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2017 Year of Colour

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GFX50s 32-64mm at 32mm 1/90 sec f/11 ISO100 

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.

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GFX50s 32-64mm 1/160sec at f/8 ISO200 

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.

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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.

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X-T2 90mm 1/680sec f/2.2 ISO400

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.

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X-T2 90mm 1/2200sec f/4 ISO400 

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.

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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.

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X-T2 90mm 1/280sec f/2 ISO400 

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.

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GFX50S 110mm 1/30sec f/10 ISO100 

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 still have a couple of workshops left in 2018 as Matthew Hart Photography but will be putting a lot more time in to Fujiholics.

I hope you all have a great Christmas see you all in 2018.

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X70 1/250sec f/2.8 ISO 1600

GXF50s days 4,5,6…

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GFX days 4,5,6 are all a bit of a blur, it was such a great weekend with great friends and went far to fast.

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It was Fujiholics Wales Weekend. This year a small group of Fujiholics met up in Beddgelert for the weekend with no real plan. Well there was a plan, take a few photos drink some beer have a few coffees and some cake ! Share some stories and catch up with friends old and new.

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We all met up on Cae Du Campsite on Friday night and had a few beers and discussed the plan for Saturday ! This was a complete waste of time as we changed our minds in the morning.   We decided to take the Steam Train from Beddgelert to Porthmadog on the Welsh Highland Railway.   The original plan was to do a Circular Walk.

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It was a fantastic little journey and Jane was just a little bit excited !  She even got to drive a Steam Train at Porthmadog station with some of the girls in the group.

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We went in to an amazing cafe called Jennys for breakfast in Porthmadog, they had some of the best home cooked cakes we had seen for quite a while ! The Lemon meringue pies were to dies for and we brought two for the journey home !!

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We had a great journey back and ate most of the lemon meringue and finished the evening off in the village in Saracens Head with a very nice meal and a few pints.

We all made our own way home on Sunday as North Wales was quite busy and there were not to many places to park for a Fujiholics tour…

I shot all the images from the weekend on the GFX in a variety of lighting conditions and processed the black and white images with Silver Efex Pro and the colour images are all just a very quick lightroom edit.

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I carried the GFX around all weekend and I have to say it was not as heavy as I expected but its still on the heavy side. You know you have it round your neck after a days walking thats for sure. The point is though does it matter ? The answer is yes and no ! Its heavy and if it was a DSLR there would be no point in the extra weight when you have the X-T2 or XPro2 but this thing is so good you dont care ! I again only went out with the 32-64mm lens just to save carrying the other lenses with me and found it just perfect a very versatile lens indeed.

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I am shooting a film in the morning and will be taking the GFX and might try one of primes just to change things up abit.

I will try and get you some images online tomorow night when we finish shooting the video but if I get in late I will skip it until Wednesday night.

So far I am loving the GFX and so much so I have just hired it again for another project in November. I have hired a some diferent lenses for November so will be able to show you the a few images shot on those then. I still have to use the 63mm and the and the 120mm and hope to do that this week at some point.

I cant wait to get up to Scotland to shoot some Landscape with this amazing bit of kit.

One thing is for sure I will be sad to see the GFX go back at the end of the hire its got to be the best camera I have ever used in my life and the files are just so easy to edit ! They are a breeze in Lightroom, I am for the first time just starting to fall a little in love with Colour !!! Yes on my year of colour I am starting to work out what I like about colour and thats all down to the GFX.

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2017 a Year of Colour

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Way back in 2013 my project was A Year of Black and White and this was to explore my digital black and white photography in many ways and to see what I could learn in a year. I mainly wanted to learn how to process black and white files and try to find a style that would suit me. It was a great success but as time goes by and we get older our tastes change.

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I did not think in 2017 I would be doing a year of colour !   I have been thinking about it for a while now and I have decided it’s time to give it a go. If I am asked to produce Black and White images for clients then I will do but the rest of my work will be shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom and possibly Viveza but we shall have to see how that progresses.

I would love to be able to just use Fujifilm Jpegs but I am not sure they can give me the starting point I need for a simple workflow.

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I could never have done this project with Nikon as the RAW files were such a pain for me to process and to find consistency with. I have noticed however the Fujifilm RAF files are almost where I need them to be be to create a colour style. I could be mistaken but this is what 2017 will all be about.

So on the 1st of January 2017 I will start the project and it will finish on the 31st of December 2017, I have not quite decided where I am going to start putting the images apart from social media as I hate mixing black and white and colour so I need to think about this over the next couple of weeks.

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I hope to come out of 2017 with a more consistent colour workflow and a more interesting colour style. I also want to explore Colour Street photography through my own eyes.

Black and White Street photography has always been an amazing storytelling medium and I have always found colour quite annoying, but as I get older its growing on me.

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My colour work has always been a bit abstract and a little loud and I have toned that down for people but that means I have fallen into the trap of pleasing the viewer and not myself. Its now time to change all that and work out what works for me.

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I am quite looking forward to it and in a way it’s quite exciting and as with my Year of Black and White I will have the RAW files in 2018 if I need to process any images into black and white.

One of my favorite Street Photographers is Saul Leiter and I know his style has inspired me so now I need to explore colour for myself and see where it takes me.

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Why Street?

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One of the most common questions I get asked is “How did you get into Street Photography ? ”

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I guess the simple answer is by accident, I didn’t  even know I was shooting Street until about eight years ago.

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I was given my first camera about the age of eight and living in a big city I guess I have always taken pictures of people on the street. I have also photographed just about every genre of Photography there is. At one time I was known as the photographer that could shoot anything. I guess this label was true and I could shoot just about anything. It’s part of being a professional photographer you soon learn to shoot what will pay the bills and you get better and better as a photographer the more strange situations you find yourself in.

I have always tried to separate my passion from my work and with some of the jobs I have had outside of photography industry this was easy. The trouble with being a professional photographer is how do you separate your passion from your day to day photography. This was a struggle at first especially as I am so busy with work but now I have found the simple answer. Only talk about and shoot what I am passionate about and turn the rest down !!

So why Street Photography ? I guess it’s all about people watching. I have always been a people watcher, every occupation I have ever had, I would spend my lunch breaks and spare time watching people in towns and cities.  This then turned into trying to capture those special little moments as with the right light. I shot a lot of people in the street and most of what the images were bland and boring and did not tell much of a story although I found it relaxing and great fun. I did get through a lot of rolls of film and did not have a lot to show for it, but it got me out in the fresh air.

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I have spent quite a bit of time shooting portraits and headshots and spent some time shooting glamour in a studio and found that type of work where you set up the shot with perfect light and perfect people to be too contrived. I wanted more excitement.  Instead of using the holy trinity of photography Light, Composition and Moment in the Studio I wanted to go out and look for it on the Streets. Quite mad you might think and yes at times I get very frustrated by the simple fact there is no light, I cant get the composition right and the moment never comes. This was compounded  by the fact I am a Candid Street Photographer so will never compromise and set up a shot. I can’t change the dynamic in the scene it just doesn’t sit right with me. I have thought about it many times when working on project for big companies but just can’t do it.

I have shot Candid Street for years without knowing that it was Street Photography, the image below was part of my early windows project back in 2009 in Tunbridge Wells. It was a couple of years before this image was taken that some of my friends started calling me a Street Tog and I did not take any notice. I just thought they were naming me for what I liked to shoot. But the name started to stick and make me wonder so I started looking in to Street a properly around 2012-2013 but after looking at some of the amazing work of the masters felt my work was just ordinary.

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However I decided to read up on Street Photography and check out the masters of Street and other modern Street Photographers. It’s about then I worked out I was probably a Candid Street Photographer. In 2013 I did a ‘Year of Black and White’ project and off the back of the project I was asked to do some talks about photography and from there the workshops came and I started teaching Street Photography and Black & White editing.

The funny thing is at the time I was still not sure what I was doing was right !! Then a friend of mine gave me a book by David Gibson The Street Photographer’s Manual   This was a breakthrough moment as I agreed with 95% of the book and then realised this was how I was teaching so thought to myself I must be doing something right ! Thanks David for writing a great book and Elaine for giving me the book.

I still don’t see myself as a Street Photographer yet, I feel I have a long way to go and one day hope to finish a project that I am really happy with and take one amazing Street image. I guess some of my work won’t be relevant for 50-100 years but I love what I do and can’t wait to get stuck in to my next project..

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Fujifilm XPRO 2

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Fujifilm X10

My Fujifilm journey started back in 2011 but it was hit and miss.  I was a Nikon shooter and had been for over 40 years. In 2011 I found myself looking for a camera system that was smaller and lighter than my Professional Nikon system. I looked at Sony and Panasonic  but wanted great glass and realised that only the top players in the camera market could offer this. I picked up a Fuji X10 and had a love hate relationship with it so in the end sold it. I read all the reviews and was put off the X100 but in the end found one for a good price on ebay and purchased a really nice camera.

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Fujifilm X100

The image above was one of the first images I shot with the X100 and I was hooked. This amazing little camera was producing images far cleaner than my Nikon D3s and for a fraction of the cost. Yes focus was slow and it only had one lense but it was the way it made me feel that shocked me, this camera had set me free.

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Fujifilm XPRO1 14mm f/2.8

It was not long before I walked in to Cambrian Photography and took a massive leap of faith. I bought the Xpro1 along with the 18mm, 60mm and the 18-55mm Kit lens and decided to give it a go on my trip to Venice. I had made up my mind that if it worked for me I would come home and sell all my professional Nikon Gear.

Before I went I was almost convinced this would not happen, how could this Xpro1 replace my D3s and Pro glass as it was so slow to focus and so awkward to use !

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Fujifilm XPro1 18mm f/2
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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8

I came back from Venice and the decision had been made this XPro1 was perfect for me. I was convinced that stepping away from mainstream DSLR’s and choosing a camera that slowed me down and made me think out of the box again was the way forward. So I took the leap and sold all my Nikon gear.  I said to myself that if I needed a Pro DSLR for a job I would just hire one. That was four years ago and I have not needed to use a DSLR and will never look back.

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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm XPro1 18mm f/2
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Fujifilm XPro1 35mm f/1.4
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Fujifilm X-T1 50-140MM F/2.8

It’s amazing how the reason you changed gets under your skin at times and the slow focus on the XPro1 drove me to buy the X-T1 and the X-T10. These cameras work perfectly for my event photography and due to the small size of the X-T10 I started to use two of these stunning little cameras back to back one with 27mm f/2 and one with 90mm f/2 lenses. It is quite amazing how small the X-T10 is with the 27mm lens it’s almost the same size as the X100T.

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Fujifilm X-T10 35mm f/1.4
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Fujifilm X-T1 50-140mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm X100T

My plan was if I am totally honest was to wait for the X-T2 if there was one and use my X-T10s for Street and the X-T1 for Landscape and wet events and bring the X-T2 in to play.

But then BOOM Fuji asked me to test out the Xpro2 and it’s just changed my photography all over again. When I first picked it up my first thought was where is the tilting screen ? It’s hard to go out and test a camera that is not due out for three months when you are a Street photographer I can tell you.

I started using the Xpro2 and at first I was not blown away, but this was the same feeling I have had with all the Fuji X Cameras. They are like magic in your hands, the more you get to know the camera, the more they come alive in your hands. This camera is fast to focus, it surely has to be the fastest yet.

The shape of the camera is a vast improvement over the XPro1  and the inclusion of two fast card slots is going to make quite a few wedding shooters happy.  The inclusion of the ISO dial in with the shutter speed dial, puts all the buttons and knobs back on the outside of the camera so you have the exposure triangle where you need it. There is a neat little joystick on the back of the camera and the buttons are all in the right place for me.

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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8

 

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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8 (ooc  jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 ( ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8 (Silver Efex Pro 2) (Japan Gallery Image)

You all know I am not one for technical write ups as all the pixel stuff does not do anything for me and there are camera testers all over the UK that can test this camera to death for you all. But one word of caution, I was put off the X System for six months before I got the X100 because of all the reviews so be careful what you choose to read. This system is not all about pixels and super fast this and that, it is about changing your way of thinking.

So why do I love this camera ? It’s easy,  I don’t have to edit any of my images any more. I have always been a RAW shooter converting in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 until now. This camera is a game changer for me and the file size is just about right. The XPro2 is going to change my photography for the better.

The design of the XPro2 compared to the Xpro1 is completely different making the XPro2 sit so nicely in your hand.

I am going to be shooting Jpeg with the XPro2 for the next year with the 35mm f/2 lens for a Street Project I am doing with a few friends on Flickr. I love a good project and this project will help me to learn how to setup and use the Xpro2 for Jpeg and never have to edit again. The time this is going to save me is life changing. At the moment I have the camera set up to black and white with green filter. I have Dynamic Range set to 200%, Highlight Tone -1, Shadow Tone +3, Sharpness +1, Noise Reduction off. I will be playing around with these settings a lot more over the coming months.

It’s been a pleasure testing this new camera for Fujifilm and it was also an honour to have one of my images that I shot on the XPro2 selected for the Exhibition in Japan with 100 other X Photographers from around the world.

I think Fujifilm have made a stunning camera and I would like to thank them for for listening to all the X Photographers and Fujiholics around the world and adding most of the requests and ideas to this little camera.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I am so glad I made that leap of faith nearly 5 years ago. The Xpro2 is a huge step forward I am quite sure the Fuji roadmap is going to be very exciting…

Here is a video I shot about the my Fujifilm journey including some XPro 2 images.

 

 

Desert Island Fuji

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I often get asked what would my desert Island camera be! This used to be a hard question in the days of the DSLRs but not anymore it’s very simple it’s the Fujifilm X100. It does not really matter what version of  X100 you have, they are all great. The X100 was a stunning camera and I am sure will go on to be a classic, the X100s was a big improvement and the X100T might not be a massive jump from the S but it’s worth every penny, after all the other two are so last year !

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X100 Mersey Ferry

One of the main reasons for my desert island camera choice is the fixed lens, no dust or sand on the sensor is a big plus for me for a take anywhere camera. This camera fits in my pocket and can go anywhere I want all over the world and takes up no room. If you don’t add any of the great lenses and bolt on accessories this little camera even fits in your trouser pocket. I am not going to go in to the technical side of the X100T  you can find this information all over the internet. I am not going to tell you about all the great accessories or the two stunning add on lenses because I don’t use them, for one reason and one reason alone they make it bigger for my street work. However the Fujifilm Tele Conversion Lens TCL-X100 and the WCL-X100 Wide Angle Conversion Lens are on my must have list for my Travel Photography.

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Fuji X100 Isle of Islay

I am just going to share with you a few of my images I have shot with the X100 versions over the last couple of years. Besides I have to be 100% honest with you and say the last ever camera review I read was on the very first X100 and it sold it down the river! Yes I was late to the X100 because the reviews were not great. Some people still pick this camera up and don’t understand it. But to really appreciate this little camera you need to be stuck on a desert island with it. You will be calling it Wilson by the end of your stay ( for those that watched Cast Away )

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X100 Ferry Isle of Mull

I made a big mistake a couple of years back and sold my X100 ! I don’t even know why I did it but I missed it so much. Sounds crazy, when I first got my X100 it drove me nuts at times with its quirks and every time I looked at the image on the back of the screen I was convinced I had not nailed the focus, but I had. Once I had the images open in Lightroom I was happy and excited and wanted to get back out and shoot. It has its quirks but they are very easy to live with but the benefits outweigh any quirks tenfold. This little camera is a carry anywhere camera that packs a massive punch with its stunning sensor.

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I have a few friends now that own the X100 the X100s and the X100T to be honest I know a large amount of people that are buying the X100 and they are shooting Fashion,Landscape,Street,Long Exposre and so much more.

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X100 Applecross Bay
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X100 Isle of Islay

For me the X100T is the go anywhere shoot anything camera and even better the X100T is so good looking you never put it away. Mine sits on my desk waiting to go out and shoot. I have a black one and this is my preferred colour for street photography, it suites my candid style.

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Lets face it, with the X100T, you can have your cake and eat it…

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Liverpool Photo Walk 2015 #LiverpoolPW15

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I organised a Liverpool Photo Walk for Saturday the 10th January 2015, it became known as #LiverpoolPW15. My first thoughts were for a walk to see in the New Year, and get a few like minded people out in the fresh air for a nice walk around the city.  So I set up my Eventbrite page with 100 free places. I thought if I set 100 places and 100 people sign up about 30 might come, but 100 places were gone in a week!  So I made 200 places, and in the end I had 130 people sign up to the walk.

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The weather forecast for the day was not great high wind and rain so I was not expecting too many people and had received a few emails to let me know people could not make it, so I was not expecting a great turnout. But I was wrong, a few head counts on the day revealed we had around 175 people in total! Wow that was a great attendance!

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So thank you to all you guys that attended the walk, you all made it a great day, and after all, photo walks are all about like minded people at a social event taking photos and sharing tricks and tips, and having a great day meeting new people and making new friends in real life and then becoming friends on social media.

I have had a large amount of emails thanking me for the day. Some quite overwhelming! You know who you are and it was nice to meet you guys to and glad you came out. I have tried to reply to as many as I can but if I have missed any sorry and thanks for your emails.

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The feedback has been great and yes I will be organizing  another free walk later in the year around October time I expect, not yet decided on Liverpool again or Edinburgh! Feel free to email me your thoughts on what city.

I would like to thank all the guys in the trade that put up prizes and supplied tea and coffee and discounts and gifts for the day. So a BIG thank you to Cambrian Photography, SmugMug,Formatt Hitech,Wilkinsons,FujifilmUK.

Thank you Sarah,Richard,Alistair,James,Alex,G,Jim,Tony and everyone that helped out on the day.

For information on the next one check out my Eventbrite Page for updates.

For the Video of the day.

Thanks again for a great turnout I hear it might be the largest ever UK photo walk so thanks everyone see you on the next one.

Matt

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