World Wide Photo Walk Newcastle

On the 13th October we held a photo walk as part of the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk (WWPW from now on).  It was not something I was aware of, but a friend of mine alerted me to its existence.  In other parts of the world it seems really popular, but over here it seems less so and there were no other walks in the North East.  It would have been a shame to have missed out so I decided to host one in Newcastle.  The idea is to organise a walk that lasts about 2 hours and takes place on the 13th October (at any time).  The leader designs a route and organises an end point for people to meet and have a drink.


We had a really good turn out and the weather stayed nice and sunny, unlike Franks Amsterdam walk. We met at the Strawberry just outside St James Park (can I call it that again?!). We headed along to the new business school where the architecture is really striking, before heading along through china town to Grey's monument.

Luckily for us there was a Market taking place at the monument which enabled some interesting images. I spoke to one of the stall holders who was selling some interesting candle powered toy boats.  He agreed to couple of portraits.

From the monument we headed down Grey Street before finishing at the Bridge Hotel.  It was a fun afternoon and it was great to meet so many new photographers.

Here is a selection of images from a few of the other walkers.

Image Eva Holstein 

Image Stephen Beecroft

Image Les Bessant

Thanks to everyone that took part for making it such an interesting and fun event.

A group of photographers on the streets always make an odd sight. Thanks to Stephen Beecroft for the above image.

Its not the size that matter, its what you do with it.

I can now announce that I am a fully fledged professional micro 4/3 user.  Thats right I have ditched my Full-frame Nikon system for a camera that is probably less than a quarter of the weight.  How did I get to this point, you ask? Let me explain.A couple of months ago I bought a Panasonic GX1. I bought it for use in my street and documentary photography, due to its size and focusing speed, it really lent itself to this type of photography.  I didn't buy it to use in a professional capacity, but as a tool take nice photos when I was out and about with the view to sell prints and just add to my street portfolio.  However I have since been blown away by its image quality and lowlight performance.

As you can see on the above image the quality at ISO 1600 is still excellent and noise and details in the shadows are handled very well indeed.

I was impressed and certainly thought that the micro 4/3 system had come on to a point where you could easily use this on a job and produce images with enough quality to satisfy most clients.  I was still sure my Nikon system was safe at this point, I had no intentions of doing away with it, even though I was actually using it less and less.

Then came my encounter with the Olympus OMD-EM5. This is Olympus' flag ship Micro 4/3 camera, and is the pinnacle of the entire system to date.  I was amazed at the size and build quality of the EM5.  It has a metal chassis and is weather sealed.  I took some images with the camera and was surprised at the level of detail in the files.  I was also quite amazed at how different the files were from the GX1 which uses the same 16mp sensor.

With the GX1 files I could quite easily see those taken with the panasonic and those taken with my Nikon, but the Olympus is completely different.  Even zooming 100% into the RAW file I could not instantly tell and this was a big moment for me.  I realised at this point, that i could quite happily swap my Nikon system for an Olympus one and not notice any real drop in quality.  People will point out that Nikon D3 will produce slightly better files at say ISO4000, but in all honestly those are negligible differences, especially when viewing on a screen or in a magazine. I very rarely pushed the ISO higher than 2000 on most occasions, so its not really an issue.

I am not saying that the Olympus has the Nikon beaten. In all honestly I would say that my Nikon system was better in terms of build quality and noise performance over ISO4000.  Tracking auto focus and frame rate too, is in the Nikons favour.  To complain about that is missing the point though.

When it comes to cameras I think some people are so concerned about what a camera can't do as apposed to what it can do. There are list of things that the Olympus struggles with compared to the Nikon, at the same time there are just situations when the D3 would have been overkill or just a plain hindrance. At the end of the day the camera is just a tool. A tool a photographer uses to express themselves and create images.  The Olympus does this as well as the D3 and it doesn't break my back.

I now have two of the things and even with my bag full of my whole kit, it still weighs less than the D3 and one lens.  This is a massive bonus for me as I spend most of my time walking around the streets or travelling with my camera.

Its still early doors in my journey with Micro 4/3 but so far I feel liberated.  When I had my Nikon gear I was constantly obsessed with the latest gizmo and the new zoom lens. Now I have all I need in one bag, I can be a photographer again.  My kit has limitations, but thats just part of the fun.  At the end of the day the images speak for themselves.





My Olympus kit consists of 2 OMD bodies, Olympus 12mm f2 Zuiko, Panasonic 25mm f1.4 Leica summilux and Olympus 45mm f1.8 Zuiko.  I will also be adding an Olympus 75mm f1.8 when it is finally available.

If you would like to ask about the Olympus system or about anything else please contact me through the contact page or at

Martine Franck 1938-2012

Sadly on the August 16th 2012, Martine Franck passed away at the age of 74.  She had been a member of Magnum photos for 32 years and was the second wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson.Martine Franck was a talented Documentary photographer and specialised in Documentary style portraits of Artists and Marginalised populations.  Although she was less well known than Cartier-Bresson her photography is no less engaging and I particularly like her series in Nepal.  She also visited the North East in the 70's and produced a series of interesting images.


Here is a video with Martine talking about her photography.


Siobhan at Penshaw Monument

Even with a studio it is nice to get out and do some location work, however this turned out to be much harder work than originally anticipated. We had decided a few weeks back to shoot at Penshaw Monument just outside of Newcastle. We put the idea to a local model, Siobhan who we had wanted to shoot with for a fair while, and she was up for it. Once up there though things did not really work in our favour as the gorgeous evening light which we were hoping to work with disappeared behind the biggest black cloud ever and the wind really picked up.Anyway we plodded away and came out of the experience with a couple of good shots. On location I tend to work with speedlights on non commercial jobs, mainly for portability and convenience. I use Nikon so my trusty friend here is a SB900 with a Lastolite softbox. The Monument had some nice lighting going on, in order to capture it and the remnants of the lasting light from the sky I needed to increase the ISO and drag the shutter on my D3 as much as possible. Some shutter speeds were down to 1/15th!

Thanks for reading and any comments and questions are welcome.