A celebration

We recently had a chance to attend a celebration of two people committing to spend the rest of there lives together. Or in other words a wedding.

Now I might of mentioned before that I enjoy a wedding. There is something special about standing up in front of friends and family and declaring your love for one person. I know I’m an old romantic at heart. My wife, son and I were fortunate to be invited as guests. We had no pressure and could relax and enjoy the day.

Now being a photographer you always keep an eye on what other people are using to take images. The official ‘togs were using Nikon and I dare say any other make would probably yield similar results if you know what you are doing.

But what about the guests? Well there was a very pleasant chap with a compact camera taking pictures at the evening do. Everyone else (including us) were using …….yep you guessed….wait for it…. our phones. Once the official photographers had gone there wasn’t a DSLR or mirrorless camera in sight. In fact all the guests throughout the day only used their phones. And yes the pictures did get posted to social media more or less as it happened.

Now mostly you are looking at a mid twenties group here, with a few either side just to spread it out a bit. Potentially these are the people who MIGHT progress towards a more fully featured camera in the future. Why is might in capitals? Because they might not.


What now?

Here’s the interesting thing. The phones provided enough video and still picture quality for those using them. Together with the ability to instantly share to social media.

Now whether us two bodies and a handful of lenses toting oldies like it or not, we have to accept younger people are not into imaging in the same way.

But what people use at one wedding isn’t definitive. No it’s not. But it isn’t just one wedding. It’s several weddings, birthdays, It’s when your out and about. The bag carrying photographer is becoming an endangered species. If you don’t believe me, have you looked at the latest sales figures widely available and commented on over the web?

We are witnessing a change in how society thinks about and records it’s activities. The camera manufacturers are like dinosaurs trying to wake up and come to terms with that. Don’t get me started on prints 🙂

I still don’t believe mirrorless is the answer. I’m not convinced it will attract enough new photographers to be sustainable. Anyone wanting a half decent kit now will have to spend a lot of money to carry around a device and some lenses that can only take pictures and has woeful connectivity.

Will smartphones take over?

Arguably they have already. We have a multi function device with internet access in our pockets at a (compared to cameras) reasonable price. Cameras not built into a smartphone will become more niche. Perhaps they are now. Do we ever recognise a niche until it’s happened?

My 26 year old son shows no interest in photography. At all. Judging from the similarly aged people at the wedding they are more than happy with their phones.

There in lies the problem. For us older non gear heads cameras are good enough. For the younger ones phones are good enough. Bridging that divide is going to be difficult.

The next time your at a celebration, be it wedding, birthday, anniversary, religious festival connected to your faith ,take a few moments out to see how people are capturing the event.

Most of all remember why your there, enjoy the day and capture the event and memories the way you want…………..

Snipe

Snipe – have you seen any lately? That was the question put to me in the bird hide. Actually I had. Only a couple of weeks ago at least four of these well camouflaged birds were about.

Heres a couple of them:

Snipe
Snipe

Snipe are reasonably common and love wet grasslands. The average lifespan is around three years for this medium sized wader. In a previous post I joked I needed to find bigger birds or get a longer lens. I took these images with my Nikon 1 V1 and the 70-300mm AF-P zoom. The V1 has a silent shutter and the 70-300 is extremely quiet in use. With the crop factor of the V1 and the 300mm end of the zoom that gave me an equivalent of 810mm lens.

If you look carefully there are definitely four in this image….possibly more

These birds have some marvellous gold and black bars with a brown and gold head and a very long bill. When they stand still they are very difficult to see and blend into their preferred habitat quite nicely.

Snipe in wet grassland
Only two in this picture

As you can see in the picture above the one on the right is harder to see than the chap on the left.

It was only when these guys started moving that I noticed them at all. Chances are if they had stayed still I might have missed them completely, that is why I always take few minutes when entering a bird hide. Set up the gear and have a look around before taking pictures.

Take your time and have fun.


Camera/lens: Nikon 1 V1, FT-1 adapter, Nikkor 70-300mm AF-P DX VR.

A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods – what does it do for you?

For me, I get outside, get some fresh air, say hello to other people enjoying the outdoors, listen to the birds and get to look around for potential pictures. I also pay attention to the weather, if it has been raining or is about to rain, watch out for squirrels or maybe deer and keep an eye on the light. While I do all that I get some exercise and get to relax.

And you thought it was just a walk in the woods 🙂

Some images from my last walk:

Cliff edge

In the picture above I imagined the lichen to running off the cliff a bit like lemmings. I don’t know why. Now I’ve mentioned it you can see it too, cant you?

How about this one:

Fungus on a tree
Stuck on or growing?

At first glance this fungi looks like it’s been stuck on this tree. I was fascinated by the shape and layering.

Talking of things that look like they’ve been placed:

Fungi between the branches

I couldn’t have made a better job of putting this here myself. It’s like it was jammed up between the two branches.

And finally:

Plant root
Waiting to ….

This root structure looks more like some creature that is about to jump out at you. In fact I was expecting it to move while taking the picture.

Don’t always look for the obvious

On this walk I could hear some woodpeckers although they were quite elusive. There were plenty of other birds adding to the sounds of the wood. All of them seemed camera shy on this particular day.

So I wondered about looking at what else was around. We’re almost into spring here so in a few weeks this same wood should have more leaves on the trees. Hopefully a bit more colour and some sunshine too.

I am going to make a point of returning to see the difference.

And I won’t just be looking for the obvious…

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 85mm Micro

Deer

Deer, sometimes you see them other times you don’t. It could be weeks in between sightings at the local nature reserve.

This morning I was fortunate:

Once this young chap noticed me, he didn’t hang around very long. I tried getting closer but he decided enough was enough and wondered off further into the woods.

If you ever tried photographing deer you will know they only tolerate you for so long. The slightest noise will spook them.

So today was a good day. Got some deer pictures, had a nice walk and enjoyed some sunshine.

It’s the simple things in life……..

Camera/lens: Nikon 1 V1, FT-1, Nikkor 70-300 AF-P VR DX.

A quintuple of black and white

A couple of weeks ago I ventured out with the camera. The weather wasn’t too good and neither was the light but I decided to put together this quintuple of black and white images.

Now if you are of a certain age and had a darkroom, you will know the nuances of using different papers and developers.

The best, richest blacks I ever got always seemed to be with Kentmere paper. The Kodak and Ilford papers of the time just didn’t seem to compare. Now I realise this is purely subjective, but that was what I found.

Either way its not quite the same on a monitor. I’m not saying one is better than the other, they are just …….different.

Each with their strengths and weaknesses.

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 70-300mm AF-P DX VR.

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 …..

Dont take pictures into the sun

We are frequently told not to take pictures into the sun, preferring to try to keep it behind us instead. In fact when the wife is out taking pictures on her phone I quite often remind her of this. To which the usual response is it will be fine. Much to my amazement they usually are as well.

Have a look at the photo below:

St Mary’s Loch
St Mary’s Loch, Scottish Borders

I wouldn’t normally take pictures like this, but on this occasion I think it might be OK.

That brings us onto how much we should think about photographic ‘rules’. I don’t normally pay much credence to things like the rule of thirds.  To me any ‘rules’ in photography should be considered more as guidelines. They may work in certain situations and they may not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the photo though. If in doubt shoot. You could always adjust the composition later if you need too.

Isn’t that cheating?

Changing things in post isn’t really a new thing. Although regarded as something that is only done in digital, anyone could do so using an enlarger. In fact burning, dodging, toning, changing composition by cropping are probably all things anyone with a darkroom has done. I certainly use to.

So I would say no its not cheating. It could be regarded as part of the process.

The next time your out and about taking photos don’t rigidly stick to the rules. Take the shot and see if it works.

You might even begin to develop a style without realising it.

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 10-20mm AF-P DX VR.

Seagulls

The other day I was out and about and happened to come across some seagulls at the local coastal town I frequent.

Nothing too unusual about that. You get seagulls almost everywhere these days, not just on the coast. Quite. But have a look at the image below.

seagull
This could be a black headed gull..which apparently for most of the year doesn’t have a black head

I thought there was something odd about this particular bird but couldn’t quite place it.

Seen it yet?

Yep…its standing on one leg, with the foot missing on the other. Now perhaps I lived a sheltered life but I’ve never really noticed this before.  I looked at the other birds perched around thinking this must be a one off  but to my amazement there was another bird with a foot missing.

I’d gone from not noticing this before to seeing two within minutes of each other. No they weren’t the same bird!

Getting a thing for gulls?

Possibly. I quite often watch seagulls and practice my BIF technique on them. And yes I do need the practice. Seagulls are plentiful and generally accommodating by flying quite low. They also seem to associate humans with food, so don’t tend to scare too easily around our presence. I recall getting mugged for my chips by a seagull in my childhood on Blackpool seafront. That was a very long time ago. Some 20 years ago a similar thing happened in Scarborough.

So for me the seagull has become a source of intrigue. I notice the differences between them, currently up to four different breeds.

My OCD will kick in soon and I will have to identify them so I can get a good nights sleep 🙂

Edit: I captioned the above photo. Told you my OCD would kick in.

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 70-300mm AF-P DX VR.

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.

Life gets in the way

Life gets in the way….. of all sorts of things. But just recently it’s got in the way of my ability to take photos. Now don’t get me wrong, I consider myself extremely fortunate and this is in a photographic context. Ive done a lot less photography in the last couple of months than I would of liked. There are two reasons for that. 1. The weather and more importantly 2. My disabled son.

Normally he’s not too much trouble and to be fair it hasn’t been his fault. He has a happy innocent outlook on life. He has also been blessed with a gift of making people smile wherever he goes.

We’ve been trying to arrange a supported living placement for him. Unfortunately it fell through at the last minute and we had to revise our plans. As did those who were trying to help us. As any carer or parent of someone with a disability will tell you, at times it can be incredibly frustrating. Not to be too negative, it is also very rewarding and you get to meet some amazing people along the way.

Due to all the commotion I didn’t really feel in the right frame of mind to go out and take photos. The December weather didn’t help much either.

Anyway… things now look like there back on track, thankfully. Hopefully my son can start the next exciting chapter in his life. Meeting new people and having new experiences.

Yes life gets in the way sometimes. But if it didn’t would we feel the same when we have the ability to go out on adventures, hikes or drives and take some photos? Would we still appreciate the scenes before us, even if it is raining? Perhaps not.

Photography for me is not just a hobby. It’s a chance to see different places, maybe meet some new people. Forget about the world for a while when your in the zone. It’s a therapy.

Whatever you are doing and wherever you are may you have a happy Christmas and good light for 2019.

 

You never know what you’ll come across

You never know what you’ll come across as a visit to the local coastal town proves.

It was a gloomy overcast December day and I thought I’d take my son out for a drive and maybe find something interesting to photograph.

After having lunch out we had a walk down the seaside promenade. Apart from a large contingent of gulls there was a small fishing boat out in the estuary.

Then my son got excited:

Boat emerging from port

He saw this ship coming out of port. We watched as it cleared the harbour walls and then headed down the estuary. I’m not sure what it was about this particular ship but he stood there and watched until we lost sight of it. Although it wasn’t huge it did dwarf the little fishing boat that was busy a few hundred metres away.

Now when I see a ship or a plane I wonder where it’s come from and where its going. I’m a bit weird like that, as my wife will testify. Well, she will probably just say I’m weird full stop. 😀.

But my son just enjoyed the moment of watching. 

Sometimes as photographers I think that’s something we forget: to stop and look at the moment. Take a photograph by all means but also enjoy that sunset, landscape, night sky, whatever it maybe.

Because you never know what you’ll come across….

 

Whats the difference between a boat and a ship? Apparently a ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship. 

Why are submarines called boats? That’s a conversation that needs alcohol and snacks 😀

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.