Once on this Island. A studio shot.

Shot with a Hasselblad camera and a 150mm Zeiss Planar lens. Film: Agfapan 100 apx. Printed and then scanned from the print.

The thing I liked most about the images I made of this show, besides the beautiful and energy filled faces, is the way the curtains on the left and the background behind the actor on the right are rendered. I used a giant softbox with extra diffusion very close in to the actors and kept the power on that flash head as low as possible. I was shooting at f5.6 or around there. I lit the curtain with a small softbox and put the curtain far enough back so that it was lit separately from the actors. There's a third set of lights on the far background, modified by grid spots.

In my mind, at the time I was shooting this, the construction of the out of focus background elements was as important as the lighting on the main subjects.

Re-visiting the idea of the long tail. Buying valuable knowledge in an inexpensive book.

I wrote my first photography book back in 2007 and it was published in 2012. That seems to mean that the information in the book is five years old and, like cheese, it must be past its expiration date by now. But oddly, it continues to sell briskly on Amazon. I think it's because while the model numbers of the flashes and cameras and radio triggers change faster than a presidential candidates position the core stuff, the real information has hardly changed or been rendered obsolete. The basics are still the basics even though publishers are always trying to repackage the basic information with new visual candy. The book has been ranked as high as #19 on Amazon in its early days, and, for the last few days, it's been in the top 20 to 30 thousand books on Amazon.  Pretty amazing to me when I consider that there are over 8 million titles to choose from in their sales catalog.

Most interesting to me when looking last night at Amazon's tally of the four lighting books I've written is that all four of them, at that moment in time, were still in the top 100 books about photographic lighting. What this tells me is that people are looking for the concepts and details more than they are au currant illustrations. It also shows me the power of creating intellectual property with a long tail. Last year my publisher wanted to revise this book but I think it still has some legs. It's got forty five star reviews and I still get e-mails from people around the world who find the contents valuable.

I am a firm believer that books are the best value proposition for self education on the market today. They are infinitely re-readable. Unlike streaming workshops on the web one can stop and mull over a concept and then go on reading. A book will sit in the back pocket of your camera bag or on the back seat of your car and wait for you to come back to it. The batteries won't run down. You can look at illustration photographs side by side. You can pass it along. You can write notes in it. You can rip out the pages and tack them to your wall. You can share it.  And when you come back to it time and again it always seems a little different. The market and products may shift and change but the basics are more robust. All of that for the price of four or five vente mochas at Starbucks. Seems reasonable to me.

If you aren't familiar with the book above it's my stab at explaining why I thought we were destined to evolve our shooting styles from big, heavy lights to smaller, battery powered flashes and it also provides a guide of what kind of gear to buy and how to use it to your best advantage.

The Fuji X-E1 is an interesting camera.

My friend Paul and I had lunch on Tues. We are both camera-a-holics. We should both be in some sort of rehabilitation program for obsessive camera buyers. But there it is. Until someone does an intervention I count myself as incorrigibly curious and always ready to jump into the other pasture where the grass seems greener and more lush.

Niether of us own or have used the X-E1 yet but we are already putting together our basic, new systems in our heads. I have a good tolerance for zooms, especially ones with short lengths and with the word "ashperical" printed really big right inside the filter ring. Paul will naturally hold out for either the Zeiss glass that's said to be coming or, at the very least the cherry picked, single focal length lenses from Fuji.

Why are we so interested? Well, the chip and the lenses are the deal with Fuji. I've read a number of reviews of both this camera and it's older, more expensive and more problem laden big brother and while there are a bunch of nits to pick with some of the operational characteristics of the camera the universal consensus seems to be that the sensor is magnificent and that most of the lenses rise close to the top of the heap compared to what is available from everyone else. Leica excluded, of course.

The body is well styled and beautifully and simply designed. It seems like it would be a good take anywhere camera. The use of an EVF means that zooms lenses aren't an issue as regards the finder. The black finish and the black lenses harken back to the Leicas they seem bent on imitating and referencing. But mostly I think I am interested in the camera because the implied quality of performance seems to rival a Leica M9 at a price point about 1/6th or less of the price.

While I am currently infatuated and satisfied with my Nex-7 (especially after the firmware update) I can't help but wonder just how much better the overall performance of the sensor really is. And everyone with a Nex 7 is always in the waiting mode for more and better dedicated lenses from Sony.

Two things slow me down from actually putting in an order for this camera. The first is the feedback from owners who've shot both Sony Nex 7's and Olympus OMD's who have also auditioned this Fui camera. The EVF is not up to the level of quality and implementation of those cameras. I'm not sure I want to go backwards now that I have finders I really like.

The second thing that holds me back is the fact that the camera currently really has to be viewed as a Jpeg only proposition. That may change now that Adobe has raw files to work with but Fuji introduced a new RAW format with a new way of de-mosaicing the output from the sensor and it seems that the only way to consistently get good conversions is to use Fuji's slow and flawed software.  I've been down that road before with the S3 and S5 cameras and I won't load Fuji's software product onto my little computing machine again. But as I've stated, all that may change as the products mark time in the market and in the hands of third party software developers.

If you are transitioning from dinosaur DSLR cameras into a new century of photographic tools and you are ready to toss aside the heavy iron and start making images with mirrorless EVF cameras you should go into a store and check one of the X-E1's out. If they've fixed the focusing issues of the X-Pro-1 and maintained the quality of the sensor it might just be one hell of a photographic imaging device. And what they didn't get right out of the gate might be tweakable in firmware updates.

Fuji's has always made cameras and camera sensors that intrigue me and have enabled me to turn out beautiful files. And their lenses are also well regarded. I hope that these cameras are the spearhead of a whole new family of cameras from Fuji. I can hardly wait to put one through its paces.