I work in the Alan Turing Building at the University of Manchester. Next to the building is an area of green space affectionately known as “Tellytubbie land” in view of its undulations.
That land will be the home of the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, on which construction has recently started. Unfortunately, the new building will dominate the Alan Turing Building, being many storeys higher than it and 8 metres away from it.
Last autumn I took advantage of the excellent mid-October weather to take some photos of the Alan Turing Building that I knew would be unrepeatable because of the imminent construction.
Here they are, along with (at the end) two images taken in September 2015.
The first three images were taken on a Canon 5D Mark II with 16-35mm lens and the last two were taken on a Fuji X-T1 with 18-55 mm lens. These and other images of the Alan Turing Building are available at the Alamy image library.
Shortly after acquiring my Fuji XT-2, four months ago, I bought the Samyang 8mm f2.8 UCM Fisheye II lens, of which I had seen good reviews. This manual focus lens is second generation, as denoted by the “II”, and is light and relatively inexpensive. In order to use it on the Fuji you need to set the camera to manual focus (using the dial with settings “M C S” at the front of the camera) and then go to the menu and set “shoot without lens” under Set Up (tool symbol)-Button/Dial Settings.
I am extremely impressed with this lens. It sharpness is better than I expected. It’s well built and comes with a permanent petal-shaped lens hood and a lens cap that cleverly clips onto the lens. The aperture ring is marked for f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11, f16, and f22, with clicks at the half stops in between. Focus hardly matters with a fisheye, since the depth of field is huge.
Fisheye lenses have the reputation that they are fun to use but that the results rapidly becoming tiring, so that they end up being used sparingly. It may be partly a function of where I have been taking photos recently, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how useful this lens is and how by careful framing, and perhaps a touch of cropping or occasional use of Lightroom’s transform perspective correction tool, images can be produced that are not obviously “fisheye”. A key point to bear in mind is that objects close to the centre are less distorted: avoid placing vertical or horizontal lines away from the centre if you want to de-emphasize the distortion. I have even taken family portraits (not shown here) that are quite acceptable.
The following shots were taken with the Fuji-Samyang combination at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, both in Atlanta (Georgia, USA), the Museum of Liverpool (UK), and the Alan Turing Building at the University of Manchester (UK). These images were shot in the range f2.8-f4 (the aperture is not recorded in the image metadata).