2016 In my Rear View Mirror

2016 was a rockin’ year!  I received the blessing of a 3rd Grandson which is the grandest of all gifts.  Stock sales, though down in the market overall, I made up for in volume!  What that means is a ot of more work, for basically a small increase in income.  Volume rules at this point; gone are the days of licensing an image for 40 – 50 bucks when anyone can go online and pick up an image for a quarter.  Oh well, such is life.

On another but related note I am now dSLR free.  It’s a double-edge sword and my feelings are torn.  I sold the last of my Nikon gear – being the D800e and a 50mm 1.8 lens.  I am now all in on Fuji with the X series cameras and lenses.  Will I miss those glorious 36 megapixel files?  At times I’m sure I would but in order to have those files, I had to shoot them, and in all honesty, as you can see by the stats I rarely used the camera!

So, here is a re-cap of my 2016 stats, cameras first, then lenses.

  • Nikon D800e:  1,371 keepers
  • Fuji X-T1:  4,117 keepers
  • Fuji X-T2: 4,503 keepers (purchased in September 2016!!)
  • 16mm F1.4: 1,514 keepers
  • 18-55 2.8-4.0 Zoom (my don’t leave home without it lens) 1,489
  • 23mm F1.4: 1,094 keepers
  • 35mm F1.4: 2,256
  • Fuji 55-200 Zoom:  2057 keepers
  • Zeiss 12mm F2.8: 135 keepers.  Most unused lens, but when you need it you need it!

That’s pretty much it for my year. Hears hoping to a profitable, successful and FUN 2017.

Happy New Year

 

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to a Lens Firmware Update

Well, maybe not funny, but interesting from my perspective.  I downloaded into separate folders on my desktop Fuji’s latest firmware updates for my lenses so I’d be ready to run the updates on Saturday morning.  So, here I sit, early morning, coffee in hand, ready to go.

Without giving it much thought how did I decide to install the updates?  Least used lens FIRST; So, here’s my order from least favorite to favorite:  23 1.4,  35 1.4 (though i LOVE this lens),  then the 16mm 1.4, and finally my all-time favorite, don’t leave home without it lens:  the 18-55.

Not a hugely massive post, but I found it interesting how I picked them without even thinking about it!

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!

MORO2366

 

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.

IMG_4882

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 Fujirumors.com 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.

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.

Quick Day Trip to Washington DC

A few days ago my grandson wanted to travel to DC and see the White House since he had been studying about it in school.

The night before we left for DC I packed my gear into my very lightweight Lowerpro bag with my X-T1, 18-55, 16mm 1.4 and the 12mm 2.8 lens, plus three batteries.
Wednesday morning, as I swung my legs out of bed I questioned my choices.  I’m taking my grandson to DC; this was not going to be a photo trip, this was bonding and family time.
Before my first cup of coffee, I unpacked the bag I had packed the night before.  I decided  to only take my 16mm 1.4 and the 35 1.4 plus three batteries.  That’s it.  I put the black rapid strip on the X-T1 with the 16 1.4, and put the 35 in my pocket with the extra batteries. As always, jpeg fine larger + Raw were the selected modes.  I don’t leave home without my raw setting even though for all the family images I kept the jpeg’s and dumped the raw files.  For those images I thought would make good stock, I keep the raw.
Washington DC was nothing less than I expected;  a huge, crowded, traffic filled, congested mess of cars, black SUV’s, police and security everywhere.  However, traveling with my oldest daughter and both grandsons was just pure joy.  We had a great time, saw a bunch of sites, and my grandson was super excited to finally see what he was studying in kindergarten.
Here are a few images that are already for sale on the stock site, plus a couple of family pics.  Traveling light was a joy.  Not having to worry about the gear, and bag was great.  Having two lenses made my imaging process so much easier and faster, and I remained more focused on having fun and at the same time making some wonderful personal images, as well as some great sellable grab shot images.

As I walked to my car this morning…

I parked in my reserved spot, picked up my bag, slung it over my shoulder and headed to the office. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks!  The X-T1 and several lenses are so light I hardly feel it!

In the mornings when I leave home I usually have over my shoulder a Fossil leather bag –  In it I keep my Macbook Air, my yogurt for lunch, and some basic file folders.  In itself the Fossil bag is rather lightweight.  I’ve had it since 2007 and it is still an amazing piece of luggage that I proudly use in my daily life.  Every now and then I’ll stick a Jill-E insert in the bag and carry my X-T1 with me.

Today, I packed a small $30.00 bag I found on Amazon.  It’s called the Lowepro Exchange Messenger for dSLR kit and essentials.  Here’s the link.  I bought this wonderful bag in July of 2013 when a very good friend of mine and I took a three day tour around coastal Maine; he carried his two Leica’s and assorted lenses in this bag.  After seeing how light it was, and the fact I was able to store it flat pretty much anywhere I decided to purchase one right there and then and so I did.

Today I’ll be away from home for a couple of days but had to go into the office first; Instead of my Fossil leather bag I instead packed my LowePro.  In the bag I loaded up my X-T1, the 18-55 lens, the 16mm F1.4 lens, the 23mm 1.4 lens, the Fuji EF-42 Flash with four batteries, and an extra two Fuji batteries for the camera, and my lunch.  The bag has very deep pockets, one has a zipper for additional security; normally, that would be where I store my SD wallet but since the X-T1 is packing a 32G card that allows for over 700 jpeg+raws I didn’t bother bringing any more along.

When I arrived at the office and picked up the bag out of my car with the always present Macbook Air I had to do a double-check to make sure I packed what I needed!  It was that light.  I remember the days pre-Fuji when I carried my Nikon D800 or D700, plus Nikon glass — or better (or worse) yet when I carried my Mamiya 645AFD medium format!  Heck, going back a bit further my old RB67.  Now that was a beast.  I actually smiled as I walked down the Philadelphia streets to my office.  It absolutely does makes a huge difference carrying a smaller mirrorless camera.  I don’t care if it is a Fuji, Sony, Olympus — whatever floats your boat, just try one!  I do not miss my dSLR’s or MF at all! Since I haven’t printed larger thant 24″x 20″ I haven’t needed more megapixels.  If I did, I can always work some photoshop magic though I try very hard to stay out of PS. CORRECTED – SEE LAST TWO PARAGRAPHS ADDED AFTER THIS WAS PUBLISHED!

With that being said I am awaiting the arrival of the X-T2.  As I am a travel, and stock photographer the 24mp sensor keeps me ahead of the curve and my images relevant when a clients wants a bit extra oomph.  Usually we can show them that 16.3mp is more than enough but at times, they are rather adamant about larger files.  If it were not for that I wouldn’t be upgrading at all!  With regards to the rumors here of a potential Fuji medium format camera my first questions are not resolution or megapixels but how big is it going to be?  What is the weight of the system?  How about lens weight? I am now totally spoiled by the compactness, and the image quality coming from my Fuji system and I would not go back, ever, to a Nikon or any other brand.

So, when I leave my office later this afternoon and head south for a couple of days I’ll still be grinning like a Cheshire cat!

I was going to end this post here then FedEx came in.  I sent out an image to be printed a while back and I just received it!  It’s a 30 x 20″ print of an image that was processed from a RAF file into a 95mb TIFF in Lightroom.  I thought about processing it in Iridient which I own but decided i would process it in the same app that I use for 99% of all my editing work.

Here, I’ve laid it across our conference room table in order to flatten it somewhat.  But I have to say it looks amazing!  I can COUNT the grains of sand, and you can as well just from these two iPhone images!  This is 30″ x 20″ and I think I can go up to 40″ plus so that will be the next round of tests.  I performed this print test to see how far I can push 16.3 megapixels.  I have to say, these results are truly amazing.  I’ve taken my glasses off and pressed my nose and eyes very close and it’s well, trust me:  amazing!FullSizeRender 2

FullSizeRender
in this image, taken with the X-T1 and the Unbelievable 16mm 1.4 you can count the grains of sand flowing as the water ebbs, under the shell, and throughout the image. It’s that clear here even though I used an iPhone for these two

Enjoy the rest of your day.