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.
I recently purchased an X70, it’s not the first time I bought one as I got Jane one when they first came out. Jane was lucky enough to see the X70 before it was made, it was just a mock up the first time she saw it and she said when its made whe would like one. So as soon as it launched I got a her one. She is not that in to Photography so has not used it much. She said I could use it, but that feels wrong to use a present. So in the end when John a friend of mine was selling his to buy an XE3 I decided to buy his X70. It was in as new condition with a few extras for just £325.
I hear he loves his XE3 so its a win win as I really love the X70 its one of the best cameras fujifilm have ever made.
I am not a JPEG shooter but wanted a simple put in my pocket carry everywhere camera that I could change up on the move or even just plug in to my powerbank. I was not fussed about a viewfinder as with the nice wide 18.5mm lens I could just point and shoot. The tilt screen is very good as it tilts in a totally diferent way to the X-T2 and X-T10 so it just perfect for the way I shoot. The only downside to the rear screen is you cant put a thumb grip in the hotshoe as the screen tilts from the top.
I have know there are some big fans of the X70 out there and I also know so much was launched at the same time the X70 came out the camera got overlooked. This is a shame as this little camera is stunning. At the time of writing I do not know if there will be an X80 but if there is and it’s anything like the X70 it will be stunning. If Fujifilm just added bluetooth as they have in the XE3 then that would be good enough for me.
I have seen a few for sale over the last few weeks and these are a bargain.
I am just getting into Video and shot a short clip on the X70 with its flip around screen and was quite impressed, not a bad little vlogging camera to be honest with its selfie view screen.
I set the to Jpeg fine and Classic Chrome with dynamic range to Auto Sharpness +1 Highlight Tone -1 Shadow Tone +1 Noise Reduction 0.
I was away in Edinburgh at the weekend and managed to shoot a few quick images with the X70 and the beauty of this little camera came to light from the start. It was in my pocket all weekend and when not in my pocket on the table next to me. For the first time ever I just copied the jpegs to my ipad and edited them in Lightroom Mobile or Snapseed well that was the intention ! In reality I just made a small crop to most of them.
Lets just say me and the X70 are getting along fine and this little camera is going to live in my pocket and go with me everywhere.
What a stunning bit of kit.
I have been wanting to write this for ages but as a workshop provider people would just think it’s me looking for work but that is far from the truth. Workshops are not the bulk of my income they only provide a fraction of the income my other Photography work provides. I have been teaching less and less workshops and have now finished my own Street workshops so guess this is now the time to write this post.
There are now more workshops than ever in the UK in just about every style of photography you can think of. There is also a downside as well, some of the people teaching don’t have a clue what they are doing and just treat it as a money making exercise ! So much so that now we have big corporate companies getting in on the act to do the same this then makes people feel ripped off.
I dont mind the guys doing it at the weekend to supplement their income as long as they are good at what they do and are doing it for the right reasons.
There is however another growing trend, people go on workshops to get a Photo ! They dont go to learn how to create or make the photo but just to stand next to the workshop leader get them to do everything for them except press the shutter. They do this mostly to win a local camera club competition and also some of the bigger competitions like LPOTY etc I had heard about this, but until recently I had never experienced it probably because my Street Photography workshops do not work like that. You cant get a great Street shot on a workshop or even in a Month or a Year it’s all got to come together Light, Composition, Moment, Great Subject and Emotional impact, to get a great Street shot, you cant just make that happen. On a recent workshop though my heart sank, four out of the five attendees when asked what they hoped to get out of the workshop all said an image for their Street Photography Theme at their Photographic Society ! I nearly fell off my chair. I told them that probably won’t happen today and from that moment on they were not interested in anything I had to say and just made the whole day very difficult. One thing I did notice over the course of the day was they could not even use their cameras not even on basic settings. My workshops state that you must be able to use your camera, as they are geared towards Street.
Over the next few months I started asking questions of workshop providers and it appears there is a growing trend in this area where people don’t want to learn the craft of photography they just want a short cut to taking an image even if that means paying someone to set it all up for them. I personally think that is very sad.
One of the other big issues in the UK and I say the UK because in other countries there is not the same issue, people buy their cameras and they think they are a Professional photographer as soon as they get it out of the box ! This is worrying and scary ! They do not want to pay to learn how to use it and will not go on basic camera workshops because they do not think they need to learn. I also hear people say the workshops are too expensive. In other countries they buy their cameras then have a thirst to learn and book on workshops and hoover up information.
I have to say some workshops are too expensive but most good ones are not and here lies the rub. How do people know good from bad and what is expensive ! We all have diferent budgets and needs so what price is learning ! I have set up workshops with amazing Landscape photographers like Paul Sanders at really cheap prices in the Lakes and Glencoe and this year we struggle to fill places at £299 people have said this is too expensive. We were in Glencoe a few years back and there was a group that had paid £5500 for the same workshop with a guy that was nowhere near as good as Paul and remarked how cheap we were !
I was one of the people who has never done a workshop, I have heard lots of people say people that teach workshops have never done one themselves. That always makes me laugh as for me its true. I have never taken a workshop but there is a reason for that. I am dyslexic and I have a capacity to learn very quickly, I only have to read it once or try it out and I have got it. I am also over 50 so when I was learning my craft there were very few workshops about so I could not find anywhere to learn. I was lucky enough to have friends and family to point me in the right direction.
I am also very stubborn and did not think there was need for workshops so much so that I refused to teach workshops up until I was 49 because I thought there was no need. How wrong was I. The first workshop I taught had lots of Teachers and University Lecturers at it and that then changed my whole outlook on teaching. Their feedback on my teaching style was very welcome and so has the feedback from all my workshops over the years.
I learnt from teaching workshops that yes quite a lot of people can figure it out for themselves after all I did and these days we have Youtube and social media for help. But if you really want to learn and get to your final goal quicker real practical help in a workshop group can’t be beaten.
There is a small downside to workshops that I deal with right at the start of mine, it’s the know it all people that come on workshops to try and undermine the workshop provider and make himself look good. I dont think they realise how much people in the groups hate this. I recently had a request from a lady to have women only workshops because of the men that do this and try to make women feel stupid ! I pointed out to her that it’s not always the men unfortunately.
In the years I have been teaching and organising workshops I have been shocked to see the amount of people that can’t use a camera out of program and will also not admit they can’t use it. When we set up workshops we have beginner days and advanced days and the advanced days sell out first every time and the beginner days are a struggle. The annoying thing is on the advanced days you have three or for people that can’t use a camera taking up places of people that can. I find this as frustrating as the workshop leaders as they just don’t have the time teach basic camera technique on an advanced workshop.
I own a little company called Fujiholics and we have been running photowalks and workshops over the last few years and the questions we get asked the most is ” When are you going to do basic camera workshops” “will you do Fujifilm Camera workshops as I have moved from Canon to Fujifilm” ” I have moved from Nikon to Fujifilm will you have workshops” We listened and set up a set of workshops in London and we are setting the workshops up in the Northwest and Scotland and a few more places once I find the right people for the job and guess what ? So far no one has booked on the any of the workshops.
On photowalks I get so many people wanting to learn how to use their cameras its unreal. I am guessing people just dont want to pay in the UK and I don’t understand this as in other countries they pay a fortune to educate themselves.
I understand people go on workshops for many diferent reasons, some to learn, some to be with the people who are top of their game, some for the community element, some for a holiday and plenty of other reasons so it hard to address all these needs in one blog. One of the best reasons is to be inspired so that you go out and shoot with renewed vigour, if you just learn a couple of new things every time but get inspired to go out and shoot it might just save you a fortune in buying that new camera or lens that you hope will do the same but never does. Lets face it a workshop is a lot cheaper option in most cases. There is also another reason people do workshops and courses and that is because they are single and its a great way to explore the world and far of places with a group of liked minded people and learn at the same time.
I know that sometimes great teachers are not always the best photographers they are just very good at teaching and vice versa so this also muddies the waters.
So it is very difficult to tell people who are the best people to go on a workshop with, but we do have Google. I recommend you google the person whose workshop you are attending and find out all about them, check out their work and check them out. Use Tripadvisor and Google ratings and even Facebook ratings and see what other people think before you spend your hard earned cash.
Street photography is a good example in in the UK there are not very many good Street photographers in the UK but if you google Street Photography workshops in London you would be shocked at how many there are and I know for a fact at least half of these workshops have been ripped off from some of the top guys in the field. I have even seen my whole workshop copied and pasted on Eventbrite to sell tickets. You really do need to do your research and look in to your chosen subject and google the hell out of it even read lots of top Street photographers lists and look at what a great Street images is before you decide to go on a workshop that has nothing to do with real Street whatsoever ! There is a great book by David Gibson called the Street Photographers Manual. I would recommend you buy it and read it before you start to think about a workshop. If you want to know some of the best Street workshops in the UK then email me email@example.com and I will tell you the ones that I think will be a great learning experience. This is the Same for Landscape, Macro, City Scape, Long Exposure etc Google the workshop leaders and look in to them are these people that you want to learn from ?
So why did I write this ?
I want all those people out there that want a shortcut to creating a great image to wake up and admit to themselves they need to slow down and start to learn how to use their cameras. There are no short cuts it’s a life long long journey this photography lark. You can shorten the learning curve by taking workshops the right ones will help you move up the ladder, if you can pick up one or two things from each workshop then you will get to your end goal a lot quicker but trying to get the workshop leader to do it all for you is like cheating at your exams ! Yes I know some people go on workshop after workshop to pay for an image but that is not the way. Some people are just not creative enough to succeed in photography with out cheating just as I am not a great writer I just know my limits.
So if you can’t use a camera out of Auto and struggle to create an images get your self on a basic camera workshop and start the creative process right there.
Workshops are not cheap you might think, a good basic workshop will be between £60 and £120 a day for a group or £350 upwards for a 1:1 depending on what you want to learn and who the person in teaching you. Trust me that is not expensive my commercial rate alone is over £100 an hour. I teach workshops because I enjoy it, not to make money it’s a loss for me every time I teach.
I cant tell you all the best price to pay for a workshop it all depends on your income or disposable income but I can say people do not like spending money on learning in the UK.
I am quite proud of the people that have come on my Workshops over the years and the ones that have come on the Fujiholics workshops, I have seen the progression in their work and some have come on leaps and bounds. I will not mention any names and embarrass my attendees but after only a few workshops they are turning out some amazing work whereas before they were just muddling along. I have had some people come on one workshop that changed their journey and some who have been on 10+ they all have improved. Quite a few have become good friends over the years as well.
We even get Pro shooters on the workshops and the main reason is to further their knowledge and alter their learning curve. I know quite a few at the top of their game that attend at least three workshops a year just to further their knowledge and make them think out of the box.
You would be surprised at the difference a good workshop or course can make to your workflow and enthusiasm , so go for it and give it a go. If you have has a bad experience in the past and this does happen then drop me an email and I will try and point you in the right direction. There is a hell a lot of difference between a snap and a great images and the only way to learn the difference is to start that learning process now.
It’s the end of my second GFX50s hire today and it’s left me with lots of ideas spinning round in my head. The good news for me is that I now have my own! If you follow my blog you will know that I bit the bullet and purchased this stunning camera.
It was the hardest decision I have had to make for quite a few reasons and one was size!
The whole reason I moved over to Fujifilm was camera size. After working with a pair of Nikon D3s Full frame bodies I needed to downsize for the sake of my back and neck. Back then my work was varied but I shot a lot of gigs etc where I carried lots of heavy gear around all day and it was taking its toll.
I changed to the Fujifilm X System on a wing and a prayer and the amazing thing is the X System has developed in to a range of great cameras and lenses with such a massive choice for all the tastes out there. The X System cameras are stunning and offer choice between Rangefinder and more conventional style bodies. My favorite X series cameras for Street Photography are the XPro2, X70 and X100F. These cameras are perfect for my Street style small, compact and light. I have also recently bought an X-T20 for travel and occasionally Street mainly because I love that touch screen. I do prefer the Rangefinder style for Street photography as I find they handle better for the way I shoot and I hate having my nose squashed on the rear screen of a camera. The X-T20 works really well with the tilt out screen and the X70 is just so stunning I cant even put it into words. I really do hope that one day Fujifilm do make an X80 ! We can only hope.
I have been fighting with myself over the GFX50s for a while now and I even said at the start it has no place in my workflow it’s just too big. I was lucky enough to see the GFX long before it was put into production and thought at the time this is very big but the version I held had the grip on it.
So along came a few changes in direction for me as far as my business is concerned and then the big V small argument in my head started. I had quite a few Fujifilm bodies and lenses at the time and decided what ever happens I need to sell some of my kit off and make way for new. Yes of course I had the GFX stuck in my head but I also had the BIG camera issue stuck in my head.
As I started to sell off my gear I had to decide what to keep and what to sell and as I picked up the X-T2 I realised I only really used this camera for Landscape work and with any Landscape work always came a bag full of gear to put in the van for all those occasions ! So that is when I realised that some photography does require quite a bit of kit that weighs more than you would like. I also had quite a few lenses I used for landscape and none of them gave me what I wanted ! I wanted massive field of view.
So I started to sell off my spares bodies and all the lenses I did not use ! I will not even tell you the amount of times I put lenses in boxes to sell then changed my mind. In the end I got there though.
I am lucky because I plan to semi retire this month so want to get back to shooting what I love and want to start using the best camera for the job so this process was very therapeutic bit like a spring clean in my head and it’s not even spring.
So what lenses did I keep in the X series range ! The 16mm 1.4 was the first one to stay it’s just the best lens that Fujifilm make for the X Series. I also kept the 23mm 35mm 50mm and 90mm F/2 lenses because they are small light and sharp I also kept the 18-55mm Zoom it’s just such an amazing travel lens. I would not part with it and also if I had an accident on a trip with any of my other primes this lens would get me out of trouble. I nearly sold the 50-140mm f/2.8 about 5 times but in the end could not part with it or the 1.4 teleconverter. The 50-140mm is so good, so much better than my old Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII so it had to stay. I also kept the wide conversion lens for my X100F. The rest I sold and I had all the lenses Fujifilm make and most of the bodies. My shelf looked bare but I was happy with my decision.
Then the real argument started in my head, how can you buy a GFX when you want to only use small cameras ! How will this work !
To solve the argument in my head I had to pretend I was not an X Photographer and that I could buy any camera on the market ! So if this was the case what would I buy myself.
Well it would not be a DSLR because I have grown to hate mirrors ! So what could it be ! The answer I came up with every time was Leica or Phase ! Because of the sensors and image quality mainly but I still wanted quality glass. I sat down with a calculator and worked out the cost of a new system and then added the GFX50s in to the pot. In the end after a few days the answer was the GFX and so I hired it to find out.
I was blown away by not just the image quality but also the fact the camera was not as big as I thought it was ! I documented the hire on here and then I hired it again. This time with the 23mm lens and I was lucky enough to have the new 45mm pre production on loan from Fujifilm. The 45mm is a very nice lite lens and makes the camera so much more usable with a light fast light lens it really is not much bigger than a D800.
So that was it I was sold, I bought the GFX with a 23mm 110mm and 32-64mm for a retirement present for myself with no real business plan ! I do however have some ideas for future projects and exhibitions.
Its quite funny though because the day after I bought the camera I picked up work with it and then picked up a bit more and so far I now have £3500 in outstanding invoices from buying it so I guess at this rate it will pay for itself in six months !
I always say over and over again to people it’s got nothing to do with the camera it’s the final image that counts and I still believe this is true. I have been excited by very few cameras in my life the first was the Nikon Fm2 then the Nikon D3s then the Fujifilm X100 in fact the X100 changed the way I thought about my work and the way I shoot. I have also loved most of the X Series line up and I am sure a few will end up classics one day.
I did not think the GFX would do this to me and in all honesty I did not realise it was getting to me that way, it was Jane who woke me up. She was sitting with me in the office the other night and she said “it does matter though !” I said “what does ?” She said “I have not seen you this excited looking at images since you had your X100” ! She is right I am blown away by this camera and Fujifilm are right to call it a game changer.
I guess it’s come at the perfect time in my life and I hope to produce some new and interesting work with it over the next few years.
I think what will make a difference to quite a lot of people thinking about this camera is the new Smart Adaptors that are now appearing on the market. Now all you guys that don’t want to part with all your Canon glass can get an adaptor and use it with the GFX.
I have not tried any of the Adapters yet I was going to but so far Fujifilm have all the lenses I need.
I still love my Little X Series cameras for Street and travel and they will stay my default cameras for that style of work, but I really want to find a place for the GFX in my street work too. I might just have to adapt the way I work to suit the camera. Where have I heard that before ? Yes it was what I said that day I got the X100 !
Not sure where to start but I will start here ! So after my first Hire I was hooked.
So during me second hire that started on the 9th of November I decided to buy the GFX50s for a early retirement present without any thought of return on my investment or a businesses plan to get any return.
I have already managed to pick up some work with the camera and that was not the intention but you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Who knows at this rate I might even have this thing paid off in a year !
I know the size of Instagram and Twitter will not do the GFX files justice but in conjunction with this blog I think it will work fine.
On the 18th of October I turn 55 and its time to start winding down my workload and making time for my projects. I will not fully retire ever but I will work more and more towards projects and ideas that have sat in my head waiting for this very year.
Some will remain secret until they are seen at an exhibition others will be documented all the way through.
For me the future starts here….