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 22, 2014
Go back back in time about 14 years, back to when cameras were first added to mobile phones – they were as much use as a chocolate barbecue. Now go even further back, say 20 years, to when nobody really used mobile phones – if you whipped an iPhone or a Nokia 1020 out of your pocket in public you’d be burned at the stake. The idea of these communication devices that included high quality cameras, something called ‘The Internet’ and ‘Apps’, video games, cinema, tv, radio…it was all science fiction. Witchcraft!
Now here we are in 2014, driving around in nuclear powered hover cars and living in cities under the sea…oh, hold-on, that hasn’t happen yet…but we do have a mobile phone that produces 41 mp/50 mb images – that’ll do me for now.
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 February 6, 2014
A while ago I read an article about how talent alone wasn’t enough to guarantee success in the music industry. To make it big, an artist also needs a whole bag of tricks which include charisma, drive, stage presence and the ability to be in the right place at the right time. Well, singer/songwriter, Matt Creer, has all of the above. I don’t do music reviews, I don’t know enough to sound even remotely knowledgeable, but I’ve heard Matt, seen him live, and he’s good, very good. What I do know is that he looks good and he looks comfortable on stage, like he was born to be there. He also looks fantastic in front of the camera.
I did these promo’ shots with Matt this week, it was an uncomplicated and enjoyable shoot, we got everything we wanted in less than an hour…which is good, because the temperature was down to about 3 degrees! Matt turned-up wearing a down jacket and a wooly hat, but as soon as they came off he looked as though we could be in California – total professional!
Former student of the Royal College of Music, London, Matt Creer has established himself as an exciting voice on the UK music scene. The Manx singer songwriter is steadily gaining supporters all over the world and recently attracted the attention of the American TV and film industry. His finger style guitar and rich vocal harmonies are reminiscent of artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and The Civil Wars. His first album “Lanterns” (2011) was a self-produced, self released record. The title track has become a firm favourite with all who hear Matt’s music and enjoys frequent radio play. Matt’s EP “Islands” (2013) has been received with even greater enthusiasm. In November 2013 his song “Don’t Let Me Go” which was co-written and performed with singer Katherine Crowe, reached number 5 in the UK iTunes Singer Songwriter Chart. Matt’s eagerly anticipated second full length album will be available later this year.
A regular performer in the UK and further afield, Matt has performed with respected artists such as Paul Carrack (Mike and the Mechanics), Beverly Craven, Chris T-T, Garrison Starr (LA), Bess Rogers (NYC), Alex Berger (NYC) Richard Walters, O’Hooley and Tidow and Jess Morgan (UK). He has also completed two solo headline tours of the UK and is one of a growing number of independent artists pioneering the UK house concert movement.
Posted on February 2, 2014
Posted on January 31, 2014
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with Impossible Project instant film, I’ve shot a few boxes of the new colour version, and I have to say it was love at first sight. The whole look, the weird hues and colour casts are everything I’d expected. I’ve ordered a few more boxes of the colour version – we’re going steady.
Now then, the black and white type…I’m not so sure, I certainly didn’t rush out and buy an engagement ring the second the first photograph developed. This stuff is £18 a box, that’s £2.25 a shot! For that price I’m afraid I expect something a little less ‘unpredictable’…but the tones are very pleasing, we have deep shadows and creamy highlights. I like the look, but what’s with the dark blur around the edge, it looks almost artificial.
Will I buy more of the black and white version? Probably, however I’d like to try it in a camera with better manual controls, or at least a model that I can turn off the flash (The 600AF that I’m using would fire the flash even if you were actually standing on the surface of the sun). Impossible Project, if you do happen to read this – £18 for 8 pictures is a piss-take, please try to substantially reduce the cost, because I really like this film…or at least I think I will.
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For the benefit of a couple of people who think these aren’t actually real instant images, I have added a photo of my pet Cocker Spaniel, Leica, and said Polaroids.
Posted on January 29, 2014
First of all, I’ve had a few comments about the new format and layout of this blog, it seems that people miss the old Gridspace theme because “It looked less like a blog and more like a website”…but that’s what this is – a blog, a dumping-ground for my photographic meanderings and thoughts. I do have a dedicated portfolio website in the pipeline, so if you just want to look at photographs without my ramblings, it’ll be up and running in the next couple of months, I promise. You can also follow me on Facebook
I’m not really publishing much in the way of ‘serious’ portraiture at the moment because I’m saving it all for my exhibition at the end of March this year. It’s a dangerous game though, I have portraits sat in a Lightroom folder, titled EXHIBITION, and I keep looking at them, editing them, tinkering with them…I need to just leave them alone, because I know exactly what’s going to happen – come March 20th I’ll be sick of the sight of those photos. Every last one of them. Another issue I have is that I’m quite single-minded, if I’m not shooting portraits for my show, ‘serious portraits’, then I’m not really shooting anything else, unless it’s completely different. This alternative creative outlet comes in the form of instant film. I love instant film like the french love cheese.
Say what you like, try to convince me with £500 software or 79p iPhone apps – you can not fake the look of instant film. All images here were made using a Fuji Instax 200 wide camera. I’ll shoot some more Impossible Project 600 just as soon as I’ve sold my kidney to pay for the film…
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 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.