Getting myself in gear – and out of gear


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i really must try harder to do this blog! What to talk about? Travelling light I think. If you look back at previous posts you will see that I have moved to prime lens with a 12mm Lumix and 3 Sigma lens 19mm 30mm and 60mm. I really enjoy using the primes. It makes me think so much more about composition rather than just zooming in or out a bit. I’ll look at different angles and use my feet to get closer of further away. This got me thinking about how far I could reduce the gear I carry around. I’m using MFT so have already saved a great deal of weight but with the three lens and bits and pieces including a travel tripod I was still loading myself up quite a bit and as I usually have out 2 border terriers with me when I wander around I wanted to try minimal kit.

The obvious thing was to go with a wide angle so I could be sure of capturing everything I wanted but if I wanted to get close the perspective could be odd. great sometimes for something different but not what I always want. The problem then became that if I went for something longer, say my 30mm, what was I to do about wide angle? The answer was obviously to try stitching a panorama and this is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months and have really enjoyed creating the image that way. It also obviously gives me a much larger file size for any given scene.

Here’s a couple from the Peak district, the second one is stitched both ways vertical and horizontal;

Peak District

6 images stitched

(I’m using new software new too. I’ve given up Adobe Photoshop and moved to Affinity and I’ll post about that soon)

We had a month in the Peak District in our caravan and although I took all my bits and pieces with me I disciplined myself to only use the one lens and really it was not a problem and has given me enormous file sizes for the wide angle views should I wish to do any really large prints.

More details to follow


A tip from the field

Well a tip from the canal actually.

I was trying to get a photo of these flowers (whatever they are) with the bridge in the background. The problem was I had to lean out over the canal and shoot blind. I got the framing OK but missed the focus on the small flowers. The answer was to switch to manual focus, focus on the plants from where I could check they were in focus and then swing the camera out over the canal keeping the distance from the flowers approximately the same. By using a small aperture any variation was taken up by the latitude I had on the depth of field.


Copying others


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Over the last few days I’ve seen a couple of photographs that caught my attention and I decided to give it a try to replicate them.

The first was of this knife and fork. I saw the original image on the web and at first sight thought that it would be quite easy to copy but that proved so so wrong. In trying to get the same directional lighting and shadows as on the original I shot and tried countless set ups and began to wonder if in fact there was a lot of photoshop work that had gone into it to get the final result.

Here’s the photo I was trying to copy:


Note where the shadow side of the fork is. This would seem to indicate that the light was low to camera left but there is no shadow from the knife on the far side so it couldn’t be that low.

Here’s my best attempt:

Not nearly the same differentiation on the fork prongs between the shadow and hightlights. I’ll perhaps give it another go when I’ve given it some more thought. Any ideas welcome!



The other shot I saw was in a restaurant yesterday just of a pair of scissors. Very simple shot. Here’s mine. Does it work? Could it go on a wall? The scissors were not perhaps the best to use. The print I saw yesterday used a vintage pair but this was all I could find.

OLYMPUS OM-d EM5 30mm Sigma Art lens

A trio of brilliant lenses


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So on to my other purchases, the trio of Sigma lens for my Olympus OMD-EM5.

I bought two of them through Ebay; the 19mm and the 60mm. I think its probably a testament to how good these lenses are and what value for money that there are very few of them on the second hand market.

The 19mm is the old design with a lens barrel that has a ribbed effect for grip. The later ones are very smooth and I really dont like the look as much although in operation they are Ok to use.

All three are incredibly sharp and, at least compared to the zoom kit lens I had been using, very quick to focus.

I should perhaps add a note as to why I chose 3 prime lens when I could have purchased another zoom lens covering the same range. Olympus do a “pro” zoom lens covering 12mm – 40mm so wider than I can now do but shorter at the telephoto end. I do not shoot very wide angle much so the 12mm did not really interest me and I wanted a rather longer range at the top end than the 40mm. Another option would have been the 12 – 100 but that only has a maximum aperture of f4 and I really wanted something larger for lower light and also to minimise depth of field which with micro four thirds is not great anyway. Also the 3 prime lens set me back less than £300 in total whereas even secondhand I would have been paying out at least another £200 for the telephoto.

The only downside is that I end up changing lens a lot more but thats something I’m happy to do, its another reason to stop and think about the framing before pressing the shutter.

Here’s just a quick couple of images. Just the 19mm and 30mm at the moment. I’ve not really shot anything with the 60mm worthy of reproducing!

If you have any comments or queries please do leave me a comment below.


Teazle, the border terrier I shot with the 30mm just quickly as I was playing around with the camera. I popped a flashgun on and bounced it off the cupboard door next to her.


Sunday morning walk in Norfolk 19mm


As above


A walk over Bungay marshes on a frosty morning. Shot on the 19mm

I lied


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A couple of posts ago I made a stand against GAS – gear acquisition syndrome – saying that really I didn’t need any new equipment to enjoy my photography. Well, that was true but I just couldn’t resist giving myself a push to start shooting more by buying some new lenses and a new tripod. Indeed everything I said I didn’t need! So I’ve bought a super Olympus telephoto 75mm – 300mm (150 -600mm equivalent) and the trio of Sigma lens 19mm, 30mm and 60mm (38,60,120 equivalent)

On top of that a new travel tripod too.

So a great excuse to get out and try the new gear. First up is the Olympus 75-300 telephoto. We are not too far from Oulton Broad and the park area next to it is teeming (literally, hundreds of the b*****s) with grey squirrels so a great place to try out the lens. Generally I’m very happy with it. Sharp enough through most of the range although some of the images at full stretch look a little soft. I used it on the new tripod which I used as a monopod for some of the shots to have a little more flexibility in movement.

Here’s a couple of the images:









Why arn’t my photos selling for $602,500?


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I see reported that one of Diane Arbus’s photographs of twins – – has just sold for $602,500.


Can anyone explain to me what makes that photograph worth that sort of money? If I had produced that as a portrait of children of one of my Clients I would have been ashamed to show it to them. I was looking at the picture on my PC when my wife walked by and asked if I had been asked to critique some beginners photos as it looked so ameraturish.

I know this photograph forms part of a series she did of “freaks” and perhaps as a record of social history they have some merit but where is the merit from a photographic point of view? My holiday snapshots from the 1960’s probably have some social history value too but am I likely to get over half a million dollars for one? I think not.


Struggling to avoid a severe attack of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)


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For one reason and another my photography seemed to lapse over the summer and I did very little. I’ve sold all my film gear having decided that I would struggle to deal with the processing side if, as we plan, we go to live on our narrowboat for a few years and I just couldn’t seem to find the enthusiasm for taking photos. However this year saw us stranded at home for various reasons and to fill the hours I joined a local camera group. Not really a camera club but just a collection of peope who want to improve their photography and this rather retriggered my interest in taking pictures again. But of course with that came the desire to buy new equipment. But what? What did I need? Really nothing. What did I want? Loads!

I started off my new found enthusiasm by taking some macro shots with my micro 4/3 camera and a set of extension tubes but very quickly decided I needed (no wanted!) a dedicated macro lens. Which one? Extensive searching and I decided on the Olympus 60mm f2.8 But before committing myself I came to the conclusion that really I needed a better tripod to enable me to get lower and into different angles. So back to the research and I decided the one for me was a Benro Goplus Travel but then I thought, hang on, I’ve already got 2 tripods, one of which is a light weight travel tripod where I can attach the camera to the bottom of the centre column to get closer to the ground so do I really need a new one? No, not really; so, shelve that idea. Ok so got to buy something! How about a focusing rail? Make it so much easier for my macro shots. But hey, hang on. I’ve managed quite well without one so why bother?

OK, so how about another lens? Yes definitely need one. The only one I have for the M4/3 is the 14-42mm kit lens so whats available? Well there was the 60mm Macro lens I was keen on before my thoughts on other acquisitions. But no, no point, I’m coping perfectly well with the extension tubes. Ok. So a telephoto lens then? Yes, I could then do super wildlife photographs and win Wildlife Photographer of the year! So what length telephoto lens? 45 -150 to extend the range of my existing lens or 150-300 to really get up close? They have the equivilent range of 90-300 and 300-600 on full frame so at the long end would need a tripod. So am I going to be willing to tote my bag and tripod whenever I go for a walk or do I need to keep things simple?

It was at this point that I thought I ought to go back to using my iphone and see what results I could get from that so I splashed out a couple of quid on a new app -“Pureshot” – which gave me as much manual control, as the phone could offer with a very simple interface and off I went trying it out. I posted a few examples on an earlier blog and was fast becoming addicted to using it instead of my camera. Ah, so I can still spend money, I can buy additional lens, wide angle, fisheye and macro to fit on the front. But hey hang on. The lens on the iphone is pretty wide angle anyway (something like a 32mm equivilent I believe), I’ve never particularly liked fisheye photographs and I have a panarama facility on the camera/ software anyway for really wide angle and I have the extension tubes on my camera for macro, so no dont need those.

So here I am still desperate to buy something but unable to really justify anything. I know a prime lens of some description would give me better image quality than my kit lens but who would notice it except for me? I know a telephoto lens would enable me to take more scenes but do I want to carry all the gear? I know a new tripod would be more convenient but what do I do with the other two? etc etc

So, I think I’ve talked myslef out of my GAS. Until I next start to surf the net and find someone talking about a must have piece of kit.

How have you all dealt with this obsession?

Using my new mini studio


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Getting ready to start my floating studio on our narrowboat I wanted some trials to make sure that I could produce some great work in confined spaces and Fiona, an old friend of ours bravely volunteered to sit for me.

I went to her flat today and set up in her living room working round the dining room table and other furniture and her lovely dog who showed little enthusiasm for being photographed or moved from his (obviously) favourite spot in front of the fire.

I only used a black backdrop but managed to use two off camera flashes with a large soft box style diffuser, a silver reflective umbrella, and two snoots at different times.

The softbox style diffuser was the shoot through panel from a 5 in 1 reflector bought off e-bay, and the snoots were home made, one from a rolled up piece of cardboard and the other from a Homepride flour packet. A bit Heath Robinson but they did the job and I can now think about refining them a bit to try and make them look slightly more professional.

Here’s a couple of quick edits from the shoot

From the archives


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I thought I would post the occasional photo from my archives as I sort through and clear some disk space.

Here’s one from an engagement shoot from a few years ago.


Engagement shoots are always great fun although its sometimes difficult to get the fella relaxed in front of the camera (not in this case mind you!) It’s usually the bride to be that really wants the photos but I like to think that by the end of the session both were enjoying themselves and the great advantage was that they knew me better and would therefore be more relaxed with me around on the wedding day.

(If any one who’s photos I’m posting is not keen on them appearing let me know and I’ll remove them)