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 !
I don’t know where to start with this but after leaving a Facebook Group yesterday because the admin were demanding that every post had the camera settings I was left shocked !
They also wanted to know what Lee filter was used !
I did make a comment before I left but I think it was lost in Translation ! The guy was insisting it was not about the light !
I fully understand they most people that are learning to use there camera think they need to know other people’s camera settings and for some reason some Pro’s and some trainers encourage this, and so do lots of groups !
I remember when I was younger I even fell for this myself until I realised it’s all irrelevant!
We are convinced by other people the way to learn is to read up on camera settings so much so we get obsessed with Exiff data !
We then think if we had that camera and that lens that guy uses so we could take photos like him or her !
The brands have taken this to the next level and love all their Ambassadors to share this info.
The Photographer might as well share what they had for breakfast and how they were dressed for all the good it will do us.
If you were to take three photos with the exact same setup at three different times of day using a Photographers setting you would get three different sets of results.
We don’t know what the light was like at the time, what software was used, how it was processed or what effect the Photographer was going for.
When I used to teach Street Photography the most common question I ever got asked was “can you set my camera up for me ?” or “what are your camera settings for Street ?”
When I try and explain that’s not how it works I get the look ! I can hear the cogs ticking ! “He does not want to tell us his secrets !” “He does not want us to be better than him !”
When the truth is I Format my memory card before I go out and shoot in RAW and have my Cameras set on Manual if I am in a Studio and Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority out on the Street and probably Auto ISO ! If I am shooting Landscape it will be Manual with the lowest ISO probably.
Wherever we stand on this planet whatever country we are in, at any given time of day the light and conditions are different and also the effect we want in our camera also comes in to play.
We have to learn to Master the Exposure Triangle there and then and it’s only by going out day after day for years and years can we work out what works for us.
Yes of course you can use the Sunny 16 rule on a Sunny day but that just gets you a shot !
What if you want people with motion blur or want narrow depth of field or you even want to make people disappear from the scene ! What if you want movement in the clouds or silky water !
What if in a Studio you want High Key or Low key ?
Stop obsessing over bloody camera settings and get out and practice ! The more time you spend with a camera in your hand the more you learn.
Photography is about so much more than Exiff Data it’s about Light,Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject and Emotional impact. It’s about you the Photographer and what your vision is. Not what settings Linda Wisdom uses !
You won’t learn this stuff in a week or a month it’s a lifetime of learning !
If you are in a Facebook group that insists on Exiff Data leave the group, go outside and take some photos it will be the best thing you have done for your photography all week.
There is no shortcut trust me, get out with your camera every day or as much as you can and practice practise practise, learn by your mistakes and trial and error. That way you learn a lot faster.
You can read as many books as you want, do as many courses as you want they just give you inspiration. It’s down to you and you alone to teach yourself the Exposure Triangle and learn to speed up that process by daily practise.
Jane always says to me she does not want to learn photography because there is too much to remember ! So very true but with practice it becomes second nature. You can just dial it in and shoot. You don’t become an expert at anything if you sit on your arse and wait for it to come to you, hard work and commitment is the name of the game.
Searching YouTube for those bits of info on camera setting for hours and hours won’t make you a better photographer it just makes you a couch potato !
So get up go out and get practicing ..
Bollox are you ! Most people that carry cameras these days are just camera owners.
If you buy lots of ingredients from a Supermarket and carry them around with you it won’t make you a Chef, not even if you do have a £10,000 Cooker and all the pots and pans. You need to learn all the classics and possibly even start off in the pot wash or on veg prep.
Well it’s the same with a Camera with all the gear, it takes years of practice and a lifetime of learning.
One very well known Photographer once said to me ” you have to do a long time in the trenches before you can call yourself a photographer”
It’s no good watching Youtube and having a good look around Social media. YouTube does help but youtube is not a great way to learn and retain information. Social media is either one way or the other it’s either lots of people blowing smoke up your arse, or a lot of hate. Most of the time its gives you a 50/50 view of your work by uneducated people who might be lying for their own benefit !
The other issue these days is so called Ambassadors or Influencers ! Most just work to a template of formula to produce images you want to see that you think are great. Technically most of their images are fine but are they any good ? They are famous today but will you remember them in 10-20 years time ? Who made them famous ? Their work or their association with a brand ? Don’t get me wrong there are some great Ambassadors out there with some amazing work but do you know the good from the bad ?
Don’t even get me started on the Fake Instagram and Social media stars with paid followings and brown filters !
People these days who are making crap images have even started to slag off some of the greats or try to debunk there work in a vain attempt to make themselves feel better.
It’s all becoming a real mess how do new people know who to follow and how to learn ! Well it’s not easy its a complete minefield out there and coupled with that the fact that most people with a camera think they are a Pro the moment they get the camera out of the box it’s a big mess.
I have seen many an argument about Bruce Guildon or Martin Parr the funny thing is most people don’t have a clue what a good or bad image is or why ! So there is no way they can work out who are the modern day greats !
I won’t go in to the guy I watched tell Nick UT he used the wrong film when he shot the Napalm Girl !
A great photographer will be out there every day honing their craft and probably won’t even have time to teach or talk until they are a lot older and have more time on their hands. I have seen people leave University without a body of work and set up teaching workshops and people actually going on their courses ! Most of the Course content has been stolen form the internet or they have been on other photographers workshops to make notes and just replicate there course ! They are passing on No Passion and No Skill. There are so many workshops and courses out there now the market is flooded.
I remember reading about 10 years ago, how that one day the world would be saturated with cameras and then the new cream of photography would rise to the top. I think we are at that point now but the water has become so muddy most people don’t have a clue what makes a great image or a great photographer and social media and political correctness is holding the future greats back like a great big dam. Combined with people with really average images trying to convince the world there work is great and some brands even falling for it !
I am now retiring in October this year so don’t read this thinking he is just trying to sell his own workshops because I am not.
You might be thinking he thinks he is the dogs bollocks that Matt Hart but far from it I don’t like any of my work and if you have been on any of my workshops you will know I like about 9 of my own images, and they all mean something to me personally.
I did find it funny on facebook when I read about a guy that culls his images down by first removing all the out of focus shots ! I think omg just stick the bloody thing on Auto you won’t miss !
Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about learning to use a camera, this for most people takes a while but also the whole process is a lifetime of learning. Some people get stuck in the cocky pixel peeping stage where they know the camera inside out then then spend their lives on social media telling everyone how great they are ! They forget we have Google so we can just google their work and see a bunch of random shit with no meaning or context. These are the people that go to all the gear shows and try and piss off all the staff at the Trade counters with their vast knowledge. What they don’t know is everyone just thinks they are a dick ! I love to google people having an argument about images and see how really bad there work is !!
No one gives a flying fuck what camera you have and if you are loyal to a brand any more just learn how to use what you have or find the right camera for you. It’s just a box that takes a photo learn to use it then move the fuck on.
The only way to learn how to make and take pictures is immerse yourself in Knowledge, read up on the real greats from the past the same way great painters copied the brush strokes of the masters before them. You will go through the stage of copying the peoples work you admire but then it’s time to start to find out who you are and what you have to say with your camera. Most people with cameras these days are like those kids in school with the tracing paper just copying what other people have done and never really moving forward.
I have taught thousands of people over the years and only a handful have listened and studied the greats and then gone on to produce great bodys of work or find their own style.
It’s not easy and involves a lot of work and that is why most people don’t ever learn and don’t ever get anywhere and the camera manufactures love you because it’s you that they can convince that there new lens or new camera can make you a better Photographer but sadly there are no shortcuts. Hard work dedication and a lifetime of learning is the only way.
If I wrote a blog post about the Fujifilm X100F it would reach 20,000 people if I made a video about it it would reach 80,000 people, If I talk about how to move forward in your photography and become a great photographer I get about 100 hits ! What does that tell you.
I used to teach a learning to see workshop where I gave people the formula to be a great and successful Photographer but because its involves hard work people don’t follow the route. I think out of all the courses I did only 3 people really listened and one is now producing great work and has been talking and exhibiting their work.
Instead of going to all the gear shows support all the great Exhibitions around the world that are not about the gear but about great projects and great work.
In the UK we have Hull International Photography Festival and Photo North in Harrogate the Birmingham Photography Festival etc
Go to an Art Gallery and see how the masters paint light in to a scene or frame and image.
Have a look at the great books by Bluecoat Press.
I hear people moaning about the cost of Exhibitions at £5 or £20 and it makes me laugh, they spend £1000 on a new lens and some shitty bags and more lens cloths and that new KickStarter thing that they think will make them great at The Photography Show but £5 -£20 spent on looking at real work by real people will inspire you more than any bit of kit but it might not make you feel happy inside like a new camera ! People were moaning about paying £20 to go and see Don Mccullin’s work in London a while back. I was shocked, I wonder if people realise how much these things cost to put on. I have a friend who put on a small exhibition a couple of years back and it cost him 35k ! It’s not like TPS where all the brands pay for all the artists.
Photowalks also help, get out in the fresh air with like minded people, be careful you don’t get stuck with the know it all gear freak ffs they will drive you insane, but listen to the conversations that way you will hear some new names you can research and find out about the next Exhibition or Festival you might hear some names you have never heard off and find out that there work inspires you.
So how is this blog post going to help ! I think most people could not give a shit to be honest they just want to be YouTube famous or have 20,0000 likes on Insta.
I am not going to give it all away in one blog post I am going to write a series of posts and now I am out and about again try and make some YouTube videos that really do help the few people that really want to learn to make it. It’s all up to you though as I say there really are no shortcuts.
The truth is it’s all about Projects and Finding your own style but its like weight loss you can tell everyone losing weight is all about diet and exercise and because that sounds like hard work they switch off ! You can’t lose 3 kilos in 5 minutes and keep off you have to work at it.
It’s the same with Photography you have to start by researching who the greats really are in the area of Photography you want to learn then immerse yourself in there work. Once you have learnt as much as you can you need to get out there and shoot and shoot. The more time you spend with a camera in your hand the better you will get, and that is where Personal Projects come in.
Don’t shoot for your friends and social media shoot for you shoot something that really means something to you, shoot something that you are passionate about it’s not about likes or fluffy comments it’s about learning ! Start a project today and make it last a year and produce a book at the end of it. Do you know how many times I have said that and how many people have done it ? How about if I told you the greats work on projects all the time !
It’s been a difficult year so far, apart from a couple of days work at Peoples Ford Liverpool I have hardly been out with a camera and this bank holiday weekend was the first real chance to be out with my camera this year. I thank my good friends Rich and Elaine for the opportunity to get out and get some fresh air.
Not going in to many details but waiting for my Gallbladder to be removed and daily pain has taken its toll. Not only am I now in daily pain but every now and again when a stone decides to move in to a bile duct I have around 15 hours of intense pain and this can be at any time of day or night at at the most random and annoying times. Lucky for me I had a weekend with minimal issues and was able to get out with my camera, even thought I probably drove my friends mad moaning about my Health !
I have driven past the Marble Church for about 10 years and about 5 years ago I decided I would like to try and photography it. However it’s one of those places on a journey so you very rarely can be bothered to stop. I had a vision in my head of what I would like but as soon as we got there it started to rain. Great for cloud formation but a pain in the arse for rain on the lens !! I also had a vision of what I wanted to shoot and to be honest the first walk around the Church I realized I was to close and needed to be further away I also had to deal with too much distortion up close and did not have a tilt shift lens.
After taking a few reference shots I decided to move back towards the road where I had seen this Church from and the closer I got to the road the vision I have had for so long started to fall in to place. The rain stopped and a little light hit the church and lit up the graveyard. So I quickly framed the church between the bushes and grabbed a couple of frames. I was using one of my Fujifilm XT3 bodies and the amazing 10-24mm lens, I normally use this camera just for commercial work and only ever take out my X100F on most trips but decided I wanted something a little wider today and this used to be my default Landscape Lens.
I am quite happy with the shot and I guess it just goes to show all good things come to those that wait ! I think if I had stopped and tried to shoot this Church 5 years ago it would not have been the same !
After the Church we went to the woods, the weather forecast was supposed to be over cast all day but over the last few years I think these little showers have been quite hard to predict so the cover of the tree canopy in the woods was a good choice.
I think you can tell my mood from my images and I have always noticed this. It’s been a crazy year this year and at times as now, my mood has been quite dark. The irony of going to the woods to shoot bluebells was not lost on me being a black and white shooter ! I just loved this path and the darkness of the woods so wanted to capture the way the woods made me feel at the time and I think this image did just that.
The next image says a lot to me, I fell out of love with Landscape images because for me there was always something missing ! Without a human element or something living I found it quite hard to connect with some scenes. When I was composing this shot I loved the way the light was hitting the ferns in the foreground and lighting up the bluebells but really did struggle with the empty space on the left ! It was at that point Jake walked in to the scene a couple of frames later I had an image I was happy with.
I had almost fallen out with Photography this year, but it’s surprising how a day out with great company and some fresh air can bring back the urge to make and create images again… I need to go OUT OUT more often !!!
You can find these images on my Instagram account @matt6t6
As most of you know I am a 99% black and white Photographer it’s always been my preference. I have never really liked Colour as I have always found it distracting and a very hard medium to grasp and as for trying to tell a story out on the street !
I also struggled with Colour in the early days of digital as the slightest noise really did mess with the colours on most DSLRs.
These days nearly the only time I shoot colour is for Client work and I really do forget just how amazing the modern Fujifilm Cameras are with such great Colours.
I have been shooting Vans and Trucks a while now and just love working with Peoples Ford Van Centre Liverpool. The team there are amazing and they have some amazing return customers who just love their Vans. I also have a Camper Van based on the Ford Transit Custom and built by Wellhouse so I am in love with the backbone of the UK.
Ford have been producing some amazing colours over the last few years as well as some stunning Vans. It’s through my involvement with Peoples Ford that I have started to love shooting Vans in Colour ! I am not sure how long my love of Colour will last !!!
I guess it all depends on what Ford have up their sleeves !
One thing’s for sure I love the creative freedom I get working with these guys and I can’t wait to share with you all some of the images I have planned for the Future !
Until then here are a couple from this week’s shoot.
Last year as part of a Facebook Group Home Project I decided to shoot Jane’s Second home her Allotment Plot. This was shot over a 12 month Period in 2018 and was shot on the Fujifilm GFX50s with 32-64mm lens and it was also shot in Colour with minimal editing using Classic Chrome. I could not give this Project as much time as I would have liked but I managed to get enough images for a book and at some point in 2019 I will sit down and make the book. As soon as I started the project I realised the wider Project could have been a study of all the plot tenants and not just Jane but I barely had time to shoot jane and her plot.
I won’t bore you with any more words here are the images from The Plot.
Hi Guys and welcome to 2019 Happy New Year to you all, this year I am going to spend more time blogging and more time on YouTube it’s going to be a great big learning curve and my video editing skills leave a lot to be desired but I will do my best and lear as I go.
My first new venture is Project Sunday and this is on YouTube and Flickr please feel free to subscribe to my youtube and request to join the Flickr Group some people have struggled with the Flickr group request but you request to join then send a message to admin to let you in its invite only but we can invite you if you have not messaged us.
It’s basically a series of weekly challenges and you post you images in Flickr and your links under my youtube videos it came about from my Learning to see workshops where people wanted a little more to motivate them throughout the year. Its for fun and sharing but who knows where it will end up.
Hopefully with a meet up at some point.
We are up to week 3 and if you join this week you might be in time for week 3 if not start week 4 on Saturday coming.
I was shocked at the 70 people that have signed up so far and the amount of people who take part every week, its a great little group on Flickr and I can’t wait to see what they all come up with over the next 12 months. Really impressed by the effort some of the people have put in.