Saturday, 5 October 2019

Overlaying Fast and Slow Images (890 words)

We all like that silky effect you get when shooting fast-moving water with a slow shutter speed. It is a very popular effect. But say there are trees or even animals moving in the frame, you would want to keep these sharp.
So in this blog, I will explain how I overcame that issue, I am sure there are other ways of doing this and I am sure many already know and have explained how to do this, but here is my method.

You will obviously need a camera, and its best to use a  tripod, the sturdier the better. Use either a remote shutter or the delay on the camera to help prevent camera shake. You can also use mirror lock-up on DSLR, again to prevent camera shake. If you have an ND (Neutral Density) filter, use it for the long exposure photos. If you don’t have an ND filter, you can up your F-Stop to limit the light getting in, but the ND filter will give better results.

In the photo above, you can see both blurred and sharp water of the waterfall. The trees were also swaying in the wind, but are acceptably sharp, I have also sharpened the rapids in the lower left of the photo.

So, how was this created?
It was created in Photoshop, using Overlays. Many will be very familiar to Overlays for painting in dramatic skies and the likes, but this is a practical use to prevent blurred leaves, etc and maintain the silky look of the water captured with a slow shutter speed.
I am using Photoshop CC and the time of writing is October 2019.

Take a shot of your scene with a fast(ish) shutter speed, I used 1/200th of a second. It should be fast enough to sharply capture the water droplets and any moving items, such as tree branches. Here is the “fast” photo:

As you can see, there is a branch along the top of the photo, it is acceptably sharp at 1/200th of a second. However, the waterfall, nice as it is, does not have the silky motion blur effect.

So without moving the camera, put an ND filter on, I used a 10 stop on this shoot.
Note, that if you were using autofocus, turn it off now and be careful not to knock the focus off.
Now adjust your exposure to have the shutter open longer. Again, if you do not have an ND filter you can get similar results by upping the F-Stop, this closes the aperture and lets less light in, and therefore requiring a longer exposure.

Here is the photo with the longer exposure, a slower shutter speed of 6 seconds:

Whereas we have now achieved the silky waterfall look, but unfortunately that branch along the top has motion blurred also, and most other leaves are not that sharp either.

So this is where Photoshop comes in.

First, do any post-shoot editing in Lightroom as normal, but be sure not to crop or straighten at this point, that can be done on the final image.

Here is the process to sharpen the leaves and in this case part of the water in Photoshop:

  • Open the faster shutter speed image in Photoshop.
  • Now use the slower shutter speed image as an overlay. File, Place Embedded

Now select to the slower shutter speed image and press “Place”, to load it over the faster image.

  • Note, at this point, you can move or adjust the overlay (if you were going to paint in a sky or something), but we will not adjust or move it for this effect.
  • You can keep the Blend Mode to Normal and Opacity to 100%, but do play about with these setting to see different effects.
  • Now add a Layer Mask to the Overlay by selecting the Overlay Layer and clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom.

  • Select the Brush Tool

  • Zoom in on the area that you want the fast image to show through.

  • Set the foreground colour to black. This can be done by selecting the lower left of the colour panel or using the Swatches Tab.

  • Adjust the Brush Tool as you wish, but as mentioned, I suggest 100% Opacity to cleanly get rid of any blur.

  •  Now just paint over the blurred areas that you wish to have sharper image show through.

  • Above is the blurred Overlay image, and below is it partially painted to have the sharper image show through.

  • If you unblur a part of the image you didn’t mean to, and you don’t want to undo. You can set the Brush Tool colour to White and paint over the area to undo the blur.
  • When finished, save the image which can then be cropped and straightened if required.

The location was Glenariff Forest, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
To get to the waterfall in the images above, go to Laragh Lodge Restaurant and follow the path around the back and then down to the left. It is a very short walk, but worth exploring the rest of the area, as there are other waterfalls and things of interest on the trails.
Here is a link for Laragh Lodge Restaurant on Google Maps.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have found this useful.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Manannán Mac Lir 16Dec18 Star Trail (1127 words)

The Story

I checked the weather the night before, while storm Deirdre was still raging outside...

It gave it clear skies from about 6 am, then checked again at midnight and said it would not clear until after sunrise.

I then canceled the 04.30am alarm & thought it would not be worth the drive to the Manannán Mac Lir (Celtic Sea God) Statue at Gortmore Viewpoint, at the top of Binevenagh.

I woke early anyway, as I normally do and had a quick look outside. I could see the stars through the bedroom window, but also some clouds passing by... The anticipation started to rise, I boiled the kettle for the flask, while getting ready. Set the camera settings to what I wanted, filled the flask and packed everything into the car.

As I drove towards Coleraine I could see lots more stars and was getting nerdily excited about the prospect of the photo.

When I reached Binevenagh mountain, I was driving uphill into the darkness of the night (early morning, but night sounds better). The light pollution in the rearview mirror was the only signs of civilisation, even though it was emitting from Castlerock.

When I arrived at Gortmore, I could hardly open the car door against the wind. I grabbed the kit and made my way to the statue through what seemed like ice cold gale force winds (it wasn't, just seemed like it at that ungodly hour). In my keenness to get set up, I had left my gloves and woolly hat in the car.

At the statue, the wind was howling, I tried my best to set up, but my fingers were freezing and could hardly operate the camera and remote timer. Before frostbite and hypothermia set in (it was about 5c and 40mph winds, so I was really only being a drama queen), I set the heavy tripod up, fitted the camera and tried to find Polaris (the north star, it does not move in a star trail). But I couldn't even see the statue of Manannán Mac Lir with the camera, never mind Polaris, and there were just too many stars to pick out the Plough, also known as the Big Dipper as a pointer to Polaris, as you will see in the photo below.
To make things worse, I had left my phone in the car and could not find the plough in the sky to give me a pointer to Polaris, and without the phone, I just had to guess where north was.

So with watery eyes being battered with the cold wind, I pressed the remote timer and rapidly retreated to the car. A hot cuppa and heat on in the car and I was starting to think straight again.
Now I am thinking, should I return to the Manannán Mac Lir and try and do him justice by finding Polaris, but then I remembered how warm I now was (and lazy) and stayed put.

As astronomical twilight approached, I returned to Manannán Mac Lir to recover the kit.

I took a quick photo of the statue head on, just to try and salvage something from the shoot.
I checked it and was happy enough, went back to the car. I didn't even look at the star trail photos until I got home. I really didn't think it would turn out at all...

Then boom, I had got Polaris perfect, and it was right above the Manannán Mac Lir statue.

So to all those that don't believe me when I say, I just press the button and see what comes out, this was the ultimate in shooting blind, and I am absolutely chuffed with the result :)

It probably is not technically a great or even good shot, but the feeling I got when the blended photo was displayed now has me hooked :)

Just need to move to a country with clear skies :) :)


So many stars, I could not find the Plough or any other star constellations. 

A quick snap, hoping to salvage something from the shoot. 

The blended Star Trail, the setup was near perfect :)


Click on this link to find the statue on Google Maps:


The statue is situated only 3 miles from Downhill beach, just drive up the Bishops Road which takes you to it.

It is placed at the top of Gortmore Viewing Point, which has great views along the Foyle shoreline, across the Foyle to Donegal's headlands, and along the rugged North Coast.

Well worth a visit, and it is free :)

How it was done - settings, etc.

Star Trails can be created in two ways.

1) A very long exposure, but this can lead to noise as the camera's sensor is on for a long period of time and will create heat.

2) Several shots and blend them together, this is the option I used here.

First off, you will need a tripod. Then I set the camera to mirror up, to help prevent shake when each photo was being taken.

I took these photos using a Canon 1300D, entry-level camera, so had to use a remote timer. I set it to 20-second exposure, 5-second interval and repeat until stopped.

The camera settings were as shown here.

A better camera could handle a higher ISO.

I then imported the RAW files into Lightroom and did a bit of post-editing. Edit one photo and copy the edit values by pressing Ctrl & C, then paste to all other files that will make up the Star Trail by highlighting them and press Ctrl, Shift & V. This was on a Windows PC.

I then used Photoshop to blend the photos and make the Star Trail, and here is how it's done.

1) Load all images into a single stack in Photoshop
File -> Script >- Load Images into Stack from Photoshop

When you browse to select the files – click on the first file, then press shift and click on the last file.
This will select all the files at once.
It may take a while to load all the files?

Select the second to the bottom layer and set the blend mode to Lighten, it reads "Normal" by default. Click the Normal dropdown & select ‘Lighten’
By making sure you are on the Layers Tab

Right Click on the layer name and select ‘Copy Layer Style’

Now select all layers above, Right Click & Select ‘Paste Layer Style’ which is just below the ‘Copy Layer Style’
This should create the star trail, just save as a JPG and you are done.
Also, as mentioned, you can put all the RAW files into Lightroom, batch process them and then save as JPG’s in a new location. Then blend as above.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Kitty of Coleraine - Song, Boat & Red Sails (855 words)

A boat at the Red Sails Festival.

Okay, this is a short story about a song that inspired a boat name that inspired a song, if that makes sense?

The first song - Kitty of Coleraine although it's recorded author is anonymous. It is believed to have been written by Edward Lysaght (1763 to 1811) as a poem. 
The song was made famous in Top o' the Morning, an American romantic comedy (1949), where Bing Crosby sings it.

The song tells of a beautiful Coleraine girl called Kitty who drops a pitcher of milk to flirt with a bloke, not much has really changed in Coleraine then :)

The song:
As beautiful Kitty one morning was tripping
With a pitcher of milk from the fair of Coleraine,
When she saw me she stumbled, the pitcher down tumbled,
And all the sweet butter-milk watered the plain.
Oh! what shall I do now? 'twas looking at you, now;
Sure, sure, such a pitcher I'll ne'er meet again;
'Twas the pride of my dairy! O Barney M'Cleary,
You're sent as a plague to the girls of Coleraine!

I sat down beside her, and gently did chide her,
That such a misfortune should give her such pain;
A kiss then I gave her, and, ere I did leave her,
She vowed for such pleasure she'd break it again.
'Twas hay-making season--I can't tell the reason--
Misfortunes will never come single, 'tis plain;
For very soon after poor Kitty's disaster
The devil a pitcher was whole in Coleraine.

Kitty of Coleraine, cigarette card / Wm. Ruddell Ltd.

The boat - Kitty of Coleraine was built by Harland and Wolff in 1863, one of them anyway. 
Harland and Wolff were a major ship builder of the time and built such vessels as the Titanic in 1911.
Note, that while researching this blog I seem to get details on two Kitty of Coleraine vessels, one a sloop and the other a steam vessel. I think it may be possible that the steam vessel was built in Harland and Wolff, but the sloop is the link to our next part of the story.

During the 1930s, various boating races were held along the North Coast between Portrush and Portstewart. One vessel that took part in such races was the sloop Kitty of Coleraine.

The Kitty of Coleraine was rediscovered in 1992 and after local interest was raised through an article by Speedy Moore (a local journalist), two local businessmen (Norman Hutchison and Ivan Campbell) funded her restoration.
She now sits in the Transport Museum, Belfast undergoing further restoration.

The second song - Red Sails in the Sunset by Jimmy Kennedy (published 1935) and covered by almost everyone from Bing Crosby (he must have loved the North Coast), Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and even the Beatles. Here is a list of (39) artists that have covered the song.

The story goes that Jimmy Kennedy was watching another beautiful Portstewart sunset with his sister who was an artist, when the sloop Kitty of Coleraine sailed past. The magnificently red coloured sky reflected on the white sails of the Kitty of Coleraine turning them red. His sister apparently captured the scene on canvas and it was this Portstewart sunset that inspired Jimmy Kennedy to wright Red Sails in the Sunset. He wrote approximately 2000 songs in his time, of which over 200 were hits, including Teddy Bears' Picnic.

Now, if you have followed me on Twitter (@BC_Tweeting) you will have noticed that a majority of my tweets have been Portstewart Sunsets, they are among the best I have seen around the world.

Just a few spectacular but pretty common Portstewart Sunsets.

To celebrate Red Sails in the Sunset there is an art installation on the Promenade near the Harbor. There is also a set of metal sails on the Coleraine Road Roundabout, at times this piece of art reflects the red sunset. 

Art installation on the Promenade.

Metal sails at the roundabout.

The Red Sails Festival is now an week long annual festival that is held in July. Most events are free with the finale being a evening of entertainment including fireworks, the Promenade is closed to traffic and draws large crowds. 

So there you have it. a chain of events first sparked by a girl spilling milk to get noticed over 200 years ago :)

The sunset of the evening I wrote this blog.

References and sources:

Don't just exist - LIVE! 

Get out there and chase it :) -

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cushy Glen - The Highwayman (927 words)

A plaque of Cushy Glen at Largantea.

Picture the scene. It is a cold, wet and windy evening, the year is 1799 and a farmer from Bolea, Limavady has just sold livestock in Coleraine. He has made a good reward on his animals, but now is about to leave and ride back home.

Coleraine and Limavady are small market towns on the North Coast of Northern Ireland. The shortest route between the two towns is the Murder Hole Road, over the mountain. It is called this for a very grave (excuse the pun) reason.
This is because an infamous local highwayman known as Cushy Glen prowled on victims traversing between the towns. The legend of his atrocities have been passed down through the generations in the area for over two hundred years.

It is believed that Cushy Glen and his gang had recently held up the mail coach, killed all on-board and dumped their bodies in the Murder Hole. This was one of many robberies that ended badly for the victims.
Our farmer is well aware of stories and the dangers that may lay ahead, so he has another whiskey, or two. The barman has noticed that the farmer has quite a bit of cash on him and fears for his safety. The barman discreetly advises that the farmer take a lend of a flintlock pistol for his protection, from Cushy Glen.

Cushy Glen is also in Coleraine, he has heard that the farmer has made a lot of cash and will be leaving soon. He knows where the farmer lives, and the route home will take him past Cushy Glen’s own place, so he rides off and prepares to ambush the farmer near to his own place.

The farmer follows shortly afterwards, leaving Coleraine over the bridge and up towards the Murder Hole Road. He has just under ten miles to ride, the deeper he gets into the mountain the more dangerous it will be. He makes the flintlock pistol ready and places it on the side of his saddle.
Apart from the foul weather the journey is relatively uneventful. As the farmer rides past the Sconce Hill on his right, a shiver runs down his spine, this is where the mail coach was held up, but he knows he has not far to go to turn onto the Bolea Road, where he lives. It is starting to get dark now, but he should make the turn with the last glimmers of the sunset.
The statue of Cushy Glen at Largantea.

As he breaks the final hill and can just see the Bolea Road in the distance, a shadowy figure catches his eye. Its Cushy Glen, the ambush that the farmer feared is now on. With swift movement the figure now stands before him wearing long robes, a hat and scarf covering his face so only the highwayman's cold, dark eyes are visible in the dulling light. The highwayman has a flintlock pistol pointed directly at the farmer, he demands the farmer stop, which he does.
The farmer’s senses are now heightened and time itself seems to slow.
Cushy Glen orders the farmer to throw down his bag of cash. The farmer leans down as if to throw the bag under the horse's neck towards the highwayman. The farmer is holding the borrowed flintlock pistol instead of the bag of cash, he produces the pistol under the neck of the horse and with a loud bang, the infamous Cushy Glen has just been shot in the chest.
Cushy Glen had the farmer in his sights, but with the sudden noise the horse is startled and bolts. The horse then gallops with the farmer on its back towards the farm.

Cushy Glen drops to the ground, but is still alive. His wife had heard the shot as the ambush was so close to their place. She ran out and helped him into their small stone cottage, where she comforted him.
A local minister was sent for to treat Cushy, he was blindfolded so he could not know where they lived. The minister could not help Cushy, who died shortly afterwards.

Cushy Glen’s house at the end of Bolea Road.

The farmer was called James Hopkins who lived to the age of 94 and died in 1853.

So that is the story of Patrick (Cushy Glen) Cushaglen that still puts fear into travellers on the Murder Hole Road at night. Please note that the road has been called the Windyhill Road since the 1970s. I personally think that the name change will unfortunately help the demise of the story.

I cannot say if that is exactly how the story went, but it was James Hopkins who shot Cushy Glen with a borrowed pistol.

Old trees around Cushy Glen’s house.

The Sculpture Trail Map and Key.

References and sources:

Kenny Anderson (my uncle)

Also thanks to Pat McLaughlin ‏@Patmclaughlin18 who informed me that his grandfather would ride the Murder Hole Road, with a pistol for protection in the early 20th Century.
"Early in 20th century, my grandfather would ride on horseback, Coleraine to Limavady, with a pistol for protection."

 I believe that many locals, even to this day are apprehensive of using this route on a dark wintry night.

Don't just exist - LIVE! 

Get out there and chase it :) -

Monday, 21 March 2016

Some Photos (33 words)

A quick blog, various photos. I will update from time to time, so please check back often :)
If viewed on mobile, best viewed using landscape.
These photos can also be viewed at: here

Don't just exist - LIVE! 

Get out there and chase it :) -