Thrilled to share that several of my images have been kindly recognised and awarded by the judges of the 2019 Black & White Spider Awards.
Honorable Mention in Advertising | The First Porsche Honorable Mention in Photojournalism | No To Brexit Nominee in People | Birdman Nominee in People | The Rose Nominee in Silhouette | The First Ever Porsche
Interestingly, all of the photographs were shot using my Panasonic Lumix S1, a camera I got at the start of the year, and one that has left me so impressed that I’ve shot most of my work using it (and it’s bigger brother, the higher resolution S1R). The lenses used were the Lumix S 24-105mm f4.0 and the Lumix S-Pro 50mm f1.4.
Honorable Mention in Advertising | The First Porsche
Honorable Mention in Photojournalism | No To Brexit
Nominee in People | Birdman
Nominee in People | The Rose
Nominee in Silhouette | The First Ever Porsche
The international jury comprised of representatives from Musee de l’Elysee, Lausanne; The Guardian, London; Contrasto Galleria, Milan; Travel/Discovery Channel, New York; Harper’s Bazaar, UK; Portuguese Center of Photography, Porto; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels; Silvan Faessler Fine Art, Zurich; ADK Creative One Inc., Tokyo; Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna; Conny Dietzschold Galleries, Sydney; and Pereira O’Dell in New York judged the 6,418 entries, received from 73 countries. Many thanks to the jury for their hard work and many congratulations to all who had their work recognised.
The raw files were processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic and the monochrome treatment finished off in either Nik Collection’s Silver Efex Pro or Exposure Software’s Exposure X4.
An Exhibition By Ealing London Independent Photography
HOME can mean different things to each of us. It can be a familiar place to rest after a long day. It can be a refuge. It may be more transient. ? Is it the comfort of familiar spaces? Or a place to figuratively lay your hat? Is your home in fact a result of not having a home?
The group exhibition is part of BEAT – the Borough of Ealing Art trail 2019. See below for details. Rickyard in Walpole Park. Hope you can swing by and look through a fascinating set of imagery.
The Rickyard, Walpole Park, Ealing, London W5 5BS. From 6th – 15th September, 2019.
Fri 6th, 12 – 7pm; Sat 7th & Sun 8th, 12 – 6pm Mon 9th to Thurs 12th, 12 – 5pm; Fri 13th, 12 -7pm; Sat 14th & Sun 15th, 12 – 6pm
My image was shot earlier this year on a pre-production Panasonic Lumix S1 and Lumix S 24-105mm lens. The raw file was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment finished in DxO Nik Collection, Silver Efex Pro.
Prints From The Online Gallery
Many thanks to our friends at Pixelrights for their continued support for the group. We have a gallery website where images from the exhibition can be viewed and prints are available to purchase.
Seven Weeks With The Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 (Pre-Production) Lens
“Mmmmm, this is going to be special”. This was what I said to myself as soon as I looked at the the very first test frame I shot with the lens on my Lumix S1R. Followed by, “Its so sharp!”. This was a very good way to start shooting with a brand new lens. In fact, a pre-production model at that, with early, pre-production firmware.
I felt rather honoured when Panasonic Lumix UK got in touch to see if I’d like to test out the unreleased S Pro 24-70mm f2.8, ahead of it’s global launch on August 28th, 2019, which was around 1.5 months away. Unboxing the generic brown box, cutting away the bubble wrap, revealed the new lens. I found out the lens had been carried by hand, all the way from Japan! I got out some black tape, covered up all the markings and began shooting.
It’s a bit of a special feeling knowing only a handful of people globally have seen the lens and I’ve been asked to test it and make images with it to be possibly used for the global launch. It’s also quite stressful, knowing photographs have to be made to not only showcase, but live up to every aspect of what was already proving to be a spectacularly good lens.
One of the characteristics that hit me as I begun shooting more and more, was that this wasn’t just a sharp lens, but it had something special. Pure clinical sharpness is ok for forensic type photography, but for being creative, for conveying mood, for sharing a story, one also needs gentleness, subtlety and grace. The rendering from this lens has all of that.
Generally, a 24-70mm f2.8, is a bread and butter lens; pretty much everyone will have one in their bag and it’s the standard professional zoom. Versatile, useful and a safe choice. What I found special though, was this wasn’t just a bread and butter lens. Where one may have a standard zoom for safety, one would also have a special prime with nicer rendering, for making those special portraits or creative shots.
Well, the S 24-70mm f2.8 has all of that. It’s truly special to have all these qualities wrapped up in one lens. Versatility and speed, but also beautiful rendering, colour, contrast, detail and well, a bit of poetry too. I found it captured light and colour beautifully and rendered a nicely soft background in out of focus areas. As much as I hate talking about this and using the word bokeh, it does have beautiful bokeh! (I need to add my dislike is purely based on people who only care about bokeh and nothing else, especially not the craft of photography).
It is chunky though. I felt the same way as when I first picked up the S Pro 50mm f1.4. Although I wished all of the S Series lenses could be a little smaller, just as with the S 50mm, as soon as I started shooting with the S 24-70mm, it justified it’s size and won a place in my camera bag. In fact, I pretty much didn’t shoot with anything else and seven weeks on, it’s always been mounted on either my S1 or S1R.
It just produces beautiful images and no matter what type of subject I point it at, it does as I ask and produces what I want. Fast to react and precise in rendering.
Super fast and silent AF, outstanding build quality and stunning optics. I have a feeling the scientific types at DxO Labs are going to enjoy putting this through their rigorous tests.
So please don’t read this small post as a review; it really is a quick preview. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Keep in mind though that this is a pre-production lens with early, non final firmware and so is definitely a pre-release lens. Yet, it helped make these images with grace. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final thing! If you have an L Mount camera, I suggest you try it too!
It’s been an absolute honour and a positively stress filled joy, to have been one of the three judges in the RAF‘s annual competition.
The Royal Airforce has trained some phenomenal photojournalists and I would say the top of that list would be Don McCullin, who signed up to National Service in the RAF as a photographic assistant. To be invited back for the second year to judge the work of McCullin’s contemporaries is indeed a special treat.
One certain way of knowing how high the level of photography is in any competition is by looking at how much discussion, heated debate and heart breaking compromise occurs between judges.
Well, I can say that this year, even more so than last year, the debates were passionate. Its also worth noting that Highly Commended places were optionally awarded by the judges, purely because the level of the work was so high and the competition was so close.
Judging of the 13 different categories of the RAF Photographer Of The Year Competition 2019 took place at the RAF Museum, in London. Jim Hedge (Picture Editor at the Guardian), Martin Keene (Press Association Group Picture Editor) and myself spent a day looking through hundreds and hundreds of prints. For the video category, we had access to view the entries beforehand and then spent around an hour together viewing our favourites and discussing the merits of our chosen favourites.
The Image Of The Year (Category L) was a great illustration of the skill of the RAF’s photographers. The winning image by Cpl Ash Keates, titled Concorde, grabbed my attention the second I saw it after entering the judging hall and it stayed with me. I later found it had had the same effect on one of my fellow judges too. A strong sense of composition, colour, technical perfection married to the subtlety of capturing the shadows left by the Red Arrows on the water, raised it from a great picture to a winning photograph.
The four images I’ve shared here show an absolute mastery of craft; bringing not only fast reflexes, but an art of composition, a deep aesthetic sensibility and layers of subtlety. Our task was to choose just one winner, but the work was so good that we decided to also award six Highly Commended places too.
The Photographer of the Year (Category K) was won by a superb portfolio of six images by Cpl Tim Laurence (ACSSU, RAF Halton). Another showcase of mastery of craft, with a varied set of images which worked extremely well together, yet each in their own right shone. Another extremely difficult category to judge with much debate and discussion as the level of work was so high. Cpl Laurence also had his phenomenal photograph titled Stargazer (of a Chinook at night) highly commended in the Image Of The Year category.
First place in the Video (Category D) section goes to SAC Ed Wright (Photo ACSSU) for Fortune Favours the Bold. Finland will be the host nation of Bold Quest 19.1 held in April-May 2019. Bold Quest 19.1 is a multinational joint fires interoperability demonstration and assessment event sponsored and facilitated by the United States Joint Staff.
The People’s Choice-Vote Now!
During the judging process, these nine images made it to our People’s Choice board. Have a look at the stunning photographs and make your vote (It’s a quick, one click vote).
Behind The Scenes
It really is a joy talking about great images, championing favourites and being treated to so many great images. Many congratulations on all the winners, all who were highly commended and my best wishes to all who entered their fantastic work. I’ve only shared some of the winners here, but do pop by the RAF Photographers’ Instagram to see more work. You can also find them on Facebook.
Here’s a video prepared by the RAF, part of which is a behind the scenes look to the work done by their photographers and also gives a glimpse of the judges at work.
Inauguration of Lumen, the Museum of Mountain Photography, at 2275m, perched atop Mount Kronplatz-Plan de Corones, South Tyrolean Mountains and Dolomites, Italy.
The highs and lows of photography? Well, in this case, the very highest of highs of photography, in the highest museum dedicated to mountain photography, at 2275m. Part exhibition venue, part museum, part architectural magnificence and part a fabulous place to eat, Lumen was for me an illuminating visit to a very unique place.
Uniquely, one can visit the four floors, exploring 1800 square meters of phenomenal mountain photography, then step outside and try one’s own hand at photographing the splendid views from Kronplatz mountain, situated in the Pustertal Valley, South Tyrol, Italy. The sights of The Dolomites and the Alps is breathtaking.
Not only layered landscapes but also some action shots of free falling paragliders, mountain bikers or the more sedate pace of hikers exploring the trails or the beautiful mountain flowers. I have to say that my nine hours didn’t feel enough as I wanted to continue taking in all that was on show at the museum and also make my own photographs around the magnificent venue and the views and opportunities for imagery.
Lumen is possibly the most inspiring museum I’ve been to. It’s been thoroughly thought out, beautifully designed and curated with taste and aesthetic depth. As an outsider to the world of mountain photography, my mind was opened when presented with so many aspects of imagery about the subject. Mountaineers, climbing shots, shots from the summit, images of record, all shot in a documentary way, showing the amazing feats, but also beautifully creative images of mountains in the landscape. It’s fascinating to see how mountains are perceived by different nationalities or beliefs; places of freedom and leisure, holy places, symbols of ideology. Nature, culture and symbolism.
Even the elevator has been creatively designed, with a glass back looking at a giant, four floor Lightbox, showing a journey from the valley to the peak of the mountain. Beautifully conceived and executed. Get in, press level three and start from the top. One Starts the journey by looking at the work of the pioneers in mountain photography. There is a section dedicated to the changes in photographic technology, starting with the earliest of cameras from 1840 and moving through the eras to digital. Many nowadays would have ever seen a darkroom, so I was thrilled to see a darkroom set up, along with three trays showing the steps in the development of a print, all done digitally, so no chemical stains or scents in this darkroom, just knowledge and experience.
Along with the more traditional prints, there is a lot of innovation throughout the museum. Everything from Virtual Reality headsets, allowing the visitor to experience the mountain, through to an action packed audio visual room showing the thrills of the sport of climbing.
One of the most interesting rooms to explore in a fully immersive way, was the Speigelsaal with its mirror walls, floor and ceiling. One huge wall was a screen showing images of mountains, which were then infinitely reflected through the room.
To add to the fascination, visitors walking around can see each other, or catch their own reflection, in a floating through time and space kind of way, defying gravity and hovering over a continuous montage of scenes. For those into selfies (and yes, I did take several!), this may just be the best location on the planet to do a self portrait.
The “Shutter” is a particularly impressive concept; a huge room with a floor to ceiling, circular focal plane type shutter which can be open or closed and therefore can be used as a projector screen when closed. When open, it’s a beautiful place to view the nearby mountain ranges and landscape from. A shutter through which to view and with which, to project what was already captured.
The artist in residence up to December 2019 is the supremely talented and fascinating photographer Kurt Moser, who along with project leader Barbara Holzknecht, forms Lightcatcher. There is a room dedicated to his wonderful ambrotype portraits, a film showing his workflow with this amazing technique as well as a “tiny” large format camera.
I say tiny as Kurt’s smallest regular use camera is a vintage large format Multilith Camera (USA) made in 1907, with a Charles Beseler Company 18” f3.6 lens, which when fully extended measures two meters. He calls this camera “Baby” and it can create ambrotypes up to 50x60cm.
The three meter “Lady in Red”, is the new camera which was purpose-built for Moser’s ongoing project on the Dolomites, following concern of putting the vintage baby camera through gruelling trips in the mountains. This supports both the square 90×90 cm and horizontal 90×55 cm formats. His next camera will be built into a vintage, six wheeled Russian military truck. Using an extremely rare Apo Nikkor 1780 mm and Leitz Epis 1000mm f3.5 lens, for photographing landscape images on black glass.
Kurt Moser says of the residency, “the artist in residence program of the Lumen Museum is very important for us. It is a relevant step on our way to Berlin where in 2021 we will have our big Unesco Dolomites Solo Exhibition at the Museum of Photography. The Lumen is our first exhibition and gives us the opportunity to make the ambrotype and its very special visual language accessible to a large audience. We also have videos in the Lumen which explain the procedure of ambrotypes to visitors, sharing this ancient technique. Of course our theme, the Unesco Dolomites, fits perfectly into the concept of the museum too!”
During the inauguration event, Kurt Moser did a live demonstration with “Baby”, making an ambrotype portrait of television presenter Max Moor. For the gathered crowds, the portrait was posed and lit, with the camera then being focused. After this point, the sitter had to remain completely still whilst the team rushed to their mobile darkroom to coat the glass plate with a collodion solution, which is then rendered photosensitive in a silver bath.
The prepared plate has a shelf life of only around five minutes, during which it must be processed and fixed. The coated glass plate was then rushed back into the Lumen Museum, placed in the camera and the lens cap was removed, allowing the nine second exposure. The plate was then rushed back into the mobile darkroom and processed, with the fixing stage being done outside the van, to the delight of the gathered crowd.
Once you’ve explored the museum, I can’t recommend highly enough popping into the “AlpiNN” restaurant, which combines culinary delights with the most stunning view. Even the mountain water is a sensory delight.
The summer season will continue to 13 October, open Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), between 10:00 to 16:00. Do keep in mind that the last cable car down is at 17:00! Find out more at https://www.lumenmuseum.it
A bittersweet email from the British Journal of Photography and 1854 Media Awards let me know that “…your entry made it to the second & final round of judging, we regret to tell you that your image has not been shortlisted on this occasion”.
Still, nice to make it that far! Rather than the work remain unseen, thought I would share my Portrait Of Britain here and show the ten images I entered for the awards.
Many thanks to the judges and many congratulations to those shortlisted.
Camera and lens details can be found in all the captions below. All raw files were edited and processed using Adobe Lightroom Classic and finished off in either Alienskin Exposure X4 or Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro.
Great to see the L Mount shaping up and the L Mount Alliance going from strength to strength. I was at Sigma UK’s Made In Aizu event earlier today and as well as being treated to wonderful aspects of Japanese culture in the way of Geisha performances of traditional Japanese song and dance, wonderfully delicious varieties of Sake from Aizu, it was great to see 11 prototype L Mount ART lenses from Sigma. Sigma will have 10 fast aperture ART lenses and one macro by the end of this year. The 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 will be first and are due within months.
This year Panasonic Lumix will launch a 16-35mm F4, 24-70mm F2.8, 70-200mm F2.8 along with 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters. Next year will bring a super telephoto, a macro and at least another fixed focal length lens. The scheduled lens line up for the L-Mount by the end of 2020 from Panasonic, Sigma and Leica will stand at a staggering 42 lenses. From what I’ve seen so far from all three manufacturers, most of these are going to be world class lenses. We’re certainly in for a treat!