Spitfire at Duxford

Today, The Delightful Mr F had a flight in a Tiger Moth as a birthday treat. He flew from Duxford in the UK and while he was airborne, I took this shot of a Spitfire on my Fuji X100F. I had decided to shoot in jpeg only mode for today, and all I did was set up a custom black and white pre-set in the camera.  The weather was changing rapidly and when there was this break in the clouds I had to grab the shot. I love the fact that I can set up the camera to give the look I want and trust it to capture the shot when I only have seconds to compose and press the shutter. 

What are your photographic plans for this weekend?

2017-10-13 Duxford821.jpg

Where I Give A Photography Lesson

A couple of weeks ago, I had a lovely day out at RHS Wisley with a couple of chums who wanted to brush up on their photography skills. Caroline wanted to learn how to take better photographs of her gorgeous family, and having only used a point and shoot was starting pretty much from scratch. Kate had been using a DSLR for a while, and attended an introductory course a little while ago and felt she needed a few more pointers to get her into the photographic groove. 

I am not one to turn down a day's photography with some pals, so I happily agreed to go out with them and explain the basics. I made a little plan, and knowing Wisley well, I took them to specific places in the gardens where I knew they could practise shooting and get to grips with aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  

Being all round clever bunnies, they picked it all up very quickly. Caroline shot on my Fuji X70 as that gave her the manual control she needed, which her current point and shoot couldn't provide. Having understood the technicalities of depth of field we set off towards the herbaceous borders to see if we could spot anything worth shooting. Caroline took the lovely shot below whilst practising shooting at small and wider apertures. The colours are lovely in this. 

Flowers by Caroline Smither

Flowers by Caroline Smither

We also talked about composition and how that can be impacted by the aperture and shutter speed selected. The lovely black and white image below is another of Caroline's. 

Flowers by Caroline Smither

Flowers by Caroline Smither

We were lacking a model for portrait practise, trust me when I say it is better that I stay behind the camera, but Kate found some suitably shaped topiary!

Topiary by Kate Price

Topiary by Kate Price

Photography, is nothing, if it isn't about the control of light, and Kate took this wonderful shot of a sculpture of a dandelion clock. With the sun in just the right place it creates this gorgeous silhouette.

Dandilion Clock by Kate Price

Dandilion Clock by Kate Price

I teach and coach engineering principles and techniques on a fairly regular basis, and always enjoy passing on knowledge and experience, but this was fantastic. Photography is such a joyful, creative pursuit that teaching others how they can make the most of the kit they have and really develop up that learning curve was such a wonderful experience for me. Both Caroline and Kate have a great eye, and I fear that they may have caught the bug... Caroline was in the local camera shop the following Tuesday buying  a Lumix camera so she could have full manual control. I can only apologise to her family who will now be forever running away from a camera lens. 

Where I Have A Photography Day Out With A Chum

Last week, I had a lovely photography day out with my chum, Kate Vaisey. I met Kate on a photography course, and as it turns out, she lives but a mere stones throw from Fennell Towers. Kate has a great photographic eye, as well as being an all round good egg, so I knew it would be a good day. We decided that we would head off to RHS Wisley, armed with our cameras, spare batteries and memory cards*. I had my Fuji XT-1 with the 35mm f2 lens, my favourite combination, whilst Kate was shooting on her Canon 650D. 

Wisley is a wonderful place to take photographs, well, if you like flowers and trees that is. If you like to shoot rock bands you are likely to be disappointed. We didn't have a plan, we just wandered around and shot what took our fancy. Given how hot it was, we headed for shaded areas and practised controlling the light to get different effects. The light was very harsh, and so contrast was the order of the day.  I would like to be able to tell you definitvely what this plant is,  it is possibly a lily, not sure, but I do like how sculptural it looks with the very harsh highlights and very low shadow. 

Lily bud, Fuji XT-1, 35mm f4, 1/280s

Lily bud, Fuji XT-1, 35mm f4, 1/280s

Having spent a good half an hour shooting the shrubbery we braved the heat and headed out towards the grassy meadow areas. It. Was. Roasting. But what sort of photographers would  we be if we didn't suffer for our art? Risking severe sunburn, we practised long exposures on Kate's camera and yet more light control. 

Grasses, Fuji XT-1, 35mm f2.2, 1/4000s

Grasses, Fuji XT-1, 35mm f2.2, 1/4000s

Poppy, Fuji XT-1, 35mm, f2, 1/4000s

Poppy, Fuji XT-1, 35mm, f2, 1/4000s

I'm pleased with the shots I got, particularly the lily bud, and Kate got some stunners, particularly this one, using my 10 stop ND filter. It was also nice to have another photographer to work with and to bounce ideas off. It helps when there are two of you, as you feel less of an idiot as you contort yourself into an odd position on the ground in order to try and get a winning shot of a rhododendron.  

Has anyone else been out to Wisley to photograph the plants there?

 

*We managed to choose one of the hottest days of the year, so fortunately, K was also armed with sunblock.

Where I Walk 11 Miles

First published on Fennell Books on 19th February, 2017

Accountant or Spy?

Accountant or Spy?

Last 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?

Where I Talk to a Cow and Nearly Fall in a Ditch

First published on Fennell Books on 22nd January, 2017.

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. 

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.

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…

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? :) 

*A bobble hat is an essential piece of photography equipment

The Patience of The Delightful Mr F

Originally published on Fennell Books on 8th  January, 2017

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.

Fuji X70, from the Fuji website

Fuji X70, from the Fuji website

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.

 

*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.