Photography Sunday #7: Where I Get a Severe Bout of Gear Acquisition Syndrome

IMG_0578It is quite possible that I had a slip of the credit card back in January and pre-ordered the new Fuji X100F camera. It finally arrived on Friday, and oh, it is beautiful. It’s a gorgeous camera, the fourth incarnation of the X100 launched some years ago. Those who have used one of the previous versions have raved about it, and I got all caught up in the hype and bought one.  It reminds me very much of my Nikon FM2 film camera. If feels sturdy, but not too heavy and has all the traditional dials of a film SLR. The Delightful Mr F and I went out and about in Bath to try it out yesterday. It was fantastic to use, and I can see this becoming a real workhorse for me.

It would be fair to say that I am now suffering severely from Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS*), which is a lot like Book Acquisition Syndrome (BAS) but manifests itself in the buying of photography equipment instead of literary material. There is method in my madness though. 2017 is a year for me to concentrate on my photography and a bit of kit here and there is reasonable I think. TheDelightful Mr F says that without trying things, how will I know if they work for me? I like his logic. He is a good egg, no doubt about it.

BathIt turns out that my credit card is really quite slippery as it slipped again and I also bought a stack of photography books and some Folio Society books too this month. The Folio ones were on sale, so they don’t count do they?

*What and unfortunate acronym

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Photography Sunday #7: Where I Walk 11 Miles

2017-02-17 London_102Last week I had to go to London for a spot of work. That completed I went for a wander around and about and took some shots on my Fuji X70, which is rapidly becoming a permanent fixture in my bag. I am not well versed in the geography of our great capital city, but decided I would just amble around the place and follow my nose if I found something interesting. It was a glorious spring day and I found myself meandering in the areas of St Paul’s, Holborn, Fleet Street as well as along the South Bank. It was all very pleasant indeed. I shot a lot of photographs and had to stop when both my batteries were depleted. I was a little shocked when on the train home to find that I had walked 11 miles!

I have realised that photography is becoming much like reading for me. I am starting to integrate it into my daily life and it broadens my view of the world, which is no bad thing. It also opens up conversations that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. At one point I was reading a sign outside a church I had found down a quiet side street. Seeing my camera, a chap stopped and told me that if I walked to the end of the street and turned right there was the most amazing view of the church with great shadows when the sun came out. Then he went on his way. No idea who he was, but it was a nice interaction. I like to think he was a spy with an eye for photographic composition on his way to a dead drop. More likely he was an accountant, but why spoil a good story eh?

Anyway, here are my favourite shots from the day. 2017-02-17 London_124

Photography Sunday #3: Where I Talk to a Cow and Nearly Fall in a Ditch

It was pretty chilly here at Fennell Towers this week, it has been as low as -6C, which for the South East is darn nippy. Despite the cold, it has been sunny, with beautiful blue skies, so with several layers on, plus some gloves and a bobble hat* I went for my daily walk in the woods. It. Was. Freezing.  I am nothing if not intrepid, and so I pressed on, camera in (cold, gloved) hand. 

There was a low hanging mist still and I got this nice general shot of the woods with the sun breaking through the trees. 

Foggy Woods//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

In the woods are a herd of highland cows which graze and keep everything under control. They were close by, so took a photo of this handsome chap. When I walk in the woods during the day, I don’t often see anyone else, and so tend to assume that I am on my own. Imagine dear reader, if you will, there I am, taking some photos of the cow. As a photographer you want to make your model feel relaxed and I was chatting to the cow, only to realise that six feet away was a couple, looking at me like I had gone mad. I brazened it out with a cheery “good morning!” and went on my way.

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Having got a good distance and some trees between me and the couple who now thought I was potty, I came across a ditch with some frozen water in it. The water had made some lovely patterns. I took this shot, balanced precariously on the side of the ditch, not entirely sure the ground was solid. Can you imagine what those people would have thought if they had rounded a corner and seen me sprawled in a ditch having been talking to the cow minutes earlier? I am sure they would have assumed I had been on the orange squash…

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After the ditch shot I decided to head home, as my fingers were turning blue. On my way I saw this toy rabbit tied to a lamppost. I have titled this shot “Lost Bunny”. I considered calling it “Lost Bunny Tied To Lamppost”, but decided that was too much, it is always better to give the viewer somewhere to go with their own interpretation, don’t you think. 😉

Lost Bunny

*A bobble hat is an essential piece of photography equipment

Photography Sunday #2: The Photography Course Commences!

We are off and running! The Hampshire School of Photography 1 year foundation course has officially started. On a chilly evening last week, I packed up my camera and pitched up at the local community centre to meet my new classmates. What a lovely bunch they are too. We range in photographic experience from a couple of decades to “just opened the box of my new camera at Christmas”.

Anstey's Cove, Devon Anstey’s Cove, Devon

The course has been developed and is lead by Kevin Ahronson, top professional photographer and all round good egg. After the obligatory course introductions* Kevin took us through the basics of operating a Digital SLR out of the Auto mode. Having done a bit of photography, none of this was new to me, but it is always good to hear the information again, as knowing the basics well is the key to everything else.

I always think that photography is a very odd blend of the ultra technical, with lenses, focal lengths and exposure times, with the purely artistic and creative. Which makes it very inclusive, you can take joy from photography in whatever way you like.

Now comes the slightly daunting part… the homework. We have a few weeks to go away and take some photographs to practise the skills Kevin taught us in this session. We get a personal 1:1 mentoring session with him and our shots will be critiqued. The critique part of this whole experience, is I think, going to help me the most, although I am hoping Kevin doesn’t turn into the photographic equivalent of Simon Cowell with a red buzzer. On Friday I morphed into Hermione Granger and planned my shots. Yesterday saw me hunched over my camera doing my homework in the hope of getting a gold star from Kevin. In fact I wasn’t very happy with the results for one shot, so took it again. I’m glad I took them yesterday, it’s raining cats and dogs here today, and the light it terrible. Listen to me, talking about the quality of the light and re-taking shots. I’m an artist Dahlings! I may start lounging about the place, and having an occasional rant like an 1930s artistic Christie character.

I am looking forward to seeing what my classmates photograph. I have a feeling we will all interpret the brief very differently.

Signing up for a course for a whole year is quite a big decision, but after the first session know I am going to have a fantastic time, and my photography should improve too.

* Whilst he asked us to introduce ourselves, thankfully we didn’t have to do any icebreaking exercises involving building the Great Pryramid of Giza out of paperclips and rubber bands. Why do courses make people do that? Those exercises just make me grumpy. 

Photography Sunday #1: The Patience of The Delightful Mr F

 

As you may recall from this post my obsession with photography as been reawakened and next Wednesday I am starting a year-long photography course with the very talented Kevin Ahronson from the Hampshire School of Photography. My excitement levels about this course have reached a level only previously attained by a trip to Mr B’s. Strong words indeed.

From Fuji UK - Fuji X70 From Fuji UK – Fuji X70

I have discovered that The Patience of the Delightful Mr F is pretty much limitless, as I have had my head in the manuals for my cameras and glossy photography books* for the last several weeks.   I have also taken to carrying my camera everywhere. I used to rely on my iPhone, but the purchase of a Fuji X70, has changed that, and now I can get high quality images with an easy to carry teeny-weeny camera.

The only real way to get better at photography is to do it.  I am hoping that over the next 12 months I can develop my technical skills as well as start to get to grips with my own personal photographic style**.  After 2016, which frankly was a bit of a slog on many fronts, I am finding photography rather invigorating.  So, for now (or until change my mind or get bored), Sunday is hereby declared as Photography Sunday on the blog. Like an annoying relative back from a mundane holiday,  I shall regale you with my photographs. You have been warned.  Lets start as I mean to go on with a few shots from Devon

2016-12-31 - Greenway Walk19-//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js2016-12-31 Torquay Street94-//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsPaignton//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

*They are so pretty aren’t they? They also have the added benefit of making me look like an artistic intellectual. Appearances are so deceptive.

** I am an engineer and therefore have no sartorial style to speak of.

The One About the Other Hobby…

You may remember this post, about my renewed love/obsession with photography. Well, I have been out and about taking some photos and thought I would share them here. I’ve been doing quite a lot of astrophotography of late, which means I get to stay up past my bedtime, sometimes on a school night!

First off we have the moon. Taken using The Delightful Mr F’s telescope and my XT1. For those of a technical nature, it’s ISO400, 1/60s, F2, 35mm Fuji X Mount lens.

Next up we have Cassiopeia, or rather a slightly cloudy Cassiopeia, but it was the best I could manage with the skies I had. Pretty nontheless. 

Finally we have Vega, the fifth brightest star in the sky. It’s a lovely blue white colour and was particularly twinkly that night. Twinkly is an expert astronomy term you may not have heard before.

I have some ideas about some astrophotography and other photography projects that I want to do over the winter, so hopefully they will come to fruition. It is all rather dependent on the British weather though, which is a worry. 

Standby, new obsession coming through…

To be fair, it’s an old obsession, newly awakened. You may remember that I posted about joining a local camera club. Well, it’s been a revelation and reignited my love of all things photography. Last year I did the 100 days project, which was a lot of fun, and it started that niggle to take my photography a little more seriously. The Delightful Mr F taught me to use a “proper” SLR camera when we first met and after my first payday post graduation, we toddled off to a camera shop in Guildford where I purchased a lovely Nikon FM2 camera. I was very happy taking photos and then the MonSter appeared in our lives and I was too tired to carry the kit around and it all fell by the wayside. 

Then the miracle that is digital photography arrived, and even better the wonder that is the mirrorless compact system camera. I am now the proud owner for a Fuji XT1, and my photography is back on track as the kit is light and portable.  

Armed with good kit and lots of enthusiasm I thought I would sign up for a photography course. This is not as easy as it might sound. If I want to do a degree (and remortgage Fennell Towers in the process), there are lots of options. If I was a complete beginner and just want to get out of auto, lots of options there too. Nothing in the “I like photography and know what I am doing for the most part but want to get a bit better at it” category.  Whilst I was musing this over, an advert popped up on my Facebook feed from one Mr Kevin Ahronson, local pro photographer,  patron of the aforementioned photography group with a studio about 10 minutes down the road from Fennell Towers. He and his wife Linda have started the Hampshire School of Photography and I have signed up for their new Foundation Year Photography course, with lectures, and one-to-one mentoring.  I shall blog my way through the course, starting in January, and this means of course, a good excuse to buy photography books, for research purposes you understand.