That title, as obscure as it might be, took me longer to decide upon than actually writing this post. Almost longer than the ride into Bristol, making some photographs and processing them. It concerns my own "preset", the type of photos I produce, then there's my mindset when I approach Street/Life Photography and finally the battle I've had trying to get Adobe Lightroom to function correctly which as all photographers know contains presets, which incidentally I never use. Now, a warning for anyone who isn't a photographer; This blogpost will most likely be extremely boring for you, please feel free to look at the photos before moving on! Additionally, for those that are photographers it may turn into some incomprehensible stream of consciousness.
I'm like an ageing rockstar. Okay, I seriously don't believe I'm famous or a rockstar although the ageing part has a ring of truth to it, but you know when you go to a gig or watch a band on TV and they insist on playing their crappy new songs when all you want to hear is the hits that they're know for. I'm known for pictures of my children, they get selected by curators, published online and all that, which is simultaneously gratifying and extremely humbling. Don't get me wrong, I love (and I don't ever use that word lightly) taking photos of them, it's a kind of preset, a project of epic proportions and it helps hugely if I'm ever shooting for clients. What I'd like to be recognised for is my Street/Life photography and for that you might read "the new crappy songs". What could be more boring than a photographer publishing endless photos of his kids? Here's some recent examples selected by the curators at Leica Fotografie International for their galleries before we move on ;-)
Back to Street/Life Photography which after all these years still seems out of my grasp. My opportunities over the school holidays have been limited, I've managed one trip on my own and that's fine. It's given me a lot of time to carefully consider my approach, which in theory should help. Readers of this blog will know that Bristol (20 miles from my home) has never been good to me photographically, it should prove to be a goldmine for Street/Life and yet a good shot always seems to evade me somehow. They'll also know that I'm a huge fan of Sam Abell and his doctrine of waiting for the moment. Find a scene or area and allow it to evolve, then make the photo. So, with that in mind I headed for Bristol and once I'd arrived totally ignored my thoughts of the last four weeks along with the advice from Sam Abell and wandered around aimlessly. I clicked all kinds of scenes, mostly ones I know don't work all that well, my preset failed, I took them regardless;
Apparently the camera never lies, sometimes the photographer can be economical with the truth and with editing or presets if we use them. We can give a slightly different impression of events than what is the reality, crop the photo, make it a bit more gritty, that kind of thing. A shot that might be telling a story;
It isn't though, the reality is another story altogether. The Police were happy as I snapped them and our guy on the wall was waiting to meet his friend ;
The opening photo where I used a preset is another example. Basically the RAW image on the left and using a Lightroom preset on the right. I think it alters the whole feel;
I'm not much for editing, the time involved is the main issue, however, I don't normally use presets because I want my own style. That said I became obsessed with presets during my recent problems with Adobe Lightroom. I have a Perpetual Free Licence for Lightroom which negates paying Adobe their recently introduced monthly charges, but my version has gradually stopped working, compatibility due to Apple OS upgrades possibly. Crashing every time the computer goes into Sleep mode is just a small part of its problematic behaviour. So I tried to upgrade it and to my surprise Lightroom Classic CC was installed. Good news, no more crashing or freezing. I was so relieved. Accept after a while the gradual realisation crept over me that most of the functions didn't work, even the presets which during the last 9 years or so of using Lightroom have been of no interest to me whatsoever, now I was hellbent on getting them to work. After hours of reading help sections and Adobe discussion forums I discovered the salient fact that it was a trial version and therefore would never work 100%, I gave up and sadly succumbed to the inevitable, I signed for the £10 per month option. This includes a version of Lightroom CC for Smartphones and Adobe Photoshop CC, both of which I will never use. Still, at least the Presets worked now and that was really important to me until they actually functioned correctly, now they do I'm afraid to say that they'll never get used again. Before I placed them back where they belong, which entails me completely ignoring them, I tried one on some of my Bristol shots, the same as was applied to the foam Pineapple photo above. It's called B & W Flat if anyone is remotely interested;
I quite like it, but it's not for me. I prefer to have my own way of creating Black & White images, it's more "real" and represents the way I see, not the vision of someone else. I'll possibly create my own preset, if only to give me a starting point (because I'll inevitably adjust it) and save time editing which is something I try to keep to an absolute minimum. I find it inconceivable that the so called "top" photographers sell presets and what's more people actually buy them. "Buy my presets, special offer only $100 during Easter/Mothers Day/Christmas/Thanksgiving....." I'm sure they sincerely thank you for giving. If they had their way every image would look the same and with that sickly orange hue that appears so popular. You know that part earlier where I said "this may turn into some incomprehensible stream of consciousness", I think it has and so, as our American friends say, "enough already!" Time to conclude.
I also mentioned ageing earlier and as such I needed a wee. I read recently that councils in England don't operate Public Conveniences as they used to, three or more per county at best. They can't afford to run them, cutbacks etc. I'll join the rest of the UK whenever anything not even remotely connected goes wrong and say "Bloody Brexit!". Adobe Lightroom not working, car won't start...."Bloody Brexit!". I headed for Bristol Councils main office for two things. Firstly I would ask to use their toilet and secondly I was fairly certain that there was a Banksy on a wall nearby to their office building. Bingo, I was allowed to use their facilities (that was a relief) and there was indeed a Banksy nearby. Ironically his graffiti had been graffitied, splashes of paint thrown by someone adorned parts of his art. Here's my B&W edit on the left and the LR preset on the right -
Let's wrap it up, firstly a couple of happy guys walking into the frame -
and finally the same scene again. This one uses the LR preset which I'm dead against and also has a person simply walking past, the whole passerby thing is so in contradiction to my current Street Photography preset.....Bloody Presets, er, Brexit, er...!
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M.
My sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read my blog.