Stirling Castle, handheld challenges & a couple of clowns.

Stirling Castle is one of the largest and historically most important castles in Scottish history. Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was also one of the most used of the many Scottish royal residences, very much a palace as well as a fortress. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and others were born or died there.

Edinburgh Castle may be the one people think to visit first but Stirling probably offers more to do. We arrived at 1pm and before we know it five hours had passed and it was time to go home.

I shot three rolls of Ilford RB67 through the Mamiya RB67 and once again it justified its weight and inconvenience. I continue to be more and more impressed with this camera.

The royal apartments are beautifully restored but shooting HP5 at box speed of ISO 400 I was worried about light levels. These were shot wide open at f/5.6 and at 1/15 so I was worried about blurry, shaky images but the excellent mirror dampening, combined with a leaf shutter and heavy camera make for surprisingly easy handheld performance.

And of course it wouldn’t be a family day out without these two posers getting in on the act.

A couple of shots from the cemetery and gardens next to the castle.

Lockdown Diaries #1

Well, it’s been a while. How is everyone? Apart from the world ending and all that stuff.

I read a lot of photographers grumbling online about their limited shooting options whilst being stuck indoors. I have found this to be a problem yet.

If you’re a regular reader (one of the four) you’ll know I get a lot of pleasure shooting the little details around the home.

These were all shot a few days ago using HP5+ pushed 2 stops in Xtol. The lens used was my Super Takumar 55mm f/2

Slowing Down and Going Manual (Focus, that is)

First post of 2019 – should be a banger, right? Nah, just another little ramble.

Anyone who follows my social media will know that as well as candid street photography I also enjoy candidly shooting my family. Most family shots are done at home and although we have a south facing home this time of year means a shortage of natural light. Recently I made the switch from Canon to Fujifilm and got the XF23MM f2 as my main street photography lens. Whilst fast enough for shooting at home I found the focal length a little too wide. I have captured some shots I love with it but it’s just too wide to be truly candid. When light was plentiful I used the 18-55mm set to around 35mm but the aperture of 3.5 became a problem in the evenings so I was keen to get something a little longer and a little faster.

Enter this little guy:

The Neewer (also sold as Meike) 35mm f1.7 manual lens. Christmas and a generous family meant I had a little extra pocket money and this lens is an absolute steal for £60 on Amazon.

I won’t lie, I was a little wary of going manual focus so I made sure I the seller had a returns policy then placed my order and WOW! I love this lens.

Combined with focus peaking on the Fujifilm X-T2 I find I shoot just as fast, sometimes faster, than I do with auto focus lenses. Ever tried focus tracking a sugared up five year old? Focus, recompose, #&@% I lost focus, focus again, recompose oh sh……

Sure I could use face detect and sometimes do but low light makes this less reliable and the time taken to activate it may mean missing the shot. I could set one of the excellent AF-C modes but again that is time ‘ out of the moment’. And again we get back to focus, recompose, miss the shot.

Now I pick up the camera, know I’m on manual focus and I focus whilst composing and I get the shot.


I needn’t pixel peep to see this lens isn’t as sharp as my Fuji glass but there is more to life than sharpness. Remember Cartier-Bressons puddle jump? That thing isn’t even in focus but it hardly held him back.

I decided to take the Neewer 35mm f1.7 out on the street and the results surprised me. First I noticed me slowing down more. I definitely spen more time on composition. I also came home with maybe half the images I normally would but I came away with the same amount of keepers.

(When I saw this shot on the computer I realised I work with the guy on the escalator)

I recently spent some time considering the Fuji 50mm f2 but I started thinking what I could sell to fund the extra cost of the the 56mm f1.2 as I really enjoy the longer focal length for nighttime street shooting. Knowing now the quality of image I can get on budget glass I won’t think twice about buying more. If someone was paying me for these images it may be a different story but for an hobbyist this is good enough. I may even enjoy the flaws in this lens, something of it reminds me of older family photos that lack the digital perfection we can get nowadays.

If you have any experience, or recommendations, of inexpensive manual glass just drop me a comment below.

All images shot with the Fujifilm X-T2, Neewer 35mm f1.7

Camera settings

Fine jpeg

Classic Chrome

DR Auto

Grain WEAK

H 0

S +2

NR -3

SH +2

C +2 (though I often desaturate again in Lightroom but at least its there if I want it)