This might sound like something of the Girls Gone Wild genre, but sadly, it isn’t. I recently picked up a batch of expired (2006) Kodak TMAX 400 120 film for the Hasseblad; 40 rolls at a rather good price of about $3 each. I knew going into this that the results wouldn’t be 100%; but plenty of research and the opinions of film photographers I trust suggested that it should be fine; just add around an extra stop of exposure, or be prepared to push the negatives a bit more during development. Time just degrades film sensitivity, in theory. The seller assured me he’d run a roll recently and it came out fine, just a little desensitized – which was in line with what I’d heard. I knew that storage temperature also affects things, but again – ‘cool, dry warehouse’. Supposedly fine. I’d also shot one of my own rolls of Neopan from 2005 and not found any issues; then again, it had been kept in a fridge the whole time.
It’s impossible to go anywhere in Japan without happening across a temple or two. They provide both places of worship for the faithful and serene oases for the rest of us. They’re always impeccably maintained and a great show of craftsmanship; naturally lending themselves to photography. I spent half a day during my last trip to Fukuoka visiting some of the temples in the Gion district, and engaging in some slow, meditative photography with the Hasselblad. These images were shot primarily with the 80/2.8 CF on Ilford Delta 100 and scanned with the D800E. Enjoy! MT
Some weeks ago, I was exchanging emails with a reader from New Zealand; he threw out an interesting thought which has stuck with me since and definitely bears further examination (and I paraphrase to retain context): Where does the work of a photographer begin and end? Have we partially taken over the job of philosophers to interpret the world?
It seems that a lot of my other photographically-inclined friends and students share the same few passions – watches/ horology, cars, cigars, food/ wine, travel, and to some extent, hi-fi. It could be because serious photographers tend to be mostly male (no sexism intended, but 90% of my reader demographic and students are male) and these are male pursuits; however, the funny thing is that a good number of the ladies in the 10% share these interests, too. I’m not counting casual or passing fancies here – I’m only including people serious enough to devote a meaningful chunk of time and income towards these hobbies. Even so, the numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of just a few pursuits*.
*My point of view could however be biased by the demographic of my readers; I suppose if I surveyed those who lived in countries with strong anti-smoking laws, expensive car operating costs, and reasonable public transport – sounds like the UK – we’d find that cigars and cars drop off the list.
One of the more ‘interesting’ recent assignments I had* was a series of corporate portraits – by series, I mean 150, with full makeup and retouching. We had 150 to do over the course of three days – which isn’t a particularly punishing schedule, but when you have to work around the subjects’ schedules, then time tends to contract into mad rushes interspersed by soporific periods of inactivity while waiting. Made worse was the fact that there was no formal scheduling – the subjects were consultants. The real challenge wasn’t so much the shooting as getting all of the subjects to turn up at all: between egos, vanity, laziness and general contempt of management in some cases, my poor client – the management – had fun trying to cajole, threaten and bribe them into showing up. In the end, I think we got about 110 of the total, with about 15-20 being on leave or at other locations, and the rest simply refusing to cooperate. It’s amazing how such educated people can sometimes be so incredibly difficult…
What is a city without its people? What if a person from several thousand years ago were simply transported into the present day and dropped in any moderately-sized metropolis without any explanation – especially on a Sunday, when only a few brave souls are to be seen wandering the streets, purposefully running the gauntlet or perhaps acting as keepers of the strange world? Nature appears to have taken over in places, though the square rocks remain. Even the animals mostly avoid the place. Strange movable objects line every path. Did something bad happen here? Would they view the cities as strange landscapes? Or recognize them as artificial constructs? Perhaps they would wonder why anybody would leave nature to be all squashed together in square rectangular blocks…or maybe they wouldn’t even view the blocks as fit for human dwelling. To question, to wonder, to dream, to adapt, and go forth out to explore out of curiosity even if it makes us feel a little bit scared. That is what makes us human.
Or, perhaps, I just scared the Fukuokans off with the mighty clap of my Hasselblad mirror MT
There have been a couple of recent developments in our industry that have been receiving a lot of heat lately – firstly, Adobe’s move to put Photoshop CS on subscription only, and secondly, the recently signed (25 April) British Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 – or specifically, one portion of it dealing with copyright and orphaned works. I’ve had some time to chew over both of these issues and how they affect the average photographer – both the amateur and the professional. I’m afraid the overall prognosis isn’t good, but it also isn’t as bad as a lot of people are making it out to be.
I know it’s been a really long time coming, but I’ve been so buried by other work that I simply have not had time to write the post and process the images – my apologies.
March 2013 was both the first time I’d been to the USA in more than ten years, as well as the first workshops of 2013. For this trip, I used tried a new teaching approach. Previously, I’d focused on subject-specific techniques; what I found was that whilst it was enjoyable for the participants, there were frequently fundamentals of technique and composition that were missing across the board, and these were elements that could be taught in a subject-independent way that would raise one’s photographic bar consistently across the board. Also, unlike Tokyo, nobody had to lie on the floor this time.
Not so long ago, Olympus updated both the E-PL series (E-PL5 reviewed here) and the E-PM series with the OM-D’s sensor and other trickle-down technology. Thus it only made sense that it was also about high time for the E-P3 to be refreshed, too. They’ve taken a bit longer over this one; in fact, the new E-P5 has so much of the OM-D’s technology (and a few other things) that picking one over the other is no longer such an easy decision.
The polls are in and the people have spoken…I’m pleased to announce the Europe leg of the Making Outstanding Images Workshop series: three cities, three dates. There will be two big changes over the USA workshops: firstly, they’ll now run for four days instead of three so I can cover even more ground; and due to demand for shorter workshops, you can now attend and pay for just the days you find interesting – so for all of those who wanted a 1-day workshop option, here it is.
The cities will be:
Amsterdam – 25-28 September
Prague – 2-5 October
Munich – 9-12 October
The syllabus will still follow the core fundamentals from the USA tour: throw everything you thought you knew about photography out the window, and start again. All you need is a camera and a couple of perspectives – one wide, one tele. It could be either end of a zoom on a compact, or it could be medium format and a couple of primes – it’s up to you. What I’ll be teaching is subject independent: make great images, any time, with any subject, any camera. Put it this way: it’s easy to spend thousands on equipment that you may use a handful of times a year, but what about the knowledge that lets you make the most of that equipment, in any situation?
Following on from yesterday’s review of the Ricoh GR (Digital V) can only be one thing: the comparison shootout between the GR and its natural rival, the Nikon Coolpix A (full review here). Or is it the other way around, since the A came first? Doesn’t matter a single bit, it’s all about the images. Fight!
Not long after Nikon announced their 28/2.8, 16MP APS-C super-compact, Ricoh also decided it’d be a good time to launch an update to their cult GR Digital line. Version V has done a Leica and dropped the model number to confuse us (and Google searches for the new model), but gained a near-identical spec to the Nikon – also 28/2.8 equivalent, 16MP APS-C sensor without AA filter (it does have square and 35mm crop options, but you can always easily apply those in post). Neither one has IS. I covered most of the spec sheet in the preview, here. Now I’ve had some (albeit very brief) time with a final production prototype*, it’s time to report back here on how it actually fares in the metal.
*Meaning some things like image quality and focusing behaviour may undergo final tweaks before production versions ship, but apparently they’re pretty close to it. My camera is running firmware 1.11.
A continuously updated set of sample images on my Flickr is here.
I’ve just confirmed an extended assignment in Singapore at the beginning of July this year; I’m now wondering if there’s any demand for a workshop in that location. It would be either the first or second weekend of July, covering the two shooting days’ from the USA Making Outstanding Images workshops syllabus. Since I’ll already be in Singapore, there won’t be any travel costs incurred, so the prices would be correspondingly cheaper – S$500 if one day, and S$900 if two. Please only vote if you’re going to be in Singapore around then; the ‘no thanks’ option is so I can gauge what proportion of my Singaporean readers would be interested. Thanks! MT
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Burma, Shwedagon Pagoda has been a focal point for life in Yangon for a very long time – it has reputedly existed in some form or other for the last 2,600 years. It reached its current height of approximately 114m in the late 1700s after the most recent rebuilding as a result of multiple earthquakes. It is thought of as the most sacred location for Buddhists in Burma, with the relics of multiple past Buddhas housed within: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from Gautama – the one traditionally thought of as Buddha. An exact replica exists in Naypyidaw (the new capital of Burma).
Nikon’s 80-400mm received a long-deserved update earlier in the year; it’s in fact had a complete overhaul and optical redesign. The original lens was Nikon’s very first VR lens, and body-driven to boot – the large front element had a reputation for pinching fingers between the protruding filter ring flange and the zoom ring (I fell victim to this on my first outing with it). It’s gone from being a 17/11 design to a more complex 20/12, gained Nano-Crystal coating, a shorter minimum focus distance (1.75m in AF and 1.5m in MF vs 2.3m), a silent wave motor and internal focusing, second-generation VR, and plethora of additional switches. Gone is the aperture ring, so you’re not going to be using this on a pre-command dial film body. The hood is also now a petal-type design with the same kind of locking catch as the 17-55, 24-70 and 70-200 hoods. It reverses for storage. Unlike the old lens, it’s also fully gasketed and weather sealed. It’s also more expensive; about $800 more, to be precise.