Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography: Blog http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog en-us Simon Norton Photography simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:14:00 GMT Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:14:00 GMT http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/img/s/v-5/u830103577-o118675305-50.jpg Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography: Blog http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog 120 110 Perseids 2017 http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/perseids-2017 Yes, its that time of the year where star gazers and those interested in astrophotography, spend long hours with neck ache, gazing up in the sky to watch the annual Perseids Meteor Shower.

Having tried and failed in the past, and this year's supposed to be the most amazing for some years, last night I decided to get out, set the camera up and see what I could catch.

So home from the day job, around 1:30am this morning, out into the back garden with the camera sat on a tripod and on interval timer (settings details to come shortly), and facing north east, and just stand and watch.

Right the settings......my D7000 with a sigma 10-20 mm f/4.0-5.6 lens, the aperture as wide open as possible (f/4.0) and a 15sec exposure. Reading other sources they suggest 20-25sec exposures, but after a couple of test shots I found 15secs to be adequate. Had the lens as far back as it would go (10mm), manual focus and set on infinity. ISO set to 800 and the WB set to cloudy, this enabled me to shoot in an area with quite a bit of light pollution, but not let the orange street lights affect the shot. The camera mounted on my manfrotto tripod and set on interval timer so fire off a shot every 15secs, as I'm shooting a 15sec exposure then this is the least amount of time needed between each shot, others would say I needed to give it about 17-18secs on the interval timer but found what I set was good enough.

Shooting the perseids can be bit hit and miss, and normally it's sods law that the brightest meteors tend to fall when your camera is in-between processing exposures, as was the case in the early hours of this morning. Luckily though, it wasn't long before I captured one, and was also the brightest of the ones that I witnessed.

The early hours of 12th-13th August is supposed to be the peak of the shows this year, but they can still be seen days after that, so will be out tonight to try and capture some more, and as I'll be finishing the day job earlier this evening, should be out from around midnight.

_DSC8652Perseids Meteor Captured in Denton, Greater ManchesterNikon D7000, Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, f/4, ISO800, 15sec at 10mm, WB cloudy

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) astro denton manchester meteor nikon perseids photography shower tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/perseids-2017 Sun, 13 Aug 2017 11:54:31 GMT
Ooooo it's hot!!!!! http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/ooooo-its-hot Has to be the hottest day of the year today, 18th June.....

 

.....and also my birthday, so spent most of the day just chilling out, enjoying the sun, and have camera at the ready as always.

Shooting garden insects, particularly bees, wasps etc., is something I've never tried before, and whilst sitting in the shade a couple of them decided to help themselves on the flowers.

With my sigma 70-300 lens attached, camera in aperture priority mode, and ISO bumped up to 3200 to enable me to get a fast shutter speed, particularly as they move fast, and it's not easy shooting at the 300mm end of a long lens.

With these shots I used an aperture of f/7.1, this giving me enough to blur out the background, and maintain a fast shutter speed.

I also shot in burst mode, with over 50+ frames shot in just over a minute.

After a little editing in Lightroom and Photoshop these are the 2 shots I was most pleased with.

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They look the same shot, but there is a subtle difference between the two, and also framed using the rule of thirds.

Now back to enjoying the sun, the rest of my birthday, and off for a curry......yes just what you need on a hot day!!!!

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) bees flowers garden insects manchester photography summer tameside wasps http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/ooooo-its-hot Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:31:19 GMT
Oh it's been a while!!!! http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/oh-its-been-a-while Yeah I know....Mr serial blog updater!!!

 

Yes it's been a while since I've updated this, due to reasons I'm not going into on here. Anyway, yesterday it was out into Manchester for coffee, catchup and a wander with the camera with one of my photo buddies.

Being honest, I found it difficult to be inspired yesterday, not sure whether it's the consequence of trying to get my photography mojo back, or whether it's my home town just lacking in photographic inspiration, which considering what we in Manchester have been through recently I doubt it's the latter!!!!

I started off my getting a few of the standard shots through windows, looking into cafe's.

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We then wandered into St Annes Square, where up until recently, it has been the focus for remembrance, vigils and floral tributes for those lives lost and injuries sustained in the recent terrible Manchester terror attack. The council are putting the square back to it's normal look now, all the flowers, candles, balloons etc.,have gone, but are all being preserved towards a lasting memorial, and whilst there came across Councillor Pat Karney who was waiting patiently for someone, and we didn't have to wait long to find out who, and what he was doing...

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....being interviewed by reporter Amy Welch for Granada Reports.

Whilst wandering around the square, I also captured this shot....

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....after the terrible bombing at the Manchester Arena, the police presence has been massive in Manchester, and captured this shot of two constables listening intently to the gentleman asking where all the floral tributes have gone.

Then a wander round to near the town hall, and this, parked where they shouldn't and an apt registration plate....

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A couple of food and coffee stops, then wandering up Market Street, to find this reflection shot outside Primark...

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...and a sit down next to the newly refurbished fountain in Piccadilly Gardens, where my want to take a long exposure shot was quickly dashed, after discovering I didn't bring any filters whatsoever.....better planning needed next time!!!!

On the way out though I grabbed this shot....

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...if looks could kill!!!!

Although I didn't take that many shots yesterday, I was quite pleased with the one's I did and how they came out.....maybe a lesson for the future....quality not quantity.

Certainly gave me the kick I needed though to get out with my camera again, and will be making the most of a week and a half off the day job, to get out with it more....inbetween playing a lot of golf and gym routines.

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) Amy Granada Karney centre city itv manchester mono pat photography reports street television welch http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/oh-its-been-a-while Wed, 14 Jun 2017 10:04:33 GMT
Kids Park Shoot in Holmfirth http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/5/kids-park-shoot-in-holmfirth A sunny Saturday morning in Holmfirth.....

 

...and off to meet Kaylie, her partner Ross and their three children at Victoria Park in Holmfirth for a kids park shoot.

This glorious park overlooks the village and is ideal for shoots like this, and we were blessed with some amazing weather too.

Kaylie and her partner also wanted some family shots taking during the shoot, and more than happy to oblige. So to start things off we shot this family picture at the top end of the park, where this round bench area overlooks the whole village.

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Then it was time to make the most of the wonderful flowers in the park, and they also created a good backdrop for some of the kids pictures.

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The thing with doing children's park shoots, it trying to keep them interested, and entertained, whilst keeping the shots natural too, so it wasn't long before we were off to the play area, let them loose and just shoot away.

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Before finishing the shoot, we had to make use of the flower beds again, and grab some lovely shots of mum and dad on their own.

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Kaylie, Ross and their children were fantastic to work with, and lots of fun, and with such a gorgeous location, and a little trip to Comp's chippy on the way home, a good day was had by all.

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) Yorkshire children holmfirth kids last manchester of park photography shoot summer tameside the wine http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/5/kids-park-shoot-in-holmfirth Sun, 07 May 2017 10:00:41 GMT
Kids 'n' bubbles http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/bubbles Experimenting with bubbles in the studio.

One of the benefits of having a gorgeous, photogenic 2 year old daughter is that she is always ready to assist daddy with practising photo techniques in the studio.

Last Saturday morning, myself and Kaylee spent half an hour playing with bubbles, black background, one studio strobe through a softbox and a speed light behind the model to create a ring light to separate her from the background.

First thing was to get Kaylee in place, set up the camera on a tripod with remote release, get the exposure correct on the studio strobe and the speed light behind the model and then get to work.

Here is the lighting diagram for this set up....

 

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When using studio strobes and speed lights, I always use the fastest shutter speed possible, for my D7000 and yongnuo speed lights it's 1/250th sec.

For this shoot I used my 50mm prime lens, and aperture of f/5.6 and ISO 100. 

After a few test shots and teaching Kay how to sit still and not wanting to inspect every shot, I sat down just to the left of the model and using the remote shutter release started to blow bubbles towards Kaylee and encouraging her to catch them.

_DSC5228_DSC5228Lowry Theatre I was exceptionally pleased the results and will be adding the kids 'n' bubbles shoot to my kids portrait offers.

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) bubbles childrens dukinfield kids manchester photography portrait shoot tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/bubbles Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:24:31 GMT
Street Photography Day http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/street-photography-day A bit of street photography.

 

Not done this for a long while, and a work colleague wanted to go out into Manchester to do a bit of street photography, so though it was about time I went out and about and see what I could capture.

As usual it was a typical grey, miserable day in Manchester, with very little detail in the skies, so looking for inspiration at times I found difficult.

We started off in Albert Square, where chinese new year celebrations were in full show... _DSC5043_DSC5043Manchester Street Photography ....this processed in Lightroom and using selective colouring to bring out the red lanterns against the back drop of Manchester Town Hall.

 

Then a wander up Moseley Street for some long exposure photography, using the trams. Took a few attempts to get this shot, due to people walking past, but it's expected as Moseley Street is a busy little place full of office blocks.

_DSC5052_DSC5052Manchester Street Photography

There seem to be more and more rough sleepers in Manchester city centre these days, and whilst wandering round to Market Street, I didn't expect one to be placing his bank card into the hole in the wall.

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Round to High Street, and a great place to practise panning techniques, in between trams. This shot again processed in Lightroom.

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Over to Deansgate Castlefield tram stop and capturing a dramatic shot of the bridge leading from the tram platform to Deansgate Rail Station. As is the norm with Manchester, lots of building and construction work going on, so I decided to edit out the cranes in this shot, and also using a few processed in Lightroom, managed to bring out some detail in the sky to create a dramatic look to the picture.

_DSC5112_DSC5112Manchester Street Photography

Whenever I get out and about in town, I always love to shoot a miniature style picture. This miniature tram 'n' traffic shot, taken from the bridge from Piccadilly rail station, across London Road.

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Whilst to some the trams are a bit of a nuisance in Manchester, to me, as a photographer, they are a great source for a shot. This picture below taken at St Peter's Square and was a shot for my weekly #52project, with this week's theme of capturedmotion.

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Finally, and what most photographers who do street photography like to shoot....people. 

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Although by the end of the day my feet were killing me, and at times lacking in inspiration for a shot, I'm quite happy with those I've picked out and certainly will be taking to the streets of Manchester, and other areas, more to hone my street photography skills further,

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) 52 project St Peters Square dukinfield manchester photography piccadilly street photography tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/street-photography-day Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:57:49 GMT
Belated Happy New Year!!!! http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/1/belated-happy-new-year Well a hectic end to 2016 with lots of portrait shoots (indoors and outdoors), not to mention a wonderful busy family Christmas, meant little time to do anything else, lease of all try to update this blog. I've resisted the new years resolution to keep this blog up to date, but will certainly attempt to post a bit more regular than last year.

So to 2017!!!! Going to be another busy year, and started off with a studio family shoot. Jan, his partner Lucia and their two boys came to our studio for an hour long shoot.

 

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Using both a black and a white backdrop, and also using my daughter's Paw Patrol toys as props, we had great fun and provided the family with some fantastic images, which they gave amazing feedback on.

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_DSC4716-2_DSC4716-2Jan Svacina

As well as a set of colour, they also get a set of black and white images too, all available for them to download from their own private online gallery.

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If you wish to book a family photo shoot, then feel free to contact us on 07714 418708, or visit our contact page.

 

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) dukinfield family manchester photography portrait tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/1/belated-happy-new-year Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:26:02 GMT
Portraits in direct sunlight. http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/portraits-in-direct-sunlight After a stressful Wednesday, blighted by car problems...basically a convertible roof that wouldn't go back down, and having to ever so gently squeeze my car into my mothers garage overnight, due to the impending storms that were forecast that evening and following morning (yep they never materialsied, thanks Met Office!!!!), it was another day in the sun and an afternoon keeping both my nephews occupied.

As it was another glorious afternoon, it was time to get the 2 boys out into the garden and grab a few snapshots of them both together.

The sun was very bright, so for all these shots I made sure that they were facing away from the sun, with the sun creating a nice little backlight, and using off camera flash to fill in the shadows. Also shooting this way, ensures your subject isn't squinting.

boys1Noah & EliasISO 100 - f/5.0 - 1/250sec - 50mm

For those who have tried, but failed, to shoot family pics in the sun, with the sun behind, it's quite straightforward.

STEP 1, AMBIENT LIGHT METERING - Place camera in either aperture priority or shutter speed priority mode and take a meter reading with your subjects in the shot. I also use evaluative metering. Once you have the meter reading you desire, place the camera in manual mode and dial in the settings. 

STEP 2, OFF CAMERA FLASH METERING - This is where having a light meter is handy, if you don't then it's just about adjusting the off camera flash. Set up your off camera speedlight (in manual mode), start with around half power, and using your light meter take a reading of the flash from under the chin of your subject. The flash power needs to be the same settings as you've dialled in STEP 1. The idea behind using off camera flash in daylight is to eliminate any harsh shadows created by sunlight, and also to fill in these shadows without making it look too much like you've used a speed light. 

STEP 3 - Click away and fire some shots. Doing it this way, and keeping the flash the same settings as your ambient light, you eliminate harsh shadows and also fill in where you tend to get harsh shadows whilst shooting in direct sunlight (round the eyes, cheeks, nose). You also get that fantastic catchlight in the eyes of your subject.

Don't forget that shooting this way, you can also control the ambient light, by changing your aperture settings. To create a more moody ambient background, make your aperture smaller but don't change the power of your speed light. No matter how much you change the aperture, the power of the speed light on your subject will remain the same.

boys2Noah & EliasISO 100 - f/5.0 - 1/250sec - 50mm

boys3Noah & EliasISO 100 - f/5.0 - 1/250sec - 50mm

So get out, while we have our 3 day summer, and get those gorgeous family snaps using the guide above.

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) ambient camera dukinfield family flash light manchester off photography portrait portraiture speedlight tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/portraits-in-direct-sunlight Wed, 20 Jul 2016 21:10:06 GMT
It's been a while....BLOG UPDATE!!!! Weddings & Price Freezes http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/its-been-a-while-blog-update-weddings-price-freezes Yep it's been a while, so time for a quick blog update!!!

 

Again, busy both photography and personally recently so not had chance to post for a few months. So what's been happening I hear you cry!!!

 

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Firstly, the wedding of Shaun and Toni at Bury Town Hall and reception at the Boltholt Country Park Hotel in Bury. It was a wonderful ceremony and a gorgeous setting for the reception afterwards, and I've never seen a couple sooooo suited and in love. 

_DSC0981_DSC0981Wedding Photography - Shaun & Toni Ball

It was such a pleasure to work with these two and in such a beautiful setting too. The Boltholt Hotel is a fantastic wedding venue, with a gorgeous lake and lawns at the front, that make a wedding photographers dream when it comes to capturing the bride and groom shots after the ceremony.

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I'm currently working through all the shots and ahead of the time normally taken to deliver the final shots to my clients.

I wish Shaun and Toni all the best for the future, and along with their little boy Corban, who recently featured in one of my newborn shoots, they make a wonderful family together.

 

Wedding Prices for 2017!!!!

 

I'm fully booked up for 2016, not even spaces for last minute weddings I'm afraid, and 2017 is booking up really quick too, but there are a few spaces available if you haven't booked your wedding photographer for next year....and I'm freezing my prices too!!!!

All weddings booked for 2017 will be at the same price as 2016, so if it's on your list of things to organise then time to get it done before I'm fully booked again. Visit my wedding page for more details on my wedding packages.

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) ashton dukinfield engagement hyde lyne manchester photography tameside under wedding http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/its-been-a-while-blog-update-weddings-price-freezes Fri, 08 Jul 2016 11:32:52 GMT
A little update as to what I've been up to recently.... http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/a-little-update-as-to-what-ive-been-up-to-recently Good morning, and a happy Saturday to one and all. I've been a bit quiet with the blog recently so thought it's high time I updated you all with what's been going on recently.

It's been such a busy time recently, not just photography wise but generally too and I've hardly had any chance to sit and write a new blog.

So firstly, it's been a busy time since I put my "2 shoots for £40" offer on here and various Facebook pages.

My first booking was with Lee and Anthony who wanted some shots with their nephew Ethan. This shoot was taken in their home and I took my portable studio set up along.

_DSC9671_DSC9671Lowry Theatre Time to occupy Ethan with some toys, and bring some more colour into the shots taken against the white background.

_DSC9685_DSC9685Lowry Theatre After the usual family posed shots, I took the backdrop down and the lights away and decided on a more natural shoot with Ethan playing with his toys in the front room. There was also a nice large front window with light streaming through it, so it was natural light all the way for the rest of the shot....I do prefer working with natural light.

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_DSC9922_DSC9922Lowry Theatre All 3 were fantastic to work with and Ethan especially was a delightful little boy with the most amazing blue eyes. I'm just waiting now for a combination of a sunny Saturday morning, and a free one when I'm not already booked to shoot their outdoor shots.

 

 

I've just recently moved into the world of newborn baby shoots. There's been a bit of a baby boom recently amongst my friends so a good opportunity to get them to my mini studio set up and get some newborn shots added to my portfolio.

Firstly Lisa, her partner Helen and their gorgeous little girl Thea.

This has been a steep learning curve for me, but was very pleased on how the shots have come out. 

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Then the following day it was Shaun, his fiancé Toni and their little boy Corban. Corban arrived asleep, ideal for posed shots, but with his being a light sleeper he soon woke up and his eyes were everywhere.

Still it was another fantastic shoot and again really happy with how the shots came out.

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Really enjoyed both these shoots and have a few more booked off the back of these shots, and looking forward to adding more to my portfolio.

 

 

Another reason why I love photography is that I always have friends who are either keen to take it up as a hobby, or already take pictures but are keen to improve and just get out whenever possible to shoot some pictures. This week I went out into Manchester with my mate Yorkie, and normally we do some street photography. This time though we went out with a pre-requisite of what shots we wanted to take. 

The first I wanted to shoot was the new Co-op building in the centre of Manchester, some say this is like a mini version of the gherkin in London.

coop building (1 of 1)coop building (1 of 1)Lowry Theatre Ideally I wanted more drama with the clouds in this shot. I used a ND filter to create slow cloud movement, but as it was a typical grey day in Manchester, I didn't get the movement I was after. Also removed a couple of posts in the front of the building in photoshop.

Then we moved to Victoria train station as we wanted to capture trams in miniature form. I do love experimenting with this form of photography and certainly Manchester lends itself to it very well.

_DSC0313_DSC0313Lowry Theatre Finally onto Piccadilly tram stop and some motion blur capture, and pretty pleased with how this one turned out.

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So it's been a busy few weeks and it looks to be getting busier too, not just photography wise too. Taken up golf last year and now have quite a few society matches coming along soon, so have invested in a few lessons, I'm also training to run the Manchester 10k run, raising money for Pancreatic Cancer Research, and you can visit my Just Giving page to read my story and make a donation if you so wish https://www.justgiving.com/Simon-Norton5

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) dukinfield manchester photography tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/a-little-update-as-to-what-ive-been-up-to-recently Sat, 23 Apr 2016 11:06:36 GMT
52 Project Catch up - Weeks 11 & 12 http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/52-project-catch-up---weeks-11-12 Another catch up on my 52 project, and it's Weeks 11 & 12.

 

Week 11 - Texture

This was a shot taken during our recent snowy spell and love the texture of the snow on the branches. Also with this shot I was experimenting with some photoshop actions.

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Week 12 - Silhouette

‚ÄčThis shot yesterday, in-between rain and hail showers. Went up to Werneth Low to grab this shot. Using a narrow aperture and an ND filter to capture the cloud movement.

Week 12 Silhouette (1 of 1)Week 12 Silhouette (1 of 1)TP 52 Project - 2016

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) 52 project dukinfield manchester photography tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/52-project-catch-up---weeks-11-12 Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:16:09 GMT
Going back over old pics - and more Northern Lights http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/going-back-over-old-pics---and-more-northern-lights This has become a bit of an obsession now, and considering we are now in the season of Spring, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights is becoming more distant, until the end of autumn and the start of long cold winter nights.

So, spending a Good Friday evening going through some old photo's and went through some of the shots I took recently whilst up in the hills above Saddleworth, trying to get a glimpse of these elusive lights.

Looking at this shot, there is the feint sighting of the green haze created by the lights, on the horizon.

Lowry Theatre

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) dukinfield lights manchester northern photography tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/going-back-over-old-pics---and-more-northern-lights Sat, 26 Mar 2016 00:55:27 GMT
52 project catch up - Weeks 8 to 10 http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/52-project-catch-up---weeks-8-to-10 Yep, it's another blog catch up with my 52 project, and already up to it's 10th week.....quite possible the longest 52 project I've done yet.

Firstly week 8 and the theme is Outtake.

Children's PortraitsChildren's PortraitsChildren's Portraits I chose this picture as technically it was an outtake from a wedding I covered just before Christmas 2015. It's the daughter of one of the bridesmaids and while my macbook was uploading a load of bridal prep shots, this little girl was doodling on her toy in the front room. I asked her to hold up what she had been drawing and this is the result. I love this shot as it's natural and shot in natural light too. Right behind me was a huge front window which lit this shot in a very dimly lit room, but captured the light in her eyes just beautifully.

 

Week 9 theme is Black and White.

Blue LagoonBlue Lagoon This is a shot from my recent trip to Iceland. It's a black and white shot of the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal outdoor spa which is just amazing and one reason alone to visit this amazing country.

 

Finally week 10 is 'Selfie'.

Red Nose SelfieRed Nose SelfieMe and my red nose The theme most photographers hate....that's why we prefer to be the other side of the camera. This is an old shot (yes it's allowed in the rules), taken last year for Comic Relief. I was having a play around in the studio and then working in lightroom to work on the processing. I wanted to capture shots similar to those taken of celebs wearing a red nose for the comic relief website. Also with Sport Relief just around the corner it's quite topical.

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) 52 project BBC comic day manchester nose photography red relief sport tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/52-project-catch-up---weeks-8-to-10 Tue, 15 Mar 2016 01:52:32 GMT
Have I caught the Northern Lights at last??? http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/have-i-caught-the-northern-lights-at-last Mothers Day, and a week after returning from my trip to Iceland, and the Northern Lights decided to make an appearance in the UK night sky.

Having just spent a few days in Iceland trying to see them, with no success, I get back home after spending the evening with family in Oldham and look on Facebook in disbelief.....the Northern Lights have been captured above the hills of Oldham!!!!!

My first reaction is "WTF!!!!" and convinced these lights are taking the piss out of me. So it's time to grab the kit and tripod, thick coat, hat and gloves and set off to see if they will appear for me.

My first port of call was Hartshead Pike, it's about 10 mins away from me in the car, and overlooks Tameside and Oldham and normally a great spot. Sadly not, and once again the cloud is proving to be my nemesis, so it's off out further into the hills.

Heading out towards Saddleworth, I decided to go through Greenfield and past Dovestones Reservoir. If you take the main road past Dovestones, it takes you, eventually, over the tops into Kirklees and Huddersfield. This was the road I used to take my shot of Dovestones that made the Manchester Evening News 2016 calendar...

....hehehe yep, any chance to get this shot in and a mention again!!!

This time I carried on up, determined that I wasn't let the northern lights beat me. I had just passed the Kirklees border sign and came across a maybe on the left hand side and decided this would be the place. I positioned the car so that I could place the camera on a tripod, facing North, just outside the drivers door, and with the remote cable in hand, and sat fairly warm inside the car, started clicking away.

It was so calm and peaceful up there, especially as it was gone midnight, and the peace was only broken by the odd car going past.

While sitting there, staring into the night sky, and wishing the clouds would drift over quickly, you're eyes start to play mind games with you, and you start to convince yourself that you've seen the northern lights. 

After a few shots, and not convinced that the cloud cover would give me a hope in hell, I then see a glint of hope looking through the shots, and believe I may have just caught a glimpse of the northern lights peeking through the cloud.

If you look carefully on the horizon and in-between the clouds you can see little glimpses of the green that is synonomous with the Northern Lights.

The two red dots to the right of shot, I believe may be coming from the Holme Moss TV tower that overlooks Holmfirth.

This second shot, shows a little more of the lights peeking through the cloud. It's amazing that despite using the same camera settings, which I'll go into more shortly, the white balance changes each shot (I was using auto white balance).

What was weird though was that the camera had captured, what I believe to be Aurora Borealis, yet due to the cloud and constant staring into the night sky, I couldn't see it with the naked eye.

I was sat here for over an hour, and having now discovered a couple of aurora forecast websites and a twitter account that keeps you informed of potential aurora  activity, I'll be keeping a beady eye on these and will at some point get better shots, and will also in the meantime research other places to view them.

All 3 of these shots were taken using my Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, camera on tripod and using a cable shutter release. ISO 1000, f/4.8 and a 15sec exposure, and most importantly, camera in manual mode.

These are roughly the recommended setting to take shots of the northern lights, and as you take each shot you can adjust the ISO, aperture and shutter speed to suit the look you are wanting to get with your pictures. The general rule of thumb is, use the widest aperture you can with the lens you are using, and if necessary, adjust the ISO to get the slow shutter speed you require. If the northern lights are putting on a great show above you and moving slowly, then you need to change your shutter speed to around a 30sec exposure.

So a little disappointed that I didn't see them in full effect, but it makes me more determined to see this spectacle with my own eyes, but then excited at the same time that I did manage to capture a bit of it through the camera.

Aurora Borealis, I've got my beady eye on you!!!!

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) lights manchester northern photography tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/have-i-caught-the-northern-lights-at-last Mon, 07 Mar 2016 12:54:58 GMT
Uncle Simon has his camera out again.... http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/uncle-simon-has-his-camera-out-again A couple of days back after my Iceland trip, and before heading off to the day job, I spotted by mothers, who was looking after my youngest nephew Elias.

Being a photographer you do try to take your camera with you every where you go, and especially knowing my photogenic nephews are around, you can guarantee the camera is with me.

After pulling out jigsaw after jigsaw, Elias finally settled down to watch Toy Story 2, and likes to sit in grandma's chair near the front window. This also gives me the opportunity to get out the nifty fifty and shoot some candid portraits.

My Nikkor AF 50mm 1.8D is my favourite lens EVER!!!!! Fantastic for portraits, especially in low light and when wanting to use just natural light only.

Aviation Photography Lovely and pin share is this lens, and looking forward to using this lens more when I look at upgrading to full frame later this year.

Being a portrait photographer, my 2 nephews are just fantastic to shoot, and love getting candid shots of them. It's true to say that my family aren't short of pictures of the 2 boys.

Lowry Theatre Also love experimenting with different processing in photoshop and lightroom with my portraits.

Lowry Theatre Elias is a perfect subject, and he always has a wide range of funny faces he pulls.

Lowry Theatre Whenever I can I always use natural light, although using bounce flash you can still get some excellent portrait shots in low light.

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) candids manchester photography portraits tameside http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/uncle-simon-has-his-camera-out-again Fri, 04 Mar 2016 12:19:51 GMT
Reykjavik - Day 4 - Back home!!! http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/reykjavik---day-4---back-home Yep, the time has come to pack and head off back to Keflavik airport and fly back to Manchester.

To say I've enjoyed the break in Iceland is an understatement. Yes it was disappointing that the northern lights didn't come out to play, but that didn't spoil our enjoyment of such an amazing place.

It was a busy few days but I wouldn't change a thing.....fantastic scenery, amazing adventures and good company and laughs with one of my besties.

I'm already looking into coming back, hopefully towards the end of this year, a second attempt to catch the lights and do more photography round Reykjavik.

Not being someone that's well travelled, it has now spurred me on to see more places and look into more similar city breaks.

Here's to my next trip...wherever that may be!!!!

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/reykjavik---day-4---back-home Fri, 04 Mar 2016 12:01:45 GMT
Reykjavik - Day 3 - Blue Lagoon & Northern Lights Night Cruise http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/reykjavik---day-3---blue-lagoon-northern-lights-night-cruise Final full day...and knackered isn't the word!!! 7am alarm clock, down for breakfast then the coach to the Blue Lagoon.

Slightly worrying that already on reception desk there is a notice stating that the night cruises have been cancelled tonight....will worry later as tiredness and chilling out is needed first.

Although there is slight disappointment that the Northern Lights have escaped us to far, we are still really enjoying our stay so far and this is another highlight.

The Blue Lagoon is situated near the geothermal Svartsengi power plant and is just an amazing experience. Once inside you get a wrist band attached that has a chip installed into it, and you use this band to pay for towels, robes, drinks and food whilst using the outside spa.

It's just a weird feeling, walking out in the freezing cold in your swimwear, and then into the lovely warm spa, where you can swim or walk all the way around and stay really nice and warm. It's strange too how in one area it could be almost boiling, yet 2 feet away a little more tepid, but still warm. Also amusing is wandering round here with your body in the nice warm spa, whilst holding a cold beer lol.

Blue LagoonBlue LagoonLowry Theatre

We arrived there around 10:15am, tired but looking forward to a nice chilled out afternoon, and it seemed the bus driver may have had little sleep the night before and was irritable...kept pressing the point that he was picking us up at 12:30, and not on gods clean earth were we going to rush our time there. Can't understand why he said this, as you get a little timetable stapled to your bus tickets that clearly display buses on the hour back to Reykjavik.

Blue LagoonBlue Lagoon

Can't recommend a visit to here highly enough. You can even cover your face and body in a Silica mud mask, leave it on for 5 minutes then wash it off and it leaves your skin nice and smooth.

We stayed in here till around 2pm, a good enough time to chill out and recharge the batteries and catch the 3pm bus back to Reykjavik.

Finally back to the hotel to find out that the Northern Lights cruise had been cancelled due to weather....so alas the lights have beat us this trip!!!

Needless to say though I will be back and hunt the lights again!!

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) blue break holiday lagoon lights northern outdoor photography reykjavik spa http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/reykjavik---day-3---blue-lagoon-northern-lights-night-cruise Tue, 01 Mar 2016 15:09:06 GMT
Reykjavik - Day 2 - Golden Circle Tour, Northern Lights and Late Night http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/reykjavik---day-2---golden-circle-tour-northern-lights-and-late-night Today is going to be a long 'ole day. Firstly there's the 8 hour Golden Circle tour, taking in the Pingvellir National Park, Geysir hot springs, the Gullfoss waterfall and Skaholt Church, then our re-booked Northern Lights night bus tour...fingers crossed it's not cancelled and the lights come out to play.

First stop on the Golden Circle tour is Pingvellir National Park. The part was the original site of the original Alpingi, the national parliament of the settlers, and is also the setting for many of the most important events in the history of Iceland. The views of this park is just stunning, this is a pano shot from a viewing platform not far from the coach park.

This stop is used on the tour as a quick leg rest and loo break, but gives you enough time to take in the breathtaking scenes. It's amazing how when you stand and admire these views, you suddenly don't feel the cold.

Time for quick touristy photo no.1...

Hop back on the bus, and off again 10 minutes later for another quick stop....either the driver is wanting to pan out the trip or has a weak bladder. Time though to see more of this national park, and a rather precarious walk down a pathway...honestly don't know how the pair of us didn't end up on our arses!!!!

Quick touristy photo no.2....

After a half hour stop here, it's onto Gullfoss and to view the Golden Waterfall. The waterfall is located in the Hvita river, and cascade 32m down in 2 stages.

On the way to this waterfall, our tour guide (who was really good I might add!!!), was going on about the restaurant nearby which sold traditional Icelandic meat soup, which isn't really a soup but more a broth/stew. We can both categorically justify that it's neither a broth or a stew, more like 3 litres of hot water with one chicken stock cube, a load of boiled veg and over boiled lamb....all for about £10!!!! I think the term we used was #stewmyarse.

Still this did warm us up, and felt sorry for Chloe whilst stood near the waterfall as I went into full photographer mode, trying to use filters whilst my fingers were dropping off.

Back onto the coach and heading off to Geysir, and the geothermal field in Haukadalur. This field is a natural wonder of hot springs and boiling mud pools. 

This is a pano shot of the field of hot springs....

Also a little further up is the Strokkur, which sends up a column of water, up to 30 metres high in the air, about every 10 minutes. Was quite amusing to watch all the tourists gather round as this shoots high into the air and let out a...whoooooo!!!!....bit like watching kids watching bonfires.

Next stop on the trip was Skalholt church, a stunning small church with an amazing view right next to it. This is the view with your back to the church.

Inside the church is a list of all the ministers who have served at this church, and over 90% of them have surnames that end in SSON. I firmly believe that those in Iceland who own a business that manufactures S's for signs in the country must be billionaires!!!

Whilst inside this church, which has some amazing stained glass windows too, there was a really moving moment where Chloe lit a candle for her nan.

The final stop on this tour is to Fakasel and the Icelandic Horse Park, and as neither of us had any interest in horses, we decided to make use of the bar there instead hehehe.

Overall we were very impressed with the Golden Circle Tour. The tour guide was excellent, the views were absolutely stunning and it's a great way to see Iceland. Also have to say the wi-fi on the coaches on the tour is amazing too, even in remote areas it was in full working order.

Finally back to the hotel, quick freshen up, bite to eat in the hotel bar (yep back in time for happy hour hehehe), couple of drinks, and then back out for our re-booked Northern Lights bus tour.

The difference between this tour guide and the guy on the Golden Circle was unbelievable. Having set off and finally away from the lights of Reykjavik, we pulled over in what I think was a lay-by whilst travelling up into the Iceland mountains. I can only think that the driver and the tour guide thought they may have spotted the Northen Lights, but it was plain to see that all you could see was light pollution from Reykjavik in the distance. This stop also created an impromptu photography lesson from me to a small group of Japanese tourists.....bill is in the post lol. Thankfully this didn't continue at the main stop, especially as Chloe would've had to resort to desperate measures to get rid of them lol.

Back on the coach, and off to a motorway services for a 45 minute stop off, this followed by a quick tour of the car park from the driver...god knows what he was doing, and then off to our final destination.

There we were, in the middle of nowhere, the tour guide assuring us that he's put in a call to someone above (WTF!!!!), and approximately 12 coaches descended on someone's house, with us all piling out all over their fields trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Sadly to no avail and there was only so long you could stand in a few feet of snow without loosing the feeling in your feet, and trying to take long exposure shots whilst others are flashing torches all around you. This was the nearest we got to a shot of the Northern Lights....a brief moment when the clouds parted...

Northern LightsNorthern Lights Very tired and cold, we finally got back to the hotel just gone 2am, knowing that another early start was waiting the next morning to the Blue Lagoon, but it will be a morning of relaxation and chill in the outdoor spa, followed by the Northern Lights night cruise....our final chance to see the elusive lights.

 

 

 

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) break circle golden holiday iceland lights northern photography reykjavik tour http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/reykjavik---day-2---golden-circle-tour-northern-lights-and-late-night Tue, 01 Mar 2016 14:46:18 GMT
Reykjavik - Day 1 - Welcome to Reykjavik http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/reykjavik---day-1 So our trip to capture the Northern Lights in Reykjavik begins, and after a late shift and 2 hours sleep it's an early flight from Manchester Airport, arriving in Keflavik around 10.15am.

We were expecting it to be cold, but boy we didn't realise just how cold until we walked out of arrivals at Keflavik and towards the waiting transfer bus. At the time it was around 5°C but felt more like -4°C!!!!

So we got to the Best Western Hotel in Reykjavik to check in, only to be told that the hotel was fully booked, despite the fact that we had already booked this hotel back in November 2015. Thankfully though the receptionist had upgraded us to a 4* hotel nearer to the centre of Reykjavik for no extra cost, and provided a taxi to the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, which I can't recommend highly enough!!!

The hotel is lovely, the food is amazing and the room I was upgraded to included a full on wet room, although to Chloe's amusement, she pointed out that I was given a disabled toilet....maybe the cheeky buggers took my age into consideration hehehe.

Attached to the hotel is a restaurant, where we dined on the first night, and the food is just amazing. The hotel also includes a bar, with happy hour every evening between 5pm and 7pm....obviously we made use of this facility hehehe.

The look of the surrounding area of Hotel Centrum is very nordic and very picturesque, and I'd imagine at Christmas time it just looks magical....although it looks magical now!!!!

Finally, after checking in, and unpacking, it was off into the centre of Reykjavik to jump on the sightseeing bus tour, starting at the Harpa, which is a very impressive concert hall and conference centre.

If you visit Reykjavik I do recommend this bus tour, and maybe if the weather was a little kinder to us we may have made more use of it and stopped off at some of the sights on the way.

As you set off from the Harpa, one of the first buildings you see is the Prime Minister's Office in Downtown Reykjavik.

Thankfully the bus tour wasn't an open top one, as it was bitterly cold and start snowing during the tour. After doing the tour we stayed on the bus to get off at a stop nearer the centre, solely for us to avoid the embarrassment of doing a Torvill & Dean impression on the icy pavements while walking back into the centre of Reykjavik!!!

Whilst waiting for the bus to set off again, I captured this shot of Chloe,  as the light coming through the bus doors off the harbour was just spectacular for a close up portrait shot.

I also managed to get a panoramic shot before the bus set off again, looking across from the Harpa, across the harbour and towards the snowy mountains.

Unfortunately the weather on this first day was grey, and snowy and also resulted in the cancellation of our Northern Lights night tour, but we are hoping to re-book and squeeze it in before the weekend is out and set off back home!!!

 

We eventually made it back into the centre of Reykjavik, via a hat shop, as Chloe's ears were about to drop off, and while waiting I decided to do a little Iceland street photography and captured this shot of a couple of Japanese tourists. 

With new hat and ears warm, not any old hat by the way, she had to get one with bobbles on we set off to walk to a nearby grocery store to stock up on coke, to go with my honey JD and Chloe's malibu, and as we did the heavens opened, and got caught in a mini blizzard whilst walking through the little square near the hotel.

So after a couple of drinks and a really nice evening meal at the hotel it was time for some much needed rest, as Friday it's the Golden Circle Tour, a full on, 8 hour day touring geysers and waterfalls, and (weather permitting) try to re-book the Northern Lights Tour for the evening!!!

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) break cold holiday lights manchester northern photography reykjavik snow winter http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/reykjavik---day-1 Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:16:46 GMT
Packing for short trip to the Northern Lights.....EXCITED!!!! http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/packing-for-short-the-northern-lights-excited So this time next week I'll be enjoying a fab few days with a mate in Iceland, and off to shoot the Northern Lights, but when you're just taking hand luggage you have to be very selective when it comes to packing camera equipment and clothes in the one case and keeping it under the 10kg weight. 

Surprisingly I've found this fairly easy, and after talking to a few others who have taken similar trips at this time of year, you don't really need to pack heavy jumpers, clothes, boots etc., and that the climate is not dissimilar to the UK at this time of the year.

So with a week to go, I packed the case with the clothes I'll be wearing whilst there, then added what photography gear I will be taking (stripping it down to the bear minimum but enough to capture what shots I'm after) and found i'm about 1.2kg under the maximum weight. I'll go into more detail shortly regarding the camera gear I'm taking!!! Another benefit of taking a trip to Reykjavik at this time of year is that the climate here is similar, albeit in Iceland at the moment it's a few degrees cooler, and you can turn up at any UK airport wearing your polar expedition clothes and not look out of place.

So to the camera gear.....well going is my trusty Nikon D7000, complete with charger and spare battery. The battery grip stays behind due to it's weight, and this allows me to take an extra lens, macbook or extra filters. So the kit lens (18-105mm VR) is coming, along with my Sigma 10-20mm (ideal for those wide angle shots for shooting the Northern Lights) and had considered taking my nifty fifty, but it would mean taking extra filters, and for the shots I'm wanting to take the kit lens would be more than sufficient. 

So this is likely to be the list of gear I'l be taking on the trip....

  • Nikon D7000
  • Charger & spare battery & 2 SD cards
  • 18-105mm VR Lens
  • Sigma Wide Angle 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC lens
  • ND1000 filter 67mm (for the kit lens)
  • ND1000 filter 77mm (for the wide angle lens)
  • Remote cable release
  • Cokin filter holders & set of ND filters
  • Manfrotti Compact Light Red Tripod
  • Macbook pro with charger lead and external portable hard drive

Just a quick note on the tripod. This tripod I accidentally bought just over a year ago from Curry's, and only after I bought it I realised it was designed more for compact or bridge camera. That said, I've since used it with my D7000 on and the Sigma wide angle lens, and found it sturdy and fantastic to use. This has now become my default travel tripod when I'm needing to keep weight down, here is a link to the tripod, ideal for a DSLR with small lenses on it, not for long telephoto lenses http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/cameras-and-camcorders/photography-accessories/tripods/manfrotto-compact-light-red-tripod-10010405-pdt.html

So that's me all packed and ready for a trip I've always wanted to take, and finally getting to do it, fingers crossed that the lights will be out to play, and packing as many trips as possible into the 3 nights I'm there, I'll try to keep this blog updated while I'm there.

 

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simonnortonphotography@gmail.com (Simon Norton Photography - Wedding and Portrait Photography) break dukinfield exposure holiday iceland lights long manchester northern photography reykjavik short snow tameside winter http://simonnortonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/packing-for-short-the-northern-lights-excited Fri, 19 Feb 2016 12:24:42 GMT