We all need an escape from the treadmill of our daily routine,that personal haven that offers a little peace from the damands of a hurried and frantic world.
My escape is Dartmoor, three hundred and sixty five square miles of vast open landscape of which I have barely scratched the surface of.
Home to ancient oak woodlands, towering granite monoliths and custodian of countless tales of folklore and fable.
Quarrymen, farmers and miners have toiled in this unforgiving landscape, their legacy the scattered remains of farmsteads and buidings for the inquisitve to explore.
I love Dartmoor in all it’s moods, serene summer days where skylarks swoop and soar, the landscape painted with the purple and yellows of heather and gorse, even those frequent wet winter days of mist and greywashed skies have a beauty of their own.
To me, Dartmoor is a source of constant inspiration for my photography and word craft alike, as well as an enormous sense of well being and gratitude that I live so close.
As I prepare for my impending house move, the blog posts may have slowed a little as I spend my evenings after work on the onerous task of packing boxes, allowing me the leeway for a few hours shutter therapy at weekends.
My last outing to Teignmouth was on the first train of the day at just after 5am, back in May or June, where the sunrise was at just after five thirty AM, with the first week of autumn already history, I catch the six fifty five from St. David’s for a seven AM sunrise.
With about thirty minutes before the sun’s daily ascent, the sky already has tinges of orange and blue and there is a noticable chill in the air, as the temperature sits at two degrees celcius.
While I was tempted to find a different viewpoint to watch the day break, the contrasts of deep orange against the pier seemed too good to pass up, out came the camera and the obligitory flask of tea as I watched the scene unfold.
It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly the sun rises from it’s inital appearance from the horizon, the blues and oranges from a few moments ago dissolve away in the blink of an eye, with just a pastel glow of yellowy orange paint the surroundings in an attractive glow.
With the sunrise part of today’s shoot done, I head for a local cafe for a cuppa and a fry up, my treat for my an early start, before moving on to explore Shaldon, just on the other side of the estuary.
My foray into older digital compact cameras began a few weeks ago after the purchase of a box of camera gear, my last few posts with the Canon G11 and Canon S95 were part of this collection but there are two more that have hardly seen the light of day, a more modern Lumix LX15 (LX10 in the USA) and a Lumix GF2.
Today, was the turn of the LX10, a camera with a 1” sensor, much larger in comparison to the aforementioned Canon cameras and a focal range of 24-72mm in full frame terms.
Heading into town later than normal on my Sunday walk meant it would be a little busier, it would be a good chance to get a little more used to the camera’s controls and an indicator as to how I might customize the user programmable function buttons.
There is a school of thought within the street photography genre, that there a two types of photographer, the hunter, who will keep on the move searching for those decisive story telling images, or the fisherman, who will pick their spot and wait for the scene to unfold.
I fell into the ‘hunter’ category today, finding a couple of favourite spots and waiting patiently for a potential image to present itself.
I did not have long to wait, as a young lad decides to play ‘spiderman’ in one of the shopping precincts, mum with increasing degrees of exasperation asking him to get off, as they have things to do!
I am make full use of the upwardly tilting screen, the camera has no viewfinder but this works to my advantage, with the camera not blatantly to my face to take the image, the lower perspective adding a little more to the image to my mind.
Since shooting with these compact cameras, I have begun to appreciate how unobtrusive they are, as well as their obvious difference in weight to my bigger gear. In the past I have been guilty of what I call ‘sensor snobbery’, falling into the trap of ‘needing’ full frame gear for my photography needs while not giving these versatile pocket rockets a second glance.
Full frame of course, has its place but I am not a professional photographer with demanding clients and tight deadlines, photography for me, is my release from my full time work and as long as I have some sort of a camera in my hand to record images from my weekend outings, I will always have fun in doing so.
Saturdays tend to be the days where I have a trip to Dartmoor or a little further afield from my home town of Exeter, where Sunday’s have evolved into my ‘stay local’ walks, often up and out before seven AM to enjoy having a city pretty much to myself while others luxuriate in their Sunday lie in.
For me, Photography has gone hand in hand with my hikes, long or short, so I cannot remember the last time that I did not take a camera bag with me, that is until today.
Those that are following my current chapter in my photography will know that I have purchased some older digital compact cameras at budget prices, the most recent being a Lumix LX5, which has been vying for a place in my bag with a Canon G11 and a Canon S95 but today, I have decided to take just the LX5 and a spare battery on my Sunday walk.
As a further exercise in my becoming more acquainted with the ‘5’, I have decided to make full use of the dedicated aspect ratio control that have become a feature of many Panasonic compact cameras, 16:9,4:3.3:2 and 1:1.
I became addicted to the 1:1 square format with my long since gone Fuji X100F, however this was only if I shot Jpeg’s, the LX5 will shoot RAW in this format, this would be my theme for the today’s walk.
Coupled with the ability to shoot close up at the wide end of the focal range, this gave me the option of getting some decent macro shots as I meandered my way along my chosen path. Naturally, with such a diminutive sensor, there will never be that separation of the subject and background but nonetheless, the image quality is very pleasing.
It is fair to say that I am having a blast using these older cameras, I love the G11 and S95 for the colours, the LX5 for its versatility but they have one thing in common, they have really brought the fun element back into my photography, as I find myself shooting compositions I may not have shot with my bigger gear.
I have a few days away in the coming weeks and I am seriously considering just taking my trio of compacts only, something I never thought I would ever do just a few weeks ago.
I am due to be moving house at the end of the month so I should really be getting my head around packing more boxes to make my life a little easier and what better way to start, by deciding to go out for another local camera walk!
In my defence, it was just after six thirty AM, my customary first brew of the day was already history and I am sure my neighbours would not be happy with too much disturbance at that hour on a Sunday morning anyway.
As I was so pleased with the new (but old) LX5’s images from yesterday’s outing, I decided to take just this camera and a spare battery, this diminutive little camera easily fits into a pocket, so for the first time in a very long time I, I did not even take a camera bag with me.
A few of the reviews on the LX5 had suggested that the in camera dynamic black and white picture profile was very good, so I have set one of the camera’s custom presets to shoot with this profile in JPEG only, I decided also, to make full use of the ‘5’s ability to shoot in the square format at the flick of a switch.
An additional post will be made in the coming days of the colour images from today’s sneaky outing but I was keen to share the images from the black and white perspective, before I begin the onerous task of sorting and packing for my impending move.
As my dalliance with older digital cameras continues apace, today was the turn of my Lumix LX5, for its first ‘proper’ shoot.
A trip to Dartmoor would give the latest recruit a challenge with the changing light but I would not be disappointed.
My enjoyment of shooting in the square format was soon put to the test as the ‘5’ has the ability to shoot 1:1 aspect ratio in RAW, a stroll around the footpath of Venford reservoir gave me plenty of chances to find some early autumn compositions.
Using the square format with the cameras macro mode worked very well, the level of detail was very pleasing to say the least.
When I started shooting with these almost forgotten cameras, I had envisaged the occasional day out with them, however, it would appear that they will find their way into my bag for some time to come as it feels as though I have rediscovered the hobby of photography all over again.
The latest of my bargain retro cameras has finally joined the ranks of my other digital compacts, the Canon G11, Canon S95, Lumix LX3 and Lumix GF2, a warm welcome to the Lumix LX5.
Since I was not able to try it out yesterday afternoon, I ensured the battery was fully charged and packed it into my work rucksack, so I was able to go for a quick photoshoot after work today, in my usual test arena, Exeter city centre.
Being very similar to my LX3, it did not take long to get used to the button layout, just as well, as I was going to be shooting between heavy rain showers, So I was keen to get a few shots under my belt before the next downpour.
One of the reasons shooting with these compact cameras is so much fun, is that nobody is bothered with this innocuous little camera, so I go about my photography unnoticed.
Knowing how good the images from the LX3 were, I was looking forward to seeing what the ‘5’ could do, I was not disappointed.
My last couple of blog posts have centred around a couple of older Canon cameras I recently acquired in a job lot of camera gear, today’s post will be about one of the other cameras from the same box and something a little newer, a Panasonic LX10.
This camera is around six years old, a digital compact design with a one inch sensor.
With a day of rain showers forecast, I decided to make the most of the break between the next cloudburst and take a quick stroll around the city and riverside for my now regular Sunday amble.
Much of my walk was spent getting used to the LX10, customising function buttons to my most used settings, while seeing just what this little camera was capable of.
For my landscape images it did well but where it shone was in my walk back through the city centre, where I took some candid shots as the world passed me by.
Nobody blinked an eyelid at the bloke on the bench with a point and shoot camera, seemingly looking at images with the camera’s tilt screen.
When I first acquired the Canon S95 camera as part of my ‘older camera’ theme, I never thought that it would be the first camera that went into my bag on my weekend outings, neither did I think for one moment that It would find its way into my everyday rucksack on my commute to and from work, for those ‘just in case scenarios’ that always seem to happen when you never have a camera with you.
Yes, I have a mobile phone but this dinosaur likes the right tool for the job, to me using a mobile phone for photography is like using a screwdriver for tightening a nut!
Saturday’s trip finds me at Budleigh Salterton, a seaside town in East Devon, where finally we may just see a little welcome rain, after what has been a fabulous summer.
A strong breeze is giving an autumnal edge to the temperature today, as I watch the grey skies beginning to darken with more menacing clouds, perfect for some monochrome edits later in the day.
Just as I am taking a minimalist shot of the clouds rolling in, a pair of herring gulls enter the frame, courtesy of a particularly strong gust of wind as they quickly regain control and hold a steady height in the wind.
Would I have had this shot with my bigger camera? perhaps, but the smaller camera is always in my hand as it has so little weight and the fact that I enjoy using it so much.
I had not intended to begin a new project so soon after my last one but typically my enthusiasm got the better of me and here I am, jumping feet first into my next, where I shoot with older cameras bought at bargain prices.
The last week or so has been like Christmas come early, where two packages awaited my return from work on consecutive days, my canon G11 and Canon S95. Spare batteries for both were to follow but I had to wait until Saturday morning before their first proper shoot, a walk around Exeter city centre and quayside.
With the S95 having such a small form factor, it’s potential for street photography is evident, nobody worries about a small point and shoot looking camera, the S95 is however very capable with manual controls easily to hand.
The G11 is bulkier but not hugely so, the longer zoom of 28-140mm will be something different after being so used to just 50mm.
The colours from both are very pleasing, canon’s colour science is legendary and with some beautiful light already present, getting some decent images was not difficult.
To say that I am happy with what these aging cameras turned out is an understatement, my previous shunning of small sensor cameras left in tatters as I have three candidates for my favourite photos of 2022 among this set of images.
With a Lumix GF2 and 20mm F1.7 lens waiting in the wings and a potentially successful bid on a Lumix LX5, both may have to wait a while for their turn on my weekend outings, needless to say I shall be looking forward to this Saturday and Sunday.