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!

 

 

Travelling light

Over the years, I have dabbled with many different makes of cameras, always hopefully, looking for the best one I could possibly afford, and yes, of course I have coveted full frame and Leica cameras.

The full frame dream became a reality a few years ago, having acquired the Legendary Nikon D700, an absolute tank of a camera but with the ability to produce some really good images.

But here lies the issue,  I found after a while that I was taking my smaller mirrorless cameras out more than the Nikon, just because of the weight.

Over the last 12 months, my mindset with regards to the importance of sensor size has changed, so much so, that for my personal photography I use Micro four thirds cameras.
I still have a full frame camera but this is used mainly for work shoots, where I like the extra resolution and low light performance for the bulk of my shots, but the close up images are taken with the M43 gear.

Just recently, I have added a little gem to my M43 list, the Lumix LX100, a camera ticks the take everywhere box, its 24-75mm equivalent lens, has a fast f1.7 aperture and lurking inside, is the m43 sensor!
lx100

Using the LX100 is a pleasure, great for those days when a good hike without a bag of gear is required.

I have managed some really good candid shots with the LX100, to all intents, it looks like a compact snapshot camera, but produces some quality shots!

Steam days

One of my favourite camera days out is visiting the various steam Railways we have in the south west.
Buckfastleigh is one of my favourites, where during the course of the year, they host a number of events that are always well attended.

The original railway ran from Buckfastleigh to Ashburton, first opened in on 1st May 1872!

The railway never made much profit but was used to carry coal, cider and agricultural goods.
The railway stopped carrying passengers in 1958, freight continued to be carried until 1962.

A group of businessmen announced an intention to reopen the line as a tourist line and in 1965, the first rolling stock arrived.

In 1969 services commenced between Buckfastleigh and Totnes, the line to Ashburton was lost in 1979, due to the widening of the A38

In 1990, the line was taken over by the South Devon Railway trust, the line renamed South Devon Railway.

I doff my metaphorical hat to those volunteers who help keep these wonderful reminders of our heritage going, giving so much pleasure to many.

Sunday’s outing started with a cloak of grey cloud and drizzle, my immediate thought was to capture the essence of this in monochrome photos, to create a ‘film noir’ or ‘brief encounter’ style shots

 

A mixture of steam and mist really brought my vision to life…..

A big thank you to all the staff here at SDR, they are so obliging to requests of photos, they helped make this trip one of my favourites by far!

Once the weather began to brighten, I saw an opportunity to use a vintage style post edit on some of the shots, some of these are my favourites of 2018, but I am certain there will be many more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black and white

Throughout my own photographic journey, I have always been inspired by black and white photos, from the early pioneers, to the masters of photojournalism and street photography.

It is not hard to be inspired by the work of Henri Cartier Bresson, Gary Winogrand, Vivian Maier and Jill Freedman to name just a few.

There is something about working in monochrome that seems to capture the essence of a moment in time, and while it is clear that one has to master the tools we use, being in the right place at the right time is an art in itsself.

I experimented with black and white film, in the very first few steps of my own photographic journey, but in all honestly lacked the knowledge in utilising it to its full potential.

It was once I had bought my first ‘proper’ DSLR that I began to take an interest in the masters of film, honing my photographic education from books or information gleaned from the internet.

There is something I still love about leafing through pages of photos from around the world, of so many different subjects, borrowing ideas or becoming inspired by so many talented photographers of a bygone era,

My own photographic philosophy is to attempt to capture the everyday, but to add my own touch if possible.

Any photographer will tell you that they look for textures, shapes or contrasts, all these become so much more relevant with black and white images.

The image of the cranes in the above sequence of images is such an example, through early morning cloud, there was something about the contrasts I liked and while the image looked good in colour, the monochrome was just so much better, especially with a slight vignette to focus on the centre.

The underside of the road bridge just had to be taken with a conversion to black and white in mind, the textures, light and shadow are all the things I love about photography.

Had anybody told me that I would take great enjoyment from street photography, I would have never believed them, I never felt confident about portrait or street photography, but as I have become more assured as both a person and a photographer, I have found that talking to a possible subject breaks the barriers, often the conversation turns to the cameras I use.

In Exeter, we have a plethora of very talented buskers, today, finally I had my camera with me to take the following shots

Today was just one of those days when I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and while I will always hope to be as good as those that have inspired me, I always come away from a photo walk with a sense of enjoyment and achievement.

 

 

 

 

January in Sidmouth

The day starts off with its usual grey, insipid cloak, this has been the norm for the year so far.
Deciding that the moors would not be a good idea after the recent rains, today’s venue is an early jaunt to Sidmouth.

The closer we get to our destination, the skies show a promise of clearing as sun lit clouds make a most welcome appearance.
Approaching the sea front, the wind is still keen to make its prescence known, but the sight of sun dappled waves lapping the pebbled shore and golden sun rays, reaching like fingers into the sea, is a sight I will never tire of.
Bwater 3

Joined only by dog walkers and those looking for a newspaper to read with their breakfast and coffee, the beach is pretty deserted for now.

Watching the clouds float by, I decide to take a few long exposure shots, the waves on the breakwater, the clouds sailing across the sky….


As the tide ebbs, a chance to walk across the full length of the beach is too good to miss, a chance for the customary stone stacking, and foraging for images….

 

As usual, time has wings and flies so quickly, the beach fills with like minded folk, seeking to enjoy the rare visit of sunshine.
On winter days such as this, the light is not too harsh, the contrasts of the red rock against a blue sky is such a change from the monochrome cloud and rain we have endured throughout the last few weeks.

With such inspiring landscapes upon my doorstep, it is not hard to see why tourists flock from far and wide during the holiday season, but for me, the true beauty is to see these places in the quieter times, when we have a chance to stand and stare.

Rainy days

I woke this morning to the usual grey insipid skies so common for this time of year, but instead of merely supping copious amounts of caffeine and staying in, decided to take a walk into town with the idea of capturing some monochrome images of my home city.

Exeter is blessed with so many side streets and alleyways, perfect for light and reflections to show upon the slabs or cobbles.

 

For a Saturday morning, the streets were bereft of the shoppers that are likely to appear later in the day, I actually like the feeling of having the city to myself while I move from place to place in a world of my own.

A January outing

The festivities are well and truly over, January sees life return to a semblance of normality, for some, it is a month to hibernate away from the cold, damp weather, for me, it is an oppotunity to capture popular summer haunts in their winter clothing.

Cafes remain closed, their owners taking a well deserved break before the coming season, beaches bereft of sandcastles and brightly clad bathers.
The gentle solitude of a seaside town in winter has its own kind of beauty, it is a chance to capture a place in another mood, an opportunity to capture the things that can be missed as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of those warmer days.

A recent visit to my home town of Salcombe for a couple of days, offered a chance to capture the town in its post Christmas lull….


Winter time often gives some wonderful lighting, the textures of the quay area caught my eye as the light fell uopn the walls and floor, equally, the long exposure taken at North sands gave a very pleasing end result.

Working with my self imposed square format perspective with my photos, has made an enjoyable hobby even more so, as I am seeing different ways to shoot everyday scenes.

Even the days I travel back from my visits to Salcombe are often photo opportunities, a quick trip to Slapton, capturing images between the rain showers ….