One frame – Bluebell view

One notable absence from my photographic calendar in the last two or three years, has been the annual pilgrimage to photograph the bluebells at Emsworthy Mire on Dartmoor.

This particular location is very popular with photographers, as it has a barn with a rusting tin roof to add contrast to the trees surrounding it, as well as the blanket of bluebells that parade their late spring splendour in the sunshine.

I had imagined that this well photographed scene would form the basis of this particular ‘one frame’ post but as I looked through the many images I captured on the day, it is this view that I particularly liked more than the cliched image.

The said barn is hidden from view just right of centre in the cluster of trees but it was the wall in the foreground forming a kind of frame that I liked, the small cluster of bluebells at its base, then the centre ground with its cavalcade of colour that completed the scene for me.

In just a few days, this scene will disappear for another year but the memories of this beautiful late spring morning will remain.

One frame – early doors

An early Saturday morning in Salcombe, sunrise is at just after five thirty AM, so I am up and about around five, still a two hour lay in from my weekday mornings!

Hoping to capture the first light of the day, it takes less than ten minutes to walk to the town centre and one of my favourite harbour views.

The early melody of the dawn chorus is rudely interrupted by a pair of attention seeking gulls, their squawking turned up to eleven for maximum annoyance.

By the waterfront, I wait patiently for the sun to rise above the skyline but a layer of thick cloud decides to linger a while longer, so no colour filled skies but there is some rather subtle light.

For all of my regular visits to my home town of Salcombe, I have not captured this picturesque town as often as perhaps I should, at least today, I am doing just that.

The featured image was the third frame of the day, the hues of ‘blue’ hour make for a striking contrast as the first light turns up for duty.

It’s not rude to point …. and shoot

For about a year now, I have been shooting exclusively with older cameras, my hankering for the latest and best, a thing of the past as I do not need a camera with the latest video technology, neither do I need a trillion megapixels when the majority of my images are shared on social media.

There is nothing wrong with the latest and best, I am not a hater in that respect, I have simply realised that they are overkill for me.

Up to last year, I would never have entertained the notion of using a small ‘digicam’, until I stumbled upon an online video of Charlie Waite, the world famous landscape photographer, extolling the virtues of his Lumix LX5….

I often set myself challenges for my weekend camera walks, this weekend I had decided to shoot exclusively with a point and shoot camera, with no ‘bigger camera’ as a safety net, as I very often do.

A trip to a favourite steam railway was the venue, the weather, a grey overcast and drizzly affair that was a perfect challenge for the tiny sensor camera.
The fun in using these cameras is just to see how far they can be pushed, as well as how far they can challenge me as a photographer.

I have learned to really like the way they render monochrome images for that imperfect and grainy vibe that adds atmosphere to an image, most of all my photography has become fun again, without my self imposed expectation to get the perfect shot that comes with using more expensive gear.

It’s all black and white to me….

Since my foray into using smaller digicam style cameras began, I have noticed a distinct change in my mindset in my photography when I am out on my regular walks.

My DSLR style cameras are the serious, well educated older brother, aiming to excel at everything, where as the smaller cameras are the more streetwise younger sibling, a little more fun to be around and a more adventurous nature.

It is the fun nature of these cameras that makes me experiment more with them, just to see what I can get out of their small sensors, subsequently, over the last few months I have found myself taking more monochrome images because I have learned to embrace the grain or noise produced at comparatively low ISO’s .

As most cameras these days have some option for storing custom settings, I have made a monochrome custom setting that shoots in JPEG with an in camera Black and white setting and am really quite pleased with the images produced.

They are far from fine art photographic masterpieces but for me, they capture a mood or a moment that will evoke a memory years down the line, it is after all the moment, not how sharp an image is.

A selection from the last few weeks …..

What’s in my bag? the retro collection.

Even before the cost of living crisis had become a permanent fixture in our daily phraseology, I began to notice just how much new camera gear was beginning to creep up in price, of course all the latest bells and whistles come at a price but it was my eureka moment and realisation that I neither needed or wanted to continue in the upgrade game any more.

My fifty days at 50mm project was the start of my appreciation for older cameras that I could not have bought brand new, I purchased a canon 5d Mark II with the canon 50mm F1.8 lens and really liked the results I was getting from a 14 year old camera.

Towards the end of this project, I was starting to look at ideas for my next photographic chapter, a few youtube videos later and I was digging out my Lumix LX3 that had been hidden away since its purchase in a charity shop some months back.

I did my usual homework of looking at images on various websites, the images from this little powerhouse were superb and so begin my journey down the retro camera footpath!

It was a box of older camera gear purchased from a friend of a friend for a good price that has made me continue this remarkably fun foray into older camera gear and since it will continue for the foreseeable future, here is a list of my retro collection.

The newest additions to my collection are the Lumix LX100 and the Sony RX100, both of which are finding a space in my somewhat lighter camera bag.

The new (but old) addition

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been awaiting delivery of my latest older camera acquisition, the original Sony RX100, so today’s musing is centered around my first shoot with this little compact.

The RX100 was first released in 2012 and while I did look at the reviews and various videos, it was not something I would consider at this time, I was too obsessed with seeking my holy grail of photography, ‘full frame’.

How times and mindsets change, the RX100 now fits well into my criteria for an older camera, I was looking forward to taking it out for its first shoot, to the East Devon seaside town, Budleigh Salterton.

Having only just picked the camera up from the Royal mail parcel collection office half an our previously, this was going to be very much shooting with an unfamiliar camera and customising on the hoof, rather than doing so in the comfort of home as I normally would.

Fortunately, the menus of the RX100 are laid out in a similar way to other Sony cameras, so I was not a total stranger to the settings so was able to get taking photos in no time.

If I am being honest, I was not sure how much I would like the RX100, one of my first dalliances into full frame was a Sony A7, of which the image quality was stellar but felt a very sterile experience to use, it was rarely the first camera I chose to shoot with for my own personal use but very reliable and capable for any paid work I was doing at that time.

The same cannot be said for the RX100, it is an absolute joy to use and will find a regular place on future outing for certain.

Out with the Canon S100

I would have been out for my normal early Saturday photo walk today but was looking forward to receiving another bargain ‘older’ camera for my slowly increasing collection, however the postman decided to ignore the polite note I had put on the door asking him (or her) to knock loudly, instead giving me one of those annoying red cards to tell me I wasn’t in!’

With rain forecast for most of the rest of today, I decided to head into town, not something I normally do on a Saturday but I wanted to get out for some fresh air and to stretch the legs.

Deciding on just the S100 and a spare battery, it was good to have just the minimal gear, as it turned out, having the smaller camera was just perfect for what turned out to be a really fun shoot.

Approaching the city centre, it was clear that some sort of event was happening, as a small crowd had gathered, encircling a group of Morris dancers, as they performed.

With no huge camera around my neck, the small S100 went unnoticed as I milled around the gaps in the crowds taking pictures of the colourful costumes and dance routines.

As I made my way around the city, other groups in varying costumes were also performing, this was a great little spontaneous shoot!

As the dancers had come to the end of their shows, I was able to catch groups of them heading to other parts of the city, this is when the predicted rain began to fall, even better for some moody street scenes.

In the space of less than an hour, I had taken a good number of shots, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well the S100 had performed in dull light conditions.

A reawakening

It has been a while since my last blog entry, those never ending grey days of March had left me somewhat disinclined to write, my literary creativity suspended in a state of belated hibernation.

Perhaps it was last weeks return to British summer time and the thoughts of longer hours of daylight that triggered a more positive mindset and a desire to write about today’s photo walk.

Even though today was yet another overcast day, I was keen to embrace whatever hand the weather gods had dealt me, it was a metaphorical reawakening.

My ongoing ‘project’ of shooting with older cameras continues, however I have sold the Leica X1 and DLux-6, for a healthy profit and invested in a Lumix LX100, which is finding a regular place in my bag alongside my LX5.

More and more, I have found that I like to use the LX5 for monochrome images, I like the way the CCD sensor renders the image, so I have also saved a custom setting on the LX100 to shoot monochrome which I tried out for the first time today, I was not to be disappointed.

As with the LX5, the LX100 has a dedicated aspect ratio dial, this is something I use regularly, perhaps because of it not being a feature hidden away in the depths of numerous menus.

I have made plans for another outing tomorrow, hopefully my writers drought is over, as I look forward to the coming months.

Winter wonderland walk

As I have made my way to work over the last few days, a spell of icy weather has given us some cold frosty mornings, as the weekend approached, I was hoping that there may be a chance for me to capture the beauty that winter provides all too rarely these days.

As my alarm went off at a leisurely six forty five, I was still somewhat reluctant to remove myself from the warmth of my cosy bed but the forecast was good and I would not be happy to miss out on the chance of some wintry images.

It was clear that just a few minutes in that today was to be one of those fabulous photographic days where there is something at every turn, the early glow of the sun, the dusting of hoar frost coating anything it touches with its icy sprinkles, the sheer joy of seeing the day come to life.

I managed a ten mile hike on today’s walk and offer a selection of today’s offerings, there may well be a second post from this wonderful winter walk.

Keeping the habit.

In autumn last year I posted a blog about always carrying a compact camera of some description while travelling to and from work during the week.

Through the autumn months, I took plenty of images of the changing colours as I walked through local parks and public gardens, from mid November the Christmas markets, were easy fodder, food stalls, vibrant displays of Christmas decorations adorning the many and varied stalls.

January will always be more of a challenge, often grey wet days do their best to deter my short impromptu photography walks but today I was determined to buck the trend and attempt to keep the habit going.

My bus journey from work takes me to St, David’s station, from there my walk home takes around 15 minutes, it is this area of my home city that I decide to capture a few frames of what to me is familiar ground but trying to capture the grey bleakness of a January afternoon.

The images were taken with my Canon s95, one of my bargain purchases last year but a camera I often reach for on my daily commute and a camera that is just fun to use.