Summer Holiday Snaps

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Firstly congratulations to Michael Crowley for winning July’s ‘Black and White’ Photo Challenge. Don’t forget this month’s Summer Holiday Snaps Challenge winner will be announced at the start of September, so make sure you submit your entry before the closing date of 10th September to be in with a chance of winning!

For this month’s Expert Advice article our resident photographer, Phil Surbey, set himself the task of capturing Summer holiday snaps.

Well, the mercury has been high, so it must be time you took a ‘Summer Holiday’ – if you haven’t already – and so that’s the theme for our monthly article and Photo Challenge competition. This month I have included a mix of shots taken recently and some from a few years back. If you are going to enter, feel free to take a new photograph or give me your best shot from a previous holiday. Obviously, I’m looking for something special, not just a nice family snap!

Whenever I go away on holiday, the first thing in my bag is of course my camera outfit. This includes a spare battery, charger, lens cleaning cloths, sufficient SD cards, my mini tripod and a mixture of filters. I always carry a polarising filter, neutral density graduations and a sunset filter too – it’s always best to prepare for all eventualities. Having said that, once when we were away I shot a great sunset using my wife’s graduated sunglasses over my lens as a filter!

Basically, try to keep your camera with you whenever you are exploring new places – you can never know when a great shot may present itself. Take the shot presented here of the lifeboat being pulled up the beach, which I shot at Aldeburgh in Suffolk.

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I was literally out for a stroll along the water’s edge in early July when in roared the lifeboat, out of nowhere. I quickly whipped out my camera as a caterpillar-track came to meet it and I took a number of shots, but this one is my favourite. That’s due to the active body language of the crew – particularly the guy pulling the sleeper into position. Luckily, too, the dramatic sky really helps set the scene. This was shot on my LUMIX G5 with the kit lens; no Photoshop, this is just straight out of the camera.

The next shot was also taken during my summer holiday in Aldeburgh, early one morning while I was walking up to buy the morning paper and some croissants for our breakfast. The beach was deserted apart from the hardy souls out for their morning swim! I think this shot is just a simple composition that works. I used a G1 graduated filter on the lens to darken the sky, then I slightly increased the contrast later in post-production.

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Perhaps in stark contrast to the English coast, here are three shots taken in the Caribbean. This was a few years ago, using my old but trusty GF1, with the 20mm prime lens attached. On this occasion I had a circular polariser attached to my lens.

For those of you who might not have experimented with polarising filters, the effect basically depends on how you adjust it – rotating the front element – to darken the sky and remove reflections. So, if you’re shooting the sea, the sky reflects blue into it but by rotating the polariser, you can adjust the filter to give you a greater contrast between the sky and the water beneath. These filters can be particularly useful for landscape shots, taking the blue sky’s reflected light out of the green rolling hills and so on. A lot of architectural photographers use polarisers.

Another four of these shots were all taken back in Britain at a Dunfuinary cottage, situated on Loch Etive in Connel, Scotland. This was another July a few years back and I was using my G5 with a mixture of lenses, from the 7-14mm to the 45-200mm. This is a staggeringly beautiful location and the source of many great sunset shots that I treasure. This one is pretty much straight out of the camera – I knew the sky that evening was just perfect as it was – whereas otherwise I happily added my sunset grad filter on the lens.

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Whenever I am staying somewhere really stunning, I go out of my way to take some proper, ‘good’ shots – after all, you’re usually there from dusk till dawn so you can pick the best time of day for a dedicated shoot. In this case, I contacted the owner of the rather nice property and offered him carte blanche for the use of the pictures if he let allowed me to shoot it. He was, to say the least, very happy to be approached – so much so he offered me his cottage free for a return holiday and he is still using my shots online to promote his holiday let. Enthusiasm for a good subject goes a long way and it is always worth asking politely!

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So, whether you plan to holiday in the UK or further afield, follow my golden rule and always ensure you have your camera, and preferably your whole kit, to hand. You never know when a great shot is lurking round the corner!

Anyway, I’m just off out to try out my new camera. Those really nice guys at Panasonic have just sent me the new GX7 with its 20mm f1.7 lens and I can’t wait to try it out. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday all of you – and don’t forget to send me your very best shot afterwards for the chance to win a great prize. You know how much I love judging your entries in the Photo Challenge every month.

Good luck, enjoy the holidays and happy snapping!


Keep an eye out for more of Phil’s summer holiday snaps in the forum!

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