“I’m really pleased and proud to have been shortlisted for the 2019 Portrait of Humanity Awards for my image ‘The Quaker’, taken last year in Manchester.”Read More
A morning walk in the glorious Bank Holiday sunshine with friends in the hills above Denshaw and Castleshaw proved to be both spectacular and sad. The pleasantly warm temperatures, the excellent company of my wife, friends and three dogs in the glorious Saddleworth hills gave me an opportunity to create some spectacular images. However, the images created were at a dreadful environmental cost of losing hundreds of hectares of historic moorland to fire, probably as a result of someones ignorance, negligence and selfishness.
As is usually the case on such a walk, I had my favoured Lowepro BP 150 AW Hatchback 22L Camera Bag accompanied by my Leica M-P240, the Leica Super Elmar 21mm, the Leica 35mm Summilux FLE and the Leica APO Summicron 75mm lens. The first picture of my friends walking towards a farmhouse and the smoke filled horizon obviously screamed 75mm APO Cron in lens choice. For the rest of the images and remainder of the walk, everything was taken on the 35mm Lux FLE, such a versatile and amazing lens for this situation.
Whilst I do have a preference for converting images to black and white a lot of the time, my first impression is to leave them in colour. I may have a change of heart at some stage in the future but at the moment I think the glorious weather and colour palette of the smoke deserve to be shown.
The dichotomy of bearing witness to such a sad event and creating such spectacular images will always be with me whenever I look at them in the future.
As a professional photographer one of my go to lenses for a long time has been the superb AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED. Optically superb and a really versatile 24-70mm focal length range makes it ideal for the majority of assignments. The one down side of the lens is it’s weight, at 900g it’s a lens that certainly lets you know its presence.
After working on a lot of personal assignments with my Leica M-P240 using prime lenses with manual focusing, I started to look into the possibility of using an older wide angle prime with my Nikon D810 instead of being reliant on the 24-70. It soon became clear that the standout candidate for the job was the classic Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-s. This manual focus lens has a big reputation for build quality, being constructed of metal as opposed to plastic and optical performance. It was introduced in the late 1970’s and was still being made in 2013 until Nikon switched the lens construction to the plastic casing. At a mere 250g in weight, thus reducing the weight on my shoulder and in my bag by 650g you can see why it was an attractive option to look at.
After a patient wait, I managed to find a mint Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-s on eBay for less than £200 so decided to give it a try. Using a legacy AI-s lens on the Nikon D810 is very straightforward, it mounts in the same way as current AFS lenses but you will then need to go into the “Non CPU Lens Data’ menu to manually input the 24mm focal length and f2.8 aperture information to have full colour matrix metering, EXIF data, and finder read out for the aperture. Thankfully, you only need to do this the once and not every time you mount the lens.
The camera will now work in aperture priority mode, naturally by using the ‘old school’ technique of rotating the aperture ring on the lens, or on manual mode. Even though it’s a 24mm lens, depending on what you’re shooting, you still need to be precise with your focusing, especially on a full frame DSLR. For those of you not used to using manual focus lenses, the focus dot in the bottom left of the viewfinder comes in very useful and is fully functional with this lens.
As I’m old enough to remember the analogue days of photography, it was really great to experience an analogue lens with a real aperture ring on my Nikon D810 DSLR. The focus ring is smooth and it’s a great compact, lightweight lens to have in your kit. In terms of the image quality, it doesn’t disappoint, it has a great minimum focusing distance of 0.3m, creates some nice bokeh with lens fall off wide open if shooting scenes with distinct foreground and background separation. When shooting more generic scenes such as landscapes etc you’ll want to work somewhere between f8 to f11 where the lens is at its optical best.
For those on a budget, looking to travel a bit lighter, want a relatively inexpensive wide angle lens for your current DSLR, or simply would like to have a nostalgic experience with your current DSLR, it’s a great lens to invest in.
Phil Melia is a professional documentary and editorial photographer based in Saddleworth, Oldham in the North West of England. He gained a HND in Advertising Photography from Salisbury College of Art in 1986 and was awarded a Masters Degree in International Documentary, Travel and Photojournalism Photography by The University of Bolton in 2007. He also holds a Fellowship of The British Institute of Professional Photography and is a member of the NUJ.
Phil works for a diverse range of clients, not only in Greater Manchester and the North West but throughout the UK and worldwide. With over twenty-five years of professional photography experience across a wide range of genres which also include advertising and industrial, his laid back, easy-going approach generates calm positive, relaxed commissions that puts everyone at ease. Added to this his disciplined attention to detail, an established efficient workflow, formulates an enjoyable experience for successful campaigns on a global scale that puts his clients in the spotlight.
This is one of my favourite shots taken whilst on assignment recently in China. Taken with my favourite camera, the Leica M-P 240 and one of my all-time, awesome lenses, the Leica 35mm Summilux FLE. This is the stunning mist covered architecture of the Longyin Temple at The Bamboo Sea in Sichuan Province and was one of the first sites seen on my tour. #editorialphotographer #asia #china #Leica #photojournalism #Longyin #documentaryphotography
An honour and pleasure to meet, see his photography and hear a talk from the award winning former Guardian photojournalist Denis Thorpe at Stockport Art Gallery on the launch of his new book, A VIew from the North. An amazing life in photography and fantastic photojournalism. The exhibition runs until Saturday 20th October. https://www.stockport.gov.uk/upcoming-exhibitions/a-view-from-the-north
Whenever the diary permits, I always enjoy a visit to the Saddleworth Rushcart festival. Having recently got back from an assignment in China, it was a welcome break from processing over three thousand images of Chinese culture to immerse myself in some closer to home culture. I followed my usual routine, parked up at my studio in Tanners Mill, Greenfield and enjoyed a pleasant thirty minute walk in the late summer sunshine to where the festival starts in Uppermill. As per usual, there was a great turnout of people to see the start of the Rushcart, lots of families, their dogs and everyone it seems taking pictures and shooting videos on their mobile phones. Really interesting to see how photography and videography has boomed in terms of the numbers of people participating in the visual arts since the advent of digital cameras and smartphone technology.
As with the majority of personal work, I favoured my trusty Leica MP240 camera and a choice of three lenses, the Leica 21mm SE, the Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux ASPH, and the Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux ASPH. Everything set to manual and naturally with the Leica M, that also means manual focusing. A big challenge in bright sunshine, harsh shadows and moving subjects, but very rewarding when it all clicks into place.
In what is becoming increasingly a common occurrence, most of my work was shot with the 35mm Summilux, one of the most amazing lenses I've ever worked with and owned. The micro contrast, the size, the weight, the image quality, the bokeh, can all be rated at 5 star plus and in all honesty, I can't fault it in any aspect. I also turned to the 21mm SE for a few shots where I needed the wider perspective and didn't end up using the 50mm Summilux at all.
I walked alongside the Rushcart on it's journey from Uppermill to Greenfield where it was nice to see the villagers and their children lining the streets to see the walk and showing their appreciation to the numerous Morris Men who participated in pulling the Rushcart and the musicians accompanying it. Here's a few pictures from my time in Uppermill and Greenfield, great to also catch up with old friends Martin Stimson, and David Trinder. Thanks for looking.
Ps My China Diary Blog pictures should hopefully be posted here in the next few weeks so watch this space.
Just had one of the two 4TB drives fail in my @G-Tech Thunderbolt RAID. Thankfully I had it set up as RAID 1 so that in the event of this happening, all your data is protected. Well worth losing half the overall storage capacity for. Great tech support from G-Technology. No images were lost or harmed in the making of this blog! #DiskFailure #NothingLost #Sorted
I'm excited to a announce that I'm currently working on a great new portfolio of my documentary and editorial photography. I'm also working on a great new collection of fine art photography from around Saddleworth and beyond, I'll be updating the website over the next few weeks so watch this space or sign up below to receive news updates and exclusive discounts when my collection goes live.