Fountain Pens, writing with style

Waterman Hemisphere Fountain Pen

Whilst most people reach for biro when needed to take a note, while I reach for a fountain pen.

Most people would consider a fountain pen and out dated piece of technology. I did not enjoy writing while at school, and it was only in my final years I discovered the enjoyment of writing with a fountain pen.

Watch Macro with Profoto A10

My handwriting has never been good, but I found that using a fountain pen slowed me down, I think more as I write and concentrate more, so my handwriting improved.

I will say if you think a fountain pen will improve your handwriting then you may be in for a shock, it takes care and practice, but for me its been worthwhile.

In the picture at the top is a simple Waterman Hemisphere with a medium steel nib. A simple pen to carry with a notebook, hardy and sturdy.

Still Life – Macro Photography

Macro with Elinchrom Flash

While we were in lockdown due to COVID-19 and I could not shoot at all, not even outdoor shoots, I have been shooting a few still-lifes.

Watch Macro with Profoto A10

With macro photography getting the focus and having enough depth of field are all big issues. These shots were taken handheld, the top shot with one of my Elinchrom flash heads and a small brolly, the second a little hotshoe flash on a light stand and a shoot through brolly.

They could all be better, I should have used a tripod, and the objects I chose to photograph were not perfectly clean, but I encourage you to have a go.

Location Shoots – Wind and Weather

Sophie in Hartsholme Park – Snow included.

Last week was warm and sunny. I had a free day to shoot this week, so booked a model and took them to Hartsholme Park for a sunny days shooting.

After this was all arranged the weather forecast came in; -1 C wind chill with snow showers. Bang goes the idea of a model in a summer dress by the lake. Instead I need to borrow my wife’s long warm wool coat.

For outdoor shoots it always pays to have alternative ideas.

The day was also a learning experience. I was using a small light weight light stand, with a small high powered hotshot flash, and a radio trigger. The light modifier was a 90 cm shoot through umbrella. With the wind and weather this proved tricky, I should have brought a heavy lightstand, sandbags and switched out the umbrella for a small soft box.

Modular Camera – Sigma fp L

Modular cameras have always been a big part of professional gear. Large and Medium format cameras were always highly modular as was the film based Canon F and Nikon F ranges.

Recently Sigma produced their very exciting fp modular camera. With the L mount from the L alliance you have access to the best Leica glass and more affordable glass from other manufactures. It is an interesting concept that deserves to succeed. This new model at 60 MP is quite a beast, and I can see if attracting landscape photographers and maybe a few product and studio cameras.

Nikon Doomed / On the way Up!

There is so much press over the last year that Nikon is doomed. Finally their recent results has resulted in their share price increasing and it was nice to see Nikon sweeping the board in the German Foto Community & Colour Foto awards.

Nikon D200 10 MP DSLR

Its difficult for large companies like Canon and Nikon who are market leaders in digital SLR’s switch to mirrorless, and many would say they are too late to catch Sony, but for existing Canon and Nikon users there is much to temp them with the current mirrorless bodies available from these two big brands.

For myself with a big investment in Nikkor glass, knowing it works well on the mirrorless Z system is something I’ll consider if I jump from the DSLR world.

Coffee Ratios

Classic Coffee and a Leica

With COVID-19 lockdown continuing I have been using the time to improve my coffee brewing.

Mainly espresso and pour over, but even the odd French press (cafetière).

Coffee recipes are often expressed in various terms, scoops of coffee to cups of water, or fluid ounces (often not explaining whether American or imperial). Oh and what is a cup. In Europe a cup of coffee can be anything from a 4 Oz to a 6 Oz cup. In America in fact the west in general it just seems to keep getting bigger. The biggest issue with measuring volume is the fact that different coffee can have more volume than other, plus it depends on grind size.

Most common now is a ratio by weight, for espresso 1:2, one part coffee to two parts output. So for example 14 grams of coffee (an Italian double), and have 28 grams of espresso.

For pour over 1:15 is often the starting place. So one part of coffee to fifteen parts of water.

So ratio by weight is better but who wants to do maths before making coffee, I much prefer grams of coffee per litre of water, a litre of water being 1000 grams.

As a general rule I start at around 60 g per litre for a pour over and maybe a little more for a French press depending on how I am feeling. It makes the calculations easy, a large mug is generally 250 ml so four mugs is a litre, 30 g for two mugs, 15 g for one mug. Also I grind a little finer for a V60 when making amounts up to 250 ml, a little courser for my Kalita Wave, and courser still for my Chemex when brewing over 400 ml.

Knowing that 1 g equals 1 ml of water you can figure out the size of your favourite coffee cup and using the grams per litre measure quickly make yourself a cup of quality coffee first thing in the morning.

Keeping Reptiles

Timmy the Greyhound

I have kept, cats, dogs, birds, fish, hamsters and snakes.

Currently we have a Ted the Greyhound, two birds, and two snakes; Oz the Corn snake and Bertie the baby boa.

Of all of these reptiles are both the easiest and the hardest. The advantage of the types of reptiles I keep is that they do not need to feed, often for weeks at a time, a big bowl of water can last several days.

Some reptiles are more difficult than others, please do you research, some of my vivariums are over two hundred cm by ninety cm. Not everyone can afford the space for these sizes of vivarium, and if your keeping lizards or some large pythons you will need to dedicate a large room.

The key to keeping them is to do your research. You need to give them the room they need. You need to know the temperature they need to be kept at and whether you need to change that temperature during the day and night and by season.

Often you need to provide a high ambient temperature, a hot spot and a cold area.

Next humidity. This can be a challenge, pick your vivarium carefully, glass, plastic and wood are your options. You also need to consider your substrate. Does it need to increase humidity or decrease it. Will it cause issue with feeding, does your reptile like to borrow?

Lighting, some want heat but not light, others need a UVB source, but also want to be able to hide from the light sometimes.

Bertie the Boa, less then one year old

Lastly making the reptile feel safe; hides in the cold area and hot area is a minimum. Too much glass can make your pet feel exposed, does it need a dark area to hide in.

As I said, research is key. Choose the right pet and know your subject to give them a good life, and you can give each other years of pleasure.

Having a mini project – Lamp Posts

Leica M10, 50mm Sumilux-M

While I shoot professionally, mainly corporate and events plus model portfolios and the odd wedding I also try to have a walk around Lincoln at least a couple of times a week.

Its a very photogenic little city.

I often have a number of projects on the go, my main ones are drinks and doors at the moment, plus people on the on the phone, but I also have a lamp post and signs project. Simple little projects like this give you a focus when you are lacking in direction.

Its an easy thing to do and can lead to some interesting future ideas and keeps your interest when you need some inspiration.