About you

Born in the 60’s, I bought my first real camera (SLR) whilst at university, after graduating I worked for Plessey writing real-time software, before moving to Reading to work in the broadcast TV industry. Since 1994 I have run my own businesses in the world of industrial imaging, culminating in my current work in Industrial Automation. I specify and fit cameras to production lines and write software to interpret the image, to inspect products/parts or act as the eyes of a robot (robot guidance). I’ve also been moving slowly further northwards, from starting in Poole, Dorset, I’ve got as far as Cheshire, I reckon by the time I retire I’ll have reached Oban!

Photography although part of my business is a complete passion, almost an obsession. Not only do I love taking part, but I enjoy teaching others, and for the last two years I’ve been running workshops for a local camera shop, and starting in 2018 will be running a number of workshops for Fujiholics.

So you’re a Fujiholic?

Fuji cameras are in my blood…… my first SLR was a Fuji STX-1N, my first digital camera was a Fuji MX2900. Despite a couple of forays into the world of Canon, I’ve returned to Fuji and for the last 5 years, I have been shooting with the X series cameras. I’ve owned many models (X100, XF1, X-E1, X-E2, X-T1, X-T2, X-A2, X100F), but now have two main bodies X-T2 and X100F, my original X100 is going nowhere though, and still gets the odd trip out, it’s a bit like taking a classic car out, slow, a bit bumpy, but the journey is always enjoyable.

John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library

Fuji lenses have always been excellent (I even use a lot of the C-mount products in my Industrial Automation work), and in my opinion, the light and optics are what forms the picture. In my Industrial Imaging work, we always say that lighting and optics are 95% of the problem, the rest is just selecting the right sensor and amount of computer power. It’s really no different in photography!

Which is your favourite lens? Why?

My favourite focal length is without doubt 23mm (35mm FF), I could be happy if I only ever shot at this focal length, so I suppose you’d have to say that’s my favourite, but the one lens that takes my breath away every time I use it is the XF90mm. It’s a very special lens, both in terms of sharpness, out of focus bokeh and it’s colour rendition.

When you next go travelling, what gear will you take?

If it’s a city break or a family holiday, I’ll travel light, often taking the X100F, Wide Angle Converter, spare batteries and memory cards. I feel that there is very little you can’t do with an X100 series camera, yes you have to zoom with your feet, and sometimes you can’t make that first shot you envisage, but there is always that more interesting second shot that you didn’t initially see that the X100 series captures so well.

I managed to go on a weeks holiday to the Isle of Mull, leaving my then DSLR bag at home (a packing mistake!), all I had was an X100, one battery of indeterminate charge and a tripod, no spare batteries, memory cards, etc. By switching off power-hungry functions, relying on the OVF, I managed to make the week, taking over 350 shots, even shooting Puffins (though I had to sit still for a long time, and heavily crop!). It’s a very capable camera.

But if it’s a ‘photographic expedition’, I’ll take the X-T2, a selection of lenses, tripod, filters, etc.

When out shooting, what are your settings? Why?

Again this varies, I always shoot RAW+JPG, but rarely use the JPG, but the simulation helps compose the image in your head. There are three images to every photograph, the one in your head, the one the camera takes and the resultant one from post-production. Most of us strive to get the first and last images the same!

On the whole I’m an Aperture Priority shooter, when I’m out a photography day, I’m very deliberate with my settings, I’ll spend some time getting it right especially with regard to composition, I’ve found that by slowing down I end up with more ‘keepers’ at the end of the day (and as a bonus I don’t have to wade through thousands of images to find those keepers!)

But on a city break, I’ll often just set up the Auto-ISO (comfortably up to 6400 on X-Trans3), set a min shutter speed, and then just adjust aperture as I need it. It enables me to shoot fast and gives reliable results.

What kind of tools do you use for post-processing?

I use LightRoom with some of the NIK software plug-ins, notably Dfine for noise reduction and Silver Efex Pro for Black & White conversion. Once you get your head around the control points in Silver Efex Pro, it is a very powerful tool.

Unless I’m working on a project that demands a high level of post-processing, I like to process my images quickly, I’ll often only select a few to process from a shoot, and rarely spend more than 5 minutes on each image.

What is your favourite Film Simulation? Why?

I don’t really have a favourite, but usually, my camera is set to PROVIA or ACROS+R if I want to see the tonal contrast.

What’s Next?

In my own photography, I’m working towards being more project-based, not exclusively, but to try and give some structure to my photographic journey. There are always more ideas that I want to try, it’s finding the time and money to do them! I have an endless bucket list……

With regard to equipment, I’m really happy with what I have at present (though I should probably cull a few lenses!), but I can sense that there is a MF itch that needs scratching!

I also intend to develop my workshops, enabling more people to learn new skills, so hopefully, I’ll see some of you on Fujiholics workshops.