London with the XT2 and the 18-55mm Kit Lens

Some time ago i decided to make the leap from Canon over to the Fuji X system, and quite frankly, i’ve not looked back.  Now I’m not saying i disliked Canon, moreover, i had many happy years shooting with various Canon DSLR’s, it’s just that the Fuji X system seemed to just suit me and my way of shooting.  I suppose it’s like a pair of underpants, some fit well, others not so, you can’t explain it but they just do, lol.

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Now, ask me to say what my way of shooting is and i couldn’t possibly tell you.   I’m a small chap and i like to feel at ease when shooting, free to float around, especially when shooting busy weddings, and not feel weighted down with cumbersome gear etc.  If the full frame DSLR’s suits YOU stick with them.

Anyway, since making the move to Fuji i’ve amassed a collection of Lens’, both primes and zooms and recently pondered which to take for a planned day trip to London for a birthday jolly outing.  I wanted to travel light, and as this was a family trip, photography was not the main purpose of the day.

I elected to take just the one camera, my XT2, and just one lens, the XF 18-55mm, the Fuji equivalent of a kit lens.  Its a lens that often gets left at home in preference of my primes, especially for shooting weddings etc, but decided to make the most of what this combination could give.

So, no tripod, no filters, no big zoom lens’s, i was free to ‘float around’ and have a good old family day out, while quickly grabbing the odd image.  As you’ll see from the images below just a day in London does not give you too much time to take it all in, so as my son wanted to visit the Tower of London that was the main part of our day.  If you’ve never done the Beefeater guided tour you MUST put it on your ‘todo’ list.  Their historical knowledge, humour, quick wit and amazing character make the entrance fee with while alone.

You could quite easily spend the whole day in the Tower and there is all manner of things to photograph but i tried to take a few different images away from the usual ‘tourist’ snap shots, let me know what you think.

Our second port of call was to take in the ‘View from the Shard’ which was a short 20 minute walk from the Tower via London bridge.  I managed to grab a few long exposures using the bridge wall as a camera rest, remember i had no tripod, and then some concrete bollards.  Sadly, these concrete bollards were put in place after the recent terrorists atrocities that took place here a few months back.

The view from the shard is quite amazing but its hard to avoid the reflections on the glass and there were no elevated positions on which to place my camera, so, i ramped up the ISO, opened up the aperture and took a few handheld shots.  They are not the best but certainly show the view we had.  I’m hoping to plan another visit which will take in a pre booked good sunset, lol.

I thoroughly enjoyed travelling with just one camera & one lens and will make the effort to use that ‘kit lens’ a little more.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you travel with your camera gear.  Do you try to travel light, or do you take a full compliment of lens’s etc?

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Travel Photography – Ukraine & Chernobyl

Ukraine is a country steeped in history and there is much going on in the country today that will be read about in history books in years to come.  Many of us will recall  an event in Ukraine’s history that had a wider impact on much of what was then the USSR and also Europe, that was the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant disaster.

Having been involved with the Chernobyl Childrens Lifeline Charity, you can read more about this here, for a number of years a few of us decided we would like to experience their side of the story, learn more about their every day lives & struggles and to also visit the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself.

Travel photography is something I’m aiming to do a lot more of as having spent much of my earlier working years traveling the world, sadly the photography bug had not yet bit.  Its now time to put that right. So, what more of an excuse could one want, to do a little travel photography, and explore somewhere were there is a personal connection?

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t do much research before heading over to Ukraine and was somewhat unsure if there were any constraints with regards to photography etc.  I suppose that a little bit of me still thought of it as being very much a controlled state.  As a youngster growing up in the eighties i felt somewhat intrigued and mystified by the old Soviet cold war era and some of that mystery still lives with me today.  In reality though i couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Ukraine is a bustling country eager to have its own unique identity, with symbols of patriotism almost on every corner, and many a stranger happy to say hello and chat, with the obvious language barrier though.

For the trip i had a reasonable luggage allowance so took a full compliment of gear including my two Fuji XT-1’s, the xf18-55mm & xf55-140mm zoom lens’ and also the xf14mm, xf35mm & xf56mm primes.  I’ve got to say though, that i found myself mainly using the 18-55mm which is totally opposite to the way i normally work when shooting weddings etc where the primes are the only lens’ i use.  The 18-55mm, with its image stabilisation, is such a versatile lens and coped well with the many situations i found myself.   There is one thing i will add though and that is that the airport security was a nightmare.  Every item of photographic & electronic gear had to be taken out of my rucksack and placed in a separate tray for the x-ray scanner.  It was a lengthy process and chaos of re-packing everything while you have the constant stream of other peoples stuff pushing you along was a bit of a nightmare.

Anyway, gear aside, i wanted to experience, or at least see, the Ukrainian way of life.  In particular that of the more rural setting where many of our visiting children come from.  We were lucky to see many aspects of their lives from the hustle and bustle of the town markets to the self reliant lifestyle many lead with their own small holdings.  People from all walks of life, complete strangers, were happy to welcome us with open arms as if we were family, an experience that was overwhelmingly humbling.

The trip would not have been complete without a visit to the infamous Nuclear Power plant of Chernobyl.  Reactor number four catastrophically exploded on 26th April 1986 and immediately changed the lives of thousands of people and sadly, to this very day, still affects the lives of many more thousands.

The exclusion zone can only be visited by prior booking a guided tour.  There are a number of companies on the internet selling tickets but its only once you arrive at the first 30km check point that you realise just how much of a tourist attraction this place has become.  With the mystery of the many abandoned villages and the stories they hold to the somewhat imposing steel structure that now covers the reactor, who wouldn’t want to visit the site of the worlds worst nuclear disaster?  I know, its not for everyone, but it was a very emotional experience thinking of the time when many people gave their lives to avoid an even greater explosion and thus saving the lives of many and even the existence of the European continent.

So below is a pictorial collection of my visit, from the humbling family encounters, the emotional visit to a local orphanage and to the poignant visit to Chernobyl & the abandoned city of Prypiat.  If you’d like to know a little  more about my visit please do leave me a comment or get in touch.  You can also find a Youtube travel blog i made here.  Finally, more of my work can be found on my website which you can find here.  I’ll look forward to sharing images of my future travels with you soon….Rob

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Monuments from the Soviet era celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Soviet symbols celebrating WWII victory

Monuments from the Soviet era celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Kerosene rail station

Korosten, an important rail hub in the Zhytomyr region. Fire crews from here were some of the first to attend the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster.

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Busy markets in Korosten with Salo (cured fat) in abundance.

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There were wild dogs everywhere, some quite placid while others harassed the busy shoppers.

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Children in a local school were intrigued by their foreign visitors.

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Typical rural houses in Ukraine.

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Chernobyl and the queues of tourists waiting for their guides.

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Items discarded in a village that was hastily abandoned shortly after the nuclear disaster.

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Nature rapidly reclaiming what it once owned.

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The city of Chernobyl.

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Our guide showed us how the background radiation levels fluctuated within relatively short distances.

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Childhood toys lay abandoned in a village near Chernobyl.

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The infamous reactor 4 at Chernobyl, now with its new steel confinement.

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The road to Prypiat. The city that offered a new beginning, and new hope and a new life to many. A city that only had a life of 16 years.

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This amusement park was never used. It was due to be opened on 1st May 1986, just a week after the nuclear disaster.

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The Soviet Duga 3 ‘over the horizon’ radar close to the Chernobyl Nuclear power plant.

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Soviet military wall painting.

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An abandoned Soviet missile bunker.

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Soviet era newspapers pasted to the wall of an abandoned missile base.

 

Lincolnshire Wedding Photography – Sarah & Michael

Finally managed to get round to writing this blog from my last wedding of 2014.  Its been an amazingly busy start to 2015 and certainly no complaints there!

Anyway, back to the wedding.  Sarah & Michael contacted me through a good friend who was very kind enough to pass on a ‘word of mouth’ referral and they soon popped over to see some samples of my work.  It was amazing to be able to capture this young couples special day as Michael was in the process of his Parachute Regiment training and the time they could spend together would be somewhat limited.  Her Majesties Forces have an uncanny knack of messing with personal plans, trust me, i know from personal experience, and it was touch and go for a little while as to whether he would get leave the planned date.

Thankfully though, everything was sorted and it was off to beautiful rural Lincolnshire for an intimate family wedding in the village of Alford.  The held their ceremony at the quaint Alford Community Church followed by reception at the recently refurbished Alford Corn Exchange.

Huge congratulations to Sarah & Micheal and thanks once again for booking Ron Ferrol Photography to capture your special day, your amazing album bundle has created a compelling storybook portfolio of images for you both to treasure.  Here are just a small selection of their big day.  Please feel free to share this blog post and if you are, or you know someone who is, getting married please do get in touch if you’ve still to book your wedding photographer.

Bridal bouquet Bride & mother carrying wedding dress paige boy wedding preparations wedding preparations paige boy posing on stairs bride looking in mirror bride posing on leather sofa paige boy & flower girl SM Wedding-27 SM Wedding-30 SM Wedding-35 SM Wedding-37 SM Wedding-39 couple kissing parachute regiment happy couple newlyweds bride standing near car SM Wedding-48 SM Wedding-51 SM Wedding-53 wedding speeches wedding speeches SM Wedding-61 wedding group photo SM Wedding-65 SM Wedding-66 bride & groom first dance

 

wedding album bundle