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Friday, April 11, 2014

Daily Life in Your Town or Suburb

By James Farley

When shooting in your home town or suburb, it doesn’t need to be about the main tourist attraction or a big event, notable landmark or iconic building – the most important thing is to focus on what you find most interesting, inspiring and beautiful in the area. A great sense of adventure and willingness to explore is essential in finding those wonderfully unassuming locations and photo opportunities.

Canon 40D, Vintage 1960's Asahi 50mm f2.0 lens. Location: Elderslie, NSW. Photographer: James Farley

Take some time to document what it is that gives your home town or suburb its unique character. Use the familiarity that comes with being a local to your advantage, and try to reveal locations that the average sightseer would often overlook. One of the best practices for achieving this kind of project is to just take a day, or even just a few hours, to wander around with your camera and actively seek out the interesting and intriguing elements of your home town or suburb that give the area life. Try making a list of any places around the area, big or small, that you find interesting in any way, and just shoot your way through it.

Fujifilm X-T1. Location: Newtown, NSW. Photographer: Trent Crawford

No matter how mundane or ordinary you may think your home town may be, there is always something or somebody there worth documenting. Taking photos of what is familiar to you can expose a whole new perspective of people and places you may often take for granted.

But the main point of advice is to open your eyes to the beautiful and interesting things that surround you in the everyday. Exploring and documenting the everyday life of your own home town is a fantastic creative outlet, and is really something to enjoy and to use to expand your own passion for photography.

Camera
The great thing about photojournalistic endeavours such as this is that the importance is often focused more on creating a snapshot of a time and place. So unlike other, more technically demanding fields of photography, you don’t always need the highest level of camera gear; anything that you are most comfortable taking photos with is just fine.

That being said, it is always incredibly useful to use equipment that allows for manual exposure control, as it opens up worlds of creative and technical opportunities in your photography, so a good DSLR or CSC camera will never go amiss.

Lenses
When it comes to this kind of photography, I believe that the best options are either a mid to wide angle fixed focal length lens, such as a 35mm or 50mm, or a more versatile zoom lens, such as an 18-55mm or 24-70mm.

Bags and straps
It’s always a good idea to invest in reliable transporting equipment for your camera, especially when it comes to photojournalism. Bags and backpacks that allow for quick and easy camera access are always fantastic, as having your camera on hand at all times means that you’re much less likely to miss that perfect shot.

Other Accessories
When shooting outdoors, it’s extremely beneficial to use a lens hood and UV filter, as not only do they help to reduce glare, but they also give some protection against minor bumps and scratches.

Depending on what kind of photos you’re taking or the situations you’re in, a light tripod or monopod will definitely come in handy from time to time.

If you’re like me and love shooting in overcast, rainy weather, then rain covers are absolutely necessary for keeping your equipment safe.

Fujifilm X-T1. Location: Newtown, NSW. Photographer: Trent Crawford

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Old and the New

Written by Daniel Smith




Film... wow the reminiscent quality and grain. Ponder this too much and beware you may be labelled a hipster.

What is it about film that holds such appeal? Is it the romantic notion of an old film camera you used to have, or one that was owned by a friend or relative? We are in an age where the proliferation of imagery is huge. There is the complete saturation of images across our whole waking life and we can take more and more all the time. What I liked about film was the fact that I had a single roll of film, (sometimes more), but often a single roll of film. This had to tell my story.  Like countless photographers before me I had a series of 24 (or 36) frames on which to tell my story. And after shooting this roll of film I had to wait to see the images. Waiting for an image... what a crazy notion!

In an age where Hollywood directors and cinematographers are pushing to shoot their movies on film stock against industry pressure, digital image technology has never been so prolific and accessible. Digital manipulation is often used to emulate the look of film. Instagram, Hipstamatic, Nik software and in-camera effects (amongst others) are all tools that photographers use to give their digital images a film look. This software emulates something beautiful that existed in film. At times we are taking a digital image on a $3000 camera and making it look like it was taken on a light leaking $100 toy camera.

There is a functionality and style that is returning to cameras. After the industry got very caught up with megapixels and zoom size at the advent of digital, a lot of the camera essence was lost. Although dressed in retro garb this essence is coming back. The Nikon Df (pictured) sits as the current leader in this class, with a return to the classic functionality of the camera: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Now while not the first camera to trade on this ‘old is new again’ simplicity it seems to be the one that gets it the most right. At a much bigger size than the Nikon FM2 film camera (pictured) it is no small camera, but wow does it pack a punch.

The Nikon Df is not without its bells and whistles but it in no way feels weighed down by these bells and whistles. Admittedly it is very different to shooting a roll of film, for one there is a screen on the back.  Put a 50mm manual Nikon prime lens on though and the very act of shooting an image and capturing that moment is reminiscent of the simplicity of a good, old school, solid film camera.

If you are wishing for a return to a simpler time, this may be the camera that you have been looking for.

Below are some other back to basics and retro style cameras. What are your thoughts? Have they hit the mark? We would love to hear from some current or ex-film shooters.

Fujifilm X100S
Fujifilm X-Pro1
Fujifilm X-T1
Olympus PEN E-P5
Olympus OM-D EM-5
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GX7
Pentax Q
Nikon Df


ABOVE IMAGE: Somewhat ironically for this blog post about a Nikon digital camera that is designed in a similar style to the older Nikon style film cameras, this shot was taken digitally with a Canon DSLR and then processed to look like a film image on the computer (Nik software).