It’s been a cold month so far, but I can’t complain too much. The lower temperatures have provided me with some wonderful photo opportunities, by forcing me to stay indoors or by enabling a clear atmosphere for sharper, crisper scenes. So I include above some of my favourite shots from the last month.
I confess; I’m an animal lover and cats, (big and domestic) are some of the creatures that I most admire. So I don’t need much encouragement to pull out my camera and start snapping either of my two felines. Jack (pictured above) is the easiest of the two for me to shoot, as he’s often in just the right pose for that ideal picture. I’m tempted to say, that he secretly enjoys having his photo taken, but of course that would be complete rubbish! His black fur makes it a little tricky sometimes to capture his shape and I find that I need plenty of light for a worthy result. Some of my best shots have been when he’s lying in direct sunlight and only then, do I see the rich chocolate colours in his coat emerge.
Always having an interest in astronomy and all things space related, I’ve often wanted to have a go at astrophotography. Living in the UK makes this difficult for a couple of reasons. The first might be more obvious and that is of course the weather. Finding a clear night is the first barrier and I might only have a sure enough forecast 12 hours in advance, so the decision to go out into the countryside is often a last minute one. The second issue is light pollution. Living near Sheffield (the UK’s fourth largest city) means I have to make a trip into the countryside to find a dark enough spot. The Campaign for Dark Skys provides a useful map, showing areas of light pollution in the UK.
The skys cleared and the cold crisp December air presented a clear view of the celestial wonders. I set my camera up in the Peak District National Park and took 500 photos, each with an exposure of 15 seconds and an interval of 10 seconds. When I got back home, I used software to stack all the photos together to create the final image. A good free program for achieving this is Lynkeos. What I find particularly fascinating is the rotation, which you can only see when looking at the final image. At least I now know where north is!
Wrapping up warm, I made my final photography excursion for the year into Sheffield City Centre. Having grown up in the Steel City, I have a strong affection for its history, beauty and uniqueness. I love to take pictures of iconic locations and the picture above is of Sheffield’s two main theatres, The Crucible and Lyceum. This photo symbolises for me a wonderful spirit of the City and its ability to remain progressive, whilst ensuring its history is preserved. The Crucible, opened in 1971 is home to the World Snooker Championships and its recent refurbishment shows it off as a modern, professional arts venue. The Lyceum, opened in 1897 displays a more traditional, facade and yet the two, old and new go together extremely well.
Find many more excellent pictures of Sheffield in the Facebook group: Pictures of Sheffield old and new.
Any post processing and/or work performed on my images is now all done using open source / free software and GNU/Linux. Find more of my photos on Flickr.