Weald and Downland Museum with the Canon G5X
I’ve recently completed a three-part review on my latest acquisition – the Canon G5X compact camera. Up until recently I’ve carried out my personal work with a small Micro 4/3 camera and an equally small kit lens. But sometimes I want to travel extra light, with just a few essentials. Occasionally my handbag of choice won’t accommodate a system camera, and hence a true compact camera becomes more useful. But as I explained in my review, compact cameras usually have some caveats and it’s important we acknowledge that. It’s also vital that we base our choice on the features we need and, more importantly, comfortable handling.
I have a number of photography students who are keen amateurs and who would like to improve their travel photography. This is unsurprising, since many of us enjoy taking pictures on outings and this can be more enjoyable if we’re in control of both the technical and creative side of photography. More often than not, it’s the latter which can prove the hardest to grasp. Technicalities can be taught, or learned from books. But composition is something which requires a great deal of practice. Much of the time we know when our competitions aren’t working, but we can’t always determine why. Professional guidance can really fast track this, but unless we get out and about to actually take pictures, progress is likely to be slow.
With that in mind I took one of my long-standing students to a very special place, the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton, near Chichester in West Sussex. This really is an amazing museum – you’ll see rare and historic buildings which have been rescued from around the county and transported to the museum where they nestle within an idyllic downland environment. You’ll see buildings which are hundreds of years old through to Victorian structures, farm buildings as well. Each building is furnished exactly as it would have been when it was built. This provides a fascinating insight into times gone by, and how lucky we are to have so many modern conveniences. It’s also an immensely relaxing place to visit, you’ll be walking within the landscape gazing across the South Downs whilst watching the buzzards flying overhead. You can also take your dog. Escapism at its best. And like everyone else, you’ll probably have a camera with you. Outings like this are perfect for practising composition in a controlled way.
For me, it was an opportunity to put my new Canon G5X through its paces, since this is the kind of purpose for which compact cameras are intended. I didn’t even have to carry my handbag or camera bag – it sat comfortably in a pocket. One thing which was immediately evident to me when I started processing the RAW files is the colour – the colours really are glorious. The images are sharp and punchy, and free from blocked up shadows and blown highlights. Some of the interiors of the buildings are quite dark, but I didn’t have to go above ISO 1600 (unlike my student who was using a variable aperture kit lens).
Trips like this are about relaxation and comfort – you don’t want to be carrying a bulky camera if you can avoid it. As we wandered around we covered just over 3 miles and we were on our feet for several hours, so the outing doubled as a convenient form of exercise. If you’re in this area I would really encourage you to visit the museum, by paying your entrance fee or by joining up you’re helping to sustain the invaluable conservation work undertaken here.