Visiting An Old Friend

Revisiting an old friend, the Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 lens. I forgot how nice this lens is. It was actually the first XF lens I bought other than the kit lens that come with the cameras, yeah I did mean cameras. It’s lightweight and sharp. And shallow depth of field can be so effective. As you advance in the Fujifilm world and upgrade to bigger more expensive glass, you need to remember that all the Fujifilm XF lens are pretty spectacular and somedays the simple lenses are best.

In the Rocks lounge at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. A good lobby bar is a think of beauty. This one not my favorite.

Time to Update Your Camera

Twice a year you should, in theory, change all the clocks, ahead in the Spring and back in the Fall. Most of our electronic devices are smart enough to make the adjustment for us. Not my Fuji cameras. So twice a year we have to remember how to reset the time which is always buried somewhere on the camera’s menu system. Getting the time correct may come in handy if you are going back to a particular location several years later in hopes of duplicating the lighting you had way back then. If you know the actual time you got the great sunset by the beach is saves you from going back at the wrong time.

Here is a handy cheat sheet for the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T2. This should be good until they decide to update the menu systems on these cameras.

On the Fujifilm XT-1
Move the cursor down to the first icon on the left with a wrench (or setup 1).
Use the dpad right key to enter the date/time setup.
Now use the dpad to move left and right and then up and down to adjust each field.  Push the OK button in the center of the dpad to lock save the changes.

Now on the Fujifilm X-T2 the same thing except the menus are slightly different.


From the Wrench icon go into user settings into Date/Time

From there changing the time is basically the same as the change time on the X-T1.

Or you can just leave the time the same all year and just mentally adjust for the time changes as needed.

Full Is Not The Only Time To Shoot The Moon

Shooting the big full moon is a common pastime for some photographers. Easy enough to do. Set you ISO to native (100 or 200 depending), F8 to F11 on aperture and start at 125th second. Helps to have have a relatively long focal length at least 200mm on an APS-C or 300mm on a full frame. Nothing to it. The issue I find (although I do have a lot of full moon pictures) is that the full moon tends to be a little flat. It’s kind of like taking a picture with the flash on the camera. No definition.

Last night just after sunset we has a Waxing Crescent moon that was only 7% illuminated.

Moon Waxing Crescent ISO 800 F6.4 1/125 Second. 335mm.

I did have to adjust up the exposure as there just isn’t as much light reflecting off a moon at 7% compared to a full moon at 100% With the sun glancing off the edge of the moon you can get definition in the craters on the edge. And with less light overall you can also pick up a star or too. BTW what white balance do you use for your moon shots? Daylight of course. The light is coming from the biggest daylight source that we know.

Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

ACROS To The Rescue

Light is everything and some times it is just too much. This statue in the China Store at Epcot presented some real color balance challenges. There was enough light it just was of several different color temperatures.

Calm Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mmf2.8 R LM WR f8 1/125 seconds ISO 3200 31.5mm

The original capture was quite warm with the statue being almost orange. After sampling several different areas this was about the best I could do.  I think there was incandescent lights, probably some hot halogen spots and from behind me an open doorway bringing in daylight. As you can see there a a blue cast to most of the statue while the midsection is orange. And then there is the magenta cast on the shoulders. There wasn’t one color temperature that covered all the lights.  But is this a throw away image? Nope, time for black and white.

Calm Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mmf2.8 R LM WR f8 1/125 seconds ISO 3200 31.5mm

Because this raw file came from a Fujifilm X-T2 I had access to the all the Fujifilm ACROS2 Film Simulation profiles from within Lightroom.  For the conversion I used the Acros+G filter simulation.

I have to admit I love color images but sometimes I just have to surrender to the black and white muse. The Fujifilm ACROS simulations are just stunning. The tonal ranges are so mellow. Images you can eat off of.

I applied the ACROS+G simulation right over the above image.  I then moved the image into Photoshop as a smart object where I applied Google’s Nik Color Effects Pro 4 to the image for Pro and Tonal Contrast1. Just works.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR


1 I got the Pro and Tonal Contrast Recipe from a KelbyOne class on processing aviation images by Moose Peterson. While Moose uses the recipe for bringing out detail on aircraft, it seems to work on just about any image.
2I couldn’t decide if ACROS was supposed to be all caps or not. In lightroom it is so I updated the post to ACROS.

That Rule Against Bald Skies

Lots of landscape photographers will tell you not to shoot when the sky is bare.  Cloudless skies make for boring images. Moose Peterson calls them bald skies.   And most of the time the rule holds up.  Still that rule like all the others are meant to be broken.  If I followed the rules I probably should have just left my camera at home last Saturday. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky ( Florida in February, 83 degrees and lots of sun ).

Still my eye caught the completely still water of the pond at Epcot. When you see something of interest you shoot now and ask questions later. Later like when you have the image open in Lightroom.

Still Life – Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR

For me this image works because there are no clouds in the sky. Several reasons why. I think the dark blue at the top and bottom of the image holds the eye in the image where you then have time to see all the colorful things going on between the Monorail track and it’s reflection. Also Spaceship Earth, the big dome, might have gotten lost in the clouds had the been there.

Don’t try to stick to much to the rules. Shoot the shots.

Although I like the color image with no clouds, converting it to black and white does not work at all for me. Since the center section has no color the eye doesn’t go there. So the rule works, or it doesn’t.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR


Transformations

The recent update of Lightroom CC includes a new development panel called Transform.  Among the options on this new panel is the Guided transform which lets you show Lightroom just how you want to straighten  your image.  It also includes an Auto transform which does a pretty good job on most images.

If a perfect world you might never need to align or crop any of your images. But in the real world there is times when having good tools to adjust your image makes life so much easier.  Take this image that I transformed using the Auto transform. The transformation is pretty spectacular in that not only gave me the image I saw in my head, it did it with out losing any resolution. The image is still a 24mp (6000×4000 pixel) file.

The original image needed some work. This was because it was taken at Epcot on a crowded day and anything close to a straight image would have showed a lot of the crowd. If i could have the place to myself with a tilt-shift lens for my Fujifilm X-T2 I might have been able to get it done in camera. But I am really happy with the way it came out and I have no bad feelings about how the image was made.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR


Sky Above

Sky Above Fujifilm X-T2 XF 10-24mm F/4 R OIS ISO 1600 F/4 for 20 Seconds at 10mm

The Fujifilm XF Lens Roadmap hasn’t been updated since last year. Now rumors are about that they going to be producing a XF 8-16mm F/2.8 lens sometime this year. It makes sense to me as that completes the Pro series equivalents of constant F/2.8, 12-24mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm lens other manufacturers offer. For night sky photography wide angle fast glass is the way to go. Last night I dashed outside to capture a few images of Orion and the surrounding stars. I used my XF 10-24mm F/4 R OIS lens and I really did wish I had that extra stop of aperture. At F4 i had to keep the shutter open for 20 seconds at ISO 1600. You may not notice it (in fact you may not see many stars in the small image presented but click on the image for a larger image) but there is definite movement at that shutter speed. With a lens the opens to F/2.8 I would have been able to cut the exposure time down to 10 seconds and it probably would have made a difference in the sharpness of the image.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS

It’s nice to live in Florida where even in Winter you can have a clear night with temperatures not too cold. 

Common Sense Approach To Learning Photography

There is a really big bunch of instructions out on the internet about learning photography. From free 2 minute videos to subscription education. In fact there is so much stuff if you watched it all you probably would not have time to actually take any photographs but boy would you know about photography. I catch myself every once a while thinking that with all the video’s I watch that anytime I put camera to eye I ought to come out with perfect images suitable for framing and have admiring throngs patting me on the back for a job well done.

Yeah, it just doesn’t roll like that. So I set about thinking how I could use my own equipment to learn photography. And I think this is one of the great things about digital photography, you can shoot and shoot without burning through expensive film and developing. I came up with several things that I could do to prove what others were trying to teach but in concrete ways.

First step was to allow myself to take images that weren’t just “art projects”, to make images that proved a point and also provided examples of how my equipment (in this case my Fujifilm cameras and Lenses) actually performed. So I have some suggestions for you on how to improve your skills, get a real feel for what your camera can do, and maybe even learn a little something.

To take the pressure off yourself I might suggest that your learning and testing be put in its own Lightroom catalog. Someplace where mistakes and experiments can live without the worry about being good.

So here is some tests that I recently did. First was a series of tests to evaluate how well I was getting the focus on my camera. I took a series of images where I marked down where the focal point of the image was and then verified that it was indeed the focus point. When doing testing you always want to make sure that there is only one thing being varied for each shot. So I locked down the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens on the a tripod, set the ISO to 200, the aperture to f/8, and let the shutter speed go to 1/5th second1. I used the focus joystick to move around the image to put either Spot’s eyes (well sunglasses) his mouth or my friend the ducks eyes into focus.

This gave me a good feeling that the camera and lens is capable of getting good focus if I let it do it job.

Another thing I decided to do for myself it to look at depth of field as related to aperture. Using the same setup I shot a number of images all with the same focus point on spots sunglasses and varied the F-stop from F/2.8 to F/16. This gives me a concrete example of how much is in focus in an image at different F-stops. Note: this is only for one lens (XF 16-55) set to 55mm but it gives you an idea of a starting point. Depth of field is not just affected by f-stop but is also affected by the width of your lens. You need to experiment more than I did here.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F2.8
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F4.0
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F5.6
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F8
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F11
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F14
Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 at F16

The third experiment I did was testing how my image was affected by exposure compensation. The following images were taking with the exposure compensation set from minus 2 to + 2 stops. The middle image being the one with no compensation.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of testing you can do to get to know your camera and maybe just maybe learn a few things. There are many more experiments you can do when you take off the pressure to make every image count. I would also like to thank Spot and Duck for hanging with me even when they fell off the stage and on to the floor.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2
Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

1I used natural light for all the images as it was available and did not add to the complexity of the shots by trying to use flash.

The Plight of the Self Employed

I’ve been self employed for the last 23 years. It has advantages, name your own hours, work from home mostly, doing what you love to do. One of the downsides of self employment is getting sick. As a guy who writes programs for a living I usually can muddle thru a cold as for the most part if I keep my nose from running and shorting out my keyboard I can still send out the invoice at the end of the week. When being self employed requires you to go out in the real world, be it writing code, taking pictures, or other such fun stuff, feeling less than prefect is not well, fun.

While I have been rather heathy, this is my first cold in probably 5 years, it does make some parts of the job at hand harder to do. So my advise is if you can, take a down day (yeah probably not if you have a team of twenty descending on a photoshoot). Time spent recovering early in the sickness may keep you from having a longer illness.

You can still be semi-productive if you have stayed at home to recover. Things I like to do between hacking fits:

  • Process  images I have not had time to get to.
  • Clean up social media. Websites don’t fix themselves.
  • Clean up email (unless that is what made you sick in the first place).
  • Be feverishly creative. Make a virtual copy an image and see how far I can take it. Push that vibrance slider really far remove all clarity, twist it poke it, reverse it. Remember the have an excuse (I was out of my head).
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by the down time.
  • Research a new project or product that you have wanted to try. (Today I spent a couple of hours reading about a programming environment I might need to know for a new client. Geeky I know)).

Note: If it’s Mission Critical put it aside. It will take longer to fix if it more borked.

Bridge (St Augustine) Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR ISO 200 f/11 10 seconds at 55mm

And just relax, take a nap, get better, and work at keeping yourself healthy.