black and white
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.
My Fujifilm journey started back in 2011 but it was hit and miss. I was a Nikon shooter and had been for over 40 years. In 2011 I found myself looking for a camera system that was smaller and lighter than my Professional Nikon system. I looked at Sony and Panasonic but wanted great glass and realised that only the top players in the camera market could offer this. I picked up a Fuji X10 and had a love hate relationship with it so in the end sold it. I read all the reviews and was put off the X100 but in the end found one for a good price on ebay and purchased a really nice camera.
The image above was one of the first images I shot with the X100 and I was hooked. This amazing little camera was producing images far cleaner than my Nikon D3s and for a fraction of the cost. Yes focus was slow and it only had one lense but it was the way it made me feel that shocked me, this camera had set me free.
It was not long before I walked in to Cambrian Photography and took a massive leap of faith. I bought the Xpro1 along with the 18mm, 60mm and the 18-55mm Kit lens and decided to give it a go on my trip to Venice. I had made up my mind that if it worked for me I would come home and sell all my professional Nikon Gear.
Before I went I was almost convinced this would not happen, how could this Xpro1 replace my D3s and Pro glass as it was so slow to focus and so awkward to use !
I came back from Venice and the decision had been made this XPro1 was perfect for me. I was convinced that stepping away from mainstream DSLR’s and choosing a camera that slowed me down and made me think out of the box again was the way forward. So I took the leap and sold all my Nikon gear. I said to myself that if I needed a Pro DSLR for a job I would just hire one. That was four years ago and I have not needed to use a DSLR and will never look back.
It’s amazing how the reason you changed gets under your skin at times and the slow focus on the XPro1 drove me to buy the X-T1 and the X-T10. These cameras work perfectly for my event photography and due to the small size of the X-T10 I started to use two of these stunning little cameras back to back one with 27mm f/2 and one with 90mm f/2 lenses. It is quite amazing how small the X-T10 is with the 27mm lens it’s almost the same size as the X100T.
My plan was if I am totally honest was to wait for the X-T2 if there was one and use my X-T10s for Street and the X-T1 for Landscape and wet events and bring the X-T2 in to play.
But then BOOM Fuji asked me to test out the Xpro2 and it’s just changed my photography all over again. When I first picked it up my first thought was where is the tilting screen ? It’s hard to go out and test a camera that is not due out for three months when you are a Street photographer I can tell you.
I started using the Xpro2 and at first I was not blown away, but this was the same feeling I have had with all the Fuji X Cameras. They are like magic in your hands, the more you get to know the camera, the more they come alive in your hands. This camera is fast to focus, it surely has to be the fastest yet.
The shape of the camera is a vast improvement over the XPro1 and the inclusion of two fast card slots is going to make quite a few wedding shooters happy. The inclusion of the ISO dial in with the shutter speed dial, puts all the buttons and knobs back on the outside of the camera so you have the exposure triangle where you need it. There is a neat little joystick on the back of the camera and the buttons are all in the right place for me.
You all know I am not one for technical write ups as all the pixel stuff does not do anything for me and there are camera testers all over the UK that can test this camera to death for you all. But one word of caution, I was put off the X System for six months before I got the X100 because of all the reviews so be careful what you choose to read. This system is not all about pixels and super fast this and that, it is about changing your way of thinking.
So why do I love this camera ? It’s easy, I don’t have to edit any of my images any more. I have always been a RAW shooter converting in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 until now. This camera is a game changer for me and the file size is just about right. The XPro2 is going to change my photography for the better.
The design of the XPro2 compared to the Xpro1 is completely different making the XPro2 sit so nicely in your hand.
I am going to be shooting Jpeg with the XPro2 for the next year with the 35mm f/2 lens for a Street Project I am doing with a few friends on Flickr. I love a good project and this project will help me to learn how to setup and use the Xpro2 for Jpeg and never have to edit again. The time this is going to save me is life changing. At the moment I have the camera set up to black and white with green filter. I have Dynamic Range set to 200%, Highlight Tone -1, Shadow Tone +3, Sharpness +1, Noise Reduction off. I will be playing around with these settings a lot more over the coming months.
It’s been a pleasure testing this new camera for Fujifilm and it was also an honour to have one of my images that I shot on the XPro2 selected for the Exhibition in Japan with 100 other X Photographers from around the world.
I think Fujifilm have made a stunning camera and I would like to thank them for for listening to all the X Photographers and Fujiholics around the world and adding most of the requests and ideas to this little camera.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I am so glad I made that leap of faith nearly 5 years ago. The Xpro2 is a huge step forward I am quite sure the Fuji roadmap is going to be very exciting…
Here is a video I shot about the my Fujifilm journey including some XPro 2 images.
Today I decided to have a few hours in Liverpool out on the streets to see what I could find.
I went out with a pair of Fujifilm X-T10s, is the first time I have been out with a pair of matching cameras for quite a while. I had to decide on what lenses to take as I have had the 35mm f/1.4 bolted to my X-T1 for ages but I wanted to go wider. I did put the 16mm f/1.4 on to start with but I decided I wanted something smaller and lighter on the X-T10 so went for the 18mm f/2 for one body and the 60mm F/2.4 for the other body. I don’t think the 60mm has as much reach as I need so can’t wait to get my hands on the new 90mm f/2.
The weather forecast was for an over cast day with sunny intervals, so quite promising.
I jumped on the train and arrived in to Liverpool a little earlier than normal, it’s great to try different times of day but Liverpool does take its time to wake up. There were not too many people about and the light was flat never a great start.
The good news was the weight of two X-T1s around my neck was nothing compared to the days I used to shoot with a DSLR with the same quality glass.
I used to shoot with a pair of Nikon Fm2’s and this brought back memories, one of the street performers even shouted out “hay mate, shooting film” Just goes to show it was not just me thinking how small they were.
Some days I like to cover a lot of ground when shooting Street others I like to find great spot or road and stick to one area, today I decided to cover lots of ground and see what I can see.
The flat light was very uninspiring today so covering lots of ground I could look out for something interesting, but as with quite a few Street days I was not having much luck. I guess Street photography is quite like fishing; you wait and wait just for that one moment. Not that I was waiting today I was on a mission.
Street Photography can be hard work on some days and this was one of those days, School holidays are always quite difficult times in Liverpool not many great characters about because the Uni’s are shut and lots of people shopping. I suppose when nothing is working, it’s looking for that one great image a year that keeps me going! Some Street Photographers shoot prolifically and then look for something special in the edit. I have lots of ideas in my head but also look for those special one in a million moments that happen in a fraction of a second. Some amazing things happen out on the street in the space of a few seconds and in an almost set sequence that will probably never happen in the same place ever again , it’s being there to capture that moment that is exciting. You can go for day’s, months or years and nothing great ever happens, I guess that’s why most of the great Street Photographers have had a lifetime of shooting.
One thing is for sure it clocks up your daily step count. I hit 10,000 steps in no time, three miles come and go and you forget to eat and drink, I might have to market this as the Street Diet.
I clocked up about 27,000 steps today and covered quite a bit of ground, but there was not a lot going on and the light was flat as a pancake. So I called it a day and got the train home.
Shooting with the 60mm and 18mm on a pair of X-T10s was a breeze, once I had them set up to my preferred settings, I could just concentrate on shooting without thinking. This did take a while as I was trying out the new Focus settings and in the end decided to set both cameras to Zone Focus large Square, I set them to Aperture Priority for the day with Auto ISO and moved the Aperture for my desired depth of field depending on my subject. Auto ISO settings I used Default Sensitivity 200 Max. Sensitivity 6400 and Min. Shutter Speed I set to 1/125 sec on the 18mm and 1/250 sec on the 60mm.
I am quite a calculated person when shooting and will let lots and lots of shots go if they have no set place in my workflow. I try to shoot to get in a rhythm so shoot more than I did with film but I still don’t shoot a lot of images when out. I guess one reason is I just don’t like to spend so much time looking through them all at the edit stage.
I think I am very calculated and have systems and processes in my head but I can also step out of the box if I need to. All of my images follow quite a strict process that starts in my head, I know at the time of capture if I have got the makings of a reasonable image. When I sit down to review my day’s work I can almost go straight to the keepers. Once I do sit down I then start to make more decisions about the keepers and also decide where I might use the images. It’s always funny when I post to social media and someone makes a comment like “I would have cropped that like this” or “I would have shot that person from that angle” well good for them! I did not crop it like that because I like it the way I posted it! I like the angel I shot the image or there was no other option to get the shot, like a wall or bin in the way. This sounds harsh but I don’t care what people think, I have never had a Professional Photographer give unwanted Critique and even wrote a blog post on Critique a while back. I don’t shoot to please people as such and besides half of what I shoot now won’t be relevant until 10 -20 years’ time! I share my work because images should never stay hidden under the bed for no one to see, what people think is irrelevant.
Some days I get home and delete all the images that I have shot, today feels like one of those days but I am going to share a few images. Normally these would have all been deleted, but I set out today to write my blog so will make an exception. Today was one of those days where the light was not working and you watch lots of situations build but they just come to nothing. I work the scene with my camera but when it’s not coming together I walk away, its great practice for when it does all drop in to place. Lucky for me today I needed to find create two more selfie’s for my project or I would have come away with nothing!
I just love to be out on the streets, not every day will bring me an image that I can use or even like and it might take me all my life to make a book of 20 great images, but that for me is the whole point.
I did go for a coffee with my good friend Steve from Street Frame and even though I don’t normally shoot portraits, I had to try out the X-T10 and the 60mm lens.