Instruments of intuition and spontaneity 
Greetings from behind a lens...
I’m tingling with the excitement that comes from acquiring a new camera.
I sold some of my old camera gear and got myself the FujiFilm X-Pro3. My first X-Pro. Ten years since I decided I needed the X-Pro1 and six years after David Hurn showed me one of the two X-Pro1’s he used.
Yes I know that I can shoot perfectly good images on my phone. In fact there are times when I prefer to. The advances in Machine Learning-Aided Computational Photography really make up for the small sensors and limited lenses. One tap of the screen and the scene is recognised, auto focused and pixels sharpened, highlights and shadows balanced. Everyone can feel like a competent photographer. Casual snaps or a considered capturing of a moment, there is little that can go wrong.
But for the way I like to enjoy photography, a dedicated digital camera has many benefits. There is a sliding scale of how much work you can let the camera do and it’s much easier to take control of the process. Outside of the higher resolutions, larger sensors, huge range of lenses and physical fingertip control, there’s a personal workflow. You have to work for the image. And when it pays off the reward is far greater.
I delight in the act of purposefully heading out with a camera with the intent to capture moments. Out and about if I’m caught taking a candid photo in the street the subject on seeing a dedicated camera will often smile. This moment can be different if you are taking a sneaky photo with your phone. You could be anyone with a phone. But with a camera you could be a photographer. Or a tourist I suppose. Either way, perception is everything. I’ll share some of my first snaps in The Pictures section below.
In other news Premiere Inn finally got back to me. Two months after this Tweet…
To be honest my curiosity around air quality has had me logging stats from all kinds of places. I hadn’t really expected them to get back to me. But to their credit they were on it and “…had to contact the necessary teams to get this investigated.”
After said investigation they told me… “We can confirm that our bedrooms comply with building regulations at the time of build.”
Which is interesting phrasing. I wonder, what with science marching on, if the regulations have changed since the build.
I shall continue to measure the air quality of the places I stay in. Not just because I sleep much better when there aren’t dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the room, but because on this occasion, as this was a health and safety issue, Premiere Inn refunded the full £106 the room cost.
Now who’s weird for carrying this little device in his luggage.
I’ve needed to pop out a few times this week. When I have, I took the X-Pro3.
You might have seen these photos on Twitter. I snapped them while on a dog walk. Some of the following photos were taken in Rugby Town. The guy in orange on the right clocked me but just laughed. And after a few shots of the lady reading, she also spotted me and smiled.
Perhaps people would feel a little different if I was touting a long lensed DSLR. I know they would if I were using a phone. There have been a few occasions where i’ve wanted to snap a street scene and someone has asked me "Where is the photo is going?” I’m much happier when someone just lets me get on with it. I don’t aim to misrepresent any of these people and while it’s still legal to take photographs in a public space, I will of course respect people with an expectation of privacy.
The camera is quiet, relatively compact and I’m still very much getting to grips with it’s functions. Many of these photos were taken with a manually focused lens.
It’s a bit hit and miss but that’s part of the fun. The guy in the photo bottom right is called Steve. We had a lovely chat about some of the characters that used to live in Rugby. He was happy to pose for a few shots. Especially when I said they might be shared. After talking about old friends now gone he said he’d be happy to be remembered by someone.
A couple of days ago I picked up an auto focus lens from my friend Gordon. It makes quick grabs much easier. Left below, the photo of a devil tattoo whispering into an ear was taken on manual while walking. But the middle shot of the midge or mozi really showed me how good auto focus has got. I’d struggle to get a bug in flight fully in focus on a phone, but this just snapped right in. Even in low light.
Also unless you take the time to use an app that gives you full control over the phone camera it might be hard to take a selfie with subtle selective lighting. There is a lot to learn from this camera and I’ll be sure to share the occasional experiments here.
With film cameras once again rolling off the production line and some classic lenses demanding far more second hand than their original price, it looks like the hobby has had a new lease of life. I’d be interested to hear how you might be sharing images and if you still cling to a dedicated camera. Or perhaps you sold all your gear and now rely solely on a phone. Comments on the Substack page are open to all.
It appears that machine learning can‘t really write. To acquire a language is to go from sentences to meaning and from intents to sentences. Children manage to acquire language in this sense but no existing machine does. It looks like there is still some future for writers.
Writing has been happening this half-term holiday. Just slowly. To inspire me I have been dipping back into the 10 minute writers workshop podcast.
Ok. I’m going to talk more about my new (although it’s been out a while) camera. The Fujifilm X-Pro3. Here are a few reasons why I bought it:
It’s a professional camera and built that way. Strong and light with titanium top and bottom plates. It’s also compact and fits in a large pocket.
It can be charged via USB-C and has two SD card slots so you can back up images as you shoot.
I love the hybrid viewfinder (both optical and digital) and being right eye dominant I can look at the shot I’m composing and still see the world around me. (Much like you can with a phone.)
The in camera film simulations are not a gimmick. Right off the camera they will give me a look I might otherwise try to get in post production.
I spend a chunk of my time looking at screens. It’s nice to not have to when out taking photos, as the rear camera screen is hidden away behind a flap.
Although using this camera gives me a a break from the phone screen, I can also quickly share from camera to phone should I want to. The Fujifilm app is not going to win any design awards, but it works.
All in all this camera nurtures and rekindles my love for photography. It adjusts my pace allowing me to focus on the fun bits of capturing moments and telling stories. I haven’t even begun to dig into what it can do, the custom settings and the 4k filming etc. And I don’t have to.
Photography doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s about exercising curiosity and being present. Then all you have to do is stand in the right place and press the button at the right time.
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Been downloading a few free to use fonts from Fontesk.com. It’s worth a look if you fancy experimenting.
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An exhibition of winning and commended entries for Landscape photographer of the year will premiere on 31 October 2022 at Paddington Station.
The museum of failure is a collection of failed products and services.
As a new supporting subscriber you might like to improve your own photography. Check out this five part mini series I made called Better Mobile Photography.
Next week, outside of a few little excursions, I hope to be back into the work routine.
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept” ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson
See you out there.