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Mrs M and I have just come back from a week in the lovely town of Cefalu in Sicily which we enjoyed immensely. The sun, the food, and the wine were all excellent and although we did have a couple of thunderstorms they didn’t dent the enjoyment, they served to relieve the heat for an hour or so.

I took a camera of course, the X-E2, and two lenses, the XF18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 and the XF27mm F/2.8 pancake. I was there for my first holiday abroad in two years and it wasn’t going to be a photography trip. First and foremost it was going to be a relaxing holiday for Mrs M and I.

Of course I took photographs. But I have to say I didn’t feel the urge to get out there and take lots. I always  (or almost always – more later) had the brilliant Fuji with me, but inspiration was avoiding me I think by hiding up narrow Sicilian alleyways for most of the holiday. Perhaps I had “chilled-out” too much after I arrived. I don’t know. I have got some images and a few of them may be worth working up, we’ll have to wait and see.

A catastrophe was also narrowly avoided whilst I was carrying the X-E2 in my Domke F-5XB bag in Cefalu. I failed to notice the strap of the camera was hanging out and unnoticed by me, it managed to hook itself over the top of an iron bollard as I walked passed and as I turned the X-E2 and attached XF18-55mm lens were pulled straight out of the bag. A heart-stopping clang and a crash occurred and I turned slowly to view the damage. The X-E2 was on the cobbles with the strap still over the bollard. After a rather shaky examination it appeared that the initial impact of the body against the ironwork had only chipped a bit of paint on a corner of the body. It also appeared that the lens was saved by the lens hood on which the camera was resting on the floor. The hood was broken, the lens wasn’t touched. The camera also worked perfectly. So there’s a cautionary tale for you – always use a lens hood. But flipping heck these Fuji cameras can take a lot of punishment (and clumsiness).

The bollard was bent over by its collision with the X-E2. (Joke)

It also says a lot about my “photo block” that Mrs M and I booked a  trip into the Madonie mountains for an evening meal in a village whilst first going high into the mountains to the little town of San Mauro Castelverde and that I didn’t take the Fuji. I know, I know, I should have my photographer’s membership revoked and my cameras confiscated. Castelverde turned out to be a glorious little medieval town with a population of 2000, alleys, old houses, steps, signs and much more. I had to commandeer Mrs M’s fabulous little Nikon P300 to take photos. We didn’t have long there, but I could have spent hours wandering around. I was kicking myself all evening that I didn’t have the X-E2.

It wasn’t until the very last day of our stay, when as I lay on the sunbed thinking about a club project I had yet to fulfil that I peered through the heat haze and suddenly found some inspiration in the architecture of the hotel. Out came the Fuji, and I was away. Perhaps realising it was the end of my holiday photographic inspiration also decided to get back to work.

Here’s a couple of images from the trip, the first the ubiquitous holiday sunset shot from the harbour in Cefalu, the second a photograph taken on Mount Etna.

 

Tyrrhenian Sunset Fujifilm X-E2. XF27mm F/2.8 lens

Tyrrhenian Sunset
Fujifilm X-E2. XF27mm F/2.8 lens

 

Lava Reach Fujifilm X-E2, XF18-55mm F/2.8-4.0 lens

Lava Reach
Fujifilm X-E2, XF18-55mm F/2.8-4.0 lens

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Today I took a trip to the Midland Air Museum and was very impressed with the aircraft they had there. I’m not an aeroplane fan-boy, what I know about military aircraft comes from Airfix modelling in the days of my youth, but I did recognize some of the aircraft on show. A couple of English Electric fighters (far bigger than I expected), an American Phantom (a scary looking plane), the beautiful Sea Harrier and the grand dame of them all the iconic, awesome-looking Vulcan bomber – which is huge – were the favourites for me from quite a large collection on show.

I also got to sit in the cockpit of a Meteor F.4 fighter and then just had to supply the museum with aircraft sound effects including my rendition of machine-gun noises and jet sounds as I waggled the joystick about and pressed the (inactive) firing buttons.

The shoot was a time for abstracts and close-ups rather than shots of the jets in their entirety. The picture below was taken with a Fuji X-T1 and the 18-135mm F3.5 – 5.6 lens.

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I took a trip out to Calke Abbey with two other members of the Viewfinder Club and I think we all went there with the hope of finding some images that we could use for the club’s assignment for this month, “Found still-Life”.

I think by the end of the afternoon shooting that we all found something to take back but it was as we were leaving the house through the central courtyard that I noticed this image. The interior walls of the courtyard were all being repaired and were covered with scaffolding. Over the scaffolding blue sheets of safety netting had been secured creating a blueish, cold, glow in the courtyard. However it was the view upwards that I particularly liked. The blue of the netting and the lines of the scaffolding poles created an eerie, mysterious, view upwards to the open sky.

I used my Fujifilm X-T1 and the 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom lens

 

Construct in Blue

Construct in Blue

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The Viewfinder club phototrip was to Twycross Zoo this time. I hadn’t been there for a few years since my daughter was a lot younger and in some ways it has changed quite a lot and in other ways, by not much. I always have some moral trauma at zoos, because on one hand I don’t like to see animals caged up, but on the other I do like to see those creatures that live on different continents which otherwise I would only see when David Attenborough showed me them on the BBC.

There was some initial panic when we got to the zoo, because none of the cafés were open and I needed my morning coffee shot. Once we returned to the visitor centre and suitably ‘coffee’d’ up we set out to take some photographs. At the end of the day after quickly going through the images I was please with what I had got.

I took the X-T1 and the 55 – 200mm zoom lens, and I must say I was most impressed with the quality of image it produced. The shot below is one of the magnificent western lowland gorillas at the zoo.

It was taken at a focal length of 200mm (300mm full frame) at 1/320sec and an aperture of f/6.4 and through a glass window.

 

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A trip down to the Cotswolds today and to the Batsford Arboretum. Mrs M and I haven’t been down there for a few months so it was time to re-acquaint ourselves with the fabulous arboreal shapes and colours at the arboretum.

The first surprise was that it wasn’t busy. Perhaps the appalling weather of the last few days had put people off. We also managed to grab some sandwiches and coffees without having to queue. Normally the excellent meals at the restaurant draw the crowds in at lunchtime.

Once amongst the trees proper, the air was warm and damp and the small streams that meander through the trees gurgled happily. The bird song was incredible, I can’t imagine how loud the dawn chorus is.

I took the Fujifilm X-T1 and the 35mm f/2.0 lens. I’m glad I did as the light amongst the dense trees (everything has just got larger and greener with the warm wet weather we have been having) was quite low and so ISO’s of 1600 and 3200 were common on the shoot with apertures of f/2.0

The picture below however is an exception as it was taken against the light looking up under the leaf with the sky behind so the auto ISO kept the level at 200. The exposure time was 1/80 second at f/6.4 aperture.

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