The Complete Namibia Tour & Workshop 2022 Video (Podcast 786)

The Complete Namibia Tour & Workshop 2022 Video (Podcast 786)


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Following on from the previous post about creating a slideshow using Boinx Software’s FotoMagico, although I was taken out of action for two days following my fourth COVID vaccination, I spent several additional days creating the background music for my slideshow, as I mentioned in that previous post. Slideshow music can be difficult because you don’t want it to be too prominent, but at the same time, it needs to compliment the images and content, so it takes more thought than simply sitting down to make a track just for the sake of it.

I’m not going to go into much detail, as this post is really at this point to point you to the video. Still, as the video starts, you’ll notice some simple Kalimba music, which is an African instrument that I have in one of my many plugins. I then spent some time finding chords that matched the subject matter, slightly sad sounding in places, mainly because of the feeling from the deserted diamond mines, and then I make it a little lighter with some flurries when necessary. We drop back to the Kalimba several times to break up the piano. After the initial Kolmanskop piano accompaniment, I switched to a hybrid traditional piano and electric piano played together. My wife thinks the flurries with the hybrid piano sound a little 70s or 80s, and she’s probably right because I was thinking Blade Runner as some of the notes and feeling of the music started to form.

Here is a screenshot of the final score in Ableton Live before I exported the music to embed into FotoMagico. If you click on the image, you’ll be able to see more detail if you are interested. Note that I designed the dark-teal theme for Ableton, as I don’t like the look of any of the actual themes provided with the software. The only additional thing to mention is that I also added some orchestral strings with brass and horns at various places, again, to add a little variation while changing the way I played some of the chords, hopefully making it a little less monotonous without having to compose and play each bar individually. This is to both save time and because too much variation can also get in the way of the slideshow if it starts to take the viewer’s attention.

Namibia 2022 Slideshow Score
Namibia 2022 Slideshow Score

I changed the timing a little, so although I’d say this would be around 18 minutes, the final video is 16 minutes and 30 seconds, which is still very long for a slideshow. This essentially represents most of my “keepers” from the trip, as the slideshow is designed to show you how much can be achieved during my 17-day Complete Namibia Tours. If you have time, do try to watch to the end, but I doubt with the number of images, it will be a video you’ll rewatch many times. Either way, though, if I can get my message across, that’s great. I hope you enjoy this. You can see this and over 100 other videos on my Vimeo Channel.


Show Notes

See the video on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/737475715

Check out my Vimeo Channel here: https://vimeo.com/martinbailey

Music by Martin Bailey


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Frederick Van Johnson on Podcasting & the Future of Cameras (Podcast 778)

Frederick Van Johnson on Podcasting & the Future of Cameras (Podcast 778)


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Frederick Van Johnson is the founder and editor-in-chief of the TWiP podcast, probably one of the best-known photography podcasts. He’s also a good friend, and I’ve spent many hours talking to him on the TWiP Podcast and offline. We met in person once around ten years ago, and I recently spoke with Frederick about my new app PhotoClock Pro and was happy when Frederick agreed to jump back on my Podcast for a chat. Both being pretty long in the tooth when it comes to podcasting, the first half of our conversation is about our experiences over the years and how podcasting is becoming mainstream, as well as the difficulties people face in preventing their shows from fading out, as around 80% of the shows in iTunes seem to have done. We went on to talk about camera gear and our respective systems and what we’d like to see in the future of cameras. I really enjoyed our conversation, and I hope you do too. We actually recorded this via zoom so I’m going to embed the video into this post too, and for those of you that prefer to read, I’ve had this episode transcribed and will insert that below, followed by Frederick’s bio and social links etc.

Martin: Frederick Van Johnson back on my podcast for the first time in at least ten years. 

Frederick: Yeah.

Martin: Probably more than that. I interviewed you many years ago. We’ve been talking on and off TWiP for many years as well, and it’s an absolute honor to have you back on my show. Welcome. 

Frederick: Thank you. It sounds weird to say, “Boy, how time flies,” but it’s a thing. It is real. These years are flying by. I feel like you and I just met and now it’s been decades. It’s crazy.

Martin: I know. I need to check before I post some notes about this and push this out. But it’s probably at least 10 years since I jumped on TWiP for the first time or so. Recently, we’ve spoken a couple of times, I’m not jumping into TWiP so much these days. You’ve sort of changed the way you do that, although you’re still doing an excellent job. We’re going to talk today about both our experiences, as now relatively long in the tooth podcasters, and also talk a little bit about cameras and where we see the future of cameras going. I’m really looking forward to chatting. 

I want to just start off with a few questions about you. I know that from reading your bio, and obviously, over the years, you worked at Apple, Adobe, and a number of places. You were key in most of the technology that keeps me going on a daily basis. So, that’s interesting in itself. We’ve spoken before about that, but what gave you the motivation or the drive to switch to what you’re doing now with the podcast and all of that?

Frederick: Yeah. The kick in the pants moment or kick the bird out of the nest moment to see if it can fly. That’s easy to narrow down because I was working at Adobe at the time as a senior marketing manager for the professional photography segment for Lightroom and Photoshop, and loving it. Many of your audience may remember, several years ago, when Adobe had these massive layoffs. It was like 800 people in one day globally that they made the decision to downsize at that point, pre-Creative Cloud, all that stuff. I was one of them, I got caught up in that storm. It was literally you look at your phone, you see your schedule, and it’s just like Tetris of all the appointments and overlapping appointments and squeezing in lunch there. Basically, a 9 to 5 losing game of Tetris. And then one day, you get an alert from your boss that says, “Hey, I need to meet with you at this time,” and you go in there, and human resources is in there. It’s like, “Uh-oh, I know what’s going on here.” But that played itself out hundreds of times over the company. 

As a result, layoffs, go home, licking wounds, and I’m there thinking, “What can I do that is an amalgamation of the stuff that I love doing in corporate marketing and the stuff that I love doing on the podcast, and I’m doing this podcast with Alex Lindsay and Scott Bourne, is there something there?” Ironically, around that time, Alex Lindsay and Scott Bourne had made the decision to take a step back from TWiP, and I took it on. So, it was, “Hey, I have some free time on my hands, and there’s this thing there that I can play with during this downtime.” So, I took it, and applied my corporate marketing knowledge to this fledgling podcasting, and grew it into what it is today. So, that’s kind of where it came from. 

Martin: That’s pretty amazing, really. It kind of mirrors my experience in some ways. I was working for a US-based IT company, a big company. We went into work one day, and all of a sudden, the VIP of our department was there. And it’s like, usually when this guy has come in, there is, “Okay, let’s do a presentation. Let’s get this.” Nothing, we heard nothing, and he appeared. I wasn’t let go on that day, but because I was a senior manager, I was responsible for telling a number of people, including someone in India that we just hired, that they no longer had a job. And I had my own engineers who my manager was had the honor of firing, come into my room crying because they just lost a job they love. And it was like, okay, I’ve thought it myself, photography is something that I love to the point that I know I want to do this as my main profession. I knew I was going to take a big drop in salary, because I was earning a truckload of cash at that company. But I thought, “You know what? I don’t need this anymore.” 

At that point, that’s when I did all of the stuff. I got myself Japanese citizenship, so I didn’t have to worry about a visa, and I just exited. It was planned. It took a year because I had a lot of stuff to get in place. It’s pretty much the same sort of time, and the same kind of related impetus that got me to– I was already doing the podcast, of course, I’ve been doing it since 2005. But–

Frederick: It’s crazy. That’s nuts. 

Martin: It was that was that was the thing that I knew, that was my vehicle, that was my marketing vehicle, and I knew that that was going to give me enough. It had got me an audience that I knew I could at least make a bit of revenue from with the tours, because I was already doing the tours. I think it’s very similar, and it seems like the corporate American tendency to just frog march large numbers of people out of buildings is the root of it.

Frederick: It is. The story is a little bit more multidimensional than that, because what that did for me, was that watershed or the Peter Parker radioactive spider moment. That origin story for me was a revelation of the dangers of having all your eggs in one basket financially. You’ve got all these things balancing on the whim of one layer of management above you. You’ve got your mortgage, your car payment, your gymnastics lessons, your this, your that. All these things are basically on the fulcrum of this one person who may or not care about your wellbeing or have your best interests in mind. It’s more about the company. So, that’s a huge risk. And part of what I did when I made the switch over was think of it from the short term and the long term.

And the short term was what I called Operation Fireproof. Basically, I had a sit-down with myself, Mr. Corporate Man, I got all my eggs in one basket, and had a reality check of, “Yeah, that is cushy. You’re doing a great job. You’re valued at the company, but at any moment, that could go away. And if that goes away, you can’t be the guy that’s in that situation. So, how do you fix that?” And that was Operation Fireproof, which is essentially, how do you create multiple streams of income, so that you’re okay, regardless of, if you have a big– you’re working for a company, which, at that moment, I made the mind shift, or the mindset shift to instead of thinking, “Here’s my job, and here are the other things that I’m doing to make side money or side jobs to all these things are revenue sources, including the main job,” which I’m going to internal– even if I’m a full-time employee, in my brain, I’m going to think of it as a contractor so that I’m doing contractor level above and beyond work for one. And internally, I’m looking at that income source as a revenue stream versus the end-all-be-all. So, if that revenue stream goes away, there are these other revenue streams to keep the boat moving forward, maybe slowly, but it’s not going to sink. And then, maybe you work to replace the main engine if something catastrophic happens there, versus, “All I have as this main engine, and when it goes away, I’m screwed.”

Martin: It’s interesting. I love the fact that you gave it a project name. At this point, you’ve started with TWiP. I remember, that was around the time that I was exiting from my company, but I’d been listening to TWiP, either on my walk to work or on the trains. And we got together probably– we communicated and you asked me to join a– I mean, it must have been like eight years or so, where I would come on relatively regularly. I really enjoyed the TWiP experience. You helped me to build my audience. 

Frederick: It was awesome.

Martin: That was great. And of course, we’ve remained friends. And we haven’t been communicating quite as much as we probably could have, but it’s been great to catch up with you recently. We spoke about my new app. I’ve got a lot of memories that contain Frederick Van Johnson because we used to joke that we were brothers, and my wife would always call you, my brother, the brother from the US. 

Frederick: It’s true. 

Martin: I just think that it’s nice to be able to jump back on like this and just chat. After you started, you jumped into TWiP, you’ve already got all of this corporate knowledge. And you do the video production, your connection with Alex Lindsay, I remember seeing years ago photos of you in the White House as you did interviews and things over there. What was all that like? Is that Is that something that you still do? Or, is that pretty much–? 

Frederick: Not so much that, that particular experience was literally a once in a lifetime experience because Alex at the time was running a company called Pixel Core who was contracted, I’m guessing, by the White House or by an organization that was representing the White House, but they were contracted to go in there and produce what the President then, Barack Obama, was calling as Virtual Town Halls. So, he would basically get in a Google Hangout, and they will have invited several different American citizens to come in and ask questions to the president and he would answer them live, but all in the Google Hangouts format. So, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of planning and prep and setup and security clearances and all this stuff in order to do that, because we literally set up a set inside of the Roosevelt Room inside the White House. For those who don’t know, the Roosevelt Room is the basically the conference room that’s connected to the Oval Office, the president’s office. So, he has his own little conference room. That’s where we set up right in there, with the door to the Oval Office right there. We set up. And long story short, “my position” there was to impersonate the president. 

Literally, because he and I were, at least at the time, within one inch height of each other, so I’m one inch taller than the president. He’s 6’1″, I’m 6’2″, around the same build, complexion, all that stuff. Plus, I had experience speaking on camera so I could play the role of the president. So, they brought me in to sit in the chair as the president with the suit on, with the flag, the whole nine yards and pretend I was him, while the citizens were practicing on me, asking me questions, and then I would respond as I think the President might respond, knowing his policies or whatever. We did that. We did that for a couple of years actually. And I got a chance to meet the man and get the photo and do the whole nine yards. It was a good time. 

Martin: Wow. And on that, I recall as well, we’ve met in person once, and that was about 10 years ago.

Frederick: Yeah.

Martin: We went to that really nice restaurant that you recommended. I remember getting a photo outside there, and it was really dark. I was like glowing white. We’ve got the streetlights and trying to get the exposure right. It’s just me, literally, I’m almost– I showed you my legs once and you were laughing your head off. In the winter, my legs are blue and then I get a bit of sun and I finally get to go white.

Frederick: That’s awesome.

Martin: Yeah. Anyway, after that, you’re starting the podcasting. How’s the technology to you? How has the technology changed over the last 10-12 years or so? Has there been a lot of big changes that you’ve noticed? 

Frederick: Yeah. Well, a lot of it. I mean, I have noticed that, I’m sure you have too, first of all, I don’t know, acceptance is the right word, but the understanding and embracing of podcasts as a means for storytelling or news gathering or whatever. Back when we started, if you said, “Yeah, I have a podcast,” no one knew what it was. Now, everybody has a podcast, it’s popular. I think as a result of that, there’s been multiple boatloads of money poured into the industry, everything from Spotify ratifying the podcasting format and all the money that they’ve invested into podcasting and legitimizing it by throwing millions of dollars at some host to say, “Hey, you could get to that level of podcaster if you wanted to.” I think a lot of that spurred the influx of people in, and with that influx of people, and dollars and legitimizing of the space came the tools to do it. Both cloud-based tools, and proper app, local-based tools that made it easy to produce a podcast like this, or bring in a remote guest or a number of guests and livestream it and do all these things. 

Back when we started, we had to figure it out. A lot of times, it just didn’t work. Technology would take a couple of steps forward and, “Hey, now we have Skype, maybe we can do this.” Skype has its issues. I think probably one of the best things to happen, if there is a silver lining in the cloud, that is the pandemic, one of the silver linings in that cloud would be the legitimization, if that’s a word, of Zoom in distance conferencing and distance production, like we’re doing right now. That was a shot in the arm that would have probably taken maybe another 10 plus years to go from where we were pre-pandemic, to where we’re now in the wide scale adoption of Zoom and understanding and embracing of these technologies. We are at a point now where it would have taken at least a decade to get to, and as a result, podcasting came along for the ride with that, and the tools to podcast and to create a quality, sometimes even 4k broadcast livestreamed production with an unlimited audience, that used to be magic and a fairy tale, only accessible to a few with a gazillion dollars. And now, anyone can do it from their phone. We’ll continue to see the evolution as the needs for, you and I, the podcasters change, and the demands for different types of content change and processors and computers get better, and cameras get better, and smaller, the capabilities will continue to increase. So, yeah, I’m excited about it.

Martin: Do you have a lot of TV shows in the US that are bringing people in via Zoom now because of the isolation policies and things? 

Frederick: Yeah. A lot. I see a lot of that more. We used to see it on those big networks like CNN, MSNBC, Fox, those guys, and they would bring in guests remotely. A while ago, they were doing it using some proprietary software. I think it was Cisco, something specific from Cisco. And then, it was Skype, and you’d see the little bug on the bottom of the screen, “Video feed provided by Skype Business” or something like that. Then, during pandemic, we saw it basically switched to Zoom. And now everyone’s doing it and doing live hits from their kitchen and their home offices on broadcast news, like you and I have been doing since the beginning of time. Now, it’s great.

Martin: That was something that I found interesting because you see these big TV channels that have obviously got a lot of technical ability in how to bring together all of the videos stream from multiple cameras, the audio and everything, they bring it into the console, and someone mixes it. I mean, I’ve traveled with a guy that that was responsible for the control room at the big football games in the US, and I think he said he’d even done the Super Bowl. He was the guy sitting there saying, “Camera four,” and all of this and switching everything around. These big, big new stations and regular chat shows and things, they’ve got all of this knowledge, but then all of a sudden, Zoom comes along, they need people in right and they’re tripping over. They’re like, you get someone with a crackly connection, they get a bug, all the video freezes and they’re like, “Okay, what do we do now?” And I’m thinking, “We’ve been dealing with this stuff for 10 years already.”

I remember when Google Hangouts first started, there was no record button. It was like you can hang out, but you can’t record it. So, I did a podcast about how to record it, and that was really popular because everybody wanted to record them. And so, I was recording them with screen cams and doing– not screen cams, with screen capture and all of this. And then literally a few months later, Google added the record button. So, I think that in many ways, you and I, people like us have been on the front of that, maybe we’ve been driving a lot of those changes.

Frederick: We’ve been the guinea pigs. One of the features, I don’t know if you got hit by this in Zoom, and I think this is no longer the case. I’m sure your listeners will correct me if I’m wrong, but Zoom prior to the more current versions of the software, whenever you wanted to record, it would– and you introduced a screen capture into the recording. So, you and I are talking and then I say, “Hey, Martin, let me show you this thing on my desktop,” and I screen share my desktop, the resultant video would always expand to whatever the size of the screen-shared video was, instead of forcing it to 16:9. So, you get on a 5k iMac, you get the 5k recording, in the middle, two little heads talking, right?

Martin: Yeah.

Frederick: So, I got on the phone to them, they called me up randomly, they were doing one of these random, “Let me check how you’re doing, Customer,” type touch bases. I said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I have some questions for you. How come I don’t have the option to just click a button and say, ‘force my video to 16:9 because I’m going to be able to share it on YouTube, etc.'” And their response back then this is pre-pandemic, by the way. Their response back then was, I’m paraphrasing them, but they were basically, “That’s not our market. We’re more of a conference room software and the fact that people are using it for other things, it’s kind of not at the top of our radar.” And now post-pandemic, it does 16:9, so you see.

Martin: Just saying.

Frederick: Just saying. 

Martin: Yeah, it’s brilliant. Excellent stuff. I remember a few days ago, we were talking, I think, I don’t remember if it was on air or not. But yeah, I remember when I first started my podcast, I built my own database that I still use now. All of my podcast feeds are all– I’m talking with the people that Libsyn, the Liberated Syndication company that I use to share my audio, or one of the podcasts, and they’re saying, “Why don’t you just use our feed system?” And I’m saying, “Well, sorry, but mine’s better. I can do more with mine.” When I’ve entered all of the information, I click one button and it creates four copies of the feed for various places. There’s does one. Usually, because I manage it myself, and I developed it myself, I can do all of that. And I think to myself, sometimes I should have packaged that as a plugin.

Frederick: I would’ve used it.

Martin: And probably sold it. Yeah. Anyway, we’ve both had a lot of fun over the years and getting through the hard times, but also watching it all sort of come to– be pretty much mainstream. Like you said, it’s much more acceptable or legitimized now. You see regular people and celebrities have their own podcast, things like that. It’s like we did it the other way. We did the podcast, and that built us an audience. They have an audience and decide, “Oh, yeah, it’s a good idea now to do a podcast.”

Frederick: It’s another way to feed the audience.

Martin: Yeah. Have you noticed many people that have come and gone, thought it was a good idea to do a podcast and then a few weeks, months, or sometimes years later decided it’s not such a good idea? Have you seen many of the– They call it podfade, right? 

Frederick: Yeah, it’s called podfading. In fact, that was part of a presentation I did at NAB a couple of weeks ago. 

Martin: Really? 

Frederick: Yeah, it was about podcasting. One of the cautionary tales I spoke of is the lifecycle that we see. I think part of it was, how are successful podcasters able to be successful? Of course, there are many variables, but one of the variables is longevity and repeatability, and consistency. I guess it’s three variables. Those three things, basically showing up on time, producing a repeatable and quality product, and rinse and repeat and doing that over and over and over and over whenever your listeners have become accustomed to it, being able to do that. You look at some of the statistics in podcasting, and what we see is, if you look at the numbers, I don’t have a slide in front of me, but if you say there are a million podcasts available today, of that million podcasts, you’d be surprised that maybe 10%, under 10% of them are actually actively podcasting and releasing shows on a regular repeated basis. The rest were either episodic or seasonal and have paused for a certain amount of time or it was just a podcast to accompany a book and it’s over, something like that, or the podfade occurred. 

That’s when someone has the big idea to start a podcast on X topic, and they didn’t realize how much work it was going to be to get it started. And let alone dedicate the time for recording the thing. And if you’re doing interviews, logistics around scheduling guests and time zones and all that stuff too, and then of course, the production and distribution side of it, being able to do that repeatedly at a level of quality is not a trivial thing. It takes a lot of commitment. I think a lot of people discount that at the beginning when they say, “Yeah, I can start a podcast and submit to to all the directories, and I have a show.” You could, but that’s like saying, “Yeah, I can buy a car and go racing the Indy 5000,” 500 or, whatever it is. You can’t do that. It takes experience and time and know-how and all that stuff. There are no shortcuts.

There’s some easier cuts now because the tools have gotten easier. So, the hot coals that you and I walked over are not necessarily there right now. So, getting from zero to having a running show is much easier. But there’s still the due diligence and hard work that comes from keeping that show going for a decade. That’s a lot of shows, a lot of commitment.

Martin: I think mentioned this to you, but it’s such a nondescript story, you’ve probably forgotten. But many years ago, someone emailed me and said, “I’ve been doing this, that, and the other. I’m a photographer for so many years. And I’ve identified TWiP as a show that I think I would like to be on. Could you introduce me to Frederick?” I’m like, “Well, actually, no, because I identified TWiP after five to seven years of podcasting, hard work, building my own audience, and then finally getting noticed, and being able to get a request to go on. Go and do the work first, and then come back.” It’s amazing how some people just think that they can jump right in, and some people can. I’m not necessarily saying that that person should have been held back. It was more the tone, “I’ve identified TWiP!” 

Frederick: That was worthy for me to distribute my message. 

Martin: Anyway, podcasting, it’s been something it’s kept us, both very busy over the last 10 to 15 years or whatever. Mine is 17 years old now. If I’d have had a kid when I started my podcast, they’d be like second-year high school, and that to me is incredible.

Frederick: It’s crazy. Yeah.

Martin: Don Komarechka, who I know is a mutual friend, he mentioned recently, I forget the name that he threw out, but someone is saying that they are the longest running podcast that has released a podcast every week. I’m sure they’re correct because I have missed weeks and I have missed months sometimes when I’ve had to go and have brain tumors removed and things like that. So, there’s been there’s been times when I’ve skipped. I’m not saying that they’re wrong, but I can still say that I was the third photography podcast in iTunes shortly after the first two. That’s something that people can’t take away from me.

Frederick: I remember Chris Marquardt and Tips from the Top Floor.

Martin: He was the first.

Frederick: That was the first photography podcast. I remember it was the first.

Martin: I believe he was the first. But LensWork from Brooks Jensen. 

Frederick: Oh, okay. Yes.

Martin: That was already in iTunes when I hit the third slot. 

Frederick: Wow. Isn’t that great?

Martin: Yeah. I remember a friend in the UK emailed me and said, “Have you seen these podcast things?” and like three days later, I’ve got my database built and my first episode ready to put out, but I listened to Chris and Brooks’ first few episodes, and I was like, “Okay, I could do this. I could jump in the middle there.” Be a little bit more serious than Chris who’s more sort of bubbly and everything, and a little bit more in depth than the short bite-sized lens work episodes, and I thought, “There’s a slot for me there.” But I remember then, literally, a few days after putting the first episode out, I jumped on a plane because I was still in my old job, and I was in Florida presenting one of the company’s big meetings there. And at the end of that, going out and buying one of the white iPods so that I could actually listen to it on an iPod.

Frederick: Yeah.

Martin: Ironically, for being a part of that presentation, I received exactly the same iPod a few days later, so I came home with two.

Frederick: That’s awesome.

Martin: And I still have them, they’re sitting in a drawer downstairs. But I also remember seeing like, comment after comment come in via email, people saying, “Oh, we love the podcast,” and I’m like, “Oh, Jesus, it’s hitting an audience.” People were hungry for it. They really ate it up. So, it’s been really, really good. 

Frederick: Yeah. No, it has. I agree. I think that was part of the lightning in a bottle that you’re not going to get back again, because it was Wild West. What you describe is kind of like a scene in a podcasting movie where somebody does something, they have no idea what the response is going to be, and then it blows up. And now, there’s an audience. It sounds very cinematic. But yeah, it’s really cool. For me, it’s still exciting, the whole podcasting industry, because much like photography– you and I love photography as well, much like photography, podcasting is many faceted, and you can go as expensive– just like cameras, you can go as expensive and as nerdy and as geeky on microphones and gear as you want to go or not. You can go completely commando and just podcast with an iPhone, you can totally do that. 

Things are changing all the time, which keeps it really interesting. Aside from the technology side of it, there’s also the performing art side of it. Being on the mic and being on camera, and being able to hold a conversation with someone and pull out different information, that piece of it is, I think, an art form versus the all the bells and whistles of technology to make it happen, but you’ve got to be good at both of them in order to pull off a podcast. 

Martin: Absolutely. Especially if you’re producing it yourself and doing all of that. Well, you started a wonderful segue there to the second part of what– see, you’re doing that your Frederick Van Johnson thing–

Frederick: I can’t help it.

Martin: -segue. Cameras and gear and stuff well that’s what we’re going to talk about a little as well. I want to start that section by asking what you’re shooting with these days. What’s your camera bag look like at the moment? 

Frederick: Well, it depends on what I’m doing that day. For example, right now, if you want to call it a webcam, my webcam is a Panasonic LUMIX BGH1, which is their box camera, Netflix-certified camera with a 12-bit, 35 2.8 lens on it, and that just lives on a little tripod behind my display forever. This mic runs into it, HDMI that into the computer, everybody’s happy. So, that’s the studio setup. With one single softbox behind it, that’s the studio setup. If I’m doing photography, for the most part still photography or something that’s destined to be a still, maybe it’s a cinemagraph something that’s based on still, I’ll use my Nikon Z 6II, which I just got, I’m happy with that. And I use that almost specifically for, or– I forget the word I’m looking for. I only use it for still photography.

The LUMIX gear– I also shoot with the LUMIX S5 camera and an S1. They’re both full-frame LUMIX cameras, but when they take the L, the L glass, the Leica glass, I use that specifically for video type work. Like the camera behind me over there and you can see its silhouette, that is a LUMIX GH6 even, and that’s rigged for video. Those cameras, there are no better cameras in my opinion for video. I know I’m going to get hate mail for that, but LUMIX cameras just excel at video, especially for the kind of things that I do. I love the color, I love the operating system on them. But for still photography, I was brought up on Nikon way back in the day in the Air Force.

Martin: Yeah, I remember that.

Frederick: It was all Nikon all the time. One day, I just had the epiphany– because I was doing still photography with my LUMIX cameras and it was great, it’s fine. I had some setbacks with focusing and that sort of thing in low light performance, but for the most part, solid cameras, even for still photography, but I came to the realization one day of like, “You love Nikon. Why not just use Nikon for the still stuff?” Plus, they’re coming out with this– or they came out with the Z9, which is amazing. So, my path was, “Why not have your cake and eat it too,” which is use LUMIX almost exclusively for video and motion type stuff where it excels. And for stills, you’ll use your Nikon, which you love and it excels at still photography. So, that’s my loadout. Long answer to your question, three setups. This one, the BG camera for the webcam. One of the LUMIX cameras for video-type shooting and then the Nikon for stills.

Martin: I’ve been enjoying using my Canon cameras as a webcam as well. As you have done a lot of times over the years, the idea of feeding the audio directly into the camera and then just having the one feed, that’s magical right there. 

Frederick: One feed, yes. Oh, man. And none of that sync issue, and the delay, all that. It just comes out as one sweet, perfect HDMI signal that you can do things with versus the mic is going into the ATEM and this and this. MixPre-3 from this and then compression and all that, just everything goes into the camera and it’s happy. 

Martin: Yeah. I have some video gear and on one of those video monitors, a seven-inch monitor that I put on top of the camera when I’m going to be actually using it as a video camera, and I can get a 4k HDMI feed out of that. I also link the audio to the camera. So, I don’t know why– Well, I do know why I didn’t think of it, it’s because I’m not quite on the ball there. But yeah, recording that feed. That’s a little great tip right there. 

Frederick: Yeah, it cleans up your desk too, because before I did that– like I said, I still have these things but I had in commission and active use, the MixPre-3 from Sound Devices. So, my microphone was running into that, which has built-in hardware compression, which is great. And then, coming out of that into an ATEM Mini Pro from switching and I had multiple camera angles, and all the HDMI were going into that thing, so I can just hit buttons to go to different cameras. And then, I found I never did that. I’m usually just one camera. That’s all I need. So, I got rid of all that and piped directly into the camera, and there’s nothing on the desk now.

Martin: Excellent. Great advice.

Frederick: No wires. Not one wire over here. 

Martin: I’ve got wires everywhere. Because I’m mainly audio, so I’m fine. I don’t need the video camera for a lot of my podcasts. But when I’m doing the video, that’s a great idea. Wonderful stuff.

So, you’ve got your three systems. The one thing I mentioned that I was going to keep until we were talking– pre-show, I mentioned something that I was going to hold up. Remember when I was on TWiP regularly, we would often speak about how I’m on the fence with mirrorless?

Frederick: Mm-hmm. 

Martin: Do you realize that I’m fully mirrorless now? 

Frederick: No, you were the most resistant person to anything mirrorless. Martin’s audience, I’m going to just turn and talk to you specifically about Martin. Martin was so resistant. “No, I don’t need it. This this camera does fine. Why would I spend the money on that? Look at these pictures. The proof is in the pudding,” all that stuff. I think I said, “One day, you will,” and you did.

Martin: Oh, yeah. I’m not sure if you’d remember, but I used to say that the one thing I was waiting for is for Canon to do it right, and that’s how I’ve gone mirrorless. It’s the EOS R5. And before this, the EOS R was the steppingstone. That was a good enough camera. Actually, it’s this, it’s the mount. I saw the EOS R come out, and initially I was still on that fence. I was, “You know what? Maybe we need another generation or two.” And that in many ways was the case. But when I looked at the specs for the EOS R for the arm mount or the RF mount, is it? The arm mount here, I thought they shaved off. They did what they should have done. They took the mount and made it 24 millimeters further back from the camera, that mirror, the space that they needed for the mirror, that inch, they removed it. And so, the arm amount is 24 millimeters further back and that enabled them to make the lenses. They’re still good. I mean this is a 15- to 35-millimeter F2.8 lens. It’s still a hefty lens, but it’s significantly shorter than what it would have been in in a regular EF mount. 

Frederick: Absolutely.

Martin: And I have been loving this. They’ve gone on. People that were thinking Canon were done, I’m like, okay. Now you realize why I stuck with Canon, because it really just all depends. What you found is great for you, and everybody finds their own systems. I fell in love with Canon 30 years ago, and I’m really happy that I’ve waited for the arm mount and the EOS R series to come out, because they’ve really done everything that I hoped they do. They capitalized on the shorter distance. The quality’s amazing. To me, the R5 is– they’ve brought out the R3 now, which is their fast sports model. I don’t need one. It’s 20 megapixels. In the past, I used to enjoy using my 5DS R because it was 50 megapixels. I’m a megapixel whore, as I’ve said many times in the past.

Frederick: Yeah.

Martin: I will always go after the megapixels as long as I can get good quality pixels, and the 5DS R was. I looked at the specs for the third for the EOS R, it was 30 megapixels. So, I took a drop, but that was my first steppingstone into mirrorless. It was not perfect. There was the blackout as you shot wildlife that made it very difficult to shoot moving subjects, but you could get used to it and I was still getting birds catching fish out of the sea and stuff. That was a good first few years. But then, they came out with the EOS R5 45 megapixel, still not quite 50, but 45 megapixels, that area is where I want it to be, and at 20 frames per second. I’m like, “Okay, so now there’s not even a need for me to buy the one series format bodies because they’ve got 20 frames per second–” 

Frederick: You’ve got what you need.

Martin: So, I was sold. Been two years now, I think, since they released the R5. Unfortunately, since it’s come out, the pandemic has had a hold of us, so I haven’t actually used it on tour yet. I’ve been getting a lot of use in many places, but in two weeks’ time I’m going to be back in maybe with this camera and all of my new RF mount lenses.

Frederick: That’s going to be Disneyland for you out there. 

Martin: Yeah. It’s like three lenses now. I have more. I’ve got the 100-millimeter macro lens. But I have everything uncovered with three lenses now. So, 15 to 35 millimeters, 24 to 105, and 100 to 500. Even during the pandemic, as my revenue plummeted 97% as I mentioned recently, I have been able to still rebuy pretty much change all of my kit because of the secondhand resale value. My 200- to 400-millimeter lens was over $10,000, and that was a $12,000 lens. That paid for a big chunk of all of the new stuff, so I ended up changing everything. I’ve got five including the 50-millimeter, five RF lenses, and it’s all been done for like a grand outlay of $100 or so in total.

Frederick: Through where? Through a local camera store or one of the… 

Martin: Yeah. There’s a store here in Tokyo. I actually did a review and–

Frederick: Don’t say Yodobashi Camera.

Martin: It’s not Yodobashi.

Frederick: Yodobashi. 

Martin: They do secondhand gear, but it’s a store called Map Camera, M-A-P Camera. They actually sell online as well, but they are a great store to go in. They’re usually about 10% cheaper than the Yodobashi, which is literally next door in Shinjuku. I shop at Yodobashi for various things, but when I want to buy a camera or lens, I go straight to Map. They give you a ticket when you buy your lenses from them that says if you take this back to them to sell it later, they’ll give you an extra 2%. I was able to sell all of my old gear back to Map Camera for a really good price. It’s basically all paid for itself. The only thing I had to pay any money for was when I bought the macro lens, which I had to add $100 for. Apart from, that I’m set. So, I’m now a mirrorless camera person, and I’m absolutely loving it.

Frederick: Welcome. Welcome, my friend. Finally. Now, I want a full report after you’re actually out there and you take it on a workshop, and you shoot with a new glass and you feel out the limitations and where it excels and all that. Then, we’ll have a conversation. 

Martin: I’ve been using it. I used the EOS R on tour for a couple of years. Like I said, there were times when the blackout was annoying. There’s no real blackout with this. I have shot birds and things just in the area here. I’ve been shooting with it, just not on tour. I already know that I love it. I think that the R5 at this point in time is the best camera Canon has ever made.

Frederick: That’s what they say. It’s funny when you said about the slow pace of iteration that Canon made. It took you this long to feel like it was ready for you to jump. Troy Miller, who I do these photo critiques with, he said the same thing. I did an interview with him about the Nikon Z 9. He said the same thing about that camera, because, in that interview, I challenged him about how Canon Canon and Sony were running circles around Nikon, and everyone’s like, “What’s going on with Nikon? Is Nikon going away? Are they going to do something?” And then they come out with this crazy unicorn dust powered, dark matter, unobtainium-bodied camera, that’s doing all these magical things. 

One of the questions I put forth in that interview was, “Okay, so now it would appear–” of course, this is subjective, “But it would appear that Nikon has either caught up with the competition, or even innovated a little bit past them,” which of course they’ll catch up and do whatever. But the question was, “Is this the new path of Nikon. Now that they they’ve caught up, are they going to continue to keep pace with Canon and Sony and the rest of them? Or, is it going to be another 5 to 10 years before they make another quantum leap and what we have today is what we’re going to live with for a decade?” 

Martin: Yeah.

Frederick: It’s interesting.

Martin: I know about the new cameras, I’ve not really followed what they’re probably going to do. But Canon has, unless I’ve missed a follow-up post or a follow-up announcement, they did announce a few years ago that they were not going to design and manufacture any new EF lenses. And if you look at their lineup now, they have been on a stampede of new lenses, R mount or RF mount lenses. They’ve actually just announced a new 1200-millimeter lens. They used to have an old EF 1200-millimeter super telephoto lens. They’ve just announced an RF version of that. I think it’s something like $10,000 or $12,000– No, actually, I think it’s $20,000 or something like that. Needless to say, I’m not going to own one but that was an amazing lens years ago. 

Say you want to get a portrait of someone with the moon sort of directly behind them and things, or someone on a hill and the moon is huge behind them, or sports and stuff, that is going to be– not a regular sports lens. I don’t own a super telephoto other now than the 100 to 400. So, I’ve downsized, my kit bag for Namibia is going to look nice and neat, because it’s literally going to have three lenses and two bodies. I’m going to take my EOS R as a backup, but my main shooting is going to be with the R5.

Frederick: It’s going to be good. 

Martin: On that, what do you think’s going to happen with cameras in the future? What would you like to see now in a camera that is currently not on the horizon or not something that you can buy at the moment?

Frederick: That’s a really good question, because the cameras themselves, even though all these bodies that we’ve been talking about in this conversation are just magical and they have so much headroom, that the average photographer is going to be happy for years to come with what’s available today. That said, there’s always room for improvement. And I think one of the more glaring leaves from my perspective– and I’d be really interested to hear what you think about it, one of the glaring omissions right now across camera brands, some more than others, but basically across camera brands is an app ecosystem, like you find on your phone where you can buy different capabilities for your camera, which is essentially a supercomputer that happens to have high-quality optics attached to it. Why can’t I get some of the more computational photography type features that you find on modern smartphones inside a camera or a device with proper optics on it, versus the little cell phone camera? I know it’s a big nut to swallow, but the whole idea of having a robust ecosystem to allow those sorts of things where it be something as simple as an intervalometer, and instruction on how to do astrophotography, to portraiture or whatever, why can’t I have an app store ecosystem for my camera, so that maybe I can–? Maybe Martin Bailey writes an app, and you have all of your workshop attendees download your specific app, because it has settings and all this stuff for their camera depending on the model, wouldn’t that be great? And you can keep in touch with them. 

Martin: So, it needs to be a standard that works with all systems, they all get together.

Frederick: Ultimately, that’d be great, but unlikely considering the nature of competition with these camera companies. But even to have them as solo, like there’s a Nikon app store for all the Nikon cameras that support it and a Canon store and a Sony store. Sony kind of did it, but in my opinion kind of half assed it with the application delivery to the device, but to have one that has the fit and finish and polish of a Google Play or Apple App Store in it, but for people that have spent the money for these, these cameras, I think that’d be amazing. Then, if the camera becomes a platform, even if it’s a platform specific or brand-specific platform, but if it’s a platform, then you can do all kinds of things, like network the cameras together and do bullet time type shots and do all these things that you can’t do today, because each camera is basically dumb. They’re not smart cameras. I want a smart camera, like having a smartphone.

Martin: That is the thing that you pretty much touched on what I would love to see, and that is just Bluetooth connection– my cameras all have Bluetooth now. I would like for them to– I open a specific menu and say, “Sync this camera with X number of cameras in the vicinity,” and it looks for other cameras that I’ve also set trying to pair or something like that. And then, once you’ve done that, you’ve got a series of checkboxes to select which options, which settings you want to sync. Okay, sync my shutter speed, my aperture, and my ISO and maybe white balance, things like that. All of these common settings that pretty much all cameras have sync these with– it doesn’t necessarily even have to be cross system. Even if my Canon cameras did it with other Canon cameras, I’d be happy. 

When I’m shooting wildlife, I always pretty much– unless it’s very specific challenging weather conditions or lighting conditions, I always shoot in manual. What I find is that I’ve got one camera, say, on a tripod, another over my shoulder and I have to– as the light changes, I have to constantly change both cameras. If I could just change the shutter speed or the ISO on one and have it automatically synced to the second, I’d be in heaven. It would stop me making mistakes every so often when I needed to change things quickly and forget the change the other. It seems like a no-brainer.

Frederick: It seems obvious, that and syncing the clock so that you’ve got frame accurate– Those sorts of things, other things that I like to see added beyond just features and computational photography, superpowers, would be either the Apple AirTag’s technology or something like it, because these cameras are very expensive. To have something in, is where I have a “find my,” exactly. I’ve got one in every camera bag, but I want–

Martin: I’ve just got some– the literal ones…

Frederick: I want that technology integrated into the camera itself. I don’t want to have to stick it on there or hide it in my camera bag. I want it inside the camera. 

Martin: This size with one button battery in there, again– the thing used to be, it either takes up too much battery power, or the signal can’t get out of the magnesium alloyed body. In that case, put it under the rubber. It’s so small now, you just put it under the rubber there, it can get out. But yeah, I actually just had three of the people that I’ll be traveling in Namibia with, they were in Chile a few weeks or a month or so ago. They fell for the flat tire scam. They stopped to help someone with a flat tire, and they ended up with all of their camera bags and everything being stolen from them. Luckily, they had a tag in each of their bags, and they got them all back. I ordered these, a pack of four a month ago, they proceeded to be shipped the following day, and then sat in Shanghai from the lockdown that they’ve got in Shanghai, they sat in Shanghai for a month. I was about to cancel the order, but they did arrive. So, I’m happy, I’ve got that. They’re amazing little things. I’ve got a pack of four. I’m going to put one in all of my bags and things every time I leave the house now.

Frederick: I started with four, and now they’re in every camera bag, every little day bag, whatever. So, they’re in all the bags named appropriately. And, of course, all the camera bags as well, and luggage and everything. So, I know where everything is, or at least my luggage, I know where it is…

Martin: Did you did you get them inscribed on the back with the name? That’s why mine had to come from Shanghai. Like MBP4 here. I have MBP1 through 4 just so that I know which ones they are.

Frederick: I got a Sharpie marker. I write on there with a Sharpie, and no one will ever see those. The whole point of those is– 

Martin: Exactly.

Frederick: They just gone and hidden forever. You never even see them.

Martin: I like the note. There was a notification when I paired it saying that planting them on people to track them without their permission is illegal in most countries. That’s an important thing to put out there. Even with that out there, like they say, “Locks on doors only stop honest people.” 

Frederick: Yeah, I know there’s probably meanings about that message, because part of me is if somebody gets that message like, “Oh, that’s actually a good idea. I didn’t realize that. I’m going to track my spouse…

Martin: “Oh, no, I’m going put one in my girlfriend’s bag.

Frederick: Exactly. There’ve been several instances of people misusing those things as they do anything, because humans. But guys were dropping them in pockets of girls or whomever at clubs, and then now they know where they live. The thing will alert you and tell you that you’re being tracked or whatever but if you’re not paying attention or it’s loud or whatever, you’re never going to hear it. Yeah, there’s issues that need to be worked out with these things, but I think the positives of me being able to have the peace of mind to, when I arrive somewhere, at some airport, I’ve been in several airports in the last couple of months, you can look on your phone and see that your luggage is, “Oh, it’s here. It’s over there. Okay, cool. At least it made it to the airport,” versus looking and not having any information about where your luggage is, until it shows up on the carousel. 

Martin: I’m going to put one in my main suitcase, a big duffel bag that I take to Namibia. So, yeah, I’ll be able to track that.

Frederick, we’ve been speaking for an hour now and I don’t want to keep you for much longer. I have absolutely enjoyed this conversation, and I know that the audience are going to enjoy it as well. I’ve got a big list of all of the social networks and places that you can be contacted on and followed through. I’m going to put those into the show notes, which are going to be at mbp.ac/778. I just wanted to ask you if there’s anything that you wanted to plug or talk about before we drop off? 

Frederick: Well, yes and no. Of course, all roads lead to This Week in Photo, which is where the podcast is, so please subscribe to the podcast and check it out and let me know what you think. I would love that. And also, the TWiP community, Martin, which you are a member of is our private paid community. I’d love it if some of your audience would come over there and check it out. I think we’ve got a two-week free trial going right now. So, go ahead and check that out. It’s at join.twip.pro? Let me double check. I’m so not good about that stuff. It is join.thisweekinphoto.com will take them there.

Martin: It’s a very thriving community as well. You’ve built something really good over there and so on. Congratulations on all you’ve achieved. And I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years are going to bring for Frederick Van Johnson and your TWiPverse. Hopefully, if you’ve got anything that you want to chat about again or just for catching up like this, it’s always a pleasure. So, I’d like to maybe hope that we can jump back on a call in some few years.

Frederick: In a few years? Few months. What are you talking about?

Martin: Few months would be great. I mean, you can have a regular spot and we’ll–

Frederick: Likewise, we can do that.

Martin: You bring more to the podcast than you realize, so it’s a lot of fun.

Frederick: Thank you.

Martin: Well, really, thank you very much, Frederick. We’ll drop off there. But I am really looking forward to continuing to stay in touch and have a great– I was going to say have a great week whatever you’re doing, because that’s how I normally end my podcasts. But I’ll add something after this anyway. But really, thank you very much. It’s been a lot of fun. 

Frederick: All right. Thanks, Martin.

Frederick’s Bio:

Frederick is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The TWiP podcast — a popular and influential photography show. Frederick served as Chairman of the Board at Brooks Institute (Brooks.edu) as well as strategy and marketing advisor for several photography tech companies.

Frederick began his career as a Combat Photojournalist in the United States Air Force, where he served for 8 years, and was decorated many times for his exemplary work in the field. Frederick’s unit at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California was among the first in the armed forces to receive, and put into daily use, digital imaging processes and DSLR camera equipment. As a result, Frederick was awarded the prestigious U.S. Air Force Commendation medal for his key role in facilitating the USAF’s transition from film-based photography to digital imaging.

After being honorably discharged from his photojournalism unit in the US Air Force, Frederick went on to study visual communication and marketing at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

As a prior employee of Apple and Adobe, Frederick was a key player in the development of iPhoto and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, respectively. Also while at Adobe, he was the director for professional photographer marketing and outreach.

More recently, Frederick has been experimenting with drone-based aerial photography, 360º video, and virtual and augmented reality based photography.

Today Frederick lives in Northern California, and continues to podcast and practice photography whenever possible.

URLs:

Website: http://www.thisweekinphoto.com 

Community: http://join.thisweekinphoto.com 

Facebook: http://facebook.com/thisweekinphotography 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thisweekinphoto 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9kH9c4alSSYOMWCDos8OaA 

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thisweekinphoto


Show Notes

You can watch this episode on Vimeo here:

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

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OBSBOT Remote Update and PhotoClock Pro Video (Podcast 774)

OBSBOT Remote Update and PhotoClock Pro Video (Podcast 774)


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You may recall from a few weeks ago when I reviewed the OBSBOT Tiny 4K AI-powered webcam, that I mentioned how I really disliked the way the remote control was by design rendering the computer keyboard completely useless. Well, just a week after I bought my Tiny 4K webcam, I received an email from the makers of this little camera letting me know that they have released a new remote control that does not mess up the keyboard.

Dispite having owned mine for literally just a week, they did not agree to replace it free of charge, but they are running a campaign that enables registered users to replace their current Remote at around a 70% discount, so I paid just $10 to have a replacement sent over to Tokyo. It took about three weeks to arrive, but I am very pleased to report that I have the remote running, and it works great, and I am typing the manuscript for this Podcast episode at the same time! This was not possible with the old remote.

I am now so much happier with the OBSBOT Tiny 4K webcam and feel much happier recommending it to others now as well. Unfortunately, I just checked Amazon.com and as of April 15, 2022, the company that is selling these remotes is still selling the old version, so be very careful if you buy one of these. People are probably going to try to move their old stock creating unhappy customers before moving to the new stock, and creating happy customers. You could try calling the store from which you buy your remote and check that they will send the new version, but otherwise, probably the most fail-safe way to buy is to go to the mother-ship obsbot.com website, although shipping may take a while. I’ll put the full link to the remote product page in the show-notes for this episode. Design-wise, they are identical to look at, apart from the red “New” sticker on the back of my new remote. This actually came in handy as I still had both of them on my desk earlier this week when I reached over to pick it up, and was able to quickly confirm that I had the right one in my hand, thanks to the sticker.

Anyway, a nice job from the team. They should have gotten this right from the start, and probably only fixed it because I’m sure a lot of people complained, and those that didn’t were probably afraid to speak up after being sent a copy. That would never happen in my reviews because I don’t review anything that I can’t speak my mind about, but as I mentioned in the original review, I bought this camera with my own money, and have received nothing from the makers of the OBSBOT in relation to this or the original review.

I actually don’t really have much else to say this week, as I’ve been working on my new app again! I’m about to release an update that will add a brightness alarm, enabling you to set four different dimming and brightening patterns to dim the screen over a duration that you set, and then brighten the screen again at the time you also set. At this point I’m still not sure that I can make it play a song that you select as part of the alarm, although that is my goal at this point. To enable me to do that in style though, I am integrating PhotoClock Pro with Apple Music, and I am pretty sure that I will be able to enable you to select songs to play as your alarm relatively easily once I have the integration finished.

I created a video that I wanted to share with you, and I’m behind on pushing this out because of the new development work, but I did include the dimming and brightening and show the Apple Music integration to the point I was at two days ago. I am now able to go into the albums and select tracks as well as jump to related albums etc. so it7s shaping up very nicely. I’ll probably do another short video soon once I get the new release out, to share how it finally works.

I’ll embed the video in this post anyway so that you can check that out. If you’d like to pick up a copy of PhotoClock Pro, please visit the product page at https://mbp.ac/pcp or go directly to the App Store at https://mbp.ac/aspcp. You’ll find these links in the show notes below too.


Show Notes

PhotoClock Pro product page: https://mbp.ac/pcp

PhotoClock Pro in the Apple App Store: https://mbp.ac/aspcp

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.


New Text Watermark Features in MBP FAB Tools for Adobe Photoshop (Podcast 763)

New Text Watermark Features in MBP FAB Tools for Adobe Photoshop (Podcast 763)


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I’ve just released an update for our MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop, so I wanted to spend a little time today to explain the great new features that are now available. The update is version 1.5.1 so if you already own FAB Tools and don’t see these options, please check the Adobe Plugin Manager and update the plugin if necessary. All of the new features are in the Add Text module, where you can add text to your resized and framed image. Two of these new features were based on suggestions I received from a listener so I’d like to give a shout-out to Roger Jones from the UK and thank Roger for the suggestions and for using FAB Tools!

Also, please note that I’ve just released a 24-minute video to explain these new features, so I’ll embed that here as it will probably be easier to understand these features if you follow along in real-time. Then I’ll go on to explain again below, for those of you that just want to listen, or for Patron members that prefer to read.

Second Text Line (from V1.5)

Second Text Line
Second Text Line

From version 1.5 which was released a few days ago in the Adobe Exchange Marketplace, there are now more text customization options than ever! First of all, you can now add a second line of text that you manually enter for your Text Watermark.

All you have to do to use the second line of text is to select the Second Line Text field (inside the green box in this screenshot) and type in your text. This second line will also appear for any text watermarks that you have already configured and can be used just as though you were creating the watermark afresh. When you tab away from the text field your text is automatically saved along with your first line and other options, such as font, font style, and font color.

Once saved, if you don’t need to embed your second line in your watermark, you can either delete the text or uncheck the Activate check box to the right of the Second Line Text field. If you want to change your text regularly, leave the Auto-hide checkbox unchecked, and the field will remain on the screen when the other options are hidden. 

Add Custom Fonts

Another new feature in version 1.5 is the ability to add any font that you have installed on your system to the Font pulldown for use in the Text Watermarks. To get started just click on the Add Font button that can be seen after clicking on Show Options in the Add Text module. If you haven’t added a Text Watermark yet, you need to add at least one before these options are visible.

After clicking the Add Font button, you will see six text fields, that you can see in the below screenshot. The first is for the font name, and the following five fields are for the various styles that you commonly find in a font. The name can be anything you want, but so that you can recognize the font, using the Font Name is recommended. For the remaining Postscript name fields, you can use the font file name without the extension, or get the font style name from the Font Book under Applications on a Mac or from the system Font viewer on Windows.

Mac Font Book
Mac Font Book

These names have to match the actual font names or your custom font will not work. After entering the style names, click the Store Font button, and check the preview to see that the font is working. If you have added more than one font style, also check that the style changes in the preview when selected.

Adding a Custom Font
Adding a Custom Font

You can add different styles to the five provided, for example, you might add an Extra Light font style instead of Light, or Extra Bold instead of bold, but note that the style will only be displayed by the available style radio button with the default names. Once you have added a custom font, you can press the Edit Font button that will be displayed when a Custom Font is selected and reopen the font text fields to check or change what you added. There is no limit to the number of fonts that you add. 

Note too that the fonts are added to the MBPCustomFonts.txt file that you can find along with the other preference files that are stored. To see your Custom Fonts file and potentially make a backup, go to the Tools module and click on the Show Settings Folder Path button, then copy the path to the clipboard, and paste that path into the dialog that appears when you select the Finder > Go > Go to Folder option on a Mac, or paste the path into the Explorer path field in Windows. 

Description Text Wrapping Options

Version 1.5 also introduced two new Description Text wrapping options. The Description text is automatically extracted from your image if you added a description, either in the File Information > Description field in Photoshop, or in another application, like Capture One Pro or Lightroom. If you add a Description in Photoshop, note that you must save and close then reopen the file before MBP FAB Tools will be able to read the Description from the image file.
The first of the two new wrapping options is to return after the number of words entered into the first of the two optional fields. Your description will automatically be wrapped after the number of words entered. The second new wrapping option is to wrap when FAB Tools finds a specific character or character string in your Description. By default, this is an opening parenthesis bracket. As you can see in the example screenshot above, I wrapped the description after the two words “The Abyss” by including the remaining Description inside parenthesis. I’ve not limited the character wrap to the first instance of a character, so you could theoretically wrap line after line by including the wrap character multiple times.

Safe Text Scaling

The last major update in this release is the Safe Text Scaling option. As it is now possible to build text watermarks that can potentially overflow the space provided in the border surrounding your resized image, I’ve added the Safe Text Scaling option and turned it on by default, and this will essentially prevent your text from overflowing the border and being cut off.

The cool thing about this is if you do work with multi-line text watermarks, and are happy for them to fill the border space vertically, you can now just set a larger Scale percentage than necessary, and allow the Safe Text Scaling option to resize your text to fit the border automatically. So, for example, instead of trying to find the percentage required to fill the border, which might be say 32%, you can now just specify a 50% border, and leave the rest to FAB Tools. Needless to say, it works with landscape or portrait orientation images, as well as square and panorama images.

If you want to know whether Safe Text Scaling is kicking in, look below the three options under the Text Anchor Target section in the Add Text module while adding a text-based watermark. You’ll see a green message quickly flash onto the screen saying “Text Auto-Scaled!” To actually be on the Add Text screen if you are adding a Watermark during the resizing process, select Apply Web or Print Border from the hamburger menu in the top right of the FAB Tools plugin panel.

OK, so we’ll start to wrap it up there for this week. If you don’t yet own a copy of the MBP Fine Art Border Tools and would like to, you can jump directly to the product page on the Adobe Exchange Marketplace with the short-link https://mbp.ac/fabtmp and you can get to our product page for further details with the link under the Shop menu at the top of this website.

To finish, I’d quickly like to say a huge thank you to Richard, Jim, David, and Kandice, our new patrons. Thank you, alongside the other patrons for your support of the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast.


Show Notes

Adobe Exchange Short link: https://mbp.ac/fabtmp
FAB Tools Product Page: https://mbp.ac/mbpfabt

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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A Stroll in the Jindai Botanical Park (podcast 761)

A Stroll in the Jindai Botanical Park (podcast 761)


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Last Friday I spent a few hours in the Jindai Botanical Park, my local park, and the reason I moved to Chofu in Tokyo eleven years ago. I took a gimbal that I use to steady my Canon EOS R5 and a new 7″ monitor that I’ve bought for it, partly to test my setup, but I also have wanted to provide some video footage of the Autumn leaves for some time now, so I made my visit into a little project to make a video, basically taking you along with me for “A Stroll in the Park”. I edited the video relatively quickly after getting home on Friday, and then on Sunday, with a rough idea of what I wanted to do for music, I spent a few hours creating what I think is a relatively relaxing piano track that I timed to perfectly match the length of the video. I also set the tempo to a relatively steady pace, as I wanted it to complement just walking through the park.

Here is the resulting video, which I hope you enjoy, and we go on for the Podcast today to explain some of the things I did to make the video and I’ll talk about some of my favorite photographs as well.

So, let’s talk about the process and the photos, etc. as well. First up, here are two photos of the gear that I took with me, out on my table in the studio as I prepared, and packed it into my bag. I also attached my tripod to the bag before we left. As you can see, the gimbal doesn’t really fit into my current bag, so I’m thinking of options that will better suit this type of gear, but for the purposes of this little project, I was fine with just dropping the gimbal into my large vest pocket when not in use.

The Jindai Botanical Park has a number of car parks nearby, and I select which one I use based on what I want to do. The large car park near the main entrance is generally fine, but as you pay by the hour, it can turn out quite pricy. We were in the park for just under three hours, and the car park cost $8 or ¥800. If we want to have a walk through the little group of shops or visit the water garden at the other end of the park, there are some private car parks that charge ¥800 for a whole day, so if I know I’m going to be in the park for more than three hours, I generally park in a private car park near the Jindai Temple.

On this day though, we parked near the main entrance and walked through to the pond where there is a little pagoda that my wife and I generally visit first when we get to the park and enter through the main gate. I sat on one of the benches there and set up my gimbal, so that is where the video starts. I then shot some footage as we walked through the park, along the brook that fills the pond, and across the quaint little stepping stones that I included in the video, then on through one of the main rest areas to the area where the maple trees are that turn yellow and red at this time of year.

I didn’t use what I call the rolling legs technique to steady the video more than the gimbal would already do, for two reasons. The main one being I didn’t want to look like an idiot while on a walk in the park with my wife. If I was on a professional job, I would have bent my legs and walked as steadily as possible, but it wasn’t a professional job, it was a walk in the park. And that is the second reason. I really just wanted the video to feel like you were strolling along beside me, and as you’ll see, the gimbal does a great job of steadying the center of the frame, so you don’t feel nauseous, but the edges of the frame move with my footsteps, so you can see that we’re walking.

I edited the footage to a number of clips that lead us through the park then walk through the maple trees while filming, to give you a feel for the atmosphere. I love this area of the park and don’t think I’ve visited in any season without walking through there, and I think the video helps you to understand why. Once I get to the end of the path, I turn around and come back to the center, but then I packed away the gimbal, and spend another hour or so shooting stills and video with my 100-500mm lens, mostly zoomed all the way to 500mm. All of the footage while walking through the park was shot at around 35mm and I zoomed out to 24mm while walking through the maple trees to show a little more of the colorful canopy.

We’ll look through a number of stills that I shot now, and if you watch the video, you’ll notice that most of them are the same framing as the clips shot from various positions along the maple tree path. In this first shot, we see some of the yellow maple leaves but can also see some patches of orange, which I’ve not noticed in the past. I wondered if the conditions this year would give rise to some hybrid colors if that’s possible, so I’m going to try to go back in a week or so before these leaves fall if only to check.

Mellow Yellow
Mellow Yellow

At 500mm with this lens, my widest aperture is ƒ/7.1, and that was what I shot all of today’s images at, so I won’t keep repeating this. There are also only two that were not shot at 500mm, so I won’t repeat that either. I did most of my exposure manipulation with the ISO and shutter speed, and this was shot at 1/400 of a second, at ISO 400. Once I’ve found some leaves that appeal to me, I start to look at their background and see if there is an angle that I can shoot from that gives me a pleasing background.

When Canon first announced the RF 100-500mm lens, there was the usual spate of complaints that you see online, and one of the main ones was that the aperture at 500mm was too small at ƒ/7.1, but as you can see from this and the rest of the images today, at 500mm ƒ/7.1 provides plenty of smooth bokeh, both in the background and foreground. Complaining about this aperture shows nothing more than a lack of understanding of depth of field.

This next image is a contrast from what I usually shoot. These leaves were in the shadows underneath some brightly lit leaves, but I really like how they fell into almost complete darkness and showed only as silhouettes against the patches of lighter bokeh in the background. This sort of shot is one of the few times that I don’t use my usual expose to the right technique. I could have exposed to the right then darkened this down, but it’s not necessary to get good image quality. I dropped my ISO to 160 for this at 1/200 of a second.

Kouyou Silhouettes
Kouyou Silhouettes

I used the same ISO and a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second for this next shot, where the orange leaves were getting a lick of light, and you can see the darker leaves from the previous shot just poking into the bottom of the frame here.

Forest Fire
Forest Fire

You’ll notice in the video that the contrast between the shadow areas and the spots that get lit through gaps in the canopy can be quite great, and this is one of the reasons that I like this spot. I like to work with extremes, as they provide creative opportunities. Without the shadows, the highlights wouldn’t work in many of these images.

The following image though is all about the contrast between the colors yellow and green.

Yellow in Green
Yellow in Green

I sampled 10 of the key colors from this image automatically in an application called Spectrum that I use when I’m curious about the colors in an image, and really like the color palette from this image. We can also see in the second screenshot here that all of the colors are neighbors on the color wheel, and neighboring colors are generally complementary, but there is enough contrast in the colors to separate the elements out.

We’re back to more of a light and dark contrast in this next image though, as I once again play with the shadows and highlights in these beautiful leaves and their backgrounds. Notice too how I have positioned the batch of leaves just left of center over a darker area of the background, to give them the separate required to appreciate their form. This image was one of the two that I pulled back from 500 to 428 millimeters to get the framing that I wanted. With my shutter speed at 1/160 of a second, I also increased my ISO to 640 for this exposure.

Red Spots
Red Spots

I have to admit though, and long-time listeners may also recall, that I do have a soft spot for the yellow leaves that we see in this following image. Especially with the dark background, I’ve enjoyed shooting this kind of image at this location for probably around fifteen years now, even when I lived in the center of Tokyo, and sometimes drove out here to Chofu to visit this park. I also pulled back a little for this photo to 451 millimeters. I dropped my ISO to 100 for this, with a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second.

Black and Yellow
Black and Yellow

Between all of these shots, I was, of course, switching into video mode, and I left my little RODE mic on top of the camera the whole time so that I could capture the ambient sounds. There is also one point in the video where you hear the large temple bell, which I believe rang out at noon. I always find the sound of these big bells very soothing, so I was happy to have included that in the video.

Next, we see some of the deep red leaves that are at the start of the path through the maple trees. Again, I enjoy the contrast between the dark patches in the background and the out-of-focus other red leaves. We’re back to 500mm for this and the rest of the images, and my ISO was at 250 and my shutter speed was also 250th of a second.

Kouyou
Kouyou

The following image may be worked better towards the end of the video, but I do like the light and dark areas of this image, with the dark tree trunk separating the two sides. You’ll notice how in the video, with this, and many of the cuts, I focussed on a patch of leaves in the foreground before moving the focus out to the red leaves. I enjoy the out-of-focus areas of images and like to play with that when shooting video as well. I’m still focusing with the focus ring on the lens mind. I haven’t invested in a focusing setup for the gimbal, as I’m generally doing OK with the lens, although you’ll probably notice that I did shake the camera a little a few times in the video.

Yin & Yang
Yin & Yang

This final image is a reflection on the surface of the brook that runs through the park. For this, I focussed on the silhouetted maple leaves against the patch of red, but as you’ll see in the closing scene of the video, there were many layers to this image as I focussed through to eventually settle on the leaves sitting on top of the water, before fading to black for the ending credits.

Koyou Reflections
Koyou Reflections

Since DSLR cameras became video aware I’ve been shooting what I call moving stills, which are generally around 30-second clips framed like photos, but when you look closer they are moving. There is one section in the video where the leaves are so still, if it wasn’t for one leaf rotating on a thread of a spider’s web, you’d think it actually was a still photograph, but everything in the video is video, with no stills.

I’ll put B&H links to the main gear used in the show notes for this episode, and will follow up soon with an episode dedicated to talking more about the Weebill-S gimbal and supporting kit that I’m using with this. I also have a bit of information on what to avoid when buying a gimbal for the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R, so stay tuned for that if you are interested. All in all, it was a fun little project, and I enjoyed the entire process, and I hope you enjoyed joining me for a stroll in the park.


Show Notes

Canon EOS R5 Body: https://mbp.ac/EOSR5

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens: https://mbp.ac/rf24-105

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens: https://mbp.ac/100-500

Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL-S Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer: https://mbp.ac/wbs

FeelWorld LUT7 7” 3D LUT 4K HDMI Monitor: https://mbp.ac/fw7

Rode VideoMicro Ultracompact Camera-Mount Shotgun: https://mbp.ac/rvm

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Free Yourself with Back Button Focus (Podcast 760)

Free Yourself with Back Button Focus (Podcast 760)


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I was reminded of this today’s topic in the new MBP Community for our Patreon contributors this week, so I figured I’d spend a little time today talking about why I use Back Button Focus, how I set it up on my Canon Cameras, and I’ll also explain how using the back AF button can help you to switch between various focussing modes without actually changing the camera or lens settings.

First of all, let’s back up a little and talk about how I got started using the back AF button on my cameras. It must be around 15 years or so ago now, when the original MBP Forum was full of great enthusiastic photographers sharing thoughts on a daily basis, and a number of people were talking about back button focus, so I decided to give it a try. I set my camera up so that the shutter button no longer activated the camera’s autofocus, and went out shooting at the Ueno Zoo here in Tokyo.

The first morning using back button focus was frustrating to say the least. My muscle-memory up to that point was all about half-pressing the shutter button to activate the focus and exposure metering and I often forgot that the shutter button was no longer activating the autofocus, and wondered why the lens wasn’t focusing, then a moment later I’d recall what I’d done and hit the back AF button. By the afternoon, I’d started to get it drilled into me what was happening, and although still frustrated, the benefits had started to become obvious to the point that I knew I had to stick with it. In the coming weeks I’d forget to focus a number of times, and had to reshoot a few of my landscape shots, either because I’d forgotten to focus, or I couldn’t remember if I’d focused or not, so paranoia set in, and the screens on the cameras back then weren’t really good enough to to reliably check critical focus, so I reshot some images.

The reason I was hooked on back button focusing is because it enables you to completely separate the act of focusing from the exposure and actually releasing the shutter. If you are currently half-pressing your shutter button and reframing to take your photo, there may be times when that becomes a little bit tiresome. Of course, these days, we can much more easily move the focus point around and with mirrorless cameras now we can often move that focus point to pretty much anywhere in the frame, so there really isn’t any reason not to do that, but it can sometimes be more efficient to simply focus with the center focus point and then reframe when you want to make your exposure, and if you don’t have your shutter button assigned to active your focusing, you don’t have to hold the shutter button down while reframing. You can simply focus by placing your focus point over what you want to focus on, press the back AF button with your thumb and then take your thumb off the AF button, and reframe.

Focus Plane Shift
Focus Plane Shift

As an aside, if you are using a very wide aperture with extremely shallow depth of field, you still need to be careful when reframing, because the plane of focus moves if you change the angle of the camera when reframing. Here’s a quick diagram to illustrate what I mean. Imagine you are doing a portrait of someone, and you focus on their eyes, because it’s important to get the eyes sharp, but with the center focus point, which is represented by the black lines. Then you realize that there’s a lot of space over the subjects head, and that looks amateurish, so you keep your finger half pressed on the shutter button to maintain your focus, then tilt your camera down to reduce the space over their head. This reframing and the plane of focus shift is shown by the red lines.

See how the plane of focus is now quite a way behind the subjects eyes? If you are using a wide aperture with shallow depth of field, you’d lose the critical focus on the subjects eyes. Even with a relatively small aperture, you may still be able to tell that you did not focus on the eyes, and that will ruin your portrait unless you intended the subject to not have sharp eyes.

To make things worse, when you reframe, more often than not you actually rock forward a little, moving the camera further forward still, moving the focus plane back even more.

Because of these things, it’s really just so much better when shooting portraits to get into the habit of moving your focus point to sit over the subject’s eyes. If the subject is not looking straight at you, generally focus on the closer of the two eyes, again, unless you have a reason to do otherwise.

Anyway, a bit of a digression there, but to get back to the point, say for example, I was shooting from a distance away, and reframing isn’t something I need to worry about, then it’s easier to do this with the auto focus on the shutter button disabled, by placing my focus point over what I want to focus on, pressing the back AF button, then taking my thumb off of the AF button to stop focusing, and then reframe, and I don’t have to worry about focusing again, because it’s already done.

If you don’t disable auto-focus on the shutter button, when you press the shutter button to make your exposure, it would start focusing again and you’d be in a mess, so it’s important to turn that off. On all cameras I know of you can do this by going into the custom functions. On my Canon EOS R5 I go to the Custom Functions menu 3 and select Customize Buttons, then ensure that the Shutter button half-press option is changed from Metering and AF start to just Metering start. While you are in that menu, open the AF-ON Button option and ensure that it’s set to the default which is Metering and AF start. These settings ensure that you can use the AF button on the back of the camera to focus, and stop the shutter button from focusing. Here’s a video of my camera menus to help if you get stuck.

OK, so now we have our camera set up to not focus when we press the shutter button. Let’s explore the other benefits of using your camera in this way.

Instant Manual Focus

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits is being able to go into Manual Focus without touching a switch or going into any menus. Simply stop pressing the AF button on the back of the camera, and rotate your lenses focus ring, and you should be able to manually focus. You do have to make sure that your lenses support full time manual focus, because some lenses will try to fight it if you rotate the focus ring while they think they are in Autofocus mode, but if you feel no resistance when you try to adjust your focus with the lenses focus ring, you should be fine to use this method.

This is handy for those times when you just need to quickly tweak the focus, and I really like to avoid switching the lens into manual focus with the AF/MF switch on the barrel of the lens, because it’s so easy to forget that you’ve done that, and then especially with wide angle lenses that have deep depth of field even when wide open, it can sometimes be difficult to notice that they are not actually focusing when you think they are.

One Shot to AI Servo Toggle

Another thing that I like to do, especially when I’m doing a lot of wildlife shooting, is to leave the camera in AI Servo or Continuous Focus mode, and then, I can keep my thumb on the AF-ON button when I want to continuously focus on my subject, but then if I want to use a kind of pseudo One Shot, or Single Shot mode, I can just press the back button quickly to get focus, but then take my thumb off the AF button again. Because this works so well, with the camera in AI Servo focusing mode, we are actually able to use three focusing modes without opening a menu or switching any switches.

We tap the AF button and release for One Shot focus, keep our thumb on the AF button for Continuous AI Servo focus, and keep our thumb off the AF button for Manual focus. Especially for birds in flight and many other types of wildlife photography, being able to stop focussing while shooting can sometimes be a life saver. For example, if you are photographing an animal in long grass the camera can focus on the grass in front of the animal, which is not going to give great results.

I was in this situation when we spotted this lion lying in long grass at a reserve just outside of the Etosha National Park in Namibia. He had his head down low for most of the time, but a lion sitting in long grass at the end of the day doesn’t go too long before yawning, so I focussed on his head roughly where his eyes would be when he lifted his head up, then took my finger off the back AF button and waited.

The Scowl
The Scowl

When he eventually lifted his head up to start yawning, I got a few frames, including his yawn, and like this one, as he lowered his head again after the yawn, looking like he’s scowling. I opened up the series of images in Raw Digger and filtered out the Focus related information, and can see that there are no AF Points in Focus. This tells me that as I recall, I had released my thumb from the AF button during the burst to capture these photos.

Raw Digger EXIF Data
Raw Digger EXIF Data

If I had been using the shutter button to focus I could still have gotten this image, but I would have been relying on focusing as the lion started to yawn, and the danger there is that still could have focussed on the foreground grasses, or even if I waited for the head to be higher than the grass, I may have focussed on the front of his mouth. That would have been fine for the teeth shot, but that would be too near to get the eyes sharp in my favorite shot of the burst shown above.

I have to admit though, that when I am not doing wildlife or fast paced shooting that requires AI Servo or Continuous focussing mode, I generally put my camera back in One Shot or Single Shot focusing mode, as I like to get that little little visual flash when my camera achieves focus, and the little beep is reassuring as well, although I know some people really don’t like that beep.

So, just a quick one this week. We’ll wrap it up there for today. I hope you found this useful, and if you haven’t tried back button focusing yet, give it a try, but not on an important shoot! I remember talking about this on my very first Hokkaido Tour & Workshop and although I warned the group about changing their cameras during the trip, someone did and then spent a frantic hour on the Bihoro Pass at dawn thinking that their camera had frozen up, until he recalled that he’d changed to back button focus. Anyway, have fun with this.

Before we finish I’d like to say a huge thank you to our new Patreon contributors Chris, Alin, Dipak, John, Mike and Nick. Your support along with the rest of the contributors is very much appreciated!


Show Notes

You can get Raw Digger here: https://www.rawdigger.com

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes to get Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.