Welcome 2015....

Wow, the first blog post of 2015, getting done a bit later than I wanted but my time has been spent early on making a decision on the fate of the studio, then deciding on a marketing direction and strategy for the year based on that decision. Finally, I also put together a 3 day (which became a two day) Lighting Workshop which I just completed. Suffice to say these first 11 days have been busy. Still here is a wrap up of my 2014 and my efforts in 2015 so far. 

Many thanks to my five workshop attendees who participated in the Lighting Workshop wrapped up yesterday. I actually maxed out the number of attendees. I have the right amount of table space, chairs and open space for 4-5 people plus myself and that number also translates well for a lot of individual attention to each attendee, and this group was pretty adventurous, enthusiastic and willing to try things out. This was a workshop so there was some classroom and followed by putting the "lessons" learned to practice. It was put together for a leisurely 3 day evening and weekend morning pace, a few hours each day but some very nasty cold conditions made travel a bear on the first day so I made the call, with participant permission, to reduce it to two days and add an extra hour to the remaining two days. Made it a bit more intense perhaps but no one seemed put out by it. I had fun, and based on comments, so did those attending. It was well received. I aimed for the practical, everyday use of speed lights in real world situations with a touch of studio lighting, the difference and how it can also be used in real world situations, if available. I do have requests to repeat this class by a few folks that could not make this one, so I think it will happen again. I also have requests for more practical hands on, real world workshops covering other photographic topics and content, so that will be developed. Stay tuned. 

I did get to rent and use, in a limited way, a Pentax 645z and three lenses over the 2014 holidays. None of the planned activities for this system panned out but I still did the best I could and managed to shoot a few things to test it out. For those that don't know, the Pentax 645z is the latest iteration of Pentax's 645 SLR like medium format camera. It was rooted in film using 120 and 220 roll film, then went digital many years ago with an outstanding but limiting CCD based sensor of 40 megapixels. Todays newer version is a CMOS based sensor (high ISO, dynamic range, etc.) with 51.4 megapixels of coverage. I loved it! I plan to write something up with a few pics so I won't get into much depth in this post but I will say you can see a difference in the pictures it makes. Its a great camera. I only wish I could afford one. My D810 is no slouch by any means but sensor size does matter. 

I decided to go ahead too and add the new Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 OIS lens to my Fuji glass collection. This is the second (to my way of thinking) real Pro glass offering by Fuji to complement their excellent X camera system. To me, the 56mm f/1.2 was the true first Pro level lens they offered. That is and remains one of the best lenses I have ever used. I love the 85mm focal length in the full frame world. The 56mm comes in at 84mm so thats close enough. But I digress, we were talking about the 50-140mm...and this thing is fantastic! It equates to 76mm to 213mm zoom range in full frame so its a lens that I could use a lot for work. I use my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 a lot, its a workhorse. The Nikon 70-200 is one of Nikon's better lenses and at what they charge, $2,396.95 USD, it should be. This Fuji costs $1,599.00 USD, is built better, weather sealed, made of metal and rubber (not plastic and rubber as the Nikon mostly is), is not all that big or heavy and as sharp as a prime lens. My gut says easily as sharp as the Nikon and maybe sharper over the whole aperture range. No downside I can find so far. Super contrast and color. Truly a great, great piece of glass. Focus is fast and predictive - finally. Fuji and real fast focus haven't danced much together but they are starting to get intimate. It still doesn't stay up with my D4s and most any Nikon glass but its closer than ever. It only really stumbles in very low light where it fails to lock focus and hunts. Again, I hope to have a full write up later in another post with pictures. My dilemma is that I could use the Fuji system to shoot most everything I use my Nikon's for. Especially with Fuji continuing to announce and offer other Pro lenses to flesh out their line. Much less cost and less weight to carry vs. Nikon and no sacrifice in picture quality. If I sold the Nikon system, I could easily buy the Pentax 645z and have my larger format, high res, megapixel system I also need when I need it. Fuji still lacks a good flash system though, thats a Nikon plus along with a few bits of glass Nikon offers like the 200 f/2. But man, its oh so close. 

Well thats enough for now, eh? Happy New Year to my one or two readers, heh heh, and stay tuned for more content. I have decided to do what I can with my city of Aurora parking situation. I will continue the futile battle and work out a way to stay open for as long as I can handle it. Promise. Besides, I need the studio to hold all these workshops and possible club meetings....yeah, maybe a once a month "photography club" meet evolving into things like photo walks, studio days, and other collaboration for the local photographers not afraid to share. More on that later; its developing....ciao.