Big Photo/Stock Trip Next Year….

Right now, my spouse and I are planning a big trip for next summer.  I am going to visit where I was born 59 years ago: Cuba.  Santa Clara to be exact, but I’ll also be traveling around the island to visit other locations.  I’ll be picking up a travel guide on Amazon shortly to begin the initial planning stages.  This photo/stock trip will probably be the biggest I undertake in 2017 so I need to make it count.  I’m beginning to consider what I’ll be taking with me and what stays behind; I also have to get more information on exactly what I’ll need to get there as far as passports, which we have, but visa’s, etc.  So, that will be a trip up to NYC to take care of that.  With the Zika virus spreading I also want to be sure both my spouse and I are vaccinated with whatever immunizations we need for our personal safety.
At this stage in the planning I only want to take the bare minimum I need for clothing — cargo shorts, sneakers, some T’s and polo shirts.  I do plan on leaving most of my clothing behind, for the locals, if you know what I mean.  They need it more than me.

I do not plan on taking a laptop on this trip.  I would be too worried about safeguarding it in the various hotels we’ll be staying at.  I have enough memory cards to bring back approximately 9000 jpeg+raw images on my Fuji X-T1.  I am almost certain the X-T1 will be the camera I will take with me — leaving the Nikon D800e at home. That is unless I opt to get the Fuji X-T2 and use the ‘1 as a backup body just in case.  Not sure what I’ll be doing about that yet.  I certainly don’t want to get caught with my pants down and take only one camera and have it somehow get damaged.  That would be disastrous for me.

Lenses:  First and foremost:  my “don’t leave home without it” lens the Fuji 18-55.  I really could glue that to the X-T1 and be happy forever that’s how much I love that lens.  My second lens will definitely be the Fuji 16mm 1.4.   After that, I think it will be either the Zeiss 12mm 2.8 though I question how much I really will use it.. . Or a toss-up between the 23 or 35mm.  I can pretty much guarantee the 55-200 will stay home though.  Throw in my seven batteries, one charger (though I have multiple chargers), plus my 77mm filter set of two polarizers, and a 4 and 10stop ND filters;  a couple of microfiber cloths and a Giotto blower plus my small travel Sirui tripod and I think I have my kit laid out.  However, being this trip is ten months out, I’m sure I’ll be revisiting my choices an excruciating number of times.

For backup of my memory cards?  Haven’t thought about that yet.  Honestly, I’m inclined not to take anything but I know my OCD won’t allow that.  As I said I’m not taking a laptop with me so whatever device I decide to use will have to be PC/Mac independent.  I have read of several devices that allow uploads from the memory cards right into the unit but I have not done much research on them but on the one I did look into the reviews were not too positive.  I am planning on taking my iPhone and my small iPad mini in order to stay in touch with family back in the states whenever possible.  My iPad has no where near enough memory to handle most of my images but if I can find a device that will allow me to plug in my cards, and channel them from the cards right into my Amazon cloud drive (as a prime member I get free unlimited storage) whenever wi-fi is available it may solve my problem of not enough space/loss of SD card problem.  I’ll need to start looking into that.

More to come as I continue to work on this upcoming photo/stock trip.

Lil Bit of Camera Porn This Morning

This is my X-T1, and my D800e.  I was cleaning out my gear after returning from a road trip and had placed them on a coffee table.  They were both begging to be photographed!

So I complied with their wishes.  Take a look at the size differential!!  Yeah, yeah I know the 800e has the battery grip but that’s how I use it 99% of the time.  The X-T1 does not as I like to keep it lightweight.

My wife wonders why I always grab the Fuji — Wonder no more.

Last Nights Amazing Sunset

I’m sitting at home glancing out the windows and notice the sky has cleared up.  I’m also noticing some amazing wispy clouds floating by.  So it’s like 7pm, sunset is at 7:40p and I grab my gear and shoot out the door.   As I’m flying downtime two-lane road I’m thinking I’m going to miss the best part of the sunset as I see the sky lighting up around me.  Well, I arrived at the Marshall Point Lighthouse with about 10 minutes to spare and quickly grab my gear;  unfortunately, my tripod was in my other car which my wife was driving.

From my backpack, as I didn’t have time to swap my gear into one of my shoulder bags I grabbed my X-T1,with the 18-55, and the 16mm 1.4.  That’s all I used during this amazing display of light and shadow.  The image stabilizer on the 18-55 lens truly helped nail a few images as some of my handheld exposures were in the 1/7th to 1/15th of a second.

As it got darker and darker I swapped to the faster 16mm 1.4 and used that — even though I had to push the ISO up to the 800 level.  I am so far very happy with my results from last night.  More images to come from St. George Island soon!



Finally Arrived!

I’m finally up in Maine!  Yay!  I left New Jersey in 115 degree temperature, and when I shot this image it was 58 degrees!  Can you believe that!  I’m standing in a fine wet mist, with heavy fog rolling in off the ocean in a polo shirt just enjoying the weather and there are people all around me huddled together in sweatshirts and hoodies.  If they only knew…

This image is one of the first two or three I took.  It is the “Bug light”  Lighthouse in South Portland Maine.  I stopped in Portland for fuel and food;  My goal was to hit the Two lights state park but I arrived so late due to traffic and such that I missed the sunset. However, I feel this blue hour image of the Bug Light is so much better (IMHO)

So, it’ll be a busy week.  I’ll try to post further.   JLM_1350

My Queue is Finally Empty

After eleven months my new photos queue in Lightroom is empty.  I’ve filed away into their appropriate folders, edited whatever was needed, prepared those images going to stock sales, and submitted at least 70% of the ones I had selected to go out.

But the best part is:  The Queue is EMPTY!  Since September 2015 I’ve had images in that folder awaiting review, editing, keywording among other things.  Now it’s all done.

However, tomorrow I leave for a few days of photography; this time it’s for myself more than work related stock and travel.  I plan on experimenting with Panoramics, HDR, and long exposure among other things.  We shall see what I return with.  If I can post from the road, I will.

Tonight I’ll be selecting the gear I plan to take.  Since this is a car trip, with the exception of when we go off into the woods for a hike, the gear should pretty much stay put in the back seat in my backpack so I think I’ll probably pack everything PLUS the kitchen sink.  As always, I’ll have a couple of smaller messenger bags that are always with me for those times when i’m off on a walking adventure.


This Weekend…

This weekend I spent time with my grandsons; the two oldest ones… I took over 450 images of the two little boogers in total —  What camera I hear you asking?  Ok, maybe you are not but I’m tellin’ ya anyway:

I used the Nikon D800E with a 50mm lens.  I also found in my wife’s food pantry my pocket wizards, and my SB700 flash;  Why was it in the pantry?  I have no clue!  She probably found it laying around the house and decided to put it away for me.  This is pretty much all the dSLR gear I’ve left since moving to the Fuji X series.  Why didn’t I use the Fuji?  Well, silly me I left it at a relatives home after shooting there over the July 4th long weekend.  Yeah.  Left it behind.  Can you believe that!?  I can’t.

So, I had to break out the D800e.  It had been quite a while since I used it last.  The 50mm 1.8G is the only lens I have after selling or giving away everything else.  I set it to portrait color rendering,  slapped on the PW’s and the SB700 Flash and that’s what I used all day Friday, and Saturday.  And, I have to admit it was FUN!  Did I miss my Fuji X-T1?  Hell yes but, with the Fuji on CH, and 8FPS I would have shot ALOT more than the 463 images I took with the D800e.  I had the Nikon set to jpeg only which is a no-no for me; I am usually in jpeg+raw.  Here is one of the images with the D800e, 50mm 1.8G and the SB700 bounced off a white ceiling off-camera.  JPEG SOOC.  ISO 400.


I will say it was awesome having the ability to easily, and quickly fire remote flash, plus the focusing speed of the D800e made for lots of images which i “may” not have been able to make with the Fuji I’m sad to say.  I hadn’t used my D800e in so long I had forgotten how fast it was.

Will I now switch back to Nikon?  Heck No!  I love, love, love Fuji and The D800e is for those times I need a bit more resolution — unlikely, but it has come up from an editor here and there  on a few occasions so I keep it around.  Besides, I only have the 50mm lens and I love the Fuji 16mm (24mm FF equivalent) so I doubt I’ll be shooting a lot of landscapes with it.  Besides, it is still so darn heavy and bulky there is no way to be stealthy with this beast — especially with the battery grip I had on which only made it bigger.

I am extremely satisfied with the images though and, well, in all honesty I spent Sunday morning pixel-peeping in LR as the 15-20MB jpegs in LR are just gloriously full of pixels and details.  :)  Sorry.  Gear nerd took over momentarily.

As I’ve stated on and on Fuji X Forum I will be upgrading to the X-T2 probably next spring or early summer;  I’m just waiting for all the rose-colored glasses to come off so we can see the true picture (pun absolutely intended) of what it can and can’t do, what the true image quality is compared to A, B, and C, and what issues, if any, have been discovered in user reviews.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts and on the various blogs of the problems I had with my original D800 – not the “E” series, just plain ole D800.  I want to study what the non- X photographers have to say about the X-T2.  This will only happen after the camera has been released into the wild, and actually purchased and paid for by reviewers. I’m in no way saying those X Photogs who are giving us their personal experiences are not being honest – by no  means am I claiming that.  I just have a thing where I much prefer independent reviews.  Period.   The independent ones  IMHO, are the reviews that matter most.

That’s it for me.  Wrapping it up now.

Just Say “NO” To the Fancy Bag

Little bit of humor here.  Ok.  Maybe not.  I’ve said it before both here, and elsewhere these man bags such as the Billinghams, and the other fancy bags do have a place in the workplace, but not in the field.  Quite frankly I never seen any of these hipsters who carry these fancy uncreased bags around cosmopolitan town even going out into the field in their tight-ass pants, and loafers.  Oh. Sorry, ranting again.  Give me a break guys.  Buying a camera bag, a lousy camera bag for $300 dollars and up, to put it down in dirt and mud, and snow, or wet sand and saltwater?  No.  Not for me.  And I doubt any of these fancy bag toters do either.  Many just want to look cool as they slowly extricate their fancy cameras out of the well-oiled bags to take that selfie, or the foodie shot, then Oh so cool, slide the camera in for another week of storage.  Give me a break.

Now, here in the photo is a true working bag.  This bag cost me $29.95.  It’s canvas.  Cloth.  Period.  Inside is a 3 velcro pocket Jill-E insert for $10.00.  See all that gear?  That’s what I packed yesterday for a short day hike into a bamboo forest. It has SIX (6) pockets just on the OUTSIDE!

I’ve included some images here so you can see what can be accomplished with minimal gear.  Oh, BTW, all of these images, and many more are already for sale on Shutterstock as of 5:00am Sunday morning. Yeah. I’m fast and the X-T1 files, couples with the amazing lenses don’t require a lot of post.

So, if you want to look like a coffee-shop dwelling Brooklyn broke hipster who shoots food, and selfies, go ahead and get yourself a Billingham, or “billingmuch” as I call them, if you want to make yourself useful get yourself a real bag.  Try the think tank series.  Either that, or get the hell out of my way as I make my images.

Thank you.  Rant over.  I’ve now taken cover and am ready for the rebuttals as to how great these expensive bags are other than for image enhancement, like botox…

Cleaning Up My Social Media

I’ve come to the realization that as a stock and travel photographer I really don’t need the social media scene.  It’s just not worth it.  At all.  I don’t make money on any of these sites; nothing.  It’s a complete waste of my time.  A huge time suck.  I only post to share the beauty of what I photograph with friends and family, and let’s face it for the rush of the “likes” but in all honesty I really don’t care.  Posting on social media does not turn into any monetary incentive.  You know what does turn in fast money?  My images.  I am backlogged from images that I’ve yet to catalog, keyword and sort going back to October 2015.  I know the images in question will make money for me once I get them out into the stock and travel world but I’ve yet to do so.  This is where my money is, and where I need to focus my attention — not on social media to vie for some likes from folks that I don’t even know.

I realize that for many photographers the social media thing makes a huge difference in keeping their name in the public eye especially if they are in the wedding, portraiture, and commercial markets.  I’m not. Many thousands of my clients over the years don’t know me, nor could they care less who I am as long as the images they purchase from me through the various stock agencies and sites that represent me,  accomplish the task for which they were purchased.

I’m tired.  Of it all.  So over the last couple of days I’ve been “unfollowing” a ton of people, companies, and other stuff from FB.  For the time being I only kept some immediate family — notice I said “some” not all of them;  and a couple of close friends.  If I decide to go further I may remove FB completely.  Honestly, it’s a time suck.  No matter how you look at it.

This Blog:  Meh.  Not sure what to do here.  I may just keep it to post on occasion. Maybe.  It’s not like I get a lot of readers or views.

Instagram:  I love the likes.  But, like FB the primary reason I keep it is because my daughter posts images of my grandkids on there so I don’t miss out on so much of what’s going on.  If it were not for that, it would be gone.

Flickr:  I barely post there anymore.  I’m considering bringing it all down.

Website(s):  Closed both down years ago.  Then I went back to SmugMug.  Had it all up and running, then just a couple of weeks ago I removed all my images.  No longer interested as it’s a time suck.

That’s pretty much my stand on social media at the moment so if you try to access this site and can’t, well, you know then my decision.



After 2 Years, 3 Months, 20 Days…

Finally!!! A camera strap for my X-T1! YAY! I found one I can get behind! The Peak Design Leash Camera Strap! Yes, over two years without a strap; well, not actually without. I’ve tried several. I tried my “UpStrap” that I removed off my D700 and D800 bodies before I sold them – they were way too heavy and unwieldy for the X-T1. I transferred my Gordy’s Camera strap from my X-E1 – then I lost it somewhere. No idea when. I then invested in a Black Rapids camera strap that attaches to the camera’s tripod socket; very nice, bright orange, not very subtle; not for me. (and it’s available for sale to anyone in the US if you are interested).

I was looking for something that was lightweight. Strong. Thin. Low profile. That I, a large fella can wear as a sling strap without the strap being under my armpit and that was comfortable and soft. A strap that was easy to put on and remove when using a tripod. While reading a blog somewhere on the web and saw an advertisement for this Peak Design strap and I figured why not? It has yet to be tried out in the field but after using it around the house, and out in the yard while doing some work it is extremely comfortable! I found rave reviews, and after watching some Youtube videos I decided to purchase it. The only hesitation I had before pulling the trigger was the mention about the “seatbelt” material used in the strap — well, if you’ve ever had a seatbelt chaff your neck you know it’s not very comfortable so I don’t understand why they use that as a description because this strap feels more like soft cotton. It is extremely comfortable and soft and NOTHING like a seatbelt type material.

As you can see in the photos I’ve attached mine to use as a sling type of strap; however, it can be used as a shoulder, neck, sling, or hand. It comes with several of those slide things which are very, very secure. The strap is thin, but not so thin that it would cause pressure on the shoulders; I’ve used it with the 16mm 1.4 which is a rather hefty lens and the X-T1 and I felt no discomfort at all.

Please note I paid for my strap and I receive nothing from Peak Design or anyone for this review. Thanks for reading!

Weekend Stock Trip to New York City

Last weekend I did a quick trip up to New York City for a couple of days. My plan was just to get a way with my better half and enjoy the weekend walking around the Big Apple. And that is exactly what we did! Since I wanted to relax more than shoot I kept the gear light so here is what I took with me:

Fuji X-T1
Zeiss 12mm F2.8 (Just in case I needed it) I could have left this at home…
Fuji 16mm 1.4 (I knew I would use this plenty at Top of The Rock)
Fuji 18-55 ( A Fantastic take anywhere Lens! I Don’t leave home without it)
Fuji 55-200 ( For rooftop images, Central Park, etc.) I wound up leaving it at the hotel before leaving for the TOTR though as it would have been too long of a focal length for the low light encountered. That was a right call on my part.
2 ea, 77mm Polarizers
77mm step-up rings for each lens
7 ea batteries ( only used 3 full and 1 partially in 2 days of shooting) but better safe than sorry
4 32gb SD cards (only used 1 full, and 1 partially)
1 small Sirui tripod and ballhead that fit in my small bag just in case (never used at all the entire weekend)

NOTE: With the above kit over my shoulder messenger style, I walked for HOURS, everywhere, and I swear I didn’t even realize I was carrying a camera bag at all!

Left at home:
35 1.4
23 1.4
All of the lens shades, hoods, ND filters, macros, other step-up rings, balance of the SD cards, Flashes, triggers, bigger tripods, base plates, hand grips for the X-T1, Remote release, etc. etc. etc. You get the picture.

The weather on Saturday was just perfect for walking around; sunny, high sixty’s, blue sky, pretty and puffy clouds. On Sunday it was rainy, but even that was ok as we were headed home anyway but even that didn’t stop us from having some last minute fun – but I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Saturday morning we had a delicious breakfast at Astro restaurant on Avenue of the Americas and 55th. I had been there many times before as I had worked on various projects in NYC and had stayed at the very same Hilton as I was staying now. The Astro Diner is about a block away and given the opportunity to eat there is not one I would pass up. Anyway we had brunch there, then continued walking north into Central Park. Being it was a Saturday morning, and a gorgeous one at that, to say the park was crowded is an understatement but it was nevertheless a fun day. We spent several fun filled hours walking the lake. We had a run-in with a raccoon which tried to rob us of our bottle of drinking water when I stopped and put it down to snap a photo; and we had to literally side-step a horde of rats, yes, rats that were gathering scraps of food and stuff oblivious to the mass of humanity walking around them on the wide, paved footpath right in the middle of central park. After spending a couple of hours walking around and not even making a small dent in the amount of acreage of this huge, diverse park we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and take a break as that evening I had 6:30pm tickets to the “Top Of The Rock” at 30 Rockefeller Center! Up there, on the 69th floor there are some amazing views in every direction of Manhattan, the surrounding boroughs, and then some!

We arrived at 30 Rock at our scheduled time, and we shot up the elevator and were at the top by 7pm after passing the various security check points, as well as the kitschy photo ops where they try to get you to by prints of course. We did not. As you can see in the image, the views are spectacular. You can stay as long as you want which is fantastic. We stayed until dark. It was almost 9:45pm when we headed down the fast elevators and hit the street to walk back to our hotel. Along the way I snapped some more images of the street vendors, and other touristy photos just, well, because I could and I was having so much fun!

IMG_4741 2 IMG_4749 IMG_4766On a side note I have to mention the photographers and cameras I saw at the TOTR. Remember: I was up there for almost four hours waiting for the light, relaxing with my wife and having fun but always keeping an eye out for the unusual. I did see the usual gaggle of Canikons. Oh so many! I did catch a woman with a Pentax film camera and a 50mm Lens. After seeing what amounted to hundreds of cameras and iPhones I saw only one other mirrorless camera besides mine – an Asian gentleman with a Sony A6000. That was it! Where were all the mirrorless fans?! Represent!!!

If you’ve ever been to TOTR, or anywhere similar you know they have 2-3” thick plexiglass for you to see through, with spacing between each pane. Well, the spacing was just wide enough for my 18-55 with my 77mm step up ring to fit through at most of the panels, but I did have to remove the step up ring from the front of the 18-55 in order to shoot through some as the space between some of the panes were just to tight. The folks using dSLR lenses were out of luck – there was no way they were fitting a 24-70 or 16-35 through there; maybe a 24, 35, or a 50? . Heck, my Zeiss 12mm, and the Fuji 16mm were a tight fit at some of the open slots between the plexiglass panes. So if you are planning on going up there, plan for that! Bring along some fixed, smaller diameter lenses unless you enjoy photographing through scratched plexiglass. I also want to throw out there to all to not use your pop-up flash for the following reasons as the light wanes:

– The flash bounces off the plexiglass and messes your metering overexposing your image.
– The image, if anything is visible, will not show you anything in the background like the empire state building as it’s too far away!

If you want a photo of your wife who is posing oh so stiffly in front of the empire state building as you fiddle with your camera for ten minutes (yes. I’m speaking to you Mr. rude Asian man with the Canon and the 16-35, who was pushing small children out of the way to pose your wife, the one in combat boots) please, jack up your ISO, and open up your aperture, or drop your shutter speed, but whatever you do, don’t fire your pop-up like you did. Maybe she’ll give you some lovin’ later.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed a delicious, relaxing, and complimentary, full buffet style breakfast at the hotel restaurant before checking out. Even though it was raining and misty I wanted to do a little bit of scouting for my next trip as we were already in the city. The next trip will be in NYC but this time I’ll be working the southern tip of Manhattan – and the Battery area. I want to explore and photograph there. We drove around in the rain for a while until I found what I wanted and noted the address in my GPS for future reference. Since I was already there I took some photos while my wife drove around, or parked somewhere and read a book for a short while.

Overall it was a very successful trip photo wise. I have yet to review, cull or edit ANY of the Central Park, or the Top Of The Rock ones, but the few images I did manage to pop off in the rain while in lower Manhattan on Sunday morning before heading home are already available for sale! I can’t wait to find some time to edit the others I took at TOTR and in Central Park! I strongly suggest if you are going to be anywhere on the east coast, to make NYC a stop along your route – you won’t regret it.