BLOG 11 - A LINE IN THE SAND

AUGUST 2020 - A NEW START

In the UK we have emerged from our first Covid-19 lock down and we are trying to return to a normal life as best we can before the second wave. It has been a frustrating time, scary at times but also a time to reflect and take stock. I have made the most of working from home and some good weather and been cycling more on my road bike. My photography has been on the back burner for a while even before covid and a couple of weeks ago I asked myself when did I last take a photograph?

The last street images I took in Liverpool were in May 2019 with the only other images of HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier when it visited Liverpool in March 2020. I had provided 3 large prints for the office refurbishment earlier in the year which I think look really good (in my opinion!) see Blog 10.

I chose to sell the Fujifilm X100F earlier in the year as it was sitting getting dusty in the cupboard and was not being used. It needed to go to a better home. There was nothing wrong with the camera, it actually a very good camera and is great for ‘streets’ and day to day photos. I have the new X100V on the bucket list for the future.

Reflection

I have spent some time of the last few weeks looking at my photographs from the last 20 years and I have come to a number of conclusions:

  • Too much variety and different genres
  • I am not a landscape photographer
  • I am not a ‘street’ photographer
  • MY IMAGES ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH

The last one is quite a big one but I have to be honest with myself. I do have some images that just about make the grade but overall the standard of the images is just not good enough. Good enough for what though? I don’t enter competitions so that is not really the issue. I just think overall I want to raise my game and image quality. I also think that the standard of digital photography has influenced this opinion of my previous images.

Landscape photography is not for me and I have tried, but all I end up doing is taking images of rocks and water falls. I have also tried ‘street’ photography and I did not like the covert feeling and the lack of contact or connection with the subject. For example, here is a picture of someone walking in/out of a strong shadow, who? Don’t know. Street photography has become more popular in recent years but it is not easy and I think just walking down the street snapping everything and everyone is not what it is about.

For me there has to be a story or connection with the location and or subject. Whether you call this documentary, reportage or whatever I think the photography is stronger. If you listen t Steve McCurry interviews, one of the greatest photographers of our time, he says there must be a connection between photographer and subject. Even if this is a nod, a smile or a discussion before or after the image is taken there is at least something and not just a blind snap.

So how do I fix my own dilemma?

A new start is required, I have to draw a line under all my previous images, genres, approaches etc and start a fresh. This is not straightforward as I am still going through a back log of scanning old negatives and slides for processing. I am also completing my digital versions of my darkroom print lectures of Bangkok and Thailnd in B&W. Once these are done then the line in the sand will be drawn and the door closed. Move on!

So my initial thoughts and the cunning plan is as follows:

  • Work on projects
  • Quality not quantity
  • Create a style
  • Digital Xpan to continue
  • Its not about the gear – keep it simple
  • Create a consistent workflow for post processing
  • Do not share on social media early
  • Buy a photo book every month
  • Print or create books of work
  • Takes photos 4 ME

Realistically it may be 2021 before I can really start to get back to some normality assuming covid has diminished.

I have written down a few ideas on the ‘projects’ and these may include adding to some existing images I have. Being able to travel will also be key to some of these projects.

With regards to having a consistent workflow I have been thinking hard on this one. To date my workflow has been mainly in Lightroom with some use of Topaz clarity and B&W plugins. The majority of this processing has been on film scans so I have not utilised the full potential of Lightroom. I hardly ever use Photoshop to be honest and it has advanced a lot in recent upgrades I would be lost with undergoing training.

There is also the issue of Fujifilm raw files and the infamous ‘worms’ in Lightroom. When I purchased the X-T3 I was unaware that Lightroom did not process the X-trans sensor images as well as other software packages. At the moment, my intention is to develop my workflow in Capture One for all new Fuji images going forward and also using Silver Efex for B&W images.

On the gear front, I want to purchase some prime lenses for the X-T3 and an X100V for when travel returns to normal. I have even been considering buying another D810 as I now appreciate the image quality and ease of processing but have forgotten carrying the heavy 2kg body and lens around!

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