Friday, June 30, 2017

My first Nikon

In honor of world camera day, I thought it might be fun to post about my first "real" 35mm camera. My first 35mm was a Yashica ElectroX and in my sophomore year at URI I found this very tired nearly worn out used Nikon F with a F36 motor drive hung off of it. It sounded like a Singer Sewing machine that grandma had when it went off and had more than a little brassing on the body and the mirror slap was something you could hear a block away. I flogged that camera all over the place and ran my share of film thru it as only an intro photo student could who owned a bulk loader. It was a heavy piece of work and even with a 50mm lens on it, its weight was daunting. Loading it in the field required some level of dexterity too as the back slid off along with the drive.

That summer I worked in an all you could eat seafood joint and earned enough money to buy a new Nikon, an F2 Photomic, it was a thing of beauty and I had that camera all thru grad school and into my first teaching job, but that old F was my first Nikon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Studio nude with new Fuji 50mm f2 lens

I was able to get into the studio and do some more work with the new Fuji 50mm f2 lens on my XPRO2 camera this week, the results were excellent, very responsive AF. This was shot at ISO 200 and I used Profoto strobes to light it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Gear Test Fuji 50mm f2 lens

I recently acquired one of the new Fuji 50mm f2 lenses for to use with my Xpro2 camera. I have tested the 60mm Fuji Macro and the Zeiss 50mm Macro for that camera and was very disappointed in the AF speed and that it often failed to "lock". Both where plenty sharp enough, especially the Zeiss. So when the new 50mm was announced I took a shot at it and have been very happy with the early results. I've only used it for a limited shoot in the studio but I did get out and did these of my grand daughter in the front yard.


The AF was quick and on lock and the lens seems sharp enough, these where shot at f4-f2.8 and there is plenty of resolution for my taste. This particular image was shot in the ACROS film simulation mode and there has been very little post production done to it. I think this lens would be an excellent addition to anyones camera bag doing portrait work. More reporting on this lens in the studio with strobes to follow.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Whitney Plantation Tour

Slave Quarters, with sculpture.

Slave Quarters


A very interesting tour based entirely on the perspective of the slave. Very moving memorials but with not such great photographic potential. It was a pretty gray day and that did not help either, but the Xpro2 did its job.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Workflow Back Up from Mardi Gras 2017 experience


Since 1990 I have photographed what some have called the Worlds Greatest Free Party, Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It’s a daunting event and often misunderstood, as someone from the Mid-West I assumed it was one big parade that went thru the French Quarter and there were a bunch of drunken naked people throwing beads. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s actually something like 50 parades and events happening though out the three Parish area surrounding New Orleans. In the city itself there are more than a dozen events in the days before Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday the end of the carnival season.

For a photographer this is an all day shoot, day parades, night parades, the scene in the French Quarter, there is no lack of things to make images of. In the pre-digital days I would shoot for 5 or 6 days pretty much all day and end up with 40 or 50 rolls of film. Now, in the digital age, shooting both a Fuji Xpro 2 and a Nikon D810, I am coming home with 6,000 individual files and close to 350 gigs worth of data.

These events I’m photographing happen once a year, if I loose any of that data it’s all over until next year, and believe it or not, Mardi Gras is different every year. Parades have themes and the mix of weather and location make a big difference in how the images are made.

My workflow part of this is to do two downloads every day, usually after the daytime shoots and later at the end of the evening. I usually work with a 15” MacBook Pro and spread my work out over 2 or 3 external drives. I then make sure these drives are stored in different locations in the apartment I stay in in the event of break in or loss, you can’t be too paranoid about your files and drive failures are a real thing.

This year I brought with me two new external solutions. I used two CRU ToughTech externals, one an older ToughTech Duo 3SR with two 1 TB drives inside and the other a new ToughTech Duo C model also with two 1TB drives in it. These drives are a terrific solution to any photographers needs while on the road and shooting a lot of images. Each external is a 2 drive RAID 1 and shows up on the desktop as one drive. The drives also pop in and out of the enclosure allowing easy exchanges of the drives if you want to go that route. In my case the older Duo 3SR connects to my laptop via a Firewire 800 port and I use a Lightning dongle to adapt the Firewire to the  Lighting port on the  MacBook Pro model I have. It is bus powered and no external power is required. The other back up to my backup (did I mention I am very paranoid about loosing data?), it’s the newer Duo C model that has a new USB 3.1 Type C interface. For this drive I have a USB type C to an older USB 3.0 cord. This drive does require an external power supply but the advantage is that transfer speeds are about a third faster. I’ll leave it to the real tech guys to tell you the exact transfer speeds. Both externals are very robust and have a solid no nonsense build quality. Both power up quickly and are as some say, user friendly and the RAID configuration inspires a lot of confidence in keeping your files safe. Both drives can also be configured as a RAID 1, JBOD or a RAID 0 depending on how risk averse you are. You can purchase the enclosures with drives supplied from CRU or buy your own 2.5” drives and install them yourself, mounting the drives to the sleds is a simple task and CRU even supplies you with a screw driver. As I mentioned earlier you can also purchase extra sleds to allow you to buy one enclose and swap out the drives as needed, the drives pop in and out without the need for tools.

No question these enclosures are a bit more expense than some of the options, but if you put a high value on the safety of your files while on the road and expect to be moving around a lot, these are some of the best options I’ve ever found. My next big photo outing is spending two weeks on the dunes of Cape Cod photographing the landscape of the National Sea Shore and you can be sure in my computer bag will be a pair of these.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Figure/Landcape shoot today

It was a rare day here in STL this weekend, end of February and over 70 degrees so after a few calls two of my "muses" spent some time with me in the Tyson landscape. A nice way to spend and early spring day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ten Days until departure for Mardi Gras!

Only ten days from today I'll be packing in the last of the gear and Aimee and I will be heading south down I-55 to NOLA for her Mardi Gras #20 and my #26. It's a time for thinking about gear to organize and pack and the always vexing question of what the weather will be this year. Really the weather can do anything so you need to pack for a just about all possibilities short of snow. This year we have both spoken about how we'll photograph it differently, we both feel we're in a bit of a rut and need to shake up our thinking about how we'll approach the 5 day event. See you on the streets!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Return of Kodak Ektachrome


I hate to be contrary and spoil all the fun and I do not wish to sound like a digital troll but I used to teach slide based film photography and shot more than my share of 4x5 chromes professionally. I also ran a e-6 machine at the Washington  University photo program for a while so I have a few experiences with the material.

Really, Ektachome? IMHO the material was basically unstable, faded colors, a heavy bias toward the blue side and a pretty narrow dynamic range. Did you guys all forget that? I mean there was a pretty good reason why side films were the first to go when film types started going away. I could go on, but I am just a little amused by all the excitement, I mean we have a couple of pretty decent Fujichrome films out there now and I wonder if the folks at Kodak have seen the sales stats for those products.

I guess I am happy they want to make more films but I'd be happier with developing a wider range of negative films again. Oh BTW, I have 4 or 5 Kodak carousel projectors used for sale if you are really committed.