The Great Camera Challenge 2013
January - Marcus Conway www.ebirder.net
© Marcus Conway
A Great Experience.
It was a real treat to
be invited to take part in the Great Camera Challenge. When the camera arrived
I eagerly tore off the packaging and tried to get to grips with the camera
I would be using for the next 30 days. It was the first time I had been
asked to take part in an exciting project like this. I read down the list
of photographers taking part who I admire, and I was amazed and honoured
to be included. I was keen to get going and do the best I could. In hindsight
perhaps a little too eager...
The first two weeks in
January were dull (painfully so in the Highlands on those short days), wet
and surprisingly mild, so the camera got relatively little use. Fortunately
by mid January we had snow, ice and some bluer skies and I was pleased to
finally give the camera a good workout. On the first day disaster struck;
the camera wouldn't come on! I assumed the batteries were drained so went
home to charge them and added another pair to the camera bag.
The next time out, I was
in the Cairngorm photographing an extremely confiding Ptarmigan in -14 degrees
conditions. "I know," I thought to myself, "time for the
compact." To my horror the same thing happened so I put the charged
spare pair in and to my annoyance and surprise - still no functionality.
I couldn't work it out.
I decided maybe I should
look at the specifications of the camera. That was when I found out the
minimum operating temperature was 0 degrees! So I learned two things instantly;
1. Always know the limits
of your equipment
2. Don't skip on opportunities waiting for perfect conditions
The project has been great
for me. It certainly has changed the way I think about my surroundings and
inspired me to get a compact camera and focus on the bigger picture.
Stepping back and absorbing
the whole situation has given me a new and rewarding perspective. I really
hope to take part again in the future, maybe when it's a little warmer!
February - Neil McIntyre www.neilmcintyre.com
© Neil McIntyre
Before I received the camera
I had already decided what subjects I would like to try with it. Sadly I
never got an opportunity with one, but I did with the red squirrels. I have
to say I am very used to my own Canon equipment and using it is second nature
so it was interesting, to say the least, using this one. I've had odd encounters
with similar compacts before, but never before used one for wildlife photography.
So how did it all go?
Honestly, I would say it
certainly is a challenge for capturing wildlife. Firstly, you need to get
very close to your chosen subject, which in this country is largely difficult,
thus one of the reasons for using large telephoto lenses. Secondly, with
wildlife speed in taking the picture is crucial in a lot of cases, so you
have to be quick. With the compact focusing was slow - certainly compared
to what I am used to.
However, I am lucky to
have my resident squirrels which are so accustomed to me so getting close
was not a real problem and getting them to pose for enough time was really
also down to their forgiving nature.
Given that, when you get
in a position to take the pictures, there is no getting away from the fact
that these tiny cameras take a remarkably good picture.
March - Allan Pollok-Morris www.allanpollokmorris.com
© Allan Pollok-Morris
Allan Pollok-Morris was so
inspired by the idea of The Great Camera Challenge that he bought his own
Nikon Coolpix and used it for the month. We hope he'll continue to experiment
with it in the future.
I have been looking
forward to the Great Camera Challenge. It was packed in to a short time
at the end of March, in the depths of winter as it turned out with unprecedented
snow and hurricane force winds, but it was a lovely time. I imagined myself
going back to basics with a low budget camera and taking more of a snapshot
approach catching photographic opportunities as we encountered them on a
family Easter holiday in the Highlands. The experience lived up to my expectations.
Inevitably I couldn't help wanting to improve on the photographs I was taking
with the low budget camera and test out a couple of ideas so I sneaked away
for a day to photograph up on Rannoch Moor and Loch Ossien where I tested
the beginnings of some work with the various stages of forestry plantation.
I'm fascinated by how people reveal themselves indirectly in what they plant
or make in the landscape, 'human nature', and Scotland is a stunning place
to travel this subject. I just wish I'd had more time to visit some of the
wilder places in the inner city.
I fear my photographs are
technically deficient, but I found a few ways to persuade this little camera
to give me some manual control to get as much information in the originals
as possible before working with them in Capture One software in the same
way one would when bringing the results of travels back to the dark room
and was really pleased with the results. I'm very much looking forward to
seeing the wider group of photographs unfold over the year, the way every
photographer works with different subjects and their individual eye, it
will be lovely to see the variety together in the one place. Thanks to the
Scottish Nature Photography Awards for the idea and invite. Scotland really
lends itself to this kind of subject as the variety and the depth of history
of people in the landscape is so rich here.
April - Peter Cairns www.northshots.com
© Peter Cairns
I can't comment on my own photographic
ability but there is certainly nothing wrong with the Nikon's! Yes it's
small and if truth be told, fiddly at times but it's also remarkably efficient.
And simple (it has to be for a technophobe like me to use).
Stood on a remote beach on the Island of Eigg with a howling gale and piercing
rain for company, I was less than inclined to expose this small and seemingly
inadequate waif of a camera to the elements but time was running out. Weeks
in the office had reduced me to just a few days of photography and this
was it; I was drinking at the last chance saloon.
As the weather relaxed
and the sandy bay revealed its textural patterns, I set to work. I switched
the little black box to 'on', lined up the generous rear screen on what
looked like a half-decent composition and clicked! It couldn't be that easy
could it? I adjusted a few controls here and there and clicked again. And
then again. In the end, I was clicking away for an hour or more. OK so I
didn't have the pleasure of micro-adjusting my tripod, sliding myriad filters
in and out, changing multiple lenses and looking oh-so-professional. How
damned liberating that was! This is a good camera which produces good pictures.
May - Niall Irvine www.perspectivesnet.com
© Niall Irvine
Firstly, I started with a read
through the user manual to get an idea of what the camera settings were.
Then out with the camera!
I packed it with me on a trip down to Dumfries and Galloway. The weather
was broken cloud and very high winds. Standing on a beach being rocked about
by the wind, I missed the heavy weight of my usual digital SLR camera. The
"Landscape" setting was giving me a 1/60th sec or 1/30th sec and
the camera was trying too hard to give me everything in focus. By switching
to "Sport" mode the settings went up to 1/500th sec. I could then
focus on the points of interest and not worry so much about the high wind.
Over the month I've taken the camera with me to various locations and have
loved the ability to just grab it and go. It was great to only have one
compact camera in your hand, without all the extra equipment that usually
Sometimes it felt too easy
to see an image, get into position, switch on the camera, select the mode
and click. However, this also allows you to spend more time looking at the
subject or landscape and understanding it, and you never know, you might
even get a great picture of it!
Would a camera like this
make its way into my camera bag? Of course!! Spending time with the compact
reminds me of what photography is all about. Just getting out and enjoying
June - Ron McCombe www.wildlife-photography.uk.com
© Ron McCombe
I was looking forward to the
challenge from the day I was asked; to get wildlife images with this tiny
compact camera was certainly a challenge. I am more familiar with my own
equipment for wildlife photography, which usually involves a 500mm lens
and fourteen frames per second. When this tiny little camera came it was
a bit of a shock to my system.
I started to explore the
setting and was a little bumfuzled, so I did the thing my wife is always
telling me to do when I get a new gadget, Read the instructions.
Suddenly things became clearer and I worked out how to get a decent exposure
from the camera. Eventually I mastered it and was ready for action; it even
had an exposure compensation setting.
The questions I was starting
to ask myself were - what I am going to shoot and where am I going to shoot
The where sorted
itself out quite quickly, I was working on the Isle of Mull for a week so
I decided that this would be a great venue. The what needed
to be something that wasnt going to move too fast and something I
could get reasonably close to.
The puffins on Lunga seem
to fit the bill perfectly. Lunga is one of the Treshnish Isles just off
the west coast of Mull and boat trips run out there daily. The island is
known for its puffin population.
When I got onto Lunga the
bluebells were still in full bloom. They were late this year because of
the extended winter period so this made a great backdrop for the puffins.
The top of the cliff was littered with these little sea birds coming and
going. I had a great time with them and I am quite pleased with the results.
The camera is not perfect for wildlife photography, but it does take a reasonable