Confidence & Fear

Another non photographic post, although the lesson (if there is one) can without doubt be applied to the business of photography..

I think people of a certain age have had a couple of sayings used around them for most of their life and these sayings have been hammered into them too deeply and they without doubt they have huge negative effects.

Pride Before a Fall” can be manifested as “can’t ever be proud” (of achieving) thats wrong.

Self Confidence” was often mistaken for “Over Confidence” .

Confidence in the self, self belief, call it what you will is a huge requirement of making the most of our lives. Without it time will be spent sitting on the sofa, staying in a negative job or situation and not making the most of our lives..

The most important message I think we can impart (to our children and others) is “Have confidence, be strong, work hard, you can succeed in your dreams

Take the current situation. Following in COVID I have a (very) part time design job. I’m really grateful for it. Without it I am not sure where I would have been through the pandemic. It helps us and it help my son. Before that it helped pay to get my son through university (the reason I took it on – we can live with an income that fluctuates but for student rent etc.. not great).

Now I’m getting back to being busy, very busy. The photographic business is rebuilding and sales are starting to grow in the art business I started during the pandemic) so I’m starting to plan the way I can leave the part time job, with the way the economy is going it’s going to be tricky and it’s not going to be tomorrow, there is a balance to be made and I’m confident the tipping point is getting closer. My partner is concerned but backs me 100%.

My parents however are totally different, all they do is voice is concern and worry, just like they did when I was a teenager (I guess thats what my parents generation do). When my son decided to leave go freelance straight out of university I did not say its all sunshine and fun in the freelance world, I think I was truthful but backed him 100%, if he has confidence to do it, then I have it also. I think the generations before us measure confidence in a different way, they only see salaried jobs as the option. I’m confident but not over confident, I have self belief.

Putting it in a slightly shorter fashion. Sunday I was planing a 12km run. I have not run past 10km for 3 years. Most of my running post 2018 have been between 5 and 10km.

Since a hip injury during the 2018 London Marathon I have been fearful of it returning, I was worried about running distances, my running pace was off because my stride length is short because, guess what, i was scared my hip would go if I lengthened my stride.

For an hour before Sunday’s run I started I was pacing up and down, my head was saying I can’t do it, my body will break, my hip will go.

I made an effort to reframe the run. I made it about breaking that fear. I ran intervals concentrating on kicking my feet out and lengthening the stride in the running intervals and then walking fast with long strides between.

I made the distance, I beat the fear. (I’m sure it return but … today i won)

Post Run – iPhone / Lightroom Mobile

What am I trying to say in this post? In our creative lives there are jobs we might get offered, shoots we want to do but something holds us back. Well this is the time for measured Self Confidence, it is time to reframe your fear and beat it.

Primed for WOMAD

Loaded and ready to go (iPhone)

If you have read this blog for a long time or if you follow me on social media you will know I ride a motorbike and do not drive a car. This means if I choose to go to a festival and camp on the bike, I need to pack carefully. Some would say, right take 2 zooms, 16-55 & the 50-140 however one of the reasons I go to WOMAD is i don’t know what I’m going to get, which acts might become more relevant to press or who will be reviewed therefore I go with no pressure, no expectation, just having the aim of producing lovely images (there is always lots of colour here).

So my packing was 2 x X-T3, a 14/2.8, the 35/1.4 , a 56/1.2 & 90/2.0

Add to that a small tent, minimal wardrobe and the MT-07 is loaded.

Fatoumata Diawara – 56/1.2

Taking prime lenses means I have to work (slightly) harder to get the images, working the angles but this makes me think and slow down and think about how I want to portray the act.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “there is no point having fast lenses if you shoot with them closed down all the time” so probably 90% of my images are shot wide open

Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit – 90/2.0
Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit – 56/1.2

Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit was a joy to shoot – bright colours, amazing shapes and lighting that shouted “play with me” and with the 90 on camera and the 56 on the other I obliged with both lenses rendering the colours (in Astia profile) really nicely with (the 56 mainly) beautiful flare.

Kae Tempest – 56/1.2

Kae’s set was in complete contrast, more simple, stark and emotional

Fun of the fair – 35/1.4 @ F2 / 1/25th

I was sad to read the demise of regular visitor Carters Steam Fair and although the modern replacements are colourful, making lovely images, I feel they are just too brash, not meeting the the atmosphere of the festival.

Wayne Coyne – 56/1.2

The 56 is well touted as a great portrait lens – shooting wide open with eye tracking as I did for this backstage portrait of Wayne Coyne, lead singer and songwriter of the Flaming Lips, renders the background and even the hair lovely sand soft ensuring the eyes and face get all of the views attention.

Taiwanese contemporary dance troupe B.Dance – 14mm/3.6

The 14mm was useful a few times none more so that with Taiwanese contemporary dance troupe B.Dance, closing the aperture down slightly to keep them all in focus.

Im writing this on the Sunday morning before I shoot the acts of the last day, (the super efficient workflow you have been reading about 🤪 means I am totally up to date with my editing and sending) .

I think the images from the first 3 days give a good enough flavour how I use (and am inspired by the quality of) the Fuji prime lenses.

I have tried not to use the same images as I have posted on my social media channels in this post so if you do not follow me, there are links elsewhere on the page.

So, break out the primes, don’t just twist, use your feet and brain, and go create some images.. I look forward to seeing them.

More soon..

Putting it all together (Workflow pt. 6)

Camera, Images, Action !!

To paraphrase a well known saying. If you have followed these last few posts you will know that we are sending images from Lightroom Mobile to ShutterSnitch where we have configured Metadata & FTP locations to send the images to. Now lets tie it all together.

Accessing the gear icon for the actions.

The sliding arrow points to the action that will be applied to each image as it arrives in the application. So what does this particular action do?

That action on my system, changes the file name to suit the destination (I wont break this down – it should be self evident once you add this task to your action) then it applies one of the Metadata presets (as I showed a few posts back). Finally it exports to the FTP location.

The clever bit being that if the send to the location is a success , the action “Sent Alamy” is also run. What does that do?

It applies another Metadata Preset (one that only sets the rating and label).

Then it moves the image to another collection “ALL SENT”

This (hopefully) leaves the initial collection empty as all the images move out of it as they are sent. Any that do remain need re-sending.

The final 2 images of this post show Lightroom and ShutterSnitch sitting side by side on the iPad screen (use the 3 dots to set up split screen view) allowing editing to continue as ShutterSnitch sends.

This post ends the workflow as it is on the iPad itself. The next post will start to look at how I work on the desktop, moving the images off of the iPad, consolidating the images in the main library and other processes that have really advanced my workflow. (Beware – Lightroom plugin’s ahoy!)

Any comment or questions – get in touch!

I’ve seen posts declaring “Fuji is loosing it’s soul”

A slight intrusion into the workflow posts because the number of posts I have seen with this “loosing their soul” comment is making me smile. I do wonder why people are so blinkered nowadays and feel that “change is bad” or “this works for me so I cannot see why it does not work for everyone”

Top View X-H2S

The thing that has upset everyone is the change in the top-plate dials. Gone are the separate shutter speed and iso dials and in their place, a PSAM dial & secondary display.

As you readers know, I’m a press photographer – I drive my cameras hard and need to change settings fast all of the time (I say this just to hilight I am not a studio photographer where the settings on the camera can be stable for the whole shoot).

I switched to Fuji with the X-T1 for work because I loved the colours in the images, the lightness and it was obvious that mirrorless was the way forward. I also loved the look, the feel and the dials – especially the aperture ring but to be honest – wonderful as these dials are – they are just not fast enough – in my world i need to be able to change the settings – all the settings – without removing the camera from the eye. My current X-T3’s are both set with the ISO on’A’ (so it can be adjusted with the front command dial) and the Shutter on ‘T’ (rear command dial), with the aperture on the lens ring.

If you are designing a camera that is all about speed (X-H2S – the clue is in the S) then having the default way of using to be the way I have my X-T’s set up makes sense, in which case, from a designers point of view, (logically speaking) what is the point of the dials? If the dials are of no use, then why have them? It’s just another possible location of a water ingress or other failure. Lets use that space for something else (when I used the X-H1 I loved being able see the state of the batteries without turning the camera on).

So have they lost their soul? Have Fuji abandoned their roots? I will argue no. My argument is not based on the dials, not based on going after financial rewards or entering difficult markets, it’s based on one fact.

The camera features a 26.1MP BSI X-Trans 5 stacked sensor. Not a bayer sensor, an X-Trans sensor! Its the sensor that is responsible for the look of the images that Fuji produce that we love so much, and having that sensor in this camera indicates, to me, that Fuji has without doubt not changed it’s path. The image is everything.

This is a professionals camera, a tool, that enables Fuji to operate in a market that it was not able to. We have to remember that the camera interface is just like everything else in the world. One size does not fit all.

More workflow stuff next week.

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

The Internet is making us lazy

I’m starting this essay with the background knowledge that it may upset some people. Thats ok though, if it makes one or two think then I have achieved something.

So what to I mean by my title “The Internet is making us lazy” ?

Take a step back, take a sip of your coffee and think about the resource you have in front of you. If the internet did not exist you would not be reading this (I would not have written it), you would have probably found a far better resource of information, something far more useful to spend your time doing, however I digress. What I want you to think about are all the images you have seen on the internet, all the places, all of the inspiration for your work (I am assuming you are a photographer or artist).

Think about those images, on instagram now or if you have been around a few years, on Flickr or other photo sharing sites. Now extend that thought to the comments below “Great Capture”, “Inspired” etc… If the photograph was great or unusual it would not be far down the comments that the first “What Camera” question would occur, closely followed by “What lens?” “Aperture?”, “Shutter speed?”, “Why don’t you open up your exif data?”. The equivalent questions can be applied to many subjects but I’m a photographer and artist so I will stick to this realm.

In the garden studying a book of Terry O’Neill’s work through the years.

When I first see a photograph that excites me, once the initial “joy” has ebbed away I start asking myself “how was this done?”, “how would I have done this?”. Once I have worked this out I start to question “why was it done this way?” .

Think how different that process is compared to just asking the creator how they did it. What do we learn if we are handed all of the settings on a plate ? Other than at that moment, at that place, with that equipment a person made an image in that way; thats not learning. If this information is taken and used in exactly the same way to create work, these works are not unique creations, they are copies!

Photography is an art, so lets cast our minds back to learning about art at school, college or university. Teachers led the way, examples and inspirations shown and discussed, the way forward was shown but the student had to find the way, make the mistakes and learn.

Some people say no, photography is not an Art, it’s a science! How about science lessons then? The theory was thought, a method for proof was explained and the student would be helped through the experiment to learn for themselves and understand the proof.

Take a look at the 10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life by Sister Corita Kent (yep you can find it yourself in the true spirt of research). When it comes to all creativity Rule 4 is the key.

I probably should have written this nearer the beginning of lockdown. I’ll admit whilst I know I should have been documenting these difficult times with a camera, for various reasons I have been studying, learning and creating with pen, paint and ink as well as video (take a look at https://julieedwardsvisuals.com for a hint of what I have done).

I started my JEX photography blog as a resource to help photographers using Fuji cameras and mobile workflow, it holds a lot of information but I always try to write in a way that guides the way as opposed to detailing every press.

There are a lot of resources out there for us all, (not all of it trustworthy!) If used in the right way it could fuel a generation of great creatives, however at the moment I am worried that its mostly fuelling a lot of copyists….

“Nothing is a mistake, there’s no win and no fail. There’s only make”
– Sister Corita Kent

Stay Safe
Julie

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.

GFX50S – First Touch for a digital medium format 1st timer.

Next week I have the first of a couple of large interiors architecture shoot. As I was planning the shoot I realised this would be the ideal test bed for the Fujifilm “medium format” GFX50S camera.

Until this week my only experience with medium format is my vintage Rolliflex, so I have never shot with anything other than Full-Frame or APS-C on digital. With this in mind I arranged to hire a GFX with the 23mm and the 32-64mm for a good few days before the shoot. My plan was to carry it with me instead of a little X-T to get the feel of the camera.

The first day I had it I needed to pop up to Gatwick Airport. Shot with the 23mm at F20, ISO800 (Not the ideal settings, I was rushing!!) , this JPG was shot in ACROS. I love the graduations in the greys, which given it is a JPG with it’s limited grey levels is quite an achievement.

I was struggling to find the limits of focusing, reframing and at what speeds I could hand hold the camera. It’s not really that much bigger or heavier than the full frame Nikon’s I used for years but there is a whole different feel (especially where depth of field is concerned) . This is another ISO800 JPG.

(Sorry for mixing colour and monochrome, a big no-no normally).

I’m sure every photographer has a long suffering partner that is asked to pose of “just look up” again and again and again. This RAF was shot hand-held at 1/40th on the 32-64 at 64mm. At 3200ISO and F4, using the Classic Chrome profile in lightroom mobile I love not only the colours and the graduations from light to dark, but also the way the sharpness in the eyes transition to the milky soft out of focus areas.

Its this transition in sharpness that give medium format its “almost 3D” quality.

This final picture was shot this morning, at 1/3000, F9, ISO100. The RAF edited in lightroom mobile has had the Velvia Profile applied and a couple of selective edits. This is only a small version of the image, you will have to take my word on how much detail there is in the wave.

So after a couple of days, what are my initial thoughts?

It’s not as big and as heavy as I thought it would be, its not much worse than say a D800 with a decent lens on it. Of course it is slower than its smaller Fuji cousins but I kind of like that, it reminds me to slow down and this about the shot I’m taking, I cant take 2 or 3 frames at high speed so I have to concentrate on the moment.

I was nicely surprised on how well Lightroom Mobile handled both the JPG and RAF files on my 2018 generation iPad Pro . Sure the previews took a while to build in the photos application import but copying over was fast, as was the ingesting into lightroom and editing.

The only real niggle I have at the moment is a user interface issue. The GFX50S has most of the buttons (in similar places) that the X-T range have. Why then can I not assign the front dial to ISO like on the smaller cameras. I could argue with myself that “well fast use is not what it is designed for, you are probably not going to be following action with the GFX50S up to your eye needing quick adjustments”. This is true, on a tripod or in a studio the top-plate dial is fine but why limit it? It’s only software. Why are these things not more consistent??

I had avoided this camera since its release because I was worried that I would love its image quality, I was right to worry….

More to follow….

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Like many photographers I must confess to not enjoying the “business” side of being a photographer as much as meeting people, creating images and being creative but the fact its, photography is a business and every transaction or project must be treated that way.

I don’t really write about the business of photography here so if you want to read my latest thoughts on this, head over to my main website and blog: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Time Out

It’s Saturday morning and I am on the train to London. This weekend in the BAFTA’s and I will be covering the nominees party tonight before heading over to the Royal Albert Hall for the main event Sunday.

It was with this in mind that at the end of Wednesday I headed over to Eastbourne and Hastings for 2 days “off the grid” (ok, I’ll be honest I looked at my emails twice because I have an important meeting Monday and I needed to confirm the time. I also answered one phone call yesterday about today’s job). I did not look at any social media, thats no Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn, no blogging and no news. For someone who’s social media is a big part of their work, this is, to be honest, quite difficult but I did manage it. (This morning’s catch up was quite intense though!).

I spent the Thursday exploring Hastings, a town I have only really passed through. My plan was to visit the Jerwood Gallery and the Old Town and then spend some time painting (how I relax – see @artyfartyedwards on instagram). To ensure I did not take a work attitude to the photography, I took an old X-T1 with a 27mm Pancake set to extreme Black and White (thats with a Yellow Filter film simulation and +2 on the lights and shadows).

With Storm Erik in full force, the waves were stunning, I guess the shape and position of Hastings explains why the waves here were more impressive than my home town of Worthing.

The aim of the photography was just to please me. I feel that we professional photographers often get so lost in the business of photography, the commercial aspects of the image, practicing techniques to use professionally that we often forget to take time and shot just to please ourselves.

The fishing boats are a very common subject for photos in the town, its easy to see why, there are pictures every which way you look.

Of course with so much fish around, you can expect gulls and here I did switch to the one other lens I brought with me, the 35/1.4. It’s been around for quite a while but it is a favourite of mine despite being slow to focus.

The storm clouds of course do not only bring “poor weather” they can also be responsible for funnelling the light, particularly at either end of the day.

I think these images show that chasing the latest technology, the latest gizmo is not the best way to get lovely emotional images. Taking time, settling into the location, taking it slow, not worrying about what is going on elsewhere and in fact focusing 100% on whats in front of you is far more important!

I have a confession to make though. I spent a while on the beach photographing the waves. I could see what I was capturing and was loving it, in my head I was visualising how a set of these images could be printed and presented and for the first time ever, I had a yearning to be shooting on the medium format GFX (yes despite all I said above!).

So as I walked back to the car in the afternoon light after a relaxing day looking at paintings and creating photos just because…. this little thought raised it’s head… “you really do need to try the GFX you know” … “nothing to do with business you understand.. just because“..

P.s. The thought did not last long… I spent the next day painting and not worrying about the business of photography.

P.p.s. I will try the GFX once I get a suitable moment… maybe on my next time out off the grid…