Kids of the Congo

A few days ago I wrote a post on my personal facebook which said

Back in 2012 I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo documenting work with ex-combatants. One of the things I learned was how lucky we (in the west) are being able to plan our lives and having some idea of the future vs their living a day to day life. Following that 2012 trip I thought had managed to reduce my planning to a minimum and lived a fairly free unplanned life (compared to many). I now realise what a complete fallacy that was. This morning its obvious that all of the plans I have made, (we have made), work, trips, financial planning, investment have all gone out of the window. 

I illustrated the post with an image of young boys playing with simply made spinning tops at an IDP camp at the village of Karonja on the outskirts of Masisi .

The post got number of comments and requests to see more of the work I did there so this afternoon I have had a quick look back through the trip and pulled out a set of images not of the work I did there for the client but images of (mainly) children that followed me around where I was working and posed for the camera.

These images were not created with any journalistic or other intent other than to show the people in them.

Technical Note: These images were created with either a Nikon D700 or a Fuji X100 (original model).

Goodbye Stirling

People that know me well know I am a petrol-head

It will probably come as no surprise that I met and photographed Stirling Moss a few times. One of my most prized possessions is a biography of him I “borrowed” from my father, it’s probably the first biography I ever read and I still have it – have had it for over 40 years now. I regret not having the courage to ask him to sign it when I last met him (I had it in the bag and had carried it around all day).

These 4 pictures were taken on the celebration of his 80th year at Goodwood Festival of speed. A wonderful man. I’m a bit surprised but I did shed a tear when I read the headline…

Goodbye Stirling… Rest in peace The best driver ever not to be champion… he put loyalty before prizes..a lesson there for us all I think…

All my work has been cancelled! What Now?

The last few weeks have been difficult and it is about to get a whole lot tougher! What now?

During February I flew to Los Angeles to cover The Oscars and then to Berlin to cover Berlinale (The Berlin Film Festival). I then used a loan GFX50R on a photoshoot for a band. I had also covered the March4Women on International Women’s day and the 50th Mark Kermode in 3D at the BFI. I had planned that the next 5 or 6 posts were to be about these trips, shoots and the camera but events have overtaken us somewhat and I feel that maybe there are other, more pressing, words to be written. (The other posts will follow).

Stars and activists gather #March4Women this International Women’s Day for gender equality and climate justice on Sunday 8 March 2020. X-T3 / 16-55 + 2 * Godox AD200 for Fill

Like (almost) every other photographer I have seen my work diary empty, rather rapidly it must be said and I now have nothing booked. Obviously this crisis will come to an end and photographs/photographers will be needed again, hopefully the portrait bookings I had will re-book and there is the glimmer that Festival de Cannes will be moved to the summer (oh damn 2 weeks in the French Riviera in the Summer!) As I said above, but what NOW?

Only one person in the shop please. X-T3 / 27mm

As a press photographer the obvious thing is to go out and report on the carnage. The Shops, the queues, the goods shortages but then there are so many doing that.

Watching a Classic Film, Le Mans : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 800ISO

I want to take a different tack. So many photographers have written on Social Media in despair, with no income what can they do? I want to suggest some different ideas to keep ourselves occupied and whilst these ideas may not solve the immediate financial problems, they will at least help with the future.

Reading West is West by Sarah Lee. : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 1000ISO

First up – don’t sit doing nothing worrying. “Satan finds some mischief still for idle Hands to do” – as I see it the less we do the more we worry and these are worrying times.

The world will without doubt change, work will without doubt change. I personally cannot see it becoming a financially stronger world but maybe as people start to realise what actually matters to them. My hope is it will become a culturally stronger world.

Try to put that aside. Use your creative talents to add to (what I hope to be) this culturally stronger world. There are so many things we, as photographers can be doing right now, to strengthen our position for when the crisis does end. There are so many other things to photograph than shelves devoid of toilet rolls. Need Ideas?

Too much social media may be a bad thing, but it also may be a positive. : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 1000ISO
  • For how long have you put off updating your website? Now is the time!
  • Don’t understand social media? Learn!
  • Lots of old images that are just languishing on your disk? Edit & Upload them to a stock library!
  • Think video maybe the way forward? Time to learn to light, shoot and edit video!

A quick note on the stock library idea: I know not everyone is a fan of libraries or agencies but at the moment, each month I get regular income from images I have shot over the past 12 years, this income will help hugely during the next few months.

A Pub Sunday lunch delivered! (Thank you Brunswick and Thorn)! : X-T3 / 14mm

The thing is, right now time is the one thing we have plenty of, so don’t rush these jobs, take your time, vary your day, tackle a task then get an old (or new) photo book down for inspiration. Then move on to the next small task. There is no rush the moment!

Supporting local businesses : A Pub Sunday lunch delivered! : X-T3 / 14mm

I’m doing all of these things but I am also doing a personal project: We as photographers always point our cameras out, at others and we defend ferociously our right to do so in public. So during this time I am pointing it inwards, documenting our home life, how we are living, what changes we are having to make to get through this. There is so much to document!

Too much social media may be a bad thing, but it also may be a positive. : X-T3 / 14mm @ F2.8 / 1000ISO

It’s not a vanity project, its warts and all!

Ok no warts but not exactly flattering! Home Exercise! X-T3 / 14mm (Interval timer)

I’m sure every photographer, if they think about it, can find something at home to photograph to make a project, either inside or in the garden. Home-working, family, there are so many subjects.

Don’t be idle and send me your links, ideas and work.. In times of crisis it helps to talk to others … Stay Strong!

J xx

Berlin Wall

With one more week to go of February I can look back on a bit of a “mad month”. Awards season is over and it saw me shooting at the The Critics Circle Awards, the BAFTA’s, the Oscars and this week I am in Berlin for 10 days covering Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : iPhone 11 Pro Max

I need to write about the awards and especially The Oscars but today I felt compelled to write a small entry after visiting The Wall so this entry is slightly unusual, having no technical point in addition to having photos shot on the iPhone in addition to those shot on Fuji.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8 @F8

This morning, between photocalls, I had a couple of hours spare and as it is not even 15 minutes walk away, I headed over to The Wall. Although I have visited Berlin a number of times over the years on business, I have never managed to make time to visit. To say I found the experience moving is an understatement and I plan to go back later in the week when I have more time.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8 @F8

Although I was not directly affected, I remember the “night” the wall came down very clearly. At the time I was a “photography enthusiast” living in Crawley in my first house. Next door lived a single guy who was (shock horror) a press photographer. I must admit, I was probably a nightmare neighbour always asking questions about assignments and kit. I can’t remember his name for the life of me and I sometimes wonder what happened to him and wether we have met since without realising.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : iPhone 11 Pro Max

With expectations that thew wall was to come down that day, he was flown to Berlin that day to document the night the wall fell. We chatted a few days later, with him showing me images shot on an ultra-wide “I really got in their faces” he said.

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8

I remember feeling jealous and how I wanted his job….. I got there in the end ….

The Berlin Wall Monument on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8

Reminders of the wall are dotted about the city, this segment within 5 minutes walk of the festival hub in PotsdamerPlaz..

The Berlin Wall Segment on Sunday 23 February 2020 : X-T3 + 27mm/2.8

Visiting the wall not only reminded me of that conversation though, it brought back memories of the divided time which I grew up, of east and west. Despite my best intentions always to keep politics and beliefs from my work and this blog, I could not help but worry that maybe as I head into later life and I watch my son forge his future that we are headed back into divided times.

I sincerely hope not.

ShutterSnitch Metadata Editor – A quick look

The last two posts on mobile workflow have raised a few questions from readers on how I deal with metadata. I thought I had dealt with it in previous posts (admittedly a long while back) but re-reading them it seems I had not covered everything.

Therefore this is just a quick overview. I am actually looking at running a course or two on this mobile workflow in the UK this year in conjunction with theBPPA. If you are interested, please let me know and I will send out booking information if and when…

A quick apology for the image I have used in this post – it was all I had on the iPad at the point I outlined this post.

From our last post we are at a point where there is a collection of images in ShutterSnitch either with or without metadata in the title field.

The first issue is, where do we start with our data? Can we start with Photomechanic? The answer to this is yes we can. I export the XMP from PM into Dropbox and then on the iPAD, export the file into ShutterSnitch.

Select file in DropBox / Export / Copy to Shutter / Create a Preset

The i Icon on the top toolbar switches ShutterSnitch to the Metadata Editor.

The Metadata Editor

As shown in the above images there are a number of options along the lower screen. The left-most tool is the Preset Editor

The choices are just to select a preset or use the Edit button to edit the presets available (the usual iOS left swipe to delete) or click to edit. Hold down to duplicate an existing preset.

The blue circle tick to the right indicates wether the field is applied in the preset, so if using the title field from Lightroom this would be unticked next to the Title/Object Name. Notice the %%titleObject%% – this is a variable, much the same as the Photomechanic variables although they are named differently.

If using Photomechanic , the variables will need replacing. There are far fewer in ShutterSnitch. They may be accessed from the tool hi-lighted above. Below is a typical preset driven by the Title/Object Name field with the date automatically added also.

Note: It does not seem possible to add variables into the keywords at the moment.

Headline, Caption, Keywords and other metadata in the preset.

If driving the Title / Object Name from Lightroom, the above preset could be applied to all images when selected and a quick check as you flick through will reveal all of the fields set.

Once the preset is created, other tools are available in the editor. Quick select strings (which are field sensitive, so create them in the Title field if that is where you plan to insert them) may be created and selected.

This enables a list to be built, maybe copying and pasting from a website before the event

Use Split Screen on the iPAD to Copy/Paste into Quick Select Strings

The final options are Shortcodes.

Press and hold to edit the available lists. Creating new Sets and editing are fairly straightforward.

In use Shortcodes are slightly less usable than in Photomechanic as after entering the code (however many letters you use), the Icon (tee-shirt) needs a quick click for the software to expand the code to it’s full length. Shortcodes do, however save on spelling errors and incorrectly titled subjects.

All that is left after adding the metadata is to send using FTP or other Actions which are well covered towards the end of this post.

There are many more options are settings but hopefully this will get you moving. As always, please ask any questions in the comments to that others can also learn.

Lightroom Mobile 5.1 Workflow & Exporting

Last week I wrote about importing photos into Lightroom directly from the camera/card. This week I will continue with the next stage of my workflow. Yes I have written so much about iPAD workflows, this is because unlike my Mac workflow, my iPAD workflow is continually evolving as the software and platform develops.

The result of last week’s post was a named album of images for a project. All with just the basic copyright metadata and no other information.

My iPAD Pro is fitted with the keyboard cover and I also use the pencil with it. These 2 additions make important improvements to the workflow.

The first step is to pause the syncing (in fact I do this before the import as it is safer if the images are on the iPad only). Next enable a filter – to show only unflagged photos.

Click on the first picture and switch to edit mode. If the image is to be rejected hit the X key (just as in the desktop version). Due to the filter, the image will be hidden and the next image displayed.

If the image is a keeper, adjust as required, switch to the metadata view (the i icon) and type the basic subject in the title. (this will be picked up later – if many are the same, use cmd-c to copy the text to be pasted into the next image). Switch back to edit and press p to select (tap in the image area). The image is flagged and the next image is displayed (due to the filter).

Repeat until no images remain.

What happens next depends on your requirements. Maybe switch the filter to rejected, select them all and delete before un-pausing the sync to upload the images to the cloud and desktop.

To transmit the images to the newspapers or agencies, switch the filter to display flagged images only. These are the keepers.

Note: As an aside, the fastest way I have found to select all the displayed images is to hold down on a single image until it is selected, then click the box in the upper left corner. It changes from a minus sign to a tick. The share button can now be clicked to export the images.

Each export option contains it’s own settings which are far more detailed than in previous releases. Use the More Options to expand the settings. As each has it’s own settings it is now possible (for example) to configure the Save to Camera Roll to save a smaller image with a watermark suitable for social media whilst the Share To… option exports an image suitable to newspapers

For Social Media
For newspapers via shuttersnitch

Another big step forward is the share to now enables a direct export to a shuttersnitch collection.

I will not go into detail into shuttersnitch again as I have covered it so many times in detail. However I will show that the Title we added in Lightroom Mobile has indeed transferred and if used carefully, the metadata presets can build a full caption.. I will go into the shuttersnitch metadata editor in the next post.

A preset without a title but with a caption built from the title and capture time….
Image with caption

Once captioned the image are sent using the relevant action(s). See here for exporting actions…

This workflow shows images coming direct from the camera into Lightroom, on to the end recipient without hitting the photos app once, make the whole process faster and easier to manage.

Let me know your thoughts, I would like to hear from you.

Julie