Archive for the ‘Photo Issues’ Category

XR Wedding

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

I’m not a wedding photographer. I have been asked to photograph weddings on quite a few occasions, but with a handful of exceptions for family and friends I’ve always refused – it just isn’t something I have any interest in and I’m fortunate to be able to afford to refuse work I don’t want to do. There are others who enjoy it and find it fulfilling – and who need the money.

I think until this event my full tally was five – two sons and three old friends for whom I did it as a wedding present. And at this wedding on Westminster Bridge, although I was taking pictures I wasn’t ‘the wedding photographer’, it was a part of Extinction Rebellion’s protest.

Though I had known one of the couple for some years. I think I first photographed Tamsin back in 2008 when she was leading the attempt by Climate Rush to storm the Houses of Parliament, and got to know her better at a series of protests over the next year or two, mainly against Heathrow expansion.

I hadn’t known when it was announced by XR that there would be a wedding that she was to be one of the couple getting married. The start of the event was somewhat delayed as her partner was held up at a protest outside the Dept of Business etc (BEIS) in Victoria St, and Tamsin had to go and find her, but eventually all the vital parties were present and the ceremony began.

It proceeded much like any other wedding, except there seemed to be considerably more kissing, but all the normal bits were there, including the exchange of rings.

I was some distance away and to one side, and at some parts of the ceremony the participants had their backs to me and it certainly wasn’t possible to move to get a better view. But for some of the time I was in a perfect position as this picture of Tamsin slipping the ring onto Mellissa’s finger I could not have been better placed. This is a relatively small detail from a frame (below) taken with the angle of view roughly equivalent to using 200mm lens, though I was actually working at 31mm (62 mm equivalent) using the 14-150 zoom on the Olympus OMD EM5-II.

It was a dull afternoon, but I was still working at 1/100s f8 at ISO400. I suspect the image stabilisation of the Olympus body helped to keep the picture sharp, at at lowish ISOs the quality of the Micro Four Third’s image is great. I think in low light, at ISO3200 and above, there is a noticeable advantage for full-frame, but when you can use slower speeds it is hard to tell the difference.

More pictures at XR Rebels marry on Westminster Bridge.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Stephen Shore small camera

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Stephen Shore is one of the photographers featured in Sally Eauclaire’s ‘The New Color Photography‘ published in 1981, though I had seen his work a few years earlier, certainly in Modern Photography magazine and possibly elsewhere. He also featured among the ‘New Topographics’ featured in the presentation by Lewis Baltz at his workshop I went to. Euclaire’s book certainly can be described as seminal, a significant milestone in the acceptability of colour photography as a serious medium for photographic artists – and perhaps more importantly for museums to collect and galleries to sell.

Of course colour in photography was not new. The first photographs had been taken in colour over a hundred years previously with technical demonstrations by James Clerk Maxwell and Louis Ducos du Hauron, and since the early days of the Daguerreotype colour had been added to photographs by hand. Autochrome, the first fully practical single plate additive colour processes was introduced commercially in 1907, and both Kodak and Agfa marketed their subtractive processes which were the basis of modern colour film photography in 1936.

Colour became used increasingly in some commercial photography from the 1950s on, and increasingly by amateurs in the 1960s. Its use by photojournalists was restricted not by the availability of film but by the huge bulk of publications still being printed in black and white for cost reasons, but as magazines changed it became more common.

I took one or two colour films (perhaps one per summer holiday) before I could afford to go seriously into photography, but when that became possible, partly because I was earning money rather than being a penniless student, it was also because I had learnt how to do photography on the cheap, loading cassettes from bulk film, developing and printing my own work – largely on surplus and often out-of-date paper. Colour was still expensive in comparison, though later I learnt to use bulk colour film and develop it myself, using cheaper alternatives to Kodak’s E3 and later E4 and E6 chemicals.

Kodachrome in some ways remained the gold standard, or rather the yellow box standard, but a film that was impossible to home process and which remained expensive to use. So though I used the occasional roll (mainly for those holiday snaps) and was fortunate enough to win a brick of the stuff in a magazine competition, largely I worked with cheaper films which could be brought in 50 or 100ft tins.

But certainly back in the 70s I was serious about colour, even if I took fewer colour pictures than black and white, and if the results weren’t always particularly successful. I studied colour, not in an art school but at home with books such as Johannes Itten’s ‘The Art of Color’, first published in 1920 when he was leading the “preliminary course” at the Bauhaus:

Itten theorized seven types of color contrast and devised exercises to teach them. His color contrasts include[d] (1) contrast by hue, (2) contrast by value, (3) contrast by temperature, (4) contrast by complements  (neutralization), (5) simultaneous contrast (from Chevreuil), (6) contrast by saturation (mixtures with gray), and (7) contrast by extension (from Goethe).”

David Burton, quoted by Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Itten

When I went to teach in a sixth form college in 1980 I found the art students there carrying out exactly the same exercises devised by Itten.

So while I appreciated the colour portfolios that were published in Euclaire’s book I reacted rather negatively to the suggestions that this was the beginning of serious colour photography – and I think we are now much more aware of earlier colour work than was then the case.

I began thinking about Stephen Shore and ‘The New Color Photography’ on reading an article online at The Guardian by Sean O’Hagan, Stephen Shore: ‘People would chase me off their lawns with my Leica’. Although Shore became well-known for the work he made in colour with a 10×8 camera, he was also carrying a Leica with him. It’s an interesting article that tells me more about the photographer, though I don’t think it illuminates his work in any respect for me, but perhaps may for those coming to him anew.

I’ve not yet seen the book, Transparencies: Small Camera Works 1971-1979 which is published on March 5th, but the preview suggests it is rather more interesting than the small selection of images illustrating The Guardian article.


Sitting on a goldmine?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Though film is now long dead for serious photography, the past few years have seen an upsurge in film sales, driven by young people who want to have fun taking pictures. And although I don’t see much point if any if you are going to have your films trade processed and then scanned, I can see how people can get a great deal of satisfaction about developing film and darkroom printing, which still has its particular magic that enthralled me around 50 years ago.

Like the youth of today, back in the 1980s and 90s, I became interested in archaic photographic processes, going heavily into what then became known as ‘alternative processes’. Partly my interest was in learning more about the historic processes used by some of the early photographers whose work I admired, but it was also in the aesthetic possibilites offered by cyanotype, kallitype, platinum and palladium, gum bichromate et al.

My interest was shared by a number of friends, one of whom became a well-known figure in the world of alternative photography, organising international conferences and making soemthing of a living running workshops and selling prints. But eventually I realised that my interests were more in the making of images to say something about the world and that the conventional processes, which were just beginning to embrace digital photography and printing. And I found that I could make prints which seemed to me just as expressive using an inkjet printer (and Piezography inks) as I had acheived with salt printing or platinum and with much more control.

When digital first began to dominate photography around ten years ago, film cameras were redundant and secondhand prices slumped. But apparently with a new young generation wanting to shoot film they are now in great demand. The video by NBC Left Field, ‘Why We Still Love Film: Analog Photography in the Digital Age‘ includes  some footage of a secondhand camera shop with cameras now being sold for silly prices. The man at K&M Camera in New York in the film says demand now exceeds supply and offers smiling customers cameras at prices that seem to have an extra zero on them. Those like me, who couldn’t bear to sell their old film cameras at knock down prices, may now find they are sitting on a goldmine.

Unfortunately for me, a quick check online of the UK secondhand camera market tells me that UK prices as yet don’t reflect those in New York, so we can either sit tight and hope they will catch up in time, or take a heavy suitcase full to the States. Though looking at those UK listings of cameras which all seem to be in at least ‘good’ if not ‘excellent++’ condition I do wonder how ‘knackered–‘ might affect the price.

It’s certainly a good thing that using film forces people to think about taking photographs rather than just keep pushing the button. Most of us who grew up on film probably still do that anyway with digital, though it has made some differences.

Long ago I remember looking at the contact sheets made by a Magnum photographer, working with 35mm film. Most of his sheets of 36 exposures only really contained perhaps two pictures, working around the subject until he was satisfied that he had probably done the best he could. Where possible (sometimes there is only a fleeting chance and it is gone) I work the same way with digital, but can now take more frames and take them in a considerably shorter time and have a higher chance of getting the scene exactly as I want it.

But it’s perhaps a good time to sort out all those old cameras and put them up for sale. And perhaps we shouldn’t leave it too long. As one of the photographers on the film in what was perhaps its most interesting contribution points out that the film renaissance is likely to be of relatively short duration because of its environmental impacts.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

Against Hate Crime

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

I’d caught a train that should have got me to London in good time to meet the Stand Up to LBGTQ+ Hate Crime protesters outside the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, chosen because of the nail bomb attack on this gay pub by a Nazi supported in 1999 that murdered three people and injured many more. It was the second in a series of protests to combat the nearly 150% increase in anti-LGBT hate crime in the UK between 2014 and 2018. The campaigners say we should all be able to walk the streets without fear. 

But the South West Railway had other ideas, and my train made several unplanned stops on its journey into Waterloo, arriving around 40 minutes late – over double the normal journey time. It’s hard to understand quite why South West Railway has such a poor record of time-keeping. They use fairly recent rolling stock with automatice doors that cut down calling times at stations by perhaps a minute at each stop. The trains have better acceleration than the older units and I think faster maximum speeds. They cheat by shutting the doors 30 or 45 seconds before the train time – so you may miss the 17.38 unless you are actually there by 17.37:30 – unless it is running late. And most years they manage to add a minute or so to scheduled running time. Back when I first moved to where I now live, the ‘fast’ trains used to get to London in under 30 minutes; now they take 35, an unremarkable speed of 33.6 mph. They are even slower at weekends.

I ran from the station to the bus stop, and fortunately didn’t have long to wait, though buses are now always slow in evening rush hour traffic, though still usually faster than walking over anything but the shortest distance. But I’d known roughly how long it would take and had allowed for that in planning my journey. I ran from the bus stop down Old Compton St, annoyed at having missed the start of the event but hoping I could still find them on their march.

Fortunately they had begun a few minutes later than planned, and I caught them just a few yards from the start of the march, though I was too out of breath to take many pictures immediately. But I was able to go with them on their march through Soho, where they attracted considerable support from many on the streets outside the clubs and bars.

The light was going down noticeably as they marched, though it was still 25 minutes before sunset when they reached Trafalgar Square. But some Soho streets are quite narrow and the light can be low. Trafalgar Square is wide open and there was more light. I was working with the Olympus E-M5II on auto ISO and it wasn’t long before it was sometimes reaching the maximum I’d set of ISO 6400. The results at this setting were noticeably noiser than at ISO3200, but at this and lower ISOs the camera was a pretty good match to the Fuji XT1, which started the evening at ISO 1600 but I later switched to ISO 3200. With a wideangle 10-24mm on this camera I didn’t need to go higher.

Trafalgar Square had been chosen for the end of the march partly because it was the scene of the murder of Ian Baynham in a homophobic attack almost exactly 10 years earlier, but also because it is a public place with a long record of protests. Protests in the main area of the square now require the permission of the Mayor of London, but the North Terrace in front of the National Gallery, though pedestrianised, still counts as the public highway and protests such as this are allowed.

More at Against LGBTQ Hate Crime


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Making Money

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

I’ve just had a quick read of a post on the LightRocket Photography Blog entitled ‘9 Most Profitable Photography Genres‘, which aims to give guidelines based on broad international standards about “the value of your work, what sectors you want to work in and how much you should charge.”

Value of course is a rather wider concept than simply what someone will pay you for photography, and certainly some of the most valuable photography so far as I’m concerned both by myself and by others has been produced without any real commercial intent or support. Relatively few of the great photographers whose work I admire and which fills the histories of photography were actually making much of a living from those pictures at the time they made them. Some had other sources of income outside of photography, others produced routine and largely uninspired photography to fund their personal projects.

Many photographers whose work now commands high prices in the art market sold pictures for peanuts during their lifetimes or even gave them away. Few became rich from their photography and largely it was driven by motives other than financial. Even now for many – as one photographer jokes to me occasionally – the best career move would be to die.

But of course we do need money to pay our bills, to eat, to keep a roof over our heads, and to buy cameras and computers etc. So getting paid for our work is important, and some may find this guide useful, though it has few surprises, though by UK standards I think some of the prices mentioned are extremely optimistic.

The artilce is entitled ‘9 Most Profitable Photography Genres’ and it’s perhaps not surprising that it begins at number 10 with the area I sell work in, Editorial News. As they say, it “is one of the most popular areas of work for photographers but it is, sadly, one of the least profitable“, thanks to intense competition, particularly from the large agencies. They have driven fees down and negotiate licencing deals with major image users that make it very difficult for freelancers to sell work at prices that make any real profits.

In the UK the market for editorial pictures has shrunk considerably, with many newspapers and magazines largely relying on images, often of poor quality supplied free by readers and with press releases.

It remains possible and almost certainly easier to make a living at the other 9 types of work mentioned, though in many sectors things are getting tougher, with jobs once done by a photographer now being handled by anyone who can hold a smartphone and produce a picture – if not a very good one.

Smartphones have also made it very much easier to produce videos, and in the right hands (or on the right monopod or tripod) the results can be surprisingly good. Certainly the much wider use of smartphones for making pictures and videos has led to the skills of photographers becoming much less valued – and for most people expecting to pay less for them.

It comes as no surprise to find Wedding Photography still fairly high on the list at No 4. It has long been a useful way to make some money, and when I taught I used to suggest it particularly to some of the more reliable students as a way of earning at least a part of a living. While most wedding work is routine and uninspired and not particularly well-paid, it is an area where it is still possible to develop individual approaches and find clients willing to pay high prices for something a little different.

And equally predictable at the top of the list is Fashion Photography, though as the article says it is an area which isn’t easy to get into “small, highly selective and sensitive to trends” and where success depends very much on networking skills.

I am however rather unsympathetic to the underlying idea behind this post, that that people will chose an area of work on the basis of the financial rewards that are possible. Chose to try and work in fashion if you have a passion for it and are not worried by the ethical considerations (the fashion industry is one of the major drivers of climate change, second only to fossil fuels) not because it may make you rich; chose to be a wedding photographer if you love working with people (and if you want to make a lot of money, with wealthy people) and so on. We each only have one life and it would be a shame to waste it in the pursuit of riches.

Suziki and Fuji

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

There are reports on several web sites including PetaPixel and DPReview about Fuji removing a promotional video showing Japanese photographer Tatsuo Suziki and removing him from their https://www.dpreview.com/news/6165309898/fujifilm-pulls-controversial-x100v-promo-video-due-to-the-featured-photographer-method global list of photographers.

I’m not sure how photographers qualify to be on the list, though I took a quick look through it and failed to find a single name I recognised but that probably isn’t the main criteria. As someone who has owned at least five Fuji-X cameras and used them at least occasionally since Fuji first brought out the X100 (now a paperweight on my desk) I don’t recall ever having heard of it before. But I’m more interested in what you can do with cameras than in the always fallible beasts.

It is a decision that has caused considerable controversy, generating many comments from photographers on both sides. Both PP and DPR point out that Suziki’s approach has similarities with that of Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden. When his book ‘Facing New York’ came out I wrote a review in which I expressed my uncomfortable feeling about his combative approach to his subjects, more or less pushing his camera and flash into the faces of unfortunate strangers on the streets of the city.

It wasn’t the fact that he took pictures without permission that worried me; we live in a public domain on the streets and just as we may look I think we have the same right to take photographs – so long as we do so without causing distress to others. That seemed to be a line that Gilden obviously and aggressively crossed, and so does Suziki, though in a rather more creepy way.

There is something about the way he moves, and the way he looks not at the subjects through a view finder but at the screen on the rear of the Fuji X100V the video was promoting which I find unsettling as so clearly do some of the people, mainly women, he confronts on the street. Much as I dislike Gilden’s approach it somehow seems more honest and direct.


My love/hate relationship with Fuji cameras continues. While they are capable of fine results, on a par with the heavier and larger full-frame Nikons I also own, the Fuji XT30 and XT1 do add a little unpredictability to my photography. I suspect it comes down to my having fingers, but sometimes on the XT30 I find my settings seem to have mysteriously changed during a session taking pictures. So one day when I had set the ISO to my ‘Auto-3’ setting I found that I had taken quite a few images at H – ISO 51200 before I noticed the change. I also notice some rather odd behaviour with shutter speeds when working with shutter priority. I may have the shutter set to 1/250 but sometimes the camera has a different opinion. And for aperture priority I’ve learnt to use a piece of black sticky tape to stop the aperture ring on the 18-35 lens from making mysterious moves as I handle the camera.

And oddities remain. Although I’ve turned off image review I still sometimes find myself looking at the previous exposure sometimes when I raise the camera to my eye to focus, though I can’t get this to happen consistently. There are good points too. Particularly the image stabilisation when using the 18-135 lens in low light is remarkable.

LGBTQ+ in Poland under threat

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Poland has a long history of tolerance, with homosexuality only being criminalised by occupying powers (most recently during the second world war), and consensual same-sex acts were decriminalised under the Penal Code of 1932 with the age of consent being set at 15.

But Poland is also in many respects a deeply conservative country, with a 95% Roman Catholic population. Many basic human rights are still denied in Poland, and various EU directives on equal treatment get ignored as “unconstitutional”. Amnesty, quoted by Wikipedia, in 2015 concluded that “the LGBTI community in Poland faces widespread and ingrained discrimination across the country” and that “Poland’s legal system falls dangerously short when it comes to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and other minority groups from hate crimes”.

Things have got succesively more difficult since the Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power, becoming a majority government in the 2015 elections. Their campaign in the 2019 elections was strongly around opposition to gay rights, and several cities and provinces covering most of south-east Poland issued declarations of ‘ LGBT free zones’, later amended to be called ‘LGBT ideology-free zones’. In December December 2019, the European Parliament voted by over 4 to1 to condemn the over 80 LGBTI-free zones in Poland.

One small photographic problem was with a large chalk rainbow which the protesters had drawn in front of the protest. Showing it all in a picture that made sense was not easy. Even using the full-frame fisheye lens it was difficult.

A view from one side was perhaps an improvement, and the rainbow umbrella certainly helped.

The event was a strong expression of solidarity with the Polish LBGTQ+ community, and included speeches by Peter Tatchell, Nicola Field of Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners and Weyman Bennett of Stand Up to Racism as well as by Polish Rainbow in UK.

More at Solidarity with Polish LGBTQ+ community.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Protesting in the rain

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Protests, particularly those over climate change, seem to rather often take place in the rain, and it causes problems both for protesters and photographers. Bad weather cuts down the number of people who come out to protest, leaving only the hard core; few of us like getting wet or cold or both and those who are wondering whether they should make the effort to take part are likely to take a look out of the window and think to themselves that perhaps they will go on the next protest and give this one a miss.

And of course photographers like myself do sometimes check the weather forecast and if its an event I’m wondering whether or not to cover it can be the deciding factor. I don’t like the cold or the wet, and I don’t really like working in the dark either, though I’m prepared to go out and do my best if I think it is really important.

Protesters can sometimes shelter under umbrellas, though it can be hard to carry a placard or poster as well as a brolly. It has to be pretty extreme before I’ll try to hold one while I’m taking photographs; really I need both hands for the cameras and an umbrella just gets in the way too much. It’s an accessory that really needs to come with an assistant to hold it.

While printed placards normally stand up to the rain, hand-made ones, usually of more interest, often have images or messages that run, or glued on letters or pictures that fall off. Most of the cameras I use are reasonably weatherproof, and some of the lenses are also said to be so.

I’ve tried using various kinds of plastic bags to keep cameras dry, including those manufactured and sold for the purpose, but have never found them much use. And of course you can’t put them over the part that really matters, the front surface of the lens.

I generally now work holding a chamois leather (vegans could try a microfibre cloth but they don’t work as well) balled up in my hand pressed against the front surface, taking it out immediately before I want to take a picture, and replacing it after I’ve pressed the shutter. But it’s surprising how often a rain drop can fall while you are focussing and composing the image.

When I know there is to be prolonged heavy rain I’ll think about wearing a poncho and then it’s easy to simply lift out the camera and take a picture then put it back in the dry. But my bag isn’t big enough to hold the poncho and I don’t like having it hanging around my waist. Usually I have a jacket and can put one camera inside on my chest, though it does mean opening the zip enough so I get a bit wet.

Lens hoods help too, at least with long lenses, but those on wideangles and most zooms give little protection against rain falling on the front element.

Something I’ve not heard much talk about, but has often been a real problem for me in wet weather is condensation on the inside of the lens. I can’t really understand why this is such a great problem for me, as I would only expect it to happen when warmer air saturated with moisture meets a cold glass surface. But it seems to happen whenever I’m working for a long period in wet conditions, at first simply giving flare and reducing contrast in all or part of the image and then when it gets worse making the lens unusable until I spend some time in a warmer place and it evaporates.

By the time we had got from Parliament Square to Piccadilly Circus, both the lenses I was using were beginning to steam up, and I decided it was time to get somewhere warmer and dry if I was going to cover the second event in my diary. This was in Kensington and fortunately my the time I had travelled there with a little help the lenses were clear again. One of the lenses changed its length when it zoomed, and so pulled air in an out helping the drying – and I also wiped any moisture off the lens barrel that became exposed when zooming out.

Students march for climate


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Requiem for a Dead Planet

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

The Daily Mail was banned by Wikipedia as an ‘unreliable’ source in 2017, and fact checking sites and organisations regularly find that it published materail that is known to be untrue. But of course there are stories in it that are factually correct, though even these often have misleading and sensational headlines.

It has a long history of support for extreme right views and its proprieter in the early 1930s Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere was a friend of both Hitler and Mussolini and ensured his papers published articles in support of the fascists and in 1934 wrote and published an article ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ urging young men to join Mosley’s thugs. The family still have a controlling share in the Mail group, which includes the Mail on Sunday and the daily free Metro. Northcliffe House in Kensington where this protest took place is now also the home of Independent, London Live and the Evening Standard.

Extinction Rebellion had organised the protest to urge the press to stop publishing denials of climate change and to tell the truth about the climate emergency. They want the press to “put the full resources of their papers behind saving humanity from climate catastrophe and ecological collapse, and protect what is left of the natural world. “

As well as stopping publishing fake science, this would also mean changing the content of the papers to remove advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel, food or other consumerist content and so enabling government can take the drastic action needed.

It was a protest where a great deal of thought and effort had gone into visual material, including skeletons, banners and lilies, as well as having classical music from XRBaroque who performed inside a large gazebo.

It was still raining most of the time, heavy at times, but Northcliffe House has a large projecting porch over its entrance which kept the rain off most of the protesters, and at least some of the time from photographers too. And it meant that most of those who took part in the die-in had a fairly dry pavement to lie down on. But there were still times like the die-in when to stand where I needed to take pictures meant standing in the rain. My lenses had dried out on the journey from Piccadilly Circus, but after taking pictures for an hour or so here I was having trouble with condensation.

Since it was ‘A Requiem for a dead Planet‘ some of those attending had come in suitably funereal dress, including one man in black with a black hat and dark glasses. I noticed these were reflecting some of the banners on the floor and as he moved around the white XR symbols on a black banner werem at times reflected in the lenses. There was a short period of time when there was a suitable banner behind him too, with skulls, and I took a whole series of pictures trying to get the effect I wanted. It would have been tricky to even set this up and I was pleased to get one frame with exactly the effect I wanted. People who were there have said to me “I didn’t see he was wearing glasses with the XR symbol on them” and I’ve just smiled.

More pictures at Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Fuji or Olympus?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

This is the question I’ve been asking myself for some weeks or months. For a year or so I’ve been finding a camera bag full of Nikon gear too heavy to carry for the length of time needed to cover events in London. It’s mainly standing around that I find a problem so far as my health is concerned, and I have to remember to either sit down or to keep moving to stop my ageing veins becoming inflamed. Walking is a little better, though I do get tired much more quickly, and while I used to walk for the length of a working day and perhaps cover ten or a dozen miles, now I get tired and give up in half the time.

I can still run when I need to, though not quite as far or as fast as when young. Last Saturday when I saw a march going down Whitehall from in front of the National Gallery I ran to catch up with the front of it, around 600 yards in the fastest time I’ve done for some years. But still slow compared to my youth, when before smoking took its toll I recorded some decent but not outstanding times. I once won a quarter mile at the local youth sports in a world record time and at least fifty yards ahead of the next runner. The timekeepers ran up to me pointing at the time on their watches, and in a perhaps stupid fit of honesty I told them that the race officials had put the finishing tape in the wrong place. I was very annoyed as the conditions had been perfect and I would surely have recorded a personal best on the day over the full distance.

But no I feel a great need to cut down the weight I carry, and the Nikons are only for special occasions (the D810 is now my slide scanner – more about that one day in another post.)

For some years my holiday cameras have been Fujis. I started with the fixed lens Fuji X100, then went on to an X-E2, followed before too long by an X-E3. I swapped my Leica M8 with a friend for an X-Pro1 because I wanted to work in colour without all the fuss that the M8 needed. All of these Fujis were good in their way – and if I could be satisfied with just a say 28, 35 and 50mm equivalent lenses I would have been happy with the X Pro1. But I really got serious with Fuji with the X-T1.

I tried working with the X-T1 and one of the Nikons. It was still a fairly heavy combination, but the X-T1 was pretty good (if occasionally mystifying.) Its 10-24mm wideangle zoom was an improvement optically than the Nikon 18-35mm that I’d bought when the 16-36mm gave up the ghost (it remains on my desk with an equally almost certainly beyond economic repair D700 as an expensive paperweight) though sometimes a little slow to focus. It was good to have the extra wide angle that its 15-36mm equivalent provided – I sometimes found the Nikon’s 18mm not quite wide enough.

But things were still too heavy. And when I saw an Olympus OMD M5 II selling new for just over £400, Micro Four Thirds seemed to be the answer (as one of my colleagues had been telling me whenever we met.) Along with the body I bought the absurdly small and light Olympus 18- 150mm, also going cheap. Just over 3 inches long and only 10 oz. I don’t own the Nikon equivalent, but it is half as long again, weighs almost three times as much and costs over twice what I paid for the OM lens.

And using the M5 II usually turned out to be a great experience, except for a few quirks – the most serious of which was perhaps the ease with which the main control dial could be inadvertantly moved. Working in shutter priority it is far too easy to find yourself taking pictures at 1/8th rather than the 1/250th you have consciously selected. Though with its effective in-camera stabilisation the pictures were still usually sharp unless anyone moved.

I don’t make a great deal of use of long lenses, but this August I spent some time testing the Nikon telephotos I do have, an elderly 70-300 and a couple of shorter zooms (one a DX) against the Olympus. Despite the much smaller 4/3 sensor, this gave the sharpest images and I could see no difference in the amount of detail.

For the past months I’ve been working almost all the time with the Fuji X-T1 and the Olympus M5 II. I’ve bought an expensive Panasonic Leica wide angle zoom for the Olympus, and can chose either camera for wide-angle or telephoto use, and can’t quite decide which I prefer. Both cameras have their quirks and neither is as straightforward to use as the Nikons. And winter weather and working in poor light have made some limitations felt, particularly with the noise in Olympus images at ISO over 3200. The D750 gives noticeably better results at ISO 6400 and focuses better in low light.

Of course the X-T1 is quite an old model by now – and the M5 II is now being updated as the M5 III. It would be easier to work with two cameras from the same marque, and I’ve been wondering which way to go. The M5 III seems only a minor upgrade on the II, and annoyingly takes slightly different batteries. I’ve been thinking of getting a second M5 II instead of waiting for the III, and the price is now even slightly lower. The X-T30 looks much more of an upgrade on the XT1, and is even lighter than the Olympus, but is not weatherproof, and I have more Fuji lenses… With some special offers and rebates the difference in cost isn’t great…