HSS – The Godox TT685F & PocketWizards

As is my morning ritual (especially at the weekend) I headed down to the beach for 10 minutes peace before the day starts proper.

Normally I take with me an X-T camera of some description and a sketch pad – quite often I use the sketch pad and not the camera. This morning being bright and sunny I thought I would take the opportunity to see how the new Godox (On camera)  TT685F would work in conjunction with PocketWizards for remote camera use at Red Carpet Events.

My PocketWizards are a set of Plus3‘s which connect into the X-T2 via the Mic-In socket. This necessitates a 3.5mm to 2.5mm lead (using Younogo’s a 2.5mm-2.5mm lead is the requirement) .When first connecting the cable into the camera it prompts you to ensure the socket is set to the correct use – Remote Control or Microphone. (Edit: To clarify – this is to trigger the camera remotely and nothing to do with the triggering of the flash unit). The next key step is to pre-focus and set the camera to manual focus as it would not fire when set to either of the AF modes (I have not noticed this before when shooting interiors, however most of the time I am bracketing & pre-focusing on manual to ensure the focus does not change between brackets for the HDR merge).

Once this was working ok I fitted the Godox to the camera and had a play. This is not a particularly flattering image but it does demonstrate why HSS (High Speed Flash Sync) is such an important tool.

Self Portrait at Worthing, UK, 19/08/2017 : Julie Edwards. Picture by Julie Edwards

The key things to remember when shooting outdoors with flash are –

  • Shutter Speed only affects the ambient light (sun / surroundings)
  • Aperture affects ambient & flash brightness
  • ISO affects ambient & flash brightness

Therefore, shooting into bright sun I was able to balance the ambient (sun and background) by raising the shutter speed to 1/1250, setting the aperture and ISO to suit the flash output (in this case TTL output for laziness but probably near or at full output).

So.. The key is Shutter Speed! Actually no, I stand by the T-Shirt, the key IS motivation!

Have a great weekend!

IPAD (Pro) Workflow

Its been quite a while since my original iPad workflow post. Software has improved and the speed of the iPad Pro has totally changed the game so of course, my iPad workflow has moved on quite a bit.

The first stage of my workflow continues to be ShutterSnitch.  In my opinion this is still the fastest, most reliable method of using the WiFi connection to get the images from the Fujis on to the iPad. When I am sending just a few images (or sending a few at a time as a job progresses) , I can select on the camera and transfer individually via WiFi with ShutterSnitch instantly saving the images to the iPad Camera Roll. The problem comes when I have Job that involves many hundreds of images, all of which have to be looked at, selected then basic edits made, metadata (caption etc) added and sent. WiFi is just not fast enough for this many images. This is the problem I faced when travelling to Cannes for the annual film festival.


As I was flying and would also be carrying my kit most of the day I really wanted to keep weight to a minimum so I decided to stick with the iPad and develop a workflow that would work.

My iPad is a 256GB/4G model and so has more storage than my old MacBook, even so I was paranoid about storage at the start and wanted to ensure the iPad only contained the images that were  “keepers” so my workflow actually started with the camera configuration. I decided to shoot JPG only on to 64GB cards in both slots – slot 1 as the primary storage and slot 2 for backup. At the end of each job (or day) I would ingest the images to the camera roll from the slot 1 card using the standard apple camera connection key. The card was always wiped after ingest. The card in slot 2 remained in place, building a backup of all the image files, only being switched out to my suitcase as it became full. (Note: RAW image files could be used but would be slower).

When working on a full Laptop/Desktop it is common for most press photographers to use Photomechanic to select and caption first before transferring only their “keepers” to their editing software (photoshop or Lightroom). Because of the way iOS protects files and stops apps interacting on the same data, my workflow is actually the reverse. I use Lightroom mobile to select and edit before captioning and sending in PicturePro.

Lightroom Mobile (on Creative Cloud).

There are a number of key settings / stages to make this reasonably quick.

Mobile data: Ensure “sync on mobile data” is turned off.  (Tethering to a phone brings a whole different set of issues as you really do not want LR to try and synchronise all images until back at base).  An iPad on its own 4G connection is a real advantage here and simplifies the sending process.

Collections: Keep a collection per job or day.

Auto Add:  Use the … next to the collection name to enable Auto Add to the relevent collection.

Switching to split view with the photos app running next to Lightroom as the images ingest from the card, they will be added too Lightroom at the same time (see you can multi-task on an iPad).


Speed Flagging: This enables images to be picked or rejected with an upward or downward swipe whilst in the editing screen.


Once the images are ingested, the card is cleared and put back in the camera. I switch to single image view and enabled a filter on the collection to show only unflagged images. I then swipe down to reject, skipping those I am not sure about until i get to the first image I want. Before I swipe up to pick it, I complete the basic edits – crop, curves, levels etc. and then holding the finger (or pen) on the screen I use the pop up to copy the settings (all settings excluding crop). Only then do I swipe up. The process then continues, swiping down to reject and pasting the edits, (hold down again), cropping then swiping up to pick going through all of the images.


Once at the end I know I have all the selects and rejects. I switch to the “All Lightroom Photos” selection, set the filter to “Rejected” and delete all the images.

The next stage is surprising! I go to the camera roll and delete all the images  just ingested (it’s ok! They are held within Lightroom now – its made copies in its database).

I now export the images from Lightroom to the camera roll (this is a slow process as there is a limit on exporting 15 at a time), selecting the maximum size option.  This leaves just the edited selected images on the camera roll ready for captioning and sending.

PicturePro

In PicturePro I make extensive use of base templates. Upon opening the correct image folder / date should be selected.


Load the metadata editor on the first image and load the relevant template and edit the data to suit. I then copy the data before using the save and next button, paste in the data from the last image, tweak and move on.  Each image that is annotated has a small icon on its lower centre (in grid view).


Once done I select the annotated images (hold to select a batch, double finger tap to add single images to the selection) and export using the FTP panel, resizing, renaming and saving the images in relevant folders as they are transmitted. Each image that is exported has a small icon on its lower right (in grid view).

Once Back at Base
PicturePro has stored all the captioned and edited images in folders which can be accessed via FTP. Lightroom will synchronise all the original images, with edits via Creative Cloud to the desktop machine. (But no metadata on them). I add the PicturePro images to my Lightroom to sit alongside the originals which I leave uncaptioned because I know I can find them via the captioned exported versions.

Conclusion

There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to this workflow. I find the iPad an extremely nice tactile thing to use, using the Pencil and Keyboard I can work on my lap, on the floor, seat, basically anywhere, much easier than if I were balancing a Laptop. Using the pencil on the image itself as a tablet is a joy with the keyboard folded back out of the way until needed for captioning. Batch editing is minimal though, I cant apply the same edit to 100’s of images in a single manoeuvre but I dont see this as a huge issue as I normally have to look at each to crop it as I want so pasting the settings as I crop does not really slow me down. Its always pointed out that iPads have no colour management. Correct, the screen cannot be calibrated but its a mobile platform, it’s not used in a nice controlled environment. Every day I am out shooting and editing in different light with differing ambient levels and colours, so is this really the issue many flag it to be?

Comparing the captioning between PicturePro and Photomechanic the main loss again is batch processing. In PicturePro I do have to check and paste the metadata into every single image but this does have the advantage of ensuring I think about every caption.  At the time of writing PicturePro doses have one or two issues. It will crash every now and then but with this workflow I do not lose any work – its more just having to restart the software (which is almost instantaneous). PicturePro also has image editing which I have used in the past for small batches when I need to be very fast but a bug affecting only the iPad Pro means I am waiting on a software update before I can do this again.

This post has been a long time coming, the workflow has been tweaked and will continue to be but it was working this way that I sent almost 3000 images over 10 days from Cannes so I think it works. let me know your thoughts, comments , questions.

Julie

NIK collection away for free

I know a few have asked about my processing of monochromes…

Well today Google have announced they are giving the NIK collection away for free and that includes my beloved Silver Efex Pro…

Today we’re making the Nik Collection available to everyone, for free.

Photo enthusiasts all over the world use the Nik Collection to get the best out of their images every day. As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we’ve decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.

The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities — from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images.

Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.

We’re excited to bring the powerful photo editing tools once only used by professionals to even more people now.

https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

Working: Gig Photography

I’m still working on the White Balance post; so much I want to cover in it, I will probably have to split it into two.

To keep the blog rolling though, here is a quick look at my work last night. I was at the Brighton Dome to cover City and Colour with Lucy Rose as the support.

Browsing around the inter-web as we do I come across lots of discussions about “Can’t use this camera for so-and-so”, “thats the wrong lens for that”, quite often with no follow up argument (yes trolls). Quite often the discussions are about using Fujis in low light or in Gig situations.

Last night I started with the 16-55/2.8 & 50-140/2.8 “Red Label” lenses getting the basic shots, for the 3rd song I switched to the 56/1.2 basically because I had not used it in a darkish gig and wanted to see what I could get…

Lucy Rose plays Brighton Dome on 18/02/2016. Picture by Julie Edwards.  X-T1, ISO800, 1/180th @ F1.2, Astia Simulation

Lucy Rose plays Brighton Dome on 18/02/2016. Picture by Julie Edwards.
X-T1, ISO800, 1/180th @ F1.2, Astia Simulation

X-T1: Firmware 4.3 Update

Amidst the fuss over the launch of the X-Pro2, the latest firmware update to the X-T1 has come and gone almost unnoticed.

Yes, this was just a re-issued of the ill-fated 4.20 release (which had a slight bug in it) but try to find a review or thoughts on release 4.20 or 4.30 and you will struggle.

There are a few tweaks to the MF/AF workings in this release (which to be honest, I have not got my head around) but there are also 2 major updates that will really help me.

  • The flash now works in the continuous drive modes. I.e. I can use my flash at 3 and 8 frames per second. That is a huge thing in press work (just picture all the news clips featuring press photographers working, you will understand). I can now remove this item from my wishlist.
  • The record/video button on the top face can now be assigned a function. Ok, I know there are lots that can be assigned already and, if I don’t have it on a button then I can put it in the Q menu. I change the white balance (WB) a lot, preferably shooting a custom white balance (yes, this is still a planned post) and the white balance option in the Q menu does not offer the option to shot a new WB; only the option to select existing. However setting the “Video Button”, now known as FN7, to WB displays a small menu and allows me to shoot a new custom WB. Not having to dig in the main menu for this is a another step forward (and to be honest, a little similar to the way my old Nikons worked).

My Fn buttons are now set as follows:

FN Button Settings

FN Button Settings: Film Simulation. Direct Focus Point Control and WB.

With small steps we can travel a great distance and this new firmware is another small step. Not updated your camera yet? Head over to the X-T1 firmware page to download the latest.

I’ll sign off with an image from last night’s job..

Cally Jane Beech arrives on the pink carpet for the European Premiere of “How To Be Single”. Shot with a custom white balance 😉

The Q menu

I was talking to a colleague the other day and he seemed unaware that the Q-menu was customisable. I offered to write a short blog on it (based upon the X-T1, the X-Pro-1 is very similar).

Not sure what I’m talking about?  What is the Q-menu? Basically the Q button on the rear of the camera (Fuji X-T1  X-Pro1) provides fast access to a number of settings arranged in a grid as below. This grid is called the Q-menu.

Here is my current Q-menu (although it is always in a state of flux). I don’t use all of the functions and my aim was to have the items I need to change often quickly accessible.

Q-Menu-now

You will see my first two items are to do with the focus system – to change between single point and group of points and the second item to switch on and off face recognition. I need quick access to White Balance as I change it between “Auto” and a custom setting often (this will be the subject of my next post).

So, how is the Q-menu customised?

Go to the following menu option (by pressing the centre “Menu” button and using the cursors).

2016-01-13 16.30.08

Press the menu button again and the Q-menu with be displayed in Edit mode.

2016-01-13 17.13.47

Use the cursor/arrow buttons to select the item to change. and press the centre menu button.

2016-01-13 17.13.56

Select the function you require, confirming with the centre/menu button and using the back button to cancel.

Once finished press the back button again.

And there you are….

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?