Quartet of Range Rover Sport’s in the snow

Quartet of Range Rover Sport's in the snow

Taken at the top of the mountain in Andorra. Temperature was minus 6

CPR10242

CPR10221

Taken with the Fuji X100s

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Left or Right Eye

I  use a pen and mouse with my left hand.

I play golf (badly) right handed

I eat with a fork or spoon in my left hand

If I kick a ball it goes further and with more control when I use my right foot

After a childhood illness I am 100% deaf in my left ear.

I am colour blind and suffer with earth tones brown, green, red.

On a recent left brain / right brain test my results were 50/50.  It has been commented that my landscape compositions tend to be dynamic.

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With NLP (neuro linguistic programming), when determining whether I am visual, auditory or kinesthetic this was also broadly equal pointing towards me being Auditory Digital

People processing in this system use words and phrases that don’t indicate any particular representational system. They are words that NLP calls “unspecified” such as, this makes sense, logical, understanding, criteria, appreciate, aware, analyse, believe, comprehend, choose, decide, reason, system, experience, integrate, learn, consider, perceive, process, realize, remember, sense, think, vague, wonder

Someone with a preference for AD processing may:

Talk to themselves a lot, as they make sense of their worlds with internal dialogue. You can tell they are doing this by their Eye Patternsand sometimes mouth movements

Seem to be debating something inside their head – head will tilt slightly one way and then the other.

Talk things out with others, or use them as a sounding board for their ideas.

Find it difficult to stay uptime (will want to go inside their heads to process). People can feel tuned out – the lights are on but no one is home. Uptime has an absence of internal dialogue

Be critical of self and others

Like to think plan and analyse

Need to “make sense” of things.

Have a strong secondary representational system or even have some aspects of all major systems. This is a second layer for some other sensory processing.

Be good at categorizing and summarizing

Be fond of lists, flow charts and writing things down

Can be very logical – this does not necessarily mean they think in sequential step-by-step ways.

AD look down to the left when we talk to ourselves.

My left eye is dominant to the point that in a portrait it appears slightly larger than the right.  This is usually obscured or masked by my glasses which I have worn since being a toddler.

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If I look through a viewfinder my left eye is dominant.  With a standard DSLR with the viewfinder in the middle my nose squashed up against the screen leaving a greasy print.

Since migrating towards the rangefinder style Fuji X Series cameras I have been conscious that the viewfinder is on the rear left of the body.

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One of the things I like most about this style of camera in use is that it is less intrusive than a professional DSLR and creates a more intimate and personable portrait experience for the sitter especially when a small prime lens is used.  This has led me to think that if I used my right eye more of my face would be visible during the session amplifying that personal and intimate feeling.

In a survey undertaken by Digital Photography School 57% of respondees predominantly used their right eye and 37% used their left.

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There is a school of thought that our chemical and biological processing of information is affected by the visual or auditory pathway.  There is another theory that this is rubbish but sticking with the thought for a moment.  If I change my viewfinder choice my photography could be different.  I will most probably search around the viewfinder more and in doing so might find things in the composition that are appealing or otherwise.

So my personal photographic challenge over the coming months is to actively use my right eye more and see if results are markedly different.  The worst that will happen is that slightly more intimate relationship during portrait sessions.  There will also be less of a greasy mark on my camera screen.

Couple of examples of more intimate and personal portraits achieved with the Fuji

Cassidy taken with the XPro1 and 18mm prime lens – natural lighting

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Nat taken with the Xpro1 and 35mm prime lens – LED lighting

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Straps, Cases and Water Protection

I’ve been shooting with the X Series cameras for a while now and as with my full frame Nikon kit I have never found a camera strap that doesn’t get in the way.  Consequently most of the time I risked dropping my cameras and didn’t use any form of strap at all.

They come with three primary frustrations:

1 – They are bulky and sit in the wrong places

2 – They have horrible logo’s that scream ‘photographer’

3 – They go round my neck

I have tried to use the screw mounted rapid straps but don’t like straps across my body.  I’ve even tried the rapid wrist straps but have found these to be clunky.  The worst bit being if I need to move to tripod I have to remove the rapid bit.

Finally, a discreet leather wrist strap that is supple enough to stay out of the way, unbranded so I don’t look like a mobile advert but above all sufficiently sturdy to protect my camera should I happen to drop it.

The XPro1 and the XE1 are both fitted with thumb and hand grips so the wrist strap just adds to the camera security without getting in the way.

The X100s also has a thumb grip fitted but no hand grip to the wrist strap works even more effectively.  It also puts a little space between my palm and the body affording additional purchase.

Leather umbilical cord between XE1 and my clumsy hand

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As with most photographers I am on an eternal quest for the perfect camera bag and primarily use a Billingham Hadley Pro when more than a couple of things need to be carried and an ONA Bowery when just a body / lens combination is needed.

I recently acquired a camera protection insert which is padded fleece which has movable dividers and a drawcord top.    This holds two bodies, four lenses and spare batteries / memory etc.  The insert can be dropped into any bag I need to carry including my laptop rucksack.  My X100s usually lives in a thin fleece sock like bag or directly in my pocket.

Now the interesting bit about the above ramblings is that the insert cost less than £20 and the wrist strap less than £10.

Prices of camera accessories is usually high:

Hadley Pro £180

ONA Bowery £100

Black Rapid £50

Not to mention the Think Tank Retrospectives, Lowepro’s and Domke’s all over £100 that I have procured and sold over the years.

I have also owned various types of water resistant housings but stil find the humble showercap stolen from a hotel still offers the most effective water protection in the rain.

The X Series has really helped me rethink my photography and this journey is only getting better every week.

These three were shot on Exmouth beach in the rain with a shower cap protecting the X100s and a wrist strap ensuring I don’t drop it.

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Slip Sliding Away on Exmoor

Tom and I popped to Tarr Steps last weekend to get some long exposure shots of the higher than usual river.

It was a sunny day nestled between some of the worst weather of the winter so far.  The roads were icy in places and I had some fun keeping the van steady as we navigated through some of the rather steep single track roads that weave their way through Exmoor.

As we slid inelegantly into the car park and stepped out onto the tarmac it became apparent just how slippery it was with both Tom and I walking like toddlers down the hill towards the river.  We made it without incident but the adrenaline was certainly pumping.

I had minimised my kit for this trip taking only the bare essentials:

Fuji XE1

Fuji 18-55 lens

Fuji 55-200 lens (not used)

HiTech circular polarising filter

Hitech Graduated and Neutral Density Filters

Manual Cable Release

Three Legged Thing Eddy Carbon Tripod with Ball Head

All packed into the Lowepro Sport 200 rucksack

I usually use a Velbon travel tripod but wanted rock steady performance for the long exposures.  Some of the shots were taken from the water and the Eddy has spikes on each of its three legs to get an extra grip.

This is one of my favourite shots of the day

Fuji XE1, 18-55 Lens, F11, 4.3s, ISO 100 Polarising Filter + 3 Stop ND

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On reflection I would have liked to make the angle more acute across the frame to add more dynamism.  With this and the other shots from the day rendering them monochrome really worked.

The next series of three show the effect of using different shutter speeds

Fuji XE1, 18-55 Lens, F2.8, 20th of a second, ISO 100 Polarising Filter + 3 Stop ND

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Fuji XE1, 18-55 Lens, F11, 1.5s, ISO 100 Polarising Filter + 3 Stop ND

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Fuji XE1, 18-55 Lens, F22, 6.0s, ISO 100 Polarising Filter + 3 Stop ND

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You have to get quite low to get a clean shot of the bridge

Fuji XE1, 18-55 Lens, F16, 15.0s, ISO 100 Polarising Filter + 3 Stop ND

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Fuji XE1, 18-55 Lens, F18, 30.0s, ISO 100 Polarising Filter + 3 Stop ND

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I like the way the sun highlights are glinting off the wet rock

On the way home we stopped off at the ruins of the West Somerset Mineral Railway and will explore this some more over the coming months.

Portland Bill

There is something special about sea air especially on a winters day. An onshore wind is scouring the already barren and deserted cliff top here at Portland Bill. Sea spray and saltiness is tasted with every breath. The wind is constant and occasional gusts threaten to steal my hat or thrust me wholly to the floor.

A winter storm is blowing in and the white horses prancing across the english channel taunt me to retreat to the comfort and warmth of the cafe with the ‘open’ neon sign beckons invitingly.

Camera and tripod hastily stuffed into bag and off I walk with dogged purpose towards the sanctuary and promise of steaming tea and a light lunch. It is a struggle to open the door but with more than slight effort it slowly relents only to slam into my back as if to reinforce that I should not have been outside on a day reserved solely for the elements.

Peering through the window from my table complete with cloth, teapots and china cup everything looks calm and civilised. Just the distant white tops foaming and prancing give an indication of what might be the other side of the glass.

The Velbon travel tripod stood up well to buffeting from the wind during the 25 second exposures with the light held back by a HiTech 10 stop IRND filter. This created an unnaturally misty and still ocean which looked calm and dare I say it tranquil in the final exposure.

On setting up the next shot just before the shutter was depressed a rogue wave hit the rock I was balancing on and created up spray that shot over my head and soaked me and camera with equal disregard for the damage that salt water can do to sensitive Japanese electronics that live inside the Fuji XPro1.

Dripping and a bit cold I make a hasty retreat to higher ground my mind creating news headlines, “Photographer swept from rocks in worst storm of the winter” My imagination was running free. This was a mild blow, maybe 4 or 5 on the Beaufort scale. It became apparent to me that I had been away from the sea for far too long.

At Portland Bill there are some views that all photographers aim to get. The old jib crane to the Dorset side of the lighthouse. Portland Bill itself with rocky ledges in the foreground. Pulpit Rock and the waves crashing around then maybe the old fisherman’s huts which these days are more likely to store bucket and spade than fishing nets or lobster pots.

Tea is nearly drank. time to venture once more out into the tempest for more photography. The light is dropping so shots will be better. Just need to find some interesting compositions.Image

View from the ledges by the gib crane

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Notice on Pulpit Rock

It seems health and safety gets everywhere these days.

In order to reach this notice you have already risked broken legs clambering over boulders that I’m not sure whether they were left by the sea or quarrymen years ago.

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Portland Bill and waves hitting the ledges

I had to lean against Pulpit Rock to get this shot.  It was too windy for the tripod and there was little or no protection from the spray.  Surprisingly the images have failed to convert the ferocity of the weather or it just felt worse than it actually was.  A low tide kept the worst of the waves away from me.

All fairly standard set of pictures from Portland today.  This was primarily a scouting trip for a night shoot I hope to do soon.  I went with the intention of long exposure images but these didn’t do justice to the weather experienced.Image

Pulpit Rock

Note the imprint of a fossil in the foreground.  This must have been quite a find.

Beaufort Wind Scale

0 Calm Sea like a mirror
1 Light air Ripples but without foam crests
2 Light breeze Small wavelets. Crests do not break
3 Gentle breeze Large wavelets. Perhaps scattered white horses
4 Moderate breeze Small waves. Fairly frequent white horses
5 Fresh breeze Moderate waves. Many white horses
6 Strong breeze Large waves begin to form; white foam crests. Probably spray
7 Near gale Sea heaps up and white foam blown in streaks along the direction of the wind
8 Gale Moderately high waves. Crests begin to break into spindrift. The foam is blown in well marked streaks along the direction of the wind
9 Severe gale High waves. Dense foam along the direction of the wind. Crests of waves begin to roll over. Spray may affect visibility
10 Storm Very high waves with long overhanging crests. The surface of the sea takes a white appearance. The tumbling of the sea becomes heavy and shock-like. Visibility affected

Led Continuous Lighting

With the amazing low light iso performance of the fuji xpro1 and xe1 I have come to the conclusion that for portraits flash is largely unnecessary in the studio unless I am looking for clean and crisp high key with arctic white backgrounds.

For Hollywood noir I have been using lupolux daylight fresnel units and photofloods from lupolux and Paterson. These units are large and imposing but produce a gorgeous wrap around light. They are cool running but over a couple of hours still get warm.

After seeing a couple of examples of LED’s in use by Damien Lovegrove and Mark Cleghorn I’ve moved into trying LED light banks. A couple of small led units were procured from Amazon which cost around £20 each. These are each around the size of a box of maltesers and run on various types of batteries including AA’s. During a shoot I can hold the unit and position it so the exact light and shadow is applied. With the AA’s each unit gives full light output for 5 hours.

Results are stunning. I had intended to render images black and white but colour and skin tone was rich and satisfying so ended up copying images and having colour and monochrome versions.

Have fashioned some lighting modifiers with silver insulation bubble wrap and gaffer tape so light can be even more controlled and diffused with fabric and lace to give a dappled and more natural effect.

Next have a couple more different units winging their way to me from China so will add a comparison and images to this over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime I recommend you experiment too.