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Work Rest and Play

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Canon G7X

I guess we all struggle to get the work life balance right and being a full time self employed Photographer the work life balance can go right out of the window ! I have always had a big problem saying no to work and this year has been no exception. I expected after finishing working with Fujifilm UK in February things would go quiet and I could look forward to just planning my own workshops and time away for Jane and I.    I soon worked out its not quite that simple. The downside to our lifestyle at the moment is Jane works for the NHS and has mostly weekends off and I work most weekends so we don’t see much of each other at times, so we get used to quite a lot of time apart.

The long term plan is now starting to fall in to place even though there is hardly any free time on this years year planner at the moment. I have now finished my Wex Photographic 2018 commitment and at last I am free to start planning 2019. I will still take on the odd days from some of the big companies like Wex and some of the other great shops like Wilkinsons, just not as many days as before.

It was mentioned a few times on Social media this week that I had moved over to work with Canon now I had left Fujifilm.  I will put the record straight right here and now, I am not with Canon. This October I plan to be semi-retired so I will not be signing any contracts with anyone. I am still involved with Gnarbox as the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team but my commitment to the team is minimal and also fits in very nicely with my future travel plans so will not hold me back from my work life balance goals.

If you read my blog you will know that I bought the Canon G7x because my Fujifilm Cameras got locked in the Wex Glasgow store by accident a few weeks back and I needed to get a camera from Argos early on a Sunday morning so it was an impulse purchase but has turned out to be one of the best little pocket cameras I have ever owned.  The sensor is only one inch so its not as good as my Fujifilm X Series cameras but with its 24-100mm Equivalent  fast Zoom its so much better than my iphone as an every day pocket camera.

I work most weeks teaching with the Fujifilm X100F and the X70 and these are just the best tools for me teaching Street Photography. When I go off on Landscape Trips or teach Landscape I take the GFX System as that is the right tool for me for Landscapes and I also have the XPro2 for Street and Landscape with a selection of lenses.

I do have a few Canon Cameras and these are all for Shooting Video and they are the C100mk2 the 200D and the 5DMK4 and and a selection of lenses. I have some future Film plans and needed a camera system that was tried and tested.

The beauty of not having a contract with any brand is that I don’t have to stick to one set of tools and can use the best tools for the job ! Fujifilm make the cameras I need for all my Stills work and Canon for my Video the little G7x is just an exception to the rule, its great for video but also just so much fun to take stills with.

This weekend I got a very rare chance to get away in my Camper with Jane for a couple of days and decided not to take any camera gear. I did however take the G7x with me as a back up to my iphone ! Its light, fits in my pocket and the battery lasts all day and even if I do need to charge it I can just plug it in my powerbank !

This weekend was a time to reflect and its great to find a campsite that has no phone reception to get away from it all for a couple of days. We love Cae Du Campsite its just one of the most quiet and peaceful sites in Wales and perfect to get away from it all. I have a long term and short term plan and at times in this job you just cant see the wood for the trees. I have now had time to reflect and put the next four years in to some order.

My new workshops are online here and I will be putting a few more online over the next few months, these will be workshops I have designed to help people who already know how to use a camera, to discover more about the art of taking pictures.

I also have a new business plan that will come in to action next March at my end of year, so all going well I should have lots more time to do what I want to do and that is travel and explore with Jane. This will at last redress my work life balance ! I hope.

I will leave you with a few images taken over the weekend with the little Canon G7X in and around Beddgellert.

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GFX50s C mode.

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GFX50s GF23mm ISO100 1/13sec f/16 Lee 0.9 Med Grad

I guess I have fallen in love with this camera, it blows me away every time I use it and to think I left it so long before I invested ! I have always secretly wanted to get a medium format camera but I never really had the need for it or a business case to buy it, as I said in my previous post about the GFX I just decided to buy it as an early retirement present to myself, not that photographers ever really retire.

I have three projects to shoot with the GFX this year as well as getting back in to Landscape photography and this is the perfect tool for the job.

Three of the projects I am involved with will include really large prints and even though the other X Series cameras are capable of large prints they cant hold the detail as well as a bloody great images sensor in a medium format camera.

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GFX50S GF23mm ISO100 1/5 sec f/16 Lee 0.9 Med Grad

One amazing thing about the GFX is the ability to switch it to C Mode once the Lens is set to C and the ISO dial is set to C and the shutter speed dial is set to T the camera is in Command mode and the back and front Command dials act as a DSLRs command diles do and control the Speed and Aperture. Also if you push the front command dial you can then alter the ISO so this puts the Exposure Triangle at your fingertips.

The command mode gives you the control you need to dial in the exposure you require for LE Photography ( Long Exposure ).

The old way was to take and exposure and then calculate the filter factor with the current exposure time to give you the time it would take to make the exposure. Well that all just changed the GFX50s can’t do a timed exposure up to 60 minutes on its own.

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GFX50s GF23mm ISO100 12 sec f/8 Lee IRND 15 Stop Lee 0.9 Med Grad

Let me explain, you set up the shot focus the lens then set the lens to M to prevent it from re focusing when you press the shutter. Then you simply place the filter you require like the Lee 15 Stop in the holder and adjust the Aperture do the desired depth of field. Then you move the shutter speed all the way until the camera meters for the sceen through the filter. Once you set you then just set the self timer in the Q Menu to 2 seconds to prevent camera shake and make your exposure. You don’t even need a cable release so that’s one thing less to blow around in the wind.

This function alone as made my whole life so much easier and considering the GFX is about the same size as a D800 and my Landscape kit now consists of one camera and three lenses I am really happy. I use the GF23mm GF32-64mm and the GF110mm and this little lot is quite a light lighter than the Nikon D3s and pro lenses I used to carry and the images from the GFX are outstanding as it the dynamic range.

Right I best get back to wales and see what else this thing can do.

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GFX50s GF23mm ISO100 240 sec f/16 Lee 15 Stop Lee 0.6 Med Grad 

Colour

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2017 has been my year of Colour project and it’s not over yet !

It finishes on the 31st of December and I cant wait, I have only taken a hand full of black and white images and they were taken over the last month or so. I feel like a sprinter stuck in the starting blocks for 9 months ! I think in a way it’s a good thing as I am bursting with black and white creativity I want to get out of my system.

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As for colour ! I never really have liked colour and on my recent trip to Scotland I had some time stuck in my camper on the really bad weather days to reflect on the Year of Colour project so far. I started the year hating colour and I will be ending the year really hating color !  I was hoping to come out of this year with a colour style as well as more understanding of colour. I do have a better understanding but the colour style is a sticking point.

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I understand that every day light is diferent and even the weather the light and the time of day has a bearing on the scene, so shooting on Auto colour balance will give you a neutral look but it won’t give you the consistency within the dynamic range.

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XT20 16mm 3 shot Pano 

I am a very lazy editor and only want to spend 3-6 min per image in Lightroom or Snapseed and one thing I know I should like but don’t is presets ! I don’t understand why I don’t like them I just don’t and I think the only way I could get colour consistency and style would be to start making presents.  The downside to presets for me is the fact I use quite a few diferent camera bodies with different sensors so I would have to make a preset for each sensor and I really get fed up when the preset makes all the wrong changes and I then have to spend longer fixing the issue. So I don’t use presents and I don’t think I want to !

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My black and white work for the last 10 years has all been without a single preset and just processed by eye, it’s all very consistent and apart from the blacks getting deeper with the mood of the scene or my mood they just seem to work !

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I am not sure I will pursue colour in to 2018 but if I do I think I need to start to learn Colour Grading for Style ! The downside to this is every film ever made is colour graded for that style of film ! So for me to colour grade and try and find a unique colour style is a pain in the arse ! It used to be so much easier with Film !

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You might have noticed there were quite a few rainbows in Scotland this month !

I have just sold quite a few cameras and lenses and started to reduce my Fujifilm kit to make way for possibly the GFX50s but am still deciding. However I have now brought an XT20 and sold my X-T2. The X-T2 was great but I just do not need it anymore because I am stopping shooting events. The X100F and the X-T20 and the XPro2 work so well together and do have more consistency as they all have the same sensor so I might look in to Colour Style over the next three months and give you more details at the end of the project. I know this combination of cameras works so who knows.

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Fujifilm X-T20 16mm

I do feel at the moment I will be returning to Black and White next year, but we shall see.

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X100F v XPro2

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I get asked quite a lot “what is best the X100F or the Xpro2 ?” I always find this an interesting question because I don’t quite know why I am being asked the question !

I dont think people want to know what camera I prefer, I think they want to know what one I would recommend they buy ! To find out what would be the best camera for the other person I would need to know so much more about them and their photography. So I will answer this question as if it was directed to me.

I am not that worried about the bells and whistles that are thrown at modern cameras I just want the exposure triangle on the outside of the camera and I want to be able to use it quickly without putting too much thought in to it or digging into the menus.

I do love the rangefinder style because I am a right eye shooter, so with the rangefinder my nose is not squashed on the back of the camera and 9 times out of 10 no one knows where you are pointing a rangefinder !

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I am also not that worried about the viewfinder or the rear screen as I need glasses these days for close up work so don’t spend a lot of time using either. If I do use the viewfinder or rear screen it’s just to compose the image so it can be all blurry as long as I can see the composition.

The main difference between the X100F and the XPro2 is the fact it has interchangeable lenses and in all honesty this is the one deciding factor the rest is almost irrelevant.

But I am lucky as I have both cameras.

One thing I must point out is that for Event work I also use the Fujifilm X-T2 and the main reason is for balance  the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 and battery grip with extra battery capacity for a long day shooting is just perfect. I will still use the X100F and XPro2 on the day just to have a variety of lenses with me at all times within easy reach.

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At the moment when I am teaching Street photography I just use the X100F.

When I am out shooting in the UK on my own at the moment I use two X100F bodies, one with the fixed 23mm and one with the Fujifilm WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens.

The XPro2 stays at home, so in a way I have answered the question.

I moved away from Nikon to be able to lighten my load and enjoy my day out shooting and over the last 6 years I have only used the Fujifilm system and got to know it very well. In that time the X100 has come a long way and the X100F is now everything I need in an everyday camera for shooting Street, its got a great sensor and exposure triangle on top and the autofocus is now as fast as I need it to be. I used to Zone focus the X100 and X100s and even the X100T to get the results I needed but the X100F has such a great AF system I dont need to use Zone focus for anything anymore. I guess the only time would be in low light or awkward situations and in that case I would just switch to M and back button focus.

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When out shooting Street my only consideration now is, is it moving if so switch to C (continuous AF) is is stationary switch to S (single AF)

I like the camera to do all the work for me so I set the camera in to Auto ISO with the following settings – Default Sensitivity 200, Max.Sensitivity 6400, Min. Shutter Speed 1/250 sec.

This set up is basically the same for the X100F and the XPro2 except I alter the Min Shutter speed to suit the lens I have on the camera for the XPro2.

For me the X100F is my Desert Island camera, and this camera now goes with me everywhere I go its the first camera I pack for any trip. One great thing about a fixed lens camera is the fact there is no sensor cleaning so that is a big bonus.

I have adapted the way I shoot to suit the X100F and I think this is important, I see so many people moaning online about the fact a camera has not go this or it has not got that and the biggest moan about the X100F is the fact it does not have a tilting screen ! When it first came out I even thought thats a shame, after using the X70 and all the others with tilting screens I did wonder but now I get it. Why do we keep wanting more and more and more this is why the DSLR’s got so big ! besides the XPro2 does not have a tilting screen.

I love the freedom of the X100F and if I have to pick one camera from the Fujifilm range this would be it.

So what about the Xpro2 ? Its water resistant and it is slightly faster on  AF and it has interchangeable lenses, so it’s far better than the X100F and if I travel anywhere out of the UK it comes with me, also for assignments I use the X100F and the XPro2 with a longer lens on to give me something wide and something long to be able to capture the moment no matter where it happens.

I love my XPro2 and in the Fujifilm range it comes up as my favorite camera but it also annoys me because it gives me lens choice ! The Fujifilm lenses are all so good you then end up taking the XPro2 and 3 or 4 lenses with you and you only ever use one ! So it puts more weight in your bag is counter productive.

The XPro2 is perfect for travel and perfect for assignments and just about anything but when it comes down what one I prefer based on weight, size, portability etc the X100F wins hands down.

We all want diferent things from our cameras and Fujifilm have an amazing range of bodies and lenses now and I love to use them all but the X100F is still my desert Island Camera.

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Photowalks 2017

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Here we go again, another year of Photo Walks.  This year I will be leading four Fujiholics Photowalks. The Liverpool walk has already taken place but Bristol, Edinburgh and London are still up for grabs.

I would like everyone to know that you can bring any make of camera with you and that includes smart phones. You can also come without a camera just for a day out.  It’s all about like minded people getting together to have a great day out and to share ideas and meet new people.

The walks are free to sign up to, I only ask that if you sign up then change your mind, please follow the link from your Eventbrite confirmation email to remove yourself so other people can sign up as numbers are limited.

So far this year London is in the lead with 280 people signed up.

We would like to see more families and children on the walks and would like you all to know that kids are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Why not bring them to London and make a weekend of it.  They can use their phones or even buy them a throw away camera.

Photowalks are great, I have met friends for life on the walks and also made some amazing business contacts. They are a great way to explore our cities on foot with a great bunch of people.

A route and map is emailed out to everyone that signs up approx 1 week before the event to download to your smartphone or gps device or you can print out the map. You don’t have to keep up with the guys at the front as we tweet our location throughout the day and use a unique hashtag for the day. You can stop for refreshments along the way or even a cold beer and then catch up a bit later by taking a shortcut using the tube.

In London this year we have the Fujiholics Team and a few other Pro Photographers as well as some retailers so hope to bring you a few offers for the day. There will be quite a few Fujifilm X Photographers and Ambassadors about as well. The Fujiholics Team really do make you all feel welcome.

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I would love to see as many of you guys on one of the walks this year, the last three walks are spread out all over the UK so feel free to come and join us.

Here are the links to the walks..

Bristol

Edinburgh

London

If you want to buy cheap train tickets then here is a link to sign up to The Train Line ticket alert.

If you need to know any more details then feel free to contact us info@fujiholics.com or matt@fujiholics.com

Hope to see you sometime in 2017…

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Venice X100F

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I was last in Venice with the Fujifilm XPro1 back in 2013 and have been missing it like crazy for the last four years. I have just got back from Venice with Paul to run a Fujiholics workshop. The weather was a mixed bag but Venice gets so busy it is always at its best out of season.  My favorite times of the year are October, late February or early March.

I took with me the X100F, XPro2, XT2 and will write about the others when I get time after TPS and probably next month.

I decided to just use the X100F with Jpegs only as part of my 2017 Year of Colour, forcing myself to just use Jpegs with no RAW backup was the name of the game. So I set the camera to Image Quality Fine, Film Simulation Velvia, Dynamic Range 200, White Balance Auto, Highlight Tone -1 and Shadow Tone +1 to start off with.

I was editing the images out in Venice on the Ipad Pro with Snapseed and as part of this process in the end decided to set the Highlight and Shadow tones back to 0 for now and just make the changes in Snapseed. I have always wanted to be able to process very quickly so making changes in camera confuses me at times because I find myself undoing the changes I made in camera at the processing stage.

I must point out all the images in this blog are shot on a preproduction X100F.

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Even though I am a Candid Street Photographer I have included a few other images here from my trip.  Venice is an amazing place for photography. I have never seen so many cameras in all my life as I did on this trip but that was probably down to the fact the carnival was just finishing as the workshop started. There are some seriously big back packs around in those small alleys thats for sure !

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X100F ISO 800 1/640 sec f/4
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X100F ISO 3200 1/4000 sec f/4

The only downside to this time of year is the ever changing light, even though the colours don’t have quite the same depth and beauty in the shade or shadow, I do like the way the X100F handles the fast changes with the Auto ISO, I know most people are scared to ramp up the ISO but I haven’t ever worried about this and set mine to Auto with the base at 200 ISO and the Max at 6400 ISO. I know you can ramp it up to 12800 but there was no need during the day. I do prefer what you see is what you get and if it’s dull its dull, you can’t have great weather and images all the time. This is the down side to colour photography and this is a great learning curve for me on my Year of Colour.

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X100F ISO 4000 1/4000 sec f/4

I used to shoot manual all the time but for Street I prefer aperture priority. That way I can just get on and shoot and not have to worry too much about the camera settings. I do switch back to manual when I have more time on my hands to think and compose.

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I do quite like breaking the rules and playing around with camera settings when I get a new camera. It is always interesting to see how the combinations of ISO and shutter speed affect the tones in the images. I have to know what I can get away with in what light and at what speed.

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X100F ISO 3200 1/250 sec f/4
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Venice is an amazing place and feels so safe to wonder about day or night, so it’s a great place to walk around with your camera. I caught the last few days of the carnival so managed to capture a few of the interesting characters. I have to say I love the X100F, it’s a great upgrade from the X100T and the sensor is stunning.  The lens is a little soft at f/2 as it was on the X100T but I shoot most of my work around f/4 anyway these days so its not a big issue for me. Its great to now have a battery that lasts most of the day, but that was also not much of an issue for me on the X100t once you realise your camera’s limits you can compensate yourself. I used to carry 3 batteries for my X100T and for the X100F I carry two.

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X100F ISO 6400 1/800 sec f/4
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I do like the way all Fujifilm cameras handle colour and black and white. I used to shoot Nikon and it was a real pain in the bum trying to get Nikon RAW files to look the way I wanted in colour and the Jpegs were worse. The images in this blog are all Jpegs and only had Lightroom cc edits and most of them have had only slight changes with a crop or minor contrast of clarity changes. I can’t bring myself yet to just use out of camera jpegs due to the fact I need a colour style and that is what 2017 is all about. I do however think if you just take images for you and you dont need a style then you could just set the camera up to shoot Jpeg and with a few changes in the settings you would not need to process the images and you could just use the Jpegs with no editing and this is amazing ! In the days of social media you can just wifi the Jpegs from camera on the fly and you are done. The X100F is just perfect to carry in your pocket everywhere you go and makes a great street travel camera.

With its fixed lens you have no worries about sensor cleaning and if you wanted to, you could add the conversion lenses to your collection and still not have sensor dust issues.

With the addition of the Digital Zoom this is a serious amount of reach for a pocket camera, the TCL-X100 Converter will give you 50mm, 72mm, and 100mm reach.

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X100F Touch and Try

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Wow what a great six days ! 124,000 steps around some amazing cities with the amazing Fujifilm X100F.

We Started in Leeds and ended in Liverpool. We went to Dale Photographic, Calumet, Wilkinsons,Cambrian and LCE. We carried 8 X100F bodies and a small team from Fujifilm UK Richard, Pete and the amazing John Dallas.

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We ran three walks a day with three groups of up to 8 people on each session over six days and covered some serious miles.

The feedback on the X100F has been very positive and that has reflected  in the amazing amount of Pre Orders.

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Most of the guys that came on the walks loved the X100F and think its a good move to sell their X100 X100S of X100T’s to move up to the Fourth Generation camera. Just incase you did not know the F in X100F stands for Fourth. A few of the guys were undecided about the X100F but were very interested in the X-T20 or the X-T2 one of the guys was desperate for the GFX50S.

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There were a quite a few of the guys that did not like the placing of the Q button and the fact you could knock the joystick. This was mentioned by quite a few of the Fujifilm X Photographers when the camera was out on evaluation.  We will feed back the Q button issue to Fujifilm and hope they can make the change on the next version. The Q button can be locked by pressing and holding the Menu OK button but this will lock all the function buttons.  Some of the guys did not like the fact the joystick would rub against their clothing and get moved, however the Joystick can be turned off by pressing and holding it down for more than 3 sec.

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Its been a long six days and I am worn out now and need a nice break so will be hiding out in my camper van this weekend somewhere quiet. One thing that always amazes me about the Fujifilm family is what an amazing group of people you Fujifilm users are, so friendly and positive about the brand.

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Thanks for the great company over the last week all you lucky winners and I hope you enjoy your x100F when it is released on the 23rd of February. Thanks for traveling from as far as Oban and Birmingham to spend a couple of hours with the X100F in the North West and North Wales and making  the last six days so much fun. You know who you are and thanks…..

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