A little update…

It’s been a little while since I last posted up on the blog (though not as long as on other occasions). I have been quite productive on the photography front, I just haven’t quite got it all ready to go just yet. So, I thought I would post up an image from the recent project and explain what I am trying to do.

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Verdant

This project is called Verdant. All of the photographs for it were taken during June in Grovely wood. I was out walking the dog one evening. I had a 70-200 telephoto lens with me as I was hoping to capture some images of the deer that can often be seen in the wood. I did get some photos of deer, but they were pretty average to say the least. Whilst I was there, I did capture some interesting images of the trees that caught my attention.

During the last month, I have tried to create a body of work using the greenery of the wood as a key theme. I have tried to construct images that work together using the idea of light, form and hue. The aim of the work is to try to build a series that is subtle in its focus, where the viewer looks at the images to see the similarities and differences between them. The work is about diversity, not in terms of the variety of images themselves but what they intend to illustrate.

I am quite a cognitive person, by and large. However, for this project I wanted to drop as many preconceptions as possible and go with the ‘flow’. I wanted all the images to have a family resemblance. The unpicking of what it all meant to me was to come later. For the project I just wanted to go with my feelings about the images. In my view, I think it worked well. It’s certainly an approach I will use again and develop more over time. Along with the winter images I took of the snow storms in Porthleven earlier this year, this has been my favourite work to date.

I will release more about the project, such as a video (and possibly some kind of Podcast), as I am looking to shake this blog up in the coming months and shift its focus a little. More on that to come…

 

 

 

Micro Fun Thirds

A little while ago I bought a micro four thirds camera as a pocketable decent quality family camera and a daily carry around street camera. In the time that I have shot with this small sensor size, it’s been great fun. As we are into long days at the moment, and I have been ridiculously busy recently, I haven’t had time to try it in low light. However, my hunch is that full frame will still be considerably better come the winter nights. I will test this out later in the year, and probably run a comparison between the two formats. Night street photography is my favourite aspect of the whole process, so getting a set up with fast auto focus, portability and decent image quality is important to me. Currently, the Sony A9 is the major front runner in this regard for me.

Back to micro four thirds though. I wasn’t sure how I was going to take to the smaller sensor size, as I have been shooting primarily full-frame for the 5 or 6 years now. But, for street photography, it’s not been a problem. I actually prefer it over the APS-C format of the Fuji’s. They are small cameras but not in the same ball park as the Lumix GX9. It looks more like a compact camera than a system camera. I haven’t really noticed too much of a difference in image quality for the work I do.

Cornwall in the snow video

Here’s a video from the recent snowy weather that I experienced in Cornwall. Let’s just say video is very much a work in progress for me! I used Davinci Resolve to create the video. It’s very much a piece of software that I am still learning about.

I was a lot of fun both shooting the video and creating it in the software. Hopefully, I will post up some videos of the street photography that I have done as I have some footage from London that can be used to create a video. However, don’t expect anything anytime soon as I am very slow at this right now!

Is it the end of Leica (…for me)?

I have been using various Leica M cameras for the last 7 or so years, and until recently it has been a system that I have really enjoyed.

However, limited time to process and scan film has led me to shoot digital more and more. I still ultimately prefer the look of film, but mostly so when it is either in medium of large format sizes.

When it comes to 35mm, I have found that since I picked up an old Nikon F3, I have actually preferred it to using a Leica. It is much easier to focus and I actually prefer the look of the images with the Nikon 50mm 1.4 Ai lens attached. Yes, it’s massively flawed compared to a 50mm Summilux-M ASPH. However, those flaws give the lens a lot of character. It’s also really sharp once you stop it down to F2.8 – F4. The Bokeh with the Nikon lens is also incredible.

Then there is the case of mirrorless, specifically Fuji and Sony. I have picked up a mirrorless system in the last 6 months or so. I resisted it for a long time, as I thought (!) I preferred optical systems. However, the ability to see a scene through an EVF in black and white was a total game changer for me. My main interest in photography is shooting in black and white. I also love to shoot in colour, but’s that easy in some respects. I find having to ‘convert’ a scene into black and white in my mind a pain – actually seeing it in monochrome to start with makes the whole process much more enjoyable and rapid. With street photography seeing and shooting quickly is the name of the game a lot of the time, as once a moment has gone, well it has gone!

Then, at least with the Fujifilm cameras, there is the user experience. They are fantastic and fun cameras to use. The Sony is not quite in the same league in user experience, but the incredible AF system combined with a wide angle lens for street photography, is another game changer for me.

With a Leica, I find that my photos are more distant and ‘classic’ in a Cartier-Bresson sense. With the Sony in particular the silent shutter and rapid AF with reliable face / eye detection, it means that I can get a lot closer. The images are more dynamic and ‘modern’. It’s also a lot more fun to shoot in this way, as the whole process feels more emotive and engaging. I know that I can put a wide angle on a Leica and get a similar experience, but on so many levels for me now, it just isn’t working for me anymore.

I also feel that my photography is changing, in the next couple of years I should see more time on the horizon to do things that have been very difficult now – more family time, more travel, less work! My interest in street photography remains strong, but I needed to mix up my approach and make it more dynamic to keep my interest. I feel that this has started to happen. I am going to keep that area now to digital. I will be keeping film ticking along, but this will mainly sit within medium and large formats for either specific projects or family portraiture.

I also want to do more video work. I am terrible at it at the moment. With having a young family, it makes me wants to capture their experiences on video. One of the things that I never had in my childhood was video or audio-recordings of me, just a few photographs (my parents weren’t big on creating imagery!). I am looking to buy a gimbal to stabilise the camera and create some nice smooth images. I would also like to shoot more videos, incorporating time-lapse, astro-photography, drones, hand held, etc. These would be similar to the sort of videos made by others I have been periodically posting up on this blog over the last couple of years.

So, I feel that it’s time to part ways with what’s left of my Leica equipment (much of it has gone to fund my mirrorless revolution). In some ways, I will be sad to let it go. However, I don’t like having cameras sitting around in storage not being used. I like to have cameras that I use at least on a semi-regular basis. The only exception to this is my Ebony 5×4, as the man who made them has retired and you can’t get them new anymore. Change is good, particularly when you feel that it is in a new and exciting direction! 🙂

Free eBooks

I have set up a new page, entertainingly called ‘eBooks‘, with the free PDF books of some of my work. There are a couple of books on the page at the moment, with some more to be added soon.

The eBook ‘Red is the colour’ will be the project I have done this month focusing on the colour red.

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Brighton

 

Shaking things up

Getting out of a photographic rut is quite difficult. When I shot Cinestill film back in February for a project, I was hoping to stretch my style out so that it involved more elements in the frame. My main approach was to position people predominantly in a ‘rule of thirds’ framework. My inspiration for this idea was the work of Alex Webb. I didn’t quite work.

However, I think the idea of freshening things up is a good one. When I look back at my work, I always notice that certain types of shots are dominant in my repertoire. I usually call them ‘environmental portraits’ as they often set the people in the context of their environment backdrop. This is often a reflection of how I think.

1g1a1976However, I do really like those (relatively) rare occasions in which I get up close and personal in my photography. The shots are much more intimate, involved, dynamic and intense. In the next few months, I might stick a wide angle lens on a camera and shoot specifically with this idea in mind as a ‘one project’.

img077One of the reasons I have started to set myself challenges in the form of the ‘one project’ each month, is that I want to stretch myself more creatively. This month, my interest is in trying to shoot objects that mark the presence of people in some way. I am getting more interested in vernacular photography, but I think there is a fine line between “that’s a great shot” and “who cares, that’s boring” responses to the images for me. I suspect my work this month will be the latter!

Ultimately, I would like to find ways to get out of my current creative rut to develop new ways of expressing myself photographically.

Boscombe Pier

I went down to Bournemouth tonight and took a few shots of the pier. These are a few of the digital images. I also took some on the large format camera, but they will take quite a lot longer to see!