Alpha Whiskey likes to have a good time. So when a few female friends invited me to Cuba recently for some sun, swimming and pina coladas I simply couldn’t resist. A fascinating and beautiful country full of contrasts and colour, Cuba offered me such a welcome respite that I took far fewer images on this trip than I usually do, preferring to enjoy the company of my friends while killing infinite brain cells with pungent cigars and delicious cocktails soaked in Havana Club. But beauty is beauty and when I could manage a steady hand I attempted to capture a few postcards.
So I wasn’t sure that I wanted to write about shooting this location (especially since my last post was about finding local subjects) but I’ve shot a few waterfalls around the world, and plenty at home in the UK, so I thought I might offer some small, meagre insights into capturing their spectacle. Even if the insights aren’t useful to you it may stand alone as a fluff postcard piece. Niagara Falls, whose popularity is undoubtedly due in part to their easy accessibility, are not the most spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen. But I did spend a few hours here (on the Canadian side) looking for evermore interesting shots and, of course, in the changing light throughout the day.
Well, Postcards From The Woods just didn’t seem appropriate. It’s not all foreign travel for Alpha Whiskey, though (well, mostly it is). Sometimes I’m happy to amble through the forest on a bright and breezy weekend afternoon. And while it was more about the walk than the photography I thought I would try to demonstrate how even the most ordinary of environments can provide interesting photographic opportunities. We can all marvel at stunning vistas captured from a mountaintop at sunrise but that’s been done to death. Real creativity comes from challenging yourself to reveal something different from the places and subjects you see everyday. I’m not claiming to have that creativity myself but I’m willing to give it a try.
Well, not really postcards since the inclement weather didn’t allow for the most picturesque shots but I did what I could in the brief time that I drove around this spectacular part of the country. Visiting old friends was my primary objective over the Easter weekend and with that accomplished I decided to navigate my way through Snowdonia National Park, an understandably popular and stunning part of Wales. Having lived in Wales for a short time it is a beloved second home to me and after they put Alpha Whiskey out to pasture (not long now) I hope they sprinkle my ashes over this magnificent land of the red dragon.
It would have been titled Why Technical Stuff Doesn’t Matter but I figured this kind of fluff speaks for itself. A little embarrassed to be sharing my travel snapshots but we all need occasional reminders to stop reading and actually go out and shoot.
Don’t groan! I’ll try to be brief. I had some time to kill the other week so I decided to spend a couple of days of it in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. I have no idea why I chose Vilnius; maybe I closed my eyes and landed my finger on a map of Europe. But it easily entertained a short trip. It’s a beautiful, if small, city with resplendent architecture from several periods and the colourful rendering typical of buildings in Central and Eastern Europe.
Wait…wait…nope, it’s gone. I really can’t remember what spurred me to purchase a fisheye lens of all things. Alpha Whiskey’s the last person on Earth to suffer GAS (or even gas) and I spend not a single, solitary second of my day salivating over gear. Heck, my camera is 5 year-old technology, positively prehistoric to the insecure masses scrambling over each other to reach the latest product rumour. (Run faster!)
Don’t worry folks, I’m not really back. This is just a random post on the fly. The new Olympus EM-1 Mark II has apparently been tested in Iceland recently by various review sites and as I was (coincidentally) recently in Iceland myself shooting with the four year old E-M5 Mark I, I thought I might demonstrate that one might not need the latest and greatest gear to return half decent images.
When Olympus first announced the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO telephoto lens for the micro-four thirds format there was understandably much enthusiasm for its arrival. After all, it would give users the equivalent field of view of 600mm at F/4 in a far more compact and lighter lens than a DSLR equivalent. I wasn’t personally that aroused by the prospect but curiosity prompted me to ask Olympus if I could borrow the lens to write up a user experience and they very kindly lent me a copy.
Or at least a longer focal length than conventional wisdom suggests. I’m always reading that so-called street photography is best undertaken with a prime lens within the 35mm to 50mm range and I understand the merits of this range for reasons I will elaborate on further down. But convention is naturally a gauntlet that Alpha Whiskey cannot ignore. So before meeting my date I decided to kill an hour in town the other night shooting with a telephoto zoom and mostly at the maximum focal length (210mm: 420mm equivalent field of view).