Thoughts on Adobe's new Fujifilm camera profiles.

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Thoughts on Adobe's new Fujifilm camera profiles.

A lot of attention this week surrounding Adobe’s Lightroom Mobile for iPad. I even saw a headline heralding its arrival as some sort of watershed moment in mobile photography… Hmm. From what I can tell image editing is extremely limited (no curves?) and it doesn’t even allow metadata editing beyond picks and rejects. Of course it’s also free… as long as you’re as CC subscriber — Lightroom purchasers need not apply. Moving on.

For me the more interesting release is Lightroom 5.4, which not only adds support for X-T1 raw files but also includes new Fujifilm camera profiles. If you’re an ACR user you already had access to these via the last RC candidate, but now they’re official and available to everyone. This is new territory for me since my only use of camera profiles has been through VSCO presets; I switched to Lightroom after my move to the X Series, which means I never used them on Nikon files. So I can’t really speak to their usefulness on other cameras. But on Fujis? So far I’m quite impressed.

I’ve never been one to praise Adobe’s handling of X-Trans demosaicing and have long considered them laggards compared to… Everyone else really. But while I still can’t say their decoding is at the top of the heap, it has gotten better; now with these new profiles they finally seem to be taking the system more seriously.

I love shooting JPEG with the X Series. I’d say at least 95% of the personal work you see on this site was shot in JPEG. I went from being a raw bigot to embracing the internal processing and capabilities of the Fuji cameras wholeheartedly, to the benefit of my hard drive space but also, I think, to the benefit of my photography, mainly because this change ended up forcing me to get many things right in camera, as opposed to relying on the freedom afforded by raw in post.

But I never shot JPEG to save drive space: I did it because from day one I was floored by the resulting files and saw little reason not to take advantage of it. Of course I’ve always been able to work with the raw files as well — a necessity for anything work related — but I’ve mostly preferred the results I could achieve from the in-camera film simulations. We usually associate these simulations with colour but they also affect the way highlights are rendered, which in turn affects much more than just the tone of an image; there’s a lot of voodoo that seems to be going on for which I have zero scientific explanation, or even proof for that matter. All I know is what I see when I sit down to process my images.

A long winded tirade just say this: that voodoo now lives in the raw files.
Minor differences aside, Adobe has pretty much nailed the film simulations and their addition is surprisingly powerful. Aside from being my first X-T1 images processed from raw, all the colour images below were created from the camera profiles to which I’ve added what I call my film curve, a tweaked S curve that slightly clips the highlights and fades the shadows while boosting contrast in the midrange. I’ve saved 5 presets in a new folder called Fuji RAW — one for each colour film simulation — and all they do is apply the corresponding camera profile with this film curve; honestly, this is getting me 90% of the way there in all the tests I’ve done so far. Using these as starting points, Fuji raw files now behave much more like their JPEG counterparts — with the added bonus of everything raw allows us to do in terms of correction and tweaking.

There’s no coherence, no rhyme or reason to the selection below… Just random images from this week processed with these new settings. The black and white images were done with my usual process but I’ve incorporated the available monochrome filter simulations, a quick way to apply yellow, red or green filters. Not as powerful or game changing as the other profiles but still a nice addition.

And spring has FINALLY come to these northern shores. Life is good.
Have a great weekend guys :)


Shot with the X-T1, the XF 56mm F/1.2R or XF 23mm F/1.4R


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Two gold rings.

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Two gold rings.

And so it begins... The first tentative steps towards individuality and a life of her own. It's an odd feeling, seeing tiny holes drilled into your baby while she holds your hand, defenceless. It seemed insignificant, perfectly normal, a non event — right up until I saw the needle go through and realized there was no turning back.

As I watched, recording the moment, reassuring her it was almost over, I saw in her eyes the truth she was suddenly grasping: how decisions lead to consequences, how pain is sometimes a road we need to travel before attaining our goals. She's happy, she's a big girl now... But she also knows more than she knew before. 


Shot with the X-T1 and XF 23mm f/1.4 R


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Friday odds and ends | April 4, 2014.

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Friday odds and ends | April 4, 2014.

Boy, I haven’t done one of these in a long, long while… Chalk it up to a very serious case of winter blues, family matters to deal with and a general condition of fedupism (brand new word due to intense circumstances). I’m looking at you umpteenth provincial elections next Monday… Urgh.

Fortunately, there is light in the blogosphere, stuff to keep us on our toes and inspired in spite of harsher realities. That and I have to admit to an ongoing love affair with my new gear keeping me slightly above water level… Not only the X-T1 but also the 23mm and 56mm lenses I’ve recently added to the kit. Honest to goodness… I’m surprised to be this excited. I mean, the lenses were a given since I’d already had a chance to work with both of them and knew how brilliant they were, but the X-T1 was always more of a rational affair: I enjoyed using it, it performed well, it was next-gen compared to my X-Pro1 and it made sense to have two interchangeable lens bodies to work with. It was an objectively sensible purchase much more than a passionate one; and yet here I am, giddy every single time I pick it up; just as giddy as I first was with the X100. Everything about it works for me and I feel completely connected to it — which leads to essentially forgetting about it and shooting purely on instinct. Instinct is good; instinct is where I want to be. And I don’t want to start a debate on such a subjective and ethereal topic as IQ or rendering but damn it… I go nuts when I see the results of it all. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the shiny new stuff placebo effect in full swing, who knows? But whatever it is, it’s working — that’s all that matters.


The great challenge of art is not learning to use the tools of our craft, but learning to say something human with them. The second is learning to be OK with the silence until then.
— David duChemin

David duChemin is a great writer. Yes, he’s also a talented photographer but more often than not it’s his writing that pulls me in — or the one/two punch, which is something I’m obviously partial to. This post entitled Make it Human is a must read. In fact it touches on the very topic that I feel should remain at the center of every single thing we do, this connection to ourselves which holds a capacity to elevate seemingly insignificant moments into so much more. Brilliant stuff.


More brilliant stuff: Toward A New Documentary Expression by Stephen Mayes, former director of VII Photo. This text is so much in line with how I view today’s documentary landscape… Basically, a broadening of the concept of visual storytelling beyond purely factual content. We had a discussion about this article within KAGE, I’ve tweeted it, I’ve flipped it. Yeah, you could say I’m slightly impressed.

Speaking of flippin: if you use Flipboard don't forget you can subscribe to our Kage Collective mag. It's not just about our own work but also a collection of articles and links we find inspiring. No need to use the Flipboard app either: it can also be accessed directly on the web.


My buddy Robert Boyer has been on a rampage these past couple of months: not only is his Atomic Canary project taking off like crazy with workshops galore (if you’re in the Baltimore region check it out) but his blog is turning into some sort of wild, ranting encyclopedia of photographic reflection. His recent series on image quality alone is worth a trip.

Btw we’re thinking of doing a workshop together in Spain… Eventually… Just sayin’. Hey maybe a world tour? ;)


New rumours have again surfaced about a possible move to full frame by Fuji. To be clear: I have no idea if it’s true; I couldn’t tell you if I did mind you but I really don’t (!). But if you’re looking for some interesting thoughts on the subject Jorge Ledesma has a great post on his blog.


I met a Montreal photographer a couple of months ago for coffee — actually he’s french but now calls this city home. His name is Adéral Piot: great guy, talented, great ideas… He’s been working for awhile now on a project with another photographer called Benoit Paillé, something entitled Crossroads of Realities. The project is an exploration of virtual vs “real” realities, using GTAV environments. This is something I toyed with a few years ago on a slightly different level, a sort of mise en abîme, the idea of a camera within a camera. Interesting stuff. The results are now online and also include a documentary shot and written by Adéral. Nicely done.


That's it guys. 
Have a great weekend :)

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Prelude to a conversation

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Prelude to a conversation

It's the waiting... You sit there and you look around and you wonder "Is it going to work this time? Am I really that interesting to begin with?". And you sip your water, chasing doubts away, trying to make yourself comfortable, listening to conversations, making sure everything's ready, checking every detail once, twice, a thousand times over; even though none of it matters anymore.

Then the lights go out and words need to fill the silence, images need to fill the darkness. And all you can really hope for is a conversation...

Many thanks to l'IRIS for hosting the PROXIMITY talk last night. I had a blast :)


Shot with the X-T1 and XF 23mm f1.4 R


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Straps to dye for...

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Straps to dye for...

There’s one thing I absolutely hate about every single camera that’s being shipped right now, including the X Series: the straps. I can’t stand flimsy, black nylon/faux leather, flesh cutting straps. They do the job and I don't blame manufacturers for providing them, but considering how much time we spend with these around our necks it's no wonder many of us turn to other solutions.

The one I’ve been using with my X-Pro1 is the Dreamer from a company called Iconic. I bought it from Photojojo (after an incident with a fake version on eBay) and I’ve been quite happy with it: it feels good, it’s strong enough and doesn’t look half-bad.

But the truth is I’d always been eyeing the hand-crafted stuff — I’m a sucker for leather and fibres and tactile materials. So when I found out the Dreamer was no longer available, the lure of a beautiful leather strap came back with a vengeance: I went hunting. There’s a lot of very nice work out there and I was looking around, reading reviews etc. I almost clicked BUY on a Lima from Ona, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Then I remembered David Du Chemin (I think) mentioning a company called Tap & Dye; the name just popped into my head — I’m really glad it did.

Tap & Dye is a small outfit based out of Long Island City, NY and run by Justin Waldinger. Justin does everything: he’s the founder, owner, designer and craftsman. When I visited his website I immediately cracked, not only because the products looked gorgeous but also due to the entire ethos of the brand, the idea of someone creating these very personal objects with his own hands, the care and craftsmanship. Over several days I kept coming back, trying to wrap my mind around some sort of decision. I had questions about shipping (to Canada) and Justin immediately answered my email — I pulled the trigger on a L E G A C Y - Black & Natural a few hours later.

It’s clear, as soon as you open the package, that this isn’t an assembly line product. The strap comes in a small cotton/burlap bag, nicely folded, tied together with a red string. There are also two tags attached to the package: one stamped with the strap’s production date (a nice touch), the other showing the leather’s origin. It’s beautifully done.

Most of the models offer a couple of options: I ordered mine without bumpers and added a neck pad (I find larger straps more comfortable). This was also a fixed length strap so I had to make sure of the measurements beforehand — I went with 44".

I knew I was ordering a great looking product but I was hoping it would be more than just good looks… It is. It’s super comfortable and by far the sturdiest, best feeling strap I’ve ever had around my neck. The fact that it’s real leather means there’s a breaking in period, a lot like a baseball mitt. I’ve been wearing it and massaging it for a few days now and it’s already clear this is something I’ll probably be passing on to my kids one day.

As far as price goes, it’s on par with other products in the same category, which means more expensive than off the rack nylon stuff, ranging from $62 US to $150 US (wrist straps start at $42 US). But honestly, given the quality of the work and the fact that these are handmade… It’s more than I’ve ever paid for a camera strap but I consider it to be worth every penny.

The only problem is that my Dreamer strap now feels like it’s made out of Kleenex tissue… So I think Justin’s new LEGACY Porter strap might be on the not too distant horizon. Did I say I cracked earlier? Hmm… Judicious choice of word.

For more info visit Tap & Dye.

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