Sicily with the New Nikon D4s by Mark Seymour

Sicily with the New Nikon D4s

by Mark Seymour

My passion for photography extends beyond recording weddings, it is people’s everyday lives, cultures, beliefs and religious practices that fascinate me and inspire my documentary photography. To develop this interest I schedule photography trips a few times every year to enable me to immerse myself in new places and experiences.

I have recently returned from what turned out to be one of my most fascinating photography adventures, capturing the incredible images of a tradition Sicilian Easter celebration in Trapani and was further enhanced by having the opportunity to meet up with some great documentary and street photographers such as Ernesto Bazan.

The trip was planned several months ago after my son Jonny asked to accompany me on my next documentary project and develop his skills behind the camera. We had an amazing trip together between us we took hundreds of images, impressing me with one real show stopper image of a Christ figurine.

The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani has been performed for over 300 years and retells the passion plays through the most elaborate floats being paraded from the church through the streets of Trapani for 16 hours. We joined them as they prepared and gathered in the church early in the morning and followed them throughout the day until nightfall. The immense effort under which the men carry the floats of Christ and Mary is clear in their faces, and the whole experience is incredibly powerful for even the non-religious visitor. It has definitely provided me with many stunning images to recall my memories from this visit.

The use of black and white documentary style photography really captures the emotions of the day highlights the facial expressions that tell the story of their belief and commitment.

I have selected the key images to retell the story of the day in the following slideshow, the background music is performed by a Sicilian marching band like the ones that accompany the procession.

All the images were taken on the new Nikon D4s which Nikon UK kindly sent me for this trip.

The full post can be seen here

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  1. Wonderful pictures… I was born in Sicily so they tug a bit at the heart.

    Some friends invited me to their wedding in Norway and I’m going to make a two week photography holiday out of it. Rent a car and drive around for a few weeks. Was absolutely torn about whether to take my D810, or my A7r2 or my Olympus Em5m2…. all this arguing about cameras has decided it for me…. I’ll take the EM5m2 …because photography is about composition, light and subject matter… not gear….any digital camera made today with a 1 inch sensor or better can make fantastic images if you have those three things. (Though you can tell by the fact that I have these three cameras that I have my fair share of G.A.S.).

  2. Some very inspired shots here Mark.
    A good photo is a mix of a good light, a good framing and knowing when to activate the shutter.
    You got these three parameters right.
    Let the so called “photographers” moan about the red dot, the yellow or red strap, and keep up your excellent work.

  3. Wonderful images. Just out of curiosity, have you used the Df and compared images with the D4S (or a D4)? Do you think the much smaller Df would have taken almost exactly these same images? I’m very interested in the Df, and wonder about this… Thank you

    • Hi Mr Toad
      Yes I have used the Df, its a great camera and yes your right the images would have looked pretty much the same. The Df is certainly smaller and a little quieter where as the D4s is a full on Pro body built like a tank.
      I used the Nikon D4s as Nikon sent me the camera the week before to trial.
      I can assure you that you would be delighted with the Df.
      All the best

  4. Very impressive and full of passion, intensity and power! I would really like to see the pictures in an exhibition… chapeau! Since I´ve seen a set of an easter procession in Spain by Stefan Rohner some years ago I wanted to visit such an event, not only to take pictures but to witness the atmosphere and spirit. So many things to discover in the world.. 😉


    • Thank you Peter, I was inspired by Ernesto Bazan and decided to go out there and experience the whole parade. Im going to check out Stefan’s work. All the best. Mark

  5. Furgus, Thank you for your words. you’re so right !
    ” Find a camera whose way of working and “rendering” suits you and use it use it use it and usit it -forget about the others. Buy books about Art and study the work of photographers and be inspired. These are inspiring images -they capture Humanity -never a bad starting point”

  6. Beautiful black and white images ! what camera used? who cares? What all the gear maniacs are missing is the fact that -a good photographer using a Nikon d4 Leica 240 an M3 with Tri-x or maybe a Fuji Olympus Sony or even a HOLGA would most likely produce equally beautiful but different looking images. Each camera has it’s unique feel. The good photographer understands how his or her camera renders and incorporates this into their artistic vision. A great photograph should be appreciated for what it is and what it is not -namely should kind of challenge to your brand’s perceived technical prowess. Find a camera whose way of working and “rendering” suits you and use it use it use it and usit it -forget about the others. Buy books about Art and study the work of photographers and be inspired. These are inspiring images -they capture Humanity -never a bad starting point.

    Best Wishes

  7. yes but…in the world of the bulky and heavy devices like this Nikon.
    There is another world, beautiful one, daily admired on the Steve’s blog: the mirror-less machines with excellent qualities, size and weight!
    And most of them are good enough not only to take snap shots but also pro-grade pictures (available in tons on the net).

    It is still grate that some of you love to carry the heavy duty elephant babies and take pleasure form making all of these great (but and also sometimes terrible..) pictures. Have fun!

    • Hi Kecajkerugo

      Does it really matter what your camera of choice is ? When HCB was carrying a rangefinder others were using a plate camera. Its all about your eye and what you see.
      Please just enjoy the images or not
      All the best.Mark

      • +1 !!!
        It is all about the images, not the gear. And you are right, Mark. Not that many years ago we were all shooting ISO400 film and pushing it a couple of stops when we needed to…

        • Yes, and you need(ed) a bit of mass in the camera to allow you to use the slower shutterspeeds required even when pushing to 33 DIN. I used to do 1/8 with a 35mm; reasonably sharp… 😉

  8. Viewed the set on your website, simply stunning. Loved the music choice and timing of the images – fantastic!

  9. Great pictures. I don’t think it would matter what camera mark used, that is real talent coming through. Let’s send him back next year with a monochrome and a noctilux and see how they turn out.

  10. All the processing was done in Lightroom . Some of the images were shot at very high ISO ( 12000 ) like the guys asleep as these were taken at 5.00 am in the morning

  11. Nikon is trying hard to offer the best low light image quality on every system but your images look like you added some grain 😉 maybe counterproductive while your images still look interesting.

  12. Mark, this is some of the most impressive work i’ve seen here in a long time, both in terms of aesthetic and technical quality. Well done.

    What would you say are the attributes of the D4s that make it a good camera for shoots such as this?

    • Thank you Raoul
      Your comments are most generous
      Did u get to see the slide show on the blog post ?

  13. To add another comment, the D4’s sensor (and the D4s is no different in that respect I gather) delivers almost bitingly sharp images, as I saw when I tried out the Df, and as you can see here as well. The D800 is less capable in low light, and delivers a “softer” sharpness, with more or less the same dynamic range.

    Would you like to comment on that Mark?

    • Hi Michael
      As a Nikon man I have agree with you
      The D4s is king if low light going to a crazy 400,000 ISO . Ok it’s grainy at that ISO but when you think a few years ago we were all shooting on 400 ISO !
      All the best

  14. To add to my previous comment: I’m not a professional photographer at all, but, having been asked to do so, did a shoot last night of the opening of the exhibition of 120 seventies and eighties b&w images of Schiedam, in the old Corn Exchange. I brought my D800, the 24/1.4 and the 58/1.4.

    I was scared to death (sweaty brow, the lot), moving around as quietly as possible to find interesting angles, seeing the ISO’s go up, choosing lens and aperture, watching the main protagonists and the audience move, trying to anticipate. It was exhausting, and I have a lot of respect for photographers like Mark who can come up with reportages like this.

    Many thanks for sharing Mark.

  15. Mark, the photos are stunning, you managed to both capture the emotion at the exact moment and at the same time build composition so that the eye is directed right to the subject.
    I agree about use of B&W, this seems to be a much better choice here
    Question about the camera and the way you took the photos: the D4s is a big camera and you probably used a large lens as well, the combination of it screamed “professional reporter”. How did you get so close and get completely natural emotions? Are people used to having pros around them or did you first engage and talk with them and have them accept you as part of the ceremonies? I read an article from Steve Mccurry that it takes him hours to take a photo and that he talks a lot with his subjects.
    Thanks again for posting the photos

    • Hi Francois
      I don’t think it matters D4 or Leica m. It’s about how you approach your subject . I’m with them for ling periods so they are used to me being there but I didn’t engage with them.

        • Of course they are, they are great. The 1.4’s are pro build and a little better optically speaking, and sometimes 1.4 comes in handy. The 1.8’s as I said are great, and a bit smaller and lighter (and cheaper) as well. Go for them! 28, 35, 50, 85. Everything you could ever need is there.

  16. Canikon, Leica, Fuji, Olympus, Pana; doesn’t matter. If he wouldn’t have titled the post with the name of the camera, no one would have guessed, or cared.

    • Chris, I echo your views. Image 8 was taken on a 24 mm lens. I was only about 3ft from his face . Im not a great believer in that for Street you have to have a small discreet camera. It’s more about how you approach the subject.

      • Absolutely right, Mark. I used Nikon D2H bodies for both professional and personal work for a decade (sold them in 2013) because they became an extension of my hand and few people would notice me shooting. People talk about the “ability” of a small camera to be more discreet but I find the attitude and methods of the photographer to be the controlling factor.

    • sorry but you are totally wrong Chris … If there’s one thing i learned, hanging around Steve’s blog, it’s to be able to recognize a Nikon from an Olympus !!!

        • If you read my initial reply I did mention Leica, so your apparent lack of attention to detail is also amusing, isn’t it? I agree that Steve’s site is very thorough in the technical and file quality differences in the various brands, I still contend, disagreeing with your assertion that I’m totally wrong, that image aesthetics should play a greater role in one’s perception of the quality of an image. For this taste test, although I find the images great, they could’ve been shot with any of the before mentioned brands.

          • what can i say ? if you do not make the difference between a nikon d4 and a fuji x pro 1 … and between a leica M240 and a Olympus Em 1 … what can i say ???

            PS : rather amusing indeed, i couldn’t believe my eyes that you put a leica in the same bag as fuji or olympus

        • Does it matter what camera you use as long as you and if they are for someone else they are happy ?
          It’s about the emotion , expression and moment surely

          • Not sure what you’re getting at here, but for those that for some reason want to divert commenting on these images into a gear discussion, Peter Turnley (a Leica photographer) was there as well. So look up his images.

            And please, don’t turn that into a gear comparison? It’s so immature.

          • I follow Turnley’s facebook page as well. Love the Sicily images. Did you see his Cuba shots as well. And, btw, if you haven’t picked up his “French Kiss” photobook you are missing out…great images shot over 4 decades in Paris.

  17. Wonderful images, Mark. Image 8 is especially striking: it has subject, composition … and light. Perfect trifecta.

    Let’s see a Leica camera improve upon those images (flame suit on). 😉

    • Your last remark is rather childish. Leica hater? What is your frustration? The D4s is an amazing pro camera. It lets you do the impossible, things that can not be achieved with a Leica. But Leica lenses have definitely a more refined character. Try the best nikon 50 for example and then a 50 Summilux. These are good pictures, but in my opinion the European glass has more soul. But that’s personal. I shoot with Leica and Nikon. In this situation, I would bring my Leica, more discreet and more respectful.

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