The Second Half

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Boom ! There it is, the start of the fourth year of my photography business ! When I was made redundant, my Area Manager was made redundant too! He said “what are you doing at the weekend ?” I said “talking at the photography show.” He just looked at me like I was winding him up. I took my redundancy money and decided to give the industry another go after a very long time out! I sold all my Nikon camera gear, went on holiday to Venice, came back and took the plunge.

It’s been really hard graft at times and very gut wrenching scary ! But all the time there has been this little voice next to me ( no not Richie!) saying just keep going. I have sat in the car next to Jane on my way to talk to a room full of 900 people feeling sick and on the verge of giving it up through anxiety but Jane was always there supporting me from the start !

She is supporting me even more now with my weight loss and she is amazing and is the only reason I can do what I do as she gives me the confidence to do it.

Not easy for a guy with Dyslexia and really bad chronic IBS !

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Jane gave me the strength to drive forward against all odds at times in an ever changing industry to stop, think and change direction and find a new way to make it work, adapt and evolve.

It’s all getting more difficult, even weddings are becoming a struggle and training companies in the UK are dropping like flies.

I have had some very good contracts and clients but the plan is in four years time is to just have the time to take Photographs for myself and spend some time with Jane.

Well that’s four years away !

In the meantime something amazing and positive.

I have decided to attempt to do something very special ! I want to help my friend Alan and his team turn this industry on its head and put Photography back where it should be, on top !!

I love photography, I have been addicted to it all my life and I admire the great photographers that have gone before us, they inspire me to go out day after day to be just like them. Not for fame or glory but just to one day make one amazing image.

There is more to great photographers than the gear they use. it’s about light, composition, moment, great subject, emotional impact and passion !! Sometimes it’s luck but most of the time it’s hard graft and thousands of hours out there, searching and learning.

You need a camera that is the right tool for the job and is a perfect fit for you, but a great photographer could use any camera.

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So the second half of my eight year journey is to get photography for all ages back to where it should be.
I am going to be working with Alan Raw and his Team, Claire, and Richard to bring to Hull an amazing photography show!

I have amazing artists booked but so far only three people from the trade have said yes !! Very sad and proves my point ! They don’t want to risk a new show as it costs money with hotels and stands and staff !! Also, if it’s past Birmingham everyone gets a nosebleed !

Over 8000 people went to HipFest last year on opening weekend and 100,000 over the Festival ! That’s passionate people with cameras and a love of photography !

I know all my friends will support me and make this very special.
I know Jane will be with me all the way putting up with me not sleeping and running around making notes and voice memos and being a driven (and grumpy!) I also have to finish my program of workshops for Wex etc so extra grumpy the next three months.

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Even if you are not sure what Photography is all about come to Hull in October for a day out ! Marilyn Stafford is there with her Exhibition at 91 years old! Come and see her images of Einstein, Edith Piaf, Cartier Bresson and be inspired by her passion for creation. Come and have the experience of a pie and a pint in Hull !

So the next four years I will be working with as many people as I can to put Photography back at the top and help creative people have a voice.

I hope you guys will join me on this journey ! Sit down, hold on tight and let’s go….

PhotoCity Hull 5-7th October 2018

From the Hart…

Thanks Jane x

Thanks also to all my friends for all the help and advice along the way, you know who you are.

Thanks to Kevin Mullins for saying just do it what have you got to loose, and it’s easy just get up there and talk it’s your passion…

 

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X X Photograper

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Black and White Editing

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Black and White Editing.

I like to keep my Black and White workflow as simple as possible and have refined my systems and processes over the last ten years. I use Lightroom CC and Silver Efex Pro 2 for all my black and white images. I shoot most of the time in RAW but this process is just as effective with Jpegs, you just have less latitude with the Jpeg file. SEP2 is part of the Google Nik Collection and was made free to everyone last year.

My workflow is simple and after a day out shooting I pop my memory card in to my MacBook Pro and copy the images in to Lr CC this is where I view the images and make my selections. I might shoot 40-60 images in a session or more but I normally only end up with 3-5 keepers if that. Once I have made my selections I then open each image in turn in SEP2 for conversion to black and white. After a few small slider movements I import the image back in to Lr for some final editing and then star rating this whole process takes less than 3-6 min per image.

I view each image on my 27” Eizo Monitor, the monitor is calibrated regularly even though this is a black and white process I need to see every tone between the black end of the spectrum and the white end.  If you don’t have a calibrated monitor or an old monitor its best to buy a new up to date LED type monitor as these are great out of the box. You can download a test card from the internet to check your screen, if you can’t see every band in the chart you need to calibrate of upgrade your monitor.

I will take you through my very simple workflow from start to finish with this image taken of Glenfinnan Scotland, this is the RAW file out of camera converted to Jpeg.

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First I import my images in to Lr and once in Lr I then view all my images and the images I want to keep I give a one * I do this in the Library module. Once I have made my keeper selection I then highlight and delete the rest of the images leaving my keepers and these are all the ones with the one* sometimes at this point I will remove a couple of the one* images if I think the others are stronger. At times, I have deleted the whole lot.

Once selected I will then import the first keeper in to SEP2 this is a simple right click open in SEP2.

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Once the image opens in SEP2, I do not touch the left-hand side of the program as this is mostly pre-sets and there is no point in opening a pre-set because I will then have to spend the next 10-20 min trying to get the image back to the way I want it from the pre-set. I only ever use the sliders and the controls on the right-hand side of SEP2 and only use the main sliders and not open them up for fine control. The main sliders I use are Brightness Contrast and Structure and I make changes by eye to every single image I open.  I start at the top and work down the sliders.  I normally brighten most images by about 20% then contrast about 20% and then apply quite a lot of Structure to make the images pop about 60% but this is all by eye and not an exact science. On the Glenfinnan, I am going to go Brightness 22 Contrast 22 and Structure 66.

If I need to just make controlled adjustments I use the control points so as not to cause over processing of artefacts in the complete image. This is mainly with people’s faces or complicated backgrounds with out of focus areas. I don’t need to do that in this image, I am happy with the way the image looks so I then import the image back in to Lr.

Once in Lr I switch to the development module.

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I again start at the top right of the sliders and work my way down sometimes a few tweaks and at others hardly anything at all, therefore I don’t use pre-sets in Lr as I would spend most of my time correcting the changes the pre-sets make.

I always keep an eye on the Histogram for clipped highlights as these look harsh in digital images and even worse printed. I ignore the clipped blacks as these looks great when printed and I do like quite dark blacks in my images.

The first thing I do to this image in Lr is add a graduated filter to the sky and use the exposure control to darken the Sky by one stop. I then use the shadows slider to just pull back the shadows from the mountains. I then make a second graduated selection and darken the top of the sky to about half a stop.

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I then work my way down the sliders Contrast +24 Shadows +18 Blacks -31 Clarity +31 and finish off with a post-crop Vignette of about -7 I would also use the adjustment brush to lighten the snow areas and darken any areas using the exposure slider. This is about the same way you would dodge and burn in the Dark Room. This is all to personal taste, I prefer my whites to be white in an image so do tend to burn in the white but without over exposing them.

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I would then rate my image for personal use between 3* and 5* if I felt at this stage the image was 2* or 1* I would delete it.

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The image looks quite dark in WordPress but looks great printed or on my Eizo, I hope to run a Black and White editing workshop for Fujiholics later in the year so please keep an eye open on the Fujiholics website.

Gnarbox

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I was planing on bringing you my review on my Gnarbox but due to my heavy editing workload this month and the fact my new G Tec drive has not arrived I am going to have to bring it to you next month.

I am now the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team. I am really happy to be working with Gnarbox as I feel Gnarbox is a perfect fit for my workflow.

I have had a play around with this great product and I am happy to say it’s easy to use and I see some great potential in the Gnarbox for my back up solution in the field.

I don’t normally have much time for editing in the field the most I do is a couple of quick edits for Social media. The fact I can edit RAW files on my phone or iPad with the Gnarbox really does appeal to me. I am getting more and more in to Video and being able to use the Gnarbox to throw some quick edits together for Social media is also great.

It’s not got massive storage but most of the time I don’t need it to back up my Street Photography.

Tec Specs

Intel Quad Core, 1.92ghz CPU

128GB or 256GB Solid State

USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD and Micro SD Ports

4000 mAh 3.7v rechargeable battery

4 Core Intel HD Graphics GPU

2gig of Ram

Duel Band 300mbs 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi

Data Transfer up to 4GB per Minute

iOS & Android Compatible

Battery Life 4-6 Hours

Water Shock and Dust Resistant

5.3″ x 4.3″x1″ / 1lb

Check out the Gnarbox website for full details and the amazing helpful Learning Tab.

I hope to bring you a review over the next few weeks.

5 Candid Street Photography Tips

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These are the 5 tips from my latest YouTube channel 5 TOP TIPS

Tip Number 1

Buy and use a rangefinder camera like the X100F or the XPro2 just depends if you want a  interchangeable lens camera or not. I love my X100F for ease of use and portability. But the XPro2 with the 16mm lens makes for an amazing combo.

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Tip no 2

Make sure you go out with an idea or a theme ! It could be as simple as Red,Yellow,Blue or you could have so many other reflections, light and shade high, low the list is endless. But don’t just going out without a plan or you will come home disappointed.

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Tip No 3

In mixed lighting conditions like we have in the UK unless you are trying to be creative shoot on Auto ISO as its just one less thing to worry about. I set mine in the Menu to Auto Iso 1 Base 200 Max 6400 Shutter speed 250 Sec.

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Tip No 4

Move the focus point from the middle of the frame to the upper third when you are shooting people up close as this will put the focus point over their face and not in the middle of the frame and if you are shooting wide open this will give you a better chance of getting the head and face sharp.

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Tip 5

Remember the 5 golden rules of a great Street Image Light / Composition / Moment / Great Subject and Emotional Impact.

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MATT0068

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GFX50s C mode.

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GFX50s GF23mm ISO100 1/13sec f/16 Lee 0.9 Med Grad

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.

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GFX50S GF23mm ISO100 1/5 sec f/16 Lee 0.9 Med Grad

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.

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GFX50s GF23mm ISO100 12 sec f/8 Lee IRND 15 Stop Lee 0.9 Med Grad

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.

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GFX50s GF23mm ISO100 240 sec f/16 Lee 15 Stop Lee 0.6 Med Grad 

The New Trend in Unwanted Critique

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Happy New Year and let’s start with a bang !

The images in this post have nothing to do with the post but are just added to give you something to look at whilst reading my semi rant !

Back in 2014 I wrote a blog post about Critique and to save you all searching here it is 2014 Blog Post  I am not even going to read it before I write this post because I know roughly what it says and not a lot has changed since then, people with little or know skill or knowledge feel the need to Critique other people’s work for various diferent reasons.

To be honest Facebook and Social media is rife with opinion and critique and bullys.

I always said I have never ever seen a professional photographer ever give unwanted Critique online or in an open forum as they have better things to do and would not lower themselves to be that person.

I am talking about unwanted and negative Critique on images posted by individuals or companies on social media or the internet.  If someone posts an image in and open forum and asks for constructive Critique that is a completely different matter and I am not going to cover that today.

Yesterday that all changed, a company I work for posted one of my images on their social media page and two people decided to question why the company would post such an image and gave their reasons why they thought the image should not be posted !

The first guy fits right into the Pets and Fruit Category from my first blog post and even got his wife to like his comment. A very quick look as his facebook page revealed the obvious, completely poor imagery that was out of focus blurry and to a very low standard. So that just made me laugh as his knowledge of what makes a great image was limited, and he just fell into the category of Keyboard Warrior.

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However the second guy I had thrown out of a group before due to his constant unwanted Critique on other peoples images and his non stop bad behaviour another Keyboard Warrior but this time with a difference.

I had looked this guy up before and I think he had won an award at some point and was now a Professional Photographer who has worked for some big names in the industry and was able to name drop quite a lot on his website.

His facebook header image however had a wonky horizon and his images were mostly quite average. He did have some quite nice images but there was not much personality in his work with a large quantity of Landscapes were achievable by anybody with a decent camera and some time on there hands a few good books and the right locations and perfect weather conditions and a knowledge of composition, what I would call a template shot.

He was however in the past a teacher ( in another field) so has been teaching photography for for the last few years.

So why does this guy feel the need to run other people down and also run down my images on a corporate facebook page ?

Well I challenged him on the page and in the end he deleted his comments and so did the other Keyboard Worrier ! I guess it’s easy to drop a comment in to a thread so its seen by the audience and then run away when challenged  !

What was said in the thread was really irrelevant, but it got me talking to my friends and this always comes back to one thing. A lot of people say it’s just jealousy ! I don’t think it is I think there is far much more to it than that these days, I think these people are trying to play games with the big brands and cause some controversy or try to get elevate their profiles, or just get noticed for being a complete negative arse in an open foram. Over the course of 2017 there have been so many people bad mouthing each other and bad mouthing big brands to get themselves noticed it’s becoming a thing.

I was brought up with this saying ringing in my ears ” if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” as I got older I just added this  “if you do speak be constructive and offer real world solutions and dont be negative”.

I teach workshops on learning to see in Photography and everyone comes away with their eyes opened to where they are in their photography journy and can go off to produce better work and get stuck in to a project. I don’t get them in a classroom and tear their work apart. Teaching people what makes a great image and learning to see a great image is not always possible, as with anything in life we all have certain gifts or skills but one thing is for sure people need to learn from professionals not Mr Pets and Fruit or Mr I dont want them to be better than me.

The internet has become a place where everyone feels the need to say what’s in their head without thinking most of the time. I fear there is now a new bread of people that feel the only way to get anywhere in life is to run the people around them down  to make themselves look good or highlight themselves. The photography industry has always been a bit bitchy for some reason but some of these people are taking things to a whole new level. I think its because it’s quite a small industry and as the years go by there are less and less opportunities out there but more and more people with a camera !

The worst part of this behavior from Keyboard warriors is they scare people off from taking pictures or teach them the wrong way to review and look at their work and that’s quite sad.

As for this profesional who made the comments about my image ! Well he is not alone I see on twitter there have been some quite nasty comments towards rising stars in the industry and they really do make themselves look like a bunch of jelous arseholes ! The other week there was a whole bunch of Landscape Photographers bitching and backstabbing about  Thomas Heaton most of them teach workshops and have also won 1 competition at some point ! It did bring back memories to my own journey, I had plenty of that behavior and still get a bit as yesterday showed, luckily I was warned it would happen !  Thomas even made a youtube video about some of his Trolls.

The point is its not big and it’s not clever as a Professional to behave like a jealous child. Thomas puts a lot of time and effort in to his youtube channel and I for one find it quite refreshing and wish him all the best as I do all the new talent in the industry.

I have been around long enough not to really care about these people but I will always have my say when they rear their ugley heads because I believe I should put them back in their box.

My advice to anyone out there that gets unwanted Critique feel free to copy and paste the link to my original post in a comment thread or even this one. Ignore any unwanted critique as no one that gives unwanted critique is doing it for the right reasons they are just doing it for some strange power trip or to cause upset or some other strange  reason or to big themselves up and draw attention to themselves ! Trust me people in the industry see them for what they are so it does them no good. The odd one slips through the net but its rare.

Always remember its is always about the Image a great image is always what makes a photographer and so is a great body of work so ignore the noise and get out their and shoot.

Happy New Year to you all….

 

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GFXs 23mm