1EYE, ROAMING: Introducing BOOKS II & III

1EYE, ROAMING was never meant to become a series. Released in 2013, the book was a return to the very first images I had shot with a Fujifilm X-series camera—the original X100—during a trip through France. It represented a sea change and a new, simpler way of seeing for me: one camera, one lens...one focal length.

But it also became a method of traveling and shooting from which I’ve never wavered. So when I began to imagine a framework for new books, it eventually dawned on me that I had one already: 1EYE, ROAMING had set the stage. Different cities, different eye—same concept and approach.

Today I’m introducing Books II and III: Venice & Rome and In Tokyo. Both have been in the works for quite some time, enough that I could’ve staggered their release. But at this point—despite the geographic distances—they felt complementary to me.

With Book II we find ourselves in Italy during the fall of 2014, exploring the streets of two famous cities with an X100S. In Book III we’re in Japan, during my six-day visit to Tokyo in January 2016—this time with an X-Pro2 and the XF 35mm f/2 lens, switching from a 35mm to a 50mm POV.

The tone of these new chapters is slightly different, less verbose, less of a diary than Book I. But they follow in the footsteps of the original by also including brief “technical” addendums—a look at processing and an essay in Book II; annotated contact sheets in Book III.

Both eBooks can be purchased individually but I’ve also created a double-pack—which adds a bit of a discount. You can learn more about the new books in the Publications section. It feels good to finally release these...like turning a page. I do hope you’ll find something worthwhile, should you decide to add them to your collection.

No holiday wishes yet...I should be back one last time before the week is over :)


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Introducing: The Process

PROCESS: a sustained phenomenon or one marked by gradual changes through a series of states;

For quite a few years now, I've tried to strike a balance on this blog between technical, personal and visual. It's not always easy—at times I veer too much towards one or the other, depending on how I feel, what I'm going through, shooting at the time etc. But to be honest I've often rebelled, internally, against the how-to side of it. Why? Well, for one I get tired of purely technical pursuits. I get tired of how without why. I'm also afraid of repeating what's already been said by photographers I respect, and to whom I have nothing, zero, nada to add—David Hobby, Joe McNally, Zack Arias...seriously, all the bases have been superbly covered already. If I'm to contribute anything serious, it would need to at least provide a different angle.

I've been promising a book on post-processing for what seems like ages. Questions about this subject come up over and over again, either through comments or via email and I'm always happy to help when I can spare the time. I totally understand the interest around this topic and consider it an integral and very serious part of the photographic workflow. But I've pushed back writing about this due, mostly, to lack of enthusiasm. My own enthusiasm that is. Again, it comes down to finding the proper approach. Last year I finally decided to start working on it... and instead found myself derailed, diving head first into what became These Kings. These Subterraneans—hell of a different ride. I've known—deep down—that a few people were probably disappointed when I released that project, expecting something else entirely.

But as some of you know (thank you btw) TKTS became more than a photo book: music's part of it, and some of the texts are essentially philosophical ramblings on the art of photography, experiences... So I had an "epiphany" regarding the next project: forget processing. Instead, why not talk about the entire process? Philosophy, mechanics, subject, narrative, clarity sliders and focal lengths. All of it. Yes, post-processing as well but as part of something much, much larger that would tie it all together. That got me excited. And given the breadth of the topic, a book didn't really make much sense anymore either—I wanted something open-ended and revisable, something I could add to and modify as a sort of living entity. Like...oh I don't know...a website? Hmm...

Long story short: no more waiting. Today I'm launching The Process, an ongoing series that I'll be publishing through this very blog, dealing with everything mentioned above. Because photography isn't just pixels— it’s an art form, a craft, a science. It's a method of experiencing what surrounds us, making sense of it in a way that also happens to prolong its consciousness. It's a pursuit that has to be about emotion just as much as sharpness. It needs the how while also begging for the why in order to avoid becoming an empty shell. 

The work-in-progress nature of this project means its organization will likely always be in a state of flux. For now, the index is divided between Techniques and Thoughts—rudimentary "chapters" that I've populated with a few relevant posts written over the years. You’ll also find the first article written specifically for The Process: A Film Curve. And to be clear: the new index is there simply as an additional way to browse and gather articles in one place. As you can already see, all articles will still be part of the regular content. This wasn’t obvious at first. I could’ve segregated the entire series to a separate blog—in fact I almost did that—but in the end, keeping these posts together with the rest of the site felt like a logical extension of the core concept: that all of it is one and the same, that everything feeds everything else. 

That The Process is ongoing, holistic and universal. 

The Temporary Collective | Brussels 2016

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I haven’t talked about it much but I’m leaving for Belgium and Germany on September 17th. I’ll be driving down to Photokina for the first few days of the event, then back to my buddy Bert Stephani’s place until the 28th. No speaking engagements this year but I'm shooting an essay for the December issue of Photo Life magazine and I'm very much looking forward to catching up with a whole lot of comrades.

While I'm in Europe, Bert and I will also be hosting the first official KAGE workshop: The Temporary Collective—a full-day event focusing on visual storytelling, to be held in Brussels on September 26th. We'll be discussing subject, methodology, engagement and storyboarding, with each participant expected to produce an essay that will appear in an upcoming issue of KAGE. We're keeping the group small (6 seats max) to provide a more hands-on and personalized experience. Limited X-series gear will be available to test as well.

It's on a Monday. I know...scheduling issues forced us to choose that date. But if you're interested and available we're running an early bird special until September 9th and we'd love to see you. All you need is a camera, some sort of image editing device for the processing/editing portion of the workshop and a good pair of shoes. More info here.

Btw: Fujifilm has now released its full Photokina schedule and it's jam-packed with great speakers. I'll be checking a bunch of these out while I'm there so if you're around be sure to come and say hello.

Disturbances

These are tests for a project I have in mind that may or may not come to life. We’ll see. In each case I’m using some sort of element to disrupt the frame and create a form of distance. I thought it might be interesting to post, so here goes. Breakdown below each image/set. All shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R...I'm back to this one like crazy these days. 

Reflections from a pink glass table. Both images shot at our local ice cream parlour. Obviously reversed since I was sitting across from the kids.

Using my iPhone as a reflective surface. The phone is below the lens and acts as a mirror.

Eyeglasses. Classic trick. Just shooting through those damn glasses I hate so much. Last two images below: in-camera double exposures.  

Reliable, Bubbles and more...


Tomorrow marks the end of the line for our parent's house, after months of methodically sifting through our history, making phone calls, scheduling appointments and meetings, paperwork...when I leave for my next shoot Wednesday morning, most of it will finally be behind us—apart from boxes of pictures and souvenirs that have now migrated to our place. At the best of times it's a rather chaotic space but right now...it's pretty much on the brink of becoming a catastrophe. Transference: "the process whereby emotions are passed on or displaced from one person to another". Yeah, that..except for a house. The kids have already gone through some of the old albums: you were cute daddy! the girls told me this week. And of course Jacob pointed out that I had freckles!!...yup, I did indeed have freckles. Fewer gray hairs too ;)

School also ends this week and we'll be leaving for Charlevoix on Friday—a month earlier than usual. So consider this post a way for me to both catch up and get ahead of the wave.

MEDIUM AND THE RELIABLE WAY

Sometimes life has a way of making seemingly random pieces click together. Earlier this year Guy Langevin—Photo Life's editor—proposed I write an article on documercial photography; essentially the ongoing trend of using a documentary approach in a commercial context. It should appear in an upcoming issue. I had already experimented with a mild version of the documercial concept for Lexus Canada last summer, but for the past few months I've been working on a project that I consider the very definition of this type of work: The Reliable Way. It's a series of essays to be published on Medium, an inside look at a family-owned business that's been around since the 1950s. What's exciting about it is how much freedom and access the company is giving me, how intimate they're allowing the series to become. I'm documenting this as honestly as I would any other subject which is—in my opinion—the way to go. 

There are two installements already online through the project's dedicated publication. Medium is a brand new platform for me so if you happen to be active over there let me know and we'll connect.

BUBBLES, WORDS AND MASTERMINDS

This is where I'd usually write something personal about the following series of images—the mood, probably what was going through my mind while I was shooting. Instead I thought I'd go behind the scenes on this one, mainly because I think it's a good example of gear feeding inspiration. All of these were shot with the X-Pro2 and the XF 90mm f/2, a lens I've had for about a month now. They were also shot in JPEG using the Acros film simulation I've mentioned mmm...once or twice before.

I love Acros, obviously. But truth be told I don't necessarily commit to black and white files all that often: I need to feel it's adding to the process. When I do however, I usually go all in without the raw safety net as a fallback solution; the danger and irreversibility are part of the appeal, as illogical as this may seem. Knowing I can't go back keeps me on my toes and heightens my sense of awareness, altering the dynamics of the shoot. I very much believe it's all connected.

We'd been working on the pool, trying to bring it out of swamp state on the one day available for our home—which has been incredibly neglected due to circumstances. I had already picked up my camera when the kids brought out the bubbles but this being June, the light was still fairly harsh, even late in the afternoon. So instead of fighting it, I decided to actually use all of this contrast and switched to my pushed Acros preset: +3 shadows, +1 highlights. When I looked through the EVF, everything around me felt like a lush, black and white magazine spread. And that 90mm? Seriously, I'm becoming addicted.

I talk about the lens—and the telephoto effect—in this month's Fujilove issue (June) but it bears repeating: this is one of the nicest Fujinon lenses in an already stellar lineup. I already knew I loved the 135mm focal length but I'm still surprised at how comfortable I am with it on very diverse subjects.

I used the 8 fps burst mode option quite a bit on the "bubble episode", something I don't do very often but made absolute sense here, in spite of a small technical detail I always forget to mention [1].

Would colour have worked? Absolutely. But black and white felt right. Pushing contrast felt right. The 90mm felt right. More importantly, combined they added the right amount of excitement at the end of a long day. Sometimes that's way more important than perfect data.

INTERVIEW

Ian Mcdonald is a great guy whose blog has been taking off lately, and for good reason: it's a very nice mix of technical reviews, photography and insight. Awhile ago he sent me a set of questions for an ongoing interview series he's been publishing on his website. I always feel a little strange when I give interviews: it can feel very...self-centred. To which most of you are probably inclined to respond Well, duh. I know. But when done right they can allow you to reflect—publicly—in ways you may not usually do. They can push you a little further. When I received Ian's questions it was immediately clear this wasn't a cookie-cutter template, that he had thought about some of these questions very specifically, on a personal level. It's the sort of effort that makes you want to give back and I hope I did.

The interview is available here if you're interested. Many thanks to Ian for this opportunity. 

THE EVENING STANDARD

Last but not least: the June release of KAGE is online. This month Charlene Winfred was our acting editor and we went with technical requirements instead of a global subject line: a 50mm POV (35mm APS-C) at night. Or nightish. Hence our oh so clever title (standard...as in standard lens...and evening...see what we did there?). Several stories from everyone again, our images of the month and Bert continues sharing his very personal Photographic Mid-Life Crisis—thoughts we can all, frighteningly, relate to at some point or another.

That's it for now. See you all soon.

 

[1]:   Burst mode works very well and does the job but: I wish it wasn't an all or nothing affair. My Nikon days are way behind me but I remember being able to leave it on burst mode while still being able to take a single shot, based on how long I'd keep the shutter depressed. I'm sure a similar delay could be inroduced to this function without impacting its usefulness.