Month: March 2014
This is going to be short but sweet, I have finished my book at last and it’s now available on Blurb in hardback and as an e book. The hard back has two price options and the e book is £9.99 the e book is here and the hardback options are here.
It was a difficult decision to make the book as small as it is but trying to squeeze 365 images in was just too hard so I made the book a lot smaller. Following three months of shuffling and writing captions and Exiff data for every image, I changed my mind and started again.
There is a forward in my book from my good friend Paul Saunders, former picture editor of The Times and just a couple of pages of writing from me. I decided to let the images do the talking.
The book will be available at Cambrian Photography North Wales at their Annual Show on the 31st May 2014 close to the Fuji stand so please feel free to come and say hello as I will be there all day.
It’s nearly April..
Where is this year going?
I have been flat out with the day job now due to staff sickness I have been working 10-11 hour days and trying to plan my year, I have only shot one portrait for my ‘Face Behind The Keyboard’ project and its now bugging me! Everyone was telling me my ‘Year Of Black And White’ was going to be hard, but it was very easy compared to this project.
I have a plan for the portraits and most are outside environmental shots and so far we have had lots of rain and I have been busy or my subject has been busy, one portrait in three months is very depressing. I am quite sure by the end of the year I will have shot everyone I need to, I have even planned some of my trips this year to visit some of my friends to shoot their portraits, so hopefully all will be fine in the end.
I have booked up most of my year with talks around the UK and planned what events I am going to shoot as well as planned most of my holidays and breaks, just a few left to organize.
I have stopped doing talks at clubs and events with slide shows. I am using and promoting printing and talking about my images in print, I think it’s more personal and at the end of the day I love to see my work in print and hope that the people that attend my talks will be inspired to print their own work.
In amongst all the chaos I have decided on my 2015 personal project, and can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be a project in black and white about ‘Available Light’. When I first started photography I used flash and fixed lighting and used to love it but now I prefer to use available light. When I say available light that can mean any light I have available, so I am going to have to set myself some rules. I will talk more about this in a future post on the 2015 project.
I am now as you all know a Fujiholic and totally addicted to Fuji Cameras. At the moment I have a large selection of Fuji glass and my main bodies are the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji XPro1. I will be using Fuji for everything I shoot from now on these cameras inspire me to go out and shoot. Fuji are a perfect fit for me.
To answer all the questions I get in the mail, no I don’t work for Fuji and Fuji do not pay me to use or test their products. I just fell in love with their camera systems and love the company and all the Fuji Team are great. I buy all my camera gear from Cambrian Photography in Colwyn Bay North Wales and they can post all over the UK. Sarah Jones is my contact and is always willing to help anyone interested in buying any Fuji gear. She loves Fuji so much she sold herself one!
I have started a few social media groups for Fujiholics. I have been very busy this week but found time to set up a facebook,Google+,Instagram and Twitter accounts for Fujiholics and along with my excellent Admin Team of Professional Photographers, writers and bloggers hope to have so fun with Fuji over the next few years.
Right that’s all I have time for today, must finish my well over due book!
This is not a technical write up, it is simply what I think and feel about the X-T1 and Fuji and the reason I purchased the X-T1 as soon as it was available.
Not long after I had brought the XE2 the X-T1 was announced, I was a little gutted but decided I would stick with the X-E2 and see how things went, having moved over from Nikon Pro gear to Fuji I was actually struggling with the XE2. The sensor is better than the XPro1 and the images were very nice, but the XE2 was just a little too small in my hands and the fact Fuji removed the View Mode button was very annoying. One of the most annoying problems was shooting nighttime at events with a bright viewfinder in my face. Of course I could have just taped the sensor up to keep the EVF lit and not the rear screen but just as I was working on a solution the X-T1 was announced.
The tasters and the reviews on the X-T1 convinced me to sell the XE2.
I shoot street and events. I am shooting Portraits this year and I shoot landscapes for pleasure.
I gave up my Nikon Pro gear in the hope Fuji had the answer to carrying around 20-30 Kilos of gear the X100 got me hooked. The XPro1 is a dream for most situations but unfortunately not events. The viewfinder is a little small even with a +1 diopitor glass, the fps rate is also a little slow and so was the af speed. The write speed was far too slow for live music events. I know I am comparing this amazing camera to my D3s and the plan was to shoot in a different way, but if there was a chance Fuji had made a camera that was as good as a crop sensor DSLR I did not want to miss out.
I was reading the write ups on the net and listening to the guys that had X-T1’s on test from Fuji in my facebook group Fujiholics Anonynous and they were all comparing the X-T1 to full frame DSLRS used for shooting sport ! It was not getting compared to other mirrorless cameras it was getting compared to full frame DSLR’s.
I picked up my X-T1 yesterday from Sarah at Cambrian Photography with the battery grip and the nice free leather case that I will never use! I hardly got to see my own camera as the staff in the shop all wanted to see and hold it, this was great news, if they were that interested it had to be special.
The little leather case BLT-XT1 and blanket (Camera Wrap By Fuji) were great, it was a free gift from Fuji for placing an early order, the case even opens at the bottom to allow access to the battery which is nice little touch, it does not allow access to the card slot now on the site but with a 32gig card I can’t see that as a problem. I also ordered the VG-XT1 Battery grip for shooting portrait and the extra battery capacity is great for long exposures. Some people might think it defeats the object of buying a small camera, but it’s nice to have the option of extra battery power on occasions, for me it will be great for events.
The X-T1 is stunning, yes that’s my first impression, the view finder is massive and bright, the rear tilting screen is a bonus. I have seen so many people putting the tilting screens to great use a events and out in the street I decided a tilting screen was a must have. I love my XPro1 and will not part with it. The rangefinder is not my classic go to street and landscape camera. The X-T1 is my event camera as well as my Portrait camera; of course I will use it for Landscapes as well as soon as I get myself the electronic cable release.
There has been a lot of talk on facebook about button placement, but no one likes change and everyone likes to compare ! So I will compare it to every crop sensor DSLR I have used, this little camera is a game changer. It’s better than any non pro DSLR body I have ever used and its kicking at the heels of the Pro bodies. As I remember my D3s cost me £3999 and its functions are very close behind the D3s for £2999 less ! The af is not as fast as the D3s the high ISO of the D3s can’t be matched by the X-T1 but even the D4 is struggling to do that!
The af speed is the best yet for Fuji and its great in daylight. I have not given it a test at an event yet but my D3s used to struggle to focus at night at events. The write speed on continues shooting is very very good and just firing off a few bursts last night I did not wait for the buffer once and could carry on shooting in bursts, now this is a big plus point for events. The X-T1 with the grip is light and it feels great in the hands, the menus are simple and you can assign most used functions to function buttons and the Q menu is very useful. I am not going to post any images just yet as there are plenty to look at on the internet, but I can tell you the Jpegs look the best yet, I shoot RAW and will be waiting for the lightroom update so will be shooting RAW+Jpeg for a while.
I used to shoot film and this camera reminds me of the Nikon FM2. It feels just great in my hands, I set it up last night and just fell in love with this little Fuji, I also love my Xpro1 so won’t be parting with it any time soon.
My first talk this year on my Year of Black and White was to a local camera club and after showing the guys my Fuji gear one asked if I worked for Fuji ! I guess the passion that Fuji are showing for their amazing cameras and lenses is showing in me. Fuji have changed the way I think about photography and made me more passionate about what I do. Fuji are not only passionate about the cameras but the Fuji staff are excited and passionate about the end users passion. They listen to the feedback on every camera, the staff are on facebook and other social media interacting with photographers, feeding back all the comments to Fuji HQ, the guys at Fuji are pushing forward, they have a fantastic lens road map for 2014/15 and some very exciting cameras in their future plans.
Fuji have changed the way I think about my craft and taken me back over 40 years and made me want to start all over again.They have given me my passion back by putting all the passion they have for photography and film in to these little cameras. At last a company that are doing things for the right reasons and not just mass producing cameras for profit.
I have been so impressed by what Fuji have managed to do this year and can’t wait to see what they bring out in the future..
Face Behind The Keyboard is my 2014 personal project, it’s all about taking me out of my comfort zone and also quite a lot of my subjects to !
I have been thinking about this project for a while, it’s been quite hard for me to decide which way to go with my portrait project in 2014 but in the end I was inspired by a very very close friend who I did not meet in the flesh ! Her name was Lynette, we became friends on the internet on Dontstayin.com and then on facbook, we spoke nearly every day for many years and had a very close friendship. Unfortunately Lyn died in tragic circumstances, this was a huge shock for me and even though I was welcomed with open arms to her funeral by her family, I could not go! Having a virtual best friend you had never met who died was quite hard to deal with. I think about her all the time, and always wish we could have met just once!
Also every one that does not know I met Jane on what was Face-Pic, Jane was one of the only people on Face-Pic without a profile photo! Long story.
The internet is a strange place, it’s amazing how we can think and feel and fall in love without meeting any one in person! Some people remain faceless even to this day on facebook. This is my inspiration for the 2014 project as it will help me to meet some of you guys just once in the flesh and put a person to a profile !
I know a lot of Photographers myself included that hate having their photo taken and there are quite a few shy people around, believe it or not, myself included! But I feel quite safe behind the camera!
My project with commence on the 1st of January 2014 and finish on the 31st December 2014, I think it will follow on very nicely from my 2013 project, my year of black and white.
I aim to shoot the whole project with Fuji X camera systems, I have a few ideas for a few of my friends, but don’t worry nothing too radical!
If you want to join in and take part you can, if you are one of my social media friends on any platform and you want to meet up and have your portrait shot then get in touch by e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or through one of the social media platforms. I can’t include you all and I can’t travel the world, but if you are visiting the UK in 2014 then get in touch and I will see what I can do.
This project is no doubt going to be a very emotional one on so many levels, one life live it, capture it !
What can I say about my year of black and white! It was quite an easy project to be honest, a lot easier than I first thought! There were a couple of times I wish I could have posted some great colour images but not many. I did miss a few sunsets in 2013, well if I am perfectly honest I missed a lot of sunsets in 2013, I also did not shoot a lot of images in autumn and Christmas has been a little quiet on the photography front. But apart from that the year has been good.
I started out with my monitors set to black and white, but this only lasted a month! I could not cope with trying to work out the tones with my eye sight on the back of the camera in the field. I have also grown up shooting film and I did this without a view monitor on the back of my camera. I guess growing up shooting black and white you learn to see the tones of the colour image in your mind’s eye and you have an idea of what a final image will look like after editing. So the cameras got set to standard colour RAW.
The next issue that happened in my project was the X100 came in to my workflow and threw a great big spanner in the Nikon works. I started shooting with the X100 and its files were just the most perfect files I have ever seen for black and white. My favorite Nikon Body for black and white was the D200 this old Nikon body was just so good at producing a RAW file for black and white. But the X100 was better ! I started to use the X100 more and more and in the end I sold my D200 and my D7000 because I was only using the D3s and the X100. I thought these two cameras were just perfect for black and white and for my future projects. But then it all changed again! I found myself not using the D3s and having 30k in Pro DSLR gear laying about not earning its keep was bugging me! But the X100 could not replace a D3s ! So I went out and brought myself an XPro1 with a couple of lenses from Cambrian Photography. I was shooting the Liverpool International Music Festival at the time and took the Xpro1 along to give it a try ! It was slow and not a DSLR and I was not sure what to do, but after a while I decided I quite liked the way it made me think ! I was shooting with the pack with the D3s and when I got back home all my images shot on the D3s were the same as the rest of the Press Pack. Mine stood out only because they were black and white. But the few shots I got on the XPro1 that day had a little more thought go in to them. That was it I decided to sell all my Nikon DSLR gear and move over to Fuji Mirrorless ! This is a big leap and a leap of faith in my ability to make this system work for me in 2014 ! I have now got a Xpro1 and an XE-2 with almost all the lenses Fuji make. So this is one of the biggest changes that has come from my black and white year! I am now a Fujiholic ! Totally addicted to Fuji cameras, the build quality is amazing and the lenses are stunning, I am in the process of adapting the way I work to fit in with the camera system, it’s a very steep learning curve but I am getting there !
My black and white year has also taught me to slow down and think, to take my time, to wait and to shoot less! I am not a great memory muncher any way to be honest, but my black and white year has made me shoot less and this is a good thing when it comes to editing ! I now have more time shooting and less time editing.
I have tried to shoot Jpeg with the Fuji’s as others do but for me it’s just not working for me !
I have been asked over two thousand times this year how I process my black and white and what pre sets and actions I use! Well the secret is, there are no actions and no pre sets ! I shoot the image and have a plan in my head already for how I want this image to look when processed. So after downloading the memory card I import straight in to Lightroom 5.3, then I open the image in Lightroom and clone out any dust and marks as well as birds and crisp packets etc I check the image at 100% and also check for sharpness and camera shake. There are the odd occasions I have to go in to Photoshop to use content aware clone but very rarely these days. I then open the image in Silver Efex Pro 2 and convert it to black and white. I then use the sliders to give the image the look and feel I am after and this is how I first visualized it when I shot it ! There have been many times at this stage the image is rejected ! I just don’t like the look and feel. I then gets left on the hard drive to have a look at later in Colour ! When I made all the changes I need in Silver Efex I then import it back in to Lightroom for some final tweaks before exporting as Jpeg. I start every black and white image from scratch so sorry guys there are not actions to share or presets to share. I can’t show you all how I process my images because every image is different. I have however found a new way to process Colour so in 2014 I will be using the same method I use on my black and white images to make Colour images.
I have always hated Colour images and struggled for years with colour film ! I only ever processed Colour transparency film. I was late to Digital and have never been a fan of colour digital, until switching over to Fuji and now at last its growing on me, there is something about the Fuji Sensor and the way the camera processes the images that has made me want to explore colour !
So will I stop shooting Black and White in 2014 ? No, is the simple answer! I will probably shoot 90% black and white and 10% colour, black and white is my passion and always will be.
So my black and white year has made me move over to Fuji, I don’t think this would have happened if I had just carried on as I was, so that is one thing to thank this project for.
I have learnt a new way to shoot colour and discovered also that the Fuji cameras give me a RAW file that more suites my needs as a photographer and hopefully not only does it make my Black and White images stand out from the crowd but next year it might even make my colour images stand out from the crowed!
I have had some great feedback and interest on my black and white project and learnt a hell of a lot about myself that I want put in to words in a blog post, I can recommend a year of black and white to any one so why not start one in 2014 !
If you have any questions about my year of black and white or my change over to Fuji then please get in touch.
What can I say! Street shooting and Fuji go hand in hand, I lost my confidence shooting street years ago when digital first came out, everyone looks at you when you have a DSLR and even worse when you have a D3s hanging round your neck or any pro body DSLR ! I used to get asked quite a lot was I press and what was I shooting! I just got fed up with trying to explain myself. I like to shoot up close with short and wide primes, but in the end to get a more candid shot with a DSLR I had to start shooting with 300mm Prime or 70-200mm Zoom and it was driving me mad.
The DSLR and 300mm Prime worked very well for my event work, shooting up from the pit to the stage or walking around fields or events I could just pick my shots, it all works very well in the event environment but I was never very happy shooting street shots with a 300mm lens.
I have watched a few YouTube clips on different styles of Street Photography and I think mine is somewhere in the middle. I like to talk to some people and engage with them, sometimes we swap details and I send them a few images or give them a business card. Other times I like to include them in the shot but without them knowing what I am up to, the XF14mm Fuji lens is great for that, you can just pretend to shoot a wall and capture a person or people in the very wide view.
Using a DSLR for years I have never realized how great the rear screen in live view for composing street shots is on these little cameras!
As soon as you put your eye to a camera everyone knows you are about to shoot! But looking at the rear screen people take no notice of you! I noticed this with my i phone you can use your phone all the time and no one takes any notice, you are not a photographer with a phone, it’s just a phone, I am quite sure half the time people don’t even realize people are taking shots with a phone, most of the time you can pretend you are texting and shoot what you like.
I was very unhappy with one aspect of the XE2 when it first came out, I am hoping Fuji will correct with the first firmware update, that is the fact you can’t view and review with the EVF only. But yesterday it made me use the rear monitor by accident. I was struggling to get the angles on the shots I wanted due to the amount of people in the city so in the end I was using the rear screen and the fantastic zoom feature found by pressing the scroll wheel! I could check focus and shoot without lifting the camera to my eye, not something I thought about with a DSLR but it’s great to have this feature on a camera.
I was watching another guy walking around with his camera resting over his arm and trying to work out what he was up to, in the end I walked up to him to be nosey ! He had a tilt screen and was using his arm to steady his camera as he shot candid portraits from waist level. I have to admit I did think that was great.
I did take my XPro1 with me and have included an image at the bottom of this post with a shot through the XF35mm lens, I love both cameras it’s very hard for me to say what one I like the most they both have little features that make me smile, the XPro1 feels more like a camera than the XE2 and I do prefer the XPro1 in my hands, but the XE2 is growing on me.
I have had a few messages from people moving over from a DSLR to one of the Fuji cameras and one of the biggest problems they have is how the camera feels and looks in their hands. I fully understand this problem, I went from a Nikon D3s to the XPro1 and that is one hell of a size jump. But once you realize that size does not matter it’s what you do with it !!! (Sorry had to be said ) Then you can move forward and to be honest the Fuji sensor is so good, who cares if the camera feels a bit like a toy.
I had a great time at the Liverpool Christmas Market, it was very busy so will have to have a return trip. It’s the famous Santa Dash this weekend So 10,000 Santa’s shopping and staying in the city over night does not help. I can’t shoot the Santa’s this year as black and white won’t work with blue and red Santa’s and all the other colours I have seen , so going to give it a miss this year. Next year I will hopefully be shooting it with the XPro2 so will have some brightly coloured Santa images for you.
One last thought for every one shooting Christmas Markets, the feedback I got from the stall holders was that they have never seen any images that get shot of them, they say they have thousands of photographers pointing cameras in their faces every day and although very nice they would love to see some of the images! So drop them a card or even a print if you have time. We might think we are the only ones taking a shot but some days they have more Photographers than they do customers! Have fun…
I was going to wait for the XPro2 to arrive at some point next year, but just could not wait! I needed a back up camera for my XPro1 and when the XE2 came out, it just looked so good. I hear a rumor the XPro2 will be weather sealed, this is great news. I know everyone else would like a full frame model but this would impact on my investment in Fujinon lenses, so hope the XPro2 is still a crop sensor.
I decided to have a look around at some of the early images posted by Kevin Mullins and some of the other Fuji guys and decided I had to have one, so put my order in to Cambrian Photography in Wales, so a big thank you to Sarah, only a three day wait for a new camera was well worth it. If you live in the North West or North Wales I can recommend a trip to Cambrian Photography! The place is just full of great camera gear and they have a great coffee shop across the road and fish and chip shop close by! But be warned they have most of what you want on the shelf and in stock so take your credit card!!
I decided to give the XE2 a day out at Chester Zoo, a little strange you might think for a mirror less camera that is supposed to be slow! You could be right, but I am going to be shooting events in some low light situations in 2014 and need to see what this little camera can do. I opted to try the Fujinon 55-200mm 3.5-4.8 lens, the main reason for this was my preferred set up in 2013 was a 300mm 2.8 Sigma on a Nikon D3s so I wanted to see what I would be missing and how well the XE2 would cope !
I was not putting the XE2 up against the D3s just wanted to know how differently I will have to work next year, I did however get a good feel of the XE2 as compared to the XPro1 and now know how I will have to set myself up for my first event.
The XE2 has lost the View Mode button in to the menu’s this is the only annoying thing I found about the XE2 over the Xpro1. You can’t shoot and review the images on the rear screen using the EVF only! You can review the images in the EVF but the main reason I use the rear screen is to check focus, so this is very annoying, hopefully Fuji will fix this in a future update. One thing I do like is the fact you can now Zoom in to the image on the rear screen and the EVF to check focus and you can assign this to a function button, this is a welcome update.
I can tell you all that the focus is faster and the time lag on the shutter button is so much better than the Xpro1, I can’t compare it to the XE1 as I have not owned one.
I was shooing in the Zoo on an overcast cloudy day in very low fading light, so I set the XE2 to Auto ISO letting the camera sort out the ISO whilst I sorted out the Aperture and Shutter Speed.
I have got to say I was very impressed with the XE2 and the 55-200mm lens, it’s a strange combination, the lens is quite big for the body so it’s all out of balance but it does not take too long to get used to the set up, you can shoot with this set up all day without getting arm and shoulder ache, for me that’s a bonus. It’s not a D3s with a huge fast prime but in low light my D3s used to struggle to focus. The XE2 is not as fast as the D3s but its only fractions of a second off the focus and in some cases it might find focus when the Nikon cant, so that will be interesting at an event ! It’s a lot faster than the XPro1, so that’s a positive step in the right direction. The image stabilization on the 55-200mm is amazing! When I first put the lens on the XE2 with OIS turned off I thought I had made a big mistake and wasted my money on this lens, but when you turn on the OIS the lens is a different beast! I would say the OIS is stunning! I was shocked at how quiet and stable it made the lens, so much so that you can shoot at quite low shutter speeds and still have sharp images from this set up.
I have to say the light faded very quickly so the XE2 was put under a lot of pressure for its first time out of the box, I was not expecting a lot and due to the fact I set it up to EVF only, I did not have a chance to review my shots until I got home. When I did see the results I was happy! More than happy!
Last year in Applecross Scotland I had an Otter follow me along the shore line and only having my X100 with me I could not get the shot, I was annoyed with myself for not bringing my D3s out that day, but at the same time I was happy not to have to carry all that gear with me ! That day and my event work was the reason I decided to buy this 55-200mm lens, it’s not as good as a fast prime but I am quite sure that when Fuji do bring out some fast prime telephotos or zooms they will be very impressive.
I am not going to go in to the technical side of the Fuji XE2 or the XPro1, there are plenty of places for that on the web for that, but I will say I am so glad I sold all my Nikon Pro gear and went over to Fuji. Size and weight alone is a big reason, the Fuji crop sensors are stunning, I have used most of the Nikon crop sensor cameras and I can tell you they do not come close to the sensor in the Fuji X series! You can crop the hell out of the Fuji image and even at 100% crop have a great image. I don’t often, if at all crop my images, but for the people that do this is the sensor for cropping.
The day Fuji bring out a Full frame sensor if they do, I think they will cause quite a stir in the photography world, to be honest I am happy with the crop sensor and not sure I need to go back to full frame, I did say to myself that if I needed to go full frame after selling all my Nikon gear I would just hire it for the job, but so far I have just shot everything slightly differently.
I have some spare time next Friday to get back to Chester Zoo, so will give the XE2 a bit more of a test and try to get some movement for you, I always find the winter is a good time, as they Cats are a lot more active in the cold than lazing around in the summer sun.
The one surprise of the day was the tiger cub image at the top of this post, it was shot at 200mm (300mm 35mm EQ) ISO 6400 1/100 sec. f/4.8 I have got to say I was not expecting that !
I am defiantly looking forward to my next year’s project now using only a couple of Fuji cameras and can’t wait to what they can do at events.