Chamonix

Outdoor portraiture.

Getting a decent portrait shot when you are outside in the middle of the day can be pretty tough. Bright summer sunshine can seem like the perfect light for shooting outdoors, but it often causes horrible shadows across the face and not to mention the model will quite often be squinting their eyes.

Using a flash that has HSS (High speed sync) ability, means you can often overpower the ambient light and/or fill the shadows in.

A built in flash on your camera can normally only shoot at a maximum of 1/250th of a second, whereas with HSS you can shoot at up to 1/8000th.

When using HSS flash and having your camera set on manual or shutter priority, you can  expose for the face & have the background nice and dark.

For this shoot in Les Bois, Chamonix with Claudia, I was using my Nikon D750 in manual mode so I had full control of all the settings with a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens and a yongnuo YN560 flash with YN603 remotes. It was a slightly cloudy day which was really nice as there was not too much in the way of direct sunlight.

It can be quite tough when you are starting out doing portraiture as you often get stuck with not being able to direct your subject in the way you want. Practice, practice practice! Shoot from lots of different angles and have your model/friend/friend of a friend/willing person from a Facebook message you sent out. to look up, look down, drop a shoulder, sit down, smile look away. As I said before, practice and you will get there. 

A huge thank you to the lovely Claudia for letting me get some shots of her.

A Cold night on the Mer de Glace

On Thursday, I made the most of the full moon and the beautiful weather we have been having, by heading up into the high mountains for a wee overnight camping adventure.

First I set off from the busy Mer de Glace tourist attraction:

http://www.chamonet.com/sights/mer-de-glace-and-montenvers-train-chamonix-main-town-39982

Next I  made haste up the glacier and was soon enjoying the solitude on one of the busiest weeks of the winter.

Splitboard touring on the Mer de Glace. Aiguille du Tacul and Grandes Jorrasses in the distance.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

Edward Abbey.

After just a few hours of sliding my way up this expansive glacier, the binding on my splitboard broke. This got me pretty annoyed for a while as I hadn't got as far as I wanted to, but the whole point on going on a wee adventure like this was to simply get away from the norm and I certainly had! So I unloaded my bag, put up my tent and had a cup of tea!

As day turned into night, the stars started to come out. I didn't expect to see much in the way of stars since there was a full moon and usually the moon will flood the sky with too much light to be able to see them.

A beautiful show of stars  before the moon drowned them out.

A starry night

A black and white conversion with a blue tone layer 

After spending  an hour or so outside of the tent standing around,  I was so cold so decided to head to the warmth of my sleeping bag, make another cup of tea and read my book "Blood River". Its about a journalist recreating H.M. Stanley's famous expedition through the Congo from east to west by motorbike, canoe and on foot. A truly gripping read which sets my imagination into overdrive on whats next for travels and holidays!

So I'm in my nice warm sleeping bag as comfortable as one can be when you're lying on an icy cold glacier. I can't get to sleep due to the light pouring in to the tent, so I grudgingly climb out of my cocoon, put my jacket and boots back on and clamber out of the tent to be faced with an incredible sight, which I will never forget.

I set my alarm for 4.30 am to hopefully get some shots of the sunrise, but it was not to be, for there was a white-out and strong winds rattling against my tent. Therefore, I climbed back into my bag and slept until 7.30 am.

If my binding was not broken, then I would have carried on exploring for the morning, but instead packed up my tent and made my way back to civilisation.

I'd love to try and get a multi-day trip in some time this spring but it's now wedding season and I'm heading back to the UK.

The first snowfall of the winter

The change between autumn and winter has literally happened over night.

Last week, I was out hiking with my wife and dog, and the temperature was a balmy 19°

Yesterday I was in a blizzard wearing5 layers and my snow boots!

With more snow on the forecast for this week, I had best get my touring setup and avalanche safety gear out of the cupboard.