Sunrise at Doffcocker

Doffcocker Lodge Sunrise

Another walk around Doffcocker Lodge this morning. Instead of my usual 28mm f2.8 ais lens today I brought my 50mm f1.8D. The lead photo in today’s post is a crop from a 6 image stitch. The 50mm lens was not wide enough to get the landscape shot I was looking for, so another stitch job!

Sunrise over Doffcocker Lodge

The shot alongside is a single shot image with the 50mm lens. Such a different feel between a landscape and a portrait orientation. I suppose the thing that grabbed my attention today was the circular sun and it’s reflection on the water.

It was a hot and humid day yesterday, and today is supposed to be cooler. All the same, the sky looked hazy and I really wasn’t expecting to see the sun as a crisp ball as is visible in these photos.

The next photo, taken quite a bit later, is looking across the smaller lodge toward Winter Hill. Here you can see the sky isn’t crisp and clear, but hazy. You can also see in the close foreground the Himalayan Balsam. I’ve been quite amazed with the amount of balsam in the parks and waterways. It was introduced in the mid 1800s and I understand beekeepers are quite fond of it for the amount of nectar it produces for bees … but it is quite invasive and swamps the native plants.

Looking towards Winter Hill across Doffcocker Lodge. Notice all the Himalayan Balsam in the foreground.

Heading home I couldn’t help but notice the nettles and grasses – probably because the grass is quite long and I got rather wet from the morning dew. Nevertheless, these grasses are very pretty. Maybe I’ll go looking for grasses tomorrow … there’s certainly a large variety and their seed heads are most attractive. Nettles never seem to be popular either … probably because they can be painful, but they are a popular plant for butterflies.

Early morning dew on grass at Doffcocker, Bolton.
Stinging Nettle

A bit of Bokeh

Looking at Wikipedia, you read that in photography, bokeh is “the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.” In general the out-of-focus area of an image is the background, and one of the best ways to make this out-of-focus whilst retaining focus on your subject is to open up the lens and shoot at a low f-stop. It seems a bit backwards, but the lower the f-stop the more open the lens and the better chance you have of making the background blur. Getting close to your subject and have the lens opened up will give you the best chance for a blurry background. The shot at the start of this post was taken at f2.8 with a 200mm lens in an attempt to isolate the bloom from the foliage behind.

A rose taken with an 85mm lens at f1.4

The rose image was taken with an 85mm lens wide open and this shot, taken outdoors, was a real challenge. When you open up the lens to make the background blurry, you also reduce the depth of focus. In the case of the rose, the gentle breeze in the back garden would cause the rose to move in and out of focus. Depth of focus on the 85mm at f1.4 is very shallow indeed. Hard to believe about 2m behind the rose is the door to the garden shed. This is one big advantage of blurring the background. Distracting objects behind your subject will disappear into a nice, soft, buttery blend of colour.

The last shot in this post was again taken with a 200mm lens at f2.8. Again, problems with the breeze made focus a challenge, but I liked the background colour, hence opening up the lens.

200mm at f2.8 to get a soft blurry background


Hoverfly in Japanese Anemone

Out in the backyard again with reversed 50mm lens and homemade diffuser I managed to grab a few shots of some hoverflies.

Hoverfly at rest on spent Japanese Anemone flower.

Depth of field is seriously small, and with the lens stopped down it’s not easy to focus. All the same it’s quite good fun when you capture a wee beastie in focus! A few clever people seem to be able to take multiple images, hand held, focused in different places along the body of the insect and then stack them together to get a photo where all the creature is in focus. As you may have guessed, I’m not that skilled!

I use my speedlight with a snoot/diffuser made from old yoghurt pots to illuminate the insect and freeze the action. I must admit that using the snoot/diffuser provides a much more even and less harsh light than using a bare speedlight.

Hoverfly … I’ve always been fascinated with their eyes!

I’ve always been intrigued by the eyes on flies and bees and not until recently did I realise they had more than two eyes. There’s the two big compound eyes that are very obvious, but on the top of their heads they have three more simple eyes. If you look carefully at the two photos above you might just be able to pick them out.

Marple Locks

Between locks 8 and 9 on the Peak Forest Canal at Marple

We’d walked along the Macclesfield Canal a wee while back, and today we headed along the Peak Forest Canal and down the 16 locks starting in Marple. It was lovely. Very picturesque and a great short walk with plenty of photo opportunities. We walked from lock 16 down to lock 1, enjoyed looking at The Marple Aqueduct, and then returned along the same path back to Marple.

Marple Aqueduct with railway viaduct beyond
Marple Aqueduct with railway viaduct beyond

The Aqueduct was opened in 1800 and is the tallest masonary arched aqueduct in the country. The River Goyt, over which the canal passes, is about 100 feet below. Adjacent to the aqueduct is the railway viaduct built by the MS&L Railway (Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway) in 1863.

Walking alongside the canal and enjoying how peaceful and relaxing it was made it hard to believe this was a hive of activity in the transport of freight from the quarries and mills in the area. There are large areas between the locks to accommodate many canal boats and you could imagine long queues of boats ascending and descending the locks. Now, there’s just the occasional pleasure craft.

Marple Aqueduct
Marple Aqueduct

I took my 16-35mm lens, which was ideal when trying to capture all of the viaduct. I must admit I was most impressed with the aqueduct. It never ceases to amaze me how these magnificent structures were created with hard labour and, by today’s standards, basic tools. Not only were these building well built, but they were most elegant, often quite beautiful and seem to fit or belong in their setting. The little cottages alongside the canal are rather lovely too. Definitely worth a visit.

Lock keepers cottage
Lock keepers cottage on the Peak Forest Canal

Bradshaw Brook

Jumbles Reservoir

We often enjoy a walk around the reservoir at Jumbles, but today we took a wee detour down Bradshaw Brook towards Rigby Lane and then back up to Shady Lane. The circuit around the reservoir is quite popular, but the track alongside the brook was peaceful and most enjoyable. The lead photo is a familiar view of the reservoir to most locals and visitors alike, but head along the brook and the scenery is quite different.

Bradshaw Brook near Jumbles

The brook is bordered by lovely established trees on both banks and it is a totally different scene to that of the circuit around the reservoir.

Bradshaw Brook heading towards Rigby Lane

I must admit that it felt more like we were in a rain forest than strolling down an English stream. Very green and lush, and peaceful with just the sound of the water and the birds.

On reaching Rigby Lane we headed over the brook via the bridge then back up the opposite bank of the brook where we enjoyed a better view of the weir. From here it was a short walk back up onto Turton Road and then down Shady Lane. Most pleasant.

Weir on Bradshaw Brook.