Steve Walton UK Landscape & Travel Photographer bio picture
  • Steve Walton UK Landscape & Travel Photographer

    Professional photographer, author, traveler, tour leader, mentor.

    Steve is a Fellow of the Master Photographers Association, Fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photography, Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts.

    Owner and tour leader at Wild Light Phototours and Managing Director of Steve Walton Photography Ltd, he has been nominated three times as UK Landscape & Travel Photographer of the Year at the professional showcase MPA/BIPP joint British Professional Photographic Awards.

    In 2016, Steve Walton is President of the Master Photographers Association.

Following my earlier review of the Vanguard 283CT carbon fibre tripod, Vanguard have asked me to review another tripod from their premium carbon fibre Veo range.  This time it is the Veo 265CB which is very compact and lightweight travel tripod.  It has a rrp of around £249.95  The 265CB has a clever folding design which makes it very compact when folded. It comes complete with an Arca Swiss compatible ball head and a very useful padded bag with a shoulder strap.  The legs are 5 section carbon fibre.  The downside of having to adjust 5 flip lock levers is that it can take slightly longer to set the tripod up.  In reality, this point is over stated on photography forums. The time it takes to fiddle with a few more levers can really be measured in seconds rather than minutes and the benefit of an extremely compact folded tripod negates the over-egged slow set up criticism further.

One criticism that may be justified is that those extra fittings do add weight to the tripod.  The manufacturer quotes a folded length of 390mm which is commendably compact, but the weight is a not so impressive 1.5kg.  This makes it slightly shorter when folded, but about half as heavy again as my Gitzo 1550T .  If counting grammes is important, then close comparison with other manufacturer’s offerings will be required.  For most purposes that additional 500g isn’t a major let-down, but it is noticeable when you have something lighter to compare it with.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that losing that half kilo could well cost another couple of hundred GB pounds!

The flip lock adjusters are robust and allow for adjustment for tightness, but on the review sample the adjustment was optimum straight out of the box.  I did not experience and slipping or the kind of ‘leg creep’ that is the bane of my alloy Manfrotto 190XB studio tripod.  After several months’ extended use and literally hundreds of extending and collapsing cycles, the flip lock adjusters are still as firm as the day I unpacked the tripod.  Again, this is a telling comparison with my Manfrotto 190XB which needs constant tightening.

Vanguard 265CB tripod

Vanguard 265CB carbon fibre tripod

 

The image below illustrates the method behind the compact folded size of the Veo 265CB.  There is a spring-loaded pin in the centre column, the kind you find in steel tent poles, which when pressed in allows you to pull the centre column up through the cast alloy collar and then swing the column down so that it rests between the three legs when folded.  It’s a simple and effective solution.  The image below shows the centre column in the folded position.

Vanguard 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The included Arca-Swiss compatible ballhead is well made and has a bubble level  set into it. If your camera does not have a level horizon display or you don’t have an accessory level attached, then the built-in bubble level will be quite useful for initial setting up.  The ball head also has a lockable panning base

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The legs each have a spring loaded locking button to adjust for very low level shooting.  As with all tripods that have a centre column, the camera height from the ground will be dictated by the centre column.  Vanguard have thought about this and a short centre column is provided to replace the standard column for very low level work.  One leg has a foam rubber grip at the top to aid handling, a welcome feature over less well designed tripods.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

With five sections and individual locking buttons for splaying the tripod legs, there is unlimited height and angle adjustment.  The camera and lens combined weight limit is quoted as 8kg, far more than my Nikon D810 and Nikon 20mm f1.8G lens.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The maximum height of the tripod is given at a fraction under 5 feet.  This is with the centre column extended to it’s maximum height.  I would not normally extend the centre column at all, but even with exposures of several minutes  The Arca-Swiss ballhead is good quality with no binding or slippage when locked down in portrait format

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

The small folded size and light weight is a real bonus during a full day on the hill.  The rubber feet screw in to reveal metal spikes,  This is one area where I found an issue  The threads on the spikes can become clogged with sand and grit, making adjustment difficult.   On uneven ground, having four flip locks on each leg makes fine adjustment quite easy and the extended tripod is stable enough for long exposures.

Overall, the Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre represents good value in the competitive tripod middle ground.  It performs well and does what it’s supposed to do within is range of camera and lens weights.

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod

Likes:

  • Very compact when folded for carrying.  It will easily fit inside most aircraft cabin baggage.
  • Robust with good quality materials and workmanship.
  • Reasonable height.
  • Arca-Swiss compatible panning ball head included.
  • Accessory short column for low-level work.
  • Padded bag with shoulder strap.
  • Rubber feet with concealed spikes.
  • Flip lock adjusters
  • 26mm carbon fibre tube legs.
  • Price (£249.95).  Reasonable cost for a versatile fully-featured carbon fibre tripod.

Dislikes:

  • Weight.
  • Foot spike threads may not be corrosion resistant.
  • Legs are not sealed.

 

Some long exposures with a Fuji X100T mounted on the Vanguard Veo 265CB carbon fibre tripod.

Beach, North Norfolk

Beach, North Norfolk

 

River Derwent, Peak District National Park

River Derwent, Peak District National Park

 

Ben Bulben from Rosses Point, Co. Sligo

Clearing rainstorm and Ben Bulben from Rosses Point, Co. Sligo, Ireland.

Join us for a weekend of landscape, seascape and travel photography on our Wild Light photography workshop in Cornwall in April 2017.  We are based at the Cadgwith Cove Hotel in the unspoilt and quintessential Cornish fishing village of Cadgwith on the Lizard Peninsula.  Bookings are strictly limited to four people only to ensure maximum individual attention by professional landscape photographer, Steve Walton.  The workshop is intended for all abilities from beginners to advanced photographers and individual tuition will be delivered accordingly.  We will be visiting many diverse locations in the area, from tranquil creeks and hamlets on the beautiful Helford River to dramatic coastal locations at Lizard Point, Mullion Cove, Kynance Cove, Prussia Cove, Lamorna Cove, Penberth Cove, Porthcurno and Porth Nanven.  We will also visit prehistoric and industrial archaeological sites in the Celtic Cornish heartland of West Penwith, such as Lanyon and Botallack.  Obviously, this will mean long days out in the field, but there will be no strenuous walking or climbing as all locations are accessible for most physically able people.

With a maximum of only four attendees on the workshop there will be ample opportunity for individual tuition by Steve Walton.  Our Wild Light Photography Workshops are fun and flexible and the emphasis is on structured learning new skills and improving your existing photography skills.

Apart from your camera, lenses, tripod and remote release, there is no need to buy any specialist equipment for the workshop. Filters by Lee and Formatt-Hitech will be available to use if you don’t have them and you will gain practical hands-on experience of long exposures and controlling the light with neutral density and graduated neutral density filters.  Our groups are convivial and friendly and the evening dinners are always a great social occasion!

The workshop runs from 10.30am on Friday 7th – 5pm on Sunday 9th April 2017 and the cost is £395 per person.

What is included:

  • Two nights’ accommodation at the Cadgwith Cove Hotel, Cadgwith
  • Breakfasts on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th April
  • Evening dinners on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April
  • refreshments (coffee/tea etc).
  • transport to all photography locations on the workshop itinerary
  • personal photography tuition by Steve Walton throughout the workshop
  • Fun whilst learning and improving your photography

What is not included:

  • your travel to and from the workshop
  • photographic equipment
  • lunches
  • alcoholic beverages

 

A £100 deposit will be required to secure your place on the workshop and the balance of £295 will be due for payment on 27th January 2017.  Contact Steve Walton on 0116 2994901 or email steve@stevewaltonphotography.info to book your place on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop in April 2017.  Be quick, places are limited to four attendees only!

Penberth Cove, just one of the dramatic locations we will visit on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop with Steve Walton in April 2017

Penberth Cove Near Cadgwith

Penberth Cove, Cornwall

 

Kynance Cove during Storm Frank, January 2016.  An amazing location in all conditions on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop in April 2017

Kynance Cove near Cadgwith

Kynance Cove during Storm Frank, January 2016. Love the wave ‘face’!

Porth Nanven, another of the dramatic locations we will visit on our Wild Light Cornwall Photography Workshop with Steve Walton in April 2017

Porth Nanven boulders and The Brisons, Cornwall

Porth Nanven and The Brisons, Cornwall

Porth Nanven is a small cove situated at the end of the sylvan Cot Valley, not far from St. Just.  The long sweep of the Cot Valley is famous amongst bird watchers, particularly in autumn when storm-driven vagrant species frequently turn up after being pushed across the Atlantic Ocean.  Cot Valley is not quite as ravaged by mineworkings as neighbouring Kenidjack Valley, although many remains are present.  The valley is equally famous amongst landscape and seascape photographers for the small cove of Porth Nanven, where the valley opens out at the seaward end.  This small cove and it’s large round, pebble-like boulders is an oft-photographed iconic Cornish location.

West-facing and open to the Atlantic Ocean weather systems, sunset and evenings are usually the best times for landscape photography here.  The light and the cloud formations can be very dramatic after the Autumn Equinox, especially on an incoming tide.  The location almost begs for neutral density filters and long exposures.  The sea is often restless and that is a vital ingredient for  those ethereal, misty effects.  A 10 stop neutral density filter will be one of the most useful filters to have to hand and  2 and 3 stop hard graduated neutral density filters will be needed when there is a good sunset.  On my most recent visit, the sunset, although very promising only minutes earlier, was lost to blanket cloud.  At our latitude, that isn’t so much of a problem if, like myself, you like the cold blue tones such conditions will bring.  End-of-the-day landscape photography in the UK doesn’t need to be only about yellow, magenta, pink and cyan pastel hues.  Blanket cloud can have a certain drama of it’s own with a wide angle lens and a 10 stop nd filter.  West-facing usually means photographing directly into the wind and with a long enough exposure, clouds will usually ‘streak’.

This image shows the beginnings of cloud streaking, as picked-up by the 20 second exposure time.  20 seconds is not really a ‘long exposure’ compared to some of my work, although it was just enough to calm the boisterous sea without making it completely flat.  Porth Nanven is one of those locations which require you to return to again to try different things.  One thing that is guaranteed is the potential for dramatic images.

Porth Nanven, overcast evening.  Nikon D810, Nikon 20mm f1.8G Formatt-Hitech 10 stop irnd filter.

Photography workshops with Steve Walton at Porth Nanven, Cornwall

Porth Nanven, Cornwall

Scalpay is joined to Harris by a bridge, even so it’s perceptibly different to it’s larger neighbour.  The jewel in the crown of Scalpay is the walk out across the peat to Eilean Glas Lighthouse.  It’s a mile or so of easy walking on mostly a gravel peat cutter’s path* and it’s a great place to while away a few hours on a fine evening with some long exposure photography. When I’m setting-up to photograph the lighthouse, I have to confess to being a bit anal about lighthouse placement within the image.  By this I mean I like to align the tower within the ‘notch’ of the Shiants in the distance.  I hope no one ever asks me why, I can’t explain this rationally.  I just do it!  I’ve visited this place several times and it’s  beautiful.  I’ve also been able to share the time I have spent here with a couple of people who have mattered very much to me.  The memories I am left with are priceless and I daresay I’ll visit Eilean Glas again with new friends and other photographers and return with more happy memories.  I’ll hold those first memories for ever, though!

Photographing with film in the evening is a challenge.  A three stop neutral density filter gave me the long enough exposure I needed with some added reciprocity compensation.  The problem of a long exposure with rapidly dropping light levels made itself felt and I found myself in something of a guessing game with the exposure for this image.  OK, I’ll stick my hand up and confess to being around three-quarters of a stop adrift with my combined calculations and guesswork.  So much for all the years of rufty-tufty experience gained from traipsing the length and breadth of the UK honing my skills!   The Fuji Velvia 50 frame was underexposed, but just within the capability of my Imacon scanner to retrieve detail from the gloop.  I’m glad it was salvageable.  The irnd filter combined with Velvia’s ability to plaster itself with a heavy colour cast produced an image of Eilean Glas that I quite like.  There is movement in the clouds and the sea has been calmed, it’s the mood that matters and the gloopy Fuji colours sort of holds things together.  Not forgetting, of course, the all-important requirement of the lighthouse tower bisecting the notch in the Shiants!

Great place, fun memories, want more!

Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Scalpay, October 2015.  Hasselblad 503cw, Zeiss 80mm cfi planar, Fuji Velvia 50.

Eilean Glas Lighthouse, jewel in the crown of Scalpay.

Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Scalpay

*Please park considerately near the gate entrance to the cutter’s track, it’s frequently in use!

Photography forums are an internet phenomena and I’ve had a long association with them, in both ‘professional’ and enthusiast weighting.  If I’m perfectly honest, whilst I would agree that forums can be entertaining and often informative, I generally find them irritating for many reasons.  In fact, the only forum I frequent on a fairly regular basis these days is a camera brand-specific forum and more often that not I dislike it intensely.  It’s a daily soapbox for a relatively small number of camera owners whose ability to voice their opinions on almost any conceivable topic is often more accomplished than their photography, so why do I bother? That’s a tough one to answer and it’s a question I often ask myself after I’ve taken the pragmatic step of immediately deleting a reply to some comment or other that is better left unchallenged in the way I had begun.  The only plausible reasons I can think of as to why I return to this particular photography forum is that there are just enough interesting people who know how to use a camera, especially on one on-going thread to make logging-in worthwhile.  The main reason I suppose is that I find the forum with it’s endless authoritative pretence, backbiting and petulance oddly amusing most of the time.  Invariably, the discussions are split between two distinct groups who maintain their alliances and bonding via the ‘Thanks’ button.  Forums are a microcosm of human interaction.  Sometimes the temptation to post something to inflame one side or the other is almost irresistible, but of course that’s  trolling.  It’s a violation of most forum rules and it’s very naughty, which of course is why I would never do such a thing.  Forums are best treated as potentially toxic but usually harmless as long as perspectives are maintained.  A photography forum is not representative of the real world and certainly not worth losing sleep over.

This brings me to the point of my blog today.  A couple of days ago, I had a brief exchange of opinions with someone on that forum about long exposures and neutral density filters.  He was very dogmatic in his views about which filters are ‘the best‘ and in what constitutes a long exposure.  When I’m working with film, my long exposures with neutral density filters can reach several minutes, once reciprocity failure has been factored-in. Reciprocity failure can be seen as being a little ‘old school’, it’s not generally an issue for many of those who have learnt solely with, or chosen, a wholly digital route for their photography.  At least it isn’t the same issue that we film users have to deal with.  For those of us who continue to use film, reciprocity failure (the inability of film to maintain consistency in it’s reciprocal aperture/shutter speed sensitivity to light and colour beyond a certain exposure time) is either a pain or a help, depending on your intentions for the end result.  What my opposing forum member could not accept was that choice of filtration or length of exposure was of any merit unless the filters were the best.  So much for dogma, I always will maintain it is the sworn enemy of creativity.

Reciprocity with Fuji Velvia 50 begins to breakdown from a little over 1 second and the calculated exposure can run into several minutes to compensate for this, depending on the correct base exposure without nd filtration. Exposure compensation will not rectify the colour casts that Fuji Velvia 50 produces in some conditions, but some colour casts are a direct result of the filter in use.  Either way, my own purely subjective opinion is that colour casts can often work in our favour, particularly those which are inclined between the cyan-magenta range.  They can add mood to an image especially when the absolute, as in ‘correct’, color rendition is not a priority. A controlled color cast can  promote an image from the ranks of record shot to a higher image with artistic interpretation.  The difference in outcome is significant and I can’t think of one good reason why a photographer should be confined to photographing only what they think they can seen in front of them.  Photography should be about experimentation, discovery and enjoyment and rather less to do with forum dogma.  Dogmatic photographers are invariably creatively hamstrung.   A few minutes spent looking through forum galleries will show why I say that!

 Isle of Harris , October 2015

Isle of Harris photography workshops discussed on forums

Incoming tide and soft evening light.  Hasselblad 503CW, Zeiss 150mm cf sonnar, Fuji Velvia 50.

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