Author: Wilkinson Cameras

Running your own design company, while making time for your own photography can certainly be a challenge. One that photographer Faye Dunmall handles so very well.

Achieving a Commended award in the Your View category of the prestigious Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards with her awe inspiring drone image Gaia, we wanted to catch up with Faye to find out more about her photographic journey so far and what might come next.

‘I have run my own design company for 10 years. After graduating nearly 20 years ago I settled into agency life however, during the last big recession redundancy hit and it was then that I decided pursue my ambition to become freelance. Part of the design process is choosing imagery from stock sites for brochures and magazines or to conceptualise, so I suppose I have been exposed to a lot of photography over the years – just without really realising it.

‘My interest in landscape photography began on a trip to Jordan back in 2016. I was obsessed with seeing Petra and when a trip with friends fell through last minute I decided to go on my own. Except I didn’t want to go alone!

‘I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled across the Canadian company I booked with (Discovery Photo Tours) but when I saw their pictures and itinerary I was instantly hooked. I had wanted to learn how to take better holiday photos so combining a guided tour of the country with a photography class seemed like the perfect solution. I bought myself a little compact camera (Sony RX100) and taught myself a few basics, including how to use manual mode, before I set off.

‘I will never forget arriving and being surrounded by professional photographers with a multitude of camera bodies and G.I. Joe style tool belts for lenses and accessories. To this day we all still joke about how I turned up with just my “mini” camera!’

‘The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. It was life changing. Jordan was magnificent, I made lifelong friends and discovered a passion for photography that doesn’t show any signs of letting up.’

‘I am entirely self-taught via YouTube and online tutorials although I have been lucky to have had the support and mentorship from the incredibly talented Ken Kaminesky and Patrick DiFruscia who led that life-changing trip to Jordan.’

Your landscapes have a definite richness to them – what draws you to a certain landscape? Many images involve water – is this a particular interest?

‘That’s an interesting question! These days I am drawn to more unusual landscapes, like the volcanic plains of La Palma, and to more intimate and abstract scenes. I love working with colour and I think subconsciously I seek out vibrant scenes.

‘I gain a lot of satisfaction from photographing water and some of my fondest memories are from being thigh deep in a stream in front of a waterfall or up high on a cliff with the waves crashing down below. But I prefer to be well away from the sea and the salt water! I love how different shutter speeds capture water and can take the look and feel from slow, silky veils to fast, frozen chaos.’

Have you managed to carry on shooting this year with the dreaded Covid? So many people have sought solace in the outdoors. Obviously with travel so limited this year, what have you been working on? Any lockdown projects?

‘I have always travelled a lot. I grew up living in Africa, Holland, Indonesia and Singapore and I have been fortunate to have travelled to many more places besides. I usually head abroad every couple of months and so Covid has been quite difficult for me in that respect. I was planning to take a sabbatical this year to travel around America and Australia for 6 months but I have had to put those plans on hold for now.

‘However, I have used the time at home to expand my processing skills and explore other genres of photography. I bought a 90mm macro lens at the beginning of the first lockdown and dipped my toes into the world of macro – a steep learning curve but a lot of fun.

‘I have also been learning to shoot wildlife. Whilst I don’t think I have the patience or tenacity to be a true wildlife photographer, I have enjoyed days out in hides and stalking the baby swans at our local nature reserve. My most recent purchase is a light pad to use for flat-lay photography which will hopefully give me a creative project for the darker, winter months!’

It’s quite unusual to find an accomplished female drone pilot. How did you get to this from photography? Was there a specific task/shoot which led you to this, or was it simply to achieve an alternative perspective?

‘That’s very kind, thank you. I was interested in drone photography right from the beginning but at that time the cameras on them weren’t great and so I held off buying one until the DJI Mavic 2 Pro was released. I love the different perspective they afford me and finding pictures within pictures from up in the air. One of my favourite past times is scouring google earth for sections of land that have interesting colours, patterns and shapes.

‘The big dream for the drone work is to drive across Africa, from Namibia through Botswana and Zambia up into Tanzania. It’s a pipe dream but one I hope to achieve one day. For now I am exploring locally and working on my flying skills as well as diving into the realm of videography.’

Tell us about your image Gaia which was commended in the ‘Your View’ category of LPOTY. Where was this taken and what drove you to enter the awards?

‘Gaia was taken along the Northumberland coastline. I was up in the area last summer visiting the Farne Islands to see the puffins. I had spotted a particular area on google earth that appeared to have detailed sand patterns and so on one of the less favourable weather days I took a trip out to see what it looked like in reality. Thankfully it was even better than expected. With the tide out, what remained were intricate sand rivets and veins of algae which, from the air, formed the shape of a tree. I took several other images here and am hoping to return to expand on this series once we are free to travel again.

‘It was my first time entering LPOTY. A friend sent me a link a few days before the deadline and said I should give it a go. I felt that my sand series was quite unique and might stand out from the crowd a little, so this is what I entered.’

There’s lots of exciting ‘coming soon’ on your website, including launching a range of fine art prints. Do you plan to move into photography as a job/career or continue to simply enjoy it as a hobby?

‘I think often when a hobby becomes a career it’s easy to lose passion and motivation. For me, photography is my downtime and relaxation and for that reason I plan to keep it as a hobby. It might naturally evolve into something more and if that happens then I will see where it takes me. I’m open to the idea of leading tours and workshops and I will be opening a print shop on my website very soon.

‘My initial exposure into the world of landscape photography was with Canadian photographers and so I suppose I have been heavily influenced by the recent American style of photography and post processing. Marc Adamus, Alex Noriega, Albert Dros, Erin Babnik and Michael Shainblum are some of my inspiration.’

We couldn’t help but notice you’ve achieved a huge following on Instagram with over 17k followers from just over 100 posts. What’s your secret?

‘No secret really. It’s all been organic, I refuse to pay Facebook any money! I only post my best images – I’m not into posting every day like some people are. I also try to make my captions a reflection of my personality rather than just descriptions of where I was etc.

‘I think the main thing is I’ve been very social on Instagram over the past few years. I talk to a lot of people and make connections; I interact beyond just liking a post or dropping a comment. I always read the captions on other people’s posts (so important) and I spend a lot of time getting to know people via DMs. I try to remember things about people (birthdays, good/bad things they are going through in life) and check in on those that are struggling.

‘I support other artists as much as possible by sharing their posts and buying the odd thing here and there. I answer any questions about settings/photography honestly and in detail. I guess I try to treat everyone I come into contact with as a friend.

‘I now have an extensive network of people I can call on for advice or even just to show me around their part of the world if I’m travelling abroad. It all comes down to using the platform as “social” media and not just an online portfolio.

‘Unfortunately it’s much more difficult to grow on there these days and I think the platform is in decline. So anyone hunting for likes or followers will have to work really hard. I find it far more enjoyable and rewarding long-term to forget about the numbers and focus on the human aspect instead.’

‘What’s important to me in photography is creating from the heart and staying true to yourself – which can be difficult in the modern day world of social media trends.’

‘In a world where we spend more and more time distracted, staring at our screens, getting away from technology and outside into the natural world has never been more important. Photography, for me, is a pastime that encourages this.

‘I also think it can be extremely helpful for those with mental health difficulties. I suffer with complex PTSD which affects my sleep and general day to day living. Photography helps to alleviate some of the anxiety I feel on a daily basis and being out with my camera is often the only time I ever feel at peace.

‘There is something compelling about being completely caught up in the moment – time disappears, you forget yourself, and you become a part of something much larger, something deeply rooted and connected. I think that if you go beyond just using photography as a way to gain popularity, make money or win competitions, it can be incredibly healing.’

To find out more about Faye’s work, check out her website or have a browse through her Instagram.

 

 

2020 has been a challenging year to say the very least – and one that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. As once again many of us face (or are already in) a further period of ‘lockdown’, we wanted to share a glimmer of positivity and hope.

During this difficult time, one in which many people are facing numerous challenges, our gardens and open spaces have been one area where many of us have sought solace, joy and quiet.

As well as the benefits of being outdoors, gardens can be beautiful and inspiring in every season – helping guide us through the winter, with sparkling frosts and colourful foliage, until the first shoots of spring emerge.

With this in mind, we wanted to share a virtual celebration of colour and positivity, from one of our very own Wilki Ambassadors, Clive Nichols.

The spring and summer of 2020 saw some of the best British weather, pollution free skies and misty mornings ever – and in turn, the UK saw a massive surge in the popularity of gardening, growing our own edibles and generally appreciating the outside space we can access.

Clive (considered Britain’s best garden photographer by PhotoPlus Magazine) talked us through how 2020 has, creatively, been one of his best years and the positive impact his stunning imagery has had for so many people.

‘I’ve been shooting mostly big country gardens on dreamy mornings, or when the evening light drips into them. It’s definitely been a mental release for me and people seem to love the pictures we put on Instagram – it’s pure escapism,’ said Clive.

‘I know I am in a very privileged position because gardens are one of the few photographic genres where you can work totally alone. So during lockdown I was able to continue working and photograph some really gorgeous gardens, which were completely empty of people, save for the odd gardener or owner.

‘You were allowed to go to work if you couldn’t work from home and as I don’t have much of a garden at home, I was able to go out to shoot private locations.

‘The weather was also amazing – day after day of gorgeous sunshine and with few planes and cars around the light was just incredible. I noticed when processing my pictures that I didn’t have to add any colour saturation to my RAW files even in the Raw Converter which was almost never the case in the past with garden scenes. It reminded me of the light you get in Greece or Provence where there is little or no pollution, so I shot some of my best images ever!’

‘People are realising that gardens are a sanctuary where they can get away from all the mainstream media nonsense and get some sanity back in their lives. It’s also a perfectly safe environment because you can potter about on your own and socially distance easily.’

‘Of course some locations remained closed and all of the gardens that I shot during lockdown were country gardens – but these are the gardens I like shooting most anyway.’

In your world it’s almost like Covid hasn’t happened – we’re just transported to a beautiful, peaceful place: perfect escapism. Do you think people have found solace in your images?

‘Instagram is my primary social media platform and I wanted to give people a really positive message during lockdown, so I posted pictures every day that I hoped would show people that they could still have some beauty in their lives – and that it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Since the pandemic started, my Instagram following has almost doubled, now with over 90,000 followers.

‘I must say the response from my followers has been fantastic, with many of them saying that they looked forward everyday to seeing my feed because it cheered them up after all the gloom in the news.

‘I am a half full kind of person and so I tend not to dwell on negativity – if you want to run a successful business then you have to stay positive, especially when economic conditions are difficult.

‘We saw a huge surge in followers – and interest in garden photography generally – with people looking to learn which gardens are good to visit and looking to gain a deeper knowledge of garden photography, gardens, flowers and veg!’

What were your favourite locations from this time and do you have a favourite image that really stands out for you?

‘There is a beautiful garden in my village called Pettifers and the owner, Gina Price, always plants thousands of tulips, which were at their peak during lockdown. I made several visits in April and May and they were some of the best photos of tulips I have ever taken.

‘I also visited a wonderful garden near Redditch called Morton Hall which I have been photographing for the past five years and I took some amazing shots during those beautiful spring days.

‘My favourite image was a shot of blue camassias beneath blossom at Pettifers.

‘I also heard the other day that gardening is now the UK’s most popular hobby – not surprising as people have found such sanctuary in their gardens this year.’

2021 Gardens Calendar

‘We are about to bring out a 2021 Clive Nichols’ Gardens Calendar that will feature some of the gardens featured on my Insta feed – it will be out very soon, more details to follow! Keep an eye on my Instagram (link below) or Wilkinson Cameras’ own social media platforms.’

‘Unfortunately, one of the projects that has been delayed is the launch of my new book which features some of the finest gardens of England – this has now been pushed back until Spring 2021.

‘The current plan is to launch it on Instagram first around next spring – with physical launch events and books signings at some of the garden venues after that – Covid permitting!’

And finally, we’d really like to thank Clive for sharing not only his beautiful photography, but also his positivity in these difficult times and his daily dose of visual joy!

Check out Clive’s inspirational Instagram account.

Have you been wondering how to improve your video calling or online presentations? If you’re reading this, this chances are that you’re a photographer and you’re used to exceptional image quality. The low quality webcam built into your laptop just isn’t cutting it and the awkward, unflattering angles from your phone camera are only serving to highlight your lockdown weight gain. (Don’t worry… we’re in the same boat!)

Did you know that the chances are you can use your DSLR, Mirrorless or potentially even a premium compact to stream or as a webcam? Instantly improve your work team meetings or present yourself the best way you can to your clients remotely.

First off, let’s cover the different ways you might want to use your camera as an alternative to a webcam or phone camera and then we’ll show you how each of the different camera brands work to allow you to use your DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera as a webcam.

Streaming

What exactly is streaming? Essentially it’s just live video online.

We’ve seen a huge uplift in live events on Facebook and Instagram as companies and individuals seek a way to get to their audience when the high street is quieter, or maybe they are currently under restrictions meaning their customers can’t come to them.

For many photographers, especially those who previously ran workshops in person, being able to stream in good quality online has meant they have been able to adapt their business and keep it viable going forward. Wilkinson Cameras have hosted various live webinars and workshops alongside brands like Canon, Nikon, etc.  If you want your presentation to look slick, clean and as professional as you are, then using a proper camera as your streaming device is almost essential.

There’s also another huge market for streaming and that is gaming. Twitch is the biggest platform in the world for video game streamers and presenting gorgeous visuals is a sure fire way to make you stand out from the crowd.

Client Introductions

One that is definitely overlooked is client introductions.

A lot of photographers now are forced to do their initial meetings via Skype, Zoom etc. and there’s no better way to start this relationship than making your client say “Wow, what webcam are you using!?”

You’re selling yourself as a photographer, don’t let the initial impression disappoint.

Video Conferencing

Not everything has to be for the public though: a good quality camera for video conferencing can be just as important, especially if you’re trying to make a good impression on managers, directors, etc., who could be watching.

A lot of job interviews are now also taking place via video call. Imagine the first impression you’ll make looking sharp, with a flattering angle and beautiful bokeh behind you.

Brands

The bit you’ve been waiting for… What brands can I use for this? What models of camera can I use? I have more than one camera, which is better? What do I need to make it happen?

As always in our blog posts, this information is correct at the time of writing but might not completely reflect what’s available at the time of reading.

Canon

Canon have released their Canon EOS Webcam Utility Software, which allows you to turn a huge amount of Canon cameras into webcams.

The list of models that you can use this with is incredibly extensive, including (but not limited to) the EOS R5 and EOS R, EOS 6D Mark I and Mark II, EOS 5DS R and the EOS 1D X Mark III. More compatibility information is available on their website here.

If that wasn’t enough compatibility, check out the list of currently supported software:

  • Messenger
  • Discord
  • Teams
  • YouTube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • OBS
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Hangouts
  • Slack
  • Streamlabs

With OBS and Streamlabs being featured that means your streaming world is literally at your fingertips, as these software allow for streaming to most major providers.

What do you need to make this work?

For some of the cameras, just a Wi-Fi connection! But when that’s not supported or available, you can use a USB cable connected directly to the camera, providing you with a clean output.

Canon have even provided us with a brilliant how-to video, making all of this a doddle.

Olympus

Olympus is a little different: their software, Olympus OM-D, is still only in Beta.

But ‘only’ isn’t doing it enough justice as the software is currently in a very comfortable state, and even has compatibility to stream using the fantastic Olympus LS-P4 audio recorder.

The OM-D Webcam Beta allows you to use the follow cameras as a webcam:

The PC version appears to be more compatible with the range of software as mentioned above, but it is worth mentioning that the MacOS version only allows use with OBS and Google Chrome, meaning video conferencing isn’t available just yet, but keep an eye out on their page to find out if this changes.

Lewis Speight, who you may know from some of our in-store events, has even produced a video on how to get started with a few common apps such as OBS, Zoom and Teams.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB-C cable that is included in your box and a PC/Mac that is capable of running the above mentioned software.

Panasonic Lumix

Again, another Beta but one that appears to be a very stable release as well!

The LUMIX tether application allows you to run some of the best cameras LUMIX have to offer, including the S1H, allowing for the but beautiful streaming possible! If you haven’t seen our review of the S1H you definitely need to give it a watch and find out about this amazing piece of kit.

Cameras that are covered are:

The spec requirements for your computer are also really low, allowing for pretty much any level of PC/Mac user the ability to run the LUMIX tether application.

Lumix have also included a “How to live-stream with LUMIX” video, which again is very handy especially if you’re a first time user of live stream software.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB cable that is included in your box, and any manner of PC/Mac.

Nikon

The Nikon method requires pre-existing kit, or a separate purchase in the form of a Capture Card.

What is a capture card? Simply put, a capture card records what is being shown on one screen and uses that as input device to be displayed onto another.

This requires the camera plugged into the capture card to display what is known as a “clean out”.

A clean out is a video feed with nothing other than what is going into the lens being displayed, no shutter speed or ISO settings, no focus tracking markets. Just a clean video feed.

Thankfully, all Nikon cameras allow this and Nikon have provided us with not only a guide on how to set up their cameras with a capture card, but also a mini guide on lens choice and lighting.

While this does require a separate purchase, one would argue that this is truly the most versatile way to stream, record and video conference as capture cards work with ANY software of your choosing.

What do you need to make this work?

A HDMI cable that fits your camera, a USB cable for the camera and an external capture card, such as an Elgato.

Fujifilm

Fujifilm have actually just released their FUJIFILM X Webcam ver2.0!

Their newest software even lets you make on the fly adjustments to film simulations, white balance and exposure compensation without even touching the camera, something that truly stands out in terms of software power.

The first and largest problem we have is that officially, OBS is not on their list of supported software, only:

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Skype
  • Microsoft Teams

Which of course, is perfect if you’re conferencing, but not if you’re streaming.

What cameras are compatible?

A nice list of cameras there, then! They even support digital zoom, allowing for precise framing of your conferencing.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB cable that is included in your box and a PC/Mac that is capable of running the above mentioned software.

We haven’t been able to test it, but theoretically this could be used for streaming, so do check on OBS itself if it’s supported as a webcam.

Sony

Sony have just last month (at time of writing) released their software for webcam conversion and that is Imaging Edge Webcam.

This is currently restricted to PC only, at the time of writing.

The list of cameras covered is HUGE, ranging from the ZV-1 Vlogging Camera (which really is ideal for this kind of application) to the Alpha A7s III.

There’s nothing much to say about the Imaging Edge Webcam software, as their website details are vague, but Sony are known for creating smooth pieces of software, so we can’t imagine any problems happening here.

Though, the Imaging Edge Webcam software is perfectly suited to any video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Teams & Skype!

Lighting & Tripods

In terms of tripods, there’s two ways we can go with this.

If you have the room, great! A full length tripod allows for complete freedom with how you place, tilt and angle your camera.

However, if you’re more restricted, we have a range of tabletop tripods available including the Manfrotto PIXI EVO and the Joby GorillaPod Rig.

These will fit on your desk and provide the perfect compact solution to keeping the camera steady during video conferencing and streaming.

For lighting? We have a few options.

The Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 LED Light is the largest and brightest LED in the Lumimuse range but is still ultra-portable.

The Lumimuse is great for lighting in myriad situations with excellent maximum light output and 4 step dimming to regulate light intensity. The USB rechargeable Li-on batteries provide superb battery life allowing you to make the most of the photo/video shoot. The Lumimuse 8 comes with a ball-head, which includes both hot-shoe attachment and a standard thread to enable you to attach it directly to a tripod or alternative supports.

These are great, as they’re cheap enough to create a full 3 point lighting set up, whilst also adding some incredibly useful kit to your bag.

Also included in each kit a set of snap-fit filter mount and filters which modify the colour temperature and diffusion of the light; you can simultaneously use up to 3 to achieve various effects.

We also have the LituFoto F18 Bi-Colour LED Light which is as small as a mobile phone, yet is a durable, bright and convenient LED light perfect for a range of situations.

Featuring a built-in 4040mAh large capacity lithium battery, the full light output is approximately 1.9 hours, and at 5% output you will get around 8 hours use.

It is ideal for indoor and outdoor environments and since it is only about the size of a mobile phone, the LituFoto F18 Bi-Colour LED Light is the perfect lightweight, portable LED light for a range of situations. There is an OLED screen which displays power, brightness and colour temperature clearly.

Audio

Often ignored, but equally as important as great quality video, is great quality sound. Your camera’s internal microphone is ok as a general mic, but consider a dedicated microphone suited to your needs.

Audio can make or break just about any content that someone is watching, whether it is a video conference, a webinar, digital lesson or live stream.

There are usually 3 main types of audio capture for these set ups:

  • Shotgun Mic
  • Desktop Mic
  • Lavalier (aka “lav”) /Lapel Mic

 

A shotgun mic is great as it mounts directly to your tripod or camera, making it incredibly easy to use.

They also have a nicely defined area of sound pick up, which means you’re easily separated from any background noise.

The limiting factor there is if you plan to move around, as you need to be in the pick up area for your voice to be captured.

A desktop mic provides an all round experience, with the area of pick up usually being wherever you are in or around the desk.

And a lavalier mic, also known as a lapel mic, allows for the closest possible audio recording, with the ability to move around.

For our shotgun mics, we have a range of amazing options. One that particularly stands out is the Rotolight RL48 Sound & Light Kit.

Not only does this combine a broadcast quality condenser shotgun microphone, but it also features a Rotolight ring light!

The LED video light fits neatly around the microphone, meaning no need to have an extra pair of hands or having to find a way to use both a light and a microphone without affecting the balance of your camera.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more dedicated microphone, one that we use a lot in our videos is the Rode Videomic Go. It’s a compact and lightweight shotgun mic that perches nicely on your hotshoe, and delivers clear, crisp, directional audio with no prior skills.

For a desk mic, we recommend the Rode MIC NT-USB Mini Microphone. The NT-USB Mini is a fantastic solution in that it delivers Rode’s world class studio microphone technology into a compact package which fits perfectly anywhere on your desktop. Featuring a built in pop filter and a high quality capsule, you’ll find this delivers some of the warmest audio possible.

We have a few lav mics available, but our personal favourite, and one you’ll notice from our videos, is the Rode Link Wireless Microphone Filmmaker Kit.

Combining Rode’s best wireless transmitters, incredible battery life with USB power as well, and stunning omnidirectional lavalier quality, you truly can’t go wrong with this.

If you’re looking to move around during your webinars, lessons etc, then this is the ultimate solution.

Simply clip on to your belt, pants or even pop in your pocket, and you can move around with complete freedom.

The lav mic supplied is of broadcast quality, meaning you can’t get much better than that.

 

Anything else?

If you’d like to know more about any of the products we’ve listed today, or just need a hand setting everything up, make sure you visit any of our social media platforms, visit us on our Website and head to live chat, or even pop in to a local store, and we are more than happy to help!

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A team of two halves!

Following on from our interview with Graham Hudson, we thought we should catch up with his Online Sales & Support team-mate, Lily Wan.

 

Graham and Lily work tirelessly to run the hectic online side of the business, keeping customer enquiries, stock, orders and shipping running smoothly. And that’s no mean feat.

Lily joined Wilkinson Cameras just over a year ago, initially visiting stores (both at Preston and Liverpool stores) to gain first hand experience of the business. Previously working in a range of retail and hospitality businesses, Lily had also taken some time out to care for a family member.

Lily told us: ‘I really wanted to get back into retail and in particular an online retail role.’

‘After working for brands including Next and Asda, photography was a new sector for me, but I’ve always had a keen interest in taking pictures on my travels, so it was an exciting opportunity.

‘In terms of my own photography, I’d say I’m still a beginner, but in this job I get to learn about a vast range of equipment and accessories – including all the latest product launches and new cameras. So in a short space of time, I’ve gained lots of product knowledge, helping me to help our customers.

‘As Graham mentioned, times have certainly been interesting! I’ve experienced the retail madness that is ‘Black Friday’, the festive challenges of Christmas and the Boxing Day/New Year sales, and then of course the one that no one could have predicted…the Covid Pandemic.

‘Our single biggest challenge was when the stores had to close – and at the same time we saw a huge increase in photography related enquiries and sales. But as a team, Graham and I work really well together. Graham’s store background and extensive product knowledge, together with my experience of the IT & sales systems here, mean that we’ve managed to keep the wheels turning really well!

‘It took a lot of juggling of stock from stores to HQ – and currently back again now stores have reopened!

‘We also manage pretty much all communication with customers – by phone, via email, messenger or web chat – so days can certainly be hectic. One of the really nice things though, is that especially during the lockdown period, we’ve seen so many new photographers getting in touch – even taking up photography as a brand new hobby, which is great to see.

‘Now (at time of writing!) that schools are back and more people are back to work, things are ‘slightly’ getting back to normal – but we’re still seeing high levels of enquiries and sales.

‘We’ve also see a few unique and interesting trends – for example a resurgence in film sales!

‘One of the nicest things is all of the positive reviews from customers – it’s really good to know people appreciate your advice and are happy with our products and service.

‘Also, I’m a family type person and with Wilkinson being an independent business, we do treat each other as family – which I really like.’

 

Lily’s Own Photography

‘Personally, I shoot a lot on my iPhone, plus, I also have an Olympus PEN and an older Canon 550D DLSLR.

‘I really love that photography freezes a moment in time that we can keep forever. After a hectic week I love to go out walking and most of my pictures are of the surrounding landscape.

‘One of my other favourite subjects, who is a bit of a star on my Instagram feed is Gizmo, our rabbit! We’ve had him just over 6 years, he lives inside with us, but has full roam of the house and garden and he’ll be waiting for dinner when I get home today!’

What’s Next?

‘For me, photography is a hobby, alongside other things such as travel, walking, etc. I don’t want to miss the experience by always looking through a lens. Equally I love to look back on those pictures of moments in time – so it’s a balance.

‘I’d really love to visit Iceland, to explore the amazing landscape there and of course experience the northern lights.

‘Kit wise I can’t deny (being surrounded by all this amazing photography gear!!) that I’m not tempted on an upgrade. My wish-list would include a Sony A7C as it’s full frame but still compact – or a Fuji X-T4. A great camera but also super stylish looking too!

‘I’m definitely a digital girl – I won’t be following the trend back to film just yet. But never say never – we’ve had some of the most beautiful vintage cameras in our office!’

To see more of her photographs, check out Lily’s Instagram account @Tiger_Lilstar

 

Meet other members of the Wilki Team and keep checking back as we plan to introduce many more team members in the future too!

 

Head of Online Sales & B2B, Graham Hudson

Company Director, Alex Wilkinson

 

Ben Cianchi had always said that if the first two sections of The Great Australian Triathlon expedition went without much complication, the rest of the journey would be plain sailing. Dan Lamb came over from the UK to join Ben for the third and final leg of the expedition. They planned to cycle some 7000 km following the Great Dividing Range of mainland Australia, from its most southern point, Wilson’s Promontory in the state of Victoria, to its most northern point, Cape York in tropical Queensland.

 

Missed the first parts in the series? Catch up now:

The Great Australian Triathlon: An introduction

Part 1: The Run

Part 2: The Paddle

Part 3: The Cycle

Jonathan Doyle – Photographer and Videographer for The GAT – What’s in his kit bag?

 

Confidence was high as both cyclists had previously completed long cycle tours; Ben had ridden from London to Istanbul on one occasion, while Dan had ridden from the Italian Dolomites, across the Alps and back to the UK on another. Nothing could stop them, all they had to do was show up and ride each day, and the world first title was Ben’s. However, no amount of confidence, ability, or surprisingly excellent organisation could have foretold what we would have to overcome.

The plan was to follow the Bicentennial National Trail (BNT), the world’s longest unbroken multi-use trail. It was not the most direct route, nor the fastest, but it did offer a much more interesting and engaging journey through some of the most beautiful landscapes Australia has to offer. However, before they could reach the promised lands, Ben and Dan had to tackle some of the most difficult and demanding cycling of their lives. They were challenged with riding up and over innumerable mountains, covering thousands of metres of elevation. The descents were often just as brutal, which meant their progress was frequently reduced to a crawl.

The Filming

The guys expected to cover anything from 80 to 120 km per day, which meant I’d need a car to keep up while filming. So, while the guys cycled north, I headed west to Melbourne to buy one. I spent a stressful week sorting out paperwork for the car while stuck in a tiny hostel room watching Ben’s tracker move further and further away. I did get a chance to check out Australia’s largest free music festival, and meet a fox while out photographing the city one night. I was also incredibly lucky to be sharing the hostel room with some lovely people, one of which ended up joining the expedition for a while as my driver and ‘stunt-coordinator’ (his words). Once I was eventually underway again, the filming was not dissimilar to the running section, only everything was much faster!

The First Test

I am sure you all know that the fires in Australia this season have been some of the most widespread and catastrophic the country has seen in many years. For the several months preceding the start of The Great Australian Triathlon, Ben and I were not sure whether it would be able to go ahead. Even when we were in Tasmania, the fires were still raging on the mainland, it was all we could do to remain focussed on the task in hand and hope they would quickly die down.

As luck would have it, the fires did indeed dissipate during the kayaking section of the expedition and we were able to continue the journey. The fire damaged trails of the BNT however were closed; they were too dangerous to pass through, not because of the physical risk of fire, but due to the potential for falling trees, destroyed infrastructure and an uncertainty of the water supplies. This was a hard pill to swallow. It was hard not to feel disappointed, the dream of epic off-road cycling through regions of unparalleled beauty had all but gone up in smoke. It had been replaced by endless kilometres of tarmac and gravel roads trapesing across farmland, through pine plantations and far too many towns. Several weeks into the ride, we passed through the Snowy Valleys region of New South Wales, at which point our perspectives on our situation began to change.

A Fresh Perspective

When you see news stories of bushfires on the television, you see statements like ‘The Green Valley fire is now 233,000 hectares in size, and is moving to Mundaroo, Tumbarumba and Mannus’, you can appreciate that it is bad, but it’s impossible to grasp the scale of what is actually happening. It wasn’t until we passed through Tumbarumba that the reality began to dawn on us. I spoke with many of the locals and heard stories of apiculturists (bee keepers) loosing hundreds of hives and 50% of their business, farmers narrowly avoiding losing everything, and families being split by the path of the fire. We listened to the experiences of firefighters on the front line and sadly too many stories of homes being completely destroyed. Our journey took us through much of the burnt and destroyed landscape, the blackened skeletal remains was all that were left of the native eucalypt forests, pine plantations and fruit farms. The scale of the devastation was apocalyptic. Even after all of the stories and seeing the destruction for ourselves, it was still so difficult to imagine what it must have really felt like to have been there in the moment with the fires raging all around. Our perspective shifted overnight. It went from feelings of apathy and frustration, to those of empathy and gratitude. The difficulties we had faced so far during the journey paled in comparison compared to those the locals were experiencing; it was humbling, it was grounding. We were so grateful that we had missed the fires first-hand, and that we were still able to continue with the journey at all. But most of all we were grateful for the opportunities, connections and friendships that the change in route had created.

A Radical Change Of Plan

Throughout the following weeks, Ben and Dan constantly re-assessed the route with the goal to re-join the Bicentennial National Trail. However, after another 700 km of closed trails we reached Aberdeen, New South Wales (NSW), where received some disappointing news. The BNT trail coordinators for the rest of the state confirmed our worst fears; the next 800 km of the route were closed. After a mentally challenging day of access issues, road closures and diversions, Ben and Dan had had enough and proposed a radical change of plan. We abandoned the BNT, at least for NSW, and decided to cross the Great Dividing Range to the coast. Not an easy decision considering it would require a further 300 km of riding and over 3000 m of elevation through the Barrington Tops National Park rainforest to achieve very little northward progress.

End Of The Road

On the 17th March, we had stopped for breakfast on the shore of the Macleay river when I received a message and link to an article: a community notice from the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council saying that until further notice, the area north of the Jardine River in Queensland was closed to all non-essential people. That meant us. The area in question included the most northern point of mainland Australia and our finishing line. While we were concerned, we were still several thousand km, about two months of riding away. With the tiny amount of information we had, we decided to continue as planned since at that point, there had been little impact from the Covid-19 virus in Australia and we were still free to travel. Of course we spoke about the virus, everybody did, but it would be a lie if I said we didn’t bury our heads in the sand a little in the hope that it was just another product of media hyperbole and it would all just blow over as quickly as it began.

The 23rd of March was the day everything changed. The entire of Cape York, the top 1000 km of Australia had been closed, and the Queensland border would soon follow suit. Everything had changed so quickly; we were in a state of shock. We spent a few hours calling home, discussing, procrastinating, just trying to avoid making the final decision we knew we had to make. In the end it happened. At length we booked flights back to the UK. The following day the guys cycled the last 40 km over the border into Queensland, the fifth and final state of the journey and the finish line of The Great Australian Triathlon, some 3000 km premature. The expedition was over.

Two weeks of quarantine have passed since our swift exit from Australia, and the reality of the situation is finally beginning to sink in. Journeys are inherently full of risk and uncertainty, you can plan and prepare as much as you can, but in the end, you really have no idea what will actually happen. I think that’s why we are drawn to them, it’s the excitement of the unknown and the thrill of adventure that captures our imagination and pulls us out time and time again. Okay, so The Great Australian Triathlon didn’t win us a world-first title, but for me it was still a success. We got to delve deep into areas of the Australian wilderness we did not even know existed, we had to test our mental and physical resilience to overcome a multitude of challenges we faced, and we met so many interesting people who provided us with a completely different perspective on life in Australia. Adventure isn’t about titles and accolades – for me, it’s about creating connections; with my team, with the environment and with the people we meet along the way. I feel we achieved this and so much more and I am truly grateful for the time spent with Ben and the team. Now, who’s ready for the next adventure?

 

There is currently a documentary film about The Great Australian Triathlon in the making, but if you can’t wait for that, there are a series of blogs and vlogs on our website and Facebook page to check out. Just search for ‘The Great Australian Triathlon’ online to find them.

 

 

We caught up with Alex, six years on from her original “Meet the Team” interview to find out what’s changed and what she’s been up to in that time.

You’ve been a key part of the Wilkinson Cameras team for more than 6 years now and you’ve formally become a director – congratulations! How has that journey evolved – talk us through the wins, the highs & lows and inevitable challenges?

Yep, over six years now! It’s been an interesting journey – with a few obstacles along the way, but a lot of positives.

My position at Wilkinson Cameras has evolved considerably over the years – as the business has changed. A lot of the roles at Head Office have evolved and I feel we now have a really strong team – with all the right people in the right places – we’re so lucky to have such a range of talented and knowledgeable people.

I now cover pretty much all things digital and online; from overall day-to-day management of the website, future planning and eCommerce requirements, I still support and oversee the online sales team, social media, digital marketing, even down to creation and design of a lot of our advertising assets.

Being totally honest, at times it’s been very intense – especially with the rapid growth of our Digital Splash photography show and exhibition, which I don’t mind admitting nearly broke me! We were all doing a full-time job on top of our full-time jobs, which meant a lot of late nights. Some work-life balance definitely had to be reinstated!

I’m now very strict about my working hours, not taking work home with me (OK… I do literally work from home right now (COVID), but I close my office door at the end of the working day and don’t go back until the following work day!)

There have obviously been a lot of positives too. I can see great results from things I’ve implemented, and we’ve had many laughs along the way. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet really interesting people – from photographers I get to work with, staff members and of course customers too.

The list of successes includes our new website, achieving thousands of positive customer reviews (team effort obviously!), implementing ‘Live Help’ via the website, creating our very own YouTube channel and really upping our game on social media and boosting our online sales and B2B offering.
Actually when you look at it like that, I’m quite proud!

Obviously I don’t do all of this on my own – I’m fortunate enough to have Hannah and Andrew in my team, with Graham and Lily (and Liz and Joe currently as we deal with the increased demand in online sales during the pandemic) skillfully managing online and business sales, but, as we are still a relatively small company, I do oversee a number of different areas and I’m usually spinning lots of plates at once.

Looking back to when we spoke in 2015, your key priorities included Click & Collect, social media, Liverpool Learning Suite courses & training to name just a few topics. Are all of those initiatives now in place?

The words ‘click and collect’ have given me sleepless nights for years. It’s not as easy to implement as you might imagine. The photographic retail trade (and world) is now moving at such a fast pace, on-going website development is a continuous consideration, with click and collect very high on the list or priorities.

Our general online presence from the website to social media was something I wanted to improve though – and we’ve certainly done that. Goalposts are continually moving and there are always improvements to be made, but that’s the modern world of ecommerce and high street retail! No standing still, always moving and evolving to meet customer needs.

The Learning Suite and Liverpool Studio has been going really well – right up until COVID hit of course – which has obviously halted group activities in the short term.

The learning space is amazing and we have lots of brands wanting to work with us, as well as private tutors, professional photographers and associations who we partner with. We also hire the space to relevant companies wanting to run their own photo workshops from the space too, which works well and adds to the range of interesting content and learning we can offer.

COVID-19 and workshops will probably be an interesting challenge for the future. I envision some digital workshops going forward – we already have lots of free live webinars and workshops on at the moment, which are super-popular. But I think face-to-face is still important and better overall, so regular events will be back as soon as it’s safe and possible.

 

You’ve supported and enhanced the Wilki customer experience tremendously, adding Live Help working hard as a team to achieve excellent online customer service reviews. These days, people rely heavily on these reviews to help inform purchase decisions – this must be a major win for the business?

We’ve been building the reviews over several platforms including reviews.co.uk, TrustPilot & Google Business for a few years now. We’re up to over 3500 reviews across the various sites and we’re very highly rated. I know as both a marketer and an online shopper myself, how important it is to be able to find real reviews about a company. So yes, we’re really chuffed with this.

I’m well aware that lots of people haven’t heard of Wilkinson Cameras, but with Google Shopping, Google Ads, social media, etc. we’re getting the name out to a much wider audience.

But as we reach new people, many of whom aren’t aware of our history and credentials, we must work hard to prove that we’re genuine. Sadly, with so many unscrupulous online companies, the genuine ones have to work extra hard to reassure customers!

During lockdown, it was amazing to see how many people had found us online for the first time and had used online reviews to check we were legitimate. It’s really great when the stores get reviews too. We include these on the ‘Daily News’ updates we send out to staff – it’s a great morale booster for staff to see how appreciated they are.

Of course in order to generate great reviews, we have to offer excellent service. So reviews not only help to convert sales, but it ensures that we keep our standards high at all times.

I’m known for my ‘no nonsense’ replies to certain reviews online. I’ll always hold my hands up if we’ve done something wrong, or could improve and the relevant changes will be made. But I’m a bit like a tigress protecting her cubs if people are rude or dismissive towards staff members and I will defend the team if I feel that a review is unfair. Sadly there’s a tendency online to forget that there’s a human being on the other end of that comment or review, email, etc.

The Preowned market has really taken off – and we see that Wilki has launched ‘Preowned. Perfected.’ This has been a key project for you – how is it going?

Good quality pre-owned kit has been a massive part of the stores for a long time now. Most stores have their regulars coming in and scouring the pre-owned displays. Online it always took a bit of a back seat because stock comes and goes so quickly and you need accurate information about it to properly advertise it online, as every piece is unique.

With new computer systems in the stores, the ability to automate things and include more detailed information about each item, meant getting it on the website became easier, with major improvements to the look and information in each listing.

This then grew into a much bigger project – focussing on how good our pre-owned items are, describing them more accurately, presenting them better in store too. We want customers to have just the same experience as they would if buying new.

Our aim is to totally remove any risk from buying pre-owned equipment – and against news prices there are some real bargains to be had for customers. Not only is pre-owned kit excellent value for money, there’s a huge benefit in terms of ‘recycling’ by choosing used, over new. Second hand definitely doesn’t mean second best!

We’ve updated each step of the process, making the process simpler, safer and removing any risk associated with buying pre owned kit:

• Comprehensive technical checks on every piece of pre-owned kit prior to listing
• 14 day no quibble returns policy*
• 12 months warranty on all kit*
• Finance available on any item, or order value totaling over £200*
• As part of an ongoing business-wide plan to use only recyclable packaging – all pre-owned kit will be shipped in boxes made from recycled cardboard, and packed only with recycled/recyclable materials

*For full details see the website https://www.wilkinson.co.uk/preowned

 

We mentioned the dreaded C-word earlier. COVID. Talk to us about the impact the pandemic has had & how you and the team have risen to the huge challenge this has presented.

No one could ever have imagined such a pandemic occurring, or the impact it would have on pretty much every aspect of our lives. As we write this, stores are finally re-opening after months of closure, and staff are returning from furlough.

2020 is already over half way through and it’s been a real rollercoaster. I don’t think anyone realised how serious COVID-19 was to begin with. One week I was changing my welcome pack for our weekend landscape workshop in the Lake District to say ‘bring along some hand sanitizer’, the next week I was making the call on whether to reschedule and the following week all our stores were closed down and I was working from home.

We’re really great at adapting as a business – it’s why we’re still here when a lot of others have gone – but it was definitely an ‘action stations!’ moment for us as a company. Obviously a lot of our business is store based and then of course there’s the question, ‘will anyone want to buy a camera in this chaos’?

We put all our energy into online marketing, social media engagement, digital communication and really shouting to say, ‘Hey! We’re still here!’ But, also the approach I took with online communication was to include things to inspire people. It wasn’t just about selling equipment; it was about giving people ideas to do at home, giving them something to focus on, a little bit of relief in all the chaos and uncertainty.

It turns out that actually, lots of people wanted to buy cameras (and all the other things we sell!) after all. Which in turn led to the next challenge – how do we serve the demand? Head Office is down to minimum staffing, stock is trapped in all our stores, but the orders are beyond Black Friday levels with no signs of stopping.

While other businesses were offering reduced service levels, we expanded ours, opening Customer Services over the weekend and bringing furloughed staff members back in an online role, working from home. We even put little free gifts in our outgoing parcels to say thank you to everyone who was supporting us during this time.

The website was doing brilliantly, but we’d still all wake up each morning checking to see if it was still doing ok each day. We definitely don’t take anything for granted – it’s always a case of looking to see what’s next and how we can keep up the momentum and service.

And of course now, the next challenge is getting customers back into stores safely – and restoring consumer confidence – especially with unpredicted localised lockdowns. Did I mention rollercoaster?!

At the time of writing, where I live has been on increased restrictions for a few weeks and Preston has just been brought into this too. We’re taking it very seriously and we know our stores are safe places for customers and staff – and we’ll just keep showing and reassuring people that this is the case.

What’s next – dreams aspirations, photographic adventures – you mentioned previously that you’ve learned so much about photography!

I’ve always been very honest about not being a photographer. I take pictures every single day and document my main passion in life, cycling, through photography. I know how all the kit works and I have a passion for great images, but I don’t class myself as a ‘photographer’.

I don’t hone my skills in this area, so my photographic adventures will be wherever I find myself on 2 wheels with my Sony RX100 in my back pocket, or a GoPro up front. Though I’ll happily take the new Sony ZV1 for a spin if Sony would like to send me one! 😁

 

And finally! Given the obvious family connections, we just have to ask – have you made your Dad proud?!

My dad is always proud of me! He’ll tell anyone who’ll listen how proud he is of my various achievements inside or outside of work. Usually preceded by ‘MY daughter’, which usually leads my mum to chip in with ‘Ahem, OUR daughter’.

 

You can follow Alex on her cycling adventures on Instagram @L3xiconic

 

Meet other members of the Wilki Team and keep checking back as we plan to introduce many more team members in the future too!

Head of Online Sales & B2B, Graham

Chester store’s Jenny Warriner

 

 

As challenges go, Graham Hudson has had his hands full. Very, very full.

Having worked in the photographic industry since leaving school, Graham was the store manager at Wilkinson Cameras in Burnley for the last 8 years, until taking up his new role earlier this year. But what no one could have predicted was the Corona Virus – forcing the temporary closure of all non-essential retail stores.

As a team, Wilkinson Cameras rose to the challenge – up-scaling the online capability to fully support customers, maintaining sales and support. We caught up with Graham to find out first hand, the immediate challenges he (and Lily, his team member) faced and how Covid actually encouraged more budding photographers to take up the hobby.

‘When you start a new job, you don’t really plan for anything like the Covid Pandemic!’ said Graham.

‘Not long after I started in the role, the Covid crisis erupted – and retail changed pretty much overnight. We had to follow Government guidelines, where all non-essential retails stores had to close indefinitely – so we needed to adapt and respond very quickly to the new retail landscape.

‘Straight away, all business moved online and we worked hard to ensure stock availability, as well as to maintain and actually increase our customer service channels to meet demand.

‘With photography being one of the few things people could continue to do under full lockdown, we actually saw an increase in orders, and many brand new customers looking to take up photography as a hobby.

“We’re constantly improving and adding to our online offering – and during such a busy time it certainly was a challenge to meet demand on the phones, by email, through social media and questions and enquiries by live chat through the website. This was probably the biggest immediate challenge – together with then dispatching orders!

 

‘As well as camera gear, we saw a huge increase in printer and scanner sales – I think many people actually took the opportunity to organise and print their images, which is great. We had many enquiries regarding the scanning (and printing) of old prints too – so it’s lovely to think of all those photos that are now on paper or in a frame or album, rather than just lost on a hard drive.

‘We’ve also seen a steady stream of business to business sales, even under lockdown.

‘The team has gone from strength to strength tho – with support from many of the Wilki team that have been able to work from home.

‘The digital and PR guys have worked hard to fill our social media channels with inspiring content – bursting with tips and ideas of photo projects which can be done under lockdown, and as restrictions start to ease.

‘We’ve seen a huge increase in the online webinars we’re offering too – recently there have been some great sessions on food photography, creativity, printing, astrophotography. There are loads more online events coming up – and all are free to join/watch – details can be found on the events section of the Wilki Facebook page

‘As the stores now re open, our challenge now is blending all back together – the online demand is still high, and I’m really looking forward to settling more into the role, without quite the amount of drama and change we’ve had to manage!

‘Sometimes I do miss being in the store and seeing customers face to face and finding out how they are getting on with their kit etc. We still do this of course, but just more by phone or chat.

‘Outside of work I do enjoy my own photography as well, tho there hasn’t been too much time for that lately – I hope to return to shooting landscapes and wildlife on my Fuji X-T2.

‘I’m also a keen gardener and love my allotment for growing fruit and veg – alongside enjoying the garden at home. Over the recent months, with work being so busy, I’ve loved the time at the allotment with lots of delicious food just coming ready to take home and enjoy!’

The historic walled City of Chester may not be the first place you imagine as an obvious base for an aspiring surf photographer. But sure enough, as a member of the Wilkinson Cameras team in Chester, Jenny Warriner is as keen on capturing waves as she is sharing her knowledge and passion for photography with customers.

Over the last few months, while stores were closed, we’ve been catching up with the team to learn more about their passion for photography and adventure outside of work. For sure, lockdown limited all but essential travel for several months, but as restrictions are lifting, there’s at least one photographer itching to get back to the coast!

We caught up with Jenny Warriner, one of the sales team at our Chester store, to find out her kayak vs paddleboard dilemma, camper van conversion and her love-hate relationship with the waves.

“I’ve been interested in photography since the early 2000’s. I wasn’t happy in my job as a chef with all the long hours and I moved to Spain for a short while – attending college to learn Spanish while I was there.  It was great to have the break from work and think about what I want to do with myself.  I knew I didn’t want to return to the kitchen.

After coming back from Spain I had a few retail jobs, but I knew I wanted to get into photography. Initially I started work for studio based Olan Mills but sadly after a year they went into administration.

Shortly after this, I worked briefly for Wilkinson Cameras – running one of the mini-labs in store – but with the decline in film processing and the move to digital this sadly came to an end.

After a brief return to retail in toy sales, I once again found an opening in photo retail with Camera Solutions, which last year was purchased by Wilkinson Cameras!

My experience along the way has been amazing, but I’m glad I was given the opportunity to carry on doing what I enjoy, finally selling things I am passionate about, as part of such a dedicated team here at Wilkinson.”

Capturing “Choka” Waves

For those of us less familiar with surf terminology, ‘Choka’ is surf slang for awesome/great, and is also part of Jenny’s Insta handle @chokasurfphotography, where you can seen an epic collection of her surf photography.

“Before I met my husband I was pretty terrified of water – I’m still not confident.  I didn’t have anything like swimming lessons at school and when I was about 11 or 12 I almost drowned in the sea on a holiday in Majorca!

‘My first experience in the sea as an adult was a long weekend away to The Gower – a friend of ours had been going for years and we thought we would see what all the fuss was about. Our friend had body boards for us to use, it was the first time I had been in the sea properly for years and I felt safe knowing I had people around me to help if I got into any trouble, plus Llangennith is one of the safest to be in as it stays waist high for a good stretch.

Eight years later and we are still taking our trips there.  It’s an 8 hour round trip for us so it is rare we would go just for the day. Until we got our campervan!

‘Bronwyn’ joined us in the summer of 2018.  She was previously used as a work van and we’ve converted her with surfing in mind. We don’t need things like a kitchen inside, or seating, as when we go places we like to be outside, we love our camping BBQ’s and sitting out in our sleeping bags.

We do have a massive king-size bed in there and under bed storage for our surfboards and my husbands longboard. The longboard is too long to fit under the bed – so we’ve made anchor points in the roof in order to hang the board diagonally, which means one end of the board is above my head in the passenger side of the cab, luckily I’m only 5ft so there’s plenty of head space!

The van has meant we can go on longer journeys, travelling over night and sleeping in the van ready to catch the waves the next morning. After enjoying time in a kayak, I now have a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP), which I absolutely love.

I think since having the SUP, I have come to enjoy it more than kayaking.  It is one of those sports/hobbies where it is weather dependent – you really don’t want to go out in the wind believe me! The board came supplied with a camera mount – so my GoPro Hero 7 fits on there perfectly!

Whilst we have been in lockdown I have been furloughed and hubby has worked right the way through.  It’s been really hard not being allowed into Wales especially as some of our favourite spots are over the border. It’s lovely, you can go for a hike then come back for a paddle and enjoy some sandwiches sat relaxing after an adventurous few hours. Not to mention most of the best surf spots are in wales!

We have been a couple of times during lockdown to our local river, the River Dee.  We’ve headed out super early, while it’s quiet and to guarantee a parking space!”

Getting The Shot

“‘When I first started photographing my husband surf, I literally wouldn’t point the camera at anyone else, partly because I didn’t want to miss any of my husbands waves and partly because I have never really been confident getting my camera out around others.

It’s only been the past couple of years I have come out my shell a bit and started shooting other surfers.  I’m still learning of course, and I still enjoy shooting portraits and wildlife too.

About a year ago I started to experiment with long exposures, I find it fun and it’s a good break when the surf has gone a bit sloppy and surfers are bobbing in the sea waiting for the next good wave.

I’m currently using a Fujifilm X-T2 with the newly purchased 100-400mm.  Unfortunately I bought the lens a few months before lockdown and the surf hasn’t been great – so I’m really looking forward to getting out again soon.

I use a Manfrotto monopod as a support as this is much more practical I heavy sand than a tripod. My other top tip if you’re thinking of doing a bit of surf photography is to get a decent pair of wellies, because more often than not you’ll be standing in the sea at some point!

When we are chatting, a lot of customers ask if I am going to get a waterproof casing for my camera… No, no and no! This would mean I’d be in the actual sea trying to stay standing in waves… no thanks!

I did go in once in my wetsuit, with my trusty Panasonic waterproof compact camera.  Got a few cracking shots actually… but it’s hard for me because most of the time the wave is higher than me so I miss some good waves and being inside the wave I’d get knocked down for sure!”

Jenny’s Kit:

GoPro

Fuji X Series

Fujifilm 100-400mm Lens

To see more of Jenny’s work, check out her Instagram. Alternatively, if you’re ever in Wilkinson Cameras in Chester, be sure to ask about her coastal adventures!

Olympus offer us a glimpse into the future.

There’s been a lot of speculation about Olympus’ future recently. We recently learned the OM-D camera and M.Zuiko lens side of the brand was to be sold to another company. The internet… in typical fashion… lost its mind and started speculating about the demise of the company! We were of course given a sneak peak into things way before the info went public and today Olympus have shared their future lens plans publicly.

The roadmap shows us that a new M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4 PRO lens is on the way (at some point) and a 150-400mm F4.5 with 1.25x teleconverter (winter) and we can even see some other exciting developments… 100-400mm anyone? Exciting stuff… keep your eyes peeled for future developments!

Below is a press release from Olympus themselves, discussing the future of their products

 


Olympus Innovation Update

Olympus is justifiably proud of its record of innovation. We looked at a few of these in our 100 Year anniversary last year and will take another look soon. Many were not taken seriously when they first came out but were then copied or attempted by others. They keep on coming and below are three announcements on exciting innovations coming now or in the near future that help explain why the Olympus range will not only continue but will grow.

New Lens Road Map

Below is the latest update to our lens roadmap, including a NEW 8-25mm F4.0 PRO and a telephoto macro lens. Further details on these will follow in due course. An already comprehensive range of lenses is set to grow over the coming months and years.

News on the upcoming M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO lens: this is set for delivery in the winter with exact dates to be confirmed.

News on firmware for the E-M1X

As a taster for what is to come, this winter will also see the first-ever Bird Intelligent Subject Detection AF as a firmware update for the E-M1X. Much anticipated as possible enhancement to the already very effective ISD capability, this will delight the many.

PRIME TIME VIEWING: OLYMPUS INTRODUCES OM-D WEBCAM BETA

Picture yourself on a normal video conference camera: not so alluring. Now imagine the same scene through an M.ZUIKO 25mm F1.2 prime lens, set to maximum aperture attached to a state of the art Olympus OM-D camera body and get ready for stardom. Keep your eyes open for the latest offers on OMD and prime lenses at www.enjoy.photo

In response to the rapidly expanding demand for high-quality web conferencing and streaming solutions, Olympus is pleased to offer a FREE value-add for many OM-D owners, a software solution to enhance webcam configurations. This beta software program transforms select Olympus OM-D interchangeable lens cameras into premium webcams for use with applications of video conferencing software packages. Experience high-quality video conferencing and livestream events simply by installing the software on a PC, and connecting a supported camera using your camera’s USB cable.

OM-D Webcam Beta software is compatible with five Olympus OM-D Models, the E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and the E-M5 Mark II, utilizing the USB cable provided with the camera at purchase.

OM-D Webcam Beta software is compatible with the Windows 10 (32 bit/64 bit) operating system environment and is easy to install. Simply download the installer from DL site, execute the .exe file and follow the instructions displayed. Once the software has been installed, connect any compatible OM-D camera to the PC utilizing the provided USB cable, turn the camera on, select the connection icon on the monitor, and turn the web conferencing application on and select “OM-D Webcam Beta” in the device settings menu in the application.

OM-D Webcam will be available for download and installation beginning July 2, 2020. It is available in the English and Japanese languages, only. Download link and installation procedures can be accessed at https://support.olympus-imaging.com/webcambeta/. Due to the pre-release nature of this beta software, it is not eligible for operational warranty or customer support.

Watch Olympus Guru, Lewis Speight demonstrate what it can do here @OlympusUK on Facebook.

Portrait of Sara
A rare portrait of Sara who much preferred to be behind the camera.

 

It is with great sadness that we share the news that one of our long standing staff members, Sara Penwarden, has passed away aged only 51. Unfortunately she lost a battle with cancer on May 31st, with her husband Michael and her Papillion dog Alfie by her side.

Sara was a passionate and knowledgeable photographer, wildlife & animal lover and environmentalist, to name just a small selection of her positive attributes. On top of this, she was an incredibly dedicated employee of Wilkinson Cameras for over 22 years, always putting her customers first and thinking of what was best for the company. In fact, that was Sara all over – completely selfless in every respect.

In her 22 years with Wilkinson Cameras, she managed the Blackburn store, the Southport store and more recently she joined the team at Head Office to manage B2B & Online sales. Many will know her from these roles or will have met her on a workshop or at an event.

Sara was a fountain of knowledge and a passionate photographer. She was also somewhat of a camera equipment collector, from her collection of old film cameras, through to her treasured Canon L lenses & EOS 5D Mark IV, a vintage Gitzo tripod and about 200 camera bags (we jest, it’s probably more like 25!) to name just a few.

Sara’s knowledge was broad and stemmed from a passion for delivering great customer service and her love of photography. Her passion did not stop at photography though. She was also a nature and animal lover and dedicated conservationist and environmentalist.

Her outstanding customer service was recognised not only internally, but also by the number of positive reviews that came her way and demonstrated by her extremely loyal following of customers who would come back to her time and time again over the years for advice.

This level of service, thoughtfulness and attention to detail was drilled into anyone she managed or mentored and as a company we are extremely grateful for the values she has maintained, enhanced and woven through our procedures at many levels.

Anyone who knew Sara will also know that she also had an incredible sense of humour. We will certainly miss the belly laughs at Head Office.

Sara’s husband Michael said, “If there is one lesson that you can take away from knowing Sara, it would be that we take a moment to care for people and animals and the world we live in just a little bit more. This is what Sara would have wanted. Please don’t be sad that Sara has passed away, but be glad to know that you knew a wonderful person.”

We have lost an incredible person; someone compassionate, tenacious, generous and loyal, but we are so lucky to have had the chance to know, work with and love someone so brilliant and so unique. Sara will not be forgotten at Wilkinson Cameras.

 

Michael, Sara’s husband has requested that any donations are made to Trinity Hospice, where Sara received excellent care. If you would like to donate, please click the Trinity Hospice image below to be taken to the GoFundMe page we have set up in Sara’s name. All donations will go directly to Trinity Hospice and you can donate using PayPal or credit card. Thank you.

 

From all of us at Wilkinson Cameras including company directors David Parkinson, Frank Wilkinson, Paul Edmondson & Alex Wilkinson, we wish Michael and the rest of Sara’s family and friends our deepest condolences.

 

In a new series, I’ll be sharing a few of my favourite shots and the stories behind the image, following the amazing response to a sequence of images I tweeted earlier this month. And, why not start with the most popular image from the poll: Life On The Edge. After spending countless hours with these enigmatic little birds over the past few years this image stands out like no other. In my opinion, it captures the beauty of the world these birds call home.

Check out Kevin’s Instagram and Twitter for more compelling images and exciting content!

Camera: Canon 1DX | Lens:  Canon 24-70mm @24mm | Settings: 1/320 sec @ f/8. ISO 640

 

Life On The Edge – The Story Behind The Photo

Each year, roughly mid-Summer, I grab my tent and start the annual pilgrimage north of the border to the Shetland Isles. This location is truly breathtaking – wild seascapes, rugged cliff tops, and of course seabirds. For me, it’s the holy grail of seabird photography in the U.K.

The location of this image is Fair Isle, Shetland – measuring at just 3km wide and barely 5km long it is Britain’s most remote inhabited island. It can be found marooned in the North Sea between Shetland and Orkney. Due to its location, it is not the easiest place to get to. But once you set foot on the island, it truly is a puffin paradise and with almost 24 hours of daylight during summer, it is a photographer’s dream.

The coastline that borders the island may not necessarily house the biggest population of puffins in the UK, but it is difficult to argue that it isn’t the most beautiful. Over the past few years, I have led many tours and workshops to this amazing location. Sadly in 2019, the island was hit by a devastating disaster, a fire that burnt down the Fair Isle bird observatory the main accommodation on the island. Thankfully, apart from material belongings being lost, there were no major injuries or loss of life. Efforts are now in place to rebuild the accommodation, hopefully, by 2022 the observatory should be back up and running.

Out of all the Scottish islands, Fair Isle is my favourite – I often find myself seeking solitude on the cliffs there, whatever is going on in the world seems so distant whilst sitting watching birds glide effortlessly below. The island brings back so man childhood memories, sitting looking out to sea, dreaming of what lies beyond the horizon. It is where I feel most at home

Over the years I have racked up countless full-frame portraits of puffins, showcasing countless forms of behaviour. But for me, true beauty is taking a step back and including the dramatic landscape they call home. So, on this trip, my goal was to compose a wide-angle image of a puffin, showcasing the iconic Sheep Rock in the background.

Life On The Edge – Composing The Image

When you break this image down, many elements have to come together for Life On the Edge to work. Firstly, the pose of the puffin is critical. Had the puffin being looking to the left, or away from the camera, the image would not work – the classic over the shoulder pose allows the viewer to engage with the puffin. Composing the puffin in the bottom left of the image, allowed me to frame a pleasing composition as the puffin stood tall in this wonderful vista. This image was shot at f/8, which was enough to keep the subject sharp but also keep the background in focus.

When composing wide-angle shots, you need to be constantly thinking about how the image will all piece together. This image is more than just the puffin, all the elements composition, landscape, clouds have been carefully considered before the shutter has been pressed.

First Attempts

Below I’ll highlight a few of my earlier attempts at the image and explain their flaws and why they never made the cut.

Attempt 1 – The Flaws

  • Composition is flawed, the bird is too central in the frame
  • I find the clifftops to the left overpowering. Your gaze is drawn to the cliffs and not the stunning vista beyond
  • While the birds pose is fine, it doesn’t carry the same engagement as the over the shoulder
  • Overall, I find this image unbalanced and uneasy on the eye

Attempt 2 – The Flaws

  • Composition is better, but still not right
  • The cliffs to the left of the birds are still too distracting, which overpowers the image
  • While the birds pose is fine, it doesn’t carry the same engagement as the over the shoulder pose
  • Overall, I find this image unbalanced and uneasy on the eye

Attempt 3 – The Flaws

  • Composition for this one is perfect
  • The main issue is the birds pose: by looking away from the camera, the puffin does not engage the viewer.

Looking For More Inspiration?

About Kevin Morgans

Wilkinson Cameras Ambassador Kevin Morgans was born in Cheshire, UK. Kevin is a multi-award-winning wildlife photographer, tour leader, and photographic guide with a passion for UK wildlife. Widely published and with a formidable social media following, Kevin was last year a category runner up in Nature Photographer Of The Year and was proud to see his mountain hare image grace the cover of the prestigious British Wildlife Photography Awards collection in 2018. He’s also had multiple awarded images in international photography competitions such as the Nature Image Awards, Environmental Photographer Of The Year, Bird Photographer Of The Year & Natures Best to name a few.

Specialising in the British Isles, from the highest mountains to the coast. Kevin’s work celebrates the beauty of UK wildlife across the seasons. He is an experienced guide who has been running 1-2-1 and group workshops for many years, using his experience and passion to pass on his knowledge of photographing the natural world. You are welcome to join Kevin on a photographic tour or workshop to explore this beautiful land.

The kayaking section of The Great Australian Triathlon was the one that concerned me the most. I think this was because the Bass Strait has the reputation for being one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world.

 

Missed the first parts in the series? Catch up now:

The Great Australian Triathlon: An introduction

Part 1: The Run

Jonathan Doyle – Photographer and Videographer for The GAT – What’s in his kit bag?

 

A reputation which is well deserved. The sea between Tasmania and mainland Australia has seen over 1000 shipwrecks, including the destruction of 5 yachts during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, claiming 6 lives. The reason the strait is so dangerous, is because it is very shallow with an average depth of 60m, a stark comparison to the ocean on either side which plunges down to several thousand metres. Wind can travel uninterrupted for thousands of kilometres across the planet to reach the shallow shelf of the Bass Strait, and in doing so can create waves as tall as 20 metres high!

While the obvious choice for the crossing was to wait for the very calmest days to paddle on, the team only had 21 days to complete it as Aidan Cameron and Alie Repetto, the kayakers joining Ben, had to return to Sydney in time to start the next semester of university.

Preparation

How the hell was I going to film Ben kayaking across the Bass Strait? I don’t kayak and with such a limited budget, hiring a boat was never really an option. I decided that the best course of action was to base myself on Flinders Island, the largest island the team would stop at during the crossing. The island can be accessed by a 9 hour ferry crossing which is often described as an adventure in itself. However, unfortunate timings meant I would miss its departure by a day and so in order to avoid risking missing the team altogether, I opted to fly to Flinders Island on a 6 seater plane instead. My equipment list was somewhat more limited than in leg one as I could only take what I could carry and I somehow had to squeeze in my camping gear too. With just 20 minutes to pack before my flight left, I threw everything into a couple of bags and miraculously the only items I forgot were the sun cream and a change of clothes!

Patience

I was lucky to ride shotgun on the flight over to the island, and my luck continued throughout the day. I managed to blag a lift from the aviation company to find somewhere to hire a car, where I then, managed to obtain the very last hire car available on the Island! At length I found myself set up and camping at Trousers Point, a perfect campsite situated just inside Strzelecki National Park right on the edge of a white-sand beach. My watch had begun.

At this point the pace of the expedition slowed down dramatically. I was two paddling days ahead of Ben, Aidan and Alie and while they were out battling the big seas and strong winds of their first day, I struck out to explore the Island. My first objective was to climb the 756m Mt. Strzelecki, the highest point on the Island and interestingly, also part of the Great Dividing Range, which we would later be following on mainland Australia. While the views, as you would imagine we literally breath taking, the highlight for me was on the run back down to the car. I was making excellent time when I suddenly rounded a corner and my brain subconsciously stopped me dead in my tracks. There in front of me was the biggest snake I had ever seen. Wait, make that two. A pair of Tiger Snakes, the 4th most venomous land-snakes in the world were sat right in the middle of the path no more than two metres in front of me. They just watched as I got my camera and tripod out and proceeded to film them, best day ever!

The next morning, I got a call from Ben telling me that he was eating a pie… this was bad news. The team were sat just 20km south of my position on Cape Barren Island, but due to the inclement weather, it would be another couple of days before they would be able to make the crossing to my position. It was such a shame that I had to spend two more days stuck on a paradise island with nothing to do but explore! I spent the time interviewing and filming with a local mountain biking company and discussing what it is like to live on the island and how they managed to make a living there. Even though many of the residents needed to work multiple jobs, they all told me they couldn’t think of anywhere else they would rather live.

Go Time!

Four days after arriving on Flinders Island, I was out location scouting when I got a satellite message from Ben’s Garmin GPS device to say they had set off. I rushed back to Trousers Point and set up shop; the Sony A7iii, equipped with a Canon FD 100-300mm lens, was sat atop my 3-Legged Thing tripod, and my DJI Mavic Pro drone prepped and ready to launch at a moment’s notice. I was joined by Les and Jenni, two sea kayakers from Western Australia who were waiting for a good weather window to kayak back to Tasmania. We’d spent the last few days chatting over a cup of tea or two and they were keen to welcome Ben and the team to the island. A tense hour crept by gazing though my Hawke Endurance binoculars waiting for the first glace of bobbing heads and splashing paddles. I blinked and suddenly there were there. Four days of waiting had built up to this, I set the A7iii rolling and scrambled the drone.

Patience Part 2

The very next day Ben and the team made it further along the coast to the main town, Whitemark. But just as we felt we were making progress with the crossing, the weather turned on us again. Strong North-westerly headwinds were forecast, meaning paddling would be off the cards until they changed direction. The mood in camp was understandably tense. Ten minutes wouldn’t go by without at least one of the team checking the weather to see if the wind would be changing any time soon. It wasn’t, and with six days already gone, they were getting ever closer to having to make the call to abandon the crossing. We spent the time eating pies and pizza, exploring the town a little and playing hackie sack (terribly) on the beach. Three days slowly went by, but little change in the weather the mood remained the same. During a series of interviews, I asked the trio whether they though the crossing was still possible, to which the best answer got was a firm maybe. So at least there was still a shred of optimism left.

As it happened, a very small weather window opened the very next day and the decision was made to push a little further north to Roydon Island, a tiny landmass just off the north-west coast of Flinders.

I found myself huddled behind a rock on a headland, sheltering from the battering wind and sporadic rain and watching Ben’s GPS dot move painfully slowly towards my position. After 5 hours of waiting, my patience paid off as I spotted three sea kayaks in the distance, it was go time. I launched the drone and set my camera rolling and with no room for error, I spent an intense 15 minutes trying to capture as much footage as possible before they disappeared into the distance. That was the last time I saw the paddling trio for quite some time.

The team spent another five painfully slow days on Roydon Island, experiencing torrential rain and 80 mph winds. Of course, they always knew there would be an element of waiting involved to complete the crossing, it was inevitable, but I’m not quite sure they were fully prepared for the monotony it provided! In the end Ben, Aidan and Alie managed to complete the crossing in a total of 19 days, 9 days of kayaking and 10 days of waiting!

Ben had always said that if the first two legs went well, then it was basically a done deal that he would become the first person to complete a completely human powered vertical crossing of Australia. Little did he know what difficulties lay ahead of him in the coming weeks…

 

See how they get on in the final leg of The Great Australian Triathlon:

Part 3: The Cycle

 

 

Many of us are still stuck in lock-down and self-isolating. But this will not last forever – hopefully we will be back out with our cameras before we know it. Whilst it feels like our lives have been put on hold, the natural world has not stopped.

Wildlife is still going about its daily routines as normal albeit under less pressure from humans. My favourite time of the year has not been put on hold: the return of the seabirds to our cliffs. At this time of year, many will be busy collecting nesting material in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.

In the post below I will set out to share 5 tips to help you improve your seabird photography – ready to be put into practice once we are all free to visit these amazing places!

 

Think Wide

The biggest mistake people make when working at a seabird colony is not stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. I understand photographers may get excited when seeing a beautiful subject such as an Atlantic Puffin and rush to shoot as big and bold in the frame as possible. But please, just for a second, slow down, step back and look at the bigger picture: seabirds live in some of the most stunning habitats in the UK. Look to combine the two, the beauty of the seabird and the dramatic coastline.

Shooting wide is a little more difficult in terms of composition, when using a long telephoto the bird is the main focus of the frame. When shooting wide the landscape is the main focal point but with a bird in the frame.

Many years ago a good friend once told me,  ‘if the habitat adds to the image include it, if not exclude it from the image.’  This quote has stuck with me ever since.

Use Light Creatively

Wildlife photography is one of the most difficult photographic disciplines when it comes to using light, as we are often exposed to the elements on windswept mountains or rocky sea cliffs. We don’t have the luxury of studio controlled setups. One of the biggest assets a wildlife photographer can possess is how too understand light and the qualities it possesses. Once this is understood you can then begin to use light to your advantage.

Yes, summer sunrise shoots mean an early alarm, but sadly that’s part of the job when shooting wildlife. Being on location for first light allows you to shoot in the most exquisite light – the same goes for the evening light.

My favoured style of photography is back-lighting. This is when the sun is in front of you, lighting the back of your subject. Birds can look fantastic using this technique, as the light shining through their feathers looks almost translucent. Ideally, this should be tried earlier, or later in the day when the sun is close to the horizon. These times of day are also known as the golden hour and will create beautiful light with low contrast perfect for back-lighting.

Think Outside The Box

Seabirds are one of our most photographed subjects and for a very good reason. They live in beautiful habitats, are stunning birds and, for the most part, are accessible to the public. The issue with accessible subjects means they will have been extensively photographed. For example, just look at the number of puffin images that appear in our social feeds each summer.

You need to look at these images and think “what hasn’t been done” – the bar has been raised higher with these species than no other. But always remember however well a species has been documented there is always a new shot to be had.

I’ll share an example of when I was working on Shetland last summer. It was 1 am and I was walking back to my tent after a session shooting the amazing gannets colonies at Hermaness NNR. It was a clear night and the moon was rising out over the sea. I thought to myself, imagine a puffin silhouetted against the moon – that would be unique. A few moments later to my surprise a small group of puffins were resting on a ledge looking out to sea. I then had to manoeuvre myself, lining one of the puffins up against the moon, with very little contrast manual focus was needed. It was difficult in near darkness, but by framing the head of the puffin against the moon I was able to shoot a unique image of a well-photographed species. Yes, I’ll admit the opportunity to shoot a silhouette of a puffin against the moon doesn’t happen every day, but always keep your eyes open because you never know when the next opportunity will arise.

Embrace The Weather

Typically with the British Summertime, if we decide to wait for the golden light we could be waiting a long time. Cloud, rain, fog – this is the norm – but don’t get downbeat when the weather isn’t in your favour, embrace it. Often the best images can be achieved in the worst weather.

Shooting in wet weather can come with its own challenges, such as keeping yourself and your kit dry. Keeping yourself dry and warm in these conditions is vitally important once you get cold and wet, well in my case you’ll be thinking about that hot cup of tea and not the photography at hand. The longer you can stay out in these conditions the more chance you have of producing unique imagery.

A few years back I headed North of the border to Shetland, the aim of the project was to photograph Northern Gannets in the autumn gales. Yes, this trip was tough, working on the cliff tops in gale force winds was a bit sketchy, but the results were stunning. The weather was wild, but these were the conditions I was after, the power of the sea crashing over the rocks as the gannets soared below. The point is getting out in these extremes of weather can lead to dramatic shots, whilst other photographers may have packed their bags. Stay out and experiment – once your home and processing your amazing images all those cold and wet thoughts from earlier will be a distant memory.

Slow Down Your Approach

Seabird colonies are bustling habitats stacked with activity, whether it’s puffins reaffirming old bonds, gannets collecting nesting material, or skuas hunting for prey. If you are new to seabird photography, arriving at the colony can feel a bit overwhelming, so when you first arrive, take a moment, step back, and just watch.

Doing this will allow you to slow things down.

This allows me to simply watch the birds: see what flight paths the gannets are taking, which puffins are bringing sand eels back to the burrows etc. By operating a so-called bull in a china shop mentality you will miss the action around you – don’t be blinkered to the one opportunity, take it all in. Enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the colony – only by doing this will you massively improve your chances of capturing unique imagery.

Looking For Inspiration

Whilst we are all stuck at home, review your archives, assess what works in the images and what doesn’t, so next time you’ll know how best to work the situation.

If you need further inspiration why not check out my Clowns Of The Sea image library, which documents the lives of the ever comical Atlantic Puffin across the U.K coastline – from the stunning Skomer Island to the most Northerly point of the British Isles, Hermaness NNR.

I’ve recently set up a Facebook group titled Coastal Worlds. This group aims to explore your connection with coastal nature and landscapes through imagery, video, stories, and conservation.

If you would like to join this fast-growing community, please search for Coastal Worlds and start sharing your favourite seabird shots.

Thanks

Kev

To see more of Kevin Morgan’s work, check out his website or browse through his Instagram feed.

 

 

Sadly, as we suspected, ex Wilki team member Jonathan Doyle and his friends attempting the Great Australian Triathlon have been halted by the global Coronavirus pandemic. After successfully completing the first two gruelling sections of the trip – the run and the kayak – the team sadly had to call it a day 60km south of the Queensland border, on their final cycle leg.

Now safely home and under lockdown in the UK, we caught up with Jonathan to talk about the decision to abandon and also to recap on the impressive achievements of the team.

We say ‘so far’ – and wonder if the adventure will be revisited at a later date?

Jonathan Doyle:

“As you may have guessed from the current international Covid-19 situation, The Great Australian Triathlon had to come to an early end. For a few days we had seen news articles about some new virus that had spread out from China, causing some difficulties in Europe. We didn’t pay much attention, as the situation in Australia was mild in comparison, we kept our heads buried in the sand telling ourselves that it wouldn’t really affect us as we’ll be out in the wilderness again in a few days.

‘But then the local council closed the entire of Cape York, meaning we suddenly did not have access to the final 1000 km of our route. “It’s okay, we’ll keep moving, we’re 2 months away from there yet, it’ll be open again before we arrive”. Then the state borders were closed, and the UK were advising travellers to get back home as quickly as possible. It got real.

‘With heavy hearts we accepted that it was the end of the road. We booked flights and rode the final day into the fifth and final state of the journey and the finish line of The Great Australian Triathlon, some 3000 km premature. It was over.”

Two weeks of quarantine have passed since the team’s swift exit from Australia, who say the reality of the situation is finally beginning to sink in. But no adventure is time wasted, so we thought you’d still like to read the blog from the ‘First Leg’ of this epic trip, written by Jonathan Doyle.

Preparation

My first challenge to was to figure out exactly I was going to single-handedly film Ben, Emma and Claire Cianchi running 640 km across Tasmania. Since running is inherently a fairly slow method of travel, I wrongly assumed the pace of filming would match this and that this leg of the trip would be the easiest to film. My first and most logical thought was to use a car to shoot from. I could easily carry all the gear, move around quickly and get ahead of the team with little effort. However, the planned route followed much of the Tasmanian Trail, a long-distance trail established in the 1988 which is mostly inaccessible to motorised vehicles. That option was out. My next thought was to run with them. I would be able to keep up and it would solve the access issues too, but it would mean carrying little more than my Sony A7iii camera and charging would be increasingly difficult. Perhaps not. I quickly settled on option three, I would cycle across Tasmania while the others ran. This would solve the issues with the other modes of travel and I would be faster than the runners too, in theory. Going for the bike was a bold choice as I had exactly zero cycle touring experience and in fact the furthest ride I had ever completed was about 30km between Kendal and Milnthorpe. As you can imagine, I wasn’t quite ready for what lay ahead of me.

The First Challenge

We landed in Hobart, Tasmania on the 29th of December and gave ourselves just one day for jet lag recovery and bag packing. The expedition would begin with a short hike in to South East Cape where we would camp overnight and officially start the expedition the following day. However, upon arrival at Cockle Creek, the closest point by road, we were faced with one of the most difficult decisions of the journey. With unprecedented temperatures and dry lightning strikes predicted, there was a very high possibility of bush fires starting. The peninsula is a remote spit of land with only one access point, and so if we went in, there was a possibility we could get trapped if there was a fire. After a great deal of discussion, we came to the unanimous decision that we would compromise the original plan. Instead we would smash out the 14km round trip as quickly as possible, returning the same night to camp back at Cockle Creek. The expedition had begun.

Heavyweight

It quickly became apparent that I was carrying too much, like way too much. I could only just lift the back end of the bike, an issue when I ended up having to lift it up and over numerous fallen trees! The plan was to create a high-quality cinematic style film rather than the usual ‘let me just put the GoPro on the ground and you ride past it’ kind of production. In order to achieve this ambitious challenge, I did not skimp on the camera gear. I carried the Sony A7iii and A6400 and five lenses, a Zhiyun Weebill Lab gimbal, DJI Mavic Pro drone, tripod, charging cables, laptop, the list goes on. Needless to say, I was nowhere near the 20 kg dream weight most bike-packers strive towards.

It’s All Uphill From Here

On the fifth day on the crossing, I met my nemesis, the 1000m White Timber Mountain which we had to pass directly over. We spent the day on gravel tracks that only got steeper and looser as we gained height. It was not long before I found myself being overtaken by Ben, Emma and Claire and shortly after I was demoted to pushing my bike. It was a lonely and brutal slog, the ground underfoot was so loose, I often lost my footing and at times I was not even exceeding 1km/h! Gone were the thoughts of filming, the burn in my muscles consumed my mind and it took every ounce of strength to will myself on to take just one more step. Shirt off and sweat-drenched, I was making painfully slow progress.

I heard footsteps approaching from behind belonging to an Israeli chap named Asa. We walked and talked for a while and before I knew it he was helping me push my bike! I told him that I was conflicted about The Great Australian Triathlon as I felt it was ultimately a pretty selfish endeavour, we were spending all this time, energy and money travelling across an entire continent when we could be using our resources to help others. Asa stopped and looked at me, “You have to do things for yourself sometimes too. You need to help yourself to be happier and healthier so that in turn you can help others too”. Those words really stuck with me. Asa helped me push the bike right to the summit of the mountain where the others had been waiting for quite some time. The descent from White Timber Mountain was much more difficult and physically demanding that I had expected. Gone were the easy-going fire-trails, replaced with technical tracks needing 100% concentration to maintain any forward momentum. While the riding was not fast, it was some of the best of the trip.

I Don’t Have The Power!

A huge hurdle to overcome was meeting the colossal power demands required to shoot a film like The Great Australian Triathlon. In addition to all of the equipment mentioned above, I also had to charge the team’s phones and GPS devices. It seemed to me to be the impossible task, and it was a constant source of stress. My only power source was a 100Wh power bank which was charged via a 20W solar panel, and ultimately this system did not cut it. To ensure we had enough power to shoot, I took advantage of every kind person we met who had access to power. On one such occasion, I spent eight hours in a bakery with my 6-way extension lead plugged in with every single electrical item I had connected and charging! Ben commented that it was the most ridiculous thing he had seen. I did cut it fine one day however; following a series of interviews with the expedition team, I was left the last remaining Sony A7iii battery holding just 3% charge!

‘It was a full-time job to survive, and another to shoot the film.’

Filming an expedition such as The Great Australian Triathlon, it turns out is no mean feat. There were days when I had to push myself well beyond my comfort zone both physically and mentally just to get the ride done while simultaneously working my butt off to get the shots we needed. It was a full-time job to survive, and another to shoot the film. Often the runners were much faster than I anticipated, meaning that I had to set up every shot as fast as possible or risk missing a shot or even worse, making the runners stop. Both outcomes would result in frustrations within the team. I spent a lot of time trying to avoid this situation by refining my setup for maximum accessibility and efficiency. I would say one of the most important items in my arsenal was Peak Design’s Capture Clip. I used it to mount my camera right under my handlebars meaning it could be powered up and shooting within a matter of seconds. This took maybe a week to figure out, but I was so stoked to have finally solved a problem the internet was unable to prior to the trip!

‘Power is more valuable than gold.’

Final Thoughts

The Great Australian was the definition of trial by fire and I certainly learnt a great deal. It turns out power is more valuable than gold: running out means no filming, no GPS, no audiobooks. I have no idea how the early explorers survived without 48 hours of Game of Thrones audiobook for company. Do not go back to find something you have lost on the route, let it go, it belongs to the trail now. Finally, people are awesome. We met so many wonderful people during our crossing of Tasmania, they did everything from making us cups of tea to letting four strangers sleep in their house and steal all their electricity and hot water.

The run across Tasmania was a journey of a lifetime, and we still had two more legs of the expedition to go…

 

Visit The Great Australian Triathlon website for more information on the trip, or visit their Facebook page.
Check out Jonathan’s Instagram and Ben Cianchi’s Instagram to see some incredible images of the journey.

 

Read the whole Great Austrlian Triathlon Series now:

The Great Australian Triathlon: An introduction

Part 1: The Run

Part 2: The Paddle

Part 3: The Cycle

Jonathan Doyle – Photographer and Videographer for The GAT – What’s in his kit bag?

Wilkinson Cameras ambassador James Rushforth has written four guidebooks in the past decade covering photography, ski mountaineering, rock climbing and via ferrata. He is currently finalising his next project, a photo location guidebook to Iceland for publisher fotoVUE.

Recently home from Iceland and writing from quarantine in Worcester, we asked him to share his experiences with book publishing and talk us through the process.

What you read and the images you see next may just have you reaching for your credit card and booking flights as soon as lockdown is over!

Ten years ago I agreed to write a rock climbing guidebook to the Dolomites for British publisher Rockfax. Shelling out £390 for my first camera (I paid less for my first car – were photographers all mad?) I bought a little Canon G12 and have never looked back. Which is not to say it has always been plain sailing, but it has been an experience.

I’ve tried to keep the following as succinct as possible, glossing over some of the more mundane economic considerations and focusing on the photographic side. I hope the article gives a little honest insight into guidebook writing, both the good and bad.

Logistical Considerations

This stage is key and there are some essential questions to ask before making a start in earnest.

• Are you going to work for a publisher or self publish?
• If the guidebook is a commercial enterprise is there a valid market? If so, will the market still exist by the time the book gets finished?
• Do you have time?
• Can you afford it?

Obviously the answers to these questions will vary depending on personal circumstances and the proposed project. For my part I’ve always worked for a publisher, which provides a certain level of security while alleviating some of the printing, advertising and shipping responsibilities associated with self publishing.

Certainly in my experience, writing a book always takes much longer than you think: come up with a timeline and then double it. For example, this current guide to Iceland contains 150 locations, with each location requiring an average of 4 images. That means I have to get 600 unique high quality images before I even consider the introductory material. Even if I were to average one print-worthy photo a day (which is nearly impossible – especially given the weather in Iceland), it would mean two years full time work before making a start on the text.

Then there are the finances to consider. My current expenses for Iceland are in the region of £20k, and that’s living out of a van and living as frugally as possible. Depending on the success of the book this can mean you’ve got several years to wait before you break even. In my experience guidebooks are profitable, but only in the long term. When I first started I took out a loan to cover the expenses, and now previous guidebooks cover the costs of the new ones.

Planning

Considering all of the above, it’s worth creating a quick mockup of how you envisage the pages looking. This invariably raises more important questions and allows a rough page count to be determined. Thought needs to be given to the book size, shipping costs and binding strength.

Gathering Content

Then it’s time to start gathering the content, always the best bit of any project! The key is to be organised and methodical from the start.

• Record everything – You can never have too much information. Voice notes are an excellent way of recording exactly what you see; these can be typed up or referred to later. Geotagging images with GPS data is really useful for later reference. Many cameras have this function built in, or if not a GPS unit can be added, or the camera can be paired with a mobile phone.
• A map is a great visual reference – I create a custom google map and log locations I’ve visited, colour coding them according to chapter and quality. This allows me to see if I’ve under-represented any areas and helps plan the next day’s photos according to location. It also makes driving and navigation easier.

• Organise your images carefully using cataloguing software of your choice. Be sure to keyword your images and use a logical filing structure. A quick and efficient method of finding a desired image will save so much time in the future.

• Plan your locations – Maximising time and stacking the odds in your favour for a desired shoot location is important for maximising efficiency. Use software such as the Photographer’s Ephemeris, PhotoPills or SkySafari to plan for the best light and important celestial events.

• Scout the locations in advance – There’s nothing worse than stumbling about in the dark looking for a foreground as the aurora goes crazy over your head. Get to locations early or use bad weather days to do some location research before the stars quite literally align.

• Mix it up – Today the potential audience for anyone reading your books is broad, leading to a very eclectic range of photographic tastes and preferences. Try and mix up your image styles, techniques, subjects and processing to reflect this. If nothing else it might inspire someone to try something new.

• Think in three dimensions – Love or loathe them, the advent of drone technology has fundamentally changed the way we perceive photography. What would previously have been a £8k helicopter flight in Iceland can now be achieved multiple times with less than £1k worth of equipment. The technology is particularly good for guidebooks as it allows you to capture orientation style shots to aid navigation. Writing the Dolomites climbing guidebooks I frequently ascended mountains on the opposite side of the valley to get the crag shots I needed, whereas now you could simply fly a drone up from below. What took weeks would now take days.

• Buy a van – Okay, so you don’t have to buy a van, though it definitely helps! The ability to travel, cook and sleep under your chosen location makes getting the images you need much easier and that sunrise start becomes considerably less arduous.

 

Book Design and Layout

Some publishers will request the written text and images before laying out the book for you. Personally I much prefer doing this myself, then you’re involved in all stages of production. For all three publishers I’ve worked for, Adobe InDesign is the software of choice as it links so well with Lightroom, Photoshop and Illustrator for cataloguing, image editing, map and symbol creation.

Much like photography, designing a book is all about colour palettes that work together, interesting compositions, symmetry, variety and juxtaposition.

I won’t go into all the tedious details of writing except for the following quick tips:

• Try to avoid leaving all the writing until the end as it becomes a daunting task. Better to chip away at it slowly.
• Find yourself a good copy editor.
• Be patient: don’t think of the project as a whole as it’s daunting and instead take it one page at a time.
• Try and keep social media interest going. Schedulers like Planoly for Instagram are great as you can spend a day organising your social media posts for the next three months and then largely forget about it.

A few frequently asked questions…

Do you recommend guidebook writing as a career?

It’s lovely work, you get to travel frequently and spend time fully exploring beautiful corners of the world. You also get something tangible to show for all the hard work at the end. But you also have to make sacrifices. I’ve spent the last 10 years living out of a van, which is great when the weather is good, but less enjoyable when you’re stuck in a 2x5m area on the eighth consecutive day of rain. Or digging yourself out of yet another snow drift. Such a transient lifestyle also makes for a tough social life – you build up a great friendship network only to move on again. Of course, the dream is to write a guidebook from your home address!

Is guidebook writing an economically viable career?

A good question that’s difficult to answer. Certainly in my experience it’s a good supplementary income but I’d personally struggle to live off the royalties full time. I also lead photographic workshops, sell prints and do some guiding. I’ve found that to be a good combination that keeps me on my toes and gives me good work variety.

What camera equipment do you use?

I’ve never got particularly excited about camera gear, I like taking photos. Some of the best work I’ve seen on my workshops have been taken by guests using mobile phones. Artistic creativity and a good eye will always trump expensive equipment. Working in Iceland the Arctic and at the top of mountains frequently my primary consideration is durability, it doesn’t matter how good the image quality is if it doesn’t take pictures when I need it to.

I’m currently using:

Cameras:
Nikon D810 with Kirk BL-D800 L-Bracket
Nikon D850 with Kirk BL-D850 L-Bracket
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Lenses:
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 20mm f1.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 II AF-S VR ED G Lens
Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens

Converters:
Nikon TC-14E AF-S Teleconverter III
Nikon TC-20E AF-S Teleconverter III

Tripod:
Gitzo GT3542LS Series 3 6X Systematic Tripod
Induro BHL1 Ball Head

I’m interested in writing a book, where do you recommend starting?

I think creating a photo book of one of your recent trips is a great place to start. If you enjoy the experience of whittling down your images, editing and creating a visual story then you can think more seriously about a bigger project.

If not, you’ll still have a nice photo book to show for your efforts!

Wilkinson Cameras has an excellent range of photobook options that are available to browse if you’re feeling inspired and want to get started with creating your very own photo book.

Enjoyed this feature?

If you would like to know more or get in touch with James you can visit his website.

James also has one of the most inspiring Instagram feeds we’ve seen – though we warn you it may give total wanderlust frustration at this time of temporary lockdown!

James was the overall winner of the Digital Splash Photographer of the Year Award 2018. He also won the Digital Splash Landscape Photographer of the Year and Digital Splash Sports Photographer of the Year categories in 2018.

 

 

 

Hey all! Andrew from Wilkinson Cameras. If there’s one thing that’s keeping a lot of people going during this pandemic, it’s their pets.

Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or anything in between (no judgment to pet rock owners either), they all have one thing in common: they make excellent portrait subjects!The pro pet photographers among us like Elke Vogelsang (@wieselblitz) make this unpredictable and fast moving art look very easy.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

1.    Patience is key

First and foremost, unless you are shooting our previously mentioned pet rock, patience is going to be absolutely key for everything we do with pet photography.

When photographing your own pet, unless they’re incredibly well trained and will sit and look directly into your lens on command, it will pay to just sit there and wait. Maybe wait some more. And play!

Don’t try and force any situations, let them come naturally. This also ties in to relaxing. If you’re becoming frustrated trying to capture that perfect moment, your subject will most definitely start reflecting that as well! Introduce the camera as part of your usual array of toys and treats, it’ll become a much less foreign object and something the subject can be more natural around.

 

2.    Get down (and dirty!)

Shooting from the level of the pet is crucial. Or shooting from unusual angles??

Portrait 101 is focus on the eyes, and this is also true for pet portraits! Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule, getting down to your subject’s eye level creates a much, much more personal pet portrait. It brings out your pet’s personality, and highlights a more intimate perspective from their point of view. (Who wouldn’t want to be a dog, right?)

To ensure you’re making the eyes pop, think about what gear you’re shooting on. If you’re using one of our supported Sony cameras, check out our video on animal eye af which makes this job a lot easier!

Other great cameras that come with animal detection or tracking include the Panasonic Lumix G9 and the Nikon Z7 

One trick that Elke uses, is squeakers and toys. You can download a pet squeak soundboard onto your smartphone, and capture the moment as you press it. If you’ve ever seen any of her work, you’ll notice some of the incredible expressions that she captures, and this is one of those little handy tricks!

If your camera doesn’t have animal eye af, use single point AF and move the focal point over your pets eyes!

3.    Camera settings

Aperture, shutter speed and ISO serve a very specific function during a pet photoshoot! If you’re used to shooting in auto and you’re not overly familiar with your camera settings, this will be especially useful.

For static pet shots, where you’ve got them to sit, stand, stay then it’s a little more straightforward.

A great place to start if you’re new to customising your settings is Aperture Priority, or AV. This will give you a lot more control when it comes to the depth of field of your shot, especially while shutter speed isn’t necessarily as crucial .

If on the other hand you’re shooting some action shots, maybe you’re playing fetch with your dog, switch your camera over to shutter priority mode, or TV in order to ensure you freeze the action perfectly.

If you’re experienced in sports photography, you’ll be at home here, otherwise, the minimum I would shoot a pet at is 1/250, light allowing of course, but ideally you want to be shooting even faster than that.

Make sure your camera is on continuous shooting, or if you’re shooting on something like an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark iii, using procapture here is an absolute life saver. More about this over here, presented by me! 

Contrary to what I said earlier about focus, sometimes, it’s not as easy as plopping a focal point down.

If you’re shooting some fast moving action, continuous or tracking AF should be used here to avoid any soft images.

 

4.    Candid vs Posed

Candid pictures are all about capturing your pet’s natural behavior and personality, where as posed is all about the beauty of the shot (and subject!)

When shooting candid portrait, it’s all about knowing your subject and what they like to do.

If you know that when you take your dog to the river/pond that they’re prone to diving straight in, be ready! A good telephoto lens equipped with some kind of OIS or IBIS is golden for this situation.

On the other hand, if you have a rather lazy cat who is prone to sleeping, everywhere, then setting up a miniature hide near some natural light is ideal. Consider using a reflector to help boost the light inside your home as well. Something like a Lastolite Sunlite reflector is ideal. Not too big though, you don’t want them thinking there’s an alien invasion.

With candid images, it’s all about being prepared, making sure that your camera is ready to go at a moments notice, charged, setting prepared, ideally with a good strap or sling attached to it. We have a range of great straps here.  I personally use the Peak Design Clutch Hand Strap as I’m known for flinging my camera about.

5.    Limber up

This isn’t so much of a photography tip, as it is a lockdown lifestyle tip.

While we’re in lockdown, it’s easy to not workout or even just exercise like you normally would, cycling or walking to work.

If you’ve ever watch an animal or child photographer working, you’ll notice a lot of bending, twisting and turning (that is definitely not ideal on my knees). This is usually achieved from stretching before hand.

As we said earlier, eye level is important, and unless you don’t mind lying face down in the dirt, a little flexibility can go a long way.

Try some yoga during your working from home lunch breaks, or even just some body weight workouts!

CreativeLive has a dedicated yoga for photographers class here, Yoga for Photographers by Vanessa Joy

A little trick that can be used is a blanket or towel that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy on the bottom.

This can also double up as a great way to dry anything you’ve let your dog play with, or keep your gear clean!

 


 

Let us know if this helped you, we love being tagged in your best pet photos on our Instagram and Twitter.

As always, the Wilki Team is still available online and on the phone if you need any product information or advice (01772 252 188)

Stay safe and have fun,

Andrew

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Wilkinson Cameras ambassador, astrophotographer Alyn Wallace, has kindly written a blog post sharing his top 10 backyard astrophotography ideas for lockdown with us. Check out Alyn Wallace’s website and find him on social: 

With many of us stuck in lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation, I thought I’d share 10 ideas for astrophotography that you can do from home, even if you live in a light polluted town or city. If there’s  one thing that this pandemic has taught us it’s that we’re all in this together and astrophotography and astronomy only help to solidify that sense of unification. We all live under the same Sun, the same Moon, the same planets and the same stars. People stuck at home all over the world have a chance to photograph the same subjects and share their images with each other. This borderless aspect of astronomy is one of the reasons I love it.

1. Light Painting with Sirius

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and can be seen from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. At the moment it’s in the south-west after sunset and sets in the west later in the evening (though don’t confuse it with the brighter Venus). Once you’ve located it you’ll notice that it twinkles quite profoundly, especially when it’s low on the horizon and its light becomes more disturbed by the turbulent layers in Earth’s atmosphere in a process known as stellar scintillation.

You can use this twinkle for creative artistic effect. Put Sirius in the frame, make sure it’s slightly out of focus to accentuate its twinkle and flickering colours, and then intentionally move your camera during a long exposure to light-paint with it. Or check out the example above where astronomer Steve Brown arranged multiple photos of an out of focus Sirius in an almost pop-art fashion.

2. Moon Photography

No matter how much light pollution there is in your area it will never wash out the Moon! It also opens up a whole host of different photographic opportunities. You could should a wide-angle shot and include some foreground interest. Or it’s a great excuse to whip out the telephoto lens and get a better view of the surface details. Crescent moons and full moons are particularly good for a telephoto shot as they are low on the horizon during the twilight hours. Or, you could try a HDR shot and combine 2 exposures for the illuminated side and dark side.

3. Planets

Planets, unlike the stars, reflect the light of our Sun and are much more visible in light polluted areas. At the moment you’ll spot Venus shining insanely bright in the western skies and it will be around until about May. If you have a south-eastern view then you can also spot Jupiter, Saturn and Mars together in the dawn skies.

4. Star Trails

Even if you can’t see that many stars in the sky you’ll be surprised at how many your camera will pick up. You can do star trails even if you live in London! Take multiple exposures of 20-30 seconds, set the ISO to 800 and adjust your aperture until you have a good overall exposure, but don’t over-expose! Leave a 1-2 second interval in between the shots you take. If you have a new camera and a good spec SD card then you can get away with 1 second, but if you have an older camera or a low-end SD card then go for 2-3 seconds. There’s nothing worse than missing an exposure and having a big gap between your trails. Talking of gaps, you can stack all the exposures in the free software StarStax which has a gap-filling mode, nice!
If your camera doesn’t have a built-in intervalometer I recommend the Pixel TW-283 for reasons I explain in the video above. Also, it may be worth putting a lens warmer on to prevent any condensation forming on the front glass element. There’s nothing worse than coming back to find hundreds of photographs of a foggy lens!

5. Shoot A Timelapse

In a similar fashion to star trails, you can shoot multiple exposures using an intervalometer and turn the images into a timelapse video. In order to get smooth motion you need the video to playback at least 24 frames per second, so every 24 images you take will equate to 1-second of footage. In the tutorial video I posted on YouTube you’ll see that I used the same frames from the star trail image to create a timelapse video.
There are many ways you can stitch your images into a timelapse and you can find tonnes online but I’ll be sharing my own tutorial on YouTube very soon so make sure to subscribe to my channel if you don’t want to miss out on that.

6. International Space Station and Starlink Satellites

It’s worth keeping an eye out for any International Space Station flyovers for your location. My favourite app is ISS Detector as it gives you a nice star map showing you how the path will look for your exact location. You could also capture an image of the SpaceX StarLink satellites although that’s a very touchy and controversial subject for astronomers and astrophotographers at the moment. To keep an eye out for those I recommend Heavens Above.
If you’re lucky there may even be an ISS transit of the Moon or the Sun for your location too.

7. Bokeh Stars

If there’s not that many stars in sight then one way to accentuate them is to focus on the foreground, so that the stars turn into large bokeh balls. It helps to have a bit of a longer focal length here, something between 50-135mm. Although you can do this technique with 20-24mm lenses too, just be sure to be nice and close to your foreground subject. The technique is easy, just focus on your foreground subject.

8. Constellations

Constellation photography in dark sky locations can actually be quite difficult. Your camera picks up so many smaller stars that the constellation gets lost in the chaos. A little bit of light pollution or moonlight, however, washes away the smaller stars and helps the conspicuous constellations to stand out. Use an app like Stellarium to locate them. Some of the most obvious right now are Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, and Leo.

9. Pinhole Solar Photography (Solar Can)

You could try your hand at making your own pinhole camera, or you could buy a ready-made one from SolarCan. Just set it up outside facing the Sun, peel off the black tab to unveil the pinhole and then leave it for at least a week. The resulting image on the film inside the can shows the path of the sun over an extreme long exposure image. I’m going to leave mine outside for the duration of the lockdown here in the UK. Then the image will serve as a quarantine souvenir!

10. Deep Space Astrophotography

You may be quite surprised at how good a result you can get out of deep space astrophotography in light polluted areas. With the right light pollution filter you can really hone in on your distant target and if you have an astro modified camera you could even do some narrowband astrophotography. Whilst I dabble in deep space astrophotography, I’m no expert, which is why you should check out some of the YouTube channels listed below:
Astro Backyard
Peter Zelinka
Dylan O’Donnell

BONUS: Edit Your Past Images

You may have plenty of images sitting in your archive that are still waiting to be edited. Or how about going over past images to see how your editing has improved. As a bonus, my Astro Workflow Lightroom Presets are currently on sale during lockdown. See how they can improve your workflow and take your images to the next level.

Hey everyone! Andrew from Wilkinson Cameras. The current situation is far from ideal,  and I’m going to try help you make the most of being stuck indoors.

Food, to me, is one of the simplest but most enjoyable pleasures in life. I love to cook, for myself, for friends and for family. Something that a lot of people don’t tend to remember is that ‘we eat with our eyes’, and this is very true, especially when it comes to food photography.

We want whoever is seeing this picture to taste the food without even coming close to it! So with that being said, here are my 4 simple techniques for better food photography at home!

 

1.    Plating

‘Steak’ Nic Taylor Photography/DSA ’19 Food Winner

This isn’t necessarily a photography tip in the way we would normally talk about ISO, composition etc, but more about making sure the subject looks as stunning as possible.

Making sure we use the right plate, bowl or eating receptacle. You know the kind. A steak that’s plated on a wood plank.

A white plate is the standard for a blank canvas of food, and this is of course my immediate recommendation for most dishes, but if you want to feel a little more creative, here is a little list I’ve put together for plate colour vs food type:

  • Green foods (Salads, pesto, certain pastas) – Yellow plate
  • Beige/brown foods (Chicken, Potato) – Black or dark brown plate
  • Red foods (Beef, tomato, red wine sauce dishes) – White plate
  • Desserts (Any dessert) – Colour match the garnish (Cherry, red. Caramel, brown)

Now that we have plate colour out of the way let’s talk about the rest of the plating.

Make sure, where possible and applicable, to include your cutlery. Cutlery in food photography gives the dish a certain grounded reality, and it gives the viewer the sense that they can dive straight into the dish.

Break down the dish in the foreground or background. Have you cooked a steak with thyme in the oil? Have a bundle of thyme in the background. Chilli flakes, lemon/lime slices in the foreground or background for Asian/Mexican dishes is perfect.

Garnish as if this plate was being presented to Michelin reviewers, and garnish with colour. Topping proteins with sprigs of basil, rosemary or topping a sauce with finely chopped herbs brings an element of colour to a dish.

Accessories – linens, cutlery, glasses, ceramics etc unusual accessories that add character

2.    Use a tripod to experiment with height

A good tripod can make or break pretty much every photographic situation and food photography is no different!

Experiment with height in your shots because a lot of food can only be truly perceived from above.

Think about it, when you’re in a restaurant you eat from above, not parallel to the table! This of course translates beautifully to our photography. Think of dishes like tacos, cakes, pizza or anything that either opens up from the top or is garnished on top.

You can then use this to create different layers, use a chopping board or a cake stand to create depths from the table it’s being presented on. Adding height creates a natural frame that can be worked with, especially when shot straight on.

If you’re not shooting directly from above, it’s also important to think of your background. Using layers as well as our accessories can create the depth that we’re looking for.

Manfrotto BeFree GT XPro Carbon Tripod is perfect for this as it easily allows you to create depth in the shot with a sturdy base and tight locking system for its tilt and pan. The extending arm that provides horizontal depth is perfect for shooting top down also.

3.    Lighting

Edgar Castrejon/Unsplash

Lighting food properly is absolutely key when it comes to showcasing textures and colours of dishes.

Lighting from the side is my starting point, as this is the easiest, and most general way to bring out the texture in food. This is especially true for bread and meat. If you’re trying to shoot something with a lot of textures: Sandwiches, burgers or pittas. This can be especially useful.

Diffuse your light! Softening or diffusing your light. Using a soft box or a reflector should help, this makes sure that you avoid any harsh shadows or miscolouring’s of food.

Phottix Raja Quick-Folding Softbox

Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2

Lastolite Reflector 50cm

If you’re using natural light, make sure you modify it. This is easily done by using a reflector, and this will easily improve any shot. You can also make use of the reflector to block any light from blowing up a part of your image that you wouldn’t want doing so!

Rotolight Neo-2 LED Continuous Light

This continuous light, with the option to use as a flash is perfect for using as the direct light on your subject.

4.    Editing

Now, if we’ve done everything we can while shooting, editing should be pretty easy! But there are a few things we can do to maximise what we’ve captured.

First, we could look at sharpening the picture.

This would give the edges of what you’ve shot, more definition and truly make it pop. Use the sharpen tool in whichever editing software you like, and play around with the different levels. See what works, and ask a friend to see what they think also.

Something that I’ve learnt in my time at Wilkinson HQ is the power of cropping. (Thanks Alex!)

Making sure that your image is straight is the first key part to a good crop. So make sure that horizon line is straight, and tilt it as you see fit. Next, find an aspect ratio you like. If it’s for Instagram, try a square aspect ratio, it usually helps with a universal viewing experience on all devices.

Make sure your white balance is how you’d like it, of course, it’s always good to have this done this before hand using the camera’s software, but if not, we can still fix it.

White balance CAN be used creatively, warm tints for homely dishes, cooler tones for a more ‘pro’ feel.

Finally, ‘HSWB’ or highlights, shadows, whites and blacks!

Curves tool in Photoshop

This tool will allow you to completely control the contrast and tones of the image, and is generally down to you and how you feel your aesthetic can be. You can also use this to correct over exposure, and sometimes even under exposure.


So that’s it!

I hope you enjoy your food photography endeavors and remember, the Wilki Team is still available online and on the phone if you need any product information or advice (01772 252 188)

Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram if you’ve taken a particularly good one, especially some cake!

Stay safe,

Andrew

 

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Welcome to the final part (for now!) of our lockdown special.

Today we are going to think about the professional photographers out there – the guys and girls you look to for inspiration and adventure. Those who inspire, share, educate and capture our most precious moments.

Right now we’re all in the same boat – and it’s not sailing. Anywhere. Flights are cancelled, travel is prohibited, sporting events, weddings and family celebrations are all on hold.

For many of the full time photographers out there, the halt in income was instant. Commissions and workshops cancelled, bookings made months and even years in advance, gone.

We are super proud to see that many have risen to new challenges – taking photography tutorials on line, offering advice on coping with isolation in these difficult times and sharing their knowledge for free. Some have taken their workshops online too, with longer term courses now available to stream.

So we thought, as our final piece in this series, we should all look at ways in which we can support our favourite photographers during this period of uncertainty – and help everyone stay positive and healthy during this unprecedented time.

Buy a print, poster or card

Most professional photographers sell their images in some format. For some it’s a range of beautiful prints including investment pieces, limited edition prints, open prints and poster editions. Others may sell a wider range of cards or gifts featuring their work.

If you can spare the money right now, buy an image that will bring you joy, while supporting the photographers whose work you most admire. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

Buy their book or calendar

Many professional photographers also have their own books – many of which are self-published, meaning a massive personal investment in time and money to fulfill these projects.

Books are a lovely way to access a collection of images, often finding out more regarding how the images were captured, or the stories they tell. Buying direct from the photographers not only means they get to keep more of the profit, but also means you can often get a signed copy. Sometimes these can even include a personal handwritten message – so perfect to cherish, or as a gift. Many photographers are also running discounts at the moment, so you could save some money on a planned purchase.

Calendars (yes, some 2021 calendars are already out there!!) also make great gifts and you can enjoy a collection of images, with seasonal inspiration each month.

Book a workshop

Oh man, how we are dreaming of all those beautiful places we went to, or were planning to go to! One thing we do know is that we won’t always be in lockdown and hopefully we will soon be able to start planning photo adventures once more.

Got your eye on a particular workshop for next year? Why not book it now. Pay the deposit and have something amazing to look forward to! During this ‘downtime’ many photographers are taking advantage of the extra time to plan and add even more new exciting workshops for 2021 and beyond – many offering brand new locations.

Book that shoot!

Ever fancied that family portrait shoot, a bit of beautiful boudoir, an engagement shoot or whimsical woodland styled shoot? Whatever takes your fancy, we will all be ready for some fun when this lockdown is over!

Now is the perfect opportunity to research the ideal photographer for you and book that shoot. Photographers will currently have more time to discuss ideas, locations and help ensure you get the perfect pictures when the time comes.

Buy a voucher

If you can’t afford a whole shoot or trip, consider buying a voucher towards one. Then you still have plenty of time to save up and you’ll already have a little ‘in the bank’ to help when it comes to time to book. Vouchers are perfect gifts too – so think about any special events coming up, eg. Birthdays, Fathers Day or anniversaries.

Like, share and comment on social media feeds

One thing you can do to really help your favourite photographers, which won’t cost you a penny is to like, share and comment on their social media posts to aid with engagement.

Social media platforms are always changing the rules of engagement (literally!) and by liking, commenting or sharing someone’s work, you can really help them to reach more people and grow their business. Most business pages also have the option to ‘Invite Your Friends’ – check it out and see if you can help spread the word and visual joy at the same time!

Plan ahead

Now, with all that’s going on with the current pandemic, we’re almost a bit reluctant to mention the other C-word…Christmas! (Duck for cover!) But, joking aside, if you decide to buy a book, print or any kind of gift now, once lockdown is over, you can be running around care free with your birthday and Christmas gifts already sorted. You’re welcome!

Share!

We’d love to know who your favourite photographers are and why? How did you discover them; what is it about their work that you love? Do you already have a beautiful framed print on the wall at home that makes you smile each day, or a book you revisit time and time again?

Why not hop on over to our Facebook page now and let us know who your favourite photographers are & why.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

These days, there are more ‘POTYs’ around than you can shake a tripod at – from Wildlife to Weddings, Landscape to Weather, Birds, Gardens, Dogs and just about everything in between.

Within each, is normally a wide range of categories – giving flexibility and opportunity for pretty much every photographer. With many having junior categories too, it could be a perfect project with which to get the young photographers in the house involved.

So why not revisit your archives – even re edit past images and see which award categories might be best to enter? Many awards have some tasty cash prizes, as well as great kit up for grabs, the chance for your work to be included in exhibitions and even books, celebrating the winners’ work.

The process itself is also very useful – looking at each category, identifying pictures that fit the brief, following the rules (careful how you edit, or when the image was shot etc!) and really focusing on your best work. This in itself is a great skill to hone!

As well as the big national and international awards, also check out your local camera club to see if any regular competitions are now running online. The physical meet ups are obviously on hold, but there’s a ‘boom in Zoom’ and other online broadcast apps, which allow you to participate in all sorts include online classes and tutorials.

Organisations such as the Royal Photographic Society also run competitions as well as qualifications you can work towards!

Competition Inspiration

Here are just a few ideas to get you started – some of the deadline dates are soon, so if there’s something that takes your photographic fancy, get cracking and don’t miss your chance to shine!

A few of the awards are ‘on hold’ due to the current pandemic, but you can still browse the winners’ galleries from previous years, perfect for some inspiration (and truly amazing photography). Most will allow you to register your details – so you’re first to know when entries re-open.

Landscape Photographer of the Year – deadline just extended until 10 May 2020, go go, go!

Minimalist Photography Awards – deadline 25th May 2020.

Garden Photographer of the Year – entry deadline 31st October 2020, with several mini competitions in the meantime.

Bird Photographer of the Year – entries now closed for this one, but amazing back catalogue to enjoy. Finalists announced on 1st April 2020, overall results 22nd Aug 2020.

Sony World Photography Awards – entries re-open 1st July 2020.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year – The touring exhibition may be on hold, but a truly spectacular collection of images to view and inspire.

Dog Photographer of the Year – Amazing galleries of one of our favourite pet subjects. Join the mailing list to find out when the next competition opens.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

International Wedding Photographer of The Year – register now for new dates. Browse previous winners and find out more about the images.

British Photography Awards (IPA) – Check out the winners’ galleries here and register for when entries re-open.

IPA – International Photography Awards

So plenty to ponder, lots to inspire!

Why not challenge yourself to do your first award entry this month? As they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it – and many a professional photography career has been launched off the back of an award win.

Good luck!

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Our kit is in order, our creative juices are bubbling over and we’re primed to get out shooting pictures in our gardens, within our homes and even getting the kids involved for some fun home portraits.

But, do you still have that niggling feeling of knowledge gaps or things we simply could do better?

If you have extra time on your hands, now is the time to upgrade those skills – and with many training businesses, software companies and pro’s offering to share their expertise for FREE, go for it!

We touched on magazines and reading material in our previous blog – but now’s the ideal time to revisit those photography books on the shelf or support your favourite pro photographer by purchasing their publications.

Many pro photographers are finding themselves in a zero work/income situation, with commissions cancelled for the foreseeable future. Many are still selling their books though – directly or through the likes of Amazon (other book sellers are available!). Consider supporting your favourite photographers if you can – and gain a beautiful book at the same time.

Software

Intimidated by Photoshop? Baffled by Lightroom? Always fancied taking the time to create your own presets? Need to improve your workflow? Yep, you guessed it – now is the time!

Many of the software providers are running special or free offers – changing regularly, but here are a few available at the time of writing this:

Professional Photographers of America has opened up all of its online tutorials for FREE!

For existing Creative Cloud customers it looks like you can now get 2 months free of charge.

Adobe offers 7-day free trials on all of its software – from Photoshop, Lightroom or full Creative Cloud/All App packages.

Affinity Photo

Affinity, by Serif, is a more recent competitor to Adobe. They now offer a range of options including Affinity Photo, their PhotoShop alternative.
You can trial it free of charge for 90 days and if you like it, you pay a one-off fee of £48.99 (though at the time of writing this is 50% off at just £23.99).

Editing Tools

While you’re honing your creative skills, it may be a great time to improve your editing workflow setup too. Adding a graphics tablet will give you more flexibility when it comes to editing. With a little extra time on your hands, now is a perfect time to learn how best to use one too.

Wacom tablets start from as little as £69.99 for an entry level option such as the Wacom Intuos Small. Browse our range of Wacom editing devices and see why other photographers use them in this video:

Sell Your Images

Websites helping you to sell your photography are constantly running offers of up to 40% off (varies depending on package) for example, check out one of the most popular providers: Zenfolio. And once you’ve honed those skills, for those of you with websites, strike while the iron is hot. Do those updates now, add your best images, add new work and blog about the projects you’ve been working on. More people than ever are likely to be looking right now!

Use this time to really evolve and develop your unique style – showcase your own work and try new things.

Dream BIG!

And finally, we all need to dream during this difficult time! Planning your next trip not only gives you something to look forward to, but also gives you plenty more to do.

Whether it’s researching your next exotic location, or revisiting a place within the UK (doesn’t everything feel just that bit more precious right now?!), sit back and imagine yourself there.

Logistically there are plenty of apps available to help you plan your next trip too, including sunrise/sunset times and info, tide times, moon phases and astro related planning tools just to name a few.

Landscape Photography

For landscape photography, Baxter Bradford has been kind enough to share his go-to Apps for planning locations. Baxter has an extensive collection of stunning landscape work, also available as prints – so, if you’re spending time at home improving your interiors, check out his gallery of images!

“I use The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) for sun angles and times at different locations, plus tide information from the BBC website.

For general weather conditions I use several, including BBC, Met Office Apps, plus two free Apps which I find really useful:

WeatherRadar, which gives forecast, but I mostly use it to track predictions on cloud cover. Saved me a few journeys, does change pretty rapidly at times if weather systems are unstable.

Also really useful is Clear Outside, you can save locations, gives detailed weather information in tabulated format, incredibly useful to see high, medium & low level cloud percentages. If fair amount if high level cloud, then colourful sunrise/sunset is coming. Also gives humidity & whether mist present. For Surf predictions I use Magic Seaweed.

I also use my iPhone compass feature to check bearings on location.”

All this planning (and a lot of time and dedication) goes into making Baxter’s awe inspiring landscape images.

Astro Photography

For night sky fans, Wilki Ambassador Alyn Wallace gives us his recommendations for the best smartphone apps, when it comes to Astro photography. Check out this vlog where Alyn walks you through his night sky favourites.

Never before, as photographers, have we been able to enjoy such an extensive range of (mostly free) resources. So enjoy your planning, stay safety tucked up at home for now, and hopefully we will all be out in our beautiful great outdoors again very soon.

In the meantime keep an eye on our social media channels for the latest photography news and special offers.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Now that you have your photographic house in order, your sensors are sparkling and your batteries are charged (having read Part 1 of our blog series, obviously!!) it’s time to get those creative juices flowing!

Now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in all things creative – catch up with your favourite magazines, professional photographers, blogs, vlogs, product news and reviews. You could even read your camera manual! (Although, we can think of about 157 more interesting things to suggest!)

With so much free content now available online – make the most of any spare time you might now have to read, watch, learn and hone those skills for when we can all venture out again!

Online Content

There is an absolute plethora of free online content – whether you want to learn new techniques, work on your understanding of the craft of photography (we’ll be testing you on those f-stops later!), read about photography adventures in exotic locations, or learn how to shoot more in your own back yard.

Whether its wedding or wildlife, landscapes or sport, there’s always something to learn or be inspired by. The toughest question is where to start!

Traditional photography magazines have evolved immensely – whether you look at the print editions or the digital versions. Lots of content is free, or you can treat yourself to a subscription and browse until your heart’s content.

Current editions are great for seasonal photography tips, the most popular genres, interesting features and interviews – while each generally contains editing tutorials, creative project ideas and objective gear reviews amongst a huge range of other photography news and info.

Here are a few suggestions to get you going (other magazines are available!!):

Note: Many have special offers running at the moment when you can buy 5 editions for £5 (digital or some print).

N-Photo (for the Nikon users)

Photo-Plus (for the Canon fans)

Amateur Photographer

Digital SLR Photography

See here for a comprehensive range of photography publications available.

 

Podcasts

Podcasts are another great source of inspiration – and you can basically tune in, download or listen just about anywhere via your phone, tablet or computer. Listen to experts share their knowledge, experiences and generally be inspired!

A great idea with podcasts is to try listening to something completely out of your normal comfort zone – even someone you might not have heard of. Drop that virtual pin and tune in!

For those of you who enjoyed the talks by Paul Sanders at Digital Splash, Paul, together with his colleague Sam Gregory, host ‘The Togcast’.
It’s a bi-monthly free download.

Currently on episode 73, there’s loads to listen to – and a few recommended highlights include Alex Nail, Wilki Ambassador Alyn Wallace, Valda Bailey, Joe Cornish, David Ward, another Digital Splash favourite Jonathan Chritchley, Margaret Soraya, Lizzie Shepherd. Plus loads of others!

A Photographic Life

The ‘A Photographic Life’ Podcast is weekly, recorded in a shed(!) and lasts around twenty minutes. It is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all other podcast platforms and has just posted its 100th episode.

Each week photographer, writer, lecturer and filmmaker Grant Scott reflects on news, discussions, themes and issues surrounding the photographic community. Previous episodes have included David Bailey, Paolo Roversi, Brian Griffin, Brian Duffy, Mary Ellen Mark and many more.

Digital Camera World has also put together a great feature, which includes their ‘20 best podcasts for photographers in 2020’ . You’ll see a few names we’ve already mentioned, plus a whole host more!

Films and Vlogs

And finally, for now (this feature could go on for E-VER), if you’re looking for something different then these projects and short films could be perfect:

Film: Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life Of Bill Jay

Bill Jay was a photographer, a writer on and advocate of photography, a curator, a magazine and picture editor, lecturer, public speaker and mentor. He was the first editor of Creative Camera Owner magazine, which became Creative Camera magazine (1967–1969) and founder and editor of Album magazine (1970–1971). He established the first gallery dedicated to photography in the UK with the Do Not Bend Gallery, London and the first Director of Photography at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Whilst there he founded and directed the first photo-study centre. He studied at the University of New Mexico under Beaumont Newhall and Van Deren Coke and then founded the Photographic Studies programme at Arizona State University, where he taught photography history and criticism for 25 years. He is the author of more than twenty books on the history and criticism of photography, four books of his own photography, and roughly 400 essays, lectures and articles. His regular column titled Endnotes was published within Lenswork magazine for a number of years. His own photographs have been widely published, including a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Those are the facts, but Bill Jay was so much more than just the facts…

You can see it for free here!

Alyn Wallace

Yes, another one of our most popular Digital Splash speakers and host of our recent Astro Photography workshop up in north Wales, Alyn is a YouTube Vlogger extraordinaire! Check out Alyn’s YouTube Channel for some amazing content.

 

Andy Rouse – Wide Angle

We also spotted this great video from wildlife photography legend Andy Rouse – talking specifically about getting started in bird photography in your own garden, while under lockdown!  Definitely worth a watch! Part of his new series Wide Angle, over on YouTube.

PhotoBite Kids

PhotoBite UK is a YouTube Channel from a team of photographers, filmmakers, photo-journalists and tech geeks (their words, not ours!) bringing you reviews and news from the photo world. But, they’ve just announced their new offshoot – PhotoBite Kids.

In response to schools being closed ‘until further notice’, team PhotoBite is launching a twice-weekly photo challenge for children aged between 5-15, inviting them to explore photography and to introduce a little more creativity into the weekly home school schedule. Head over to their channel for more information or to get involved.

 

So that’s it for now, hopefully plenty of ideas of things to read, listen to and watch – all to help fuel your photographic aspirations once this difficult time is over!

In the meantime keep an eye on our social media channels for the latest photography news and special offers.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Without a doubt these are worrying times and we are in uncharted territory on just about every level.   But one thing we can still enjoy – even under lock down conditions – is our photography!

With a hobby that can be enjoyed in total isolation, at home as well as outdoors, there are still loads of things you can do, not only to keep shooting, but even improve your skills while we all have to hunker down and stay safe.

There’s also a lot of evidence to show that photography is great for your mental health too – so let’s make the most of what we can do, while we deal with the wider challenges we all face.

Over the next few days we’ll be making some suggestions of things to do, things to learn and read about, people to catch up with (virtually of course) – and how to make the most of any additional time you have.

Many of which are completely free as well!

 

So here we go with Day One…

 

Getting Your Kit in Order

flat lay of camera equipment

 

When did you last clean your kit properly and organise your camera cupboard or bag?  Now’s the time!

Often when we’re back from a trip or photo-shoot the camera gets left in the bag, and the excitement of the memory card takes over.  Now is the time to put that right and really give your kit the once over and a good clean:

  • Take all kit out and look at each piece individually – check for any damage and remove any obvious dirt or dust. For any serious mud, a soft damp (not wet!) cloth is ideal.  Or use a dust blower to remove finer dirt and debris.   Do NOT use compressed air inside your camera, as this can easily damage the sensor!
  • Next remove any filters from lenses and give both filters and optics a gentle clean too – use a soft lens cloth, or a lens cleaning solution kit. For more stubborn marks and smears on filters you can carefully wash them in a mild soap solution and leave to dry
  • Now consider your sensor – have a look at recent images to see if you can spot any dust. If you’re not sure, take a photo of a plain sheet of paper, or even a pure blue sky – and then carefully examine the image file (blow it up to view) and check for dust or debris
  • Sensor cleaning can be terrifying, but it needn’t be. There are step by step guides to help you, or all Wilkinson Cameras stores offer this as a service (please check the store opening information during the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Next, repack your kit ready for your next outing – or even better – put together a kit you can shoot your next mini project with, be that a still life in the house, macro, or wildlife in the garden (we’ll cover more on this in later posts!)

Once you’re happy that your kit is pristine and ready for action – don’t forget your memory cards and batteries!

Ensure everything is backed up from memory cards and then organise them ready to go for next time.   Need something to store them in?  Then take a look at our handy little cases and wraps, which protect your cards and keep them safe and clean.  Something like this is ideal as it’s weather and drop resistant!

Ensure all your batteries are freshly charged.

Finally – spend some time organising your hard drives and archives – get that workflow sorted!  Delete any old images you don’t need and free up space on hard drives and your computer.

 

Enjoy some creative space

Once all the housekeeping is done – sit back and enjoy some creative space!

Have a think about images you can share on social media, update your website and blog if you have one.  Consider creating a blog if you don’t!

Consider making prints to brighten your walls – we’re all going to be spending a lot of time at home over coming weeks!  Whether you print your own images or use online services – there’s an array of options available, and prints needn’t be expensive.  You can even print at home with printers available to suit any budget.

Design and print that photo book you’ve been meaning to do for years!

Check out our website for a massive range of printing and gift ideas, all of which can be ordered online and delivered to your door!

Now you have everything ready to go, stay tuned, as we’ll be giving you lots of ideas on how to stay positive about your photography and make the most of any additional spare time over the coming weeks.

In the meantime keep an eye on our social media channels for the latest photography news and special offers.

 


Useful products we’ve mentioned in this blog:

 


Keep in touch:

 

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Clive Nichols is one of the UKs foremost garden photographers and with over 95,000 images in his collection was named ‘Britain’s Best Garden Photographer’ by PhotoPlus Magazine.

With more than 30 years experience photographing gardens worldwide, we’re proud to have Clive as one of our Wilkinson Cameras ambassadors.

And as spring finally emerges from one of the most challenging winters on record, we caught up with Clive to see what this year holds and to find out more about his career to date and his enchanting garden and flower photography.

How did you get into garden photography?

I studied Geography at Reading University and worked in a restaurant whilst doing it so I thought I would be a chef – within 3 years I became head chef at an Italian restaurant but the hours nearly killed me!

So, overnight, I decided to become a travel photographer, as I loved taking pictures on my holidays. I just phoned up tourist boards and they gave me press trips – in the first year I went to Malta, The Falkland Islands and Japan but after a couple of years I realised that to make a living I would have to do something closer to home.

So again, I switched overnight to photographing flowers and gardens and never looked back. In 1994 I was asked to write and photograph a book for the Royal Horticultural Society on how to photograph plants and gardens and that really put me at the forefront of the genre.

After more than 30 years shooting flowers and gardens (and still going strong!) you must really love what you do – how do you keep your work fresh and evolving?

Actually quite easily – I love getting up early and getting to gardens for dawn or sunrise when no one is about – it is literally like being in heaven. Increasingly, I am travelling to gardens abroad as well – last year Greece, Morocco, Spain, France – and many of the gardens there have not really been photographed so they are new and exciting.

You have a very strong following on Instagram, with more than 65,000 followers. How have you grown (no pun intended!) such a lovely, engaged community?

Simple really – consistency – we’ve posted an image almost every day for the last two years. With each image I like to give a little information regards the location, the planting, opening times (where appropriate) for the gardens featured etc Many of the images featured are published in the key home and gardens magazines – so I include those details too in case people wish to read the full features.

We have the advantage of being able to draw on my vast collection of images to keep things fresh and seasonal. We’ve grown Instagram entirely organically – and that’s something we’re really proud of.

Do you always shoot in natural light, or do you use any lighting?

When shooting gardens I only use natural light – which is a challenge of course. A lot of photographers don’t realise how hard it is, landscape photography is easier believe me, because it doesn’t really move, whereas flowers blow around in the slightest breeze so you have to pick and choose your days.

If I am shooting plants indoors then I may use lighting – I have a very good lighting technician called Neil who is great because he has all the kit – tungsten and flash – so I can concentrate on the composition. Stephen Johnson of Copyright Image sometimes comes on shoots with me and I can tether my camera to his laptop so that the client can see the shots as I take them. I’m lucky to have a great team.

You run your own garden photography workshops and work closely with International Garden Photographer of the Year. What can guests expect from a garden photography workshops, are they suitable for all experience levels?

I am a judge as well for IGPOTY and yes, my workshops are good for anyone who owns a digital camera – I am not a particularly technical person so I use simple techniques really. I try and do as little post processing as possible and try and stay true to my subjects. Flowers are like humans really, they have character and personality, so the skill is to bring those out in the photograph. On the workshops we have early access to some amazing locations, so we can focus on capturing the best images in the best light possible. I’m always on hand to offer advice and help guests achieve the best images they can and my partner Annette usually helps out too.

You’ve photographed some absolutely incredible gardens, home and abroad, do you have a favourite and why?

My favourite is usually the one I am in at the time! But seriously, there are some amazing gardens as you say – in the UK I would have to say gardens like Malverleys, Wynyards Hall, Morton Hall and Pettifers, which is in my village. In Europe, I would say some of the French gardens are just mind blowing – Marqueysaac in the Dordogne for instance.

The garden I would most like to photograph – that I haven’t yet – is The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. From the photos I have seen of it, it just seems to sum up what Moorish Paradise gardens should look like.

A little bird told us that you’re working on a new book project at the moment – what can you tell us about that project or is it under wraps?!

Well it’s a book featuring the brilliant English Gardens that I have photographed in the last few years – there are over 30 in the book and it will be a big, coffee table book with loads of big pictures, which I think is what people want to see. The book is due to launch later this year.

I’ve also been working on a project with Woodmansterne – they are one of the best card producers in the country – we have just launched a new range of my images on greetings cards which are now available in store at John Lewis, W H Smith and Sainsburys.

You’ve been involved with International Garden Photographer of the Year Awards from the very start and the competition has really highlighted our beautiful landscapes and gardens worldwide. What advice would you give to anyone considering an entry?

I have, my wife Jane was one of the original founders of IGPOTY. I would encourage anyone to enter as long as they have an image or images that are top class – remember the competition is intense these days. There is now a really wide range of categories – so entrants should select their images carefully and as well as the creative elements should ensure they meet the brief for each award.

Another great thing about IGPOTY is there is the option to pay for an ‘Entry Review’ – where one of the judges looks at your images and gives specific feedback. This is very valuable for aspiring garden photographers and can provide valuable insight as to how to improve and develop.

The weather has been horrendous this winter – what would you say to aspiring garden photographers who want to get out shooting now and don’t want to wait until spring?

Winter is very difficult – I usually wait for frosty or snowy days and target gardens that look good at this time of year – generally one that have strong structure – hedges, statuary, walls, gates, topiary etc.

But there are also a lot of flowers at this time of year and increasingly the bigger gardens are planting areas that have good flower, stem or bark colour in the winter months.

What are your top tips for those just getting started?

Look at the very best photography of gardens and plants in magazines and books etc and try to understand why the images are being used. In most cases it is the light and composition, which works. (Clive’s Instagram is a great place to start!)

Quickfire questions:

Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
Trees or flowers? Flowers
Formal gardens or natural? Formal
Favourite flower to photograph? Tulip
Bluebells or Poppies? Poppies

What’s in Clive’s camera bag:

Canon EOS 5Ds R

Canon lenses:

TS-E 17mm F4L
TS-E 24mm F3.5L II
TS-E 45mm F2.8
EF 24-70mm F2.8 L II IS USM
EF 70-200mm F2.8 L III IS USM
EF 180mm F3.5L Macro

He also uses a Manfrotto tripod with a Gitzo Fluid head.

Do you have a ‘go to’ set up, or a favourite ‘must have’ piece of kit or accessory?

My go to lens is the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8, or if I am shooting flower portraits then my EF 180mm F3.5L Macro – all Canon lenses. Another absolute essential is a sturdy tripod in order to keep the camera still and maintain perfect sharpness in photos.

FREE Screen Wallpaper

Clive has generously added several images to his shop as ‘free wallpaper’– so for a daily burst of garden photography inspiration, pop on over here and download yourself a beautiful view!

To find out more about Clive’s beautiful photography, workshops and books, visit his website or check out his Instagram!

Following on from our interview with Jonathan Doyle – former Wilki employee and adventure film-maker – we caught up with Jonathan to find out how he decided to spend his Wilkinson sponsorship, which products he chose to take with him and why!

Having just completed the first leg of The Great Australian Triathlon (running across Tasmania!) Jonathan has already put the kit through its paces!

 

“We are so grateful for the support we have received so far in the preparation of The Great Australian Triathlon. It is been mind blowing to have 8 companies, both big and small, believing in our expedition and lending us their support.

Wilkinson Cameras in particular has been especially kind to me, keeping me in the Wilki family even after I had to leave my job in the Kendal store in order to head out on the TGAT2020 expedition. The company has provided some fantastic pieces of equipment allowing me to up my game for this trip.

I thought for those interested in camera nerdery, I’d spend a little time discussing how I chose the kit supplied by Wilkinson Cameras and why these items are important in the filming process.”

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Lens

“First of all, I chose a Sigma 16mm f1.4 lens for my Sony A6400 camera body. This system was originally destined to be my backup in case my Sony A7iii stopped working. However, it has since become the primary film camera for the kayaking team during their Bass Strait crossing to be used in conjunction with their selection of GoPro action cameras and also a Sony RX100 V. The lens is equivalent to 24mm in full-frame terms, giving me a nice wide cinematic feel to my shots. It is also fast, stopping down to f1.4, meaning it can handle reasonably low light situations without succumbing to excessive noise. Overall, while it is a prime, and thus has no zoom capabilities, it’s the perfect lens for the task in hand.”

GoPro Hero 8

“Secondly, I chose a GoPro Hero 8, the latest and most advanced action camera on the market. I wanted this for quick closeup ‘in the action’ shots, as well as it’s capability to shoot 4k at 60 frames per second, allowing me to shoot some tasty high-resolution slow motion footage.

The GoPro’s inbuilt image stabilisation has consistently impressed me and I have found it to be an invaluable item in my arsenal, with me using it far more than I originally expected. In addition, I also got the twin battery charger and spare battery for the Hero 8.”

Cokin Nuance Variable ND Filter

“The third item provided by Wilkinson Cameras was perhaps the most important of the lot: a Cokin Nuance variable ND filter. This is the number one item for any filmmaker as it allows you to reduce the amount of light entering the system while still being able to keep the aperture wide open, and as such achieve a nice shallow depth of field. A must for a bright sunny climate such as Australia!”

And finally, a Dead Cat!

“Not an actual dead cat, obviously! The final item on the list was a wind-stopper, known as a ‘dead cat’ for my Rode video pro shotgun microphone. Since I will be almost entirely filming outside, this has helped to reduce wind-noise interference, helping to improve the audio quality throughout.”

 

“I am incredibly grateful to Wilkinson Cameras for their generous contribution and I feel so very lucky to be the first person they have sponsored in this capacity, thank you!

Keep an eye out on my social media for more updates about the trip and my set up over the coming months.”

The Great Australian Triathlon website

Facebook

Jonathan’s Instagram

Ben’s Instagram

 

We’ll be keeping in touch with Jonathan on each leg of this epic adventure, including the next stage, kayaking across one of the most treacherous stretches of open water, the Bass Straight.

 

 

2020 is a huge year for former Wilki team member Jonathan Doyle, who worked at the Kendal store but has now left us to embark on the documentary film making trip of a lifetime.

Jonathan touched down in Australia on 29th December and had just a few days to acclimatize before starting filming for a ‘never before attempted’ feat of human endurance: the Great Australian Triathlon. A 600km run, followed by a treacherous 350k kayak across open ocean, and around 7000km of cycling (yes, seven thousand kilometres) to finish this epic endurance challenge.

Over the next 6 months – as Wilkinson Cameras first ‘Sponsored Project’ – we will be following the Jonathan’s adventures – plotting the team’s progress via social media and blog updates as the journey unfolds. Shooting both stills and moving images, Jonathan hopes to launch his full time documentary film making career following this ambitious next chapter.

Jonathan, 28, has been working part time in the Wilki store in Kendal alongside completing his PHD – while proving very successful at documentary film making in his spare time!

Jonathan first picked up a camera in 2016, a Nikon D3200, which he bought to go on a climbing trip in Tasmania. While on that holiday, he made a short video of his adventures, which, once edited, culminated in a 6-minute award winning film.

Having really enjoyed the film making process Jonathan summited his work ‘The Pommish Invasion’ to the Kendal Mountain Film Festival where it was shortlisted! Following this success it was subsequently recognised at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, ‘Goat Fest’ in Arapiles, Australia, before finally winning at the Cradle Mountain Film Festival in Tasmania 2017.

 

The film documents Jonathan and two friends, Ben Cianchi and Matt Amos, climbing The Candlestick – a 110m sea-stack next to the world famous Totem-Pole, at Cape Hauy, Tasmania.

The Great Australian Triathlon

For this new extreme challenge, the Great Australian Triathlon, the team – Jonathan, endurance athlete Ben Cianchi and Ben’s two sisters Claire and Emma – will touch down in Tasmania on 29th December, with just a day and a half to acclimatise before the challenge begins. Ben will then embark on the world’s first human-powered vertical crossing of Australia.

The Great Australian Triathlon will take around six months to complete and will span over 8000 km of the continent, covering a huge variety of terrain, from dirt tracks to the open ocean.
The expedition will be split up into three distinct sections; running across Tasmania, kayaking across the Bass Strait, and cycling across mainland Australia from the bottom of Victoria to the top of Queensland.

Following a successful kickstarter campaign, together with sponsorship from Wilkinson Cameras, Jonathan has packed his bags (and cycle shorts!) to film the entire adventure.

‘I’ve known Ben for around 6 years now, and he’s in my original Pommish Invasion film,’ said Jonathan. ‘If anyone can complete this challenge, Ben can. The filming is going to be very tricky though – I will be filming solo, so have to meticulously plan each stage and the logistics are challenging! No-one’s ever done this before and our timeline will be very dependent on weather conditions – especially the kayak section.’

‘I will be cycling on the Tasmania leg – so kit has to be kept to a minimum both in size and weight as I’ll be carrying everything myself. Data storage and power are big considerations – and this is where I’m particularly grateful for the Wilkinson Cameras support, which will enable me to fine tune my kit to exactly what’s required for the job.’

The sea kayak section of the triathlon will be filmed from one of the kayaks, with Jonathan filming via a drone for the bird’s eye view. Using a local ferry to the largest of the islands en route – Flinders Island – Jonathan will also be aiming to capture shore landings and departures, again travelling under his own bicycle power.

The final cycle section will also be filmed from a bike, with Jonathan leapfrogging the team in order to achieve action footage along the gruelling route.

‘Our aim is to produce one vlog per week en route, in order for people to follow our progress. Though often we will be relying on solar power – so we may have to rethink that in certain areas. Whatever happens, we’re hoping to post one image, across social our media platforms, every single day.

The Route:

The Run

The triathlon starts with a challenging 600km run across the Island state of Tasmania. While carrying all of their kit, the team will have just 21 days to cross from Southwest Cape to Little Musselroe Bay using a combination of trails and minor roads. Severe fatigue is the obvious challenge Ben and his sisters will need to overcome, however the journey itself will not be a walkover. Tasmania is a notoriously wild state, so the team will have to face many difficult challenges along the way, including countless kilometres of steep gruelling ascents, treacherous river crossings and tough navigation through densely packed forest trails.

The Paddle

The paddle starts off where the run ends, at Little Musselroe Bay, and consists of 350km of sea kayaking across the infamous Bass Strait. With only three weeks to complete this leg the team will have to maximise good conditions to cross between isolated islands and wait out any storms that pass through. The biggest stretch of open water will be about 70 km, which is estimated to take at least 12 hours dependant on wind and current conditions. Long days, heavy swell and marginal conditions will make the journey to Wilson’s Promontory on Victoria’s southern tip an epic challenge for the team.

The Bike

Crossing mainland Australia by bike is a monumental challenge, not least when you shun the easy coastal roads and head inland up the great dividing range. Seven thousand ‘or so’ kilometres from Wilson’s Promontory in the South, to Cape York in Tropical North-Queensland will be the longest and perhaps most mentally draining section of the expedition.

The “Why”? We had to ask!

As an outdoor enthusiast and documentary film maker – as well as capturing the physical side of the challenge – Jonathan wants to explore the reasons people like Ben give up well paid jobs and comfortable lives, battle through injuries and sacrifice their careers for the sake of what some people would see as pointless goals. Ben will face countless challenges from extreme fatigue to hungry crocodiles – dangerous tides and wild bush fires, all for no material benefit.

Ben is not being paid (in fact he’s spent his entire savings on the trip), he won’t get a world record (Guinness won’t recognise the expedition), and it’s likely that large parts of the trip will be a ‘sufferfest’. The documentary will follow Ben’s progress from planning and training at home, to the challenges and triumphs on the ground in Australia.

Jonathan will also be exploring the psychology behind why people decide to embark on such radical and life-changing journeys, what fuels them and what they hope they will get from it.

The final documentary will also delve into the ideas and misconceptions of one of the world’s largest and most sparsely populated countries. For example, Jonathan wants to look into why bush fires are so prevalent in Australia, what causes them and why are they so important for the ecosystem. The film will also aim to banish the Aussie stereotype that all of their wildlife is out to kill you and it is actually a much safer place than you may think.

Overall viewers can expect sweeping shots of the beautiful Australian landscapes, close-encounters with the local wildlife and of course engaging and interesting stories weaving in and out of the overarching tale of The Great Australian Triathlon.

‘There will also be an environmental undertone to the film; we are hoping the expedition will encourage others to use their cars a little less, and their own human power a little more,’ added Jonathan.

‘I think we will convey throughout that while human powered modes of transport are slower, they can provide so much more stimuli and engagement by allowing us to slow down a little, recharge and have some fun along the way!’

‘However, it is not lost on us that travelling around the world to create a film about using human-powered transport is somewhat contradictory and we don’t want to undermine our under-lying environmental message in any way. So, with this in mind, we plan on carbon offsetting the trip by calculating the overall carbon cost of the expedition (generated from non-human powered transport) and donating the carbon offsetting cost to an Australian and/or UK based initiative.’

To keep up with the team, you can follow them directly on the social media links below – and also look out for more information, video blogs and interviews on the Wilkinson blog.

Website
Facebook
Jonathan’s Instagram
Ben’s Instagram

What’s in Jonathan’s Bag?

For this extreme filming expedition we wanted to take a closer look at exactly what was in Jonathan’s kit bag. Over the coming months, Jonathan will also be showing the kit in use and sharing tips for filming and photography on such a challenging shoot.

Sony Alpha A7 Mark III body
Sony Alpha A6400 with Sigma 16mm f1.4 E mount lens
Zeiss 24-70mm f4 FE mount lens
Sony 55mm f1.8 FE mount lens
Sony 28mm f2 FE mount lens
Laowa 15mm f2 FE mount lens
Canon FD 70-300mm vintage lens (with adapter)
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Zhiyun Weebill Lab gimbal
Rode Video Mic Pro
Rode Dead Cat microphone windstopper
Zoom Hn2 Audio recorder
Rode Smartlav Mic
Gopro Hero 8 Black
GoPro Hero 8 Dual charger and battery
Cokin Nuance Variable ND 2-400 filter

 

Follow the entire Great Australian Triathlon with the rest of the series below:

Part 1: The Run

Part 2: The Paddle

Part 3: The Cycle

Jonathan Doyle – Photographer and Videographer for The GAT – What’s in his kit bag?

 

 

For many of us, astro photographer Alyn Wallace was the rising star (no pun intended!!) of Digital Splash 2017. His talks sold out in record time and with his tales of astro photography and nocturnal adventures, both his words and pictures captivated the audiences.

As one of our first ‘Wilkinson Ambassadors’, we wanted to catch up with Alyn to see what he’d been up to for the last few years – and to find out more regarding his magical night sky photography.

So the last year seems to have really taken off for you – and you’ve been all over the world! Share with us a round up of your adventures and the images you’ve captured. What’s been the highlight of the last 12 months & what has been your biggest learn?

Leaving my engineering career behind and taking the plunge into freelance photography was admittedly a terrifying experience and despite a difficult first-year, things have picked up and the newfound freedom has allowed me to pursue my quest to uncover the darkest skies and most otherworldly landscapes.

As winter arrives my compass points north, most recently Norway and Iceland, in hunt of the elusive but mesmerising aurora borealis.

As the summer nights brighten I find myself heading south, not just for extended darkness but also to gain a much better vantage of the Milky Way core, the heart of our home galaxy. I find myself returning to the Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Palma for just that and given that you can drive above the clouds on a nearly nightly basis it’s about as close to heaven on Earth as I’ve found. Although the Canary Islands are often compared to the landscape of Mars, I’ve found Cappadocia in Turkey to be the most otherworldly landscape I’ve ever seen.

It’s usually difficult for me to pick a highlight of the year but capturing and witnessing my first total solar eclipse in Chile was truly an unforgettable life event. Just thinking of the coincidental nature and sheer perfection of the alignment between the Sun and the Moon is enough to make the hairs on my arm stand up, but to experience it was truly ineffable, which is why I’d much rather express myself through photos and vlogs!

With such a big shift in my life, I have of course learnt many things. I’ve gained a much greater appreciation of how precious time is. The clock is ticking and there’s no stopping it, work hard towards achieving your desires before it’s too late and you find yourself looking back with regrets.

Secondly, the best things in life are often found on the other side of fear and only you can push yourself through those fears to reap the rewards on the other side.

You seem to have become the King of astro post processing, launching your own set of presets as well as the many tutorials on your YouTube channel. Talk us through this, what can people hope to learn?

Firstly, thanks! But I don’t think there’s a crown to be won for a subjective and artistic matter. Everyone has his or her own style and taste.

As for the presets, they were born from experience with my workshop clients as I often found they were a bit aimless in their editing, not knowing where to start, when to stop or what to adjust next.

I’m largely against one-click-of-a-button presets that try to do everything in one go, which is why my presets are based on a structured workflow that also allows the user to tweak to their own taste as they go.

Firstly starting with lens correction, followed by global tonal adjustments, noise reduction and sharpening, colour-grading and finally local adjustments where the user can really sculpt and inject their own artistic flare to the final image.

Having a structured workflow has so many benefits, it brings speed and efficiency to your editing and also results in a repeated style such that your followers can recognise one of your images without seeing your name or watermark.

What’s coming up in the winter sky that amateur ‘Astros’ can perhaps look out for and try to capture?

The so-called Milky Way season spans from March to September but despite this, you can still capture the Milky Way throughout winter and in fact throughout the entire year. Milky Way season only considers the core of the Milky Way, which although it may be the brightest and most interesting section, there’s still some stunning areas of the Milky Way to be captured throughout winter – such as the dark dust lanes of the Great Rift or the bright and nebula rich Cygnus Region.

The highlight of winter is of course the aurora borealis, a phenomenon undoubtedly on the bucket list of many and rightfully so – it’s something that simply has to be seen, to be believed.

Winter also sees the return of my favourite constellation Orion, perhaps the most conspicuous of the constellations and viewable pretty much from all around the globe. Not only does it feature some of the brightest stars in the night sky, but it’s also rich in hydrogen-alpha emission nebulae.

It’s such a vast topic – what’s the best way to get started?

Grab a tripod and try some long exposures! You’ll find yourself addicted to the new world you can uncover with your camera. I have plenty of useful videos on my YouTube channel that cover the basics and I also post a monthly video explaining what’s in the night sky for the month ahead so you can begin to make sense of the seasonal and dynamic nature of the heavens. (See link below)

What kit do you need to get started?

The most basic setup would be a camera, a wide-angle lens (preferably with a wide aperture such as f/2.8), a sturdy tripod and a head torch. An intervalometer or remote shutter release can also be useful as you don’t want to shake the camera when starting the exposure as the movement will easily be seen in the pin-point stars in the image.

What’s next in your personal adventures, a winter at home, followed by?

I’m actually looking forward to a winter in Wales! After months of travelling it’s time to cosy up and get to work on finishing my book ‘Photographing the Night Sky’ which is scheduled to be published by Fotovue in September 2020.

It’s a guide to the settings and techniques needed for landscape astrophotography, as well as a summary of the best locations on Earth – with guidance on the various post-processing techniques such as star trails, stacking for noise reduction and blending exposures.

I’ll return to places already visited to continue my workshops but as yet there’s no concrete plans for new adventures, although the desire for a big trip to New Zealand and Australia is growing too big to ignore!

Alyn’s Kit:

Sony Alpha 7 III
Sony Alpha 7S II (Astro Modified)
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens
Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Sony 55mm f/1.8 Lens
Laowa 15mm f/2 Lens
Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 Lens
Sony 100-400mm Lens with Sony FE 2x extender

Landscape Astrophotography & Nightscapes Workshop with Alyn Wallace

Ever wanted to learn how to shoot the stars and night sky? Not quite sure how or when to even find the Milky Way? Then come along to an astrophotography workshop in the Snowdonia Dark Sky Reserve, hosted by Alyn Wallace and Wilkinson Cameras. Find more information here.

To keep up with Alyn’s latest photography, news and tutorials, you can find him here:

Facebook
Instagram
YouTube
www.alynwallacephotography.com

 

Are you looking for something to do this Autumn? Have you considered macro photography? Macro photography is essentially extreme close-up photography, and while you may think you need fancy cameras and specific lenses to achieve great macro images, this is not true!

In this article, we’ve put together nine macro projects for you to try this Autumn. Don’t forget – this month’s theme for our Digital Splash Photography competition is Macro, so why not try some of these projects and enter some of your images to be in with a chance of winning up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers? We’d love to see what you create.

 

Lens choice

There are specific macro lenses that you can invest in – these allow you to focus closely on an object and also give you a greater magnification factor than a standard lens, allowing you to capture more detail. They come in different focal lengths, just like any other lens. The focal length you choose will depend on the subjects you most like to photograph. For example, a 100mm macro lens will allow you to be further away from your subject. This is great for subjects that you can’t get as close to, such as insects or things low down to the ground. But for jewellery, you may find you only need a  60mm macro lens, for instance.

However, you don’t need a specific macro lens if you’re just starting out. You can still try macro-style photography with your existing lens. You can even get macro lenses that attach to your smart phone to allow you to zoom in a little closer!

 

Outdoors

Autumn is an incredible season for macro photography opportunities. The gorgeous colours of the leaves, the abundance of insects and wildlife, and the generally dry weather conditions. Here are a couple of outdoor macro projects to try this Autumn…

 

Leaves

Of course, we had to start with leaves, didn’t we? Given that this article is all about Autumn projects, it’s a no-brainer. Autumn leaves showcase some of the most amazing colours: bright reds, mustard yellows, burnt oranges. As an added bonus, they are much easier to get up close and personal to, being on the ground… no tree climbing required! When you get up close, you’ll be surprised at just how detailed leaves actually are – they definitely make for fascinating macro subjects.

 

Dew

The cooler autumn mornings mean it’s a perfect time of year for dew or outdoor water droplet photos. Get down low to the ground and capture the fine beads of water clinging on to blades of grass or resting on top of the last of the summer flowers.

 

Insects/Wildlife

Insects are quite a difficult subject to photograph in macro, as they are very quick and very small. However, with some patience and perseverance, you could get some amazing images. Dragonflies are one of the most commonly photographed insects in macro due to their bright colours and detailed wings, however you will probably struggle to spot any during Autumn. Instead, you may be able to capture furry caterpillars, tiny ladybirds, patterned moths or detailed snail shells.

 

Rust/Dirt

A subject that can provide some unusual shapes, old rusted metal gates, padlocks, fences or cars can be great opportunities for unique macro images. Alternatively, rusted tools, for example a pair of old pliers, can also work well for an option a little closer to home. In a similar vein, dirt can also make for some interesting images. Get your hands dirty (or rope a friend in to model) and then photograph your/their hands – not only will you get dirt patterns, you’ll also capture the fine details of a hand: knuckles, indents, wrinkles, veins, fingerprints. Another option is to go out after a rainy day in search of wet, squelchy mud… there’s the possibility for indents, footprints or puddles of water, or mud splatters against all kinds of objects. Splatter some mud against a rusted object and get the best of both worlds!

 

Wood

Another Autumn classic, wood is the last outdoor macro project on our list for you to try this Autumn. Again, think trees. Tree trunks in particular have unique, twirling patterns that are perfect for macro photography. Take a trip to a nearby forest or woodland, where you’ll likely find an assortment of tree species that will add some variety to your shots. There’s also other wooden options, for example fence slats, benches or picnic tables. Remember to get close to look for hidden details.

 

Indoors

Of course, there’s likely to be days where it’s dark and dull outside, or pouring with rain, and going outside doesn’t seem very appealing. So, with that in mind, here are some of the best indoor macro projects to try this Autumn!

 

Cutlery

Cutlery can make for attractive macro photographs. Experiment with different layouts, symmetrical and contrasting lines. You can also play with the lighting and work with the colours, reflections and shadows to produce some unique images.

 

Water droplets

The perfect macro project choice for a rainy day! You can get some captivating and detailed shots here, focusing on one particular droplet or encompassing a section of window with multiple water trails and droplets. If it happens to be a dry day, you can turn on the tap and get some creative shots of the water flow. Experiment between having a trickle of water and having the tap full blast. You can also use household objects, which leads us on nicely to our next project…

 

Glassware/Jewellery

Close-ups of glassware can result in striking abstract images composed of curves and reflections. Use multiple glasses for additional lines and focus on the overlap. Furthermore, you can add water droplets to link in with the above project, or fill the glasses full of water, juice (try different flavours for some colour variation), or any other liquid of your choice, to produce some creative, impressive images.

Similarly, you can get some great macro shots with jewellery pieces. Anything from top end diamond earrings, pearl necklaces and ruby brooches, to bottom end braided cotton or plastic beaded bracelets. With metal based or gemstone jewellery, focus on the shine and experiment with lighting to really make the colours pop.

 

Fruit and veg

The final Autumn macro project on our list is fruit and vegetables. Autumn brings with it a delicious selection of fruit and veg, all of which, apart from being super tasty, are the perfect macro subjects. Blackberries can be found wild or in shops and have an intriguing pattern and texture that will make for a juicy looking abstract. Pumpkins, corn and peppers all have distinct textures both on the inside and the outside. Combine a few together to get the perfect autumnal-coloured shot.

 

Feeling Inspired?

Enter your macro images into September’s Digital Splash Awards for the chance to win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers, plus the chance to be entered into the final to win a further £500 worth of vouchers!

 

 

Fashion photography is a fast-paced genre of photography that is constantly changing and evolving. Due to the unique nature of fashion, this genre allows for a wide creative scope meaning you can always capture some fresh and unique images!

Time to get creative – but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin! Not to worry: we’ve put together our top 7 tips to take your fashion photography to the next level.

So, what are you waiting for? Start reading to hear our top tips – and don’t forget! August 2019’s theme for our Digital Splash Photography competition is Fashion, so why not put these tips into action and enter your best Fashion images for your chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers? We can’t wait to see what you create.

 

Grow your idea

Sometimes, the best images are ones captured spontaneously, but it’s often is much more beneficial to prepare a concept beforehand. This is particularly key with a fashion image, where you may need to consider a model, style or theme and a location, at the very least.

You can never be too prepared. The worst-case scenario is that you find that your idea didn’t quite pan out as you thought. If this happens you could branch off as you see fit during the shoot, or go away, take it as a learning curve, rethink and try again.

The best-case scenario? Your detailed planning makes sure that your shoot goes exactly how you imagined, and you have images that bring your thoughts perfectly to life!

Create lists, mind maps, mood boards etc. to help really expand your idea and convey your vision. Think about props and costumes/outfits. Think about location, weather and lighting conditions, equipment you might need etc.

 

Location, location, location

You’ve got your concept – now it’s time to consider where you’re going to bring it to life!

Fashion photography is particularly suited to a studio environment, as you have greater control over the conditions. For example, you can manipulate lighting and positioning to reduce unwanted shadows.

But that’s not to say you can’t shoot outdoors! You can plan for the forecasted weather but if it starts to rain unexpectedly, or it’s windier than predicted, think creatively and make it work to your advantage. If you’re shooting outdoors, take full advantage of your surroundings and incorporate the natural environment into your image. Think trees, park benches, fields full of flowers, graffitied walls etc.

 

Props & Styling

The use of props and makeup can really help to tell a story within the image. Fashion is a very expressive medium, just like photography and so combining the two to create a theme within the image can be very effective. Try to think how the outfit (also known as a look in fashion photography terms) can work with the environment. Then try adding relevant props and even make-up for effect if necessary.

For example: If you’re styling a streetwear shoot, a concrete city backdrop would be a good fit for the theme, whereas a country clothing shoot may require more greenery!

Background, props, colour palette, and make-up will all have a big influence on the final aesthetic of the image.

 

Get those angles!

With fashion photography, it can be tempting to stick to classic portraiture shots. While this can sometimes be the best option to suit what you want to portray in the image, we recommend experimenting with different angles. You may be surprised to find that different angles expose the clothing piece or outfit in a way that you might not have expected. Get closer, move further away. Get low and climb up somewhere high (safely of course!). Tilt your camera to the left and to the right. Shoot the garment/model from the front, from behind and from the side.

 

Composition

With fashion photography, the most common composition you’ll come across generally places the subject (model) in the centre as the main focus. This breaks away from the traditional Rule of Thirds whereby the subject is placed off-centre. However, placing the subject directly in the centre can sometimes make the image appear flat and unexciting. Here are some of our tips to make your subject pop and add additional dimension to an image where the subject is in the centre:

  • Think about your background. If possible, try and frame your subject by features in the background, for example have your model stand between 2 buildings, or a lamppost and street sign. Alternatively, choose a busy background with lots going on, then select a lower aperture to blur out the background and focus on your model. This will allow your model to really stand out and draw the viewer’s attention, without the image looking 2-dimensional and dull. The image above is a good example of these techniques.
  • If you’re photographing a model think about the pose. Make sure it’s flattering for a start!
  • Try and create a bit of movement within the pose – get your model to jump or maybe bring in a fan to add movement to the clothing or hair.
  • Counter-balance. If you want to position your model centrally, consider counterbalancing to correct your composition. Some examples include using multiple models and making use of shadows and reflections.

 

Camera settings

We recommend setting your camera to Manual to allow full creative control over your images. You can also use different camera modes, for example, if you’re shooting classic portraits, some cameras have a portrait mode, as do most smartphones.

When it comes to specific settings, it’s impossible for us to recommend the exact settings that will work perfectly each time. It will totally depend on lighting, environment and the way you want your image to look. However, here are a couple of settings that we’d suggest as a general guideline to begin with for fashion photography:

ISO – As low as possible to reduce noise in the image.

Shutter speed – As your model/fashion piece is likely to be still, you don’t need a super high shutter speed. We would, however, suggest a slightly higher shutter speed if shooting outdoors compared to indoors to ensure there is no unwanted movement or blur.

Aperture – Experiment with depth of field; you really want the model to be the focus, not the background behind them. Using a lens with a wide aperture, such as F1.4 and shooting “wide open” (i.e. with your aperture set to F1.4) you can create that lovely soft background blur aka “bokeh”.

 

Post-production

Ideally, you want to shoot in RAW, so that you retain every little detail directly from the camera’s sensor without any processing. This will give you ultimate creative control and freedom when editing your images in Photoshop or Lightroom. We like to shoot in RAW and JPEG so that we have a copy for editing and a copy that’s ready to go. Post-processing is an important step to enhance any image. Within fashion photography however, it’s key to keep spot-removal and skin corrections to a minimum to keep the model looking natural. Other techniques such as colour grading and adding grain can be a great way to add to the final aesthetic of the image.

Feeling inspired?

Click here to enter your fashion images into August’s Digital Splash Awards for the chance to win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers!

 

 

Adventure sports – thrilling, exciting, often dangerous and of course, adventurous! But, how do you capture that in a single photograph? Well, we’ve put together a few of our top tips to get you started. From scaling the walls of Yosemite, to hiking the Appalachian trail, adventure sports photography can cover a wide array of activities. So whether you’re capturing a month long expedition or simply taking on a micro adventure with a few friends, get out there and make some epic images!

Don’t forget! This month’s theme for our Digital Splash Photography competition is Adventure Sports so what better opportunity to put these tips into action. Enter your best Adventure Sports images and you could win up to £500! 

 

 

Framing and composition

Composition is an important aspect of any picture. In adventure sports photography we can use composition for dramatic effect, to focus the viewer’s eye to the subject or to show the environment in relation to the subject’s activity.

Using a wide angle lens is a great way to get the viewer as close to the action as possible. Getting low down is another great way to add excitement as well as emphasising the subjects height in a shot – don’t be afraid to get down in the mud!

In most situations when shooting adventure sports however, you’ll be opting for the trusty telephoto zoom. A 70-200mm is a very versatile option. This lens will allow you to get in close when you can’t with a wide-angle lens. When zoomed in, the background will blur and appear compressed. This really focuses the viewer’s eye into the subject and allows details to be seen very clearly. Just look at the images below; simple in framing and composition, but lots of action and detail for the eye to see!

Once you’ve got the hang of the basics of composition, try to capture images from unique angles and unusual perspectives – this can be a great way to differentiate your images from other photographers!

 

Positioning of the subject is key to great action shots. As the photographer, it’s your job to capture the action in its very best moment.

Take the motorcycle image above as an example – if the image was taken just a few seconds earlier or later, the bike would have both wheels on the ground and the mud wouldn’t be up in the air. The resulting image would be a lot less interesting and would also lose the feeling of action and momentum. With this in mind, capturing the most impressive part of the action is important. Utilising your camera’s burst mode is an effective way of capturing multiple shots, ensuring you don’t miss the action – you can then choose the best image afterwards.

 

Include the environment

Often when shooting adventure sports, we’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredible vistas and nature and so capturing the scene is just as important as capturing the action within it. The backdrop quite literally puts the ‘adventure’ into adventure sports.

When framing, look for opportunities where you can include the environment. By doing so will give your subject a sense of scale and place, ultimately telling a bigger a story within the image. Slowing down and taking your time to think the composition through will result in an image with interest and depth – try framing the background first, then introduce your subject and position them where you want them to be.

Remember to watch out for those messy backgrounds however! Unwanted foliage, buildings and other distracting objects can lead the viewers eye away from the subject so always try to keep your compositions clean and simple.

 

Communication and planning

Communication and planning is key to capturing a successful image in a safe and efficient way. Before you switch the camera on, the first thing to do is to gain an understanding of what the subject is about to do and more importantly, where.

Often, you’ll have the luxury of choosing where you want to point the lens and where you want to position your subject, but in some sports such as climbing or mountain biking, access to certain shooting positions will be difficult to gain. Communicate with your subject and ask them approximately where they’ll be, how high they may go or where they may land (if they’re doing a jump for example). With this information you can then anticipate their actions beforehand through the viewfinder and accurately decide on a focal length and composition that ensures you get the subject in frame first time.

Eventually this knowledge will come natural over time with the more experience you get shooting that particular sport. We highly recommend you try shooting a sport that you participate or have interest in. Not only will you enjoy shooting, you’ll already have the necessary knowledge to capture the critical moments as you know what’s likely to come next. This insight and passion will reflect in your images.

It goes without saying that Adventure Sports has its risks for both the athlete and photographer, so having an understanding (and respect!) for the sport and your athlete’s ability is very important – it’s the photographer’s duty to look after their own safety and ensure their actions don’t get in the way of the athlete’s.

 

Camera settings

Capturing a sharp, crisp image in action is important. Set your camera to Manual, EV or S for maximum control over your shutter speed and exposure.

Using a fast shutter speed of around 1/500 sec or higher will ensure you freeze the action. In other shooting situations we’d most likely choose a wide aperture setting when using a fast shutter speed to let more light in – doing so however will make gaining critical focus difficult. So ideally an aperture of around f/4 or higher will give you a wide enough depth of field to get your subject in focus. Don’t be afraid of raising the ISO sensitivity if you’re struggling to gain correct exposure when using faster shutter speeds.

Always try to experiment too – why not try using a slow shutter speed to add motion blur and movement to the image?

Other camera settings to consider include sequence shooting and focus. Setting your camera to its maximum burst rate will allow you to consecutively fire off a series of images. This raises your chance of getting your subject in perfect position; you can then pick and choose your favourite image afterwards.

 

Focusing in any kind of sports photography can be tricky to master. However it’s of paramount importance that you do. More often than not, you’ll only get one or two chances to capture you’re subject in action so nailing focus the first time is key.

We suggest using AF-C (auto-focus continuous) with a single AF point and using the AF point selector dial to pre-select a small focus area – this allows your camera to reliably and precisely gain focus, giving you the best chance of getting what you want in focus first time.

Also experiment using back button focus. With this method, your focus is controlled by a button on the back of your camera, which you can reach with your thumb. By separating the actions of focusing and taking the picture, you will have greater control and independence over both roles. It also allows you to experiment with more advanced focusing techniques such as manual focus overriding. You may need to consult your camera manual if you’re unsure on how to set this up.

 

 

Enter Digital Splash and you could win up to £500!

Don’t forget! This month’s theme for our monthly photography competition, Digital Splash Awards is Adventure Sports. So why not put your new knowledge to the test, shoot some adventure sports photography and send us your best! Entering is simple, just visit www.digitalsplash.tv – you could win up to £500 and be crowned ‘Digital Splash Photographer of the Year’!

 

 

The UK is packed full of great locations to shoot impressive architecture and buildings, but they can sometimes be very easy to miss.

 

Architectural photography is an extremely popular genre of photography. To help you get started we have complied a post full of the best UK locations to take stunning architecture photos.

 

The Digital Splash Awards 2019 photography competition theme for June is Architectural photography! Enter your images for the chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers.

 

Manchester, North West, England

Manchester is a very vibrant city with incredible photo opportunities around every single corner. There are several locations around Manchester for you to take stunning architectural images and new and exciting buildings are popping up every week, but here are some of of favourite locations to get you started.

Manchester Central Library has an ornate and grand design throughout. With a Roman architectural theme, it is an excellent place to start your photography in Manchester.

The next place we want to recommend is the Northern Quarter. It is packed full of superb buildings and vibrant street art. This is an excellent place to test out your street photography as well as capturing some of the vibrant and varied buildings.

Finally, head over to Ancoats, full of industrial heritage, where the old mill buildings transport you back in time to Manchester’s industrial past. Another excellent place for stunning architectural images.

 

Photographer: Michael D. Beckwith.

Location: Manchester Central Library. Photographer: Michael D. Beckwith

 

Liverpool, North West, England

Liverpool is a city with over 2,500 listed building as well as brand new buildings. It is also regarded as one of the best cities for grandiose buildings. It is safe to say this is a wonderful location for architectural photography.

The Royal Liver Building dominates the city’s waterfront sky. The two Liver birds upon the building’s two clock towers make for perfect focal point in your images.

The Albert Dock was primarily built as a warehouse and docking system for ships, but it is now a tourist hotspot. It is also the first building in Britain to be built without wood. You can always capture stunning images here, day and night. The water allows you to play around with reflections and long exposures.

The Mann Island buildings are an excellent example of modern architecture in Liverpool. Their sharp lines and contrasting colours and textures make a great subject for photographers.

 

Location: Mann Island Buildings. Photographer: James Pinder.

 

Preston, North West, England

We may be a little bit biased, being based in Preston for over 30 years, but it certainly isn’t short of architectural beauty!

The Grade II listed Preston Bus Station is arguably Preston’s most debated about building. Its brutalist design is either loved or hated, but either way the building stands out in the city and makes for unique images.

The Grade I listed Harris Museum is brimming with neoclassical architecture. This building is stunning from all angles with excellent photography options inside as well as outside.

The last location we want to highlight in Preston is Brockholes Nature Reserve. It is based on the site of an old quarry and is the home of the floating visitor village, which is the first of its kind in the UK. The visitor village offers many opportunities for architectural photography, but also gives you the chance to shoot landscape and wildlife too.

 

Location: Preston Bus Station. Photographer: James Pinder.

 

York, North East, England

York is a walled city that was founded by ancient Romans. It is packed full of architectural beauties that are well worth photographing.

The York Minister dates back to medieval times and features stained glass, stonework and elaborate tombs. You can photograph the beautiful architecture inside and out and will always get excellent results.

The Shambles is a small street in the centre of York with an interesting past. With its leaning building and stunning architecture, this is a must-see photography location. Some of the buildings date back as far as the 14th century. Harry Potter fans will feel right at home here as it is widely reported that the Shambles was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the films.

Finally, heading slightly north of York, we recommend a trip to Castle Howard. The Castle Howard Estate features over 200 listed buildings and monuments! The crowning glory is definitely Castle Howard istself. Though not actually a castle, this stately home is impressive inside and out with plenty to photograph. Many people will recognise it as the backdrop to the film (and earlier TV series) Brideshead Revisited.

 

Location: York Minster. Photographer: Andy Falconer.

 

Newcastle, North East, England

Newcastle is a centre of arts, business and science and is full of different architectural photography locations.

Located just outside of Newcastle is Belsay Hall. This is the host of two historical buildings, a tower house and neoclassical house. It is the perfect location if you are looking to take some unique images.

Newcastle cathedral is the location that holds the story of the entire city. With medieval architecture throughout this is an excellent location for dome stunning architectural images.

The last location to point out in Newcastle is the Angel of the North. Standing 20 metres tall and with unique architecture this is an excellent thing to photography in all kinds of weather.

 

Location: Angel of the North. Photographer: Bons YUE.

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a city full of architecture that you cannot help but stop and admire. If your taste is in gothic, modernist or medieval architecture, this is the location for you,

Edinburgh Castle is perched upon the volcanic Castle Rock. You can admire the building from afar, but it is even more impressive up close. This location is one not to be missed when it comes to shooting architectural photographs.

Holyrood Palace is both grand and large and is surrounded by landscaped gardens. With towers, spired and medieval architecture this is a location well worth a visit.

The final location we want to suggest visiting in Edinburgh is the Scottish Parliament building. It is designed to mirror the surrounding landscape of hills and crags. It has extremely different architectural than the buildings surrounding it. It is perfect for geometrical architectural images.

 

Location: Scottish Parliament Building. Photographer: Chris Flexen

 

London, Southern England

London, the capital of the UK is world-renowned for its architecture. With styles from new to old, gothic to art deco, traditional to contemporary and everything in between.

The Shard is one of London’s most famous skyscrapers. It is said to be inspired by London’s railway lines. You can take some stunning images of this magnificent piece of architecture, both day and night, from many angles.

The British Library has a brutalist architecture style and is a grade I listed building. With many angles to shoot from and a large courtyard to roam, the British Library offers many different architectural photography opportunities.

One final location that we want to talk about in London is St Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of London’s top attractions and is recognised worldwide for its design. Both inside and out, you will never be short of architectural photography chances. Did you know that St. Paul’s is the focal point of several “protected views” within London. These views have strict rules to prevent the view of the cathedral being blocked by new buildings and vegetation is maintained to ensure a clean line of sight at all times. One view from King Henry VIII’s Mound in Richmond Park has a clear view of St. Paul’s Cathedral… over 10 miles away! (We’d recommend a really long lens for this one!)

 

Location: St Paul’s Cathedral. Photographer: Dave Reed.

 

Oxford, Southern England

Oxford is a city that contains examples of every major architectural style in England. It has many examples of how the old can harmonise with the new. This is the perfect location to visit for unique architectural photography.

Magdalen College Tower is an excellent example of English Gothic architecture. With large pointed windows, detailed carvings and spires, you are sure to leave here with many detailed photographs.

Queen’s College is a stunning example of neoclassical architecture. It features symmetrical pediments that adorn the high street entrance to the college and the dome that caps the entrance. This is another location where you can capture detailed images up close.

Radcliffe Camera Library (sadly, not a library dedicated to cameras!) displays Palladian architecture beautifully. It has pillars and domes that repeat in symmetrical patterns. This location gives you yet another opportunity for detailed images whilst visiting Oxford.

 

Location: Queen’s College. Photographer: Delfi de la Rua.

 

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast is a vibrant and buzzing city, with a unique history. This all resonates in it’s many architectural styles seen throughout the city.

The Titanic Belfast is a modern and iconic building. It is shaped like the ship’s bow and is deemed to be the height of the original Titanic. This is the perfect location to go if you are looking to take modern architectural images.

The Stormont Parliament Building is neoclassical in design and is a historical building. It is surrounded by tranquil regal lawns and beautiful flower beds. This building offers simple yet beautiful photography opportunities.

The Grand Opera House is beautiful both inside and out. It is designed with a cream cast stone and red brick exterior and curved balconies and turban-themed canopies inside. If you are looking for beautiful, detailed architecture this is the place to go.

 

Location: Titanic Belfast. Photographer: Christian Holzinger.

 

Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff, the capital city of Wales has a number of Architecture styles. It dates from Norman times to present day with its urban fabric largely being of Victorian design. This city offers you a number of photography opportunities.

The Wales Millennium Centre is the first location we want to highlight here. It comprises of one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It is home to the national orchestra and dance, opera, theatre and literature companies. One feature that is widely recognised is inscribed on the front of the dome. It is two poetic lines, by poet Gwyneth Lewis, written in both Welsh and English. This is a location not to miss.

The Senedd, also known as the National Assembly Building, is the home of the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the National Assembly for Wales. This building stand outs on the waters edge and is dominated by a steel roof and wood ceiling. It makes for some unique images.

The last location we want to highlight in Cardiff is the Cardiff Arcades. It is known as Cardiff’s finest asset, with a Victorian design. It is full of Victorian shop fronts, majestic windows and unique features. You won’t want to miss visiting this location.

 

Location: Wales Millennium Centre. Photographer: Simon Lewis

 

Local to You

Sometimes when shooting architectural photography, we look at locations far away from us even though we have beautiful architecture on our doorsteps. Your local architecture should never be overlooked.

Take a trip to your local pub and see what architecture that has to offer. A lot of pubs are housed within old Victorian buildings which means they have many architectural features to photograph.

Your local town centre is a place of many different architectural styles, wherever you are. Look around your city centre for details and architecture that stands out and take some images.

Don’t forget to visit your local train station for some architectural wonders. Train stations are quite often the oldest building in your local area and are full of different kinds of architectural beauty. Take you camera there and have a look!

 

Location: King’s Cross Station. Photographer: Michal Parzuchowski.

 

Wherever you are going to shoot your architectural photography, be careful and make sure you aren’t trespassing on any locations you shouldn’t be. Make sure you ask people in the locations if you are ok to shoot photographs there or not!

 

Feeling Inspired?

Enter your architectural images into June’s Digital Splash Awards, where you could win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers and the chance to enter The Final to win a further £500!

We are surrounded by architecture every single day. Everywhere you go there will be a lot of Architecture to see and even photography.

 

Architectural photography is a very popular genre of photography. Sometimes it can be very difficult to know what or how to shoot Architecture though. Here are some of our best tips for when it comes to shooting architectural photography.

 

The Digital Splash Awards 2019 photography theme for June in Architectural photography! Enter your images for the chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras Vouchers.

 

Shoot at Different Times of the Day and in Different Weather Conditions

When it comes to shooting architecture, people tend to seek out the most dramatic lighting. One lighting style being the sunset hour when the shadows are long, and colours are bright. This can result in extremely atmospheric images. But, it only captures the atmosphere at one specific point in the day.

Our tip is to take a series of images at different times throughout the day, or even in a variety of weather conditions. It’s tempting to wait for the perfect sunny day or a great sunset – which can give amazing results, but sometimes it’s the cloudy days which can make for a much more dramatic image and the chance of harsh lighting or glare is reduced as well.

 

Photographer: Domagoj Ćosić

 

Watch your lines

One extremely important element behind all architectural photography is making sure your lines are where they are meant to be. Horizontal lines should be horizontal and vertical lines, vertical. This can be challenging, especially if you need to tilt your camera to get all the architecture in the frame. Getting this right can really make an image… getting it wrong can really throw the perspective and fail to do your subject justice.

Parallel lines can start to converge, which is also known as keystoning. This can make the building look as though it is falling backwards. If you are shooting with a wide-angle lens, you may also have some distortion in your images.

Try to put some distance between you and the building or try a higher point of view to combat keystoning. A tilt-shift lens can also fix any problems. If you have any lens distortion, we recommend rectifying this in post-production.

 

Photographer: Samuel Zeller

 

Don’t Miss the Details

A lot of people focus on capturing a buidling as a whole. Buildings contain hundreds of little details that get lost when entire building or rooms are shot in one frame.

Keep your eye out for all the small details and geometric patterns. By exploring just that little bit more, not only will it result in fantastic shots, but you will also learn more about the building’s construction and history. This allows you to add more story to your shots. Framing is key here, think about the composition of the shot when focussing on a particular detail.

 

Photographer: Frances Gunn

 

Take a Unique Angle

Some photographers are looking to recreate iconic images, but many are looking for something unique. This means finding a unique angle. Look at the architecture in a way you haven’t done before. This may be as simple as moving your camera a few inches another way.

Explore every side of a building that you are shooting, from close and far away as well. Why not try to shoot from rooftops or balconies to give your pictures an even more unique angle? Or, get down low and look up. For the ultimate change in perspective, drone photography now allows you to take pictures of buildings from angles rarely captured before (just remember to fly legally and safely, of course!)

 

Photographer: Julien Borean

 

Remember the Human Element

Architecture was designed for people, by people! So, by including them in your images it can bring more dimension and interest to your images. It also give a story of those working and living in the building and also gives perspective and scale to your image. We do understand that sometimes people can get in the way though, so see our next tip below to find out how to get rid of them!

 

Photographer: Veit Hammer

 

Play With Exposure Times

The best thing about a suject which stays still, is that you can experiment with exposure times. Using Neutral Density filters will allow you to increase your exposure time and bring some movement into the sky or foreground of the image. If there are people walking around, a slightly longer exposure will add some movement to the image, whilst softening the distraction of the people allowing the building to be the main focus.

Alternatively, a long exposure will add movement to the sky, adding a little bit of drama. This may be particularly useful if the weather wasn’t what you were hoping for!

A photographer who we work with once described a 10-stop neutral density filter as as his “go away filter” (although he maybe didn’t put it quite as politely as we have for the blog!). Because, you can actually use a very, very long exposure to completely remove people from an image. Imagine you wanted to take a picture of a popular tourist spot. You’d never be able to find a time where not one person would get in your shot. Using a very long exposure and a 10-stop ND, any moving people will simply vanish from your final shot, leaving just the building you want to capture. Just be sure to have a very good tripod for this type of photography and make sure it’s not too windy!

 

Photographer: James Padolsey

 

Don’t Forget Post-Production

There’s a lot to be said about getting it right in-camera. Post-production can make a good image better, it’s not a magic wand. But, certain tools in most good editing software will allow you to tweak your architecture photography, whether fixing perspective problems or bringing back an overeposed sky or simply adding some contrast to help your image “pop” a little bit more. Remember to shoot in RAW (we like to shoot RAW & Jpeg so we have one to edit and one ready-to-go) so that you have the most information in the image to work with.

 

Photographer: John T

 

Do your Research

Be sure to research the places you plan on shooting before you go. By learning the history and context of an architectural site, you can focus your photography on the aspects that you want to. This could be a relevant story or idea that captures the essence of the architecture. You may also need permission to take photographs and it’s best to know this and get it in advance, than to be disappointed on the day you plan to shoot.

Do a “recce” – plan in a couple of trips to find the best time of day, the best lighting, the best positions to take your photographs. Spending some time at the location and getting to know it will enable you to get the best images.

 

Photographer: Joshua Fuller

 

Feeling Inspired?

Enter your architectural images into June’s Digital Splash Awards, where you could win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers and the chance to enter The Final to win a further £500!

 

As the days get longer and Spring is afoot it is hard not to miss all the wildlife that the UK is home to. The UK is host to many locations that you can visit to take stunning wildlife images, even of some of the rarest wildlife in the UK. Here are Wilkinson Cameras’ top 8 wildlife photography locations in the UK!

 

The Digital Splash Awards 2019 photography theme for April is Wildlife! Enter your images for the chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers!

 

Exmoor National Park, South West, England

This National Park can be found in the South West of England. The Exmoor National Park is one of the most extensive pieces of moorland in the UK, meaning that it is home to many different wildlife species. There is one animal that is known to bring in photographers and wildlife lovers alike from far and wide; the Exmoor Pony!

These ponies are known for their nervous nature and are not used to human contact. This means that Exmoor ponies are a hard animal to photograph. If you are looking to photograph these ponies, the best time to capture them is during an early morning sunrise whilst they are travelling to graze. Alongside the stunning sunrise, combined with the Exmoor ponies, you are bound to get a stunning shot!

 

 

Lyme Park, Cheshire, North West, England

Lyme Park is a large estate this is in the south of Disley, Cheshire. The magnificent house is surrounded by formal gardens spanning 15 acres in a Deer park of about 1,359 acres. Here you can capture images of many Fallow Deer and Sheep throughout the park!

Another animal you can captures images of in Lyme Park is the brown hare. The brown hare has suffered a 75% decline in population in the UK in the past 50 years. Despite this, Lyme Park is still an excellent location to capture the beautiful brown hares in your photos. If you visit the park in March and April, you may just see the hares ‘box’ during mating season!

 

 

Skomer Island, Coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales

Skomer Island is a small island off the coast of Pembrokeshire. Skomer Island is a national nature reserve and is packed full of wildlife photography opportunities. it is best known for its large breeding seabird population. The Puffin population is one of the most prevalent seabird on the island. There is around 10,000 breeding pairs on Skomer Island making it one of the most important colonies in Britain.

Beginning in mid-April the birds are known to fly in from the sea, often with their beaks filled with sand eels. This provides you with some excellent photography opportunities. Other wildlife known for residing on Skomer Island are Manx shearwaters and Skomer voles. The Skomer vole is a distinct form of bank vole exclusive to Skomer Island. The habitat is ideal for them and if you are lucky you might just capture them in a stunning unique photograph!

 

 

Brownsea Island, Dorset, England

Brownsea Island is one of the largest islands in Poole Harbour, in the county of Dorset. This national trust island is one of the best places to photograph and see red squirrels, which are extinct in many UK locations. The squirrels on the islands are still shy but it is easiest and the best to try and spot them during sunrise and sunset during Spring and Autumn for excellent photography opportunities.

There is also a large population of Sika-Deer on the island that are excellent to photography if you have the chance. This is also opportunities to photograph wild peacocks on the island!

 

 

Snettisham, Norfolk, England

Snettisham is a small village located near the west coast of Norfolk. It is the location of the Snettisham RSPB Nature Reserve which is home to two of the UK’s greatest wildlife spectaculars! If you are visiting Snettisham during high tide, visitors and photographers can watch the incoming tide displace thousands of wading birds from their feeding grounds.

If you are visiting during winter at both dusk and dawn you can view thousands of pink-footed geese flying in the iconic v-formation between their feeding grounds and their night-time roosts. Snettisham provides you with a lot of excellent photograph opportunities with a variety of different species of wildlife!

 

 

Cairngorms, Scottish Highlands, Scotland

The Cairngorms are a mountain range in the eastern highlands of Scotland. The Cairngorms provide a unique habitat to many rare birds and animals. Some speciality bird species that can be seen on the Cairngorms include ptarmigan, dotterel, snow bunting, golden eagle, ring ouzel and red grouse. Occasionally you can see snowy owls, twites, purple sandpipers and Lapland buntings.

You can also see mammal species whilst in the Cairngorms. These include mountain hare, red deer and the only reindeer herd in the British Isles. The Cairngorms national park is certainly a spot to capture images of rare and exciting wildlife species. All set on a beautiful backdrop, your photographs are bound to turn out stunning!

 

 

The New Forest National Park, Southern England

The New Forest is one of the latest remaining areas of enclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England. It is host to a large array of wildlife ranging from your common shrew, wild ponies, hedgehog, reptiles and even deer.

There is an array of walking and cycling trails for you to follow, giving you a lot of opportunity to explore this wildlife haven and take some stunning images. If it is deer’s or even the rare stalking fox, you are wanting to photography you may want to venture into the trees to find these stunning animals who hide away!

 

 

Your Garden or Local Park, Near You!

You don’t need to venture far from home to capture excellent wildlife photography. Your garden or local park are both excellent locations to capture stunning wildlife images. All you need to do is find a quiet spot in your local park and set up your equipment, then wait! You never know what birds or wildlife you might have the opportunity to photograph.

When it comes to photographing wildlife in your garden there are a few things that you can do to attract more wildlife to you! You can leave out bird feeders to attract different types of bird species. You can also build hedgehog homes to not only attract hedgehogs to your garden but also to provide them with somewhere safe to visit. Your garden will provide you with a lot more photography opportunities than you think it will!

 

 

Feeling Inspired?

Enter your wildlife images into April’s Digital Splash Awards, where you could win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers and the chance to enter The Final to win a further £500!

As the 2019 Digital Splash Awards are in full swing, we thought you might like a little more inspiration from another of our past winners.  So if you’re looking for a little encouragement to enter this year’s competition, read on!

 

Mike Martin won the Portrait award in our monthly competitions, plus went on to secure 3rd place in the overall Digital Splash Photographer of the Year awards.

 

We caught up with Mike to find out more about is photography, what drives him, his creativity and his prolific competition spirit!

 

How did you first get into photography?

I’ve had a camera since I was a kid for holidays and the like.  Whilst at University I relied upon photography to share my then love of potholing; it was the only means of sharing the experience with my parents.  Fast forward to 1991 on relocating to Bristol, I joined a camera club and that started me on my photographic journey.

 

 

What was your first camera and what were you first interests in photography?

My first camera was a Boots Beiretta, followed by a Fuji SLR.  This was soon followed by a succession of Pentax cameras until I switched to Olympus in 2016. Photography started with the usual holiday snaps, then a bit of cave photography followed by the obligatory family shots when the kids came along.  However, my first serious interest came when I joined a local camera club and started entering competitions.  About the same time I had the opportunity to photograph farms, farm animals and equipment for an agricultural agency and that covered some of my costs as far as buying gear and film.

 

 

How have your photographic interests & style developed over time?

From my first contact with camera clubs I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of image subjects and styles; this encouraged me to experiment with different approaches and techniques.  From the early days I used Photoshop creatively, scanning 35mm slides.

I’ll give anything a go really, or as I say “if it moves, shoot it, if it doesn’t, shoot it anyway”.

I love wildlife, though struggle with that genre (other than macro insects) and enjoy fantastic landscapes – though I lack the patience to wait for the right light.  I’m not a fan of travelling to a specific location on the off chance that the light may be OK.  Photographing people is much easier in that respect as they come to you or vice versa. Additionally, I used to do a lot of street photography; commuting to London frequently, I always carried a camera (even if just a simple compact) and would often take photos walking between the station and the office.  This also spurred my interest in architecture and night photography.

Whilst I take and make images for myself, I do enjoy entering competitions and find they are a great way to gauge how good you are and provide the impetus to think and try something new. Similarly, workshops are a great way to develop your skills.

 

 

You won the Portraits category of DSA and obviously celebrating 3rd in the overall DSA annual awards – with a fabulous portrait image – are portraits your main interest these days?

My main interest: photography!  Whilst many specialise in a particular style or genre, I enjoy looking at most subjects and even those that I don’t particularly like, I can appreciate the skill demonstrated by the photographer.

I do take a lot of people photos – but I’d say the key driver for me is the creativity…. my portraits provide an opportunity to shape an image.  When I’m lecturing, I say to people, every time you press the shutter, there must have been something that motivated you to do so.  Sometimes you have to work harder to “find” the picture, the mood, the concept, that inspired you to take it and that’s where my creativity comes in.

 

 

There’s a strong creative/art theme in your work – how does this manifest itself – do you visualise what you want to create, so you have a theme, or how to you start your projects/shoots?

There’s no single answer to this.  Sometimes I have an idea or concept in mind, either my own or that of the make-up artist or model, and although that is a start point, all of my images are a collaboration by everyone involved.  Some are very elaborate requiring planning outfits, location, accessories, though these still rely upon me to interpret and capture the mood, others are entirely freestyle, winging it on the day so to speak and relying upon a bit of luck to be successful.  Because I shoot for myself rather than clients, I’m not afraid to fail so don’t have to play it safe and am free to experiment.  That said, I do believe in stacking the odds in my favour, so regularly take a random selection of bits and pieces in case they may be useful.

 

 

Your ‘created images’ gallery has some really interesting images and themes – what do you use to create these?  In camera features, photoshop, a particular App?  Always a camera, or phone too?

I always use the best camera I can – the one I have with me!  Then, I’ll use any or all the tools available to me whether in camera features (image stacking, intentional camera movement, long exposure), specific lenses, natural and/or artificial lighting, etc.  I’ll then play with the images, using Lightroom, Photoshop, OnOne perfect suite, Nik Silver Efex depending upon what I’m trying to achieve, be it to simplify the image, make the most of what you’ve got or adding bits from my vast library of images (over 90 thousand images in my main catalogue).

 

 

How did your winning image come to be?  It’s technically excellent and beautifully lit.  Tell us more!!  Did you have this image in your mind and make it happen?

Paul (the model) and I have worked together many times – I’m not sure really where the idea came from.  He asked Bridget (the make-up artist) and we got together with the studio owner and two other models and just messed about with some ideas; loads of ideas.  For the shoot, Paul was painted black and the girls painted white. We took it in turn shooting them individually, in groups, etc – not sure where the idea of the white hand-print came from – but the “wreath” was a simple Christmas decoration lying in the studio that we just wrapped around him, look carefully and you’ll see the LEDs too.   For those interested, its lit with a single beauty dish above then processed in Lightroom / Photoshop / Silver Efex. Kit wise it was shot on: Olympus EM1 Mark II, 40-150mm f/2.8pro, at 55mm (110mm equiv) 1/200th sec at f/13.

 

 

What do you find as your biggest challenges?  What are the most difficult aspects of photography for you?

The biggest challenge…. people – they are busy, they have lives and finding time can be difficult.  The most difficult… trying to photograph birds in flight – I rarely get them in the viewfinder let alone in focus!

What would be your next ‘dream’ shoot (any genre, any location!)

Something monumental like an extravagant over the top designer fashion shoot with top models across a number of epic locations in Iceland… Miss Aniela hosted one three or four years ago and I still get fired up every time I see the behind the scenes video.  Going to have to keep fingers crossed for the EuroMillions win for that one though!

 

 

How did you hear about the Digital Splash Awards and what made you enter?  

A friend suggested I give it a try.  Why did I enter, because I thought I could win!

Competitions & awards are obviously a big interest for you (See this page on Mike Martin’s website)! Does this kind of recognition drive you – does it inspire you to do more?  Tell us more, as you’re quite prolific!

Competitions are a big part of my photography, I am competitive and I like winning.  But it’s also about stretching myself, trying something new, trying to be better. The best way of learning is to surround yourself with people who are better than you.  And, it’s about giving back too – sharing how you did something and trying to encourage others to give it a go, trying to inspire others.

 

 

Learning is a big part of the Wilki ethos – is there anything new you’d like to try – kit, genre, technique etc?  

Given the chance – I’d like to have a go at underwater fashion shots.  Somewhat more realistically, I’d like to finally nail bird photography!

If you could shoot with any other photographer for a day, who would you spend your day with & why?

Von Wong… he does so much over the top photography!   Everything is 100% adrenaline fuelled.    In total contrast, perhaps a day with Tesni Ward photographing hares?  Or, a day with Lindsay Adler on a high fashion shoot (she was inspirational with her global Creative photo challenges in 2016 – it was awesome to be shortlisted in seven of the eight challenges and to win one!)

 

 

You have recently retired, which must allow you much more time to enjoy photography?

After graduating I joined Lloyds Bank… after 34 years, 30+ commuting to/from London I thought it was time to give it a break when offered early retirement.  Yes it does give me more time for photography, and more time for the family too (although grown up).  Photographing people is still constrained by their availability too. And, the reduced pension has diminished my spending capability.

However, it has given me time to join and get involved in another camera club, give time to volunteering assisting photographer with disabilities, do a spot of judging and top of the list, time to give some photography talks to camera clubs….

I’ve already visited quite a number of clubs, approaching 20 bookings for 2019-20.  I get a real buzz from these, inspiring people to have a go and sharing how easy it is to create some of the images.  (See link below if you’re interested in booking Mike for a camera club talk)

 

 

Any big plans going forward?  

Big plans – to have my own studio – but got to keep buying the Euromillions tickets and crossing my fingers for that one!

Slightly smaller plans – see how the summer workshops go!

I’ve still got some dates available for camera club (or other group) talks on creative portraiture so it would be good to fill those slots.

 

 

Thank you Mike for your time and for allowing us such a fascinating peek behind the scenes!

 

Find out more:

Mike has a huge collection of very inspirational mages, a selection of which can be seen (together with contact details) on his website Mike Martin Photography, or you can follow Mike on Photocrowd (community members only) or on Instagram @mikemartin247!

 

Could you be next years Digital Splash Awards winner? Visit the Digital Splash Awards website to find more information and enter the monthly competitions!

 

All images featured Copyright Mike Martin Photography.

As the Digital Splash Awards 2019 are now in full swing, the Wilki team have been finding out more about last year’s winners. 

 

Scooping a well deserved (and very close) second place, was Richard Adams with his enchanting picture of a harvest mouse, enjoying a rain shower amongst the autumn blackberries. A difficult image to capture, and one, which got us all wondering ‘how did he do that?’

 

We spoke to Richard, to find out more about his photography and how he managed to capture that mysterious ‘rearing’ mouse!

 

Let’s get started with how did you get into photography?

I bought my first Camera approximately 4-5 years ago after deciding I needed a hobby/distraction to help take control of my PTSD.

 

 

Your winning photograph – tell us a bit more about the story behind it and how you managed to capture such a great image. Those are some pretty good mouse stalking skills!

 

I was told of a nest/re-population program, so decided to get there before sunrise and set up my hide.  I was there around 6-8 hours and encountered every form of weather in that time.

 

The Harvest Mouse is a British born rodent that has near enough become extinct in the wild. Now there are small dedicated teams up and down the country breeding them to release once they reach a certain age.

 

Due to the Harvest Mouse being very small, the trick is to frame the image and then patiently wait for them to come into shot. I now believe that the mouse reared up because of my hearing aids whistling due to the damp air.

 

 

Is wildlife your main photographic interest?

I seem to have fallen into wildlife as it allows me to escaped from the daily grind. That said, I’m always up for trying any genre of photography.

 

What’s your dream photographic location/bucket list trip?

 

Now, that is a very easy question to answer!

 

I served 19 years of a 22 year contract in the RAF, but I was medically discharged after being diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and Pelligrini Steida Syndrom, I was later diagnosed with PTSD from my Cat 6 repair work (recovering and repairing crashed aircrafts). I also have binaural hearing loss.

 

Some may find it surprising, but I would dearly love to return to the Falkland Islands.  Unfortunately I wasn’t interested in photography when I was posted there, but it has everything a photographer would want to shoot and I’d love to go back.

 

To put it simply, it’s such a beautiful, peaceful place (if you overlook the large airbase!). Wildlife comes up close to you without any sign of fear (though it is wise to give the Elephant Seals a wide berth!) and you soon forget the madness of the UK. These days, photography also helps to calm my mind as I sometimes get very anxious when I’m around people.

 

 

How did you hear about Digital Splash Awards?

 

It was an off-chance Facebook advert that took me to the Digital Splash Awards, I entered without any though of such an amazing result. Thank goodness I did!

 

 

Thank you Richard for your time and allowing us such a fascinating peak behind the scenes.

 

Find out more:

Richard has a huge collection of inspirational images that you can see by following Richard on Instagram @captured_moments_photographyuk!

 

Could you be next years Digital Splash Awards winner? Visit the Digital Splash Awards website to find more information and enter the monthly competitions!

 

All images featured Copyright Richard Adams Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Edmondson, company director and James Pinder, creative assistant and in-house videographer, were recently invited to Rome to try out the Fujifilm X-T30. Find out what they got up and some initial thoughts on the new mirrorless camera from Fujifilm as  Paul tells you his thoughts on the camera whilst taking you through their visit to Italy’s capital.

 

Our journey starts after a day at work where we rush out of the office (rushing was soon to become a recurring theme on this trip!) and onto the express train down to London Euston, before getting the tube over to Heathrow. We ended up standing because it was busy and I had a rather embarrassing moment when an act of kindness was slightly misplaced – a young man stood from the priority seat he’d occupied and offered it to me. I declined, red faced. For those that don’t know me, I’m really not that old and I’d like to believe I’ve not changed dramatically from my younger days as an athlete! James was and still is chuckling about this and delighted in telling everyone back at the office when we returned.

 

 

At 5.30am the following morning we met up with Fujifilm and the other people on the trip; a couple of other retailers, but mainly journalists. We each received an X-T30 with XF 18-55mm lens, memory cards and batteries and then it was time to board the plane to Rome. Or at least it would have been if James hadn’t been stopped by security and the entire contents of his backpack laid out and checked! Fortunately, they decided he wasn’t a security risk and we made it on board. 2 hours later we touched down at Fiumicino airport pleasantly surprised by the 18 degree temperatures!

 

 

We were met by Jessie, our tour-guide for the duration of our stay in Rome and we quickly dumped our bags at the hotel eager to get out with the X-T30 as we enjoyed lunch by some ancient ruins.

The first thing that impressed me about the camera was its size; lovely and small, not too heavy, perfect for that city break. I automatically used the viewfinder rather than using the screen and I’m glad I did – it’s brilliant! The clarity of this viewfinder comes really close to the real thing. The addition of a joystick which you can use to select AF points and various functions is a great and one you can use whilst you’ve got your eye up to the viewfinder.

 

 

After lunch, we followed Jessie to our activity for the afternoon. If you ever find yourself in Rome, I’d strongly recommend making this a before lunch activity.

We were put into groups of three then handed a hair net and a crash helmet! Yes, we were off on a Tuk-Tuk tour around Rome. Now, the Romans were magnificent when it came to their architecture, however their mostly cobbled roads don’t go hand-in-hand with a 3-wheeled Tuk-Tuk!

We tried our very best to take pictures whilst on the go, however it was a little bumpy, to say the least. “Image stabilisation,” I hear you say.

While the X-T30 doesn’t have in-body IS, we did use Fujifilm’s image stabilized XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4,0 R LM OIS Lens which was a great combination and with it, I managed to get some sharp pictures. It’s more that taking pictures on a fast-moving Tuk-Tuk hurtling over a cobbled street, trying to concentrate on getting the shot and seeing either through the viewfinder or on the screen… is almost impossible!

 

 

Our wonderful drivers did stop off on a few occasions to allow us to take some of the most spectacular views Rome had to offer and Jessie did a sterling job of the history.

The first stop was a park, located on a hill side overlooking Piazza del Popolo and the views of the city were spectacular. The Fujifilm XF 18-55mm performed well here; I’ve used this lens on many occasions and its optical performance is excellent. It’s compact and lightweight, whilst have the feeling of a premium lens.

 

 

After snapping away for 10 minutes or so it was back on the Tuk-Tuk and off to the second location, which was the Gianicolo fountain on the opposite side of the city. From here you could see the mountains in the very distance and the sheer size of the city.

By this time the light had started to fail, but the X-T30 continued to perform well.

 

 

Our final stop of the day, the Colosseum, it was spectacular, even if we didn’t have the time to go inside. My imagination ran wild with what the noise must have been like when it was filled with the thousands of people chanting and cheering. The sun just managed to make an appearance as it was setting which gave a wonderful glow to the Colosseum. The exposure compensation dial came in useful here, perfectly positioned on the top right-hand side of the camera.

 

 

Back to the hotel, whilst enjoying a cool bottle of beer it gave me chance to set up the Auto ISO HDR function on the camera before we headed out to dinner. This setting would hopefully allow me to produce some great night shots of the city. We had a short walk to the restaurant; however, it took ages to get there as the offering of photographic opportunities kept on coming! Now in darkness, I couldn’t believe what we saw. Rome looked completely different by night. The beautifully lit architecture ensured that every corner we turned there was just shot after shot. Even more photographic opportunities presented at the restaurant, which had rooftop views over the city of Rome.

The X-T30 performed brilliantly throughout; every image I took handheld was perfectly exposed and the OIS worked a treat! I didn’t take this technology for granted either, I remember the film days when getting shots like these took a huge amount of work and was very hit and miss.

 

 

Our second (and final!) day in Rome saw us heading to the Supreme Court of Cassation. Here we had around three hours of free time so it was time to shoot some video. We found a great location down by the river where – take a look for yourself.

Just a short walk took us to The Vatican. What an amazing sight, the sheer size of this building and the detail in the architecture is incredible. This was a fantastic end to our trip to Rome before we rushed off to the airport for our flight home.

 

 

Remember at the beginning of this story when we said the theme of this trip would be rushing? We rushed to London, rushed around Rome and then our plane landed 45 minutes late, leaving us with just over an hour to do a journey taking… just over an hour! We all but threw our X-T30 back to Fujifilm, then sprinted to the Underground station at Heathrow, bags and backpacks flailing around us.

The timing was perfect, we got straight on the Underground at Heathrow, before another sprint between platforms onto the line for Euston. The tube was definitely in our favour. Then one final sprint through Euston and down to the platform. Puffing and panting, bags everywhere people were laughing as us as we ran past! But, it was totally worth it as we ran down the ramp and saw our train on the platform… leaving. The last train back to Preston was leaving without us! What an end to an otherwise brilliant, although fast-paced, trip to Rome!

 

 

We both really enjoyed using the Fujifilm X-T30 and I’d genuinely buy this camera as a travel camera. It’s small, light, easy to use, but also full of features and the lens is great quality and versatile. View the video we shot in Rome on YouTube  and find out more about the X-T30.

(In case you’re wondering, we did make it back to Preston. The Virgin staff were brilliant and made sure we got onto a train to Manchester so we could at least get a little nearer to home!)

 

 

 

Interested in the Fujifilm X-T30? You can order it now on our website!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Last year saw a fabulous selection of photography entered into our Digital Splash Awards, with the quality of images higher then ever, both technically and in terms of overall inspiration!

 

We thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about our 2018 award winners, starting with the overall Digital Splash Photographer of the Year winner, James Rushforth.

 

Splitting his time between the UK and the Italian Dolomites (and often spotted in his converted Fiat Ducato, called Max), we managed to catch up with James between adventures, to find out more background on his amazing images, his adventures and the challenges faced by an award winning adventure photographer, author and tutor.

 

How did you first get into photography, was it through your love of extreme sports? What was the journey?

It all happened very much by accident, I left university not really knowing what I wanted to do and ended up climbing in the Alps. I wrote several articles on my experiences and was contacted by a publisher who was looking to produce a guidebook to the region. Without really knowing what I was getting myself into I began work on my first book – a climbing guide to the Italian Dolomites.

As I began putting it together I wanted to convey how the region had captivated me not only with its exceptional climbing but also the stunning nature of the surrounding scenery. I bought a camera (a little Canon G12 – I recall shuddering at the thought of spending £380, were photographers all mad?) and never looked back. Since then I’ve published books about skiing, mountaineering, climbing, via ferrata and photography. I now divide my time between writing guidebooks and running workshops all over the world.

 

 

Tell us a bit more about your sporting background – as an accomplished skier, climber & mountaineer, this must be a huge advantage?

Learning to rock climb was a natural progression from an enjoyable childhood spent exploring North Wales and the Lake District with my family. I worked at several indoor climbing walls whilst at university which stood me in good stead for the big walls of the Dolomites. Rapid progression was quickly slowed by the yearly snowfall and this naturally lead to a ski touring apprenticeship, first on gentle slopes and then ever more serious terrain. The next decade was spent in search of the perfect line, both in ascent and descent.

The climbing and mountaineering provided an excellent springboard into the photography world, allowing me to tap into a smaller niche market to get established. Not only were there some unique opportunities for extreme sports shoots, the climbing and mountaineering also allowed me to access some very remote landscape locations that were inaccessible to most photographers.

 

 

Travel is obviously in your blood and with four books on the Dolomites under your belt – why the particular interest in that specific area?

I fell in love with the Dolomites when I first visited shortly after finishing university. I’ve seen many of the world’s mountain ranges and they are still by far my favourite. The Dolomite rock forms impossibly steep faces that rise like precipitous monoliths (if you’ll excuse the melodrama) straight out of the alpine meadows. You can walk through the flowers and go and put your hands straight on a rock face that then rises up for a vertical kilometre. There’s a lifetime’s worth of climbing, skiing and photography to be done. One project led into another as I explored the region more and more, alternating between working for outdoor companies and living out of a van. I made some great friends and loved the local culture (and pizza).

I’m currently hoping to buy a house in Lienz (Brexit pending) which is perfectly situated between the Austrian Alps and the Dolomites.

 

 

Tell us about the lifestyle, is it all as good as it sounds?

I quite frequently get emails telling me I ‘live the dream’ and how envious people are of the lifestyle. But like any job where you only see the finished product, it’s easy to overly romanticise the work. I quite frequently spend six months away on my own in the van for a particular project and it can get quite lonely. I’ve just spent the last year exploring some of the remotest parts of Iceland and Greenland and it’s not unusual to go a couple of weeks without seeing another person. I’ve found audio books are the key, it’s nice to hear another voice!

For every successful photo that makes it into the book, there are three or four failed attempts that do not. People looking at the finished images don’t see all the times you got up at 3am, ascended 800m up a mountain in the dark with 5 kilos of camera kit, got nothing and came back down.

But, all that said, it is lovely work and I wouldn’t change it. You just have to accept there are some sacrifices that have to be made.

 

 

What are the biggest challenges you face shooting this kind of photography? Particularly in capturing your breathtaking adventure images.

With adventure photography, the greatest challenge is invariably one of logistics. For example, the winning image of Lynne traversing on Via Myriam required some careful planning and forethought. We had to climb with an extra rope, additional gear for anchors and abseiling as well as camera equipment. I had to climb this particular pitch first and then abseil back down for the photo. I really wanted some background light which required the right weather, but I didn’t want the scene backlit which necessitated a late start. If the light doesn’t play ball you have to come back and do it all again. Not to mention you have to find a sportsperson up to the task as well as having a third member to belay.

The same applies for ski mountaineering when you often have a very narrow window of opportunity with regards to suitable conditions for skiing the steeper lines. It requires a lot of patience and persistence.

 

 

What’s ‘the shot’ you’d most love to bag?

I’m not sure if there’s a particular shot that stands out, but I love chasing all things ephemeral; be it a receding ice cave, a particularly impressive showing of the northern lights, wolves in the Dolomites (they’re so hard to find) or that breaching Humpback Whale shot I’ve been after for so long. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), as with climbing and skiing as soon as you accomplish one goal you instantly go in search of another.

How did you hear about the Digital Splash Awards and what made you enter?

I actually didn’t know about the Digital Splash awards until a friend made the finals of last year’s competition. I made a mental note to check back the following year and enter some images.  I was already aware of Wilkinson Cameras, having purchased several lenses in the past.

 

 

Your workshops:  Iceland, Greenland, Dolomites. These are some of the most popular photography locations worldwide, what do you offer clients – what are you aims for these trips and your guests?

I work closely with a small family run company, ‘Wild Photography Holidays’, to offer small and personalised workshops. Everyone who works for the company knows the areas intricately, has written guidebooks or lives in the area themselves, giving the staff excellent local knowledge. The aim is to ensure guests get a good strong set of diverse images, learn something new and ultimately have a great holiday.

 

 

Where/what’s next?

I’ve spent the last few years exploring and photographing Iceland which has been a fantastic experience from start to finish. I’m currently in the process of assembling an Icelandic photography guide for publisher fotoVUE, which we hope to have on the shelves by the end of this year. The content is largely finished which unfortunately means the next nine months are going to be largely office based.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone just getting into photography – and what’s been your biggest ‘learn’?

My usual advice is just ‘relax and enjoy it’.

So many people make photography far more complicated than it needs to be, or have very strict ideas on how something should be achieved. If it works for you and you like it, then keep doing it; don’t be afraid to experiment and ignore the ‘rules’.

I often recommend photography as a hobby as it gets people out of the house, makes people look much more closely at the world around them and also provides them with something tangible to show for their efforts.

I think my own personal breakthrough came when I discovered how little you actually need to use a tripod with modern cameras. This gave me a lot more freedom both in terms of weight saving and logistics, allowing me to shoot from a variety of different vantage points much faster.

 

 

The one photographer or extreme sports person – dead or alive – you’d like to meet and why?

I’ve always had a fascination with Emilio Comici (Nicknamed the ‘Angel of the Dolomites’), an Italian climber from the Val Gardena who put up many new climbing routes throughout the Dolomites during the early 1900s. He was famous for promoting ‘direttissima’ routes, or as he described it, following the route a drop of water would take down the mountain. Having cursed my way up many of his routes with modern climbing shoes, ropes and equipment I can only imagine what it was like with a hemp rope and hobnailed boots, not knowing if the climb they’d set out on was even possible.

 

 

And finally, what’s your favourite/must have piece of kit or photo accessory?

It sounds like brand advertising (and I guess it is) but I’m currently in love with the new Circular Magnetic Filters from Breakthrough Photography. No light leakage and they just snap on and off making them wonderfully convenient, especially in the Arctic when you’ve always got cold hands.

What gear do you use?  (We also asked to take a peek inside James’s camera bag, as we’re nosey like that!!)

Cameras:  

  • Nikon D810 with Kirk BL-D800 L-Bracket
  • Nikon D850 with Kirk BL-D850 L-Bracket

Lenses:

  • Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
  • Nikon 20mm f1.8 G AF-S ED Lens
  • Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
  • Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 II AF-S VR ED G Lens
  • Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens

Converters:

  • Nikon TC-14E AF-S Teleconverter III
  • Nikon TC-20E AF-S Teleconverter III

Tripod:         

  • Gitzo GT3542LS Series 3 6X Systematic Tripod
  • Induro BHL1 Ball Head

Filters:     

  • Breakthrough Photography 77mm Magnetic Adapter Wheel
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 ND Filter (6 stop)
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 ND Filter (10 stop)
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 UV Filter (x3)

 

 

Thank you James for your time and for allowing us such a fascinating peek behind the scenes!

 

Enjoyed this feature?  To find out more about James, his work, books and workshops then why not pop along to:

 

Website:      www.JamesRushforth.com

Facebook:      @JamesRushforthPhotography 

Instagram:    @james.rushforth

Could you be next years Digital Splash Awards winner? Visit the Digital Splash Awards website to find more information and enter the monthly competitions!

 

All images featured Copyright James Rushforth Photography.

In the lead up to Christmas we are all looking to give gifts to our loved ones. Sometimes it is difficult to think of gifts that are not only unique, but also creative and will bring a smile to the gift receivers face. Photographs are the perfect thing to use to create these beautiful gifts. Here are Wilkinson Camera’s top photo gifts for Christmas, from CEWE PhotoWorld, our award winning photo printing partner.

Advent Calendars

In the lead up to Christmas everyone loves an advent calendar, but why go for a traditional advent calendar when you can make it unique. Cewe Photoworld offers a range of unique advent calendars that feature your favourite photos. You can add your image to the front of the advent calendar to make it completely personalised, with images of your family, favourite places, landscapes or memories. These advent calendars can be filled with Kinder, Ferrero or premium chocolates. The option is also available to choose a deluxe chocolate advent calendar, which can be personalised and is filled with exquisite chocolates.

Another option the Cewe Photoworld offers a photo advent calendar with a main photo on the front and different photos behind all 24 doors. Finally, Cewe Photoworld offers a fill your own advent calendar. You can fill it with anything you like, such as toy, allergy-friendly treats or trinkets, it is entirely up to you. This option is completely unique and can be personalised with your favourite image.

Christmas Cards

Sharing well-wishes with our family and friends throughout the Christmas season is something that we all do. What better way to do this than with personalised Christmas cards. You can create your own designs using your own photo of choice, you can even add some text. Not only that, but you can choose from Cewe Photoworld’s huge range of great design templates to give your Christmas cards a unique touch. These cares available in sets of 10 with envelopes.

Photo Mugs

In the cold months of winter there is nothing better than drinking from your favourite mug. This year why not create your family and friends a special personalised mug. There are many different mug varieties to choose from on Cewe Photoworld. Choose from a latte or panoramic mug, perfect for landscape photos. Or, a porcelain or standard mug, perfect for your cherished photo memories. There is also the coloured inside mug that is perfect for any photo with the added aspect of an interior colour for a more personal touch. Finally, Cewe Photoworld offers the magic mug, that will magically reveal your chosen photo when you add hot liquid.

Magnet Photo Collage

Every year we take hundreds of pictures and a lot of the time they stay on our camera and phones. The magnet photo collage makes a brilliant gift and an excellent way to display your photos. The best part about this magnet photo collage is that you can update your artwork with new photo magnets whenever you want! All you need to do is remove a photo magnet from the collage and replace it with another magnet. Use it to display your family photos, favourite landscapes or any pictures you are looking to display. It can even be updated throughout the year as you take more and more pictures.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Whilst the weather is bad over the Christmas season, a jigsaw is the perfect thing to keep everyone entertained on a rainy day. These aren’t just normal jigsaws though; this puzzle is personalised with you very own pictures. This lets you piece together a familiar scene, a beautiful landscape or a special memory. You can even scan in your children’s artwork or write a message that is only revealed when the jigsaw is completed. The more colours and intricate details your image contain, the longer the puzzle will take you to complete. You can choose from a 500, 1000 or 1500 piece puzzle.

Photo Strip

Everyone loves to display or share their favourite photos and we are always looking for new creative ways to do this. If you are looking for a cool, contemporary way to display your photographs, Photo Strips are the gift for you. The images of your choice will be directly printed onto high quality acrylic or aluminium, with each photo being reproduced in brilliant colour and detail! There is a range of sizes available and different sizes can hold a different number of images. Select the photos that make you smile to create a piece of art you can enjoy all year round. The options are unlimited when it comes to choosing photographs for your Photo Strip. You could select photos with a certain colour scheme to match a room, or even create a special gift by featuring your favourite pictures of a friend or loved one. The Photo Strips are available in the sizes; 15 x 60cm, 15 x 90cm, 20 x 80cm, 20 x 120cm.

And more…

Cewe Photoworld offers many more photo gifts that are perfect for Christmas! You can also create personalised snow globes, t-shirts, sweatshirts, playing cards, clocks, notebooks, photobooks, photo prints and much more. You won’t be short of gift choices on Cewe Photoworld.

 

 

Over the last month we’ve seen major ‘full frame’ mirrorless launches from both Canon and Nikon – so is now the time to make the move?

 

DSLR or Mirrorless remains a good question – but a blend of both can be the perfect solution.  We caught up with Andrew Wilson, a previous Wilki Blog guest, who’s recently joined the mirrorless revolution, but still firmly hanging on to his DSRL kit too – for now!

 

Would you like to be our next blog guest? Customer Focus is our new feature where we focus on you! If you’d like to be featured, then please get in touch and tell us a little bit about yourself. Maybe you have a passion for landscapes, run a photography club or photography has helped you overcome a hurdle in life. We’d love to hear your story and hopefully share it too!*

 

What tempted you to try mirrorless, having resisted for quite some time?

I actually tried the Fujifilm X-T2 on a workshop back at Digital Splash 2016 and liked it then. Since then I kept on looking at mirrorless cameras at photo shows, but it was my wallet and sensible side that resisted for a while! This past year I found myself using my Canon 6D more often when going away over my 5D Mark III to save on weight, so I started thinking about mirrorless again as a further weight-saver.

Wilkinson Cameras were running a spend-and-save deal after opening the new store in Liverpool and Fujifilm had brought the price down on the X-T2, so I was able to get a really great deal on the body for £879 along with a three-year warranty – it seemed like too good of a deal to miss and time to buy the X-T2! I also thought it would be nice to treat myself to a new camera and to expand my equipment choice.

 

Giant Spectacular Little Boy Giant taken using Fujifilm X-T2

You said you purchased a Fujifilm X-T2 – which lenses have you chosen to go with that body & why?

I decided to go with the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR zoom lens for now as I wanted a quality walk-around lens that would cover the focal lengths I would likely shoot at when out-and-about. As much as I like using prime lenses, changing lenses isn’t always convenient when travelling with others in busy environments. Also, the cost of buying several primes to cover the same shooting range would cost more than the 16-55mm. It’s a bit of a hefty lens so I knew I would be losing some of the weight advantage of buying in to a Fujifilm mirrorless system, but the overall package was still lighter than the equivalent of what I was using. It also lacks OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), but I figured I would typically be shooting at fast enough shutter speeds to compensate for this, but when it came to having a quality lens (both in terms of optics and build) that had a fixed aperture of F/2.8 and weather sealing, this seemed like the best lens for me to start with.

 

Fujifilm X-T2 and 16-55mm f/2.8 lens setup

Why Fujifilm over say Sony or any of the other brands?

Well I have to admit I’m still interested (and somewhat tempted!) by the Sony Alpha series cameras, but one camera at a time for now! It’s hard not to notice the progress and development Sony has made with their cameras.

Admittedly I’m not that knowledgeable on some of the other mirrorless brands, so it was between Fujifilm and Sony for me. They seem to be the two main camera companies who have become more innovative and bolder in the past few years.

When it came to going with Fujifilm there was a certain “something” about their line of cameras that I wanted to give a go. On an aesthetic and functional level, I like the design of the cameras, which remind me of using my Canon AE-1 Program 35mm film camera, but I also like Fujifilm’s clever approach to releasing firmware updates that improve performance and introduce new features to their cameras.

 

Coastal Walk Santander taken on Fujifilm X-T2

How do you find the Fujifilm compares to your Canon DSLR? Likes & dislikes of both?

When comparing my Fuji X-T2 against my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EOS 6D this is what I like:

  • Lighter and smaller camera body
  • EVF (Electronic View Finder). For me it makes shooting quicker as I get a preview of the exposure for the final photo before I’ve even taken it
  • Manual focus assist options. Of the two manual focus assist options (Digital Split Image and Focus Peak Highlight) the Focus Peak is my favourite as it overlays an outline to hard edges and textures in focus in white, red or blue. You can also zoom-in when looking through the viewfinder to give you that extra bit of help
  • Customisation of buttons/dials. There’s a welcome amount of customisation options available on the X-T2, something I’ve never been used to with my DSLRs
  • T mode on the shutter speed dial. Allows you to set shutter speeds up to 15 minutes, useful for long exposure
  • Electronic shutter. I probably won’t use this an awful lot, but it could be useful in the right situations. It allows for a near complete silent shutter and shutter speeds up to 1/32000s
  • Aperture dial on lens. Aside from liking the feel of it, I can see the set aperture in between taking photos before even turning the camera on by just looking down at the camera. A small thing, but handy
  • Flip screen. This has come in useful for a few photos and I think for more in the future
  • In-built intervalometer and time-lapse feature

 

Shooting silently in a museum using the electronic shutter. Taken on a Fujifilm X-T2

Here are my dislikes:

  • Battery life. This is a known general weakness for mirrorless cameras, so it didn’t come as a surprise when I started using my X-T2. I’ve found shooting solidly for a whole day will run a battery down, so I bought a spare battery for going away just in case
  • Ergonomics of the grip. My DSLRs have a fuller rounded grip, which I find more comfortable to use. I bought the metal hand-grip attachment (MHG-XT2) for the X-T2 to bulk out the grip and make it more comfortable
  • Auto-focus is not as reliable. I’ve noticed the occasional photo being out of focus in a sequence of photos of static subjects for no good reason
  • Fine image quality not quite on a par with my DSLRs. This is more noticeable when zooming in on the image, but really it’s not something I will worry about as lighting, composition etc. are more important factors in any photo than the rendering of pixels
  • Delay in display of the EVF. When I put my eye to the viewfinder there can be a variation in the time it takes for the EVF to display, sometimes up to a good second. If I was shooting in a situation where I needed to respond quickly to what was happening around me that could be an issue
  • Turning on the camera to view the scene through the viewfinder. With a DSLR you can look through the viewfinder and observe the scene or arrange a composition without turning on the camera. It’s not a big deal and understandable due to the design of mirrorless, but it took me a bit of getting used to always turn the camera on to do this even if I ended up not taking a photo
  • Raw files seem to take longer to render in Lightroom 6

 

Escalator in Santander taken using the flip screen on a Fujifilm X-T2

You said you intend to keep & use both systems  – how do you envisage this working? One or the other for a particular shoot, or a bit of both?

Yes for the meantime I intend to keep both and see how it goes. At the moment the way I see this working is one or the other for certain shoots, but I’m open to changing my mind.

I’m thinking DSLR for situations where carrying the additional weight is not a concern, such as shooting in a single location or somewhere like the Lake District where I’m happy to carry extra gear in my camera rucksack and have time to stop and change lenses. I also have a great macro lens and extension tubes for detailed work for my DSLRs so they’ll definitely be my go-to for that type of work.

The Fujifilm I see more for travelling or for taking out on a casual day out in case I feel like taking a few photos. I see it as a smaller and lighter alternative.

 

Long Exposure at the Lakes. Taken on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

What do you have in mind for mirrorless – do you think this will become your take anywhere camera due to smaller size etc.?

Quite possibly! I did take a DSLR out with me a fair bit and always when travelling, but the X-T2 does have that smaller form factor and is lighter which means I’m more likely to take it out with me just in case!

Would you recommend mirrorless – and if so, why?

I would recommend that people give it a try if possible – why not? It might not be for everyone, but you won’t know until you try. Even if someone didn’t buy mirrorless after trying it out, then I think it’s interesting to try out the technology and see where it’s heading within the industry. I think hybrid systems that have larger bodies with the benefits of mirrorless, like the newly announced Canon EOS R and Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras, are going to be the focus for those companies to compete with Sony.

 

Bald Eagle taken on Fujifilm X-T2

What do you see as the key benefits?

For me I’d say the smaller and lighter body and the EVF for exposure and manual focus assist. I also think the near silent electronic shutter could be useful but I think those required situations might be few and far between for me.

Is there anything about your DSLR that you just couldn’t give up?

Probably the overall image quality and low light performance from the full-frame sensor. Also they are solid and rugged pieces of kit that have lasted me really well, so I have developed trust in them as dependable and reliable kit – it’s too early for me to say the same for the X-T2. I also have some great lenses for my DSLRs so the overall kit is a bit difficult to give up just yet!

 

Iguana taken on Canon EOS 6D & EF 100mm F2.8L

If you could add one feature to mirrorless/improve one thing, what would it be?

From my experience I’d have to say improve the battery life. The newer Sony A7 cameras sound like they have improved in that area, so I think that will be a general improvement for mirrorless cameras over time.

I’m going to cheat and add one more thing – the new Canon EOS R has a shutter that covers the sensor when the lens is removed. That’s a very good idea and reduces the potential amount of dust gathered on the sensor – that could be a bit of a problem for me with the X-T2 and I can see that idea being added to other mirrorless cameras in the future.

Are you a convert?

I’m certainly happy with my X-T2 so far so I will be keeping an eye out to see how mirrorless cameras continue to develop. As I’m still planning to use my DSLRs I’m not sure if you could say I’m a convert – perhaps I’m more of a hybrid shooter?!

 

About Andrew Wilson:

Andrew Wilson is a Liverpool based photograopher, shooting mostly on a digital camera but occasionally using his film camera.

You can find out more about Andrew Wilson at awilsonphotography.com

You can also follow Andrew on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr.

 

All images featured Copyright Andrew Wilson Photography.

 

*Please be aware that we cannot guarantee to feature every story or customer

 

The UK is the home of some of Europe’s best stargazing sites. Thanks to the dark skies and low light pollution ratings, the UK has more than 100 stargazing sites which makes it one of the best places to capture astrophotography shots. Astrophotography is challenging to capture even in the UK’s darkest spots. Here are Wilkinson’s top locations and tips for astrophotography in the UK.

 

Ennerdale, Lake District National Park, Cumbria

Ennerdale, located in the Lake District National Park, is one of the most remote valleys in the UK and is located almost two miles away from the nearest public road. This site has special stargazing events taking place all throughout the year. Weather permitting you can see an endless, illuminated band of countless stars across the night sky. Not only that, but you can also see meteor showers and, if you are lucky, the Milky Way! The Low Gillerthewaite Field Centre was the first Dark Sky Discovery centre in the North West of England and has attracted thousands of astrophotography enthusiasts who come to enjoy and shoot the spectacular scenery above.

Tip 1: Use a Tripod

Getting a great camera with the correct settings is always the first step. But, for great night sky images, a tripod is essential. You’ll be shooting with lower shutter speeds, so to ensure sharp images you’re going to need a tripod. Your own heart beat will result in blurry images beyond 1/60 second shutter speed and that’s assuming you aren’t shivering in the cold! (The clear skies which are so perfect for night sky photography also mean colder conditions!)

BONUS TIP: Remember to turn stabilisation off on your lens (or on your camera if you have in-build image stabilisation) when using a tripod. Having stabilisation turned on when mounting your camera on a tripod can result in blur due to how the stabilisation systems work.

 

 

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is the most northern National Park in the UK. It is one of the best places in the UK to perfect your astrophotography technique. The remote areas of Tomintoul and Glenlivet are particularly good for stargazing and you can see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) from the Glenlivet Estate depending on the season. Cairngorms National Park is on the same latitude as parts of Norway and Alaska, so you can see the natural wonder of the Northern Lights without having to leave the UK.

Tip 2: Use a Release Cable or Remote to Trigger the Shutter

Just as your heartbeat can sometimes affect the sharpness and clarity of your images, the movement of pressing and then releasing the shutter on your camera can do the same.  By using a shutter release cable or remote, it reduces the movement that might blur your photos further. There are a variety of remotes and release cables that you can plug right into your camera or pair via Bluetooth, meaning you can control your camera without touching it at all. Modern cameras often have the ability to be triggered by a mobile device using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This is great if you’re on a budget, but remember that this drains the battery on your camera and your phone/tablet quicker. Pair this with the cold conditions that you are likely to encounter, which also reduce battery life more quickly, and you might find yourself in trouble!

 

 

Galloway Forest National Park, Dumfries and Galloway

The Galloway Forest National Park was the first National Park in the UK to obtain a Dark Sky Status in 2009. It has been named as one of the must-visit points on a dark sky map of Scotland. You will be able to see over 7,000 stars and even the Milky Way, all of which are visible to the naked eye. At the Galloway Forest National Park we recommend visiting Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre and Bruce’s Stone for prime astrophotography opportunities. The Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre overlooks the darkest area of the Forest Park, which ensures a particularly dramatic stellar show, while Bruce’s Stone offers panoramic views of the stars over Loch Trool.

Tip 3: Bring Extra Batteries

It is easy to overlook the most important thing that you will need to bring to shoot excellent astrophotography; extra batteries! Long exposure times and cold weather at night can drain your camera batteries quickly. So, make sure you pack extra batteries whenever you’re heading out to shoot the stars.

 

 

Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

If you are looking to spot The Plough or the Polaris (most commonly known as the North Star) the best place to enjoy them is at the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. Brecon Beacons National Park is the only Dark Sky preserve in Wales and the locals are known to go to great lengths to preserve the dark sky and reduce the effects of light pollution in the Beacons. Some of the best places in the Brecon Beacons for astrophotography include the Llangorse Lake, which is the largest natural lake in South Wales and makes for great shots, as well as the Usk reservoir.

Tip 4: Learn how High your ISO can go without Noise

The higher your ISO is, the more ‘noise’ you will see in your pictures. ISO is how sensitive your camera’s sensor is. When it comes to astrophotography, noise looks a lot like colour in the sky, cloudiness and what seems to be stars everywhere. If you are looking to get this effect in your pictures, then set your ISO high. If you are looking for darker skies in your pictures, try setting your ISO lower.

 

 

Exmoor National Park, Devon

Exmoor National Park in Devon was the first international Dark Sky Reserve to be located in Europe. By visiting Exmoor in North Devon, you will be able to enjoy several astronomical beauties without the need for a telescope, which makes it a perfect astrophotography location in the UK. From Exmoor National Park you will be able to see wonders such as the Orion constellation, the Plough and parts of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) constellation depending on the season. Some of the best Dark Sky locations in Exmoor National Park are Wimbleball Lake, which is a reservoir – great for adding to your astrophotography shots – and Holdstone Hill.

 

Tip 5: Make your Aperture as Wide as Possible

It is generally a good rule of thumb to open your aperture as wide as possible to capture more light, but this depends on the lens(es) that you’re shooting with. A different way to say this is that you want your F-stop to be the lowest number possible. In most cases, an F-stop of 1.8-2.8 will be good range for astrophotography. If your lens does not go that low, you will need to set your ISO higher to make up the difference to capture more light.

 

 

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is recognised for having 26 official Dark Sky spots across the island. This is a valued attribute of the rural character and tranquillity of the island, which makes it perfect for astrophotography. Many astronomical sights can be seen with the naked eye here, including the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way and one of the Milky Way’s companion galaxies, the Great Andromeda Galaxy, depending on the season. Occasionally you can spot the Northern Lights from the North Eastern coast of the Isle of Man, making it an excellent location for astrophotography.

Tip 6: Control your Shutter to Capture the Stars

Astrophotographers aren’t all looking for the same thing: some are looking for star trails, others are looking for pin-prick stars. Depending on your preferences you will need to adjust your shutter speeds to suit the type of photo you are looking for. If you are looking for sharp, clear stars in your photos, keep your shutter speed to 15 seconds or shorter. To make sure you capture enough light to see anything at all, you’ll need a lower aperture and higher ISO. If you are looking for star trails, opt for a longer shutter speed; you can start to see star trails at 30-seconds of exposure. This again depends on your aperture, ISO and the direction you’re pointing in the sky.

 

Tip 7: Manual Focus… before you leave the house!

Autofocus systems use light; something there isn’t much of when you’re taking night sky photos! We recommend turning Auto Focus off on your lens/camera, setting the focus to infinity. Make sure you do this before you get to your location. You don’t want to be trying to find the settings in the freezing cold and dark. Then, using Live View and manual focus, set the focus on a bright object such as a star or a light in the distance. These steps, plus using a tripod, should help to ensure you have sharp images. 

 

Feeling Inspired?

Enter your Night Sky and Astrophotography images into October’s Digital Splash Awards, where you could win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers and the chance to enter The Final to win a further £500!

Autumn is the most colourful and mixed season of the year. The weather is always changing which means the scenery is always changing. The UK has many locations you can visit to take remarkable landscapes photographs in Autumn. Here are Wilkinson’s top 12!

 

The Digital Splash Awards Photography Competition theme for October 2018 is Autumn Colourenter your autumn images for a chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras Vouchers.

 

Looking for even more landscape inspiration? Take a look at our brand new (and extremely limited) Landscape Photography Weekend Workshop with David Newton & Canon.

 

Lake District, North West England 

The Lake District located in Cumbria is beautiful all year round, but especially during Autumn. There are clear days, crisp nights and there is a golden cloak of Autumnal colour that covers the hills and valleys. You can stop almost anywhere in the Lake District to take photos! Ullswater, Coniston, Grasmere, Castlerigg Stone Circle and Buttermere are just a few of the places to visit. One of the best locations is Derwent water. This is located close to Keswick, with good parking nearby. The boats, jetties and shoreline offer unlimited photography potential. Visiting in the morning offers the most atmospheric conditions, but the clear and cool nights will add interest to your shots. The Lake District is the best for panoramic views of lakes and mountains as well as lakeside shots.

Derwent Water, Lake District, North West England. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Located in Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount is a well photographed spot. The enchanting little tidal island is accessible in a few ways. At low tide you can walk across to the island using the cobbled causeway and at high tide can be accessed by boat. The mount is best shot from the beach of Marazion. At low tide the cobble causeway provides a leading line to guide the viewer’s eye towards the mount. There is plenty of parking nearby but check tide times before visiting to get the shots you want. To the east of the causeway you will find a harbour which provides an alternative view and a secondary shooting point of the mount. St Michael’s Mount is best for panoramic views of the mount and seaside shots.

St Michael's Mount. Cornwall. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

The New Forest National Park, Hampshire

The New Forest national park which is located mostly in Hampshire offers many different habitat types. Areas of oak and beech woodland, pine forest, pastureland and open heath. The national park covers 219 square miles, so it isn’t short of space. It is easily accessible by car and is nearby the small town of Lyndhurst, which hosts a helpful visitor centre and is an excellent place to start your photography. Vales Moor and Hasley Hill which are both covered in bell heather throughout Autumn is an extraordinary place to shoot. Both locations have a captivating mistiness in the morning and in the evening. The New Forest is best for stunning pond areas and misty heath purples.

The New Forest National Park, Hampshire. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Snowdonia national park which is in Northwest wales is filled with great mountains, rivers and lakeside views. There are many locations to shoot from here such as Ogwen, Llyn Gwynant, Tall-y-llyn and Capel Curig to name just a few. Here you can see breath-taking mountains mirrored in remarkably calm lakes and stunning misty valleys. The luminous greens and purples of Snowdonia capture the best moody weather and sensational landscapes. Also, Tall-y-llyn is dusted in a rusty red colouring throughout Autumn. With parking available nearby it is a location not to be missed. Snowdonia National Park is best for dramatic scenery and beautiful skies.

Snowdonia National Park, Wales. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

Richmond Park, London

Richmond Park is in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames, with an uninterrupted view of St Paul’s Cathedral 12 miles away and varied landscapes of woodlands, hills and grasslands. Richmond Park is the largest royal park in London spanning 2500 acres. The Autumn season and especially the month of October sees the annual deer breeding season, which is the perfect time to visit. Red stags and fallow bucks compete for females and clash antlers with their rivals making for stunning photographs. If you got to the park early in the morning it has a thin mist that blankets the trees and ponds creating spectacular shots. There is plenty of parking around the park too. Richmond Park is best for shots of deer and wide landscape shots.

Richmond Park, London. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

Yorkshire Dales National Park, Northern England

The Yorkshire Dales national park located in the North of England hosts a variety of scenery, it is a collection of mountainous terrain, footpaths and bridleways to explore and has some bizarre ruins and rock formations. The Ribblehead Viaduct, Whernside, Cowdide Beak or Bolton Abbey are all magnificent places to go and shot some pictures. There is parking available near all the locations. At Ribblehead Viaduct the walking track leading up to the viaduct makes an alluring wavy leading line for the viewer’s eye. Also, the backlit viaduct through a silhouette into your pictures. The Yorkshire Dales national park is best for rolling green hills and curious rock formations.

Ribblehead Viaduct, Yorkshire Dales National Park. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

Jurassic Coast, East Devon to Dorset

Spanning 96 miles form East Devon to Dorset is the Jurassic coast. It has an array of cliffs and dramatic bays. Several the best places to shoot are Old Harry Rocks, Burton Bradstock, Chesil Beach and Durdle Door. Although only viewable from a few limited points the grand rock arch Durdle Door is not to be missed. Parking Is also available nearby. Durdle Door I best shot in Autumn when the sun is in a perfect position to envelope the rock arch in a warm light around sunset. Also, you can shoot on the beach with the shoreline and waves as foreground interest. The Jurassic coast is best for looming cliffs, crystal-clear sea and sandy coves.

Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast, East Devon to Dorset. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

Glencoe and Rannoch Moor, Scotland

Located in the Scottish highland Glencoe and Rannoch Moor offers many tremendous photo opportunities. Glencoe is surrounded by towering mountain peaks, stretching from Rannoch Moor to Loch Leven. The mountain peaks during Autumn offer beautiful red and orange colourings to stand out in photographs. The Black Rock Cottage, which is a desolate cottage, dwarfed by the mountains creates a stunning foreground for photographs. In Autumn the colouring of the trees and mountain make this location seem eerie and remote. Glencoe and Rannoch Moor is best for mountain landscape photography and valley shots.

Black Rock Cottage, Glencoe, Scotland. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

Black Rock Cottage by John McSporran

Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales

The Brecon Beacons national park is in South Wales. Brecon Beacons offers spectacular views, waterfalls and beautiful sunsets. Be sure to check the sunrise and sunset times before visiting to get the shots you want as they are stunning to photograph in Autumn. The red sun casts light across the national park and when caught perfectly makes for extraordinary photographs. Low cloud sometimes covers the national park with the hills sticking above the clouds, a scene and a shot not to be missed. You will never be short of dazzling locations or parking here. The Brecon Beacons national park is best for sunset and waterfall shots.

Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

Buachaille Etive Mor, Scotland

Located just five minutes’ drive from Black Rock Cottage in Glencoe is Buachaille Etive Mor. With streams, rivers, peaks and a loch, this is the best place to shoot the natural beauty of Scotland. Taking up a low viewpoint makes the most of the little waterfalls here, with the added autumnal colours making this location very impressive. Parking is available with the waterfalls being only a 30-second walkaway. Buachaille Etive Mor is the best for waterfall, rivers and peak shots.

Buachaille Etive Mor, Scotland. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe by John McSporran

Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor

Wistman’s Wood is in Dartmoor national park in Devon. Wistman’s Wood is full of green moss-covered boulders, surround by draping, dwarf oaks. As well as other locations around Dartmoor national park, Wistman’s Wood is an excellent place to take photos with an added fantasy feel. In Autumn Wistman’s Wood lookers eerier than usual. Add in some morning mist to the equation and your pictures will turn out incredible. There is parking available nearby to Wistman’s Wood as well as for the Dartmoor national park. Wistman’s Wood is best for eerie and ancient woodland shots.

Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor National Park, Dartmoor. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

River Avon, South West England

The River Avon spans a large area of South West England. Some of the best locations along the River Avon are the stretches from Trowbridge to Bath and under Clifton suspension bridge. There is parking available all around the River Avon, so you will never be short of places to stop and take some photographs. In Autumn as all the leaves are turning red, orange and brown the view from Clifton suspension bridge is astonishing. With the architecture of the bridge and the beauty of the autumnal leaves on the tress this is the perfect autumnal location! The River Avon is best for river, bridge and canal boat shots.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, River Avon, South West England. Top 12 Autumnal Landscape Locations

 

 

 

In our last blog feature, we looked at how to encourage your children to take an interest in the ‘magic’ of image making. We gave Wilki’s top tips on keeping them interested, encouraging their creativity and also looked at some great cameras, and printing ideas to getting started.

Following on from this, we spoke to several of your favourite pro photographers – to find out exactly how they share their knowledge and passion for photography – while keeping it fun, relaxed and creative:

 

Kevin Mullins:  Following in Dad’s footsteps

Wedding photographer Kevin Mullins (@kevinmullinsphotography)  is a big fan of sharing the knowledge in a free flowing, fun way: I gave Rosa (aged 9) my Fujifilm X30 and she loves it. She sees me shooting all the time and tries to emulate it. I leave the X30 in the kitchen so it’s easy for her to just grab it if we are going out. She see’s things in a very different way to me – her perspective is much more innocent I think. ‘Sure, I give her advice. I talk to her about using light and also composition but I’m conscious of over complicating it for her. I want it to be fun, not a chore.’

 

Budding BAFTA nominees….

Fine Art Landscape Photographer & Mindfulness workshop host Paul sanders (facebook.com/paulsandersphotography) , has also been helping his son enjoy photography – or rather using a traditional DSLR camera to create stop motion animations:

 

 

‘My son Noah (who was just 7 at the time of filming!) really enjoys taking pictures but his real passion is for making stop motion animation films using his Lego figures.

‘He’s been a film buff for a number of years and enjoys writing so when he asked if he could make a movie I gave him a few pointers. After a few failed attempts with his phone, my iPad and a compact camera he ended up using my old Canon 5D Mark III with a macro lens, with some torches for lighting.

‘He was totally absorbed in it for an entire day, it was quite something to see and I secretly enjoyed it as much as he did!’

 

Baxter Bradford:  A family holiday ‘with photography’

 

‘Last year we went to Iceland on a family holiday ‘with photography’.  Both children (now 18 & 20) have shown an interest in photography over the years – digital technology has been a massive big enabler. With features such as the electronic viewfinder the kids can see exactly what they are going to get and check basic exposures etc.

This means they can get off ‘auto’ when they need to – and start to explore a bit of the technical side – without pressure – and it also cuts down on post processing.  Both gained a lot of creative inspiration from features such as the panoramic and double exposure modes – resulting in some lovely ‘alternative’ images.

 

In Iceland we all shot on Fujifilm – I had an X-T2 and Max & Josie X-T1’s.  This was really useful as we could then all share lenses. At viewpoints we often headed in different directions – each reacting to the landscape in our own individual way.

Each evening we reviewed our images and started to select the best pictures – looking at what worked and what didn’t.  After the trip we combined all of our images to produce a Photobook of our trip, which is a great way to look back and enjoy the trip over and over again.

Visit facebook.com/BaxterBradfordPhotography to see Baxter Bradford’s work.

 

Looking for something a bit different?

Load up the bird feeder and enjoy and afternoon of ‘wildlife’ spotting in the garden or at the park with some trendy binoculars. Get the camo gear out, hunker down in the long grass and pretend you’re in the Serengeti.  Face paint and hat with corks for the mozzies is an optional extra for the adults!

Kit Suggestion:

 

The sky’s the limit!

And if you fancy a night sat around the campfire toasting marshmallows and sharing tall stories, then why not consider a telescope for some family stargazing.  There are some great free Apps available to help you work out what’s what – and on a dark night you might even see the Milky Way.

Wrap up warm and watch for shooting stars – make a wish.

Kit Suggestion:

Bushnell Voyager Telescope

For these are the moments in time, which we all remember fondly – and when your little people have little people of their own – these will be the tales they can share around their own campfire.  These will be the stories that take them right back to those early adventures, or make us all smile every time we see our pictures on the wall.

It’s easy to do and doesn’t have to be expensive – so get out there, have some fun and start putting together YOUR little treasure chest of memories.

 

Wilkinson Cameras offers a huge range of printing options – in store in each of its 9 stores, plus a full online service for those further afield.  We have a great selection of prints, wall art, photobooks and gift ideas – so take a look now.
For more information:
www.wilkinson.co.uk
Facebook: Wilkinson Cameras
Twitter: @wilkicameras
Instagram: @wilkinsoncameras

 

Keeping the kids occupied during the holidays can be a challenge, often competing with the TV, the X-Box or the ‘dreaded’ smart phone (although see how you can put it to good use further down the article!) with social media addiction.

SO… why not venture out this holiday and explore a ‘treasure’ hunt of your own –creating memories that will last forever?

 

More images than ever are being captured every single day – whether that be on phones, tablets or cameras.   We post more images on social media than ever before – we shoot what we’ve had for breakfast, ‘selfies’ with our friends, the weather, you name it.  And then what…very little!

So how do we get our ‘little people’ to engage in photography in order preserve those precious adventures and experiences for years to come?  How do we make photography exciting? Encourage creative freedom? Capture their attention and imagination?

Print & Preserve

At the same time we are shooting more pictures, we are printing less – and there is a real danger that the ‘family archive’ could be lost for generations to follow.  Billions of images are being taken worldwide every single day, but only a tiny, tiny, fraction of those ever make it to print.

Come on, everyone loves to open a tin of old photos that you’ve found in the attic, sit and look though and old family album, or for a more modern twist drink your coffee out of a cup with your favourite ‘mug’ shot!

So plaster those walls with fabulous adventures and enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling every time you walk by and smile at those special memories.   It’s time to act before images are lost forever!

 

Fresh Air & Photos

Getting the kids interested and involved in photography has so many benefits.  From getting them (and you!) off the sofa and out into the fresh air, to visiting new places, seeing new things, sharing new experiences – noticing and enjoying the detail as well as the ‘big picture’ on mini adventures.

You don’t have to go on an exotic holiday – a mini adventure could be in the back garden or local park – or a plan a ‘micro-adventure’ to somewhere new.

 

Rough & Tumble

These days, there are plenty of ‘tough’ cameras out there so you don’t have to hand over your own precious camera.  There are some great cameras specifically designed for our younger folk – which look super fun, are easy to use – and are pretty indestructible too!

It’s also important to remember that even images taken on mobile devices are generally now of such good quality they can be printed, framed, or made into a variety of groovy gift ideas.

 

The Wilki Team, together with some of our pro photographer friends, have put together a few tips for finding the budding ‘Rankin’ within:

  1. Visit somewhere that the kids are really interested in. A farm park for the wildlife, the seaside for rock pools, people watching in town, or get the waterproofs on (it is the UK after all) and head for the hills.

Kit suggestion:  Take a look at the Nikon W100 which is packed with child friendly features – aside from being droppable and waterproof, it can even quack or woof when a picture is taken! It has customisable backgrounds, noises and fun picture modes – guaranteed giggles as well as photos.

Available in Blue and Yellow, the Nikon W100 – With worry-free durability it’s the perfect camera for all round family fun

  1. Keep it simple – and quick – the little ones’ attention span is often short. Think about setting them a mini challenge, but keep it fun. We may not be ready for a lecture on white balance or RAW files just yet – think colours, or eye spy. With digital, comes instant results – don’t hamper their flow – but perhaps do a mini review when you get home and choose the best pictures to print.

Kit suggestions:  Keep it simple, keep it fast with these nifty instant prints from both Polaroid (it’ll take the older ones back in time!) and the super fun Fuji Instax printers.

Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film Camera in white, yellow, pink , blue and black

3. The best camera for you is often the one that you have with you. Even a lot of kids have smartphones these days; but if not, Mum and Dad certainly do. The KiiPix is an instant photo printer designed to work with smartphones and Fujifilm Instax film so you can print off real photographs taken on your mobile. It’s a great combination of digital photography and hands-on fun that children will love. Most importantly, at just £39.99, it won’t be breaking the (piggy) bank either!

For lager instant printing at home from a camera, tablet or smartphone, you can also consider the Canon Selphy Printer.

Tomy KiiPix Instant Printer for smartphones using Fujifilm Instax polaroid film

Marvel with the kids as their images ‘develop’ before their eyes like magic! For these are the moments in time, which we all remember fondly – and when your little people have little people of their own – these will be the tales they can share around their own campfire.  These will be the stories that take them right back to those early adventures, or make us all smile every time we see our pictures on the wall.

It’s easy to do and doesn’t have to be expensive – so get out there, have some fun and start putting together YOUR little treasure chest of memories.

 

Enjoyed this blog? Then keep an eye out for Part 2 – where we interview some of your favourite pro’s, to find out how they engage their own children in photography, video and film-making.

We also look at some extra ideas to keep the little ones engaged with the magic of image making.
Wilkinson Cameras offers a huge range of printing options – in store in each of its 9 stores, plus a full online service for those further afield.  We have a great selection of prints, wall art, photobooks and gift ideas – so take a look now.
For more information:
www.wilkinson.co.uk
Facebook: Wilkinson Cameras
Twitter: @wilkicameras
Instagram: @wilkinsoncameras

Continuing our ‘Year of Print’ theme, this month we invited Wilki customer and photographer Andrew Wilson, to take over the blog and share his printing journey. 

Andrew shares with us his printing experiences, advice and journey behind bringing his images to life…

 

Printing has become one of my favourite parts of photography. For me it feels like it completes the process of creating a photograph; shoot, process then print. Seeing and feeling your photo in a physical form gives you a tactile experience back to the moment you pressed the shutter.

It still feels like early days with my inkjet printer but I’ve been enjoying the learning process. Here it is so far.

 

Background

Although I bought my first inkjet printer (an Epson R240) back in 2007, I don’t feel like my experience with printing my own photos really started until about 2012 when I decided to explore the magic of darkroom printing. Seeing my photos come to life in a tray of developer chemical was a special experience that I have fond memories of. I stopped doing it for various reasons, but needless to say it was a great learning experience.

 

Over the years since then I’ve exhibited my photos and given some as gifts. For this I needed to source good printing companies for different needs, and because of this I’ve built up knowledge about different materials, papers and finishes.

 

Then at the end of last year I bought my current printer. At Digital Splash ’16 I saw the quality produced by current inkjet printers had come a long way since my first. I was seriously impressed and knew straight away that I wanted one, I just had to wait patiently until the end of last year when I had space.

 

My choice of printer

After some “umm”-ing , “ahhh”-ing and some serious chin-stroking, the printer I ended up getting was an Epson SureColour P800. When I was looking at features that gave me the most options at a price I was willing to pay, this was the one.

A few things made up my mind, the first thing being that the SureColour series of printers have a roll feed attachment. This gives you the option to print panoramic photos or to print A2 photos in a cost-effective way. It’s certainly something to think about when looking around at different brands.

Initially I looked at the P600 model but the main long-term drawback for me was that it prints up to a maximum size of A3+, whereas the P800 can go up to A2. It’s a big difference in size, and although the P800 is roughly twice the cost of the P600, in my mind it was worth spending extra to have the option to print larger.

Finally, the last thing that clinched it for me was the many great reviews they have received.

 

Additional equipment

For printing I have been using a range of papers by Fotospeed and Permajet. Both companies produce a wide range of great papers (photo and fine art) as well as canvas and I’ve been very pleased with the results.

I process my photos in Adobe Lightroom and use the ‘Print’ module to send my photos to my printer from my PC. It took me a bit of time to get my head around the layout, but once I did I found it surprisingly efficient and flexible for my needs.

A handy bit of kit that I didn’t expect to buy is a Rotatrim cutter. I don’t use it often, but when I do it’s so much quicker, neater and efficient than using a knife and ruler to trim my prints.

I also have a 27” Dell IPS monitor, ideal for processing photos, which I calibrated recently with an X-rite i1 tool. The monitor has done me proud for over five years.

 

What I enjoy about printing my own work

All this technical talk is important for getting good results, but what really matters is enjoying the experience of seeing your work in print. It’s a tactile experience that gives you a different appreciation for your photography. For me the difference is that when I look at my photos on a screen I feel happy with a photo I have taken, but with a print I feel happy with a photo I have created.

I also think that seeing my work in print makes my photography better. I’m not sure why but seeing it in this form gives me some distance from it; I can be a bit less attached and see the photo more for what it is. When I see a photo printed out I sometimes see a way to improve it that never occurred to me when I looked at it on a screen.

One of the great things about having my own printer is the immediacy in being able to create a print whenever I feel like. Every so often I like to make an A4 print or a few just to see how certain photos look when printed. I never did this when I had to order prints because the wait and cost for one or two prints at a time didn’t make sense.

This immediacy also gave me the idea to do print giveaways for my blogs and I’ve given the odd one as a gift or ‘thank-you’ to friends, family and people who have helped me out. It’s so easy to get used to seeing your own photos and take them for granted, but when someone tells me that receiving one of my prints has made their day it’s a great feeling.

 

What I have learnt – so far!

One of the first things I realised is that there’s a lot of choice of paper, and to someone completely new to printing photos it might come as a bit of a surprise. There’s three basic types of paper finish; glossy, lustre and matt. I use paper with lustre or matt finishes as I like the look and feel of these when compared to the reflective surface you get with gloss paper, but it’s certainly down to personal preference.

My favourite type of paper is probably a baryta paper like Fotospeed’s Platinum Baryta 300, which looks like a lustre finish but is described as having an unglazed gloss surface. It’s a fibre-based fine art paper with a satisfying weighty feel, subtle textured finish and depth of colour.

 

For something a little different I enjoyed seeing the results of a few photos on Permajet’s Titanium Lustre 280 paper, as the subtle metallic lustre finish really gave the colours a unique sheen to suit the subject’s metallic nature.

In addition to the more expensive papers, I’ve found it handy to have a box of A4 lustre photo paper (like Fotospeed’s PF Lustre 275) for when I just want to see how a photo looks on good photo paper. I can then save my best paper for another time.

 

When I started printing I decided to buy test packs by Fotospeed and Permajet. With these packs you get a handy cross section of different types of paper which is a smart way to try them out compared to buying whole boxes of single types of paper. You might even want to try printing the same photo across different papers to compare how the paper type changes the look of photos, for example some paper might be more textured than others or have a warmer tint to it. I use two photos from a trip to Oslo – one colour that has a range of bold colours and one black & white that features smooth gradients in tone, crisp lines and subtle textures. It’s a great way to get an idea of what you like best and get an idea for the wealth of options.

 

What’s next?

I’m always learning and keen to fine tune my skills, so here are the next few things on my printing ‘to do’ list!

  • Send off test charts to Fotospeed/Permajet to get customised profiles for different papers tailored to my printer. This will help me to achieve the most accurate colours from screen to print. It might also save me some ink which would be a bonus!
  • Try out different papers like Fotospeed’s recently released Cotton Etching 305 paper and explore more of PermaJet’s papers. I also want to branch out and try paper by the likes of Hahnemühle and Canson to expand my knowledge and possibly find some new favourite papers.
  • Make a photobook! I love photobooks and notice that themes, series or a collection of photos work best. I have some small series of macro photos in mind and also have fond memories and photos from holidays. My girlfriend is talented at making books, so hopefully she can teach me some skills!

 

Many thanks to Andrew for sharing his journey with us all – if you’d like to find out more about Andrew’s work you can find him here:

www.awilsonphotography.com

www.instagram.com/andrew_wilson_photo

www.facebook.com/andrewwilsonphoto/

www.twitter.com/and_rew_wilson

 

Learn with Wilki

We run a range of printing related courses for all experience levels–from getting started with home printing, right through to courses with our pro partners including Epson, Aspect2i and coming soon, photographer Mark Wood. Join us on social media for all the latest training news–or click here, to take a look at our Learning section on our website.

 

A Historical & Contemporary Perspective from the Royal Photographic Society

Continuing on our mission to inspire more people to think about printing photographs, we wanted to explore a more historical view, so spoke with Dr Michael Pritchard, Chief Executive at the Royal Photographic Society.

As well as being Chief Executive of The RPS, Michael is a photographic historian with a particular interest in British photographers, photographic manufacturing and retailing up to the present day. He’s also a keen landscape photographer.

The RPS has also been working hard over recent years to highlight the importance of printing images, with Michael doing many online and radio interviews to promote the topic–past, present and future.

The dark room may be long gone for many (and a part of history for some of the purely digital generations), but we look back through how paper and chemistry has played such a key role in the development of photography as we know it–and equally how important it is to continue to print our own images today, at home or in store.

Paper: The Negative & Positive

For most of photography’s history paper has been intrinsic to it. Although the first commercial photographic process, the daguerreotype (1839), made use of a silvered-metal plate this was rather a technical dead-end. It was Talbo’s photogenic drawing (c1835) and then Calotype processes (1841) which laid the basis for modern photography producing a negative from which multiple positive prints could be made. Paper was used to produce both the negative and positive. Its drawback was that it was the paper fibres which took up the chemicals to produce a slightly soft, but arguably more artistic result than the daguerreotype–a positive only – with its sharply defined subject. The Calotype was used to best effect by Talbot, Hill and Adamson and a small group of photographers, particularly in France.

 

With the introduction of the wet-collodion process by Scott Archer in 1851 glass was used for the negative and the light-sensitive emulsion was coated on to its surface, producing an image unaffected by its support. For positive prints, salted paper was initially used but albumen paper which had been introduced in 1847 quickly won out. The emulsion was coated on to the surface of the paper rather than forming an image within it. Although albumen was overtaken by gelatine papers towards the end of the nineteenth century and there were other printing processes and techniques such as Platinum and Printing Out, with a very few exceptions such as Opalotype and ferrotype/tintype, they all relied on paper. For the negative glass was joined by celluloid.

 

The period from the late 1890s through to the 1930s was perhaps the heyday of photographic printing paper. Gelatine was usually the medium used to take up the silver salts which was coated on the paper and there were many tens of paper weights, tones, and finishes from matt to high gloss being offered for sale by a large number of manufacturers. These were initially hand coated using the apocryphal teapot, but from the later 1880s mechanisation was introduced to provide standardisation, consistency, quality control and the ability to mass-produce papers to meet the demand from a burgeoning amateur and professional market.

 

After the second world war the number of papers reduced as some became uneconomic to produce. The traditional ‘fibre-based’ papers were increasingly supplemented by resin-coated papers for a lot of commercial photography offering faster drying times and crisper images, particularly for press and industrial photography. The number of paper surfaces and paper weights declined as they, too, become uneconomic to manufacture. By the 1980s, Kodak, Ilford, Agfa and a number of smaller, specialist firms such as Kentmere, Seagull and others, supplied most of the market.

During the nineteenth century up to the 1880s, the largest market was from commercial studios but from the 1880s there was a rapid growth in amateur photographers making their own prints as a hobby and participating in camera club competitions and salons.

 

Digital Decline & Advances

The advent of digital photography further exacerbated the decline in traditional photographic papers from the early 2000s as photographers migrated from film to digital and the smartphone became the camera of choice for youngsters and the snapshotter. Instead of every photograph on a roll of film being printed by the photographer or through a D&P outlet the majority of today’s digital images remain on a memory card or shared via social media and remain only in a digital form, rarely printed.

However, for the professional photographer, commercial lab and amateur doing their own printing, digital has brought a renaissance in printing papers. Not traditional light-sensitive photographic paper, but papers suitable for printing through inkjet and other ink-based printers from digital files. Papers range from watercolour-style to more specialist papers such as a Japanese tissue, archival and rag papers, and others with particular characteristics, in a range of weights, sizes, tones, densities and surfaces, much as they did one hundred years ago. In fact, there are probably more papers available to the photographic printer than there ever has been, offering new creative possibilities and opportunities for experimentation.

The Great Paper Chase Made Simple

With such a wealth of papers and economical printers available there is now no excuse to leave images just as digital files. Instead, choose and select your best and have them printed, either commercially or print your own–choosing from the huge range of high quality printers now available.

 

Wilkinson Cameras top 6 Paper Recommendations:

Best for… Testing

This sample pack is only £10 for 20 sheets of Permajet’s 6 most popular papers. It’s a great way to try out some different papers without committing to a full pack. Better yet, you can claim the price of your first Sample Pack back when you buy any full pack of Permajet Paper!

Best for… Every Day

This is a great quality, yet affordable, gloss paper suited for a vareity of uses. A mirror-like, high gloss finish on a heavyweight base of 280gsm with a slightly warm base tint. A Wilki favourite used across all our stores for in-house printing.

Another high quality, affordable choice. A luxurious pearl finish on a 280gsm base with a warm base tint – designed to emulate the finish and texture of the old Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl.

Best for… Fine Art

This smooth textured 100% cotton paper adds depth and dimension to your fine art images. It is ideal for both colour and monochrome high contrast images and is ideally suited to landscapes and portraiture. No wonder is is a favourite of Trevor and Faye Yerbury!

A textured, matte, cotton rag paper suited to both colour and monochrome prints. This paper has a velvet-like texture which adds to the fine art finish and feel.

Best for… Black and White

A photo paper truly resembling the look, feel and print quality of a metallic surface with its high silver pigment content. Good for colour too, but try this on your monochrome images and you will be seriously impressed! The tonal highlights and greys are incredible.

A true barium sulphate layer has been meticulousy applied to the traditional fibre base, resulting in intense, rich blacks and creamy whites. Perfect for monochrome and particularly suited to portraiture.

 

 

Dr Michael Pritchard, concluded: “Photography’s first 160 years has provided a wonderful historical record. It’s equally important that everyone taking pictures today prints at least some to ensure that future generations of historians have a visual record of today’s people and society.”

Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS

Chief Executive

The Royal Photographic Society

www.rps.org

www.facebook.com/royalphotographicsociety

 

Learn with Wilki

We run a range of printing related courses for all experience levels–from getting started with home printing, right through to courses with our pro partners including Epson, Aspect2i and coming soon, photographer Mark Wood. Join us on social media for all the latest training news–or click here, to take a look at our Learning section on our website

 

 

To my mind and I am sure many others, spring is full of hope and rebirth and our spring photography should attempt to convey these sentiments.

The still image has no music or dialogue to accompany it and its role to awaken in the viewer a sense of the ‘joys of spring’ is not necessarily straightforward.

As landscape photographers, we know only too well that simply pointing our perhaps very sophisticated cameras at a spring landscape that appears to us to be beautiful, does not by any means return to us an image that evokes the human emotional response that we had when we stood there savoring and relishing the full-on spring experience.

 

When it comes to the business of photographing, it often pays to treat the photograph as more of a production.  The photograph will have many elements within it that will hopefully integrate together to become a hugely pleasing and cohesive and whole. There is a great deal to be said for a good thorough recce of a scene where a little pre-visualisation will pay good dividends.  Noticing absolutely everything is a good start. After all in the very first instance, surely photography is about perception.

Many of the first leaves of spring will be quite yellow and will have a great amount of moisture in them. They are not the deep low light reflecting leaves that one may see in August. There is nothing quite like a grove of silver birch a few days after their leaves first emerge and with a little oblique sunshine, those leaves will sizzle and sparkle and will hopefully convey a glorious spring feel.

As with all landscape photography, light and the quality of that light will dictate mood and a host of other things. Attend to the way in which certain surfaces reflect and absorb light. Perhaps estimate the effect that a polarizer will prior to putting it on the camera by gently rotating the filter in front of you. A polarizing filter will have a marked effect on sky and landscape. Those sparkling new leaves on the silver birch tree may become very less sparkly by using a polarizing filter. After all one of their functions is to reduce white light reflection from an assortment of reflective surfaces and every surface reflects light to a greater or lesser extent, even the highest quality black velvet.

 

Perhaps image of spring needs to carry with it a sense of the dawn of time. Mist may facilitate the feeling.

Unless fully intended, consider making a photograph without menace and theatrical drama to it. Think light and perhaps not brooding skies full of rain unless to contrast with the magical emergence of spring.

In traditional landscape painting, one third of the sky is devoted to the sky. In my observation, this ratio prevails in much landscape photography. It is very easy to see the sky almost as an afterthought and accept the sky that prevails at the time. Look up, as with a good wind above, there may be a sky on its way that may have a far better relationship to the land beneath than the sky you first saw. Sometimes the clouds that are not contained within your image can play a more significant role than the ones that are.

 

Spring is about hope and the photograph you make of it should instill a sense of optimism, hope and joy in the mind of the viewer. Of course, the main signal that heralds spring is surely the flower and in the UK, the daffodil and the snowdrop must be the most popular.

Technique is entirely dependent on the numerous considerations that prevail at the time. Total fluency with the cameras functionality is crucial.

Then there is the poppy, which of course is not always associated with spring, but bear in mind the colour red is the most obstinate of all colours to comply with what you feel you saw yet often fails to appear on the monitor or indeed the transparency. Folk will talk of gamut and red is often discussed within photography printing circles sometimes as the demon red. When photographing poppies, try to prevent them forming into one huge red blob with little or no separation.

 

If you are in that wonderful evolving stage of  photography (we are always evolving creatively of course) then do look at other photographers work either on their sites or in magazines, post cards et. There will be much to respond to when you have a moment to do so. Think about why you like a particular image and perhaps why you may not warm to it. Influence is not a crime; we are all subconsciously or consciously influenced but every conceivable visual image and this will always be the way it is. Look at great photographers work with flowers like Sue Bishop and explore what it is within the image and its construction that makes you respond favorably.

To my mind, I urge all landscape photographers to relish the months of April and May. The issue is that they are too short.

 

Words & pictures by Charlie Waite.

 

About Charlie Waite

Established as one of the world’s leading Landscape photographers, Charlie Waite is an English landscape photographer noted for his ‘painterly approach’ towards his work. Photographing across the globe, Waite also likes to dedicate his time inspiring and improving the photography of others, lecturing throughout the UK, Europe and the US. He has held numerous one-man exhibitions all over the world, including London, Tokyo, Sydney, Brisbane, Melborne, Bielsko-Biała, New York and California. Waite has given and continues to give tuition to amateur, professional and aspiring photographers of all ages from the UK, Australia, Europe and the US through Light and Land Workshops, of which he is owner and founder. To see more of Charlie Waite’s work visit www.charliewaite.com

 

 

 

 

When it comes to spectacular winter photography few photographers spring to mind faster than our friend and Aspect2i founder, Paul Gallagher.  His ‘Digital Darkroom’ talks at Splash, were an inspiration for many.

For the first in our series of Guest blog spots this year, we caught up with Paul to explore a snow-packed winter trip with a difference – Japan! 

Not the first location associated with snowy images, but as Paul explains, Hokkaido ticked all the boxes, delivered an exquisite collection of images and has become one of his favourite workshop locations.

 

‘I love winter photography and in good snow conditions it explores the simplistic and minimalist nature of a landscape in the depths of the winter. The landscape is transformed and essentially simplified by the deep snow leaving a very elemental canvas with which to work. This provides both advantages and challenges. The extreme cold temperatures can be challenging but the rewards are immeasurable. I had been to many countries during the winter including Iceland, Norway and Scotland, but ‘true’ snow conditions were never really guaranteed so I had to travel further afield.

‘One location that I knew ticked all of the boxes was the island of Hokkaido in Japan and in February 2017 I headed out there for the first time. I had intended to travel here for many years because of the perfect winter snow and I decided to one day run a photography workshop – this was to be the research trip.

‘The best way to make efficient use of my time was to employ local guide/ driver who knew all the best locations and how to get there. This proved to be an excellent decision. The main challenges were the temperatures – and keeping your kit dry during blizzards. The cold temperatures did not hinder the kit at all but your fingers gradually stop working when it reaches minus 18 degrees! It goes without saying that snow boots and a down jacket are essential in conditions like this.

‘A body of work is normally built up over a period of time and often takes several visits to a location to achieve. Hokkaido on the other hand was entirely different. During my ten days, there I had every conceivable type of winter condition, blizzards, snow with no wind, sunlight and black storm skies, it was perfect. I worked flat out and seized every opportunity I could and could hardly believe how lucky I was!

 

Winter Exposures

‘As with all landscape photography, you must check to see if your exposure right. Don’t forget that shooting in snow will fool your camera exposure meter to underexpose and I normally over expose by 1.5 to 2 stops.

‘I had seen photographs from Hokkaido and other deep winter landscapes from all over the world so I pretty much knew what I wanted to get when I was out there. The problem with other locations I had been to, was that the conditions I was hoping for, sometimes did not materialise. Simplicity and negative space was my aim and I was surrounded by this every day.

 

‘In most landscapes, the photographer is trying to distil the composition to make the photograph less cluttered and confusing. In Hokkaido, the snow did this for me. As excited as you may get the tip is to take your time. It is all too easy to get excited and carried away and before you know it you have a series of images were the exposure is wrong or you have had a rain spot on your lens which has ruined a lot of your files. Also, take the time to inspect every exposure on the back of your camera. I use a Hoodman Loupe which I place on the back screen of the camera. It cuts out all of the peripheral light and magnifies the camera screen. This enables me to take a closer look at my focus and also my histogram. This only takes a few seconds but ensures that when I get back to my computer, I am not going to be disappointed.’

 

Winter Photography:  What’s In the Bag

‘The kit I used for the trip was a Nikon D800e with the 24-70mm and 24mm PC-E tilt and shift lens, 16-53mm.  But the real workhorse was my new 80-400mm! ‘The quality of the files from the D800e is exceptional (I now use the D850 and they are even better!), but the 80-400mm lens almost never left the camera.

 

‘Given the depth of the snow, it was incredibly difficult to walk across the landscape without being waist deep in it. The long focal length of the 80-400mm lens enabled me in many situations to get tight into the subject. Whilst using this lens I cannot stress the importance of a sturdy tripod – at the 400mm extension any movement will be magnified and will soften your image, particularly if there is wind about. Also, if you have tripod spikes, fit them! Rubber feet on frozen ground do not work and I have actually seen photographers delving into their bags whilst their tripod graciously slides down the slope! My current tripod of choice is the Gitzo GT3543XLS with long spikes and Manfrotto 405 geared head.

 

‘The solitude and pristine nature of the landscape and fresh snow every day made this trip a winter landscape photographers dream. During my time there I was hardly ever stuck for subjects to photograph, in fact, the challenge was moving on to new locations during the day!’

 

For more information:

www.aspect2i.co.uk

www.paulgallagher.co.uk

 

 

 

As photographers, when we walk through our local communities we’re often scouting the landscape around us for good picture opportunities… but how often do we ever look up? Buildings can be great subjects for striking images, and at this time of year when the sun is getting lower in the sky you have a great opportunity to capture the shape and form of architecture and present it in a way most people might not have seen.

 

1. When to shoot architecture

Buildings often look their best just after sunset, when their lights have come on and the sky is a rich, deep blue. Likewise, photographing just before sunset you’ll find that the lower light levels will bring out textures, detail and shadows that you won’t find at any other time of day.

Head out in late afternoon as the day is turning into evening and look for a west-facing building. The best subjects are those with crisp, clean lines that will provide clearly defined shapes in your images.

You want something that really makes the most of the low evening light. Cathedrals and other historical buildings always make for great subjects, but these are also oft-photographed subjects. A nice way to create an architectural image with impact is to look for a more modern building that meets the above criteria and think about how you can give it an abstract treatment.

It doesn’t need to be an important building, and you don’t need to travel to London to find it. Often a simple car park or high-rise block of flats will have that futuristic look that you can really hone in on with your camera.

Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s think about how we can pick out a building’s abstract architectural details and then frame and focus a shot.

 

2. Set a narrow aperture

Like when shooting landscapes, nine times out of ten when shooting architecture you want everything in the frame to be sharp. So to this end you’ll want to use a narrow aperture (high f number). Typically an aperture of f/13 or f/16 will be a good starting point. You’ll find at these apertures a nice compromise between image quality and depth of field.

Architects love detail. And to ensure you capture these, along with a building’s strong lines and shape, you’ll want an aperture that widens your zone of sharpness.

 

3. Look for interesting shapes and detail

Of course, to maximise the effect of those details you need to find them first! Buildings are tall, wide structures and can be overwhelming when you first look at them. Knowing where to focus on takes some investigation.

A good way to train your eye is to look for any areas where there are repetitive shapes or details. These almost always make for interesting subjects when you zoom in to isolate them.

Likewise, strong diagonal lines can add impact to a composition. You can also try tilting your camera to make an image even more abstract. When going for this kind of treatment, make sure you exclude from your composition any elements that may give away the context of the environment.

Sometimes it is admittedly hard to identify these areas of a building or simply know if a composition will work when you’re composing through your viewfinder. That’s why it’s often worth using your live view screen and even taking a few test shots first to judge a composition.

A good exercise is to use your viewfinder to frame.

 

4. Don’t always use a tripod

Most architectural photos are shot with a tripod, particularly if you’re shooting just before or after sunset. But sometimes, if there’s enough light, you can come away with more dynamic images when you take the camera into your own hands.

Shooting handheld gives you the freedom to move around and try out different angles. There are ways you can still keep camera shake at bay even when the light levels are low. For starters, if your camera or lens has image stabilisation, turn it on.

You can also secure the camera better by adopting a wide stance and tucking your arms in to support your camera. Then, as you press the shutter button, take a deep breath to steady yourself; this will help cut down on any body movements during the exposure.

 

5. Use a circular polarising filter

If you only buy one filter for your camera, make sure it’s a circular polariser. When shooting architecture you’re often pointing your camera up, and a good circular polarising filter will deepen the blues in a sky and brighten the whites in clouds.

To get the best results with a circular polariser, shoot with the sun behind or in front of you. In other words, a circular polariser will produce more dramatic effects when you shoot at right angles to the sun.

 

6. Be patient and wait

Unlike skittish wildlife or distracted children, a building doesn’t move. This means you have time to hone your composition and wait for the light to change, or let some clouds blow into your scene. Being patient and carefully crafting your scene will make for a stronger image in the end.

 

7. Be sensible… and carry some ID!

Most architecture you shoot will be in public places, and with the world being what it is now it’s highly likely that someone in a uniform will come question you about what you’re doing.

Nine times out of 10, they’ll say OK and walk away or even take an interest in what you’re shooting. They just want reassurance, so be polite, explain what you’re doing and make sure you have some ID on hand to prove who you really are.

 

Feeling Inspired?

Camera Jabber is the home of digital photography, with in-depth camera reviews, buying guides, news and photography tips to help you master your camera. For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Looking to take your architectural photography even further? Check out our wide range of tilt-shift lenses available on our website, here.

 

Food is perhaps one of the most versatile still life photography subjects you can shoot thanks to its varying colours, sizes, shapes and textures. But in recent years the popular Pinterest-style straight-above shots have made this exciting genre seem a bit predictable.

While these types of shots can be beautiful and do serve a purpose, there is so much imagination to employ when you play with your food. Making your food stand out and look appetizing should be the overarching goal of your food photography.

If you’re in need of inspiration, something we like to do is crack open a recipe book. These images in these books are typically well composed, with strong colour combinations and subject presentation.

So with that in mind, here’s Camera Jabber’s best advice for capturing food images that really pop.

 

01 Use Aperture Priority mode

Some cameras may come equipped with a Food scene mode, but even so it’s still usually best to stick with your camera’s Aperture Priority mode. Wider apertures, such as f/5.6, f/4.0 or larger, typically produce the most pleasing results when shooting food photography

This is because the wider aperture will soften the background, as well as blurring the foreground, emphasising the food that’s the point of focus in the frame. This makes your food stand out and clearly defines it as the subject.

Even though your background will be blurred with a wide aperture, there are still compositional considerations here, too. You’ll want a crisp, clean background or something that’s connected with the food.

 

02 Even lighting

You’ll want to make sure you that whatever light you are using for your scene hits the food evenly. This will help avoid any deep shadows or harsh highlights.

As a general rule, the narrower the source of light, the more contrast you fill find. So a broader light source that illuminates a wider area with soft light will be the ideal option.

 

03 Custom white balance

Your Auto White Balance option is great in most situations, but if you are shooting food photography in artificial or mixed light you might run into some unwanted colour casts. Setting a Custom white balance will help keep this at bay.

To set a Manual or Custom white balance setting, you will usually – it varies slightly by camera – select the correct mode, photograph a white object (such as a piece of paper) in the same light where you will be shooting your subject. Your camera will then use this as its standard to determine what’s white within your scene.

 

04 Focus manually

Food photography is a good opportunity to step out of your AF comfort zone and switch to manual focusing. Because your subjects are static, you’ll have plenty of time to focus and readjust, getting your shot just right.

Many modern cameras also have what’s called Focus Peaking, to help you nail down that precision focus. With Focus Peaking enables, as you twist the focus ring you’ll notice points illuminate within the frame. These points indicate what is in focus, and as you twist you can see the zone of sharpness travel through the frame. When they surround your subject, you’ll know it is sharp.

Because so much food photography uses a shallow depth of field, pin-sharp focus on your subject is critical. That’s why it’s better to take control in these situations so you can set it exactly where you want, rather than the camera.

05 Best lenses

A 100mm macro lens, if you have one, will be a workhorse for your food photography. Just like the flowers and insects you may use it to shoot, a solid 100mm macro will enable you to get right up close to your subject to capture bags of detail. Macro lenses also have what’s called ‘flat field’ optics, which ensure that the edge of your frame is just as sharp as the centre.

A standard zoom is also really useful in food photography, and is more likely to be in your kit bag than a macro lens. A standard zoom will let you shoot relatively close up and still fit everything in the frame. However, be warned that shooting at the wider end of the focal range can make subjects look a little distorted and unnatural. Standard zooms really shine when used for those overhead shots we mentioned at the beginning.

 

Feeling Inspired?

This blog post was wrote by our friends over at Camera Jabber. Camera jabber is the home of digital photography, with in-depth camera reviews, buying guides, news and photography tips to help you master your camera. For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

 

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Why not take a look at our wide range of macro lenses available on our website, here.

The Team Behind Wilki: Liz Jeary, talks us through her unique Fine Art & Experimental approach to photography. Liz Jeary, joined the Wilkinson Cameras team almost two years ago and is a part time sales adviser at Wilki’s city centre store in the heart of Liverpool. We couldn’t wait to catch up with Liz and find out more about her intriguing and experimental photography…

 

You describe yourself as Fine Art & Experimental – how would you explain that to someone who’s not yet seen your photography?

 

I like to play with texture and the surface of images, be it digitally or physically. In recent years, this has been in the form of Photobroderie, which is printing photographs and embroidering through the surface. I have also experimented with printing on different surfaces, such as textured wallpaper – which my partner cites as being his initial reason for being attracted to me. Some people may read it as conceptual, which is true for some of the series, but there is also a lot of more organic projects which are the result of spontaneous experiments rather than planned outcomes.

 

Your work is supremely individual – what are you influences? You mention Kate Bush!

 

Kate Bush is a major influence! She was the first singer I was aware of as a child and her voice and music has stayed with me since. Six-year-old me didn’t understand the complexity of her lyrics, so my imagination always visualised them in a very literal way. This still translates into my images, such as the Suspended in Gaffa series. My vivid imagination also inspires a creative outlet, sometimes with great humour, sometimes with a sadder outlook, which probably describes me as an individual too. People and shapes are also a big influence – I love unusual faces and seeing them in print inspires me to creatively react, also pulling in references from artists using geometric form, such as Piet Mondrian. During research for one of my degree (in Photography) modules I discovered some of his early work and was amazed to find more traditional, detailed paintings. Seeing his progress from these to the lines and colour blocks he is most widely known for, made me see the impact of being more simplified, which I now apply to my work.

 

You seem to have stayed true to your own creative dreams despite encouragement to go more mainstream?

 

There is a stubbornness within me that will not let me deviate from producing work that reflects me as a person. I can be mainstream but there’s a different perspective within and this comes out in my creativity. I also have strong support and encouragement from my partner and mother, they understand that my creativity is a part of me (and also a form of therapy) and reinforce that its OK to do what makes me happy. When I’m not at Wilki, I still work as a self-employed photographer and some jobs are very commercial, but I keep this very separate from my artistic work.

 

You’ve had several very successful exhibitions – how have the public reacted to your work?

 

With intrigue, amusement and confusion! I was invigilating a solo exhibition a couple of years ago and overheard a couple of passers-by. From a distance, one stated look at these stunning pictures, the other responded with its just Photoshop, this probably sums up initial reactions quite well. Although response has always been positive, I think my work should be seen up-close to appreciate what is involved. I have sold a lot of work through exhibitions, and also received various commissions, so it seems to go down quite well overall, although some people find the quirkier images (such as Wednesdays Child – a series of collaged self-portraits) a little hard to digest.

 

Projects in the pipeline? Whats next?

 

I’m currently working on supersizing some work. I usually start off with small prints (6×4) to experiment with and if these turn out well, I will often leave them alone. With a few exhibition opportunities coming up, I’ve decided to go bigger (A4 & A3) to see how it changes the embroidery and the overall effect. Its mostly working out well but is definitely more challenging, in a physical sense. I’m working up the courage to go even bigger – and wishing I had longer arms! Photographically there are always ideas running around my brain, and I like to keep them there until I’ve worked out the logistics of carrying them out.

 

If you could have coffee with any one photographer or artist who would it be and why?

 

Sandy Skoglund, definitely. To me she is the epitome of converting imagination into a creative reality. I love the way in which she uses colour, shape, and form. Her images are very bold and unapologetic and this immediately transports me into her world. I admire her patience too and only wish I had more of this myself. I also enjoy conversing with artists that have unusual methods or concepts – sometimes the attraction is the process and not necessarily the outcome.

 

What would be your dream commission or project, given an open cheque book?

 

Well I’ve always been drawn to fashion – as an art form, not necessarily as a way of dressing – and one of my favourite designers is Qui Hao. Creating images using his designs would be a dream commission, and an open cheque book would allow me to shoot in any location, with a view to being inspired by new experiences, culture and most importantly, textures. If a time-machine was also on offer, Id like to go back to 18th century Japan.

 

What camera kit do you use and whats your one must have accessory?

 

I currently use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and various lenses. One of the perks of working at Wilkinsons is getting to try out new gear, which also has a downside of my wish list forever expanding! My one must have accessory is a homemade awl –its a Prosecco bottle cork with a needle in it which I use to make holes in my prints for the embroidery.

 

 

To find out more about Liz’s work, visit www.lizjeary.co.uk or you can find her in-store at Wilkinson Cameras, Liverpool.

 

Spring is well in motion, and later this month it will officially be summer. It’s one of the best times of year to be a photographer. The days are growing longer, the sun is shining brighter, the flowers are in bloom, and for those interested in wildlife, the birds are chirping, breeding, flying around and generally at their most active stage of the year.

There is no better time than now in 2017 to photograph birds, but it can also be quite a challenge. Below, our friends over at Camera Jabber share some of their best advice for capturing close-up portraits of birds. They’ll explain some simple techniques for setting up your camera, as well as some must-have kit that can give you every advantage when trying to capture our feathered friends.

 

How to frame head-and-shoulders shots of birds

When you shoot a close-up shot of a bird, it’s best to concentrate on nothing but the bird’s face. Cut out anything unnecessary in the frame and focus on the head, neck and top of the wings.

A head-and-shoulders portrait of a bird typically works best in portrait format, but this isn’t always true. Some species, such as owls, might look best in landscape format. It’s worth experimenting with both to see which looks right.

It’s also worth thinking about whether the bird looks best in profile or staring directly at your camera. Does one angle reveal more plumage or more striking markings?

 

Setting your focus points for bird portraits

As with humans, pin-sharp focus is critical to the success of a bird portrait, so make sure you are focusing on the bird’s eyes. It’s likely that this point – the eyes – will be off-centre in your frame, so you’ll want to choose your AF point wisely.

You’ll want to choose an autofocusing point that helps you maintain your composition without having to move the camera to focus. Then, dial in a mid-range aperture of about f/8. This will help to increase depth of field and ensure that you capture the bird’s whole head in focus while blurring the background just enough to tone it down and make the bird stand out.

 

Shoot in Aperture Priority mode

Your camera’s Aperture Priority exposure mode allows you to set that f/8 aperture we talked about above as your desired aperture, and then it will determine the shutter speed required to achieve that.

Sometimes if the light isn’t strong enough you’ll get a warning – often a flashing display – that a shutter speed at that aperture value isn’t possible. One way around this is to simply increase your ISO setting to a higher value. This does introduce noise to your images, but modern cameras are very good at keeping this at bay, even at sensitivities as high as ISO 6400.

 

Think about your background

When approaching a bird, try to position yourself so that you can line up the bird with a background that will contrast with the bird to help them stand out.

Background colours play a big part in how well an image will work. The key to a good background is that it shouldn’t compete with the bird for your viewer’s attention.

 

Continuous Shooting mode

Most cameras offer a Continuous shooting, or burst, mode, which allows you to take a series of frames in sequence. Whether your camera shoots 3fps (frames per second) or 8fps, this faster drive mode can really help increase your hit rate. A rapid-fire succession of images can increase your chances of capturing a fleeting moment of perfection.

 

Pre-focus on perches

If you’ve set up a perch in your garden to photograph birds as they eat, use this to your advantage. Anytime you know where a bird will land, whether a perch or a branch or some reeds, pre-focus your camera on this spot and then simply wait for them to land and press the shutter.

A good way to do this is to pre-focus with your AF and then lock to manual focus on your lens.

 

Use spot metering

Many times when photographing birds you’ll find that your subject is small and bright against a large dark background, or the opposite if up high: dark against a bright sky.

This can be tricky for your camera to get a meter reading from. Using your default centreweighted metering, for instance, your camera will read all of that dark background and produce an exposure that washes out your subject.

Your spot metering mode allows you to take a meter reading from a small, select area of your frame to ensure that your subject is exposed correctly. Typically the ‘spot’ is assigned to your camera’s active AF point.

Use a telephoto lens

A fast 300mm telephoto, such as the more affordable f/4 or pro-level f/2.8 lenses, gives you a huge advantage to not only get close to your subject but blur out your background to make the bird stand out.

Using these lenses at their widest aperture will also give you a faster shutter speed, which means you can likely avoid having to increase your ISO setting.

 

Feeling Inspired?

Camera Jabber is the home of digital photography, with in-depth camera reviews, buying guides, news and photography tips to help you master your camera. For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Looking to take your wildlife and bird photography even further? Check out our wide range of telephoto lenses available on our website, here.

 

A photo book is a blank canvas, a place to bring your best ideas to life. When designing your book, the only limit is your imagination.

With nine different book sizes to choose from in the CEWE PHOTOBOOK range, plus a variety of paper options, there’s a book to suit every occasion, every project and every idea.

Here are five of our favourite ways to get creative with a CEWE PHOTOBOOK.

 

Travel journal

Tell the story of a special trip in your very own travel journal. Combine photos from your journey with diary entries of your experiences to create a book that instantly transports you back to that magical place.

Include recommendations of things to see and do in your favourite destination, and if any friends or family want to follow in your footsteps, they can use your book as a handy guide.

You can add as much text as you like to your photo book, including to the front and back cover, on the inside pages, and on top of photos. Type directly into the text box, or copy and paste from a document or web page. You can also change the font, size and colour of your text to complement the style of your book.

 

Family tree

Create a keepsake for every generation to treasure by designing a book of your family tree. However big your family, you can add extra pages to make sure every branch of your tree fits in.

You can include old family photos by scanning or photographing them, and you could even add copies of newspaper cuttings, birth certificates and more using the same method.

Once your family tree book is complete, order extra copies so every member of the family can have their own version. Perfect for sharing with loved ones who live far away, or to give as a unique gift for a special birthday.

 

Portfolio

Artist, photographer, designer: whatever your trade, showcase your best work in a portfolio book. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, designing a CEWE PHOTOBOOK is the perfect way to show off your handiwork in style.

Choose a clean, simple layout to let your artwork, photos or designs speak for themselves, or add text captions to each piece for reference.

To give your portfolio the look and feel of a professional book, we recommend True Matte paper. Its smooth, shine-free finish is perfect for artwork or black and white photography, and it will add a real touch of luxury to your photo book.

 

Hobby book

From scrapbooking to sewing, hiking to horse riding, whatever your hobby, bring it to life in a photo book. Include photos of you in action practising your favourite pursuit, or use images of your crafty creations to fill the pages.

It’s not just photographs you can add to your book though – you can also include video clips of you enjoying your hobby. Simply upload a clip and a QR code and video still will be generated. Position these anywhere on the page, and when you receive your book, simply scan the code with a QR reader on your phone or tablet to relive those fun moments.

 

Yearbook

Turn the best bits of your year into a book you can look back on and enjoy for many years to come. Whatever you got up to in the last 12 months, from holidays and birthday celebrations, to fun days out and cosy nights in, capture every special moment in a yearbook.

Organise your book by month or season, and customise the pages with themed clip art to match each time of year. Alternatively, give each member of the family their own section of the book so they can share their own favourite photos and memories from the year.

 

Whichever book you choose to make, the Creator Software is designed to make it simple and straightforward to bring your ideas to life. It‘s free to download and compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Download it today and start creating a CEWE PHOTOBOOK to be proud of.

 

To start designing your CEWE PHOTOBOOK or to find out more, click here.

 

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Do you enjoy hitting the city streets with your camera, but struggle to take images with real impact? There are all sorts of things that can spoil your street photography, from background distractions and unwanted blur to your subject simply being too small within the frame.

Gaining the confidence to take photos of strangers is something you’ll have to find within yourself, but in this tutorial you will find the best camera settings to give you every advantage you need when you’re out on the city streets.

Below, the team at Camera Jabber shows you how to set up your camera for street photography so that you can not only avoid those nagging technical issues that can spoil a great shot, but also give yourself the flexibility to respond to fast-moving situations.

 

#1 Use Program AE mode 

Perhaps the fundamental advantage every street photographer needs is speed. You need to be ready to capture your moment when it happens. Because decisive moments are fleeting, you don’t want to waste this time by fiddling with your camera settings.

So we suggest shooting with your camera’s exposure mode set to Program AE. With your Program AE mode you’ll fine a good balance of shutter speed and aperture, and you can make quick and simple adjustments by rotating the main dial.

In Program mode, your camera sets both the shutter speed and aperture values its thinks are best for the scene. It means you can let your camera do the maths here and allow yourself to focus solely on composition and finding the right moment.

Many DSLRs and  mirrorless cameras support something called Program Shift, which gives you a little control in these situations. This lets you override the camera’s suggested settings, usually by turning a dial and selecting different shutter speed or aperture. As you adjust one parameter, the other changes automatically. You might use this, for instance, if shooting a candid street portrait and want a slightly faster shutter speed to ensure you freeze any movement.

 

#2 Continuous AF

Very few subjects on the street are perfectly static, so unless you’re very lucky or have lightning-quick reflexes, you’re probably going to have to focus and re-compose your subjects several times.

Setting your camera to its continuous focusing mode will allow you to capture moving subjects more quickly.

Likewise, if your camera has a multi-point AF setting, this will also save time and make you less noticeable.

 

#3 Use a shutter speed1/125sec or faster 

Unless you are doing something creative like blurring the movement of a crowd, in most instances you’ll probably want to freeze motion in your street photography.

To this end, you probably want a minimum shutter speed of 1/125sec to ensure that your images are crisp and as sharp as possible.

However, as we all know it’s not always possible to get the minimum shutter speed you want. So in these situations…

 

#4 Dont be afraid to use a high ISO

In the early days of digital photography you wouldn’t want to shoot beyond a sensitivity setting of around ISO 800 – ISO 640, even, on some cameras – for fear of image noise or smudging of colours spoiling an image. But it was probably from around the Nikon D3 that this all started to change.

Cameras these days are now amazingly good at controlling noise at higher sensitivity settings, even those with smaller sensors.

If it’s a dull day and you’re struggling to get a shutter speed fast enough to shoot your scene, a higher ISO might be just what you need to get that extra bit of speed to ensure a crisp image with having to dial in a larger aperture. A word of caution, however, we’d recommend staying within your camera’s standard sensitivity range and not going into the upper expansion range.

 

#5 Use an aperture of around f/5.6

Portrait photographers often shoot at large apertures of f/2.8 in order to blur the background and create a shallow depth of field that isolates focus on their subject.

With street photography, though, it’s a bit trickier. While you want to emphasise your subject within the scene, you also want to retain enough of that scene in focus to give context. You want to tell a story with your street photography, and a background that is completely blurred will detract from that.

So using an aperture of around f/5.6 will soften your background enough to draw our attention to your subject, but still leave signs and shapes recognisable to let us know where this is all taking place.

 

#6 Use Auto White Balance

Like sensitivity settings, white balance is another feature that has only got better over time, and the Auto White Balance setting on modern cameras does a fantastic job at ascertaining the conditions and delivering the correct tones.

Let it do its job! Street photography requires careful attention to everything going on around you. Allowing your AWB to do its job enables you to do yours.

 

Feeling Inspired?

May 2017’s Digital Splash Awards Photography Competition theme is Street – Find out what you could win and how to enter on the Digital Splash website or by clicking here.
Please note: The Digital Splash Awards run from February until October every year with a different theme each month. This year’s Sport theme runs from May 1st 2017 until May 31st 2017.

 

For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Looking to take your street photography even further? Why not consider one of Wilkinson Camera’s Shoot the City Photowalks with David Newton. Find out more by clicking here.

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