A post (card) from Venice

Hopefully you have noticed that I have started posting a little more often – I am trying to get back into the “write every Monday” habit. It’s not quite there yet but I am making more of an effort.

I am writing this in the press room at Venice Film Festival (those of you that follow my social media will have seen I have been here since the 2nd). I planned the trip as a quick smash and grab; come over for a busy part of the festival, get some shots and go home before the end. Yesterday and today are a little respite before my final day tomorrow and trip home.

Photographers are reflected in the glass doors of the The Palazzo del Cinema before the Premiere of SUNDOWN during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on Sunday 5 September 2021 at The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia, Venice. Picture by Julie Edwards

I always say that we (photographers) are paid to wait till that moment we can make the image. Sometimes the wait can be long.

This is now the 3rd trip I have made away in these interesting times (covid times); Cannes a few months ago and Venice a year ago. It’s fascinating to see how things have changed in the past year.

A year ago we had masks and 2M distancing for photographers working on the carpet but no other measures. (The wearing of masks generally over here seems very well adhered to, especially on public transport). Now we have not only masks but also attendees need a Green Pass, which in Italy is either proof of double vaccination or a proof of a negative test within 48 hours. There seems to be more responsibility placed on the individual though, whereas I have been used to (in the UK and France) to need to show this pass before entering, here they reply on spot checks and social responsibility, which means things flow far more smoothly.

Line 20: From Venice to The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia.

I stay in the main city of Venice, taking the Line 20 from St Marks to Lido twice a day. The Vaporetto (water busses) are mostly old and noisy but its a lovely 20 minute ride, especially if I manage to get the rear facing outside seats giving the view above.

Anya Taylor-Joy poses on the red carpet for LAST NIGHT IN SOHO during the 78th Venice International Film Festival. Picture by Julie Edwards.

With red carpet events being few and far between over the past 18 months it seems a few photographers were a little more “vocal” than normal when Anya hit the carpet for the well-received Last Night in Soho, so much so that she walked away for a while after asking for a bit more calm. I like to think I would have done the same. I have often heard the argument that the person on the carpet should not get upset because its their job but I always counter how would you feel if if were your daughter or partner being shouted out like that?

Very few photographers in the media positions have been the other side, walking the carpet and to be honest, its horrible (even if its not you thats being photographed), the lights and the shouting has to be experienced to be understood. It might be their job but it is almost impossible to look at every photographer and besides, the skill of the photographer is actually catching that split second, or as in this case, making an image that does not need it. It should not be a case of Who can shout the loudest.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac poses on the red carpet for SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday 4 September 2021 at The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia, Venice. . Picture by Julie Edwards.

I started this post with no plan, I was not really sure what I was going to write about. It’s always interesting how the thoughts and words flow and sometimes you just have to go with it to see where it leads; hopefully it’s a worthwhile exercise.

More soon.

Julie

Lens in the Bag

One of the most annoying questions I see (almost every day) posted in Facebook groups and the like are “what lens should I buy next”, often with very little explanation. (I am willing to accept that this is my issue and lack of tolerance).

With this question in mind, this post is a run-through of the lenses I took to Cannes along with quick explanations of how I used them along with samples.

This is the list of lenses I used and image count of each from this years Cannes folder (taken from Lightroom)

Tackling that list in order, I start with the workhorse; the 16-55/F2.8 Of all the lenses, this is the lens that is probably of most use in general purpose photography. From a wide angle through to a slight telephoto (full frame equivalence of approximately 24-70), it is suitable for almost everything and should (almost) be the starting point for any kit bag.

In Cannes, my main use of this lens is on the Red Carpet, mounted on a X-T3 with the V1 flash fitted for shooting the full-length fashion type images as well as half-length portraits.

16-55 @ approx 16mm / F3.5
16-55 @ approx 32mm / F2.8
16-55 @ approx 52mm / F3.5

At the start of the week, I experimented using the 27mm pancake lens on the Red Carpet – mostly I use it as a camera body cap and walk-around lens. The way it deals with light coming directly into the lens (flare control) means it was not really suitable on the carpet or at gigs

27mm @ F3.6

Both of these lenses are perfectly good and produce nice contrast images (if you set your camera up appropriately) but for me, they show up the limitation of using an APS-C sensor, there is a limitation on getting a shallow depth of field. For this reason my two really favourite lens are the 56mm/F1.2 & the 90mm/F2 . I use both of these in a similar way.

The 56 is a great portrait lens, the distances involved on the Red Carpet means I usually create 3 quarter or half-length images with it, always shooting wide open. After all there is no point using a nice fast lens and then not making use of the shallower depth-of-field.

56mm @ F1.2

The 90mm I use in the same way, just tighter images (normally on the X-T2 body as the focal length leads to the images rarely needing much cropping). One thing I will say is the 90mm does seem to produce richer images than the 56.

90mm @ F2

The 50-140 telephoto lens is another real workhorse lens, enabling me to get fairly tight portraits when the subjects are at a closer range or full-length group shots up on the staircase. I think (on my X-T3’s with grips) that this lens handles fantastically, the zoom ring is lovely and smooth.

50-140mm @111mm / F2.8
50-140mm @140mm / F2.8

Because of distances, crowds, my love of tight portraits and less posed images, my 100-400 is my second most used lens (after the 16-55). With it I can shoot the talent in the crowds at the head of the carpet, create really tight and personal looking portraits on the carpet as well as head-shots up the stairs.

100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @234mm / F5
100-400mm @190mm / F5

Hope this post gives a little insight on how my use of lenses helps to create different images and gives me more creative options.

Next week I will write my guide to back restorative exercises needed after carrying them all around for 2 weeks. Actually I will probably write about the GFX50R which I purchased last winter during the lockdown with the prime aim of shooting more landscapes (and for use in the studio shooting portraits).

Happy Shooting. J

Godox V1f – Things I learned in Cannes

It’s seems I always have something new to understand when I go to Cannes. (Well thats a general in life – the day we stop learning/have something new to understand is the day we die).

This year it was the Godox V1f Round Head Flash .

As usual this will not be a really technical write up (there are far more techie blogs and better writers for that), what follows are a few of my thoughts and experiences.

The first thing to talk about and one of the real reasons for getting this flash is the quality of the light. Not only is the fall off of the light at the edges far more pleasing, the hotspot in the centre seems, well less hot and more flat. (The above images have had the white and black points expanded to hi-light the fall off pattern.)

The second thing to talk about is the quality, this flash feels solid, well made, very similar to the AD200 and a definite improvement over their other on-camera units.

The battery is chunky and comes with it’s own USB-C charger which charges quite quickly. That said, even with heavy use (on the evening of amFar) I do not think I used more than one bar.

This quality and battery add up to a unit that is quite heavy and when top mounted on an X-T3 (even one with a fully loaded grip and 16-55/F2.8) the result is very top heavy. As my main use for flash during red carpet events is to shoot full length images, I use a custom flash bracket CB Mini-RC and in this configuration it does not feel to bad at all).

Stella Maxwell at amFar . X-T3/16-55 : 1/200 @ F5 & 320iso

Actually using the unit took a little getting used to. Although it does support High-Speed Sync and has TTL Metering, in red carpet situations I found this combination to be a little sporadic and the additional power required for HSS meant slower recycling (and the manual states that the thermal cutout is likely to cut in earlier). In slower situations this has not proved to be a problem.

Sharon Stone at amFar . X-T3/16-55 : 1/200 @ F5 & 320iso

Once in manual the unit really is consistent (see the two images above). With a bit of experimentation I came to the power setting of 1/16 +0.7, which allowed the unit to keep up with my X-T3 in High Burst Mode for the short bursts I shoot (Its a technique to try and ensure no other flashes and open eyes on the subject).

With the manual power set and the shutter fixed between 1/200 & 1/250 (so not using HSS) I worked back to get a suitable iso from the selected F-Stop.

Gemma Chan attends the Closing Ceremony Red Carpet. X-T3/16-55 : 1/250 @ F4.5 & 400iso

As the subject distance varied on the carpet, I needed to allowed for the fixed output of the flash by opening the aperture slightly (maybe 1.2 a stop) so I think the zoom head was also helping as little in this regard.

Overall I am very happy with the unit and its a great addition to my Godox kit, adding to the two AD200’s , the TT685 and single AD600. Like the other units it can act as a slave, controlled by any of the Godox Remote Controllers. Or it can act as the Master in a multi-flash set-up (which is how I will use it for portraits with the AD200 at the up-coming Frightfest where I will be returning as the house photographer)

Cannes, Covid & Brexit

Covering Cannes this year provided a couple of firsts for me. 

  • It was the first full-on red carpet event since the start of the pandemic (Although I was in Venice last August, I cant really count it as a full-on event as the restrictions compared to normal were quite extreme (justifiably).
  • It was the first travel time traveling into the EU since the UK finally left it.

As you can imagine – both of these points had a significant impact on working the event, all around COIVD-19.

During the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. Covid-19 test results or proof of double vaccinations being checked as a requirement to enter the Palais. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

For anyone to access the event, COVID-19 status (Vaccination or Negative PCR test) had to be proved (a type of COVID-19 passport that is currently under debate in the UK), this had to be proved using the French app (TousAntiCovid ) or a printed QR code . This is where we experienced the first real impact of Brexit, the TousAntiCovid system does not recognise non-EU vaccination records. This meant that all non-EU nationals had to undergo testing every 48 hours whereas EU nationals did not.

During the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. The Covid-19 testing site provided for festival attendees free of charge. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

For all of the Festival, good anti covid measures were in place, distancing, cleaning, mandatory masks.

Festival attendees in masks at the “Benedetta” Red Carpet during the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Friday 9 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. All attendees to the festival are required to wear masks in the Palais des festivals including on the red carpet. They are removed for photographs to be taken. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

However consider how working red carpet photographers have to operate; spacing measures just cannot be implemented. Photocalls and Red Carpet events had us standing shoulder to shoulder and pushing like in the good old days, for hours at a time. Black masks were mandatory (to tie in with the evening dress code) but let’s be honest, most masks are not really adequate in this situation.

Palais des festivals, Cannes, France. 9 July 2021. Photographers working at “Benedetta” Red Carpet. Photographers working on the Red Carpet are in close proximity to each other and are required to wear masks. Picture by Julie Edwards

If you are planning to work in the EU, it might be an idea to consider the following (assuming where you are working might have the same regulations):

If an EU national had caught COVID-19 (still possible even with double vaccinations), due to the proximity of other photographers at events it would have spread. The EU nationals , with their vaccination passports would continue to work (untested) while the non-EU nationals, when tested would be found to be positive and unable to work.

The bottom line is – in modern times, the UK being an island is only a physical attribute. For so many , our work is cross border and for work of any kind to be able to continue whilst COVID-19 is still a factor, a world-wide passport system needs to be developed.

Palais des festivals, Cannes, France. 11 July 2021. Bella Hadid attends the “Three Floors” Red Carpet. . Picture by Julie Edwards

The next post will talk more about actually shooting the festival on the X-T2 & X-T3’s . 

More Soon.

J

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

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

Direct Import from Cards in Lightroom Mobile

At last! Its been a long while coming but finally we can import images directly from a camera/card into Lightroom Mobile on an iPad!

Apple’s iOS13 update opened up the Files application, allowing users to access data on external devices such as USB sticks, Hard Drives and of course Cameras/Cards. It took Adobe a little while to catch up but during December, Lightroom Mobile 5.1 was released which added the ability to browse locations in files.

Much of the information I have seen online says that it is possible to access the card directly from the import button after inserting it however I have not found that to be the best way to work. My workflow is to import the images directly into an Album for the project.

Add photos from Files into a specific album

Selecting from the Album Options … I Add Photos and select From Files. This enables the location to be selected, normally the Untitled USB device, browsing down to a lower folder. Once all the images to be added have been selected, click Open.

Preparing Import!

Lightroom then looks as though nothing is happening but take a look at the cloud icon where the sync progress is displayed…

It takes a while to prepare the import and then, one by one, they start appearing!

Hey Presto!

It’s a very simple process, one that is not the most obvious way of importing the images but it makes a huge difference to the iPad workflow, now mimicking more closely typical laptop workflows.

It means less reliance of the iOS native photos app and less housekeeping required on the iPad. In fact with the other updates in the latest Lightroom Mobile (major changes to the Export function , which I will detail in the next post), the photos app may be bypassed completely. Stay tuned!

Photoshot with Luna

Luna and I had been talking about getting together for a photoshot for a couple of years now. We met working together at Frightfest where she is one of the presenters of Frightfest TV.

When discussing the shoot we decided we needed a prop or two. She suggested she could use a Mustang GT for the day and so I outline planned an outdoor shoot. I say outline planned as with this kind of arrangement I only like to put together rough ideas as when heading outdoors weather is a a major consideration (especially in the height of summer in the UK). I also like to spend some time with the model, chatting and gauging their mood on the day before firming up my shots.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/2000,F4

There are a number of ways to shoot a darker, gothic feel type style on a bright sunny day, my preference being for high shutter speeds with high power flash units. I worked with a couple of AD200’s combined with the X-T2’s on High Speed Sync.

The first set of images we shot right in the centre of worthing, near home, with my “assistant” holding a Godox AD200 with a beauty dish, just to get a feel of the light and how the shoot would go.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/3200,F2.8

Now I had a feel, we packed a couple of the flash units, a couple of lightstands, modifiers and lenses and headed out of town (to the mighty burble of the 5.0L engine).

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/1000,F5

On the day, the light was really variable and most of the time I was having to use the Godox at full power (some of the shots had a second light) whilst waiting for the clouds to help with the light also.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/4000,F3.2

I wanted the images to have a “film” quality to them and so back in the office I edited the RAW images in Lightroom using either the Classic Chrome or Astia simulations before moving them in to Photoshop for retouching. These two simulations gave me a choice of base tones (especially skin tones, where Astia is my favourite).

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/4000,F3.6

The final look was applied using the NIK collection (now owned by DXO) running inside Photoshop. I learned a thing or two here as well; It had always frustrated me how adding a NIK layer to a PS image was a “one hit” action. If I decided I did not like the look after I had applied it (or subsequent edits), with my old workflow it was a case of deleting the layer and restarting. However a quick goggle on a train this week revealed the “magic” recipe. Convert the source layer to a smart object first and then the NIK filters are applied as Smart Filters meaning they can be edited with a right-click..

As you can see above, I used a combination of Colour Efex Pro to get the contrast and colours where I wanted them before adding a subtle film look and grain with Analog Efex Pro.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+XF56@1/8000,F1.2

The style may not be to everyones taste but we had a loot of fun shooting these and they definitely work with Luna’s style.

Hi my name is Julie and I’m a creative

In a world where it seems everyone wants to leave the “rat race” and become a “creative” of some kind, why does it seem so guilty to admit it?

Phone selfie

“Hi I’m Julie and I’m a photographer” – almost sounds like something that should be said at “Photographers anonymous” . Well I am and after a few months of struggling I am happy to admit it again, to myself and others.

Note: It’s often said that press photographers should not be creative but thats just rubbish, there are times to be creative and times not to be creative in this job, the key is knowing when.

I had become jaded with my work, with the situations I found myself in, with the images I created. The fact is it’s easy to blame the situation, the lack of control (in public places or arranged photocalls), the light, the kit (oh how often do we hear “if only I had xxxxxxx”) but the fact is, what we produce is never the fault of the kit, of the situation, of the lack of control.

National Youth Dance Company / Botis Seva perform MADHEAD during a Photocall at Sadler’s Wells. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2+XF90 @ 1/100 F2

What we produce is always a product of the decisions we make given the situation we find ourselves in. They may not be the images we planned, or want but we always have a choice how we shoot something, how we approach it, our attitude and our commitment.

National Youth Dance Company / Botis Seva perform MADHEAD during a Photocall at Sadler’s Wells. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2+XF35 @ 1/20 F1.4

I was recently introduced to the concept of “Hell Yeah or No”. Put simply it means 100% commitment. When presented with an opportunity, decide “Can I give this 100%?” . If not then say no! Once there, commit to the job, no matter what the situation, too controlled? poor light? bad positioning? poor location? If they are things you can control then take ownership. If not, make the best images you can.. 100%..

National Youth Dance Company / Botis Seva perform MADHEAD during a Photocall at Sadler’s Wells. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. X-T2+XF56 @ 1/15 F1.2

Take the 3 dance images above. When I had the notice that this photocall was available, I checked my diary, found I was in town and had time. It was obvious that it should make nice images, I was not sure what they would be as you never know how a production is staged until you see it, all I could be sure was that the light would be “interesting”. Upon arrival it was suggested it was “a bit dark”. I had sort of surmised this before and although I did not take a tripod I did carry my 35/1.4 , 56/1.2 & 90/2.0 giving me the best chance in low light. From then on it was a case of using what I had, making the most of the light and making the most interesting images I could. Some I shot with intentional blur, some I froze the movement.

The key was though, I did not think “this is too dark”, I just committed 100% to what was in front of me. Looking back now (and listening to others) it’s obvious, if I (you) don’t commit 100% to what I (you) are shooting, how can I (you) produce the best images possible?

“Hi, I’m Julie, I’m a creative and I am always going to create the best images I can”

WOMAD

Despite using, writing about and loving the XF90/F2 lens over 2 years ago in Cannes (and borrowing one since), I had not purchased one until a few weeks ago, when I took advantage of the (recently expired) cash back offer to pick a shiny new XF90 up from my preferred dealer Fixation.

It’s with this new purchase, a pair of X-T2’s plus a XF14/2.8 and XF56/1.2 that I rode down to cover WOMAD this weekend. Travelling by motorbike means I like to travel as light as possible. I had guessed that the XF90 (equivalent of approx a 135mm) would be ideal for half length images on the main stage, with the XF56 for full length. I guessed right.

The 2 most effective ways of using a wide such as the XF14 is either to get in close to exaggerate the perspective or to take a step back for the wide general view.

Moon Hooch performs on the Charlie Gillett Stage WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Friday 26 July 2019

Moon Hooch performs on the Charlie Gillett Stage : X-T2 & 14mm@F11

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Saturday 27 July 2019

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage shot from the top of the Light/Sound Tower. X-T2 & 14mm@F2.8 (1/5th sec)

On the smaller, less bright stages, the speed (wide aperture) of the XF56 enabled a lower ISO and higher shutter speed than the slower F2.8 lenses.  Gigs (should) feature bright lights, strong colours and high contrasts which can make them tricky. Shooting with the  Astia simulation dialled in, I set a fixed white balance (depends on the venue) and the dial down the hilights in camera whilst increasing the shadow contrast. The resultant jpgs require minimal work. (If it is a tricky venue, I do switch to RAW).

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage. X-T2 +XF56@F1.2

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage. X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

Macy Gray performs in the Saim Tent at WOMAD X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

Macy Gray performs in the Saim Tent at WOMAD X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

The XF90 allows me to stay further back and produce an image with a lovely soft out of focus background. To enable a wide aperture on bright days I sometimes resorted to the Mechanical + Electronic shutter option. As long as there are no artificial lights or fast moving subject the ES is fine.

Atmosphere at the WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Friday 26 July 2019

Relaxing in a hammock checking a smartphone. X-T2 & XF90@

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

I must admit i got a bit carried away with the bright reds of the robes against the dark greens of the arboretum and did not really shoot enough wide images to put the brigade into a wider context. I did love the images i got though..

So that was WOMAD, shot on 3 fixed length lenses. Zoom lenses are very handy but they are not the only tool!

Next up, probably Brighton Pride next week…..