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.



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

Gear Used to Make the Kitchen Creek Images last week

I promised I would come back and show what gear I carried with me out on our hike last weekend. However, not all of it was used.  So I’m showing what was in my gear bag and next to the description I show whether it was used or not.

Kitchen Creek Gear

Fuji X-T1  USED Exclusively

Fuji 55-200  USED for 173 of the 190 Images

Fuji 18-55  USED for 17 images

Remote   NOT USED at all (I used the 2 second self-timer)  Unless I’m doing timelapse, it stays home next time.

Zeiss 12mm F2.8   NOT USED at all

Both Singh-Ray Filters   NOT USED at all

Hoya Polarizer  USED on every image

ND8  USED I would say on about 90% of the images — all water shots, none for forest scenes

Step-up Rings  USED two of them – – one for the 55-200 and the other for the 18-55 to bring them to 77mm

Lens Adapter in 10 and 16mm (orange box)  NOT USED at all

Batteries – I carried one in camera and four spares.  I used one battery except for maybe 10 images on the second one.

Bug Spray  USED. ALL. THE. TIME.  Don’t leave home without it.

Zeikos pouch holding one extra memory card  NOT USED AT ALL.  The 32G card in the camera was all I needed.

That’s pretty much it.  As you can see I took much more than needed and I felt it at the end of the day.  I plan on revisiting this location as I never actually made it to the waterfalls this area is famous for so another trip is warranted.  Next time though I guarantee I will be packing much, much less – including a lighter weight tripod than the one I was carrying over my shoulder.

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

Processing the Weekends Images

Some stats from my hiking trip on Saturday using the X-T1:
190 images taken
17 images with 18-55 Lens
173 with 55-200 Lens
One battery.  Lots of OVF work. All long exposures ranging from 1/2 second, to 20 seconds.  Chimped each image. Battery died right at the end and I had to put a fresh battery in for the last 10 or so images.
Raw and JPEG, Astia which my go-to preset on the X-T1 as “C1”
To make my workflow easier I first upload jpeg+raw as soon as I can, usually at home, or a hotel room regardless of the time. Then I run a backup before I format the SD card.   Either that same night, or as soon as possible I tend to review the images in LR Library.  I set my filter so I am  looking at only the jpegs just to get an idea of which images I want to keep and/or work on. I quickly run through the jpegs and use the “X” key to mark those images being relegated to the trash can.  Once I’ve looked at all the jpegs, I go back, remove the filter and “X” out the corresponding raw file.
Once I was done with my first pass I backup again and shutdown.  I actually walk away and don’t come back for a day or two.  This affords me some clarity, objectivity,  and detachment from the day’s work and excitement.   I find I’m more relaxed and not emotionally attached to the images after my cooling off period and that I am more ruthless in my culling and deleting of unwanted images.   For this next (second) pass I review the remaining images more carefully.  This time, i look at both my jpeg and the raw in the Library module — since i have the Astia preset built and use it as an upload preset the jpeg  matches the raw file; the reason I prefer to use the jpeg for the initial pass through is for speed — I don’t have to wait for the raw file to render when looking at the image at 100% even though this process it’s relatively fast on my Mac.  I run through the remaining images again to check the composition, clarity, sharpness, color, blur, etc.  I usually find that I will whittle down my keepers by a few more at this stage in the process.
As a side note, if I’ve taken any Panoramas, or HDR images I tend to look at those first this way I can process the final image and if happy with the results I can then save the TIFF of the final, plus the associated raw files and stack them together in the LR Library to clean up.  Or, if I’m not happy with the results of the pano or HDR, then I delete the finished product, plus all the jpeg ad raw files associated with that particular failed image series.
More to come on this trip as I have not finished selecting any images for myself, or for my stock sales.  As I said, I have to walk away from the images for a day or two…
Pano results:  6672 x 5444 (cropped) to 13 x 19”  @ 300DPI for printing, 218MB TIFF file
5- Vertical image Pano.  Processed in LR as my Astia Preset, then brought into PS6 and Automerged, cropped to print 13" x 19", saved as TIFF.  Final image size is 218MB, 6672 x 5444 pixels or 36.3 megapixels (just like my D800) Lens used: Fuji 55-200
5- Vertical image Pano. Processed in LR as my Astia Preset, then brought into PS6 and Automerged, cropped to print 13″ x 19″, saved as TIFF. Final image size is 218MB, 6672 x 5444 pixels or 36.3 megapixels
Lens used: Fuji 55-200 Click on image for a larger view

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


My First image of 2015 on my first Blog

Hey everyone,  Welcome to my X shooters blog.  I’ll be previewing some of my captured images here, as well as any news, reviews, and other stuff relating to Fuji X that I own, and every now and then, since it really is all about the image and not the camera, some Nikon images thrown in.

Since this is my first post, I want to welcome you with my first image of the 2015 New Year.  This was taken on 1/1/2015, just as the sun crested over the Atlantic lighting up the shoreline and the lighthouse at around 7’ish in the morning — This is one of my favorite subjects, you won’t find me doing ANY street photography, photographing homeless, blight, etc.  I try to focus on the beauty around us and capturing it as vividly as i can.



First Image, of the New Year 2015 X-T1, 18-55, Tripod, Remote
First Image, of the New Year 2015
X-T1, 18-55, Astia, Tripod, Remote.This image processed in LR5.7 from the RAF file.  More images can be found at my flickr site

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