Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fuji X-E2 with Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 vs Nikon D750 with Nikon 28-300mm

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/14, 1/160–Three Alienbees with one on 30" x 40" Softbox
Today I was shooting food. Here is one of the shots of some cookies. With the Nikon D750 I shot this with large overhead 30" x 40" softbox and two other flashes just filling in a little. Shooting with the studio strobes I was not able to really shoot super shallow depth-of-field.

Fujifilm X-E2, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, Nikon AI Mount Lens to Fujifilm FX Mount Camera Adapter, ISO 3200, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
To shoot shallow depth-of-field I shot the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 on the Fujifilm X-E2 using the Nikon AI Mount Lens to Fujifilm FX Mount Camera Adapter. Since the Fuji is a smaller chip I was shooting more like a 127.5mm ƒ/1.8 lens.

To keep the color as accurate as possible in both photos I custom white balanced using the ExpoDisc. With the Nikon D750 I used strobes and the Fujifilm I use available light of the modeling lights of the strobes.

I like the shallow depth-of-field shot with the Fujifilm better.

The lesson is simple shoot a variety using all your gear when you need to get images to impress your client.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fujifilm X-E2 and Fujinon XF 55-200mm for vacation pictures at the North Carolina Beach

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 250, ƒ/9, 1/500
This morning on the news they announced some of the schools starting back next week in our area. My daughter will start her Junior year of high school in a couple of weeks. The beginning of the summer we were at the beach and now wishing I were still there for some more summer before it disappears.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4.8, 1/2400
We were at Emerald Isle, North Carolina beach the week of the first shark attacks. We enjoyed our time there on the beach but as you might have heard they did ban fishing along the coast during certain hours since this entices the shark in to shore.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 640, ƒ/18, 1/500
While there I was using my Fujifilm X-E2 since it is small and easy to carry to and from the beach each day.

I really loved shooting with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/18, 1/500
Built with optical design that offers a large maximum aperture, and a linear motor that delivers high-speed AF performance, while featuring the image stabilization function that allows the use of shutter speeds 4.5 stops slower. Using high-performance glass lens elements throughout. Containing two ED lens elements, including one Super ED lens element that boasts performance equivalent to that of fluorite lens, to control chromatic aberration, which typically occurs in long focal lengths.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/800
The Fujinon 55-200mm has the 35mm format equivalent of 84-305mm.  It is about a 1/2 stop brighter than my Nikon 28-300mm which at 300mm is ƒ/5.6 versus the Fujinon 55-200mm is ƒ/4.8. It is also a lot smaller and lighter.

I think the Fujifilm X-E2 is a great travel camera for many reasons, but two stand out the most. First the size is small and people don't think you are a professional and therefore I think relax more. Second I believe that the image quality is excellent and I don't feel like I am compromising by using this camera when it comes to the final image.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Shooting portraits in the middle of a department store for a workshop

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 10000, ƒ/1.8, 1/500


Today I taught a workshop at the Best Buy 850 Cobb Place Boulevard Nw, Kennesaw, GA 30144. After a brief overview we divided into two groups. We would rotate from Portraits and Low Light to Sports and Macro.

Andrew was my first model that each of the students shot.

We were in the TV section which can get pretty dark the farther back you go, which we eventually would do.

This was typical first shot for most of the students. Guess what the first lesson was about? Use your feet and get closer. I shot the top photo as the example and asked them to compose their shot this way first. Even after they shot their second photo, most still were too far back.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 10000, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
I then shot this photo and showed them the person doesn't have to move but you can and clean up your background. I am shooting these at ƒ/1.8.  They were to shoot wide open and then take a photo at ƒ8 or even ƒ/11 to compare their backgrounds.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 7200, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
I even went behind the subject slightly to show even more angles.

I also taught them how to set the white balance other than using AWB [Auto White Balance] by choosing a preset like Tungsten, Daylight or Fluorescent. Then I showed them the best way was to do a custom white balance. Here are earlier blog posts that cover this for you.

For even more blog posts just put your topic like "White Balance" in search field at the top right of this page to search my blog for even more posts.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 6400, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
We then changed groups and models and I repeated the same information. Here I moved the model to a different location so I could get a plane wall behind her and used the existed track lights in the ceiling for the lighting. Looks like I did this in a studio.

We talked about keeping the eye closest to the camera in focus as a tip.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 6400, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
I also talked to the group about having one shoulder closer to the camera rather than perfectly squared up for a more flattering photo. As always these are guidelines and not hard fast rules.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/160
I also showed them how to make a more environmental photo by pretending this model was the leader of this department. This was to help them know when they may want the more cluttered background. To help make the lady stand out we had her closer to the camera and not just close to the background.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
After they made the "environmental portrait" I asked them to leave her where she was and to move around and make a portrait. Here I walked to her side and cleaned up the background and used a shallow depth-of-field.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 5600, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
Then I walked to the other side. I was finding that the students only started to grasp the idea of using their feet to recompose after I showed them. Slowly they started to explore and look for better images.

No strobes and shot all this in the busy Best Buy store showing how it is thinking about what you want to capture and not just a magical camera setting that will make them better photographers.

Change Capture Time in photos using Adobe Lightroom

Yesterday I shot an event with a friend. We were posting these to an online photo gallery for the client. Well we discovered that the cameras were not all set to the correct time. Uh-oh!

You might need to change the capture times if you traveled to a different time zone and didn’t change your camera’s date/time setting before you started photographing, or if you imported a scanned photo into Lightroom, the photo would contain the creation date of when it was scanned, rather than when it was taken.

Select all the photos you want to adjust first in Adobe Lightroom.

The photo above shows where you will start to fix the date and time. Go to the <Metadata> menu item and then click on <Edit Capture Time...>

This is what will show up. You will have three options here. The first choice is to Adjust to a specific date and time. The Original Time is what the setting captured. Then go to the Corrected time and put what you need it to be and then click on change to adjust it.

The second choice works really well when you might have just had the camera set for a different time zone and need to adjust it by hour increments. Then the pop up choice on the far right is all you need to choose a hour adjustment of +/-.

The last choice will change the creation date as well as the correct time. These are actually two different fields embedded in the photo. Great for scanned images where the creation date wasn't when it was scanned.

There you have the directions to change the date if your camera was not set correctly. This is great when you have multiple cameras and you need them all synced for the client to see the photos in the order they were shot.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Shooting theater with the Fujifilm X-E2 and Nikon D750,

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/300
When it comes to shooting from an audience I prefer the Fujifilm X-E2 over my Nikon D750 because it is so quiet.

The quality of the images is great for shooting theater, which is a real bonus since my daughter is loving theater. She is the witch in the Georgia Ensemble Theatre Conservatory play this summer Shrek The Musical JR.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/320
Not having the optical low-pass filter the images are super sharp right out the of camera.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/4.8, 1/500
Here you can see the enlargement of the photo above.

The other thing that helps the sharpness of the photos is LMO.

The advanced Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) technology in the FUJIFILM X-E2 was made possible by the integrated development of the lens, sensor and processor. For each mounted lens, LMO high-precision processing of the lens focal length and aperture, as well as data from the screen center to the edges, corrects diffraction blur when shooting with a stopped down aperture and compensates for the slight blurring in the lens periphery. The result is edge-to-edge image quality with incredible sharpness and a sense of dimensional reality.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/4.8, 1/480
I enjoy sitting towards the back of the theater to shoot rather than down front. This way I can see the characters feet and adjust to wherever they are on the stage easily.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/480
Now just for comparison here are two different photos below. One is with the Fuji and the other with the Nikon.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR,, ISO 4500, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Just a minute later with the Fuji System

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/420

First of all the slower AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR compared to the FUJINON XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens made it possible to shoot at 1/420 vs 1/250. Then the comparison of the bodies is the mirrorless didn't have the mirror to add vibration.

However the plus side of the Nikon is more lens choices than the Fujifilm system. I preferred the lens range of 28-300mm to the 55-200mm.

Going back for the second performance and will see if I have any more thoughts for a post on Monday.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Des Moines Skyline

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/1.7
I used a new function on the Nikon D750 for the Des Moines Skyline. The optional ML-L3 remote control can be used to reduce camera shake.

Choose the "Remote mirror-up" setting and this will let you lock the mirror up and then take a photo. You press it once and the mirror locks up and then a second time to take the photo.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 160, ƒ/16, 1/100 and 2 Neewer T850 flashes triggered by the Neewer radio remote.
Here is a photo of me taken by Mary Smith with my camera while we we in the Art area of Des Moines.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Shooting Atlanta Braves Game with Fuji X-E2

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/4.8, 1/2000
I went this past Friday night to see the Cubs vs Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia as a spectator.

Atlanta Braves rules for cameras
All hand-held cameras that are no longer than 5" in length are permitted in the ballpark provided they are for personal use only and do not result in obstruction of other fans' view. Tripods and monopods are prohibited. The taping of game footage and the transmission of any description or reproduction of game activity are prohibited.
The Fujinon XF 55-200mm is less than five inches, so I could take this into the park.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.4, 1/500
 I actually am not zoomed in all the way for this photo.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000
For most action shots like this I had the camera on continuous shooting mode. Here are the instructions from the manual. Double click on the photo to see it larger.

I can tell you that it isn't as responsive for sports as my Nikon D4 cameras. There is a firmware upgrade on the horizon, so I can't wait to see if this addresses the responsiveness.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3000
While I did manage some nice moments, I wouldn't be able to use this camera on assignment. I was missing many plays because the focus would hunt and then the shutter lag was just slow.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/3000
Now if you just want to take some photos to remember the game then the Fuji X-E2 will do a great job. The quality of the images was great. Had the camera allowed me to capture the moments intentionally as I can with my Nikons then I may just drop using the Nikons because of the size and weight of the Fuji system.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/3000
The Fuji X-E2 with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm is a killer package. Extremely sharp. Since this is a smaller chip the 55-200mm is like shooting with a 84-305mm full frame camera. Consider the aperture at 200mm is ƒ/4.8 makes this great for many situations.

One more Atlanta Braves rule
Small bags, backpacks or other articles must fit within a space of 16x16x8 inches.

So due to this limitation I was able to bring in my small ThinkTank bag with the Fuji X-E2, Fujinon XF 518-55mm, and the Fujinon XF 55-200mm. It also had 2 spare batteries.

This is the main reason I have the Fuji system–it is small and lightweight. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Combating Portfolio Depression

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Macro Lens, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/160
Most photographers grow despondent of their portfolios over time due to having little new work that can replace their best work. I call this Portfolio Depression.

There are times in life where we need some intervention. Sometimes this is medical where we may have to even undergo surgery to get rid of something harmful to our body.

Photographers are like many other artists and find themselves under the knife trimming the fat to become more lean and effective in our craft.

After a shoot I ingest my photos from the camera and do a rough edit in PhotoMechanic. All I am doing at this point is deciding if the photos are OK. Out of focus, extremely bad exposure, accidental frames shot, bad expressions, and other things that rule a photo from keeping it is what I am evaluating.

Usually I am eliminating 50% to 75% of the images at this point.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/80
Just a few weeks ago one of my clients talked about my consistency. He said he could always count on solid professional work and people liking working with me.

The hardest part of the edit is during the Lightroom phase where I straighten horizons, maybe crop a little bit, where I correct for the lens profile and minor burning and dodging. I am often feeling left very flat emotionally.

It doesn't take long and I find myself sinking emotionally. I look at my work and realize I am not seeing very many grand slams.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 2.5 sec
To compensate for my frustrations I started to plan some skyline shots of some of the cities I was visiting. Here is the Seattle Skyline I did back in April.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 20 sec
What has been happening on my photo shoots that were making things more and more difficult is clients sending me to locations with very little information about the location. It really wasn't something they could fix either. It just is what it is.

Kyle Petty's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was 1986 Miller High Life 400 Richmond, Va. Here is where Bill Elliott ended up on the wall. After the race, Earnhardt had to pay a $3,000 fine ($6,454.46 when adjusted for inflation) plus a $10,000 security bond for an incident involving himself and the back end of Darrell Waltrip's vehicle ($21,514.88 when adjusted for inflation).  
In the days of breaking news it was difficult for you to plan ahead. The best I could do is position myself as I did here covering the 1986 Miller High Life 400 at the Richmond Speedway so as to catch where many of the wrecks happened on that track.

ƒ/8 and Be There

Photojournalists have a saying, "ƒ/8 and be there", meaning that being on the scene is more important than worrying about technical details. Practically, ƒ/8 allows adequate depth of field and sufficient lens speed for a decent base exposure in most daylight situations.

It doesn't take you long in this profession to realize that the attitude of "ƒ/8 and Be There" is very short sighted.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/22, 25 sec
Just a few weeks ago while in Bucharest, Romania I went online before getting to Romania and found some signature shots of the city. While it felt good to get this photo like all of my other skyline shots the part that is frustrating with these photos is  many of these photos other photographers have taken. I was more proud of the Bucharest photos since these particular angles didn't show up right away on the Google searches when I was researching.

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/320
One thing I learned early on is if your photos are very exciting then change your perspective. So this is what my wife and I did one day by taking a balloon ride in the North Georgia mountains.

Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 720, ƒ/5.3, 1/1000
By just getting up in the air I was seeing things from a different perspective than 6'2" which is my height standing.

Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/30
While getting a different perspective by getting high or low and then also shooting late or early I am still faced with the majority of my assignment work.

Ok you are now reading my story of conflict. My photos just are not exciting enough and lack the surprise factor that I want to get every time I go out. I remember watching my mentor Don Rutledge struggle with the same issue. Just one thing majorly different is my mentor was a lot better than I have been with photography.

I watched Don buy new camera systems to see if that would help give him some creative edge. Don bought new Singh-Ray filters for all his camera lenses and this helped give him a unique look.

Don shot Nikon, then shot Olympus and then went on to Leica cameras before returning to the Nikon cameras. All these moves were to help him keep creative and get the very best out of a situation he was shooting.

The sad reality is that you can produce some very excellent professional photography, but that moment you were dealt is lackluster. You have done just about all you can to make the very best photo you could have made.

The danger for the photojournalist is you don't want to manufacture moments. This is who I am most of the time. I am someone who wants to stand flat footed and find the angle and then help tell the story as authentically as I can possibly do.

The number one thing that has helped the most with accomplishing a sense of satisfaction has been doing multimedia projects. I realize that what often was missing in photos were the words of the subject and having them tell their own stories took my work to a whole different level. Are the images better? No. However, the stories are more complete.

What often feels like depression after an assignment is actually me looking at the conflict in my story. Then often I will look at other photographers work on similar topics and see how they treated the story. I am finding other resources through photography magazines, online galleries and most important is through professional associations. This is where my colleagues are publishing like NPPA's News Photographer Magazine and ASMP's Bulletin magazine that help keep me up to date on trends and gear.

Best advice to help combat this portfolio depression is to create your own personal project. This way you can plan and control more of the variables and give you an opportunity to really show people what you can do when you are given the opportunity.


  • If you love all your work then you are not growing
  • If you are depressed after reviewing your latest work – that is normal
  • If you look to get better by studying other people's work – you are smart
  • Do your own special project
  • Take a workshop