Cold hands and warm colours

Six-fifteen am is not an unfamiliar time for me, although I’m usually sat on the settee with a cup of tea and the iPad and not tiptoeing down a hotel corridor with tripod in one hand and camera bag in the other.  But that is exactly where I was this morning.

(c) Dave Whenham
The evening view from the hotel room

We are staying in Swansea for a few days and our hotel is on the waterfront. I had already taken a couple of pleasing images the night before but retail therapy was planned for the new day and therefore serious photography would be confined to before breakfast and/or after dinner. It was chilly to say the  least at that time of the morning but as I stepped out into the morning darkness I noticed the sky to my left just starting to infuse with some lovely warm colours. Was my early start to be rewarded? It certainly looked as if it might.

We are away for a couple of weeks, visiting family mainly, and as part of my ongoing exploration of the Fuji system I have travelled very light. The Fuji X-T10 is joined on this trip by the newly acquired Fuji X-Pro1, the 35mm f1.4 and the manual Samyang 12mm lens. I have packed the two “kit lenses” along with the 8mm Samyang fisheye but these stayed in the hotel room this morning.

(c) Dave Whenham
I wasn’t tempted to take a dip!

This is the first time I’ve used the MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod when the sun hasn’t been shining and I have to say that whilst it’s an excellent piece of kit my ungloved fingers struggled slightly with the twist locks in the morning cold. Not a major issue but I will need to ensure I have gloves with me I think when I use it tomorrow morning. The tripod is smaller than my usual Manfrotto but considerably lighter. Fully extended it provides a very comfortable working height and in particular it was high enough to enable the camera to clear the railing around the tidal lagoon.

(c) Dave Whenha
Sunrise and silhouettes

The images here are all JPEGs with final tweaks done on an iPad using the Snapseed app. Both cameras handled well and I’m looking forward to getting the RAW files home in a couple of weeks.

(c) Dave Whenham
A promising start

The colours of the sunrise were largely confined to a strip along the horizon but were very intense, enhanced by the Velvia setting on the X-T10 which I had forgotten to reset to Classic Chrome when I put the camera away the previous day. The onboard RAW processing of the X-T10 however means that I can produce alternative JPEGs on the fly which is a very useful feature.

(c) Dave Whenham
I can never resist a monochrome

Post-sunrise however the light show was curtailed, the blank, featureless sky lacked the drama pre-sunrise and I therefore explored the area further. Walking back to the hotel I remembered the Little Stopper in its tin nestled in the bottom of the bag. I can never resist black and white for long and after thirty minutes of working with the  pre-sunrise colour I slipped easily into mono-mode. The light turned out to be very nice for black and white work and I returned to the hotel with very cold hands but a huge smile on my face.

(c) Dave Whenham
Swansea Marina

So, I am very happy with the image quality from this mornings exercise. The JPEGs looked fabulous and I have the pleasure of playing with the RAW files to come.  I mainly used the X-T10 and on the whole it handled very well. Focusing with a manual lens in low light was a challenge but the focus  definitely helped. I set the JPEG mode to B&W(yellow) which seems to provide better clarity and of course by shooting RAW+JPEG means I still have the colour information, which was vital for such a fiery sunrise.

All in all a positive experience, the first time I’ve shot with the Fuji’s in the dark and cold of an Autumn morning. I’m not quite ready to give up the big Nikons but I used my full-sized graduated filters with the Little Stopper very happily and as with the big DSLRs practice and familiarity will make things easier.

Morning Hair!

© Dave Whenham
Morning Ted!

Sometimes I think we take photography, and by extension ourselves, far too seriously.  This was unplanned yet really captures  the moment to my mind. Captured with the Fuji X-T10 and the Fujinon 35mm f1.4.  Or to put it another way, the first camera I laid my hands on at the time.

But unplanned doesn’t mean unthoughtful. It was a spur of the moment opportunity but its successful execution relied upon experience and understanding to not only grab the moment but to do so in a way that shows the subject to good advantage. This is perhaps the difference between a casual snap and a more polished image?  A rhetorical question but feel free to leave a comment below!

The technical details: f1.4 | 1/12th second | ISO 200 | available light | no tripod.

Seeing the opportunity I quickly set an off-centre focus point (I use a single point most of the time), flicked the aperture ring to f1.4 and moved the camera into position. I rested the camera on a handy stack of papers (what a good job I don’t tidy my workspace very often) and viewed the LCD screen obliquely – I was surprised at how much visibility I had when you consider I was at around 80° to the screen.  I could just see the focus point and was able to line it up with the nearest eye and take three frames before Ted moved. All of which took far less time than its taken me to type this or indeed you to read this.

I was sat at my desk so a few moments later I’d converted the file to mono and posted it to my Facebook account.

The lens incidentally is a new acquisition, purchased used from MPB and typically for them it’s in great condition. Based on this first experience with the lens I’m going to enjoy playing with it a lot. Who knows I may even post a review at some point.