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Street Photography Colour / Black and White

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I have been Shooting Street for a very long time now, right from as far back as I can remember so well over 40 years, it’s always been a part of me to shoot people as a subject, but when I shoot it has to be candid. True Street as I have always understood it, will not interfere with the dynamic in the street, and this is the Street Photography I love.  I know the point where you press the shutter to being spotted and getting a reaction or creating a reaction, is a very fine line involving fractions of a seconded, and find this point very well discussed in the street world.

Street portraits are on the rise but I stopped asking a for portraits years back,  I do ask for the odd one or two if the subject is very exciting but hardly every post the images.

I want to go back to my early days and explore the early days of street in my everyday life and workshops and explore the more modern side of street in my new project.

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I have shot Street with film for years and as many people know I had a fire in my Flat many years ago and lost my camera gear all my prints and negatives. I stopped shooting for long time and only used a camera to record my family growing up. I just took family snaps in colour and black and white,before the calling of the photography world grabbed me again.

I always preferred black and white film and when I first moved over to digital, I hated the way digital cameras would process black and white and colour.

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I stuck to black and white for all the reasons people used black and white in digital, but have been shooting film for my unseen personal work, I will continue shooting film and hope in the future have even more time shoot more and more film and less digital.

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I have always struggled with colour in digital and I know in Photoshop you can almost make the colours how you want them and almost do the same in Lightroom but I don’t want to spend hours and hours trying to make colours look how I want them to look. The days of transparency film were so simple, shoot get developed and view! Print your work! Job done…

Up to last weekend I have shot 95% black and white but the more I get in to Street the more the colour medium is calling me and thanks to Fujifilm this is so easy, my XPro1 and X-T1 produce such amazing colours, I hardly have to touch them in Lightroom. So it looks like I will be shooting more and more colour over the coming months. I will start off with just street images that feel right in colour and put them mainly in my Tumblr account to see how I feel, and a few on Instagram and possibly a few on Google + Its very hard to mix colour and black and white so I am going to struggle with this in 2015.  But I am starting to fall back in love with colour again thanks to Fujifilm.

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I shoot in RAW and the cameras are all set to standard for colour and Lightroom imports the RAW file and I hardly touch the RAW file it’s just a little levels and curves and dodging and burning but I am at last after all this time starting to find my Colour feet.

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I very much doubt I will go over to shooting more colour than black and white as I find colour distracting and not a great story telling medium, I also struggle in separating my subject at times in colour but I can’t ignore it any more! I guess it’s just part of the journey.  Who knows I might even shoot colour film again! But I doubt it.

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A Year Of Black And White ( The Book )

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This is going to be short but sweet, I have finished my book at last and it’s now available on Blurb in hardback and as an e book. The hard back has two price options and the e book is £9.99 the e book is here and the hardback options are here.

It was a difficult decision to make the book as small as it is but trying to squeeze 365 images in was just too hard so I made the book a lot smaller.  Following three months of shuffling and writing captions and Exiff data for every image, I changed my mind and started again.

There is a forward in my book from my good friend Paul Saunders, former picture editor of The Times and just a couple of pages of writing from me. I decided to let the images do the talking.

The book will be available at Cambrian Photography North Wales at their Annual Show on the 31st May 2014  close to the Fuji stand so please feel free to come and say hello as I will be there all day.

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2014 Where have you gone !

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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!

Face Behind the Keyboard

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Face Behind The Keyboard is my 2014 personal project, it’s all about taking me out of my comfort zone and also quite a lot of my subjects to !

I have been thinking about this project for a while, it’s been quite hard for me to decide which way to go with my portrait project in 2014 but in the end I was inspired by a very very close friend who I did not meet in the flesh ! Her name was Lynette, we became friends on the internet on Dontstayin.com and then on facbook, we spoke nearly every day for many years and had a very close friendship. Unfortunately Lyn died in tragic circumstances, this was a huge shock for me and even though I was welcomed with open arms to her funeral by her family, I could not go! Having a virtual best friend you had never met who died was quite hard to deal with.  I think about her all the time, and always wish we could have met just once!

Also every one that does not know I met Jane on what was Face-Pic, Jane was one of the only people on Face-Pic without a profile photo! Long story.

The internet is a strange place, it’s amazing how we can think and feel and fall in love without meeting any one in person! Some people remain faceless even to this day on facebook. This is my inspiration for the 2014 project as it will help me to meet some of you guys just once in the flesh and put a person to a profile !

I know a lot of Photographers myself included that hate having their photo taken and there are quite a few shy people around, believe it or not, myself included! But I feel quite safe behind the camera!

My project with commence on the 1st of January 2014 and finish on the 31st December 2014, I think it will follow on very nicely from my 2013 project, my year of black and white.

I aim to shoot the whole project with Fuji X camera systems, I have a few ideas for a few of my friends, but don’t worry nothing too radical! 

If you want to join in and take part you can, if you are one of my social media friends on any platform and you want to meet up and have your portrait shot then get in touch by e mail matt@matthewhartphotography.com or through one of the social media platforms. I can’t include you all and I can’t travel the world, but if you are visiting the UK in 2014 then get in touch and I will see what I can do.

This project is no doubt going to be a very emotional one on so many levels, one life live it, capture it ! 

2013 A Year Of Black And White

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What can I say about my year of black and white! It was quite an easy project to be honest, a lot easier than I first thought!  There were a couple of times I wish I could have posted some great colour images but not many. I did miss a few sunsets in 2013, well if I am perfectly honest I missed a lot of sunsets in 2013, I also did not shoot a lot of images in autumn and Christmas has been a little quiet on the photography front. But apart from that the year has been good.

I started out with my monitors set to black and white, but this only lasted a month! I could not cope with trying to work out the tones with my eye sight on the back of the camera in the field. I have also grown up shooting film and I did this without a view monitor on the back of my camera. I guess growing up shooting black and white you learn to see the tones of the colour image in your mind’s eye and you have an idea of what a final image will look like after editing. So the cameras got set to standard colour RAW.

The next issue that happened in my project was the X100 came in to my workflow and threw a great big spanner in the Nikon works. I started shooting with the X100 and its files were just the most perfect files I have ever seen for black and white. My favorite Nikon Body for black and white was the D200 this old Nikon body was just so good at producing a RAW file for black and white. But the X100 was better ! I started to use the X100 more and more and in the end I sold my D200 and my D7000 because I was only using the D3s and the X100. I thought these two cameras were just perfect for black and white and for my future projects. But then it all changed again! I found myself not using the D3s and having 30k in Pro DSLR gear laying about not earning its keep was bugging me! But the X100 could not replace a D3s ! So I went out and brought myself an XPro1 with a couple of lenses from Cambrian Photography.   I was shooting the Liverpool International Music Festival at the time and took the Xpro1 along to give it a try ! It was slow and not a DSLR and I was not sure what to do, but after a while I decided I quite liked the way it made me think ! I was shooting with the pack with the D3s and when I got back home all my images shot on the D3s were the same as the rest of the Press Pack. Mine stood out only because they were black and white. But the few shots I got on the XPro1 that day had a little more thought go in to them. That was it I decided to sell all my Nikon DSLR gear and move over to Fuji Mirrorless !   This is a big leap and a leap of faith in my ability to make this system work for me in 2014 !  I have now got a Xpro1 and an XE-2 with almost all the lenses Fuji make.  So this is one of the biggest changes that has come from my black and white year! I am now a Fujiholic ! Totally addicted to Fuji cameras, the build quality is amazing and the lenses are stunning, I am in the process of adapting the way I work to fit in with the camera system, it’s a very steep learning curve but I am getting there !

My black and white year has also taught me to slow down and think, to take my time, to wait and to shoot less! I am not a great memory muncher any way to be honest, but my black and white year has made me shoot less and this is a good thing when it comes to editing ! I now have more time shooting and less time editing.

I have tried to shoot Jpeg with the Fuji’s as others do but for me it’s just not working for me !

I have been asked over two thousand times this year how I process my black and white and what pre sets and actions I use! Well the secret is, there are no actions and no pre sets !   I shoot the image and have a plan in my head already for how I want this image to look when processed. So after downloading the memory card I import straight in to Lightroom 5.3, then I open the image in Lightroom and clone out any dust and marks as well as birds and crisp packets etc  I check the image at 100% and also check for sharpness and camera shake. There are the odd occasions I have to go in to Photoshop to use content aware clone but very rarely these days.  I then open the image in Silver Efex Pro 2 and convert it to black and white. I then use the sliders to give the image the look and feel I am after and this is how I first visualized it when I shot it ! There have been many times at this stage the image is rejected ! I just don’t like the look and feel. I then gets left on the hard drive to have a look at later in Colour !  When I  made all the changes I need in Silver Efex I then import it back in to Lightroom for some final tweaks before exporting as Jpeg. I start every black and white image from scratch so sorry guys there are not actions to share or presets to share.   I can’t show you all how I process my images because every image is different. I have however found a new way to process Colour so in 2014 I will be using the same method I use on  my black and white images to make Colour images.  

I have always hated Colour images and struggled for years with colour film ! I only ever processed Colour transparency film. I was late to Digital and have never been a fan of colour digital, until switching over to Fuji and now at last its growing on  me, there is something about the Fuji Sensor and the way the camera processes the images that has made me want to explore colour !

So will I stop shooting Black and White in 2014 ? No, is the simple answer! I will probably shoot 90% black and white and 10% colour, black and white is my passion and always will be.

So my black and white year has made me move over to Fuji, I don’t think this would have happened if I had just carried on as I was, so that is one thing to thank this project for.

I have learnt a new way to shoot colour and discovered also that the Fuji cameras give me a RAW file that more suites my needs as a photographer and hopefully not only does it make my Black and White images stand out from the crowd but next year it might even make my colour images stand out from the crowed! 

I have had some great feedback and interest on my black and white project and learnt a hell of a lot about myself that I want put in to words in a blog post, I can recommend a year of black and white to any one so why not start one in 2014 !

If you have any questions about my year of black and white or my change over to Fuji then please get in touch.

Matt