The sadness...loss of a camera lens

I'm very saddened by the damage taken to my lens over 4th of July holiday.  I speak to it in the vlog posted below, but the damage is seen in the pics following.  Hopefully Olympus can repair it as good as new, but no news yet.  

RIP lens

RIP lens

Ouch

Ouch

Review: Westcott 24" beauty dish for Elinchrom

I'm excited to test out this product. I don't see many reviews online but the ones I do seem very positive.  I have a beauty dish for studio from Elinchrom but it's an absolute pain to set up.  I'm hoping to acheive nice results with an easy to set up product in the field.

I love this product because it has a built in speedring and it unfolds in seconds like an umbrella.  Seems sturdy enough for shooting outdoors consistently, or using in studio in a pinch.  

Enjoy the video.

I'm converted

No, not like that.  Didn't join a cult, or new religion.  Converted my camera system from Sony full frame to micro 4/3.  I went in one day to Precision Camera to pick up some film and ended up speaking with the Olympus rep.  Super nice guy, checked out the prints he had at the store, and I was intrigued.  Then he started to show me the kit.  I was curious to the EM-5 as I had seen it hanging around the neck of some photographers I follow.  See Sean Archer, Juan Gonzalez, Jamie MacDonald

My curiousity led me to rent it from Borrowlenses.com.  They have a great selection and super speedy service so I grabbed the EM-5 and the 12-40 2.8 PRO M. Zuiko lens.   Immediately I could feel a weight difference between the Sony a7r II and the Oly.  

How does it feel?

Olympus equipment feels great.  Solid metal design, textured barrel, zoom, and focus rings.  Sealed bodies and lenses (PRO lenses) give me a comfort factor when travelling.  Virtually none of my Sony gear was weather sealed.  

Yes, but how does it feel?

Oh...weight.  Body weighs in at 410 grams, compared to 625 grams.  The 12-40 lens is really a 24-80 35mm equivalent, and comes in at 382 grams.  (Micro 4/3 has a 2x crop factor, unlike APS-C which is 1.5x).  Total net weight of 792 grams for camera and lens.  Sony 24-70 equivalent at 2.8 is a hefty 886 grams bringing the Sony 1 body and 1 lens to over 1500 grams.  1.5 kg for just one part of the kit.  I'd also be carrying the 70-200 (1480 grams) and the 16-35 F/4 (839 grams).  That's quite a kit and only 1 body/3 lenses.

My Olympus setup is as follows: 

  • 12-40 2.8 Pro (24-80mm equiv)
  • 45 1.8 (90mm equiv)
  • 75 1.8 (150mm equiv)
  • 40-150 (80-300mm equiv)
  • EM-5 Body

Total weight at:  2.03 Kg

I have a kit from 24-300mm, 2.8 aperture or less, and 1 body for the same as I would the 70-200 and a7r II.  That makes a huge difference.  

How much you got?

Next factor is price.  I sold the a7r II for a good price and was able to get 75% of the kit above at new retail price in turn.  The Sony selection is not only getting larger, but more cost prohibitive.  The 24-70 lens alone is more than the EM-5 and 12-40 put together.  Selling off 3 other lenses will net me enough to get the 40-150 and be fully recovered on the switch.  My range has extended from 35,55,14,85 to now having full coverage from 24-300 mm.  All with fast, pro glass.  

You're going to miss it

That's what I told myself.  "Don't do it, you already invested, it's great glass and superb mirrorless system."  I mulled this decision for the week I had the rental.  I looked at everything I could.  Here is what I will be giving up.

  • full size sensor (35mm)
  • small loss of depth of field (of which yet I can't find a noticeable difference)
  • Ergonomics - the EM-5 is smaller but I shoot with the Sony A6000, so i'm used to a smaller grip.  That is what my rapid strap is for :)
  • Internal 4K - didn't use this much at all, but it was beautiful
  • 42mp sensor - the files were big and lots of detail, but i haven't had any issues with the 16mp files from Olympus.  Plenty of detail still, little more noise if you pixel peep, but that is expected.  

Ok, so what do the shots look like?

Here are some shots I've taken thus far.  I've really enjoyed the flexibility of the kit.  

 

 

 

Does it shoot video?

You bet.  Here's a ttimelapse I shot the other morning.  I've also shot a couple of ad-hoc videos of the kids.  

Timelapse of morning sunrise

 

Verdict

Lightweight, compact, stunning photo and video.  I'm converted.  It is a rough feeling going thru a system change.  I changed to mirrorless the year before, moved over from Nikon.  I didn't get much gear when I moved to Sony.  Beautiful system but the move was mainly for me to get my gear moving.  Needed to be light, capable, and versatile.  I think I've found my system.  (watch me post a year later I'm with Fuji.....lmao)

Stay Focused

Lightroom CC 2015.8 Update - Reference Files

Hi Gang,

Coming to you with a new update from LR that is hot off the presses.   The update is not on the site yet but I assume it will show you soon what we learned in the CC console update.  Along with PS 2017 we have the update for LR that adds the following:

Lightroom CC version 2015.8: Performance Improvements

The Lightroom CC 2015.8 comes with some changes that will improve the responsiveness of the Lightroom experience. As soon as you install the new version of the application, you will notice some improvements in image editing responsiveness when you move files between folders, run catalog backups or do any other background tasks.

Lightroom CC version 2015.8: Fit/Fill Improvements

When using ultra high-resolution monitors, you will be able to take advantage of the zoom to fit and zoom to fill options. We remind you that these features had some issues in the past, as they would not completely fill the Loupe window.

Lightroom CC version 2015.8: New Features

You can now create or filter a Smart Collection for images that have Snapshots associated with them or export a Collection Set as a new catalog.

With this update, we also received a new feature called Reference view.  You can now take a photo and keep it on screen, while making changes to a copy of the photo.  Notice I said copy, you must create a virtual copy of the file first, in order to use it as a reference.  I created a short video on just how to do so.  Enjoy the new content. 

 

Sometimes kids teach you things

The other day we took our kids out to try a neighborhood soccer meetup.  We thought it would be a good intro for them and we could meet some folks as well.  When we got there we split them up into age groups and Hunter had to fit in with 4-5, which is ok because he just turned 4 yesterday.  

We first got set up and the kids ran some drills.  Hunter did great, he could dribble the ball and score the goal each time like he was supposed to.  I suppose the dad running this had other plans or got bored, because he just started a game.  My kid has literally kicked a soccer ball for fun all his life, and now he has a "competitive game".  So they divide up 3v3, explain a few guidelines, and then let them go at it.  Soon after I have a crying kid on the sideline.  I'm wondering..."did he get hurt?".  

Nope..."Daddy, I didn't win the game".  This coming soon after the ball had been scored by another teammate.  He was upset because he wasn't fast enough to get the ball and score, even if his team was winning.  So life lesson #1 of the day coming out, it's a team game, you are all trying to score the goal, as long as you do that, you are winning.  

I come from a home where the participation trophy was garbage.  Actually didn't like to accept them, but had to be nice.  I love Hunter's spirit to win, but I learned that there are different ideas of winning to each person.  He may not be a team sports person.  I disliked team sports because I liked winning on my own skill and perseverance.   He may be the same way.  Relying on other people for help and collaboration was never my strong suit.  In the professional world I've had to learn this and deal with it.  For him, I could try and show him early on how to handle this.  

I'm upset that he didn't enjoy the game part, but happy he likes soccer and sports in general.  It's good exercise and fun for the kids.  

Now on to the fun stuff, it's Halloween soon.  The kids are going as Paw Patrol and today they got to dress up for school to go trick-or-treat.  So, Dad had to get the Sony out and snap a few in front of the house.  I got a few candids and cheeky shots.  I love 'em so much, they are going to love the real trick-or-treating again in our neighborhood.  

 

Been busy

The real job has been busy since last year.  Being in security, the world is now investing more in keeping their info and people safe.  That's where I come in.  I work in the security division for software and it's my job to help deploy technology to end users.  I enjoy that job, but my passion is still making great images.  

We just had our 3rd son, Finley.  Our new bundle of joy has come in at a hefty 9 lbs 8 oz and was born on Sept 27.  We are catching up on sleep now but the first 2 weeks I took off work and stayed home with the kids and wife.  It's important to take the time off with family and I'm glad my work is ok with this.  Everyone is happy and healthy and so I'm back to the grind full time.

I'm hoping to start the personal grind again soon.  I've taken some time off to explore other hobbies and clear my head.  I've had a lapse in creativity, drive, passion, etc.  It doesn't feel like burnout, just a lack of desire. I know that can't be true, I still have the passion, but I think the drive was gone.  Helping out with 2 small kids and a pregnant wife takes priority. 

I feel like the family is complete.  All boys are healthy and happy.  It's time to start getting back into it.  I picked up the A7r2 to shoot some shots of our baby.  They came out well.  We had a variety of poses and props to choose from.  The image below is exceptional for a couple reasons.  For one, my wife learned how to crochet and she made this hat for Fin.  Second, the image is just too cute.  We got a sweet, sleepy pose and he curled up all warm in his blanket.  

I should be back on more updating the blog.  For now please enjoy this image.  

grey hat.jpg

Capture One Pro for Sony

I recently picked up the Sony version of Capture One 9.  I have been frustrated with Lightroom and it's lack of tether support for Sony cameras.  I've had a Sony camera for over a year now and as I shoot studio the workflow in Lightroom was a joke.

Process for Lightroom CC:  Download a camera control app from Sony -> Launch app -> pick a folder to capture images to -> navigate to that folder in LR as a watched folder -> Plug in camera -> start a session from the Sony app -> snap image -> images show up in a collection in LR

Process for Capture One: Open C1 -> Start a session -> Name session -> fire up link for ipad for others to watch session -> plug in camera -> snap image -> image appears in app

Now that I have employed this, I wanted to use it for editing as well.  While the import is very robust and easy to use once you are accustomed, I have enjoyed LR over this process.  What drew me in was when I watched pros using it with the Phase One camera system and they would edit color, crop, sharpening, and export image.  I fell in love with the control they possessed and so I gave it a whirl.  

So far I'm impressed with the raw import as well as the corrections you can make.  What I'm lacking is a before/after hot key swap that I had in LR, but you can quickly create a variant of the image with a hotkey and hit Enter to do a quick compare side by side.  This is very handy as you make edits.  

Here is an edit that I started in C1, processed the telephone wire removal in PSCC, then saved back in C1.

removal of telephone pole/wire

variant left vs original right

I'll continue to evaluate it for large jobs and processing.  So far you can copy paste settings to other images just like LR so batch processing is a breeze.  The export function is nice with options for tiff/jpeg and sizing as presets.  That part just feels right out of the box.

Looking forward to posting more in the future.  Work has been crazy as well as a trip to Australia I took in May which set me back some time but I got tons of great images to post from there.  

- Stay Focused -

Vello autofocus adapter for Nikon to E mount coming soon

Here is a link to the B&H article with more detail.  The Vello autofocus adapter for Nikon to Sony E mount is coming soon! Looks like it's dropping in May 2016.  

 

After long wait, and selling almost all my Nikon lenses, we'll have an adapter soon that provides auto focus!  I'm sort of excited, a little upset, but mostly excited.  I sold all lenses but my Tamron 70-200 2.8 which I love.  I still use it manually at times, but a couple lenses I would have kept if they could have auto focus.  

This new adapter has a promise of bringing to life many lenses for folks that have made the swap to Sony E mount but have not yet sold off the old Nikon gear.  

Selling for $399, I'll be looking at some reviews from the testers on whether specifically the a7r2 can handle the autofocus with speed like the Metabones adapters do for Canon lenses.  

Look for more updates as I see testing come in.  

Just one big fur family

Had another dog shoot recently.  This time it was 3!  I was approached by a client and was asked if we could shoot all 3 at the same time.  I was a little hesitant at first because 3 can get out of hand.  But we gave it a shot.

We shot this session at Mansfield Dam park on Lake Travis.  It's a beautiful little alcove with some nice rock outcroppings and a small slue.  I checked out the spot and decided to use the outcroppings first and get some single portraits.   

Moose is the German Shepard.  He was so chill and a great poser.  Zora, next, was a mix and the client wasn't sure what she was.  All we knew was she had a great temperament and a sweetie pie.  Her smile really glowed and her white fur was so soft and fluffy.   Buddy was last, he did great as well but was a little camera shy.  Usually I'll move around the dog to get to their angle in lieu of making the dog turn toward me.  If I can make the angle work, I'll use it.  

Before we moved to a new location, we took a full family portrait.  This was well worth the risk.  2 humans and 3 dogs all looking one way, it was a great shot.  

It was a fun shoot and I can't wait for more of these.  I'm really enjoying photographing dogs and their owners.  

Multiple Instagram Accounts

One of the missing things from Instagram was multiple accounts in the app.  As you may know, adding photos from the web is not allowed, but you could sign into a different account.  On the phone, you could sign into a different account, but you could not swap them on the fly such as Twitter or Facebook.  The wait is finally over, IG users with multiple accounts, rejoice!

If you are a photographer and you're not on Instagram, you may want to try it.  Lots of engagement from folks all over the world, and the feed is your entire feed, not curated by some algorithm.  

The search function is great too.  If you want to search hash tags, accounts, or people then you just type it in and hit search.  However, you also have a trending bar up top that lets you see trending tags or topics.  

I can find images that are liked by people I follow as well so if you follow like minded people or businesses, this can act as an alternate feed for you.  I enjoy finding new work and it seems others can find me as well by using helpful tags.  

If you don't have IG, go ahead and take a look at it.  It's  a great resource and a place to discover or be discovered.  It's been my #1 app for a while and I've seen little changes to it that would make me move anywhere else. 

Source: Mashable Link

Well that's a bummer

Copy and CudaDrive Services will be Discontinued

 

We are announcing today that the Copy and CudaDrive services will be discontinued on May 1, 2016.

Copy and CudaDrive have provided easy-to-use cloud file services and sharing functionality to millions of users the past 4+ years. However, as our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere. For more information on this decision, please view the blog post from Rod Mathews, our GM of Storage


Anyone that does photography or file level type of work such as design or publishing most likely also uses a cloud platform to copy information to the cloud and have it synced to mobile devices while on the go.  While putting all your information in the cloud is helpful, having a reliable cloud service is just as important.

I've been fiddling with Copy, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box.  For ease of use, they are all very similar.  The pros and cons come with the storage available and the plans they offer.  I recently took the plunge with Google Drive for $2 per month and 100GB.  That rate was very affordable and lets me back up my most import shots, client files, and business documents all in one place. 

OD.JPG

I had a funny feeling last year when Copy re-branded with CudaDrive and started replacing the desktop client with this new app.  In theory, it sounded good.  You would see a file, but it wasn't taking space on your hard drive, it would download instantly as you double-clicked on it.  This was good, but what if you were not on the web? So I kept my files in Google Drive and OneDrive testing both clients to see which I would stick with.  Microsoft has a strong offer and with $10 per month for Office 365 and 1 TB of storage, this is a great deal for most users. 

Today, reading this blog I'm not surprised it's being shut down, but also not happy as the service and storage was great.  I had gotten 15GB for signing up, plus another 20 for signing up 4 other users.  Some people were getting terabytes of data for nothing per month.  I think this may have been part of the downfall of the service.  Storage is cheaper..but not free yet.  

I'll continue to have documents and files backed up on a couple of different services, just for this purpose.  Remember as you select your cloud service, weigh the amount of $/GB you get as well as uptime, accessibility, as well as reliability of the company producing the storage solution.  Cloud storage is extremely important in your backup solution, make sure files are secure, offsite and onsite, and accessible at your disposal.  

Link to the full press release 

Dogs and Film and updates!

Let's start with Dogs.  I'm starting to open the doors to dog shoots this year.  They will be $250 at a location of choice or in studio.  I'll give roughly 5 images fully retouched via digital delivery and the session will generally last one hour at sunset if outdoors.  I'm doing this because it's special to remember your pets and having a killer shot to hang on your wall is always nice to have.  We have some wonderful ones on our wall and I'm so proud to have them because we just lost our first pet this year and I'd kick myself if I hadn't taken the time to get an intimate portrait done of Isabella.  

Beside my volunteer work with Austin Dog Rescue, these will be paid portraits for clients that I'll showcase here .   I'm excited to offer this in 2016 and hope that it grows in popularity as the weather gets nicer.  

 

Here above is Gus, my first endeavor this year.  He's a 3 year old Border Collie and an amazing subject.  He was very patient as I shot film on the Mamiya and digital on the Sony a7rii.  I was extremely happy with the results on both cameras.  The film was processed at Miller's Lab and they sent it back in 2 days.  Love working with them!  Color rendition was fantastic and I did virtually no editing besides cropping.  I got my scans back on CD for the price with negatives all bundled up nicely.  

Updates are...I'm open for business.  2016 is in hopes of being an even more successful year than 2015.  I had an amazing year in 2015, accomplished a lot, made some relationships, produced amazing images, tripled my Instagram viewers and added many to the blog and Twitter.  2016 will be the focus on the brand, and narrowing a focus area so I can manage my workflow.  

Looking forward to making new friends and images this year.  Hope your 2016 is spectacular.

- Stay Focused - 

Not a winner but...

It did well!  The image below was selected by the judges as a favorite.  It gets me a little exposure when I send it out to the community, but it's not a reward winner specifically.

Either way I'm super proud that it's my son, and my picture in there.  

Image is hosted here.  

Have a great Thursday everyone!

A time to heal

These past few weeks have been very tough.  I've taken a necessary hiatus but it's time to get back to work.  My mother was in the hospital beginning in September and on through October.  She's had COPD for quite some time and the complications led her to need a necessary surgery.

COPD didn't slow her down much however.  Over the past 9 years she had the condition but managed it well.  It wasn't until this past year that she suffered some slow down, but not completely debilitating.  The doctors recommended her carry oxygen to keep a saturated level in her lungs.  She was still shopping, attending our kids events, and spending time with family and friends.  

This all turned in August when she suffered a collapsed lung.  She spent 3 days in the hospital was outfitted with a drain to help her heal.  She never completely mended.  Doctors recommended surgery to help her heal and she made it through well.  We had the best of hopes, she'd rest in the hospital for a week or so and come home to finish up.  

Sadly, it was the end.  On October 15 we lost her.  It's been extremely tough since her passing.  This past weekend we had a wonderful memorial for her.  So many friends and family came by to pay respects, share old stories, and provide comfort.

I'm truly blessed to have had such a wonderful mother.  She was our caregiver, friend, and biggest fan.  Everyone that was a part of her life remembers how amazing she was.  I'm constantly reminded of how special she was, and I'll have that to cherish forever.  

We miss you Mom.  I know you'll be looking down on our family and watching over.

In honor of my mother.  Linda Jane Ash - June 06, 1952 - October 2015, 2015

Looking for new things to photograph

Morning everyone.  My posts are a little scattered lately.  We have a lot going on here personally and it distracts away from my time on the computer, the blog, and sadly, the camera.  I picked up the camera last week for *gasp*, the first time in 2 weeks.  I had no interest in anything really.  Most of the time when I'm bored or need something to shoot I'll just bum around the house and find something like a macro shot, or just test settings on the camera to see what happens.

I couldn't even do that.  I tried to just keep my mind on other things.  Keep on working, playing some xbox, Destiny mainly.  (I'm Dragonfire7 if you need a buddy for raids).  Anyways, it was depressing.  I found out that I truly miss the passion of making images.  It's what puts my mind at ease, relaxes me, and keeps me sane.  Photography is not just one of those hobbies I pick up and can put down at will.  It's come to my attention that I must make images.  It's therapeutic.  

In the long run this should net out as ?  I spend all my money on gear, the gear lets me shoot, and I am happy.  No need for a shrink :).  

My therapy session last week was just around the corner.  We have a great little mini lake in the neighborhood and there's some wildlife all around.  The pond has a trail, it's full of reeds and plant life, a true ecosystem in it's own.   I shot manual during this session.  It sounds silly that I turned in all full auto Nikon gear only to shoot manual on my Sony a7rII but I love it.  The minolta Rokkor lenses are so much fun to shoot with.  Sony has a focus peaking feature which allows you to see an outline of subjects that are in focus through the viewfinder or the back display in live view.  I do have some auto glass that I use for paid gigs with fast moving targets, but for personal work it's fun to take out the manual lenses.  

Here are some shots that I got from that day.  The images are all shot as shallow as the lenses would allow.  the highest f stop I used was 2.8.  Depending on how far from the background your subject is, you can get some really cool bokeh.  

Hope you enjoy the gallery.  I posted a couple on Instagram as well so you may have seen 1 or 2.  Follow me there for updated work.  Take it easy, have a great weekend.  


Breaking up with Mylio

It's been a good ride but I fear that the Mylio train is dropping me off right here.  I haven't opened the app on any device, including my computer, in over 2 months.  There is nothing wrong with it technically, but functionally it overlaps with what Lightroom Mobile does for me.  

Let me talk about a few points that are driving me away from it.  

Compatibility

It's compatible with every device I own.  No problems there, but what gets me is when I put an image from Lightroom in there, or edit in Mylio and try and pull the metadata, it never works.  Refreshing the meta in LR does not bring in the data either.  This is not good for me in managing my catalog

Backup

It does a great job of backing up photos.  If I import a folder from LR or my computer it's instantly propagated to any of my devices for me to look at later.  But, I have something else that does that too, Flickr.  I can keep a terabyte on Flickr, and it lets me set a watch folder. 

Flickr pop up hub on my PC

Flickr pop up hub on my PC

The watched folder is basically any photos that I want in the  cloud and Flickr will look for new versions or remove photos that I have deleted.  I can have them in nested albums but what I found is that I just need to use this service as a backup for images.  I don't need to be super organized, as long as I can find an image in there for a shoot, then I'm good with it.  I keep the folders nested on my hard drives that I backup to.  

Portability

My images are with me everywhere when I have them with Mylio.  Well, the images that I work on in LR Mobile are there too.  From LR, I can send images to Instagram to post, and then replicate them to my other social media accounts with tags, all in one post.  With Mylio I have to download the image from the folder after it replicates, then go to the Instagram app and import.  It's a small niggle, but a time suck on my end.  

LR images are in collections, so when I import images, I work on the RAW images and make my selects on the PC, ipad, iphone, etc, and then move them to the collection and keep the RAW files in a separate folder.  Raw files are important to keep, and so on my PC when I import them, I always make a backup copy to a second HD just in case I lose my primary.

Mylio does this as well, but I don't edit in Mylio, so this is adding a second step to my workflow.  Not productive for me.  

Cost

I already pay $10 per month for LR and PS CC and I get the updates each time they patch the program.  This is a no-brainer payment plan so I always get updates to both applications.  I always have my photos that I want with me on my devices.  I can edit the raw photos on either device and they sync back in forth in real time.  (Edits from an i-device are jpegs as RAW files are not supported on apple devices...yet).  

What will I miss?

Folder Structure
I will miss a couple things.  The folder structure when looking through files on Mylio is great.  It's just like if you had it on the desktop.  You can nest folders and go through them without having to clutter the app with so many folders.  
Layout
The view and layout of the app is great.  It's got albums and folders, of which I never understood the difference so I only used albums.  I did enjoy using the app on devices, and that's a big plus.
Tagging

Tagging people was one thing that I did often.  You can look them up by using the people tab in Mylio and this was great.  But...it had some hangups.  You could really only do this efficiently on the desktop.  Searching a name using the text box filtered results down, but did not allow selection with the keyboard.  What this meant was you left the keyboard when tagging to click on the name that was in the photo.  You could copy and paste names from a photo to another photo, or group of photos, but again, only on desktop.  Tags did not import into Lightroom either, so basically I was stuck using Mylio just to look at folders of a certain person if I needed to quickly reference someone.  I mitigate this by just making a collection folder in my Flickr watch folder and I can see all pictures of my kids, family, wife, etc.  

The end of an era

It's been a good run with Mylio.  At first when it came out, I didn't get it.  It was featured as saying that you could replicate all your photos to all your devices any time, any where.  I thought at first, well, so does iphoto/icloud, flickr, dropbox, basically any cloud sharing.  But where I found it was feature rich was the fact that once I put an image on any device, it moved it into my main catalog and replicated to all my devices in the same organized fashion.  So I bought in.  As time goes on, I found myself just not using it as much.  I go to my camera roll or Flickr to look at people or photos.  I import my images from LR Mobile to put on instagram, or I import images from my camera to LR mobile to do edits, or image selections when i'm on the go.  I think I have all my needs met at this time.  So i'll be putting $8/month back in the old wallet for something else. 

No hard feelings, it's not you, it's me.  :)

- Stay Focused -