If I Take Just One Camera…
I | Devorgilla Bridge [Long Exposure]
II | Suspension Bridge Over the Nith.
III | The Caul & Devorgilla Bridge [Long Exposure]
Today, I cannot contain my excitement. Over ten years ago, I tried out the Leica M module on my GXR with, at that time, the best lenses I could afford. Not Leica glass, that’s for sure. I remember having heaps of fun with them too but, in my state of constant G.A.S, I think I must have tired of MF within that very same year and, well, Fuji went and released the first of their X100 series and the rest as they say, is history. Fast forward then to today, and imagine I am opening a small box, over breakfast. Inside the box is an old lens – a beautiful 1950s lens for which I forked out far less than I would on a weekly grocery shop. (Bonkers!) Bloody hell, I have missed this caper far more than I have ever realised. I’m now holding in my hand a dinky little Canon 50mm 1.8 with the LTM (Leica Thread Mount) and – a handy M adapter. Goody! As it turns out, this little prime has quite the reputation, and it’s very easy in use to see just why. (I know – I do love 35 FoV but in honesty, most small primes make me go a bit fuzzy!)
Speaking of fuzzy then, as I get older (this is probably the same for all of us, perhaps?) I find that relaxation is easier to find, far more enjoyable and – slowing down a tad here and there becomes a natural process that requires little to no thought. No, I haven’t given it up, nor am I ready for a coffin just yet: it’s only that urgency becomes easier to measure and filter and calm takes its place far more readily. Through younger years, to savour is seldom considered. What a waste. And so it is with my approach to photography, that I measure and filter and savour. I have never been a quick shooter (ladies… please!) and instead, I have never enjoyed shooting more than when I have been able to take my time to appreciate the whole process. As I mounted the little Canon lens onto the front of my trusty old GXR, I distinctly felt a little inner sigh go through me – savouring again. Still… time for a little fun around the house and though these are not the first of the frames I caught with it, I think they echo something of my mood today in some daft, cheeky, light-hearted way. So… just for fun, here goes. Thanks for reading and, enjoy!
Keeping to recent changes in ideas that I’ve been having about how I photograph, process and publish (basically, I am feeling the need to shake things up a little after a winter ‘lull’) – I decided that, whilst I continue to shoot in RAW and JPG, I would for a while concentrate solely on working with OOC JPGS with as little processing as I could let myself get away with, no matter what my subject matter.
A couple of days ago I took some time out with my X100S to shoot these beautiful yellow tulips in my newly put-together macro-studio (aka: the Black Room, aka: the cupboard under the stairs!) and after an hour or so playing with various exposures, I emerged back into the light of the middle landing with some pleasing frames. After uploading to Lr – checking my spot-metered exposures, I set to work in editing my chosen keepers. Here, are the three finalists, processed from the resultant JPGS, with minor tweaks to contrast, clarity and shadow depth, with just a hint of split-toning for a tiny smidgen of warmth.
Of course, at the sizes I’ve chosen to upload (I never upload full-resolution frames) – for web-viewing, the difference may be a little more difficult to appreciate when it comes to RAW versus JPG IQ however, when considering that all frames were exposed at ISO:200, I really don’t think that (aside from the obvious processing latitude advantages of trickier RAW exposures) there really would not have been all that much to shout about. I still don’t know the answer to that one either – I haven’t even looked at the RAWs yet. These frames please me that much.
Thank you so much for reading my pages and, I hope you too will enjoy these captures.
– R –
This time last year I was preparing my first ever photo-review here at 35Chronicle and, at the time, I could never have professed to have known just what a year 2019 was going to be for me. In every sense of the word it’s been an amazing year, and – a traumatically difficult one for the large part. Suffice to say that if you are a regular reader of my pages, you’ll know a little of what I’ve been up to and, subjected to and – you might also realise that as well as those closest to me who have kept me going throughout the year since spring, my love of all things photographic have been my main non-pulsatile impetus to get back out there and, get better. Better in health, at life, at shooting – just, better; in any way I can.
Despite some difficulties in getting back out there (you try shooting whilst holding on to your crutches while your camera bag is threatening to slide forward under the weight of the gear – with the express intent of taking one of your legs from underneath you!) I have enjoyed many excursions this year. Insosaying, I have done my best to represent each month of 2019 (by date of publishing) with what I feel is the one shot that truly made the cut. My cut. I hope I have done enough.
Of course, the whole reason I am writing any of this is because, well – you are reading it. As such, I need to say a massive thank you to a huge amount of people who have been with me this year and without whom, my 2019 would have turned out rather different and probably not as good. Therefore, to loved ones, to friends, to everyone here on WP, and to everyone who has been of support to me throughout the year, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You all know who you are and I forget not one of you.
Please do enjoy this selection of just some of my favourite frames of this year and I hope you’ll join me again in 2020. It’ll be great to see you again. (To H – thank you and please forgive me for my shameless and blatant use of your sign-off. It fits perfectly, expresses my intent to a tee and I truly can’t think of or find a better way to say it. I promise to only use it this once!)
See you on the flip-side, folks!
– Rob –
Happy New Year 2020, to You All!
From PT.I – a little more mono / full-spectrum fun in a few frames from inside a couple of the workshops. The ISO and Tv values might suggest use of a standard VIS light camera, however, the lack of natural light was a real issue, though reasonably easily overcome by LTFS and a steady hand, despite the distinct lack of UVIR infiltration. Despite a higher ISO in combination with what is essentially, technologically speaking, an ancient camera – I am delighted with the level of detail and contrast in these frames. I do hope you’ll also enjoy them, for what they are.
– R –
[All images in this New Lanark series – snagged with a Ricoh GXR A16 LTFS (from ~280nm to ~1300nm) internal conversion, unfiltered.]
Following on from my previous post, I cannot resist sharing a few more frames from Edinburgh, shot from the Christmas Market on Princes Street and, a last night shot from the castle. All of the shots in this post and PT.I were made with my LTFS (Luminous Tone Full Spectrum) converted GXR A16 unit, without any external filtering and, handheld. Shooting in full spectrum for night-time black and white is a real treat, largely due to the fact that even artificial lighting can emit strong UV and IR wavelengths, adding to the amount of light that the camera is able to capture, thus, reducing Tv values and making for steadier shots without a tripod. Not only this, but the level of detail in the blacks, when compared to making the same shots on my standard, unconverted units, is – to be frank – completely wonderful. A little IR softening and a slight increase in grain is inevitable but, for me, these aspects please my eye to the point where I run out of words. I do hope you’ll enjoy these few frames as much as I do.
– R –
In a way, I suppose that blogging is as much about diarising as it is about simply sharing what we do, think, or feel, sharing who we actually are – adding little pieces of ourselves to a community that in some way might appreciate it, and give back too. For me, it’s about all things – including the sometimes more personal side of my own life. Though I am not one to purposefully overshare (believing instead in the sacred and private aspects of life) I would like to share these few words, inspired by someone very, very special who has been here for me tirelessly and in every conceivable way – throughout my recovery from multiple spinal (and other less serious) fractures and injuries, back in April. It’s been a winding road thus far – and the fact that I can share these words and images with you all, is a testament to many, many people, and yet most of all, one. It’s about as real as it gets but I don’t often share like this, so you’ll please forgive me for opening up this way. Photography for me, is so important – probably my biggest ‘thing’. But it’s not – everything.
‘Tis the Eve’.
‘Tis the eve’ of my return to work,
Though much to do, no blogging I’ll shirk.
With broken bones, through healing too,
Small takes on a life, I’ve shared with you.
As I look now to brighter times,
Routines return, lay-ins subside;
And, before my mindset changes tack,
Special memories are skipping back.
Many of them circle my mind,
But, the fondest here, I think you’ll find,
A recent jaunt, a cold birthday weekend,
In celebration of my love and, my friend.
For these frames you see were only made
Of patience, love and a care that stayed,
That helped me heal in body and mind,
And to keep me giving, of the very same kind.
– R –
Now, we can move on.
It’s simply not possible to visit these mind-blowing structures by day and to not return after sunset to see them in their dazzling, alternative guise. After the child-like exuberance I enjoyed while photographing them with my two IR cameras earlier in the afternoon, I suffered yet more of it with the anticipation of returning after sundown, to shoot them again, this time lit up from their insides against a darkening, moody evening sky. A few expletives leap to mind when I remember just what I thought to myself as the Kelpies began to shine – and only seemed to intensify.
Oddly, I did not take a tripod with me, trusting instead that my Df would handle the low-light pretty well (especially as I was only ever intending to capture them for black and white) therefore, all of these frames were snagged hand-held, 28mm at ISO:6400. I’ve included a colour frame original from shot one, at the end. I really do hope you’ll enjoy them!
[Thanks, Alena, for the sub-heading – by far the funniest comment I’ve received in a long while, I can tell you!]
My first break away since the big breaks! Without you, these shots wouldn’t have even happened. For your patience and, my motivation – thank you!
Two very special cameras have made up the mainstay of my shooting arsenal over the past eight years; the Fujifilm X100 (the debut, the ‘S’ and, the ‘T’) and, the Ricoh GR (also, the GR II). The model numbers don’t really make much of a difference to me because it’s all about how they allow me to work when I’m making pictures. Furthermore, my joy of them has nothing to do with button layouts, menu-order, online reviews, or much else either. It’s really all about the ability to carry a portable, capable and an ever more familiar set-up that produces very workable digital negatives shot through focal-lengths that I prefer the most. Shooting with shorter focal lengths has been my passion for a good number of years now, ever since I made the decision to give up on larger systems and telephoto lenses. That decision itself came from a notion that being out of range didn’t make me a better photographer at all – it wasn’t brave and, I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, instead of immersed in the process. That’s why I ditched the longer lenses. Simple. I wanted to learn more about photography and could no longer find satisfaction from picking-off frames from a distance – no matter how attractive I found focal-plane-to-background separation. The change was swift and, sharp.
After a few years with the Fuji-X I wanted something a little smaller for my pocket, for those days we all hanker for at one time or another – when we can grab the shots without carrying the bag as well; not a replacement as such, but a complement to my existing camera(s). By that time, I was completely hooked on shorter focal-lengths, the immersive experience of making pictures with them and that was when I bit the proverbial bullet on a GR – a camera that has been in my bag or my pocket for almost six years, no matter what else I have been shooting alongside it. Now, you may think that this is going somewhere a little bit too romantic and, you might be right. You see, out of every piece of equipment I have ever shot with over the last twenty-plus years, Ricoh’s GXRs and GRs have been my absolute favourite to use. The GR however, (even for all of the APS-C variants of the GXR) – tops the lot. I have no issue with admitting that the GR is (digitally speaking) the best, most customisable, usable camera with which I have ever made pictures. But the oddity in all of this is that – it just got even better. I’m not talking of anything Ricoh has done to it or, for it. It’s simply that as well as my standard model, I now have another, converted to split-spectrum with an internal 450nm filter. This might not sound like a big deal (especially if you’re more a colour enthusiast or just not a fan of black and white photography) but bear with me, and you’ll see that it actually – is.
My first foray into split-spectrum and true full-spectrum happened when I had received a converted A16 unit for my old GXR a few years ago and, with that one unit, I was able to reduce issues of low-light black and white photography and shoot any alternative wavelengths that I chose to – usually near-infrared around the 720nm mark. In truth, my main love for a split-spectrum converted camera lies in the ability for me to choose different IR wavelengths as my base, when shooting, though primarily, I stick to 720nm (give or take around 20-30nm) – as I have done for the last twelve or so years. But it’s lovely to have the latitude when it’s needed. If any of you browsed through my images of St.Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, late last year, you will notice, if you look, the clear benefits of shooting indoors with a split or full-spectrum converted camera as, such a set-up effectively doubles the shutter speed because the amount of wavelengths and subsequently, available light, is also doubled. For this kind of photography, black and white is really the only option (unless you’re into really funky colours and peculiar white-balance) and if you’re happy with this, you’d be even happier at the reduced (or complete absence of) camera / motion blur in your shots, not to mention the huge amounts of extra detail in the blacks and shadows.
Now, a small admission. Originally, when I started drafting this post, my intention was to write some kind or report or, review, about my newest acquisition in the 450nm GR. But as that camera is only half of my story, I have decided to be more – general and, as my title suggests, I do consider the GR to be the most customisable camera I have ever had the pleasure of getting my hands on. The mere fact that I now have two of them, both set-up in completely different ways, for alternative shooting requirements, will bear this out. The fact that I have most of the accessories available for them, is also a factor in their importance in much of my work because, by and large, I don’t go in for huge amounts of add-ons for my gear and, prefer to keep weight down instead. But as weight is not really an issue with a camera so compact, I allowed myself to indulge in order to make them as useful as possible, to me. As well as both cameras, one standard and one converted, I also have three GH-3 filter adapters. On one, I have the IR 720nm filter, on another – a C-PL and on the third, a +10 close-up filter for a little extra macro. Having each filter mounted on separate adapters allows me to very quickly swap-out filters between cameras with just a click & twist. Obviously, the R72 filter adapter only gets exchanged with the +10 if I’m going to choose close-up work in IR or split-spectrum, but the C-PL can be swapped out for either of the other two, because as I have discovered, the standard GR set-up is also receptive to IR wavelengths with no hot-spotting, giving the shooting process a natural ND sequence. So, for long exposure IR imagery, the standard GR handles infrared rather well indeed. (I will do my best to show this as artistically as I am able, during the summer). With the addition of the GW-3 wide lens (which is pretty special, I must say) I can add a 21mm repertoire to each set-up at will, with custom functions set for (35mm) crop-mode and conversion-lens use, on each camera; not to mention the ability to set each of the unit’s three custom modes, for different set-ups. The fact that I love the GR’s output is the reason I shoot with it in the first place but, coupled with its mechano-like, Swiss Army-Knife tendencies – I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything for wide shooting, or – much else, for that matter.
Of late, I have found myself preferring 4:3 output straight from the camera and have noted a benefit to this also, in post. The GR’s lens has a certain amount of natural light fall-off (vignetting) in the corners (especially when shooting at its native 28mm with front-mounted filters) and shooting at 4:3 reduces this somewhat unappealing effect by cropping out the far-lateral sides of the sensor. Added to the fact that 35mm is my preferred focal-length, this internal crop-mode when utilised alongside the 4:3 option, reduces fall-off further, while still providing me with a fairly respectable 9mp RAW file for processing, minus the rather noticeable fall-off. Again, many quick functions are simple and quick to set-up and I also have a ratio option on my adjust lever as well as 28/35mm crop on the effects button at the side of the camera. There’s not really a whole lot more that I can say of the 450nm converted camera, per se – it is what it is and as long as it’s raison d’etre is realised and understood, it’s an extremely useful tool for low-light, indoor photography where crushed blacks aren’t desired but organic detail is. For me – it’s there for IR in the main. But that’s just me. I still need my bag, of course – but even so it weighs next to nothing and, my bases are all covered.
The GR has mostly been heralded as the ideal street camera to have, and I will not argue this. But what has not been extolled, as far as I am able to discover for myself, is that it can do so much more than street-photography; decent macro (with or without external filter assistance), landscape, environmental, urban exploration, and even alternative wavelength, I don’t think there’s much this thing can’t do. I have probably harped on enough now about this camera but I so want anyone who is truly interested, to know just how much a little camera can do in hands attached to a mind that wants to truly explore photographic possibilities.
The GR III is soon to be released in the UK (note: this post was published in early March 2019) – and I know right now that I won’t be buying one at any time in the near future. The main reason that I keep my Fujis is because of their handling, their viewfinders and the lovely files that I get to make with them. Insosaying, (because its screen can be rather hard to see in sunlight) if the new GR had been designed and built with a finder (a la pop-up EFV on Sony’s RX100 MK3 and onwards) then I doubt that the X100/IR or the ‘T’ would get much handling. If the GR III is as good as it’s going to get, then I’m sorry Ricoh- you already got it bang-on with the first one – nuts, bolts, the lot. And I’m not moving. I mean, what would be the point?
This is to be the final part of my St. Giles series. In all honesty, I could have gotten way more value out of my £2 photo-pass that I purchased upon entry. I could easily have whiled away more hours here than the one that I did. Watching, looking, shooting, looking. The light was poor though, a very dull and overcast sky affording less quality and intensity through stained-glass – so diffuse that my fixed lens camera of choice made it much more difficult to grab a steady shot, the later the afternoon became. Insosaying, I grabbed my low-light camera. Actually, it’s primarily my weapon of choice for much of my IR compositions, but, removing the UVIR Cut filter from in front of the lens element, I was able to gather twice as much light as my primary, fixed-lens camera. Shot in true full-spectrum, capturing all available light (from UV-A through VIS to IR) renders even sharp details a little softer due to invisible lightwave pollution but I still think these make the grade. I hope you will enjoy these last few captures.
We’re all running short of time at this end of the year, so, let me say this off the bat in case you don’t have time yet to read to the end of the post – to all of you who read and follow my pages, I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and, I extent my warmest thanks for your support, your comments and, your valuable time ever since I started my little blog, back in March. It’s been a superb journey thus far and, I hope to get at least one more post in before Hogmanay!
On Friday of last week, I had occasion to visit Edinburgh. As it’s that time of year again, I do like to get to Princes Street and do the whole Christmas Market thing, kind of a tradition and as I didn’t get to visit last year, I was very keen to get there before this Christmas kicked off, proper. Now, I resisted the temptation to shoot all things Christmassy so please do forgive me for the lack of tinsel, Santa-hats, seasonal pullovers, mistletoe and the like. Instead, I again only wanted to capture the feel of the place at this time of year. With that said, the images I have chosen for this post may feel a little off-piste or, at the very least, somewhat off-topic. The thing is, I’m not religious nor do I have any great love of this time of year, however, I do enjoy its essence, and – different things mean different things to different people. So, instead of capturing the shiny and commercial side of the season, per se, I decided instead to simply wander and shoot.
Sadly however, the weather was bloody atrocious, nothing but dull light, blanket grey skies and drizzle for most of it, which, made things a little tricky, as is oft’ the case under such conditions when you’re wielding a camera. I decided then, that West Parliament Square would be a great place to grab some serious frames – at the Cathedral of St. Giles. In my bag I carried two cameras – my X100T and, my Richoh (True Full-Spectrum converted) GXR – see my Light Waves page for more info on TFS if you’re not au-fait with it). The Fuji handled outdoors just fine but, being a habitual ISO:1600 maximum shooter, it was sluggish here. I did grab a good number of frames with it inside St. Giles’ and in fact, two of them are right here – but when I really struggled, the GXR’s completely unhindered sensor came into its own. Especially when the light became really difficult. Of course – shooting in mixed light with a full-spectrum camera makes things extremely tricky when it comes to colour reproduction but it’s forte is really black and white output anyway – so, I was in my element. Shutter speeds were almost twice as fast as the standard Fuji when my ISO and Av were the same. A nice little bonus when shooting hand-held indoors and, it certainly helped me in keeping a few frames a little less shaky, shall we say?
As an aside, the X100T frames have a rather HDR look about them, which I am surprised at. After extremely minimal processing from RAW (RAF converted to DNG) and not even two minutes consideration I am, though I do not enjoy HDR images, very pleased with the results here – and the subject matter does seem to pop, rather nicely.
I hope you will enjoy these few frames, that you have a splendid Christmas, however you’re celebrating and, I hope to be here again with you before the New Year!
Have a fabulous time, all!
A little bit of a mixed up post, this one – image-wise, certainly. Still, during a recent visit to Aberdeen, I took the opportunity to shoot something that I don’t shoot often enough and, I loved it. I miss shooting on the street (though I do not in any way consider myself very good at the genre) but also, I love to catch people in the frame too. Occasionally, there’s an interaction that not only warrants a thumbs up from me but a bloody big smile when I later review certain frames and, remember how good it felt to capture them. Anyway, though maybe a little cliched, this is just for fun – so please don’t judge me too harshly! I hope you’ll enjoy these captures.
Walking around Old Aberdeen after sunset turned out to be a pure joy in many ways. In a previous post, I waxed a little about the stunningly picturesque Powis Gate Towers and, directly opposite them stands this beautiful building – King’s College. Although I was tripodless, I managed to snag a few frames by shooting wide open (at 2.5) handheld and, though a little soft, I am nonetheless very happy to share these few images. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
During a wander around the University of Aberdeen’s buildings and walkways, these wonderful minaret towers came into view, lit only by a couple of street lamps and, traffic lights. Daylight had faded to black and I simply had nowhere to rest my camera – so, if I was going to get a frame of these beautiful towers, I would have to do it the ol’ fashioned way. Steady the body, metre, compose, deep breath and – wait for some foot-traffic.
Both frames shot handheld at 1/6th”, f2.5, ISO:1600. I have included two, where one frame would surely suffice, only because, with subtle differences, I simply couldn’t decide between them. I hope you’ll enjoy…