Photography Student

July 15, 2014

Another year!

Yes, another year and another tardy return to my blog. It’s not that I’m no longer taking photos, it’s just that a lot of them end up on Facebook and Twitter instead of this blog … my bad 😦

I visited the blog today because I had a notification that someone had requested a password reset and it wasn’t me! So I decided to check out the blog just in case there was a problem.

It’s rather like stepping into a Time Machine and being whisked back to May 1st 2007 when I started this blog at the beginning of the OU’s T189 digital photography course. It was the first presentation of the course and had about 1500 students which was an amazing take-up. I think it was probably one of the most popular short courses the OU ever offered and I know at least two people who took it themselves after talking to me. I believe that the last presentation of T189 was at the end of 2013 so the course is no longer available from the Open University.

I still have the Fuji Finepix F700 Zoom compact that I used for the course, although it had to visit the Fuji repair facility to have a replacement sensor fitted a year or so back. It’s still a useful little camera and occasionally appears on Ebay but it’s astonishing to think that it hit the shelves in early 2003 with a price tag of $599!!! So it’s eleven years old this year and I still enjoy using it.

It also seems that the T189 Unofficial Digital Photography Forum that I created on Yuku is still alive as well! I’ve been popping in from time to time to delete spam posts but the view count is still climbing steadily if slowly despite there being no new posts. Even over the last week it has averaged 70 – 80 pageviews per day which is quite surprising.

Founded: Jul 14 2007

  • 67 Avg visits per day
  • 123 Avg views per day
  • 0 Posts per day
  • 0 Posts in last 24 hours
  • 65517 Total visits
  • 237709 Total views
  • 1022 Total posts
  • 178 Total topics
  • 81 Total members

I wonder what all the original T189 first presentation students are doing now?

Finally, an image taken with my Pentax X-5 which is good, especially at macro images and the hinged screen is useful as well as that ‘stone-age viewfinder’, but I still miss my Fuji S5800 …..

Reflection of trees in water, February 2014.

Reflection of trees in water, February 2014.


September 8, 2013

Another tardy return to my blog …

More than two years have passed and I’m still enjoying my photography, albeit struggling a little to find time. I joined 365Project early last year but only managed about four months before it slipped and I didn’t get back on track.

I bought a Sony HX5V compact for our trip to Iceland in October/November 2010 and it produced some reasonably good photographs but the cold made this photographer’s fingers turn blue. Iceland, however, is a truly beautiful country and I would recommend anyone to visit. Bear in mind though, that it is one of the most expensive places to visit on Earth!

I’ve also acquired a Nikon D40 off Ebay which has kept me amused this year. It came without a lens (body only) but I managed to pick up an 18 – 55mm autofocus VR Nikkor which has proved excellent. However, with lenses as expensive as they are, I can’t see me buying any new Nikon lenses to add to it, which is a shame. I’d love a Nikon macro lens but they are astronomically pricey.

With my birthday at the end of next week. I’ve asked for a Pentax X5 bridge camera to replace the Fujifilm S5800 that I bought in 2007. I decided to sell it last year and it went to a young lad who was keen to improve his photography skills from a basic point-and-shoot. He was very happy to spend his precious savings on such a versatile little bridge camera. I was quite sorry to see it go and, looking back, I can see that I took some excellent photos with it.

So I’m really looking forward to getting the x5 – my first Pentax camera – and trying it out. For a start, it has a tilting LED screen which will be useful when photographing low down on the beach (seashells, seaglass etc). Then it also has a VIEWFINDER! Why is it so difficult to find a camera with a viewfinder these days?

A viewfinder is the one thing I really miss when I’m using the Sony compact and I often find myself falling back on my trusty little Fujifilm Finepix F700 which I had repaired a year or so back. It developed the purple fringing aberration on the display which isΒ  know issue with the camera but I sent it back to Fuji’s repair department and it came back as good as new – even though it was about seven years old at the time. I was seriously impressed! But it has a viewfinder which makes it so much easier to take photographs in bright sunshine when the LED screen of the Sony is a total failure.

Another thing the x5 has that I’m looking forward to trying out is a mind-blowing macro capability – apparently you can go in as close as 1cm from your subject! Astonishing! I’ve always enjoyed photographing nature up close – flowers, lichens, pebbles, sand etc – so it will be great to explore that again without having to spend an arm and a leg on a macro lens.

Oh, and the x5 also takes standard AA batteries which some may view as a disadvantage from a weight point of view. However, I took both the Sony and the Fujifilm S5800 on a trip once and the battery died on the Sony, closely followed by the batteries in the Fuji. So I just bought a pack of batteries from a local shop, loaded up and carried on shooting with the S5800. Oh, and I don’t have to lug the charger around with me either…..

My inherited Canon T50 ha been joined by a Canon T90 as well – The Grand Old Lady – fully serviced and now equipped with several lenses and a flashgun. I just wish there were people I could go to for advice and help in using a top notch film camera like the T90. Of course, the biggest disadvantage is the cost of developing film – not cheap by any means – so I haven’t been using the film cameras much.

So I have a few cameras to play with at the moment and not enough time ….


June 3, 2011

After a long absence ….

Filed under: camera,Canon T50,FD lens,film camera — aquamarina @ 11:21 am

… I’ve decided to return to my photography blog and revive it. Why? Well, Two years ago last month, my husband’s elderly uncle passed away and we had to sort through all his belongings. It’s a sobering and sombre experience at the best of times and neither of us wanted to dwell on the task too long. We were busy anyway because the summer holiday season was already upon us and the Gallery was busy as well as our holiday apartments. But one of our discoveries was a rather tatty khaki coloured bag on the top shelf of his wardrobe. Inside was his old camera, some lenses and a flashgun.

It turned out to be a T50, one of Canon’s first Point-and-Shoot SLR cameras, introduced in March 1983 and last produced in 1989. There weren’t many photo prints but there was a box of colour slides, mainly images of his late wife’s beautiful watercolour paintings, so that was effectively an artistic archive. I need to borrow a slide scanner from someone so I can scan all the slides to hard disk.

Luckily there was a Canon expert on the island that I could speak to (thanks Nigel!) who kindly came and examined the camera for me. I knew virtually nothing about slr cameras having always had point-and-shoots until I got the Fujifilm S5800 bridge camera in 2007. In fact, I found the idea of changing lenses quite daunting.

The T50 had, unfortunately been stored with batteries in its compartment over the years so that had suffered some corrosion. But everything else was pronounced to be in good shape and probably usable if the battery compartment could be cleaned out properly so fresh batteries could be installed. There was a Tamron zoom lens which didn’t even fit the camera and a ‘doubler’ which was the same. They both went to the local Church Charity shop and I hope they are now giving another photographer good service.

So I was left with a T50 (hopefully working once cleaned up), a 50mm f1.8 prime lens(I think this was the one that came with the camera), a 28mm f2.8 prime lens (wide angle), a 244t t Speedlight flash and a sturdy but fairly heavy Hama tripod. These FD fit lenses no longer fit the EOS range of Canon cameras so they’ve become less desirable over the years. Unfortunately the new Micro 4/3 compact cameras CAN use Canon FD lenses with an adapter so they’ve started to become more desirable recently.

I cleaned out the T50, put in new batteries, pored over the manual, switched it on …. and it beeped at me! The narrow bit of bodywork surrounding the battery compartment door has split so I’ve had to put Sellotape on it to keep it shut and the batteries in place. But it does work πŸ™‚ As far as I can tell, the lenses are in good condition with no fungus or scratches and there’s a Hama Skylight filter in place on both of them.

Now I need to learn how to use it …..

February 5, 2008

Fuji Finepix S5800

Filed under: camera,digital camera — aquamarina @ 4:53 pm

Well, I’ve had my ‘new’ Fuji Finepix S5800 camera for a little while now and played with it a bit. I’ve come to the conclusion that it serves a completely different purpose to my trusty little Finepix F700. I’m also very glad that I didn’t put the F700 on Ebay and sell it because I’m still carrying it in my handbag … something that I definitely can’t do with the S5800!

On the other hand, the S5800 has the 10x optical zoom and the macro/super macro features that I particularly wanted. I take quite a lot of close-up photos of my plants and this is where the bigger camera really comes into its own. The wider range of pre-sets for things like landscape, fireworks, snow etc are pretty useful too but I really need to explore the manual settings on the camera. For some reason, it seems to struggle with high contrast – a bright background and a darker subject. Things end up looking washed out or poorly contrasted. This is something I need to work on.

I’m also having real difficulty adjusting to the size and bulk of the S5800 over the slim oblong shape of the F700. While it does feel solid and comfortable in my small hands (I was very wary of large cameras for that reason), I’m always having to be extra careful in case I drop it. It’s not as easy to grab in a hurry if there’s a good shot. It’s much better when there’s time to compose and set up the shot properly.

I got a proper bag for it but the camera, spare batteries, battery charger, cables and manual makes it rather a bulky and heavy addition to carry around if you’ve already got a handbag in tow.

I need to spend more time with this camera and learn how to use it properly.

January 3, 2008

A New Year

Filed under: digital camera,photography — aquamarina @ 10:18 pm

Well, it’s been a long time since I updated my T189 blog but I have a few minutes spare this evening πŸ™‚

I did save up my September birthday money and finally bought myself the Fuji Finepix S5800 digital camera together with a 2Gb SD card and a Tamrac bag. Christmas brought a travel charger set together with four 2700Mh rechargeable batteries so I can keep the camera ‘well fed’.

It’s a really nice camera and I’m glad I bought it. But I haven’t had much opportunity to get ‘serious’ with it since I actually got it 😦 I did take it on a short break to Lisbon in Portugal in December and took about 200 pictures with it. I’ll try and post some on Flickr soon.

Of course, after the compact, relatively lightweight Fuji Finepix F700, the S5800 feels both bulky and heavy (the latter due mainly to four AA batteries instead of an internal rechargeable cell). But it suits my small hands and the controls are pretty intuitive after getting used to the way Fuji organises things with the previous camera.

I’ve also got so used to the small F700 living in my handbag, available to whip out at a moment’s notice and snap a quick shot, that the more ‘prominent’ S5800 feels much more conspicuous. I’m not overly keen on wearing it around my neck on the supplied strap but said strap isn’t really long enough to sling over one shoulder so I can carry the camera on the opposite hip.

I hope everyone who reads this blog had a merry Christmas and a pleasant New Year – I know I did!

October 6, 2007

Some Images from the ‘summer’

Filed under: digital camera,Flickr,Nature — aquamarina @ 3:52 pm

While I’m still saving up and lusting after the Fujifilm S5800 (as explained in the previous post) I’ve still been using my trusty little F700 to take photos this ‘summer’. Actually, the islands have been very fortunate and had much better weather than the mainland. Even when the rain was pouring down and the floods were rising on the mainland, we were having our rain at night and then the clearance came along at about 11am – visitors had a leisurely breakfast and lazed around until the weather improved before going out.

So, here are some photos I took:

First, a red hot poker, but this is the bigger, fatter, autumn-flowering Kniphofia rooperi.

Red Hot Poker

This is a close up from underneath of one of the flower spikes on our yucca

This one is a fluke shot of a housemartin returning to one of the nests under the eaves of our house

House Martin and Nests

And this is the beautiful and unusual flower of Stapelia variegata – a small variety of Carrion Flower

Stapelia Variegata

I hope you like the photos. I tend to be much more ‘picky’ about images since I took T189 but I’m still not a skilled user of Elements despite all the work we did with it. Cropping, sharpening, levels and straightening tend to be my stock tools.

Now I must go … we’re out to dinner with friends this evening and I don’t know WHAT to wear!!!

September 21, 2007


Filed under: camera,digital camera,Hardware,Open University,photography,T189 — aquamarina @ 8:38 pm

Oh Fuji, what have you done???

Thrown a spanner in my works, that’s for sure *sigh*

I was almost settled on the S5600 over the S5700 when I found that there was a brand new S5XXX camera just released – the Fujifilm Finepix S5800Β which is SOOOO tempting! It’s supposed to be available from October 2007 but the first ones are now appearing on Ebay and a seller has it for sale on Amazon as well.

It’s around the Β£150 mark at the moment but I’m waiting to see what price it will be from Amazon itself a/. because it will be post free and b/. I do value Amazon’s customer service. I bought an Archos Gmini MP3 player last year and it went wrong within a week – I was able to print out a personalised returns label from the Amazon site, send the faulty player back and subsequently received a brand new one in less than ten days.

So, not surprisingly,Β I’ve put my new camera plans on hold for a little while so I can save up the extra cash to get the S5800 πŸ™‚

September 15, 2007

Not feeling QUITE so down :-)

Filed under: camera,digital camera,Hardware,photography,T189 — aquamarina @ 5:24 pm

My disappointment at my T189 marks is now mellowing and it’s certainly NOT going to stop me taking photographs! *lol*

Having a Fuji camera, I signed up with the MyFuji website and registered my camera. They send monthly emails and stuff, run competitions and forums, have useful Photography tips etc. Recently I received an email offering a 15% discount on Fuji refurbished cameras πŸ™‚ It’s valid to the end of the month and I have some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket so what to buy? I think a bridge camera would be the best option and, hopefully, nothing too bulky or heavy that would make it difficult to carry around. So …

Fuji Finepix S5600 Zoom


Fuji Finepix S5700 Zoom

(Sorry Georgy, I really can’t afford a proper DSLR – in fact, I think it would be wasted on me to be honest!)

Decisions …. decisions …. decisions ….

September 12, 2007

Feeling a bit down …

Filed under: End of Course Assessment,T189 — aquamarina @ 10:47 pm

I’ve had to think very long and hard about writing this blog post because I definitely have some conflicting feelings about my T189 results.

The OES (Overall Examinable Component) mark I received for the ECA was 70/100 which was rather disappointing because I was really hoping to get a mark between 75 and 85. From feedback received on OpenStudio and on Flickr, I got the impression that my images were good and some were very good so only to get ‘Achieved’ for the visual and technical marks on my ECA panel was a bit of a let-down 😦

I know I didn’t master some of the more involved techniques in Elements 5 and that seems to have impacted on my Technical Awareness mark but I simply didn’t have the extra hours required to invest in such a complex program on top of the course work and the time for photo assignments. I also use a trackball due to RSI which is hardly an ideal tool for delicate image editing and I didn’t have spare cash to buy a graphics tablet 😦

So here are my marks:

Part 1a – Visual Awareness – Achieved
Your images showed a satisfactory level of visual awareness. Your panel of images had one or two images with good visual impact and showed some evidence of imagination and creativity. Some of your images communicated their intention clearly and made use of ideas taught in the course about framing, lighting, and decisive moments. About half of the images in your panel could be improved upon and the best way to develop your visual awareness is to keep taking pictures and looking at them critically.

Part 1b – Technical Awareness – Achieved
Your panel of images demonstrates a reasonable level of technical skill. Several of your images are appropriately exposed and sharp, and demonstrate your control of the camera. If you have edited your images then your mark may reflect problems with the colour, pixelation, or other digital artefacts. A common problem for beginners to photography is the over-saturation and over-sharpening of images. The technical standard that you have reached is satisfactory and with practice your technical skill will improve. You may find it helpful to review the course and think about how your images could be improved from a technical point of view.

Part 2 – Written Component – Well Achieved
Your answers to the written component of the ECA show a sound understanding of photographic techniques and aesthetic considerations. You have written appropriately about your images and used some of the terms introduced in the course, and demonstrated a developing understanding.

Since my next course is about to start and my course materials will probably be arriving tomorrow, I’m going to put T189 away for now and just continue snapping away with my little compact camera. I’m not even sure if it’s worth investing in a new camera so I may put that idea on the back burner for a while.Β I did enjoy T189 and I did enjoy taking photographs for the assignments and ECA, I did get a pass after all and it’s not a bad one, but somehow I feel rather flat and disillusioned today … sorry, but that is honestly how I feel right now. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow – it is my birthday after all πŸ™‚

Goodnight folks.

September 4, 2007

Moving onwards and upwards

Filed under: End of Course Assessment,Open University,T189 — aquamarina @ 3:45 pm

Today, we got up at the unearthly hour of 5.15am on the final leg of our journey home, having delivered daughter safely to college up in Leicestershire over the weekend, and arrived back safely just before lunch. Hubby fired up the computer to do some printing and then I downloaded all the (mostly) junk emails before checking in on my OU First Class desktop. I have to admit that it came as a bit of a shock when I double clicked on T189 Feedback which sported a red flag only to be told that I’m not allowed to perform that function 😦

So I dashed over to my StudentHome page to see if any results were there … it appeared not. I’m not exactly sure when the T189 results will be released but it’s possible that the OU is being extra-scrupulous with the marking since it is the first presentation of the course and they want to set an effective benchmark for future presentations. However, on checking a little later, I found the following announcement on my T189 course details page:

Your course result should be available by Thursday 13 September 2007

So it’s not long to wait now for students of the first presentation of T189!

I confess I’ve not taken that many photographs this summer, apart from ones of our daughter, so I really need to get going again now that autumn is here. There’s that faint bonfire-smoky tang to the air that heralds the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and the spiders are out in force, spinning their webs across anything available. It also heralds the fast approaching excitement of my next course – A215: Creative Writing, a sixty point Level Two course, and a fascinating challenge.

So good luck to all T189-ers for fantastic results πŸ™‚

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