What do you do with all the photographs you take?

I thought about that today. I shoot all the time and I'll assume you have a good idea what I do with the photographs I shoot for clients. I sort them, polish up the selected ones and send them over in whatever file format they need to be in, and then archive and mostly forget about them. Very occasionally a client calls looking for a picture of Chip or Judy that we took at the (whatever) conference back in 2002 but mostly the bulk of the images I shoot for clients end up (they never "land up" --- is that an English language glitch that got introduced in some other region? "Landed up"????? WTF?) populating various folders in the cloud(s), folders on my active hard drives, folders on in-active but routinely "exercised" hard drives, DVDs and, from back in primitive times, on CDs. But I'm not really thinking of the commercial stuff. Those photographs will take care of themselves.

I'm thinking about all the stuff I shoot for myself; from portraits to zany Austin buildings, interesting signs, street scenes and culture in general. I know from looking through my Google Photos folders that I've shared at least five thousand individual images on the blog over the last TEN YEARS, even taking into consideration that some photographs keep getting re-published and re-published....

Our shoot this early evening got pushed back from 6:30pm to an 8:00pm start so I have enough time to convert my thought process about image legacy into a blog post. Lucky us. Here is an answer (or series of answers) that many of you might find heretical: With the exception of family images (Ben, Belinda, Studio Dog, close friends) I am very lackadaisical about what happens to the images I take. Sure, I love to look at them but I don't sweat too much about whether they are pristinely preserved and well archived or just relegated to an old hard drive because I'm much more interested in going forward than in continually looking the rear view mirror. I don't want to become one of those photographers who presume that their best images or their "heyday" is all behind them and that their tasks, going forward (in time) is all about re-working and re-working the images they made years ago. There may be value in that if you have a venue for the old work but for me the value of doing photography is in the enjoyment of the process of actually making the photographs.

Yesterday presented yet another example of my interest in the process but my relative disdain for the back end drudgery of the craft. I walked through downtown Austin with a Fuji X-E3 and a 35mm f2.0 lens and I snapped images of bright blue skies and soaring buildings,  many fat, fat, fat people perched precariously on a now overwhelming infestation of electric scooters, and a few shots of disoriented tourists dodging said scooters. I'm sure you would mostly agree that there was little of real value on the SD card by the time I finished my work. 

While I could have been swayed by the persistent lore of our industry/hobby to believe that all shutter presses and their discharges are wonderful, creative and imaginative, and worthy of being saved on multiple hard drives, preserved from fires and floods in the different safety deposit boxes sprinkled about the state, I chose to believe the opposite. That some days you venture forth with a camera and come back with a bunch of ...... crap. As I waited for my car's air conditioner to un-preheat my car's interior I took a few minutes to buzz through the newly minted images on the rear screen of the camera. Seeing nothing new and striking I stumbled into the menu and reformatted the card. Better luck next time. Right?

Was I crestfallen, depressed, discouraged? Not at all. I enjoyed the walk. I probably enjoyed it more knowing that I was not required to come back with a whole bouquet of visual masterpieces. There is value in just looking and there is value in having the camera in your hand and being ever more comfortable and at home with the process. The path towards more success is to become more critical, and the path to being more critical is mostly littered with rejected images or their digital residue, such as it is. Almost as if what you throw away is more important than what you keep. Or something Zen-y like that.

I'll grab a camera tomorrow morning when I leave the house. It will be new day and mostly a change of attitude changes one's perception of the value of the images. I am excited about the images I hope to get tonight at the technical rehearsal I'll be shooting at Zach Theatre tonight. Always a challenge to create great stage shots on a constrained and strict schedule, having never seen the blocking, or stage sets before. Dear God, I hope they have the lighting set high enough this time. 
What do you do with the thousands and thousands of images you shoot every year? Do you have a venue in which to share them? An audience with which to share them? And how many photos do you throw away? What percentage are "keepers?"
On another subject my lightweight, carbon fiber tripod came today. Studio Dog rushed to the front door of the house to bark at the delivery person. She forgot to take the low coefficient of friction on the Saltillo tiles into consideration and slid right into the front door. She's got a bit of a limp right now. Left front paw. But she's pretty confident that's one Amazon delivery driver who will never be back. Solely because of her ferocious home protection skills (I didn't point out to her that the man was on the other side of the closed door....dogs need to maintain their dignity....).

At any rate the tripod is just.....darling. It's sooooo tiny. It weighs 2.2 pounds, including the petite bullhead on top. I certainly wouldn't say this is built for heavy duty use and I might be hesitant to put my 100-400mm lens on top, but it's just what I had in mind to hold the camera in one spot while I move with a hand held strobe to another spot and trigger the whole assemblage remotely. If the camera holds up for a few long corporate events before expiring I'll be happy and will just start thinking of featherweight tripods as billable disposables. It's a Benro Slim like this one:

Finally, a personal note. I was able, for the first time in a months and months, to make it to both a Saturday and a Sunday swim practice on the same weekend! I got to swim in a lane with my friend, Leslie, and while we weren't the fastest people in the pool today (not by a long shot) we were absolutely diligent and made it through the whole hour and a half, working hard. Nice to be exhausted two days in a row. It's a good cure for just about everything.

Odd thought. I think I'll wear a suit and tie to the rehearsal tonight. Just for fun. Just because it's so .... uncalled for. Maybe even a bow tie.....


Crazy fun stuff that I like to buy. This time is a half terabyte external Sandisk SSD drive.

On the Spanish Steps in Rome. 1995. Mamiya Six camera.

I'm photographing the annual Summit conference for WP Engine at the end of the month and I learn new stuff every time I do this three day assignment. We move fast. They move fast. A few times last year we (the marketing team and I) had photographs from the CEO's final speech up on social media minutes before she left the stage. Three years ago I learned I needed a much faster laptop for the conference (no time to head to the studio to process and upload, we did everything within 100 yards from the main stage) so last year I finally retired the noble but painfully slow Mac Pro I had been using and bought a new one with a faster processor, more memory and an SSD HD. It's so much quicker. The narrow part of the funnel last year was how long it took to write files to my conventional (spinning disk) hard drive. So, this year I bought several of the Sandisk 500 GB SSD drives I found on Amazon for $89 each. I've already tested one of the drives and it's super speedy compared to the older tech. Now my big hope is that the new Fairmont Hotel here in Austin, Texas has a nice, juicy broadband connection with which to work.

This will also be my first year to use the Fuji cameras for a larger conference. I'll be shooting mostly photographs but need to also catch some B-Roll video for the client as well.  The X-H1 is particularly well suited to this. The real trick is in the upload. We shy away from 4K when we aim for fast delivery....

Last year, when I was shooting displays, and some demo areas that were in really low lighting, I used a monopod for stability but I ended up anchored to the camera. You can't just walk away from a monopod and think that your camera and the floor won't soon meet up,  and there were times I wanted to set a self timer, use a flash and stand with the hand held flash about ten feet over to one side. I have narrowed down my selection of tripods for photographs to just two. I may have "over narrowed" because while the two that remain are wonderfully rigid and durable neither is light weight and both are a pain in the ass to carry all over a hotel convention space.

I have my eye on a Benro tripod that might fill the bill for a very small, very light, take everywhere tripod. It's called a Benro Slim. It's carbon fiber, has a decent bullhead and only weighs something like 2.4 pounds. I know it won't be as sturdy as my big Gitzo but I also know I can strap it onto the side of my photo backpack and never notice the weight. It's for those times when I want to shoot interior stuff and I need to have the camera on an autonomous support so I can walk away from it to adjust lights, etc. (Darn, I was so enthralled with what I was writing just now and I took a break to look at the tripod specs on Amazon and decided, in the spur of the moment, to just go ahead and order it......).

The interesting aspect of this show for me is the immediacy of delivery that we're going to engineer. I'm working hard to figure out how to continuously, wirelessly, send files as I'm shooting to a folder on the laptop but I can't figure out (right now) how to continuously upload the images from the computer's folder to a Smugmug gallery without having to touch the computer. We use Smugmug.com to share the photographs with the team so they can quickly select and download the stuff they want to use.

If you have ideas for speedy, one man file transfer I'd love to hear them.

Packing my bags for tomorrow's technical rehearsal of Terence McNally's, "The Immortal Longings."

Photographed as an audition for Jana. I needed a great talent to pose for lots of the images in my LED book so I booked a session with Jana and we played around all over downtown but especially in Little City Coffee House. It's no longer there but I still have the photographs. 

The photographs of Jana have nothing to do with the written content of this particular blog post but I like them and thought they should get some exposure. Beautiful woman --- coffee. What's not to like? 

But really I just wanted to write about what I'm packing to take to the technical rehearsal of a new play that's about Diagilev and Najinsky, their relationship, and the revolution they created together in modern ballet. Our theater is hosting the world premiere of Terence McNally's (Four time Tony award winner, writer of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "Ragtime") newest play, "The Immortal Longings." 

There are two different rehearsals during which I make photographs. One is the full dress rehearsal (coming up on Tuesday) and the other is the final technical rehearsal. The dress rehearsals usually have a "family and friends" audience which limits my ability to move all over the house to get all kinds of fun angles I like but the tech rehearsal is done without an audience and gives me full license to be everywhere I want to be except on the stage itself (too dangerous and distracting). The photographs I take are used in advertising and public relations, and appear all over Austin and as far away as "American Theater Magazine" and most recently in the "New York Times." 

My gear inventory is simple and straight forward for tomorrow. I'm taking two Fuji X-H1 bodies and one X-T3 body. I'll put the 50-140mm f2.8 lens on one X-H1 and the 16-55mm f2.8 on the other body and use both of them handheld. For the first time since I started shooting theater I am planning to put the 8-16mm lens (at 10mm) on the X-T3, place it on a tripod right at stage level, center; pointing up a bit, and trigger it with a remote release. I'll pre-focus at 15 feet and try to compute a good average exposure level for the spotlights on stage. I just thought I'd try something new and different (for me). 

I must confess that I do miss the days of yore when we would do staged shots for marketing instead of trying to catch our photographs during run of show. I'd drag in multiple strobe boxes and many flash heads with soft boxes, and some with grids, up onto the stage and we'd shoot Polaroids and do a bit of collaboration with the marketing team. It was fun and we never had to worry about "file noise" or things not being sharp because of shutter speed limitations. It was time consuming and hard labor but the photos never looked better. 

Seems strange, all of a sudden, not to be heading to San Antonio in the morning. I'm already missing having lunch the memory care facility with my dad and his two favorite table mates, Marianne and Jimmy. But at least I won't be racing back to Austin in a sweat trying to make it to the theater on time after lingering too long in the afternoon, reading the New York Times to my dad.... and sneaking him small bags of Hershey's Kisses. 

Waiting to meet someone who is perennially late, or unreliable.

The temperature flirted with one hundred degrees today. I officially pronounce the beginning of Summer in Austin.

Model at Enchanted Rock State Park, outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. 
Dressed for the heat wave.

I usually like the hot weather. Today though I was under the weather. I don't know if it was the stress of recent events or a bit of hypochondria but I woke up feeling a bit less than 100%. Some gastrointestinal distress and a bit of a headache. I usually ignore stuff like this and today was no exception....early on. I went to swim practice but I threw in the towel after an hour and headed off by myself for coffee. I came home and took some acetaminophen for my headache and then bowed out of our usual Saturday family lunch to take a nap on the bed. By mid afternoon I was back on my feet. A weird thing about me is that when I'm tense and have a headache the best medicine seems to be to put on some walking shoes, a wide brimmed hat, and some sunglasses and then go for a long walk. Seems that walking meditation short circuits the worry wiring and gives me a lot of relief --- even when the mercury soars. 

In the past I would grab whatever camera I was infatuated with for a hot walk but today I actually thought about size and weight. The choice for today was between the Canon G15 and the Fuji X-E3 with a 35mm f2.0. The Fuji won. But mostly because it was such a bright and contrasty day and I figured the X-E3 would do a better job handling the wide range of tones. I put an extra battery in one pocket and a credit card in the other and parked near downtown. To be honest I didn't see much I was interested in photographing. I came home with five mediocre shots on the memory card which I flushed by re-formatting. But I came home without the headache and that was more important to me in the moment.

I have really come to enjoy the X-E3 in the same way I used to enjoy my old Leica rangefinders. These cameras are small and light and are perfectly paired with the 16mm f2.8, the 23mm 2.0, the 35mm 2.0 and the 50mm 2.0. In fact, I have an urge to buy one more of them (but this time in silver....) and to use them with the above listed lenses as a lightweight travel kit. But being the somewhat lazy photographer that I am I'll probably also drop the 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 zoom into the bag just for those times when, you know, I want to zoom instead of fumble with lens changes. As you are probably aware, the minute I pick up another X-E3 Fuji will announce the X-E4 (or whatever number those superstitious camera makers choose) which will have IBIS, the 26 megapixel processor of the X-T3 and a new and improved Eterna profile.... Ah well. 

At any rate the X-E3 is a perfect camera for people who are looking for small, light and relatively inexpensive. While I wish the EVF eyepiece was a bit bigger and had a higher eye point it does make really nice photographs and I'm actually glad to have one. It's good enough to prevent me wanting an X100F. 

No headache now and my stomach is fine. I guess sometimes a long walk in the warm air really can be medicinal. 


Dancer in a downtown warehouse on Sixth Street. In a time when rent in downtown Austin was $100.

It's been a rough week for me. I've been more or less chained to my desk sending out notes to family and friends about the passing of my father, and, from time to time, conferencing with insurance companies, brokerage firms and banks. More of them than I thought possible. My saving moments have been my almost daily swim practices (swimmers make me happy), lunches with old and new friends, and a dive into looking through work I did closer to the beginning of my career. Work done with much more rudimentary tools but with the feeling that I had all the time in the world.

I have some work e-mails that I've been slow to return. It's a time of reappraisal. Do I want to continue on with some of my clients? The ones who always push to hard on budget? The ones who would like my pricing to never change? The ones whose imaginations keep all of us from creating work of which we can be proud? I've never been a particularly good business man but at 63 I'm not thinking that will change much. I more or less went with the flow for a lot of my career and now that both of my parents are gone and the kid is out of college, almost out of the house (August) and gainfully employed, I wonder just how much I want to keep firing up the steam powered cameras and sally forth in the service of clients who are hell bent on proudly achieving mediocrity in advertising.

When I get gloomy like this about the business of photography I go through a few boxes of my favorite black and white prints to remind myself how I came to wander down this long and winding road to begin with. The answer, of course, is that making photographs is the most fun thing one can do when not busy having sex. As we move through our careers (as photographers, not sex workers...) I think it's always instructive to look back and listen to what our younger selves can tell us. I found myself listening to a 22 year old who was living in an un-air conditioned studio space, sleeping on a second hand futon and making black and white portraits of any person (beautiful girl or middle-aged man, anyone) I could convince to come over into the primitive studio space and sit for one.

Some of my best portraits ever were done with a haggard, ancient and well used Mamiya 220 camera and its twin 135mm lenses. Just popping a Vivitar 283 flash into a partially disabled white umbrella and hoping I could load film fast enough to get twenty or thirty good frames before the double "A" batteries in the flash ran down and I tried to explain away the 30 second+ recycle time.

The process of dealing with parents who have passed just 18 months apart involves distilling down the lives of two people who lived a combined 180 years and collected all manner of stuff all along the way. It's easier this time with my father because the heavy lifting happened last year after my mom's passing, the clearing out and selling of the house, the combining of their conjoined finances and the move of my father into a single room in memory care.

The experience of the last two years is straining. I'm tense and I'm always waiting for another shoe to drop. I want to hurry all the functionaries along but I know that they do these processes in their own good time. I call my physician from time to time to check in and see if I'm presenting with symptoms of depression (not yet!!!).

But I always like to look for the silver lining, the unexpected dividend, the gift of being just a little bit wiser for the wear. In my case my brother, sister and I are getting along marvelously well. No rifts, no arguments; just endless support and love. My trauma at realizing just how much stuff my parents had in their rambling house has translated into my acceleration of my own divestment of all the junk I never used but in the past could never bear to toss. Really, how many different medium priced shotgun microphones do I really need? I organized the end of my parents' lives and I'm not going to leave the same mess and complexity for the kid.

But the biggest lesson is that no matter how long you live and how much you've done you would always be ready to trade it all ..... for just a little more (Thank you to Monte Burns (Simpson's reference) for the paraphrased quote). I'm interpreting that to mean that all the personal project that didn't have budgets attached aren't going to wait forever and it's time to jump on them. After I finish with the process of probate I'm out the door on a series of adventures. My goal is to go to all the places I've dreamed about and thought about with a camera in my hand and my Speedo jammers and my swim goggles in hand.

It's amazing how much I've accumulated over the years. It's amazing how little value most of the photo equipment really holds on to. But the clearing out is more about shutting down the inventory subroutines in my brain and also giving me unencumbered space to work in with what's left.  Some gets tossed, some gets sold or traded in and some gets gifted to people who are closer to the beginning of their arc of a career making photographs.

Belinda is taking off July and Ben is working through the Summer. With someone around all the time to take care of Studio Dog I'm already planning my first photographic road trip in the shiny white Subaru Forester. Middle of the Summer. Middle of Texas. I'll probably head north through Colorado. I have a friend in Estes Park who just built his mountain side dream home. I can crash there for a night or two. I have another friend who just dropped ten times my total net worth on a place in Aspen and I'm sure she and her husband have a guest room that might meet my picky standards (joke) and then northward from there.

I'll do some research and I'll start to winnow this trip down. But I'm taking this little laptop so I'll let you know, day by day, how it's all going. Might even take along a couple of cameras with a 50 and 135mm equivalent duo of lenses. At least thats the thought I'm having this evening as I wrap up a week as a paper pusher trapped by the process of the passing of torches.

Can anyone definitely tell me I should own the Fuji 35mm f1.4 lens? I hear a lot of good stuff about it and then some yinky stuff. I'll trust the braintrust that is the readers of VSL.

Tomorrow my attitude will probably be totally different, after all we have the big Saturday swim practice in the morning.

My younger self counsels me to bring a camera and a decent lens to swim practice. Surely, he says, there will be someone there worth photographing....


Just a few things I think about when pricing portrait sessions of multiple people for companies and associations...

Art Historian. UT College of Fine Arts. 

I've been doing a style of portraiture (below) for the last few years that I have come to like very much. I started doing it in earnest for a law firm after initial successes with executives from a medical devices firm. The style is to do environmental portraits in the offices of the company. I find what I think will make great backgrounds when put out of focus and then I put the portrait subject far enough in front of the background to ensure I can drop the details out as much as I want via aperture controls.

There are several parameters that have to be in place for this kind of interior, environmental portrait to be successful. You need to work in a space that is uncluttered and well designed. There needs to be some color contrast in the background. You have to have enough working space between the camera and subject in order to use as long a lens as you'd like and, even more importantly, you need enough working space between the subject and the background to effectively throw the background details out of focus in a convincing manner. You get extra points if there are some objects midway between the subject and the final background as these additions add to the perception of depth in the photos.
While my goal, as much as possible, is to make the light look natural I find that the more natural you want the light to look the more often you'll need to get in there and work with your own lights to make the overall look happen with any measure of success. Many locations have "can" lights in the ceiling that project unwanted warm and green (compared to daylight) color cast and can act as nasty hair lights.  In most office situations I find I must place a diffuser or even a hard scrim between a ceiling mounted florescent fixture or can light in order to control the negative effects of the raw illumination.  Once I've "killed" the unwanted top light I find that the subject needs more and better illumination. In my book that means a soft light from one side or another from a higher position so the light isn't lateral to the subject horizontally (see a b.h.s. shot below). 

So, I just wanted to set the scene for my real subject: how do you estimate this kind of work for a client? Usually a client calls and tells me that they've seen my work at XXXX website and would like to have it done for their company. They tell me they have (example) 15 executives who need to be photographed and they would like to do all fifteen of them in one day. How much will it cost?

Here's how I respond: 

"Project Description: 

Make 15 portraits at a client location in the style shown in the supplied samples. Images will be used in social media, on the company website and in public relations materials for a period of three years. We will be supplying digital files of one selected image per person directly to the ad agency or client.

Arrange to scout the location to see what potential sites within their offices can be used. I generally counsel against using views out of windows as backgrounds since all the portraits need to be lit and generating enough power to match the exterior light generally means that you get a lot of reflections in the windows between the subject and the outdoors. It’s best to find swaths of color and various shapes that can be put out of focus in the backgrounds (see the XXX website images…). The scouting allows me to see if best locations will impede traffic flow (can we make arrangements for that?), how we’ll run power cables, and whether otherwise good locations require clean up or special access on the shoot days. 

On the day of actual photography I like to load in my gear as early as possible. Client or agency will provide for garage parking in an adjacent or close by facility. We’ll position the gear in a central location in the client offices and set up and light various locations during the day to provide variation in backgrounds; variations in “look and feel” within the overall style. The first set up is usually the longest as we are getting adapted to the space. Figure about 30-45 minutes for the initial set-up. We’ll need about 15 minutes for each person we photograph. That’s fifteen minutes for each person in front of the camera. We should pick five different locations during the day and schedule three people for each location. Changing locations requires about a half an hour to move and re-light. We will be able to handle photographing all 15 people over the course of the work day. 

If time permits and the the client needs to add additional portrait subject each of those additions will be billed at $250 each to offset the additional time required as well as extensions of post production time and resources.

After the shooting day I’ll edit the entire collection of images. By “editing” I mean I will narrow down the total number of images by deleting close duplicates, images with blinks or unusable expressions, or other glitches. After I edit down the number of images I’ll globally color correct (no individual corrections at this point) the remaining files and convert them from Raw to Jpeg in order to make a master online gallery for image selection. The online gallery will allow anyone from client or agency side with a password to go through the images and make selections for final post production and retouching. The online gallery serves also as a back-up. 

The agency and client will make selections for each participant from the online gallery and I will retouch, color correct, correct for tonality, and make ready the files in post production. There is a charge for each retouched image. I will deliver the images via FTP in three formats per image = one .PSD, one Tiff and one Jpeg. Upon payment in full of our invoice the client will receive a license for unlimited exclusive use of the images for three years. I retain all copyright and rights of authorship including the right to use the images on my own website and for the marketing of my own services.

In order to color match the selected images and ensure a homogenous "look and feel" to the finished files I require the agency to provide all the selections at one time. This is part of our agreement. Should you need to provide the selections randomly or individually we will apply an extra charge of $25 per order.

Budget Estimate:

Scouting: $ 350

Shooting for one day on location with equipment package = $2,500

Editing and gallery creation = $400

Assistant fee for shoot day = $350

Post production / editing = $50 per image ($50 X 15 = $750) = $750
Project total = $4,350. + applicable sales tax if billed direct to client.

This is my favorite kind of assignment and I hope we are able to work together on it. Let me know if I’ve gotten all the details right and we’ll go from there. 

Thanks very much! Kirk

The high backed office chair is (emphatically) not for the subject to sit in but 
for the subject to stand behind. The chair "anchors" the subject into position while 
giving them a reassuring place to put their hands. Like a portable podium.

I find the use of LED lighting advantageous when "blending" our lights with 
existing lights on location. Paired with a fast aperture portrait focal length
these choices add to our overall control.

This sort of assignment has long been my bread and butter for my photography business. It's a niche that I like and feel comfortable working in. 

New clients rarely understand the time it takes to do this well and the (invisible) time it takes to do all the post production. While this proposal was aimed at an advertising agency representing a company I find that giving all clients as much information as I can helps to mitigate any push back I get about pricing. I have had a number of clients try to negotiate our pricing down by as much as 10-20% but I am not willing to budge very often. I've done this long enough to know that there will be roadblocks all through each project that will take extra time and extra handling. 

My goal each year is to push my prices up by 5-10% (depending on the nature of the service). I know it sounds like this exceeds current inflation rates but I would argue that, for the things I like to buy and the restaurants I like to frequent, we're actually losing ground on real inflation. Client beat up everyone who worked freelance really hard during the last (great) recession. It's important to recover lost ground and to do it while the current economy is robust. End of numbers oriented post for the week. 

Think I'm charging too little? Let me know where you think I should beef up my charges. Thanks. KT


I was looking at images from the Sony RX10iii and found myself wishing someone made a camera with Sony's one inch sensor and interchangeable lenses. Little, tiny lenses.

And then I realized that Nikon had already made the camera but not with the Sony sensor (which may have been the downfall of that system). I remember thinking to myself when the V1 was introduced that there was no way I would pay what Nikon was asking for that small body, 10 megapixels and a few slowish lenses but after I handled it in a store I caved and bought the system. It was fun but it never worked out the way I wanted it to. I wonder how successful it would be if it was re-imagined today with a selection of smaller, faster prime lenses and one of the marvelous Sony 20 megapixel sensors.

I don't regret selling the V1 system but I am happy I did get to use one for the better part of a year. I did a lot of public relations work with it in situations where clients valued discretion over sheer quality. Now everyone seems to offer cameras with silent, electronic shutters. But none as small and nicely finished as the V1 body of that system was.

I shot into a mirror for the image above. It was taken at a public relations function for Easter Seals and Dell Inc. We came away with a lot of good candids of the executive staff from Dell interacting with Easter Seal's clients. It was a nice project. That was the right camera for that assignment. Much quieter than my bigger Nikons from that era.

The V1 will probably be considered an outlier collectible. I'll let someone else corner that market....

Staying with the 135mm focal length (or similar angle of view....) I thought I would mention an inexpensive Zeiss Contax version I liked a lot.

In October of 1994 I took my parents and Belinda to Paris just for fun. We spent about eight days there and made a few side trips as well. I was traveling light when it came to cameras and packed a Contax S2 and a Contax 139. The 139 was damaged during the trip and, this being the optimistic 1990's I walked into a FNAC and bought another body. It was a small and light body and it actually had a name instead of a model number. It was called an "Aria." It was not better or worst than my other Contax SLR bodies but it was light enough to hand off to family and not have them grouse about the heft. It camera with a little 28-70mm lens that was also very nice.

I kept that little camera in the bag most of the time. It was always intended to be a back-up camera. I used the S2 a lot more, and the lens I used most during that particular trip to the "city of lights" was the Contax 135mm f2.8. A small, solid and virtuous lens that seemed, in my hands at least, to be spot welded at f2.8. I snuck into the fashion shows at the Carousel de Louvre while I was there (actually, I bummed an invitation and press pass from a magazine editor I knew who was in attendance) and spent part of a day shooting some of the shows, spending some time also backstage at Karl Lagerfeld show, and generally just messing around with my small selection of lenses and a limited number of black and white 35mm rolls of film.

As I was leaving the area and heading back to the hotel I passed this woman having coffee at an outdoor table at a cafe. The 135mm was perfect for this shot. I love the fast ramp to out of focus in the background and in the foreground. Just right for a cloudy, low contrast day.

I couldn't leave the subject of 135mm lens equivalents without giving the Zeiss Contax 135mm f2.8 a nod.

My parents had a blast on the trip. I shot a lot of film, including some color print varieties. I made them a book when we got back home. 4x6 inch snapshots tipped in on black paper and captioned with silver ink. They loved it. I thought of it this week because it was on my father's bookshelf and I found it as I was packing up his belongings. It's only a few dozen pages but it's such a nice souvenir...


So excited about the announcement of the new Apple Mac Pro......

Somewhere in Rome. Working on overcoming my innate shyness with strangers. 

For years both the Apple "faithful" and the PC know-it-alls have been screaming, crying and lamenting about all the things that Apple computers "lacked." Now Apple has announced a line of Mac Pros that provide stellar performance, fix all the short-comings and supply all the power and throughput that one could ever want. There's just one problem. They made a product that is far out of the reach of most of Apple's customer base of individual consumers. Certainly these new and pricey and powerful computers will soon populate the dimly lit editing bays of multi-national entertainment companies, the chic movie editing suites, the caves of the motion graphics experts and the gleaming towers of those who render mighty, mighty 3D CADs, but they will probably never grace the modest offices of the workaday photographer or the weekend photo-warriors.

It's not that these machines are too expensive, historically, it's just that like cameras we hit the point of computer processing power sufficiency for applications like Photoshop and Lightroom about four years ago with the widespread adoption of iMacs based around Intel i5 and i7 processors. The multicore versions, along with ample RAM run most studios pretty quickly and make imaging changes about as quickly as one can click a mouse or touch a pad. Now all we really need is faster, better and more ample storage.

I'd love to have one of the machines but I'd love to have one in the same way I'd love to have a medium format camera; not because I need one but for the bragging rights and the idea of having the very best in a category. Do I need a brand new medium format camera to shoot portraits and to document live theater? Not a chance. I've shot shows with one inch sensor cameras, full frame cameras and everything in between and I can honestly say it doesn't make a lick of difference. Could I process a folder of uncompressed raw files quicker with one of the new Apple Super Computers? Sure, but then I'd have no excuse to get up from my desk every once in a while and enjoy a cup of fresh coffee, or witty repartee with my peers.

I think I would be too intimidated owning a computer on which post production is so quick that it's over before I can even start.

But, if I did happen to win the lottery you probably know I'd rush out to buy a couple of the new Mac Pros, and a couple of those sexy new monitors to go with them. Then, like a good Texan I'd also buy new, tricked out pick-up trucks for me and the wife.....and the boy before hitting the ATM and heading to Las Vegas.

For now? I've got my eyes on a new 27 inch iMac (not the iMac Pro, just the iMac) sporting one of the newest i9 processors. Not because I need one but because i9 sounds so much better than i7, and infinitely better than i5......

I know, I know, you can buy all the parts you need to build your own PC for only $99 at the nearest 7/11 and you can put it all in a beige box nearly for free. I'll get back to you as soon as I finish building my own car......

Any body here really in the market for a Mac Pro? Just curious what your rationale might be.....


Fuji 90mm f2.0 lens seems to work pretty well.

The second lens I ever owned was a 135mm f2.8 Vivitar lens. It was a manual focus model made with a Canon FD mount. I used the crap out of that lens and I was amazed at some of the images I got with it. I took it along on a backpacking trip to Europe in 1978, along with my Canon TX SLR and spent the trip bouncing back and forth between the 135mm and my other (only other...) lens, a 50mm f1.8 FD lens. It was actually a great combo for me, the 135mm seemed like just the right focal length for so much stuff and that made the 50mm look, in comparison, like a wide angle. I never have really warmed up to anything wider than a 50mm on a full frame camera and I often wonder if that's because of my early experiences with the longer focal length...

When I bought into the Fuji X system I fooled myself for a while and pretended that I'd only buy and use three lenses, a wide to medium zoom, a 70-200mm equivalent zoom and a normal lens, like a 35mm f2.0 on that format. But, of course, all that fell by the wayside and I started ravaging my wallet for credit crumbs and buying lenses as though all the makers of cameras and lenses were going to cease production in the very near future. I wanted to be ready for the impending gear drought.

I hemmed and hawed about the 90mm f2.0 just because of its ruinous price. Then, one day I walked into Precision Camera to find that Fuji had certain lenses on sale and the 90mm was one of them. At $300 off it seemed like a bargain so I dusted off that last remaining credit card and bought one. I was slow to embrace it. I let it sit in a drawer for a few weeks before giving it a tentative audition. The results were good and I started including it in my regular kit, with every intention of using it for --- something.  I took it to some play rehearsals but it was always just the wrong focal length. A bit too long for groupings and a bit short for tight actor shots on stage. Dialing in a sweet spot for use of a focal length can be a tedious process after one has been dumbed down by the seeming fluidity of a zoom lens.

Finally, I was asked to shoot in conjunction with a TV commercial production at the theater and I once again packed the luxurious 90mm but I started to feel that I'd never find that "use window" that would justify my outlay for the product. I started the four hour shoot with the 16-55mm f2.8 lens but sometime in the middle of an action packed evening I reached into the Airport Security roller case and pulled out the 90mm. I attached it to an X-H1 body and set the aperture ring to f2.8, reputed to be the f-stop at which the lens reaches its highest level of optical performance. And I started clicking off carefully selected frames. 

The quad linear motors were fast and largely flawless. Working on a dark set with black all around people in small puddles of light the lens and camera combination rarely hunted and usually locked focus quickly and accurately. I started feeling the potential of the lens. At a 135-140mm equivalent the lens picks out details and single person shots with ease. I found that even after years of using zoom lenses as crutches I was still able to use my actual feet to move forward or backward as dictated by the constraints of my immovable frame.

If you are anything like me you operate with a vague feeling of uncertainty. You know that what you are shooting should be sharp and of high quality but you suffer from self-doubt. Am I getting anything good? Is it in focus? Is the lens/camera combination really sharp? Will I see the difference between a $1,000 prime and any number of under $100 "vintage" lenses when I get this stuff back to my computer. Have I been duped once again by a shiny sales pitch? A fact-y advertisement? Or is there real merit to this lens?

While I am still working my way towards the right frame of mind to provide the right frame of a frame for the 90mm I am finding more and more sharp and detailed images coming out of the shoots on which I press this long lens into service. It's nice. The stand off feels good. The ability to retreat a bit and frame things more graphically is wonderful and harkens back to everything I learned in early days. 

I'm now packing the 90mm in my bag no matter what the assignment or self-assignment. I'd like to think it a bit magical but I know that's the ads talking. The real magic just comes from my appreciation of the focal length and my relative ease at using it as opposed to lenses I actively dislike --- such as any 28mm equivalent. I am still startled by the cost because I am getting equally wonderful shots out of the 60mm f2.4 macro and I paid less than half as much for it. But then again, they are two different focal lengths and two different philosophical conversations. 

For me the happy thing was to get highly detailed shots of dancers. It made the lens feel like it was earning its keep.