Posts in Category: Comment

Lockdown is easing at last

Lockdown is easing at last here in the UK. Although England appears to be slightly in front of Scotland and Wales in certain restrictions.

It can’t be easy for people who have to make the decisions to get life back to normal. Too quick and there could be a second spike. Too slow and the economy will be permanently crippled. Lets be honest would you want to weigh up the factors and decide? Whatever you do someone won’t be happy.

In terms of photographic opportunities before long we are only going to be limited by the great British summer. The weather has become somewhat unsettled with parts of England getting sunshine, hail, rain, thunderstorms and lightning. It’s as if it knows 🙂

[cue visual break]

Lake District, England

Lake District, England

It’s a shame that as we get our freedom back there is an increase in litter and unsociable behavoiur in certain places. Perhaps being ‘locked up’ for three months people have forgotten how to treat our countryside and beaches.

Lake District, England

Lake District, England

Wherever you are and wherever you may go taking photos, let’s enjoy the fact we can go out and visit different places again.

We might even be able to have a holiday and put the abysmal start to 2020 behind us.

Heres looking forward to the rest of the year.

 

Happy New Year

Happy new Year to everyone. I hope the Christmas and New Year festivities have refreshed your body and soul and you are raring to go for the new decade.

I might have mentioned I don’t really do New Year resolutions. If you want to do something you can decide that anytime, I don’t see the significance of saying it for a New Year. Of course your mileage may vary, as they say and that’s fine.

It is the time of year I tend to look at what equipment I have and whether it still allows me to do what I need. Most of the time if were honest it is not the the equipment holding us back though. Come on… I said be honest 🙂

I think I’m sorted for now. My Nikon CX and DX gear maybe old (understatement) but I don’t feel for what I currently do it is holding me back.

I still love my Nikon V1 for when I want to travel light. If I want to go even lighter there is always the smartphone. Yes I do enjoy photography with all my gear.

My old Nikon D200 is still usable for what I do and for me there is just something about it. I actually prefer using it to my D5300, Why because it fits my hands well (small isn’t always better) and I do like the output from it. There is something that appeals to me from its CCD sensor.

The output may only be 10mp but I have several prints hanging on my walls from that camera. I don’t need anything larger for what I currently do.

So I’m OK gear wise for now, but I think it’s important to consider what your gear choices are every so often and think if they are still fit for your purposes.

Christmas

Well that time of the year is almost upon us again. It seems to come around quicker and quicker.

This year I will probably be working for Christmas, for the first time ever. We have had to swap around the annual get together, but you do realise how many people do have to make adjustments at this time of year and end up working when most of us enjoy a break.

Whatever your doing  TMMA Photography wishes you the best of the seasons greetings and a Happy and peaceful new year.

Christmas with Garfield at the top

Christmas with Garfield and an angelat the top

 

Yes that is a Garfield on top of the Christmas Tree. A TMMA household tradition dating back years 🙂

Training

After the relaxation of our recent cruise it was time for me to go and get a job which involves a long period of pretty intensive training.

This will probably mean that for the foreseeable future blog posts could be a bit thin on the ground.

In case you were wondering the job is not related to photography, unfortunately.

I hope to maintain a bi weekly posting schedule.

 

Durham Cathedral

A recent visit to Durham Cathedral allowed a brief photo opportunity.

We had some family visiting so I wouldn’t class it as a photographic outing, but it did whet the appetite for a return trip.

The Cathedral can be busy with tourists so I would avoid peak season for photography purposes. If your going just for a visit you can take some photos that avoid people if you want.

I’ve added a selection to the 12 Pics series here of my adventures. While your there take in the impressive Lego Cathedral if you get the chance.

Durham itself could also be worth a wander around to complete a day out.

 

There’s been a drought

There’s been a drought …..in me posting. I really must use the schedule post feature more.

Well September became a busy month. We moved house and just about managed to unpack before a cruise celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.

On our return it was a matter of getting back into everyday life routine. Which is difficult after relaxing on a ship, getting served great food and remembering not to take (too much) advantage of the all inclusive drinks package.

I will post some pics in the coming weeks.

As this was more of a holiday than a photographic expedition I only took my Nikon V1 and a couple of lenses. At one stage I only used my phone to take pictures.

Walking around various locations there seemed to be a lack of ‘large’ cameras. DSLR users were few and far between. No wonder camera manufacturers are struggling.

The overwhelming majority of people were quite content (as was I) to use a mobile phone to capture images.

What a lot of gear heads on the forums forget is how the end product will be used. People using mobiles for their photography needs probably won’t show those images on anything bigger than an iPad [insert your preferred choice of tablet here].

In fact they more than likely posted to social media, got a few likes and that will be that.

As far as I can see the latest raft of mirrorless cameras still don’t seem to address the problems mobiles have eliminated. The ability to capture an image, edit it and post it to the internet all in one device. With a few taps of a screen.

Will ILCs ever have such a workflow?

I’m going to stop buying gear

I’m going to stop buying gear because whenever I get into a system things tend to go downhill.

My premise of buying into Nikon CX was to gain a smaller capable system and use the crop factor to extend my DX zoom capability.

I quite like my Nikon 1 system and still use it. Quite a lot actually. It’s not very often you can stick the equivalent of a 300mm lens in your pocket, carry it around all day and not notice.

In terms of extending my zoom capacity with the DX zoom it sort of worked. It would have been better if Nikon hadn’t of knobbled the AF to one centre point though.

Anyway the downhill part became the demise of the 1 system. Nikon couldn’t figure out where to go with it. By the time they released the V3 with the third different body style my expenditure on the system stopped. I’m feeling a bit of deja vu here.

As it happens Nikon’s expenditure on the system stopped as well.

On the DX side of things I started with a D70 had numerous bodies since and currently use a D200  and D5300. So you could say I stuck with DX.

For me DX is a nice compromise in terms of cost, weight, value and performance. I’ve happy with my DX system and for what I do don’t need full frame.

Now it would appear that DX could go the way of CX.

Im starting to feel the APS-C sector is going to become very niche. The only company really sticking to the format seems to be Fuji.

It will be interesting to see what happens as the APS-C segment comes under pressure from smartphones at the bottom end and lower pricing on full frame from the top end. This could also apply to m4/3 as well.

If you don’t need full frame will there still be a choice of formats long term? Or will we be forced to choose between a smartphone and full frame?

Fortunately there is more than enough pre-owned gear around to last for a while.

In the meantime I’m going to stop buying gear and see where the dust settles.

 

Catch up – June has been busy

Here’s a catch up – Due to a busy few weeks the blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground.

I hope to remedy this soon with a couple of articles about our holidays.

Life in general has got a bit busier too. I will try to make a concerted effort to return to a post a week.

While I’m happy with my current gear and have no intention of changing it, I have noticed a long time blogger of Nikon 1 gear is softening his approach and trying out a different format.

We have a wide range of equipment available to us today, take advantage of that.

Don’t be precious about what you use. A camera is a tool to take photographs. Ask a car mechanic, plumber, electrician or gardener about the tools they use. I bet a bag a doughnuts they don’t care about the make as long as it does what they want.

Keep calm…..go create 😀

Is the Olympus camera division on the ropes?

Is the Olympus camera division on the ropes? Several sites are reporting they might be forced to forgo their digital camera business. This has of course fired up the comments on various forums. Some in defence and others proclaiming m4/3 is dying.

The situation isn’t helped by Panasonic deciding to change direction.

So what’s the problem?

Well….It would appear to be the investors in Olympus suggesting a new direction. While their latest camera the EM1-X  might be considered an expensive model, somewhere within the rooms and corridors of Olympus HQ it must have been discussed and agreed to release that product at that price point.

It’s interesting that its the investors – reportedly foreign investors – who are asking for change. Does that vindicate the Olympus marketing and production departments? Maybe. It can’t be easy in the digital camera business these days. Despite comments on what camera companies should do from forum users, I think that those very users sometimes forget what they want may not be appropriate for other markets or regions. A few vocal Americans [insert your country here] may not be representative of a global market.

M4/3 may not be the only casualty

I still think that anything smaller than full frame could well be challenged in the current climate. It’s possible, to get some clear product differentiation that Canon and Nikon may give up on their APS sized cameras and cede market share to smartphones.

That would leave Fuji in the APS segment, effectively in a niche. Both in style and sensor size.

Will Nikon continue to produce what is effectively three different ranges of lenses? I’d bet a bag of doughnuts that Nikon will (officially or otherwise) let the DX go. And I say that as an avid DX user. I just hope that they don’t do a CX on it and neglect it to death. Nikon published a road map for their Z series lenses. Let’s hope they have the kahunas to tell us what they might do with DX.

Will other investors want out of the camera market?

If Olympus investors want out, are they the only ones? Will this prompt other investors to think along similar lines and want to change direction away from a declining market?

Let’s face it investors want a return. If that is harder to accomplish in a diminishing market they may very well want out.

That could mean Olympus won’t be the only one in trouble.

It could also mean investors increasingly calling the shots …..

Just for the sake of it

Have you ever done anything just for the sake of it?

At this time of year photography opportunities are limited. Either by weather or poor light. This tends to make me spend a bit more time at a keyboard and screen.

That leads onto me looking at the design of the TMMA website. Anybody that uses WordPress to publish a site will tell you its relatively easy to use and you have a lot of choice. The first part of that sentence is great. The second part can be a curse.

The choice comes in the form of all the different themes available to you and that you can easily swap between. Now themes can be very personal in terms of what you like and dislike. Fonts colours and styling all adding up to decisions you have to make.

As an example I prefer a dark on light easy readable font. I also don’t like huge dark areas in terms of website design. Hence the design of this website 🙂 Now I appreciate this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Light on dark could be more trendy, as could a more complicated style. A personal pet peeve is having to click on too many options to get to where you want. Hopefully I’ve avoided that here.

Not sure where the curse is?

I end up on these dark, rainy  evenings looking at the various themes available on WordPress and trying them out. From the wife’s point of view it keeps me quiet. But invariably after experimenting with three or four templates, I end up going back to more or less what I had.

The choice can be the curse. The same could be said for the range of equipment at our fingertips too. Will that new mega body give us a tangible improvement in our photography? For the most part no. Not unless it does something you need to do that your current body can’t.

So after having my annual look around at website themes, I’m back to where I started. There might be a tiny tweak here or there but for now it largely appears the same.

So have you ever done anything just for the sake of it?

Have Canon finally realised?

Have Canon finally realised what the rest us have known for a while?

There are several reports that Canon are predicting a slump in demand for cameras (that’s the short version).

Modest iterations from manufacturers and a lack of filling out lens lines, together with a shift to higher price units have all helped to subdue sales.

Apparently the full frame mirrorless sales are coming at the expense of DSLRs. Did they think we would buy one of each?

Plus as I have mentioned before there is still a lack of consumer confidence in several global market areas.

Even Apple are feeling the pinch, although on a slightly different scale. Apple appear to be citing difficult trading in the Chinese market. The cynical amongst us might say they have pushed the pricing of their latest phones a bit too far.

Speaking of high pricing, Olympus have joined in with their latest offering the EM IX. That is pushing $3000 for a m43 camera. At first glance that’s a lot of money for a small sensor camera compared to the full frame offerings around.

Several camera companies have alluded to a repostioning to sell less cameras with a higher value. The way things are going that seems to be a tough call to accomplish.

The underlying trend though, would question the future viability of the APS sized cameras. With a shift to full frame mirrorless from both Canon and Nikon I can’t see the smaller sized siblings getting a lot of love.

The market is shrinking according to all the sales data and that puts the manufacturers in a dilemma. The current hopes pinned to full frame mirrorless and lenses in a new mount.

I’m still not convinced expensive mirrorless lenses and bodies are the solution…….

Is 2019 going to be your year of gear?

Happy New Year to you! To start off I have a question: Is 2019 going to your year of gear?

Now I’ve stated numerous times I’m not against acquiring new gear. For me it has to have a definite purpose, add something you don’t already have and for bonus points be good value.

So here are my thoughts, I fully appreciate yours may vary and that’s fine. We’re all different, if we all used the same lenses and produced similar work it would get tired very quickly 😀.

I find that at the moment my needs are met by less than a half a dozen lenses. I have a 18-55mm, a wide aperture 35mm, 70-300mm and a macro lens. Notice there are two ‘kit’ lenses in there. These are fine for what I currently shoot from a hobby point of view. They provide a good weight / value proposition for me. Also bear in mind I use crop sensor (Nikon DX) gear. All the shots on this website have been taken with what I call modest equipment.

Here’s the indecision.

The two lenses I struggle with are macro and an ultra wide. Taking the macro lens first, I tend to swing a bit like a pendulum on whether I should have one. It seems when I don’t have one I miss it. When I do have one I don’t necessarily make full use of it and may even leave it at home! It would appear my close up needs are met by a Raynox adapter which is a lot easier to carry around although admittedly not quite the same.

That brings me to the ultra wide angle lens. I tend to have an on off relationship with a very wide field of view. Over the years I’ve had various lenses in the 10-24mm range (35mm equivalent)  on my DX cameras. Having been brought up on film cameras I got use to 28mm (on 35mm film) being wide. I’ve never really been able to shake that. Perhaps I need to experiment with stitched panoramas rather than trying to get everything in a single shot.

So is 2019 going to be your year of gear?

Umm….No. In a few of my posts I promote experiences over gear. To put my money where my mouth is we already have three experiences lined up this year. Well, to be fair my lovely wife already has three lined up. Two for my birthday and a big one for a big anniversary, later in the year.

Between that and some other changes in the TMMA household I’m hoping to reverse my somewhat dry spell of photography.

Have you ever noticed that photography is a bit like exercise? The more you do the more you want to do. But when you start skipping a session here and there your motivation goes quicker than the Millenium Falcon on the Kessel Run (two points if you get the reference 😀) . It can be a struggle but somehow you have to force yourself back on track.

May you have good light for your endeavours in 2019.

Black Friday 2018

It’s Black Friday 2018. Every year it seems to get more underwhelming. In fact if you squint you might even miss it this year.

Normally the bargains are thrust upon us. In 2018 it seems you almost have to go looking for them.

Im not saying that’s a bad thing though. Perhaps it’s finally dawning on people that the so called reductions may not, in fact, be that good after all. Shock. Horror.

In the UK we still have austerity. Despite the government trying to tell us different. I’ve not come across many people who would say their ‘feel good’ factor is any better than it was a year ago.

We are also on the verge of the great Brexit deal. How great that deal is  will be open to question and probably be debated on ad nauseoum for a lot longer than anyone wants. Either way the uncertainty isn’t helping consumer confidence.

My opinion on Brexit is the country voted for it. Get on with it. We live in a democracy the people had their say. Someone is always going to be upset it didn’t go their way. In that case do we do the best of two out of three? Three out of five? Where do you stop?

Ok, let’s keep it photographic 🙂

If your up for some new gear I hope you get lucky with Black Friday or maybe even Cyber Monday.

On a personal note the only thing I’m up for at the moment is some spare batteries. I don’t actually NEED anything else.

I don’t know if I should think myself fortunate or a bit sad…

I’m going with fortunate 😀

It’s a balancing act

It’s a balancing act these days. My new found interest in Astrophotography has resulted in a new found interest in the weather.

Keeping an eye out for clear nights is now something I do more often. The balancing bit comes in with fitting the odd clear night around family commitments.

According to the weather forecast we are looking at cloud and or rain for the next week or so. Oh well.

Talking of balancing acts, we photographers quite often have to manage compromise. How much we spend on a piece of gear versus  have much we will use it is a common one. For hobbyists it’s harder than professionals. Why? Because a pro will look at it as a tool. Does it add value to what I do? How quick will the payback be? For the rest of us it’s more a case of want than need.

How much have you got?

Another compromise amateurs make is what gear to actually take with them on a shoot. Too much gear can lead to analysis paralysis. You have some FOMO (fear of missing out) by leaving something behind. So you end up lugging a suitcase of stuff around – just in case. Chances are you will only use one or two lenses on that hike or day out. The rest is extra weight.

OK. What do you do?

Im fortunate in that I don’t have a huge amount of gear. I balance my photography needs with the needs of the family. (Plus the wife keeps an eye on the spending😀).

I’ve got less than half a dozen lenses for my Nikon DX body. I can usually leave a couple of lenses at home without too much anxiety. If I’m really unsure I might leave them hidden away in the car.

My CX kit is a different kettle of fish. I can cover (the FF equivalent of ) 28 – 300mm in three pocketable lenses with not much weight. Whenever I’m out I always carry a spare battery for whatever body I have. In reality I very rarely use it though. Theres that FOMO again.

More often than not my balancing act is do I take the DX or CX kit. If I’m going out for potential wildlife shots I.e. birds, dragonfly’s etc, I’ll take the DX kit with a CX body and FT-1 adapter. More urban adventures and I’ll take the CX gear.  Hiking it could be either. Or a combination. In some ways I’m glad I don’t have more.

In choosing the right gear your balancing what you think you’ll shoot against what you’ll actually shoot. A planned day out for photography can make that choice easier, but  how many times have you grabbed a camera bag to go out ‘somewhere’ because the sun is shining? Or your just going out anyway. I have to admit I do that all the time.

Sometimes I get some reasonable shots, others the gear just stays in the bag and I enjoy a day in the sunshine.

Whatever your up to may you achieve a suitable balance.

New genre or new gear?

Heres a question: new genre or new gear?

As one who has little interest in the new Nikon mirrorless offerings (or any full frame for that matter) it occurred to me that some people maybe spending too much effort thinking about gear.

Instead how about a new genre. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy new gear. What I’m suggesting is whether a new genre could be more stimulating to your photography than a new camera.

Fancy macro?

How about exploring macro? There’s a fascinating world to look at when you get close. You could start off with a raynox adapter which will yield very respectable results for little outlay. See told you I wasn’t against buying gear 😀.

If you decide to pursue the macro bug you may want to consider a specialist macro lens. I’ve achieved some great results with a 60mm Nikon micro lens. Yes Nikon confusingly call their macro lenses micro. Most other manufacturers call them macro. Anyhow… I would suggest a lens no shorter than 90mm if your going to photograph insects and the like. They will spook  if you get too close to them.

How about Astrophotography?

With the nights drawing in now I thought that’s it even less hours for photography. But…. why not take advantage of that. Explore the Astro scene. Of course that is weather dependent, but we do get clear skies in the winter. Now and again.

My first attempt – may not win any prizes but it’s certainly got me interested.

Are there better ways than spending a dark cloudy evening curled up in front of a wood burner with a hot chocolate and an iPad searching for astrophotography on safari?😀

Go on then what do you fancy – new genre or new gear?

I decided to go the Astro route this winter and see what would happen. I already have some suitable lenses and a decent tripod that I can use. There we are – minimal or no outlay for a whole new interest.

It also renews a long dormant interest in astronomy that I had since looking through a telescope as a kid. Boy that was a long time.

Anything else?

Well now you mention it…. when people ask me what sort of photography I do, my immediate response is landscape. Fair enough loads of photographers enjoy shooting landscapes.

Crummock Water

Clouds and shade – Crummock Water

When I go through my images on the computer, which I do quite often, I could say that actually I do a lot of macro as well. The amount of macro photos I take compared to landscapes is a lot closer than I thought.

Close up of a wasp

Example of one of my macro shots – Close up of a wasp

Should you specialise in a particular genre? Some people do and some don’t. You might find something  that takes you in a completely new direction.

I’m currently considering what I should do. I live in a beautiful part of England that naturally lends itself to landscapes. To get the best of that your really looking to be up early (I’m not a morning person) or catch the golden and blue hours at the other end of the day.

I quite like macro work and it’s not always about bugs.

I’m going to try to do some Astro ( or maybe some night landscapes) at least until next Spring and see if I end up with stars in my eyes.

So new genre or new gear?

 

Edit: it appears this scheduled post has unintentionally overlapped with the release of The Astronomy Photographer of the Year results. You can find the overall winners of the competition at rmg.co.uk.