black and white
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
As most of you know I am a 99% black and white Photographer it’s always been my preference. I have never really liked Colour as I have always found it distracting and a very hard medium to grasp and as for trying to tell a story out on the street !
I also struggled with Colour in the early days of digital as the slightest noise really did mess with the colours on most DSLRs.
These days nearly the only time I shoot colour is for Client work and I really do forget just how amazing the modern Fujifilm Cameras are with such great Colours.
I have been shooting Vans and Trucks a while now and just love working with Peoples Ford Van Centre Liverpool. The team there are amazing and they have some amazing return customers who just love their Vans. I also have a Camper Van based on the Ford Transit Custom and built by Wellhouse so I am in love with the backbone of the UK.
Ford have been producing some amazing colours over the last few years as well as some stunning Vans. It’s through my involvement with Peoples Ford that I have started to love shooting Vans in Colour ! I am not sure how long my love of Colour will last !!!
I guess it all depends on what Ford have up their sleeves !
One thing’s for sure I love the creative freedom I get working with these guys and I can’t wait to share with you all some of the images I have planned for the Future !
Until then here are a couple from this week’s shoot.
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.
Working as a full time Professional Photographer is not easy at times and the hardest part it taking a break and going on Holiday. When photography was a hobby you used to get really excited about you next trip to try out that new bit of kit.
When you are full time you try and think of a way to take photos on holiday but not to weigh your self down with lots of camera gear.
This time I managed to fit all my kit in to one bag and that’s a first. I needed to bring video kit for my YouTube channel and keep the stills kit to a minimum.
Now I am putting more time in to YouTube the video kit comes first and that has forced me to look for smaller stills kit. On this trip I just brought the Fujifilm X100F and the Canon G7X Mark II ( the G7X also double as a video camera for hand held stuff) I brought the Canon M50 and the Canon 200D for vlogging, these will soon be replaced by two Fujifilm X-T3s.
This trip so far it’s been a struggle to shoot video as I have been having gallbladder issues for a few months now and trust me gallstone pain is not nice and has been wiping me out for up to 8 hours so I have not had time to shoot and edit much video and the stills have fallen by the wayside so far !
I have managed a few iphone shots and a couple with my G7X but that is about it.
People don’t like to admit it but smartphones are so easy to use and we have them with us all the time so in reality they really are great unless you need a large image. I have blown my iphone7 images up to 10 x 8 and they are great.
So on this break to Ireland I think my iphone will come in to its own.
All iphone 7 images edited in SnapSeed.
I won’t have time to do a YouTube update this week but will get something uploaded as soon as I get back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am going to update my blog as much as I can over the next few weeks with some images and words about my time with the GFX50s this is day 2.
Today I had a quick drive into town to try out the GFX in the Liverpool Cathedral one of my favorite places to test any new camera for low light and detail. I did not take a tripod on purpose as I wanted to see what I could capture hand held. I can honestly say that I am shocked at the level of detail from this little medium format camera ! I think we all know that medium format is the way to go for Commercial work for that exact reason but that put us up in the 20k+ bracket of camera system until now.
On my way up to the roof to shoot the Liverpool Skyline I took a couple of shots inside the bell tower in some very low light.
Not only was I blown away by the high ISO capabilities but the detail as you will see below is just incredible.
If you look at the image above and look right down to the dark piece of wood paneling at the bottom of the stairs. Then look as the image below you can see the detail in the 100% crop. Not only that but the tones are stunning.
I have been in this bell tower a few times and I have never been able to capture the detail in this building like this. I think medium format a few years ago was the camera I always wanted but could never afford ! Until now ! I will carry on with the GFX over the course of this month and try and decide if this is the camera for me but so far I am am so much in love with this thing its unreal. I know I am a Fujifilm X Photographer but I am also known for saying things how they are. Fujifilm did not give me this camera to test as they expected me to say no. I shoot street and love the small mirrorless cameras for my work. I decided to Hire this camera myself to see if it would fit into my future plans and workflow. I will come back to about this as I move through my time with the GFX.
I will leave you with the views from the top of the Liverpool Cathedral, you can access the roof of the Cathedral by paying £5.50 in the gift shop and asking for a Tower Tour, its well worth it as long as you are not claustrophobic or scared of hights !
As quite a few people know I am changing the format of my workshops in 2018 so if anyone wants to take part in the present format, please choose one of my Street Photography Workshops from the list below.
This is the format for 2017.
The workshops will encourage debate about Street Photography and help the participants to be more critical about their work.
The workshops are suitable for professional and amateur photographers of all levels. We ask you to familiarise yourself with using your camera and learn how to change settings quickly before attending the day, this will enable you to enjoy the experience fully.
The day will start at 10.30am and conclude at 16.30pm with a break for lunch and plenty of comfort breaks throughout the day, most of the day will be out on the streets. There is a lot of walking during the day and the event may take place in inclement weather so come prepared.
You will spend the day with myself exploring the streets picking up tricks and tips on my style of Street Photography throughout the day. My Street photography workshops and courses are fun, informative and relaxed. They are both challenging and highly enjoyable and designed to stretch your imagination.
I uses the Fuji X100F and XPro2 with a 35mm or 16mm Prime lens.
You can bring any DSLR or mirrorless camera on this course; fixed lens compacts are also welcome. If you are wondering what lenses to bring 50mm is ideal for full frame and 35mm film uses. APSC size sensors 35mm is ideal or lenses around the normal focal length.
The day normally starts at 10.30am with a coffee introductions and a discussion about the day. We will touch on the ethics and law and how to deal with challenges in this area.
Next we will discuss camera set up for the day and the best set up for street photography with a practical demonstration of street camera technique.
Matt will cover what Street Photography is, and show you some of his favourite Street Photographers images. He will also show you the best way to approach his style of Street photography.
We normally spend around two hours covering these subjects then around 12.30am we head straight out on to the streets where you can watch the way Matt works and try out some of the tips and tricks that he shares with you.
We break for lunch around 1.30pm where we can find a quiet place for a snack to discuss the mornings work and share our experiences.
We then go back out on the streets to practice your new street techniques and try and find your street rhythm and look for some interesting characters or great light!
We stay out shooting until about 4pm, we then find a quiet place to sit as a group to discuss the day and this will include lessons learnt. Matt will share his processing techniques and preferred software. Matt will give you his views on Critique and show you how to review your own work.
I know the majority of you guys that read my blogs and attend my workshops are Fujifilm users but for all you that have other brands of camera please feel free to book on any of these workshops as all camera brands are more than welcome.
Here are the available dates left this year, please click on the dates for availability:
These will be the last Street Photography Workshops in this format at this price.
I have some interesting ideas for Locations and Styles of Workshops for next year, these workshops will be a little more complex so require a lot more planning.
I will advertise the 2018 Workshops around about October time.
I will be leading the Fujiholics Photowalks in London, Edinburgh and Bristol this year so make sure you sign up before all the places are gone. We have over 350 people signed up for London already.
Hope to see some of you on a Free Walk or Workshop and if you are a Fujifilm shooter then our new Facebook group might be for you here.