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I’ve just had an unusual weekend.  I live in Warwickshire and went to East London to do a bookbinding course on Saturday.  This was the last in the series of ‘Introduction to Bookbinding’ at London Centre of Book Arts – more of this another time.

Saturday was a long day, so obviously I should drive for 6 hours on Sunday!  I wanted some coast therapy and all UK coasts are a long way from home.  I looked at the weather forecast and chose North Norfolk.  Why not?!

Cley

I could spend many days on this coastline but only had a few hours of daylight to enjoy it.  Cley would offer a variety of opportunities with its windmill and beach.  I used my film cameras and phone to take shots of the windmill area – the film hasn’t been developed yet but hopefully I got something reasonable.

Cley windmill and reeds

You can see there wasn’t going to be much sunlight left.  I quickly grabbed a sandwich and made my way to the beach.  I hoped there was going to be a lovely sunset over the small cottage on Blakeney Point – with the sun shimmering in the water around the reeds.  Best laid plans!

The waves were making an amazing noise crashing onto the shingle and the sun was setting over the land.  Which way should I look?  Priorities were sorted because the sun was about to disappear and the waves would still be there after sunset.

Cley at dusk over the reed beds

The sun was still catching the reed beds and creating a hazy orange glow over the land.  I’m glad I took some shots then as the sun disappeared very quickly and wasn’t going to give me my hoped for sunset.

Explosive waves crashing

I turned my attention to the sea.  It was hard to ignore!  My ‘zoomiest’ lens is my Fujinon 60mm macro but it is far more than a macro.  It was also the only lens I had the filter adapter ring for because the other was sitting at home in my coat pocket, which I found out later.  I set my camera up on my tripod because I was going to try some long exposures.  Before I started that I took some non-handheld shots of the waves, I certainly can’t take 1/8 second shots handheld.  In burst mode I captured this one which shows how manic the sea was.

I am fairly inexperienced at long exposures but I thought I’d give it a go.  After a few non-starters I settled on Lee’s Big Stopper for 8 minutes.  I have no idea how the decreasing light levels effect the timings at all so it was very much ‘have a go!’  I quite like the effect I got and the wind turbines can be seen too.

Long exposure at dusk at Cley

The longer exposure time with both Big and Little Stoppers failed miserably and I was getting cold.  I know for next time to put more layers on and have a torch.  I may not have got the sunset image I wanted but I got 3 totally different images in a short distance of space and time.

 

When you are taking a short break up to Scotland you can’t let the weather get the better of you!  It seems like the theme of this short break was definitely water in its many geographical features. As it doesn’t say in the song – I’ll start at the end!

Grey Mare’s Tail and Loch Skeen

I’ve always liked waterfalls and found that I was staying very close to Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall near Moffat.  So I had to visit. As it was raining and the tops of the hills were in clouds, I wasn’t sure how far I’d wanted to go on my own.  I chose my Fuji XT1 with 18-55mm lens for its flexibility and packed it into a small Lowepro bag. (I seem to have a lot of different size bags depending on the number of cameras I take out and the lenses I want to use.)  This day simplicity was key.

Grey Mare

I first went to the viewing place, then thought I’d just go up the hill to get a better view.  On the way up the slope I met a man on his way down.  He asked if I was going all the way to the loch at the top, I replied I wasn’t sure because of the time and weather!  He told me that it would only be a couple of hours there and back and that it was definitely worth the walk.  I wasn’t going to get much wetter due to the rain and I had enough layers on, I thought what the heck let’s go and see the loch.  Cheerily said bye and headed off.

After him I met only 2 other people on the way up, strangely enough they were coming down.  The views down the valley came and went with the clouds, but the heather and water were spectacular.  By the time I got to the top I was glad of all my layers, hat and buff.  My walking shoes may be waterproof but not if the water runs in from the outside of my trousers.  Gaiters maybe a good idea or waterproof trousers but I hate wearing a ‘bin bag’ coat let alone ‘bin bag’ trousers.  I knew I would dry off later and I have a hot bath!!

Turning round the corner at the top took my breath away!

Cloud over Loch Skeen

Loch Skeen was stunning, not as in the pictures on the information board but beautiful in its own way.  I couldn’t see the hills surrounding it due to the clouds but that gave it the atmosphere.  I stayed there a while getting blown and wetter, it didn’t matter, it was a brilliant place just to be.  Reluctantly I knew I was going to have to go back down, but I hope to go back another time and enjoy that place again.  Next time I’ll stay up there longer or perhaps go further up White Coomb and get to experience the promised breathtaking views.

On reaching the car park I saw there were a few people enjoying the view of the waterfall from the bottom.  I was so glad I was convinced by the other walker to brave the weather and go to the top.

Loch Skeen in wet weather

It seems that my choice of bag I take out each day is dependant on which camera I’m taking out not what I’m wearing!
Waddesdon frontToday I set off to Bucks Open Studios to see a group of artists and their wares.  As I was walking out of the door I thought I’ll put my Fuji X100T camera in my bag just in case I went somewhere else or spotted a poppy field.  After seeing the beautiful craft and artwork and parted with some money I realised how close I was to Waddesdon Manor.  A place I’ve visit throughout the year and knew it would be relaxing there for the hour I had.

Waddesdon Manor

What I forgot that there was an event on tomorrow.  They were setting up for it on the front lawn, so the best shot I could get of the front of the house was the one above.  I hadn’t brought the convertor lenses out with me so I was using the fixed 23mm lens today and working within its limits.  It’s always good to get different angles of a familiar building and gardens, the building shots here are the jpegs straight out of the camera.  I liked the different gothic effect the black and white setting on the X100 gave to the honey coloured bath stone of the chateau.

I am finding that this camera is coming out with me more than any other.  My phone-camera is staying in my pocket and the pleasure of using the X100 is brilliant, a very usable camera.

camera X100T

 

thinking time

I woke up on the Saturday of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and thought what should I do today!  I had no children to think about, the sun was out and I had nothing planned.  Of course it would involve a camera but where?  National Trust properties on a Bank Holiday weekend aren’t the best places, parking at the coast after 2 hours driving might try my patience and the nearby Warwickshire towns of Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick didn’t appeal, so how about where I could get to by train – and were the trains running?  Yes they were, so a choice, Birmingham or London?  What the hell!  Let’s go to London for the day!

My most recent camera acquisition, a Fujifilm X100T, was my choice for the day, along with the conversion lenses.  So my favourite bag, a Billingham Hadley Pro, was packed with camera, spare sd card and batteries, and other essentials for the day out – water, headphones and chargers!

My challenge was to try some street photography, before now when I have done it I’ve been very cautious and tried not to be noticed at all and subsequently I got distant shots if they came out at all.  But priorities first, to put me in a good mood, I needed  to get a decent cup of coffee as soon as getting there! So I went directly to a good coffee shop off Carnaby Street.  After chatting with another customer, a brightly dressed, very friendly lady, I asked if I could take her photo – she was quite happy to oblige, and so began the day.

The underground gave me the ideal opportunity to take photos, as the rule seems to be that we shouldn’t look at anyone, let alone make eye contact, so I took photos and it didn’t matter if they were bigger than me!  I have found out there are things I’ve got to watch out for, mainly ISO and shutter speed, it’s amazing how much you shake on a tube.  I had a good day with my camera and did go back into my comfort zone of buildings and landscapes.

Having my own camera is very liberating.  I could choose a camera that just needed to meet my requirements so no compromises, and make decisions that would just affect me.  So I chose my Fujifilm camera, X-T1, the lenses and accessories for me.  The bag I chose to keep my kit in is a Billingham Hadley Pro, it’s the right size for me and the handle on the top was essential! It is big enough to contain enough stuff and I can still carry it, no point in having a huge bag and not be able to use it just because it can fit the kitchen sink in it!  I have a macro lens because that is what I like doing, not only great for the macro work but challenging myself to just go out with one lens sometimes and work within those parameters that lens offers.  Maybe at some stage I’ll get some more prime lenses but at the moment I’m using the 18-55 lens for all sorts of things and seeing what prime, if any I would use.

My next purchase will be a tripod, again one that will suit me.  I’ve used a few tripods and I think I’ve got a list in my head as to what I want. So many things to consider – weight, folded size, max height (I’m only 5ft4 so I still need to be able to see the camera controls!), min height and type of clips.  I’ve found that I struggle with the screw lock ones so will deal with the inconvenience of the bulkiness of the flip clips so I can use it.  So with all these things in mind I’ll be off to the The Photography Show in Birmingham to see what I can find!! Let’s see what I come back with.

Also at The Photography Show is The People’s Gallery organised by Loxley Colour.  I took a bold step and decided I’d put an image through to it.  This is a new world to me, up to now I’ve have only kept my photography online and now showing other people is a big hurdle I’ve decided to overcome.  So far it’s only been a local photography competition in my childhood home town in Cheshire and this at The Photography Show but it’s a start.  The images in this post are from the photography competition, the Silver Birches came first in the landscape category!

As I said at the start, I’m finding having my own camera liberating.