Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador Christophe Brachet takes us behind the scenes to explain how he uses his Alpha kit to capture candid stills on film sets.
“The silent shooting capabilities of my Alpha kit are vital to my work,” Christophe tells us, “as it’s so important I don’t distract anyone on the set, or make sound that could be picked up by a microphone. For me, it also allows me to capture the most natural moments, which is ultimately the whole reason I am there!”
As you can imagine, working on a film set can be tricky. There is a lot going on around the main scene that is being filmed, which can often lead to Christophe having to work in confined spaces. One of the advantages of his Alpha mirrorless cameras over a DSLR is the smaller size of the camera, as well as the tilting screen, which makes it possible for Christophe to easily find an angle when space is tight.
The majority of the time Christophe shoots in raw and JPEG mode, but finds that he generally uses the JPEG images straight out of the camera. “I usually shoot all my black and white images live in the camera,” he explains, “using the High Contrast Black and White effect. I love the idea of creating a beautiful image and then being able to use it straight from the camera without having to edit it.” Of course, the rear screen and viewfinder come in to play again here, offering the chance to make sure the exposure is exactly as Christophe wants before the shutter is even pressed.
Christophe has a range of Sony Alpha bodies he uses on set, including the α9 series. When most people think of this series, they think of it as a fast shooting camera for action and sports. For Christophe, this speed is used to make sure he can concentrate on the composition and what is happening in front of him. “Focusing speed is important to me. I usually shoot with very large apertures, so I need to know that I will get the subject’s eye perfectly in focus. Using the Eye-AF makes it possible to shoot with a shallow depth of field, knowing that the eye will be perfectly sharp in every shot.”
With current Covid restrictions limiting much of what we’re able to do, our daily exercise is one slice of normality most of us are holding onto tightly. Getting out for a walk, run or cycle is the highlight of many a day!
At first, many of us discovered local hidden gems minutes from our front doors. The sun was shining; we went out with enthusiasm and excitement.
However, Winter arrived, the rain started pouring and the dark nights arrived. The enthusiasm waned for many of us, and getting out for our daily exercise took a lot of effort.
If you find you’re bored of wandering the same streets over and over, adding a purpose to your daily exercise can provide a much needed motivation boost! Which is why we’ve come up with some daily exercise photo ideas for you to try out on your next run, walk or cycle.
Don’t forget to share and tag us in your daily exercise pictures!
Our first daily exercise photo idea involves colours. This is definitely more of a challenge in the Winter months when the trees are bare and everything looks, well… grey. But if you look hard enough, you will still be able to find every colour of the rainbow. Plus, Spring is on it’s way!
Why not pick one colour for each day, and try to find and photograph 5 things of that colour on your daily walk/run/cycle? Or, you could see how many colours you can incorporate into one image! Sunrise or sunset is a perfect opportunity for this.
Alternatively, for an even bigger challenge (unless you photograph an actual rainbow, which technically wouldn’t be cheating…), try and capture something interesting for all 7 colours of the rainbow in one walk!
Nature provides an abundance of photo opportunities! On your next walk, run or ride, take inspiration from the different areas of nature and you’ll be sure to end up with some beautiful pictures.
Have a play with some of the ideas below or come up with some of your own:
Different types of leaf
Different ground types (eg. grass, sand etc.)
A range of terrain types
Different types of trees
Another idea is to document the impact that humans have on nature, both positively and negatively. For example, litter (bonus points if you pick it up and dispose of it correctly after photographing!), tarmacked pavements weaving through fields, factories billowing smoke. On the other hand, bird boxes, litter picking groups and recycling are some positive things that can be found locally.
Wildlife can be tricky to photograph but with some patience it can also be super rewarding.
Visit your local pond and take some snaps of the ducks. Look up into the trees and see how many varieties of bird you can photograph. Silently stake out in the hope of spotting the more elusive wildlife such as rats, badgers or hedgehogs. If you live in the countryside or nearby to a farmer’s field, you can get some brilliant pictures of farm animals like cows and sheep.
An idea for a fun ongoing project is to photograph the alphabet! With 26 letters this can be a fun idea to spread out over a month.
You can allocate one letter per day and try to snap 5 things beginning with that letter. Alternatively, you could do a couple of letters each day. If you’re planning a long walk or ride, why not try to photograph the whole alphabet in one go? Now there’s a challenge!
A for apple tree, B for bicycle, C for car…
We’ve created a bingo card with a range of ideas that you can photograph on your daily walk incorporating all of the ideas we’ve discussed above. Cross them off as you complete them and don’t forget to shout “BINGO!” and let us know if you get a full house!
We’ve put together a handy buying guide for full frame mirrorless cameras! Read on to find out the answers to the most commonly asked questions when it comes to buying a full frame mirrorless camera.
What does full frame mean?
Full-frame is a term which goes back to film cameras. It simply means that the image sensor is the same size as a traditional 35mm film. Until relatively recently, full-frame sensors were reserved for costly professional cameras, but now there’s lots to choose from at a range of price points!
There are several advantages to a full frame camera. A bigger sensor will typically give you:
Better image quality
Better low light performance with reduced noise
Wider dynamic range
Ability to achieve a shallower depth of field (better for bokeh)
Why switch to full frame mirrorless?
Smaller and lighter camera bodies than a DSLR (though it is worth noting that lenses can be a similar size!)
Most feature In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS)
Faster shooting at a lower price point than a DSLR
Usually better video specifications
WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get – you’ll see the image you’ll achieve with your settings both in the viewfinder and on the monitor.
Can I use my existing lenses?
Possibly, but only if they’re already full frame lenses, otherwise you won’t be getting the advantage of having a full frame camera. It’s also worth considering that whilst adapters are available, you may find that focussing is slower than with a “native” lens for that camera. They’re good as a short term solution to help you transition without a huge outlay in one go, but long term you’d be best to trade them in and upgrade to the latest mirrorless lenses.
In Canon, you can use EF*lenses, or EF-M. You’ll need an EF-EOS R Adapter. Some Canon EOS R mirrorless cameras include this or you can buy it separately.
In Nikon, you can use FX lenses, but not DX. You’ll need an FTZ adaptor – most Nikon Z mirrorless cameras have this included as a bundle.
In Sony, you can use FE lenses, but not E**. If you have A mount lenses, then you can use an LA-EA5 adaptor to use these on your Sony A7, A9 or A1 series camera.
* Canon EF-S lenses can be used with this adapter, but the camera would only work in crop-sensor mode, so you’d not get the advantage of buying a full frame camera! **Sony E mount lenses can be used on their FE (full frame) mount cameras, but the camera would only work in crop-sensor mode, so you’d not get the advantage of buying a full frame camera!
I’m switching from one brand to another, can I use my lenses?
*You can use this mount to use Canon lenses and whilst most will work, the compatibility isn’t guaranteed so you may find autofocus is slow or missing entirely.
There are other 3rd party adapters available for other combinations, but we stock the ones we know work well and will give you the best results.
Can I use 3rd party lenses?
Yes! There’s lots of great lenses available for full frame mirrorless cameras. Some are more affordable, some are even better lenses or lenses that simply don’t exist in that camera brand’s lens line-up. Choose from Samyang, Sigma, Tamron and ZEISS.
What lens mount do I need? Nikon Z: Z mount Canon EOS R: RF Mount Panasonic S: L mount Sony: FE mount
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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:
Which of course, is perfect if you’re conferencing, but not if you’re streaming.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.