Another year is drawing to its end and I hope that you have enjoyed reading some (or all) of my blog posts through 2015. I just wanted to post a sort of a Christmas themed street photo to round the year off.
I have entitled it ‘bringing home the panettone’ which makes it a bit festive but it was taken as I was on my way to meet up with some friends and colleagues for a Christmas drink and meal and that adds to its seasonal feeling. Being an independent and freelance photographer I don’t get to spend enough time working with a team and it is lovely to get to be part of an office party like this one was.
2015 has been a good year for me and for my work but it has been tinged by the sadness of losing too many fellow photographers, most of whom were far too young.
Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for contributing and I wish you a very merry Christmas and successful new year.
Technical stuff: Fujifilm X100S 1/80th of a second at f2 on 2000 ISO.
It’s amazing how often a casual conversation or a quick exchange on a Facebook group can spark a train of thought. Earlier today a comment by a friend and fellow photographer about how a photo sharing site had made him look around him and start taking pictures for the love of it again. I agreed whole-heartedly and began to think about uploading a few more pictures here. That moved my train of thought onto the various reviews and updates that I’ve written on this blog and elsewhere about the Fujifilm X20 that has been my almost constant companion for the last 11 months. So what I decided to do was to say a few words to summarise my experiences with this camera and add some pictures shot in the last couple of weeks.
In general, my opinions about this camera have barely changed since I posted the first update back in mid April 2013. Given the product cycle that Fujifilm seems to gallop through the X20 is probably about to be superseded anyway but I thought that I’d offer some advice to make this camera (that I still like very much) better if they want to bring out an X30.
The battery life has to improve. Despite doing everything possible to limit power drain I get through two batteries a day when shooting with ordinary SD cards and up to four batteries a day when I’m using one of my Eye-Fi cards. This makes a cool and convenient camera a lot less convenient and pushes up the cost of ownership – even if you go for third party spare batteries.
Start-up delay. About once in every third time I switch the camera on it takes three or four seconds to adjust and get the exposure correct. The first picture is often three or more stops over-exposed.
Autofocus at the telephoto end of the range. My camera sometimes refuses to auto focus when the lens is zoomed all the way to the 112mm equivalent end of its range.
The review time options for looking at images you have just shot are too restrictive. There are no options between 1.5 seconds and zoom (unlimited).
The built-in flash isn’t compatible with the lens hood – you get shadows and so to use that function you need to remove the hood.
The video isn’t great – but I didn’t buy this camera to shoot video.
On top of all of that it would be great if the focal range went from 24-120, the camera had two SD slots and if there were lens correction options for Adobe Camera RAW because at the 28mm end there is the slightest barrel distortion.
This is a great camera and I love using it. I am seriously tempted by the X100S too. Having borrowed one for an extended period, I would very much like to own one. Fujifilm have done a great job with their X-series cameras and they should be very proud of the effect that their cameras have had on a lot of very old and very picky professionals (like me) who all grin like idiots when using the kit. So now, without further ado, here are a few more recent X20 images for you…
No pictures please. Bournemouth town centre
Shadows lengthen on a sunny day in Bournemouth
Woman rescuing her dog from the waves at Fisherman’s Walk
Child playing in the waves on a sunny day in March
Family on the beach in early March
Woman with dog on the beach at Fisherman’s Walk
Dogs and their walkers on the beach at Fisherman’s Walk
Elderly couple waiting for their train on Bournemouth station
The view from the train across to Southampton’s container port
Young women ignoring a donut stall on Waterloo station
Stylish tourists pass under Charing Cross Pier in London
Police launch following a pleasure boat on the River Thames
Shopper in the tunnel between Embankment and Charing Cross stations
Shadows outside University College Hospital in London
Young couple on the South Bank of the River Thames
Carousel waiting for riders on the South Bank
Commuters heading home across the concourse at The Royal Festival Hall
Ever since I started using the EyeEm photo sharing site I have been trying to shoot more pictures “just for the fun of it”. The platform allows you to add your pictures to albums and one of my favourites is entitled “Out Walking”. I often shoot with my Fujifilm X20 with and Eye-Fi card in it, convert the RAW fils to Jpeg using the neat film simulation modes before uploading them to my iPhone and going through the process I described in my Eye-Fi Workflow post a week or so ago. I also vowed a while ago to get better at black and white. I’m not sure that’s going quite so well but I often combine the two. It’s great fun and even mildly addictive!
Anyway, for no other reason that I want to share them, here are some of the images.
“Street photography is back” was the title of an email that I received today. Funny, I never knew that it went away. Having said that, the current exhibition taking place at The Museum of London has given the genre a bit of a boost. There are so many great exponents of street photography working in London today that even I have to admit that it isn’t so much back as resurgent. This got me thinking about some of my own work from early on in my career. I remember sitting in my office one day and a very old friend rang me and asked if I have any pictures of street markets that his younger sister could borrow for a school project. I had a few but, in the absence of anything better to do, I went off to Leather Lane market and shot a couple of rolls of film.
At that time I was part of a small agency and we had a rapidly growing library of images that was starting to make us some money. Stock photography was a good marketplace back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to add a few market pictures.
This was my favourite frame of the lot. Shot on a Nikon FM2 with a 35mm f2 Nikkor lens and Kodak Tri-X film – a copy of this print made on old-fashioned bromide paper still hangs on my own office wall. The reasons that I like it are many and varied but the fact that it was born of a simple request from a very good friend (in fact, two years later he was my Best Man at my wedding) gives it extra weight for me. The fact that it has made me quite a bit of money as a stock image certainly doesn’t detract from its appeal but the other thing that makes me love this picture is that it reminds me just how simple photography can be. A mechanical camera with a fixed focal length lens, no automation whatsoever and time. Street photography is all about opportunity and patience.
Waiting for the moment to happen is part of the way that I shoot anyway but I also spend a lot of time looking around trying to anticipate good compositions, watching for the way that light hits surfaces and people. I have a very clear recollection of how this picture was made. I had seen the man walk up through the market and grabbed a couple of frames of him as he walked and shopped. Then I saw this nice gap between stalls and concentrated on framing it and I have the same composition with at least five different people passing through. Finally the interesting person that I really wanted came back and I clicked one frame of him (no motor drives on my FM2s that day). The little black border around the print is the rebate of the film which means, for those of you who are too young to have shot much in the pre-digital era, that this is the whole frame as it was shot – no post production cropping.
When I scanned the print this morning I noticed that this was one of a short edition of hand-prints that I made of this frame and you can see the stamp and date that were on the back with my pixelated signature.
Simple and happy days but I don’t particularly want them back. Opening a box of prints brought back the smell of the darkroom and the associated cough rather too vividly. I haven’t made a black and white print in a traditional darkroom since January 1994 and I don’t miss it one bit!