Sunday evening was reserved for the Awards Banquet itself.  Past WAVM member (class of 1999) and current independent film producer Nick Huston was the keynote speaker.

Saturday morning the WAVM staff engaged in a spirited game of “Capture the Flag” …

 

Acme’s latest production is “The Queen of Bingo” running May 1st through May 23rd.  The show is directed by David Sheppard and stars Kerry Anne Kilkelly (“Sis”),  Tricia Akowicz (“Babe”), and  Ben Atherton-Zeman (“Father Mac”).

Some photos from the show:

Visit Acme Theater for showtimes and tickets.

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Processed in Lightroom CC 2015.

 

 

Kelli and Nick from Gallery Seven have once again done a yeoman’s job in the organization of this year’s Spring Art Walk sponsored by the Maynard Business Alliance.

As with last year’s event there was a flash mob at 6pm in front of Serendpity Cafe.   We managed to get some footage of that (sorry, but the audio is not that great because the camera is across the street..)   And once again expertly choreographed by  Nicole Kosersky.

(I hope the YouTube gods don’t block it because of the soundtrack…  Sorry, if you can’t view it..)

Here’s a set of images from the day.

I was out of town Saturday evening, so many thanks to Jay Griffin for the photography and videography.
Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF18-55.  Processed in Lightroom 6.  Video mostly from a pole-mounted GoPro 3 Black, edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Acme Theater’s production of “Moon Over the Brewery” runs from March 6 – 28.

Acme’s production of Bruce Graham’s coming of age play is directed by Chip Sheeran and features  Emily Sheeran (as Amanda Waslyk), Kevin Nessman (as Randolph),  Jason Myatt (as Warren Zimmerman) and Jennifer Shea (as Miriam Waslyk). Get your tickets now!

A few images from the production:

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Processed in Lightroom 5.

Favorite photos from the 2014 WAVM Beacon Santa Telethon

This was my 22nd mostly sleepless weekend spent with a hundred or so amazing high school students, parents and volunteers as we raised money for needy families in the area. The WAVM Beacon Santa Telethon is a hallmark event here in town and I’m proud to play a small part in helping the WAVM staff achieve their goals and documenting the event for future generations. It is a 40-hour, non-stop, television and radio event – but there’s another 10 or so hours before and after that make for one really long weekend. You can head over the the telethon website for updates to the total and to see all of the pictures that were posted during the event.

Here are my 100 (plus 6) favorite photographs from the weekend:

 

 

Technical stuff for those interested…

I shot the entire event with my Fuji equipment. It was a joy to not be lugging the Canon glass around all weekend. (With the exception of some video work, my Canon equipment is now idle and I have plans to sell it off in the next year or so.)

The X100S was used for general candids and I tended to have it with me at all times. I shot 412 frames with it and kept 337. The X-T1 was used for both auction item photography (around 300 frames) and the “heavy lifting” of shooting bands, acts, and general activity. Most of the time I had the 55-200 lens on the X-T1, but the wide-angle lens got heavy use for the finale (large group in a studio). I tend to shoot in burst mode, so that artificially moves the frame count up. So, 2,200 frames shot with 1,900 still left in the Lightroom library. That’s nearly 3,000 images shot for the event.

To process and deliver the photographs during the event, I bring them into Lightroom and do a quick edit to throw out the obvious errors and bad images. When you get into band performances a lot of the bursts are either all good or all bad, but for the good bursts I really don’t have time to toss out the subtle duplicates, so I usually keep a couple from each burst just in case the band is interested in variations after the event. If I were to spend a bit more time I’d probably chop another 20% out of the X-T1 pile: perfectly good photographs, but not different enough to really keep.

After a few hours I had the camera and Lightroom settings established for the 3 major shooting areas (items, television studio and the auditorium). I’d let auto white balance and default settings take care of the rest of the candids. This makes the workflow go pretty quickly as I can get a large batch of photographs looking pretty good with a few clicks. From there I do the selects to create the gallery. After selecting the images, I go back and fine tune the exposures (I find that with the Fuji cameras I tend to underexpose more than I did with the Canon DSLRs — not sure why yet, but I think the EVF has me shooting conservatively).

While the cameras generally performed well, there were a few issues that I’m still working through to make sure I have more successful shoots. For a number of previous projects I’ve found the combination of the X100S and the X-T1 to be really powerful. The X100S is lightweight and unassuming, making for great candids while the X-T1 would have the telephoto lens on it for the close-ups. For this event, with the wide variety of settings and lighting conditions I found myself really wishing I had two X-T1s for two reasons:

  1. The X100S has a nice fixed wide angle lens, but sometimes you really want something wider.  But the killer was that the situation of documenting an event without interrupting it means that I really can’t “zoom with my feet” and need a real zoom lens to properly frame the scenes.
  2. The X100S and X-T1’s controls are sufficiently different that I found it increasingly annoying to remember which set of button pushes did this or that and when seconds count that cost me some images (or just made simple tasks a bit harder).  Even though I shoot with different Canon bodies, the controls have enough “family” similarity that they don’t often get in the way (not 100% true of course).  Having 2 X-T1s in my kit is now an increasing priority.

As discussed before, I’m still not happy with the autofocus of the X-T1/55-200mm lens.  When it locks on, it does a great job – but it’s just way too slow and doesn’t do well in low light.   I think there’s a f/2.8 telephoto coming to market soon and, if I sell my Canon glass, I will probably spring for one of those and hope it does better.

All in all, the Fuji system continues to be a great investment and is the future of event photography for me.

Hey, we had nice weather for our annual Christmas Parade here in Maynard.  Lots of nice photographs from the afternoon.

This doubled as a test of the Fuji X-T1 autofocus in continuous mode.  I’ve been skittish about using it, especially with the 55-200 as it never seems to lock on well.   It actually does a pretty good job, but you have to trust it and, perhaps, always use burst mode.  I found that the first frame would often be out of focus, but subsequent frames in the burst were locked on.  I should have also considered enabling face detection – although I’m not sure how it would handle multiple faces in the photograph which were typical for this subject.  I’m still unhappy with low-speed burst’s behavior in the viewfinder (vs. high-speed) but I found myself filling the buffer too often so I put up with it.

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Minimal processing in Lightroom 5.

Photographs from the 3rd Annual Sip and Stroll event sponsored by the Maynard Business Alliance.  Unlike past years, the weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but a fairly large group of hardy souls braved the cold rain to enjoy the tree-lighting, carolers, and numerous open stores in downtown Maynard.   Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and the many businesses and volunteers who made the night possible.  And a huge thanks to the Maynard Police Department for keeping us all safe in the rain (as the probably only other person who was outside  in the rain the entire event I can identify a little bit…)

This was an “all-weather” test for my Fuji cameras.  It was raining steadily through the entire event.  The biggest problem was my glasses (and the eyepieces) fogging up or getting raindrops on them.   While the X-T1 has weather seals, the X100S does not, nor does the 55-200mm lens I had on the X-T1.  I wrapped the lens in a ziplock bag and did my best to keep the X100S under my jacket when not shooting.   When shooting at night, one’s “success percentage” drops significantly and the rain made that number go even lower, so it was a bit of a challenge to find good photographs.   That said, I’m still impressed with both cameras and really enjoy the EVF in low-light situations (vs the optical viewfinders).

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Mostly at ISO 6400. Minimal processing in Lightroom 5.

Acme Theater’s production of “Fit to Kill” runs from November 21st to December 13th Directed by Nancy Curran Willis and Jason Rutledge the thriller/comedy stars Michael Carr (Adrian),  Pat Lawrence (Janice) and Becca Leighton (Amy).   Get your tickets now!

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Processed in Lightroom 5.

 

Camera kit doing its job during a downpour.

Camera kit doing its job during a downpour.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my main reason for investing in the Fuji X-T1 was related to an upcoming trip I was taking.  Well, I’m back from that trip and thought it might be interesting to review what went right and wrong, along with thoughts for better planning for the next trip.

The task was to allow me to do some photography during a 5-day canoe/camping trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (located on the border between Minnesota and Canada).  We were to be paddling on several lakes and portaging between them.  A rough total of 30 miles.   When you have to haul your gear / food / boats up a 1/4 mile long, 600 foot rise (one of the portages) you look for conservation of weight and space.   The kit also has to handle getting getting wet (up to and including immersion).

Faced with this task, my Canon gear was not going to make this trip — this is how my gear travelled:

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Two items: the MeFOTO tripod (and other support items) and a dry bag with the cameras, etc. (the boards are 5.5 inches apart if you want a size reference).  The tripod and whatnot weighed in at 4.6 lbs, and the camera gear topped the scales at 9 lbs. even, a total of 13.6 lbs.

The first level unpacking of the dry bag is here:

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l-r: dry bag, 14 watt solar power and storage, GoPro Hero 3, X100S, 10-24mm lens, 18-55mm lens, X-T1, LowePro utility bag, lens bag, iPhone (not shown).

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The Brunton SolarRoll-14 comes in a tube.  I think the newer models have more of a fold-out book form factor.  I took advantage of this setup to the fullest.  You’ll note on the outside of the tube was several feet of gaffer’s tape, which always comes in handy.  And the hollow center of the tube was stuffed to the gills…

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Inside the tube was a busy place too: 14 watt solar array, 55-200mm lens, cables, Watson AC/DC charger for the X-T1 batteries, 2 polarizing filters, spare batteries and SD cards, lens cloths:

2014-09-08 17.56.56

The Watson charger can charge the X-T1’s W126 batteries and has a USB port so it can be used to charge the GoPro and iPhone.  I opted to carry a spare battery for the X100S instead of trying to find/bring a separate charger.  This turned out well as the X100S sips power compared to the X-T1 (especially if you keep EVF use to a minimum) and after a week of use I barely touched the first battery’s capacity.

The tripod bag was fully utilized as well:

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MeFOTO tripod, Ultrapod 2 tripod, GoPro head mount.

The result was a compact, relatively lightweight kit that was suitable for travel, landscape and limited wildlife photography:

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So, how did it all perform.   Generally speaking, very well.  Everything that needed to stay dry, stayed dry – despite some rather hazardous conditions.  No malfunctions.  Given my relative inexperience working completely cut off from the world, I felt that the kit could have worked for a month or more before I would have exhausted the cards (I had 4x32GB SD cards for the Fuji cameras, plus 32GB in the GoPro.)  Adding additional cards really doesn’t cost much in terms of space or weight, so it’s a budget and planning issue only to stay “off the grid”.

That said, I learned a lot on the trip which will make future trips of this type much better.   It should be noted that this was not a photography trip.  This was a paddling and camping trip on which I brought my cameras.  The other people in my group were not photographers and, quite frankly, taking photographs came second to safely and successfully completing the trip.   (If you’d like to read about the trip itself, and see the photographs I did manage to take, I wrote a travelogue on my “personal” blog.  Click here.)

Everything sealed up, but readily accessible.

Everything sealed up, but readily accessible.

Charging the batteries (hiding from the sun under the PFD) Note the gaffing tape holding solar array to the boat.

Charging the batteries (hiding from the sun under the PFD) Note the gaffing tape holding solar array to the boat.

Thoughts/tips for future trips:

  • I have a lot of experience shooting from my kayak, but for this trip I was sentenced to paddle a canoe. 🙂  My lack of confidence with that boat made me much more conservative about when gear would come out of the dry bag.   All of the gear just fit into the dry bag.  Critically it was not possible to have a lens on the X-T1 and have the bag close.  This was an error.  I could have used a larger dry bag (although that has other issues), but I think the better answer was a separate, small lightweight “dry sack” that I could pop the two cameras into when underway.
  • It can be cloudy for a number of days and it takes hours to recharge the batteries.  All this means is that just because you have a solar power charging ability conditions and trip timing doesn’t mean that you can burn through your batteries.  I was extremely conservative with my battery use on the X-T1.  I would plan out my images, turn the camera on, take my shots, and turn the camera off.  I had envisioned being able to charge while paddling, and this may be possible in the right conditions and with a confident paddler.  I’d have no problems figuring this out in my kayak, but it never came to be on this trip.  This meant that charging was limited to sunny, non-paddling time in a spot with no trees overhead — a rare confluence.
  • The X100S is an awesome travel camera.  I really should get a strap for it.
  • If you are charging the battery in the GoPro, you aren’t using it for photography.  GoPros eat batteries.  Do the math.   (Not sure exactly what the right answer is here: separate charger or bring lots of batteries…)
  • Don’t be lazy sealing up the dry bag – you never know when things are going to turn ugly.
  • I damaged the MeFOTO tripod when it was asked to be part of my “survival” gear instead of photographic equipment.  If you read my travelogue you will see that I had a bit of a run in with some heavy wind and surf and, long story short, I was trying to do a bit of bushwhacking.  The MeFOTO tripod has this cool feature where you can remove one leg to use as a monopod.  I used it as a walking stick.  It’s a good tripod but not suitable for supporting me bumbling around and I bent the thinnest extension.   I was able to bend it back a bit and recovered most of the use of the tripod.  Kudos to the MeFOTO team for making such a flexible product.   I’m still drying it out…
  • While the MeFOTO tripod worked well as a survival tool, I need to rig a level for it.  The ball head clamp has a small bubble level, but frankly nowadays that’s not where I need one.  My camera has a level built into it – what I need is a level base so I can do panoramas.  I wish they had witness marks on the ball itself when the plate is parallel to the base.  (I think I can see how I can jury rig a bottle cap and level to fit over the ball head.)
  • When conditions go to hell, the GoPro is a pretty handy camera.  I should get a strap for it as well.
  • My long experience shooting from the kayak made me over-confident.  I should have done some more extensive tests with the full kit while still at home.  This would have highlighted a few of the issues when I had time/resources to fix them.
  • The bulb mode on the X-T1 is pretty cool.
  • The iPhone is still pretty darn useful even when it’s not a phone.   I occasionally used it for GPS, clock, timer, compass, sun path planner, constellation viewer, etc.  Kept it off the rest of the time.  Still had 90% of the battery available after 4 days and topped it off via the solar panel in short order.

Well, that about sums it up.  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know and I’ll do my best to reply to them.