Interview with Eric Kim on fear, books and why? (VIDEO)

Recently Eric Kim and I ran a street projects workshop in Hong Kong (my blog review of that workshop can be found here). After the workshop finished we had a few days before Eric departed for his next workshops in Australia so I took the time to get him in the studio and my aim was to produce a short but slightly more serious interview with him to help him out and let people see a bit more depth.

In this piece, Eric talks about his fears when shooting street, some highly recommended books and reminds all photographers to ask yourself why do you shoot? Something I ask everyone I teach the moment I meet them...

Gary Tyson is a former British Army Photographer/videographer now based in Asia, shooting a variety of projects ranging from commercial to sports photography, corporate, travel an event videos, as well as being an avid street shooter wherever he goes.

His company F8 Photography also runs travel and street photography workshops all over Asia, specialising in Cambodia, India and now expanding in Japan and hopefully soon in Mongolia, Burma and Vietnam also.

For more information about Gary or F8 Photography please see our links below to public facebook page and website.

Gary's public facebook page

F8 Photography main website

F8 & Eric Kim Street 'projects' workshop review - Aug 2014

Last weekend myself and Eric Kim ran a workshop here in Hong Kong.  We had a nice group of mixed abilities from all over Asia and Europe, clients from Macau, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam and even as far away as Budapest in Hungary came to Hong Kong to spend the weekend shooting with our group and sharing ideas and learning some new tips and tricks. Eric introducing himself at the start of the workshop.

Winnie Ho shot this vibrant coloured image as part of her 'Through The Window' project.

The focus of this workshop was 'working on projects', so it was slightly more advanced that some of the basic street shooting style workshops, requiring a different approach to shooting on the streets.  Some may find it easier being given a project to focus on, some find it harder to focus on 'telling a story' with a short sequence and tighter edit of images.  Whichever way you approach it, for sure it will help develop visualisation skills for all photographers looking for a slightly different approach to their work.

Mainlander shopping spree, Hong Kong

End of first night...much beer is needed to soften the blows of the critiques :-)

The first evening of the workshop was spent reviewing clients existing portfolios that they were asked to bring along for critique.  This is always a very valuable part of the workshop as it enables everyone to get to know each other, let down their barriers and showcase their current work.  It also helps us to figure out which direction we think they may like to try next and after the workshop finishes to see how they have moved their benchmark up a level or two.

Sam and Oscar comparing their toys out on the streets.

The 2nd day is spent with various presentations in the morning (after lots of coffee and snacks), sharing some examples of our own projects and talking thoroughly as a group about everything that has been showcased that morning.  After lunch we discuss potential ideas for projects with the group, share them all and let the clients pick 2 projects to work on over the rest of the weekend before their final presentations.  This method proved to work very well, and the discussions brought out some great ideas for people to try.


A nice 'selfie' taken by Annie Gallivan as part of her project 'Shadow Play'.

Then, the group departed off, either alone, in pairs or under guidance from us where requested, to explore deep into Kowloon and Hong Kong Island for the rest of Saturday and Sunday morning, exploring their ideas, sharing feedback over dinner and fine tuning their visions before meeting back at the workshop base for Sunday lunch and to start the process of selection, editing and presentation.

smokers óscar f.-3

Sam checks his negatives on the 2nd evening after a day shooting.

Geoff has his contact sheets proofed by a friend at dinner.

People always underestimate the importance of being a strong self-editor, something that some people struggle with, so we used some techniques that are really useful in Lightroom to help the visual process, helping the group break down their portfolios to a very tight edit by the end of the day.

Geoffrey Chen, shooting on film for his 'Lust' project.

Final presentations were made individually, allowing each client to showcase their work and get up in front of a group and practice their presentation skills.

We had group  discussions over the presentations, and gave our final thoughts to the clients.

Carolyn Kang - Up close and personal with her 'Portraits' project.

To finalise the workshop we have an excellent presentation from our good friend Jonathan Van Smit (flickr link), an acclaimed street shooter based in Hong Kong, well known amongst our community for his black and white close up street shooting in Kowloon.  Jonathan has been a guest speaker at many of our workshops and always inspires others with his dedication, drive and passion for what he is doing.  He has recently departed on a personal project in Israel, and we wish him the best of luck with that project and stay safe!!!  More of Jonathan's work can be seen here.

Alex Haslam's contrasty black and white images were part of his 'Hidden Faces' project.

All said and done, the workshop was a great success, all client feedback has been positive, and I for one have seen some large improvements in portfolios of many of the clients as I have spent a lot of time with most of them before and am quite familiar with their work.

Alex explores the issues related to exposure when shooting with lens cap on...sorry mate, couldn't resist hehe.

Laszlo Szigeti - for his 'Reflections' project.

Below I would like to share some more images from the workshop, bearing in mind the clients only had less than 24 hours to produce their sets of images, these are some of the individual images, tagged with the name of their project to give context.


Sam Lok, shooting on film for his 'Layers and Triangles' project.

Michelle Leung focussed her project around "Sham Shui Po'.

Harriet Pollard's project focussed on 'First Impressions', having just arrived from India a few weeks beforehand.

Jonathan Nguyen's project 'Old People' had a good look with his processing.


Great work everyone, looking forward to the next workshops already.

F8 Photography runs workshops all over Asia, including travel photography in Cambodia, Japan and India all coming up in late 2014, please check out our website for more details on how to sign up for those, or check our blog for loads of reviews, slideshows and feedback from clients who have attended previous F8 Photography workshops around Asia.

F8 Photography also provides commercial photography and videography services, please see our main website for that or check out Gary's public page on Facebook to stay up to date with our latest images and what we are up to.

Thanks for all the support and keep shooting.

VIDEO: How we process black and white with the Fuji X-T1

A few people have been asking me how i process my black and white RAW files from the new Fuji X-T1 camera. I use Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 to do this, and I have made a short video that goes into detail of how I process my files to get my own look.

Please see the video below, I hope its useful for people seeking out some ways to get a constant look with their black and white process, just tweak to your liking and save your presets and you can have your images edited in seconds in 1 or 2 clicks.

Behind the Scenes - F8 Photography Jodhpur India Workshop

We recently returned from Jodhpur, deep in the heart of Rajasthan in India where we ran a 5 day photography workshop. We would like to share some of our 'behind the scenes' images that show how much fun everyone was having in India, as well as producing some fantastic images throughout the week the group was having lots of FUN which is what makes it all worthwhile, as we have said many times to all photographers, if you are not having fun and loving what you are doing, then why do it?!

Crank up the volume, sit back and share in the joy that was had on F8 Photography's latest workshop in India.

For more information on upcoming workshops, visit our site at



Rajasthan - India photography workshop, November 2013

In recent years we have been running many successful workshops in Cambodia and as much as we love the place, many of our clients and new enquiries are asking for us to lead a workshop in different parts of Asia so here is the first one, into the heart of Rajasthan in India from 5th - 10th November 2013. This workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.

We will explore Delhi and 'the pink city' of Jaipur in Rajasthan, travelling between the two by train.

This promises to be an exciting workshop and good learning experience for all of us, so sign up quick, a few of the places have already been sold before it was advertised today.

For more information please follow the link to the workshop signup page below:


How a few friends process black and white differently....

I manage a facebook group of street photographers (linked here) which has grown rapidly over the last few months and we now have around 350 members....we share our work and discuss many things there including how and why we process using different softwares.  This led us to an idea to send a few RAW files to a few different photographers in the group to see how they processed the same RAW file using different software.

Please bear in mind when reading this that its not a black and white 'must do' process at all - this was simply a fun exercise to see how different photographers would process the same image....and these are not my own methods for converting images, as stated they are a few friends.

I picked two very different images that I shot a few days ago, one was a portrait in the street of an Indonesian woman wearing a Burka, and the other image of some local guys playing Chinese Chess in a park in Kowloon.

I asked each photographer to annotate what they did, and return the files to me...these were their results, which of course will all be different, but its just an interesting exercise to see which software does what...and how the photographers got to their end results.  I'll make my comments on them underneath each set of images and do some comparisons....I also intend to do an upcoming blog post on my own black and white work flow which may yet change after I take a good look at these images below:

Let's start with Rocco's conversions and his process is explained in his own words below:

1.  Rocco's conversions - Alien Skin Exposure 4

For both pictures, Rocco used Alien Skin Exposure 4.

(Edited by Rocco in Alien Skin Exposure 4 - Original image shot by F8 Photography on Olympus OMD)


For the first image of the woman I started off by scrolling through the B&W film presets available in Exposure 4.  I limited myself to films with ISO of 100 or less, which in this case left me with  a handful of options including a couple of Agfa, Fuji and Kodak presets, and a single Ilford preset.  ISO ranges went from 25-100.  I wanted to make sure that the face of the subject retained contrast against the veil and background.  However, only the Kodak T-MAX 100 preset allowed me to have a good amount of contrast whilst still retaining detail on the face, and not adding an excessive amount of grain to the process.  All the other presets made the washed out the color of the face to the point that it was too white for my taste.

I did some additional adjustments to increase the sharpness of the area around the eyes, so as to have a stark expression, and bring the right eye more into focus.  I also added a small amount of vignetting to isolate the face slightly more and bring it forward from the background.

(Edited by Rocco in Alien Skin Exposure 4 - Original image shot by F8 Photography on Olympus OMD)


For the 2nd image of the Chinese Chess players, this is more of a street scene, and due to the fact that in my view Hong Kong street pictures should look weathered and grainy, I started the process by selecting a higher ISO film preset (in this case Kodak TRI-X 400).  This preset provides a good starting point with a fair amount of contrast and grain that gives street images a weathered, 60s-70s photojournalism look.  This was an easier process for me as I tend to degrade the street photography images more than normal as I think this adds character to the image.  I tweaked the preset further by adding more grain (TRI-X 25% Salt & Pepper), and by enhancing the vignetting as well to help guide attention to the mahjong player facing the camera.  Overall, I envision most of my street pictures this way, especially in Hong Kong, where a picture taken today can easily be mistaken for a picture taken 30-40yrs ago.  It is very difficult to tell old from new in Hong Kong, and old pictures have great character.

F8 COMMENTS ON ABOVE PROCESS: My intial views on Roccos conversions are that I really like the conversion of both images, and I think Alien Skin Exposure 4 software is a great plugin as its simple to use and has gotten some clean results, from all the samples here I think the skin tone is most pleasing on the portrait with this conversion.

2. Jason's conversions - Capture One Pro

Next up was Jason, he used Capture One Pro software and went for some slightly different looks with the same RAW files:

(Image edited by Jason is Capture One ProDOWNLOAD A HI-RES VERSION HERE

For both images I processed them in Capture One Pro.  I adjusted levels, black point set to 40, purple fringing on and analyzed for chromatic aberration (This is a pretty standard set for me.  I also set shadow and highlight sliders but no need for this here).  I then process to tiff in 16 bit mode.

 Then in Photoshop I added a b&w layer for each image.

 For the image of the girl I toned it a sepia tone on the b&w layer.  I also adjusted the color sliders for contrast and separation of tones. Then added a curve layer for contrast.  I used a layer mask on the curve level to dodge her left eye slightly (using the brush tool to erase away the curve). Then I flattened the image.  I then applied unsharp mask to it with the following settings.  Amount 90, threshold set to 0 and radius set to 1.2. Then I converted it to 8 bit mode.

For the guys playing chess, everything was the same steps as previous image except I dodged the eyes of the man facing camera and the hair of the man who is in the lower left frame.  I toned it to look selenium.  I set the unsharp mask as follows.  Amount 130, radius set to 1.2 and threshold set to 0.

(Image edited by Jason is Capture One Pro) DOWNLOAD A HI-RES VERSION HERE

F8 COMMENTS ON ABOVE PROCESS:  This one for me is interesting for a few reasons - firstly, Jason is the most advanced photographer amongst this group, and an experienced photoshop user, therefore I think he is using the most complex route to get to his results - however, apart from the sharpness that makes the images pop, I am not a big fan of sepia and selenium toned images.  However, its very interesting to see how different photographers envision the same image and make completely different conversions.

3. Stephen's conversion - Lightroom & Silver Efex Pro 2

(Image conversion by Stephen using Niksoft Silver Efex Pro 2 and Lightroom.  (DOWNLOAD HI-RES VERSION HERE)

To me this image is all about the face and eyes (duh) so that's what I went for...

- Export to Niksoft Silver Efex Pro 2.

- Reduce overall Brightness -62%, Contrast -50%, Structure -62%.  This gives me the background I want.

- Add back control point to the face and eyes, adding brightness and some structure (mainly eyes and eyebrows)

- Export to LR4.2

I find I often end up "tweaking" images in LR again to achieve the balance I want.  This is a disadvantage of SEP2, not being able to go back and re-edit.

In LR adjust Contrast +24, Whites +24 and Blacks -28.  Also I used the spot removal tool to take away some dust spots from the headscarf.

F8 COMMENTS ON ABOVE CONVERSION:  Stephen has used a similar route to what I mainly use - Lightroom and Silver Efex....interesting how he has gone for a much darker overall feel than the others, particularly on the Burka she is wearing....For me that loses the background top right of frame which I preferred in the original shot, although I can see exactly why he has done this to create as much contrast with the face as possible, so an interesting route to edit.

4.  Ahmed's conversions - Apple Aperture

Generally, I start editing by applying the auto adjustment (in color) in Aperture on my imported images. This is always the base from which I start since I shoot RAW with the most neutral picture style. This means all sliders (saturation, sharpening, contrast ...etc) on my camera are set to zero.

 I fine tune the white balance and white and black point if necessary. For B&W conversion, I use the 'B&W' panel in Aperture instead of de-saturating. This turns the image into a "neutral" B&W. Then, I play with the overall contrast using the tone curves ('Curves' panel in Aperture), picking up the tones I want to darken or lighten in the image. This sets the global contrast. Enclosed is the resulting curve for the girl's portrait (curve_girl.jpeg).

(Conversion by Ahmen in Apple Aperture - DOWNLOAD HIRES VERSION HERE)

(Conversion by Ahmen in Apple Aperture - DOWNLOAD HIRES VERSION HERE)

 Next step is to act on individual colors present in the image ('Color' panel in Aperture). For example in the image of the girl, I lightened the red present in the veil and did so with the blue present in the eye to make the look more sparkling. I lightened the yellow present on her face as well. I tried to give the orange top of the man in the second picture a better looking but I am not satisfied with the outcome.

 Finally, I may do local contrast adjustment as I did for the face of the man and the right eye of the girl (Local definition slider with a brush in Aperture). The latter was also sharpened a bit. I usually sharpen only locally (using 'Edge Sharpen' in Aperture).

F8'S COMMENTS ON ABOVE CONVERSION:  Ahmed has used only Apple Aperture and has basically achieved strong results all round for my tastes.  I like the conversion of the woman overall, and good to see people using different colour channel mixers with black and white images to separate tones.


So my comments are above under each set of images that give an outline of my views....I think the underlying message here is that there are many many ways to get from A to B when converting an image...and its clearly about personal preference....I don't think there is any right or wrong way to do it, its all subjective what can we learn from this exercise?

Something I have learned is that the way I do this myself is for sure a little different to all of these guys above - but maybe I can try an incorporate one or two techniques from each of them to help me further develop my own styles.  In the past I've heard photographers go on about Silver Efex Pro a lot (and I use it extensively also) - but now I am not so convinced that its the best way...for sure its one of the quickest way and that works for a lot of people....I want to take another look at Exposure 4 now as Roccos conversion is my favourite here due to the way he has chose to tone it (not so harsh as I would have done myself actually, but looking at it, I prefer that now, especially how he has managed to maintain all the details in the Burka very well).

I hope this can be a useful insight, I will do a blog post with video on how I do my own conversions, mainly just using Lightroom 4 and presets which some may find useful, thats coming shortly on the blog.

 Our street photographers group on Facebook is flourishing, feel free to come and join the fun and meet the guys who did these conversions, click here to visit the group, and feel free to share the link to anyone in the world you know who's interested ins shooting on the streets and wants to become part of an active community.

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page or on the ‘LIKE’ box to the right side of this blog.  You can share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below or on the left side of this blog.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below or on the right of this post OR by clicking this link.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and photography and video training workshops, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.

EXCLUSIVE: SLR Magic 35mm 0.95 lens - FIRST LOOK on XE1 & OMD

I was recently approached by SLR Magic man Andrew Chan with regards having a play with one of his new lenses, namely the 35mm 0.95 lens....of course I was keen to have a look at it, especially knowing that nobody else has used it, so I would be getting the first 'hands on' usage for stills photography and using the new Fuji XE1 to shoot it. One thing I've hear A LOT from people is how you can't get decent BOKEH (background blur) with these smaller sensor cameras.....well ladies and gentlemen....just look at the image below, shot from about 1.5 metres away.....and then redefine your beliefs....because if thats not bokeh-liscious...then nothing is....

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG. (Thanks to Steve for posing, his photography can be seen here

This lens fits cameras from APS-H size and down, so fits perfectly with adaptors on Fuji XE1, Xpro1, and Olympus OMD.  I am unsure if it will fit onto an M Mount camera and perform correctly, if you want to know that, contact Andrew directly, I only know about it working on the Fuji and OMD as those are the two cameras I have tested it on.

Here are a few images shot by my friend Brad on his Sony RX100 of the lens on the OMD and Fuji so you can see the size of it in comparison to the camera bodies (remember this is a prototype lens, so some things will change on final versions, this should be just giving you an idea of size)

(SLR Magic 35mm 0.95 lens on the Fuji XE1, hood out.  Remember XE1 is smaller than XPro1)

SLR Magic 35mm 0.95 on the Olympus OMD)

Also to note that this is not a technical review, but simply a selection of images with links to some high res versions that show what the lens can do.  I have used the previous 0.95 50mm hyperprime from SLR Magic, and I was a fan, although it was very expensive and very heavy.  Of course this is normal for an extreme low light lens, but this lens is much lighter, shorter and although I am not sure of the final price yet, I am confidently informed that it will be in a much more price friendly bracket than the 50mm version. (Update: Introductory price will be USD$1249)

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 640, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG. (Thanks to fellow photographer Sean for posing, his work can be seen at

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

On the Fuji sensors the lens performs as a 50mm (roughly) anyway, so for me this is great, I can get a 50mm view, at a lower price, and still get bokeh that knocks the competition out of the park.  Happy days!  On my OMD it gives me a 70mm portrait lens with crazy bokeh also....again...happy days! This image below shows the lens performance on the OMD....I personally believe the lens is better suited to the Fuji.....I need more time to justify that, as it may just be that the XE1 sensor is better than the OMD 4/3 sensor...but having discussed it with a few friends when we examined the images, we agreed that the bokeh looked very creamy on the Fuji and a little 'nervous' on the OMD, although this image below shows it looks great on the maybe it was due more to the fact we were using the OMD with it in lower light...not yet sure.

Olympus OMD, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 500. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

Olympus OMD, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

As its a prototype lens, I cant comment on final build quality, all i will say at this point is it was a solid lens, a few things I dont like are that the aperture ring and focus ring are reversed, i.e. aperture ring is closest to camera, focus ring at front....felt strange at first, after having used M lenses before, however the focus ring is put at the front so it is easier to rack focus for cinematographers using follow focus systems.

There are no aperture ring clicks as its designed as a cinema lens...this is not an issue for me.  The hood doesnt lock out, it pulls out and pushes in easily, i would prefer a hood that tightens by twisting or similar...not sure if that will be remedied in the final version.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

Another thing thats cool about this lens is the minimum focussing distance, which is 23 centimetres....this image below demonstrates that close focus ability...the person walking past from left side of frame in blue shirt is about 1.5 metres away....and is blown to bokeh-bits....any background in that shot is basically unrecognisable...and creamy smooth.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

This is a very solid lens, I hope the final versions will live up to the same quality of this lens. The main thing that concerns me when I use a lens is image quality.  I can honestly say that this lens is AMAZING when coupled with a mirorless camera, in particular the Fuji XE1 or XPRO1.  Here are more samples shot over the last few days (please bear in mind that I have only had the lens for a few days walkabout, so most of the pictures may be uninteresting subject matter...I am just trying to show how the lens performs wide open at this stage).

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 800. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 400. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600. Click image or 'save-as' to get the hi-res image. (Thanks to Rob the 'Events Man' for posing, his site is

Here are a few shots taken on the Hong Kong MTR (underground train), for reference when judging distances the woman in the shot thats in focus is sat 3 places down from me.  The second shot is just across to the other side of the train, focussing on the bar in the middle of the train from my seat, the third image i just tried to focus on her watch, check the full size image....I think that gives a good idea of how it can throw out the background so easily.  All files can be clicked to access the RAW to JPEG full size shots that are unedited in any way.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.

Fuji XE1, SLR Magic 35mm 0.95, ISO 1600, click image for full size direct from RAW to JPEG.

UPDATE FROM SLR MAGIC FOR AVAILABILITY: Our lens volunteers can order ahead of time in December 2012. For the public it will be  available from February 2013.  Introductory retail price is USD$1249.

To summarise my experience over a few days, I can honestly say it seems great, some won't like the fact that its manual focus only, this is not a problem for me as I am well trained with Leica rangefinder systems so I don't see that as a problem, and fine tuning focus at such apertures is essential anyway, so I'm not sure an autofocus lens at 0.95 would be any use.

If you are interested in this lens, download the high res files and just take a is what it is......nothing more, nothing less.....I like it, and if it comes down to me buying an ultra fast lens that I can use for mirorless cameras (manual focus only), then I'll take this any day of the week.

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F8 Photography provides commercial photography and photography and video training workshops, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.