England Trip 2011: Round One

So it’s been a bit over a week since my cross the pond trip to the UK and I’ve finally gotten through the first batch of photos from the trip. People have been asking photos since I got back, but I swear, it’s not laziness, there’s a method to the madness. I usually like to put aside big batches of images like this for about a week after taking them, time permitting. I find that when I try to pair down to just the best images very soon after taking them it can be hard to be objective. By letting them sit for a while and forgetting about them I tend to be much more objective when it comes to picking out the keepers. I’ll probably end up doing the trip in three batches: UK Round One, Iceland and UK Round Two. Breaking it up into smaller batches also makes going through a couple thousand images much less daunting.

Besides being an amazingly fun vacation, this trip to England really opened my eyes photographically. I didn’t want to bring my full DSLR kit with me, I knew I’d be doing a lot of walking and my Canon rig would destroy my back by the end of the trip. I also didn’t want to rely completely on my film Leica kit. What if they wouldn’t hand check my film at the airport and it got X-Ray haze? What if it gets confiscated for some reason? What if I run out of film? What if I don’t bring the right film? I’m probably going to want to take a million shots, do I want to soup 20-30 rolls of film when I get home? I really wanted a digital alternative to compliment my Leica RF kit for the trip. I ended up picking up one of the Sony NEX 3 micro 4/3rds bodies a couple weeks before the trip with a Leica mount adapter so I could use my rangefinder lenses on it. My plan was: Leica M2 loaded with ISO 100 for during the day, Voigtlander R3A loaded with 400 for at night and I could use the NEX for snapshots and what ever focal length I wasn’t using on the film body. By day three I was using the NEX exclusively, it really turned out to be that amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to jump ship on film, I love the stuff… but for running around a big city for 8-10 hours a day even a two body RF kit gets heavy after a while. I also found whichever camera wasn’t around my neck and therefor hanging off one shoulder kept getting bumped and jostled around, especially in the subway. I really wasn’t prepared for how busy London is.

As it turned out, the NEX paired with either my Voigtlander 15mm or 25mm (giving me 24mm and 40mm field of views respectively on the NEX’s 1.6 crop factor sensor) was about all I needed for most of the trip. The NEX’s flip up screen also let me shoot from the hip very effectively. One of the biggest complaints I read about the NEX before buying it was how it was fiddly to focus manual focus lenses on the LCD screen. Well, when set to hyperfocal distance on the 15mm and 25mm, everything from about 3 feet to infinity is already in focus… problem solved! All I needed the LCD for was rough framing, no fiddly focus issues. I’ll be doing a more in depth review of the Sony NEX at some point in the future, but for now, all I can say is that it was probably my most useful photographic purchase in a long time.

I have a ton more to talk about regarding the England trip, but I’ll leave at this for now. Stay tuned for pics from the Iceland and Brighton side trips, a review of my new travel bag from Grafea and more. You can see the rest of the first batch of my UK vacation pics on my Flickr.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iainhc Iain Cummings

    London is an exciting place. Camden market is an awesome place for street photography, lively and bustling! I hope you got to experience the place? 🙂

  • http://jbhildebrand.com Jesse Hildebrand

    Oh definitely! Loved the place! If you follow the linked pics above to my England set you’ll see some of my pics from the market.