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 ….

 

Back to the blog

The start of another year, the hope of keeping to new years resolutions.

No, I have not taken a membership to a gym, neither have I taken to pounding the roads by running myself into oblivion, instead, I will attempt (note I did not say promise) to keep more regular postings here with my various camera outings.

My recent self imposed challenge with just using a 50mm lens in 2017 was enjoyable, forcing the creative side to find the more unusual take on a subject, it is something I will continue doing throughout 2018

As well as my favourite fifty, I will be mainly shooting 35mm, essentially my two favourite focal lengths, but I will also be adopting the ‘square’ format to my armoury this year.

Over the festive period, I was reading articles on the various formats used in photography, the 6×6 ‘square’ was the one that piqued my interest.
Used in the past by the medium format photographers with their twin reflex cameras, I love the way this format frees the composition out of the constraints of the rules of the thirds.


As most modern cameras now allow the facility to change aspect ratios, with their advanced EVF’s it is possible to view the cropped frame within the viewfinder.

A recent trip to Avon Dam on Dartmoor was the first time I tried this, it was a little odd at first, not seeing the whole image in the usual 3:2 aspect ratio where it filled the entire screen / viewfinder.

I like the way the image fills the square, leaving no empty spaces at the edge, the eye is drawn immediately to the subject.
I particularly like the way that Black & white images suit this format.

It is going to be fun discovering the everyday, in a new perspective, and hopefully as much fun sharing the images in more regular blogs

50mm lens challenge – second outing

Today saw just my second outing of my self imposed single lens challenge

I prepare for each outing the evening before, where possible, so batteries are charged, and I would normally select a camera bag based upon the lenses I would normally choose to take with me.

The one lens challenge makes this ritual easy, the smallest camera bag I own with a couple of spare batteries and a lens cloth!

I am beginning to appreciate the versatility of this focal length.
With decent wide apertures, 50mm can create some lovely soft focus close up shots, but stopped down to F8, I can also get some good landscapes.

With overnight rain and a promise of some early sun, my hope was to catch water droplets on flora with a little of the diffused morning light.
I was not disappointed.

At just the second outing I am ‘seeing’ the shot in my minds eye, before I have the camera switched on, I honestly thought this process would take longer.

The only time I really wished for another lens, was for the butterfly, but in all honesty, I am really happy with the shot I got before it flew off, and at no other time did I feel I was missing out.

One camera one lens

As a keen amateur photographer, I have bought into a camera brand, then over a period of time have built a collection of lenses to suit the different kinds of photography I enjoy.

For each trip, I inevetably end up packing a couple of camera bodies, and 3 or four lenses I feel will do the job for that days outing.
While I like to be versaltile, I think the time has come to set myself a challenge.

I have a good selection of vintage prime lenses, I like them all, but I feel that I am not getting the best from them for one reason.
I am not using one lens enough to really know how to get the best from it.

Am I able to picture a shot in my head with one particular focal length before I compose with the camera?
No.

I read many photography related blogs, more recently I have read about fellow amateurs, setting themselves a challenge, for instance, monochrome only shots, a picture a day from one location and one camera, one lens.

I have always enjoyed using prime lenses, I like the sharpness and bokeh of the single focal length, if I had to choose two focal lengths, I would go for 35mm and 50mm.
Using a fuji x100s – it has the 23mm fixed lens (35mm equivalent) , it is great for street and landscape alike.

But I want to set myself a challenge with a focal length I do not use as much , so I am going to use a 50mm focal length over the coming weeks.

I have paired my Sony A7 with my Pentacon 50mm 1.8 and I will have in my camera bag, the camera, the lens, spare batteries and a remote release.

The more I thought about my self imposed challenge, the more I wanted to actually get it started, so here are the opening offerings from day one of my one camera one lens challenge.


All taken along the River Exe and Exeter city Centre

 

 

 

 

 

By the sea

Growing up in Salcombe, meant that from an early age, I was going to have a love of the surrounding coastline and the sea.
I have fond memories of summer holidays in my dads boat either fishing, or exploring the many hidden creeks and beaches.

Fishing was often for mackerel in those long summer weeks of the school holidays, but mainly for bass, a fine fighting fish and tasty to eat as well.
My early forays into bass fishing were hard on the windier days, as I clearly remember the misery of sea sickness, until I finally got my ‘sea legs’

These days, I do not do as much fishing, but with my love of walking, I still find the same pleasure in discovering the many coves and inlets to be found upon the coast path.

With my photographer’s ‘eye’ the many textures and colours to be found are plenty, especially with the variety of plants and flowers that can be found.

 

Powder Mills – Dartmoor

Situated just outside of Princetown on Dartmoor, the Powdermills Pottery is one of the many places on the moor with a rich and interesting history.

The powdermills were built around 1844, to produce gunpowder or ‘black powder’, for both the military and the local granite quarries such as Foggintor, Swell tor and Merrievale and tin mines in the local area.

The remains of the original powdermills are now listed by the Department of the environment as sites of special or architectural interest.

Remains of the flues and water wheel housings are well spread around the area, this being due the volatile nature of the product being manufactured!
Local leats were used to power the water wheels for the manufacturing process.

Public footpaths within the site will take the keen walker to two bridges in one direction, or the magical Wistman’s wood in another.

For the photographer, the site offers an abundance of textures, colours and ruins, that make Dartmoor the fascinating place it is.

Using vintage lenses

My enjoyment of photography leads me to reading and researching a lot about the latest advances in photographic technology, or just reading about how other photographers approach their work.

One such article caught my interest about 18 months ago, a former pro photographer was using his old film camera lenses on his digital camera with the help of an adaptor.

Many of todays mirrorless cameras facilitate such adaptors very easily, so I set about a little more research, eventually acquiring such an adaptor for my Xpro 1 Camera.

The adaptor (M42 screw mount) cost around £15 (no electronics for autofocus) , the lenses anywhere between £10 and £75 – this being my pre defined budget, some of the more sought after vintage lenses will command a lot more in terms of price, but there are some little gems to be found even in the lower price range.

My first acquisition was the much talked about (in forums and such) Russian Helios lens, a 58mm F2 (helios 44-4), a well built lens that at shallow depths of field, produces a swirly bokeh that is liked by many

At F2 the images can be soft around the edges but stopped down, it is a lovely lens to use, especially for portraits.

I really enjoy the tactile experience of a manual focus lens, it has taught me to be more deliberate in my approach to a shot.
Yes, there are times when I have missed certain shots that a modern autofocus lens would have nailed, but somehow, the shots you do get feel like a reward.

It is strange to think that when these lenses were the technology of their day, the lens flare and the faded rendering of colouring of the odd one or two, were considered to be flaws, now we have a more nostalgic view of them, it is called character.

Over the last few months I have acquired a number of lenses, the ones above being in my ‘most used’ section.

Of course, they will not be for everyone, today’s lenses are pin sharp, machine made precision products, with fast autofocus and for wedding photography, I would reach for the native lens without a doubt but for my own enjoyment, vintage lenses have taught me to enjoy photography even more.