A early evening trip to Clarence Pie

19th September 2019 - A early evening trip to Clarence Pier

This time of year offers beautiful lighting around the time I leave the day job, however it is also the time of year when clouds and rain like to make an regular appearance.  I had just over an hour of time to kill until meeting Alex to grab food before heading to Strong Island Photographic meet, it seemed obvious to take advantage of the light and time, grab a camera from work and head down to a favourite spot of mine for some golden hour photo time. Since we were now Out of Season the pier funfair was shut but that didn’t stop me enjoying the surrounding area and arcade. I doubt I will ever grow tired of photographing this space.

Amateur Photographer x Olympus Photowalk

On Wednesday 13th June 2018 I headed to Brighton to take part in a photowalk that was being run in collaboration with Amateur Photographer magazine and Olympus UK. Olympus regularly hold events where you can go along and use their equipment to get a feel for what the cameras are like, on this occasion I had applied for a place and been fortunate enough to receive a spot. 

I adore Brighton! I always find it inspiring to wander round and have taken many a photo there, however I’ve never done a photowalk there so I was excited to see what others would be drawn to and what different locations we would visit. I’m not going to cover the route or anything at the moment as there is going to be an article in Amateur Photographer magazine so I imagine a lot will be in there, hopefully including some photographs that I took during the walk.

What I do want to talk about is the camera I got to use, Olympus Pen-F + 17mm f1.8. Part of the photowalk experience was that you could make the most of Olympus being there and use their equipment which they had brought along, I was fairly certain of what kit I wanted to use as the Pen-F was released when I was still working for LCE but I didn’t get a chance to properly have a play with it. I’m interested in small yet powerful cameras. I struggle carrying big kit around with me due to having Fibromyalgia and HMS, I couldn’t imagine not having a camera with me though and I am fussy about the quality of my photographs which makes the Olympus Pen-F the perfect companion. There was a selection of lenses available, I’ve really enjoyed shooting with my Samyang 35mm lens for my Sony a7Sii  so it made sense to give the Olympus 17mm f1.8 (34mm eq. on full frame) a test run. The perfect small kit with fixed focal length meant I focused on the scene at hand rather than constantly zooming and reframing while the camera allowed me to be discreet in my photography without up hurting my body after carrying it around all day. Another thing I particularly like about the Pen-F is that is that although it is a beautiful camera it doesn’t attract attention, this allows me to walk around with it out without risk of it catching someone’s eye.

In terms of usability the camera is fairly easy to operate, I do find the menu takes a bit of getting used to as some of the usual terms like ‘format’ are different on Olympus cameras but thats quick enough to pick up. The start up time of the camera is incredible quick. When shooting street photography I leave the camera on and let the sleep mode kick in to save battery, this allows me to always be ready for a photo. I found that by the time I had half press the shutter button down the camera was already awake and ready to shoot, I didn’t notice any delay. The EVF is also beautiful, very clear display even when using it during a bright day with a refresh rate that make it feel like I was using a standard view finder but with all the additional information that an EVF provides. It was simple to adjust my settings throughout the day without having to go back in to the menu, lots of buttons mean everything is to hand so I can focus on finding the shot rather than finding the menu option. The Olympus Reps on the day were praising the JPEG files straight out of camera but I still prefer shooting in RAW as it gives me that extra flexibility to pull/edit the data later on. Despite having a smaller sensor than most ‘professional cameras’ have the files were a pleasure to work with, I was able to pull back some of the highlights in the sky which had been slightly lost due to the beautiful bright day we had without damaging the rest of the image. The Pen-F was released in 2016 so there’s been plenty of time for companies like Adobe to sort out a raw converter in their software, the night I came home from Brighton I immediately uploaded with files to Adobe Lightroom without any issues. If you were to purchase one of these cameras now you could just pick it up, shoot and edited with whatever programme you prefer.

Overall I really enjoyed shooting with the Olympus Pen-F and it has actually influenced me into a new camera purchase, although it’s not an Olympus as I already have a system in place. I also found the photowalk really inspiring and just wanted I needed to give my creativity a boost. There was lots of different people at the walk with various backgrounds and skill levels of photography; it wasn’t treating like a competition between each other but an excuse to spend a few hours with a camera. I would definitely take part in another photowalk, especially if Olympus or AP decided to host one again as they were such a great team.

The next few photographs are taken using the Fuji X100F after the official photowalk had ended and all the Olympus kit had been handed back.

Clarence Pier for Solent Sky Services

Guest blog post featured on Solent Sky Services alongside other Portsmouth Creatives.

South Parade Pier has always been a favourite spot of mine as I have tons of memories there, since its reopened I’ve really enjoyed being able to get the most of it as a photographer. SPP offers lots of different view points in a small area so its appeal for playing and testing ideas as a photographer; you can photograph the pier itself; use it as a feature in the background, use the metal supports under the pier as framing for a scene or stand on the pier to get some shots from a higher vantage point looking down towards the beach. The low tide is my favourite time to shoot as it allows me to get close to the pier and the little bit of sand we have acts as a wonderful reflector.  The general area around SPP is lovely to explore with a camera as well, its a general gathering point for people due to the various attractions that surround the pier so if you want to capture candid street photos its a must visit. My biggest recommendation for the area is just to capture anything that catches your attention, its a space that has changed a lot in recent months and chances are the next time you visit it will have changed again. I’m not sure what I’ll do next time I visit SPP, I may force myself to only photograph in portrait format or even just focus on long exposures. It’s a wonderful local to learn and play as a photographer so I will continually come back.

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