XF 60 approaching

This week I did not do a lot of shooting. Too engaged with other stuff. I did call Fuji repair service…

The XF60, which is in repair, I did not hear of yet after weeks. I called Fuji repair and was told I can expect an email today or tomorrow. That was a week ago. So Thursday I called again. Same story… Friday I called again starting with sharing the information they provided earlier. They told me the email would be send within minutes. They did: eur 98,- for the repair and shipping. I approved.

Now waiting for the save return of my ‘portrait lens of choice’.

I haven’t used the XF60 a lot lately. I used to love it, as I like the 35mm. I used your use it for portraiture primarily. The XF35 I used as an allrounder, including environmental portraits. I’m really curious if this will change when I get the 60 back from repair. Maybe I’ll stick with the 35mm for now.

The last couple of days it was raining. Autumn is coming. I love it. It’s such a special mood. Wind, rain, getting cold, but not too cold. Of all seasons I like Autumn best. And sure, I don’t like getting wet when in the rain, but with proper clothes, who cares!

Just a couple of last days. Nothing too fancy. Just some moments.
Again, all shot with the X-T1 and the XF35mm.

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Lazy sunday

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This was an easy one. No appointments today.
That is actually rare. So we had a slow start. Some exercises, a black coffee, a long hot shower, a lunch and then we drove off to get our heads into nature.

Amazing how the kids react to this. Amazing how we react to this. To feel the energy levels rising. And for that matter, this was just a couple of kilometers/miles. Nothing too fancy. But still. We love getting out in nature to stock the energy levels and luckily the kids love getting out as well.

All shot with the X-T1 and the XF35mmF1.4

 

Non existing photo #1: She was walking the dog.

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The photo mentioned in this article has never been taken.

She was walking the dog.
A woman in her late 70’s. Ash gray, long hair. Blue padded coat. Small dog, brown leather leash. The sun lit her hair and shoulders gently from the left.

The X-T1 is set to Monochrome+R, the black and white setting mimicking a ‘Red filter’. Using the spot metering EV+1 on her face, creates a clear, pale skin and slightly blown out highlight, just the way I like the highlights to be. In this case the blown out highlights are a small portion of her hair and shoulder, just enough to create a clear separation between the lady and the dark background. ISO 200, aperture 1.4, or 1.8 on the XF35mm. In the out of focus background, you can vaguely recognize some small trees and bushes. 1/180. She ran her fingers through her hair on the right side, looking towards Lynn and Fleur, next to me.

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But it didn’t.
I did not have a camera with me.

The scenario above is what happened to me this morning. But it could have happened almost every day. Every time I remind myself to bring a camera. Every time I think: ‘Well, I’m just going to <insert mundane activity here>. Nothing worth photographing is going to happen while doing this. Wrong!

And so, this morning I was bringing the kids to school when it happened again. This was the shot I should have taken. The street portrait I’m constantly looking for. One to be satisfied with. One to add to my portfolio. One for the project.
But I couldn’t because I didn’t bring a camera with me…

This happens a lot. But bringing the camera alone, does not make it happen. There’s also the thing of ‘being in the mood’ and using the camera.

Having a packed agenda means not only that you’ve got a lot to do, but it also means that in between ‘the tasks’ I’m constantly thinking about the stuff. And don’t get me wrong, I love the things I’m doing. And I also love thinking about these things when in between tasks. Well, most of them anyways. Some of the household tasks I might just get used to, not doing them, but to be fair it’s all manageable. Family, work and photography related stuff… please keep ’em coming 🙂 I love thinking and acting on that. I really do.

However, this means that I’m constantly engaged, my mind that is.
So freeing my mind to see the photos that can be taken, is actually quite difficult. This is what I want to start doing. And this is what I was talking about in my previous blog post, regarding Trent Parke. Being more open to see.

And no, I’m not disappointed. For me there’s no NEED to take the photo. It’s a hobby and being able to do this is what I like. Identifying the scenario described above is also a step in the right direction. Being aware. Continuous improvement.

Routine again? Not quite there yet.

Back to school. Back to work.
The kids are back at school. After 5 days of school, they didn’t even want the weekend off: We want to go to school daddy! The girls already have their own tablet for a couple of years now, at home. Old ones I used to have. This year, my eldest daughter (7) started using a tablet at school. She loves it. Probably they will turn into gadget freaks like me.

From a photography perspective it was a quiet week for me. Not shooting much. A little.
Posting some questions regarding printer settings and whether or not to convert to .dng, for archival purposes. Trying to optimize the workflow. Still need to run through 7000+ images in Lightroom, as a housekeeping task. I’ll get there. Amazing to see the stuff you’ve done, the style you used to have; how you’re evolving. Nice. Embrace change.

This time my ever ongoing research; my hunger for inspiration has let me to Trent Parke. I recall doing some research on him years ago when I was taking my photography course, in 2006 or so. His work really got to me. I loved his images, the feeling it evoked. High contrast black and white. Really gritty stuff. I haven’t thought about him for years.
Just a couple of days ago I stumbled upon some article of him. Found an impressive documentary on him. I recall seeing it in 2006. It still inspires me like crazy. Looking forward to buying a book of this guy, probably ‘Minutes to midnight‘. I would love to have that one.

Trent works on multiple projects. Taking a massive amount of pictures, every day. He admits spending more than 100 rolls of film to get an iconic shot. Amazing.

Trent inspires me to work on series. I’ve already started doing that, with my ‘Slices’ project, but Trent makes me want to work harder. He inspires me to take bring my camera more often and to take way more photos.

Below some slices of the last couple of days, all taken with the X-T1 and the XF35mm1.4 lens.  I really want to work on my skills to create a series of related photos and on the story telling part. In progress…

3rd party inspiration #3: Steve McCurry

This Sunday my good friend Niels and I went to an exposition of Steve McCurry in Helmond, The Netherlands. I just love the work of Steve and I’m a fan of his work for years now.

A couple of years ago he gave a presentation in Amsterdam. Another friend notified me on the event, but I couldn’t get a ticket anymore. Fully booked. I ‘compensated’ this by buying a couple of his books, hardcover and a nice large format. I used to browse the books and put the book opened on a specific page on display in my living room. I actually mounted a bookshelf specifically for this purpose. I would change the page every couple of weeks. Such an inspiration, both the stories of Steve and his photos.

The exposition showed 132 of his photos, printed big, and mounted in black, wooden frames, which were beautifully light by a carefully placed spotlight. Amazing!

As we all know, photography is about emotion. It’s about the feeling it evokes. A lot of the photos I saw triggered a good feeling in me. A feeling of the beauty in the world. Or a feeling of hope. Sometimes this feels odd, because of the terrible circumstances of the subjects. I think that’s why I relate to the photos of Steve. I’m also focused on the good, the positive and the beautiful things around me / in this world. And even when the situation is not too nice, I’m always looking to make the most of the situation.

At some point I notice that some photos didn’t work quite well for me. For some it was the content / the subject and that’s fine, right? We can’t like everything. But I also noticed that some other photos did not work for me because of the technique, or actually the quality of the prints.
Most of the images contain some amount of noise/grain. This makes the scene a bit soft. It gives the photo some specific mood. Like a dream, or a memory being recalled.

Some other photos did not contain noise/grain. For me, these photos were just too clean. Too sharp. Too much details. Too much dynamic range. Too realistic. Too perfect.
Flawless.

This doesn’t work for me at all. These kind of photos do not evoke the emotion that the other photos of Steve do evoke. These photos being too perfect, did not resonate within me as the others did. Quite interesting!

One of the first images I made with my first Fujifilm camera, the X-M1, I loved instantly. Accidentally, I’ve set the ISO to 2000. I had put the XF35mm (also new to me) on and I was very curious about the shallow depth of field the lens could produce. I was curious about the bokeh. I think it is still my favorite photo of my wife. Partly because of de grain, the shallow DOF and the feeling of the details being ‘filtered’. I just love this ‘filtered reality’, the mood it evokes.

Eye Contact
Fujifilm X-M1, XF35mm

I’ve been aware of this for years. I’ve embedded this style in my post processing so that I can decide if I want to apply this mood, and how much of it I want to apply. Seeing the photos of Steve printed big, side by side made me realize even more why I don’t like photos that are just too clean, too perfect.

Now I’m going to think about this. How am I going to use this awareness in my own photography style. I know myself. This will be a lot of thinking, visualizing and doing the actual tests in camera.

Looking forward to it!

Rhythm. time. balance.

The kids are still enjoying the seemingly never ending holiday.
This means all kind of things… Lots of time, but then again: no time at all. Totally no rhythm and definitely no balance. Days packed with activities and being bored at the same time. Moods shifting from great joy to sadness in just a couple of seconds. An emotional rollercoaster. Next week school starts again.

 

 

XF60mm needs repair

Last Friday I had to send my XF60mm2.4mm in for repair.
Something’s wrong with the aperture ring. I can’t set it to wide open. If I do, the camera behaves as if it is set to “Automatic Aperture” (P-Mode) and it will select an aperture itself.

This was going on for a while now, for F2.4. That was annoying, but lately I could not set it to F3.6 or wider. Since most of the time I’m shooting wide open, or close to that, this was not acceptable anymore and so I contacted Fujifilm.

It’ll probably not be back for at least 4 weeks or so…
Hoping on a save return. I really love that lens.

Also I’m really curious about the repair costs, since it is out of warranty.
I’ll keep you posted.

 

Slices of the holidays

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Some fond memories of our 3 week holiday in Autrans, France. We truly had a great time. Our girls, Lynn & Fleur, enjoyed themselves the whole day, making new friends at the playground or the swimming pool. Or we were hiking some cool mountain path, or exploring an ancient french village. When the kids were at the playground, my wife and I actually could read a book. That’s been a while.

The kids grow up really fast. I love seeing them develop their own style. That makes me really proud. It also makes me sad, sometimes, to notice how fast this all is happening. They are developing in such a rapid pace. Where’re my little girls?

Just after the holiday I bought 3 photo books and a printer. These photo’s will be included in the book so we can trigger our memories in the future.

Why I bought my own printer

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Years back, I used to have a photo printer. It was an Epson R1800. It was a decent printer. It was my first photo printer. I learned A LOT of printing. About different papers, ICC profiles, resizing, sharpening for print, proofing, wasting paper, wasting ink, the price of ink…

But I also learned I love printing myself. Being able to hold the photo. I love the matte papers, especially matte papers with a lot of texture. I love the ease of just printing one photo, because I don’t want to place an order with a photo lab for just one print. And most of the time the photo labs do not offer the paper type I love for smaller prints, like 20×30.

So when I picked up on my photography hobby again I soon wanted to invest in a photo printer. I did some research online and decided to want an Epson SC-P600. A really great printer, so it seemed. But I was still a bit hesitant. For a couple of months it lingered in my mind. That’s when I stumbled upon the following post of Kevin Mullins, a fantastic wedding photographer, and I decided to buy my own printer.

 

Reset – Return – Add project.

We just returned from the family holiday. Three full weeks in a tent in Autrans, France. Such a luxury. Such a great time.

Besides the activities with the family, I did a lot of reading. And thinking.
I’m a person who can get really inside my head. Thinking about a lot of things, but all good. Just filled with energy. In a couple of weeks I’m starting with a new job at the office and I’m really looking forward to it. So that was in my head, sometimes. But most of the time I really did not think of work at all and thought about my family and photography. How to keep at ease when we’re returning of the holidays. Spending lots of time in nature, is one way to stay energized. The other thing is to do what you love, and in my case that’s photography and kayaking.

This blog is about my photography: Street Photography and Street portraits. I love it.
However, I find it difficult to be on the streets often enough to shoot on a regular basis. To be clear: I’m keeping the project, but the current progress isn’t giving me sufficient satisfaction. I’m commuting on a daily basis by car, which is great, but it does not get me ‘in to the city’ as public transportation would. I’m thinking of ways to adjust my thoughts on this, because there are other ways to capture street portraits and probably as well the way I’m commuting. I’m sure the output will increase soon.

But when I was thinking about this, another idea came to mind: create an additional project which does give daily opportunity. Luckily I’m with my family often. The family calendar is full. So why not capture daily live; the mundane. I’m going to commit to an additional project.

There are lots of way to document family live / daily live. I’ve given this quite some thoughts when on holiday. I’m not interested in capturing grand, precise and clear summaries of what I’m doing. I’m thinking more about triggers for my memory. Small slices of what I’m experiencing, what I see, what I feel. I want to capture those as a small series as well. That’s why, for now, I’ll call the project ‘Slices’.

A couple of examples which I made the last couple of weeks, all taken with the X-T1 and the XF35mm1.4, processed in Lightroom. I’m trying some new style here. This style is totally different then I’ve done before. The high contrast, black & white, very gritty style I’ve used most of the time, I’ll keep on using. But for this project it feels too harsh.
So I’ve tried to process in a more subtle way. Bit of muted style. Not sure if I’ll include black & white and color, or that I’ll stick with one type. Still fine tuning both processing styles, but I’m rather pleased with this muted look, so I’m close to capturing it as a preset.

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.