The Ugandan gorillas and chimpanzees

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by Peter Delaney

Bio

11830097_1148874931796385_1664940048_nIn 2001, I made a decision to quit a career in finance to pursue my dream of travelling Africa in a 4×4 Landcruiser. The sheer size and magnitude of this continent was overwhelming. I travelled the forests of Bwindi to the peaks of Kilimanjaro, to the shores of Lake Malawi and the red dunes of the Kalahari. I have spent many months in the African wilderness looking for that unique photograph to showcase the rich variety of wildlife and beautiful landscape that Africa has to offer.

Africa has become the new chapter in my life and I have dedicated the last 15 years photographing this diverse continent.

My dedication to the craft has been rewarded with publications in the National Geographic, Deutsche Geo and many others. My photographs have won numerous awards including the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year in 2011 & 2013.

Photography has become my life, it maybe a cliché, but it’s true. I live and breathe photography. No matter where I am, “my minds eye” is making photographs. It has taught me to see the world in a different light, and for that, I am so grateful.

Recent assignment and what I was hoping to capture

In June, I spent a week on assignment for a client who asked me to photograph Ugandas Gorillas and Chimpanzees. The brief was to photograph the impact of conservation tourism on local communities and the Wildlife. It was a fantastic opportunity to photograph Mountain Gorillas, whose numbers are less than 1000 worldwide, and Chimpanzees whose numbers are under increasing threat from habitat lost due to logging and oil drilling.

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When I photograph my subjects there are few things on my mind. First and foremost is the well being of my subjects, I never want them to feel threatened that they may enter a “fight or flight” scenario. The other is that I photograph my subjects aesthetically, so that my photographs resonate with the viewer.

fishing-boat-lake-victoria-3On assignments there are always opportunities to photograph different subjects, on my photography wish list I have always wanted to photograph Fishermen casting nets from old wooden boats.
On this trip I had an hour waiting for our transport to a nearby island. It was a surreal morning with huge storm clouds approaching over calm waters. Local fishermen were fishing close by. I had one chance to get the photograph that I always wanted. I am glad to say I succeeded.

What kit did I take why?

Since 2007, up until last year, all my work was photographed with pro DSLR body.

To be honest, I was never truly happy with this bulky equipment, I would often come back from trips and be dissatisfied with the lack of sharpness and detail. This was mainly due to vibrations from the mirror and shutter.

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I have been monitoring the mirrorless platform intensely over the last few years. When Fujifilm brought out the X-T1 and a lens roadmap, I got in contact with Fujifilm South Africa. I had a wonderful meeting with their team and I was convinced by their passion, commitment and dedication not just to the products, but to the Fujifilm community too. The support I have received from Fujifim has been amazing and I’m so excited about the release of the upcoming “big lens” from Fujifilm. I am sure it will live up to my expectations.

On this trip I packed the following gear:

  • 2 x Fujifilm X-T1’s
  • XF18-55mm
  • XF50-140mm
  • Laptop
  • Hard drives
  • SD cards
  • Spare batteries & chargers

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I knew photographing the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees was not just going to be a challenge physically for me, but also to push my Fujifilm equipment to the limits.
I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive but I needn’t have been. I cannot emphasise enough how well the X-T1 and the 50-140mm coped with low light, high contrast and wet, humid conditions. It performed beautifully.

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Carrying these cameras and lenses around for hours while trekking the Chimpanzees and Gorillas I never once felt tired, or that my equipment was too heavy and cumbersome as it use to be in the past with my old DSLR.

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Since I was working for a client, knowing whether the trip was a success or not was down to their reaction. I found my client to be ecstatic with the results, and so was I.

This trip put to bed any lingering thoughts I had about making the switch to Fujifilm “exclusively”. I love my Fujifilm equipment and I love being part of the Fujifilm family as Fujifilm’s X-shooter in South Africa.

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General tips

First and foremost, enjoy your Photography.

Secondly, no matter how good you think you are as a photographer, you can always be better, never stop learning.

Thirdly, respect your subject, be ethical in your approach and remember your reputation is everything.

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What’s next for me ?

I’m just back from a self imposed year off as I became a father for the first time. And I am now slowly weening myself off fatherhood and getting back out into the field.

Because I love to travel and explore, I am planning trips to Asia, Europe and of course my beloved Africa. I have further work booked with clients who love giving me challenging briefs. I am hoping to work with Fujifilm South Africa next year coinciding with the release of their “big lens”. I love sharing my stories and passion for my photography so I will be giving short presentations both locally and internationally.

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Email – delaneypeter@icloud.com

A journey to Marrakesh

9. DSCF5376 mercato medina - sitoby Jesper Storgaard Jensen

About me

Jesper Storgaard Jensen bwI’m Danish, born in 1964, and have been living in Rome since 1997. I have always loved writing and at a certain point, after my arrival in Rome, I started to collaborate with magazines producing travel articles. It was from this that the Danish Daily wanted to publish a travel article of mine from an Italian island. Unfortunately the PR-photos were of a too poor quality. In other words, I had to do the photos myself. This is when I purchased my first ever 5-mega-pixel camera. That was back in 2003, and since then, my interest in photography has been steadily increasing. I had been working for the Danish Embassy in Rome for ten years, but in 2009 I took the jump to become a full time freelance journalist and photographer shooting travel, culture, food & wine and interviews. Everything with my own imagery.

The journey to Marrakesh

We – a total of eight persons – were doing a 7 day on-the-road-trip round Morocco, two days of which were spent in Marrakesh. As I needed to travel light, I packed only my Fuji gear – Fuji X-E2, the 18-55mm kit lens and the 35 mm lens for portraits & food. I must say that I find this a excellent combination and the overall weight is significantly reduced compared to DSLR gear.

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Travelling in a country with a completely different culture to my own I wanted to play it safe. So I asked most people if I could take their photo, especially regarding portraits, which I guess is quite obvious. There were occasions where some scenes were too good to miss, and in these circumstances I fired from the hip, looking elsewhere.

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Generally speaking, Marrakesh is a very photogenic location. There are so many varied situations, so wonderfully exotic, with such incredible faces, emotions, the colours, the textures. Everything seems to be calling you to be immortalized.

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Future projects

Aside from my daily work, I like to have detailed, lengthy photographic projects and I’ll soon be leaving Rome for my summer holidays. I’ll be driving through the south of Italy to the island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily. During that month of holiday I’m planning on doing a project called “People I met”, taking portraits of people I’d casually meet during that month. On a long term basis, I’m working on a project where I’ll be photographing different kinds of Roman artisans in their working environments. This project will be continuing into 2016.

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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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