Leigh MILLER: Blog http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog en-us (C) Leigh MILLER leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:42:00 GMT Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:42:00 GMT http://www.leighmiller.ca/img/s/v-5/u544495160-o555293696-50.jpg Leigh MILLER: Blog http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog 120 80 The Digital Nomad Lifestyle http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/7/the-digital-nomad-lifestyle

My 6 Month Experiment


When I was in the corporate world you could have thrown one of my gold plated pens through the office and hit 5 people who would quit at that very moment to be somewhere else...except for life. Just an ounce of encouragement they said...was all that was needed and they would be out the door.

Baloney.

I tried it and failed...well not so badly. A life of freedom doesn't work for 99.9% of you and here is why.

Most of us are tied to a small geographic area by that thing called "life". Mortgages, rents, food, shelter/clothing and the list is long. The job that sucks your soul dry by the time Friday arrives is at the very center of it all. I walked away from that "the first time" after a long weekend. I got into work, took a look around my office and said...not today. I stretched that "not today" thing out near two years just wilding through countries one after the next. Then I got scared and ran back to a safe job wearing a suit and tie.

On my way to the death house each morning I stopped into various coffee shops all packed with 20-30 somethings with their heads buried in laptops and whispering to each other about the Digital Nomad Lifestyle. Own very little, live nowhere and maintain attachments to nothing. It was like hearing them describe a hippie commune complete with long hair and thread-bare clothes. Laptop + Internet = Freedom to Work Anywhere.

Lately I've been hit up by quite a few photo colleagues who are now "Digital Nomads". So they literally travel around the world doing odd-job photography (Travel, Lifestyle, Food...etc.) When I get pictures from wherever they happen to be (at the moment) they usually look like the above...lot's of nice looking people, chillaxin' with drink in hand just living life. Funny thing is...I don't recall it being like that my first time around but I was willing to give it a shot.

So fast forward to about a year and a half ago.

I strolled into my Doctor's office for my annual checkup review and left over an hour later with a big ol' bag full of lemons. I did as usual...squeezed them, made lemonade and a plan to go find rum to spice it up. When your close friends and family hear that your on the way out, you tend to get a lot of room to operate. I took that freed up time and gave the Digital Nomad life thing another go....failed at it again but at least I know why this time :-)

For the better part of 6 months I traveled and worked (retouching/video editing etc), tethered to home only by an internet connection which at best is "good enough" unless your staying at very high end hotels. (P.S. I didn't stay at any high-end hotels) I hit the small guest rooms, apartments...hostels and the odd resort. Low and behold...they were always filled with Digital Nomads. Some of the very same ones who post pictures on instagram from much more luxurious digs.

By the way, this lifestyle is not without risk.

My Failure

Kind of like the Social Media craze, I arrived at the party too late. This kind of lifestyle either needs a very young age range or a certain type of personality. Most of the ones I met were squarely between 25 - 35 and they all had some other key things in common. They owned nothing beyond what they carried and could live on a very (restrictive for me) tight budget. It's common to see a 20-something with $20K worth of gear over the shoulders. Not a lot left over in the bank for high living. That means lot's of hostels, no-star hotels/motels, sketchy transportation and questionable food. I can put up with a lot...I draw the line at questionable food.

The older Nomads were far more interesting but fewer in number and I got the impression most of them were runaways from blown-up relationship or complicated past lives. When I was younger the term was "ex-pats" and they pretty much continue to see themselves that way. I love the laid back/chilled way they live. I just can't do it myself.

See here is the thing...I failed my six month experiment before I even packed my bags.

Most of the people I met during my travels would rather be anywhere but "home for whatever reason...excitement, adventure, maybe even self-discovery. I've got that covered already and frankly I've done the heavy lifting on myself. I know very well who Leigh Miller is so the search stopped long ago. Years in the making I also hammered the "life" stuff into order and built a really nice environment around myself free from soul sucking work and negative people.

I still enjoy travelling, sometimes without a real destination in mind. I also love the feel of the return ticket in my pocket!

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) digital nomad Fuji Fujifilm Gear photographer travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/7/the-digital-nomad-lifestyle Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:41:36 GMT
It's Over http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/7/its-over


#TheEnd

Let that sink in for a minute or two....I need to take a deep breath and a long sip of coffee.

The first moment you allow something you have created to be used by others without attribution or compensation, #It'sOver. That's precisely what the Eastern District of Virginia told us recently. Unless serious measures are taken to right it's course our industry is doomed. I guess the same could be said of anything worth doing in life. To be fair, this particular situation is applicable only to the United States. Other countries are governed by variations of copyright law.

I understand that any creation shared online is likely to be misappropriated. It's happened to me so many times that I've lost count. As creators we simply have to pick and choose what's worth the trouble of fighting. If you are a weekend warrior it's hardly economical to fight some newspaper or organisation outside of your jurisdiction with mortgage or rent money. If you lose a few vacation images here and there the impact on your life is minimal. However, if creating is your trade the need to get active is the most important thing you can do for your business.

I'm not against allowing the use of certain images/video without payment or credit....this credit thing is novel (for me) as I could care less. Won't change my life a little bit. In fact I get emails all the time requesting images for whatever reason. If the request is sincere and non-commercial in nature I typically agree. Especially when it's for something I appreciate or identify with.

Screenshot However if someone is getting paid as a result of the image then it's a whole different ballgame. I've said "NO" only to find the image or video being used anyway. I have zero problem with getting heavy when those situations occur. None of this covers favors for friends etc. I'm talking about major organizations who increasingly think that cropping out watermarks/logo and other identifying ownership features makes stealing ok. Infuriating.

For a long time I didn't place logos etc. on my images because to my eyes hey take away from the impact of an image...and in some cases these watermarks can look a little tacky. Now I'm considering that approach again...

If you have time check out this video by Tony & Chelsea Northrup "Stealing Photos is Legal? Fair Use Laws in Action"


Follow Me on Instagram: leighmillerofficial

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) copyright creative creator Fair Use Law photo industry photography United States http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/7/its-over Sat, 07 Jul 2018 12:57:14 GMT
Moving Day! http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/7/moving-day


Not really but it's been awhile since I've done an assignment away from home for an extended period. I'm gonna miss this view!

The gear is packed and waiting to be shipped within the next few days. To answer the handful of emails about that: Things worked out a little differently than I expected. The client decided that they wanted very large files so I was going to assemble a GFX system...only to be informed that they would buy a set and keep on-hand for future projects. That saves me from having to deal with the travel and space issues. So that out of the way, what I'm bringing is strictly my field kit for playtime off work hours. There is a ton of wildlife in the area...if I can stand the heat long enough to track them down. I plan on working the macro game a fair bit so the XF80mm is coming along. I'm also bringing the XF16-55 even though I don't technically need it..just in case I spot some extra potential work around town.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca see more of my work on instagram @leighmillerofficial

  • X-T2/X-T1
  • X70
  • XF16-55mm
  • XF100-400mm W/1.4 X TC
  • XF10-24mm
  • XF80mm
  • DJI Mavic Pro
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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) Fuji Fujifilm Gear photographer Travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/7/moving-day Wed, 04 Jul 2018 17:48:28 GMT
24 Hours in California | Road Trip http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/24-hours-in-california-road-trip  

What would you do with 24 hours to kill in California?

I live about 10 miles off the lake back home in Toronto and on a clear day I only get a sliver of water to look at. I'm not complaining, it's better than nothing!

I made the most of the short time before flying out and took in an hour at the beach...then hit the road up the coast. The view never gets old no matter how many times I see it.

The traffic in and out of Los Angeles is still every bit as ridiculous as I remember. How people make that commute daily I'll never understand. I made some stops along the way in Big Sur, Carmel and San Louis Obispo.

By the time we arrived in San Francisco I was ready to head back to Canada for some normal weather. I spent the rest of the day under shade eating churros and pretzels. I even got asked a handful of times...by total strangers "aren't you chilly?"

It's the middle of June and people were walking around in sweaters and jackets as if it was Fall weather. I was barely managing in a t-shirt and shorts. At one point my sneakers were soaked from sweat and I had to buy a cheap pair of slippers to walk in while they dried. I never wear slippers...


INSTAGRAM @leighmillerofficial


 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) california photographer road trip Travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/24-hours-in-california-road-trip Tue, 26 Jun 2018 22:22:45 GMT
Joshua Tree National Park | Road Trip http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/joshua-tree-national-park-road-trip


Sucker For Punishment...

I made the first trip to Joshua Tree National Park in 2009. I forget who's idea it was exactly but one of my photo friends came up with the idea to fly into San Francisco for some festival and then drive all the way down the coast and in-land to the park. I really died on that trip. I was told it was hot but that's like saying this or that "basketball player" is tall. You have no idea what tall really is until you stand right next to one.

For me hot weather is like slow-poured acid down my throat. Most of the time I can bear it if there is reasonable shade, the ocean or a nice pool. I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I once settled for a kiddie pool in the not too distant past. In Joshua Tree there is no shade, no cold pool. Lot's of rocks though...hot rocks and of course Joshua Trees. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how that trip turned out but let's just say it involved a hospital and some stitches.

Since then I've made the trip (incredibly) four (4) more times.

This trip was completely unplanned...I'm working on a project for a client in Arizona and one of the crew had to go home overnight to attend to some family emergency. So we decided to pack one of the SUV's and drive six hours north-west to drop him off and get a face-full of desert landscapes.

I have a few regrets about this place...besides the trip to the hospital on the first try.

Most of my shooting is done from the vehicle window. I really regret that but thankful for nice sharp telephoto zooms. To be fair to myself, not too many people venture off the road unless it's a designated look-out spot. The only other place I've felt that kind of heat was Marrakech a few years ago.

Second, drones weren't around on that first visit and as far as I can tell they are banned now. What I wouldn't give for my own aerial record of the flat plains and beautiful mountain range...sigh. Another life maybe.


This set was shot on a colleague's Canon system.

My Fujifilm gear was configured for video in a full cage-setup and we had less than an hour to get packed and on the road. So I left it all behind on location and used a buddie's backup kit. Regardless of Canon's slow crawl towards the mirrorless era I can always say that they have color-science down on lock. Still a little too hot on the reds but on point otherwise.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM @leighmillerofficial

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) california desert joshua tree national park landscape photography travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/joshua-tree-national-park-road-trip Sat, 23 Jun 2018 22:29:15 GMT
Get Low | Bird Photography http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/get-low-bird-photography Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Sandpiper | F/7.1 ISO800 400mm 1/2000 sec


I must be getting old...these days I'm consciously reminding myself to crouch down once in awhile, especially when photographing shore birds. Last month I stomped along a beach...all 6'1" of me before I realized that I scared every single creature with wings away. I basically had to lay flat under some cover along the edges and wait for over an hour for them to return. Especially the Sandpipers..skittish little things.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca see more of my work on instagram @leighmillerofficial

Great Blue Heron | F/5 ISO400 261mm 1/800 secs

Herons aren't much more sociable. I stalked this one along the edges of a marsh..on my stomach, or more accurately my elbows and knees. I got close enough to get some really good shots after crawling through lot's of vegetation. Being me though...I pushed my luck hard, and paid the price. I got video for ya.

I was edging close in order to get a really tight frame-up and not really paying attention to how close along the water's edge I was advancing. The tall grass and reeds made it hard to keep track. I got about 20 seconds of good video before I pushed my luck again and went for a swim...face first. At the end of that clip you will see the chaos as I tried to save the camera from a bath...it was fine, but I didn't need the dip in the pool I was planning for later.

Anything for the shot...right?

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Sea Gull | F5.6 ISO400 400mm 1/800 sec

Gulls and Robins are easier...especially around densely populated areas. They get used to humans walking around and/or feeding them and lose most of their natural fear. They aren't the most unique looking birds but I tend to take whatever I can get so as not to waste a day putting up with heat and bugs.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Robin | F5.6 ISO400 400mm 1/200 secs


I shot this set over several outings with the Fujifilm X-T2 camera and XF100-400mm lens combo which I've updated to use the new FIRMWARE 4.10 that was recently released. Also, it seems my days of complaining about Adobe Lightroom is coming to an end within the next version or two. I'm finally seeing some improvements in the RAW file interpretation with the current software (also recently updated). I'm still doing my primary sharpening inside of the Photoshop application but Lightroom is showing less artifacts and color smearing.

Rumours are floating around that the current crop of X-Cameras may be the last to use the X-TRANS sensor...sure hope not. I finally have it figured out.

On another note you may notice that I'm typically set between ISO400-800 for most of my images with this combo. I got the idea based on the F-LOG video profile which defaults to ISO800...and it generally delivers excellent images quality while allowing for the max dynamic range. Seems to work equally well for stills regardless of light levels with little to no noise penalty. I'm not seeing anything to be concerned about until around ISO1600 which is edging outside of my comfort zone anyway.

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM: @leighmillerofficial

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) Bird Photography birding birds Fuji Fujifilm Gear nature photographer wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/get-low-bird-photography Fri, 22 Jun 2018 22:59:49 GMT
Change and Other New Stuff | PT. 2 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/change-and-other-new-stuff-pt-2 GFX 50S, X-T1, X70, iPhone 6GFX 50S, X-T1, X70, iPhone 6Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca


I've been running a "shadow" gear bag (actually it's a box) since at least 2013.

When I made the switch to mirrorless cameras (Fuji/Olympus) I packed away a bunch of Canon equipment...just in case I made a mistake. So for years there has been a box in my storage unit marked "emergency", gathering dust. I cracked it open last week and sold off some prime condition stuff.

The Exit

Canon EOS 1D (original) & EOS 1D MK IV

........http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com

EOS 1D MKI W/ EF50mm

I loved this camera...it wasn't my first Canon but I downgraded to get it. Prior to buying this one (USED) I had a 20, 30, 40 and 50D but the pro features and build won me over. It's traveled to at least six (6) countries and never once failed. The battery life was poor, the LCD was barely usable and it was heavy like a car battery. It also sported a lightening fast auto-focus and seemingly endless customization. When I took it out of the box the 50mm 1.4 was still attached. I had to junk that...it was seized up and fungus had started growing inside the front element. I recall dunking it by accident in Lake Ontario.

There was also a brand new EOS 1D MK4 body in there which I never used. Won it is some photo contest years ago but by then I was already using a 5D MKII. That will make some sport/wildlife photographer very happy.

 

Fujifilm X-Pro1

http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com

X-Pro1 W/ XF35mm F1.4

This is the camera that started it all...When I bought it there was only JPEG shooting. RAW file conversion wasn't available with Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. The auto-focus...forget about it, but it was dead sexy and those Fujifilm Film Simulations were amazing. I used it as my fun camera while I continued on with the Canon 5D MK2. Eventually it ended up in that box as I moved unto the X-E1 body. I replaced the XF35mm F1.4 awhile back with the newer F2 WR version.

 

Fujinon XF14mm F2.8 R

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF14mm F2.8 R

Excellent wide angle lens...stopped using it when I got the XF10-24mm F4 R OIS. I found that I typically shot it at F4-8 the majority of the time so it made sense to just use the wide-angle zoom.

 

Fujinon XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS

Aside from the variable aperture this lens was a breeze to use. It has the one feature the pro model could use...image stabilisation. It's been really nice for handheld low-light shots and video but I definitely use the XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR. I would give the focus and sharpness edge to the pro model but that stabilisation and small size is hard to beat.

 

Fujifilm X70

Fujifilm X70Fujifilm X70http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com

X70 Silver

When this came out a few years ago I was puzzled...why bring out a top level compact in a space already occupied by the X100 series. Then I actually used one and loved it so much that I got another, in black. Fujifilm has since ended it's production..a shame IMHO but there are more than enough models to compensate. I'm keeping the black one though, it's an excellent "grab and go" camera.

 

Olympus E-M1 MK I

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Olympus E-M1 System

I still haven't decided what to do with this kit yet...emotional attachment for gear isn't my thing but I definitely have it for this camera. In fact I never upgraded to the mark 2. I'm heavily invested in the platform and for a long time it was complimentary to the Fujifilm gear bag. In terms of image quality it was a match for early Fuji cameras despite the sensor size difference. 

So the issue is this...why maintain two systems that pretty much do the same thing.

In fact the Fuji X-T1/X-Pro2/X-T2 have been my daily drivers for a long time now. I shoot the majority of my professional work with them to maintain consistency. I'm torn as to an upgrade to the X-H1 now that the X-T2 has gotten an boost from the recent FIRMWARE update. Add to that the expanded lens catalog, accessories and in-body stabilisation. The Olympus has become my backup, so to speak. 

My long term project is getting to a critical stage and the client is asking me to relocate for 3 to 6 months. The digs would be pretty nice but small...with a capital S, basically a bedroom with a toilet. Technically there is a balcony but at 6ft and change/210 lbs I can barely get one leg out there to enjoy a glass of rum. There is just no way to bring two different camera systems. So until I decide...the Olympus is going into that "emergency" box in my storage locker.


Social Media

I'll be the first to admit to being late for the Social Media party. The last time I took any real interest in it, MySpace was still popular...ask some 20'something about it now and you get a blank stare. I've been convinced by some hard data though thanks to a good friend who now manages my instagram account for me. I was totally wrong about the market for my images...by about 20+ years. It seems that the primary consumer for my work are the 24-34 aged people: 64% male and 36% female. Guess where most of those people live?

If you said Instagram, go to the head of the class.

Flickr....done. In fact I've deleted all but the most recent images from the platform and I'll be winding that down over the Summer. I've been a user for many years but they have definitely lost their way. I'm also not thrilled with the level of image thievery that takes place on there. They were recently acquired by SmugMug so I'm taking a wait and see approach to further contribution.

500px...Done. I was very supportive initially but that platform just died on the vine for me.

Facebook...Done. Never was a big user and with all the privacy concerns it takes more headspace than it's worth.


As with the Olympus system, I really haven't decided where to park images on a permanent basis yet so for the time being instagram will do. Also this website will be going thru some changes as I get ready for whatever platform is "next". I'm working with a designer to turn it into an online magazine/blog hybrid.

The last little bit is my long term review of my travel tripod...it's a generic brand made by ZHUANG SHIDAI QING (I think)

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca I'm just crossing the one year mark of constant use for everything landscape, product, food and video.

It's held up extremely well, more than I expected and nearly twice as good when compared to a few major brands I've used in recent years. I may have paid something around $100 Canadian for it and I know now that it's sold under various names and configurations. This item has travelled with me to three different countries. It fell over into sea water on a recent trip and was carefully washed and left on the veranda to dry overnight. I should have checked the forecast because it stormed until late afternoon the next day...and I was oblivious to the fact that it was left out there. Still working just fine with zero slippage, I didn't even have to tighten the hex screws in months.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca It's a good match for mirrorless, small form factor cameras.

As you can see from the image above, it looks ridiculous with the XF100-400 mounted to the X-T2 camera...actually the camera looks silly mounted to that lens but it's super stable with no slip. It's even better with a more reasonable camera/lens configuration although in windy conditions you may need to hang your camera bag from the center column for insurance (there is a hook). I'll have a full review shortly when I return form my trip so stay tuned.

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) bokeh fuji fujifilm fujinon gear nature photographer photography portraits super telephoto wildlife x-photographer http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/change-and-other-new-stuff-pt-2 Fri, 15 Jun 2018 16:26:28 GMT
Three Little Birds...in Slow Motion http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/three-little-birds-in-slow-motion


May/June: Awesome time of the year to go bird watching because I think they are the most active building nests, attracting mates and of course raising little chicks. I haven't had a lot of time in the past few weeks due to work travel but I'm sneaking in some outdoor time in-between. I delayed this post, waiting out Fujifilm's re-release of Firmware 4.0 for the X-T2 camera. I initially downloaded the now recalled Firmware only to hear a week later of the issues. As I was in transit there really wasn't a good time to reset the camera. Actually I haven't experienced any real problems except for the flickering EVF...no lock-ups etc. so I carried on using it as-is. I'll wait until it's released again before doing a more in-depth review.

The above video: F-LOG/1080P 120 FPS | XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens and conformed to a 1080P 24P timeline. Also since it was shot at a high frame rate the audio wasn't recorded. I did some sound design and artificially added some in along with the soundtrack. One of these days I'll get around to making a post about how I do that. For right now the short answer is a Zoom H5 field recorder paired with a boom mic for the bird calls and background sounds. A few of the other clips (crickets etc) were from a stock library...another thing I should get around to doing, building my own sound library for these kinds of situations.

I also included a couple of clips filmed with the old Firmware using the Pro Neg Hi Film Simulation at (-1, -1, -1 Saturation/Sharpness/Contrast) for comparison. In case some of you don't know what F-LOG is...it's Fujifilm's FLAT PROFILE, essentially a near equivalent of a RAW file with the objective being to provide the most dynamic range while filming and flexibility for later editing/color-grading.

XF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRXF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

400mm | F/5.6 | 1/250 seconds | ISO 800 

This Yellow Warbler was just singing it's heart out calling for a mate (I know the feeling buddy...keep up the good work). My birder friend and I were loading our kayaks unto his truck when I heard the singing. I basically dropped the boat, ran back to the vehicle and got the XF100-400mm...about a 10 minute hike. When I returned he was still darting around the general spot and posed for this shot.

XF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRXF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

400mm | F/5.6 | 1/800 seconds | ISO 400

Caspian Terns are among my favourite birds to photograph...also the most frustrating. I've been trying for several years on end to make a capture of one snatching a fish out of the water. This one posed up pretty nicely while calling out for her mate who brought a small fish shortly after I captured this image.

XF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRXF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

386mm | F/7.1 | 1/1000 seconds | ISO 800

Sparrows are fairly common in Southern Ontario but I do wish that I still had a backyard to set up a perch...these little guys are gorgeous up against a clean background. This one kind of snuck up on me while I was stalking a swan...wish I had the presence of mind to open up on the aperture and blur those twigs a little more.

Although preliminary, the firmware has been pretty good. My autofocus has been a little faster and much more sure. I used to tease the company about that "Fuji Shuffle" where the lenses would shimmy back and forth hunting for focus lock. Those concerns are long gone, far in the rearview mirror. 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) fuji fujifilm gear photographer photography travel video http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/three-little-birds-in-slow-motion Sat, 09 Jun 2018 00:43:31 GMT
Change and Other New Stuff | PT. 1 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/change-and-other-new-stuff Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca If nothing changes, then nothing changes.

Me...I'm like an anchor. Drop me over the side and you can guarantee the boat will be exactly where you left it until you haul me up. Good for consistency but terrible when  your in the creative business where change is very, very good. To that end I've been making some big moves lately  shedding, replacing etc.

As regular readers know, I'm primarily a two (2) lens man: 24-70 & 70-200mm range. Those cover 90% of everything I do professionally. These two are staying in the gear bag...forever or until Fujifilm releases a version II.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF50-140MM F2.8 R LM OIS WR (76-213mm *35mm equivalent)

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR (24-84mm *35mm equivalent)


The change....additions

XF90mm F2 prime lens, the equivalent of my old Canon 135mm L. It's a hard to use piece of glass because it requires so much room to deploy, and no image stabilisation. The "look" it renders, particularly to portraits is simply amazing and I owned it for about a year...and then we parted ways, out of love. I suppose it was easier to play it safe with the 85mm equivalent in the XF56mm F1.2 R .

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF56mm F1.2 R (84mm *35mm equivalent)

With an F1.2 aperture the XF56mm doesn't need any encouragement to present a nice smooth background for your portraits. In fact this focal length is one I recommend to others who are looking for a portrait lens regardless of camera brand. It shares the same sharpness and color/contrast expression as the XF90mm...except the latter is like a sports car with no compromises.

XF90mm F2 R LM WRXF90mm F2 R LM WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Most people like me buy this lens for one reason, it's ability to obliterate backgrounds and render them into globs of pleasing out of focus balls..That ability comes with responsibility though. If you aren't careful you can easily miss focus due to the thin depth of field. I got it because frankly, I'm no longer concerned with what's behind me these days...or behind the subject and the results are awesome.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

The image above: Behind that ring resting on a bokeh of flowers is a tennis ball, book, tea can, a cup filled with pens and couple of Xmas lights. Distance...I would say about two or three feet and shot wide open at F2 with the camera on a tripod.

The XF23mm F2

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca At F2 you really need to be close to the subject and have plenty of space behind in order to blur out anything. Doing that however can give you some clown'ish but interesting images at times but I like it. My thinking is is to use it for landscape, travel and video work this Summer. Fuji makes a 1.4 version which I've also owned previously but I find the F2 far better...sharper, faster focusing (and quiet for video work) with a much better build. The most important feature though being weather resistance. I have no patience for running under tress just because of a little rain or snow.

The XF100-400mm 

XF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRXF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

This is the longest telephoto/zoom Fujifilm makes and it comes with the excellent 5-Stop OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser), a feature I've come to appreciate more each day as I crawl around the outdoors snapping images of wildlife. In use i've pulled off shots at insanely slow speeds without a tripod and the focusing is fast, smooth and "sooooo" quiet thanks to the LM (Twin-Linear Motors). Add weather resistance and your good to go for any environment you need to work in. Maybe it's firmware updates, practice or a combination, but I am getting some amazing images with this lens.

Stay tuned for PART 2 as I update on what I've removed from my gear bag...some of it may shock you but it's definitely time to move on.

Follow Me on Instagram: leighmillerofficial 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) bokeh fuji fujifilm fujinon gear nature photographer photography portraits super telephoto wildlife x-photographer http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/6/change-and-other-new-stuff Tue, 05 Jun 2018 18:53:05 GMT
Coffee | 2018 Video Reel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/2018-video-reel  

I finally finished my reels for 2018...3 months late and stuck in Calgary overnight enroute back to Toronto. I've actually got three different versions of this as I attempted to cut out several parts to remove individuals/elements and replace them with newer content. This version called "Coffee" is for social media etc. cut down to 1 minute for Instagram.

Cameras

  • Fujifilm X-T1/2, X70 and X-Pro2
  • Olympus E-M1
  • Sony A7 II
  • DJI Inspire I, Mavic Pro, Mavic Air
  • GoPro Hero 4

...and of course starring my Nespresso machine which I pretty much start every single day with when I'm home. I used a Zoom H5 to record all the various sound effects and edited in Final Cut Pro X.

Your going to want to  turn down your phone/ipad and/or listen to this with real speakers or headphones...

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) dji dji inspire 1 fujifilm gear gopro mavic olympus photographer photography pro" sony travel video http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/2018-video-reel Thu, 24 May 2018 21:00:16 GMT
RAW vs JPEG | WORKFLOW http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/raw-vs-jpeg-workflow Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-Pro2 W/XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR | 400mm F5.6 1/2000 ISO200

The debate rages on...

As cameras get better with each iteration the need to worry about shooting RAW or JPEG still remains for one simple reason: The camera can only do so much and only you can tell it exactly how you want an image to be captured. If we are talking about casual photography then who really cares...if you miss a shot or your exposure/focus is off, big deal. Professionals have different concerns as poorly captured images can have serious consequences.

I shot the image above nearly two (2) years ago to the day. (RAW capture on the left)

The assignment was simple enough..."evaluate the X-Pro2 and XF100-400mm lens and give us your honest feedback". Although there was no implicit request for sample images I'm always conscious of the possibility that the manufacturer may want them. Also I may be able to license the image out for use in editorials etc. As such I typically shoot RAW in order to give myself maximum flexibility.

The scene itself was extremely high contrast with the sun high above in the early afternoon. Then we have a subject which is much darker than the background/foreground, and partially in shadow. This is a nightmare in most cases. Expose for the shadows and blow the highlights, do that in reverse and your shadow detail is lost. In the case of the X-Pro2, the shadows may appear black but it retains a lot of detail which can be pushed several stops in editing. If I had taken the shot with my camera set to JPEG I might have gotten something that works well enough but limited in editing ability as the results are mostly baked-in. Shooting RAW allowed me to make maximum use of the X-Pro2's dynamic range so that I could push/pull the exposure during editing. While I'm at it, the white balance and color of selected areas were tweaked. Unless the aim to is to capture accurate color, I'll usually settle for something pleasing.

Finally, sharpening is critical here and if this is a serious assignment I won't trust that to the camera. With this example I sharpened the surfer and selective areas of the water independently.

For me shooting RAW vs JPEG is a matter of "WHY & HOW"...as in why would I give myself a ton of after-work (Conversion and Editing) if I'm shooting RAW and how the image is intended to be used. It's a personal choice I think...I've seen plenty of professionals/enthusiast work shot in JPEG. If you are good enough to capture the intended result without the cushion RAW files provide, go for it. I'm not so good...I like the cushion :-)

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) adobe editing fuji fujifilm gear jpeg photographer raw travel workflow http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/raw-vs-jpeg-workflow Mon, 21 May 2018 23:53:24 GMT
X-T2 & XF100-400mm | Presqu'ile Provincial Park http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/x-t2-xf100-400mm-presquile-provincial-park Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Cedar Waxwing | 400mm F/5.6 ISO800 1/2000 sec

Interesting and completely useless piece of information about the Cedar Waxwing, besides being absolutely gorgeous...this bird can thrive on a diet of fruit alone, all year long. I didn't even need a blind or camo...just wait a few minutes near a tree sporting berries and they come right along in large numbers.

Cedar WaxwingCedar WaxwingLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Another pretty good day of birding out at Presqu'ile Provincial Park...

The weather was near perfect with plenty of light and low winds coming off the lake. I was able to get away with ISO's between 400-800 and shutter speeds up around 1/1600's to freeze action.I wanted a day or two in the park ahead of the long weekend which is sure to see a crush of visitors for the Festival Of Birds.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca A word of advice if you are headed that way: Wear good hiking boots at the very least, but really you should throw a set of Wellies' in the trunk of your car. The eastern side of the point is flooded ankle deep. I destroyed a perfectly good set of sneakers...probably time to move on from them anyway.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Second, if you are at all scared of snakes just know that they are coming out now to soak up the warm sun and hunt for small rodents. As you walk along the trails or thru the bush you can hear a chorus of leaves rustling under these critters. While your at it, apply a thin spray of bug repellant. The air is thick as smoke with swarms of them...a good thing since the fly catcher birds are among the prettiest.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca On the beach side, shores birds are out in force...mostly Caspian Terns, Gulls, and Sandpipers of various breeds. There are four (4) look out stations...again you will want something in the order of 300mm or longer.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty. The best shots are from a shore level perspective. The beach was absolutely crawling with ladybugs and small spiders.. not sure if the birds were eating those as they seemed more interested in small bits washing up to shore from the water.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca I came home with a handful of them stowed away in my gear bag...trust me, from experience you don't want these multiplying in your house. They survive all year round' and get into everything.

Yellow WarblerYellow WarblerLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Warblers are among my favs and they are out in force as well making nests and chasing flies and other small insects. These little guys rarely stay still to have portraits taken and dart in and out of heavy brush. I tend to focus on where I think they will make a pass and wait. I watched this Yellow Warbler collect material to build a nest for the better part of an hour.

Eastern KingbirdEastern KingbirdLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca As I was leaving this Eastern Kingbird landed on a branch about 40 yards from the road. Again...nothing less than 300mm is going to make you happy and you want to head north of 400mm to make things comfortable.


Images for this article were taken with the Fujifilm X-T2, paired with the XF100-400mm telephoto zoom lens. The landscape shots are courtesy of the Fujifilm X70 (which isn't manufactured anymore).

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) animals bird birding fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless nature photographer photography travel wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/x-t2-xf100-400mm-presquile-provincial-park Fri, 18 May 2018 01:12:07 GMT
Getting The Shot! http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/getting-the-shot XF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRXF100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR | 400mm F5.6 ISO640 !/30 sec


Two part email (question) on how I get the shots..

The first question is pretty easy and slightly embarrassing. So thank you (Colin) for the compliment, I do take pride in my work but I'm far from perfect. The small village of people who are closest to me will tell you all the ways in which I'm very much imperfect. A handful of those can even teach a master class on my many deficiencies (they know who they are). The slowest shutter speed I've ever taken a wildlife image at is with the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens at 1/30th of a second (above). I was on the island of Bonaire enjoying a nice glass of rum when that Heron flew in and pitched on the edge of the pool. It had just finished raining and the light levels were fairly low when I grabbed the camera (X-Pro2) and took this shot. Fortunately a couple of things worked in my favour..

A) Optical Image Stabilizer..I can't stress enough how important this feature is on a telephoto lens over 200mm. If you don't have a stabilised model then get a good tripod or something else that will steady your shaky hands. The only time I break this rule is when the light levels are so high that my shutter speed is more than double the focal length. Fujifilm has really worked on this over the past few years and that shot is a testament to how well they have done. I actually didn't even take notice of how low the shutter speed was at the time. I was focused on lighting the bird and taking the shot before she flew away. The light bouncing off the pool water raised the shadow levels under her. You can see from the blue tinge of her feathers.

If I had paid attention to the details I might have increased the ISO to around 3200 to ensure a sharp capture. When I reviewed this on my computer and saw the shutter speed I was in amazement that it was pulled off at all. I'm pretty sure that I was a few glasses in on the Rum and it was a hot, sticky day. I'm not a fan of hot, sticky days.

B) This is where things get interesting.

You can get everything right and still not get a single shot worth keeping. I've come home with a full memory card only to delete every single image because they plain out sucked.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca The birds don't care how much you spent on your camera, lenses and all of that jazz. You go thru the motions to set exposure, get your composition right...line up the focusing and only to have the bird say "nah buddy...not today. I'm out of here". Sometimes they even mock you a little. They know you are there, sweating it out, second guessing yourself in agony...they just do their own thing. Who cares if they aren't pitched up against the perfect background...on  a natural looking branch.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca At best wildlife photography is really just serendipity.

Just like a broken clock is right twice a day...you just have to be in the right place at the right time and ready to take advantage of the situation. That's the interesting part. If missing a shot hurts you to the core and makes you physically ill. Wakes you up in the middle of the night filled with regret...then photography isn't a hobby. You are an enthusiast...if your income depends on it then you are a professional and that's an entirely different bag of worries.

But...the interesting part.

I've stated this before but here goes: Buy, Borrow or Rent the best equipment you can afford. For birds especially, nothing under 300mm will make you happy. Even then it's likely that adding a teleconverter will jussssst get you into the ball park. Birds will run, fly, waddle or swim away from you if you get beyond their comfort zone and you absolutely do not want to stress them out. 300, 400, 500, 600mm gives you enough room for you both to be safe and happy. To that end a good camera with fast autofocus and resolution for comfortable cropping is a good partner. Flash and tripod/monopods are optional and I never go out into the field without one or the other.

The most important investment you make though will be in yourself. I spend a lot of time just shooting...and watching others shoot and all that goes into my "learning" basket. The goal is to create an environment that gives you the best opportunity for success. I'm all about progress, not perfection and no matter how well I do there will always be that missed opportunity that wakes me up in a cold sweat....because I messed it up. After having my work featured in nearly 100 different publications I still worry about doing better each time I press the shutter.

Interesting Thing number two: It's not about the pictures...just being ensconced in nature. That experience of soaking it all in, no smartphone, no TV, no distractions. That's the prize and I don't know of a single wildlife photographer who cares about anything else.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) bird birding fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless nature photographer photography post processing retouching travel wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/getting-the-shot Wed, 16 May 2018 21:31:45 GMT
May Long Weekend Birding Road-Trip! http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/may-long-weekend-birding-road-trip Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

I've just come off a draining back to back assignment for travel & weddings and have just enough to time to do laundry and hit the gym before getting right back on the road for the May long weekend. I'm headed out to Point Pelee National Park for a few days of bird watching/photography. I love the Red Winged Blackbirds, Sparrows and Robins around here but I'm in the mood for change... I think they call it "The Festival of Birds' or something.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

I'm actually going to do something I typically shy away from...I booked myself on one of the tours for the first day. I figure with the crush of people heading out there this weekend it may help my chances of attaching to smaller groups who are a little more concerned with not disturbing the animals too much. I'll go it alone  the second day once I know my way around.

Stay tuned for images!


These images were shot with the X-T2 paired with an XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens with 1.4X TC at times.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) animal bird birding birds fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless nature photographer photography portrait post processing travel wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/may-long-weekend-birding-road-trip Tue, 15 May 2018 16:01:43 GMT
Snappers! | Wildlife Photography http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/snappers-wildlife-photography Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca In Legend.... The Turtle carries the world on it's back. It teaches patience & endurance, and the aptitude to be strong during difficult times. Just the other day I witnessed something truly amazing, a pair of mating Snapping Turtles. I was camped out in a remote section of woods backed unto to a large pond when suddenly there was a bunch of splashing off in the distance. My first thought was that it was an otter or a bunch of ducks so I went back to setting up my camera which was recently updated to FIRMWARE 4.0. I was planning on testing it out with a combination of video and still images.

It's rare enough to see a Snapper let alone a mating pair so when I hiked down to the water and saw the two of them I was in total shock. I ran back up to the camp site and grabbed my X-T2 and rattled off some choice shots and video before they finished up and swam off to opposite ends of the pond.

These creatures are amazing...they only become sexually active in their 20's and while they aren't endangered yet, there is considerable pressure from habitat bi-section and of course...human interference. The females can store sperm for anywhere from 1 to 3 years. She chooses WHEN to reproduce all by herself.


The images and video for this article were taken with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF100-400mm telephoto lens. The video was shot at 1080p (60 frames per second) and conformed to a 24p timeline. The footage itself was converted from F-LOG and graded in Final Cut Pro X.


Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) adobe animals fuji fujifilm gear nature photographer turtles wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/snappers-wildlife-photography Sat, 12 May 2018 04:33:48 GMT
Presqu'ile Provincial Park Birding http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/presquile-provincial-park-birding Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

I took a detour on the way home (about 2 1/2 hours) to stop off at Presqu'ile Provincial Park and spent a few hours chasing birds around. I've passed Brighton, Ontario a few times but didn't know the park existed until recently. It's on a must visit list for bird spring migrations (specifically Presqu'ile Point). The official festival doesn't kick off until the long weekend of this month but there are already lot's of interesting arrivals.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca This guy soaked up a good hour as I tracked him through the heavy branches and twigs. In the process I found out something about the XF100-400mm that took me by complete surprise.  First, I've always shot it at 400mm wide open at F/5.6, which works great because it blurs backgrounds nicely and renders a very sharp image. On this occasion I stoped down between F/6.4-7.1 which results in images that barely need to be sharpened in editing.

Second, the size of the AF squares matter. I had mine set to the largest size and I could barely lock unto the bird as it darted in and out of the branches. I could see it moving around inside a big blurry blob of bokeh but the lens refused to find focus.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Once I reduced the square to the smallest size the focusing barely missed. I was able to pick up the bird with sniper-like precision with minimal hunting. My experience has been the opposite...larger sizes for AF speed and smaller for precision.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay longer, Midway through the hike I got a text advising me that this little beauty had arrived!

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca It had to be retrieved from my concierge and wrapped for it's new owner who is headed to Europe to thank her mother in person.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) birding birds fuji fujifilm gear nature photographer wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/presquile-provincial-park-birding Tue, 08 May 2018 01:02:08 GMT
Spring Migration | Day I http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/spring-migration-day-i Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

[In My Area] Those critical three (3) weeks of bird migration are underway and I've rearranged my usual schedule so I can catch as much of it as possible. I've got four (4) major hotspots to hit; Point Pelee, Macgregor Point, Long Point and Presqu'ile for the Warblers and Whimbrels weekend festival.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning...hard thing to do in cottage country. Not a soul is looking for you, the weather is great and your dead tired. I did it anyway and was out the door and on the road by 5AM. I arrived just before the sun turned on and got set up in a decent blind to grab some shots before the light turned harsh.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca As usual I shot these with my daily driver, the Fujifilm X-T2 paired with the XF100-400mm telephoto zoom lens. Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop are used for editing.


Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Canadian Goose are pretty common but I love watching them take off and land. The power in those wings to haul it's massive body into the air... This one got chased off by a pair he was trying to intrude upon.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

A pair of Harlequin or Common Merganser (I think) gliding through the water as they feed, occasionally harassed by an otter that popped up at random.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Some type of Warbler but it was way too far off in the distance to make a distinction. This area is "Bird Managed" and venturing into the thickets and under-brush is prohibited off the established trails. Good for the birds...extra dose of patience for birders. NO 1.4X TC for me today...a casualty of getting up earlier than I used to these days. Lazy wretch.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) bird birding birds nature nature photography nuthatch outdoors warbler wildlife wildlife photography http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/spring-migration-day-i Sun, 06 May 2018 23:22:49 GMT
The Five Things of Bird Photography http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/the-five-things-of-bird-photography Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Stare Down | X-T2 W/XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR


Birding season is here....FINALLY!

I haven't given it any serious effort since 2012...which coincided with my changeover from Canon to Fujifilm. Back then Fuji didn't have a prime or telephoto zoom that was equivalent. That changed with the introduction of the XF100-400mm lens. The 5 things I'll touch on here can be applied to any camera system though.

Just a foreword: If you are an amateur or hobby birder, please don't waste too much time with the fine details of the information in this post. Get yourself a decent camera and long lens, wait for good weather with lot's of light and go outside for a few hours of fun. If however, this is a serious pursuit then you will want to pay close attention. Skimping on any one of these five things will seriously hold you back.

1) Megapixels, Auto-Focus and great Dynamic Range

Buy a very good camera...resolution should be at least 16 Megapixels because you will be cropping. Some bird species are so small that you can palm 3 or 4 of them in one hand and still have plenty of room to hold a set of car keys. Annoyingly those small ones...are among the most interesting and beautiful. Even with a long focal length of say...600mm [See No. 2] you will have to crop for composition and have enough leftover for a decent sized print.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca You won't always have time to fine-tune your composition. The bird lands...and you aim, adjust exposure as best you can and take the shot(s). Later on you can make it conform to the rule of thirds to keep the technical people happy. I've very rarely viewed an image with the animal dead-center that appeals to me. I shot that particular image this way to give myself framing options.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-T2 | 1/300 sec F6.4 at ISO400

Occasionally I mess up big time...focus is off etc. The very worst is when I completely blow the exposure and end up with this. If your camera has a nice wide dynamic range you can significantly edit the image to save an otherwise decent capture. The image of a crane above is a classic example and good reminder that neither me or the camera are perfect. I was exposed for the bright background which rendered the bird dark but I could tell that it was a sharp capture. I boosted it about 2 1/2 stops with a few other little tricks for the final printable shot.

Essential to bird photography is a camera/ens combo that focuses very fast. Birds tend to move around quickly the smaller they are. Larger birds such as cranes, egrets, ducks etc. tend to be more predictable. Even they are typically on the move. Your gear must be able to acquire a focus lock without too much hesitation. Each camera platform is slightly different but your going to want one with enough focus points to cover the entire viewfinder which aids in getting your composition very close to finished right in camera. I myself alternate between a small focus group or single point focus. Whether you opt for continuous focus or not is a personal choice. 

2) A very long lens

I'm not kidding...get something on the order of 300mm or longer. These lenses are not cheap. A 300mm prime lens in the F4-F5.6 category will set you back at least $2,000 and if you get brave enough to look at an F2.8 model your going up significantly into the $3-8K range depending on which camera platform you use....Canon makes an 800mm monster at nearly $20K. I actually have friends who have sold valuable assets including cars in order to fund these things.

AND SAFETY

A less expensive option is to get yourself a telephoto zoom.

A zoom is infinitely more versatile and can potentially lighten your gear bag for a long day out in the field. If you are going this way then get one with image stabilisation or make room in your budget for a sturdy tripod.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

These lenses will be large just to accommodate the massive amounts of glass they employ. Which reminds me..if the lens does not come with a tripod collar, make sure to add that to the purchase price as well. It's essential for two reasons...it takes the weight/pressure off the lens mount and allows for portrait and landscape orientation without messing with your setup.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca By the way, going with a crop sensor multiplies your focal length making that 300mm lens an effective 450mm (**). On a micro four thirds body it becomes a 600mm setup. On top of that you can very likely add a 1.5X or 2.0X telephoto converter for even more reach.

3) Fast Memory Cards

Whether SD or CF cards, get a set with large capacity (32GB+) and fast enough to keep up with your camera. You only have to learn this lesson once when you let off a burst of frames and the camera locks up while the image buffer empties. 16MB files probably won't cause too much of a headache but once your dealing with a 24MB+ RAW file that all changes.  Action/performance oriented cameras can rattle off frames like a machine gun. Skimp here and you will be watching the birds come and go instead of making images. I personally would not use a card with a Read/Write speed of less than 200MB per/sec. Understand though that these R/W numbers from card manufacturers are theoretical (IMHO). My advice...try several different brands and go from there.

http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com 4) Get Used to high ISO

ISO 400 is just a starting point and more likely than not you will be between 1600 and 3200. [SEE #1].

Unless you like blurry or out of focus images you need a very high shutter speed on the range of 1/500 to 1/2000 which can be a big challenge in heavy cover or overcast days. The idea is to overcome your shaky hand movements and freeze the subject's motion. You just have to trust that your camera has good performance in this area...Full-Frame, APSc and Micro Four Thirds sensors in that order. There is just no way around the science but depending on the camera model and your post-processing skills that may not be a big issue.

5) Get Some Camouflage Outfits

When it comes to camouflage I'm of two minds...on the one hand this is an area of photography where blending into the environment actually increases your chances of getting closer to the subject animals. When they are comfortable your images will be much less forced and nothing beats a natural look. On the other hand...can you go too far? 

I've heard all the jokes...mostly from friends and family but it's a practical matter so suck it up and get suited. My girl was particularly cruel. Since my threshold is low, I keep things simple. Hat, Top/Bottoms, gloves and dark colored boots. On occasion I will break out the lens coat to complete the kit when using a lens that is any color but black.

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) bird birding fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless nature photographer wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/5/the-five-things-of-bird-photography Fri, 04 May 2018 16:31:09 GMT
Gone Birding... http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/4/gone-birding


I'm no lover of warm weather...

Spring however brings the one event that I look forward to almost as much as the next Winter...migrating birds. It's still early but I'm out of practice so I've been heading outside as much as my schedule allows hoping to catch anything that flies. April started off pretty desperate...cold snaps and frequent snow then four days ago the clouds parted and it's been blue skies. Perfect lighting in the mornings and early evenings for birding. So far I've managed to spend time in the field from Algonquin Provincial Park all the way down to Point Pelee National Park...though the latter is still restricted.

Central to that has been the XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR + The 1.4X TC attached to the Fujifilm X-T2, my daily driver. Pegging a target smaller than your hand at 20 yards or more...not easily done without the right gear.

I've written follow up reviews [HERE] and [HERE] and I can definitely tell you that nothing replaces quality time with your gear. I rarely bother with reviews where the writer basically picks up the camera/lens and churns out photos of cats and action figures. This lens needs a good investment in time even for seasoned long-lens users. My hit rate has gone way up over the past few months even in challenging light. It's lived at 400mm (600mm *35mm) the majority of the time and renders images with lot's of energy and presence.

Sadly I have to pack it away fro the next week or two as I'm off on an assignment to a location where it would really be fun in my off-time. It's a space issue..I like my gear to fit in the overhead compartment of planes. I'm taking along just enough equipment to get my job done and fly out as soon as possible. Also a lens this big catches a lot of attention. I don't need the hassle of watching for potential trouble the entire trip.

A small note..my nature photography workflow is due for an update but I'll do that by way of a video in the very near future. For the time being the heavy lifting is still getting done in Adobe Lightroom, while noise reduction, local area adjustment and sharpening are finished off in Photoshop. I've started using Defin2 in the Nik Software collection for more targeted noise management but who knows for how long...the company that bought the application from Google just filed for bankruptcy protection...sigh.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/500 F5.6

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO800 560mm (840mm *35mm) 1/1250 F8

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/500 F5.6

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/500 F5.6

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/400 F5.6

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/500 F5.6

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/640 F5.6

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO400 400mm (600mm *35mm) 1/2000 F5.6

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) animals bird bird watching birding birds canada fuji fujifilm nature ontario outdoors photographer photography southern ontario wildlife http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/4/gone-birding Sat, 28 Apr 2018 00:52:04 GMT
Copyright Foolishness | We did it to ourselves.. http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/4/copyright-foolishness-we-did-it-to-ourselves


I've been tracking a story for a few years now...waiting to see how it would play out.

A photographer and PETA (on behalf of a Crested Black Macaque) fight over who has copyrights to a set of images which the Monkey shot with said photographer's camera. Yup. You read that right. Here is the story...and get yourself a glass of [INSERT BEVERAGE HERE]:

One Mr. David J Slater was undertaking a photoshoot of a Crested Black Macaque troup when they got the better of him enough to lay distractions so they could play with his camera. Before he got the camera back one of the monkeys had taken a bunch of photos including a "Selfie". Most reasonable people would agree that the human who owns the camera and was directly responsible for the images being created in the first place is in fact the copyright holder. PETA disagreed and argued that the monkey who snapped the images was entitled to claim ownership...sigh. Foolishness.

I love animals...more than people even if I'm honest and I prefer them in the wild, unimpeded by humans. To suggest however that they are legally entitled to copyrights of images is ridiculous. Don't get me wrong...I believe that our closest non-human relative is incredibly interesting but by my definition they are not PEOPLE. Only people can file claims to assert rights. The 9th circuit court agreed.

Prior to this ruling the photographer and PETA actually reached a settlement which saw Slater agreeing to share profits from the Selfie picture in question, an agreement I thought was sheer lunacy (I used stronger language at the time). As a photographer who shoots weddings among other services, I employ other talented people to work as my second or assistant. Both job roles require image making regardless of whether or not it's done with my camera. All of the images fall under my copyright with those contractors being subject to restrictions on how they may use my images (portfolio) etc. The fact that they made some of the images is irrelevant unless we made some arrangement to the contrary.

I am over the moon happy that the courts rejected that rubbish settlement and elected to play out the case. Now we have a precedent which all photographers should take note of because it's been our inattention to this major detail of our work that got us here. I'm guilty as well...but I learned to be more serious about it after having a fair bit of images stolen over the years. For instance, any images of importance are shared only after my full name (Leigh Miller), Copyright and contact information is inserted into the EXIF. In the past I used my initials (Jr. Miller) but that was far too common and several photo thieves with matching initials have misappropriated my work. Now when I catch someone using one of my images without permission or attribution I have more than an empty threat of a lawsuit to work with.

Every professional photographer should make it a weekend assignment to learn more about Copyright laws in (your) jurisdiction. Never accept organizations like PETA pushing their interpretations on you. Also stop working for FREE. If you don't value your own time and talent nobody else will. You can't pay bills with "exposure" or "shout-outs". Just try it...go down to your bank and ask to pay the mortgage with exposure, see what they tell you. Of course this doesn't extend to personal projects or favours for family and friends. I will typically refer those people to other photographers anyway.

Times are hard and when you are chasing every dollar it might seem like a good idea but trust me on this...customers you raise on free work, rarely grow up to be paying clients. 

And just so we are clear, you can do all the right things and still have images stolen. In just the past two years alone some very major corporations (including two camera manufacturers) have been caught using images they didn't license or attribute to the copyright holders. Knowing how to handle that will ensure that you don't lose your cool and behave unprofessionally while increasing your chances of a favourable resolution.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh MILLER) business copyright photographer photography http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2018/4/copyright-foolishness-we-did-it-to-ourselves Tue, 24 Apr 2018 22:42:06 GMT