Friday, April 26, 2013

Reflecting on cameras and capital cities

click photo to enlarge
A recent couple of days in London coincided with the two warmest days of the year so far and I returned to a cooler, windier, wetter Lincolnshire with a face turned ruddy by the sun. I'd gone to our capital city for a small family gathering. However, the visit also became an experiment with my recently acquired compact camera and I made it an opportunity to photograph some of the city's most recent buildings as well as those that have been around for a few years.

The best way to get to know a camera such as my Sony RX100 is to use it. So, I made it my sole camera for the trip and turned its one inch sensor and 28-100mm (35mm equiv.) lens to the sort of uses that I would usually apply my Canon 5D Mk2 and its 24-105mm, 17-40mm and Tamron 70-300mm lenses. What do I conclude? The Sony does a remarkable job. The screen coped in all but the brightest conditions and I could usually compose quite satisfactorily. Having 20.2 megapixels allows for  quite a bit of cropping without the file size becoming too small, consequently the effective focal length can be easily doubled. Unfortunately its not as easy to widen beyond 28mm. I like 24mm as my standard wide focal length, but all cameras are compromises of one sort or another and this is one I'll live with. I shot JPG only rather than RAW or RAW + JPG. It's less flexible, but less work too, and I found that satisfactory. The colours are good, quite "film-like". The biggest drawback was that a couple of times I inadvertently pressed the movie record button. It's all well and good making movie recording easy, but it's a touch too easy with this camera.

On our second day I walked ten miles round the city in search of shots. I was particularly keen to see how the 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper (nicknamed "The Walkie Talkie") is coming on, and whether its appearance is improving as it starts to approach completion. The answer to that last question is a resounding "No". It seems to me that this building is the wrong shape and the wrong size for its location which is too detached from the main group of tall City towers and too close to the river. Moreover it intrudes far too much on the view of Tower Bridge from the south.

The other thought I had as I followed the course of the River Thames through the city is that London continues to hog far too much of the nation's spending on infrastructure. I got a real sense that the effects of the depression that are felt right across the rest of the country are barely impinging on the metropolis and that this can only lead to further regional and social divisions that will have bad consequences.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18.2mm (49mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On