This past working year has been a pretty exciting one. When I look back at what I’ve been up to this year a few sectors of my work jump out, jump at me and I get reminded of.

“You’re the the 360 plane guy who loves beer and little plastic people’

I cannot deny the fact that I’m one of the lucky ones who loves getting up to face work on a Monday morning, I thoroughly enjoy traveling to making virtual tours of aircraft, I’m so thankful that I don’t have a beer allergy and have risen above the criticism of ‘wasting time’ with LEGO figures to even have a photo of my Test Team on a magazine cover.
In between the higher profile or social network showable jobs that I’ve been lucky to have done, I’ve also enjoyed the bread and butter jobs too. Small things that get no air time but are none-the-less rewarding to do. Also plenty of stuff that gets no air time for other reasons, NDA, internal corporate use, etc. Just remember though, every single photo you see out there. Packaging on food, cat food labels, posters, brochures, magazines, etc. They all have someone who made them, a team of people behind them. Unrecognised, unknown and inspiring colleagues who are getting on with their work making this world a brighter and more interesting place.  2013 has seen this profession undermined and devalued further by the assumption that photography can be done by anyone with a camera. I raise a glass to those colleagues out there who are sticking to it, who are rising above it all and sharing in this passion I have for making and creating images. Cheers guys and girls!

Without sounding all gushy and slushy, my clients have all been gems to work for. I don’t need to name names, they all know who they are and I’m looking forward to working with them all again next year.  I thank them for putting up with my sarcasm and sometimes difficult mannerisms. In other words, I appreciate their trust in me.

Some might have even noticed that I’m busy working together with Paul Walsh on a magazine about beer and food. In fact it might have been slightly hard to avoid for those who follow me. The 2nd issue is approaching the publish date and the whole team are loving every hard working moment of getting that into the world. If you’ve not seen it yet, check it out. Belgian Beer and Food. 

To cap off the year I noticed something this morning, a first for me and was worth a smile. I was published on the ELLE website!  ;-) No glamour fashion beauty editorial thing but images of beer. BEER! Yep. It was a Liefmans cocktail evening in SIPS cocktail bar in Antwerp.  As always, a fun evening and some tasty beer cocktails. Below a set of images from that event.

To all of you, make 2014 great. Attack it, don’t let it wash over you. Every day will be unique and every day a challenge. Make them count.
Live, Love and enjoy.

Rob.

I was recently asked if I wanted some of my images to feature in a new and free to download magazine that has been launched by Fujifilm Europe.

As the name suggests, it is aimed squarely at the Fujifilm X-Series user, offering some interactive inspiration and insight into what the users are doing with the cameras.
Drive over to Fujifilm X Magazine  with your tablet to download the fully free issues 1 and 2.  Some images I made during a walkabout in London feature in issue2.

Enjoy!

 

Whether you like it or not, Sony have to be given full points for perseverance in the camera game. Their relentless camera production programme has often been criticised for being over innovative but that constant effort looks like it’s paying off. Eyes are turning.
In my own opinion, the flagship A99 felt like I was using a high end fly-by-wire electronic imaging device rather than a camera. A completely capable and excellent camera but  up against the aura and known factor of established DSLR brands.

The NEX range of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras broke the pattern and paved the way to much speculation for a full-frame NEX.
The Rx1 seemed to land in the market to test the waters. It caused big ripples by trumping the established Fujifilm X100 with sensor size but at a considerably higher price.

Now Sony have diversified their range further with the new full-frame A7 (24mp) and A7R (36mp) mirrorless interchangeable lens system.

I tested the A7R during a trip to London and immediately it felt like the Alpha DSLR, NEX and RX1 had been rolled into one. The body felt very comfortable in my hand, an expected size with a reassuring grip. Solid and robust dials for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. Loads of function buttons scattered on the back of the camera offer a serious level of customisation which proved to be very handy after I’d squeezed off a few shots and realised that the shutter release was way too sensitive. Typically on any camera a half-press is focus, increased pressure fires a shot. On the A7R I felt the line between focus and shoot was just too sensitive. Luckily I could program the centre button of the rear command dial to focus, freeing up the shutter release button for just making the shot.
I also set up one of the function buttons to  quickly access the user selectable AF point setting. Still, after every shot the AF selector needed to be activated to move the AF point. An issue that I’m sure firmware could ‘fix’ If you’re a centre AF point and reframe person, you’ll not notice this.
I also found the AF system to be a bit hit and miss.  Grabbing the opportunist street styled images I had many false focus locks resulting in too many out of focus shots. To be fair though, the camera was a pre-production model so I’m pretty sure the firmware tweaks will improve the AF performance.

If you’re thinking you’ll be able to use the A7R for some subtle and discrete shots, forget it. The shutter sound rattles your teeth. Logical really considering the small body has no real way of absorbing the mechanical clunks of the shutter. It sure has a reassuring I HAVE JUST MADE A SHOT sound to it.

All in all though, a mighty fine camera that delivers impeccable results. Really. Crisp, clean images with a good neutral feel. The ‘croppablity’ of the 36mp is something I have become accustomed to with the D800 so finding all that detail back in a ‘compact’ camera is a joy. The electronic viewfinder is great and I love the tilt screen. I’m getting used to the Sony menu system too.

Some firmware tweaks and it’s be a properly realistic DSLR companion and in some cases I’m convinced a DSLR replacement.
I think Sony are on the right track with this one. Fighting in the DSLR market is like swimming uphill but by tossing this into the stream they are now waiting on the other side of the hill for others to catch up.

Now, if only they’d include a charger in the box too  ;)

Below, some random shots from the A7R.

The image above is a classic example of how the A7R focusing missed. An opportunity shot but it gave a false lock on the centre of the image. 

Last week saw the opening a new exhibition in Brussels. ‘The Art of the Brick” 
Artist Nathan Sawaya turn his hobby into his job by turning to sculpting with LEGO® The exhibition is a mix of recreations of famous art pieces and his own unique pieces. One thing connects all of his work, it is all built from  just the humble plastic bricks. The 6 metre long T-Rex contains 80,200 of them!

Without spoiling the trip for people by giving too much away, here’s a selection of the images I made at the opening.
The show runs from 22nd November 2013 to 21st April 2014 at the old Brussels Stock exchange.

For some time now I’ve employed the services of a small but very motivated team of testers. They help me whenever I have new gear to test, giving me good feedback on the findings from their unique perspective. The last issue of SHOOT gave them the chance to get their very over cover shot and they jumped at the chance.
I’d written an article for this issue to suggest that simple desktop photography can be done at home with some very modest setups. Big expensive equipment is nice to have but there are often things around the house that will allow a photographer to get good results.

Below are images of the cover and of the ‘behind the scenes’

So here’s the cover.

And here is the ‘behind the scenes’ shot. Made with a Nikon CoolpixA, hand held under the D800E.
The only lighting in the shot is provided by 2 inexpensive low voltage LED strips from IKEA and The Test Team are standing on 2 planks of laminate flooring. All sitting on my kitchen table.