Thursday, April 17, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Bella Dahl Jeans Girl by Vincent Versace

Copyright (c) Vincent Versace - All Rights Reserved - Used with permission

Copyright (c) Vincent Versace - All Rights Reserved - Used with permission

Yet another blast from the past that I found as I populate my new back-up server. THIS ONE was from the Coolpix 850. I get a call from the then  director of marketing of Nikon telling me she wants a picture for PhotoEast that they can blow up to 8 feet by 10 feet shot with the to be announced at the show Coolpix 850 and she wants me to shoot it. It is a Monday. I say "COOL".Then she says find me a very well endowed model, and I want her to be blond. I say "SURE!" (here reasoning was computer geeks and dweebs did not get out from behind the computer screen much) . She then tells me the camera will be at my studio late Friday afternoon, hand delivered from Japan. I say "OK...." She thinks some of the menus will be in English. Again "ok......." Then she's says I need camera ready art, scaled and on my desk Monday 9am EST or 6am PST. I say "........o......k......"

So I go into the office of Altamira Group, late, get yelled at for showing up late, (I was the Artist In Residence at Altamira Group, the developer of Genuine Fractals now known as Perfect Resize from onOne) I tell them the story of the morning, the the CLO (Chief Legal Officer) say "GREAT!!! My wife has just started this company called Bella Dahl Jeans, and I'm sure she will let you shoot the promo pictures (as a favor.... for no fee being the implied thought here) and your tardiness will be forgiven! 

The camera a arrives at 7pm Friday, it hat most of the menus operational. The ones that had text were 50% Japanese and 50% Spanish. No English. Japanese I get, Spanish left me scratching my head. The prototype  only shot jpeg or tif. Tiffs had a 7 second shutter lag time from pressing the trigger to the camera taking the shot and a 48 second write time to card before you could shoot again.  The model I got through an agent friend of mine would strike a modely "pose" every time she thought we were taking a picture. For the first two hours I got pouty lips and half open eyes the only thing missing was someone saying "ooo la la." So to get the shot I wanted I would tell her I was going to take the shot, she'd hold her pouty lip half eye opened ooo la la pose tell her the shutter clicked (why she could not hear it was because it was an electronic shutter, the click sound she was hearing after I took "the picture"  was the camera advancing the digital film) then she'd relax into these really cool poses which I then took the shot. I told her we had to wait a two minutes for the camera to process, so she would think I was not going to shoot her and she would strike another very beautiful natural pose while stealthily  I'd snap another frame. This went on ALL day Saturday for 11 hours.

This image was lit using a thermonuclear device (the sun) as the point light source (no batteries harmed in the production of this image) a Westcott Scrim Jim 3'x6' diffuser and a Westcott Sunlight reflector (I built my "Hollywood" lighting career with just these two light modifiers).

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. This image was submitted upon request by Vincent Versace and used with his permission for this article.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I’m back–sort of…

After a few weeks break, I'm planning to return with some articles as I discussed in my April 1st article. My goal is to have one to two articles per week for the near term as I catch up on previously promised articles. Articles will include cool products like the Nikon D4s, Fujifilm lenses, a cool new 4k display, paper reviews from Canon, Epson and Breathing Color, and much more. Thanks for your patience during this break and new schedule, and please be sure to stop by from time to time to see what's up.

My friends at Topaz Labs have asked me to share with you a special deal they have going on this month. From now until April 30th, they are running a 50% promotion on Topaz Detail, with coupon code aprdetail.

Click here to learn more!

Conclusion

I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle again to bring you some new reviews. Thanks so much for all of your support during this transition period!

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Back to Photography

Natasha
Natasha
Canon 1D X 1/160 sec at f/10, ISO 100 at 125mm (70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM)

In the first week since I decided to stop working evenings on the blog, I’ve enjoyed what amounts to a great vacation since I actually get to sleep at night. I’m happy, the family is happy, so all is good. Now that I have a little “me time”, I’m looking forward to editing some photos again.

Here’s a photo that was part of my Nikon D610 review. I enjoyed working with this model so much that I pulled out my 1D X when I was done with my “work” and shot with my personal gear.

This was lit using my lighting setup with the Elinchrom 39" Rotalux Deep OctaBox to the left and 27x27 Softbox to the right. The background was lit with my Quadra S lights.

Processing was basic Photoshop touchups with Portraiture for skin and Color Efex for the final punch on the shot.

It was fun to go back to just doing what I love most with photography.

I’m working on a plan to do a weekly article of items on my to do list here in the future.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thanks For Everything! (Not an April Fools’ Joke)

RonAndMoonheeCartoonKyoto2012
Moonhee & Ron Martinsen
Copyright Unknown Artist – Kyoto Japan

In 2006 I went from a millionaire with a family to single and homeless, so I turned to friends to stay alive. They carried me long enough for me to rediscover a long lost passion for photography, so in March 2007 while facing over $5000/mo in legal bills I did something really stupid – I bought my first digital SLRCanon Rebel XTi. This awoke the fire and passion inside of man who started working as a 10 year old boy for $2.50/hr to become fully vested in Social Security by 22 and a multi-millionaire by 29. That selfish man died in 2006, but that rebirth of someone more caring of others was fueled by photography.

A Nice Glass of Scotch - The Birth of ronmartblog.com
A Nice Glass of Scotch - The Birth of ronmartblog.com

Later in March 2008 I picked up Color Efex with $250 I couldn’t afford to part with.  After a really bad attempt at a Strobist shot I used Color Efex to save a really ugly photo taken from my messy bed with very little equipment. This gave birth to my goal oriented desire to learn and help others from making the same mistakes I made during my transition to digital photography.

I didn’t have much money and I was frustrated by buying cheap products that failed me. I hated the reviews that made everything sound great when a lot of it was total garbage. I was tired of wasting what little money I had, so I wanted to shout from the rooftops when I made an investment in equipment or software that paid for itself. What started off as giving advice to friends at work in email evolved into the blog, and in March 2007 ronmartblog.com was born.

2013 was a fantastic year that almost caused me to quit my day job, but the Nik Software merger to Google and the subsequent Google ending the affiliate network took a big financial toll on the blog. This past January’s unexpected merger of KelbyTraining and NAPP into KelbyOne took another source of income off my plate. The net result of these two events and a downturn in others has significantly impacted the financial viability of this blog. I thought donations might save it, but with only $250 donations this year it’s clear that this blog can’t be my primary job.

image
ronmartblog.com – it’s bigger than many people realize!
Snapshot taken March 31, 2014 from Alexa.com

For 6 years I’ve worked from 10 PM to 4 AM (and sometimes as late as 7 AM) on Sundays through Thursdays while still maintaining a 50+hr/week day job to bring my articles to you. It’s taken a significant toll on my health and my family, but I did it with the desperate hope that I could turn this blog that I love so much into my full time job. Despite enjoying up to 90,000 visitors per month from over 190 countries per month and surpassing the Alexa ranking of photography legends like Joe McNally, it simply wasn’t enough.

I have no corporate sponsorship, no advertising and I only make a small commission when I inspire you to make a purchase using links on this blog. Despite this, I spoke from the heart and was a straight shooter – even when it cost me sales. Great partners like B&H helped me to get the camera gear I reviewed and many other great partners supported me by allowing me to review their products – even when my reviews weren’t always favorable. Only two companies have ever asked to see an early preview of my reviews and only one of those has challenged what I had to say. As a result, I can say in good conscience I’ve brought you my unbiased opinions based on how I see things without any external influence or motivation.

I’ve never retaliated against partners like Google (via the Nik Collection) and others who left me out in the cold with no commissions as you can see in my What plug-ins should I buy? (for Photoshop & Lightroom) article.

I’ve received numerous emails of support and a handful of really hateful emails, but I feel very good about what I’ve accomplished with this blog. I thank each and every one of you who have visited, and I especially thank those of you who have supported me via using my links, donations, and spreading the word about my blog.

Moving Forward

Effective immediately I’m scaling back my effort for this blog. I am NOT shutting it down or quitting, but rather returning it to the status of a fun side job – rather than a 2nd full-time job. While I will fulfill my commitments to existing partners to which I’ve promised to do reviews, I will take a break from accepting any new products until I’ve completely cleared my backlog and reassessed things.

Without the financial support of my partners, advertising and sufficient donations from my readers I have to rededicate myself to my daytime job. This also means that I have to get a good night sleep and work at being a more devoted father and husband to the people I care about the most. I just simply can’t keep doing two full time jobs like this anymore, and the finances just aren’t there for this blog to allow me to do this full-time (as much as I wish it was).

Moving forward you can expect new articles, but they will most likely be shorter and less frequent than you’ve seen in the past. Your support by sharing links to your favorite articles and using my links when purchasing will be appreciated more than ever before, so please do not stop doing that!

After spending some time just enjoying photography again as a normal guy and not a gear blogger, I hope to clear my plate and get my life and health back in order. At that point I’ll reassess the performance of this blog and my return on my time investment to see what’s next for me.

Your Support Is Greatly Appreciated!

My Personal Wallpaper
My Kids – It’s time for me to start spending more time with them again!

I hope to be back at this full steam ahead one day, but until then I need your support more than ever by using my links when making a purchase. You can use the links in the articles, my discount coupon code page, the B&H search box or contact me if you need help ordering. You can also continue to show your support by bookmarking this site and sharing links to this blog so that it doesn’t fade away during this time of reduced activity.

To the 2.6 million people who enjoyed over 4.3 million page views from over 227 countries (many of which I’ve never heard of like Nauru) – thank you!

Thanks,
Ron Martinsen

P.S. Just so there’s no conspiracy theories, this was not motivated by any recent review or activity at my day job. This was a personal decision that purely had to do with my family. More importantly, this is NOT an April Fools’ Joke – it’s a coincidence this just happened to occur on April 1st.

Other articles you may enjoy

image

Please use the index on the right side of this blog and the previous post archive at the bottom right (photo shown above) to see my past articles. Don’t forget the blue header bar at the top either (shown below)!

image

Disclosure

This blog is funded by donations and commissions when you order products using my links. It doesn’t cost you a penny more. If you don’t give it here you’ll give it to someone else – someone always gets the commission on the web!

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do you like the new Fujifilm X-T1 selector buttons?

X-T1-Selector-Buttons-vs-X-E2
X-T1 Selector Buttons shown up top,
X-E2 shown at the bottom

Never before in my entire history with photography have I ever jumped on the bandwagon and complained about things that the incessant Internet whiners and trolls have complained about for seemingly every camera that gets released.

When I reviewed the X-T1 I found it to be an outstanding camera in many ways – one that is a front runner for my 2014 camera of the year – BUT it has a design feature that I can’t ignore. In fact, the design feature is so problematic in my usage for the camera that I had to give this outstanding camera a not recommended rating. This was extremely painful for me to do because I loved the camera in many other ways, so I hate to discount that over something that on the surface might feel so petty. However, the number of shots I missed because of fighting with these buttons compelled me to face this issue head on for my readers who trust my reviews.

After my review I got a call from my contact at Fujifilm who expressed that the team at Fujifilm was confused by my review because they had not heard of ANY complaints about the new selector button design. In fact, the person I spoke with defended the design as being an improvement over the predecessor and that my subjective opinion was contrary to every other review they had read on the Internet. I was told that it’s not a problem for any real pro photographers. Hum, I didn’t know Zack Arias wasn’t a real pro photographer (see below).

Fujifilm, I do not think that I’m alone in my opinion of the new selector buttons.

I’ve been a straight shooter for this blog for the past 7 years and I’m not about to start sweeping things under the rug anytime soon. What I see on the web are multiple threads about the selector button issues which you can find here:

  1. http://www.fujix-forum.com/index.php/topic/19115-want-to-fix-that-4-way-dial/ – this is my favorite as they hack a fix using electrical tape!
  2. http://www.fujirumors.com/improved-d-pad-buttons-x-t1-yes-according-openbloom-video/ – fast forward to 3 minutes into the video
  3. http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/gear-gadgets/fuji-x-t1-first-impressions/ – (see the Worst parts section at the end) – “I wish the 4 buttons on the d-pad in the back were larger or more pronounced. I’d like them to be identical to the ones on the X-Pro1
  4. http://cameralabs.com/reviews/Fujifilm_X-T1/ – “But the X-T1's buttons are small with shallow presses; the difference is particularly evident when comparing the cross keys on both cameras. They're just too small on the X-T1, and real-estate shouldn't be an excuse as the EM1 squeezes much larger ones into much the same body size. I'd urge you to pick up both cameras and compare the controls for yourself
  5. http://www.fujix-forum.com/index.php/topic/20647-x-t1-selector-q-and-focus-assist-buttons-are-different-on-my-replacement/
  6. http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/11/5492410/fujifilm-x-t1-review - The four-way buttons on the back are small and fiddly,

If you search the web you can find more, but this gets the point across. I’m not really the ONLY one who has this issue.

Video Demonstration of the Issue

Here’s a video where I demonstrate the X-E2 which does things right and the issue I see with the X-T1:

Conclusion

The X-T1 is an excellent camera, and I love it in many ways – but this isn’t one of them. This is my personal opinion, and I just ask those of you who have actually gone out and shot more than a dozen subjects outside of a store with this camerado you agree that this new design is an improvement over the previous selector button design?

I feel it is a disservice to prospective buyers not to be open an honest about the things that can be improved – on any product. With this in mind, I call into question the integrity of ANY reviewer who doesn’t bring up the issue of this new selector button design.

Perhaps I’ve come down too hard on this issue, but my opinion is that – my opinion. In my opinion, I would not purchase this product due to this design. I know I’m not alone as one of my readers has returned TWO X-T1’s he purchased because of this issue.

NOTE: If you leave a comment on this blog the comment must be screened and approved due to spambots. You only need to submit one time and I’ll approve the first chance I get. As long as your post isn’t spam to other sites and isn’t disrespectful, it will be approved – even if your opinion differs from mine.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.