Hot Cocoa

March. It's right around the corner and seriously... It won't be -30ºC in March? This unending arctic vortex-spell-whatever-from-bloody-hell WILL break at some point—Right? Right???

In the meantime there's hot cocoa and marshmallows for the girls;
dreams of a long summer on the beaches of PEI. 


Shot with the X-T1, MCEX-11 Macro Extension Tube and XF 56mm f/1.2.


Valentine's Day, sheltered.


Shot with the X100T


Hands-on: X-T1 and Lightroom Tethered Plugin. Yessss.

Back in those halcyon days of Photokina, I stood on stage and shot two wonderful models with an X-T1, my images freely flowing through the miracle of USB, tethered to a PC laptop with… Beta software; there were hiccups. The hiccups were eventually fixed. I eventually got rid of those cold sweats and had a wonderful time. 

All of it was dependent on a PC-only application that was officially released a few months later. Good stuff. But I’m a Mac guy and I was still chomping at the bits… Until yesterday when Fujfilm announced what many of us had been waiting for with bated breath: Lightroom tethering plugins. Yes plural, as in Mac and PC.

Folks, for the past 45 minutes I’ve been playing with a beta version of that plugin and I’m just giddy. I mean, I’d tried everything: Eye-Fi cards with Ad-Hoc network (shudder), the wonderful but limited (for this) Remote app, Lightroom Mobile (nope)… None of these could to the job properly and I had resigned myself to waiting, fingers crossed. I can tell you this: it may be in beta, but it just works.

The plugin is installed like any other plugin, the easiest way being to open Plug-In Manager, click Add and navigate to the plugin file. Lightroom will install and enable the plugin right away, no restart required.

Boy... A lot of stuff I should disable in here....

Boy... A lot of stuff I should disable in here....

On the camera however, it’s important to make sure the correct USB mode is enabled. By default the X-T1 is set to MTP, which is the protocol required for mounting the camera to a computer desktop and transferring images: this doesnt work for tethering. In the menu settings navigate to USB (third blue menu section) and select PC Shoot AUTO. That’s it.

Get the right protocol.

All that’s needed now is to plug in the USB cable, go to Tethered Capture in LR 5.7’s File menu and click Start Tethering. You’ll get the usual dialog window followed by the floating tethering “widget” from which you can read the camera’s main settings (shutter, aperture, ISO) and trigger the shutter. You can also choose a develop setting to be applied to incoming images automatically, perfect for a custom white balance in the studio. 

Let me tell you: after the pain of witnessing the glacial procession of images trudging through a wifi card… This is frickin’ heaven. Click, boom, done. Just as it should be.

No hands Ma!

When I switched to a brand new, barely out of the womb system, I knew there would be compromises needed and I was prepared for it. I’m the type of guy who uses what’s available and doesn’t really think about what isn’t. Life’s too short. But it’s nice to see patience rewarded, to see the X-System evolving the way many of us had hoped and more.

I wish I could tell you about availability beyond what we already know. I’ve been told the Lightroom plugins WOULD indeed be available standalone (right now both will be bundled with the PC tethering application update due out soon) . No word on price either.

Huge thanks to Fujifilm Canada for providing me with this preview.
Fuji tethering? It’s REAL man… And it’s SPEC-TAC-ULAR.

Have a great weekend

Introducing The Curated Archives

The flip side to writing a blog for any decent amount of time is that, at some point, content gets buried. Sure, there’s a search page and a tag cloud and categories to dig through but in the end —especially for a photo oriented site— all of it tends to lack visual appeal: you’re looking at a bunch of titles or scrolling a long list of posts, chronologically. Time pushes everything down, regardless of value. The other issue is formatting: over the years I switched from Wordpress to Squarespace; then new templates with bigger images, a different signature. It adds up to a disjointed look as you move back into the archived work.

So for a while now I’d been trying to find a solution, a way of unifying past and present. Not to wallow in old stories but just to level the playing field and bring buried content forward, a window into more than simply the newest of the new. Allow things to remain visible. The result is now available and can be found under the Blog heading: I call it The Curated Archives. Think of it as another way of browsing the site.

The main page of The Curated Archives contains two grids giving access to a selection of reviews (going back to the original X100) but also to stories and essays shot with every X-Series camera I’ve used over the years — a maximum of 30 posts per model. Using cameras as the differentiating factor allowed me to keeps things manageable while including material that went all the way back to 2011, which is when the site format really started to take shape (yup, when I got my hands on that X100).

I’m not just linking to existing posts: all images have been re-uploaded at the current resolution, larger and formatted just like they’d been shot yesterday. In some cases I re-processed the work in Lightroom but I did it as an exercise, staying true to the originals.

The selection is pretty extensive but I have, however, omitted two things:
1) Tutorials.
2) The Lutetia series.
Why? Well, in the case of the tutorials I feel they’re showing their age. A lot of these centre around Aperture and while most concepts are transferable to other software, they now seem woefully outdated. I constantly receive emails about this topic and have plans regarding processing articles, but I’m still brainstorming on the shape these will take. As for the Lutetia series: I just think 1EYE, ROAMING does a much better job of it; I spent a lot of time on that material and the original posts now feel like drafts—interesting but not worth revisiting all over again. Of course all of the above content is still available the same way it’s always been; those posts simply don’t appear as part of the selection.

It’s always interesting to go back and look at where we were before. It provides orientation, a sense of the path we’re on. In preparing these archives, I was surprised at times by things I’d forgotten, by certain experiments that could still prove useful in the future. I also couldn’t help but see how our kids have grown up through all of this… The biographical aspect of it is hard to deny.

I’ve set the archives up in a way that will allow me to easily manage content and I must say it feels pretty good:  like I now have an anchor, something to hold it all together instead of pushing stuff away as time passes and life moves on. I’m hoping you’ll see the value in this as well.

I leave you with a few weekend images, all shot with the X-T1 and XF 56mm f/1.2… Gotta let that X100T breathe a little ;)
Later

Going Native with Maru the Circle Brand

LAROQUE-maru3-03.jpg

A new camera means a new strap. It’s the law of the land. And since I posted about both Tap & Dye (glued to my X-T1) and Cecilia (ditto on my X-Pro1), I couldn’t go without mentioning this new addition from fellow Canadians, Ottawa-based Maru the Circle Brand.

I actually first heard of Maru on Twitter: someone mentioned them and after checking out their website, I saved it for future reference. Yes I know… Strap junkie here, no question (and bags… Mmm… Baaags…).

The brainchild of skateboarder/photographer Andrew Szeto, The company bills itself as a project-oriented brand and their site is a very interestingly eclectic mix of various collaborations with creatives from around the world. There’s a great vibe going on there and I was surprised I hadn’t found them while researching leather straps — although given the scope of what they do, it’s probably understandable; camera straps really feel more like an adjunct to many, many other things.

That said, they’re wonderful. 

This is the Custom Latigo model. In terms of approach and spirit, these are in the same vein as Tap & Dye: 3/8 inch wide, fixed-length (42 inches), no-nonsense, handmade leather strap with metal hardware — something I’m looking forward to seeing weather with time. Attaching it to the X100T immediately made the camera feel even more like an old friend, something I could’ve been carrying around for 25 years. I know there are more practical camera straps out there, things that slide in and out or provide all kinds of more efficient ways to wield your camera… But I’ll be using simple leather straps as long as I live. It somehow feels completely right to me, however old-fashioned or un-perfectly-ergonomic it may ultimately be.

Maru straps also offer something I haven’t seen elsewhere: custom engraving. Not as an add-on: STOCK. When you choose your model you’re given the possibility of adding a line of text to engrave on the side of it — your name, a quote or total nonsense if you feel like it. They can also engrave logos or create completely custom products on request. Here’s what I went with:

Words to live by?

I think it’s a nice touch that immediately makes the product that much more personal. The fact that it also came with a 4x6 print (depicting a hockey scene in rural Quebec no less) and a handwritten note, shows just how much care Andrew pours into this. The leather feels great, the hardware is top-notch, great crafstmanship all-around.

So how much? Well, that’s the clincher: $32. With engraving. THIRTY-TWO dollars. And CAD… Which is what? Two, three cents US these days? Sorry, had to. But seriously I just think this is an insane bargain. They’ve now added canvas/leather models and there’s apparently more photography-oriented apparel in the works. 

If you’re in the market for a new leather strap and this fits the bill, I can’t recommend these enough. For more info visit maruthecirclebrand.com
Now back to shooting…