Mobile Workflow Overview

I mentioned in my last post that these writings would be more about my workflow, thoughts and practices and less about camera equipment reviews.

The next few posts will revisit my mobile workflow and the use of the iPad as a very serious tool (laptop replacement), starting with this very basic overview.

A very poor iPhone image of my iPad in its keyboard case

My mobile (travel) kit consists of;

  • IPad Pro M1
  • Gold and Cherry iPad keyboard case
  • Apple Pencil
  • Apple Magic Mouse (Series 2 preferred)
  • Lightroom Mobile (Adobe photography plan inc. Photoshop)
  • ShutterSnitch
Lightroom Mobile & ShutterSnitch running in a split screen

One of the key improvements over the last couple of years of using the iPad has been the multitasking (various split screens, slide over etc) and later posts will show how the applications can work together in a similar way to a full blown computer (mac or otherwise).

The workflow outline:

  • Create Collection in Lightroom for job
  • Import from memory cards direct into collection
  • Select and edit photos in lightroom
  • Add titles
  • Create a collection in ShutterSnitch for the job
  • Share images to ShutterSnitch collection which completes the captioning and sends via ftp
  • Archive the images
Lightroom during the image selection and editing process

The next post will start to detail the intricacies of using Lightroom efficiently and outline some possible pitfalls (there are a few!).

Until then.

New Way Forward (and Cannes)

It’s fairly obvious I have been neglecting this blog. Actually thats not true. I have not been neglecting it, I have been avoiding it. The question is why and what do I want to do about it?

I might be a poor writer but I do enjoy it (it took me 5 or 6 attempts to pass what was the English Langage ‘O’ level when I was at school (scraping through as I took my final ‘A’ levels). I also enjoy passing on knowledge.

When I started this page, it was the early days of the Fujifilm X-System, the early days of mirrorless and this place seemed the ideal place to put down my thoughts and experiences, passing these on so others (you dear reader) can learn from my errors and not make the same mistakes. Well that was something like 8 years ago and the technology world has changed as has the camera market with most of the manufactures having mirrorless products. Online review sites have exploded with video review sites getting far more views (and influence) than written sites with the actual experience of the reviewer seeming to be way less important to both the manufacturers and viewers.

Fujifilm has just announced the X-H2, it sounds like a very capable camera which I have not seen. The reviews are promising and so I have one on back-order with my supplier and if what I read is true, it will put us X-system users back on a more level playing field when it comes to Auto-Focus performance. However, when I get it, I wont review it. I might comment on some technology that makes my life easier but I will no longer review any product because basically, what interests me is what makes my job easier, faster etc.

If you want reviews stick to the sites that make reviewing part of their business. They get large follower counts, large followings means free review kit and good advertising revenue. How good they are as photographers, how deep their experience of photography and the “sharp end” of the photography business has very little to do with a good review site (and as far as the manufacturers are concerned, the only real measure is the number of followers). If this sounds like a gripe, it’s not. I get it. Who cares that I (or other photography writers) shoot more images in a month (or maybe even a week) and get them published around the world. That does not matter if only a few hundred of people know.

So I am going to stick with the “sharp end”, what counts. How do I work? What are my business practices? Can I improve how I (and you) work?

The next few posts will be about my new mobile workflow and the use of (the rather fast) M1 iPad Pro . In the meantime, here are a few of teh 6000 images I sent out from 10 days in Cannes, all shot on Fujifilm and edited/sent from the iPad.

A post (card) from Venice

Hopefully you have noticed that I have started posting a little more often – I am trying to get back into the “write every Monday” habit. It’s not quite there yet but I am making more of an effort.

I am writing this in the press room at Venice Film Festival (those of you that follow my social media will have seen I have been here since the 2nd). I planned the trip as a quick smash and grab; come over for a busy part of the festival, get some shots and go home before the end. Yesterday and today are a little respite before my final day tomorrow and trip home.

Photographers are reflected in the glass doors of the The Palazzo del Cinema before the Premiere of SUNDOWN during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on Sunday 5 September 2021 at The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia, Venice. Picture by Julie Edwards

I always say that we (photographers) are paid to wait till that moment we can make the image. Sometimes the wait can be long.

This is now the 3rd trip I have made away in these interesting times (covid times); Cannes a few months ago and Venice a year ago. It’s fascinating to see how things have changed in the past year.

A year ago we had masks and 2M distancing for photographers working on the carpet but no other measures. (The wearing of masks generally over here seems very well adhered to, especially on public transport). Now we have not only masks but also attendees need a Green Pass, which in Italy is either proof of double vaccination or a proof of a negative test within 48 hours. There seems to be more responsibility placed on the individual though, whereas I have been used to (in the UK and France) to need to show this pass before entering, here they reply on spot checks and social responsibility, which means things flow far more smoothly.

Line 20: From Venice to The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia.

I stay in the main city of Venice, taking the Line 20 from St Marks to Lido twice a day. The Vaporetto (water busses) are mostly old and noisy but its a lovely 20 minute ride, especially if I manage to get the rear facing outside seats giving the view above.

Anya Taylor-Joy poses on the red carpet for LAST NIGHT IN SOHO during the 78th Venice International Film Festival. Picture by Julie Edwards.

With red carpet events being few and far between over the past 18 months it seems a few photographers were a little more “vocal” than normal when Anya hit the carpet for the well-received Last Night in Soho, so much so that she walked away for a while after asking for a bit more calm. I like to think I would have done the same. I have often heard the argument that the person on the carpet should not get upset because its their job but I always counter how would you feel if if were your daughter or partner being shouted out like that?

Very few photographers in the media positions have been the other side, walking the carpet and to be honest, its horrible (even if its not you thats being photographed), the lights and the shouting has to be experienced to be understood. It might be their job but it is almost impossible to look at every photographer and besides, the skill of the photographer is actually catching that split second, or as in this case, making an image that does not need it. It should not be a case of Who can shout the loudest.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac poses on the red carpet for SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday 4 September 2021 at The Palazzo del Cinema, Lido di Venezia, Venice. . Picture by Julie Edwards.

I started this post with no plan, I was not really sure what I was going to write about. It’s always interesting how the thoughts and words flow and sometimes you just have to go with it to see where it leads; hopefully it’s a worthwhile exercise.

More soon.

Julie

Lens in the Bag

One of the most annoying questions I see (almost every day) posted in Facebook groups and the like are “what lens should I buy next”, often with very little explanation. (I am willing to accept that this is my issue and lack of tolerance).

With this question in mind, this post is a run-through of the lenses I took to Cannes along with quick explanations of how I used them along with samples.

This is the list of lenses I used and image count of each from this years Cannes folder (taken from Lightroom)

Tackling that list in order, I start with the workhorse; the 16-55/F2.8 Of all the lenses, this is the lens that is probably of most use in general purpose photography. From a wide angle through to a slight telephoto (full frame equivalence of approximately 24-70), it is suitable for almost everything and should (almost) be the starting point for any kit bag.

In Cannes, my main use of this lens is on the Red Carpet, mounted on a X-T3 with the V1 flash fitted for shooting the full-length fashion type images as well as half-length portraits.

16-55 @ approx 16mm / F3.5
16-55 @ approx 32mm / F2.8
16-55 @ approx 52mm / F3.5

At the start of the week, I experimented using the 27mm pancake lens on the Red Carpet – mostly I use it as a camera body cap and walk-around lens. The way it deals with light coming directly into the lens (flare control) means it was not really suitable on the carpet or at gigs

27mm @ F3.6

Both of these lenses are perfectly good and produce nice contrast images (if you set your camera up appropriately) but for me, they show up the limitation of using an APS-C sensor, there is a limitation on getting a shallow depth of field. For this reason my two really favourite lens are the 56mm/F1.2 & the 90mm/F2 . I use both of these in a similar way.

The 56 is a great portrait lens, the distances involved on the Red Carpet means I usually create 3 quarter or half-length images with it, always shooting wide open. After all there is no point using a nice fast lens and then not making use of the shallower depth-of-field.

56mm @ F1.2

The 90mm I use in the same way, just tighter images (normally on the X-T2 body as the focal length leads to the images rarely needing much cropping). One thing I will say is the 90mm does seem to produce richer images than the 56.

90mm @ F2

The 50-140 telephoto lens is another real workhorse lens, enabling me to get fairly tight portraits when the subjects are at a closer range or full-length group shots up on the staircase. I think (on my X-T3’s with grips) that this lens handles fantastically, the zoom ring is lovely and smooth.

50-140mm @111mm / F2.8
50-140mm @140mm / F2.8

Because of distances, crowds, my love of tight portraits and less posed images, my 100-400 is my second most used lens (after the 16-55). With it I can shoot the talent in the crowds at the head of the carpet, create really tight and personal looking portraits on the carpet as well as head-shots up the stairs.

100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @234mm / F5
100-400mm @190mm / F5

Hope this post gives a little insight on how my use of lenses helps to create different images and gives me more creative options.

Next week I will write my guide to back restorative exercises needed after carrying them all around for 2 weeks. Actually I will probably write about the GFX50R which I purchased last winter during the lockdown with the prime aim of shooting more landscapes (and for use in the studio shooting portraits).

Happy Shooting. J

Cannes, Covid & Brexit

Covering Cannes this year provided a couple of firsts for me. 

  • It was the first full-on red carpet event since the start of the pandemic (Although I was in Venice last August, I cant really count it as a full-on event as the restrictions compared to normal were quite extreme (justifiably).
  • It was the first travel time traveling into the EU since the UK finally left it.

As you can imagine – both of these points had a significant impact on working the event, all around COIVD-19.

During the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. Covid-19 test results or proof of double vaccinations being checked as a requirement to enter the Palais. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

For anyone to access the event, COVID-19 status (Vaccination or Negative PCR test) had to be proved (a type of COVID-19 passport that is currently under debate in the UK), this had to be proved using the French app (TousAntiCovid ) or a printed QR code . This is where we experienced the first real impact of Brexit, the TousAntiCovid system does not recognise non-EU vaccination records. This meant that all non-EU nationals had to undergo testing every 48 hours whereas EU nationals did not.

During the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. The Covid-19 testing site provided for festival attendees free of charge. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

For all of the Festival, good anti covid measures were in place, distancing, cleaning, mandatory masks.

Festival attendees in masks at the “Benedetta” Red Carpet during the 74th Cannes International Film Festival on Friday 9 July 2021 at Palais des festivals, Cannes. All attendees to the festival are required to wear masks in the Palais des festivals including on the red carpet. They are removed for photographs to be taken. Picture by Julie Edwards/LFI/Avalon.

However consider how working red carpet photographers have to operate; spacing measures just cannot be implemented. Photocalls and Red Carpet events had us standing shoulder to shoulder and pushing like in the good old days, for hours at a time. Black masks were mandatory (to tie in with the evening dress code) but let’s be honest, most masks are not really adequate in this situation.

Palais des festivals, Cannes, France. 9 July 2021. Photographers working at “Benedetta” Red Carpet. Photographers working on the Red Carpet are in close proximity to each other and are required to wear masks. Picture by Julie Edwards

If you are planning to work in the EU, it might be an idea to consider the following (assuming where you are working might have the same regulations):

If an EU national had caught COVID-19 (still possible even with double vaccinations), due to the proximity of other photographers at events it would have spread. The EU nationals , with their vaccination passports would continue to work (untested) while the non-EU nationals, when tested would be found to be positive and unable to work.

The bottom line is – in modern times, the UK being an island is only a physical attribute. For so many , our work is cross border and for work of any kind to be able to continue whilst COVID-19 is still a factor, a world-wide passport system needs to be developed.

Palais des festivals, Cannes, France. 11 July 2021. Bella Hadid attends the “Three Floors” Red Carpet. . Picture by Julie Edwards

The next post will talk more about actually shooting the festival on the X-T2 & X-T3’s . 

More Soon.

J

ShutterSnitch Metadata Editor – A quick look

The last two posts on mobile workflow have raised a few questions from readers on how I deal with metadata. I thought I had dealt with it in previous posts (admittedly a long while back) but re-reading them it seems I had not covered everything.

Therefore this is just a quick overview. I am actually looking at running a course or two on this mobile workflow in the UK this year in conjunction with theBPPA. If you are interested, please let me know and I will send out booking information if and when…

A quick apology for the image I have used in this post – it was all I had on the iPad at the point I outlined this post.

From our last post we are at a point where there is a collection of images in ShutterSnitch either with or without metadata in the title field.

The first issue is, where do we start with our data? Can we start with Photomechanic? The answer to this is yes we can. I export the XMP from PM into Dropbox and then on the iPAD, export the file into ShutterSnitch.

Select file in DropBox / Export / Copy to Shutter / Create a Preset

The i Icon on the top toolbar switches ShutterSnitch to the Metadata Editor.

The Metadata Editor

As shown in the above images there are a number of options along the lower screen. The left-most tool is the Preset Editor

The choices are just to select a preset or use the Edit button to edit the presets available (the usual iOS left swipe to delete) or click to edit. Hold down to duplicate an existing preset.

The blue circle tick to the right indicates wether the field is applied in the preset, so if using the title field from Lightroom this would be unticked next to the Title/Object Name. Notice the %%titleObject%% – this is a variable, much the same as the Photomechanic variables although they are named differently.

If using Photomechanic , the variables will need replacing. There are far fewer in ShutterSnitch. They may be accessed from the tool hi-lighted above. Below is a typical preset driven by the Title/Object Name field with the date automatically added also.

Note: It does not seem possible to add variables into the keywords at the moment.

Headline, Caption, Keywords and other metadata in the preset.

If driving the Title / Object Name from Lightroom, the above preset could be applied to all images when selected and a quick check as you flick through will reveal all of the fields set.

Once the preset is created, other tools are available in the editor. Quick select strings (which are field sensitive, so create them in the Title field if that is where you plan to insert them) may be created and selected.

This enables a list to be built, maybe copying and pasting from a website before the event

Use Split Screen on the iPAD to Copy/Paste into Quick Select Strings

The final options are Shortcodes.

Press and hold to edit the available lists. Creating new Sets and editing are fairly straightforward.

In use Shortcodes are slightly less usable than in Photomechanic as after entering the code (however many letters you use), the Icon (tee-shirt) needs a quick click for the software to expand the code to it’s full length. Shortcodes do, however save on spelling errors and incorrectly titled subjects.

All that is left after adding the metadata is to send using FTP or other Actions which are well covered towards the end of this post.

There are many more options are settings but hopefully this will get you moving. As always, please ask any questions in the comments to that others can also learn.

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

 

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

GFX50S – First Touch for a digital medium format 1st timer.

Next week I have the first of a couple of large interiors architecture shoot. As I was planning the shoot I realised this would be the ideal test bed for the Fujifilm “medium format” GFX50S camera.

Until this week my only experience with medium format is my vintage Rolliflex, so I have never shot with anything other than Full-Frame or APS-C on digital. With this in mind I arranged to hire a GFX with the 23mm and the 32-64mm for a good few days before the shoot. My plan was to carry it with me instead of a little X-T to get the feel of the camera.

The first day I had it I needed to pop up to Gatwick Airport. Shot with the 23mm at F20, ISO800 (Not the ideal settings, I was rushing!!) , this JPG was shot in ACROS. I love the graduations in the greys, which given it is a JPG with it’s limited grey levels is quite an achievement.

I was struggling to find the limits of focusing, reframing and at what speeds I could hand hold the camera. It’s not really that much bigger or heavier than the full frame Nikon’s I used for years but there is a whole different feel (especially where depth of field is concerned) . This is another ISO800 JPG.

(Sorry for mixing colour and monochrome, a big no-no normally).

I’m sure every photographer has a long suffering partner that is asked to pose of “just look up” again and again and again. This RAF was shot hand-held at 1/40th on the 32-64 at 64mm. At 3200ISO and F4, using the Classic Chrome profile in lightroom mobile I love not only the colours and the graduations from light to dark, but also the way the sharpness in the eyes transition to the milky soft out of focus areas.

Its this transition in sharpness that give medium format its “almost 3D” quality.

This final picture was shot this morning, at 1/3000, F9, ISO100. The RAF edited in lightroom mobile has had the Velvia Profile applied and a couple of selective edits. This is only a small version of the image, you will have to take my word on how much detail there is in the wave.

So after a couple of days, what are my initial thoughts?

It’s not as big and as heavy as I thought it would be, its not much worse than say a D800 with a decent lens on it. Of course it is slower than its smaller Fuji cousins but I kind of like that, it reminds me to slow down and this about the shot I’m taking, I cant take 2 or 3 frames at high speed so I have to concentrate on the moment.

I was nicely surprised on how well Lightroom Mobile handled both the JPG and RAF files on my 2018 generation iPad Pro . Sure the previews took a while to build in the photos application import but copying over was fast, as was the ingesting into lightroom and editing.

The only real niggle I have at the moment is a user interface issue. The GFX50S has most of the buttons (in similar places) that the X-T range have. Why then can I not assign the front dial to ISO like on the smaller cameras. I could argue with myself that “well fast use is not what it is designed for, you are probably not going to be following action with the GFX50S up to your eye needing quick adjustments”. This is true, on a tripod or in a studio the top-plate dial is fine but why limit it? It’s only software. Why are these things not more consistent??

I had avoided this camera since its release because I was worried that I would love its image quality, I was right to worry….

More to follow….

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

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