Grenoble

A small series of photos of our trip to Grenoble. 

Al photos are taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF35mm1.4, using the film simulation ‘Monochrome+R’ setting. No other post processing has been done to the pictures.

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Family holiday

We’re celebrating the family holidays in Autrans, France.
Three weeks without an alarm clock set to 05:15. Three weeks in a tent in the mountains. Just the four of us.

Usually we go two weeks, but we learned we need more then 1,5 weeks to get the system back to normal: 3 weeks it is…
It’s working!

As always we got lots of plans for our time off: City trips, books to read, hiking trips in the mountains, visiting some caves, trips to the swimming pool, etc. And as I’m picking up on photography again, I had plenty of ideas to turn to: landscapes, portraits, reading. I even brought my tripod.

But being on a family holiday also means there is non photography things to do. I really enjoy being with my family, so I want to spend time with them as well. However, since the girls (6 and 7 years old) really get along with the other kids, I actually could do a lot of reading.

I could not fully concentrate on the e-books. Instead I turned to my Instapaper reading list. A long list of articles way overdue. I read a lot of good and inspirational articles. I’m thinking of creating a dedicated page on this site for inspiration / a reference. I’ll do that when I’m back home. 

In the two weeks that I’m here now I actually did take a lot of pictures. Most of these are not keepers. I see a lot of potential frames, but I’m not working the scene enough to get the keeper shots. I don’t take enough time on the scene, because the family is waiting. Now I know how my dad must have felt back in the days: “Come on, dad. Hurry. Stop taking so much pictures”. And so I have a lot of pictures that could be great, but aren’t.

At first this frustrated me.
I wanted to slow down and work the scene. I wanted to get the keeper shot. But I can’t be the dad not spending time with my family. Sure, there’s no need to constantly be together, but I don’t want to spend the family holidays on photography and not spending time with the family. It should be a healthy mix.

And you know what: This is a healthy mix. I’m having a great time with my wife and kids. Wherever I go I bring my camera and I’m making the best of it. And what I can’t do right now, I’m doing in my head afterwards. Then I’m working the scene, analysing the ‘not so great’ photos that I did make and learning, a lot. And heck I even get a couple of keeper shots. 

I’m sure this improves my photography. I’ve got a long list of notes which I want to look into and give a try next time.

It also shows me what kind of photography I’m really enjoying: documentary photography. This gives me focus: what to do next, now and after the holidays.

New items have been added to the photography backlog, and the backlog has been refined. 

3rd party inspiration 2#: Patrick La Roque

This guy is truly an artist: Patrick La Roque. I think I stumbled upon him via a podcast or so. Or via the Kage Collective. Anyhow, his work is very inspirational. A documentary style of photography, but in a very special, intimate way. And most of the time in a abstract style.

I’ve read a lot of his blog posts on his own site, and the blog posts on the site of the Kage Collective. Most of the posts consist of a sort of introduction text, or verse. The content / his thoughts are mysterious. It feels like he is writing in a diary.  The thoughts are heavy/intense. Sometimes they feel like a struggle. The text is complemented with the beautiful ‘slices’ of his life: a small series of photographs. Moments. Memories.

Sometimes you can’t identify the subject of the photo. So abstract. Sometimes it’s an intimate family capture. But not a family photo as you would take. This truly feels like the moment that once was. These photos are a tool to trigger the memory. To reactivate the moment. Oddly, his ‘slices’ even trigger moments in my memory, of my past.

And it’s not like ‘just’ taking a picture of something mundane as a lawnmower. It’s the picture of the lawnmower, and the light, and the way how he captures the lawnmower, and the other photos in that series that complement the feeling; the memory. It truly triggers a feeling.

Amazing.

Some of the blog posts I’ve saved in my ‘Inspiration’ folder where I can turn to whenever I need to be inspired, when I want to learn and analyse how to take better photographs myself.

Thanks for your inspirational work, Patrick!

3rd party inspiration #1: Akash

Just now I read this great article about inspiration for Street Photography. The photographer, Akash, has a great portfolio. I follow this blog for some time now and I really get inspired by his work. 

The article below really defines why I love photography and as far as I’m concerned the remarks are not limited to Street Photography. They can be applied to most photography disciplines. 

Definitely a great read and a blog to subscribe to:

An Inspired Eye: 10 tips for encouraging Street Photography

https://gmbakash.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/an-inspired-eye-10-tips-for-encouraging-street-photography/

Strapless and bags

In my previous blog post I mentioned my love/hate relationship with a camera strap. When it’s on, it is always annoying me. When it’s off, I miss it because where do you put the camera when both hands are needed for another task …
A camera backpack I don’t like either. It doesn’t allow quick access and where do I leave the other stuff I need to take with me, like water, some food, a raincoat and stuff like that. 

So I bought a ThinkTank waist belt with two “skin pouches”. Now this is a set up I love. It allows easy access and I can still use a regular backpack for the non camera stuff I need to bring. I asked a shoemaker to sew a couple of small straps to my ‘old’ Lowe Pro sling bag. I didn’t cut the shoulder strap off, so that it still can be used without the belt. Using the small straps I can attach the sling bag to the waist belt as well, proving me with ample space for my full kit. When not needed, I can rotate the pouches out of the way. When needed, the pouches can be rotated to my front, allowing easy access!

I’ve tried this setup a couple of times now, and this does feel like a good solution!

Mother and daughter

My first real Street Portrait since I started this project, taken in the first ‘hunt’ of the project. Also my first Street Portrait since at least 8 years, or so.

Roaming a market in Autrans, France, with my family, I was looking for pictures for the family archive, and also for my project, obviously.

In my bag are a couple of primes. The 18, 35 and the 60mm. For this project I think the 35mm will do best, but I’m constantly hesitating: should I go for the 18, or 35mm? I just love the focal length of the 35, so that’s what I put on by default.

“Why didn’t I buy the zoom lenses”. A question I ask myself often, when I go out for a shoot. But then, after the decision has been made, I’m very happy with the quality of the primes, and the aperture possibilities. I love shooting wide open. 1.4 on the 35mm that is. Amazing. Beautiful.

Not today. Way too much sunlight. Perhaps I do need to buy that variable ND filter (yep, I suffer the Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Also, I wanted more dept of field. This candid shooting had to be done quick. And the narrow streets of the market and it’s crowd didn’t allow for easy composing. So better shoot at f8, I decided.

A couple of opportunities presented themselves. But these were gone too quick. So no shot. Then I saw these 2 ladies walking by, mother and daughter, probably. There was no time to change the settings, no time for deciding on the composition. Just <click>…

Fujifilm X-T1, XF35mm1.4, SooC, film simulation Monochrome+R, candid

Never before have I used the fujifilm film simulations. I’ve always used RAW. For this project I decided I wanted to try to use the Monochrome+R filter, next to my RAW.

The photo above is Straight out of Camera (SooC). I actually used the Android app of Fuji to download the photo to my phone, and I’m writing this post on my phone. I love being mobile!

Actually I’m quite pleased with this image for both the content and the processing that is. On my phone (I’m currently on holiday and haven’t got my laptop with Lightroom with me) the Monochrome conversion looks quite nice. I probably want to process the file in Lightroom to give it more contrast (yes, even more), but for now this is cool.

A couple of lessons learned:

  • Pick a focal length and stick with it, or at least stop thinking that another lens might be better. The more I practice, the easier this will be, probably.
  • I could try to make use of zone focusing. This will definitely speed up the making of the shot. This time I had to aim, focus and release. It takes time. Zone focusing is faster. But then again, I love shallow depth of field. It’s hard to do zone focusing at 1.4. But this time it was at f8, so I could have used zone focusing.
  • Horizontal or vertical orientation? I’m struggling with this decision as well. Vertical shots are great when shooting portraits, but not very practical on a monitor. But then again: great when printing…
  • Strap, or strapless? Another love hate relationship. Actually, I hate camera straps. So I never have straps. Never had them in the past either. But it’s a pain if you don’t have them, because there is always a scenario close by, where you need two hands for something else… So sometimes I attach them and give them a try. And then I keep removing them after a couple of hours. I need to sort this out.
  • Also learned: Indeed, I love doing this!

New challenge: Street portraits

A new challenge, a new goal:
I’m going to shoot street portraits, and it will be a long term project.

Photography has had my interest as long as I can remember, although I haven’t spend a lot of time to it in my youth. Then, in 2003 or so I decided to boost my interest and quality by doing a professional photography course.

Until then, I mainly was interested in doing landscapes. And they were terrible.
In the course a wide variety of photography disciplines were handled, which really opened my eyes. I totally forgot about landscapes and I was totally interested in doing portrait shoots. I actually did a lot of portrait shoots, got my own small studio and started doing shoots commercially as a side job. Next were a couple of weddings, which I really enjoyed doing.

But I also enjoyed my day job, being a Business Analyst in IT.
At work I was thinking about the photography clients and when I was doing photography stuff, I was also thinking about all the things I needed to do at the office… In meeting I was actually ‘seeing’ great portraits. The light flattering the attendees of the meeting and I was composing the best portraits I did not shoot.

Also, I did not enjoy photography anymore. I could not get creative like the way I wanted to be. Having clients meant I needed to standardize my workflow to become profitable. But I didn’t want that. I wanted to determine the best shots by looking at the clients. By capturing their inner personality. Not by offering a couple of standardized shots. I’m a bit extreme here, because it has not been really like this, but you’ll get the idea: I did not enjoy my hobby/commercial product anymore.

So in 2009 I decided to stop my photography business. For a long time I did not think of my camera gear. After a while I sold all my heavy Canon gear, the studio strobes and deleted my online presence. I had to take a break.

Obviously, photography was in my blood and it was inevitable my interest would return. It did. I had looked into a small kit, which still offers high quality output, but without a need to go to the gym to be able to lift the bag. I invested in the Fuji X series. First an X-M1 with a couple of fast prime lenses and just last month I upgraded the kit with an X-T1.

Upgrading to the X-T1 was ‘necessary’ because now, in 2017, the photography bug got back from it’s hibernation. I still love photography, but this time I’m not going to restrict myself with paying customers. I want photography to be my hobby so I’ll be able to do whatever I want. For now my interest is focused on street photography and portraits.

To give myself some guidance, I’ve put on this website/blog. I want to do what I want, but still I want to commit to the bug. I love great people, photo’s, being outdoors and to learn new stuff… to challenge myself. So this website is mainly for me; to give my hobby an outlet. And sure, I love the interaction with likeminded people, so please do reach out if you want to ask, comment or whatever.

It would have been easy to grab a photo of from ‘back then’ to set up the blog of this website, but I will not do that. This will be my outlet of my new challenge. And let’s face it, a challenge it is. It has been years without proper shooting, and that is showing. I need to learn to feel the moment again, feel the light, feel the tools. It is not ready at my fingertips. It needs to be re-developed, which is perfectly fine.
So that is what I’m going to do.

I probably will include a few street photos I’ve taken in the past in my portfolio pages, but regarding my blog posts I will use new work only.

For now an easy and posed portrait of my daughter.

Fleur
Fleur, posed, Fujifilm X-T1, XF60mm