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Let There Be Light

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I have been a black and white Photographer for most of my life. From a very early age nearly 50 years ago I have been shooting black and white and I guess growing up watching a black and white TV, I learned from an early age to see the world in texture and tone, light and shade and also to work with light.

I did use Ektachrome for a while but not for long as I preferred black and white for story telling as I found colour to distracting.

When I moved from Film to Digital the sensors were so bad colour was a nightmare, sensor noise was so bad it made all images far to dark, so I guess I just gave up trying to work with Colour. On a fantastic day with great light it was easy but on a flat day with little or no light unless you had an expert knowledge of lighting it was almost impossible to get consistency.

I tried to shoot JPEG in the early days of Digital but gave up there was not enough latitude to get the full range of tones I required for my work. In fact it was not until around 2013 whilst doing my year of black and white project did I find a way to produce digital black and white images I was happy with.

I have never been a fan of sitting in front of a computer and editing. In the film days I would only print my best work so possibly one or two shots from a roll of film for personal work. So spending more time on digital editing drove me nuts. There is more to life than bing sat in doors.

There is a big wide world out there waiting to be photographed and I wanted to be out there in the fresh air and not stuck indoors. I had quite a lot of flack in the early days and was called a Photoshop Hater but that’s was so far from the truth. I use Lightroom because it was for me the fastest way from A-B. I am Dyslexic so Lightroom made more sense to me than Photoshop, so that what I used.

I was a RAW shooter and every time I tried to find a style or a way to shoot and process Colour images I gave up. It was just ridiculous the amount of time you had to spend in Lightroom or Photoshop to get consistency in your work when using colour.

Kevin Mullins decided once he started using the Fujifilm System to shoot JPEG and created his own style in this way. I did try it but gave up because it just did not work for my Black and White image style. I like my blacks to be black and my Whites White and all the other tones across the range. You could not get this from a JPEG because you had to spend more time undoing what the camera had done. I could process a Black and White image in a couple of minutes from RAW but it was five to ten minute from JPEG.

I can shoot black and white in any light and process very quickly in a very short amount of time and even though I have dabbled in Colour its never really appealed to me until now.

Why ? Well I have retired now so have no reason to have clients wanting all different colour profiles and I used to get fed up using colour charts and profiles to keep clients happy. Now I can explore colour and try and find a style that works for me and even better I have no deadlines so can just shoot colour on days when there is perfect light.

I cant explain in this blog what perfect light is because its probably subjective, but perfect light to me is light that produces an image I hardly have to edit. Its mainly golden hour light, or that magic light you get just after a rainstorm or thunderstorm or that crazy light you get just before a storm.

I used great light in my black and white images at times but most of my black and white work was shot on very overcast days, or in very high contrast light.

My new love for Colour stems from great light and has come about by using my iphone ! I have tried Nikon and Canon RAW’s and JPEGs and nothing works for me without extended processing times. The images out of an iPhone need very little if any processing. I have not picked up my Fujifilm cameras in probably 18 months and when I do if they cant produce JPEG images like the iphone I might have to have a rethink ! I very much expect I will find a way but for now I am just going to work with my iphone and explore colour from there.

Its amazing how having a Stroke and being restricted in a few ways has allowed be to develop some new ideas and ways of working. I am changing my views on the world and on the the photographic process. I want speed and constancy and I want something very portable, I also want a systems and process that are very simple.

One of the best times I had with a camera was when I was walking and climbing with Jane and just had a compact camera in my pocket and a phone to take the odd photo on a day out. Bags of cameras and lenses really don’t appeal to me anymore I just want simple.

I have never been obsessed with Sharpness or that unreal look you get with digital, I have always preferred that blemished film look so will be going backwards rather than forwards in the future that’s for sure.

There is no point in carrying lots of gear about just in the hope there might be some great light now and then ! David Noton used to spend weeks if not months waiting for the light and that was the clue to great colour photography, you just have to wait for the light. Taking images in shit light and then spending hours and hours in Photoshop is not for me when you can just go click with a phone on the right day. I know a phone shot will not be good enough for a decent print but once I have mastered waiting for the light I can then find a camera system that makes my life as easy as the iphone 11 ProMax who knows it might be one of the Fujifilm cameras I have, or it might be a simple compact camera I don’t own yet ! One thing is for sure it’s all about painting with light and always has been for me. I don’t need lots of great images a year just a couple will do me ! Taking one great image in great light once in 10 years would make me very happy.

 

Smart Phone

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Its amazing how quickly we can adapt to change if we have no other choice ! 

I have always used a camera of some form from a very early age of about 8 years old and trust me when I was 8, around 50 years ago cameras were quite basic, I used to love taking photos and it was always interesting to see what came back from the developers !

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The digital age came and it was great to be able to see what you had taken on the rear screen and when mirrorless first came out it was great to see the image through the sensor as such. I embraced Mirrorless and and the Fujifilm system, I probably did this very quickly because I was very slow to move from Film to digital and once I realised the potential of Mirrorless I jumped ship from the huge Nikon Pro system to the Mirrorless system.  

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I then went one step to far and brought in to the Fujifilm GFX system, the system is great one of the best in the world but my work had changed and there is no way I needed all that resolution and did not need a camera system that was that heavy.  

I sold my GFX system and re invested the money back in to my Fujifilm system and at that time the XT-3 was the way forward for most of my work. I also had the Xpro2 and the X100F for personal work and Street work.

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One of my all time bug bares with the Fujifilm system as with any digital system was the few extra steps it takes to edit and then get your images online ! Sounds crazy right ! 50 years ago I would shoot then wait a week for the images to come back from the lab, now I cant be arsed to transfer my images to my laptop and then get them online.

The smartphone has always been ok but they have there downsides like resolution speed of focus and lens length. I did not think I would ever favour a phone to a camera but after using an iPhone 11 ProMax now for so long without any other camera its been an eye opener. I can shoot edit and upload to where ever I need in the matter of minutes.

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The iPhone 11 ProMax has three lens options and although they are not as good as Fujifilm glass they are good enough, also I get fed up with a bag full of lenses and a camera around my neck.

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When I started my projects after my Stroke I really did think I would miss the Fujis but I have not picked up a real camera for my own personal work in 18 months. I have done a few commercial shoots before I retired and went back to the Fujis but even found myself using my phone as well for the client ! He loved the fact he could get my work on Instagram as we finished the shoot so we were both happy.

iPhone 11 ProMax

Don’t get me wrong if you want to print large or need the images for commercial work outside the internet and social media then the smart phone would struggle but for most social media work its the perfect tool. I was even shooting my YouTube videos on my phone before I closed my account.

iPhone 11 ProMax

I made some notes in Autumn so that next year I could go back to some locations with my real cameras to get some decent Landscape shots ! But the crazy thing is the thought of dragging bags of gear and a tripod to a lake on a 5 mile walk don’t feel me with enthusiasm.

I really have adapted really quickly to just using my phone, I wonder every day if I should sell all my camera gear and just use my phone.

iPhone 11 ProMax

I don’t think I am at that stage yet and will keep it and see what use to get next year but I can see some changes on the horizon.

I would miss my long fast lenses for wildlife etc but I have not missed them for 18 months and if i see wildlife I just enjoy my time with it without a camera !

In the time I have spent not using a camera and just my Phone I have noticed Canon and Nikon have now started to move in to Mirrorless properly and have some great kit but have a long way to go before they catch up with Fujifilm and Sony. Its quite funny how you could be tempted to jump systems from one year to the next but its just a fools game. Its better to find a system stick to it and hone your craft.

I was tempted to Leica last year but to be honest a really good smart phone will do me for now.

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Who knows what another 12 months will bring I guess we will have to wait and see.

I opened a new YouTube Chanel this week but have not posted any videos yet but once I do I will write a blog about it. I closed my old account for many reasons and was going to use Vimeo but changed my mind due to cost etc so will stick to YouTube and Instagram, I just need to decide what to do with the new Channel.

Have a great week cant believe its August already !

 

Projects 2019

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I’m a bit late thinking about my 2019 project and I have not even finished my 2018 Project !

Not that I have to finish it on the 31st January this year as I have given myself and the group that are all doing the Home project extra time as we have to have the images ready for an Exhibition in Hull next October at the Hull International Photography Festival the first weekend in October 2019.  My Home Project is The Plot and is all about Janes second home her Allotment.

I can just share one image with you from my Plot project and its the one below.

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Fujifilm GFX 50S 

Part of my projects process it to work out what I would get the most out of that would also push me and take me in a new direction but because I have a few other project on the go I am probably going to be quite reserved next year, because I want to concentrate on YouTube in the first couple of months and i have a house to finish my time will be limited for a while.

I did however start thinking about my 2019 projects when I shot this image in Edinburgh a couple of months back ! It was pouring with rain and as I stood there with my X100F grabbing some frames of wet people running for the train I started to get a few ideas flooding in but most of them would be to much work.

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Fujifilm X100F

I am already working on two projects that are long term and one is Where is Jane and the image below is from that very long term project and is all about finding Jane. She is on the Path to the left if you are struggling

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A big part of my thought process for projects is taking photos and see if they would work as a body of work or how difficult the project would be to shoot and how long it would take ! I guess these thought go through my head all the time.

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Ideas like the image above come and go and eventually just like when you smell freshly made coffee one such idea will excite me and it starts me on my new Project Journey.

Next year I am going to take you on that Journey with me on my Youtube Channel.

 

Ireland break.

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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.

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Athlone Canon G7X Mark II

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.

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Canon G7X Mark II

 

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Work Rest and Play

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Canon G7X

I guess we all struggle to get the work life balance right and being a full time self employed Photographer the work life balance can go right out of the window ! I have always had a big problem saying no to work and this year has been no exception. I expected after finishing working with Fujifilm UK in February things would go quiet and I could look forward to just planning my own workshops and time away for Jane and I.    I soon worked out its not quite that simple. The downside to our lifestyle at the moment is Jane works for the NHS and has mostly weekends off and I work most weekends so we don’t see much of each other at times, so we get used to quite a lot of time apart.

The long term plan is now starting to fall in to place even though there is hardly any free time on this years year planner at the moment. I have now finished my Wex Photographic 2018 commitment and at last I am free to start planning 2019. I will still take on the odd days from some of the big companies like Wex and some of the other great shops like Wilkinsons, just not as many days as before.

It was mentioned a few times on Social media this week that I had moved over to work with Canon now I had left Fujifilm.  I will put the record straight right here and now, I am not with Canon. This October I plan to be semi-retired so I will not be signing any contracts with anyone. I am still involved with Gnarbox as the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team but my commitment to the team is minimal and also fits in very nicely with my future travel plans so will not hold me back from my work life balance goals.

If you read my blog you will know that I bought the Canon G7x because my Fujifilm Cameras got locked in the Wex Glasgow store by accident a few weeks back and I needed to get a camera from Argos early on a Sunday morning so it was an impulse purchase but has turned out to be one of the best little pocket cameras I have ever owned.  The sensor is only one inch so its not as good as my Fujifilm X Series cameras but with its 24-100mm Equivalent  fast Zoom its so much better than my iphone as an every day pocket camera.

I work most weeks teaching with the Fujifilm X100F and the X70 and these are just the best tools for me teaching Street Photography. When I go off on Landscape Trips or teach Landscape I take the GFX System as that is the right tool for me for Landscapes and I also have the XPro2 for Street and Landscape with a selection of lenses.

I do have a few Canon Cameras and these are all for Shooting Video and they are the C100mk2 the 200D and the 5DMK4 and and a selection of lenses. I have some future Film plans and needed a camera system that was tried and tested.

The beauty of not having a contract with any brand is that I don’t have to stick to one set of tools and can use the best tools for the job ! Fujifilm make the cameras I need for all my Stills work and Canon for my Video the little G7x is just an exception to the rule, its great for video but also just so much fun to take stills with.

This weekend I got a very rare chance to get away in my Camper with Jane for a couple of days and decided not to take any camera gear. I did however take the G7x with me as a back up to my iphone ! Its light, fits in my pocket and the battery lasts all day and even if I do need to charge it I can just plug it in my powerbank !

This weekend was a time to reflect and its great to find a campsite that has no phone reception to get away from it all for a couple of days. We love Cae Du Campsite its just one of the most quiet and peaceful sites in Wales and perfect to get away from it all. I have a long term and short term plan and at times in this job you just cant see the wood for the trees. I have now had time to reflect and put the next four years in to some order.

My new workshops are online here and I will be putting a few more online over the next few months, these will be workshops I have designed to help people who already know how to use a camera, to discover more about the art of taking pictures.

I also have a new business plan that will come in to action next March at my end of year, so all going well I should have lots more time to do what I want to do and that is travel and explore with Jane. This will at last redress my work life balance ! I hope.

I will leave you with a few images taken over the weekend with the little Canon G7X in and around Beddgellert.

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