Gone for a Ball of Chalk

The best way of getting to know a new camera is to use it – I love stating the obvious πŸ˜‰ Sunday dawned overcast with a promise of a bright and sunny afternoon and I decided to take a trip into central London with the camera – it’s usually a target rich environment πŸ™‚ The object of the exercise was to get a feel for how well the metering handled various lighting situations and to understand how the af works. In order to achieve some sort of standardisation I decided that all shots would be taken on Aperture Priority (actually that’s my preferred way of working anyway) and the Lens was set to f8 for the duration of the day. I set the autofocus to use the central 9 points – again, I didn’t intend to change this as I wanted to see how well that setting suited my general photography. Metering was left on the Evaluative setting.

Deserted DCMy starting point was Euston Station where the normally busy DC lines platforms were deserted because of engineering works. Our first complex lighting situation which doesn’t seem to have fazed the metering at all. I actually took this shot twice – once on autofocus and once focusing manually. There really wasn’t any difference between the two! For the record, ISO800 and 1/25th were the variable parameters for this shot.

I didn’t wander along the platforms to check what trains were in – the concourse at Euston is a very busy place and was too crowded for my liking. Running the gauntlet of smokers on the piazza outside I crossed the bus station and the Euston Road to make my way south towards The British Museum where I knew I would find some artificial lighting opportunities.

Amenhotep IIIThe imposing and beautifully carved bust of Amenhotep III in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery immediately caught my eye. I have photographed this guy before but I have to say this effort out does the others and I am well pleased with the result! ISO1600 this time and 1/25th (purely luck – I didn’t manually set the shutter speed!). The museum was very busy, with tourists from around the world so it’s an excellent place for people watching. I had to wait a couple of minutes but I just knew that this next shot was on the cards…Photographing Heiroglyphs Sure enough, a couple of French tourists posed for me πŸ™‚ ISO3200 and 1/50th – you see, it does have more than one speed πŸ˜‰

From the museum I headed south towards that other tourist trap – Covent Garden Market – to have a butcher’s at what was going on and would you adam and eve it, I met with a string of pearlies! The Pearly Kings and Queens have been a traditional part of London since 1875 and they can often been found at events where they collect for charities.A String of Pearlies Here they were posing with tourists for photos – right to left, they are Pearly Princess of Woolwich, Pearly King and Queen of Smithfield Market and the Pearly King of Woolwich. Pearly King of FinsburyThe Pearly King of Finsbury was also there, chatting with a friend. You can read the history of the Pearly Kings and Queens on their society website. I did miss one classic shot in the Victoria hall a bit later. The Pearly Princess of Woolwich was buying Rosie’s for the other Pearlies but there was a continual traffic jam of tourists in the way and by the time they cleared the shot was gone 😦 I guess you win some and you lose some. Both shots ISO800 and 1/640th.

From Covent Garden it’s a short walk to the river. I crossed the Thames on Waterloo Bridge, taking the opportunity to photograph upstreamThe Thames where the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and Royal Festival Hall were all visible along with the Hungerford Bridge that carries the line out of Charing Cross station. Why is it called Hungerford you may ask – given that Hungerford is a small town to the west of Reading. Well, apparently there was originally a footbridge here connecting the south bank with Hungerford Market which was located on the site of the present Charing Cross station. The market had been set up by Sir Edward Hungerford sometime in the late 17th century. ISO400 and 1/2000th – I thought that water looked a bit stationary πŸ˜‰ Avensis CoachCrossing over the road I got the chance to practice my panning skills with this splendid Van Hool Astron belonging to Avensis of Romsey, which was full of German tourists. You can see from this shot that the sun was finally starting to burn through the clouds. ISO200 and 1/640th.

Hiding under Waterloo Bridge is the Southbank Book Market.Setting Up The bridge provides shelter from the weather be it sun or rain and the market provides an interesting mix of cheap secondhand to expensive antiquarian books. The young lady in the image was setting out her wares – books aimed at children and young adults. I would think that she and her partner in the venture have very up to date knowledge of that market and it was great to see youngsters running a business for themselves πŸ™‚ Another tricky shot for the metering with the bright sunlight beyond the deep shadow of the bridge. If I were manually shooting this I might have opted for a more over-exposed background than the camera has but it’s a pretty good result anyway. ISO200 at 1/80th.

The Thames A short walk down river from Waterloo Bridge takes you past Gabriel’s Wharf, where there are a number of fine restaurants, to the Oxo Building which nowadays houses art exhibitions and a number of small businesses. From the bank in front of the Oxo Building you get a fine view across the Thames of St.Pauls Cathedral and the City of London School. The school moved from this building in 1987 to a new site on Queen Victoria Street but the old building has a preservation order and is currently infested with bankers. The green roofed building on the extreme right of the photo is Faraday Building where I worked for a number of years. ISO200 and 1/640th.

Blackfriars StationA quick diversion away from the river took me to a favourite watering hole, The Mad Hatter. If you are visiting London, check it out. Then it was time to head home from Blackfriars station. Here is one of the regular Class 319 units used on the Thameslink Route. I understand that the order has been placed for new units from Siemens and that these will be refurbished for further use somewhere else in the country. ISO400 at 1/40th.

Watching the Wickets FallBy the time I left the Underground at East Finchley the sun was beating down and the temperature was way too warm so I dived into my local rub-a-dub for a couple of apple fritters. Meanwhile, over at Lords, the Australians were having a nightmare and I enjoyed my pint of McMullens Country as I watched the wickets fall. ISO1600 and 1/80th.

So what did I learn during my outing? Well, the metering looks to be very good. It got just about every exposure right at a variety of ISO settings. The autofocus did a good job almost all of the time. On two occasions a couple of things closer to the camera that I would have liked in focus were fuzzy because they fell outside the central focusing points and the camera focused on a more distant object – that’s something I could have addressed at the time either by manually focusing or changing the autofocus settings to give more sensor points. So I will consider that for future trips. All-in-all, a worthwhile exercise πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks Patti – Hope it helps you with your decision making process πŸ™‚

      Regarding which – have you considered a lens upgrade first? The EF 24-70mm f2.8 should work well on your camera although the balance might feel a bit wrong to start with.

      1. Martin, this is the one I am seriously thinking about! I had a look at it last week, both on my Rebel, and the 5D, the clarity was a revelation! Thank you Martin for all your wonderful help, very much appreciated!

      2. No problem Patti – That lens works well with the 7d, so it should be very good with your Rebel also πŸ™‚ Then you can wait until you have the money together before getting the 5D. The only issue is a loss of reach but, as you like to get in close to people I don’t think that will be an issue for you πŸ™‚

  1. Wonderful – Wonderful AND Wonderful – I really miss London by reading and looking at your wonderful photos – Thank you for sharing – Splendid!!

      1. You did indeed πŸ˜‰ – I am sure I will visit London next year again and then stay longer πŸ˜€ – Good memories indeed !!! Thank you again

  2. I can see that you are really enjoying your new camera, and you have a good feel for its settings! I am still in need of learning so much. A good camera does some thinking for me, which is very helpful, but when I need to make adjustments I’m still quite insecure. Your walk and photos are really nice, and it’s always a pleasure to be introduced to sights I haven’t seen before. Nice work, Martin!

    1. Hi Debra – Glad you enjoyed the walk and found some new sights πŸ™‚ The 5D has a lot in common with my 7D – same bodyshell with most of the controls in the same place so it isn’t too much of a learning curve.

      Looking at the EXIF data of your images I see that you mainly shoot on auto. The problem with that is that the camera starts at some basic average settings for aperture and ISO and then juggles the speed around them. f5.6 and ISO400 look to be the pre-programmed settings in the camera’s brain. When it takes the photo, to get the exposure completely right for the shutter speed it has selected it will modify the aperture, so if you look at the EXIF data behind your Darwin plant damage image you’ll find Lens F-Number / F-Stop = 28/5 ===> Ζ’/5.6 and another line saying Max Aperture = Ζ’/4.76 – it opened the iris further and, as a result, decreased your depth of field. As depth of field may be very important for the end result of the image you are taking, this is undesirable. Another issue is that most lenses are at their best resolution around f8, so it may not be getting the best from your lens either.

      I normally use Aperture Priority mode for my general shots and also for my daytime football photographs. Trust me Debra – it is simple to use. Select your aperture. For normal general photography I use f8. Now all you have to do is choose an ISO. For most general work between 200 & 800 depending on the light is a good setting. Check what shutter speed the camera’s meter is giving for the ISO you chose. If it’s ok for the subject then fire away. If it isn’t – 1/100th when you’re intending to photograph something moving a bit quicker than Darwin for example, then adjust the ISO upwards until you have a suitable shutter speed. A little practice and it will soon become second nature and you’ll have a mental picture of the ISO you’re likely to need for the circumstances πŸ™‚

      Sorry if that’s over long and if I’ve been boring you with something you already knew.

      1. Not at all! I really do a lot of experimenting. I would love to know a lot more and be confident in both my skills as well as the capabilities of my camera, so I appreciate the sharing and teaching you provide! I admire the time you take to learn!

      2. Experimenting is Good πŸ™‚ I’ve learnt what I know over many years of using SLR’s Debra but I’ve had to learn some new tricks with the DSLR’s. I was amazed at just how much higher the shutter speed had to be compared with a film camera when trying to stop motion! And we’re using ISO’s to do it that I would never have dreamed of back in the 1980’s – Just how did we get all those night shots on Kodachrome 64?!!! πŸ˜‰

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