Costa Rica Lower East Coast… Cahuita, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limon Provinceon


A reblog from April 2, 2013 on Location

Tap.. tappity.. tap..tap.. its 4am and for the last three days the sound of the raindrops continues to play a steady drumbeat hitting  the metal rooftop of the adjoining room. The intense climactic down-pours are very sporadic and carry the sound similar to a drum symphony during a finale. It looks as though the wet or (green) season has started early this year in Puerto Viejo.

The town of Puerto Viejo, meaning “old port” is on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica approximately 10 miles from the country of Panama, just south of the city of Limon and should not be confused with Puerto Viejo Sarapiqui, a small town located in the north mid-part of the country. Puerto Viejo is a popular tourist destination known for it’s clean blue waters, beaches, surfing, green foliage and alternative life styles.  The beaches and waters are less than optimal near the shore in the rainy season due to the mud run-off from the tropical rains, however, surfing is still considered fantastic with the ever-present warm Caribbean winds propelling plenty of wave action.  Puerto Viejo is home to “Salsa Brava” the most popular surfing area in Costa Rica.  An area not recommended for beginning surfers due to the deep hollow waves that could reach mountainous heights and pound a surfer into the long shadow reef beneath.  Salsa Brava is renowned for claiming many broken bones and surfboards over the years. Many experienced surfers call this area suicidal.


Numerous indigenous communities inhabit the Caribbean Coast including the Cocles, Bribrís, Talamanca and Cabécar, as well as a large Afro-Caribbean population. Small roadside bars and restaurants flank the road and offer delightful savory Caribbean-Creole infused Cuisine.  The laid-back reggae music and cannabis supporting life-style seems to be the norm for the area.

“Small roadside bars and restaurants flank the road and offing delightful savory Caribbean Infused Cuisine.


The small beach towns of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo can be quite intimidating to tourists. Many of the locals are extremely poor and live in dire conditions.  Metal security fences and bars cover the doors and windows of many local resident homes.

DCIM101GOPROTheft runs rampant and the local thieves will grab and run with anything of value.  Most of the crime is just petty and tourists are advised to leave all expensive jewelry, large cameras or cell phones in their hotel rooms.  The hotels recommend carrying only what you need. We passed through a couple of police checkpoints on the coastal highway in a heavy agricultural area with the police’s attention focusing on theft of the “Peach Palm” or the “Pejibaye Palm Tree”, a local favorite fruit with the taste and texture similar to a sweet potato.

Pejibaye Fruit

Our hotel, the Banana Azul (Blue Banana) is constructed of light and dark hardwoods throughout with a very inviting open lounge area. Situated between the main highway and the beach, the hotel is surrounded by heavy foliage of tropical plants, trees, and a Koi pond that borders and runs the length of the patio.  The atmosphere is somewhat secluded and filled with the indigenous sounds of the tropics, creating a favorable mood of solitude. You can hear the waves of the Caribbean Sea crashing against the beach about 150 feet or so from the hotel’s patio.

“The atmosphere is somewhat secluded and filled with the indigenous sounds of the tropics, creating a favorable mood of solitude”.


Our bedroom offers an eclectic décor with the floors covered in beautiful hardwoods, Asian style bamboo ceilings, sliding parlor doors framed in a beautiful dark red mahogany and glass. A colorful hammock hangs in the adjoining room which has a rock garden, accompanied by a huge tub constructed in miniature shades of aqua green tile.  A large grey porcelain shower stall adjacent to the tub completes the extended part of the hotel room.


The hotel has approximately 16 unique rooms, which includes a small apartment building in the front. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel and the beach area. Fresh fruit mixed drinks and full bar service is offered along with some pleasing cuisine options in the restaurant. The food is good and moderately priced. Accompanying the regular menu is a chef’s special created every night which was satisfactory.  We love the hotel, staff, décor and location,  it was just as we imagined it to be  and beyond.

A tour operator offering several types of local activities is located near the entrance of the hotel. We chose to visit, “Jaguar” and “Tree of Life”, both wildlife rescue centers.  The Jaguar wildlife center had several types of native monkeys, snakes, birds, butterflies and sloths. The sloth is most common to this part of Costa Rica. We captured the photo below of a “Two Claw Sloth” walking a power-line, a regular occurrence that has contributed to many deaths of the breed.


Although very rainy in April, the temperature was just perfect for our visit. It seemed the heavier rains came mostly at night and early morning which didn’t affect the daytime activities as much. I enjoyed the relaxation, serenity and the local cuisine of the area.

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred

Reblog from April 2013….

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Sarasota, Florida.. Grouper Paradise!



Sarasota, Florida (Steve with a nice Red Grouper)

We normally hop aboard our boat at Marina Jack on Sarasota Bay. The marina is located in downtown Sarasota only a couple miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Having a boat docked so close to the Gulf of Mexico contributes to lower fuel consumption and shorter travel times back and forth offshore. Once we leave the dock and hit the Gulf Waters we usually have lines in the water in approximately 45 minutes.  The wind plays a major factor in our travel time,  if under 10 knots we can be 25 miles offshore in about 1.5 hours. Although, we could get out slightly faster but choose a lower prop RPM to help conserve fuel.

Having a fellow boat club member and good fishing buddy  (Steve) who lives nearby is another advantage.  We normally ride together and split the cost of the boat, fuel, tips, ect. Steve stocks bait which he purchases in bulk  at a discount and stores in his outdoor freezer.  Octopus, Squid, and Red Herring  seem to work pretty well with us. Although, I like the squid because its seems to last longer .


We choose to go offshore  in the middle of the week because there’s less water traffic and more boats available. Also, it frees up the weekend giving you more time to do things with your lady.

We had another great day on the water last week catching three limits of Red Grouper, several Porgies and a nice Mangrove Snapper.

Steve is pictured here with his catch of the day (Red Grouper). Yours truly caught some nice ones too.


I pan seared a couple fillets the next day with a compound butter concoction  of Jalapeno, cilantro, tequila, lime and zest. Served the fillets on top a fresh roasted corn and red pepper risotto. It was awesome!!

Click on the link below for  some other great recipes from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for cooking your catch.


Recipe for the Tequila Lime Butter Compound.

  • One stick salted butter at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño or serrano chiles, seeds and membranes removed
  • 1 freshly squeezed lime juice (from a medium lime)
  • lime zest of two limes
  • 2 teaspoons tequila (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • a dash of  kosher salt.
    1. Place butter in a medium bowl and, using a rubber spatula, soften until it’s very spreadable. Add remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
    2. Place compound butter on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll into a log and twist the ends to seal. Place butter in the refrigerator to harden.

Season fish fillets with creole seasoning. Sear both sides of  fish in a light coating of olive oil but don’t over cook. Top fillets with butter compound and finish in oven. Place on top of risotto and garnish with a couple pieces of cilantro or lime peel and spoon the pan dripping on the fish.

grouper and risotto

Contributed By: Martin J. Allred



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Canon Releases Three New Cameras

Canon Releases a Trio of New Cameras: M6 Mirrorless, T7i, and 77D DSLRs|

Canon has managed to sneak in a last-minute surprise for this Valentine’s Day, with the announcement of a trio of cameras and an 18-55mm zoom that will pair perfectly with the new DSLRs. Leading the way is Canon’s latest mirrorless, the EOS M6; a more compact take on the M5 that forgoes the built-in EVF for a smaller, modular design. Alongside the M6 is a pair of APS-C DSLRs—the T7i and 77D—that have been sped up and refined over previous iterations. Finally, the EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is a compact, stylish, and versatile zoom that will grant excellent image quality without breaking your back or wallet.

Canon EOS M6 Mirrorless Camera

At its core, the mirrorless M6 delivers image quality and performance similar to the larger M5, due to both sharing a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel CMOS AF and the DIGIC 7 Image Processor, enabling sensitivities up to ISO 25600. The differences really come in terms of body design, where the M5 takes an SLR-like approach, and the M6 is a more traditional compact with no EVF. An optional 0.39″ 2.36m-dot OLED EVF-DC2 is available, giving users the option to decide whether it is needed for your particular shooting style. The M6 does step things up from your average camera with its 3.0″ tilting touchscreen, which allows for direct control over your focus and settings by intuitively tapping the screen.

Designed to provide plenty of speed, the M6 boasts a maximum continuous shooting rate of 7 fps, or up to 9 fps with AF lock. The body also sports five different dials for direct, tactile control over your settings. Along with all of this, the M6 supports 5-axis Combination IS with compatible lenses, as well as the ability to record Full HD video at up to 60p and accept external mics via a 3.5mm input jack. Additionally, it has built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth for transferring files to a smartphone, along with remote-control functions. This mirrorless camera will be available in black or silver, as well as in kits with a 15-45mm lens or with a 18-150mm lens.

Canon EOS 77D

Part of a brand-new series, though spiritually replacing the T6s, is the EOS 77D, a compact and lightweight DSLR with some notable high-end features. Beyond using the latest 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel CMOS AF and the DIGIC 7 Image Processor, the 77D uses a 45-point all cross-type AF system that ensures accuracy and speed with a variety of different subjects in various shooting conditions, including a top shooting speed of 6 fps. This model also features a top LCD screen that provides quick access to your essential shooting settings without needing to look at the screen or through the viewfinder, something extremely useful when shooting from the hip or when using a tripod.

Designed for advanced users who require many physical controls, the 77D features a rear control dial that can be locked to avoid accidental changes. It also has a vari-angle 3.0″ touchscreen LCD that provides intuitive and direct control over AF and image review. Full HD video recording has some nice capabilities, as well, including Movie Electronic IS, HDR Movie, and Time-Lapse Movie modes along with a 3.5mm mic jack. And, much like the M6, the 77D incorporates Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth. This camera will be available as a body only or as a kit with an 18-55mm lens or with an 18-135mm lens.

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

Sitting just below the 77D is the EOS Rebel T7i, which continues the legacy of the extremely popular and capable Rebel line. It sports many similarities to the 77D, including using the same sensor, processor, and AF systems. It can also reach 6 fps in continuous shooting and has a vari-angle 3.0″ touchscreen LCD, as well as Full HD video, a mic jack, and many of the same modes and features. Where the T7i separates itself is with a lighter, pared-down body that eliminates the top LCD and rear control dial. There are even modes and settings designed for those looking to learn photography or boost their picture-taking capabilities, including a Feature Assistant and Creative Filters for both sills and video. And, just like the previous models, it will have Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth built-in. The EOS Rebel T7i will be available as a body only or as a kit with an 18-55mm lens or with an 18-135mm lens.

There are a couple of other items being announced for Canon’s latest DSLRs, including a new redesigned kit EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens, which is more compact than previous offerings and comes equipped with a lead-screw-type STM AF motor, ensuring fast, silent AF for stills and video. Also, the Image Stabilizer can compensate for up to 4 stops of shutter speed. Also, a new BR-E1 Wireless Remote Control is designed for the two new DSLRs, and takes advantage of their Bluetooth connectivity for controlling the cameras’ basic settings and functions and for triggering the shutter wirelessly. And, it will support the PZ-E1 Power Zoom Adapter when used with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, for complete remote control of your camera system.

Reblogged from Canon USA

Contributed by: Martin Allred



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“Toasted” Best Bagels in Miami, maybe Florida

20170131_083707I’ve been on kinda a personal secret mission while traveling around the state of Florida.  A mission to find a decent bagel. That might sound a little strange coming from a guy that was raised in New Orleans, home to French Bread Po-Boys and Beignets.

Back in the late 80s I developed a strong appreciation to bagels during a short move to Chicago. I remember going to the local Jewel’s grocery store there and buying a handful of sesame seed covered bagels.  I would rush home to toast them and add a hefty helping of cream cheese and jam and pair with a nice cup of dark roast coffee. It was my  morning ritual and I loved it. The sesame bagels brought me back to New Orleans because they reminded me of the toasted sesame seeds one would find on a Po-Boy (French bread) served  in the various restaurants in New Orleans. Although, most of the New Orleans Po-Boy bread doesn’t even have sesame seeds. But, if you ever had a real New Orleans style Roast Beef with the toasted sesame seed Po-Boy bread, your taste buds would jump with delectation and there’s a good chance you may become addicted.

A few years later I landed a big assignment in Manhattan.The assignment turned out to be a very lucrative one and I enjoyed many other trips to the Big Apple as a result. It was there that I discovered the “Everything Bagel” with the works. A place called H&H bagels served up some of the best bagels in New York as they still do. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the sesame seed bagels, but the “Everything Bagel” just knocked my socks off with flavor. Wow! I was addicted.

Living in New Orleans and then in Colorado for many years I never lost that bagel addiction. However, one might as well forget trying to find a real Chicago or New York style bagel there. Most are just baked and not very good. The bagels there have little or few sesame seeds or anything else, especially on the bottom half.  Some are cake like and some taste just like regular baked bread shaped like a bagel with various toppings.  They just didn’t hold  “Watta”  to a real New York bagel.

I ended up moving to the Tampa-Sarasota area about two years ago from Colorado.  I figured since so many New Yorkers live in Florida there might be a good chance of finding a decent “Everything Bagel” right?  But to my surprise it didn’t happen. I’ve tried several places and just came up disappointed every time.


Front side of their Everything Bagel

I travel frequently  and the last couple of days I found myself down in Miami on another assignment. Located right next door to my assignment at the Brickell City Centre I noticed a huge number of locals popping in and out of this little bagel shop, so I just had to try the place.  My first impression,  Bingo! Jackpot! My bagel lottery hit!  The aromas, toppings and texture of the fresh bagels were as good as I can remember getting in New York. I was so excited to see and taste a real bagel for a change. I took a couple pictures posted both the front and back of their Everything bagel. Awesome!  Bada bing!

In my opinion, if you’re craving a real bagel packed with the toppings on both sides, you must check out  “Toasted Baglery and Deli” It’s on SW 8th Street in the Financial District.


Back side of their Everything Bagel

An excerpt from their web site:

The two Egyptian brothers Islam and Khaled moved to the US in 2001 and started working in bakeries throughout New York and New Jersey. Realizing their experience can help them bring their delicious bagels and deli to Miami they opened the exposed-brick-covered Toasted Bagelry & Deli in Brickell where they do things the old way with kosher malt, flour, conditioner, and filtered water producing pristine bagels.

Their web site:

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred

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Tampa, FL


Photo of Downtown Tampa, Florida. Taken from the W. Platt St. Bridge above The Hillsborough River..Credit: Martin Allred

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Sazerac, The Quintessential Cocktail

Many of us share recipes with friends and family while celebrating the holiday season. One quintessential cocktail recipe that I feel must be shared is the Sazerac Cocktail. It’s a stiff drink with a slight nose aroma of anise. Being originally from New Orleans,  I may be a little partial, but I do enjoy the cocktail often and I personally like it best made with Remy Martin 173820160904_163721 1738 Cognac,  Swiss made Kubler Absinthe and Peychaud Bitters.

The Sazerac is a  local favorite historic cocktail that originated around the mid 1800s in New Orleans.  000005353_cognac-1811-sazerac-de-forge-fils_750Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his New Orleans bar, The Merchants Exchange Coffee House, to become an importer of spirits, and he began to import a brand of Cognac named Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. Meanwhile, Aaron Bird assumed proprietorship of the Merchants Exchange and changed its name to Sazerac Coffee House. Legend has it that Bird began serving the “Sazerac Cocktail”, made with Sazerac Cognac imported by Taylor, and allegedly with bitters being made by the local apothecary, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. The Sazerac Coffee House subsequently changed hands several times, when around 1870, Thomas Handy became its proprietor. It is around this time that the primary ingredient changed from Cognac to rye whiskey, due to the  phylloxera epidemic in Europe that devastated the vineyards of France.  At some point before his death in 1889, Handy recorded the recipe for the cocktail, which made its first printed appearance in William T. “Cocktail Bill” Boothby’s The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them (1908), although his recipe calls for Selner Bitters, not Peychaud’s. After absinthe was banned in the US in 1912, it was replaced by various anise-flavored liqueurs, most notably the locally produced Herbsaint, which first appeared in 1934. Some also suggest that with  prohibition in the USA and the rareity of imported liquors may have contributed to Rye replacing the cognac. Rum could have also been substituted  since so much flowed through the port of New Orleans during prohibition  which gave birth to another New Orleans original, the “Hurricane Cocktail”  But, that’s another story.

The Sazerac Bar in New Orleans serves the cocktail made with American Rye whiskey. However, the drink is most traditionally made with a combination of Cognac, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar.

  • 3 oz  1738 Remy Martin Cognac
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup or agave syrup
  • substituted bitters to taste
  • absinthe
  • Lemon twist for garnish


  1. Chill an old-fashioned glass by filling it with ice and letting it sit while preparing the rest of the drink.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the simple syrup and Peychaud bitters together.
  3. Add the cognac and ice to the bitters mixture and stir.
  4. Discard the ice in the chilled glass and rinse it with absinthe by pouring a small amount into the glass, swirling it around and discarding the liquid.
  5. Strain the cognac mixture from the mixing glass into the old fashioned glass.
  6. Garnish with a lemon twist. Traditionalists will say that the lemon twist should be squeezed over the drink to release its essences but that the twist should not be dropped into the glass itself.
  • I would recommend going to the Sazerac Bar in New Orleans and let a pro show you the ropes.

Contributed by:  Martin Allred

Patrica looking over the drink menu at the Historic Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel during our trip to New Orleans this year.


Enjoying a Sazerac….



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Mirrorless Cameras Wave of the Future

6a00df351e888f883401a3fcf148e2970b-800wiIn our October article I wrote about the release of Canon’s new flagship  Mirrorless Camera. I also mentioned that I feel the “Mirrorless Camera” technology will eventually replace the DSLR camera.

This month Steve Burton wrote about switching to a “Mirrorless Camera” as a Nikon Pro Photojournalist. Steve is  a London-based professional photographer who specializes in photojournalism and event photography.

His article is very informative and gives professional photographers some valuable tips that could be helpful on future assignments.

My Journey in Switching to Mirrorless as a Photojournalist

It started with a phone call from the picture editor of one of UK’s best-selling newspapers asking me to catch a flight that evening to Amsterdam to accompany a journalist for a story first thing the next morning.

I was warned to be very discrete, as the story could be very sensitive to some people. It involved a Dutch trawler that was registered in the UK under a flag of convenience that enabled it to use up 25% of the UK fishing quota by just one “industrialized” super trawler. The owners may not have liked the presence of English journalists, hence the need for discretion.

I had recently started using the Fuji X mirrorless system, starting with the X-Pro 1, which I purchased on one of Fuji’s brilliant deals, which came with 2 free lenses, which got me hooked with an X-T1 and more lenses soon following.

I made a decision to only take only the Fuji kit in a small camera bag with 2 bodies and 5 lenses, from the 10-24mm to the 55-200mm for the longer shots.

This was a momentous decision for me as since the professional adoption of digital in about 1999 I had never left the country with anything less than 2 Nikon DSLRs and at least 3 pro range zooms and a Macbook pro along with flashguns and chargers etc. Even on family holidays all this kit came with me.

Checking in for the flight was a delight with no breaking kit down in overcoat pockets and risking other equipment in the hold. All the cameras and lenses came with me in the overhead baggage lockers.

On arrival at the docks, we found the ship easily and I set about taking photographs with the X-T1 and 18-55 “kit” lens — I really don’t know why it’s referred as a kit lens as it’s a brilliant high quality standalone lens.

I was lucky with the light but I still couldn’t believe the quality of the pictures I was seeing on the rear LCD screen. I quickly downloaded the pictures to an iPad and was amazed at how good they looked

A few minutes later, I had a phone call from the picture editor saying “what great pictures” I had shot, but “where did you get them?” When I told her I had taken them about an hour ago, she was staggered and was of the belief they had been given to us from a marketing or communications agency. Such was the quality of the picture it could have come from an annual report cover.

From then on the Fujis went everywhere, including trips to Kuwait, Nicaragua and the military coup in Turkey, all with no advance notice at all. The Fuji kit remains packed in one bag and ready to go at the drop of a hat.

All the kit worked without fault, enabling me to get around lightly and quickly without drawing attention to myself. People don’t feel intimidated by the Fuji cameras the way they do when they look at a DSLR. I’ve photographed politicians during interviews and they don’t notice the almost silent shutter and are much more relaxed.

There were still a few doubts though as to whether I was going to be 100% Fuji for my editorial work. I found myself in the cities of Paris and Brussels unfortunately for the wrong reasons: covering terrorist atrocities. This is a situation in which the Fuji system should come into its own, enabling me to move around quickly. But the problem I had was the very real fear that another atrocity could occur whilst I was there and I would need a long and preferably fast lens to cover a live breaking news story.

The longest lens I could use was the Fuji 50-140mm with the 1.4X converter which would give me the full frame equivalent of almost 300mm f/4.

I really needed my 500mm f/4 Nikon and 1.4X converter just for peace of mind. So the 500mm f/4 came with me (along with a full frame DSLR body and a charger). Then you worry, “what about a spare body?” In the end, I just took the whole Nikon outfit. I had chosen to drive to these cities from London rather than fly, so expensive cameras in the aircraft hold wasn’t an issue.

Some time after that trip, along came the Fuji 100-400mm and the first time I picked it up in a trade show, I knew I had to have it. Here was a lens that gave me 600mm f/5.6 performance in a lens not much physically bigger or heavier than an 80-200mm f/2.8. Shooting some test pictures in a fairly gloomy convention hall, I was staggered by the quality of the images taken handheld in not ideal circumstances but the sort of real world everyday situation a photojournalist can find themselves.

The image stabilization is second to none and I was able to take good quality photographs that any photography book or course will tell you isn’t possible at the sort of shutter speeds I was using — a 30th sec or longer. You are more concerned with movement of the subject rather than camera shake. This lens throws away the rule books.

I was so impressed I pre-ordered one on the spot before they even had an availability date.

Another piece of the photographic puzzle had been put into place for me.

During this past year something else happened, I started going out to shoot personal pictures purely for my own pleasure — something I hadn’t done for quite some time. I even started experimenting with black-and-white and long-exposures. The enjoyment I was having might never have happened lugging a DSLR and lenses around.

There was still one very important piece of the jigsaw missing for me: the absence of a professional grade flash for use on the hot shoe. I’m not a fan of on-camera flash, believing that should be used for court defendants, disgraced politicians, late night car crashes and general press scrums. I was mainly using available light or Elinchrom Ranger studio lights or perhaps the small Nissin I40, which whilst very compact lacks the power and fast recycling of a pro flashgun with an external battery pack such as a Quantum Turbo.

This meant the Nikon DSLRs were still needed if I thought I would need flash on a news job. Then Fujifilm started shipping the EF-X500 flashgun which had been announced months before. It had been delayed by months but they obviously wanted to get it perfect as a premium product.

I’m pleased to say the wait was worthwhile and it works straight out of the box, performing flawlessly. I managed to mislay the manual in the box but that was no hindrance to having it working without drama, including high-speed sync to 8000th of a second without special triggers or setup. This was the first time I’ve ever used high-speed sync, and it’s just perfect for fill flash with those fast prime lenses used at wide apertures.

The future is looking very bright for the Fujifilm system, especially with the company’s frequent firmware upgrades under their Kaizen philosophy, which literally means “change good”. When new firmware is released, it’s like getting a new updated camera model. It seems that for some manufactures, when they develop new firmware, they just release a new camera with an “S” in the name or a different model number. I love opening those new boxes with the fancy packing reminiscent of Apple products, but getting a “new” camera through a 5-minute upgrade performed at home is much better still.

Development of the Fujifilm cameras, and indeed all mirrorless systems, will continue at an increasing pace. The cameras have improved in design rapidly for such a young technology compared with traditional DSLRs. If you take the lens off a 1960 Nikon F and a brand new D5 and peer inside, there’s a lot that hasn’t changed. There’s better engineering and exotic metals, but there’s still that great big mirror flapping noisily up and down.

The camera chips and imaging processors will improve with vastly improved focusing and ISO range. I don’t believe we need more mega pixels in the X series especially with the 51MP “medium format” GFX 50S due for delivery in early 2017. Global electronic shutters are in development, which will do away with “rolling shutter” effects, especially with moving subjects. Flash sync should be available at any shutter speed with even low power flash. 32000s wide open in bright sunshine with full lighting control, anybody? This is why the GFX lenses have no leaf shutters — they are about to become obsolete.

A wish list for the future? I’m reliably informed there are advanced plans for a “pro” backup service for fast repairs and loan equipment for professional users. They already have a range of professional dealers who are not only knowledgeable but enthusiastic about the X system.

A fast telephoto such as a 200mm f/2 or a 300mm f/2.8 would be very useful, especially with the new sensors in the future. Another necessity is the ability to send pics direct to an FTP server via Wi-Fi for both the newspaper wire services and the corporate event and conference photography, which I’m involved in.

The arrival of the EF-X500 flash was the final piece in the puzzle that enabled me to rely on my Fuji system for all my editorial needs. A remarkable journey in a relatively short period of time, considering I’ve been shooting digital professionally for 18 years now.

Rebogged: Steve Burton

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred


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Canon’s New Flagship Mirrorless Camera EOS-M5

EOS M5 wEF 50mm f1.4 USM FSL_tcm13-1475083.jpg

Canon unveiled their newest flagship mirrorless camera in London last month. The Mirrorless EOS-M5,

This camera is bundled with all the buttons and whistles professional photographers love and demand, with the added bonus of less weight.  The camera is also slightly smaller than the much more cumbersome professional Canon DSLRs on the market . Personally, I think the mirrorless technology will eventually make the DSLR cameras obsolete. Just think about that for a moment.  Will the term “mirrorless” eventually go the same way as the horseless carriage did?  Although this technology has been around for several years, I think it will change the way cameras will be manufactured in the future. After all, as a professional why would I want to carry around all that extra weight when I can get the functions I need and use frequently in a smaller camera?

The first EOS camera to include Canon’s DIGIC 7 processor, it’s packed with the very best imaging technology, including a 24.2 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF for sharp, precise photos and dynamic, cinematic movies. The perfect compact companion for high-end photographers, or an alternative to mid-level DSLR cameras, the EOS M5 is a landmark in Canon’s mirrorless range.

When combined with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, spontaneous moments can be frozen thanks to DSLR-level AF speeds and accuracy, while sophisticated recognition and subject tracking of DIGIC 7 helps the camera lock onto subjects for longer and more precisely in both movies and stills. With improved clarity and performance, whether you’re on a family holiday or a professional shoot in pursuit of that stand out shot, DIGIC 7 offers the best photography experience.

Bright moments, from summer days to backlit subjects, can be shot with ease using the 24.2 Megapixel sensor, which includes gapless micro lenses to maximise the sensor area, increasing pixel light sensitivity while making the camera less susceptible to digital noise. The sensor – which includes similar technologies to the esteemed EOS 80D – also improves dynamic range and editing latitude for beautiful shades and contrasts. For situations where shallow depth of field is a must, like portrait photography or moments of creative expression, the EOS M5’s large APS-C sensor makes the effect stand-out and easy to achieve. Whether it is manipulating light or simply shooting in unusual conditions, with the ability to select ISO up to a massive 25,600 with no expansion needed, the EOS M5 is the camera to be carrying for unique, well composed photographs.

While you can make the settings work for you, you can’t always control your subject. From an animal on the move to a moment of sporting brilliance, the EOS M5 comes to life in just one second, and can continually shoot at 7 fps, or 9 fps with fixed AF. For Full HD 60p movies that stay steady even when you don’t, the camera’s five axis-stabilisation keeps frames still even when using non-IS lenses, enhanced even further when using a lens equipped with Dynamic IS.

Designed to be yours
The EOS M5 was created from the inside out, to work for you. The in-built, large electronic viewfinder is centrally placed, for DSLR–like handling, as well as high resolution and fast 120 fps refresh rate for maximum comfort. When using the viewfinder, the LCD touch screen – your portal to every setting – can be turned into a touch pad, letting you use your thumb to change the AF point or zone, mimicking the Multi-controller ‘joy stick’ function of a DSLR. For full control, the premium finish body has several customisable external buttons, including a new thumb operated dial for easy exposure control. For true versatility, the EOS M5 can be used with over 80 EF lenses using the Mount Adapter EF-EOS M with no loss in performance or quality.

Get connected, stay connected
Alongside Wi-Fi and NFC, the EOS M5 offers Bluetooth® connectivity¹ – which creates a constant connection between your smartphone and camera. From there you can view and transfer images without taking the camera out of your bag, as it automatically shifts to Wi-Fi when needed. The feature can also be used to turn your smartphone into a simple, low power remote control for prolonged remote shooting or capturing scenes that require a fast shutter release, such as wildlife shoots.

Key Features of the Canon EOS M5 Camera Include:

  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100–25600.
  • Fast and smooth Dual Pixel CMOS AF helps you capture stills and shoot video with quick and precise autofocus.
  • High-speed continuous shooting at up to 7.0 fps (up to 9.0 fps with AF Lock) and new DIGIC 7 Image Processor with improved AF tracking performance.
  • Full HD 60p helps capture fast-moving subjects and brilliant results in MP4 format.
  • Digital IS with 5-axis image stabilizationivwhen shooting movies plus increased image stabilization with both lens optical IS and in-camera digital IS when shooting with an IS lens.
  • Built-in high-resolution EVF (approx. 2,360,000 dots) with new Touch and Drag AF lets you manually move the AF frame displayed for more precise focusing in different shooting situations.
  • Intuitive touch screen 3.2 tilt-type (85° up/180° down) LCD monitor (approx. 1,620,000 dots) enables flexible positioning and clear viewing.
  • Easily customize functions while shooting using the Main Dial, Quick Control Dial, Dial Function Button and Exposure Compensation Dial.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi®v and NFCvi allows for easy sharing and transferring of images and videos.
  • Equipped with Bluetooth®iii Smart for smooth pairing with a compatible smartphone by powering on both devices for easy photo sharing and remote control possibilities.
  • Shorter camera startup timevii and interval time between each image capture for a more efficient shooting experience.
  • Compatible with EF-M lenses as well as the full line of EFviii and EF-Sviii lenses and Speedlites for expanded creativity.

See Canon’s press release here:

Contributed by: Martin Allred



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Canon EOS 6D Tips and Tricks


Contributed by:  Martin Allred

EOS 6D: WiFi and image size

Sending images over WiFi is not usually that quick. As such, even though the files are only JPEGs, it is best to keep them to a small file size to make transfer as efficient as possible. Previously, the advice for sending images over WiFi was to select a small JEPG file in the file size options. However, with the EOS 6D, it is possible to resize images in the WiFi transfer settings menu. This way you can shoot in RAW and Large JPEG if you need to, but then resize the images you wish to send, in-camera, so they transfer faster.


Source: Canon Professional Services



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Iconic Elephants Retire in Florida

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred      

Marking the end of an era, the “Greatest Show on Earth” concluded with the “Last Show on Earth”  in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants. The last 11 circus owned elephants just arrived from their final east coast performance and were greeted with a buffet fit for elephant. (I had to throw that in) Their new home is a 200 acre sanctuary in Polk City, Florida.

Feld Entertainment located in Palmetto, Florida owns the circus and has faced growing criticism and constant badgering by animal rights activists and many new local laws were restricting their animal performances.

The elephants performed for 145 years and were considered one of the main attractions for the circus. Many feel it’s only fitting that the circus now take care of the herd since the company prospered greatly with their performances.

The elephant sanctuary is located just a few miles from Disney World between Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Now with a total of 39 elephants, the Florida sanctuary has the largest population of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere. 

The cost of taking care of just one elephant is over $55,000 per year. That will cost the owners over 2 million dollars annually to care for the large herd.

According to the sanctuary officials, the facilities are sensitive to the environment and utilize good drainage and water-saving devices. No trees were felled and no wetlands disturbed to build the sanctuary. The unspoiled site is also home to egrets, raccoons, snakes, turkeys, and many other native species. The Center for Elephant Conservation  meets or exceeds all environmental requirements and regulations for housing elephants.

banner-meet-our-herd.jpgThere are five outside paddock areas, all of which include structures to provide shade and constant access to drinking water. With an intricate system of 37 gates and walkways, each paddock can be accessed from any other one without animals having to exit secured areas.

There are four main animal buildings: a 17,000-square-foot main barn with birthing facilities monitored with 24-hour-a-day audio and video monitoring systems and an automated animal waste removal system (the building also contains an elevated office/lab/observation room, a feed storage room, and two workshop areas); two 3,100-square-foot male elephant barns; and a 4,900-square-foot double male elephant barn.

The elephant Toby below.


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