A visit to Samlesbury Hall

Samlesbury Hall is an impressive building dating back to around 1325. It is believed that the Hall itself replaced an earlier building on the site which has been destroyed by the Scots.

It’s located in between Preston and Blackburn in Lancashire and whilst it’s only a few short miles away from where I live, it’s been a few years since I last visited.  Today was a fairly bright sunny day and the Hall looked great. The house is supposed to be haunted by a number of ghosts including Lady Dorothy Southworth who’s family built the house.  The family supposedly killed her lover because they disapproved. The family also got involved in witchcraft – Jane Southworth went on trial and another member of the family was hanged, drawn and quartered as a Catholic martyr (John Southworth).

All in all an interesting day out.

 

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Weddings and the Fuji X100, a perfect guest

For me there is no question about whether you can cover a wedding with the Fuji X series of cameras. I know the cameras are more than capable but at the same time there’s that strange feeling that the guests will be looking at you thinking he can’t be a proper photographer – he’s not got the obligatory couple of large (and heavy) SLRs around his neck.

So I thought I’d share my first experience of using a Fuji X series camera at a wedding but first I should admit I wasn’t the official photographer and it was my son’s wedding. I was actually under instructions to leave my cameras at home and enjoy the wedding – the logic being you can’t work and be an important part of the day as well.
I had to concede it was a fair point but for me you have to take photos at a wedding and one important guest for me was the superb Fuji X100.  It is a fantastic camera and throughout the day I snapped away while still enjoying myself enormously at was my son’s wedding day .
The photographs here show a few of the pictures captured on the X100, most are from my son’s wedding but I’ve also included a couple more examples from another wedding where I was the official photographer. The camera was perfect for the documentary type photography that is so popular at the moment.
Hope you like the pictures.
Wedding 2 Wedding 3 Wedding 4 Wedding 5 Wedding 6 Wedding Wed Dan and Tom -179 Dan and Tom -85

Easter Egg Rolling in Preston

Avenham Park in Preston is the location for a tradition that has been going on for hundreds of years. Easter egg rolling down the grassy slopes of the park is dominated these days by chocolate eggs but you still get a few decorated hard-boiled eggs flying down the slopes too.  It’s a tradition that is still going strong and today (Easter Monday) thousands turned out on what was one of the sunniest Easter Days that I can remember.

From a photographic point of view there was lots to see – apart from the masses of people there was bouncy castles, fairground rides and street performers (non of which I got to see in my short visit to the park).  Another notable fact about Avenham Park is that it is the place where the first Mormon converts outside of the US were baptised on the banks of the River Ribble and a plaque to commemorate this historical fact is located in the park.

This shot has been given a retro feel in Lightroom – for me this photo could just as easily have been taken in the 1970’s when I was growing up in the City. The camera was the X-Pro1with 55-200mm lens and I’d also taken out the X-E1 with 18mm lens fitted for the wider shots. It shows the children preparing for a mass Easter Egg roll.

 

 

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This Preston photographer thinks the Fuji X100 is a classic…

I remember getting my Fuji X100 – everything about those first impressions screamed quality. The packaging was a work of art, the precision built box, magnetic flap and black interior presented the camera beautifully. And then there was the camera itself. It’s got to be most tactile camera I’ve ever owned. Everyone who saw it wanted to hold it. It f    eels solid and as I am sure other  X100 owners will testify there’s something really nice about the X100 lens cap – not the practicality (it can be easily lost) but the felt lining on the inside of the cap that means when you push it onto the lens it silently glides into place, pushing out the air as it goes. So you get the picture – I sort of fell in love with the little X100 from day one and it soon became the go-to camera for any casual trip out.  Yes the camera has it’s little quirks and autofocus particularly in low light was a problem but that has been vastly improved through a number of firmware updates. Even now it would probably be the one camera I’d keep if I had to choose just one. (but then again I do love the X-Pro 1 too!).

Many photographers have mentioned how the X100 has reawakened their interest in photography.  I remember reading Damien Lovegrove’s review of the camera and thinking, I want one.  His superb images helped to sell it as well I have to say.

I’ve used the X100 for all sorts of photography. At one time I used to go on holiday or vacation as they say in the States with a full bag of Nikon gear but there’s something really liberating about travelling with just the X100. You don’t get noticed in the same way as you do with a big SLR around your neck but at the same time you can be confident that you will be getting some top quality images. The jpegs produced by the camera are superb. I’ve thought about upgrading to the news X100s but to be honest I am still happy with the X100. In fact I bet there are some really good second hand bargains out there for anyone who needs an excuse to get into the Fuji X-Series on the cheap.  Here are a few X100 pics as examples.

 

India Manchester Airport Urban Portrait Art in the Park

Fuji 55-200mm – a few thoughts and pictures.

Here are my views on the Fuji 55-200mm lens – still a firm favourite on my X-E1 and X-Pro1.
My entry into the Fuji X Series was via the superb X100 camera and that will be the subject of another blog at a later date. I was so impressed with the quality of the x100 that the X-E1 soon followed with the added benefit of the 18-55mm kit lens. Again, I was blown away by the quality of the image files and what a lens, far superior to what you might expect from a kit lens.
So that brings me to the topic of this blog because it wasn’t too long after that Fuji announced the launch of the 55-200mm lens and I had to have one. I pre-ordered mine from Wex Photographic and patiently waited. I was rewarded with what must have been one of the first lenses to be delivered in the UK.
Now almost 5,000 images later with this lens and numerous subjects covered, from travel photography to weddings I can report that it is a mighty fine lens.  Sure it’s quite a large lens when compared to the compact nature of the cameras but it’s still a lot smaller than the Nikon or Canon alternatives.  The only area I’ve really struggled is with moving subjects when the focus just doesn’t latch on quick enough and you get a higher than expected number of missed shots.
Here is a sample of some images taken with the 55-200mm. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Spanish Guitar Lakeland Bride Red Telephone Boxes Malaga Sunset St Ives Walk in the Park Wedding Guest

Urban Portraits with a Fuji X-Pro1/X-E1 and a couple of zooms

I was invited to join a little get together of photographers, models and make-up artists recently for a day’s shooting in one of my home-town’s parks. Group shoots are not something I do on a regular basis and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was travelling light with just my Fuji X-Pro 1 and X-E1 packed into my ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag. I took two lenses with me the 18-55mm zoom and the 55-200mm zoom plus a Nikon SB-600 flash unit with Flashwave trigger.

I was definitely under-equipped compared to some of my fellow photographers who’d turned up with full SLR kit, light-stands, portable flash systems, beauty dishes and a range of reflectors – clearly all bases were covered from their point of view.

Whilst the huge amount of equipment was impressive, I certainly didn’t feel under-prepared with my Fuji kit and I was confident I’d have everything I needed to produce a nice set of pictures.  Here you can judge for yourselves.

Hair Flick Under the Bridge Spring in the Park Bridal Black and White Fuji X-Pro1 Urban Preston Fuji X-Pro1 Urban Preston