The most depressing month of the year is gone, finally. I spent the first week being sick. I had plans for that week, as I was off, great plans, but I had to stay on bed with a bleeding flu. On the music photography side, apart the cool photo shoot I did a couple of weeks ago with The Academic and the portraits for the Choice Music Prize 2013, I did nothing. No gigs, no fun. But, agian and thankfully, January is gone.
The only fun I had was testing my brand new camera, and I recently bought a couple of old manual lenses (but I'll talk about them in another time), and I took some photos with that, and I I took a couple of cityscapes with my beloved 6D. So, here we are with the photos I took last month, which you can find them on my flickr account as well, I hope you'll enjoy them, and feel free to leave a comment or a critique.
In the past year I started to take a few random photos, mostly street stuff, and put them into a set every month, pictures that probably wouldn't be related to anything specific like a travel, or a photo shoot or a gig. It's not an attempt to do any 365 project, as I know I would never be able to be that consistent, and rather than commit to something that, I know, I would never be able to accomplish, I prefer to do something less "demanding". And while in the past I didn't really pay that much attention to these sets, leaving these photos in some sort of limbo, now I want to give them a bit more exposure, and I'll try to post every month the picture I took in the previous month.
I kinda already started to do that in the past, but what I'll try to be consisted and post something every month.
Anyway, even if we are nearly at the end of January, I'll post the shots I took back in December, they are not many, and they are mostly made to test my brand new "portable" camera, the Fuji X-E1.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment with critics or even to say hello :-)
As per, what now is a, tradition, it's Meteor Choice Music Prize's nominees interview shooting time, and once again I can say that I survived the first day of shooting. And once again I had the opportunity to shoot some of the best irish bands, even if time is always tight, and I had maximum 15 minutes per band, not much, but once you have something clear in mind of how to shoot all these artists, it's not impossible to achieve. And this year I wanted to make my life easy, so rather than photograph the band in a random different places around the venue, I choose only one place, with the same setup for everybody, to have all the photograph consistent, or at least for these first batch, and hopefully I'll replicate the lights setup for the others.
Anyway, I don't want to bother you to what I've done today, but I just wanted to show you some backstage photos I took today, alongside some photos of a beautiful Dublin in the early morning, and a teaser photo (I can't publish anything for the moment) of the photo shoot.
A couple of weekends ago I was bored. Really bored. So bored that I forced myself something to do, so I decided to take a photo of my brand new camera, the Fuji X-E1. I was partially inspired by this article by Laya Gerlock, where he uses a black granite tile for some of his still life works, which gives great results on the cheap. But where the heck I can find a black granite tile in Dublin? Well maybe if I go to citywest I can find someone who sells it, but without a car going there is nearly impossible, especially if then you have to carry a piece of granite, which it's definitely not lightweight, and I didn't want to wait a week before even try to find something, so I turned on the little MacGyver inside my brain, and I found a similar solution, not as good as the granite, but somehow and with the help of Photoshop it worked.
Essentially I reused an A4 size black cardboard I bought for another photo I did in the past for a client, and on top of it I've placed a glass from a frame I had, and voit la! I had my black glass surface, not as good as the black granite, as the thin glass creates two reflections, one on top and one of the bottom, but still better than nothing.
So then what I tried was to use my backdrop holder with a bed sheet to use it as a background, but while I thought it was a great idea, it didn't work at all, simply because the bed sheet let the light pass through, so you lose part of the light and unless you use an heavy weight, or you iron the sheet, which I really didn't want to do at that hour of the night, it just can't create a compact and clean surface, it will be just full of folds and it wasn't just right, so I put back the backdrop and I used what I had to use in first place, the wall.
Once again I'm here to remark how important is post production in photography. I really can't stand people who claims that photos shouldn't be retouched from what is the "reality", term used by people with no background in photography to assume that what they shot with their expensive-but-still-in-auto-mode camera it represents the "real life". Once again, it is not. Reality it's the perception of what your senses comunicate to your brain, and most of the times what I call "blue" it might not be blue to someone else.
Someone blames Photoshop to have "altered" photography from what it originally was, but once again they just proved their lack in this matter, as even back to film photography there were tricks to edit photos, a lot of iconic photos that anybody knows from some of the most famous photographers were "edited", and if you are shaking your head and you still don't believe me, please take a read on this article on PetaPixel.com. What Photoshop did was only to make life easier to photographers, as digital sensor did in the past decade, it made photography more accessible to the masses.
Now, I want to make it clear that I don't want to sound like the guy who says "we'll fix it in post" all the times, that's wrong as well.
Photos must be well composed, well exposed and with the right settings from the very beginning, it's not a matter of press the button randomly and then fix it later. You should always think twice, at least, and check everything before pressing the shutter button.
So, as many of my friends, acquaintances, colleagues and others keep asking how I make my pictures, and because someone belive that it's just a matter to have the right camera, while it's clearly not, and actually behind some of my best photos there's always plenty of work made behind the screen of my computer, I wanted to show you how some of my best shots look like straight from the camera, with no post production and how they look after Photoshop / Lightroom, just move your mouse over the photos to slide between the before and after.
Here we are with the second part of my Best Of, and in this post will be loaded of landscapes, taken around here in Ireland, and a few from Creete, and some from home, in Italy. There are even a few from Connemara that I never published on the blog, alonside from cityscapes / street photography, something I really enjoy to do, even if most of the people I meet on the streets things I'm a weirdo or I'm trying to steal their souls. So, I hope you will enjoy them and if you want to give your opinion, please leave a message in the comments box at the bottom of the page ;-)
I don't generally talk about gear's announcements, I generally don't care most of the times, in my opinion zoom lenses like the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk II can stay on the shelves with that price tag, so why bother to talk about it? Well, this time it's different, as Sigma just announced a new redesigned version of their 50mm prime lens, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, and it's not just a change of the outfit, but a complete redesign of the lens, and after their amazing Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens and the really impressive 18-35mm f/1.8, this new 50mm has all the prerequisites to become the next big thing in the photography world, and even if I really love my old but still good Canon 50mm f/1.4, if they keep the same quality of the 35mm, I'll probably sell it to buy this new baby when it will come out. But for the moment it's better to wait for the first tests on the road, let's see if Sigma can go for the bingo.
If you don't own a 50mm, you should, especially if, like me, you take pictures at gigs, for music photographers it's a "must have" lens.
Now, I'm still waiting for a 24mm f/1.4, can we have it as the next lens Sigma? Pleeeease!
Ah, forgot to mention that they announced the 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary lens, but apart from very lazy photographers, who really cares about this lens?
And if you like to read pointless and meaningless press releases, it's down here:
LAS VEGAS– Jan. 6, 2014 – Sigma Corporation of America, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world’s most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, today announced the launch of two new Global Vision lenses from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The improved and redesigned 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM and 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lenses are the latest additions to Sigma’s Global Vision lineup. Both lenses’ availability and pricing have yet to be announced.
“These two lenses are among our most popular, and we’re pleased to reintroduce these products by adding them to our Global Vision lineup,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “The 18-200mm, in particular, is an exciting new lens as it now has macro functionality, updated optics and a Global Vision design, making it a fantastic alternative to the kit lens. As has been the case with our recent Global Vision lenses, we expect an array of photographers to gravitate to their technically advanced features and slick new look.”
The 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary lens, designed specifically for APS-C DSLRs, is the successor to the 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, which was launched in 2011. The smaller and lighter lens (15.2 ounces and 2.8×3.4 inches versus 17.3 ounces and 3×3.5 inches) now macro capabilities with a minimum focusing distance of 15.4 inches and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3, as opposed to the lens’ earlier minimum focusing distance of 17.7 inches and max magnification ratio of 1:3.8. Its minimum working distance is 14.7 inches, which makes the lens suitable for close-up shooting with natural light, keeping shadows of the camera and lens out of the image.
The 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Macro has also been updated to incorporate Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements that have a high refractive index and can correct chromatic aberration at the telephoto-end. Moreover, aspherical lens elements, including double-sided aspherical lenses, will ensure a compact size and excellent correction of distortion.
The new Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art has been reengineered and redesigned to set a new standard of performance in the Art line. A staple focal length, the new Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art is a pro level performer for full-frame DSLRs great for many different types of photography including portraits, landscapes, studio work and still-life. It has been updated to include SLD glass and optimized for rich peripheral brightness with improved large aperture performance by positioning wide elements into the front groups. Other updates include an optimized autofocus algorithm for smoother focusing and a floating focusing system to reduce lens movement while focusing. Under the Global Vision line, it features a new matte finish, improved AF on/off switch and guarantees every lens is tested with Sigma’s proprietary modulation transfer function (MTF) “A1” measuring system before being shipped. Now with 13 elements in 8 groups compared to the previous 8 elements in 6 groups, it also has improved close focusing at 15.7 inches and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.6
Both lenses incorporate Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) system to produce quiet, high-speed auto focus. In addition, they include Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting, and to ensure high-quality images throughout the entire zoom range. The 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM and 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lenses are also compatible with Sigma’s USB dock and the company’s Mount Conversion Service.
Other recently announced lenses and accessories such as the 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM, 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | ART and USB Dock will be on display at Sigma’s CES booth. Visit Sigma at CES 2014 at booth 10431in Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Jan. 7 to 10.
Just a few days before Christmas I sold my beloved Canon 7D. I was a bit sad to sell it as I really liked that camera and I took a lot of great shots with that camera, but after I bought my 6D, it was there sitting on a shelf and taking dust, alongside with my old Canon 50D, and it's a waste. So I decided to sell it, I generally don’t like to sell gear, I prefer to find a use for my old stuff, like my old iMac now is my (sort of) TV in the living room, which I use to watch movies on Netflix or Plex. I don’t use it very ofter, but it’s still useful. So, short story, I sold it, but the money didn’t last long, as I bought a new camera straight away, but not another DSLR. I didn’t need another DSLR, I’ve already my full frame Canon 6D with pro glasses and a billion of accessories, but what I needed was something that I could carry with me all the time, something light that can put in my bag and forget about it but with a DSLR-like image quality, a camera totally dedicated to street photography, maybe some casual landscapes, but nothing too extreme, as I’ve no intention to buy ND filters or other accessories for it, if I want to take more serious photos, like long exposures, I’ll simply use my full frame camera, which delivers top-notch quality.
The new year kicked in a few days ago, even if the some of you are still writing 2013 on dates, and at this time of the year it's time to draw a line and look back at what I've done in the past year. I've done loads of good proposition, I have a couple of photographic projects in mind, but I'll talk about them in the future.
So as a first post of the year I wanted to post which, in my opinion, are the best photos I took in 2013. Initially I wanted to do a single big post, but unlike other music photographers who mainly shoot only music related stuff, I do plenty of other stuff, like landscapes, street, portraits, etc... But at the end I don't really see the sense on putting music, landscapes and other photos in just one post, it sounds like a mess to me, so I'm going to split this "Best Of 2013" post in two or maybe three posts, and obviously the first of them will be the live music one.
They are just a chronological order, to be fair with any of the artists and to have this post by the end of this year.
Last time I was at home, back in October, my girlfriend found on her parents' room an old camera, a Kodak Instamatic Camera, a very simple camera, with only two settings, sun light and cloudy/tungsten lights, that's it. Then we noticed that there still were some spare shots in the film, and unsure if it was still working or not, we tried to take some snaps.
We had no idea of how old was the film, we only knew that camera was bought for my girlfriend's parent wedding, more than 35 years ago. So we took some pictures to finish the film, and a couple of days later we went to a local shop to see if they could develop the film. To be honest I wasn't even sure if they were able to develop it, as it was an awkward format, essentially a cartridge that you put in the camera and you remove it once you finish the film. I thought maybe the chemicals in the film were completely gone, who knows?
So a couple of days ago I went back to the shop to collect the photos, part of my mind was pretty sure that the guy had no photos for me, as probably the film was unusable, but I was wrong, and at the end we got 20 good photos, well, kinda. We found out that the photos already token were about 20 years old, taken at a picnic back in the middle 90s (maybe in May 1995), and they didn't really suffer from the age, while the new ones taken from us, obviously, as the film was expired a while ago, had a "hipster" look, a very hipster look, so hipster that in a few of them you can see only the shape of something, but still pretty interesting. So once I got back home I turned on the scanner and digitally saved these "jewels" from the past. Obviously these shots are far away from behing any kind of fine art photography, but still funny to see how things change over time, especially because my girlfriend was in both the old and the new ones.