Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Bristol on Film

      I have a stack of out of date film under my bed which included an Ilford HP5 ASA 400. I haven't shot black and white for many years and I wanted to try this film out with my Minolta X-300 and 50mm lens. It was nice to wander round a few areas of Bristol and get some grainy, contrasty images! 

Stokes Croft - Famous for it's street art, Stokes Croft has graffiti around every corner which changes on a regular basis!

The Bear Pit - The portal between Stokes Croft and the main shopping centres, this area has more street art, a fair few homeless often playing music in the tunnels and skaters making the most of the open space. I especially like the Donne Darko like messages sprayed on the walls and floor. 

Horfield - Perhaps not an "exciting" place but these few are on the 2nd January when the buses were running bank holiday schedule so I walked halfway to save sitting in the freezing cold! A very crisp icy morning!

Park Street/Bristol Museum/College Green - Park street area has such a huge amount to offer. The Museum is free to enter with a huge amount to see. Park street has many independent shops, restaurants and cafes with college green at the bottom where you can sit on a bench and watch the world go by, or pretend you are in Skins (if anyone reading remembers back that far!). 

The final frame - this is just a happy accident from the end of the film. One of the things I love about film is when things like this happen and you get an interesting graphic image which you would never get digitally. Let me know what you guys think!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

52 Steps From My Front Door

      I have loosely started a 52 week photography project. I say loosely because I am not sure how long it will stick, I have tried these things before and it doesn't usually stick! This seemed like a good one to do though because it is one photo a week, with very loose themes, and a week is probably long enough for me to get something in rather than daily.
      Anyone looking to perhaps join in on this the group I am part of is here and the different themes for each week are below:

      Week 1 is titled 52 steps from your front door, I spent my new years day feeling very lazy with a bit of a cold. I finally left my house to go for a walk and stretch my legs around 8.30pm. I took my Pentax K70 with 50mm f1.8 lens to see what I could get wandering around in the evening. 

      I started with some fairly mundane photos of the streets, the shadows on the walls lit by street lights really intrigued me. 

      I live near an army reserve centre which is well lit. I thought all the shadows were very interesting so I wanted to have a play around with the multi-exposure feature on my camera. You can blend a huge number of photos but I stuck with 2/3. I have found it works very well with high contrast subjects and strong shapes.

      Playing around more with combining different subjects, pavements and houses!

      I love the depth you get in these images, but they were all quite abstract, seeing the bokeh effect from the street lights and car headlights I wanted to see what I could do with it.

      Switching to manual focus I was able to overlay shots with in focus cars and lights with out of focus bokeh patterns. These also had quite a dreamy misty effect.

      These two are my favourite but the above didn't quite make the cut because the trees looked very soft where I had overlain the same scene defocused. My chosen image below seemed to have the nicest composition of those I took, the road leads you into the image into a sea of bokeh lights with some sharp elements poking through behind.

       I am quite happy with how this set of photos developed, next weeks theme is "sun" so I imagine I will end up with something completely different. Still, I like looking back on my process and seeing an idea develop. Is anyone else starting new projects in the new year? Feel free to share in the comments! I love to see these things!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Ever Changing Malvern Hills

      So here is a short little blog post to bring in the new year! I spent my christmas with family and old friends up in their lovely house looking over the Malvern hills. I took a lot of really lovely photos but their view was one of my favourite things to look at. The light was constantly changing, on the final day before we left there was so much mist you couldn't even see the hills!

      It was nice to be able to photograph the same view in many different ways. It was a nice little challenge dealing with the different light. I am starting the new year excited and nervous for change. This year has made me learn that I have great friends and family, it has been a long year with a lot of change and we are all just trundling along on the same confusing journey. 
      I wonder if anyone remembers this Honda ad, very silly but it has become a little motto for me recently so I hope you can all watch this and hum it to yourself if you ever need a little motivation! Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Becoming a Pentaxian and Why I Love My New Camera

      As someone who had been interested in Photography for a long time, around a year ago I decided to focus on learning more and improving my skills. As far as buying cameras goes, my research and choices were pretty ill informed...
      I started out with an Olympus E-500 twin lens kit which just happened to be on a good offer at the time when my parents treated me around GCSE time. We were taking a trip to africa to go on safari and they wanted me to get some good photos. This camera lasted me for 5 years, it was pretty abysmal in anything resembling low light but otherwise gave some great colourful images. I managed to extend its life and usage using it with OM film lenses and an £11 adapter from Ebay. 

      At the start of my final year at uni I was asked to photograph my cousin's wedding, in hindsight I should have upgraded before the wedding, but I decided to put the money gained from that towards upgrading after the event! At that time I hadn't paid much attention to any of the new cameras around. After being completely overwhelmed I figured out two cameras within my budget, one by Canon one by Nikon. I chose the one edging slightly in reviews and which had a half decent deal with freebies, the Nikon D5100. 
      This camera took me through the last year of university, lots of photos for this blog, and all of my holidays and days out over the past 3 years. The D5100 is a great camera, and it did well for my needs for a long time. As an aerialist and performer, I have started photographing shows more and more in the past year, and that it where it started to let me down! Low light is always going to be a killer when it comes to photography, and as much as I could do, I wanted something a little better! 

       Around 6 months ago I started working in a camera shop, and this was where the itching started! Working for a large technology company for 2 1/2 years I tend to nerd out over things a fair amount a lot more than I did before... Being able to play around with cameras all day I was like a kid in a candy shop, it was great, but actually terribly more confusing. There is definitely no such thing as the perfect camera, and I spent a huge chunk of time being indecisive and discounting models for various reasons. Too big, too heavy, don't like the viewfinder, too expensive, horrible menu system etc. etc. 

      And then one day we had a Pentax K-70 arrive in store. Having only been announced in June, we were expected to have a play around with it and get used to its features. And so, I did the ridiculous thing and I switched systems! I traded in everything Nikon I owned and I bought K-70 with an 18-135mm and a DA 50mm prime lens. I thought for all you camera lovers out there I should explain why I went for a camera system that for most people is a bit of a curveball:

Weather Sealing - Almost all of Pentax bodies are weather sealed, and not just a little bit.. Combined with a WR lens these cameras survive a crazy amount, in Florida I was doing a timelapse of rain falling in my parents swimming pool in a tropical storm - no worries! The build quality on this camera is mad, it feels solid in your hand yet is as small as my old entry level Nikon body. 

In Camera Stabilisation - No more VR vs Non VR lenses, put any lens on this camera and it is stabilised. Everything is done in body, and it works really well. I have noticed myself taking photos and assuming they will be shaky hearing a slow shutter speed only to find they are sharp, it is like magic. 

K Mount Compatibility - Pentax have not changed their mount since their film camera days, this means you can find any old K mount film lens (of which there are hundreds) and you can stick it on your digital body. This has two advantages. One - you have access to a huge range of lenses at a lower price, you just use manual focus. Two - because of the in body stabilisation these lenses are also fully stabilised! My camera also has focus confirmation so it will beep/flash when your subject is in focus which is handy.

The gorgeous Sunny taken on a 135mm f2.8 film lens.

Wifi & In Camera Processing - Ok so pretty much any new camera now has Wifi but combined with the fact that I can process images in camera this has been a godsend. I can now take a RAW image, choose filters, image style, cropping etc. and save a new version directly on my camera before sending it to my phone via Wifi. My Instagram feed is now much more heavily filled with Pentax K70 images rather than low quality iphone pictures and it makes me happy how easy it is. 

In Built Intervalometer - This is something I have yet to utilise enough, but if you are into timelapse photography you will love it. I can set up my camera to take a number of photos, pick the interval, file size, file type etc. to then create timelapse videos or image sequences. Below is a very basic attempt to show the storm weather we had in Florida - don't judge I haven't spent too much time on this...

A video posted by Josie Maskell (@josiethejump) on

Multi Exposure - Harking back to anyone who used film photography this is a mode that is great fun to play around with. You can combine 2-2000 images with 3 different blending modes to create unique and interesting photos. I believe this is also designed for creating star trail or astro images which require a large number of exposures if your camera were on a tripod - as someone who has never tried this I wouldn't know where to start. 

RAW File Image Quality - Now I cannot vouch for all the new cameras, but the recovery and quality from RAW files on this camera has been incredible. I put it to test a lot on my trip to Florida in September and here are some before and after shots when recovering shadows and detail in tricky sunset/low light situations. 

  Now obviously everyone has very specific tastes when it comes to cameras! And no camera is perfect, lens wise, the 50mm is probably my favourite for images though the screw drive autofocus is comical levels of noisy! Pentax please, please please make a budget friendly and quiet 50mm lens, the 55mm f1.4 is £650 which I can't really stretch to... Noisy lenses aside, here are a few of my favourite images from the past few months since owning this camera.