Feeling Discouraged Some Days? Marines, God and Days Of Elijah Will Pick You Up

Sunday we sang a favorite hymn of ours during church services, Days of Elijah. Afterwards our minister said it moved him deeply, in part because he recently had watched a YouTube video of young Marines at worship singing the same song. He didn’t elaborate, just advised us to watch it if we had the chance. I did.

If you ever have days when you fear for our country, when you wonder what might happen to what we what hold so dear, take heart. At least as far as our men and women serving in our armed forces, we are in good hands.

Take a moment and celebrate with these Marines. Celebrate our God and our country. And give thanks.

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Rhino Beetle Macro: February Projects

Just your ordinary Rhino beetle sitting around on your desktop.

The winter weather here in Bloomington isn’t the worst we ever have experienced, but it still isn’t conducive to spending a lot of time outdoors with a camera in my hand (yes, I am getting softer as I get older, I guess). But there are plenty of other shooting opportunities during these colder periods. I mentioned recently doing some macros; the snapshot at the top of this post is part of my desktop right now. And that big bug sitting in front of the keypad? That’s a Rhino Beetle, a most handsome specimen that is coming back to life as a photo project.

The reason I haven’t finished this particular project is not pure laziness on my part – shooting insects has turned out to be a bit more time-consuming than I had imagined. First, of course, is everyday life. It gets in the way of most projects, and this one was no exception. Then it took a bit between the bug ordering and the bug delivery. I would not have guessed that the Dead Insect World was quite so lively … but Connie over at ButterfliesandThings.com (here is a link to this most interesting website) is constantly busy filling orders (in the order received). So I had to get in line to receive my shipment of these beautiful (but far from lively) critters. And when the insects arrive they are not in photographic form.

Remember that last dried up spider you found in the dusty corner of your room (c’mon, we all find one once in a while)? It’s legs all pulled in, sort of mummified? Well, that is pretty much how your store-bought bugs arrive, although they are in small clear packages to protect those delicate little body parts. Your job is then to re-hydrate them. Connie has a bunch of how-to videos over on her website that will lead you through the process. Rather remarkably to me, it turned out not to be all that difficult. There are videos on hydrating and spreading (pinning them into the position you want them to take) and displaying and all sorts of things you need to learn before you can begin taking photographs. And all that takes some time.

Take my Rhino Beetle, for example (a most beautiful example). He is a pretty big boy, measuring some four inches or so long. With his bony head and big body it took two full days for him to re-hydrate (inside a Gladware container, wrapped in wet paper towels). Once you can move his legs and head around easily you have to use a whole lot of pins to put him into the position you want so he can dry. And that took two full days, also. Since I am new at this I am doing my new friends one at a time; all that was more than I had originally calculated.

I have two more insects to go, and I worked on one of them yesterday (the Asian scorpion). She is small, and small is difficult (you have to be really careful grabbing tiny legs and pincers). The bigger kids are easier to manipulate; they have larger moving parts. Then I have my Praying Mantis to do, and I will be ready to start taking photos. And what I have figured out thus far is you have to have a shooting plan for insects the same way you would for people shots. It doesn’t take all that long for a straight-on, ordinary bug shot to become a little boring. Bugs, like people, are best when they have a story to tell. And, of course, planning out that shoot takes even more time. Which is not to say I haven’t been enjoying myself. I have been learning and doing something new, which always makes the time go by quickly. It’s just that I first envisioned ordering a bug and taking a picture of it the day it arrived in the mail. Right …….

Stay tuned for some bug shots. Assuming my Praying mantis stands upright as I am thinking of posing her. And that another antenna doesn’t fall off my ant. Or that life doesn’t get in the way this week. But it all is good … camera in hand.

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Lindsay Adler’s New Studio Lighting Guide: 50% Discount

Jamie fashion-Edit-Edit-4-Edit
Think what I could have done if I had Lindsay Adler’s new studio lighting guide!

I have a valuable tip for you today, one that will save you 50% off the regular price of Lindsay Adler’s brand new Studio Lighting Guide. I have watched several of her lighting/shooting videos over on KelbyOne; I am a fan. I was able to watch most of two days (of the three scheduled) of her Studio Lighting 101 class on Creative Live this week (marvelous instruction. Clear, concise, full of valuable tips). And I was most impressed with her thoughts and teaching on creativity at David Ziser’s PhotoPro Expo in Covington, KY last week. Now I am even more of a fan.

Lindsay recently released a new guide on Studio Lighting. It contains all the information you will need for 60 lighting setups for studio lighting (and if you take it outside, they certainly are going to work there, also). There are diagrams and illustrations and behind-the-scenes shots and written explanations for each setup. Lindsay is a high-end fashion shooter who is able to teach what she knows to the rest of us, and she is able to translate her shoots into the ones we may be doing closer to home. She is good, folks. This guide is going to be a valuable one for many of us.

You can click here to visit Lindsay’s site and read the details about this new guide. And you can see that it retails for a fairly reasonable price of $29.99. But don’t buy it at that price. I’m going to save you some money with one simple piece of advice. All of her most popular older guides have been offered by PhotoWhoa (a site I have recommended in the past) not all that long after appearing on Lindsay’s site. And each has been offered there for $15, a 50% discount. Every time. I can almost promise you that this new guide will be no different. Be patient and wait just a while (I will even watch for you and let you know when it appears on PhotoWhoa).

You can sign up for a free account (no strings; no constant sales pitches) on PhotoWhoa by clicking here. I have one, and I am happy to see what the site periodically offers in terms of deals (and, of course, you can unsubscribe if you ever want to). When Lindsay’s guide is offered, you will know about it right away.

This new guide is worth the original asking price. But it is a steal at 50% off. I am waiting a while to take advantage of what I am sure is on its way. Let me suggest you do the same.

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E-Coupons For Iris Pro Imaging, Picsera, H+H Color Lab, And ACI

Camp flowers
I’m picturing this image as a free 11×14 print.

One last follow-up from last week’s PhotoPro Expo in Covington, KY. The trade show was a good one, a chance to see up close and personal some of the interesting products we have been reading about. There were a lot of generous vendors who were kind enough to offer some nice discounts on their wares, giving us a chance to try out some of them for not a lot of money. I will share some of those offers with you today, allowing you to do the same.

I was impressed with ACI (American Color Imaging) and their framed metal prints (I haven’t seen that offering anywhere else). A link to their site can be found here. And they are offering us 50% all backgrounds (use promocode BG5015). If you use promocode THIRTY5BA you can secure 35% off books and albums. Order your products between now and March 1st to take advantage of these deals. Thank you, ACI.

Another most generous color lab was H+H (here is a link to their site). They are offering us a free 11×14 print on your choice of lustre or pearl paper. Use the promocode 11x14Pro15 before march 1st to claim your print. And thank you, H+H.

The folks at Iris Pro Imaging (use this link) down in Louisville are offering us 50% off your first order of a 16×20 or 16×24 Gallery Wrap (with 1 1/2″ drop). Use the promocode GW15 prior to March 31st to claim that most generous gift. They had some beautiful products in their booth, ones well-worth having for yourself. Thank you, Iris Pro Imaging.

And one last offer, this one from retouching specialists Picsera. These good folks will take your portraits and do all the lifting for you. Send them your photos and they will return corrected, retouched, stylized images in a quick 3-4 days turnaround. Most of us probably believe having someone retouch our images would be prohibitively expensive. Picsera will prove us all wrong. I saw the finished images they have been doing for Matthew Jordan Smith (the photographer I mentioned yesterday). They are nice, very nice. Picsera will retouch 20 of your photos for free if you establish an account with them and use the promocode ER20PPE0115 prior to February 26th. Here is a link to their site, one really worth checking out. Thank you, Picsera!

These are most generous offers from some very reliable, very accomplished firms. Take advantage while you can.

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David Ziser’s PhotoPro Expo 2015: Impressions

See you in Covington in 2016!

This was the third year in a row that I attended David Ziser’s PhotoPro Expo over in Covington, KY. I write that it is David’s production only because he has been in charge of the event these last three years; it actually is the Northern Kentucky Professional Photographers Association event that has been renamed. That said, it is a most informative, most fun-filled, most valuable photo show; I heartily recommend it (no matter your experience level or specific genre interest). 2015 had sort of a theme as far as general impressions, IMHO, one different from the past two years.

The theme I picked up on this year was inspiration, inspiration with a strong side of creativity. There probably was a bit less hands-on, how-to, technical information than last year. And part of that may be that there are so many great (and varied) training resources out there these days (either online or in person). We can find how to do about anything we want (or need) to do with a quick Google search. What we often cannot do is find that personal story, the trials that great photographer went through while becoming great. You begin to appreciate what literally every presenter emphasized – YOU can do this! None of these extremely accomplished people arrive full-blown on the scene the day they first picked up a camera. Not one! They may have had a ton of talent; perhaps more talent than I possess, for example. But each of them had to learn and practice and practice and practice and overcome rejection and overcome even more rejection before they discovered success. You can do this!

The other emphasis we heard from each presenter was to make an effort to be more creative – to stand out from the usual and ordinary (unless your client wants the usual and ordinary). Creativity can be learned – or at least encouraged (thank you, Lindsay Adler). Creativity means exercising your imagination, being open to experimentation, to what else is possible. It’s not just far out, weird or strange. It’s taking what you see and appreciate and want to do and stretching a bit. When you do you have a chance to stand out from what almost everyone else is doing. And standing out can garner attention … and clients. Standing out can become an entire career or a more successful career. And creativity isn’t being visited by your fairy godmother at night or being struck by lightening … its practice and exercise and experiment combined with some serious (and often) logical thinking. Most of the time it seems to boil down to thinking and asking, “What if … ?”

What David Ziser also is able to do is use his industry friendships and contacts to round up some great speakers. Sometimes they are names most of us know; other times they are sort of hidden gems that David has discovered. We were treated to presentations from RC Concepcion (of KelbyOne), Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Vanezuela and Michael Grecco. I never had heard of Matthew Jordan Smith, in contrast – and he was talented and inspiring and a great instructor. You get a whole lot of instruction due to David’s ability to round up real talent. And this is true each year.

So, that was the general show (there is a whole lot more, also … like a large trade show complete with lots of goodies and freebies and show discounts, along with an interesting print competition for PPN members. Then there are some specific impressions, stuff you just pick up on. I’ll share some of those, but remember that these are just my own thoughts.

RC Concepcion has an infectious attitude that is just fun to be around. He knows HDR and Lightroom and whole bunches of photo stuff very, very well. He is an entertaining and highly effective teacher. You enjoy being around RC.

Dave Cross, one of the original Photoshop Guys, was there for Adobe. In person he is every bit the soft-spoken gentleman that he was with Kelby. He is extremely talented. He dresses for a presentation like the gentleman he is – dark gray 3-piece with black-and-white wingtips. Very stylish. A real pleasure to meet and talk with.

Peter Hurley of headshot fame. Dynamic, yelling “shabang!” a lot. Hard to figure out whether he is a genius or snake oil salesman (I mean, $1,000 for a headshot????). He was teaching the need to find the inner person when getting expression for a headshot. He had a lot of information on body language and smiles and all kinds of stuff like that. Like I said, genius or snake oil – the jury still is out in my mind.

Lindsay Adler did an amazing job of teaching a complex subject that I thought couldn’t be quantified – creativity. She did it. Very, very well. She is a fine instructor who knows shooting people. I would sign up for a class with her any day.

Roberto Valenezuela was flat out fun to watch and listen to. No wonder brides love him (and book him for big dollars). Now, he also is creative and knowledgeable. But he is as personable as he is talented.

Michael Grecco is incredibly talented, with an equally impressive nose for business. Had a quite business-like attitude, which led to a rather business-like presentation. High-end shooter for high-end clients. Watches industry trends closely and makes sure he can offer whatever any client might ask for (think video, photographers. Think video). Impressive talent.

Tamara Lackey had more enthusiasm and energy at 7:30 in the morning than we did … but her attitude quickly rubbed off on the crowd. She brings incredible energy to a shoot, which she must need since she shoots children mainly. Lots of good ideas if you shoot children. Quite informative; she was a crowd favorite.

And that Matthew Jordan Smith? Inspiring. Not stuffy, although he shoots celebrities (big name celebrities like Oprah). He is really talented, with an impressive slideshow of great photos and high-end jobs. Polite, patient with questions, and personable. He was the surprise of the show to me. See, you never know when one of those hidden gems will pop up somewhere.

Okay, final impression. Best show in the Midwest, a treat for us who live in the Heartland. Very nice trade show where you get to touch and feel and play with the stuff you have been reading about. Nice facilities with good rates at the attached Marriott Hotel. This is an event worth your time, and I urge you to consider the 2016 show. I will see you there.

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My Two-Legged Tripod: PhotoPro Expo 2015

Seriously, make me an offer!

Can you think of much that is less useful than a two-legged tripod? Let’s see … Hmmmmm. How about ……? Nope, nothing coming to mind at the moment. And I arrived home yesterday afternoon from a most-informative, fun-filled, enjoyable three days at PhotoPro Expo over in Covington, KY with said two-legged tripod. But not intentionally.

I found a great battery-powered LED light at a good price from a trusted vendor while scouting out the trade show (from a vendor I have dealt with before and with whom my good friend Kendall Reeves has done business with for some 25 years now). They also had a small, bendable tripod from Fotodiox at a quite small price, so I picked that up to use with the new light. I got home and opened up the box to show my wife what a great combination it was going to make, especially for some macro shooting we have planned. That’s when I discovered my tripod only had two legs (does that make it a duopod or something like that?). I was happy to make her day … she was quite amused with my new purchase.

I wrote recently that I wasn’t very impressed with a set of Fotodiox extension tubes we had purchased for the Fuji (especially when we compared them to a set by Fuji themselves). Now I really am beginning to have my doubts about their products – I mean, a TWO-legged tripod???? The new one had two legs, and there was nothing else in the small box it came in. No leg that had become detached; no indication that it ever had a third leg. C’mon, Fotodiox … you gotta be able to do better than this!

I’ll be getting together with the vendor tomorrow and getting some advice on what to do next. But I won’t be doing business again with Fotodiox, I don’t believe. In the meantime, any suggestions on what to use this one for?

I will post some more soon on the Expo itself. It really was worthwhile and helpful. And fun. PhotoPro Expo 2016 is set for February 4-8 next year (Super Bowl Weekend). Check your calendar now and begin making some time to attend. I’ll meet you there.

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More 2015 His Light Workshops: Bill Fortney And Joe McNally

Visit His Light today and think Bodie, California.

Yes, it is true … Bill Fortney and Joe McNally together at last for a His Light workshop in a most fabulous location. Think of these two photo legends leading you to the lost-in-time ghost town of Bodie, California. And on to photograph some of the oldest trees on the planet – the amazing bristlecone pines of the Eastern Sierras. Wow! Really wow!

We have shot Bodie in the past. We are excited to think about going back … then you throw in Joe McNally and the opportunity to learn some portrait lighting from the true master of the genre. The trees are a draw in and of themselves; Bodie is magnificent (you get the chance to shoot behind-the-scenes inside buildings that usually are off limits). This is a workshop that just sort of came about – it is one that is a dream shoot. I am not really sure how these two legends find time to do all the teaching and shooting that they do, but we are the lucky recipients of their generosity.

Click here to visit Bill’s site for all the glorious details. Give this new workshop some serious consideration (but don’t wait too long; spots are going to fill up quickly on this one). And … and there is another new workshop that Bill and Jim Begley have put together. It is in the incredible steam engine town of Cass, W. Va. If you love trains … heck, if you just like trains … hey, if you just love the chance for beautiful scenery and shots you won’t find anywhere else, Cass is the place to give it your best shot. I don’t know how Bill finds the time, but I am so very glad that he is able to.

Give these workshops (or any of the other 2015 His Light events) serious consideration. They are guaranteed to please, to instruct and to make you a better photographer.

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And Photos From Birdseye, Indiana

Click on the Birdseye building to see more photos from Saturday.

I finished the last of the photos I liked (for various reasons) from our Saturday trip through French Lick, Birdseye and Meinrad. These last images are from the (very) small town of Birdseye, Indiana. And I do mean small. Most of the town is empty storefronts bisected by a state highway. The biggest attraction was the old jail building, sitting on one of the side streets. It is used now (on the odd occasion) as a tornado shelter. Frankly, there wasn’t too much to see … but we photographers are persistent. We looked for light and form and color and texture. And there always is something to catch the eye and fuel the imagination, even if it doesn’t end up in your portfolio.

To see more photos from Birdseye click on the image at the top of this post. And if you ever find yourself wandering Southern Indiana? Birdseye is worth driving through … but not necessarily stopping.

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A Short Visit To St. Meinrad: Photos

Monte Cassino
Click on the photo from the Monte Cassino Chapel to see more photos from St. Meinrad.

Our visit last Saturday to the St. Meinrad campus was far too short. The light was fading as we looked around late in the afternoon (the days still are rather short). It was obvious that it is a beautiful, impressive place. It also is a rather large campus, one that calls out for a return trip of exploration and discovery. And that will be a trip we already are looking forward to.

If you would like to learn a bit more about St. Meinrad and its mission, just click here.

And if you would like to see more photos from last Saturday, click on the image from the Monte Cassino Chapel at the top of this post.

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French Lick Train Cars: More Photos

Number 8

Click on old number 8 to see more photos from French Lick.

Last night I had a bit of time to process some photos from our Saturday photo trip. One of the (unscheduled) stops was in French Lick, where a few old railroad cars caught our collective eyes as we drove through town. We worked the exteriors in some fairly harsh light, and we were pleased to later find a way inside a mail car. It made for some interesting shooting – working with and against the light that came streaming in from a lot of different directions. There was plenty to catch the eye, plenty to work on later.

Click on the image at the top of the post to see more photos from French Lick. And keep your own eyes peeled for opportunities like the ones in French Lick.

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St. Meinrad Road Trip: Photos

First car
Click on the French Lick car to see the St. Meinrad gallery of images.

Saturday our winter weather cooperated just enough for a road trip with good friends from the Bloomington Photography Club to some of the small parts of Southern Indiana. We started out early (after a fortifying breakfast, of course) and made our way south to French Lick, Birdseye, and Meinard. There was sunshine and warmer temperatures than lately, although the wind kept things far from balmy. But it was time to get out and do some shooting; our respective cameras needed the rust knocked off. And it was a most enjoyable day.

Let me say again: one of the real joys of photography is the friendships we have made. Going out for the day (or any outing) with friends has become as important (and many times more enjoyable) than the images we come home with. Saturday was one of those times.

As we started out we were headed for the St. Meinrad monastery in small town Meinrad. It is a Catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict, a seminary and school of theology. Sue and I never had visited, but our friends had. And they assured us it was worth the trip. They were so right. It is a beautiful campus, even in the winter. We were sidetracked going through French Lick by some old railroad cars, however, so we didn’t make it to Meinrad until rather late in the afternoon. We already have made plans for a return trip, this time making sure we arrive in time to do the campus justice. But the French Lick shooting was worth the time we spent there.

We met Saturday morning at 8 AM. We arrived home just before 10 PM. Sunday was filled with activities, so today’s post has one image (it was all I could get to). But I am excited about some of the other photos I have to work with; I will be posting them this week as I find time. French Lick used to have a lot of old railroad cars sitting in its abandoned switchyard. Most of them are gone now, victims of the town’s ongoing renovations (if you haven’t visited for a while, make plans for your own trip. It is worth your time, I promise). The cars that are left had some interesting features that drew us in like the proverbial moths (think photographers and peeling paint, textures and colors). We ended up spending a lot of time there, including in an old mail car that still had undelivered mail inside. Time got away from us until we realized it was way past lunch. Thankfully, the German Café has relocated to downtown French Lick; if you like real German food, make plans for a stop here on your visit to the city.

Then it was on to Birdseye (we are talking small towns here, folks). We wandered about and shot for a while, then headed on to Meinrad and the monastery. It is just beautiful there; the stone used to construct the campus is a sight in and of itself. We shot in the Monte Cassino Chapel on the grounds (gorgeous and serene), and then we drove to the main campus. The winter light ran out on us pretty quickly, and we didn’t have much time for photos. It all worked out for the best, however – a return trip is something to look forward to.

Driving, exploring, discovering. Saturday was a most enjoyable, productive day. One spent with good friends. What a joy photography can be. Life is so good!

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Fuji Extension Tubes Versus Fotodiox Pro: A Winner

X tube
My recommendation? Dance with the one that brung ya.

Yesterday we received a set of Fuji brand extension tubes (we bought ours at Adorama). Two tubes make up a set; they are the 11mm and 16mm ones. They are meant to replace a set of Fotodiox Pro tubes manufactured to fit the Fuji X-T1 (a 10mm and a 16mm). Now, why would we want to buy a set of hollow tubes with no lens glass in them to replace a set of hollow tubes that do the same thing? And pay quite a bit more in the process. I think the answer boils down to the old, “You get what you pay for.” I’ll explain a bit, and you can be the judge.

We bought the Fotodiox extension tubes because a friend had a set on his Fuji last summer (link to Amazon here). We were shooting together on an outing, and he was getting some nice shots that our 60mm macro couldn’t (sans tubes). He said he hadn’t experienced any problems with them, and he added that the price was most reasonable ($44.95 with free shipping on Amazon). We weren’t aware of any others available at that time that anyone was using, so we placed an order. With mixed results.

The extension tubes are mostly plastic, and they have a plastic-y feel. They are lightweight (which can be a good thing in the photo world), and they have a smooth, finished appearance. They promise to make all the right electrical connections to the X-T1, giving you access to all the features the camera and lenses offer. They didn’t grind against the lens when being attached, but they didn’t go together completely smoothly, either. There was a sound when you twist them into place that is noticeable. And I definitely had to add more pressure to lock them into place than I wanted to (that plastic thing, again). The two tubes can be coupled to provide even more magnification, but you have to use a bit of pressure once again to uncouple them. Overall, I would describe the overall fit and feel as adequate.

On my camera one set of the Fotodiox tubes worked as advertised. I got them on, and I got the shot. I got them off, and everything still was in one piece. On my wife’s camera and with her set of tubes, not as much luck. They went on, but there was no electrical connection going on. The camera would act as if there was no lens on; she would have to turn it on and off repeatedly to get a shot. We put my set on her camera, but she kept having the same type problem. We put her set on my camera with mixed results. Sometimes it worked just fine; sometimes it was as if there was no connection. I couldn’t find the common denominator – the reliability factor wasn’t there with either camera. Our friend had no such problems; a couple of others over on Amazon reported the troubles we had. Sometimes the things worked just fine; sometimes they didn’t. Not a rousing endorsement, even with a reasonable price.

We could tell the difference in quality with the Fuji brand (only one set this time) as soon as they came out of the box (link to Adorama here). Heavyweight, without being heavy. Solid. Metal construction instead of plastic. Electrical contacts protected inside a doubled-ringed inner circle. Ridged outer ring for a good grip when attaching and detaching the tubes. They look and feel and have the construction and finish of a Fuji lens (and they are fine, fine lenses). They look like part of a lens when you compare them to the real thing. They go on smoothly and come off smoothly. And they make perfect contacts with both our cameras. Every time. They work. If you read reviews of Fuji’s cameras and lenses you repeatedly hear about the quality that consumers appreciate (and deserve). These extension tubes are exactly the same.

Okay, here’s where the real decision points come in. The Fuji tubes are a cool $100. Each. Yeah, a considerable outlay for a couple of hollow tubes. The Fotodiox set is $45. For the set. Big difference. Really big difference. My friend has had no problem with his, and he shoots macros probably as much as the rest of us (not every day with every subject). The Fuji set is pure class, made for the X series of cameras. It shows. They just are made of better materials with a much better fit and finish. But is that really important when all you are after is the macro or closeup shot in front of you? At those price points?

For us it first is a matter of reliability. If it doesn’t do the thing you bought it to do, it is worth nothing. For us, the Fotodiox set didn’t so what we asked of it. Even if it worked on my camera I now have considerable doubts about relying on it out in the field. My wife has lost all her confidence in both Fotodiox sets. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Not good enough.

But what if they work for you (they do on my camera)? is the fit and finish factor important enough to go with the Fuji set (at a higher price point)? A lot of experienced photographers will tell you if at all possible to go check out a new camera or lens in person. Hold it; take some shots with it. How does it feel to you? Is everything balanced and finished and even appearing the way you expect? Are all the important features in place for what you do and how you do it? Make an informed decision based on the entire package. And, of course, figure in your budget. Then decide what you want and insist on versus what you will accept as your minimum standard.

My recommendation? Save your dollars and buy the set that is made for your Fuji X system camera … by the good people who made your camera. Insist on quality. Insist on absolute reliability. If you can get your hands on the Fuji set you will feel the quality. Fotodiox may work on your camera. You can try a set and send them back if they don’t. But they won’t measure up on satisfaction to the real deal. Get the Fuji brand. You won’t be disappointed.

As a postscript: we have two sets of the Fotodiox extension tubes for sale. If you want to try them I will make you a good deal. The price will be right, and you can try them free of charge first. If they work to your satisfaction, keep them. If not, send them back. No strings.

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Win An Art Wolfe Gura Bag … But Hurry

You could win the Art Wolfe model of this great Gura bag!

I don’t spend much time on the Canon Rumors page, being a Nikon (and Fuji) shooter. But I check in once in a while to see what Canon is up to, figuring that their technology sooner or later will make its way to all the other manufacturers. And when I went to that website last night I found a nice little giveaway that I want to pass on. I would really like to win this one.

Gura has been making good camera bags for a long time. Really good bags that are very popular with a lot of experienced photographers. But … those bags are also pretty expensive, making it difficult to go out and casually pick one up. Hence today’s good news: Canon Rumors and Gura are giving away an Art Wolfe Uinta camera bag … for FREE (well, to one lucky winner). It’s a nice looking bag, one any of us would be happy to own and use. And all you have to do today is visit the Canon Rumors site (here is your link) and follow Gura Gear on Facebook. Most photographers use Facebook for at least a few purposes; gaining a chance to win this bag qualifies as a good purpose for me. This offer is worth a cool $400 or so (I told you Gura gear wasn’t cheap), so that is another good reason for entering this giveaway.

A random winner will be selected on January 19th, so don’t waste a lot of time in entering. And if you do enter and don’t like the bag you win? You always could send it to a friend in Bloomington ……

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Learn Closeup Photography From Bill Fortney … And Receive A Free Book

Close up

I have a really great deal for you today. Okay, my dear friend Bill Fortney has the deal for you … but I am happy to pass on the information. Bill has been producing a new series of e-books that have been very well received by photographers of all skill levels and interests. The topics have covered the gamut of technique and gear and vision. And the newest, due to be released this Wednesday at noon, is all you ever wanted to know about closeup and macro photography. Now that genre is not an easy one; you really need to get the basics down really well in order to find any success. But this is a book designed to provide you with all you need to find that success.

And Bill is as generous as he is knowledgeable. He already has given away a large number of free books in a short period of time. And now he has a new offer for us – purchase the new closeup book and receive an additional book, Building a System for Field Use, for Free! And free is about as good as it gets in the photo world, especially anything come from a legend like Bill Fortney.

On Wednesday just go to Bill’s e-book site and you will see all the details on how to receive your free book. Just order up the closeup manual (you know you need one for your reference library), and you can add the field guide absolutely free. Thank you, Bill!

Here is a link to Bill’s book site. Check out all he has to offer, and begin building (or adding to) your own reference library.

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The Photoshop Workbook By Glyn Dewis: A New Go-To Resource

Glyn book

My dear wife surprised me on my birthday with a copy of The Photoshop Workbook, a new resource book from one of my favorite photographer/retouchers, Glyn Dewis. Glyn has long been one of the best teachers out there, having a real knack for making what is complex and difficult instead easy-to-understand and possible-to-accomplish for the rest of us (certainly including me as one of those who needs the assistance). I haved urged you repeatedly to bookmark his website and to check in regularly (here is a link to do so today). He also has a YouTube channel where he generously posts tips and tricks and techniques on a regular basis (here is a link to that valuable page). Glyn is good. And he is generous. Be sure to check out all that he has to offer.

Glyn recently published his first book on Photoshop techniques. It covers projects that show you how to tackle a composite from start to finish, ones with all the steps and all the inside information. It also has entire chapters on how to accomplish some of those more difficult Photoshop moves that we find ourselves using all the time, some of the crucial ones (think tricky selections, matching colors, and getting the lighting just right). These are the types of moves that you find yourself needing refreshers on over and over; they have to be just right each time to make your project believable. That’s where books still are so valuable – they are resources that you flip open to the section you need when you need them. I consider my shelf of resource books capital expenditures; I go back to them repeatedly, and there are no substitutes for having them there at your fingertips. This new book is one of those resources.

Another exceptional photographer/compositor is Joel Grimes. He stresses that what you have to do to be successful is ‘sell the fake’. You have to get the look just right; otherwise, your viewer will know, even if it is subconsciously, that something is off. When that happens, you lose them. Glyn will enable you to sell the fake, to make your image what it needs to be to function as a whole. And he makes it easy-to-understand while learning to do so (no easy task for many of us). Part of the book’s sub-title is “Professional” Retouching and Compositing. I put professional in quotation marks because there are tips and tips and tips out there in the ether. But what we need are the professional ones, the ones that go beyond the usual. Glyn knows how to do what needs to be done, and he knows how to let the rest of us in on the secrets.

If you want to continue your Photoshop education, if you want to elevate your Photoshop skills to the proverbial next level, Glyn can help you do just that. And the book I hold in my birthday hands is proof of that. Find the book. Buy the book (you can find it here on Amazon). Use the book. It’s that good.

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