Don’t delay … Register now for the 2nd annual Smoky Mountain Photo Summit

smoky mountain stream in the fallFolks – If you are considering attending the 2016 Smoky Mountain Photography Summit … don’t hesitate to register.  There are less than 50 spots left!!  Last year we sold out months in advance and had a waiting list of over 100.

For more information on this year’s all star cast of nature & wildlife photographers, visit their website.   You can also register online:   www.tgsmps.com

 

2016 the great smoky mountain photography summit

FUJI 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR … IT’S HERE!

I am going to write my views on this magnificent lens without going overboard as to its quality, both in build and image quality – believe me it won’t be easy! The much anticipated FUJI 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is actually more than I expected in many ways … so on to some observations and results!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I know it’s not probably good to give the “Bottom Line” early in an article, but, the “Bottom Line” here is that the FUJI 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is right up there as with the 50-140mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR, and that’s saying something. This new ultra-zoom combines a really impressive construction quality with some outstanding optics; the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OIS WR zoom lens, along with the Fuji crop sensor will give the same angle of view as 150-600mm on a full frame camera.

Below are two images. The first is with the lens at 100MM and the second at 400MM.

_DSF0562When I unboxed this lens I was quite surprised by the size and weight – frankly, I was expecting a much heavier lens.

_DSF0563Placed inside the new FUJI 100-400MM lens is an astounding 21 elements in 14 groups (including 6 low dispersion elements and 1 extra low dispersion element.)

Comparable sizes and weights:

FUJI 50-140mm F2.8 –1093 grams, 6.9” Length

FUJI 100-400mm F 4.5 -5.6 — 1375 grams, 11.4 x 7.7 x 5.2″ Length

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The body of the lens contains the same aperture and OIS controls as the 50-140. There’s also a focus range selector. When in restricted mode the autofocus is somewhat faster when focusing on subjects more than 5 meters away.

FULL= 5M TO INFINITY RESTRICTED= 5M TO INFINITY

_DSF0566The lens comes with a sturdy collar mount, front and rear caps, a dedicated lens hood and Fuji’s cloth wrapping. As with the lens hood that comes with the 50-140mm, the hood for the new 100-400mm has an opening where you can adjust your polarizer rather than having to stick your hand deep into the hood. Leave it to Fuji to improve even the lens hood! The lens hood on the 100-400mm slides back and forth whereas the one on the 50-140mm has to be removed and can be lost. Little things like this is why I am a Fuji shooter. If they do this to a lens hood, you know they’re thinking the same way when developing cameras and lenses.

Even more surprising is that the lens takes 77mm filters. If memory serves me right, the rumor was the filter size was supposed to be 82. This in and of itself was worth the wait for me. Now I can use my 77mm filters on this lens along with my 16-55mm. I love shooting long exposure and use the Singh Ray Mor Slo ND’s which I own at 77mm – even more reason the 77mm thread size made me really happy.

The lens is also both water and dust resistant and can operate in temperatures as low as -10°C, so it’s suitable for use in a wide range of outdoor shooting conditions. A fluorine coating has also been applied to the front lens element to repel water and dirt, further improving the toughness of the lens. The lens features 13 water and dust resistant seals at 12 points, allowing you to shoot with confidence in tough outdoor environments.

I made some images with the Canon 500 D Diopter, which kind of turns this into a macro lens … again very impressive!

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(Above) Without the Canon 500D diopter
F22. 421mm (in 35mm film) 1/20 sec, f/5.2

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(Above) With Canon 500D diopters
F 22. 579mm (in 35mm film) 0.7 sec, f/16

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(Above) I made this image hand held with the OIS on, 1600 ISO …. 1/480 sec at F11 … fully extended to 600mm (in 35mm film)

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(Above) 421mm (in 35mm film) 1/20 sec, f/5.2

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(Above) 579mm (in 35mm film) 0.7 sec, f/16

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(Above) 378mm (in 35mm film) 1/12 sec, f/16

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(Above) 579mm (in 35mm film) 2.6 sec, f/22

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(Above) 764mm (in 35mm film—using the Fuji 1.4 teleconverter) 1/400 sec, f/8

BUILD QUALITY

_JGP7934True to form, the folks at Fuji design have really outdone themselves on this lens. The 100-400mm is constructed every bit as well as the 50-150. It is weather resistant (sealed) which is important to me living in the Pacific Northwest and recently spending a good amount of time in Iceland and Norway. The aperture ring has that feeling of quality when I click it.

The zoom ring is the larger of the two rings placed above the focusing ring. Both are just loose enough to allow for exact zooming and critical focusing. There is even a lock to keep the lens in the 100mm position if you want to secure it for travel.

The tripod collar is just a bit different than that of the 50-140. I happen to like this (lower profile) design a bit more.

(Above right) 600mm (in 35mm film) 1 sec, f/16

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(Above) 365mm (in 35mm film) 1/30 sec, f/16

FIELD USE

_JGP8026As I mentioned, I was expecting a somewhat bigger lens and was pleasantly surprised to see and feel the quality construction, size and weight. It is certainly no more difficult to manage than any of the current 70-200mm lenses. I use a Really Right Stuff tripod along with the RSS BH 55 ball head. I also use the Fuji MHG-XT grip on my Fuji X-T1 camera. The tripod collar is really a benefit in stabilizing the lens as well as allowing the weight of the lens to pull down on the camera when mounted on the tripod. Fuji XT-1. I found myself cradling the camera and lens like a baby before mounting it on the tripod!

_JGP8030I shot this lens out past 150-200mm most of the time. This maybe because I had been used to the 50 -140mm when shooting in that 100-150mm range.

What separates one zoom lens from another? To me it’s the ability to move in close, closer and then even closer while maintaining sharpness. The Fuji 100-400mm truly exceeded my expectations in this department. Again, I was pleased on the tightness of the focus ring. It was just right for me. No focus creeping here!

I shot subjects using the manual focus system along with the auto focus tracking system. Both performed equally as well as the Fuji 50-140mm. I was very impressed by the sensitivity and accuracy of the manual focus system even out beyond 400 mm.

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(Above) 452mm (in 35mm film) 1/8 sec, f/11 . 468mm (in 35mm film) 1/5 sec, f/11

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(Above) 150mm (in 35mm film) 1/15 sec, f/16

I can honestly say that this lens is as sharp as the 50-140mm F2.8 at comparable focal ranges. I made many images stopping down at long focal lengths to obtain max sharpness with great success.

I am not a sports or action shooter but I did take some images of moving things. The autofocus was as expected based on Fuji’s prior lenses and it updates the auto tracking system on my X-T1.

Winter is not prime time for wildlife here in the Pacific Northwest but I did manage to get in on some bald eagles and a great blue heron. For these opportunities I combined the 100-400 with the Fuji 1.4 teleconverter. At 400mm, along with the teleconverter I was out equal to 840mm (600mm x 1.4)!

I experimented with some close-up images both with and without the teleconverter. Again the lens performed better than I thought it would. Images were very sharp and well defined even on the edges. The first two images below did not use a teleconverter. What detail!

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(Above) 352mm (in 35mm film) 1/5 sec, f/16

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(Above) 295mm (in 35mm film) 1/5 sec, f/16

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(Above) No teleconverter – 275mm (in 35mm film) 1/900 sec, f/8

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(Above) With teleconverter – 800mm (in 35mm film) 1/1000 sec, f/7.7

RANDOM THOUGHTS

_JGP7830-EditWhy not make a 400mm 2.8? Yes, I am sure some folks will ask for that lens, perhaps believing that this one is too slow. Believe me, Fuji could produce this as well. It would be much bigger and way more costly. Using the Fuji “X” camera system and having the benefits of low noise at high ISO’s make this lens just fine for me, thank you. It’s just the right size and fits in my camera bag just great.

(Above-Right) 600mm (in 35mm film) 1/18 sec, f/16

The new Fuji 100-400 F 4.5 5.6 OIS WR will be priced very aggressively. As of today you CAN buy the Nikon 500mm F4 FL ED VR lens (weighs about 7 pounds) at B & H for … $ 10,295.95. I challenge anyone to justify the price difference!

We Fuji “X” photographers are quite spoiled by having some great glass to choose from. This year, I bought the 90mm 2.0. What a lens! The 50-140mm and 16-55 are truly amazing. Now this 100-400. In my pack I can now shoot from 15mm to 840mm with the best quality available. Thank you Fuji Film!

Conclusions: Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens

Here is where we usually do our pros and cons. Frankly, I have no cons. Here are the quick points on what makes this lens a must have for me:

  • Amazing weather sealed construction and solid build. Much smaller in size and weight than I expected
  • Fast autofocus speed when mounted on the X-T1
  • Includes well-constructed tripod collar which stabilizes the weight when on my tripod
  • Solid, just right feeling zoom and focusing rings
  • Great OIS control when hand holding
  • 77MM filters
  • Very impressive image quality when using the teleconverter
  • Superb close-up performance
  • Priced so it won’t break the bank

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(Above) 485mm (in 35mm film) 1/40 sec, f/11

MORE IMAGES
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150mm (in 35mm film)

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300mm (in 35mm film)

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150mm (in 35mm film)

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300mm (in 35mm film)

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539mm (in 35mm film) 1/30 sec, f/16

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199mm (in 35mm film) 1/50 sec, f/11

The 1st Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit

I’m honored to have been asked to be a part of the 1st Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit, taking place October 28 – November 1 at the Tremont Lodge in Townsend, Tennessee. It’s going to be a great learning experience and a great time!

Joining me for the field sessions, classroom sessions, Pro critiques, panel discussions and more are:
Jim Begley, Bill Fortney, Ken Jenkins, Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Bill Lea, Wilson Reynolds, Len Rue, Sr., Len Rue, Jr., Rob Sheppard, Tony Sweet and Brett Wells.

In order to keep this event as intimate as possible, the registration will be limited in number. So check out the WEBSITE for more information and how to register.

See you there!

-JG
smokey mountains photography summit

“The Big Deal” is here!!!

the big deal logoPut together by my friends over at Think11, “The Big Deal” is a bundle of photography resources (think Lightroom how-tos and plugins, online video courses, ebooks, subscriptions and on and on …) worth over $4,000 if all bought separately – on sale for only $99!!

 

To give you an idea of what’s being offered, here’s a very short sample of contributors (in no particular order):

  • Tony Sweet – 13 Videos Covering Macro Photography, Texturing, Infrared, Mirroring plus more
  • Lee Varis – Online Course in Mastering Image Creation & Photo Illustration in Photoshop
  • Bobbi Lane – Posing & Directing Video
  • SharkPixel – Landscape Photography Presets for Lightroom
  • Perfectly Clear – Photoshop and Lightroom Plugins
  • Eyefi – 1 Year Cloud Subscription
  • KelbyOne LLC. – KelbyOne Photoshop and Lightroom Creativity Bundle
  • Photofocus – Develop Great Images in Lightroom & 72 Essays On Photography Ebooks

This truly is a fantastic deal even if you only use a portion of all the products offered!  “The Big Deal” is only on sale until Thursday, June 25, so go check it out.  In my opinion, there’s something for everybody!!!

-JG

the big deal poster

Digital outdoor photography at its best!

extraordinary vision magazine cover june 2015It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be featured in this month’s issue of Extraordinary Vision Magazine.

For those of you who may not have of heard of them until now, EV Mag is the #1 Outdoor Photography Magazine published exclusively for mobile.

Each month, Publisher Angelo Ioanides delivers with informative articles, gorgeous photography and interactive video tutorials. Now designed for both Apple and Android, you can get your free subscription at iTunes or Google Play, or check out their website at extraordinary-vision.com.

If you haven’t seen this magazine yet, you really need to check it out! Thanks, Angelo, for another outstanding issue!!!!

-JG

GREEN on GREEN–Olympic National Park, WA

Spring in Olympic National Park
Spring in Olympic National Park

All images made with Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon 16-55 mm f 2.8 Lens

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK in the Spring… Green is everywhere. Our brain is able to process more hues of green than any other color. Green is abundant … and so many hues make the greens really pop. Add some rain and  WOW!  If you like GREEN, April & May are the two months  to be here.

I spent a few hours scouting the area before my workshop (that starts tomorrow )for some good locations to take my attendees. Here are a few images taken off the normal path that most folks go to photograph.  I’ve been coming here many years and this place never ceases to amaze me. The trick is to learn how to deal with the clutter and make simple, yet powerful images. I’ll be teaching this starting tomorrow!–JG

Below are more images–GREEN!

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Critiquing Photography and the Importance of Style and Vision

Jack’s Workshop Schedule
2015 Workshop Registration Form
Jack’s Website      |        Ultimate Iceland
Fuji X Photo Workshops


CRITIQUING IMAGES            ©Jack Graham
_DSF7037-Edit-EditHaving our work critiqued in order to know where we stand in terms of photographic development and how our viewers respond to our images is an integral part of developing our style and vision.

An image critique is certainly not about me or my knowledge of photography. It is about my workshop attendees, or others work. My goal is to help another photographer improve his or her work. Reviewing and critiquing images is an integral part of my teaching.

An image critique can take place in many contexts. These critiques are always part of my photography workshops, are an important part of each workshop and should be equally important to the attendee. These critiques are always meant to be constructive, not destructive. For my purposes this discussion will be based upon landscape, macro, wildlife and photo art photography as opposed to portrait and “people” based photography,  which I do not feel I am equipped to critique images.

There are two ways teachers critique images. They can make the attendee “feel good” and create a warm and “fuzzy feeling” or be honest and deliver information that will make each student gain invaluable input as well as deliver this information to the other students as well. I choose the latter.

_DSF0383-Edit-EditFirst and foremost, critiquing an image is not criticizing the image. Criticizing an image is destructive while critiquing an image is productive. When critiquing an image I look for strong points, subject, what works and what doesn’t as well as the weak points of the image. When one criticizes an image a certain amount of personal feeling is involved, which is destructive.

When critiquing an image I always take into account composition, technical aspects, the feeling that is evoked, etc. A good review covers those items along with the esthetic and artistic nuances of the image.

I always try to address the technical and artistic aspects separately. Technical aspects include exposure, focus, depth of field, sharpness, exposure, how you processed the image if applicable, cropping, and more.

Artistic aspects includes composition, how you used color or B & W, is the light good , is there some personal style in the image and more.

My review of an image is based on facts, not my personal opinions. For example I might say “This image is dark. I see you compensated minus 2/3’s of a stop. Perhaps no composition was needed here.” This is based on fact and if the photographer wanted to create a brighter, more acceptable image and didn’t, then there is something wrong with the image itself.

An example of an opinion-based critique is: ‘I don’t like the sky in this image so you might want to leave it out.” Perhaps the sky meant more to the photographer than to me, so this is a personal decision. I’ll always preface these comments with “In my opinion.” Personal taste of the photographer is important.

LAWA+PALOUSE39_120615_7924I always stress what works and what doesn’t both technically and artistically. Further I critique the work of a beginning photographer differently than that of a seasoned shooter. I take each attendee differently based on skill level. My goal is to use these critique sessions as a growth session for each attendee while offering ideas on how each person can take my input to go to the next level.

It helps if the attendees respond to criticism in a positive manner. Not all do.

Most of the time, one problem or conflict stands out more than others. I will always address that first. Most of the time there is something positive about the photograph. I always try to stress that. If not, I’ll be honest and say so. By pointing out the good parts of the image, the magnitude of the bad aspects are a bit less painful to absorb. I always try to offer constructive criticism and not discourage the photographer totally. For example, I might say ”There is a conflict with lines and too much negative space in this image, however you really nailed the sharpness, exposure and depth of field wonderfully.” These are facts. I’ll then go on to offer a solution to the problems I see in the image and how to correct them.

_DSF6961-Edit-Edita-EditOver many years of critiquing images I have found that negative comments are more powerful than positive comments and linger on much longer. Again I’ll offer solutions to the problems I see. Not all attendees take criticism the same. Some have their confidence and their self-esteem hurt. By trying to balance the positive aspects with the negative aspects I hope to provide a balance that serves everyone better. Remember, few images are totally bad.

I also offer my time at a future date to do another review either by phone or Skype. This is a good way to see if the attendee is progressing.

STYLE and VISION
LAORCST_MWPRTHTRBR16_120905_0652When reviewing images I emphasis the importance of developing your style and your vision.

Developing vision and style does not just form. It is a process that can take many years. It should not take a lifetime either. Vision and style must be apparent to your viewers, not just to you. When I hear Miles Davis play one line of music I know it’s him. This is the highest compliment one can be paid. If your viewers cannot see vision and style in your images, it is simply not there and your images are just another bunch of pretty pictures among millions of others.

BEWARE of the INTERNET. Is feedback on images you post on Facebook valuable? More often not for a lot of reasons. As a photographer you need and want to get noticed. How do you do that? Get good at what you do. Don’t worry about how many “likes” you get on Facebook. You need to be more than just another photographer in an ocean of photographers in today’s world. Work to develop a personal style and vision. Technique and processing trickery is not enough to get by on.

… a blog about everything photography

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