It was with a particularly heavy heart that I finally packaged the Canon 24mm tilt shift lens back into it’s box and sent it on it’s merry way back to LensPimp just over a week ago.
I’m sure you’ll have guessed from the opening sentence that I enjoyed using it. Having employed it on three different shoots during the 7 days I had it, as well as for some personal work, I was amazed at just how many times it turned out to be my go-to lens. Not just for architectural work, but for landscapes too. Initially I was sceptical I would use a lens with such a wide field of view, preferring to stick with my stunning 35mm f1.4 – but use it I definitely did.
(Oh, I should tell you at this point that I’m writing this whilst listening to the brilliant Belle and Sebastian’s ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’. If you’ve not heard it I strongly suggest you go and do so. It’s one seriously catchy tune!)
I initially went out to give the lens a test-run at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church in Wantage – it being the tallest building in the area both inside and out. This was followed up with a job for the National Trust, one for an award winning and top UK Interior Designer and finally, a day photographing the stunning gardens of a leading Garden Designer based near Chipping Norton.
This lens really did earn the £80 hire charge!
Not only was I surprised with how easy it was to use, I was amazed with it’s flexibility, range of movements and standard lens comparable image quality. I was massively impressed by it’s edge to edge sharpness and lack of vignetting, which made using the shift movement to the extremes both creatively enjoyable and possible. The only thing that gave me cause for concern was the slight barrel distortion and a lack of automatic lens correction within Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop – but this really was fairly minor.
Naturally, with a lens this good, I’ve been seriously wrestling with the idea of purchasing it ever since – that may not happen just yet but it has been booked out again for the end of the month (big grin). In my line of photography, I’m sure a purchase will be on the cards at some point.
I took delivery of a rented Canon 24mm TS-E f3.5 L II today after only ordering it at the last minute yesterday afternoon, from Lens Pimp down in Plymouth. I’m not normally so last-minute about the kit I need for a job and had actually ordered the lens from another hire company before going to Sicily last week. However, their’s was unfortunately returned badly damaged and happened to be their only lens of that type.
I’ve had today booked out to complete some post-production work for a project I’m doing for Abingdon Bowls Club as well as get up to date with admin. Thankfully I cleared that by 2pm so couldn’t resist the opportunity to go and play with the new lens, having not used tilt/shift on anything other than large format cameras.
The first thing that struck me was that, despite being familiar and experienced with both large format monorails and field cameras, the lens didn’t behave in quite the same way, giving me some rather unexpected results. The biggest downside with this type of set-up is that only the lens is able to be adjusted – ordinarily the whole camera will have tilt and shift capabilities – not just the lens. Without getting to technical, for architectural photography, this means that you can’t keep the lens plane parallel to the vertical structures of the subject. As a result, this limits significantly the amount of flexibility you have to compose the photograph in the way you’d like, whilst keeping vertical structures looking just that – upright.
As you’d expect, the amount of movement is limited and I’ve already found that using the movements at their extremes (particularly the tilt) results in some areas of soft focus around the periphery of the frame. However, I’m sure I’m going to have some fun with it and get some great results – it might just take some time tomorrow to work out its full set of strengths and weaknesses, before using it on the job come Friday.
That said, I’ve only been out with it for a couple of hours and not tried it out on any interiors or exteriors of buildings – which is the real reason for the hire in the first place.
I’m sure after the long, cold and wet winter we had, most of us were longing for a good summer, particularly after the last couple of years. Thankfully we’ve been blessed with an amazing few months of warm dry and sunny weather which has also been great for us photographers. It’s raining and a bit cool as I sit in my office and write this but I’m confident that yesterday wasn’t the last of the great weather (at least that’s what I’m telling myself), and with the autumn comes some wonderful new opportunities for photographers of all disciplines.
I can’t believe it’s a month since my last blog. I’m not sure where the time has gone but I know that I’ve done a lot of photography in August and that it’s been extremely productive. Aside from my commercial photography work, I’ve been busy putting proposals together for a couple of exciting exhibitions in 2014 – one for my Farrier project (which still requires a few more photos to bring it together and add context, but which can’t be taken until the winter to ensure I have continuity) and one of local Landscapes. I’ve spent much of the last few months adding to my collection for this project but there is still much work to be done – there’s always a different part of the downs I want to visit and take photographs of. Lately, I’ve been rising with the sun to take landscape photographs, returning to my commercial work and then heading back out at dusk to catch the evening light. In addition to all this, I’ve also been working on ideas for a longer project relating to the definition of the map.
Today for me is a little different though, as well as editing last weeks photographs I’m waiting for a load of logs to turn up, so they are reasonably seasoned in time for the cold weather ahead and will keep me warm during those chilly days when I’m in the office.
Whilst the weather over the last few days hasn’t been quite the summer we are starting to get accustomed to lately, it has been fantastic for landscape photography. I always feel blessed to live in such a beautiful and diverse part of the country. With the Downs to the South, the Thames Valley to the North, Europe’s oldest road (the Ridgeway) a regular Thursday night location for a bike ride and the most famous of all the White Horses, a stones throw away in Uffington.
The skies here in the downs are always big and when the storms roll in, as they have done over the last week or so, are incredibly dramatic and dynamic. At this time of the year, so much of our time in the evening is taken up with tending to our allotment (with which I hold a love/hate relationship!) so the opportunity to take a walk out of Wantage, along Lark Hill, doesn’t appear too often. However, last week it did. It’s a wonderful and theatrical route to get out into the countryside from Wantage. Your sight is forever drawn to the hole between the overhanging trees where the road disappears at the brow of the hill, urging you to take the stiff walk uphill of about 10 minutes or so, along an ever narrowing lane getting more encroached by trees and hedges as the houses finally give way to nature…
… and then you’re in the open, greeted by a vast expanse looking towards the Ridgeway across Wantage Down, with a chalk track straight as a dye leading your eyes and feet into and through this big open landscape.
If the way in which the landscape reveals it self isn’t theatrical enough, the skies can be bigger and even more dramatic. Last week they were nothing short of menacing – huge dark and heavy stratocumulus (is that right?) formations towering into space and threatening to drench the earth with more rain than you could possibly imagine, whilst the late evening sun turned the wheat fields a glowing golden yellow.
So, it may have not been a break from the perfect summer weather we had all started to acclimatise to (whilst reminding ourselves that we do sometimes get a good summer here in the UK), but it was perfect for the Landscape photographer looking for something with a big hit of drama. If you’re experiencing the kind of weather we are and you’ve not yet picked up your camera, I really urge you to do so, the results should be incredible.
If you do, please share them with me along with their story and I’ll put the best on this site with a blog later in the month. What fun!!!
In the First of a series of Guest Blogs, Thomas Turner, a Marketing expert, looks at the role photography has to play in creating the right image for your business brand.
‘Photography is one of the most essential parts of building a business, giving consumers (or even prospective employees) the chance to peer into what happens behind the scenes. Having professional and relevant images can add huge value to external communications, which is often forgotten by the uneducated.
As consumers, although we may not be conscious of it, images play a vital role in our purchasing intentions, especially from a marketing perspective. Can you imagine the commercial world without it? Picking up a car brochure and not seeing the vehicle itself. Browsing a college website and finding only blocks of text explaining the courses provided. It might do the job, but we all want to physically see what we are getting and what we are dealing with, even if it isn’t that necessary.
One of the main uses for photography in business is to paint a picture of the organisation represented, building an identity. Since a business’s reputation is based heavily on its identity, you obviously don’t want low quality, poorly focused images, which could do more damage than good.
First impressions are everything for a company, and it is a known fact that when people look at any form of marketing communications their eyes are immediately drawn to the images. In the few seconds that it takes someone to evaluate a company they need to be impressed. The images need to retain their interest and speak the mind of organisation as if it were personified, but above all they need to assure the consumer that this company is professional and isn’t going to mess up. If it doesn’t…you just lost yourself another customer.
With the emergence of the internet and social networks, images are becoming a more integral part of business campaigns, exploiting their undeniable ability to turn heads. Too many times I have found myself scrolling down my Facebook news feed ignoring all the text and focusing primarily on photos. For a business with the right photo, this is the best way to get their foot in the door and guarantee some exposure.
But it’s not just Facebook. Direct mail, advertising, brochures, leaflets and more all use this technique. This highlights the importance of photography to promote engagement with the consumer, which can consequently build brand awareness and value.
As a shortcut to great photography, some people may turn to Google Images with it being commonly assumed that photos taken from there are free. This however is not true due to automatic copyrights, and so a lot of companies buy stock photos to use in their material. On the down side this will not be tailored to the company, and therefore will probably not represent it as well as bespoke images from a professional photographer. In addition it runs the risk of people noticing that it isn’t original, which could damage credibility and, as a result, revenue.
Moreover, eye catching photos can sometimes be achieved by the amateur photographer, but would a basic picture express a professional organisation effectively? Probably not otherwise professional photographers wouldn’t be paid to capture such images for organisations as regularly as they do.
As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Others say that the right picture in business is worth several thousand quid, and it is for that reason that it is an area that should definitely not be overlooked when looking at marketing communications in the commercial world’.