“If we consider the zoom range and fixed f4 aperture in the FUJINON lenses in this segment, to me, the most reasonable option is XF16-80mm. From wide-angle to a medium telephoto zoom range makes this lens ideal especially for street and travel photographers. Even for general architectural shots (no ultra-wide angle), the lens has high-end features that will satisfy anyone who wants to work with a single lens. Let’s look at the other details….”
FUJIFILMglobal: Huseyin Aldirmaz x XF16-80mmF4 R OIS WR / FUJIFILM
Each year I always look forward to the Sydney edition, as it were, of Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras event and that anticipation is no less eager this year with the event coming up for tomorrow, Saturday September 7th, 2019.
I will be carrying my trusty Fujifilm X-Pro2 and a handful of Fujifilm Fujinon prime lenses, along with an X-H1 kindly loaned by Fujifilm Australia’s PR folks.
I have been enjoying the many virtues of the X-H1, and am hoping that an X-H2 is on the horizon for release early 2020, if we are lucky.
The X-H1 in combo with my X-Pro2 is a powerful kit when engaged in documentary work and portrait photography.
The X-H1 is, of course, the better option of the two for top-quality video using the Pro Neg Standard, Eterna Cinema or F-Log profile depending on taste and need, and I highly recommend using Paul Leeming’s settings below when shooting with the X-H1, X-T3 or X-Pro2, as well as their other cameras.
When shooting video, or stills for that matter, always best to expose to the right aka ETTR in order to avoid burnout at the shoulder end of the exposure scale.
Paul Leeming’s video settings for Fujifilm cameras:
Pro Neg Std (best option on the X-Pro2), Eterna Cinema, F-log (or HLG for the X-T3)
H265 recording format
DR100 for all profiles
Highlight tone 0
Shadow tone 0
Noise Reduction -4
Zebra level 100%
I have been hoping a lens like Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR would turn up for quite some time since acquiring my first interchangeable lens Fujifilm camera, a standard zoom lens offering better quality than the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom which has, however, proven surprisingly good for its class though the latter is not everything I might wish for.
The X-Pro2 and X-T3’s lack of in-body image stabilization ruled out considering the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR, a lens that appears better suited to a gripped IBIS-equipped X-H1 than the two smaller cameras.
My time in DSLR-land with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and its Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom lens taught me the value of lenses with optical image stabilization and a bit extra on the long end of the focal length scale when shooting documentary stills and video.
The in-development announcement of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR came as a pleasant surprise to many of us who had been hoping for a one-lens replacement for several prime lenses when weight and size would be an issue and Hüseyin Aldırmaz’s report on his experience with a pre-production copy looks promising.
Now to the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR’s release and falling into the hands of well-qualified non-Fujifilm Ambassadors for some in-depth reviews so we have some idea of whether this is the all-purpose standard zoom lens we have been waiting for.
I was lucky enough to spend a very short time with a pre-production model of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR at last Saturday’s Fujifilm People With Cameras event in Sydney and can report that the lens feels good and solid with fast autofocus and good balance on the Fujifilm X-T3 upon which it was mounted.
I was asked not to save any photographs or video shot with it so my assessment is limited.
Thanks to the ever-keen eyes of the folks at Fuji Rumors, I have now added some reviews of pre-production versions of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR to the links list below.
Enjoy, until the first in-depth reviews of the production version of this lens start appearing.
Bill Fortney – The New Mid-Range King! – “I will cut to the chase and tell you now it will replace the 18-135 as my standard middle zoom. In fact for my upcoming trip to the UP of Michicgn and Acadia N.P, it and the 10-24, and 100-400 will be my three zoom package. “
Fujifilm South Africa – THOUGHTS ON THE FUJINON 16-80MM F/4 – Anton Bosman – “For professionals who are looking for an all day carry around lens and for the traveller who is looking for a compact carrying kit, yet they still want the ability to create images that will hold their own against the best on any platform. For videographers there is good news, the lens has very little breathing.“
Ivan Joshua Loh – XF16-80mm. – “If you are looking for a zoom lens; this could be it. Of course there is the XF18-135mm lens but I would go for the XF16-80mm. I would prefer a wider advantage than a tele. I would not use this lens professionally as the optically on a different level when compare with XF16-55mm F2.8”
jonasrask|photography – Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR first look preview – “The XF16-80mm f/4 R WR OIS is without a doubt one of the new Fujinon XF classics. It is a phenomenal performer with great image stabilisation, and good IQ throughout the zoom range. Especially at 50-80mm. It’s sharp and has good looking out-of focus rendering. It focuses very fast and precise, and the build quality is fantastic.”
Leeming LUT Pro – production of Paul Leeming’s LUT pack for Fujifilm XF cameras is currently under way.
I always try to attend Fujifilm’s annual People with Cameras in Sydney each year and was able to be there for much of this year’s event held at Doltone House on Darling Island Wharf in Pyrmont on Saturday the 7th September 2019.
More female photographers seem to attend each year, a welcome trend given the low numbers of female photographers and moviemakers who manage to make it professionally in Australia in particular and globally in general.
Those low numbers are not from want of talent but from systemic issues favouring male practitioners and thus the peculiarities of the male gaze and the male power structure, but I am hopeful that female representation in all aspects of photography and moviemaking will continue increasing to the point of parity, rapidly rather than slowly.
I carried a Think Tank Photo MindShift Gear BackLight 26L backpack containing my Fujifilm X-Pro2, a borrowed Fujifilm X-H1, a Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and a Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens both of which were also borrowed, and my own Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lenses.
I managed to very briefly borrow a Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR and a pre-production model of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR standard zoom lens which is due for release later this year.
I ended up swapping between my 56mm lens and the borrowed 18mm lens for this event but wondered if I might have been better served by the 50-140mm zoom lens or the 50mm f/2.0 prime in conjunction with the 16mm lens or the reportedly excellent Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR.
Rotolight produces some of the most impressive, most beautiful and most colour-accurate LED lighting products for use in cinematography and photography, and I have been a Rotolight user since the release of their first product the RL48 way back when.
If I could afford to have all of Rotolight’s lighting products then I would, without hesitation, though I might also want to add a set of Dedo Weigert’s DedoLights for those times I need narrowly-defined beams of continuous light.
I have pretty much given up on relying on electronic flash units aka Speedlights and Rotolight’s LED continuous and now HSS flash lighting is, essentially, why.
Accordingly I am looking forward to seeing what Rotolight has had up its sleeves in the form of the Titan, to be unveiled on the 10th September 2019 .
Rotolight recently released the Rotolight Illuminator aka The Illuminator, and it starting two fin its way into the hands of photographers like Luke Woodford of creative duo Luke & Mandy, who is featured in the video below.
Rotolight’s Illuminator appears to be a radical evolution beyond Photek’s not dissimilar SoftLighter II, recommended only for use with electronic flash, whereas the Illuminator can be used with flash as well as all of Rotolight’s LED lights released so far.
The Illuminator by Rotolight
Rotolight has several brand ambassadors aka Masters of Light in the form of photographers Greg Gorman, Mark Mann, Peter Müller and Jean Noir though I would love to see the company add some cinematographers and especially females to that lineup.
Photek SoftLighter II and legendary Tiltall tripod, as used by Annie Leibovitz
I would especially love to see the Rotolight Illuminator and Titan in the hands of the Masters of Light to obtain a better understanding of how they work and their benefits.
Nothing like seeing a product being used well by those who know what they are doing, the reason I bought a Photek SoftLighter II and Tiltall tripod after seeing both being used by Annie Leibovitz.
Peter Lindbergh has always been damn near impossible to get in touch with, not because he wants to be alone but more for the fact that he is so much in demand for editorial and advertising shoots, and just recently for awards presentations and the openings of his own photography shows, that he is booked up months ahead.
It is not the money either. I tried to offer Lindbergh the first ad in a lucrative and creatively open campaign for a Swiss watch manufacturer earlier this year, and he could not fit it in until well after the first picture was due to run. So the problem remains: How do you portray the supreme fashion portraitist without actually getting to him in the flesh?
The clue lies in his own quotes and photographs and films, and comments made by some of the people who know him best. I hope to cut through this thicket to get to some essence of the man himself, and why he does what he does.
First for the visual evidence. In summer of 1995 Lindbergh took on the 1996 Pirelli calendar shoot, in a move away from the kind of high gloss beautifully executed production that Richard Avedon made of it the year before. There could not be a greater contrast between Avedon’s colour sheet film studio style with the lighting placed exactly just so, the wind machine velocity precisely set, and the props and wispy garments chosen and placed on the supermodel with painful accuracy. As an expression of the Avedon beauty aesthetic it was spot on.
This year, it is Lindbergh’s 35mm high speed monochrome on location, as if it were a movie shoot. Lindbergh himself commented about this change in direction. “It was a deliberate choice,” he says, “because, when you work in colour what you are looking for is a sort of first-degree reality, whereas in black-and-white you can elaborate on that reality. You go further. I also wanted to create a relaxed work atmosphere for myself and my crew, with objects scattered about informally – a fan here, some forgotten chairs there. Only with black-and-white can one convey that kind of authenticity.”
The setting in the Mojave Desert contains all the furniture of an apparent feature film shoot, with ultra-high output HMI lights, movie cameras on tracking dollies, director’s chair, and black studio backdrop casually popping up in the photographs. Some of Lindbergh’s Harpers Bazaar fashion shoots had featured a similar movie set look. Was this artistic pretension or wishful thinking on the photographer’s part?
“It’s not accidental,” says Lindbergh. “I wanted to create a working atmosphere. All the objects used in these pictures have been used to make them. They were real tools. Portraying women in a real technical setting has always fascinated me. I like that backstage feeling. It’s not pretentious: it adds a technical aspect which contrasts with the femininity of the photographs.”
It is also evidence of his other career, as a director. Lindbergh made a ten minute promo short at the same time as the stills shoot, hardly necessary as Pirelli calendars are strictly not for sale. Their 40,000 odd print run is always spoken for well before they appear, by the executives, celebrities and journalists on the mailing list. The Pirelli calendar is a media event, in the same way as Lindbergh’s debut documentary on supermodels, Models: The Film was the much anticipated fashion event of 1992.
Models is a walk through several disjointed days in the lives of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Linda Evangelista, and Tatiana Patitz as they are photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar. This 45 minute monochrome film is as much a celebration of the supermodel phenomenon as it is documentation of one aspect of these women’s lives.
Stylistically it is incredibly close to Lindbergh’s photography, with a kernel of romantic nostalgia for the great days of classical pre-Technicolor film-making. Campbell plays at being a helium-voiced Josephine Baker, trying to add another hyphen to her job description, Evangelista sits down on a Brooklyn street corner, marcelled black hair à la the height of the Thirties, and haltingly plays the piano accordion like a waif from an Italian Neo-Realist movie.
Then the girls all hang with the home boys at Coney Island after a shoot on the beach, all giggles and camping it up and ogling the sights. The film shows them as real human beings despite the untouchable aura that supermodeldom carries, so that without the makeup and the hair and the clothes these five could just be an especially good-looking gang of sorority sisters on the lam from college.
Lindbergh is in love with their personalities, but as to the photographer himself, Modelsdoes not tell us much more. He is an ever-present absence throughout, except when Evangelista complains at the end that “You’re all in my light,… Pete!”
To shed some light on the photographer, let’s go back to his origins. His biography tells us he was “born on the Polish border of war-torn eastern Germany, in 1944. Peter Lindbergh spent his childhood in the West German town of Duisburg, where his family moved in with his uncle after World War II left them with nothing.”
“As a boy,” it continues, “Lindbergh spent all his free time outdoors. In Duisburg his uncle worked as a sheep farmer with a herd of 3,000, which he kept on a rented parcel of land near the Rhine river.” Ah ha, a clue! Is this where his love of the landscape comes from? It goes on. “On one side of the river was green grass and trees. On the other side was heavy industry, populated with factories, where the boats came up to load.” Some of Lindbergh’s most striking fashion images of the mid-1980s, for Comme de Garçons, were set in decayed factory buildings.
The 1993 Ilford calendar that doubled as a Lindbergh retrospective contains this explanation. “In 1984 I was very much into machine and factory pictures. One reason was the great German tradition of black-and-white expressionism in films directed by Lang, Pabst and others,” he says. “The other was that I was reading everything about Rodchenko, Vertov, Tatlin and Mayakovsky and the outstanding creative energy at the beginning of the Russian Revolution.”
So despite Lindbergh always being of the moment in the models he portrays, he is a traditionalist when it comes to his inspirations. Besides the aforementioned Russian Contructivist photographers, Lindbergh’s photography bears resemblances to that of August Sander, the pre-war cataloguer of all the German character types and, as Karl Lagerfeld points out in his preface to 10 Women, the recently rediscovered fashion portraits of Rudolf Koppitz.
There is an essential Germanness in Lindbergh’s photography, and his character, that as with all Germans who leave their native country has become heightened in opposition. They are a family-oriented people, the Germans, with a hard edge to their nature and no fear of the human body with all its imperfections, naked or otherwise.
Lindbergh left his family behind while young, at 15, when he moved to Luzern in Switzerland to work as a window-dresser. After that he went to Berlin to take on odd jobs, studied drawing, dropped out and departed for Arles, hitchhiked, returned to Düsseldorf, enrolled in art school, and became a conceptual artist.
He became a photographer when he was 27, apprenticed to advertising photographer Hans Lux, then worked in that area until events took a turn. “I got into fashion photography by accident,” Lindbergh elaborates, “I did advertising photography for five years. Then one day a magazine editor [in fact the legendary Willi Fleckhaus of the equally legendary Twen] called me and said that my advertising didn’t look like advertising. He gave me a fashion story. I did it, then Sternsaw it and gave me fourteen pages.”
Then it was on to Marie Claire, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar when British Vogue’s Liz Tilberis took the helm and bought in Lindbergh and Demarchelier for a small fortune, starting a bidding war that benefited even those who stayed with Condé Nast, like Steven Meisel.
In an interview published prior to his signing to Bazaar in 1992 and well before 10 Women was simply a thought and nor more than that, Lindbergh was sceptical about venues other than the magazine page, like gallery shows. “I always said no. It’s a lot of work to do, and to do a book,” he pointed out then. “At the same time it’s a look back, and in the past few years I don’t feel like looking back.”
What retrospective shows like the one now touring Japan, Germany and America well into 1997 give the photographer is the chance to put distance between them and a part of their life, study it with detachment, tidy up the past, put it away and then go on to the next stage. It’s a cathartic act.
Late 1997 will see the release of another and larger book from the same publisher, of still lives, landscapes, portraits and fashion photographs. This second and more important book launch should be the opportunity to shed a brighter light on Lindbergh the man and the artist.
British Vogue – Meet Vogue’s 15 Forces For Change – Peter Lindbergh photographed for the cover feature of British Vogue’s ‘Forces for Change’ September 2019 issue guest-edited by Meghan Markle, HRH The Duchess of Sussex.
“At its core Kepler 138 is the emotional story of Claire and her blind father Ted, and how a space mission to explore new worlds helped her give her father the ultimate gift — a glimpse into her new world. Staring: Carter Scott – Claire Nelson Shawn Stevens – Ted Nelson Directed by: Jacob Schwarz Ex. Produced by: Katie Schwarz & Mathew Frazer Producer: Andrew Peterson DP: Peter Mosiman”
I look forward to a behind the scenes video for this production appearing soon!
Emily Skye of shewolffilms recently released her dramady series ‘The Erectors’ via Amazon Prime and she has a full slate of in-development and about-to-be released productions, an inspirational success story for this British-born former model.
Those upcoming projects include a documentary series, other television series, feature films and no doubt more of the music videos with which she established her reputation.
According to her IMDB biography, “Emily Skye is an American screenwriter, director and producer. She began her career at an early age after being scouted by Wilhelmina Models. While working on multiple film and television shows, Emily discovered her passion for directing was greater than modeling. With multiple music video directing awards, Emily ventured into narrative supernatural, sci-fi fantasy feature films and TV series dramas.”
‘The Erectors’ is, according to Amazon Prime, about “two single mom’s trying to make it in Hollywood as filmmakers” while the next production soon to be out of the shewolffilms gate will be ‘Binders Stash’, where Ms Skye helps us “explore the world with Host Bill Binder, as he searches for the best whisk(e)y! Meet legends that share new releases, unheard stories and go off the beaten path to discover distilleries that are making incredible juice!”.
Real Techniques has released its Artists Essential Set of synthetic bristle brushes for application of cosmetics products and the set impresses with the ongoing brush design innovation displayed by the brand and its owner Paris Presents Incorporated and most especially by the Chapman sisters, Nicola and Samantha.
The brand’s most recent brushes appear to no longer suffer from the problems of its first generation where the black rubber coating on the lower part of the brushes would suddenly deplasticize, making them difficult to impossible to use due to the coating turning sticky and even flowing onto other items stored with them.
Brushes with this problem can be rendered usable by soaking and rubbing the black part of their handles with methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol until it is completely removed.
I am still a newcomer to the realm of quality makeup brushes but am impressed by the Real Techniques brushes I currently have in my collection and am intrigued by the shapes and synthetic bristles of the brushes comprising this new set, the 420 Spotlight Fan Brush in particular.
217 Expert Edge Large Brush
421 Soft Accent Brush
420 Spotlight Fan Brush
317 Smudge Liner Brush
425 Lip Smudge Brush
I had a so-called natural bristle fan brush in my collection when at art school years ago, but never found a use for it and, sadly unused for so long, it eventually disappeared.
During recent online research I would come across fan brushes in other brands of cosmetics brushes but their design was essentially the same as that long-lost brush as well as more contemporary versions for painters such as those made by Escoda.
The Chapman sisters’ 420 Spotlight Fan Brush for Real Techniques takes a different approach to the humble and so often forgotten fan brush, one that makes it far more useful to the art of makeup as well as the art of painting.
Just as artists’ brush design has evolved hand over fist in recent years as demonstrated by Escoda’s ÚLTIMO brushes made from Tendo synthetic fibres, reportedly imitating the qualities of squirrel hair to a remarkable degree, so has the design of cosmetics brushes.
It is inspiring to see Nicola and Samantha Chapman at the forefront of this revolution, and I look forward to seeing their Artists Essentials set for Real Techniques appear in the stores where I live.
We need to see more success stories like theirs, where women prove their creativity and ability to innovate over and over again in fields too often dominated by men but where women offer unique insights and advantages.
Real Techniques Artist Essentials Set
Real Techniques Artist Essentials Set.
The 425 Lip Smudger brush in the Real Techniques Artist Essentials Set.
The 317 Smudge Liner brush in the Real Techniques Artist Essentials Set.
The 420 Spotlight Fan brush in the Real Techniques Artist Essentials Set.
The 420 Spotlight Fan brush in the Real Techniques Artist Essentials Set.
First, that there is an ever-growing list of Australia-based beauty companies making cosmetics, haircare and skincare products that are world-class and that are sold not only in this country but around the world.
Second, that a number of Australia-based and expatriate makeup artists have made their mark in the world of fashion around the world, foremost being Val Garland and Rae Morris with a number of others steadily climbing up the ranks here and abroad.
Third, that Rae Morris has not only produced a series of textbook-quality tomes about makeup, with Amazon Australia listing six of them, but she has also designed what might possibly be the very best makeup brushes ever, the Rae Morris™ Magnetic Range aka Jishaku Range that is made by one of the best traditional brush-makers in Japan.
Fourth, British-born and sometime Sydney-resident Val Garland, now based out of London since 1994, released her own book about how she did it and does it, ‘Validated: The Makeup of Val Garland’, in late 2018.
Fifth, that if Rae Morris’ Jishaku Range makeup brushes are beyond your reach then a number of other Australian cosmetics companies have their own more affordable makeup brushes, with Nude by Nature’s brushes and brush sets, for example, easily available in pharmacies, online retailers and chain stores around the country.
Sixth, many if not most Australian cosmetics companies include or exclusively concentrate on making products from ingredients that are cruelty-free, organic or vegan, though there are the odd exceptions.
“Donkey milk” and “snail mucus”, for goodness sakes.
I think I will pass on products containing those.
When attending a somewhat dodgy art school at a rather dodgy university in another state of Australia, the necessity of good brushes quickly became obvious to me and I still have two from that time in my possession, one a Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 4 Kolinsky Sable watercolour brush used for spotting photographic prints, and an Escoda size 12 Chungking Bristle Domed brush that I bought as a reminder of what traditional European artists’ brush making can be.
These two “natural” hair brushes entered my collection many years ago when synthetic brush-making was still in its infancy, and I am pleased that synthetic brushes are rapidly becoming the standard.
I will never buy another “natural” fibre brush again.
As to Australian cosmetics and other beauty products companies, I have been steadily compiling a handwritten list of them as I come across them online and in stores, and may well share that list with links here soon.
One very pleasing thing to note: almost all of these companies have been founded and are run by Australian women and are surely success stories worthy of my basing documentary photography and video projects on them and their achievements.
If Australian women continue to be kept out of the boardrooms of big corporations, subjected to lower pay than Australian men and given far fewer opportunities for learning and advancement, then some Australian women are clearly making their own way in the beauty industry here and abroad, and that is something well worth understanding and celebrating.
Amazon.com.au – Rae Morris – “Internationally renowned for her flawless work and unique approach to makeup, Makeup Masterclass is the sixth book by this number one bestselling author, and shares all the makeup secrets of her amazing twenty-five year career.”
Crown Brush Australia – “With over 30 years of brush making tradition in the USA and world wide markets, Crown Brush Australia can offer you the largest range of professional makeup brushes with over 700 different styles.”
Escoda – “In a small town outside of Barcelona in the fall of 1933, Josep Escoda Roig (1902-1982) envisioned and created a brush factory to produce artist brushes for decorative and Fine Art. It would be the first of its kind in Spain and despite a Civil War and difficulty in obtaining raw materials, the company developed and grew. Today, the company has produced nearly 75 million brushes with close to a million brushes being produced each year. Josep Escoda’s vision and passion for producing the best brushes in the world continues to this day with his sons Josep Jr. and Ricard.“
Nude by Nature – “Nude by Nature is committed to delivering natural, cruelty-free make-up, made with 100% natural ingredients and formulated without unnecessary chemicals, synthetic ingredients or preservatives often found in cosmetics.”
The Memo – THE CALLIGRAPHY-CRAFTED MAKEUP BRUSHES ABOUT TO CHANGE EVERYTHING – “Speak the name Rae Morris to anyone inside the global makeup game and you’ll get a knowing nod. Even if you don’t have instant recall, you’ve definitely seen Morris’s brushstrokes on A-listers like Miranda Kerr, Cate Blanchett, Pink and Jessica Biel. She’s one of the most influential face-makers Australia’s ever produced.”
Rae Morris – Brushes – “Rae is also the designer behind the Rae Morris Magnetic Brush Range – the first magnetic makeup brush range in the world – which has been acclaimed as not only the most innovative, but one of the best makeup brush ranges in the world.”
Rae Morris – My Brushes – “Over time I became more passionate about brushes than anything else in my kit – over years I tested different designs and textures and in the process, almost without realising it, I came up with my own range of brushes. My brushes are the secret behind many of my most famous creations.”
The most important lesson that I learned in art school was buy the very best brushes that you can afford, and the second most important was to clean them carefully, thoroughly and regularly.
I preferred the relatively new acrylic paints over traditional alternatives such as watercolour, gouache, tempera and oil paints, and applied my acrylics with hog bristle, sable and synthetic fibre brushes as well as palette and painting knives for more vigorous effects.
Synthetic fibre brushes were somewhat primitive in those days and so I reserved them for less exacting tasks, hoping that they would improve and perhaps someday surpass in quality the pricey and often fragile brushes made from natural fibres.
Besides being cruelty-free, those synthetic fibre brushes handled acrylic paint better than natural fibre alternatives though synthetic fibre brushes lacked the handling finesse of so-called natural fibre brushes.
Some Real Techniques brush sets and accessories from which to build your collection
Start at the upper leftmost image and click rightwards to see how thorough the Chapman sisters and the Real Techniques product developers have been in creating a rational cosmetics application system, filling every gap in a way I have not seen in any other brand.
Real Techniques Prep + Prime Set: “The prep + prime set has 4 skin prep tools for your pre-makeup routine. These tools help create a smoother skin surface for better makeup application.”
Real Techniques Complexion Blender Brush: “MIX MAKEUP WITH SKIN CARE PRODUCTS. The complexion blender brush has a unique swirled cut for blending skin care products with your favorite makeup for a smooth, natural complexion.” Use in conjunction with the Real Techniques Prep + Prime Set when preparing skin before applying makeup.
Real Techniques Color Correcting Set: “EVENLY APPLY + BLEND COLOR CORRECTING CONCEALERS. Make color correcting easier with the color correcting set. Apply, buff, and blend color correcting concealers for an even tone complexion before makeup application. Each brush corresponds to a key correcting concealer color to avoid color mixing.” A brilliant idea for keeping colour correcting cosmetics separate and clean by allocating one brush for each correction colour. Some faces need correcting in several different colours and I gave seen makeup artists use the same brush for different colours, needlessly diluting them and making extra work for themselves.
Sephora Collection Must-Have Face Palette: “Curated colour sets to demystify contouring, colour correction, strobing, and blush sculpting.” Almost a perfect match for Real Techniques Color Correcting Set.
Real Techniques Expert Face Brush: “OUR #1 BEST-SELLING BRUSH. Our expert face brush is ultra firm and broad for perfectly buffed foundation and an airbrushed finish. Ideal for cream and liquid foundations.”
Real Techniques Flawless Base Set comprising contour brush, detailer brush, buffing brush, square foundation brush and brush cup.
Real Techniques Sculpting Set: “NATURAL CONTOURING. Accentuate favorite features, create defined contours for added depth, or simply enhance your natural bone structure with our sculpting set. With the use of light and dark makeup this set gives you the flexibility to take your look to the next level.”
Real Techniques Brow Set: “Create the perfect arch with our brow set. We have included all of the tools you need to clean up, fill in, define, shape, and highlight your brows.”
Real Techniques Enhanced Eye Set comprising medium shadow brush, essential crease brush, fine liner brush, shading brush, lash separator and brush cup.
Real Techniques Perfect Crease Duo: “FOR A DEFINED CREASE. The perfect crease duo brushes are designed for an easy to achieve defined crease. Use with eye shadows.”
Real Techniques Instapop Eye Duo: “HIGH IMPACT COLOR WITHOUT THE MESS. The instapop eye brush duo is designed for full coverage shadow application. Use to sweep on loose pigment shadows.”
Real Techniques Eye Detail + Define: “PAIRED FOR EXPERT EYELINER APPLICATION. The eye detail + define brushes are designed for precision eyeliner looks…. Bonus Liner Guide For steady liner application.”
Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend: “EASY APPLICATION. The eye shade + blend brushes are designed for easy two-color shadow application.”
Real Techniques Eye Smudge + Diffuse: “FROM SUBTLE TO DRAMATIC, OUR EYE SMUDGE + DIFFUSE TWO PACK IS PAIRED FOR EASY EYE LINER BLURRING. The eye smudge + diffuse brushes are designed for expert smudging and blurring of eye makeup. “
Real Techniques Lip Color + Blur: “The lip color + blur brushes are designed for easy application of on trend lip looks and effects.”
Real Techniques Instapop Cheek Brush: “HIGH IMPACT COLOR WITHOUT THE MESS. The Instapop Cheek Brush is designed for one-sweep application of bold cheek color.”
Real Techniques Blush Brush: “FOR A FLAWLESS FINISH. Preferred 2-to-1 over a leading department store brand. Our blush brush is custom-cut to contour and define cheeks for flawlessly blended, high definition results.”
Real Techniques PowderBlue Collection: “FauxBleu™ Technology engineered to layer powders evenly for a soft, flawless finish. Known for its fine filaments, luxurious softness, and flawless powder application, blue squirrel hair is the one of the rarest and softest bristles used in prestige makeup brushes. Our FauxBleu™ Technology uses synthetic bristles engineered to perform as well as blue squirrel hair.” These sound amazing, cruelty-free and of the same high quality as the legendary Russian Blue Squirrel brushes used by top watercolour and gouache painters in preference to sable.
Real Techniques Blend + Blur Brushes: Look perfect for short-sighted spectacle wearers like me who must get up close to the mirror or apply makeup between spectacles and eye lids.
Real Techniques Rebel Edge Trio: “Cropped head puts you in control to define + blend powders your way.”
Real Techniques Foundation Blender: “FOR FOUNDATION. Small, dense bristles blend + buff for flawless foundation coverage. Blend. Press. Buff.”
Real Techniques Face + Body Blender: “FOR FOUNDATION + BRONZER. Large, dense bristles blend + buff for even full body coverage. Blend. Press. Buff.”
Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette: “Great makeup application starts with a clean brush. The brush cleansing palette helps sweep away makeup, oil, and impurities from bristles to give you truer, more consistent color application.” I have used this palette with a range of brushes and M·A·C Brush Cleanser fluid and it works better than any other brush cleaning method. I have yet to try Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel.
Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel: “Designed for deep cleaning, with the cleansing power of a concentrate, this formula is laboratory proven to effectively remove nearly all makeup residue*. It removes what you see…and even impurities you can’t see for a new brush clean.”
Real Techniques Stick & Store Organizer: “Tame your counter clutter – keep everyday essentials clean and within reach!… Sturdy silicone with Miracle Cling™ technology sticks instantly and adheres strongly to glossy surfaces yet peels off easily so you can remove and reposition.” Excellent idea! In my experience most bathrooms are small with inadequate bench top space and inadequate storage via drawers and closets making it way too hard to be organized and lay out your cosmetics and tools for easy use. These storage containers can apparently stick to mirrors or tiled walls.
Real Techniques Stick & Dry Brush Drying Rack: “Tame your counter clutter! Sturdy silicone with Miracle Cling™ technology sticks instantly and adheres strongly to glossy surfaces yet peels off easily so you can remove and reposition.” A brilliant idea for drying brushes without laying them down flat on a bench top or towel and risking them drying out of shape.
Real Techniques 3 Pocket Organizer: “CLINGS TO MIRRORS + MORE! MIRACLE CLING™ giving any space instant beauty storage”
Real Techniques 6 Miracle Sponges: “3 STEPS: COVER. CORRECT. COLOR. These essential 6 miracle sponges are the key to well-blended, airbrushed looks.”
Real Techniques Everyday Essentials: “FOR FOUNDATION + CONCEALER + BLUSH + HIGHLIGHTER + SHADOW. Your one and done set to master pro-styled looks! Cover. Color. Blend.” A good starter set for basic looks?
A while back I was preparing for a personal portrait photography project aimed at depicting female creatives in their workspaces.
During my Australian magazine editorial portrait career, photographers rarely had the time or the budgets for assistants, hair and makeup artists or high-end lighting equipment.
I had experienced something very different in my time working on the other side of the fence at magazines and in advertising agencies in the United Kingdom, and the necessity for a creative team and adequate time was proven again and again.
It helped that the photographers I was commissioning and production-managing were often at the top of the profession, were accustomed to being treated well and I was paying them ample fees and costs to do their job to the very best of their and their teams’ abilities.
In other words, the very opposite to what I and my fellow magazine photographers had experienced over the years in our own country.
I was determined to do it differently in my personal portrait photography projects and, with the help of a little knowledge gleaned from watching my former partner at work as a UK-based MAC makeup artist, decided to build a collection of cosmetics and makeup brushes and accessories to carry with me.
I am no makeup artist, have no high-end training in the profession like my ex-partner, but quickly learned the necessity of providing for skilled hair and makeup professionals when commissioning photographs of female and male subjects for magazine and advertising shoots.
Now I would have to stand in as one for my own projects or at the very least provide a well-rounded kit for my subjects to use as needed.
Discovering Real Techniques
When I came across several Real Techniques brushes in a Sydney city Priceline store, I was gobsmacked.
Here were synthetic fibre brushes miles ahead of the early ones I had used and found so frustrating during my art school days and beyond.
I bought one and found it was made to a standard I had not seen in the synthetic fibre brushes I often perused in the high end art supply stores I sometimes dropped into while working on urban documentary projects in the city.
The late photographer and fashion stylist Karl Lagerfeld apparently used top quality makeup brushes when creating his fashion designs, fashion illustrations and caricatures, and I could see myself using Real Techniques brushes for applications in photography and design as well as in applying makeup.
As more Real Techniques brushes began showing up in a couple of CBD Priceline stores, I added more to my collection and hoped that the Real Techniques might organize their brushes into sets for specific tasks.
Watching my former partner doing makeup at model test shoots confirmed that line of work was as skilled and as creative as any other creative profession and as reliant on possessing the best tools and consumables money could buy.
My project is set aside
Ill health and other factors over which I had no control meant I had to put off my documentary portrait photography project, but recently I began assembling the kit needed to resume it when health and other conditions improve.
My Real Techniques brush collection, still not as complete as I would have liked, had been carefully stored in a dedicated closet well away from each other and any volatile substances or fluids, and went unused for several years.
Then moving day came and I discovered to my horror that my Real Techniques brush collection had succumbed to the same fate as some other treasured objects.
All of my Real Techniques brushes have black rubberized lower handles, all the better for good grip in the same way as our collection of full-size Esprit umbrellas, LensPen screen and sensor cleaning tools and even some control buttons and dials on our Mercedes sports car (secondhand but well-loved and cared-for by previous owner).
All these items have succumbed to their black rubber coating deplasticizing often to the point of liquidizing, becoming sticky and unusable to various degrees, picking up detritus that becomes embedded in their surfaces and then transfers to the fingers and other items of equipment.
I dropped into a couple of Priceline pharmacy stores not far from where I live to see if Real Techniques products were still being sold here, and found that the company’s product range had expanded considerably since I bought my brushes.
Going online to the Real Techniques website revealed even more new and more specialized products than appeared in-store.
Although some of the brushes on sale appear to be made with a rubber-looking black coating on their lower handles, many others looked as if they were made with plastic down there rather than rubber.
Has Real Techniques replaced the deplasticizing black rubber of its earlier generation brushes with a material less prone to the same break-down?
So far my enquiries have not drawn definitive conclusions but I certainly hope they will soon.
My initial tests with the brushes several years ago were so encouraging that I was prepared to invest hard-earned readies in a collection of them.
The black rubber’s liquefaction on all brushes in my collection is disappointing, to say the least, just as the same degradation in my LensPen items, Esprit umbrellas and Mercedes control surfaces was disappointing.
Have these coatings not been tested properly before applying them to product runs?
Were they simply a fashionable gimmick at the time and were they withdrawn when purchasers began complaining?
The makers of those other items did not have any useful advice as to what could be done to render them usable again, but I am hoping for something better with my Real Techniques brushes.
Meanwhile I have been looking at those brush and accessories sets in the photo gallery further up this page, pondering how they might help contribute to a well-rounded hair and makeup location kit like the rather larger one my ex used to carry around all over the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
I need something I can transport around Sydney in a backpack, containing enough tools and cosmetics to at least subtly groom my subjects if not do a full hair and makeup job if needed before photographing them.
Time to get into practise on myself?
Meanwhile, I have provided a number of links below if you wish to read up on Real Techniques and the inspirational sisters who front the brand and teach makeup techniques on their online channels, one sister being a former MAC professional makeup artist.
I am still in dialogue with the customer support representatives at the Real Techniques brand’s parent company Paris Presents Incorporated but so far there has been no useful resolution nor any suggestions from them as to how to make my Real Techniques brushes usable or whether the company will take responsibility for its products and replace them.
The latest email from Real Techniques appears to be a deflection, in fact.
Here is the first reply:
Thanks so much for your email, we really appreciate the feedback. Many customers have found that sometimes brush cleaner can make the rubber handle peel or bubble. Try not to put any wet brushes next to the handles of other brushes, or get them wet in any way. This often happens when customers clean on the go and then throw the brushes in a case to transport them.
Here is the second:
Thanks for reaching out. Can you please give us an approximate purchase date, the name of the retailer, and the name printed on the side of the brush?
And here is the latest:
Were so sorry to hear what happened! Please contact the retailer where your product was purchased for a solution according to their return policy. Unfortunately, we cant accept returns for products purchased from retailers, but we trust that all our retailers have fair return policies.
Australian retailers often have a seven or sometimes fourteen day returns policy on products that are clearly defective when purchased, and I seem to recall that under Australian law the return and replacement period may be longer, possibly thirty days.
Retailers always ask for the cash register receipts as proof of purchase but the ink on cash register receipts rapidly fades to the point of invisibility, so keeping old and ancient cash register receipts just in case a product later proves unfit for purpose is a pointless exercise.
I do not have the receipts from when I purchased all my Real Techniques brushes, so fronting up to the various Priceline stores in the city from whence they came may well also prove to be a pointless exercise.
Some manufacturers take full responsibility for their products whether they prove defective at purchase or unfit for purpose over time, and offer full replacements.
For example, LensPen replaced one of their lens cleaning pens after the cleaning surface suddenly popped off of its own volition while sitting in a storage box.
I have followed up my initial enquiry about the defective LensPen Lap Top-Pro screen and keyboard cleaners and LensPen SensorKlear Loupe Kit with the LensPen folks and am hoping for a similarly positive outcome.
The Esprit umbrella situation is unresolved as the company closed its stores here and I have yet to make contact with the company’s head office.
Again, I no longer have the faded-to-blank cash register receipts from the long-closed Esprit store Pitt Street Mall store.
I would love to know the true story behind this black rubber coating that seems to have been popular amongst product manufacturers but that turned out to be such an abject failure.
Hopefully it is no longer in use.
I wish to see the original developer of this coating take full responsibility for it as well as the manufacturers that were duped into using it.
Whatever you do, do not ask anyone who has never had this problem for suggestions and solutions as they can be widely off the mark.
A friend just came by, looked at the computer stand that I currently have soaking in a bowl of methylated spirits and told me I would be better off spraying it in layers of epoxy resin to seal in the liquified rubber compound.
Stick with soaking in and rubbing with methylated spirits and you will be okay.
Avoid vicious solvents like full strength acetone, lacquer thinners, petrol, kerosene and anything else helpful friends suggest.
Especially avoid making the problem exponentially worse by spraying or dipping thew affected object with paints, lacquers, resins and all sorts of nasties.
After discovering the problem with my Real Techniques brushes, I did a thorough search throughout all my possessions and found that this nasty black substance has been used on all manner of items including automobile interiors and control surfaces, mirrors, photographic equipment, television sets, radios, hi-fi equipment, computer accessories, pens, and plenty of other items whether cheap or expensive, old or new.
EcoTools– website – “Armed with a mission to make women look beautiful on the outside and feel just as good on the inside, sisters Jen and Stacey set out to create a brush collection that was not only environmentally friendly, but chic, high-quality, and affordable too. After sourcing recycled materials, renewable bamboo and better manufacturing processes, in 2007, EcoTools® was born.”
Kryolan – “There is only one real professional make-up maker. There is only one Kryolan. Kryolan have been supplying the film, theater and television industries for over 70 years, which makes us one of the world’s first professional make-up brands. We’re still the number one choice for make-up artists today, thanks to our extensive range of over 16,000 high-quality make-up products and accessories.”
M·A·C – “Make-Up Art Cosmetics started life in Toronto, Canada. Makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo became frustrated by the lack of makeup that photographed well, so they decided to create their own.”