I am a Photographer, Director and Cinematographer located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I started my photography career about 15 years ago after leaving my career in R & D Engineering to pursue my passion for film and photography. Since then, I have photographed people around the world, directed 5 feature films, won best cinematographer and film editor awards, and was selected as a finalist in the Hasselblad Masters competition.
While I have never had the opportunity for a formal education in photography, my love for art and my great appreciation for photography drove me to learn all that I could hands on. Growing up in the UK, there were about 4 years where I would go window-shopping every weekend until I finally got my first camera; a Nikon FM2 with a 50mm Lens, which I still own.
Throughout my journey in photography, I have used various cameras in all shapes and sizes. I was never married to a brand but used what was required for the job. I started off with Nikon, and Contax (BTW the G lenses are just outstanding) and then in 2010 moved to Canon due the video capabilities.
During this time, I was also shooting with the Hasselblad H4D-50 as the quality was unmatchable. I have been a long-time Hasselblad user until a year ago, when I developed carpal tunnel syndrome, which prompted my change to mirrorless cameras.
A few years back I invested in the Sony A7R system, however I required a system that would result in the least amount of post work. As I tried and tested a few other brands, Fuji found its place at the top of my list. I now own a complete lineup of Fuji cameras, with my go-to setup currently as follows:
Fuji X-T2 – I love the physical dial layout which is very simple and logical to use, similar if not the same to my very first camera. The X-Trans III sensor provides X-Trans a more “film-like” image than the much more common Bayer with a unique quality to the photographs. In post-editing, simply using the Classic Chrome and Provia profiles in LR is just a godsend.
Fuji X-Pro2 – The retro look and handling of this rangefinder with its hybrid viewfinder is great. It is an incremental improvement over the X-Pro1 with the same sensor as the X-T2. If a rangefinder is your thing, then you cannot buy a better camera in terms of performance, handling and price point – this is the one to get.
My latest addition in the Fuji range is the Fuji GFX 50s Medium Format. It was heartbreaking when I sold my Hasselblad. Over the last few years I was missing that “medium format look” but then along came the Fuji GFX 50s. The images this camera generates are simply unbelievable! The high-ISO capabilities, shadow recovery, the stunning details, light quality and sharpness of the images coming from the GFX are just wonderful.
Fuji GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR Lens – This lens is absolutely incredible. It gives very pleasing bokeh, and even wide open at f/2.8 the detail from edge to edge is remarkably sharp. I remember most of the Hasselblad H series lenses were made by Fuji, hence I had high expectations from the Fuji GF range of lenses.
Fuji GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR Lens – At the time of release of the GFX only three lenses were available. So I opted for the 63mm and the 120mm. Sure enough, the 120mm has proven to be stunning, well built and incredibly sharp. The greatest addition to the GFX line of lenses is the Fuji GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR Lens, and in all honesty I would trade the 120mm for this 110mm in a heartbeat (although the Fuji GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR Lens is on my list for the GFX).
Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD version (equivalent to 85mm on full frame) – This is one of the best portrait lenses I have ever used and it stays on my XT-2 100% of the time. I have a special place in my heart for Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM which I still own and tend to use from time to time. Hence, I soon bought a Fuji XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR Lens to replace the Canon 135mm. The depth of field on this Fuji is spectacular. It creates a beautiful rendering of the out-of-focus areas while still being tack sharp at f/2.
Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 R (equivalent to 35mm on full frame) – This lens pretty much lives on my X-Pro2. A great sharp lens, it is fast to focus with great performance in low light. I chose this over the 23mm f/2 due to the slightly narrower depth of field over the f/2 lens.
Fuji XF 35mm f/2 R WR Lens – Despite focusing faster than any of my other XF lenses and producing stunning images while being so light and small, it is not used as much as my 23mm and 56mm.
Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens – This is a very great lens. It is built like a tank and is tack sharp. This is used when I’m on a shoot that requires a gun and run shooting style. It’s brilliant if you are a wedding photographer.
From time to time, we all get the urge to go back to basics. For this, my kit includes the Hasselblad 501cm body, 80mm f/2.8 T lens with hood, and A12 film back. It’s a solid construction with a timeless design that just feels first class in your hands.
When I feel like really relaxing for the day, I reach for my 4×5 Linhof Kardan ST-E with the Rodenstock 210mm f/5.6 Sironar-N MC and Rodenstock 65mm f/4.5 Grandagon N MC Copal Lens.
Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer – I love this little printer. It fits into my pocket and I am able to print from anything with Bluetooth capabilities. Mainly, I tend to use this for my creative pre-production. I like to see a printed reference on a sheet rather than flipping through pictures on my OS devices or a computer screen. I guess I’m a little old school in that sense.
My Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478D-U Light Meter is a great little meter that’s good for video film, cine and flash, even with its touch screen from the 90’s.
Elinchrom Quadra Living Light Kit with Lead Battery, HS Head and Transmitter
Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octabox (100cm/39in)
Rotalux Octabox 135 cm (53in)
Elinchrom Digital Style Combo 600RX Two Monolight Kit
Profoto Beauty Dish
iMac Retina 5K, 27-inch, with 64GB RAM – 2016
MacBook Pro – Touch Bar and Touch ID, 3.1GHz Processor, 512 GB SSD Storage, with 32GB RAM.
A 256GB – 2.9-inch iPad Pro with Apple Pencil – This replaces my Wacom while I’m on the road.
People have been my prime subjects. I had the opportunity to travel within India for a short period of time photographing local tribes. My submissions from this project led to me being selected as a finalist in the 2012 Hasselblad Masters competition.
I have been a low-key photographer until the recent few years, exploring the social media networks to get my work out there.
My biggest and proudest moment has been in having one of my images selected to be featured on the opening page for adobe.com. I have been commissioned to produce stunning imagery and marketing material through film and photography for the fashion and commercial industries worldwide.
My work is very personal for each client, and I don’t think there are bad pictures or compositions, it’s just how we perceive what is good or bad. We often feel time never stops and I feel photography allows us to keep a moment from running away.
This recent update to my Shotkit profile is mainly due to the fact that I am concentrating more on Portraiture and Fashion, with a change over to a great Fujifilm system.
Inside Bal’s camera bag:
I have never had the opportunity to study photography in any school or institute. My background is more technical involved in the High Tech Engineering fields. I always had love for art and a great appreciation of photography. Growing up in the UK was tough, with family making ends meet. I would regularly go window-shopping for about 4 years every weekend until I got my first camera, a Nikon FM2 with a 50mm Lens, which I still own.
My Photography career really took off once I had moved to Vancouver. During my journey in photography, I have used various cameras in all shape and sizes. I was never married to a brand but used what was required for the job. I started off with Nikon, and Contax (BTW The G lenses are just outstanding) and then 2010 moved to Canon due the video capabilities. During this time I was also shooting with the Hasselblad H4D -50 and there isn’t a DLSR that will match the quality.
Just due to the hype, recently I invested in to the Sony A7R and the Sony 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss lens. Within a few days I was hooked and it has become my go-to camera. Contax G glass (Contax 28mm f/2.8 Biogon, the Contax 35mm f/2, Contax 45mm f/2 Planar and Contax 90mm f/2.8 Sonnar (is just beautiful on this compact body(. Although I have a complete Canon Kit including Canon 1Dx and a Canon 5D MkIII with primes lenses, including Canon 35mm f/1.4, Canon 50mm f/1.2 and a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II with various accessories but the Sony kit lives in my Bilingham 225 classic bag 100% of the time.
I just ordered the Sony A7 as a second body.
People photography has been my prime subject. I had the opportunity to travel in India for a short period capturing local tribes and my submissions were selected as a finalist in the most recent “2012 Hasselblad Masters” competition.
I have been a low-key photographer until the recent few years, exploring the social media networks to get my work out there. I have produced imagery and marketing material through film and photography for the fashion and commercial industries worldwide. My work can become very personal. I’m always looking to bend light to give that perfect look. I don’t think there are bad pictures; it’s just how we perceive what is good or bad. We often feel time never stops and I feel photography allows you to keep a moment from running away. People are certainly my cup tea in terms of subject and I’m always thinking “will my pictures express what is that person thinking at that very moment?”
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.
– Erma Bombeck
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