Photoshot with Luna

Luna and I had been talking about getting together for a photoshot for a couple of years now. We met working together at Frightfest where she is one of the presenters of Frightfest TV.

When discussing the shoot we decided we needed a prop or two. She suggested she could use a Mustang GT for the day and so I outline planned an outdoor shoot. I say outline planned as with this kind of arrangement I only like to put together rough ideas as when heading outdoors weather is a a major consideration (especially in the height of summer in the UK). I also like to spend some time with the model, chatting and gauging their mood on the day before firming up my shots.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/2000,F4

There are a number of ways to shoot a darker, gothic feel type style on a bright sunny day, my preference being for high shutter speeds with high power flash units. I worked with a couple of AD200’s combined with the X-T2’s on High Speed Sync.

The first set of images we shot right in the centre of worthing, near home, with my “assistant” holding a Godox AD200 with a beauty dish, just to get a feel of the light and how the shoot would go.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/3200,F2.8

Now I had a feel, we packed a couple of the flash units, a couple of lightstands, modifiers and lenses and headed out of town (to the mighty burble of the 5.0L engine).

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/1000,F5

On the day, the light was really variable and most of the time I was having to use the Godox at full power (some of the shots had a second light) whilst waiting for the clouds to help with the light also.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/4000,F3.2

I wanted the images to have a “film” quality to them and so back in the office I edited the RAW images in Lightroom using either the Classic Chrome or Astia simulations before moving them in to Photoshop for retouching. These two simulations gave me a choice of base tones (especially skin tones, where Astia is my favourite).

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+18-55@1/4000,F3.6

The final look was applied using the NIK collection (now owned by DXO) running inside Photoshop. I learned a thing or two here as well; It had always frustrated me how adding a NIK layer to a PS image was a “one hit” action. If I decided I did not like the look after I had applied it (or subsequent edits), with my old workflow it was a case of deleting the layer and restarting. However a quick goggle on a train this week revealed the “magic” recipe. Convert the source layer to a smart object first and then the NIK filters are applied as Smart Filters meaning they can be edited with a right-click..

As you can see above, I used a combination of Colour Efex Pro to get the contrast and colours where I wanted them before adding a subtle film look and grain with Analog Efex Pro.

Lady Luna Wolf and Mustang. Picture by Julie Edwards. X-T2+XF56@1/8000,F1.2

The style may not be to everyones taste but we had a loot of fun shooting these and they definitely work with Luna’s style.

WOMAD

Despite using, writing about and loving the XF90/F2 lens over 2 years ago in Cannes (and borrowing one since), I had not purchased one until a few weeks ago, when I took advantage of the (recently expired) cash back offer to pick a shiny new XF90 up from my preferred dealer Fixation.

It’s with this new purchase, a pair of X-T2’s plus a XF14/2.8 and XF56/1.2 that I rode down to cover WOMAD this weekend. Travelling by motorbike means I like to travel as light as possible. I had guessed that the XF90 (equivalent of approx a 135mm) would be ideal for half length images on the main stage, with the XF56 for full length. I guessed right.

The 2 most effective ways of using a wide such as the XF14 is either to get in close to exaggerate the perspective or to take a step back for the wide general view.

Moon Hooch performs on the Charlie Gillett Stage WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Friday 26 July 2019

Moon Hooch performs on the Charlie Gillett Stage : X-T2 & 14mm@F11

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Saturday 27 July 2019

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage shot from the top of the Light/Sound Tower. X-T2 & 14mm@F2.8 (1/5th sec)

On the smaller, less bright stages, the speed (wide aperture) of the XF56 enabled a lower ISO and higher shutter speed than the slower F2.8 lenses.  Gigs (should) feature bright lights, strong colours and high contrasts which can make them tricky. Shooting with the  Astia simulation dialled in, I set a fixed white balance (depends on the venue) and the dial down the hilights in camera whilst increasing the shadow contrast. The resultant jpgs require minimal work. (If it is a tricky venue, I do switch to RAW).

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage. X-T2 +XF56@F1.2

Anna Calvi performs on the Open Air Stage. X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

Macy Gray performs in the Saim Tent at WOMAD X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

Macy Gray performs in the Saim Tent at WOMAD X-T2 & XF56@F1.2

The XF90 allows me to stay further back and produce an image with a lovely soft out of focus background. To enable a wide aperture on bright days I sometimes resorted to the Mechanical + Electronic shutter option. As long as there are no artificial lights or fast moving subject the ES is fine.

Atmosphere at the WOMAD Festival (World of Music Arts and Dance) on Friday 26 July 2019

Relaxing in a hammock checking a smartphone. X-T2 & XF90@

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

Extinction Rebellion The Red Brigade at the WOMAD Festival. X-T2 & XF90@F2

I must admit i got a bit carried away with the bright reds of the robes against the dark greens of the arboretum and did not really shoot enough wide images to put the brigade into a wider context. I did love the images i got though..

So that was WOMAD, shot on 3 fixed length lenses. Zoom lenses are very handy but they are not the only tool!

Next up, probably Brighton Pride next week…..

Cannes. A few of my favourites

I know it’s a few weeks ago now but I have finally managed to get round to adding this years Festival du Cannes images to my website.

 

Leila Conners and Leonardo DiCaprio poses at on the red carpet for Oh Mercy! on Wednesday 22 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Leila Conners , Leonardo DiCaprio. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. 

 

Quentin Tarantino poses at a photocall for Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood on Wednesday 22 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Quentin Tarantino. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Quentin Tarantino and Daniela Pick poses on the red carpet for Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood Premiere on Tuesday 21 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Quentin Tarantino , Daniela Pick. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Elle Fanning poses on the red carpet for Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood Premiere on Tuesday 21 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Elle Fanning. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Winnie Harlow poses on the red carpet for Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood Premiere on Tuesday 21 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Winnie Harlow.Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Aishwarya Rai waits before walking on the red carpet for La Belle Epoque ( The good times ) on Monday 20 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Aishwarya Rai. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Leyna Bloom and Cast poses at a photocall for Port Authority on Sunday 19 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Leyna Bloom, Transgender . Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra poses on the red carpet for The Best Years of a Life on Saturday 18 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Nick Jonas , Priyanka Chopra. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas poses at a photocall for Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria ) on Saturday 18 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Penelope Cruz, Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Pedro Almodovar, Pedro Almodóvar. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Antonio Banderas and Nicole Kimpel poses on the red carpet for Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria ) on Friday 17 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Antonio Banderas, Nicole Kimpel. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Street Life – Wednesday 15 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: . \

 

Amber Heard poses on the red carpet for Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria ) on Friday 17 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Amber Heard. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Amber Heard poses on the red carpet for Les misérables on Wednesday 15 May 2019 at the 72nd Festival de Cannes, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Pictured: Amber Heard. Editors Note: This image as been converted to monochrome. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon. All usages must be credited Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

 

Head over to this gallery to view a few more of my favourite monos….

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..

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:

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 )