Catching up....

Its truly been so many months since my last post, it really is catching up since it feels like its been years. Its all on me too. It has been a busy summer, more so personally but there has been some work side business too.

I’m not going to dwell on this and some of you know of it but my wife has been afflicted with a disorder constant with an early onset of Alzheimers disease. We have been coping with the disability together for about 3 yrs now, and its a prime reason I curtailed my business back to a few days a week. I wanted to spend more time working with her. It is NOT the reason I moved from my studio. She is doing well and being a fighter she carries on as normally as she can. But some things just overwhelm her and mid summer she took a fall which resulted in a broken foot. Thankfully it was a “easy” break but a break nonetheless and it meant a huge change of routine, and the wearing of a “walking boot”. This hit her hard and it really changed her demeanor, adding to her depression and just totally changed the way she functioned. It upped my need to spend time with her and take care of her. So work was sparse those 6 weeks of recuperation. I am glad to say, since recovery, she is rebounding very well and back to about where she was prior to the fall.

AND… recovery came right when I had a flurry of activity with my business and it coincided with lots of announcements in the photography industry. My work is pretty much all location work now excepting for a bit of product work I can do in a spare room of my house. Working on location has really challenged me too, as I think I got fairly complacent with conducting sessions in my known, well stocked studio environment. So this is a good thing. It means putting some thought into what to take and what not to take. I have a nice sized SUV so its easy to just take along stuff I MIGHT need for a shoot. But after doing this a few times, I see its not the right way to work. I have become better and better at only bringing those items I will truly use. And that makes a huge difference.

I CONTINUE… to light with Godox and do not see that changing. The equipment just works too well. I added to my lighting arsenal with their new AD400Pro. A 400 w/s light with all the pro level features and its a wonderful light to work with. Its battery powered of course, its the right size and heft, and it is very easy to tote along when on location or even for run-and-gun types of shooting where you are moving pretty much the whole time. Its not the cheapest Godox light and will set you back some $650 but nothing on the market regardless of price, will perform any better and some lights that are twice and three times the price can’t match it. The AD400Pro has been helpful in my work but the AD200 is my work horse even still. Both work extremely well together.

SOME KNOW…I have been in the market for a second body in the Fuji X system since buying my X-H1 in the spring, The X-H1 is a do-everything camera for me. with it’s feature set, there truly is nothing it doesn’t do. Granted its not the king of autofocus and tracking but I have missed very few shots because of it and those missed were very difficult birds and insects in flight. I recently shot some very active dancers over the course of an afternoon and in continuous low mode, at about 5-7 fps, I didn’t miss one shot and in fact surprised my client by getting shots she didn’t expect. I enjoy working with that camera but I always knew I needed a second body for just in case moments should something fail, but more for expanded coverage where I could use two lenses of varied length and performance, one on each camera, to better ensure me getting the images required. Wedding and event photographers know of that which I speak! I was about to buy another X-H1, but decided to wait for the new X-T3 body. I took delivery of it back on the 20th of Sept, when they became available. It is NOT like the X-H1 exactly. Its close. It’s menu’s are pretty much the same but the controls are typical of the XT series with dials and buttons. Its not stabilized internally either and its not as big, even with the battery grip. Somehow though its cheaper than the X-T2 was at intro, yet it does have some extreme enhancements in autofocus and tracking, in frames per second capture, the and EVF. It’s got a new sensor which means the ISO performance has been remapped to take advantage of Fuji’s first back lit sensor. I need more time with it under conditions that push the ISO but it does have a native low ISO of 160 now, and a high useable native limit of 12,800. It can go to 25,600 but the images while there are not stellar. But then at that setting on any camera its the same result. The images at 12,800 are actually not too bad and quite usable although I would not be printing 24x36 with them. The AF and tracking along with the exposure calculations are over 10x faster than even my X-H1 and thats a top camera in that department. The X-T3 sports a new quad processor which allows for all the improvements in focusing and exposure. It just rips through the algorithms and just may be the most advanced camera currently available in this regard. I think the bulk of the processing power though is for its video performance. I don’t do video much but for those that do, the X-T3 became an instant hit since it outperforms video rigs now - and this was not expected by the masses. I will post more about the X-T3 once I spend more time with it. I have a race coming up this weekend where I hope to slam it a bit and push it.

GODOX… is continuing to bring out new products; some major and some minor additions to their system. I have a few items like the round head for the AD200 (its works VERY well!) and they did just announce a round head speed light to which is coming in November. I am admittedly pretty well set for lights and cameras now and for the future but Fuji did make some announcements dealing with their medium format line at Photokina last month. Thankfully, those are 2020 deliveries so my wallet has time to recover.

FINALLY…, for now anyway, Capture One announced full support for Fujifilm cameras, even the medium format GFX. I about fell over when I learned of this. I consider C1 to be the very best post processing software product out there and nothing touches it when tethering. It was said a year and half ago, Phase One would never support the GFX…ok, well never say never. Fujifilm really stepped up and convinced them to package the Capture One product for their cameras. I will be writing more about this in coming posts but man, happy days are here again!

Take care everyone. More to come….

Do you REALLY want a studio? Maybe not...even if a friend offers it

Anyone that has followed along with my photography business knows I have been without a studio for over a year and half. They know too about my search for a new studio, and the less than scrupulous types I have dealt with while almost securing three (or is it four?) properties in that year and a half. Each time I came close to securing space, the developer I was dealing with suddenly became very different, and very demanding, possessing a certain attitude. My best guess is that they have lead you on so long, and they know you NEED the space so they think they have some sort of leverage over you and can make new demands and adjustments to the agreed upon terms. This latest "adventure" though is one of the hardest to accept because he was a friend, and a former client who I was trying to help out. 

When he contacted me in mid March, he asked about a space he had obtained from the city, a building at XX S Lasalle St. in Aurora. I knew this building and had been in it before to look at it. It was not what I wanted and it was in need of a fair piece of work to even make it suitable. In my mind, it was about 85% (on a generous scale) of what I was looking for if built out properly. I turned it down. Early April brought another call from my friend and client, this time he asked me what it would be worth to me. I asked him what he needed to get for rent. He's a friend so I wanted to let him down easy but he persisted and I said ok its about 85% there, so 85% of your rent is all I would pay. He needed a tenant lined up to secure other bank loans and the grant I guess. After I told him what it was worth to me I figured our conversation would be over but a few days later he called and accepted. I didn't expect this and was sort of uneasy over it. It was my turn to tell him I'd get back to him. I'm partnering with two other guys and I needed to sit down and go over this with them. They were not enthused. Eventually my developer friend and I hammered out an agreement and my partners were also ok with it. He made it a financial no-brainer for us. Knowing my friend and figuring him a man of his word, I suspended my search for a space in good faith. He assured me he felt he could get me moved in by July 1st. After all, the requirements for a photo studio are about as basic as can be defined for a build out. Plus he knew we all needed a studio. We waited. 

Well July came, and went and the date was pushed to August 1. That got pushed to September 1. Today I was told it would be maybe the end of October and if that wasn't agreeable then let him know because he needed to get it on the market as soon as possible to find a tenant. Basically, a take it or leave it. 

In between all this we did have regular meetings. In each of those I could sense he wasn't pleased with the terms as he mentioned many times how favorable they were to me. I felt uneasy and asked about getting something together like a lease with the terms outlined, etc. Sure he said but it didn't happen. This felt like the last go-around with a douche developer 3-6 months back since it was playing out identically. Each time we met, I got the same story about what a great deal I was getting. He seemed to forget that HE pushed the deal, that I had to sell my partners on the space and it wasn't the ideal place we wanted. I remained uneasy but he is a friend. A client I had worked with so I waited. I saw zero progress from July 1 to today, August 2. Excuses were offered and then on the phone he tells me that with the place across the street opening (a graphics design business thats about 4 years late in opening up) its going to make his property worth so much more. Is it going to make the other vacant 70% of the properties on the street more valuable too? Given a third of them are in bankruptcy court now? Oh, and the pool hall next door will attract class too. So both of us were getting more and more heated, and then he tried to put the whole thing on me but I had made no demands, other than a move in date so it finally came down to his take or leave it. Why would he do this? Its tough to find good reliable renters in Aurora. He thought he had leverage I guess. He had strung me along for months, knew I was desperate for a studio, And I guess figured his building was now worth more so he thought that if at the last minute, at lease writing time he could ask for more and I refused it would then be a "maybe the end of October" thing. Or never. In hind sight, he would probably market it anyway and if he got a better deal or offer, I was out. Who knows? I don't play games like that. 

I left it. 

I don't know what the deal is with Aurora and the developers that have bought all the old, vacant run down buildings. EVERY developer I have dealt with and a few I know that my friends have dealt with are as described above. My friend was someone I trusted and felt I could count on but in the end, he turned out to be identical to the others. Losing the space is one thing, but losing a friend or more appropriately finding out his true colors is more disturbing. I was taxed out on studio searches when he called me in the spring. I'm really taxed out now. Unless I buy a building I don't think a studio is in the works for me. I'll keep an open mind but trusting anyone is going to difficult. Maybe if something is move in ready, no build out, no waiting, then maybe there is a chance. We'll see.