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]
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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……
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.
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.
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.
Camera: Iphone SE
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.
And my favourite of the day, an unexpected visit from a RAF Hercules:
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. 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:
Went through here:
And ended up along here:
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:
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:
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)
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.
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.
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 27 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 – 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 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.
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.
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 – 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:
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:
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:
I couldn’t have made a better job of putting this here myself. It’s like it was jammed up between the two branches.
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.
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, 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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
An anniversary visit provided an opportunity to return to Albert Docks, Liverpool. This wasn’t a photography visit Per Se, so I just used my phone and added to the 12 Pics series here.
You can see that in some of the images the phones camera was starting to struggle a bit. Perhaps a flagship model would have coped better?
On the one hand the images are OK as record shots. On the other, the photographer in me thinks I should have used one of my cameras rather than my smartphone.
Nobody pays any attention to people using smartphones to take pictures, but in some places using a ‘big’ camera would have security guards twitching. You cant help thinking if you were doing anything untoward you would blend in better with a phone.
Normally I would have brought my Nikon V1 as my travel camera, but for this weekend I left it at home. There could still be an argument for something more capable than a phone but not the size of a DSLR.
I hope the race towards full frame mirrorless doesn’t leave a gap in the smaller more portable camera category. The trend at the moment seems to be mirrorless full frame with big expensive lenses.
Just when people need a smaller alternative it looks like that option could have less choice in the future.
Highlands 2018 gallery has been added to the 12 Pics section after a recent visit.
You never really know what sort of weather you will get in Scotland. You could get rain, sleet, snow and sunshine all in one day.
Our last trip saw some lovely sunshine with warm temperatures.
We also had some cloud making for very overcast conditions. As the light changed the colour of the water also changed from a nice blue to a dull grey.
Not much you can do about the weather so enjoy what light there is and if doubt click away. You can always hit the delete button later 🙂
Highlands 2018 can be found here.
There’s some new pictures added to the Eyes Down gallery here.
Here is an example:
My son Andrew takes all the images in the Eyes Down gallery. He has Down Syndrome and some communication difficulties but enjoys going out and taking pictures with his father. He is also has a gift to make people smile.
It’s fascinating to see what Andrew finds interesting. He liked the ducks on the water above, sometimes he takes pictures of paths other times its signs.