A Quest to Capture the Golden Hour: Wild Camping in the Lake District

By Mark Gilligan

Ah, the simple pleasures of life. They invigorate the soul! Changes and new experiences are great but it’s nice to do what you enjoy. It gives us you a lift. Genesis, my favourite band of all time, summed it up nicely when Peter Gabriel lent his unmistakable voice to, “I know what I like” and I am, sure many of you reading this will feel the same.

We are all ‘routined’ to a point and I suppose I fall into that bracket. Whilst I may be laid back I am never complacent. I regularly slip out of the ‘comfort zone’ and push myself, but if there is one thing I do not like to disrupt, it is enjoying a good night’s kip! A comfy bed with clean sheets, bit of a read, lights out and I am off.

I awake, have an invigorating hot shower, get dressed and breakfast. Then it is time to attack the day. I definitely know what I like and I approach my photography in exactly the same way. I love the mountains and great views. I will never tire of them but it would be easy to keep going along to regular haunts never being bored with them and marveling at what they give me. That won’t change. After 40 odd years of shooting professionally, I am still learning my craft and I enjoy exploring new ways to enrich my skillset. It was on one of my, “what can I do now?” days that I thought about wild camping. Continue reading A Quest to Capture the Golden Hour: Wild Camping in the Lake District

It’s all in the AUTO – X-A2

With the sunlight beating through the window and falling across my work monitor I knew I had to take a camera out for a play. And I thought that this was the perfect excuse to really try out the SR+ AUTO mode on the X-A2 camera.

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To give some background on the Fujifilm X-A2, it’s one of our entry-level mirrorless cameras which is aimed at photography enthusiasts and individuals that want great pictures without all the complicated settings that can come with DSLRs.

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SR+AUTO MODE

The idea behind my little afternoon shoot (other than to enjoy the sunshine 😉 ) was to really see just how good the Auto mode is on this camera. I have so many family members who love to take pictures but they don’t know all about apertures, shutter speeds, ISO etc. They just want a proper camera that takes nice pictures and which is easy to use.

So this is what I did:

I drove to my local country park, put the camera in the auto mode and set about my walk.

For those who know the film simulation modes, I kept it on PROVIA to give the most true-to-life colours and tones. 

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The thing that is nice about any AUTO mode on a camera, is if it works well, you can just enjoy your surroundings and let the camera do all the hard work. Not only that, but I know that if I was out walking with my family and friends, I wouldn’t want to think about all the settings. I would just want to snap away and enjoy the atmosphere and conversation.

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Another area that this camera excels in, is the colour reproduction. I have not boosted the colour saturation in post-production – these images are pretty much all straight out of camera…

In fact, the only post-production I used was in Picasa (a free to download editing suite by Google – find it here.) to crop a couple of the images into squares (1:1 format) and a one click ‘Auto-Contrast’ adjustment, which basically creates a better balance between the brightest point and the darkest point of an image – in many cases this will make the whites brighter and the blacks darker.

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I did this to make the images ‘pop’ out of the screen a bit more as our eyes are naturally drawn to high contrast scenes.

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As I continued my walk on this beautiful day, I turned my attention to macro (close-up) photography. I wondered how the SR+ AUTO mode would cope with close-up photography. Now what I haven’t told you is what SR stands for – it stands for Scene Recognition, which basically means the camera automatically detects what the camera is going to shoot. This helps the camera decide what settings it’s going to use for a particular shot. Of course, for me, this just meant I could point and shoot again.

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All in all, I was very impressed by the overall performance of the AUTO mode. Especially as I normally shoot using my own custom settings, apertures, etc. I think it really helps prove that having a good eye at photography is what it’s really all about. I didn’t have to fiddle with the settings on the camera, I only did that tiny bit of post-production which was to enhance my creative style, but it was certainly not necessary.

And the most important part was that I really enjoyed it! I could have gone walking without the camera and still had a nice time – it was a beautiful day after all. But because this mode does the hard work all I was left with was the fun part of photography, which made my walk a great one. I think I’d have to call SR AUTO carefree mode! 😉

If you’re looking for a camera that’s incredibly easy to use and takes great pictures, perhaps the X-A2’s the one for you. Please feel free to share this blog post with anyone else you think might be in the market for a carefree, no-nonsense camera.

Any questions, please leave a comment below.

Happy snapping! 🙂