News

Filter test.....
20th November 2017
I have been meaning to do a blog for a while now, but work and life always seemed to get in the way. I was then approached by a new filter company on the block in the UK, asking if I would like a kit to test out, and give them my feedback. So I lined up the two proverbial birds, grabbed a stone and took aim…… (please note, no birds or stones where harmed in the writing of this blog!!!)

As I am new to this writing malarkey (as in blogs) this might be a little longer than normal. So make a brew, pour a glass of wine or grab some popcorn and stick with me as I think, nay, hope it will be informative and might open your eyes to other options in the world of filters.



The filter company that approached me are called Kase. They are a Chinese filter manufacturer, who has just appointed their UK distributors. I, probably like a lot of you out there, had never heard of them, so I used my old friend Google to find out more. It turns out they know a thing or two about filters, having been in the Asian market for a number of years now. Their flagship filters are the Wolverine range of filters, and on their website they say –

These are the new standard in filter technology.

Virtually Indestructible – Made from toughened glass, that will withstand a drop or two, no more accidentally broken filters when out in the field. They also will not scratch or mark very easily at all.
Professional High Definition Glass – It might be tough, but that does not stop its exceptional clarity.
Great Colour Control – The ND filters offer no issues with colour casting, colours as reproduced perfectly, a great image every time.
Nano Coatings – All Wolverine filters have nanotech coatings that help control reflections, repel oil and water and are mold resistant. They simply wipe clean when covered in sea spray, or water. Minimal Smudging.


Bold claims, but the question is do the filters live up to them, and what are they like in the real world?

A few days later a set of Kase Wolverine 100mm filters (also available in 150mm width) turned up. The kit comprised of –

K100-X holder
Geared adapter rings: 77-86mm & 82-86mm
Step rings: 67-82mm & 72-82mm
86mm Slimline (Polarising filter)
Wolverine 100x150mm soft GND filter GND 0.9 (3 stop Soft Grad)
Wolverine 100x150mm hard GND filter GND 0.6 (2 Stop Hard Grad)
Wolverine 100x150mm R-GND filter R-GND 1.2 (4 Stop Reverse Grad)
Wolverine 100x100mm ND filter ND 64 (6 Stop ND)
Wolverine 100x100mm ND filter ND 1000 (10 Stop ND)
K100 filter bag
(The Wolverine Kits can be tweaked when ordering, e.g on the entry level kit you can swap the 6stop for a 10stop filter and so on.)


Over the years I have owned various filter systems, and used many others owned by clients on the workshops I run, so I have seen or used most systems. My initial thoughts, when un-boxing the Kase filters, was how they oozed quality and felt extremely well made.

I currently use Lee filters, and have done for the past 7+ years. I have always thought they were the best around, and sung their praises to people who asked, but suddenly they felt like a cheap inferior filter, and believe me they aren’t cheap. The Kase Wolverine filters aren’t cheap either, but if their claims are founded, they will be a sound investment.

So what are the main differences from my current Lee set up? Well the Kase filters are all toughened glass, whereas most of the Lee filters I have are resin, excluding the polariser and 3, 6, 10 & 15 stop ND filters (they are all glass but not toughened). The Kase system has a geared mechanism for the polariser, meaning that the polariser sits between the lens and filter holder, and is rotated via a small wheel at the side of the holder. The Lee system has the polariser sitting in front of the filter holder/filters. Recently Lee brought out their slimline polariser, but the Kase version is wafer thin in comparison. The Kase filter holder ring also rotates (part of the geared mechanism) and the filter holder is secured to the ring by a small screw lock pin design, unlike the Lee spring action pin.



Now all I needed to do was get out and test the filters, which is easier said than done when living in a very wet & windy part of Wales, and when you have a pile of other work needing doing. A planned trip to Scotland was earmarked for the test, which has a fickle weather system like Wales, and didn’t let me down.

The first outing was on a grey and blustery day. I set up my shot, and dropped in the Kase 0.6 (2 stop) hard ND grad. The image looked neutral. Swap to the Lee system, and there was a slight tint to the image. I did the same with the 0.9 (3 stop) soft ND grad, and again the Kase was more neutral.

So time to try the 6 & 10 stop ND filters. Now I know the Lee ‘stopper’ ranges (6, 10 & 15 stop) of ND filters have always given off a blue cast on my images. I was interested to see how neutral the Kase filters would be. I stood loch side in Scotland at dawn and compared the results. The Kase 6 & 10 stop filters were neutral and gave off no noticeable colour cast, whereas the Lee had their standard blue cast. These Kase filters were living up to the website promises. Now I know you can remove the colour casts in software, but the idea of filters to me is to cut down on post processing. The difference between the 2 can be seen below -


Kase 10 stop ND & 0.6 hard grad


Lee 10 stop ND & 0.6 hard grad

The polariser filter was next on the test. As I mentioned Kase uses a geared system for the polariser, so all you need is the filter ring adaptor and the polariser, if you aren’t planning on using any graduated filters. This means less on front of your lens, and the polariser is as close as possible to the front lens element. If you want to use other filters with the polariser, then I would suggest getting a spare adapter ring and leave the polariser in one, as it might be fiddly removing the polariser with cold fingers.




The Lee polariser sits on the front of the filter holder, and screws into the front holder ring, which is an additional purchase. Depending on how many slots you have attached on your filter holder dictates how far away from your lens the polariser is. On my Lee system I have 2 slots, and then the polariser sits in front of that. I also have a 3 slot holder to use when I am not using the polariser, as the polariser is also difficult to remove.

A calm day with a clear blue sky was the perfect conditions to compare the 2 systems. With my camera on my tripod, and the sun at about a 90 degree angle to the camera I fired off some shots. Both fared very well, and there was wasn’t much between them, until I started to rotate the polarisers. As the Kase system was right in front of the lens, there weren’t any issues, but as the Lee polariser was in front of the holder light managed to reflect off the back of the filter and caused flare in the top corner of the images.

Also, at 16mm the filter holder wasn't visible in the image using the Kase system, whereas it was with the Lee system, and that is with the slimline polariser. Another plus point for the Kase system is when you use filters alongside the polariser, the geared mechanism is a joy to use. No longer do you have to remove a glove to rotate the polariser and try to keep the ND grads level, you can keep your fingers warm and rotate using the wheel at the side of the holder, and not have to worry about moving your other filters.


Kase polariser


Lee polariser

The last day of the trip was on a very wet and windy beach, on the south coast of Dumfries and Galloway. The Kase filters have a nano coating, which they say helps with keeping the filter easily clean when near the sea. After many many years of struggling with my Lee system, when being sprayed with sea water, I was hopeful this claim would ring true. It did! I always keep a supply of wet lens wipes in my bag for such occasions, and sometimes it’s a losing battle trying to keep the Lee filters streak / smudge free. The Kase filters were so easy to clean and a joy to use in such conditions. If conditions were really bad I would often leave my Lee filters until I got home, before washing them in warm soapy water. There was no need with the Kase filters, a few wipes and they were like new again.

The one filter in my test kit that I didn’t try on my Scottish trip was the 4 stop reverse grad, I had to wait until I got back to Pembrokeshire for that. Standard graduated filters are darker at the top, and slowly decrease in graduation as it nears the middle of the filter. In most cases this fine, but in certain conditions like sunrises or sunsets, when the horizon is the brightest part of the image traditional grads aren’t enough. This is where a reverse grad comes into its own. As the name suggests the graduation is reversed, so the darkest part of the filter is the middle and the graduation decreases towards the top of the filter.


Kase reverse grad

I have wanted to try one for a while, but they weren’t available with Lee until recently. Was the wait worth it? Most certainly. A cold November evening down on Newgale beach at sunset was great for putting this Kase reverse grad to the test. Previously I would have maybe used a 2 stop hard grad, placed on the horizon, along with a soft grad dropping below the horizon to stop blowing the highlights. Not anymore, the reverse grad is perfect for the job.


Kase reverse 1.2 grad & 6 stop ND

One thing I didn’t test during my time with the Kase Wolverine filters was the claims of them being Virtually Indestructible. There’s enough evidence online to show them being put through their paces. Having a filter system that can survive the odd drop or two, and is difficult to scratch is a relief. Having dropped and broken a Lee 6 stop filter in the past, seeing a 3 stop Lee filter shattering on a path and having to replace about 3 resin filters due to scratches, I now don’t have to worry about this with the Kase system.

So after giving the Kase Wolverine filters a test and comparing them to my beloved Lee filters kit, what do I think? Well I put my money where my mouth is and purchased the test kit from Kase. Now my Lee filters are gathering dust on a shelf at home. Everything they said was true, and although the range isn’t currently as wide as some other manufacturers, they have enough to keep me happy for now. I have been reliably informed that other filters and accessories will follow soon as Kase continue to grow their product range. They aren’t cheap, but neither are any of the other top of the range filter systems. I never thought I would be tempted away from Lee, but Kase have managed it. I will now continue to grow my Kase filter collection, and from now on whenever I get asked what filters I would recommend, my answer will be simple - Kase Wolverine.


Kase 0.6 hard & polariser





Christmas exhibitions 2017
01st November 2017
Anyone who will be in Pembrokeshire / Carmarthenshire area, running up to Christmas this year, will be able to see my work in the flesh at a number of venues from Saturday November 11th. I will be having a few special offers during these shows, so if you are in the area why not pop along to have a look?

For the full list of where I will be, along with the dates and times, please click here.
2018 Under Celtic Skies Calendar
17th June 2017
My new 2018 Under Celtic Skies calendar is now online and available to purchase HERE

Like last year my 2018 calendar is large format - measuring 30cm x 30cm when closed, and 60cm (h) x 30cm (w) when open, and contains 24 images from my beautiful home county.

Christmas Deliveries 2016
28th November 2016
With Christmas creeping up on us I thought I'd inform everyone of the last order dates for a Christmas delivery. Orders placed with me after 3pm on the dates below will not be guaranteed a pre-Christmas delivery (according to information supplied by the Royal Mail) -

For prints, books, calendars, greeting cards -

30th November - Africa, Middle East
4th December - Cyprus, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Eastern Europe (except Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), Turkey, Malta
5th December - Caribbean, Central & South America
7th December - Greece, Australia, New Zealand
11th December - Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland
12th December - Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA
13th December - Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland
14th December - Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg
17th December - UK

For canvases -

15th December - UK
For anywhere else please use the dates listed above.
2017 Under Celtic Skies Calendar
27th June 2016
My new 2017 Under Celtic Skies calendar is now online and available to purchase HERE

This year my calendar is based on my book of Pembrokeshire, by the same name. It measures 30cm x 30cm when closed, and 60cm x 30cm when open, and contains 24 images from my beautiful home county.
Solo Exhibition
09th April 2016
On Tuesday 12th April through to Monday 25th April I will be holding my annual solo photography exhibition in The Cloisters Gallery, St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire.

If you are in the area please pop along and have a look, say hello and wander around one of the best Cathedral's in the country.

Opening times 10.30am - 4.15pm
Christmas Delivery 2015
01st December 2015
With Christmas creeping up on us I thought I'd inform everyone of the last order dates for a Christmas delivery. Orders placed with me after 3pm on the dates below will not be guaranteed a pre-Christmas delivery -

Prints & Calendars

Europe & USA - Sunday 13th December (excluding Greece)

Mainland UK - Friday 18th December

Canvas

Mainland UK - Thursday 17th December
4 Day residential workshop
23rd November 2015
I am pleased to announce that I have joined the team of workshop leaders at one of the UK's premier workshop companies aspect2i. Run by 2 of the UK's top landscape photographers - Paul Gallagher and Michael Pilkington - aspect2i offer courses in various locations throughout the UK, Europe and America.

For the last couple of years I have been running my own 1 day non residential workshops around Pembrokeshire, and will continue to do so. However in October 2016 Michael and I will be running a 4 day residential workshop, exploring the stunning scenery that Pembrokeshire has to offer.

If you are interested in this course please click here. Whilst you are on the aspect2i website you can also check out the other many courses they have to offer.
Christmas Exhibitions 2015
11th November 2015
During the run up to Christmas I will be taking part in events at Scolton Manor, Queens Hall Narberth, Pembroke Castle, Guild Hall Cardigan and Aberglasney Gardens (full details here). At each event I will have a selection of mounts, frames, greeting cards and my 2016 calendar available to purchase. I will also have my new Under Celtic Skies book with me, which I will be able to sign each day (please note if you plan to visit Cardigan I will only be there on selected days, so if you require a signed book please email me to see when I will be there).

Alternatively, if you want something for that special someone, who is difficult to buy for, then why not give them a gift voucher?
Epson International Pano Awards 2015
10th November 2015
I am pleased to announce that I have been awarded 1 silver and 4 bronze awards in the prestigious Epson International Pano Awards 2015. The images are shown below.









Book of Pembrokeshire
01st September 2015
My book of Pembrokeshire - Under Celtic Skies - is now in stock and available to order. It contains 50 colour panoramic images from all around my beautiful home county of Pembrokeshire. For further details please click here.
Photography Exhibition - 28th - 31st August
24th August 2015
I am taking part in a joint photography exhibition, this coming August bank holiday weekend, with local underwater & landscape photographer Lisa Gabrielle. Taking place in the St David's Memorial Hall, Pembrokeshire (next door to the City Hall). Here you will find a wide selection of my work (and Lisa's) available to look at and purchase. Open 10am - 5pm daily.

Please pop along if you are in the area.
Pre-order books
13th August 2015
I am now taking pre-orders for my 1st book - Under Celtic Skies - Pembrokeshire. For a limited time only I am offering a small unmounted print with every order. Please click here for further details and to order

Book Announcement
04th February 2015
I am currently working on the finishing touches for my first book, which will be released early summer 2015. It will be of my beautiful home county of Pembrokeshire. Further details will follow here, or why not follow me on Facebook or Twitter (links below on bottom right hand side of the page) for regular updates?
Christmas Delivery 2014
01st December 2014
With Christmas creeping up on us I thought I'd inform everyone of the last order dates for a Christmas delivery. Orders placed with me after the dates below will not be guaranteed a pre-Christmas delivery -

Prints & Calendars

Europe & USA - Wednesday 10th December

Mainland UK - Wednesday 17th December

Canvas

Mainland UK - Saturday 13th December
Christmas Exhibitions
31st October 2014
OK, I feel it is late enough in the year to mention the 'C' word, Christmas........

I have just finalised my list Christmas exhibitions, ranging from 1 day to 6 days. This year the list includes 2 of the biggest Christmas events in South Wales ( St Donat's Arts Centre & Aberglasney House and Gardens). Here's a quick breakdown of the exhibitions -

Scolton Manor, Haverfordwest - 15th - 16th November
Cardigan Guild Hall - 17th - 22nd November
St Donats Castle - 30th November
Aberglasney - 5th - 6th December
Queens Hall, Narberth - 20th December

If you are in those areas, on the dates listed, why not drop in and have a look around? I will have some special offers on my stand during these exhibitions, along with my remaining stocks of my 2015 Calendar of Wales (more still available at Graffeg and high street / online retailers).

Full details (time, locations etc) can be seen here - HERE
Magazine articles
14th August 2014
Over the last couple of weeks I have 3 images published in 2 monthly photography magazines. In the August edition of Practical Photography they printed Drifting Reflections over 2 pages, and in the September edition of Outdoor Photography they printed 2 images over 3 pages, along with a little interview (see below)



Photography Workshops
01st August 2014
I have recently relaunched my Photography Workshops, and I am now taking bookings from November 1st onwards. The main change is the times. Previously a half day was the shortest, but now they are available in 2, 4, 6 and 8 hours slots.

For full details please see here
Wales Online
14th July 2014
My 'Under Celtic Skies' 2015 calendar, along with the others in the 2015 range by my publisher Graffeg, has been featured on Wales Online. See link below -

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/lifestyle/fun-stuff/19-best-pictures-wales-youll-7366967
Under Celtic Skies 2015 Calendar
11th June 2014
My new 2015 'Under Celtic Skies' calendar has been released and is available to purchase. Unlike previous years this calendar covers Wales and not just Pembrokeshire, although Pembrokeshire features strongly with 4 images.

Also this year I have joined forces with the great team at Graffeg publishing, who have done a fab job getting it ready for printing and getting it listed with loads of book shops / websites out there.

To view this lovely calendar please click HERE