Glastonbury and iPad Workflow (pt1)

I’m sitting here writing this the Thursday after Glastonbury and (just about) starting to get over COVID (It hit me hard on the Tuesday evening after testing negative on the Monday, I tested positive on the Wednesday morning).

We had arrived at Glastonbury a week ago to this wonderful (not) notice.

Closed pits for all headliners as displayed in the press tent

This was a first and to be honest, although we expected a couple of closed headliner pits, we did not expect all of them to be closed. I think this tainted my experience of the whole weekend.

The wording there is fairly specific “closed pit” not “no photography” so my colleague and I headed out into the crowd at the end of Sam Fender’s set and took up a position. The Fuji’s with the 100-400 are quite easy when working in a crowd, being smaller but of course do slightly suffer with resolving power and focusing (X-T3) compared to full frame bodies and faster 400mm lenses. We stayed long enough to ensure we got a reasonably varied set of images before fighting our way out of the crowd and filing.

The strategy worked….

Billie Eilish images images on the 3 UK “broadsheet” websites.

So what was the workflow here? As I mentioned in my last post it followed my basic routine:

  • Create Collection in Lightroom for job
  • Import from memory cards direct into collection
  • Select and edit photos in lightroom
  • Add titles
  • Create a collection in ShutterSnitch for the job
  • Share images to ShutterSnitch collection which completes the captioning and sends via ftp
  • Archive the images
Folder and Albums in Lightroom Mobile (showing all 4 days)

You can see from the above image, I created a folder for the whole event and then a separate Album for each day, using my standard naming format.

Creating Folders and Albums

The Lightroom Mobile tool is basically a web tool, wanting to store all of its images in the cloud. This is a real issue when speed is of the essence (and when you have a slow internet connection – which for some inexplicable reason at Glastonbury this year we had the worst connection at a major event I think I have ever known). There are 2 key steps to managing this.

First, when leaving on a trip I always pause the sync.

The next step is on each folder, I enable the Store Locally option. To do this requires that there is an image in the album so if pre-shooting, I copy an existing image into each of the albums and then the Store Locally switch is available from the three dots options to the right of the album name

Now I am ready to import the images from the camera card into the Album (inserting the card/card reader into the usb-c slot normally displays the import options. If not the import is available in the lower right). The bottom line is the images do not touch the apple photos app at all. They go direct from the card into Lightroom and they may be RAW or JPG with no issues. In fact the Billie Eilish images were all processed from Fuji Raw (RAF) as I thought I might need more shadow & hilight recovery. The only difference between importing RAF and JPG is that in the import window, JPGs are previewed whilst RAF are just shown as empty boxes (no preview).

Importing images into the current folder.

In this post I have covered how I set up the iPad / Lightroom Mobile and import the images. The next post will discuss selecting & editing the images.

As I finish this post I have just had a conversation with my supplier about my first X-H2, apparently I can collect it next week. Well that has cheered me up from my COVID slump..

Until the next post…

Mobile Workflow Overview

I mentioned in my last post that these writings would be more about my workflow, thoughts and practices and less about camera equipment reviews.

The next few posts will revisit my mobile workflow and the use of the iPad as a very serious tool (laptop replacement), starting with this very basic overview.

A very poor iPhone image of my iPad in its keyboard case

My mobile (travel) kit consists of;

  • IPad Pro M1
  • Gold and Cherry iPad keyboard case
  • Apple Pencil
  • Apple Magic Mouse (Series 2 preferred)
  • Lightroom Mobile (Adobe photography plan inc. Photoshop)
  • ShutterSnitch
Lightroom Mobile & ShutterSnitch running in a split screen

One of the key improvements over the last couple of years of using the iPad has been the multitasking (various split screens, slide over etc) and later posts will show how the applications can work together in a similar way to a full blown computer (mac or otherwise).

The workflow outline:

  • Create Collection in Lightroom for job
  • Import from memory cards direct into collection
  • Select and edit photos in lightroom
  • Add titles
  • Create a collection in ShutterSnitch for the job
  • Share images to ShutterSnitch collection which completes the captioning and sends via ftp
  • Archive the images
Lightroom during the image selection and editing process

The next post will start to detail the intricacies of using Lightroom efficiently and outline some possible pitfalls (there are a few!).

Until then.

New Way Forward (and Cannes)

It’s fairly obvious I have been neglecting this blog. Actually thats not true. I have not been neglecting it, I have been avoiding it. The question is why and what do I want to do about it?

I might be a poor writer but I do enjoy it (it took me 5 or 6 attempts to pass what was the English Langage ‘O’ level when I was at school (scraping through as I took my final ‘A’ levels). I also enjoy passing on knowledge.

When I started this page, it was the early days of the Fujifilm X-System, the early days of mirrorless and this place seemed the ideal place to put down my thoughts and experiences, passing these on so others (you dear reader) can learn from my errors and not make the same mistakes. Well that was something like 8 years ago and the technology world has changed as has the camera market with most of the manufactures having mirrorless products. Online review sites have exploded with video review sites getting far more views (and influence) than written sites with the actual experience of the reviewer seeming to be way less important to both the manufacturers and viewers.

Fujifilm has just announced the X-H2, it sounds like a very capable camera which I have not seen. The reviews are promising and so I have one on back-order with my supplier and if what I read is true, it will put us X-system users back on a more level playing field when it comes to Auto-Focus performance. However, when I get it, I wont review it. I might comment on some technology that makes my life easier but I will no longer review any product because basically, what interests me is what makes my job easier, faster etc.

If you want reviews stick to the sites that make reviewing part of their business. They get large follower counts, large followings means free review kit and good advertising revenue. How good they are as photographers, how deep their experience of photography and the “sharp end” of the photography business has very little to do with a good review site (and as far as the manufacturers are concerned, the only real measure is the number of followers). If this sounds like a gripe, it’s not. I get it. Who cares that I (or other photography writers) shoot more images in a month (or maybe even a week) and get them published around the world. That does not matter if only a few hundred of people know.

So I am going to stick with the “sharp end”, what counts. How do I work? What are my business practices? Can I improve how I (and you) work?

The next few posts will be about my new mobile workflow and the use of (the rather fast) M1 iPad Pro . In the meantime, here are a few of teh 6000 images I sent out from 10 days in Cannes, all shot on Fujifilm and edited/sent from the iPad.

Why am I drawing, Not Photographing?

I’m scared of keep repeating myself., of producing the same shit over & over whereas every drawing is different – maybe because my emotions have more impact…

More later…

Meanwhile here is a mini project I shot in my studio in Worthing this weekend, all on an X-T2 with the 35/1.4 in Acros.

I’ve been trying to work out why I’m drawing so much and not photographing so much (street / news etc) and walking across waterloo bridge just now I think I got it… Seeing that view that I love I wanted to pull.put my camera but then thought “what’s the point, I’ve shot it so much” and then it hit me…

I’m scared of keep repeating myself., of producing the same shit over & over whereas every drawing is different – maybe because my emotions have more impact…

More later…

Meanwhile here is a mini project I shot in my studio in Worthing this weekend, all on an X-T2 with the 35/1.4 in Acros.

A post (card) from Venice

Hopefully you have noticed that I have started posting a little more often – I am trying to get back into the “write every Monday” habit. It’s not quite there yet but I am making more of an effort.

I am writing this in the press room at Venice Film Festival (those of you that follow my social media will have seen I have been here since the 2nd). I planned the trip as a quick smash and grab; come over for a busy part of the festival, get some shots and go home before the end. Yesterday and today are a little respite before my final day tomorrow and trip home.

Photographers are reflected in the glass doors of the The Palazzo del Cinema before the Premiere of SUNDOWN during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on Sunday 5 September 2021 at The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia, Venice. Picture by Julie Edwards

I always say that we (photographers) are paid to wait till that moment we can make the image. Sometimes the wait can be long.

This is now the 3rd trip I have made away in these interesting times (covid times); Cannes a few months ago and Venice a year ago. It’s fascinating to see how things have changed in the past year.

A year ago we had masks and 2M distancing for photographers working on the carpet but no other measures. (The wearing of masks generally over here seems very well adhered to, especially on public transport). Now we have not only masks but also attendees need a Green Pass, which in Italy is either proof of double vaccination or a proof of a negative test within 48 hours. There seems to be more responsibility placed on the individual though, whereas I have been used to (in the UK and France) to need to show this pass before entering, here they reply on spot checks and social responsibility, which means things flow far more smoothly.

Line 20: From Venice to The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia.

I stay in the main city of Venice, taking the Line 20 from St Marks to Lido twice a day. The Vaporetto (water busses) are mostly old and noisy but its a lovely 20 minute ride, especially if I manage to get the rear facing outside seats giving the view above.

Anya Taylor-Joy poses on the red carpet for LAST NIGHT IN SOHO during the 78th Venice International Film Festival. Picture by Julie Edwards.

With red carpet events being few and far between over the past 18 months it seems a few photographers were a little more “vocal” than normal when Anya hit the carpet for the well-received Last Night in Soho, so much so that she walked away for a while after asking for a bit more calm. I like to think I would have done the same. I have often heard the argument that the person on the carpet should not get upset because its their job but I always counter how would you feel if if were your daughter or partner being shouted out like that?

Very few photographers in the media positions have been the other side, walking the carpet and to be honest, its horrible (even if its not you thats being photographed), the lights and the shouting has to be experienced to be understood. It might be their job but it is almost impossible to look at every photographer and besides, the skill of the photographer is actually catching that split second, or as in this case, making an image that does not need it. It should not be a case of Who can shout the loudest.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac poses on the red carpet for SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday 4 September 2021 at The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia, Venice. . Picture by Julie Edwards.

I started this post with no plan, I was not really sure what I was going to write about. It’s always interesting how the thoughts and words flow and sometimes you just have to go with it to see where it leads; hopefully it’s a worthwhile exercise.

More soon.

Julie

Lens in the Bag

One of the most annoying questions I see (almost every day) posted in Facebook groups and the like are “what lens should I buy next”, often with very little explanation. (I am willing to accept that this is my issue and lack of tolerance).

With this question in mind, this post is a run-through of the lenses I took to Cannes along with quick explanations of how I used them along with samples.

This is the list of lenses I used and image count of each from this years Cannes folder (taken from Lightroom)

Tackling that list in order, I start with the workhorse; the 16-55/F2.8 Of all the lenses, this is the lens that is probably of most use in general purpose photography. From a wide angle through to a slight telephoto (full frame equivalence of approximately 24-70), it is suitable for almost everything and should (almost) be the starting point for any kit bag.

In Cannes, my main use of this lens is on the Red Carpet, mounted on a X-T3 with the V1 flash fitted for shooting the full-length fashion type images as well as half-length portraits.

16-55 @ approx 16mm / F3.5
16-55 @ approx 32mm / F2.8
16-55 @ approx 52mm / F3.5

At the start of the week, I experimented using the 27mm pancake lens on the Red Carpet – mostly I use it as a camera body cap and walk-around lens. The way it deals with light coming directly into the lens (flare control) means it was not really suitable on the carpet or at gigs

27mm @ F3.6

Both of these lenses are perfectly good and produce nice contrast images (if you set your camera up appropriately) but for me, they show up the limitation of using an APS-C sensor, there is a limitation on getting a shallow depth of field. For this reason my two really favourite lens are the 56mm/F1.2 & the 90mm/F2 . I use both of these in a similar way.

The 56 is a great portrait lens, the distances involved on the Red Carpet means I usually create 3 quarter or half-length images with it, always shooting wide open. After all there is no point using a nice fast lens and then not making use of the shallower depth-of-field.

56mm @ F1.2

The 90mm I use in the same way, just tighter images (normally on the X-T2 body as the focal length leads to the images rarely needing much cropping). One thing I will say is the 90mm does seem to produce richer images than the 56.

90mm @ F2

The 50-140 telephoto lens is another real workhorse lens, enabling me to get fairly tight portraits when the subjects are at a closer range or full-length group shots up on the staircase. I think (on my X-T3’s with grips) that this lens handles fantastically, the zoom ring is lovely and smooth.

50-140mm @111mm / F2.8
50-140mm @140mm / F2.8

Because of distances, crowds, my love of tight portraits and less posed images, my 100-400 is my second most used lens (after the 16-55). With it I can shoot the talent in the crowds at the head of the carpet, create really tight and personal looking portraits on the carpet as well as head-shots up the stairs.

100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @234mm / F5
100-400mm @190mm / F5

Hope this post gives a little insight on how my use of lenses helps to create different images and gives me more creative options.

Next week I will write my guide to back restorative exercises needed after carrying them all around for 2 weeks. Actually I will probably write about the GFX50R which I purchased last winter during the lockdown with the prime aim of shooting more landscapes (and for use in the studio shooting portraits).

Happy Shooting. J

Godox V1f – Things I learned in Cannes

It’s seems I always have something new to understand when I go to Cannes. (Well thats a general in life – the day we stop learning/have something new to understand is the day we die).

This year it was the Godox V1f Round Head Flash .

As usual this will not be a really technical write up (there are far more techie blogs and better writers for that), what follows are a few of my thoughts and experiences.

The first thing to talk about and one of the real reasons for getting this flash is the quality of the light. Not only is the fall off of the light at the edges far more pleasing, the hotspot in the centre seems, well less hot and more flat. (The above images have had the white and black points expanded to hi-light the fall off pattern.)

The second thing to talk about is the quality, this flash feels solid, well made, very similar to the AD200 and a definite improvement over their other on-camera units.

The battery is chunky and comes with it’s own USB-C charger which charges quite quickly. That said, even with heavy use (on the evening of amFar) I do not think I used more than one bar.

This quality and battery add up to a unit that is quite heavy and when top mounted on an X-T3 (even one with a fully loaded grip and 16-55/F2.8) the result is very top heavy. As my main use for flash during red carpet events is to shoot full length images, I use a custom flash bracket CB Mini-RC and in this configuration it does not feel to bad at all).

Stella Maxwell at amFar . X-T3/16-55 : 1/200 @ F5 & 320iso

Actually using the unit took a little getting used to. Although it does support High-Speed Sync and has TTL Metering, in red carpet situations I found this combination to be a little sporadic and the additional power required for HSS meant slower recycling (and the manual states that the thermal cutout is likely to cut in earlier). In slower situations this has not proved to be a problem.

Sharon Stone at amFar . X-T3/16-55 : 1/200 @ F5 & 320iso

Once in manual the unit really is consistent (see the two images above). With a bit of experimentation I came to the power setting of 1/16 +0.7, which allowed the unit to keep up with my X-T3 in High Burst Mode for the short bursts I shoot (Its a technique to try and ensure no other flashes and open eyes on the subject).

With the manual power set and the shutter fixed between 1/200 & 1/250 (so not using HSS) I worked back to get a suitable iso from the selected F-Stop.

Gemma Chan attends the Closing Ceremony Red Carpet. X-T3/16-55 : 1/250 @ F4.5 & 400iso

As the subject distance varied on the carpet, I needed to allowed for the fixed output of the flash by opening the aperture slightly (maybe 1.2 a stop) so I think the zoom head was also helping as little in this regard.

Overall I am very happy with the unit and its a great addition to my Godox kit, adding to the two AD200’s , the TT685 and single AD600. Like the other units it can act as a slave, controlled by any of the Godox Remote Controllers. Or it can act as the Master in a multi-flash set-up (which is how I will use it for portraits with the AD200 at the up-coming Frightfest where I will be returning as the house photographer)

Cannes, Covid & Brexit

Covering Cannes this year provided a couple of firsts for me. 

  • It was the first full-on red carpet event since the start of the pandemic (Although I was in Venice last August, I cant really count it as a full-on event as the restrictions compared to normal were quite extreme (justifiably).
  • It was the first travel time traveling into the EU since the UK finally left it.

As you can imagine – both of these points had a significant impact on working the event, all around COIVD-19.

During the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. Covid-19 test results or proof of double vaccinations being checked as a requirement to enter the Palais. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

For anyone to access the event, COVID-19 status (Vaccination or Negative PCR test) had to be proved (a type of COVID-19 passport that is currently under debate in the UK), this had to be proved using the French app (TousAntiCovid ) or a printed QR code . This is where we experienced the first real impact of Brexit, the TousAntiCovid system does not recognise non-EU vaccination records. This meant that all non-EU nationals had to undergo testing every 48 hours whereas EU nationals did not.

During the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. The Covid-19 testing site provided for festival attendees free of charge. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

For all of the Festival, good anti covid measures were in place, distancing, cleaning, mandatory masks.

Festival attendees in masks at the “Benedetta” Red Carpet during the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Friday 9 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. All attendees to the festival are required to wear masks in the Palais des festivals including on the red carpet. They are removed for photographs to be taken. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

However consider how working red carpet photographers have to operate; spacing measures just cannot be implemented. Photocalls and Red Carpet events had us standing shoulder to shoulder and pushing like in the good old days, for hours at a time. Black masks were mandatory (to tie in with the evening dress code) but let’s be honest, most masks are not really adequate in this situation.

Palais des festivals, Cannes, France. 9 July 2021. Photographers working at “Benedetta” Red Carpet. Photographers working on the Red Carpet are in close proximity to each other and are required to wear masks. Picture by Julie Edwards

If you are planning to work in the EU, it might be an idea to consider the following (assuming where you are working might have the same regulations):

If an EU national had caught COVID-19 (still possible even with double vaccinations), due to the proximity of other photographers at events it would have spread. The EU nationals , with their vaccination passports would continue to work (untested) while the non-EU nationals, when tested would be found to be positive and unable to work.

The bottom line is – in modern times, the UK being an island is only a physical attribute. For so many , our work is cross border and for work of any kind to be able to continue whilst COVID-19 is still a factor, a world-wide passport system needs to be developed.

Palais des festivals, Cannes, France. 11 July 2021. Bella Hadid attends the “Three Floors” Red Carpet. . Picture by Julie Edwards

The next post will talk more about actually shooting the festival on the X-T2 & X-T3’s . 

More Soon.

J

74th Festival de Cannes – A Monochrome View

I am just back from working overseas covering the 74th Festival de Cannes (Cannes International Film Festival).

I say “just back”, it’s actually 5 days now and I have just dropped off my “Day 5 test to release PCR-Test” so hopefully I’ll be back working soon.

I plan to write a couple of posts this week that will talk about the experience of covering the festival but in the meantime, here is a slide-show of monochrome photos from the 2 weeks, all shot on X-T3 and X-T2 Fuji’s.

Let me know what you think 🙂

Spike Lee poses at the Photocall for Jury Officiel Du 74Th Festival during the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Tuesday 6 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.