I love DSLR technology, don’t get me wrong. But there is something about the FujiFilm X100s that opens one’s eyes to a different kind of reality. It’s beyond the sensor and retro styling. It’s beyond all the amazing technology smooshed into a neat little X-Package. The whole photographic experience changes when you’ve got one camera with one lens. It forces you to see the world differently but gives you all the tools you need. I love walking around with a camera that is so compact but also ready for nearly any situation. I went for a little walk with the dog the other day to nab some more fall color. I didn’t feel like lugging the D800 and a lens bag around so I chucked the X100s in my pocket and away I went. I really wanted to make use of the Fuji’s in camera processing film styles. This is truly a versatile camera. Being able to tweak the shadow and highlight zones is super for enhancing a mood. In the case of fall quickly coming to a close, dark deep shadows and gloomy skies really bring out the over all death theme of the season. But at the same time, the rich velvia colours can really pop and make us think “no, all is not lost yet!” Some life still remains.
As much as a I hate winter, I love fall. More precisely, the fall colours. Which only last for 3.4 days in the prairies. Except this year! We’ve had a very nice slow start to autumn and it’s brought a lot of beautiful colour. I love shooting fall landscapes to nab the colours but the photos are never as vivid or as saturated as I perceive them to be. So I decided to do a new twist on shooting fall landscapes. Abstract! The colours can’t help but pop in their full glory on account of that’s all the photos have going for them is colour. I kinda like it!
Try it for yourself. Don’t be a Photoshop pansy. You can do these shots in camera. I used the superb new Nikon 70-200 f/4 for all of these shots. It’s sharp and light but it also stops way down to f/32. Which is where I shot these. I shot at ISO 100 because it was already bright this morning at 7:30. Crank your aperture down as far it will go and then just adjust your shutter speed down till you get the desired exposure. In my case, I was shooting these at 1/5 of a second. And then comes the twist. Just zoom your lens and you get way cool motion blur and super amazing colour. It’s kinda fun and gives you a new twist on fall!
Every time I goto Grenfell, Saskatchewan I see incredible displays of Northern Lights. This last trip was no exception. I stayed up late to nab a few snaps with my Fuji X100s at the farm. The colour is incredible! So glad I had my tripod along!
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!
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.
Granted, I’m a little late to the party. But I want to set the record straight on the Nikon 1 V1. “It doesn’t suck!” It’s amazing little camera! This image of the kids is straight out of camera with no edits (other than water mark and resize). The colours are amazingly vibrant! All the images are very contrasty and punchy, and I like it! I finally had the chance to go for a little walk around today with it and shot a couple of landscapes. Other than the fact that it was a foggy abysmal day, I found that it set the stage for some cool black and white. I shot in JPEG and RAW and had a good experience with both. RAW always gives more latitude, but the JPEG performance is really nice. The only achilles heel is the high ISO, which is to be expected for a small sensor camera. But it’s not that bad, all things considered. When you evaluate the performance against my current DSLR, the D300s, it doesn’t lose by that much in color and dynamic range. It’s negligible really. ISO get’s punched in the face, but we already knew that. For outdoor day to day stuff, in my opinion, the Nikon 1 brings the thunder. And, its far more portable. But I already mentioned that.
It was cold this morning, mercury was dipped to -22C. Cold enough even for the creepy crawly critters to seek out a warm sunny spot. I watched this coyote walk up the ridge opposite to our house. He slowly climbed down over a big snow bank and spun around a few times, making a cozy little spot to catch some rays. I was on breakfast detail so after I had finished my chores, I grabbed the camera and snuck out in our backyard to see if I could nab a shot. My trusty 70-300 has always been my goto wildlife lens, though it’s performance is sluggish. I barely made one frame of the coyote before he saw me and got nervous. The slow AF on the lens didn’t help much either as I wasted precious seconds trying to acquire focus. But I nabbed one while he was resting and a couple more as he began to flee.
The thing about coyotes is, they’re survivors. When World War III happens and nuclear armageddon is unleashed, the last thing walking around will be a coyote. This one looks like it will survive the winter just fine. Unless it keeps hanging around my yard. Then it might have a little visit from Dr.223… I took a couple other shots of those cool winter patterns and textures too.
This post is not intended to be a mantra for hunting season. Ahem. It’s about seizing the moment before it’s gone. The “capture” aspect of photography is really of the essence. Event photographers and wedding folk know this well. But even landscapers or point and shooters can glean a lesson from it. If a picture is happening before you, go shoot it. Don’t wait and come back later. Chances are good it won’t be there. Take the 5 minutes to stop, get out and make the frame. Like time, you can never get it back. And personally, I hate living with that “Doh! I wish I would have stopped and got that photo!” It applies to all of life.
This shot was one of those times. I was on my way back from a shoot and saw these 3 combines and the grain cart tractor parked in a harvested field. All of them red. With a nice little moon overhead. I had to stop. I pulled the car over and walked out into the field. I didn’t have a tripod but I had a step ladder with me. So, I used it as a rest and was able to take some frames to make this HDR image. I’m pleased with how it turned out as it grabs what harvest time on the prairies is all about. I could have drove past, but I’m glad I seized the moment!
Had to make a water run tonight to the supple bounty of Alameda. It was approaching golden light which is always exciting. It was also dusty as all get out. Dust, fog, mist – they are all the theme park of light. We lucked out and ran into much dust on the roads to let the sunset have the mucho fun.
The storm itself wasn’t all that bad tonight but the cloud structures were awesome! Living next to a big valley is awesome for getting amazing thermals to make the clouds to pop-wheelies! And the best thing ever was the huge golden light that was coming from the West. It made this tremendous rainbow! It was raining still but I ran out into the backyard to nab the shots. I bracketed the rainbow for HDR to get the max amount of definition. Only bummer was it was hand held so there is some ghosting on the trees. But I don’t care, the rainbow was awesome. I wish I had an FX camera though and I probably could have got the whole thing in the frame! :cool:
Driving to Moose Jaw Tuesday night I stopped at Macoun to make this image. The flooding from last year hasn’t gone away. It may be out of the media but it is still affecting the lives of many people in rural Saskatchewan.
Ma & Pa Kettle are down from Moose Jaw and with the wild turkeys in full strut, it was high time to try and get some photos. Dad had his 500mm f/4 and I brought a . . . 16-35 f/4 wide angle. What other lens would do for wildlife?!? hehhehhe… Anyways, we drove down the road and spotted some turkeys right beside the road. Dad was switching up lenses and some other guy in a truck drove by and spooked them. Great. They were now on the move. So I ran on ahead of them trying to cut them off and steer them back to where Dad was waiting. Well the turkeys must have been chased by coyotes this year because they are far more flighty then they were last year. I was able to walk up with 15-20 feet but this year not so. Long story short on the turkey stalk was me nearly having a heart attack running up and down ginormous hills trying to cut ‘em off at the pass. To which the responded by flying away. I have a whole new appreciation for Border Collies.
It’s truly a blessing to have a photography club where like minded folks can get together and talk about what we love. There is always mutual learning and sharing that takes place, as well as great camaraderie. Last night’s club night was a wee bit sparse on attendance, but it was still a good time as it always is. The topic was changed from editing photos to watching a video called “Chased by the Light”. It was a video journey through Jim Brandenburg’s self-assigned photo quest. He took 1 photo per day for 90 days. Meaning, he made 1 frame (of film) from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice every day. 90 photos. And every photo is a winner. The exposure and composition and content of each picture is truly amazing. To be able to do this is in itself an incredible feat!! I’d be too worried about blowing the exposure but he nailed each and every one. Check out the trailer to learn more about it.
He has this uncanny ability to distill an image down to it’s essence, to really capture the heart of what makes a landscape a landscape, what makes an animal and animal. Really good portrait photographers can do the same with people. It’s not often the well lit smiling toothy grin image that takes the cake, nor is it the off the cuff candid portrait either. It’s the uncanny knack of capturing the essence of the person, the scene or the moment. This cannot be done with all the latest and greatest technology, new cameras, new lenses, lights, yada yada. It’s something greater than that. More on whatever that is in a future post. But suffice it to say, Brandenburg’s journey was incredible and the video was AMAZING! Breathtaking photos and inspiring creative renewal no doubt for him but also all who look through his images from the 90 days.
The Photo Club’s photo assignment for February was “Foreground Interest” – trying to capture interesting stuff happening in the front most portion of the camera. It’s neat to think of a photo as having 3 distinct planes or areas of composition. Foreground, middle ground and background. Really great landscape images always should have something happening in the foreground as it helps lead the eye through the photo. Same thing for any photo really. Having interesting stuff happening in each of the planes is a key tip for above average photos. Here are my submissions for the evening. All the images were shot with the month’s assignment in mind but the last one of the prairie scene was a rush job, shot an hour and half before the club meeting. Had to have something and this was it! heheheheh….
This image was shot in the Carnduff hockey rink. I noticed the people talking and decided it would make for cool foreground components. It gets at the heart of small town rink life! I noticed the photo, quickly changed lenses and dialled in my exposure and made the frame.
This photo was taken on a little photo walk I did trying to capture winter in contrasty black and white. I loved the old historic nature of the farm yard and liked how the frost had covered the remnants of this old weathered wood.
Finally, this was the fast photo. I needed to get an third photo and essentially ran out of time. This is just out behind my house and I brought along a flash. I triggered it off camera and lit the backlit prairie grass to mimic the light the sun was shining from behind it. It, along with the dried out clover stalk added some foreground interest, but it’s basically an example of making the photo vs. taking the photo.
God’s Light Painting tonight.
Capitalizing on the dismal fog, I ran out and came across this blast from the past. What a location! Old smashed farm house, decrepit stone barn ruins, racoon tracks hither and thither… it was a regular haunt of jackals! I was testing the VR function of the 16-35mm lens as I went with no tripod but was still able to do these HDR mashups with very little ghosting. Cool! I was really diggin’ the high contrast black and white feel when I was editing these ones. Adds to the overall bleakness…
HDR! Boo ya!
Wow! What a crazy night. At about 11PM I decided it would be cool to venture out into the intense fog that had saturated the valley. Grabbed my camera, cable release and tripod and away I went. It was thick, barely could see past the car hood. I knew there would be some sweet sassy photos down by the river as the folks in beaver park had some yard lights that could work to back light some trees and then use the moon light as ambient fill. It was long exposures 30″ or more at tiny f/22 apertures. And while those 30 seconds tick by, all you hear is leaves crackling around you. What’s out there in the foggy darkness?!!?! Turns out it was deer. Whitetails were surrounding me all round which was very spooky! I finally scared them away and went back to the car. It was so calm too. Geese flying over head sounded like a roaring crowd of 30,000 people. Then a great horned owl flew overhead of me while I was doing the bridge exposure. I could have had a silhouette shot of the owl in front of the moon if I had another camera with me! That would have been cool. 8) Oh well, I was mid a 3 minute exposure so I didn’t want to goof it up. And I’m glad I didn’t.
More photo geek tips: When shooting at night, lock your white balance into tungsten. It makes everything have a really cool blue look, especially when you have fog. White fog is rather boring, but blue or pink looks ethereal.
Everyone loves light shows, from fireworks to the Northern Lights, it’s always tremendous. When we were in Grenfell last week, I stayed up to 2AM because the Aurora Borealis were dancing up a storm. That and I wanted to nab a few star trail shots. I couldn’t wait to see what the lcd screen showed me after I finished the 15 minute long exposures. Pure awesome, I thought to myself. That is, until I got the shots home. On the computer monitor I could see something wacky. It looked like a dust spot, but I had just cleaned my camera. Upon closer inspection, I saw these concentric circles radiating out of the center of the image. CRAP! I thought I had destroyed my camera’s sensor chip by taking fireworks shots!
What a gong show! But then, I did some research on the net and came across this article that explains this phenomenon:
With my Nikon lenses I have found that long exposures result in concentric circles showing up in the middle of the images when I use a filter of any kind. Nikon says this is due to the high reflectivity of the aurora. Thanks to the University of Alaska forecaster, the explanation follows. “These are interference fringes due to the parallel faces of the filter and to the narrow spectral emission at 5577 Angstroms in the aurora. That green, atomic oxygen emission line is the strongest emission in the aurora near our film and eye peak sensitivity, so it shows up first when there is any device in the optical path which sorts out the spectral emissions.” So, don’t use filters!
That pretty much sums it up. Lesson learned. If you’re after the Aurora, don’t forget to take your filter off your camera lens! I wish I would have known that before hand.
Challenge of the Day: Trees.
Woke up to a thick blanket of fog this morning. Grabbed the camera and walked out back with the dog. My jeans were soaked to the knee in the first 50 yards! heheehehe… it was super damp everywhere, just like a rain cloud had settled on the ground. I was able to nab a few frames before the wind picked up and blew the fog away. The number 1 challenge of the day was not being eaten alive by 10 zillion billion mosquitoes, who also kept annoying me by flying in front of my lens. How inconsiderate those little vampires are. The picture at the end is my pants soaked right up to the pockets, just from walking through the long grass!
Got up to go check the devastation early this morning. Major Wa-Wa in the Souris. Wow! Sandbags ahoy. Hopefully the water doesn’t get up any higher into the homes. I nabbed a few HDR shots too, see if you can spot them. ;)
For the last week or so, there’s been a Red Tailed Hawk screeching at me in the back pasture. He’s been hanging out in the ravine and cruising on the air currents and thermals that rise up out of the valley. It’s been a nice addition to have some extra wildlife actually hanging around. I have noticed at times two of them, so I thought they might be nesting. Tonight, well after golden light had settled in, I grabbed my camera and my trusty 70-300, the dog and we hit the trail running. I wanted to nab shots of this hawk while the golden light was low on the horizon and would illuminate him while he surfed the currents. It worked out! He got lit up like a
Dutch brothel! non-ethnically specified house of ill repute! Just kiddin’! It was just lots of glorious evening light that highlighted him perfectly and was still high enough to creep into the east side of the ravine.
As I sprinted across the pasture, I was pleased to see he was still hanging around. He even let me get close. And as I crested the top of the hill, I found out why he’d been there: dead deer carcass. It was just ribs and spine, presumably a coyote kill, hopefully not a cougar (but possible). I’m fairly certain this hawk had been hanging around to take part in the bonanza. Soon though, the clouds bunched up and stole my light away. No more hawk pics. But, my attention turned from raptors to landscapes – well, cloudscapes. I ran down the big ravine to get back up the other side, stopping only to take the oak leaf shot at the bottom of coulee. It was raining far off and the light was coming in very rich and warm. It was burning through the clouds so brightly I could barely believe it! Shapes and even faces emerged in the clouds, even a wee rainbow if you look close. It was all very cool! As I stopped to snap the cloud shots, I barely even noticed the horde of wood ticks that had since covered my pants and started crawling up under my shirt. Anything for a picture right? Finally, I watched as the sun sunk into the horizon and burned the sky before saying nighty night!
Today was beautiful! We played outside with the kids this morning and finally got some serious rays. My bald head got red! And it was great! I also cleaned the garage, but who cares about that. I went for an evening drive to get obtain the fine water from Alameda’s well and threw the camera in just incase any photos were lingering in the setting sun. There were! Here’s what I came up with this evening.
“With reflections you become too soon a genius.”
~ Ernst Haas