This morning the sun was shining and as I ate my breakfast it looked like a great day to get out and take some photos. However I was suffering from my usual problem – not knowing where to go.
I had just about made up my mind to head into town and wander around aimlessly for a while when I got an SMS from my sister and during the exchange of messages she suggested I head out to Old John, a very well known Leicestershire landmark situated in Bradgate Park.
By the time I actually got in the car the clouds had blanketed just about all of the sky. But this was fine, I had my tripod and my 10 stop ND filter with me (Cokin Nuances) so I decided during the drive that I would try taking some long exposures.
As I set up my tripod for the first time I was soon regretting not having thought to bring gloves with me. It wasn’t long before I was fumbling with the controls of the camera and shoving my hands in my pockets did little to remedy this.
I stayed around the vicinity of the Old John tower for a couple of hours getting steadily more refrigerated before deciding that I’d done enough and that what I really needed was a huge mug of tea.
As I sat processing my photos in Lightroom and sipping my tea at home, I discovered that the sensors of both my X-Pro2 and my XT-1 really could do with a very thorough clean. Dust spots show up way more at smaller apertures and I tend to use smaller apertures when I’m shooting long exposures.
It’s maybe the one downside of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras that I can think of – more sensor dust. There’s no mirror so there’s nothing to stop dust falling right onto your sensor. I had given both bodies a good dust out using a rocket blower before heading out. Maybe it’s time I dug out the swabs I bought but have never used?
This is the reason I have used my X100T for most of my Fujifilm based long exposure work in the past. The X100 range are mirrorless but the lens is fixed so there’s no lens swapping opportunity for dust to get inside. But sometimes you just want to shoot some long exposures at different focal lengths so it’s time to suck up the dust.
A sunny Sunday afternoon prompted me to get out and about with a camera. As I’d not long had the X-Pro2 I was very keen to give it a try in normal daylight conditions. The only serious time I’d spent shooting with it so far was at the gig at The Donkey the previous Thursday evening.
Stamford is a large market town in Lincolnshire, about an hour’s drive from home for me. I’ve visited quite a few times before but it had been a while and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d looked around in such lovely weather. A bit of sun on the honey coloured stone commonly used for building around here really helps to give it a warm glow. Stamford is an ancient town, tracing its routes back to at least as far as Roman times. There are lots of interesting old buildings to enjoy with many intriguing narrow lanes twisting between them. The town has retained much of it’s older heritage which has been so sadly depleted in my native Leicester.
I packed my X-Pro2, all three of my Fujinon lenses and also my Helios 44M along with my X100T – plus the usual array of spare batteries, memory cards, mini Manfrotto tripod etc. With Fuji kit I’m always amazed at just how much I can carry for so little encumbrance.
I didn’t set out to do anything adventurous such as time lapses or long exposures. The afternoon was just for me to start to get used to the camera. Yes, I’d had years of experience with the X-Pro1 but the second incarnation of the X-Pro body has made quite a lot of changes. The two things which seem to keep catching me out more than anything else are hitting the D-pad buttons instead of reaching for the new focus point joystick (this I can put down to the way I shoot with my X100T) and rather curiously finding myself lifting the shutter speed dial and thus changing ISO when I intended to just change the shutter speed.
However I was soon lost in my own little world, enjoying what the town had to offer and getting into the flow of the new camera.
One feature I really like on the X100T is the ability to move your spot metering along with your selected focus point. Years back, not long after I bought my original X100 Fuji sent out a survey asking users for features they would like to see in future versions of the camera or firmware. I’d voted for this feature and I’ve made a lot of use of it with my X100T. It’s great to have the facility available on the X-Pro body too now. I enjoy contrasty lighting, objects or people picked out in a shaft of strong light when all around is darkness. Using this feature I find it very quick and easy to achieve the exposure I want by just plonking my autofocus point over a bright subject. This is how I shot the memorial statue shown below, located in St. Martin’s Church. I felt that there was a decidedly Roman look about this tableaux of (presumably) husband and wife.
The church yard at St. Martin’s, Stamford is also the location of the grave of Leicester legend Daniel Lambert. I did go and locate the grave but I didn’t take a photo as the lighting wasn’t right. For anyone interested to find the burial place – turn left as you walk out of the south door of the church, turn left and follow the path along the length of the building. When you reach the gate look to your right and you’ll see an extension to the church yard. Daniel Lambert’s grave is in there. Just walk through the gate and on a few yards and I don’t think you’ll be able to miss it. Although this is primarily a photography blog, I am very keen on history so at some point Daniel Lambert might well pop up in another post. Meanwhile here’s a bit of information about him from Wikipedia.
I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon in Stamford. I’m sure I’ll be back again a little later in the year. Hopefully I’ll be able to spend a bit more time wandering aimlessly around the streets. It would have been nice to have the company of another photographer. I always feel it’s better to either go alone or with a one or two other photographers. Taking non-photographers along is usually a recipe for disaster unless they are very patient people.