I have been a black and white Photographer for most of my life. From a very early age nearly 50 years ago I have been shooting black and white and I guess growing up watching a black and white TV, I learned from an early age to see the world in texture and tone, light and shade and also to work with light.
I did use Ektachrome for a while but not for long as I preferred black and white for story telling as I found colour to distracting.
When I moved from Film to Digital the sensors were so bad colour was a nightmare, sensor noise was so bad it made all images far to dark, so I guess I just gave up trying to work with Colour. On a fantastic day with great light it was easy but on a flat day with little or no light unless you had an expert knowledge of lighting it was almost impossible to get consistency.
I tried to shoot JPEG in the early days of Digital but gave up there was not enough latitude to get the full range of tones I required for my work. In fact it was not until around 2013 whilst doing my year of black and white project did I find a way to produce digital black and white images I was happy with.
I have never been a fan of sitting in front of a computer and editing. In the film days I would only print my best work so possibly one or two shots from a roll of film for personal work. So spending more time on digital editing drove me nuts. There is more to life than bing sat in doors.
There is a big wide world out there waiting to be photographed and I wanted to be out there in the fresh air and not stuck indoors. I had quite a lot of flack in the early days and was called a Photoshop Hater but that’s was so far from the truth. I use Lightroom because it was for me the fastest way from A-B. I am Dyslexic so Lightroom made more sense to me than Photoshop, so that what I used.
I was a RAW shooter and every time I tried to find a style or a way to shoot and process Colour images I gave up. It was just ridiculous the amount of time you had to spend in Lightroom or Photoshop to get consistency in your work when using colour.
Kevin Mullins decided once he started using the Fujifilm System to shoot JPEG and created his own style in this way. I did try it but gave up because it just did not work for my Black and White image style. I like my blacks to be black and my Whites White and all the other tones across the range. You could not get this from a JPEG because you had to spend more time undoing what the camera had done. I could process a Black and White image in a couple of minutes from RAW but it was five to ten minute from JPEG.
I can shoot black and white in any light and process very quickly in a very short amount of time and even though I have dabbled in Colour its never really appealed to me until now.
Why ? Well I have retired now so have no reason to have clients wanting all different colour profiles and I used to get fed up using colour charts and profiles to keep clients happy. Now I can explore colour and try and find a style that works for me and even better I have no deadlines so can just shoot colour on days when there is perfect light.
I cant explain in this blog what perfect light is because its probably subjective, but perfect light to me is light that produces an image I hardly have to edit. Its mainly golden hour light, or that magic light you get just after a rainstorm or thunderstorm or that crazy light you get just before a storm.
I used great light in my black and white images at times but most of my black and white work was shot on very overcast days, or in very high contrast light.
My new love for Colour stems from great light and has come about by using my iphone ! I have tried Nikon and Canon RAW’s and JPEGs and nothing works for me without extended processing times. The images out of an iPhone need very little if any processing. I have not picked up my Fujifilm cameras in probably 18 months and when I do if they cant produce JPEG images like the iphone I might have to have a rethink ! I very much expect I will find a way but for now I am just going to work with my iphone and explore colour from there.
Its amazing how having a Stroke and being restricted in a few ways has allowed be to develop some new ideas and ways of working. I am changing my views on the world and on the the photographic process. I want speed and constancy and I want something very portable, I also want a systems and process that are very simple.
One of the best times I had with a camera was when I was walking and climbing with Jane and just had a compact camera in my pocket and a phone to take the odd photo on a day out. Bags of cameras and lenses really don’t appeal to me anymore I just want simple.
I have never been obsessed with Sharpness or that unreal look you get with digital, I have always preferred that blemished film look so will be going backwards rather than forwards in the future that’s for sure.
There is no point in carrying lots of gear about just in the hope there might be some great light now and then ! David Noton used to spend weeks if not months waiting for the light and that was the clue to great colour photography, you just have to wait for the light. Taking images in shit light and then spending hours and hours in Photoshop is not for me when you can just go click with a phone on the right day. I know a phone shot will not be good enough for a decent print but once I have mastered waiting for the light I can then find a camera system that makes my life as easy as the iphone 11 ProMax who knows it might be one of the Fujifilm cameras I have, or it might be a simple compact camera I don’t own yet ! One thing is for sure it’s all about painting with light and always has been for me. I don’t need lots of great images a year just a couple will do me ! Taking one great image in great light once in 10 years would make me very happy.
Its amazing how quickly we can adapt to change if we have no other choice !
I have always used a camera of some form from a very early age of about 8 years old and trust me when I was 8, around 50 years ago cameras were quite basic, I used to love taking photos and it was always interesting to see what came back from the developers !
The digital age came and it was great to be able to see what you had taken on the rear screen and when mirrorless first came out it was great to see the image through the sensor as such. I embraced Mirrorless and and the Fujifilm system, I probably did this very quickly because I was very slow to move from Film to digital and once I realised the potential of Mirrorless I jumped ship from the huge Nikon Pro system to the Mirrorless system.
I then went one step to far and brought in to the Fujifilm GFX system, the system is great one of the best in the world but my work had changed and there is no way I needed all that resolution and did not need a camera system that was that heavy.
I sold my GFX system and re invested the money back in to my Fujifilm system and at that time the XT-3 was the way forward for most of my work. I also had the Xpro2 and the X100F for personal work and Street work.
One of my all time bug bares with the Fujifilm system as with any digital system was the few extra steps it takes to edit and then get your images online ! Sounds crazy right ! 50 years ago I would shoot then wait a week for the images to come back from the lab, now I cant be arsed to transfer my images to my laptop and then get them online.
The smartphone has always been ok but they have there downsides like resolution speed of focus and lens length. I did not think I would ever favour a phone to a camera but after using an iPhone 11 ProMax now for so long without any other camera its been an eye opener. I can shoot edit and upload to where ever I need in the matter of minutes.
The iPhone 11 ProMax has three lens options and although they are not as good as Fujifilm glass they are good enough, also I get fed up with a bag full of lenses and a camera around my neck.
When I started my projects after my Stroke I really did think I would miss the Fujis but I have not picked up a real camera for my own personal work in 18 months. I have done a few commercial shoots before I retired and went back to the Fujis but even found myself using my phone as well for the client ! He loved the fact he could get my work on Instagram as we finished the shoot so we were both happy.
Don’t get me wrong if you want to print large or need the images for commercial work outside the internet and social media then the smart phone would struggle but for most social media work its the perfect tool. I was even shooting my YouTube videos on my phone before I closed my account.
I made some notes in Autumn so that next year I could go back to some locations with my real cameras to get some decent Landscape shots ! But the crazy thing is the thought of dragging bags of gear and a tripod to a lake on a 5 mile walk don’t feel me with enthusiasm.
I really have adapted really quickly to just using my phone, I wonder every day if I should sell all my camera gear and just use my phone.
I don’t think I am at that stage yet and will keep it and see what use to get next year but I can see some changes on the horizon.
I would miss my long fast lenses for wildlife etc but I have not missed them for 18 months and if i see wildlife I just enjoy my time with it without a camera !
In the time I have spent not using a camera and just my Phone I have noticed Canon and Nikon have now started to move in to Mirrorless properly and have some great kit but have a long way to go before they catch up with Fujifilm and Sony. Its quite funny how you could be tempted to jump systems from one year to the next but its just a fools game. Its better to find a system stick to it and hone your craft.
I was tempted to Leica last year but to be honest a really good smart phone will do me for now.
Who knows what another 12 months will bring I guess we will have to wait and see.
I opened a new YouTube Chanel this week but have not posted any videos yet but once I do I will write a blog about it. I closed my old account for many reasons and was going to use Vimeo but changed my mind due to cost etc so will stick to YouTube and Instagram, I just need to decide what to do with the new Channel.
Have a great week cant believe its August already !
Is it nearly December already !!
Where did 2018 go !
I have now reached semi retirement and it feels very strange, yes last month I was 55 and as planned I am going to slow things down and move on over to YouTube.
I have slowly been making videos, just dipping my toe in the water learning as much as I can by watching YouTube videos and talking to some of the rising YouTube stars about what they think my USP is ! They say its my age and experience so I aim to use that to my advantage in 2019.
One thing I do find about YouTube is that you can’t learn as fast as you can when you are doing a practical lesson. You also can’t ask questions when you want and I don’t think we retain the knowledge as well when we just watch a screen ! So I am going to do about four workshops a year to build my own personal education and I am going to still teach a few a year as well as get out and about as much as I can on photo walks and meet ups.
My next workshop is in Liverpool and there are only a few places left. Its my very popular Learning to See Workshop.
One thing is for sure I am getting sick to death of Facebook and I know quite a few people who are but like me we just hang on in there because of the groups and our business pages ! I do wonder why at times I really do !
Now SmugMug own Flickr I really do hope they bring the photography community together on Flickr again because Facebook is not the place of it, it’s so full of Trolls and Keyboard Experts !
I have been told people like my RANTS ! Not sure why but if that’s the case then I will bring a few Rants to YouTube but I really want to focus on inspiring people to take their photography to the next level and hope to inspire the next generation once I can workout a strategy to do so.
Before I can get to the really good stuff I need to get my viewing hours up to 4000 hours and maintain that over a year.
I am going to start 2019 with all the normal YouTube stuff you would expect like unboxing videos, product tests and some tips and tricks. I will then move on in to 2019 with Interviews and long form videos that can be watched as videos or listened to driving in your car like podcasts. These really long interviews will be at least an hour long or longer. I don’t really want to get in to Podcasts as I find them a little disconnected at times but who knows ! I think I will try the video route first.
I really do want to just get out every day and take photos and have lots of ideas for projects and a few workshops this year and hope to share all my ideas and processes with you on YouTube so make sure you tune in to my YouTube channel and click subscribe and hit the bell for all the great photography related videos in 2019 see you all on the other side !
Check out my X100F set up video here.
If you read my previous blog post or watched my YouTube video you will know I have just been to Ireland for the first time in years.
I had a rough time in Ireland with my health so did not achieve all I wanted but had a relaxing time apart from the times I was kept awake all night with Gallstone Pain.
I was going to shoot lots of video but did not feel up to it so there is just a short film on YouTube this time.
My previous blog post was all about the iphone and how amazing it was to have with me so that I could shoot, process and upload the images in seconds.
This is just post it just to share a few of the images I shot in Ireland with the Fujifilm X100F my favorite camera in the Fujifilm range for so many reasons and even though I have just brought two X-T3’s for Landscape and Video they will never beat the weight and ease of use of the X100F.
I really did not want to be carrying a tripod and bags of gear with me everywhere I went in Ireland so kept it really simple. Canon G7X MKII in my pocket for video and back up, X100F over my shoulder and iphone in my pocket.
I have to confess to mostly using the iphone and then second came the X100F and last the G7X.
We were blessed with Storm Ali whilst we were in Northern Ireland so managed to get some interesting shots of the Giants Causeway and with storm force winds it was quite a challenge at times.
I used the X100F with a Lee Filters 0.9 Grad handheld in front of the lens just to darken the sky and keep the spray off my lens on most of the shots.
We had an amazing time and now I have to put together a workshop on Achill Island with Matt Walkley so will leave you to look at a few of the images I made with the X100F.
Today I made the decision to hand back my X and become an X X Photographer !
This was not an easy decision but the timing was about right for me and my business moving forward.
So what camera system will I be moving to you might all ask ! Well the truth is I am not going to be moving to any other system, I love the Fujifilm X System and the GFX and this will remain my brand of choice.
I never ever got paid by Fujifilm to say that the X System was great and always said I only said it was great because that was the way I felt about it. But there are plenty of people that did not believe me. I can honestly say now that Fujifilm have never paid me to say the X system is great and from now on I will still be using what I feel is the right system for my workflow. I loved the X100 the day it was released and I have loved all the X Series cameras that I have used. Going back to basics when I moved over from Nikon and got the first X100 and XPro1 made me slow down and think and the sensors have always blown me away. The XPro1 was and still is as much a game changer back then as the GFX is the game changer today. The fact that the exposure triangle is where you need it and the cameras just feel right in your hands will never change and the work I have produced with the X Series cameras speaks for itself. I can’t wait to see what Fujifilm bring us in the future.
Watching all the griping and moaning about the new XH1 from all the Nikon and Canon users on social media has made me laugh over the last couple of weeks. Fujifilm have come up with a camera that you all asked for ! So why all the moaning that its too big or the grip is not right or this and that ! It’s hard to read and pathetic at times. Photography is about the image and creating amazing images with the 6 inches behind the camera not the tech that goes in to it. Video is a whole new ballgame and Fujifilm are now improving in that field as well and in time I am sure will bring us an amazing camera for Video. I really do wish people would get on with creating great content with stills or video and be proud of the work they produce and get off social media moaning and running people and companies down.
I only own one camera that is not a Fujifilm camera and its a Canon 200D and this is my Vlogging camera and will remain my Vlogging camera until Fujifilm make a camera with an articulated screen that I can use to Vlog with. I would use my X-T20 all the time for Video and Vlogging but its just takes me to long to set up, even though I prefer the images out of the X-T20 I love the ease of use of the 200D. I did use my X-70 for a while but the Rode Mic would get in the way of the flip up screen. I have used the X-T20 and the 200D side by side on some workshops and can say that the X-T20 images are always better, but the 200D is just a breeze to work with when filming yourself. Fingers crossed in the future Fujifilm with bring us a decent articulated screen and all my dreams will come true.
I have been so busy over the last few years I have hardly had any time to stop and think and even worse I have not been able to give the time I need to develop Fujiholics. I sat down at the end of 2017 and decided I needed to make changes to my business plan to give more time to Fujiholics in 2018 / 2019 and also to concentrate on my own business and get back to making images I like and not images that people expect me to make.
I have three projects on the go this year and also need the time to concentrate on my own personal work. The fear has always been that I would start to hate photography because I would spend more time in the office and less time out taking photos and last year was very much 90% hard graft marketing and I hardly shot a thing. So it’s time for change. I still love the photowalks and getting out and meeting people and I really do love all the Fujiholics what a great bunch of people and the community I believe is one of the best in the industry.
I have absolutely loved all my time with the Fujifilm UK team and the Fujifilm team around the world it’s honestly been some of the best moments of my Photography career. I have never met such a passionate bunch of people in all my life, the team really do believe in the X Series as much as we the users do and that makes them very special team.
I have lots and lots of plans for Fujiholics in the future and with the help of Richard Waine and my new Business Partner who will be revealed very soon I hope to bring all the Fujiholics some great new content and a few surprises.
So thank you to all the guys at Fujifilm you all know who you are and here is to an even more exciting future.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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 !
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 !
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.
I do feel at the moment I will be returning to Black and White next year, but we shall see.
I still shoot film and in a way love film more every year. I have just picked up a Nikon F100 Film Camera for £150 second hand from Cambrian Photography combined with a 50mm 1.8G lens also second hand for £99. I now have the perfect fast action Street film camera. This camera is stunning its also in fantastic condition and cheap as chips, as I remember this camera was around £1200 new.
Everyone knows I only shoot Fuji Camera’s for Digital, but I shoot all different makes of film camera from Nikon Fm2, Olympus OM10, Fujica St750,Nikon F100, and quite a few others. I also love the old 120 roll film cameras without names that I find on my travels.
I just love to get out and shoot Street with film. I love the discipline of shooting 12, 24, 36 exposures and love the imperfections that can happen with the use of film. When I picked up my F100 from Cambrian I picked up a couple of rolls of out of date Ilford Xp2 Super, cheap to process in C41 and great for some nice grain. I could not wait to get out and shoot some Street.
I hardly ever show my film images, it’s a long story why, but to cut it short many years ago I lost all my printed images and negatives in a flat fire. Years and years of work all gone in a few hours. I lost a lot more than that in that fire, I lost a vinyl collection that included the first record I had ever brought and lots of other items of sentimental value.
I learnt a lot that day about possessions and it changed the way I see my photography and life to this day.
My love of photography is the act of going out and creating images and being out there on the streets teaching and connecting with people. The images that I have shot a week ago or a year ago don’t have much meaning to me unless I have an emotional connection with them so after a while if I lost the lot again I would not be as upset as I was the first time it happened. The images that do mean a lot to me however are backed up off site so they are always available !
The reason I don’t show my film images on social media or to anyone else is the simple fact I want them all to remain pure ! Sounds crazy, but I don’t want them to be judged by others or commented on. I want these images just for me. I am only showing these few today due to the fact this was the first roll of film I put through the F100 so it was just a test roll.
I love to go out and shoot film with a variety of cameras it makes me re think my work and also slows me down and makes me look. I get into a very fast Street rhythm and at times its to fast so changing cameras makes me see so much more. Every time I get used to shooting with one film body I will take a different one out, even though I know them all inside out just the change is refreshing.
I also find its so refreshing after a day out shooting film there is no rush to edit, you can go home sit down and have a nice cup of tea, you don’t have that urge to get the images off the memory card to see what you shot ! You have to wait.
I don’t develop or print my own any more, I leave that to Cambrian Photography and only take the film over to Cambrian when I visit for Workshops etc, this way its quite exciting to see what I have on the contact sheet when I get my film back.
I normally just get a contact sheet with the images scanned to disk and then from that point, if I like what I see I will progress to larger hi res scans or prints. Its not as expensive as some people think and this roll of 24 exposures film was £4 and it was £6.99 for developing and scanning.
I went out with my F100 and my X100T with Jim Moody the guy in the image above to have a wonder around Liverpool and shoot some Street. The images from my X100T were off the memory card and on to Facebook within and hour of getting home ! I even said to myself I am sure I shot more than that ! It was then I released I was shooting film as well.
I also changed rolls part way through the day, so I still have a few images I will forget about over the next few weeks. So it will be a nice surprise next time I take a trip to Cambrian.
If you have not shot film for a while or your have never used a film camera its worth the time and effort to get a second had camera and a roll of film and get out and have a go.
If you have a young family film is great for the children and it teaches them vital skills for the day they pick up a digital camera. I have a few friends that have introduced their kids to film and they are loving it, one lad has just gone of to UNI to study photography and has not shot digital yet ! I will never stop shooting film and the best bit of shooting film is the simple fact that when I am dead and gone all the images on my hard drive will be lost forever but the prints and negatives will be there for my boys and their family’s to look though and enjoy !
The colour images that follow are just a few that I managed to save from a snapped off roll of film from my FujicaSt750.
I just love the imperfection on this roll, it was also the first roll of colour film I put through this camera. There is something about the imperfections in photography that make me want to shoot Street more than any other subject, so combining my love of Street with my use of film just has to be done..