With most of the year over and not a lot likely to be happening in December I thought it might be an ok time to look back over my photographic year and pick out my favourite shots by category. I’ve tried a lot of different stuff this year and been generally pleased with the results. I defintely feel I’ve improved as a photographer which is what pleases me most.
Up until a week ago this would have been won by one of the Newhaven lighthouse shots I took this year but at the last minute I reckon this sunset from Calton Hill tied it for my top sunset shot so I’ll nominate the pair of them.
No contest in this one, I only manged a single sunrise all year but luckily, I do like it a lot. From the Cramond causeway.
This long exposure shot of the wreck on the breach at Longniddry in East Lothian is my clear favourite, the Heliopan 10 stopper put such a nice colour on the shot.
In the city
I liked this one as it took me about 3 goes to get the shot I wanted, that’s going back 3 nights in a row, not taking 3 shots…
This shot of the Scottish Executive building reflecting in Victoria Quay on a still night was a real high point. A single exposure with the zoom effect coming from twisting the zoom during exposure.
Another shot from the Cramond causeway gets the vote here. I figured out how to time the tide coming up the causeway fairly accurately this year so got a few variations on this shot.
I really felt I started to make some good inroads with my macro photography this year and this shot taken lying flat on my back in the Botanics was my favourite of the year.
I got a fair few decent insect shots this year, this bluebottle I stalked in the Botanics for ages and got a stack of shots.
I’ve got this one on a huge canvas in my hall, enough said.
Danbo didn’t get so much of an outing this year but I reckon the Buttercup Bokeh shot was the best of the year.
Contenders in this category had to be from either my Lensbaby, digital Holga or M42 something or other lens, and the winner was… the lensbaby.
I’ve done a stack of street stuff this year thanks to my side project Real Edinburgh, this was one of my favourites.
Normally this would be a railings shot, I have a thing about photographing railings. I liked this shot of chained up bikes taken during the festival though.
I took stacks of mono stuff this year, especially when I was learning long exposures. This from Calton Hill is one of the standouts to me.
The Red Arrows performing in Edinburgh was a highlight of the year and not something I’ll forget in a hurry, however I think this shot from the Leuchars Airshow pips the Edinburgh shots to the post.
I love photographing fireworks and hiking 2 SLR’s, 2 tripods, 6 lenses and various other bits and bobs up Arthurs Seat for the festival fireworks this year really paid off.
Finally, my wee dog, Scrappy, always features heavily in my photography. This is my favourite of him this year, soaking wet on a beach in Berwick with the mother in laws dog in the background.
With the recent purchase of a 2nd ten stop filter I finally had a chance to compare 2 of the them side by side. My original filter, a Heliopan ND3.0 has been well used and was a very good buy. However, the screw in can be cumbersome especially if you recompose for any reason.
The big problem with a screw in 10 stopper is that with it in place you can’t see anything at all through the viewfinder. This means you need to remove the filter to recompose and attach again for the shot. Either that or guess the composition, ramp up the ISO, take a test shot of a few seconds and adjust till you get the composition and then drop down to a low ISO and take the shot. Neither that handy if I’m honest.
Hence, the attraction of a slot in 10 stopper. In a perfect world I’d have bought a Lee Big Stopper, a proven product. Sadly, the Lee filter is almost impossible to get hold of right now thanks to supply issues at Lee and 2nd hand items are going for nearly double the price on ebay. Facing either nearly £200 for a Lee or a 6 month wait I opted for the new Hitech Pro Stopper.
Hitech claim this filter is made of a new IR resistant resin and they also claim to have fixed the light leak issues of the old filter by adding a 1.5mm gasket (for Lee holders, 3mm for Hitech holders). The filter comes in it’s own pouch and does seem pretty well made. Price is reasonable at £72 from TeamworkPhoto. TeamworkPhoto also supplied by Heliopan at a cost of £92 for the 77mm version.
So, how do they compare side by side?
This was a shot taken one after the other in dull conditions. Both shots were 90s exposures with a Hitech 150 0.9 GND in front of the 10 stopper. Same ISO, same lens, same f setting etc etc. The shot is a straight conversion of the RAW file to jpg for each with no PP applied.
As you can see, the Hitech does have a pronounced blue cast compared to the Heliopan which has a slightly warm cast but much better colour reproduction. Casts are not that hard to remove but obviously there is a lot less work to do with the Heliopan. The blue cast however, might be desirable in seascape type shots.
The Hitech also seems to let in slightly more light that the Heliopan, maybe not quite a full 10 stops? Other than that, all other areas of performance seem fairly equal.
So, it comes down a choice between the convenience of the slot in filter vs the colour reproduction of the screw in filter. Shooting for B&W, the slot in will be fine. Shooting for colour, I’d go with the fiddly screw in every time.
I’m going to keep the Hitech filter though, it’s got a place to be used where the screw in maybe isn’t convenient. The Hitech too unlike the other popular 10 stoppers in the market isn’t glass, it’s resin which should make it far less likely to end up in a million bits on some slippy rocks somewhere!