Busman’s Holiday

I’m going to start by apologising that this week’s posting is late, and that it’s a bit lightweight, but I only got back from a trip away (see below) late last night and have been playing catch-up with work all day.

There’s a certain inevitability that a photographer on holiday still takes pictures, but for me it’s a struggle to take landscapes and holiday snaps that really please me, so when I went up country to visit my brother in County Durham last week, what was the photo I got the biggest kick out of? A bowl of fruit of course. Obvious, innit?

The only camera I took for myself was a Canon G11, and a Yashica T3 Super film camera for my son. We don’t have the photos from that yet, but I wouldn’t mind betting they’ll be pretty good. That camera always had a brilliant lens on it, and my son can spot a decent photo sometimes.

In addition to the G11 I took an ancient Vivitar 283 flash with the thyristor connecting cable, which allowed me to use off-camera flash with the G11. I know I’m getting more technical than usual here, but some of you will be intrigued I’m sure. And it’s with this simple set-up I shot the bowl of fruit one rainy afternoon when there was nothing better to do.

You might think that being a photographer I’d have taken some big flashy camera with me, but we were flying and I didn’t want to lug it about. The G11 is a good camera for what it is (a compact), but I’m convinced it’ll do some kinds of pictures brilliantly, while others are a lot more work. For example, landscapes. It might well be me, but I can’t seem to get a decent landscape out of it. I’ll freely admit I’m not much cop at doing the kind of landscape shot that makes you gasp, but there’s something about the detail in nature which seems to baffle the G11. It’s the grass and the leaves on the trees that just seem to turn into a big greenish blotch.

As for pictures of my son as he runs about, the G11 suffers from the shutter lag that still hobbles a lot of compact cameras.

So here it is, a still-life that reminds me of the holiday without being a typical holiday snap. I hope you enjoy it.

bowl of fruit

Still life of a Durham fruit bowl.


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  • Laura August 16, 2011  

    I have a G11 and an old Vivitar flash. Can’t remember right now which model but I would definitely be interested in knowing how to use the flash with my digital cameras. Do you have a related post on this?

    • Glass Eye August 17, 2011  

      Hi Laura

      I don’t think I have a related post, but my one piece of advice would be to check (or get someone to check) the trigger voltage of the flash before using it with any modern camera.

      This is done by firing the flash while having the hot shoe terminals connected to a volt meter. If the voltage is too high (from memory above around 6v, but I can’t remember the exact limit) you’ll need to use a Wein Sync Safe between the flash and the camera to step the voltage right down, or use remote radio triggers. Using a flash with a high trigger voltage on a modern camera can damage the delicate modern electrics.

      I hoe that helps.


  • neilandko August 17, 2011  

    Fruit from Ray Emmerton of Lanchester

    • Glass Eye August 17, 2011  

      Careful, he may get inundated now. Lovely greengages though!

  • Tom Waugh (@tomnwaugh) August 17, 2011  

    You FLEW to Durham? That’s quite posh isn’t it? :o)

    The 283 is a real workhorse flash and I still have mine. I first bought it in the eighties. Now I use it occasionally with a cheap slave from Jessops for umbrella lighting.

    I also have a G9 but the 283 is bigger and looks silly perched on top!

    • Glass Eye August 18, 2011  

      I flew to Newcastle on Ryanair. Very posh! It was cheaper than the train, and meant we had an extra 2 days out of what was only a 6 day visit.

      I connect my 283 to G11 using the thyristor connecting cord. That way the flash isn’t sitting on the camera like a bulldog on a hamster, and I can play with different lighting angles or keep bounce technique in vertical mode. It’s a bit of a handful, but worth it sometimes. Plus it means the thyristor is reading the light from the camera’s position.

      Do you have the manual output dial thing that replaces the thyristor unit? I haven’t seen one of those in years.