Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Fuji TCL-X100 Tele converter

I recently purchased a TCL-X100 Tele concerter for my Fuji X100, and have finally managed to get out and about to snap a few shots with it.

Fuji X100 with the TCL-X100 Tele Converter

The converter changes the effective focal length of the standard X100/X100s  from 35mm to a slightly longer 50mm. It doesn't sound like much, but in practice, makes quite a bit of difference to what you actually view through the Electronic View Finder. ( E.V.F.) You will find that because the lens is that much bigger with the converter attached, the Optical View Finder is nearly rendered obsolete. The new lens sticks out, blocking the lower right part of the finder, making it more difficult to compose the shot. That said, It feels right on the camera, and I think it balances nicely, finishing the camera off well.

Bags of colour

Shooting with the lens attached is a joy. I mentioned that it fits well to the X100, but also performance hasn't really been affected. I have only noticed slightly softer images wide open at F2.0, but by stopping the lens down to F2.8 and beyond, it really starts to deliver contrasty, sharp images with bags of colour. The Fuji X100's captured files always had a certain look, almost filmic in quality, and this has been retained, dare I say improved. The focusing speed again, hasn't really been affected. Only in really low light, did I find it wanting at times.

Are these all the chips I'm getting?

The Albatros is packed as dusk descends

The build quality is superb, just as well made as the camera itself. I have a feeling this lens converter may stay permanently attached to the camera from now on.

Feet

Bunting against a blue sky

Beyond East Quay at Wells-Next-The-Sea

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Woodhall Spa 40's Festival

Now in its third year, the Woodhall Spa 40's Festival appears to be going from strength to strength. Celebrating the rich history that the village shares with the Second World War, for one weekend in July, Woodhall is transformed back to a dark and turbulent, yet romantic time, some seventy years ago. 

This was the first time I had managed to attend the event, missing the first two years due to work commitments. Not really knowing what to expect, I was pretty much blown away by the amount of effort that had gone into organising the weekend, and the sheer amount of people that had made the effort to get into the spirit of things, and dress up in period costume. The crowds across the two days were simply unbelievable, I don't think I've seen the village so busy. Moving to Woodhall Spa when I was eight years old in early 1979, I have grown up loving the place. Mucking around in the woods as a kid, using false I.D. to get into my first drinking establishments, ( I won't mention which ones ), and learning to drive on the many country lanes around the Spa, it really has been a big part of my life. But I have to say, I don't think I've been quite so proud of the village as I was this past weekend.

From soldiers camping in the woods near Jubilee Park, smoke from their stoves gently wafting skywards towards the leafy canopy above as they made another brew, to people on the pavement in the heart of the village, spontaneously breaking into dance as one of many singers belted out another 40's classic, there was quite literally, so much to see and do. One of my personal  favourite things I kept seeing over and over again, and one I just didn't get bored of, was the site of an American army jeep cruising up and down the Broadway, soldiers hanging from any and every imaginable part, gun in hand, chewing gum. Just as I had imagined it would've been all those years ago during the war. 

There were flypasts by the many planes of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight. Lancaster, Spitfire and Dakota were all present, as too was my own personal favourite, the Hurricane. There was a fantastic simulation of an air raid, which was organised with the help of the Golf Hotel. Using smoke canisters to simulate a real fire, three old fire engines quickly arrived, and the many spectators were treated to a reenactment by the fire brigade as to how they would have dealt with a blaze during the war. Once the fire had finally been extinguished, who else but Winston Churchill arrived in a lovely old, blood red Bentley, escorted by four army motorcyclist outriders. After thanking the fire crew for their hard work, he proceeded to give a rousing speech to the onlookers, which went down a storm. It really was a crazy 30 or so minutes, and considering I hadn't got a clue what was about to unfold, it made for an even more enjoyable and immersive experience. This was the sort of attention to detail that really made the weekend the special event that it was, and one I can't wait to visit again next year... Heck, I might even dress up.

Roll on 18-19th July 2015

Proper American jeep, proper gun.

Vintage Austin and ration book

Almost timeless. In many ways Woodhall Spa hasn't changed that much...  for the better, in my opinion

Shiny old car and tiny caravan

Road closed

Boot closeup. Look a bit like Redwing Iron Rangers

Dancing in the park

Forties dancing at the Golf hotel

The Yanks take over Woodhall

The Americans move in with their heavy machinery, while Churchill watches on

General Patton even made an appearance

Camp in the woods

American Army truck in the woods

Here come the cavalry, crowds are massive

Balcony on fire

Preparing the fire engines

Up high

Cleaning up

Fire, smoke and water

Waiting

An important guest

One of Churchill's army outrider motorcyclists

Winston arrives

Two of the injured guests from the Golf Hotel raid 

Young nurse

The fire brigade salute Churchill

A Winston Churchill or Timothy Spall lookalike delivers a rousing speech

How rude... Not really. Churchill's V for Victory sign 

Doing the 'penguin'

Strictly come dancing, Forties style

Monty returns, after a quick detour to the cash and carry

Laughing at Monty's hairy legs, no doubt 

Boot detail, again

Shopping, Forties style

Many jeeps along the Broadway

Taking the 'no access except for residents' to a completely new level


        

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Mid Winter's wedding


Wedding, this way
Wedding, this way

I have photographed weddings during the dark months of Autumn and Winter before, but never on the shortest day, the 21st December. The ceremony was scheduled for 2p.m. which didn't give me much time for bride and groom photography afterwards. It was a case of working fast with what natural light I had left to work with. This was most definitely a prime example to the benefits of scouting a location before the big day. The wedding was taking place in a manor house not far from Grantham, a beautiful building with several  impressive suits of armour dotted throughout it's many gorgeous, old rooms. It was a lovely intimate wedding and the bride, Louise, looked gorgeous in her simple, elegant dress. I had to get a shot of her on the stairs once she was ready, as it looked like it would make for an amazing shot. The tricky light and large Christmas tree on the landing made it a slightly more difficult photograph than I had at first envisaged, but I managed to capture the image that I had in mind, so I was happy.

Bride on the stairs
Bride on the stairs

Final preparations
Final preparations

The lovely flower girl

Flower girl
Flower girl

Louise, waiting for the groom, Phillip to arrive.

Waiting
Waiting

Phillip and his best man arrived in a lovely old VW camper van and they looked great, some lovely colour detail on display in their suits. 

Arrival
Arrival

Groom and best man
Groom and best man

Married
Married

The happy couple
The happy couple

Shooting a wedding in just the one venue, can certainly have its benefits. There's not so much rushing about, and everyone, including me, seems just that little bit more relaxed. I really love the photograph of the newly married couple outside the front of the house. It looks so relaxed, and Phillip's expression is lovely. The light to the left of the image injects some lovely warmth on to what was a cold mid Winter's day. I love the little wedding sign too.

Wedding breakfast
Wedding breakfast

Speeches
Speeches

Father and son
Father and son

There was a lot of dancing and general merriment in the evening, and it's a great time to look for funny moments. Everyone is relaxed, the drink is flowing, and guests are busting a move or two on the dancefloor. I'm not sure what was being discussed by the couple in the image below, and just maybe, I wouldn't want to know, but they were certainly having fun.

You dancin'
You dancin'

Give us a kiss
Give us a kiss