A phrase that will not be part of everyones conversation. Lets face it, 2021 will also be a strange one for most or part of the year no doubt. We are however used to the impact that 2020 had on us and have since learnt to adapt to the new world. For many including myself, 2020 certainly had some negative points but I am a believer that we benefit from lifes challenges and make us better prepared for the time ahead. 2020 however was a test that even the best laid plans could not predict.
If you have recently watched my YouTube videos or follow me on social media, it is no secret that I am now the proud owner of my first full frame mirrorless camera. I have finally made the transformation from a DSLR and simply put, I am loving the start of a new era. Why though did I change from a camera that was working for me in the place? The answer for me personally was simple. It was new. There was of course other factors.
I had been using my Canon 5D mark 3 for around 3 years. A work horse of a camera that never failed me, brought me confidence to be able to mount on a tripod during a rain storm and still deliver images that I was pleased with. The fact however that it was a camera that was 8 years old and it felt time I moved along and get down with the kids. I am near now to retirement than what I was when I purchased the 5D and had a desire for a younger model. A model that was lighter, less in volume and with a quicker brain. Perhaps I was going through a late mid life crisis after all.
Since beginning to write this blog, I have owned the Canon EOS R6 for a few weeks and enjoyed 3 fairly successful photography sessions with it in a location where my faithful 5D spent many an hour, The Lake District. I have only touched the surface of its capabilities and yet satisfied with the end product. I would actually put it on a level of satisfaction I had with my 5D. I love the similarities of the old camera such as the joystick as an option to navigate the menu and is simple to use. The dual card slot is also handy as I can record both stills and video separately. I loved my old 5D. Where am I going here? Why have I fixed something that wasn’t broken. Do I have GAS? I am slowly convincing myself I am actually having a late mid life crisis.
I will now list the reasons why I spent a good proportion of my monthly income on a new shiny camera;
- Lighter and easier to carry
- A vari angled screen to make composing easier
- In Body Image Stabilisation
- Updated processor
- A pro level sensor
- Dual stills and excellent video capabilities
- Its shiny and smells good
The last one will soon lose its attraction no doubt but the big question is, does it justify forfeiting a holiday abroad when the world opens its doors? Does it please the Mrs when the decorations have to be put on hold? Does it give a reason why my mortgage can’t be paid off quicker. No is the simple answer. For the person with a logically programmed brain, it makes no sense. For myself however who has a less logical mindset and a dreamy disposition, yes it does. The new camera has released some more of those endorphins. I feel good in the fact that I have a new up to date toy that I can use to fulfill my creative desire. I don’t care about the pros and cons. The fact is, this camera will make my life easier with its many features that I am slowly familiarising myself with. Will it though, make me a better photographer?
Not that long ago, I returned from a good mountain hike in the Mosedale area of the Western Lake District. I made a film of course which is a given each time I venture out to the fells. This episode however was slightly different. When I record a video, I usually use my smaller mirrorless camera, the EOS M50, to cover the b roll and narration pieces to camera. The main footage from this session was filmed with the R6 and the results of which were very pleasing. I am now able to improve my editing with the addition of colour correcting and grading as the R6 records in Canon Log, similar to shooting using RAW with my stills. It will open up a new avenue for me and may even replace the M50, although I do like the idea of a 2nd camera. This wasn’t the question however, I am digressing. Will it make me a better photographer?
Time will have to tell and its difficult to understand how a new camera will make me a better photographer. The purpose of improving my compositions, making the most of the conditions and having the eye to grab the opportunity was never on the list of the pros and cons of making this purchase. This was not the deal clincher. I can however say with confidence that I am more than delighted with what this new camera has brought to the table. The following 3 images were all shot hand held and will be added to my Portfolio. Perhaps this new camera will open up a new approach, perhaps it will even………let’s not go there.
For a photograph to stand out among the crowd, it has to have an instant appeal. This is obvious and relates to all art. Composition including a good balance of the elements within the frame often become lost if the lighting is poor. There is not a given rule however that good composition leads to a photograph that is individual and has that wow factor. More often than not, the light and weather conditions falling onto the scene make an image pop and result in that instant satisfaction. Mood is a main contributor to a satisfying image but what is mood?
I had planned this walk pre lock down, around early March 2020. This was a hike that would include Englands 2nd highest peak and one I was very much looking forward to. Then came the uninvited guest which lead to a stop to all hiking in the Lake District. Since the ease of the lockdown, I had already returned with a more gentle hike, detailed here in another post ‘Lakeland – The Return’ On my 2nd return to the National Park however, it was time to face the big one, Sca Fell. The majority of the walk seemed quite gentle. Maps however do not give any idea of what faces you in terms of the weather conditions. This is the story of a day where my confidence diluted the risks.
It had been 2 months nearly to the day when I finally hit the road and headed back to the National park that had brought me so much fun, solitude, adventure and creativity. As a Yorkshire man it pains me to say that this place has an edge over the Dales. Mountains, lakes, weaving paths and rolling hills has attracted me to The Lake District for several years. This was the day I returned.
There is no question, 2020 will leave a lasting memory for the majority of the people on this planet. As I write this article, there is no indication when society will get back to a normal way of life. Lockdown measures are still in place. Social distancing has become a natural behaviour for many. In the UK, our daily exercise is something to look forward to. It is no longer a chore but an escape from your homely confines. For many people with a passion for landscape photography, an opportunity for a slice of normality.
Landscape photography is about capturing the world around us at any given moment. How we choose to capture it is based around a number of factors including skill, a good eye for a composition and an emotional connection. The ability to relate that emotional connection on to a sensor/film is important for the photograph to work. The choice of location also has a large influence of what emotional state the photographer is at that moment. This story is about a little place in the Yorkshire Dales. A place where I feel at ease and in my comfort zone. A place where my creativity flourishes.
I will not be the first to suggest that landscape photography is a soothing tonic when life throws you setbacks. Yesterday I posted a video which touches on the importance of living your life with the mindset that whatever hard times get in your way, it is always important to remember the good. To reflect on what you have and the simple things in life that bring you joy. Bereavement of a loved one will play a part in most of our lives and we choose our own way on how to cope with it. My hike and landscape photography day in Eskdale in the The Lake District certainly eased my soul and reminded me how good life can be.
It is often found that black and white landscape photography is an alternative option when things do not go to plan. This maybe down to the weather conditions being overcast or that elusive sunrise not painting the sky with its pink, orange and magenta hues. This option mainly comes into consideration in the post processing stage with the mindset of trying a black and white edit before being discarded to the bin. Occasionally it works but what if we set out with the premise of purely shooting black and white?
UK weather can be so varied and unpredictable. I thought that this Winter was going to be a case of very cold temperatures and lots of snow. A time where the UK would come to a stand still. It usually does after a couple of centimetres of the white stuff to be honest. I wanted deep layers of snow dumped on the Mountain tops and snow drifts creating patterns for me to point my camera at. Here we are however in late January and I’m still waiting.
When or if it does come then no doubt it will be mid week and by the weekend, when i’m ready with my camera, a warm front would have arrived and melted away any hopes of bagging a good iconic shot of snow capped mountains. If I was to get a taste of any snow this Winter, then I had to get up high. This is a short story of my adventure up to Dow Crag and Old Man of Coniston. I was pleased I got my shot.