It’s been a difficult year so far, apart from a couple of days work at Peoples Ford Liverpool I have hardly been out with a camera and this bank holiday weekend was the first real chance to be out with my camera this year. I thank my good friends Rich and Elaine for the opportunity to get out and get some fresh air.
Not going in to many details but waiting for my Gallbladder to be removed and daily pain has taken its toll. Not only am I now in daily pain but every now and again when a stone decides to move in to a bile duct I have around 15 hours of intense pain and this can be at any time of day or night at at the most random and annoying times. Lucky for me I had a weekend with minimal issues and was able to get out with my camera, even thought I probably drove my friends mad moaning about my Health !
I have driven past the Marble Church for about 10 years and about 5 years ago I decided I would like to try and photography it. However it’s one of those places on a journey so you very rarely can be bothered to stop. I had a vision in my head of what I would like but as soon as we got there it started to rain. Great for cloud formation but a pain in the arse for rain on the lens !! I also had a vision of what I wanted to shoot and to be honest the first walk around the Church I realized I was to close and needed to be further away I also had to deal with too much distortion up close and did not have a tilt shift lens.
After taking a few reference shots I decided to move back towards the road where I had seen this Church from and the closer I got to the road the vision I have had for so long started to fall in to place. The rain stopped and a little light hit the church and lit up the graveyard. So I quickly framed the church between the bushes and grabbed a couple of frames. I was using one of my Fujifilm XT3 bodies and the amazing 10-24mm lens, I normally use this camera just for commercial work and only ever take out my X100F on most trips but decided I wanted something a little wider today and this used to be my default Landscape Lens.
I am quite happy with the shot and I guess it just goes to show all good things come to those that wait ! I think if I had stopped and tried to shoot this Church 5 years ago it would not have been the same !
After the Church we went to the woods, the weather forecast was supposed to be over cast all day but over the last few years I think these little showers have been quite hard to predict so the cover of the tree canopy in the woods was a good choice.
I think you can tell my mood from my images and I have always noticed this. It’s been a crazy year this year and at times as now, my mood has been quite dark. The irony of going to the woods to shoot bluebells was not lost on me being a black and white shooter ! I just loved this path and the darkness of the woods so wanted to capture the way the woods made me feel at the time and I think this image did just that.
The next image says a lot to me, I fell out of love with Landscape images because for me there was always something missing ! Without a human element or something living I found it quite hard to connect with some scenes. When I was composing this shot I loved the way the light was hitting the ferns in the foreground and lighting up the bluebells but really did struggle with the empty space on the left ! It was at that point Jake walked in to the scene a couple of frames later I had an image I was happy with.
I had almost fallen out with Photography this year, but it’s surprising how a day out with great company and some fresh air can bring back the urge to make and create images again… I need to go OUT OUT more often !!!
You can find these images on my Instagram account @matt6t6
If you have been watching my YouTube Channel you will know that my 2019 Street Photography Project is Litter. I started of over thinking the project but after a quick look back over some previous work its all started to fall in to place and I am sure it will evolve in time.
I am going to use my Fujifilm X100F for the Project and back the X100F up with the Fujifilm Xpro2 and 18-55mm Kit Lens, I probably won’t carry both cameras with me at all times but I do like to have a backup camera for a project. I want to film as much of my project as possible for my YouTube channel and this will be filmed with a combination of diferent cameras over the course of the year but will be a mixture of Canon Fujifilm and DJI and possibly GOPro.
My project will focus on Litter and peoples relationship with litter, I will only give the images simple city titles so that the viewers will know what cities the images were shot in but not what the relationship is between the little and the people in the images if any !
The viewer will be left to draw their own conclusion from the litter in the scene, from how long it has been there to weather it is litter or potential litter.
The image above for instance will just be titled Liverpool and the bag on the floor in this case was taken away by the girl in the image, but in my project you will have to draw your own conclusions.
My project images will all have litter of one form or another in the scene and this is just to highlight the amazing amount of litter we walk past every day. I have always wanted to do a project that says something and could possibly make people think differently about our city Streets.
After walking the Streets of nearly all the UK cities I can say that some are worse than others but over the last few years people have got a little better but the councles are getting worse at emptying bins and general street cleaning. So much so that there is now Human Excrement and waste in more and more back streets.
Don’t get me wrong people still drop litter and quite a few just don’t care and will never change. I guess I went to school when the UK had an epic litter problem back in the 60’s and were taught at school to bin it with the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign.
I have a facebook group called Bag it and Bin it the group is about Litter and Dog Poo, and I have always wanted to try and tell the story in images and so decided to give it a try for my 2019 project. I don’t expect to change the world overnight but I thought I would try and put this years project to good use. I was recently over in Ireland and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of litter. There was a lot less litter over in Ireland and I was told its because people respect their country more.
My project will evolve and if you want to follow along then check out my YouTube Channel and don’t forget to Subscribe to get updates on new videos.
I have been a bit slow on my blog this year because I have been focusing on YouTube but I thought I would answer my most asked question.
What are your top three Cameras ?
I always get asked what cameras I use and prefer or recommend and its always difficult to answer that question without knowing what someone will use a camera for, after all they are just tools to do a job and all tools have a different purpose.
But my top two for Street Photography are the Fujifilm X100F and the Fujifilm XPRo2 and that will depend on weather you want a fixed 23mm lens like on the X100F of want to be able to change lenses like on the XPro2. These are my hands down best best two Street Cameras.
My other camera choice is the amazing little Canon G7X Mark II as this is an all round amazing little camera for carrying everywhere I go and is not just a great back up stills camera but an amazing vlogging camera. It’s become my pocket camera next to my iphone7plus for 2018 and I hear a rumor there is a G7X Mark III I really hope there is and can’t wait to try one out when Canon release it.
I aim to shoot my 2019 project on the amazing Fujifilm X100F and cant wait to get stuck in to in in January and will be sure to blog about it and Vlogg about it as soon as I get started.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you all.
Is it nearly December already !!
Where did 2018 go !
I have now reached semi retirement and it feels very strange, yes last month I was 55 and as planned I am going to slow things down and move on over to YouTube.
I have slowly been making videos, just dipping my toe in the water learning as much as I can by watching YouTube videos and talking to some of the rising YouTube stars about what they think my USP is ! They say its my age and experience so I aim to use that to my advantage in 2019.
One thing I do find about YouTube is that you can’t learn as fast as you can when you are doing a practical lesson. You also can’t ask questions when you want and I don’t think we retain the knowledge as well when we just watch a screen ! So I am going to do about four workshops a year to build my own personal education and I am going to still teach a few a year as well as get out and about as much as I can on photo walks and meet ups.
My next workshop is in Liverpool and there are only a few places left. Its my very popular Learning to See Workshop.
One thing is for sure I am getting sick to death of Facebook and I know quite a few people who are but like me we just hang on in there because of the groups and our business pages ! I do wonder why at times I really do !
Now SmugMug own Flickr I really do hope they bring the photography community together on Flickr again because Facebook is not the place of it, it’s so full of Trolls and Keyboard Experts !
I have been told people like my RANTS ! Not sure why but if that’s the case then I will bring a few Rants to YouTube but I really want to focus on inspiring people to take their photography to the next level and hope to inspire the next generation once I can workout a strategy to do so.
Before I can get to the really good stuff I need to get my viewing hours up to 4000 hours and maintain that over a year.
I am going to start 2019 with all the normal YouTube stuff you would expect like unboxing videos, product tests and some tips and tricks. I will then move on in to 2019 with Interviews and long form videos that can be watched as videos or listened to driving in your car like podcasts. These really long interviews will be at least an hour long or longer. I don’t really want to get in to Podcasts as I find them a little disconnected at times but who knows ! I think I will try the video route first.
I really do want to just get out every day and take photos and have lots of ideas for projects and a few workshops this year and hope to share all my ideas and processes with you on YouTube so make sure you tune in to my YouTube channel and click subscribe and hit the bell for all the great photography related videos in 2019 see you all on the other side !
Check out my X100F set up video here.
If you read my previous blog post or watched my YouTube video you will know I have just been to Ireland for the first time in years.
I had a rough time in Ireland with my health so did not achieve all I wanted but had a relaxing time apart from the times I was kept awake all night with Gallstone Pain.
I was going to shoot lots of video but did not feel up to it so there is just a short film on YouTube this time.
My previous blog post was all about the iphone and how amazing it was to have with me so that I could shoot, process and upload the images in seconds.
This is just post it just to share a few of the images I shot in Ireland with the Fujifilm X100F my favorite camera in the Fujifilm range for so many reasons and even though I have just brought two X-T3’s for Landscape and Video they will never beat the weight and ease of use of the X100F.
I really did not want to be carrying a tripod and bags of gear with me everywhere I went in Ireland so kept it really simple. Canon G7X MKII in my pocket for video and back up, X100F over my shoulder and iphone in my pocket.
I have to confess to mostly using the iphone and then second came the X100F and last the G7X.
We were blessed with Storm Ali whilst we were in Northern Ireland so managed to get some interesting shots of the Giants Causeway and with storm force winds it was quite a challenge at times.
I used the X100F with a Lee Filters 0.9 Grad handheld in front of the lens just to darken the sky and keep the spray off my lens on most of the shots.
We had an amazing time and now I have to put together a workshop on Achill Island with Matt Walkley so will leave you to look at a few of the images I made with the X100F.
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.
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.
2017 has been my year of Colour project and it’s not over yet !
It finishes on the 31st of December and I cant wait, I have only taken a hand full of black and white images and they were taken over the last month or so. I feel like a sprinter stuck in the starting blocks for 9 months ! I think in a way it’s a good thing as I am bursting with black and white creativity I want to get out of my system.
As for colour ! I never really have liked colour and on my recent trip to Scotland I had some time stuck in my camper on the really bad weather days to reflect on the Year of Colour project so far. I started the year hating colour and I will be ending the year really hating color ! I was hoping to come out of this year with a colour style as well as more understanding of colour. I do have a better understanding but the colour style is a sticking point.
I understand that every day light is diferent and even the weather the light and the time of day has a bearing on the scene, so shooting on Auto colour balance will give you a neutral look but it won’t give you the consistency within the dynamic range.
I am a very lazy editor and only want to spend 3-6 min per image in Lightroom or Snapseed and one thing I know I should like but don’t is presets ! I don’t understand why I don’t like them I just don’t and I think the only way I could get colour consistency and style would be to start making presents. The downside to presets for me is the fact I use quite a few diferent camera bodies with different sensors so I would have to make a preset for each sensor and I really get fed up when the preset makes all the wrong changes and I then have to spend longer fixing the issue. So I don’t use presents and I don’t think I want to !
My black and white work for the last 10 years has all been without a single preset and just processed by eye, it’s all very consistent and apart from the blacks getting deeper with the mood of the scene or my mood they just seem to work !
I am not sure I will pursue colour in to 2018 but if I do I think I need to start to learn Colour Grading for Style ! The downside to this is every film ever made is colour graded for that style of film ! So for me to colour grade and try and find a unique colour style is a pain in the arse ! It used to be so much easier with Film !
You might have noticed there were quite a few rainbows in Scotland this month !
I have just sold quite a few cameras and lenses and started to reduce my Fujifilm kit to make way for possibly the GFX50s but am still deciding. However I have now brought an XT20 and sold my X-T2. The X-T2 was great but I just do not need it anymore because I am stopping shooting events. The X100F and the X-T20 and the XPro2 work so well together and do have more consistency as they all have the same sensor so I might look in to Colour Style over the next three months and give you more details at the end of the project. I know this combination of cameras works so who knows.
I do feel at the moment I will be returning to Black and White next year, but we shall see.
I have lent out a lot of personal Fujifilm kit over the last five years and the result has always been some love hate relationships and personal battles with the kit. I always find this very interesting. I remember my first time with the X100 and how it wound me up no end that the sensor was giving me better black and white images than my Nikon D3s but how hard it was to get used to the camera and menus. Most of all the focus system was hard work and so much more. This all made me question my choice but the images spoke for themselves ! It felt like a toy camera compared to the mighty D3s ! But who cared about the feel when the images were just so great …
On a recent trip to Edinburgh I was having a facebook conversation with a friend who had brought an X100T on my recommendation for her Street Photography. She hated it out of the box and many times I looked at her comments on social media saying how she wanted to get rid of it. One day it was driving her nuts the next it was fine. I could see the personal battle taking place this Marmite camera was tearing this girl apart !
She even asked me when the XPro2 was out and then the X-T2 and the X-T20 but all the time she went out shooting with the X100T. On this trip to Edinburgh she messaged me and said ” I love this camera Matt I really do, but it’s taken me 18 months to make it work for me” I laughed and said I know ! I said to her the problem with the X100 series is you have to adapt your style to the camera and no one can help you with that. It’s up to you to decide on every setting from Jpeg to focus mode. You can’t just look up what other people do on the internet or blogs you just have to go out every day and have a personal battle with the camera and almost fight over who is in change !
I have taught over 200 workshops over the last two years and so many people come on the workshops who have the same battle not just with the X100 series but some of the other Fujifilm models.
I was talking with another friend tonight who has my X-T10 and she said I am getting there but I am having a love hate relationship with this camera ! I just laughed and said I know…
I would say 99.9% of the people that have this battle win and they fall in love with the X Series Camera system. I know a few people who have lost the battle and gone back to their chosen brand. I have noticed one thing though, the people that battle on don’t just learned how to adapt to a new camera system their work changes for the better too.
I think the the personal battle teaches them more than just how to use a new camera it makes them look at the way they work as well. It’s all too easy to pick up a DSLR out of the box and go out and shoot on auto, it’s not so easy to use the X100 you have to start to understand your craft more and in doing so your work improves.
Quite a few people love the way the X Series slowed them down at the start but then became frustrated by that very fact ! Fujifilm responded to customer feedback and have made the XPro2 and X-T2 but you still have to know what you are doing to get the best out of these cameras. You can use them out of the box on Auto now but once you really learn how to set them up you take a great big step up on your photography journey.
The shame is that most people just look at these cameras on the internet or for a few minutes in a shop ! They never get to use them for 12-18 months and so never get to experience love hate battle and that is such a shame. So many people don’t like change but I think that is where the X100F comes in. You can buy it as a back up camera and take it everywhere. Some days you will want to throw it in the river or bin some days you will want to hug it and kiss it ( possibly a bit far ) but when you look at those images you know you have an amazing bit of kit in your hands that you can stick in your pocket and take everywhere ! Take the X100F challenge buy one or borrow one and see how you get on, then come back on here in 18 months and leave a comment.