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.


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