Fujifilm

What do you really need to take a photograph ?

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What do you really need to take a photograph ?

Let’s get the gear bit out of the way first before I move on to the future of my Blog and YouTube.

A few years back I would have recommended a film camera but with the spiralling costs of film and paper it’s probably not the answer unless you can afford it.

So I will base this on Digital.

I guess first off it depends what type of photography you are in to, as will define the gear or amount of gear you need. The word NEED is the issue. What you need at what you buy and collect are hardly connected and most people quickly fall into the GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome ) section.

I fully understand there is a huge difference between what you need for Sports Photography or Landscape or even Studio work.    

Because of the years I have shot just about everything I have been through the (GAS) just as everyone has. I wish someone had told me at the start that chasing the TEC and buying tons of Kit is a mugs game ! No wait they did ! I ignored them.

There is nothing wrong with buying tons of kit and people with Expendable incomes can buy what the hell they like.

I had a friend who asked me what he needed for his new camper van a few weeks back and I told him ” you will keep buying more and more gear you think you need and filling your van up with stuff, then in two years time you will leave most of it at home and just take what you need and start to enjoy your van”

But everyone must understand the gear  won’t make you a better photographer, I really do believe struggling with cheap hard to use kit and slow lenses is part of the learning process.

Let’s face it if you are going to shoot something slow moving or standing still only a few feet from you or even a Landscape and you are only going to view it on Instagram you might at well just use your Smartphone.

At the other end of the scale if you are a full time Pro shooting billboard size images for an advertising company you might need a 100mp Medium Format Camera. Likewise if you are going to do large prints all the time the Medium Format might be the way to go.

But remember the more megapixels you have the more detail you will see in the images the more dust and imperfections you with have to deal with in the final edit. Also your computer system will need to cope with the huge file size. You will also have to deal with Dust on that Sensor.

The biggest problem is once people get bogged down in cameras and lenses they hardly use what they have and they struggle to decide what to take when they leave the house ! Some take 30-40 kilos of kit every time they go out ! It’s madness no one cares what you have on your back or what you have in your hands only you ! The people who walk round camera shows with all there kit ! Who are those people ?

I guess we all have to learn the hard way. The secret to buying cameras is to only buy what you really need and to invest in glass as body’s will be updated with the new best thing in 12-24 Months  ! That’s what I was told years ago and it’s somewhat true but buying that new body is great if you are a Pro and need to have a reliable camera under warranty in your hand at all times but for the average person it really is a mugs game.

You really only need what you are going to use. If you are a Pro that’s shoots everything from Sport to Studio work then of course you are going to need a large amount of kit. That way you can pick up the right bag for the Job and run out of the house to shoot the job and get paid. Most Pros these days have lots of kit but also Hire in for specific jobs. Most of the Pro’s I know off load kit all the time. I do it as well, I look in Lightroom to see what lenses I have been using and what cameras and focal lengths them make changes accordingly. Sell bodies I don’t use and get lenses that make more sense.

I can’t tell you what you all need because I don’t know the way you Shoot or what you Shoot so it would be impossible for me to be able to advise lots of people all in one blog post.

I do know if you are a Pro then you need kit that can handle daily use, with a big bright viewfinder because you are going to spend a lot of your day looking through that viewfinder !

If you are not a Pro don’t waste your money on Pro gear just because you can afford it.

Not many people take their driving test in a Formula 1 Car ! Sounds like a mad analogy but it’s not far off.

I learnt photography with a film camera my Dad gave me and the first camera I saved up for was a Zenit E.  I made all my own Studio lights and reflectors and only had two lenses ! I learnt so much using that camera and a light meter. I also learnt all about light and composition because I had to.

These days it’s easy to buy any modern point and shoot and it will take infocus images with correct exposure on auto without you having to think too much.

You can also get round most technical issues in post processing depending on the sensor.

So if you are starting out and really want to learn Photography buy the most basic Manual camera around and teach yourself the basics of photography. You probably won’t use it on Manual once you understand it you will probably shoot in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority or in some cases like weddings and Sport full Auto. But getting the basics right first gives you the grounding you need to move on and understand why your camera reacts to light and speed the way it does.

You don’t need a GFX or a Nikon D7 to start your journey even if you can afford it.

I was watching a film last night looking at the lighting and composition as well as all the noise in the dark areas ! I also noticed it was not always sharp or in focus. These things really don’t matter as much as you think ! People are obsessed with Sharpness.

You really don’t need to have all the latest gear and lenses to take great photos trust me.

I know I know if you are going to shoot wildlife sport or birds you need slightly better kit but let’s face it Wildlife Sport and Birds have been photographed before all the latest kit came out ! So sometimes it worth looking back instead of forwards for inspiration.

Remember that Camera that was the newest best thing a year ago ? Well it not much different a year later ! I know Press Photographers still using the Nikon D3s over newer models because the camera is better in many areas and the file sizes are much more manageable.

So what do you need to take a photo if you are just starting out ? It all depends on what you are going to shoot and your budget so I can’t answer that for everyone but what I can say is. Don’t buy a Bentley before you have learnt to drive. Because once you have learnt you will realise a Bentley is a great big fat lump of a car that costs fortune to insure does not fit in to a parking space can’t be left anywhere because it might get keyed and is great for showing off in but the wife’s Audi A6 is better all round so you end up leaving the Bentley at home and just taking the point and shoot !

Don’t do all the the research online go in to real shops and pick up there cameras and feel them try out the lenses and get a feel for them once you have decided keep going back to the same camera store over and over again and build up a relationship with the staff that way you can get better discounts and find out about second hand gear when it comes in. Ever time there is a new model out all last years models end up back in the shops so keep your eyes out for a bargain.

You don’t need a Full Frame DSLR you really don’t …

Think about what you shoot now what you will shoot in the future and research that, pick a shop like Wex or Park Camera or Wilkinson Cameras or some of the Old Favorites like Ffords of Greys of Westminster find a camera shop with Camera Enthusiasts not retail sales assistants on commission.

MPB.com is also a great way to buy Second hand I use MPB and Wex used all the time the mint cameras and OB cameras are good as new at a fraction of the new cost.

Steer clear of the internet you might think it’s cheap until you find out its fake or has no warranty in the UK !

 

One you have your kit the journey really starts…

 

 

 

So you think you are a Photographer !

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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 !

Good luck

 

 

Out Out !

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Colour ! Its a Van Thing !

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Fujifilm XT3 10-24mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad

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.

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Fujifilm XT3 16-55mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad

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.

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Fujifilm XT3 16-55mm mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad

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.

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Fujifilm XT3 10-24mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad

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 !!!

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Fujifilm XT3 10-24mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad

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.

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Fujifilm XT3 10-24mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad
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Fujifilm XT3 10-24mm Lee Filters 0.9 Soft Grad

The Plot

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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.

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Projects Group

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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.

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Week one Shoot an Egg 
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Week 2 shoot someone in great light.
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Week 3 Self Portrait.

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.

2019 Street Project is Litter

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Manchester

If you have been watching my YouTube Channel you will know that my 2019 Street Photography Project is Litter. I started of over thinking the project but after a quick look back over some previous work its all started to fall in to place and I am sure it will evolve in time.

I am going to use my Fujifilm X100F for the Project and back the X100F up with the Fujifilm Xpro2 and 18-55mm Kit Lens, I probably won’t carry both cameras with me at all times but I do like to have a backup camera for a project. I want to film as much of my project as possible for my YouTube channel and this will be filmed with a combination of diferent cameras over the course of the year but will be a mixture of Canon Fujifilm and DJI and possibly GOPro.

My project will focus on Litter and peoples relationship with litter, I will only give the images simple city titles so that the viewers will know what cities the images were shot in but not what the relationship is between the little and the people in the images if any !

The viewer will be left to draw their own conclusion from the litter in the scene, from how long it has been there to weather it is litter or potential litter.

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Liverpool 

The image above for instance will just be titled Liverpool and the bag on the floor in this case was taken away by the girl in the image, but in my project you will have to draw your own conclusions.

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Liverpool 

My project images will all have litter of one form or another in the scene and this is just to highlight the amazing amount of litter we walk past every day. I have always wanted to do a project that says something and could possibly make people think differently about our city Streets.

After walking the Streets of nearly all the UK cities I  can say that some are worse than others but over the last few years people have got a little better but the councles are getting worse at emptying bins and general street cleaning. So much so that there is now Human Excrement and waste in more and more back streets.

Don’t get me wrong people still drop litter and quite a few just don’t care and will never change. I guess I went to school when the UK had an epic litter problem back in the 60’s and were taught at school to bin it with the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign.

I have a facebook group called Bag it and Bin it the group is about Litter and Dog Poo, and I have always wanted to try and tell the story in images and so decided to give it a try for my 2019 project. I don’t expect to change the world overnight but I thought I would try and put this years project to good use.  I was recently over in Ireland and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of litter. There was a lot less litter over in Ireland and I was told its because people respect their country more.

My project will evolve and if you want to follow along then check out my YouTube Channel and don’t forget to Subscribe to get updates on new videos.

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Edinburgh