New year challenges

I am not one for New Years resolutions as such, but try to set certain goals I would like to achieve in each new year.

I have no desire to join a gym, only to give up half way through the year, nor do I wish to go vegan to conform with the masses (I have no issue with veganism , I just enjoy bacon butties far too much!)

Instead, I will be looking to set a number of photographic challenges for myself, one of which will be one I started a couple years ago, one camera, one lens.

As with many hobbies, it is easy to become obsessed with the latest gear, the biggest sensor, or the next new lens, so for a lot of my outings this year, I will be taking just my X100f, a 35mm equivalent fixed lens camera, and documenting my progress through the year.

Instead of buying mew gear, I will spend money on trips to places I have yet to explore, that list is growing week by week.
My work rota works in such a way, that I have a 3 day weekend every three weeks, so the potential is there, it just needs me to be organised

I have been inspired by a number of blogs and videos with other photographers who have set this as their challenge, many have said how it is challenging in the beginning but found the restriction liberating.

I know my temptation will be to sneak my 18mm samyang lens and trusty pro camera into my bag but I really want to do this!

While I mentioned that I have the makings of a list of places to visit, I will always welcome suggestions, but as I do not drive, I am heavily reliant on trains and buses, this in its own way is a great way to explore hidden gems.

A different aspect

One of the most enjoyable aspects of photography, is the inspiration we get from others, either through blogs, youtube videos,image sites or magazine articles.
It is through a variety of these mediums that became the theme of today’s outing …..

A few months ago, I finally became an owner of an IPhone, no, not the latest all singing, all dancing tenth generation, but a refurbished 5s, which for my needs, is more than ample.
I had no real intention of using the phone for photography, after all, I have a camera (or 2) don’t I ?

That was until, watching an online video, I was introduced to the hipstamatic app, which in brief, simulates various film effects and lenses.
So I dabbled with a few combinations and began to like the various effects it could produce.

As with many of these apps, it has spawned a number of websites, fan pages, social media groups and such like, where I have learned more about its capabilities.

The app restrics the user to the instagram style square format image, something I had started to employ in some of my outings earlier this year.
Square format appears to have the same popularity of marmite, either you like it or you don’t.
I like approaching the different aspect of filling a square, rather than a rectangle, it helps to perceive composition in a new way.

So after a proposed photo shoot was cancelled today, I decided to make use of the unexpected spare time to take some snaps of what may be considered the every day, the mundane.
It is possible to shoot images within the hipstamatic app but on this occasion, I used the square format of the phone’s default camera, so I could edit while enjoying a cuppa or 2 in a local cafe.


Slowly but surely, I am finding a few combinations I really like, as shown in the above images.
They may not be worthy of entry to the Magnum photo archive, but it was an enjoyable way to further my creativity

Back to basics

As a consumer in the tech market, we have so many choices at our disposal when it comes to buying electronics and such, TV’s with ever sharper screens and thinner profiles, audio that can be streamed throughout the house and closer to home for me, cameras with ever increasing megapixels, 4k video and a plethora of functions that often lay dormant in a sea of sub menus.

Interestingly enough, for all our advanced tech, retro technology has seen a resurgence, in terms of music, vinyl records have become trendy again, and film photography is very popular amongst students and keen amateurs once more.

For a few years now, I have had a wish, that camera manufacturers would produce a camera for people like me, that do not wish to record video.
Yes, Leica cameras are for people like me, but the asking price is just not within my budget….

Then, a couple of days ago, I was asked by a friend, if I would build him his new gaming PC, for a modest fee and a box of camera gear that he thought may be of interest.
No, there was no Leica amongst this box of goodies, a few vintage lenses, that I can happily put onto one of my mirrorless cameras.. and this 5d

The original Canon 5D, now known as the 5d ‘classic’, a camera now in its teens, so to speak but still highly regarded as one of the best DSLR’s ever made.

It has a 12mp sensor, no touch screen, no video capabilty and a maximum ISO of 3200
and 9 focus points but for me, it is perfect!

Paired with a 50mm lens, in 2018 this camera is still very capable and a pleasure to use

The above images are taken with the 5D, I can clearly see why so many photographers still rate this camera even now

Shooting at 35mm

In my most recent blog post, I wrote about my desire to travel light and my subsequent purchase of the Fuji X100f.
With its fixed lens of 23mm or 35mm Full frame equivalent, it is a camera that encourages creativity, in that I now have to zoom with my feet!

Up until this week, my work rota meant that I had managed just a couple hours worth of local street photography, but over the last couple of days, I have had a chance to use the camera and customise the settings to how I like to shoot, a kind of breaking in, if you like.

When I was packing my camera bag, the decision on which lenses to take was suddenly gone, it was a case of spare batteries, lens cloth, and a filter set, in my smallest camera bag.
It was done, no extra camera body, no extra lenses, just the one camera, one lens.

My travelling light decision had been in the back of my mind for some time, then one evening I started reading online articles on how other photographers had made a similar change, or simply decided to shoot one focal length for a given time.
I liked the observation that many made, in that, they began to see the compsosition of a shot before the camera was at their eye, or that you begin to know the chosen lens inside out.

My own observations so far, are that with the one lens, I am looking for different angles of a shot, often finding something nearby, I would have missed, had I had a zoom lens, so my initial worries of missing shots have been dispelled.
I felt more creative today, than I have done for a long time, finding the smaller details of subjects or just another way of expressing myself through the camera, a certain liberation from having too much choice perhaps.

The real test is going to be in the next week, where I am away for a few days and I have already decided to take just the one camera.


Above, and below  a few images from Shaldon in Devon, reflecting the lovely September sunshine.

 

 

 

Travelling light V2

In the years that I have been interested in photography, it is fair to say that I have not fallen into any one camp in terms of brand.
I have used Canon and Nikon, both of which have helped me to acqiuire the knowledge I have today, I have also used Sony, Panasonic,Fuji, and Olympus, from which I have had some wonderful images.

It is fair to say that I have experienced my share of G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome), but I have an inquistive mind and enjoy experimenting with techniques and different gear, again, this has been an investment in my own self learning.
Part of the acquisition syndrome is seeing images from other photographers with a different camera brand, thinking that if I had the same gear, I could aspire to the same quality of image.

While being inspired by others is a good thing, it is easy to forget that perhaps that very photographer has been using that camera setup for years and that he or she  knows their lenses and camera gear inside out!

In terms of my own development over the years, I know that I prefer to shoot with prime lenses, with 35mm and 50mm being my two favourites.
I appreciate the convenience that a zoom lens offers, but I believe that I am a more creative photographer when I am challenging my own creative boundaries.

This brings me to my first ever Fuji Camera I used, the X-Pro1 with a 35mm 1.4 lens (52mm equiv).
Those that know their cameras, will remember the early xpro series and even the early x100 series of cameras being inherently slow with autofocus, but this was forgiven by the way that Fuji cameras render colours,along with that amazing image quality.

I used manual focus only with my own xpro1, this alone, helped to hone my composition, as I learned to work at the cameras pace, not my own previously frenetic speed.
300+ photos per shoot dropped to pretty much half that number, but I ended up keeping 95%  more of the images I took.

Enough of the back story, fast forward to last weekend, where once again I was deciding which lenses to pack for my Sunday trip, thinking how much easier it would be, to take just one camera in the bag.

For most of Sunday, I used just one camera body, despite packing 2, enjoying the creativity of the single focal length I was using.

It was using the one body, that made me realise just how many lenses I had collected and could not use them all, so decided to back to a camera I had liked in the past ….
100f
I had bought the X100s a few years previously from Ebay and had loved the quality from this 35mm equivalent lens.

This morning was the first day off I have had since my new purchase, so with just the single camera packed into the smallest of my camera bags, I was off in search of some images with the latest addition.

The mix of sunny spells and showers offered some great contrast and shadows, but the highlight of the day, was the feeling of freedom from deciding which lens to use, which camera body,  as I had just the single option.


Above are a selection of todays shots, I have already resolved to take just this one camera with me on my next holiday in October

A place of solitude

We all have a favourite place, a place for contemplation, somewhere that possibly inspires us, or simply somewhere that is a haven from the demands of our ‘want it yesterday’ mindset.

For some, it may be the endless miles of sun kissed sand of a tropical beach, for me, it is the open expanse of Dartmoor, with its ever changing moods, its majestic tors and dramatic skies that offer solace from the mayhem.

While I have always lived within reasonably easy reach of the moor, it is only over the last few years, that I have come to appreciate this natural wonder on my doorstep.

During the summer season, Dartmoor is well populated with tourists, from the summit of many tors, a rainbow of  brightly coloured weatherproof jackets are mere specks in the distance, by some of the fast flowing river attractions, stepping stones are Dartmoor’s obstacle course for children and adults alike.

Yet, there are places to be found, that have yet to be reached by the ever growing tendrils of tourism, one such place was somewhere myself and my fellow Dartmoor / Photo enthusiasts had first explored back in the early spring.

While not far from the well beaten routes, the lack of car parking is key to the virtual anonymity of one of my favorite spots on Dartmoor.

It was hard to believe that in the middle of the holiday season, I was sat quite happily by a fast flowing river, in perfect solitude, watching cotton wool clouds sail across the horizon, with nothing more than a few Dartmoor ponies  and the occasional dog walker for company.

Those that know the moor well, may have a good idea of where I am talking about, from the images above, those that do not know the moor as well, will have a very pleasant surprise, when they stumble upon my place of solitude

Summer steam

Over the last few years, I have attended a number of the annual steam rally events between Devon and Cornwall.

This year, due to the way my weekend work rota fell, I was unble to attend two of my usual events, Powderham vintage rally and Bocconoc steam rally, in Cornwall.

However, this year, I was able to finally visit the Torbay steam Rally, previous attempts had been halted by wet weather.

The day was filled skies of blue, steam engines, vintage cars and motorcycles gleaming with the reflected sun, the owners proudly tending their charges, always happy to give a history of their cherished vintage machines

Each of the various classes of vehicles are given their own show area, each seemingly a mini community, a pool of knowledge,ready to help one another without question.

What is clear, is the sheer amount of hours that have gone into bringing many of these vehicles back to their former glory, a true labour of love, many taking years to complete.

Watching these vehicles in the parade grounds, is to see a part of our engineering history, whether it is a traction engine, classic car or vintage bike, each and every one has a story to tell, each as fascinating as another.

I always try, where possible to send a few of my photos to the event organisers, my way of showing a small token of appreciation for their time in making these wonderful events possible.

Sadly, this years event calendar will be run, machines will be back in the garage for more restoration or storage until the following year, rest assured, I hope to be there in 2019!