London Street Photos (Part 2, Colour)

More street photography from London, this time in bright Velvia colours. Taken in and around Camden Market in North London, and Brick Lane in the East End. Both these places attract street photographers, I saw quite a few out and about. Most seem to use zoom lenses (some of them obscenenely huge). I myself prefer prime lenses, here I used the 35mm. For some reason I don’t like zooming in on people – I feel like a Peeping Tom doing that. But maybe that’s just me? Did I watch too many bad movies?

Camera: Fujifilm X-T20 with 35mmR1.4 lens. 
 



London Street Photos (Part 1, Black and White)

It’s been a while… here are some new street portraits and street photographs from a sunny day in London. There is nothing like travelling to get the creative juices flowing. That, and decent weather, i.e. light. 

All images shot with a Fujifilm X-T20 camera and the 35mmR1.4 lens. Colour photographs to follow…

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Portraits

This weekend I took part in an “available light” portrait workshop. This was actually my first time working with a professional model, and I found it quite a joy to work with someone completely at ease in front of the camera, someone who knows how to look and how to pose. The model is the girl depicted in the pics below, the other folks shown were other participants.

I used my Fujifilm X-T20 with the 56mm1.2 lens, making great use of the lens’ large aperture.

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Testing the New Fujifilm X-T20

I have worked with Fujifilm’s X-T10 camera for the past year and a half, and loved it as its unobtrusive size and shape is exactly what I was looking for my street photography, while the choice of available Fujinon lenses provides the versatility to undertake other kinds of photography, namely portrait and urban/architecture. A couple of weeks ago I decided to upgrade to Fujifilm’s new X-T20 camera, mostly for three reasons: the greater resolution, the new black and white Acros film simulation and the touch-screen.

I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to try the camera, but I did take it for a couple of test runs around Berlin and asked a few friends to pose. The new camera does not disappoint, on the contrary. Everything I loved about the X-T10 is still there, of course: the retro look and feel, the small size and weight, the handy dials, the colour rendering and the overall image quality, and the simplicity of the menu.

These are the major points which I noticed:

  • I would argue that the new sensor and the resolution increase alone are worth the price. The photos look incredibly sharp.
  • The Acros film simulation isn’t new, Fujifilm premiered it last year with its Pro X-Series models. Users of those models have been raving about it, and I can see why: it is very film-like and convincing, and does indeed produce great results.
  • Not so convincing: the touch-screen. Nice for flipping through the camera roll, not so nice if like me you prefer to use the viewfinder to shoot: I found myself changing the focus point with, literally, the tip of my nose when looking through the view finder. I subsequently turned the feature of for shooting. Also, for some reason, the touch-screen lets you focus everywhere except in the centre of the image. Missing is the ability to use touch to scroll through the menus.
  • Nice improvements to the camera’s user expencience: a new customisable menu, the removal of the video button (replaced by a programmable function button), touch-screen functionality to flip through the camera roll and to zoom in and out.
  • One item I regret: on the X-T10, eye detection could be turned on and off by simply pressing a function button. The X-T20 offers more options for eye detection, and thus one needs to scroll through a sub-menu in order to change the settings, which takes more time.
  • Not tested: the camera offers an array of options for auto-focus of subjects in motion. I have not had a chance to test this yet. The same goes for pixel mapping as well as the enhanced video capabilities.

In summary, I’m quite happy to have made the upgrade and I can’t wait to take the camera for more test runs.

Find below a sample of the test results.

Quasimono. Lens: 35mmF2.0. Acros film simulation.
Kool Kasai. Lens: 56mmF1.4. Acros film simulation.
Berlin From Above. Lens: 35mmF2. Acros film simulation.
Mario. Lens: 35mmF2.0. Velvia film simulation.
Urban Sunset. Lens: 27mmF2.8. Velvia film simulation.
Urban Sunset. Lens: 27mmF2.8. Classic Chrome film simulation.
Raver Dude. Lens: 27mmF2.8. Velvia film simulation.

Meknes the Imperial City

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I have uploaded the last set of my Morocco travelogue section with photos from Meknes, one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. Meknes is a bit off the beaten track, not as popular and crowded as nearby Fes, but I hugely enjoyed the city, which is relaxed and its people extremely friendly and welcoming, more so than in the larger tourist destinations. It helped that I stayed in a very cute and comfortable Riad with a room on the rooftop, run by a  verg welcoming family.

Meknes doesn’t have that many obvious tourist attractions, which was fine by me as I enjoyed wandering the streets and having a relaxed time photographing the old town, again fascinated by the many colours and textures on display, which is what I tried to capture in the photographs.

Again, all photos taken with a Fujifilm X-T10, except for one or two iPhone photos.

Links:

Colours of Meknes

For more of my photos from Morocco, click [here]

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Casablanca In (Almost All) White And Black

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Casablanca was my fourth stop on my Morocco itinerary. I had allocated only two days for it, mostly on the recommendations of friends and guidebooks who claimed that there was not much to see in Casablanca. They were wrong.

Casablanca is, foremost, a large city, and as such lacks the intimate charm of other Moroccon towns. But one thing it is not is boring. I hope the photos that I selected for the latest Morocco travelogue set reflect this.

There are basically three sections to the set. The first one is a series of photos which I took around and inside the huge Hassan II Mosque, which is the largest mosque outside of Saudi-Arabia, and one of the very few mosques in Morocco where non-Muslims are allowed to enter. It is a fascinating building, and quite an engineering feat. It also understands itself as an inclusive place of worship, incorporating design elements from Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism.

The second group of photos were taken by the seaside, on and near the “corniche” at Anfa. Here I shot the dilapidated, enpty seaside resorts and other once-modern buildings by the sea. These photos are in colour, the rest are in black and white.

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The third group of photos I took in the city center, featuring chiefly the art deco buildings from colonial times. Additional photos highlight the new, modern architecture along the sea front.

One of my tourist guidebooks mentioned that people tend to come away disappointed from Casablanca because they associate the city with the movie of the same name, and that the city is nothing like the movie. Apart from the fact that I don’t recall much of the city of Casablanca being shown in the movie (I remember mostly the inside of Rick’s bar and some vague matte paintings of a city in the background), I actually found that the Art Deco buildings reminded me very much of the movie: the vestiges of a passed era, an architecture and style not quite here nor there, i.e. not quite European and not quite Moroccon, and above all, with its emphasis on white and black, best viewed in black and white.

Links:

Casablanca in (Almost All) White and Black

More Morocco travelogue sets

Faces of Morocco: street and portrait photography

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Casablanca. Camera: Fujifilm X-T10

R.I.P. Ren Hang

photo © Ren Hang

I was very sad to read last night that Chinese photographer Ren Hang passed away yesterday, at the age of 29.

I came across this young man’s work some 6 years ago, by chance on Flickr, and I’ve been following him ever since.

There are a number of things which fascinate me about his work. While staged, the photos are always unpretentious. He seemingly shot at whatever light he found, or using the camera’s flash, with point-and-shoot cameras, retaining an amateurish look far removed from that of sophisticated post-editing. His images can at times be sensuous, shocking, amusing and tender. Some, for all their nudity, are the opposite of sensuous. His work is, above all, highly original. They feature men and women in all kinds of combination, and while queer identity is never an issue of and by itself, the fact that his art is fluid in terms of sexuality, does make a point it about queer identify as well. A number of  his photos can be deemed pornographic, which apparently led him get into conflict with Chinese authorities. He was getting more and more recognition in the west, with an increasing number of exhibitions and covers for international publications to his credit.

© Ren Hang

I do not know much about the man himself, and even the articles published since his death reveal scant information. He was suffering from depression, and committed suicide. It’s always tragic when young artists die: when you look at what they have achieved until now, you realise what more they could have achieved and what potential was lost. As it is, he has an impressive body of work, one that will be remembered by many, for a long time. I know I will be coming back to his art for a long time to come.

And I hope this young man finally found the peace he was looking for.

Here are a few links to his work:

his Flickr feed

– his Instagram feed

his website

an article on the web site of editor Taschen, who recently published a photo book of his work. 

This article was amended on 11 March to correct the place of death: he died in Beijing, and not in Berlin, as was stated by early postings to social media. 

Ouarzazate and Beyond


The second set of my Morocco travelogue section is now online. It covers what was actually the last leg of my three week journey through that country: the Southern town of Ouarzazate and the area southeast of it: the Anti-Atlas mountains, the fertile Drâa valley with its date palm plantations, and the Sahara desert.

This part of the trip ended up being my favourite part. I stayed for five days, which some considered long, but I enjoyed the laid back feeling of Ouarzazate and especially the landscape. I don’t normally do landscape photography, but in these parts, I hugely enjoyed photographing the fascinating scenery.

Click here to view Ouarzazate & Beyond. 

Camera: Fujifilm X-T10