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One of the weak points of the Fuji X system is the flash. The EF-42 is the current flagship, but it overly large in comparison to the camera systems. The Nissin i40 is a far more pleasing flash in that regard, albeit even more basic than the EF-42 in terms of control. I do find that using the EF-42 in TTL and bouncing seems to work better than the Canon equivalents, which often need additional flash exposure compensation to get the light right.

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The EF-42 Flash

There’s a whole lot missing in the system though. No off camera remote control for TTL-either optical or radio for example. But the big thing for me is the lack of an on flash AF Illuminator for club and event work. I’m shooting in places where I often can’t even see the people I’m shooting, so having the flash send out a beam to help focus is essential. Both the EF-42 and i40 have these in the camera (The EF-42 is actually a rebranded Sunpak flash), but they’re not turned on in the Fuji firmware.

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The Nissin i40 Flash

In addition, both of these flashes are relatively low power- at 42 and 40 in Guide Number(GN), they’re shy of the power of most flagship flashes which have GN52 or above. Also, most other flashes can do High Speed Sync, allowing you to shoot with faster shutter speeds than the normal sync speed of the camera.

There is something on the horizon to help with some of these issues: The EF-X500 which was announced (and perhaps overshadowed by) with the launch of the X-Pro2. This flash has a GN of 50, meaning more power. There’s also optical TTL control of up to 3 flashes (though I assume they mean 3 groups, rather than literally 3 flashes). I tend to use manual flash off camera, but can see situations where mixing TTL and flash would work well (like a wedding with fixed background light level and TTL for table work). Someone at the SWPP mentioned they would have radio TTL as well, but the specs doesn’t back this up. Radio TTL is possible with the RoboSHOOT triggers from Serene Automation, which I’ll be reviewing shortly.

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The EF-X500

High Speed Sync is something I did use with Canon to get shallow depth of field outside on bright days with flash, so I am looking forward to seeing this in action on Fuji!

One thing that I’ve not been able to find out is if there is now AF Illumination on flash. This would be the nail in the coffin for my Canon system. It’s the only main thing that has stopped me moving completely. Well, that and Tilt Shift lenses. Hopefully Samyang will step up to the plate on that one!

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The Fujifilm X-Photographer website was updated today and I delighted to announce that I’m on it. Yep, I’m an X-Photographer. I love the system and am overjoyed to be there. You can check out recent images I’ve shot with either the X-Pro1 or the X-T0 at http://fujifilm-x.com/photographers/en/sean_mccormack/#01

As a new member of the IPPA (Irish Professional Photographers Association) Heat 2 happened about a week after I joined, so I missed the opportunity to enter-I simply wasn’t prepared. I was ready for Heat 3 though and I did enter. I came away with 1 Merit, and 3 Highly Commended’s and an Award of Excellence. I’m delighted with that.

One of my favourite images (and the top marked) was one of actor John O’Dowd from a commissioned shoot. Our aim was a more editorial look rather than straightforward headshots. We were both delighted with the outcome of the shoot.

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The full set is on the IPPA Awards Site.

Update: Based on the points from the top 4 images in a category, I’ve been announced as a finalist in the Photographer of the year for Portrait.

One aspect of my lighting Masterclass at the Societies Convention was the modifiers you can use on speedlights. For a lot of my work (some of it is on the site and the blog), I use a Godox 120cm Octa (which can be bought from this Ebay link for less than $30 shipped). You can also get it on Amazon UK US Affil. I’ve had others before, but the key advantage of the Godox (besides the excellent material), is that it uses fibre glass rods, making it really robust. So much so that I was able to bend it enough to fit in my suitcase safely. I use this as both a key light and to get a white background on headshots.

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On the other end of the pricing scale is the Elinchrom Rotalux 70cm Deep Octa (Amazon UK/US Affil). This is one of my favourite modifiers of all, because it’s so versatile. Without any diffusion, it acts as a parabolic reflector, focusing the light for a really efficient response. Because it’s an Elinchrom product, it can be used with any of the Elinchrom deflectors, making it act like a beauty dish (it ships with a white one). With just the inner diffusor attached, it gives a beautiful soft light, but with a little kick from the visible silver on the outer part of the softbox. You can add the outer diffusor for even softer, less contrasty light. There’s also nothing to stop you using just the outer diffusor; this will give soft light, but not as soft as with both. So that’s at least 5 different looks you can get from one modifier.

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The Deep Octa is a studio product, but there are a few different product that allow you to use them with speed lights. I’ve gone through a few of them, and by far the best is the Godox Bracket for Elinchrom (Amazon UK/US Affil). Firstly, the flash is clamped in place, rather than using the hotshoe, so balances better. The tilt arm is really robust. It also takes an umbrella or deflector via spring clip. Finally the wide outer ring fits any of the Lastolite EZ Box softboxes-Godox also do their own softbox kit version with a bracket.

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The other value product I showed was the Meking Studio Ringflash. This softbox ring flash works on camera for a softer ring light look, but works just as well off camera. You can also put gels inside it via the next modifier! Again here’s an Amazon UK/US Affil link, but you can get it cheaper on Ebay.

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The final modifier is the MagMod system. This is a mounting system that uses strong rubber and magnets to support a range of modifiers that include gels/holder and grids. I love it. Gone are the velcro straps that are a pain to use, and attaching a grid or gel is so much easier now. I use them with both grids and gels and will add a snoot at some stage.

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Note: Affilialte links are marked as such. It’s not Irish law until March , but I’m showing them as such right now. I don’t get much from them, and it doesn’t cost you any extra. If you find the information useful, please use them to buy!

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I’ve mentioned my nomination in this category (my 2nd time too) before, so I went to the The Societies Awards dinners at the Convention. This year the made placings, and while I didn’t win, I’m delighted to say that I placed. I was 3rd to 2 rather beautiful portraits. The winner went on to place as 3rd overall photographer of the year-so not a bad thing to lose to really. I’m delighted that the judges think that my work is good enough to get placed in competition, and of course it makes me want to strive for more, rather than run away disappointed.

Special thanks to the actor Sean T. O’Meallaigh, who was the subject of my nominated image.

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I love speaking.
I don’t mean the process of opening my mouth and uttering words. I mean the processing of imparting knowledge learned over my 15+ years of photography. I find it utterly satisfying to have people stop me in the corridors of a hotel to thank me for my class, and to say it one of the best they attended this year. It’s really satisfying.

So the annual Societies Convention is over for another year, and after weeks of preparation, my Masterclasses are done. I kicked off with a talk on Landscape photography on Thursday morning. I go loads of great questions, and of course got to show off my work as part of talking about composition and processing. I really put a lot of work into this class and it really reminded me that I should finish the ebook I started creating way back in 2010. It’s time.

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My second class was on location lighting, showing off editorial setups to get that studio look on location. The class opens with a discussion of what makes light good, then goes on to talk about on camera flash, before going off camera. Again the layout of the class would make the basis for a nice speed light ebook. A big part of the response to this class is that you can do a lot without breaking the bank and still have gear that works really well, as well as looking better than the cost. Things like my 120cm Octa (yes I was able to fit this in a case for Ryanair!), and the Meking ring light for speed lights. Of course as well as the value for money modifiers, I also demoed my favourite modifier, the Elinchrom 70cm Deep Octa, and the MagMod system. I’ve done a post about the modifiers I used here.

The final class is the topic I’m so well known for: Lightroom. In this I explored Develop, looking at things like portrait retouching, landscape processing, as well as things like Smart Previews and Profiles. Of course I have a book about Lightroom out right now! I also showed the Palette, and I think people got straight away what a time saver it is.

The Convention isn’t about me though, it’s about the choice of hundreds of classes with world class speakers. I never sleep well out of my own bed, and this week was no exception (though packing one of my own pillows really did help). I should point out that this wasn’t due to late nights at the bar-I was in bed by midnight! It meant I missed some classes I really wanted to see, like Sean Conboy or even Jared Platt.

Still, I got to see some great classes. London based family photographer (and friend) Panikos Hajistilly did a great class on family posing, lighting and product. Very enjoyable. I’ve shot in his studio and it really was a delight to be at his first convention talk. Great stuff Pani!

Probably one of my favourite classes to go to was that of Stuart Wood. Stuart shoots loads of TV related stuff, shoots Elinchrom, and is moving to Fujifilm. I went to the class last year and loved it. Having had spoken to Stuart briefly in the bar, I knew that he’d have loads of new work to show. And it really was compelling viewing. It’s funny that you can really know and use stuff, but when someone describes it in a different way to how you think of it, it really drives it home. And last year it made me start to light a little differently for editorial work. I brought out techniques that I hadn’t used in a while, so for me it was a great class. This year it gave me a better way of directing the shots. Cheers Stuart!

I popped by Damian McGillicuddy stand more than once. Despite the fact that I did have an Olympus E-M5, and changed to Fuji, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate these quality of m43 cameras. They really are fully featured and great tools. Damian regularly shows techniques in a particularly entertaining fashion, and I really do believe that good teaching is a performance. Engagement is critical and the Big Dog has showmanship in spades. There’s always a new idea to glean from this master-like with Stuart Wood, just because you know something, doesn’t mean there isn’t some new angle that you’ve missed. And Damian is great for that.

Speaking of Damian, Damien Lovegrove was there as well and his portrait masterclass was a great watch. I met Max De Martino there as well. Even more Fujiness.

I got to hang with my buddies from The Photographer Academy too. I love that bunch so much. They’ve given me a lot, and we’ve sorted out a way for me to get a lot more content over for the site, which is a relief to me. Time is tight enough, so anything that eases it is fantastic. Mark Cleghorn has so much energy and passion for training, it’s always amazing to see him at work.

You can probably guess there’s a lot of networking going on too. There’s always great people to meet, and I got to meet some incredibly talented photographers like Terry Donnelly, Kevin Mullins, Vicki Boulter, and a host of others. Not to mention mates like Nathan Wake from Fujifilm or Seamus Costelloe, or even the Gavtrain himself, Mr Gavin Hoey.

I write for the Kelbyone magazine Photoshop User, so it was great to bump into a gang of peeps from there. Glyn Dewis was speaking for The Flash Centre, and Dave Clayton was around. It’s Dave’s fault I got to work with Rocky Nook on my last book! Rich Harrington was on the Lucid Perfectly Clear stand, as was Vanelli and Eric Renno. Great to chat to those guys.

As for the time I did spend in the bar, it was in the company of some great people, like the Whitmores, or the Photographer Academy group (including the birthday girl Michelle Szpak). I had a great conversation with Richard Curtis from Adobe and nice chat with Damien Lovegrove as well. There was a huge Fujifilm connection going on throughout the convention, so it really felt like home. Yes, I did get to fondle the X-Pro2, and it really is a magnificent beast. No budget for one as yet, and being a working pro isn’t about the latest and greatest, it’s about making money on the gear you have, and working it for all you can get from it.

Here’s my funny Fuji story. I did mention the lack of sleep thing already. Anyway. Fuji were doing a free sensor clean offer, so I put the camera in for a clean. The trade show closes at 5, so I was told to collect it near end of day. I wanted to go to a Photowalk (with the Photofocus guys) at 5, but was tired, so I lay down at 3, with the alarm set for 4:20. Plenty of time to collect the cameras and get a tube over to the walk. The alarm went off. Perfect. I rolled around to check the time again… and it was 5:19. I’d unknowingly dozed right off again. Cue jumping into my clothes and running to the trade show to beg my way in. The Fuji peeps were still there-just, so I was able to get my cameras. They looked pristine too-they’d cleaned the outside as well, so were looking practically brand new. Of course the firmware was reset too, so I had to redo my custom dials, but that was fine. Phew.. close call. Still missed the photowalk though :(

For me this was one of the best conventions. I will be putting in proposals for next years too, and I’ve a better idea of ancillary stuff I want to do for it. I’ll post to my newsletter when I know what’s happening. Do sign up, I’ll have more freebies coming soon, so it’s worthwhile. No selling your details, or spamming, just quality content from behind the scenes to tips and tricks.

There is one thing that I didn’t do that I wished I had.. and in ironic fashion, I wished I’d taken more photos!

I’m delighted to have a 6 page editorial in Weddings Now (a Golden Egg publication in the Galway Now Fold) out this month. GK Media have a behind the scenes video from the amazing location that is Kilcolgan Castle

Model: Cora from Roza Model Agency
Makeup: Colette Manning from Lash And Brow Studio
Hair: Piotr Bartłomiej Bieniasz and Adrian Haupa from Kazanoo Hair Studio Galway
Boutiques: Dirty Fabulous, Tracybridal.com and Bride2Be
Styling: Lauragh Quinn and Gabriella Patterson

Thanks to Patricia McCrossan from Golden Egg for being there to make it all happen too.

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I’ve created a brand new mini ebook on some hidden features in Lightroom called ‘Alt Lightroom’! It’s a practical look at ways to speed up Lightroom and access more advanced features in the program. This is a downloadable PDF eBook. And it’s free. As in nada, nothing, zip.

Download it. Enjoy it. Tell all your friends about it!

Simply sign up to my newsletter, and it’s all yours. No spamming, just regular photo related content.


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My article on making LED light and using them to create an orb is now up on Digital Photography School. In it I show the process of building an LED array, how to power it, and how to light paint with the final design.

2015 has been a bizarre year for me, and I look back with mixed emotions on it. The most consuming thing has to have been the writing of ‘The Indispensable Guide to Lightroom CC’. I was writing close to 10,000 words a week for nearly 12 weeks, as well as creating all the screen shots, and doing all the edits and approving changes from the wonderful Maggie Yates at Rocky Nook. The initial pitch for the book happened through a chance conversation with Dave Clayton, and I’m delighted to have written for Rocky Nook on this project. All told, the first half to 2015 was leading towards the release of the book.

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With something that pretty much told the entire first half of the year, where do you go to talk about what happened the rest of the year? I didn’t get to shoot as much personal work as I would’ve liked. Even at that a lot of the shots that were planned didn’t happen. We’ll look at the ones that did shortly.

Commercially, I was busy this year. There was my ongoing work for Carbon Nightclub, which included one photo of a couple kissing, where the fella was texting at the same, went viral. It was pulled from the club website after 4 hours (at the request of the girl’s father), where it already had 7000 likes and had been shared over 550 times on Joe.ie (with the headline ‘Romance isn’t dead’. You couldn’t really see the girl in the photo, but for the sake of her modesty, I’m not reposting it. Here’s a pre Halloween one instead!

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I shot a lot of properties for Airbnb. Initially these were all lit, but as the year went on, they changed requirements, so it went to mostly natural light for the listings. Of course that’s a whole new workflow! I’ve been building up my product and still life portfolio as well, and aim to launch a dedicated commercial photography website in 2016.

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I also took another step into changing my camera system. I received the Fuji X-T10 at the end of June, less than a fortnight after it was launched. I fell in love with it immediately. It was such a vast improvement from the X-Pro1. I love the X-Pro1, but the speed of focus, and the low light abilities left me wanting more. The X-T10 gave that more. I’m still using the Canon 5DIII for nightclub work, as the TTL flash system on Fuji is still weak. The majority of my work is done on the Fuji though. I’ll have more news on it next month too. As part of the move to Fuji, I’ve bought more lenses to round the system out. I also expanded on my use of the Godox v850 system, albeit as Neewer rebrands.

Fun with flashes #xt10 #fujifilm #neewer #godox #magmod

A photo posted by Sean McCormack (@seanmcfoto) on

I’ve mentioned my book, but that’s not the only writing I’ve done this year. The Maximum Workflow column for Photoshop User Magazine has been a monthly staple for me. I also had the pleasure of meeting Ben Brain from Future Publishing at a Scott Kelby seminar, and this lead to a monthly Lightroom column with Digital Camera magazine. I’m still doing articles for Clarity magazine, though it’s not as frequent. I applied to write for Digital-Photography-School.com recently and got a writing trial. The article is out next week and talks about creating and shooting Orb photos.

So. Let’s look photos I loved from 2015! It’s a mix of everything, so not a specific genre of photos. There are a few editorials awaiting publication, so those images aren’t included.(click into the post for more) Continue reading ›