South London Photographer: At the foot of a mountain in Italy

It’s taking me a little while to get my head back into every day life. Sitting in the spring sunshine reading books while the kids went completely feral was much needed and I made the most of it, but I think I might have fried some cells just beneath my skull. Ever since we returned my brain has felt like sludge which is not ideal when you’re trying to do things where you actually need a fully functioning head.

It wasn’t all play and no work. I had taken more camera equipment than I usually do when I visit my mother in Italy especially so I could experiment with how I photograph my family. I guess I also needed to work out if wandering round with heavier gear in my bag or over my shoulder felt acceptable. I’ve always used a relatively small albeit very decent camera on holiday, most likely because I was carrying quite enough to be getting on with when the boys were very young, such as extra nappies and the rest of it. Plus I remember having an SLR over my shoulder, bending down to help a child and whacking him in the bonce with it, which wasn’t ideal, obviously. It was my child I hasten to add, not a client’s. But lately I’ve sort of gone off my little camera. I must state now, this is not a product review. I don’t do those and if I did I’d have to give the camera I’m referring to an excellent review. It’s takes terrific pictures. And ultimately you have the equipment you have – the whole constant sell, sell, sell we live with is trying, so I’m not on about specific brands here.

Nevertheless, I’ve begun to feel limited by the camera I have used for a while when I’m with the boys as I wasn’t always getting the images I was after. Frustrating! So a couple of months ago I started using the camera I use for work, a full frame SLR, more and more when I was out with the family. I immediately felt happier with it and have since been taking that camera out fairly frequently for personal images.  But one of the good thing with my smaller camera is that it has a fixed prime lens. Which may sound annoying, but actually it stops you from needing or wanting to take out extra lenses, and if you have to get closer or move further away, then you’re forced to do exactly that… shift your position. Which I like. In fact, whenever I work for myself on long term projects rather than for a client with the main ‘work’ camera, I prefer a lens that doesn’t zoom. That way, you get to know your frame which can be a really beneficial, especially when you’re working on a series of images and you’re after a cohesive feel for the whole set. I do, of course, have a choice of lenses to choose from when working commercially, and so I took a choice with me on holiday this time. Yup, definitely due to the fact there are no longer nappies and buggies to think about, extra camera equipment seems more doable and less like an intolerable and terrible nuisance. So with all my clobber, I experimented each day and tried to work out which scenario I prefer when with the boys going forward. I can’t say I have any definitive answers and, despite what I just said, I did really like using the ridiculously long zoom lens that is heavy as Hades, even though there is absolutely no way you can be shy about the fact you’re taking photographs in public when you’re pointing it at someone.

Before I went away I was convinced I’d get rid of my small camera soon and put the funds towards a new lens which I’ve wanted for years. But looking through my pictures I’m not sure now. I probably should and probably will but I’m terrible at making decisions. I know I will stick with using the SLR more and more when I’m out and about though. And aren’t I lucky to have a choice at all!

I have said a little about each camera I used for the images below. It is not a cohesive set. In fact it’s not a set at all but each has elements worth comparing. (c)SJField 2017

PS-  You can check out an earlier blog where I shared some images from Italy at Easter in 2015 here. The weather was very different that time as you can see. These are taken with the little camera and it makes me think, oh no, I’ll need a wider prime lens to replace it if I sold … best keep hold of it, heh?

1) The first couple were with the camera I have used for a few years when out and about with my family. It’s small and light with a fixed lens so hangs over my shoulders without getting in the way. It takes good pictures but is slower than it might be to find focus in low light. I’ve always really enjoyed the fact I can just grab it and go.

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2) Taken with my SLR on a 50mm lens which is probably my favourite to use. I suspect I get overexcited by the very low apertures but it’s great for me because it’s light and easy to carry round. I am also pleased to have used this in Calais and Dunkirk as it is less of a huge in-your-face object.

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3. Finally, taken with a zoom which means you can be quite far away when taking the images if necessary. This lens is actually really great with kids. I love using it but it’s heavy and not always practical if you don’t really feel like standing out. Also the size and weight make a tripod worth considering which isn’t always desirable when chasing children round and trying to capture moments rather than setting up posed images  – and so means you have to develop a very steady hand.

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