Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review of Fuji X-E2 Camera Body Update Ver 3.00 and Camera Remote APP

Two changes happened today for my Fuji X-E2. New firmware update and the second is a new app that lets you remotely control the camera. The photo above show the APP on my Motorola Turbo Android phone and the Fuji X-E2 next to it on tripod with the 18-55mm lens.

X-E2 Camera Body Firmware Update Ver.3.00 

Details of the update:
1. AF+MF–function enables seamless manual focusing. After half pressing the shutter to autofocus on the subject, fine adjustment can then be made using the manual focus ring. After playing with this I did find this to be a really valuable upgrade. It works great. You must be in Single and not Continuous Focus Mode.
2. Enhanced wireless function for shooting from your smartphone or tablet devices*
By downloading the free FUJIFILM Camera Remote** app to your smartphone or tablet devices, users can use the Remote Control function, which allows a wealth of control, even from a distance. This functionality is great for a wide variety of shots, including group photos, self-portraits and animals in their natural habitat.
* Android™, smartphone and table devices, iPhone / iPad.
** After updating the Firmware Version 3.00, FUJIFILM Camera Application app cannot be used.
Requires installation of FUJIFILM Camera Remote app to your smartphone or tablet devices

FUJIFILM Camera Remote
3. New Classic Chrome Film Simulation DID NOT TEST
The X Series' Film Simulation modes represent Fujifilm's wealth of experience in color reproduction technology. "Classic Chrome", which delivers subtle colors and beautifully muted tones reminiscent of vintage reversal film, has been newly added to the existing selection.
4. Interval timer shooting DID NOT TEST
The new Interval timer shooting function allows X-E2 users to capture time lapse photography. Set the starting time, the shooting interval (1 sec. to 24 hr.) and finally the number of frames (1 - 999), and the camera does the rest.

Here the screen grabs from the app:


The APP connects with the camera much faster and reliably than the previous APP. The APP will disconnect you from your present Wi-Fi connection and look for the Fuji X-E2.

Overall if this were the only improvement this would be great. 

Once connected you can touch the screen for where you want the camera to focus as long as you are in AF mode.  You can control all the functions of the camera that I could test.

There is not a real time action as I had hoped. There seems to be a little delay. This is not due to Wi-Fi and the reason I know is that the Nikon D750 which I am comparing does a far superior job connecting and controlling of the camera.

I commend Fuji on upgrading my Fuji X-E2, however I wasn't ecstatic about the performance given what I am able to do with my Nikon D750.

While I am very thankful for the Fuji Firmware upgrade that Nikon seldom does on their cameras–I am not impressed with the performance as compared to their competition like the Nikon D750 W-Fi camera.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review of Battery Grip Holder Pack For Nikon D750

I decided to save some money when buying a battery grip for the Nikon D750 and bought an off-brand.

On Ebay I found High Quality Multi Power Battery Grip Holder Pack For Nikon D750 Vertical Camera for $78 and $10 for shipping from overseas. Here is the LINK

It comes with two types of battery holders. It works with six AA batteries or or EN-EL15.

The grip fit just fine onto the Nikon D750 and everything works just great.

Most of the dials are duplicated onto the back.

The Sub-Menu dial is on front just like the camera and shutter release as well. Lightweight and I like because I prefer the vertical grip when shooting verticals and adding a little more balance to me for the lenses.

Everything works just great and that is all the pros I can think of right now.

Cons–Even after turning off the camera and the grip the battery will drain just sitting around in the grip.

The Nikon MB-16 is still available for pre-order. Here is that LINK. Price is $369. If you will be bothered by the battery draining then save your money and buy the Nikon MB-16.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Photographers may need a class in IMPROV

Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640 
All these photos were taken at Roswell High School's Improv Troupe "What's the Buzz?" performance on December 5, 2014. That's my daughter in the blue shirt on the left above. I guess you can tell I am proud of her.
In business today it pays more than ever to be able to think on your feet. What better way to train yourself than to learn how to do IMPROV.

Tina Fey is a famous alumnus of The Second City. The Second City is an improvisational comedy enterprise, best known as the first ever on-going improvisational theater troupe in the United States (Chicago) and Canada (Toronto).

Tina Fey boils down the rules here in her book Bossypants.
The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created.  
Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.
Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640 
Robert Kulhan is an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and said to CNN, "Improvisation isn't about comedy, it's about reacting -- being focused and present in the moment at a very high level.” The first rule of improv is a Worldview perspective that lets you join the client where they are at the moment.

In business you really don't have control of what happens. IMPROV teaches you how to work as a team and learn to go with the flow.

Tina Fey says the second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND.

The YES, AND principle in performance improvisation it means listening to what someone else says, accepting what they say, and then building on that. In business terms it means accepting any idea that's brought to the table and then taking that idea further.

Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, Sigma 2X, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640
Critical Thinking

The problem with many people in business is they put Critical Thinking often in front of brainstorming and creative thinking. You need to first have an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance for new ideas to come forward. The analysis paralysis takes place if you jump too quickly to the critical thinking.

Tina Fey says, “Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion.”

The third rule Fey talks about is one that I really get tripped up on in business situations.
Third Rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. 
In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. 
Try and be the fly on the wall in your own business situations. Listen to yourself and self audit your comments and body language.
Rule four–THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. 
Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, Sigma 2X, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640
Better Listener

You will not know how to respond to others when they finish if you have not really listened to them. How often do you talk to someone that is just waiting for you to finish talking so they can say what they already are planning on saying? Improv teaches to listen attentively… not just for words but for emotion, intention, point of view and so much more.

Saying yes to things that you would normally sabotage, will help you believe in yourself and you own ability.

IMPROV also teaches you to embrace your emotions. These emotions in business help to to connect with others.
“Some people misunderstand improv….It seems that improv is all about being funny. But it is not. Improv is about being spontaneous. It is about being imaginative. It is about taking the unexpected and then doing something unexpected with it….The key is to be open to crazy ideas and building on them. And funnily enough, this is exactly what is needed if we are going to make our enterprises more creative and agile.”
– Paul Sloane
The Leaders Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills
Rules of Improv

1. Always Agree and Say Yes–You are required to react to whatever your partner has created. In real life you will not agree to everything, but this helps remind us to respect whatever your partner has created. At least start from an open-minded place. Start with a yes and see where that takes you.
2. Yes AND–Add something of your own. Don’t be afraid to contribute. Always make sure you are adding something to the discussion.
3. Make Statements–Asking questions all the time makes your partner have to come up with all the answers. Statements are your way of being part of the solutions. Don’t stand around pointing your finger at obstacles. Make statements with your ACTIONS and your VOICE.
4. There are no MISTAKES just OPPORTUNITIES–In improve there are no mistakes only beautiful happy accidents.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nikon D750–Wreaths Across America

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 125, ƒ/8, 1/125
Today is National Wreaths Across America Day. This organization was formed in 1992 to:
REMEMBER the fallen
HONOR those that serve and their families and,
TEACH our children the value of freedom.
- See more at: 
Nikon D750, 14-24mm, ISO 320, ƒ/9, 1/30
These are the ceremonial wreaths. The ceremonial wreaths represent each branch of the military service including the POW/MIA and Merchant Marines. The one closest to the camera is the MIA, which I had the honor of presenting.

The letter sent to my grandparents stated that the U S Marine Corps "regretted to inform that 2nd Lt. James Stanley Leary, Jr., 2-G-23 Fourth Marine Division..had been declared Missing in Action while engaged against the enemy on the Island of Saipan, Marianas, in the Pacific."

[To get this photo I was able to use the tilting Vari-angle LCD to put the camera way low and look through the LCD to compose on the back of the camera. Love this feature and used it again on the photo below.]

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125
To capture this wide of a dynamic range I shot the photo in RAW and then when in Lightroom slid the slider on the highlights to -98 and the shadows to +76. Here is what it looked like before I adjusted the photo:

While Nikon has many settings that will get you some pretty incredible JPEGs out of the camera, they still do not compare to shooting RAW and then working on the image to tweak and fine tune your image.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 360, ƒ/8, 1/500
In this photo I didn't use a flash because I was too far away. This is 250mm full-framed, but put me a good 20 or more feet away. However the dynamic range that was caught I was able to again open up the shadows and tone the highlights for an acceptable photo.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 140, ƒ/8, 1/250
I did increase the saturation using Adobe Lightroom's vibrance and set all the photos to +27.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125
One more thing which I actually do first after ingesting the photos into Adobe Lightroom is to enable profile corrections.

Lens Corrections is a tool within Lightroom’s Develop Module that allows fixing such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and perspective correction “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. Keep in mind that lens correction is not a simple fix that applies to any lens – corrections are lens-specific. Since each lens model is designed with a unique optical formula, lens corrections must also be uniquely customized for each model.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200–Popup flash used 0 EV
One family asked for a photo and when I saw the man's hat I took the lens shade off the 28-300mm and then popped the flash up on the Nikon D750 and filled in the shadows. While I could have done an OK job using Adobe Lightroom to open up the shadows the flash added a catch light in their eyes. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Photographers there will be failures–How do you turn them into success?

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/80
We had a group of about 25 photographer who gathered to hear Bob Rosato is the Chief Operating Officer of USA TODAY Sports Images.

To start off our time Gibbs Frazeur Atlanta based freelance photographer opened us up with a moment of reflection.

A good number of those attending have all been through being laid off due to budget cuts over the past few years. Gibbs pointed out how this can be for each of us a "fresh new start" for us. This is a much better way to look at our new new situation rather than just Wallowing in Self-Pity.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/320
Bob Rosato gave us a peek behind the curtain of USAToday's Sports Desk. He helped us first to see that no matter who our clients we need a system that must be in place that meets their needs.

Bob walked us through the workflow that they have designed for covering events. Using PhotoMechanic they ingest images into their computers and go through a filter process that puts the very best images into picks folder and then from their narrowing down those image they will move to their online Content Management System.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/250
The system is always being tweaked to improve the speed and efficiency. Using "Code Replacement" is a way to improve the accuracy of spelling the names of players and saving keystrokes to get images in a timely fashion. Want to know more about "Code Replacement?" Here is a link where you can learn how to use this tool with PhotoMechanic here []

Nikon D750, Nikkor 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/320
"Bob what happens when Murphy's Law strikes? Can you tell us of a time when things didn't go as planned?" was asked to Bob and his response was you learn the most at those times. When things are going well you are not as likely to get better. It is when things go wrong that you learn from those mistakes.

Bob and Gibbs messages at that point collided for me. It is when we hit bottom that we are able to look at our world from a different perspective. We are forced to see our world different.

Later during our 5-Minute shows, Jason Getz who was laid off last December from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution shared a photo that he would have never taken had he not gone through this experience.

He had to shoot weddings and in the process learned some new skills that he applied to one of the games.

When you feel like things are all coming apart and you are hitting bottom you have an opportunity for a "Fresh Start." Take a good look at what brought you to this point. Not every time we hit bottom is it because we failed–sometimes those who we produced work for are no longer able to afford your services.

Like a tornado that just hits without warning and destroys a home, that family now has a "Fresh Start" and has to rebuild. You may however see that maybe there are things you did that in the future you will avoid or handle differently–you learned something valuable.

The most successful most likely have failed a few times. If you haven't failed then you are not taking enough risks and most likely producing mediocre work. Take risks and push yourself.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 28-300mm, ISO 7200, ƒ/3.5, 1/60
Why talking to other photographers is a great way to learn?

Gibbs Frazeur and Johnny Cochran had not seen each other in 27 years when they were both students at Ohio University. Gibbs lost a great job years ago and can relate to what Johnny Crawford went through after being downsized out of a job at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.  Having someone come along side you while you are going through a tough time makes the journey not as lonely.

We learn from each other than just from making mistakes. Our colleagues can help shed light on things that they have experienced.

Hopefully we will meet again soon and catch up with each other. The best part is seeing people who have overcome those "Murphy's Law" moments. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Big Reveal for Photographers

The Big Reveal

This is just another example of exposing for the sunset which creates a silhouette of a person and then using your flash to reveal the subject.

Most photo books call this Fill-Flash, but the silhouette reveal language that Dave Black coined I think does a better job of describing what is happening. That is because the flash here becomes the main light and not a fill light.

Here is the lighting diagram for the photo above. I also has a CTO +1 gel on the flashes. They were held in place with the MagMod system.

Here is the photo without the flashes. How I wish I had the outfit that is behind him in this photo also in the other photo.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Making the most of your Fuji X system

If you are reading this because you saw this might apply to the Fuji X system then you need to invest in Bill Fortney's A User’s Guide to the Fuji X-System ebook. If you are thinking about the Fuji system then this is the best $9.95 you will spend. It will help you navigate all their cameras and lenses. The best part is Bill speaks as a pro and his words of wisdom may help you from purchasing something that you might regret and then he gives you tips on things you might need.

Most people who write these kind of books have drunk the Koolaid of the company and really over sell the brand. Bill Fortney loved Nikon and I never felt like he was over selling Nikon.

Now if you have ever been to photo shows you may have met Bill. I remember many times standing across the table at a trade show talking to Bill about the latest cameras and lenses.

The book A User’s Guide to the Fuji X-System is written in that same voice I listened to for so many years.

"Nope not yet!" is one of the quotes about the system. Honest that the camera doesn't do all that his Nikon System does.

Fortney even says, "What kinds of photography is the X-System not my first choice for: Heavy duty sports shooting Birds in flight – extreme wildlife action.  I didn’t say you can’t do this, I just think there are better systems for it!"

He is honest and the advice he is giving will save you lots of time and money figuring out how to get the most out of the Fuji System.

He does go on and tell you all the great reasons Fuji is worth the investment and how it is saving his back for one.

With Bill's permission here is one of the pages to give you a sneak peek into the ebook.

There are a lot of examples for everything he talks about.

Bill's Nikon Gear
By the way, Bill still owns his Nikons. He just wrote a blog being sure you understand how the Fuji system is a tool and not the only tool he uses. Here is that blog link []

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Key to survival: Variety of assignments for 2014

Nikon D4, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 200, ƒ/16, 1/200 with 2 Alienbees with CTO 1 for off camera flash. These are triggered with the Pocketwizard Radio Remotes
I went back and looked through my assignments from just this year in still images and pulled some of my favorites. It had me jumping for joy.

I feel really blessed this year.

Take a look at some that I pulled from the year in this package:

While I did everything from Sports, Portraits, Studio, Travel, Events, Theater and other that I cannot remember I even did videos as well this year.

Here are just a few that I did this year.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Transition Tips for Staff Photographers to Freelance

Nikon D750, Nikkor 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/640
I had coffee yesterday with my good friend Robin Nelson []. He is one of the few freelancers that I know that most of the time is in good spirits.

When staff photographers lose their jobs many of them will call Robin and some have even called me looking for advice. He is always working for someone and has done so for more than 30+ years. Staff photographers basically want to do what Robin is doing–shooting assignments.

Successful photographers like Robin do something for other photographers–they bless them with the jobs they get called to do and cannot.

Robin gets calls and emails asking him if he is available and instead of just accepting and turning down assignments Robin solves the clients problem. If he is busy he finds someone for the client. Editors come to see Robin as not just a great photographer whose style they like, Robin knows other photographers who can meet their needs if he is busy.

I know of a few other photographers like Robin. Michael Schwarz, Billy Howard, and Gary Chapman are three other photographers I like referring work to when I cannot do it.

We all have these conversations with those who just lost a job or even newbies to the industry.

After our coffee time I decided it would be great to share what Robin and I would like to tell Staff Photographers who just lost a job.


1) Losing the staff job is like going through a divorce. Being on a staff is like being married and being a freelancer can feel a lot like being single again. We recommend using those same techniques you used to court someone. Just like seeing and meeting a drop dead gorgeous person that you are sure God had destined for you, that person may not be aware God told you that.

2) The movie "Runaway Bride" is a predictable, but fun romantic plot about the importance of knowing and loving oneself before beginning the journey of marriage. You really need to know all that you have to offer to a client and not just your portfolio. Maybe you are a history buff and this can be a great asset to some clients.

3) Accept Rejection – Derek Jeter during interview about his career said he was really blessed to have a job that allowed him to fail 70% of the time and consider him successful. Successful business fails more like 85 - 90% of the time. Good rule of thumb is that for every 10 people you contact only 1 of those will be interested.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/400
4) Court your clients – Don't ever take your clients you have for granted. Keep the fire in the relationship.

5) Ideas are more important than your portfolio. All your clients and potential clients have a job to do. They have a problem to solve. You pitching ideas that solve their problems and not your perception of what their problems are is what will keep you busy. While great stories should be told, the channel for telling that story is not every channel. Just because you find a story in the clients audience it still must address the problems that they are tackling at the moment.

Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-300mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/6.3, 1/250
6) Learn how to be a REAL friend. Number one key element to a good friend is someone who "listens." You know they listen because all the words out of their mouth after you have talked communicate understanding and compassion for where you are in life. Calling and pretending to be interested in wanting to know me and because I don't have a job for you right away you never call again is a great indication you are shallow and only interested in yourself. The client needs to be someone they can trust with their problem.

7) Don't call only to ask about work. Contact your clients when you hear of something they may be interested in. Send them a card on their birthday.

8) Don't become a problem. When the client calls and offers a job say yes you can do the job or no. Don't start telling them all the things you need to move around.  Do your very best to solve the clients problem without them knowing you had to get a babysitter or move some personal plans around. Saying I need just a minute to check my calendar and can I call you back in 5 minutes is OK. Then call in five minutes. Take that 5 minutes to solve your problems to accept the assignment, or find someone who can and then call them. I am sorry I am booked but my friend Michael Schwarz is available will be better than babbling on about your problems on the phone or even in emails to them.

9) You are starting over. If you have been shooting 6 - 8 assignments a day or even just one a day those days are over unless you get a staff job. Extremely successful photographers are maybe shooting 100 assignments a year. That is averages to about 2 a week. Starting out you may only have a few assignments that first month. You also will have times of feast and famine. You may work really hard for a couple weeks and then go a month or more with little or no work in those first few years of freelancing.

10) Find a mentor who is a successful photographer. Be sure you treat them like a friend and don't just use them. Offer to take them to lunch and you plan on paying for their meal. Don't try and get everything for free from your mentor. Remember they are giving you valuable information that will not just save your money but help you make more money.

Here are more posts that talk about business tips as well:

Friday, December 05, 2014

Shooting Christmas ornaments with Nikon D750

A fun thing to shoot this time of year are ornaments on a Christmas tree. Our ornaments all have a story with each one and how it helps us spend the season of remembering.

Here is the basic setup I did for the photos in the slideshow here. Take a look at each photo and the settings. [Click on the arrows on the side of photos to move forward and backward. You need to put your cursor on photo to see them.]

I shot all these with the AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. I recommend shooting with a tripod to get the sharpest photos.

I started the project thinking that maybe the Nikkor 85mm ƒ/1.8G would be the lens for the examples, but here is the result with that lens:

Nikon D750, Nikkor 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 2200, ƒ/1.8, 1/200
As you can see getting as close as I could with the lens gave me this view.

Nikon D750, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200
Comparing to the Nikkor 28-300mm I quickly saw that the zooming in the lens to 300mm and getting as close as I could gave me a much tighter shot.

Be sure you click through the slideshow and notice the depth-of-field changes in the first four images move you through ƒ/5.6, ƒ/8, ƒ/11 & ƒ/16. Basically I noticed that while the bokeh looks great at ƒ/5.6 the ornament was actually out of focus on the back part. I was very careful to focus on the soldiers in front. With the Snoopy ornament you will see the depth-of-field is so shallow you might think I shot is out of focus.

The tip is simple shoot a little higher aperture to be sure the ornaments are in focus. Shoot with a tripod and unlike what I did, go ahead and shoot with a lower ISO.

The last photo is shot with fill flash. I put the Nikon D750 pop-up flash in CMD mode. I made it not flash and then on Group A I used my Nikon SB900 set at -1EV.

Nikon D750, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/60–off camera flash with SB900 triggered by CMD flash mode of the D750 -1EV
Tips Summary:

  • Use Tripod
  • Use your lens that will get you closest to the ornament and fill the frame
  • Shoot test of different apertures
  • Use aperture that works best so ornament looks in focus
  • Use off camera flash as an option. Shoot with and without and use the one you prefer.