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I have always been a huge fan of Michael Kenna’s photography. I think I have been inspired to do many of my black and white photographs in square mode because of him and his use of Hasselblad cameras. I have however never aspired to taking long exposures like him but his minimalist, beautifully visualized photographs have always made me wish I had his talent for seeing a scene.

My daughter recently gave me his book “Forms of Japan” for my birthday and it is an awesome volume. It is a coffee table format book designed by Yvonne Meyer-Lohr with 300 pages that are organized into chapters titled Sea, Land, Trees, Spirit and Sky. The reproduction of Kenna’s images are superb and although they obviously cannot emulate the luminosity and depth of the original silver gelatin prints they are nevertheless excellent. The full page photographs in the book are faced with haiku poems that complement the photographs perfectly. It is a book which will inspire and make me return to it time and time again.

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I’m really enjoying the electronic viewfinder in my Fuji cameras. Being able to adjust the image to approximate how you see the final version after processing is such a time-saver. My colour processing (albeit the smaller portion of my processing – I do far more monochrome images) has speeded up because I now have to do very little in Lightroom and Photoshop.I still use RAW but once imported into Lightroom I normally apply a camera calibration in the form of Classic Chrome. White and black points are checked and adjusted if necessary and then I export the image out to Photoshop CC for sharpening with NIK Sharpener.

The two images below are the same image but processed to a different final image. Both were taken in the ice-house at Calke Abbey. As its use implies, the structure is below the ground. There was light coming in from the window high in front of me and some soft light to my rear from the open door.

I always use manual mode and auto ISO on my cameras and so taking a picture with matrix metering will mean the camera will use the ISO it deems suitable for a correctly exposed picture with the shutter speed and F stop I have set on the camera. In my case this could be 6400 and it will use the ISO to try to raise the dark areas of the picture tonally to an 18% grey reflectance. This will result in a blown out window and very noisy shadows. So I used spot metering and took the exposure reading from part of the window and the wall. I then altered the aperture and shutter speed to get the ISO down to 1250. Back-button focussing means I can focus and then take my time over the exposure without worrying about holding the shutter button down to retain focus.

This enables me to obtain a RAW image which allowed me to process it as I saw fit. The first image below is a more tonally open image allowing some detail of the ice-house to come through. The second image is meant to be more mysterious and could perhaps even be an old prison cell.

Metering carefully with a visualization of how you want the final image to look will always produce more effective RAW files than shooting and hoping for the best.

 

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For once the sun is shining and its nice and warm. Time to catch those rays and get rid of the ubiquitous British pallor.  So, it’s the sunbed out in the garden. Hold on, I’ve forgot the cold drink. Back inside and then cold coke poured, its back into the garden.

The problem is Lily the cat has decided in my short absence that the sunbed looks nice and comfortable and she is going to make the most of it. Annoyed I approach her and and as usual she she takes no notice of my imposing presence, in fact she doesn’t even deign to open her eyes, So I go back inside to grab a camera. I’ll need proof for Mrs M of the sheer audacity of the undisputed boss of the family.

Camera in hand, I once again quietly approach Lily and once again she doesn’t open her eyes – but her claws extend. Of course she knows I’m there and she’s sending me a quiet yet firm message.

“Back off mate, this bed’s mine”.

I retreat to the garden chairs, once again strangely content in knowing my place in the Marshall household pecking order.

 

Taken with my Fujifilm X-E2 and 35, F2.0 lens.

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Well, I have tried the last weeks to use my right eye for photography (Eye, Eye!) but I have to give up on it. I thought for a couple of days it was going to be OK but I just couldn’t get used to it over-time. My right eye started to ache after a short while and whilst it was good to be able to keep both eyes open at times and to be able to reach all the buttons without smearing my glasses, it just wasn’t worth the hassle and pain. Using the camera in portrait mode with the right eye was almost virtually impossible, I just couldn’t get the camera viewfinder lined up with the correct part of my varifocals to get the scene in focus.

So, it’s back to the old left eye and smudged glasses.

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I am right-handed, but a lefty eye person who also wears glasses. By that I mean that when I use a camera I look through the viewfinder with my left eye. As a result I have always had trouble with my nose being squidged against the rear LCD as I use the viewfinder. The other and bigger downside is that using the buttons on the right-side of the camera is more difficult, as cameras have always been ergonomically designed for right-handed, right-eyed photographers. My face and glasses just get in the way when I need to use buttons on the right-hand back of the camera. There is also the smearing and smudging that the rear LCD receives from my face being flattened against it.

When I used Nikons there was still a problem with the buttons, particularly with moving the focus point around the screen with the D-pad. My face just kept getting in the way of my hand. However, the problem has now been compounded because I am using the much smaller Fuji’s. The rangefinder style X-E2 is a little better for button access with the left eye than the X-T1 but it is still difficult to get to those buttons and the D-Pad.

So, I have been trying to use my right-eye in the viewfinder. It is not easy. My glasses get in the way when I hold the camera up to my eye, and I have to arrive at a comfortable position to look through the viewfinder with my glasses. My face also takes on a weird squint as I try to close my left eye so I can use my right in the viewfinder – Mrs M helpfully calls it my constipation face. The upside is that I can easily reach all the buttons I need to, and I can also open both eyes to keep a view of the surroundings. I do find my right eye also starts to ache after a while with the left closed, but hey, “no pain, no gain, right?”

I’ll keep on practising with the right eye and I’ll give an update in a few weeks to let you know how I got on.

 

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