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.

Fake Celebrities in Street Photography

At some point in the past 20 years talent ceased to be a prerequisite for a person becoming a celebrity.

_47A2951.jpg

I blame MTV. That network, to my knowledge, was the first to present reality TV as we know and love/hate it today when they premiered a show called “The Real World”. Since then there have been dozens upon dozens of reality TV shows and at a later time YouTube channels, which present no-talent but handsome men and self absorbed yet beautiful women, transforming them from models and socialites into international superstars.

This trend has also extended into sports, where instead of pro and amateur athletes being the main draw of a network now there are folks talking and giving opinions about athletes who have been elevated into superstardom. Mind you, the sports related discussion methods that have made many of these folks famous are borrowed directly from black barbershops across America. These new barber shop inspired sports pundits don’t really have any oratory talent per se, besides perhaps being able to craft memorable one-liners occasionally. The funny thing is many of the folks on ESPN and other sports networks were once sports writers who displayed a bit of talent in their day, but when offered they decided to forsake their talents for the promise of mindless fame and fortune. Instead of writing columns they now just emote on TV about issues that have no calculable significance to the public at large, and in fact these pundits have caused the demise of many athletes by over-hyping issues that decades ago were ignored by the public.

_93X0008.jpg

As for we photographers our fake celebrities are on YouTube. How many photographers do you see posting camera and lens reviews on YouTube despite the fact that they don’t themselves take good photos with ANY camera? Is there talent in being able to operate a video camera, edit movie files and add music? Similar to sports, is there talent in deciding to be provocative and dissing cameras and lenses just to get views? Are some of the folks posting videos themed “how to do street photography” even able to take more than one good street photo per year? I dunno….all I do know is I see a lot of fake ass celebrities on TV and the internet and trend doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. If ever.

I mean…..our president was himself a reality TV star, plucked right from the belly of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and reared on “The Apprentice”. Of course I’m just a fucking hater…..

Exit.

Where is the Money?

Money is vanishing.

_R3X0007-Edit.jpg

In photography, the money is drying up. It is happening in every photographic genre.

Street photography never paid shit so lets just clear that up firstly. I’m not delusional here. I know that shooting candid photos of people having brunch at a hipster cafe in Denver isn’t the roadmap to making 200k per year….

Wedding photography is changing however, and that genre is one of the holy trinity of cash cows in photography (the other two being photojournalism and portraiture).

Firstly, I blame Canon and Nikon. They have been engaged in a nuclear war for quite some time, and the fallout has been nothing less than the annihilation of the wedding photography market. Both camera and lens makers have been churning out high quality entry-level (consumer) DSLR’s for over a decade and a half, and have placed them at a price point that tempts a casual shopper into trying his or her hand at photography. This in turn leads to casual shooters who realize early on that they can make money from these high resolution images they are taking. Unfortunately, the nubile shooters don’t have much skill, but most of them are not foolish enough to ignore this fact. To compensate they may charge bargain basement prices to shoot a wedding, as low as $250 or even lower, as opposed to the $5000 a reputable and seasoned wedding photographer charges on average. Thats a huge fucking disparity.

21.jpg

It would seem logical that the seasoned photographer’s photos would be qualitatively better than the nubile photographer’s collection and this is indeed the case. The problem is the photos aren’t $4500 better normally, at least not to the casual observer. This is blatantly obvious to price-conscious brides when viewing competing wedding portfolios, and will influence her decision. Thus the bride, not wanting to have a tacky amateur photographer but also not wanting to be financially raped, will settle on a happy medium: a photographer who charges between $1000-$2500 dollars. No problem right? Wrong.

People have mortgages, car payments, gambling habits and all sorts of fuckery to support with their photography. There are only a precious few brides getting married per year in a given community so the competition is horribly fierce EVERYWHERE. This will drag that $1000 down to $750 when an “early booking discount” is factored in or whatever. What follows is a buyers market, where brides have shooters tripping over themselves to book a wedding, as opposed to a sellers market where brides pay no less than premium for the services of very competent artists.

Photojournalism is dying because the print media is dead. Not really much to say about that. Sports Illustrated fired their ENTIRE staff of photographers a few years back, and then fired the department that fired the photographers a year later. Nuff fucking said….

The portrait market suffers from nearly the same woes as the wedding photography market. There are a lot of amateurs with capable gear who undercut the shit out of the masters of light…..

Of course cell phones getting better and better doesn’t help pro photographers earn more money….

Where is the money then? I shoot sports but basically the clients are parents who want to buy photos of little Davon or Tyler playing football and soccer in high school. I see more and more Canon 6D’s with 70-200 2.8 lenses on the sidelines these days, as moms have decided that its cheaper in the long run to invest in gear than to spend hours combing through photos only to buy one or two per season. Also, taking photos is fun so there’s that……

MR3X0343.jpg

Stock photography doesn’t pay a lot unless you go all-in. If anybody makes a shit ton of cash from that then comment below please.

Selling fine art prints is…… some bullshit unless you can maintain the “mysterious artist” persona constantly. I am indeed a mysterious fucking artist but I’m too lazy to try to sell prints of my shit. That could change though…..

If you’re making good money let me know what you do……

Exit.

 

Commercialism and Street Photography

I shoot sports for a living. While shooting with my $4000 Canon DSLR setup I see a lot of people on the sidelines with entry-level consumer cameras. They shoot with Canon and Nikon bodies always, as I never see amateurs with mirrorless cameras trying to shoot sports. I don’t know if I feel as enthusiastic about seeing all these amateur shooters as I perhaps should feel. I’m a bit of a hater I guess.

_MG_0304.jpg

I’m moving away from Canon and Nikon (spiritually, as I’ve never shot with a Nikon) and moving towards Fuji, Leica, and Hasselblad. Ok, Leica and Hasselblad are dreams, but Fuji is my future. Meanwhile, as I prepare to gracefully bow out of DSLR’s for my street and event photography, I’m seeing more and more people buying entry level bodies. Even though every living human has a camera with them at all times on their phones, the internet exposes the mediocre performance of cell phone cameras as opposed to a Nikon D3400, for instance. Nikon does a fabulous job with their APS-C cameras, a fact I never wanted to admit before I decided to go mirrorless. As a result, many people are trying their hand at photography, and buying Nikons, because on some level, EVERY PERSON wants to be a photographer.

J93X0493.jpg

Where will this all lead? Who knows? One thing I do know is that I hate doing what everyone else is doing. I get inboxed on Facebook several times a week with people asking me what camera themselves or a family member should buy for Christmas. I always politely oblige them, telling them to get a Rebel or one of the 3000 series Nikons. I ask them what they plan on shooting with the camera, and I’d probably punch them if they said they wanted to shoot street.

J93X0440.jpg

Even my future brother-in-law has an entry level Nikon DSLR and two kit lenses. My sister, ironically, has a Sony A6000. Sony, Nikon, Canon…..All these brands and Christmas is rapidly approaching and all I want to do is go out and shoot, but it’s cold as fuck so I’m here typing. Plus I’m at work, so there’s that. I’m done with this rambling mess. You can go back to your Amazon wish list now.

Stay Low…..

 

Unsatisfactory

I never feel satisfied with my portfolio (or lack thereof).

I shoot a lot of photos during the high school sports seasons, yet I keep practically none of them. I delete 99.9% of them to clear space on drive and because, to be honest, I don’t particularly like viewing sports photos. They don’t satisfy my hunger for art.

247A8856.jpg

As I look into selling prints and other things associated with fine-art photography, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to identify photos I think are good enough to sell. Most likely, I’ll say “nah” and shelve 99% them, forever chasing that elusive perfect capture.

_47A3193.jpg

So to recap….

I delete most of my sports photos because they bore me.

I delete or don’t want to sell most of my street/art photos because I’m a perfectionist. (As if people would buy my street stuff anyhow.)

This whole shit is unsatisfactory. Gotta love it though. Stay low and keep shooting…