Nick – Fixed Gear Maestro

Nick, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 110 / 365 (The first proper portrait of the project)

So this isn’t along the theme / side project thing I was working on this week but it’s so much better than what I had planned.
I’d warned a certain flickr ninja about the imminent appearance on one of these in my stream, yesterday evening I got a perfect subject to get my first.
This is Nick, fixed gear maestro and man of all things cool. The man now behind Fixed Gear York and all that it has become, he’s also one mean photograph taker.

The look is that of a man being delayed from a pint of beery bike carbs after 15 or so miles.

Oly E-PL2 / 20mm
I received the funky adapter to let me attach the super cheap OM 50mm f1.8 lens to the E-PL2 today too, looking forwards to having a play when I get chance.

Day 109 / 365

Day 109 / 365, originally uploaded by bang*.

Carrying on with my little side project / theme.
Back to the black & white as to me that’s how I saw these when I took them. I just love the layers that are created in these shots hence why I’m spending a week exploring the subject.

On another note, I have another project I’ve wanted to do for a while that keeps bubbling up in my mind (it’s nothing to do with shop windows though). I guess that it really is a true personal project, yet it’s one that I’ve never really dared approach. I guess the fear of failure is always with me on these kinds of things, maybe the fear of rejection too. Maybe these fears are manifest from the fact I’m not 100% clear in my mind as to why I want to shoot the project, we’ll see.
So why am I writing this on my blog, why tell you I have something I want to do but am too fearful to do it? I guess my thinking is that once the idea is out, I have to act. By sharing the fact this is something I want to do, I in turn create an expectation in myself to do it. So you see the reason I’m telling you is because the only way to develop in this craft is to push your boundaries, get out of your comfort zone, take risks. I have a vision and I guess the fact it keeps bugging me is a sign that this is something I must do. Not for financial gain, not for recognition but for personal growth, to explore my photographic vision and tell a story I feel deserves to be told.

So todays lesson is just that, listen to that voice in your head, the one telling you that something is worth doing. Take risks, get out of your comfort zone.
So what if we fail, as Susan Jeffers said ”You’re not a failure because you didn’t make it. You’re a success because you tried.”

If you have a project or simply one shot you are just dying to take but can’t bring yourself to “Feel the fear but do it anyway”. Why not take that leap of faith, trust in yourself and your abilities.
Let me know if you do, we all need the support of others, we don’t have to know what you want to do, just that you’ve made the decision to do it.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get back to photography rather than trying to start a self help group. It’s just that working and living as a photographer is so much more than lenses, f stops and shutter speeds.

Day 108 / 365

Day 108 / 365, originally uploaded by bang*.

Another little side project / theme this week all being well. I’ll not go into specifics just expect lots of reflections and darkness, just some ideas I want to play with.

To be honest I’m not totally happy with the look of this, I had planned on black & white but then in post production I was drawn to the almost cinematic feel to the tones. I think the pull of colour is also due to all of last weeks shots being black & white too.

Arrrrgh blurred vision.

Well this is what I’ve posted so I can live with it.

Oly PEN / 20mm

Olympus PEN – E-PL2 Long Term Real World Review – Initial Impressions

The PEN, originally uploaded by bang*.

bang | Photography – Marks Olympus PEN – E-PL2 Long term review – Part 1- Initial Thoughts.

Now that I’m sure i’m hanging on to the PEN, here’s the first of a running real world review of the Olympus E-PL2. I figured the blog could do with some asides from the 365 project which seem to be commanding its posts. Plus my feelings for the micro 4/3 system cameras has changed now I’ve had chance to use one for a week or three.

As I say, this is real world review, no test charts, measuring devices or other dull stuff like that. People do those kinds of reviews in other corners of the web so if that’s what you want google is your friend.

Initial impressions –
As the latest incarnation of the digital Olympus PEN this camera has had effectively three younger siblings, the E-P1, E-PL1 & E-P2. Having never used any of the other models I can’t tell you how this one relates to those. I can however compare it to my Leica DLux4, the Leica DigiLux 2 and fairly or unfairly to my Canons.

Things I liked straight away –
Straight out the camera jpegs – The things just pop.

The screen – It’s big and it’s pretty darn bright.

Image quality – Super good for such a little camera.

Depth of Field control – With a larger (than usual compact sized cameras) sensor this is a huge plus to me. Not as good as full frame dslr but the camera is somewhat smaller and much more portable.

Noise control – Higher iso capability means I’m willing to push beyond where I used to with the DLux4. It isn’t a 5D mk ii though.

Hot Shoe – Well all my other cameras had one too but it’s still a huge plus for me (actually it’s a must).

Its looks – Hey to me how my cameras look plays a big part in my choice or purchase. The kit lens may be an okay lens but it spoils the look of the camera to me. Hence my instant purchase of the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (well that and the fact I choose to mainly shoot with prime lenses)

It’s customisation ability – Sure the menus could cause some people problems, me however I just jumped right in and got it working how I wanted. Again to me this is a must, I have to have complete control over my camera otherwise It just doesn’t feel (or look) right.

Some things I’m not too keen on –
The kit lens – I know it’s a good lens and all image quality wise, and for most (actually probably all) the other users it will be a perfect companion. It just spoils the retro look of the time for me, the max aperture is kind of slow and the collapsable thing just bugs me too. When I’m out and about I like my camera ready for use but compact enough to sit by my side. Stick one of the pancake primes on and it’s perfect though.

The Strap – Again this is a personal thing. They could have gone for a more retro piece rather than the advertising. Needless to say mine never graced the camera.

ISO 200 as lowest ISO – Grrrrrrgh. Sure it’s only two stops from all my other cameras, but come on that’s two whole stops. If I’m using this thing with flash I’m going to be wanting lower iso some times to knock out some ambient light (again I’m of the minority users of this camera who will want this, most will be happy with the increased iso speed). Also combine this with the max shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second. I’m a fast prime lens shooter and as such like large apertures. On a number of occasions already I’ve been forced to stop down If I want to keep exposure correct, hence having to compromise my vision for the shot.

The Battery life – It pretty much sucks compared to everything but the Leica DigiLux2 (which was pretty old tech batterywise). I’m not sure if the battery warning comes on too early (although this can be tweaked in camera too) but I’m constantly aware of how quickly it seems to appear. Actually after further use I’ve found one battery struggles to power a full day shooting, this weekend I got about 290 shots to the battery and was left powerless at 10pm. I managed a few turn it back ons to grab a couple of extra shots but in todays world I do expect one battery to manage at least one full day. I’m not expecting the 1600+ shots I can get from one charged 1D or 5D battery but still 300 all out seems pretty weak.

As yet no “proper” RAW support – Adobe have candidate releases of LR3 and Camera RAW which support the Oly RAW files but as yet no stable support. Although with the quality of the jpegs this isn’t too much of a problem.

It’s noise – The Leicas I used were both very (read almost silent) quiet. My Canons make noise but aren’t really built for stealth anyway. I thought the PEN would be along the compact camera quiet lines. However it makes a “real” noise, sure it isn’t deafening but it is perceivable in quieter places. Just something to consider I guess. It’s sound is something akin to that of stepping on a big beetle, kind of squelchy.

So those are my initial thoughts after three weeks use. Some things I have figured out work arounds, others I’ve learned to live with. One thing is for certain though, I do love the thing and really love how it renders what I put before it. Compared to any other compact camera I’ve used this blows them away in this respect. I’ve compared it against the 5D mk ii / 35mm f2 and to tell you the truth they are pretty darn close under good “normal” lighting (actually quite frighteningly close). I’ll probably do a comparison post latter in the year so you can see what I mean. I’ve shot some studio portraits with the PEN and they came out beautifully (the jpegs were spot on).
People following my 365 project may have noticed I’ve shot most of my images over the last three weeks with the PEN (and the Panasonic 20mm, which is a very very good lens). It seems to just do what I want and expect it too pretty much all of the time. On that note if you wish to see more sample images from the PEN just browse through either here on the blog (I normally indicate which camera I’ve shot images with) or through my flickr stream (same with the camera details).
Only time will tell if it continues to impress as I push it further.

So far so good for the might small Olympus E-PL2.

I’ve heard internet rumblings about an E-P3 possible release this year. Judging by Olympus’ speedy model upgrades so far I’d expect this to be true. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do to improve this little camera. I am thinking someone needs to put out a fast wide angle prime for the micro 4/3 system though, the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 is good as it serves a good 28mm relative, but something like a 12mm f2 would just be peachy (24mm (relative) and fast, perfect landscape, interiors and for me travel lens when paired with the 20mm (40mm relative)).

More to follow in later updates through the year.

Love York / Love York

Love York / Love York, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 107 / 365

We had a little wander around the city today, enjoying the sunshine and the happy vibe going on at the moment.
I’ve been thinking about my favourite York haunts for a possible upcoming little special (more on this at a later date as we’re still trying to work out the details and such, Hi Elizabeth 🙂 )
Anyway, I’ve been shooting a lot of fun abstracty images the last few days in preparation for the project, this shot is something I’ve had on the hit list for a while, I thought it would be quite fitting. Plus I was missing the colour in my photostream.

We even had a super nice Sunday roast lunch at one of my fav little places, local food, local ale, what’s not to like. You just gotta Love York.

Oly PEN, 20mm.

Shadow Waves

Shadow Waves, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 106 / 365

Saying goodbye to Shadow week.

Super day out yesterday (today, whatever). Hence the late posting.

Big drive, big breakfast ,big walks, big cake, big lakes, big house, big trees, big hill, big fish & chips, big dark ocean, big neon lights.
I think we both needed it.

Oly PEN, 20mm

Chain Linked

Chain Linked, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 105 / 365

Shadow Week.

Not much in the way of sun today so I had to be quick. I managed to get these two shots during the 2 minutes of the sun showing its face. Phew! Good job I was out with the camera already otherwise I’d have had to break out the speedlights and get creative.
I know chainlink fences are somewhat cliche, it’s a 365 project the odd cliche’s allowed.

Olympus E-PL2, 20mm

Shutter Shadows

Shutter Shadows, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 104 / 365

Shadow Week

Quiet day by myself in the office today, getting lots of catching up done. Feeling pretty mellow too after the Beth Orton gig last night.
Oh almost forgot, If you’re enjoying the lines and shadows this week and wonder where some of the inspiration comes from check out Ray K. Metzker and you’ll see what I’ve been looking at lately. Well actually this is what I’ve been looking at.

Olympus E-PL2, 20mm f1.7

March Review finally up on the blog.

Project 365 – March

Project 365 – March, originally uploaded by bang*.

March Review – 365 Project

Hey it’s only two weeks overdue.
As such It’s going to be a short(ish) recap of what I liked, didn’t like & what I’ve learnt, along with some link love to places I find interesting / inspirational etc. on the web.

March seems to have been the month of many cameras, looking over the shots I’m fairly sure I’ve shot images on seven different cameras. The Leica DLux4 has been replaced by my Olympus E-PL2 but that wasn’t before I had a play with a Leica DigiLux. I’m loving the little Olympus PEN, especially with the 20mm Panasonic lens on the front. It’s such a good looking, compact, heavy hitting piece of technology, I’ve drafted the first of an ongoing review of the camera for on here, so should be posting that in the next few days for anyone interested. Along with the compacts I’ve also shot with both my Canons, the iPhone and also (for the first tie this year) some film.
I like how because I’m shooting more, I’m having more time to play and experiment with my photography. Shooting with the Lordomat rangefinder has been fun too, after running through the first roll in about 20 minutes I settled down into a more relaxed but deliberate state of mind. Film slows me down, well fully manual cameras loaded with film do anyway. Partly due to having to take everything into consideration, focus and exposure along with composition but also partly due to the cost involved. The very descision of firing the shutter is so much more considered to me with film, not to say I just spray and pray when shooting with the digital cameras, it’s just with film you have 36 shots and each one is going to cost you. Even more so when ones car is due for a service and your preparing for it to mug you again.

I love looking at these mosaic images formed from a months work, here is where you can see if your work is united in theme or style. Is there a consistency in what you’re creating? I’m not saying that it has to for everyone, just that I feel that I have a grasp of how I want my images to look, my style, my vision. That’s something that develops over time, but is much more important than all the megapixel, iso boost, face detection nonsense that camera companies will have you believe matter.

I can feel a rant coming on so must repress it, just to say, too often we become blinded by the technology, the lust for new, the camera-geekery. Somewhere along the line a lot of people are forgot what this is all about. Now I know a lot of people go in for all these fancy features as they just want a camera that will take nice pictures of the family and places they visit. I’m guessing those people don’t really read my blog, if you do, Hi!, but also to those people it’s not the camera that takes the picture. Well actually it is the camera that TAKES the picture but it’s you the photographer that MAKES the picture. I’ll not get into the various ways one can respond to the phrase “Wow, you must have a really expensive camera to take beautiful photographs like that”. Just to say that I’m pretty certain that Michelangelo used regular old brushes when painting the Sistine Chapel and Shakespeare would have managed just fine with a pencil and paper.

Ooops that was me repressing my rant.

Also you can probably disregard what I said about this being a short recap . . . . . . . . . .



So after that little aside, down to the business of my March 365 work.

Shots I’m really happy with.
I enjoyed the colour theme, it kind of shows by looking at the mosaic that I have a respect for the use of colour in my photographs. I’m quite deliberate in my choice and usage of it, as I feel in this regard it’s impact is intensified. I guess you can describe my style as minimal, or simple if you like. I’m not the guy who is going to have a busy image with lots going on, I’m very controlled & considered in my placement of the elements within the frame (some of this is thanks to the author of said book “Within the Frame” – D DuChemin) this includes colour too.
I’ve also shot a fair amount of street images this month, I seem to have been lucky to be in the right place at the right time on a number of occasions. I really like “Punk & Pink” and “Every Cloud”.
To be honest I’m happy with almost all of my shots from this March, some really stand out to me as really good work, others just sit at the “i’m happy with that” level.
My fav of the month? Probably “Stars over the City” but saying that I can see some things I’d like to improve in it.

So what I’m not so happy with.
Again there are a couple of shots which just didn’t do it for me this month. Sometimes the image I saw in my head just wouldn’t reveal itself in the camera, other times I was just being lazy and paid for it with a weak image. Either way if these images are the price I have to pay for the shots I’m really in love with then so be it, I learnt a while ago that the price of success is quite often failure. So I’ll take ten clunkers if that is what it takes to get one beautiful photograph. If I come out of this years project with just ten photographs of exhibition quality I’d consider it a success (suckcess 🙂 ) as that would be ten great photographs I wouldn’t have otherwise taken. On that note five of them are already hung on display so I guess I’m headed in the right direction.

Okay if you’ve managed this far It’s time for me to give a little more link love in keeping with last months promise.
The whole blog thing is a great way to get your work out there into the world, probably more importantly it’s a great way to meet other people sharing their work too. People who are willing to share their thoughts or a little of their time to let you know how they see things. It’s a brilliant brilliant thing, and for a creative person, has so much potential for food for thought.
This last month I’ve not had as much time as I’d like to look through others blogs, I have my list that I like to work through (it’s getting longer too). However here are three more that I’d like to share with you as places of interest;

I think I must have raved about Penny before but I just love her work and her ethos on photography. Have a dig around her older work and you’ll see what I mean. She’s a very down to earth but full of life and energy woman, plus she has a cool sounding name. – Penny De Los Santos

Okay, number two comes from my street work this month. Greg shoots so much stuff and although I’ll admit some is way better than the rest he is forming one hell of a body of work. Not sure how he’s going to make any money out of it but that isn’t always the goal is it. – Just What I See

My last is a little different, as I said these are places of inspiration for me. My inspiration comes from many places and takes many forms, a lot of times it comes from within after my mind has had chance to consider all that I have given it. However, much like the JR video from yesterday, sometimes I see something that makes me reassess things, makes me want to DO something. So here we are, the DO Lectures, lots of great stuff on here and LOTS of thought provoking ideas – The DO Lectures

So what’s the plan headed forwards?
Well it’s already half way through April, day 100 has been and gone. I received a really nice email yesterday with a very interesting idea in it (more to follow, as I haven’t even replied yet). I have some good (well I think they’re good) ideas for other projects formulating in my head, a possible workshop coming up, exhibitions and some pretty good jobs in the pipelines.

Thanks again to all those who have taken the time and left comments on here over the last month. I love your input, your thoughts and the fact something has compelled you to share those with me.


Light / Switch

Light / Switch, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 103 / 365

Shadow Week.

Another heavy contrast graphic image for today. I’ve never really noticed how the light falls on this wall before. Lucky for me I did today.
Not much to add today, busy day shooting and we’re off out tonight for some well earned R & R.
Busy day tomorrow too as I have about a weeks worth of email & accounts to catch up on ( ahh the glamourous life of a photographer).
So in the time you might normally spend reading my thoughts why not take a photograph, draw a picture, write a poem, just take a few minute to yourself and create something. Don’t worry about the final product just enjoy the creative process, the journey from empty space to whatever you come up with.