Photoessay: Prague monochromes, part III

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On this visit to Prague, I was struck by the feeling that a lot of the people I observed were looking for something: it wasn’t so much a definite journey or objective or quest, but just a general sense that something was missing. Perhaps it was the tour groups that outnumbered the locals, or perhaps it was the subtle shift in the proportions of businesses: set up for and transacting mainly with locals vs. visitors. Don’t get me wrong; I realise that I too am a visitor, but there’s something about the mass hoards that gets my goat. Maybe it’s because they wonder around bovine and gawking and oblivious to consideration of anybody else, or maybe it’s because once you have too many of them – the whole feel of the place changes, and then it no longer becomes the place that motivated you to visit and experience it. I don’t think this is specific to Prague in any way, though I’d always felt the Czechs managed to hold on a little bit longer than some other places. In an odd way, once the balance flips in favour of tourists vs locals, the place feels the same as any other city that caters for tourists – other than the setting. In effect, a very large theme park. What I saw, and tried to capture, was transition. Maybe this is the new normal, everywhere…MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C, and H6D-50c, various lenses and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Finding inspiration, redux

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Following on from the earlier thoughts on making ‘good enough’ images getting ever harder with increased productivity – the flip side of the coin becomes a question of how we find sufficient inspiration to get over that activation energy threshold*. How do we firstly get inspired enough to get out the camera and attempt to produce something at all, and furthermore – produce something that will satisfy us. In reality, what needs to happen is we must find sufficient motivation to make us want to answer the question of ‘how will the finished image look?’ There are several ways of doing this, I think. And hopefully – if you’ve been on hiatus or feeling photographically jaded, this might help get the camera out again.

*I promise one day I’ll write that long-delayed article on physics and photography.

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Photoessay: Scattered

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I think of this set of images is a reflection of one’s rather scattered – but oddly consistent – state of mind when you see and grab an image on the way to doing something else. Being a full time photographer, I’m used to focusing 100% of my energy on shooting alone – to the exclusion of everything else. Since going pro in 2012, this is actually the first time in years I’ve actually been capturing a good proportion of my off duty images when photography wasn’t the primary objective of my day or trip. You can’t really turn your photographic eye off, but it feels as though you’re a lot more scattered and rushing to get the shot – even though the total number of photograph opportunities is of course much lower. Conversely, being in the zone really distorts your perception of time, often in both directions – moments stretch out but whole events and sequences land up passing in the blink of an eye. In essence, that’s what I feel like I’m left with here after curation: scattered glimpses of lives that are moving in different frames of reference to your own, momentarily intersecting for just long enough for you to know that you’re not going the same way. MT

Shot with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 100mm and X1D-50c and 90mm and post processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Why GAS might actually turn out to be good for you

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One is bad enough. Two is…well, probably a signal that some form of clinical treatment is required. Full disclosure: the second one was supplied as a spare for the Thaipusam video; we didn’t use it.

At the risk of severely contradicting myself, I’m going to offer an alternative point of view to several of my posts from earlier this year (namely, this one on diminishing returns; this one on finding the right camera and moving on; this one on ideal formats for a given creative output). Many of you have pointed out in the comments and subsequent emails etc. that things are not really quite so clear cut; I’ve given this some thought and spent some time rationalising my own equipment journey – especially since from an external standpoint, it might appear that I’m probably the worst offender of all. The conclusion, is of course one of very fine balance – like most things in photography; and like most things creative, a little tension is required to produce not-safe and not-boring results. Here are my thoughts on why…

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Photoessay: living Tokyo vignettes

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The choice of title is a deliberate, non static one: the suggestion of motion in each of these images contributes to the feeling that we are viewing something transient, temporal and busy. Despite the density and size of the population, Tokyo somehow can still manage to feel quiet and isolated and times – I put this down to having something to do with the very ordered nature of society and the existence of very formal structures/expectations that mean nobody is in Ginza before about 11am since nothing is open, or Maronouchi is rather dead after 9pm and on weekends as everybody has gone home. It’s possible to make images that make the place feel quite cold and inhuman even though most of the time, this couldn’t be further form the truth. This set looks for a little chaos and humanity. You’ll probably also notice it’s quite cinematic, despite being mostly shot with relatively slow lenses. MT

This series was shot with a Canon 100D, 24STM and 55-250STM lenses, an X1D-50c and 90mm, and a H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and PS Workflow III. Travel to Tokyo vicariously with How To See Ep.2: Tokyo, learn to be stealthy with S1: Street Photography and see how to capture the essence of a location with T1: Travel Photography.

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Hasselblad is hiring: Creative Coordinator

We’re looking to recruit another photographer to serve a couple of roles: most importantly, to engage with the photographic community via social media and other outreach, and to shape the way Hasselblad presents new products and creative ideas going forward. It’s an opportunity to conceive and produce unconventional campaigns together with the rest of the team and the ambassador pool: we have the paradox of producing the tools, but also needing to provide some inspiration on how to use them. In addition, it isn’t limited to just marketing and community engagement – the role is flexible and could span everything from product development to market strategy, and therefore suited to somebody with an entrepreneurial bent. After all, a photographer’s creative needs are best understood by another photographer.

Personally, I believe that the best candidates are unlikely to be found via conventional recruitment channels or with ‘typical’ marketing or communications-type CVs; I thought it would therefore be an interesting experiment to push this one back to the community to find the right passionate enthusiast who’s most importantly already a photographer. Precisely because the role might suit a very wide range of candidates, we’ve deliberately left the requirements somewhat open ended: the most important thing will be a convincing reason why you’re the right person for the job (and that’s not necessarily qualification-based). You’ll also be interacting with me quite a lot in your day to day work. The position is to be based in either Gothenburg, Sweden or Shenzhen, China, and salary is negotiable.

Further information and details on how to apply can be found here on the Hasselblad website. MT

Photoessay/ Drone diaries: Postcards from Europe, part I

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Today’s images are a series shot from various parts of Europe – mainly Sweden and Switzerland. Some were captured as part of scouting for another shoot with the much larger M600/H6D-100c combination, and some were simply because the weather looked incredible and there was no reason not to fly*. The packing penalty for including the Mavic in my travel bag is so small that I think I’ll probably make a habit of this in future – sometimes there are really incredible mornings where you’d like to see the place come alive in the light… MT

*Be sure to check local regulations first: in Switzerland, for example, no-fly zones within a certain distance of an airport are marked as are restricted zones with height ceilings. There are also weight category restrictions. Sweden requires a permit full stop.

These images were shot with a DJI Mavic Pro and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III and the Weekly Workflow.

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Drone diaries: differentiated aerial perspectives

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More months, more flying. I’ve come to believe that real appeal of aerial photography lies solely in one thing: the ability to see familiar places or objects or classes of objects from a drastically and otherwise physically inaccessible perspective. An image shot from a slightly elevated level with gimbal only slightly down is not that different to standing on a hill or building; an image shot from some altitude and entirely top down is at the other end of the scale. Most of the really interesting drone images I’ve seen or personally captured seem to fall into the latter category. We are coming dangerously close to the automated and the formulaic, here. Or are we?

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E-shutter firmware for the Hasselblad X1D

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A couple of you guessed correctly in the comments of my earlier post – we’ve been working on an electronic shutter firmware for the Hasselblad X1D. Whilst we are still limited by the underlying sensor hardware*, there are significant increases to the shooting envelope afforded by an electronic shutter that is both completely silent and completely vibration free. Used within limitations, it can be a very useful tool. The above image was shot at a performance (without disrupting it) – on the X1D, and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar**, with focus peaking on. Hit rate for critical sharpness was about 70-80% – which is to say, possibly higher and easier than focusing it on a native Nikon DSLR.

*The total sensor readout time remains at 300ms; if there is motion in the frame, you may see rolling shutter artefacts regardless of the shutter speed, especially under phased lighting such as LED or fluorescent. Similarly, flash is disabled as there is no way to sync with a 300ms rolling shutter. High ISO is limited to 3200 for the moment (sensor native).

**Yes, you read that correctly. I also used the 55 Otus and 2/135 APO.

The firmware also improves stability adds resizable focus points (35, 63 or 117 boxes) and can be downloaded immediately on the Hasselblad website here. Happy to answer any questions in the comments below, and a list of compatible lenses and a rough assessment of performance on 44x33mm – as so far tested by me – follows. MT

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Photoessay: Hagia Sophia, part II

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(continued from part I)

Hagia Sophia is not only an incredible piece of engineering and architecture – but also one of faith. Constructed in its current form between 532 and 537 AD, it has served as church and mosque (and now museum). Even today, you can’t help but be inspired, humbled and in awe of the work behind it; given its sheer size, it would still take a significant effort to build with modern construction techniques, and that’s excluding the huge amount of specialised handwork required for decoration and outfitting. I’m pretty sure very little of what we build today at that scale will still be around in 1500 years. The question of faith is quite interesting, too: the sheer resources and determination to construct something of that size places huge demands on the population of the city and its rulers. There was probably no economic return model, either – unlike say the European market towns of the Middle Ages. What impressed me the most wasn’t so much the sheer size or unsupported internal volume (though this was still significant) – but the detail given to every surface. Not all of it was completed by 537, and renovations and restoration have been pretty much ongoing non stop thanks to wars, earthquakes and simple entropy – but it’s nevertheless what makes it a truly colossal undertaking, and because of this I think of the renovations as much a part of the building as anything else. Other buildings like the Pyramids might be larger, but they simply don’t have the same kind of finishing requirements, or continual evolution and sense of being an active, alive part of history rather than merely a passive observer. (And I can’t think of anything modern except perhaps the Sagrada Familia that comes close, and even that is still not finished after more than a hundred years.)

I had the opportunity to shoot it for perhaps a few hours total; nowhere near enough time to do justice to the structure (and obviously not around the scaffolds, tripod restrictions etc.) – even so, there are so many images this photoessay will be split into two parts. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and LR Workflow III (and the Weekly Workflow). Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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