From Stockholm with Love: the Profoto A1 has landed

I’m in a gritty, grainy, black and white kind of mood these days: the X-Pro2 is set to “pushed” Acros—my Moriyama preset—and I don’t give a crap about noise. I’m even aiming for it to be honest.

Last night I attended the Profoto launch event for their new A1 and it felt like a family reunion: Patrick and Vendela whom I’d met in Stockholm; Andres and Jae from Profoto Canada; Guy from Photo Life; and to top it off, Fuji Guys Billy and Francis manning a Fujifilm booth. Yup, Fujifilm and Profoto were collaborating on this event with the GFX 50S front and centre during a shooting session with photographer Miguel Jacob. Using full TTL. Wait what?? The A1 doesn’t do TTL with Fuji you say? Now it does: the Fujifilm version of the Air Remote trigger is a reality. Not out yet (damn it) but December 18 has been set as the official release date.

A few words about the A1: I wrote about it when I came back from Sweden but after seeing how Miguel used it last night, I think it’s worth revisiting. When I first saw the promotional videos from NYC and accompanying print material (ahead of the announcements) I was a bit underwhelmed. The images were indeed spectacular...but most of them had merely integrated the A1 as either fill or as a remote controller—for me, this didn’t gel with the product’s tag line describing it as The World’s Smallest Studio Light. If it’s a studio light then, in my book, it should stand on its own.

Fast forward to yesterday. The shooting session lasted an hour. Miguel Jacob worked with two models—male and female—on a makeshift fashion shoot. Super simple setup, white seamless...yada yada yada. But most importantly: apart from a fun “paparazzi” skit to end the evening, he used nothing but a single A1 during the entire session. I’m adding emphasis because THAT for me is the clincher. He had a GFX 50S shooting JPEGs, tethered to Capture One, the new Air Remote set to TTL and guys...the images streaming to the screen using a bare off-camera A1, with nothing but the included dome diffuser, were nuts. Some of the pictures could’ve been sent to the printer right there and then. I’m not kidding. And to be frank, I now feel a tad lazy that I haven’t used my own unit to its full potential...but then I don’t have a proper trigger do I? ;)

I’m chomping at the bits this morning. I messed with a frankensetup a few weeks ago, placing the A1 on top of an old Cactus trigger to get it working off-camera...but although it worked (in manual mode) it was a flimsy, laughable solution I wouldn’t even attempt in front of a client. So I’ve had my hands tied. The power of this light lies off-camera. Sure, its design makes it a much better solution when used on-camera, something I’m certain event photographers will use to their advantage but...I just don’t shoot that way. Seeing Miguel’s results last night, watching TTL nailing it frame after bloody frame, using the A1 bare or in an umbrella...let’s just say that remote can’t come soon enough and is likely to change quite a few things about my kit going forward.

In the meantime: back to that graininess ;)
Have a great weekend


Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


New Morning

A change of speed, a change of style
A change of scene, with no regrets
A chance to watch, admire the distance
Still occupied, though you forget
— Joy Division

Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


Forward | No Sadness.

I’ve cried wolf before, I know. Except this time it’s really over: I’ve left Lightroom for Capture One.

To be fair I went through the same on again/off again period before switching from Aperture to Lightroom, so it’s pretty much par for the course. The truth is, these moves are incredibly hard in terms of logistics, the amount of time involved etc. You need a strategy that makes sense, you need to figure out the best workflow for the new setup, get a handle on the software...it’s just a huge undertaking.

I already had a foot in the door thanks to the master catalog solution I wrote about last year, so all I needed was a final nudge...and Adobe obliged with Lightroom CC Classic.

Are you f#&@ kidding me???

I’m ok with subscriptions. I don’t love them and it does force me to take a long hard look at any piece of software that chooses this route...but I’m not opposed to the basic principle of it. When Ulysses announced their switch to a subscription model, I experienced about four seconds of doubt before hitting purchase—even though I was given a loyalty grace period. That’s because Ulysses is an app that 1) delights me on a daily basis and 2) makes my work so much easier that it unquestionably pays for itself. And as far as I’m concerned they’ve already fulfilled their promise of ongoing development with a couple of absolutely stellar updates in a short amount of time. Seriously, the last update for iOS 11 is a game changer for me. When Adobe introduced CC they also touted how the change would allow this non-stop flurry of continuous improvements. We would win. So much winning. I bought into it, eventually.
What a load of BS.

Instead of innovation that matters, we got zilch, missteps and bugs. Now, adding insult to injury, we have Lightroom CC. No, not that Lightroom CC, a brand NEW one. Ooohhh...it has machine learning...but no curves. Who needs curves right? Photographers? Pfff. And then we have Lightroom CC Mobile...which a) used to just be known as Lightroom Mobile, b) is the exact same app as before and c) has none of the machine learning stuff. Adobe just likes labeling anything CC. Lightroom CC is now of course Lightroom CC Classic—because that makes total sense and because classic is such a historically great moniker for ANY product: right off the bat it inspires confidence and positively screams FUTURE!

Seriously, what crazy intern was promoted to head of marketing on this one?

And to top it all off, Lightroom CC (the new one, not the old one) sends all our files to Adobe servers. Not a culled selection mind you but all of ‘em, no opting out. Storage space you say? Bah...don’t you worry your purty little head now darlin’. We’ll make you a deal. Don’t sweat it....it’s all goooood.

Right. I know this is all old news by now—but for me it was the final straw. I was in a blur of magazine editing, finalizing a conference on the side but I looked up from the fog that morning and thought: nope. I never liked Adobe and now I absolutely do not trust them one. single. bit. The fact that Lightroom Classic actually IS way faster...well, that’s almost an insult in my book. Because they could’ve done it before but didn’t. Because they’d much rather figure out a way to eek out more money from users. Because who the hell calls a supposedly active product Classic??? Call it Desktop for god’s sake. Ceding the official app name to a glorified version of Photos is telling. I don’t care how they spin it.

Whatever.

The technology landscape is thriving. We’re seeing small companies blowing away what huge behemoths barely manage to accomplish—Affinity Photo on iOS (I haven’t tried the Mac version) puts Adobe to shame. I’m waiting with bated breath for the upcoming Pixelmator Pro—its UI alone makes Photoshop look like a Model T (and if features work as advertised...wow). All These new companies are leveraging built-in APIs Adobe doesn’t even appear to be aware of—and it shows. Luminar 2018...OnOne Photo Raw...the barbarians are at the gates and it’s exciting.

What now?

I’ve exported all my edited images and moved all work to C1. I was already comfortable with the app but I watched a bunch of webinars, learned some new tricks, took some notes and revisited my entire environment to fine-tune any outstanding issues. I’ll be purchasing Pixelmator Pro when it’s released on November 29 to replace Photoshop (I’ve done it before and actually miss it); if I’m not satisfied Affinity is another option. Because that’s the takeaway: we have options.

Will these moves simplify my workflow? Not really. It’s actually making everything slightly more complex—GFX files alone require a measure of voodoo magic for C1. The truth is I could keep on using Lightroom without a hitch...I just don’t want to anymore. Simple as that.

Five years ago I wrote an official “I’m leaving Aperture for Lightroom” post entitled Forward | Sadness. Excitement. Moving On. Today I do it again.
Minus the sadness.

Reacquaintance. Systems.

I need to kickstart the engine. The past months have been rewarding, tiring, hard and fantastic all at once. But I’ve missed writing and taking pictures just for the sake of...writing and taking pictures. I’ve missed hanging out here, essentially. Hell...it’s turned into a bit of a ghost town hasn’t it?

So with things settling down a bit—fingers crossed—I’d like to open the windows and let the air in again. Get back to thinking out loud without a looming deadline, to looking at the world with somewhat refreshed eyes. I started doing this in Quebec City two weeks ago, a story that’s in this month’s KAGE issue. I’m pushing myself to pick up the camera the way I used to, without aim or preconception...

This morning I took Cynthia’s car to the garage—yup, time for those damn snow tires again. I left it there and walked home, past the tracks & dried reeds. I set the camera to my Soft Chrome setting—something I rarely use. But I wanted it different, I wanted it new...I wanted it unsettling
thru mild shockwaves
that would stir the system.


Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR


The World Moving

...in spite of us.


Shot with the X100F