Go Vertical

When you build a panorama you can end up with a lot of pixels, sort of like using a bigger sensor. When creating a panorama don’t forget about going vertical.

Trees

This image was built from 4 images starting at the top and working down. The panorama was stitched together in Lightroom. Full image is 5132 x 6428 pixels or about 34 megapixels. Shot with the Fujifilm X-T1, a 16mp camera. You can build large image files using panoramas, don’t just think left to right only, think up to down too. Click on the image to see the full 11mp jpeg.

Fujifilm X-T1 XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

With the Fujifilm X series cameras you can build a panorama in camera. You can even choose the direction you will move. The in camera panoramas are produced as jpegs.

The Myth of Megapixels

This is an image I took with my 24mp camera. It’s an OK 6000×4000 pixel image. A bit out of balance and busy.  But if you look at the right most flower there are some colors and textures that caught my eye. So I cropped the image to about 2500 x 2500.

20160918-_dsf0140

I like the way this image came out.

Flowers

I never saw this as something I would print big. So this image is basically just for output to jpeg for the web. The export from Lightroom is 1600 x 1600 pixels. It really doesn’t lose anything as we went dow from a 24 megabyte file to a 1.2 megabyte file.  We really don’t need really big megabyte files as we end up throwing away a lot of the resolution was we reduce the output to a manageable file.

Granted I should have seen the potential of the single flower and cropped in camera.  All in all we seem to throw away a lot of power of the high gain image makers.  So the Myth of the Megapixel is just that, a Myth. Or we can get more into making prints where we can used all those megapixels.

Shot with Fujifilm X-T2 Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

ISO 200 F11 1/250

 

 

 

Get Inspired Get Focused

There is so much good to viewing other people work but there is caveats in that statement as you need some sort of filter as to what is good work to view. I’ve found one of the best places to see work that has merit is the Photo+ blog PDN Photo of the Day. I’ve just gone through a number of the past photographers of the day and got inspired.

When I look at others work I see the things that I need to focus on in my own imagery.  Take for instance Nancy Baron’s Palm Springs>The Good Life Goes On. I notice her use of color and there is nothing in the images that she doesn’t want to be there. There is a wonderful sense of stillness to her image.  It’s not that I want to get on the next bus for Palm Springs so I can duplicate those images. It’s the inspiration to focus on making images that have meaning and story.  Time to get to work.

Common Sense Review of the X-T2

I ordered my Fujifilm X-T2 the day it was announced last July and was shipped one of the first units on September 8th (thanks B&H Photovideo). I thought I would write up a fancy review for my new gear but I realized that I couldn’t be objective in that I’m not a reviewer, I’m an owner. I’m on my third Fujifilm camera in the last 2 years.

Fujifilm X-T2
FujiFilm X-T2

So as an X-T1 user and lover was the update to the X-T2 worth it? Of course it was although I do have some thoughts on if you should upgrade too that i’m keeping to the end just to keep you in suspenders.

So in the meantime here are my thoughts on the upgrade to the X-T2.

Sensor – I am happy to report that the larger sensor does not lose any of the qualities that the previous 16mp sensors possessed. As expected the detail is better because there are ½ again as many pixels. Because the new sensor has the same footprint (APS-C) as the previous ones a little care must used in hand holding the cameras just like other higher megapixel cameras which will pick up every little vibration. It’s just the nature of the beast. The X-Trans III process is also very good. Having the additional film profiles for ACROS really completes the X-Trans . The X-T1 Monochrome profiles were OK but pretty generic. Those profiles are still present along with the new ACROS profiles. I’m not much of black and white shooter but the ACROS film simulations are so pretty.

ISO – For the most part I’m using Auto ISO when shooting. I have my max ISO set at 3200 with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 second. I’m not a big proponent of usIng high ISO’s on any camera. Other than photojournalism or bad selfies at a dimly lit party I think there are few real excuses for using really high ISO. That being said i’ve had a pretty good experience shooting the Disney Christmas parade handheld at ISO 6400 although the best picture I got shows that I could have lowered the ISO as the shutter speed ended up at 1/300 of a second. Any noise presented can be cleaned up easily by your standard off the shelf software.

Hook
Hook – ISO 6400 F2.8 1/300

Joystick – The joystick is the thing that you didn’t know you needed until you get one. Like a lot of photographers I would keep the focus at the center of the image. I would then set focus and move the camera for the composition. The problem with this focus strategy there is a chance (in my case, a good chance) that moving the camera even a little bit changes where the focus lies. On the X-T1 I did move the function button to display the focus grid to the bottom d-pad button so that it was easier to move the focus point. Still it was awkward. Now with the Joystick if find moving the focus point much easier and I am more likely to move the focus point rather than the camera. That being said I am a left eye shooter and occasionally my nose does get in the way of the joystick.

Dials and Buttons – I guess I just got used to how the dials on top of the camera worked on the X-T1 and I occasionally get things backwards when adjusting the ISO and Shutter speed buttons. I’ve started to come around but once in awhile I push the buttons when I don’t need to and it causes a bit of a stumble when changing stuff. Moving the video function to the drive dial was a master stroke. I never did have issues with the buttons on the pad and I’m not having any issues on the X-T2.  I have one problem in that I can not figure out how to do back button focus on the X-T2. I may have to get out the manual.

Movies – I have not done any movies on either the X-T1 or X-T2 so I can’t really compare the movie making abilities of either camera.

Upgrade– As to if you should/need to upgrade to the X-T2 if you have the X-T1 the answer is yes but with an if. If you already have the premium lenses, the XF 16-55 and or the XF 50-140 and maybe the XF 56mm and the XF 90mm then by all means do the upgrade. You images will only get better. If you can only afford to upgrade lens or camera get the better glass first. The image quality of Fujifilm red badged lenses is so good that you can work magic with the 16mp of the X-T1. If you are doing movies or have the good lenses already then the next logical step is the X-T2.

Fujinon XF 50-140 F2.i R LM OIS WR

 

Purchase at Amazon

The Instagram Conundrum

I’m really conflicted by Instagram. Everyone says as a photographer you need to be on Instagram for the exposure and that is probably true. The problem is that Instagram doesn’t make it easy as a photographer to post pictures and once posted Instagram’s interface leaves a lot to be desired. If you are using Instagram as a portfolio you need to have absolute control of the image before it is posted.

First off is getting your images to Instagram. Unless you take your images directly on your phone and do all your post processing there you have to jump thru hoops to get you images published. If I have a choice between processing an image on a profiled 27″ monitor or a smart phone screen I will pick the monitor 100% of the time. My workflow for getting a image on to Instagram is as follows.

  1. Process image in Lightroom and (if necessary) Photoshop on 27″ iMac.
  2. Publish jpeg to a Google Drive Folder then wait for image to sync.
  3. Open Google Drive on  Nexus 7.
  4. Navigate to the same Google Drive Folder.
  5. Click on image to load it to device.
  6. Click on the three dots in upper right of image.
  7. Click on Send Copy To
  8. Choose Instagram.

This will bring up the image in  Instagram. You can then change the crop from square to correct aspect ratio for the image. You can also apply one of the Instagram filters although I can’t see any reason for changing the image that you have already processed. Then add your caption and post.

While this will get your images into Instagram there are a number of things about Instagram’s interface that still bug me. Like the fact there is no way to quickly get back to the top once you’ve scrolled down through the stream of images from the people you follow. On the web based Instagram you normally can click on the header of a page for a refresh but not with Instagram. You can not zoom into an image to get detailed look. On the iPad/Nexus 7 you can only view the images in portrait mode which means an iPad with a keyboard attached makes it very hard to enter text for captions as you have to sort of tilt your head to see what you’ve written or try to type accordion style with one hand on the keyboard. And on the  iPad you can look at the images at 1x, the same size as an iPhone, or at 2x which reduces the quality of the to fill the screen.

Instagram seems to make it much easier to post a badly lit over processed selfie then your good work.

Well I’m glad I got that off my chest. And BTW my here is link to my Instagram account.

For those of you wondering how I publish directly from Lightroom to the Google Drive here is how I’ve got things set up in Lightroom’s Publishing Manager.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-12-10-48-pm

 

Carnival

Carnival

Even with the best of intentions you sometimes get really interesting images by accident. I apparently did not have the tripod head tightened down when I clicked the shutter. The camera drooped down during the 2.5 second exposure.

Which brings us to the point that when you have 2.6 seconds to play you can make some interesting images. Another possibility would be to zoom the lens during a long exposure. Always experiment, always be looking for the unexpected. There is no such thing a a mistake once the shutter button is pressed.

Equipment used for this image:

Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR at Amazon

Fujifilm X-T2 Camera at Amazon

Shot at F16 2.6 seconds ISO 200.

Space Coast State Fair (At Night)

Ferris Wheel
Ferris Wheel and Jupiter

I went outside my comfort zone this evening and visited a fair  not far from my home.  Tonight I went as a photographer rather than a fair goer with a camera.

Setting up a camera on a tripod in the middle of fair was not something I was comfortable with although now that I’ve done it I don’t have any clue why.

Swirls
Swirl

I was using the Fujifilm X-T2 and the (I’m going to say it again) fabulous XF 16-55mm 1:28 R LM WR lens.

If you are going to be shooting the fair at night I suggest getting there before it gets dark so you can get a look around and line up possible shots while you can still see. In my case the fair opened at 5pm so I had an hour to walk around before it got dark.

For the first hour I was able to shoot aperture priority with auto iso set with a max 3200 and shutter speed of 1/125 second as my limits.  This got me plenty of good images. With the fairly wide angle XF 16-55mm you can get a nice sharp image at F4 with plenty of depth.

Ballon Pop
Ballon Pop

This image shot just after sunset 17mm at F4 1/125 second ISO 2000. It holds up well.

Swing
Swing

Once the sun when down I switched to ISO 200 and set the aperture to anywhere up the F22 and let the camera set the shutter speed using matrix mode for exposure. This one F5 for 1/7 second.

Ghosts on the Midway
Ghosts on the Midway

Also, don’t be afraid of having people in you shots even if it gets a bit ghostly.  This is one of my favorite shots. Shutter speed was 5 seconds here at F11.

So get out of your comfort zone every once in a while and enjoy what you can do with your camera.

Equipment mentioned in this post:

Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR at Amazon

Fujifilm X-T2 Camera at Amazon

Analyze This.

Oak GroveTo get better at your photography you need to shot a lot,  process a lot, and analyze your images a lot.  At one time I would have been proud of this wine bottle image. But as I grow and learn I find things that didn’t work out on this image. By analyzing your images you work towards making stronger images. You also learn things about how you see and teach yourself to see better.

So what is wrong with this image?

  • Probably the most glaring thing is the lack of light on the shoulders running up to the neck. This is due to the subject being to big for the light tent I had it in. I used at strip box on each side defused thru the sides of the light tent.  The dark space is caused by the diffusion material not being tall enough. I need to get a larger diffusion panel for each side.
  • The base of the bottle was sitting on the floor of the light tent which blocked the light from hitting the bottom of the bottle. Solution is to raise the bottle above the floor with on a platform slightly smaller than the bottle. This will allow the light to wrap all the way to the bottom of the bottle giving definition to bottom edge.
  • The gold band around the neck of the bottle goes black in the middle. This could be corrected by using a small reflector aimed at the band from the camera position. Probably a small silver reflector would brighten the gold band.
  • This is the wrong bottle to use as there is a seam that is visible along the neck to the shoulder of the bottle. It’s there on the left side if you look close enough. Where it is located makes it hard to erase digitally. If your going to produce the best picture make sure you have more than one example so you can find the best one.

I do get a pat on the back for having a pretty clean subject. I cleaned off all the finger prints before shooting.

Shot with:

Fujifilm X-T2  Buy Here

 

The Need To Shoot

Watch this video by photographer Valerie Jardin this is 4 minutes 37 seconds of images she has shot of people smiling. Ms Jardin has excellent photography skills and is worth a follow, and her work reminds me (a should you to) that you can never make too many images. Get out and shoot.