Mark Mullen Photography: Blog en-us (C) Mark Mullen Photography (Mark Mullen Photography) Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:43:00 GMT Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:43:00 GMT Mark Mullen Photography: Blog 90 120 My landscape photography truck in use As you may remember with the help of some good friends I have built up a vehicle I can use on my landscape photography expeditions. Based on a 2000 Isuzu Trooper 3.0 diesel LWB I have fitted long range driving lights (ideal for Scotland) mounted on an A bar, 360 degree worklights mounted on the roofrack, a CB, satellite locator, single bed, weather station, insulation to keep me warm at night, winter tyres, uprated batteries to run the lights etc. The truck also carries cooking equipment and a 12 volt shower, for extended periods in the field and an awning to shelter under whilst cooking, kitting up etc.

Today I spent the day on the North York Moors where the shot I wanted didn't happen due to the weather. I did however have some Elinchrom Ranger Quadra battery powered studio flash with me so rather than come home empty handed I decided to take photograph the Trooper in its usual surroundings, in bad weather on the North York Moors.


My Landscape Photography TruckMy Landscape Photography TruckWith the help of some good friends I have built up a vehicle I can use on my landscape photography expeditions. Based on a 2000 Isuzu Trooper 3.0 diesel LWB I have fitted long range driving lights (ideal for Scotland) mounted on an A bar, 360 degree worklights mounted on the roofrack, a CB, satellite locator, single bed, weather station, insulation to keep me warm at night, winter tyres, uprated batteries to run the lights etc. The truck also carries cooking equipment and a 12 volt shower, for extended periods in the field and an awning to shelter under whilst cooking, kitting up etc.

Today I spent the day on the North York Moors where the shot I wanted didn't happen due to the weather. I did however have some Elinchrom Ranger Quadra battery powered studio flash with me so rather than come home empty handed I decided to take photograph the Trooper in its usual surroundings, in bad weather on the North York Moors.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) North Yorkshire Moors landscape photography truck snow Sat, 15 Feb 2014 19:57:42 GMT
Winter Highlands Trip 2014 - Day 4 Today didn't start off too well, to be absolutely honest I slept in. Early mornings are a prerequisite for a landscape photographer and when I saw the time I thought by the time I got on location I'd have missed the action. As always the night before I'd checked The Photographer's Ephermeris  to see what time sunrise and sunset were, however once I got out and about I realised that I'd not taken into account the height of the mountains to the East of my intended location which meant by the time the sun would rise over the mountains was much later than the posted sunrise time. 

I pushed my trusty photography truck on (as much as you can a 2 tonne plus 4x4 full of cameras) and made it to Castle Stalker, near Appin, on the west coast. You may recognise the castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Having recce'd the location earlier in the week I knew where I could park to be quickly down to the shoreline, you may remember in an expedition in November 2012 I parked at the viewing point, some way up the road and had to slip, slide and fall down an overgrown banking to get to the beach, this time there was no such delay.

I set up, composed the shot and got ready, all the while watching the sun come up over my shoulder. All of a sudden the castle went from being fully in shadow to being bathed in golden sunlight. I worked quickly, getting a couple of different compositions, then as soon as it had come the sun went back below a thick blanket of cloud.

My shooting friends (when I was younger I was in the Great Britain Rifle Shooting Team) will know the feeling of pulling the trigger and knowing it is a belting shot, right down the middle. With this photo I had the same feeling, I knew as I pressed the shutter release, long before the shutter closed and the image appeared on the digital back that it was going to be one of my favourite ever shots.

Early Sun, Castle StalkerEarly Sun, Castle StalkerThe first sun of the day illuminates Castle Stalker on Scotland's west coast.

Packing the car back up I headed onwards towards Loch Awe and Castle Kilchurn. Unfortunately the cloud was back with a vengeance, as it stayed through the rest of the day, I tried the Falls of Dochart at Killin, again thick cloud, along Loch Tay, up over Meall Odhar Mor, through Tummel Bridge, Dalchalloch and onto the A9, then off at Dalwhinnie, past the famous distillery and down the banks of Loch Laggan. I had a spot in mind to try and wait for some decent light but when I got there the level of the loch was much higher than the last time I was there in September meaning my spot was underwater! As light fell I turned to another previous spot, Loch Arkaig where I have had success in the past. Sadly the cloud stayed with us meaning it was a no-go.

I am going to have some dinner and keep an eye on the cloud, if it clears I'm going back out into the hills to take advantage of the full moon and do some night photography.

Update - Friday 17th January at 0100 Hrs.

I've just got back in, the cloud looked to be clearing so I kitted up and went out again, only for the cloud to come back in. Still, there is nothing like the amazing solitude of being out on your own in Glen Coe at midnight in a full moon and a snow shower! As I've said before I love that place and being around tonight, instead of feeling quiet and lonely, as it may well to many people, it felt like home.

I even went for a jog out on the moor, I've been using a Fitbit Flex to help me get fitter for photography (my rucksack with 3 camera systems and lenses for each weighs in at 40kg and carrying it up hills and mountains is hard work). This ingenious little wristband measures how many steps I have taken each day, with a target of 10,000 per day (just over 5 miles). Approaching midnight I realised I was on 9600. Being as competitive as I am I couldn't miss my target so pulled up right at the summit of Rannoch Moor, parked up and went for a run about. There was only me, a herd of deer, and driving snow for company. It was quite refreshing and I hit my target! Sadly it wasn't a night for photography, a low cloud hanging over the mountains, but I am glad I was out there anyway. 

Now to bed and ready for an early start in the morning, the met reports look really promising and thanks to a fellow landscape photographer, Paul Bullen, I have a new location to try.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Appin Castle Kilchurn Castle Stalker Falls of Dochart Loch Awe Thu, 16 Jan 2014 19:28:02 GMT
Winter Highlands Trip 2014 - Day 3 Day three of my winter highlands trip started off with grey skies and rain, a theme which continued throughout the day. I started off with a trip to Signal Rock, within Glen Coe. Legend has it the Campbells gave the signal to commence the Glencoe Massacre here. Today it is an enjoyable walk with a short scramble to the summit. Sadly the forestry blocks the view from being spectacular, so the cameras stayed in the bag.

Heading back to the car I climbed down onto the banks of the River Coe where I shot this.

The River Coe at Signal RockThe River Coe at Signal RockThe River Coe at Signal Rock in Glen Coe with Aonach Dubh to the right and Aonach Eagach to the left, photographed on a typically moody day.

As you can see the weather is typically Glencoe, a low cloud and sporadic heavy rain.

Moving on I drove further south, chasing the gap in the clouds I could see beyond Rannoch Moor. Sadly by the time I got there the gap had closed and more low cloud and grey skies were the order of the day.

I headed back to Glen Etive, a favourite of mine and a real road to nowhere, a wandering 14 mile single track road most recently used as the backdrop for a scene in Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. Sadly Skyfall House is a figment of the director's imagination but there is Dalness Lodge, once a family home of Ian Flemming, creator of James Bond.

Just inside the road to Glen Etive there is a creek where the River Coupall flows down in front of the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor. A black and white conversion adds to the drama of this shot.

Buachaille Etive Mòr in WinterBuachaille Etive Mòr in WinterSnow and low cloud shrouds Stob Dearg on Buachaille Etive Mòr in the Scottish highlands, seen from the River Coupall on Glen Etive.

By this time the weather had once again come in, far from unusual for this part of the world. One thing Glen Etive has though is deer, loads of loads of deer, to quote a true Yorkshire phrase, it is running wick with them. On the drive down to Loch Etive I counted 37 deer, many of them majestic stags. They seem quite tame and I had chance to stop the car, go and put a telephoto lens on and grab a shot of this obliging fellow. I'll be honest I'm not a wildlife photographer so forgive me you don't like it.

Red Deer Stag at Glen EtiveRed Deer Stag at Glen EtiveAn obliging Red Deer stag on the Glen Etive road in Glen Coe, Scotland.

I spent an hour sat in the pouring rain in the pass of Glencoe listening to the rain bouncing off the roof and hoping it might clear but alas it didn't. I had a quick spin through Glencoe village and through to Kinlochleven before heading back to my base for the week.

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks a lot more hopeful so I am currently planning where to head. Fingers crossed.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Buachaille Coe Deer Etive Glen Mor Red River Rock Signal stag wildlife winter Wed, 15 Jan 2014 20:58:52 GMT
Winter Highlands Trip 2014 - Day 2 Day 2 of my first big landscape expedition of the year started with a leisurely start, with a week ahead of me I had enough time not to have to be up at the crack of dawn. Unfortunately heading out of Fort William I suffered something which every landscape photographer will understand, a lack of exciting light. As photography is essentially capturing light the right light is critical. For my landscapes I enjoy stormy light, sun, serene colours, most types of light, apart from flat grey overcast, which is exactly what today offered.

Heading towards Mallaig on the A830, the Road To The Isles, I turned off at Kinlocheil and down the banks of Loch Eil, a location which has proved fruitful for me in the past. There was a stunning low mist hanging over the loch but unfortunately the sun never broke through, any photograph would have been purely a snap. I waited and waited but alas the cloud thickened meaning it was a no-go. 

Back in the truck I headed towards Mallaig and to the Glenfinnan Monument. I decamped and had a lovely hike around the banks of Loch Shiel but again there wasn't any decent light. Walking back to the car I disturbed a family group of deer. I was quite close to them when they appeared through the woods, what appeared to be a male, female and fawn. I think they were Roe deer in winter coats, they were a lot more brown than the usual reddish coloured ones you see, if you happen to be a deer expert please let me know. Unfortunately they recognised a telephoto lens being attached and were on their toes and away.

I turned off at Lochailort and followed the road along the loch to Glenuig and on to Kinlochmoidart. Here I got my only shot of the day;

Snow Capped Ceann Loch UachdrachSnow Capped Ceann Loch UachdrachA house nestles in the shadows of Ceann Loch Uachdrach near Ardmolich in the highlands of Scotland, the snow capped peaks and forestry give the scene a layered look.

I liked how the landscape formed layers, and the house nestled in the shadow of the mountain.

From here I carried on  through Salen and towards Ardmurnarchan, this was a bit of a self indulgent trip, I have very fond memories of a family holiday where we rented a cottage at Camus Inas, right on the banks of Loch Sunart, it was so close to the loch that at high tide most of the garden disappeared under water! I was able to see the cottage we rented and nothing appeared to have changed, such is the pace of life in this part of the world.

Heading back towards the Corran Ferry  I stopped and dropped into Resipole Studios where I met Andrew Sinclair who was happy to show me around the superb work, even though he was in the middle of rehanging and reorganising the gallery. It is definitely somewhere I will return on my next trip and urge you to if you are in the area.

Crossing the Corran Ferry I turned right and headed down to Castle Stalker on the offchance that there might be a break in the clouds at sunset, sadly not.  I headed back and recce'd a shot on the banks of Loch Leven, then back to my hotel.

It wasn't a wasted day, it is always great to be out and about in the highlands, and it is simply one of the hazards of being a landscape photographer that some days the camera never leaves the bag. Hopefully tomorrow will be more successful.

Dinner now and an early night, I am going to be out early in the morning.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Ardmunarchan Camus Castle Corran Ferry Glenfinnan Inas Loch Monument Stalker Strontian Sunart light unlucky Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:38:43 GMT
Winter Highlands Trip 2014 - Day 1 Not a huge amount to report from today, day 1 of my first trip to Scotland of 2014. I picked my landscape photography truck up, my good friend and fellow photographer Andy Seagust gave it a check over to make sure I was set, I went home and packed and then set off for Fort William.

It was a fairly uneventful trip, cold out but dry from York till Glasgow where torrential rain came in. By Loch Lomond this had turned to sleet, which stayed with me to Crianlarich where it turned heavier from time to time all the way to Fort William. There was snow on the ground over Rannoch Moor and although a low mist hung over the road I could see the peaks of Glencoe towering above the A82 as I drove up. I may have mentioned it before but I have a real affinity for Glencoe, although I have never lived here, nor have any family from here (that I know of) for some reason it feels like home, as soon as I come around the corner past the Kings House Hotel and Glencoe Mountain Resort I feel a calm descend as if I have come home. Odd.

I was planning to stay in my truck for this trip but then Premier Inn launched their winter sale and for £25 a night I could have a warm bed and a proper shower with a pub and McDonalds within a 5 minute walk. To be honest I didn't have to think for long so here I am, checked in, I stay here that often it feels like a home from home. A quick bite to eat in the attached restaurant and back to my room to unpack, set up wifi access and prep my kit for tomorrow. 

I'm going to have a leisurely start tomorrow and probably a run down to Loch Etive through Glen Etive and possibly a drive back South to Rannoch Moor. Now for an early night.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Fort Glencoe Scotland William expedition highlands landscape photography road trip Mon, 13 Jan 2014 21:39:37 GMT
It's A Tough Job.... My day job is Sales Manager of Specialist Cars of Malton, one of Europe's premier independent Porsche specialists. Recently I was asked by leading sports car website to shoot one of our stock cars, a Porsche 911 Turbo, for an upcoming article, this year being the 50th anniversary year of the iconic 911.

I used my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra battery powered studio flash equipment, a superb piece of kit which I love to use. Essentially you've got the power of a studio flash, in a light portable kit which packs up into a briefcase and can be taken anywhere, even packed into the back seats of a Porsche 911! 

Mixed weather (in North Yorkshire? Surely not!) greeted the day of the shoot, we were interrupted half way through by a tremendous hailstorm, 15mm hailstones bombarded us and left the area looking like it had snowed.

My technique for this shoot was to underexpose the background and light the car with fill flash from the Quadra Rangers. This would give me a correctly exposed foreground with a nice dramatic background. I used a combination of a reasonably small aperture (between f8 and f13) and a graduated neutral density filter (ND Grad) to ensure the sky kept definition and also to add to the drama of the slightly stormy sky.

Porsche 911 Turbo - available to buy as a print or canvasPorsche 930 Turbo Coupe For this shot I laid my tripod nearly flat (a benefit of the Gitzo Explorer I use) to give a different perspective to the usual car photograph. 

Porsche 911 Turbo - available to buy as a print or canvasPorsche 930 Turbo Coupe With this shot the underexposed and filtered sky shows the stormy sky prior to the hailstorm.

The journalist wanted an interior shot, so for this shot I used one of my Quadra Ranger heads laid on the passenger seat, to throw a touch of light onto the dashboard, and one looking over my shoulder as I took the shot to illuminate the steering wheel and instruments, this gives the shot an almost 3D effect.

Porsche 911 Turbo - available to buy as a print or canvasPorsche 930 Turbo Coupe

Having taken photos of each angle of this wonderful sports car the next job was some tracking shots, that is to say shots showing the car moving.

Normally we would hang out of the boot of the camera car to take shots like this but on this occasion I chose to lean out of the car window, which gives a greater degree of safety and security. The key to shots like these is for the car being photographed to match the speed of the camera car, and then use a slow shutter speed to blur the background. If the speed of the two cars is different the shot won't be sharp, get it right and the car is pin sharp whilst the blurred road and background gives a real feeling of speed.

Porsche 911 Turbo - available to buy as a print or canvasPorsche 930 Turbo Coupe The 911 Turbo has really wide hips, which a rear-on shot like this emphasizes.

Porsche 911 Turbo - available to buy as a print or canvasPorsche 930 Turbo Coupe Although this looks tremendously fast it was shot at only 50 or so MPH, the slow shutter speed giving a real feeling of speed.

I was really pleased with the shots, Pistonheads was happy with them and you can read the article here 

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Malton Mark Mullen Photography Porsche 911 Specialist Cars of Malton battery flash location photoshoot studio Sun, 05 May 2013 22:51:04 GMT
Night Time At Salford Quays, Manchester Last week I was waiting for my girlfriend to arrive back from a business trip, into Manchester Airport. Her flight didn't arrive till 10.30pm so I made my way to the redeveloped Salford Quays / Media City area of Manchester.

My recently acquired 24mm TS-E lens lends itself to architectural photography, these images would have exhibited big leans as if the buildings were falling backwards had I not used the shift of the lens to keep the verticals vertical.

I started off at Media City, the BBC's new development to replace their old White City London base.

BBC Media City Manchester - available to buy as a print or canvasMeda City, Manchester

Then I moved on to The Lowry, the theatre and arts complex designed by Michael Wilford, a very striking building.

The Lowry - available to buy as a print or canvasThe Lowry, Manchester The best thing about photographing this area is the owners relaxed approach to photography, which is becoming rarer and rarer due to ridiculous paranoia that photographers might turn out to be secret terrorists. Taken from the Media City developers website:

  • Are the general public permitted to take pictures at/of MediaCityUK?
  • We encourage those wanting to take images of the exterior buildings and public piazza to do so, but please be mindful of events taking place around the area you wish to photograph.

Such an approach should be applauded, the owners of other big developments really should take note, particularly Canary Wharf.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Manchester Media City Salford Quays architectural photography Fri, 19 Apr 2013 14:49:26 GMT
A Blue Day, Ullswater A Blue Day, Ullswater - available to buy as a print or canvasA Blue Day, Ullswater


A beautiful cold afternoon on Ullswater in the Lake District, ice on the rocks and snow on the caps of the distant mountains. I was there to recce some locations for future visits, this has potential for a sunrise shot and I am sure I will return. Usually mid-day sun is quite boring but on this day it was such a beautifully sunny day I thought I could make something of it.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Canon 24mm TS-E Lake District Ullswater shore Thu, 14 Mar 2013 22:19:21 GMT
Ribblehead Viaduct In Snow Ribblehead Viaduct In Snow - available to buy as a print or canvasRibblehead Viaduct In Snow


The iconic arches of the Ribblehead Viaduct stand firm against a biting wind and minus 5 degrees celsius temperatures on a cold March morning.


Another early start this morning, out of York at 4.15am in minus 5 degrees celsius, there had been a smattering of snow in York but no more, I was surprised to find a thick blanket of snow covering the Yorkshire Dales, driving was treacherous at times, I was ahead of the gritters and snowploughs.


Reaching Ribblehead at 6.15 the first light was just spreading across the valley. I got kitted up in cold weather gear, hoody, fleece, fingerless gloves, a Polartec snood, gaiters over my trousers, the whole lot. A short walk down to the bridge and I got set up. 


The wait for the sun was cold (it was minus 4 outside) and sat in the snow watching a hardy dog walker and his faithful Springer making the most of the cold morning. 

As the sun came up the clouds cleared and I was able to get this photo, using my new favourite lens, a Canon 24mm TS-E tilt and shift I used a touch of tilt to maximise depth of field.

To avoid having my shadow in the show I had to lie in the snow, the sun being behind me. I was glad of my cold weather gear. 

A lovely cold morning in a very quiet tranquil place.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Ribbledale Viaduct black and White bridge monochrome winter Tue, 12 Mar 2013 21:47:31 GMT
ND Grad Filters For Landscape Photography Have you ever taken a photograph of what you think will be a gorgeous landscape only to find the sky is completely white with very little, or even no detail, like this?

Ashness Bridge - Blown Sky In this photo the foreground is perfect but we've lost detail in the sky. So we do the obvious, shorten our shutter speed to allow less light in so that the sky isn't too bright. Now we get a photo like this:

Ashness Bridge - Too Dark I'm happy with that sky, unfortunately what we've now got is a foreground, the lovely Ashness Bridge near Keswick in the Lake District, that is way too dark.

This is a common issue for landscape photographers, the scene contains more dynamic range (that is to say the difference in brightness between the darkest foreground and the brightest sky) than the camera can record. The difficulty is that your eyes are much better at making the most of a scene like this than even the best cameras. 

What we need to do is to somehow balance the brightness of the sky and the darkness of the foreground so that both are recorded in the same shot.

One way is to blend both images in Photoshop. This would certainly work in a photo like this where the only movement in the shot is the water. If however there was a few elements moving, maybe waves rolling into a seascape, or any scene with people in them it becomes a lot more difficult to get a convincing result. 

I, and a lot of other landscape photographers, prefer to get as much done in the camera as possible, after all, I'd rather be sat watching the sun come up over Skiddaw on a lovely crisp winter's morning than sat in front of my Macbook in Photoshop trying to make it look right. The answer for us is Neutral Density Graduated Filters, usually abbreviated to ND grads, or just grads. These filters are dark at the top and light at the bottom, allowing you to balance the brightness of the sky against the darkness of the foreground, in one shot.

So, how would we balance out a shot like this?

Ashness Bridge with a Neutral Density Graduated FilterSunrise Over Skiddaw, At Ashness Bridge I used a 3 stop graduated neutral density graduated filter, applied over the sky and mountains in my photograph. This brought the brightness of the sky down to a level where it could be recorded by the camera. With this photo I also used a circular polariser to cut through reflections in the stream, this is best seen in the pool to the bottom of the image;

Sunrise Over Skiddaw, At Ashness Bridge - available to buy as a print or canvasSunrise Over Skiddaw, At Ashness Bridge I favour a British made brand of filters from Lee, an old name in the film and photography industry. Their filters are hand dipped (in the dye) to ensure the best quality. Their Quality Control is rigorous which means that there is sometimes difficulty in getting supply of them; it is worth waiting for them, I've tried all the brands and whilst Lee aren't cheap, they are the best.

So, what do we need? Rather than just send you off to find these I'll link to them at our friends Dale Photographic in Leeds who are one of my closest suppliers of Lee filters.

You will need the following:

  1. A filter holder. Lee call this their Foundation Kit. It has multiple slots so you can stack multiple filters. 
  2. An adaptor ring for each lens you want to use filters on. At the end of your lens there will be a guide to its filter size, usually indicated with a symbol like an O with a strike through it. As a guide my Canon 17-40 takes a 77mm filter whilst my Canon 24mm TS-E takes a 72mm filter. If you're going to use filters on a wide angle lens (as is often the way with landscape photography) I would recommend the wide angle adaptor rings.
  3. The filters themselves.  Filters come in a range of strengths, from 0.3 (one stop) through to 0.9 (three stops). I personally would avoid a one stop, I've not found much use for those. I mainly use a three stop, living in North Yorkshire where the moors are dark coloured heather, and travelling to Scotland with dark coloured rocks there is often quite a big difference between the foreground and sky. Next you can choose between hard and soft edged grads, this refers to how quickly the filter changes from the dark to the light side. I prefer to use hard edged filters for the majority of my shots, I find that with a soft edged grad only the very top of the filter is the stated strength, that can lead to a band of blown (pure white) sky above the line of hills or mountains you're photographing. If you want one filter to start with I'd get a 3 stop hard edged and see how you get on.

So, we've got all the kit, how do we use them? First we've got to work out the difference between the sky and the foreground. Put your camera into spot meter mode, aim at the foreground in aperture priority mode and see what the reading is and remember it. As an example say the camera told you you would need 1/30th at f11. Now aim at the sky and take another reading, imagine this reading is 1/500th at f11. That means there is four stops difference between the sky and the foreground (one stop would be 1/60th for the sky, two stops would be 1/125th, three stops would be 1/250th and four stops is 1/500th). I usually take one away from this figure, to allow for the sky naturally being brighter than the foreground. As such I would use a three stop filter to balance the scene.

Now align your camera (hopefully on a tripod, and using a cable release) to get the composition you want and make sure it is level. In manual exposure mode set the camera to the setting you had for the foreground (1/30th of a second at f11). Focus and switch the lens to manual focus so that you don't knock it as you apply the filter. Now switch on liveview if your camera has it, and, watching the screen, slide the filter into its holder on the front of the lens. If you press the Depth of Field preview button on your camera it will really help show where the gradation lies. Align the gradation with the horizon. Now trigger the shutter with your cable release to take the shot. Check the histogram on the screen of your camera to make sure you've applied enough filtration, there should be a gap at the right hand edge showing you've not blown the highlights. Most cameras have the option of highlight warnings, or blinkies, to tell you where a shot is overexposed to the point of losing detail, these are invaluable.

In time you'll get used to just looking at a scene and in your head working out which filter you want, this just comes with experience.

I hope this gives you a brief starting point with filters, they really are, in my opinion, an essential tool for the landscape photographer. If you have any questions feel free to email me through my website, I'll do my best to help.



]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) filters grads graduated filter guide introduction landscape photography nd neutral density Sat, 09 Mar 2013 18:10:10 GMT
A New Weapon In The Armoury - Canon 24mm TS-E Tilt Shift Lens Today I picked up a new tool for my landscape photography, a Canon TS-E 24mm tilt and shift lens.

By Charles Lanteigne (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In the days before digital photography (and to a lesser extent today by some specialists) photographers used view cameras such as this.

By David (korona view camera 2) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons These cameras had movements, the bellows allowed the lens and front standard to be moved in relation to the film plane. This allowed the photographer to correct for perspective issues. With digital SLR cameras these movements were lost, until Canon released its range of TS-E tilt and shift lenses.

There are two aspects to a tilt and shift lens, in this post I will cover the first, shift (I only collected the lens this afternoon and haven't had chance to take some example photographs for tilt yet!).

Shift is used in several applications, in my photography the two that will be most useful are in correcting converging verticals in architectural photography, and stitching shots to increase resolution and get a wider angle.

Below is a quick grabbed shot of York Minster, taken at 24mm on my Canon 17-40 F4 wide angle lens, this is a conventional lens with no movements.

Canon 17-40 at 24mm, camera angled up to get the Minster in the shot, showing perspective issues. As you can see the Minster appears to be falling backwards, whilst it is an old building and needs continuous work to keep in good condition it isn't in the perilous state that this photo appears to show, the perspective created by tilting the camera upwards to get the whole Minster in shot has given this effect.

Here is the same shot taken on the Canon TS-E 24mm with some vertical shift applied. The camera is levelled horizontally and vertically and then the lens shifted upwards to bring the whole of the Minster in shot. Keeping the camera's sensor (or in a film camera the film plane) parallel to the subject prevents the falling backwards effect.

Canon 24mm TS-E lens with vertical shift applied Whilst there is little artistic merit in these photos I hope they show the potential of a tilt shift lens, I think it will be a very useful thing to own.

As soon as I get chance I will take some shots showing the other aspect of the lens, its ability to tilt.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) 24mm Canon Minster TS-E York correction perspective tilt and shift Fri, 08 Mar 2013 23:26:58 GMT
Early Morning In The Lake District Having moved back to York I am finding it quite a bit easier to get out to different locations. This morning I went to Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District. I left at 4.30am, was in Keswick by 6.10am just around first light. 

On arriving at Castlerigg I got kitted up in cold weather gear, the outside temperature was -4 degrees Celsius and there was quite a frost on the ground. At times like this I wear a pair of neoprene fishermans gloves which allow the thumb and forefinger of each hand to be revealed making camera controls easy whilst keeping the rest of your hands warm.

I set up my first shot with the sun to my left, which was still well below the horizon. At times like this I really should use my spotmeter to work out the shutter speed required but to be honest you get a feel for it and I tend not to bother. This shot I gave just less than 3 minutes which worked out right.

Castlerigg Stone Circle At Dawn - available to buy as a print or canvasCastlerigg Stone Circle At Dawn

For my next shot I moved around so that the sun was coming up behind me, its first light illuminating the stones and the tops of the distant snow capped peaks. Full moon was only a couple of days ago so it was still large in the sky. Normally elements are better positioned on the thirds of an image but with this one I thought having the moon centrally above would work. As Castlerigg is such a mystical place the presence of a nearly full moon seemed to suit it.

Castlerigg Stone Circle In Moonlight - available to buy as a print or canvasCastlerigg Stone Circle In Moonlight Finally I always try and find a different angle, in a location as picturesque as Castlerigg it would be easy to get absorbed with the stones themselves and miss other shots. A short walk across the field brought me to a dry stone wall overlooking a misty valley. I used the wall to lead the eye into the photo and the vivid sunrise colours gives the shot a nice relaxing feel.

Sunrise Over High Rigg - available to buy as a print or canvasSunrise Over High Rigg Whilst out at Castlerigg I met a few other photographers, which is always nice to meet likeminded people. I hope you all got the photos you wanted. One chap I met was Duncan Heavisides who has a good website, have a look here 

Finishing up at 7.30 the sun was now too high in the sky to get the best light. I took the decision to get home and catch up on some sleep, in a location as good as the Lake District is would be easy to spend the rest of the day wandering about ruing the lack of good light. I preferred to get home, catch up on some sleep and get processing the shots from the day. I will be back again to the Lakes, there is no point, in my opinion, wasting the day trying to work with poor quality light and wasting such an amazing location.

I set off back to York and was home by 9.30am, stopping off at my mum's house to say hello, she made me the finest bacon, sausage and black pudding sandwich which was the perfect finish to a good morning of photography (thanks Mum!).

Depending on my schedule, and of course the weather, I think Ullswater is on the menu next week.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Castlerigg Stone Circle Lake district landscape photography sunrise Thu, 28 Feb 2013 23:06:51 GMT
Good News - The Truck Lives! You may have followed the story of how I built an expedition truck for my photography which subsequently blew up on its first proper outing to Scotland.

I've now got the truck back, with another new engine (the interim new engine was also broken!) and running well.

I've got a few more bits to do to it before its next big mission (snorkel, satphone etc) but I've done a few miles in it to shake it down and it is running well. One mod I had to do is to put a bracket on the CB aerial so I can fold it down, where I park at home there is a height restriction and initially it was far too tall. Now as I approach home I stop, fold the aerial flat to the roof and drive in.

I'm looking forward to getting out and using the truck.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) expedition landscape photography rebuild truck vehicle Tue, 26 Feb 2013 16:13:49 GMT
Sunrise Over Skiddaw, At Ashness Bridge Sunrise Over Skiddaw, At Ashness Bridge - available to buy as a print or canvasSunrise Over Skiddaw, At Ashness Bridge


I had a spare day so decided, at the last minute, to head over to the Lake District. Living in York means I am an hour closer than I used to be living in Scarborough which makes it a lot easier. 


Leaving the house at 4.25am and heading through York there was very few people about, a couple of drunks and the binmen. I headed for one of my favourite spots, Borrowdale, just South of Keswick and alongside Derwentwater.


I got to Keswick for about 6.15am, there was just the faintest light in the sky and I had to set my gear up by the light of my headtorch (an invaluable item to have with you). I took some shots of the famous jetty before heading up the slippery icy road to Ashness Bridge. I'd been here before but in the daytime when the whole area was full of tourists and the light was harsh so I knew the layout and had a mental image of the shot I wanted. 


Clambering over the wet rocks I got into position, levelled the tripod up, got my filters set up and waited for the light to come to me. I used a Lee 105mm Circular Polarising filter to cut through the reflections on the water and wet rocks, a 3 stop hard edged ND grad and a 3 stop soft edged ND grad together to control the difference in brightness between the morning sky and the rocks and bridge which would be in shadow.


As I sat there in the gloom, grabbing chance for some breakfast I heard a movement on the banking above and saw a red squirrel, only the second one I've ever seen (the first I nearly flattened when he ran out in front of my car on the road between Fort William and Skye on one of my trips last year). He came close and stood with his head on one side watching me set up, he seemed quite intrigued by this madman sat in freezing cold water waiting for the sun to come up.


I waited over an hour for the light to get to where I wanted, the distant peaks of Skiddaw catching the first rays of light and the clouds turning a beautiful colour. I shot a coupe of frames with different cloud positions, this was my favourite. 


I think it was worth getting up early and braving the cold, I hope you agree.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Ashness Bridge Borrowdale Dawn Derwentwater Lake District Landscape Skiddaw early morning Thu, 21 Feb 2013 21:28:21 GMT
York Minster York Minster in the late afternoon sun - available to buy as a print or canvasYork Minster


Late afternoon sunlight hits York Minster and the city's historic Bar Walls. One of the benefits of moving back into the centre of York is being able to walk out and take shots of the city. I waited an hour for the later afternoon sun to hit the Minster for this shot during which I gave directions, advised tourists on which hotel to book and took a group photo for some Japanese tourists.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Bar Walls York York Minster photography Fri, 15 Feb 2013 21:09:18 GMT
Right Place, Right Time A lot of being a landscape photographer is being in the right place at the right time. For every amazing vivid sunrise you see photographed here there will be a trip where the cloud never lifted and the camera never made it out of the bag. Being out very early in the morning doesn't come easily to me, I'm not really a morning person, I sit in the car with my coat pulled up wishing I was back in bed for at least the first half an hour of an early start, this feeling is made worse when you realise you've wasted your time and the light and weather isn't going to play ball. Still, it is nice to be out and about and eventually I wake up and enjoy being the only one moving about. 

Days can be the same, it is often said that a good landscape photograph can only be taken in the first and last hours of daylight, and whilst the light tends to be better at those times I believe that if you work at it, and luck is on your side, you can get good shots in the middle of the day.

Thursday I set off from my new home of York (I moved on the 27th December, just to make things more exciting) for the Yorkshire Dales. I took my mum for a run out and we left her house at about 9.30. We initially headed up the A59, for once I had no fixed plan in my mind of where I wanted to go, just that I wanted to get back out with a camera, having been a little ill, having moved house and with Christmas I'd not been out for a while.

As we passed Harrogate and on to Blubberhouses Moor (no, really!) the fog began to close in. The interesting thing was that I could see the top of the fog, checking the temperature gauge on the car as we climbed up the hill I realised there was an inversion, at low level the temperature was 1 degree celsius, at the top of the hills it was 3 or 4 degrees. 

I tried a sideroad off Blubberhouses which resulted in a shot of a tree in a hoar frost (I'll post that some other time) but I couldn't get above the cloud like I wanted.

I set course for the Yorkshire Dales, still hopeful I might get what I wanted.

As we climbed out of Settle and Langcliffe onto the tops through the cloud I could see the sun beginning to break through as the temperature rose back to 4 degrees. As we burst out of the cloud into a beautiful sunny day I realised I would get what I wanted, a cloud inversion. A fellow photographer, Terry Abraham, explains a cloud inversion far better than I could on his site

I quickly got set up and captured these two;

Cloud Inversion on the Yorkshire Dales - available to buy as a print or canvasYorkshire Dales Cloud Inversion and

Yorkshire Dales Cloud Inversion - available to buy as a print or canvasLangcliffe Cloud Inversion

After I'd taken these two I jumped back in the car as the cloud had risen. I was on a race against the clock to get some more shots before the sun burnt through the cloud. Further towards Arncliffe I stopped again, at this bottom of a valley is Cowside Beck, the valley was steep sided and it was a slightly dangerous scramble down to get the composition for this one. With its variety of textures I thought colour would just confuse this one so went for a black and white conversion;


Arncliffe Cloud Inversion - available to buy as a print or canvasCloud Inversion, Yorkshire Dales

Taking this shot I could see trees at the edge of the cloud peeping out, a short run down the road saw me greeted with this sight.

Trees in the mist - available to buy as a print or canvasFog In The Trees, Yorkshire Dales For this shot I used the longest lens I had with me, a 135mm F2, coupled to a 1.4x converter to give a focal length of 189mm. This compresses the scene. Having taken this shot I could see a sheep grazing on the field in front of me. This field was bathed in light whilst the trees and fields behind were both shrouded in mist and in shadow giving an interesting contrast;

Sheep in the frost and fog - available to buy as a print or canvasSheep In Frost & Fog, Yorkshire Dales

I kept the same setup as the previous shot but with a much bigger aperture, f2.8, which meant the distant hills and foreground were both defocussed and concentrated the eye on the sheep. I had to clap, wave and whistle to get the sheep's attention!


All in all a great day out and truly a case of being in the right place at the right time.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Mark Mullen Photography North Yorkshire Yorkshire Dales cloud inversion fog landscape photography mist Sat, 12 Jan 2013 10:49:38 GMT
Happy New Year A very happy new year to all my friends, with moving house back to York and Christmas, plus not feeling well I've not been out much with a camera recently, I will get back to it ASAP.

In the meantime I hope everyone has a great New Year, and thanks for your continuing support.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Happy New Year Mon, 31 Dec 2012 11:15:00 GMT
My Christmas Present To You - Digital Calendar 2013 As a little thank you to all my friends for your support over the last year I have put together a digital calendar for you to use.

Click here and you will be taken to the calendar. To download the current month simply click the thumbnail and click the download button at the top, that will download the file to your computer so you can use it as your desktop background.


]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) 2013 calendar desktop digital download free landscape photography monthly Thu, 20 Dec 2012 22:19:50 GMT
Happy Christmas! Happy Christmas!Happy Christmas!

As the year draws to a close I wanted to say Happy Christmas to all my friends, followers and contacts. Thank you all for your support over 2012, I hope your year has been a good one and you have a great Christmas and New Year.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Happy Christmas festive shallow depth of field Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:26:14 GMT
Sunlight On Sand Ripples, Scarborough South Bay Sunlight On Sand Ripples, Scarborough South BaySunlight On Sand Ripples, Scarborough South Bay

As the sun rises over Scarborough's South Bay a golden light is cast on ripples in the sand created by the tide.

]]> (Mark Mullen Photography) Scarborough South Bay sunrise ripples Sun, 09 Dec 2012 11:02:16 GMT