Light is Everything!

The Black Hills

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Danish Soldiers at Mt. Rushmore at Dusk

We just got back from a mini vacation to the Southern State of South Dakota. 🙂 It was an amazing journey! We were able to do lots of fun stuff as a family, taking in some great attractions but also soaking up the beautiful South Dakota country side. I’m not going to write about all the gory details of our family trip, but rather I’m going to focus on the only camera I took on the journey, the FujiFilm X100s. (Small caveat: we also had our Nikon 1 V1 in tow but only for family video). As a dad of 3 kids 5 and under, I don’t get to actually “do photography” whilst on holidays. It’s more of a taking photos as you go and do things as a family. There’s a huge difference. If I was going to Yellowstone to take photos vs. going to Yellowstone for a family vacation, it’s a completely different mindset. For dedicated photography, I’d want my D800 with full array of lenses. For family stuff, I want as minimal a kit as possible but still be ready for mostly anything. The X100s fits that bill perfectly. As a travel camera, this thing is a boss. It’s size alone makes it super convenient for travel and taking shots on the fly with the kids in tow. But the image quality means I don’t have to sacrifice images like I would with a crappy point and shoot. The f/2 lens and sweet high ISO performance mean that even in the low light of Rushmore Cave, 1 mile underground, I still got shots I was totally happy with.

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Rushmore Cave

The camera totally gets out of the way. Its truly a photographic experience unlike any other. And the best part is of course the color. Fuji has the best color reproduction of any camera I’ve used. I shot the majority of the landscape shots from the trip in Velvia film simulation. I love that super saturated look that really brings out all the subtleties of tone.

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Vista from the Needles Highway

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The glorious Sylvan Lake

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Beads at the Crazy Horse Monument

With only 1 focal length, you are forced to be creative with your shots. The camera pushes you at the same time as it makes taking photos a breeze. It’s an odd juxtaposition that I love! The macro capabilities mean you can get great up close shots without having to switch to a different lens like you would on a DSLR system. As a travel camera, it’s ideal. It’s truly ready for anything you can throw at it, even some off camera flash photography at the spur of the moment!

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OCF Kids. SB-900 in an umbrella triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus X.

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Slow Water via internal ND Filter

 

Another thing that is tremendous as a travel camera is having that built in 3-stop ND filter to kill ambient light. It makes shots like this possible to capture smooth water. Stopping down to f/16 with the filter engaged means I could get shutter speeds of over a second to really get dreamy water and maximum detail. 😀

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I never once missed a DSLR. Ever. The fact that the camera is a compact powerhouse of image quality and ability more than makes up for the fact that I did miss a few shots due to limitations. But I just don’t care! I used to think travel photography had to be a big gear gong show. And carting around all that stuff on hikes with the kids was a total pain. Now, I sling the X100s over my shoulder and I actually enjoy travel photography! It’s fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough. I have a whole set of images up on flickr if you want to check ’em out. There’s a wee smidge posted here. 😎

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