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).

Assignments Live: Alan Crowhurst followed by John Downing’s Legacy

All I would like to hilight this talk that is open to BPPA members and non-members.  

First up is Alan. Alan Crowhurst is an award-winning horseracing photographer contracted to Getty Images. His life has always involved racing, his grand father was a racecourse bookmaker. In this interview Alan talks about growing up in Brighton, taking up photography, his passion for his profession, what it takes to get an award-winning ‘Crowhurst’ shot and his hopes for the future. 

Image by Alan Crowhurst

Following Alan, John Downing’s son Bryn Downing will present “Behind the Lens” , a 30 minute film on his father John Downing. 

After the film a slideshow of John’s images alongwith the stories to go with them told by Hazel Thompson . Hazel has known John for 20 years, working with him on his “Legacy” book. 

If you are unaware of John’s work – do a quick google and you will realise his impact on photojournalism as well as being a foundering member of theBPPA … 

This will be a great evening … and is FREE!!!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/assignments-live-alan-crowhurst-followed-by-john-downings-legacy-registration-78086253085

Primes for the Prime Minister

I am just back from 3 weeks of party political events, photographing the autumn conferences of our largest political parties; starting with the Liberal Democrats in Bournemouth, moving on to Labour in Brighton before finishing up with the Conservatives in Manchester.

It’s a gradual build up of importance culminating in the Prime Ministers speech – arguably the most important event of the 3 weeks (especially this year with BREXIT and the stories circulating about our Prime Minister Boris Johnson).

I headed up to Manchester having the 200mm/F2 Fujion lens on hire again, along with the 1.4TC (giving the equivalent of 300mm/F2 and 420mm/F2.8 on my Fuji X-T2 bodies). Added to that I took my normal supply of 3 x X-T2, the 14mm/F2.8, 27mm/F2.8 pancake, 90mm/F2 and the 50-140/F2.8 (just in case but the plan was not to use it).

My workspace on the final day – taken using the “miniature” filter on the X-T2 with the 14mm

On the morning of the PM’s speech, we arrive early for a briefing that informs us of the plan for the speech; entrance, exit, timings, security arrangements (where we can stand, where not) etc.

With the stories circulating about the PM it was clear that “the picture” of the day would be Boris and Carrie (his girlfriend) leaving at the end of the speech. However the briefing made it clear that getting this image clearly would be very difficult and as the pool photographer would get it perfectly, it was not worth worrying about.

So I formulated a plan..

I would start at the rear at the top of the stadium seating to photograph the PM as he enters, I would then bit by bit move around the rear of the hall, over the stadium seating at the other end before working round to the rear quarter, photographing Boris “conducting” his troops before working my way back to the original position for his exit.

Arriving in the hall before a good while before the speech I was pleased that as I suspected, most of the photographers covering the event had opted for the central positions to shoot the “traditional” speaker image. I was happy to be sitting up at the back near the entrance alone, hoping the others had missed a trick and that my plan was not totally unworkable.

Waiting, I shot a few images of party members around me and the general atmosphere. Then the moment arrived, the PM walked in alone down a dark part of the hall below me to greet members down the bottom of my seating area.

Atmosphere before the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 14mm

My plan with the blog post now was to show two totally out of focus images showing that we all make mistakes totally contrary to how we are supposed to portray ourselves online. However going back through the images I have found one that was in fact useable, one that I missed in the heat of the moment editing on the day…

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, enters to make his keynote speech to close the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. X-T2 + 90mm @ F2

Starting with establishing shots on the 200, 90 and 14….

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 14mm
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 90mm

Then adding the TC on the 200 (giving an equivalence of 420/F2.8) before moving down the back and shooting through spaces between the seating. A quick nod with one of the PM’s security detail to confirm all was ok with the location (next to him) , staying there for 5 minutes or so before moving on to the next location …

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to close the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 200mm/1.4TC
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to close the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 200mm/1.4TC

Having been briefed that the speech would be 40-45 minutes I allowed myself approximately 5 minutes in each location before moving on, getting the the far point on time for the “conducting” shot, before returning via the same method to my original position.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to close the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 200mm/1.4TC
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, makes his keynote speech to close the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 200mm/1.4TC

Once back, I was joined by one other photographer in this position for the exit but as there were about 8 positions reserved for us there was plenty of room. Planning for a “melee” image as the PM leaves, I removed the TC….

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, exits the Conservative Party Autumn Conference on Wednesday 2 October 2019 at Manchester Central, Manchester. Boris huged Carrie Symonds, his girlfriend, before greeting activists as he exited the hall. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2 + 200mm

In all, photographing the speech and editing took about 6 and a half hours; from entering the hall at 8am for the briefing , planning, re-entering the hall at 10:30am through to leaving it at about 12:45 and then finishing my edit with all images with the agency by about 2:30pm. All for a set of photographs that I knew were unlikely to make the front page the next day because, as I said, the story was Boris and Carrie.

Not every paper went with the pooled “couple” image.. but most did…

Onwards…

A bit of CONTRAST

One of my favourite features of the X-Range of cameras is how you can select a film simulation (for example Monochrome)  then tweak it. Living by the coast I often get up early and go for a wander, camera in hand. Yesterday it was an X-T1, 14mm Lens with the film simulation tweaked with the Monochrome set to Red Filter and the +1 on both Shadows and Hilights. I then Post the images with no edits (except the square crops for instagram)…

Beach Cleaning

Someone had a “good” night out.

A different type of Groyne.

Its all Groyne shots this week


The water is warming up

Not yet open


GV


You choose your path – into the light or into the dark….

X100

Fuji  have brought out a new version of the first Fuji camera I brought – the X100F. The Mk1 was the camera that started me on this journey from big DSLR’s to mirrorless  and so I’m torn.

This morning I went for a wander, and reminded myself how much I just love this little camera, going back to basics just like shooting with a ‘trip or such like as I did as a teenager.

 

I’m not sure if I can build  business case for the new little un or not….

 

 

NIK collection away for free

I know a few have asked about my processing of monochromes…

Well today Google have announced they are giving the NIK collection away for free and that includes my beloved Silver Efex Pro…

Today we’re making the Nik Collection available to everyone, for free.

Photo enthusiasts all over the world use the Nik Collection to get the best out of their images every day. As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we’ve decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.

The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities — from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images.

Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.

We’re excited to bring the powerful photo editing tools once only used by professionals to even more people now.

https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

Looking Forward

I’ve waited a week into the new year before posting this as my feed has been filled up with “my best photos of 2015 blogs”.  Although I have blogged a “best of” for the past couple of years, this year I did not want to, I wanted to look forward…

This is mostly a “Fuji Gear” blog so with that in mind, what am I looking forward to?

First I am expecting to review/test the 1.4x Extender for the 50-140 zoom. Yes I know this has been out for a while but I have not seen it nor tested it yet having held off because I’m pretty sure I would decide I need it (due to the lack of long lenses)..

Which brings me to what I am really looking forward to. The XF100-400 zoom (rumours are it should be quite soon). It’s quite clear from earlier posts that a “long” is what I am missing (for those “Royal” jobs, the music gigs from the sounddesk, the long shots at conferences). You can view the Fuji X Les Roadmap here… I’m pretty sure (assuming it performs as well as the other lenses) that I will be purchasing this fairly quickly.

The new X-Pro2 is due to be announced shortly, the specs look good and it should be an good indicator on how Fuji is developing, particularly in the area of sensors and auto-focus. Rumours are there will be a new X-T2 announced in the summer. My plan is to review these bodies and see how far forward a step they are before committing.

So thats camera gear. One of my photographic aims this year is to shoot more formal / creative portraits (most of the news work I do is informal so it would be good to get back to working with lights more). Therefore I will be looking more into speedlights/strobes vs continuous and (my favourite) LED’s. I started looking at LED’s a few years back and really like the light (I have a couple that I use for monochrome work). However the price being charged for systems with a good constant white (high CRI) was just too high along with the output being too low meant they could not become everyday tools. I am hoping that has changed. If not, I’ll have to continue with the speed lights (I like portable!) ..

Well, those are my plans, what are yours?