Thomas Menk defines himself as a fine art photographer, a designer, a philosopher, a composer, a father, a learner and a human being. He is undoubtedly all of those, but he’s also an official Fujifilm X-Photographer and the curator of a growing and popular collection of links to blog posts and web pages about the Fuji X series of cameras. Based on my interaction with him, he seems to me a soft-spoken, humble gentleman that is not going to be changed by his popularity. If you read his answers, I am sure you will agree with me.
F Stop Lounge: Tell us a bit about you and your photography.
Thomas Menk: I am an entrepreneur with different sectors of activity and companies. Photography was and is my passion since more than 20 years. Through various exhibitions in galleries and in my own gallery my photography work became a lucrative sideline in recent years, so now I need a new hobby :) My focus is in landscape and travel photography. However, I also love street photography – but without people ;-) As a landscape and nature photographer, I think that people even disturb the peace and harmony of the composition. Nevertheless, I find it very nice to find places in towns without people and hold them. Sometimes quite a challenge. Photography is a nice balance to my other activities and I love the luxury of not having to earn my living with this…….
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I am no expert in the politics or issues of my country. Nor am I a pure street photographer. But I do like to tell stories of my country’s people and the city I live in with my images. Now, in my city Johannesburg – Jozi or Joburg as locals call it – we have areas where you would avoid going alone, especially with a camera. But there is a number of good things happing all over the city, thanks to some very cool and interesting projects. I took a few other photographers for a little walk in one of these areas, called the Maboneng Precinct. It is safe, has a good vibe and is a great place for food and social……..
Three weeks ago today I returned from San Francisco, where I spent 5 days on a photography vacation. San Francisco is an amazing city, one I have visited many, many times. Prior to this trip I had been insanely busy with work, family and business and this was an opportunity to be by myself, indulge in my photography, and visit with a close friend who now lives in Silicon Valley. I travelled extremely light, taking only my beloved Fuji X100s and a small travel tripod. I will be making a blog post about that travel kit, which will be accompanying me from now on when I travel. I actually have many blog posts to make from this trip, but for now I wanted to share 20 of my favourite images I took that week. These are in no particular order, and some will be the foundation of future blog posts….
It all started in July 2013 when I bought a Fuji X100s. Apart from being a gorgeous camera, it has amazing image quality and portability. I’ve been babbling on about it on these pages for a while. For what I shoot, when I shoot, it does a fantastic job. I recently printed the final image from this post on fine art paper at 13″ x 19″ and it is gorgeous! So I was reviewing the pictures I’d taken through the last 6 months of the 2013, and I realized that I hardly touched the D800E. It was a rapidly depreciating asset that I almost never used. With the addition of the teleconverters for the X100s, The only thing I needed the Nikon for was long lens work or super wide angle stuff. I also came to realize that 36MP is overkill for my needs. I decided to take to leap and sell the Nikon and most of the glass. Because of my experience with the little Fuji, I wanted to replace it with a small, light CSC that could go super wide and long to cover what I needed the Nikon for, but in a smaller package. I was going to stay with Fuji because I now knew it and was comfortable with the processing workflow, which is a very important consideration. I also want a viewfinder. I will always want a viewfinder. Always. So, given the extensive range of interchangeable compact cameras they do, how do I decide…….
Eigentlich war der Plan super. Wir fahren bis Bao Lac und steigen um in den Bus nach Meo Vac, unserem Ziel. Sieht auf der Karte aus wie ein Katzensprung. Wir kommen so spät an, dass es an diesem Tag nirgendwo mehr hingeht, denn leider gibt es keine Busverbindung zwischen diesen Orten und auch per Anhalter will uns niemand mitnehmen. Wir mieten uns ein Zimmer. Ein sehr, sehr schlechtes, denn nachts beginnt das große Krabbeln, das Fenster lässt sich nicht schließen und das Bett ist älter als wir beide zusammen. Ich schlafe trotzdem gut, aber leider niemand sonst, was nach dem Aufwachen etwas Ärger nach sich zieht. Am nächsten Tag landen wir durch Zufall im Haus einer Bauunternehmer-Familie und nach einigen Runden verhandeln, ignorieren, Schnaps und anschweigen fährt uns ein Jeep nach Meo Vac im äußersten Nordosten Vietnams……
I’m having fun playing with the Rollei 35, a 45-year-old film camera that I bought recently for $75. To my delight, the darn thing actually works and works quite well too. It’s a total throwback, technology wise, and very different from shooting digital. But how does its image quality compare to modern digital cameras? Well, I just happened to have my Fujifilm X100S with me as I shot the Rollei. There’s a lot of things I can compare but I’m concentrating on image quality, particularly the colors. Under almost every metric, the X100S is going to be easier and more versatile. Its computer controlled metering, focusing and feedback allows me to shoot most any scene with ease. And as you may know, the X100S is my most used camera since March. But recently, I’ve realized that film has some very nice color properties. So how does film and the X100S compare? …..
At last …. Heading out to the Lake District taking the camper I knew I would be able to find the perfect time and location for a spot of long exposure shooting. The plan was to stick faithfully to the 1Camera1Lens project however I was not able to take the normal 35mm Fujifilm XE1 combination after finding out that the sensor in this camera was very dirty. I have never cleaned a sensor before so I ordered a lens cleaning kit and waited for delivery. Unfortunately it turned up on the day we were due to leave for Lake Holiday. I did not want to rush this procedure for fear of damaging my XE 1. I took the decision to leave the XE1 at home and take the Fujifilm X100. (My old sole mate). The 10stop Hoya filter will fit all of my lenses as I have a group of conversion rings so I can swap 39mm up to 52mm if needed. So how did it go take a look after the page break…….
In the summer of 1982 I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, as a U.S. Marine. My unit trained in mainland a couple times per year, giving me the opportunity to visit Tokyo. It was this point in my life that I discovered photography, and purchased my first 35mm SLR camera, a Yashica if I remember right. The city was a never ending playground for photography, and I went through many rolls of film, learning to use my new toy. Looking back now I wish that I had taken more photos……..
Just came back home to L.A. after 3 weeks in Italy and France. Had a fantastic time and loved every moment of the culture, food, architecture and history. Only brought the X100S plus three batteries and could not have been more pleased. Here are a few images from Italy and I’ll post some shots from France when I can go through them. Thanks for looking! Note: The Pompeii tattoo image is on the arm of our tour guide in front of the tattoos location with Mt.Vesuvius in the background. She was born in the area and is an archeologist who has excavated Pompeii. Her knowledge was immense and an incredible guide and I thought it would be fun to capture this image. The image of the large painted flower door with two rusting rings is from Venice. I thought it looked liked John Lennon……