Things have been exceedingly chaotic for the last little while but are now starting to even out again. I’m quite behind in blogging and have lots of posts upcoming, even though they will be slightly delayed. I thought I would start the catch up practice with a post on a mini “stay-cation” we did back in the first part of July.
Enter: The Big Muddy. What a sensational place! It’s a lesser known gem of Saskatchewan. In fact, when we asked people in our area if they’d ever made the 300km trip west, it was largely a big No. It’s a provincial treasure though. Really different badlands style terrain and really cool history! Outlaws, live stock thieves, Native heritage sites. This stuff should be taught in school! We took an 8 hour van ride tour out of Coronach, SK. There were 9 different stops along the way. Our kids 3, 5, & 7 did amazingly well. There is lots of terrain to cover but so much cool stuff that it kept them entertained the whole time. The tour gives you a scenic view of the region as well as the ability to look at sites not publicly accessible.
We admired that the place hadn’t largely become “touricized” – turning the natural beauty of the place into a fools paradise of fences and signage. You can access some sites, like Castle Butte, just by driving up to it. You can climb all over it, go to the summit, take pictures and have a grand ol’ time. It’s fantastic! Other places you have to have permission to access. Or, take the tour we did because they are on fenced private land. The tour is the way to go because you get the low down on the area from local people. They leave out of Coronach, SK and have a variety of options to choose from. Check them out on this website.
Besides the “non-stereotypical Saskatchewan flat landscape” of the area, there is such cool history from the NWMP to the horse thieving outlaws who used the region to steal and sell livestock. Tamela Burgess of the Circle Y Ranch does an incredible job of highlighting the Outlaw Stories through her amazing artwork and story telling. By far this was one of the most interesting aspects of the tour. And, they’ve filmed a couple episodes of ManTracker on the ranch! It’s a very beautiful location.
If you haven’t gone and seen the Big Muddy, I highly recommend it. It’s a seldom seen provincial treasure! Check it out! The gallery contains a few photo highlights of the area all shot on the FujiFilm X100s.
2015 is here! I thought we would be burning around in flying cars by now! Guess not. But what we do have are really tremendous cameras. I think the old film guys would be doing backflips in their graves if they could shoot with the stuff we have now. So many photo blogs and sites compare the features of this camera and that camera – but you know what? All the technologies in these new cameras are really fantastic. Auto Focus is awesome, even on less than stellar performing cameras. None of the old guys had it. Just try turning your AF off on your camera and shoot for a day. You’ll appreciate even slow AF after that! :D
As I look over my husky collection of personal images (like 66,000 or something crazy), Lightroom allows me to sort them by metadata. Such as which camera took what number of images. My old & sold D300s definitely took the most as that was the camera I really learned photography with. But the most used camera I own isn’t my Nikon D800 or the Df – both of which I certainly do love. Rather, it is the FujiFilm X100s. The bulk of my professional work is still shot with DSRL. But my family/personal camera is the omnipresent X100s. It’s a camera that I naturally just pick up. The Nikon Df also has this spirit about it too. I love the manual controls and dials on these retro-styled cameras. But there is just something about the Fuji. It’s sum is somehow greater than its parts.
Ergonomically, it’s a winner. Small profile. Virtually silent. And then there’s the features: Macro capability, Killer sharp optics, stellar high ISO performance, leaf shutter flash sync speeds, AMAZINGLY ASTOUNDING COLOR. And this is the big one for me. The X-Trans sensor is a colour ninja. All the photo gurus go on and on about this but it is so true. This sensor renders a scene exactly as your eye sees it. Nuances of colour exist that even my D800 and Df just cannot replicate despite being bigger and 3 times more expensive. I snapped this shot just to see how the X-Trans would negotiate the wild mixture of light in this photo: Tungsten lamps in the living & kitchen illuminating the family, daylight balanced wall sconces and Christmas LEDs in the family room in the background. This is a JPEG image shot in auto WB mode! It’s amazing! And the skin tones are incredible. And look at the various shades of blue! I’m constantly blown away by this camera.
I used the X100s exclusively over the Christmas season for capturing family memories. I shoot it in JPEG. I wouldn’t dream of doing that with the Nikons. The pre-processing of the camera makes this possible. Using the X-Trans for professional work would be a dream, especially for weddings. Being able to produce pre-processed JPEG images – that are FANTASTIC – would save hours and hours of editing time. And the black and whites are the best in the business. Bar none. No contest. The FujiFilm Black and White is incredible. I’d love to compare them to say the Leica M Monochrom. So Leica, if you’re reading, send me a setup to try! :cool: I shot this one of my Nephew in very low light, using MF focus peaking to get it sharp. It was f/2 1/60 at ISO 6400. At 1:1, you can count his eyelashes. And the “noise” looks like film grain at 400 ASA. It’s astounding. Like my nephew who is the most striking little gaffer ever. His eyes are jet black!
Sony made and is making a big splash right now with its full frame Mirrorless A7 cameras. Rightly so. They’ve beat both Canon and Nikon to the punch in changing the history of photography for the better. DSLR technology is just analogue film tech ported over to digital. Mirrorless is true digital photography. No old analogue tech work arounds. It’s the real deal. I’ve looked seriously at switching to Sony, particularly with the release of the A7II. Awesome kit with killer in camera stabilization. Way less weight to lug around all day. What’s not to love? Not much. . . . Except that it uses the same sensors that Nikon does. (Or, rather, Nikon uses Sony’s sensors). This isn’t a draw back. The sensors rock the set. But as I look at the X-Trans images, I prefer the look and feel of them. The tonality and colour can’t be matched, not even by Sony’s incredible full frame sensors (Sorry Canon, you’re beaten like a rented mule on this one). I’m not ruling out Sony stuff, that’s for sure. It’s an exciting time for photography! Loads of awesome image making options. But let’s just say that I’m anxiously waiting for the X-Pro2 release. So Fuji, if you’re reading, send me a setup to try! :cool:
My last point about Fuji that I want to touch on is their approach to their customers. No other camera manufacturer respects their customers more than Fuji. When you buy a camera, undoubtedly there will be some glitches and bugs to get worked out. Firmware releases generally fix those up. But that’s all they do. Seldom, if ever, is more functionality introduced to a camera – and especially not if an upgraded model has already been released. You have to buy said upgrade to get the new features. Not so with FujiFilm. They so respect their customers that they release firmware updates that make the existing products better. Even products that have already been replaced with updated models! That’s awesome! It instills confidence in the purchase for the customer. I know that my investment in Fuji is not a one time deal. They will bless me with greater functionality in the future. This is how a company can create a jubilant base of hardcore fans and supporters. It’s a two way relationship with Fuji. And they keep on giving. They show respect to the customer and for that, I give a very deep and long bow (not to mention further business in the future).
So here’s to a happy new year of image making in 2015! May all your pixels be bright! ;)
Well I had the first Wedding of 2014 on the 3rd of the month. It was a very special wedding because it was Parishioners of mine who asked me to take a few photos after the ceremony. It was a very small gathering with only the couple and their witnesses present – which is just fine. Everyone thinks a wedding needs to be a big deal with metric tonnes of frills. It doesn’t. It can be a small, humble event, as this wedding was. And in all truth, it became one of my all time favourites! :cool: Hubert and Audrey were so excited to seek the Lord’s blessing on their relationship which is such a cool testament to their faith. At 80 plus most people would simply think living together would suffice. But nothing beats good ol’ fashioned marriage! And a good ol’ fashioned marriage deserves a good ol’ fashioned camera!
I brought along my
old film Leica FujiFilm X100s. The photos were going to be all posed portraits in the church sanctuary and I took a couple of candid shots afterwards. But I figured I could get it all done with the Fuji and it worked great. I brought along a very simple Off Camera Flash setup of 2 stands, 2 LP180 flashes and 2 umbrellas, triggered by Pocket Wizard PlusX units. Very simple and very effective, no nonsense kit. I carried the camera, triggers, gels and flashes in a small lowepro bag about the size of a milk carton. Who doesn’t love that?! We did lots of the typical “nice” photos everyone wants, then I had my lovely wife assist me for a shot with more dramatic lighting which turned out to be my favourite of the day. I LOVE the Fuji’s black and white JPGs with the yellow filter! :)
But I also love the Fuji’s rendition of colour. Just look at that candle smoke. The subtle blue is out of this world! It just nails colour every time, even in weird mixed light environments. Ahh, Fuji, is there anything you can’t do? ;) All the best to the latest Mr. and Mrs. Freitag! May God give you many years!
So we went up to the grand metropolis of Moosomin, SK last night to take in the Fireworks Competition. This year’s combatants were CanFire Pyrotechnics vs. Canadian Pro Importers & Distributors Ltd. We missed the show on Saturday night, so we don’t have anything to compare Sunday’s offering with. It was still super fun! Everyone always loves fireworks, especially when they are choreographed to music. :cool: Our experience involved screaming and/or puking children so it was doubly rich! :shock: But once we got over that, it turned out to be a nice night. :D Put the fuji x100s to work. I am always blown away by that little camera. It is so, so ideal as a walk around, do anything, take anywhere camera.
I played a bit with the fun Q menu and tweaked the contrast of some of these images to give them that crazy “over blackened art look”. But the skin tones in the color images are unbelievable. If I was lost on a desert island and I could only have one camera, it would be the x100s! :cool:
Here’s the thing with the FujiFilm X100s camera. Color. It does colour, really, really well. :cool: I’m not kidding. It nails colour in a gorgeous richness. My daughter had this amazing little dress on and I knew I had to capture that colour. So I grabbed yonder X100s, a flash on a stand and away we went. The above image was 1/500 f/2.8 ISO 100 via pocket wizard plus x. Every time I pick up that camera, I get stoked about the images that I peel off the card. JPG for crying 8O out loud! I’m thoroughly in love with my beautiful daughter and the camera that forever has frozen these images for me!
I’ve often wondered why we call “Grad” Grad and not Prom. I continue to ponder it. :cool: I got to go and do some grad shots for a couple of lovely Arcola girls and their families on the 17th. It was a riot and the weather held out giving us some sweet, sweet dramatic skies. I took my trust X100s along for the ride, as well as my D800. With my two favorite cameras in hand we got to make a ton of really exciting images with lots of different looks. Just one note on Sarah’s pink dress – it really is THAT pink. :cool: And the guitar, yep, Juliana can totally rock it. It’s not just a prop. Thanks for the fun times girls! You’re amazing! It was awesome to do back to back shoots for such cool friends!
I was out on Saturday night
partying playing poker with the guys getting water in Alameda. I threw the X100s in last minute, anticipating a way cool sunset. Some nice colors started happening. I found a subject, grabbed the camera and realized I had no card in it. #doh #facepalm :roll: Thankfully there’s a wee smidgeon of internal memory available for potential customers to check the images in store morons like me to use. I took an exposure metered for balance and here it is: Not too shabby. It’s metered for the sky and the structures go to mostly silhouette. I could meter for the building but then I’d lose the richness of the color of the sky. Or, I could use flash and illuminate the whole terminal. (Well, I could but that would be dumb). So the only other option is HDR, right? Layer several exposures together in software and get the shot. Well, not any more!
One of the other extremely awesome things about the X100s is the ability to take tonal control of the image. You can manually adjust the shadows, highlights, color and sharpness of any image before you take it. So, after reviewing the first one, I decided to hit the ol’ Q button and tweak away. Here’s the next image:
This image has got the Velvia Film simulation going plus -1 dialed into shadow tone, decreasing the shadow contrast. Look how much more detail is there from one simple adjustment! It’s awesome! But I wanted to push it one step further and here’s the final image:
There’s even more detail held with no sacrifice of color. I kicked it up a notch in camera. And, by switching to fluorescent white balance, I got a beautiful dusty rose tint to the image. That’s pure awesome! :D
These images are all straight out of camera JPEGS with exception of watermark and resize for web. The Fuji Rocks the Set. I rest my case. :cool:
So grandma & grandpa bought the coolest birthday present ever. It wasn’t the new socks or garden tools, it was the “LED, light up, noise making, bubble-blowing gun of amazing times!” :D We killed off our ambient light via switching and this was the product! It was super cool to see the bubbles go lit up by the sparkling LED madness. I thought, “hey, this is a fine time to test how the FujiFilm X100s focuses in no light.” And, I tell you it was a challenge! A challenge for any camera, especially when your auto focus assist beam is off. But just the same, the fuji focused and nailed the shots – not every time mind you, I was focusing in AF-S (not continuous) and the kids weren’t sitting still. I was blown away that the X100s even could capture focus at all let alone produce some keepers. It’s just another testament to the absolute gem that Fuji has made in this camera. :cool: