mer cr ƒ t C JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • £5.95
REWARDING CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY
Perfect Locations A TIME AND A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
COVER PHOTOGRAPH by NICOLA TAYLORƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 1
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Edited and Published by DAVID & SHIRLEY KILPATRICK f2photo Icon Publications Ltd Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane Kelso, Scotland TD5 7BB email@example.com +44(0)1573 226032 News & Tests Editor RICHARD KILPATRICK RTK Media, The Grange Pincet Lane, North Kilworth Leicestershire LE17 6NE firstname.lastname@example.org +44(0)1858 882105
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mer cr ƒt C VOLUME 2 No 2 (CC #14, f2 #86)
By Nicola Taylor – Tals from the Moors Country, page 33. Errata, last issue: our last issue cover and portfolio was incorrectly attributed, in the printed edition contents page only, to David MacDonald and not to David Calvert, who was correctly bylined on the cover and the article.
Favourite locations – Jason Smalley visited Humphrey Head, Grange-over-Sands, for this natural fractal
STRONG WOMEN Alistair Guy’s distinctive black and white film portraits of women from fashion, film and music.
PENTAX K-1 MULTISHOT MODE We check out the fine detail of the sensor shift capture compared to conventional resolution shots.
SRB ELITE P FILTER SYSTEM Bringing the consumer Cokin P format into the professional arena to suit today’s smaller pro cameras.
ZEISS MILVUS 15, 18 and 135mm Three ultra-solid metal manual focus lenses in Canon EF mount tested by David Kilpatrick – also spotting a floating element issue when using mirrorless adaptors.
BRIAN RAMAGE: ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE Starting our ‘location’ theme for this issue, Brian sets up pictures for aspiring dancers and dance-class groups using iconic US backdrops.
PAPER TESTS Canson Baryta Prestige 340gsm Fotospeed Square papers
if the current No1 destination for photographers is a safe bet – even at the wrong time of year.
PORTFOLIO: NICOLA TAYLOR ‘Tales from the Moors Country’ is a photo series which uses Nicola’s northern location to maximum effect.
ON… LOCATION Associate Editor Stephen Power. interviews four photographers about their favourite locations for photography, whether as subjects in their own right, or as settings for portraits and weddings. And he writes about his own move to the furthest west location in Europe… with Kevin Wilson, Jason Smalley, Richard Craig, and José Ramos.
DESTINATION ICELAND Gary Friedman decided to find out
FOTOFEVER PARIS Richard Kilpatrick at the festival which runs alongside the Paris Photo Show every November.
INSTANT GRATIFICATION Fujifilm’s Instax formats, Lomo – and Leica entering the market.
SMALL SENSORS, BIG IDEAS Richard Kilpatrick on the iPhone 7+.
LIGHTS, CAMERA… LOCATION! Portable power for flash and more, and the pitfalls of air travel regs.
OPINION Post-truth, and how to stop it.
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with Richard Kilpatrick
DIARY January 11th-15th 2017 The Societies Convention Admission by ticket to a wide range of seminars January 13th-15th 2017 The Societies Trade Show (free) Hilton London Metropole Edgware Road London W2 1JU The major annual event organised by the blanket body formed by the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, and its associated multiple societies. The largest professional and semi-pro photomeet of its kind in the UK calendar. See: www.swpp.co.uk/convention January 30th 2017 to February 7th 2017 Photo Training Overseas Hotel Playa Pesquaro Cuba This annual training event is limited to 40 photographers/80 seats (many photographers being accompanied by partners, and also taking advantage of second week optional holiday extension). Flights leave from Manchester on January 30th and Gatwick on January 31st. George and Glenys Dawber, the organisers, have reached the 30th year of PTO and the first to go long-haul. See: www.pto-uk.com February 5th-9th 2017 Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Conference February 7th-9th 2017 WPPI Expo Trade Show. Las Vegas Convention Center PHOTO+ membership ($150 US/$200 International) when registering includes FREE WPPI Full Platform Pass ($220 value). See: wppionline.com March 18th-21st 2017 The Photography Show 2017 National Exhibition Centre Birmingham/Coventry UK’s major annual photo trade show. Tickets: £13.95 (concession £10.95). Pro and trade passes: FREE if approved). Student Day Tuesday, March 21st FREE with student ID. See: www.photographyshow.com
MORE PRODUCT lines are to join the Cullmann range in January. The Mundo tripod (£179.99) comes in black, silver, orange or blue and features an integrated Monopod. Three models of Neomax mini travel tripods offer fast operation, high stability and light weight, with an aluminium ball head, quick release system, robust feet and a tripod case at £59.99 to £79.99. Stockholm bags include a daypack and four shoulder bags with a Scandinavian minimalist look in a cool grey water and scuff resistant polyester, from £44.99 to £89.99. Five new CUlight LED video lights, three daylight and two bi-colour lights (£49.99 to £249.99) join a wireless RF Cullmann flashgun, the £249.99 CUlight FR60 (GN60, TTL C/N/S, 20-200mm zoom, USB firmware updates). RF remote works up to 100 meters. All prices are SRP inc VAT. www.intro2020.co.uk
UK DISTRIBUTION FOR IRIX LENSES THE SWISS-DESIGNED, Korean-made IRIX lens range has a new UK distributor actively seeking retailers. The first two DSLR lenses (Nikon, Canon or Pentax fit) are a 15mm ƒ2.4 and a true rectilinear 11mm ƒ4, both with the facility to fine tune infinity focus to correct camera body errors (see our Zeiss Milvus report on this subject). See: https://actionmc.co.uk
WORLD OF ZEISS ZEISS and the World Photography Organisation have announced the second year of the ZEISS Photography Award. The competition gives photographers the chance to showcase their skills to an international audience. The theme of the competition will be Seeing Beyond – Meaningful Places. Participants are invited to submit their photo series for free by 7th February 2017. In addition to lenses to the value of €12,000, the winning photographer will also receive €3,000 towards a photography trip of their choice. The winner and a shortlist will be announced in March 2017, and an award presented to the winner in April 2017. Photographers should submit a series of 5 to 10 images they think capture the ‘Meaningful Places’ theme, no later than the 7th February 201, through: www.worldphoto.org
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SIMON MASON, former sales manager for Tiffany and Co in Beverley Hills, is the new manager at Calumet Photographic’s Drummond Street, London, store. Simon, 42, has moved back to the UK with his family after three years with the jewellery brand. Before moving to Los Angeles he handled training and retail outlets for Selfridges and M&S. Andy Johnson, who has been with Calumet for 32 years has moved into a new role as a High End Imaging Sales Specialist. Calumet Photographic is a leading photography equipment retailer supporting amateurs and professionals. It also provides rentals, runs workshops, offers a student membership scheme, and has studio spaces available to hire for shoots. See: www.calphoto.co.uk
EUROPE’S biggest photography event of 2017 will return to the NEC, Birmingham from 18-21 March. All-new feature areas have been confirmed for The Photography Show 2017 including a dedicated video section, 360° and VR, plus an enhanced Drone Zone, offering visitors the opportunity to delve into new imaging technology as part of their show experience. Further details on these new areas will be revealed in full over the coming weeks. Leading brands already confirmed to appear at The Photography Show 2017 include Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Nikon, Olympus and Sony – the Adobe Theatre will also return for 2017. This year’s event will also see the arrival of new exhibitors including, Billingham, Paterson Photographic, video production company Unitary Studios, Martin Newman Photography (and many more). The Super Stage (previously graced by the likes of David Bailey, Don McCullin, Steve McCurry and Rankin), Behind the Lens Theatre, Adobe Theatre and Live Stage, plus the Video Theatre and the Mobile & Social Stage, will all feature with more extensive programmes than in 2016. Tickets to The Photography Show 2017 are now on sale. For more information, please visit www.photographyshow.com
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STRONG WOMEN Inspired by the 88-year-old model and author Daphne Selfe, fashion photographer Alistair Guy put many of the world’s enduring and empowered women from the worlds of fashion, film, music and media in front of his Mamiya 6 x 7 to create an important portrait exhibition.
ith only eight years of professional work behind him, Alistair Guy is cast in the mould of the timeless fashion photographer. A distinctive dresser himself, it’s easy to imagine him continuing for another few decades and remaining as distinctive as Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton or John Cowan. It’s a mixture of style and confidence which honours the subject, unlike the pushy paparazzo or working pro for whom the sitter is respectively a quarry or a client. It’s easy to see why he is able to put high profile women at ease and take fine portraits without much contrivance or control, becoming an observer looking for the right moment in the conversation, working in their domestic or social space where he is the guest. There is, indeed, a great sense of calm and safety in his portraits. Strong Women’ is the title of his current exhibition which launched in London and the USA in 2016 and will now be seen in Hampstead’s Zebra Gallery into 2017. However, this is not a place where you’ll find the ghost of Thatcher or today’s female leaders of states. The fashion world pays more attention to stardom than politics, and it does not demand strength. Alistair has, however, solved the riddle and found the strength in the sweetness. We can’t publish all the picturs in the series, and in keeping with the title, we’ve tended to go with those that have a more assertive feel and eye contact. Some of the portraits are more introverted, showing moments of reflection. Most do engage with the photographer and the viewer. He chose to tackle this self-set project using rolls of 10 on 120 film, rather than digital, as a photogapher who arrived on the scene
Women making movies: above, Greta Bellamacina; below, Shruti Ganguly.
when film was almost dead and found himself drawn to black and white and the mechanical control of his Olympus and Mamiya kit. He bought the Mamiya RB67 when at art college and it’s been with him ever since. He’s said that the restriction to ten shots has helped shape his approach to the time he is allowed by his sitters. These include his muse, Daphne Selfe (whose portrait closes this feature) and actress Melanie Griffith (who helped him in his quest to meet US subjects). Other names you’ll probably know include Savannah Miller, Tippi Hedren, Tilly Wood, Daphne Guinness, Tamsin Egerton, Jade Parfitt, Amy Manson, Lena Gora, Shruti Ganguly, Jan de Villeneuve, Greta Bellamacina, Martina Bjorn, Brix Smith-Start, Elizabeth Von Guttman and Erin Tonkon. ““Women mentally are terribly strong, but they are also fragile”, says Alistair. “I believe there is an incredible beauty in this dichotomy. The Strong Women project is a celebration of femininity as well as a celebration of each person and their character.” Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 masterpiece The Birds which dealt with nature of fear and its effect on her character, has said this: “Lose that fear, from wherever it comes! Fear is a killer, in so many ways.” Her daughter Melanie Griffith spoke to Alistair about her daily battle against the “fakery of Hollywood” and being true to herself. “Strength for me”, she commented, “is being able to live honestly – living my truth, not making up a good story for myself. Daring to change every day to become closer to that Inner Self. That’s strong to me.” Tippi Hedren was photographed in November 2015 and ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 7
Daphne Guinness Fashion designer, art collector, model, film producer, actor and Guinness heiress 8 January/February 2017 Ć’2 Cameracraft
Tamsin Egerton British television and film actress All photographs © Alistair Guy ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 9
after shooting daughter Melanie, Alistair also hopes to photograph granddaughter Dakota Johnson to add to the ongoing collection of portraits. Melanie’s sister Tracey Griffith also supports his project. Daphne Selfe, with whom Alistair has worked regularly, is claimed to be the “world’s oldest working supermodel”. She has become close collaborator, despite being firmly in the working world at 88, still travelling the world to feature in a high profile advertising campaigns. Her words to women? “Ignore your age… I think a strong person has confidence in themselves, how they look and what they can do, even if they are limited physically through age or disability.” In line with her inspiration, Alistair has paid very little attention to age when deciding who to photograph or how to photograph them, making you think from the poses and expressions that he certainly converses with his sitters as if they were his contemporaries. Jade Parfitt, Tamsin Edgerton and film maker Greta Bellamacina were eight months pregnant when photographed, though there’s no hint here of the bump shot beloved of High Street portrait studios. He says that it brings out the strength and beauty of women. Much to the approval of your editors, the images are almost untouched in contrast to the highly manipulated digital images which dominate the world his subjects work in. Real life and true beauty are the key elements for Alistair.
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Above: Savannah Miller Facing page, top, Brix Smith-Start Bottom left, Jade Parfitt; right, Melanie Griffith Ć’2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 11
Top left: publisher Jan de Villeneuve. Top right: Tippi Hedren. Right: the start of it all, 88-yearold model Daphne Selfe. Above: Alistair with another vintage film camera.
Jade Parfitt and Savannah Miller both have emphasised that self-knowledge and self-acceptance are important when looking for “a sense of self contentment to live confident empowered lives”. The curator of the show at the Hampstead Zebra One Gallery art curator, Gabrielle du Plooy, said: “We’re thrilled to be putting together this important exhibition, celebrating the feminist reclamation of femininity. Too often, masculinity is equated with power, strength and success, but this show celebrates and embraces empowering femininity.” Alistair’s exhibition was originally shown at Smythson in summer 2016, and runs until 21st December at the Café Royal on Regent Street (entry free), moving to Zebra One Gallery after this date. Ì See: www.alistairguy.com 12 January/February 2017 ƒ2 Cameracraft
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A SOCIETY BORN AT PHOTOGRAPHY’S DAWN The Royal Photographic Society was formed just a few decades after the invention of photography itself, but this distinguished organisation is more relevant than ever in the 21st century imaging firmament.
here aren’t too many bodies that are still in existence over 160 years after their founding, but The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) can proudly state that it’s one of the few, the world’s oldest photographic society in continuous existence. It was born in the heady days when photography was still very much in its infancy: the year was 1853 and the likes of Louis Daguerre, William Henry Fox Talbot and Nicéphore Niépce had been rolling back the boundaries of this exciting new science and the world was sitting up and taking notice. Set up to cater for this growing interest and to spread the word about the new photographic processes that were appearing at the time, the RPS quickly flourished and the Society and its members have been at the forefront of photographic science and art ever since. Many of the great names of photography, from Roger Fenton, Julia Margaret Cameron, P H Emerson and Alfred Stieglitz through to contemporary photographers such as Don McCullin, Steve McCurry and Annie Leibowitz are, or have been, members, and it continues to be as influential today as it’s ever been. “The Society is unique in that its membership is very broad,” says Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS, Chief Executive of the RPS. “It’s open to anyone with an interest in photography and its members range from amateurs through to professionals, as well as people who are working with photography, such as curators, educators and picture editors.” “Although the RPS is an organisation that provides many benefits for its members, from an award-winning monthly magazine through to discounts on workshops and courses and an internationally recognised distinctions and qualifications programme, it’s
also a registered charity. As such its aims are about promoting and supporting photography more generally, and it does this through exhibitions and competitions, an education programme and through the role it has to speak to the media on matters that relate to photography.”
Embracing a constantly evolving industry Above: by Stephen Burt – Matterhorn Banner Cloud, finalist in the RMetS/ RPS Weather Photographer of the Year 2016. Below: the Society’s Light Works exhibition, 2015 International Year of Light, Welsh Assembly Building, Cardiff.
Above, the RPS stand at The Photography Show 2016. Below, the opening of the Society’s International Print Exhibition 158 at The Hive, Worcester.
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The past 160 years or so has seen a process of continual evolution, reflecting the changes that have taken place within photography itself. It has moved on from hand-coated emulsions, rickety wooden cameras and lengthy exposures through to high-tech digital models with ISOs so high they can see in the dark, and clearly the role of the RPS has had to change over time. But while it values its history and traditions the Society has never been afraid to move on, and its membership remains vibrant and forward looking, and keen to take advantage of whatever technology has to offer. “The Society was quick to embrace digital technology,” says Dr Pritchard, “and now 91 per cent of our members are working in this way. As imaging – still and moving - continues to dominate everyone’s lives it makes the RPS even more relevant, given that it has a role to encourage the public to understand imaging and to learn about how they can create good pictures. “That process of being at the forefront of technological changes within photography, from wet plate collodion photography through to dry plates and roll-film and digital technology has been on-going. Our belief is that the device and methods used to make an image have always been secondary to the image itself. Consequently, the Society is happy to see work produced on anything that’s capable
in partnership with the profession supporting
ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
Above, from the The Royal Photographic Society Collection, National Media Museum, Bradford. ‘Sadness’ (Ellen Terry at age 16) by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1863; A A Campbell Swinton, The first X -ray negative of the human hand, 1896.
RPS honours contributions to photography. Above, RPS Chief Executive Dr Michael Pritchard (right) with Society Award recipient Dr Brian May. Left, Steve McCurry at the ceremony where he received his RPS Award.
of achieving an image: in fact, two recent distinction successes have been shot on smartphones, with no compromise to the quality of the images. As the younger generation grows up without seeing the camera as a separate device we’ll need to engage further and to encourage their interest in quality imaging making.” Fujifilm has been a consistent supporter of the RPS over decades, adhering to an ongoing strategy of encouraging photographic excellence and education. “Fujifilm shares the RPS’s interest in image making, whether through film or digital technology,” says Dr Pritchard, “and the company has been a valued long term advertiser in the Society’s Journal. As a company they’ve always looked to give something back and we value the vibrant partnership we’ve had with them over the years.” So, what of the future for a Society that has survived not just fundamental changes in technology but massive upheaval in a world that is so very different from the time when Victoria was a young queen on the throne? The message is that the RPS will continue to look forward in the way that it’s always done, delivering support and encouragement to
photographic enthusiasts at all levels. “The next decade is likely to continue to be challenging for the industry in general,” says Dr Pritchard, “and for the professional image maker. It’s good to see, however, that there is currently a very strong interest in photography and image making as evidenced by the audiences attracted to photography being shown in galleries and museums. “Our aim is to encourage some of those people to extend that interest and to make images of their own that go beyond just being made to share with friends. We want them to go on to become the next generation of what, traditionally, would have been called amateur photographers. “The way that people interact with images is also likely to change, and while the traditional exhibition will continue, the trend of sharing and interacting with images online will continue to dominate.” Whatever the future for this great profession the Royal Photographic Society will continue to encourage and educate photographers. It’s what it has always done, and what it always intends to do. ■ More information: www.rps.org
Above: Carolyn Mendelsohn at the Salts Mill, Yorkshire, of her ‘In-Between’ portraits show of young girls, with one her young subjects, and Fujfilm’s Jon Cohen (photograph by Susie Lawrence). One of the exhibited prints, Alice (above right) won the RPS Gold Medal subsequently. Below: checking prints emerging from the system at CC Imaging in Leeds (photograph by Louise Rayner). See: www.ccimaging.co.uk
RPS Gold Award winner chooses Fujifilm Fine Art Photo Rag West Yorkshire-based portrait photographer Carolyn Mendelsohn has won a prestigious Gold Award at the RPS’s latest International Print Exhibition with her stunning image focusing on the complex transition from childhood to young adulthood. Carolyn opted for a painterly feel, using the Giclée process and output on Fujifilm Fine Art Photo Rag, a cotton 100% rag traditional fine art paper featuring a special, smooth matt coating. Says Carolyn: “I am thrilled that my ‘Alice’ image has been awarded this honour. The final judging is based on the print itself so the choice of paper was obviously very important to me. It had to do justice to the photograph. I sampled a selection of papers and then chose Fujifilm Fine Art Photo Rag because it has a depth and quality to it which is just so beautiful. It just breathes life and soul into the image.” For info, call Peter Wigington on 01234 572138 email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: http://tinyurl.com/jd6b8ax
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PENTAX K-1 MULTISHOT MODE The devil is in the detail – and that’s something which Pentax majors on with the K-1 pixel shift multishot mode creating 160MB raw files and a Bayer-free true RGB image. David Kilpatrick compares it here with A76RII 42 megapixel AA-free sharpness.
he multishot high resolution mode of the Pentax K-1 is not the first sensor-shift mode intended to enhance resolution, but its approach resembles multishot medium format camera backs by shifting just a single pixel pitch over a grid of four captures to remove the RGGB Bayer filter pattern completely. Unlike some pixelshift methods, which interpolate additional Bayer matrix pixels offset by half pitch, the Pentax mode does not produce a large pixel dimension file – it remains 7360 pixels wide, a 36 megapixel image. Like Sigma’s Foveon (preQuattro) sensors, you get 36 megapixels each of red, green and blue channel rather than just 9 megapixels of red, 9 megapixels of blue and 18 megapixels of green. There is no need for any anti-aliasing filter to spread the effect of a given image point across a radial blur of pixels, or deconvolution processing to reconstruct the point from this small cloud of data. The raw file is in fact the image rather than the basis for recovering an image. For some photographers this misses the point. The client wants landscape format billboard images 12,000 pixels wide to go alongside the airport passenger walkways and you don’t have a 100 megapixel Hasselblad. An interpolating multishot process can give you that – so for that
Although the K-1 has a very good 24-70mm ƒ2.8 lens, for this test we needed higher sharpness and the same lens on both bodies – a late 1960s SMC Takumar.
matter will two vertical shots taken carefully on a Canon 5DS/R and stitched. The K-1 multishot mode just gives you what is now a fairly standard 36MP once its huge raw file is processed. But we don’t think it is a standard 36 megapixels at all. There are two ways to judge how sharp a picture really is – visually, and by measuring the frequency of detail. Both are disrupted by image noise if there’s any present, so despite the potential of the K-1 multishot process to reduce high ISO noise it is best assessed at minimum ISO. The visual method which works best is not 100% viewing, but 200% (or pixel for pixel, as high as 400% when you use a high resolution screen like Apple’ Retina without software which compensates for this). 100% used to work well when monitors had resolutions as low as 60 dots per inch. Measuring detail calls for a standard target and analysis software, but provided all you need is a comparison, a suitable set-up photographed with a good level of contrast and focused detail will do. The measurement tool is JPEG compression, Level 12 in Photoshop. This is close to the lossless standard of LZW TIFF
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compression. When an image has more real detail (or higher noise levels) it won’t compress as much. So, we shoot the same picture to as close to an identical composition, brightness, contrast, sharpening (none) and NR (none) using the same lens, and if the sensor is the same pixel size the compressed JPEG data size is a good measure of how much detail is present. Large JPEG equals sharper image, more detail, higher resolution. This is also a good way to pick bracketed or similar images from a shoot where some may have poor focus or subject blur. You’ll find that even with in-camera JPEGs, which are never close to Level 12 quality, the data size can tell you which ones are the sharpest. It falls down if your camera accidentally focuses on a detailed background and not the subject, but you can spot that easily enough. My test shot used a viola with very fine rosin powder particles scattered below the strings and many other fine details, like the wrap of the strings, grain of different woods, hair of the bow and surfaces of the old tuning fork. The best test lens I could fit to the Pentax K-1, and also to a Sony A7RII (higher resolution at 42 megapixels) and Sony A99 (lower,
at 24MP) proved to be a vintage Pentax SMC Macro Takumar 50mm ƒ4. This gave the best sharpness in depth at ƒ11 without reaching a diffraction threshold on these sensors. The set-up was lit using two Interfit tungsten lights (since Pentax K-1 multishot can not be used with flash), one with a Pixapro 60 x 90cm softbox with grid, one direct; exposure was 1.6s at ISO 100, using Live View mode and self-timer to avoid any influence from mirror action on the K-1. The Sony cameras were set to ISO 50, as this would be the normal choice for the most detailed tripod shot. Comparing single-shot and multishot results, the difference was very clear visually. The resolution of the smallest particles and finest textures was visibly an order higher on the multishot version. The K-1 examples’ JPEG compression difference was 19.1MP for the single shot, 23.5MP for multi. Some tests on other subjects with more detail across the entire frame showed a greater effect, up to around 50% larger compressed sizes. In contrast, the compressed size of the 2012-vintage 24 megapixel A99 image was 13.2MP, and the 42 megapixel non-AAfiltered A7RII was 22.7MP. Taking an identical section from each image (the crop reproduced from 700 pixels wide of the 36MP image, proportionately less and more from the two Sony cameras) confirmed the relative detail levels. For single shot mode on the K-1, the compressed data sizes closely reflect the image sizes of the three cameras and the AA filter of the A99. The multishot Pentax 36 megapixel image, in contrast, is definitely better than the larger Sony A7RII 42 megapixel result. However, it’s not that much better based on the JPEG
Above: four images enlarged to the same crop regardless of original sensor resolution. Top left, Pentax K-1 multishot mode, the sharpest; top right, K-1 normal mode, both at ISO 100. Lower left, Sony A7RII uncompressed raw ISO 50. Lower right, Sony A99 (24 megapixel) at ISO 50. Below, upper complete photograph shows Sony A99 contrast (the lowest) with most shadow detail and the lower image is the higher contrast result from the K-1.
compression test – yet clearly very better on the visual test. Why? It’s down to detail contrast and overall contrast curve. The Sony raw conversions show a little more more detail in the darker tones. The Pentax files have a hint more punch (though nothing like the dense shadows and strong contrast of the Canon 5DS/R). Looking back to our tests of Canon 5DS/R 51 megapixel images, I’d rate the Pentax multishot as comparable. The Bayer pattern should, in theory, lose up to 50% of the resolution or the non-Bayer multishot should gain 33%. That’s about right to make a 36 megapixel sensor match 48MP. The combination of no low-pass filter and multishot is about as good as you can get for recording detail. Given the right lens, it could easily prove to match the 50 megapixels of a Pentax 645Z medium format capture. But not many shots can be taken using the multishot mode, which really demands a tripod. It
can’t use studio flash and involves an in-camera raw file assembly process taking several seconds for each capture. Outdoor scenes where details move between the shots are automatically detected and merged for the best sharpness. Against this, you have to pitch the Sony A7RII or Canon 5DS/R – single normal captures taken under any conditions you care. At their native sizes, or reduced to 36MP, the Bayer sensor results compare well but if you enlarge the Pentax multishot and the Sony single shot to a matched but larger file size (equal to 80 megapixels) the K-1 has the edge. If a very large final print is to be made – like the typical airport poster example I gave – multishot could be the perfect answer. Now selling for £1799 – £200 up from its pre-Brexit price – the K-1 will be competitive for general photography as well.
ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 17
SRB ELITE P FILTER SYSTEM
Cokin P compatible 84mm portability
he Cokin P filter system introduced an 84mm width standard that has been used by many other makes in the last 40 years. This width was introduced shortly after the original 1978 Cokin A system with its 67mm square filters. The P filters measure a nominal 84 x 100mm, allowing more scope to slide graduated types and set the midpoint. Cokin A and P filter holders are moulded plastic and designed for lowest cost, and the company also offers 100mm Z-Pro filters and the larger X-Pro range, keeping in line with other filter makers Hoya, Lee, Formatt and so on. With more compact mirrorless cameras, the P size is a neglected choice. Now SRB, the British photo engineering company, has introduced a P-size filter holder system with some more professional features. Unlike the Cokin type this is a multi-part assembled precision aluminium holder, and rather than buy a different wide-angle type you can reduce the two main slots to one by removing a layer. The front slot is most often used to hold a lens hood, and a neat self-supporting bellows hood is part of the system. The problem with such filter systems in the past has been that very high density filters are popular for long exposures, and this demands good light sealing. You can’t just slot in a rectangular ND1000 unless there’s a special gasket to stop light leaks. So SRB have designed a rearmost circular recess to accept custom made Elite ND and polarising filters, which screw in to the rotating rim forming a good light seal, no gasket needed. A finger wheel gives geared rotation for the polariser and assists when mounting the circular filters. The entire holder is mounted to the lens using metal adaptors slightly larger than the Cokin type (up to 82mm lens thread maximum), held by a spring tensioned rubber tipped release pin. Overall, it’s well thought out and and engineered. The Elite circular filters have dimpled rims to aid fitting and 18 January/February 2017 ƒ2 Cameracraft
Top: the SRB Elite P holder, Elite circular filters, ND grads, and adaptor rings. Above: fitted to Sony A7RII with 1635mm CZ lens. Left: mounting and filter rotation. Example: 70mm at ƒ4.5 with 0.6 ND Hard grad.
removal. The P rectangular filters have smooth cut corners and polished edges, and come in scratch-free Velcro fastened pouches like the circular types. The filter slot is made for 84mm filters – during the test, I found some original Cokin filters were oversize and Cokin plastic holders allowed for this. SRB confirms the production run will have 85.5mm slots. The pre-production lens shade is rectangular (left) but not 35mm shape, and can only fit in one orientation. It either needs to be square, or to have two sets of rails so it can fit either way to allow for vertical or horizontal use. Without modification, the holder without hood and with capacity for two slide-in filters plus the circular rear filter could be used with lenses of 20mm or longer without cut off.
My 16-35mm ƒ4 zoom with 72mm adaptor could be used at 16mm for verticals but only at 20mm or more for horizontals, without the hood which further restricts view. SRB Elite P is a well-made and designed filter system which lifts the semi-pro P system to a higher level. The filters themselves meet expectations for neutrality and optical quality. It’s an ideal choice to go with today’s lightweight camera systems when you don’t want to be lugging 100mm or larger holders and filters around. Prices are £34.95 for the Elite P holder, the same for the hood, £5.95 per adaptor ring, £24.95 for the Elite Polariser, £29.95 for the Elite ND 1000, and (for example) £14.95 for a 3-stop ND grad. – DK
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ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 19
ZEISS MILVUS 15, 18 AND 135mm ZE Although the obvious aspect of the Zeiss Milvus range for Canon EF and Nikon F manual focus is the smooth external design, the build quality and optical enhancements justify the 10-15% premium over the earlier Classic range. David Kilpatrick tested the three latest models in this series.
henever a lens is redesigned, it’s hard to tell exactly what has changed. When the redesign happens after only four years on the market it’s hardly going to transform performance as most of today’s optical advances date back that far. Mechanical improvements are a different matter as new materials and production methods combine with better quality control measurement. We’ve already seen this have a huge effect on the independent lens makers Tamron and Sigma – you would think their current designs, whether prime or zoom, have no connection at all with a variegated past. Zeiss might seem to have no such historic baggage but in it’s not so simple. Some Zeiss lenses are made in Germany still, some are made by Cosina in Japan, some by Sony in Japan or China, and for many years Kyocera (Yashica-Contax) produced generations of Zeiss glass in Japan. Rollei produced Zeiss in Singapore, Hasselblad assembled Zeiss in Sweden, and the thread of home German production was split for over three decades between WWII and the reunification of Germany. Over the last 40 years, Zeiss has partnered everything from compact camera brands to smartphones. We also know that Zeiss is both a supplier and a customer of the main independent lens makers. What has made all this work has been uncompromising excellence in lens design (even for the simplest triplet glass) and the continued development of the multicoating which Carl Zeiss invented in the 1960s, T*. It’s now an environmental protection as well as a contrast-enhancing, flare-reducing treatment. The new Milvus range of manual focus fully EXIF/aperture coupled prime lenses for Canon and Nikon
The three Milvus lenses are not small, but handle surprisingly well for their weight and smooth finish. The filter threads, and lens caps, are 95mm for the 15mm and 77mm for the 18mm and 135mm.
adds a weather-sealed lens barrel while reducing the weight slightly from the traditionally engineered Classic ZE and ZF designs. The size, however, is not reduced and these are some of the largest lenses to handle and pack into kit cases.
The wide angles No doubt more at home on a DSLR, the Milvus lenses were tested using a carefully collimated Commlite adaptor (see facing page) to ensure critically accurate focus with the infinity point correct. Both wide angles have a generous front bezel to ensure filters do not cause cut-off. The lens hoods (15mm , bottom right) are metal, flock lined, and tailored to allow access to rotating filters.
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You might imagine that I spend hours or days finding subjects to test lenses like the 15mm and 18mm. In fact, I spend the time troubleshooting simple aspects of my use of the mirrorless Sony A7RII to test such lenses. Anyone
just mounting these lenses on an adaptor and shooting would conclude they have very soft edge performance wide open. In fact, they are very sharp with the expected trace of loss on the 15mm in the extreme corners. The reason is that mirrorless bodies, and adaptors, are all made to very low precision and rely on self-correcting autofocus lenses often without focusing scales (or with only very vague indication). The Sony body itself is only accurate to around ±0.1mm at 0.1mm short of its 18mm specification mount to sensor distance (latest models) and adaptors have the same tolerance, always erring short of the designed register, as error in the other direction prevents infinity focus. The 18mm Zeiss has a generous marked travel past infinity, and the 15mm though lacking the marking is designed to hit true infinity a fraction short of the hard focusing stop. Both these lenses feature floating elements for curvature of field correction. The 15mm has two aspheric lenses, special glass materials with exceptional partial dispersion and floating elements which enable it
Collimation error and floating elements The top photograph, and the 150dpi clip from the left hand edge, show the flatness of focus field of the floating element Milvus 15mm at ƒ2.8 when focused centrally on an adaptor/body with no mount to sensor distance error. Below, with the centre perfectly focused using an unadjusted adaptor giving a -0.2mm error, this is the effect on the sharpness at the edges (identical left and right, and worse in the corners); the lens scale showed about 1.2m for infinity focus. From experience, a 0.2mm tolerance is common with mirrorless cameras and can also be encountered in DSLRs, whether mount to sensor, or mount to AF module.
to focus a flat field at all distances, without aberrations or fringes. The catch with floating element is that if your camera body or the AF module in a DSLR is not perfectly collimated the curvature of field may be incorrectly compensated. This will happen if you find the lens ends up focused on a ‘scale’ distance you do not expect. The 15mm and 18mm, focused on infinity (on both my adaptors) when the focusing scale was showing close to 1m, using very accurate magnified live view focus. This resulted in a cap-shape curved field for distant settings, becoming very unsharp towards the edges at ƒ2.8. It’s not difficult to calculate the required shimming of the adaptor if a lens hits infinity at 1m marked focus – on the 18mm, the focus extension for 1m is 0.328mm. Using Rosco Cinéfoil (a tough thick aluminium foil I use for shims and masks) it needed a couple of layers plus double-sided tape to make up four shim washers. Repeated tests showed that an adaptor thickness of 26 to 26.10mm rather than the unshimmed thickness of 25.85mm fixed incorrectly tuned floating element correction. Not
ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 21
only that, one layer of thick paper (even thinner than my .005mm thick foil) was needed to achieve a perfect match. It transformed the apparent edge/corners performance of both wide-angle lenses to match the centre. On a DSLR, you would never detect the unsharpess resulting from a focus calibration and floating element issue through the finder though you would see it in the results. The depth of field of AF sensors, as opposed to the accuracy of magnified live view focus, demands the fast ƒ2.8 aperture of these lenses (at ƒ4, the AF module doesn’t know the difference between 1m and 30m and the focus you get is a lottery – at ƒ2.8 the more accurate centre sensor kicks in with the higher end Canon models). Even so I would advise using magnified live view focus on DSLR bodies which the lenses are intended for – and checking the focus scale to ensure the body is properly collimated and the floating element mechanism will improve rather than wreck the results.
The Milvus 135mm ƒ2 Apo Sonnar has the most effective T* coating. Even under large overhead light, the front element is an inky black well. Above, the focusing extends the physical length (ghosted double shot). Below, focused on the middle red ball, wide open, then defocused progressively closer (final shot at closest focus).
Better than Batis An lower cost alternative on the A7RII would be the autofocus Batis 18mm ƒ2.8 which I tested in our last issue. The Milvus 18mm is also a Distagon, but with its longer back focus the optical design is more complex and larger. A quick comparison of the Adobe lens profiles for the Batis and Milvus shows that it also has lower distortion and vignetting. It accepts 77mm filters (very much a Canon and Nikon standard) where the 15mm takes 95mm and is a very big lens indeed, forming a real ‘bucket’ with its deep petal lens hood. There is no Batis 15mm (yet) so no comparison can be made. Both the wide angle hoods are unusually generous and their curved design means you can access a slimline polariser fitted to the lens thread. The lens front elements are modest in diameter and not deeply curved or bulbous, so filter holders can be used. Zeiss has been making 18mm full frame wide angles in both rangefinder and retrofocus types
better T* coating and the highest resistance to flare ever. The resolution proved well up to 42 megapixels and will match the Canon 5DS/R 50 megapixels provided there is no attempt to rely on manual focus visually through the finder, or by AF confirmation. Focus using live view every time unless you are working the lens at a smaller aperture for casual street photography or landscape depth of field. Apart from the difference in size and cost, you should pick between the 15mm and 18mm based on the angle you need. The 15mm’s corners are that little softer wide open and to match the 18mm you’d have to crop the image to about the same angle of view – not really surprising. But there is no trace of ‘streaking’ softeness into the corners, just a hint of reduced sharpness. Both lenses provided a level of fine detail we rarely see in any digital image. On the A7RII with the adaptor finely collimated, that means even the 15mm clearly resolving the thinnest branches – maybe even twigs – on trees up to 350 metres way.
The 135mm ƒ2
for many years. The ƒ4 design for Contarex dates back 60 years. The Distagon has been a benchmark for professional grade wide angles in both 35mm and rollfilm formats and the new Milvus versions continue that tradition. The SLRmount ZE and ZF Classic 18mm
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has been ƒ3.5 and the ƒ2.8 new design is obviously much larger, but it has lower distortion and vignetting. Also improved are the weather sealing and mechanical feel of both lenses with the smooth internal focus ring, along with
Of course, the same distance and subject with the Milvus 135mm ƒ2 Apo Sonnar proved the worth of one of the world’s most highly corrected lenses. Wide open, at around 250 metres, individual pine needles were visible (at the limit of resolution for the sensor, certainly). Small leaves appeared to have texture and detail within them though only four or five pixels wide. This also applied from corner to corner of the frame at ƒ2. Because this is a Sonnar design, not a Planar, the internal and overall focus movements are combined in a floating action to give better close-up correction, right down to 80cm and a 1:4 subject scale. This is over 50% larger than typical 85mm lenses as they have exactly the same close focus distance. Apo correction and a flat field are maintained. The Sonnar design also gives a characteristic circular bokeh effect with cat’s-eye discs towards the field edge (see examples, left).
If you wonder why this lens (like the Distagons) is clearly superior to autofocus versions just try the 265° of focus travel. It is like silk, but with a resistance which lets you know you are shifting some serious glass and metal. My ghosted image shows the 35mm lens extension between infinity and 80cm. You just couldn’t make an AF drive to focus this lens in the same way, and maintain the corrections. AF lenses of this focal length and aperture use internal focusing that rules out ultimate apochromatic, semi-macro, flat field, low vignetting, low distortion design. Samyang’s 135mm ƒ2 non-apo manual focus lens comes close to Zeiss in sharpness, and that lenses like the Sony CZ Alpha 135mm ƒ1.8 are very good indeed. They are just not this good, with chromatic aberrations as their weakest point. This lens is almost perfect – a benchmark. In the end, whether you can even consider living with these expensive (£2k+), large and heavy purely manual lenses comes down to your aspirations. Because I tested these on a mirrorless Sony body with 5-axis sensor stabilisation and spent half a day fine tuning two Canon EF adaptors using shims, all my pictures were pixel sharp at 42 megapixels when I expected them to be. On the Canon body they are best paired with – the EOS 5DS/R – there is no stabilisation. The same applies to all Nikon bodies. My tests with and without stabilisation proved that it really pays off. Either that, or shooting at 1/250s and faster with the wide angles – 1/1000s and faster for the 135mm. Or a tripod, or flash. Ultimately these are lenses for the most critical, painstaking photographer and take the full frame 35mm DSLR or mirrorless format into the domain once claimed by Hasselblad and Rollei with Zeiss Distagon and Sonnar T* glass. We do not give star ratings in reviews, but if we did, these three would have fifteen stars to share. When 24 x 36mm sensors progress to 100 megapixels, Zeiss Milvus glass will be ready and waiting.
At its closest focus, the Apo Sonnar 135mm ƒ2 was set to ƒ7.1 for a balance depth of field, at ISO 400.
The 18mm Milvus Distagon, though ƒ2.8 instead of ƒ3.5 like the Classic ZE, has lower distortion and vignetting and it ideal for architecture and interiors. The 15mm, below, held very good sharpness even at ƒ22 (unusual in a 15mm) for a 2.5s exposure.
See: www.zeiss.co.uk ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 23
ALL THE WORLD’S U A STAGE pon first glance, Reubal Studios’ Fine Art Dance Portrait Photography looks nearly perfect. That “look” does not come by accident – photographer Brian Ramage goes the extra mile to ensure every detail is right. In addition to near-perfect lighting and the flexibility of his subjects, what’s especially striking about these portraits are the locations he chooses: All of Brian’s locations are iconic and recognizable places in either Los Angeles or Las Vegas: the Hollywood sign…Disney concert hall… Union Station… Olvera Street… Valley of Fire National Park. And
Even if security guards and national park rangers disagree, Brian Ramage finds the best studio sets can be free – just take your shoot on location
of course the famous tourist hotels on the Vegas strip. What might seem like a quick location decision actually takes a considerable amount of time. For each shoot, Brian does his homework and scouts out each area. “For all of my shoots, the
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first thing that I’ll do is I’ll go on Google Maps, get an idea of where the sun is going to be setting, and then look on the satellite view for parks, bodies of water, or anything that I think might be photographic. From there, I’ll zoom in and go to a street view
and try to get an idea of what it looks like from street level. In the case of the LA shoots, where I’m actually here and can go to the place, if I have a 9am Sunday shoot, I’ll go to the same location at 9am the week before to get an idea of the lighting conditions as well as foot traffic, and anything else that might affect the shoot that day”. Then there’s the lighting, which is usually matched to the ambient light level so it’s not immediately obvious that he used a flash. He uses Alien Bees with the Vagabond battery pack, as large a softbox as the wind permits, and a
Iconic location finding: the Hollywood sign in L.A., and the Valley of Fire in Nevada.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. is a great setting, above. Brian often includes sunbursts in his signature style, below.
custom-built lighting stand to help keep the lights upright. Recently he has switched to prefer the Godox X1 trigger system, with the AD600, TT600, and mostly the AD360 bare bulb with 17" soft box for its portability. When asked to talk about what goes into giving his images that unique “look”, he says he doesn’t go into it with any preconceived vision whatsoever. “I do agree that a natural style has developed, but it’s something that is fairly consistent regardless if I’m doing bright daytime or a sunset – they still have the same feel. It’s nothing that I set out to try to do”. Part of his signature look involves shooting into the sun, be it the actual sun or a simulation in Photoshop.
Seeing the light Brian learned lighting from the late and undoubtedly great portrait photographer and author Monte Zucker in 2001, when he attended a Wedding Portrait workshop in Las Vegas. One of the things Monte would focus on was “finding the light” – he would take the crowd around Vegas and
ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 25
he would point out where to find soft light under awnings and car ports, natural light that was ideal for taking portraits. The other part of the workshop taught strobes in a studio setting. “Monte was so good at teaching that within the first five minutes it just clicked. That transformed my technique literally overnight. It was just a matter of ‘seeing the light’, as it were”. Armed with this new technique, he started shooting commercial and family portraiture in 2002. So what got him into dance photography? “I was doing video work with some dancers from the reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance about six years ago. I fell in love with the discipline and the artistic vision and the hard work. You just become energized by the passion that goes into something like that. You’re dealing with girls as young as eight who are better dancers than other people will be at anything in their lives. Just the artistic beauty combined with relentless dedication was something that struck me”.
Las Vegas has street and resort backgrounds which can be used with few complaints from security.
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“So one day while on vacation in Vegas I decided to try to book photo shoots while there. I stopped by a local dance school, gave them a business card and an outline of what I wanted to do, and they put up a posting in the studio. The next day my phone was ringing off the hook from different moms who wanted to do shoots. Since the first few all knew each other I did the original session as a group shoot, which worked great. There’s something about the girls all working together that adds to it”.
When things go wrong
Chinatown drew more security attention. Graffiti and murals, below, make strong backgrounds.
Like most guerrilla photographers, Brian says he’s been chased out of pretty much everywhere he’s tried to shoot. “My favorite story happened in Vegas, my second time working with dancers. I knew that I wanted to get a group shot of these dancers against the light show on Fremont St. I had one strobe and one lighting assistant with a Westcott MiniApollo 16 x 16" softbox on a short pole – not huge, but we kind of drew attention to ourselves. It was six dancers and all of their parents and my buddy and I. I told the girls “We’re only going to get one shot at this, because once the flash goes off someone’s going to shoo us away. So get ready – here’s what I want you to do.” “While the girls were changing into their dance outfits, I proactively approached a security guard, who said ‘You can’t take pictures during the light show – it disrupts the experience. And by the way, Las Vegas Police Department is on their way, as we see these kids are changing in the street. If you take ANY photos, you will be arrested immediately.’ “I thanked the guard, went over to the girls, told them, ‘Get in position now. The second the light show ends, we’re getting the shot and we’re going’. I took two shots and said, ‘Let’s get out of here!’… a block away I explained to the girls and the parents what had happened. Only then did I check the shot on the back of the camera – we nailed it! Using the Sony A7RII Wi-Fi feature, we uploaded the image to Instagram almost ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 27
immediately”. And what about the police? “Nobody came after us”. “On a shoot in the Valley of Fire National Park in Nevada, after we had been working for an hour, a ranger came by and asked to see our permit. We didn’t have one; so we had five minutes to pack up and go, ‘otherwise it’s a $1,000 fine’. I shot for four more minutes before moving. “Things are different in Los Angeles. The movie industry is based there. Student filmmakers shoot guerrilla style without permits. It’s just a way of life. So in L.A. there’s an unwritten rule recognized by police and security guards alike: if you don’t put your tripod down on the ground, then no one bothers you. So I just learned to work without a tripod. “The only exception to that was when we were shooting in Chinatown. After about an hour and a half, security came over and kicked us out fairly aggressively. But we had drawn a crowd of about fifty people so it was understandable. “One time we weren’t shooed away on a shoot was at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. A guard came over, politely waited until I was finished with the shot I was taking, then apologized, saying ‘We have a tour group coming in, so if you could please clear the area’. Once the tour group left they had no problem with us shooting more. I expected Disney to be more strict, so this attitude impressed me”. Editor’s note: indeed, since Frank Gehry’s architecture is heavily protected – “Content intended for commercial use should not feature the building as a main focus, main subject, or substantial portion of the composition” and they don’t allow any interiors even for editorial use. Despite this the Concert Hall is a popular venue for wedding and portrait shoots.
National parks are may need a permit for commercial shoots. Private properties and interiors normally only need permission.
that he had to “spend a year in Photoshop drawing detail into my subjects’ faces so it would look like they were in focus”. Still in the portraiture business, he needed a new body that had pixel resolution for large wall prints and the Wi-Fi capability he had incorporated into his workflow. ”I went with the Sony mostly for their more advanced focusing features like Eye AF”, which is most ironic since he now uses manual focus lenses almost
Gear Brian was a long-time Canon shooter before he moved to the Sony A7RII. Part of it was the frustration he had with his last body, the Canon 70D, which suffered from back-focus so badly 28 January/February 2017 ƒ2 Cameracraft
exclusively. “I couldn’t wait for them to ship G-master lenses, so I got the Samyang/Rokinon 85mm ƒ1.4 and 135mm ƒ2 – those lenses are amazing. There’s some chromatic aberration that you have to fight, but you can’t beat the sharpness and price”. Focusing manually took some practice, and he discovered that the camera’s manual-focusing aids like Peaking Level/Color and Focus Magnifier weren’t enough. “What really helped was getting a magnification loupe for the LCD screen. Used in conjunction with the Focus Magnifier function on the camera it does a much better job of nailing the focus”. Another focusing tip: at full-body distance, their feet will be on the same plane as their eyes (or close enough) “so if I’m doing a backlit shot, I can just focus on their toes and be done”. How do your clients use your images? “This is a huge change. When I decided to go into the Family Portrait space about four years ago, I knew I wanted the
focus to be on big wall art for the home. I have a similar 40-year-old physical print of my family which I still cherish. If it had been delivered as a digital file, who knows where it would be? I wanted that for my clients. “But when I started with Fine Art Dance Portraiture, I wanted to offer the same thing, and a professional lab enlargement was part of the package. But it turns out that’s not what the dance clients wanted at all. In the dance world today, it’s all about building the Instagram following. And in order to build that following you need constant content. So I’m creating images that I think would look stunning in a 20 x 30" print, and they’re never going to be any bigger than a 5" cell phone screen.
Why ‘Reubal’? “’Reubal’ is Scottish Gaelic for ‘rebel’. In 2007 when I went to open a Twitter account, it was important to have a short name and so came up with a short name that wasn’t used much. My family is Scottish, so it seemed apropos to use a short Gaelic name”.
Any last words? “I’m not a fan of TTL”… yeah… most perfectionists aren’t! You can see Brian Ramage’s portrait work at: http://reubal.com/ and you can follow his dance photography on Facebook at: http://bit.ly/2fMsdH2 – Gary Friedman
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17/11/2016 12:30 Launched at Photokina… Canson® Infinity Baryta Prestige 340gsm …specifically designed for fine art inkjet STOP PRESS – REVIEWED IN THIS ISSUE
CANSON® INFINITY PAPERS. EVERY PRINT A MASTERPIECE.
A range of Digital Fine Art Photographic papers, canvases and archival storage boxes. fo
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ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 29
CANSON BARYTA PRESTIGE
340gsm Double Weight Plus paper
anson Infinity only sent a few test sheets of their new ultra-heavy base Baryta Prestige 340gsm. So it was precious. You can imagine how pleased I was when one of the cats walked across the sheet I was about to load (never turn your back) then sat on it. Once, that would have been the end of that sheet of paper. But, since it was the first test print using the existing Canson Baryta profile on a heavier 340gsm new medium, I dusted it off and went ahead. Not a mark. Not even a trace. It was as if the virgin paper had not been handled at all. Out of the printer (Epson 3800) it was almost perfectly flat, just the hint of a curve. It’s so heavy and stiff it could almost stand up unsupported – but there was no curl to let me balance a free standing print on its end. In terms of surface finish and absence of ink lay, bronzing or ‘bald’ highlights Canson already
The colour print is standing up, just one point touching the printer top edge. That’s how heavy this paper is.
had one of the best papers made in their standard Baryta, and this is equally good. It has an intense d-Max and a natural white, looking and feeling like a darkroom print but on a ‘carton’ base of the kind which went out of production half a century ago. I seem to recall some Agfa Brovira fibre-base paper on a super weight stock and this Canson paper captures the feel of classic monochrome silver prints perfectly. It’s almost a pity to
put it in a mount, though it would look great in the slip-in matte mounts being marketed by 3XM (in their presentation boxes) and Marrutt (as packs of mounts). As for printer handling, I didn’t try stacking it in the feeder. On my Epson, rear single sheet feed seemed the safest option and it fed perfectly. Canson Baryta Prestige 340gsm looks perfect with black and white and toned images, and
FOTOSPEED SQUARE PAPERS
he square format – whether you associate it with Polaroid, Hasselblad or Instagram – is so popular it’s now a standard. Many cameras now allow a 1:1 format image to be composed and captured raw. The demand for square prints for framing and for spreads in photo books or albums has not been matched by any paper manufacturer until now. Fotospeed has put three key paper types – Platinum Etching, Platinum Baryta and PF Lustre – into retail boxes 8 x 8" and 12 x 12" (and also in a square test pack). Any social photographer will tell you that triptych frames with 5 x 5" or 7 x 7" prints are very popular… but you can get two of these sizes respectively out of single sheets of A4 and A3. You can’t get more than one square print from A4 or A3 – and the size is odd, either 8.25" or 11.75" square. At around 10% lower retail price than A4 and A3, the Fotospeed square sizes don’t save you a fortune but they
Seen on the printer, the 12 x 12 is 225% bigger in area than the 8 x 8. It’s ideal for very detailed images.
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lovely with colour. It’s more like a dye transfer art process print than a lab colour print, as we are just not used to this weight, finish and colour gamut. It is archivally about as good as you get and can be recommended for limited editions, gallery shows and museum archival work, or presentation unmounted in an acetate sleeve. – DK
Pre-cut custom 8 x 8 and 12 x 12" stock enable prints to traditional lab/ darkroom sizes including 10 x 12". We found that all three types front stack-fed in the Epson 3800 (still a popular standard). Even the heaviest and stiffest paper, Platinum Baryta 300gsm, fed without a hitch. Using our Fotospeed profiles, prints were perfect from the first test. With the Epson 3800 driver you can create a custom 8 x 8" size, but there’s no way I could find of making my custom size, or the built-in 12 x 12" option, print borderless. Fotospeed tested other printers including Epson P800 and R3000, and Canon models, and these did allow a borderless print. Verdict: all three papers are tried and tested favourites (I used Baryta for the toned still life, PF Lustre for the tangle of trees). It’s hip to be square, as all hipsters know. Now dust off that Rolleiflex or scan your Polaroids. — DK
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ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 31
d in e iew Rev s issue thi
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ƒ2 CAMERACRAFT PORTFOLIO
Tales from the Moors Country ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 33
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Opening image: Do Not Cringe and Make Yourself Small. Facing page: The End of All Our Exploring. Above: Like Ghosts From an Enchanter Fleeing. Below: Raven’s Song.
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Previous spread: The Calling. Above: A Hundred Silent Ways. Below: Evensong. Top right: The Word and the Whisperer. Bottom right: Fallen.
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Tales From the Moors Country - Nicola Taylor
ou might think, looking at the photographs here, that it’s all about art. Indeed – but what started as personal work, not created in pursuit of an award or an invitation to exhibit at some biennale or the other has become photography which sells well. Nicola Taylor has come to this relatively late. Before taking a photography course at the London College of Communication, she had already decided to put a life-eating career in the City of London behind her. In her early thirties, she took the gap years she had missed and did the usual City burnout therapy of travelling. She also taught yoga for a while, and this may have an important bearing on her ability to previsualise a pose and hold it. She is her own model, and the tripod is her assistant and friend. On the college course lecturers from a commercial background encouraged her to take that path. Though heavily influenced by advertising and editorial fashion photography, she didn’t want to enter that world and preferred to return to her origins far away from London. North of Whitby, the landscape has a uniquely desolate and wild feel as it stretches the distance to the abandoned industrial civilisation of Teesside through a tracery of minor roads and high moors. It’s this Moors Country which drew Nicola to Great Ayton, and with the North Sea coast has provided her with a setting to act out episodes in imagined stories. “The initial Tales from the Moors Country images were not created for sale but rather for my own exploration”, she says. “They were the expression of my personal journey and experiences, but presented in a way that emphasises the universal themes. I believe that they are popular precisely for that reason.” In this Cameracraft issue we have taken ‘location’ as a theme and Nicola Taylor’s success has a great deal to do with her location as a stage or environment. Location is also critical to some businesses for passing custom.
Top: The Weaker Side. Above, on-line sales. See website and blog, www.nicolataylorphotographer.com – and on-line marketing, store.nicolataylorphotographer.com There is a good tradition of photography hanging on the walls in this area, from Frank Sutcliffe in Victorian Whitby to Joe Cornish’s gallery in Northallerton today. Despite the relative isolation tourism thrives, helped by the gothic
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legends of Goathland and Bram Stoker’s Whitby as well as the restored North York Moors Railway Trust and countless television dramas using the timeless look of farms and villages. Craft and art fairs are popular and Nicola found
her cards and prints sold well. She has gone beyond the craft fair level to create an on-line web gallery with a range of products created from the photographs, which suits the mood of the work, and presents the finished art and gift items with excellent product shots. Unlike some photographers, Nicola has no problem cropping the originals or allowing us to crop (for our cover). She fits them into cameo-shaped pendants, on to long narrow smartphone cases, into frames, on to cards, into a calendar and even on to canvas shopping bags. “The message still gets through and the message is more important than the form it takes”, she says. “It’s why the product range is appropriate too. I’m choosing to allow people to consume my artwork in whichever way means more to them. For me, form and aesthetics are the tools we use to communicate. They’re important because they help us communicate but they’re always secondary to that communication. That communication isn’t lessened because they want to wear the image rather than hang it on the wall. I believe we often wear our possessions as armour against the real world – even something as banal as a shopping bag.” Supporting the web store is the website it’s part of, and this is also extremely well designed and structured. Nicola adds a blog which does not tax the small screen of phone and tablet devices. There are few words, well chosen, and carefully curated pictures to go with them. It’s a textbook example of how to do this well. We will not quote her here – just visit and read for yourself, directly. Needless to say, Nicola has now (only very recently) given way to demands to run workshops and offer tuition in all the aspects of her creative business. Like many of our readers, she does see photography as a craft. As to whether it’s cameracraft or some kind of moorland witchcraft – that’s another story… – DK Ì
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3xmsolution.com/14x11 ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 41
hen I was teaching mental health and psychotherapy at universities, the notion of ‘change’ was a concept that I found hard to clearly define for students. If you’re not undergoing some form of change right now, no matter how small, you will be tomorrow. It can be a problem, some say, if change is imposed without choice – less so if the change is under your control. In the last year, I have encountered at least three of the top five stressors in life related to change beyond my control. My father died, my relationship broke down (if not up) and I moved out of the house I had rented for eleven years and the county (Limerick) I had lived in for 17 years. That change happened very suddenly, perhaps impetuously. I tend to mull things over for ages, deciding the status quo is the safest option. It’s only when I get fired up – perhaps by an angry response to an unfavourable encounter with a landlord over rising rent? – that I act. And so in October 2016 I found myself in a friend’s mobile home in South County Kerry, Ireland, wondering what I was going to do next. My emigration to Ireland 17 years ago was a major upheaval I managed to cope with quite successfully. I knew South Kerry as I had been visiting the area regularly for over ten years, holidaying there two or three times a year and working there on a regular basis. I photographed parts of it for Tourism Ireland for over three years; shot gardens and interiors of homes there for The Irish Garden magazine for over eight years and self-published a book of photographs of the region which was shown on Irish national TV.
Finding my location Valentia Island, on the Skellig Ring – one of Lonely Planet’s top ten ‘must visit’ destinations – is an area of outstanding natural
STEPHEN POWER TALKS TO FOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS ABOUT THEIR SPECIAL PLACES – AND STARTS OFF WITH A ‘MOVING STORY’ OF HIS OWN
Stephen Power’s relocation – with the room set out for training and daylight studio.
beauty. The island itself is quite small, only eleven kilometres long by three kilometres wide with a population of only 650 people. The roads are generally quite narrow – some are impassable without one car moving into a passing space or a driveway, and very steep. But there is stunning scenery around every corner. It’s a perfect location for landscape and travel photography and residential photography workshops. I was once asked, at an interview, what motivates me most. My reply was “fear mainly”. It’s
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not unlike musicians or actors holding on to the notion of “staying hungry”. It’s easy to become complacent or comfortable in any situation that we might find ourselves in, even if it’s not perfect, so we don’t consider the alternatives. So, once I had moved my furniture and belongings into my new home, I started to look for a way to earn a living here. There’s a bridge connecting Valentia to “the mainland” and so it doesn’t always feel like being on an island. But I am, and one advantage is that the Irish government have put support
and funding in place to help develop island businesses – of which I am now one. In fact, my new mentor from the Valentia Island Development Company, who contacted me while I was still physically moving house, referred to me as “a micro-enterprise”. She laughed when I retorted; “oh no, I’m bigger than that”. It was a joke, but it made me realise that I do have skills that can be useful to others; the main issue is letting them know that I’m around. This task is the same wherever you live and one that needs to be reviewed regularly. I’ve started promoting my tuition and courses with notices in the post office and small shops, for example. I haven’t used this form of advertising for twenty years but it resulted in a B&B shoot commission, rather than a teaching appointment. I am also telling everyone I’m a photographer, and within a few weeks I’m starting to get noticed. Recently, while out shooting incredible landscape views in lovely November light, I’d parked up by the tiny churchyard near Knights Town when a couple walked past and asked me if I was the photographer recently arrived on the Island. They turned out to be the owners of a large guest house, and I had already contacted them to discuss a residential photography course. We had a very pleasant chat and they invited me to call over for coffee and to get plans for it underway. I’m looking for photo opportunities everywhere and, probably because I need to make my move work professionally, I feel less constrained about asking people to let me photograph them. I approached two fishermen throwing their catch into boxes on the pier at Port Magee and got a series stock images. While out buying second hand furniture, I tried to bargain with the owner of the store for a discount. He was reluctant, and so I said “I’ll settle for you letting me take your
One of the first landscapes Stephen shot after starting his move to Valentia Island – Skellig Michael and the shore which forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a longdistance footpath transforming tourism on the western Irish coast. Below – meeting locals on the island, Stephen nearly always asks to take their photographs, whether it’s the owner of the secondhand furniture shop or fishermen loading up their catch. As a result, everyone knows he is out and about with a camera.
photograph”. He agreed and I got my favourite portrait of the year. So far, what was an impetuous decision to move house has worked out well. The reception from the locals has been incredibly warm and welcoming. Those I have worked for offer to promote me to others – and nothing works better for advertising than word of mouth in a small community. I have had telephone calls and emails inviting me to meet business owners to discuss photography work. I’m also hearing the phrase “there will be photography
opportunities for you in our forthcoming development plans”. Whatever happens, I know that it’ll be me that makes it work, or not. And, one thing is for sure, the view from my front room was worth the move, just in itself.
Stephen Power is hosting one-day and longer residential photography courses on Valentia Island, County Kerry, Ireland in 2017. See: www.stephenpowerphotos.com (Residential Courses link) for more information ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 43
KEVIN WILSON: PRIVATE PLACES
evin Wilson, based in Dorset, has worked hard to achieve a worldwide reputation as one of the leading wedding and portrait photographers of the last 30 years. Recently he’s added further Fellowship awards to his record, and we’ll be look at this in a future issue. Secrets to his success include the special and often exclusive locations that he finds and uses for his work – and his signature lighting style. He is fortunate to be able to use several private access location properties for his wedding and portrait photography, and his training days. Some of the buildings he can use are private houses or schools, many of which are not open to the public. Usually, Kevin begins by using the exterior of the buildings as a backdrop for his wedding portraiture. This has enabled him to build up a relationship with the owners over a long period, to the point where he can gain access to the interiors. “There may be parts of a building that are open to the public, in which I might be allowed to photograph a wedding, and others that are restricted areas” explains Kevin. “What I tend to do, in those circumstances, is get to know the co-ordinators, or the manager of the building. “After going there a few times, and giving them photographs of a wedding that I photographed, for their own use, I approach them and explain that I am very interested in photographing in other parts of the building, and ask to be introduced to the owner.” Kevin will explain to the owner that the restricted areas of the interior has wonderful architecture and lighting and that he would like to record it in his wedding or portrait images. He also offers some free images to the property owner. He has become skilled at asking people if they know anyone who might have an interesting property that he might use for his photography, or where he might take some portraits. 44 January/February 2017 ƒ2 Cameracraft
“Last year, I had a young lady come to me who was getting married, who happened to be a prison officer. I asked her if she might be able arrange a meeting with the Governor, so I could take some portraits of the prisoners, as a personal project” he recounts. Kevin met the assistant Governor, who took him on a tour of the prison. Following a meeting of the prison board his project was given the green light. He spent five days in the prison and photographed more than twenty prisoners in various situations – a Fellowship panel, in fact, for the BIPP.
Side lighting When Kevin is photographing a subject he always tries to get what he calls “90 degree light” on the face. Specifically, this is light coming at a 90 degree angle to the camera, which he feels lights “all the planes of the face; the chin, the nose and the forehead.” His way of working has its roots in his use of Hasselblad film cameras at the start of his career, when he was restricted to using ISOs of 400 or slower. While digital cameras can offer much higher ISO ratings, he still tends to keep them relatively low. “A lot of the areas I get access to have very low levels of light, which results in me working with very slow shutter speeds and with the camera on a tripod”, he explains. “This means that the subject often must be leaning or, in some way, supported so that they can avoid moving too much.” Kevin is quick to point out that his main lighting set up is quite dramatic in style and can cause some problems for women for whom it may be a less flattering set-up than for male subjects. “I am aware that I need to control the levels of light falling on the face and the shadow areas”, he says. “At the other extreme, I need to ensure that I don’t burn out any highlights.” He always has several reflectors with him to help control the lighting levels in this
way – “quite often I’ll have four or five reflectors in the car, mainly silver and black and, of course, a diffuser as well”. “The other thing that I was taught, is to allow space around the picture”, he says. “This is so I am able to crop out any distractions.” When Kevin began his photography career, Photoshop was yet to be invented and he had to rely on his eyes to show him when there might be something in the background that was going to intrude on the subject, or be distracting. Over the years, he has adapted to suit the changing needs of clients, but has always kept the key elements of lighting, composition, pose and space around the subject, to crop if necessary in his images. “No matter what the change in the phases of photography we might go through are”, he says, “if you’ve got those key elements in your work, it will always stand you in good stead”. Kevin has developed the knack of seeking out interesting places also interesting subjects, such as the people in the artisan community in Bridport, where he met and photographed several craftspeople simple by approaching one, and then asking if they knew someone else who might be interested in being photographed by him. “I am constantly trying to find access to old, interesting buildings” says Kevin. “My first step is trying to find out who owns it and then ask them if I can use the building; after all the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. “Initially, I write to people to ask for permission to photograph in an inaccessible building. I offer to pay for access but usually photographs are enough.”
Ì See: www.kevinwilson.co.uk and www.kevinwilson.co.uk/training.html Facing page top, a private chapel which Kevin uses for wedding studies; below, natural light and a supported pose in a private house. This page, top, a favourite cliff location for figure work. Centre, photographing a wedding in Dundalk he found this mural commissioned by the council to tidy up a wall. Bottom, fly tipping on an industrial site as a fun character portrait for this couple and their dog. ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 45
JASON SMALLEY: OUTLAND
o say that Jason Smalley has photography in his blood would be something of an understatement. This likeable Lancashire Lad, based near Chorley, got his first camera and full darkroom set-up at the age of nine and sold his first images, in the form of black and white prints, to BBC Wildlife when he was twelve years old. Jason, now 56, became a full time professional photographer 28 years ago with, as he says, “a masterplan to become a nature and countryside photographer and to work my way to becoming a professional, by hook or by crook”. It is an ambition which led him to find an unusual favourite place – the little-known western shoreline of Lancashire and Cumbria, from the Welsh Border to the Scottish Border, with its wild western sunsets and dangerous sands. He calls this Outland, and he has just completed walking and photographing it to create a unique document of a little known strand.
Above: ‘The Tree of Life’, near Grange over Sands at Humphrey Head late in the evening. Below, from the stone jetty at Morecambe, lit by moonlight. Bottom, taken during a storm on a beach near Drigg in Cumbria, EOS 5DS R at 24mm, 0.6s.
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On leaving school, aged 16, Jason had saved enough money to buy a Zenith EM and some lenses, which became his first working camera. He took a job as a trainee groundsman on a golf course and with the money he made from that work, bought a window cleaning round. His long-term aim was to build it up into a viable business, which he could then sell to fund his entry into photography. This took seven years to come to fruition and is no small indictor of the passion and commitment that he has for his chosen craft. “It may have been a slow route”, says Jason, “but it was the best route I could manage at the time”. He had no formal training and started by submitting his work to contacts provided by organisations such as the BFP (Bureau of Freelance Photographers) including local and specialist magazines such as Lancashire Life and Country Walking. Over time, Jason built up a strong portfolio which helped him to move up the ladder to national publications such as Country
Living, BBC Wildlife, Gardener’s World, and Reader’s Digest. This work did not come to him easily and involved regular train journeys to London, often on a weekly basis, to meet editors, having initially telephoned to make appointments. Although countryside and wildlife photography was always Jason’s primary aim, he did find the need to take on other work to pay the bills. “I did a few portrait shoots and interiors for magazines like Woman and Home and some illustrated articles writing about photography and natural history” he says. He also built up a strong collection of stock images, which still sells for him via image libraries such as Alamy. “I’d be given a landscape based commission that might involve a few people shots which an editor would like, and then I’d be asked to take more people images. This helped me to increase my portfolio to show to other magazines. Only environmental portraiture though, I was never one for studio shots”, he explains. In recent times, Jason has pulled away from magazine work
Top: a flight of Godwits on the mudflats at dawn near Thurstaston Beach, Heswall, near West Kirkby, Birkenhead. Canon 5D MkII, 300mm. Above: near St Bee’s on the Cumbrian Coast – Rock Erotica. 5DS R, 100-400mm zoom at 153mm.
to a large extent. “It was crippling my creativity in some ways. When I looked through the viewfinder, I saw the exposure meter down one side and a pound meter opposite it. I wouldn’t take shots unless I got quite a high score rating. I got to the point where I couldn’t take a portrait shot of my family without thinking where can I sell this?”. This have changed for him considerably in that regard now. As he is becoming more personally connected to countryside issues, Jason is increasingly conscious of
who he will work for, particularly if he is unable to approve of their ethical position. “Recently, I have declined work from a previous client because they have come out in favour of badger culling and are pro fracking. These are both issues that I am passionate about and very involved in. At this stage of my life, I need to be authentic and true to myself and not allow my images to be used to promote something I’m not happy with.” Jason’s ‘Outland’ odyssey began in November 2014, when he needed a project that would
enable him to get back in touch with his own creativity. “I drove to Lytham St Anne’s, a very staid, Victorian-esque, seaside town on the North-West coast of England, early in the morning, in heavy rain, thinking; if I can go there and get good shots in these conditions, there might be a project in it.” The resulting images – mostly taken with long shutter speeds with the camera on a tripod, due to the low light – were encouraging and Jason felt that he had captured a good sense of the place. Following his Lytham trip, Jason committed himself to a project to photograph the whole of the North-West coast of England from the Welsh border, right up to the Scottish border, initially over a year-long period. He planned to travel once a week, on a set day, regardless of the weather, shooting for a few hours and eventually track his way along the coast. He started by driving down to the Welsh border on the south side of the Birkenhead Peninsula and immediately ran into a personal issue with the project.
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“I became very aware that I was unlikely to make any money from the project as I had no end plan for the images. It was simply intended to help me get going down my own self-developmental path”, he explains. “I did panic a little bit, in the first few weeks, wondering if I could afford to do it, and whether I should be spending my time massaging social media, to build up more business for my workshops and to get more photography commissions.” Jason managed to overcome his initial concerns and began spending even more time on the project and eventually worked his way along the entire North West coastline. Whatever the conditions threw at him and whatever mood he was in, he would go out and do the work on the day set aside. To begin with, Jason drove to and from the chosen location in one day. When he got to Cumbria, he would drive to the locations in the afternoon, shoot until late at night with his Canon system (5D MkII at first, upgrading to 5DS R during the project) then sleep on the beach, wake at dawn, and start shooting again. He estimates he shot over 6,500 images whittled down to 200 ‘keepers’ – “I’ve got other images, too, that will re-surface over time, for different uses”. The title of the project – ‘Outland’ – occurred to Jason while he was photographing at Formby, in Merseyside. “The land itself seemed to give me that name”, he says. “I’m a believer in working with my photography in a spiritual way. I have a very Shamanic approach to my photography; I commune with the land and nature and I’m always asking questions of it and seeking relationships with it. My over-arching need for the project was to see how far I could take that connection and to see how it would affect me”. Jason began sharing his images on Facebook, as he worked on the project and a friend, who owned a gallery in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, offered him an exhibition in November 2015. Jason showed mostly colour images and sold far more large prints that he expected. Since then
Top: gulls roosting on the old sewage outfall at sunset. Blackpool. Above: beach defences and eroding spoil heaps near Harrington, Cumbria. Below: a remote beach near Cardurnock on the Solway Coast, near the end of the trip.
he has held at further exhibitions at galleries in England. He has yet to put the images out to magazines and has lost his impetus for contributing to online picture libraries such as Alamy, due to difficulties with broadband
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connections and the falling returns on stock images in the current economic climate. The images from the Outland project seen here are being published for the first time, anywhere in the world. Jason has plans to
take the project on tour to towns and cities along the route of the project, and for a self-published book. He is also seeking additional magazine publication to help promote the exhibitions and the work generally. Jason Smalley has overcome personal issues on his journey becoming a full-time photographer, but he did not let them deter him. “I was always going to be a photographer” he says, “there was no Plan B. I had to get there, I had to do it. “If you want to become a photographer, you can’t have a safety net because you’ll just keep falling back into it and not put the work in. If you genuinely believe that there’s no alternative, you’ll get there. ”
RICHARD CRAIG: DOHA DESERTS
ichard Craig is a fashion and wedding photographer from Glasgow, who is making a name for himself not only from the stylish, high quality images he creates but also by photographing in locations that other photographers might consider challenging, to say the very least. Richard’s goal is to make his name as a high fashion photographer. This aspect of his work is currently being primarily funded by the wedding photography. He feels that being based in Scotland, his prospects of making a good living at it are currently limited. Richard undertakes test shoots for modelling agencies and photographs new models who need “something different in their portfolios”. This can include using unusual and striking locations including his favourite destination – Qatar. The models, stylists and makeup artists involved in the shoots pay their own way for the overseas trips. These often uncommissioned images are submitted to a range of fashion magazines, such as Vogue Italia and Vogue America and other fashion magazines who may choose to use them, as they offer something fresh and new. Richard feels that they can be a springboard to attracting commissioned work. Richard has acquired the backing of major players in the photography world such as Loxley Colour, using his images in photography shows and on social media. Calumet sponsored him to test the new Nikon D5 DSLR on his latest fashion shoot in Qatar – look out for his work in their future publicity. “The locations in Qatar are not something you can get in the UK”, says Richard. “It’s different; it’s interesting. The rock formations I have used as a backdrop to the models are up to twenty-five feet high. You might get something similar in Turkey, but nowhere else. Qatar is just a one-off. It’s miles and miles of desert; there’s more desert than there is city.”
Model Megan McFarlane photographed in the Qatar desert, makeup Samantha Jack, assistant Debbie Lithgow. For more on this story see Richard’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RichardCraigphotographeyModels
Richard has flown to Doha, Qatar, three times now. We featured his dramatic rock backgrounds in ƒ2 Freelance Photographer May/June 2015. “For the last trip, I didn’t want to use the rock formations and I went for pure, flat ground – miles of desert. The heat was a problem on a previous shoot in Qatar”, he says, “but on this last shoot it was the wind. You must take lots of bottles of water for the heat. For the wind you just have to grin and bear it and hope that it eventually settles down. If you don’t put the cameras on the ground, there’s
Richard at work during the latest photo shoot in Qatar. Richard’s father Alan, working remotely thousands of miles away, helped by processing the raw files sent from the shoot.
not really a problem with dust getting into the equipment”. Richard shoots with the camera tethered to his laptop, which allows him to view the images in more detail. For the latest trip, he was supported by Flaghead Photographic Ltd who supplied the means to hook up the Nikon D5 using TetherTools.com kit which they distribute. He is now an ambassador for TetherTools, joining their Pro Team line-up which includes major names like Scott Kelby and Joe McNally.
ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 49
JOSÉ RAMOS: TIME AND TIDE
osé Ramos is a 34 year old landscape photographer and doctor, specialising in psychiatry, based in Lisbon, Portugal. “Photography is my second job”, he says, “and this means that I really need to do the best I can to fit both activities into my schedule. It is often not easy, but somehow it frees me from the constraints of producing images just for the sake of survival, which usually contaminates the creative process.” José’s income from photography comes mostly from licensing images, print sales and photo-tours in Portugal. He has also recently been asked to undertake some real-estate photography, along with landscape images of the locality that the properties are in. He began his photographic journey around 2002, with the initial goal of preserving special
José’s favourite locations include the island of Madeira. Above, ‘A Storm in Paradise’. The coast road with agapanthus plants and rough sea was taken in pouring rain – “a question of rushing to the chosen spot and shooting”. 7 stop ND filter for a long exposure of 30 seconds, with the addition of a 4-stop ND Grad for the sky. A classic from the island is ‘Colossus’, below, which has been widely published. Taken at Ribeira da Janela, Madeira. where a water-course descends from the mountains and ends at these rocks. “This has created a unique pebble beach, which is adorned by two gigantic rock formations that persistently resist the strength of the waves”, says José. “I went to this place on my second day in Madeira, but light conditions were far from good. As I couldn't let this one pass, I returned there two days later, and it paid off. Sony A77, Sigma 10-20 at 10mm, 30s exposure at ƒ9.5, ISO100. Tripod, remote shutter, and manual focus. ND2.1 (7-stop) filter plus ND1.2 (4-stop) soft ND Grad.
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moments through snapshots. He had always been very passionate about the outdoors, and he combined this love with that of his new-found interest in photography and began to capture the beauty of nature with a camera. His love for the outdoors made landscape photography a natural choice as a photographic niche. José believes that since he began down that scenic route, landscape photography has taught him a lot about nature, himself and about the value of contemplation as a means for inner growth. He had no intention, at first, to share his images with others, nor did he consider them as ‘art’. “One day”, José explains, “a friend suggested that I post some images on the Deviant Art website, an online art community, and I was very surprised to see my images getting great feedback”. What was simply a hobby quickly turned
into, as he puts it, “a passion and addiction that just keeps on going”. José’s images of little-known areas of the Alentejo region of Portugal (where he was born) and of Madeira are especially striking, and have previously caused a stir in the photographic community – including being featured in this magazine. “I moved to Lisbon when I was 18 years old”, he says, “but photography made me rediscover the beauty of the Alentejo region, with its endless wheat fields, solitary trees and contrasting gorgeous seascapes.” The majority of his current portfolio is based on water or seascape images, honouring his Portuguese heritage which has a strong connection to the sea – “I’m quite passionate about the west coast of Portugal, facing the Atlantic ocean, well known for amazing sunsets”. Madeira is a new-found love. He first visited the island on a photo-trip three years ago. “It offers epic mountain landscapes Above: ‘Fluid Flow’, Praia da Ursa, Portugal, accessible only via a steep descent. It's called Praia da Ursa. The weather forecast said it would rain that day, but José felt like going. “The ocean was absolutely wild, with massive unpredictable waves. I got soaked to my waist, but the camera gear survived!” Sigma 10-20mm at 11mm, 1/2s at ƒ9, ISO 100, ND1.2 plus ND1.2 soft grad.
and wild seascapes with incredible photographic potential, and it is definitely a very under-rated destination for this market niche”, he enthuses. All of the areas José enjoys photographing have one aspect in common; they contain wild untamed landscapes with stunning beauty and an absence of crowds. Scouting for new locations usually involves roaming by car or on foot, with the help of Google Maps, which he feels has made life much easier for landscape photographers who want to find new places to shoot. José will spend many hours on one location shoot as it usually involves preparing gear, travelling, scouting and then shooting. “The actual shooting time lasts about two or three hours in a selected place. This ‘window’ is always around sunrise or sunset, which is essential to get the best light”. He often feels the need to return two or three times to the same area to get the best images. “I was very lucky in Madeira, where I've captured many worthy Below: ‘Mindful Mirrors’, Pego do Altar Dam, Alentejo. Take a moment, stop, breathe in, breathe out… slowly, contemplate nature, watch closely for its mirrors… let it mirror your self, and just be mindful. Exposed for 2.5s at ƒ14, ISO 50. ND1.2 plus ND0.9 soft grad. Taken with a tripod in the water, remote shutter release, while standing waist-deep in the water of the dam.
ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 51
images on the first visit – some of them award winners – but this was an exception”. He feels that perseverance is one of the most important traits of a landscape photographer as, in his own words, “finding the perfect blend of weather conditions and light is a rare occurrence”. In terms of technique, Jose is a huge fan of long exposure photography. “It is technically very demanding” he says “but being able to capture the dynamic flow of light during a 30 second exposure always feels like an alchemic process, where the random chaos of the elements is converted into a serene image filled with motion and light intensity.” He also admits to being “addicted to ultra wide angle lenses; as these are the only lenses which allow him to capture something similar to what his eyes can see, showing the full expanse of the scenery and emulating the sense of really being there”. José made the move to full frame sensors only one year ago. “The Portuguese economy has been struggling for years and so have Portuguese wages – even for doctors. This taught me to only upgrade after fully exploring the potential of my current camera. APS-C sensors can create amazing landscape images at base ISO, so I used Sony SLT APS-C cameras for a long time”. It was only after being in Iceland for the first time in 2014, and falling in love with the swirling Northern Lights, that José decided he needed a full frame camera to be able to capture long exposures at high ISO. Currently, he is using two Sony A7R bodies with Zeiss 16-35mm ƒ4 and Sony 10-18mm ƒ4 (it covers full frame at 15mm). He also uses a Tamron 28-75mm ƒ2.8 on Sony LA-EA4 adapter, plus vintage Minolta 135mm ƒ2.8 and 50mm ƒ1.8 manual lenses for portraits. His landscape tend to need considerable depth of field, requiring between ƒ8 and ƒ14. ISO is kept low to preserve as much dynamic range as possible and avoid noise. He usually shoots at between 15 and 180 seconds, unless he is photographing seascapes where he wants want to
Above: ‘The Spirits Return’, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland. I finally had the chance to shoot the Northern Lights with a full frame camera. I was stunned to see how much less noise there is at ISO 1600 compared to APS-C. Sony A7R, Zeiss 1635mm ƒ4, ISO 1600, 30 seconds wide open on a tripod with wired release. Below: ‘The Resistance’. We arrived at Dettifoss right before sunset, with rain pouring strongly and the sky totally covered in dense dark clouds. This shot was made on the area previously defined by my companion as the ‘forbidden’ zone for safe access, but I could not resist shooting from this spot, putting my tripod right on the ledge of the 45 metre fall. This was the only way I could compose vertical image to show the whole height of the waterfall, and still be able to capture the only surviving plants in that area. Exposure: 5s at ƒ9, ISO 200, ND0.9 soft grad.
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record the flow of waves; in which case exposures from half to two seconds are optimal. His images are available for licensing, and for sale as prints through the Zenfolio online platform, with partner labs all over the world reducing shipping costs. “I’m not good at all with the business side of things”, José admits, “so licensing and print sales are usually established through direct contact with me. I’ve thought about hiring someone to deal with the business side of things, but so far I haven’t devoted enough time to finding the right person”. He is an ambassador for Nisi filters and also became part of the Vanguard Professional line-up in 2016 (carbon fibre tripods, travel tripods and backpacks). He is also sponsored by Terrascape, a Portuguese company offering bags to protect filter systems. After a few years off teaching photography, constant requests have made him reconsider and offer customised photo-tours. These are mostly held in Portugal, with Portuguese or English-speaking clients and the programs are adapted to meet the specific goals of the individual or group.
See: www.joseramos.com (main website) www.facebook.com/ joseramosphotography http://www.instagram.com/ joseramosphotos
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ou must go to Iceland; I hear it’s a photographer’s paradise!”… I hear that about a lot of places, like Capetown. But I’ve learned that it’s really less about the beauty and more about the season, the people, and how much time you have to discover it. Iceland seems to be the hot place to go this year. All of the internet photography celebrities have gone there recently, including Scott Kelby. Dpreview. com went there to shoot some test images for the Olympus E-M1 II. No doubt some of the appeal lies in some of the smells-likeit’s-subsidized airline pricing: “$99 USD from Los Angeles to Reykjavik!” The truth is, the $99 fare is one-way. The return fare is $250. After nickle-and-diming you for every checked bag, for choosing a seat, taxes, services, and even for a bottle of water ($3 – more expensive per milliliter than jet fuel), the total airfare price came to about $600 per person. Anyway, it’s impolite to complain – my wife loves cold weather, waterfalls, and icebergs, and Iceland has plenty of all three. And I could certainly stand to add more content to my stock image website. To maximize the ten days we had there, we hired a guide whose specialty it was to cater to the eccentric needs of photographers. He knew all of the good places, and the best times of day to go there, saving us gobs of research time. We also had some extra days to explore on our own. “If you don’t like the weather now, wait five minutes.” This is an old saying whose truth we discovered on the first day. We went in wintertime to increase the chances of seeing the Northern Lights, but this also meant overcast skies and rain almost every day. And just when
Gary Friedman headed north at the end of the year to catch some spectacular landscapes – despite the adverse weather conditions. To follow Gary’s regular tutorials see: www.friedmanarchives.blogspot.co.uk
Unexpected and expected Iceland: winter water (ice?) sports; charming Icelandair cabin stewardess in photogenic colour; waterfall in bad light, rescued by Lightoom.
you think it’s the right time to drag your tripod out of the car and set up for a long exposure for waterfalls, the sky starts hailing. That’s kind of how the whole trip was. You either had good light or you didn’t, and most of the time we didn’t. And without good light, there’s really not much you can do – just like there’s no substitute for proper focusing, there’s no substitute for good light.
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I came equipped to take landscape shots, the kind that were so majestic that you could make wall-sized enlargements and marvel at the splendor, not only of the scene but also at the detail. So I brought the best equipment I had – Sony A7R II, 24-70 G-Master lens, and 70-200 f/4 G OSS lens. I didn’t bring anything wider than a 24mm; I have found on previous trips that they rarely get used.
Landscapes taken with wides can sometimes look less interesting than a narrower shot whose composition is carefully made. I brought my biggest, heaviest tripod knowing that it would be necessary with high winds, long lenses, and long exposures (and of course I turned the image stabilization feature off, because on a rock-steady tripod it can actually add shake to the image). Most shots were taken in Aperture Priority mode, using the lowest ISO of 100, and around ƒ8, the “sweet spot” of most lenses to get maximum sharpness before the degradation of diffraction sets in. Good Northern Light photography requires 1% preparation and 99% luck. It’s best seen at night away from city lights, and no matter what kind of sensor or film you use, it’s almost impossible to capture the way it looks to your eye. Sometimes the color is off – it looks greener on the image than it does in real life. Sometimes it’s not visible at all unless you take a long exposure of it and look at your camera. The latter describes my only shot. It was a 30 second exposure, with the icebergs in the lagoon. The icebergs would have been completely black had it not been for the headlights from a tourist’s car leaving at an inopportune time. Again, luck. What other tricks are there to dealing with poor light? Well, on occasion I’d resort to the old convert-it-to-black-and-white trick. Sometimes B&W can save bad light when the nature of your composition has something to do with form or texture. However if your goal is to show off natural beauty the light must be there. Most of the time, when the light was bad I’d compose shots without a visible sky and gently use Lightroom’s Vibrance tool to
Vibrance and a red woolly hat help out.
enhance the color slightly. (Like everything else in post-processing, a collection of small things can have an impact without it looking too unnatural.)
Cameras and the cold I grew up in California and so have little experience shooting in very cold weather. Most of you know of the problems with humidity and condensation, both on the front element of the lens as well as on the sensor. For the lens you either wait for the glass to acclimate to the ambient temperature or you have to wipe off the front element before every shot. Same thing for the sensor, although if you’re serious about getting a great shot you wouldn’t dare change lenses on a mirrorless camera during foul weather. Although nobody at Sony ever claimed that their camera bodies were weather sealed, all of my camera bodies have been exposed to plenty of rain and humidity over the years and have never had a failure out in the field. (Not true of my old Minolta Maxxum 9000, which would kick into AF at the first sign of rain.) Sometimes the hardiness of these camera bodies impresses me. Iceland was formed much like the islands of Hawaii – as lava from active volcanos. This explains their black sand beaches, but it differs from Hawaii in that the lava rock on Iceland is covered in a beautiful green moss, which provides a very mysterious kind of land formation. Probably one of the most impressive things about the island is that today it is entirely
Top, the car headlights caught the foreground for this rare Northern Lights shot, during a trip which did not produce the expected aurora conditions. Above, a familiar headland and rock pinnacles photographed from an unfamiliar viewpoint in interesting weather. Below: the white houses and churches echo the landscape.
geothermally powered. All of the steam and heat coming out of natural volcanic vents are used to heat the homes and generate electricity. In fact there’s so much free energy left over that they built an aluminum smelting plant, providing many jobs as well. More plants were planned but the environmental movement is starting to provide a stiff resistance. Factoids from a Tourist’s Point of View: * Their National Parks system is underfunded – some of the most beautiful areas are on private property and can be very difficult or dangerous to reach. Two that
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come to mind are the path that goes behind the water falls and the (non-existent) path leading up to the Brúarfoss Falls. * English is spoken everywhere. The national food seems to be hamburgers. * There are hundreds of identical cookie-cutter churches spotting the landscape, as a result of a property tax incentive from the government. * Polar bears often hitch-hike from Greenland to Iceland via an iceberg, where they are promptly shot because even Greenpeace wasn’t able to figure out a proper and humane way to handle the influx. * Fish heads, skin, and bones are dried out in the open and are sent to Nigeria, where they are sold in markets. The dried fish products are primarily used in soups for the same purpose as others might use stock cubes.
each has their own character, and their own time of year. Hawaii has rainbows and humidity; Latvia has old-world charm, Alaska has its own mountainous majesty and wildlife, France and New Zealand seem to be flawless, and Namibia has diamonds and lots of suppression of the native culture. Every subject is different. One day I’ll even make it to Cape Town. But if you’re looking for a region of possibilities with the virtual guarantee that your photos will not be like anyone else’s, due to the changing weather… now might be the right time to hop on the tourism wave that’s been propping up Iceland’s economy for the past three or four years.
Popular locations Other than the main Europeanlooking city of Reykjavik, if you’re interested in visiting some of the best places to photograph on your own, here’s a short list: * The Snæfellsnes peninsula – waterfalls, waterfalls, and more waterfalls. * The Golden Circle – A natural geyser tops off a nice day trip consisting of more waterfalls, small horses and sheep, and a beautiful tomato-growing greenhouse open to the public. * The Glacier Lagoon was probably the highlight of the trip. Lagoons made from the receding glacier ice is beautiful and it leaves chunks of pure ice on the black sand beaches. Great at sunrise! * The Brúarfoss waterfalls – these were the falls that can only be reached by foot via a muddy trail. Well worth it, though.
Above, dried fish destined for Nigeria. Right, it really is worth having a good photo tour guide. Facing page, top: the icy colour of the Brúarfoss waterfall, hard to reach but worth it. Bottom, the black beach and sunrise-lit ice of the Glacier Lagoon. Below: taken from behind a waterfall.
There are some spectacular natural ice caves which I was hoping to photograph when there, but alas, when there is too much rain they are closed due to safety issues. No matter; my wife wants to go back next year on the way to doing a seminar in London in 2017. Let’s see if my luck holds out. If you’re looking for a great photo tour operator, I can personally recommend Iceland Enroute at www.enroute.is – not a paid endorsement!
Is Iceland the best? I’ve done my share of travelling, and everyone asks me if suchand-such a place really does live up to its hype. After giving my standard truthful answer “The best place to shoot is wherever you are!”, I usually decline to rank and compare locations to shoot, as ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 57
FOTOFEVER IN PARIS Richard Kilpatrick visited Paris FotoFever – a festival-style event to promote and encourage photography rather than sell equipment like the simultaneously held Paris Photo show.
n a world where the value of the image has been continually eroded by large organisations with rights-grab mentality and photographers who are driven by the vanity of Facebook likes and Instagram followers, the printed art, the physical body of work, is still the goal to which many artists aspire when creating their images. After twenty years, Paris Photo has become the leading venue for galleries, photographers and artists alike. 2016’s additional exhibitions included the Leica Oskar Barnack and Newcomer awards, both given to two French photographers and the cutting edge Huawei #OO gallery, where the aspirations of the third-largest smartphone manufacturer have been put firmly in place. Alongside Paris Photo, FotoFever’s fifth event benefits from the influx of photographic artists to the city, but presents a very different feel. We took the time to visit both, in a cold and wet November Paris that perhaps reveals more about Europe’s changes than anything we’ve seen in Britain post-Brexit. There’s a sense of fear in the city, security checkpoints at most shops, and a lot of the character seems fenced away. It’s five years since we last attended Paris Photo, and it’s remarkable how different things are now. Level 4 security restricts the size of bag that can be taken in to locations, and stop & search is common. Eurostar proves, however, an extremely pleasant way to get there even with enhanced security. None of this seems to dissuade the astonishing number of visitors at The Grand Palais; bear in mind this is not a trade show with gadgets and bargains, it is an art fair, with books the primary physical object to acquire. Nevertheless, the 60,000 plus visitor numbers are not in question, queues around the Grand Palais for every day, packed exhibitions between the 180
Pure black and white, pink books, rephotographed artwork, prints for sale and conceptual camera-art – all in Paris, November.
miniature galleries and stalls, and a remarkable number of people armed with the inevitable and inexplicable white lenses. You’ll struggle to find another photo event with as many Leica M-class and film bodies slung across shoulders, though. How many of the 60,000 are there as serious art buyers, keen to invest the four and five figure sums most prints command? It seems that for 2016 – more so than 2011 – the way to enjoy Paris Photo is through the 5” screen of your smartphone and camera, snapping each frame and moving like a hummingbird onto the next image. Some respite from the crush was to be found in the library-like environment of the Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards, where the shortlisted titles and winners – Michael Christopher Brown’s “Libyan Sugar” (Twin
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Palms) taking the First PhotoBook Award and Gregory Halpern gaining PhotoBook of the Year for “ZZYZX” (MACK, London) could be browsed in peace. In the adjoining space, Leica’s Oskar Barnack exhibition showcased the work of Scarlett Coten-Mectoub, started in 2012, focused on the identity of an emancipated generation of men in North Africa and Middle East. Clémentine Schneidermann’s work, winning the Newcomer award, documented the life of children in socials housing in a mining area in Wales, in September 2015. Opposite, Huawei’s gallery mirrored Leica in having a small glass case housing the firm’s products – rather than the luxury and expense of the justannounced TL, SL and M, the #OO gallery housed the “free on most contracts” P9 smartphone – the title, a hashtag, a symbol that
evokes the dual-lens camera. Showcasing work from Hassan Hajjaj and Stéphane Lavoué, the latter’s Monochrome work naturally ties into the camera’s unique second, pure monochrome sensor. This is, perhaps, the real underlying element of Paris Photo – it is a spectacle, yes, but it is also commercial and has self-sustaining visitor numbers. It is establishment. The work will inspire you regardless – it’s worth taking in, but you may as well visit your local galleries too. FotoFever, the independent upstart, is a very different animal. Housed in the Carrousel du Louvre, you’re in a shopping centre underground, beside one of the most famous artistic collections in the world. Visitor numbers are a quarter of Paris Photo – it would be hard to imagine the location handling the sheer mass of bodies if it weren’t the case – and
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Leica’s Oskar Barnack exhibition, above; Huawei’s gallery, below.
although there is a real flow to the curation and exhibition, it feels like the art, not the event, is forefront. Prices are displayed clearly, yet the atmosphere is not stuffy; mixed media and photography exist with a natural flow, there’s room to stand back and take in the breadth of haunting, amusing and powerful work. This year, the theme was introducing a new generation to art and art collection, with a children’s area for interactive creativity. 68 exhibitors displayed the work of over 1000 artists from around the world, and sales were visible and happening, customers walking away with large print boxes. The very nature of art, however, remains as impossible to pin down as ever – there’s almost no rhyme or reason to what will sell, but if there is anything to take away from the activity at both events, it is that somewhere, your photography, your vision does have a value. After all, Paris Photo featured – seemingly without tongue wedged in cheek – a set of images that were literally screengrabs from Google street view. If that’s what it takes to get exposure, perhaps for all of us it’s time to stop thinking about how and how well we capture
our images, and instead, what it is we want to say and how to say it clearly. For photographers not already immersed in the galleries and photobooks of the art world, there is still a highly important element to Paris Photo (though FotoFever proved more effective for me personally). The inspiration, the ideas, the background thought process that questions why an image is here – why it has a value, why it appeals or repels – gets to take place in a city where even under security lockdown and heavy grey November skies there are countless subjects, angles and views to capture. Go to be reassured that photography still has a value as a physical object, a legacy and a relevance as pieces from 20, 30 years ago remain actively traded, treasured. Stay to play, to exercise your eye and your camera alike. And it doesn’t matter what camera you take. The #OO gallery organisers would no doubt be delighted that my favourite abstract capture from the trip was taken on the P9. A limited number of prints will be available for a reasonable fee, call my agent for details…
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t’s almost a decade since Polaroid ceased to be a real entity in the world of instant photography. The vacuum left has been filled by Fujifilm, and over the past four years, their Instax has slowly, but steadily, increased market presence and niche, taking over from the once ubiquitous integral film. Although the Impossible Project resurrected media for the SX70, Spectra and 600 series and New55 continue to work towards recreating the packfilm so beloved of professional studios in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Fujifilm themselves are leaving the Polaroid legacy behind. The last pack-film offering of FP100 has now ceased production. They are moving their own integral film forward with obvious success. That success is not, surprisingly, shown by the mature and affordable range of Instax cameras, but by the growth of third-party systems and Fujifilm’s own Instax Share printers. Lomography have supported Instax media in various forms as backs for the Diana and LC series, and the rather clunky manually operated Belair; now they offer three Instant models that add to Fujifilm’s range – adding Lomoesque silliness and creativity to the snapshot capability of the Mini series. The Lomography Instant has a Kickstarter funded sophisticated sibling in the form of the Instant Automat, and a wide-format (using the same film as the Instax 210/300) Instant Wide. Where the majority of Instax cameras use the 46 x 62mm image size “Mini” film, Wide models produce a 62 x 99mm image. Such has been the success of Instax recently, Fujifilm have introduced two new films. photokina’s announcement of a square format will have Instagram users chuckling, but it’s exceedingly logical – the constraints and presentation of a square format urge the photographer to think about framing, yet remove the constraint of rotating the camera (although the actual frame size includes, as required, the larger border on one edge to house the chemicals). An Instax Share Square printer to directly print Instagram images
must surely be on the cards, with 62 x 62mm frames to bring those moments out of cyberspace. Having backed the Instant Automat, and thus spent my budget for fun cameras, the Leica Sofort was therefore something of a surprise from photokina and one that has me kicking myself in frustration, though for no good reason – the Lomography cameras are very good. The significance of the Sofort is not in terms of a new era of quality, because for all the low-cost, budget silliness of Instax the combination of 800 ISO film and modern materials mean the plastic-lens, near 645 film area and decent auto exposure give good results regardless. Alongside the Sofort was the announcement of Fujifilm’s other new Instax film – monochrome – also available branded by Leica. What Leica bring to the table is legitimacy with a serious audience, a feeling of the “Veblen good” - a luxury item that people other than camera geeks will recognise, and the sort of photographic gravitas that means Fujifilm’s Instax media should be here for a long time to come. Leica are branding and selling the media themselves (with no real additional premium, though Instax Mini film can be sourced easily from European sellers for less), and are probably one of the driving forces behind Fujifilm’s announcement of the new Monochrome media. The Sofort camera itself is possibly one of the most affordable (in relative terms) cameras ever to carry the red dot logo, and that’s remembering the 35mm compacts that littered the ‘80s partnership with Minolta. At £230 in the UK, the Sofort is competitively priced against the higher-end Lomography products and naturally a premium over the technically similar Fujifilm Neo 90. Leica have designed an almost brutalist body for the Sofort, unashamedly square, with the self-portrait mirror hidden behind a flat panel reminiscent of a rangefinder. Playing to the 1960s futuristic feel, the Leica is available in three colours – white, mint green and orange (by far my favourite), Bakelite-esque in appearance the solidity is backed
Fujifilm Instax, Lomography and Leica
Above, the LomoInstant Wide, in metal and tan harking back to the SX70 and earlier Polaroids; below, the print which emerges from the Instax Wide format.
Fujifilm tend to make their Instax cameras into party-dressed confections (Mini 70, right) while Leica has opted to give its identical format Sofort a functional tech design. But (note the lens) they have much in common.
Split personality A neat attachment for the regular LomoInstant using Instax materials is the Splitzer. It’s just a double exposure mask which you turn round to join two halves of a shot, perhaps getting a friend twice into one image (below).
up by classic Leica engineering thought – within reason – such as the solid strap lugs. Leica are naturally marketing a range of accessories and presentation items to display the Mini prints, again realistically priced for the premium brand. Remembering that instant photography is very much about lifestyle, image and fun, the Sofort’s combination of highend branding, bright colour and robust build is very compelling. You won’t worry taking this camera anywhere – and of course the appeal of handing over a print is constant. You will lose your images, but make friends, start conversations, and place the physical image, that single moment, at the heart of your photography rather than one of a thousand on a smartphone somewhere. All of this applies with Fujifilm and Lomography too, but Leica have polished the edges, added an additional talking
point. If photographers wear their cameras like jewellery - and they do, a lekking device to ensnare the gaze of like-minded people this will grab the attention of so, so many people and then proves interactive, fun. For those of you with a commercial mindset, carrying a distinctive, Leica branded camera and being able to snap a portrait and hand it over immediately is almost priceless in terms of the impact it will make – if you have the personality to engage with your subjects there and then. Chances are, if you’d choose an orange Sofort, yellow Instax or red & white Lomo, you’re halfway there already. – Richard Kilpatrick
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SMALL SENSORS, BIG IDEAS
lthough often credited as innovators, Apple have generally been the firm that refines innovative technologies to reach a wider market, making them usable and popular through a combination of styling, status and exhaustive testing for consistent user interface behaviours. The iPhone, now in the 10th generation since launch, came a decade after the advent of true smartphones yet is widely credited as having defined the genre – it is the most ubiquitous camera and communications device in the Western World, dominates the feeds of Instagram and Facebook, and yet it is far from the best smartphone camera. The iPhone 7 Plus seeks to address that slightly, by once again taking an innovation seen elsewhere and packaging it for the masses. The moneyed masses, as the 7 Plus starts at £719 with a mere 32GB storage, rising to £919 for the highly usable 256GB model. Contract deals do vary, and O2 currently offer one of the most compelling packages for 256GB models with just £49 up front and £70 pcm contract that allows an early upgrade after 12 months and the extremely useful feature of free EU roaming for all bundled features including data. At least, for now – competitive EU deals were forced upon UK operators, and post-Brexit it’s easy to imagine those advantages will evaporate. We’re interested in the 7 Plus due to Apple’s adoption of dual cameras – something that has been seen on models from LG and Huawei in the past. Unlike the Leica co-branded Huawei P9, Apple have chosen to use two identical colour sensors on the 7 Plus, but with different focal lengths equivalent to 23mm and 58mm. The former is the standard view iPhone shooters will be familiar with, and as on the 6S Plus, is optically stabilised. The latter is selected as a 2x zoom option and is intended to provide a better outdoor portrait or “telephoto” view, but lacks stabilisation. One could argue that lens accessories
Apple iPhone 7 Plus – from £719
iPhone 7 Plus, without headphone jack and with Mujio case, below
The dual wide and tele lenses are next to each other in the usual position.
Many photographers now carry an iPhone all the time. Above, the native depth of field of an iPhone Seven (not Plus) creates enough differential focus for Ailsa BurnMurdoch’s unusual winter view of the Forth rail bridge from South Queensferry – immediately messaged to BBC Scotland for their weather reports.
provide a similar benefit, but without any way of the camera module knowing the focal length attached, the stabilisation of the wide lens wouldn’t be accurate anyway. The reality, however, is that with a camera module costing under $3 including lenses, it’s cheaper for Apple to package two into the iPhone than mess around with lenses. These sensors are produced in such numbers that they’re extraordinarily cheap. The 12Mp modules are technically very similar to the iPhone 6S, but with better processing and a new quad LED flash.
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Released in beta this month, the “Portrait” mode shows that Apple’s take on dual camera capability is aimed at visual effects rather than quality, where the Huawei P9 shows the real-world benefits of the combination of monochrome and colour sensors. Simulated depth of field has been done several times now, and Apple’s implementation is “pretty good”. Nokia’s 1020, with 41Mp sensor and stacked focus bracketing, managed a less artificial result, and once again the P9 – creating effects portrayed as “ƒ0.95” to ƒ16 – uses the paired sensors and lenses to good effect.
Apple are clearly looking for sharp edges to calculate where to blend the out of focus and in-focus images, and it can get caught out by low contrast subject transitions. Images can be refocused postcapture, though not with the subtlety Nokia’s 5-layer process offered. Nevertheless, the camera’s results, speed in all modes aside from Portrait, well-implemented HDR and overall ease of use mean that the iPhone remains in the top three choices. Inevitably that becomes the top choice when you consider resale value, application availability and overall user experience. People placing the camera first and foremost though would be well advised to go to the Huawei P9 or Sony Xperia XZ, with 23Mp camera and HD display. Much of the iPhone 7 is improved over the 6S, in typically subtle ways. Although the external appearance is similar on both 7 and Plus models, the body has better sealing, allowing it to be waterproof including when slightly submerged. Apple have engineered this by removing vulnerable components; the home button is now a depression on the glass front screen, and (infamously) the headphone port has gone. The provided earbuds connect to the Lightning port, and an adaptor for conventional 3.5mm models is also provided, though Apple have taken away the neat plastic case to store the headset. A static home button does not feel any different to use, as the Taptic engine provides the feel of clicking very convincingly. When signing up to these contracts, it’s easy to forget that what you’re carrying in your pocket is essentially a thousand pound lump of technology; to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 7, case designer Mujio released new leather wallettype cases, and this is what I’ve chosen for my own handset. For photographers, the matte black leather minimises reflections, and it’s also a tactile and pleasing finish, there’s a slot for cards in the back, and the intrusion on the
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Does it work? No zoom, but two views equal 28mm and 56mm, above. Top, when there is a distinct margin between foreground and distance the depth of field simulation can do a convincing job (top row) but when the foreground subject is more complex and the distances greater, the software falls down. Note the odd spreading effect of the blur into the tail light, which should have a sharp edge.
camera seems negligible (some cases cause flash reflections). Having dropped my previous 6S Plus and clipped the screen on a table edge, causing a crack that cost £160 to repair, I won’t chance it again with something as expensive as the 7 Plus. Small sensors may be leading to some nice dual-lens solutions in smartphones, but one enterprising inventor has taken the low cost of these modules to a dramatic conclusion. The Light L16 - http:// www.light.co/ - uses 16 modules with 28mm, 70mm and 150mm equivalent optics to create 52Mp images with stitching, HDR, focus
bracketing and depth of field control all computed from the results gathered using up to 10 modules simultaneously. This thin camera costs $1699 and could transform some sectors of the photographic industry if only for the ability to combine these results with something smartphone sized. In the meantime, for many people the iPhone 7 Plus will reintroduce the idea of depth of field, and perhaps, spark a new interest in larger sensors and creative control – Richard Kilpatrick
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email@example.com ƒ2 Cameracraft January/February 2017 63
LIGHTS, CAMERA… LOCATION! Concluding our theme for this issue, we look at the options for taking flash and continuous light on your worldwide travels. Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries have transformed the potential for portable lighting, putting out useful power for a whole shoot, but IATA regulations on carrying them are tightening up all the time.
s rugby fans will know, when someone picks up the ball and runs with it, they can create a whole new ball game. And that’s pretty much what has happened in the last couple of years after pioneers of portable lighting like Quantum, Elinchrom, IceLight, Rotolite and Litepanel laid the foundations. Now almost every lighting manufacturer offers you something to create impressive flash or LED effects independent of mains power. It is indeed a whole new ball game and if you are not using any of this new gear, you are missing out. At the simplest level, you want to take a quick portrait, product, food or pet shot at home. With a self-contained studio flash head from Godox, Phottix, iLux Summit, Pixapro, Bowens or higher end pro brands like Profoto and Broncolor you can pick up a light already fitted with a softbox on a stand, carry it to any position you wish with no trailing cables and no need for a power point, then shoot with wireless triggering. This has been possible with ordinary battery speedlight guns for many years, but the latest mono heads have ten times the power and can shoot hundreds or thousands of exposures on a charge. Elinchrom’s alternative with its separate mini battery pack, the Quadra ELB (or earlier RX AS) can be better if you want two flash heads, with much lighter units to carry round. The batteries now hold their power for months, so if you take occasional shots you may only need to recharge once in a while. Recently, we bought a Chinese replacement Li-Ion battery for the publisher’s vintage 1970s Mecablitz 60-CT 4 flashgun – its own Ni-Cad battery had faded to uselessness long ago. This battery instantly revived the flash to recycle fast, provide many more shots, and sit in a cupboard
The Godox Witstro AD600B is a TTL LiIon powered 600Ws head compatible with Nikon, Canon and Sony, rapidly gaining a reputation.
you must first get approval from your airline. Also, you can carry a maximum of two spares in your carry-on bags. These are pretty big batteries. Elinchrom fix IATA approval labels to the packs for the Quadra/ ELB systems, meaning you can easily show that the batteries are approval for air travel. This does not apply to many of the new generation Chinese Li-Ion sources.
Flash options Below: the Godox Leadpower LP800X can run three mains flash units and when the battery is coupled to its power inverter unit, it’s suitable for air travel as cabin baggage. The 800X version is needed to handle the load from flash recycling.
waiting for occasional use without risking ‘dead on arrrival’ at the job. This is what the Li-Ion packs and batteries in all the new speedlights (check the model which is usually one step up from the traditional four-AA-cell version) and studio heads offer. They charge fast, they hold their charge, they offer more power and if you short one out by mistake you will burn your house down. Just be careful and remember that the expensive makes often have the best safety features! That can not be said of the Chinese Li-Ion for the Mecablitz. Remember, too, that you can not travel with these in hold baggage despite their suitability for globe-trotting assignments.
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Below: the label on this Ranger Quadra lead gel battery certifies it for IATA air travel clearance.
Even regular camera Li-Ion cells are subject to strict flight regulations. You can include up to two larger lithium ion batteries that contain between up to 25g of ‘equivalent lithium content’ each in your carry-on luggage. Spare rechargeable batteries of any size are not allowed in checked bags. Rechargeable batteries installed in equipment may be in checked baggage (so you can check in your Broncolor or Elinchrom cased flash kit, or your iLux Summit heads which are sold with excellent alloy flight cases – but one per head can add up to high add-on costs). Since flash batteries can be high capacity, note this: you can carry 161Wh to 1kWh only if installed in equipment and
Without covering all the many flash systems offered in the world (sometimes mostly in their country of manufacture) here are the main UK/International choices. Elinchrom pioneered battery location flash with their large studio generator pack Ranger system – it often gets overlooked now that much smaller kits are popular. However, the Ranger RX variants use a reliable lead-acid gel battery and can run their 50W modelling lamp for short periods as well as providing two head outputs and a massive 1100Ws of flash power. As a popular hire item, you can find them in The Flash Centre used and demo/ refurb sales at very attractive prices. The current portable kit is the Ranger Quadra ELB, successor to the Quadra AS/RX/Hybrid models. All use very neat small detachable battery packs, early lead-acid gel or newer Li-Ion, have two outlets for super-light (275g) heads which have LED modelling. This is bright enough in the ELB for short video clips. The ELB HS version has special heads which allow Hi-Sync with the EL-Skyport Plus HS trigger, and shutter speeds up to 1/8000s. However, for travel you must remember this demands full power setting, and the minimum number of flashes – it can be better to use ND filters on the camera to allow a normal
(1/200s or 1/250s) focal plane sync speed and a wider aperture for synchro-sun effects in full daylight. The flash will then rarely need to be on more than quarter power, and better able to handle today’s generous frame counts for typical shoots. The portable options for the Profoto system, which uses a reflector attachment system now rivalling Bowens S as an international standard, include the Pro-B4 and Pro-B3 portable generator pack with option to attach one or two heads, and the monobloc B1 and B2 offering selfcontained operation with wireless TTL (on most popular camera systems). Profoto has always just used the letter B to indicate battery power, so if you find a Pro Acute B, that’s a discontinued 600Ws battery mini-generator pack. Profoto also make the BatPac, which houses a 17Ah accumulator able to provide 12V feed to units like the D-series mono heads or Acute pack systems. This compares with typical Li-Ion battery packs in mono heads at 7.2Ah or the original lead-acid cells for Elinchrom Quadra at 3.6Ah, and can power 600 500Ws pops. Profoto does not label its products for air travel but provides full paperwork support, and the system is probably one of the most widely travelled on the market. Any product designated as Air has wireless triggering and control, Air TTL adds dedicated auto exposure. The new B1/B2 and B3/B4 systems provide LED modelling. Bowens has completely transformed its offering with the new Generation X. The XMT500 head is a powerful integral battery monobloc with full wireless and TTL dedication including HSS to 1/8000s for Canon, Nikon and Sony. Weighing only 3.5kg, it offers the usual 500 full power 500Ws flashes from a charged battery and has LED modelling like most new designs. The T stands for Travel which has always been Bowens’ designation for battery sources. Their TravelPak is a control unit which accepts either a large or small battery module, and dedicated cables to power Gemini
heads. It’s fair to say that its days are probably numbered now that new Li-Ion integrated power has arrived – for example, the small battery pack can only provide 150 flashes at 500Ws with a single Gemini head attached, under a third of the stamina of the XMT500 head. It also weighs 5kg to which you must add a substantial flash head. If you want double the capacity, the large battery pack increases the weight to 6.4kg. The heads use conventional modelling which can not be used with battery power. Bowens equipment has the usual CE marks but you may need documentation for air travel; the TravelPak uses a sealed lead-acid battery, the Li-Ion of the XMT500 is subject to tighter restrictions. Broncolor’s Move generator pack, 1200L, comes in at 6.2kg ready to run up to three lightweight MobiLED heads. You pay for the convenience at around £4k before adding those heads. As usual, Broncolor does offer state of tech performance including wireless triggering, electronic control of flash duration and colour temperature, and LED modelling. The new Siros L 400 and 800 monobloc Li-Ion battery powered heads are due to reach the market shortly, after being announced at photokina 2016. Where the mains powered Siros 400 is a little under £1300 the L version is nearly £2k including VAT. Broncolor documentation is comprehensive with on-line PDF instructions for travel – visit their site and search for keyword ‘Conformity’ to get the IATA certificates for any battery powered products. As for Godox, iLux, Pixapro and the countless other brands rapidly taking over the market at the entry level (and higher, thanks to their advanced wireless TTL and affordable Li-Ion power) you’ll find that searches for IATA or other conformity declarations or certificates produce very little. The Flash Centre doesn’t market the Godox AD600B, the 600Ws TTL wireless monobloc compatible with Nikon, Canon and Sony via the X1T transmitter but they do stock the Godox LP800X which is a hugely powerful 120Wh Li-Po
inverter pack. Along with the lower cost LP450X (without flash mode, so not of great interest to photographers) it offers mains AC power IEC plug outlets which are even capable of powering conventional tungsten – a 100W modelling lamp can run for 80 minutes. These packs are within the airline-friendly 160Wh limit (as hand baggage when connected to the inverter unit) and the Li-Po makes them very light. However, Li-Po is the most dangerous type of rechargeable lithium battery and prices are rising as bulk air shipping or carriage of spare batteries is now restricted. At under £700 the LP800X can power, for example, a kit of three Elinchrom D-Lite 4 RX heads and create a very affordable location system indeed. For camera speedlights, or for their own bare-bulb hybrid strobes, the smaller battery shoulder packs from Godox and also from the originator of this genre Quantum are now all Li-Ion and therefore much lighter than earlier lead-acid gel types. However, our old Quantum Turbo has seen our a quarter of a century of occasional use and regular charging and still does well, unlike the Ni-Cad of the Mecablitz. Quantum gear is built to last! One thing you are not allowed to fly with is the straightforward Lithium cell – the lithium metal battery. These are a fire and explosion hazard. Any AA cells used for flashguns should be kept in isolating containers to prevent shorting out, which is the usual reason for fire. Ansmann, Hama and many others make these plastic AA boxes.
LED options One of the most portable location lights is the Westcott Ice Light 2 – the very bright light-sabre style tool we’ve tested in the past. This is the light which got your editor ‘arrested’ by the officers of QM2 because it was distracting the bridge. It uses a replaceable Li-Ion cell and should be in cabin baggage never in the hold. The same goes Bowens’ imported IC12 Cube lights which use Li-Po cells – we have persevered for a year to find these workable as the cells seem very temperamental. We also have had several cheap third party Li-Ion camera batteries expand in size (a sign of dangerous deterioration) and one Godox flash Li-Ion pack do the same. The British-made Rotolight NEO compact and lightweight circular LED source can run from a mains adaptor or 6X AA cells so you can power up almost anywhere in the world. This also applies to the Litepanels and Manfrotto conventional rectangular LED lights, and the countless variants made by brands like Neewer. Some of these also have compatibility with popular DSLR/mirrorless Li-Ion camera batteries, often providing a longer full output life from a charge than a set of alkaline cells. Movie makers will already know flight regulation problems with lbattery belts and power packs for micro tungsten (such as Dedolight) or pro LED panels. At this level if you are shooting abroad your best option may be to hire your lighting and camera power at the location. – DK
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ecent elections and other disturbances in the current of affairs have given us a new expression. We’ve had it with post-war and may still be struggling with post-modern, but now we must face the future of post-truth. This future is disturbingly like the late Leonard Cohen’s lyrical vision – a poet and prophet who welcomed photographers, and specifically asked venues not to kick out people with big white lenses. Perhaps that’s because he was comfortable with his own image and didn’t mind unmanaged access. That is not how the world in general works. Post-truth means that if people can be persuaded to forget some things, or believe others, then history can be rewritten. It’s always been done; the Reformation wiped out a whole living religious culture in Britain, the Islamic State has tried to erase the distant past because it didn’t fit with their truth. This is one reason why I urged a return to purer photography in the last magazine. When the truth is under attack we need to preserve as much unsullied evidence as we can. On one level, we have censorship. The last issue of Cameracraft was hit badly by my decision – supported by everyone involved – to run David Calvert’s striking figure studies (Black on White). It did not occur to us that this would be considered ‘adult material’ needing a warning to readers and to be hidden from sight by one digital platform we use, ISSUU. The effect was to reduce a normal 5,000 or more readers in the first days of release to a handful, and after a month, still not even 100 people had seen the magazine in this form. Newsagents had no problem stocking it, Apple and other platforms didn’t ban it, but because ISSUU does permit some material which could be called ‘adult content’ their warning flag caught innocuous artistic nudity. In a post-truth world, of digital media, this could be changed. On the contents page of the magazine I typed David MacDonald instead of David Calvert, twice, mis-attributing the work. I’d had
Welcome to post-truth photography
How you choose to preserve your images is your own decision, but you should make sure you keep them where their content and metadata are beyond the reach of revision…
North Anston, 1972. Ten years later this spot was an industrial estate where Hi-Tec Printers started business and we printed our magazines for over 30 years.
some serious crashes with the latest version of the Mac operation system and Adobe’s InDesign program and had to recover a copy of the contents page layout from an earlier issue where we did feature David MacDonald, and the inevitable happened during the very last hour of production (which is, of course, when that page is edited). However, digital readers will not see the mistake as it was corrected. Too late for the press, leaving the printed copies with the error. That’s how post-truth information works too. Entire documents, websites, archives and exchanges of information can be amended just as easily. Even photographs can be swapped, as Google (and others) can find all the copies of any image on-line. If it can be found, it can be replaced by new data under the same file name. When that happens, you’ll never know what the original was. This does happen, though more often the photograph is simply removed leaving a broken link or a box with ? displayed.
66 January/February 2017 ƒ2 Cameracraft
Now that NASA is to be ordered to play down its Earth-facing cameras which have revealed the weather, ice cover, vegetation and many less obvious aspects of our planet it can only be a matter of time before access to their archive of images is restricted. Then, it will become harder to demonstrate environmental change by comparing today’s views with those of tomorrow. Perhaps we have enjoyed a golden age of freedom, and access to facts without the filter of censorship by the state. We will not know until it’s too late, but the trend towards Government agency access to content stored on internet may mean there ain’t nothing, there ain’t nothing you can trust any more… This places a great responsibility on photographers, especially those who document daily life. By this I do not mean documentary photographers – I guess I mean pictures of the world which do not include your own face, distorted by a wide angle and close view, as a selfie-ish foreground. We used
to complain that too many people took great views of everything, spoiled by a family member posed in front of it. Now, we spoil it with ourselves, and often occupy most of the scene! Seriously, you need to preserve your own archives off-line. Don’t rely on their immortality in the crypts of Facebook or Instagram, or even in the so-called ‘cloud’ storage you have paid for. If you have paid for it, one day that will end and with it all your photographs. I am vain enough to think that my Alamy archive with over 25,000 fully captioned views of 21st century life may survive. Then I find the wooden slide box containing 80 photographs of Israel sent to me by a reader’s widow, to keep or make available as I think best. They are less than mundane. At the time they were state-of-the-art Kodachromes. Will all my travel views and (saleable) snaps of interesting trivia be seen that way too? Might Alamy decide, at some point, to erase the lot? Maybe I need to scan those slides. Maybe some of those scenes have been obliterated completely. But they have no titles and no dates. In a world where my highest fee for the month is a shot of a dead fledgling crow nothing is really worth keeping. There will be dead crows tomorrow. My views of development, change in towns and country, are surely more valuable. It’s one reason I have an obsession with GPS data embedding. News photographers should share that obsession but I’m sure not many do have the GPS data as well as the date/time embedded in their files. Even that, I know, can be faked and changed. I regularly use a program which can over-write the creation date of raw files. I just correct the time for GPS – but I could change the entire date. ‘Back in the day’ we used to print negatives with their rebate border to prove the image was uncropped. Pictures were titled with the place and date. It’s time to remember why – and hope our current images are never modified to be post-truth. – David Kilpatrick
“A very powerful program” f2 Cameracraft, Sept/Oct 2016
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