Over the past weekend I managed to abdicate most of my domestic responsibilities and get out with my cameras. Over the two days I shot bluebells on my Nikon cameras with a macro lens, sweeping views of the bluebell carpet with a wide angle lens and more intimate landscapes with a 300mm telephoto. Some informal portraits of the grandsons with a 105mm lens occupied the period between the bluebells and a walk along the canal with the X-Pro1 (“pick me up!”) and the 23mm prime lens.
Day two saw me shooting urban landscapes in challenging light (lack of) with a full frame Nikon, an extreme wide angle and mid-range (24-70) zoom lens. A momentary panic at the start of the shoot when after my third exposure the camera returned an “ERR” message which I could not immediately resolve but other than that a pleasant stroll even if we weren’t blessed with much light.
So, just a taster of two days shooting mainly with the Nikon D750 and D7100 but with the Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji X-T1 sneaking in the bag too. Final shot is of Dave’s drone capturing a birds eye view of Elland Bridge.
It may be getting a bit long in the tooth now, especially compared to more recent models, but there is something about the venerable X-Pro1 that screams “pick me up!” A bit like Alice in Wonderland finding a bottle labelled “drink me” whenever I see the X-Pro1 sat on the side I have the urge to pick it up and make photographs.
It happened half an hour ago; I walked down the stairs and spotted it on the blanket box that occupies part of the first floor landing. “Pick me up!” And I did. It is warm and sunny today with one of those bright blue skies irritatingly devoid of even a wisp of cloud, hardly a day for moody monochromes or sweeping landscapes, at least not in terms of how I like to record them. So a close up of the pear blossom it is.
The same thing happened last Thursday when Zac and I got in from school. This time it was on top of the display cabinet by the front door; it seems to move around the house with a will of its own. “Snap!” A simple little shot of Zac, still in school uniform, running around in the front garden before tea. It may not focus and track like more recent models but experience and anticipation help to bridge the gap.
I think it’s this versatility that is part of its appeal. From photographing the grand children to recording blossom in the garden it will turn its hand to most things and with the array of lenses Fuji have provided, some specifically made with the X-Pro1 in mind, it is well capable of turning out decent images time after time. The X-trans sensor and processor have been superseded and improved upon undoubtedly but this little camera still produces JPEGs with that certain, indefinable “something” to my mind.
It is also a lovely, tactile camera. I enjoy holding and using it, there is just something about the user experience that again I cannot define nor articulate fully. My Nikon D750 is undoubtedly technically superior and I enjoy using it but it does not have the same magic that the X-Pro1 manages to give. The Nikon with the Sigma 105mm macro lens would no doubt have produced a technically superior image of the pear blossom above but there is just something about firing the shutter of the X-Pro1 that the Nikon cannot equal.
It is almost the difference between a film SLR and a modern DSLR. When I take a photograph with the X-Pro1 it almost feels as though I’m using one of my old film cameras. Perhaps that is it – a digital camera that feels analogue in some voodoo-magic way?
Whatever the reasons, the £150 I spent buying this Fujifilm X-Pro1 body last year was one of the best photographic buys I have made since I bought my first “serious” camera in the mid 1970s. It was also one of my best bargains and whilst I have now two newer Fuji bodies in my kit bag I still reach for this one on a regular basis for the pure joy of using it.
An Oldie perhaps but very definitely a Goodie in my eyes.
OK, firstly, I have to say that I’m not a fan of the sobriquet “‘tog” to describe a photographer but you have to admit it does scan better than “photographing”. Behind this rather cheesy headline lies a serious thought though; I’ve lost the urge to get out at every opportunity with my camera. In fact since I returned from Skye in early November 2016 I’ve only taken half a dozen images and these only two days ago.
My photographic mojo has been well and truly missing for the best part of four months and it is only now, as I make the first tentative foray back into things that I can admit to myself the scale of this loss of photographic impetus. You see it wasn’t just the cameras themselves that I put down. I stopped reading about photography; I forsook my habitual hour on YouTube every evening. I still have many hundreds of untouched RAW image files on my hard drive from the week in Skye. Mister Adobe was taking my money every month and the computer was keeping the software up to date but I wasn’t at the party.
I’m sure that I’m not unique however. Enthusiast magazines will occasionally run an article on the topic and will even offer the “Ten Best Ways to Regain your Mojo” or similar. It has to be a generalisation of course as all of us are different and we respond to different stimuli. The only reason that I haven’t panicked at this situation however is because it has happened to me several times over the years and my mojo has always come back.
In the past my wallet has often come to the rescue. With a new toy to play with I was only too keen to get out and about and thus my photographic mojo was miraculously restored. My wife wondered if the lack of the creative urge was less about loss of mojo and more about justifying that new purchase. I couldn’t possibly comment. What I can say however is the loss of the creative urge is real, happens to most of us at some point of time and most importantly can be overcome.
This year however there would be no magic bullet from my ancient wallet as I have given up spending on equipment for 2017. It makes giving up chocolate at Lent look like a walk in the park let me tell you. What possessed me to announce this photographic moratorium at Christmas when we were discussing resolutions for 2017 I do not know. Perhaps it was partly because I had no interest in photography at the time. But I said it and try to be a man of my word. I’ve managed it so far (only another ten months to go).
There is little point me rehashing the “Ten Best Ways …” so I will cut to the chase and describe what led to those first tentative pictures last weekend. I decided to move all my kit from one room to another. Banal? Perhaps, but in doing so I rediscovered the pleasure of simply handling the cameras which in turn led to me slipping the Fuji X100T back into its habitual place in my coat pocket, a place from which it had been noticeably missing for around four months. I didn’t take any photographs but at least the possibility now existed.
Thus it was that three days later, on a Sunday, when I wandered down to the local supermarket, the Fuji was still sat, untouched, in my jacket pocket. Presenting myself at the supermarket at 9:28am I was annoyed to find it closed – Sunday trading laws! What to do? In the end my feet propelled me down to the River Calder and on to the newly rebuilt Elland Bridge. It was then that it happened, my hand unconsciously but tentatively dipped into my pocket and drew out the Fuji. A few moments longer and I had broken my duck – with a rather banal picture of a bare tree reflected in a meager puddle. Over the next half an hour I took a few more and found I was actively seeking compositions and not placidly reacting to my surroundings. It was 10:20 when I got back to the supermarket but I was happy. My mojo, whilst not restored, was returning!
I even took the “arty” picture at the top of the page from my home-office window when I got home after first checking the bus timetable (prior planning and execution!).
So there you have it. The next time that your photographic mojo disappears don’t reach for the credit card or any other of the “Top Ten” solutions but simply don your apron and start moving the furniture about and transporting your gear from one room to another!
…after over two weeks away from home I’ve now been back long enough to think I’ve never been away. However, I’ve not been back long enough to have made any impression on the folder of images awaiting processing! Here’s a selection of images from Swansea, East Lothian and Porlock Weir. Wales, Scotland and England.
I came home feeling it had been a reasonable trip but having started to work through some of the images over the last few days there’s a lot of “keepers” coming up so I have probably had a more productive time than I thought.
Anstruther sea wall – Fuji X-T10
Land Crab – Fuji X-T10
Swansea Marina – Fuji X-T10
The X-T10 was the most used camera in October, I used it for almost 70% of the images currently on my computer awaiting processing whilst the Fuji X100T accounted for around 25% of my output. The balance was the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Nikon D800E (the Nikon didn’t go on holiday with us though).