Doulton Fountain | Glasgow | & a Little ‘Gear’-Talk…

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Doulton Fountain at the People’s Palace – Glasgow Green (& a Late Night Ramble about GEAR)

The Doulton Fountain was gifted to the city by Sir Henry Doulton and first unveiled at the Empire Exhibition at Kelvingrove Park in 1888. The fountain was then moved to Glasgow Green in 1890. A “sculptural extravaganza”, the fountain was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887 and, celebrate Britain’s Imperial achievements and is crowded with figurative groups representing Australia, Canada, India and South Africa. The largest terracotta fountain in the world and the best surviving example of its kind, it has five tiers, is 46 feet high and 70 feet across the base. [Information from www.glasgow.gov.uk]

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Glasgow is a place that I am really just starting to get to know. It may sound crazy if you realised I have been living only an hour or so away from the place for almost fifteen years; but I’m a country boy, you see. Cities never really did for me and quieter rural surroundings have always been my preference – but it seems to me that the fair City of Glasgow is changing all of that, lately. Ask me to drive from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ – forget it. But leave me to wander around the place à pied with a couple of cameras and I am smitten with Glasgow. The more I look around the place, the more I see, the more I love it.

So too, as well as my psychological journey into this newly discovered comfort of much larger, busier and, bustling places, it seems that my photographic journey is also taking new turns into areas that, though I have dipped in to tentatively in the past, I am finding myself lately returning to again with much more fervour and enjoyment than ever before. For this, there may be several reasons which I may well endeavour to explore in the not too distant future. However, there are two main areas of enjoyment that I am currently indulging myself with. If you have read my most recent posts, it’ll be hard to escape the fact that I am back shooting IR after a spell away from the genre and, I’m also firing away with manual lenses on my X-Pro1 again, only now, with a lot more enjoyment and better success.

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[Images resized for web: please click to enlarge]

rlp.doulton.fountain.x100s.ir.720nm (1)Doulton Fountain | People’s Palace | Glasgow Green | Fujifilm X100s | 720nm IR | 1/400th | f5.6 | ISO:200 | Lr4.4 | Faux Colour

As far as my new-found excitement for infrared photography is concerned, I can still really only thank my good friend and all-round impossibly clever person, Amar Verma at vermatec. No, this isn’t a plug for his services (though do feel free to contact Amar if you have any infrared, multi or full spectrum queries, nonetheless!) rather a complete appreciation for the work he has done recently, in converting my beloved X100s, now the only IR camera I shoot with and, my goodness does it produce the results?! Rather than try to emulate some of the finest IR imagery I have seen to date, some of it absolutely exquisite, I have to say, I prefer to simply shoot my way and process the only way I know how, to achieve results that I myself find pleasing. This is true also of my more natural photographic style with more conventional equipment, but I love to have the ability to see and record the world around me at least a little differently. It’s where most if not all of my enjoyment stems from, and, I guess it’s quite natural to feel this way.

rlp.doulton.fountain.x100s.ir.720nm (2)Doulton Fountain with a Touch of Flare | People’s Palace | Glasgow Green | Fujifilm X100s | 720nm IR | 1/640th | f5.6 | ISO:200 | Lr4.4 | Faux Colour

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So to my other current pleasure: The X-Pro1 isn’t perfect for manual lens use – I’ll say that right off the bat. Peaking function is mediocre at best. I don’t use it – it’s awful. Give me ‘Standard’ and centre zoom for focus check and I’m fine with that. Anyhoo, from what I have read, the X-T1 (which I declared at launch would be a ‘flash in the pan’ with all excitement abating inside six months and having us all racing back to our X-P1s and, though I chuckle at it now, how wrong could I have been?) is far better in regards to it’s MF implementation (heck, even the GXR was miles better than the X-P1 for MF) – with care, there’s no reason not to use the X-P1 with manual glass if it’s the only body you have on which to mount them; and when you get it just right, the results are beautiful. With practice and a good eye, it’s not at all difficult to get it right.

As an aside, I have been using three M-mount lenses on my X-P1 lately: the Voigtlanders Super Wide Heliar 15mm 4.5 and the Nokton 40mm 1.4 and, the stupidly low cost Leitz Elmar-C 90mm f4. I can tell you now, that the Elmar is the only one I’ll be keeping of the three, for regular excursions. I’ll explain quickly.

rlp.doulton.fount.x.pro1.elmar.c.90f4. (1)Doulton Fountain | People’s Palace | Glasgow Green | Fujifilm X-Pro1-M | Leitz Elmar-C 90/4 | 1/680th | f6.3 | ISO:200 | Lr4.4

The two Voigtlanders are wonderful lenses – however, the 15mm is pretty poor in low light (it’s only a 4.5 lens) so though it’s great for zone focusing and street shooting in good light, it’s not everything I want it to be and I can’t afford to spend more on fast, wide glass. I can deal with it. The Nokton 40/1.4 – Wow! what can I say, another well-respected lens, however, I already have the XF 35mm 1.4 and that means, I don’t need to fiddle with manual glass when I have very similar, less fiddly AF glass of similar focal length and aperture. But – that Leitz 90/4. Now we’re talking! Fuji haven’t released a 90mm (135mm equiv) yet, though I understand it to be on their lens roadmap – and I’m sorry Fuji – I cannot wait any longer for you to release a 135 (equiv) prime. Yours may be f2.8 – even f2 – I don’t care. It’s a focal length I use a lot and this lens should have been available long before now. It’s an important part of a photographer’s staple-diet, in my opinion. So, while the excellent XF 18-55mm covers me from wide-ish to normal 85mm (equiv) and for everyday shooting- the 35/1.4 & 56/1.2 for assignments, the 90mm was really all that I needed to add to my bag. And results from this 40 year old lens are absolutely bl**dy gorgeous! Colour, contrast, sharpness, edge to edge clarity – I can’t think of a better medium tele for the stupidly low price it commands. Everyone who shoots M glass should absolutely have one of these.

rlp.doulton.fount.x.pro1.elmar.c.90f4. (2)Queen Vic Dominating the Doulton Fountain | People’s Palace | Glasgow Green | Fujifilm X-Pro1-M | Leitz Elmar-C 90/4 | 1/750th | f5.6 | ISO:200 | Lr4.4

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Soon, I’ll be writing some sort of review on my X100s IR conversion – but right now I am having too much fun with it, and it’s files – to have any time to review it. When I calm down a tadge, maybe then!

Flippin’ ‘eck, I really have rambled on. (Do you ever just feel like you have to get something “out there” – exorcise a demon or something? Well, I guess I just did that and if you get anything good from this at all, well then I’m totally chuffed).  Oh, and I hope you enjoy the images posted here at least half as much as I enjoyed making them.

Thanks for reading!

R.

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©2014 Rob Lowe Photography.

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