Ashton Court, Trees and Panormas

Last weekend, after having lunch with my friend and his family, I trotted over to Ashton Court to play with my long lens some more and get some shots to practice stitching panoramas. The day was bright, although cold, and it seemed lots of people were taking advantage of the nice day to get some fresh air. The car park at Ashton Court was a gamble as the recent wet weather had turned the mud and grass into a squidgy mess and one car was already stuck and unable to get out. I managed to find what I hoped would turn out to be a relatively dry area, drove in, and prayed that on my return I would be able to drive just as easily out again.

I sometimes get weird looks when out with all my camera gear as my tripod is normally straped to what is very obviously a large camera bag and this day was no exception. On cresting the hill there was what appeared to be a large meet-up for power kiters (or whatever the collective noun for people being pulled around by a kite is) rushing around on ether land sleds or the off-road skateboards you can get. I stopped for a while to watch and take a few pictures but I didn't want to get too close and create a hazard or get myself knocked down.

Continuing along the track I decided to branch off and go explore the wooded area. I was looking for something that might be interesting to photograph that would not normally be photographed. There were quite a lot of ruined stone buildings and after wandering around decided on a spot that I hoped would give something interesting.

Crumbled Stone Walls: The remains of a building inside the grounds of Ashton Court.Crumbled Stone Walls: The remains of a building inside the grounds of Ashton Court.

While wandering I also came across a patch where one of the trees had much lighter leaves than its surroundings and was also highlighted nicely with the sun through the trees. I tried to capture it but I don't think I managed to do it justice. I definitely prefer the first picture to the second.

Bright Spot: An odd lighter coloured tree among the standard greens.Bright Spot: An odd lighter coloured tree among the standard greens.

Ashton Court has a small deer park in the grounds and I attempted to take some shots using the long lens my mother let me have a Christmas. I've had a sneaky suspicion that this lens was giving very soft blurry images but figured I'd give it one more try in case I just could not get the manual focus right. After taking many 'ever so slightly blurred' pictures of deer I feel that now I can finally say that it's the lens and not me that is making them blurry / soft focus. It's a shame as with my Canon 300D the 500mm lens becomes the equivalent of approximately 800mm. An equivalent new lens would cost thousands. I'll have to think how I can use the soft focus to enhance the photo rather than fight against it.

As the sun was starting to go down, I made my way back towards my car. Finally it was time to get some shots to practice stitching panoramas. I believe I was overlooking the Ashton Vale area of Bristol when I set up my tripod although I'm not sure exactly which way I was facing. The resulting panorma is not visually the most stunning. I was attempting to perfect the stitching rather than going for an amazing photo (I'd definitely clone out the odd branches in the top rght hand corner for example). The thumbnail below links to a reduced in size version. I've also linked a copy of the full size original as a JPG so you can see all the buildings in their glorious 'bigness'. The original psd is over 100MB and I can see panoramas being something that will quickly fill up my hard drive if I'm not careful and tidy with how I handle them!

View over Ashton Vale: Practicing stitching panoramas together using some shots taken overlooking what I think is Ashton Vale (I was unsure which way I was facing at the time).View over Ashton Vale: Practicing stitching panoramas together using some shots taken overlooking what I think is Ashton Vale (I was unsure which way I was facing at the time).

The compression seems to bring out the joins slightly in the sky but they disappear better on the large version (at least with my monitor settings ;-) ) I'd take more time getting them to match on a more attractive panorama. The large version is 6955 x 1964px and is around 3.3MB.

panorama_ashton_vale_full.jpg3.3 MB


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Pat from Canvey's picture

Black & White

Sorry Kat
I just don't like the black and white pictures because for me they lose the high definition from colour and I am a colour person. The beauty is in the range of colour as well as the forms included in the pictures and forms for me have to be simple if the colour is lost. I don't think landscape of this sort lends itself to black and white. Also I've noticed as my eyes age, I need the change in colour and tone to accurately identify what I'm looking at. You would never do a sunset in black and white would you as that would defeat the object of trying to describe the splendour of the sky.
As far as the lens goes, does it need reajusting a little as we did before? The prior adjustment was only meant to see if it improved matters at all and it clearly did, so try taking it a little more.

kat's picture


It's interesting that you say that as I was looking more at the contrasts in the pictures rather than the colours (they were mostly what I considered boring shades of green). Your previous comment indicated that you were looking more at the forms inside the picture than the more abstract view that I was taking of just colours alone. We appear to have discovered an interesting difference in the way that we both view the same thing! :-)

As to the lens I don't think adjusting it will make any difference. I was much below the infinity point of the lens and resting it on the fence to provide a stable point for the shot and still ended up with slightly blurred / soft focussed images. I've tried it on the birds outside my lounge window and got the same problem. I think partly it my be just that the lens on a film camera would be acceptable but when viewing the digital image (which tends to be larger than the 5x4 of a photograph) you can see the softness in the image. I'm not sure what they would look like when displayed at 300dpi printed - maybe they'd look OK?

I think if I can think of some ways that I could use the inherent softness as part of the image to make it better rather than a quality failing that would be good.

Any ideas?

Pat from Canvey's picture


My problem was that I couldn't distinguish the forms in the black and white photos. Maybe its a function of aged eyes. Try for comments on some of your older friends and see whether its a function of age rather than personal prefereance. John says that when we were young, all photos were black and white and colour was a revelation. Whats more, the black and white we got in those days wasn't as good as the black and white you get now with the advances in cameras.

kat's picture


It's OK not to like them. I won't be offended! I get so little feedback on any of my photos that it's difficult to know what's gone right and what doesn't quite work the way I intended. You get too close to look at your own photos objectively sometimes. I guess this is another interesting difference between the way we view things. Black and white imagery is the novelty to me. I've always seen photos in colour. Black and white is from the 'olden - days' and rarer... ;-)