Friday, February 28, 2014

Fuji X-E2 shots at the Southwestern Photojournalism Seminar

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/1300 
 These are all JPEGs right out of the camera from my time here in Fort Worth, Texas at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference.

Tonight was the start of the student workshop.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/85
These are some photos of my friends and trying out the Fuji X-E2.  My friends Bob Carey and Ron Londen both had the X-E2 and had just bought the news X-T1 camera. I have been only able to play with their cameras.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/60
Enjoy the photos and see how great the camera does on Auto-White Balance and shooting JPEGs.

By the way I do have a RAW file for each of these as well.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/110

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/240

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/210

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/220

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/220

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/200

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/210

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/280

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/170

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/160

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/150

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fuji X-E2 with XF 55-200mm vs Nikon D4 with 28-300mm

Fuji X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/90
I didn't set out to compare these two cameras and lens, but just ended up shooting both of them.

There are a couple of variables that doesn't make this a perfect comparison.  I like shooting AUTO ISO on both cameras.  You cannot shoot RAW on the Fuji above ISO 6400 and so the camera is set up with that being the highest ISO, whereas on the Nikon D4 the high ISO default is set to ISO 12800.

Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/125
Both lenses have a vibration reduction system turned on and both were hand held during these photos. One thing of interest is the Fuji XF 55-200mm when zoomed all the way in gives you the same focal length proportion as the Nikon 28-30mm when it is zoomed in. The difference is the ƒ/4.8 on the Fuji verses the ƒ/5.6 on the Nikon.

Focusing performance was superior with the Nikon as compared to the Fuji. I had them both set to single frame focusing verses continuous. Both were on AUTO focus looking for faces.  Fuji would hunt every single time. The only way to stop that was to go to manual focus.

The one thing I can say about comparing the two cameras is I love the Fuji results better than the Nikon, but the Nikon is far superior for catching moments. The Fuji is trying to decide if the subject is in focus too often.

Here are two photos with the Fuji X-E2 and the Nikon D4

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 3200,  ƒ/4, 1/500
Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/125
Couple photos just from the Fuji X-E2

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/2.8, 1/500

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/105
I think if you are trying to nail a moment just right the Fuji takes a moment too long to lock in on the focus as compared to the Nikon system.

If you are carrying the Nikons all day long as I was doing you then know why I am so interested in making the Fuji system work--WEIGHT.  I think I could deal with the small delay of the Fuji system for the weight I would save carrying them all day long like I have been doing covering a meeting.

If you are used to being able to shoot sports as I have with a auto focus system as quick as the Nikon D4, then you will be a little disappointed in the Fuji. However if you never shot with the best Nikon systems, then you might be OK and not notice the delay.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fuji X-E2 is great for meetings

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/3.2, 1/500
I am on my feet for the second day of a four day meeting. The day starts around 6 am and goes past midnight every day.

Walking around from place to place with gear for this many hours can take its toll on you.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/2.8, 1/500
The Fujifilm X-E2 holds together the dynamic range that I am seeing regularly at this meeting. I love the color and the detail it is capturing.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/4, 1/500
My only regret for this meeting is I only have the one Fuji X-E2.  If I had two I could run around with just two lenses and pretty much get everything I need with the cameras. I would keep the 18-55mm on one camera and for the second camera I would have the 55-200mm.

Of course the only downside I see with the camera at the moment when comparing it to my Nikon D4 cameras for this event is the battery life. So, I am going through about three batteries a day.

The best part of carrying the cameras all day long would be the simple fact of the weight and size. I feel so much better if I all had were two of these cameras and two main lenses.  As soon at the 10-24mm comes out I would add this to the other two and have everything I need to cover meetings.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Photographers: How to turn a "Cold Call" into a "Warm Welcome"

No matter if you are using a phone or meeting someone in person who you do not know you are "Cold Calling." Now if you play it right this could be a "Warm Welcome."
COLD CALLING is the sales process of approaching prospective customers or clients—typically via telephone, by email or through making a connection on a social network—who were not expecting such an interaction. The word "cold" is used because the person receiving the call is not expecting a call or has not specifically asked to be contacted by a sales person. A cold call is usually the start of a sales process generally known as telemarketing.

WARM WELCOME is a hearty, hospitable reception or greeting, as in We got a very warm welcome when we finally arrived.
My friend and I have met with a few photographers who are struggling these days. Today we had lunch with another newspaper photographer who had been laid off. Sadly this is happening a lot these days.

First of all this feels like crap for anyone going through this and I have been through it two times. We wanted to let the person know from the get go that this has nothing to do with their skills but was most likely a numbers game. When that happens you often will see some folks who kept their jobs while you lost yours and it is hard to see the logic.

The great thing about this photographer is they are taking their time to asses their situation. They are also not sitting still either. This photographer had already created categories that he will put later on his website. Personally this photographers work was awesome. I wish I had all those images in my portfolio.

The photographer had some names of folks he was going to call. This is great that he had a portfolio just moments from being on his website and had some contacts already.

Between my friend and I we had about 70 years of experience. This tip we shared with him didn't exist for us until later in our careers.

What to avoid

The surest way to hit a dead end with a potential client is to ask them questions that are simple "Yes" or "No" answers.

Do you have any photography jobs that I can help you with? The answer is "Yes" or "No."

What to do

Ask questions that are open ended and more about the person and less about you and your photography. For someone just laid off they can call up someone and ask if they would meet with them. They explain that they were just laid off and would like to pick their brain.

Ask questions like from your experience if you could go back and start over what would you recommend to someone like me? People like being asked for their expertise and they most likely will talk to you.

Asking them for guidance and suggestions creates a sense of you seeking advice which is much different than you asking for a job.

Some of the best folks to talk to are those who also went through a layoff themselves.  Surprisingly you will find many folks have been through this before. Most of them have a great deal of empathy and will offer some words of their wisdom.

Ask them before you leave if their is someone else that they recommend you talk to that could help them. Ask then if they mind if they told the new person that they referred them, most of the time they will and this will help you get that next appointment.

Asking someone to look through your work and recommend how they might arrange it is a great way to get your work seen and keep the dialogue open with them.

You are starting a relationship

It is much easier to follow up with them and say you listened to them and took their advice. You have done some things and wanted them to review with your the changes you have made. Again, no need to ask for work.

Actually the best advice I could ever give here is a simple observation. Those who are genuinely interested in building lasting relationships with people and not just using them are the ones who are the most successful in life.

If you ask for all this advice and never follow up to show the person how you listened and would like them to see what you have done, then they know you were there only for a job and not a relationship.

Tom Kennedy the director of photography at the time for National Geographic had Don Rutledge my mentor contact him and ask to take him to lunch. Don continued to every few months stop by and just enjoy lunch with Tom. Tom would also do the same thing with Don after a while.

One day Tom asked Don why he had never asked for work from Tom. Tom then said that Don was the only photographer he had ever met that ever did this. Tom discovered that Don was truly interested in just having a friend.

You see many people through the years had done the same to Don that photographers had done with Tom. They were not interested in a friendship, they just wanted a job.

My long term goal for my career is to one day be working with my friends.  Guess what--that day is now for me. The reason is I really did want a relationship with people and not just their money.

Great Photos Often Start With Dramatic Subjects

Fuji X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/105
How can you go wrong with a fire eating subject? Well if you miss the exposure maybe, but if you get a well exposed photo of something average and then something more dramatic you get the idea of why start with a more interesting subject.

Fuji X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/140
Look for things like this Luau in Kona, Hawaii for example.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 640, ƒ/4.5, 1/100
For this Fire Knife dance I photographed him at Truett's Luau in Fayetteville, GA.  So, you don't always have to go to Hawaii to get your photo.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 640, ƒ/5.3, 1/3200
Now later I photographed the same guy the following day, but this was outside in the sunlight. This should help you see how much a location and lighting can help a situation or not at all.

Personally I think to make your photos better, don't light everything. This is why when they turned off all the stage lights and let the fire dancer be center stage that the photo is more dramatic than in the bright sunlight.

Without flash. Photo by Clara Kwon

With off camera flash. Photo by Clara Kwon
In these two photos you can see how Clara Kwon had no flash and then by adding flash helped to make the subject "pop." She is not lighting everything and the rest of the scene is slightly darker which helps the subject stand out.

Remember to pick interesting subjects and try your best to put them in the best light.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/22, 1/13 with two Alienbees B1600 with CTO being triggered by Pocketwizards

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Student's work from the YWAM School of Photography 1 2014

Photo by Clara Kwon
These are examples of the students work from this past week on lighting that I taught in the School of Photography 1 which is part of Youth With A Mission's University of the Nations campus in Kona, Hawaii.

This was the first time for most everyone in the class to use studio strobes.

Without flash -- Photo by Andrea Klaussner

With flash -- Photo by Andrea Klaussner
They learned how to use off camera flash on location. The assignment required them to hand in one photo without a flash and one with it. Some of the students photos looked better without a flash and sometimes there are times you don't need a flash they found out.

 Without flash -- Photo by Lizz Busby

With flash -- Photo by Lizz Busby
The bread and butter assignment for a photographer is the environmental portrait. Being able to take a poor lighting situation and improving it was the purpose of the assignment as well as to know how to make it.

The students took a baseline photo without a flash and below the sync speed for their camera. Then they made a flash reading setting the strobe to be one stop greater than the aperture reading without the flash. They then only changed the aperture to the one stop great aperture that the flash is set. They were also encouraged to see if more power from the flash was better for the photo.

1:3 Lighting Ratio Assignment

You can see the assignment the students were given here in an earlier blog post. Basically they needed to have the main light [key] at 45º from the camera, with the model looking straight into the camera. We did this to help them see the shadow across the nose. They then had a fill light one stop less than the main light.

They could use different backgrounds from White, Gray or color.

Photo by Debbie Smit

Photo by Erik Wuesthoff

Photo by Keziah Khoo

Photo by Lizz Busby

Photo by Oo Shinoda

Photo by Melissa Kelsey
I think the students all did a great job and in less than a week each person had a potential of a couple of photos to add to their portfolios.

Monday, February 17, 2014

12 week photography workshop for those who believe photography to be a calling

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/280
Dennis Fahringer has been leading a photography program in Kona, Hawaii for more than 25 years. I first heard of the program back in the 1980's from my friend and mentor Don Rutledge.

Don was leaving on a trip to do work in Hawaii and at the time Don worked for the International Mission Board for the Southern Baptist. I joked with Don and asked what Hawaii had to do with international missions since it was a state.

This is when Don told me he was just teaching at the Youth With A Mission's University of the Nations campus in Kona, Hawaii.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ4.8, 1/250
Some of the past guest speakers that Dennis brings in for every class have included Gary S Chapman, Louis Deluca, Joanna Pinneo, Don Rutledge, Patrick Murphy-Racey, Gary Russ, Anacleto Rapping, Ron Londen and many, many more.

Most of the students are just starting out. The ages range in the class from 17 to 69 for the class I am presently teaching. Most of the classes I have taught the majority are from 18 to 30.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/25
Dennis has collected a large selection of books and videos for the students.

Dennis shares with his students many of his notes he has collected through the years on photography using Evernote app.  Dennis has shared some 3,700+ notes with the class that he has in Evernote: just short of 30,000(!) Just this alone is worth the price of admission.

If you are really wanting an intense photography program for twelve weeks then this is it. Before you can take this class you must do a DTS.  This is a 12 weeks lecture phase, plus 10-12 weeks outreach phase, thus 6 months total.  This is a Discipleship Training School where for part of your time will be a cross cultural experience. Many of these DTS groups go all over the world.

In my present class we have nine different nations represented. Those perspectives are great when learning photography.

Dennis has created a webpage for you to learn more about the program here.

Many who take the class go into business as photographers, other may use this in missions and even some just keep it as a hobby.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Photographers: The Best Of Times Are Often The Worst Of Times

Nikon D3S, 14-24mm, ISO 320, ƒ/13, 1/180
My oldest step-son Nelson Lalli [he is in the center front row] chose to go to The Citadel, a military college. He chose to go to a school where for the most part students are paying to be yelled at and pretty much humiliated as I saw it for most of their entire freshman year. At The Citadel this year they are called Knobs.

We all know that the reason they teach this to the military is that they learn to follow orders and this is critical to the success of the military.

Later Nelson decided his Junior year to try out for the Summerall Guards.  Now if you think being a Knob was hard, the comparison is like thinking of your Knob year as a cake walk.

Nikon D3S, 28-300mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/6.3, 1/320
The Summerall Guards must do all that the rest of the Corp of Cadets is doing plus all the extra physical and psychological torture [well to an outsider] they do. He had to listen to orders while their was someone yelling into his ear just inches from his ear.

You know what they talk about as Seniors? They tell all the stories from Knob year and if they were a Summerall Guard they tell those stories as well.

Great storytelling requires tension. You must have something to move the story along. What is great about a good story is it is rememberable.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/45
 The students I have been teaching in Hawaii have instructors sit with them and pour their wisdom out to them every day.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/3.6, 1/110
However years later many of these students will remember more about their kitchen duty than from a devotional that someone led, because of the stress that comes from dealing with difficult situations and overcoming them.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/8
Late into the evening you see students all over this Youth With A Nation campus studying and trying to get everything done for their assignments.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/110
Here you can see three students in my class working together trying to grasp how to set up three different lights: The Main; The Fill and Background. Each light had to be set for a different power and the Main and the Fill light needed to be one stop different.

Not only did they have to get the lights set they had to get a custom white balance. Now when they had all this technical stuff they still had to work with a model and get a good expression as well as have a good composition.

They were stressed. They continued to come to me. Rather than me just giving them a quick answer, I often asked them questions. The stress you could see going up on their face. Then as Keziah Khoo experienced there was a eureka moment where they got it. The joy on her face made all those struggles worth it.

The difficulty of the class and then mastering the subject made her feel good about what she now knew how to do that she could not do before.

The reason I wrote this today is to let those of you who are experiencing a lot of stress to know that these times will be remembered and as you make it through these tough times the fact that you survived alone makes for a great story.

When your life is boring it is because you are most likely not challenging yourself and growing in knowledge.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/500, Exp Comp -1
While many people love a great sunset, I love a great sunrise. I love the fresh air and a fresh start to each day.

Funny how sleeping on something that was insurmountable yesterday is not so bad the next day.

Look at your challenges as opportunities that are making your life one exciting story to read.