Its been a very busy few years and I have not had a decent relaxing break for quite a while. I have just taken a week off and was only 60 miles from my front door in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. Jane said to me half way through the week “you have hardly been on your phone this week” I guess I am learning! It’s no good going away to Scotland and driving 600miles and not unloading the clutter in my mind by being on Social Media all the time or answering all the emails. So staying close to home saved me a lot of driving and allowed me to really relax.
Working in the Photography industry is a bit full on at times, if you are not marketing you are planning or on Social Media and this can take over your life.
Whilst away I decided on my 5 year plan and am now going to stick to it for a change. I have about 14 more workshops to do for Wex Photographic and then a few other jobs to complete before October 2018. I will then semi retire. I plan to fully retire in 2022 not that Photographers ever retire we just have more time to be creative.
I will cut my workload in half from October 2018 and start to take photos for me and begin to explore the five elements that make a great image( Light, Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject & Emotional Impact). I want to focus on image making as this is so important to me.
I have put together a new series of workshops just to keep me going until 2022. I don’t think I can sit around for the next four years, so I might as well get out there and teach what I love. These workshops will explore the five elements but have nothing to do with gear and technology. I also plan to put more time in to my YouTube channel to let you know about the creative process, this will also focus on my image making thought process.
Its amazing how taking a really good break from reality can focus the mind. I walked over 58 miles last week and only took my Fujifilm X100F with me. This transported me back to the day I bought my very first X100 ! Its the reason I moved over to Fujifilm from Nikon and the reason I fell in love with the X Series ! The X70 and the X100F are two of the best in the Fujifilm range by far. The GFX50 is the King but it’ not exactly portable but is the best tool in the toolbox !
Spending a week with the X100F made me relax and enjoy my photography again so much so that I was thinking about selling most of my Fujifilm gear and just keeping that one camera. I still have some work to do with my GFX and three projects to finish and its far too amazing a camera to sell, so the GFX will be staying and so will my X70 and my Xpro2 as that’s one of my Personalised Camera Bodies that Fujifilm gave to me in recognition of my hard work. I think the rest of the lenses and bodies might have to go, not that I have much left as I had a good clear out to buy the GFX last year.
I think I will end up with the GFX50s,X100F,X70,Xpro2 but will probably only use the X100F / X70 most of the time.
One thing I did think about a lot when I was away on holiday was the obsession with gear amongst photographers and this is why I wrote This . It drives me mad watching people buying tons and tons of gear thinking it will make them a better Photographer ! If I make a YouTube video on ‘Gear’ I get 60,000+ hits, if I make one about the creative process I get a few hundred. It’s the same with Workshops, if I do a workshop for one of the brands everyone wants to book on it, but if its about creativity no one is interested and think they can learn it all from YouTube ! I wish it was that simple. You can learn from YouTube but it’s only when you go on a real physical workshop and sit and talk to other people does the real learning start. The more time you spend with a camera in your hand around like minded people the better your work will become. I have seen hundreds of people tell me how they learn from youtube. Most of these people have tons of gear and their image making process is just a bad template of the person they have been watching and they are stuck in the YouTube cycle of looking but not learning.
I was tempted to go down the YouTube route to teach as well for myself and Fujiholics but have decided it would not be the fair or right thing to do.
There are hundreds of people jumping on workshops as teachers but most are doing it for the wrong reasons. If they don’t have passion and it’s all about the money it really does show, so choose wisely !
Photography is a life long learning curve and we all go through diferent stages as we progress, there are no short cuts. I am lucky as I started at 8 years old and have had a lifetimes experience so can now look forward to really exploring whats out there for me and passing on my knowledge !
So it’s time for me to de clutter my mind and my camera cupboard and start to explore the next stages of my Photography journey ! I am starting a series of workshops that will be available on my Eventbrite page very soon. These workshops are designed to give Photographers that have mastered their cameras the information they need to take the the next step up the ladder ! I am sure most people new to photography or even Photographers that have been at it for years get stuck in the gear cycle and keep buying more and more gear to hopefully inspire them to take better photos but always end up disappointed and chopping and changing brands etc to get that amazing image. Its almost like being in a constant loop of disappointment. YouTube does not always help as you end up watching a YouTube video and then have a list of new clutter to buy ! This just puts you back in the sales funnel but does not help you !
There are some great YouTube channels and the one I like at the moment is Sean Tucker
I hope to use my Photography experience gained over the last 40+ years, to pass on some great advice. This will be through a series of workshops that will take place over the next four years exploring what to look for and how to create some great images. This should then give you all the tools you need to get out and create your own work without the need for more and more gear. I will then bring the regular workshops to a close.
I will then retire in 2022 but will update my YouTube channel about once a month and do a couple of talks or workshops a year just to hopefully inspire people to take the next steps in the journey and get of the gear loop !
So if you want to de clutter and want to get off the gear loop I will see you on a future workshop.
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.
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.
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.
What a year ! Its now December and my Year of Colour project is nearly over and I am glad. Its been a very busy year for me and the project has been dragging along behind me instead of inspiring me to get out and shoot ! I always thought it would be hard but it was a lot harder than I expected. I have never been a fan of colour so I already set myself up for failure before I started.
Colour for me growing up in a black and white world with black and white TVs in the house and all my film cameras loaded with black and white film 99% of the time was never going to be easy. I think after learning to see in black and white colour just does not do it for me. I very nearly gave up on several occasions but I am glad I stuck with it. I think black and white is my escape from the real world, the fantasy land of TV as a child.
The project does not really finish until the 31st of December but I have had some back problems and whilst trying to get that under control I really am not inspired or motivated to get out and create anything remotely interesting.
I wanted to force myself to shoot Colour for a year to see if I could fall in love with it and get some form of continuity in my work and develop a colour style. I soon found out Colour does not work like that, to have continuity you need continuity in lighting every day and that is the hardest part. Its easy to set up in a studio and have the same lights and white balance but out in the real world the light is diferent every day so the only way to get a consistency would be to light the subject the same no matter what the weather conditions or time of day. In bright light the colours pop and we are cooking on gas. When there is no light or poor light we have dull washed out colours and these images require a lot more work. In a very short space of time at the start of the year I got fed up with the issue of continuity.
I did however start to look at and play around with film simulation modes on the Fujifilm cameras and even though you could not quite get the continuity you could get a consistent body of work that looked the same. I also looked in to colour grading as they do when they make films but this started to get very complicated. I am in the process of learning to edit film and thought it would all come in handy and it did. I shoot my video in colour so I guess my year has not been wasted as I am putting some of the things I have learnt about colour to good use in camera for my blogs.
I started out hating colour and to be honest for still images I am still a Black and White lover, in all honesty I prefer black and white films as well. I guess colour is so very distracting that it confuses me. My black and white has a consistency and style that works for me. Black and White is a story telling media and colour sometimes can distract you from the story if you get it wrong or are super critical of the way colour works in a scene. I dont hate colour as much as I did and I have a newfound respect for anyone who can keep their outdoor work consistent in every lighting condition without elaborate lighting set ups. I want to do more exhibitions in the future and this is where I need continuity.
Iso also has a big to play in this situation the higher the ISO the darker the image and the more noise is introduced, this looks fine in black and white and even better when printed but really does darken your colour images down. The other issue with colour is my mood ! In black and white you can see my mood changes in my work and this is shown as you would expect in dark moody images with lots of black. In colour they just look more dull and boring ! Primary colours can also be so very distracting in colour images form the story or from the main subject so this to can be very frustrating.
I used quite a few Fujifilm cameras during my project and have to say that helped me to decide on what cameras to keep and what to sell. With black and white there is always a small difference in how you process between sensor upgrades but with colour this is huge. I soon discovered that as long as you keep to the same sensor across the board when editing then the files are the same across the editing range, but as soon as you work on say and X-T1 file and an X-T2 file they are worlds apart. As you all know I am not a bit fan of editing so I need a simple workflow that does not take up much of my time.
When I did my year of black and white I did change cameras because of the project and the same has happend this time. I sold all my older X Series cameras and updated to the newer versions to keep sensor continuity across the range. So now I have X100F, XPro2, X-T20 as my main X series work horses. I did however buy a second had X70 to stick in my pocket and take everywhere. I also splashed out on the GFX but that’s more for some projects I have in 2018/2019. I also sold quite a few lenses to lighten my load but that was more due to lack of use. I always do regular lightroom searches to see how much use a lens is getting and if its not getting used it’s not earning its keep so needs to go.
Projects help me to make these camera and lens decisions as well as other work I do, because I might use a diferent lens for a project than I do for my street or client work.
The year of colour was not a complete waste of time I did learn a lot and I did have a good play around with film simulation because I did quite a few edits on my ipad and not on my macbook so I found taking a Jpeg in to SnapSeed or Lightroom Mobile was a lot more simple if I had already applied a preset and got it to as close as I would like in camera first. Most of the time it just needed a slight crop or straighten before posting the image. I am not a fan of editing on Tablets and that I think is just down to my eyesight. I prefer 27″ monitors so that I know there is no dust on the sensor or other issues.
I set my X70 on Jpeg and RAW on classic chrome and in 2018 I will change this to Acros and green filter. I use my X70 as an extension of my iphone for blogging etc I know the XE3 is now out and far better but I prefer the screen on the X70 as it’s so much more versatile. Hopefully one day Fujifilm will make an X80.
I think we all see colour in a slightly diferent way and I know I have a few friends who are colourblind. I also think we all like to view other peoples work not just for the subject matter but for the colour style they have. I think in time I could find a colour style that would suit me but I really do just prefer black and white. It’s been an interesting experiment. Its not been as interesting for me as my year of black and white way back in 2013 but I have decided to go back to 90% black and white for 2018 and have a play around with colour when the mood takes me.
I have some new projects in place for 2018 / 2019 and these are all secret projects. One I am doing with a few friends and two by myself but they all work quite well together. Hopefully all the projects will come together as a book and also at least two exhibitions. I normally do a book at the end of every project but this year I don’t feel the images from my year of colour are strong enough for a book so will skip 2017.
I am going to take some time off over December and January to give my back a chance to sort itself out. I have had two quite serious accidents in the past one that broke my back and it appears this is all coming back to haunt me. Taking time off to heal and to put some thought into my projects.
I hope you all have a great Christmas see you all in 2018.
What can I say ! Days 11/12 did not go to plan but thats Photography for you.
I am sitting here waiting for the GFX to be picked up to return to Hire A Camera. Its a strange feeling thats for sure and made even worse by the fact the last two days did not quite go to plan. I guess I am going to miss the GFX so I have Hired it out twice more and I have also sold quite a lot of my X Series camera bodies and a few lenses.
So what went wrong on day 11 ! It was my own fault to be honest, I had decided to go into town with my mate Richie and shoot the Liverpool Library Roof and the amazing Stairs as well as the Picton Reading room. I was quite excited about this but had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday ! When we got there the Library was shut, I was not happy with myself and instead of picking myself back up and cracking on with another plan I was deflated and not even coffee and an Oat Cookie in Caffe Nero could help.
My new plan was to shoot some Street but after wandering around town for 10,000 steps it was quite apparent the light was not great and the subjects were all quite boring ! Not many interesting people about just people shopping. Some days no matter how hard you try you just cant make it work or you overthink it. I was also still fed up from the library being closed. We even went to some of my favorite spots in hope of insperation but in the end just gave up looking.
Day 12 was then written off by a couple of Jobs that came in so the GFX went back in the box !
I have the GFX50s coming back to me in October so my plan is to revisit the Library and have a few more ideas up my sleeves.
I have spoken to quite a few people that now own or have hired the GFX over the last few weeks and asked them for their thoughts ! Not one person has given me any Negatives, this is quite interesting. People normally come up with a niggles but not one negative, very strange. The only slight negative is the fact the GFX is bigger than the rest of the X Series but this is well over compensated by the amazing camera.
Personally I love it, the images out of this thing are stunning and just a pleasure to process in Lightroom. I love the RAW files and love how easy it is to take the RAW to a very quick colour edit. I also love the RAW to Silver Efex conversion it’s like the very first XPro1 sensor but on Steroids.
The camera is easy to handle and the touch screen is stunning with some amazing quick swipe features. Its not light but its not as heavy as I had expected.
I hired the GFX to convince myself it wouldn’t fit into my workflow, but this has backfired. I do not shoot commercial work and I do not need images the size of billboards. I do however print my work but not in any great size. Most of my work apart from Exhibitions and Prints only ever gets seen online. So I was sure this camera had no place in my workflow because most people that view my work do so on a smartphone or tablet. I now admit I am wrong, you can see the amazing sharpness and depth to the GFX images even on Instagram.
Fujifilm call this camera the Game Changer and it is that and so much more. The first image out of the GFX and boom, you wake up to all new possibilities. Its an inspirational camera thats for sure. I think this camera is a Rule Breaker for sure. You should not be able to take images like this on a camera under the 20k bracket but here we are stonking great big amazing images for under 10k and yes in price point of a high end DSLR ! Games has now changed Rules have now been broken and the future has just been brought so much closer !
Yes I do NEED a Medium Format camera…
Well day 10 did not turn out as expected due to far too many phone calls first thing this morning followed by a few to many important emails. So the Liverpool Street plan was scrapped hopefully I can get out on Monday and Tuesday and try again.
I instead decided to go to Speke Hall and take my tripod for some long exposures if the weather held out. Unfortunately as soon as I got there the sun came out and the clouds started to clear so I only managed one LE shot and that is the black and white image below. Its also the School holidays and I had forgotten about that so the place was packed. Great for LE as you can just make the people disappear. I did manage to grab a few shots with no people as well.
I have work commitments for the next three days so wont be able to use the GFX again until Monday and Tuesday so will have to write up days 11 and 12 then, after that the GFX has to go back to Hire A Camera !
I only managed one LE shot but was blown away with the dynamic range of the GFX I did one practise LE shot and underexposed by about 3 minutes. When I moved the exposure slider in Lightroom I found I could rescue the image. I then moved the slider to + and – 5 stops and was blown away but the fact the image could go to both extremes without loss of detail ! This camera is truly quite amazing.
I used to dream as a lad of being a photographer and always wanted to have a great big medium format camera for Landscape and Portraiture. I have owned some MF film cameras but only Hired MF digital cameras due to cost. I think now that Fujifilm have brought MF into the realms of high end DSLRs it’s time for me to fullfill a little boys dream and look at purchasing a MF camera for myself. Once you have used the GFX it really does put all other cameras to shame. Low Noise High Iso Capability combined with super sharp images with a depth and feel you can only get from MF is just the start of this love affair with MF and the GFX. The tones out of the camera are just stunning and the handling is just so intuitive. The touch screen is so clever I found out today that when viewing a scene on the rear LCD if you swipe down you get a heads up aircraft style display to help you get the camera level on all axis.
I did not manage to get many images from today but here are a few, all images shot on 32-64m lens.
I have been busy the last three days with making a short film with two guys from London in Liverpool can’t go in to too much detail but the GFX was involved.
I cant share images from the film but did manage to grab a few shots during the filming over the last few days.
I decided to only use the 63mm f/2.8 over the last three days and make myself work for my shots. I am yet again blown away by this camera ! I might have to take back all I have said about being to big to shoot Street ! Its not the smallest camera in the world and even with the shutter sound turned off it sounds like and old fashioned film camera but no one seems to notice !
I did how ever get some looks from staff when I entered some of the buildings in Liverpool and I have never had that before ! One even said now Filming in here you know !! That was a first for me so I had to explain it was a stills camera !
As you have probably noticed this is no way a technical look at the GFX, I dont ever feel the need to give you all that information there are people far better than me to google to get tec reviews.
Shooting the Albert Dock at night at 12800 ISO (ISO set to Auto) was very interesting ! I still can’t believe I was walking around in the dark even after the blue hour shooting hand held in very dim light and still looking for shots.
This is one very versatile and incredible piece of kit.
I am just just about getting used to its size and weight now, and starting to work out how to handle the camera in the Streets. The menu is a breeze as it’s the same as the other X Series cameras.
I am hoping to get out tomorow in to town and give some street a go with the Zoom and the 63mm and see what I prefer ! I am not a Zoom kind of guy but on the GFX its growing on me.