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:
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.
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.
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).
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 )
Like many photographers I must confess to not enjoying the “business” side of being a photographer as much as meeting people, creating images and being creative but the fact its, photography is a business and every transaction or project must be treated that way.
I don’t really write about the business of photography here so if you want to read my latest thoughts on this, head over to my main website and blog: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
If you go back on my timeline you will no doubt find other posts from February’s past about the BAFTAs.
It’s an event I have been covering for quite a few years now and this year took a similar flow to years gone by; travel up on the Saturday, check into the hotel, cover the Nominees Party on the Saturday night, edit late, arrive at the Albert Hall for 2pm, cover the Red Carpet from 4pm till 7pm and then the Winners press room before heading back to the hotel at about 10:30 to edit till the early hours the next morning. A few hours sleep then finish the edit the Monday morning.
For the party I used 2 cameras, one with the 50-140/2.8 and the other with the 56/1.2 with the 56 used for only a few images like this one of the eventual Best Male Actor, Rami Malik
Just over 24 hours later, here he is with his award.
For the red carpet I used 3 cameras along with the 50-140, the 100-400 and again the 56 for the odd atmospheric shot
The 50-140 enabled me to get the fashion full length and half length images, combining with a Godox AD200 + remote head to fill in the shadows and detail. These are the images the magazines need as the following weeks publications around the world will be full of articles discussing the stars, their fashion successes and failures. (That is until the oscars when it will start again with a new set of outfits and stars). Getting these images is a case of setting the camera at the start and then continual concentration, the light is changing through the afternoon (white balance), the subjects may or may not look at you or even pose in front of you.
Whilst ensuring that I don’t miss the fashion shots I like to keep a careful eye out for the images I find more interesting to shoot: Tight portraits showing the emotion, the stars standing in the queue waiting to have their photos taken (every year a queue forms consisting of the technical people that no one ever sees (the unsung hero’s), standing next to the up-and-coming actors, standing next to some of the biggest stars in the movie world.
I shoot the close-ups with the 100-400, sometimes triggering a remote AD200 flash, sometimes on available light. This means using an higher ISO of 2000+ with a slower than standard recommendation shutter speeds (in most cases about 1/200th – 1/250th with the lens at about 600mm equivalence). A steady hand and good the great stabilisation of the lens rule here.
Steve Coogan waits in the queue: X-T2/100-400 @ 1/250th ISO1600
Over the course of the weekend I filed about 950 images, just under 20 were taken with the 56, about 170 with the 100-400 and the remainder with the 50-140.
I’ll post a fuller set of colour images (more likely to be seen in publications) later in the week but at the moment I thought a quick post featuring these images and a description of the working methods would give a good taste.
It’s Saturday morning and I am on the train to London. This weekend in the BAFTA’s and I will be covering the nominees party tonight before heading over to the Royal Albert Hall for the main event Sunday.
It was with this in mind that at the end of Wednesday I headed over to Eastbourne and Hastings for 2 days “off the grid” (ok, I’ll be honest I looked at my emails twice because I have an important meeting Monday and I needed to confirm the time. I also answered one phone call yesterday about today’s job). I did not look at any social media, thats no Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn, no blogging and no news. For someone who’s social media is a big part of their work, this is, to be honest, quite difficult but I did manage it. (This morning’s catch up was quite intense though!).
I spent the Thursday exploring Hastings, a town I have only really passed through. My plan was to visit the Jerwood Gallery and the Old Town and then spend some time painting (how I relax – see @artyfartyedwards on instagram). To ensure I did not take a work attitude to the photography, I took an old X-T1 with a 27mm Pancake set to extreme Black and White (thats with a Yellow Filter film simulation and +2 on the lights and shadows).
With Storm Erik in full force, the waves were stunning, I guess the shape and position of Hastings explains why the waves here were more impressive than my home town of Worthing.
The aim of the photography was just to please me. I feel that we professional photographers often get so lost in the business of photography, the commercial aspects of the image, practicing techniques to use professionally that we often forget to take time and shot just to please ourselves.
The fishing boats are a very common subject for photos in the town, its easy to see why, there are pictures every which way you look.
Of course with so much fish around, you can expect gulls and here I did switch to the one other lens I brought with me, the 35/1.4. It’s been around for quite a while but it is a favourite of mine despite being slow to focus.
The storm clouds of course do not only bring “poor weather” they can also be responsible for funnelling the light, particularly at either end of the day.
I think these images show that chasing the latest technology, the latest gizmo is not the best way to get lovely emotional images. Taking time, settling into the location, taking it slow, not worrying about what is going on elsewhere and in fact focusing 100% on whats in front of you is far more important!
I have a confession to make though. I spent a while on the beach photographing the waves. I could see what I was capturing and was loving it, in my head I was visualising how a set of these images could be printed and presented and for the first time ever, I had a yearning to be shooting on the medium format GFX (yes despite all I said above!).
So as I walked back to the car in the afternoon light after a relaxing day looking at paintings and creating photos just because…. this little thought raised it’s head… “you really do need to try the GFX you know” … “nothing to do with business you understand.. just because“..
P.s. The thought did not last long… I spent the next day painting and not worrying about the business of photography.
P.p.s. I will try the GFX once I get a suitable moment… maybe on my next time out off the grid…
I quite often enjoy a wander along Worthing beach first thing on the morning, usually with a cup of tea in my hand (I do not live far back from the beach). However this morning that tea would have gone cold rather quick.
Worthing quite often misses the snow when the country is hit, probably due to being shielded by the South Downs. However, this morning, last night’s snowfall remained and the beach still had a slight dusting. Having lived here for over 11 years now, I think this is only the 2nd or 3rd time I have seen the beach like this.
The combination of having the white of the crashing waves vs the white of the snow I thought looked quite surreal.
While snow and sea makes for nice landscapes, as a press photographer it’s the human aspect that is important, which means hanging around, watching and trying to show people dealing with the weather whilst at the same time trying to make a pretty picture.
The range of images here show working with the 16mm end of the standard zoom all the way up to the 400mm end of the long telephoto zoom (24mm to 600mm equivalent)
Finishing with a nice pretty image – where I placed the camera in the snow and used the adjustable rear live view to see what I was doing….
Always be on the look out for those different angles..
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..
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..
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….
Due to an overwhelming number of requests, here is more detailed guide of using ShutterSnitch with Fujifilm X-Series Cameras.
This is probably my most information-laden post to date. There is a lot of information here as it details configuration of the camera and software taking the image from the camera to the client via ShutterSnitch.
I am going to ignore SD card import as when use the SD Card I tend to move the images though Lightroom Mobile before transmitting via ShutterSnitch (so joining this workflow at the point of adding the metadata and transmitting).
Previously ShutterSnitch was heavily based on Actions (a series of actions carried out on an image either upon receipt of the image or by user action). With the addition of the Image Adjustment and Metadata Editing add-ons (accessible from the options menu), my use of the software has shifted slightly.
‘Snitch can connect to the x-Series cameras to receive images exactly the same way as the Fuji app, with both Push from Camera and Browse and Download both being available via the Camera WiFi button. In addition the app can also serve as a tether server, receiving images directly from the camera as they are shot. As I have covered the standard WiFi functionality in the past here, I will step through the tether setup quickly.
In ShutterSnitch, ensure support for Fujifilm WiFi is enabled, accepting only jpgs.
Whilst in the settings, it may also be a good time to look at your jpg compression settings (for resizing & sending).
Next to set up the camera. Tethering is where the iPad really works. Enable the hotspot and connect the camera to this hotspot through the connection settings. It is not the simplest and will probably require a couple of attempts (apologies for the poor images – they were taken with the phone whilst on a train):
Note in the image above how the Resize for SmartPhone 3M is turned off. This setting has been responsible for a great many queries on “my images are small” (I’ll be honest, I have also sent smaller than planned images to Picture Desks also).
To connect to the iPad you will need to use the Manual Setup option, waiting for the Camara to find the Wireless HotSpot.
Once setup it is easy to flip between the normal mode of saving images to the card (PC Shoot Mode – Off) , or tethered to the iPad (PC Shoot Mode – Wireless Fixed). Remember, the app will only connect to a camera when in a Collection. The small LED on the camera will indicate the state of the tether:
With the app in a collection and PC Shoot Mode set, the LED should flash red, then amber as it looked for the app, finally flashing Green when ready.
Note: The camera will switch to a single shot mode when tethering – CL & CH modes are not supported.
All of the information I have seen suggest that in Tethered mode all images are sent to the host application and none remain on the card. My findings point to that being true on an X-T2 with no battery grip. However (and this is a key feature for me), with a battery grip and the camera sent to record both RAW & JPG with Save Data Setup set to RAW / JPEG (ie. RAW images to slot 1 and JPG to slot 2), the JPG images are sent to the iPAD whilst the RAW images remain on card 1. This enables me to do a quick edit and send from the JPG’s on location, with the safety of being to go back over the RAW images when I have time for a more considered edit at the office.
Finally the images are on their way to ShutterSnitch but what now?
This is where Actions may first be applied. Before you enter your collection, from the Options menu, Select Actions and decide what the app will do with every image as it receives it.
My workflow here assigns basic Metadata for the images I’m shooting. I create my basic metadata in PhotoMechanic on my Mac, saving it to a transfer folder on Dropbox. Moving to Dropbox on the iPad, select the relevant file and then the Export option picking Copy to ShutterSnitch (you may need to enable that in the sharing … More )
And create an Update Metadata Action (note can also save as a Metadata Editor Preset for later):
Title the Action, double check the Metadata and back to Tasks to save.
Moving the pointer to this task will ensure it is run on every image as recieved.
As stated above, switch to a collection and the camera (in tether mode) should find the app. If using the traditional WiFi connection, Start the WiFi on the camera and connect the iPad to the camera’s hotspot before moving to the collection – as you move you will be prompted wether to Browse and Download or Push from Camera.
Images will appear, with Jump to New Images enabled (button at the right end of the filmstrip), the latest image will show. The description may or may not be displayed depending on a setting in the main options.
Once loaded the image may be edited with the Image Adjustments add-in, accessed from the top title bar.
Most of the adjustments are obvious- one interesting aspect is the crop/zoom at the top. The usual iOS interface of using 2 fingers to zoom and pan the image work here – if in zoom mode, it is the standard zooming in and out to check the image, in crop mode, the image is being cropped as displayed. The aspect ratio may be selected from the lower right.
A useful shortcut when cropping is the 2-finger double-tap – this will rotate the image back straight (well as straight as you took it), i.e. zero rotation, leaving the zoom as it is.
The Metadata add-in is also selected from the Titlebar.
Again, this is mostly self evident. The buttons under the image enable moving from image to image as well as filtering the images and tagging the current.
The buttons under the data are:
- Apply Preset (either created earlier as discussed as above or from the current data)
- Choose which fields should be displayed and in which order (move the most import data to the top).
- Revert to original Metadata.
- Copy MetaData
- Paste Metadata
If I am working on a very urgent job, I send images individually as I edit them and I have a specific action for this. Otherwise I send in a batch, using Colour Tags and filters to display my selection for sending.
Pressing the standard iOS share button on the title bar enables the selection of images for the action.
One of my favorite features here is the select all following option, I select the 1st image of my set to send, then press the select all following to select the the rest.
Pressing the actions (cog) icon on the titlebar displays the available actions. The key here is just to press the action you need, DO NOT move the pointer as this will select the action to be run upon image import!
I have a number of export actions which work in different ways depending on the recipient.
They are all similar, renaming the file using the collection name and then sending to a particular outlet.
Note the Pre-Process option under the Export Location, this enables the resizing of images to suit the use (compression settings are in the main options as mentioned above).
As well as the image delivery action for clients, you will see I have archiveactions which copy the images to a folder in dropbox for me to add to my main Lightroom catalog back in the office.
While the editing and captioning tools are not as comprehensive as say the combination of PhotoMechanic and Lightroom/Photoshop , this workflow does provide a very workable and light-weight way to process and transmit images very quickly.
As ever, I hope it makes sense. Any question, please comment below 🙂
The next posts will feature my thoughts on the 27mm Pancake lens on both the X-T1 and X-T2 and long term thoughts on the 100-400 with the 1.4 converter.