New Beginnings.



New Beginnings., originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 59 / 365

The courier came today and we did a little swapsies, one big box out and a smaller box in. Inside said smaller box was a little something which has taken me the last five years of my career to finally obtain with a clear conscience.
Different people approach gear in different ways. Me, I’m a right tool for the right job kind of guy. If something will do the job then why use anything fancier (read more expensive). Take my old 50mm f1.8, sure it’s made out of plastic, yeah the focus motor sounds is a bit noisy but that lens is more than capable of producing beautiful, vibrant, client pleasing photographs. Clients don’t care what equipment you use to take a photograph, how much time it took you in photoshop to make it look that way, all they care about is the final image, period.
So that has always been my ethos when it comes to buying equipment, look at the options then look at my list of must dos, then buy the most appropriate thing. The canon 50mm was replaced with the Sigma 50mm as I needed something faster in lower light conditions, and I needed something more reliable in focusing.

With all this being said though, we all have a wish list of kit that one day we’d love to own. Many people ask to me, “why don’t you just go and buy it, the business will pay for it anyway?” Well yeah the business will pay for it, but the business is me and I’d much rather go buy the kit that I need and be able to pay my rent, afford a nice holiday, put petrol (gas) in the car etc. I know photographers who go out and buy all the latest and greatest kit as soon as it’s released. Guess what, you know all that second hand top end spec. gear for sale, that used to belong to those now bankrupt and out of business photographers. Zack Arias does a great workshop going over this very thing, I can’t remember the link right now and he’s mid website changeover but that guy is a rock in this industry, he’s the self proclaimed suck-sessful photographer. If you haven’t watched the film he put together for Scott Kelby’s blog a while back GO WATCH IT, it’s pretty emotive stuff.
“I’m going a hundred miles an hour down a dead-end road. . . . . . . “.

David DuChemin also touts the mantra “Gear’s good, vision’s better”. This I’m also a firm believer in, there are many ways to achieve the shot, not just by using top end gear. For pretty much all photographers our gear is ahead of our vision 99% of the time.

Yeah yeah yeah I hear you cry, what was in the blooming box?
Well I’m not spoiling that secret yet, it’s a lens as I say I’ve lusted after for some time. After years of hard work and creative development, I came to a junction in my career where I realised that I was ready for it. It has a place in my kit bag that can’t be filled by anything else. It has a look and signature that I’ve come to understand is my own.

My personal lens trinity is complete (this is beginning to sound like a film script). It’s the beginning of a new chapter for bang photography and by the end of the year a final few loose ends will be tidied up and I’ll be where I want to be. With a lot of hard work, grit, determination and luck anyway.

Also, I’m going to stop stating what I’m shooting with unless It has some basis in the explanation. I think it’s time to get back to our artist and give the geek some time off.

Out with the old . . . . .



Out with the old . . . . ., originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 58 / 365

It was kind of odd not having to find a bike to shoot today, although I did miss it. I still went out in to the city to see what was around, I even saw the owner of one of the bike from in the week riding alongside the river.
However it only seemed fitting that as this kit will be leaving my service tomorrow I should give them a fitting send off.

Goodbye old friends, here’s to the future.

My 1D mkii has been with me from new, so that’s 2004 until now. Seven years of hard service without so much as a grumble. Sure we’ve killed some batteries in that time, the sensors had a clean or ten but other than that it’s been hassle free. So why sell? well it’s a little long in the tooth for me now, I have a 1D mkIII along with my 5D mkii which both take the workload, so it’s off to a less frantic home.

My EF 50mm f1.8 II has also been in service for about the same amount of time, with pretty much the same record. Yep this is the lens I consistently tell people to buy when they ask what they should get. So why am I selling it? well ever since I took delivery of the Sigma 50mm f1.4 and learnt it’s ways the Canon nifty fifty hasn’t had a look in.

Finally it’s the EF 24-105mm f4 L, a beautiful, technically brilliant lens. L series glass, image stabiliser and not too heavy. Many people claim it to be the perfect walk around, travel lens. For me that f4 aperture just isn’t cutting it anymore, I’ve shot countless jobs and beautiful photographs with this lens. It’s answered nearly all that I could ask of it, when the aperture is wide open and the light is really bad that image stabiliser is a saviour. As I say though, wide open is f4 and I desire lenses with a certain look and character about them. This zoom is almost too good in that it’s a little too clinical in its image quality.

I’m all about the prime lenses this year (well in the standard range anyway) sure I’m hanging on to my crazy wide Sigma 12-24mm and my portrait / lifestyle must have Canon 70-200mm but they both have a purpose for certain jobs so I’d be stupid to get rid of them just yet.
It’s the refinement of my vision and creative process that has led me down this path, these are exciting times and I’m ready to face some new challenges.

In contrast to todays photograph, I’d probably expect something similar tomorrow but the other side of the story, ie. In with the new. That’s all depending on a certain parcel arriving though.

Saturday Montage – Bike Week Final Day

Day 57 / 365.

So today herelds the end of bike week for my 365 project. I’d say this had been the most enjoyable week yet for me during this project. Probably for a number of reasons, including that I’ve been shooting primes (or a taped off zoom), I’ve enjoyed the restriction of subject, I’ve made some creative business descisions which I’m certain are correct.

I’ve a feeling this won’t be the last shot of bikes in my stream or my 365 project. A number of people have requested more and I’ve some really intersting ideas to take this thing further so look out for that later in the year.
As to todays shot/s, I felt it only fitting to finish with a slight encore, so four bikes for the price of one (and a little B&W action to boot).
If I had to choose just one to be my 365 shot it would be the bottom right. Sure it’s a dirty, wet alleyway but the way the light was falling just so and the suggestion of the bike. It just begged for B&W.
Thanks for tuning in for bike week, I’m not sure where I’m headed next week but expect some new arrivals.

Being honest one of my new arrivals made it here today (just as I’d finished outputting todays shots). I’ve had a quick play and try, it’s a lovely thing and is giving me the look I so desire from my kit. What is this thing? Well I’m creating my own trinity of lenses built around the Sigma 50mm, I decided on something a little wider and something a little longer, that’s all I’m saying at the moment.
My old workhorse from back in the day the Canon 24-105mm f4 L is saying goodbye on Monday, she isn’t being used as much as she used to be. I’ve tested it against my other lenses and although being a wonderful, sharp, technically beautiful lens, it’s just not for me anymore. I need something else, it’s not all about image sharpness, it’s about character, emotion and other “arty” things like that. Will I regret letting go of many peoples idea of a perfect walk around lens? Well I’ve been thinking long and hard about it over the last month or two and with the new line up I’m bringing in and my other lenses, I honestly don’t think I will.
I’m pretty sure I’ve got the new “trinity” spot on but I’ll wait until I get chance to give them all a good workout next week before confirming it.

Miss Grace



Miss Grace, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 56 / 365 – Bike Week Cycle Chic continues.

The cycle chic gods were smiling down on me today. It just goes to show that if you keep on looking you’ll find a gem. This is looking like the favourite for bike of the week.
So it was one of those drizzly mornings and I was beginning to think I’d never find anything beautiful. I’d got some good shots of an injured commuter bike against a red brick wall which I liked but the light was really bad. I was about to call it a day when I walked up to this.
It’s a Gazelle Miss Grace and she’s pretty right? So much so that you get five photographs instead of the usual one or two.
In honesty I think the sun rise this morning fooled a number of people into thinking it was going to be a nice day, this does not look like a rainy day bike to me.
The green paint, wicker basket, retro lines with modern comfort and that front light is amazing looking tucked up in there.
This is the kind of bike that should make anybody want to ride.
The details on this thing were just out of this world and the metal engraved badge on the top tube just finished it all off.

Shot with the Canon 5D mkii and my trusty Sigma 50mm at f1.4 (as always).
I’d just popped the lensbaby on and was starting to fear I needed to take a different path shooting wise but as soon as I saw this bike it went straight back in the bag. I knew how I wanted this series to turn out and the lensbaby look had no part in it.

Every shot just popped out of the camera, the look the sigma shot wide open has on the 5D is just beautiful. It complements my style and vision so much that it’s become almost scary how I know exactly what I’m going to get before I shoot.
This is the feeling I lack with some of my other lenses, so much so that I decided to do something about that this year. I’ve had (like most photographers) a wish list of lenses for a long time, some have been removed as I learnt more what my style was and how I shoot but others have become more desired. Now I’m also a HUGE Leica lover and if ever I come into a HUGE amount of money I’ll be ordering an M9 with a 35mm & 50mm in a flash. However the M9 isn’t really a camera which suits my professional work, it would hinder rather than free me.
One thing that has come from my M9 lust though is the whole simplified lens thing, Leica users tend to have one or two lenses and that is it, us dslr folks though for some reason desire to have every possible focal length covered. I don’t just mean 24mm, 35mm, 50mm etc etc, we feel the need to fill in the gaps too 24, 25, 26, 27 . . . . . you get my drift. In my early days I had a 50mm and a 75mm, that was it. Now I’m covered from 12mm-300mm and I don’t think it’s helping.
So the refinement of my vision and style is beginning, a lens revolution is happening here at bang Photography, I like things zen, simple and clean. In this respect I’m making plans to usher in the Prime brigade. Out with the zooms and in with some lenses with a little character, lenses that make me think a little more and work for my shots. I may not be ready for the manual focus of the Leica just yet, but the ethos behind fixed focal lengths, I’m all over that.
So what’s going to be in my bag? That’s still under wraps until I’m certain I find what I’m looking for, I know what I use and I know the look I want (selfish aren’t I?). I think I’ve got it about right but the proof will be in the next couple of weeks with some testing.

Shabby Cycle Chic



Shabby Cycle Chic, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 55 / 365 – Bike Week day 5

Faded glory, aged elegance, everyday beauty.
This one just struck me as all those things. An everyday bicycle with a faded beauty, harking back to younger days and warm summer evenings. It evoked an image of country lanes, a girl wearing a long summer dress with her hair blowing in the gentle breeze.
The matching leather saddle, white wall tyres and wire basket against the frame and chrome details made for a beautiful example of “Cycle Chic” if only a little shabby around the edges.

Canon 5D mkii, loaded with the Sigma 50mm again as the lack of depth of field I’m getting with the 35mm at f4 is starting to bug me and the Sigma at f1.4 is just bang on the look I want, no other lens I have gives me that look at the moment. I’m going to say it reminds me a little of the look from certain Leica lenses, strong praise I know.

I’ve had a number of people enjoying and sharing my bike week work over the last couple of days, so firstly a huge thankyou to those who have enjoyed my work of late. Secondly this little side project seems to have resonated with people and myself more than I had initial realised. It’s made the 365 project somewhat easier, knowing what my shot is going to be before I even get out of bed in the morning is a beautiful thing for a creative. I do feel a little like a hunter stalking the city streets for just the right bike but it’s a process I’m really enjoying. I’ll admit that ladies bikes are far more beautiful than the gents. Having said that the good looking mens bikes tend to be really expensive so I don’t expect to see them left in the street. I can feel a side project forming out of this week, and maybe i’ll continue hunting out bikes a little while longer than I intended, kind of like the Sartorialist but for bikes and cyclists (man i LOVE that site).
I’ve spent a good few hours browsing the blogs of those who have commented on here and I found some really interesting sites and I’ll try to link to some of my favourites over the next few weeks. Also one site had some really great photographs of bikes also, I love the first one of the bike against the white fence, to me it looks like it was shot with a lensbaby and it made me think about breaking my lensbaby out for this project too, so thanks for that Kerry, beautiful shots.

Triumph



Triumph, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 54 / 365

Ha ha, it’s still a bike right?

I couldn’t pass this beautiful Triumph without giving it some camera time. I loved this detail angle with it’s almost black & white nature. I’m still experimenting with the 24-105mm taped to 35mm. I’m happy with the focal length, but really desire the depth of field I get from the Sigma 50mm f1.4.

So yesterday afternoon was interesting to say the least. My humble blog gained some huge exposure thanks to the WordPress.com Freshly Pressed front page. Big thanks to the WP team for sending a whole lot of love my way. I have to admit I was feeling a little pressure to find a shot worthy for today, not to mention getting all paranoid about all this wordsmithing thing. I tend to write as I think, or as I would speak if I were to tell you face to face about the shot.

Luckily I’m pretty happy with this shot. Being my usual self-critic though, I wanted more of that red light cover. The problem including it though was the yellow number plate below which would have crept into the frame, thus removing the strength of the red in the image. So I should have moved vantage point right? well I could but then the Triumph logo would have been covered by the chrome rack. Change optics? ha ha I can’t remember, 35mm.
Ah the fun of composition, it’s just as much about what you exclude from the frame as to what you include. A mighty fine photographer who is much better in the art of expressing himself with words has written at length about this very thing along with putting a series of podcasts together about it, along with the vision thing which I tend to go on about quite a bit on here.
To be brutally true though a photographer without vision is pretty much a photocopier.

Not much in the way of post processing, just a nice “filmic” treatment again, so that’s neutral creamy colours with a nice amount of definition and pop. It helps if you get it right in the camera to start too though but you already knew that right?

Back to sifting through contact sheets to choose a batch of gallery pieces.

Porteur



Porteur, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 53 / 365

Still managing to hunt out bikes in the city. I found this green machine hanging outside the Library, I liked how all of the colours work within the frame, oh and the cork grips (tres chic).
Oh yeah, for those not of much of a bike background Porteur is what shape the handbars are, a relaxed, warm summers day, cruising down the river with a picnic & bottle of red in your bag kind of thing.

I’m having a little experiment along with the bike hunting. I’m in the process of clearing out a lot of old / little used gear and along with that I’m thinking of dumping my 24-105mm L. She’s a great lens don’t get me wrong, it’s just I don’t use it as much as I used to. Most of my portraits are now covered with the Sigma 50mm or the Canon 70-200mm. My interiors work can be shot on the Sigma 50mm and 12-24mm. So I’m looking at something in the 35mm range to fill the gap that would be left. To be honest the choices aren’t all that astounding as I’m a full-frame boy. Canon 28 f1.8, 35 f2, 35 f1.4. Now one of these lenses has a rather unfair advantage over the other two, in that it’s been on my wish list for a couple of years. People with some understanding of the Canon lens line up will understand why it’s been on the wish list for so long (price).
So anyway to my experiment, the 24-105 is currently sporting a lovely ring of gaffer tape around it’s barrel keeping it firmly set at 35mm. Just to see if I can make do with the field of vision on a day to day basis, so far i’ve discovered I’d like a shallower depth of field (my only gripe with the 24-105 when used wide) Although on this shot I’m happy with it.

Signs of Use



Signs of Use, originally uploaded by bang*.

52 / 365

I decided after yesterdays shot that it should be bike week. Pretty easy to find a bike in the city, the challenge is finding one with a bit of character and in a half decent spot. Todays rain didn’t help but then I quite dig the droplets on the bars so there you go.

I’ve an exhibition piece I’m working on (well started working on today). It’s been in the idea phase for a couple of days after one of those zing! moments.
It’s to fill a 1 metre by 1 metre space and at the moment I’m planning on filling it with a one hundred photograph montage. Each individual photograph would appear pretty mundane if taken out of context but together I’m thinking it’s going to have some pop. Well that’s the plan.
It’s more of an art piece than I usually create so I’m enjoying the process, although I’m getting some pretty fun looks from people witnessing me taking photos of the floor, especially in todays rain.

Worth it? I’m going to have to get back to you on that one. The idea sounds good, I’m just not sure if I can pull it off as I only have a week left for submission

Theme song to today – “Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage (Obviously)

Cycle Chic

Cycle Chic, originally uploaded by bang*.

51 / 365
Cycle Chic

Feeling a little generous today so I’ve put a diptic together. I had no plan what I wanted to shoot for todays image, well that’s not entirely true, I have a wide angle, 10 sec f22 exposure city shot I want to take but I’m waiting on the weather for that one.

So I loaded up the 50mm on the 5D and headed out into the city. A few things caught my eye, two pigeons roosting high on an aged building facade, some funky side alleyways, A traffic sign (random eh?) and some bins. Oh yeah and a papered out shop window during a refit, only the paper they used is Christmas wrapping paper so It just says “Is this for me Santa?” repeatedly over the windows.

In the end though you get a shopper bike.

I wanted more of a filmic look to todays shot, I’ve been on a slightly nostalgic trip for the film days of late. I’ve very nearly bought a Voigtlander Bessa on a number of occasions just to shoot some 35mm colour reversal film. So in that regard I’ve gone for a slide film look here, smooth & creamy, neutral colours, with just a slight warm tone. It’s not a million miles away from what I consider my “normal” look so that probably explains a lot.

I found a great website that runs down the strengths & weaknesses of films from the past, for anyone wanting to try and get that filmic look back it’s worth a read. It also has reviews of a load of other photographic equipment, I’ve never looked at anything but the film reviews but it may have something of use elsewhere too.

Project 365 – January Review



Project 365 – January, originally uploaded by bang*.

Hoorah, as promised here’s the review of the 365 project for January. Sure I know it’s nearly March but I didn’t really get into the swing of this until February anyway.

I’m going to try and break down the review into; which shots I like most & least, what I’ve learnt, how I’m planning on proceeding.

My overall impression to the work I’ve created so far is that I’m pretty happy with it, some of the shots sat well within my “safety zone” others pushed my boundaries beyond my “normal” look. I wouldn’t say there’s a theme or even a encompassing style that ties all of the months shots together. This is probably partly due to using different cameras and not fully appreciating how much time can be required some days. The shots taken with my Canons are united in style, the iphone shots are united in style and the Leica shots are too. So maybe that’s something to take forward, maybe anything not shot on the Canons should be black & white from now on in an attempt to tie everything together more.

So on to which shot/s I prefer; that’s a tricky one for me as the artist to decide. As when I look at the photographs I’m reminded by the circumstances in which they were taken, the effort / time / skill needed to create the image. This comes down to my ability to be self critical and objective about the work, something which I luckily learnt early in my career (although sometimes I can be known to take the self criticism too far). I’d probably say I’m happiest with the shots of the Red leaf (that’s the magic floaty leaf to some) they just have something about them which confirms what this project is all about to me. They’re photographs which I wouldn’t have otherwise created, yet they have a commercial value. I highly enjoyed the process of creating them and was honestly really happy with the results. Everything clicked, from initial conception to final image. I ventured along creative pathways which otherwise would have gone unexplored and that Is probably what pleased me the most.

As to the photograph I’m least happy with, well the Rock Jock shot on day three was a clanger, Forkeh (although marvelously named) is a nothing shot really and Riding Dirty didn’t tell the story it was meant to. Of the three Riding Dirty should have been much more so I guess it’s the one I’m least happy with.

So what have I learnt so far along this self prescribed road?
Well there are a number of good photographic blogs out there for anyone wanting some inspiration (or distraction). I’ll probably link to some in future posts.
Flickr has a “look”, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, It just has. Maybe I’ll expand on this in the future or maybe I’ll just keep it to myself.
Having ideas and lists of ideas is good but don’t forget to execute those ideas otherwise what use are they.
It’s not as simple as just “taking an photograph everyday”. Well to me it isn’t. I have a standard and style of shooting which I strive to maintain and evolve, by just grabbing a quick shot I’m damaging my own integrity. So to further this point, this project is taking up more time than I originally envisaged.
There are good days and bad days, you never know what kind of day it’s going to be.

How am I planning on proceeding?
Well February has been a rollercoaster month for the project so far, more client jobs has meant a busier schedule and it’s only going to get harder as the year progresses. I’m enjoying that part of it though, it’s a nice timeout. So planning and scheduling are going to be more important.
I guess I’d like to try and tie the work together more so that If indeed I do put a book together at the end of the year it will flow a little easier.
Also I may start to look into some themed weeks, like colours or portraits or something.

I’d like to thank those who have commented, given feedback or said they’re enjoying the project so far. It means a lot. I’m working along the Create, Share, Sustain ethos. Sure it’s a personal project and I only really have myself to impress, it’s about creative growth but if in the sharing others gain something then that makes it all the more worthwhile. As for the sustaining, well lets just say some of the photographs will be appearing on more than just flickr.