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My top 3 Cameras from 2018

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I have been a bit slow on my blog this year because I have been focusing on YouTube but I thought I would answer my most asked question.

What are your top three Cameras  ?

I always get asked what cameras I use and prefer or recommend  and its always difficult to answer that question without knowing what someone will use a camera for, after all they are just tools to do a job and all tools have a different purpose.

But my top two for Street Photography are the Fujifilm X100F and the Fujifilm XPRo2 and that will depend on weather you want a fixed 23mm lens like on the X100F of want to be able to change lenses like on the XPro2. These are my hands down best best two Street Cameras.

My other camera choice is the amazing little Canon G7X Mark II as this is an all round amazing little camera for carrying everywhere I go and is not just a great back up stills camera but an amazing vlogging camera. It’s become my pocket camera next to my iphone7plus for 2018 and I hear a rumor there is a G7X Mark III I really hope there is and can’t wait to try one out when Canon release it.

I aim to shoot my 2019 project on the amazing Fujifilm X100F and cant wait to get stuck in to in in January and will be sure to blog about it and Vlogg about it as soon as I get started.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you all.

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Youtube Here We Come

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Is it nearly December already !!

Where did 2018 go !

I have now reached semi retirement and it feels very strange, yes last month I was 55 and as planned I am going to slow things down and move on over to YouTube.

I have slowly been making videos, just dipping my toe in the water learning as much as I can by watching YouTube videos and talking to some of the rising YouTube stars about what they think my USP is ! They say its my age and experience so I aim to use that to my advantage in 2019.

One thing I do find about YouTube is that you can’t learn as fast as you can when you are doing a practical lesson. You also can’t ask questions when you want and I don’t think we retain the knowledge as well when we just watch a screen !  So I am going to do about four workshops a year to build my own personal education and I am going to still teach a few a year as well as get out and about as much as I can on photo walks and meet ups.

My next workshop is in Liverpool and there are only a few places left. Its my very popular Learning to See Workshop.

One thing is for sure I am getting sick to death of Facebook and I know quite a few people who are but like me we just hang on in there because of the groups and our business pages ! I do wonder why at times I really do !

Now SmugMug own Flickr I really do hope they bring the photography community together on Flickr again because Facebook is not the place of it, it’s so full of Trolls and Keyboard Experts !

I have been told people like my RANTS ! Not sure why but if that’s the case then I will bring a few Rants to YouTube but I really want to focus on inspiring people to take their photography to the next level and hope to inspire the next generation once I can workout a strategy to do so.

Before I can get to the really good stuff I need to get my viewing hours up to 4000 hours and maintain that over a year.

I am going to start 2019 with all the normal YouTube stuff you would expect like unboxing videos, product tests and some tips and tricks. I will then move on in to 2019 with Interviews and long form videos that can be watched as videos or listened to driving in your car like podcasts. These really long interviews will be at least an hour long or longer. I don’t really want to get in to Podcasts as I find them a little disconnected at times but who knows ! I think I will try the video route first.

I really do want to just get out every day and take photos and have lots of ideas for projects and a few workshops this year and hope to share all my ideas and processes with you on YouTube so make sure you tune in to my YouTube channel and click subscribe and hit the bell for all the great photography related videos in 2019  see you all on the other side !

Check out my X100F set up video here.

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To Much Clutter !

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Its been a very busy few years and I have not had a decent relaxing break for quite a while. I have just taken a week off and was only  60 miles from my front door in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. Jane said to me half way through the week “you have hardly been on your phone this week” I guess I am learning! It’s no good going away to Scotland and driving 600miles and not unloading the clutter in my mind by being on Social Media all the time or answering all the emails. So staying close to home saved me a lot of driving and allowed me to really relax.

Working in the Photography industry is a bit full on at times, if you are not marketing you are planning or on Social Media and this can take over your life.

Whilst away I decided on my 5 year plan and am now going to stick to it for a change.  I have about 14 more workshops to do for Wex Photographic and then a few other jobs to complete before October 2018. I will then semi retire.  I plan to fully retire in 2022 not that Photographers ever retire we just have more time to be creative.

I will cut my workload in half  from October 2018 and start to take photos for me and begin to explore the five elements that make a great image( Light, Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject & Emotional Impact).    I want to focus on image making as this is so important to me.

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I have put together a new series of workshops just to keep me going until 2022. I don’t think I can sit around for the next four years, so I might as well get out there and teach what I love. These workshops will explore the five elements but have nothing to do with gear and technology.  I also plan to put more time in to my YouTube channel to let you know about the creative process, this will also focus on my image making thought process.

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Its amazing how taking a really good break from reality can focus the mind. I walked over 58 miles last week and only took my Fujifilm X100F with me. This transported me back to the day I bought my very first X100 ! Its the reason I moved over to Fujifilm from Nikon and the reason I fell in love with the X Series ! The X70 and the X100F are two of the best in the Fujifilm range by far. The GFX50 is the King but it’ not exactly portable but is the best tool in the toolbox !

Spending a week with the X100F made me relax and enjoy my photography again so much so that I was thinking about selling most of my Fujifilm gear and just keeping that one camera. I still have some work to do with my GFX and three projects to finish and its far too amazing a camera to sell, so the GFX will be staying and so will my X70 and my Xpro2 as that’s one of my Personalised Camera Bodies that Fujifilm gave to me in recognition of my hard work.  I think the rest of the lenses and bodies might have to go, not that I have much left as I had a good clear out to buy the GFX last year.

I think I will end up with the GFX50s,X100F,X70,Xpro2 but will probably only use the X100F / X70 most of the time.

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One thing I did think about a lot when I was away on holiday was the obsession with gear amongst photographers and this is why I wrote This . It drives me mad watching people buying tons and tons of gear thinking it will make them a better Photographer ! If I make a YouTube video on ‘Gear’ I get 60,000+ hits, if I make one about the creative process I get a few hundred. It’s the same with Workshops, if I do a workshop for one of the brands everyone wants to book on it, but if its about creativity no one is interested and think they can learn it all from YouTube ! I wish it was that simple. You can learn from YouTube but it’s only when you go on a real physical workshop and sit and talk to other people does the real learning start. The more time you spend with a camera in your hand around like minded people the better your work will become. I have seen hundreds of people tell me how they learn from youtube. Most of these people have tons of gear and their image making process is just a bad template of the person they have been watching and they are stuck in the YouTube cycle of looking but not learning.

I was tempted to go down the YouTube route to teach as well for myself and Fujiholics but have decided it would not be the fair or right thing to do.

There are hundreds of people jumping on workshops as teachers but most are doing it for the wrong reasons. If they don’t have passion and it’s all about the money it really does show, so choose wisely !

Photography is a life long learning curve and we all go through diferent stages as we progress, there are no short cuts. I am lucky as I started at 8 years old and have had a lifetimes experience so can now look forward to really exploring whats out there for me and passing on my knowledge !

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So it’s time for me to de clutter my mind and my camera cupboard and start to explore the next stages of my Photography journey ! I am starting a series of workshops that will be available on my Eventbrite page very soon. These workshops are designed to give Photographers that have mastered their cameras the information they need to take the the next step up the ladder ! I am sure most people new to photography or even Photographers that have been at it for years get stuck in the gear cycle and keep buying more and more gear to hopefully inspire them to take better photos but always end up disappointed and chopping and changing brands etc to get that amazing image.  Its almost like being in a constant loop of disappointment. YouTube does not always help as you end up watching a YouTube video and then have a list of new clutter to buy ! This just puts you back in the sales funnel but does not help you !

There are some great YouTube channels and the one I like at the moment is Sean Tucker 

I hope to use my Photography experience gained over the last 40+ years, to pass on some great advice. This will be through a series of workshops that will take place over the next four years exploring what to look for and how to create some great images. This should then give you all the tools you need to get out and create your own work without the need for more and more gear. I will then bring the regular workshops to a close.

I will then retire in 2022 but will update my YouTube channel about once a month and do a couple of talks or workshops a year just to hopefully inspire people to take the next steps in the journey and get of the gear loop !

So if you want to de clutter and want to get off the gear loop I will see you on a future workshop.

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Holiday Habit

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I have always taken quite a lot of camera gear with me on holiday and it’s become a habit that I have struggled to quit, until now.

With the Fujifilm X System the kit is so much less than DSLR gear, but it’s still quite a lot of gear once you add an extra body, a tripod, some filters etc.  I have noticed over the last few trips I don’t use it as much as I did.  You guys know me for my black and white Street work but I still love my landscape. The downside to Landscape is all the gear you tend to pack. I also am not a fan of over processed Landscape work as I like to capture the world as I see it and not chop and change things around in Photoshop so have always packed lots of filters and a tripod. This is a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with people who create amazing Landscape in PS I just prefer to keep my Landscape work as real as my Street.

The last break Jane and I had, I just put the Fujifilm X100F in my pocket and went on holiday. Crazy I know and as I drove off I nearly turned round to go get all the gear but stuck with my gut and went for it.

I had the best break and took a few shots to remind me of the break and decided from that moment on to just take one camera and one lens away with me when not working.

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Fujifilm X100F ISO400 1/1900 f/5.00I dont normally explain my images but In the image above I loved this tree and all the walls etc and the vapour trail reminded me of all the Airport Stress that people put themselves through for a trip out of the UK.

 

On our recent trip to North Yorkshire I decided to take the X100F again and this time I managed to capture a few Landscape shots and have suddenly fallen back in love with the beauty of our Landscape and the simplicity of a single camera in my pocket. It was bliss to be able to walk for miles and miles without tons of gear.

I then remembered why I changed to the Fujifilm X System, to keep things simple and to keep the weight down. You soon get caught up in having to take so much gear with you to take photos but really it is all just down to the 6″ behind the viewfinder not all the gear you have in the bag. You can create amazing Long Exposure effects without your filters and tripod etc but I have found this was holding me back from walking further and exploring all the amazing hills and mountains like I used to.

I did have a chuckle to myself half way down the track from Malham Cove when a guy passed me with a huge camera bag full of gear and massive Tripod strapped to his back with sweat pouring off his face. Jane even looked at me and said “He looks like he is having a great day!”

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I can safely say I have just had one of the most relaxing holiday in ages and one of the reasons was not having to decide every day what camera and lens I was going to put in what bag and what tripod or filters I was going to take with me.

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I really cant wait for my next trip out now,  to go and explore our amazing countryside with the X100F keeping it as simple as possible.

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X100F v XPro2

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I get asked quite a lot “what is best the X100F or the Xpro2 ?” I always find this an interesting question because I don’t quite know why I am being asked the question !

I dont think people want to know what camera I prefer, I think they want to know what one I would recommend they buy ! To find out what would be the best camera for the other person I would need to know so much more about them and their photography. So I will answer this question as if it was directed to me.

I am not that worried about the bells and whistles that are thrown at modern cameras I just want the exposure triangle on the outside of the camera and I want to be able to use it quickly without putting too much thought in to it or digging into the menus.

I do love the rangefinder style because I am a right eye shooter, so with the rangefinder my nose is not squashed on the back of the camera and 9 times out of 10 no one knows where you are pointing a rangefinder !

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I am also not that worried about the viewfinder or the rear screen as I need glasses these days for close up work so don’t spend a lot of time using either. If I do use the viewfinder or rear screen it’s just to compose the image so it can be all blurry as long as I can see the composition.

The main difference between the X100F and the XPro2 is the fact it has interchangeable lenses and in all honesty this is the one deciding factor the rest is almost irrelevant.

But I am lucky as I have both cameras.

One thing I must point out is that for Event work I also use the Fujifilm X-T2 and the main reason is for balance  the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 and battery grip with extra battery capacity for a long day shooting is just perfect. I will still use the X100F and XPro2 on the day just to have a variety of lenses with me at all times within easy reach.

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At the moment when I am teaching Street photography I just use the X100F.

When I am out shooting in the UK on my own at the moment I use two X100F bodies, one with the fixed 23mm and one with the Fujifilm WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens.

The XPro2 stays at home, so in a way I have answered the question.

I moved away from Nikon to be able to lighten my load and enjoy my day out shooting and over the last 6 years I have only used the Fujifilm system and got to know it very well. In that time the X100 has come a long way and the X100F is now everything I need in an everyday camera for shooting Street, its got a great sensor and exposure triangle on top and the autofocus is now as fast as I need it to be. I used to Zone focus the X100 and X100s and even the X100T to get the results I needed but the X100F has such a great AF system I dont need to use Zone focus for anything anymore. I guess the only time would be in low light or awkward situations and in that case I would just switch to M and back button focus.

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When out shooting Street my only consideration now is, is it moving if so switch to C (continuous AF) is is stationary switch to S (single AF)

I like the camera to do all the work for me so I set the camera in to Auto ISO with the following settings – Default Sensitivity 200, Max.Sensitivity 6400, Min. Shutter Speed 1/250 sec.

This set up is basically the same for the X100F and the XPro2 except I alter the Min Shutter speed to suit the lens I have on the camera for the XPro2.

For me the X100F is my Desert Island camera, and this camera now goes with me everywhere I go its the first camera I pack for any trip. One great thing about a fixed lens camera is the fact there is no sensor cleaning so that is a big bonus.

I have adapted the way I shoot to suit the X100F and I think this is important, I see so many people moaning online about the fact a camera has not go this or it has not got that and the biggest moan about the X100F is the fact it does not have a tilting screen ! When it first came out I even thought thats a shame, after using the X70 and all the others with tilting screens I did wonder but now I get it. Why do we keep wanting more and more and more this is why the DSLR’s got so big ! besides the XPro2 does not have a tilting screen.

I love the freedom of the X100F and if I have to pick one camera from the Fujifilm range this would be it.

So what about the Xpro2 ? Its water resistant and it is slightly faster on  AF and it has interchangeable lenses, so it’s far better than the X100F and if I travel anywhere out of the UK it comes with me, also for assignments I use the X100F and the XPro2 with a longer lens on to give me something wide and something long to be able to capture the moment no matter where it happens.

I love my XPro2 and in the Fujifilm range it comes up as my favorite camera but it also annoys me because it gives me lens choice ! The Fujifilm lenses are all so good you then end up taking the XPro2 and 3 or 4 lenses with you and you only ever use one ! So it puts more weight in your bag is counter productive.

The XPro2 is perfect for travel and perfect for assignments and just about anything but when it comes down what one I prefer based on weight, size, portability etc the X100F wins hands down.

We all want diferent things from our cameras and Fujifilm have an amazing range of bodies and lenses now and I love to use them all but the X100F is still my desert Island Camera.

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X100F Touch and Try

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Wow what a great six days ! 124,000 steps around some amazing cities with the amazing Fujifilm X100F.

We Started in Leeds and ended in Liverpool. We went to Dale Photographic, Calumet, Wilkinsons,Cambrian and LCE. We carried 8 X100F bodies and a small team from Fujifilm UK Richard, Pete and the amazing John Dallas.

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We ran three walks a day with three groups of up to 8 people on each session over six days and covered some serious miles.

The feedback on the X100F has been very positive and that has reflected  in the amazing amount of Pre Orders.

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Most of the guys that came on the walks loved the X100F and think its a good move to sell their X100 X100S of X100T’s to move up to the Fourth Generation camera. Just incase you did not know the F in X100F stands for Fourth. A few of the guys were undecided about the X100F but were very interested in the X-T20 or the X-T2 one of the guys was desperate for the GFX50S.

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There were a quite a few of the guys that did not like the placing of the Q button and the fact you could knock the joystick. This was mentioned by quite a few of the Fujifilm X Photographers when the camera was out on evaluation.  We will feed back the Q button issue to Fujifilm and hope they can make the change on the next version. The Q button can be locked by pressing and holding the Menu OK button but this will lock all the function buttons.  Some of the guys did not like the fact the joystick would rub against their clothing and get moved, however the Joystick can be turned off by pressing and holding it down for more than 3 sec.

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Its been a long six days and I am worn out now and need a nice break so will be hiding out in my camper van this weekend somewhere quiet. One thing that always amazes me about the Fujifilm family is what an amazing group of people you Fujifilm users are, so friendly and positive about the brand.

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Thanks for the great company over the last week all you lucky winners and I hope you enjoy your x100F when it is released on the 23rd of February. Thanks for traveling from as far as Oban and Birmingham to spend a couple of hours with the X100F in the North West and North Wales and making  the last six days so much fun. You know who you are and thanks…..

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February Already !

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I can’t believe its February already ! Not even sure where January went.

It’s been a busy month and it’s all a bit of a blur. I can remember doing my first two Street Photography Workshops for Calumet UK in London and Birmingham, I loved both of these workshops and cant wait to visit the rest of the Calumet stores this year and deliver the same workshop. It’s a slightly different format from my own workshops and each branch of Calumet is a great base to start from. The only Street Photography workshops I am going to do for myself this year will be the Liverpool ones, the rest will be with Calumet UK in 2017. You can see a complete list here Calumet Street Workshops.

I also recorded a Black and White editing video in January that should be out sometime this month to purchase. We have set the price to half the price of attending my Black and White editing workshop as I have stopped my Black and White workshops this year because I will be concentrating on my colour project.

My Colour project has taken a back seat in January and the only image I have shot is the one on this page ! Just goes to show even a professional photographer does not always have the time to get out and shoot for himself.

I had an amazing trip to Glencoe with the Fujiholics  and hope to do a lot more collaboration workshops in the future. Fujiholics takes up quite a chunk of my time and was quite a juggling act last year.   Hopefully going forward we should bring some great walks and workshops to everyone.

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When I got home from Glencoe I had my first delivery of Custom Flash Drives from USB Memory Direct delivered. I have to say they provide a great service and the printing is just how we wanted it. You can have a look for yourselves USB Memory Direct  so many choices.

I thought I would get a rest in January and February but I have never been so busy. I am just about to take over from Kevin Mullins and go on a short road trip around the North West and Wales with the Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm UK taking the lucky winners of the Fujifilm X100F ‘touch and try’ competition out into whatever the British weather throws at us to show the winners how I use this amazing new addition to the Fujifilm X Series. I can’t wait to show the winners what an amazing little upgrade this is. I will be going to Dale Photographic, Calumet Manchester, LCE Manchester, Cambrian Photography and Wilkinson camera over the next six days and cant wait to catch up with the Fujifilm UK Team and the lucky winners.

When I get back from my little trip with Fujifilm I will be off to Venice with Paul Sanders to teach a Landscape and Street Workshop. There are still a few places left so grab a space whilst the euro still has some value. Venice Trip

Once back from Venice it won’t be long before I am at The Photography Show in Birmingham. I will be on the Fujifilm Stand most days and in the Behind the Lens Theater on the last day of the show, so make sure you get your tickets, here is a discount code to save you a few pounds SPKTPS17 if you book online.

It’s a very busy year and if you want to book on any of the Fujiholics workshops or my own workshops or Photowalks here are the links.

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Look forward to seeing you all at some point this year…