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.
Here we are four months in to my Year of Colour and I am struggling !
I always thought it would be hard thats why I chose to take it on as a project, but this has been so much harder than I thought but mainly because I have been so busy. I have hardly been able to get out and shoot any personal work so have just had to grab a few shots on my workshops and walks.
I have found out as expected colour is complicated! I have always realised that and found it very difficult to match the colour to my mood and style. I think it was a lot easier back in the film days you chose a film for your style or job and just went out and created. Well I did, because I chose colour transparency film so did not have much say in the initial process. I guess that’s another reason I went black and white in the early days.
With digital you have so many choices from camera to software it’s just a minefield but I think I made a small breakthrough yesterday on a workshop.
I started off this project with the XPro2 and the X100F as my main cameras and now I have decided to just use the X100F for the rest of the project as best I can.
I have been going between RAW and Jpeg and then changing my mind again but now I have decided to shoot Jpeg and Raw and start playing around with the Jpeg settings in camera on the X100F. This way hopefully I will have a few choices at the editing stage, I have struggled to get a Jpeg image to look how I want it to look and prefer RAW with a very simple Lightroom conversion but I still feel I am missing a trick with Jpegs.
So it’s time to start experimenting. I can’t do that chopping and changing between cameras, the X100F is going to get some serious use this year.
Consistency without pre sets is going to be my main bug bear as I have an amazing black and white workflow that just works. With colour it’s more dependent on the quality of light on the day and the colour temperature of the light so that has become a big issue for me. I have been falling out with colour in a big way over the last couple of months so much so that I was starting to hate it.
But then I shot the image above and started to look at colour in a whole new way. I realised I was thinking in terms of Digital and not Film and the closer I could get to the film or Cine look the better. I think colour trends change and people do like saturated mad colours but I dont think thats me. I have always liked the way RAW files looked except they are flat and lifeless but with a few tweaks they come alive.
So I need to explore if I can get the same feel in camera with Jpegs, I am not holding up much hope but by shooting Jpeg and Raw I have kept my options open.
Thank you Fujifim for Film Simulations, I am going to play with these over the next couple of months and see what happens. If it drives me nuts I have the RAW files to fall back on.
This image changed it yesterday. The colour of the shop front and the guys shirt were a close match so I wanted to capture this in RAW and make some simple changes to get the image to look how I wanted in Lightroom. I then set about getting the camera set up to look like this on the rear screen or as close as I could get it.
I then did the same with this image, it’s just a crazy experiment trying to edit a shot before you take it in camera but thought I would give it a go.
My dream is to not need to use Lightroom to edit so it’s about time I started playing around to achieve the end goal !
I often hear woman say there is no perfect handbag for every occasion and this is just the same for camera bags. You can’t find one bag for every job; most of the time camera bag manufactures get it so wrong. Most people want a camera bag that protects their gear but is also light and easy to carry. I guess this is where most people have to compromise as most camera bags weigh a ton even before they are filled to the brim with camera gear.
I have acquired quite a large collection of camera bags over the years. I now have one for nearly every occasion from Landscape to Workshops. The only one I did not have was a decent working Street Photography bag. I was making do using a ‘Next’ canvas bag and it was great, a little padding on the bottom and lots of space, possibly too much space. Sounds mad too much space, but if you have extra space you end up filling the gaps with something. Unfortunately my ‘Next’ bag was coming to the end of its life, so I decided I needed something smaller and longer lasting.
I wanted a very hard wearing canvas bag that was waterproof and would carry just what I needed and no more. So with a little research I found ‘Domke‘ the bag is listed as water resistant and that would do for me as I can always add a cover if I needed to. I quite like the idea of a breathable bag at least then if my cameras get wet in use they have the chance to dry out.
When you look at all the bag images online people take out the packets of sweets, pens, phones etc and all the other bits so it looks good for the photo. I shot this image above with all my junk in view the only items not in the shot was my i pad and a couple of lens cloths.
So I think I have found my perfect Street bag. The first big test was a Street Workshop I led in Edinburgh March 2015. It went well, it rained quit a lot over the weekend and the bag kept the water out so that was a big plus as my ‘Next’ bag was not waterproof.
The Domke Crosstown Courier is a heavy duty cotton fabric treated with environmentally friendly waxes and oils to keep the water out. A tin of wax is also supplied with the bag to top up the water resisting qualities. I am told the bag looks better and better with age like a favourite pair of jeans! I quite like that idea as I hate new looking things out on the Street.
The bag has pouches at each end that detach and these are great for when I am not teaching photography courses, I can take them off to save even more weight if I need to.
The bag has a large interior compartment and padding. I take most of the padding out as I find the padding takes up too much room in all camera bags. I wrap my lenses and cameras in micro fibre lens cloths that double up as cleaning cloths. I put my i pad in the main compartment with my X-T1 and XPro1 with a few lenses and I put my X100T in the pocket at the front so it’s at hand when I need it. My travel battery pack goes in the rear pocket for phone and battery charging on the move. It has two full size pockets length ways one on the back and one hidden under the flap. A large mesh pocket and two expandable front pockets are also very useful. It also has an anti slip shoulder strap which is very handy as some bags do tend to slip off your shoulder.
There is a bigger version but I am happy with this bag. I can carry it all day and it does not become a burden.
My only negative with the bag is once full if you don’t pack the heavy gear at the bottom of the bag it swivels to a funny angle as you walk but that is probably just the way I pack mine ! I do like to carry lots of lens cloths for padding and these can end up at the bottom.
One nice little touch is the fact that you can register your bag online. If you lose the bag and someone is kind enough to try and get it back to you there is a bar-code riveted plate on the bag with a phone number to call.
I have been using the bag for about six weeks now and have to say I love it! At first I did think it would be too small but as a Street bag it’s perfect for me not only for teaching but when I am out on my own. I have not taken the pouches off yet as I love them for easy access.
It’s probably not the cheapest bag on the market but it’s very well made and very rugged. I think it will last the rest of my life and a lot longer than any of my other bags. So well worth the investment.
It’s nearly April..
Where is this year going?
I have been flat out with the day job now due to staff sickness I have been working 10-11 hour days and trying to plan my year, I have only shot one portrait for my ‘Face Behind The Keyboard’ project and its now bugging me! Everyone was telling me my ‘Year Of Black And White’ was going to be hard, but it was very easy compared to this project.
I have a plan for the portraits and most are outside environmental shots and so far we have had lots of rain and I have been busy or my subject has been busy, one portrait in three months is very depressing. I am quite sure by the end of the year I will have shot everyone I need to, I have even planned some of my trips this year to visit some of my friends to shoot their portraits, so hopefully all will be fine in the end.
I have booked up most of my year with talks around the UK and planned what events I am going to shoot as well as planned most of my holidays and breaks, just a few left to organize.
I have stopped doing talks at clubs and events with slide shows. I am using and promoting printing and talking about my images in print, I think it’s more personal and at the end of the day I love to see my work in print and hope that the people that attend my talks will be inspired to print their own work.
In amongst all the chaos I have decided on my 2015 personal project, and can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be a project in black and white about ‘Available Light’. When I first started photography I used flash and fixed lighting and used to love it but now I prefer to use available light. When I say available light that can mean any light I have available, so I am going to have to set myself some rules. I will talk more about this in a future post on the 2015 project.
I am now as you all know a Fujiholic and totally addicted to Fuji Cameras. At the moment I have a large selection of Fuji glass and my main bodies are the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji XPro1. I will be using Fuji for everything I shoot from now on these cameras inspire me to go out and shoot. Fuji are a perfect fit for me.
To answer all the questions I get in the mail, no I don’t work for Fuji and Fuji do not pay me to use or test their products. I just fell in love with their camera systems and love the company and all the Fuji Team are great. I buy all my camera gear from Cambrian Photography in Colwyn Bay North Wales and they can post all over the UK. Sarah Jones is my contact and is always willing to help anyone interested in buying any Fuji gear. She loves Fuji so much she sold herself one!
I have started a few social media groups for Fujiholics. I have been very busy this week but found time to set up a facebook,Google+,Instagram and Twitter accounts for Fujiholics and along with my excellent Admin Team of Professional Photographers, writers and bloggers hope to have so fun with Fuji over the next few years.
Right that’s all I have time for today, must finish my well over due book!