We live in a world of impatience. Looking for the next product, the next upgrade, the next improvement on something we own already. We also live in a world where we are never satisfied.
How has this come about?
Today we see countless adverts for the latest and greatest product. No sooner than we have bought a product with a few months there is another which ‘we are told” is better than the previous version. Be that a camera, TV, bike, car, hairdryer or even a Government! Before I go any further let me say that I’m only too aware of the insatiable desire to have the latest and greatest product of any of the above. But do we really need that latest product? If I can I’d like to narrow this down to my interests; those being photography, cycling and politics.
Lets take a look.
In photography we have come a very long way in a short period of time from the 35mm film SLR camera to the latest Digital mirrorless camera. Some will argue that the new cameras are no better than the older; others will argue they are and in the long run cheaper to use considering the cost of film and processing. But not necessarily making us a better photographers! – And that is the ‘cusp’ of it. Upgraded versions of cameras will not make you any better as a photographer. Neither will buying more lenses. It might be considered it makes your job easier but not better! All that considered even the latest mobile phone camera can create some stunning images in the right hands! Its not the camera thats makes you a better photographer – Practice and your desire to be better would though. Put any camera in the hands of a professional and he/she will produce stunning work!
When we consider cycling and bikes (my latest endeavours to get fit) the considerations are slightly different but still bare the same comparisons. Buy a better (more expensive) bike and you’ll go faster. Well you will if you peddle harder! The latest bike is lighter – very true – than the older ones (purely down to improved machining and materials). “Upgrade to a Carbon bike!” “An improved gear set up and wheels will make the ride smoother, and will improve your cycling”! No it wont! It might make it easier to go up hills and allow you to cycle further, but it wont ‘improve’ your cycling these are all great sales talk but consider this… Yes a lighter bike will help, but the more you cycle the fitter you get you will lose more weight and the better you ‘will’ become! Um that’s practice! Thats not down to the bike… For us mere mortals we cannot be sucked into the belief that a more expensive bike is going to improve our cycling! That said those looking to be a professional rider are in a different league and would need to compete on equipment of the same standard.
Now Politics! Yes that conundrum. We get bored with it don’t we? A manifesto is never carried out; the MP’s lie and Prime Minister’s dont know what they are doing. Heard it all before? Where’s the money coming from? Whose ‘gonna’ pay? Tax the rich give to the Poor; For the many not the few! I’m not going to start on the unions they all have their own alternative initiative; usually to bring a government down. I find it amazing that so many people (MPs included) can read from the same book of facts, reports and figures yet come up with such a different story. Pure impatience!
Take the Brexit ‘situation’! Everyone shouting from the hill tops that the process is too slow; the government have no plan and for some, suggesting that we should go back to the old days and return to the EU.
Well the that’s what the EU would like by stonewall tactics of delay to confuse us, the population of the UK, and also to protect the EU from further divorces and the proposed plan of a Federal State working as one under one roof. Let me add here – The plan is clear. The Eu want to create a closer working unity with all states adopting the Euro as a currency, free movement of people and free trade.
OK… For that to happen and really, I mean REALLY work means the following: One currency; One Economy; One Government! Country parliaments will operate simply as councils as we know it! And that will never work and here’s the reason why.
You cannot pay the same salary to the bread maker in Naples that you do in Paris! You cannot pay the same salary to a car worker in Stuttgart that you do in Spain! You cannot expect the fisherman from north and west coasts of Europe as those from the south costal regions and islands. Why? Because their living costs and standards are so varied and different. And “Finally” you cannot and will never see a common ground that all the trade unions throughout Europe would work together; They all have there own (un)written agenda’s! For me that is the problem with the EU concept – It simply wont work especially when so many countries owe so much money within the EU that effectively is shored up by a very aggressive central bank in the Bundesbank. Time will fall when enough is enough and the support will stop and the EU will crumble, topple and cause a major financial and economic fall out, something akin to the depression after the great 1929 stock market CRASH. The UK can stop this ‘folly’ by showing the way to other countries to expand their trade interests outside of Europe.
We continue to always look for something better, that the grass is always greener on the other-side. And the political farce that we are experiencing in Europe doesn’t help… Why are we like this? Could it be this impatience is the result of consumer behaviour? As new products are now cheaper, we have become a throw away society if a product doesn’t work; get an easy divorce from a loved one because we don’t see eye to eye anymore; we can even change our mind on the way our country is run or on a vote that we made. Or, is it that we are just suckers for adverts and eager clever salesmanship of the next best thing!
It can’t just be down to the advertisement or salesman! Can it? Where should we apportion the blame then? A little long shot I know but consider this. Maybe it’s the high street retailers that have inadvertently caused this, by making it easier for us to return a product, if we are not satisfied, or it’s the wrong colour in the light of day!
Could it just be the simple retailer that has caused this endemic attitude of impatience!
Its been sometime hasn’t it, since I last posted a blog.
Why, do you ask? Well I lost my ‘mojo’ for photography. It just seemed to drift away from me. So much going on the UK, not too mention Brexit, then a UK election, more terrorist activity and the constant rather boring “get this camera, get that camera” shows on You Tube and blogs, to improve your photography. Well you all know where I stand on the political issues, if you have been reading my tweets on @streetwisetimes and as for the camera scenario well I still think its the eye (your eye) that makes the photograph NOT the camera whether you use a Leica (if you can afford their ridiculous price tags) a Canon, a Nikon or my chosen brand the Fuji system. Even Fuji despite their belief in “Kaizen” and regular upgrades have fallen foul of the race to improve the camera for better imagery.
I’ve recently taken up cycling mainly to get me fit and to lose some weight rather than sitting on my ass editing photos and watching the TV. Whilst out on the road its given me time to think about photography and other issues. Its amazing what you can do and come to terms with whilst riding a bike.
Although I continued to take photos nothing really came out of the camera that was worth shouting about.
Maybe I was getting too critical of my work. Not a bad thing to do really, to my mind that shows you have learnt from past experiences and looking for something maybe different than last time. That “Wow” factor if you get my meaning. Photography is all about getting out there to improve on your last performances thats the ay the pros look at it you can continue to take the same thing all the time – to my mind you just get stuck in a rut. Thats not to say that if you are a ‘pro’ you probably have to maintain the standard and style which have become known for; especially the wedding and portrait photographer. But if you study the freelance photographer they are always looking to do better than last time.and the Camera doesn’t do that for you. You have to com to terms with what you have done and want to do in the future and that must e to improve.
Photography is not an exact science. So its imperative that you go out with a fresh mind to try something new and different. That was my problem I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t see the new idea. So the camera stayed in the bag for the majority of the time and the bike became my best friend and still is (to be honest).
Only though, just recently after having an opportunity to go out and about with some good friends talking about photography showing some tips to them, have I found my interest in making photographs coming back to me. Especially just this last weekend, when my wife and I visited Hastings on the coast of East Sussex.
Hastings I’m sure is going through a major overhaul with what appears to be an investment of money and improvements to the seafront. When I last visited there, it was an old, tired south coast seafront town which frankly looked to me as if it was due to die at any moment. But not now. The old pier which burnt down a few years back has been redesigned and built again and with a recent award for its design seems to of given Hastings that leg up it need to build on itself again. What an amazing design the pier is. I hope it remains that way. The weather was superb which always counts for something but the atmosphere was really upbeat with the lanes, shops, restaurants and cafes all seem to be doing good business. Not too mention the market celebrating their Herring festival. It truly was marvellous to experience it all.
Taking photos as we walked around the town, got the juices flowing both with my Fuji X-Pro1 and Xf35mm 1.4 lens (Probably my favoured set up now) and also with my iPhone 7 using the Hipstamatic app : All the images shown here are using the Janes Lens and Ina’s 1982 lens filter.
One thing I have learned during this rather long sabbatical from photography is not to push it. If the photography eye is not with you don’t force the issue to try and make it work. Photography will come back to you but remember thats not by buying a new camera or lens you have the equipment, stick to what you know. Wait for that moment to come back to you. Look to improve from your last foray out with your camera. Don’t take the same old ‘stuff’ cos’ it’s a trusted and known path for you. Get out of your comfort zone, learn from past mistakes and bad photos, be hard on yourself, think of what you have taken and what you might like to take. I’ll say that again – Be ‘really’ hard on your self.
But above all, rather than ‘plod’ your way through continued photo’ trials, in the hope that something will turn up:
It’s good to take a break!
This is not your usual photographic post but I feel with all the political turmoil out there in this country I feel propelled to put my views to this blog.
What went wrong?
Before I go any further and maybe your time to to turn to another blog, I am an unashamedly Conservative voter – Always have been and always will be! Also I voted to Remain in the EU – more about that later.
So who to blame? I suppose you could look at David Cameron the Prime Minister of the time that called the EU Referendum – Remain or Leave the simple question. Well we all know that 52% voted to leave. Why? I think the main reason is that the leaver campaign (The Brexiteers) latched on to the immigration ticket in a huge way and bolted on the belief that The UK was a strong enough country to go it alone and build, trade deals around the world control, develop our own laws, keep our sovereignty and currency without having the bureaucracy of the EU telling us to do something different or even pay more. The ‘Remainers’ and quite honestly in my opinion at the time sensibly thought, yes it costs money but it is a fantastic trade association to belong to. London as the central financial city of Europe was ideally suited to serve the EU and of course the UK. Plus, industry in the Midlands was thriving. The complaint almost by everyone was who to believe, where are the facts people were saying no-one is telling the truth. Well the facts were there but people didn’t ready the right publications for the truth rather to stick with newspaper hype and campaigners views. In my opinion this EU ref. became a sort of no confidence vote in our Prime minister David Cameron and to be honest he should of stayed away from the debate as in the event of losing there was no where else to go for David and family, but pack the cases and leave No. 10! In my opinion if he had stayed out of the argument he would of been able to keep the PM job thus saving us all from an early election (back to that later) and steer the country through a Brexit negotiation.
So the Referendum is done a new Prime Minister elected by the Tory party and ‘Brexit is Brexit’ (honouring the peoples choice) we are told! Or so it seemed. Mayhem ensued as the ‘Remainers’ maneuvered, to dismantle the referendum and call it into question. Court cases were opened up as the Government were questioned over their right to call Article 50 without debate in Parliament! All this did was delay the calling of Article 50, as our new Prime Minister Theresa May grappled to control yet again the in-fighting of the Conservative party and fend off the Lib-Dems (and their total disregard for the peoples choice) plus having the SNP trying to put a spanner in the works by trying to create a negotiation platform for themselves to remain in the EU! What a mess! And the EU started to berate us as we showed no real cohesion. The EU member states at this point seemed to change tack and become very arrogant and showed clearly to me that they were going to make an example of the UK, for fear that other states would decide to leave as well. Plus we would have to consider paying a penalty if we wanted to leave!
Time for the UK to stand their ground and for me to change my opinion! Fed up with EU arrogance and the belief that the UK people had made their decision whether it was 52 51 or 50.5 % they had spoken and they wanted to leave the arrogant control of the United States of Europe. Remember one thing at this point – and it is worth noting – of the UK’s commitment to the Europe in both world wars, we as a nation (admittedly with some help from our cousins over the pond) came to the saviour of our continent. So many countries didn’t want to or have the expertise to fight against a tyrannical country. Small thanks now as we as a country have decided in our best interests to go it alone. Frankly the EU is run by a lot of Presidents, Chairman’s and committees, that only have their own interest to heart. I’m happy that we are leaving now.
And so back home with all the wrangling’s of what to do and how to do it, Theresa May stuns us all and announces ‘as she wants a clear mandate’ a snap election! WOW! Well with 49% to 29% Poll, in favour of Conservative over Labour who wouldn’t. Now I don’t think this was to create a major landslide of Tory seats as we have seen this before with a Thatcher government, a seat majority of over 100 becomes overkill and un-democratic
almost ‘Steam roller’ like, so a 30-40 seat majority would of been ideal. Also a fact which many had decided to ignore is that as the Brexit negotiations are set to finalise in 2019 its the same year as a general election would have to be called! Potentially a major stumbling block with a small majority as continued Tory in-fighting and opposition objections would be at a height. It could of created a major issue to finalising any possible agreements – So I think it made sense.
What the Tory party didn’t count on was a resurgent country wide left wing attitude – especially the young – always rebels at that age! – and a man that had been campaigner all his life – Yes Jeremy Corbyn (The Pied Piper)… Hated by his fellow MPs and some union leaders on the basis that it would all end in doom and gloom for the Labour party at this election. We even had calls for a snap labour leadership contest. No The Pied Piper stayed true to his word and work and went to the streets. From that moment it all started to unravel. Theresa May made the mistake of not entering into open debate on the TV. Theresa that was your front door to the people! Instead you left it to your Home Secretary to hold the candle for you. She did a good job but you would of wiped the floor with all of the others.
Slowly but surely the promises that The Pied Piper offered to the country gradually caught on. The final ‘coup de gras’ was to offer the students free tuition – Umm in 5 years time, I think the students missed that bit! Labours manifesto ‘all accounted for’ they said. Yes it was but where was the money coming from – Increased income tax set just above MP’s salary(!), Pensioners, savers and invested funds and dividend income payouts… Capital Gains Tax to you and me! Mmm Plus more borrowing it was obvious. The Pied Piper and his band had created a ‘new’ Money Tree – problem was their policy of ‘hope’ was – Hope we can find that tree. ‘For the many not the few!’ they stated – A stolen and twisted slogan from WW2 Winston Churchill,
“Never have the many been so thankful to the few” after the Battle of Britain – Yet another example of Britain standing up for Europe! Even though the Tory party announced a very strange Social Care (potential) Policy in their manifesto, which was largely misunderstood, the writing was on the wall that the Tories might not get that majority they wanted. No, Theresa May’s failing to stand up to The Pied Piper (Corbyn – incase you have forgotten) in open debate was her failing. Why she did that I just don’t understand, she has the beating of him, even now, every time in parliament with sensible argument.
So the small majority was lost and now we have a minority government which has just signed up to a working relationship with the DUP. That’s not really a problem as the DUP generally vote along with the Tories in any case. What we are seeing now unbelievably is a case of the Labour Party thinking they are a government in waiting! – Umm no 44 -40% is a loss 318-262 is a loss for the Labour Party who came a distant second. And if you think about it Theresa May has her mandate… More people voted for her leadership than The “RED” Pied Piper. Better the Labour party to prepare for decent opposition. Me thinks! Over the coming months we will see more posturing, photo opportunities, increased social media activity campaigning and using events to propel the Labour party in our faces. More promises that cannot be kept and living in HOPE that they will somehow turn it round. Meanwhile Theresa May and the government can now concentrate on the Brexit negotiations and stand firm against EU arrogance. Of course there are other issues that we have to come to terms with and to get the answers to ie Terrorism and the tragedy at Grenfell Towers. Thats not to mention that there will be other situations that arise in the coming months.
But I’ll say this… The Pied Pier and his Labour party threw everything but the kitchen sink at the last election. They have nothing more to offer the next time round. The Labour Party live in a cloud cuckoo land of ‘Hope’ and will continue to look for that money tree! For the Tories next time round they will have the answers and hopefully Theresa May will step up to the plate and will enter into the open debates, using the TV as the front door to the population.
A little note to the students. We all as young people go through a stage of open rebellion – it is understandable. Today’s youth will not be familiar with the images of Communist countries and empty shelves in the supermarkets – I’m not saying that would happen in our democratic country, but the history of The Pied Piper and his close Marxist followers in the Labour Party want to create a society that has been proven not to work. You cannot borrow to invest you cannot create jobs for all and somewhere down the line we all have to learn to live with in our means. There is no money tree. People have to pay for want they want and that includes tuition fees at the universities and colleges, otherwise where do the Uni’s and colleges get their money from. If the fees were to be curtailed you could see some Uni’s and colleges closing down! Right now thats not what we need. Maybe though there is room to change the way student fees are paid.
But one thing for sure in my opinion is I think that the Labour party have had their day and the Conservative party will have the right approach next time. For now its let get the Brexit negotiations done by holding firm and yes if it means walking out the door and leave the Arrogant EU states to fend for themselves then lets do it.
Finally, do not be swayed by unaccountable promises that will be thrown at you over the next few years. Labour’s manifesto did not add up (it was accountable but not factually secure on where the money would come from). Labour will say what you want to hear and not what realistically can be achieved. They will drop the defence of our country (Trident and the armed forces), like a ‘red hot poker’ in the belief that they have the nouse to negotiate. (That includes despots and terrorist groups). I really don’t think so in this day and age!
The saying is that ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’. I can assure you from where I stand it is not and you can’t have your cake and eat it!
The Pied Piper will lead you all down to the river of No Hope!
It’s great to think that we as photographers could get our work published. Many photographers have done so not really to make a great deal of money from it – some do admittedly – but usually the books are to promote the sale of prints or as a record of an exhibition. Other styles of photo books exist that are produced as tutorials – the how to do it book! – where the photographer uses their own images to demonstrate how to improve your photography and create your own style. But this all costs money. The well known will get commissioned by book publishers especially if they are represented by a well know gallery.
You can of course go it alone with a start up project – like Kickstarter. This is not as simple as it sounds you will have to source basically everything not only collate your prints, arrange and buy the correct paper, set the cover style of the book (soft cover, hard back or ring bind) to be stitched or perfect bound! Plus finding the right printer for the job. Can they offer the complete service who will do the print production from print to collate binding and to what COST to you? You can see how this all builds up and becomes a very intense pressured venture for you.
Yes you might get the finance with a little profit built in for your hard work, but if one small cog of this machinery that you have created slips out of synch, you will have a major problem on your hands, not only to correct the problem, whatever that may be (poor printing, an error in text, even the wrong paper) but also unsatisfied customers who have basically invested in your project asking where their copy of the book is! Slightly embarrassing for you if it ‘goes pear shape”!
So here’s my idea for you to consider by creating the whole book as a .pdf an E-zine and use a site to promote it for you. You can offer these out either as a paid for item or for free. Recently I have created a number using Lightroom and saving the book as a .pdf and have published them on Issuu.com
Issuu is a great site as there are literally loads of books and well known magazines as well for you to view that you can save for later viewing. It is a great source especially for photographers. Here’s a link to my E-zines that I have created – Appassionato series by Griffo.
In all cases I have kept them simple. Not getting into specifics, but I’ve kept text at a minimum and have not trouble myself too much about collating the images. E-zines of a maximum of 40 images seem to be the best option. You can create through Lightroom single or double page spreads in any number of image configurations. Plus if you find the book is of interest to someone (maybe you want to gift one), go back into Lightroom change the specifics and get it printed by Blurb.com as a one off.
So simple to create and then once completed look to advertise the E-zine out on your social network, your blogs and/or your website. Mine are here… Photography Live and Uncut.
Enjoy – Publish and share your work!
In my last blog I wrote about ‘hitting the wall’ in photographic terms on my last walkabout in London. I came to the conclusion it was probably down to the fact of walking the same streets many times and also as pointed out by Valerie Jardin that I’m starting to get very critical of my own work. (Apparently as you improve your photography this is what will happen). Well shortly after the blog was published I received many comments of support and suggestions of what to do and in the main not to worry too much! But one of the suggestions was to get out of your mode? This got me thinking… Initially, I thought this was a suggestion of changing from Aperture priority to Shutter or even move to Manual settings… No, what he meant was change the ‘genre’ from my usual photography. In other words switch from street to landscape for instance.
So I did…
For those that read my blogs regularly will know, a couple of years ago I had my Fuji X-E1 converted to Infrared with a 720Nm filter and it was this camera that I turned to, to break this ‘block’. Not that it takes a better image (far from it, the X-E1 and X-Pro1 in terms of image quality are on a par), but what it gave me was the opportunity to look at potential images in a different way. So much so that I have continued to use it now for the past few weeks. The first opportunity came when I decided to take a country walk with my wife Jane around Lullingstone Park, Kent. The walk took us along a river/stream footpath. Using the X-E1, I chose to shoot in Raw and Fine mode (with the .jpg file set to Mono Red) with the excellent Fujinon Xf18-55mm f2.8-4 lens. (Nb. the 35mm or 16mm f1.4’s are better suited lenses).
This set up covers all potential needs for me. Looking to create images that emphasise the lightness of the green foliage and the dark tree trunks and branches. The day was a little overcast so there wasn’t really the chance to get the light streaming through the canopy of leafage. One thing you will find when converting a camera to IR is the annoying purple ‘blob’ that appears with some lenses – especially zooms – in the middle of the screen. This is caused by light reflection in the lens and can only be negated by some very careful editing in Lightroom or keeping to the wide end of your aperture. ie f2.8 to 4. As my xf18-55mm has a variable aperture of this range I can just about get a way with it. But if it does occur, with a little experience you can remove this ‘blob’ in Lightroom quite easily. (Example of the purple spot, shown below)
Switching to the B+W in the development mode of Lightroom allows you to play with the Red and Orange sliders to emphasise that IR look. One final trick is that a ‘film’ IR photo would lack focus and sharpness… The way to replicate that is to reduce the clarity (sometimes to 80%) if you are looking for that effect and also add some heavy grain. One photographer of note that specialised in ‘film’ IR photography was Sir Simon Marsden you will see from his fascinating work how his ‘film’ images – not digital – would be heavy in grain, lacking in focus and sharpness, but due to his photography skill, just amazing composition, bringing a real atmosphere to all of the images. He himself was keenly interested in ghosts and the belief of a second world living in parallel to us. Thus his work concentrated on haunted houses, castles, graveyards and old relics. Just beautiful work.
This is something that I’m looking to develop. There seems to be a trend at this time to use the colours of the infrared scale to produce fine-art work. So, we are seeing blue buildings, red or orange skies and strange coloured foliage and seas. Each to there own but in my opinion Infrared photography is shown best in Mono, with light/white foliage and black and fluffy white clouded skies, with at times a lack of sharpness and focus!
So, this has been my way out of the block! Turning away from my passion of ‘street’ to Infrared photography using my Fuji X-E1. I think it is important to note that every photographer will go through this stage, when they are lost for what to take and that their innovativeness and observations escape them. It maybe a case that he/she is more critical of their own work, when once that photo taken would have been considered good enough to post to social media or print. We all move on with experience and knowledge of photography. We know what we like to see and view and at the same time we have a good idea of what will be appreciated by the ‘millions’ (haha I/we wish!) that view our work.
Until next time.
Warning! This is not the normal 5 photo blog… (There’s more images!)
This last Sunday (30th April) I joined a London walkabout with Michael Rammell of ‘Ready Steady Pro’ on Facebook. We met at the Department of Coffee and Social affairs, Carnaby Street when the route was set, through China Town, Leicester Square and Covent Garden with the intention to finish on the Southbank. We started out shortly after 1.00pm moving along Carnaby Street where a number of Vespa and Lambretta riders had parked their scooters up. All the riders were great characters talking of the good old days in the sixties, when Carnaby Street was the place to be seen in London, especially if you were a Mod!
So we all set off with great expectations of capturing some good street images and at the same time have a good old chat about photography, cameras and lenses, all that sort of typical subject matter that we photographers talk about when we get together! I had hired from Hireacamera.com a Fujifilm XF16mm f1.4 for this occasion. It’s a lens that I have been interested in for some time and felt that this walkabout would be an ideal time to test it out. I’d like to add at this point that to hire a lens is a superb way to test one out in the field rather than waste money and decide later. You can’t fully test a lens in the shop, out in the field is really the best way. I cant praise Hireacamera.com highly enough their service is second to one. Not withstanding the lens arrived by courier in a well protect ‘Pelli case’ but a courier is scheduled to collect the item at the end of the hired period. They offer a great back-up service and are really great people to talk to. Make a note for yourselves Hireacamera.com for cameras and lenses and at really decent rates of hire as well!
So on with the walk…. With so many characters around it was an ideal time to ask to take some portraits of these classic riders a great bunch of guys who were all only to willing to pose with their pride and joy. My Fuji X-pro1 and the XF16mm f1.4 worked hand in hand and gave me a real chance to get in close but allowing me to include the decorated scooters . It was at this stage I was thinking, could I make 100 portraits in a day? Further down the street – now on my own, and that always happens, I met a guy taking some shots of a window display he happily agreed to me making a portrait of him. Great start… So far so good! And then the wheel’s fell off – I got two flat “No’s” following that and I lost my confidence and so, the project was put to bed! Now I know a lot of you would say I should of kept on asking, after all in one of my earlier blogs I had said “enjoy the No the Yes will always follow!”… But I didn’t, mainly I suppose because I was concentrating on making sure I kept up with the group for the next stop over and of course chatting away with fellow walk-abouter’s! You know the usual subjects cameras, lenses the Arcanum, Facebook, Google+, You Tube shows, Social Media and all that!
It was at about this time I was also beginning to suffer from what I can only describe as a “photographers block” – What to shoot and what to take a photo of! I didn’t have a clue! It was really starting to get me down. I’ve heard of this before, especially writers who hit an unseen wall of no imagination or idea of what to write next. It was the same for me I just didn’t know what to take. I tried the old tested method, for me at any rate, by falling back onto my other projects (ie. Life at 1/15th sec), I also tried some zone focusing, standing in the middle of the street and just firing away looking for that ‘face in the crowd’! All of these ideas have generally worked and have got me back on the shooting trail. But ‘No’ it wasn’t going to work this time… I had really hit the wall!
We went through China town and I made the usual shots of the street and the restaurant windows the place was buzzing, with so many tourists around but, I still couldn’t find anything of note, that would get – shall we say – ‘the photography juices flowing again’. I just couldn’t see anything – Was it the lens – surely not?
Next stopover was Leicester Square, where I bumped into (not literally) my daughter Joanne; it was her first street walkabout and she was really enjoying the experience : She had taken some great shots as well and just with an iPhone! I could see she was getting the bug for street photography… Me, I was just lost!
On to Covent Garden where it was packed and no change there either, I was still searching for something to shoot, I was now beginning to think, was it a case of ‘over familiarity’ of the places and the route that we had taken? Carnaby Street through, Soho, China Town onto Leicester Square then to Covent Garden is probably one of my most often ‘trod’ routes, that I take in London for street shooting. It was at this stage that I came to the conclusion that that was probably the reason! An over familiarity thing! I wasn’t seeing anything new that caught my eye or attention. The weather had been a little overcast as well… So light and shadow? Nada nothing! And it was now threatening to rain well it did but for only about 5 minutes and enough for everyone to change the plan and retire to a nearby restaurant for a well earned ‘Burger’!
Attempts to revitalise myself with face in the crowd, motion blur, looking down and buskers’s
Images from Convent Garden.
At this stage of the blog I think it would be a good idea to talk about the Fuji XF16mm 1.4 lens. The quality of the build is first rate. It has a confusing focus ring which you pull in to allow manual focus and pull out for Auto focus. When I first got the lens I was a bit confused with that at first but this really is a minor point and as soon as you know its there, it is a simple practice to use if need be. Auto-focus even with an X-Pro1 was sufficiently quick (Yes I know the X-Pro2 is quicker still – but I don’t need that!). The aperture ring has sufficient tightness to not feel too loose that it could be easily moved with out knowing. Sharpness of the lens is superb : All the images in this blog are SOOC .jpgs using the ‘Velvia’ filter simulation (that’s the reason for the slightly rich and warmer tones in earlier images). So that leaves me with the 16mm angle – do I need that? Well this is where I’m not so sure. You see what Fujifilm did when they created the X system was to produce a superb (2nd to none) ‘kit’ lens – the Fujinon XF18-55 f2.8-4. It’s because of this lens, its quality and its aperture range, which many of the wide angle Fuji prime lenses (I find) have to compete with. If I were solely a prime lens user then the 16mm f1.4 would be a must have. But I’m not just yet. I still cling to that belief of lighter gear means a smaller bag – if at all – and fewer lenses! For me, can I sit on the fence and suggest ‘maybe’? One thing is for sure though I mustn’t let this walkabout be the decider on whether this quality lens is for me in the future. There are huge advantages having it; Obviously the slightly wider view, over the 18-55mm (by the way its almost the same size – a little wider in diameter), but it focuses closer and you can get some really good perspective on your shots. I’ll definitely hire again – I think the lenses deserves that at least.
So my over-riding thoughts of this walkabout? Let me set the record straight this was a fantastic well supported photo walk through London. It was well organised by Michael Rammell and I met some great people. We had some superb conversations and put the world to rights – well about photography anyway.
For me photographically well I have to be honest I’ve hit the proverbial ‘brick wall’! To criticise my photos ‘harshly’ and they need to be at this stage; They lacked inventiveness, imagination and most of all lacked observation. The route was not to blame, certainly not the company and it wasn’t the equipment either. No it was me…
So what to do? Crawl under a stone and hide?
Well I wont be that harsh on myself but what I will be doing over the next few walk-about’s either on my own or with friends, is to take a different direction… Shoot some architecture, some urban graffiti, definitely look for some new areas and routes, plus I’ll change the time that I go out to shoot -perhaps an evening shoot might get the photography juices flowing!
#photography #walkabout, #fuji, #16mm, #London, #CoventGarden, #leicestersquare, #chinatown
A social media lesson for group and community Hosts…
Reciprocity ˌrɛsɪˈprɒsɪti / noun…. The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. “the Community intends to start discussions on reciprocity with others…”
When I first came across social media, many guys in the ‘know’ were saying to get yourself noticed and followed was not only to share, but to follow, like others work and if you are really serious to comment on a post or blog. Also, join groups and communities to gain knowledge of your chosen genre and reciprocate!
So that’s what I set out to do… I searched round the social networks; 500px, Flickr, Ello, Google+, Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr and Instagram for my favourite photographers and bloggers. I clicked on the link to either join, follow, like, plussed and added them to circles (as in the case of Google+). I set up an account even on Twitter and did the same; I followed, I commented, I replied and I reTweeted. I joined other Facebook and Google+ groups, followed photographers pages and posted into their communities, (when I was allowed to) of my interest and photographs. Alas, much to my surprise, with VERY limited success. To be fair the only sites I have found to be close to some form of ‘regular’ response and reciprocity, has been on Ello and 500px.com.
Over the last few months this has got me really thinking… Why at the initial stages was it suggested to me and to the millions out there to checkout work, share and like (+), to get a reciprocation? Why is this? You’re encourage to do it but you get nothing back in return.
Until recently – it suddenly occurred to me!
I read an article that it was probably best to save your time on social networking and NOT join groups associated with a camera! ie. Nikon or Fuji Users… It would be better to share your work on like minded groups ie Street or Travel Photography. But as my photo shows here (right) what comes down (in) doesn’t always mean you’ll get something out of it. An appreciation of your work? A suitable comment… or Maybe a helpful comment! (critique) – that would be nice wouldn’t it? Come to think of it – it is quite noticeable how so many photographs are uploaded to the Facebook and Google+ groups/communities and Business pages that don’t get a comment even from the hosts!
So why is there this lack of interaction by the hosts of these groups, are they too busy? … Well not from what I see of the amount of posts they make – sometimes 3, 4 or ‘god forbid’ 5 or 10 a day! No I know the reason why!
You see Social Networking is all about getting noticed… We all have that inner ‘want’ to be noticed and credited… That us (menials / amateur photographers) that have the need to post our work onto sites or groups in the hope that we’ll get some kind of feed back or recognition, from a member or even a HOST, to help us improve. After all you’re posting your work into a site / group / page / community for just that reason aren’t you? So naturally, your social network expands as you post, like or follow in the various groups you have chosen.. People will follow you as you join in, yet no real commitment from them, your just another one of the group. So, the HOST/photographer is he/she a great photographer if they have over 4k, 10k, 1m or 8m followers. NO… It’s just that people want to keep a check on what they are posting (and probably to try and copy the work!) and will like a post (making no comment) of a photo, even if that post is referring to a question!
So why? Why do we not get any feed back from the HOST after they suggested that we should like share and comment on others work and reciprocate. After all wasn’t that the reason to set the community up in the fist place? NO…
Life is all about SHARING they told us, share your work, share your comments share the ‘love’, make friends all over the world. And what happened. NOTHING ZILCHO… Just the odd like (+) from a member.
The reason?… I’ll tell you the reason. and this might hurt just a little…
Its because you are being fed a line. A line that reads ‘here’s the water come and drink’… Feed my community! and I’ll advertise to you, My show; My book; My magazine entry; My workshop/seminar; and of course My work! You join the group and your data/email has been recorded, and will be used in the future, you’re just another number on the list for the ‘Host’ to ADVERTISE their services to you – NOTHING MORE! You’re hooked ‘coz you don’t want to miss anything from these guys, well, you like their work – Don’t You? But, still you try posting your photo’s to get some recognition and some kind of feed back. Trust me, IT WONT WORK guys. The host has no interest in ‘your’ work only in his/her own activity to show what they can do, they can sell and what can be achieved if you join them on a workshop or some kind of You Tube ‘costly’ interactivity… It’s going on all over the networks now… Snap Chat, Facebook live, You Tube, all the blogs, and of course podcasts… etc etc.
Now all you hosts out there Im not going to name names but you know who you are! You know exactly where I’m coming from – it’s just that until now no one has ever thought of posting such content to tell you…
Page, Group and community ‘Hosts’ call it what you wish, are you still reading this? Well, if you are so intent on offering your services to others and you suggest to them to share, follow and comment, to build social networks how about YOU (as a host) doing the same. So many photographers I see posting their work on your pages and you don’t spare the time to even like the image; Don’t be so aloof of what you have created… Think of what you suggested at the beginning and after all probably the only reason you’re successful in social media networks is that you were one of the first to capitalise on it. It’s all for the production or selling of your work… Isn’t it? But one day it will come back and bite you when your fans drop away. Because you have shown no real interest in your followers/members work. So come on ‘Share’ – yes ‘Share’ your comment!
It doesn’t take much to do that or even a ‘like (+)’ on someones photograph… In actual fact I’d go a stage further, if you did make that effort, it might even expand your social network as people recognise you do care and there might not be the need for you to make 5 -10 posts a day to keep (what you think) your followers satisfied… Oh and one other thing show different work! Not the same type of image all the time. In street photography – a genre that has come under fire quite a lot recently for lack of style and imagination – I put it to you, yes you, the HOST could be the one spoiling it for many followers of social documenting photography. Too much of the same, be different experiment – and show it….
Above all if you (the host) are going to commit to tutoring, be it for social networking or for photography, ‘Practice what you Preach’ please. You want people to share and comment in your group? Then why don’t you do the same?
Finally my comment to the ‘FOLLOWER’ or rather ‘group member’… Don’t be a ‘lemmings’ just following for following sake, there are very few group leaders/hosts out there that really care about your work. Don’t follow so many groups – stick to a select few and if the host doesn’t show any response to members work and just continues to post his/her own and advertise the next event they’re involved with – Then Leave it – Search for another until you find a great group with interactivity, not only by members but by the HOST as well…
It all started like a good idea at the time. I was a Nikon nut. I had so much Nikon gear that when it was time to go out shooting whether at home, on business or holiday, I didn’t know what to choose – So I took literally everything! Nikon D50, D200, Nikon1 V1, 4 maybe 5 lenses Oh and an old F65 with film – well you do, don’t you(?) just in case! It was getting ridiculous – The bag weighed a ton or so it felt like and I never knew what camera or lens to use (should I use the 35, the 50, the 18-135 or the 70-300mm) as I said it was ‘Totally ridiculous’…
Then I had a eureka moment… Watching TWIP one day with Frederick van Johnson, they were talking about this new Fuji camera the x100! It was a game changer they were saying. Then TWiT Photo talked about the same camera with guest Zack Arias – ‘The DSLR is dead’ he was saying. This cannot be I thought. Surely this camera with a fixed lens cannot replace the DSLR… At about this time Fuji released two new cameras; the X-Pro1 and and the X-E1 both interchangeable lens cameras. This sounded really interesting and they looked so retro! (Something which I have a week spot for)… Aperture ring, shutter speed dial all to hand and a thread to take your cable – on the shutter release, Wow!
So it had to be checked out. Well the Pro1 was out of budget and the E1 with the 18-55mm was just a joy to handle. Focussing? Well I didn’t see a problem! – Fast enough for me… and that was it simply… All the Nikon gear went on eBay, all sold within 5 days, delivered, confirmed payments and the order was placed for the Fuji X-E1 with the Fujinon XF18-55 (f2.8-4).
One Camera One Lens was born! That’s all I need. The X-E1 suited me to a tee and Zack was right the DSLR was dead! Photography came back to me. Gone were the indecisions on equipment issues, not only what to take, but what to use! I didn’t even have to worry about a bag – I left that at home. Plain sailing from now on… I can now concentrate on my photography, composition, timing and looking for the story… Absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t put the camera down; Everywhere I went it was with me. No not quite as pocketable as the X100 but even so, light enough to carry rather than a Lowepro bag with all that ‘just in case” gear. The images were fantastic – Fuji had really found something special.. They were film like when printed. The performance of the camera was ‘tidy’ – No it wasn’t a super fast focusing camera, but it was enough for me, especially for my interest in photography for Street and Architectural work.
Then Fuji went and did it! They had to I suppose… Not only were they thinking of looking after their existing customers with their Kaizan approach offering regular firmware updates for all their cameras, but yes they went out and introduced newer versions – The X100s! Then The X-E2, with the X-T1 and X-T10 following very soon after that. I was like a rabbit in headlights confused is not the word… Should I upgrade? I checked the specs The X-E2 looked possible but wait a minute that X100s looks pretty interesting; Oh and that X-T10 does everything that the larger X-T1 does.
You see what camera firms do to you! Always bringing out something new that confuses you, tempts you to spend your money. They’re faster, more filter options, its got wi-fi, its got a flip screen, it’s got… Well what hasn’t it got was more to the point? And yes I fell into the trap the value of the X-T10 body only was too good to be true – and so I bought one. About 3 months before I had bought another lens the beautiful XF 35mm f1.4! (no that’s never going to be sold or traded in). So take a laugh on me two camera two lenses! and now of course a camera bag… Oh dear – just like the old days I’m getting a lot of gear now. But there was one thing that began to bug me now. The X-E1 is a rangefinder style the X-T10 is well SLR like and the amount of times I was bashing my eye as I switched from right to left eye to view through the viewfinder was becoming a pain – to say the least! For some reason (habit I suppose) using the X-T10 I switched to my left, thus banging my eye on the thumb grip! I had made an impulse purchase and had got it wrong. By the way I’d like to add the X-T10 is/was a great little camera, but I had taught my self to work with my right eye using the X-E1 and it had to go…
I really like that X100s and the new X100T had just been released – You see Fuji did it again! The ‘T’ version was better still than the ‘S’. It was raved about, the pros couldn’t say enough about it and how good it was! Fixed lens 23mm retro-style rangefinder.. Oh dear decision time again! But wait a minute, I was thinking I’ve still got my X-E1 it takes superb images, shouldn’t I be looking to upgrade that one instead. No that’s too obvious and they’re are some great used ‘S” versions out there and that would be an ideal camera to take to parties or outings where I could just put in my pocket! The X-T10 was sold and I found an X100s on Amazon and bought it! Impulse purchase again I hear you saying, yes true but the X100s is a classic in the Fuji stable.
The X100s is an absolute joy to use. Just like the X-E1 everything to hand; no need to use menus to find the aperture or shutter speed. It is just great for street photography as it so inconspicuous and no I’m not a ‘sneaky’ street photographer. The X100s in my opinion allows me to use the camera on the street without looking, dare I use the term, threatening!
I was beginning to feel sorry for my X-E1 (silly really – cameras don’t have feelings do they?) but about this time I came across some work by Simon Weir. I’d known Simon for some time we used to meet when I was regularly involved with London Nikon users group. He, I found out had also bought into Fuji (although still using his Nikon’s as well) and with one of his older Fuji’s (as it happened an X-E1) he had had it converted to Infrared with a 720Nm filter fitted by ACS. Now this really ‘peeked’ my interest as I have been a long time fan of Sir Simon Marsden. Sadly no longer with us Sir Simon is well know for his use of infrared film for his fantastic photographs of relics, cemeteries, haunted castles and houses. So I had the X-E1 converted too, with the same filter a 720Nm. Oh I had it covered now! A pure mono camera (my X-E1) that gave me the chance to replicate some infrared styled images and my X100s for the street. In passing I added the converters WCL and TCL to the X100s kit. So that was that… All sorted… A complete set no need for any other cameras or lenses all my bases covered. <Fuji X-E1 (with Ir720Nm), xf35mm f/1.4 and xf18-55 f/2.8-4 lens plus my X100s and the 23mm fixed lens with the WCL and TCL converters>.
But, Fuji weren’t satisfied were they and I think maybe some users weren’t either, even though I was. Yes Fuji announced an improved X-Pro and X-T version. The X-Pro2 and the X-T2 came to market with yet still more improvements (more filters including an Acros simulation!) to the cameras with that little bit extra – MORE pixels! – 24 inactual fact. The X-E2s and X-T20 were to follow shortly. But here was a real conundrum being thrown to would be Fuji buyers – More pixels and what was more the new X100F was being heavily rumoured. When will it all stop, I was asking myself. Well I know the answer to that one – it wont! But the pixel count was beginning to bother me. I checked this out and many reviewers were making comments. The X-Pro2 and X-T2 had lost something! Was it the increased number of pixels? Could be! One said and then another and another followed up with the same comment in their reviews. Too many pixels.
So, now do I upgrade? Sell the… Wait a minute I can’t. The X-E1 is well not worthless but converted for infrared and there wont be many takers. The X100s? I could upgrade to the ‘F’ but again do I need that new version? Probably not… (for the Acros filter? I could make a good attempt in editing in Lightroom). So I came to the conclusion no need to upgrade, those two. But taking a look on various You Tube and blogs all these guys were talking about the X-Pro1 and what great value they are… This made me think… I’d always liked the Pro1 16mp against 24mp… Mmmm and some guys are saying the 16mp is the better version.. Focusing issues again the Pro1 is not as fast as the Pro2, ( I now Ive tested that), but on the street have you heard of zone focusing! How much are the Pro1’s? Refurbished through Fuji UK £300!!! That’s a steal. I have some spare cash still from some other sold gear and I placed the order. Fuji Gear Complete! Except where am I? Back where I was before with the Nikon gear, less a few lenses..
Well time went by and I still have the decisions to make when going out what camera to take out and that beautiful compact perfect X100s, was staying at home more and more. My go to camera for the street walkabouts was the X-Pro1! My X100s? It had to go – I cant hang on to it for a ‘just in case’ moment. So, I went online to MPB.com and requested a quote for it. Two days later I got the quote back at a reasonable price, I don’t have to worry about watching eBay bids and delivery costs plus the awful commission rates. Deal done and I signed it off. What I get for the X100s goes toward the Epson P600 printer! No more, cameras and lenses, I can’t see the point to upgrade – well for now anyways! The printer? Well I’ve always enjoyed printing my work and there is nothing better than to have the physical print in your hand, not lost on your hard drive – somewhere!
The lesson I’ve learnt, as many photographers have done so as well, it truly isn’t the camera that improves your photography – it’s your eye and practice. More equipment doesn’t improve your photography either, it just improves your back and shoulder pain! Yes have equipment for specific jobs but not to the extent that you haven’t got a clue what to take out with you. Don’t buy the big bag for the ‘just in case’ moment – by the way that moment, it never arrives.
When I originally sold all my Nikon gear and bought onto Fuji, I was so delighted with the resulting images that I started a blog “One Camera One Lens“. That blog has gone a little quiet recently as I have ‘veered’ away from that ‘thesis’. Whilst I’m not back to that in terms of equipment I am at a point now that ‘I Know’ what I’m going to take out when I do go image hunting and what’s more – I leave my camera bag at home!
Until next time…