photographer

Announcing the Photo Hub, Newcastle

A few months back, friend Chris Moody and I, decided to try and put together something that would serve the North East photographic community in various ways.

We were initially lured to the idea of a retail operation combined with a cafe and studio.  So we started running some ideas and more importantly, numbers, and came to the conclusion that this was not feasible or applicable in the current retail market and economic climate.  We threw hundreds of ideas around, but the main idea that stuck was that we wanted it to be a community based project, reacting and adapting to the needs of the local photographic community.

After many discussions and a lot of planning, the Photo Hub was born.  The idea of the Photo Hub was to be constantly moving and incorporating fresh ideas and trends at the drop of a hat.  The Hub was based on online social networking communities.  There are hundreds of photographers who communicate and chat on the various networking sites and the role of the Photo Hub is to bring them together physically.

The aim is to offer support, help, tuition and networking, in a friendly, professional and encouraging environment.  We aim to accommodate photographers who's experience level ranges from beginners all the way through to Professionals and bring them together to chat, have a drink and discuss the various aspects of photography.  Most of all we want the Photo Hub community to dictate and participate in the Hub's future direction.

It all kicked off last Sunday (4th Nov) with our very first event day.  Held at the Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle, we held an afternoon of talks and activities.  We were also joined by various suppliers who exhibited their goods and demonstrated the latest in photographic gear.  Big thanks to the guys from Lencarta, Direct Digital Imaging (bringing their Phase One cameras with them)  and Intro 2020 for joining us.  Also thanks to Chris Ireland at completecaptureone.com for supplying our raffle prizes.

Thanks to our guest speakers for some very informative workshops and seminars and for a showcase of some truly inspiring images. Shout out to Phil PuntonJohn PictonMontana Lowery and Mark Pinder.It was an excellent afternoon and the feedback we got from the audience was great.

As part of the Photo Hub we will be holding monthly meets (first one TBC) and every six months we will be holding bigger event like the one at the Star and Shadow.

It's all very exciting for everyone involved. If you would like more information on the Photo Hub, then please visit our facebook page.

Lastly, and most importantly, a big thank you to everyone that came and made the afternoon really enjoyable and worth while event.

 

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 darren@darrenobrien.co.uk

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.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcZofdSeioQ]

Steve McCurry

As I have mentioned a few times in previous blog post, I am a big fan of photojournalism and have taken a large part of my inspiration from it. A few weeks back I posted about one my all time favourite photographers Sebastiao Salgado, well here is another of my favourite photographers, Steve McCurry. What I admire about his work is the connection he has with his subject, especially in his portraits. He often builds relationships with his subjects, even if he is only with them for ten minutes, allowing him to capture people in a natural way. He gets invited into a moment of their life and when viewing the image we are also transplanted there.It's amazing stuff, but I have to admit that I have only recently began studying his work in more detail. I have always been aware of his famous work such as the "afghan girl" and the "smoking miner", but it's his consistency that is truly awe inspiring. Shot after shot is pure gold, obviously we don't get to see the bad frames in between, but if I could put together a collection that was half as good at the end of my career I would be happy.

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Thanks for reading!