I’ve had a concept in my head for a while, and yesterday it was put into action when I took some photos of my wife at the halfway stage of her pregnancy. We set off for my favourite of the local bluebell woods and had a fun hour or so (it was much colder than it looks here – she’s a great sport) for some shots for the family album.
I decided not to use anything shorter than 50mm for the shoot. I wanted a very natural appearance to the shots, and the coverage of bluebells is not so thick that they allow for many wide angle shots to retain the effect. So I shot low, long and shallow to use the bluebells as a colour wash. It was a lot of fun, and we’ve got a great selection of photos from the afternoon. Some of the shots I wanted needed a really shallow depth of field and a wider angle of view, so I used a different lens for those and they aren’t shown here (give us some ultra fast lenses please Tamron!), but I loved the look of some of these telephoto shots.
In my pursuit of ways to make Rotherham look attractive, I’ve been out and about this month looking at some of the local landmarks.
Rotherham Minster at night. This was taken in the midst of the recent Saharan Death Smog, which seemed to completely miss the town centre. Also, I don’t think it was that deadly. There is a possibility that this image may appear on the cover of next year’s Rotherham Hospice calendar, so watch out for that. I turned off the VC for this one and used a remote release to get the sharpest possible result.
Monkwood cemetery church. I love this building. I walked past it many times without realising it was there. It’s no longer in use, but it has a very distinctive structure. I chose the long end of the lens to give a three-dimensional effect and to accentuate trees.
Conisborough Castle. Due to some modern fencing and the surrounding housing estates, this isn’t the easiest place get a good shot. For the first photo I used the close working distance of the lens with a tight aperture to get a shot that was recognisable but uncluttered.
Last week, my father and I spent a fun-filled evening with a highly creative photographer friend of ours, Mark Scholey, who has turned his hand to Victorian era-esque portraiture.
This doesn’t mean simply dressing people up in Victorian clothing (although there was a dazzling array of macabre props to choose from).
He uses traditional methods and a quarter plate camera to produce true one-of-a-kind tintype portraits.
The process of preparing and developing the plates was fascinating. Liquid collodion is poured onto 5×4 inch aluminium sheet and allowed to dry until tacky. This is then sensitized in silver nitrate solution for a few minutes before loading into the camera.
The photos require exposure times of several seconds (Mark explained that the sensitivity is about 1 ISO!). This has to be done under a constant light source, since the equivalent flash power requirements would flash-fry the subject.
The exposed plate is then transferred to the darkroom for developing. Since the plates are both negative and positive at different stages of the procedure, this is a lot of fun to watch: the image undergoes a complete tonal reversal within a minute.
The negative image disappears for a few seconds before returning as a positive. The images undergo a lengthy fixing bath, and are then dried and varnished.
It was a real pleasure to sit for these, and a joy to watch and photograph at each stage. Thanks to Mark Scholey for the opportunity.
I’m very much making the most of the clement weather this week, and took myself off to the Steel City’s softer side today. The clouds were the perfect counterpoint to the vibrant colour of the early flowers.
The images I’ve picked today summarise the finer optical qualities of the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD.
Excellent short range capabilities
Pleasing bokeh, even when stopped down
An image stabiliser that allows you to use slow shutter speeds hand-held for creative effect
Pin sharp detail, corner to corner, and excellent contrast reproduction.
A few shots today taken from various locations around Rotherham, all using the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. One thing’s apparent using this lens: the aperture range of F/2.8 – F/22 and the combination of focal lengths makes for a versatile package indeed. The close focus distance of this lens can yield some very pleasing results for small subjects, as long as you can get close enough to your subject, and it’s possible to get some very different results by changing the viewing angle by just a couple of feet with different settings (see the last three shots in particular).
I’m always happy at this time of year. Just another couple of weeks, and the woods should burst into colour as the bluebells start to appear. It’s the highlight of an English spring.
The other half of last weekend involved a trip to Chatsworth House. It’s not somewhere I’d been before, and it didn’t take long to work out why it’s so popular. The “driveway” consisted of several hundred acres of land and more Fallow deer than I’ve ever seen in my life, and would be a pleasant place to visit in its own rights.
We walked alongside the house to the topiary maze, and had a real laugh trying to figure out the way in the the middle. Forty five minutes to get in, three to find the way back out! The Tamron 24-70 USD was the main lens used that day (a short break for macro photography), and in grounds this large it really came into its own.
The lens is really crisp, all the way to the edges, which is obviously very important when photographing anything with bold geometry such as buildings. The cloud cover was really changeable for us that day (although we didn’t see any rain), but the 24-70 seems to hold sufficient contrast really well no matter what.
It was a bit of a shock to us that I had to leave my camera bag behind before entering the house (and even more shocking since the restrictions didn’t seem to apply to everyone), so I became reliant on the 24-70′s versatility quite unexpectedly. The image stabiliser came in quite handy, and the range of focal lengths and excellent close-up capabilities (a feature of every Tamron lens I’ve ever used) meant I was able to get a wide selection of shots with just the one lens.
My wife and I had a rare weekend off together where neither of us had work to do, so we decided to have a night’s stay in Derbyshire. A quick google hunt led me to the Lumsdale Valley, which has the ruins of an abandoned mill set back in the woods. It really was a stunning location, even at this time of year when life is only just returning to the undergrowth. I imagine that in the autumn it’s really something special, and I imagine that I’ll make a return trip at some point.
It’s on trips like this that I’m reminded just what an excellent landscape lens the Tamron 24-70mm USD really is. Because I enjoy macro photography so much, I tend to visualise shots in terms of longer focal lengths. As a result, 50mm is quite a wide focal length for me, and 35mm is usually my “go-to” focal length for wide angle shots. With both of those classic focal lengths factored into the markings on the lens barrel, it’s unusual for me to go wider, but I think I used the 24mm setting more on this exploration than any other I can remember. Using an FX camera, 24mm is quite a pleasing focal length to use for wide shots. It’s equivalent to around 16mm on a cropped sensor, but without the extreme vertical distortion that you’d experience with that short a focal length.
The subject choice meant that I used a moderate to tight aperture, so vignetting all but disappeared. There is next to no visible colour fringing, and what little there is vanishes when checking the relevant box in Photshop’s Camera RAW Plugin.
Of course, the 24-70 USD is a versatile walkabout lens, and I was able to use its depth of field properties to simplify the impact of this shot of my wife, in preference to having to include a handrail behind her when sitting in an old window. For those times when I couldn’t alter my distance to change my composition, I was able to select in interim focal length to get the shot I wanted without cropping.