Creative Camera Tethering With The New Alien Skin X4 Software

If you have ever thought about tethering your camera to your computer and it seemed like a difficult process, especially with Adobe and other programs, then you need to look at these videos.  You may question why you would want to tether and have your images come up in your software and you may think it is only for people doing portrait shoots but that is not correct.  It makes a great tool for doing in-house product shoots, in-house artful shoots, and with Alien Skin X4 you can also shoot in several different presets at the same time so you can see what creative film look works best for your images.  It is not just for Fuji as it will work for almost all cameras.  Check it out on Alien Skins website below.


Alien Skin X4 was recently released and has a great many features that should appeal to very creative photographers and yes even those who are not so creative.  The best thing you can do is go directly to their website if you want to learn more and even download a 30-day trial.

Is it a viable alternative to the popular subscription only Lightroom CC Classic.  Yes, it is and it is not a subscription which is really nice.  It has layers, folders, collections, tons of presets and filters with what many have said and I agree, the best film presets ever produced. Tons of them.

Take so time to learn something new by downloading their trial copy. RIGHT HERE.



RAW Files: Digital Manifestations of the Emperor’s New Clothes

A battle of sorts is raging throughout the photography communities. Jpeg Vs Raw files as a final step is what the battle is about.

Raw files, I think by now, are known for containing a lot more data than a Jpeg file and to extract that data special software such as Luminar, Aurora, On1 Photo Raw, Alien Skin, now X4, and of course Adobe Lightroom. The data can be manipulated into whatever vision you choose. Whatever you do to get the image you want will not hurt the data in anyway.

Jpeg files are baked in. The camera software takes care of everything needed to give us an image and in most cases a very acceptable image that can be used with virtually no manipulation. In reality you do not want to manipulate Jpeg too much because it will degrade the data in the image.

Fujifilm X cameras happen to produce exceptional Jpeg files and it can do that with a variety of alterable film simulations for a variety of different film looks. They are pretty darn good. What I like is the fact that I can load a Jpeg file into most softwares and save that Jpeg as a preset to preserve the look the camera gave it with a film simulation and then apply that preset to the normally flat Raw file. It works and really makes final processing a lot easier. My favorite software for doing that is Alien Skin and Luminar 2018, soon to be 2019.

In this unique explanation of what they are and how RAW files work, see how they are the equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes,
— Read on


Every year people with all sorts of cameras having waited for one of the most wonderfully colorful and crisp seasons rush out into the world to create some spectacular images. While I will more than likely do the same this year, I also wanted to take a look back at lots of images to give myself the inspiration to get my butt out there once again on the chance that there is something going to happen that I have not seen before. Today I use Fuji X camera gear but over the years I have worked with several different camera systems.  Most of the images in this gallery were taken with Fuji cameras but there are some that were shot with Nikon, Pentax and Olympus.  I have never used a camera system that I did not like.  They have all been great pieces of technology and have made my photographic endeavors very pleasurable.  Today I travel as light as possible and own a Fuji X pro 2 camera and three prime lenses. 23mm,35mm and 50m, all 2.0 lenses.  The whole system is light, compact, and weather sealed, and on any given day my total package to go out with is no more than 6 pounds total and that includes the aforementioned gear, 4 batteries, 2 extra cards, cleaning stuff, cable release.  I may throw a flash in my pocket should I need a touch more light. 🙂 and there is always a small lightweight tripod in the trunk of my car. The same goes for software.  Software today is greatly improved over what was available many years ago and while the packages offer pretty much the same basic controls there are some that provide a lot more creative control and it is not unusual for a photographer to work with several softwares to create the look they want to achieve.  For the most part I cannot tell you what was processed with what and unless I look at my Exif data I couild not tell you what camera or lens I used. Today my software includes an Adobe subscription which I may stop but maybe not.  Then there are three creative packages. One is the Skylum Luminar. Another is Alein Skin X3, and a third, but not used often is Skylum Aurora Hdr. I use Adobe subscription that includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC Cloud based, and Lightroom Mobile CC for the Ipad Pro.  The only reason I use it is because it is the only software company that provides a complete “eco” system.  What does that mean?  It means that if I am working on my Ipad Pro and processing images, everything I do will be saved to the Adobe Creative Cloud.  Because of that I can go to my office and launch Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic and the images will sync to those applications for further use or data collection.  Of course it also works in reverse.  Process on my computer in my office and open up my Ipad pro and launch the Lightroom Mobile app and those images will sync to my Ipad Pro.  Very convenient.  And it is possible to tell Lightroom Classic to bring down images from the Adobe cloud and have them actually store on the Ipad Pro just in case I am going to be in a place where there is zero WiFi. Whew.  It’s a lot.  You are also locked in to the Adobe library which is not my favorite data storage option.  if other software companies could provide apps and syncing capability I would probably kiss Adobe goodbye.

One of the best digital Slr Cameras I ever used – Olympus 4/3 E1


Click on the first line above:

It almost seems like I used this camera before the stone age because it was only a bit over 5 mp.  This was a professional 4/3 sensor size camera while today’s modern and smaller versions are Micro Four Thirds.  The actual sensor is the same size but in smaller more compact bodies with a smaller lens mount and smaller lenses.

The lenses for the E1 were not small.  Well perhaps smaller than Nikon or Canon but not as small as they have today.  But the lenses were beautifully made and as sharp or sharper and more contrast than any of their digital competition of the era and perhaps today.

The reason I am writing about this camera is because of the images that I produced with it.  By today’s standard, the LCD on the back was really small, maybe 1.5 inches, but everything else was truly at a pro level.  And if you should walk into my office you will see images that I shot and printed say back when with this camera and a large format Epson printer, covering, and I mean covering the walls.  And the images that catch my eye every time are the ones shot with the Olympus E1 and various Olympus Zuiko lenses both prime and zoom.

Please make note that my current system. the Fuji X mirrorless produces better images than any other camera I used both past and present, but considering that the Olympus was a 5mp camera with a smaller than APS-c sensor, it sure is holding its own next to current day images.

One important point of interest is that the sensor in the camera was not what almost every sensor starts out as today namely Sony.  It was a Kodak sensor.  And for those who do not know or are too young to care, Kodak was the premier in camera sensor of the day because Kodak was making some of the finest pro Dslr cameras at the time and they had agreed to make a 4/3 sensor for Olympus.  It was outstanding.

Anyway now you have had a part of my history in blog form.  Have a great day.

Apple Does Not Get It In Regards To The Ipad Pro Photographers

I been using  Ipad Pro 10.5 now for just about one year and have to say it has been for the most part an enjoyable experience.  I cannot think of a time since I got it that it is not with me, 24/7.


However, as a photographer, I find Apple’s requirement that all images be passed through the Apple Photo application is extremely, highly restrictive by not allowing programs like Lightroom CC mobile, Affinity Photo Mobile and all others to import images directly into their own apps.

Apple Photo relies upon the Apple Cloud for storing images and even though apps like Lightroom can save images to a variety of places the only true storage area is still the Apple Cloud.

When it came time for me to make a choice as to what device I wanted to carry with me beyond a heavy portable computer I had narrowed down the options to two devices.  One was the Ipad Pro and the other was the Microsoft Surface.  I opted for the Ipad Pro because I have been an Apple product user for many years but I think Microsoft has provided features that Apple had the chance to implement with the “pro” models but chose not to.  And I do understand that Apple relies on small apps and Microsoft uses full programs, but the apps are not the issue here.

Apple could have added a USB port but they chose not to.  Apple could have allowed other apps to bypass the Apple Photo app, but they did not.  I could go on and on about what Apple refused to do, but it all boils down to fact that they did not provide simple solutions for photographers that Microsoft did.


If I had wanted decide to use the Surface I would have had to purchase new software because everything I own is for Mac.

There are days I am sorry that I did not go with Microsoft if only for my image processing on a portable device which is what I wanted the Ipad Pro for.  I guess my dislike for Windows kept me from doing that, but now I have to wonder, what if.

Considering that my main purpose for a small and portable device was for doing image processing and culling while out and about wither device would allow me to do that.  But what Apple does not do is allow me to save images directly to a portable drive via a USB device.  It only allows me to import images via the Apple SD card dongle.  It does have a way to hook up a USB device but more often than not a message saying that the device on the Apple Ipad can not be powered and yet hooking up that same device to the Surface would not even blink.

So if you are looking for a portable device to do mainly image processing then look into all your options no matter what your current system is.  All devices will take you to your favorite social media and email options.  Perhaps the most outstanding differences is one system relies on apps and the other on programs.  Apps or less expensive and in many cases equal to programs in how they perform.

Do I love my Ipad Pro? Sure I do.  But I could probably love the Microsoft Surface just as much.


Simple sometimes is totally elusive

Yes!  It is I.  The wannabe minimalist and with both gear and post-processing.  It is I.

Sometimes and only because human nature dictates it, wanting something that will make one’s photographic life easier and simplified seems to become more and more elusive even though one thinks they are micro steps away from achieving the goal.

Because I suffer from chronic pains in a variety of places (weep) I was drawn to smaller and lighter photographic gear and that is why I use one Fuji X pro 2 camera body and three very small, compact prime lenses.  I take with me two batteries, two extra memory cards (the camera takes two) Zeiss cleaning packets and a lens cloth.  I keep a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod in the trunk of my car with a small Really Right Stuff ball head for those times when I am out and about that, I have no other option but to use it.  My camera bag is a Billingham Hadley Pro.  (I do like the Cosyspeed Sport bag for one camera and one lens at times as well.)

So it would seem that I have the camera gear and carry issue pretty well solved and that is quite true.

But of late after trying out lots of different software for “raw” files, I find myself in a quandary as to what better serves the need of a minimalist who generally shoots a pretty well-balanced image in regards to composition and exposure.  I have Adobe products such as Lightroom CC, Classic, and Mobile as well as other Adobe Mobil apps. I have Alien Skin X3 (soon to be X4) and of course Apple’s own software called Photo.

Adobe (who I am not in love with) is the only company that actually offers a true ecosystem through Creative Cloud which allows me to process on my Mac and/or Ipad Pro and transfer images via the cloud from one device to the other in a fully processed form or partially processed form.  And the tools offered are quite extensive and creative.

Alien Skin on the other hand only works on my Mac (my computer of choice) but offers, in my opinion, a much more simplified data management system for my Mac (or your pc).  The film-like presets are the best in the business and the overall controls of the program are excellent.

If I thought it would work out I would only use the Ipad Pro, store my images in the Apple Cloud and ultimately transfer them to some kind of a drive for back up, but there are simply issues that make that too convoluted way to work.  Now if Adobe could import into the Ipad directly and then allow me to store images wherever I wanted them to be, bypassing the Adobe Library which I hate then I could be one happy minimalist, but Apple won’t allow that (at least not yet and quite possibly never.)

If I truly want to be totally minimalist then the Fuji gear and the Ipad Pro 10.5 is the only way to go.  Hopefully, Apple and Adobe will put their heads together and come up with a solution that is workable for their customers.  Wouldn’t that be eventful?

So, simple is not all that simple and the perfect solution in part is still elusive.  Hey! How about Alien Skin making a mobile app just for me?

Are you using an Ipad that runs “TRUE TONE?”

What is True Tone?

True Tone is a relatively recent display feature on Ios devices that allows your iPhone or iPad’s display to adjust its color temperature based on the light of its current surroundings. Warmer light in the room leads to warmer colors on your display. 

It’s sort of great idea but not so great for folks who are processing images on the tablet and/or a computer with the anticipation that everything is going to look the same from device to device.  For months I have struggled to get images that I processed in Lightroom on the Ipad Pro, which would sync to Lightroom on my desktop or laptop via the Adobe Creative Cloud, to look the same.  Fortunately, I happened upon another photographers blog who had gone through exactly what I was going through.

The incredibly simple solution was to go into settings on the Ipad and scroll down to “Display & Brightness” settings, and under brightness shut off “True Tone.”  Now life is good and I can be looking at an image I just processed on the Ipad Pro in Lightroom Mobile CC and my 27 inch Apple Monitor hooked up to my laptop and the images are virtually identical.  And of course it works as well in the opposite direction, laptop to iPad.

By turning off “True Tone” you are effectively shutting down Auto White Balance so that there is a consistent level of color.  I know a great many photographers that shut off auto white balance in their cameras and set it to the daylight setting which provides consistent color as opposed to varying color image to image which can make editing a set of images easier.

The more I use my Ipad Pro 10.5 running the current Ios operating system, the less I am relying on my Macintosh computers.  That is not to say that the Mac or PC if that is what you use as a laptop or desktop, does not have a certain advantage.  They do!  There are software packages that simply do not and may never appear on tablets and most of them involve image processing.

But there are more than enough software packages for the mobile community of photographers to deal with any level of images they may have.  On the Ipad, I rely upon an Adobe suite of apps for processing images.  Whatever I work on is sent to the Adobe Creative Cloud and quickly synced to my Adobe Cloud on my laptops and desktop with all the changes I made to the image.  It does not mean I am an Adobe fan.  I am not.  But it works and works pretty darn good.  I still hate the Lightroom Library but a lot of folks love it.

Here is an image I quickly processed on my Ipad Pro which was on my desktop virtually immediately.


Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

A long time ago, at least in digital software terms, a company called NIK introduced a revolutionary set of Plug-ins that would work with Adobe products such a Photoshop, Elements, and the like.  These plug-ins would open up creative opportunities to the masses allowing for specific adjustment to parts of an image as opposed to a whole image, much like advanced Photoshop users were doing with “brushes.”  While you could by individual plug-ins in the Nik group, the overall total package was about $500.00.  To own the whole package you had to be a pretty serous image processer.  The most popular were Silver Efex for black and white work (exceptional).  Color Efex (Outstanding) and Viveza (that any real photographer could not live without).  And, some of this capability was built into Nikon Capture Softwae and Nikon called it UPOINT.

But like so many other things in the digital world and the photography world, Google, who desperately wanted another program that Nik had created called Snapseed, decided to buy the NIK company.  Once in their hands they lowered the price of NIK plugins to $150.00 but you had to buy the whole suite.  Still that price was a far cry from the original NIK price.  But before long Google lowered the price to ZERO and you guessed it, it was the end of any future development and would lead to the product being discontinued.  Another Google FU.

Then a few months ago it was announced that DXO had bought the rights to the program including the patent  to and the code and recently released a new and cleaner 64bit version of the Plug ins for $69.00.  There is a trial version which I tried and then bought it.

Go Take A Look At It Here

I have been watching some newly created live webinars and all I can say is that for all the years I used it in my work I never realized that I only partook in about 40 percent of the actual features that are available.  It is my understanding that the live webinars will be available as videos in a few weeks.  In the meantime you might want to look at some educational material on YouTube.

As many of my readers know I have been messing around (really learning) lots of different softwares over the past couple of years and have written a lot about what I liked and did not like.  My current, but not perfect program is Alien Skin X3 because it has so many creative alternatives built in and yes I can control click my way right into the Nik Plugins as well.  Other programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements, Capture One, all make complete use of Nik.  But the most versatile program because of how it works with smart layers is Photoshop when it comes to using Nik.  Nik can also be used as stand alone applications.

Now, it is important to know that Nik does not recognize raw files, at least not yet.  When using host software like Adobe, the image will be sent to Nik as a Tiff file and once processed through it will go back to the host as a finished Tiff file.  If you use Nik stand alone then you need to open a saved Tiff file to work on.

I can only say that if you want to enhance your images with selective edits this is a great and simplified way to go.

Jane Lurie Photography – Jane’s Lens

Professional photographer based in San Francisco covering Travel, Landscapes, Street, Nature, Architecture, Portrait, Black and White, Photography Tutorials.
— Read on

When given the opportunity I am going to joyfully present the incredible work of other photographers.

I have been an admirer of Jane’s work since I was taken to her web site. She is a very inspiring artist with an incredible eye who is constantly providing me and others with images that tell a story in a single blink.

Please take the time to look at her work on her site.

I hope you enjoy.

Who Are You As A Photographer?

How much time have you given to developing a particular style, a look that is all yours when it comes to your images.

Do you have a unique way of framing and capturing an image?  Do you have a digital processing formula that will be solely yours so that when someone looks at your unsigned photograph they will know it was done by you?

If you have evolved as a photographer and developed all of this uniqueness then kudos to you.  If you have not, why not?  What is holding you back?

developing a shooting style comes with time and while it may seem that your style looks like someone else’s, it is not.  It is your style.  It is the way you see, frame, meter, expose what appears on your LCD or in your viewfinder.

Developing a processing style will require experimentation over time just like it did for film photographers who had to learn the best way to process their film, what chemistry to use for the film, what chemistry to use for the print and what paper to put in the chemistry and let’s not forget how an image was burned and dodged to get to the final latent image.  But while the materials have changed for the majority of us, and the darkroom has been replaced by the software on computers and tablets and the processing trays have been done in by inkjet printers the final results will be the same.

The big difference however is in the software.  Computers, tablets and software have opened up an enormous range of creative possibilities through presents, color grading, brushes and gradients and so much more that will allow anyone the opportunity to create an individual look and or style.

So if you are looking for something that will make YOU unique and recognizable as an individual as opposed to being a clone of another photographer then it is going to be important that you choose a SOFTWARE that will give you that opportunity.  There are options out there but the two I have locked on are Alien Skin X3 and Luminar, with Alien Skin X3 being the one that tops the list.

I know I have written about other software some of which do an excellent job.  But none of them offered the diversification that Alien Skin X3 does.  Alien Skin started  as a plug-in for Adobe many years ago and was very popular among creative professionals.  What it primarily offered was over 500 film simulations and styles that in the digital age offered photographers highly accurate renditions of the different film types and grain structures that photographers had come to love over the years.  But that was then and here we are, now.

Alien Skin X3 represents the culmination over the last couple of years on the part of the company to provide a highly accurate and creative raw processor for Windows and Mac that includes its own digital assets management that utilizes the operating systems own file system, produces  xmp files that ride along in the same folders as the original images.   It still has over 500 film presets, overlays, layers, outstanding color control, and on and on and on.

With all of the presets, which are really starting points,  you can modify them, combine them, so they achieve a final look you are happy and comfortable with and guess what, that look becomes your look because you can save everything you did as a new preset which belongs only to you.

It is not a secret that I use Adobe Lightroom CC, Classic, and mobile.  It is  not because I like the way Adobe handles raw files and it is not because of the Adobe Library module that I really hate but it is because of Adobe’s creative cloud which allows me to sync images from my desktop to my IPad Pro.  Adobe simply put has the best Eco system out there.  But as far as being a main tool to process my images just is not the case.  And it is not a secret that I have used a multitude of raw processors in my search for what works best for me and my Fuji X trans images.  Alien Skin simply put provides me with the complete set of tools and creative artful extras that bring me to a style and look and especially a place that I am happy with.

I am not telling you to buy it, but you would be smart to go for their free trial to see if it can fit into a more creative workflow for you.




Rekindling the Romance of Black and White Photography

My Romance With Black And White

The other day I blogged about black and white photography and today I found a pretty great article on the web which goes quite a bit deeper.  It is a bit of a long read but worth the time you will invest in digesting it in total.  The previous article is here

It hits on points I did not make, especially what I would call the “romance” of doing black and white when I was a young man and the aesthetics that went along with the love of creating a wonderful and meaningful black and white final print.  Because the black and white print process was no where as complex as the color process of getting to a print I was able to do it almost anywhere.

As a matter of fact I can remember traveling in my Ehrenreich Photo (now Nikon) territory in Ohio.  I not only sold Nikon but also took care of the rest of the products lines that Ehrenreich offered.  One of those product lines was a complete darkroom solution.  I was leaving a dealer call when I noticed fire engines rushing down the road and right across the street from where I was a fire was blazing and fire persons were battling the blaze.  I whipped out my camera loaded with Tri X film and shot 36 exposures of the fire, the fire fighters and the collapsing wall of the building.  I went back to my hotel room and took the Durst enlarger, trays, chemicals, film tanks out of my trunk and set up a portable darkroom in my hotel bathroom.  (Note: see what the article I am linking you to describes), processed the film in the tank, dried it, and printed the images with the durst enlarger set up and the trays full of chemistry.  Finished the process, dried the prints and drove down to the local newspaper in the town I was in and turned the pictures over to them and they published them.

Sorry, had to get that story out of my system. I do love black and white.


Stuck in a rut? Bored with your photography? How about considering a romance with black and white photography? If you’re old-school this will take you back, if you’re new to b/w why not give it a try?!

Source: Rekindling the Romance of Black and White Photography


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Black and White? Color? You do not know until you try?


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We all have different preferences when it comes to our photography and that means we are making decisions on what we want an image to convey to a person who is viewing the image.  Black and White vs. color really is not a major issue.

I happen to like black and white images.  I feel that the tones are more distinctive and the ability to isolate the subject from the rest of the image is something black and white lends itself to as well as the drama and emotion in certain types of photography.


Color on the other hand can vividness of the subject in the scene and make use of warm and cool lighting in ways that black and white cannot do.


What this means is that you as the photographer are the only one who can determine the look you are going for and we are fortunate to be in the digital age of photography which makes our decision-making a heck of lot easier.  It is easier because our cameras, whether they are point and shoot, Dslr, mirrorless, or phone cameras can all shoot in black and white and color and better yet because they can do that you can actually visualize what a black and white image will look like in your viewfinder or on your lcd screen.

Cameras today can shoot a Jpeg file in a variety of color schemes or in black and white.  Remember that a Jpeg is an image that is finalized in camera.  But if you set your camera to shoot a Jpeg and a RAW file, then your Jpeg can be in black and white and your RAW WILL ALWAYS BE IN DEFAULT CAMERA COLOR.


You also have the option in certain software to create what is known as virtual copies of your raw files which in turn allow you to try different looks with each virtual copy.  In this way you can choose the look that best suits the message your want to convey about the scene.


Because I like black and white as a first choice I do have my digital Fuji X cameras set to a black and white mode plus RAW.  This way I can see what the black and white will look like and still have the raw file to work in color or black and white on my Ipad Pro or computer.


In the end the choice of whether to use color or black and white for an image is subjective. Try looking at your photos in both black and white and color to get a feel for what works and what does not work. No matter which option you go with, make sure you know why you chose it. The color or lack of color in an image should contribute to its impact.



All of the images in the little slide show were processed from a RAW file in a variety of software products.








Before You Whip Out Your Camera – “Take a moment to smell the roses” – This is a good read from Digital Photography School –


Before You Whip Out Your Camera – “Take a moment to smell the roses” – This is a good read from Digital Photography School –


II have long been an advocate of checking out where you are going to shoot pictures.  Getting the lay of the land and the interaction of the local population no matter where you are can lead to better images.

Now of course when it comes to certain types of photography such as sports and street a lot is also dependent upon spontaneity but just knowing where you can be do get the great shot is important in these fast-moving moments.


You can read the article here

Apple Ipad Pro, Now being adopted by many photographers as part of an overall workflow – An article by Marius Masalar (1)

Really good read.  Click on the link below.  👇

Apple Ipad Pro, Now being adopted by many photographers as part of an overall workflow

I found the above linked article pretty interesting and very much on target when it comes to where we are today with more options to work on our images than we ever had before.

Devices like the Ipad Pro as well as the Microsoft Surface have truly opened our world in regards to being able to process images on the fly, anywhere at any time we choose.  I am never far from my cameras or my Ipad Pro.  I feel like a part of my world that kept me chained to a desktop or subjected me to lugging a heavy portable computer is no longer a necessary part of my post processing life.

It was never unusual for me to travel out from my base of operation with a heavy and bulky bag of cameras and a bag full of computer stuff and now I carry a Fuji X pro 2 and 3 prime lenses and an Ipad Pro 10.5, and a USB 3.0 SD card reader dongle. And of course the incredible Apple pencil. 🙂



(1) Marius Masalar


Bad Backs, Bad Necks, Bad Shoulders Are Not A Joke And Are More Than Likely The Fault Of Every One Of Us

I recently wrote a blog about my bad back coupled with the aging process, all of which can make what used to be very enjoyable days out in the world taking pictures a painful and creatively limiting experience in my world today.

Below is a link to that article if you need to revisit it or perhaps read it for the first time.


Back injuries and the ever lasting pain that they can cause are extremely prevalent in a particular group of people.  They are called photographers.

Photographers are known for carrying big and heavy gear, and in the past few years more and more have moved to smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras but even with that there is still a tendency for photographers to carry more gear than is actually needed. I attribute this to these great photographers having an inert fear that they will miss the shot of a lifetime if they do not pack everything they own. They won’t but they just have to learn that.

Sadly that does not negate the fact that even with smaller and lighter gear photographers still tend to carry more than they will ever need and worse, they carry the gear the wrong way. Over one shoulder can lead to all kinds of back and shoulder problems. Wearing a backpack at the wrong position on your back will lead to shoulder and lumbar issues.  Sling bags are okay alternatives and they fall between the backpack and shoulder bag. But over loading a properly designed sling bag can be as bad as a shoulder bag or back pack. Ultimately the goal, beyond getting a great image, is to be able to avoid injury and be comfortable enough to spend a whole day out without stressing your body and fighting your carry method.

Not enough attention is paid to the part of the body that can carry weight properly distributed that does not impact the neck, spine or shoulders and that is a bag that can fit around the waist and sit on a hip.  This kind of bag means that a photographer who wants to be able to go out for day and not have his or her creativity dumbed down by back and or shoulder pain must make the decisions that will make that happen.  Those decisions involve selecting the best means of carrying gear and learning to get along with less gear.

In reality most photographers of all levels who go out for a day of shooting whether enthusiast or professional and carry tonnage of gear only wind up shooting with a camera and two zoom lenses.  In most cases while the zooms are practical, one mid range zoom can be replaced by a couple of 2.0 prime lenses.  I have worked with a great many overloaded pros and I have run photography workshops where students carried 25 to 40 pounds of gear and most of that gear never saw the light of day.

Where is all of this going.  There is a bag that fits comfortably around the waist and is designed to sit on the hip of the shooter.  So while the waist belt does the job of holding the package, the actually package is flared out and made to sit right on the hip so that the weight is comfortably distributed. It is my go to bag and it is the only camera bag I can use because my neck, spine, and rotator cup is a mess, painful and takes great days and makes them crappy days. But this bag gets me out of the house and on the road for hours of pleasurable photography.

You have read my articles on this before, or at least I am going to assume you have so one more time, just for you and your body parts.

The outstanding design of the Camslinger line of bags requires just a few things. One is your promise to yourself to choose one or two small lenses and one body with the understanding that this gear can capture almost everything you want. The second thing is your decision to get the Camslinger bag. My favorite is the outdoor version because it is weather proof, and the most versatile. Why is number two so important? Firstly, if you are young and somehow have avoided body damage that gives you chronic pain, then this is the time to have the right bag so that does not happen. But if you have worn out different body parts in your shoulders, spine and neck and find yourself limited and uncomfortable like shooting like you used to then the camslinger line is going to get you back out there. Do yourself a favor and order one of these bags. You won’t be sorry. I can wear this bag for hours on end and not even know it is around my waist. Considering how much pain I am usually in, that is a miracle in itself. What’s in it? Fuji X pro 2 body with a 35mmn 2.0 lens mounted. 23mm 2.0 and 50mm 2.0 lenses. 2 batteries, 3 moist lens cleaner packs, cable release, and 2 extension tubes. A complete kit for a days worth of shooting. It weighs 4.6 pounds.  I have a close lady friend who is using the Cosyspeed Outdoor bag with a non mirror less Canon system with a Rebel and a 24mm to 120mm zoom lens, and accessories and weighs in at 6.5 pounds.

One of the hardest things I ever did was to become a minimalist. I had to get over the need to take everything I owned in cameras and lenses with me on any given shoot, and that really took a while to do. But once I did force myself to do that I found that my photography started becoming more creative again. It became a case of less is more. I keep a small tripod and a bag of small accessories like filters in the trunk of my car just in case. I wear a a ScottVest which handles my keys and wallet and an IPad Pro and cables. That particular vest is designed to deal with electronics on the go.

Just to be clear, I have no business relationship with Cosyspeed, the company that manufactures the Camslinger Waist packs. I just happen to love their exceptionally well made and functional products that have allowed me to once again enjoy my photography.


And just as a side note, one other minimalist product is the Platypod Ultra which gives me a great camera stabilization platform for those times when I want to either get into a picture or otherwise steady the camera and lens when slow shutter speeds are called for.

I add the Playpod accessory kit and a ball head with a 12 pound capacity in a small belt bag and you would be amazed at how versatile the little set up is.  You cannot always replace a nice travel tripod, but I’ll be damned if I won’t try, and I have found enough situations where it was easy to replace a full tripod with the Platypod.  They also make a pro version which is designed to hold up to about a 70-200 2.8 zoom lens and a body like a Nikon D810.

Working with Different Focal Lengths for Macro Photography

Interesting and informative article on choosing the right focal length for your macro photography.  In the past my favorite macro lens was the 150mm macro from Sigma, but using Fuji X eliminates Sigma.  However, Fuji does have a screaming 80mm macro. I am just sayin’  because I have a birthday coming up.

The article does not mention close up lenses like Canon superb closeup screw in lenses for your tele lenses and it does not mention extension tubes which allow for getting closer with short prime and short zoom lenses.

But all in all a very good read.

Which lens you choose to get for macro photography is quite important. In this article, you’ll see the difference that focal length makes when doing close-up work.

Source: Working with Different Focal Lengths for Macro Photography

I Suffer From A Totally Screwed Up Back Top To Bottom

Over the years, being a rep for a large camera company, I always carried a lot of gear and it was not unusual that my camera bag held 30 to 40 pounds and that was usually hanging from one of my shoulders.

I am not saying that was the only cause of my terrible and painful post surgery lumbar area because there were probably many things that contributed to that.  But all that heavy camera gear on one or the other shoulder was a major contributor.

The article I am linking you to is very educational and written by someone who knows what carrying camera gear can do to the human body, whether it is on your shoulder or on your neck.

He stresses the benefits of lighter gear as well a a preferred method of carrying which would be more around one’s waist but does not discount backpacks as well.

My choice for around the waist is pretty much known.  It is bags made by Cosyspeed.  Other methods which relieve stresses on the spine are offerings from Scott Vest and Peak Design.

Follow this link:

More about Cosyspeed


My three ways of carry:












Dear Men: Allies Call for More Men to Step Up in the Photo Industry | PDN Online

Dear Men and Women

Even if you are not a photo journalist you can still be a part of the solution when it comes to the mistreatment of women in any part of the photography industry.  No matter what the venue, or where it is, it does not matter. 

It goes far beyond just women. It speaks to racism, all prejudices, all  who have been abused, mistreated, man or woman.  Sign the petition and work towards a better world for everyone.


Daniel Sircar and Justin Cook argue that men in the photo industry can (and should) do more to ally themselves with women fighting for a safer, more equitable industry culture.

Source: Dear Men: Allies Call for More Men to Step Up in the Photo Industry | PDN Online

HYPER CLAIMS ARE NOTHING NEW -just don’t get sucked in


HYPER CAN BE DEFINED AS –  prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it meant “over,” usually implying excess or exaggeration ( hyperbole);

We have all, at some time or another been exposed to hyper claims. 

They may have been made by politicians, advertising agencies, corporations, blog sites, social media sites, manufacturer sites and so many more.

 Camera and Lens manufacturers say you can use their gear in inclement conditions such as rain, snow, waterfalls, dust storms, etc.they mean it.  However, the advertising hype for those of that use regular DSLR, Compact System Cameras, Mirrorless Cameras and most other cameras really goes beyond the water-resistant hype that is being taunted.  In some cases, one would be asked to believe you can jump into a swimming pool with your gear and continue to work as if you were on dry land.

No matter what they say, your gear is not waterproof.

There are fixed lens cameras that are designed to be totally waterproof and can actually be submerged, but these are not the cameras referred to in this article.

The hyper advertising has led users to actually believe that the gear they have purchased is “virtually immortal” and incapable of being damaged.  That has led some not so very bright people on the web who have nothing to do but test their gear as opposed to shooting with it to perform some pretty outrageous tests.  Some of these tests have been users putting their camera gear in their home showers and running the water at full force over the equipment and then providing pictures of the soaked cameras and lenses to hopefully prove the hyper claims or for that matter disprove the hyper claims.  In any case a stupid and ignorant thing to do.  Obviously experimenting with thousands of dollars of gear in this fashion does not speak well to their mental capabilities.

Your cameras and lenses are safe from dust, rain, snow, and the like only up to a point.  To believe otherwise will only lead to some very expensive repairs if the gear can be repaired at all.

I have been in conditions that tested the limits of my own personal gear and it was pretty disconcerting.  But because I acted quickly to clean and dry off my effected camera and lens it all worked out.  I was crossing a stream in Shenandoah National park with some fellow photographers with my Pentax K20 camera body and zoom lens.  I slipped on a rock in the water and fell into the muddy bank on the edge of the stream and the camera and lens were covered in thick mud.  I was able to use the water from the stream and a towel to clean off the camera, dry off the water I used to get rid of the mud.  It worked.  It worked because I reacted in time and was able to put water on the water resistant camera and lens and then dry it off.  I was lucky.

But for all of us it is important to remember that this gear whether it was my previous system, Pentax or my current system Fuji or your current system whatever it is, is not so resistant that it will keep out all of the nasty elements.

For this reason I implore you to read a little further understanding that your camera gear is not WATERPROOF and that the level of water resistance will vary from brand to brand and model to model.

This is why there are companies that make protective covers for your gear.  These covers come in all sizes and are designed to be used either on a tripod or handheld.  One of these companies are Len Coat\=01a0e2a5e230784a4053c0157201c527





Another company is Storm Jacket.  They are one of the longest running protection companies around.

There is a reason these products are out there for you.  It is to give you the assurance that if you are caught in adverse elements that can damage your gear, the gear will be safe. I have used both of these products in some pretty severe conditions and they truly protect the gear better than anything else.

There are other covers on the market that look like clear plastic. They are okay in a drizzle but not a storm.  Be smart and prepare for the worst.

Your Photography – You need to keep it simple and down to earth

We are pretty close to the end of 2017 and as it is every year’s end we hope that there is no unfinished business and are already planning our goals for 2018.

I have to admit that over the years a lot of the goals I set for myself I did not quite accomplish but there was one that I made about 4 years ago that I did get done and because of that I am a happier and less stressed photographer.

That goal was to become a photography gear minimalist.  Like many people I know who are passionately involved with creating images, I owned a lot of expensive cameras and lenses as well as tonnage in accessories.  The sad part is that most of it was acquired because of a mental disorder called “gear acquisition syndrome.”  It is better known simply by the abbreviation “GAS.”

The syndrome comes about when photographers cannot help but always buy the latest and greatest cameras and lenses and of course accessories.  The ability to have self control in these purchasing matters is non-existent and ultimately each and every time once the unnecessary purchase has been made the words forming on our lips which represent justification for buying what was not needed are followed by physical actions of hiding the purchase in a car trunk until it can be brought into to abode and closeted.

There was a time when I had 4 bodies, 12 lenses, 4 wireless flash units, and accessories beyond what a smart camera store would ever keep in stock for long.  And camera bags. Oh those camera bags.  At one time I had close to 50.

Today I own 1 camera body, 3 prime lenses, 2 wireless flashes, a small amount of accessories and 5 bags. When I go out for the day I have the majority of my gear in a Cosyspeeded Outdoor Camslinger waist pack which fits of course around my waist.  It can also be worn as a small sling bag as well.  It holds my Fuji X pro 2 with a lens mounted along with 2 other small primes, 2 extra memory cards, 3 extra batteries, cables release and some cleaning stuff.  If I think I am going to need flash, which is not often I attach a small bag with a small flash to the bag.  That is it.

I have written blogs, shared my feelings, attempted to influence others to go minimal with mirrorless cameras and small lenses but in my heart I know that many of my readers are still backpacking with a full load weighing in at about 20 pounds or worse and even though they have not mastered the gear they own, are going to stand in line to purchase the next great thing.  It is hard to change.  And people won’t change because they have the fear that if they do not have everything they own with them they will miss the shot of a lifetime.  If they do not make that purchase they know that the person standing next to them probably did make that purchase and their images are going to be better than your images.  Of course that is a bunch of BS.😉

Therefore, if you are reading this blog and you are going to make some resolutions then here are a few to think about:

  • 1-Master the gear you have now
  • 2-Determine what kind of pictures you like to create and adjust your camera gear to be ready to take those kinds of images.  As an example, I have a friend who own a zoom with long focal lengths, a 600mm 4.0 both for shooting wildlife and he has not shot wildlife in about 6 years.  Not only should he not pack these lenses with his go to gear, but probably should sell or trade them.
  • 3-Lighten your loads so that you will enjoy a day of shooting a lot more.  Carrying excess gear which translates to too much weight can make for a miserable day out.
  • 4-Leave the backpack or large camera bag in the car and head out with a small bag with a minimal amount of gear.
  • 5-Come to an understanding that your modern camera bodies are capable of making near perfect images in JPEG format, and easily processed images in raw format.  That all translates to you not parking your butt  in front of a computer screen and spending hours that will more than likely cause you to over process and make ugly the really good images that came out of the camera.  If you want to do weird stuff then use your cell phone camera combined with some way out apps to really make ugly state of the art.

Finally I am sure you already have software that you love.  After more than a year of testing about a dozen software packages either having subscription options, or buying to own packages ranging from $20.00 to about $250.00.  Most are okay and if you do not have a software package you like, or if you have not mastered a software package then there is a lot to consider.  They are all pretty darn good.  If you want to check in with me at IPADPRO.ELLIOT@GMAIL.COM perhaps I can answer questions about what software I think will do great things with your great images.




FAA wants airlines to ban cameras and other electronics from checked bags: Digital Photography Review

I can understand the problem with Lithium Industrial batteries (big ones) and I only once in my 74 years witnessed lithium batteries in a camera bag heat up and smoke in a wedding photographers camera bag while he stood at the counter in a camera store.  His batteries heated up and did some bag damage.

However, this was caused by the fact that he was an idiot.  There is a reason why camera companies in the past had plastic caps on all of their batteries so that contact of the battery terminals would not hit against the terminals of other batteries in the same spot in the camera bag.  Safety was the issue but if the batteries were stored right then the problem would not have happened.  I’ll say it again.  The photographer was an idiot.

I have seen double A (AA) batteries in a camera bag heat up as well because they were stored loss and contacting the terminals of other batteries in the bag.

This is why companies like Thinktank as well as others make battery holders that keep the terminals away from each other.


Would it not be simpler for the FAA to issue instructions on how people should store these batteries? Of course, it would.  Would there be less in air mishaps if the FAA enforced the number of hours a pilot can fly before they have to sleep in order to fly again?  Of course, it would.

After conducting a series of safety tests, the FAA is recommending that all airlines ban cameras and other electronics with Lithium Ion batteries from checked baggage. The agency believe the risk of a catastrophic fire and explosion is too great.

Source: FAA wants airlines to ban cameras and other electronics from checked bags: Digital Photography Review

Spekular is the light that does it all for photographers – DIY Photography

If you are doing any kind of studio work you will want to look all of this information over. Spekular is spectacular! Hmmm – a little over the top? Not really. I recently had the opportunity to put this new LED lighting system from Spiffy Gear to the test. Spiffy Gear are the folks that brought us the Light Blaster (buy link). Spekular is a modular lighting system that can take on all kinds of shapes depending on your needs and this can save you money and the time needed to pack and set-up light modifiers especially when you are working on location. Spekular comes as a kit of 4 LED sections. Each section is built with aluminum and

Source: Spekular is the light that does it all for photographers – DIY Photography


I have spent so much time teaching and judging photography over my many years and I have been privileged to meet and admire a great many photographer’s images.  There have been times that a photographer has crossed my path and there was just something that made his or her work stand out above all the others.

I have never met Ms. Lurie but recently had the good fortune to view her personal website and her Smugmug websites and I was truly taken by the quality and the diversity of her images.

In way too many cases, even though a photographer may have incredible images it is important to note that all of the images are of the same type subjects.  It may be landscape  It may be wildlife or street photography, macro photography and so on but it all of the same genres.

What impressed me with  Ms. Lurie is how diverse her work is, spanning the full spectrum of subject matter.  Beyond that, her compositions and the ability to tell a story with her images only adds to the experience of viewing her work.



The Last Portrait: A moving tribute to a friend and neighbor: Digital Photography Review



When photographer Jared Polin’s friend Arty was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Jared asked if he could tell his story in pictures. This is Arty’s photo story.


This is quite incredible. The photography, the video and the narration make for a true to life out standing story that many, too many have gone through. The photography skill and story telling talent shine throughout this video and I appreciate that Jared Polin shared.

I know how important it is to have as many photos as possible that speak to your life and the lives of those around you.  If anything Jared’s story in pictures and words should serve as an example of just how important the images of life are not only in a digital form but in a printed form to be viewed for many years and remind us of things that have gone by.  Memories should be preserved forever.

Source: The Last Portrait: A moving tribute to a friend and neighbor: Digital Photography Review

It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

The one thing but not the only thing I learned about attending Northern Virginia Nature Vision show is that it is smart to sign up for lectures EARLY.  Early means today, not tomorrow.

This particular lecture is being given by my old partner in photography education, Brian Zwit and I can tell you one thing for sure.  It will be the best $30.00 you will put towards learning the ins and outs of black and white image processing.

Sign up today for Brian’s lecture It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

And sign up for the one and only major photo show in Northern Va. – Nature Visions


Regardless of genre, black and white photography is about the basic building blocks of any photograph: tones, lines, textures, shapes, and forms. Join Brian to learn how you can advance your black and white landscape photography.

Source: It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

Why Have You Stopped Taking Pictures

Lately I have been speaking with people from all walks of life who used to love photography and making pictures but for reasons that are not really clear, just stopped doing it. 

What started the conversation was my little Cosyspeed Streetomatic Plus camera bag with a Manfrotto Pixi Evo table top tripod sticking up out of a side pocket.  When I explained my passion  for going minimalist they wanted to see what that meant.  Then they began to talk about the photography they used to do.

Men, women, young, older than young told me that at one time they owned a camera and lenses, still owned a camera, film or digital and some even had spent time in darkroom or at desk top computers with their photography.  Most said they had their phones, but really did not feel that a phone camera provided what a system camera like Olympus, Fuji, Sony, Nikon or Canon did.  The one common denominator was that at one time they loved, loved their photography.

When I questioned why they had stopped most really weren’t sure but felt perhaps that other priorities in life such as career building became a dominant factor and certain things had to be side lined in order to grow in other areas.

On a personal note and I told them that I felt that it was sad that they had stopped recording the important moments of their lives, abandoned something they loved to do instead of trying to incorporate it not only in their lives but the lives of their friends, their families.

Not only was all of that left behind but too was a chance to expand, to grow their artistic capabilities and to share those capabilities with others.

I have spent a lifetime involved in many aspects of photography having started in my dad’s darkroom right up to today. My love for photography as a hobby and a profession spans a lot of years and I consider myself fortunate that my personal love of photography was enhanced and expanded by working in world of photography which fortunately did not diminish my personal photography endeavors.

As I told the folks who I have met, if you have side lined photography, for whatever the reason and have interest in coming back at any level, I am here to help or guide you along that path.  So if I can be of any help please be sure to contact me. 

(45) Photography Composition :: Simplification and Negative Space – YouTube

Sometimes we create our own styles, but more often than not we start off by looking at other great photographers and teachers have done, apply their teaching to our vast warehouse of learning and hopefully have our own style or styles evolve from all of this.

One of my favorite ways of shooting for as long as I can remember was using negative space and using simplification to make a photograph with more impact by having less in it.

This excellent video talk directly to that I thought I would share it through my blog.

I hope you find this useful in your creative endeavors.

The site that this came from is here  where there are short articles and superb examples covering composition.


My Friend Bill – Last Year He Left The Room And Broke My Heart – But He Is In My Thoughts A Lot And I Miss Him

My Friend Bill – Last Year He Left The Room And Broke My Heart – But He Is In My Thoughts A Lot And I Miss Him – I am not totally sure why I am writing this blog now but I am sure there is some great emotional need for me to talk about him once again.

Bill, like myself had a passion for everything photography and his love for Nikon Camera gear was surpassed even by people like me who worked for Nikon for so many years.

He loved to join me on Nikon in store demonstrations and Nikon schools as he just loved to talk to others who either shot Nikon or who he wanted desperately to convert to Nikon shooters.  He was unrelenting in his passion for the brand and at times to his detriment. (I say that smiling)-

He would find no greater pleasure than sitting down with folks who he either knew or would come to know him forever and tell his tales of his life and his experiences and share is knowledge and wisdom about video and still photography  with old friends and new ones as well as those who would be friends. He considered himself Nikon representative.  And yes, that sometimes created confusion because I was the Nikon rep and after me there were a couple of other Nikon reps and to their benefit he was determined to help with his knowledge and enthusiasm.  It made him happy and after all he was more of a loyalist to Nikon than most people I had ever known.

When I say he lived and breathed Nikon it’s not even close to an exaggeration.  It is a truth beyond all truths and because he was that way I have to say that on the day his family and friends and co workers came together to celebrate his life, in a last good-bye, something was missing.

What was missing were all of the Nikon corporate people who knew Bill so extremely well and who Bill had helped in oh so many ways were sadly absent.  Not only were they absent but not one acknowledged that Bill had left the room.  Not a sigh, not a whimper, not a high-five as a thank you.  NOTHING.

That saddens me and I just felt that I had to say something.  Giving name, rank and social security number would not make a difference and after all the mindless, uncaring, self-absorbed son of bitches more than likely know who they are.

It is not that Bill and I always agreed and there were ups and downs but we were really true friends and cared for each other and in the end I only choose to remember the ups and what a dear friend and wonderful human being Bill was and is as he lives in my heart and mind.

I love you Bill.