Arrival of Spring / by Graham Dew

Spring arrived suddenly this past week. All at once, warm weather, bright sunshine and light evenings appeared all at the same time and it feels quite intoxicating. It’s a bit like the shock you can get travelling to southern France in the early months of the year, noticing the signs of growth and feeling the sun on the back of your neck.

With weather this nice I headed around to our local allotments as I had promised myself a few weeks ago. The warm weather meant that all the trees and bushes were just showing the first signs of leaf and blossom, but the only produce visible above ground were rather tired winter vegetables. But there is always plenty to see, and many of the fixtures, supports and nettings made for some interesting pictures. I love finding old rakes, spades, forks & other implements in these places. They have a lovely patina of rust, sun-bleaching and wear that speaks of years of hard use. Very wabi-sabi, to use the Japanese term.

One of the main reasons I recently moved over to using a mirrorless camera was because I wanted to use shallow depth of field at close distances. It became clear to me last year that my DSLR was not capable of focussing accurately when using my standard lens wide open at close distances, and that this was a problem inherent to all cameras of this type that use a dedicated focus sensor. The beauty of mirrorless cameras is that the focus and exposure data is taken directly from the image sensor, thus guaranteeing accurate focus.

When I bought the G3 I also purchased the Lumix 20mm/f1.7 lens specifically to take full aperture, close-up detail pictures. This weekend’s pictures were the first where I really started to explore the capabilities of the camera and the lens. The lens is very sharp, even wide open, and the camera allows accurate focus wherever I choose in the image – no more focus and recompose. But best of all, the wide aperture allows great control over the de-emphasis of the background. It’s a very powerful creative tool, and one that I will use quite a lot, I suspect.