Donnerstag, 17. November 2016

Street Photography without people in the shot?

Sure, there are even cats and dogs to be photographed (just kidding). But think a bit out of the box. Sometimes things can be seen in a different way. You don't need to take shots of people walking on the street make to call it a "street shot".



In the shot above I just photographed the shadow of a man walking down the steps. So there is no real person in the shot, but the shadow tells a story that looks even more interesting. This is just one example of how you can play with your with a scene.




The same thing here. Lines, strong contrast and a cyclist riding upwards. The real scene was not that dramatic.


And sometime a backyard can help us seeing mankind from a philosophical standpoint ;-)

Try to think a bit out of the box...or just forget what your have learned!


It is hard to unlearn things but after a while your photographic style (composition, exposure, lens etc.) will become daily routine. And then you might eventually miss a great shot or loose interest because it is becoming boring. To avoid that I suggest to do some exercises to unlearn things and break out of the daily routine. I know that many photographers say that your should always word with the same focal length etc. to stay focused and consistent. I personally love to switch things and try something new from time to time to avoid boredom and try to make a glimpse out of the traditional box. And it could be also a question of your type of personality.

Maybe you need a little break from your routine and the perfect time to start with it is today!

Cheers,

Nils

Donnerstag, 10. November 2016

Do I need the new Fuji XT-2?

A good question that can't be answered in one sentence.


Is this your first Fuji camera?


Then buy it if you have the money. If you don't need the updated auto-focus system and the extra pixels your can also go with the XT-1 or XT-10.



You are coming from the XT-1


There is only the auto-focus and the extra pixels. The higher frame rate and better video can be a game-changer for some people. But the display of the older models is good enough, trust me!



You are looking for a mirror-less for shooting moving subjects (sports etc.)


The new XT-2 is great for you. With the optional battery grip it has more juice for higher frame rates. If you can trust the most reviews out there the performance is good enough for most occasions. If you're a professional sports photographer you still should go with a DSLR. No mirror-less camera can beat this system today.



Do I need the latest camera body from Fuji?


Not really. But this is not the strategy. Photography is about taking great photos and learn about composition and light. You can still create outstanding photos with a forty years old camera and a roll of film. But there is some thing I recommend to spend more money on: lenses. The best camera body in the world is useless without a good piece of glass in front of it. Most of the time it is more useful to invest your money on better lenses and Fuji and Zeiss have some great products in the product portfolio. If you're a landscape photographer you also might spend some money on high class filters or a professional tripod. Don't think that a newer camera body will solve your problems.

Cheers,

Nils

Mittwoch, 26. Oktober 2016

Do we need lightroom for all our images?

Lightroom can do a lot for you and it is a professional tool to develop and manage images. Today's cameras have the ability to transfer photos wireless to your smartphone via an app. With my Fuji cameras I use this feature a lot when I am on the go. After the download I use apps like snapseed (you can do a lot of things with this free tool) to tweak the contrast and some other aspects of the image. The colors come from the color profile I attached as I developed the raw file in-camera.



The results are outstanding when it comes to sharpness and color. Most of the time I only had to tweak the contrast or add some warmth to the image. I know that you have more precise options at your calibrated workplace at home...but man, the results are so good, I often prefer to upload them to instagram than the versions from lightroom. This is not a rule of thumbs for all photos. When I do landscape, stills, architecture or portrait photography I prefer to have more possibilities with professional software. But when I do street and travel photography a lot of photos just wander through my smartphone into the web.


I love this way of editing your photos very much. I suggest you to own an android phone with the ability to tweak all display settings (I own a Galaxy Note 3 with a custom rom). That allows you to calibrate the display to match the big screen at home. If your camera doesn't have wifi - like my X100s - then buy a cheap card reader and connect it with your phone (android wins here again) and download the processed photos to the phone.

Trust me. You will be blown away by the good results. The camera manufacturers know how to develop JPGs right and Fuji is an expert when it comes to an outstanding OOC experience. Look out for a nice café and enjoy your pocket size editing studio at the size of your palm.

Cheers,

Nils


Freitag, 7. Oktober 2016

Concert photography with your X100

I always have a camera with me (at least my smartphone) and I took my X100s to a "the rifles" concert yesterday in Hamburg. The light was very dim and the room was small and packed with people from door to stage. The X100s has only a 23mm lens and I was standing in the sixth row. The challenge in this situation is to capture not only the artists on stage. In such a narrow space you can also create very close images to capture the magic of the moment. I set my cam to an ISO value of 6400 and a shutter speed of 125 of a second. And then I just fired away. I did not care about the results.


When you shot low light and very high ISO the images become a bit blurry and grainy, but bear in mind that no one looks at photos in a hundred percent view. The contents of the photo are important, not the quality. This is not fine art photography! The photo above was shot with wide open eyes at f 2.0 to add some depth from the crowd to the stage. The light from the right creates a great mood and the audience becomes a part of the whole thing showing how dense this place was. I also love the hat of the guy in the right on stage. It is a visual anchor in the whole image.


Motion blur is also great to create some movement and emotion. It is not always a sign of bad photogrpahy. This guy was touched by the music clapping his hands.


In my conclusion a fixed lens camera like a X100s is a good companion for concerts. You have to move and you can't do the same stuff like with a telephoto lens, but if you try to do more reportage style photos the results can reflect the emotions at and around the stage. The limiting factor of this camera can be a huge advantage.

"We believe in limited resources, don't we? Absolutely. I'm dead keen on limiting resources." - (Delia Derbyshire)
Cheers,

Nils

Mittwoch, 28. September 2016

Do you have a philosophical approach to street photography?

Why are you doing it and what are the feelings behind the thing you do? There are a thousand questions on my mind when I look at my photos and try to reflect on the whole thing. Many people see photography as a technical things where you need skills and knowledge about gear to take a photo. Sure you need that skills to have your settings etc. right, but the questions above are still unanswered. The missing link is the philosophy behind the things we do. It helps us look at the whole thing and helps us finding out why are we doing certain things (or not).


Street photography is a very philosophical style of photography for me. It is about taking a different position as a viewer or director and there is no second chance to take the same photo again like in a studio setting. For me it is a combination of wanderlust, curiosity and meditation at the same time:

Wanderlust

Walking around and let things happen around you. Exploring new streets and places without any urgency or being in a hurry. Walking around keeps you healthy and is the perfect refreshment for your soul.



Curiosity

"Stay foolish, keep hungry" like Steve said back in the days. Finding strange situations in a mundane place or situation. Turning things upside down. There are so many ways to discover new things every day. This is where you becoming the director. Don't forget that every photo is lie because you are the director who decides how the result will look like. If you change one setting or your angle of view the whole thing becomes different.



Meditation

Get lost as a viewer. Just observe and don't interfere. Let things happen and enjoy the scene in every detail. This can become a kind of meditation and helps you seeing the world with different eyes. There is only one moment called "now" and you are part of it! Ignore smartphone and time and look at the surrounding world through the frame lines of your camera and get lost...



But why are you doing it?

This question could not be answered to your fully satisfaction, because the is no final answer. For me this kind of photography is about curation, sharing and pleasure. I capture images to show later generations how we lived and how everything looked like in the streets at a certain time and I also enjoy capturing life in all it's strange, meaningful and hilarious details. And I do it for my own pleasure. This is a very important point, because you should be the first impressed viewer of your visual content. I don't want to take photos that are meant to satisfy the taste of the masses to get a million views. It is not important how much people like your work if you are satisfied with what your are doing. If other people like your work too you are a lucky person!

So take some time and think about your style of photography and what it means to you. I also suggest to read some philosophical books to get some inspirations and views.

Cheers,

Nils

Montag, 19. September 2016

Sport photography with your Fuji X-T1

A lot of people on the web are writing about the new AF performance of the new X-T2 and how good this camera will perform when it comes to fast moving subjects.

Yesterday I had my old trusty Fuji X-T1 hanging around my neck with the Fujinon 55-200 mm attached to it. I love to use this combination when I am out in the wild or - like I did yesterday - at the beach. It gives you a good range from normal to telephoto and helps you to compose your shots under changing conditions when you are for a walk like my wife and I did.


After composing some dense shots like the one above I spotted some kites in the sky and by following the ropes down to the ground I saw some guys with surfboards. Usually I don't do much sport photography, but the setting and the light was perfect.


I dialed in a fast shutter speed and a wide open aperture going into the maximal focal length of 200 mm. I also activated the continuous AF and drive mode to get some material to choose from. I took plenty of shots hoping for the decisive one in the pile of images. I also tried to create some kind of visual storytelling. This helps a lot to get into the mood and gives the viewer some more information around the main activity.





These shots are the result of a quick and dirty fifteen minute session and show how great even the old X-T1 (and the 55-200 zoom) can perform in such conditions.

Cheers,

Nils