Rammell Photography

Surrey Wedding Photographer

34: Virginia Water Cascade & Swans

Blogging General, Landscape, Long Exposure, NatureMichael RammellComment

Hi all and welcome to post 34 here on the Rammell Photography blog. 

This week we were lucky enough to have a bank holiday weekend here in the UK, meaning we had Monday 6th May off as a public holiday! Another days rest for many, but for me it was an opportunity to get out and take some photographs whilst there wasn't a wedding to be photographed.

Seeing as I've recently launched a series of fun and educational Photo Walks with Neil Graham I decided to take a trip to Virginia Waters in Surrey to map the place out. In addition to Richmond Park, It's a location we're considering for future photo walks; giving you the perfect opportunity to photograph both beautiful Swans, Mandarin Ducks and other wildlife, as well as the notorious Virginia Waters Cascade.

If you're interested in a photo walk or would like more information you can click the 'Photo Walks' tab in the menu. Or, as always you can Contact Me. 

So, I set the alarm for 4.15 and made my way to Virginia Waters to see what I could photograph to show you exactly what sort of things you could see on one of our upcoming Photo Walks.

The Virginia Water Cascade

I arrived at Virginia Waters around 4.45am. At this point the car park was still locked so instead I parked in a lay-by just opposite. It's free to park too, so, that's another bonus. Seeing as the sun was still rising and I was hoping to get some long exposure shots of the cascade I headed in that direction first. If it was too bright I wouldn't be able to slow my shutter speed down enough in order to to show the motion of the water. This is the cascade: (Click play to view the video)

So, as you can see that's the cascade 'in motion'. You can see how the water falls. But, if you take a camera designed to capture a still image and leave that shutter open for extended period of time, for example half a second, you get a result that looks more like this:

This is long exposure. In a 'normal' still photograph the shutter on the camera (If you're using a DSLR) is usually open for 1/60th of a second or more. It's the incredibly fast speed of the shutter freezes the action. This is why when you are shooting in 'P' (auto) mode on your camera you may find that either the built-in flash pops up, or the images are blurry. The camera is trying to determine the best settings to use. Typically is will show down the shutter speed to let in more light so you have a bright enough image. The trade-off is that the slow shutter speed give you a blurry image.  The built-in flash pops up because the camera thinks it can use that to introduce more light. Again there is a trade off here too - that being that the horrible built-in flash gives your subjects red-eye or just lights them extremely badly.

These are all things that you will learn on a Photo Walk too. So sign up here if you want to know more. 

Beautiful Swans

Another mainstay of Virginia Waters are the beautiful swans. These elegant birds grace the lake, but can take some finding. On previous visits to Virginia Waters I would head towards the Totem Pole and find them nesting in the lake there, however on this occasion they weren't to be found.

I walked further around the lake and noticed that a small group of swans had made their way to the middle of the lake, and some to the other side of the lake (where I had just come from!). I continued to walk around the lake and head to where I was initially. Fortunately though I didn't have to get back to where I started. A few minutes more and I stumbled across a couple of Swans nesting. Quietly, I made my way to the edge of the lake and squatted down. I mounted my camera onto the tripod and decided to make another short video: 

The Swans did start to get a little uncomfortable with me being there so I decided to back off a little bit and let them be. As I was moving away one of the two swans from the video jumped into the lake, leaving the other on it's own:

Nesting Swan - Too early!

The other swan, the one that was now in the lake didn't go too far though. He (or she) stuck around, just having a drink and bathing. This swan seemed quite happy to be photographed and I managed to make a few photos: (Click each image to enlarge)

So, a satisfying morning resulting in a handful of decent photographs. For now I'll leave you with a few videos: you can head over to my YouTube Channel where I have posted all of these, and more.

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Until next week, enjoy your weekend, whatever you're doing.

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