When Things Go Wrong

Learned a valuable lesson yesterday.  I was shooting interiors the other day, experimenting with a single flash along with a slow shutter speed to pick up some ambient light. When I was done with the experiments I was able to put away all the gear I had out to take the shots.

Christmas Table

Because I was primarily using flash, I was in manual mode ISO 400 F10 1/60second. While I put away all the lighting gear I did not reset the camera to the standard aperture settings. So when I came across this unusual recreational vehicle in a parking lot I was so excited to capture images that I didn’t check my camera settings and ended up with way over exposed images. I have only the photographer to blame. I may have to fire him.

Vixen 21TD

By the way this is a 1986 (I think) Vixen 21TD camper. It is complete with bathroom, kitchen, and a BMW turbo diesel motor. It was from a small Michigan company that only lasted 3 years. Interesting vehicle, so blown out that the only way I could even try to save it was to turn it to black and white.

Still kicking myself over this one. Moral of story, reset your camera to your standard setting after every time you use something different in the settings. Don’t wait. Or alway shoot in manual mode so you know you need to set the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed with each image shot.

So if anyone has a Vixen they would like photographed please contact me. I can do the job right (I hope).

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

Common Sense Take on Digital Versus Film

They say when sensor size reached 16mp that digital cameras out resolved 35mm film. You can now make images with more informational density than you ever could with film. I’m now shooting with a 24mp cropped sensor Fujifilm X-T2 which has great resolution when paired with the right lenses. I’m pretty happy with that.

Tree Of Life (with kangaroos) Fujifilm X-T2 XF 50-150

I’m not sure I understand why some people insist on shooting film. Some say this is because they feel that shooting film is a more real experience. I’m not one of those people. I did do film back when film was all there was. Other than the moment you take the film out of the final rinse and see that there are actual images negatives, the whole process takes a lot of time with, in my case, not that much success. I have to admit that working out of a bathroom was not the most complete setup for developing film.

On the film side they say that having the limit of 36 images in a roll makes each image more precious and forces you to take your time getting the intended shot. That there is something about the silver grain that makes film images special. I have seen some wonderfully processed analog film images. I’ve also seen a lot of digital images that have been wonderfully processed. And that most of the wonderful analog images I’ve seen have only been viewed digitally.

I guess the real difference is that some people like to explore the craftsmanship of mixing chemicals and keeping to time and temperature regimes. That may be the difference between analog and digital processing.  A different set of craftsman skills needed. Because when it comes down to it making the image is the artistic part of the process, developing it is the craft part of it.

Shooting film is, as it has been since the first long ago exposure, determine the exposure, click the shutter,  capture the image. Which is just like the digital process, exposure then click.

The post processing part is what is different. While analog printing is still being done, a lot of  processed film negatives are being digitized, imported into Lightroom or Photoshop and then turned to positives for output to the web or a digital printer.

So the real difference between the two is just the chemical processing of film. Everything else pretty much comes out even.

As to the forced slowing down of the process when shooting film, you can do the same thing with digital. You can force yourself into slowing down your digital shooting. Give yourself a limit of the number of frames you can shoot in an hour. Say it takes an hour to shoot 36 exposures on film, which, by the way, works out to one image about every two minutes. Give yourself the same challenge with your digital camera. Expose no more than 36 frames on your digital camera in one hours. Process and work to getting the good shots in the 36 frames.

Still at some point the digital image will succeed where the film image might not. Here is a 100% detail of the Tree Of Life image. The detail retained by an camera sensor and lens from 75 yards is truly amazing.

Tree of Life (with kangaroos) 100% detail

I think I’ll stick to the digital images and spend the saved development time to expand my skills as a photographic artist.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR at Amazon

3 Uses for Lightroom’s New Reference Photo Feature

This past week Adobe released Lightroom CC 2015.8. The new release has some fixes, new camera profiles, and a new feature that allows you to compare the image currently being processed in the Develop Module against a reference image. The reference image can be another image including another copy of the same image. The reference images is not modified by any changes to the active image. I’ve come up with three reasons (there are more) to use this reference feature.

  1. Compare image as processed with all the tweaks you need against the straight out of camera image or unprocessed raw image.
  2. Compare image as finished processing in Lightroom with an image that has been further processed in Photoshop or through a plug in.
  3. Compare image in color versus black and white.

Here are three images to further explain what I would use each reference photo for and other details.

Compare straight out of camera image.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 50-140mm F2.8 ISO 200 F4.5 1/440 second 50mm

The active image is a raw file that has my normal camera profile, sharping, and vibrance adjustments. I then made a virtual copy of the image and clicked on the reset button to put the virtual copy to the default processing done when Lightroom imports my Fujifilm X-T2 raw file. This zeros all the sliders and sets the camera profile to Adobe Standard. I would use this one to verify how the eye moves thru the processed file that might not be evident in the unprocessed file. Does your Lightroom processing do enough to invite your viewer in?. You could also use this feature if you are shooting in Raw+JPG mode and see how close you can come to the image processed in camera to jpeg.

Compare image with Lightroom processing with image processed in Photoshop.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 50-140mm F2.8 ISO 200 F2.8 1/300 second 50mm

I usually use Photoshop to apply any plugins to my images. I open the image in Photoshop as a Smart Object then apply any plugins. This work flow means I can go back and tweak the image any number of times as the Photoshopped image is added to the catalog as a psd or tif. In any case you can reference your Lightroom processed images against all the changes in Photoshop. Depending on the image I can sometimes overcook the plugins in Photoshop. Having the Lightroom processed image give me a chance to go back into the Photoshop image and fix any issues I had with the processing. Once again does the processed image succeed at moving the eye around the image as you intended?

Compare image in color versus black and white.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm F2.8 ISO 200 F8 1/640 second 31.1mm

Sometimes you need to look at both color and black and white to determine which is better for the story you are telling. Create a virtual copy of the processed color image then convert to black and white within Lightroom or a plugin. In this chase I applied the Fujifilm ACROS+R camera profile to the virtual copy. Of course because you made a virtual copy you can have the best of both worlds. In this image I like the black and white because it removes the distraction of the red shirted guy in the left of the image and the people a little further up the river also on the left.


Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2
 Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR at Amazon

1st rule of photography

The first rule to apply when shooting urban images is from the great Jay Maisel . Jay aways says don’t include signs in your images if you don’t want people to read them. The eye naturally goes to the words in an image and may detract from the image’s story. Which is not to say that you should never shoot an image with a sign in it.

Eat Here Fujifilm X-T2 XF50-140mm ISO 200 F2.8 1/850 second at 74.4mm

Just make sure that the sign is the story you are telling.

Shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR at Amazon

Manufactured Landscapes

There is more than one type of landscape photographer. Natural landscapes to me are when you have a scene where nature itself has built the stage and it is up to you to find the right view to present the emotion of the landscape. Another type is Urban landscape where there the scene is built for you with function as a more prominent part. Sometimes the urban setting is gritty and worn. Architectural landscapes work with the architects forms to present buildings as art.

Then there is Manufactured landscapes which I find fascinating. In a manufactured landscape the object is to replicate a natural, urban, or architectural landscape. The resulting objects purpose is to evoke the emotions of places and things is a way that is familiar.

I like taking images of these manufactured landscapes because someone has gone to a lot of trouble to take you visually to somewhere else. Be it urban or pastoral the object is to let you feel like you are in a place. Disney’s Imagineers are masters at this.

Jungle (Imagined) Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm ISO 200 F8 1/160second 37.6mm

The above image is just a look from one bridge that you can walk on to another that is just for show. But I love this image. The color, the forms and the patina of this location is just stunning. A manufactured landscape in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Entrance Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm ISO 200 F2.8 1/110 second at 35.3mm

This manufactured urban landscape is another example of the detail needed to pull off being some where you really are not. I haven’t a clue with the sign about the door says but looking at it I feel transported to a feudal Japan. Hint this in the Japan World Showcase at Epcot.

Manufactured Landscapes even work as a still life. While it is nice to be able to go to where the landscapes are sometimes you have to look at what is presented to you.

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

Using the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

They say the best camera is the one that you have with you but I say it is having the best lens for the job is what really makes all the difference. Around my house we get some rather exotic looking birds from time to time. These Wood Storks were sitting in my back yard a couple of days ago. The didn’t seem to mind me taking photos of them, at least for a few minutes.

Two Storks X-T2 ISO200 F5.0 1/450 second zoomed to 243.3mm

When the birds do come by its nice to know you have a lens that can capture them in full glory. I think Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is a great addition to the Fujifilm line of outstanding lenses. I purchased mine with the Fujinon XF1.4X TC WR 1.4 factor teleconverter.

Stork Standing X-T2 ISO 200 F5.6 1/170 second 400mm

Strangely, shortly after purchasing the lens and teleconverter  we suffered through a very hot dry summer that kept the birds away, but that is another story. Anyway the XF 100-400mm is one of Fujifilm’s red badged premium lens. It has a rather high price tag unless you compare it with some of the other lens manufacturers. Right now (before Christmas 2016) it is on sale for $1699 most places.

The lens is big and heavy compared to other Fujifilm lenses but not overwhelming. In my hand I can carry my X-T1/X-T2 with the lens attached with in one hand while I’m walking around. It balances well with three fingers on the grip. The range of the camera on the APS-C is from 150mm to 600mm which gives you plenty of reach. With the 1.4 teleconverter is reaches out to 800mm. I do most of my shooting (granted with good light) hand held with the 5 Stop OIS image stabilization system. When you are all the way out to 800mm you do sometimes need a bit more of a foundation like a tripod. At 400mm the max aperture is F5.6 and at 800 the max aperture is F8 but that should not be an issue, just find enough light.

Speaking of the tripod. The lens does have a collar mount so that the lens itself can be mounted on a tripod. The foot of the collar is not very big and may cause some issues with mounting it.  I have not had an issue with that but some have complained.  It is much smaller than the foot on the Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR lens.  When mounted on the lens foot there is a lock off so you can turn the camera between landscape and portrait mode which I think all lens should have (but not realistically).

The lens focus is quick especially with the X-T2 and using the continuous zone focusing can produce some very sharp images. There is a lot of detail and the contrast and color is quite good. This is an all round good lens. I don’t have any images of birds in flight as my skills in panning need a refresher course or maybe just a complete do over. Nothing to do with the lens.

Snowy Egret X-T1 ISO 200 F5.6 1/1600 second 400mm.
X-T1 ISO 200 F5.6 1/1600th of a second zoomed to 400mm
Stepping Out X-T1 ISO 200 F5.6 1/950 second 400mm

Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR at Amazon
Fujinon XF1.4X TC WR at Amazon
Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR at Amazon

Images and Rules

Light and Shadow
Light And Shadow

This is an image I shot on my recent vacation. In this shot I was able to visualize the outcome before I even framed it up in the camera.  I knew what I wanted to capture and was able to get the result I was looking for.  The Mrs and I were sampling a bit of Merlot in the Italy Pavillon at Epcot in Walt Disney World.

I saw the shadow on the wall which show the lighter areas of the sun passing through the glass of the lamp. I liked the tonality. I shot a couple of shots and this was the one that best matched what I was seeing.

Emotionally I think the image has impact.  The balance was good and the colors match what I saw as I was sitting there.

Afterwards I was thinking about photographic rules and which one I had followed and the ones I broke.  I shot this about 1pm on a crystal clear day.  It wasn’t about waiting for better light as the light I has was perfect to creating the shadow of the lamp.  I think I may have got the rule of thirds about right as the lamp itself was in the upper right third while the shadow was in the lower left.

If all you can say about an image you took is that “I Nailed the rule of thirds” that rule probably doesn’t matter.  What really matters that the image tells the story.  In this case it did for me.

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

ISO 200 F11 1/600sec 42.7mm