Monday, 18 February 2013

Losing weight with the Olympus OMD EM5

A few weeks ago I made the decision not to invest in a full frame DSLR and associated lenses and to stick with my Olympus OMD (which I love) and various Olympus prime lenses or fast Panasonic zoom lenses.

I don't need to justify my decision but for a bit of fun I thought I would make one comparison  between the two systems - and that's one of weight. Many will argue that I am comparing apples with pears and I will be the first to agree that both sets of camera gear have their pros and cons. However the weight of any set up has to be taken into consideration if you intend carrying your equipment any distance or for long periods of time.

It's not very often that I need to use the kitchen scales(!) but out they came.... and now for the results -

Losing weight with the Olympus OMD EM5

The Olympus OMD EM5 with two part battery grip plus Panasonic 12 - 35 and 35 - 100 lenses with constant f2.8 aperture = 1,440g

....and for the full frame equivalent.

Canon 5D MKIII, with battery grip and 24 - 70 and 70 - 200 f2.8 L lenses = 3,555g

So the Canon system is very nearly 2.5x heavier, not to mention bulkier, and far more expensive.

Both sets of lenses cover the same focal length and  are weather sealed. Yes, I know the Canon set up will produce bigger files and therefore give better results, but for my needs and in real world use I'll save my back and my bank balance thank you! :o)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Something completely different

My approach to land and seascapes is I think a fairly traditional one and it's an approach that works for me. However I do see lots of black and white images using slow shutter speeds and taking a more minimalist view of the landscape. Concentrating on a small area can often result in something which has an abstract 'feel' to the image. Accordingly there are few if any reference points and little or no sense of scale. I guess this results in the viewer trying to discern what they might be looking at, a sense of mystery perhaps, which in turn begs the question - 'what was the photographer trying to say?' when he or she took the shot.

So I thought I would have a go a this approach myself. Its good to experiment, your eyes start to see things differently. Consequently I returned to a particular location as I could pre-visualise a subject matter which might work for this 'new' approach. I also adopted a different technique using a 10 stop ND filter to slow the shutter speed right down. This of course required me to use a tripod which also slows down the photographer. No bad thing in itself as you spend more time composing the shot and getting the right camera settings. The latter was more challenging than the former, as I had never used a 10 stop ND filter before. The Hi Tec filter I was using left a horrible colour cast but this didn't matter quite so much as I knew I would be converting the image to black and white.

Shown below is the result of me trying to do something completely different. A 30 second exposure and I used Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro2 for post processing.


For my first attempt at this style of photography I am quite pleased with the end result. Is it something I would like to do more of?.......I'm not sure but I enjoyed doing something just a little bit different, well for me anyway.

Oh and if you are wondering, the photograph is the remains of a jetty in Langstone Harbour in Hampshire.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Landscape photography course with Paul Gallagher

Later this month I am hoping to go to The Lake District for a short course in black and white landscape photography with Paul Gallagher. The plan is to spend a couple of days in the field taking images and then have a further day back at Paul's studio post processing and printing some of the shots taken. Although Paul is principally a 5x4 large format photographer he also has intimate knowledge of digital photography and runs courses for the Epson Print Academy. Details of all his workshops are available through Aspect2i, a company he co-founded.

I have already spoken to Paul on the telephone a couple of times and his enthusiasm for his subject is very evident. I am looking forward to meeting him and I am sure I will learn a huge amount both with the camera but also in front of a computer.

Its impossible to say what the weather will be doing but I can at least confidently predict where and when the sun will rise and set on any given day. There are many 'apps' which provide this information but the most comprehensive is The Photographers Ephemeris which can be downloaded for use on a Mac or PC, iPad, iPhone or Android device. I am the first to admit that I have not mastered everything it can do, but very simply you can search for any location throughout the world, then drop a pin on the desired position using a variety of map styles. You then select a date and it will give you sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset times as well as their position in the sky at these times. This is all too important and critical information for any land, sea or cityscape photographer. It's a great way to plan ahead to make sure the light is going to be in the right place at the right time. It doesn't guarantee a successful image but at least it improves your chances. There are some excellent tutorials on the TPE website which I must spend some time looking at, so that I can make the best use of this invaluable application.

Wast Water in The Lake District courtesy of The Photographers Ephemeris

I shall report back on the course at some time in the future and it goes without saying that I shall look forward to posting some of my images taken in The Lake District. Hopefully I will get to Wast Water and Wasdale Head, one of my favourite places in this beautiful and at times dramatic part of the world. I can't wait!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Lone sheep in Dorset

It has been so wet in the past few months with very little sunshine, so it was a real treat to be in Dorset a few days ago to experience a lovely winter's day when the sun shone and it cast it's little bit of magic on the rolling hills of this part of the West Country.

As we drove around the Piddle Valley (great name this!), which lies to the north of the County Town of Dorchester, we came across the view below. Bathed in late afternoon sun, long shadows fell across the ground and the backlit sheep added life and foreground interest to this rather archetypal English landscape.

Nothing more to add, just enjoy the view - I know I did.

Lone sheep
Lone sheep

Friday, 1 February 2013

Churches in the landscape - South Stoke

In my last post (Idsworth Church) I touched on the topic of choosing a suitable subject which would inspire me for my panel of images for the 'ARPS Distinction with the Royal Photographic Society. The choice is proving to be quite a challenge in its own right and this is before I start taking any photographs worthy of a submission. Fortunately I am not up against the clock and I will take my time. It's a bit like a driving test and I would like to pass first time, so it will pay me to prepare properly and take as much time as I need before I apply for an assessment date. Between now and then there is likely to be long gap. The selection of a subject or theme is only the starting point. I will need to undertake a lot of research into my chosen topic, particularly if this involves travelling from one location to another, either at home or abroad. I am sure it will involve being outdoors and therefore I am also in the hands of weather and the changing seasons, which could very well determine the success or otherwise of each photographic session. In total the panel is made up of 15 images, which is quite a number when you consider they all need to be of the same high standard; work as a cohesive panel and all conform to the original brief. I will also seek the guidance and critical encouragement (hopefully!) from a suitable mentor or mentors.

Given that I have not yet jumped the first hurdle (the one called subject matter) for the moment its a question of exploring different ideas and seeing what may or may not work. I think I will know when I find a theme which inspires me; for without the passion and enthusiasm for the subject, how can I expect to produce a strong set images? In truth I can't, so until that day comes the thinking and the search goes on.

One possibility is 'churches in the landscape' and with this in mind I thought I would head off for a tiny hamlet called South Stoke, which is to the north of Arundel in West Sussex and sits alongside the River Arun. I had never been to South Stoke before, although it is clearly visible from the train between London Victoria from the South Coast.

It was a typical winter's day, the recent snow having been replaced by milder, grey and wet conditions. The church is very pretty but the image I had in mind when I studied the map, was of a church alongside the river, did not materialise. The church steeple was visible from the other side of the river bank, but other buildings and trees prevented a clear view of the church itself. However I was not going to leave the location without any images so here are a selection depicting the church and its immediate surroundings.

Winter light on the Arun
Winter light on the Arun

South Stoke Church
South Stoke Church

Trees by the River Arun
Trees by the Arun

Candelabra in South Stoke Church
Candelabra inside the Church

There was one bonus while I was there - a barn owl. I switched lenses and on its maximum focal length I took a shot. Frankly it was awful and not even worthy of an appearance on this blog. It did make me think how skilled and patient nature photographers have to be, to capture these beautiful birds in flight.