Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Photos Inside the Art Institute of Seattle After it Abruptly Closed

I photographed the Art Institute of Seattle 3 days after it was abruptly shut down. I taught photography at AiS since October 2007. I think it is important for these images to get out as this is what it looks like when a school closes.

On Friday, March 8, 2019, the Art Institute of Seattle abruptly closed with just two weeks left in the winter quarter, leaving students, faculty, and staff scrambling in a rough situation.

On Monday, March 11th, 2019, I wandered the halls of AiS after having taught there for over twelve years.

This is what was left.

About the author: Melinda Hurst Frye is a Seattle-based exhibiting artist, working in themes of implied environments and shared experiences within the still life aesthetic. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Her current work illustrates the mystery and activity of Northwest subterranean and residential Seattle ecosystems, including her front yard. Hurst Frye has been featured on Humble Arts Foundation, Lenscratch, WIRED Photo, and in various solo and group exhibitions. You can find more of her work on her website and Instagram. This series was also published here.



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Nikon updates Capture NX-D, ViewNX-i and Picture Control Utility to address various bugs

Nikon has updated its Capture NX-D, ViewNX-i and Picture Control Utility 2 programs to address multiple bugs and add new features.

Nikon Capture NX-D

Nikon Capture NX-D version 1.5.2 is mainly about fixing various crashes and glitches that would occur when using the app. Below is a thorough rundown of the ten issues that have been fixed, according to the changelog:

  1. The application would crash under some conditions.
  2. If the Specify size option was selected in the batch processing dialog, some time would elapse before the Start button would be available.
  3. Changes to image length in the Convert Files dialog would sometimes not be matched by changes to width.
  4. All changes to NEF/NRW (RAW) pictures made with NEF/NRW + JPEG enabled would be lost when the files were saved in JPEG format.
  5. Batch processing and file conversion could not be resumed once paused.
  6. The application would sometimes fail to launch.
  7. Image artifacts (“noise”) would increase in pictures saved in other formats.
  8. Straighten now functions as intended.
  9. Files saved at an image quality of “99” would be larger than those saved at an image quality of “100”.
  10. Portions of NEF (RAW) images shot with the Z 6 would sometimes not display correctly after the pictures were saved using NEF processing.

Nikon Capture NX-D version 1.5.2 can be downloaded for macOS and Windows computers on Nikon's website.

Nikon ViewNX-i

Nikon ViewNX-i version 1.3.2 fixes two main issues found in version 1.3.1. The first is an issue that caused files saved at an image quality of 99 to be larger in size than images captured at an image quality of 100. The update also fixes a problem that caused files being saved using 'Ctrl+S' to lose or alter the XMP/IPTC information.

Nikon ViewNX-i version 1.3.2 can be downloaded for macOS and Windows computers on Nikon's website.

Nikon Picture Control Utility

Last up is Picture Control Utility version 2.4.2. This update fixes an issue that caused some NEF images shot with Nikon Z6 cameras to not be displayed properly after the images were saved.

Picture Control Utility version 2.4.2 can be downloaded for macOS and Windows computers on Nikon's website.



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The Best Fujifilm X-Series Kits for Travel Photography

The post The Best Fujifilm X-Series Kits for Travel Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

Travel has always been my first love. In 1994 I bought my first camera – a Pentax Zoom 90 WR point and shoot – because I was going to Europe for a two-year working holiday. The only way to share photos with family back then was to have the film developed and post the prints home!

While photography (and technology) has changed remarkably in the last 25 years, what you should look for in a camera for travel photography is much the same: small, light, capable of great results and preferably weather resistant.

I’ve used all sorts of camera brands over the years. However, for me, Fujifilm X-Series cameras and lenses are the perfect travel companions. Whether it’s a trip to the Australian outback, visiting remote Buddhist temples in the Javanese jungle, photographing puffins in the Faroe Islands or capturing traffic trails in Taiwan, my X-Series cameras have always produced stunning results. Here are my recommended Fujifilm X-Series kits for your next big adventure.

Best minimalist kit

Camera: Fujifilm X100F
Lens: Fixed F2 Fujinon lens
Weight: 469 grams

The best minimalist kit choice was easily the stunning Fujifilm X100F. This is the best compact digital camera ever made. Yes, it really is that good!

Many photographers – including diehard users of other brands – use this as their “take everywhere” shooter. The X100F is small and quiet, and the fast f/2 Fujinon lens creates beautiful images. It may be small, but it boasts an impressive array of features including a leaf shutter and built-in neutral density filter.

Like all the cameras I feature in this article, the X100F can shoot RAW alongside Fujifilm’s array of stunning JPG film simulations, that replicate the look of classic films such as Provia and Velvia. Fujifilm cameras produce the best JPGs I’ve seen straight out of the camera.

This choice is a little unusual as it has a fixed lens. That’s right. You can’t take it off and swap it for another lens. If the 23mm focal length (35mm in full-frame terms) isn’t your preferred choice, the system also has wide-angle conversion and telephoto converter lenses. However, these do add extra weight to your kit. One of the few downsides to the X100F is that it’s not weather resistant. But, at least it’s small enough to fit in your pocket during a downpour.

One body plus one lens kit

Camera body: X-T30
Lens: XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens
Approximate weight: 693 grams

If you only have space to take one body and one lens on a trip, I would recommend the brand new Fujifilm X-T30 with the XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens. I’ve been using this line of cameras since buying the X-T10 as a second body back up to my X-T1, and I’ve also used the X-T20. The X-T cameras with a “0” after them are lighter, cheaper, non-weather resistant versions of the flagship models, but usually feature much of the same technology. For example, the X-T30 has the same 26.1MP X-Trans 4 CMOS sensor as the X-T3.

Alternatives for the camera body would be the X-T20 and the X-E3. The X-T20 gives you a screen that tilts up and down for overhead and low to the ground shots. Whereas, the X-E3 is the more minimalist choice, and features a joystick that controls where the focus point is in the frame. The X-T30 and the X-T3 have both of these features.

My choice of lens for this kit is the XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS. Not only is it one of my favorite Fujifilm lenses, but it’s also the lens that I’ve used the most over the last three years.

Often sold with camera bodies, many newcomers to the X-Series remark that the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens is “surprisingly good for a kit lens.” In no way is this lens like the subpar beginner kit lenses produced by other manufacturers. The XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS is a stunningly sharp lens in its own right and has produced some of my favorite images ever.

It may not be weather resistant, but it does feature OIS (optical image stabilization) to ensure your shots are as sharp as possible at lower shutter speeds. It’s a variable aperture zoom lens, meaning that the maximum aperture changes as you zoom through the range. However, you can still shoot at f/2.8 at the 18mm focal length, and f/4 at the 55mm end. It’s a top lens for landscape, cityscape, and portraits.

Best kit under 1kg

Camera body: X-T30
Lenses: XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS + XF 35mm f/1.4 R
Approximate weight: 880 grams

My picks for the best kit weighing under 1kg include the same choices as the ‘One body plus one lens’ kit above, with the addition of the XF 35mm f/1.4 R. The first time I used this lens, I was blown away by its sharpness and stunning bokeh. It’s a top lens for portraits, still life subjects and even street shooting.

It did have a reputation of being slow to focus, but with Fujifilm’s ongoing firmware updates to both lenses and camera bodies, this has greatly improved. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in any situation. This lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 that enables you to shoot images handheld at night without raising the ISO too high or lowering the shutter speed too low.

One zoom, two fast primes kit

Camera bodies: X-T30
Lenses: XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS + XF 35 1.4 R + XF 60mm f2.4 R Macro
Approximate weight: 1.095kg

For a lightweight travel kit weighing just over 1kg and featuring two fast prime lenses, add the XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro to the kit above. This is another option often overlooked by newer lenses on the block, but it offers superb image quality for portraits and macro shots.

Although it’s not a true macro lens (it offers 1:2 magnification rather than the standard 1:1 magnification for a true macro lens), it is an incredibly light option for close up shots. It weighs less than a third of the weight of Fujifilm’s XF 80mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens.

Best weather resistant kit

Camera bodies: X-T3
Lenses: XF 16mm F1.4 R WR, 23f2, XF 50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR.
Approximate weight: 2.6 kg check

The best weather resistant kit features Fujifilm’s newest X-Series flagship camera. The X-T3 has won high praise from users and critics alike since its release in mid-2018. It is an impressive performer, having the fastest autofocus in the X-Series lineup and a continuous shooting rate of up to 20 frames per second. I’ve really enjoyed using this camera alongside my X-T2, which is still an excellent camera.

The newcomer to this kit is the XF 16 f/1.4 WR lens – often praised as the best lens in the X-Series lineup. Weather resistant, the lens is optically stunning, and a solid performer for landscape, cityscape, and low light shots. With a close focusing distance of 15cm, the XF 16 f1.4 WR lens is highly versatile. I’ve loved using it for food photography.

Best travel kit with zoom lenses

Camera bodies: X-T3 and X-T30
Lenses: XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS and XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR.
Weight: 1.8kg

This kit gives you the best of both worlds: the light X-T30 with the XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens, and a weather resistant combo of the X-T3 with the stunning XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens.

Weighing in at 995 grams, you might actually question why I would choose this lens as part of a travel kit? I’ve even been laughed at when I’ve suggested this lens for travel. Although it’s heavy, this lens is a must-have in my travel photography kit.

Like an equivalent focal range 70-200mm, the lens has a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, meaning that you can shoot with a shallow depth of field throughout the zoom range. This is particularly helpful during low light situations, or to achieve shallow depth of field at any time.

This XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens also features OIS (optical image stabilization) and has a pleasing bokeh. I’ve used this lens for landscape, cityscape, and portraits. If I could only pick one lens for travel, I’d have to flip a coin to choose between the two amazing zooms in this kit.

If you have different weight or budget considerations, you could substitute the excellent XF 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens in this kit. I’ve never regretted taking this lens along with me on trips, but if you plan on shooting in low light at the far range of the zoom, you will be shooting at a maximum aperture of f/4.8, which may slow down shutter speeds. Thankfully, this is another lens with OIS (optical image stabilization).

My favorite kit

Camera bodies: X-T3 and X-T2
Lenses: XF 16mm F/1.4 R WR + XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS + XF 35mm f/1.4 R + XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS..



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How a Joint Photo Shoot Helped Me Understand Style

What is style? This is a question to which I’ve given a lot of thought. The best answer I’ve come up with is that your style is the sum of all your choices.

Warning: This article contains portraits that may not be safe for work.

Style is not presets or filters or film emulators. Those are all just choices that can contribute to your style. Style is not your in-camera “Picture Control”: Standard, Neutral, Portrait, Vivid, etc., but those too can contribute to your style if you use them with purpose. Black and white itself is not a style, but the deliberate choice to use it to achieve a specific result is (and for that matter, a black and white image is not automatically “artistic”).

The Rule of Thirds is not style either, but your choice to adhere to it, or to deliberately break the rule, can be part of your style. Your ultra fast prime, your new mirrorless body, your sensor size, and resolution; these things are definitely not your style, but how and why you choose each tool and how and why you use them, is.

Style develops slowly over a long period of time. When I first started out, I shot everything: portraits, still-lifes, street, landscapes, macro, sports, etc. I was sampling all these different kinds of photography and in doing so, learning what topics interested me and what topics did not. After some time, my focus began to narrow, and I found that I favored certain topics more than others. But I also found that I started making and repeating certain choices again and again: lenses, lighting, angles, models, poses, etc. At the same time, I also began to observe and recognize the developing style of my photographer friends.

Sometimes the best way to think about style is to think about it relative to someone else’s style. The choices you make consistently may contrast strongly with those of a fellow photographer and that could help you start to see and understand your style. I got a chance to see this in action in a joint photo shoot with my friend and fellow photographer, David Hatfield.

Since Dave did the work to put this collaboration together with Breanne, our model, and since they worked jointly on the concept, Dave took the lead in the shoot. He was the primary photographer, which meant that the pressure was on him to deliver good photos. This had two unexpected benefits:

1. With no pressure on me, it meant I was free to just play. I could experiment with different compositions and try out some ideas—ideas I might have otherwise not considered because I’d be too worried about getting a “safe” and usable shot (if only I could approach every shoot this way!).

2. It helped to really highlight the differences in our respective styles.

I was never a big fan of the idea of joint photo shoots. I always figured I’d end up with the same shots as the other photographer(s). But this photo shoot showed me otherwise. And the added benefit of being able to shoot without any pressure and without any real attachment to the result made for a really fun shooting experience. I’d recommend it to any photographer out there asking questions about style. Get together with a friend, set up a photo shoot, and see how different (or how similar) your results are.

Over the years, Dave and I have developed and grown together as photographers. I think he is the better photographer of the two of us. But in terms of pure technical ability, we’re at the same level. So we should technically be able to make the exact same photos. And yet, our style can and does differ substantially.

Check out the results:

First, Dave:

Now, me:

And here are Dave’s photos from the second half of our shoot:

And my photos from the second half of the shoot:

Dave likes grit and texture. He likes film emulations and film grains especially. But he uses them well. They’re necessary to his process. They work for him. When I use them, it feels weird, forced.

I like a really clean image that’s got minimal post process. And yet, I’ll obsess over every last detail. I didn’t like the position of some water droplets in some images from the shower scene, so I removed them or repositioned them.

I will go through multiple versions of each photo, taking weeks to arrive at a “final” edit (quotes added because I might come back at an even later date to make more tweaks to my photo!). Dave will take his JPEGs directly from his camera, make some quick global edits, apply and tweak whatever effects he decides are needed (and masks them out where they’re not needed), crops, and he’s done and on to the next project. I don’t think I’ve ever known him to go back and re-edit old work.

We both like high contrast images. But I prefer softer lighting while Dave often favors harder, direct light. For this shoot, Dave lit the shower scene mainly with handheld LED flashlights (usually ~$8 to $15 each). That would never have even occurred to me.

Speaking more generally, our approaches are different too. He’s more confident and tenacious. For the shower scene, he put his camera in a water housing so he could get water spraying directly on his lens (within the housing) while he made some portraits. Again, I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to shoot this way. Instead, I shot through the glass of the shower door, alternately focusing on Breanne, and also on the water droplets on the glass. I think both are good approaches and make for dramatic, moody portraits. Is one better than the other? I don’t know, but Dave’s work is pretty d*mn good if you ask me.

Dave working the scene from inside the shower

I’m the more introverted of the two of us. I prefer to observe, hang back a bit, and then approach a scene carefully and methodically. I like to do a bit more planning and studying. In a shoot like this one, it can take me dozens or even hundreds of frames to arrive at a scene and composition I like, and even then I’ll keep shooting, to be absolutely sure I have the shot I want. Dave gets there faster, and moves along to the next scene, faster. He’s more decisive with his compositions.

And yet, for all my indecision, all that clicking around can often get me to a shot that turns out to be really successful, one I would never had made if I hadn’t persisted. I’m not sure Dave has the patience for that kind of process. But my approach isn’t necessarily better. My persistence doesn’t always pay off. I’ll stay on a scene and shoot hundreds and hundreds of throw-away shots, looking for a something that works, where Dave will quit the scene and find another shot, and fast.

He likes to be spontaneous where I’m a bit more cautious, deliberate. I think we need both kinds of photographers. Both are valid. I like to joke that if he’s Kirk, I’m Spock. Our personalities are very different, and these differences are reflected in the kind of photography we do, and, ultimately, in the photographs we make.

To anyone thinking about how to further develop their style, the advice is simple: Shoot more. A lot more. Then go back over your work, and see what choices you’re making consistently. Better yet, get together with your fellow photographers, consider doing some joint photo shoots, and see just how different (or similar) you are. See what you can learn about your own style, but also take the opportunity to learn from each other. And of course, share the results.

About the author: Carlos Chavez is an aspiring photographer based in San Diego, California. You can find more of his work on his website. This article was also published here.



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