Thursday, 5 October 2017

BJP IPA 2018

I've submitted my Lippy Ladies project to the British Journal of Photography International Photography Award.

The project was shot from September 2016 to September 2017. I used two Canon 5DII bodies with Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L, Canon 24-70 f2.8 L and Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS lenses. I also used a pair of Canon 430EXII Speedlites triggered by a Canon ST2. I used various reflectors and softboxes.
images were processed in Adobe Lightroom CC using my own preset.

This is the Artists Statement and images I've submitted.

People are the most interesting subject to photograph yet also one of the most difficult when it comes to capturing some essence of their personality.

So, with that challenge in mind, I decided to create a photographic essay.
 I ride a motorbike and, in spite of the common stereotypes held by the public, I know how varied individual bikers are. 
I put out a request on the web to the motorcycle community and received an email from the Chair of the Lippy Ladies, a female only motorcycle club based in the North of England. As soon as I met them, I knew I’d found my subject.

Over the next 12 months I photographed as many Lippy Ladies as I could, and over the time I got to know them, I also incorporated some south Yorkshire Lady Bikers as the two clubs overlap territory and members.

What I learned as I went along was, as Edward Steichen said:
 “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”

Meeting and getting to know the Lippy Ladies was a much bigger part of the project than the technique of taking the photos themselves, building that rapport with them has been vital to the success of the project.

Each of the Lippy Ladies has a fascinating story. These are strong independent women, Pilots, Engineers, Bike Racers, ex-HGV drivers, with varied backgrounds but all with one thing in common, a love of speed and motorcycles.

These women are quietly leading extraordinary lives, but with this project I hope to make them more visible and celebrate them as role models to other women – and also men – of all ages.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Canon 5DIV - first shoot

Just this week I received my Canon 5DIV. Today I had a brief window to get out for an hour or so and use it.
I went down to York Cemetary, as its an interesting old, predominantly Victorian, cemetary that is interesting to photograph and very quiet.

I took all my L lenses and a tripod so I could see how the touch screen worked and also test the Canon Connect App on my iPhone.

I'm pleased to say that everything worked as I hoped. The 5DIV proved to be much faster than my 5DII had been and the touch screen was an absolute joy, both for menu and for image taking. It is possible to have choice of either touch focus or touch focus and shutter release. Its easy to switch between the two.
The Canon Connect App gives all the functionality of the camera touch screen but on your mobile device. I found that this more than compensates for the lack of an articulated screen, I was stood several meters from the camera and was still able to operate the camera.

Using the camera hand held proved very familiar, the ergonomics are not a radical departure from the 5DII. What struck me most though was the AF system, it has more AF points, to be expected really, but I found selecting my AF point quick and easy with the stubby joystick on the back, and also now the battery grip, of the 5DIV. This makes the camera much faster to use.

Looking at the images in Lr CC back in the studio the focus was accurate and the detail from the 30mp files certainly a step up from the already excellent 5DII.

So far the 5DIV is everything I'd hoped it to be.

Weather proofing given a brief test

Monday, 11 September 2017

Canon 5DIV - very first impressions straight out the box

So, the 5DII have been sold, and a 5DIV bought to replace them.

First impressions as I unboxed it were that the 5DIV is better built than the 5DII, Canon have really upped the fit and finish, this is definitely the best constructed camera I've ever handled. It feels better made than both a Leica M240 and Hasselblad H5D both of which I have considerable experience.

The touch screen is an absolute joy to use, and the whole camera is very responsive to touch. The ergonomics of the 5DII were very good but Canon has refined this further with the Mk4 and every button falls neatly into place under a digit.  I also bought the battery grip which matches the camera body perfectly in fit, finish, and functionality.

Nice to see is the locking PASM control, I often found the 5DII PASM control has moved whilst being put in and out of the camera bag.

All my lenses focus faster than they did with the 5DII and the Yongnuo ETTL flash triggers work perfectly as well. I've only shot a few images indoors under mixed light sources but the images up to ISO12800 look useable if required.

Up until very recently I was satisfied with my pair of 5DII, the image quality was more than good enough, but then I bought an Olympus OM-D M5 as a second system and this terrific little camera together with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens was so nice to use with its fast and accurate AF, and OLED touch screen that I found myself using in preference to the 5DII more and more. However, I still loved the quality of the Canon L glass, good though the M.Zuiko is it can't compete with my 70-200m f2.8 L for portraits but finding the 5DII so slow to use it wasn't getting the use it should have been. 

Time for change I thought; do I get rid of the Canon system all together and get all the M.Zuiko PRO lenses and another OM-D M5 body? or replace the 5DII bodies? Going down the Olympus route would be cheaper, but at the end of the day good though the mFT system is I really like a full frame sensor for some work. And those L lenses are so hard to beat.

So a new 5D4 it was, I could only afford a single body, but my shoulders will thank me for that in the long run.

Early days yet, but keep an eye out over the next few weeks as I get to know the 5D4 a bit more.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Lippy Lady - Lindsey - Full Sutton airfield

Coming to the end of the 12 month Lippy Lady project.

This morning it was a most enjoyable shoot with Lindsey at Full Sutton Airfield. Lindsey is a commercial pilot, who used to instruct at Full Sutton.

I used the Canon 5D2 with the usual 16-35mm f2.8 L, 24 - 70mm f2.8 L and 70 - 200mm f2.8 IS L lenses as well a finishing off the shoot with a few on the Olympus OM-D M5 with M.Zuiko 12 - 40mm f2.8 Pro lens.

I used some fill-in flash triggered with the Yongnuo YN622C wireless triggers which worked faultlessly.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Expensive shoot

While I was on the beach at Aberffraw shooting St Cywfan I managed to loose the eye cup from the EVF on my Olympus OM-D.

It all still worked as before but its was not quite so comfy as the edges of the EVF are quite sharp.

So I went online to order another. There are no third-part ones available, not that I could find anyway, so had to buy OEM, £16.99 fuck me Olympus! That is outrageous for a small piece of rubbery plastic.

In the extremely unlikely event that someone finds the one I lost, and happens upon my blog, please contact me so I can have it back.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Mysterious image St Michaels cemetary Llanrug, north Wales.

I was in North Wales recently and on our way back to our hotel I thought I'd try to find the final resting place of General Sir Hugh Rowlands who was the first Welsh recipient of the Victoria Cross.

His family plot is in St Michaels cemetary in Llanrug not that far from the family home is Plas Tirion, Llanrug.

Rowlands' plot is quite easy to locate, its not far off the main path from the entrance gate.

The VC is clearly displayed on the monument. Sir Hugh, enjoyed a distinguished military career and lived on to the grand old age of 81, unlike a lot of VC recipients who get the award posthumously.

After locating the plot I took a walk around looking for some images, the grass was long and the purple/grey of the headstones with the mountains as a backdrop looked likely to provide the images I was after.

I started shooting and on one particular shot noticed that the Face Recognition on the OM-D kept overriding my selected focus point, I've not had the OM-D long and the Face Recognition was one of the features that really impressed me, it was so quick and accurate, as well as being able to tell which eye was nearest to the camera, so I though it odd that this was happening. I turned and composed another image, and the camera focussed on my chosen area. I tried the first shot again; as before the Face Recognition took over again and focussed on the same spot. I took the image as I was using a small aperture and thought everything would be in acceptable focus anyway.

When I got the files back home and looked at them on my 27"Apple TB monitor I detected something in the image.

What I saw is to the right of the ivy covered tomb.

Its probably difficult to see in web resolution so below is 100% crop.

Now i'm REALLY impressed with the OM-D face recognition!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Olympus OM-D-E-M5, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 PRO - National Slate Museum Llanberis

On the final morning of our short break I attempted to get some images of Dolbadarn castle, I took the OM-D and a tripod up to the castle but the light was flat and it was crawling with tourists so didn't yield any decent images.

We fancied a cuppa, so went to the nearby National Slate Museum, in the old Dinorwic Quarry works. entrance is free and its well worth a look.

I took the OM-D in with me and I'm pleased that these images reflect the industrial heritage of a bygone age quite well.

Processed in Lr CC.

Canon 5D2, HDR, 10 Stopper, every cliche in the book! St Cwyfan, Aberffraw, Anglesey.

Back home from our short trip and now I have the correct USB lead I could look at the Canon images on the big screen.

As a first attempt at using a 10 stopper I was reasonably pleased. I was limited to the 30sec max shutter of the 5D2, as I forgot my cable release so was unable to use Bulb. I think longer exposure is really required.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

St Cwyfan's church, St Michael's Llanrug, Llunau Mymbyr with Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 12-40 f2.8 PRO

Weather better today, clouds in the sky and no rain.

First stop was St Cwyfan in Aberffraw on Anglesey more popularly known amongst photographers as "eglwys bach y mor" or "Church in the Sea".

I'd checked the tide times and high tide was at 11:00 so I arrived just before and set up my Canon 5D2 with a 10 stopper on the 16-35mm f2.8 L II. (I've not processed these images yet so all images on this post are from my OM-D M-5.)

After making the images I set off for Ogwen Valley and Pont Benglog. Unfortunately there was not very much water in the falls under the bridge so the images are not that spectacular.

Stopped off quickly at Llynnau Mymbyr and took a couple of images with the OM-D.

I moved on to Llanrug and St Michaels cemetary. This is a very atmospheric graveyard with some old headstones.

Final destination was another go at the old garage in Llanrug, I've photographed it so many times but never been really pleased with the results, I only used the OM-D this time. Light was flat so not particularly pleased with the results this time either.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Eglwys Sant Baglan, Llanfaglan, Caernarfon, North Wales, Olympus OM-D E-M5- M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 PRO

Over in north Wales for a short break and a bit of landscape photography.

Got in late this afternoon, and after checking into the hotel thought I'd go out and find Eglwys Sant Baglan.

Unfortunately as I got nearer St Baglan what light there was deserted me and I was left with low white-out cloud and drizzle. 
Still, as I'd come all this way I thought I'd grab a few shots anyway and hopefully be able to salvage something in Lr CC later.

The church is now in the hands of the Friends of Friendless Churches charity and I found it was not locked, so though I'd try the OM-D at a bit of HDR.

I then attempted a couple of images outside but it the light had completely gone. 

One for another day.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Catherine - Lippy Lady - Higger Tor

Another Lippy Lady shoot today.

Into deepest Derbyshire to Higger Tor to meet with Catherine.
Weather was, let's say "challenging" windy, and occasionally wet.

Thankfully I had an assistant again today to hold the flash with the soft box otherwise it would have ended up in Castleton! 

I shot on the Canon 5D2 bodies with the 16-35mm f2.8 L, 24-70mm f2.8 L and 70-200mm f2.8 L lenses. 

Today flash was triggered not by the Canon ST2 but by Yongnuo YN622C and YN622C-TX radio flash triggers, these give all the TTL/Manual control that the Canon wireless kit provides but work with my Canon 430EXII Speedlites, which Canon's kit does not. And they cost £100 for two triggers and the controller. These units are not crappy reverse-engineered copies of the Canon kit, but well made innovative units in their own right and work beautifully, far more reliably outdoors than the optical triggered ST2.

I used the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the the 12-40mm f2.8 PRO for a few images towards the end of the session, triggering the flash in manual mode with the Ebay wireless triggers, which work really well if you don't need TTL. 

Again, really impressed with the OM-DM5/12-40mm F2.8 PRO combination, it is so easy and fast to shoot with.

Images processed in Lr CC as usual.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Lippy Ladies - Lisa and Linda

Out early this morning for a shoot with Lisa and Linda in York City Centre.

Weather was much better than when we originally tried to get together, lovely and clear, the type of light that shows York at its best.

As there was hardly anyone around and no traffic were were able to position the bikes pretty much wherever we liked.

I shot predominantly on my Canon 5D2 with the 16-35mm f2.8 L, 24-70mm f2.8 L and the 70-200mm f2.8 L IS. I also did some with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro. Can you tell which one of these was taken with that camera?

As the sun was still low I used fill-in flash for all these images, the Canon 430 EXII Speedlite was in a Neewer softbox ably held by Hannah,  my assistant for the day, fired remotely by a Canon ST2.
When I used the OM-D I fired the same Canon Speedlite set manually remotely using an Ebay 2.4Ghz trigger, it worked perfectly.

Really enjoyable shoot and Lisa and Linda were a joy to photograph, very relaxed in front of the camera.