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.

<Click>

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.

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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.

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!