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.
Thrilled to have two of my photographs selected by the curators of the BPPA’s (British Press Photographers’ Association) tremendously powerful and not to be missed, Assignments 2019 exhibition. The show is beautifully curated and thanks has to be given to the talented team of curators, comprised of some of the brightest beacons in the photojournalism industry. Many thanks to Tom Stoddart, John Downing, Nikki Sutherland, Lawrence Lustig and Julie Edwards.
At the private view of the exhibition, it was an absolute joy to meet Fleet Street’s legendary press photographer John Downing for the first time. He had been a huge inspiration for me and my ethos of never being without a camera came from reading about his work. When a colleague pointed out my photograph (The Joys Of Life), it was an absolute honour to hear him kindly praise the image, saying it was one that he had chosen personally and to hear his kind compliments about the composition, timing and light, pushed me to blush!
This photograph was made on a Panasonic Lumix G9 and Leica DG 50-200mm lens. The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment was finished in Nik Collection’s Silver Efex Pro on an Apple Mac Pro and fully calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
The second image kindly chosen by the curators was of a homeless man, seemingly passed out from wine, after another hard day on the streets.
The photograph was shot on a Sony RX1RII camera. The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment was finished in Alienskin Exposure X3, on an Apple Mac Pro and fully calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
The photograph was made on a Panasonic S1R and the S24-105mm lens. The raw image was converted to a DNG file using Adobe’s Raw Converter (as Lightroom hadn’t yet released support for the S Series, which is has done since). The Raw DNG file was then processed in Lightroom and finished in Alienskin’s Exposure X4, on an Apple Mac Pro using calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
Probably the most moving, revealing, honest, soul shaking and tear jerking talk I have ever been to, was last night’s event at Kings Place. Photojournalist Don McCullin opened his heart and shared his soul in a way I’ve only ever known from the very closest of friends. To say it captivated every ounce of my being would be putting it mildly.
Photojournalist Don McCullin shares a story from the Vietnam War, during his conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, UK. 24 April 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Without doubt, Don McCullin is one of the very greatest photographers of our time. He was in conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane OBE, as they discussed McCullin’s 60 year career, covering his extensive work in war zones across the world, his documenting of poverty throughout Britain, as well as his more recent, therapeutic landscape photography.
The evening though was made unforgettable by hearing, nay, feeling, the inner most thoughts and emotions of a journalist who has dedicated his life to showing the injustices suffered by many.
The Preoccupation With Gear
As the talk came to an end and I collected my emotions, it came as the biggest shock to hear the first question:
“What’s your favourite film stock?”…
Astonishing that the whole emotional and intellectually challenging rollercoaster ride of pure, uncensored heart felt emotions, dotted with the very best of the “stiff upper lip” humour as a temporary escape, a member of the audience’s only question was about the type of film used.
To think that the power of McCullin’s images have anything to do with the brand of film used was as astonishing as it was infuriating. McCullin of course answered patiently that it was Tri-X, but followed with his own question of “Let me ask you something; why did you come here tonight? What were you expecting?”. There was no cruelty in the question, just a genuine wonderment of why after his outpouring of emotion about the human condition, that the only thing thought worthwhile asking was about film. Of course there was no answer from the chap and the questions continued, thankfully about the actual work, not film, aperture, shutter speed or cameras.
Don McCullin’s words, on the wall in his retrospective at the Tate Britain.
During the talk, McCullin did share that sadly he felt that none of his pictures made a difference. Decades of wars continued, captured by his mastery of seeing and he moved onto wars which he didn’t cover. The futility in his voice was exceptionally moving. Thankfully, the final question of the night was as wonderful as it was powerful. A lady thanked him for his dedication and work. Saying that whilst when he was at school studying history, he didn’t have the advantage of seeing pictures by Don McCullin, she had the tremendous advantage of studying history and seeing the photographs by Don McCullin.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I take a huge interest in the equipment I use for my work, be that professional assignments and commissions, or personal work. However, this equipment is the tool which helps me create. Its part of the beginning process and not the be all and end all in my photography.
Photography has, what I think is a unique peculiarity about it. When some people look at an amazing photograph, they immediately jump to asking what camera and lens is used, or in the case of this chap from last night, what film was used. However, if the same person has a great meal in a restaurant, they would never ask the chef about the make of pans used, and the model number of the cooker used. When has anyone asked a great author about which pen, typewriter or word processor they used?
Its great to have nice gear. For me, when I started out as a photographer, I had an aperture priority only camera called the Nikon EM. It was great and I loved it. However, I outgrew it relatively quickly and I would miss photographs or not be able to craft them the way I had envisaged, because of it’s inadequacies. My second camera, a second hand, original Canon F1, had a terrible focusing screen and a stiff lens, which meant focusing became an issue when speed was of the essence. At that stage, as I began my career on my first local paper, the Ealing Gazette, I vowed that I would as much as possible, buy the best equipment I could, as I never wanted to miss a picture because my equipment wasn’t capable enough. I never wanted to blame my tools. I should take the blame, learn what I did wrong and improve.
Looking at photography, especially for those who enjoy this as the most wonderful hobby, or even those about to take the road to becoming a professional, I have one piece of advise; recognise the camera as a tool, for making wonderful imagery. Invest your money after having bought a decent camera and lens, at the beginning stages, into learning about photography. Books, exhibitions and articles written in proper, established photography magazines as well as magazines and newspapers which use great photography. Blogs and YouTube videos by self appointed gurus and influencers will do nothing for improving your photography. Search out workshops by real, proven photographers with real track records, not fake robot followed Instagram accounts by self appointed ambassadors. Photography becomes so much more joyous and interesting when one starts to invest time and money into the craft, rather than just the gear. The gear will always be there and once you know how to craft an image, then getting better gear and more lenses will elevate and not hinder your photography.
Mindfulness, intelligence and emotion, mixed with an aesthetic, a sense of timing and an understanding of the situation, makes the photograph. I’ve found that when a photographer genuinely starts to understand photography, then they truly appreciate the ability of their tools and this then elevate’s their imagery. It’s a long term thing and results in a life long love of photography. Those who just see the gear as being the important thing, will get lots of kit, get disillusioned quickly and leave photography. Play the long game is my advice.
Incidentally, if you haven’t yet seen his retrospective at Tate Britain, I can’t urge you strongly enough to catch it before it closes on the 6th of May 2019.
Very happy to share that one of my images has won second place, a “Merit Of Excellence”, in the Professional Category of the Silhouette section, in the 12th International Color Awards. The image was kindly chosen by judges from 7241 entries, from 79 countries.
Many congratulations on all the other winners and nominees and my thanks to the judges for their hard work.
It was shot on my Panasonic Lumix G9 with a Leica DG 50-200mm f2.8-4.0 lens (giving an equivalent of 100-400mm). The raw image was processed using Lightroom and finished in Alienskin Exposure X4 on my Mac Pro, using calibrated Eizo CG monitors for colour accuracy.
Absolutely thrilled to have attended the private view of the exhibition and the prize giving last night of the British Life Photography Awards. I was overjoyed to find one of my images had won the Life At Work category and I also had three other images commended by the judges.
The winning image and commended images can be seen on my previous blog post, along with details on the Panasonic Lumix, Leica M and Olympus OM-D cameras used.
The exhibition is on tour at these venues (check opening times locally):
Mall Galleries, London 18th to 23rd February 2019
Banbury Museum, Banbury 16th March to 12th May 2019
The Garden Rooms at Tennants, Leyburn, North Yorkshire 20th July to 3rd September 2019
Redbrick building, Glastonbury, Somerset, 14th September to 13th October 2019
Many thanks to the organisers, judges and sponsors of this wonderful competition along with my congratulations to all the selected photographers. Lovely to meet so many of you at the awards’ evening.
Three and a half weeks with the full frame mirrorless Lumix S1 Camera
Story telling. That’s what my reason is for picking up a camera. As a photojournalist, a street photographer, a portrait photographer, a commercial photographer, my need for a camera is to capture the essence, subtlety and feel of my subject, tell their story at that moment.
The Lumix S1 has been with me for over three weeks and I found myself not shooting with anything else. The birth of a new system for Panasonic Lumix, and the start of a fresh new camera system. Yet the camera feels completely accomplished. My prototype camera, with pre-production early firmware, behaved impeccably, never letting me down. It didn’t matter the subject matter, the level of light , the speed, the cold; it just worked.
To sum up, in a nutshell, the S1 is extremely impressive. The quality is just stunning, in every aspect; image quality, camera handling, system design and build quality.
The ergonomics are spot on. The camera just fits and within minutes I was already taking pictures. The button layout, joystick positioning, the placing of the AF button on the back (something crucial for my way of working) is spot on. One superb new feature for this Lumix is the lock button at the back, which can lock the rear buttons. Anyone who runs around with their cameras knows how easy it is to inadvertently find they have set the camera to monochrome HDR mode with bracketing on long exposure! The menu system is also a joy to use; its very well thought out, laid out and the design behind it means there is very little need for referring to the manual.
The build quality and finishing on the camera and lens are sublime. This is definitely a premium, high end camera. One made for serious, daily use, in all sorts of environments. Most professional photographers refer to their cameras as tools; they are the beginning of the journey as it’s only the photograph that matters. These tools are expected to work in all sorts of conditions and never fail; ever. I have a feeling the philosophy behind the design and build of the S Series is going to fit that bill fully. The camera and lenses just inspire confidence in every respect.
I was initially a bit worried at having one camera battery during my testing; I made sure to always pack two USB battery power banks (one wonderful aspect of the top end Lumix cameras is USB charging, which is not only a great convenience when home, but is an indispensible feature for when in the field). It turns out, even with the camera set to sleep after 10 minutes and leaving the camera on constantly, I was managing to still have around 50% battery after close to 1000 photos. All this, in relatively cold conditions.
For most of my initial test period of three weeks, I only had the Lumix S Series 24-105mm f4.0 lens. I’m definitely a fan of faster aperture prime lenses, as I tend to shoot in very low and difficult light. With the lens and body stabilization, married to astonishing high ISO performance meant that I was never really left wanting a faster lens. I didn’t miss any shots. Having said that, I had heard many great things about the S Series 50mm f1.4, so couldn’t wait to make some photographs using that.
One thing that can’t be denied is that the S 50mm definitely has presence. It’s a big and heavy lens. Initially, I was disappointed with the size and weight. I had wished for a smaller lens. Within 15 minutes of having it on the S1, I had shot a couple of test shots under some arches of a member of the Japanese team from Panasonic; the quality was stunning. The sharpness, tonal rendition, shadow and highlight detail, soft falloff of the background. This lens completely impressed. It has character and perfection at the same time. After seeing the results, the size no longer became an issue and the lens almost never came off my camera during three days of shooting with it at Panasonic’s launch event for the S Series in Barcelona, Spain. As a nice icing on the cake, the 50mm is also certified by Leica.
The S 24-105mm also definitely impressed me. I have to admit to being a bit of a lens snob; I’m used to shooting with Leica, Leica DG, Zeiss and in earlier years, Angeniuex lenses. I was absolutely bowled over. Not only is this lens sharp, it’s perfectly contrasty and has a phenomenal tonal range. It dealt with shooting in low light or having bright lights without issue. Build quality and feel of the controls match the craftsmanship of the camera.
One thing that has surprised me completely is the level of subtlety I’ve been able to photograph with the S1 and the new S Series lenses. Darker scenes with very subtle gradation and tonal differentiation have been rendered perfectly. The shadow detail and highlight detail have been amazing, even when the same image has had both extremes. It’s also worth pointing out the auto white balance (AWB) worked extremely well, in all but the very mixed and extreme extreme artificial light. I’ve managed to get this level of subtle micro detail and tonal differentiation using a raw converter which is new to me; whilst Silkypix worked and it was a joy to be able to shoot and process raw files on a preproduction prototype camera, I can’t wait for when my preferred imaging software, Adobe’s Lightroom, supports the raw file from the S1. Using software I know intimately is sure to bring a bigger smile to my face when I’m processing images shot on the S1 and extracting even more detail, character and subtlety.
Alongside my eagerness, with almost childlike enthusiasm, to shoot with the S Series 50mm f1.4, I’m was also super impatient to shoot with the larger megapixel cousin, the S1R. In every aspect, the cameras look and behave identically. It’s the sensor and some settings which differ (mainly the highest ISOs and certain video functionality). I only had the S1R for a few hours during the launch event, so my impressions are based on a brief encounter, which left me breathless at the results this camera produces. The size and detail of the images are simply mind blowing, producing a 47.3mp image, which in high resolution mode produces a mid blowing 187mp image. This is truly top end medium format territory, in a smaller and much more dynamic package.
Unique in the full frame market, is the union of Panasonic Lumix and Leica, two camera manufacturers, collaborating around the L Mount, along with Sigma (which I would assume will bring some of their superb ART lenses in the L Mount). This is great news for the Lumix S Series as well as the existing Leica SL community. Panasonic Lumix’s three lenses (24-105mm f4.0, 50mm f1.4 and 70-200mm f4.0) joining an already available portfolio of Leica SL lenses. By 2020, Panasonic Lumix is due to release a further seven lenses.
It’s a truly remarkable to be so enthused about a new camera system after 30 years of professional photography. My excitement for this system reminds me of when I picked up my first SLR, 34 years ago. Roll on March 2019, when these will be available in the shops!