Time Out

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…

Fuji and Godox at an event.

Once a month I can be found at the British Film Institute (BFI) working as the official photographer at film critic Mark Kermode’s live show.

Steve Coogan, Nadine Labaki, Mark Kermode, Liv Hill, James Gardner and Cyril Nri backstage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. The guests gather backstage before the show. Picture by Julie Edwards.

This entails working backstage to get a nice group shot of Mark with all of the guests as well as joining everyone for a pre-show run though to make sure I know the order as well as the host and the guests. This way I can make sure that I am always positioned in the best possible position to get good images of both Mark and the guests which are suitable for both social media and press. For the group shot I use an X-T2 with the 16-55/F2.8 coupled with a Godox TTL wireless controller and an Ad200 handheld high above me near the ceiling. This way I can be sure to get (fairly) even lighting without flash fare or reflections in any spectacles.

Steve Coogan on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. Steve joined Mark to chat about his film Stan and Ollie which he is watching here. Picture by Julie Edwards.

During the show I work with 2 X-T2’s, usually in Astia film simulation, preset to a fixed kelvin white balance, one with the 16-55, the other with the 50-140. As well as photographing the obvious, I am always looking out for the less obvious, the images that might capture the atmosphere of the event. The image above was shot at 10000iso, 1/100th and F2.8, and as you can see, with a little bit of an edit on the RAW file, its fine for social media and press use.

Nadine Labaki on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. Nadine joined Mark onstage to discuss her film Capernaum. Picture by Julie Edwards.

I tend to have the focus set to “s”, sometimes with Face Recognition, sometimes without. Using it makes images like the above a whole lot easier to capture.

Mark Kermode on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. . Picture by Julie Edwards.

Within minutes of the show ending, the images are on my laptop, loaded into lightroom and I start posting to social media (facebook, twitter and instagram) to publicise the event (with fully researched hashtags and handles where appropriate). At the same time, appropriate images are syndicated to press.

Working this way I am able to help build the reputation and visibility of any event I am employed to cover…..

Steve Coogan on stage at Mark Kermode Live in 3D on Monday 28 January 2019 at BFI Southbank, London. Steve joined Mark to chat about his film Stan and Ollie. Picture by Julie Edwards.

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