Light is Everything!

Posts tagged “Photography

Photo Backup Solution

Everyone knows that in the digital world, you need 3 copies of your data for it to exist. This makes the need for back up solutions imminent, especially for professionals whose reputation and bottom line are on the line when it comes to data loss! It’s a very serious situation. But surprisingly, there aren’t many easy & convenient ways to solve this problem.

I have a Thunderbolt Lacie 2 bay drive enclosure configured to RAID 1 for data redundancy. This setup gives me 2 identical copies of my photos. But 1 more is still needed. Most people will suggest that it should be an offsite solution, such as an online cloud backup service. The problem I have with that solution is: 1) it’s a pain to upload that much data (several terabytes) unless you have very fast internet speeds. 2) it continues to cost you money as a subscription. And 3) it’s a privacy/security risk to have a 3rd party in cyberspace in control of your data.

The way I’ve addressed the 3rd data copy is to buy another external hard drive, in my case a 4GB Seagate USB 3 drive, and store it in a fire safe. You can easily take said safe and move it to another location and bring it back when you need to synchronize your working data.

But this process itself has always been cumbersome at best. There wasn’t an easy way to synchronize the updated data. I wanted a simple and elegant solution like Apple’s Time Machine. But unless your photos are on your local drive, Time Machine isn’t going to work for this process. You can buy additional software to do it but who wants to spend more money?! I’m too cheap.

Enter: terminal & rsync.

I’ve recently been exploring the terminal in Mac OS X and it is one seriously powerful tool. Everyone is used to the graphical user interfaces while text terminals are scary at best and for computer nerds at worst! But if you, fellow photographer, will get your nerd on a little bit you will find the solution to your back up woes.

What this command does is synchronize  two folders of data. You have your source: your photos, your lightroom catalogues, your business files, whatever you want, and you have your destination: a backup hard drive where you want the data to be copied. But it’s not merely a data copy function. Rather what makes rsync magical is that it will synchronize your folders. Meaning that after the first backup you do, it will synchronize only the changed data from source to destination. So you’re not re-copying reams of data, only the changed bits. This makes backing up your precious photos and data super easy!

You can checkout this YouTube video for a good tutorial on how the command works. Before trying it on your pictures, I suggest trying it out on some non critical data to get the feel for the command line and how this command works.

After you get the hang of it, the sure awesomeness of the backup workflow will knock your socks off! It’s ultra convenient to hook up your drive, run the command and then kick back and relax as your data is totally synchronized and safe. You don’t have to wonder if you copied these files or those files, they are all there. If you want to get ultra nerdy, you could even write a script and automate the process even further. Check out this video from 8-Bit Guy to see how to do it.

As you can see, it’s not overly difficult. Once the Terminal is demystified, you can harness its awesome power for your photography workflow. Losing data sucks. Losing photos REALLY sucks. It’s a pain, it’s inconvenient, it’s costly. Using a few simple lines of terminal code can really save you a bunch of hassle and keep your data nice & safe. 😎


Mirrorless Summer

I’m ultra behind in the blogging but I wanted to do an update. A mirrorless update. I’ve been a Fuji fan for quite a number of years now, using my omnipresent X100s camera all the time. Always JPEG. It became my high volume camera, especially for family trips where I refuse to lug around all my huge Nikon gear. But I want more quality and control than my iPhone camera gives me. The X100s was always the perfect companion. I love the 35mm equivalent field of view, especially for travel. It’s fantastic!

But it can be quite limiting. Which is almost always a good thing. Except for when it’s not. I found that all my travel photos, being the same focal length, were, well, the same. So I hummed and hawed about it and ended up getting a smokin’ deal on a FujiFilm XE2. I was going to buy the XPRO2 but didn’t (another blog post about that later). I got the XE2 with the “kit lens” which is an amazing lens, the 18-55. It’s a stunner. It’s sharp, it’s fast and it’s made of metal. Using Fuji is an experience in quality to say the least. Anyways, I’ve since picked up the 35mm f2 it’s a dream. But all summer long, all I shot was the 18-55.

I wanted to showcase the versatility of this compact mirrorless setup. These photos are travel photos from our cross Canada tour this summer. Western Manitoba all the way to Tofino, BC and back again. 4 provinces, thousands and thousands of kilometres traveled, Ocean, Waterfalls, Mountains, Forests, Prairies, all with one camera, one lens. Not only was it a versatile combination but it made the editing workflow nearly non-existent. By that I mean the XE2 utilizes a WYSIWYG viewfinder. The exposures seen through the eye piece are what you get in camera. Literally 97% of the time, it’s bang on. Very little editing has gone into these photos. The X system allows you to get it right in camera the first time, let alone the colour tweaks available through the film simulations. Fuji colour is the best, bar none! Anyways, here’s some photos.


Das Wesentliche

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Leica just officially released the M-D Typ 262 camera. You’ll quickly notice that the back of the camera takes us back to the first digital cameras . . . that didn’t have LCD screens.

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That’s right, sports fans, no viewing your photos on the back of the camera. No chimping. No showing others your great shots on camera. Nope. You gotta wait until you get home and get your film back from the lab hook up to a computer. Immediately the camera was met with criticism on the inter webs:

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It is true that Leica does now have the reputation of being a boutique camera for the rich and or famous. It’s always focused on the essentials (Das Wesentliche) in having very no frills operation, no AutoFocus until recent models, no video, etc. It has remained stalwartly old fashioned in the modern hi-tech era of photography. But taking away the LCD? It’s a bit odd.

However, I wonder if such an advancement development would change the photographic experience? People go on and on and on about how photography isn’t about gear, it’s about developing your eye and looking for moments and colour and  gesture and seeing etc. It’s not about the gear you use.  It’s a nice sentiment, especially for making beginners feel great about photography and not self conscious about pro-level gear they can’t afford.  But it’s also total BS.

Gear does make a difference to photography. It affords capability and quality that is not otherwise achievable. This is why pros use zillion dollar pro gear. It gives them an edge on the competition as well as ability to nab photos they otherwise couldn’t get. Like shooting at ISO 5 billion in the dark and still getting a usable photo. But not only these practical things, the gear actually changes the photos. It alters the way a photographer shoots. People who use Medium Format make different photos from the person using the iPhone camera. Likewise when people switch to mirrorless. They find that not lugging around the big heavy DSLR gear all day changes their photography. Using a fixed prime instead of a kit zoom changes the photography.

So what about removing the LCD screen?  Will that change one’s photography? Yep. I’ll bet it would. One, you’d be more careful. No spray and pray shooting. You’d have to be extra conscious and aware during the photo taking process to make sure you had the exposure and composition right – because you won’t know until your looking at it on a screen back home, long after the fact. This alone would make everyones’ photography better. The film guys were careful. They were thoughtful. There was a level of “critical” that is almost gone in the digital age. There was some finality to the roll of film in a way that there isn’t with high capacity memory cards affording metric tonnes of available shots.

Ditching the LCD, will it bring back the ‘film thrill’? I don’t know. It would scare me to be honest. I rely heavily on the LCD in my photography. I’m always chimping, always checking the light and the highlights. It’s a part of my photography now. I’m sure I’d find not having the crutch there unnerving. But it also might be a freeing thing too. What do you think? Boutique camera with a stupid gimmick or photographic genius in the making?

PS: I wrote my article here before watching the video. 😎


The History of Photography in 5 Minutes

Very cool video worth a watch! Amazing to see how photography has exploded so rapidly, largely thanks to the iPhone.


Pro Neg Std.

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Another one of Fuji’s film simulations is the Pro Neg Std. This setting is described as being for portraits with soft gradations and skin tones. The Hi version of my last blog post has a bit more of a contrasty look. This article on Fuji vs. Fuji does a great job of comparing all the simulation modes. But suffice it to say, the skin tone rendering is really, really pleasing in both the Hi and Std. modes. Just look at these kids. They look at least 17% better shot with Fuji. LOL. I do want to do a side by side comparison to my Nikons and see how the JPEGs compare. I never shoot Nikon JPEGs so I really don’t know if there is much difference. I’ll check it out in a future blog post.

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I shot these Black & White images in the Monochrome setting with a yellow filter. It gives little extra to the skin tonality I think.


Velvia

 

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Yesterday was a glorious winter day in SE Saskatchewan. We had amazing hoarfrost and then the sky opened up with a glorious blue backdrop. It was majestic as all get out. I slapped the ol’ X100s into Velvia film simulation which is known for it’s highly saturated bombastic colour. (You either love it or hate it I think). It gave an extra level of contrast to the colour palette. I was out visiting a parishioner and I drove past an old abandoned farm yard – except for racoons & squirrels. I stopped after my visit and walked around, capitalizing on all the beauty of the day and the history of the location.


2016: FujiFilm’s Year

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2016 is not only the year that Nikon got its mojo back, but it is FujiFilm’s year to shine! Since the release announcement of the X-Pro2, X-E2s, X-70 and sweet new telephoto lens, the interwebs have been a buzz with excitement. I’m no different. I’ve been with the X-System for 3 years now when I got the X100s – still a goto camera for me. It’s been an omnipresent companion on all my family trips and events because of the size/ergonomics and of course phenomenal image quality & colour rendition from a crop sensor. I still love that camera and will never sell it.

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I’m totally stoked for the X-Pro2. The first version was a fantastic camera with its own quirks and quickly rose to cult status – as did the whole X-System really. While other manufacturers continue to pump out updated models, FujiFilm takes their time. They make their current products better with firmware updates. That immediately garnered my respect. Sure, lots of manufacturers fix up bugs in their products with firmware updates, but seldom if ever do they add new features. Instead, you must buy the updated release version to get them. I love FujiFilm!

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The X-Pro2 caught my attention because it is the long awaited update to the classic first version. I knew that Fuji would take their time, gain input from photographers who know and love their products, and then produce an amazing camera that people can’t wait to purchase. They have not disappointed! There are already several amazing reviews/first impression blogs & videos up now. As I haven’t actually seen or used the camera in real life I have nothing of value to add to the discussion. However, the features I’m most interested in are as follows.

20130608-FujiFilm-003The first thing is that they’ve done a great job in making the camera weather resistant. The new Fujinon lenses will all be weather sealed too. This really puts the “Pro” in X-Pro2. I’m thinking of wedding photographers or landscape people or even travel documentary photographers. Having gear that can keep up to the elements is a must.

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Also hardware wise, I’m delighted to hear that it has dual SD card slots. This in my mind is another Pro feature. Whether for redundancy on critical wedding jobs or over flow or a JPEG/RAW workflow, this is an excellent feature to have. Glad they included a UHS-II slot too for fast data transfer. This will help immensely for buffer clearing, especially RAW files which will be bigger on the all new 24MP sensor. This is a welcome jump up from 16 in my books. FujiFilm colour and skin tones are absolutely incredible. And now with 24MP, you get more glorious pixels of both. And phenomenal high ISO performance as well. So exciting!

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Another feature I’m really excited about is the new ACROS black and white film simulation. I’m a huge fan of Fuji black and white straight out of camera. In fact, I almost never shoot my X100s in RAW. The JPEGs are so great and I love the colour so much I just go JPEG. Especially for black and white. But now to have a really punchy and contrasty black and white option in the ACROS film simulation, it’s all kicked up to notches unknown to mankind. I’m looking at you Leica Monochrom! It will be great to see how the new X-Trans sensor handles the B&W tonality.

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Another upgrade that may not seem like much is the sync speed for flash bumping up to 1/250s. This is awesome! I love using my X100s for flash stuff because of the leaf shutter and syncing capabilities it has. But to get that extra wee smidgeon of ambient killing power from 250 instead of 180 does help quite a bit. I’m dying to shoot the new X-Pro2 with some telephoto glass for portrait work. So far I’ve only ever shot the 23mm/35mm lens on the X100s. But if I could get the 90mm f/2 or the 56mm 1.2, I’d be a happy portraitist indeed.

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There’s a zillion other features about the X-Pro2 that others have already commented on and will continue to do in the weeks to come. The stuff I listed just scratches the surface of what will undoubtedly become another classic camera for Fuji.

If you want one, get on the pre-order list ASAP. If you order from The Camera Store, they have a promo discount on the new 35mm f/2 lens as well.

Congratulations FujiFilm! 2016 is your year to shine!

Top 10 X-Pro2 reviews


The Foggy Fog

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There was some pretty neat fog out this morning when I was out and about. It gradually lifted but still hung on for a bit. I threw the X100s in the car. The black and white images are all just FujiFilm JPEGs with a bit of extra contrast dialled in. I’m really excited about the release of the X-Pro2 in that it has an Acros film simulation. I already love Fuji B&W so much that the Acros will be icing on the monochrome cake! Can’t wait for that camera! 😎


8

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Mine baby is 8 years old today! That’s insane & unbelievable. It seems like just yesterday we were going to the hospital to have her. She’s the sweetest, most caring and compassionate person I have ever met. And she’s ridiculously cute!

I busted out the ol’ photo mill (Nikon Df, 50mm & 85mm 1.8G) for some birthday pics. We used 1 light (Nikon SB-900 flash triggered by a SU-800 commander) with 3 different modifiers used in 4 different ways.

The first setup was the good old shoot through umbrella. It produces winning light all the time. It’s soft. It’s directional. It’s fool proof, quick goto lighting. It’s also pretty boring. Good thing Phoebe is cute. I said that already though. 😎

Next, was a small soft box. The LumiQuest Softbox III to be specific. It introduces more shadow tonality. A bit more depth and interest to the shots. It’s pretty cool light, especially when used in close to the subject.

Then it was a Honl grid. Deep shadows. Much more intrigue and edginess, almost teenaged light. But she’s only 8 so we had to back it off and bring the shadows up a notch.

So viola! We went back to the umbrella but this time I bounced the light off the white ceiling and back down through the umbrella that she was holding as a prop. It gives a double defused ultra soft giant look to the light. Shadows are very, very soft and silky smooth.

 


Fun with Rope Lights

At the Live Nativity, I lit the whole set with one strand of rope lights. I’ve always been impressed about how LEDs can kick out some serious lumens. I was thinking that you could actually use them for photography as a constant light source. So I plugged in the strand and held it up in front of the kids. It’s pretty cool light! And, it gives some pretty killer catch lights. You could manipulate the shape of the lights into anything you wanted and it would look cool. Chuck some cute kids in front of a christmas  tree with a fast 85 or 50mm lens and you’re golden.