Posted on March 4, 2014
So, I have an exhibition opening in just over two weeks, twenty-two images that until March 20th will have only been seen by me. In my head, six months ago, everything was going to be finished by now – shot, printed and framed. But as usual, it hasn’t quite worked-out like that. The deadline for finishing the shots came and went last Friday…I still have another six people to photograph, the last one isn’t until Friday 14th…less then a week before the opening night, and it’s not even like I’m photographing someone just down the road, I’m flying to Liverpool for the day from the Isle of Man, but the lady in Liverpool was kind of the spark for the whole project, so she has to be included.
The images here are people who I’ve shot over the course of the project, but not photographs which are to be included in the exhibition, which has frustrated me because I feel I’ve been publishing ‘second best’…but they aren’t, of course, they’re just different. To be honest, if I hadn’t been publishing these ‘outtakes’ over the last few weeks, I wouldn’t have posted anything, because I haven’t shot anything else!
The images here were made using – top – Sigma DP1 Merrill, middle – Sigma DP2 Merrill, bottom – Nikon D800E/35mm 1.4G AF-S
Posted on February 12, 2014
I’d say I’m about halfway through shooting the portraits for my exhibition at the end of March…writing that has made me reach for my organiser, only to realise that’s less than five weeks away. Perhaps I will have some wine tonight after all.
The weather has been a massive problem over the last few weeks, or actually since I started the project, and that is something I hadn’t really factored in. I’m trying to shoot everything using natural light, not just outdoors, but indoors too, using windows as light sources and walls as reflectors. But natural light is something that’s been lacking here on the Isle of Man for quite some time, there are younger children that run back into their houses, terrified, when the sun comes out…
This week I had my good friend, Ben, in my ‘daylight studio’ (or ‘back lane’ if you want to be more accurate). Ben will do anything, and I do mean anything, I ask him to for a photo, he’d even strip naked in public…in fact he has stripped naked in public for me to photograph him. For the image above we used flour, but I’d experimented with it beforehand and it didn’t stick to the skin the way I wanted, so we coated him in baby oil first. This is one of the shots, my second favourite, I’m saving number one for the show.
Also this week, I swapped my iPhone 4s for a Nokia Lumia 1020, a move that has caused some negative disturbance amongst some of my Apple friends. This is the camera phone I’ve been waiting for, and I think the results speak for themselves..
Posted on January 21, 2014
I’m a naturally impatient person, so from the outset I always imagined that digital photography would be my ideal medium, but that hasn’t really been the case. For the last few years digital photography has been an itch that I’ve never quite been able to scratch, there’s always lacked the sense of total satisfaction that I only ever get when I shoot film. At the moment I’m very itchy, and there’s only one thing that can get up the back of my t-shirt with both hands and sharpened finger nails – instant film!
I’ve been shooting Fuji Instax film , on and off, for a few years now, I love the cold blueish tones and creamy highlights, but mention instant film to anyone and the first thing they’ll think of is Polaroid, almost a generic name for any kind of instant film. Polaroid stopped making film a few years back, but the factory was taken-over by a company called The Impossible Project. I never tried any of IP’s early emulations of Polaroid film, I’d read all kinds of horror stories about it, about how difficult it was to use and its instability, so I was never willing to part with my cash…but IP’s latest incarnation of Polaroid 600 color film is different, and I love it.
To be honest, I wasn’t really one of those die-hard fans of the original Polaroid film, I always found it a bit dark and ‘wishy-washy’, maybe it was just poor technique? IP’s version is everything I wanted Polaroid 600 to be – punchy colours and weird hues, sharp, but not too sharp. Development time is between 30 and 60 minutes, so still not actually ‘instant’, but worth the wait!
The one down side is the price – every time I press the shutter it costs me £2.25…but I want to keep pressing the shutter.
All square images were made using a Polaroid 600AF camera (circa 1999) and The Impossible Project Color 600 instant film. All rectangular images were made using a Fuji Instax 210 camera and Instax Wide film.
Posted on January 14, 2014
My experiments with the Sigma DP1 Merrill continue, it’s been a steep learning curve, but I love this camera. I’m basically using it in the same way I’d use a medium format film camera – everything shot on a tripod, all manual control, and most importantly, thinking about every shot very carefully.
Something Sigma really might want to look at and fix in a firmware update for this camera is the white-balance – it’s terrible. The auto WB settings are next to useless and the manual WB gives a very warm cast which can be adjusted in post, but I like to get everything right in camera.
All images were edited using the amazing VSCO Film presets in Lightroom 5 – a perfect camera/software combination.
Posted on January 6, 2014
I’ve been shooting on a Sigma DP1 Merrill for the past week. It has a 42 megapixel sensor (actually 3 layers of 14mp) packed into a body the size of a choc-ice.
The camera really has a lot going against it – it’s extremely slow, it takes at least 10 seconds to write the huge 45mb files, focusing is basic and the battery life it appalling – I’m getting less than 50 frames before the battery dies (probably why Sigma supply two batteries). Also, the RAW files aren’t supported by Adobe Lightroom, which is a massive hassle.
…But the picture quality is absolutely stunning, as good as, if not better, than some digital medium format cameras I’ve used. You probably can’t see on these images, but the detail is unbelievable…and very film like.
It’s a keeper.
***Update to answer a few questions I’ve been asked***
Yes, it’s a very simple camera to use, the menus are very intuitive and easy to use. The lack of RAW support is my only real issue with this camera, I’m doing a basic adjust in Sigma Photo Pro and then editing full size TIFFS in Lightroom, which isn’t ideal. I am told that Adobe are working on it though. The day that happens I will do a merry dance, most vigorously!
The other complaint that people have about the DP1M is the battery life, but I don’t see it as being too much of an issue, I get about 50 frames from a charge, but I take 4 spares out with me (after-market batteries cost about £10). Knowing you have limited power really makes you think about whether you want to really take that photo, which is a good thing!
A vast improvement, after using the camera for a week, is the addition of the optical viewfinder and lens hood. The hood works well, and makes the camera look a bit more serious! The optical finder is very bright and accurate, it also reduces the need to turn the camera on to look at shots, thus wasting the battery.
This isn’t a camera for the snapshot enthusiast, sports shooter or any situation where you need to work fast. For landscapes and the kind of portraits I do, it’s perfect.
Posted on December 22, 2013
When I get a new camera, no matter how complicated it looks, I never read the instruction manual. Ever. If I did read them, then I would have discovered, months ago, that my Fuji X-Pro1 has a double exposure feature. I stumbled upon a few days ago, purely by accident, whilst looking for something completely different. So I’ve been playing with it.
All images were processed using the amazing VSCO film software.
Posted on December 17, 2013
Posted on December 5, 2013
Manx music legend, Davy Knowles, is back on the Isle of Man and I had the pleasure of spending the day with him, shooting portraits around various locations. Davy, who now lives and works out of Chicago, is back on home soil to perform a gig at The Gaiety Theatre in Douglas. (Try and get tickets, but I think they sold-out pretty fast!)
I’ve photographed Davy a few times over the last few years, the first time was at the end of his European tour when he played at The Heineken Area in Amsterdam alongside the likes of Joe Satriani and Sonny Landreth. Although I’ve taken hundreds of photos of Davy, I’ve never been 100% happy with the results, I’m not sure Davy has either, but this latest session was different, I think our biorhythms must have been in tune, because I couldn’t be happier with the results.
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough” – Robert Capa
We’ve had some pretty spectacular winter storms here on the Isle of Man, cancelling the ferries and causing the usual chaos. I had taken a few photographs of the waves, in my home town of Peel, from the comfort of my van, but they really weren’t doing this maritime display of force any justice. So, I dashed home, put my Canon G15 into an underwater housing and walked the 100 metres from my house to the promenade. By the time I got there the police and civil defence had blocked-off both ends to stop vehicles, but they didn’t appear to be that bothered about me wandering around. I stayed on the prom’ for about 15 minutes before my hands became too cold to operate the camera, I walked back up my street, soaked to the skin and got into a hot bath.
Posted on December 3, 2013
I’ve photographed a lot of people over the last few years, hundreds of people, possibly thousands. Of all these people, there is a handful that I keep going back to make portraits of time and time again, Bonzo Slater (above) is one of those people. I must have photographed Bonzo at least 15 times, in various locations around the Isle of Man, most of the locations being within spitting distance of a pub…
A new subject for me is Graham Brunström. Graham is currently waiting for a kidney transplant and is pictured here connected to his dialysis machine in his bedroom. Graham was actually due to have a transplant early next year, but there’s been a set-back with the donor, so this probably won’t go ahead. Graham pointed-out that there is only a limited time that he can receive dialysis and that “the clock is ticking”. Despite all of this, Graham remains very positive.
Above is musician, Chris Gray, another repeat and habitual subject. I took Chris out into the hills and photographed him using just the headlights from my van. I wanted a kind of grungy, snapshot look to the image. It appears to have worked.