STILL LIFE 188 – MEGALITH 4 (MONO)

 

 


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Amongst the prehistoric ritual stones at Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol.

Other images of these ritual stones are here: 1  2  3 .

More info about this prehistoric site is here .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and adding a light coffee tone; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley; 6 Nov 2017.
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PEOPLE 310 – GOING TO WORK 44

 

 


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Walking to work on pavements strewn with inspection covers, shadows and fallen autumn leaves.

Veering over a little towards the surreal perhaps, am I?  Starting to look a little bit alien or otherworldly?  Two thoughts come to mind.

First, that following advice I read long ago and have never forgotten, I believe in letting my (now mainly non-existent!) hair down with black and white: black and white is already one step removed from reality, and I like seeing it become even more unreal.  I’m not really into straight black and white representations of colour scenes, such as might be obtained for example simply by desaturating a colour image.  Silver Efex Pro 2 is a very welcome companion on these sometimes delirious flights of fancy.

Then second, with this Going To Work series, I’m trying to look at various approaches and techniques, with a completely open mind, ruling nothing out.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset and adding a strong cyanotype tone; Broad Quay, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.

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TALKING IMAGES 35 – THE FUJIFILM X-T2: FINAL THOUGHTS

 

 


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HISTORY

I started using digital cameras in 2009, with the full frame Nikon D700 which, it seemed to me (and I was to be proved right), would deliver similar image quality to my Nikon F6 film camera.  Since then, most of my photography has been with full frame Nikons (I added a D800 later), and they have been – and they continue to be – simply excellent cameras.  And the incredible creative potential of digital photography hit me just as I was looking for increased photographic creativity, and I have never looked back.  I know that film photography still has many adherents and that it may even be becoming fashionable in some quarters, but the simple fact is that, for me, reverting to film is unthinkable.  I shot film for around 50 years, and used wet darkrooms too on occasion, but that was in the past.  For me all of that is over now.
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In 2016, having read good reviews in Amateur Photographer, magazine (which, as always, I warmly recommend to you), I started using a Compact System Camera (CSC), the mirrorless Fujifilm X-T1, which was certainly not up to the standards of the Nikons, but which was distinctly smaller, and very capable and handy.  I’m currently posting a series of images called Going To Work, which pictures people and scenes during Bristol’s morning rush hour.  This series is a direct result on the X-T1’s small size, portability and capabilities – walking around the city for hours on end would be rather arduous with the far bulkier Nikons, and increasingly so for someone of my advancing years, but the X-T1 and one or two lenses are relatively compact and very portable indeed – in the way that my Olympus OM-1 and OM-2 film cameras and Zuiko lenses were all those decades ago.
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And so to the X-T1’s successor, the X-T2.  It arrived to rave reviews, and I splashed out one about a year ago.  As digital cameras go these days, its already ageing a bit, and for all I know an X-T3 is already on the launch pad.  And so, after a year’s use alongside the Nikons, a few last, overall thoughts on the X-T2.  All of the images here have been taken with this camera, and most (if not all) of them with the excellent Fujinon 55-200 zoom lens: as usual click onto them to enlarge them in separate windows – clicking onto the enlarged images may enlarge them yet again.
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THE X-T2: THE POSITIVES

OK, well, let’s just take 10 things I really like about this camera.  I’m not covering all aspects of the camera here, just things that are important to me:

  1. Small size and easy portability; excellent build quality

  2. Simply gorgeous images with vibrant colour rendition, and with eminently useful Film Simulations both in-camera and in Lightroom; I always shoot Raw

  3. The camera body is covered in dials and buttons that remove most of the need for delving into the menus; there are numerous customisation options, and favourite items can be grouped under a My Menu setting

  4. A very handy 24MP APS-C sensor – enough to give plenty of detail and scope for cropping; but not sufficient MP to cause handling problems or to clog up hard drives

  5. An extremely useful Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), packed with information, that in all but a few scenarios leaves the Nikons’ optical viewfinders standing

  6. Accurate light metering: 4 modes

  7. Good high ISO performance, which partners well with effective lens-based image stabilisation – I never worry about low light photography, and never carry a tripod

  8. Good autofocus performance that covers most situations

  9. Dual memory card slots: there’s no worry about available space

  10. An ingenious tilting screen – which I have to admit to not using much.

So, do I have any regrets about the buying the camera?  None at all.
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THE X-T2: THE NEGATIVES

  1. The X-T2 can eat batteries, especially when in its Boost (= high performance) mode.  I gather that this is currently an issue with mirrorless cameras.  So I always carry one or two spare batteries with me – no problem. I have started always using the X-T2 in Boost mode

  2. The autofocus is good, but in extreme situations – poor light; frenetic movement – its not quite up with the Nikons, and I suppose that I didn’t really expect it to be

  3. The positioning of AE-L and AF-L buttons is certainly not as good as the truly superb positioning of the  AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON buttons on the D700 and D800, where these two buttons fall so very readily beneath my right thumb when my forefinger is in the shutter release

  4. As with the autofocus, the Electronic Viewfinder is not as good as the Nikons’ optical viewfinders in situations with frenetic movement eg birds taking flight and in flight.

But, once again, do I have any regrets about buying the X-T2?  None whatsoever.  It is a wonderful, high quality and very portable camera that can be put to many, many uses, and which will have a go at tackling any sort of photographic scenario.  It is my current go-to camera, my current camera of choice.  But if I know in advance that conditions are going to be particularly demanding, then I’ll use one of the Nikons instead: this does not occur very frequently.
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WAYS OF WORKING

The X-T2 is my go-to camera and, on many occasions – and especially if long walks around Bristol are likely – I’ll just carry it with the excellent 55-200 Fujinon lens, which equates to around 84mm-305mm in full-frame (ie 35mm) terms.  I found that my photography received a boost when I first used Nikon’s 70-300 lens and it became apparent that, photographically, I “see” at 300mm, ie at x6 magnification – and this image stabilised, APS-C Fujinon lens mirrors the Nikon’s focal lengths almost exactly.  I could of course take additional lenses to cover more photographic scenarios, but I adopt a philosophical approach – if I miss shots by not having the required lenses with me, well that’s Life, that’s how it is – and there will always be other photographic opportunities around later on.  Having one lens also means carrying less weight, and not being distracted by thinking about which lens I’m going to use.  Many of my shots are set up very quickly – moving people or vehicles, the momentary flicker of sunlight across a scene – and switching the camera on while extending the zoom are often achieved in one, fluid movement >>> although since the Nikons have optical viewfinders that do not need to be switched on, I’m forever raising the X-T2 to my eye, forgetting to switch it on >>> and seeing blackness!
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But I’ve also long had the idea of carrying both the X-T1 and X-T2, the slower X-T1 with the 10-24 Fujinon zoom (full-frame 15mm-36mm equivalent), and the 55-200 on the snappier X-T2.  I did this recently walking around the nearby village of Stanton Drew and, with both cameras dangling around my neck, it worked very well indeed.  Firstly, carrying these two fairly compact, CSC cameras and lenses was fine – whereas carrying two of the big Nikons at once would not be fine!  And there was no thinking about changing lenses, I just had to raise the requisite camera to my eye.  My only note of caution here is that – especially if alone – carrying such a display of (relative) wealth around might not be such a good idea in places where opportunistic (and quite possibly violent) theft might be a concern …
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And lastly, the software I use is reasonably basic.  Lightroom Classic, as its now called, works very well, although I have reservations both about the monthly subscriptions, and about the Catalogue method of working.  I still use Capture NX2 too, and have yet to find anything (and certainly not in Lightroom!) to compare with Nik’s Control (or U) Point technology.  My software is completed by what used to be the Google Nik Collection, where I go absolutely ape about generating black and white images with Silver Efex Pro 2, and am also extremely enthusiastic about Color Efex Pro4.  And I am also EXTREMELY interested in the fact that the Google Nik Collection has just been bought by the software company DxO, who are set on developing it and making the Control (U) Points more widely available – this link takes you to DxO..
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And so, Happy New Year to everyone!  Let’s hope that 2018 will be kind to us, and to those less fortunate than ourselves too.

And I hope that some parts at least of this post are useful, and enjoyable too.

All best wishes from The FATman!
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PEOPLE 307 – GOING TO WORK 41

 

 


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Two wheels to work, across a wide and momentarily empty pavement.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a  larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; Broad Quay, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.

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STANTON DREW 45 – VILLAGE LIFE 12

 

 


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Cooking apples (cookers!) being given away in a front garden beside the road along to the prehistoric site.

Again the honesty thing – takers can leave donations in the jam jar if they wish, and the money will then go to charity.  Looking at these apples makes me think of large, deep apple pies of the sort my mother used to make, cooked with lots of sugar to sweeten the apples and served with vast outpourings of hot – and not too thin! – custard!!!

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1 Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11   .    Each will open in a new window.

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 and wide angle (upper image) and X-T2 with the telezoom; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film preset; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STILL LIFE 179 – MEGALITH 2 (MONO)

 

 


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The prehistoric ritual stones at Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol.

Other images of these ritual stones are here: 1   .

More info about this prehistoric site is here .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the String Infra Red Low Contrast preset and adding a strong Selenium tone; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STILL LIFE 176 – MEGALITH 1 (MONO)

 

 


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Standing ritual stone – or megalith – erected in prehistoric times at Stanton Drew.

More about the Stanton Drew prehistoric site is here .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art Process preset, and giving the image the look of Kodak Tri-X 400 TX Pro black and white film; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STANTON DREW 41 – VILLAGE LIFE 8

 

 


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This series of posts – looking again at Stanton Drew – is entitled Village Life, and really I suppose its just that, looking at little scenes and details around the village, trying to give a flavour of its life.  But there’s no getting away from the fact that this village is sitting on the immediate edge of a major stone age site – there are actually standing stones in the pub’s back garden.  I’ve already mentioned this in this post.

Two things get to me here.  Firstly – and delightfully! – although this is certainly an important Stone Age site, spatially at least on a par with the far more well known Stonehenge and Avebury, it is far from all but the most specialist tourist trails.  It does have much meaning for the local Pagan community, something which I respect and identify with very much, but the really lovely thing about these standing stones is that, most often, there are no other visitors at all, so that there is every chance to experience and savour them in peace, quiet and solitude – so different from Stonehenge and Avebury, and truly a wonderful gift.

I’m a geologist, with all that entails about understanding and being at ease with vast periods of time, and I also have a great interest in history, not least ancient history.  And the second thing that gets to me about the Stanton Drew standing stones are the great time periods involved.  The stones were laid out and erected around 4,000 or 5,000 years ago, in Neolithic times.  A line of low hills can be seen in the photo here, and up on those hills is the Iron Age camp of Maes Knoll, which is thought to have been built around 250BC – so the stone circles at Stanton Drew were already two or more thousand years old before that Iron Age encampment – itself remote in age to our eyes – was built.

Later in history, the Anglo-Saxons arrived.  I don’t have an exact date here, but somewhere around 650AD may be right.  And I mention them not only because of my great interest in their history, but also because the name Stanton Drew derives in part from their time – stanton – some sort of settlement or enclosure in the vicinity of the standing stones.  And so to the Christian church, parts of which date from the 13th century, ie some time after 1200AD.  I like Stanton Drew as a place, but the great, visible length of history here considerably adds to it for me.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 .    Each will open in a new window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it still further – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STILL LIFE 165 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 8

 

 


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Seaside café. Cheap, cheerful, functional – and no less enjoyable for all that.  No pretence, what you see is what you get.  Visually, a cacophony of shape and colour.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7  .  Each will open in a new window.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Porthleven, Cornwall; 18 Oct 2016.

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PEOPLE 295 – GOING TO WORK 34

 

 


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Warm breath in a cold sunrise.  Walking away from the light, walking into the city, walking to work.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33 . Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom; Bristol Bridge, central Bristol, 11 Nov 2016.

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