Photography: As Shot – Colorful Tom Turkey

NOTE – “As Shot” photographs are some that I have posted on Instagram, but without any unwarranted imposed crops, less detail reduction and more of an explanation.


On the road near Hereford, Arizona with storm clouds closing in

Tom shows his colors when is around the hens – Happy Thanksgiving – 2017!

On a hiking trip to Brown Canyon in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, southern Arizona, we were treated to a display by this Tom Turkey who was parading around in front of two hens.

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Metadata

File Name: turkey_tom_0597.CR2
Capture time: 2:26:46 PM
Capture date: April 12, 2014
Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 25.065mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

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Photography: As Shot – Storm Brewing – Hereford, AZ

NOTE – “As Shot” photographs are some that I have posted on Instagram, but without any imposed crop, less detail reduction and more of an explanation.


On the road near Hereford, Arizona with storm clouds closing in

On the road near Hereford, Arizona with storm clouds closing in.

We were on a bird watching and hiking trip to southern Arizona near Hereford and Sierra Vista, when we were returning from hiking in Coronado National Memorial. Storm clouds began to close in on the area creating a dramatic scene.

Read more about Coronado National Memorial

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Metadata

File Name: 2369_sierra_vista_20150709
Capture time: 2:50:18 PM
Capture date: July 9, 2015
Exposure: 1/800 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 5.33mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

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Photography: As Shot – The Mittens

NOTE – “As Shot” photographs are some that I have posted on Instagram, but without any imposed crop, less detail reduction and more of an explanation.


East and West Mittens at Monument Valley, Arizona

East and West Mittens at Monument Valley as storm begins to roll in

Several years ago we visited Monument Valley. The only camera I had with me was a simple 8MP Canon PowerShot AS590 IS, but I think I was still able to acquire several fine photographs to document our visit.

The picture above is of two structures referred to as “mittens.” a name derived from the fact that they look like two giant mittens when viewed from certain angles.

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Metadata

File Name: 8834_mv_mittens
Capture time: 3:04:22 PM
Capture date: September 10, 2012
Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 9.9mm
ISO: 80
Camera: Canon PowerShot AS590 IS
Lens: 5.8-23.2mm
Edited in Lightroom

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Photography: As Shot – Fall Colors


Fall colors of leaves - Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

This is the time of the year when certain areas are transitioning between fall and winter and much of the fall color is now gone. In the desert we don’t have a dramatic change of season. When we want to get a sense of fall, we head north to one of our other favorite areas.

The picture above was taken at the West Fork of Oak Creek, just north of Sedona, AZ. While the post on Instagram doesn’t show the entire frame nor the degree of detail, I thought this was a season-worthy photograph to share with the additional clarity and explanation.

File Name: DSCF0045.RAF
Capture time: 12:01:07 PM
Capture date: November 9 2015
Exposure: 1/80 sec @ f/6.5
Focal Length: 215m
ISO: 100
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

  • Read more about hiking the West Fork Trail, HERE
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The WOW factor in Landscape Photography

When it comes to photography, I am a generalist. I like capturing photographs of a variety of subjects such as insects, interesting buildings, unusual signs and landscapes. There are others as well, but I must say that my favorite is landscapes.

What makes landscape photography most challenging, at least for me, is that we can be in a “wow” place and it is hard to capture the essence of what it is that we are seeing that forces us to say “wow!” The human eye can see much more than a camera and we tend to take in the colors, lighting, broad composition and put it all together in the mind’s eye to achieve that Oh-My-God feeling.

One of the photographers I follow, Erik Wahlstrom, has created an insightful video (below) which may cause us to rethink what is included in the landscape genre. He also uses one of my favorite Ansel Adams quotes about landscape photography. I have certainly felt the sting of disappointment amidst my landscape photography efforts.

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams


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Watch the Video!

 

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©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017



Fuji X T-2: The Magic of Beginnings

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” — Meister Eckhart

You might have read about my near horror story in a previous blog post, Fuji X T-2: When Support Helped Save a Vacation, but all turned out relatively well after the close call. This was my first major expedition with a nearly brand new Fuji X T-2 and I was anxious to see how it would perform.

I haven’t had a “state-of-the-art” camera in nearly fifty years. I had been using point-and-shoots with only a moderate interest in photography. I was generally a documentarian. I am now embarking upon the development my creative eye.

“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

When we arrived in Portland, Oregon, the air was acrid and ash was falling from the sky and landing on our luggage due to the surrounding wildfires. We acquired an automobile and headed toward the coast. By the time we arrived in Astoria, OR, the sun was low in the sky; a saturated light grey. Little did we know that the coast was often grey and/or foggy.

One of my favorite photographs from this trip, was the very first one I captured in Astoria at the end of our first day. Our room was very near the Columbia river and the Megler Bridge. The area was, therefore, a waterfront and had many of trappings expected in such an environment.

As I looked outside the window of our room, I could see several boats that were in disrepair and in dry dock. The lure of these boats was probably the same as that which brings photographers to abandoned buildings. These boats were old and may not have been “sea worthy,” but they had character.

The sun was getting lower by the minute. I grabbed the camera and walked to the area with the retired Ladies of the River. One boat in particular caught my attention because it was stately even when adorned with decay.

I took a couple of pictures with the hope that I could capture the essence of the evening and the feeling I had standing next to this once dignified, yet working class boat.


A river boat in dry dock along the Columbia River, Astoria, OR

My first attempt with the X T-2 on our trip to the Oregon coast

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Metadata

File Name: DSCF0045.RAF
Capture time: 5:24:45 PM
Capture date: September 5, 2017
Exposure: 1/750 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 100
Fujifilm X-T2
Lens: 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
Edited in Lightroom

Fuji X T-2: When Support Helped Save a Vacation


Picture of boat in OR out of focus

On my very first major trip with my new Fuji X T-2, I had a problem. It is hard to tell, but the boat is not in focus.

We recently returned from a hiking trip along the Oregon coast. This was in the planning stages for well over a year and it was the main reason, I purchased my new camera, a Fuji X T-2. JBRish followers know that I have taken the camera out for a few spins, but I did not have extensive experience with it prior to our departure.

I don’t recommend this protocol, but I live in the Sonoran Desert where summer temperatures are quite hot so I only made a couple of forays with the new camera. Naturally, I had plans to take other cameras to serve as a back up in case disaster hit and I couldn’t use the X T-2.

You might think that the word disaster is an overuse of the term, but for a photography hobbyist with their first advanced camera, disaster can come in many shades and so I needed to be prepared and glad I was to have made such plans.

After an initial, very brief evening walk to take a couple of photos (more about that in a later post), I was anxious to begin our walk around Astoria the next day to take some snaps with the new camera. Unfortunately, the weather had not improved and the day remained completely overcast and grey. Not great for photographs, but I wanted some photos for the blog and I hoped to concentrate on some subjects that were not too sunlight dependent and would allow me to write about this part of our Oregon experience.


Picture of birds on the beach in OR out of focus

Nothing appears to be in focus even though I used a very small aperture, i.e. f/14 (+/-).

I took a number of photographs, but in doing so, I must have pressed a function button or something. The almost brand new Fuji X T-2 stopped autofocusing. I believe I was trying to use the AEL or AEF buttons and I might have pressed some strange combination that included other buttons as well. I just don’t know. what I did know was the autofocus would no longer work. The green square did not snap into place as I half-pressed the shutter button and was AWOL for many attempts. As you might imagine, this was very disconcerting.

I tried using manual focus and focus peaking, but with the little experience I had with the new camera, this was not much help either. I continued to try to use the X T-2, off and on, but I could tell the camera was not focusing accurately most of the time.

I relied on my other cameras from this point forward. I did have the X T-2 reference manual and user’s guide for the camera. I began to change or modify settings that had taken me hours to initially configure. With trial and error and reading the manuals, I still could not get the camera to respond appropriately.

My thoughts were: 1 – Did I royally mess up something and break the camera?, 2 – Will I need to send it in for repair? and 3 – Is there any way to get the X T-2 back in working order for the remainder of the trip?. Remember, this was my very first day of our hiking/walking vacation down the coast of Oregon and then to Crater Lake.

Since we were in the middle of our exploration of Astoria, I put the Fuji into the bag and decided to stick with my other cameras for the remainder of that day. This was my backup plan which would still provide good documentation of our day’s experiences.

The next day we were off to hike in the state parks along the shore. Once again, I took the Fuji with me trying to use it a couple of times with no more success than the previous day. What was I to do? There was more than a week left of our trip and I wanted to use the new camera.


Picture of ship in OR out of focus
The ship was not in sharp focus. Take it from me, the letters on the ship are blurry.

We often knock those companies that don’t put the consumer first, but rarely do we read or hear stories of those manufacturers who treat their customers well and provide resources to help them use their products. Well, kudos to Fuji!

I called Fuji’s help line from the car at the state park. It was rainy and drizzly. I was put on hold for a while, but it seemed like forever. In reality, it was only a few minutes. Then Steve answered the phone and listened to my situation. We checked the settings I had which seemed fine to him as they did to me. Understanding that we didn’t want to waste time, Steve offered a solution I had also considered.

We decided to reset the camera back to the default settings. Once we accomplished that, he instructed me to take a few photos, check that the autofocus was working and review the pictures to see if they were recorded appropriately.

Sure enough, the camera was back in order and seemed to be working as desired. I thanked Steve and was glad that I could easily call Fuji and get this assistance. I am glad to report that the camera worked well for the rest of the trip and I was very careful to avoid inadvertently pressing function buttons, etc.

Thanks to Steve and to Fuji for helping to salvage my photographic exploration of Oregon. It was a great relief!

The picture below is the first picture I snapped after the camera reset. It was raining so we were sitting in the car while I was on the phone. The green focus box was back on the screen and the camera was working as anticipated.


Picture of car after focus was reset

Takeaways

  • I was prepared for this mishap by bringing several cameras on the trip; especially since the Fuji was so new to me. It would have been total disaster (perhaps) had I relied solely on the X T-2.
  • On prior hiking/photography trips, I had taken a computer with me to examine the photographs each evening to assure that the camera was working correctly. I didn’t bring the computer this time, but wish I had.
  • It is important to support companies like Fuji that provide resources to help their users resolve issues as easily as possible. No company is perfect, but obviously some are more consumer oriented than others. I have read about Fuji’s support of their base for a couple of years and this helped to confirm my choice of selecting one of their cameras.
  • Until you learn how to use the camera very well, be sure to have access to the reference manual and user guide. I made sure I loaded copies on to my iPhone and iPad. This provided a sense of comfort and helped me several times during the trip when I needed to review settings or procedures.
  • Modern cameras are actually computers and they are not infallible. It is nice to have a number of function buttons, wheels, dials, etc., but they need to be “respected” and understood.
  • The X T-2 can save custom settings. Saving the settings so they can be easily restored at a later date would be a step in the right direction when assisting in recovering from a problem like the one I encountered.

NOTE – This article is not aimed at knocking other camera manufacturers and to suggest that they do not offer the same type of support that I received from Steve at Fuji. They very well might the same service(s), but I have never had experience with them.

What I am trying to explain is how well Fuji handled my immediate problem and to extend special appreciation to Steve who made sure my camera was back in working order before he ended the call.

Thanks again Steve and thank you Fuji!

 
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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017



Fujinomics – X T-2 and Polarizing Filter

B&W

Those JBRish readers who have been following my photography exploits, know that I recently purchased a Fuji X T-2. Until a couple of weeks ago, I did little more than take some test shots and “getting to know” the camera photographs.

That changed on September 5th when my wife and I left our Sonoran Desert home and headed for the coast of Oregon with plans to visit Crater Lake before heading home. I learned a great deal about photography in general, my new Fuji X T-2 and my Nikon D3300. Needless to say, there was a whole lot of learning going on.

With the understanding that I was heading for the ocean and lake, I wanted to purchase a polarizing filter for the X T-2. I think anyone getting involved with photography has ambitious plans/dreams and I am no different. My intent is to grow my Fuji system to include some of the telephoto lenses. Research indicated that the lens(es) in which I had some interest (FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR – for example) take a 77mm filter size.

My X T-2 has the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom kit lens with a 58mm filter thread. Naturally I want to minimize my expenditures and maximize the use of equipment I own or will soon own, so I immediately thought of purchasing a 58 to 77mm step up ring to use the filter on a number of lenses.

One of my concerns was the problem of vignetting around the edges. I called Fuji and asked if I used a polarizing filter with a 58-77mm step up ring on the 18-55mm kit lens would I experience vignetting. The Fuji techs didn’t think so. I then called the online photographic equipment retailer and asked their sales assistant and I received the same answer. Not being satisfied, I also called the filter manufacturer’s US office and they too indicated that they thought vignetting would be unlikely.

With those assurances, I purchased these items:

B&W 77mm Circular Polarizer MRC Filter and the B&W 58-77mm Step-Up Ring

You might be wondering why I selected this particular filter… These filters received very good reviews from those who have purchased them. These are not inexpensive filters. They are manufactured in Germany which has a reputation for quality photography products and engineering. Lastly, this particular filter was recommended by a professional photographer I follow online. Purchasing any equipment is never a “sure thing,” but with all of the above, I figured the deck was stacked in my favor.

Naturally, as soon as I received these accessories, I took them outside and shot a few frames with them and I did not see any vignetting on the sample images taken at a variety of focal lengths being sure to capture some with the lens fully extended and fully retracted. Based on these trail shots, I was fairly confident that the prospective filter and step up ring would meet my requirements.

I am recently back from the trip and I have only previewed the shots taken with the polarizing filter and step up ring and, at first glance, I don’t see any vignetting. This was a learning experience for me as I was able to spend significant time with the X T-2 and polarizing filter combo.

HERE ARE SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • I wasn’t prepared for the surface area on a 77mm filter. It is HUGE.
  • I wasn’t prepared for the amount of dust and other “things” that were attracted to the filter.
  • I was prepared with my Giotto Q-ball (Rocket Blaster) and I was glad I had it. I used it every time I took the camera out of the bag. BTW, this was one of the best purchases I ever made regarding my photography gear; reasonably priced and used every time I use my cameras!

Giotto Q-ball blaster

  • I was prepared with a good number of lint free, microfiber cloths made specifically for cleaning camera lenses.
  • I was pleased with the beautiful rendering of the colors with the camera/filter combination.
  • I was surprised at how much light can be “lost” by using the polarizing filter at one of its stronger settings. When I use the word surprised, I don’t actually mean surprised because all the literature pointed to the reduction in f-stops, but I didn’t appreciate how much of a difference it would actually make in situations where there is not strong daylight.

** NOTES ** – I did not purchase a lens hood to fit on the lens with the polarizing filter because of my concern about the vignetting. I am going to try to find a lens hood and appropriate lens cap to help keep dust off of the filter.

I previously explained how I like to have a tethered lens cap and let me just say that had my lens cap not been tethered, I would have dropped it numerous times and perhaps lost it. This is my issue since I have a particular shooting style re: hiking as I shoot! You can read about my tethering of the Fuji lens cap in this article:

Fuji X T-2: Making the Lens Cap Stay Put on the Kit Lens

I will write more about my photographic exploits with my X T-2 and other gear. Check back for more articles and if you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below.

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Photography Quote — 20170904

Today’s Photography Quote


“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.”
– Jay Meisel
– Original Photograph ©Jeffrey B. Ross –

 

NOTE – As residents of the Sonoran Desert who like hiking, encountering snakes is nothing new for us. This photograph was taken in Cave Creek, AZ along one of the trails at the Jewel of the Creek preserve. shortly after this sighting, we came across another rattlesnake and turned back because we had young children with u.s

Jay Meisel’s quote reminds us that if you are interested in photography, you have to be out there taking pictures to find interesting subjects and events.

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Photo Meta Data

File Name: IMG_1960.CR2
Capture time: 3:13 PM
Capture date: March 30, 2015
Exposure: 1/500 @ f5.6
Focal Length: 83.27mm
ISO: 200
Canon Powershot SX50 HS

*Edited: Lightroom with text added in Preview (Apple Software)

 
See previous STATUS QUOtes Photography Quotes HERE


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otographs

Fuji X T-2: Improving LR Post Processing Process

My Fuji X T-2 experience is moving right along and I am learning new things almost on a daily basis. I haven’t had an extended shoot yet, but I will have one soon. In the meantime, I have been experimenting and becoming accustomed to all the controls and settings available to me. I can sense now that it will be difficult, with just a bit of knowledge, to take a bad picture. Naturally there will be newbie mistakes, but no more than to be expected when learning any new system.

Before I get to show you some of my first pictures, I want to discuss an issue I knew I would encounter…

I have the camera set to
capture both JPEGs and RAW files. With two card slots, this is really pretty easy. I am not sure I will do this all of the time, but I thought it would be good to try this as I started on my journey to learn the X T-2.

I discovered that the JPEGs are rendering very well, but when I examined the RAW files, they didn’t show the detail that I can see in the JPEGs. I know the camera is working accurately because the JPEGs are right on.


NOTE –
I live in the desert so the photos are of an area near my home. This was a test run just to try out a new polarizing filter so understand that the images may be over saturated, etc. as I am learning to adjust the polarizing effect as well as how to use the camera.

This is the JPEG straight out of camera (SOOC).


JPEG straight out of camera (sooc)

Here is the RAW image, also with the polarizing filter, straight out of camera (SOOC):


RAW straight out of camera (sooc)

I don’t know if you can see a big difference between the two. On my 27″ monitor in LR, there was a noticeable difference.

Here are the two shots after I applied my “regular” (Nikon, Canon) LR settings. JPEG first then RAW.



JPEG



RAW

They were relatively close, but on my larger screen when the images are in LR, I could tell the JPEG had more detail.

Here is a 1:1 enlargement of a section of each picture just to give you the idea. JPEG first then the RAW image (both after similar LR enhancements).

NOTE – All enlargements are screenshots taken on my legacy iMac which produces PNG files.



JPEG



RAW

If you look closely at the clouds, the spines of the large cactus (saguaro) on the left of the frame as well as the tree branches, I think you will note there is more detail in the JPEG. I wish I was better at presenting this.

Here is a similar comparison with a 3:1 enlargement. JPEG first then the RAW image (both after similar LR enhancements).



JPEG



RAW

I knew the detail from Fuji files was an issue with LR. If I hadn’t read about this prior to my purchase, I might have been panicking at this time, but I was prepared.

I wanted a Fuji because in my mind, they put the photographer first. They have demonstrated their dedication to providing the best user experience by offering, free effective firmware updates. These not only correct glitches that might arise, but historically, they have extended the usefulness of the Fuji cameras. Yes, Fuji was the system I wanted even if I had to modify my workflow.

I began to search the Internet for potential solutions to help me generate more detail that I knew were in the RAW files. There seem to be a number of good alternatives. One that I found to work for me, at least at this point, was offered by Jim Harmer of Improve Photography via a video/podcast.

Based on Jim’s suggestions, I adopted the settings below as my starting point in addressing my Fuji files.

These adjustments are made in LR’s Detail Panel as I import the files. I created a preset to do this on import [all of these are, of course, (+/-) according to personal taste ]:

  • Amt – 40
  • Radius – 1.5
  • Detail 80 – 84
  • Masking (if needed ) 45-48
  • I also found that using Provia Standard (Camera Calibration Panel OR Pro Neg. Hi) gives me a look I like for my photos; your mileage may vary.

    NOTE – To anyone who has worked with LR, it is understandable that the above settings are not going to work with every file right out of the gate. Each file will need to be tweaked as necessary moving the sliders until the best rendering is achieved. I use the above as a starting point for my Fuji files and then I move to my other regular settings under the Basic Panel. I go back and forth between panels to achieve the desired result. This is really nothing different than I do with my other files and now that I have the preset for importing the Fuji files, it isn’t difficult.

    Here is the Improve Photography video that helped me:


    Thank you Jim!

    Finally, below are both the JPEG and the RAW file after all of the processing in LR. I have to issue a disclaimer — I have been using LR for only a year or eighteen months and I am the first to admit that my skills are not that of an expert. I am just trying to pass along what I am learning in an effort to help others who can benefit from the information.





    I am satisfied that I have increased the detail rendered in my RAW files to match or surpass the Fuji-generated JPEGs, but I am not done yet!

    NOTE: If you want to delve a bit deeper into the extraction of fine detail from Fuji RAW files, I suggest you read SHARPENING X-TRANS FILES IN ADOBE LIGHTROOM. Pete Bridgwood has done a great service for the Fuji community by constructing a detailed procedure which I intend to use to help me modify the parameters set forth above. He offers a way to build several presets for landscape photography along with much background material and other ideas! It will be well worth your time if you are interested.

    Read more photography posts HERE

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    All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

    ©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017