Tucked away in a small part of Prague known as Kampa Island, you will find The John Lennon Wall. A place where many flock to for reasons known only to them. Some come to look, others come to add to the graffiti. But most it seems, come to take selfies. It's a strange old world! **Click on the pictures below to see larger versions.
I've had an ONA camera bag on my wish list for a while. It was originally the Street Prince in Dark Truffle Leather that I had in mind, but I couldn't get one in the UK at that time. I asked a friend to pick me one up in the US last year, but the dealer was too far from where she was staying. I ended up buying a Tenba Cooper 13 Slim instead, which I'm still using and love, especially for travelling as it has a sleeve to fit over the handle of rolling cases and it has a pocket at the front big enough for my Bose QC25 headphones.
So when a trip to London appeared on the horizon, I found out that The Classic Camera stocked a selection of ONA bags in various styles and finishes. I still liked the Street Prince and even considered the Berlin II, but I've been on the look out for something small that would force me to carry less gear on a day to day basis. I have a backpack for shoots where I need a lot of kit, but for street photography or just a go anywhere bag, I was in need of something smaller, but with enough space to hold a few accessories as well as two or three X-Series cameras with lenses attached.
I kept coming back to the Bowery and was drawn to the leather versions especially. The Antique Cognac looks good (it looks much better in the flesh than it does on the internet actually), but I loved the look of the Dark Truffle leather version. I liked the Tan canvas version when I was looking at them at Classic Camera, but I knew I wouldn't get it out of my system unless I bought the leather one.
I paid the £219 at The Classic Camera and resisted buying a Leica M6 (for now) while I was in the shop. I ended up carrying the Bowery around in it's box for six hours that day while I shot some London Street Photography with the X70 and X-Pro2.
The leather ONA bags are made to wear-in really quickly, so if you want one to stay looking as new as the day you bought it for many years, leather ONA bags are not for you. But if you want your bag to look as though you've been using it for years, even though it's fairly new, then look no further because ONA is definitely what you're after.
Build quality on ONA bags is fantastic, in fact I would say it's the best I have seen on any bag! The leather versions especially look as though they would last for many years, possibly out lasting me. The leather is thick and tough and the rivets and buckles are chunky and already look aged, which is in keeping with the rest of the bag.
WHAT FITS INSIDE THE BOWERY:
The Bowery can hold a lot of kit for such a small bag. The leather version is a good bit heavier than the canvas one and as I said earlier, the purpose of this bag for me is to travel lighter on a day to day basis when I don't have a shoot that requires larger lenses. But I can basically get all of the following into the Bowery. I don't always need this amount of gear, but it's good to have the option.
- Fuji X-Pro2 with the 35mm f2 attached
- Fuji X100T (with lens hood)
- Fuji X70 (with lens hood)
- GoPro (under the X70)
- Moleskine (Evernote edition) Notebook
- Parker pen
- Apple Earbuds (headphones)
- A couple of spare batteries
- Short iPhone cable
- 2 spare SD cards (in their cases)
- Business cards and bank/credit cards
- Lens cloth
Here's a short video showing how I fit all this inside the Bowery.
This Bowery is a really cool bag. It feels great over my shoulder and has that rare quality of feeling lighter than it actually is. I was tempted to buy the wax version because it was a good bit lighter and felt and looked great, but I knew I would still have had gear lust over the leather version, so I'm glad I bought this one. The Dark Truffle is the one for me, even though ONA are now doing a black leather versions too.
These bags are not inexpensive by any means, but will last for years, and even though they will get scuffed and worn very quick, they will look as cool as an old Leica that's worn down to the brass. I would highly recommend paying a visit to The Classic Camera store if you happen to be in the London area, I know I'll be back there on my next visit to London. If you're on the fence about buying an ONA bag, just take the plunge. You won't be disappointed.
It was a busy rainy day at the Edinburgh festival. Sure it was busy on the streets, but I'm talking more about cramming in as much in the day as possible. I traveled there on the train with my two photographer friends, John McPake and John Summers. The idea was that we would go to Edinburgh for the day, shoot some pictures and visit the World Press Photo Exhibition at the Scottish Parliament building. But by the time the day came around, I had been booked to shoot a musical comedy act at the Playhouse (thanks to my Kage Collective accomplice Robert Catto) and had a meeting at a venue about an exhibition that I will be involved in this coming November.
I really don't mind rain when shooting on the streets. Everyone is so distracted by the weather and seem to have tunnel vision, that it's so easy to get in close. If you're holding an umbrella with your left hand, nobody notices the camera in your right hand. I'm really enjoying using Fuji's Classic Chrome film simulation and find that the out of camera JPEG's need little to no work in post. A bit of Contrast and Clarity in Lightroom and maybe a vignette and they're done. But they're definitely very usable straight out of camera. I shot a lot of Kodachrome on my OM-2n back in the 80's and to be able to get that look straight out of camera using Classic Chrome is really great.
Edinburgh is a fantastic place to be when the festival is in full swing. It doesn't matter if you're a tourist or a local, the Fringe is constantly bubbling over and constantly changing. It's a street photographer's dream and I always look forward to multiple visits each year. It's also a good place to try street photography for the first time if you've always wanted to try it, but were a bit uncomfortable about pointing your camera at a stranger.
World Press Photo 15 in the Scottish Parliament Building (above and 3rd from the left) was well worth a visit and had a good variety of pictures. WPP has had a lot of controversy over the past year or two, but there is some fantastic work this year and it's a shame the event has been tarnished a bit. I bought the book on Amazon the next day and have to say that although some of the pictures work better on a wall, a lot of them look even better in the book, as the prints in the exhibition seemed to be a little up and down on the quality department.
I've been back to the Edinburgh Festival since to test the latest 90mm f2 lens that Fujifilm UK kindly sent me for a test drive. I'll have a full review here soon, but lets just say that the shallow depth of field blur is probably the best and smoothest I've seen on any lens, from any manufacturer.
The Fujifilm X100 was a real game changer in my photography. I was in need of something small, light and above all else, great in low light. But I got more than I bargained for and the X100 took me on a journey and made me realize the direction I really wanted to go. I still have my original X100, but after including many other X cameras to my kit, I've recently came full circle and rekindled my love of the X100 with the addition of an X100S. Although I have five X series cameras and many lenses, I have had an urge lately to carry less....much less. So I've limited my personal photography to the X100S (although not exclusively). But although I love the 35mm field of view (full frame wise), Sometimes I can be restricted in zooming with my feet and then have to take another body and lens(s).
Thankfully Fuji have answered the prayers of X100 shooters with the introduction of two great converter lenses. The WCL-X100 (wide angle version) came first, and then more recently the TCL-X100 (telephoto version). Both are built to the same high quality as the X100 and feel so good in use. They attach to the original fixed 35mm lens by screwing on to the (external) filter thread. If like me, you have the Fuji lens hood attached, you must remove both the hood and the adaptor before attaching each of the converter lenses.
WCL-X100 The WCL-X100 takes the 35mm field of view down to 28mm. This doesn't seem like a lot, but it can make all the difference in a lot of circumstances. I know there's a lot of street photographers that prefer a 28mm field of view to a 35mm and for cityscapes or landscapes this is just the ticket. The WCL is the smaller of the two and as slim as the X100's fixed lens. It also accepts the original Fuji lens hood (without the need for the adapter ring. The WCL looks 100% like it's part of the camera and although extends the length and weight, the camera still feels pretty well balanced and small.
Even Leica Man couldn't take his eyes off the X100S with the WCL-X100
TCL-X100 The TCL-X100 takes the X100/100S up to a 50mm and into the zone of portraits without distortion. Although it still looks like it's part of the camera, rather than a screw on converter, the size and weight ads quite a bit and makes the camera quite a bit more front heavy. But because of it's funnel shape and larger front end, it is really comfortable to hold both when shooting and holding. Sadly the TCL doesn't have a built in lens hood mount and the original lens hood would be much too small anyway. But it would have been great if Fuji had added a mount and included a larger version of the X100 hood. This request is not just for looks or even to prevent lens flare, but to protect the front element from scratches. The front of the TCL is large (68mm filter) and the front element is so close to the surface, that a UV filter is a must, even for a shooter like me that has no filters on any lenses and don't want any either. But after shooting for a day or two with the TCL, I bit the bullet and added a filter, even though this was a review copy sent to me by Fuji.
CONCLUSION So from what you've read above, it looks like the WCL has no flaws, but the TCL has a few. But if I can only have one of these it would be the TCL. Some people saw the fixed 35mm lens on the X100 as a downside. I thought it was great to not have to think about focal length and just shoot. In a way these new converter lenses kill that idea slightly, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for opening up the capabilities of the X100/100S and I'm excited about that. After having the original X100 for a few months, I fantisized that Fuji would bring out a 50mm or 85mm version of the camera, which would be a perfect combination of a fixed 35mm on one shoulder and a 50mm or 85mm on the other. Fuji has done even better with giving us an option, even if we only own one camera.
THE FUTURE When I bought the X100S, I was a bit sad that my X100 would become redundant and stay in the box until my kids are old enough to use it. But I now have a reason to use my original X100 with the X100S and have a different focal length on each. My Fuji wish list now includes an 85mm conversion lens, but I'm not sure if that would even be possible? But I'm glad to see that the X100 and X100S not only live on, but have a new lease of life. Although these units are for review purposes, I've already made my mind up that I will be adding the WCL-X100 and the TCL-X100 to my Fuji arsenal as soon as possible. For the last few weeks I've been carrying my X100S and these two converters in the small but perfectly formed Rob The Traveller bag by Millican (read my review here). It's really easy on the shoulder and well worth checking out if you're planning a bit of travel photography.
Stewart asked (in the comments below) if the TCL-X100 is suitable for portraits. I'm more than happy to shoot portraits with a 50mm lens. The TCL handles portraits well...as you can see from the handsome beast above :o) This was taken in a portacabin/dressing room backstage at a festival, with Florissant strip lights. X100S with the TCL, 1/125sec, f4 at ISO 2000.
This is the second film from the Freedom Through Photography project that featured photographers David Cleland, Andrew James and myself. This one is Andrew's mission to photograph Tom, a sheep farmer in the beautiful Lake District (UK). As you can see from the stunning black and white shots in the film, Andrew not only nailed the assignment, but he also created some wonderful photographs that show both the amazing quality from the Fuji's X-M1 and the awesome X-Trans sensor, plus what a great eye Andrew has.
The purpose of the Freedom Through Photography project was to showcase the collaboration between Fujifilm UK and outdoor bag company Millican. Thanks to the great folks at Millican (especially founders Joritt and Nicky), we X Series shooters now have a dedicated bag for all our great Fuji toys. The bag featured in the film above is the 'Christopher', but there is also the option of the smaller 'Robert' bag. These bags are really high quality and will last for years. You can see the Millican bags for the Fujifilm range HERE.
A big thumbs up for director Giles Brown and camera guys Andrew Lawrence and James Barns. As well as being great guys, I'm sure you will agree that the quality of these films are fantastic. Credit to Sophie Crewdson, for not only co writting the screenplay with Giles for these films, but Sophie was also my guide while shooting my part at the Lake District. If you missed the first film from this project by David Cleland, you can click HERE to watch it now.
Andrew also has an in-depth article on street photography at the moment in Digital Camera Magazine (UK issue 148), which has three photographs of mine and features some other great photographers.
The next Freedom Through Photography film will feature yours truly. Be afraid (I know I am).
This is a cross post with 35mmStreet for the following reason. When it comes to street photography I've always had my feet planted in the black and white side of the fence as it just looks more interesting to me. It strips away the distraction of colour and narrows the photograph down to composition and content. It also gives street shots a timeless quality. 35mmStreet has had only three colour pictures (I think), which were on the earliest posts. Since then it's been B&W all the way and even the post processing has been the exact same home made recipe that I cooked up in Silver Efex Pro way back. But lately I've noticed that some colour street photography has been catching my eye and that's unusual for me. I tend to think colour street shots look a little too bland, but never say never!
So here's the thing. All the shots on this post are in colour, but you will find the same ones in black and white over at 35mmStreet HERE. They were all shot with the amazing new Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 on the X-Pro1, a pair that hasn't been separated since the lens was released. Have a look at both blog posts and see what you prefer. I'd love to here what you think. Do they all look better in colour? Do they all look better in B&W? Or does it depend on the individual photo?
It's been five years since we were last in Hong Kong and it's great to be back. We have a ten day stop over here (although two days will be spent in Macau), then it's off to the Philippines to shoot the project for the NGO, which will appear on the Kage Collective site later in the year. I shot these with either the Fuji X100 or the X-E1 with the 18-55mm f2.8-f4 (more on this lens on a later post). At this point the X-Pro1 was still in the bag.
Hong Kong is an amazing city with stunning archetecture and design. It's a living, breathing, pulsating metropolis, a great place to be and an even better place for photography. I don't think I've felt more at ease or safe, even in the two cities where I shoot street the most in Scotland. Everyone should come to Hong Kong at least once in their life.
I shot a small video of the scene above and it looks so much like ants. everybody just flowing along, moving out of each others way and going about there business.
There's one thing that Hong Kong has in abundance, and that's great light. Of course it's better during the golden hours at both ends of the day, but like my Kage Collective colleague Robert Catto wrote about in his story Brighter, everything does just look brighter and more colourful at this end of the world. I'm afraid the UK lucked out on light.
Hong Kong has many levels in so many ways. But for a photographer, it offers a lot in the way of places to shoot from. You can be on ground level shooting what's around you, or above. In the vast elevated walkways that join buildings like a giant dot to dot. You can shoot what's ahead or behind, or down on to the street. Or you could shoot over at another walkway running parallel. There's just so much veriety of view points.
And finally, here's a couple of locals.....not really, it's my kids, cooling of on the roof of our home for the ten days we're in Hong Kong. Even they are finding the heat hard to bear.
Patrick La Roque should be back from Cuba around the time this post goes out (or soon after), so check his blog HERE regularly for more travel shots.
Now...where are those Digital Rev TV guys?
New from Fuji is the X100s, an update to the original X model. Fujifilm has done the opposite of what a lot of camera manufactures do by just giving the camera an S rather than naming it the X200. How many times do we see new models coming out with very minimal improvements? With the X100s, it looks like there has been a huge leap in the technology inside the camera, but very little on the outside. I'm really glad it's that way round as the the camera looks stunning!
Here are some of the new features:
- 16.3 million pixels APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor
- EXR Processor II
- Hybrid Viewfinder (OVF / EVF)
- FUJINON 23mm F2 lens
- Intelligent Hybrid AF (with the world’s fastest AF speed of 0.08 secs
- Start-up time of 0.5 secs
- Shutter time lag of 0.01 secs
- Shooting interval of 0.5 secs
- High-contrast and wide viewing-angle 2.8-inch Premium Clear LCD (460K dots)
- Super Intelligent Flash
- Burst shooting rate of up to 6 frames per second at full resolution (max. 29 frames)
- Focus Peak Highlight function
- Digital Split Image display
- Artistic filters
- Full HD movie recording (60fps / 30fps)
It's nice to see the old split screen focussing making a comeback. I have a similar thing in my Olympus OM2-n, but with a horizontal line, rather than vertical. The X100s looks like a cross between that and a rangefinder patch in the centre of the screen. I'm looking forward to trying it out. The X100s will also have the fastest focusing in it's class.
Let's hope we get an update to the X100 firmware to get an updated menu and to add a Q button function to the Raw button. While I'm on the subject of firmware, we really need a minimum shutter speed added to the Auto ISO in the X-Pro1 and X-E1. This should be a Fuji priority!
This is a cross post with my street photography blog at 35mmStreet where you can see the black and white version of the above photo. Click HERE to see both colour & B&W together and let me know in the comments what you think looks best?
I was out today, having coffee and talking shop with a couple of photographer friends John McPake and John Summers. After a few cups of tea and coffee and covering all things from sensors to lenses, books to editing, Santa Claus to Filipino Xmas parties and everything in between, we decided that we should be shooting pictures instead of talking about them. We made plans to go out for a days photography to a derelict building that's been on our photographic horizons for a while. But we made the arrangement that we would go out and shoot as long as the weather was ok, but if it was raining we would probably just get together indoors and talk or play around with radio triggers or light modifiers.
When I left the two John’s, I headed into town to have a look at the photography books in Waterstones. It was raining pretty hard and it was dark, but I pulled the Fuji X-E1 out of my bag and kept it up high, under my umbrella. I shot a few photos on the way to the bookstore and then a few afterwards on the way back to the car (with a really nice Time Life book having been purchased :o). But the main point of this blog post is just to point out that we shouldn't just go out in ideal conditions, or even fair weather. Sometimes it's the things you think you should avoid that give you something a little bit different or a little bit special. So although the golden hour is desirable, don't avoid the rain or the midday sun. Instead, we need to embrace them and use the qualities they have. The rain provides fantastic reflections and the midday sun gives us harsh contrasts shadows that can be amazing in black and white!
There's no fear at shooting 3200 iso with the X-Pro1! There's also no fear shooting at wide apertures, you just simply compose and let the camera do the rest. This first shot was at f2 and 1/60 of a second. I was shooting the performers in the background playing with fire, but I found the foreground more interesting.
The photo of the crowd (above) was shot at f2.8 and 1/125th of a second. As Travis performed on stage, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, the X-Pro1 performed on the ground.
I don't know the name of this comedian, but he was a pretty funny guy. If only the crowd were as good!
I could have shot photos of this comedian all night long.
Not something you see everyday...not on this planet anyway.
This shot was taken at f 1.4 and 1/30th of a second. With a full frame eqivelent of a 50mm, 1/30th is half the shutter speed that you would need to shoot this on a DSLR. Another great reason to shot mirror-less cameras.
This last shot was taken with the 18mm at f2 and 1/30th of a second. I wouldn't dream of shooting this sort of event with a DSLR, not with mine anyway! Have a look at more black and white 3200 iso shots on my street photography blog 35mmStreet