Autumnal Fun on the Farm, or “How on earth do I use my new Camera?!”

I treated myself to a DSLR camera a couple of weeks ago. I’ve wanted one forever, since using my old SLR got too expensive in film and I no longer had access to a darkroom at school. Finally, some 14 years later, I took the plunge and bought myself a second hand one on eBay, with a bunch of lenses and all the accessories. Perfect starter kit really, because I didn’t want to buy a brand new one in case I was useless with it, and besides, even at entry-level new was out of the price-bracket.

So I was thrilled to buy an Olympus E-520 online, it turned out from a rather good photographer. When I saw her photos I knew the camera was up to the job, the question of course was, am I? I took the sensible step of getting on Amazon and ordering myself a DSLR photography book to refresh my memory and update me on digital techniques not really available with SLRs, but I haven’t actually opened that yet! My first foray with the camera was a day back home on the farm at Mum and Dad’s. It was one of those perfectly stunning autumnal days when the blue sky contrasts perfectly against the ambers and yellows of the trees and brown of the leaves. Even the lawn somehow looked greener.

Using various functions and settings I took a couple of hundred photographs, none of which were perfect, but some were quite acceptable, and all of them were pretty good as Facebook snaps or for the family album. You can’t really fail on that front when you have three cute little canine models, a photogenic little brother, some furry mini-ponies and sheep and a couple of beautiful horses to point the camera at!

So here’s what happened when I took my camera down on the farm in Somerset.

This is Billy, my mongrel I rescued in Italy. We don’t know what he is, but we think there’s some Lab and some whippet in there somewhere. We do know he is noisy though, when not woofing he is moaning, howling, or generally voicing his dis/pleasure. Despite the volume he is a charming little chap, with ears that have to be seen to be believed. Yoda has nothing on him.

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Poppy the border collie belongs to eight year old Jack. They are best friends, and football buddies.

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In the fields amongst the sheep I was surprised to see some little miniature Shetland ponies have appeared, which Jack loves because he can hop on unaided and ride about, if the pony is willing. It seems most of the time neither of them are.

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These ponies are so small my boyfriend realised he could stand with one foot either side and not touch their backs! Despite how unhappy the pony looks, it’s really only Jack actually sat on his back!

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This handsome – if slightly bedraggled – chap is Sooty, my parents’ cocker spaniel. He loves rats. He loves to chase them even when they are not there. He will happily spend hours at the foot of a tree gazing upwards because he’s sure that must have been where the rat went.

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Billy likes to patrol his territory, which is not really his, as he mostly lives with me, but when I first came home from Italy he spent a year living with Mum and Dad, and now happily goes off for ‘holidays’ whenever I do.

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As the sun went down, the sky started turning a beautiful pink, lending a slightly melancholy look to the fields with their bare tree branches. I don’t think this photo is technically any good, but it captures exactly what I saw, as I saw it, and that, sometimes, is one of the hardest things to do, so I like it.

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I also love this photo of the woods behind our house. The colours are always amazing at this time of year, and the camera picked them up perfectly.

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The chestnut horse also continued my autumnal colours theme, and obligingly posed whilst I took pictures of him with several different settings (sadly no time to change to a macro lense, he wasn’t that patient!). I liked this one the best. The detail of the eye lashes is incredible. Even if I don’t quite know how to use it yet, the DSLR is already streets ahead of the photos I could take with my compact camera, excellent though it is for capturing the moment quickly and easily. It will still be coming with me to parties, and on holidays for those moments when you just need something to work fast.

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Burnt orange against azure sky is definitely a winning combination. I took some more of foliage in the same colours, and it turned out pretty well too.

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Finally, the obligatory not-quite-selfie with a teeny tiny pony, just because who could resist that fluffy cuteness!?

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So while I’m not yet what you might call a photographer, I think my photos have already gone up a level, and I am loving having fun trying to improve them still further, so I can take you on a visual journey too! Though I will still be relying on my camera phone for pics on the go, and my compact for some things, from now on, mostly it’s going to be me and my Olympus. Love at first click!

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