The Christening of Gregory

A couple of months ago I was invited to photograph the christening of a little chap called Gregory.

It was the first christening I’d been to, so wasn’t too sure what to expect.  Most of the photos were taken with the 25mm f1.8 prime lens to get as much out of the light as possible as the environment was quite dark.

For me, photographing events like this are not just about documenting the day but also capturing people’s emotions.  Sometimes this is best done from a distance with a long zoom lens so you’re not interrupting the goings on.

New Years Day at Didcot Railway Centre

New Years Day 2015 was quite dull, weather wise, but was brightened up by a visit to the Didcot Railway Centre.  Although I only live a few minutes walk from the Centre this was only my second visit.

It was lovely to walk around and see the trains on display and even ride on a couple of steam trains going up and down the track.  From a photography point of view the Centre offers rich pickings, whether outside amongst the rails and trains, or inside the buildings and sheds getting up close to the engines and carriages.

I took Olympus OMD E-M1 and shot with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens and the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.  As the weather was so dull, most of the photographs came out dull too… and so for the first time I processed the photos into black and white.  It’s great that the black and white grainy photos reflect the dirt and grime associated with the engineering of the steam age. 

Longleat Festival of Light

When I heard about the Festival of Light event at Longleat I knew I had to go and get some photographs for the blog.  In terms of night time light events I’ve experienced it’s second only to the ‘fire garden’ event at Stonehenge as part of cultural celebrations of the London 2012 Olympics.

The Festival of Light is the first cultural event of its kind in Europe and consists of twenty hand-crafted displays built and placed by a team of over one hundred from the Sichuan province in China.

The scale of the works, dotted around Longleat House, is simply amazing.  There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people on the evening I went and as you’ll see below there was lots of space to get photographs.

Because of the dark conditions and high contrasting lights I took my trusty Olympus OMD E-M1 and 25mm f1.8 lens (a great combination for low light and sharp photographs) and one leg of my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian as a monopod.  Someone walked past and commented that it was the biggest selfie stick they’d ever seen… sometimes I despair!  Most of the photos were taken in aperture priority mode and using the monopod to reduce any camera shake.

I really hope Longleat do something similar next winter, I’d love to spend more time wandering around getting even more photos.

A Chilly Day at Cotswold Wildlife Park

The day after visiting Westonbirt Arboretum (see blog post and photos here) I popped along to Cotswold Wildlife Park.  The weather was much chillier than the previous day and it was interesting to see how the animals outside were coping with the weather.  Some seemed to try hibernation and just slept, and others seemed to be active to keep warm.

The red pandas were particularly active.  So much so that they’ll get their very own blog post as I had so many photos of them.  Keep an eye out for that post coming soon!

For animals who were behind glass my Lens Skirt came into its own.  It really helped to cut out the reflections from the glass and get clear shots.  In the monkey enclosure the monkeys seemed intrigued by the Lens Skirt and came right up to the glass to take a look.  Unfortunately they were too close for the lens I was using at the time.

For this visit I was using my backup camera body, an Olympus E-PL3, with my normal lenses.  I’m very pleased with the photos I got from this body, and it goes to show much of the quality comes from the lens you use rather than the body.  The two drawbacks for me were the lack of viewfinder (using just the camera screen was quite awkward at times) and the body was too small to get a good grip of.  

The reason I had to use a backup body was that my Olympus OMD E-M1 and shiny new 25mm f1.8 lens were off for repair – the body was suffering from intermittent shutter lockups since fitting the new lens.  This was really annoying as it happened on a weekend away and left me with very few photos.  Luckily the E-M1 came with a Service Plus warranty and when I called about the issues I was having, Olympus picked up the camera and lens, zoomed it to Portugal for repair, and a few days later it was back in working order.  Great service!

Gadget Show Live 2014

Each year the Gadget Show Live event takes place here in the UK to show off the current and future consumer technologies. 2014 marked my third visit to Gadget Show Live, and it was a great opportunity to take my camera along to get a few photos for the blog.

Gadget Show Live is a spin-off of The Gadget Show TV programme. Although I’m not a regular viewer these days, I have previously appeared in a couple of programmes when I was ever so slightly addicted to the show a few years ago. I first went along to take part in a Focus Group feature on remote control gadgets. It was great to play with the gadgets, including a remote control car with virtual reality headset, and I had a good chat with Jon Bentley about cars (Jon was previously a producer on Top Gear). I went back for another programme to look at outdoor party gadgets, and somehow got roped into a karaoke rendition of Summer Nights with Dallas Campbell (now of BBC science nerdery fame) and Suzi Perry (now of BBC F1 fame).

This year’s Gadget Show Live was on a smaller scale to last year, about half the size by my reckoning, but there was still enough gadgetry to keep me interested for a whole day. Walking around so much definitely made me appreciate just how lightweight my Olympus OMD E-M1 camera and lenses are compared to my old Canon camera set up!

I went along with my good friend and fellow photography geek Ryan. I’d been tweeting about my visit and as a result got invited to get photos of a couple of stands. Sarah Holburn, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, was doing regular live performances on the iT7 Audio stand. I caught one of Sarah’s performances which was simply amazing to hear, see, and photograph. The Vibe Collection stand was probably the best lit and brightest stand there, it was a great opportunity to get some close-up photos of their brightly coloured watches.

Each year seems to have its own themes – something that almost all the stands seem to be demonstrating or selling. This year’s themes were speakers, headphones, and quadrocopters. Speakers and headphones weren’t of much interest, but I was very impressed with some of the quadrocopters on the DJI stand. Their ability to zoom around so gracefully and hover still enough to get amazing photos and video from dizzying heights; definitely an addition to my future gadget list!

Something else for my list is a Go Pro camera. I’ve long been a fan of these robust little camera’s that you can attach to pretty much anything for photos, video, or time lapse. I was interested to see some similar products around the show, but nothing could beat the quality / price point of the Go Pro in my opinion. I was hoping for a show discount on the Hero 3+ Black edition, but no discounts were available and so my credit card remained intact… for the time being!

I also took a visit to the Olympus stand to play with the new baby OMD, the E-M10, and some of the lenses not in my collection. I was particularly taken with the 25mm f1.8 and 12-40mm f2.8 lenses, yet more things for my bank manager to be worried about. Whilst there I got chatting to Robert Pugh, a professional photographer and thoroughly nice chap who was on the stand and also runs some Olympus workshops. He gave me some great tips on how to get the best out of my Samyang Fisheye lens, and suggested I visit his YouTube channel for a few more tips – if you’re an Olympus user I’d definitely recommend a look. I plan to go on one of his workshops some time and will of course blog about it.

But for now, here are my top photos from Gadget Show Live 2014…