Project 52 – Assignment #1

I recently joined a community of photographers who are learning commercial/editorial photography from Don Giannati who has created Project 52. The idea of this year-long learning experience is to practice commercial assignments that Don creates each week.  You then have 2 weeks to shoot the project and then submit your photo for critique.  Here’s the link to the Project 52 website:

The first assignment was to photograph a stranger.  The criteria is as follows:

  • The person should be unknown to you.
  • It can be a street portrait, studio portrait or environmental portrait.
  • The portrait should be simply lit.
  • Tell us a little bit about the person – through the image and the caption.
  • Tell us how you approached and worked with the subject(s) for the project.

I approached this assignment in kind of a cavalier way.  I had a general idea but really didn’t define it as well as I should have.  I took my Fuji X-10 camera with 18-135 lens and Nissan on-camera flash to the Franklin on the Fourth celebration in downtown Franklin, TN on the 4th of July and thought I’d find a suitable subject by happenstance, which is exactly what happened.  My wife Kathy and I decided to have lunch at the new restaurant at the recently renovated Gray’s Pharmacy.  As it happened, we were seated on the second floor with a fairly sparse lunch-time crowd.  The bartenders were busy getting the bar ready for a long afternoon and evening of revelry.  I noticed the bartender was wearing a period costume and the diffused cloudy sunlight coming through the large window next to the bar was perfect for a portrait.  I approached the bartender, introduced myself and explained that I was a student in this class and needed to take a portrait of a stranger.  He laughed and then told me it would be absolutely fine since he was a professional photographer!  His name is Eric Sutton and you can see his work at

Below is the image I made of Eric.  I asked him to look off into the distance and used about 100mm focal length to blur and compress the bar background.  I desaturated the image a bit in post-production to match the old-time theme of the costume.

It wasn’t easy approaching a stranger to ask for a portrait but Eric made this a very pleasant experience for me.  


Posted in Fuji X-T1, Project 52 Tagged , |

Great Tennessee Air Show

I attended The Great Tennessee Air Show at the Smyrna Municipal airport on June 15th. This show featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team. They did not disappoint! Flying FA-18 Hornets in tight formation and doing aerial acrobatics at 300+ mph is just crazy. These pilots are the absolute best! Here’s a video slide show of my photos from the day…Enjoy!

Posted in Video

Splash Photography with the Fuji X-T1 and Quadra Ranger

Splash Photography Fuji X-T1

I recently purchased a used Elinchrom Quadra Ranger flash system. This is a portable studio strobe flash system and is much more powerful than speed lights.  This system also has a very fast flash duration (1/4000 seconds) that can capture action shots.  So, I thought I’d experiment trying to freeze splashes.  As it turns out, this is more difficult than I had originally thought.  It took me about 2 hours of practicing and re-configuring the set-up to finally get it right.  Before I show you the results, here’s some technical information.

The set-up:

Splash Photography Fuji X-T1

I set-up my slash studio in my garage.  I used the Quadra Ranger system with 2 “A” heads…one directly above the container and one behind the backdrop.  I needed a transluscent backdrop and my good photo buddy, Nick Coury, suggested that I use a shower curtain for that.  It worked perfectly and cost $2.95 at Walmart.  I hung this on a background stand.  The strobe behind the curtain was plugged into the A port on the power pack and the strobe above the splash was plugged into the B port.   I metered the light power to give me an f-stop of f/13 for the splash  and about f/10 into the backdrop.  I chose a small aperture to provide a good depth of field for the splash.  I set-up the X-T1 with the Fuji 55-200 zoom lens on a tripod with a remote release.  I used a set of nano poppers to wirelessly trigger the flashes when I took the shot.

Next, I set-up a glass on a table I had lying around in the garage.  I used food coloring for the water to get different colors.  Also note the towels on the floor…dropping items in water for slashes makes a mess!  Speaking of dropping items in the water, I tried several different items but 2 worked the best…a fake plastic ice cube and a golf ball!

I used manual focus and put a heavy bolt in the middle of the glass to get accurate focus.  I also used the focus peaking mode on the X-T1 to get dead accurate focus.  It took me several attempts to get the timing down and then several attempts using the ice cube and golf balls.

So, here’s the results of a few that I particularly liked:

Splash Photography Fuji X-T1Splash Photography Fuji X-T1Splash Photography Fuji X-T1Splash Photography Fuji X-T1Splash Photography Fuji X-T1Splash Photography Fuji X-T1Splash Photography Fuji X-T1

The last photo is when I quit.  When I dropped the golf ball, it hit the edge of the glass and broke it.  I’m pretty happy I got the breaking glass action photo though!

This was a fun experiment to try out.  Now that I have some experience doing this, I’m going to think of new ways to get a bit more creative next time.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Thanks for looking!


Posted in Fuji X-T1, Video Tagged , |

Macro with the Fuji X-T1

Here is a set of images taken with the X-T1 using an adapted Nikon 105mm Micro lens.  All shots used manual focusing with focus peaking and high magnification in the LCD.  Also, a Nissin MF-18 set to 1/128th fine macro mode was used for lighting .  This combination works quite well for macro photos with the X-T1.



Posted in Adapted Lens, Flowers, Fuji X-T1, Macro Tagged , , |

WOW! New Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 XF Lens is Incredible!

I just got the new Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 XF lens yesterday from my good friend Nick at Dury’s in Nashville.  The very first photo I took is of Nick…this is becoming the go to image for this new lens (inside joke).  Anyway, I’ve only had limited time to play with this new lens on the Fuji X-T1 and Im very impressed.  It focuses quickly and is incredibly sharp at f1.2.  I had read excellent reviews of this lens before purchasing and I’m not disappointed.  Fuji has dome it again and knocked the ball out-of-the-park with this incredible new lens.  Below are a few images taken at f1.2 (except the Daffodil shot at f2.0) so you can judge for yourself.

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Posted in Fuji 56mm f1.2, Fuji X-T1, Miss Kitty

Cruising with the Fuji X-T1

The new Fuji X-T1 was released in late February, 2014.  Fortunately for me, I got the new camera just a week before going on a Cruise vacation with my wife to the Caribbean.  I got to use this new camera for the week, and it is the most enjoyable camera I’ve ever used.  This camera is a marvel of technology.  It’s small in size but large in stature.  It allows the photographer to focus on the images rather than fooling with camera settings.  The focus is quick, the dials on the camera allow you to immediately see or change the settings and the sensor is superior to any camera I’ve ever used.  My belief is that Fuji has something magical going on with this technology and is on to something big for now and the forseeable future.  If you’re thinking about getting the Fuji X-T1, My advice is not to hesitate a second!

I’ll let the images speak for themselves:

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Posted in Caribbean, Cruise, Fuji X-T1