I guess we all struggle to get the work life balance right and being a full time self employed Photographer the work life balance can go right out of the window ! I have always had a big problem saying no to work and this year has been no exception. I expected after finishing working with Fujifilm UK in February things would go quiet and I could look forward to just planning my own workshops and time away for Jane and I. I soon worked out its not quite that simple. The downside to our lifestyle at the moment is Jane works for the NHS and has mostly weekends off and I work most weekends so we don’t see much of each other at times, so we get used to quite a lot of time apart.
The long term plan is now starting to fall in to place even though there is hardly any free time on this years year planner at the moment. I have now finished my Wex Photographic 2018 commitment and at last I am free to start planning 2019. I will still take on the odd days from some of the big companies like Wex and some of the other great shops like Wilkinsons, just not as many days as before.
It was mentioned a few times on Social media this week that I had moved over to work with Canon now I had left Fujifilm. I will put the record straight right here and now, I am not with Canon. This October I plan to be semi-retired so I will not be signing any contracts with anyone. I am still involved with Gnarbox as the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team but my commitment to the team is minimal and also fits in very nicely with my future travel plans so will not hold me back from my work life balance goals.
If you read my blog you will know that I bought the Canon G7x because my Fujifilm Cameras got locked in the Wex Glasgow store by accident a few weeks back and I needed to get a camera from Argos early on a Sunday morning so it was an impulse purchase but has turned out to be one of the best little pocket cameras I have ever owned. The sensor is only one inch so its not as good as my Fujifilm X Series cameras but with its 24-100mm Equivalent fast Zoom its so much better than my iphone as an every day pocket camera.
I work most weeks teaching with the Fujifilm X100F and the X70 and these are just the best tools for me teaching Street Photography. When I go off on Landscape Trips or teach Landscape I take the GFX System as that is the right tool for me for Landscapes and I also have the XPro2 for Street and Landscape with a selection of lenses.
I do have a few Canon Cameras and these are all for Shooting Video and they are the C100mk2 the 200D and the 5DMK4 and and a selection of lenses. I have some future Film plans and needed a camera system that was tried and tested.
The beauty of not having a contract with any brand is that I don’t have to stick to one set of tools and can use the best tools for the job ! Fujifilm make the cameras I need for all my Stills work and Canon for my Video the little G7x is just an exception to the rule, its great for video but also just so much fun to take stills with.
This weekend I got a very rare chance to get away in my Camper with Jane for a couple of days and decided not to take any camera gear. I did however take the G7x with me as a back up to my iphone ! Its light, fits in my pocket and the battery lasts all day and even if I do need to charge it I can just plug it in my powerbank !
This weekend was a time to reflect and its great to find a campsite that has no phone reception to get away from it all for a couple of days. We love Cae Du Campsite its just one of the most quiet and peaceful sites in Wales and perfect to get away from it all. I have a long term and short term plan and at times in this job you just cant see the wood for the trees. I have now had time to reflect and put the next four years in to some order.
My new workshops are online here and I will be putting a few more online over the next few months, these will be workshops I have designed to help people who already know how to use a camera, to discover more about the art of taking pictures.
I also have a new business plan that will come in to action next March at my end of year, so all going well I should have lots more time to do what I want to do and that is travel and explore with Jane. This will at last redress my work life balance ! I hope.
I will leave you with a few images taken over the weekend with the little Canon G7X in and around Beddgellert.
This is just to remind everyone that I am with Wex Photographic over the next 3 months and have 15 photowalks and a couple of talks around the UK branches.
These are very reasonably priced and a great way to get out in your local city with like-minded people for a few hours of Photography.
Here is the link to sign up hope to see a few of you guys there.
Today I made the decision to hand back my X and become an X X Photographer !
This was not an easy decision but the timing was about right for me and my business moving forward.
So what camera system will I be moving to you might all ask ! Well the truth is I am not going to be moving to any other system, I love the Fujifilm X System and the GFX and this will remain my brand of choice.
I never ever got paid by Fujifilm to say that the X System was great and always said I only said it was great because that was the way I felt about it. But there are plenty of people that did not believe me. I can honestly say now that Fujifilm have never paid me to say the X system is great and from now on I will still be using what I feel is the right system for my workflow. I loved the X100 the day it was released and I have loved all the X Series cameras that I have used. Going back to basics when I moved over from Nikon and got the first X100 and XPro1 made me slow down and think and the sensors have always blown me away. The XPro1 was and still is as much a game changer back then as the GFX is the game changer today. The fact that the exposure triangle is where you need it and the cameras just feel right in your hands will never change and the work I have produced with the X Series cameras speaks for itself. I can’t wait to see what Fujifilm bring us in the future.
Watching all the griping and moaning about the new XH1 from all the Nikon and Canon users on social media has made me laugh over the last couple of weeks. Fujifilm have come up with a camera that you all asked for ! So why all the moaning that its too big or the grip is not right or this and that ! It’s hard to read and pathetic at times. Photography is about the image and creating amazing images with the 6 inches behind the camera not the tech that goes in to it. Video is a whole new ballgame and Fujifilm are now improving in that field as well and in time I am sure will bring us an amazing camera for Video. I really do wish people would get on with creating great content with stills or video and be proud of the work they produce and get off social media moaning and running people and companies down.
I only own one camera that is not a Fujifilm camera and its a Canon 200D and this is my Vlogging camera and will remain my Vlogging camera until Fujifilm make a camera with an articulated screen that I can use to Vlog with. I would use my X-T20 all the time for Video and Vlogging but its just takes me to long to set up, even though I prefer the images out of the X-T20 I love the ease of use of the 200D. I did use my X-70 for a while but the Rode Mic would get in the way of the flip up screen. I have used the X-T20 and the 200D side by side on some workshops and can say that the X-T20 images are always better, but the 200D is just a breeze to work with when filming yourself. Fingers crossed in the future Fujifilm with bring us a decent articulated screen and all my dreams will come true.
I have been so busy over the last few years I have hardly had any time to stop and think and even worse I have not been able to give the time I need to develop Fujiholics. I sat down at the end of 2017 and decided I needed to make changes to my business plan to give more time to Fujiholics in 2018 / 2019 and also to concentrate on my own business and get back to making images I like and not images that people expect me to make.
I have three projects on the go this year and also need the time to concentrate on my own personal work. The fear has always been that I would start to hate photography because I would spend more time in the office and less time out taking photos and last year was very much 90% hard graft marketing and I hardly shot a thing. So it’s time for change. I still love the photowalks and getting out and meeting people and I really do love all the Fujiholics what a great bunch of people and the community I believe is one of the best in the industry.
I have absolutely loved all my time with the Fujifilm UK team and the Fujifilm team around the world it’s honestly been some of the best moments of my Photography career. I have never met such a passionate bunch of people in all my life, the team really do believe in the X Series as much as we the users do and that makes them very special team.
I have lots and lots of plans for Fujiholics in the future and with the help of Richard Waine and my new Business Partner who will be revealed very soon I hope to bring all the Fujiholics some great new content and a few surprises.
So thank you to all the guys at Fujifilm you all know who you are and here is to an even more exciting future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !!
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.
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.
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.