53mm Featured by Iain Palmer

Kudo Bass Is A street photographer from edinburgh, Scotland, who like our last 53mm Featured photographer, joshua Simmons, hasn't been shooting long. In her 10 short Months of building her Instagram feed, crafting her understanding and skill of using her Fujifim XT-1 and XF35mmF/2WR lens, she has established a stunningly recognisable style that oozes notes from the master photographers.

Kudo's eye, style and aesthetic finish are reminiscent of my favourite photographer, Saul Letter and when shooting street, it would be hard not to be influenced by him to some degree. Kudo's work manifests compositions and colours as well as the feel that Saul captured when shooting his own street series. This visual prowess is what drew me to her work.

Mood and relationship are strengths in Kudo's compositions and this draws the viewer into the scenes that she records. There is a strong presence in her work that evokes emotion and the promotes the experience perceived at the time of capture from both the photographer and subjects point of view.

Isolation is another characteristic that runs throughout her work. It's a wonderfully creative expression that attempts to intertwine the human condition with the street environment, to make these places the opposite to what they really are. To change them from being channels navigating the hustle and bustle of daily life into solitary episodes with the street, gifting the viewer a chance to explore a narrative about her subjects and her shots. Kudo's photography seems to strip the busy street scene down to a very basic yet beautiful level that takes the viewpoint of lone subjects and conjures an intriguing response to their interaction with their locale. On top of that they are aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Graphic notes and touches also show up in Kudo's shots and this is an element I am particularly drawn to in photography. Lines, pattern, repetition, interesting vantage points, form and shapes and strong contrasts between these elements are explored effectively and heighten the artistic approach and punch that her images exhibit.

There is a real dedication in Kudo's photography and one will come to understand that more when reading about what she commented on about her experiences with the XF35mm F/2 WR lens. This portfolio hasn't just come about through patient persistence alone. The lengths, the distance and time spent on her native streets goes to show us what has gone on behind the scenes to capture images like she is sharing with us. The fact that she keeps a record of the distance traveled whilst making her photography brings even more appreciation to her work and an admiration in her efforts to practise, to progress and ultimately become more proficient in her work.

I am so pleased that Kudo agreed to be featured. I am very fond of her work and look forward to seeing her shots appearing more on the 53mm website when she becomes an official 53mm Ambassador Photographer, shooting for the revamped 53RD COLLECTIVE.

In the meantime, this is what Kudo had to say about her work and her XF35mm experience.

Hi, I’m Kudo Bass. I shoot street photographs in Edinburgh, Scotland, and post them on my Instagram account: @kudo_bass. I shoot ‘street’ because I love it. The whole process is like magic. It fascinates me.
With nothing more than determination and a good pair of shoes, anyone can pick up a camera, walk out onto the city streets, and pluck beautiful, surprising works of art out of the air. This still amazes me. Of course, it isn’t easy. It takes total focus, hours of practice and not a little luck; but it’s this that appeals to me - the challenge, the difficulty, the hard work before the pay-off of getting ‘the shot’.
It all started suddenly for me, less than ten months ago. I discovered Instagram on 16th October 2016, and took my first ever street photograph the next day. It was my first day in Edinburgh. At the time, I knew nothing about street photography. Coming from a quiet Scottish glen, the buzz of the city made me want to capture some of the new sights all around me. All I had to shoot with was an iPhone6, but for a complete beginner that was OK... for a while.
Since that cold, late-autumn day, I’ve walked 1,820 miles and posted 783 images. Somewhere along the way, I got frustrated with the limitations of the iPhone (mainly depth of field). After a long conversation with @joshkjack, I picked up a second-hand Fuji X-T1 with a single prime lens – the Fujinon XF 35mm F2. It’s the only kit I have. If I’m outside, the Fuji is with me – every day, everywhere. It’s tiny and light, so it never feels like a burden. I don’t even use a camera bag – I just pocket a spare battery and lens cloth. The camera and lens are both weather sealed (this is Scotland) so rain or shine, I can keep shooting.
For me, process has to take second place to time spent on the streets shooting. That’s where I’m learning the craft, not at a desk. So, no laptops, no Lightroom, no hours spent tweaking RAW files. I shoot JPEGs on the Fuji (which are beautiful), then Wi-Fi them straight from the camera to the iPhone. After a few minutes editing with Snapseed, they’re posted - quick and simple.
There’s an immediacy and purity to street photography - no need for models, dramatic landscapes, lighting setups, or travel to exotic locations. No preparation. No idea even, when you set out, what you will see or choose to capture. I love to just walk out the door, and shoot quickly, on instinct. The Fuji fits this perfectly – all the physical knobs and switches can be felt and worked quickly without even looking at them. No fiddly little menus while shooting. On a couple of occasions I’ve shot three decent candid portraits within ten seconds, with different settings, while walking down a busy street. That’s quite a buzz when it comes off!
The XF 35mm lens (53mm equivalent) is perfect for shooting street. The shutter is so quiet, even in burst mode, that taking candid portraits is easy, even in quiet locations. Up close, the lens renders beautiful, flattering portraits without distortion. I also love to use it to create cityscapes, with tiny striding figures between towering buildings. After shooting for so long with just this one lens, I can previsualise the shots without raising the camera – essential when things are happening quickly.
It makes me laugh to think – the reason I bought the X-T1 (and not an X100F) was so I could swap lenses - use zooms and primes. But, because of the sheer quality of the XF lens, I’ve never taken it off the camera!

Iain Palmer

Abundant Magazine