Thursday, 31 July 2014

Moving to Scotland - 12 Months On

One year ago today (31 July) we packed our things into a removals van and returned to Scotland after 23 years.  In 1990 we moved to Grantham in Lincolnshire  with my job after 3 years living in the Morayshire town of Forres, which is situated up in the North East of Scotland.

A temporary move to Lincolnshire stretched to twenty-three years and while Grantham was a nice enough town, it lacked the one thing that we all wanted - the sea!   Several years ago we started to plan a move back to the coast but the opportunity came at the end of 2012.  After exploring Northumberland, we finally decided to move back across the border to Dunbar in East Lothian because the town offered everything we were looking for.

After initially renting we bought a house within a 5-minute walk of Belhaven Bay and a short walk from the High Street in Dunbar.  

Everyone has made us feel very welcome and the three of us are very happy, so much so the last year has literally flown by.  To be honest, we sometimes feel like we are still on holiday as we try to make the most of the fabulous beaches and scenery in this part of the world.


We are now looking forward to many more happy years here in Dunbar and to celebrate here is a collection of my favourite images from the past 12 months living in East Lothian.





















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Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Outer Hebrides


This is a shot of Eilean Glas Lighthouse on the Isle of Scalpay taken from the Tarbert to Uig ferry on our way back to the Isle of Skye after a great weekend in the Outer Hebrides.   The clouds were sweeping in over the mountains of Harris and the breaks in the clouds allowed the sunlight to hit the lighthouse, which is situated on the eastern edge of the Isle of Scalpay.

There has been a lighthouse on Scalpay since 1789 and the current tower was erected in 1824 by the Northern Lighthouse Board engineer Robert Stevenson.

CLICK HERE for the history of Eilean Glas lighthouse

Image taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8R OIS lens

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Another Sunset Over Belhaven Bay

The upshot of all the glorious weather we are experiencing in Scotland (and the rest of the UK) is we have been getting a regular dose of great sunsets.  The local beach at Belhaven is just a short 5-minutes walk from our house in Dunbar and when the sun starts to set behind some interesting clouds it is time to grab the camera bag and tripod and head down the path to the bay.

With the tide having just gone out, the beach was left with lots of standing water near the edge which provided me with the perfect reflection for the skyscape.  The receding tide had also sculpted the sand into ridges which also provided a great foreground for some of the images.  

Here is the latest batch of images from the amazing sunset the other night -






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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Beach Grass at Belhaven Bay

The beach at Belhaven Bay is a 2 mile stretch of sandy beach that sits in front of the John Muir Country Park and the salt marsh.  Between the beach and the salt marsh is a set of low sand dunes that is covered in tall beach grass, which I have identified as Ammophila Arenaria, more commonly known as European Beachgrass.

When I am out taking photographs I try to choose an ordinary subject and take at least five different angles.  I have found this makes me explore the subjects I have chosen to try and come up with a different image than just the standard snapshot.  I also only used the Fujifilm X-T1 and either the Fujinon 10-24mm f4 or 55-200mm f3.5/f4.8 zoom lenses.

Here are the five shots I took -








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Monday, 28 July 2014

The Macro Abilities of the Fujinon XF60mm f2.4R

A lot has been written about Fuji's X-Series 60mm macro lens.  It was one of the original trio of lenses launched with the X-Pro1 back in 2012, and has since been joined by a whole arsenal of Fujinon lenses, but remains the lens with the closest focusing ability.

I have to admit this lens is the one that initially got left in the bag but recently I have been rediscovering the abilities of this short telephoto lens for landscapes, the recent car photoshoots and, of course, macro work.  I recently added some extension rings that increases the magnification to true macro (ie 1:1 rather than 1:2 of the 60mm Fuji lens in standard form).

I am working on a personal project to mark the 100th anniversary start of the Great War on the 4 August 1914 and I have been taking some close up shots of my Great Grandfather's service medals using the X-T1 and the 60mm macro. 


The shot above shows the 1914-15 Star and British War Medal awarded to my Great Grandfather John Hayes, who served in the Royal Engineers from 1914 until 1918.  

The lens, without using the extension tubes to increase magnification, is focused on the date on the bronze star, with the aperture set to f5.6 to give a shallow depth of field to the image.  I kept the ISO on the camera at 200 for the best image quality, so the shutter speed was a slow 1/8s and used a touch of off camera flash, using a Fujifilm EF-20 flashgun, to lift the image slightly.  Because of the slow shutter speed the camera was attached to a Manfrotto tripod.

As can be seen from the section that I've blown up below, the sharpness of the Fujinon 60mm cannot be faulted.


Here are a few more images using the 60mm fitted with the extension tubes to increase the magnification even further.


Again the depth of field is kept very shallow by selecting an aperture of f4 and focusing on the figure '1'.  Again the sharpness of this lens can be seen in the blown up portion of the image below.


A couple of extra images from this part of the photoshoot. 




Conclusion
The more I use the 60mm macro the more I am getting to appreciate the abilities of this lens.  Yes, the autofocus is a bit slow but it isn't a problem for me in almost all situations and for macro shots I always use manual focus anyway.  The manual focus ability of this lens on the X-T1 is excellent due to the split screen in the X-T1's Electronic View Finder (EVF).  The f2.4 maximum aperture is very good as most macro lenses are f2.8, so the extra 1/3 stop is useful, especially when using the 60mm as a portrait lens or in challenging light.

Some Fuji photographers are shying away from this lens, preferring to go with the 56mm f1.2 for portraits (which makes sense) or just giving up using this for macro photography.  I would recommend persevering with the 60mm f2.4, because this lens is capable of delivering some great images.

For more on the WWI project I am currently working on please visit this blog on Monday 4 August 2014,  which will mark 100 years to the day that the UK declared war on Germany and the start of four years of slaughter in the trenches, a very black day for the whole of Europe.

All images taken on a Fujifilm X-T1 and a Fujinon XF60mm f2.4R macro lens


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Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Uig Chessmen


The Outer Hebrides is famous for many things and one of them is the discovery of the Lewis or Uig Chessmen in 1831.  Islander Malcolm MacDonald discovered 78 walrus ivory chess pieces, and some other gaming pieces, near the village of Uig on the Isle of Lewis that are of Norse origin and are said to have been carved in the 12th Century.  



The Outer Hebrides were ruled by the King of Norway for 450 years and these chessmen date from that period.   

Most of the collection is on display in the British Museum in London and 11 of the chessmen are in National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

In 2006 sculpture Stephen Hayward was commissioned by Uig Community Council to carve this Oak statue, which stands in the sand dunes near to the site where the chessmen were discovered 180 years ago.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Uig Chessmen









All images taken on the Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujinon XF35mm f1.4R


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500,000 Views on Flickr



The MacLean Photographic Flickr gallery received its 1/2 million view earlier this week.  The MacLean Photographic Flickr feed was set up in February 2011 and contains over 1500 images across 33 different albums, including collection of images from Scotland, England, Japan, Europe, Paris, South America and other destinations from the past 3 years.

Thank you to everyone who has visited the MacLean Photographic Flickr page.  CLICK HERE to check out the latest images.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

At the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens


Today we attended the first set of matches in the Rugby Sevens at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games held at Ibrox.  We were there as spectators to enjoy the atmosphere of this international event so I took just the Fujifilm X-T1 with the option of either the 18mm f2 or the 55-200mm f3.5/f4.8 lenses.  This proved to be a good choice as I wasn't there as a photographer, just to get a few shots as a record of our day at the Commonwealth Games.


We saw teams from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, Samoa, Cook Islands, Malaysia, Kenya and Uganda in 12 different matches.  Rugby Sevens takes place on a full size pitch but with only seven players per side (instead of 15) and each half is just seven minutes long.

The focus tracking on the X-T1s continuous AF worked extremely well and for a bit of fun I also tried the ADV setting using the 'miniature' mode to give a different look to some of the images.

Here are a selection of shots from the day at Ibrox -









Images taken on a Fujifilm X-T1 either a Fujinon XF55-200mm f3.5/4.8R OIS or Fujinon XF18mm f2R

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