Why Choose Fuji?

Because they listen.

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I mean really listen.

When customers request new features, they listen by releasing a constant stream of firmware updates to both new(er) as well as existing older model cameras.

I’m not just referring to adding these new features to future models either. Besides image quality, one of the things Fuji is known for is the constant release of firmware updates. More often than not these firmware updates are designed to add new features such as better and faster autofocus performance to existing models.

Not just for current models either, they are known to add new features or improve performance in older models as well.

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Who else does that?

When most other manufactures seem hell bent on forcing you purchase the newest model in order to get the latest list of features, Fuji is content keeping their customers happy by improving older models as well as the newest high end models. My guess is they know that by treating their customers right and keeping them happy those customers are highly likely to upgrade to the newer models at some point anyway.

Case in point the camera that started my journey with Fuji, the Fujifilm X-Pro1.

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I purchased mine used back in October, roughly four years after its initial release. Known for great image quality though having autofocus performance that can generously be described as glacial, the X-Pro1 was and still is a great camera. However even with the release of the much improved X-Pro2 on the immediate horizon, the engineers at Fuji still saw fit to release at least one more firmware update in an attempt to improve the autofocus performance of this great little camera.

Even my current camera, the Fujifilm X-T2 which shares top of the line billing with its rangefinder style sibling the X-Pro2, has received two firmware updates since I bought it back in October.

Looking back to my time with Canon I can think of only one or two times, if that, that a firmware update was released, not one of which added a new feature of any kind to the cameras.

So if great image quality in a small package that’s built like a tank isn’t enough for you to consider buying one of the many great Fujifilm cameras, getting a few new features added to it long after you bought it just might.

Oh yea, those firmware updates, they’re free!

Waterfall Photography Workshop #1


As we welcome spring I’d like to announce the first of several waterfall photography workshops I’ll be leading throughout this spring and into early summer.

From the afternoon of Friday May 19th thru Sunday evening May 21st I’ll be taking a limited number of participants to some of my favorite waterfalls located throughout the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Each day we’ll start off bright and early photographing at least 2 waterfalls each morning. Following the mornings outing we’ll take a mid day break for lunch and some image review.

If time allows during the mid day break we will also go over some post processing tips to ensure your finished images are works of photographic art you’ll be proud to show off.

Then in the afternoon we’ll head back out for some more flowing water action.

What’s Included. 

Guiding to some of the most spectacular waterfalls New Hampshire has to offer.

Instruction and tips on composing your waterfall images as well as camera settings to help achieve the silky ethereal look of the flowing water sought after by most waterfalls enthusiasts.

Image review and post processing tips using Lightroom and the Nik Collection of creative plugins(available for free HERE).

What’s Not. 

Meals and lodging.

Transportation to and from the North Conway, NH area.

What To Expect, What To Bring. 

The workshop will take place rain or shine, with overcast drizzling weather my preferred weather for photographing waterfalls due to the nice even lighting that will make achieving good exposures a breeze. With that in mind, keep your fingers crossed for cloudy days!

All the waterfalls we’ll visit will require some walking and light to moderate hiking, so comfortable and supportive shoes with good traction are recommended.

Bring several layers, including a rain jacket, as the weather conditions can vary greatly in the mountains.

Recommended Gear List. 

Camera and wide-angle zoom lens.

Circular polarizer.

Tripod.

Lens cloth.

Spare batteries and memory cards.

Investment – $750 (payable via check or PayPal invoice) 

A $150 deposit is required to reserve your spot with the balance due at least 30 days prior to the first day of the workshop.

Space on this workshop is limited. By limiting attendance to a small number of participants I’m able to provide the maximum amount of individual attention. 

CONTACT me should you have further questions or to reserve your spot. 

DISCLAIMER:  Workshops are held rain or shine with no refunds given due to inclement weather. However should the weather be severe enough to warrant cancellation full credit will be given towards a future workshop. Credit based on amount of time lost due to weather. Loss of at least one full shooting day required to receive credit. 

CANCELATION POLICY: Cancellations made more than 30 days prior to the scheduled start date receive a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee. Cancellations made less than 30 days prior to the start date will receive no refund unless the space can be filled. 

I do realize that sometimes life gets in the way, so should a last minute cancellation be necessary on your part you’re not out of luck. Your workshop fee(less the $50 cancellation fee) may be applied to a future workshop. 

The Art Of Seeing Differently. 

Been There, Done That. 

Now do it differently.

The world is full of iconic locations that have been photographed extensively, Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire, especially as seen from this bridge, is one of them.

The challenge for me was to come away with an image that wasn’t a cookie-cutter copy of many of the other images, including many of my own,  taken at this scenic, very recognizable, and oh so often photographed place.

To do this required seeing differently.

How could I capture the essence of this beautiful view, ensureing the recognizability of one of  New Hampshire’s most iconic scenic vistas? Composition, choice of aperture and focus point, thus affecting the depth of field and final image, were all questions I had to answer prior to pressing the shutter.

With this image I believe I’ve captured one of the most recognizable and most often photographed mountains in New Hampshire in unique way. Has a similar photo been made? I have no doubt there has. As the saying goes, “there’s nothing new in art.” My goal was not to reinvent the wheel, my goal was to see the mountain in a way I had never seen it before.

See the mountain, then, see it differently.

 

Below is are several ways I’ve seen the mountain in the past. 

 

The (Fujifilm) X-Files

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Gray barn with red door, overlooking mount Chocorua, New Hampshire winter scenery

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Sorry folks, no Mulder and Sculley here, the X-Files I’m going to be talking about have nothing to do with aliens or government conspiracies. These X-Files are the gorgeous straight out of camera jpeg files I get from my Fujifilm X-Series camera, the 24mp X-T2. 

Anybody who’s considered purchasing one of Fujifilm’s outstanding X-Series cameras has no doubt heard about the quality of the in camera jpegs. As an avowed (former?)RAW shooter, to say I was skeptical would be an understatement. I just couldn’t believe that a straight out of camera(sooc) jpeg could possibly match a processed RAW file. 

How wrong I was!

Dark shadowy stairway in an old brick mill building.

Acros

The straight out of camera jpegs, especially when utilizing Fuji’s film simulations, are fantastic and have greatly reduced my post processing time because I’m getting finished images when I press the shutter, no further post processing required. 

My personal favorite film simulations are Acros, for outstanding black and whites, Velvia, for rich landscapes, and Classic Chrome, which gives me a cool retro look to the image. 

Am I really done with RAW?

 
Not quite yet, at least not when it comes to commercial work. But I’m close. For critical work I’ll still shoot in RAW+jpeg so I have the RAW file as backup just in case extensive editing is needed for highlight recovery or white balance adjustments. Still, since making the switch from Canon to Fuji 80-90% of the images I’ve shared on my fan page have been the jpegs and not processed RAW files. 

Smiley face graffiti in wooden frame on a brick wall

Classic Chrome

WYSIWYG. 

Two additional features of the X-T2 that help make the jpegs so good right out of the camera is the live histogram displayed both in the electronic viewfinder (EVF), and on the LCD on the back of the camera. This takes the guesswork out of setting exposure since you can easily see how adjustments to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are affecting exposure. 

The next feature is the ability to set the camera to display the effect your chosen film simulation has on the final image before you press the shutter. Looking through the viewfinder is truly a, What You See Is What You Get moment. 

So that’s it, a few of the many reasons I’m loving my new Fujifilm camera and the X-Files it produces. 

Sleeklens, Lightroom Workflow Made Easy(er).

Finish your photos faster.

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About a month ago the good people at Sleeklens asked me if I would be interested in trying out some of their workflow products for Lightroom and Photoshop. I figured anything that could speed up my workflow was worth trying, so I agreed to take a look at their Through the Woods collection of presets and adjustment brushes.

Due to the hectic Holiday Season being upon us this is just a brief overview and my initial impressions. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review.

First a few words of disclosure. I am not in any way affiliated with, nor do I receive any monetary gain from using/reviewing/promoting their products, however I was provided the Through The Woods workflow bundle free of charge.  

Tools to help speed up your landscape workflow.

The Through the Woods bundle consists of 50 landscape presets and 30 adjustment brushes that can greatly speed your image enhancement workflow.

The presets are divided into 7 separate categories, All-In-One, Base, Exposure, Color Correct, Tone/Tint, Polish, and Vignette. The majority of the presets are stackable, allowing you to globally add effects to your photos.

The 30 adjustment brushes ranging from Add Golden Sun to Darken Shadows can be used to further enhance your images in a more selective fashion by controlling the size and opacity.

The results speak for themselves.

Below are a few before and after images, none of which took more than a few minutes to go from the straight out of camera before to the finished after.

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Before

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After

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Before

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After

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After

Even though I haven’t had a chance to really dig into these presets and brushes, so far I’m impressed with the results I was able to get with just a few clicks and a few brush strokes.

For more information on the workflow products offered by Sleeklens you can visit them at the following links.

Through the Woods Workflow  This is the one I used for the above images.

Lightroom Presets Here you’ll find a complete collection of the workflow products offered by Sleeklens.

Image Editing Service If you’re too busy to enhance your own photos, or maybe you’ve got a photo you’re having a problem with, let the experts at Sleeklens handle the task for you with their image editing service.

The last word, for now.

As with any other Lightroom presets the presets offered by Sleeklens don’t all work perfectly on every image. Once applied you may need to go to the adjustment panel and play around with the sliders a bit in order the fine tune the preset to each individual image.

Are they worth it? To that I answer your question with a question, what is less time behind the computer worth to you? The Through the Woods collection sells for $39, and based on the time I can see the presets saving me is quite a deal.

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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