Old Dog Learning New Tricks

Nikon FE2 next to Fuji XT1


As most are aware I recently switched from Nikon to the Fuji collection of cameras and lenses. Over the last year my photography has progressed further than in the last 20 years because of this.

 I'm an old dog.  I've been making images since the mid seventies.  I was lucky enough to have a middle school that had a beautiful darkroom to explore and create in.  In High School I contributed to the newspaper and continued to make images on film until my switch to digital in 2005.  I went with what I knew, which was Nikon.  A trusted brand that I had been shooting with for over 20 years.  I began my journey with a Nikon D70 and graduated to a D7000.  I rented several full frame Nikon cameras as well.  As my abilities grew with digital I contemplated the move to owning a more professional system.  This is when I found Fuji.  I rented the XT1 and loved it.  Still not 100% sure I purchased the X100T to see if I wanted to commit.  Reasoning was that I wouldn't have to invest in lenses and would only have to sell one item if it didn't work out.  Well it worked out.  I love it and I kept it.  I now have added the XT1 and the 35mm f2, 56mm 1.2 and the 18-55mm kit lens.  Next on the list are the 16-55mm 2.8 and the 50-140mm 2.8 zooms.  All this for half the cost of a similar Nikon system.  It also looks like Fuji is about to release, crossing my fingers, the XT2 with a 24mp sensor.  This is all rumor but with the release of the XPro 2 with a 24mp sensor it only makes sense that the update to the XT1 will follow suit.  

When you look at my old Nikon FE2 alongside my new XT1 you have to see the similarities.  Fuji was brilliant to go with this form factor.  There is a huge population that grew up with old film cameras.  The nostalgia factor alone is enough for some to purchase any of the new generation of cameras that have the look and feel of old school film cameras that ruled for decades.  They haven't reached the status of Nikon or Canon but I believe it is just a matter of time.  I believe that digital camera technology is till in its infancy and has nowhere to go but up.  New features and functions are being released at an astounding pace.  Who would have thought, ten years ago, that Wi-Fi would be an expected feature in a new camera.  So camera companies please keep it up.  My abilities grow with each new feature and my mind is challenged by each innovation you make.  



My First modelmayhem.com Shoot

About a year ago I signed up with modelmayhem.com .  I wanted to expand my photography skills and start working with models.  I have been working on building a home studio.  Backdrop, backdrop stand, sofbox for my speedlite and a not so steep learning curve were complete.  I didn't want to subject my friends and family to the time that it would take for me to be comfortable shooting with this setup.  So I put it out there to a few models that I was interested in someone that was patient and that could deal with me fumbling a little.  We as photographers must admit that we do fumble a little when we attempt a new type of photography.  Mistakes will be made and it will take time to perfect your abilities.  

A few weeks later I received a response from a model and the correspondence portion of our potential meeting began.  After a few e-mails we arranged a meeting at a neutral location.  You have to be careful.  This goes for photographers and models.  While modelmayhem does some screening, you must protect yourself.  Bring a friend as well, if it makes you feel more comfortable.  So we met at a local coffee shop, more to get a feel for each other and see if it would be a good fit.  I asked a ton of questions as well as presented what I was interested short term as well as long term possibilities.  The meeting went well.  We then scheduled a time to meet for a shoot.  Like most photographers I do not have a dedicated studio.  My setup is in my garage.  It is neat and clean and with the backdrop setup it actually looks the part.  I shared this up front as I didn't want there to be any surprises.  She asked if she could bring a friend.  I told her that, of course, she could.  I believe that any photographer that says you can't bring a friend is someone you should avoid.  I went the extra step to tell my wife that I would text her if everything was going smoothly.  Safety, safety, safety is the name of the game.  

The shoot went well.  Some of the shots were great.  Some of the shots were not so great.  I also learned the limits of my equipment.  My SB600 Speedlite overheated.  It would still work but needed time to cool down.  I'm thinking of switching to dedicated LED's or may spend some money on professional strobes that have dedicated power.  I have to thank the amazing model Molly Scott for her patience, professionalism and her poise during our first shoot.

Below are my favorite images from that day.  I am looking forward to our next shoot and have to say that I may be hooked on this type of photography.  While it is more labor intensive than my regular shoots, the results are worth it.  

For the Love of Photography

I have been trying to find a theme for my work for some time now.  Nothing jumped out at me.  Matt Granger has "Get Your Gear Out", Jerod Polin has "I Shoot Raw" so what should be mine........and then it hit me.  "For the Love of Photography".  The expression "for the love of god" has been one that I have heard a million times growing up.  Always an expression of exasperation.  Not believing whatever it was the person was witnessing or being so disgusted by it that the expression was necessary.  I love photography.  I don't love gear, I don't love software and I sure as hell don't love spending my time with my camera so that I can get a few likes on the interweb.  I just love the act of creating images.  Sharing them is just a bonus.  Do I want people to love my work?  Sure, who doesn't, but it's not my motivator.  I am at my happiest while wandering, looking for the perfect landscape or the leaf that is just the right color of orange or someone doing something interesting in a place that has meaning to them.  Capturing these moments in time is a pure pleasure.  

I feel that we have gone far afield in the world of photography.  Spending too much time pining away at the newest gear.  Cameras are replaced with newer models before you have time to master the one you just bought.  Technology is improving at an amazing rate but does that mean that you have to have the latest and greatest first?  Is doing this going to help you master the craft of photography?  I believe that answer is a resounding NO!  My old Nikon D70 is a great camera.  6 megapixels, small viewing screen and no movie mode.  I am able to still make amazing images with it.  I am confident that I will be able to hand that camera to my oldest son in a few years and have him learn the basics/fundamentals of photography by using it.  

Do I like new gear?  Yes.  Do I get G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) sometimes? Another YES!  but I have to put on the brakes.  I have to think, do I need a new camera or is a new lens a better choice?  Maybe I should invest in a class or book or visit a museum or photo gallery.  Or maybe I should take a day off from my day job to take photos.  These are all things to think about.  Sometimes you do need new gear.  Your abilities outgrow your equipment and new features are what you NEED, not what you WANT!  I get it.  I just think we should all take some time and enjoy the process.  Learn a new skill with that existing camera.  Take a walk with a photo friend and do it "For The Love Of Photography"