Snowy Weather Nonsense…

I Just Cannot Believe It..

I must be getting old and Meldrew-like! I love the cold weather, and especially the snow, as an unparalleled opportunity to get outside with the camera. What I don’t like is the way that our weather forecasters seem incapable of even remotely predicting the time, place or extent of weather with any accuracy. Worse still, the very mention of the possibility (never mind the actuality) of snow throws the media into a frenzy with dire predictions of death and mayhem. These days my wife and I often have to travel, usually a long way and in different directions but that’s incidental, and an accurate weather forecast is pretty essential if snow is forecast. Can we get decent information? Certainly not.

And what about consistency of approach to travel information in the media and on the roads themselves. Forget it, no-one cares. On the M5/6 yesterday I saw plenty of signs for ‘Salt Spreading’, but never saw a grit spreader once. Neither, more worryingly, did I see any obvious grit on the road. Nor any warnings of snow on the road, or an advisory speed limit, despite several inches of snowy slush, harsh wind and appalling driving conditions!! I saw plenty of signs asking ‘is your vehicle prepared for winter?’ but for what purpose? So there we all were, driving in columns, much too fast, terrified to attempt to slow down or change lane in case a truck rear-ended you or the manoeuvre started a skid and a major pile-up. Astonishing. So I ask again was there an advisory speed limit? Were there warnings of snow? Of course not, no-one cares it seems. On the news this morning I hear that people were stuck in their cars overnight. I felt lucky to get home alive last night, this country beggars belief sometimes.

Less Moaning and More Photography

_DSC4523-EditI did manage a couple of pictures however. I was quite attracted to the image of the Collegiate Church of St Bartholemew Tong pictured here. As you can see from the link it is a listed building with a very attractive facade. So who built Tong Church and when? It seems from their website that in 1409 Lady Isabel de Pembrugge obtained a Royal license from Henry IV to found Tong Church and build the present church so that masses could be said for Sir Fulke and her two other husbands, Thomas Peyteveyne and John Ludlow. Tong church is probably the third building on the site, and is a fine example of Perpendicular Gothic Architecture, with the exception of the Golden Chapel. It’s a real pity that it was so dull on the day I went past, this would look so much cleaner with a blue sky background. On well, you have to take what you can. If you would like to see it yourself it is off the Newport Road (A41) just off J3 of the M54.

 Nighttime Snow HDR Stuff

_DSC2242-Edit-EditMany snow scenes are low contrast, and as such it is important to remember your positive exposure compensation to get clean bright whites, and to shoot to the right as far as possible. At night though, all that changes, particularly if you have things like streetlights in the scene. Here you may need HDR. One of the nice touches on the Nikon D4 is that you can select your bracket interval between 0.3 and 3.0 stops. Previously, on the D3 for example, you could only select 0.3-1.0 stops, so you would end up taking many more exposures just to get a good range. Now, many scenes can be captured automatically with a 3-image bracket of -2, 0, +2 stops. For this image, I pushed the boat out with a 5 image 2 stop bracket because of the deep blacks and the bright street lighting.

The shot was taken in full darkness using a 50mm f1.4 Nikor, hand-held at ISO bonkers (25,600), between 1/25 and 1/6400 of a second for the 5-image series. The shot was put together using lightroom 4 and CS6 Extended using the preset Scott 5 as a starting point in Merge to HDR Pro. It was then taken back to lightroom for further processing and then back to CS6 for extra tonal contrast thanks to Color Efex Pro 4. If you have never used Color Efex Pro 4 I can really recommend it to you, it is worth the asking price just for the tonal contrast feature, I use this on most of my images, even the wildlife pictures sometimes.