I used the Fuji X-Pro1 60mm f2.4 at couple of 1940’s events over the last couple of weekends, Kelham Island Sheffield and East Park Hull. Probably the most challenging of things to shoot were the Spitfire/Hurricane Flypast at the Hull Veterans weekend. I intended to use my Nikon D700 with 80-200mm but was caught out after being told the flypast would be Sunday. It actually happened very late on Saturday. I only had time to flick to AFC and shoot fortunately the camera was set as described in my last post resulting in the aircraft images included below. The exposures were f11 1/350 or better all at ISO 400.
Today I added the Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 macro lens to the Fuji X-Pro1 XF 18mm f2 & XF 27mm f2.8 in my kit bag. My understanding is the XF 60mm f2.4 is a tad on the slow side when it comes to focusing, especially if compared to the rather more expensive XF 56mm f1.2 but is there away to gain an edge if using the XF 60mm for anything other than Macro work?
I would say yes and the trick is understand the problem and plan ahead. Think what you want to achieve with the camera lens combination. One thing I want to try with the lens is some candid portraits and grab shots without getting too close to a subject. The problem that needs to be overcome with the Fuji is a combination of slow focusing lens and the fact the the Contrast Detection AF (CDAF) employed by the X-Pro1 cant predict where the subject is going to be. I should probably also point out that unlike a DSLRs which use Phase Detection AF (PDAF) you don’t press the shutter halfway down to start the continuous AF. The correct way to use AFC on the X-Pro1 is to aim the camera at the subject with the cross hairs on the bit you want sharp and squeeze the shutter release in a single movement until the camera fires. I figured a small enough aperture with a reasonable DOF would help the focusing but as with all cameras that results in a drop in shutter speed and the possibility of losing the sharpness to camera shake or subject movement. My first instinct was to wind the ISO up but that has two drawbacks first is a drop in image quality second is a danger of over exposure in bright light. Fortunately the X-Pro1 has the option to program an Auto ISO. You get to tell the camera the minimum & maximum ISO you want to use and the minimum shutter speed it should be trying to achieve. What it doesn’t do is stop the camera working if the shutter speed drops too low it just tries to get up there if it can.
After a little fiddling about I settled on a minimum ISO of 800 a maximum of 6400 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/250. With the aperture set to f5.6 and AF set to continuous I roped in some help from my partner and our dog. As you can see from the images I had her throw a dog toy towards me so he would run towards camera chasing it. Each of the four images below is from a different throw of the toy. There were five throws in all and the results are pretty consistent for a slow focusing macro lens. The first throw I failed miserably and got only grass throws 2, 3, 4, 5 resulted in the images below. They have been cropped but still I think they are pretty impressive. You can find the camera settings for each shot in the captions. I have included the Thistle, shot in Macro, and the dog portrait to give a feel for what can expected if you forget to change the setting back to your ‘usual’ ones for situations that are more sedate.
I have to admit It was a glorious sunny day and the results may not be so good in poor lighting conditions but I feel I may just have an edge that maximises my chance of the subject being in focus while minimising the chance of camera shake with a set of camera settings that alow the X-Pro1 and Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 Macro lens to be used quickly and without too much though of anything other than composition.
Sheffield News Images – One of the things people considering getting into news photography don’t consider, especially when thinking about freelancing, is covering stories like this. Work has been very thin on the ground recently and sometimes in order to stay in business you end up going out on spec to stories like this one.
A man has been charged with murder after the death of a 3 year old girl in Sheffield. An ambulance was called to a house on Beck Road Shiregreen Sheffield on Friday 8th February and a 3 year old was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where she died in the early hours of Saturday Morning . A man aged 30 appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court on Monday morning Charged with Murder.
Once you have the images the next job is ringing around to sell your speculatively shot images. News photography isn’t always all about glamour, celebrity, sport and big occasions its also about people, tragedy and death. This job I supplied to a news agency who will try to place the images and story.
If you are interested in using any of the images on this story they can be obtained by contacting Caters News Agency
Mam Tor on the Western end of the Hope Valley in the Peak District is a 517 metres /1696 feet hill. Known as Mother Hill around 3000 years ago a group of Celtic People built a Bronze Age hill fort here and called it home.
Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain because of its instability. A land slip that probably began in pre-historic times and is still active today has opened up the whole side of Mam Tor, revealing what’s inside. It’s a classic example of a rotational landslip and during heavy or prolonged rainfall water seeps between the layers of rock causing them to become slippery. This allows the different layers shale and sandstone of to slide over one another resulting in further land slips. Experts believe this will only stop when face of the land slip reaches 30 degrees in probably another 1500 years.
Don’t expect to visit here and be able enjoy solitude especially at weekends not even on a cold January Winters day. It is such a popular spot that steps and a paved path have been added to protect Mam Tor from the thousands upon thousands of feet that tramp over it every day.
As we get to the end of one more year I thought I might go through my archive of photographs and do a 2011 in pictures blog. A straight forward enough idea look back and choose some images but then came the questions…
How do I choose them?
From a whole year how many should I choose?
What about if I had 3 really nice photographs for one month but weaker ones shot in another?
Should I include personal photographs?
I decided I would choose one image taken during each month of the year, this would naturally limit the me to 12 photographs and force me to show some images I may not otherwise have selected. This collection of photographs is not a list of the 12 biggest news stories or celebrities or PR jobs I shot during the year. It’s not even necessarily the best 12 photographs I produced in 2011. It is a personal choice of pictures which are my some of my favourite photographs, some produced as commissioned images and others as personal images, one from each month of the year.
January 2011 – Hatfields Jaguar Dealer Principal Andrew Jeffery in the refurbished show room on Sharrow Vale Rd PR image commissioned by PFPR. This was one of my very first photographs of the year I really like the way I was able to both the Jaguar and Hatfields Brands in the same photograph despite them being in separate places,its not something that can always be achieved when building a PR photograph using two brand names.
February 2011 – Chris Huhne Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change visits Casa hotel in Chesterfield to hear about the hotel buildings energy efficient design and renewable energy. PR Image Commissioned by Bonner and Hindley This one is a very straight forward un posed grabshot I think its the light I love on this large windows in the boardroom allowed bags on even natural light in.
March 2011 – A protester grabbed by police after crossing the “Ring of Steel” fence in Barkers Pool, outside Sheffield city Hall where the Liberal Democrats are holding their Party conference Conference. A grabshot on a 17-35mm wide with the full frame Nikon D 700. I caught movement out on the corner of my eye and turned to see the police grabbing this protester after he had climbed over the metal barriers. Photograph shot on spec
April 2011 – Dancing on Ice Photocall Motorpoint Arena Hayley Tamaddon and Denise Welch joke in front of the cameras After posing with their dancing partners in the show Haley and Denise wandered back across to the photographers and began a few outlandish poses as though they were a dance couple. I grabbed a several photographs but especially like this frame, it captures the point at which they posing stopped and dropped into fits of laughter Photograph shot on spec.
May 2011 – My partner Aileen as watches the other runners cross the finish line while looking for her two young granddaughters who were also running. She had just completed the “Race for life” at Calendar Park in Falkirk. Personal Image
June 2011 – A wild Poppy growing on waste ground in Ecclesfield. As a freelance I carry a camera everywhere this was photograph was taken during a Monday morning walk with my camera when business was quiet. Photographed for use as a Stock image.
July 2011 – The Ponderosa “Spam” 1940’s war weekend held in Heckmondwike. Reenactors from the Northern World War Two Association portray German Panzergrenadiers from the Elite Heer (army) GrossDeutschland Division, defending a camouflaged mortar pit from attacking allied troops. Personal Photography Project
August 2011 – Wallace chases a ball in Ecclesfield Park while out walking. I took this on a borrowed 300mm F2.8 Nikon hand-held. I was about to do sport for a newspaper for the first time in a number of years and thought I would get a bit of practice in. Personal Image.
September 2011– Walkers Fresh Hot Crisp Tour comes to Barkers Pool Sheffield as Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner Shows the three simple things that go into making a bag of crisps PR Image Commissioned by Freud Communications .
October 2011 – Complete with coffin, candles and gravestones a Vampire Fashion Show part of Sheffield’s Fashion Week. Photograph shot on Spec
November 2011 – A small wooden cross and poppy of the type that can be found on almost every War Memorial in the UK. This one was standing in among the remains of an old stone building on top of one the hills overlooking Langsett Reservoir on the Sunday after remembrance Sunday. Alone and out of the expected context it makes a poignant image. Photographed for use as a stock picture.
December 2011 – I spotted this during a nine mile walk around Grenoside woods on a very wet and dismal overcast Sunday afternoon. It was exactly the type of day that you don’t expect to get a usable photographs then I saw this large old fern it looked like something from the set of Jurassic Park. Photographed for use as a stock picture.
So there it is my year in photographs, no beaches in summer, no fireworks in November and no Santas in December
November kicked off as a bit of a celebrity Meadowhall month. Starting, appropriately, on the first of the month with a WH Smith book signing by Leigh Francis. In character as TV JUICE host Keith Lemon he was on a promotional book tour for ‘Keith Lemon: The Rules”. A popular read looking at the queues. So popular in fact the signing started early and finished an hour and half later than scheduled, despite Smiths taking the book off sale to avoid fans being disappointed by not getting their copy signed. Leigh Francis is also known for his character Barry Gibson the music paparazzi and his portrayal of celebrities in Bo’ Selecta!
Two Days later, 3rd of November, that’s right not even bonfire night and the behemoth that is the UK retail sales industry is getting into Christmas mode. The Meadowhall Christmas Lights Switch on Concert, an event that strangely had no switch in sight, or Christmas lights either. The fans didn’t care they were there for the acts, besides the event was raising money for Cash for Kids and Meadowhall’s Charity of the Year, Helen’s Trust and with a 15,000 capacity and entry fee of £2.50 that was going to be a success.
Opening act was Tinchy Strider which seemed surprising for artist with 3 top ten chart places, 2 of which reached the number 1 spot. As he left the audience were informed Tinchy was hopping on a helicopter which would fly him down to London where he had a second gig later that night.
Next up Dance group Rational followed by Bee, Holly, Lizzy and Rianna, the Girl group Vanquish then a quick chat and song from Sam Clark, Australian singer/song-writer/actor from Adelade, probably best known as Ringo Brown in Neighbours. The second Girl group of the night was Girl Next Door.
Listed as one to watch Encore recently supported N Dubz and Jessie J. Encore are Mark Asari, Cairo Benn and Pierre Jermaine. If your looking for more info on them its worth noting their web presence seems to be Want more Encore not just Encore.
Six D had some chart success back in the summer when their début single “Best Damn Night” entered the UK top 10. If you think you have seen them somewhere before check the X-Factor talk talk Ads where they appear as dancers.
Cover Drive all the way from Barbados felt the cold. ” We’re not used to this weather” singer Amanda told the audience, backed by T-Ray, Bar-Man and Jamar. They released their first single “Lick Ya Down” in August, it entered the charts at #9 and the début album is due for release soon.
Next very talented Ronan Parke the 13 year old Britain’s Got Talent runner up. Ronan made the headlines after Simon Cowell went to the police over allegations that his company SyCo had fixed the show so Ronan would win.
Headlining and officially switching on the Meadowhall Christmas lights, Matt Cardle. Winner of X-Factor 2010 he held the Christmas number 1 spot with “When Worlds Collide” and his new album “Letters” has just been released in time Christmas.
Want see more from Meadowhalls Christmas Lights Switch on Concert? Check out my Facebook Fan Page the link is on the left.
Ever wondered what you can photograph with a Digital SLR and 50mm standard lens in the Dark?
Ever wondered how much use the built in flash is on a Digital SLR?
Take a look at this little fellow. We found him in the middle of the patio at 21:40 on summer night in South Yorkshire. Now he isn’t the type of creature you meet around here on a regular basis so I thought he was worth a photograph if only to document what he is. Caught on a wide open patio suddenly lit by a bright outside light with our dog and my partner staring at him from on high had me worried that the the little blighter would have legged it by the time I got back. No time for messing with flash guns and lens swaps I grabbed my digital SLR camera with 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens already fitted and got back outside at the double. He was still there so I grabbed a quick record shot from above looking directly down then decided to use the “get on the subjects level approach.
Laying down I used Autofocus to focus on the head and edged forward until the lens reached the closest point of focus. The D700 was already set to 640 ISO and Aperture Priority so I popped up the built in flash checked the viewfinder info,1/60 at F4, and fired off a single frame. I expected the little guy scarper but he didn’t. Now worried the the flash and/or stress of the situation may cause him some permanent damage I decided two frames were enough and we left we left him alone in the dark to go about his business.
Camera Nikon D700 with 12.1 mega-pixel full frame CMOS Sensor
Lens Nikon F1.8 “Standard” Lens
Built in Flash
File Format NEF
Shutter 1/60th of a Second
The resulting image was still a very small reptile in the centre of a rather large frame so I decided a little cropping and post production interpolation was need. The NEF file was opened on the PC and at this stage I made adjustments to highlights/shadows added a little sharpening and interpolated the image from The D700 best quality of 12.1 Mega-Pixel (4256 X 2832 pixels) to a 25.1 Mega-pixel ( 6144 X 4088 pixels).
Once open the image was cropped, without constrained proportions, resulting in an photograph of approximately 3 X 2 inches at 300 ppi. Wanting a larger end result I interpolated that up in size again. Using Bicubic Smoother setting I made the longest edge 10 inches. That left the final tightly cropped image as a 10 x 6.5 inches 300ppi photograph or 3000 X 1959 pixels.
I may have just over done the size increase but the image was never going to be a “National Geographic” pin sharp, full page, quality picture anyway. Considering the situation and equipment, a 50mm standard lens lit by the pop up camera flash in the dark I don t think is too bad.
If anyone can Identify just what this little guy is I would love to know.
They say Britain is a nation of dog lovers, they also say never work with children or animals. Have you ever tried photographing your pet pooch only to be disappointed by the results. Here (in no particular order) are a handful of photography tips to help you achieve better results when you’re photographing mans best friend.
First rule of all portrait photography is focus on the eyes. Most dogs have long snouts, so if you focus on the nose the eyes can be out of focus.
Most humans are tall compared to a dog, so get down and shoot from their eye level see the world as they do.
Have a hyperactive dog who just cant stay still? Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement when they are running and jumping.
For the older or more sedate natured dog, try a wider aperture setting. This will help reduce distractions by throwing the background out of focus. Don’t forget “most dogs have long snouts” if the aperture setting is too wide your best friend could end up with a burred nose.
Some dogs are natural posers, you can get good shots just by getting them to sit while holding their attention with a treat or toy. For most distraction is the key give them something to do or play with that you know they love then you work around them.
Don’t always work alone and do a little planning. Get another member of the family to hold your hound while you move some distance away. On a preprepared signal get your helper to let your pet pooch go and you grab some great action shots as the dog comes charging towards you. If your auto focus is slow or you dont have follow focus try pre focusing the camera on a fixed spot you the dog will run through and fire the shutter as they cross the focus point.
Sticking with the theme of helpers why photograph your dog in isolation? Get someone you love and who the dog is relaxed with to interact and capture that on camera.
Make it fun! Photography may be fun for you but most dogs are not the type who will happily perform on command for the camera. Make things fun for your pet and it will show up in your photographs through the dogs body language.
Watch, not the one on your wrist! Watch with your eyes. Your dog is genetically 80% wolf, so while walking with your dog and camera take time to watch and learn its instinctive behaviour and try to capture a more subtle side of your pets character in your photography.
Know your dog. Good photography can often come from to knowing your subject and being able to predict what’s going to happen.
Sometimes all you need to make a photograph really work for you is a caption!
Right at the start I mentioned they say “never work with children or animals” well here is another tip – many of those tips work with kids too.
How To Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish?
Recently I wrote a guest post “What Makes A Good PR Photo” for Leeds based Quest PR’s blog. Bloggers will tell you that posts work best at around 300 to 500 words and it was while trying to work within these constraints I realised what I do, what all good PR photographers do, is far too complex to impart as a “How To” in 500 words or less. I was barely scratching the surface of “What Makes A Good PR Photo”let alone how to produce one and that led to this post.
How does a professional PR Photographer Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish? He or she considers all the things below and more, though not necessarily in list order.
Is the image sharp?
Where should I focus for best effect?
Shall I use a wide aperture or narrow aperture?
Fast or slow shutter speed?
Natural light or Full flash, Fill-in flash?
Will anything fool the camera meter?
Do I choose Wide Angle Standard or Telephoto lens?
Which camera will be best for the job?
Is it best Mounted on a tripod, monopod or hand-held?
Use camera mounted flash or portable studio flash?
What elements best tell the story?
Which do I include, what gets left out?
Is the background relevant?
Can it be made relevant or is it just distracting?
What’s the best way to set this up for maximum visual impact?
Do I put movement into to an image?
If I do should movement be frozen or allowed to streak ?
Shall I isolate the subject with a blurred background?
Use front to back picture sharpness?
How many people do I use and why?
What’s the message my client is trying to get across?
How do I get the branding in?
Does it look natural or forced or just ruin the picture entirely?
What style do I need to shoot in?
Where will the images appear?
Have done Upright and landscape shape?
Beyond considering all of the above the professional PR photographer needs people skills in bucketfuls. Some people are lucky they just enjoy being photographed and/or are simply photogenic. Many are not, good results are required even when the subject hates being in front of a camera. Photographers need to work with people from all spheres of society all ages all outlooks all political persuasions and a good photographer can deal with just about anyone. Sometimes the image will require getting people to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of doing. Other occasions it will require the photographer do something they wouldn’t normally dream of doing.
In short How To Create A Good PR Photo…..
Understand your equipment, use it to best technical effect, understand the brief, interpret it creatively, work well with people and get the best from them in what can sometimes be quite difficult situations.
Everyone misses a picture, even the pros don’t get every shot every time but sometimes, just sometimes there is something you can do to salvage an image you really wanted but just didn’t quite get.
The photograph below is my cousin with his niece at a family party. I spotted the opportunity grabbed the camera and the shot unfortunately having consumed the odd (double) Bacardi and Coke or two I missed one small but very important detail, the on button for the flash. Three frames later, the moment has passed and the best of the three images is the one below, rather orangey red, dark and slightly too soft.
For the technically minded it was shot on a Nikon D700 and 50mm f1.8 lens. The settings were manually set to: 1000 ISO, f4.5, 1/60th sec.
On the night I wrote off the shot as a duff one but I didn’t delete it, I never do, I think its because, back in the days of film, I was taught never throw away a negative. The next morning , well OK lunchtime, it was a great party and we did have one or two more of those Bacardi and Cokes, I spotted the shot again and considered it worthy of five minutes TLC. My first instinct was to lighten it and try and take some of the redness out. While I was pleasantly pleased with the results of lightening the photograph it quickly became apparent that recovery wasn’t going to be totally successful thanks to masses of colour noise while trying to get the colour balance right, at which point I decided to get all retro and just turn the thing Black and White. A little more fiddling this time with contrast and unsharp mask to loose some of the softness in the photograph and finally a little cropping to tighten the picture up and hey presto the result……..
You cant make a silk purse out of sows ear, as they say, and the same goes when trying to recover a photograph like this one. Sometimes a mistake will leave you with an image that really is not salvageable, no matter how skilled you are or how much time and effort you put into it, so be realistic. This photograph will never be a technically perfect image it will always be a little soft and a little noisy but it does leave me with a satisfied smile, especially after reading mums comments about her daughters photo in my Facebook photo album.