Photographer Without a Cause

I love photography. All sorts of photography, from landscapes through street to portrait and boudoir, I love it all. I love the equipment and suffer regularly from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) for both digital and film mediums. I love the processing of digital along with almost all that goes with it. As you can see I really am quite passionate about it as a subject.

The problem is I'm a rather frustrated photographer as I'm a photographer without a cause.  I sit and read a lot about photography, a lot about processing photographs and a lot about the gear I really like. The problem is I don't get out as much as I want to (or need to) and when I do I don't really appear to see the photographs others see.

The problem is I'm not a street photographer, I'm not really one of those people who can wander a town taing photographs of random strangers going about their business, be it knowlingly or unwittingly.  I work from home so I don't have the excuse of taking photographs on the commute to or from work In any case. 

Likewise I'm not a landscape photographer. I don't really 'see the picture' before me much stood on the top of a hill and as for getting up before sunrise, we'll forget that!

I don't live in a picture perfect house where the light or subject is much worthy of a photograph. I don't live in a town or a quaint village that exudes beauty where photographs of note happen.

I find it particularly frustrating that I go out and don't shoot, I find it frustrating that I don't photograph the things I want to because I don't really know what I want to shoot. I pick any one of my cameras up at least once a day, I shoot crap photos around the house just to have that feeling of taking a photograph. I don't actually do anything with those photographs as they're not worth doing anything with.

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I constantly look to process my digital photographs looking for a 'look', a signature style I like. I have invested thousands of hours (and pounds) in tweaking and presets looking for that look and yet still it evades me - still I frustrate myself with how those photos look even if I like the subject material. 

So, I live in a bubble where I grab small opportunities to take photos I don't really want to, I'm almost forcing myself to take photographs, well just because.  I need a reason to be invested in my all encompassing hobby. I need a project which isn't taxing (which my 365 is proving to be), I need it to be challenging but still fun, above all else I need a cause.

Maybe I should do a course or two. Maybe I should invest in some training but where to start? Subject material, composition, processing?  Maybe at the end of the day I should just set aside time for myself and make some goals for what I want to photograph!

The Milliner

Louise Pocock is a bespoke Milliner based in Chipping Camden in the heart of the Cotswolds, here in the UK.  She makes custom, bespoke hats for both commission and general sale from her shop on the High Street.  

Stepping in to Louise's shop is like stepping in to a fine hat emporium.  Along with hats she has on sale, she sits behind her desk making her wonderful creations for clients in search of something perfect for them, custom made to fit as a hat should.  

Each step of the making process is done by hand, from the cutting through to the final stitch, creating wonderful masterpieces ideally suited to any head.

I was fortunate to spend a short time photographing Louise in her shop, with some members of a Photography group I belong to and whilst 5 of us were busy pointing our cameras at Louise and her wonderful work, she happily continued creating.

You can find out more about Louise's hats and services here.

Using your iPhone as an Everyday Carry Camera

I used my mobile for some light family fun photography one day this week as I was fed up carting about my camera bag and wanted to walk around without having to think too much about my camera bag or indeed my camera.   It got me to thinking if it's possible just to use it for everyday use rather than a small compact such as the Fujifilm X70 I've been using for a short while. 

The iPhone7 is a pretty capable camera on its own, the portrait mode actually works very well throwing the background out of focus nicely and keeping the subject in focus. It even tells you if you need to move closer or further away to maximise the out of focus area. 

A quick photo of my Daughter shot in portrait mode... pretty impressive stuff really.

A quick photo of my Daughter shot in portrait mode... pretty impressive stuff really.

I still maintain the quality of the Fuji X70 is so much better both on screen and in print, but hey if you don't want to carry a camera around with you as you do your phone, then they're a great option and with the myriad of camera apps such as Filmborn, VSCO Cam, Snapseed and others offering real processing power you can really use for phone to the best advantage and easily share on social media. 

Street Photograph with the iPhone, well I guess you could, right?

Street Photograph with the iPhone, well I guess you could, right?

For me personally, I think I'll stick to my camera for photography and my phone for the rest, but it's great to know it's in my back pocket if needed. 

Here's a few photos from a day in London, taken with the iPhone 7, lightly processed in Lightroom.

Foggy Days....

Having time for a quick wander out with my X-Pro2 this morning for an hour I could only really marvel in what was most likely the foggiest day of the year so far. It was one of those fogs that almost has a drizzle to it, but makes for really atmospheric photographs especially in black and white. Days like this really kind of bring home the beauty of the English winter weather to me, it's not freezing cold just a good chill in the air. No frost, just damp and cold.

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Smal Lightroom Presets Review

Since digital photography came along a lot of photographers have been looking to get that 'film look' to their photos or a look that's consistent across many of the photographs they take. Tweaking your straight out of camera photographs is the ideal way to find a style you and your audience like. I'm no different to these photographers and have spent a long time trying to understand, tweak and find a preset or two that I can use for my photography. Presets to some are a dirty word but I don't get this, it's all about finding the presets that suit you and your workflow and can help to define a signature colour and look to your photographs that enhance them. Admittedly some presets can be a bit over the top and take more work than needed, others just slot in and work pretty well.

Over the years I've amassed a good few different presets, both paid and giveaways and I'm still in search of that perfect look I feel would compliment my photography and offer a colour signature to my work.

Smal Presets I recently came across a Photographer, Sven Malojlo, who has released his own set of presets which on first glimpse look interesting. They are a bunch of presets that break down into 8 colour options and 2 black and white, along with a tonal pack for tweaking the colour and a toolkit for adjustments such as sharpening, grain etc. At just €44 for the set they represent great value.

First impressions of the Smal Presets are very good. A couple of tweaks here and there once you've clicked on the preset and you're good to go. For me, this is the perfect scenario. Whilst I accept there is always some post processing that maybe required, I don't want to sit in front of my computer constantly tweaking every option I need to.

Having used a number of different presets from the likes of VSCO, Mastin Labs, RNI Films and other well known preset makers, these presets appear to provide a perfect balance of work v usability. My standard preset has always been Mastin Labs, I like the colour profiles they use (Kodak, Fuji and B&W), but somehow I can't quite get my photographs to look just how I want them. Smal Presets on the other hand offer a great solution and being developed by a working photographer make implementation simple enough.

I’ve included photographs below with each preset applied, straight out of the box, one click with just white balance adjusted to suit. I’ve purposely used the same photograph as I think it shows the flexibility of each preset, rather than trying to find an image to suit the preset.

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I'm pretty new to Smal Presets, having bought them a week or so ago, but if you’re a Photographer looking for good quality presets for Lightroom (and/or Photoshop), then check out the range of Smal Presets, they’re definitely worth a look!

Link to Sven’s site can be found here - Sven Malojlo

Photograph shot with Fuji X-T1 and 35mm f/1.4