Fuji X-T2 - Balloon Burst

I have been evaluating the MIOPS Smart Trigger and have been experimenting with the sound trigger feature.

I set up a small water-filled balloon with a Cactus RF60 Flash behind to backlight. The RF60 was triggered via a Cactus V6 II plugged into the MIOPS Smart.

I burst the balloon with a shot from an air gin.

The MIOPS Smart has done a good job of triggering the flash at about the right time. The gun was fired about 4 feet from the balloon which would have introduced a short delay.

Fuji X-T2 - Water Balloon Burst

This shot has caught an odd moment where the pellet can be seen entering the balloon but the burst has not kicked in

Fuji X-T2 - Water Balloon - Just before the burst.

Fuji X-T2 - MIOPS Smart - Examples

The MIOPS Smart Trigger can be set up to trigger a Flash Gun when a sound is detected. I set up a test for the MIOPS Smart Trigger this evening with a single Cactus RF60x Flashgun and some party poppers (The small plastic capsules that fire streamers)

Flash and MIOPS Setup

I connected the Flash gun directly to the MIOPS Smart via the connection cable and angled the flash head up and towards the X-T2. The X-T2 was set to take a 5 second exposure and the room had to be dark to ensure no ambient exposure.

I triggered the camera and fired the popper from a position around 6 inches above the flash gun.

Example exposures

The MIOPS Smart allows adjustments to how loud the sound needs to be to initiate a trigger and any delay between detecting the sound and triggering.

I experimented with delays of between no delay and 30ms for the shots shown below.

With no delay set the MIOPS has captured the streamers almost before they have begun to unravel.

Please excuse the soft focusing through the range of images. This was a quick timing test and I was not paying too much attention on the depth of field. 

MIOPS Smart Trigger (no delay) Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (no delay)
Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (5ms delay) Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (5ms delay)
Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (15ms delay) Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (15ms delay)
Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (30ms) Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

MIOPS Smart Trigger (30ms)
Fuji X-T2 - High Speed Photography - Party Popper

Fuji X-T2 - Trigger Trap Vs MIOPS - Sound Triggering

Trigger Trap Alternative

Trigger Trap recently announced the news that they are going out of business. I have been a long running user of the Trigger Trap system and participated in the early Beta Testing of the product.

One feature that I particularly liked was Trigger Traps ability to trigger a flash gun when a sound was made. This allowed for some creative captures for example when a water filled balloon is burst and captured at high speed (short flash duration)

I did some research for similar products and contacted the folks at MIOPS who where kind enough to supply me with a MIOPS Smart Trigger to review and compare.

I thought I would initially evaluate the MIOPS Smart Sound Trigger feature compared to my Trigger Trap Solution

Ping Pong Ball Bounce Test

I decided to set up a simple bounce test to compare the lag of the Trigger Trap Vs the MIOPS Smart.

Trigger Trap Setup

I connected the Trigger Trap Dongle to my iPhone SE via the Headphone Socket and to my Cactus RF60 Flash via the Trigger Trap Flash Adaptor 

I set the X-T2 to take a 5 second exposure and the Trigger Trap Mobile App to Trigger when a sound is detected. I turned the lights out in the room to avoid any ambient exposure and dropped the ping pong ball from two feet.

As the ball hits the matt it triggers the RF60 which freezes the ball in flight. The height of the rebound corresponds to the lag between the sound of the impact and the flash firing.

Trigger Trap Sound Trigger - Test Photo

Ping Pong Ball Bounce Test - Ball dropped from two feet - Trigger Trap

Ping Pong Ball Bounce Test - Ball dropped from two feet - Trigger Trap

MIOPS Smart Setup

The MIOPS Smart connects to flash via a PC Sync lead. I don't have this port on my Cactus RF60 so had to grab a hot shoe adapter from Amazon (I went for a JJC JSC-9 which works fine)

I set up the sound mode on the MIOPS to 'listen' for noise and set the sensitivity down to around 50%.

It is useful to set lock mode on to prevent the MIOPS from triggering every time the ball bounces rather than just the one time.

As with the Trigger Trap I set up in a dark room with the X-T2 taking a 5 second exposure. 

MIOPS Smart Sound Trigger Test Photo

Ping Pong Ball Bounce Test - Ball dropped from two feet - MIOPS Smart

Ping Pong Ball Bounce Test - Ball dropped from two feet - MIOPS Smart

Conclusion

I realize that this is a rather un-scientific test but from this initial test you can clearly see that the MIOPS Smart fires the Flash with significantly less lag. The Ping Pong Ball has not cleared the top of the base of the measure.

I will be continuing to test and review the MIOPS trigger in the coming days and will post my efforts.

 

 

Fuji X-T2 - MIOPS Smart Trigger

I recently got hold of a MIOPS Smart Trigger for my Fuji X-T2. I plan to do some tests with this devices in the coming days and compare this option to the Trigger Trap System for Fuji. 

The MIOPS Smart Trigger looks to be a full featured device that should be able to replicate and exceed the capabilities of Trigger Trap especially for sound triggered photographs.

Fuji X-T2 - 10 Stop Neutral Density Filters

Hoya 77mm Pro ND 1000

The Neutral Density Filter is used to uniformly reduce the amount of light that reaches the Camera Sensor. In the case of the Hoya 77mm Pro ND 1000 that's ten stops of light (NOTE: en stops, 3.0 density, 1000x and #110 all refer to the same extreme density)

Each Stop of light reduction is equal to a doubling of exposure time which equates to an unfiltered shutter speed of 1/100th being increased to 10 seconds. 

Fuji X-T2 10-24mm - Hoya 77mm Pro ND 1000
30 Second Exposure

Focusing

The Fuji X-T2 does a pretty good job of focusing when an ND filter is attached. I have found that with exposures up to around the 30 second mark the camera can 'see' enough to lock.

It is however generally a good idea to compose and focus before attaching the Filter. This is perfectly practical with a screw on filter on a prime lens but care needs to be taken with Zooms as the focus can be effected easily as you attach the filter. It may be safer to check focus with manual focus and focus peaking after screwing on an ND filter in this case.

You might find a filter system to be a better choice as it is easier to add and remove the filter from the filter holder (see the Lee Filter System later in this article)

Screw on Vs Square Filters

There are a couple of options to consider when choosing an ND filter. Screw on type such as the Hoya 77mm Pro ND 1000 or 'Square' Filters such as the 100mx100m Lee filters.

Screw-on Filters

The Advantage with the Screw on Type is size. I have an iGadgitz case which can hold up to three 77mm sized filters. I tend to use this for the Hoya 77mm Pro ND 1000 and a selection of step-up rings.

Square Filter Systems

The Advantage of a Square System such as the 100mm filter system by Lee Filters is that it is easy to add and remove filters. The Filter Holders have spaces for 3 square filters. It is possible to stack ND filters and/or add graduated Filters.

It is sometimes helpful when taking very long exposures to 'balance' the scene with a Graduated ND filter. This means that you can capture the scene in one shot rather than having to bracket for foreground and sky. Not much of an issue for a 30 second exposure but painful if you are exposing for 5 minutes.

The iGadgitz compared to the Lee Soft-Case

The iGadgitz compared to the Lee Soft-Case

iGadgitz has space for up to 3 77mm filters.

iGadgitz has space for up to 3 77mm filters.

Step-Up Rings

It is an idea to buy your ND filter in a size to fit your largest lens. This way you can save money by buying Step-Up Rings to adapt the 77mm thread to various lens sizes. 

Some Challenges

  • The Camera can't calculate correct exposures above 30 seconds so you will need to do some math (or utilise a handy phone App such as NDTimer (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ndtimer/id390568001?mt=8) 

  • The ND filters can add some color casts to the photograph. These are fairly easy to remove in Post Processing but should be taken into account. 
  • Internal reflections of light can cause some un-wanted effects. This is more common with the square systems where there is a space between the filter and the lens
  • Vignetting can sometime occur when using wide angle lenses. The only answer in this case is to zoom in slightly or edit in post.

Examples

Here are two example JPGs taken with the Fuji X-T2 showing the difference in color cast between the Hoya ND filter and the Lee 'Big Stopper' 

Fuji X-T2 and 10-24mm Lens
Hoya 77mm Pro ND 1000 - Note the natural color of the late evening sky

Fuji X-T2 and 10-24mm Lens
LEE Filters LEE 'Big Stopper' 100x100 - Note the blue color cast

Shopping

You can check out the products mentioned on Amazon

Trigger Trap to Close

I was sad to hear today that Trigger Trap are to close. Trigger Trap make a selection of excellent Camera and Flash Triggers. Although they will no longer be supporting the product you can still purchase mobile kits for your camera system while stock lasts. I recommend taking a look as this versatile system is great fun to use for creative photography

Trigger Trap Shop

Edit:

I have been researching alternative products in response to a number of requests and am currently looking at the MIOPS  product. I hope to have a review of this option on my site in the coming weeks.

Photography Podcasts

Photography Podcasts

There are a number of excellent Photography related Podcasts out there and I've listed a collection of shows that I listen to with brief descriptions and links to the show sites.

 

This week in Photography (TWIP)

TWIP is a mainstay of my Photography Podcast listening. It is hosted by the personable Frederick Van Johnson and has grown over the years into a full network of top quality shows. These shows are well worth checking out and the diversity of subject matter and presenters mean that there is something here for everybody. 

 

 

Tips from the Top Floor (TFTTF)

Chris Marquardt has been running a Photography Podcast for longer than anyone in the game.

Chris is based in Germany but his TFTTF podcast is presented in English. Chris is entertaining and covers some interesting topics on his show. He includes a Q&A section and seems to generally answer submitted questions within around 1-2 weeks of user submission.

Chris has a 'chatty' style of presentation which may not be to everyone's tastes. I have found that playing back the podcast at either 1.5 or 2x speed works better for me.

Chris also runs Photography Workshops and shares experiences from these in his excellent shows.

Petapixel Photography Podcast

Mike 'Sharky' James Podcast is great for up-to-the minute Photography news. You will find a number of his news stories repeated by other pod casters.

The Petapixel site is a great source.

Sharky has an entertaining presentation style and puts in a significant amount of work for each show which shows in the delivery.

The PetaPixel Photography Podcast is a twice-weekly podcast about the wonderful world of photography. It’s a fusion of news, opinions, humor, and real-world experience, bundled into a show that you can listen to on your way to work

FroKnowsPhoto

The Improve Photography Podcast is hosted by Jim Harmer and features a weekly round table discussion on all genres of photography. Jared Polins RAW Talk Podcast (Audio and Video) is the Marmite of the Photography Podcast world. (You either love it or hate it)

Jared 'Fro' Polin has worked hard to establish an on-line presence and has built a professional show that frequently features high profile interviews

The show is angled towards entertainment and contains frequent course humour. The News round up consists mostly of Jared and teams spin on the Petapixel news articles of the week which is often entertaining. The shows run long (1+ hours)

Jared and team work hard on the content and maintain high production values. The show has recently moved from weekly to every 2 weeks but there is a wealth of video content available on Jareds YouTube channel.

Addtional Photography Podcasts

There are some additional Podcasts that I listen to occasionally that you might  also like to check out 

Photofocus

Scott Bourne runs a regular Photography Podcast in the form of Photofocus. I have never been a particular fan of Scott but the podcast airs regularly and he and his team run a professional show

Improve Photography

The Improve Photography Podcast is hosted by Jim Harmer and features a weekly round table discussion on all genres of photography. 

The Martin Bailey Photography Podcast

Martin hosts a regular show  often featuring inspirational content from his highly rated workshops.  Martin is an expert in color management and printing and his shows often include in-depth information on this subject. 

The Art of Photography

Ted Forbes hosts the Art of Photography Podcast which airs regularly. He has developed his content into a YouTube Channel which is worth subscribing to

 

Fuji X-T2 - Fuji Velvia Film Simulation - Tower Bridge

I started a new job in January and my new journey in to London has given me the opportunity to explore some new areas. I took the Fuji X-T2 to London Bridge at dawn to capture the sunrise over the iconic Tower Bridge.

I utilised the Fuji Velvia Film Simulation option to create some punchy, high saturation images of the colorful sunrise.

Fuji X-T2 and 18-135mm - Tower Bridge at Sunrise

Luminosity Masks

The bright orange of the dawn sky created a silhouette of the bridge and HMS Belfast. I decided to blend two bracketed exposures together in Photoshop to bring some detail back into the shadows. I used the exposures below, opening them as layers in Photoshop and using a luminosity mask to blend them. 

I use Photoshop actions developed by Jimmy McIntyre to create a range of masks which can be applied to the image. I recommend checking out his tutorials for more information.

I took a number of images around Tower Bridge and made sure to capture the famous Girl and Dolphin fountain on the North Bank of the Thames.

Girl and Dolphin
Fuji X-T2 and 10-24mm - Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Girl and Dolphin and Tower Bridge
Fuji X-T2 and 10-24mm - Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Tower Bridge
Fuji X-T2 and 10-24mm - Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

Tower Bridge
Fuji X-T2 and 10-24mm - Fuji Velvia Film Simulation

How Robust is your camera?

Condensation Prevention?

I've read a few articles recently that warn of the dangers of damaging your camera equipment when taking it from a cold environment into a warm one. The difference in temperature and humidity can cause condensation to form.

I don't see a big problem with the front lens element fogging up but some people have mentioned condensation forming on the inside of a lens and even on the camera sensor itself!

I couldn't find a definitive answer to the question on how important it is to be aware of this issue. Many people seem to suggest that a camera should be sealed in a zip-loc or similar bag and allowed to warm up to room temperature before being removed!

I regularly listen to the excellent Tips from the Top Floor Podcast by Chris Marquardt and decided to send in this question to his show. Click here for a link to the episode and his response.

 

 

 

Fuji X-T2 - Traffic Trail Tip - Blending Multiple Photos

Regents Street Traffic Trails

One trick that I like to use when photographing Traffic Trails is to blend multiple exposures into a single frame. The result is a composite photograph that features the best of the light trails from the individual images.

The three photographs shown below are JPGs taken in Fuji Velvia Film Simulation mode on my Fuji X-T2 and the location is London's Regents Street.

I mounted the X-T2 on a tripod and framed a composition to capture the beautiful Christmas lights and the road and buildings to the side of the central reservation.

I took three images with the same exposure settings (f22, 8.5-9 seconds) and aimed to capture interesting traffic trails for both sides of the frame.

Regents Street presents many challenges due to the busy traffic and high number of pedestrians passing through the frame. The sequence of the traffic lights meant that rarely was traffic moving on both sides of the frame at the same moment so separately timed exposures were necessary.

I wanted to keep some light in the sky and as I didn't plan on using an ND filter I was limited to fairly short (around 9 second) exposures as minimum aperture of f22.

I opened all three JPG's as layers in Adobe Photoshop. Selected them all and changed the layer blend mode to 'lighten' you can see this step in the vide clip below

Adobe Photoshop Layer Blending

The resulting image is shown here with no additional editing

Fuji X-T2 - Traffic Trails - Three Photo Composite using 'Lighten' Blend mode in Photoshop

Photoshop has done a good job of blending. The Traffic Trails are better than I was able to capture on a single 9 second exposure.

I think that the color version looks a little busy so have converted to black and white in NIK Silver Efex Pro and used the transform tool in Adobe Lightroom to straighten the tomb-stoning of the buildings. A 16x9 crop brings more focus to the Angel Lights.

Hidden Gems

I was inspired by the Winning Photograph from the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition to look back over some old photographs that I took in Brighton

I found a couple of photographs of the starlings and their evening murmuration which I had previously pretty much over-looked and hadn't processed. I think the shots are OK and I'm not sure why I didn't process them at the time.

It is always worth taking a look back over your photographic history. Technology improves all the time as do your processing skills and you never know what you might find. The worst case is that you will get a stroll down memory lane.

Starling Murmuration in Brighton, UK

The remains of the pier at Bright, UK

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016

Big congratulations to Matthew Cattell, who is the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016 and the tenth holder of the title.

Matthew was the overall winner with his image of Brighton, entitled 'Starling Vortex'. Awards founder and head judge, Charlie Waite said “The sense of movement is palpable in Matthew’s photograph and you really feel what it would have been like to stand beside him. The starlings seem to be swirling around the iconic remains of Brighton’s West Pier in a manner reminiscent of the tornado in the Wizard of Oz. A judicious choice of shutter speed suits both birds and water. An intriguing image.” 

Matthew Cattell, who is the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016

Travel Photography - The Golden 'Rush' Hour (Part I)

Dawn

It’s 4:30am in the morning and I am in a self-catering cottage on the Isle of Skye Scotland… It’s dark as I scramble around pulling on layers of clothing trying desperately not to disturb my wife who is sleeping peacefully.

Many of you will be familiar with this scenario, especially Landscape Photographers who worship the light of the ‘golden hours’ that shines when sensible people are either fast asleep or sitting down to dinner!

Photography on a family vacation is going to require compromises. Partners and children may wait patiently for you to take your photographs (unlikely) but you need to remember that this is their vacation as well as yours.

I have learned to utilise the hours around dawn as a window for my vacation photography. There can be 2, 3 or even 4 hours of good photography to have before breakfast. I usually don't get an opportunity to return to bed at the end of the mornings shoot which means that in any 5 day vacation I might just manage 1 or 2 mornings out shooting or risk exhaustion :)

In this article I'll run through a single mornings photography from a vacation to Skye in Scotland

The Golden 'Rush Hour'

I was staying on the Peinchorran peninsular and the map to the left shows my car journey on this particular morning as I rushed around the area to capture photographs at various locations.

Good dawn light can be fleeting and it is generally not a good idea to spend the morning tearing around the area trying to find an interesting scene while hoping that the light will play ball. There are however some steps you can take to improve your chances of capitalising on the photographic window.

The first thing to do is to avoid disturbing your sleeping family as you leave your accommodation.

Plan Ahead - Make sure that you have suitable clothing and your camera gear for the morning prepared ahead of time and ideally located in a room away from the bedrooms.

Silent Alarm - I have a Fitbit band and find that the 'Silent Alarm' feature is very useful for waking me up without disturbing my wife.

Light in the darkness - Obviously don't go around turning on all the lights. I have found a head torch to be useful and the flashlight built into mobile phones works well and is not too bright.

Peinchorran Peninsular

Get out before dawn - Having successfully left the cottage before dawn I followed the road along the Peninsular. I could not resist stopping and taking some photographs over the water in the pre-dawn light. The blue hours can result in some interesting and tranquil scenes.

Peinchorran peninsular  on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Watch the Weather - I keep a close eye on weather forecasts to select the optimum days for heading out. 'WeatherPro' on the iPhone seems to be generally accurate for 24 hour forecasting and 'Dark Sky' is good for minute by minute predictions for rain starting and stopping in the area.

Peinchorran peninsular  on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Plan Locations - I frequently use 'The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE)' to help me plan locations. This excellent App displays a map with indicators for the direction, times and angles for the sun (and moon) throughout the day. There is also an interesting add-on available in the form of 'Skyfire' which predicts the likelihood of a colorful sunrise or sunset for given map locations. I have not used it extensively but it seemed to work the few times that I tried it out and is worth checking out the free trial.

Peinchorran peninsular  on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

It can be hard to predict that a morning will produce any dramatic light and the uncertainty can easily lead to hitting the snooze button on those dark mornings. There is an element of luck and chance and even un-promising looking days can surprise.

Peinchorran peninsular  on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

As the color in the sky faded I decided to continue my drive.

Research - I had checked out some likely locations before the trip. I find that 500px is an excellent resource for ideas and inspiration. I planned on heading North towards the iconic Old Man of Storr to try and capture it's reflection in the nearby Loch Leathan.

The early morning light was still good and passing showers added some interest to the sky. I parked my car by the roadside and found my way down to the waters edge where I was buzzed by midges and soaked by a passing rain shower.

The three rowing boats were drifting about in the morning breeze but lined up nicely as the sun broke through the clouds. This is one of my favorite shots from the trip.

Three Boats - Loch Leathan, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I stopped for a wider shot of Loch Leathan as I headed back to the car. The breeze was building by this point but the reflection of the distant mountains is still interesting.

Three Boats - Loch Leathan, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I was keen to take advantage of the decent morning weather and as I drove South I decided to continue down to the Bridge at Sligachan for some further Photography. 

The morning light was getting past it's best by the time that I arrived at Sligachan but you can't be in all places at once.

The Black Cullin Mountains, Sligachan - Isle of Skye, Scotland

In Summary

 I wonder if I made the right choices with taking on three locations. I think that the order that I visited them was probably right for the type of image and lighting.

Had I been at Loch Leathan or Sligachan in the moments before and after sunrise I would have captured some quite different and possibly better images. The compromises of available time and good weather led me to the decision to rush around the area for 3.5 hours on this day. Overall I am pleased with the photos from the morning.

I returned to the cottage at around 9:00am in time for breakfast. I showered and went out hiking with my wife for the day.