Along with digital photography came a new way of thinking. Old concepts and designs were abandoned and new, high-tech designs emerged. I remember recently talking to someone who had just bought the latest SLR and started reading the manual. He was in awe – his camera could take photos even faster than he could blink his eye. His camera could make movies, share photos, communicate with devices, design photo albums … the list went on and on. This camera could do it all but … at a cost. Light, composition and subject were moved to one side – they were no longer relevant. It was the camera that had now become the centre of attention. Menus, options, pixels and speed were the new game in town. And we all started playing it. As a result, we used large cameras with unintuitive, complicated and cluttered menus. We learned to fiddle with the camera in order to set up something that should be at your palm, like the shutter speed or aperture. We got used to a shutter click that might have given my grandma a heart attack and certainly all the wildlife racing for the horizon. We got used to the way these cameras were made and we stopped asking for better. Then the Fuji X100 arrived. This camera could happen because those who designed it started from scratch. They didn’t want another “me too” SLR-like product. And it became an instant classic. We (photographers) suddenly woke up and knew what was missing and how things should be……
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Yesterday, I had the XF23mm lens to use and I made the first group of photos. Today, I had to return it to Fujifilm Canada, so I switched to my X100s to make the images in the second group. Although, I doubt that there is any difference in image quality, I did notice a big difference in working with the XP1, with the XF23mm lens, and the X100s. First of all, I love having the distance scale on the lens barrel of the XF23mm. Yesterday, I adjusted distance and aperture frequently without looking in the viewfinder, just by looking at the lens markings. Nice. Also, I missed the faster shutter speed available with the first camera/lens combo over the X100s. As I was working by shooting my first shot at f/8.0 and in focus and the second shot as wide open as I could, I frequently was shooting at f/4.0 today, when yesterday I was shooting at f/2.0 or 2.8. This resulted in a very big difference in depth of field. To be honest, I don’t know if one set of images is better than the other, but it was surprising how different the shooting experience was from the XF23mm to the X100s. OK. Back to making photos……..
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For me a huge part of photography and in finding a personal style is in learning how to see. It’s something that’s not easy and takes some time to figure out. Earlier I was focused on learning how to use the camera and different lenses, I was focused on learning different processing styles and I was learning how to edit my photos. Through all the practicing I was also learning how to see. I’m constantly in the process of learning how to see and really learning how ‘I’ see. Learning how ‘I’ see is what’s most important to me because it’s how I believe my personal style will come about. It will be my unique take on the world and the things and people who I photograph. Often I will just go out to shoot and just photograph what catches my eye but there are some moments when I will not take a single picture and just watch people. I’ll take some pictures with my eyes and mind to practice, to think about and understand why I noticed something or why I would take a picture of it or what angle and framing I would use to best capture a scene or moment. At times it’s just observing to get inspired to even shoot a person in the environment or a detail that speaks to me. The question I continue to ask myself is “Why?”. Why take this picture? Why am I attracted to certain people and things? What’s my message? Why does it interest me? Even when I go through others photographs I’ll ask this question to myself. Why do I like it? Why did they take the photo? Why that angle? I’ll ask why with regards to possible camera settings and possible focal lengths. This also really helps me to learn more about myself and also the photographer who took the photo. There are other factors in finding my personal style like the cameras I use, the settings I use, the quality of light I use, and many others but I think that learning how “I” see is at the top of the list. I feel that as I continue to learn, experiment and figure this out that my style will continue to evolve and grow but I also feel that it’s such a rewarding experience because it is such a challenge…..
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We have driven along the Oregon Coast several times in the past few years. Unfortunately, each time we encountered blue skies and strong sun, which in our view didn’t do justice to the beauty of this magnificent place. Finally, this time we had one morning during which the coastal scenery presented itself at its best. Patches of fog blanketed giant rock structures, which occasionally received a larger dose of filtered light. As usual, I took a few initial exposures and checked all the data on our Fuji X-Pro1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8 and Fuji X100s. The cameras were choosing apertures between 5.6 and 8 with shutter speeds fast enough for me to shoot from the hand. This allowed me to walk around freely, letting the camera do all the technical work. I could keep all my attention on the beautiful scenery, composition and light. Even in a place of such a beauty, one requires concentration and focus. Maybe it is just me but my approach to photography is very personal and methodical. While taking photos I like to concentrate on a subject, visualize and compose it in my mind before I take out my camera. If taken seriously, this mental effort doesn’t tolerate any distractions – whether it is a discussion, loud noise or even a telephone conversation. Not only did we walk around, climbing some rocks to find a different perspective, but also worked hard to eliminate “waste” from the frame. In most cases, it requires walking back and forth (we shoot primes only), sometimes repeatedly to make the right decision. I don’t press the shutter button until I am confident this is the photo I want to capture…..
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Sitting on the edge of a misty lake, a saw mill waits to be demolished. During a recent road trip, a friend suggested a location that I might find interesting. She was right! Together, we explored an abandoned saw mill. Rain poured down. Inside, light pierced the darkness. Outside, discarded remnants of former working lives lay at acute angles. It was a fascinating place to photograph and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity before it is destroyed….
Notes: All photos shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and the XF18-55mm lens…
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There are many ways in which people may be described as fighters and in the world of boxing there are no shortage of them. Wayne Smith is one of a smaller proportion of those people who could be labelled a fighter for very different reasons. A boxer since his teenage years, Wayne suffered a devastating injury early in his career; an injury which would have debilitated most people. Being a fighter, Wayne, now in his forties, has overcome numerous issues relating to his injuries and returned to boxing to share his experience as a coach at Golden Gloves gym in Dingle. From the age of 9, Wayne was introduced to boxing when his father took him to watch The Rumble in the Jungle. From that point on, he was hooked. By his late teens, Wayne had been boxing at amateur schoolboy, junior and senior levels. His ambitions turned towards boxing as a professional and so he began sparring with professional boxers. His coach at the time said he had everything it took to become a professional, but was just lacking his ‘man strength’ and sent him away for a year to develop….
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For Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans dominos represent a favorite past time for the men and women who play this game. This table had a mix of all the aforementioned nationalities and their concentration was palpable in the air. Its the Latin chess, its the way of the Latin man and one that’s wholeheartedly embraced and passed on to future generations, its quintessentially a latin tradition ― dominos.
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Learning to play guitar is road travelled by many but mastered by only a select few. It is an enduring journey where an obsession with the fine detail is the only route to success. Like mastering playing the guitar the actual construction of an acoustic guitar is an art form in its own right. Unlike playing the instrument few learn how to make a guitar and fewer still master the craft. Avalon Guitars in Newtownards is home to some of the finest guitar luthiers in the world, this bold statement isn’t mine but the endorsement of a number of the world’s best guitar players. I have been visiting the Avalon guitar factory for over twenty years and the same faces remain, masters of the fine detail they are the unseen artists behind many of the best guitarists and singer songwriters…..
Camera wise I started jumping between the X-Pro1 with 35mm lens and the X-E1 equipped with the 60mm macro. I was shooting wide open (f/1.4 and f/2.4 respectively) in an attempt to create focal points to each image. I was shooting RAW and converting each image to mono to draw out the detail of the woodgrain.
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