Nikon

Why are you not printing your work?

It’s a simple questions really.  With all the chatter, to be more accurate, clacking, about the ease and instant gratification of digital cameras why are you not printing your work?  It’s just as easy to do and to do well.  Inkjet printers are capable of creating stunning prints.  Printers are affordable and easy to use.  So I ask again; why are you not printing your work?

I went to Beaumont a few weeks ago and had lunch with two very talented and smart photographer friends of mine.  Oh and we had amazing Indian food, but I digress.  While waiting for Jeff to give us a meet up time Richard and I were in his living room talking about many topics one of which was the printed image.  Richard’s living room is a fine art photography gallery.  Showcasing is amazing, and I do mean, AMAZING photographs which are printed and hanging with great care.  I remember commenting then that no one prints their work anymore, why?  Cost?  Access to quality printing?  Who knows the answer to the question but what I do know is this:

The image you are seeing one your iPhone or iPad or what other “i” device you are using cannot compare the quality of a well done print.  Don’t believe me?  Then pay just one time and have a high quality print done of your favorite image and then see if you still think the iScreen is as good.  If you are going to take the time to learn how to use our new D-whatever that cost you $3,000.00 or more and then take the time to learn Lightroom or Photoshop, why are you not learning how to print?  It’s like hitting the ball over then fence and then stopping at 3rd base.  Take it all the way home and PRINT YOUR WORK, ya bunch of knuckleheads 🙂

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Fuji XT-1, is it as good as the D800?

In order to fill the void between wedding shoots I offer actor head shots and am learning the art of food photography.  While learning the latter I noticed something interesting.  I notice there are glaring differences between the Fuji XT-1 and Nikon D800.  The first difference that jumps out at you are the colors.  One is not better than the other but the differences are eye-popping and very noticeable.  The second and equally as noticeable difference is the sharpness and resolution with the clear winner being the…

When it comes to gear I hear all the time that: “the camera is just a tool”.  While that much is true I would like to point out that you would not use a roll of paper towels to hammer a nail now would you?  A ridiculous example I know but back to my point.  Yes, the camera is just a tool and each tool serves its purpose and the Fuji XT-1 is no different.  I am a huge Fuji X fan, I mean HUGE fan of these cameras.  I use the X-Pro1, XE-2 and the XT-1 and by use I mean this is what I carry to shoot 100% of my weddings!  The reasons why I shoot the Fuji X series for wedding are many, and I’ll list some (but not all) of them for you:

  1.  Light weight
  2.  Amazing low light shooters
  3.  Great skin tones
  4.  Stunning B&W images
  5.  Amazing fast lenses with my favorite being the; 56mm 1.2, 23mm 1.4 and 35mm 1.4

When it comes to flash photography the Fuji’s do just OK, but wireless manual flash using my Pocket Wizard in tandem with my Quantum T5-dr’s are as good as anything else compared to any other camera.  Because the Fuji X system cameras are such amazing low light shooters I find myself using less and less flash.  With that said there are some limitations to these cameras the caused me to pick up a Nikon D800 and I’ll get into these reasons now.

Back to my opening statement.  The D800 is not only a great camera but it nicely fills the void left by the Fuji’s.  What void you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  First off the D800’s auto focus is, well, better.  As in, no comparison, even with the newest firmware update on the XT-1.  Yea, yea, yea, I know that XT-1 is not designed to compete directly with the pro end DSLR’s, but I am a pro and I am going to talk about this anyway because using the right tool for the job matters!  The other area of difference is the resolution.  At 36 megapixels the D800 captured more detail, period!  Where I noticed this was when I was shooting food and this is where detail is critical and the D800 did not disappoint.  When severe cropping is needed he D800 retains all of the detail, even at a 100% crop which makes the Nikon D800 is the clear winner.  The sharpness, colors and full frame-ness of the D800 really shines in this and other areas of photography.

Where Fuji has the advantage is in the area of mobility and stunning black and white photography.  For all of my street photography the only thing I will use is my Fuji X-Pro1 and 35mm 1.4 & 23 1.4.  I adore the Fuji as a travel camera.  In fact that’s all I ever take with me when traveling.  I am headed back home to New Orleans in August and my XE-2 and X-Pro 1 will be with me for sure.  They are do wedding dresses better than anything else I’ve used.  They are almost noiseless up to 3200 ISO.  They are silent, discreet and most of all my back is not killing me at the end of a 12 hour wedding.  The auto focus is much improved and the lenses, well those lenses are simply put, YUMMY!

So, is the camera “just a tool”? In short, yes. The right tool for the right job in the hands of the right person matters more in my humble opinion.  When you need the most in the way of detail, sharpness, resolution and cropping the clear winner is the Nikon D800. But when you want B&W photos and for shooting brides the Fuji wins.  So is there room for both a DSLR and a Fuji X camera in you bag?  Yes, there is plenty of room for both and the amazing thing about living in “Merica is that you can have both!

JamBall1-WIG

Above D800 100% crop

JamBalls2-W

Above XT-1 10% crop with 18-55 2.8-4.0 R

PastryXT1-W

Above Fuji XT-1 with 56mm 1.2

PastryD800-W

Above D800 no crop

Why I kept my Fuji X Pro-1

With all the new fangled, fancy pants, digital gee-wiz-a-bang’s being released seemingly on a weekly basis, I decided to stop!  I decided to stop buying the latest and greatest version of what I already have.  I have the Fuji XT1 and love it but I also KEPT my Fuji X-Pro 1, and here’s why.

  1. Just because Fuji released something new does not make my X Pro-1 a bad camera.  
  2. The B&W I get from the X-Pro 1 is more like film than any other camera I’ve used, X100s a close 2nd
  3. It’s focusing is fast enough, certainly faster than I can manually focus my Leica M6
  4. It’s a pretty tough camera.  In fact I have my XE-2 repaired from a slight drop where as the X-Pro 1 still works
  5. The X-Pro 1 fits my hands perfectly.  I love rangefinders and this is a rangefinder-ey as you can get

Now, please keep in mind that cost does factor into this process, but not to the degree you might be thinking.  I have learned that when you find something that just works keep using it until it breaks.  Then get it repaired and keep using it until it needs to be replaced.  Then buy a used X-Pro 1 from B&H or KEH then repeat the steps above.

I have always, and guess always will, wrestle with the film vs. digital thing with no clear winner in sight.  The Fuji X-Pro 1 is the only digital camera I have used that comes closest to the look of B&W film.  And for me that matters.  I rarely shoot in color but when I do I am equally pleased with the color files.  I still use the heck out of my X-Pro 1 at weddings.  It along with the X100s are amazing wedding cameras!

In the end as long as my X-Pro 1 works and Fuji updates the firmware I will keep shooting it.  I liken the  X-Pro 1 to Alanis Morrissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album, they both got it right the first time!

The death of film. Well, maybe not! But most likely. But when?


 

We have to accept that in these days the Leica myth has more nostalgia than future. The exhibition is a proof that the future is not a continuation of the past and even Leica can not disregard the writing at the wall.” …Erwin Puts from The TAO of Leica 2014 “Augen auf!” exhibit

 


 

My Leica M6 is and I guess, will always be the crown jewel of my camera world, aka “obsession”.  Any photographer worth their salt puts the emphasis on the image, the subject if you will.  The story the image tells.  The emotion it evokes.  Second to this is the camera they use.  After all the camera is just a tool right?  The flip side of this argument is: does the “tool” matter?  I guess I fall on both sides of this discussion.  I use my Leica M6 for the image quality, ease of use, the fact I shoot film and the “stealth” like shooting I can do.  But I am not how “stealth” I am at 6’3″ and 360!  But I digress…

As much as I yearn for the days of film I am constantly drawn to the merits of digital.  One of the best art nude photographers I know, Richard Tallent of Beaumont, TX, scratches is head each time I post anything about shooting film.  Ya see, he is 100% digital and misses NOTHING about film shooting.  Richard is always befuddled as to why I choose to still shoot film.  My answer to him is always the same;  It’s because it slows me down and makes me feel more like a real art photographer.  Which I am sure makes zero sense to him and most of you who might real this.  Now enter The Fuji X system.  This was a BIG TIME game changer for me.

The Fuji X Pro-1 with the 35mm 1.4 lens and my ability to really use the hell out of Silver EFX Pro2 made me really second guess the use of my Leica M6.  Well, for a while that is.  No one can argue the exacting and amazing image quality you get out of these cameras.  The B&W images from the Fuji X series are simply stunning! But even with a tool that mimics the M6, there was still something missing in the final product to which I have struggled to put words.  Until now!

To me the digital file is too exacting.  Too literal if you will.  It’s cleaned and polished with every pixel is right where it should be.  Digital images are the Stormtroopers of photography.  What I get with film (talking B&W film here) is a buttery creaminess coupled with (arguably) wider dynamic range and tonality.   It has the serendipitous imperfections that make each frame on the roll truly unique, absent of subject matter.  The grain is real and not a created digital version of grain.  When you look at a frame taken with my M6, Hasselblad 500Cm or Pentax 67, there is no doubt this is a film image.

Even with all of this spoken I constantly hear; “but you still have to scan it to make it a digital image so why not just shoot digital“?  My answer to this is always the same.  Because a scanner takes a “picture” of what it is scanning and therefore I retain that look and feel of a film image even after it is scanned.  I then ask; why do you shoot digital and then spend hours on Photoshop or Lightroom trying to get it to look like film?

Now, do I shoot digital?  Heck yes!  Do I feel like I am giving up something in the way of image quality because I am NOT shooting film, sometimes.  But I am learning that I am not giving up image quality in as much as I learning the differences in image aesthetics when I shoot digital.  What I know to be a fact is, not one of my images would have been a “better” image had I used a film camera.  The reverse is also true.  This harkens back to my earlier statement. Care more about the photograph and less about the gear to truly see what kind of photographer you can become!

 

Until I can deal with the mental block of shooting digital as an art medium I will still use film.  Admittedly I am shooting less and less film.  I think I feel obligated to shoot film because I have these cameras and because the ever so annoying hipsters still shoot film.  However, the Fuji X Pro-1 is helping me a great deal with this issue.

 

FYI my Nikon D800 with its mammoth 36 mp is really changing my opinion!

The death of professional photography

I am sure some of you who read this will take exception to what I am about to say, and well, ok then.  But for most of you my opinion will make sense.

I have been a professional wedding and portrait photographer for over 14 years.  And in that time I have seen many trends in photography.  From the use of caution tape to models posing with pit bulls.  All of that, as cliche as it was, were trends with relation to style and concept.  The trend that I am seeing now is far more troublesome to the professional photographer.  And that is the “dumbing down” of the client.

When digital came into it’s own the debate over the death of film raged.  I always held the opinion that film use would diminish but not disappear.  The same way that photography diminished the painter.  Instead I took the stance that with digital and the internet would be a vessel that would contain millions upon millions of images.  On the surface this seems like a great idea but in reality it is very dangerous to us professionals out there.  The “how” is simple really.  The internet viewer is bombarded with these images and 99% of which have no regard to quality.  From the duck-face photo of the hot chick on Facebook to the ever so classy “look at my ab’s in the gym mirror” photo.  All of which are taken with cell phone cameras with zero regards to quality.  This list could go on and one but I will spare you this time.

Now, here is where it gets a little more complex.  With each crap photograph piling upon the other crap photographs, the viewer, aka, bride to be, actor needing head shots, family wanting portraits and so on, are lead to believe what they are seeing is what is now considered a “quality” photograph.  The are being brain washed into accepting low quality crap images are the norm and sadly this has become the new standard.  Try as we professionals might, the dumbing down of the average viewer will have a permanent impact on those of us who make a living with out cameras.

The flood of digital images have forced most professional to lower their pricing to try to stave off the influx of so called”wanna-be”, Cragislist photographers.  These  part-time, weekend warriors are the ones that will do a whole wedding for $500.00.  My issue is not the GWC (guy with camera) trying to make a buck.  My issue is with the client.  The bride who has been so condition into believing that what she is seeing on Pintrest and Facebook is the norm.  She has become oblivious to the fact that she should to expect MORE in the way of quality from her photographer rather being forced to settle for low quality crap images.

Most clients have devalued true professional photography.  They are willing to settle for low quality images for the sake of savings.  The real issue is that the clients are right!  They know they can hey a GWC for $500.00 and be ok with just “ok images.  The super majority of photographers are not professionals, they are simply GWC’s and don’t care about quality or customer service.  And this is the core issue.  The clients are being duped into accepting low quality because that is all they have seen.  And to be frank, I do not see this trend changing.  So what can we do?  Nothing really.  We can keep buying the newest $3,500.00 digital cameras and hope for the best!

Glaring Fuji XT1 failures!

FUJI XT1/XE2 YOU ARE A FAILURE FOR THE WORKING PRO!

As I continue to use the Fuji XT1 in the real world of professional event photography, the more I see Fuji’s failures. I am not calling them shortcomings because they are not things I can see Fuji fixing with a firmware update.  Here is a breakdown of where the Fuji XT1 fails:

LOW LIGHT:  No I am not talking about low light sensor performance.  I am talking about low light AF, or the lack thereof.  I have shot 2 weddings since I purchased my XT1 mid March, and I can say without hesitation I miss the optical VF (OVF).  Where the X100s and X Pro-1 excel in this area the XT1 fails.  One example was the wedding I shot on the 30th of March.  During the daylight part of the wedding, where the light was sunset light, the Fuji XT1, XE2 and X100s performed like magic!  It is when I got into the reception room that the failures of the XT1 and XE2 became apparent.

In the dimly lit reception area it was impossible to actually “see” the subject through the EVF of the XT1 or XE2.  Meaning It was so dark (looking through the EVF) that I could not see where to focus.  I couldn’t see anything and evidently the AF on the XT1 was just as blind.  I tried the XE2 and it seemed to fair a tiny bit better.  I ended up having to switch to the X Pro-1 and the OVF to know where to place the AF focus point.  Even the slow AF on the X Pro-1 was blazing fast compared to the XT1 and it’s poor quality EVF.  I cannot begin to explain how disappointed I was in the low light performance of this camera.  This is something the “Fuji Guys” do not tell you.  In decent light this camera’s AF is good to very good but IF YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY SEE WHAT YOU ARE FOCUSING ON then do NOT use this camera in dimly lit rooms.  Epic failure Fuji!

FLASH….AGAIN:  I will continue to beat this dead horse until Fuji fixes this glaring and massive failure in their X system cameras!  The fact that you cannot integrate any sort of off camera TTL flash capability is becoming frustrating to the point where I am actually getting angry.  I am actually getting angry as I type this section.  You can tell because I am pounding the crap out of the keys on my keyboard!

Fuji has the brain-power to address this issue.  I know they can because they did so with the S5 Pro series of cameras.  I am forced to use Pocket Wizards with my Quantum Qflash T5D-R on light stands.  But if you know anything about shooting weddings you know you are constantly on the move and having the ability to put a flash on a bracket and actually have it work would be a Godsend!  Fuji fails again and again and again in this area.

The irony is that the tiny little fill flash that comes with the XT1 works great….AS A FILL FLASH!   Put the Fuji EF-X20 on the XT1 and it fails!  The EF-X20 works great on the X Pro-1 but fails on the XT1, go figure!  The EF-42 works some of the time but every 3rd shot the flash does not fire, and yes it was charged and ready to go.  And to piss me off even more you cannot take the EF-42 off camera nor hook up an external battery to increase recycle times.  I regret selling all my Canon gear to move to Fuji.  There I said it!

CONCLUSION:  Yes, as of this posting I officially regret selling my Canon gear and frankly I do not see true working pros moving over to Fuji.  I know the XT1 was never meant to be a DSLR killer, but come on Fuji you could have at least wounded them!  Take what I write with a grain of salt.  I am coming from the point of view of a full time, working, professional photographer who’s living depends on my ability to capture those rare and fleeting moment at weddings, and to be blunt Fuji is costing me.  My opinion may change but not until Fuji fixes the glaring failures I have listed.  Ok I am off to B&H to order a Nikon D800 with 24-70 and a couple of flashes.  Thanks Fuji!

Welcome to my photography blog!

Floofie-Beauty-SHot1-W

Hello and welcome to the blog site for In Style Photography located in Houston, Texas.

My goal with this blog is to inform the consumer about Houston based professional photography, its trends, pitfalls and successes.  I will touch on a wide array of subject matters from:

  • Wedding Photography
  • Art photography
  • How to choose a professional photographer
  • What to look for in a photographer
  • Integrity in photography
  • Gear and its importance

These are just a few of the topics I will be discussing.  I am always open to suggestions and of course tons of images will be posted!  In addition I am hoping to have guest bloggers offer their experienced based opinions on todays photography.  Make no mistake, this blog is about my passion, photography!  This blog is directly associated with my photography business located on the web at: www.instylephotography.net

Feel free to add comments and most of all I hope you enjoy what you see and read.  Thanks a million!

Scott Evans

In Style Photography