Monday, December 28, 2009

A couple of hours in Folkestone

A recent business trip gave me the opportunity to make a short excursion to Folkestone on the south east coast of Kent in England. With a population of around 53,500 it's main attraction is as a seaside town with an extensive beach (of shingle!), a quaint harbour and cliffs above the beach (The Leas). December is clearly not the time for a usual seaside sortie, but does have the advantage of very few people and free parking even along the beach front! As I was travelling light for business, I didn't have one of my trusty but bulky Olympus SLR cameras, but instead an SP-510UZ point and shoot - Olympus of course, being loyal to the brand! The weather was cold and brisk, but I was treated to quite nice afternoon light, just right for photography. So here goes with a quick series of grab pics that hopefully gives an impression of the town and photo opportunities to be had.

Until the 19th century Folkestone remained a small fishing community with little respite from storms, making boat landings difficult. The harbour was built in 1820, providing a safe haven for boats and trade and the population increased as a result. In the 1840's the South Eastern Railway Company bought the harbour and constructed a rail line down to the pier. The principle use was servicing cross channel steamers plying between Folkestone and Boulogne. In the panorama shot below (stitch of four images), you can clearly see the railway viaduct. Tide was out, but I reckon that adds character to the shot.

[ISO 100, 1/100s, f8; panorama stitched from 4-images using Photomerge in Photoshop CS2]

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cinder Cone, Lassen Volcanic Park, California

In planning a trip to at least one National Park during an August visit to California, a friend advised to avoid the popular spots such as Yosemite and Sequoia and instead head further north to Lassen Volcanic Park in the Sacramento Valley. Here's the co-ordinates for those initiated in GPS: 40° 29′17″N, 121° 30′18″W. I was certainly not disappointed, spending a good two days in the Park and taking a bucket full of pictures with my trusty old (by digital camera standards) Olympus E-500 camera. To boot, an added bonus was encountering very few people, despite it being peak holiday time in the USA. For this post I focus on one of the features of Lassen Volcanic Park - the Cinder Cone; I'll probably cover some other parts of the Park in future posts. For me this turned out to be an awesome place with a lunar landscape quality and while exploring the cone, didn't see more than a dozen people all day, and three of those were Park Rangers! So here's some pics and narrative of a trip up the Cinder Cone starting at Butte Lake in the northeast of the Park. The round trip is about 4 miles and you need to allow at least 4 hours to take in the scenery and of course grab lots of pictures!

Cinder Cone is a marvellously symmetrical 700 ft (213 m) high cone of loose volcanic rock (called scoria). The cone was formed from a series of eruptions that occurred between 1630-1670.

[Zuiko 14-45mm f3.5-5.6; ISO 100, 1/40s at f5.6]