Don’t tell my cat that I am not going anywhere, she is so cute when she packs herself, this time she climbed into my backpack ready to go!
Not going anywhere, my camera back is sitting empty awaiting me to find the time to put it away, and my cat has taken to thinking that I should keep it out for her to use, whenever she wants a bed!
In case you are interested the camera bag is a ThinkTank Airport Traveller rolling case.I really like this bag, as every time I use it I am either doing something interesting or going somewhere interesting!
I’m excited to share with you all that was recently asked by Professional Photo Magazine if I would be interested in writing a review of my new Leica M11 camera from a users perspective. I was very happy to do this as I think the camera is a worthy addition to the Leica tradition of rangefinder cameras.
If you follow the link to the PDF you can read more of what I have to say about this camera.
Leica has done a great job on this camera in updating it while retaining its specialness which makes the rangefinder unique in the era of digital cameras.
You can access the website for Professional Photo here: https://professionalphoto.online
Or to put it slightly more impolitely what pisses you off?
What makes you angry about the world? Think about this and you will have a subject that could animate both you and your photography. When you are angry about something you learn about it and develop ideas about it.
For me, while not angry about it I have a real fascination in how capitalism functions, I have read about it from so many perspectives and still, I feel I need to know more about how it functions. Yes, I have read books by and on Marx, Smith and Keynes and many more, analysing how capital is created and its used, etc. I have however, come to the conclusion that our greed (both individually and collectively) and capitalism, may have become a dangerous combination for survivabilty of our species on planet earth. Why do our rich not want to change course? This is something that I for a long time I could not understand, but then again, I realise that we as a species do suffer from short termism and self interest.
But that is my interest, what is yours? This is where you can find the motivation get out and make your own work, as a photographer. Find what you are passionate about, I believe that you already know a lot about it and have strong opinions about the subject, go and do some more research and then work out is the subject something that lends itself to being photographed. If so then it is easier, if not, then look at how you can make it into something that is possible to make images of.
This is what it takes to find a subject to make work on you need to be passionate about what you do, the other side of this is.
What do you love?
What activities or subjects do you love, and again you will know a lot about them, because you are interested in them. These to aspects can lead you into being able to make work that you are passionate about, and from that it becomes possible to make work with the dedication, and determination that good projects and work takes to make.
So stop procrastinating and go and start the research on what you are going to do next. As a creative person finding what you hate and what you love could be the key to making work that really motivates you and leads you to make the work you have always wanted to make.
I was inspired to write this post by the article on The United Nations of Photography website. I have always done commercial and editorial photography and for the past few years have concentrated on my own photography and yet I had not really noticed the idea of commissioned photography and I like what Grant Scott has to say about this concept at the beginning of his article.
I never use the word ‘commercial’ to describe commissioned photography for a very simple reason. All photography is commercial, in my eyes, if a commercial transaction takes place, that includes the sale of a print, a book, or even an NFT! Therefore, commissioned is a more accurate description of the practice of being asked to make photographs in return for financial reward.Grant Scott
I like this idea. In my opinion it has always been hard to get commissioned to do photography, particularly the kind that you as a photographer want to be known for. Often there is a conflict between the photographers artistic vision and the requirements of the client. This I actually think is a issue that photographers don’t address as they are being commissioned to make the images that a client wants and if they are not doing that then they should not be seeking the commission in my opinion. The client is paying the bills and they are asking for something so the first priority is to deliver that, then if you have time and resources it is up to the photographer to go beyond the brief and give the client that extra special magic, this is what sets apart the jobbing photographers and the ones who are both creative and commercially successful.
This article by Grain Scott also lays out a few other points, one of them is the role of the picture editor and the ways clients want to get more for less, I have to say that in all my years as a photographer that has always been the case, as it has become easier to become a photographer it has also meant more people are available to be commissioned to do the work so the rates have been forced down. I will give you an example in the early 1990’s I would do a fashion editorial for major magazine brands and the would pay between £300-£400 for a days photo session, now in is the 2020’s and they still want to pay the same amount. You might consider that bad however, it is even worse than that, because they used to also pay for film and processing, which if done right could increase the photographer income by another £400 for the days photo session. Now we shoot on digital cameras and they don’t expect to pay for film and processing so that income generator has disappeared for photographers.
I do believe that there is a future for commissioned photography as AI will not be able to make all the images that clients want or need, and stock images will never be specific enough, for a client that wants to impress and stand out with distinctive imagery. So it is up to the photographer to enhance their style and skills to be able to make distinctive images that are non generic for the clients and make these images to budgets that they can work with.
So in future instead of editorial and commercial headings on my website or promotional material, I am going to definitely use the word Commissioned, I like that as a concept as it shows to others that someone else has taken a risk and ‘Commissioned” me to make work for them.
The portrait of Jennifer Ehle at the top of this post was made in the mid 1990’s for Empire magazine, In a Mens toilet in Primrose Hill London. I was very much into shooting Fuji Super 800ISO 35mm film, because I liked to work in low light and has some film grain to hide blemishes. This image was made before Photoshop took off and everyone wanted to be airbrushed to look even more glamorous. I was very good at getting the people I photographed to relax and look great.
For me, I would probably splash out on some exotic lens and a specialist Black and White camera.
I was recently doing a thought exercise on lens I would love to have for my Leica Camera system and I with only 5 lens getting to a cost of about £20,000, if I then add in the Monochrom M camera and it gets closer to £30,000
So what would I want to buy for that money?
The lens are not fast, in fact they are all F2 or F3.4 aperture lens. However according to a few reviews that I trust they are lens that get the best results from the sensors that are currently available.
Leica 21/f3.4 SUPER-ELMAR-M ASPH £ 2,470.00
Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH-M £ 3,515.00
Leica APO-Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH £ 6,700.00
Leica Apo-Summicron M 50mm f2 ASPH £ 6,365.00
Leica Apo-Summicron 90mm f2 ASPH-M £ 3,630.00
This is my dream list of lens for the type of photography that I do, and the question you might ask is would having any of these improve the images I make, and my answer would probably be maybe only a wee tiny bit, as I am currently only missing one of those focal lengths and for the three middle lens I have ‘cheaper’ earlier or slower versions of these focal lengths.
However, the one focal length lens that I tend to use the most, has been 35mm. So I guess if I could have one lens on my list and camera that would then be the Leica APO-Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH and my Leica M11.
I shoot people on the streets and in their everyday lives and for that I want lens that draw the world in a way that is not to extreme and as close to life as I see it. which is why I tend to use the lens that have been most popular for photographers who have traditionally used Lecia cameras in their work.
“Whatever you’re trying to look at with your camera, you want to be prepared for the possibility that the world offers something up to you that you couldn’t have foreseen — even (and especially) if what you encounter challenges you to the core. That, and I would argue: only that, is what defines an artist.”Jörg M. Colberg
Reading sometimes leads one to a thought and from that thought to an idea, this quote above is from a book review by Jörg M. Colberg writing about book by Ken Light called Course of the Empire.
And it reinforces the idea that I have always had that a photographer should go out into the world and photograph what they are looking at. The quality of their seeing is vital, if they want to make new work. I have been I admit, stuck for a long time now with a few personal circumstances, that have left me stuck indoors and unmotivated to go out and make new work. I have read a lot of about the Neo-liberal condition of current capitalism and it has I must admit rendered me demotivated. However it is thoughts like the quote at the start of this piece that do make me want to go and make images and not worry if they are art or not. Just the making of the image should be enough to get one motivated and out in the world again.
My featured image today is from a recent trip to Sri Lanka, while on my first ever Safari.
I got my website all sorted and it now updates and has been moved to a new server. I was thinking what to do with websites as I recently registered the domain name www.michaelwplant.com as it was both shorter to type and reflected the usernames for my social media profiles so that they all have the same easy to remember michaelwplant tags. Now that I have this site running smoothly I am going to be able to keep the past ten years worth of content running here a www.michaelwayneplant.com and use the new domain name as a redirect to this my original website. I might see if I can move all the content of this site to my new domain name at some point, so that I am not redirecting things but then that might just break all my old links, so I might not. As I would need to maintain this site as a separate site so as to not break all my internal links on the website.
And even better my web theme developer has released an update on my WordPress theme I am using and it sorted out the formatting issue I was having so I am really happy now with how the website is working.
Alas the conundrums of running a website and using social media, oh the joys of first world problems.
I have just got back from a very short trip to Sri Lanka, it was mostly a holiday and I got to try out some different types of photography than I normally do and use my new tool.
Recently, I upgraded my Leica and got the new M11 camera and as I was going on Safari, I looked at the cost of renting a 300mm lens and decided that I would get myself a second hand 300mm f4 lens, in fact I used to own one back in the days when I used to shoot film with a Nikon F4. I really like the copy of the lens I got from mpb.com and it only set me back £300.00 which is what it would have cost to rent the newest version for two weeks.
The Leica with its 60mega pixel sensor is going to require much tighter camera handling techniques and the the 300mm lens I need to practice with focusing longer lens. I am so glad that I got a new Monopod before I went and that made a huge difference as both the camera and lens do not have VR (Vibration Reduction) which I now think would be useful.
I have a new camera and the same week covid so I am Stuck inside isolating.
And looking out the window all I could see that was actively moving was a lone pigeon and as I have been experimenting with Black and White lately I thought this one worked.
Mind you it is a crop from a 60 mega pixel image, made using a 50mm lens made in the mid 1980’s, So yes I like my new Leica M11 Camera very much.
I have worked out how I want it set up and have been experimenting with it. DXO labs still has to update their PhotoLab Software to be able to do the raw conversions in the software that I want to use, so for now I am using Camera Raw in the latest version of Photoshop. the top image shows to me how little colour cast I am getting across the frame, this camera is going to become my regular companion as I get out into the world post Covid Infection.
Yes, it feels a little different to the M10 Nah not really, some of the buttons are in different places and the menu system has changed, the base plate no longer comes off and it doesn’t seem to have a chrome Hand grip I can buy, so I might have to sacrilegiously buy the black one for the bottom of a silver camera how utterly horrible! Lecia Sort that one out and while you are at it please get the new Viewfinder also in chrome to go with the chrome finish version of my new camera. I guess you gathered I got the chrome version, if I had asked for the Black version yes is is little lighter but after seeing a image of a weathered Q2 with aluminium I am so happy I opted for the Chrome with Brass hidden underneath. Now unless Lecia manage to do something really significant with the replacement to the M11 I can see this camera being my daily carry camera for the next 8 years. whereas I always thought that the 24mega pixel M10 really needed more pixels as I had been using Sony Mirrorless camera with higher megapixels for a long time.
So depending on how my next two Lateral Flow tests go in the next two days I might be out of isolation tomorrow night or stuck inside for a few more days.
I have an interesting day coming up soon as I won a prize more on that soon. All I am going to say is Zoom and you will be heading more of me soon!
Wishing you all the best for 2022.