About 18 months ago or so I bought myself a small drone, the DJI Mini 2. I thought it would be cool to get a new perspective on the world and be able to take some rather different photographs.
I’ve not used it much since I bought it so I decided to break it out and try to get more familiar with it this weekend.
I headed out to the Leicestershire village of Hallaton where I know there are the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle.
I had actually flown the drone here before in the early days of my ownership but I was really focussed on getting to grips with the basics of flying the thing and although I took some photos and video I wasn’t really concentrating on that at the time.
I need to practice way more. I want to learn to fly the thing smoothly so that I can capture better looking video. Taking stills is easy by comparison. Just fly the thing up there, point it towards your chosen subject and pick your moment. Video is a whole different ball game. Flying the drone around your subject without jerky movements whilst keeping your subject nicely framed – yeah, I need a lot more practice at that. DJI do help by adding a few programmed manoeuvres such as circling a subject or spiraling out from it but I want to learn to have that level of control manually.
The three photos above were taken on Saturday 22nd April 2023 at heights of between around 60 and 100 meters above local ground level. I shoot in both raw and jpg and then process the raw files in Lightroom (and whatever other bits of processing software I might feel like using at the time) as normal.
The video… Yeah, the video… Well, I managed to produce something but I do have a fairly steep learning curve here. Yes, I need to learn to fly the drone with more finesse but I also have never really done much video work of any kind. And it shows. But hey, I’m learning.
Back in October I spent a couple of nights in the city of York armed only with my Fuji X100T. I really enjoyed the lack of lots of kit. Having only one camera with a fixed prime lens meant far less time faffing over which lens to use and more time spent enjoying my holiday and my photography.
I particularly wanted to walk the tour of the alleyways of York and I’ve documented the walk using Adobe Spark.
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.