Edinburgh Fringe Ready To Cut

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It’s that time of the year again, Edinburgh Festival. That means a meet-up with friends to visit the annual World Press Photo exhibition in The Scottish Parliament building and then a bit of street photography. WPP was excellent as always and just as depressing. Don’t expect happy smiley pictures. It’s all hard hitting stuff as usual. Well worth a visit before it ends soon.

Thanks to John & Bill for a great day out, ending in an unexpected show (Have I Got News For You).

A Wet Friday

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I decided to head out for a bit of street shooting on Friday, but when Friday arrived it was pouring with rain. But an arrangement is an arrangement even if it is just with yourself. It was so bad I had to buy an umbrella to keep my cameras dry, even though I had already been soaked through.

There are two kinds of a rainy day here in Scotland. There are really dark horrible days and there are bright days. It can still bucket with rain but the latter can be a bit deceiving with popping colour and higher meter readings than expected. This was one of those days.

There’s a mixture of X-Pro2 with the 16/2 or the 35/2 and the X70 shot from the hip.

Have a great weekend.

Adobe Lightroom Texture

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The most asked question I get about my street photography is about how I process my black and whites. The answer is always - Nik’s Silver Efex Pro, and the reason for that is pretty much the Structure feature. Structure brings out textures in things like wood and stone. But having to export everything from Lightroom to Silver Efex Pro is a pain, but it’s always been worth it because Lightroom just didn’t have anything like Structure…until now.

With the latest update of Lightroom, we now have Texture, which can be found in the Basic Panel. It sit’s above the Clarity Slider, which is a bit annoying because I’m so used to Clarity being at the top in the Presence section. Texture can also be found in the Brush, Radial and Gradient tools for a bit of local adjustment.

So this is my first attempt at a Lightroom preset for black and white street photography that gets me in the ballpark of Silver Efex Pro. I’ve got some tweaking to do, especially how it handles the colour blue.

A Walk On The East Side

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It feels like a while since I shot some street photography in Edinburgh. I had an hour to spare while I was in the capital last week and decided to pull out the X70 for some Zone Focusing fun.

1 Hour 47 Minutes of Street

As the title would suggest; this post contains my favourite shots from 1 hour, 47 minutes on the street. Less than that really because I spent around 20 minutes in book shops). My first shot of the day was in the train station just after I got off the train (minding the gap) and the last was back at the station, just before I bought the train. I took 175 pictures, all of them on the Fujifilm X70. All were shot using the zone focus method and possibly all of them were taken at f8, 1/500th of a sec on Auto ISO. I used my EV compensation dial to adjust for changes in light (walking into shade, facing the sun etc). I selected 52 out of the 175, edited 34 in colour and then made virtual copies in black and white. I exported 62 pictures (31 colour, 31 b&w) and if my count is right, I have posted 26 of them here (6 colour, 20 b&w).

The light was really nice today. The way it bounced off buildings as the sun dropped lower in the sky was fantastic. Here in the UK we get extremes when it comes to the amount of daylight hours. In the winter it gets dark around 4 pm, but in the summer months we have daylight well past 10 pm. There’s almost 9 hours more daylight between the summer and the winter solstices, which is probably why we’re all pale and miserable here during the winter:o)

Spring Forward & Patches Of Light

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I’ve shot a boatload of street since the beginning of the year. Like anything we do a lot of, we start to develop our craft. It’s the 10,000-hour rule I suppose. Something that I’ve become really aware of lately is knowing where the light will be good at certain times of the day. I know on certain street corners that the light will drop between a couple of buildings and that it will bounce off glass and steel before reaching the pavement (sidewalk). The colours are fantastic and it really enhances the Classic Chrome film simulation in my Fuji cameras. I also know where to go next when the light disappears from my favorite corner.

We moved our clocks forward at the weekend for British summertime, so all the good light will be an hour later than usual. Pretty soon the sun will go down even later and the streets will be empty when all the good light is available. March might just be my new favorite month for street photography, but let's not wipe out April when it just began.

These pictures were shot with the Fuji X70 (28mm) and the X-Pro2 with the 16mm f2.8 (24mm).

Of course, I cannot neglect the monochrome side of things just because the light was great for colour. As always, all my black and white street pictures are post-processed using Nik, Silver Efex Pro (now owned by DXO and well worth the money).

Fujifilm 16mm f2.8: Too Wide?

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There is a sweet spot in wide angle street photography lenses. Just like the push and pull of the exposure triangle, there are trade-offs with different focal lengths, especially when zone focusing. The compromise of getting in really close, but having lots of depth of field to add a bit of forgiveness when judging the distance between your camera and the subject. If this isn’t making much sense, you might want to go and read my post on How To Zone Focus first and then come back here.

I love a 28mm lens (full frame equivalent) when I’m zone focusing, which is why my Fuji Fuji X70 is one of my favourite cameras for this type of street shooting. I love the classic 35mm focal length when I’m using a viewfinder on a camera like the X100F, but when shooting from the hip, that extra depth of field the 28mm gives me can be the difference between coming home with lots of good shots or coming home with just a few.

I get that 28mm can be a bit wide for some photographers on the street (especially beginners) because it forces you to get in close. But it just works in so many different levels. At f8 and focused to 6’, everything between 5’ and 8’ will be in focus (possibly even more). At f11 and focus set to 5’ I can get everything in focus between 4’ and 8’ and those are good distances to work at with a 28mm lens

I hit the street the other day with the 16/2.8, a tiny wide-angle gem of a lens. But as soon as I started taking pictures, I was reminded of just how much difference a few millimeters can make at the wide end, which would mean next to nothing on a telephoto lens. The Fujinon Super EBC XF 16mm f2.8 R WR (to give it it’s the full title) is a full-frame equivalent to a 24mm, but those 4mm between 24mm and a 28mm feels huge when you’re trying to judge how big in the frame someone will be. The difference of a second or two when someone is walking toward you is massive, and if you wait too long or if the camera has any kind of lag between shutter press and actual shutter release, the moment has gone. But press too soon and the subject appears way smaller in the frame than you can imagine. It takes a bit of practice and there is very little wiggle room, so I’ll be heading back out soon to try to get it right.

Another problem is the urge to point the camera up. I was using the X-Pro2 and it doesn’t have a tilt screen, so it’s complete guesswork. When I’m out with my X70 (28mm equivalent), I can pull the flip screen out just a fraction, which is just enough to make a rough composition. I don’t like tilt screens on my rangefinder style cameras, but if the X-E3 had one I’d probably buy it for street (even though it doesn’t have a D-Pad on the back).

But check those leading lines when shooting building from a slightly lower angle. Epic!

Clockwork Orange

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We have a tiny Subway in Glasgow. For a city that is pretty much built on stilts, it’s a shame we don’t make use off all that space underneath us. But this small 15 stop underground train, that only takes 24 minutes to get back to where you started, is all we’ve got. Opened in 1896 and nicknamed ‘The Clockwork Orange’ because of it’s colour scheme and circular layout, it was renovated in 1996 and consist of two underground tubes that take trains in opposite directions, clockwise and counterclockwise (hence the name).

I had never been all the way round the subway, and to tell the truth, this was only my second time on it. So I decided to jump on and take a few pictures on the way. The amount of passengers rises and falls depending which part of the city you are passing under, with the heaviest volume at the main shopping area. The subway is a inexpensive and easy way to get around, and definitely worth trying if you are in Glasgow.

Fujifilm X100F & X-Pro2 with the 50mm f2

Taking The Train for Street

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One of my new years resolutions (if you could call it that) is to jump on the train more often and head for the city for a bit of street photography. It’s the beginning of March and I’ve been doing just that.

20 minutes to the west takes me to Glasgow and 50 minutes to the east and I’m in Edinburgh (our capital). I had limited time today, so I headed for Glasgow.

The bulk of what I’m shooting today is on the X70 with a little bit on the X-Pro2. I’m zone focusing the X70, but I’m being a bit reckless and not composing using the LCD much, but just pointing the camera where I think it should be pointed. That tends to be straight ahead with the 28mm focal length; no need to point it up unless you’re really close.

Colour Makes An Appearance

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The grey of the dark Scottish winter feels as though it lasts longer each year. This year has felt particularly bleak and my camera optimistically peaks it’s viewfinder out from under the the lid of my bag, then rushes back in to hibernation. But then suddenly there was a bit of decent light, a few degrees increase in temperature, and colour made a brief appearance. There must have been some sort of memo sent out, because a few people had shed their blacks and greys and were now wearing colour. Oranges and yellows drop-kicked my eyeballs and the buildings were bathed in late afternoon sun. A teaser trailer for the summer to come.