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…


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

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.



Incoming Tide at Dusk

One of my last images on my photo trip up to Maine.  This was on the banks of the Penobscot River.  And you have to admit — that Fuji Green is freakin’ amazing!

Hence why when I shot film — even as recently as five years ago with my medium format gear I opted for Fuji Velvia!!  Eye-popping color for sure especially the greens!

The Fuji film emulations as I mentioned in my previous post are one of the many reasons I love the Fuji cameras!  Heck, even going back to one of my first Fuji dSLR’s a Fujifilm S1Pro.  That was a beast of a camera. Used Nikon lenses on it.  The skin tones were to die for, and the greens and yellows:  unfathomable color depth.  I remember it was 3.1MP and I basically shot in jpeg only.  The BASE ISO was 320!  The low light performance up to around ISO 800 was pretty darn good!  Fuji has had it going on for quite some time now!  Their Ju-Ju sauce just works.

Incominig Tide. Penobscot Bay at dusk. Fuji X-T1, 18-55 lens @ 55mm, 14 seconds, F14, ISO 200, 3 stop ND, and Polarizer, Tripod, Remote (click for larger image)
Incominig Tide. Penobscot Bay at dusk.
Fuji X-T1, 18-55 lens @ 55mm, 14 seconds, F14, ISO 200, 3 stop ND, and Polarizer, Tripod, Remote
(click for larger image)

You can see more images at Drama King Images or at my Flickr page

The Nikon Gear is now Gone

Well, the Nikon D800 is on it’s way to it’s new home.  That was my last Nikon body.  I am keeping both Nikon flash units because I’m certain they will work with some flash triggers and the Fuji.  My 18-35G series, less than two year old lens  has been acquired by one of my kids for use on my old D700 body, and the less than six month old 50mm 1.8G she will probably get as well unless I sell it.

This pretty much empties the Nikon closet for me.  Now it’s all Fuji or nothing.  In a way I knew this day would come ever since I got my first Fuji – the X-E1 back in early 2013 together with the 18-55 lens and the 35mm 1.4.

The X-T1 came along in 2014 and I just fell in love with the handling, the files, and most of all putting the fun back into picture-taking even though I shoot for stock most of the times.  One of the best two features I’ve found?  1.  the viewfinder: It’s incredible; you can see what your image will look like before snapping the shutter! and then make necessary adjustments. I wasn’t much of a chimper before and even less of one now.  2.  The film modes. Even though I always shoot in jpeg+raw (except for odd miscellaneous family stuff) I find that setting the film mode in camera, then upon upload into LR I run the correct profile I’ve created on the raw files, truly generates some sweet looking raw files as well as jpegs.

In less than three weeks I’ll be heading out for a major stock shooting business trip.  I expect to come with with many, many images.  Well, consider this:  based on the number and size of SD cards I have in m PocketRocket, I can shoot 8,280 images, jpeg+raw, before I have to reload.  Sweet huh?

A few years ago I was out in the Southwest and came back with 11,250 images over eight days.  If you double up because of the jpeg+raw I came back with 22,500 total images.

Enough jabbering for tonight.  I’m hoping to at least start separating some gear and packing it to see how it’s all gonna fit.  Should be much easier now that the D800 and lenses won’t be going with me.  But we’ll see as I anticipate using the gear a few more times before I leave.

In closing I leave you for now with an image of one of my favorite subjects:  Lobster Floats

Found abandoned old Lobster floats. I give them a good home. Fuji X-T1, 55-200 Lens, Tripod, raw processed as Velvia Exposure not available (click for a larger image)
Found abandoned old Lobster floats. I give them a good home.
Fuji X-T1, 55-200 Lens, Tripod, raw processed as Velvia Exposure not available (click for a larger image) This is a FULL 9MB File.  Click on it at your own risk 🙂

You can see more images at my site:  Drama King Images or at Flickr

Fuji X-T1 Musings

This blog is free to me. I sell nothing.  I offer my opinion only and you don’t have to accept anything I say. As a matter of fact I would appreciate if you didn’t — you should try it for yourself to see if it fits you, if it works for you.   I feel sorry for all the bloggers out there who have to post everyday and many times more than once per day just to get the “clicks”. How do they do it?  I couldn’t keep up!

I read many blogs – these open up automatically when I crank up Safari first thing in the morning.  Some days it’s interesting stuff but most days though it’s either old news, regurgitated crap that’s being re-blogged many times whether it’s accurate or not.

Many folks depend on the advertising revenue from their blog work.  Me?  Nope.  Any ads that appear on this site are courtesy of whoever the heck owns WordPress; I could care less.  I’m under no pressure.  I post or write when I want and what I want.  I am indebted to no one.  Would I want to generate income from my posts you ask?  Nope.  I’m perfectly happy where I am now.  I post when I want.  I photograph what I want.  I go where I want.  I’m under no direct pressure to create, or write unless it is self-imposed.

In a few weeks I’ll be headed out again for another 10 days of stock and personal photography.  This particular trip will be a very intimate journey for me as I haven’t been back to this particular location since 1974.  It was me, my trusty Minolta SRT-101, a 28mm 2.8 Telestar wide, and a Minolta 135mm F3.5 plus about ten rolls of 36 exposure, Kodacolor 100 print film.  Yes. Print film.  Since my dad was paying, he refused to buy me any slide film as he wanted to physically see the 3 x 5 prints after developing them at the local outlet.  The memories that brings back!  Oh, and I forgot to mention my parents and my sisters tagged along as I was only 16 at the time.

The area I’m headed to is my “mecca”.  This is the place I’ve wanted to visit for years now, just I never was able to get away for that amount of time.  Of course the location has changed drastically in all these years –  but who cares?  It is still a gorgeous, tropical location as far as I’m concerned.

In upcoming posts before I head out I’ll talk about what gear I’m taking with me, probably illustrated with some photos of it.  I find that if I post images, that I’m less likely to take extra gear;  As I lay out the gear for the photo I constantly question myself why I’m taking a particular piece of equipment. If I can’t justify it, it remains behind.

As this is a road-trip, albeit a long, long road trip weight limitations won’t matter much — except I’ll be out on an island for 3 days and the boat I’ll be on has a 60lb limitation per person so that may cause an issue.  This weight restriction includes all the camping and survival gear as there are no facilities – such as cell service, wi-fi, medical aid, water, bath, nothing. Zip.  Nada.  This location is about 75 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico so I’m truly excited at trying my hand at some night photography without any light pollution.

At this point I’m fairly decided on using my X-T1 as my primary camera.  That means it literally and figuratively won’t leave my side.  I anticipate shooting with this camera all the time.  As my backup I am packing the Nikon D800 and ONE single lens: the 18-35G series which is incredibly versatile and tack sharp on the D800.  I am dedicating one single 32G memory card to the D800 which will provide around 280+ jpegs + raw images, and the balance of the 15 other 32G and 16G cards to the X-T1.

After my last trip a couple of weeks ago when I went up to New England, I found myself grabbing the X-T1 for about 70% of the images taken.  The X-T1 is just so user friendly, and fun to use!  The EVF and LCD show you what you are about to capture, in whatever flavor of film simulation and settings you’ve selected.  Also, before I left for my trip I turned on the focus scale so I know how far out my focus is in feet, and also the DOF the particular aperture I’ve chosen will produce.  As I’m just getting into the hyper focal focusing thing I really need to explore that further as it may have some use.  My go-to film simulation – Astia – it is just so perfect for me I created a LR import that takes all the raw files and applies the Astia film simulation on import; in addition to the film mode, I also have my sharpening set according to the Pete Bridgwood method of sharpening the X raw files.  His method has proven to be a lifesaver! I can now edit my images in LR and not have to go out to Iridient, or Silkypix to do so.  I also very much like the color the LR produces as I find the Iridient and Silkypix to be a bit too warm for my taste – but that’s my opinion — and yes both my screens – an Apple display, and a NEC 27″ are all calibrated and set correctly.  The one and only issue I may possibly have is chimping on the LCD screen in the extremely bright sun light.  I am taking with me a large dark blue handkerchief that I use as a head band that I can drape over me – view camera style – to double check I’ve captured the frame as I want.  That is, unless I chimp in the EVF but that is just too uncomfortable for me.

I will say that during my recent trip to New England, whenever I grabbed the D800 to photograph anything my main concern was whether the image would be sharp or not.  Honestly who wants to grab a piece of equipment and have to worry about whether it’ll deliver the goods?  Certainly not me.  However the D800 files, when the camera, and it’s operator are in sync and work the way they should, are just glorious in size and detail.  Certainly can’t argue with the quality of the files –  They are just amazing.  However, the 16MP X files hold up to enlargements pretty darn well.  An image I photographed on January 1, 2015 at sunrise of the Portland Head Lighthouse (see it here)  recently sold as a matted and framed 30″ x 20″ print that looks stunning.

Well enough ramblings for now.

Find the “Cape May Diamonds”

At Sunset Beach at the tip of Cape May New Jersey hundreds of folks, tourists, locals and others scour the beach at low tide hunting for the famous “Cape May Diamonds.”

These are tiny, shiny, and folks collect them.  This past weekend, even in driving rain it was no different with hundreds of folks enjoying their summer vacation. Enjoy.

Fuji X-T1, 35mm F1.4 @ F7.1, ISO 100, 1/3rd second, Remote, Tripod, Polarizer. This is a RAF file processed in LR and my FIRST time using the Classic Chrome Film Simulation in LR. Originally I photographed this in Astia (Click for a larger version)
Fuji X-T1, 35mm F1.4 @ F7.1, ISO 100, 1/3rd second, Remote, Tripod, Polarizer.
This is a RAF file processed in LR and my FIRST time using the Classic Chrome Film Simulation in LR. Originally I photographed this in Astia (Click for a larger version)

You can always see more of my work here: Drama King Images and at flickr