Lux Lisbon at the Scala, London

Lux Lisbon on stage at the Scala, London

It’s great to get to shoot a high energy live gig, but even better when it’s a band you like, so I was more than a little chuffed to get to shoot Lux Lisbon’s largest gig to date at the Scala, in London.

Michael Kilbey on stage at the Scala, London

Michael Kilbey

There were two support acts starting with singer-songwriter Michael Kilby. I’d not shoot at the Scala before so it gave me a good chance to get a feel for the venue – singer-songwriters don’t generally move around too much and I’m pleased to say Michael followed in that honourable tradition. Michael has a great following, the ‘Sea Queens’, as they’re known, really enjoyed themselves!

Orlando Seale & the Swell on stage at the Scala, London

Orlando Seale & the Swell

Next up were Orlando Seale and the Swell. In addition to a guitarist, Orlando was playing with two great violinists and a very lively group of backing singers. It’s easy to tell when a group are enjoying themselves on stage and they were really enjoying themselves. I had the pleasure of meeting Orlando, he’s such a nice guy and was happy to chat to the audience in the bar after the gig.

Lux Lisbon have no management or record company – everything is completely DIY. I later found out they’re the first self-managed band to sell-out the Scala, a great achievement. I admire them for doing it that way, it’s really hard work, all the band were on stage before the set doing what would normally be roadie duties.

Lead singer Stu from Lux Lisbon on stage at the Scala, London

Stu from Lux Lisbon

Lux Lisbon are one of those bands that really come into their own in a live setting. I’m no music journalist so I’m not going to attempt to describe the references that inform their work – happily there’s a free 10-track EP you can download and do that for yourself.

It’s a fairly easy journey home from the Scala never-the-less it was still after midnight when I started editing. I was shooting RAW + small jpeg. I’ve written before about how great the Fuji jpegs are, it’s a massive time-saver to be able to grab jpegs straight from the camera, give them a quick tweak and email them off. The band wanted a few shots for their twitter and facebook feeds so they didn’t need to be huge files, the jpegs were ideal.

Charlotte from Lux Lisbon on stage at the Scala, London

Charlotte from Lux Lisbon

I’ve been playing with using the built-in wifi on the Fuji XT-1 to download files to an iPad. Snapseed and Lightroom Mobile are so intuitive on the iPad, in some ways I enjoy editing with them more than with full-blown Lightroom. Doing it that way would allow me to get some shots out even quicker, but I’m still not at the point where I feel I could rely on it to work without a hitch.

I spent the following morning editing the RAW files, uploading the final images to dropbox by the end of the day. You can see some more shots on my website. I hope you enjoy them and thanks to Lux Lisbon for the opportunity.

Track cycling at the Olympic Velodrome

a track cyclist warming up at the Olympic velodrome London

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to shoot one of the Full Gas Winter Track Series events that take place at what was the London Olympic velodrome, now the Lee Valley velopark. It’s impossible to stand in the centre of the beautiful wooden track without imagining the atmosphere, in the heat of the 2012 summer, as the home crowd cheer Laura Trott, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton et al on to Gold Medal winning victory.

Track cycle racing at the London Olympic velodrome.

However, it’s a very different place on this cold, damp Tuesday evening in February. There are far more people in the centre of the track than outside, except for the odd supporting spouse and parent, the stands are all but empty.

The times these competitors are putting in maybe slower and many are certainly older than their Olympic counterparts, but the passion is no less real. It takes a lot of commitment to drive to this rather bleak, incredibly busy, corner of North London after a day at work only to don a lycra bodysuit and push yourself to the edge of exhaustion.

A track cyclist waiting to race at the London Olympic velodrome.

What you don’t realise, as the casual observer, is quite how dangerous it can be. I spent most of the first race doing my best to get my photographic eye in and realising quite how fast these group ‘C’ amateurs were travelling.

The group ‘B’ warm up gave me a second chance to get some shots of the racing when, after only a few laps and a touch of wheels, there were suddenly a number of riders on the ground.

Two track cyclists after being involved in a crash.

At first it seemed like the opportunity to get another perspective on the racing. It soon became obvious that two riders received more than scrapes and bruises. One received a nasty cut to his head, another landed on the wrong side of the barrier amongst the, luckily absent, spectator’s seats and was more seriously injured.

An injured track cyclist being attended on the track.

After some time the rider with bleed was taken away by ambulance and the more seriously injured rider by air ambulance. I understand both have now been released from hospital to hopefully ride again.

The prizes may not be the same as those awarded to the Olympians but the dangers are just as real.

An injured track cyclist with a bandaged leg.

I’ve had the opportunity to return and fortunately see more racing and no accidents, I’ll post some shots as soon as I’ve had a chance to edit them.

Small town America: Port Orford, OR

A small church in Port Orford, OR

I have a great fondness for small town America. That eclectic mix of industry, commerce and residence rarely fails to entrance me. One of my longest-held ambitions is to take a few months out and complete a long-term documentary photography project in a small American town. I rather ambitiously see it as a scaled-down version of W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh project, with maybe slightly fewer than his 17,000 images.

We spent our holiday in Oregon last year and in a small echo of that ambition while there I tried to document the buildings along US Route 101 in the town of Port Orford.

documentary photography shot of unmarked building, Port Orford, OR

For those who are in a hurry to get somewhere, and who are not flying, US Route 101 has been superseded by Interstate 5, but at one time it was the route along America’s West coast. For 1,550 miles it runs near the mighty Pacific ocean.

….. a scaled-down version of W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh project …. slightly fewer than his 17,000 images

Even despite its inter-state scope when it runs through hundreds of small towns it becomes Main Street, the strip onto which stores open their doors. Onto its sidewalks churches open and schools empty, thousands of small General Stores, fast food restaurants and industry trades along its length. When you pull out of Coos Curry Supply in Port Orford it’s easy to forget you’re on ribbon of blacktop stretching from Port Angeles at the very top of Washington state, a wet two miles from the Canadian border, to Los Angeles in sunny Southern California.

documentary photography shot of Coos Curry Supply a hardware store in Port Orford, OR

On this trip I ran out of time in Port Orford, route 101 was pulling me ever northward, but I’m sure I’ll be back to both to Port Orford and hopefully for even longer to some, as yet, unknown small town at which I can point my lens.

documentary photography shot of Chevron gas station, Port Orford, OR

documentary photography shot of gas filling rig, Port Orford, OR

Fujifilm x-series JPEG files

A trio in close conversation in Tap coffee

 

Having read recently read Kevin Mullins’ article detailing how he set the custom film profiles on his Fujifilm X-series cameras I was keen to give it a go on my new Fuji XT1. Although I’ve been shooting with my X100s for some time it’s mainly been in RAW.

Fujifilm X-T1 jpeg file of a cup of coffee in Tap Coffee, London.

I was in Soho yesterday and decided to forgo the RAW, shoot JPEG and see how they came out. Let me be the first to say none of these are going to win any awards but they give a good cross-section of lighting situations.

Fujifilm X-T1 jpeg file of a patisserie shop worker admiring his wares

The commonly accepted wisdom is that JPEG files just don’t give the necessary flexibility in editing.

By virtue of the fact a RAW file includes all the available data and a JPEG doesn’t, then the RAW file has to be the safer way to shoot. However do we always need that additional data?

If I’m shooting for a client then, yes, I’m going to buy the insurance of a RAW file. But if I’m just shooting some street photography as I wander Soho on a Saturday afternoon, then on the evidence of these shots, for me, JPEG is good enough.

Fujifilm X-T1 jpeg file of a darkly light London street scene

Kevin details how he sets his custom settings in his post. I found when I used his settings on my X100s I was losing all the detail in the blacks. As the XT1 has the same sensor as the Fuji X100s I decided to back off the shadow settings a little. These are the settings I used:

Black & white (using the B&W+R film simulation)
Highlights -1
Shadows +1 (KM: +2)
Sharpness +1 (KM: +2) – this change more to see the difference than any science.
Dynamic Range (Auto)
White Balance (Auto)
Noise Reduction -2

Fujifilm X-T1 jpeg file of a man drinking in the Milk Bar, London

Generally, I’m really happy with the look. It’s far more to my liking than JPEGs from my Nikon D700. The blacks in these shots aren’t as dark as on the test with the X100s. If I were going to use these elsewhere I’d like to increase the contrast a little, so it could be my metering that was at fault on the first test. Maybe I’ll give Kevin’s settings another go.

If you’re using the Fujifilm simulations I’d be interested in hearing the settings you’re using?

The World through my Holga : New York

view under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge from Roosevelt Island

I thought it was time for a little bit of colour around here. I’ve been sorting through some recent shots prior to an overhaul of the web site. In the process, I’ve come across a few Holga shots that I haven’t posted before. No matter how digital I get I still love the look of the world through the simple lens of my Holga.

The first three were shot in Manhattan and the last one was a farm we passed while we were lost somewhere in the Catskills in upstate New York. I remember this very fondly as one of my favourite parts of the trip.

You can see the full Holga gallery here.

The store front of Russo's café, Manhattan

Store front of a Beauty Bar in Manhattan, New York

A tumbled down red barn in New York state

Riding the San Francisco streetcar

A rough sleeper on the San Francisco streetcar.

This guy was in quite a bad way. He’d lost more than the skin off of one of his knees at some point and was wearing the sort of ground in dirt you don’t get in a few days – he’d been sleeping rough, as we euphemistically call sleeping on the cold, unforgiving ground, for some time.

Coming from London I suppose I’ve got used to seeing people sleeping rough on the streets, maybe I don’t always notice them. To a degree they’ve become part of the fabric of the city. I was far from prepared, however, for the sheer number of those inhabiting every public space in San Francisco.

Coming from London I suppose I’ve got used to seeing people sleeping rough on the streets, maybe I don’t always notice them.

Our friend here was in better health than many, he was drinking, yes, but he was lucid, he was aware of what was happening around him. So many seemed to occupy a world of their own. In some way with us and yet somewhere else at the same time. I’m sure drugs have a lot to do with it. But it seems far too easy to dismiss it as something they brought on themselves.

I had to remind myself I was on vacation in one of the wealthiest cities, in the wealthiest country in the world. This is California in the United States of America. The home of the dot com billionaire, California alone has the world’s eighth-largest economy.

Surely it can do more to help him and the hundreds like him.

Street Photography: Princess May boot fair

Part of an ongoing ‘Sunday Morning series’, shooting street photography at the Princess May boot fair. It saves me from hanging around aimlessly while my beautiful wife is looking at the clothes (again).

Street photography: A man & his daughter at the Princess May boot fair

I’ve struggled back and forth between colour and black & white. My eye defaults to b&W for street photography too easily, I’m aware of that, and this market is generally bursting with colour. But then that b&w looks so clean, classic and so beautiful. However that colour it does catch the eye… there’s red in there you know. You see how it goes. I tried to resist the dark side but in this instance I just couldn’t ….

Street photography: A man searching for bargins at the Princess May boot fair

Street photography: A group talking at the Princess May boot fair

Street photography: A woman in a headscarf at the Princess May boot fair

If you’re ever there on a Sunday morning I’m the guy with the camera and the ‘I need a coffee‘ look. Come over and say hi.

Event photography: Multi-story orchestra

Christopher Stark: conducting the Multi-story Orchestra in Peckham, London

The concept of an orchestra basing itself on the seventh floor of disused multi-story car park in Peckham, South London, is not one that immediately jumps to mind. But it works, really well. I had a great time shooting the Multi-Story Orchestra before their concert last Saturday and the concert itself was superb. The event is one of many, in the car park, organised by Bold Tendencies.

Viola solist with the Multi-story Orchestra in Peckham.

Being a disused car park the ceiling is low and the floors are open on all sides, so on a cold, windy, day it would have been pretty unpleasant. However, it was one of those warm clear days that can, sometimes, be a little hard to come by in London. I was lucky with the lighting, the ‘stage’ was lit well with a lot of small spotlights all around. So as the sun dropped the lighting worked really well picking the musicians and their sheet music out really nicely.

2nd violin with the Multi-story Orchestra in PeckhamThe multi-story orchestra are performing twice more this season, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, on the 12th & 13th September. I’d recommend it if you get the chance to get along.

Double-basse player with the Multi-story Orchestra