Friday, 28 February 2014

FRIDAY TIP: Using the Rule of Thirds

The first rule of composition is the Rule of Thirds but the first Rule of Photography is that there are no rules, just guidelines - remember that. 

The Rule of Thirds applies to all the visual arts (design, films, paintings etc) and is where the frame is divided into nine parts and the important elements are placed on or near these lines.



The following photographs taken on Belhaven Bay beach demonstrate the application of the rule of thirds. The horizon sits at the horizontal line dividing the upper third of the photo from the lower two-thirds. The shell in the image above sits at the intersection of two lines, sometimes called a power point or a crash point. 

Points of interest in the photo don't have to actually touch one of these lines to take advantage of the rule of thirds as the stump shows in the image below. It falls near the intersection of two of the lines, close enough to take advantage of the rule.


However the opening paragraph of this blog stated that the Rule of Thirds is not a rule, it is a guideline. The image below demonstrates that you can break the Rule of Thirds by placing the horizon in the centre of the frame.  Because the wet sand reflects the sky, this is a mirror image and the only place to put the horizon is in the middle.  And it does work.


BUT the Rule of Thirds is a great guideline to follow and if you look at the majority of the great landscape photographs you'll see that they are composed using this guideline.  

So next time you are looking at a scene through the viewfinder or on the Live View screen, think 'Rule of Thirds'.

Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and a Fujinon 14mm f2.8 lens


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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Beautiful Day for Full Frame Photography

It's been a beautiful spring like day here in the South East of Scotland, too good to be sat at the computer, so I decided to 'down tools' and go for a walk along the coastal path near Cockburnspath to take some pictures of the remains of St Helen's Church above the cliffs - I will post shots from here in the next couple of days. 

Walking along the coastal path I stopped to take in this scene looking back towards Torness Point.  I decided to get the Nikon D800 and take a long exposure (4 minutes) to get some movement in the clouds and the sea.



Regular visitors to my blog may have noticed that I have been favouring my pair of Fuji cameras over the bigger and more cumbersome Nikon D800.  This is because the images quality and the size of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X100 are superb and ideal when out walking.  However today I decided to load up my Lowepro backpack and take the D800 along as well and I'm certainly glad I did.  

The 36mp full frame sensor on the Nikon is the only reason I still have this camera and associated lenses but images such as this one and the ones I took at Belhaven Bay on Sunday morning are a good reminder of the advantages a full frame DSLR offers over the very capable Compact System Cameras such as my Fuji X-Pro1.

I have been weighing up selling the Nikon gear and moving to Fuji completely by getting another X-Pro1 or the new X-T1 but when I see the results from the D800 I have to say I am not likely to sell up anytime soon.

More on the trip out to Cockburnspath on Saturday's blog.

NOTE:  This is the 600th post since we started this blog in February 2011, with nearly 188,000 views in the past three years and over 170,000 since November 2012. Currently we are averaging 11,000 visitors each month.  

Thank you to all our readers and we hope you will continue to visit.

Nikon D800 - Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 - 240s @ f16 iso50 - Lee 10x ND 'Big Stopper' - Tripod

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Patterns in the Sand

With wind and tides the beaches of East Lothian are constantly changing and being reshaped on a daily basis.  The tides on this stretch of coastline rise and fall by three metres and the wind is usually blowing across the beach, whipping up the sand and creating new patterns.

Take the images below from Belhaven Beach.  These were taken during a recent walk and show the patterns and shapes left by the receding tide.  Tomorrow it will be different again as the forces of nature sculpt the beach into new patterns.  It's fascinating!




Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon 35mm f1.4

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

1881 East Coast Fishing Disaster Memorial at Cove

At the top of the hill by the car park above the harbour at Cove is a bronze memorial by Jill Watson depicting the wives and children left behind after the East Coast Fishing Disaster of 1881 looking forlornly looking out to sea for their lost husbands, sons and fathers .  The memorial was unveiled in October 2008  

The inscription on the memorial reads:  'Commemorating the widows and children of Cove left by the fishing disaster of 14th October 1881 when 189 fishermen were lost off this coast. Cove lost 11 out of 21 fishermen.'


The disaster hit every fishing community on the South East Scottish coast with the Eyemouth fleet losing 129 men and one third of it's fleet (19 out of the 46 boats were lost).  Proportionally Cove was harder hit with over 11 out of the 21 fishermen lost and three of the four boats working out of the small harbour.  

More on the history of the Disaster of 1881 can be found HERE



For more on this memorial and about Cove Harbour visit the official website HERE.

The Cove Harbour Memorial was unveiled in October 2008, 127 years after the disaster.  CLICK HERE for a link to the article on The Berwickshire News website.

More on the disaster from the perspective of the Eyemouth fishermen in this Scotsman Article HERE

All images taken on a Fujifilm X100 and Fujinon 23mm f2 lens

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Harbour at Cove

Just down the coast from Dunbar and Torness Point is the little harbour of Cove, a beautiful little fishing port almost carved out of the rocky shoreline.  



A beautiful spring like day in East Lothian had us heading down the coast to Cove for our first exploration of this part of the world.  I decided to only bring the Fujifilm X100 for this first visit with a view of returning should we feel the need to with the Nikon and X-Pro1.



The harbour is still in use but like all the fishing ports on this coast it is a shadow of its former self.

History of Cove (words courtesy of BBC Scotland Website)
Since the 17th Century the naturally sheltered shore has been used by fishermen, as well as for exporting local coal.  During the 18th Century various efforts were made to improve the harbour. This included the creation of a tunnel through the headland down to the shore. This tunnel still provides access to the beach.



The present day harbour was constructed in 1831. This involved the building of a breakwater on the eastern side of the bay. These improvements meant that Cove could support a larger fleet. At its peak, around 100 boats fished out of Cove in the herring season.  Cove was badly hit in the Great Storm of 1881, with the loss of four boats and 11 of its 21 fishermen (more on the disaster in tomorrow's blog).



Cove Harbour is now used by a few small fishing boats that catch crabs and lobsters. All of the buildings associated with the harbour are listed and the harbour is owned by Cove Harbour Conservation Ltd.

For more information on Cove visit the BBC Scotland website HERE or the official Cove Harbour website HERE









Please note that while the images on this page are the property of MacLean Photographic they are not for commercial purposes and only for illustrating this blog post. All commercial, film and photographic rights of any kind are reserved by Cove Harbour Conservation Ltd.

all images taken on a Fujifilm Finepix X100 and 23mm f2 or 19mm f2 (WCL-X100 fitted)
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Monday, 24 February 2014

TEST: X-Pro1 + Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 + 2x Converter

Ever since I got the Fotodiox adapter to attach Nikon lenses to the Fujifilm X-Pro1 I have been waiting to try out the Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D with the 2x converter to make the lens an effective 240-600mm f5.6.  I did have the opportunity to try the combination this afternoon at Tyningham beach but when we got there the light was far from ideal.

I had to push the ISO to 1000 to make sure I had a fast enough shutter speed for the focal length as I was hand holding the camera.  Now the newly acquired Fujinon 55-200mm has optical stabilisation and autofocus but the Fotodiox adapter means that there is no AF and the lens doesn't have VR anyway.

Bearing all this in mind, I am pretty pleased with the following two images, both taken at the long end of the zoom range. The biggest problem was keeping the lens steady enough to focus accurately. With the long focal length and the high wind sweeping across the beach I have to admit this was pretty frustrating.

This isn't a lens combination that is suited to this camera and it isn't something I will be using on a regular basis but I do look forward to trying this combination out again in better lighting conditions.

The Lighthouse on Bass Rock taken from the other end of Tyningham Beach
Local wildlife on the beach - well the gannets haven't returned to Bass Rock yet
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Sunday, 23 February 2014

It's all in the Planning

For some weeks now I have been planning a shot of the Bridge to No Where at Belhaven Bay that required high tide to coincide with dawn and for the weather to be kind.  Keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and with a high tide at 7:09am, yesterday morning look to be a good bet to head down to the bridge.

Well the weather gods were smiling and despite a short, sharp shower of rain that produced a rainbow, the sunrise provided the perfect conditions to get the shots I had visualised in my head.





Images 1 and 2 were taken on a Nikon D800 and Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 lens - Lee 10x ND 'Big Stopper' and 0.6 ND Soft Grad filters.
Image 3 was taken on a Nikon D800 and Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens - Lee 10x ND 'Big Stopper' and 0.6 ND Soft Grad filters.  
Image 4 was taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon 14mm f2.8

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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Look Up: Part 2 of the New Project

Part 2 of my new project 'Look Up' where I try to show off our new home in Dunbar in a different way.  We are all guilty of walking around observing the world at eye level.  As a photographer I tend to be always on the look out for the next picture and Dunbar has some wonderful buildings with so much history attached.  

By looking up we see things that we sometimes miss when we are walking about and here are three more images from the 'Look Up' project.

Lauderdale House
Dunbar Parish Church

The corner of the building above Peter Whitecross butchers
Part 3 of 'Look Up' will be coming soon.

Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8R LM OIS. 

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Friday, 21 February 2014

REVIEW: Hands On with Fuji's Premium X-Series Long Lens

Last November I had the opportunity to test the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 telephoto zoom (see blog HERE) and despite some misgivings beforehand, primarily about the variable aperture and larger lens profile when compared to the four prime lenses I had, I ended up loving this lens for its pulling power, image quality and optical stabilisation system. I didn't want to give it back at the end of the three days in Bahrain.

The Fujifilm XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8R LM OIS , currently the longest XF lens available for the X-Series cameras

Fast forward to February 2014 and I now have one of these lenses in my camera bag and for the past three weeks I been giving the Fujinon XF 55-200mm a thorough test, taking it on walks around the local area in Dunbar and also to Paris on my regular business trips to the French capital.


The Fujifilm XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8R LM OIS attached to the Fujifilm X-Pro1
The 55-200mm zoom is currently the longest lens in the XF range of Fujinon lenses (equivalent to a 84mm-305mm in full frame terms), though there is a 50-230mm f4.5/f6.7 XC spec lens available which is cheaper than, and not as well built as, the XF range of prosumer lenses.  Fujifilm have announced two new long zooms on their XF lens roadmap for 2014/2015.  A fast f2.8 constant aperture 50mm-140mm and into 2015 a extra long super telephoto rumoured to be a 100-400mm.  However at the moment the 55-200 is the longest XF lens available to buy at around £549. 


So has my opinion changed now that I have had longer to live with this lens?  The short answer is 'no'. The zoom it has beeis still a joy to use in many different situations and the low light ability of the lens is brilliant thanks to the OIS system installed by Fuji.



So what are the positives?

Well the image and build quality are on a par with the other X-Series XF lenses and despite the variable aperture, the images are sharp across all focal lengths and at all apertures.  Even with the aperture wide open and the lens zoomed out to 200mm, the results are really impressive.


The controls are firm but solid and all move with a nice feel to them.  Some users have complained that the zoom ring is a little stiff but I have found it to be nicely weighted.



Exposure at 1/8s @ f3.7 - 1600iso - proving the OIS system works very well at night  
The Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) system is also a joy to use and really useful in very low light as demonstrated by the shot above of the Eiffel Tower.  


I also took some shots at the recent launch of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship in low light and the results were excellent.  The two shots below were taken at 1/30s at 150mm and the ISO set at 2000.



ACO President Pierre Fillon unveils the new logo for the 24 Hours of Le Mans
The hosts of the 2014 LM24 and WEC press conference


The autofocus is also very good, very 'snappy' and locking on to the subject without hesitation 99.9% of the time. In low light the AF system sometimes struggles, but what Fujinon (or Nikon / Canon for that matter) lens doesn't?




So what are the negatives?
Well the aperture ring doesn't have figures on it so you have to look through the viewfinder or on the screen to see what the aperture is set.  If you pick up the camera and switching it on to take a quick shot, it isn't immediately obvious what aperture is set.  I find this frustrating as I have got used to looking at the lens on my prime XF lenses to check the aperture setting.


When zoomed out the lens is quite large.  Don't get me wrong, the lens is perfectly balanced for the X-Pro1, but it doesn't look asthetically correct on the rangefinder body.  BUT the results speak for themselves and it isn't too big unlike the Nikon 80-200 f2.8 I have used on the X-Pro1 with the Fotodiox adapter.



Dunbar Harbour - Lobster Pots

A trawler in Dunbar Harbour
Conclusions
I find this lens a joy to use.  Yes, the variable aperture and the unmarked aperture controls are irritating, but I am quickly getting used to working with this lens and these things are bothering me less each time I step out of my front door with it. 


However the plus points far out way the minus points with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8  and with the results I am getting I'm certainly very glad that I have this lens in the bag alongside the 14mm f2.8, 18mm f2, 35mm f4 and 60mm f2.4 primes.



At £549 this lens is certainly not cheap but the quality of the optics and build justifies the price tag.  I can highly recommend the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f3.5/4.8R LM OIS if you have an X-Series Fujifilm.

Fujifilm have just produced a new lens catalogue that gives details of the ten XF and two XC lenses that are currently available.  CLICK HERE to view the PDF brochure.


Belhaven Bay
Walking the dogs on Belhaven Bay Beach
Zoomed out this is a large lens, even without the lens hood

The aperture ring doesn't have any markings on the lens barrel, you have to look through the viewfinder.


Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8R LM OIS.  Images of the lens taken on a Fujifilm X100.

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Waiting....

Belhaven Bay is a big draw for surfers, kayakers and swimmers and during our walk yesterday morning we spotted this lone surfer.  It was another good test for the new Fujinon 55-200mm f3.5/f4.8 lens I acquired a couple of weeks ago and is long overdue a review on this blog.

The surfer was waiting and waiting for the right wave to break and, after a long time, he eventually he got his wish but the waves were pretty small. 





This reminded me of an old Guinness advert called 'Here's to Waiting' -




Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and 55-200mm f3.5/4.8

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Old Door

On the harbour front in Dunbar is an old pub / restaurant that dates back to the 18th century but is currently is serious need of renovation after being left empty for over a decade.  However it does make for an interesting subject for my camera lens.



Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and 55-200mm f3.5/4.8

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Look Up: A New Project

I am always on the look out for a new photographic project to get the creative juices flowing and I may just have found one while out and about with the X-Pro1 and 55-200 lens.  Dunbar has many beautiful buildings and during a walk in the winter sunshine last Sunday I hit upon the idea of taking shots of the tops of the town.  

Here are three images to start off this new project.





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