Photographers Spotlight Series: Mike Winson

Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.

I’m Mike Winson, and I’m a retired broadcast engineer, the wrong side of 70, and among other pastimes, I have a keen interest in photography, so at Mark’s request, here’s a few notes on my photographic journey of nearly 50 years.

I wouldn’t say that my photography is up to professional or club standard, but I’ve never wanted to do it for a living, and I’m not keen on the camera club type of collective, so as long as I like the photos and enjoy the experience of getting out and taking them, I’m happy.

We always had a camera in the family – a 1930s Ensign Pocket 20 when I was young (which I still have, and which still works), so I have many family photos taken with it to look back on, usually involving various seaside beaches, knotted handkerchiefs, and the unbroken rule of “always keep the sun behind you”.  I was rarely allowed to touch the camera though – not surprising, as my early attempts usually resulted in chopped-off heads, and there were only eight shots per roll of film, and that had to last us the whole week in Skegness, Scarborough or whichever seaside resort we were holidaying.

My first “proper” camera was a Russian Zenit E f/2 SLR, which I bought to document a coast-to-coast trip across the US with three friends in 1972.  I spent time reading photography books and magazines, learning the mysteries and language of photography – aperture, shutter speed, ISO (or ASA as it was at the time), depth of field, circles of confusion, chromatic aberration, composition rules, etc, so had a reasonable understanding when we set off on our three week adventure.  Disappointment followed, however, when all eight 36-exposure rolls of Agfa CT18 slide film came back with a purple cast on every image, and it would be nearly 40 years before I would see them in their true colours, with the benefit of scanning and digital correction.

I also had an interest in electronics, and the need to make my own printed circuit boards got me into photolithography.  I didn’t get very far with 35mm negatives of my circuit board designs, so I acquired a vintage Thornton Pickard plate camera, which I used with high-contrast lith film to produce my circuit board masters. Strangely, I never took any proper photos with that camera, probably because my limited processing equipment didn’t lend itself to large format.  It would have been interesting in retrospect, but sadly I dismantled the camera with the intention of restoring it to its former glory, and left the box of bits in the loft of the farmhouse in Elgin, so never got back into large format photography. The experience did get me into the chemistry of photography though, and for a while I developed and printed my own black & white photographs in a makeshift darkroom in my parents’ loft.

The years passed, house ownership, marriage and family took over, and my photography stagnated somewhat.  I had a series of different 35mm cameras over the years but, like the old Ensign, I was mainly taking photos on family outings and holidays.  In 2000, I bought my first digital camera, a Nikon E950.  This revived my interest in photography, and I was back developing my own photos again, but this time on a computer screen rather than with chemicals and dishes. The cost of digital memory meant that I was back to the Ensign days of only eight photos on a Compact Flash card though!

Many arguments have been had regarding computer processing of digital images, and the term “Photoshop” is often used in a derogatory manner.  I’m firmly of the opinion that, just as in the days of developing and printing film, the creative process doesn’t end when you press the shutter button, in fact many of the techniques used in digital processing are taken from the darkroom, even in the names of the processes (e.g. crop, dodge, burn, filter, etc).  That’s a whole different blog entry though…

A series of digital cameras followed, and I settled on Canon as my preferred brand.  My current camera is a Canon EOS 700D, which I bought just before a safari holiday in Kenya in 2016.

In 2017, my wife spotted a Facebook post from one of her friends, which mentioned a group of photographers and walkers from the Port Talbot area, and she persuaded me to go to one of their walks. I’m not a particularly sociable person at the best of times, but I agreed to go (I think she wanted me out from under her feet!) and my involvement with Great Photography Walks Neath Port Talbot (GPWNPT) began.  I think it was only the second or third walk that the group had undertaken, so numbers were low – about eight, I think – but I’ve rarely missed a meeting since, and the group has grown to an online membership of nearly 800, with a regular attendance at walks of between 15-20.  Through the group, I’ve really revitalised my photography interest and knowledge, and it has once again been my main hobby for the last three years.

Apart from within the group’s Facebook pages, I don’t share my photographs in any forum, so don’t have a webpage or other online presence, but here are just a handful of my favourite images from my collection of thousands.

Thanks for reading, and to Mark for letting me hi-jack his blog!

We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today!

Photographers Spotlight Series: Sebastian Boatca

Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.

My name is Sebastian Boatca, a photographer based in Brussels, Belgium, editor at FUJI X PASSION – Inspirational Photography Magazine and former vice-president of VIEWFINDERS – The Photography Club of Brussels. I embrace life through my experiences as a man, husband, father, traveler and photographer.

For me, photography is a way to express visions and feelings, a way to connect people with different views of the same universe. A camera is a tool , which captures a fragment of space in a moment frozen in time. The way each photograph looks is a result of a genuinely unique inspiration, a set of factors that will never repeat again. This is why in photography it is essential to be aware of all the elements involved in building a photograph.

I have started my interest in photography with a compact camera. Then, as a passionate amateur photographer, I have felt I needed something more than what a Panasonic Lumix can offer. This was my first digital camera for photography. Later on, the most significant upgrade was getting a Canon APS-C DSLR along with a few lenses, both zooms and primes. From here, the ultimate dream for me was to enter the Full-Frame territory and upgrading to a Canon 5D was the natural way, when expecting significant improvements in image quality and technical performance. However, Fujifilm, with the revolutionary X-Trans sensors and their amazing lenses, proved me two essential things, which shaped the way I did photography since then:

  • With a Fujifilm X system, there is no need to go Full-Frame, because you already have all the quality and the performance you need, in both their sensors and their wonderful Fujinon lenses.
  • Fujifilm revealed the fact that there is beauty, performance and flexibility in shooting JPEGs while forgetting about post-processing RAWs. With a carefully customized colour profile, I have discovered I have more time enjoying shooting. From my limited experience with different camera brands and models, I find that Fujifilm delivers the best quality in a JPEG file, thanks to their color science behind the sensor and their film simulations.

I put a lot of emphasis on aesthetics. I have this organic need to see functional, yet pleasing design principles. After using beautifully designed cameras from Fujifilm, when I hold and use a DSLR, I just find it as if it was coming from another world I do not want to interact with. What is the point of manufacturing tons of different photographic tools if we leave behind the touch of influential history in great camera design and a final architecture that pleases the eyes and hands?

I like to travel and using a Fujifilm mirrorless system is the key to a more pleasant experience when traveling light. Lightness and elegance mix themselves in an exquisite way. Sometimes it is important to minimize the “photographer’s print” you leave on a group of people, or community. Many times “silence” is the defining word when you really need to be inconspicuous. This is why my photo bag is getting smaller, with only a “survival kit” inside, comparted to what I used to carry with me a few years ago.

Over the last 7 years, I have been using six models of cameras from Fujifilm. I have started with the one-of-a-kind X-Pro1, then moved to X100S, which I had in parallel with the X-T1. The rangefinder style was so appealing that X-Pro2 was the camera I loved the most. The last phase is the one when I use the underrated X-H1 and lately, X100V has become the most loved camera of all six.

Using and enjoying this amazing Fujifilm X100V means following the two major principles in the way I do photography lately:

  1. Smaller is better. The best compromise in price / performance / sensor size and image quality / size and weight of the camera + lens is when you use a camera like the X100 series from Fujifilm and X100V is the more matured iteration.
  2. JPEG means freedom of enjoying more photography. With the highest quality that I ever saw in an APS-C camera for a JPEG file, Fujifilm gives you the liberty to customize their film simulations. If you learn how to use the camera to its true potential, the results are outstanding. I photograph in RAW format only for specific reasons and needs (from the point of view of a non-professional photographer).

I have printed and exhibited my work done from both RAW files and JPEG files. Lately, I like to challenge myself and get it right in the camera, while playing with my customized colour profiles, trying to reproduce some of my favourite film emulsions character, or just looking for a more original  and personal look.

Moving towards film photography was simply a dream come true, something more than a “photo project” limited in time. I feel like this is a commitment for life, while still enjoying the beautiful outcomes from Fujifilm digital photography.

Below, you will find a list of film types I have used until now:

CineStill 50D

Kodak Pro Image 100

Kodak Ektar 100

Fujicolor Industrial 100

Kodak Portra 160

Kodak Gold 200

Fujicolor C200

Kodak Ultramax 400

Kodak Portra 400

Fujicolor PRO 400H

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400

It is hard to build a “Top 5 My Favourites Film Types”, but if you would ask me to do it, I would probably try to nominate there (not in a specific order): Fujicolor PRO 400H (great character and immensely flexible, Fujicolor Industrial 100 (full of charm), Kodak Portra (both 160 and 400), Kodak Gold (a very underestimated film stock) and Kodak Ektar (ideal for landscapes and travel, with the finest grain). I would be happy to have these five emulsions for the rest of time, even if I truly like to experiment with different types of film and discover their personality.

For the moment, I have three analogue cameras and around eight interesting (some quite famous) prime lenses for film photography. It is a joy to slow down, get away from the worries related to megapixels, subject tracking while moving, focus points and autofocus speed. Going back to the roots of Manual Mode and responsible photography feels so rewarding. When I come back to digital, it feels like I have the fastest camera in the world; we are truly spoiled with technology and yet we continue to be unsatisfied.

If an analogue camera does not captivate you for a daily use, just borrow one and use it from time to time; it is a great opportunity to exercise your skills, your composition, taking your time to create your shot and manually focus on your subject. Using manual focus lenses will surely refine your abilities as a photographer, bringing real improvements to your compositions. You will focus more on the artistic side of the photography, while being careful how to overcome the technical limitations and still deliver great results. I find this to be a wonderful world, full of possibilities and creativity, filled with mysteries waiting to be revealed – and it is always nice to feel special and do special things.

Sebastian Boatca – October 2020

We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today!

Photographers Spotlight Series: David Ellinsworth

Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This will be a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.

I took up photography as a hobby in April 2017 after being inspired by a number of landscape images posted on several local social media groups. I started with just the awful phone camera I had at the time, but despite being on an extremely tight budget I have gradually built up a kit list that includes two DSLRs, one 35mm film camera and five lenses (see below for details) covering angles from ultrawide up to long telephoto for pretty much every shooting scenario. For 99% of the time I shoot in full manual, but occasionally switch to aperture priority or manual/auto ISO. I only ever shoot in RAW for maximum processing power, and I’m also a recent convert to back button focus. In addition, while many photographers are quick to dismiss the validity of a mobile phone for anything more serious than a holiday snap, I use my current phone regularly in parallel with my other cameras because its RAW files are a joy to work with (and it’s with me wherever I go).

I use a variety of techniques to overcome limitations of dynamic range and depth of field, such as bracketed exposure merging (using luminosity masks) and focus stacking, plus I regularly shoot panoramas and long exposures. I also love to experiment with whatever brainwave is floating around my wandering mind at the time. If I’ve learned anything during the past three years then it’s most definitely the importance of experimentation.

I really enjoy shooting architecture, nature and portraits. However, my number one favourite genre (by miles) is landscape photography. For me, there’s nothing quite like being able to visit a beautiful location in (hopefully) beautiful light and being creative and artistic at the same time. I prefer to avoid very bright, harsh, middle-of-the-day sunlight with “postcard blue skies” for landscapes. These conditions can be good for black and white photography, but in general it does absolutely nothing for me. Rather, I favour drama and mood in my landscape images, and will always opt for either golden hour, dappled light as a storm is breaking, fog or mist. Anything that doesn’t involve “holiday brochure” weather.

For three years I have used Affinity Photo for all my editing. It was a very steep and lengthy learning curve to get to grips with this very complex piece of software, but once past that I have loved it ever since. It does 99.9% of what I need it to. Very occasionally I use Nik Collection as a plugin with Affinity if I’m after a specific effect that is otherwise time consuming to create from scratch (when I get lazy, basically, which isn’t often).
I’ve never really thought about whether I have a particular editing style or not. However, after scrutinizing my website and various social media galleries recently it does appear that I have a relatively consistent look to my photos. This will undoubtedly continue to evolve as I relentlessly seek to improve. My website and social media pages are always up to date, and I regularly write blogs on various photographic topics.

I’m really looking forward to experimenting with film photography once my recently gifted Minolta comes back from having a service and repair. With my digital photography I’m looking to eventually upgrade to a full frame 24MP sensor (D750 or Z6, for example; any higher than 24MP is overkill really) mainly for the far superior low light performance. In the meantime my aim is just simply to refine my current methods, shoot in more favourable conditions and just generally get better… much better than I currently am. I don’t tend to do things by halves, and photography definitely isn’t an exception to this.

Thanks for reading

David C. Ellinsworth PhD

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Nikon D7100 (DSLR)
Nikon D3200 (DSLR)
Minolta SRT101b (Film SLR)
Huawei Mate 10 Pro (Phone)

Tokina AF 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D II
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR ED IF
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4

Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer
Gobe ND1000
Zomei ND2-400

Manfrotto 05XB (tripod)
Manfrotto 222 (tripod head)

Affinity Photo (Serif)
Nik Collection

We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today!