Mexican Musician, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, Perth, 2022. Nikon Z6ii & Z50s 1.8 @ 1.8, ISO 100.
When I left you last, I’d just come back from a photographic journey to Singapore. We have two-weeks’ school holidays over Easter here in Australia, and as overseas travel has now commenced, I put my toe into the water, and went to a ‘safe’ destination. It’s only just over 5 hours flight from Perth, so it was a good starting point for me to return to overseas travel.
Timing - Street art, Perth CBD, 2022. Nikon Z6ii & Z50s 1.8 @ 3.2, ISO 800.
Last week was week 6 of the now 2nd school term - I have been very active photographically during those six weeks, since my return from Singapore. I covered a country festival here in Western Australia, pursued a few personal photographic projects, and I was the official photographer for our Western Australia Day Festival and celebrations here in Fremantle, Perth. This day is a big deal in Western Australia, and it is recognised with a public holiday. The weather was lovely, and people came out in droves to celebrate this public occasion. I just got back from shooting that yesterday, and was ready to start teaching today – but I’ve been struck down with COVID. I now must isolate for 7 days, before I can poke my nose back out of the house.
Noongar (Indigenous) Dancers, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, Perth, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 3.2, ISO 320.
This is a wonderful opportunity to process the hundreds of photos from the WA Day and write some reflections on here for my latest blog. So not all COVID stories are sad ones! The last six weeks were frenetic, photographically speaking, so it will be nice to reflect on those times and share with you. Noongar Performer, Perth CBD, 2022. Nikon Z6ii & Z50s 1.8 @ 1.8, ISO 100.
Firstly, I want to say what a blessing photography is. I have met and know so many wonderful people, that I would never have known, if it were not for the two little black boxes in my hands. Photography is an international ‘language’ and can open up so many doors. It is just such a wonderful way to network. Once you have started meeting some people, they put you into contact with others, or they see your work on Instagram and make contact for a shoot or hook-up. From my wonderful lady friends who do the hoop dancing and fairy wings, to my mate Floki, who gives haircuts to the homeless on Perth streets, to Nella the promoter who hires me for various shoots, my gang of sheep shearers way down country, or the street ‘graff’ dudes who creep around dark mid-city alleyways posting up their art – none of these people I would have met, if it were not for my photography.
Samba Dancer, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, Perth, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 320.
I only moved to Perth exactly a year ago, from a very isolated gold-mining town in the desert of Western Australia. I have made these contacts and met all these wonderful people in the last 12 months. Not only are they excited to have copies of their photos, but I have full rights to use those photos however I wish. I never have to pay for any models or fork out any money for setups. I always just shoot people going about whatever they do best. I have their full permission to follow them around and photograph them. They all know me and are quite relaxed with my cameras being poked into their faces. As you know – I’m bit of a Bruce Gilden and really love getting in close for those action shots.
The Legs, Samba Dancers, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, Perth, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 640.
As mentioned in my prior blogs, I still shoot the same ‘kit’ and probably will for a very long time. My two-camera system suits me perfectly and now that I’m getting more used to the Nikon (my last acquisition), I am getting more hits and missing less photos now. I also find the combination of lenses that I shoot still perfect. I mentioned before that I only shoot those two lenses or focal lengths now – I own nothing longer than the 50mm that is on my Nikon. From my photos on here, you can see how I implement the two focal lengths to my advantage. The 24mm equivalent on the X-T3 for all my wide-angle stuff, or when I’m getting in close to people’s faces, and the standard 50mm 1.8 for other images where I’m back a bit further and want to fill the frame with a person or telling a story where the background doesn’t need to be included. Years ago (during film days), when I supplemented my income whilst studying at Uni, by shooting ‘stock’, most of the images I sold and had published all over the country, were shot on my Nikon F4s, and the little 24mm AFD 2.8. I had lots of other lenses and cameras back then, but nearly all of my shots that were published and sold extremely well, were all shot on that 24mm wide angle view.
Having Fun, Samba Dancers, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, Perth, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 160.
Fast forward over two decades to now, and nothing has changed. Looking at all of my keepers from the last six weeks, since returning from Singapore - over two-thirds of them have been shot on the X-T3, with that 16mm 1.4 lens (24mm equivalent). I just see everything with my eye at that focal length, and each time I get home after a shoot, I usually have over three times as many RAF images to process as I do the NEF files. I love the look of the Nikon FF images and they pop off the screen a bit more than my Fuji images, but nothing can prise that T3/16mm combo out of my hand.
The Boss - 'SUSPECT EMCEE' Street 'Graff' Artist, Perth CBD, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 320
Whilst on gear, I nearly died at all the fuss over Fuji’s new X-H camera. I had two of the earlier bodies and did write some nice things about them on my blogs at the time. However, they proved very disappointing in the AFC department, and were basically useless for me shooting my fast-moving events. The focus was actually not a tad faster or better than my two X-T2s. That’s how I ended up with two X-T3s and then sold one off at the end of last year to try the FF in Nikon.
My contact Dude, 'mrmen_kutnrun', Street 'Graff' Artist, Perth CBD, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 320
Anyway – the price of the X-H2s was released here in Australia last week and luckily, I think I have a strong heart – if not I would have had a coronary episode. Body only 4,200 Australian Dollars (no, that is not a typo). To give it some context, when the X-H1 was released here in 2018, it was $2,500 body only. Even the very expensive full-frame Z6ii is only just over 3K here for body only. Who on earth is going to pay that much for an APSC, video-centric camera with the deal breaker, horrible, flip-out screen? We are very lucky now that all of our recent gear is basically ‘future proof’, so my current Nikon and Fuji body, will be lasting me for a very long time. I have two gorgeous, fast, razor sharp primes on each body and that is a kit that does not need replacing.
'mrmen_kutnrun' doing what he does best, Street 'Graff' Artist, Perth CBD, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ F2, ISO 320
That’s enough on gear for now! Some of the shoots I go on are very exciting, and there are times when I take a bit of a walk on the ‘dark side’. I met up with my street ‘graff ’contacts on the weekend to photograph them putting up their street art around the mid-city alleyways of Perth CBD. They kind of skate closely to the legal side of things, but because they are not full graffiti artists (spray-painting public walls), they sort of get by with a stroke of good luck. My main man who goes by the handle of ‘mrmen_kutnrun’, prepares his art at home, in the form of framed originals. The ones that are not framed, are put onto special paper that has adhesive backing. Once he gets to the city, he pulls off the adhesive backing, and sticks it on the wall, pipe, or whatever he has in mind. The framed ones get a quick squirt of ‘liquid nails’ and are then pressed against the alleyway wall. He said the only part that may have him falling out with the powers to be, is he pulls out a spray can and gives a quick squirt on the corner of his framed work – that apparently is his ‘signature’.
'mrmen_kutnrun' doing what he does best, Street 'Graff' Artist, Perth CBD, 2022. Fuji X-T3 & 16mm 1.4 @ 1.6, ISO 320
His art is beautiful - so I managed to salvage two of his originals, and I have them at home. I’ve taken a photo of them, so you can see what I’m talking about. We only got yelled at by one security guard and had to make a hasty exit. I’m a very law-abiding citizen who must set a good example to my students whom I teach, however, I justify my presence as being the ‘recorder’ of events, not the ‘doer’ - akin to a war photographer, you are not adding to the carnage or taking part in it – just recording for posterity what is happening around you! My contact ‘mrmen’ is very excited to get me out on another shoot as soon as I’m ready. I am sure he has a small army of just as enthusiastic volunteers, chaffing at the bit, to be photographed whilst pursuing their ‘hobby’ - Ooh booy, I can’t wait!
Here are a couple of pieces of mrmen_kutnrun's art that I managed to save from their fate on the alleyway' wall. Nikon Z6ii & Z50s 1.8 @ 4.4, ISO 100.
In closing - let me know what gear/style or genres that you guys/gals shoot with. This is not a one-way street – I’d love to hear from some of you in the comments. You may disagree with my setup, and (like I did for years), prefer a zoom lens that can cover more focal lengths, and do it all with only one camera body. Are some of you, like me, happy enough with crop-sensor, or are some of you (like I did), busting to try FF? If you run a twin-system like me, let me know how you see the differences in the final image, between APSC and FF? Anybody loves to shoot film and find digital all to ‘spray and pray’, and would rather take the time with fewer images, but with a much more thoughtful process? I’d love to hear your thoughts – I’m sure I’d learn something valuable too. Till next time – take care!
Samba Dancers, Western Australia Day Celebrations, Fremantle, Perth, 2022. Nikon Z6ii & Z50s 1.8 @ 1.8, ISO 100.