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Micro Four Thirds brilliance

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 4:39 AM
Before I went on holiday, I upgrade from a Panasonic Lumix GH2 which has been pretty much the best camera I've used or owned. The GH3 which has replaced it is amazing as well, but just seems to lack some of the soul which made the GH2 a bit less of a tool than the newer GH3 is.

The GH3 performed wonderfully in Japan and Hong Kong. Auto ISO (limited to max 6400) and Auto WB set, and rarely missed a beat. Even with an ND8 on my fast primes so that I could shoot wide open in bright sunshine, the images from darker areas at higher ISOs were crisp and delightful. The autofocus on the camera is also top-notch, nailing focus in low-light as easily as during the day. I did a quick write-up over on DPReview.

I've begun to upload some of the Japan photos now, as I went on a bit of Tankfest-2012-revisit as some of you may have noticed... But I should be off the military photos for a bit, at least until the Shoreham Airshow at the end of August! I should also begin to put some of my Hong Kong street photography up, so look out for those.

In other news, I completed the 100km London-to-Brighton walk for the British Heart Foundation at the end of June. 105km to be precise, completed in 28 hours and 30 minutes. That's non-stop, overnight. No sleep. It was a brilliant and very tough experience, but I and my team mates managed to walk across the finish line at Brighton Racecourse together.
I took along my handy Olympus EPL1 to grab some shots throughout the two days of walking, all of which I condensed into an eight-minute video here.

Once again, another shout for the benefits of Micro Four Thirds - the EPL1 with the Lumix 20mm pancake on it weighs barely anything, yet can take some great images. It couldn't be more different to my GH3 - an old Olympus with the first-generation of Micro Four Thirds sensor versus a previously top-end prosumer body. And yet they both serve a need.

  • Listening to: Goo Goo Dolls
  • Watching: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Playing: Far Cry 3

Help the BHF

Tue Apr 22, 2014, 9:09 AM
Hello all! I'm back after a nice long holiday, taking in the delights of Japan and Hong Kong. I took too many photos in the former, and not many in the latter. Suffice it to say that two weeks in Japan left me with nearly three thousand images to go through, so as you can imagine I am still in the process of working out what is worth showing both here and elsewhere.

Anyway, I need to let some of you know about a very long walk I am doing in June - the 64-mile London to Brighton walk! This is to raise money and awareness for the British Heart Foundation. I'm currently training for it by doing twenty-odd mile walks with the other members of my team, as well as walking home from work and generally being much more active than normal.

If you could find it in your hearts to support me in this endeavour, I would be very grateful. For more information, visit my JustGiving website,

  • Watching: The Trip
  • Playing: Puzzle & Dragon

Look Forward

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 4:16 PM
So much to write, so little time....

As I mentioned last time, I'm continuing with my photo 365 project. This has meant that I'm developing an image every evening for upload to my Flickr page, but rarely putting anything on DA at present. I really need to have a trawl through what I've already uploaded (all 69 images) to see if there's anything worthy of display on my DA page - I like to keep this for my good stuff. ;) So if you were wondering why I've been quiet, that's the main reason!

Last week, I picked up a new camera body - the Panasonic Lumix GH3. Always been a Panasonic fan since buying my FZ50 bridge camera, and have since progressed from the GH1 to GH2 and now GH3. The reason why I've bought this is to ensure I have the best camera with me for our holiday in the next few weeks. I'm also upgrading my 14-140mm lens to the newer, smaller, lighter and slightly faster Mk.II version, as well as picking up a 45mm prime. Pricey!

Where are we off to? Well, two weeks in Japan followed by a week in Hong Kong. Loved the former when we visited on a guided tour in 2011, so are heading back there again during (hopefully) cherry blossom season. As for HK, I love that just as much - any excuse to go back. :)

So I should have some shots to upload from that in just over a month's time.

  • Listening to: R.E.M.
  • Reading: The Future Was Here
  • Watching: The Trip
  • Playing: Fallout: New Vegas
  • Eating: Lamb
  • Drinking: Port

Out with 2013

Wed Jan 1, 2014, 1:31 PM
I'm glad to see the back of it frankly. A bad year for my family and I, a very bad year.

We learnt around March time that my mother had cancer, and despite the excellent work done by the doctors and nurses at the various hospitals in and around Sussex, she passed away in November. She was followed mere weeks later by her mother and my nan. Both are greatly missed, and a huge hole has opened up in my life. We are all looking to 2014 to be a year of happiness and positivity.

So photography-wise, I haven't really been in the mood this year, particularly towards the end of 2013. I was lucky enough to be able to sell some shares in October, allowing me to purchase the Panasonic Leica f/1.4 25mm lens. This is equivalent to the traditional "nifty fifty" beloved of many photographers, and opens up a new focal length to me which I've previously shied away from. In particular, it offers some very nice bokeh effects on Micro Four Thirds, which are similar to f/2.8 on a full-frame camera.

What does 2014 hold for photography? More shots with that lens for a start! Currently I've only been out a couple of times with it, but I'm already loving the way it renders images. Subject isolation is also wonderful from it.

The Southwick Camera Club (which I'm a member of) are doing a Photo 365 this year, which I'm part of. Obviously today is the first day. I upload my images to the group on Flickr, but probably won't be putting them on DA - that's because I use this site for my "good" stuff! ;)

Later on in the year, I'll also be taking part in the second Brighton Photomarathon. Last year's was great fun (my journal here), so I look forward to participating again within such a limited ruleset, really focusses the mind.

Have a great year everyone.

  • Listening to: The 80s (compilation)
  • Reading: The Future Was Here
  • Watching: Alpha Papa
  • Playing: Diablo 3
  • Drinking: Yorkshire Ale

Almost 100

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 2:31 AM
Matilda by amipal The Depths by amipal
Nyhavn Sunset by amipal Diesel Power by amipal
Just had a quick look at my stats (I love statistics, me). The four images above are almost to one hundred favourites, just need that one final push to get them in the big leagues!

  • Listening to: The 80s (compilation)
  • Watching: The Shield
  • Playing: Dishonored
  • Drinking: Tea

Copenhagen

Tue Aug 13, 2013, 6:38 AM
You may have noticed a few images from Copenhagen having graced my gallery recently. That's because of a surprise holiday organised by my partner for my birthday! We are supposed to be moving the year, so I'd sort of put a kibosh on a holiday for the year, so it was a great surprise.

She'd told me in advance that we were going away, but I had no idea where until we got to the airport. And what a great place she chose - Copenhagen is an amazing city, with things to see and do all over. And there a photographic opportunities galore! The only thing I will say about it is that the food and drink are very expensive. A pint of beer (or near enough) costs almost 8 UKP!

I have a few more to put up which I'm sort of trickling onto DA. I'm a member of quite a few groups and many of them have limits of one photo every seven days.

--

I've also taken to using my work a bit more this year. There are lots of photo competitions out there with holidays or camera gear as prizes, and I like to think my photography has got to a point now where I'm in with a chance of some winnings! By all means, that doesn't mean I know it all, and I would never agree with that - I am learning all the time, and even my recent shots from Copenhagen show some evolution over shoots only taken a couple of weeks before.

  • Listening to: Crossroads - Bon Jovi
  • Reading: Blue Earth Remembered - Alastair Reynolds
  • Watching: Breaking Bad
  • Playing: Red Dead Redemption
  • Eating: Chicken soup
  • Drinking: Tea

A few things

Sat Jun 8, 2013, 4:06 PM
First up - I came second in the Print of the Year competition at the Southwick Camera Club! This was thanks to me Electric City image amipal.deviantart.com/art/Elec… which had previously been scored average - but I knew better. Very happy with the result, and still not only one of my favourite shots from Hong Kong, but best shots I've taken.

On another note, some friends and I are having an analogue challenge - buy a film camera and some film, and see what we can shoot! I've borrowed a Rollei 35S from a member of the family, and have been trying it out with a roll of out-of-date Kodak Gold ISO 100 film. 24 shots have just been developed, and they look pretty good considering
a) the film was best before July 2006
b) I haven't shot film in a decade
c) I'd never used the Rollei before
d) the exposure meter on the camera didn't work so I had to use a light meter app on my iPhone to get the correct settings

So I am more than happy with the equipment, and thanks to the 40mm f/2.8 lens on the Rollei, it's very similar to shooting with the 20mm f/1.7 pancake on a Micro Four Thirds which I'm used to! I may share the scans with you in the future.
We're trying to come up with dates and locations where we can all shoot together. Exciting times.

  • Listening to: The Best of Blur
  • Reading: Ursula le Guin - The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Watching: Jerico
  • Playing: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Eating: Fajitas
  • Drinking: Ale

Brighton Photo Marathon

Mon Mar 11, 2013, 11:44 AM
The Photo Marathon was on Saturday 9th March, 12 photos of 12 topics over 12 hours. All photos had to be in order on the memory card, meaning that once you were happy with the topic photo and moved on to the next topic; you couldn't go back to a previous topic. If you did, you'd then have to reshoot all of the other topics.

We'd been told that registration was at 8:30am in Brighton, which meant me getting up at just gone six in the morning to make sure I got a cuppa and cooked breakfast in me for the long day ahead. Once registered, we couldn't get the first set of topics until ten o'clock, so sat in a cafe for a bit making sure our cameras were set up correctly.
The first four topics were: My Entry Number, Night Life, Silence is Golden, Orange

My entry number was 132, so we walked for a bit trying to find phone numbers on businesses, door numbers, train times... anything with those numbers in that order. In the end, I did an adhoc still-life using my hat as a background and my watch set to 1:32.

Night Life was also tricky, considering it was around 11am when we were on the lookout for it. Things had either been cleaned up from Friday night, or places weren't open yet. Got a shot of a bar which had opened on the beach, neon lights, optics and beer pedestal all in pin-sharp focus.

Silence is Golden was rather taxing - how do you capture the absence of sound in a static image? The answer lay across the beach in the form of a man fast asleep. The 300mm lens really brought some nice background separation.

Grabbed some lunch from a noodle bar, then went hunting for Orange. I shot various shop-fronts and items as we walked back towards Brighton Library, but wasn't happy with what I'd got. As we sat down for my mate to look through our shots so far, I woman with the brightest dyed orange hair you've ever seen walked past - I felt like a paparazzi chasing her down the street.

Back to the Brighton Uni building for the next set of topics: Lost and Found, Reflections, Cheap as Chips, Victoria was Here
We had to make sure we were back at the building every four hours for the topics. If you didn't get there within half an hour of the time, you'd be disqualified.

Lost and Found was tricky. I was on the lookout for a garment or some other item left in the street, but the only thing I found didn't work well. My next idea was to grab a cardboard box from the back of a supermarket, scrawl "lost & found" on the side, and fill it with random crap. None of the local supermarkets had any rubbish out back, and I wasn't about to buy props. My mate instead sat outside a church looking forlorn.
His shot was much better - a worried looking dog tied up outside a Tesco Local.

Next up,  Reflections! Easy right? Not on a grey day in Brighton apparently. The newish buildings around the station gave me nothing, and I ended up in the station car park shooting new car headlights. These turned out alright. Walking through the station, the flower stall had some shiny balloons up and I grabbed a few more shots of reflected station scenes. We started walking down to the seafront for Cheap as Chips when I noticed a puddle in the subway leading to the beach - a nicely composed reflection of my mate and the iron gates worked wonderfully.

Cheap as Chips only meant one thing - we bought some chips. I just got a simple hand-coming-in-to-pick-up-chips shot, will my mate sprinkled said chips with coppers and 5p coins. Cue some oik in the background saying to his mates "Oi, what the hell is he doing?!" There were other ideas - go to a casino, or shoot some chipboard.

Lastly, Victoria was Here, which I took to mean Queen Victoria. There's a large statue of her down Hove seafront which my mate (who has lived in Hove his entire life) was completely unaware of. Twenty minutes later, we were standing next to the plinth. I managed to get a very basic shot, statues are not my forte. In hindsight, I should have put a lot more thought into the composition, been a bit more creative. Oh well.

Since we were in Hove for Victoria was Here, we thought about getting some food in us while we had time. Stumbled into the Blind Busker, an horrendous pub filled with middle-aged boozehounds. Ordered some food, grabbed some ale, sat down... and waited, and waited, and waited. Bear in mind we had to be back at the uni for 18:00 to get the last set of topics, we suddenly realised that our food stop was a very bad idea.
The food eventually arrived at bang on 18:00. I threw my burger down my throat, washed it away with the dire ale I was quaffing, then headed to the nearest taxi rank. Luckily we were able to hail a cab en route.

We arrived at the uni building at 18:20, very lucky. The last set were: Illusion, Hashtag, Heaven on Earth, To the Beat
After a quick toilet break, we headed back out into the cold and dark.

My idea for Illusion was a simple light-trails shot on Brighton seafront. I got the traffic coming off the Aquarium Roundabout and traffic heading in the other direction, with the rotating Brighton Wheel on the right. The end result was quite successful, though I could have sat there for another hour taking further shots.
We then walked down to the beach once more for my mate to get his Illusion image - me running around a sculpture with a torch for a fifteen second exposure.

Hashtag was downright evil. I wasn't about to go and take a photo of a poster with a hashtag on it, so I made a hashtag out of pebbles. The photo is... basic. I'd say that I was running out of creative juice by this point.

Next up was Heaven on Earth. I didn't have a clue where to start with this. There are plenty of churches in Brighton, but none of which look one bit heavenly. We'd walked up to the Palace Pier from the beach, so I began to look for interesting lighting effects from the rides and lights. Thanks to losing the lens cap from my 20mm pancake lens at the 2011 Chatterbox Awards, the UV filter on that lens is a bit scratched - which means that it reflects a lot of bright lights in strange ways. Composing a shot of a spinning ride, the lights reflected up into the sky looking almost angelic. Bam, that was my shot.

And finally, we came to To the Beat. Looked out for buskers on the streets, but it was too cold for anyone but tramps, photo marathon competitors, or hen parties. I thought back to the taxi ride we had earlier in the day; the cabbie had 90s dance music blaring out. This gave me an idea for a night shot at a slow shutter speed, jerking around to look like a visualisation of music. I was happy with that.

It was at 21:00 that we started to make our way back to Brighton Uni to submit our photos. I was still walking okay at this point, but my mate was in dire straits. He'd put on his standard non-walking trainers, and his feet were (in his words) mashed. What should have been a ten minute walk took us twice as long.

On returning to the building, we found some comfy seat and began to delete the images which wouldn't be submitted - remember, only twelve JPEG files were needed. I'd already picked mine from what I'd shot, so it was reasonably easy to go back through the memory card doing multiple deleted. One had to be careful not to delete the final image though - you'd have to go out and take all of those shots all over again! All of my files were copied over by 21:45.

There's going to be a gallery showing of all the images on 28th March. Around 260 people took part in the photo marathon, either as individuals or in groups - twelve photos per entry number. Every photo will be printed on 6 x 4. Then there'll be prizes awarded for the top three shots of the day, the best collection of shots, and the youth award.

Would I do it again? Definitely. Preparation was key - all lenses were cleaned the night before, all batteries charged, and memory card tested to make sure it was viable. The latter was particularly important - my mate's Lexar card was brand new, never tested, and corrupted a couple of images.
Hydration was very important as well. We set ourselves an hour for each shot, so stops at shops for food and drink ate into shooting time. I'd brought along a Thermos of sugary tea, keeping my liquids and glucose up.

I know I'm a firm proponent of the Micro Four Thirds format already, but I have to say that the weight and size benefits really assisted us on Saturday. I had my Panasonic Lumix GH2, he had his Lumix G3 - both light cameras, and both with the same mount, allowing us to share equipment. In my Retrospective 5 bag, I had the 9-18mm, 20mm, 14-140mm, 100-300mm, as well as spare battery shutter release and cleaning equipment. I was very sore the next day around the legs and hips, but my shoulder is fine.
The GH2's multi-aspect sensor allowed me to shoot at specific crops (1:1, 3:2, 16:9) and get the best resolution possible. It also has a "multi-film-mode" which means that for each three-burst show, you can assign a different JPEG treatment to each. This gave me amazing flexibility for what to submit - for each shot I had colour, high-contrast B&W and standard B&W.

Hints and tips for future marathons: take a notepad and pen/marker. And think laterally.

  • Listening to: Shuffle
  • Reading: Alistair Reynolds - Terminal Worlds
  • Watching: The Shield
  • Playing: Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • Eating: Spag bol
  • Drinking: Orange juice

New year

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 3:28 PM
I know we're now fifteen days into 2013, so I won't bother with new year's greetings and all that. But it is a new year, and one that contains plenty of opportunities to get out there with the camera! Of course, with it being either damp and miserable or freezing out there at the moment, I'm a bit loath to leave the warmth of a warm home!

My preparation for Hong Kong went very well, and I didn't find myself at any point wishing that I'd bought something with me that I didn't have. The GH2 was amazing, performing as a straight replacement for my erstwhile GH1. It's faster, the auto-focus is bang on, and I've found that I'm absolutely besotted with the touch-focus function.
Overall, I shot 1042 images, 90 of which I processed. That's not necessarily down to shooting almost a thousand rubbish images, but mainly because I always shoot burst. And because of the multi-aspect sensor on the GH2, I tend to try in both 4:3 as well as 16:9 ratios to give me options in post-processing.

Speaking of which, I've been poking away at Lightroom 4 to get the best out of my RAW images. Highlight recovery has been very useful for a lot of the HK shots - shadowed buildings shot against bright skies can now be brought back to something usable. This may mean I revisit some earlier shots to see if I can produce better effects.

Something else I found very useful was the GorillaPod SLR GP3. It's designed to hold a lot of weight, so easily held the light Micro Four Thirds system. I shot quite a few photos with ND filters to slow traffic (human and car) and used the GorillaPod to steady the camera against whatever I could find - usually lamp posts or railings. Very handy, very light, and truly versatile.

Anyway, on with 2013! Thanks to all those who have viewed my images over the last year and have handed out favourites and devwatches. Very much appreciate it.

  • Listening to: Everclear - Slowmotion Daydream
  • Reading: Stephen Baxter - Moonsead
  • Watching: The Office (US)
  • Playing: Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • Eating: Curry
  • Drinking: Tea

Preparation

Sun Oct 28, 2012, 10:57 AM
Wednesday sees me heading to the airport for an holiday in Hong Kong which, as you can imagine, I am rather excited about. We're heading out there for a wedding, in itself a slightly different affair to the usual ones you attend in the UK. Aside from that, I'll be toting my camera around trying to capture the essence of the city - such a dynamic, foreign, yet familiar place.

I've been looking to upgrade from my dependable Panasonic Lumix GH1 for a couple of months now. It has been an amazing camera, and I've learnt so much about photographic techniques by using it. It has also travelled with me to a number of locations around the world, allowing me to share these wonderful visions with my friend and family.

But the GH1 was beginning to get on a bit. Though thoroughly reliable (only one lost image in three years), I began to notice things which I'd like to see improved - a higher resolution, faster auto-focus, greater dynamic range. And I've found all of these in the next logical step, the Lumix GH2. I picked this up from the brilliant Park Cameras on Saturday, and have just been playing with the controls in advance of the trip on Wednesday. There aren't any huge changes in the way the camera operates. The most notable is the control dial being moved from the front to the back of the camera. Otherwise, everything functions in much the same way as my GH1.

I also picked up a new camera bag a couple of months ago, a Thinktank Retrospective 5. This easily carries all of the lenses I think I'll need, as well as a variety of filters and lens tools. It makes it a lot easier to swap glass while on the move - a backpack necessitates a stop every time you need to do this.

I've got a couple of images already in mind that I'd like to get while over in Hong Kong, so will hopefully be successful so that I can share them with you in a few weeks time!

  • Listening to: REM - Automatic for the People
  • Reading: Alastair Reynolds - House of Suns
  • Watching: Homeland
  • Playing: Skyrim
  • Eating: Stew
  • Drinking: Tea

Five K

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 3:06 PM
Just a  quick shout to say wow - five thousands unique views. Thank you to everybody who has swung by my page over the last few years, I really appreciate each and every hit.

I know the last few months has mostly been aircraft and tank images, but I'd been working on my airshow and militaria photography. I like to think my technique improved between the Goodwood images from last year to the Shoreham airshow images from September of this year.

That should be it for aircraft and tanks in 2012 though. I'm off to Hong Kong at the end of this month, so hope to put up some new urban images at the beginning of November. So once again, thanks!

  • Listening to: The Darkness - Hot Cakes
  • Reading: Kim Stanley Robinson - 2312
  • Watching: Breaking Bad
  • Playing: Skyrim
  • Eating: Fish'n'chips
  • Drinking: Casillero del Diablo

Military madness

Sat Jul 7, 2012, 9:31 AM
Regular visitors and watchers may have noticed an increase in the number of military related deviations I've submitted recently. This is due to one of my projects this year - to attend and photograph and number of air and military shows!

Amazingly, this all stems from watching some Spitfires flying at the Goodwood Revival Festival in September of last year. At the time, I rented a 100-300mm Lumix lens to get some long shots that my 14-140mm was just not capable of reaching. I was so enamoured by this piece of glass that I bought the lens in February, and have since wanted to get as much use out of it as possible - hence the airshows!

The Duxford Airshow in May was a baptism of fire in terms of working out how best to capture fast moving objects using Micro Four Thirds. Unlike regular DSLRs, most mirrorless camera use contrast detect to work out if they're in focus. This works well for regular half-click focus, but means that continuous focussing is very slow. So burst -shots and click-focus was very much the order of the day. And shooting with both eyes open to ensure the planes remained within the frame!

Bovington Tank Museum annually hold their Tankfest show, and this year's was their tenth anniversary. There were a number of special bits on show, but unfortunately the weather and mechanics conspired on the Saturday - so the WW1 planes didn't fly due to high-winds, and a number of tanks broke down either before or during their time in the arena. The EPL1 came in really handy during the arena exhibitions, as it meant I had both telephotos to hand with minimum fuss.

Next up is the Shoreham Airshow in September, where I hope the lessons I've learnt at the recent shows help me get some more impressive aerial imagery!

Oh, and one more thing... thanks to everyone who has visited my page - I am now at over 4,000 views and climbing! Couldn't have done it without you taking a peek at my gallery. :)

  • Listening to: Garbage - Not Your Kind of People
  • Reading: Iain M. Banks - Surface Detail
  • Watching: The Office (US)
  • Playing: Crysis 2
  • Eating: Steak
  • Drinking: Orange juice

Surprise

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 7:29 AM
As I mentioned in a previous journal, I'm part of the Southwick Camera Club. They regularly hold competitions, both themed and open, for digitally projected images (DPI) and prints. Since we're nearing the end of this year's season, we're had some "Photos of the Year" competitions over the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, long story short, the two images I submitted to the DPI of the Year competition, 2011/2012 season both got into the top 20... then the top 10... then the top 4... The judge gave two other images joint 3rd place, leaving my building image as 2nd place and my Venice alleyway image as 1st! As you can imagine, I was very surprised by this, and slightly embarrassed to boot. Not only that, but I also managed to walk away with a bottle of wine courtesy of the weekly raffle. Definitely some good luck on me!

So here are the winning images:

1st place, All the Right Friends
All the Right Friends by amipal

2st place, I've Climbed So High
I've Climbed So High by amipal

What this means is that next year I'll be moving out of the Intermediate group, and into the Advances group. All members of the Advanced group are armed with the usual Canons and Nikons, so it'll be interesting to see how the first Micro Four Thirds club member does in this esteemed conglomeration of photographers!

Congratulations also to my good friend ~jhbodle jhbodle.deviantart.com/ who won 1st place in the Print of the Year competition at the same club.
So Near Yet So Far
So Near Yet So Far by jhbodle

  • Listening to: Garbage - Not Your Kind of People
  • Reading: Iain M. Banks - Surface Detail
  • Watching: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Playing: Portal 2
  • Eating: Roast lamb
  • Drinking: Koyle Reserva

Where have you been?

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 3:47 PM
Wow, it's been a while since I updated my journal! In fact, this is my first journal of 2012, and we're already a third of the way through the year. So, what's kept me busy? All sorts.

I started a new job at the beginning of March. I'm still employed within the same company, but the new role is much more in keeping with my know-how and expertise. I'm enjoying it, but still very much learning my way around the department and job. Ask me in a year how I'm doing!

Photography wise, I'm regularly attending a local camera club. When I first started, it really got the creative juices flowing, and the regular competition helped hone my images and make me look at them with a more critical eye.
Recently, I've found that I've only been taking photos for the competitions at the club, rather than for myself. A particularly galling experience was a recent double 15 points for two images I entered, 20 being the max and 15 usually being the lower points scored. I realised that I was measuring my enjoyment by the scores awarded by an impartial judge, one who has their own tastes and predilections in what they are after in a shot.
Since then, I've been aiming to take photos that I like, rather than worrying about what a judge will think, and I've been enjoying myself a lot more. I'll still attend the club, but I will no longer worry about scoring.

The club has also been instrumental in me building up my camera equipment. In January, I bought the Panasonic 100-300mm telephoto lens for my GH1. This has fantastic reach, being equivalent to 600mm, and will by a key asset when visiting air shows which I've planned to attend this year. I've also bought another Micro Four Thirds body, in the form of the Olympus EPL1 - this hasn't arrived yet, as I only ordered it yesterday. But the idea is that I can have the 14-140mm lens on the Oly while I shoot away on the Panasonic, then quickly switch when I need to.
Add to this the Raynox 150 macro adaptor, and the Olympus Zuiko 9-18mm lens, and I'm sure you'll agree that I've gone a bit camera-crazy.

For those who are unaware, I'm building a scale model of HMS Victory www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet… . It's an all-wood construction which I started as a part-build 18 months ago. Progress has been slow, but I have almost completed planking the hull - each plank needs to be individually sized and bent to shape around the keel and ribs. I'll get there in the end, maybe I'll even have something worth showing on Deviant Art!

  • Listening to: Turbowolf - Turbowolf
  • Reading: Matter - Iain M. Banks
  • Watching: Game of Thrones
  • Playing: The Orange Box
  • Eating: Spag bol
  • Drinking: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Diverge

Sat Dec 31, 2011, 4:37 AM
And here we are at the end of 2011. It's been a great year - I've celebrated my 30th birthday, flown a helicopter and Tiger Moth, travelled to Venice and Japan, moved into a new role at work, and Elder Scrolls V was released. Yes, that last one has become a bit of an obsession of mine.

I have also spent a lot of time planning my photos - I never thought a year ago that I'd be taking my hobby so seriously, yet here I am at the end of 2011 looking to spend another few hundred quid on a telephoto lens www.parkcameras.com/17508/Pana… for my GH1. I went to the Goodwood Revival this year with a hired lens to get some good shots of Spitfires in flight, and though the flying shots themselves didn't turn out as great as I'd hoped, I did get a good feel for the lens. And now I must have it!

2011 also saw me reaching over 3,000 views on my Deviant Art page, so I'd like to thank everyone who has taken time to look at my photography - I am eternally grateful. The Camera Club I visit has regular set themes, so look forward to themes around metal and night in 2012!

I've been really happy with my choice of a Micro Four Thirds camera. When I was looking around for the next step up from my bridge camera fav.me/d2hgtcf, there were a lot of people trying to steer me towards either Nikon or Canon. But looking at the projected images and A3-printed ones at competition evenings, I really can't tell the difference between what is coming from the APS-C and M4/3 sensors.

I've also submitted many of my photos in my gallery to the print shop, so please feel free to purchase any you'd feel would like good on your wall! If there are images which are not print enabled, please ask me.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great Christmas 2011. Here's to an amazing 2012 for everyone!

  • Listening to: R.E.M. - Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part G
  • Reading: Alan Partridge - I, Partridge
  • Watching: Frozen Planet
  • Playing: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Eating: Soup
  • Drinking: Medella Real Gran Reserva Carmenere 2008

Three Decades

Sun Sep 11, 2011, 6:32 AM
Well the title says it all. In July, I celebrated my 30th birthday with my twin brother StugMeister stugmeister.deviantart.com We had a fantastic day at our parents house, with an open house party for all of our friends and family to pop in and join us. One of the best days of my life, and glad that I have such a great family and friends to share it with.

Off the back of it, I received numerous fantastic presents, all of which were very well tailored to me. These ranged from a Global Steak Knife (I do like my steak), to some framed black and white prints of Spitfires, to vouchers for a cooking lesson at Recipease. But its the combined presents which I've had the joy of experiencing over the last couple of weekends.

Last weekend, my brother and I crawled into a giant transparent plastic ball to be hurled down Devil's Dyke by the mighty force of gravity - zorbing! My only disappointment was my inability to wear my mate's Go Pro HD video camera whilst participating. The organisers couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't rip free and damage us in there. On the plus side, it probably would have been three minutes of my brother screaming at it, but that's humanity's loss.

Yesterday, I drove to Shoreham Airport for one of my other big presents - a flight in a 1940 Tiger Moth. Exhilarating, absolute pure joy. I was able to take the controls for a large portion of the half an hour flight - very sensitive. You only need to move the control surfaces as little as half an inch to get response from the aircraft. Though it was a very changeable day for the weather in the south of England, I was still able to see a lot of the surrounding landscape - we mainly cruised around 1200 ft. A quick peak above the clouds near Hassocks saw us rise to 2000 ft - I wasn't cold though, they'd given me a Biggles-stylel leather jacket and flying goggles!

Heading back to the airport, the pilot took control back from me and proceeded to execute three loop-the-loops over Shoreham! At no point did I feel afraid during the flight, despite the open cockpit and cartwheeling horizon. We then came in for a very smooth landing.

I recommend the flight to anyone. I'm still smiling over 24 hours later! :D

  • Listening to: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
  • Reading: The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson
  • Watching: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • Playing: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Eating: Chilli
  • Drinking: Guinness and Harvey's

Japan

Sun Jun 19, 2011, 3:18 PM
A couple of weeks ago I returned from a holiday in Japan. We visited many cities, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka, as well as lots of other places. It was a fantastic tour, with so much to see and do - the people are wonderfully friendly, and the food... wow. The photographer in me was keen to snap away at absolutely everything - thankfully I managed to rein that in, to actually enjoy and see Japan without being stuck behind the viewfinder. Still, the vital statistics... ~800 photos in JPEG and RAW format, filling two 8GB SDHC cards, as well as some 1080P AVCHD video. Once I've had a proper look at them, I'll start to submit my best ones to Deviant Art to share with the rest of you.

It wasn't all good news though. One memory card consistently gave write errors, meaning I was never confident that a shot would be saved, nor that any of the other photos would be on the card on my return. Has anyone else had any problems with the SanDisk 8GB Ultra? Also, my old Olympus u700 compact camera gave up the ghost midway through the trip, reporting hex-errors whenever it was switched on. Though this was a pain at the time, on the bright side it does mean that I can finally invest in a new compact! Which I did today - picked up a Samsung WB700 from Park Cameras.

  • Listening to: REM - Collapse Into Now
  • Reading: Iron Council - China Miéville
  • Watching: Community
  • Playing: Neptune's Pride
  • Eating: Sushi
  • Drinking: Wolf Blass 2009 Shiraz

Revisit

Tue Feb 15, 2011, 1:47 PM
Hello all! Long time no journal-writing... nearly six months in fact. Winter is always a difficult time for me when it comes to photography - I just don't feel that motivated when greeted by a grey and wet day when opening the door!

A lot of the photography I've done recently is for family and friends, of new arrivals. This has been great for my portrait skills (and meant that I invested well in my 20mm pancake lense!), but I do feel as if I've lost he knack I had for spotting a good shot when on location and making sure my camera is setup for it.

Still, I'm heading to Venice tomorrow for a few days. I went at a similar time last year - if there is a place in the world guaranteed to deliver potential shots to you around every corner, then it is Venice. Should be able to come back from there with some good ones, fingers crossed... :fingerscrossed:

  • Listening to: Goo Goo Dolls - Gutterflower
  • Reading: War of Wars - Robert Harvey
  • Watching: The Pacific
  • Playing: Assassin's Creed 2 GOTY
  • Eating: Beef Wellington
  • Drinking: Tea

Discovery

Sun Sep 5, 2010, 6:36 AM
For a while now, I've been aware of something that you wouldn't expect to find on the lush calm green hills of the Downs in Sussex. I've meant to venture up there on a number of occasions to document it, and to actually see it with my own eyes and touch it with my own hands. The subject in question is an abandoned World War 2 Churchill tank.
I went up there yesterday and finally found it. Where once it was a bastion of British armoured might, it is now nothing more than a rusting hulk. It is still impressive mind, and I got a number of shots. The battery died on my camera unfortunately, so I couldn't get as much done as I wanted.

On another note, I've recently invested in my first lens for my Lumix GH1 - the 20mm f/1.7 pancake. Lovely little thing it is, and when fitted to the body is astonishingly light. My 14-140mm that came with the camera is very heavy, but this combo barely applies any pressure to my neck! Takes some awesome portrait photographs.

Anyway, I hope to upload images of the tank and from the new lens in the near-future - stay tuned! :)

  • Listening to: Kings of Leon - Only by the Night
  • Reading: Perdido Street Station - China Miéville
  • Watching: Futurama
  • Playing: Red Dead Redemption
  • Eating: Dim sum
  • Drinking: Red Wine

Four digits

Thu Jun 3, 2010, 2:55 PM
1000 views! Not sure how that happened, but here we are!

In the last few weeks, I've had little opportunity to get out and about with the GH1. However, Monday's Bank Holiday provided a few shots are Nyman's Gardens in Sussex so I may well post up a couple of images from that. Also, I visited Grain Island a few weeks back - a desolute place on the Thames. I'll see if I can dig any gold out of that.

In the meantime, I've now been given a (relatively) stable job at work, so at least my job worries are over for now.

  • Listening to: 3 Doors Down - Away From The Sun
  • Reading: Charlie Brooker's Dawn of the Dumb
  • Watching: Arrested Development
  • Playing: Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
  • Eating: Lamb stew
  • Drinking: Red Wine