All of us, from time to time, get to a point where we wonder what we can do to improve our work. We take class after class on technique, and study our gear until we know it inside out. We hone our skills, practicing lighting and post processing until we have developed our work to a point we can be proud of. Yet, when all that is said and done, our work still lacks something. Where do we go next?
Articles written by Dylan Goldby
Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, along with its adjoining cities houses and employs approximately half of Korea's 51 million residents. With high-rise apartments being the norm for housing, and a three to four hour traffic jam twice a day, it's easy to see that Seoul is a city of epic proportions. Seoul-based photographer and videographer Noe Alonzo's time-lapse superbly captures the magnitude and pace of his city.
Or at least that's what the salesman tried to sell it to me as. You see, LG's new G4 sports a pretty incredible camera for a phone. Its 16 MP 1/2.6" CMOS sensor has an f/1.8 lens in front of it for light-gathering goodness. If this wasn't enough, the full manual controls of Android's new camera have been implemented. This all sounds impressive. But, just how capable is it?
One of the questions that crops up often on photography forums, sites, and even in photography conversations over a pint is "which lens should I buy next?" It is said with such sincerity and met with so many recommendations that are, in the end, mostly meaningless. It even rears its ugly head in the form of "What is the best lens for 'X' photography?", as though somehow, another person's answer will guide the asker to greatness.
With the democratisation of photography and the near ubiquity of camera toting humans, there has been no better time than now to record the human condition. Not everyone is going to be the next Sebastião Salgado, traveling the world in order to document the atrocities of man kind, and again to celebrate the wonders of the world. However, in our own small ways, we each have the opportunity to describe our corner of the world the way we see it.
Color management is constantly an issue for photographers, digital artists, and videographers. We spend money on great monitors, only to know that we have to calibrate them and our input devices and our output devices as well. Some of us even opt for a wide gamut monitor designed specifically for those who work in the digital arts, allowing us to adjust brightness, color, and contrast like we would an image. This introduces one more, slightly more insidious potential problem: color management within our web browsers.
Fujifilm's lineup of fast primes is what sets it apart in the world of mirrorless cameras. Starting with the amazing XF 35mm f/1.4, and following up with the XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2, Fuji have continued to impress with their small, lightweight, fast, sharp primes. The XF 16mm f/1.4 (24mm equivalent field of view on full frame), long talked about, was released in May this year to the excitement of many Fuji shooters. But does it hold up to the other primes in Fuji's lineup?
Sometimes you just need to slow down. Last year, I shot just north of 95,000 digital photographs. That may not seem like a lot to some of you wedding photographers out there, but it was enough to make me take a step back and want something else. How many did I throw away? How many were made without thought or conviction? This was enough to trigger the impulse to try something new, and that something new was large format photography.
While looking for a new shoulder bag to use for family sessions and travel assignments, I came across Gura Gear's Chobe 19-24L expandable bag. It checked all the boxes I needed; airline carry-on-friendly, reasonably lightweight, laptop sleeve, configurable dividers, plenty of storage pockets, and room for things other than camera equipment. I have now taken it on several sessions here in Korea, and on my recent trips to Myanmar and Malaysia. For carrying a small kit, it has been a great bag. Here are my thoughts so far.
As a former IT worker and all-around nerd, I was used to firmware updates having small changes to increase compatibility with new hardware and software; often allowing older BIOSes to support newer hardware, etc. Fujifilm's engineers have turned this concept on its head with their firmware updates, which have routinely introduced new features to existing cameras, and giving users the best that Fujifilm have been able to pull from their existing hardware. These changes have brought huge improvements to already great cameras. Fujifilm's new X-T1 Firmware 4.0 may just be the mother of all updates seen on an X-series camera yet.
After using the new firmware for just under 24 hours, on a job yesterday, and in the streets on the way out, I would like to share my thoughts on the changes so far.
As photographic professionals, we spend a lot of time just getting work done. There are emails, phone calls, retouching, shoots, gear maintenance, backups, portfolio management, and all the other things you've heard listed by anyone giving you the sermon on photography as a business as opposed to photography for the love of the craft. The reality is, for many of us, that some of this stuff just isn't all that inspiring. Below are a few things I recommend if you start feeling that strain.
In many of our respective nations, we take news and the photography that accompanies it for granted. We expect to be shown anything and everything that is happening in the world around us. Our daily lives are so filled with photography; everything from our friend's meals to events from around the globe. In Taliban controlled Afghanistan, this was not the case. A media blackout was ordered, preventing photojournalists from documenting the events and history of the country. It was not until wartime when photojournalism became possible again.
South Carolina-based Taylor Engel's short, "The Pavement" — which got him into the top 10 for HBO's Project Greenlight — had me enthralled the moment it began. Through its rhythmic delivery, simple visual nature, and dark aesthetic, it pulls us through a sinister human story that gets at our primal nature. Its simplicity is partly attributed to the needs of the story, and partly to the time frame in which it was created. Engel and his team planned and finished the film in just one month, all while working around their day jobs.
In my experience, there are two kinds of great lenses. The first is the kind that gets the job done. These lenses are technically amazing and produce extremely high-quality images. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art is one of those lenses. It produces sharp, high-contrast images time and time again. But it doesn’t really have character — a feeling — of its own. This brings me to the second category of great lenses. Every now and again a manufacturer produces something truly special, a lens with qualities that can't be measured on an MTF chart or in lab testing. Nikon's Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G is one of those lenses.