Southsea Photo Walk Portsmouth Seafront
Yesterday saw our second photo walk of the season and what a fabulous day we had for it. I’ve long been a fan of the South Coast, and Southsea offers something a little different to my usual haunts.
Southsea has the usual bright and gaudy attractions so characteristic of English seaside towns, but with an urban-industrial vibe which makes it unique. The beach itself is shingle and is relatively narrow – if you’re unlucky one of the large ferries setting out into the English Channel may get a little too close and zap you with its wash. All part of the fun of this particular beach and it’s true to say that Southsea may be a little less peaceful than the more genteel seaside localities like Eastbourne. But in common with other seaside towns, you’ll get plenty of clean air in your lungs, a vitamin D top up, and lots of exercise. When I got back to the car yesterday I’d walked 5 1/2 miles without even being aware of it. If you have any energy left over, it’s a relatively short walk to the designer shopping outlets at Gunwharf Quay – and its bars and eateries. On this particular outing we sat on the sea wall with the locals and enjoyed fish and chips with a mug of tea.
Yesterday also provided me with an opportunity to test a recent acquisition. I replace my personal use cameras from time to time and I’ve recently bought a Sony a6300. This is an APS-C powerhouse, but sadly the Sony APS-C e-mount lens ecosystem is uninspiring. Some commentators might scoff at that and point out the wide range of Sony full frame lenses which can be used, or many other lens brands with an adapter. That’s fine, if you don’t mind sticking a honking great lens on the front of a very small body. Or if you don’t mind manual focus (even the better adapters which support autofocus aren’t as reliable as you might think). I was using the basic but convenient kit lens, the 16-50 PZ. This lens is handy by virtue of its very small size and weight, but as you would expect there are some optical compromises. At 16 mm at least 20% of the outer edges of the frame are very soft (the centre is quite sharp). That doesn’t improve with stopping down. However from 25 to 35 mm things improved greatly and the centre becomes very sharp, and the outer edges acceptably sharp. At 50 mm the lens is a little soft throughout the frame. Alternatives include the Zeiss 16-70 f4 lens which has a reputation for poor quality control (and it isn’t cheap) or the larger Sony 18-105 which gets pretty good reviews. I’ve just ordered the latter lens and will report on it when I’ve had a chance to do some testing.
It isn’t possible to accurately assess the capability of any camera or it sensor when using anything other than good optics. However the IQ of the a6300 (and its recently released update, the a6500) is excellent, offering close to a stop of ISO benefit over cameras with a 4/3 sensor. That said, the Micro 4/3 system is still in my opinion the most well rounded mirrorless option on the market, and remains my chosen system for professional work. The Sony a6300 is excellent for portraits with the Sony 50mm f1.8 lens and the Sigma 30mm f1.4. This means that the a6300 can do double duty as my new ‘handbag camera’ as well as a competent professional work tool if necessary. The Sony images are a little flat and clinical straight out of the camera, but if you shoot RAW you won’t have any problems developing them to suit your taste. I find they need a little more colour and contrast than my other cameras, but that is also lens dependent to an extent. With appropriate quality optics you’ll start to see the excellent detail recorded by Sony’s 24MP APS-C sensors. One drawback is the maximum shutter speed of 1/4000, however a true native ISO 100 helps to offset that and is pretty useful at times.
We hold photo walks in Sussex at various times of the year for prearranged groups – perhaps from a camera club or local business. These combine guidance in relaxed conditions and are perfect for those who prefer to learn in an informal outdoor environment.
Lastly, street photography is something of a national pastime, so try not to feel self-conscious taking photographs when you’re out and about. Half the people you pass at any tourist destination will be doing exactly the same thing. They’ll be happily sharing their pictures on Facebook and personal blogs, and so they should. There are no laws in the UK preventing us from photographing people or property when in a public place, and we’re free to publish those photographs broadly as we wish. There are no separate laws for minors. We’re also free to sell those images to stock agencies, but if they contain prominently recognisable individuals then permission should be sought (that does not apply to crowd/group scenes). The same applies if you intend to use such images to advertise or promote something (a personal/artistic portfolio is exempt from that). If you’re interested in photography and the law there’s plenty of information here on the blog (search bar on the top menu). Laws can vary by jurisdiction and other countries may have different rules.