Feb 17, 2017

The Loon is on the Move

Welcome to Feb, the month when I like to think too much and experiment with shit cause it's that time of year where I'm stuck in the house.

After playing with Wordpress on and off for the past year I have made the decision to move my blog over to that interface.   I have no intention of removing these old posts so they will remain active.   I have also transferred all these posts over to the new blog, which in my eyes looks way more professional then here on blogspot.   

The Canadian Loon's also has a new domain and a new home so please join me and follow the new site:    

Feb 16, 2017

Playing with Film Simulations

Still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the X100F but as I'm sure many can contest to, when your waiting for something to land in your hands you continue to research and go back and forth as to if that is the product you actually want vs what you really need :-)

One of the main reasons I have been looking at the X100F is for some of the new film simulation modes that I can't get on the X100S.  Primarily classic chrome and arcos.  My X-T1 can give me the classic chrome but that camera is a bigger piece of equipment and it doesn't travel with me as much as my X100S.

We're in the deep of winter here in Ontario and it's tough to get motivated to buddle up and go out shooting.  Unfortunately we have also had a death in the family so we're in that middle area waiting for the funeral so I'm home for my partner to support her and it's really not a good time to bail out on my own to take pictures.

A few weeks ago, I ran across this photographer - https://www.instagram.com/joshkjack/  (I hope he doesn't mind me linking without his permission) and I was blown away.   The results that I have been envisioning in my head.   And note his camera - the older X-Pro1 and the 56mm lens.  Not what I expected for street photography (most use 23mm or 35mm) and definitely not the camera for film simulations.   I'm not sure what he's using for his processing but the results are impressive and amazing looking film quality.   That got me looking deeper into Lightroom and presets.   I limit my time in processing so I really haven't spent much time digging into much beyond the basic settings.   In the old days (go way back on this blog) in my DSLR days I was a processing idiot.  Way too heavy handed, way too much contrast and colour, way too much HDR etc etc....   I would shoot for 1 hour and spend 10 hours processing.   When I moved to the Fuji my processing is 1 minute per posting picture at most.  I am damn near "straight out of camera".  All is do is level the image if needed, bump the black, pull up the shadows, export.  

This led me to a few "free" lightroom presets http://www.thephotoargus.com/230-free-lightroom-presets-will-love/  and I pulled a couple that looked interesting to me.  I dug back into my extensive pile of photos that hadn't been published or ones that were published but wanted to gave them a new look.   At most I spent 2 minutes per photo.  I can live with that.   I got some results that I liked and others that I didn't.   But it does show that you really don't need to buy a new camera to get film like results (or anything else that your looking for).  

Does this persuade me to not buy the X100F?  No, I have disposable income and can afford it and the less time I spend in front of Lightroom, the better for me.   But anyone who thinks a new camera is going to make you a better photographer - forget it.  It will give you better looking images but it doesn't make the image itself better.  A turd is always turd, you can't make a bad shot good.  You can make the turd have more contrast and colour but it still doesn't make it a good image.   Spend your time on taking the pictures and later you can play with simulations and new gear like me :-)  (sorry ranting and off topic - haha)

Some of my new "film" pictures;

After I took this back in Nov, I tried everything to get this image right in my mind, I knew I had something I wanted but just couldn't pull it.  Once I applied film simulation it popped and I was able to crop it to what I wanted.  Located inside the Green Dragon Inn near Cheltenham, England. 

 I have posted a few versions of this image in black and white but I liked how this version turned out keeping some of the colour hues.  Green Dragon Inn, Cheltenham, England

 One of the few times I have taken a turd image and made it something I like - haha.  Still not a great image but this film simulation made the image much colder and more interesting/intriguing.  Coopers Island, Bermuda

 Previously posted in a vibrant colour version of blues, browns and rain.  I liked this 70's faded film look.  Paget Parish, Bermuda

Also previously posted as bright vivid colour with blue skies and red bikes.   The 70's/80's look take me back in time.  Front Street, Hamilton, Bermuda

Now I have another weapon in my arsenal that doesn't add a pile of time to my processing.  You can also look at the presets and see what they did to make the image the way it is and change it even more.   Would I buy premade presets?  Probably not, but some of the free ones out there are pretty cool.  If you find yourself stuck inside and wanting to play with photos, pull a few and import them into lightroom and give some of your images a new look.

Jan 29, 2017

Hmmmmm, Yup, I think I will :-)

Happy 2017 everyone!   I know everyone is hoping for it to be a better year then 2016.

2017 got off to a very rough start for Jen, myself and Jackson.   Jen and I both came down with full blown influenza.   Jen was down and out for 3 weeks and I was knocked on my ass for a week.   Recovery after that seems to be about another week.   Here we are the end of January and we're just now starting to feel human again.   It was so bad that we didn't even get the xmas tree taken down until mid-Jan.    Considering it was a live tree it had to go haha

X-T1 35mm - Our big boy Jackson

The other big issue I've been dealing with is our big and oldest dog, Jackson.   Suddenly he seems to have a case of anxiety that is very hard to deal with at night.   After several days of no sleep (us that is from his pacing and barking), we got him into the vet and confirmed that his arthritis in his front shoulders is pretty bad but we also found his ears were red and he had a swollen toe.  Looks like the nail was partially separated from the toe.   Given that we are always with him we're not sure how that happened.  Anyhow, a mitt full of drugs and he's on the mend.  Unfortunately the anxiety still seems to be a problem.   He will not sleep in the room that he has always slept in and will pace and bark throughout the night.  He wants to be with me but won't come where I am.   For the past week I've been spending most of the night on the coach in the living-room where he will eventually settle down.   Still playing with the drugs but hopefully he's on the mend and the anxiety is only related to the pain.

X-T1 35mm - Homemade thundershirt to help with the anxiety.  My Dr Who shirt :-)

While being sick I had lots of time to research, cause I sure felt way to sick to go out shooting.   Up until Christmas, I had convinced myself that I would not get the Fuji X100F but instead get the XF-23mm F2.0 and pair that up with my X-T1.   600 bucks vs 1950.   And I like the feel of the mini-dslr X-T1 in my hands vs the range finder style of the X100 series.   Seems to make logical sense, just buy the lens and then I have the same focal range and great quality.

X-T1 35mm - Classic Chrome - Fina (a guest for a week) and our little dog Wookiee playing.

If only it were that simple.   What was my gateway drug into the Fuji world?  X100.  Which camera do I typically have with me when I travel?  X100.  Do I like changing lenses all the time?   Nope.   Do I like dust on my sensor?  Nope.  Looking at my pictures, can I tell which was the X-T1 and which was the X100S?  Nope (unless it's an obvious zoom).

X100S - Looking out my radio room window on a chilly morning.

But on the flip side, I'm going to Bermuda this coming June to watch the America's Cup sailing, I really need that 100-400mm Fuji lens for that trip - IT'S A MUST!  Can't take pictures of sailboats with a 23mm can I?  But lets be realistic, it's a 2 week trip how much will I use a $2200.00 lens after that?  The whole reason I went Fuji was for a small and light package.   Do I really want to watch the racing through the lens of a camera?   Fair enough, I can talk myself out of the 100-400mm.

X100S Macro Mode - Waiting for the dogs to do their business and decided to play with the macro setting, something I have rarely touched.

So we're still talking a $1200 difference between the 23mm and the X100F.   What does the 100F have that my X-T1 or X100S doesn't?   Well now that was interesting to learn when the specs came out.   When the camera was announced, at first glance, it looked like a minor upgrade.   But when you dig you discover that it now has the same processor and same sensor as the X-PRO2 and the same AF system.  Holy cow, that is huge.   An X100 with fast AF, 24mp and costs 200.00 less then the body pf the X-Pro2?   Ok, hang on here, lets think this through.   Normally I only buy every 2nd generation of camera.   The X100F is 2 generations after my X100S so if I were looking to upgrade just the X100S it would make sense.  But my X-T1 is only 1 generation behind the chips and sensors in the X100F.   So what else does the F have that the T1 doesn't?   Well, the big things are the 24mp, the faster AF, the very small size factor but it does have one thing that the T1 will probably never get, ACROS film simulation.......oh my.    I am a huge fan of Acros and my focus for 2017 was to do more street work and more black and white.    For street, I would be using the X100 with the 23mm lens and small invisible form factor.   But street also calls for black and white, and if you can have acros as well..... enough said.

X100S - Black and White Yellow Filter, Acros film from Silver Efex Pro

I made the mistake of walking into Henry's camera the other night and they reminded me that I can pre-order with no obligation.    The camera comes in, they call me, I come and look and either walk away or buy it.   Naturally I pre-ordered, what do I have to lose?   My plan is to go in with my X-T1 and mount the 23mm and then put the X100F in my hands, compare the two and make the decision.   My heart is on the X100F just from how much I use the X100S and it will be a substantial upgrade over my S version but less so over the X-T1.  But the X100 series has always had a special place in my heart, it is such an amazing little camera series.

X100S - Black and White Yellow Filter, Acros film from Silver Efex Pro

I hear you ask, well what about the X-Pro2 and the 23mm - then you have weather resistance and everything you mentioned above AND interchangeable lenses.   I thought about this.  It's another 700 bucks more then the X100F and to be honest I seem to like having a fixed lens and being made to think about the picture I'm taking.   I put the X-Pro2 in my hands the other night and yes, it is very very nice and I can see maybe replacing my X-T1 way down the road with a Pro3 when the day comes but for now, I handed it back :-)

X-T1 35mm Classic Chrome - Wookiee and Fina having a rest

They say the X100F should arrive in stores around mid-Feb, so a few more weeks to wait and a few more weeks to change my mind and research the hell out of it.   HAHA.  I can be so fickle about these things.   But I have to admit, I am kinda excited to try out a new X100 with all the things my X100S was missing.

X100S - they were calling for light snow flurries today - LOL

Dec 11, 2016

Playing with the Pets

Argh, forgot how much I hate winter.  Not a good time to become of street shooter -lol.   Not that I have had any time to get out.   So continuing to play at home with the X100s and the X-T1 with the rarely used 35mm.   I definitely prefer the 23mm (a 35mm in the full frame world) focal length over the 35mm (effectively a 50mm)  Trying to decide if I would want to upgrade to an X100F when it comes out or just pick up the 23mm F2 lens for the X-T1?   I prefer the feel of the X-T1 and the much quicker focus, but I love the smallness and stealthiness of the X100 series.   I'll wait for the F to come out and check the stats but for now I'm leaning towards that 23mm F2.0 on the X-T1.

A few from around the house a mixture of the X100S and the X-T1 w/35mm;

Kitten wondering if chewing on xmas lights might be a good idea or not.   NOT!

Onyx is our rarely seen cat who I managed to catch in the morning sun.

Wookie sporting her sweater on a cold Dec day.

Had to take this in colour to showcase her eyes and the brick.

A friend of ours came over with her new puppy (about 3 months old) and she is such a cutie!  She loves the snow.

Another of fluffy.

Fina, the puppy, enjoying the cat toy - lol

But I seriously need to get into downtown Ottawa and try my hand at the streets.   Or maybe I'll just become a pet photographer :-)

Dec 7, 2016

Setting Up for Black and White

I've pretty much made up my mind that this coming year I will spend a lot more time with b&w and try and work different topics then landscapes.   Doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing them just that I'm going to spend more time outside my comfort zone to try and increase my skills.

In the old film days I really couldn't afford to play with different films to get the different results although I did mess around a bit in the dark room.  But I was limited to a 400 ISO film that school supplied and out I went shooting.

Now I get to setup a digital camera and become familiar with all the different modes of black and white and then combine it with silver efex pro.   Holy crap, who knew there was so many different ways of doing 2 colours haha.

I'm not a fan of washed out grays but I do like good medium images with a great range of grays and I like solid blacks and solid whites.   Way outside of my world of colour.   The past couple of nights I've been reading up on Fuji settings for black and white and reading what some of my favourite modern photographers have to say.   I have set both my fuji x100s and x-t1 to the same settings as they have a very similar/identical sensor.   +2 highlights, +2 shadows, +1 sharpness with wide open aperture where I can and keep the speeds around 1/60 or 1/125, black and white with green filter and ISO under 6400.   Here are some early results playing around the house.   Conditions were very dark, I really need to start using some lamps;

So this was the first night - my buddy Jackson.   My first thoughts were not enough white put in, next time I'll add some highlights in LR.  Yes his eyes look funny, he has none - lol.   He's completely blind.   

This is my other dog Wookie.  She's pretty tiny and very shy of the camera.   Getting near her can be difficult and she has permanent staining around her eyes that does not work well with black and white.

The staining on this one is really unappealing in my eyes.

This was my favourite of the bunch.   I used a lamp off to the side and the ISO was lower giving a very sharp and crisp image.

This one wasn't bad either although I masked her and made it dark around her.   The biggest problem I have found with pets is getting the detail of the fine fur in contrast to the noise from low light conditions.   If you put any noise reduction on it kills the fur details completely, so either you live with the noise or you get soft images.

The guys who I am following are saying up to 6400 ISO, I has mine at max of 3200 and I was not pleased with those results.   I think on static items or outdoors the 6400 will be fine but when it comes to detail such as hair and fur that number will probably need to come down to about 1600 to be acceptable for me.

I gotta say, I like the result, although a bit more light will be wanted in the future.   Still need to start finding the best settings for a range of grays but these work nicely for pure black and pure white.

Dec 4, 2016

Remember to look twice

It's so easy to just go through your pictures, pick out the best, post them and promptly never go back.  It's always a great idea to go back through your photos several times on different days with a different eye.   My talk of black and white had me going back with mono in mind, pulled a couple of more gems from my recent trip to the UK.

I had never used my X100S in low light before this trip and the first few days I was struggling a bit with what ISO to use so the grain, which I like if done properly, is not consistent enough across the images, it blooms too much in certain areas but I still like the photos :-)

The Green Dragon is an amazing 17th century pub located near Cheltenham.  If your in the area you will not find a better meal or nuance then this fabulous place.   http://www.green-dragon-inn.co.uk/gallery.php

I have been to this location 3 times over the years but I have yet to stay there in the daylight.   One of my future trips I will get there during the day and I might even stay there.

Definitely not a lie.   When you walk in your immediately struck by the welcome atmosphere and the smell of wood smoke from the open fireplaces and the coziness of the low ceilings.

The train station at Cheltenham Spa.

A street scene one evening in Cheltenham