Better previews on your Fuji S5

One issue that comes up when I'm working with the Fuji Finepix S5, a camera I otherwise love, is that the ability to zoom in on your images on the back of the camera was, well, let's just say "limited." Comparing the S5 to the zooming abilities of the Nikon D3, the D700 or even the D200 really drives home that inadequacy.

Fuji built in to the S5 the ability to quickly zoom in to a face (as much as the camera is able to guess what a face is, I suppose) by pressing the lowest-left button on the back, the one just below the "setup" button.

Pressing the magnify button zooms in, and the little square shows
about how much of the overall image you're seeing when zoomed.

But, convenient as this option is, it doesn't let you zoom in very far. In fact if you're reviewing the image in the camera some time after shooting it, and you've already let your "show me the picture right after I shoot it" preview stop displaying the image, it's only zooming in on about half the image area. That really isn't enough to get a great deal of useful information from the screen. Especially frustrating is trying to determine if some small area of the photo is sharp (like, say, the eyes) because you're still seeing the face, the shoulders and a lot more of the image too.

This is the same scene. See how much tighter you can zoom in?

You can get around this limitation, sort of, by using the same button to zoom in right after you shoot the image, while the "show me the picture right after I shoot it" preview is still on display. This lets you see a much smaller area of the whole photo. Depending on your settings, though, you might only have a couple seconds to catch the preview while it's still on before it goes away. In fact your only customizable options there are to use either 2 or 4 seconds for the preview, which ain't much. But you can also set it to stay on without a time limit, which is good. So what you need to do is go in to your settings menu by choosing SETEP > DISPLAY > IMAGE DISPLAY and then selecting CONTINUOUS. Confirm your choice by pressing MENU/OK.

Setting this function will give you enough time to mess with the zoom buttons.

If you zoom in during this initial display, you can go in much, much tighter, until you're seeing only about 10-15% of the image area. That's usually close enough, on this screen, to tell whether you've got it sharp or not, and you can get some better information about shadows, reflections, or anything else you're looking for.

Now, you may be like me (and all right-thinking citizens)and you're concerned about battery life. "If my preview stays on forever, won't that drain my double-A's?" Well, quit worry, citizen: there are two ways around that. One, you can press any other button (the shutter button comes to mind) and the display will go off. Or you can go in to SETUP > SYSTEM > AUTO POWER SAVE and then set the camera to sleep after a period anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. I have mine set at 15 seconds, and if I leave the camera alone the display goes off about 20 seconds after it comes on (this may have something to do with other functions, like writing the file to the CF card.) If you set it for 30 seconds, it goes off in about 33 seconds. Set it for a minute, and you get about 62 seconds of display. You get the picture. Now, enjoy looking at it!

Tim & Sheila get married in Arlington

One day in late summer while I was buying hardware at Lowes I got a call Tim, who was eager to talk to me about photographing his wedding at Hendry House in Arlington in just a few short weeks. So, trying to block out the background music and the sounds of forklifts moving palettes around, we had a great conversation about his plans to marry Sheila in a daytime ceremony. We hit it off right away.

The weather really worked in their favor on this crisp and beautiful fall day, and it was a lot of fun watching Tim & Sheila spend the afternoon with their friends and dance in to the night.

You can view a larger selection of photos from Tim & Sheila's wedding here.

Carey & Nick in Baltimore

Carey & Nick asked me to do the photography for their wedding in Roland Park's St. David's Church in Baltimore. This is a lovely and intimate sanctuary in the northern part of Baltimore. The priest there, Father Scott, was performing his first marriage service since transferring from another parish, and I was a little worried that he was going to be quite strict about my working in his church. But he turned out to be a super-nice guy, very relaxed about the whole thing, and that made the ceremony go very smoothly even with the relatively-large bridal party.

When Carey and her mom came to visit me in January of 2008 about the wedding, I discovered that my furnace had broken, but only after I blew cold air on both of them for about two hours! Fortunately their wedding day was much nicer. They held their reception at the Maryland Club in Baltimore, which is a very ritzy place with mucho wood paneling and lots of big game peering down at the guests. It made for a very interesting evening.

Particularly enjoyable was the singalong of Steve Miller Band's "Space Cowboy," backed up by one of the best bands I've heard play at a wedding in a long time, the Sultans of Swing. All in all, a very fine reception.

You can see more photos from Carey & Nick's wedding on my website here.