Posts tagged ‘HDR’

Brough of Birsay – Part 1

The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island off the northwest coast of Orkney’s mainland. When the tide is right it is accessible by a narrow slippery causeway, for the rest of the time it is totally isolated. There is evidence of both Norse (Viking) and Pictish settlement on the Island, no doubt attracted by the easily defendable nature of the site.

We visited twice whilst we were there, just walking on the beach, searching for sea shells and being mesmerised by the North Atlantic waves rolling in and crashing against the rocks. It is a beautiful and dramatic spot.


Just a quick note on the shot of the Common Seal (or at least I think it’s a Common Seal, it could be a Grey Seal instead). I’m not that pleased with this image, I was a little too far away for my 70-200mm lens and as a result I’ve had to crop this shot quite heavily. Also it’s not as sharp as I would like. I’ve included it here because it’s the only useable shot of a seal that I have. We saw quite a few in our two-week holiday, but unfortunately not many where I was in a position to photograph them.

Watch-out for more shots of the Brough of Birsay in my next post. 

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

The Ring of Brodgar

The Ring of Brodgar is another of the remarkable monuments that make up the “Heart of Neolithic OrkneyUNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a fantastic stone circle over 100 metres in diameter that sits on a thin strip of raised ground between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. It is contemporary with Maeshowe, circa 2600 BC, that I posted about here. Originally it would have comprised 60 standing stones, of which 27 now remain upright, surrounded by a 10m wide and 3m deep ditch. It is a remarkable site…..

I got a little carried away taking shots on our two visits to the Ring of Brodgar, the ten above are only a sample of the many images that I captured. However I make no apologies for this (well except to the wife of course…;0)…) because standing stones are incredibly photogenic and provide some fabulous landscape opportunities. Also the light on our second visit was really good…..I could have easily stayed longer.

Shots 7, 8 & 10 are all five exposure HDR shots processed in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro2 software, the others are all straight single exposure images. Because I took so many photos I decided to experiment in post processing with a few of them. I’m particularly pleased with the high contrast mono conversion for shot seven – this treatment results in a grainy, moody image that I think enhances the already dramatic, windswept and mysterious landscape in which the Ring of Brodgar sits.

Orkney has definitely left a lasting impression on Liz and I, so much so in fact that we have just booked to go back for another week at Christmas. That’s the first time in 15/16 years of holidays together that we will have returned to a destination…..normally our attitude is that we really enjoyed that vacation, but there are so many other places to go and see in the world that we probably won’t go back again. Who would have thought that a small collection of islands off the North coast of Scotland would have this effect!! 

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)


For my first post since returning from a fantastic two-week holiday to the wonderful Orkney Isles just off Scotland’s north coast, I’ve decided to share with you an image of Maeshowe, a fantastic Neolithic chambered tomb which dates from about 2700BC. I think this image encapsulates the essence of Orkney – big skies, wide open landscapes and stunning cultural heritage.

Maeshowe, which is run by Historic Scotland, is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of its type anywhere in Europe. It forms part of the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes the Ness of Brodgar, the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae. The fact that all these occur in Orkney’s West Mainland makes it one of the highest concentrations of Neolithic sites anywhere in the world. The remarkable thing is that the UNESCO designation only covers a handful of the dozens of known pre-historic sites that are dotted through-out the rest of the Orkney Isles. If that wasn’t enough, according to the experts, there are no doubt more sites as yet undiscovered.

Unfortunately, although we were able to go inside the tomb on a guided tour, we weren’t allowed to take any shots of the interior. I’d love to return to Maeshowe for the Winter Solstice, because the tomb is aligned so that those fortunate enough to be standing in the main chamber on the shortest day of the year, get to see the light of the setting sun slowly creep up the narrow, low passageway and eventually fill the inner chamber with a magical golden glow. For those not so fortunate Historic Scotland do live-stream the event each winter at


The above shot is a HDR image made up of five bracketed exposures and then processed in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro2.

I took over 800 images in the two weeks we were up on Orkney and I’m just starting to work my way through them now to decide which I’m going to process and publish. Clearly this is going to take me a little while and I can already see that this trip will require a number of posts over the next few weeks to do it justice.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)


Parkgate on the Wirral faces out across the estuary of the River Dee towards North Wales.

In it’s heyday, during the 18th Century, it was an important port and embarkation point for Ireland. However, the steady and remorseless silting up of the Dee turned much of the river and estuary into grassy marshland and before long made Parkgate unusable as a port.

Nowadays, a walk along the sea-front at Parkgate, with fish and chips or a locally made ice-cream, is a popular past time for visitors near and far. It’s also a favourite spot with “twitchers” as the marshland attracts a wide variety of bird life.

I hope you’ll agree that it’s not a bad destination for photographers either:

Parkgate 1

Parkgate 2

Parkgate 3

The three shots above are all HDR images made up of five bracketed exposures and then processed in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro2.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Loch Spelve Jetty

These two shots of the old jetty at Loch Spelve, were taken last April whilst we were on holiday on the beautiful Isle of Mull, off the West Coast of Scotland.

I haven’t done anything with them until now, because they were shot with the intention of processing as HDR images and it’s only recently with the Nik Software free trial that I’ve had the ability to do this.

Loch Spelve Jetty 1

Loch Spelve Jetty 2

The first shot is a combination of 3 exposures and the second, because I was shooting into the light, is a combination of 5 exposures. Personally I think the black and white shot works better, but I do like the detail retained in the cloud on the second shot – without HDR or an NDGrad the highlights would have been blown in that area.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

West Kirby Golden

This shot was taken a couple of weeks ago and is a view from West Kirby on the Wirral looking out across the Dee Estuary towards Hilbre Islands sitting on the horizon.

West Kirby Golden

I’ve used Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2 software to combine together three bracketed images of the same subject but with three different exposures.

This is my first ever HDR image and as such I would particularly welcome your feedback on this one.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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