The X Factor.

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I’m done with Canon.

After a long run and many great experiences, I’ve parted ways with my Canon cameras and lenses. This is something that I never thought I would do. I loved the image quality I got from every Canon camera from my first 40D to the 5D MkIII that until recently had been my workhorse camera. There was almost nothing I didn’t like about Canon.

Almost.

The one downside was the size and weight of the camera and lenses. As you know I photograph locations here in New Hampshire that require long hikes on steep terrain miles into the mountains. The big DSLRs and lenses was really starting to weigh me down.

Still, I hadn’t really been considering a change.

It happened on a whim.

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The beginning of the end, the Fujifilm X-Pro1.

It was a spur of the moment purchase that, while I didn’t realize it at the time, was the beginning of the end of my days with Canon.

I just happened to be scrolling through the latest items up for sale in a used photography gear swap/selling group I belong two on Facebook, when I came across a Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the XF18-55 “kit” lens.

Up until this point I had only been vaguely aware of Fujifilm cameras. My good friend Joe had one of their X100 series cameras and was producing great images with it. Other than that I knew nothing about them. With a trip Disney coming up, in the back of my mind I had been thinking a small camera that offered more control than my iPhone that wasn’t as big and heavy as my Canon cameras would be nice to have. The price was right, so thinking this might be a great little camera to carry with me for 10 days in Disney, I contacted the seller and worked out a deal.

Love at first sight.

Up to this point I had never even seen a Fujifilm camera up close, so when the X-Pro1 arrived I was shocked at how tiny it actually was compared to my 5D MkIII. It was almost cute by comparison. I loved the size of it though. The Fuji X-Pro1 with lens attached weighed about the same, maybe even less than my smallest and lightest Canon lens, the EF17-40 F/4L.

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I never took a side by side photo of the X-Pro1 and my Canon, so here’s a side by side comparison of my Fujifilm X-T2(which is actually a little bigger than the X-Pro1) and the camera it replaced, the Canon 5D MkIII.

 

The only thing that concerned me about this little camera was the fact that it’s a rangefinder style camera. Instead of looking through the lens like on a DSLR style camera the X-Pro1 has an optical viewfinder to to the left of the lens that when you look through you actually see the side of the lens in the viewfinder. That was definitely weird at first and took some getting used to.

Thank goodness for the internet, because while waiting for the camera to arrive I was able to do a lot of reading up on how to use a camera style quite different from my DSLR made by a company who’s gear I have never used before. Good thing too since the camera didn’t arrive until the day before we left for our Disney vacation!

Hints of things to come, and things to go.

On our fist day in the Magic Kingdom I decided to bring the Fuji and leave the Canon back at the hotel. After having lugged around a big heavy DSLR for the last 8+ years I have to say carrying the X-Pro1 was an absolute joy. It was so small and light that I almost forgot I was carrying it.

Over the next 10 days I only reached for my Canon twice. Both times I was wishing I had left it back in the hotel and took the Fuji.

Sensor size and image quality.

Yes, I did “downgrade” from a full frame sensor size in the 5D MkIII to an APS-C, or crop sensor, camera. To be perfectly honest I never have and still don’t feel I needed a full frame camera. Not once have I ever looked at any of my earlier photos and thought, “Gee, that would have been so much better had it been shot on a full frame.”

What about noise? What about it? Noise doesn’t concern me in the least. As Rick Sammon likes to say, “If a picture’s so boring you notice the noise, you’ve got a boring picture!” One thing I will say regarding noise, from my totally non-scientific comparisons I feel the going on 5 year old X-Pro1 handles noise better than the 5D MkIII. And the X-T2 that is now my main camera body is lightyears ahead of the X-Pro1 in technology so I expect even better high ISO performance.

Below is a slideshow of a random sample of images I captured using the Fujifilm X-Pro1. I shot everything and nothing in particular, but I was very pleased with the results I got. Enough so that as soon as I got home I ordered the X-T2 and sold off all of my Canon gear.

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Magical Chaos.

Main Street USA, Magic KingdomThe Sights. 

The Sounds.

The Magic.

The Crowds. 

Chaos in the Magic Kingdom(and other Disney Parks too!). 

 

Water Wet

H2O

For this week the Weekly Photo Challenge theme is good old H2O. As a landscape photographer water is the prevailing theme in many of my photographs. When looking through my photos trying to decide which photos to include in this post it appears that roughly three quarters of my photos contain water in one form or another.

Here are a few wet examples, followed by a few tips for making your own watery photos.

 

Tips for photographing the wet stuff.

1 ~ First and foremost, use a good quality circular polarizing filter, or CPL. If you only ever buy one filter make sure the CPL is it. It’s the one filter that cannot be duplicated digitally. They’re great for reducing or eliminating unwanted glare and reflections from wet rocks, leaves, and the surface of the water, thus allowing you to see through the surface of the water to what’s on the bottom.

2 ~ Don’t be afraid of a little rain. Most camera, whether they are listed as “weather sealed” or not are quite capable of withstanding a sprinkle or two. I always carry a small pack towel in my camera bag on the days I venture out when theres wain in the forecast.

Speaking of towels, dab don’t wipe the water off of your camera. Wiping could force the water into places that won’t make the camera happy.

3 ~ If it’s raining out use a lens hood to help keep raindrops from landing on the front element of your lens. Even when using a lens hood you should check the front element often and carry a clean microfiber lens cloth to wipe away any raindrops.

4 ~ When photographing water in its frozen form be sure to acclimate your camera slowly when you bring it inside after being out in the cold. The condensation that can form on, even worse in your camera again won’t make your camera very happy. I use two methods to deal with this. One is to put your camera in a large ziplock bag. Force as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing it. This way condensation will form on the outside of the bag, not your camera. The second is to simply put your camera in your camera bag and close it up, this is the method I use most. The padding on the camera bags act as insulation allowing the camera to slowly acclimate. Of course take your memory card out before hand so you do’t have to wait to upload your masterpieces.

Note: Tip #4 also applies to taking your camera from an air conditioned space out into hot humid weather.

You Have To Be There!

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Why Do My Landscape Photos Still Suck?

You’ve bought a new camera, spent a boat-load of money on it too. You’ve studied every last thing you can find on how to use it. You can change camera settings like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture pretty much blindfolded. You’re a master of your new toy.

However your photos are still missing something. Ok, lets be honest, they’re boring.

Be There And Make Them Better.

Here’s my super secret tip that is guaranteed to take your photos from Ho-Hum to Oh My!

Over the dunes and to the sea. Parker River NWR.

 

It’s so simple you’ll wonder why you never thought of it.

Are you ready for it?

Sunrise Over Glacial Striations, Fort Foster, Kittery, Maine

 

You Need To Be There When Mother Nature Is Showing Off!

It really is that simple.

 

You know your camera inside and out, you have at least a basic idea of how to compose a decent photo, so what else is missing?

The right light. Dramatic weather. Both at the same time! These are the things that can add greatly to the quality and impact of your photos.

This means being on the seacoast for sunrise at least 30-45 minutes prior to actual sunrise. So sleep becomes a casualty in your pursuit of great photos. No more showing up at 9 a.m. to that scene you’ve seen in so many photos and wondering why your photos don’t even come close.

It means long early morning hikes in the dark so you can be on that mountain top for sunrise or equally long and dark hikes down after sunset. Better get a good headlamp. Make that two, just in case.

It also means freezing your butt off and often coming away with nothing because the forecast was way wrong. It means getting rained on because you gambled, and lost, on the sun coming up before the approaching storm clouds reached the horizon to block it out. You will get blown by high winds. You will suffer.

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And when you make that amazing dramatic photograph, you’ll forget all of that. You’ll only remember the light, the drama, the magic.

Morning Gold, Hampton Beach, NH

Somewhere right at this moment Mother Nature is putting on a show, are you missing it?

 

Fantastic Fall Foliage Workshops

 

Capture Autumn In New Hampshire.

Due to last years overwhelming demand I will be leading two Fall Foliage Workshops this year in the beautiful picturesque White Mountains of New Hampshire, home of some of the most spectacular scenery and “leaf peeping” to be found anywhere.

Dates.

This year the workshops will be held the weekend of September 30th – October 2nd and again the following weekend, October 7th – 9th.

What’s In Store.

During each of these 2+ day workshops we will travel the White Mountains and north country of New Hampshire in search of the best fall color and scenic views. From waterfalls bordered by the reds, yellows, and golds of a New Hampshire autumn, to scenic mountain vistas overlooking remote mountain ponds, you’re sure to come away with many colorful autumn images.

Friday evening there is a short meet and greet and if time allows we’ll get out and get some photos! But not too late as we will have two very full days of photography ahead of us on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday morning we will start out before sunrise in order to capture the best morning light. After each mornings shoot we will return to the White Mountain Hostel were we will have an image review and post processing session, going over the mornings photos. After the image review session there will be a couple of hour mid day break to relax, recharge, and get a bite to eat. Then we will meet at the prescribed time for the afternoon/evenings shoot.

After a good nights rest, we will do it all over again on Sunday.

What’s Included.

Transportation throughout the White Mountain area for the duration of the workshop, where I will take you to some of the most popular, with good reason, White Mountain locations, as well as many off the beaten path “secret” places.

Tips, tricks, and techniques for capturing beautiful fall foliage images. Workshops are kept small with no more than 3 participants so I’m able to provide the best and most personal instruction possible.

Daily post-processing/image review session.

What’s Not.

Transportation to the North Conway, NH area.

Meals and lodging. For lodging I highly recommend the White Mountain Hostel in Conway for its clean rooms(several of them private), friendly staff, and extremely budget friendly rates. For those not interested in the “Hostel experience,” there are numerous lodging options in the North Conway area. I do recommend booking your lodging early as rooms fill up quickly, especially during the second workshop weekend which falls on the Columbus Day holiday weekend.

Your Investment.

The cost for these 2+ day workshops is $725.

For more information, cancellation policy, or to reserve your spot use the Contact Page.

Wrong Place, Right Time.

Summer Shower

 

I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression about “Being in the right place at the right time.”

Recently I had an instance of being in what turned out to be the wrong place at what turned out to be the very right time.

While out on a commercial shoot for a high end landscape design company I had been given directions to a lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee here in New Hampshire. As it turns out the directions were extremely vague, the house wasn’t numbered, it was located on a small unpaved camp road, and the road I was supposed to be on was chained off at one end. Based on the description I was given, “XX number house, on such and such road. New construction, boat house, guest house,” and with a bit of searching, eventually I was pretty sure I found the place.

To make a long story short, I was partially right, the new house and boat house were part of the property. The “guest house” was not(even though the color scheme/style matched the boat house almost exactly).

As Luck would have it the view from the beach and dock at the wrong house was quite spectacular!

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*Note: I do not advocate trespassing in order to get a photograph. Regardless of how spectacular the show going on over the lake was at the time, had I known I was on the wrong property at the time I would have left to look for a view from the correct property.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

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To capture the details it pays to get close.

Among the many water lilies covering the waters surface I knew this was the one. Since It was raining the morning I took this I knew I wanted to get close in order to capture not only the detail in the flower, but to accentuate the raindrops on each petal.

For this shot I had to wade out into the water almost waist deep, not an uncommon occurance, and set up my camera and tripod directly over and looking down on the flower.

Then came what may be the most difficult part of photographing water lilies up close and personal like this. And that is standing still, very still. Because even the slightest movement on my part would cause ripples on the waters surface which would then impart movement in the flower.

For this shot I use my Canon 5D MkIII with the Canon 70-200 F/2.8L IS II with a 25mm extension tube between the camera and lens, which allowed me to achieve a much closer focus than I otherwise would using just the camera and lens.

Camera Settings: F/16, 175mm, ISO 400 for 1/50 sec.

Click here to see more Weekly Photo Challenge: Details