Why is Nick Turpin Promoting The #CANPUBPHOTO Tag for Street Photography?

Former newspaper and more recently street and advertising photographer Nick Turpin has proposed using the hashtag #canpubphoto – standing for ‘candid public photograph’ – online “to cut through the increasing ambiguity of the phrase ‘Street Photography’” and he explains why at his newly-launched website, Candid Public Photography

There is merit in this. I did not use the term ‘street photography’ when I began making candid photographs in public places years ago and have never described myself as a ‘street photographer’.

For the first couple of decades working on personal projects fitting the definition of ‘candid public photographs’, doing so was criticized in the local art community on the basis that is was not creative.

It was further criticized under the belief that I made my candid public photographs by carefully casting the people depicted in them and then painstakingly arranging them and directing them before clicking the shutter. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Another criticism levelled was that I made the city in which I lived, in its innermost eastern suburb, and the streets upon which I walked each and every day, loving and knowing every crack and paving stone like the back of my hand, look like other cities in the western world. Newsflash: cities around the world have been looking similar to each other for decades.

Recently I have seen comments about some of my candid photographs depicting people out and about in public as being ‘street portraits’. I beg to differ.

Wikipedia’s entry on portraiture, Portrait, says it well:

A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.

My main line of paid work for a while was magazine editorial portraiture and Wikipedia’s definition fits, whereas a candid snapshot of someone passing by with their attention on something occurring in front of them is not a portrait, street or otherwise.

I have made personal photographs of the streets of the city in which I lived, and ‘street photography’ may describe that activity well enough but less so for what I have long referred to as urban documentary, or more simply as photographing everyday life.

Mr Turpin’s suggestion has merit.

Links:

Fujifilm’s GFX 50S: New Ways of Seeing and Shooting, More Affordable Big Sensor High IQ

Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format digital camera is more revolutionary than the most commonly shared images of it suggest. That is the first thought I had when I began exploring then downloading the product shots at Fujifilm UK’s image bank and I think it is only going to really sink in when more photographers than just the few manage to try one out. 

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The press images hinting at the GFX 50S being more than meets the eye prompted me to download them all and publish them here, below. Specifications lists like the one further down the page are well and good, but seeing is where we will understand the real nature of this camera and its accessories.

The most obvious way of looking at the GFX 50S is as a larger version of the Fujifilm X-T2, but with a medium format sensor instead of an APS-C one. And in a way, that is correct. The GFX 50S has the external form factor of a DSLR except for the fact that we know the GFX 50S – with S, we assume, standing for SLR-like –is most certainly a mirrorless camera with all that implies about its lack of mirror slap and its ability to use an electronic or a mechanical shutter.

But then dig a little deeper.

The Camera

That pentaprism-like electronic viewfinder (EVF) unit is removable and yet, without it, the GFX 50S remains perfectly functional but as something more resembling a small view camera. Instead of a ground glass, it has a high resolution rear LCD screen.

So does the X-Pro and X-T2, like a slew of other excellent contemporary mirrorless and, for that matter, DSLR, cameras, all providing a live view that is perfectly adequate for using to compose, focus and create your photographs.

Contemporary mirrorless devices push digital cameras beyond the limitations of analog cameras in ways that mean I for one can never go back.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2, for example, might be considered three cameras in one, in analog terms. In one way it is a small view camera not unlike the 120 roll film  Linhof Technika 70, one of two Linhof Technika cameras with which I learned professional photography, the other being a Linhof Super Technika 4″x5″ sheet film camera with optional roll film magazines and a case full of accessories.

Although purchasing my own Linhof was beyond reach, the lessons learned on those two amazing cameras have stayed with me for life. They intimately shaped my portrait photography style.

Even when I used other view cameras, usually field cameras, for my work as a magazine portrait photographer, I often did so with a Linhof variable format 120 roll film magazine for more shots, faster operating speed and the choice of shooting square, rectangular or panoramic aspect ratios.

While I often find myself using the monitor of my X-Pro2 and other digital cameras as if a small view camera’s ground glass, there is no substitute for the real thing. It is all about the experience on both sides of the camera.

For me, a contemplative experience of care and precision. For my subject, an experience of respect, sometimes awe, and oftentimes an hypnotic fascination with this remarkable high precision machine into whose eye I was asking them to gaze, unflinchingly.

Then consider the images of the tilting EVF along with the images of the tilting monitor, both so reminiscent of the town lens reflex cameras that provided me with lessons in another way of seeing and photographing.

The Lenses

Although I learned that on an art school Mamiyaflex C330 TLR with interchangeable lenses, I chose Rolleiflex T and Rolleiflex 2.8G cameras for my professional use, for urban documentary and portraiture. All three left me with an appreciation of square format, 1:1 aspect ratio, for those times when I wanted to draw my viewers’ attention in so clearly it was like an arrow into the centre of a bullseye.

All my cameras were secondhand until I discovered 120 roll film rangefinder cameras and 120 roll film DSLRs. I won’t bore you with a list save to say that it was with the rangefinder cameras where I most felt at home due to having discovered Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras as a teenaged press photographer way out in the sticks working it all out for myself.

The Heritage

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Rangefinder cameras have a special place in my heart to this day for their immersive window into the world, their sense of deep space and spatial relationships across the frame as well as forward and backwards.

After the demands of commercial work caused me to invest in 120 roll film DSLRs, while conceiving the magazine I later went on to cofound, I discovered Fujifilm’s GX680 Professional series, a remarkable creation combining the best of view cameras with the best of DSLRs, but one which regrettably, I never got to try out.

Another range of Fujifilm analog cameras that I was luckier with were its 120 rangefinder cameras that now live on in my hands in ghostly form as the X-Pro2.

When the late, great photojournalist-turned-landscape photographer Michael Reichmann favourably compared the Canon EOS D30 DSLR’s sensor to Fujifilm Provia 100F film, it was clear that digital photography had attained the ability to match the look of analog.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro 2, X-T2 and the coming X100F with their 24 MP sensors  produce image quality far above that of 35mm film, rivalling if not surpassing that of low ISO 120 format film. We have so much to be grateful for.

There is just one thing I am a little peeved about, though, and that is that we have lost the wide variety of cameras we had during the analog era.

We now have remarkable image quality to the degree that images made on medium format DSLRs can surpass the resolution of 8″x10″ sheet film as Mr Reichmann demonstrated in another of his famous reviews.

But what all this testing, side-by-side comparisons, digital up against analog and so on fail to do is consider the experience of the cameras and lenses in question, on both sides of the sensor, and what that contributes to the images we make with them.

Image quality is crucial of course, and I say that as someone who commissioned photographs for 48-sheet posters during my advertising agency days and who now is contemplating a possible return to the art gallery wall.

For me most of all the experience of the photographer and the subject is what reigns supreme and always will.

The Specifications

Recommended Reading:

Recommended Viewing:

More GFX Challenges videos were released to go with the January 2017 announcement of the Fujifilm GFX 50S.

Image Credits:

Header image by Carmel D. Morris.

Ming Cai Shows How to Make Six Auto Bracket Exposures with Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 Cameras

One really big thing I have been hoping that Fujifilm will fix in firmware for its Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 APS-C cameras very soon is their automatic exposure bracketing functionality. Right now both cameras only allow 3 brackets to make landscape, cityscape or interiors High Dynamic Range (HDR) photographs at times when 5 or more brackets are more beneficial. 

Three-bracket handheld HDR processed in Macphun Aurora HDR 2017, exported to DxO ViewPoint 3 for optical correction then exported to Luminar for finishing. I am looking forward to Aurora and Luminar gaining optical and perspective correction functions. Under bright sunlight like this, 3 brackets are enough, but I would definitely want to use 5 brackets or more if shooting the same scene during sunrise or sunset.

Since Macphun released Aurora HDR 2017, currently the most full-featured HDR image merging and editing software available, I have been looking for ever more opportunities to shoot HDR when it will bring something extra to the image that cannot be obtained in just one exposure.

Three-exposure bracket handheld, when three is just enough.

I have been using 3 exposure brackets when handholding the camera to shoot portraits, 3 for landscape photographs handheld and 3 or 5 for close-up still life photographs on a tripod-mounted camera when I need a heightened sense of realism.

As neither the X-Pro2 or X-T2 currently permit 5 or more exposure brackets, I have been relying on my Panasonic GH4 and GX8 cameras for that. Both can make up to 7 exposure brackets. I want the very same ability on my Fujifilm cameras to bring them up to par for HDR.

Meanwhile photographer Ming Cai is sharing a 6-bracket HDR workaround for his Fujifilm X-T2 at his YouTube channel:

Tech Notes:

Riverside and portrait photographs made with Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens for the landscape and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens for the portrait which was lit with a Rotolight Neo LED light with barndoors and soft handle, and was held by the subject.

ON1 Photo RAW 2017 Image Editor Released, Now Available for Tryout or Purchase

This year, 2016, really has been a bumper year for great photographic hardware and software and now it has become even better with the long-awaited release by On1, Inc. of On1 Photo RAW 2017, an integrated raw processor and image editor replete with presets, filters and other functionality. 

On1 Photo Raw 2017 combines the best of On1, Inc.’s other image editing products into one expansive, feature-packed browser-based interface.

So now On1 Photo RAW 2017 joins Macphun’s Luminar as the latest of the two completely new raw processing-cum-image editing products of this year, to complement major upgrades of popular established software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, Affinity Photo 1.5Alien Skin Exposure X2, Aurora HDR 2017, Capture One Pro 10, DxO Photo Optics 11, Pixelmator 3.6 Cordillera and more.

Nobody can complain about not being spoiled for choice or not having the possibility of different raw processing and image editing paradigms and workflows.

On1 Photo Raw 2017 – I am dropping the capitalization of raw to RAW for the clear and obvious reason that RAW is not an acronym – along with Luminar are banging the nails in the coffin of separate software for raw processing and image editing and not before time.

The familiar On1 colour and monochrome (aka black and white) film simulation and printing effects presets are included in On1 Photo Raw 2017. Here, a mix of platinum printing, split-toning and a favourite analog film.

I am well over the idea of halfway processing images in a raw processor, then exporting them half-done to an image editor then finishing them off destructively or non-destructively before exporting them to a web-centric format for publication.

The more I can do non-destructively inside a raw-savvy application the better, in my opinion, and ON1, Inc. and Macphun clearly have got the message. Both their applications’ appearance in the latter part of 2016 can only be a good thing for competition, choice and plenty of terrific new features to come.

I have barely had time to skim the surface of what On1 Photo Raw 2017 can do, and it has been far long since I last used any of On1, Inc.’s other products, so best I keep it short, or shortish.

More conventional raw processing and image editing is a breeze in On1 Photo Raw 2017 too, as in this photograph made on the same day and camera as the monochrome image above.

The first big standout feature of On1 Photo Raw 2017 is its speed. It is FAST and clearly it makes plenty of use of the powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) of contemporary computers like the Apple iMac Retina I am using right now.

Secondly On1 Photo Raw 2017 belays the often time-consuming process of importing images into catalogs or sessions and is browser-based, enabling you to jump right in without delay.

Third, so many of the presets I came to appreciate and rely on when using other On1 products in the past are right here right now in On1 Photo Raw 2017, ready to add to a stack of filters, tools and adjustments that On1, Inc. tells us will only be growing over the coming months.

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An uncropped image shot for square format. Optical correction is coming to ON1 Photo Raw 2017 next year.
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Optical correction and applied in DxO ViewPoint 3 then cropping, resizing and exporting to JPEG applied in Affinity Photo.

I am looking forward to automatic lens correction, workspaces, versioning, in-camera profiles as looks or film simulations, the portrait filter and background processing all of which are slated to arrive from January to May 2017.

Software updates, camera updates and bug fixes are distributed throughout that list, exciting and very necessary given we are expecting the arrival of Panasonic’s GH5, Fujifilm’s GFX 50S and X100F, and more in the first part of 2017.

In common with other contemporary image editors, On1 Photo Raw 2017 works as standalone software and as a plug-in for host applications like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and Apple Photos. Conversely, On1 Photo Raw 2017 acts as a host to other image editors and plug-ins such as, for example, Google Nik Collection.

On1 Photo Raw 2017 is available right now as a freely downloadable 30-day trial version along with a great set of free product training videos and the best advice I can give you right now is to watch as many of them as appropriate. (Advice I have yet to follow as our Internet access here has been even slower than usual lately.)

On1, Inc. is offering terrific upgrade and full version deals expiring on December 31 so get in fast if you want to take advantage! Even better is that the customary 2 computer limit does not apply for installing ON1 Photo Raw 2017. It can be used on up to 5 computers.

Kyno, the Last Big Missing Piece in a Professional Stills, Video and Audio Workflow?

While going through the long, bureaucracy-dominated process of financing our projects including this one, ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’, I have been looking for the hardware, software and workflows to best support ‘Untitled’ when self-funding and serious production can finally begin. 

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My default Kyno workspace.

These last couple of years have seen some amazing advances in audio, stills and video hardware and software, but during the search process I identified one last missing piece in the equation, a versatile, up-to-date media management solution for audio, photography and video.

Digital asset management (DAM) has been the subject of some highly regarded books and was much discussed several years ago but seems to have fallen off the radar lately. Of course, reality as manifested offline in industry trade shows and other gatherings overseas may be entirely different.

I used a range of media management and digital asset management systems, in the course of working in agencies, for magazine publishers, online publishers and in-house production facilities for corporations.

Most were big-ticket items aimed squarely at the corporate sector but my favourite was a shareware product that anyone could afford and that could handle just about any type of media file thrown at it. It had its glitches, but it was essential to work that required a wide range of file types. Its name was iView Media Pro. And then it vanished, later to resurface as Phase One’s Media Pro SE.

Neat, simple, clean, powerful: the Kyno interface.

In the years since I have tried numerous other solutions but none really cut it. Some were applications that also had browser or catalog functions, some were big-end-of-town media catalogers that I could not personally afford and some were discontinued just when I started to really need them. None of them handled audio, stills and video files equally well.

ss_kyno_ui_05Often I ended up trying separate management solutions for each of the three types of media, a ridiculous situation given that contemporary media production often requires all three media formats combined into various forms of output. Photo slideshows with soundtracks. Videos combining all three with equal importance. Time-lapse sequences and big collections of photographs with Ken Burns effects applied, for standalone use or as parts of larger projects.

Then there were the utility programs needed to playback, handle, annotate, process and convert the three different file types. Add all those software licences up and it comes to a pretty hefty figure. And, almost none of those separate applications talk to each other.

ss_kyno_ui_06So I had very high hopes when fcp.co published an article about Kyno, an “all-in-one media management app” by Lesspain Software. Somehow I had missed the initial Kyno product announcement, perhaps as I have had to concentrate on low upload bandwidth stills photography for a while due to the National Broadband Network failing to come to this cluster of northern Sydney suburbs.

ss_kyno_ui_02I have been taking advantage of Kyno’s 14-day trial period to determine if the perfect media management solution for all three media types, audio, stills and video, has finally arrived. Right now, it is an almost-but-not-quite situation.

Kyno has some excellent audio and video features but its stills photography handling lacks one big functionality – universal raw file support. Kyno currently displays raw files from cameras I no longer use, Canon cameras, and Panasonic Lumix cameras I use primarily for video, but it fails to recognise that raw files from Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras exist.

ss_kyno_ui_03This is disappointing given the major inroads many mirrorless cameras are making into cinematography and stills photography and how essential I for one find integrating stills into my media production work. This absence means I cannot pull the trigger on a Kyno licence at the moment.

Surprising too because Apple and the LibRaw team (makers of the excellent Fujifilm-raw-savvy FastRawViewer) provide support for a wide range of digital raw files meaning third party software makers can use that to add support into their own products, as I was informed by a dedicated stills software maker the other day.

ss_kyno_ui_04“We do have plans to offer raw support in a future version of Kyno,” is the FAQ answer to “Will Kyno support raw formats?” but that answer is to do with “integration of DNG from Blackmagic Design cameras and RED (R3D)”. I certainly hope that those plans include support for Fujifilm raw stills files too.

Another FAQ, “Is Kyno a Media Asset Management System?”, answers that Kyno “is much more light-weight than typical MAMs because it does not require an import/ingest step before you can do something useful with your material” along with “but its scope is currently rather a very light-weight support of production processes rather than long-term archival”.

That lack of import or ingest is key for my needs. The last thing I need is yet another great-looking media management application that demands time-consuming importing or ingesting and creation of often-bloated catalog or database files. Worse, a solution that, having worked okay for some time, is discontinued or sold off then suddenly priced beyond my reach.

Kyno’s no ingest, import, catalog or database functionality has resulted in operational simplicity and speed, and avoids a dependency that may result in disappointment and the loss of years’ worth of archiving work.

If Lesspain can add Fujifilm raw stills file support to Kyno then they will have a new customer, or at least my software wishlist will be gaining a new entry right up there at the very top.

Postscript:

The Kyno crew tells me that “we’ll look into Fujifilm raw still support for the next update”.

Cam Tech: First Look, DxO ViewPoint 3

DxO Labs released version 3 of its DxO ViewPoint optical and perspective correction software product which functions as a stand-alone and a plug-in for popular image-editing software. 

I put DxO ViewPoint 3’s new automatic correction functions to the test and give it a thumbs-up, with the hope that full EXIF support for Fujifilm X-Sensor raw files and files derived from them will be forthcoming.