Just Working: Frightfest

This weekend I have been working at the 5 day Frightfest Horror film festival, an event for which I have been the official photographer for more years than I remember.

This year I have been using just the X-T1 along with the 56/1.2 and 16-55/2.8 (thoughts on this lens to come).

Ive been resisting doing monochrome conversations all weekend but then came a set of images of Diana Vickers.. I could not resist.

X-T1, 56mm, raw, Silver eFex Pro (my fav monochrome converter). I think this combination is my al time favourite kit for portrait work..

Diane Vickers attends Frightfest 2015 on 31/08/2015

Diane Vickers attends Frightfest 2015 on 31/08/2015

The Long Problem: Part 1

My theory was, like the iPad post and the Focus post, this post would be a single post with maybe updates in the future. However it is not, it’s just the start.

At the moment the longest Fuji lens is 300mm equivlent (the 55-200) which is fine but not long enough for some of the jobs I do. There is a long lens in the roadmap (due for early next year) but this is not soon enough and of course I need a solution now.

HRH The Prince of Wales prepares to lay a wreath at the drumhead. X-T1/55-200mm

The solution in my mind and tested initally is the Nikon 300mm/F4 on a Nikon to Fuji adaptor. Of course I had tested this before the switch and it seemed to work fine. In fact a few years ago I mounted it on the front of my X-Pro1 using a fotodiox adapter to photograph a Bryan Ferry concert when I knew our position was a fair way back. Focusing was not easy back then, the old EVF is not quite up to the job but those I did get were really quite nice; sharp and contrasty.

Nikon 300mm F4 with Fotodiox Nikon G - Fuji X

Nikon 300mm F4 with Fotodiox Nikon G – Fuji X

I had purchased the Fotodiox as a cheap solution back when I first got the X-Pro1 so I could play with my Nikon Wide lenses and also an old shift lenes I have. Back then I did not really foresee the route I have taken an the facr it would become a part of my working kit.

A few weeks back, there was a full moon and again I tested the solution and it seemed fine but come last week, when I had a “proper” news job that really required a long (Horse Guards Place in London is reallydeceptively  big), I tested again.

Nikon 300mm F4 with Fotodiox Nikon G - Fuji X

Nikon 300mm F4 with Fotodiox Nikon G – Fuji X

The results were hit and miss. Testing on “my” beach, images I was sure the peeking was showing in focus  were soft, with some sharp and I coulp not work out the reason. Looking carefully i could detect some play in the connection between the lens and the fotodiox adapter (the adapter to body connection was fine). I cannot work out wether the play is just sliding in the plane of the mount or if it is actualy rocking slightly. I’m also not totally rulling out my technique.  I would not call long lens work my strongest work and if may just be that the sensor on the Fuji is more sensitive to movement on the long.

Actor Charles Dance. X-T1 / Nikon 300mm

The job went fine, I refined how I worked and made sure I was able to file a good set of images using this combination  but it was still too hit and miss.

X-T1/Nikon 300mm

My first port of call though is not my technique, its the adaptor. The fotodiox item is really quite cheap and although it does seem well made I think replacing it as the weak link is my first port of call. If I continue to have the same issue when using the Metabones adaptor I have just ordered, then it must be my technique.

Part 2 will be a review and notes on using this new adaptor.

Footnote: Just as I was publishing this the Metabones adaptor was delivered. If the packaging is anything to go by, this is going to be a very good investment.

Power to the Camera

One of the problems with the Fuji’s is that for a full day you need quite a few batteries. At least the X-T1 and X-1Pro take the same one.. I have 11 of them…

Charging station

Charging station

And I have the 3 chargers that shipped with the cameras plus a new dual charger.

This was supposed to be a blog on the “Long Problem” (long lenses on the X-T1) but I’m still writing it… Also coming up will be a review of the 16-55/2.8 and my thoughts on using flashes…

Bag Lady

Think Tank Airport Takeoff packed...

Think Tank Airport Takeoff packed…

I tend to keep a fully packed bag at home in my office fully packed ready to go, just needing to add batteries. The bag always has as much kit as I can fit, allowing me to cover “almost” any job from it…

With the Nikons now gone it was time to re-design th packing for the Fuji’s…

This is attempt one… It will no doubt change over the coming weeks…

iPad Workflow with the Fujis.

I travel around my local area mostly by scooter so the ability to cut the volume of my kit has been a huge bonus. To aid with this, where possible I also switch to an iPad from a Mac Book (Pro). I need to carry some form of editing platform because as a press photographer I need to be able to send images to the paper as fast as possible, mostly even as the news item (event) is ongoing.

When working with an iPad I have basically 2 different workflows depending on the situation.

Sending images live to an Editor in the office.

The key to this workflow is ShuttersnitchIn fact you will see shuttersnitch is key to both my workflows. The app can be set up very similarly to the Fuji Photo Receiver app. In the settings all that is required is to enable Fujifilm Wi-Fi.

Once this is enabled the next step is to configure Actions. These are carried out when the App receives an image.

My list of actions

My list of actions

One action I have called “IPTC AND SEND LIVE”  for live sending has a number of steps:

  • Update Metadata (This is created from a XMP file and update Copyright, Caption, Byline etc). See Note.
  • Change Filename (This renames the file to my job scheme which is taken from the collection name, date count.
  • Export to an FTP server (for distribution)
  • Export to Dropbox (for a copy and importing into my Lightroom archive).

Shuttersnitch Actions

Shuttersnitch Actions

This results in every image I send to the iPad being captioned, renamed and distributed.

How does this happen?

  • Shoot JPG and RAW (JPG’s are needed for the sending, RAW just in case).
  • Start WiFi on the X-T1. Connect iPAD to X-T1 WiFi. (The iPad is already connected to 4G)
  • Switch to Shuttersnitch
  • Select the correct “job” Collection.
  • Select Push from Camera when prompted.
  • Scroll trough the images on the camera, selecting those to be sent.

Editing small batches and sending

This is essentially the same as above but with a couple of added stages.

Shuttersnitch Actions

  • The Import Action updates the metadata but then saves the image to the iPAD camera roll
  • I then use either Pixelmator or PhotoGene to edit the images – curves, levels and maybe a bit of clarity.. Not a lot needed with the Fuji files.
  • (Note: If its just for Social Media i will probably use Snapseed).
  • I then switch to the job collection and re-import the images with No Action
  • This enables me to re-check captions before selecting all the images and running an action that renames and sends as above in a batch, without changing the metadata (hence the long list of possible actions).

Note on using XMP IPTC data: There is a little known shortcut in Shuttersnitch, if you email  an XMP IPTC metadata file (from say Photo-Mechanic or Lightroom) to your iPAD, you can use the open-in attachment option to open the XMP file in shuttersnitch which will then create an action using all of the IPTC data embedded, not just that which can be seen on the shuttersnitch screen. I use this to set all my use guidelines etc.

SO. What are the problems?

Don’t forget to ensure the X-T1 is sending full size images (unless for social media when resize to 3M should be enabled).

One of the biggest problems is in the selecting of images on the camera. The sending process is very stable, as is the connection BUT it’s the actual selection process. Once the camera is in WiFi Send Mode (as I call it) all of the normal image zooming functions seem to be disabled. The scroll wheels just move between the images.

This is a big disadvantage and is what drives quite a few points on My Fuji Wish-list.

We NEED to be able to zoom in and out to check that the images are sharp before sending them. At the moment all we can see is the composition and exposure, I’m not sure why the rear scroll wheel cannot zoom with the front wheel switching images as it does when just viewing.

The same is also true for the Protect function, we need to be able to zoom in & check, this is why I think a single custom button in Playback mode would be useful to allow us to protect images with a single press (as the DSLR’s do), maybe the AF-L or AE-L?

There are problems with how he iPAD handles images also, but maybe I’ll go into more detail on that in the future. The next post will defiantly go back to being more camera orientated. In the meantime – let me know your thoughts, what is your iPAD workflow? What Apps do you use? What do you think of how I do it?

Focus Pokus

One of the most important aspects of a modern camera to understand is the autofocus system. On the Fuji X-T1 this was recently totally changed and updated by new firmware. It was this change that led me to taking the plunge and switching to an all Fuji line-up. So, how do I set it up and how do I use the X-T1 autofocus system?

First I want to say this is not a be-all or end-all guide to using the AF system, I’m not going to go into every setting and describe it, I’m going to run through how I have it set up at the moment (it may well change), what I have found to date and that will sort of indicate why I have this set-up.

Firmware 4.0: New Modes.

Firmware 4 added the following improvements to the X-T1:

  • Zone and Wide Tracking Modes.
  • Improvement of Single Point AF accuracy.
  • Eye detection when Face detection is enabled.
  • Auto-Macro (no longer needing the Macro button to be pressed to focus on close objects).

Focusing in the studio.

To be honest, I do studio type shoots maybe once or twice a month, mainly corporate type portraits or headshots. Recently I shot a series of “amusing” portraits for a book and it was the first time in the studio with the new firmware.

For these I set the system into “single shot” mode and switched to the “zone focusing” with “Face Detection enabled” (as the settings shots below show – excuse the quick iPhone images).

Single Shot Focus Mode

Single Shot Focus Mode

Zone and Face Detect (Top Left)

Zone and Face Detect (Top Left)

The camera finds the face and eyes fine and after a few shots I was confident that the system would do as it was set up to, and find the face!

Yay! Face Found

Unless of course you cover it….

Doh!

Out and About.

When out and about my settings are basically to set the camera to Continuous AF (AF-C) Mode and Single Point. The main menu settings are below.

Continous Mode

Continous Mode

2015-08-05 20.42.59

AF Settings 1 (AF Mode is wrong here, should be point)

AF Settings

AF Settings 2

For this to work properly, elsewhere you need High-Performance switched on and (so I have recently read but not yet confirmed) the shutter on Mechanical (i.e. MS not ES or MS+ES).

I use the single point over the zone or area modes because I have found it to be faster. In the zone modes I have found there to be a slight delay when pressing the shutter which does not seem to be there in single point.

The key here is the Instant AF setting. By having this to AF-S (Single), it means if I use the back button, I can pick a point, focus on that point and recompose. If i place the single point on a subject and half-depress the shutter, the continuous starts tracking it!  Thats 2 modes, without changing settings!!

X-T1. 55-200. AF-C. 1/1700 @ F5.6 (AP)

So in practice, this fast moving kite-border was tracked by selecting a single point in the lower right of the central area (the bigger squares in the viewfinder are faster phase-detection points) then half-pressing the shutter and tracking, keeping the single point over him until I had the shot I wanted. Luckily I do not photograph fast moving sports (Motor Racing for example), if I did I’m not sure the tracking would keep up – I’ll test this soon.

Note: I should add this is exactly how I tracked moving subjects on my old system as well, I did not trust it’s full tracking modes either.

X-T1, 14mm 1/180 @ F14 (To balance Flash)

These girls with balloons were photographed at Brighton Pride where I was walking about, using AF-C to focus on people walking and moving, When I had people pose, I was able to use the back button to focus the single point on the faces, re-compose and shoot. (This was shot with an off-camera flash in my left hand as I held the camera in my right, a subject of a future post).

This is how I have it set up at the moment – it will might well change in the future as I learn more and if it does I will let you know. How do you have yours set up? Have you found anything different? Let me know.!

 

Julie x

Making Waves

If I see another 10 Stop, dreamy, long exposure seascape I’m going to scream! It’s been done! Move on! Try something new!

Well this is the antidote to that, the anti-long exposure seascape.

From my last post (and if you have looked at any of my previous work on my website) you will see I photograph a lot with shallow depth of field. In fact I probably do it too much. At WOMAD I was playing with the 56mm wide open (F1.2) in the bright sun. I thought I needed to play with it more, to see what was possible, maybe I could use it in other circumstances, so, I did what I always do when I want to test and play, I headed to the beach. Of course it helps I live 2 minutes walk from the sea but it does mean I end up with far too many photographs of seaguls and kite-boarders (testing focus tracking) and seacapes (well, because thats where I live).

The tide was comming in and the waves were breaking quite nicely. Set the ISO to 400, Aperture Priority and F1.2.

Full frame:

Worthing Sea: X-1T, 56mm, F1.2 @ 1/32000

1:1 Crop:

1:1 Crop from Centre (and rotated)

Look at the patterns, the droplets and overall the detail! I’ve of course photographed waves breaking at fast shutter speeds butnever this fast! The electronic shutter opens up new possiblites that was only possible using flash in the past. I’m sure that the speed effects themselves are going to add much to my day-to-day work in itself however the fact that I can now shoot wide open at almost any time without filters is a huge benefit.

As for the anti-long exposure seascape? I love something about this; just the single groyne post sharp. Even Classic-Chrome has it’s use sometimes….

Breaking Waves: X-1T, 56mm/F1.2 @ 1/15000, Classic Chrome