Friday, 29 April 2016

Peak Design Straps

Peak Design straps - 'Slide' (top) - 'Slide Lite' (middle) - 'Leash' (bottom)
I've been using a variety of Peak Design camera straps for nearly two years now and I have to be honest in saying I wouldn't use any other strap on my cameras.  

I recently added the Peak Design Slide Lite for my X-Pro2.  This is a slightly thinner version of the 'Slide' and I feel it is better suited to the Fujifilm X-Series cameras than the larger item.  I do use both on the X-T1 and X-Pro2 and are very secure in operation.  I use them across my body so the camera hangs down by my side and can be lifted into the shoot position very easily.

I also have two 'leash' straps and one 'cuff' wrist strap so I am very well covered for the four cameras that I currently have in my camera bag.

The beauty of the Peak Design system is they are comfortable in use, easy to adjust and can be removed or anchored on different points on the camera body or telephoto lens with one hand using the unique anchoring system.  The anchors have been upgraded to make them more resistant to wear after a couple of failures a few years back, but I have never had an issue with the durability of the Peak Design anchors or straps.

For more information on Peak Design CLICK HERE. This is a US site but Peak Design is available to buy through UK stockists such as WEX Photographic HERE

Peak Design anchors
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In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wild Primula's in Tyningham Woods



I went for a walk down to the Tyne Estuary today to take in the glorious spring sunshine before the Arctic weather returns tomorrow.  

While walking through the woods to the beach I spotted some wild Primulas growing in the trees beautifully lit by the strong sunlit filtering down through the branches over head.  So I stopped to take a few shots on the X-Pro2 and XF100-400mm.  



This super telephoto zoom lens is surprisingly good at focusing close in on the flowers and all of these shots are full frame, none of them are cropped.




I also used the same lens and camera combination to capture a few shots down by the beach.

The next MacLean Photographic Woodland Exploration workshop will take place on Sunday 22 May - more details HERE








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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sake Bottle


I've been saving this 1/2 bottle of Sake I bought in January in Kyoto for a special occasion and my wife's birthday was a good time to crack open the rice wine.

I bought the bottle of Sake in Nishiki Market during our visit to Kyoto at the end of the trip to Japan with Fujifilm to launch the new X-Pro2 and celebrate 5 years of the X-Series.

Before I cracked the bottle I decided that I needed to photograph it first.  The beautiful smoked glass, with the pink colouring to the bottom half of the bottle, along with the beautiful label just needed to be photographed.

I used an LED panel behind the bottle to show off the texture and colours in the glass and then used a low power flash to light the label.  The image was taken on the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and the XF35mm f1.4 with a 10mm extension tube to enable me to fill the frame.


And the Sake?  Yes it was very nice and was gone the same evening.  It was a sweet rice wine, served at room temperature.  Next time I am in Kyoto I might buy a couple of bottles :)

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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Monday, 25 April 2016

John Muir Stone Stacking Competition


On Saturday, as the birthplace of the famous national park pioneer, poet and environmentalist, Dunbar celebrated John Muir's birthday with a series of events.  

One of them was a stone stacking competition on the town's East Beach.  I wandered down to get some shots of the finished stacks as the tide was coming in.

As well as the colourful, and gravity defying stacks that lined the tide line, there were stalls and live music to keep visitor entertained.  

All of the images were taken on the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and the XF16-55mm f2.8 or XF50-140mm f2.8 lenses.










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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Sunday, 24 April 2016

REVIEW: Get a Grip of the X-Pro2


As regular readers of this blog know I have been putting the X-Pro2 through its paces in various sporting challenges, which the newest member of the X-Series family has been meeting and surpassing expectations.  

Now using the XF50-140mm f2.8 and XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 on the rangefinder style camera has not been an issue except for the handling, I have found there isn't enough grip on the camera when using the bigger lenses and I found myself hankering after the X-T1 and it's large battery grip.  So I decided to look at the only option available for the X-Pro2, the MHG-XPRO2 hand grip.




At £99 this might seem a lot for what is essentially a metal plate but this piece of metal transforms the X-Pro2 when using long lenses as the handgrip is enlarged sufficiently for my big hands.  



The MHG-XPRO2 has a cut out so you can access the battery without taking the grip off the camera, as was the case with the original metal grip for the X-Pro1, and another nice touch is the inclusion of the built in Swiss-Arca adapter, so if you are using a Swiss-Arca head on your tripod you don't need to fit a quick release plate.  If you don't use a Swiss-Arca head, the good news is the quick release plate shouldn't cover up any part of the battery compartment (my Manfrotto quick release plates work fine).



Now I have received some messages saying that adding all these items to the X-Series goes against the original ethos of the Compact System Camera, they say it should be small and light.  Well I point out the word 'System' in the title.  The MHG-XPRO2 is removable and I can go out with just the camera and an 18mm f2 or 36mm f1.4 if I wish - small and light.  However if I need the long lenses and grips I can.  Now I don't agree or disagree with these messages, I just think you should use your camera system the way you wish to use it and I will use it the way I need to to earn my living.

The X-Series offers the best of both worlds and we should use them the way we need to for our work.  Even fully bulked up, the X-Series is still smaller and lighter than the equivalent DSLR and my entire kit of three camera bodies, nine lenses and accessories weighs 11.7kg.

Anyway I can highly recommend the MHG-XPRO2 for anyone needing a grip for their X-Pro2.  It is well made, as you'd expect from Fujifilm, and adds that extra profile to the camera that improves the ergonomics, especially when using the longer telephoto lenses.


X-Pro2 without the MHG-PRO2 Grip Fitted
X-Pro2 with the MHG-PRO2 Grip Fitted
X-Pro2
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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'




Saturday, 23 April 2016

Headlights


This was a picture I took in the pitlane during scrutineering for last weekend's 6 Hours of Silverstone, the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.  

Taken on the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF50-140mm f2.8 it is the rain covered headlight of the new Ford GT.  The triple yellow lights contrast nicely with the bright blue and white bodywork of the car.  

I ran the image through NIK Analog EFEX in post processing to give a more chromatic feel to the image.


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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Friday, 22 April 2016

Photographing Gannets in Flight with X-Pro2 and 100-400mm



The annual migration of Gannets to Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth has been described as one of the natural wonders of the world.  150,000 Northern Gannets nest on the lump of rock sticking out of the Firth and is a spectacle we can see from the end of our road here in Dunbar everyday during the spring through to the autumn.

Yesterday evening I head out to Seacliff beach which is the closest point to The Bass with many of the Gannets feeding in the waters just off the beach.  I stood on top of the Gegan, a small outcrop of rock looking right out to Bass Rock. The Gannets were flying past me at eye level or even below and I set about capturing some images of the birds in flight using the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 lens.




The Gannet might be a big bird but it can move extremely quickly.  Even shooting down on the birds from my rocky perch, the AF proved to be more than up for the challenge of photographing the birds in flight against a busy background of chopping seas or bright blue sky.  

A busy background can sometimes confuse the autofocus and cause it to lose the lock on the subject.  This did happen on a couple of occasions but it wasn't anything to worry about and the AF performed a lot better than I expected it to in the conditions.

I had the X-Pro2 set on AF-C, Zone focusing, 8fps drive and manual exposure of 1/1000s @ f6.4 ISO800.

All images were shot on the X-Pro2 and XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 lens.






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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Thursday, 21 April 2016

What is a Professional Photographer?


As a working photographer, as well as the FIA Media Delegate for the World Endurance Championship, I am regularly asked how did I become a professional motorsport photographer and how do they become one to.  

I suppose it all comes down to your definition of professional and what it means to your clients.  Some people think it is just getting paid to take photographs.  While that is partially true, for me being 'professional' is conducting yourself and your business in an acceptable manner that other businesses will respect.  It also means that you are able to produce the images required by your client to exacting standards again and again and usually to strict deadlines.  There are plenty of part time photographers working the circuits who have day jobs as well but they also conduct themselves in a professional manner, so it's not just about being full time.

On Wednesday evening I was watching the latest episode of Masterchef and there were five amateur cooks who were given a task of working in one of London's top restaurants producing a five course taster menu, with each contestant producing a dish from scratch for 30 people.  They had to prepare the ingredients, cook it to order and make sure the presentation was spot on before it was sent for 'service'.  Each of the contestants had said they had never done anything like that before, they had just cooked for friends and family.  It was certainly interesting watching how they coped with the pressures. They could all cook to a high standard, but they had never done it in a professional environment.  And this is the same for photography.

There are many photographers who can take brilliant images and sometimes they produce an image that will rival the best professional photographers.  Now most of these photographers have excellent kit and produce images that their friends and family say are great and that the photographer should turn professional.  Now this is where the similarity between the Masterchef story and photography takes shape.   Could they take excellent images on demand again and again, as is required in a professional environment?  I think we'd see beads of sweat breaking out on the foreheads of most these photographers.

There are some people who think that buying a professional level camera will suddenly transform them into a professional photographer and they will be bringing in the clients and the money.  Uh, no!   Hanging the biggest Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Sony, Hasselblad, Pentax etc around your neck doesn't make you a pro anymore than buying the best tennis racket suddenly makes you a rival for Andy Murray.  A camera is a tool and it the person who is pressing the buttons who takes the image, not the camera.

The myth is that all motorsport photographers stand next to a track with a long lens, take a few shots, head back to the media centre, edit the shots and post them.  Job done!  Well some people might work that way but the real pro photographers don't.  Most photographers are working for one big client or several small ones at the event.  They have various deadlines to meet,  for example the official photographers for the World Endurance Championship have to provide thousands of images of cars, drivers, entertainment, branding, photo calls, all over a four day period.  

Now the amateur photographer may take 1-2 days to edit some of their better shots from the weekend.  The pro photographers has to edit and make available in excess of 100 to exact standards from each track session and then be out there shooting some marketing images or attend a photocall for a new team or other such shoot.  It is not unusual for a photographer to work 18-20 hours per day on event. 

Now you can see why I was using the Masterchef episode as an example.  The pressures on full time professional photographers are intense.

Also when I work trackside and the sun is shining, I usually get talking to a fan with a good camera on the other side of the fence.  The conversation usually turns to the fan saying 'I'd love to do your job..' but it only happens when the sun is shining.  If it is pouring with rain that conversation has never happened - I wonder why?  A professional sports photographer has to work in all conditions; you can't pack up and go home if it is raining.

Recently I have seen a few 'wannabe' motorsport photographers, there were a couple at Silverstone at the weekend, who decided that they wanted to be more than a fan with a media pass.  The reality of actually doing a professional job really shocked them.  They had no idea that the job can be so intense and demanding.  

Over the years, in my media delegate role I have given a lot of photographers their first opportunity to work in the 'big leagues'.  Some have taken the opportunity with both hands and worked hard, others have been blinded by the 'bright lights' of working on a top level event and wasted the chance.  Some have soon realised that the job is very hard and they have decided it isn't for them but there are others who are now working for some top clients in the paddock today.

So the next time you see a professional sports photographer working at the side of the pitch, next to the track or any other sport, just think that their job is not just about taking a few pictures in a really cool location.  Their work is hard and their clients demanding but they have built up their skill set so they can produce the standard of image the client requires time after time after time and not just one or two lucky shots.

Don't get me wrong, we all have to start somewhere.  I honed my skills attending low level motorsport events as a spectator at Donington Park and Mallory Park before I even got the chance of a media pass.  There are plenty of photographers who are, even now, treading this well worn route, serving their apprenticeship so to speak.  However there are some who think they don't need to bother with this and they can jump straight into the top level, whether it is WEC or Formula One.  Boy, do they get a shock and they soon come down to earth with a bump.

Sports photography is not a quick way to earning a living; it is tough! You need a variety of skills to run a successful business.  You have to be a people person, there is plenty of networking you have to do, you have to do your own marketing, you have to be an accountant and, of course, you have to take decent pictures.  But taking decent pictures on its own will not make you a professional photographer, you need the other skills as well.  And on top of this there are plenty of people who are thinking the same and usually working for free undercutting all the guys trying to make a living - but that is another sore subject.  However the free togs don't usually last long but it is tough to earn a living from sports photography.

If you want to be a professional sports photographer then please go for it but be 'professional' in all aspects from day one. Don't be a 'fan with a camera' and don't give your work away for free.  Once you get a reputation for giving your images for free it is hard to recover.  If you can put up with the hard work and long hours it can be very rewarding but it certainly isn't a quick or easy way to earn a living.

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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'






Tuesday, 19 April 2016

X-Pro2 Video for First WEC Press Conference of 2016




On Sunday the FIA World Endurance Championship held its first race of the 2016 season, the 6 Hours of Silverstone, in the UK.  It was my first opportunity to shoot a press conference video on the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 as I normally shoot these videos on the X-T1.

As usual there were two post race press conferences, the first for the top three overall finishers and the second for the class winners.  The top 3 press conference featured the winning no7 Audi crew of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer, the second placed crew from Porsche and the third placed crew from Toyota. 

Here is a LINK to the video on the official FIAWEC YouTube channel

However four hours after the press conference took place the no7 Audi was excluded for failing to pass the post race technical checks.

The second press conference featured the winning LMGTE Manufacturer Ferrari and the winning crew of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon, the winning LMP1 Privateer crew, the LMP2 winners - Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque and Ricardo Gonzalez - and the LMGTE Am winners.




I shot the videos in 720P rather than 1080P due to the time constraints built into the X-Pro2.  A 1080P video can be up to 14 minutes long whereas a 720P video can be 27 minutes long and the press conferences can sometimes exceed 15 minutes.  So to be on the safe side, and because the video will be streamed online, I always shoot in 720P.

The X-Pro2 video mode seems to be a lot cleaner than the ones shot on the X-T1 and my first impressions are very positive.




The still images were shot on a Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF90mm f2 lens.

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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'