Bank Holiday

…comes 6 times a year.

Then its back to work – A! G! A I N!! 🙂

Have a good one today, British friends. We have two this month, so if today rains out (and it likely will) theres always another….

I think I’ll head over to Camden today. Theres always something happening whatever its like outside. Last May Day, I went to Brighton, that was cool too….and hot that day as well. Perfect for eating chips on the pier…

20160806-DSCF0498

(X-Pro 2 + 23mm 1.4)

Whatever you do today, have fun and be creative…. If you’re not at work, there is no reason not to be.

More soon, I know I’ve neglected you recently… 🙂

As ever, check out my Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/capitalfaces/

(Camden shots up later)

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

The ‘less than perfect'(apparently) xf18mm…

Minor pimp Xpro 1

I’ve always stuck up for the xf18. It is commonly referred to as the weak link in the really strong XF cannon of Fujinon lenses, and while I do not want to start a war with anyone (least of all a troll) I do happen to think much of what is written is…well…bollocks.

I confess, I’ve never seen a bench test on it (does one even exist?) but I’ve read the reviews like many of you have. I can honestly say, my experience of this lens is the polar opposite of many of these reviews and this isn’t the first time this has happened. Similar comments have been written about the xf60mm too, and I swear that lens is the sharpest glass I have EVER owned. I use it more than the xf56 (in fact, I’ve been thinking about parting with that lens) as it now focuses pretty well on the newer bodies – I have an X-Pro 2 – and I prefer the bokeh it produces.

Ken ‘The Angry Photographer’ Wheeler has often slagged this lens off. He claims to be an expert, but I’ve never actually seen any of the tests he claims to have undertaken, just heard the hyperbole. In fairness, he is correct on some things (the xf16, for example…that lens will bring you to tears) but its so hard to tell where he’s coming from as he’s an utterly awful photographer. Sadly. You can add credence and gravitas to a review if you can actually use the tools you are reviewing. I wouldn’t take a vegetarians advice on buying sausages…you know?

Kai Man Wong, as another example, rates the xf18 highly…higher than the xf35 AND the xf60 – and say what you like about ‘Wongy’…the kid knows his onions. He’s used enough gear over the years to make a more informed conclusion than Mr Wheeler, who is pretty much Nikon and Fuji only.

Anyway, none of that bothers me. I use this glass more often than they do 🙂 ….

The xf18 was the second lens I bought for my X-Pro 1. I think I got it in late 2012, and I liked it right off the bat. Not just for its results, but it was the only XF prime lens, for YEARS, that one could describe as snappy (for a Fujinon, I always had to add that). Only once the xf18-55 came out did focussing speed noticeably improve. The purchase also coincided with my burgeoning enthusiasm for ‘street’ photography, something I had been struggling a little bit with, with my first lens, the xf35. Whacking on the 18 gave me a lot more speed to react to the ever changing views and challenges of street photography (I only use hyperfocal settings on manual focus/ legacy glass) and therefore I was satisfied with the increased amount of ‘keepers’ I was getting. This improved all the more when I added an XE-2 to my Fuji set-up, which had vastly improved AF speed over the old X-Pro. In addition, the almost ‘pancake’ design of the 18 bolted on so well to the smaller XE-2 that it made a perfect ‘daily’ camera – a rig I carried to and from work for the best part of 18 months. It still missed, plenty of times, but I was far more confident of getting the shot than I EVER was with the X-Pro 1. The shame is, however, is the original X-trans (version 1)  sensor, found in the X-Pro 1 is still, to me, the best sensor Fujifilm have ever made. Even more so than the X-trans III that we have now. Its still the ‘less digital’ looking of all iterations of X-Trans. Anyway, I digress..thats not important right now…

These are some of the first images I took with it. From recollection, they’re all Jpegs.

cambridge4

cambridge8

bm13

And a few more with the XE-2.

Happy Wednesday

latest tech

untitled (13 of 26)

So where was I…or, more appropriately, where AM I, kit wise? Well, the xf23 F1.4 and Samy 12 are my top two street choices. Thats well documented and the reasons are written elsewhere on this site. But, for similar reasons for using my xf35 a few weeks ago in Malta, I wanted to dig out the 18 again to give it a decent run out with the X-Pro 2. For old times sake, perhaps, but I also thought it would be interesting to see if this lens is still as snappy on the newer bodies.

On a glorious Spring day in late March (today, as it happened 🙂 ), I ventured into town for yet ANOTHER march. I’ve done a lot of marches/protests during the last couple of years. Yes, they are great for photo opportunities, but more importantly – MUCH more importantly – I need, and WE need,  to document what I believe to be defining moments in the history of my home country. My American friends are going through similar histrionics with the utterly incredible, unaccountably crazy Trump administration. For the record, I am pro Europe. I am pro refugee and NHS. I am pro fairness and empathy. Therefore, it is safe to assume I am anti-Trump. Not sorry.

But yeah, great photo opps….

20170325-DSCF4927

20170325-DSCF4928

20170325-DSCF4965

I’m not technical. You may have guessed that already. But there is absolutely nothing wrong, technically, (you can criticise them compositionally all you want, thats totally cool) with the xf18. From that first session in Cambridge above (shooting Jpeg only in those days! Wow…) through to the XE2 and again this very day, I still cant see WHAT they’re talking about.

If you’re and X-Pro 1 / XE-1 user, you really need to get this lens. Its pretty cheap to buy used, it’ll focus faster than what you’re used to and has decent close focussing as well. In fact, its a great macro lens if you use the extension tubes….I think you can get 1:1. Like most wide lenses, there is a noticeable loss in IQ in the corners (yeah, a shocker. not.) but for street you really don’t notice. There is, as far as I can tell, little in the way of vignetting. What you see here is what I put there in post. This lens is otherwise really sharp, even at F2, at which most of these images were shot. Some are 2.8. Bokeh? Really? Its a wide lens…ok, well, its there. Its not great, but come on, its a wide lens.

‘Bokeh’?….its ‘okeh’ 🙂

20170325-DSCF4940

If you’re using the 2nd and 3rd generation X-Series bodies (which I’m guessing most of you are) you probably haven’t bought one of these lenses. You probably went for the 18-55 zoom instead. Fair enough, I cant knock you for that. It may even be a bit sharper at the wide end, though you will get more barrel distortion. BUT, if you have hankering to get a snappy prime for street, thats a tad faster (its F2, remember) – look no further. This lens performs admirably on your camera, as you can clearly see. And it sure does make a difference to the overall size of your rig. Auto focus was quick…not ‘linear motor’ quick, but faster than the 35 F1.4, the 56 and definitely the 60. I had a CPL on all day, and it never missed a beat on the X-Pro 2. Fantastically, it also allowed the camera to focus efficiently on ‘face detect’ pretty seamlessly too, which was a bonus today although the light was especially good. Eye detect focus? Nah…but that feature is useless anyway. For street it is. Maybe its fine in a portrait studio, but elsewhere? Well, it just annoys the crap out of me….

This, of course, was written a mere 48hrs before NEW FIRMWARE on March 27th – and auto focussing improvements are a big part of this, apparently, so as usual, I’m dead excited for Monday. Never thought I would EVER say that about a Monday…

As always, thanks so much for reading. I do appreciate it. As mentioned before, we are living in important, future defining times. We really do need to document whats happening – safely, of course – as I believe the next few years, tough though they will be for many of us, are going to be historically pivotal to how we find our place in the world. By ‘our’ I’m saying the UK, where I live, but of course you may be in the US, Turkey, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus, Greece and other countries with issues unique to your home nation. I recommend you get out there, now more than ever, and share your images.

Stop over to my instagram, if you fancy: https://www.instagram.com/capitalfaces/

Cheers, be well.

 

 

 

 

Back to the Primes…(Malta/Sicily)

20170227-DSCF4057

The winter blues. Hits me every year  – I think it gets worse as I get older, actually. I can deal with anything right up until New Years day, but after Jan 2nd my mood plummets and pretty much stays pretty dank until the first daffodils of March. Even Christmas sucked this year, so that cant’ve helped either.

I shoot less. I eat more. I smoke a LOT. Work is quiet. And there is, I swear, little worse than a London rush hour, AM or PM, when its both dark and rainy, everyday. Screw that.

On the 23rd February I received a junk email from Easy Jet Holidays. On the 26th, I was in Malta. And it was sunny.

You may recall my last trip in September – to Skiathos – when I packed super light and took one body (X-Pro 2), one zoom lens (the xf18-55) and a super wide (the Samyang 12) and came back highly enthused about the whole experience (up to that point, I had barely used a zoom). I had pretty much decided that this would be my travel set up from now on. Yeah well, I lied about that.

I’ll be honest and say it didn’t take me long after coming back from Skiathos to realise I was still a prime shooter. I love that 18-55 still, its terrific, but hey – if I’m travelling alone again, with all the time in the day at my disposal, with some incredible Mediterranean light and vistas? Im gonna switch back, take my time, focus on pitch perfect quality, and get the shot that way…. so with that in mind I took the X-Pro 2, the trusty xf23 f1.4, the 12mm Samyang (fast becoming my staple for street work now), and the xf35 1.4.

xpro 1 debut

The 35 was the first Fuji lens I ever bought when I got my X-Pro 1 back in 2012 (the pic above was taken the very day of purchase)  in fact, its the lens I recommend most when people buy into the system now as its so good it really lets the new user know just how good Fuji X-Series bodies can be. Its gorgeous – sharp at 1.4, punchy as HELL at 3.5, and with really natural looking bokeh. Its clunky compared to some of the later lenses – but it works. Its a shame I rarely use it now, such is my love for the 23 and 12 – so I figured I would take it with me to see if it re-ignite something. Wistfully, I look at the images I took when I first got this lens, and they hold up so well…the 35 deserves another chance.

(Wistfully) this one below was taken not long after I got it. Its so sharp, with such lovely rendering…shot at f2.

20130826-DSCF5183

So, obligatory ‘from the plane’ shot coming up:

20170226-DSCF3987

Its the Alps, if you were wondering….

(click on all images for all settings, if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂 should take you to my flickr)

Malta – Ive never been before, and I’m kicking myself for not going sooner. This island is gorgeous. Avg temps were about 68-72 degrees (though the locals were wrapped up like it was 35…the side effects of living in a hot country, I guess), and searing sunlight that hurt my eyes on the first day. Add to this the friendliness of the people (having been a part of the UK until 1964, the Maltese drive on our side of the road, have the British power points and generally ‘get’ us too) and you have all the ingredients to help me get my energy and creativity mojo back. Day one was dedicated to getting my bearings and exploring the town and beach of Mellieah, where my hotel was based.

20170226-DSCF4009

20170226-DSCF4015

and my new ‘local’ for the next few days…

20170226-DSCF4007

20170227-DSCF4073

(I was in shirt sleeves – the locals, as you can see, were not…)

These were all taken with the XF23 – and Hoya C-PL on the front. Day two, I kept it fairly local again. I made a great discovery in that just around the corner from my hotel was the original movie set from the film ‘Popeye’ starring Robin Williams. Watching it now, its not a very good movie, but as a kid I loved it. Over 35 years later, its still standing, and is now a popular theme park. Here’s a clip of the film…like I said, its not all that. 🙂 But it shows parts of the film set…

Heres what it looks like now. This was a three image stitch processed in Lightroom, again with the XF23.

20170227-DSCF4080-Pano

Day 3, I got friendly with a local cabbie…lovely chap, and I told him I was interested in seeing the ‘real’ Malta – away from the touristy parts, I wanted to see the tucked away villages to see how people really lived. To be honest, I wanted to see if I could make my London street style  work somewhere where the pace of life was slower and less packed. We agreed on a price, and set off. I wish I could remember the village names, but it was a really interesting five hours exploring the real Malta. Again, the 23mm was bolted to the X-Pro 2, and even though I wanted to try out the other two lenses (and I did later) the 35mm equiv focal length just worked for now.

20170228-DSCF4138

20170228-DSCF4155

20170228-DSCF4203

(the one above was taken on the 12mm Samyang)

caged finch

(as was this one) Strange, and rather cruel,  practice/custom of capturing live finches and keeping them as pets. The locals carry them around in cages and hang them up outside cafes while they go in and have a coffee (like we would do with a dog, I guess). Odd custom – yes, their song is pretty, but also rather sad. I cant see how being couped up in a 12 inch cage can be an especially happy life.

20170228-DSCF4163

We managed to get to the medieval walled city of Mdina, which was beautiful and had a gorgeous harbour where I was able to relax for a while.

20170228-DSCF4232-Pano

(another stitch in Lightroom and taken with the 12mm for extra width. I like how it came out.)

Day 4 was a big (and tiring) one. At 4am I was picked up from the hotel to get to the harbour for five and aboard a catamaran to the island of Sicily. I’m a huge fan of The Godfather films, and Sicily is a real ‘bucket list’ place to visit. I wanted to stay longer than a day, I wanted to visit Corleon too, but the island is huge and I only found time to ‘climb’ the most active volcano in the world (Mount Etna) and visit the Unesco world heritage town of Modica. To be honest, both were incredible. As was the Sicilian sunrise:

Sicilian Sunrise.

I was woefully underprepared for Mount Etna. Not only was it highly active at this point (it erupts every two weeks these days, and this was a real humdinger that made the British news the day before) but it was also BLOODY COLD and so windy we couldnt take the cable car but instead went up in a maxed out Jeep with crawlers. I was in shorts and Converse. It was Minus 9. But I did it.

20170301-DSCF4358

(though I have to admit, coming down was a little more bearable)

20170301-DSCF4359

20170301-DSCF4364

Etna was amazing, incredible – to be so close to an erupting volcano, almost 3000 feet up with the clouds (and booming explosions) was something I’ll never forget. I hate to get slushy, but if you cant be moved after that you may as well give up. My head became as clear as the air, and I’ve not been the same since. Life defining. Do try and do it if you can. (But dress properly….)

A couple of hours later I was in the beautiful town of Modica. A protected UNESCO city and one where I hummed the Godfather theme the whole time I was there. Out of peak season, the town was quiet and eerie in places, but that just added to the magic of it. It also gave me some quality time with the wonderful Samyang 12mm F2, a lens that is fast becoming my lens of choice for street work. Its freakishly sharp, wonderfully forgiving and being manual focus there is no lag at all – it takes an image instantly. I set it to 1m (roughly) and as wide open as the conditions will allow, and just go for it. You need to get close, but honestly, its so quick that no one notices. And if they do, just don’t make eye contact and keep walking….

20170301-DSCF4394

20170301-DSCF4395

20170301-DSCF4416

20170301-DSCF4377

Such a long and glorious day. Went to sleep happy that night, and kind of bummed that Day 5 was my last full day. I really didn’t want to go home.

Day 5 – Valletta.

Valletta, the capital of Malta, took up my last day. I was in two minds on wether to go or not. I was still exhausted after the excitement of the previous day, but I knew I would regret not visiting a city where EVERYBODY told me was buzzing and full of life. And, apparently, amazing ice cream.

20170302-DSCF4543

They were right about that.

I even managed to take ONE PIC with the 35mm. I really let myself down, I know, but at least it was a pretty good one:

20170302-DSCF4487

I think the xf35 is an amazing lens. But I just have to accept is just doesn’t suit my style of shooting anymore. Im not getting rid of it (its great for portraits), but I guess Im a wide shooter these days. Who knows, that may change in the future – I hope it does – but yeah…

So everything else was snapped on the Samy 12. Of course it was.

20170302-DSCF4506

20170302-DSCF4511

20170302-DSCF4501

20170302-DSCF4556-Pano

(four image Lightroom stitch)

20170302-DSCF4523

As quickly as it came, it was all over. My trip to Malta, much needed, cheap as chips and as glorious as anywhere I’ve ever visited was coming to an end. I felt sad, that final evening, looking out from my hotel window and deciding, there and then, to come back in the Autumn and do everything I missed this time around.

one last look.

Do I really need to mention the camera and glass at this point? I mean, yes, I should, thats why many of you are here after all… but for fear of repeating myself (there are articles on this site going into some depth on the gear), can I just say that other than letting myself down with the xf35, everything worked great. Better than ever. In fact, the camera was secondary this time – the experiences came first. I really should have taken more shots, but I was so busy looking with my mouth wide open, I forgot I had it a lot of the time. But I guess thats the whole point.

What I should be telling you is – go to Malta. Climb Etna. Visit Sicily. Eat Ice Cream. Sleep a lot. Chill. Smoke fags. No one gets out of here alive anyway, so do stuff last minute. Get a great camera like the Fuji X-Series (any one of them will do, honestly) a couple of primes, and record it. If you want to.

Aaaand…we’re back in room. 🙂 I would love it if you stopped by my Instagram –

https://www.instagram.com/capitalfaces/

Im back in London now, obviously, but I’ve tried to mix it up a bit recently. But its back to faces again… As ever, thanks for reading. Any questions, I’ll be glad to answer below.

Cheers.

33132484141_a025debfc0_k

Amber Run – Album Release Day

I don’t get involved with music videos much these days – I get asked to produce them all the time, but due to the rampant theft of music, the budgets are now awful…and they’re rarely worth the ballache to make. Its a shame, though…I play myself, and love music. But I also have to make a profit, and something cool.

Its takes a special band and a special tune for me to be even remotely interested. The band is Amber Run, and the song was ‘Stranger’. And here’s the video:

(Directed by William Jones)

Amber Run are perhaps best known for the track ‘I Found’, which many people heard from the ‘Teen Wolf’ TV series. It currently has over 28million views in YouTube, and is a beautiful track (though check out the ‘Mahogany Sessions’ version. Dang) .

The bands second album, ‘For A Moment, I Was Lost’ was released today – and I was both thrilled and surprised to receive a signed copy, in gorgeous white vinyl, and a spiffing white T shirt (featuring one of the shots from ‘Stranger’ on the front) get plonked on my desk this morning. A good Friday. 🙂

I was also lucky enough to take a bunch of ‘behind-the-scenes’ stills, of which 4 I have exclusively released on my Instagram today. Check those out here:

For those who I’ve blocked or don’t have Instagram, here’s another 4 just because its that Friday feeling:

DSCF1640-1

(singer, main composer – Joe Keogh)

DSCF1702-1

(guitarist – Will Jones)

DSCF1766-1

(Keyboards – Henry Wyeth)

DSCF1716-1

(Bass – Tom Sperry)

All shots taken on the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + xf56mm 1.2 APD or xf35mm F1.4

I will have a lot of great memories from this day. The four guys were a dream to work with (especially Joe, who spent practically 10 hours in a water tank. Surprised he didn’t get the bends…) and I’m lucky to count them as friends now (even if the soggy lead singer mentioned above cleared me out of roll-ups that day). I wish them well with the new L.P – and have been reliably informed that it may make the top 10 in the UK charts by the weekend. They’ve not had an easy year of it, being ditched by their first label (a major) and losing their drummer, so to come out with a long player as beautiful as this is a testament to them as a band and as men of strength and resilience. Fair play.

To get hold of a copy for yourself, do go here : https://amber-run.tmstor.es/

(The white vinyl is especially saucy…)

And the tour is now under way, details here: http://www.livenation.co.uk/artist/amber-run-tickets

OK, thats about it for now. More to come soon – personal issues have somewhat held me back recently, but Im fine, things are picking up momentum again and normal service will be resumed shortly. And thanks, for all your kind words and support. It meant the world to me. Y’all are nice.

Speaking of which – #thefivehourproject is ongoing, so please feel free to carry on (and remember to tag!) as is #whileyouweresleeping (didn’t pick this one, but thanks to the friend that did) but this one has been invaded by a Japanese tv show…odd…but its OK, I still see them.

Remember, its all about creation – images, paintings, songs, short films, shit – decorate a cake for all I care…just make something for yourself.

Cheers all. Speak soon.

X

 

My photo project for 2017.

‘At night’…

That answer really annoyed me. It was cold, callous and glib – I deserved better. I had put my heart and soul into making her life better, making this relationship work, as well as investing considerable sums into her photo business and new apartment – all the while living five hours ahead in another country.

Ah, those five hours. You can do a lot in five hours…

I had suspected her cheating for a while. She had become colder and more distant, started to pick faults, looking for excuses. I knew the signs..sadly its happened to me twice before (weirdly, both had the same name – lesson learned). Our Christmas Skype gift exchange wasn’t especially happy…it must have been killing her, poor love, getting boned by another man then shortly after, opening gifts from the one you should be boning…

To add insult to injury, she expressed surprise that I wouldn’t wish her happiness. Im thinking ‘you’re sleeping with someone else, and you want my blessing? Has the word ‘asshole’ been written on my forehead? Holy crap…’

And thats when I asked her…’Where was I when this was going on? When did this all happen?’

Long pause….

‘At night’…

Ah yeah, those five hours. Knew they would bite me on the ass eventually. She apologised and said goodbye. I told her to fuck off.

But I did have the inspiration for this years project…so I thank her for that. Shoot for Five Hours. Stay out the whole time – with an hour put by for ‘Pho’… The Five Hour Project Series- lets see what I can get done in that time.

If you’re struggling, spend five hours to create something worthy and beautiful and honest. Spend five hours doing something constructive, not destructive. Doesn’t even have to be five hours, but for me it seems appropriate.

I shall shoot – but you can write a song, a poem, a short film, a story, draw a picture, anything…something original, a creation that means something to only you. Keep it to yourself if you like. Or feel free to share it.

I cant think of a better way to get over heartbreak. Or the winter blues.

#thefivehourproject – feel free to join in.

firespinners

(Fujifilm XE-2 + 35mm 1.4)

Street Photography – make it mean something…

20161222-dscf3398

Mirrorless cameras have a lot to answer for.. 🙂

It cant have escaped anyones notice that theres a lot of Fuji’s out there these days. A walk through many of London’s best street photography areas and I’m seeing XT’s and X-Pro’s everywhere. A few X100’s (though not many) scattered around, and a few Pen’s too (that new Pen F is awful sexy, I think)…but the street is fast becoming the domain of the ‘X  head’…

I have no problem with this. The more the merrier. Photography is truly democratic these days, and along with the selfie obsessed tourist, there is plenty of room for everyone. What I DO have a problem with is crap street photography. A really quick scroll down on a ‘Fuji Street Photography’ facebook group churns out something straight away:

shitstreet

This does nothing. Tells me nothing. Did it challenge the photographer? It can’t have…its very very poor. Sorry dude, it just is. What would you title this? ‘Woman walking past shop with phone’ – right. Other than a nice skirt, there is nothing here – no story, no composition to speak of, not even a decent edit  – and it clarifies my point. This got 20 likes. So, because it was shot on the street, does this really qualify as street photography? Well, yeah, it kinda does I guess…doesn’t make it authentic though, does it?

(AND ITS STAMPED!!! who’s going to steal it, really…)

You see, with so many ‘street photographers’ out there now, it stands to reason that there is a LOT of shit street photography too. The above example is fairly typical – its a safe shot. And when you shoot safe, you normally get something unmemorable and well…dull. Robert Capa was SPOT ON. If your shots aren’t good enough, its because you’re not close enough…

That shot was not good enough.

Take this example, from London based street shooter Becky Frances:

Obviously not shot in London, but an example of great street photography. (Incidentally, Becky doesn’t shoot with a Fuji, I believe she’s an Olympus and Canon shooter) Why? It tells a story…and to me, that is of paramount importance. Here we have a woman of religion walking towards a ornate building, ignoring two other women in need. BOOM! A story…a picture that tells me something. And its terrific. Nice one, Becky.

Spotting opportunities comes with practice.Believe me, I was taking utterly banal shots like the colour shot above too. We have ALL been there. When asked what makes a dull street shooter into a ‘street photographer’, I have a few answers:

  1. Very Very 1st answer – SHOOT EVERY DAY. Practice Practice Practice. Pack your camera next to your lunch before you leave the house. Its true, great opportunities find you if you shoot often enough. Some of my favourite shots have been taken on the short journey to (or from) work, or in my lunch break:

Happy Wednesday

2) Avoid shooting via oblique angles – they nearly always result in a boring image (see the colour shot I referenced at the top of this article). Face on is nearly always the best way. Its also the most uncomfortable for the shooter, but success favours the brave so stop being a wuss and shoot, for the love of god. If you’re in a public place, you’re doing nothing wrong. Shoot. Then scarper, if you have to, but get the bloody shot.

3) Shooting backs is a huge fail. Unless its an especially interesting back, or (as in Becky’s case above) you have an excellent supporting cast. What story can you tell by shooting someones back? Well, in some instances:

91700007

Yeah, ok, thats an interesting back too, and is helped along by ‘sandwich guy’. But you get my jist – there is no expression in a back shot. Backs don’t offer up a ‘look’ or feeling of emotion. Back shots (and oblique angles for that matter) are the domain of the ‘scaredy’… don’t be a ‘scaredy’. (and no, tele’s or zooms don’t get you off the hook either. Street photographers shoot close with primes, 50mm equiv or wider. If you want to use a zoom, be a sports guy…)

4) Don’t be Bruce Gilden – be HCB.

I happen to like *some* of Bruce Gilden’s work, if I’m honest. But thats for another day. What I DON’T especially like is his bullying style of street photography. Remember, you’re there to catch natural human behaviours, not ruin someones day. By all means, direct your subject if you feel its integral to a shot, but as a rule you’re there to capture a candid moment of uniqueness that no one else has captured…thats the best thing about street photography. That one stolen moment belongs to just you and your subject. Embrace it always. Be covert, be deceitful, but don’t be a dick…

5) Don’t sweat it. Lightroom is your friend.

I’m all about the moment. Yes, I would prefer it if everything was dead level and tack sharp, but that is just not always possible if you’re shooting from the hip, chest or shoulder. The ‘rotate’ tool is freaking sweet. You’re not ‘doing a McCurry’ and removing elements or adding some others. You’re enhancing – and thats cool. Jack up that contrast, tweak that clarity slider…add grain, make it look like HP5 for all I care – just don’t detract from the quality of that original moment. If you really need to over edit, the chances are it really isn’t a very good shot to begin with. Quality control is also a handy skill to have.

6) Shoot Film. Sometimes.

I like Eric Kim – yes, he may take 19 shots (on film – he must be loaded) of the same thing, but the eventual selected shot you see is normally of a very high standard. He’s also a kind and giving soul that the world needs more of, so with that aside, check out his work. He loves to shoot film, as do I, and there is a bunch of wonderful analog street shooters out there. I was raised shooting film, and it still fascinates me. When you watch these guys work, the one thing that sticks out a mile is how ‘considered’ they are as photographers. You can call it slow if you like, but just look at the results…composition and exposure are everything when you’re limited to 36 exposures – with no chimping- and thats why I still shoot film. Not for the aesthetics (which I do find pleasing, admittedly) but more for the effect it has on my photography overall. I really try to get it right in camera first, and I NEVER use burst mode. I do chimp though…but I am working on it. 🙂

Shoot film from time to time. It slows you down, and really concentrates the mind on composition and exposure accuracy. It gives so much value that you really notice it when you go back to shooting digital.

Chalking for Change

(shot on a Leica Minilux and Ilford HP5 film.)

_________________________________________________________________

I’m going to stick my neck out and say ‘sorry’ to all those that are offended by this post, especially if you’re fond of the old ‘back shot’… but feel free to check out pretty much every street photography themed facebook/instagram/twitter out there. I was actually urged to write this after subscribing to ‘Street Photography’ magazine – its only two quid a pop, but MAN is there some utter tosh contained within. I was actually pretty disappointed with both its pretentiousness and lack of quality that I felt urged to say something.

(If you were here for the Lensbaby Trio review…its coming soon. 🙂 )

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Here’s to a WONDERFUL 2017 – may you be creative and spontaneous always.  And hopefully, Trump will be impeached within his first week and Brexit was just a bad nightmare…yeah, I know….one can wish.

Be well all.

Come see me on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/capitalfaces/

Interested in shooting film? Check out these channels, I find them massively inspirational:

Azriel Knight: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLfGwQwIzK2tdup4QkXr0Bg

The Art Of Photography: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7T8roVtC_3afWKTOGtLlBA

Matt Day: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCopwCE5bVtffQif8IFkbUuw

Erik Wahlstrom: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8a1kQF2DdXiTu1ucRvOhxA

EduardoPavezGoye : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR-I25_yEl_frEZ26I9ty-w

Negative Feedback: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTgaiv8YdmmNqI8STrpWc7w

Danny Pops: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLUENXM6HZG9gjXbYJN2stiTgt_Q3bBgM

Nate Matos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLg6z_ITnjtO_EhZL59ObSg

Brian Soko: https://www.flickr.com/photos/45609113@N04/

Jason Lee (yes, Earl…) : http://jasonleephoto.bigcartel.com/

Super-Wide Street Shooting w/ Samyang (Rokinon) 12mm F2.

dscf2853

I doubt there is a day that goes by, when on one forum or another someone is either asking about the Samyang 12mm F2 or someone is telling us how good it is. I fall into the latter. Often.

This lens is terrific value for money. Period. I think I paid £210 for mine. Brand New. I have no idea if its better or worse than the Fujinon 14/16/10-24 or the Zeiss Touit – and furthermore, I don’t care. I can manage expectations on a two hundred quid lens, and if it turned out crap I could always send it back. But I’ve had it three years now, and its going nowhere.

As I have alluded to, many times, on previous posts – street photography is what I love to shoot most. I’m a film maker by trade, so naturally, I want to shoot the polar opposite of the gruelling, mentally draining and highly regimented world of film production. Street photography is my release – I am alone with my thoughts, not relying on anyone else, yet still being creative and striving for that one ‘decisive moment’…sorry, Henri. And I cant blame anyone else but myself if I’m disappointed with the results…  🙂

I normally use my 23mm F1.4 for street. Sometimes the 18mm, sometimes the 35, but the 23 covers most of the subjects I like to shoot. The 23 offers *some* width, optical excellence and is pretty snappy on the X-Pro 2 – and 1.4 is pretty bright, so its good for most conditions, even without flash. Its a solid lens – the Angry Photographer is dead wrong about this glass, unusually.

I first started to use the 12mm for street a couple of years ago on my X-Pro 1. There were times when I got REALLY fed up with the AF (like we all did) on the early X bodies in certain conditions, and of course the great thing with ANY manual focus lens is a) there is no focus delay and b) hyperfocal shooting is a DODDLE – so easy on super wides. So I began to take the 12 out with me more, especially to events where I knew there would be packed crowds, as this focal length would allow me to fit a lot in without getting too far back. I also realised the 12mm has a REALLY short focus throw, especially from 1m to infinity, so you didn’t have to be super accurate with distances to subject. I would set it to 1-1.5 meters, and just snap. No delay, and pretty much always ended up with a sharp (sometimes sharp-ish) image.

23937572604_75b5306ae5_k27140574474_a1261aaafd_k27426199204_301aa8adde_k

The one drawback (some may not consider it a drawback) is you really do have to get in close. The 23 was perfect, 2-3 meters back, great. The 12? Nope, a meter…four feet, tops, or everything would just look miles away. In a bustling, large, crowd, this wasn’t really that much of an issue – there would be so much else going on, I was barely noticed at all. And I was quick. I may be getting on a smidge, but my reaction times are still pretty tasty – thankfully.

But on Brick Lane today? Not so easy.

I don’t know whats happened to Brick Lane recently. Its gotten really quiet. A couple of summers ago you could barely walk five steps in a minute. There would be fantastic street performers (Lewis Floyd Henry is really the only one left – thankfully, he’s amazing.), and incredible food vendors and colourful fruit and juice sellers all the way up to the High Street, both sides of the lane – there was an amazing atmosphere, any time of year. Now? There is barely anything happening…a lot of the food vendors have moved indoors in the nearby Trueman Building, the fruit sellers have gone, and today not ONE street performer…sad times. I hope its not the sign of things to come for East London. To a certain extent, the much maligned hipster has taken over this part of town (and a lot more vintage stores have opened as a result) – I hope the sadly depleted Brick Lane is not a by product of that.

I had to have my wits about me if I was going to make this shoot a success…looking ahead all the time, trying to spot (and prepare for) my next capture, and for the most part, it worked:

30162250134_0080abd6e3_k30705334341_72b6226910_k30705345231_07b8bb92df_k

These were all shot on the X-Pro 2 at 1000ISO. The bottom ‘crossroads’ pic has about a 10% crop. And again, focus set to 1m, aperture at F3.5. A little more forgiving if my distances were a little off.

Also (and this is fairly rare these days, for me) these are all JPEGS, with minor adjustments in post. I REALLY enjoy Acros (R) +2 h/l +2 shadow. Gives me a look that reminds me of HP5 – on a good day.

And this, I think, was my pic of the day:

30705338811_9fd45d0301_k-1

(I’m tempted to crop down to a square format, and try to get rid of some passers by…what do you think?)

I got bored pretty quick of the sparse looking Brick Lane, and moved down towards Liverpool Street station – it had a bit more bustle.

I stopped off to eat at a new place called The Diner in Spitalfields. They do chilli cheese fries. And they were superb:

30158409203_217b3e7366_k

Then a slow amble towards the station:

30162222664_4f95b96a75_k30793827005_09eaff405f_k30793824155_5051c9dc92_k

Overall, I was pleased with the shoot today. It was cold, surprisingly quiet – but there was still a character or two to make things interesting.

And what of the 12mm Samyang? Well,see for yourself. Its good. Sharp, and with all those long words like vignetting and  chromatic aberation either under control or a non-issue. In truth, there IS a little purple fringing in bright light/high contrast areas, but I only found this out when I was on vacation somewhere sunny. Not such a problem in London, in November.

edit: AND NO DISTORTION! 🙂 This is quite a big deal. None of these images were corrected at all. Its a standout feature of this lens, and I cant believe I overlooked it! Sorry…

It is worth mentioning build quality too. The focussing is buttery smooth, the aperture ring has a pleasant, purposeful ‘click’ to it, and it has a decent heft to it too. A good blend of metal when you need it (mount) and high quality plastics to keep the weight down. It doesn’t feel like a cheap lens.

Depending on where you live, this Korean made optic is available (and branded) as Samyang, Bowens, Rokinon, Walimex and even Vivitar (now theres a blast from the past!), but they’re all the same so you’ll be happy with any of them.

So hopefully, now, you’ll have some idea of why these incredibly good value lenses get mentioned on those forums so much. I know I wont stop posting. I do recommend these optics for street, but only if your the sort of photographer who has no problem getting really close to your subject, and doesn’t mind the possible flack that comes with it. Today, I was lucky. But this being a famously grumpy London, I could just as easily have been confronted with choice anglo-saxon and a threat of violence. It happens rarely, but it does happen.

But I like this focal length for street. Its different and fun, and forces you to think differently about composition and speed. Don’t worry about it being manual focus only – its really easy on this lens, even without focus peaking. I suggest you set your distance, and see how brave you are…. 🙂 go on, whats the worst that could happen?

Please do say hello on Instagram if you get the chance (or if you have Instagram!):

https://www.instagram.com/capitalfaces/?hl=en

Any questions, do let me know. Have fun, stay safe, and keep shooting. Cheers!