Storytelling Photo vs Point Photo

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

“When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!”, sings Curly in the musical Oklahoma!

This photo above is the only time on the stage during the entire production of the musical at Roswell High School where the surrey is on stage. This is the one scene that captures the build up of the whole show to where we see what Curly was singing from the beginning of the show promising Laurey how he would treat her on a date.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

This is Ado Annie Cames singing, but because I am isolating her alone only the corn in the background helps to place this with the musical Oklahoma!.

This is what I call a point shot verses the top photo which has much more information and is getting closer to helping to tell more of the story. You still need words with either photo to make it storytelling, but hopefully you are seeing the difference between the scene establishing shot and the closeup.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Now the reason this photo of Curly and Laurey often works as well as the shot of the surrey is that this particular pose is used often in posters to promote the show. Just Google “Oklahoma! Musical” and look at all the photos and you will see this style shot pop up.

Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/8000
Here is how I shot a promo shot verses the photo above it is from the show. Now while this doesn’t tell the story say as well as having the surrey in the photo, Curly is gesturing about how the future he promises to Laurey is better than where she is now.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/180

Google “Oklahoma Barn Scene” and you can see variations of other productions that show similar scene. Again this is more of a point photo, but because I included more of the set most theatre folks will know this is the Musical Oklahoma!.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

People Need The Lord Photo

“I don’t need a lot of ‘People Need The Lord’ photos,” commented Jeff Raymond to a photographer shooting photos with him in the Dominican Republic. “What do you mean?,” commented the photographer.

Jeff went on to explain the photo style like the Afghan girl on the front of National Geographic by Steve McCurry. This photo has had such an impact that many people think this is the “BEST” way to shoot.

Give me more context is what Jeff coached the photographer to do in addition to a few portraits.

You see the photo of the boy here could have been shot anywhere in the world.

This is a frame from short movie clip. Notice how the kids in the foreground are close enough to give you a portrait, but including the background gives you more context. Here is the movie and you can see what conditions I was shooting.

Please understand this blog post is not saying Storytelling Photo is better than a Point Photo. What I am saying is you need both.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2000

The problem I see with many new photographers is falling in love with the closeup shot at ƒ/1.4 and centered. Then they have only slight variations of this photo in their portfolio.

If you are going to be hired over and over you must be the photographer who gives the client more than they expected. This is why learning how to use a variety of lenses, different apertures and shutter speeds on an assignment will have clients raving about you.

Sure you can do OK shooting the “People Need The Lord” photo, but you are a one trick pony show.

What high school theatre can teach us about Volunteers

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

Roswell High School had their last show of the musical Oklahoma! yesterday. What a production it was for everyone involved.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/180

Our daughter Chelle was in the musical as Aunt Eller and this is the main reason my wife and I were involved as volunteers.

While there are many other ways I could talk about being a volunteer I thought this was a great way to talk about the roles of the volunteer.

If your organization is using volunteers it is imperative on you to define roles of volunteers so everyone knows what they are doing. Most organizations that regularly use volunteers usually have a volunteer coordinator.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Now in theater the term role came from literally an actor being given a part. No one had the entire play in the time of Shakespeare. They just had their part. This is why often their role would setup the next actor.

For the play to be successful each person needed to know their part/role.

Think of your organization like a musical to give you an idea how important it is for each person to know their part and for someone to be responsible for coordinating like the director of the show.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S,  ISO 32000, ƒ/5, 1/500

If you want to see excitement on your volunteers faces like here in the scene from Oklahoma! then you need to make everyone feel like they are part of the team.

Now everyone in this musical except for the two teachers were all volunteers. The student actors could have quit at any time.

By the way very seldom does this not cross someone’s mind as a volunteer. The main reason for the thought of quitting coming up is due to communication problems, which are often rooted in poor understanding of volunteers.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.2, 1/140

Here is a list of some suggestions for you:

  • Developing ways to recognize and reward volunteer efforts
  • Helping volunteers feel welcome and supported
  • Developing and managing policies, procedures and standards for volunteers
  • Looking after the volunteer database and records
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Rostering and organizing volunteers
  • Delegating projects and tasks
  • Managing any associated budgets and expenditure
  • Communicating with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Resolving conflict or managing the grievance process.

Some No-Nos

  • Complaining about a volunteers work
  • Ask people to volunteer and then when they show up not use them
  • Make volunteers wait on you
  • Don’t thank your volunteers
Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S,  ISO 18000, ƒ/5, 1/500
The one thing that is the most valuable given by any and every volunteer is their TIME. No matter the person no one’s time is more valuable than any other person.
The only time it seems that we are really aware of how valuable our time is seems to be when our time is running out on this earth. Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t think about how valuable your time and others is until your last days here. Each person’s hour of time they donate is the same value as another person.
Now some who read this will disagree with me, but just like this play if one person didn’t do their assigned part then it is noticed. An actor doesn’t appear on stage at the right moment the other actors have to improv and the plot can be affected in the storyline. 
Just think of the time you had a splinter and how annoying that is and affects the whole body. That is how big of a deal each person’s time is to the organization. Something so small will be felt by the body.
Feelings Get Hurt
When people get upset working as a volunteer it can almost always be traced back to miscommunication. Often it is when the role wasn’t well defined or just as often is when volunteer shows up and those who are coordinating their time dropped the ball.
Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5, 1/100
When you take the time to plan and organize your thoughts about using volunteers you can get everyone in step together.
When a plan comes together
I can tell you healthy organizations are the ones that treat everyone’s time as precious as gold. When they do the word gets out. People see what is going on and want to join. You see way too many people are aware of volunteering and wasting their time or at least not being treated with the respect due when you are giving away your time.
When a theatre company consistently is putting on great performances it is due to someone coordinating all those volunteers and treating everyone’s time a precious.
When respecting people’s time you will benefit from more friends and deeper friendships. You see a good relationship is respecting one another’s time.

How to Video Capture more than 29 minutes with a Nikon D5

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Last night I photographed and video captured the show Oklahoma!. Just a last minute push to encourage you if you are in Roswell, GA to come and see the play. Runs through the weekend. Go here to buy your tickets or at the door.

For video capture I attached to my Nikon D5 using the HDMI output the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ HDMI On-Camera Monitor & Recorder.

Why did I do this is a great question. Most all DSLRs that record video have a 30 minute time limit. I understand this has to do with avoiding a double tax in some countries.

So how do you record a musical as I did that goes an hour and half for just the first Act? This is where the Atomos Ninja Blade comes to the rescue.

Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

Key Features

325DPI, 5″ IPS 1280 x 720 capacitive touchscreen monitor/recorder.

Waveform RGB & luma parade, vectorscope with zoom, and test pattern generator.

Adjustable gamma, contrast and brightness.

HDMI input and output.

Real-time monitoring, playback, playout to a PC or Mac with QuickTime, and edit logging.

Focus peaking, 0-100% zebra, and two modes of false color monitoring.

Records 10-bit, 4:2:2 in ProRes or DNxHD.

S-Log / C-Log recording.

Trigger REC/STOP from camera (Canon, Sony, ARRI, Panasonic, RED, JVC)

Timecode from camera.

2.5″ HDD/SSD media storage.

It records up to 1080 30p/60i resolution via HDMI to an available HDD or SSD using either Apple’s ProRes or Avid’s DNxHD codecs. Recording at 10-bit with 4:2:2 color sampling, this unit provides you a monitoring and recording solution in one compact battery powered unit.

Now I bought the ADATA Technology 256GB Ultimate SU800 SATA III 2.5″ Internal SSD card.

This setup worked great for last night’s opening night performance.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.7, 1/100

While the Nikon D5 will record 4K I don’t need this most of the time, so the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ was perfect.

If however you would like to record at 4K you can get the Atomos Shogun Flame 7″ 4K HDMI/12-SDI Recording Monitor. They make other higher end models as well.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

If you are not a video shooter and are more of a stills shooter then for capturing video you need to be a little more hands on technically.

What I mean by this is that the exposure and sound vary through a production and you may need to adjust this as you are recording.

With the Nikon D5 attached to the Atomos Ninja Blade using the HDMI port just siphons this off before it hits the H.264 encoder and you are recording in ProRes format. This isn’t really recording in RAW video but more like a TIFF file than say a JPEG.

Now I cannot share the Oklahoma! video because of copyright. [I am recording it for the Shuler Awards in Georgia]

The cool thing is right now you can buy the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ for $395 without a hard drive which gives you the 5″ monitor. I would recommend buying a SSD hard drive of your choice in size.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

There are three more performances for me to tweak my exposure and sound on to capture the best quality possible out of my setup. At the same time each performance traditionally gets better each time.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5, 1/100

By the way Aunt Eller is my daughter Chelle. This is her senior year and last production. She also taught the choreography to the cast.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

I hope these tips will help you thinking of ways to use your DSLR to do more than just take photos. I know I wanted to use the high quality CMOS chip to get a wonderful keepsake video of our daughter to cherish for the rest of her life.

Are your stories or visuals just flat?

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/3.9, 1/70

Do your stories/photos just seem flat to you? I know many times after I have worked so hard on a story/photo I just feel like the results just were not capturing something, but what was I missing?

Now when I cover sports, which is really a short story, where the winning team must overcome obstacles, to win I can see the problem with a flat coverage. The teams just never really put forth the effort that visually showed greatness.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

I have been having wonderful emails sent to me over the past couple weeks about my daughter’s performance as the witch in the musical Into the Woods. Now while I would be proud of her no matter what as her dad, I was really proud of her as an artist.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.6, 1/400

Some of those emails started to capture the nuance that she was able to deliver in her performance. One person wrote that my daughter was “making the part your own, not a stereotype or a copy of another actor’s work, but an artful blending of jagged, mean, ugly, playful, quirky, needy, and finally, channeling the almighty in condemning flawed mankind to tend the garden alone.  Your character arc was spot on.”

So exactly what is a character arc? It is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of the story. While many things may happen to a character in a theater performance, unless those are portrayed in someway on the stage the audience isn’t allowed to experience those changes.

This is what I would like to say is often the missing secret ingredient to a compelling story.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

When I work often with a NGO in telling their story I must interview a person about the before the climax of the story. I am most often telling a success story which means I have missed the opportunity to show this main character struggling.

What I can do and often do is have them tell me about what it was like before. I want them to articulate the struggle they experienced. After hearing this part of the interview I then can go and get b-roll of others also going through this. I should be able to find this because most NGOs are raising funds to help others like their success story.

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 2200, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

The main plot for most of these stories I am doing is that the main character is unable to overcome opposing forces, because they lack the skills, knowledge, resources or friends.

My audience is who I am appealing to be the ones who help with supplying the skills, knowledge, resources and being the friend to help other like this person to overcome their obstacles. It is imperative that I have done a good job of articulating why they cannot do it alone.

The last part of the story is showing the changes in the main subject. Today for example because of the changes they have gone through now their children can go to college and have a better life than the main subject.

The story is often flat because I have done a poor job of capturing the struggle and problems of the main character.

Don’t be the storyteller who only searches for those who take little effort on you to communicate their struggle. This is where you search for only stories that are often cliché. You find a person with major physical deformities to help you capture the struggle so you don’t have to work at it as hard.

Remember, everyone has a story, if we take the time to get to know them!

What gear and where to sit to capture theater productions

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

If you were on the front row of the theater you would not see this photo. The reason is simple. The actor is laying down on the stage just above the orchestra pit area.

This is why I like to go to the very back of the auditorium to shoot photos of theater productions at my daughter’s high school. If I need to I can even stand because no one is behind me.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/55

This is another photo of the same theater. You can see how people in the front few rows are actually below the stage.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/400

Now the downside to being all the way in the back of the room means you will need longer glass than a kit lens.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.6, 1/500 [600mm]

I love shooting with the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S and the Sigma TC-2001 2X converter. It lets me get pretty close like in this photo from the play Little Shop of Horrors at Roswell High School.

Most of the photos I take are between 200mm to 600mm.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 2200, ƒ/2.8, 1/500 [300mm]

Here I took the 2X converter off and zoomed all the way in to get this photo.

I highly recommend shooting with a monopod so as to keep the camera steady and also that is one big beast with a Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S and the Sigma TC-2001 2x.

This lens combination is great with a lot of events and situations other than sports or wildlife.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100 [550mm]

Theater Camera Gear Recommendations:

  • Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5–5.6
  • Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S
  • Sigma TC-2001 2X
  • Sigma TC-1401 1.4X
  • Nikon D750
  • Manfrotto 294 Aluminum 4 Section Monopod
  • Manfrotto by Bogen Imaging 323 RC2 System Quick Release Adapter w/200PL-14
Mirrorless Camera System Recommendations:
  • Fuji X-E2
  • Fuji XF 18-55mm
  • Fuji XF 55-200mm
Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500 [550mm]
Camera Settings Tips:
  • Auto ISO – when shooting check the LCD and to compensate use the EV dial to under or overexpose.
  • Check Histogram for accuracy.
  • Use Blinking Highlights to let you know what has no details. Be sure faces always have detail.
  • Custom White balance for “White Light” if possible. Many theater lighting schemes use a lot of color, be careful that you are balancing to the lights without gels.
  • Tungsten is often the correct white balance for theater lighting–but not always. Don’t try and color correct every scene when the lights are often intentionally giving a color cast.
  • Scene brightness will change the color temperature as well. A dimmer set at 10% will make the light more orange than at 100% brightness.
  • Try to use shutter speed that is closest to the focal length. If 200mm use 1/200 and if 500mm then use 1/500. This is why having a monopod will let you shoot darker scenes to help keep the camera steady.

Fuji X-E2 helped me to capture memories in Hawaii

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/3.2, 1/500

Back in June this year I was in Hawaii teaching 30+ students who were going to travel the world using photography as a way to engage with people.

While I was there I had my Fuji X-E2 on me at all times. This helped me to capture moments like this when on the last night of the classes before they departed for Panama, Turkey and Thailand they captured moments with each other.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/500

While I also own the Fuji XF 55-200mm, I found many times that the 18-55mm inside was long enough lens for many situations.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.4, 1/500

I did use the Fuji XF 55-200mm in situations where I needed the longer lens as here with the people on the stage.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500

I also used it to compress the scene as I did here in Kona, Hawaii.  I love using the lenses with the OIS turned on because I am usually hand holding these when making most of the photos.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/210

The dynamic range of the sensor is also awesome. Here you can see that the people are well exposed, but the curtains and the TV are not blown out. I was able to hold the details from the highlights to the shadows.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/6

This was my favorite photo from my entire trip. Getting this photo is just not going to happen with your smart phone. Again I am holding together from the very bright screens of the computers to the shadows of the chairs they are sitting in.

I love the Fuji X-E2 because it is small enough and yet I am not giving up the ability in low light that many other cameras do that are this small.

How to create photos that are spectacular!!

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/75 [Neewer TT850 on light stand bouncing. The Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger to fire the off-camera flash and control the power from the camera.]
“Those are spectacular!!!  Much nicer to have the lighting off the camera’s direct line of sight.”
~ email from a parent
I photographed my daughter’s orchestra awards banquet and while there a guy came up and started talking to me and asking questions. I could tell from all his camera gear he was either a pro as well or just a hobbyist. He wanted to know where my photos would be accessible. He had been taking photos for a few years since his child was a senior in the orchestra. My daughter is just a freshman.
I gave him my business card and he wrote sending me a link to his photos. Since I knew he was wanting to share I sent him the link that I had also given to the orchestra teacher to use for the newsletters and other things to help out the program.
That is when I got the email with the quote above “Those are spectacular!!!  Much nicer to have the lighting off the camera’s direct line of sight.”
Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ6.4, 1/30 [Neewer TT850 on light stand in back of room pointed straight toward the front of the room. The Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger to fire the off-camera flash and control the power from the camera.]
I think the father noticed my flash on a light stand because my Fuji X-E2 didn’t look pro as compared to his large DSLR and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8.
His wife later in the evening said, since you do this professionally you can answer a question. She then pulled up a photo where you could see the reflection of her on camera flash in the glasses of people. She wanted to know how to get rid of the reflection.
Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/40 [Neewer TT850 on light stand in back of room pointed straight toward the front of the room. The Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger to fire the off-camera flash and control the power from the camera.]
I talked to her about how your flash works like you playing billiards/pool. By getting the flash further from the lens you avoid the problem with reflections in the glasses.
This is the Neewer TT850 on light stand and the Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger on the Fuji X-E2]
This flash system isn’t TTL and therefore controlling the exposure is done a few ways.
  • Flash Power—How bright the flash is will influence if the picture is over, under or properly exposed. You can control the Neewer flash from 1/128 to full power in 1/3 stop increments.
  • ƒ-stop/Aperture—You control how much of the light is coming into your camera by the camera iris called the aperture. These are fractions. The focal length of the lens over how wide the opening of the lens is. 
  • Flash Distance to Subject—The closer you put the flash to the subject the brighter the subject and the further away you put is the darker it gets. This is assuming your Flash Power and ƒ-stop are constant.
When the radio is on the same channel as the flash you can then send the signal to change the power settings of the flash. 
I put the flash off to the side of the room or at the back of the room. How do I determine where to put the flash in relation to the camera? I want the FLASH—CAMERA—SUBJECT to form a triangle. Usually the flash is between 45º to 90º most of the time.
What impressed the parent wasn’t my cameras or really my flash—he had as good of gear if not better than what I had, but the thing is his flash was on his camera and that is what made my pictures spectacular. How do I know this—he said so.

Fuijifilm X-E2 firmware upgrade 2.00 is major for me

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/55

The firmware update Ver. 2.00 from Ver. 1.20 has made a huge difference for my experience when it comes to focusing. While no where in the information about the changes is the focusing improvement mentioned—I noticed a quite considerable better performance.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/150

Frankly I was getting quite frustrated with the camera when it came to focusing, which was then screwing up my ability to capture “the moment.” I was able last night at my daughter’s Spring Orchestra concert to grab consistently moments like the peak when the conductor had their arms up and where I could capture what reads much easier than where you cannot see her arms.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/200

The upgraded information said:

The firmware will shorten the display lag** for X-E2’s Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) to less than 1/10 compared to that of the current firmware to the world’s fastest 0.005 seconds for ultimate performance which has been invented as Real Time Viewfinder, featured in X-T1. Also it enhances the frame rate of the viewfinder and the highest frame rate is maintained even in low light conditions or night-time photography, providing smooth live view images through the lens.

My experience prior to the firmware upgrade was a great deal of the focus hunting to lock in on a focus point.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/550

The camera would take the photo and then when I would just press the shutter again, with keeping the same composition and just wanting a second photo, the camera would hunt again for locking in on the focus point. Now the camera was no longer hunting and the moments were much easier to obtain.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/180

The framerate was impacting my focus before and I didn’t know this was the problem. Now I cannot see a good reason to buy the X-T1 since the reason I purchased it was to have something smaller profile and this meets that standard.

Fuji is doing what other manufacturers are afraid to do because the other manufacturers fear loss in sales. For the most part the firmware upgrade makes the differences between the X-T1 and X-E2 minor and makes me want another X-E2.

Fujifilm X-E2: Using only available light for meeting

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/90


I walked into the room and along one side of the room was a wall with handprints. It was lighted and the brightest spot in the room.

The problem as you can see in the first photo is this was the background for the speakers. They might have been standing in front of window with sunlight coming in.  There were not lights on the speakers except for the room lights, which were of course much darker than the wall.

This is the first thing I do in any situation—look around and see where the light is and isn’t. I then pay attention to the type of light that is in the room.

I am assessing the direction and the quality of the light in the room.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/70

As long as I wasn’t photographing the speakers, the rest of the room really didn’t present the same issues of the backlit speakers.

Custom white balance

To get the best possible color in any situation I rely first on the ExpoDisc.  I bought the original version in the 77mm size. I just hold this in front of the lens to set the white balance.

The new version you can get filters that you put over the ExpoDisc which let you warm up or cool down your color temperature.

If you use a slightly blue filter then your camera will add the opposite color, which is yellow to try and color correct the image. This process will warm up your photos.

If you used a slightly yellow filter the camera will add blue and therefore make your photos cooler.

Since the ExpoDisc is going over the lens and capturing the light as it hits the filter this is giving you an incident light reading.

A general rule is an incident light reading is more accurate than a reflective reading because it is not influenced by the object the light is hitting. It just reads what the amount of light is hitting or the color of the light.

The camera set the Kelvin to 3650 and added 30+ magenta for my photos.

Since I was under a fluorescent/sodium vapor type of lights I had to use a shutter speed slower than 1/100 to avoid getting color banding in the photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/70

Exposure Value Adjustment

I shot the photos using the aperture priority mode on the Fujifilm X-E2.  I picked the A for the shutter-speed and then I shot wide open with the aperture.  I am using the MULTI metering mode for the Fujifilm X-E2.

I had the camera set to use AUTO ISO. The low end ISO was set to ISO 100 and the high end to ISO 6400. The shutter speed was set to 1/100 since I didn’t want to go above this due to the fluorescent/sodium vapor lights.

I am using the electronic viewfinder (EVF) while shooting. This gave me a great advantage over my DSRL because I am seeing what I will get later. The minute I put the camera on the speaker all that backlight was silhouetting my speaker.

To get the correct exposure on the speaker I just adjusted the EV dial by +2.7 and the result is what you see above.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/50 [focal length 200mm & 35mm equivalent 300mm]

I am handholding the Fujifilm X-E2 with the XF 55-200mm. In this photo of the speaker the lens is equivalent to a 300mm lens on my full-framed DSLR. So shooting at 1/50 shouldn’t be this sharp. The reason is the lens has optical image stabilization (O.I.S.).  The image stabilization function allows the use of shutter speeds 4.5 stops slower. As you can see the photo looks pretty sharp for 1/50.

O.I.S. cannot help you if the subject moves a lot while you are taking the photo. It just helps keep your camera steady.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/30 [RAW image processed through Adobe Lightroom]

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/30 [JPEG from camera no Adobe Lightroom]

Why not ISO 12800 or 24600?

Frankly I am not that thrilled with the way the Fujifilm X-E2 handles skin tones. They tend to come out just a little waxy for my taste. To use an ISO greater than ISO 6400 on the Fujifilm cameras you must shoot JPEGs and not RAW.

If the photos were not working I would have shot at a higher ISO and lived with the trade out of the waxy skin tones verses not so sharp of photos.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/75

For Comparison

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/125

The one thing I still like about the Nikon D4 over the Fujifilm X-E2 is shooting raw at even higher ISO settings. Here the photo above is shot available light just like the Fuji and the lens also has image stabilization to help with camera motion.

How about strobes?

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]

I also shot photos using two Alienbees B1600 lights with Pocketwizard Plus II on the lights receiving the radio signal from the Pocketwizard MiniTT1 Transmitter on the Nikon D4.

Obviously the flashes helped a great deal with the quality of the image, but at what sacrifice? They announced to everyone in the room when I was taking a photo. It made the people too aware and less relaxed.

No question that you get better quality light with strobes, but unless you are dealing with professional actors/actresses you are not going to get the best expressions over the course of a meeting. Sure you will get some, but I believe available light is the way to go—if possible.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]

Couple more photos for you

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/110

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/160 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]

Hair bit nicer color with the flashes, but if I am getting the photo with the Fujifilm X-E2 that looks this good without flash, why use flash?

Fuji X-E2 with the XF 55-200mm is a great combination for shooting speakers

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/90 photo by Greg Schneider

I spent a lot of time talking to students and pros this past weekend. Many were asking for my advice for their career path.  I ended up asking a lot of questions of them and hopefully helped some get some better traction for their journey.

Fuji X-E2 55-200mm @ 200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/20

This is Larry McCormick a photojournalist for The Tennessean who was one of the speakers at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference.  He inspired us to love every assignment we do and to treat everyone of our subjects with honor, dignity and respect.

Fuji X-E2 55-200mm @ 200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/10

James Gregg, Staff Photographer, San Diego Union-Tribune was another speaker who walked us through many of his assignments. He is working predominately as a multimedia producer these days.

Fuji X-E2 55-200mm @ 200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/30

Greg Thompson, Sr Director, Corporate Communications, Chick-fil-A challenged us to be more client and audience focused.  The story is not yours, it is the subjects and you share it to an audience.

Fuji X-E2 55-200mm @ 200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/40

Ron Londen, Chief Creative Strategist, Journey Group opened up the weekend with telling stories. He started with stories where he made mistakes. He challenged us to really connect with people and tell stories.

Fuji X-E2 55-200mm @ 60mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/20

All weekend I shot with the new Fuji X-E2 and when the speakers were on I shot mostly with the XF 55-200mm lens. I think it is extremely sharp and the image stabilization is the best I have ever used. Look at those shutter speeds shooting from the back of the room. Shooting zoomed to 200mm is the same as shooting with my Nikon full framed camera with a 300mm.  These are all hand held and sharp.

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/125

We did have some good Chick-fil-A sandwiches at the meeting and the Cow visited. Most everyone was getting their photo made with the cow.

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/2.8, 1/500

I was capturing fun moments with everyone enjoying themselves.

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, 1/500

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/480

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/210

Fuji X-E2 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/170