A Photo Walk Around Bristol

Yesterday I went on a photo walk around Bristol organised by Olympus and London Camera Exchange.  The walk was led by professional photographer and Olympus ambassador Robert Pugh.

I’d met Robert at Gadget Show Live earlier this year, and apart from being a thoroughly nice chap he knows all there is to know about the camera I have as he uses the same camera day-on-day-out as a wedding and portrait photographer.  I learnt a few neat tricks from Robert along the way about quick access to menus, using small focus points, and he even showed how he accessed all the key menus using just two fingers whilst also using the viewfinder.  It might take me a while to figure that out!

The group doing the walk started out from London Camera Exchange and walked to the market on Corn Street to start our photography, then through the city centre water features to the Watershed area, and onto @Bristol and the ice rink.  We were out for two hours, and although it was a tad chilly and grey, everyone in the group really enjoyed themselves and learnt some new ideas.

Robert mentioned that the Olympus stand at Gadget Show Live in 2015 will be bigger than this year and he’ll be running some live sessions showing how photographers work from setting up lighting, photographing a model, through to printing the finished product.

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!

Westonbirt Arboretum in the Autumn

Now that autumn has arrived in the UK, it’s a great time to spend some time outdoors seeing how nature responds to the change of season.  An arboretum is a great place to see nature and, of course, take photos too!

So I recently went to Westonbirt Arboretum with fellow photo blogger Sheila Morris (you can see some of Sheila’s photo’s on her blog) to spend a few hours getting photos of the amazing colours and wildlife.  Westonbirt is a very large place, and even with all the crowds we saw at the cafe, once out in the woods there was plenty of peace and quiet to focus on getting the best photos.

For most photos I used the Olympus 60mm macro lens, which allowed me to get in really close for detail in some of the photos below.  It’s probably the first time I’ve used the 1:1 mode on this lens, which meant that I physically had to move towards the subject to get it in focus.  But when you get it right, the results are outstanding.

Circus photography with Damian McGillicuddy and Olympus

Last week I went to Giffords Circus for an event organised by Olympus.  Since moving from Canon to Olympus I’ve been impressed with how they market their products, and this is a great example… 

Olympus arranged for one hundred photographers to go to the circus where we could try out pretty much any camera body of lens from their OMD range with a few circus acts making for great photographic subjects.  The event was brand agnostic, there were many folk with Canon, Nikon, and other camera’s.  And this wasn’t even a sales pitch!

Damian McGillicuddy, Olympus UK’s principle photographer, was there to talk, give some hints, and show how us how he’d do a model photo shoot.  I’ve never specialised in any area of photography and was simply in awe of Damian’s knowledge, gained through years of experience in producing award winning images.  Damian was also a great presenter and thoroughly nice chap.

After the event we were all treated to tea and cake, and even got a goody bag to take home.

I hope to get to go to similar events in the future, a great way to learn some new tricks, meet some nice people, and practice photography in a fun environment.

Berkshire Show 2014

This weekend is the annual Berkshire Show, at the Newbury Showground, not too far from where I live.  The Show is mainly agricultural, but there’s a wide range of other things to see and do… so much so that I spent seven-and-a-half hours walking around!

As you’ll see from the photos, the weather was pretty dull which doesn’t make for bright photos.  But I did try a technique that Damian McGillicuddy had suggested on the previous day at an Olympus event I’d attended (blog post on that coming soon!).  Damien suggested that, for some shots, using a slow shutter speed would catch a bit of movement to help tell the story of the photo.  I tried this in a few photos below.