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.

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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…

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. 

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/

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