Rumours abound that the much delayed successor to the ancient EF-42, the EF-X500, has been delayed again until September. Originally due an end of May launch, it’s being pushed back further and further. The imminent July 7th announcement will supposedly have both a price and a Sept release date. Just another week in the Fuji Flash Saga. (Fujirumors have more pics and a potential price of over €500 for the EF-X500).
Don’t get me wrong. It’s really great that it’s finally coming. I did get to see a mockup version at The Photography Show, but it’s both really late in terms of what’s out there, and in terms of the continuously delayed launch. What do I mean? Well, flash has been the weak point of the system all along, and the original specs for this flash show that it will have remote commander functions-but in optical form. Anyone using remote flash knows that even the super cheap systems out there now use radio triggers, which don’t require line of sight, and will still work outdoors in bright sunlight. Personally I’m hoping the addition of radio is part of the delay, but I’m not optimistic.
The X-T10 already has a commander mode option in the camera, so hopefully, this will work with the new flash. And hopefully it will be either able to use HSS (high speed sync), or get a firmware update for it. Now, the Nissan i40, a 3rd party flash for Fuji, does HSS in full manual power, through a secret handshake on turn on, so it is possible to get it that way, but on a low powered flash. So the sooner it arrives in official Fuji form, the better!
As for remote TTL via Radio, I’ve already looked at the RobotSHOOT triggers. They’re well up to that task, and as bonus, let Nikon users keep their flashes for Fuji TTL use. The SB910 is a far better flash than the EF-42, and by using a camera bracket, you could easily run TTL with a more powerful flash off a Fuji camera.
In reality, the long wait for a Fuji flash isn’t from a lack of trying on Fuji’s part. The current flagship flash is the EF-42. This is a rebranded Sunpak flash, made for the S series DSLR’s that Fuji once made. It also shows that Fuji depend on 3rd party manufacturers for flashes. They had Metz on board, but when Metz went under, it made for a major setback. Still, news from around the world is not bad for Fuji users with regards using flash.
Cactus Image have announced the V6II triggers which provide HSS to Fuji through a range of other flashes, so the external competition is already on. Piet from More Than Words, a fellow Fuji X Photographer, has a review set and it raving about them, and at how great the HSS is.
There’s the other issue with Fuji flash, that I mention, but seems to be less public. On camera flash is used to light up dark and low light environments. In my case in nightclubs. On DSLRS, the flashes send out a red criss cross kind of pattern. The camera detects these via the secondary mirror system used to focus. The contrast allows the camera to focus, then the shot can fire. Mirrorless cameras focus directly from the sensor, and don’t respond to the standard focus assist beam. They need light to focus. This means a compatible flash needs a light beam, like an LED video light to focus. Product shots of the EF-X500 seems to show a white rectangle, which I really hope is a LED. Why? Because I’m tired of having to use the 5D3 for this one regular job, where I’d rather be using the Fuji.
It’s taken a long time to get to this point, so I really hope that this July 7th rumour pans out and that the EF-X500 will in fact put the flash weakness with the Fujifilm X-Series to bed.
The Fujifilm X-T10 was announced on the 18th June 2015. I rang Galway Camera Shop, got a price, had a think, then rang back and ordered one. That sounds a bit like a fanboy response, but it wasn’t. In fact, inside my head, I was done with Fuji at that point. The X-Pro1, much as I loved the image quality, was slow to focus.. and just slow in general. I had 2 lenses at the time too, an 18mm f2.0 and a 35mm f1.4. I shoot landscapes, interiors and portraits (of many kinds). The 18 mm wasn’t wide enough and 35 mm wasn’t long enough.
When the X-T1 was announced, it solved many of my issues, but based on my lack of faith and the expense, I just couldn’t take the risk. When the X-T10 came out with a great feature set and a better price, I decided to give Fuji one last chance. Boy, am I glad. I was far more pleased than I ever expected to be. The X-T10 made me fall in love with photography all over again.
The camera is really customisable, with plenty of features that made it an indispensable tool. Important things like being easily able to set up a button to turn the viewfinder Exposure preview off for my studio work- meaning it shows the scene in front of you, but not how it’s exposed. I could also turn the exposure preview back on to see how the photo are would look exactly when using natural light. I now find it hard to go back to digital SLRs, I have gotten so used to the electronic viewfinder on the X-T10. Why? Because with exposure preview on, what you see in the viewfinder is exactly what the photo looks like. And because I’ve the preview time set to 0.5 sec, I’m straight on to composing the next shot as my photo flashes by. (I’d even go shorter if it were possible).
For easy access I’ve set a single press of the shutter speed dial to change it to the control to ISO. The camera focuses directly from the sensor, so the focus point can be anywhere on the image. I’m not restricted to the centre of the image like most digital SLR’s. By adding more glass to the system I’ve gained a lot of options. I now run from 12mm to 140mm, which is 18mm to 210mm in full frame terms. I have that Samyang 12mm, the Fuji 18mm, 35mm, 60mm, 18-55mm, and 50-140mm. This covers what I need for work. Had the camera not worked out, I’d have sold the what I had and continued with Canon full time. But fortunately, the X-T10 just clicked with me.
I don’t believe the system is complete yet but there is bright news on the horizon. One thing I missed from Canon is high speed sync(HSS). Fuji do not have it implemented in their flash system, though the new flash the EF-X500, will have HSS and an optical trigger system. Chinese manufacturer Cactus have announced version two of their V6 trigger which is multisystem compatible and will work with Fuji (including HSS). That solves my main concern with the system and flash. The remaining concern is flash in low light. Digital SLRs can use a red focus assist being to create contrast, allowing the lens to focus. Because mirrorless cameras focus from the sensor they really need light to focus. Hopefully this can be resolved so I can use Fuji for nightclub work and sell my Canon gear.
I’d like to talk about my progression with the camera. Initially I only used the Fuji for personal work, but as time passed I started using it more and more for commercial work. There were a lot of benefits to the system. The Wi-Fi connectivity was helpful for remote photography allowing me to shoot rooms while not present for my interiors work. I could set up the shot, turn on the Wi-Fi, then leave the room. From on my phone or tablet (iOS or Android) I could see the shot and remotely change the settings on the camera. It also enabled me to put the camera up on a tall pole making use of height for elevation photography. I also love the tilt screen for interiors. I tend to shoot slight about mid room height, so being able to angle the screen is perfect.
For my people work I found the electronic viewfinder helped me nail more images. Because what you see is what you get you know before you shoot exactly what the shot is going to look like. For travel and speaking, the X-T10 with four prime lenses weighs less that my Canon Digital SLR. I’ve been able to fit the camera, the four prime lenses (12,18,35 & 60), a flash (Neewer TT850), triggers, spare batteries, memory cards and charger in a camera bag smaller than the Ryanair second carry on bag. Meaning my normal check-in bag is for my clothes again! Now if only there was room for a 7″ tablet in the small bag.
I am a member of the IPPA the Irish Professional Photographers Association. At one of the Association meetings I met Irish Fuji X photographer, Tom Doherty. Tom explained a little bit about the process of becoming Fuji X photographer so I made contact with Fuji Ireland. From that initial contact I was eventually made a Fuji X photographer myself. I was absolutely delighted when this happened. It’s amazing that a camera, especially one of the cheaper cameras, could have made such an impact on my photography and I’m delighted to be included with this group of ambassadors for Fujifilm.
Over the past few months I’ve been working with GalwayNOW doing some of their editorials and business sections. It’s been a joy to do this work, and the X-T10 has met no resistance with clients. Using either an Eye-Fi Card, or the Remote app, I show work as we go. Tether is definitely beneficial, so I really hope that we can get wifi tether added to the current wifi options.
I’m still speaking and teaching a lot. I did classes for The Societies Convention in January, and got to hang with Nathan Wake from Fuji UK-total gent. I’ve also taught at a residential week in Buxton in the UK, again using the Fuji. The most recent event was for the IPPA, where I did a half day class in flash, showing the X-T10 in operation. I did pull out the Canon for about 20 minutes to show HSS.
I see myself getting more lenses, the new flash, and the rumoured X-T2. Quite a turnaround from where I was just over a year ago! So after a year, is there anything I’d change? Well, I’m delighted with it, but yes there are things. One of them is huge. I’d lose the Drive dial. It’s worse than useless. It forever getting changed when I don’t want it too. Fortunately I know quickly now, but it had me confused. The times I need to change it are few and far between, and I’d rather have an ISO dial than a Drive dial. One thing I need for interiors is more accurate electronic levels. The current one has too wide a range to be useful and I use a hotshot bubble level instead. I also need an up down level so walls are straight. Canon do have one, and it’s great. Faster preview time too, like 0.3 or 0.2 sec. Um.. I’m sure there’s more, but honestly, the features are so good in general. Here’s to the next year with Fuji.
The May/June issue of Photoshop User (with Lightroom) Magazine is out now. In my monthly Column, Maximum Workflow, I do a walkthrough of Nik’s Analog EFEX Pro app. It’s part of the Google Nik Collection, which was recently made free of charge by Google. Analog EFEX is a great program with loads of retro looks available.
I started photography printing and developing my own black and white photos. I still have the gear in storage, but I don’t do much of it any more-to my shame. A few years ago I saw Ian Ruthers ‘Silver and Light’ film and was hooked on the idea of doing collodion based photography. I read extensively, watched tonnes of videos and even got as far as pricing chemicals and other paraphernalia (expensive) for this antique photographic craft. I checked online for classes and saw I’d just missed one. There was no further date available, so I contacted the tutor. She would give 1:1 or 1:2 classes, so I tried to get someone else on board to no avail. I let the opportunity slip and just lived with the regret.
Since then I’ve seen videos where Ian was shooting just using a Holga and I still hoped to do it….one day. Something happened in March, that prompted me to go and look for courses on Wet Plate Collodion. The Gallery of Photography in Dublin had one on the 8th May, so I emailed in assuming the class would be booked up already again. It wasn’t. There were 2 spaces left, so I booked straight away.
So yesterday, after a short nights sleep, I got the Gobus to Dublin. There were 6 attending the class, along with 2 assistants. There was a great regional representation, with Galway, Cork, Limerick, Mayo, Westmeath and of course, Dublin. The tutor was Monika Fabijanczyk, and it became really obvious throughout the class just how knowledgeable she was in the field of wet plate photography with Ambrotypes being her preferred method.
The class began with notes handed out to the students, but unlike other classes, we didn’t spend the start of the class reading through the notes. These were more like homework. Instead, this was a fully practical class. Hands on from the start. I volunteered to have my portrait taken for the initial demo. There’s two parts to the class really. Firstly most of us were using Large Format cameras for the first time. There are similarities to using older Medium Format cameras, like need to cock the shutter etc. The image is also upside down and reversed left to right-which is what the image will look like. The 2nd is the creation and processing of the wet plates.
The studio and class (The Lightroom as it’s called) is on the 3rd floor. The Darkroom is in the basement. There were more people than could fit in the lift, so there was a lot of stairs use, so maybe there was a 3rd part to the class: exercise! We went down to the basement and Monika showed us how to pour collodion onto clean glass plates. Gloves, aprons and goggles are used for this as collodion is dangerous, and when the silver nitrate is added will stain skin (it’s actually burning the skin). There’s a technique to the pour, and you do see it in the Silver and Light videos, but seeing it in person being described is definitely more valueable. Not to mention that a tonne of head knowledge only amount to a gram of experience. When the collodion dried enough to be tacky, it was smoothly placed in a silver bath for about 3 minutes with a little occasional agitation. Next Monika cleaned the back and then places it into a converted sheet film holder and added the dark slide. The plate looked milky at this point, and was placed face down in the holder. Up at that camera, the opposite side is opened for the exposure. With the plate ready, we went back up to the studio.
I sat and Monika prepped and took the shot. As the effect ISO of wet plate collodion is ISO 1 or 2, it means a lot of light and long exposures. First Monika checked focus on the ground glass, with the shutter held open. Once focused, she closed and cocked the shutter for firing. The holder was put in behind the ground glass and the dark slide removed. With the camera set to T, she fired the shutter with a remote cable. After a 10 count, she fired the release again to close the shutter. The dark slide was put back in and we all went down to the darkroom again. The plate was taken out and developer pored onto it. After about 10-15 secs, when the detail began to appear, the plate was put into a batch to stop the developer. Once the developer was washed off, it went into the fixer try. This is where the magic happened. Even though you can see the image after the developer, it goes through a milky looking phase in the fixer, but then appears properly. It’s really exciting to see-even more than with paper processing. Once ready, the plate in put in a running water tray to clean off. I’ll say this again: there’s nothing that matched being there in person watching this.
After this we took a 40 minute lunch break-no eating near the chemicals allowed! After lunch we all got our first go. Straight up- Monika made it look easy. But it’s not quite as easy as that really. You need to gauge the pour and then get the spare collodion back in the jar. I didn’t quite pour enough the first time, with Monika telling me to keeping pouring. Prepping in the bath was easy and then a quick clean of the back and into the holder. Back up to the studio to shoot my first portrait. I had Jason, one of the other class members sit for me. Then it was back down to the darkroom to develop. I really made a mess of the developer pour, with not enough spread around the plate. Pouring more only meant that I didn’t get an even pour of the developer on the plate. So after fixing and cleaning, it was noticeably streaked. However, I love it. I preferred the distressed look on these images, so messing it up was achieving rather than outright failing. That’s not to say I don’t want to do it right.
My second go had a far better collodion pour. I was really proud of it right until the moment where I dropped it, emulsion side down, onto the paper towelling. Doh! Monika said to try it anyway, and like I’ve said, I like the distressed look anyway. So back up to the studio where I shot Niamh, one of the assistants. I was still getting used to the camera-it was my 2nd only ever large format shot after all, so I unfortunately missed focus on this. Ground glass takes some getting used to, so I’m not surprised that people use loupes with them. I did a better job with the developer on this one. Very distressed from the fall, and some fogging, but I love it.
For my third shot, I changed from a black glass plate to clear glass. I gave the plate a good brushing and did a great pour. I was really happy with it. I shot another student, Toma, an artist from west Cork. She was super nice and I loved seeing this appear in the developer. Then, disaster struck. The collodion started to lift from the plate in the wash. We gently finished the wash and put it in fixer. The whole emulsion started to peel off. To save ot. Monika put it in a separate tray, and dried with a hard dryer later on. She felt the glass may not have been cleaned enough prior to the class, and that was why it lifted. The save was only partial and she recommended I scan it sooner rather than later. The drying processing didn’t quite removed the bubbles, but I’m still pleased with it. I scanned against black card, so it’s not as rich as the others. The blue white bits are excess collodion that the fixer didn’t have time to wash away.
My final shot was also on clear glass, this time of Justin. In terms of the process I felt far more comfortable with this one. Everything went smoothly. Pour, batch, focus, developer, fixer. No peeling either!
As the class was going on, we were moving plates out of the running water bath into trays, to avoid them scratching each other in the bath. The other assistant dried the plates with a hair dryer, and then Monika should how to varnish them with traditional varnish. Next she showed how to use Renaissance wax for a more modern and faster finish.
So how did I feel about all this? Well I was elated actually. It was far more fun that I could have imagined. There really is nothing to beat hands on experience, and that’s where I need to go next with it. I may try the Holga route initially, but a large format camera is a must for the really. I highly recommend this course. Even if you never want to do it yourself after, the experience is great. It also gives you an understanding of what photography was like in the early days of the craft. Monika is an excellent tutor, and her skill and knowledge was evident throughout the class, with her help when things were going wrong for me, or for the other class members.
I’m already searching for gear for this, and planning how to make it happen! I love the practical side of this craft so this is a great way to get back to it. Changing to Fuji and using retro looking cameras is great, but this? This is real retro!
Shooting fashion photography in Galway, it’s always a delight to get published in the magazine of choice for the sophisticated ladies of the city: Galway Now.
This editorial was shot in the g hotel with Samantha from Roza Model agency with clothes from incredible designer Natalie B. Coleman. I’ve loved her work for ages, so this was a joy to shoot.
Photography: Sean McCormack
Art Direction: Gabriela Patterson
Model: Samantha @ Roza
Makeup: Colette Manning @ Lash & Brow Studio
Hair: Ronan Patterson @ The Face
Video: David Cooley
BTS Photos: Piotr Lyszkiewicz
Warning: Due to the nature of Burlesque performance, this post is slightly NSFW, so I’ve posted the photos after the fold.
With the range of people work I do, it’s always a pleasure to work with performers of all kinds. Be they actors, models, personalities, or in this case Burlesque performers. I’ve seen Harley perform as part of The Dirty Circus, so it was fantastic to get a chance to do a shoot with her-especially one that incorporates a lot of coloured lights. As you may have noticed, I’ve been adding colour to my work of late.
Being used to the stage, it made sense to add colour with Harley. Generally stages feature a mix of coloured lights to heighten the performance, so what better way to enhance a shoot than emulate that environment?
I went to The Photography Show the first year after Focus on Imaging finished, and really enjoyed it. It was a great show, but for various reasons I haven’t been since. Sometimes it was work related, last year it was because I was writing ‘The Indispensable Guide to Lightroom CC’ under deadline pressure.
This year, I’d no such commitments and was really itching to go. I loved speaking at The Societies Convention in January. It a great chance to network and see new gear, but the trade show is smaller than with The Photography. I’m not giving out about the Convention- I love going to it! It really is a wonderful few days at the start of the year, and I always come away buzzing with new ideas and fresh insight. I highly recommend it to any photographers.
The timing wasn’t great still, so I finished at job at 2am and drove to Dublin for a 6:25 flight. I met loads of Malahide Camera Club members in the airport. Big shout out to Joe Doyle, Michelle la Grue and the crew. The flight was painless though there was a bit of a wait the other end!
Being so big, The Photography Show is a great place to catchup with people, meet people you only know from on
line and see new gear (of course). So this post is about that, and probably will bore the pants off non photographers. You have been warned. I will be talking about the great people I got to meet. If you think it’s name dropping, umm, sorry, it’s not meant to be.
Fujifilm were one of the main sponsors and the stand was right inside the entrance. I spent a bit of time there chatting to the fabulous Nathan Wake as well as grabbing coffee with him and the equally wonderful Gary Astill (formerly of Lastolite). This is a big part of why I go to trade shows. Meet great people, play with new gear. I got to play with a few cameras on the stand, like the X70. Tempted as a pocket and BTS camera, but at the price, I would seriously consider a 2nd X-T10. There was a mockup of the EF-X500, but I didn’t get a play with it. Next year I need to make a list and have a better plan of attack. As with the SWPP show, Fujifilm were doing free cleaning, so I got my X-Pro1 cleaned. Yay for free cleaning. Of course this meant that I didn’t take many photos.
The Photographer Academy were helping on the Flaghead stand, so I got to talk to Jay and Sam for a bit, and of course had to take part in Mark Cleghorn’s 101 beards at the show. I was somewhere in the mid 40s of that section. That was done on The Flash Centre stand, using Elinchrom, my lighting of choice in the studio and for more powerful lights on location. I chatted to Simon Burfoot there, and tried to convince him to let me talk there next year (hey, I can only ask!). John Moors was there as well, helping away.
I met plenty of Buxtonites (a special group of people-we really did form a bond at these training weeks run by Paul RG Haley), and hung with them after the first evening. That may not have been a wise choice from the wine point of view, but it was a lot of fun. So hi again to Mac McBride, Paul Brown, Michelle Heseltine, Jennie Miles, Claire Elliot, Julie Oswin, Iona Long and all the others I bumped into. It’s like an extended photographer family really. Many of the attendees have gone on to become trainers in their own right. I really love going to these and am looking forward to the next event in May.
I spent a little time at the Lensbaby stand and there’s a Sweet Optic in my near future. I haven’t decided on the 35 or 50 yet, as the 35 is my main lens on the Fuji, but I’m thinking of it for portraits. I just love how they look. Both Jake Hicks and Adam Robertson, two photographers I know and admire, use them from time to time. I do have the 24mm & 90mm TSE tilt shift lenses for Canon, and I can use teleconverters and adaptors for these on Fuji, but they’re really cumbersome. The Composer Pro is really light and easy to use. I’ve loved this look for years and first saw it with the editorial portraits of Mark Tucker– with his infamous Plunger Cam. This was long before Lensbaby of course.
My book was for sale on K52, so I popped along to meet Jane and Pippa from CBL Distribution. Scott Kelby was signing books there, so I chatted to him for a bit. I write for the Kelbyone magazine ‘Photoshop User’, so it’s nice to bump into the boss at these shows. Scott also had me do a quick chat to camera so hopefully that will air at some stage! The camera was run by Dave from 3 Legged Thing and helped along by Dave and Peter from Hybrid Photography.
Remember I did that post showing my speedlight modifiers? Well the ring flash softbox was on sale at the show.. for £120. I kid you not. Save your money and get it for $30 instead. Maybe I should start rebranding and selling them myself!
The highlight of the show for me was meeting Julian Calverley. He’s a commercial and landscape photographer and I’ve genuinely been in love with his work for years. They say never meet your heros, but he was a total gent. Great to finally meet you in person Julian (despite my hangover!). He did a talk at the Linhof Studio stand, under the On Landscape magazine banner. Julian’s personal work is shot on an Alpa, but he also uses the iPhone as well. It’s a full spectrum difference, yet one has come to inform the other for him. The #iPhoneonly book is a delight and a worthy purchase for any landscape photographer. It’s also come full circle and is available as an iBook! If you’re getting it, go for the print version. The print and paper make it worth it. I really wanted to ask loads of questions, but didn’t want to keep interrupting!
I didn’t get to catch up with Ben Brian, editor of Digital Camera World, this time. I did however get to meet Richard Hill for the first time. He’s the Operations Editor on the magazine and is the person I deal with most. Total gent and it was a delight to meet him, albeit unexpectedly! I also met Chris George, the man in charge, and he too was a gent. Don’t forget to catch my monthly column in the magazine!
Scott Wiggins has been doing a Follow Friday with me in it on Twitter for quite a few months, so it was great to meet Tigz Rice, one of the other that’s regularly in that same tweet. Her work is fantastic, and so is she. She was doing demos on the Wacom stand, showing a mix of stuff from Lightroom and Photoshop using the tablets. Follow her.
I also got to chat to Lara Jade about being an author at a networking event for pros run by 3XM. She was lovely and very social, as was Sinbad that joined us a bit into conversation. This was the event where the wine issue came in (mentioned earlier). I hadn’t intended on having anything, but decided to have one glass of white wine, despite being really tired. Then the replacements glasses arrived, and next thing I was signing happy birthday over the PA to 3XM boss Ronan Ryle. Sorry Ronan, I may be able to do sound, but I’m not much of a singer!
I mentioned Scott Kelby, so I definitely need to talk about Dave Clayton! Dave was running the Live Stage, and what a busy affair that was. You’ve heard me talk about total gents, well Dave is another one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing photographers don’t like to do more than bitch about other photographers, but there are plenty of people in the business that like to see people succeed, and Dave is one of them. Dave is the man that gave me the connection to Rocky Nook in the first place.
Final mention should go to the Adobe peeps: Gavin Hoey, Richard Curtis, Dave Mallows and Eric Renno. Eric was showing off his Surface Pro 4. Now if only Apple would run OS X on an iPad Pro.. Can’t someone write an emulator app for that?
It’s a week later now, and it almost seems like a lifetime ago already. I’ll have to go for longer the next time. Too much to see, and too much fun to have!
The GTI Fashion Fiesta show took place in the ‘g’ Hotel function room. The room itself is gorgeous, but underlit for catwalk shooting. The length of the catwalk rules out manual flash so I used remote TTL flash via RoboSHOOT triggers. Like I’ve mentioned in the RoboSHOOT review, TTL is typically hit and miss, and this was true for this show. Bigger shows are generally lit, so you just use that light too shoot with. Here’s a selection from the show.
For 8 years now, Galway Technical Institute’s fashion and beauty classes have put on a fashion as part of their coursework. This allows collaboration to exists between the level 5 & 6 FETAC classes, and allows designers, stylists, hair and makeup students to work as teams, the same as you get out in the real world. A lot of graduates are successful designers in their own right.
I try and get down when I can. This year I had a commercial job booked for the morning, so I didn’t do my usual lit setup. Instead I went down just before the ‘Model Walk’ and pulled out a few outfits to shoot in the crowded canteen. Using a 35mm prime (53mm equiv on full frame), I shot shallow with my ‘go to’ camera, the Fujifilm X-T10.
People are surprised to hear I use this despite having come from a Canon 5DIII. I just love it. The photos from the canteen have been posted to Instagram. The layouts were done automatically in Lightroom using my FREE Instagram Print Templates.