It's been awhile since I've posted a "5 Favorites..." blog entry. So, here we go...these are my five favorite from the Summer of 2016, all taken with my newly acquired Fuji film X-Pro2. As for the camera itself...
Only three days in any major city is not enough - but that's especially true for Tokyo. This city has always been on my "bucket list" so I was fortunate that circumstances brought me here, if only for a short time. I limited my gear to my Fuji X-T1 and probably my favorite lens,the excellent Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R, which is perfect for travel. Tokyo is such an interesting place, it's almost overwhelming - there was always something interesting to catch my eye. The X-T1, as always, proved to be a worthy camera in some challenging conditions. I will always remember Tokyo as the city I first used my Pano mode! Lol. Here are some of my favorite shots.
To be honest, I'm not really qualified to give any kind of super technical review of any equipment, especially a lens. There are lots of articles online discussing the important technical aspects of this lens -- and each article that I've found has been decidedly positive. Indeed, the lens is very high quality and feels every bit worthy of its high price tag. It's heavy, in a good way, with all metal parts and an overall premium feel. It feels good and substantial in the hand. I wouldn't want to walk around with this all day, however. But the idea that it somehow doesn't "fit" the philosophy of a compact mirror-less system is silly -- the equivalent lens on DSLR is much heavier. So, it's still compact by relative standards.
To be perfectly honest, I've never been a big fan of any kind of zoom lens, strongly preferring primes instead. But I wanted this lens for some particular purposes that could not be accomplished by my current crop of primes. I needed to get closer to my kids! I needed the extra reach when shooting my girls during their various activities including sports, musical theater, etc. I figured it would be great for candids, too. Yes, I purchased the lens primarily for documenting the most important thing in the world: my two girls.
After a month with the lens, it's performed beyond expectations both in terms of it's intended purpose (kids!) and also for some unexpected other uses, as described below. I thought the 56mm f1.2 was the sharpest, highest quality lens in the Fuji line-up, but this has surpassed it -- and that's especially impressive given that it's a zoom. Overall, if you are thinking about this lens my advice is "go for it." Yes, it's expensive. But, it's still a great value given the positives. Here are some examples:
While the primary motivation for purchasing the lens was to get closer to the kiddos, I decided to challenge myself by photographing a subject that I love, The Walt Disney Concert Hall. Normally, I'd shoot this subject with a more "traditional" focal length, e.g., the very excellent 23mm f1.4. But, I thought I'd try with the 50-140mm which I knew would give me some great DOF and subject compression, which I thought could be kind of interesting.
Below is a gallery of some of my favorite shots of the beautiful WDCH while exploring DOF and subject compression:
Finally, some images to show the bokeh of the lens.
I’m not a big vacation/travel photography type of person. Despite my policy on photographing less, and enjoying more, I did (of course) bring a camera to my recent 10-day London and Paris holiday. I travel with a “less is more” approach, and that extends to my camera gear. So, I packed my new Fujifilm X-T1 along with just two lenses: 23mm 1.4 and 18-55 zoom. The X-T1 proved excellent, with just a few possible exceptions (more on that below).
For those of you that know my photography, you know I don’t take a lot of pictures of people. But, I do take personal images, especially of my beautiful older daughter. Before I sold-off my Canon gear, my “go to” portrait lenses were the 85L or even the 135L. Those were amazing lenses, especially on a full frame 5D. But, shooting with them was not an intimate experience – I felt detached from my subject, not part of the action. I was far away using a big, intimidating tool.
One of the things I love about the X-Pro1 is that it’s small, unobtrusive, and non-intimidating. When used with the amazing 35 1.4, it lets me get close to my daughter and be more spontaneous with the images I make. And, that’s why I like using the Optical Viewfinder (OVF) so much. It keeps me close and lets me frame images in a more natural way. I can see not only what’s in the frame, but what’s not in the frame - I feel part of what's happening. I see my daughter with my own eyes – not through an electronic interpretation of her. It’s not artificial. It feels intimate and real. The OVF is definitely more difficult to use when it comes to nailing the focus point, particularly when I shoot wide open. But, it didn’t take long before I became comfortable with the process. For me, the OVF is the only reason for me to stick with the X-Pro1.
I always shoot in RAW. The below images are processed in Lightroom, adjusted for Exposure, then finished with Alien Skin’s Exposure or Rad’s Software’s Replichrome.
I recently returned from Maui where I tried to branch out a bit from my usual photography style. I brought along a great travel tripod from MeFoto, my trusty Fuji X-Pro1 with 60mm, 35mm, and 18mm lenses, and a relatively inexpensive cable release. I also brought a 10-stop ND filter. I took shots during sunset, dusk, and moonlight.
To help with exposure, I downloaded a great iPhone app called LongTime (just search for it) that helps calculate the proper exposure considering an ND filter - the way it works is that you (1) choose the filter being used; (2) choose the metered exposure without the attached filter; then (3) the app tells you what the exposure time will be with the filter attached.
So, for example, if you meter a scene without the filter that shows 1/15 shutter speed, you just tell the app you are using a 10-stop ND filter, dial-in 1/15 and it tells you that the shutter speed for a proper exposure with the 10-stop filter is 1m. Pretty slick.
For sure, the most difficult part of the photography sessions was dealing with all the sand on the beach while adjusting tripod, changing lenses (wish I had the 18-55 zoom), and taking the ND filter on and off. Add to this the fact that I really don't know much about proper landscape composition, along with vacationers walking in front of your camera without a clue...well, it was challenging.
These images were captured RAW, then processed in Lightroom 5, adjusted for exposure and noise reduction (I don't think I did a good job with noise), then processed with Alien Skin's Exposure which simulates film - including grain, which I thought was okay given the noise of the files.
I also lost my cable release during the trip - so most shots were ultimately 30 second exposures using the "T" mode on the X-Pro1. A few were done using "B" mode and the cable release.
Okay, so these last two are not long exposures...I just like them.
Ladies and Gentleman, we are currently #25 for takeoff, so we will be here for a while,” said the pilot. These were all “snapshots” taken while slowly making our way to #1 for takeoff. It turned out not to be too long a wait, but the pilot was nice enough to turn off the "no personal electronics" sign. So, I reached for my handy Fuji X-Pro1 with 60mm lens, and took some shots. Kind of fun.
I'm starting a collection of "Outtakes." These are images that I like, but don't seem to fit an existing portfolio. I don't want them to go unnoticed, though. Fuji X-pro1.
Hi, All. I've been playing around with some new images (taken with Fuji X-Pro1 + 35mm, which is always on me). I think they belong together. I'm calling the series "quite." Let me know what you think...somewhat a departure from my normal stuff, but I kind of like. It's really an exploration of negative space. Stay tuned for more.
Time to update my on-going series...these images were all taken recently using the Fuji X-Pro 1.
Where I live in Southern California ("The Valley") it's rare that we get really thick fog this far inland...it's even more rare that we get really thick fog this far inland, and I'm not too lazy to wake-up and photograph. So, it was a rare occasion indeed last weekend that I got a chance to capture some images at the park around the corner...All images are taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 with 35mm lens.
It was a fantastic month of photography, including some travel to New York. It's a joy to travel with my Fuji X-Pro1 and all three primes. To carry the gear, I recently purchased a great new backpack from a fantastic company, Mission Workshop - if you are looking for a stylish, functional backpack, you won't do better. This month, I also re-visited several of my favorite subjects looking for better angles and new compositions. As always, comments and questions welcomed.
Below are five (5) favorites from the past month - they are personal favorites, including a couple of portraits. Each was captured with the wonderful Fujifilm X-Pro1. I've included a few words about each image. The portability of the Fuji system allows me to carry all three primes with me a lot of the time, and the below shots show images with each: 60mm, 35mm, and 18mm. Comments, discussion, questions strongly encouraged!
I recently had about 12 hours in New York City. Rather than walk around Manhattan, like I usually do, I decided to venture to an area I've never been before - just over the Manhattan Bridge to an area known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It's a cool "urban" area with a little more personal space than I'm used to in Manhattan. Next time, I will plan my adventure later in the day for better light, but I just didn't have that luxury this time. I was armed with my new Love, my Fuji X-Pro1 with all three lenses. No way would I have lugged my 5DII with more than one lens. But, the Fuji allowed me to carry the whole kit in relative comfort. And, I actually used all three lenses. Here are some of my favorite shots (including a couple from the airport, by the way). If you are interested in any technical detail on the shots, just post a comment or send me an email (sometimes, comment feature doesn't work with certain browsers...not sure why!).
Thanks for all the positive feedback on my recent photo series from Brooklyn, NY (DUMBO area). I’ve been asked about prints for sale. In response, I’m going to try something a little different: a 10-pack of of postcard-sized prints from the series, printed, trimmed, and signed by me. $25+$5 shipping. Just pay via the PayPal link here. Or, just email/message me.
I'm not an "equipment" guy so much - I like to have good gear, but I'm not obsessed with always having the "latest and greatest." Usually, when I do buy a new camera or lens, the purpose is less about filling a specific need, but rather it's a way to generate some "creative inertia." Sometimes, just having a new camera or lens makes me want to do more photography. For the past several years, I've used exclusively a Canon 5DII and 3 prime lenses. But, I found myself less and less interested in shooting with it. The Canon is big, heavy, and conspicuous. It's not a "fun" camera. It's a great camera, but it doesn't make me want to pick it up. It's functional, but not emotional.
As such, I found myself photographing less and less. I found myself often without my camera, and my "eye" was not being exercised. So, I needed a change. Enter the Fujifilm X-Pro1. I was interested in this camera right from the first announcement. It has helped me produce some of my favorite images in the past year, and more importantly, it has re-sparked my creative side and love of photography, primarily because: it's small; fun to use; allows me to see "out of the box" (literally, via the OVF); produces amazing quality (at least on par with my 5DII); and is beautiful - a joy to look at and hold (and accessorize - case, strap, etc.). Yes, it has quirks that make it a challenge sometime (AF, parralax error), but the quirks challenge me as photographer, in a good way. It's like a fantastic sports car that's a little hard to drive - learn how to do so, and the rewards are fantastic.
Here are images I recently made with the X-Pro1, and a quick story behind them. Please let me know (comment function below and/or email) if these types of "blog" posts are of interest, and I'll do more "behind the picture" type entries. Same goes if you have any questions.):
This image was taken with the X-Pro1 + 35mm lens. Exposure was 1/50s at f/2.2, ISO 1000. I shot in Aperture priority mode. Processed in Lightroom. I wish I had more time to work this subject, but there were too many cars driving around! This is one of favorite images in a while - it conveys a sense of emptiness, but also the a common theme of many of my images - the effects of human beings on the environment. This parking structure, in Downtown Los Angeles, is one I visit at least once a week, and is a constant source of images. (Note to self: is there a new project here? Perhaps a "portrait" of a parking structure...why do parking structures fascinate me so much?). This image is nice complement to this image, as well.
This image was taken with the X-Pro1 + 18mm lens. Exposure was 1/30s at f/6.4, ISO 1600. I shot in Aperture priority mode. Processed in Lightroom. This is not the first time I've been to this location (it's at a mall very close to me). But, the wall was recently painted white, and a phone booth was removed that used to be right next to that bike rack. So, it was time to re-visit the scene. What maks the image for me are the strong primary colors of red, yellow, and black, along with the juxstaposition of the horizontal lines and the shape of the bike rack. As with many of my images, there's no people, but sings of human presence.
This image was taken with the X-Pro1 + 35mm lens. It was the first image I took in which I "discovered" a little trick with the X-Pro1 - quickly switching between OVF and EVF, which helps me understand and accommodate for parallax error. I don't have exposure settings for this one. This is an image I would never have captured without my X-Pro1. Why? Because "the best camera is the one you have with you" and the X-Pro1 is a camera I take with me everyone thanks to its size. This is near the Metro stop in North Hollywood. I loved the quirky position of the tree to the right. I also was struck by the colors (green, blue, yellow). But, most of all, it was just beautiful light. This image reflects my mood at the time - happy and bright (which is most often not the case). I just like it.
Here's another image of the parking structure I use in Downtown, Los Angeles - I really do think there's a project here with this structure, stay tuned. Another case of just always having my X-Pro1 with me. The dynamic range of the RAW files is really impressive, and the metering is outstanding. The file took less processing in Lightoom than a similar photo taken with my 5DII. Taken with 18mm, I have no other EXIF information (a result of processing in Silkypix before Lightroom support was available). This image combines, once again, strong colors with a stark composition that accurately reflects my mood at the time - lonely. I also like the texture of the pavement from the water. I could have stayed up on this roof top photographing all day.
Okay, I don't *only* take pictures of urban scenes. I love photographing my family, especially my older daughter Gretha (who loves be photographed...at least now she does). This was an image taken only a few days after I had my X-Pro1, and all I wanted to do was shoot. I said, "Gretha, go out on the balcony" and just fired off a couple of shots (we were on vacation in Maui). This was with the 35mm at f/1.4. Processed in Lightroom, where I cooled down the WB just a bit. Yes, my 5DII could have probably captured this image just fine, but the only reason I have this image was because I just couldn't put down the X-Pro1 - it's a camera that just makes you want to shoot. Some of my favorite shots with the X-Pro1 are of my girls. If you ware interested in more, let me know (email or post a comment on this blog entry). Perhaps my next set of "5 I love" will be all portraits.