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!

Hyde Park in Classic Chrome

Since upgrading to the X-T2’s my X-T1 has become my standard “walk around” or “sanity” camera with the 35/1.4 fitted (as I also sold on my X100).

Most of the time my walk-around’s are set to Monochrome as I still really love the way it cuts straight through to the essence of a scene, letting the light and composition “speak”. I feel you really have to nail these two aspects to make a Black and White image really work but it’s clear from comments that quite a few [fellow press photographers] feel that its an “easy way out” or a way to disguise shortcomings in a colour image. So recently I have switched my walk-around to colour, well I say colour, sort of colour – the Fuji Classic Chrome film simulation. When this film simulation was first added to the cameras a few years back it was really overused but now the Acros simulation has been added and Chrome being a few years old, it’s over use has diminished.

As always my “walk-arounds” are set up to shoot JPG Fine only and I have also set both the Hi-lights and Shadows to +2 for a really contrasty look. Set this way the shadows do really block up a lot but I kind of like the look.

One of the places I shoot often is Hyde Park as I walk through. Today the mixture of clouds and strong light pushed the contrast further. The images were downloaded through ShutterSnitch over WiFi and edited on the iPADPro in Lightroom Mobile where I mainly pushed the curves further, added clarity and a vignette.

 

The formation of the blue boats in relation to the tower block, along with the dark trees and contrasty sky took my eye here.

 

Here I pushed the sky a little further with a graduated filter in LR but again I really like the layers and mood of this with the boat contrasting against the cafe which contrasts against the trees and sky.

 

Diagonals and Contrast. Its like a Monochrome image – but its not!

 

This tunnel always reminds me of the “Death Wish” series of films with Charles Bronson (filmed in Central Park, NYC).

 

Running in and out of the shadows.

Having an X-T1 as a walk around is kind of nice – now all of my cameras are basically the same format with mostly the same controls and handling, but being able to change what comes out of them in terms of images is really powerful aspect of the Fuji system. Why not give it a go next time you go for a wander?

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

X-T2 : Finally!

I sort of stopped writing this blog a while back, the X-T2 was released and I was in a “no kit investment year” (I run my kit spending cyclicly where I have a year of investment, then a year where it all has to pay for itself before I invest again). Once the X-T2 was out I kind of realised that nobody really wanted to read about my using the older cameras so I put the blog on hold. (If thats not the case, let me know!).

Now we are into a new year, an investment year, and the first of those investments has just arrived following a good deal from Calumet‘s Jamie (and the help of a friend – Mike). I have added an X-T2 plus grip and a lovely Millican bag (that I will use for wandering with a single camera).

This morning I went for a wander, adding a 16-55/2.8 and the old 55-200/4.8. This was not really a test, more a “lets get to find out a little bit about you”. I’m a sucker for monochrome as you probably know so I set it to JPG and ACROS simulation. Heres a cross-section of images – mostly straight out of the camera, just cropped (unless I specify otherwise in the caption).

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 16-55, blacks pulled down slightly. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 16-55 , shadow and hi-light pushed in camera, SOOC. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.16-55 clarity +4. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Shadows lifted and whites pulled up. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Whites pulled up. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Shadows lifted and whites pulled up. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity, curve adjustment. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Hi-lights and exposure recovery. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.55-200, Levels adjusted, medium clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

There is nothing groundbreaking in these shots but they were all testing aspects of the kit and helping me get used to the new controls layout. I used the 55-200 because I wanted to see if the new AF made this lens more useful – it does, it kept up with the birds better than my pre-coffee panning technique. I am pleased with the ACROS simulation and how it handles edits (to the hi-lights and shadows). This afternoon I will use it on a proper job but for now I can sum up my likes and dislikes:

Likes:

  • Focusing – the tracking is far better.
  • Joystick – moving the focus points is a breeze
  • Landscape / Portrait AF pattern – having different points selected in the 2 camera orientations is brilliant (Firmware 2.0)
  • Speed – A far more responsive camera
  • ISO adjustment on the front command dial
  • ACROS

Dislikes:

  • Back button focussing – my Tracking / Single shot trick (see this article) no longer works, BBF is less useful

So thats overwhelmingly positive then!

Now I have current kit, I will be writing a lot more again so make sure you head back. More thoughts to follow (and you can expect posts on the 150-400 soon also). Thank you for visiting.

X100

Fuji  have brought out a new version of the first Fuji camera I brought – the X100F. The Mk1 was the camera that started me on this journey from big DSLR’s to mirrorless  and so I’m torn.

This morning I went for a wander, and reminded myself how much I just love this little camera, going back to basics just like shooting with a ‘trip or such like as I did as a teenager.

 

I’m not sure if I can build  business case for the new little un or not….

 

 

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/

Thoughts on the XF 1.4X TC WR teleconverter

This week I have borrowed the XF 1.4X TC WR teleconverter for use with the 50-140 Zoom. (It also works with the newly announced 100-400 ).

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I needed to find out how the lens with converter would work in “not ideal conditions” so I took an X-T1 with the lens and converter mounted out early on a dark stormy morning before the sun had fully risen. There are plenty of technical reviews, in perfect conditions, with nice blue skies, I need to know how it performs in the poor light and conditions I am likely to get. If it functions in these, it will function on a nice bright summers day.

So, these test images are all straight from the camera shot at either 6400 or 3200 iso, slow shutter speeds and mostly slightly underexposed. Not a case of getting pretty images but a case of “what can I get away with”. All the images are taken at “Full Zoom” i.e. 140mm (200mm).

Starting with our local pier.

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50-140 Native at 140mm

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50-140 with Converter at 140mm

This shows the difference in the reach of the lens with the converter against the lens alone.

At 1:1 these images look like:

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Native. 3200iso, 1/300, F2.8(F4)

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With 1.4x. 3200iso, 1/170, F2.8(F4)

Firstly it’s obvious (or should be) that as with all teleconverters there is light loss, in this case approximately 1 stop (shown here by the variation in shutter speed).
Secondly in these conditions there is no real difference in image quality. Great.
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Native. 6400iso, 1/350, F2.8(F4)

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/180, F2.8(F4)

Remember – straight off of camera JPG, only cropped here.

Testing the optical image stabilisation:

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/58, F2.8(F4)

So yes! Thats 1/60th with an equivalent focal length of 300mm, The OIS seems to work fine! I was also testing the focusing at this point and the tracking did track the cyclist ok (ok, not that fast but I don’t do sport).

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/150, F2.8(F4)

I could also track this flying bird ok although acquiring the subject was a little harder/slower so I would say the focusing is defiantly affected (it would be due to the light loss) but the effect is acceptable for my work. If you shoot sports I would check for yourself.

 

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(Shop Window) With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/120, F2.8(F4)

 

But that is not everything. There are issues:

Firstly, mounting the converter: The convertor is shaped it slides up within the barrel of the 50-140. I am sure this enables the high image quality to be delivered but it did mean I felt I needed to be far more careful mounting the converter on the lens. My routine was:

  • Lens off of camera
  • Converter onto lens
  • Finally mounting the combination back on the camera body.

Far slower than a face-to-face mounting and meaning that the body is open with an exposed sensor for a longer time than I would like.

Secondly, reported focal lengths and aperture values: When using a converter on my Nikons. The camera (and EXIF data) would report the resultant aperture (i.e. F4 opposed to F2.8) and focal length (i.e. 200 opposed to 140). The X-T1 was not doing this (tested in Firmware 4.0 and 4.20), the EXIF information reported was for the lens alone. This is addressed by ensuring that not only the camera body is running the latest firmware but also the lens. It turns out that during my testing, my lens was not running the latest. I am assured the correct data is reported when all is updated.

So to sum up:

I am fairly sure the performance under conditions I would use it are fairly acceptable with slight degradation in focus performance and an imperceptible difference in image quality. I suppose one big question is “How does the performance compare with the 55-200”. My gut feeling is it out performs it but without measurable back-to-back testing thats difficult to say.

The big lesson of the day is:

Always ensure that both the lens and the body are updated to be running the very latest firmware as there may be issues that are not apparent whist using the kit that may affect the data further down the line.