Trumping with the Fuji’s

In July two of my assignments were covering President Donald Trump meeting our Prime Minister Theresa May and then two days later, The Queen.

It was no surprise that on such high level jobs, that most (if not all) the other photographers were using the traditional press photographer kit of “Nikcanon” with 400/500mm glass – big heavy kit…

I travel on my bike.. 2- X-T2’s a 16-55mm, 50-140mm and the trusty 100-400mm – the lens that I knew would be the workhorse for these two events… So thats 2 bodies and 24mm – 600mm equivalent..

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Being lightweight and easy to transport though does not mean a thing if the kit does not do the job…

The 100-400mm is a stellar lens, it’s pretty quick to focus, handles well on an X-T body with a grip attached (it’s very unbalanced on bodies without the grip) and the impressive OIS means I rarely need to reach for a monopod to keep it all steady.

The event at Windsor Castle was covered by a limited number of UK photographers (plus a few of the US press corp) in strategic positions, with pictures going out worldwide. Being one of a few photographers to cover such a major event always adds a further level of stress meaning that the kit just has to work, you really have no time to worry about it…

So how did it go?

Versions of this image (by other photographers & I) are probably the most widely reproduced of these events..

The Queen meets the President of the United States of America and Mrs Trump at Windsor Castle on 13/07/2018

For a wider selection of images from both events see here…

The kit, as always just did what I asked.. Hopefully what I asked of it were the right questions….

IPad Workflow (Again!) – IOS11 & ShutterSnitch

It’s been a while since my last iPad (Pro) workflow post and I thought it was time to share how it’s changed and how I have moved on.

This time last year I posted how I was using the iPad for all of my editing, captioning and sending from out on location, I detailed how well it was working at Cannes 2017. Then something changed. Specifically IOS11 came along.

IOS 11 was touted as the great update that will make the iPad a real contender for replacing the laptop (which I had already done), it would make running multiple programs easier, moving information from one app to another would be easy. Yep – this was the “update we were waiting for”. So in September/ October last year I installed it… and the crashes started… I assumed it was Lightroom not updated for 11 so I waited for an update.. then I assumed that maybe IOS11 did not like my SD reader so I got the new and latest. Still it crashed, still it would not read JPG images off of the SD card.

Finally I gave in and went back to an Apple Store “Genius”, showed them the crashing. They got out a brand new empty iPAD Pro with IOS11. Again crashed reading the JPG’s. Dug around and found an iPAD in stock with IOS10 installed. Bingo, 900 JPG images imported no problem. Back to IOS11 – crash! SO they replaced my iPAD with the “new” one running IOS10.

This replacement worked for a couple of days, until it decided not to allow me to connect to the mobile network unless I updated to IOS11 – It seems once your account has updated to the latest OS there is no way back.

So here I was, left with a £900.00, powerful, fantastic device that would not pull more than 156 Fuji JPG images from an SD card.

The problem was reported to Apple back in November 2017. If you want my support case number, it’s 100365002050 its been open since then. My support engineer (yes I have an assigned engineer at apple), whom I contact after every update to let him know that I have tested it again and its still not fixed. No still not fixed after Apple have logged in and connected to my iPad 3 times. They have had the files that I am trying to import, the crash dump files from my iPAD, a video showing the crash. They have acknowledged the problem, my engineer is very pleasant but the bottom line is 6 months later and my iPAD will still only import 156 JPG images from an SD card (RAW / RAF files are fine).

My iPad is not totally useless though, I did write this on it. Actually its not that bad – I still use it when traveling for non-urgent work where I would work in RAW and I also use it for smaller news jobs where I will be importing less than 150 images or where I will be using WiFi to transfer the images.

ShutterSnitch is still my main stay here. With this simple switch to enable the Fuji WiFi on the app, I can either connect as normal and transfer selected images or I can wirelessly tether to the iPad and transfer every jpg as it’s taken.

The images import into a collection where I can edit them using the recent in-app-purchase of image adjustment to do basic crops and corrections.

I can apply a metadata preset and edit meta data using the Metadata Editor in-app-purchase

Before exporting via FTP or Dropbox to wherever I need them.

ShutterSnitch has come a long way over the past few months meaning for live news work, it is now a one-stop-shop. (So I no longer have to work with the unsupported PicturePro) .

I am more than happy to do a detailed review and technical post on ShutterSnitch if anyone is interested – let me know if you do!

As I am just finishing this post, Adobe Lightroom Mobile has just been updated, my initial look indicates its almost there in terms of capabilities now – cloning and custom presets are supported! I’ll look at this in a future post also. Let me know what you would like to know about first!

I look forward to your comments.

Julie x

12 Days in Cannes… with the X-H1

May brings the annual Cannes Film Festival, it’s a tough job (no really, it is!) but someone has to do it!

Last year I was just switching to the X-T2’s and shot the festival on a mixture of X-T1’s and X-T2’s, sometimes teamed with a borrowed 90mm/F2. This year I was offered the chance of the X-H1 and I thought that the un-stabilised 90mm would be the perfect partner for testing.

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X-H1 / XF100-400

That left me traveling to the south of France for 2 weeks with 2 X-T2’s, an X-H1, a 16-55, 50-140, 100-400, 56 and 90mm, plus the usual collection of flashes, batteries, cards and laptop. It’s a wonder there was room for clothes (don’t worry – there was!).

Unpacking the X-H for the first time, it feels bigger, more chunky and heavier than the X-T but putting them alongside each other shows that the actual size difference is quite small. At first the shape is quite alien; the grips are more pronounced, there is a top LCD, the shutter button is quite a way forward (and has a very light touch).

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X-H1 / XF90mm @F2.0

The menus are *mostly* the same however it took me quite a time to set up the buttons how I like them. The main issue was with the front dial, I usually have this set to switch between ISO selection and exposure compensation but the compensation is handled in a totally different way now – having no dial (the LCD is in the same location as this dial is on the X-T), instead exposure compensation is adjusted with its own button a-la DSLR. Pressing this button allows the compensation to be adjusted on the rear dial. The front dial can be assigned multiple functions (I think the idea is that you press down to switch), but the only way I could get it working how I like was to assign both functions to ISO.

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X-H1 / XF90 @F2.0

Whilst on the subject of menus, the connection set-up is also very different with the camera also supporting Bluetooth. In the end I did not use the WiFi connections at all as I just did not have time to “play” and understand them.

Apart from that I was able to configure the camera the same as my X-T’s (it would be so nice to be able to use SD cards to transfer settings between cameras). Film simulations, white balance etc etc are all handled the same and as the sensor / processor are the same as the X-T, image look, feel and quality is identical.

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X-H1 / XF56 @F1.2

Once in Cannes it started to become apparent the real difference with this camera compared to the X-T’s is speed! It is much more like how I remember a DSLR to be. Mounting the 100-400 to shoot tight headshots the focusing felt far more snappy, in fact with all the lenses, just in general, the camera felt quicker to use… The bigger, heavier lenses I tend to use felt more balanced on it, it was nicer to hold – especially when not shooting (I know, that sounds silly but I have a habit of hanging my cameras from my finger tips when walking or waiting – the bigger grips made this easier and more comfortable). The lighter shutter is nice but when using in conjunction with an X-T I did find I was making accidental shots.

X-H1 / XF50-140 @F3.2

In use on the first day, being unused to the button layout, somehow I managed to switch the image size down from max to 2000×2000 px. I can’t remember the size on the menu but the pixel size is ingrained on my brain after the panic when I got back to edit. Now no doubt this was my inexperience with the camera, but, I have been using Fuji’s for a long-long time, in high pressure situations, using both new and old cameras together and I have never managed this before. I was shooting jpg/jpg so there was even no going back to the raw. Luckily this was only one of three cameras I was using at the time, it had the 90mm mounted and I was shooting the “arty” stuff so it was the camera with the least important images (in theory). It also meant on this camera I was being very particular with composition etc. Luckily every image I liked did not need any cropping and could be sent out as it was shot (well, probably with some exposure tweaks and curves).

The rest of the time it did everything I asked. I shot slow with rear-sync to use the in-body stabilisation, I tried all of the lenses I had with me. It just worked. As the festival carried on I found myself reaching for this body before either of my X-T’s, it did feel better in the hand (despite my initial worries).

X-H1 / XF100-400 @F5.6

The add-on battery grip also has the more pronounced shape and with it’s two batteries I found it lasted most of the day, although it still suffers from what seems like inaccurate battery condition indicators. Having these on the top panel LCD though is a huge improvement, being able to see the (supposed) battery condition without turning the camera on and either looking at the LCD or EVF is much better. I still find the grip on this (and most other grips) poorly designed. Hanging it just off of the tripod mount screw without any other mechanical lock (apart from alignment spigots) just seems inadequate. They always work loose over the day, especially if the camera is being used in the portrait orientation. Why a small hook type spigot (I.e. push in and slide along to align) cannot be designed in to aid the screw I do not know.

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X-H1 / XF90 @F2.0

Whilst mentioning the EVF I should mention the new Natural Live View. For the first day or so I was trying to understand why the X-H1 was not showing me the full film simulation as well as the exposure and white balance, it was previewing the exposure but the display looked very natural, far more natural than I was used to. DOH! Once I remembered about and disabled the Natural Live View, the EVF matched the X-T. This new mode is great but being able to see exactly what I am about to record to the memory card is one of my main loves about the Fuji. Undoubtedly the new mode gives a great view, being very natural and flowing and much more like an optical finder but once I had realised, I disabled it and did not go back. If I was using just the X-H1 or not trying to match the look and feel of what I was shooting between cameras maybe I would have stuck with it. I’m sure those switching to mirrorless from SLR’s will find this much easier to get used to.

X-H1 / XF16-55 @F3.6 + GODOX FLASH

BOTTOM LINE.

This camera is another great step forward. The more I think about it the more impressed I am with it. Mixing it with X-T’s is a bit of an issue, so if I were to change I would need to change all three cameras at once.

From an X-T1 it’s a huge step forward and I think the transition to  mirrorless from DSLR will be far easier if the mirrorless is the X-H.

X-H1 / XF90mm @F2.0

For me? trading up from the X-T2’s? For the sort of work I do there is no doubt it is a great step forward again but I’m not sure its worth the financial hit this year. As I have said before I work carefully within a cycle where every new piece of kit and upgrade has to justify itself financially. The X-H will do everything I am doing now, faster but it won’t do anything new, I can’t see it enabling me to get shots I would not get without it. If I did video however, it would be a totally different matter!

X-H1 / XF16-55 @F3.6 + GODOX FLASH

That said, I am feeling really good about the (what was a risky) choice a few years ago when I made the switch to Fuji. This camera is very very good and there may well be something better when my next upgrade cycle comes around. In the meantime the lens roadmap looks great also.

Here is a small selection of monochrome images that I produced at the festival.

Happy Days 

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

BAFTA’s 2017 – A monochrome slide show

Last Sunday (the 12th) was my annual trip to photograph the stars arriving for the British Academy Film Awards which, this year, took place at The Royal Albert Hall. As usual I was shooting on on Fujifilm X-Series, mostly the X-T1 and 50-140 with some on the 56mm mounted on a second X-t1. The wide images are using the 14mm mounted on an X-Pro1.

One interesting fact is that despite shooting over 1700 images on the 2 X-T1’s, I only changed the battery once in each camera (and the 50-140 body shot way more than the 56 body). In very cold weather, thats not too bad

Normally I would post a series of images here but I think its just easier to pass you over to my main side and a slideshow.

Back on the Red Carpet

Last night I was back on the red carpet for the Fifty Shades Darker UK Premiere at ODEON Leicester Square.

Julie Edwards Photography: Fifty Shades Darker UK Premiere at ODEON Leicester Square on 09/02/2017 &emdash; Jamie Dornan

All shot with Fuji X-T1 mostly with the 50-140/2.8 but the wides were with the 16-55/2.8

 

Here is a  small showcase  of images:  http://www.julieedwardsphotography.co.uk/fiftyshadesdarkeruk