Posts Tagged: Britain

Clifton Observatory

Dating back to 1766 the Clifton Observatory, which sits on top of the Avon Gorge, gives fantastic views of the suspension bridge and the surrounding ares. The observatory was originally a windmill that was used to grind corn but was later adapted to grind snuff; the Observatory then became known as Snuff Mill.

In 1777 the mill caught fire, this was caused by the sails being left to turn during a gale and the equipment overheating. The mill was then left derelict for about 50 years until a Bristol based artist, William West, rented it for his studio in 1828. William West was responsible for transforming the building into what we see today, he installed a large telescope on top of the mill turning into an observatory. In 1829 the telescope was replaced by convex lens and sloping mirror which is known as the camera obscura; this still works today. Light travels through the lens and is reflected vertically down by the mirror onto a table which gives a true image of the surrounding area.

William west also built a cave below the observatory which leads to a viewing platform in the cliff face about 250 feet above the base of the Gorge. The cave, known as Giant’s cave was opened to the public in 1837 and is still accessible today.


This photo was taken during sunrise at Saltford Marina, which is located between Bristol and Bath. Although it can be hard work getting up early on a Sunday morning, the results can be worth it. Add the bonus of enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside before most other people are stirring, and you end up with a nice relaxed morning, albeit a little cold at this time of the year!

The camera was on a tripod and triggered by a wireless remote to help prevent camera shake, 1/50 sec @ f/11, ISO 100.

SS Great Britain

I set the alarm for an early morning stroll in the hope of catching a sunrise. There were plenty of clouds around which made for a dramatic sky but the sun was not going to play ball. I used a tripod for stability and an ND grad to balance the exposure of the sky. This shot was taken at 17mm at f11 and using hyperfocal focusing. Using the hyperfocal point of the lens is something that I have not really used before, although I have heard of it, so I thought it was about time to give it a go. There is a formula for working out the hyperfocal distance which is…hyperfocal distance = (focal length x focal length) / (circle of confusion x f-stop)

The circle of confusion is commonly 0.02 for a full frame dSLR and 0.03 for a 1.6 corp sensor typically found on a canon crop dSLR. Anyway, I didn’t sit down and work out my hyperfocal point for this photograph; I simply downloaded a free Android app called hyperfocal pro. This took away all of the pain of the math and let me enjoy my photography! By the way, if you want to read up about the circle of confusion there is plenty about it on the internet but it is quite technical and at times, confusing!