I have succeeded in speaking to the Association of Texas Photographic Instructors and 300 of their students without embarrassing myself too badly.

Here I am obsessively compulsively adjusting the projector....
photo: ©Bill Woodhull 2014

 I was the keynote speaker for the Texas Association of Photographic Instructors and I took my job very seriously. I spent a couple of days editing down images to show and I wrote two complete, and completely different 40 minutes speeches. I showed the first one to my son, Ben, and asked for a critique. With brutal honesty he let me know that the first script might cause high school students (of which there were about 300) to run screaming from the building in the first three minutes. Asked why he went on a  riff about narcissism, self aggrandizement and the unassailable fact that 58 years old of any ilk should never reference rappers in a presentation. To anyone. 

I changed to plan B which was a heart felt script entitled: The Golden Age of Photography is Right Now.  There wasn't a single reference to my work and few references to my career. No rappers. No jokes and, as prescribed by Ben the word "cool" was expunged in over 23 places.

At the end of the presentation I got a standing ovation from the kids at Frisco High School who were brilliant and incredibly motivated. Go Frisco!!! The rest of the kids applauded vigorously----but from a seated position. 

At the end of the presentation we called for questions and opened the floor to "selfies" on stage with the speaker. I now have many new followers on Twitter. #vizsciencelab

The teachers were incredibly welcoming and obviously dedicated. I am less worried about the future of photography with such steady hands on the helm. The entire afternoon of workshops, contest and portfolio reviews in the conference rooms of the state capitol building was great. 

In order to true new stuff I left the car in the driveway today and road the #30 bus from my neighborhood to the capitol. It was a great experience and one that I'll do again. Saved me between $12 and $18 for downtown parking. I got to do some work on the speech while someone else did the driving. 

Finally, I want to say how much I appreciated VSL regular, Frank, for taking time from his schedule to come and listen to my speech. I felt better with a friendly face in the audience. Thanks.

Also thanks to my long suffering wife who also came out on a frigid friday just to watch me talk. Like she doesn't hear enough at home.  But seriously, it was nice. The kid, of course, was nowhere to be found. But that's okay, now I don't have to sit through the post mortem critique. 

I wanted to go out with the instructors and have dinner and drinks but sadly I have to be on the road to San Antonio tomorrow where I have a full day of photographing in a luxury high rise. I'll be on the road at 5:30am. No party for me tonight. 

Just thought I'd wrap up the loose ends on the whole "public speaking" thing. Good night.

My next camera? A really professional combination for still+video producers.

Panasonic GH4.

You'll probably remember that I fell for the Panasonic G6 at the Photo Expo last Fall, bought one and then subsequently bought two of its big brother, the GH3. I have been using the GH3's for video and still work since November and I am convinced that it beats the video performance of any un-hacked DSLR currently in the market. The video is wonderful. And lately I've had the opportunity to compare the video output to much more expensive, dedicated video cameras and I've found the GH3 video to be close. Certainly competitive for all but the most rigorous and technically demanding programming. According to my friend, Frank, the difference between good video cameras may be less important than the difference that good versus mediocre lighting design...

At any rate I am happy with the GH3s and they've staved off my yearning for an OMD EM-1 by virtue of their dual photo/video nature. The one feature that would be nice to have in the GH3s would be the same kind of in body image stabilization that the top Olympus cameras feature. As for image quality I'm pretty sure that when I shoot in raw I can match files pretty evenly.

But here's the deal. I don't really need the GH4 just for video. The video in the GH3 will work fine for the next year or so of production. The market is shifting to 4K video but not so rapidly that we need shift today to stay relevant. No, the real reason to add one of the new cameras to inventory is the handful of improvements and additions Panasonic have made.

The two that come to mind for me as a still shooter are the improved shutter with 1/8000th of a second top speed and a faster sync speed: 1/250th versus 1/160th. The shutter life is also rated at twice the life of the GH3 or 200,000 actuations. 

As a videographer the major reason to add a GH4 is the accessory that interfaces with the body and gives one dual XLR inputs for professional microphones. It's a usability issue more than anything else. 

One thing I like about the introduction is that the basic camera body is largely the same as its predecessor. That means the buttons are all in the same place, there's good chance they didn't screw up the menus and that means I'll know my way around the camera from the minute I pull it out of the box. Maybe they'll even keep the same battery type. 

Should you get a Panasonic GH4? I guess it all depends on what you do with your cameras and where you are in your camera buying cycle. I'm definitely on board but it's because of the shift in my business. I'll be testing the heck out the camera to see just how much good still work I can squeeze out of the sensor before I dump the FF stuff I'm using for some portraits. But all in all I think the writing is on the wall. Smaller, faster, better and more workman-like than most of the cameras I've come across. Now, if we can just keep the price point under $1500. 

on an unrelated note: I will be speaking this evening at the state capitol. My speech ending up being positive and uplifting. Most of it is true. And wouldn't you know it, the schools are closed again today because of the freezing weather. It's 30 degrees (f) and there's no snow or ice anywhere. But they closed the schools just to be safe. Amazing and, even as a Texan I'll admit====it's downright wimpy. But ATPI tweeted that the conference is totally on and the classrooms are open and ready to go. It should be fun.