london

Just a little Taste.

It must be the time of year. Summer months always mean festivals, and these events tend to go hand in hand with food and drink.

So for the second time in two weeks, the kit-bag got packed for a foodie festival, this time capturing images for Chang Beer at Taste of London in Regent's Park.

The brief was thankfully simple - on stand shots of people enjoying the great taste of Chang (apols Duffman), lots of shots around the park of festival goers getting a little tipsy but also making sure I captured some of the meat-tastic bbq action at the aptly named 'Fire Pit' where much beef was burnt (Top tip - never season a steak with pepper before cooking - only use salt otherwise you burn it!)

Apart from the awful light on the day - our English summer sun had yet to materialise - it was great fun and I came away with a keg-sized amount of shots for Chang and a stomach full of world-class food to my name. I also smelt like a barbeque.

Anyway, here's my selection of the shots from the day. Hats off to Daisy, Malvina and Serena at The Smalls and thanks to Kenny at Chang.

Tech Corner:

All the usuals - Zeiss Batis 25mm for a couple of wide shots, a few bits of Zeiss 35mm and then that Batis 85mm for the rest.

Ale in a day's work.

It's not often you get to combine two excellent things in one place, but luckily on Thursday evening, I managed to get photography and beer together in a giant boozy snappathon.

Now in its fourth year, the Beer and Cider Marketing Awards celebrates the best marketers and campaigns in the industry and is held in the ever hipstery Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane.

The great and the good from the world of British cheeky beers both large and small were there, and they were treated to several million kegs of craft ales and ciders, plus some proper delicious street food.

My simple brief for the evening was to capture a) the winners in usual awards grip and grin stylee and b) people enjoying themselves, which is remarkably simple once the beer started flowing.

Whilst I was pretty busy snapping away, it was clear the dedication and passion for the products that people were representing - these guys really love their beer (and cider). Among the many winners were Thatchers, Beavertown, Big Drop Brewing Co and the overall winners: St Austell.

I should mention the product packaging while i’m here - some of it is top class nowadays - you could say the industry has really raised the bar on that one (sorry)

One thing in would also note is the venue itself - The Old Truman Brewery is really fun for a photographer - lots of urban decay, interesting light and two different levels so you can lean over and get shots from above.

So ceremony done, weighty silver pint glass awards lifted and DJ's in full spin, I ducked out before it got too out of control, only to realise - ironies of ironies - that I'd not touched a drop all evening and was as sober as the proverbial.

Which reminds me - mine's a pint if anyone's asking...


Tech Corner:
No manual for this shindig - it was all quick-fire AF. That meant lashings of Zeiss Loxia 85 for the candids, some 25mm for the wide ceremony shots and the 35mm f1.4 for wandering around and product shots.

Life begins at 40 - The Voigtlander 40mm f1.2 mid term test.

As anyone who's been reading this blog (all two of you..) on a semi-casual basis will know, I've been slowly slipping my toes into the world of manual focus lenses.

Firstly, it was a fun Olympus 50mm f1.8 with a converter, then I roadtested a lovely 35/50mm combo from Zeiss which were really nice too, but to be blunt I still needed something 'extra' - a lens to fit into my already pretty cracking Sony and Zeiss Batis AF line up that nothing else would.

Well, it finally arrived in the form of the Voigtlander 40mm f1.2. I'd been eyeing this one for a while being interested in both the in-between focal length - a bit less wide than the 35mm standard and nudging towards the supposed 50mm sweet spot - plus the really wide aperture which can see in the dark like a rabbit on turbo carrots.

What really pushed me over the edge was the excellent review by Chad Wadsworth which basically made me do the photography equivalent of the Fry 'Take my money!' meme.

So, late May - after a back order wait - it arrived. Initial signs weren't great as Voigtländer have some work to do with the rather cheapo packaging, but once inside I knew I had something with a bit of class. Unlike a lot of the usual suspects nowadays, the 40mm is weighty without being heavy and has no truck with your cheapo plastics - this is one piece of quality metal.

The Voigtlander 40mm f1.2

The Voigtlander 40mm f1.2

Now usually I'd get a lens on the Sony, get snapping and pop an early review up touts suite, but something about the 40mm told me to wait and get to know it. Glad I did, because in the couple of months since it's arrival i've been learning how to use it properly - e.g learn my distances, find the sweetspots, forget about the focusing and the get 'in the moment'

Because this isn't just your usual lens. As pointed out elsewhere, whilst the headline is the light gobbling f1.2 aperture, I haven't really used that setting too much apart from when light was low or at night - i've been mostly living between 1.4 and 3.4. To comment on the f1.2 in normal light - well, you get that dreamy look everyone goes mad for but you have to be bang on with your focusing at that aperture in normal conditions.

But no, the real star here is the 'analogue' nature of the output. An example of this was when switching between this lens and my Sony 55mm f1.8. Now, the Sony's a great lens no doubt, but it's super sharp - like sushi chef sharp - and while that's awesome, it's a very 'digital' look and the Voigtländer wins for creamy, old school vibes as a counter point - which means I can get two different looks at different focal lengths.

Analogue vibes.

Analogue vibes.

Now, when I say 'review' at the top of this post, what i'm really meaning is 'what real photos look like in the real world' - there's load of reviewers out there who do clever things and check for levels of chromatic aberration etc but my angle and acid test is very much - 'is this a great lens for everyday use and does it take a photograph that I love that I couldn't take with another lens?'

And the answer is simply, yes. Because after a bedding in period where i've run the 40mm through heatwave sunshine in the Loire to a chilly night on Exmouth beach front i'm now getting images back that look amazing, anologue and most importantly - real.

I'm not going to use it for sports, or when I need a long lens at a gig or an event, but for getting proper almost cinematic quality output it's the closest to the 'Leica look' that i'll ever be able to afford - it's probably best for your lifestyle and travel photography types although at a push it might do the business at a wedding gig.

I've also grown to love the 40mm length very quickly, and i'm now of the mind that this is the nearest you get to what your eye 'sees' over and above the much touted 50mm and somehow it just gets it 'right' - and when you do a bit of research you find that in film world Tarantino, Wes Anderson and Francis Ford Coppola would probably agree.

Issues? Not many. Throw is a little long and i get oddly annoyed at the lens cap not pinging into place easily, but these are minor quibbles.

A lens you can give a fig about.

A lens you can give a fig about.

So, it's with a mixture of happiness and relief that i give the Voigtländer 40mm f1.2 a big old thumbs up. Below are a selection of shots taken over the last few months at home and away to give you an idea of the sort of real life images you'll get out of the camera. There's obviously been a certain amount of post production magic attached, but to be honest the more i've got to use the lens the less post work i've done on the images coming out of it - much less than other lenses.

The only thing left to say about the Voigtländer is that when picking my lenses for a session out and about now it's the first in my camera bag, and to extend that pun for no other purposes than finding a title, it really does mean that life begins at 40.

 

Berkshire and beyond.

Various shots taken around Cookham, Wargrave and some more from Dorney Court, Ham House and Greys Court.

The Loire.

Shots taken in the Loire including Chambord, Blois and Clos Luce.

London.

Shots taken in Paddington, Kensington and Soho.

Devon.

Shots taken Sidmouth, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton and A La Ronde National Trust.

 


Final note - I paid for the Voitglander out of my own hard earned and i'm not affliated in any way.