Photo City London

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On Thursday the 3rd August I will be in Paternoster Square behind St Pauls Cathedral London for an Exhibition of my work. We have some great London Street Photographers Linda Wisdom and Christian Cross as well as all the way from Hull Robert Bentley.   We also have Paul Saunders with some of his amazing Cityscapes.

The event is in the amazing Paternoster Square London and it’s to celebrate Photography.

There will also be some great companies in the square like Fujifilm UK and Peter Dench will be in the Square for a book signing.

We also have Gillis SnapperStuff and all the images at the exhibition have been printed by Genesis

The event starts at 10.30 and finishes at 18.00 if you are in the area pop in and say hello, it’s only on for one day so even if you are not local its well worth a visit and its free.

Hope to see some of you guys there.

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Trains and Accommodation

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Strange blog post I know but after traveling the UK from Glencoe to Brighton on the Train Network you learn a few things about travel !

I think the rail network is great but it’s not run as well as it could be. It’s confusing,  from ticket purchase to the useless signs and train information boards, it stresses people out who are first time users and there are hundreds of people a day in that category as you can see from the stress and the sweat !

I have to say over the last 10 years I have only ever had one train cancelled and one really bad delay.  I did learn quite a bit from this and now travel to important Workshops or Events the day before and I always get at least two trains before the one I need so if there is a delay I will still be able to get the next train.

The worst part about train travel is the way the companies are underfunding the service, the lack of cleanliness and the amount of carriages on a service. Virgin used to be really good but over the last year the carriages are filthy.  Virgin’s service at the weekends is also now suffering from lack of drivers ! Trains are getting cancelled all the time due to no train crew ! Despite all that, I have to say though they are one of the best services in the UK. I think the worst are Arriva Trains Wales and have never had a good experience. There are not enough carriages and people have to stand all the time I was once on a 4 car service from Chester to Cardiff that went from 4 cars down to 2 cars on the change and everyone had to try and get on the two car to complete the journey. Many times I have seen people of 70-80 years old standing for very long journeys !

Liverpool to Leeds is another horrendous service with lack of carriages leaving lots of people standing for over two hours and I just don’t find this acceptable in this day and age.  It must lose them a fortune in revenue as well,  as people know the Inspector is not going to get down the carriage and there is always booked seat arguments !

I think it’s quite simple, lets call it train etiquette,  if you have booked a seat you should be able to sit in it and if you did not,  sit in one that is empty. If someone comes along and  finds you are sitting in their booked seat then just move.  It’s not their  fault that the train provider is not doing their job properly.

The South has the worst train service I have ever been on for cancelled trains and delays. I do find it strange how these companies find it acceptable ! If they had more carriages and more trained staff then they could police the system and make some huge profits instead of putting people off rail travel.

I still prefer to travel by rail at the moment despite all it’s faults. Sitting on the M6 is worse! I can be in London in just over two hours from Liverpool for about £20 by train that would be closer to four hours by car and probably £30-40 so it’s a no brainer and less pollution I guess !

I always use The Trainline to book and this is a shame as I hear it’s not a UK company but it’s by far the best App and way to book. I did try the Virgin booking system and it’s good if you just book on your computer all the time but if you book on your computer your tickets don’t show up in the App and if you book on the App you can’t book your seats, so it’s very annoying.

I am lucky as I know what I am doing in advance so can set up Ticket Alert on The Train Line to email me when the offers are on. This is a great way to get advanced tickets at great prices. I have found it best not to book return tickets but singles and if you are lucky you can get some very good first class tickets at less than standard if you are not fussy about your times. Sometimes you have to play around with times and stations to get the best fares but Ticket Alert saved me £6,000 last year alone !

Overall if you buy in advance and plan your journey it’s better to let the train take the strain. If you look at the cost difference as  well from First Class to Standard at times trust me First is worth every penny.

I have also stayed in a lot of Hotels in the UK and have to say Premiere Inn and Travelodge have some great hotels. Some of the Travelodge are noise stinky pits but there is always one not far up the road that will be better, one thing is for sure you know what you are getting and the beds are always comfy !  Premier Inn beds can be hit and miss but the Travelodge do great beds and pillows. Holiday Inn are one step up but the beds and pillows are all over the place on comfort. The rest are a mixed bag, I have stayed in five star that beds are terrible so it’s all a big guessing game !  As I continue my blogs I will make sure I rate my Hotels on a few points as I go so you have some idea if you are staying in the same area.  The most quirky Travelodge is the Haymarket Edinburgh one ! Every room is different and well worth a visit.

I use Booking.com for all my accommodation when not booking with Travelodge or Premier Inn and I find this a great service.

Bristol #FujiholicsBRIS16

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I have been organising  the Fujiholics Photowalks for a couple of years now and get amazing amount of pleasure out of leading the walks. The Fujifilm Family is what it’s all about and as much as it sounds corny it really is about putting the Social back into Social media !

On Thursday the 20th July  I made my way to Bristol, quite a long journey from Mossley Hill Station in Liverpool then on to Bristol Temple Meads. Booked in advance this is a £30 single with TheTraineline.com my next blog post will give full details of how I use this service and why.

I had a meeting in Bristol on the Thursday and on Friday I had my last Street Photography workshop with Calumet UK. I have run a series of workshops with Calumet over 2017 in various cities but that was the last one for Calumet. I am also bringing my own Street Workshops to a close in 2017 as I want to focus on more personal work in 2018.

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A Very wet day for the Calumet Worksop and nice to see so many Fujifilm X Series cameras on the day. I used my XPro2 and 23mm to walk around with instead of my X100F mainly because the XPro2 is weather resistant.

We had a great day round and about on the Streetsof Bristol despite the rain.

On Saturday we met up at @Bristol for the start of the Fujiholics photo walk. 120 signed up for the walk with Eventbrite unfortunately only 20 came out for the walk. This is always disappointing. Even though I always expect half numbers, when it’s lower I sometimes wonder why I put the effort in. I think for 2018  I will have to come up with a new plan.  I will still do the walks but include a small fee and give out something on the day like a Memory card or ThinkTank battery holder. I will have to give it some thought.

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It was however a great day in Bristol and nice to see so many old faces and some new ones. Fujiholics Walks are all about meeting new people and having a great day out networking meeting social media friends, drinking coffee, eating cake and drinking the occasional beer.

I planned a slightly different route this year and I think everyone that started the walk finished so will probably do the same route next year !

The Bristol Harbour Festival was on this year and this brought an extra 250,000 people to the city. I have to admit Bristol is an amazing city I have never seen so many so drunk but still standing up in my life. The Harbour festival appears to be a time the whole city comes out in force to dress up and have a few drinks. What an amazing place.

We ended the walk at the Old Duke where a few beers were consumed.

I was lucky to get a lift home on the Sunday with Richie so that saved me the Train ride.

The interesting thing is the car journey and train journey with stops and changeovers are almost the same time give or take a few minutes with out delays so from Liverpool to Bristol it’s about 3 hours 45min..

See you in Edinburgh next weekend….

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Trip to Leeds

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I have decided to do shorter blog posts and try to add more of my travel ! I hate writing being Dyslexic but have decided if I write more about my travel and write shorter blog posts  I might actually write more posts !

I travel quite a bit with my work in the UK and hardly ever blog about it, so decided to try and address that. I use the Rail network quite a bit and hardly ever talk about that or the Hotels I stay in and why ! So as well as boring you with my photography I might as well bore you with my travel.

When I book my trains I book at least 12 weeks in advance to take advantage of the cheaper rail fares, that way I can book a first class ticket for the price of standard and that for me makes all the difference to a busy train journey.   I will come on to how I book and what the advantages are in future posts.

I don’t always book hotels in advance and use a combination of Travelodge, Premier Inn and Booking.com . I have been travelling the UK for work for over 10 years now so know some of the best and worst hotels.  My bookings are based on location and best rooms for the price also how comfy the beds are. I probably wont include my Camper Van adventures as they are on Instagram as @Lighttravelerx but I will go into this in more detail in future blogs.

It was Jane’s Birthday weekend so I decided to take her to Leeds and trust me you need a First Class ticket from Liverpool to Leeds and return. These trains are always packed and mostly standing room only so a booked seat in First Class gets you a drink and a snack but most of all it gets you a seat and for less than a standard fair if booked 12 weeks before !

I booked the Hilton Doubletree and  compared to London Hotel prices this was cheap. I paid £240 for one night in the Travelodge in London a few weeks back and this was cheaper for two nights and only 2 minutes from the station.

I decided to take just my Xpro2 and my 18-55mm lens, mainly because I always use primes and wanted a change so did not want to be running around shooting Street.

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XPro2 18-55mm at 18mm ISO4000 1/250 sec f/8

I have been to leeds a few times but never had a chance to explore due to the fact I have always been for work so wanted to take my camera even if it was just for reference shots.

I have walked past the Corn Exchange a few times but never been in. Glad we went in this time as I hear it’s just been sold ! So who knows what the new owner will do with it !

It’s an amazing place and so very relaxing when you get inside, love the Proper Camera Shop at the top of the stairs.

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I forgot just how great this 18-55mm lens is ! I think the last time I used it was over 5 years ago and need to use it more often ! Image stabilization is great and it’s so light and easy to carry and so very sharp for what is a Kit Lens !

I guess no trip to Leeds is complete without a trip to the  Royal Armories. What a relaxing walk it was along the canal from the Hotel. You will notice from my future blogs I try to walk everywhere. It’s amazing what you find and see if you just walk and don’t get tempted by Uber ! Love the Dock next to the Royal Armories building and we were nearly tempted to take a water taxi but decided to walk back.

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XPro2 18-55mm at 18mm ISO250  1/250 sec f/10

I was not shooting Street so this 18-55mm lens was just so perfect bolted to the front of my camera all day. I have told myself off for not taking it with me everywhere I go as it’s just so versatile.

My train from Liverpool to Leeds was £25 and from Leeds to Liverpool £30 First Class Booked in Advance and the Hotel Was on a Booking.com offer at £214 for two night.

I will be in Bristol next weekend for a my last workshop with Calumet UK on the Friday and the Fujiholics Bristol Photowalk on the Saturday #FujiholicsBRIS17 I am not looking forward to the long train Journey and it wont be First Class this time as there is no advantage in seats or food etc

Have a great week..

I will leave you with this fantastic building which reminds me of the Flat Iron Building. We do have some amazing buildings in the UK.

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Fujifilm Love Hate !

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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 …

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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 !

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XPro2 50mm f/2

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.

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XPro2 50mm F/2

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.

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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.

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Holiday Habit

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I have always taken quite a lot of camera gear with me on holiday and it’s become a habit that I have struggled to quit, until now.

With the Fujifilm X System the kit is so much less than DSLR gear, but it’s still quite a lot of gear once you add an extra body, a tripod, some filters etc.  I have noticed over the last few trips I don’t use it as much as I did.  You guys know me for my black and white Street work but I still love my landscape. The downside to Landscape is all the gear you tend to pack. I also am not a fan of over processed Landscape work as I like to capture the world as I see it and not chop and change things around in Photoshop so have always packed lots of filters and a tripod. This is a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with people who create amazing Landscape in PS I just prefer to keep my Landscape work as real as my Street.

The last break Jane and I had, I just put the Fujifilm X100F in my pocket and went on holiday. Crazy I know and as I drove off I nearly turned round to go get all the gear but stuck with my gut and went for it.

I had the best break and took a few shots to remind me of the break and decided from that moment on to just take one camera and one lens away with me when not working.

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Fujifilm X100F ISO400 1/1900 f/5.00I dont normally explain my images but In the image above I loved this tree and all the walls etc and the vapour trail reminded me of all the Airport Stress that people put themselves through for a trip out of the UK.

 

On our recent trip to North Yorkshire I decided to take the X100F again and this time I managed to capture a few Landscape shots and have suddenly fallen back in love with the beauty of our Landscape and the simplicity of a single camera in my pocket. It was bliss to be able to walk for miles and miles without tons of gear.

I then remembered why I changed to the Fujifilm X System, to keep things simple and to keep the weight down. You soon get caught up in having to take so much gear with you to take photos but really it is all just down to the 6″ behind the viewfinder not all the gear you have in the bag. You can create amazing Long Exposure effects without your filters and tripod etc but I have found this was holding me back from walking further and exploring all the amazing hills and mountains like I used to.

I did have a chuckle to myself half way down the track from Malham Cove when a guy passed me with a huge camera bag full of gear and massive Tripod strapped to his back with sweat pouring off his face. Jane even looked at me and said “He looks like he is having a great day!”

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X100F Iso 200 1/1500 f/8.0 

I can safely say I have just had one of the most relaxing holiday in ages and one of the reasons was not having to decide every day what camera and lens I was going to put in what bag and what tripod or filters I was going to take with me.

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X100F 1/1900 f/5

 

I really cant wait for my next trip out now,  to go and explore our amazing countryside with the X100F keeping it as simple as possible.

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X100F v XPro2

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I get asked quite a lot “what is best the X100F or the Xpro2 ?” I always find this an interesting question because I don’t quite know why I am being asked the question !

I dont think people want to know what camera I prefer, I think they want to know what one I would recommend they buy ! To find out what would be the best camera for the other person I would need to know so much more about them and their photography. So I will answer this question as if it was directed to me.

I am not that worried about the bells and whistles that are thrown at modern cameras I just want the exposure triangle on the outside of the camera and I want to be able to use it quickly without putting too much thought in to it or digging into the menus.

I do love the rangefinder style because I am a right eye shooter, so with the rangefinder my nose is not squashed on the back of the camera and 9 times out of 10 no one knows where you are pointing a rangefinder !

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I am also not that worried about the viewfinder or the rear screen as I need glasses these days for close up work so don’t spend a lot of time using either. If I do use the viewfinder or rear screen it’s just to compose the image so it can be all blurry as long as I can see the composition.

The main difference between the X100F and the XPro2 is the fact it has interchangeable lenses and in all honesty this is the one deciding factor the rest is almost irrelevant.

But I am lucky as I have both cameras.

One thing I must point out is that for Event work I also use the Fujifilm X-T2 and the main reason is for balance  the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 and battery grip with extra battery capacity for a long day shooting is just perfect. I will still use the X100F and XPro2 on the day just to have a variety of lenses with me at all times within easy reach.

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At the moment when I am teaching Street photography I just use the X100F.

When I am out shooting in the UK on my own at the moment I use two X100F bodies, one with the fixed 23mm and one with the Fujifilm WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens.

The XPro2 stays at home, so in a way I have answered the question.

I moved away from Nikon to be able to lighten my load and enjoy my day out shooting and over the last 6 years I have only used the Fujifilm system and got to know it very well. In that time the X100 has come a long way and the X100F is now everything I need in an everyday camera for shooting Street, its got a great sensor and exposure triangle on top and the autofocus is now as fast as I need it to be. I used to Zone focus the X100 and X100s and even the X100T to get the results I needed but the X100F has such a great AF system I dont need to use Zone focus for anything anymore. I guess the only time would be in low light or awkward situations and in that case I would just switch to M and back button focus.

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When out shooting Street my only consideration now is, is it moving if so switch to C (continuous AF) is is stationary switch to S (single AF)

I like the camera to do all the work for me so I set the camera in to Auto ISO with the following settings – Default Sensitivity 200, Max.Sensitivity 6400, Min. Shutter Speed 1/250 sec.

This set up is basically the same for the X100F and the XPro2 except I alter the Min Shutter speed to suit the lens I have on the camera for the XPro2.

For me the X100F is my Desert Island camera, and this camera now goes with me everywhere I go its the first camera I pack for any trip. One great thing about a fixed lens camera is the fact there is no sensor cleaning so that is a big bonus.

I have adapted the way I shoot to suit the X100F and I think this is important, I see so many people moaning online about the fact a camera has not go this or it has not got that and the biggest moan about the X100F is the fact it does not have a tilting screen ! When it first came out I even thought thats a shame, after using the X70 and all the others with tilting screens I did wonder but now I get it. Why do we keep wanting more and more and more this is why the DSLR’s got so big ! besides the XPro2 does not have a tilting screen.

I love the freedom of the X100F and if I have to pick one camera from the Fujifilm range this would be it.

So what about the Xpro2 ? Its water resistant and it is slightly faster on  AF and it has interchangeable lenses, so it’s far better than the X100F and if I travel anywhere out of the UK it comes with me, also for assignments I use the X100F and the XPro2 with a longer lens on to give me something wide and something long to be able to capture the moment no matter where it happens.

I love my XPro2 and in the Fujifilm range it comes up as my favorite camera but it also annoys me because it gives me lens choice ! The Fujifilm lenses are all so good you then end up taking the XPro2 and 3 or 4 lenses with you and you only ever use one ! So it puts more weight in your bag is counter productive.

The XPro2 is perfect for travel and perfect for assignments and just about anything but when it comes down what one I prefer based on weight, size, portability etc the X100F wins hands down.

We all want diferent things from our cameras and Fujifilm have an amazing range of bodies and lenses now and I love to use them all but the X100F is still my desert Island Camera.

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