Tag: Mono

Thoresby. The end of an era

By Chris Upton

personThe 10th July 2015 was a landmark date in the history of Nottinghamshire. When the last shift at Thoresby Colliery finished on that day not only did it mark the end of 90 years of mining in the village of Edwinstowe but it signals the end of mining in Nottinghamshire.

The pit opened in 1925 and over the years has employed tens of thousands of local people. It was one of 46 coalmines in Nottinghamshire, which supplied more than 14 million tonnes of coal per year at their peak in the early 1960s.

The first two shafts were sunk to 690m in 1925 and subsequently deepened in the 1950s to the current pit bottom at around 900m depth.

Thoresby Colliery was the first to have fully mechanised coal production and also the first to achieve an annual saleable output of more than a million tons, it became a star performer in the British coal mining industry.

In the late 1980s it raised output to exceed 2 million tons, regularly smashing it’s production records, and the colliery became known as the Jewel in the crown of Nottinghamshire mines. A crown sits proudly on the headstocks in recognition of this achievement.

When the coal industry was nationalised in 1947 it employed a million men at 1,503 pits; prior to the miners’ strike in 1984, there were 180,000 miners at 170 pits. Today there are just two deep mines left, employing about 5,000 men, at Thoresby and Kellingley in Yorkshire. Kellingley will suffer the same fate as Thoresby and closes in the autumn.

UK Coal say market pressures have led to the closure of Thoresby Colliery. Coal generates more than a third of Britain’s electricity, but it is cheaper to import coal from countries such as Russia, South Africa and Colombia than to mine it in the UK.

For the past few months I have been recording the colliery, it’s buildings, plant and people for posterity. It was my aim to create a comprehensive record of the pit at a specific point in time immediately prior to its closure.

It was a chance conversation after giving a camera club lecture that started the ball rolling. A chap in the audience worked at Thoresby and was unfortunately in the first wave of redundancies. He asked if I would be interested in visiting the colliery to take a few pictures. It was a fantastic opportunity and I jumped at the chance. He put me in touch with the Health and Safety manager, I explained what I would like to do and we were off and running. It was at this point, after I had gained their agreement to document the colliery, that the full extent of the task dawned on me.

Starting the project

I visited the colliery on seven occasions, at different times of day, in different lighting conditions, including dawn and dusk. I planned each shoot but found that an outline plan whilst retaining a degree of flexibility to react to opportunities worked best.

At the outset I just toured the site to give me an understanding of the buildings, the machinery, the operation and the people. I took snaps to create a digital scrapbook to help me plan my approach. Essentially I was imbibing the atmosphere much as I would do when visiting a foreign destination for the first time. I wanted to get a real feeling for the place before I started the photography in earnest.

Health & Safety manager Grant was so supportive of my visits giving me more time than I could have wished for.  Even coming in at 3.30am for a dawn shoot and returning to work late in the evening to get “the best of the light” didn’t diminish his enthusiasm. In fact he joked that, after watching me, he would now be able to take the best holiday snaps ever! I hope he does.

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Gear used

All of the images were shot on a Fujifilm X-T1 or X-E1 camera using a selection of Fujifilm XF lenses including the 10-24, 18-55 and 55-200 zoom lenses and 14, 23, 35 and 56mm primes. I also used a Nissin i40 flash for some shots, though preferred to use natural light wherever possible.

For my portraits, the unobtrusive Fuji equipment allowed me to concentrate on building a rapport with my subjects rather than intimidate them with a large DSLR and f2.8 lens combination. Miners might be tough guy’s and supermodels they certainly are not but they seemed to relax pretty quickly in front of my Fuji lenses.

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There were several challenges to overcome not least the light levels that were typically pretty low in all of the buildings. Because of the poor light I used a tripod fitted with a ball and socket head for as many shots as possible. My cameras are fitted with arca swiss type plates so that I can switch from landscape format to portrait very easily and without having to waste time readjusting the tripod.

The mix of different light sources from tungsten, to fluorescent and natural meant it was difficult to assess the ideal colour temperature. However the decision early on to convert all the images to black & white certainly helped counter that problem!

In a coal mine dust was another inevitable and unavoidable issue. As the miners told me it’s not only the dust you can see that is the problem and I was very careful when changing lenses and using two bodies certainly helped. Thankfully the in camera sensor cleaning worked well and I was pleasantly surprised at the minimum amount of dust spotting required.

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Working on a project

As my photography has progressed I have found that I prefer to look at a series of images that tell a story rather than seeing individual impactful pictures. Whilst I have adopted this storytelling approach in my travel and landscape photography this project was a whole different ballgame. This wasn’t going to be a six or ten image set but a large body of work that had to be planned and created in a certain style. I found this experience fascinating, though at first it was pretty daunting. However after a couple of visits I had captured some shots I was very pleased with and the plan started to fall into place. I think the discipline required in a project such as this has helped me to improve my photography and it felt good to be succeeding in this new genre of social documentary photography.

In an attempt to capture the “feel” of the colliery, and to bring completeness to the project, I also recorded various sounds around the pit and organised a series of interviews with miners past and present. I will be producing mini AV’s including these sounds and using the miner’s comments in my presentations.

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Stretch yourself

It is very easy to stick to what we know in photography and limit yourself to a particular genre. Whilst my experience as a travel photographer, where you are required to be adept at many different genres, undoubtedly helped me there were aspects of this project that were not so familiar. As a result I feel I have grown as a photographer and I would urge you to move out of your comfort zone and try something new. There will be similar opportunities in your area, seek and ye shall find!

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Capturing a piece of history

As I progressed through the project I realised that I was not only taking pictures for myself but that I was actually recording a piece of history, an enduring record of a place that, in just a few months time, would be gone forever. With that came a feeling of responsibility, not only to do myself justice but also to represent the life and work of the mining community. Apart from my family photographs, this project is the most important and worthwhile piece of work that I have ever created. Whilst there is clearly interest in the work now, what will its importance be in another 10 or 20 years?

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A personal perspective

This project has been a fantastic experience. It has improved my photography, taken me into a different genre and enlightened my knowledge of an otherwise mysterious industry.

It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Thoresby, without whom I would not have been able to produce this body of work. Whilst the colliery may not draw its workers from the immediate village area, as in years gone by, their camaraderie, team spirit, hard work and no nonsense attitude in this tough and uncompromising industry epitomise the best of British workers. The closure of Thoresby truly is the end of an era.

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What next?

I feel it is important to showcase my images to as wide an audience as possible, especially in the local area. Therefore, after securing feature in the local and national press, I will be staging a major exhibition in Nottinghamshire and am planning to produce a book – more details to follow.

To see more Thoresby images and to keep updated on the project developments please visit my website  www.chrisuptonphotography.com

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Official X-Photographer’s site – Galleries updated!

So here’s some exciting news, the official X-Photographers website has been updated!

Six of our UK X-Photographer’s have seen further images added to their current galleries to bring even more beauty to the site. So relax, grab a cuppa and take a moment to discover some stunning new works of art within the Fuji realms.

Damien Lovegrove

damien lovegroveDamien Lovegrove left his role as a cameraman and lighting director at the BBC back in 1998 after 14 successful years to create the renowned Lovegrove Weddings partnership with his wife Julie. Together they shot over 400 top weddings for discerning clients worldwide. In 2008 Damien turned his hand to shooting beauty and portraiture and has since amassed a dedicated following for his distinctive art. Damien now divides his time between teaching the next generation of photographers and photographing personal projects. His book Chloe-Jasmine Whichello is highly regarded as a portrait style guide and his website galleries have over 2000 images to browse through among the 30 categories.

Described as a living legend, Damien is on a roll with the best of his work yet to come.

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David Cleland

david clelandDavid Cleland is a landscape and reportage photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
He is best known for his landscape and documentary photography which has featured in a number of photographic exhibitions. His solo exhibition, an exploration of the decay of a 400-year evacuated mill received critical acclaim. David also teaches film and animation applying the rules of still photography to the art of moving image.
David’s work has been accepted by Getty Images and been published in a number of national publications and used in numerous book covers.
David has written for a number of publications on the importance of photography in education and also produced tutorials and papers on a range of photography techniques.

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Jeff Carter

jeff carterMacLean Photographic was founded in 1996 and takes its name from owner Jeff Carter’s full name – Jeffrey Stuart MacLean Carter.

With over 20 years experience in several fields, including commercial, sport, landscape, travel and photo-journalism, Jeff Carter is based in Dunbar, near Edinburgh in Scotland. However he travels the world with his work in the motorsport and automotive industry and is constantly on the lookout for that next great image to capture.

As well as providing photographic services to editorial and commercial clients, MacLean Photographic runs a number of Photographic Workshops and Tours for individual or small groups of photographers of all abilities in and around East Lothian.

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Around the track in Belgium

Kevin Mullins

kevin mullinsKevin is pure documentary wedding photographer. He started shooting weddings professionally in 2008 and since then has photographed weddings right across the UK and Europe. Shooting in a documentary style he strives to tell the story of the wedding through photojournalism, rather than “traditional” contrived wedding photography.

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Kerry Hendry

kerry hendryKerry is an award winning fine art equestrian photographer, shooting commissions across the UK and worldwide. Her work has also been published in a number of UK and international magazines, websites and blogs. Kerry was also the first female UK photographer to be named as a Fuji X-Photographer, joining a group of brand ambassadors worldwide.

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Matt Hart

matt hartMatt is a black & white street and event Photographer based in Liverpool, England.
His journey through photography has been over 40 years mostly using film. He still shoots film, but most recently he prefers the freedom and flexibility of the digital medium striving to retain the integrity of the original image.
Annual projects have helped him to focus on his personal development within the industry, constantly challenging his own ideas and concepts and forcing him to learn new skills. In 2013 he carried out a Year of Black and White project, this made him rethink his whole style and camera system.
Matt’s stock images have been used in advertising all over the world, his work has also been published in many books and magazines, including many photography magazines.
Matt runs Street Photography workshops and courses around Liverpool and other UK cities passing on his tricks and techniques in Street Photography and processing in black and white.

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Street photography workshops with X-Photographer Matt Hart

If you’d like to learn more about Street Photography, there’s no better way than to get some hands-on advice from an experienced professional photographer who specialises in candid street shooting.

Who is Matt Hart?

Matt Hart is a black and white Street and Event Photographer based in Liverpool. He is an official Fujifilm X Photographer; a Formatt Hitech featured Artist and the founder of The Fujiholics Social Media Group.

Matt is passionate about Street Photography, he has developed the skill to observe and be virtually invisible, letting the world carry on around him without affecting the scene. The subject is unaware. Matt keeps the system and process as simple as possible so as not to over complicate the task. This is why he has chosen the Fuji X system for his professional work which helps him to achieve his style.

Matt was recently voted for in a list of the world’s most influential Street Photographers by the Street Hunters social media groups readers.

Candid Street Photography workshops

Matt is running Street Photography workshops and courses around the UK and is passing on his techniques in Candid Street Photography.

His courses will give you the opportunity to work as part of a group, gaining confidence shooting Street within a group, as well as the confidence to go out on your own using the tips and tricks you pick up on the day in your future Street work, some people have now been on his courses a few times and every time their confidence has grown stronger and stronger.

Here are the courses he has available for June and July. You can also see his full schedule for 2015 by checking out his EventBright page here.

Brighton Street Photography Workshop

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Sat, 6 Jun 10:30
West Street, Brighton, BN1 2RE
More info

Brighton Street Photography Workshop

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Sun, 7 Jun 10:30
West Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2RE
More info

Manchester Street Photography Workshop

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Sat, 13 Jun 10:30
Ducie Street, Manchester, England, M60 7LP
More info

London Street Photography Workshop

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Sun, 28 Jun 10:30
Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
More info

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Matt’s workshops are suitable for professional and amateur photographers of all levels and are fun, informative and relaxed. They are both challenging and highly enjoyable and designed to stretch your imagination.

They will give you an insight into the way Matt works and his style of Street Photography. You will learn how to anticipate and capture that decisive moment at various locations. Matt will guide you around the best streets for Street Photography, so that in the future you can come back and explore for yourself.

Matt uses the Fuji X100T and X-T1 with a 35mm or 16mm Prime lens. If you want to hire a Fujifilm camera and lens for the day this can be arranged, if notice is given well in advance of the event by contacting Matt direct.

You can bring any DSLR or mirrorless camera on this course; fixed lens compacts are also welcome. If you are wondering what lenses to bring 50mm (in 135 equiv) is ideal.

Matt will also cover the skill in spotting a possible subject, what to look for in a great scene, how to blend in and be invisible, how to capture the subject without intrusion and how to carry out your photography in public places safely. He will also discuss how to develop confidence in shooting Street photography; he will also cover body language and personal space.

The day normally starts at 10.30am with a coffee introductions and a discussion about the day. Matt will touch on the ethics and law and how to deal with challenges in this area. You will normally spend around an hour covering Street subjects then around 11.30am we head straight out on to the streets where you can watch the way Matt works and try out some of the tips and tricks that he shares with you.

You will break for lunch around 1.30pm where we can find a quite place for a snack to discuss the mornings work and share your experiences. You then go back out on the streets to practise your new Street techniques and try and find your Street rhythm and look for some interesting characters or great light !

You stay out shooting until about 4pm, we then find a quiet place to sit as a group to discuss the day and this will include lessons learnt. Matt will share his processing techniques and preferred software. Matt will give you his views on Critique and show you how to review your own work. There is no Critique session at the end of the day but you can send your work to Matt after the event to have your work critiqued.
You will be able to post your work and talk to Matt after the event through his Social Media pages or by e mail, this can includes a Flickr link to upload and share your best three images from the day and ongoing Street images.

Courses are around £99.99 full price but early bird tickets are available at most locations when booked in advance.

Full terms and conditions can be found on the event pages for every event.

XQ1 – The Photographers compact?

Want a small, powerful camera that has features you actually want to use? The XQ1 might just be what you’re looking for.

Like many of you, I have my main camera (X-E2) that I use day in, day out. I know it like the back of my hand and could use it with my eyes closed – if you get my drift. The problem is, sometimes I just don’t want to carry a bag around – no matter how small it is. I want a pocket sized camera that I can forget about until the need takes me. Here’s the catch though, I don’t want a pocket sized camera that offers no control and is very noisy in low-light. This is where I think the XQ1 really shines, it just seems to tick all those boxes:

  • Pocket-sized
  • Manual control
  • High quality images, even at high ISO.

Being so used to my X-E2, I thought it would be a good challenge to use the little XQ1 for my day out to London. Not only that, but I could rid myself of the bag that I’m always carrying about, which was super!

So, like you do when you love photography & adventure, I starting taking pictures. I took the usual suspects at first; trains, train station & people randomly wandering about their business.

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One of the first reasons I would class this as a photographers compact camera is simply that you can change the focus point manually. This is something I do ALL the time on my X-E2 to aid with my composition. With other compact cameras I have used, you either cannot set it or it’s not easy to access.

For our day out we headed to the Natural History Museum, this was a great location to test the ISO performance. Looking back at the photos there is clearly some noise & grain, but it has a very film-like quality to it that I think adds to the atmosphere of the shots.

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Another point to make about this camera as I discovered on the day, was how quick it turned on. Now this may not seem life changing, but when you are with a bunch of friends that don’t do photography and want to move on to the next exhibit, speed is everything. It made many shots possible that may have otherwise been lost. This also translates well into styles like street photography – you see someone or something interesting and you need the camera to be ready immediately to capture it.

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QUICK TIP: For ease of access, I kept the camera inside my inner jacket pocket (blazer style). With that, I pretty much never missed an opportunity to shoot what I wanted – no fumbling in bags, jean pockets etc.

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Due to the size of this camera, it really is super discrete. I could get those moments that I may not have been brave enough to shoot with other cameras, with even my X-E2.

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And when all is said and done, it takes a great dinner party picture!

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I think for many photographers using DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras, you get very accustomed with a level of quality to expect and because of this, many wouldn’t dream of downsizing to a compact camera. But, as hopefully shown in this blog, the XQ1 makes an exception to this. It shows that you can still be creative, still get excellent quality images and at at a size that literally allows you to take it anywhere with ease.

Any questions? Drop us a comment below – and yes, I cannot wait to try out the latest model, the XQ2 🙂 [WATCH THIS SPACE…]