x100: Can you see a theme?

Regular readers will see that the last few days, I have been shooting with, and talking about, the Fujicolor x100 camera that I carry:

Fuji X100 (Photo: Michael Willems)

The theme has been: given the right light (e.g. flash!) and the right techniques, you can take professional pictures with it that are as good as those taken with an SLR. This is almost straight out of camera (a crop and a few dust spots removed):

Now while I am not recommending product shoots with the x100, this goes to show it can be as good as an SLR.

But now let’s take it a step farther. It can be better.

Yes, better. And here’s how:

I just took that picture at 200 ISO, f/8, 1/1000 sec. That makes for that nice, dark sky.

Wait. Did he just say 1/1000 sec, one thousandth of a second? That is impossible since the flash sync speed of 1/250 second limits the shutter speed you can set the camera to when using a flash. Right??

Wrong. The x100 has a leaf shutter. And it allows flash up to 1/1000 second. And as said, that is why that sky is so wonderfully dark. It is in fact noon and it looks bright to my eyes. But 1/1000 sec makes it dark. Two stops darker than my other cameras could have done!

But he could have done that with aperture, with a higher f-number. Or with an ND filter.

Nope. If I had, I would have run out of flash power. The flash needs to get through that filter, or through  that small aperture, and it is not bright enough at higher apertures, especially when a modifier is being used.

So the x100 may be small, but it can do things my $8,000 1Dx cannot do. Just saying!


Dot by dot

Have you ever looked in front of a projector as it is projector? What do you see?

What you see is little white dots of dust floating through the air. Lots of them. Dust everywhere. Normally invisible, but visible under bright light.

And that is exactly what happens under bright light when you take close-up shots with a flash.

And as I pointed out yesterday, this needs a lot of work to remove. View this at full resolution (click through until you see it at maximum size) to see all the dust spots:

And this turns into this after a lot of manual work:

And I mean a lot of manual work. Here’s the healing brush tool and what I did with it to produce the image above:

The moral of this post: As I said yesterday, it is well worth cleaning objects before you shoot them: otherwise you have a lot of work, and work like the healing brush work above will cause Lightroom to run out of memory and other resources.


Want to learn all the cool tricks of Adobe Lightroom? Or the use of flash, so you can use a little camera (or your big DSLR) to take shots like the above? Contact me (michael@michaelwillems.ca) and I will help you. In person, at your location or mine; or through Google Hangouts, wherever you are in the world. Worth every moment of your time, I promise. Photography is an amazingly fun and rewarding endeavour, whether as a hobby or professionally.



Yes, you can.

I teach Lightroom, among other favourite things I teach. And that means I see many students’ computers.

And often, I see less than I expect. Often, options, important options, are missing.

Like the toolbar.

What toolbar?

No toolbar there.

I mean the toolbar that appears when you turn it on by pressing the letter “T” (it toggles, so if it is already there, it will be removed), or by using the menu function VIEW–TOOLBAR. This toolbar, in other words:

See it there, between the grid and the negative strip?

Now, within that toolbar, see the last option, that pulldown arrow? Click on it and you see a bunch of options. You may want to turn those on:

Now your toolbar will have all the tools. Check them out, then disable the  ones you are sure you will not use.

Another option that is often missing is also a very handy one: the filter bar. At the top. You toggle that one by first being in the LIBRARY module (press “G” to go directly to the Grid view, for instance), and then pressing “\” (the backslash key).

(NOTE: In the DEVELOP module, the backslash key \ has a different, but also very useful function: it shows you the “before” view of a picture. In other words, the picture as it was when you imported it, or when you made the virtual copy. The image at the start of its edit history, in other words).

There are many, many other cool little tools in Lightroom. You do not need to use all of them, but I recommend that you use the ones you like; the ones that are good for your way of working. And there is one simple way to learn them: just check out all the menus and try every function. Learn them. Yes, you can!


End notes:

First, I teach Lightroom, and I will help you set up your Lightroom installation: file structure, import methods, backups, disks, and more. Worth every moment of the session I assure you.

Second, Lightroom only takes a few days to learn and is 100% worth your time and effort. Learn it. And as a supplement to my teaching and consulting, also watch my tips videos: see www.youtube.com/user/cameratraining/videos.

Third: just saying: if the subjects interest you, then my e-books (see http://learning.photography) are worth your money also. As is my teaching (see the same site).


How much is too much?

I get asked “you say use higher ISO when bouncing, if the ceiling is high. So what is too high an ISO value”?

There is no answer for that. It depends o you and your camera. My 1Dx is good, and it shows this:

12800 ISO, no noise reduction:

51200 ISO, no noise reduction:

51200 ISO, Lightroom noise reduction:

51200 ISO, Lightroom noise reduction, detail actual size (once you enlarge to real size:

So this shows that with this camera, even at 51,200 ISO, all is well and you can use this for large 13×19″ prints that look great until you are right on top of them. Even then, they look better than my pictures looked in the 1980s.

So… no worries. Be happy. I shoot up to 1600 ISO without even thinking about it. Learn what you will accept from your camera, and then live a happy life unworried by high ISO concerns.


Workflow Tip

Here’s part of my Lightroom workflow:

  1. Import. Rename during import to YYYMMDD–<old filename> (e.g. file MVWX1234.CR2 gets renamed to “20150129–MVWX1234.CR2″).
  2. Rate pictures 1-5 stars, where 1=technically bad, 2=technically OK but not inspiring, 3=good to be shown to client; 4=one of the best in shoot; 5=portfolio photo.
  3. Set filter to “3 and above only”.
  4. Out of these, now decide which ones to actually use by flagging (“P, or “pick”).
  5. Set filter to “flagged only”.
  6. Edit them. Mark green (8) when done.
  7. Set filter to greens only.
  8. Export as required.

As you see, I create a funnel. As in “1000 images gets made into 850 “3+” images, and eventually to 600 picks”. It’s all about efficiency.