8.08.2019

Adding up the numbers in Lightroom. What camera have I really shot the most frames with? Which lenses?

I've been using Lightroom for a long time. I haven't always run all my files through the application because I've also used other software like DXO, Capture One, Apple's now dead Aperture, and even iPhoto and Snapseed. But I now use Lightroom pretty consistently for all my commercial jobs if for no other reason than that I'm most familiar with it and it does batch processing quickly and efficiently. 
sometimes I make mistakes and get rid of cameras I should have kept.
One of those is the Panasonic G9. It may be the best still camera I've ever owned.
This was done in Iceland with the 8-18mm lens. Pretty much perfect in my mind. 


So, after a bunch of folks chimed in on theOnlinePhotographer to talk about which lens they shoot with the most, and someone posted a bit about how to look up your usage in the metadata, I thought I'd poke around and see what my numbers look like.

The first thing took me back a little bit. I've been accused of working too much but it was a bit shocking to see that there are 396,878 photos, total, in my libraries. That's a lot of photography. 

Then I decided to check and see which cameras I used the most. Since I have the Fujis in house right now I assumed those cameras would have fairly high numbers but that's not the case. To look at the numbers you'd think that all I do is shoot with Canon cameras. With one surprising Sony tossed in. 

It reads something like this:

Canon 5D Mk2 = 32,555
Sony A77 = 30,297
Fuji XH-1 = 25,142
Panasonic GH4 = 15,497
Canon 7D = 15,286
Canon 1Dmk2n = 15,079
Olympus EM5.2 = 14,124
Sony A99 = 13,495

There were 27 other cameras on the list, each with a representation of under 10K. The range of total lenses was embarrassing as well. 

The rest of the info shows me that while some cameras had bigger short term impacts on my consciousness they didn't have the staying power of the cameras I listed above. 

Most used two lenses? Not fast short tele primes I always seem infatuated by, but maybe the equivalent.

The #1 lens I used was the Canon 70-200mm f4.0 L, followed by
the 35-100mm f2.8 Panasonic.

My use of the vaunted 50mm was no more or less prevalent than most standard zooms (which I count in the 24-120mm range). The lens I've used most in the new Fuji system is the one I hesitated most to buy; the 16-55mm f2.8. I seem to grab for it all the time now. 

I'm guessing I should just hold onto to the XH-1s (and, of course, the X-Pro2s....) and the 16-55mm along with the 50-140mm f2.8 and put everything else up for sale.... at least it would make numerical sense. 

Funny that I always thought of myself as a resolute normal focal length photographer when in fact the range between 95 and 135mm seems to be where I gravitate.

I'd be interested to hear from y'all to see if my perception versus statistics is just an anomaly or if other people's nostalgia for popular, legendary focal lengths from the "golden" days of photography also cloud their clear vision of reality. Interesting exercise.







Digging in deeper with assignments. Sometimes you need to revisit projects to finally do your best work.

Libby Villari as Gov. Ann Richards in the play, ANN, at Zach Theatre.

I keep taking these deep dives into the theater and I'm almost convinced it's the best way to really divine the essence of a photographic subject.....the deep dive. Zach Theatre is opening the play, ANN, tonight with a big, Champagne reception and party. We'll all be there. But my contact with the play started nearly a month ago when I dragged my usual portrait lighting rig over to the theater in order to interject myself between shots of a video production (for a television commercial) in order to make marketing photographs of the play's actor, Libby Villari. 

That was followed by a session of on stage documentation of the play at the Sunday evening technical rehearsal (where I got a first look at the blocking, lighting and flow of the play) followed by yet another session of time-compressed photography at the dress rehearsal. Somewhere in this timeline Ben and I packed up a ton of lighting, video and audio gear and spent a Sunday doing three camera video interviews with writer (and the original actor in ANN), Holland Taylor; the play's director, Benjamin Endsley Klein; and the actor who will star in this production, Libby Villari. 

Following each photo session is an hours long session of editing, color correcting and assessing hundreds and hundreds of images and then getting them quickly into the waiting hands of the public relations department and the marketing department at the theater. Following the video interviews was the scrubbing through of all the footage, marking the usable quotes and stories, creating a series of multi-cam clips, assembling the videos and then fitting them out with carefully chosen music and appropriate b-roll (which came largely from the stills I'd been shooting; with a little help from the Ken Burns Effect). 

At this point I think I know the play well enough to be Ms. Villari's understudy (but that role is already filled). Tonight I'll put the cameras aside and take Belinda to see the production without the physical barrier of multiple cameras between me and the stage. 

But I will say that each touch and each intersection with the process of making the play and creating the visual collateral made each successive session better and better. My understand of how to translate the drama, and the comedic moments, was more nuanced. I knew better by the dress rehearsal exactly what images I could pull out with my cameras and lenses because they were the images that were selling me on the play. 

And I think this sort of immersion, which pays off in better and more interesting photographs, is largely missing from our current practices (collectively) of commercial photography. We are mostly given one chance, one day, one match up to get all the pieces competently cobbled together but because we don't generally have the option of coming back several times to refine our vision, or our equipment lists, or our timing and positioning, we fall back on proven techniques (which may be made boring by our need to make them bullet proof in the moment) and a hastily formed first impression of the material being presented to us. 

When taking portraits on location we are often pressed by the client's schedule to hastily decide on a location and to push through on a tight schedule. Even if we discover a better location within the location many times we don't have the luxury of disrupting a fixed schedule to stop and change lighting and location; even if it might make a much better visual outcome. By the same token we're locked into whatever outfit the subject shows up with. Even if the CEO comes with a plaid jacket and a wrinkled shirt, along with a novelty tie that has monster truck imagery on it, we rarely have the ability to demand/ask/cajole the marketing people into let us come back a second time, hoping that the CEO's handler will have remedied his sartorial suicide.....

I place part of the blame for this increasing compressed and rushed process that used to be photography. We need to push back. I've been working on this for a while and since I mostly photograph people I've started to invent ways to build in some "do over" capability, even within a one day assignment. 

A recent assignment called for location portrait photography with one CEO and four senior V.P.s. I was tasked with photographing each one individually. I asked for/demanded that we take time to scout their offices before the day of the shoot. I figured out three different locations that could be used for our portraits and I worked out how to light each of the three, making notes on gear and logistics during the scout. 

At the end of the scouting I met with the marketing director and let her know that I wanted to photograph the CEO first and also last. I explained to her that most people don't get photographed all the time and they tend to bring a lot of nervous energy into their sessions; especially if it is the first time they are working with a photographer. My strategy was to meet with the CEO and have a coffee and conversation prior to his first session. By doing this I was able to select which jacket he would wear (he brought three! Good job, Mr. CEO!!!) and which tie (6!!!). I was also able to get some insight into his personality and some of the things that most interested him. We also went over how the session would work and what to expect. We did a nice job on the first location and then I cut him free for the next few hours. 

In the interim I photographed the other executives, taking time to chat with them in their offices before we got into our sessions. Worked pretty darn well....

Near the end of the day I set up my lights in the final location and tweaked everything. Then I invited the CEO in for his second session. He was much more comfortable, less rushed, more compliant, and it felt like we'd known each other for ages. All of the images of the CEO chosen from our sessions on that day were from the final session. He was visibly more comfortable just as I had become more comfortable with him and also his staff and offices. It reminded me that we've allowed ourselves to rush even when it's counter productive and not required. Habit. But a good one to break. 

And maybe not just in our work.


This Summer I've made a conscious effort to book as much client work as I can in the afternoons. Not in the mornings. I can usually find a plausible excuse to offer a client to make this happen and the lack of booking client driven work in the mornings offers two benefits: The first is that I have not had to use an alarm clock to get up for the entire Summer. I can sleep in a bit and get better rest; especially since I tend to be one of those people who anticipate the alarm and wake up half an hour before, and then spend idle time waiting for the buzz to go off. Better to do it naturally. 

The second benefit is that I never have to miss a swim practice or give up a long walk. I usually swim with my master's team but if I want to swim at the Deep Eddy Pool it's far less crowded at 8 am, before the rest of society rises, has coffee and gets out of their houses. Not missing the exercise portion of the day is more important to me now that whatever money is attached to the jobs. I'll gladly trade a bit more excess prosperity for a cool swim in the shade of towering cottonwood trees. And I'll happily take advantage of spare morning time to read, and drink coffee.

I swam with the masters team this morning and that pool's water is heating up as the over 100 degree days arrive and linger. I'm going to start alternating. As the water in our main pool heats up we have to shorten the distances and be a bit careful about intensity. It's easy to forget that swimming in warm water can be dangerous and lead to hyperthermia and dehydration. By switching between pools I can swim hard distance in the 70 degree spring water and then work on sprint-y sets with more comfortable intervals in the conventional pool. Problem solved? We'll see. But short of everyone bringing a 100 pound bag of ice with them in the morning to dump into the pool I think we're just going to have to live with warmer water temps in the Rollingwood Pool until the Fall.


Musing about cameras. I woke up today and chose the Canon G15 as today's shooting machine. Small, agile and a good enough image for just about all uses. One of my friends called to see if I'd seen the review the Fuji GFX 100 over on DPReview.com. For some strange reason I had no interest at all. None. Not in the camera, not in the review and not even in the concept. I think I'm back into one of those cycles of trying to see just how much I can accomplish with the most rudimentary of tools. 

There is one camera that I need more of. That's the Fuji X-Pro2. If you've gotten tired of your mint condition X-Pro2 and want to trade it for an X-T3 I'd love to accommodate you. I might be negotiated into kicking in some cash as well. Let me know. Don't know why I want an extra one but I do. I really, really do. 

Hope you stay cool today, wherever you are. If you are in Austin you might enjoy the ANN play. If you are highly partisan and can't stand the thought of people liking a democratic governor in Texas then too bad but I think it's going to be a long while before you get to see a Greg Abbott play.....