will know. Wrapped up amongst the farewell celebrations was the official event of the evening – the 2014 Sheffield Grand Prix which featured a Cat 3-4 race as well as the men’s Elite Race. Dean Dowling had won the 2013 event but the big question was could he do the same again in what was to be his final pro race?

The hors d’oeuvres for the main course was a mixed Cat 3-4 race which turned out to be, not unsurprisingly, hotly contested thanks to the fire power of some special order young guns in the shape of Thomas (Tom) Pidcock from Chevin Cycles.com and Harry Hardcastle of Kirklees Cycling Academy. Racing with the Cat 3-4 guns, the young ‘uns were allowed in as a ‘special’ – and what a special it turned out to be as it was down solely to Dieter Droger (Pioneer Scott Syncros) to hold the lads off the top spot. Nevertheless it was an inspired race for the youngers and as Dieter Droger said during the podium interview, it clearly shows that British Cycling has some real talent coming through. Here’s a gallery of images of the Cat 3/4 race.

The 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race starts out on its warm-up lapAnd they're off in the 2014 SCP Cat 3-4 raceSome big gaps in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race open up quicklyEarly leaders in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race sticking tight togetherRiders in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race working hardHarry Hardcastle punching out the watts in the 2104 SGP Cat 3-4 raceDieter Droger fixing the young guns Tom Pidock and Harry Hardcastle firmly in his sightsAnd the winner of the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race is Dieter DrogerThe 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 podium with Dieter Droger (Pioneer Scott Syncros), Tom Pidcock (Chevin Cycles.com Trek) and Harry Hardcastle (Kirkless Cyclig Academy)

The Elite race itself was also  hotly contested although there was an enforced ‘black flag’ break to allow the newly crowded Junior RR Champion, Tristran Robbins, to pick himself and his (de-chained) bike up off the cobbles. Once the race restarted a lead group got away leaving Team Raleigh working hard to bring them back although sadly they were unable to podium. In the end, Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) led home in the gathering gloom with local rider Adam Blythe (NFTO) and Toby Horton (Madison Genesis) following.

The night was clearly for Dean and he took to the podium with his daughter for an interview to the crowd’s delight…‘Farewell Deano’…

Finally then, a gallery of images from the mens’ Elite Race

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Posted in Cycling, Events, Photography

July 17th: It’s all over in a Second or Two – Roadside Shooting at the Tour du France

As most of Yorkshire knows only too well, it’s all over in a second of two! Or at least that’s how it seems if you stand by the roadside for several hours to wait for the greatest bike race in the world that is Le Tour (a.k.a. The Tour du France) to go past. Out of all the places that we could have watched Le Tour, Jawbone Hill in Oughtibridge was where we washed-up. As one of the top-ten places listed on the Sky website – we figured it would be good. For starters, it was on a hill so the riders would be going slow – right? Access wise – Jawbone Hill camping was right there too, with its built-in ringside (ok… roadside…) viewing. Double bonus. All we have to do was rock-up late Saturday, pitch the tent and wait up for the great show on earth to roll past. Piece of cake – what could be better or easier for that matter?

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There’s no shortage of erudite cycling commentators far more qualified than me to talk about the actual race itself – so this post is more about shooting Le Tour from a roadside shooters perspective. Thanks to Google Earth I had already driven up and down Jawbone Hill several times in the comfort of my own house to get an idea of where might be best to photograph from. I’d worked out where the sun (assuming it wasn’t cloudy) was gonna be in the sky (sic) and roughly which sections would be back-lit and where would be in shadow. Sadly though, there were still many known unknowns. How many others were going to be roadside too? Would the crowd all surge forward and block the view? Would the weather play ball or would we be treated to a day of interminable grey or worst still, rain? Would there be any restrictions to moving about as spectators? More questions than answers so it seemed like it was all going to be a bit of pot-luck. Walking up Jawbone Hill it was obvious that it had a number of steeper ramps and a steep(ish) finishing straight. By 10am on race day Sunday 6th, some 6 hours before the action, the frontline viewing spots behind the roadside barrier on the finishing straights were already taken! Folks sure seemed keen but I guess 6 hours for a ringside view of Le Tour might not be an unreasonable return?

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In the end I settled for a position on about half way up Jawbone, on the beginning of the outside of a bend which came after a decent straight. Waiting for the riders gave an opportunity to try out some angles and do some crowd watching. I was pretty chuffed with one shot especially which for me summed up waiting for the TDF when a young gent got down with the vibe and worked on his TDF Road Art. I would have been rude not to snap some of the more memorable aspects of the TDF ‘caravan’ has it rolled past and it was an opportunity to practice focus tracking and panning.  By the time the helicopters arrived and signalled the immenent arrival of the riders themselves I’d distilled my game plan and was sorted. Rightly or wrongly I’d decided to shoot the first group of riders as they approached my position with a 70-200mm then switch to a 24-70mm mid-range for the close up stuff as more riders came past. I added an on-camera flash, with a booster pack for faster recycling, to fill the shadows. I opted for a wide aperture for the telli shots – primarily to separate the action from the background but stopped down a bit for the mid-range shots to give more depth of focus.

Anyways, here’s my shots as the caravan and Le Tour tackles Jawbone Hill. I think my game plan worked ok although it nearly fell on its derier as I’d not factored into the equation that ahead of the first riders is the official red race car – complete with outriders - which nearly obliterated the long shot down the road look that I was after. Totally by luck than judgement as the opening group came towards me I was able to snatch a few shots of the riders once the lead vehicles had pulled past. It hard picking a ‘best shot’ but this one sums up what I’d envisaged.

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Apologies for the delay in posting – technology failure caused by the BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) took a wee while to get sorted – but here at last is a full gallery of the day…

Cote du Jawbone - race minus several hoursCycling RoyaltyBy heck lad, here comes t'caravan...She was still playing when she hit Sheffield too - apparently!Fruit never tasted so good?Part of your 5-adayAye - big hills and great teaNow thats a big teddyLovin' it...French strong armTDF road artEgh up - here comes TDF!French chips...Bear in the airYep - after 6 hours waiting, finally here comes to TDF!Le Tour is here!The openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawbonePorte and Froomy goes by...Way to go guys...Toni MartinClose-up and personal #1Close-up and personal #2Close-up and personal #3Eh up - is that a yellow jersey I see?Eh up - is that a yellow jersey I see?Yep - le yellow jerseyYellow jerseyPates brings up the rear (sort...off...)...

 

 

 

Posted in Cycling, Events, Photography Tagged , |

July 3rd… The Big Tamale…

After what seems like forever, tomorrow is the big tamale a.k.a. Le Grand Depart or in simple words, the start of The 2014 Tour de France, arguably the greatest bike race on the planet…

It been a long time coming, but it’s here at last, Yorkshire’s big moment on the big stage that is the TDF. For months yellow bikes have been hung on/off most conceivable vantage points the length and breadth of Yorkshire. Farmers have painted their sheep yellow.  One café owner has covered the outside of their emporium in monster red dots! The roads have been re-surfaced and hitherto common grazing fields turned into one-off campsites. Sheffield’s ‘un-known’ Jenkin Road has been dragged from quiet suburbia and trust into the lime-light and is (very nearly) rubbing shoulders with Alpe d’Huez, or Mont Ventoux!

It’s fair to say that many will be out there over the weekend getting involved but fair play to you if you’re staying at home watching the footie or Wimbledon.  I’m off to Jawbone Hill. Wherever you go, let’s hope it a good ‘un…

Not every bike will be on the Yorkshire roads this weekend...Yorkshire - the roof of the TDF?Opps - boot anyone?

Posted in Cycling, General

June 8th: Northumberland Coast – Not your typical Coastline…

Plagues and lotus were about the only things missing off the agenda according to the weather forecast for the recent bank holiday so we had zero expectations when we set off. The vague plan was to have a few days R&R on the Northumberland Coast; walk a few miles, cycle a few more, run a few as well and maybe, just maybe pull down on some problems…

DSC_6823_000_lo resI’ve been a fan of Northumberland ever since my first visit back in the late 70’s. The climbing is tough but super satisfying. I find the scenery stunning and the coast just something else completely. So many times I’ve been up there when the bad weather that was hammering the rest of the country never seemed to make it that far. The beaches knock the much lauded southern counterparts into the proverbial cocked-hat! I’m talking visually and water quality wise although as anyone who has been up there will tell you, there’s often a breeze that keeps temperatures a tad suppressed. If only…!!

Officially designated an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the section of coast north of Amble and Alnmouth right the way up to Berwick Upon Tweed on the Scottish border is the amazing. Dunstanburgh Castle is the southern beauty; then Bamburgh and then Holy Island (Lindisfarne) in the north are the three stand-out locations that most folks have seen/heard about. We didn’t have a plan as such but having ‘done’ Holy Island and Bamburgh relatively recently we naturally gravitated towards Dunstan. Following the monsoon on the Saturday we had two incredible bluebird days – back-to-back sunny days that couldn’t have been much better.

Photographically, the area is a peach – although being a bank holiday we certainly weren’t alone, far from it in fact! Any photographic skills text-book will tell you that sun-rise and sun-set are the two golden hours in the day; but when you’ve a family with you, you have to take the opportunities when you can. I took the easy option and opted for sun-set rather than the totally unpalatable 4-5:00 am starts that hunting sun-rise shots would have meant. As I say, both days were stunning although strangely both evenings failed to live up to expectation.

I’ll upload two galleries from the trip; firstly a collection of colour shots and secondly some black and white conversions.  I’d never photographed at Dunstanburgh Castle before but it’s on the list now as a ‘must re-visit’ venue. I was utterly taken by the Castle and the surrounding area and I’m confident that you’ll get different conditions on every visit. The beaches are amazing  - not least the boulder-field just north of Dunstanburgh Castle. Don’t forget to drop-in to Craster too – another amazing ‘must visit’ spot.

In case you’re wondering, the bouldering mat and boots never saw the light of day as the weather nose-dived on our last day. Still, it gave us an excuse to get the slackline out – although that’s no easier when it’s lashing it down!

Dunstanburgh Caste sure stands well on the coast north of CrasterSo good here's a portrait shot of Dunstanburgh Castle as wellAnd another with the sea rolling inEmbleton Bay, north of Dunstanburgh Castle, has golden sands as far as you can seeDunstanburgh Castle from the beachDunstanburgh Golf Course. I don't play golf, but if I did this is one venue I'd go forDunstan floraLobster pots in Craster harbour. Lying in the lea of the castle, Craster is a cracking little venueDusk falls over Dunstanburgh CastleThe late setting suns blasts Dunstanburgh Castle and the bouldersDunstanburgh boulders await the incoming tideNight falls over Dunstanburgh CastleDunstanburgh Castle doing an impression of The Mittens in Monument ValleyNight falls over Craster harbour as late-evening 'crabber' hang inLow tide renders Craster harbour silentDusk and Craster HarbourAnd a landscape version of Craster Harbour too

Posted in Photography, Scenic, Travel

June 7th : Gear Review – Rock Shoes for 2014

The world of rock shoe manufacturing doesn’t stand still for long and this year is no exception. The June edition of Climber magazine is on the shelves and it features a review of no less than thirteen pairs of new shoes by yours truly selected from two categories – beginner, intermediate and all-rounders shoes and specialist performance shoes. If you’re in the market for some new shoes it might be worth taking a quick look through as there’s some surprises in store…

DSC_6253_lo resI, like many climbers, have had my favourite shoe manufacturer for years – 5.10 in my case. However, doing back-to-back shoe reviews for the last two years (see below) has opened my eyes to new products on the market today. More and more though I see experienced climbers trying new shoes looking for any advantage they can get – in my case to buy-back age-related declining performance!

Although most of the shoes tested are brand spanking new, typically they build on previous designs and features looking to spring-board off popular feature sets. Unusually though, some manufacturers have gone retro for 2014 and have re-introduced slightly remodelled shoes from yesteryear.

I commented last year to the effect that there was a huge number of rock shoes on the current market and there’s more coming to market all the time. That trend seems set to continue. Similarly, there’s a veritable mix of lace-ups, velcros and slippers as well as low volume/narrow fit to high volume/wide fitting shoes. Surprisingly, all five of the specialist performance shoes tested are slipper-based shoes with some throwing-in a Velcro closure as well to supplement fit/performance. Perhaps this is proof that slipper/velco fastening shoes are now more popular than traditional lace-ups.

Included in the 2014 review are the following shoes:

rock shoes review_spread#1

Beginner, Intermediate and All-rounder Shoes: Boreal Marduk, Edelrid Blizzard, Evolv Addict, Evolv Defy and Elektra, Five Ten Guide and New Pinks.

Specialist Shoes: Boreal Satori, Boreal Dharma, Edelrid Cyclone, Evolv Nexxo, Scarpa Stix and the Tenaya Ossi.

Here’s some visuals to check-out too…

Yours truly - supervised by Simba - putting the new Pinks thru their paces on the age old classic Hampers Hang (Font 7a)More Hampers Hang actionAnd the flip-side of Hampers Hang

 

 

Posted in Climbing, Reviews