Tuesday, March 10, 2015

PHOTOGRAPHING THE KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL


Bourbon barrels aging at Woodford Reserve. 1/15 @ f2.0, ISO 400.
Two weeks ago on my way to photograph the Great Smoky Mountains, I decided to spend a few days traveling the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. What? Yes, there is such a thing as a bourbon trail. In 1999, the Kentucky Distillers' Association formed the bourbon trail to educate visitors about the rich history and traditions of bourbon, which in 1964 Congress declared a "distinctive product of the United States."

Okay, so now that we've determined that there is such a thing as the bourbon trail, what does it have to do with photography? And that's a fair question. Although I often enjoy a glass of bourbon following a day of shooting or while editing my photographs, it was really a decision to document my journey along the trail via social media which brings us closer to a photography theme. Like many of my trips I choose to shoot all the photos with my Fujifilm X100S 16.3 Megapixel Mirrorless Camera*, only this time, I used a 16 GB Eyefi Mobi SDHC Card** paired via WiFi to my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. Now I had a blog post.

So while you enjoy a few photos of my trip, this really is a blog post about using the Eyefi Mobi with the goal of posting one Instagram photo and a Tweet following each of the nine stops along the bourbon trail. Besides, can you think of a better way to test this setup?

Early morning light at the Brown-Forman distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. I always seem to be drawn to oversize versions of everyday items. 1/640 @ f5.6, ISO 200.
Early morning light at the Brown-Forman distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. I always seem to be drawn to oversized versions of everyday items. 1/640 @ f5.6, ISO 200.
Before I go any further, you might be wondering if my goal was to simply share photos on Instagram and Twitter, why didn't I just take the photos with my cell phone, which after all is capable of taking decent quality images. Yes, it is true that I could have just used my phone, but as a photographer who has a camera with me all the time, why sacrifice quality and future use of the photos beyond the immediacy of social. The best camera is still a camera.

What is the Eyefi Mobi and does it make sense for you?

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

From their website:
Add instant photo transfer to the camera you own. Eyefi Mobi sends pictures from your DSLR or point and shoot camera to your phone, tablet or desktop as soon as you take them so you can kiss the cords goodbye.
Sounds pretty simple and it is. Download and launch the Eyefi App, enter the 10-digit activation code located on the device, put the card in the camera and shoot a few jpeg images, then watch as they appear on your device. It really is that easy. I have the App running on both an Android phone and iPad 2 tablet.

All the ingredients to make bourbon are in these tank at the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. 1/70 @ f5.6, ISO 200.
All the ingredients to make bourbon are in these tanks at the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. 1/70 @ f5.6, ISO 200.
Advantages:

Provides instant backup. It's nice to have an instant backup of your images without even having to think about it. As always with my Fuji, I have it configured to shoot jpeg+raw, so as the jpegs are backed up instantly and ready to share, I simply download the raw files (and jpegs) to my hard drive at the end of each day.

High quality images ready to share. I can't emphasize enough how nice it is to not have to compromise quality just because you want to share your work over the internet quickly. I retain all the advantages of my Fujifilm X100S camera, including the ability to capture raw photos, while still being able to share almost instantly. You do have to leave your camera on.

Open fermentation tanks at the Woodford Reserve distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. 1/320 @ f2.0, ISO 800.
Open fermentation tanks at the Woodford Reserve distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. 1/320 @ f2.0, ISO 800.

Disadvantages:

Only transfers jpegs. Not a big deal if you are using this as I do, transferring to a phone or tablet for quick sharing to social media. However if you using this as the only means of transferring photos from you camera to computer, it could be a problem.

Camera battery drain. The biggest issue I have experienced when using the Eyefi is that my camera battery drains about twice as fast. Also, as the battery level gets low, photos will stop transferring. You will need a second battery for your camera.

Take note of the shutters at the Makers Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. 1/420 @ f8, ISO 400.
Take note of the shutters at the Makers Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. 1/420 @ f8, ISO 400.
Conclusion:

Even though once in a while I noticed that the WiFi connection had dropped and photos didn't transfer, it was very rare and easily remedied by turning the camera on and off or reconnecting the WiFi through the phone settings. Actually, the biggest problem was getting a decent phone signal in some of the remote Kentucky locations.

While this isn't my everyday SD card, it does serve a real purpose and combined with low cost and ease of use, should be an easy decision to make the purchase.

For those that may be wondering, my Tweets along the trail have been some of my most favorited and retweeted posts since I joined Twitter in 2008. And I have the high-resolution images to prove it.

The bottling line at Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky. None of the distilleries I visited put any restrictions on still photography, although a few requested no video be recorded. 1/25 @ f5.6, ISO 800.
The bottling line at Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky. None of the distilleries I visited placed any restrictions on still photography, although a few requested no video be recorded. 1/25 @ f5.6, ISO 800.

The Fujifilm X100S is becoming harder to get and has been replaced by the Fujifilm X100T which I have not had the chance to try. The Fujifilm X-T1 has built-in WiFi.

** The list of cameras that this device works with is long, however, you should still check for camera compatibility on their site.
Post a Comment