Friday, 19 September 2008

Medieval Festival, Cressing Temple, Essex

One of the groups I belong to is Brian Mosley's Olympus UK Photo Safari Group (see ). Brian is an enthusiast who came up with the idea of staging get-togethers of people shooting with Olympus cameras to share experiences and knowledge. The group has been going from strength to strength, with activities being organised by members over a wide area. Brian has succeeded in getting Olympus interested in the Group, and we hope it may be possible to generate opportunities to contribute to the development of their products in future with real-world knowledge and experience.

Last weekend an Essex member organised a day at a medieval festival at Cressing Temple in Essex (a group of medieval barns and buildings once owned by the Knights Templar). The provided another splendid opportunity to meet and shoot with fellow Olympus users! Many thanks to Simon Angier for organising the day. I’d been to a similar event a few years ago, and knew roughly what to expect, but that was pre-DSLR and using an E510 (and briefly, an E3) was a different proposition to the OM4 I used last time.

Perhaps the most important difference is the ability to check for exposure immediately. Shooting this kind of event – with weather conditions ranging from heavy overcast to brilliant sunshine – was a real challenge in the days of film. Now, it’s possible to see immediately whether highlights on armour or white veils have blown out, and to change settings accordingly. I find the menu-driven system of the E cameras makes these changes simple and straightforward. Even Brian’s Mosley's E3 – which he kindly lent me along with the amazing ZD 35-100 f2 – proved quite simple to adjust.

The 35-100 (which currently goes for about £1500) is certainly a formidable lens, attracting envious looks from numerous users of lesser tools. It’s sharpness at f2 is excellent, as you would expect. Probably too big and heavy for me as a real use item, but I was glad to have the opportunity to try it, and grateful to Brian for giving me first dibs on it!

Handing the behemoth back to Brian, I found I used my ZD 50-200mm (old version) almost exclusively during the rest of the day. The extra reach (compared to the 35-100) was valuable to get reasonably close-up pictures of the participants, and the reasonably fast maximum aperture meant that decent shutter speeds were perfectly possible.

I made use of the “Continuous” shooting mode, shooting in Aperture Priority to try and capture the action of the mock combats, and to zoom in on participants as they moved around the arena. Shooting the archers in a “rapid fire” demonstration was particularly interesting. One shot shows the arrow loosed, but still in the process of leaving the bow – just a pity about the bloke in the coloured shirt in the background!

All in all, an excellent day’s shooting, with a large number of acceptable shots. Far more than I could have hoped to get with a film camera!

Higher res versions of these images (and additional samples) are on my Flickr site: Apart from the first shot (which was the E3 and ZD 35-100 @ f2), all are E510 and ZD 50-200mm.

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