Winter becomes Spring
I was surprised to see it’s been quite awhile since I last wrote anything on here, tempus fugit! Winter has slipped by and we’re well into spring now, with the tree’s starting to green up and all the usual spring flowers in abundance in this verdant valley I call home. We had quite a decent winter in Yorkshire, with some good snow falls. A marked improvement on last year’s mild, but damp and grey affair – at least as far as photography is concerned!
The heaviest snowfall deposited around a foot of the white stuff on the hillsides around Calderdale. Probably a little more up on the tops. Pictured above is the hamlet of Old Chamber, a stones throw east of market town Hebden Bridge. It was a hell of a slog up the steep cobbled road to reach it, with on and off snow showers to contend with. Still it was great to finally reach the top and meander along the high road, before descending down through Crow Nest Wood into town for a much needed hot drink!
I’ve visited this old ruined cottage above Mytholmroyd on several occasions since 2012. Not much has changed in the last three years, save one or two more bricks going missing above the doorway. It looked lovely nestled in the undulating snow drifts with the valley behind largely obscured by fog. Such a shame it’s been left to fall down.
In February I made the decision to part ways with my Fuji 60mm prime. Like many owners of this lens, I’ve had something of a love hate relationship with it. It’s a focal length I grew to really enjoy, and optically the lens was stellar with lovely bokeh, great sharpness and a good size to weight ratio. Of course the major downside was, that despite several firmware updates, it was a slow lens to focus. Coupled with my ageing X-E1, and I was starting to find I was missing too many shots to AF errors and decided it was finally time to part ways. What could replace it – the 56mm f1.2? Well maybe one day, but for now I’ve decided to rearm myself with a long telephoto zoom.
Last year I briefly owned the cheap and cheerful XC 50-230mm zoom, after getting a good deal on one at the Photography Show in Birmingham. However I found after awhile that the slow maximum aperture, and to an extent the image rendering, weren’t really what I was looking for. So this time I’ve gone a step further and have opted for the Fuji XF 55-200mm. It’s bigger, heavier and has a slightly more limited zoom range. However it’s significantly faster at the long end (f4.8 vs f6.7), has more pleasing micro-contrast and colour rendering to my eye. Overall I’m pleased with the results it produces, it’s easily as sharp at 55mm as the 60mm prime and is very good through the range, only really getting a little weak at the far end (as is often the case with zooms). How much of that is actually the optic’s fault and how much my X-E1’s weak AF system, I’m not entirely sure yet as it seems a little variable.
Admittedly the 55-200mm is not really that well matched to an X-E body – I really notice the extra weight when it’s hanging from the camera around my neck. I’m hoping I’ll be able to upgrade to an X-T1 (or whatever replaces that), within the next year though. So it’s a forward looking purchase in that regard. I’ll post a full review when I’ve had some more time to put it through its paces.
February also saw a trip to iconic local landmark Stoodley Pike, with my good friend Penny. We approached from the Mankinhole’s side, which I’d not tried previously. This afforded me some new views, including this boulder strewn one which I rather like.
Onward’s to March now and a visit to Salt’s Mill in Saltaire, near Bradford. Salt’s Mill is an incredible sprawling Victorian textile mill, surrounded by a village of terraced houses that once provided homes for the mill’s many workers. It’s a lovely place and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The mill itself is no longer working, but remains in use as a gallery and shopping space. It has a strong connection with Bradford-born David Hockney, whose work can be found brightening the galleries.
Finally here’s one more shot from Mytholmroyd, this time of an old Victorian terrace that runs between the Rochdale Canal down towards the River Calder. I like the compressed perspective here and the neat angles. The gentle hump of the bridge hides the busy main road at the end of the terrace.