Playing the long game..

With a week to go before the celebrations of HM The Queen’s birthday, (which means the group family shot on the balcony of Buckingham Palace), I thought that since it has been a while since I have used the Fuji 100-400 lens with it’s dedicated teleconverter, that I would head down to the beach on this hazy morning for a quick practice.

13-16 miles offshore from Worthing is the Rampion Wind farm. This distance may be far greater than that from the Queen Victoria Memorial to the Buckingham Palace balcony but the distance combined with the early morning haze does offer similar challenges.

Before the Royal Family assemble on the balcony, the expanse of road between the palace gates and the Queen Victoria Memorial is filled with crowds which, even on a cool day, provides quite a heat haze through which we have to shoot. Add to this the fact that we need to be working with between 600mm and 800mm lenses (or equivalent if not on a full framed system) and the result is that it is very tricky to get very sharp images.

It was with this in mind that I shot a few frames of the wind farm at different apertures, shutter speeds and ISO settings then came back to experiment with sharpening and other lightroom settings to see what a good starting point on the day would be.

After getting a set of results I am fairly happy with I thought I would do a monochrome edit of one of the shots….

Rampion Wind Farm. Fuji X-T2 with 100-400 + 1.4x

Roll on next week..

DXO / NIK Suite

Today is my last full day in Cannes for this year and tiredness has caught up. Luckily I had a few hours this morning to relax before heading out for the amFar event.

Its quite obvious from the work I post here and to instagram (@edwards_photo) that I love to work in black and white. Although my personal “walk around” fuji at home is set to the ACROS film simulation and I therefore shoot in monochrome, whilst working, I have to shoot colour and so use Silver Efex Pro, part of the NIK collection now owned by DXO to convert copies to Black and White. (My shooting style does not change , colour or mono, my images are still very much driven by light and shade).

Silver Efex Pro is included in a suite of products that also includes Colour EFex Pro and Analog Efex Pro. I originally purchased the suite back in the days when it was still owned by NIK (before the days of it being brought by Google, released for free and treated very poorly). Luckily DXO have now taken it on board and are moving forward.

Although I use Silver EFex all the time, I rarely play with the other applications, despite having them all set up as export/edits in my Lightroom.

In my free time this morning I decided to play with the other tools, looking back over some of the images I have taken on the streets of Cannes this year whilst moving between venues.

Combining the tools allows a large number of effects to be added, either subtly or completely over the top.

Filters and the like are scorned on in professional photography circles and of course a severe no-no in the press photography world but it’s always nice to have some creative fun and additional tools in the armoury do not hurt.

Cannes72 : Week 1

A quick post. As I am in Cannes covering the annual film festival, I thought I would share some images from the first 7 days here:

Assignments 2019

I’ve been working hard on two major projects for the last couple of months, really taking over my work life and reducing time out actually shooting.

Well this week the first came to the first major milestone and huge pressure has lightened. The second rumbles, the second opens next week and it is something i am really proud to be involved in: Assignments 2019, the regular exhibition from theBPPA (British Press Photographers Association) showcasing the work that press photographers do.

Not only have I been involved in the design of the website along with the social media images and campaign, I was also asked to be a curator due to my thoughts on Entertainment photography.

Here are the basic details but if you would like more information head over to the website assignments.thebppa.com where you can also see previous years images.

Storage

I’m going to make a confession….. I like tech… I like it when I find a new piece of technology that can improve what I deliver to my customers, that speeds up my workflow, that makes nice images or just makes my life better.

Thats not all tech though. My confession is not the liking tech (most photographers do) its that I hate one particular type of tech: Storage! Hard disks! Big, small, fast, slow, firewire, usb, thunderbolt, it does not matter, I find it boring and annoying. Why? Just look at the reasons I gave for loving tech, storage meets none of these. Its just a constant, a necessity that grows year on year, each year needing more space, each year replacing older failing drives, not actually adding value to the business, just providing something that the business cannot do without.

So what has brought on this rant? I have known I was running out of storage space for a while now and I had been trying to work out the best way forward. Then, last week, my OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock failed. Totally. A few exchanged emails and I have sent it back for exchange. A quick visit to Amazon.co.uk and I was working agin, with all 4 thunderbolt ports on my MacBook in use; Power, External SSD, DisplayPort and Ethernet/USB3 and a right mess it looked too. Every time i needed to back up the system, I had to choose which device to remove whilst I plugged in the Time Machine disk.

Back to the storage situation. Most of my storage solutions are LaCie, I like how they look and they use high quality drives internally. I know they are a “marmite” company, with as many swearing at them as those who swear by them. It was whilst browsing their site, thing about how I could expand my storage and backup that I came across the LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt 3 Dock (the name  just trips off the tongue doesn’t it). So I started to re-think my workflow and storage to see it this might be a solution.

My practice has always been, ingest into the local disk on the MacBook, edit there and when complete and delivered drag the folder(s) onto my server based “Library” disk (within Lightroom). The server then runs nightly backups making sure I have 3 copies of everything (a phrase I will never forget and I live by – if you do not have a file 3 times, you do not have it at all). The server is a Mac Mini with USB3 and Firewire connected drives, running Carbon Copy tasks each night to complete the replication. The problem with this solution is some of the jobs I work on are too large for the space on the MacBook disk, so I have to work on an external SSD which in my mind is just too messy. I have never had a large external disk attached to my main working computer, always only as an archival deice on the network.

Old Workflow

The smallest of the Lacie Dock’s features 2 x 4TB drives that can either be RAID0 (striped for speed) or RAID1 (mirrored for redundancy). It also features a daisy-chaining Thunderbolt 3 port, a DisplayPort and card readers, which would mean it could handle most of my devices whilst I was waiting for my OWC to be returned. Much googling and reading later and I came to the conclusion that maybe I could totally change my workflow and for once, invest in a storage solution that I found mildly interesting. The reviews pointed to the LaCie being extremely fast in RAID0 configuration and with 8TB in this format, it would fit my main library and leave masses of “working” space. It’s clear that the target market for this device is video editing and it is not designed as a long term storage solution (especially in RAID0) but if I am fastidious in my backup regime I am pretty sure this is a good solution.

New Workflow

So now I have a very fast Thunderbolt 3 LaCie dock as my main working disk holding the main library also. A single Carbon Copy task wakes up the MacBook overnight to mirror the data to the server with the Carbon Copy Safety Net future enabled to keep all data for 90 days, so even if I delete a file from my working working area, it should be on the server for 90 days. (unless of course I delete it before it’s backed up). The main library is also mirrored to a third disk as before. When working at home, new jobs are ingested straight into the working area on the LaCie, if out then as soon as I get home, they are moved from the MacBook internal drive onto the LaCie. Not only is it providing storage, whilst my OWC dock is being replaced, it is also connecting my MacBook to my 27″ monitor and the ethernet, meaning I am only using 2 of the 4 thunderbolt ports on the MacBook. Its much neater.

I have been running this solution for a week now and so far I am very happy: the speed of the system is great. This morning, having the main library available on a fast disk was a great boon as well: In the run up to the the 20th FrightFest this year, I have been asked to share some of my favourite photos (having covered the event as official photographer for 10 years), being able to go back to an image that is 10 years old, edit it quickly in Lightroom, bring it up to the my latest standards, then share it to social media at the same speed as if I had shot it yesterday was great. Finally a storage solution that makes me smile.

I’ll finish with that 10 year old image. With this being a blog about using Fuji X-Series, I really should not as I was not using Fuji cameras back then as they did not exist! However, the image has made be smile so here is Myleene Klass being attacked by Zombies at Frightfest 2009 (and no – the colours in this image are not as good as the colours we now get from Fuji).

Zombies attack Myleene Klass at the Film 4 Frightfest at The Empire Leicster Square

 

FPS – FUJIFILM Professional Services

This week I had the need to return one of my X-T2’s for a repair. It has been worked hard and for some reason had developed an intermittent fault where it would not turn on.

Luckily I qualify for FPS – FUJIFILM Professional Services. Logging on to the page ( https://fujifilm-connect.com/en/fps.php ) , I selected the camera from the list of my registered bodies, entered the fault and accepted the quote. After paying online the booking was confirmed.

As the repair was not too urgent, I waited for the pre-paid packaging that Fuji send out (otherwise I could have sent in urgently myself). Fuji send a pre-paid Royal Mail Special delivery bag with custom box and packing for the item being returned which just needs dropping at the post office. 2 days later the camera was back in my hands having been delivered by courier back in the custom packaging. Nice and pristine it looked too, obviously having had a good clean as well as the main circuit replaced (according to the delivery note).

I have read varying comments on the Fuji service but I have to say my experience was very positive once I understood how it worked.

FUJIFILM Professional Services is also free for all people that register two qualifying X Series cameras and three qualifying XF lenses or free for all people that register a qualifying GFX camera body and a qualifying GF lens. It’s worth taking a look at . ( here )

Assignments is back!

In my role of Social Media and Web officer for theBPPA, I have been working on the marketing and launch of our forthcoming “Assignments” exhibition, the details of which may be found below…

The exhibition of the best of British press photography returns – this time on Londons South Bank – taking over the Barge House at the OXO Tower.

The opening night is Thursday 16th May – and will run until the 19th to coincide with London Photo Week.

We are doing things slightly differently this year – full details on the website – but here are the key facts:

  • Entries open on April 1
  • Entries close April 12th
  • Pictures taken between 31st August 2017 and 14th April 2019 are eligible
  • We have increased the maximum number of pictures you can enter to 10 this year
  • There is a £10 registration fee to help us pay for everything
  • There is NO framing fee this year – our friends at Canon and Fixation are very kindly picking up the bill for us!
  • We will be doing the “catalogue” and the “contact sheet” again
  • (every image entered makes the contact sheet – so you can choose your own favourites)
  • Everyone who enters gets a pair of invites to the opening night party!
  • The exhibition is open to BPPA members – but if you have lapsed or haven’t got round to joining you can do so now

Check out the Assignments website for the full rules and details of how to enter: https://assignments.thebppa.com