I have a whole host of dusty cameras now sitting at home largely due to the iPhone 6 camera being so incredibly good. So it doesn’t do ISO 2000 or won’t spit out a RAW file but it’s always there and you know like Chase Jarvis once said
“The best camera you have is the one you have with you”
And the iPhone is always with me.
One of the ones I look at longingly is the Fujifilm X100. It’s the original one and is a bit slow, a bit battered and not the latest by any stretch of the imagination. For a long time it was a permanent fixture around my neck or nestled in my hand ready to use. For some reason I stopped using it. I stopped thinking I’d see anything worth taking pictures of. Part of it was also that I take pictures for a job, albeit part time, and there’s an association of work with using a camera. Whilst work of most forms is good you often don’t want to associate with it at weekends.
So it was nice a few weekends ago to grab it for a walk round town. Emma was surprised to see it, I was surprised I was using it and I was surprised I enjoyed using it again so much.
I’ve ridden over this bridge most weekday nights for the last seven or so years. It’s always a treat to glance left and right at the best view in London. I’ve posted more photos of this view to Flickr and Instagram than I should have and yet it’s still able to surprise you with its beauty.
Tonight I cycled back after a shitty day at work and was blown away by the colours in the reflections of the glass on the towers of the City.
It’s a terrible photo and sadly doesn’t do the scene any real justice. After I’d taken the photo I put my phone away and just admired the sheer beauty of it all. The fade of the light reminded me of 80’s and 90’s airbrush art where there was a super exaggerated chromed look in a lot of the work. Strangely it also reminded me of the Les Rhythms Digitales artwork.
A link to these popped up on Twitter earlier which reminded me of a lovely conversation Emma and I had with Brian a while back about his series of diptychs he was planning for a project. That project is now in full swing and producing some beautiful results.
The work is presented as diptychs, a hangover from childhood when I would stare at landscapes first through the left eye and then through the right, delighted by the differences in the two views.
Another one to add to the “I wish I’d thought of that” photography project ideas folder. I can’t wait to get a print and see the final book. In the meantime check out the entire series.
I’ve been more than a little sceptical about Cyclocross recently. It seems to be the new cool thing to do and that always seems to make me more than a little suspicious. Is it amazing or just a new fad? Emma once said this about people riding fixed as a fashion.
It’s like yo-yos. They’ll find something else in a bit.
Anyway, putting my prejudices to one side for a bit I wandered down to Herne Hill Velodrome on New Years day to sweat out some of my hangover and see what all the fuss was about. I also wanted to have a go at taking some pictures of moving objects rather than those inanimate buildings I normally do. It was also a good chance to use the 70-200 ƒ2.8, which rarely finds a reason to be used.
I got there mid way during the juniors race which looked like fun. I couldn’t really work out the course at first but gradually got the idea. I found a few places that might be good to spectate and take pics. A few friends arrived and we settled on the top left corner where the course dives down to the railway embankment and then back up and over and back towards the velodrome.
I had a go with a few test shots of some of the juniors who seemed to be flying around. Some of which were inconceivably tiny to my mind.
As well as the warm up laps the main group were doing. The Christmas tree chicane was one of my favourite parts of the course. A nice bit of imagination there from the course designers. Nice to see a few little playful touches appearing.
After that I said hello to Will and his teammate David before getting a few shots of the start and moving up to my preferred position for the rest of the race.
A few of the Vicious Velo lot were there and I had previously been told to shout various obscenities at them by Andy, which I of course obliged. I felt kind of guilty about it as none of them were smiling. Only Kev managed a set of the vees as requested and a smile. But at least they confirmed later on Twitter that the ‘encouragement’ was appreciated it’s just that it was hideously hard to raise a smile when working that much – which I can fully understand.
Running up that hill looked hideous really and whilst there weren’t many spectators, most seemed to congregate there to shout encouragement and generally observe the trickiest bit.
Some of the younger riders seemed to be running rings around the older ones. Some people described them as “just floating over it all” which seemed apt. Equally as entertaining to watch too.
So a lovely few hours at the Velodrome and I fully appreciate the skill and effort that goes into CX. It was a shame there weren’t more spectators but most people were probably nursing crushing mind altering hangovers at home. I can’t say I’m crazy about entering one but I’d definitely go and watch and support more Brixton or Vicious riders at another event. It was also really nice to use my camera again off a tripod!
Now I’m not sure if this has ever been on my wish list as a feature but it’s pretty good to see Adobe come out with an iOS version that syncs with Lightroom. It’s not a self contained version but a companion app to the full Lightroom which you need to have on your PC/Mac. You also need to be running version 5.4 and have a Creative Cloud account which I’m a massive fan of. At £8.50 a month for Lightroom, Photoshop and Bridge I’m happy to pay for legal software.
Anyway to use it you download your shots to your host machine. Create a collection and right click and choose sync with Lightroom mobile.
Then pop over to your iPad and see the photos appear in the app. They’re not the actual photos but enough data to render a decent sized preview and some metadata which gets synced back to your host machine. You have the usual grid of images which is fairly familiar to work with.
Tapping on an image takes you to a larger view where you can flick up to pick and down to reject. This is the first part of my editing process so it’s nice to be able to do this bit from the sofa before heading back to the machine to do more in depth edits. Having done my picks you can then sort by this to then go in and do a bit more work.
Whilst you’d never really want to do colour accurate work on an iPad it’s nice to be able to flick through and have a rough edit at exposure and white balance.
It’s also possible to do crops, add clarity and contrast and most of the basic edits and the overlaid histogram helps. The interface for the white balance presets is pretty intuitive and the previews are nice for those who are less familiar with white balance adjustment. There are also presets but these are the stock ones not any you’ve built yourself. I’m sure these will come soon though.
My iPad mini wasn’t entirely up to rendering my X100 files, or previews of, overly quickly but I guess this is aimed at a new iPad air which has far better graphics. Still it’s nothing that would stop me working, just at a slightly more leisurely pace perhaps.
When I got back to the Mac my work had all synced and I went in and did a little more and fine tuned a few. 80& of what I had done was good though. I did some brush work on a few to bring out some detail which clearly couldn’t be done on the iPad at this stage although the touch screen would make this very intuitive.
The last part of this process was to add my shots to the map which I sometimes do. I noticed that it was still syncing back to the cloud and after a while it crashed.
Unfortunately this meant killing the sync and starting again. My data had made it all one way though so I’m not too bothered about this.
Obviously this has only just been released so I’m not going to be too critical but it’s pretty promising stuff. I wish there was a way to edit my main Lightroom catalog with my laptop from the sofa without VNC or separate catalogues though. Great to see Adobe doing this kind of development and including it for Creative Cloud subscribers. Judging by the comments on the App Store others aren’t as keen.
I wrote a little while back about how one of my photos went a little bit crazy on Flickr. It was a misty iPhone shot and it got over 9000 views in a day. I thought that was pretty good at the time. I also commented at the time about how it was almost inconceivable a few years back for me that an iPhone shot would be uploaded to Flickr by me.
Now it’s not me saying I’m amazing, I’m not, and this was just a shot of some mist and being there at the right time. What does surprise me is that quality of the camera in the iPhone and how much I didn’t actually miss my proper camera.
So since that I’d had another shot be quite popular – another snap I’d taken whilst waiting at a set of traffic lights in the car – with the handbrake on obviously and not breaking the law for a photo.
It was reasonably popular on Instagram so popped it onto Flickr whilst bored in the post office queue or something. It’s the same kind of thing – iPhone + VSCO + right time = popular photo. That got 60+ favourites and 9000+ views.
So again I was bored and thought I’d add something to my Flickr page. There’s a need to keep it fresh and I hadn’t sat down to edit any photos for a while. So I chucked this one up and went to bed.
I mean this really is a snap in every sense of the word. When I uploaded the square version of this to Instagram I cropped out my friend from the left. It’s also quite badly composed.
I didn’t add to any groups or try and draw any traffic to it at all. It then went stupidly crazy. As of checking now it’s had of 71,000 views and 270 favourites! It went to the top of explore and stayed there all day which is completely bonkers. Just to re-iterate my original point, I’m not blowing my own trumpet. This is a very average shot I’m just intrigued by what is popular on any given day and how things rise up in Flickr’s Explore page.
This is my stats graph for the day after it got into Explore.
Two days worth of 50k+ views on that picture and the rest of my stream. That’s nuts. I had to turn notifications off as my phone was buzzing all the time. And to prove it all here’s it’s position on the Explore page and what else was interesting. The other thing is that my three most viewed photos are now all iPhone shots which again is madness in my mind considering what I used to think of phone shots.
Last Sunday Emma and I went for a bit of a wander in town, poked our heads in a few shops, grabbed a coffee and headed up to the Photographers Gallery. I took my camera with me but due to it being cold the battery died. So this is the only shot I got all day which was pretty annoying.
I was a little disappointed with the Photographers Gallery overall. The entrance sequence is very strange and you end up piling on top of people as you enter due to the tiny area to buy tickets. Then you have to turn around and cross back over those same people to get to the stair which is very cramped.
The first floor exhibition was the Warhol images. Some were interesting but most had very little meaning to me. Nothing of any real value in my mind. It was rammed too and you felt like you were on a badly design conveyor belt.
Next up was the Burroughs floor. Nope, sorry, he may have been a wonderful writer but these were just snaps and a series on a filing cabinet. Even worse was the text that went with the images that aimed to overlay an implied sense of meaning to something ordinary over 40 years later. Not at all engaging at all to my mind.
Just when I thought all was lost we got to the top floor to see the David Lynch exhibition. For some reason it felt more spacious which was probably helped by less people cramming in to see it. There was less of a conveyor belt feeling too and the prints were bigger and had more impact which also helped. Lynch also chose a soundtrack for his images which further enhanced the impact of his work although its very subtle. It’s dark and brooding but somehow avoids the ruin porn cliche. Well worth seeing, just avoid the first two floors. Your mileage may vary obviously. The four quid price of entry is a bargain for the Lynch exhibition.
Here’s a couple of the Lynch Photos. The exhibition is on until the 30th March.
A few weekends back I went back to the West Country to see my Mum, some friends, ride a bike and go to the dentist – the same one I’ve been going to for the last 25 years. On Sat I headed down the M5 to see my Aunty who lives in Brent Knoll near West-Super-Mare. My mum and my Dad are both from that area.
One of the things we used to do when we were younger was go and explore the now derelict fort on Brean Down. Brean Down is a rocky outcrop poking out into the Bristol Channel just west of Weston and overlooked by Uphill. It’s had various incarnations of a fort on the outer reaches of the land mass over time with the latter being of second world war origin.
The site has a long history, because of its prominent position. The earliest recorded settlement is from the Early to Middle Bronze Age.
The current buildings were constructed in the 1860s as one of the Palmerston Forts to provide protection to the ports of the Bristol Channel, and was decommissioned in 1901. During World War II it was rearmed and used for experimental weapons testing.
But what interested me so much about it is that I had memories of the fort and walks around it as a child. When I thought back to it they seemed completely vivid and still strong in my mind. Yet when we walked up the stairs to the top of the hill it all seemed entirely new to me.
The idea of memory is a fascinating idea to me and I think about it a lot, especially in relation to photography and imagery. I was somehow shocked that something could be so utterly different. I don’t seem to remember the long walk in or the compact nature of the site or the general form or arrangement of it. I also think that certain areas had been closed off and made safe since the National Trust had taken it over but even so I was till confused and at points not sure I had referenced the right place in my mind. This further makes you question what memory is and how the mind overlays its own additions in later years.
Regardless of relation back to childhood memory I was really blown away, quite literally in places, by the area. The sense of exposure, the wind, the height and the views over Weston, Burnham-on-Se and the Bristol Channel were incredible. It was sunny just long enough for us to get to the Fort and back before it closed in and started raining.
We had a look around the end and I clambered over some rocks at which point I realised how exposed I was and how rough the sea looked beneath me.
We also had a poke around the old gun emplacement which had a strong stench of sheep poo. Looking down we could see why, it was everywhere.
The mixture of the weathered concrete against the colours of the sea and the rocky outcrop made for a few nice snaps. I’d love to spend a few days there with a tripod though. So many photo opportunities! After that we made our way back along the lower path which was far less exposed and back to the van.
It really is a stunning place and well worth a visit if you’re ever in that part of the world. The Guardian even lists it as one of the best 10 walks in the UK.