365 Challenge - Month 1

I’m now just over a month into the 365 challenge and it is starting to be quite a learning curve.

I’m finding that I’m having to get really creative with how I get shots, which is obviously part of the reason for doing this whole thing. But I don’t think I was expecting to be putting the work in quite so soon!

I’m not one for resting on my laurels and don’t like the idea of repeating shots, or the idea of a shot. OK, I’m accepting that some days are going to be easier than others, and some days a shot is not going to be as good as other days. But I still want to try and get a different angle on something, or a different technique.

I think I’m managing it so far. But it’s not easy!

The weather has been quite variable. There’s been some gorgeous, sunny days which has allowed me to play with shadows. There has also been some rain - which has made me think differently about things (whilst trying to prevent my kit getting wet!). I’ve also been out with one or two of my film cameras, which has mean me shooting some stuff on my iPhone. That’s been quite interesting - I’ve found I have a couple of nice shots from that.

Last week, I contacted Erik Witsoe, whose 365 monochrome challenge inspired me to do my own (see blog post from February). He’d said on his website that he was open to anyone wanting to contact him if they were doing their own 365, so I thought I’d pop him an email to find out how he worked through some of the tougher patches of creativity. And I got a very nice, detailed and swift reply from him with some great advice. It’s nice to find a fellow photographer who is not only making great photos but is also a lovely person and willing to give up some of their time like that. It’s things like that which keeps one inspired.

One of the things I took from Erik was to just keep trying different things. Not to always take it so seriously. I think I started out in a bit of a panic about having to capture something, whereas now I’m starting to relax into it a bit. Which means I’m actually just getting on with taking photos and enjoying the process more. After all, there’s always something else that might pop up around the corner that makes a great, unexpected shot.

Talking of which, one thing I have always wanted to get into and not been confident enough about is street portraiture (for want of a better term). And today, a perfect opportunity arose.

It was pouring with rain, and I’d been trying to get some puddle reflection shots. Just after I’d been doing so, I saw a Big Issue seller’s bright umbrella, camping chair etc in the rain. It was a nice splash of colour and I grabbed a shot. Suddenly, the Big Issue seller leapt into shot and posed for me - I wasn’t really happy with the couple of shots but said I’d be back in 5 minutes to buy one of his magazines. Luckily, when I got back (in even heavier rain) he had one mag left. So I bought it and had a quick chat as he packed up, asking if I could get another couple of shots. And he was quite happy to do so.

So, below is my first street portrait. His name is Anthony. He’s a thoroughly pleasant chap.
I’m not sure if it’s the best portrait ever (although hopefully I captured something about him) but it’s a start for me. Not just in actually taking the photo, but the whole idea of getting over that barrier of chatting to a stranger and taking their photo… and them being quite alright about it!


And here are some other faves…


365 Challenge - the first couple of weeks

Somehow the past two weeks have zoomed by and I appear to be in the thick of my 365 Challenge.

As I said in my last journal entry, my 365 Challenge has two rules: it’s all to be in monochrome and there has to be someone in shot that is important to the composition.

I’ll be honest: I’m finding it a bit trickier than I thought. Some days more than others.
This is for a couple of reasons….

Firstly, my rule of getting someone in shot. That in itself isn’t an issue, but getting someone in there which is important to the composition and isn’t just incidental makes things hard at times. There have been a couple of days when I’ve become very aware of not many people around, although a wander round town at lunchtime always seems to give a couple of photo opportunities. Added to that, weekends have been tricky - working in town means weekdays aren’t such a problem. But there’s less people on the weekends near where I live.

Secondly, sometimes finding the time to get some shots is harder than I thought. I usually shoot quite a lot but some days I don’t get anything. Now I’ve set myself a challenge I have to get something! But I don’t want it to be anything - I want good shots (even though I’m well aware that not every day of the year is going to bring something fantastic). And this past week has been hectic at work so I’ve often not had the time to get out with my camera.

However, I am finding that it is changing my approach to my photography already. I’m finding that I’m shooting with more sense of purpose and also noticing possibilities for a shot more than before. I’ve taken to hanging around in a spot for something to happen to make a shot work (see the puddle shot below) or scouting out a location (the guy on the rooftop - I walked round that building several times for a good angle), as well as my usual opportunistic shots.

The Flickr link to the 365 Challenge is here

These are some faves from the last couple of weeks….


Bath Carnival 2018

This weekend saw the return of the annual Bath Carnival. And I was excited to be asked by the organisers to be one of the official photographers. The carnival is always great fun and brings the whole of the city centre together in a mass of noise and colour.

With the weather being gorgeous at the moment, Sydney Gardens was heaving for the day long party and the streets were full of smiling people watching the procession. It's a fantastic atmosphere.

Usually for events that I'm photographing for myself I'll have a mix of colour and monochrome shots. But working to a brief this year, I knew that I'd be doing them all in colour. I'd planned on some shots for my personal use being in monochrome but then decided against it when editing. The day was so colourful I decided for a change to just go with that carnival atmosphere.

I love the challenge of events like this. I find it quite an adrenaline rush being in the thick of it, trying to create good shots and capturing the essence of what is going on.

To make life more interesting for myself, I was shooting a lot of it with my 135mm manual telephoto lens; so not only was I trying to shoot stuff quickly but I was also not having the safety net of auto focus. However, this only added to the enjoyment! If I wasn't shooting with that then I was going to the other extreme - using a wide angle lens to get in really close to the action; you definitely feel a part of what's going on when you've got a thunderous drumming band getting pretty close to your face (note to self - definitely need a nice wide angle prime!)

The Carnival is non profit and does workshops with many groups to bring the whole thing together. You can donate to keep it running at their Localgiving page.

Here are a few choice shots. There are quite a few more over on Flickr.


Geeky stuff!
I used my Olympus OMD EM10ii with these lenses...
Olympus Zuiko 135mm f3.5.
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42 f35-5.6ii.
Panasonic Lumix 25mm f1.7.

Using a telephoto lens

Telephoto lenses. Not something I usually use.
However, I have recently acquired an old Olympus Zuiko 135mm f3.5 lens - which makes it a 270mm lens on my Olympus EM10ii, due to it being a Micro Four Thirds camera.

How did I come to buy a focal length of lens which I wouldn't usually touch?

Well, a good friend of mine has asked me to be the photographer at her wedding. And straight away my first thought was lenses. Handily, my brother (https://www.worsfold.photos/) has just started shooting on a Sony and offered me his MFT kit to use, including the 17mm f1.7 and 45mm f1.8. Both great lenses which will add to my kit and should cover me.

I then got thinking about lenses with a bit more length to capture people mingling without shoving a camera too closely in their faces. I have my long zoom which I usually only get out for when I head to Silverstone (see earlier post from the Bath Carnival). But it's not the fastest of lenses and it spends most of the time sitting around doing nothing. I'll probably use it for the wedding though, just because it gives me options and I can autofocus with it to capture important things quickly.

I then started thinking about lenses for my visits to motorsport venues and whether I really need a zoom? I very rarely use zooms, preferring to use my feet. And I do get a bit annoyed with cheaper zooms and their variable aperture. If I'm fully wide with a lens at f4, I want to be able to zoom and it stays at f4. And unless I'm willing to pay vast amounts of cash for something I rarely use then I've got to put up with that. Or have I?

I looked at the exif info from various races I've been to and could see that I only really use a couple of different focal lengths with a zoom. At last year's World Endurance Championship race at Silverstone I was pretty much at 200mm most of the time, with a few shots in the 130-150mm focal length. So I got to thinking, why don't I just carry a couple of prime lenses of those focal lengths? They're going to be faster than the zoom. And I reckon the quality will be a bit better. I don't need autofocus - the cars are too fast for it to keep up.

So I went shopping. And after doing some research, the first prime telephoto I have got is the Zuiko. It's a good lens - very small for something of this focal length. It's lightweight and very quick to focus with. It also has a nifty lens hood built in.


I took it out for a wander around town on my lunch break and although it gets some nice shots, I'm finding it a bit odd for my normal kind of photography. I'm used to seeing something and pretty much knowing what I get in shot because of the focal lengths I use. With this, I'm much closer to the subject; so the photo I see in my head I'm not getting and I have to step back a bit.

It also feels a bit odd taking photos of strangers with it. Whereas usually I'm up fairly close, now I'm further away. Which feels a bit sneaky to me. It doesn't feel like I'm involved as much and gives a distance which I'm not 100% comfortable. I'm not sure if that is obvious from the photos or whether I'm reading too much into it.


I think it deserves a bit more experimenting with though. I quite like the idea of being able to get other foreground elements in to frame a subject. So maybe I just need to rethink how I work with it.

Manual lens fun

I've used manual lenses on and off for a while. It's quite nice knowing that you have no choice but to focus in the 'proper' way rather than just relying on autofocus. Besides which,  when shooting on film I don't have much choice with an Olympus OM10!

Yesterday, I decided to go all manual with my digital whilst spending the day playing boules in the sunshine. I knew some shots I'd want to get would be from a bit of distance, so mounting a Zuiko 50mm f1.8 to my EM10ii would probably work quite well - basically making it a fast 100mm lens on the MFT body.

I found I was working with it surprisingly quickly by the end of the day - even wide open my focussing was pretty good. And rather than just trying to instantly catch a moment like I usually might with an auto focus lens, I was tending to watch out for something developing whilst I focussed, so it slowed me down a little but gave me a bit more time to compose the shot.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a 25mm lens for my MFT for a while (for a classic nifty fifty). But now thinking about maybe going for a nice old Zuiko 24mm or 28mm manual which can work on both my OM10 and EM10ii.

Oh, and as always: we were crap at boules.