For the last couple of winters we have had a project on the back burner that involved photographing Birmingham’s canal basin area in low winter light. Each time the trip was scheduled it had to be postponed due to unfavourable weather conditions. Finally, during the 2016 Christmas and New Year break, a window of opportunity arose that gave us the conditions we were looking for. It also gave us an opportunity to try out two newly acquired optics; a Pentax 31mm f1.8 and Leica TL Summilux 35mm f1.4 lens. The images for this collection were made mostly with these two lenses. This project was the second one involving the Pentax 31mm (Prague being the first), and the first outing for our Leica 35mm. Both lenses performed superbly, displaying high levels of micro contrast and being very resistant to flare. More detailed reviews of both will follow in the coming months when we have had more time to get acquainted with them.
To get into the Christmas festivities, we decided to spend a few days in Prague which not only allowed for plenty of sightseeing and shopping, but provided us with a new photographic canvas. As usual, we took far more images than was necessary but spent time ruthlessly editing them in camera and back at home, which gave us a more manageable collection. We walked around forty miles over five days in temperatures that did not rise above freezing. Consequently every evening saw long spells in, and great reluctance to leave a hot shower in search of traditional Czech cuisine. Ethan used his Pentax K-3 Prestige body, 15mm lens and his newly acquired 31mm limited lens (to be fully reviewed at a later date). I used my workhorse Leica X Typ 113.
At the beginning of 2016 I decided to create a year long project recording occasional images using my 13-year-old Olympus E-1. For many years it has seldom been used so I thought it would be good fun to introduce it to the modern world and see how it stands up to today’s technology. The only lens I now have is the original Four Thirds Zuiko 50mm f2 macro, which has always been my favourite, hence the reason I still own it.
Oakhurst House is a derelict old building located in Shining Cliff woods near the banks of the river Derwent at Ambergate. Originally built in 1846 by the Hurt family, it was sold to the Johnson family, owners of the nearby wireworks who extended it to the sizeable ruin it is today. Throughout its history, it has changed hands and purposes many times, only to become flats in its twilight years. This eventually led to its dereliction sometime in the 1980’s when the company which owned it went bust.
What is there not to like when it comes to photographing Autumn? It is by far our favourite time of year…there is something quite magical when mist gives way to a deep blue day and foliage has turned different shades of bronze, red and russet. Stands of Beech explode in arboreal firestorms, echoing in their falling leaves those dying days of summer. Rhus blushes deeply with the fall in temperature while hedgerows transform into mysterious worlds of spectral light. Damp woodland floors propagate colourful fungi and the air is filled with an intoxicating earthy scent. Standing in such areas with just camera and tripod for company can be a cathartic, almost spiritual experience and we waste no time getting out in the field when the opportunity arises. Here are a few of our favourite images from several autumnal sessions.
This collection of images was hidden to us until we recently went through some of our libraries and noticed the occasional shot where sky formed a dominant part of the image. Some are intentional, some are not, but it was interesting to see a recurring theme evolve from material taken over several years. The sky is fascinating and worthy of much more than our own efforts displayed here. But we feel this is the starting point for a subject that is forever restless and changing, therefore will be dedicating more time to pointing lens skywards.
The allure of coastal regions is difficult for the photographer to resist. The restlessness of the ocean and ever changing weather provides a perfect canvas to create images that resonate with the viewer. From calm, cobalt days to those filled with the threat of storms, there is never a reason not to turn a lens toward the sea. Living in land-locked Derbyshire, the nearest coast is 100 miles away, so it is always a bit of an event when we decide to go and capture some coastal shots. Many of our seascapes are taken when holidaying abroad as this offers some of our best opportunities and great memories. From the Northumbrian to the West African coasts, here is a mixed bag of our favourites.
A late summer break saw us visit Halkidiki in Greece. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty where no part of the land is further than 40 kilometres from the sea. Pine forests tumble down hills to the waters edge, the air being heady with their scent. It is a land steeped in mythology and history, both ancient and modern. Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, is a wonderful place for the photographer and offers subject matter diverse enough to satisfy all tastes. My first visit to the region was in 1983 and I always planned to return… but I never anticipated it taking more than 30 years. All images were taken using a Leica X Typ 113 which proved more than adequate for the task.
Not as well known as Pompeii but in our opinion, far more poignant, Herculaneum suffered the same fate in 79AD as its larger neighbour, Pompeii. The preserved state of many buildings is truly remarkable…carbonised wooden doors, shutters and roof joists tell something of the horror that engulfed the entire area, burying it in up to 16 meters of ash and pumice. Our visit coincided with a thunderstorm which lent the site an ominous atmosphere that, at times, gave the impression that the volcano was once again stirring. In a devastating twist of irony, what Vesuvius destroyed it also preserved.