Dec 31, 2014

2014 - The Year of Fuji

I see that everyone is putting up their year end blog post so figured I'd better do the same :-)   Currently -22C windchill outside but still have that pull to get outside and take some photos today.  That is saying something considering the previous 3 years (2010-13) or so I was pretty unmotivated.   For those who regularly follow me know the reasons why I wasn't really shooting - ex-wife issues, no inspiration and not making the Nikon sing.  That all changed this year as this became the year of Fuji.

You can go back through the blog posts of the entire year and you'll get the full story but the summary is that I picked up a gateway drug called a Fuji X100S back in January.   It so impressed me that by March/April I had sold off all my Nikon equipment and lenses and had moved into the Fuji X-T1 and prime lenses.    I haven't looked back.

I rave about my two little Fuji's to anyone who will listen.   The ease of use, using a EVF and seeing the finished shot before taking it, the small size, the amazing colours and brilliant black and white capabilities.   I have one D810 user who e-mails me almost every month wanting to know if I still like the mirrorless and when will I be ready to go back to DSLR.   Each month he gets the same answer, "not planning to ever go back to a DSLR".   I never say never but unless I were to become a famous F1 photographer I just can't see it happening.   Everyone seems to think that a slower continuous AF, 16mb file sizes and a cropped sensor is just too limiting.  Bigger and expensive seems to be the anthem of so many photographers.  Great, if it works for them then wonderful, but please don't look down your nose at my "little toy" gear.   I like it and it has made me a better photographer.

"Made me a better photographer"?   I was always one of those who lived by the expression "it's not the camera that makes the picture, it's the turkey behind the camera".   But I have found an exception to that rule.   If the camera makes you want to get out and shoot, instead of reading reviews and pixel peeping online, then it does make you a better photographer.  Fuji has done that for me.   The kit is so small that I can carry a camera with me at all times, primarily the X100S, yet comfortably carry the X-T1 with my biggest lens (55-200mm) all day.   It feels so amazing to just look through a view finder, spin a knob or two on the top of the camera and an actual aperture ring, see the finished product in the view finder and press the shutter.  Done!   I don't then take another 35 safety shots, I don't look at the LCD to see what it actually looked like.  I don't have to, I could see the finished product before I took the picture, I know the result was exactly what I was looking for.

Prime lenses, they're so limiting.  Pft, what a crock of shit.   The X100S taught me that a fixed lens made me a better photographer.   Not because it was an F2, sharp and a great prime but it made me better because I had to think before taking the picture.   No more machine gun shuttering while moving the zoom back and forth.    I actually had to compose.  I walked forward if I wanted to zoom, I walked backwards if I wanted distance.   It slowed me down.  Instead of having one good photo out of every 50, I now struggle to decide which images to delete in post.  But I come home with 30 photos vs 300 photos.  Because of this, when I got the X-T1 I went with the XF-14 and XF-35 as my primary lenses.  Between the two cameras I have 14mm, 22mm and 35mm.  Someday I'll get the 56mm and complete the set :-).   And I picked up one zoom for the distance work XF 55-200.   When I go out to shoot I have the X100S in my pocket and the X-T1 with "my lens of the day".    I try not to carry more then 2 lenses.  Put one on the camera and make it my theme of the day.   That way my mind is geared to that focal length and away I go.  I guess I'm not intelligent enough to swap lenses all the time :-)  One focus mind - lol

When I first put a fuji in my hands I was immediately thrown back to my early film days of the late 70's and early 80's.    The controls were right at my fingers.   You set a few things up in the menu through the LCD and you never have to go in there again.   Everything is on dials.  The camera just makes sense to me.  And the first time I set it to monochrome with a red filter I was completely sold.   How can a camera have such great colour yet make black and white look just like film?   Love love love.

The other thing, and I already mentioned it, is the physical size and weight.   I'm not a small guy (200lbs and 5'7") but I would get tired, sweaty and just plain irritated dragging around my D200 and the lenses.   It wasn't fun so I would either leave the gear at home or I would go shooting but not really have fun, which in turn made me lazy and just wanting to take the picture and get out of there.  "I will fix it in post".  - LAZINESS!

Now, people have to drag me away from a scene that I'm shooting.   I now see so many angles and different lighting that I want to try.   I'm not burdened by gear and irritation.   My dog gets so impatient with me on walks cause I'm not fast enough for him, I'm to pokey.

Two last things that I've noticed since I have become a Fuji man, both interesting and good traits.   In the past year I have done no, what some would call, "gimmicks".   No HDR images, no external filters, no serious tripod work, etc etc...   I have used the internal camera ND filter and monochome filters but nothing that attaches to the camera.  Not even a flash, everything has been natural light and handheld.  So even less gear to drag around.   My poor tripods are covered in dust.  I'm sure I will use them again but it's strange that I never think of them when in the past they were almost permanently attached to my Nikon.

The second thing has been post processing.   With my Nikon I used to go shooting for an hour and then take 2 days to process (or more).   Now I spend almost no time post processing.   I don't have too, the jpg's from the Fuji are almost 90% perfect every time.   A touch of contrast, maybe a small crop, maybe a bit of shadows and I'm done.  Export to file.   I still shoot raw in addition to the jpg's and it has saved me a couple of times where I messed up but I really don't need them.  This coming year I am going to try and break myself of the raw habit :-)

I recently took Phil Steeles Lightroom course -  I highly recommend it.   I've been using lightroom the past year (I used Photoshop and Nikon Capture NX with my old Nikon gear) and thought I knew what I was doing.   Phil's course showed me how much I was missing and a few good tricks that have really helped me.   Best 40 bucks you'll spend.

It is liberating to have fun shooting knowing that there is little post processing on the other end.  Knowing that you have captured great colours in camera and everything is sharp and noise free.  It's the way photography should be.

Ok, I've written way to much on Fuji, I am a bit obsessed these days :-)   What else happened this year.   I managed two trips to Bermuda for about 5 weeks total - both using fuji gear - lol.   My time in Bermuda is always one of my highlights every year.  It is going home for me.   Seeing all my friends and the island I love so much.

After several years away I took Jen and Erin down to Nova Scotia for a look and to meet my family.  We had a great time but did feel that we could have used a few more days so I could show off more of my former home but they had a good time.

The other big change for me was the move away from Toyota, after 15 years, and into VW.   For 20+ years all I have driven is SUV's and tucks and 15 years of Toyota.  I ditched them all and went to a diesel station wagon :-)   I wanted better fuel mileage, I wanted comfort and I wanted a lower roof line to put the canoe/kayak up on.  So far it has met all the criteria.  In the past 6 months I have put 10,000km's on and have saved a ton of fuel.   My operating cost were cut in half and it's a very comfortable ride.   Even with diesel now costing 20 cents more per litre then gas, I am still way ahead when you consider that I have more then doubled my fuel conservation.  Also helped that it dropped my vehicle payment and a huge drop on my insurance.

Work I never discuss on public forums but it's going well.  Some things good, some things bad, but I enjoy my daily job and it pays the bills.  For the most part I look forward to going into the office so that's a good sign :-)

Overall, 2014 has been a good year and one to remember.  I'm not very good at picking my top 10 photos of the year so I have just taken a few of the many that I love from this past year and added them around the text above and below.   So ends my book for 2014 :-)

Wishing everyone a great 2015.


Dec 22, 2014

Playing with the Xmas Tree

Hey everyone.  Fuji is such a no brainer, and I mean it, I left my brain at the door when I took these shots.   Typical Monday at the office so found myself completely brain dead this evening but been meaning to get a few light pictures from the tree.   I picked up both the X100S (put it on F2 and macro) and the X-T1 with the 35mm F1.4.   Didn't think to check the ISO's (I'm normally set to Auto 200-6400), never checked exposures values or anything else.   Turns out the X100S was set to jpg only and the X-T1 was to fine jpg and raw.   No thoughts to settings at all, just started going around the tree snapping here and there.

Stuck them in lightroom, added some contrast to the X100S images which were jpg's only but I found that the X-T1 raw rendering was better then the in camera jpgs....that's a first.   Anyhow below are the results.

One of the cats, Onyx, "nope I never touched it".

Don't blink.

The Dr is in the house!

Fuji makes life so easy.  Just point and shoot.   Tomorrow gonna try a few shots with the 55-200mm and see how they compare.  Maybe I'll even put a few thoughts into composition and camera settings.

Dec 19, 2014

Classic Chrome and the Snow

Hey everyone, winter has finally set itself upon us and Christmas draws near.   Fuji gave us a Christmas present this week with a major firmware upgrade (not that we needed it) for the X-T1.  Something like 27 things were added or upgraded.  Pretty massive.  But one of the biggest things was the addition of Classic Chrome film simulation.  Everyone remember the old slide film chrome days?   I wasn't a huge fan of Kodachrome (but loved the song) as I love saturated colours but it does have it's place.  So had to go out and give it a try today.

My other test of the day was to check the X-T1 against snow.  One of my biggest beefs that I had with my DSLR was how terrible the metering was in the snow.  On the Nikon D200 I always had to dial in +.7 ev to get a decent white snow, otherwise all I got was blue.   I was curious to see how the Fuji metering handles bright blue skies, sunshine and white snow.

The camera was set to film simulation bracketing (Provia, Velvia and Chrome).  No editing, jpgs straight from the camera.   X-T1 with the 14mm prime.  Top image is Provia, middle is Velvia and last is chrome.

Left is Provia, middle is velvia and right is chrome.

Couldn't resist throwing in a black and white :-)  My favourite of the day.

So, my opinion (I know others will perfer the different modes, no biggie, we all have different tastes) - The chrome would be ok if I wasn't comparing it to the provia.   I think the trees, sky and snow look better in provia but the chrome isn't terrible.  I really hate the velvia on the blue sky scenes as it makes everything purple.   Provia wins the battle with Chrome finishing 2nd.

As for the cat images....well....again I like the provia better but not by much.   The chrome isn't bad and I can see where chrome may be preferred to give a more natural look.

How did the X-T1 make out with snow? It kicked ass!   I did some playing in lightroom and it's a touch better by dialing in about +.3ev but the metering did a pretty decent job.   

Dec 3, 2014

Yes it was!

I have always said that Fay was a hurricane. 

Now it is so -

Nov 22, 2014

Winter - blah!

Sorry haven't posted anything since I left Bermuda. Burned myself out a bit on photography plus getting home and having to rush around and get everything ready for winter. Well it has finally arrived. A couple of shots from the other evening as the pond was freezing over.

Oct 15, 2014

Tropical Storm Fay

Well, I was all set to leave the island.  Had a lovely final supper with Sharon (big tenderloins), a bottle of wine and was mostly ready to leave.   The forecast was calling for some storm force winds during the night but nothing to get too concerned about.   The plan was I'd get up in the morning head over to another friends to watch the F1 race, take the rental bike back and head to the airport.

This was what I woke to;

Needless to say I didn't make the F1 race, in fact it took the entire neighbourhood 4 hours just to make a path on the estate road to the main road.  After several delayed attempts my flight was eventually cancelled until Tuesday, 2 days later.

Gave me the opportunity to help my friends with the cleanup and help prep for the next hurricane (Gonzalo) scheduled to hit the island on Friday as a Cat 3.  Fingers crossed that it swerves away from my island but not looking likely.   All my wishes and thoughts are with my island friends and hope they all are safe throughout the storm.

Oct 11, 2014

Bermuda Maritime Museum

A few more shots from my day up at Dockyard,

**Click read more below to see more images**

Oct 10, 2014

St David's

Some pictures from a run down to St David's the other day, in particular Great Head Park which holds a memorial to all those lost at sea.

From the park you get an excellent view of the St David's lighthouse.   As you can see the clouds were very interesting during this visit.

Before arriving at the park I "had to" stop at the Black Horse Tavern for the best Bermuda Fish Chowder on the island followed by a Wahoo sandwich.   What can be better?  A book, a beer and a chowder - mmmmm

Flight coming in over St David's

** To see more pictures and the story click "Read More" below **

Oct 9, 2014

Hanging at the Beach

Went down today for a swim at a tiny "secret" place I know about on the south shore.   My time-lapse failed as the sun created condensation inside the camera holder so will try and get back tomorrow for another attempt.  But a couple of photos and a video.   My days on the island are starting to wind down :-(