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The Michael Rammell Photography Podcast
24 minutes | Jul 1, 2017
High ISO - Don't believe the hype
Prefer to listen? Subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher to get this epsiode, or just use the audio player below. Be sure to subscribe! ISO seems to be a feature of every camera's spec sheet that gets most of the attention these days. All people seem to care about is a camera's ability to shoot in low light!Now, if you know me and follow my blog you'll agree that I make it pretty clear that I'm a big fan of Olympus' OM-D Micro Four Thirds system. You could then, be forgiven for making the assumption that today's post is going to be all about taking a defensive stance on the ability of Olympus OM-D's and their ability to shoot at high ISO's in low light...you'd be wrong!I'm not here today to do that at all, but instead, I want to talk about ISO whilst being totally agnostic of camera systems. My reason for wanting to talk about ISO, specifically though, is to clarify what it is and when it should be used. I also want to talk to you about what ISO is NOT.Most people view a camera's high ISO capabilities in completely the wrong way, or at least - owing to the way we’ve been taught about ISO, to have a singular belief about how and when to use a higher ISO setting.Most photographers these days appear to believe that you can simply use a higher ISO in place of good quality light, or worse still: that you can use a higher ISO in the absence of any light. A good quality image is made up of a good subject, great composition and good light, of course. You cannot simply substitute good light for high ISO. High ISO is not some magic bullet to make your images better!Secondly, it would seem that photographers these days are taught, in a bid to maintain as high a quality image as possible, that you ought to keep your ISO as low as possible. And whilst this is strictly true, there are times and scenarios, such as when there is plenty of light, that you can increase your ISO with little detriment to the end result. This can be used as a means to make use of a faster shutter speed, or a lower aperture of course.Noise is not bad! I made my point on a recent episode of Camera Aspects, with Paul Griffiths, where I said that if anything, an image that is so totally free from noise tends to resonate less with me. Further to that, in an interview that I did with David DuChemin, he spoke extensively about the 'too perfect rule', and this is something I can only completely agree with; the idea that as humans we resonate far more with imperfection. David said: "you don't see people walking up to images in galleries and then have streams of tears running down their faces because of the complete absence of noise! 'Oh wow, this image is so clean it hits me right here (hitting his heart)". I've no issue shooting at ISO 5,000 on my Olympus O-MD, a camera I'm happy to admit, and I'm sure we all know, is not renowned for its high ISO capabilities. I get asked all the time what post processing I use to clean up my images when I shoot at ISO 5,000. The truth is though, nearly none. My simple answer is that I take my noise reduction slider to about 15-20 in Lightroom (CC) and say no more about it. I embrace the digital grain and accept it for what it is. In a good black and white image, with strong subject engagement, it is easier to look beyond the noise. Robert Cappa once said; "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.". In the same vein, I'd say; "If you notice the noise, the image isn't good enough". Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not lambasting a clean image. I'm not suggesting a noisy image is BETTER than a clean image, but I am saying that we shouldn't all vilify noise as some terrible thing that detracts from the quality of an image. Noise is not bad!Now, I'm not saying you simply need to learn to ignore it, or that you absolutely have to come round to my way of thinking and learn to love a bit of noise, because there are actual techniques you can use in camera to reduce the visual impact of noise. Or, in effect, you can shoot in certain ways to make noise less apparent. And I want to touch on this a little today. I shoot using a specific technique all the time, in every scenario pretty much and I've found that it does reduce the amount of noise evident in my images, and perhaps this is why I'm asked so regularly what tools and software I use to reduce my noise. The first thing you ought to know, if you don't already, is that noise in a darker part of a frame is more prevalent. You will simply see more of it in the shadows than you will in brighter parts of an image. Furthermore, when you brighten an image in post processing you also make the noise more apparent too. To help tackle this (and generally for a better quality file anyway), I use the Expose To the Right Method.I had actually been using this method so much by mistake but the first time I realised I was doing it and the first time I realise the benefits was when Martin Bailey release an episode on his blog about using the ETTR method. When people ask me what it is all about and what the benefits of exposing to the right arm I always use this analogy. It is not a perfect analogy but I think it helps to make the point soImagine having a white piece of paper and a black felt tip pen or marker pen try colouring the entire piece of white paper black using that marker pen you should find that given enough time and effort you will be able to cover up all of the white and make the entire page blackOn the flip side, however, imagine then having a white pen pencil or crayon and trying to cover up at the black again you will find that you cannot do it as well as you did when making the white paint black some black well almost always keep the weight in places or the weight will be somewhat greyThe analogy in my mind works because if you have a white piece of paper or a bright image it is easier to darken the image. If however, you have a dark image or a black piece of paper it is somewhat harder to lighten or brighten at the image as easily as it was to darken the paper/image. As a result; the Expose To The Right method teaches us to somewhat slightly over exposed our image by a third or a half stop depending on the scene possibly even a. If there aren't many highlights and then in post processing, you can bring the image back down to the correct exposure. By using the expose it to the right method you are adding detail into the shadow areas of your image and you will be getting a more full and complete histogram too. So when you take your slightly over exposed image into your choice of post processing software, for example, Adobe Lightroom you can see some noise if you were shooting at a higher I SO but of course you now do not need to increase the exposure in postprocessing meaning that you will not be further enhancing or making any existing noise more evidentIn fact, when you bring the exposure back down you can even see a slight reduction in the evidence noise in the shadow areas of the image because the detail is in that part of the frameNow this is a something thing of a contentious technique especially because in the days of Phil you were often actually taught to underexpose in order to increase the saturation of the colour of the film so as you can imagine the Expose To The Right technique is somewhat at odds with the old technique of underexposing by a half a stop. I have even had discussions with relatively successful digital photography is still underexpose by a half a stop in the belief that it will further saturate their coloursHowever, when shooting in digital bracket if you are shooting roar of course you need not worry about saturating colours anymore because with a 14 bit more image you have something like 28 billion colours on data channels available which allow you in postprocessing to edit their saturation luminance Hugh et cetera As a result, I use the Expose To The Right method to cram as much data into my digital files as possible to give me more scope and flexibility when it comes to postprocessing You will find a level on over exposing that works for you over time there is no magic formula to suggest that in every scenario you should be one-third or a half a stop over exposed you will learn using your own intuition and experience which seems are able to handle a certain level of overexposureThe term over expose can often sound quite scary because it suggests that you are doing something wrong or exposing too much or incorrectly or a scene but remember the exposure dial inside your viewfinder is exposing for 50% grey it is taking into account the highlights and shadows in the frame and trying to find a middle ground to satisfy them both what you are doing by exposing to the right is in effect going from something like a 50% grey 60% or 70% grey. As we all know cameras are quite simple in their ability to expose so by using our own human eyes and the ETT are method we are able to more intelligently expose for this scene than the camera is able to do soPerhaps this is why I enjoy using the Olympus OMD so much with the electronic viewfinder I am very immediately able to see how much I am exposing to the right and whether I need to pull that back a half stop or a third stop or in fact whether the scene can take more over exposingNow your immediate thought maybe about blown out highlights and if you are exposing to the right my third or a half stop that the sky or brighter areas of your scene will be blown out and yes this is a risk and a trade off with exposing to the right however I would debate that if you are concerned about noise enough to be listening to this post all reading this blog post then you should at least give the exposed to the right method a try to reduce the impact of noise in your images and then simply instead Paul the highlights back in post processing using the highlights and all or in the case of an over exposed sky use the digital graduated filter available in Lightroom altern
83 minutes | Apr 18, 2017
An Interview with David DuChemin
Back in 2014, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the one and only David DuChemin for the now discontinued Ready Steady Pro Photography Podcast.Now, before you go ahead and listen or watch the interview, I just want to say that David DuChemin is an absolute hero of mine. Not only is he a fantastic photographer, but his words are also incredibly thought provoking too. Whenever an email from David DuChemin lands in my inbox, I'm almost always guaranteed to spend the next couple of hours mulling over his points, comments and opinions.He is a fantastic artist in every sense of the word and has helped me to form many of my opinions on the world of photography and the process of making a photograph too. Through books from his company Craft & Vision, he has been hugely influential in my photography education so far.Because of all of this, and because of the high esteem in which I hold him, this could possibly be the reason I was so incredibly nervous when hosting this conversation! So, please do forgive my nerves in the early stages of this episode!This conversation was hosted live on YouTube as a Google+ Hangout, way back when in March 2014, but that makes this conversation absolutely no less relevant today. In this episode, David and I discussYour vision matters more than gearYou should invest more in your creativity than you should in gearThe 'best' camera is the one that fits you most comfortably, rather than the camera that is fastest / biggest / etcBe financially sensible. Think; "Will this purchase make my work noticeably better".David's own experience with Bankruptcy.The belief that we all need to just get on with shooting doesn't just end there though. To hear the wise words of David DuChemin, you can watch the full interview below or over on YouTube or tune into the podcast: Here's how:Stream or download iTunes or over at Stitcher Radio (you can also use the audio player below)Hit play on the YouTube video below or head on over to my YouTube channel to watch the interview All I ask is that whichever your preferred method of enjoying this episode, that you leave some love for by commenting, sharing and leaving a review. David duChemin is a world & humanitarian assignment photographer, best-selling author, digital publisher, and international workshop leader whose nomadic and adventurous life fuels his fire to create and share. Based in Victoria, Canada, when he’s home, David leads a nomadic life chasing compelling images on all 7 continents.For all of David's work and to follow his blog, check out his website: http://davidduchemin.com/If you're interested in the great books on offer from Craft & Vision, some of which are totally free, whilst many others are just $5, checkout the Craft & Vision website: https://craftandvision.com/
9 minutes | Apr 8, 2017
London Photo Walk 2017 - An Update
I've had a few emails and Facebook messages this past couple of weeks about my Photo Walk happening on April 30th, so today I've written/recorded this episode to give you all the details you'll need when you attend.It's FREE to attend so if you want to join me and over 50 other photographers in London for a day of Street Photography and lots of laughter, just head on over to the signup page.You have 3 ways to enjoy this post:Listen to the audio on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or using the audio player below!Head on over to YouTube to watch the videoRead on below if you're in a place where you can't watch or listen... Your Questions AnsweredQ: When will I receive confirmation of my place on the photo walk?A: If you've signed up successfully using the signup form with a genuine email address, then chances are that's how you're seeing this email. Your email address was added to my mailing list to ensure that you get all my updates, just like this one! If however you signed up, but you've found this post some other way and not as a mail in your inbox (or Junk), then be sure to re-register again at MichaelRammell.com/events.I will be sending a direct mail to all those on the list the week before the walk to make sure that I know final numbers and to answer any final, last-minute questions that may have come through. To make sure you're on that list, be sure to register. If you're in doubt or unsure, simply register again. Don't worry, you won't start getting emails twice, the system is pretty smart and should detect if your email address already exists.Q: Can I borrow a camera on the day?A: Last time I was asked this question, my answer was a straight up 'no'. However, I have been working behind the scenes to see if I can get a representative from Olympus to come along and lend some gear for a few hours on the day. I spoke to a couple of the Olympus team members at The UK Photography Show and they were very positive about the idea. Now, that's not 100% confirmed right now, so please don't count, or rely on borrowing a camera. That said, I wouldn't rely completely on loan gear for the entire day and would suggest you bring your own camera. Not just because at some stage, you'll have to give it back, but mostly because I would recommend you use the camera you are most familiar with - Street Photography often calls for quick reactions - so you'll need to know your camera well.In all seriousness - an iPhone (other phones are available) would be an absolutely fine camera to use for the day. I'll be using mine to compliment what I do with my OM-D E-M1, that's for sure.Alternatively, you could also arrange to borrow an Olympus camera using the Test & Wow Service (Check it out online and be sure to make your booking as soon as possible to ensure the equipment you want is available). Basically, you can borrow a camera and/or lens for 3 days. Handy right! Q: Are there details about the route anywhere online?A: For those of you that have registered, you should already know about the route given that it's on the signup page itself. But, if you're reading this post for the first time today, then the route is pretty much as follows: Carnaby Street > Leicester Square > China Town > Soho > Covent Garden > Trafalgar Square > South Bank, where we will decide what we're going to have for dinner. The route we take between these locations will be determined pretty much by the group on the day and where we end up.Q: What do we do if we get lost?A: You will get lost and you will break from the group! I would suggest you use Google Maps on your phone to get yourself back to one of the points on the route as mentioned and wait for us to meander through that area. On the day of the walk I will be giving out sheets with some contact information on it, as well as places to wait to catch up / meet up with should (when) you break from the group. The fact is, with 50+ photographers attending, I would actually encourage people to take a random walk down a random street, rather than all staying together in a pack. Street Photography is often about being incognito. A large group of people with cameras isn't exactly subtle!Q: Can you suggest any accommodation in London?A: I've had a handful of emails about where to stay when in London that weekend. Well, naturally those who have asked have had varied budgets available. As such, I would suggest an Air BnB booking, where you can set your budget, choose from renting a single room or an entire home and there are plenty of locations. Perfect if you have a particular diet or food requirement as you would also be able to cook for yourself if you book a place with a kitchen too! Many of these locations will feature WiFi too, which is always a bonus if you're looking to get online and share the images you've made on the day Q: What should I bring with me in my bag?A: This is a very popular question! The temptation is to overpack and throw in everything except the kitchen sink. But, in truth, you simply need comfortable walking shoes, your camera, some spare batteries and perhaps a light waterproof just in case it rains (this is London after all!). If you want to pack your own sandwiches, then go for it, but we will be walking past a dozen small shops where you can buy sandwiches, or a panini or whatever it is that you fancy. Ultimately though, pack light and you can't go too wrong. Pay attention to the weather forecast in the days leading up to April 30th and pack what you think you'll need to stay warm, dry and comfortable. We'll be out on the street for a few hours.On my very first London Photo Walk, back in 2013, it poured down for about an hour. We go caught in the rain for a short while, but then we all went into Somerset House, had a coffee, compared cameras and images and discussed photography in general. Whatever the weather has in store for us on April 30th, we'll be sure to make some great images.In the next post in my blog, I'll be sharing with you exactly what I'll be packing in my camera bag (and which camera bag I'm taking). Be sure to subscribe, if you haven't already, and you'll get that post direct to your inbox. Perhaps you can take a few ideas from me and what it is I'm bringing on the day. So, those are all the questions I've had so far. If you've not yet registered for the walk and want to come along, be sure to make your way to the sign up page and drop your details in the form. I'll be in touch the week before the walk to give you all a final update.Otherwise, I thanks for stopping by! Be sure to subscribe here on the blog, over in iTunes to the podcast and also on YouTube too. I'm producing more and more videos at the moment and would love if you would hit that subscribe button to keep up to date with everything I'm up to.Any other Questions?Do you have a question that I haven't yet answered? Drop a comment down below or get in touch via email: email@example.com
6 minutes | Mar 17, 2017
Win an OM-D E-M1ii and 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens With Olympus Magazine
I'm very humbled and grateful to have been asked to write another feature for the Olympus Magazine, particularly in this, the 50th Edition! As always, the magazine is bursting with features, including my contribution for '5 Of the Best'. Best of all, though, in this edition, you could be in with a shout of winning an Olympus OM-D E-M1ii + M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. How about that for a giveaway! Click here to check out my feature in the March / April Edition Want to listen to this post instead of reading? Great! You have 3 options:Head on over to iTunes, Subscribe, Leave some feedback and a reviewDon't like Apple? Then check out the Stitcher Radio Podcast App!Listen right here on the blog: Click play below on the audio player. In my '5 of the best' feature, Olympus wanted me to share some of my thoughts on what it takes to be a wedding photographer as well as sharing my experiences in shooting with the Olympus range of cameras (hint: I love 'em! But you already knew that). I give a run-through of some of my kit and some tips on marketing and relationship building. So if you're thinking of getting started in wedding photography, this could well be the article for you. The article features a picture of a rather chubby looking me too (of all the images OlympusUK had to choose from eh! ;) ) so if you want a laugh, be sure to stop by and take a look and have a read. Oh, and whilst you're there why not enter the competition to win your own Olympus OM-D E-M1ii + M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens.The UK Photography Show - March 18th - March 21stThis weekend (Saturday 18th to Tuesday 21st is) the UK Photography Show, the UK's largest Photography trade event. I will be there, of course. I'm heading up on the Tuesday to see David Alan-Harvey give his talk on the superstage. I'm excited about that! I will otherwise be having a mooch around the Olympus stand and the Guild of Photgraphers booth and getting my cameras cleaned for free :). I'll also be there to catch up with my good friend and fellow photographer Paul Griffiths. We'll be doing some blogging and vlogging.It's become very much a social event too since it's inception. This will be the 4th time I've been to the show, missing a year.If you want to meet up though and discuss photography, cameras or even cycling, then get in touch with me today by email: Michael@RammellPhotography.com. Or, use the contact form if you preferLondon Photo Walk - April 30thLastly, I just wanted to remind you that my totally FREE London photowalk is taking place this year on April 30th, starting out in Carnaby Street. Sign up now to make sure I have your details so that I can keep you posted about any possible changes to the plan or itinerary. There isn't a limit to the number of people that can attend as it's a public place, however I would just ask that you register so I can contact you should I need to. You can register right here on the site On that note, I have had a few emails from people who have signed up asking when they would receive confirmation of their place on the photo walk. Well, if that's you and you've signed up and you're wondering if your place is secured - then yes! You're coming. Just turn up at the meeting place on the day and say hi, just so we don't leave you behind. Again, details on how to register, the route and the meeting place can all be found over on the events pageThe Camera Aspects ShowLastly, in my quest to produce as much content as time will allow me, I've joined forces with my good friend Paul Griffiths to get a project off the ground that we've been discussing for the best part of 18 months now. 'The Camera Aspects Show' is now live. If you're thinking you may have heard the name Paul Griffiths before, it's likely you've come across Pauls show and blog: Photography Live & Uncut. The idea behind the show is that Paul and I will meet on a weekly basis to discuss all things photography, from gear to business and everything in between. We'll be recording the episodes live on location in London, using the various bars and restaurants that we like. We've already recorded and posted episode 1 up online to YouTube. The audio version will also be available shortly through iTunes and Stitcher Radio too.Don't worry though folks, the Camera Aspects Show doesn't mean that this blog is ending, it's just another feather in my cap.Otherwise, that's all for now. Be sure to head on over to iTunes and Stitcher and subscribe, just search for my name 'Michael Rammell' or use the links right here in the post. Oh, and please do check out my YouTube channel too. I've finally got that into a decent shape and I'm posting VLOG's every couple of days, so if you want to know more about me and what I'm up to regularly, check out that channel:iTunes: The Michael Rammell Photography PodcastStitcher Radio: The Michael Rammell Photography PodcastYouTube: Michael Rammell
18 minutes | Mar 13, 2017
Top 3 Inspirational Photographers from history
Continuing with my 'Top 3' theme for March, I'm back today to share with you, my top 3 inspirational photographers from history - those photographers who are sadly no longer with us, but whose work continues to impress and inspire.Want to listen to this post instead of reading? Great! You have 3 options:Head on over to iTunes, Subscribe, Leave some feedback and a reviewDon't like Apple? Then check out the Stitcher Radio Podcast App!Listen right here on the blog: Click play below on the audio player. Last week I shared my top 3 favourite / inspirational wedding photographers and in the coming weeks, I'll be sharing with you lots of my top 3's, including my top 3 favourite photography podcasts, my top 3 Adobe Lightroom processing tips and even my top 3 creative working spaces in London.For now though, let's dive into top 3. Some of you may be asking yourselves why it is I'm talking about 'Photographers in history' and not just photographers. Well, I've already shared my favourite 3 photographers right now in a previous post from back in 2015 - and those photographers remain very much the same to this day, but I wanted to talk a little more about those photographers who are sadly no longer with us. Those who have left behind a portfolio and body of work that have no doubt had an impact on many of us at some stage.In truth, had I written this article around 18 months ago, 2 of the 3 photographers in my list wouldn't feature, because it is in only in recent times that they have unfortunately passed away. So, let's get started. Here are my top 3 inspirational photographers from history. Be sure to check out the links - the work and projects they've left behind are definitely deserving of your time and viewing. (be sure to drop your favourite photographers in the comments too, or send me an email at Michael@RammellPhotography.com) 1. Fan Ho. October 1931 - June 2016Fan Ho, is perhaps less of a household name than the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, but for me at least, his work has left a huge impression on me and serves as a benchmark for what quality, impactful work should look like.Without disrespecting any other accomplished Street Photographer (or at least not wanting to), it could be said that many of us have work that looks similar. After all, nothing is new these days, especially to an untrained eye. However, there is no mistaking a Fan Ho photograph for anyone else's.His work has that unmistakable film look, it's Hong Kong during the 50's & 60's in an era less seen in photographs. His work was minimalist and clean in a way that was ahead of it's time. That shows in the way that the work still feels new today. Yes, sure the work is old now, but it has not aged. The fact it is shot on film is obvious, but the style feels ultra modern. The use of geometry, light and shadow, and black and white make every Fan Ho Image unique and identifiable as a Fan Ho Image. I talk about making intentional images quite often, the idea that you see a scene and make the picture, rather than just taking it - ducking and weaving to look for a stronger composition or even coming back at another time when the light is more pleasing. To me, all of his images I've seen, seem to exhibit these intentional acts, perhaps more than I've ever seen in work by other photographers.I've been admiring Fan Ho's work for as long as I've been a street photographer and was devastated to discover he had passed away in June 2016. I can't even remember exactly when it was I came across his work for the first time, but since that time a link to his website has taken firm pride of place atop my list of bookmarks and I view it more regularly than any other photographers' work from any genre or decade.There's simply no mistaking Fan Ho for someone else.His work, like many master photographers (and I mean to use that word in a literal sense, rather than just in a complimentary fashion), had a number of books to his name featuring his work. One of note, and one that is still widely available today, is 'Hong Kong - Yesterday'. For this book, Fan Ho revisited some old, previously un-printed negatives he had stored away to produce a great collection of work that had, before then, not seen the light of day.It makes you wonder what other negatives he had that also didn't meet his high standards, that the rest of us would quite possibly simply marvel at!Ted Forbes' Study and Farewell videos on YouTubeMy aim with this post is to simply encourage you to take a look at Fan Ho's work in the hope that you'll find it as inspiring and captivating as I do. That said though, if you're looking for a succinct, yet thorough study of Fan Ho, then no one does it better than Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography show. Ted dedicated two episodes of his YouTube / Video Podcast. In the first episode Ted walks and talks us through his life and work. Ted Forbes looks at the life and work of Photographer, Fan Ho. Born in Shanghai in 1931. After learning how to develop images using the family bathtub he went on to be one of the most notable street photographers and finest artists China has produced.Then, after Fan Ho's death back in June 2016, Ted released a lovely video in homage to the talent that he was: 2. Mary Ellen Mark. March 1940 - May 2015Whoever you are, whatever you shoot and even if you're relatively new to photography, Mary Ellen Mark should be a name you recognise at least. Given the amount of press and coverage that she and her work (rightly) received in the past few years.She is known mostly as a photojournalist and documentary photographer, who's images told great stories (often single images were able to tell entire stories!). She had a stint as a Magnum Photographer and produced work that featured/features in galleries and museums all over the world. Mary Ellen Mark worked on documentaries, most notably 'Streetwise in Seattle'. As you would expect from such an accomplished photographer, She also has over a dozen books to her name too.From a purely photographic perspective, Her work captured so much within a single frame, not in that there were lots of subjects or that the images were busy, but rather that each image was filled with a story. Or, rather the image perfectly accompanied the story that she was telling with a particular project. In her interview with Mark Selliger (Which I'll come to shortly), she talks about the time she photographed in a morgue. Whereas most of us would averse to doing this, Her desire to document and tell a story took over, enabling her to produce images of the bodies that are both shocking, but compelling to look at too.despite appreciating art myself, I often 'don't get art', but I'm inclined to say that these particular images are very much art.Many of the portraits that She made were simply haunting, in a uniquely Mary Ellen Mark style.I myself only became aware of Mary Ellen Mark through a YouTube show called 'Capture', hosted by Mark Selliger. In one particular episode Mark Selliger interviewed Her along with Helena Christensen. Now, yes, it really is only recently that I became aware of Her compared to many. Never-the-less though, I admire her work, her words and her projects and only hope to be able to make a small percentage of the impact that Mary Ellen Mark made on the photographic world. If you get a chance to watch this episode of Capture, you'll hear that She worked exclusively with film her entire career.Mary Ellen Mark also gave a talk at the Photography Show in March 2015, just month's before she passed away. I was at the show that year, but unfortunately didn't get a chance to see her give her talk. It bothers me to this day that I missed that opportunity to hear such a wonderful and talented photographer. Mary Ellen Mark makes my top 3 because of her strength as a storyteller. As someone who wanted to make an impact with her images and because she was an artist in every sense of the word. 3. Jane Bown. March 1925 - December 2014When it comes to portraits, I'm a believer that the technical is simply unimportant. Sure, you can use 100 lights in a perfect studio and the lighting matters, but it is the relationship between the photographer and the sitter and the ability of the photographer to capture it, that comes through in the final image. I know that many portrait photographers out there at this point may either be screaming 'NO! What are you talking about you're totally wrong' whilst many others may be in total agreement with me, that the connection is more key, but, I just think that portraits are often as much a reflection of the photographer, as they are the subject. Jane Bown, for me, is a beautiful example of this.Bown is another superb talent who has passed away only relatively recently back in 2014. However, before she passed away we were fortunate enough that she was able to do a series of interviews and recordings to talk about her work and share some of her stories, meaning we have more of a record of what the woman behind the camera was like. To us, the public (not family members), we're often curious about what it takes to produce work like Her's and what's involved to get those opportunities. It was evident that years of hard graft and effort, as well as consistently producing her own wonderful style of images, was the key to that.Bown worked for the Observer Newspaper (UK) for a little over 60 years, which gave her many assignments to photograph some well known people, such as Bjork, The Queen (The actual Queen, as in, The Monarch), Mick Jagger and more. Rather than me simply regurgitating those stories here on the blog however, I'd encourage you to have a look at a beautiful documentary called 'Looking for light: Jane Brown' (snippet below): For me, there is so much more to her than is even discussed and mentioned in the documentary. For example, just the fact that she was a female photographer during a time when it was very
13 minutes | Mar 4, 2017
My top 3 Inspirational & Favourite Wedding Photographers
It's hard to believe we're in March already! It seems like only yesterday I was out on the streets with the camera wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Its far too cold for that right now (here in the UK at least!), but thankfully this somewhat mildly cold winter feels like it has passed by quickly and we're very nearly back in Summer again! Phew!Want to listen to this post instead of reading? Great! You have 3 options:Head on over to iTunes, Subscribe, Leave some feedback and a reviewDon't like Apple? Then check out the Stitcher Radio Podcast App!Listen right here on the blog: Click play below on the audio player. I thought that with March being the 3rd Month I'd go with the theme of 'Three' for the month and so i'm putting together a series of 'Top 3' posts and over the next few weeks i'll be publishing these to the blog and to the podcast to see us through to April, which is when the Wedding Season here in the UK starts in earnest. With that in mind I thought that today, a good place to start would be to look at my top 3 favourite / inspirational wedding photographers - those pro's that inspire and amaze me with their images, approach and style. Now, even if you're not a wedding photographer hold up: there is value in this for you too! The guys I'm going to talk about today are some of the top talents in the world and I've no doubt you'll learn a tonne from their work, which is - arguably in my book at least - considered art!!).I know that many people still look down their nose at wedding photography, but hopefully the guys I'm sharing with you today can go some way to changing your perspective on what it's all about and, what it takes to be a wedding photographer too!So, if you're a street photographer, like I am too, remember that it really isn't too different from wedding photography. That may sound odd, but the main difference being is that at a wedding - you're being paid to make the photographs of the guests and they expect it. The same rules and principles about what makes an amazing image still apply.Later on in March though in addition to re-releasing a couple of episodes from the Ready Steady Pro Photography Podcast, I'll also be sharing with you some more of top 3's, including:Top 3 Inspirational Photographers in HistoryMy Top 3 Post Processing Tips in Adobe LightroomTop 3 Favourite Photography PodcastsSo, without further delay, in no particular order, here we go:My Top 3 Favourite Wedding Photographers1. Jerry GhionisIf you are a wedding photographer or have dabbled or considered wedding photography before, then there is a chance you will know of Jerry Ghionis and his work.Jerry is an Australian photographer who divides his time between Down Under and LA. He's a Nikon ambassador and regularly features in Wedding Photographer Top 10's throughout the world. Jerry also runs a training website that he calls, the ICE Society, which is for wedding photographers and it features behind the scenes footage from real weddings, to show you how he creates every image. The settings are included and as a bonus, there is also some audio commentary so Jerry can explain his thought process behind his actions as you watch. It's massively educational. (links below). Now, what I love about Jerry is more than just his work, which, is absolutely stunning as his many, many award will attest; it's also his approach, character and intuition on a wedding day. He's funny at the right times to get the right reaction, then at other times he fits into a more sombre and quiet moment with grace and respect for the ceremony. It's not an uncommon occurrence at all for brides to shed a tear of joy when working with Jerry. When it comes to style, Jerry has posing absolutely mastered and it's what he is known for. Each of the photographs you see in his portfolio are crafted moments that he has made to look absolutely natural. Now, Jerry's work won't be to everyone's liking, that's for sure. Some people prefer a purely candid approach, and that's fine. But what is certain is that Jerry is very talented and is able to put together a body of work from each wedding that blows people's socks off.I'd love to get Jerry on the podcast for an interview at some stage.Go check out Jerry Ghionis at JerryGhionis.com. You can check out the ICE Society at icesociety.com too.2. Cliff MautnerCliff Mautner was one of the first, big photography names I knew about when I first started out myself back in 2010. Coming from a newspaper and reportage background, it's fair to say that Cliff is primarily a reportage style photographer, which he does with absolute finesse.Whilst all of the photographers in my top 3 here today produce work of a standard I'm not sure I'll ever reach, I find that Cliff's work simply has that special something. That extra level of quality that I just can't quite describe. Mostly though, Cliff Mautner's photographs are simply beautiful pieces of art, produced by someone who clearly knows what it takes to make an amazing image. I find myself looking at Cliff's website on a regular basis to remind myself exactly how it is wedding photography should be done and what is possible. On one hand it's inspiring, on the other hand it can be depressing because he is so good that it puts me to shame.There are dozens of amazing photographers out there, but in my mind, Cliff's work stands head and shoulders above almost everyone.If you look for Cliff Mautner on YouTube you may come across a video where he shows you around his absolutely amazing studio in Philadelphia in the US, where he's based, and in that video he also talks a little about his approach with clients. In other videos, for example on KelbyOne (Scott Kelby's Training Platform), he used to have a video, much like a Jerry Ghionis ICE Society Style behind the scenes video, where he shows you how he would typically enter a getting ready scene and adjust the lighting in the room to produce the magical work he produces. Such simple and elegant changes to curtains and moving a few things around can produce some amazing results. This, for me, is a breath of fresh air because what we see a lot of these days are photographers showing us how to use 15 lights, reflectors and modifiers. Whilst there is a time and a place for that, what Cliff shares with us and shows us is what 30 years of experience gets you by way of efficient and effective thinking to produce world class images. When i first started writing this blog post I chose my top 3 and then quickly threw together some keywords for each photographer. The keywords that immediately came to mind - that I would associate with Cliff Mautner, may be a little cliche, however, they are absolutely appropriate in my mind. I wrote the words: classic, timeless, beautiful images.Cliff Mautner. Another Nikon Ambassador. A photographer who was ahead of his time all those years ago and who has remained at the forefront of amazing wedding photography. Check him out at cmphotography.com.3. Rino CordellaLastly in my list today is a photographer you may not have heard of, even if you are a wedding photographer yourself: Rino Cordella. Now, I know far less about Rino than I do Cliff and Jerry, given that those two guys are widely accessible on the internet with a variety of interviews and behind the scenes footage available. Rino, by comparison however, feels a little like a silent assassin! He's won an abundance of awards but seems to focus on making images for clients, rather than having branched out to share his methods with you and I, which I totally respect. All the while however I'd love to be a fly-on-the-wall has he works!If you know me, you know I love black and white photography. To an extent I'd actually say I'm just not a fan of colour photography. This is likely why I was so immediately attracted to Rino's work! Take a look at his website and you'll be greeted by a body of images that are mostly mono. I think Rino is a photographer that really has mastered black and white images - they really are beautfiul. You you have to check them out. As I mentioned I know less about Rino than Cliff & Jerry, but I would simply urge you to go and take a look at his website, his awards and his words. Amazing. In summary: lots of black and white work, he gets close to his subjects, his images are nearly all filled with emotion and character, there are lots of fun scenes, lots of images with unique angles and style that I haven't seen with other photographers. Amazing! A new find for me, despite being featured in many of the top 100 lists available online today. Rino Cordella. Based in Italy, born in Brussels (Belgium). His website therefore is in Italian, but if you view it through Chrome it should translate to some form of loose English enough for you to get the gist of what Rino and his work is all about (not that any words are needed, as his images do all the talking!)Check him out at RinoCordella.comWhat do you think? Who do you think is the best?No way at all does my work get close to the
77 minutes | Feb 25, 2017
Introducing the Michael Rammell Photography Podcast
It's official, I'm back in iTunes with a brand new show. The new show will basically feature the content that I write here on this blog (recorded as audio). So, if you prefer to listen as you go about your daily activities, instead of reading, it's now even easier to do that! Just head over and subscribe to the new show through iTunes.Those of you that have a keen eye may have picked up on the fact that I said that I am 'back' in iTunes...well, that's because I used to host a very successful show by the name of Ready Steady Pro. It was a great show with over 20 episodes. I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing some wonderful photographers and massive names, including David DuChemin, Frank Doorhoff, Valerie Jardin, Andrew Hellmich, Damien Lovegrove and Neil Buchan-Grant, to name but a few. As part of the launch of this new show, I will also be re-releasing the old Ready Steady Pro content too; digitally re-mastered (with a less cheesy soundtrack!) for 2017 and beyond. So, if you love podcasts and like this blog why not head on over to iTunes and subscribe The Michael Rammell Photography Podcast! What was Ready Steady Pro?The reason so many of you may not be aware of the old Ready Steady Pro Photography podcast is because it existed some time before I really started to commit to this blog and the content I put out here. Then, back in 2015 I moved house and simply stopped recording episodes. Since then however, over 450 of you have subscribed to the mailing list to receive the content from this site direct to your inbox, and so there is a very strong chance you'll be reading this very post in your email. Thanks for subscribing if that's you! So, rather than allowing those old Ready Steady Pro episodes (which are full of great gems of advice and content) to gather digital dust and remain hidden on my hard drive, I'll be re-releasing them. Just like an old EP they'll be remastered for 2017 with new intros too. You'll be able to hear all manner of discussions about the business of photography, the art of photography, some chats about gear and some otherwise massively interesting and inspiring interviews from the likes of Valerie Jardin, David DuChemin, Andrew Hellmich, Frank Doorhoff, Olympus Ambassador Neil Buchan Grant and Fuji X Pro Photographer and all round good guy Damien Lovegrove.Why the rebrand? Why not continue with RSP?As much as the 'Michael Rammell' show in iTunes will play host to the original content i recorded for the Ready Steady Pro Photography Podcast, the new content and audio I'll be recording will be about various other things too, not just the process and work required to start a photography business. The content that you have come to know from MichaelRammell.com will also feature too. For example at the time of releasing this post the other available episodes include my reviews of the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 and also my MeFoto BackPacker Tripod too. So, as such I just felt that it wasn't appropriate to call it Ready Steady Pro any more.Today's episode. So if you hit play at the top of this blog on that audio player, you'll be greeted by a new intro recorded in February 2017, followed by the very 1st ever episode of RSP, which was recorded back in September 2013. It's rough around the edges, I think you'll agree, but I was joined by some good friends and like anything in life, if you wait for something to be perfect before you start it - you'll never get started at all! The point of Ready Steady Pro was always that it was being put together and released by people in the exact same position as those listening; that being that those tuning in are photographers spinning the two plates of a day job and a photography side-income with the long-term objective being to transition between the two.I listen back now myself and realise just how far I've come, but that's not going to stop me from putting this early episode back out there. But please do be gentle! I'll be the first to admit that a number of my own opinions may have changed over the course of the last few years, but I see this as a natural progression and growth of myself as a person and a photographer.This episode was never intended to be polished or perfect. As I always say it's better to start something and get it out there, rather than perfecting for so long that it never eventually gets out there anyway!So, get comfy and enjoy the listen. If you're new to this brave world of photography and are trying to make a go of it in a professional capacity I hope that this early recording gives you hope and belief that with enough time, practise and filled pages in notepads, that you will get there too!Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and here on the blog too. I'll be re-releasing the old RSP content mixed in with new content from the blog every few weeks. I hope you enjoy it and find it valuable. As always, thanks for being here, thanks for subscribing and thanks for even reading this far! Until next week...
3 minutes | Jan 30, 2017
Competition Winner Announcement!
Today we find out who has won my own personal copy of David Gibson's 'The Street Photographer's Manual'.If you can watch the video below, great! If not, here's the audio: (failing that, you can read on below)! First off though I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who entered. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and thank you for subscribing to the blog. Subscribing was a pre-requisite of entering and so I sincerely hope that you remain a subscriber even now that this competition has ended, not least because I do hope that you'll find my future posts of interest and value, but also because I will be running more competitions just like this one on a quarterly basis.If you didn't win this time round please don't be disheartened, so many people entered and there could only be one winner after all. At the end of the day I ran this competition to give away a book that I purchased with my own money; the prize was not donated by some large company or sponsor and I shan't be exchanging or passing any of your details onto companies or third parties.That said however, I am hoping to get some companies on board in future to contribute prizes that you can win. I will keep you posted on those efforts in future posts and hopefully I'll be able to put some big prizes up for grabs!Now for the big announcement: The winner of the 'The Street Photographer's Manual' is...JAMES MARSON!Congratulations James, well done!I'll be in touch with James within a couple of days to get his details and get that book sent out.Please do note that the winner was chosen completely at random. If you must know I had all of the entries collated into a spreadsheet and them simply chose a number at random. That number was the row in which James' name was!That's all for this week. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox, I'll be announcing the next giveaway later in February and also some big new projects that I'm working on too, where you'll be able to see exactly how it is I post process my images and produce the work you see here on the website.As ever, in the mean time if you have any questions for me or want to chat, drop me a line via email or connect with me on social media!
3 minutes | Jan 21, 2017
London Photo Walk - April 2017
Come and join me on the first of my London Photo Walks for 2017!Click the audio player just below to listen to the audio, or watch the announcement on YouTube instead. Can't listen or watch right now? All of the details are below if you'd prefer to read instead! On Sunday 30th April I'll be hosting my annual walkabout in London. As always this is a completely FREE event and a chance for you to come and meet myself and some other like-minded photographers. With limited spaces available I would encourage you to register your place as soon as you can using the form at the bottom of this post (those of you viewing this in your email may need to open it in their browser), or head on over to the events page to register. As is very much the tradition with all the walks I host and as past attendees will attest; we will start out at one of London's best coffee shops - The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs on Carnaby Street. We'll then hit the streets, with plenty of stops for discussion (and more coffee!). We'll cover a couple of miles before then ending with a meal to discuss the day (optional) What, Where, When?Date: Sunday, April 30thMeeting Time: 13:00 (UK Time)Finish Time: Circa 17:30 (UK Time)Meeting Location: The best coffee shop in London! If you've been on one of my walks previously you may well be familiar with The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, on Carnaby Street (W1F 7HD). I'll be there from around 12:00, so if anyone wants to meet for a delicious pre-walk coffee, stop by and we'll get acquainted. This rather small, but superb coffee shop is located at the North end of Carnaby Street down one of the small alleys. Look out for the Black signs.Transport: To get to Carnaby Street you'll need to take a short walk from either Oxford Circus (Central Line) or Picadilly Circus (Bakerloo Line)RegisterTo remain up to date with any possible changes to the walk and to register your FREE place, be sure to complete the form below. I look forward to seeing lots of you there![NOTE: registering for this walk will subscribe you to the Blog. You can unsubscribe at any time, but to ensure you remain up to date with changes to the itinerary, please be sure to remain a subscriber until after the walk] Name * Name First Name Last Name Email Address * Message * Thanks for registering. I look forwrd to meeting with you.You can unsubscribe from the blog at any time - just look out for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails I send out. Unsubscribing won't cancel your attendance, but I will be sending out updates and news relating to. the walk via email, so to stay in the loop and in the know, please do remain a subscriber.I look forward to seeing you on Sunday 30th April in London at 1pm Note: I will only be using your details to. ensure we wait for you on the day and to contact you with updates before the. walk takes place.
20 minutes | Jan 11, 2017
Street Photography Tips (Part 2) & Book Giveaway
[To listen to the audio hit play and then give it a second to buffer. The audio is high quality] Following on from last week's post where I shared a few of my top tips for improving your street photography, today is the promised second part of this little series. In part one, I also announced the book giveaway too, where you can be in with a chance of winning my own personal copy of David Gibson's 'The Street Photographer's Manual'. The winner of that competition will be announced on January 31st, so be sure to enter today. Details on how to enter can be found at the bottom of this post.Before we dive into the tips in this post, let's briefly recap on the first 3* tips I gave In last week's post:Isolate & Simplify - Keep the frame clean and make it clear what your subject isTell a story - Is your photograph engaging and interesting? Does it have a point?Get closer to your subject and be bold and brave! Fill the frame. *BONUS TIP: Michael Pung - Street PortraitsIf you missed that post be sure to check it out! Improve your Street photography in 2017 with these top Tips:1: Hunter & Fisherman approachesI've been asked numerous times how it is I actually set about seeing and making street photographs; do I spend the entire day walking or do I sit and wait for the scene? The answer is both!It's fair to say that these two different approaches will yield different results. They will also suit different photographers too.Let's start by talking about the method whereby we pound the streets, walk around, cover ground and find the moments. Or, the 'Hunter' method as I like to call it... As a hunter out on the streets, you'll find yourself spending the day walking. This can be great if you're able to physically do this, but you need to be conscious to keep your eyes open to the scenes around you, and your wits about you as you walk, especially on busy city streets. The idea of hunting for a scene and a subject offers us as photographers plenty of variety. As we move from street to street and district to district the backdrops will change dramatically. Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 25mm f/1.8 @ Aperture: f/1.8 Focal Length 25mm ISO: 400 Shutter Speed: 1/3200th As with many larger towns and cities you'll find that the architecture changes from one area to the next. Knowing London as I do for example I can tell you that you have the white rendered buildings, people in suits and cigar shops of St James', then the tourist parts of Leicester Square and Covent Garden, the colours and smells of Soho & the uniqueness of China Town for example. Whatever city you go to, you're likely to experience that same variety. As a hunter you'll sit at your computer later that evening and be welcomed by photographs that are very different from each other owing to the fact you saw different parts of the area. Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO @ Aperture: f/2.8 Focal Length 25mm ISO: 200 Shutter Speed: 1/2000th Whilst that variety can be found by clocking up miles, what I often find some people struggle with is actually seeing photographically whilst they walk. By this, I mean; the walking itself can actually prevent you from seeing things. Either because you're physically tired, aching & thirsty, or just because your mind can wander as you get lost and explore new places. If that sounds like you, then the fisherman method may be something you should start out by trying...The fisherman method, as you may have guessed, would see a photographer finding a spot or an area in which to roam. Perhaps a park area or a junction or cross section in the city? Again, thinking about London you could perhaps consider South Bank. Whilst the fisherman approach to street photography is less likely to yield the variety that hunting offers, there are areas, such as South Bank, where the variety will come to you! In a small stretch of 100m, where the walk way is not too wide that people can't really escape your range, you can photograph people discretely as they walk past. Whether they're a commuter on the way to work, a jogger keeping fit during lunch time, tourists with cameras or street performers or skateboarders. Finding an area similar to London's South Bank can very much feel like shooting fish in a barrel (metaphorically speaking of course). Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 25mm f/1.8 @ Aperture: f/2.2 Focal Length 25mm ISO: 4000 Shutter Speed: 1/15th The intention and idea of the fisherman method however doesn't necessarily just mean you stay in one area. In an even more intentional way with even less movement required you can instead look for a backdrop or a stage for a scene first (again, metaphorically speaking) and then wait patiently for your subjects to walk onto the set. For example, finding an archway, a set of stairs or steps or a bench, to name but a few ideas. You can position yourself and ready your composition and your settings and then just wait for something or someone interesting to happen. It could be that someone sits on the bench. It could be that a skateboarder jumps the steps or grinds down the rail. It could simply be a chef on a cigarette break in an alleyway behind a restaurant, cafe or diner. Whatever the case may be, you can start by readying the scene and waiting for the interest. Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5. Lens: 17mm f/1.8 @ Aperture: f/10 Focal Length 17mm ISO: 3200 Shutter Speed: 1/13th Again, as the name suggests the fisherman method can very much be a waiting game, where the patience you invest is what will reap you those rewards. Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 17mm f/1.8 @ Aperture: f/1.8 ISO: 800 Shutter Speed: 1/640th So, as I say: choose a method that you think sounds more appealing to you and give it a try. But you never know, some 'hunters' may find the 'fisherman' method more rewarding than they think, and some 'fishermen' may find the occasional hunt for a subject an exciting experience!2: Choosing a cameras & lenses for Street PhotographyIf you're reading this post, I'd say there is a relatively high chance that you have looked online as to what equipment is best suited to street photography, or, you've already formed your own opinion as to what you think is best. My opinion is that there isn't one good answer and there isn't one camera that is necassarily better than any other. A DSLR will have advantages over a compact or a mirrorless camera, and likewise a smaller, lighter camera has its obvious advantages too. Whilst there are cameras such as the brilliant Olympus PEN-F and accomplished Fuji X100t that are super small, lightweight and help you to look very incognito as if they're designed specifically for street photographers, I've heard some very compelling debates to suggest that having a DSLR out on the street can in fact help to convince others that you're just a tourist too! After all, it seems everyone is a photographer these days and more and more people are investing in 'big cameras'. I guess having a DSLR could in effect actually help you to blend in, in an odd sort of way. My own belief is that you should use the camera you feel most comfortable and familiar with, whatever that may be. You don't need to wait until you have that latest mirrorless camera and you shouldn't be put off by 'only' having a Full Frame DSLR. Both will get you results - it's you that has to be ready to see the moment and capture it. Without sitting on the fence though and with all that said, let's consider the practical advantages of a smaller, lighter camera here: you are going to find that you need a smaller bag for it all, which means you are likely to be less fatigued by the end of the day. These mirrorless cameras often offer a totally silent electronic shutter mode and, arguably, in my opinion, you are less likely to be considered a 'serious' or 'professional' owing to perceptions alone. So if you can put your ego aside for one minute, it could be that on this occasion looking like an amateur or tourist is a good thing (I would say though for the record, I don't agree with the perception, but it is a hard one to argue. I wrote about my feelings on this in my 'Why Olympus?' Post)So, whilst this section of advice isn't necessarily me telling you exactly what to carry and use, I would loosely suggest the following things to I think aid you physically and creatively:travel light.pack one camera & one lenspack a spare batteryuse as small a bag as possibleTravelling with one camera and one lens, whichever lens that may be, will serve to help you focus only on the scenes and the moments happening in front of you and less on the gear you have in your bag. 3: Times, Locations & Days to sh
12 minutes | Jan 4, 2017
Street Photography Tips (Part 1) & Book Giveaway!
[To listen to the audio hit play and then give it a second to buffer. Alternatively,be sure to subscribe to the blog over in iTunes where you can listen on-the-go too!] There's a lot going on today! In addition to my own 3 top tips to improve your street photography, I've invited the fantastic Michael Pung to offer a top tip of his own for street portraits too! In addition to all of that, I'm also running the first of my giveaways for 2017!If you're interested in the street photography tips then just keep reading. If however, you're just here to put your name in the hat to win the book, skip to the bottom for entry information and terms & conditions. Good luck to you all! Improve your Street photography in 2017 with these top Tips:Perhaps you've just picked up your first camera for Christmas? Perhaps with some of the spare time you had over the festive period you ventured out into the street for the first time to try your hand at what can at first appear to be a very easy and simplistic photographic discipline - Street Photography.Whatever the case may be, I've got a few tips to help you to produce stronger, more compelling images when in public spaces.Now, I'm not suggesting that the tips in this post alone will transform you into a master Street Photographer overnight! There is so much more to Street Photography than can be condensed into 3 tips. In fact, I've got lots to say on the subject. That's why I'm going to actually split this post into 2. This is part 1 of 2. You can check out Part 2 right hereToday I'll start with the practical things; the things that you can practice and implement right now to instantly make stronger and more engaging photographs of life on the streets:1: Isolate & simplifyI see too many street photographs with no clear subject! It's massively frustrating for me when I look through people's work and all I see are busy streets, without a clear point of focus, intent, story or subject. Through use of light and shadows this image successfully leads the viewer's eye to the illuminated subject. Note however that the background is illuminated just enough to help tell the story, whilst at the same time is not too bright so that it is a distraction from the main subject.Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO @ Aperture: f/2.8 Focal Length 12mm ISO: 3200 Shutter Speed: 1/160th Now, of course sometimes the subject in the frame can be the order among chaos, but unless it's easily identifiable or intentional the subject is often lost and the viewer is left confused as to what the intention of the image actually is! As such my first tip is to isolate your subject. By this, I mean make it clear what your subject is. This can be achieved by using contrasting colours; a lady in a bold red coat in a crowd of darker coats perhaps?If you aren't able to isolate your image using contrast, colour or shadows & light, then go for plan B; simplify the contents of the frame. This can be achieved by removing elements that are distracting, such as bright spots in the background (bright and bold colours as well bright lights). Text and writing in images can also be very distracting. Signage and shop fronts as shown below can often be distractions. (unless of course they add to the story as I discuss in my second tip). A commonly used method of simplification is to find a plain background to use as a stage for your subjects; brick walls for example can work quite well: By putting my subject against a plain backdrop, I ensure that my subject is the only thing for my viewer to look at. Simple Framing. Camera: Canon 7D Lens: 85mm f/1.8 Aperture: f/4 Focal Length 85mm ISO: 1000 Shutter Speed: 1/400th Another means to simplify is to use a shallow depth of field to remove or hide or reduce a distracting element of the background from a frame. Here for example you can clearly see the city in the background, however the use of depth ensures that the viewer's is drawn back towards the object in sharp focus; the musician: Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5. Lens: 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO @ Aperture: f/2.8 Focal Length: 31mm ISO: 800 Shutter Speed: 1/2000th 2: Tell a storyBefore I photograph anything I subconsciously ask myself a few questions: Why are you photographing that scene? What's the point? What is the story? Will someone else see or get the story?I don't literally stop and ask myself these questions, but over time this thought process has become very much part what happens before I press the shutter. As the photographer, we were present at the moment it all happened and so we have the added context in our mind to aid the story, things like how hot or cold it was, what the street smelled like, what sounds could be heard and what else was happening outside of the frame to inform the action happening inside the frame. All of those extra senses we have add more to the story for us. Instantly, that provides a different and perhaps more informed narrative for us when we view the image back. It makes us biased. So, unless we somehow capture more inside the frame to help put the pieces of the story together for the viewer, what we ourselves often consider to be a great image because of how we feel about it, is nothing more than a snapshot of someone on the street to someone else.For me, this is why Street Photography in itself is an often-misunderstood genre: It appears easy to walk around and shoot all the interesting things you see on a busy street, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a compelling and engaging or even interesting photograph for someone else to look at. A dark scene featuring a man smoking (the smoke is obvious) leaning against the front of a betting shop (bookies as we say in the UK). The text reads 'When the Fun Stops, Stop'.Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO @ Aperture: f/2.8 Focal Length 12mm ISO: 3200 Shutter Speed: 1/80th Now, without all of that additional context provided by our own senses as I mentioned above, the story told within a frame can be left to the interpretation of the viewer, even if you have provided a lot of additional visual stimulus and a clear backdrop to the scene. This is absolutely fine. Often, it can be more interesting for a viewer to look at the image and begin to imagine and write their own story to bring the image to life. Don't be upset if the story that someone invents to surround your image isn't the story you saw at the time you made the image. Just be grateful that someone has taken the time to study your image enough to see a story within it!3: Get Closer & Be BoldThis is something of an expansion on my point to isolate & simplify what is in your frame, but here I want to suggest that you get closer to your subject to make the image more engaging. This works particularly well when you achieve eye contact with your subject (if your subject is a person or an animal that is). For example: Note that despite my subjects occupying a large proportion of the frame, I still have composition, isolation and a story being told in the background.Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO @ Aperture: f/2.8 Focal Length 12mm ISO: 3200 Shutter Speed: 1/160th Standing at a red light waiting to cross the street I took a few side-steps to get closer to this woman. I waited for the lights to turn amber before raising the camera and making a frame. With so much going on around us all my subject could do was to throw me a glance before crossing. This frame would have arguably been too busy had my subject been farther away and occupied a smaller amount of the frame.Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1. Lens: 25mm f/1.8 @ Aperture: f/1.8 Focal Length 25mm ISO: 320 Shutter Speed: 1/640th Helping your subject to dominate the frame makes it immediately more obvious exactly what your subject is. Fact.You will still of course have to keep an eye out for distracting elements, as always.If you're shooting a street performer, get in closer to them (but be safe and don't invade their space). If you're shooting street, you're typically going to be in an open public space. As such you should have the freedom to move around - so do it! Don't just let life pass you by from one spot - go and get those images! That is of course, unless you're setting a scene and waiting for the subject (more on that part two though)Don't be scared to raise the camera to your face to make a photograph of someone. Sure, this feeling will be worse if you're in a less densely populated area, but don't fear question or conflict; make the image and congratulate yourself for having done so later, because the altern
3 minutes | Dec 30, 2016
Video & Free Downloads - Lightroom Smart Collection Settings
[To listen to the audio hit play and then give it a second to buffer. The audio is high quality] I'm just in the midst of preparing my annual 'Looking Back' post, where I review the images I made during the past year. Its the annual retrospective exercise that we should all be doing as photographers. It helps one to gain some perspective as to where it was we were back in January compared to just how far we've come in those 12 months to December.This year I plan on doing more than just sharing 10 my favourite images from 2016 though. I'm going to revisit the 5 most popular blog posts as visited by you guys and I'm also going to give a complete break down of the gear I used for the year, including how much use each lens actually got.In order to achieve this, I'm using Adobe Lightroom's Smart Collection feature to sort my images into folders (effectively) based on an the attributes of an image.For example, I can set a smart collection to look through all of my images and pick out those that were shot with the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. I can repeat this for each lens and camera I own. This tells me just how I used each lens by simply showing me the number of images for each smart collection.Whilst this isn't a hard thing to configure, it can be time consuming. So, I've saved all of my settings into files for you to download and import into your own instance of Lightroom. This Smart Collection in Adobe Lightroom shows me how many images I shot with the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens from Olympus during 2016 Given that the smart collections I have used look at images made between specific dates, I've gone ahead and made Smart Collections for both 2016 and 2017. Feel free to download them using the links below. Various Adobe LIghtroom Smart Collection Settings Files available for download For details on how to import the smart collections into lightroom, just watch the video below. In this I also go into a little detail as to how it is I made these smart collections (if you so wish to make your own for lenses I have not included). Alternatively, skip down past the video for the bulleted version of the instructions if you can't watch video where you are right now. > Download Olympus 2016 Smart Collection Files here > Download Olympus 2017 Smart Collection Files hereImporting Smart Collection Settings into Adobe Lightroom (Video) Importing Smart Collection Settings Into Adobe LightroomDownload the Smart Collection Settings Files from this postSave somewhere on your computerOpen Adobe LightroomIn the Library Module Expand 'Collections' in the left paneCreate a new Collection SetName the collection set '2016'Right Click on the 2016 Collection SetChoose 'Import Smart Collection SettingsBrowse to the files I have made available for you that you saved back in step 2.Choose the Smart Collection Settings you wish to useTa Dah!(repeat for the Smart Collection Sets applicable to you)I hope you find these Smart Collection settings useful. I would love to know what your most used lens and camera was for 2016! Please do share a link to your own 2016 Look Back post if you have made one, I'll be sure to stop by and leave a comment on your post!If you found these Smart Collection Settings useful be sure to share this post and subscribe to the blog today. My own review of 2016 will be out in just a couple of days. Subscribing is the best way to be sure you see that post first!
17 minutes | Nov 16, 2016
Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 PRO Review
[To listen to the audio hit play and then give it a second to buffer. The audio is high quality] With the launch of the much-anticipated and long awaited Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark 2, you're now able to find lots of offers and bundles on Olympus PRO lenses too. Most notably a few of the larger and well known camera stores here in the U.K are promoting the E-M1 mark ii bundled with the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO for example. But today, I want to emplore and encourage you to take a serious look at the wonderful Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens.It's been around for a while now but after including it in a recent post as one of my top three Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses I've had a couple of emails from subscribers asking me more about the lens and whether it really is as good as I said it was in that post.There are ofcourse a plethora of technical reviews available on the Internet from the likes of DPReview, but from a practical standpoint I thought that the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO really does deserve it's own post here on the blog. So, here you go... Just like Olympus with their cameras, this cyclist is breaking the rules! I imagine that with the launch of the EM-1 mark 2 and the fact that the PRO lens line up is now what most photographers would consider to be mature, that many more photographers will be re-visiting a move to a mirrorless system. As such let's assume that you're asking yourself where in the lens lineup the 7-14mm f/2.8 sits in terms of quality. Quite simply: the Olympus PRO range of lenses are Olympus' answer to Canon's L series lenses if you will. As the 'PRO' name suggests they're designed for professional use. They are the top lenses on offer from Olympus. Olympus M.Zuiko PRO lenses all feature constant a aperture, covering a complete focal range of 7mm - 300mm (or, 14mm to 600mm in terms of the Micro Four Thirds equivalent field of view). PRO lenses feature the most premium quality optics, superb build quality and are dust, freeze and splash proof.If you want to know more about how Aperture and Focal Range are affected in the world of Micro Four Thirds then check out this post right hereOn the widest end of Olympus' PRO lens offering is this, the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO super wide angle.Of all of the Olympus lenses I own, the 7-14mm f/2.8 is my most recent addition, purchased back in March 2016. Although I've had it all this time I didn't want to write a review until such a time that I thought I had given it a fair run out and put it through it's paces. So after 16 weddings, a few landscape outings and other various bits and pieces; I think I'm pretty well placed to give you my thoughts on this lens.Let's start with the stats, specs and highlights: (skip past these if you don't care for details)Specs & Details7-14mm focal range provides a 14-28mm, 35mm equivalent field of viewRetails here in the UK for around £800 - £9007 Round Bladed Aperture for circular bokeh14 elements, 11 GroupsAngle of view: 75.4 degrees when zoomed to 14mm and 114.2 degrees at the widest endSplash, Freeze and dust proof the same as the M.Zuiko 12-40 f/2.8 PROMetal construction, feels even sturdier than the M.Zuiko 12-40 f/2.8 PRO!The lens hood is physically part of the lens and cannot be removed. As with many wide angles the front element is very concave and protrudes outwards. As such use without a lens hood wouldn't be advised anyway. The lens hood offers physical protection to the front element and is there not only for reducing flare and ghosting.The front element does extend when zooming, much like the 12-40 f/2.8 PRO. However, the front element does not extend beyond the end of the body of the lens - the lens remains the same size, albeit the front element simply extends outward (not beyond the lens hood). The physical travel of the front element when zooming is very small.If you're coming from a DSLR then the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO pits itself against the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. Panasonic also offer their own MFT Mount 7-14mm as well, but it's worth noting that is an f/4 lens. I'll reference these in this review. Horwood House, Milton Keynes, UKMy first outing with the 7-14mm for my first wedding of 2016 Size and WeightIf you picked up an OM-D as part of a kit you may well already have the brilliant 12-40mm f/2.8. If it's a lens you're familiar with, then you're not far from being able to imagine the size, dimensions and general feel of the 7-14mm f/2.8. The diameter and feel of these two lenses are very familiar with the 7-14mm f/2.8 being a little larger, if anything. So, if you've become well adjusted and comfortable using the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, picking up the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO should give for an immediately familiar feel.The lens weighs in at 534 grams. Given its' relatively similar size to the 12-40mm f/2.8 therefore you'll be pleasantly surprised by this when you pick one up for the first time - by comparison, the 12-40mm f/2.8 is a shade lighter at 382 grams. For further comparison, the DSLR equivalents from Canon & Nikon are both heavier. Canon's super 16-35mm is just 100 grams heavier at 635 grams and the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 comes in at a comparatively whopping 970 grams. Sticking with the Micro Four Thirds comparisons though, Panasonic's own 7-14mm is rather light at 300grams. So, if weight is an important factor to you, perhaps due to an injury, then the Panasonic may be the way to go. I would however debate Olympus' 7-14mm offering feels beautifully balanced when mounted to an OM-D. Those few hundred extra grams give for a reassuringly premium feeling construction. My first bride of 2016 photographed with the Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens First ImpressionsAs with all of the lenses so far in the M.Zuiko PRO range, the resistance (or stiffness) of the rings on the lens feels great. In fact, if you own any of the M.Zuiko PRO lenses, such as the 12-40mm or the 40-150mm for example, then then you'll find that the 7-14mm f/2.8 handles very similarly in that respect. That universal and consistent feel and operation that Olympus have given to their PRO lenses is something I can really appreciate. Each time I pick up one of the 'Holy Trinity' of lenses (these being the 7-14mm, the 12-40mm and the 40-150mm) they operate pretty much in the same way. By launching these lenses at around the same time, give or take a year, they've presented them to us in a way that Canon never did. The Canon 24-70mm for example feels nothing like, or even operates anything like the 70-200mm. They don't look the same either.The 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO feels dense, strong and solid. All features that I'm sure you've come to know from the other lenses in the PRO lineup.If you've owned a Super Wide Angle Zoom before on a different system, then the lens cap won't be anything new to you. However, if you've found your way (back) into photography through an OM-D and this is your first Wide Angle - then the pinch-style lens cap may at first seem a little odd. The lens cap, unlike other standard zooms and primes, has to take into account the concave and protruding nature of the front element, meaning it therefore cannot sit flush in front of that element. So, as a result it mounts neatly around the lens hood, which is an integral part of the 7-14mm body. You could say it's shaped a little like a hockey puck. It's solid and features the same front panel design of the other PRO lens, lens caps.Image QualityWhen it comes to lenses a good one will often outlast the cameras you own. I'd say this is the case with the 7-14mm for sure. Everything I've said about the image quality of the 12-40mm and the 40-150 is exactly the same for the 7-14mm: It's incredibly sharp both at 7mm and at 14mm, even in the corners which isn't common for a super wide angle. Here are some sample images for you to take a look at to demonstrate (all new images unreleased before now:) Even though it's an Ultra Wide Angle lens, distortion isn't overly extreme unless you angle the lens at your subject. For example I recently found myself with very little space to shoot a few large formal photographs at a wedding, which called for the 7-14mm in order to fit the group of people in the frame. Ordinarily I would be somewhat concerned about the warping and distortion that tends to take place in the outer edges of the frame, but what I actually found is that if I shot square on at chest height to my subjects I achieve a pretty standard feeling frame . A minor distortion correction in Adobe Lightroom corrected this even furthe
16 minutes | Nov 3, 2016
MeFoto Backpacker Tripod Review
Christmas isn't far away now at all. If you're still thinking of what it is you would like for Christmas then this could well be a perfectly timed post for you. Today I want to tell you about the MeFoto Backpacker Tripod.I have something of a disclaimer before I continue though...I am not endorsed or sponsored by any company or product. Everything I ever review, good or bad, is a product I've purchased with my own money. As I have said before I would change brands at the drop of the hat if I genuinely felt that a different product made my work noticeably better and the change was financially sensible. I am well aware that I can often seem to be an Olympus fan-boy, but if I believe a product is a bad product I'll say so.Don't get me wrong, If Olympus want to come and sponsor me I will welcome it because I believe that Olympus cameras and lenses have elevated and unlocked my creativity. But even if I were sponsored, I don't see that it would change the way I review or talk about productsSo, with all that said let's get into the subject of this post: The MeFoto Backpacker Tripod! The diminutive MeFOTO folded away to it's smallest size. Fits snug inside my small Caselogic backpack Small Camera allows for smaller accessoriesSince moving to an all-Olympus setup back in January 2015, most of my other gear and accessories have also shrunk in size too: smaller flashes and smaller bags for example. But one thing that I hadn't downsized until recently was my Tripod.For the longest time I've relied on my trusty Manfrotto Tripod; a heavy-ish and not-so-compact tripod by any means, but it was certainly sturdy most of the time and able to support the weight of my old Canon DSLR's combined with battery grips, a 580EX II Flash and my old favourite Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L II lens (that was possibly the heaviest setup I would ever have had on it back then at about 4Kg's).I had that tripod for around 4 or 5 years and used it for everything from landscapes to wildlife and sports to weddings. It traveled all over the UK and Europe and the Middle East with me and even went along with me to two Le Mans races where it took a bit of a battering. In addition to being a tripod I've used it as a light stand, a climbing pole and a stick to beat down fern bushes as I waded through forests to photograph Deer and the like. It's been in sand, mud and seawater and still to this day works pretty well. Every now and then when I extend the legs you can hear the 'crunch' of sand between the extending leg sections. Also, those latch-type / lever leg locks become a little loose over time too.But, 'Ol' reliable' was getting exactly that; Old.So, naturally when it came time to seek out a replacement I looked for something smaller, lighter and more in-keeping with the size and weight of the Olympus gear I choose to use these days. I made a list of the things I was looking for in a tripod, and this is what I came up with:Small & Compact when folded away (ideally could fit in to my bag)LightweightSturdy enough to support my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a battery grip and my Olympus 40-150 f/2.8 PRO lensTwisting leg mechanisms to lock them in place (instead of levers) both to ave weight and to ensure that sand can't get into those parts and ruin the way it worksArca Swiss style plate* (reasoning explained later)£200 BudgetThe MeFOTO Backpacker ticks all the boxesI did a lot of research and tried out a few tripods at The Photography Show back in March here in the UK and the result was that the MeFOTO BackPacker just seemed to be the best of the bunch. And as a bonus it also came in at the lower end of my budget too which was a pleasant and welcome surprise.The MeFOTO BackPacker has those twisting locking mechanisms on the legs, it's the smallest of all of the options and is one of the lightest too. At the same time it is able to support the required weight of my Olympus Gear. The included Ball Head is simply something to behold as well (especially at this price point!). In design terms it is relatively similar to the premium products on offer from Really Right Stuff.One of my favourite things about it though is that the dials and knobs used to adjust the tension and movement are big and chunky, meaning even with gloves on I can make the most of this tripod! Chunky Dials on the ball head. Finished in gold to match my iPad and iPhone :) Why The Need for Arca Swiss?So, it was light, small and within the budget, but why was it I wanted that Arca Swiss plate so much you ask? Here's why: An Arca Swiss style plate offers more options in terms of compatibility with cameras and mounts. All tripods and monopods I know of work in the same way; that being a plate that screws in to your camera (or lens) and then a system of some description on the tripod head will latch onto said plate. Some monopod's so will screw directly into a lens, sure, but if you want to use a ball head you'll need some sort of plate to fix your camera or lens to it. Most manufacturers, such as Manfrotto, have come up with their own unique shaped plate that will then fit only their tripod (or tripod heads). This is where Arca Swiss is different: You still have a plate, sure, but this particular plate mounts to whichever ball head is also Arca Swiss compatible, which you can find on offer from a wide variety of manufacturers. Arca Swiss style plates and tripod heads attach to one another using a dovetail approach with (usually) a screw mechanism to then tighten the grip of that dovetail.Furthermore, because the Arca Swiss is considered a more widely adopted mounting system the plates themselves are usually a little more adjustable in terms of their positioning so that they can work and be better suited to the size and shape of the various cameras they may be used on. This was really only apparent to me when I saw this video from David Thorpe over YouTube with his review of the Olympus PEN-F. In his review David highlights the point that the awkwardness of the threads' position on the PEN-F, which is relatively forward on the camera, affects the possible compatibility of certain plates: When you mount one of the PRO lenses, such as the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 or the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 you may find that mounting a plate and therefore tripod of your choosing is a tight fit (or worse, not possible at all). It's for this reason that I wanted the Arca Swiss plate: they offer a little adjustment and movement and being something of a standardized type of plate, as opposed to a brand-specific plate like Manfrotto's, should mean that if the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark 2 (which I will be sure to get when it is released) features the same issue as the PEN-F, I should be able to continue to use the MeFOTO backpacker, or at least find a plate that works from a company such as Really Right Stuff (thanks Martin Bailey).Now, typically I use a battery grip, so it would give me plenty of clearance no matter which one of my lenses I'm using. But, when investing in a new tripod I just wanted to be sure I wasn't going to encounter any issues at all. After all, as I've found out my Tripod should out-last my camera and so giving thought to this should mean I am future proofing myself (I hope)So, that said, I've had the MeFOTO Backpacker tripod for a few months now and have had some to get out and use it and am thoroughly enjoying it. As you can see from the sample images here I've gone for the gold option. It may be a bit 'flashy' for some people's tastes, but my Wedding Photography branding is golden & yellow and thought that this matched quite neatly indeed. It also neatly matches my iPad Pro and iPhone too :)There are also a series of other quite colours available, but I felt the yellow and the red were perhaps too loud and could even possibly get in the way when photographing Deer at Richmond Park and wildlife in general, where subtlety is your friend!All in all the MeFoto is sturdy, folds up to a wonderfully compact size and comes with a generously high quality ball head with chunky, solid dials and mechanisms. It's build quality gets top marks too.I've not been this excited and impressed with a tripod...well...ever!Alternative Tripods to the MeFOTO & what I foundSo now let's talk about the competition and why it is I felt the MeFOTO won out over them.I stumbled across this comparison of lightweight travel tripods from Digital Camera World and found quite quickly that it was down to one of three tripods (and this was generally the consensus from many other comparisons too): The Manfrotto BeFree Aluminium, the Nest Traveller or the MeFoto Backpacker. Each of these most closely met my requirements and often came in among the best rated for travel / lightweight tripods.Initially of course, being a previous Manfrotto tripod owner I was pleased to see the Manfrotto BeFree making the cut and being mentioned as one of the better Tripods available. Being a Manfrotto user all these years I felt compelled to remain loyal and to stick with a brand I know. But, then I realised it had the lever-type mechanisms to lock the legs in place. I wasn't a fan of that on my old tripod. It only took me about a week to lose the plastic tool that comes with the tripod to allow you to tighten those levers, due to them loosening over time. It also didn't feature the Arca Swiss head I wanted. So, the Manfrotto option was removed from the table, leaving me with the Nest Traveller and the MeFOTO BackPacker.Nest & MeFOTO - Neck and Neck! It really was neck and neck between the two remaining tripods. Both had everything I was looking for; they were nearly identical,
22 minutes | Oct 2, 2016
Micro Four Thirds Depth of Field Explained
Hold on to your hats folks, because this weeks' post is a long and technical post! But In recent weeks I've seen quite a lot of misinformation going around when it comes to Aperture and Depth of Field with Micro Four Thirds Cameras. So today I want to put a stake in the ground and set out in the simplest of terms exactly what impact a Micro Four Thirds Sensor (and an APS-C crop sensor for that matter) has on Aperture, Depth of Field and Effective Focal Range.If you're in a position to listen then go ahead and hit play on the audio player below, if not, scroll down a little further and you can read through today's post in your own time. Either way, the audio is the same as the text to make sure you're not missing out. After hitting play give it about 5 - 10 seconds to start: I spoke briefly about this in a post I wrote called 'Why Olympus' in which I looked to demystify many of the myths about the MFT format. But the subjects of Depth of Field (or, an apparent lack of according to some) and the focal lengths of lenses are debates I have seen come up again and again.I expect many people who subscribe to my blog to already be familiar with the concepts of crop factors and the impact they have on a lens and a resulting image, but for those of you who are very new to photography; my aim is to make this as clear as I possibly can and to start with the very basics. Here I'll explain aperture and focal lengths in as basic a way I can.If at any point you don't understand please do get in touch with me via email or message me on Facebook - I'm always happy to chat directly.Before I start I want to make a few things clear:A mirrorless camera is not a worse or lesser camera than a DSLRThe fact that a camera has no internal mirror in front of the sensor doesn't mean it is 'lacking' something. This is by design and gives the camera a series of benefits over a DSLR. It arguably also represents some challenges too, but these are mostly things of the past now.The inclusion or exclusion of a mirror does not affect Depth of Field.Depth of Field is affected by the lens and the sensorSensor SizesIn recent years (in the digital age at least) the three most common sensor types found inside cameras that the masses of photographers use, are:Full Frame Sensors. This includes such cameras as:Canon 6D, 5D3 and 5D4, 5Ds, 5Dsr and 1DX.Nikon D810, D750, D5, DFSony A7Rii, A7sii, A7ii, Alpha 99iiAPS-C Sensors. Cameras include:Canon 7D and 7Dii, 80D, 800D and the Canon M5Nikon D7100, D5200, D3200Fuji's XT-1 & XT-2, X-Pro1 & Xpro 2, X100S & X100TMicro Four Thirds Sensors. Cameras include:Olympus OM-D E-M1, E-M1ii, E-M5ii, E-M10ii, PEN-FPanasonic G Series also subscribe to the MFT format with camera such as GX8, GH4 etcIn order of size from largest to smallest in the list above, it is Full Frame, APS-C, MFT.There are a series of other sensor sizes too, such as Medium Format etc, but if you're reading this post you're most likely interested in one of the three above. For the sake of this post, I will only be looking at these.Full Frame vs APS-C vs MFT - Affects on lensesQuite simply, a sensor size will affect all of the properties of a lens; it's aperture and it's focal range. When you buy a lens it will have both a focal range and an aperture. These will be written on the box and also on the lens itself (most of the time). For example, let's look at the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8: with this lens, the '24-70mm' part denotes its' focal range or, if you like, its' zoom range: the smaller the number the wider the field of view. The larger the number - the longer it is able to reach. The Aperture is then reflected as 'f/2.8'. The lower aperture number is; the shallower the depth of field (again in simple terms lets say that a lower number will give you a blurrier background. For example the Canon 50mm f/1.8 will give you a really blurry background...)Our example lens; the 24-70mm f/2.8 will fit and work on both Full Frame Canon camera bodies and also their Crop sensor bodies. BUT, these cameras have different sized sensors and so the lens will behave differently on each system. This is due to what is called the Crop Factor. IF these lenses could somehow fit an MFT camera (they won't, unless you use an adaptor), the lenses would again take on different characteristics. The different effects that these sensors cause is due to their 'Crop Factor'Again, trying to use the simplest terms possible, the crop factor is, if you like, effectively the magnification rating. (this isn't technically entirely accurate, but, if you're new to this concept then this will help to explain).A Full Frame has a crop factor of x1, an APS-C has a crop factor of x1.6* and a Micro Four Thirds Sensor has a crop factor of x2.*The APS-C sensors from Canon and Nikon are actually slightly different sizes and therefore have slightly different crop factors. See the table below for more details. How Crop Affects Focal RangeWhat you may already be aware of is that the differing sensor sizes and as such crop factors actually change the effective focal range of a lens. This is worked out by very simply multiplying the lens' focal range by its crop factor. For example, on a Full Frame Body, a 100mm lens is multiplied by a crop factor of 1. Therefore, the focal range remains 100mm. On an APS-C sensor, that same 100mm lens will be multiplied by 1.6. 100 x 1.6 = 160mmIt's even easier with a Micro Four Thirds sensor as the crop factor is x2. So, without much thought at all, you could work out that a 100mm lens then takes on an effective field of view of 200mm. This table below sets out a series of common focal ranges with their respective, inherent effective focal ranges when used on each of the different sized sensors X2 = Micro Four Thirdsx1.6 = Canon APS-CX1.5 = Nikon APS-C and Fuji X Seriesx1 = Full Frame Cameras Your initial thought could simply be that surely a smaller sensor is a good thing right? After all, you get more zoom from a lens! To many this certainly is an advantage of APS-C over Full Frame as it can negate the need for you to buy a longer lens. However, it isn't always the case that this extra reach is wanted; those ultra wide lenses you can buy then become slightly less ultra wide.Secondly, the effective aperture is also affected too:How Crop Affects ApertureIn continuation of keeping this very basic, I won't explain in full exactly what aperture is, but rather I'll explain the things it affects. Put simply it affects the blur of the background in an image (Depth of Field) AND it determines how much light is let through the lens to hit the sensor. The second part is important because the more light that comes through to the sensor will mean that an image can potentially be less noisy and grainy.Depth of Field Again, sticking with the idea that I am explaining this in it's simplest form; Depth of Field is basically this: From the point of sharp focus on your subject how much immediately after does the scene or subject begin to blur and how blurry is that blur. Experienced photographers may be reading this cringing with this description, but remember I'm trying to keep this is as simple as possible. You can look up a better definition of Aperture and Depth of Field on Google. I'm not here to explain that, I'm trying to explain how a lens affects this property: So, remember how the focal range was multiplied by the crop factor to give a new focal range? Well, we do the exact same thing with the aperture to give us our new values: f/1.8 will become f/3.6 on a Micro Four Thirds Sensor (1.8 x 2 = 3.6) . F/2.8 will become f/5.6 on a Micro Four Thirds Sensor (2.8 x 2 becomes 5.6) and f/4 will become f/8 (4 x 2 = 8) and so on. You can work out the APS-C Aperture difference by multiplying those same details by 1.6 too. So let's again say that f/1.8 x 1.6 = 2.88 (or 2.9 if we round up).Now, if you know anything about aperture you will know that the lower the f number, the blurrier the background and the shallower the depth of field (the amount of your subject that is in focus). So, if you buy an f/1.8 lens you need to know that it will less shallow on an ASP-C than it would, were that same lens on a Full Frame camera. The Martin Bailey Podcast Companion App, with DoF calculator If you want to learn more about Depth of Field I strongly advise you look at Martin Bailey's eBook 'Sharp Shooter', available through Craft & Vision. In this book, Martin goes into great depth about aperture and it's effect on an image. Martin runs a superbly educational podcast and is an excellent photographer to boot! If you're interested in listening that podcast you can subscribe via iTunes or download Martin's Podcast Companion App from the App Store. Handily, this app also includes a Depth of Field Calculator, so when you're learning about Depth of Field you will be able to use this to help. The relationship of Aperture & SpeedOften, when we talk about lenses with low f numbers, such as f/1.8, f/1.4 or f/1.2 you may hear photographers referring to them as 'Fast' lenses. The reason for this is that these lenses let a lot of light through them, which will afford you the use of a lower ISO or a higher shutter speed. A lower ISO will invariably give you a cleaner, less noisy image and a faster shutter speed will aid you in freezing fast moving subjects and potentially sharper images. Now you may assume at this stage, give that the focal range and depth of field properties have been impacted by the sensor size, that the amount of light a lens can gather is also affected. This is not true. In terms of depth of field yes - an f/1.8 lens on a Ful
10 minutes | Sep 17, 2016
Shooting Soccer with an OM-D: Can it do it?
This week we have a question that was sent in from Andrew Kern (or, AJ). Rather than replying to the email directly I thought it would be best to answer AJ's question right here on the blog for everyone to see.If you're in a position to listen then go ahead and hit play on the audio player below, if not, scroll down a little further and you can read through today's question from AJ and my response. Either way the audio is the same as the text to make sure you're not missing out. AJ is an Olympus shooter photographing High School Soccer (or, as we call it in the UK, Football :) ). AJ writes:Hi Mike,I'm already in the Olympus camp. I jumped in buying an E-M10 kit with the stock lens. After that I picked up a 40-150mm f/4.5-5.6 MFT lens and after that a used 4/3 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 non-SWD with an adapter. Using Manual Focus with peaking and High sequence mode I have managed to get good results by anticipating where play is going to be and then focusing there. However, I'd like to increase my keeper rate and not feel as though I'm missing shots by anticipating play. Most of the games happen under lights near dusk so I feel that a fast lens is a must. I'd love to say that my gear puts bread on the table but that's not true. So my question is what should my next investment be to help me:Better glass (OLY 40-150mm f/2.8)Better body that can better use the glass I already own (E-M1 second hand prices should dip a little when the E-M1 mkII is released)Something else?ThanksAJThanks AJ for your question. This is rather timely. Only last week my good friend Paul Griffiths and I were discussing how each type camera has it's place as a tool. Paul, being a Fuji shooter and myself, using Olympus of course, both agree that when it comes to professional sports photography a sports-oriented DSLR is probably still the way to go. I'll dive into the reasons why in just moment as part of my answer. But, to start I'll address each of your three points separately:1. Better Glass?When is there a reason not to get better glass? Well, in all honesty the answer is actually that you should be using the best that you can reasonably afford, with particular emphasis on the 'that you can reasonably afford' part. AJ mentions that sports photography doesn't pay his bills, which to me says instantly that AJ should be looking for good value in his lenses and equipment. That said, when it comes to sports photography we need more than just sharp glass. We've all come to know and love Olympus lenses for their sharpness, there is no doubt about that. Even some of the entry level lenses that could be considered budget options are able to resolve fantastic sharpness. However the difference these days between a top lens designed for a Pro and an entry level lens isn't just it's ability to resolve sharpness. That's more of a minimum requirement. The difference in fact is the quality of the components inside those lenses, specifically the motors and mechanisms that rotate and move the optics inside the barrel. Naturally more expensive lenses will use higher quality components, which, as you would expect work faster and more accurately. So yes, in effect the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO will focus faster than the lenses you've mentioned in your question and they'll stand a better chance of maintaining that focus too.Add to that the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO is a constant f/2.8 aperture and comes with a tripod/monopod collar and you're looking at a lens that is definitely more tuned to shooting soccer. That said, the lens won't make all the difference. In fact, a better body will likely be a smarter investment:2. Better Camera Body?The OM-D E-M10 you mention is quite similar to the other OM-D's in the range, however, let's be clear; sure it may be able to produce images just as sharp, but again, it's ability to maintain focus on a moving subject is going to be far more limited when compared to it's more premium brothers. Even (and especially) when compared to the now rather old Olympus OM-D E-M1. Aside from not having things like weather sealing, the area in which the E-M10 comes up short is that it only has contrast detect autofocus. So, when it comes to locking focus on a static subject in reasonable light it shouldn't have a problem at all, but the issue is when that subject is moving and light is less than favourable.You may have seen my motorsports images that I shot with the E-M1. There were some circumstances that allowed me to do this. For starters, the E-M1 itself makes use of phase detect autofocus, meaning it is able to better determine the subject by the distance between the subject and it's background and by what's moving. The E-M1 does this in conjunction with contrast detect; it will pick out the vivid colours of a car (or the lights on the side of a car in the case of Le Mans) and use that to help maintain focus. Above all that though, and perhaps most importantly the subject is moving in such a way that it is ultimately easier to photograph: the cars themselves are actually moving in a predictable motion; i.e from left to right and they're also maintaining a relatively similar distance to me throughout the entire panning range. Soccer, or Football and other team sports, whether that's hockey, Basketball, NFL football etc will pretty much all feature players changing directions and pace quite rapidly, which is why really you see the top sports photographers using those cameras with full frame sensors with a multitude of huge pixels making use of phase detect (often cross type I may add) focus points. Another factor is of course the multiple subjects. You will have players on the same team in the same colours both in the foreground and the background of your frame making it even harder for the rather limited focussing system on the E-M10 to determine which is the intended subject. Effectively cameras, such as the Canon 1Dxii and the Canon 7D are all going to lock focus using both the contrast and the distance of the subject and then be able to better maintain focus on that subject. They're going to far superior at shooting sports than the E-M10 (and E-M1) Which brings me to my final answer...3. Something Else?My answer to this last part is purely because your question talks about high school soccer. If you were shooting anything else, such as motorsports, weddings, portraits, macro work etc then sure, I'd tell you to keep at it and keep practicing, if you can reasonably justify an E-M1 and or a 40-150mm then go for it - it will help your cause.But, given that you're shooting soccer, I would advise you to go and hire, or even buy if you're that way inclined, an old Canon 7D mark 1 at least and see if you can get a telephoto lens to go with it. You'll be able to see the difference immediately. Your keeper rate will improve no end. Not least because of the more capable auto focussing system, but also because the optical viewfinder is simply faster at this point in time. Perhaps in future the EVF's we've all become so fond of will refresh just as though you were looking through the lens, like with a DSLR. For now though, using a mirrorless for sports will reduce your keeper rate.That's not to say that practicing won't get you some way to negating this. I found that with motorsports my keeper rate went up every time I went back to the track to make more photographs. Lastly, I would add also that even Fuji and Sony mirrorless cameras won't do the same job as a high-fps, crop sensored DSLR can do when it comes to shooting this sort of subject. I'm sure they'll be there before long though. At the time of writing and recording this post an announcement for the E-M1ii is just a week away, but right now, if we talk about using the right tools for the job, I think realistically the most instant way to increase your keeper rate when photographing a team sport such as soccer, is to pick up a DSLR.Your Results?I would love to see sample photographs of Football (soccer), NFL, Hockey or any team sport that you've made using your OM-D or O;ympus camera. Share a link below for us all to go and take a look at and I'll be sure to give you a shout out in the next episode.As always, don't forget to subscribe using the subscribe page to ensure the next time you're reading this blog, that it's in your inbox!
23 minutes | Aug 31, 2016
My Three Favourite Olympus Lenses
It's been a few weeks since I've managed to sit at my desk and write for the blog, but in that time over 50 of you have subscribed! Thank you to all you newcomers and subscribers. The reason for the absence was largely because I've been so busy and focused on shooting weddings. The wedding season here in the UK typically runs from April to September and this year has been my most hectic yet! With me shooting nearly every weekend and then post processing during the week, I've had to shuffle a few regular tasks around and give priority to the wedding work, naturally. I also had a bit of an accident where I was knocked off my bicycle too. Many evening's were taken up with Physio to get my shoulder back to a good place, when I would have perhaps otherwise been writing. So all in all, a busy schedule meant something had to give.At every wedding my Olympus OM-D E-M1 has been on-hand and has worked flawlessly every time.But, over the course of the weddings I have shot this year I've tried to refine what equipment I've had with me in the bag over my shoulder (and what equipment gets left in the other bag in the car). Despite using Olympus gear I still have to lug around a fair bit of kit including no less than 2 light stands that each reach up to 9 feet, a 40" Octabox, reflectors, flashes and constant lights. So, suffice to say the lighter my camera bag can be the better. It's for this reason I decided looked at which lenses I've used the most; those lenses that have earned a permanent place in the bag. I've even sold a couple of lenses as a result of this exercise too, including my 12-40mm f/2.8 and my 25mm f/1.8. More on that later in this post...Although my need to reflect upon which lenses I favoured most was borne out of my desire to work with only the essential lenses at weddings, I do feel that this list actually represents my favourite all-round lenses for any type of shooting situation. So, if you're not a wedding photographer, this post will still hold true for you too...Enjoy!1: 7-14mm f/2.8 PROThe 7-14mm f/2.8 is the newest addition to my lens bag and a lens that I anticipated for such a long time before its' release. As a wedding photographer and a keen landscape photographer too, an ultra wide angle like this makes up 1 of 3 of the 'Holy Trinity' of lenses; that being an ultra wide, a standard zoom and a telephoto zoom. In my favourite three here, I include 2 of the 3 lenses from that trio (with the 12-40mm f/2.8 missing out).The 7-14m is an absolutely amazing lens and scores very highly in every department: the build quality is second to non, its' super sharpness and ability to focus well in low-light make this lens very versatile.The effective field of view becomes a 14-28mm on an Micro Four Thirds sensor. It's a focal range that can help you to produce some massively creative and interesting photographs, results that perhaps a slightly less wide lens just couldn't offer (the 12-40mm f/2.8 for example). Here are a couple of shots I've made during 2016 using this lens. As with all wide angles, the key is often to pay attention to those things that need to be excluded from the frame, as much as what you manage to capture within it. Owing to the extremely wide field of view it's not uncommon that you'll find things sneaking into the frame that would have perhaps been outside of the frame were you shooting with a standard zoom or something slightly less wide.The 7-14mm pairs up wonderfully with the OM-D E-M1 in particular with matching build quality and performance. Thanks to its constant f/2.8 aperture it's a fast lens too, meaning it can be used in many situations only adding to its versatility.I've used the 7-14mm f/2.8 at weddings and find that the wider shots tend to give a feeling of grandeur to a scene. Think of large staircases and shots from low down on the ground - that wide angle perspective can help to give a feeling of huge by exaggerating things near the edge of the frame and stretching things out to make them look taller or wider (not a good thing with people mind you!) I wouldn't typically use the lens close up to a person unless I was intentionally looking to distort them. These two images show my typical use of a wide angle: The wide field of view also allows a photographer to capture more in the frame when you have less room to work with, making this especially useful in situations where another lens would have simply too narrow a field of view.As with many wide angles, flaring can be an issue if you shoot into a light source, but with this 7-14mm I embrace this. The flare and behavior of the light as it bounces around inside the elements can create a wonderful effect. For example (not an award winning image with that wonky horizon): Another trait of many wide angles and something that the nature of the Micro Four Thirds format 'enhances' is that it is susceptible to chromatic aberration, but with software like Adobe Lightroom, I rarely, if ever, consider CA an issue at all as it is so easily removed with only a few clicks. No layers or masks required!2: 17mm f/1.8The 17mm f/1.8 is the only prime lens to make it into my top three favourites, which is actually odd for me when I think about it because I feel that the Olympus bodies work especially well when paired with a prime. It really was a close call between the three primes I do use regularly; the 17mm, the 45mm f/1.8 and the 60mm f/2.8 macro. But, ultimately, the compact size of the 17mm, coupled with its stunning build quality wins it for me.With build quality you would expect from a lens upwards of £600 and sharpness that you have come to know from some of the most premium glass, the 17mm f/1.8 is an absolute bargain as well as a lens for many occasions. I am an advocate of the saying 'You get what you pay for', but so often is the case with Micro Four Thirds you actually get more than you pay (this is especially true in the case of the 45mm f/1.8 which just missed out on my top 3. I'll come to that later).The effective field of view equates to 34mm which is a focal range I feel really comfortable using. I've traditionally enjoyed a 50mm prime among my favorite lenses, but with the 4:3 aspect ratio of the MFT sensors I just feel sometimes that a photograph made with a 50mm field of view can sometimes feel rather square, whereas I much prefer a wider frame. It's for this reason that I sold my 25mm f/1.8 lens. It may not be an accurate thing to say, but the 17mm pairs up very well with the E-M1 and gives for a superb result. It's just how I 'feel'.You'll find that much of the work here on my website, in my street portfolio, was actually shot with the 17mm. Again owing to it's size it is often the only lens I'll take to the streets of London with me.The 17mm f/1.8 also has other features that really do help this lens to take the 'prime lens crown' (in my opinion) over the others from Olympus. Such as the fact that the minimum focusing distance is just 25cm (or about 10 inches if you prefer). This means you can get nice and close to subjects. When I'm shooting things like wedding cakes and details with this lens this technique can give for wonderful shallow depth of field whilst at the same time not giving that Macro look, which is a look I find works for me. Another benefit that makes this lens great is the very small front element. The size of the glass on the front of this lens is actually very tiny! Traditionally we expect the front element to be pretty much the same diameter as the lens itself, but because of the 17mm's near-pinhole size element, it means it's sturdy and tough and you don't find yourself constantly covering the front of the lens or worrying about it getting scratched. That makes this lens tough and ideal for many applications (street, weddings etc). Handy! 3: The 40-150mm f/2.8 PROThe final lens to make it in to my top 3 favorite micro four thirds lenses is my favorite of them all. For me the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO is something of a marvel: It packs the e
42 minutes | Feb 18, 2016
TWiP Street Focus Interview
If you listen to any photography podcasts you may have heard of TWiP (This Week In Photo). If you're a subscriber then be sure to check out Episode 74 of Street Focus with Valerie Jardin, where I was the guest! You can listen to the interview right here by using the player below, or head on over to the TWiP website, right here I regularly post my Sleeping Commuters to a handful of places online including my Instagram account, the Sleeping Commuters gallery here on the site and a selection of Facebook Groups. When Valerie saw the project she very kindly invited me on the show to talk about it.Valerie and I have both spoken a few times before via the internet, initially for my own Podcast; Ready Steady Pro and also back when I was a member of the beta testers for The Arcanum. I was on of the very fortunate people invited to test the platform and was a student in Valerie's 'Cohort'. So, knowing that whenever we've spoken in the past we've shared a few laughs during our discussion I knew that chatting about Sleeping Commuters with Valerie was going to be a lot of fun.
11 minutes | Jan 7, 2016
3 Photography Books to Inspire You for the Year Ahead (including Free Book!)
If you want to read this post then keep scrolling down, or if you'd prefer (and if you have headphones) click play below to hear me talk about the 3 photography books I've recommended right here in this post. If you're reading this in your mailbox you'll need to open this in your browser to list All over Facebook I see posts with quotes that I imagine are trying to be inspirational and thought provoking. Whilst some of these I believe are rules to live your life by: "You must be the change you want to see in the world", others I've pretty much got into the habit of skipping past. These inspirational quotes are becoming so common now that it's just my instant reaction to keep on scrolling past them.However, one did jump out at me recently: "Reading books is the way humans upgrade their firmware". Whilst to some this may just be another one of those quotes you skip past, it did make me think for just a second that when it comes to education and learning (especially with photography) some of the best lessons I've picked up over the years have came from books.Sure, blog posts (like this one I hope) can provide all sorts of useful and Interesting information, books still tend to contain some of the best and most thoughtfully curated information. I guess if they didn't they wouldn't go to print!The other advantages of reading books are huge - of course there is the benefit of learning from the actual content, but the act of reading improves your memory, reduces stress and can improve your language skills. We should all be reading more. So, with that in mind I wanted to share with you some of the books and eBooks that really have stood out for me over the past few years. Some of these books I'll read every few months to remind myself of technical information. Others I thumb through when seeking inspiration, whilst others are fantastic motivators and are almost, to an extent, self-help books that have the ability to help you coach yourself through slumps in creativity and confidence.There are thousands of photography and art related books out there, but here are my top three books to inspire, educate and motivate you for the year ahead:1. Gregory Heisler: 50 PortraitsI've mentioned a few times that I love this book. Visually this book is awe-inspiring. The portrait photographs made by Gregory Heisler are incredible: engaging, amazing use of light and composition and need no words to tell a story. Despite that though this isn't just some coffee table book packed with images: it's a fantastic read too: Great stories surround each set of images and Heisler also provides us with an insight into the thought process behind each image. The cover alone begs you to read this book! (image from Amazon) This book actually contains more than just 50 portraits. For example the portraits of legendary basketball player Shaquille O'neal actually include photographs of his hands (sounds odd, but you have to read the book to see how incredible the photographs are). His hands are of course his tools as a basketball player and through images like this Heisler thought about more than just a head and shoulders-type portrait in great light, he sought to tell a story through his images.This is a book that is not only a great read for the stories and what is written if you have the time, but as a book you can thumb through simply to look at the photographs themselves this is a book that will inspire you to raise your game to reach a new level and think more creatively.Well worth a read. This is first on my list for a reason and is, at this point in time, my favourite photography book.It's available both as an eBook (on Kindle) and a Hard Back. I bought the Kindle Edition with some vouchers I was gifted, but was then given the hard back as a present from my wife. The print version of this book does it far more justice and so I would recommend you pick up a hard copy and get away from a screen to enjoy this book in the format that it was intended to be read in. Print.Download or Purchase '50 Portraits: Gregory Hesiler' right here on Amazon2. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven PressfieldPersonally, (and fortunately) I'm not someone who has yet struggled with a serious creative slump or had any sort of crisis of confidence. That's not me showing off, some people in life are like that. I do occasionally feel criticism getting to me when it's venomous or not constructive but then I remind myself that people are going to hate on you and your work in the world of photography. So I move on. That's life!Having said that, when I started out making photographs I felt quite alone. Like I was the first person to be walking the path of frustration. Most of us experience that same learning curve where when we start out we believe we're close to learning everything we need to know (or with some people they think they already know it all). But, the more we learn, we realise how little we know and how much farther we have to go to get to the heady heights of those sitting atop the photography industry; those famous and legendary photographers that win plaudits & Pulitzer Prizes and accolades that many photographers aspire to.Well, If I had known about Steven Pressfield's 'The War Of Art' when I first started, I'd have realised as I do now that this process is very, very common place indeed and that nearly all of us go through these stages at various times and that we all, in our own ways, battle with ourselves and our own creativity. Pressfield's book is about our internal battles. How we are truly the only ones who can both motivate ourselves to achieve the incredible, all the while being more capable than anyone else of being the person to completely destroy our own motivation and give in to resistance. Having known about this book and possibly had I been more willing to acknowledge what I could learn from books at a younger age / earlier stage, it would have made me realise it was okay and natural to believe that wanting more and better gear was the key to becoming better. (which I'll talk about more with my next book recommendation). Although this book, in my opinion, is perhaps more aimed at those in the literary arts, this makes it no-less relevant to us photographers. Upon reading this book I have no doubt you'll immediately identify yourself as the person that Steven Pressfield is talking to. On page 63 of The War of Art, Steven writes (about being professional):Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. "I write only when inspiration strikes", he replied. "Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine O'Clock sharp."As soon as you pick up The War Of Art that passage will have more context. This book is full of gems and reads like a massive, entertaining kick up the backside to motivate you.It's not a huge book either. I've read this book a few times now and each time it's taken just two evenings from one cover to another.Just be sure to have a notepad to hand (or a highlighter if you're that way inclined and pick up the hardcover version)Download or Purchase 'The War Of Art: Break Through The Blocks And Win Your Inner Creative Battles By Steven Pressfield' right here on Amazon3. Ten Ways to Improve Your Craft Without Buying Gear by David DuChemin (Free to download)If you read any sort of photography books, then I'm sure that you've heard of Craft & Vision. A fantastic company that has pulled together some of the most talented photographer / writer / educators / business people to produce a variety of photography books. Some are aimed to educate us on the technical aspects of photography, whether it be lighting, getting sharper shots or even post processing, whilst other books are more business-oriented, like 'Ten Ways To Improve Your Craft Without Buying Gear By David DuChemin' The author of this great book; David DuChemin has a saying: "Gear is great. Vision is better". I asked David DuChemin about this when I interviewed him for the Ready Steady Pro Photography Podcast, and the premise is not to discount what better quality or even different gear can bring to your work, but instead to realise that your own vision and creativity is what will make the most difference and that that should come first. It's ourselves we should look to constantly educate, rather than looking to upgrade our cameras every six months for the latest and greatest.'Ten' is a concise eBook of just 18 pages. This book more than makes up for quantity with quality. In 'Ten' DuChemin provides us with 10 exercises to practise to improve our photography without the need to go out and buy more gear.Yes, with each image in this fantastic eBook David shares with us his settings and gear used; this is to help educate. As the years roll on and this book becomes older and older the lessons here only become more relevant as the camera used is a Canon 5D (mark 1). By today's standards many photographers would turn their nose up at such a camera, citing it to have not enough focus points or not enough megapixels. But the fact is, it's the photographer that makes an amazing photograph, not the camera.An easy read and one that you can pick up and put down after each of the 10 exercises to be consumed in bite-size chapters. This is a book not
10 minutes | Apr 28, 2015
My top 3 Inspirational photographers...and why
When I started looking at mirrorless cameras I naturally looked to find the best work that was being produced with the technology and looked for photographers using the system almost exclusively (or in some cases completely exclusively). I wanted to see what was possible with these cameras. Having opted to go the Olympus route, I started looking specifically for Olympus photographers who were pushing the OM-D's to their limits and beyond. I found a few photographers who still today remain quite inspirational to me, but all for very different reasons.In this post I want to share with you some of my favourite photographers shooting with the Olympus OM-D range of Micro Four Thirds cameras today. These guys were the proof, in my eyes, that this was a system capable of producing professional work. The photographers here in this post confirm what a great set up the Olympus OM-D system really is.Here are my top 3 Inspirational Olympus Micro Four Thirds Photographers:1. Neil Buchan GrantNeil is a photographer who I found by accident and whose work I love more each time I look at it. With the other names in this post I went actively seeking their work on the internet, Googling 'Best Olympus Photographers', but Neil's was a body of work I stumbled across long before I had my heart set on Olympus, but Neil's work was also what set Olympus apart from the mirrorless competition.Clean, beautiful and mesmerising. Neil's is a portfolio I go back to look through frequently and I always stop to admire each photograph in detail, rather than skip through quickly as is so easily done nowadays.Neil was the first Olympus photographer whose work I can remember coming across as it was a portrait of his being used to promote the Olympus OM-D E-M5 in many magazines and on many websites. At the time I hadn't realised it was Neil's, but after picking up an E-M5 and continuing the research I found the portrait again in a blog post titled 'The Olympus E-M1 takes Manhatten!'. This was the portrait that stopped me in my tracks: Photographer: Neil Buchan GrantModel: Irina Sosnova As you may know I host the Ready Steady Pro Photography podcast and after making contact with Neil online I knew I just had to get him on the show for an interview. I interviewed Neil for the Ready Steady Pro Photography Podcast back in 2014, in which Neil shared a great insight into his success as a travel photographer and his work photographing models and people in general. Don't get me wrong though, Neil does not make it into this list purely because he is a friend. Neil Buchan-Grant was always going to be the first name on this list!For me, Neil is a photographer who is setting the benchmark and is a shining example of what is possible with Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras. That said though, hand this guy any camera and I'm sure he'd produce gold every time. Which, is why I see the fact that Neil uses Olympus cameras as a seal of approval for me.Website: http://buchangrant.4ormat.com/ 2. Steve GoslingLandscape photographers typically go for larger sensors and lots of megapixels, but that naturally means bigger gear and more weight. The Olympus OM-D range lends itself neatly to shooting landscapes and no-one proves this better than Steve Gosling.Steve seems to have a knack for the 'epic': his work and his portfolio is simply outstanding and full of photographs that are executed to a masterful degree. Technically and creatively Steve Gosling is a photographer I look to, to be reminded exactly how a photograph should be made and also how a black and white should be processed! Steve's work without doubt could be considered as fine art, with his portfolio containing some very unique and very captivating mono landscapes, featuring contrasty and impactful scenes.I'm mad for black and white, as anyone who knows me will attest, which is likely one of the reasons why I'm drawn to Steve's striking and stellar landscape photography: Photographer: Steve Gosling Another feature of Steve's work is a beautiful sense of film that is rare in todays digital age. For me Steve's style and approach produce landscape photographs with a wonderful sense of atmosphere. There is so much to love about Steve's work, but at the end of the day it possess a special ingredient that I just can't put my finger on. A je ne sais quoi if you will (if I'm allowed to be so cliche). Steve's is a portfolio I can stare at for a great length of time and who's work I would love to have hanging on my walls as large prints.Website: http://www.stevegoslingphotography.co.uk/3. Thomas LeuthardI'd go as far to say that Switzerland-based Thomas Leuthard is a modern day great in the realm of street photography. A name I think that will be synonymous with the discipline in decades to come.Just as with Neil and Steve's work, Thomas Leuthard's photographs have impact and posses the ability to make you stop to look closer and inspect the scene. Sillhouettes, low key and beautful deep shadows are a feature or Thomas' portfolio, but expect to see some impressive street / candid portraits too: Photographer: Thomas Leuthard When you're out on the street with the camera it's not always the case that all of the right elements will fall into place for you to just capture a great shot, but Thomas seems to have a sharp and well trained eye for a story within a scene. Making use of textures, shadows, framing and reflections: there is always some more than just the image at first glance in Thomas' portfolio.With an almost Ansel Adams-esque feel to Thomas' work you'd be forgiven for thinking that work on Thomas' site wasn't produced by the man himself: it seems as though the scene is set and Thomas is waiting for his character to walk onto that set and he does...every time. The difference between Ansel and Thomas though is that all of Thomas' work is clean, sharp and crisp: a testament to the innate skill that Thomas has no doubt developed after hours and hours on the streets with his camera.A true talent with a body of work I find myself returning to on a regular basis. A benchmark for modern-day street photography has been set and Thomas Leuthard is the photographer who has done that.Website: http://thomas.leuthard.photographyWhat do you think?For more work from Neil Buchan-Grant, Steve Gosling and Thomas Leuthard be sure to visit their sites using the links in this post. Subscribe to the blogs, follow them on social media and keep an eye out for their work: these guys never fail to impress!CopyrightPlease note that all photographs featured in this post have been used with the express permission of each photographer. I would like to thank Neil, Steve and Thomas for their generosity in allowing me to use their photographs here on the blog!SubscribeFor more posts like this just subscribe to this blog! I won't share your information with anyone. 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