An unexpected influence…

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(Image by Linda McCartney)

Man, its been a busy time. I have sadly neglected this blog for WEEKS! Mid-June was my last post. My bad…I’d love to say things will improve, but sadly it looks like continuing batshitted-crazyness for the foreseeable future. I’ve barely shot any new street work in almost a month, which is the longest break I’ve ever had…and its NOT because I wanted the rest.

However, its a ‘kind of’ sunny morning in my corner of the world, and its a Sunday, so if I cant find the time to write something now who knows when you’ll next hear from me. The floors can wait to be swept…

As followers to my Instagram will probably know (‘capitalfaces’ if you’re interested) I’ve been following ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Tokio Myers with some interest. I first shot him a few years ago at a talent showcase while he was still doing the cruise ships, corporate Christmas parties and PR events. Even then, I wondered why this prodigiously gifted musician  was…well, not huge. I referred to him then as the Jimi Hendrix of the piano, and I still stick by that. To watch him perform is like nothing I’ve seen (or shot) before…its like some kind of fierce poetry. Yeah, like Jimi….

In short, it looks like all that hard work has paid off for the lad from North London – now signed to Simon Cowell’s ‘Syco’ record label, and a number 1 single (see below) under his belt already – the future looks rosy. And it is well deserved.

(feel free to donate. its an ongoing battle, and some of these victims STILL don’t have a place to live. I donated a Fuji camera to the London based ‘Creative Access’ charity in memory of Khadija Saye, a young and gifted photographer who sadly perished in the fire)

Jump forward a couple of months, I had the opportunity to shoot his first gigs since his world began getting a little crazy. These were not huge shows – they were booked before he even won the TV show – but they were at the highly prestigious Elgar Rooms, housed inside London’s world famous Royal Albert Hall. Small, intimate shows with no more than 200 fans at each of the two gigs. Here’s a few shots…

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I even had to time to grab a quick selfie. 🙂 We’re mates. He was cool.

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Camera used was my Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with a variety of glass. Most of the portrait stuff was shot on a VERY old Olympus Zuiko OM 100mm F2.8. The rest were shot on either the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm or (and this will be a surprise) the Fujinon XF 18-55 zoom – the image stabilisation comes in useful. The light, somewhat predictably, was pretty awful.

ANYWAY – to get on to the whole point of this blog….man, I can waffle on, can’t I….

A fellow photographer friend shot a question to me a few weeks ago after I showed him the images from the Elgar gigs. It blindsided me, as I never ever EVER get asked questions about my photography, street or otherwise. I don’t mind this – I shoot alone anyway, I don’t covet ‘followers’ or ‘likes’ (though I appreciate them) and I think its pretty pretentious to assume I’m an artist of any kind. I’m not – I capture milliseconds of life. And it gets me out of the house. That is all I do. I don’t get paid. I do it because I love it. And I’m not good enough to be paid, frankly.

‘These look familiar’…he said. Which is obviously impossible, as they were un-published at that time. And I must have looked confused…

‘Who influenced you on these?’ he asked.

‘Linda McCartney’ I said, without hesitation. There followed a loud guffaw, and a comment about veggie sausages etc etc etc…

As I pointed out to him (edited without rude names and cuss words directed at my friend) Linda McCartney was a photographer of considerable talent BEFORE she married Paul, and BEFORE her range of veggie tucker was in the shops. When researching pics of Hendrix to help inspire me when shooting Tokio, I even surprised myself when discovering that most of my favourite ones were taken by Linda. She was amazing – her compositional skills are exemplary, especially when you consider the unregulated and crazy nature of gigs back in the late 60’s…using what was then basic manual equipment (no zooms either, remember – I believe she was a Nikon F shooter) and film stock which would have been no faster than 400ISO (if that). Incredible, really. She had the innate skill to completely isolate Jimi on stage, long before the invention of spot-metering, and delivered some of the most iconic images in rock music. You go girl.

It wasn’t just Jimi either. Janis, the Stones, Jim and the Doors….all looked freaking fabulous through her lens (even Yoko did). I recommend you check her out. Like, REALLY check her out. And wow, what a cool family album those McCartney kids must have….

Certainly a pause for thought. But a thought I am grateful for, and went in to my session with Tokio with a ‘what would Linda do’ type of question the whole time. Except for the selfie…that was all me. 🙂

Overall, it was a session I was pretty happy with. This was also the first real test of the latest X-Pro 2 firmware which improved the low light focussing (something I was still struggling with) and it pretty much passed.

Once this week is out I should be back to a normal schedule (I freaking hope so anyway) so no doubt I’ll be pounding the streets looking for victims before long. There is still quite a bit of summer left, so I suggest you do the same…

At the end of Sept, I’m undertaking my most adventurous trip yet  – a 10 nighter in Malaysia, starting in Kuala Lumpa and ending in Langkawi. I’ll try to get a few posts in before I leave. After that, be prepared to be bored rigid with tales from the east….

As ever, feel free to catch me on the ‘gram : capitalfaces

And do support Tokio on Instagram too : tokiomyersworld  (he’s a good lad)

Have a great rest of the summer,

X

 

 

 

 

 

London Street Photography – my favourite spots.

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You may have guessed (being called ‘capitalfaces’ and all) that I spend the bulk of my time shooting around Britain’s great capital. And it is great. I work in London too, which means on average I spend about 6 days a week – work and ‘play’ – in and around the city. I’m often asked if I get bored of it, and the simple answer is ‘no’… in my humble opinion, it is the greatest city in the world.

There is something going on every day – a festival, a march, a run, a game, a concert, a gathering, a fete, a vigil, the list is endless. It’s streets are teeming with life anytime, day or night, and it is never EVER boring. From Stoke Newington to Southwark, life happens at pace and although the intense bustle is not for everyone, I thrive on it. I couldn’t live in London however, as I think the ‘spin cycle’ of city life would eventually become too much for even me (I live in a small village about 16 miles north of the Emirates Stadium) eventually, but to have easy access to a world capital like this on a daily basis is one of the great joys of my life.

Im also often asked where the best places for street photography are. If I’m honest, I think pretty much ANY London borough offers up something worthwhile if you pound the streets long enough, but here are my favourite three.

3) Brick Lane/Spitalfields/Hanbury St

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A short walk from Liverpool Street station, you’ll find this trifecta of visual stimuli’… Brick Lane is one of the most popular areas in London. In the summer especially, its difficult to move (I find a superwide lens helps in this instance). Along this street you’ll find colourful street vendors selling food from all over the world, exotic smoothies, buskers and performers, plus the usual shops selling vintage clothing, leather goods, a cafe serving nothing but breakfast cereal (dont go, its crap) and a plethora of fantastic places to eat – this is also home to London’s famous ‘Curry Mile’ and the most fantastic Bagel shop. I recommend the salt beef bagel with English mustard. Its incredible. Although much of East London has been taken over by the hipster invasion (not to mention the selfie stick carrying tourists), there is still plenty of authentic London fare and characters to keep your memory card full. I suggest you start on the corner of Hanbury Street and Brick Lane and walk the full length up, cross the street at the end and go the full length down. And take your time to look around – there are a LOT of people and you wont want to miss a magic shot.

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There is much more to see in the summer months, for sure, but winter times – though quieter – do tend to bring out the local element, which I really enjoy too. And you wont have to queue for hours for a bagel either…

2) China Town

You may think China Town (close to the West End and Soho) would be an easy place to shoot street photography. Well, you’re partly right – the buildings and streets are adorned with cultural decorations and lights, which look pretty cool, and the atmosphere is pretty special too – but be warned, the locals are bastards. Don’t be surprised of you get someone shouting and swearing at you if you get busted taking their picture. A heads up – they don’t like that here. Not one bit.

Having said that – this is a great exercise for photographers wishing to refine their timing AND compositional skills. And never was there a better time to invest in a small mirrorless system. You’re asking for it if you lug about your 5d and an L lens…. pack light and be as nimble as Spiderman on crack. You’ll get your rewards if you don’t become obvious….

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For shooting in China Town, I would even go as far as to suggest taking a short telephoto. One doesn’t want to get too close…if you know what I mean. Also, shoot at dusk or later here, to get full benefit of the incredible back drop. This place is magical at night.

  1. Dalston Kingsland/Ridley Road

This part of London is freaking awesome for street photography. I found it totally by accident too…funny how these things happen.

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Similar to China Town, it pays to be deft and deceitful here. However UNLIKE China Town the locals here are absolutely lovely, but this part of London still has very much a ‘community’ feel to it, which on one hand makes you feel very welcome and familiar, but on the other, a polite need for privacy as people go about their business. You would do well to respect this here.

The star of the show is without doubt the Ridley Road Market. On a hot summers day, you could be in downtown Kingston. The vibe is like no other in the city – reggae blaring, colourful clothing, amazing food, exotic fruit stands, and authentic African and West Indian stores lining both sides of the street, selling everything from fresh fish, electronics, beauty services and wigs. This place rules.

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Its worth walking up and down the High St too – still plenty to see, and a little less bustle.

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So that my three top picks. For now… 🙂

But please remember, there are literally hundreds of great places to shoot street photography in London. Im still a regular in Soho, the West End, Regent St, Oxford St, Finsbury Park, Trafalgar, The Strand, Hyde Park (Speakers Corner is wonderful) , Kensington, Mayfair…the list really is endless.

Have fun regardless – youre in one of the greatest cities for street photography, and unlike many other great cities, London has incredible textures and back drops which just add more secret sauce to your images, whatever the weather.

As always, feel free to stop over to my Instagram:

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

Be well.

 

 

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…

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(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…

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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.

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And a few more with the XE-2.

Happy Wednesday

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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….

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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’ 🙂

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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(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.

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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.

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

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(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.

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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.

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(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.

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

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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….

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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.

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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:

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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.

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(four image Lightroom stitch)

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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.

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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:

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(singer, main composer – Joe Keogh)

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(guitarist – Will Jones)

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(Keyboards – Henry Wyeth)

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(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)