Is the end in sight?

Is the end in sight? The end to lockdown that is. There are some quite confusing reports in the media regarding this, but there is also the implication that we (in the UK) could look at a potential relaxing of the rules.

I’m sure everyone would welcome less restrictions. What form that will take is anyone’s  guess at the moment.

[Cue visual break]

It will be nice to get out and about again. One thing we miss is popping out for a drive and hopefully taking some pictures as well. That comes a close second to seeing the kids. While grateful of the ability to FaceTime is not quite the same.

The new normal in whatever form it may take should allow for some photography. I will be a bit rusty though. There’s only so many macro shots you can take in the garden before you lose the will to press the shutter.

While we wait in anxious anticipation let’s be sensible when we get the chance to go out. The risks won’t have totally disappeared just lessened somewhat.

We are looking forward to enjoying a holiday in a few months. It was booked last year when Coronavirus wasn’t a word you heard. Little did any of us realise the far reaching effects it would have on so many people.

If you have a getaway your looking forward to I hope you still manage to enjoy it.

Whenever it may happen and whatever form it takes for now here’s to lifting the lockdown.

Stay safe.

GAS and Covid 19

GAS and Covid 19 make a dodgy combination. We are a few weeks into lockdown here in the UK with, at the time of writing, at least another three weeks before even thinking about lifting restrictions is on the table. (I’ve provided some images for visual breaks).

Thanks to the NHS and all the key workers

Now before I go any further here is  A BIG SHOUT OUT to the NHS workers and all the other front line staff and key workers for all their efforts. We finally get to realise that we need dustmen, drivers and shop workers. The efforts of Doctors, nurses and other emergency services, care and council workers do not go unnoticed. They were there all along. We just didn’t think about it, didn’t need to maybe? Well we do now. Thank you to fellow care workers, our brilliant NHS and everyone else keeping us going through this pandemic.

Back to GAS

Now back to GAS (Gear Aquisition Syndrome, in case you were wondering) during  lockdown. With the benefit of technology we can continue to shop on the internet to satisfy our cravings for consumerism. It is a lot easier to think about buying gear you don’t need when you have found that elusive pack of nine toilet rolls. You can go easy now. In more ways than one.

So for those of us privileged enough not to have to worry about having supplies in the house it suddenly gets mundane. We get bored after binge watching our favourite TV series. What do photographers do next? We think about all the indoor challenges we can photograph. At the same time those niggling thoughts of whether we have the right gear start to creep in.

Do we need that new lens? Is 24mp really enough to capture the abstract of the dining room mirror? Is that tripod we hardly use really any good? Do we need a new carbon fibre one? The list goes on. It might be a coping mechanism though. Whatever you use Im not knocking it. We all need a way through this. Some might buy stuff, some might have a drink or two, some might write an article on a blog. Some might do all of the aforementioned. 😉

Ullswater

Ullswater, Lake District, England

Bizzare or what?

Is it bizzare that we actually look to increase our collection of gear when we know its not going to go outside for any meaningful use for at least three weeks? Yeah… I think it is to a certain extent. Although you could say there is a nice sense of anticipation.

In some respects we can, via online shopping, keep a little bit of our decimated economy going. I like to keep an eye on certain online stores and on the face of it they still seem to be doing not too bad. Unfortunately the bricks and mortar stores that were in trouble before the Covid lockdown hit are either struggling or really struggling. Some names have gone under Kath Kidson and Laura Ashley amongst them.

We have friends in the leisure and tourism sector. We hope they can weather out this storm. All the areas that rely on tourism are going to hope for an end to lockdown sooner rather than later. To all our friends in the care sector we trust you will also cope and come out stronger.

Whitehaven Harbour, Cumbria

Whitehaven Harbour, Cumbria

Hows it going to look post lockdown?

It is difficult to see how things will go back to how they were. Everbody in all walks of life are/will be affected to varying degrees. Tourism, retail and manufacturing are going to be feeling the consequences for a long time to come. They wont be the only ones. Hospitality and eating out could change in ways we can only imagine at the moment.

What about all that gear we bought when we couldn’t get out? We will keep it, sell it part exchange it? Guess we will find out.

Hopefully we will at least start on the post lockdown journey soon. We can escape the confines of our houses and take some photographs. Maybe just get some food from a take away, (pie and chips anyone?) enjoy it on a beach and contribute to local economies and local tourism.

When we do, lets not take it for granted, lets be grateful for what we have. Take in the beauty of these British Isles and realise that it is all a bit more fragile than we thought.

Stay safe.

 

Printing

Printing is something that is becoming rarer these days. Most images languish on a hard drive or get buried somewhere in a smartphone album. When we cant find anything else to do we might look through them. Like when waiting at the doctor or dentist, you get the idea.

Now it took us a while but we eventually got around to printing some images taken on our cruise late last year. We did have to buy a printer first though. A joint decision came to the conclusion that for what we wanted to do a relatively cheap Canon printer would suffice and save us a few bob over some commercial printing. We are only talking a couple dozen smallish prints here.

The printer model we have has a nifty little wireless print feature. I thought that would come in handy to do some direct printing from the PC. Thing is…. it turned out the wife had carefully put all the images into an album…on her ipad.

This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We ended up doing the printing wirelessly via the ipad straight to the printer. It was impressive how easy it was. So within minutes we had all the images printed. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again – technology is great when it works 🙂

The next step involved putting the prints into an album. This actually took me back in time quicker than Dr Who in the Tardis. I’ve got to admit that it has been a while since we did any printing for an album.

We have vowed to do some more printing of any further adventures we have… it’s a lot more fun looking through prints then flicking through them on a screen. I suppose we humans are a lot more tactile than we like to think.

When was the last time you did some printing?

Minimalism and photography

I decided to revisit my minimalism and photography post I did a couple of years ago:

Minimalism and photography. Do they go together? When people think of minimalism they tend to think of having to sort out their stuff and get rid of it. If you follow The Minimalists you will get a much better idea of the concept.

Everybody has their own interpretation of something they read and what they take away from it. At the moment part of my take on minimalism is:

Remove things that don’t add value to your life.

Adopt a conscious consumerism approach, buy what you need not what you want.

Think about using what you have before making a purchase.

Think about how much freedom you will have worrying about less stuff.

Whilst I am slowly reducing the amount of clutter I have, I’m not blindly throwing things out. There is a fine line though. The ‘keep it just in case’ pile is getting smaller in the house. Unfortunately the same pile in the garage is a more difficult task for me to tackle. I don’t know why DIY orientated stuff is harder to make a decision about. I’ve only just got rid of a steamer that hasn’t been used in about eight years. When I stop and think about it now, I can’t reason why I’ve kept it so long. The same goes for an old metal tool box with a collection of oversized spanners in it. A throw back to the days of DIY maintenance on the car.  Which I also haven’t done for years. Even the wife thinks of it as a family ’heirloom’.

By now this may start to be familiar in photographic terms. How many flashguns, lenses, bags, filters, brackets [insert anything else you can think of] do you have lying around? How many of these items are kept ‘just in case’?

So that bit of text in italics above is an excerpt from the original post. How am I doing on the minimalism and photography front? Not too bad at all. How about minimalism in general?  Could be better is the answer.

Now let me point out the other half is in no way a minimalist. I am still trying to do the conscious consumerism thing. That for me is working a lot better. In the past  I would have been a lot more impulsive on my purchases, Now its more a question of ‘well it still works so I’m good for now’.

Of course that will only work for so long…. But I am a lot more mindful of the things I buy. There’s that conscious consumerism thing.

In terms of my photography gear I am already reasonably minimal. I have a 18-55mm and a 70-300mm as my everyday carry in a small bag set up.

On top of that I only own another two lenses (a 35mm 1.8 DX and a 85mm Macro lens). As much as I try I just don’t like the results from anything wider than 18mm on DX. I have gone through a couple of 10-20mm lenses but I never end up keeping them.

I do go back and forth on the macro lens as well. I currently have one and will hang on to it for the time being.

My better half currently has my old D3200 (you forget how small they are) with a 18-55 and 55-200. Despite my best efforts though she doesn’t tend to use them much preferring her phone instead.

Nikon 1 V1

I Like my V1 but not enough to replace it.

I’ve also got My Nikon V1 and a couple of lenses. I do like using it but I’ve come to the conclusion that if any of It breaks it will not be replaced. I stopped spending money on that system a while back.

What I do seem to have is a draw full of chargers, cables and other stuff of dubious usefulness. I need to sort that lot out sometime.

If you are fortunate enough to have a few lenses for a challenge try going out with just one or two. Or maybe have a look at the metadata in Lightroom to see which you use the most. You might surprise yourself which focal lengths you shoot at.

So how do you cope when your partner doesn’t share your minimalism ideas? Well like most things in life you have to pick your battles 🙂

I have to admit I’m not a full blown minimalist but starting to think about what I keep and what I buy is a step in the right direction.

If your curious about minimalism pop over and pay Joshua and Ryan a visit at theminimalists.com. You never know it may change your life 😉

( Other minimalist advisors are available).

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.

 

Roaming in Rome

Roaming in Rome – an day excursion on our recent cruise:

If you have had the pleasure of booking a cruise the second thing on your list (after deciding where to go) is what excursions you do.

Booking our cruise so far in advance, the excursions hadn’t actually been released, so it was a return trip to the travel agent to sort them out.

We diligently went through the list for each port of call to see what was on offer. Fortunately they give you a rough guide to how long each one lasts. Some were 12 hours. That was too long for us so we opted for some 1/2 day excursions instead.

One of which was Rome. Now let me say it is impossible to see what Rome has to offer in a half day. A whole day isn’t much good either. Some would suggest you need at least a week.

Being both on a coach and grateful of not driving we got to see some sights that we wouldn’t have time to visit.

Opting for the half day tour results in only a couple of hours or so free. This afforded us enough time (much to the wife’s delight) to do a mini Angels and Demons tour:

Piazzo Nivarno

Piazzo Nivarno

Castel D'Angelo

Castel D’Angelo

We essentially walked a loop from the coach drop off point which between taking in the sights and finding our way around, filled our free time quite nicely.

There are a few things you notice about Rome. It has:
Loads of history
The Vatican
Loads of tourists
A graffiti problem
Loads of photo opportunities
You don’t want to drive there (think of driving in London but more manic and with more scooters)

Should we visit Rome again I think we would look at doing a couple of attractions in a day. One in the morning, one in the afternoon and do them well, without rushing.

As this cruise was an anniversary celebration, photography wasn’t the prime objective. I took my Nikon V1 kit and some lenses…..and did the typical tourist thing using my phone around Rome. I didn’t have to worry about lugging gear around or changing lenses. More importantly I didn’t have to worry about the wife hanging around while I tried to get the shot. There were far too many people to attempt ‘proper’ photography anyway.

Before leaving we had an idea of producing a small photo book after our cruise, so with this in mind decided that the quality from our mobiles would be more than adequate.

Using mobiles and a tablet also had the advantage that we could put the images in albums as we went. Depending on your choices you could organise your images by port, city, attraction, country, you get the idea. Not to mention social media updates were a breeze. Trying to do that with a MILC or DSLR would have required more equipment and a lot more faffing around.

Using a phone as a phone.

We actually did use our mobiles as phones. The included European roaming package we had with our contracts came in useful on several occasions. As soon as we reached a port the phones automatically connected to the local network. Get the title now?  Just in case you don’t know, DON’T use your mobile at sea, the signal gets routed through a satellite system and will cost a fortune.

The cruise was enjoyable, relaxing and everything we wanted, apparently we will be doing it again 🙂

Before we go on our next one I need to do some serious thinking about what gear, photographically I will take.

In fact I’m questioning whether my current collection of equipment is still suitable for my needs.

That’s probably a subject for a future post……

 

 

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.

 

Samye Ling Monastery

The Kagyu Samye Ling, a Tibetan Monastery and Centre for World Peace and Health,  now appears in the 12 Pics series here.

The first Tibetan Centre to open in the West in 1967, it occupies a marvellous location in a peaceful valley on the banks of the river Esk in Scotland.

Liberation Gate

As you can see from the images the place is colourful and bright. You can enter the actual Temple after removing your shoes. There are chairs along the back wall and it is well worth taking a few moments to enjoy the serenity and surroundings.

inside Samye Ling Temple

There is a shop and tea rooms on site but be aware that it closes for lunch. Now this might sound odd at first, but the thinking is the staff should have a lunch break too!

You can take photographs around the grounds and inside the Monastery .

The main car park is a short walk from the site. There are a couple of disabled parking spaces with wheelchair access to the main building.

For more details about visiting check the Samye Ling website here. The Samye Ling About page can be found here.

 

Camera: Iphone SE

The best camera

The best camera …… is the one you have with you. How many times do we hear that?

Now if you wanted to be pedantic you could argue for and against that statement. No matter how much gear you have (in value or quantity) is it any use if it’s not with you?

I happened to be out at the local airport and ..yep you guessed it the only camera I had was my smartphone. This was a slight oversight on my part because I normally have at least one of my cameras rattling around in the car.

So given the limited ability of the smartphone lens (the sooner they have decent zooms the better) I decided to go for it anyway and take a few snaps.

Plane heading to runway

On its way

Plane parked up

Parked up

And my favourite of the day, an unexpected visit from a RAF Hercules:

Hercules taking off

Take off

These shots were taken from the perimeter, with careful placement of the lens between the fencing.

Not too bad for some shots taken on a phone, I think.

 

All images IPhone SE.

Experiences not gear

Experiences not gear. A while ago I wrote about whether experiences or more gear would be beneficial to us as photographers. I also said I would be putting my money where my mouth is. So here are some photos from an experience I had for my birthday, along the Fort William to Mallaig railway line.

We started off on this:

Steam loco

Loco 45212


Sat here:
First Class

First Class

Went through here:

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

And ended up along here:

Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct

The ‘Harry Potter’ bridge or its more correct name The Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland Line in the Scottish Highlands. In the film its pictured from the other side. This image was actually taken on the return journey. If you’ve ever tried to take photos from a train carriage you will realise how many reflections there are 🙂

If your a railway enthusiast, at least in the UK you will be familiar with this line in Scotland.

It’s very popular:

Bun fight to get near the loco

It’s a bun fight to get near the loco

So what do you take photos of when you cant get near the engine? Well if your me, you look at the stuff other people aren’t taking photos of:

Coupling

Coupling

Workings

Workings

Nameplate

Nameplate

Steam Loco

One Final shot

OK I’ll stop there for those of you not into trains as much as I am.

The weather on this particular day was gloomy and overcast, we had to take a chance because we pre booked the tickets.

According to my wife though, it didn’t detract from my excitement 🙂

Should you fancy a trip along the Fort William to Mallaig railway you can find out more information at http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm

Arrive early in Fort William because you may have a longer walk from the car park than you think and it can get busy.

For at least part of the journey put the camera down, take in the scenery and enjoy the experience.

You’ll be surprised at how smooth travelling on a steam train is.

 

(Camera / lens: Nikon 1 V1, 10mm, last image Iphone SE)

 

 

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 😀