Festival No. 6 (without a mirror)

September 15, 2014  •  2 Comments

Advance warning! May contain Geekery! 

It was a few months ago that one of my picture editors asked if I fancied covering Festival No. 6 in North Wales for them. After taking a quick look at the festival website, seeing the kind of festival it is and finding out that the venue was (obviously) Portmeirion, I agreed but suggested that I cover it more as I want to as opposed to just being there for the music acts (as I was for V Festival).

Shortly after that I had a meeting with Nathan from Fuji UK to look at and discuss their latest offerings. A quick play with the X-T1 and 56mm lens and an idea formed in my head; Festival No.6 would be the perfect event to trial the X-T1 and lenses (especially as Portmeirion is built on a steep hillside).

ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014Portmeirion on the Sunday morning.

So this is how I found myself travelling to North Wales for my last festival of the season as many of my friends and colleagues headed south to the Isle of Wright for Bestival.  In the back of the car were my X-Pro1, X100 along with a loan X-T1, lenses were the 10-24mm, 14mm, 23mm, 56mm and 55-200m added to my 18-55mm and 35mm lenses (all in a single backpack). I took a bit of a risk, packing no SLR back up at all as I am a firm believer that when testing, if you give yourself a backup as soon as something (however simple) goes wrong, the backup will come out and nothing will be learned. 

So after sorting the tent and pass(es) it was time for a wander around. It was soon clear that a) many were already enjoying themselves and b) this was going to be good fun.

ATMOSPHERE PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 05/09/2014ATMOSPHERE PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 05/09/2014Dancing to electronic dance music on the hotel terrace.

The first test on the main stage was Neneh Cherry and it was here i experienced my first problem: the quite well known “frame number full error”. I sort of remember the fix having experienced it on my own X-Pro1 when I first got it but could not remember the solution fast enough, so I resorted to the Pro1 with the 55-200. Before the problem though I took this on the T1 with the same lens.

NENEH CHERRY PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 05/09/2014NENEH CHERRY PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 05/09/2014Neneh Cherry plays Festival No. 6 on 05/09/2014

After the set, the problem was quickly solved and I carried on. Moral? Always check settings on any loan equipment thoroughly (I had replicated the shooting settings from my Pro1 but nothing else).

The rest of the weekend carried on without any major issues although there were a few niggles (lets get them out of the way here):

  1. I love the dials on the top of the T1 BUT i found that adjusting the ISO and the shutter speed often left me changing the "drive" mode or "metering mode" also. I wish the locking button on the top locked the lower ring as the detents on the top dial were sufficient to stop accidental tweaking.
  2. The buttons are just a touch too small, I could see issues trying to use the camera in the winter and there is no way it would be possible with gloves.

So how come the EVF is not on the list? (surely as EVERYONE hates the EVF to start with!) Well actually, there is a slight lag but I found I got used to it within a few hours and am pretty sure that most of the shots I did miss, could not be attributed to it. It does change how the subject is viewed though the viewfinder though, it does add a layer, almost obstructing the relationship with the subject, however what it adds is objectivity and the ability to know the shot will be as you intend (exposure/depth of field) before you take it. This led to me taking far less images with the resultant editing being far far quicker (due to having to do less to the images), 

LONDON GRAMMER PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 05/09/2014LONDON GRAMMER PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 05/09/2014Hannah Reid of London Grammer plays Festival No. 6 on 05/09/2014

An early start on Saturday morning (after breakfast). ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 06/09/2014ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 06/09/2014Bacon cooking at the Quay.

Wandering around photographing more atmosphere as it really is the events and cameos that take place away from the stage in the village that make this event really special (of course coupled with the surroundings). 

ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 06/09/2014ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 06/09/2014Floating artworks in the estuary. Picture by Julie Edwards

Given the location and the name of the festival, there had to be some "Prisoner" related action which included The Six of One Society (fans of the TV series The Prisoner) re-enacting a famous scene featuring human chess.

ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 06/09/2014ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 06/09/2014The Six of One Society (fans of the TV series The Prisoner) re-enact a famous scene featuring human chess.

My favourite of Saturday though was without doubt the quirky and mysterious "Lampshade Ladies". Photographed well into dusk and beyond this act was a photographers dream, the surrounding crowd though was of course the opposite; a photographers nightmare. Lucky the smaller cameras made moving through a crowd far easier as despite carrying 2 cameras and 5 lenses, all my equipment was on a Think Tank belt

The lampshade ladies start off in the swimming pool

The lampshade ladies walk through the streets of the village back to the hotel..

Both these images were shot on the 56mm/F1.2 on the XT  which along with the 14mm on the Pro1 had become my standard walk-around setup (I did not really have any focus issues with the kit shooting this which might have been expected).

The next morning, more bacon and more walking which included some general library views of the Village and Hotel (including the 1st image above). It's easy to forget that whilst all this was going on, there were a number of stages dotted through the woods, on the seafront and of course the main stage in the field. As you will have gathered by now, it's not only music at this festival and in the picturesque woods i found "Sanctuary", an interactive immersive soundscape by award winning artist Caitlin Shephard where participants listen in the woods. 

ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014Atmosphere during Festival No. 6 on 07/09/2014 at Festival No. 6, Portmeirion. Sanctuary, an interactive immersive soundscape by award winning artist Caitlin Shephard where participants listen in the woods.

The main stage included the classic "Martha Reeves and the Vandellas" on the Sunday afternoon.

MARTHA REEVES AND THE VANDELLAS PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014MARTHA REEVES AND THE VANDELLAS PLAYS FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014Martha Reeves and the Vandellas plays Festival No. 6 on 07/09/2014

Finishing off on the Sunday night was a parade featuring "Spark!"

ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014Atmosphere during Festival No. 6 on 07/09/2014 at Festival No. 6, Portmeirion. International Illuminated Drumming Corp SPARK! perform amongst the crowd . Picture by Julie Edwards

Again, a really difficult crowd to move throughout getting a position rewarded me with a really good set of images, with the 14mm on the Pro1 and the 56 on the XT. I had the X-Pro set to 3200ISO as I knew this was a good setting where the images would be more than good enough, however I turned the XT up to 5000 and the 6400 and I have to say once i got the images back to the pc, I was astounded. This image has a very slight lift in exposure and cut in hilights, other than that it's a JPG shot from the XT (I only shot Jpegs all weekend as I know these files are fantastic from these cameras).

ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014ATMOSPHERE FESTIVAL NO. 6, PORTMEIRION, UK ON 07/09/2014 International Illuminated Drumming Corp SPARK! perform amongst the crowd

I learnt a few things over the weekend, the first of which is that Festival No. 6 is a "must do" addition to the calendar. 

As for the XT and lenses? I think I can summarise that the XT is far better than I thought. Thinking with the caveat of what I was shooting and how I work, my belief before that weekend was that it was likely to be 2 generations away from being able to replace my DSLR's, it's not, if Fuji listen (as they have been listening in the past few years), the next generation could nail it.

My next surprise was that my "walk around" set-up became the 14mm on the X-Pro and the 56mm on the XT. Most of my working time my cameras have zoom lenses mounted for flexibility but here, despite testing the 10-24 and having my 18-55 with me, I automatically opted for these 2 primes.

The biggest sticking point for me (and I think most press photographers) is the flash and hotshoe. We could do with a slightly faster sync speed but the nail in the coffin for the red carpet events I cover is that the flash is not enabled in the continuous shooting modes.

However for many events I cover, these little systems would be an absolute blessing; the lenses are crisp, the colours and files are lovely direct from the camera and in difficult lighting (focussing aside) the EVF is a real boon in getting it as you see it quickly. In fact I have an event I am booked for in the 1st of October where I know I will miss the X-T1 and 56mm, or maybe I won't  ... lets just see what transpires...

A full gallery of images from the Festival can be seen here..


Comments

Davy McDonald(non-registered)
Hi Julie,
Discovered your site(s) via FujiUK Tweets.
Love your work, superb photos - you've a good eye for composition and beautiful light.
Also, being a convert to Fuji myself, I'm appreciating your breakdown and analysis of the cameras & techniques. I have a basic kit that works well for my needs: an XE-2 (usually sporting the 55-200) on one sling strap & the X100s on the other. Between them these two cameras allow me to cover lots of different opportunities. I particularly love the X100s, a beautiful camera to use and the IQ is always excellent. Would love the 56mm for the XE-2 when I can afford it, but deliberately bought only the 18-55 & 55-200 to cover most needs with minimal lens changing. Have to say that these 'standard' zooms are better than any kit lens I've ever used.
So far the Fujis have even greatly alleviated the dreaded 'GAS' since they do their job so well.

Thanks
Ann Parry(non-registered)
WOW! I so enjoyed your North Wales Festival No. 6 photos, Julie - both the gorgeous, varied photos and the story behind them.

Love the lighting throughout, and I plan to keep in mind how you used 14mm (prime). Never thought to bring my ultra wide (zoom) to an event to help work around - well, actually, in front of - crowds.

Such a captivating, atmospheric event!
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