I call myself a landscape photographer but spend most of my time photographing the coast of Northern Ireland, so perhaps a more suitable title for me would be coastal photographer! Regardless, I occasionally like to venture inland and photograph something other than the Atlantic Ocean.
My friend Ken and I decided that we would like to capture some Autumn colour before the leaves fall off the trees. Roe Valley County Park sprang to mind - I visited the area several years ago and knew that this beautiful gorge was lined with deciduous trees. Upon arriving at the gorge I wasn't disappointed - look at the colour of those trees!
We made our way down to the deepest part of the gorge underneath the old road bridge. The rocks were very slippy and the walk down into the gorge was a careful and delicate one. I extended my tripod partially and used the 3 legs to help me balance as I descended to the water's edge.
The photograph above was taken just downstream of the bridge. You can see from the spattering of red and yellow on the green moss that I arrived to the area just in time as in a few weeks there probably won't be a leaf left on that stunning orange overhanging tree. I used my Lee Polariser to cut down on the reflections in the scene which give the image greater depth of colour. In an ideal world I would have gotten lower and closer to the rocks in the foreground in order to try and boost their impact in the scene. However, given the slippiness of the rocks, the proximity the water and the value of my camera equipment, I decided that it would be wiser to be cautious!
I have read numerous discussions online about the types of footwear sole that give the best grip on wet rocks and the general opinion is that it doesn't matter how expensive the shoe or what it is made of, if you walk on wet rocks you will slip (with the exception of wishing waders which have felt soles, but are not exactly practical!). I wear Merrell Moab GTX walking shoes for my landscape photography. They are extremely sturdy and comfortable with a chunky sole and air cushioning (although still no good on wet rocks!).
This second landscape photograph was taken further upstream than the first. In fact, if you cast your eye to the furthest point along the river, you can see the rather slippy rocks I have just described standing on. I used my Canon 24-105mm L lens at its longest focal length to compress the distance.
I did have my Canon 70-300mm L lens with me which would have given me a slightly better quality image at the same focal length. Although the Canon 24-105mm L is a seriously good bit of kit, all Canon users know that the companies telephoto lenses are a little big magical and give images a special quality that is hard to describe! However, on anything but a very solid base, the extra weight of the 70-300mm makes it harder to get a completely sharp image when the exposure times are longer. I have found that, although I have a very good quality tripod and tripod head, neither can defeat the inevitability of camera shake when the system rests upon any sort of vegetation, sand, loose soil etc. At the longer focal lengths especially, the lens is very long and catches the wind easily.
So whilst the temptation is always to go for the newest, best quality lens you have, don't forget that the best shot is the sharpest shot. The extra resolving power counts for nothing if the image is blurred. I sometimes wish I had gone for the lighter Canon 70-200mm L lens, but on a full-frame sensor such as my camera has, 200mm is just far too short.
Roe Valley is a beautiful stretch of river and I intend to return here. I think, however, that I will leave it a year as I can't imagine it ever being as beautiful as when those red, yellow and orange leaves line the gorge.