“Ron McCormick trained as an artist at Liverpool School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools in London before moving across to photography. He played a significant role in the formation and development of photography galleries across the UK in the 1970’s – including Half Moon Gallery in London, Side Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne and the original Ffotogallery in Cardiff.
Ron taught on the Newport Documentary Photography course alongside David Hurn and established ‘The Newport Survey’ publication that students worked on as part of their studies – produced over a decade in the 1980’s….”
Ron McCormick was a Visiting Fellow in the School of Art and Design at Curtin University in Perth when I was teaching after being a student, all the while engaged in my own efforts to radically reform art and photography education there and in other places in Western Australia.
Ron spent most of his time photographing in the goldfields and other outback locations and three images from those trips are featured in this set of interviews along with his earlier work in the east end of London and south Wales.
Meeting Ron and seeing some of his work led to spending a year in the United Kingdom shortly afterwards, meeting a number of photographers including the great Brian Griffin, stiffening my resolve to continue my reform efforts back in Australia by whatever means possible despite the gatekeepers and power brokers controlling the medium.
ffoton: Ron McCormick in Conversation with Paul Reas, Cardiff, June 2019 – Part 1
ffoton: Ron McCormick in Conversation with Paul Reas, Cardiff, June 2019 – Part 2
ffoton: Ron McCormick in Conversation with Paul Reas, Cardiff, June 2019 – Part 3
“… For a lot of us, we download the images to a computer and edit a handful that catch our eye, and then… well, there are more photo shoots to pursue. Maybe we’ll apply some keywords, perhaps mark a few favorites, but too often the photos we worked so hard to create are just dumped onto a hard disk and forgotten. We know we should do better, but who has the time?
Professional photographers, that’s who….”
Getty Images and Associated Press contributing photographer Brian Ach shoots a range of subjects and genres, often under the stress of tight deadlines, poor artificial lighting and the need to get every shot right or if not then the ability to rapidly reduce his selects to a manageable collection for submission, distribution and publication.
That is a far cry from the more leisurely paces and demands of shooting documentary or photojournalism projects over longer time periods, or portraits and photoessays for weekly or monthly magazine feature articles.
I took on a mix of projects during my magazine and newspaper colour supplement days, and came to prefer weekly or monthly magazine projects over daily newspaper assignments for the chance to really get one’s teeth into the subject.
Daily newspaper work had its satisfactions, though, especially in the challenge of producing engaging, informative and sometimes emotive environmental and close-up portraits in no more than fifteen minutes per subject, three to five such assignments per day, in locations throughout the city and suburbs, while carting lights, cameras, stands and tripods about.
That was during the analog era when the time and the stress of processing, proofing and printing after each assignment had to be factored into the equation and before the joys of tethered shooting, editing, processing, tagging, uploading and traveling on to the next job existed as we know them now.
If I were to go back to that world as a freelancer I would have to come up with a whole new workflow all by myself, or learn successful workflows from others, so articles like this come in handy.
So much so that I went straight to the Camera Bits website to download Photo Mechanic to try out, and from a so-far fairly cursory try-out under anything but professional conditions am seriously considering adding it to my software collection.
And I am now crossing my fingers for a similar feature set to appear in the library functionality that is appearing in raw processing and image editing applications that once used to be editing-only.
There is another advantage to having an application dedicated only to selecting, trashing, tagging and organizing – none of the distractions of doing it within a product that also offers deep image-editing features where one can easily be tempted into diving down the rabbit hole of a thousand and one different possible interpretations.
Sometimes, oftentimes, simpler and sharply focused is better.
“…We’re in Dubai, where Fujifilm is showing off pre-production and prototype samples of three upcoming lenses – the GF 50mm F3.5 – a compact, lightweight standard lens for medium format – the XF 16mm F2.8, and the XF 16-80mm F4 – both of which [were] designed for the company’s range of APS-C format X-series cameras.
Click through for an exclusive first look at all three, including detailed specifications….”
As time is inching towards the release sometime in the first half of 2019 of Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 “travel” zoom lens it is terrific to get some idea of its size and features and other it may provide a solution for own needs as a documentary photographer and videographer.
I am self-funded, only able to carry a small amount of hardware on each project, and must work within ongoing limitations – thanks for nothing, Australian banksters, for blowing our refinancing out of the water after you were found out for your crimes by the Royal Commission into banking.
I must be able to get the most out of the hardware I carry and it must be able to help me create good enough movies and videos without the benefit of cases full of equipment, assistants and crews, and the big budgets that I never had anyway when working as a magazine editorial and corporate photographer during the analog era.
Gaps in their offerings
As two relatively new camera and lens systems, Fujifilm’s APS-C sensor format X system and medium format G system still have gaps in their offerings, especially for documentary types like me who prefer to rely on fast prime lenses with all the manual controls that can be had.
Not to say that I do not appreciate zoom lenses now that their optical, mechanical and image quality are so good nowadays.
I also use and love Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras and Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses, with my most-used lens being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens and, had it been released at the time I bought my first Panasonic camera, I may well have chosen the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 OIS Pro zoom lens instead.
Slower zoom lenses are fine so long as you supplement them with moderately wide and moderately long fast aperture prime lenses for available darkness documentary work and portraiture, and Olympus offers three of them in its M.Zuiko Pro range at the moment, with more to come I hope.
Going fast to begin with
At the time I bought my first interchangeable lens Fujifilm camera, the company did not offer a standard zoom lens like those above made by Olympus or their Panasonic equivalents, so I invested in a Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, well answering my fast aperture moderate long and wide needs.
Another longstanding need has been for a professional quality 18mm prime lens equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format and 14mm in the Macro Four Thirds sensor format.
With little sign of Fujifilm offering such a lens any time soon, I have had to consider other possibilities including adapting an EF-mount Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens to X-mount, but this solution is best suited to DSLR-style cameras like the X-T3 rather than the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 that is much more effective for hardcore immersive documentary photography.
My interest in the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom was piqued when I borrowed a Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 kit zoom lens for my first tryout of the X-T3.
I loved its 18mm widest focal length, rarely used the lens at 23mm and 55mm as I was also carrying my X-Pro2 equipped with either of those two lenses, and would have loved access to longer focal lengths than 56mm for those times I could not get close enough.
DPReview’s hands-on with the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom provides a reasonably reliable impression of the lens in its shipping form and confirms it has a marked, clicking aperture ring and weather resistance, though no manual clutch focus or, probably, no clickless option.
The X-T3’s firmware offers the ability to switch focus-by-wire from non-linear to linear so I will be giving that feature a tryout during my current X-T3 loan period over the coming days.
Two out of three
Two out of three ain’t bad for the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom.
As I am not a fan of the neither fish-nor-fowl 16mm focal length, equivalent to 24mm in the 35mm sensor format, the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” lens is not on my wishlist which is topped by the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R annual clutch focus prime lens to tackle the ultra wide end of things and has a 58mm filter diameter, meaning I can easily add a knurled brass Breakthrough Photography step-up ring for my neutral density filters when shooting video.
Although I would prefer to have a set of wide-aperture manual-clutch-focus primes for all my documentary moviemaking and photography, the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom would provide a range of my most-needed focal lengths – 18mm, 23mm, 27mm, 56mm and 70mm.
In 35mm sensor format terms, that is 28mm, 35mm, 40mm, 85mm and 105mm, and a limit of 120mm at the long end will account for those rare times my feet are unable to do the zooming.
Fuji Rumors has republished images and information about the northern hemisphere fall aka autumn 2019 (southern hemisphere spring 2019) release of the XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR including these from Japanese website capa.getnavi.
Many thanks to Fuji Rumors for the slide translation:
Fujinon XF 10-24mm R OIS, Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount, Fujinon XF 14mm R and Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D for architecture and documentary
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens.
Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens with manual clutch focus.
Fujifilm VF-X21 External Optical Viewfinder for Fujifilm X70, for use with 21mm and 28mm equivalent lenses such as the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R and XF 18mm f/2.0 R.
Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount prime lens.
Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D lens with Fujifilm X-Mount.
I have a longterm project coming up where I need to document the construction of a house from greenfield to completion, and I need to expand my stills photography kit for that and a number of other upcoming stills and video projects.
Right now I have no idea what my budget will be, given the economy-wrecking predations of the Australian banks and real estate agencies over the past couple of years, but there are at least two options.
Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R with Fujifilm VF-X21 external optical viewfinder for my X-Pro2.
Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand Grip
Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS
Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR
Breakthrough Photography 72-82mm knurled brass step-up ring x 2
Breakthrough Photography lens cap, 82mm x 2
Breakthrough Photography X4 UV filter x 2
Fixed or variable neutral density filters, 82mm diameter
There are other lenses available that receive good reviews and are suitable for architectural photography though they are too ultra-wide for documentary photography, the Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount at 18mm equivalence and Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D at 13.5mm equivalence in the 35mm sensor format.
If only one lens it is to be, then the minimalist option makes sense as I rather like the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R’s 21mm equivalence for figures in landscapes, emotive close-up documentary shots, and architectural and cityscape work.
This lens will need Fujifilm’s VF-X21 viewfinder sitting on top of my X-Pro2 as a 14mm field of view falls outside the X-Pro2’s 18-56mm optical viewfinder bright frames and the X-Pro2’s EVF is not what I would like it to be.
Will the X-Pro3 improve upon that and other weak points?
If there is budget enough, then of course I would prefer the maximalist option camera and lens plus upgrading my ageing post-production facility.
The X-T3 plus grips and two zoom lenses, with the addition of my three current 23mm, 27mm and 56mm Fujinon prime lenses, makes a good Super 35mm video set-up combined with Fujifilm’s X-Trans 120-rollfilm quality stills.
The Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS is an ageing lens design, however, and lacks weather resistance and appears to be at its best optically speaking from f/8.0 rather than closer to f/4.0.
I want to see Fujifilm bring it up to current standards with a Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom that will make a great match with the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens, giving the equivalent of 15mm through to 120mm in the 35mm sensor format.
I have been trying out a Fujifilm X-T3 loaded up with the latest firmware in order to shoot some HLG video footage and further try out the camera’s radically improved autofocus functionality which will reportedly be getting better again in a future firmware update, possibly in April this year.
Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.
The first X-T3 I borrowed was half silver and half black while the current loaner is all black, and what an unexpected and pleasant difference that has made.
I made great use of the silver X-T3 in a two-day documentary photography project and shot quite a bit of footage with its Eterna and F-Log picture profiles, on location in available darkness and the brightest of high UV sunlight.
Each time, halfway through the day I would notice my eyes becoming sore and by day’s end the soreness would be unbearable, especially in my right eye.
I am ambidextrous and tend towards right eye dominance though that is not exclusive, and with DSLR-style cameras always use my right eye to view through their electronic viewfinders.
I had attributed the unaccustomed soreness to the slowly worsening eyesight of my ageing myopic eyes, and had feared the worst for my eyesight despite recent eye tests showing expected slow, steady but not marked deterioration in vision.
I wondered whether using an EVF camera might be the cause of the soreness given I own two Fujifilm viewfinder cameras, an X100 and an X-Pro2, and use their optical viewfinders in preference to their EVFs.
But then I also have two Panasonic Lumix EVF cameras, one viewfinder-style and the other DSLR-style, and have never experienced problems like this with either of them.
This week, after extensive use of the black X-T3 for shooting video and stills, I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the silver X-T3 and its highly reflective silver-coloured magnesium upper body might be the reason for my previous and constant eye soreness.
I have had no eye soreness with the black X-T3 at all.
Of course, this observation about the difference between the two versions of the X-T3 is a deduction and not the result of any form of scientific test, but it is something worth thinking about when I am in a position to invest in my own X-T3 and the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.
I had been wondering whether my eye soreness was the product of the EVF in the X-T3, and was worried the problem might rule out investing in an X-T3 or any other DSLR-style Fujifilm camera, but the electronic viewfinder clearly is not the source of that problem.
I used the black X-T3 in a wide range of lighting conditions throughout the weekend, in bright high-UV sunlight, deep shade and in poorly-lit train stations and experienced none of the eye soreness that I had when using the silver X-T3.
“Brought to you live from Hamburg: The newest Olympus camera in professional photography! Watch here the playlist of the full show of the OM-D E-M1X release event. This clip summarizes the official Press Release Conference on January 23rd, 2019, with guests from Olympus Tokyo….”
For me, the Micro Four Thirds sensor format occupies the place that 35mm inhabited during the analog era and so it is well-suited to the photographic genres that were dominated by 35mm cameras such as sports, wildlife, photojournalism, some subgenres of documentary and specific approaches to fashion photography.
Other sensor formats occupy places once owned by larger analog formats, for example Fujifilm’s X-Trans APS-C has taken the place of some 120 roll film formats while Fujifilm’s G-Series Bayer sensor-equipped medium format cameras have taken the place of 4″x5″ sheet film and the company’s coming GFX 100 will likely match if not surpass the image quality of 8″x10″ sheet film cameras.
Similar analogies apply to other sensor formats such as 35mm where 20+ megapixels sensors amply match if not surpass the quality once obtained by medium format roll film and circa 50 megapixels sensors are inching on the door of sheet film’s house.
Complaints that MFT camera sensors may not be as sensitive as those of larger formats are silly given the mobility, weather resistance and smaller lenses with stellar performance the smaller format affords.
If you need larger sensor cameras, invest in them and let MFT be what it excels at just as one should allow cameras of other sensor formats and body types to be what they were designed to be.
Pretending otherwise is silly.
I am rather fond of the Micro Four Thirds format as it gave me access to the pro-quality video capabilities I could not afford at the time and its cameras proved to be rather good for documentary stills photography and photojournalism too.
If I were working for newspapers and magazines as I used to, MFT cameras and lenses would constitute my core daily working kit, supplemented by equipment in other sensor formats as projects demanded.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1X would be in contention as would the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses.
The Micro Four Thirds sensor format is perfectly adequate for those genres and applications.
Olympus OM-D E-M1X with lenses and accessories
Olympus OM-D E-M1X with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens.
Olympus OM-D E-M1X Micro Four Thirds mirrorless digital camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens, equivalent in the 35mm sensor format to 80mm to 30mm.
The Olympus Lens Roadmap, February 2019
Olympus has been doing a great job of fleshing out its professional-quality M.Zuiko Pro lens collection but gaps remain in its prime and zoom lens offerings and rumours of new lenses, particularly new fast prime lenses, have appeared over the last couple of years without results.
I am rather fond of the M.Zuiko Pro lens series, with my most-used being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom, and I have been hoping that Olympus will add more prime lenses.
I chose the 12-40mm f/2.8 over what might have been the more logical choice given I use Panasonic cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens, for several reasons:
Manual clutch focus – essential in my opinion for achieving fast, accurate, repeatable focus especially when shooting documentary video.
Longer focal length range – 24mm to 80mm in 35mm sensor equivalents, extending the long end into the realm of ideal focal lengths for portraiture.
Excellent optical performance – all throughout the lens’ focal length range.
Excellent mechanical and optical design and manufacturing.
Olympus’ release of its first three fast M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses was very pleasing, but I have long been hoping for the addition of 10.5mm and 14mm prime lenses, equivalent in 35mm terms to 21mm and 28mm, both of which are essentials for documentary photography and video.
While 10.5mm is available wit in the M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 zoom, that lens requires the use of large, unwieldy and costly adapters for attaching neutral density filters when shooting video.
A 10.5mm M.Zuiko Pro prime lens is a much better choice and it does not need to be as fast as its M.Zuiko Pro siblings with their f/1.2 maximum aperture.
The same applies to an M.Zuiko Pro 14mm prime lens.
Both lenses would be perfectly fine with maximum apertures of from, say, f/1.8 through to f/2.8, though faster is always appreciated in available darkness.
One of Olympus’ new items in its February 2019 lens roadmap, “Bright Prime Lenses”, is encouraging and it appears to be placed somewhere between 10mm and 60mm.
I would love to see wide aperture prime lenses added in popular focal lengths such as the following, in their M43 and 35mm sensor equivalents:
10.5mm – 21mm
14mm – 28mm
37.5mm – 75mm
52.5mm – 105mm
Two other new items in the lens roadmap have me intrigued, “Wide Zoom Lens” and “Standard Zoom Lens”.
I would like to see Olympus take on Panasonic over the latter’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 fast zoom lens that was announced with scant details back in late 2018.
This lens may well be the one I had been looking for when I first bought into Micro Four Thirds, containing most of the focal lengths I need on a daily basis for documentary stills and video, and something similar coming from Olympus for its M.Zuiko Pro lens collection can only be a good thing.
Today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27 2019, seems like a good time to publish a link to the great British photographer Brian Griffin’s book ‘Himmelstrasse’, published by Browns Editions in a limited edition of 500 in 2015.
… In May 1942, Sobibor became fully operational and began mass gassing operations. Himmelstrasse (Heaven Street) was a cynical Nazi joke used to describe the final journey to the gas chambers.
Brian Griffin has documented the railway tracks in Poland that transported approximately three million prisoners from around Europe to the Nazi extermination camps during WWII. From the railway leading to Hitler’s Eastern Front military headquarters at the Wolf’s Lair, to the State Rail System leading to the camps of Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Stutthof and Treblinka. Griffin’s haunting landscapes are an emotional and personal photographic journey that represents the relentless brutality and inhumanity of the Holocaust.
This publication was launched in September 2015 at The Photographers’ Gallery, London. Followed by a launch at the NY Art Book Fair 2015….
Tish Murtha, one of Magnum photojournalist David Hurn’s first students at the famous School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, in the 1970s, was one of the finest documentary photographers of her generation but, in the all-too-usual manner, was ignored by the photography establishment until recently thanks to the tireless efforts of her daughter Ella Murtha, The Photographers’ Gallery, Bluecoat Press, Café Royal Books and others.
The course at The School of Documentary Photography was unique in Britain at the time and produced many fine photographers, a couple of whom later moved to Australia.
Others went on to fame and fortune, while Tish Murtha seemed to have disappeared into the background after initial early successes and commissions, dying prematurely in 2013.
Given the way female photographers have tended to be ignored and forgotten, it is wonderful to see that Tish Murtha is finally receiving the recognition that she deserved so much in her lifetime.
“Late Monday evening, VII (pronounced “seven”), one of the world’s premier photojournalism agencies, discreetly posted a terse, two-sentence statement on its website announcing that Antonin Kratochvil, the famed photographer and one of the organization’s founding members, had resigned. Any further inquiries, the agency said, “should be directed to Mr. Kratochvil.”
Kratochvil’s quiet resignation came on the heels of a bombshell report in the Columbia Journalism Review by Kristen Chick, in which several women accused him of groping and intimidating a number of female colleagues. (Kratochvil continues to deny all allegations.)…
… There were stories about the toxic culture of photojournalism before Chick’s reporting, including recent articles that brought down the famed sports photographer Bill Frakes and National Geographic editor Patrick Witty. But nothing was as comprehensive and pointed as Chick’s piece. After witnessing a wave wash over Hollywood, the media, politics, and corporate America, Chick’s story should have hastened our industry’s own #MeToo moment. That hasn’t happened — and the reason is bigger than a few bad actors….”