Porthcawl Street Photography Meet

It was a Tuesday, so this meant is was a Great Photography Walks South Wales photography meet. Probably one of our last ones of this year as Christmas gets closer, and the likelihood of another lockdown looms ever closer. We headed over to Porthcawl, which is on the coast in Bridgend, South Wales, and we took plenty of images. I didn’t want to do the same old same, so tried capturing a few different things this week.

For this day out I decided on using my Fujifilm X-T3 along with the Viltrox 23mm F/1.8. I set my ISO to 160 (the base on the X-T3), set the film simulation to my base simulation which is Classic Chrome with some tweaks and set the camera to aperture priority mode. I knew that I ay have been flitting from the odd landscape shot, to people passing me, so this mode was perfect for every occasion.

All the images presented below were run through Photoscape X Pro first, where they were cropped and straightened as needed. Exposure was corrected on a couple, but no alteration was made to the colours of the image as I had set the colour I wanted before I left for the meet.

Here are the images from the day. I wanted to capture the place as it was, and made the most of the fantastic weather.

I’m really happy with the way the images turned out from this meet. They captured the place in a different way to the way I usually take photos at Porthcawl. I took around 200 photographs, and there were quite a few landscape/seascape shots from the beginning of the meet, but those types of shots are not quite doing it for me at the moment. This street photography is a much more real snapshot of life in 2020, something that no landscape composition can tell.

Every picture tells a story, and just having the one camera and one lens with one focal length is the easiest way to tell that story. No fussing of changing focal lengths, no missing shots because of settings, see what you want to capture and press the shutter button. Instantly tell the story, and enjoy reliving the day in the future when you look back on your images.

If you like what you see, feel free to like and comment. I really appreciate the comments, they make me want to continue my photography journey. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you get an email and never miss a blog post by me.

Thank you all once again. Mark.

Photographers Spotlight Series: Marc Roovers


Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.


Hello,

My name is Marc Roovers, the youngest of four and born in 1961. My brother started a photography club in the village where we lived and it didn’t take long before I caught the virus too.

First it was mainly watch them take pictures, lying flat on their belly in front of a mushroom or a row of trees, and learn about coupled flash units, command dials, extension rings and reversed lenses. Almost every weekend we were hauling bags full of camera equipment to a new destination.

And then into the dark room, the red light, the chemicals, the baths, the enlarger, and finally a photo on paper. Who thinks that photography stops with the shot, and that developing the film is something you can’t control is wrong, the darkroom is the photoshop of the computer.

Analog photography, fully executed from shot to result, has something …

I don’t remember exactly, but it must have been somewhere around the age of 10 that there was nothing stopping me, I needed a camera, and I got one, a Kodak 110 Instamatic.

There was not much fun to be had with that one, and as we had a lot of cameras at home, I quickly switched to an old Voigtlander with bellows, which could be set completely manually, then the fun started!

It didn’t take long before I got my first SLR, I think it was a Fuji ST701, shortly afterwards I also had a Pentax SV, and as the years passed, other cameras followed.

I completed my obligatory Military service, got married 3 years later and soon after we had 2 children, both girls. In this period one element disappeared: development from start to finish. I continued to shoot, but it wasn’t the same anymore.

The eighties brought the computer into my life through work, and a new hobby was born, from self-study to programming courses, website building, databases, etc. to evening classes and ultimately trained as an IT specialist and got a job as network administrator.

Meanwhile, digital photography started booming. A new hobby that revived an old hobby. What was missing was back: developing… now digital, on the computer. And yes, it just wasn’t enough, I soon developed tools and apps for image editing in Windows.

At one point I realized it was time to move on and leave Windows for what it is, about 3 years ago, I started working on Kubuntu and open source image editing software. Making apps and tools has temporarily stopped, and now I’m developing HaldCluts and profiles. I have developed my own series of Luts called PictureFX, and these are also present in the G’MIC-Qt plugin and the Free Online Film Emulator, recently my infrared Luts have been added.

Other hobbies? Bushcraft is one of them, learning survival techniques, not to survive but to live in and with nature. Less of a hobby but a very deep interest in motorcycles, cars and airplanes, especially older ones and more specifically those of  the WWII period.

Got the opportunity thanks to a wonderful wife and life partner to drive a Ferrari like in the Magnum P.I. series years ago, and as icing on the cake more recently flew with a WWII fighter plane, the Mustang P51, I was even allowed to take over the controls for a short time while we were up in the air, of course under the supervision of the experienced instructor / pilot. This last present was not cheap so I don’t expect any major ones for the next 10 years 🙂

Not so long ago I started a new website, https://marcrphoto.wordpress.com/

I was already working on my own website before, in 2011 I bought my own domain, digicrea.be, but retirement is imminent, and the costs became too high to maintain it any longer (the contract expires April 2021).

Hence the new start – photography Regenerated !

Marc Roovers

Camera Gear:
Pentax DSLR K3 and K5 and many lenses from 8mm up to 500mm.
Olympus OM D EM10 with pancake 14/42mm and K&F Concept OM/M43 adapter.
Fujifilm X100 original, X-A3, X-E1, X-T10 and X-T20.
Fujifilm XC 15-45mm, 7artisans 25mm, Meike 35mm, Samyang 12mm and 7Artisans 7.5mm.
Olympus Zuiko OM lenses from 21mm up to 300mm with K&F Concept OM/Fuji X adapters.

and more…

Development:
Dell Studio 17” i5 8MB ram (about 10 years old) with Kubuntu 18.04.
Rapid Photo Downloader, Digikam, Luminance HDR, RawTherapee.


We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today


Photographers Spotlight Series: Ben Holbrook


Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.


Ben Holbrook: Gower Peninsula Photographer Profile

I’m Ben Holbrook, a full-time travel writer/blogger, photographer and videographer. Well, I say travel, but that’s not something I’m doing an awful lot of these days. In fact, at the time of writing, I can’t even leave Swansea due to a local lockdown.

But I’m still writing, still spending time with my camera here on the Gower peninsula, where I’m from and now live again after many years away.

I began my creative career when I moved to Barcelona in 2012 and set up my blog, Driftwood Journals. It took off pretty quickly and I soon found myself being invited to work with big travel brands, jetting off around the globe on assignments for the likes of Singapore Airlines, National Geographic Traveller, Ryanair and EasyJet.

I also published two books about Barcelona – including Precincts Barcelona, which spurred me on to improve my photography skills (because suddenly my images were going to be published worldwide by a big publishing house).

My DSLR Phobia

I was scared to get into photography at first. Not because of the technicalities of shooting with a “proper camera”, but because I knew it would be a rabbit hole I’d never be able to burrow my way back out of.

I just knew that, if I bought a DSLR, it wouldn’t be long before I’d start spending all my money on lenses.

Whatever that gene is that makes people want to collect/hoard… well, I’ve got it. I’ve got it bad.

So in the interest of protecting my bank balance, I shot with my iPhone for a long time. I self-identified as a “writer” anyway, so I wasn’t overly concerned with the quality of my images. Which is funny really, because I’ve had a deep interest in photography from a young age, even studying it at A level at Gorseinon College. But I had zero interest in writing until much later in life.

Anyway, I was right to fear going “full photographer” and, when I finally did, I did indeed end up spending a ridiculous amount of money on gear.

My first “proper camera” was a Nikon D3500, which I adored, followed shortly after by a full-frame Nikon D750 (and a bunch of stupidly heavy and expensive lenses).

I still have my D750 and love it dearly, but I never fully gelled with it. It was too big and heavy and, although the image quality was incredible, I just felt too conspicuous when shooting with it. You can’t blend into an environment or “become part of the scene” with a hulking great DSLR swinging and clacking away around your neck. You just can’t. Or, at least, I can’t.

Not long after, I spent another small fortune on a Fujifilm X-T20 as a “B camera” and instantly fell in love with it. As most Fuji shooters will relate to, my Fuji quickly became my “A camera” and my Nikon started spending an awful lot of time sitting on a shelf along with all the stupidly heavy and expensive lenses I’d picked up for it.

And so that’s how I would try to describe my photography, as a sort of blend of honest documentary, artsy street photography and story-led travel reportage.

Developing My Own Photographic Style

By the time I’d become an avid Fuji X photographer, shooting my photos (and videos) almost exclusively with my Fuji X-T3, I was living in Barcelona with a few years of professional experience under my belt.

Driftwood Journals was frequently cited as one of the best travel blogs about Barcelona, and Spain in general, and I was regularly jetting off to foreign lands. I felt like I’d “made it”, but the more I shot the less happy I was with my images.

I view photography as a vehicle for seeing beauty in the ordinariness of everyday life, for meditating on the mundane. That naturally endears me to more of a candid documentary/street photography style of shooting than the “instagram bangers” typically associated with contemporary travel photography.

And so that’s how I would try to describe my photography, as a sort of blend of honest documentary, artsy street photography and honest travel reportage.

You won’t arrive at a destination I have photographed and think, “Christ, it looks nothing like it did in his photos!”.

My Photography Loves

Photographing Wales!

I found that moving home to the Gower peninsula in Wales after many years in Spain, with the mindset of a writer and photographer, allowed me to see it in a whole new light. Photography gives you the gift of being able to really look at a place and its people and way of life. It’s a real blessing to be from such a ridiculously wild and beautiful place, and I’m excited to share it with the world through my photography, films and written travel guides.

Check out my recent guide to the “Best Beaches on the Gower Peninsula ~ A Local’s Guide” for an example of the sort of content I’m creating.

Old Photography Books

So many photographers spend all their money on gear, but I think it’s better to invest in experiences (that you can photograph) and education. Unlike Instagram, photo books are complete works of art and tell a story from start to finish.

I can’t remember where, but I read somewhere about a photographer saying: “I don’t need to upgrade my camera, I need to upgrade my skills. My camera is already too good for me – I am limiting it, not the other way around.” Or something to that effect…

I adore the work of Steve McCurry for straight travel photography, and also recommend any books by Saul Leiter, Martin Parr, Vivian Maeir and Christopher Anderson for very different takes on the art form. I mean, I could go on and on and on, but as somewhere to start…

Books, study, travel, shooting daily… that’s what will make you a better photographer, not another damn camera!

Posterity

I take a lot of photographs. I am definitely an over-shooter. And I take many of them of things I know hold no real value or interest right now.

But I don’t really believe you can judge or predict how a photo will age, how valuable a photo can or could become given the chance to exist through a couple of decades.

Even a boring photo of your street or house/apartment will be interesting to people – including yourself – in 20, 30, 40 years’ time.

My Photography Hates

Instagram

I think there’s a huge difference in being an “Instagrammer” and a photographer. I’m not saying I haven’t discovered a ton of great work on there, and found new heroes, but I don’t honestly feel that Instagram is the best place to share my work (or for others to discover it) – though admittedly I still do use it, as (sadly) it’s one of the main ways people consume photography these days.

The General Public’s Misconception of What Photography is

“Wow, your camera must be really great.”

“That’s a beautiful photo – what lens did you use?”

“Great shot! What did you use to edit it?”

We’ve all heard it, and possibly even said it ourselves, and it drives me crazy. Of course it’s a good thing that everyone is a photographer these days, but not everyone is an artist, and certainly not everyone understands what really makes a good photo. One thing’s for damn sure, it’s about more than just having a fancy camera.

Form Over Substance

I suppose you could include this as part of my comment above… These days I feel like too many people confuse image quality with quality images.

Just because a photo is technically correct doesn’t mean it is a good photo. Sharpness does not necessarily maketh a beautiful photo. Dynamic range doth not an iconic image guarantee.

In a Nutshell

I think of photography as an art form, not a technology-based vocation. I appreciate we’re all on our own journeys with regards to finding the right camera for our styles, but ultimately I think we should be focusing on the craft more than the gear. Even in lockdown, there is still more out there in the world to photograph than we could ever manage in one lifetime, so let’s get out there and indulge in this unique and beautiful form of self-expression.

All you need is one camera, and one lens.

///

Visit Driftwood Journals to explore more of Ben’s work and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube andTwitter to contact him directly.


We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today


Photographers Spotlight Series: Mike Winson


Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.


I’m Mike Winson, and I’m a retired broadcast engineer, the wrong side of 70, and among other pastimes, I have a keen interest in photography, so at Mark’s request, here’s a few notes on my photographic journey of nearly 50 years.

I wouldn’t say that my photography is up to professional or club standard, but I’ve never wanted to do it for a living, and I’m not keen on the camera club type of collective, so as long as I like the photos and enjoy the experience of getting out and taking them, I’m happy.

We always had a camera in the family – a 1930s Ensign Pocket 20 when I was young (which I still have, and which still works), so I have many family photos taken with it to look back on, usually involving various seaside beaches, knotted handkerchiefs, and the unbroken rule of “always keep the sun behind you”.  I was rarely allowed to touch the camera though – not surprising, as my early attempts usually resulted in chopped-off heads, and there were only eight shots per roll of film, and that had to last us the whole week in Skegness, Scarborough or whichever seaside resort we were holidaying.

My first “proper” camera was a Russian Zenit E f/2 SLR, which I bought to document a coast-to-coast trip across the US with three friends in 1972.  I spent time reading photography books and magazines, learning the mysteries and language of photography – aperture, shutter speed, ISO (or ASA as it was at the time), depth of field, circles of confusion, chromatic aberration, composition rules, etc, so had a reasonable understanding when we set off on our three week adventure.  Disappointment followed, however, when all eight 36-exposure rolls of Agfa CT18 slide film came back with a purple cast on every image, and it would be nearly 40 years before I would see them in their true colours, with the benefit of scanning and digital correction.

I also had an interest in electronics, and the need to make my own printed circuit boards got me into photolithography.  I didn’t get very far with 35mm negatives of my circuit board designs, so I acquired a vintage Thornton Pickard plate camera, which I used with high-contrast lith film to produce my circuit board masters. Strangely, I never took any proper photos with that camera, probably because my limited processing equipment didn’t lend itself to large format.  It would have been interesting in retrospect, but sadly I dismantled the camera with the intention of restoring it to its former glory, and left the box of bits in the loft of the farmhouse in Elgin, so never got back into large format photography. The experience did get me into the chemistry of photography though, and for a while I developed and printed my own black & white photographs in a makeshift darkroom in my parents’ loft.

The years passed, house ownership, marriage and family took over, and my photography stagnated somewhat.  I had a series of different 35mm cameras over the years but, like the old Ensign, I was mainly taking photos on family outings and holidays.  In 2000, I bought my first digital camera, a Nikon E950.  This revived my interest in photography, and I was back developing my own photos again, but this time on a computer screen rather than with chemicals and dishes. The cost of digital memory meant that I was back to the Ensign days of only eight photos on a Compact Flash card though!

Many arguments have been had regarding computer processing of digital images, and the term “Photoshop” is often used in a derogatory manner.  I’m firmly of the opinion that, just as in the days of developing and printing film, the creative process doesn’t end when you press the shutter button, in fact many of the techniques used in digital processing are taken from the darkroom, even in the names of the processes (e.g. crop, dodge, burn, filter, etc).  That’s a whole different blog entry though…

A series of digital cameras followed, and I settled on Canon as my preferred brand.  My current camera is a Canon EOS 700D, which I bought just before a safari holiday in Kenya in 2016.

In 2017, my wife spotted a Facebook post from one of her friends, which mentioned a group of photographers and walkers from the Port Talbot area, and she persuaded me to go to one of their walks. I’m not a particularly sociable person at the best of times, but I agreed to go (I think she wanted me out from under her feet!) and my involvement with Great Photography Walks Neath Port Talbot (GPWNPT) began.  I think it was only the second or third walk that the group had undertaken, so numbers were low – about eight, I think – but I’ve rarely missed a meeting since, and the group has grown to an online membership of nearly 800, with a regular attendance at walks of between 15-20.  Through the group, I’ve really revitalised my photography interest and knowledge, and it has once again been my main hobby for the last three years.

Apart from within the group’s Facebook pages, I don’t share my photographs in any forum, so don’t have a webpage or other online presence, but here are just a handful of my favourite images from my collection of thousands.

Thanks for reading, and to Mark for letting me hi-jack his blog!


We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today!


Photographers Spotlight Series: Sebastian Boatca


Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. This is a regular feature, see the end of the article for details.


My name is Sebastian Boatca, a photographer based in Brussels, Belgium, editor at FUJI X PASSION – Inspirational Photography Magazine and former vice-president of VIEWFINDERS – The Photography Club of Brussels. I embrace life through my experiences as a man, husband, father, traveler and photographer.

For me, photography is a way to express visions and feelings, a way to connect people with different views of the same universe. A camera is a tool , which captures a fragment of space in a moment frozen in time. The way each photograph looks is a result of a genuinely unique inspiration, a set of factors that will never repeat again. This is why in photography it is essential to be aware of all the elements involved in building a photograph.

I have started my interest in photography with a compact camera. Then, as a passionate amateur photographer, I have felt I needed something more than what a Panasonic Lumix can offer. This was my first digital camera for photography. Later on, the most significant upgrade was getting a Canon APS-C DSLR along with a few lenses, both zooms and primes. From here, the ultimate dream for me was to enter the Full-Frame territory and upgrading to a Canon 5D was the natural way, when expecting significant improvements in image quality and technical performance. However, Fujifilm, with the revolutionary X-Trans sensors and their amazing lenses, proved me two essential things, which shaped the way I did photography since then:

  • With a Fujifilm X system, there is no need to go Full-Frame, because you already have all the quality and the performance you need, in both their sensors and their wonderful Fujinon lenses.
  • Fujifilm revealed the fact that there is beauty, performance and flexibility in shooting JPEGs while forgetting about post-processing RAWs. With a carefully customized colour profile, I have discovered I have more time enjoying shooting. From my limited experience with different camera brands and models, I find that Fujifilm delivers the best quality in a JPEG file, thanks to their color science behind the sensor and their film simulations.

I put a lot of emphasis on aesthetics. I have this organic need to see functional, yet pleasing design principles. After using beautifully designed cameras from Fujifilm, when I hold and use a DSLR, I just find it as if it was coming from another world I do not want to interact with. What is the point of manufacturing tons of different photographic tools if we leave behind the touch of influential history in great camera design and a final architecture that pleases the eyes and hands?

I like to travel and using a Fujifilm mirrorless system is the key to a more pleasant experience when traveling light. Lightness and elegance mix themselves in an exquisite way. Sometimes it is important to minimize the “photographer’s print” you leave on a group of people, or community. Many times “silence” is the defining word when you really need to be inconspicuous. This is why my photo bag is getting smaller, with only a “survival kit” inside, comparted to what I used to carry with me a few years ago.

Over the last 7 years, I have been using six models of cameras from Fujifilm. I have started with the one-of-a-kind X-Pro1, then moved to X100S, which I had in parallel with the X-T1. The rangefinder style was so appealing that X-Pro2 was the camera I loved the most. The last phase is the one when I use the underrated X-H1 and lately, X100V has become the most loved camera of all six.

Using and enjoying this amazing Fujifilm X100V means following the two major principles in the way I do photography lately:

  1. Smaller is better. The best compromise in price / performance / sensor size and image quality / size and weight of the camera + lens is when you use a camera like the X100 series from Fujifilm and X100V is the more matured iteration.
  2. JPEG means freedom of enjoying more photography. With the highest quality that I ever saw in an APS-C camera for a JPEG file, Fujifilm gives you the liberty to customize their film simulations. If you learn how to use the camera to its true potential, the results are outstanding. I photograph in RAW format only for specific reasons and needs (from the point of view of a non-professional photographer).

I have printed and exhibited my work done from both RAW files and JPEG files. Lately, I like to challenge myself and get it right in the camera, while playing with my customized colour profiles, trying to reproduce some of my favourite film emulsions character, or just looking for a more original  and personal look.

Moving towards film photography was simply a dream come true, something more than a “photo project” limited in time. I feel like this is a commitment for life, while still enjoying the beautiful outcomes from Fujifilm digital photography.

Below, you will find a list of film types I have used until now:

CineStill 50D

Kodak Pro Image 100

Kodak Ektar 100

Fujicolor Industrial 100

Kodak Portra 160

Kodak Gold 200

Fujicolor C200

Kodak Ultramax 400

Kodak Portra 400

Fujicolor PRO 400H

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400

It is hard to build a “Top 5 My Favourites Film Types”, but if you would ask me to do it, I would probably try to nominate there (not in a specific order): Fujicolor PRO 400H (great character and immensely flexible, Fujicolor Industrial 100 (full of charm), Kodak Portra (both 160 and 400), Kodak Gold (a very underestimated film stock) and Kodak Ektar (ideal for landscapes and travel, with the finest grain). I would be happy to have these five emulsions for the rest of time, even if I truly like to experiment with different types of film and discover their personality.

For the moment, I have three analogue cameras and around eight interesting (some quite famous) prime lenses for film photography. It is a joy to slow down, get away from the worries related to megapixels, subject tracking while moving, focus points and autofocus speed. Going back to the roots of Manual Mode and responsible photography feels so rewarding. When I come back to digital, it feels like I have the fastest camera in the world; we are truly spoiled with technology and yet we continue to be unsatisfied.

If an analogue camera does not captivate you for a daily use, just borrow one and use it from time to time; it is a great opportunity to exercise your skills, your composition, taking your time to create your shot and manually focus on your subject. Using manual focus lenses will surely refine your abilities as a photographer, bringing real improvements to your compositions. You will focus more on the artistic side of the photography, while being careful how to overcome the technical limitations and still deliver great results. I find this to be a wonderful world, full of possibilities and creativity, filled with mysteries waiting to be revealed – and it is always nice to feel special and do special things.

Sebastian Boatca – October 2020

www.sebastianboatca.com


We’re always looking for photographers to share their stories, websites, social media and more. Please contact me if you would like to contribute! People always enjoy reading about others. Get yourself seen today!