"Telegram from 1940s Brooklands"

Peter Flower

Despite the fact that telegrams were discontinued many, many years ago the following message was received by me from Stephen Hewes in response to a request that I made to him for a brief report on one of our Summer Programme events, a visit to the 1940s Revival event at Brooklands

I did ask for a brief report, but not quite that brief! Thank goodness he didn't send the message in Morse code, otherwise it might have started something like this -

---·· ·-· · ·· --· ·- - · !!

 

Photo by Peter Flower

This poster image gives an indication of the themes for that day. In addition to Winston Churchill and General Montgomery look-alikes there was a group of Home Guards (aka Dad's Army) on parade, numerous British and American servicemen, their vehicles and equipment, plus many 'civilians' wearing clothes from the 40s era. In addition to this there was a display of vehicles dating from around the time of the 1948 London Motor Show. A very lively series of dance classes were also held in the Palais De Danse area of one of the Brooklands buildings. There were also the permanent displays of aircraft and vehicles to view, and in more recent times the extensive display of London Transport vehicles has made its home here. A suitable aged London Transport double decker provided trips around the surrounding area. Taken together with the beautiful sunny weather of the day there was a great range of imagery to keep the attending members happy on this event that was organised by Stephen.

Photos by Stephen Hughes – 'Churchill' and Dad's Army

 

Photos by Jill Flower – Palais de Danse, PF peering into a Series 1 Land Rover

RAF officer plus Winnie and Monty, Superb MG

 

Chatham Challenge - 14 June 2015 - organised by Jose Vazquez

Peter Flower

This year's event involved a visit to London, taking in an area which included King's Cross and St. Pancras stations, Granary Square, Camley Street Natural Park, London Canal Museum and part of the Regent's Canal. This is an area which has been the subject of a great deal of development in recent years. Jose had carried out careful research of the various different locations and provided useful guidance notes which were included on the 'challenge' sheets issued before the event. Whilst some of the subjects appeared fairly straightforward, such as Bus, Boats,Taxi and Architecture, there were others that were going to be more challenging such as Love In The City and Wildlife. I think that it is fairly predictable that Love In The City will feature many almost identical images of a statue in one of the stations!

 

Nikon D7200

Techman

The D7200 can now extend its ISO higher than on its predecessor, but with a catch. Acknowledging how little colour detail would be left at ISO 51,200 and 102,400, Nikon has chosen to make those two sensitivities black and white only.

 

Return Fire For Canon (and Nikon)

Techman

The announcement by Sony on 10 June of their new Sony A7R II model will be causing some alarm for Canon and Nikon management. In the race for ever higher pixel counts on full-frame sensors the recently announced Canon EOS 5DS still reigns supreme with 51 megapixels, but the Sony at 42 beats the Nikon D810 at 36 megapixels. However, it is not the pixel count that is most important. The Sony combines so many other features that make it an attractive proposition for the serious photographer. Included in these are the world's first back-illuminated full-frame CMOS image sensor with 42.4 megapixels. (As reported in the article about the Samsung NX1, in Newsletter 63, this improves light-gathering performance of the sensor) It also claims to take image resolution, sensitivity (up to ISO 102400) and speedy response to new heights. The following image shows the difference in the two sensor technologies.

The Fast Hybrid AF system's dense extra-wide focal plane phase-detection AF coverage, with no less than 399 sensors, keeps a subject in sharp focus entirely throughout the frame, while in-body 5-axis image stabilization reduces blur which otherwise tends to affect hand-held shots. High resolution is further enhanced by 4K movie recording. The 399 AF points cover a wide aspect of the total image area and also enable accurate focus tracking. The XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, with ZEISS T* Coating, reduces surface reflection and provides the world's highest viewfinder magnification at 0.78x. It also provides a Focus Magnifier & Peaking function to ensure accurate focussing. The Peaking function colourises the most sharply focused areas of the image for quick confirmation. Another important feature is the AF-C focus mode. Eye AF automatically detects and tracks an eye of even a moving subject. This feature is not unique to the A7R II, having been available before on the Sony A6000, and now on models from other manufacturers. However, it is far more sophisticated than mere face recognition, and combined with the focus tracking capabilities for action scenes provides a comprehensive aid for maintaining accurate focus.

The magnesium alloy body comes with in-built wi-fi and NFC for easy transfer of images and video. It also gains an electronic first curtain shutter option to eliminate shutter vibration and offers a fully electronic silent shutter. (As reported before, the introduction of higher pixel count full-frame sensors in Canon and Nikon cameras, as well as some 7 series models from Sony, has highlighted the problems of image blur caused by mirror movement and, to a lesser extent, by the focal plane shutter mechanism)

The following comparison figures show the advantage that the Sony, being so much more compact, has in relation to its most immediate rivals -

Weight (including battery) - Canon EOS 5DS 930g, Nikon D810 980g, Sony A7R II 625g

Body dimensions Canon 152 x 116 x 76 mm, Nikon 146 x 123 x 82 mm, Sony 127 x 96 x 60 mm.

Coincident with this announcement it was reported that Sony Electronics, an overall leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, had experienced record growth in sales of mirrorless cameras in the USA in the year up to April 2015. (It should be stressed that sales patterns differ quite significantly in other regions of the globe. Acceptance of this class of camera in the US has lagged behind that of other regions) During the past 12 months Sony experienced a robust 66% boost in their company’s mirrorless camera sales, strengthening their dominant position as the No.1 overall mirrorless brand, a position they have held for 4 consecutive years.

 

Panasonic G7 and 4K burst shooting mode

Peter Flower

It is likely that there are not many members who are interested in using video on their cameras, or even an interest in the latest 4K television sets. However, the technology is advancing rapidly and there is one aspect of 4K that is becoming increasingly significant for photographers interested in capturing that critical moment in an action sequence. Conventional DSLR cameras have had their frame rate limited by the speed of actuation of the mirror, with only the most expensive models able to offer high rates. Mirrorless models can offer higher frame rates, limited only by the speed of image transfer to the memory card. The Panasonic G7 introduces the potential for rates as high as 30 frames per second.(It should be stressed that it is not unique to this Panasonic camera, but in this case the implementation provides options that are easy to use)

The newly-announced Panasonic G7 is able to record 4K video, but also enable the user to select individual frames. (Note: Do not confuse the reference to 4K in relation to television with the terms used in digital photography. Perhaps a more logical term would be Ultra High Definition - which is sometimes used – when referring to a system that records at four times that of conventional Full HD) The limitation is that still images are only captured at 8 megapixels, but this is usually adequate for most purposes. The simple selection control for the three burst modes is shown in the following image -

In 4K Burst Shooting mode, shooting continues for as long as the shutter release is held down. In 4K Burst (Start/Stop) mode, recording is started with a press of the shutter release and is stopped by a second press. In 4K Pre-burst mode, sensor scanning starts as soon as the mode is activated and the 30 frames before the shutter release is pressed are recorded along with 30 frames after, giving 60 images from the two seconds of recording. These 4K burst modes can be used in any exposure mode. In 4K Burst Shooting and 4K Burst (Start/Stop) modes it's possible to use image ratios of 16:9 (3840 x 2160), 4:3 (3328 x 2496), 3:2 (3504 x 2336) and 1:1 (2880 x 2880). Following the sequence capture it then possible to select the required individual frame(s) which show the critical point in the action.



Public and Official attitudes to photography

Peter Flower

Members who followed recent comments on the society's reiphoto email entries will be aware of the upsetting encounter that Gary Pocklington had with a motorist recently. I quote from his email message -

Last weekend as there was a motoring event which passed through the outskirts of Reigate. I thought it was an opportunity to practice some 'panning' shots. While doing this I was surprised that a passing motorist stopped and accused me of taking a picture of his car to clone the number plate?! I explained politely what I was doing and this seemed to be accepted as an explanation. This was a 'friendly' encounter but nevertheless I found it disturbing. The event was on public roads and I was taking the photos from a public pavement.

This was not an isolated incident and I am aware of a number of instances where other members have experienced hostile attitudes from members of the public, in addition to sometimes uninformed warnings from 'jobsworths' wearing uniforms or security high-vis jackets. The latter are not normally aggressive and the situation can usually be dealt with calmly. It is just a question of being aware of your rights. This is not always easy, especially on the subject of what constitutes private property. More difficult, and unsettling, is the unthinking and uninformed hostile attitude of general members of the public.

To illustrate the problems I will cite a number of instances. About two years ago I was with Jill when she was taking some action shots of youngsters on skate-boards and BMX bikes on the facility in Priory Park. A scruffy man came up to Jill and ranted on that she should not be photographing his son. The fact that he was holding a half-empty can of lager mid-morning was probably an indication of why he was so belligerent! We just walked away.

More recent incidents occurred whilst we were on the Photo 24 London event. Members may recall the keynote talk given on the occasion of the society's 75th Anniversary Celebrations by Will Cheung FRPS, editor of Advanced Photographer magazine on 23 February 2013. At that time he announced plans for a project involving photographers spending 24 hours photographing around London on the longest day of the year. This year we joined about 250 amateur photographers from all parts of the country in the third running of this event. This started at noon on Saturday and finished at noon on Sunday 21 June. There were a number of pre-arranged meeting points during the 24 hours, one of which was early Sunday morning at Columbia Road Flower Market. (Coincidentally, this had been one of the venues for our own Chatham Challenge event last year) Jill and I appeared to be the first to arrive at about 6:30am, when the stall-holders were setting up. After breakfast in a local cafe we set off to take some photographs. I had only taken a few shots when I was accosted by a middle-aged man and his wife who mouthed off at length that I should not be taking photographs. I politely explained that I had not photographed them (which they acknowledged) but they still continued their rant. I just walked off. Later, many more photographers from the group arrived, and we subsequently heard that some had also been subjected to hostile attitudes. It has to be said that the presence of a significant number of photographers, most of them carrying hefty DSLRs with zoom lenses, plus tripods, camera bags (and in one instance a wheeled trolley!) amongst the crowds in the narrow street was unhelpful and likely to cause some upset.

Another meeting point was close to the Shard. One photographer set up his hefty DSLR, with a bulky wide-angle lens, on a tripod to take an upwards shot of the tower building. He was quickly approached by a security man who advised him that he was not allowed to photograph from private land. I don't believe that there was any suggestion that he was causing obstruction by using a tripod as he was in an area that would not be on a direct access route to the station beyond. This incident highlighted the difficulties of knowing the extent of private land adjacent to buildings, especially as there was a vehicular access road between the site where we were and the base of the Shard.

Photograph by Jill Flower 

Ironically, in the background numerous members of the public could be observed happily snapping away at the Shard with their smartphones! No sign of protest from the security man. 

If there is one lesson to be learnt it is that street photography is best done with one of the more compact cameras, with an appearance more like that of the old-style rangefinder bodies. They are quite capable of producing quality results whilst at the same time being less obtrusive than the conventional DSLR. The large lenses of professional-looking DSLRs and loud click-clack of their shutter mechanisms naturally draw the attention of the subject, causing them suspicion or the adoption of unnatural poses, which is not what you want. 

It is a sad reflection on modern society that we are in danger of not being able to leave fully representative images of present-day life for future generations. Published pictures from the past give us so much pleasure, whether it be of cycling or early motoring holidays, leisure activities, shop keepers and traders, or kids playing games in terraced streets. 

This is a matter of increasing concern. We would welcome any contribution that you might like to make on this subject, whether it be of your personal experiences or any advice that you could give to minimise potential problems. If you are already signed up as a member to it this could be done via the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email system.

 

And finally . . . . .

Second opinion