The Weak End of Summer…

There were no 100 degree days this summer.

I’m not saying global warming is wrong, but back in the 90’s I recall consecutive summers in Baltimore and Georgia where the thermometer read 100 degrees or above.

The current/past summer was muggy yes. Hot? Not really to me.

I switched companies that I shoot sports for. (If you want to know to whom I switched check my Facebook page or something) Shooting sports is fun but the money is drying up pretty quickly. Fewer and fewer parents are willing to buy prints of their kid once he or she (the parent) leaves an event, and those photo tents you see at tournaments aren’t as lucrative as they once may have been. Couple that with newspapers and magazines dying slowly, and there really isn’t a major demand for sports photos. I see parents and high school students with semi-pro gear on the sidelines now all the time. They may not have the passion and skill to produce high level sports compositions, but that camera and lens they now hold represents the money they would have spent on professional photos perhaps…..

Sports are in full swing though. I’m booked to shoot every weekday afternoon (after my main job) up till probably the first week of November. I’m also shooting models now until kingdom come, and will probably miss many Sundays in front of the tube watching the Redzone channel because of it. Sundays are great to shoot models for that reason however. It’s a dead day in the city for foot traffic and that’s a perfect environment to shoot in….

MICROSTRUGGLER is nearly a year old. I mainly like to shoot women and that’s what this blog will be about moving forward: photos and women…..

Exit.

Model on Instagram is @myrlanis_

She only accepts followers who follow me first….

My IG is @rickyray73

Tee shirt available here.

FUJI X100F – 6 Month Review

Enter.

I like this little camera. Model Ana Rivera ain’t bad either.

So it has been 6 months since the Fuji X100F debuted and I of course purchased the first one sold in my city of Baltimore. In fact, I have yet to see another X100F in Baltimore, but I digress. Since I bought the camera I’ve shot ~5000 photos and spent untold lunch breaks going through the menus. I’ve shot sports sidelines, pretty models, and I’ve shot and killed streets. I’ve hooked up an external flash, more on that later, and have fallen in love with using the LCD only to shoot.

WHAT I LOVE

I started out with this camera thinking I could shoot jpegs using those cute film simulation modes. I really tried to make it work too. My favorite one is ACROS (followed by Classic Chrome). I used ACROS a lot. I knew though, that sometimes I needed to record a scene in color so I quickly started shooting RAW + Jpegs to my card, which slows my Lightroom flow down, but it was manageable. Then, at some point, I downloaded the fuji film simulation plugins from some damn place on the internet and installed it in Lightroom. That way I could change a Fuji (only Fuji) RAW file to the Classic Chrome look if I wanted, or whatever. After a while I figured there really is no fucking difference between the in-camera jpeg film simulations and the Lightroom plugin camera conversions, AND I noticed that Fuji RAW files have a shit ton of dynamic range. I shoot all RAW now. Fuck it. Those in-camera film simulation modes are too cute for me…

I never understood or cared about having a leaf shutter until I started shooting sidelines at sporting events. I normally shoot 1/1000 F5.6 and auto ISO range 200-800 during the day for streets. When I’m shooting events I turn on the built-in fill flash just for shits and giggles. This is when I discovered that I could overpower the sun and create these hauntingly half dark images. I continued this trend later shooting models using an external flash….

The image quality beats the unholy fuck out of my Canon 5d Mark III, even when the DSLR is coupled with the world class 70-200 2.8 IS II lens. This little Fuji point-and-shoot compact beats it handily as far as micro contrast and sharpness is concerned. RAW to RAW the Fuji wins handily when it comes to dynamic range for both shadow pulling AND highlight recovery. Colors are more of a taste thing, but I find Fuji colors to be more accurate than Canon, even though Canon’s colors are warm and lovely.

The face detection works reasonably well, and it will even detect a models eye (left or right depending on your chosen setting) when it feels like it.

 

This is most likely the finest street photography camera ever made.

Models and subjects smile at this camera, as opposed to my big ass Canon which makes folks get all serious or run away.

THINGS I HATE

The afl/ael button is useless and positioned horribly. I have reassigned it to change my focus type.

The control ring concept is so horrid that I try my best to never touch the lens unless I’m changing apertures.

What the fuck is up with Fuji and off camera flash? Nothing works right. I can get my Canon (actually a Pixel Mago) flash to fire in manual using a chord that I have to jiggle and pray to get it to work. When it works the results are good though. I’m getting the X-T2 and some lenses soon as well as this new Godox flash trigger and flash unit that’s supposed to work with Fuji TTL and HSS and do it all wireless. We shall see…

I hate the view mode button. God forbid you ever hit that bitch by accident and spend an hour thinking your camera is malfunctioning. Perhaps I’m just an idiot but still….

FINAL THOUGHTS

This camera is a nice intro into the Fuji universe and also has a leaf shutter. That’s the deal. The jpegs are good but overrated. The RAW files are superb. It’s compact yet made of steel. It’s sharp as fuck. It’s silent. The autofocus is good in single shot mode. If you’re a street photographer this camera is superior to almost any camera you can buy besides a manual focus Leica and maybe my beloved Leica Q. None of those cameras have a fill flash though. This one does….

Exit. Please like and subscribe.

Tee shirt available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8L6WS

Model: Ana Rivera @myrlanis_ on Instagram.

Creep Show

The more I carry a camera around the streets, the more I realize that some people think it's weird that I'm carrying a camera around on the streets.

It's not my fault really. My little Fuji X100F is small enough to not intimidate folks. The true reason carrying a camera in the streets seems weird is because it is implied that every person ALREADY has a camera on them in their iPhones.

Of course the quality of an iPhone image is not on true par with a raw file from my Fuji or my Canon bodies, but that's where the disconnect happens for most folks. Many people are completely satisfied with their cell phone cameras and, unless they are a parent photographing youth sports, they feel no need to use a bulky old school traditional or post modern traditional style camera. Thus, an old man walking through the streets with a camera around his neck looks stereotypical and creepy to many millennials. Oh well.

Keeping my camera at my side helps me to avoid that "are you a creep?" glare from folks. Looks more professional that way anyhow. In the winter I can stick the Fuji in my jacket pocket. It's all about stealth out there and if people are long-spotting you and they know you're creepy their guard goes up and you lose the ability to capture a true candid. Strategy….

Do you dangle your camera around your neck? Let me know in the comments below.

Exit.

Muggy Summer

This summer has been very hot and muggy. Blame global warming I guess, but if I’m going that far I may as well blame the sun while I’m at it…..

I’m gearing up to accept a second sports photography gig for the school year. Here goes….

I’ve been shooting street, working full time hours at my day job, and launching a few other business ventures. I’ve also resumed investing in my potential retirement. Here goes….

Single again. Here goes…..

Summer means scooting around on my Harley. I’ve been doing that a lot. If I wasn’t so busy maybe I’d combine my rides with street shooting….

The next big purchase for me is the Canon 1dx II. Then after that I’ll try to get the 300mm 2.8 IS II…..

Besides that shit is real. Keep banging….

Exit.

10 Things I love About the Fuji X100F

Here is a list of 10 random things I like  ❀️ love about my Fujifilm X100F…

πŸ”˜ The X100F autofocus is accurate and fast. I was worried it might be a bit sluggish when compared to the Panasonic/Leica Q. No worry needed though. It’s zippy fast!

πŸ”˜ The X100F is quite useful to me for sideline shots when I shoot sports. So useful in fact that I prefer using it over having a standard two DSLR setup. Β No need for a 35mm lens on my 5D mark III when my X100F has a great 35mm equivalent lens and a filler flash to boot!

πŸ”˜ I love having analog style dials for my ISO, exposure compensation, aperture, and shutter speed. It beats having to dig through menus in my humble opinion.

πŸ”˜ The 35mm 2.0 lens itself is pretty sharp to my eyes, even wide open. RAW files are particularly awesome.

πŸ”˜ The ACROS film simulation mode (jpeg only) is maybe the best thing about the camera to me. You can shoot almost anything in ACROS and it looks surreal and historic.

ACROS….

πŸ”˜ The flash is useful in a pinch. I use it a lot for sideline shots as I mentioned earlier.

πŸ”˜ I almost exclusively use the EVF. It’s so good that my original reason for buying this camera, it having an optional OVF, is a non-issue.

πŸ”˜ The camera fits in my pocket and is extremely portable. It’s also so light that I can scarcely feel it dangling around my neckbone.

πŸ”˜ The Fuji X100F is 100% silent when the shutter volume is turned off. Dead ass quiet.

πŸ”˜ Lastly the little focus knob is swell. It works about as good as the ones on the pro DSLR’s I’ve had the fortune of using.

Thinking of purchasing this camera? Don’t do it! Lol. I want to keep all this bananas awesomeness for myself.

Please support me by buying my classic street-fiction novel available here.

Exit.

Stock Tips Needed (The Photography sort…)

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Being a blogger, I am well aware of the need for stock photography. Not that I need stock photos for what I do, I normally use my own self-taken photos, but I can see how non-photographers might be in a tight spot without access to stock photos. As for myself and my eternal desire to earn more green fabrics, I am contemplating shooting stock photos and posting them to one of the sites that play middle-man between we shooters and potential buyers. My main question is: do people still make money doing this?

Oversaturation has smashed almost every online money scheme imaginable. Do you want to sell sneakers? If you do then be prepared to compete with hundreds of already established sneaker sites doing the same. Do you want to sell arts and crafts? ETSY.com has thousands upon thousands of folks already selling all types of shit, with mixed to poor fiscal results on average. Even more involved processes such as app development have ferocious online competition. This is especially true for modern photography as a whole, including stock photography, the competition part. There are millions of stock photos already available online with thousands being added each hour. For every person reportedly making 50k annually on GettyImagesΒ there are thousands of poor guys and gals earning somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 bucks a month or less on some lesser site. It’s savage out there…

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Still, something about the prospect of passive income has always attracted me. I am paranoid monetarily and only feel secure when I am able to earn a living from multiple streams of cash. I do not like to load all of my income eggs into one basket, so to speak. Thus, even though I’m not terribly excited about the prospect of uploading 10k images on istockphoto, I would appreciate say…. an extra 200 bucks per month or so, especially if I didn’t have to book clients, drive to and shoot sports, or deal with diva models. I could make a lot more of course if I am lucky and good, but I’m trying to be bearish here.

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Do any of you folks shoot stock? A Facebook chum of mine shoots stock for Getty and she claims to be doing nicely. She even earned enough to buy the mirrorless Hasselblad X1D and a 45mm lens (around 12k worth of gear). Nothing beats a good try right? I’d appreciate some good stock tips here…..

Exit.

The Mirrorless ProΒ 

With the recent announcement of the Sony A9 mirrorless camera I’ve been wondering when I’ll make the big switch and go all mirrorless. Up until now, going all mirrorless has not been a serious option for me because Sony and Fuji and other serious mirrorless makers don’t make professional level bodies and lenses for sports. 

Sure, a good, well prepared shooter can probably use a pair of Sony a7rII’s to shoot a wedding or a concert, and there is a nice selection of glass available in the wide angle to medium telephoto ranges for that stuff. There is no, say, 400mm 2.8 offered by Sony or Fuji however. Canon and Nikon have several versions of lenses in this focal length going back decades. That’s always been the main point of contention for me changing my sports kit over to mirrorless. There is no fast and long telephoto glass to be had. 

There’s also battery life, which is still far better in a DSLR. I’m talking 3 times as good battery life on average between a pro level DSLR and an alleged pro level mirrorless like the A9 and the Fuji XT-2. Another main thing though, is AF speed and accuracy. This is where mirrorless has been making dramatic strides. It seems that the A9 has AF speed on par with the pro level Canon and Nikon DSLR’s, though this remains to be seen….

A Sony pro body is bound to crush Nikon and Canon is the area of low light and dynamic range, partly because Sony makes the lion share of Nikon sensors these days and holds back the really aggressive tech for their own bodies, and Canon has never seemed to be too concerned with dynamic range, although they have decent noise levels at high ISO’s on some bodies. Sony also has apparently eliminated the “blackout” that happens when continuous shooting with a typical mirrorless body. Also the A9 apparently shoots a disgusting 20fps RAW. It can do this in 100% silent mode. That’s insane!

Will I trade in my Canon sports gear and go full on mirrorless? That remains to be seen. I want to for some reason. It’s not that I hate my Canon gear, or GAS, but more that I feel I’m stapled to outdated tech. Fastened to it. Maybe when Fuji makes a full frame sports camera or fuck it, I may go with a Sony even though I hate them. Some long prime fast glass for these mirrorless jobs wouldn’t hurt either… 

Exit. 

The Gears of Change

My friend told me he was contemplating a switch to Sony. 

This is a big fucking deal to me. No, seriously. 

You see, for years my friend and I defended our mother brand, Canon, against all other brands when it comes to still photography. Not to say Canon is better than say, Nikon, when it comes to image quality and dynamic range (for starters) but Canon has historically been a well rounded brand with few recalls and boasts dependable bodies. When it comes to video Canon obliterates Nikon of course, and my friend is big on video stuff. I don’t give a half of a fuck about video, as many of you know. My friend is excited about the expected release of the Panasonic GH5. 

So why Sony? Well Canon has been sucking ass lately. The 5d Mark IV is a disappointment to many folks. Nobody besides soccer moms cares about the upcoming 6d Mark II. The 5dSR is a nice camera, and is tempting for stills. The 1dX II is expensive as fuck and more than decent for video. All of the above cameras sport Canon’s sharpness murdering anti-aliasing filters, even though the 5dSR cancells the filter effect. 

As far as a camera I’d want to shoot with there is nothing. Canon has not taken producing a viable mirrorless camera seriously to this point. A full frame mirrorless that takes all of Canons famous EF lenses would be game changing, especially if it was compact and elegant. It would have to have 4K video for you guys who care about that shit, and hopefully it wouldn’t overheat like the Sony cameras do….

So again: why Sony? Well what else is there? Nikon is reporting epic losses and is cutting back on the cameras and lenses it produces moving forward. That’s not scary right? We’re talking full frame here of course. What else is there that is worth migrating to that shoots good stills and 4K video besides Sony? Each day more and more shooters are leaving the DSLR empires and migrating to mirrorless systems, myself included. I still have a Canon 5d3 and use it to shoot sports ONLY. If my sports gig ever dries up I will march up to Service Photo the next day and sell all my Canon shit. 

I hate Sony personally unless it’s time to play Uncharted or God of War. I get it though. These big ass DSLR’s just don’t seem worth replacing with another big dumb ass DSLR. Don’t get me wrong, DSLR’s are still the most professional units available for most applications, but with money drying up in photography gigs in general, it’s worth investigating how long that will remain the case….

Exit. 

Smaller Seems Better for Street Photography

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I’m seriously considering moving away from DSLR’s for street photography.

Reasons:

My Canon 5d3 is WAY too big, especially with a 50mm 1.2 lens hooked on the front of it.

I only have one body now, the Canon, which I use for sports. It feels doubly risky to take my money making body out for street shooting.

I can’t reliably one-hand-shoot the Canon when I’m driving. That’s some sneaky shit I love doing, drive by shooting.

I have GAS…. fuck my life.

I am looking for any excuse to go mirrorless because I can sense in my core that DSLR’s are the past and mirrorless is the future.

DSLR’s scare the fuck out of people. A rangefinder-style mirrorless would make me look like a retro film student. Well, a 40+ year old retro film student. I still look young though. Black don’t crack.

I am starting to hate optical low pass filters. I am a sharpness snob, even though street photography isn’t all about sharpness. My 5d3 has a low pass filter and the underlying smudge frustrates me while viewing photos on my 27 inch 5k MAC screen…..

That’s it. Stay low and keep shooting, as I will do once I figure out which camera I want.

Street photography camera candidates currently are:

Fuji X100F, which comes out next year. The currently discontinued X100T just doesn’t have a good enough focus system for my needs.

Fuji X-Pro2 + 35mm F2 lens (53mm full frame equivalent). Very intriguing.

Leica Q. Perfect street camera but way too fucking expensive.

I hate Sony so the RX1R II will not be considered.