I have photographed in Northumberland a number of times over the past few years both on the coast and in the national park, staying with my sister at Amble by the Sea (a great spot for exploring the county) but as she’s due to move back to Yorkshire soon I quickly planned in another two day shoot before the chaos of packing boxes set in!
The weather wasn’t too favourable with cloudy skies and the risk of rain so I’d been thinking of sticking to the coast and shooting moving water or beach details but also looked into waterfalls that I’d never visited up in the national park. Linhope Spout sounded like a good choice, so we headed up to the Breamish Valley near Ingram on the first day and took the 45 minute hike up to the waterfall.
The rain held off and the conditions were lovely for waterfall photography. Recent rains meant that Linhope Burn was a raging torrent, but there was also a bit of nice peaty colour in the water off the moorland. I was also trying out my recently acquired Olympus OM-D E-M5 II on its first proper shoot (yes, following on from my earlier post on trying out the Olympus 12-40 PRO lens, I have now switched completely to Olympus from the Canon 5D MkII!) so one of the first things I wanted to do was ignore the manual and try the high-res shot mode with a moving water subject (because of the way it works, moving the sensor and combining images it’s not recommended for moving subjects). It actually worked reasonably well – the first shot of the two similar ones above is the high-res 40 megapixel one made from several shots at 1/25s. It looks more like a 1 second shot and is OK for on-screen viewing, but looking at it critically you do get artefacts that look a little like hatch lines in some of the areas where the detail of the moving subject has been combined, so it wouldn’t be suitable for a big print. Not bad though! The second shot for comparison is a single 16 megapixel image at 1/13s.
As I like shooting blurred moving water I also wanted to try out options for longer exposures without stopping the PRO lens down too much. The low ISO setting (approx ISO 100) on the Olympus seems to be fine for giving an extra stop of exposure but, as the second waterfall shot was 1/13s at f11 the only way to get something longer was to look at filtration – so the image of the lichen covered tree and Linhope Burn was taken with a 10 stop ND filter (the B+W 110M) which was probably going a bit too far, but as an exercise it was nice to be able to get a 15 second exposure at f8!
The following day offered similar conditions but with a much higher risk of rain, so it was definitely a day for staying closer to Amble. I’d explored most of the beaches nearby at one time or another from Druridge Bay up to Craster with the notable exception of Boulmer beach, so we paid Boulmer a visit.
The tide was in but receding, gradually exposing the rocks of the natural harbour, including some fantastic colourful rocks near the top end of the beach which made great abstract detail subjects.
This was where the high-res shot mode on the E-M5 II came into its own – with the static rocks and the camera on a solid tripod it was easy to make a 7296 x 5472 pixel image with perfect detail when viewed at 100% so ideal for making a very large print. My processed Photoshop document weights in at a hefty 123Mb though, so I won’t be using it all the time, but it’s very impressive and was a nice way to finish off the Northumberland trip.