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.

Down by the sea

I have always considered myself so lucky to have grown up in a seaside town, where a love of fishing, swimming and all things nautical were always going to be deeply etched into my DNA.

As a child, the seaside meant buckets and spades, rock pools, running into the sea whatever the temperature, ice cream and the joy of seemingly endless summer holidays.

As a keen photographer, the seaside means textures and colours, fine golden sands or weathered shingle beaches, the sights and sounds of happy holidays and ….. ice cream!

Torbay, or the English Riviera as it was once so named, became a part of my life in the early to mid eighties where I attended college one day a week as I trained to become a chef.

While I enjoyed the thriving nightlife it had to offer, with a myriad of pubs and nightclubs, the attraction for me was still the beaches and coastal paths in the bay and surrounding area.

Lazy Sunday_on the beachbig wheel viewa view of the bay

So on a sunny Easter Sunday, there was no better time to walk the familiar sea front once more.

Torquay was thriving with the early season holiday makers, many of the and B&B’s and hotels now reopened and refurbished after their winter hibernation.

As much as I enjoy the solitude of a seaside town in winter, there is something about the way it comes alive for the forthcoming season, the gaudy displays of seaside toys, waiting to be bought, the hustle and bustle of the cafes and restaurants, the sound of excited children as they run from the still wintery water.

For me, the seaside will always hold these fond memories of my own childhood, it makes me happy to think in these days of games consoles, smartphones and such,  there is still a place for family time and a chance for another generation to build similar memories of their own.

Ashclyst Forest – Spring

Easter weekend is upon us, so attempting to find somewhere not too busy to go with the camera was not going to be easy.

How easy it is to overlook the many places virtually on the doorstep… enter Ashclyst forest.
Not far from Killerton house and gardens, Ashclyst is part of the national trust, so a well maintained area with several different trails of varying distance.

Finding a place to park just away from the main car park area, we had our chosen path to ourselves for a good half hour, even then, it was brief encounters with dog walkers.

An overcast morning, there was not much sunlight coming through the trees, also a little too early in the year for the abundance of butterflies that may be seen in the warmer months.

So with my favourite 50mm vintage lens and my trusty Nikkor 105mm F2.8 Macro, it was time to explore this quiet little haven, with just the sound of birdsong and the gentle breeze whispering through the trees….

 

Woodland exploration always fills me with wonder, the cycle of nature demonstrated so clearly with some branches festooned with last winter’s foliage hanging by gossamer threads, while others hold the promise of new blossom, seeking the warmth of a summer sun.

Ferns uncoil, fronded fingers of pure symmetry, while delicate wild flowers carpet the ground in a show of defiance from winter’s grasp.

I hope to explore the forest in summer, autumn and winter, watching the change as the year passes by.

Venford Falls

Another Sunday, another trip to the place that is fast becoming a second home, Dartmoor.

A bright and sunny April Sunday, this time to find the well hidden gem of Venford falls.

Armed with instructions on how to find the falls, we walk along the main footpath for a while until we hear the sound of fast running water in the valley below.

Our instructions recommend the use of walking poles to reach the falls, advice that would be well heeded as the walk path down is not that well trodden and is pretty steep! Finally we reach the sun dappled valley, with the falls cascading majestically below us.

Because the falls are so well hidden, we were able to take our time getting the shots we wanted without disturbance or interruption, perfect conditions for the long exposure shots we wanted.

From a photography point of view, the light was fantastic as it filtered through the woodland onto the ferns and floor below, where with one of my favourite 50mm vintage lenses, I sought out the most appealing images

The route we took back up was somewhat meandering, as we spent time looking for places to cross to the opposite path and while it is possible to cross the river in places, the rocks look very slippery, and the water flows through rapidly!

A place well worth visiting, but be prepared for some challenging terrain.