I have no voice

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This morning I woke up, looked at the news and something strange happened: I suddenly felt completely empty. If you’ve followed this blog long enough you probably know how I feel about the current situation in the US. I’ve been consumed by dismay and a deepening sense of horror ever since the very first MAGA rallies. But as terrifying as these were in 2015-2016, the case could be made at that point for Clinton fatigue, for resentment towards a broken system and a willingness to gamble on Trump almost as a form of nihilistic resistance. It made no sense to me, personally, but I could still understand the undercurrents fuelling this reaction. I don’t anymore. That is, not unless I accept a reality too hard to bear—that humanity is incurious and willing to accept demagogues if they feed their egos and dangle fake shiny baubles. That we are unkind. That we haven’t learned a single thing from history.

On the eve of a watershed election in which I have no voice, I should be up in arms, devouring polls, biting my fingernails. And yet, nothing. I’ve turned off the screens. I’m looking away—I’ve seen and heard enough, I guess.

I published a short essay entitled RUBICON on KAGE today. Images shot in Vancouver last week, words I wrote over the last couple of days, in anticipation of tomorrow’s vote.

Here’s to hope.

First moments with the X-T3

I mentioned getting an X-H1 a couple of times—how it made sense, ergonomically, with the GFX 50S, how IBIS would “improve” certain lenses...I still believe all of it. But I waited just long enough for the X-T3 to crash that equation and mess with my rationale: a new generation of sensor and CPU is hard to pass by, knowing the improvements it usually brings to the table.

So last Friday the saga ended and I now own a brand new silver X-T3. I won’t rehash all that’s already been written about the camera at this point—if you’re looking for an extensive review (that also happens to include great photography) I suggest checking out my friends Jonas and Kevin. Their work is hard to top, honestly. I will say this however: I kinda love this camera. I kinda love it way more than I thought I would.

Now If I’m being picky, I do find the exp comp dial to be a bit too stiff...which I believe is actually a response to so many people saying this dial was never stiff enough over the years; so I guess those folks will be happy with the change. I also could’ve used a bit more space for my finger when operating the metering dial that sits beneath shutter speed—but I’m already getting the hang of it. Every new body brings growing pains. Overall though, the X-T3 feels mature: the buttons, the latches, the doors and the entire body...it all feels exactly right. There’s no unwanted wiggle, there’s nothing that seems plasticky or flimsy. I’m still a huge X-Pro2 fan but honestly, this is a joy to hold. And the new tech is nothing to sneeze at either in terms of performance.

My friend Bert shot his with the classic 35mm f/1.4 when we were in Germany for Photokina and I decided to emulate him. That old lens will never be a speedster...but man does it get a boost from this new body. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s still one of the Great Magical Lenses, bar none.

The images below are my very first frames shot with this setup. All processed from pushed Acros settings (JPEG) in Capture One Pro 11.3. They were all slightly “warmed” in-camera with the new BW option (I used +1 which is the lowest red value available). I don’t necessarily intend on using this often but ...new toy and all.

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada.
Best wishes to everyone :)


Shot with the X-T3 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


A New Brush | GFX 50R 65:24

First off: what a privilege this has been over the past couple of months. When the GFX 50S was announced at Photokina in 2016, I never thought I’be one of the lucky few to test another medium format camera less than two years later. And yet, here we are.

I won’t be doing a technical review for several reasons: I was shooting a pre-production unit with beta firmware; my friends Kevin and Jonas will do a much better job than I ever could; I’m less and less interested in talking about specs. But I will say this: I’ve grown to love my GFX 50S, as I’ve previously written about. I’ve come to appreciate the insane attention to detail of its design, where every single button, port and door is exactly where it should be. Any new camera involves a period of adjustment, but my initial reaction to the GFX 50R was actually one of puzzlement; and for several days I found myself almost fighting against the camera. Some of this was due to bugs and not-yet-working features, but I eventually figured out the real problem: I was still shooting the GFX 50S. I was expecting a right-brain camera because in my mind, medium format was about work, first and foremost.

The GFX 50R isn’t about work. This is medium-format for poetry.
It’s not perfect—I probably would’ve done a few things differently, in terms of layout for instance. But we’re suddenly having a very different sort of philosophical conversation.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to finally be able to share some of these images. I’ve chosen to again share a series of visual stories/essays (as I’d done with a few other models), all shot with the pre-production camera I was provided with and various GF lenses.

I’m writing these words on the eve of leaving for Belgium, before we head to Photokina. Which means nothing has been announced yet and I have no links to share. It also means I’m about to give back the camera. All good things have to end. The shots below aren’t official product images btw: just quick, gratuitous visual gear porn for my own benefit. Figured some of you might enjoy them as well ;)

Huge thanks to everyone at Fujifilm for this incredible opportunity.


Shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f4 OIS R WR


Dignity & republics

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Labour Day
as summer exhales
its faint breath of wilting leaves
 & sorrow.
A final gasp
before the rush
of winds.

The kids went back to school this week, as they usually do. Life returned to its clockwork normalcy and we all settled once again into the grooves we know so well. But on Saturday I turned on the television, a little before 9:00 AM, grabbed a coffee and found a spot on the couch in our living room. I sat there for the better part of the morning, alone at times, answering questions from the girls at others—who is this daddy? What’s going on?. Jacob was playing video games. Cynthia joined me for a bit, then moved in and out.

I couldn’t budge.

I watched a nation remember its soul. I watched as the ghosts of honour, duty and dignity descended and stormed in through soft abandon, the halls echoing from voices possessed, pushing assembled men and women towards some semblance of recollection, of honesty. I watched and hoped for rebirth. How could anyone go back to business as usual after these solemn moments had passed? How could anyone justify inaction in the face of renewed cruelty and lies? Or stand-by as an abyss threatened to swallow the foundational core of their republic? I watched and hoped.

Then during a pause I loaded the cesspool that is Twitter: the vile coward hadn’t even stopped spewing hate as the rest of the world mourned. Not surprising of course. But still another drop of poison in the bloodstream.

I took these images to reconnect—with the things we‘ve lost and those we still have.
As summer exhaled.

Gilead

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I want to write about photography. I’m back from the UK where I had the opportunity to work with and meet so many outstanding photographers. Great folks too, period. My friend Kevin and his wife Gemma pulled off their very first conference without a hitch and everyone agrees it was a huge success. I was the wild card over there—the lone non-wedding shooter—but I was still welcome with open arms...to say nothing of the workshop and the wonderful guys and gals who attended and gave their all.

I drank too much beer, ate proper British Curry, real English Fish & Chips (mushy peas!); I filled my soul with new sights and new sounds. In Brighton I roamed the beach and walked the pier in blustering wind, with Neale and Kevin and Facundo—then on my own as the sun magically lifted the veil. I shot street for the first time in months, finding my path again, a rhythm almost forgotten.

I want to write about photography, share images...and I will. But not today.

...

Today I find myself transfixed and paralyzed. I watch the news unfolding like some bad dystopian script, tyrants tearing apart the tenets so many fought for. I see Gilead’s shadow forming in the mist, born of hate, a country eschewing its founding principles on the back of lies and disinformation spewed upon us all by an ignorant buffoon. The Man Who Would Be Dictator but is too stupid to even know what it means. The man who sees nothing but his own reflection, distorted into a thing of beauty despite the depths of his ugliness. And people following, blindly and adoringly. Sheep.

There is no shining city on the hill anymore—it’s been bombed into oblivion. I see death squads in the making and I want to scream at every single so-called legislator allowing it to unfold. For what? For whom? None of it makes sense.

Children, scared and weeping. When do we turn our backs to the monsters? When do we cut ties? Because that’s where we are at this point, as insane as it may seem. Two-hundred years destroyed in five-hundred days.

Nero, fiddling as we all burn.

To anyone offended by this rant I say fuck you. Go away. I say History will be the judge of your enabling words and actions, should we survive. Because I have no use for discussions anymore, no use for a simulacrum of understanding. Fuck you and slip into your abyss, go rant about deep states and your false sense of oppression. Go on dismissing facts and knowledge as coastal-elitist tricks and dive into your ignorance full-throttle. Wrap yourself in the flag, as indecently as the madman you follow, oblivious to the reality that any of the Founding Fathers would utterly destroy his amoral worldview, call him out as the genuine threat he poses to the republic. To all that is decent. To values they held so dear they enshrined them in a Constitution.

Children, used as bargaining chips.

I want to write about photography and I will.
But today I howl.