Belvedere – Tuscany


Our most recent tour was to Tuscany and Venice Italy. The last time we were there, we were told about an iconic view called Belvedere. This year, with the help of our hired drivers, we went right to the spot only 10 minutes from where we were staying. On our first attempt, there was no ground fog, however, after checking the weather, it looked like the next morning might provide fog. We decided to make another run at it and were rewarded. It was one of those mornings where you didn’t want it to stop! Yes another image that might make it into the lifetime category.

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New Zealand – MT Cook

I mentioned in my last postthat I was distracted on my way to the “Lifetime Image,” This was what distracted me. I loved the sky, fresh snow on the mountains and the mossy foreground with the big rock. I chose to make the mossy foreground look like snow in the conversion as I felt it added the contrast necessary to make it pop. Remember to click on the image to make it bigger.


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Lensbaby Velvet 56 – Initial thoughts.

UPDATED 6-15 with 1/2 stop of 2.4 added…

I just got my Velvet 56 from Lensbaby and I’m in love. This is not your typical Lensbaby lens.  This is, well, here is what they have to say. “Our Velvet 56 classic portrait lens gives you a velvety, ethereal start with a smooth finish, from the big picture to the smallest details. Bringing modern-day simplicity to the carefully crafted build and look of mid-20th century portrait lenses, this 56mm f/1.6 manual portrait and macro lens evokes an experience like no other. Embrace the moment as you easily go from capturing gorgeous, radiant environments to intimate details in the same scene.”  

I decided to do a quick and dirty test. I set up some fading roses on the dining room table. There are two windows to the right of the roses giving me soft natural diffused light. I set up on a tripod and took the following images. If you’re after the soft dreamy look 1.6 to 2.8 is pretty great!  f/4 to f/8 starts to lose that look but still look great. UPDATE: On Facebook Jack asked if there was a stop between 2.0 and 2.8 as there is a pretty big difference. I set back up and fount it to be VERY EASY to create a 1/2 stop between 2.0 and 2.8 for 2.4ish. No there is no click, however, there is a lot of travel between the two and the tension on the f/stop ring made it very easy.  So Jack, yes there is a stop between 2.0 and 2.8

The lens is much more robust than I was expecting. It borders on being heavy actually. Very solid build with silky smooth focusing. The f/stop ring has positive clicks and works as to be expected. It is a fully manual lens. On my Fuji I set it to Aperture Priority and it does a good job of giving a proper exposure. I simply need to adjust the compensation dial to tweak the exposure. Remember to change your menu item to “shoot without a lens.” Otherwise it will not work. I would also suggest that Fuji X-T1 users use the split screen manual focus set up along with focus peaking. This makes it very easy to focus. At f/1.6 it becomes so dreamy that it can be hard to focus. In this case, simply stop down to f/8 as it will be much clearer. Once you achieve focus, dial in the f/stop (dreamy look) you desire. I can see this lens becoming an integral part of what I do. Great for both grand children portraits and macro work.  It will focus down to 5″!

If you want to buy anything Lensbaby, (including the new Velvet 56) and you have attended a workshop/tour/lecture of mine, send me an email for how to save 10%.  Lensbaby now makes mirrorless camera mounts for the Velvet 56, Composer Pro and Fisheye.  This includes Fuji, Olympus, Sony and a few others!  Now everyone can join in the fun!

More to come as I do more testing.


_DSF9003 _DSF9004JHB-9012 _DSF9005 _DSF9006 _DSF9007

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If you’re looking for photography based education, this is a really good value. Click anywhere on the notice below to learn more as well as who is involved. The deal is good for 11 days starting on the 14th.


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Lifetime images


Ansel Adams said, “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”  Look, I understand Ansel was using a big honkin’ (I believe that was the brand) camera with huge sheets of expensive film (whatever that was) so he probably didn’t pull the shutter unless it was pretty good. We on the other hand have endless free pixels to burn and thus are a bit more liberal in our shooting and create a lot more lousy images. You might think our “hit” or “keeper” ratio would be higher, I’m not sure. I wonder though, is Ansel’s number of 12 significant images per year still valid. I guess it would depend on what you consider significant? I’m of the mind that 12 is still a pretty good number, at least for me. I mean images that rise to the level of significant.

I consider today’s image to be one of my 12 for this year. Something I now refer to as a lifetime image. An image that rises above the ordinary and that might be part of a book of lifetime images at some point.

The image was made in the Mount Cook area of New Zealand at a Glacial Lake. I almost didn’t go to this spot. I was distracted by another scene (coming soon) and leery about climbing down the loose rocks to the lake area. And then someone said, “you really should take a look.” I’m sure glad I decided to give it a look!

I should note that I used a Singh-Ray 5 stop Mor-Slo filter so I could achieve a 10 second exposure to smooth out the water. For you mirrorless shooters, I have purchased a Lee Seven5 filter system for use with square or rectangular filters. I have been hand holding my split grad filters and finally decided to be more careful about it.  With the Seven5 built for smaller mirrorless cameras, I can now use my split grad and a Mor-Slo together to achieve the looks I want in a small portable package. What I love about Singh-Ray is, not only do they make great filters, they will and did make a custom size just for me!  For the Lee system I needed 75mm wide filters and wanted them to be square or almost square. I called Sing-Ray and they happily cut them to size at no extra charge. Remember you can save 10% on Singh-Ray filters by using the code Barclay10 at checkout.

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When I travel to Cuba, I look forward to seeing my friend Pablo. I have spoken with and photographed Pablo each time I’ve been to Cuba. Last year, I had the humbling experience of being invited into his home. It was an experience I will never forget. One that gave me a deeper understanding of what poverty looks and feels like. One that reminded me of how blessed I truly am. This year, I learned the sad news that his wife passed away last July. It was apparent that Pablo was heartbroken as he spoke of her passing. He looked to have aged greatly since our visit last year. As we spoke, he shared that he did not think he would make it much longer himself. He has a number health issues and I got the impression he is losing his will to live. It will be sad to return to Cuba and not see my friend Pablo. I am grateful for the lessons he has taught me.

For fun  I have added a third picture below that was taken on my first trip in 2012. Yes, I believe he is wearing the same shirt and hat 3 years later. It is also interesting to see the difference time of day and reflected light make on the tonality of the 2012 image.






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Fonthill Revisited

I have hosted a few camera clubs at Fonthill this spring. On one visit, I brought my camera and a new attitude. Inspired by my friend Dan Sniffin, I decided to leave my gear downstairs and be open to something that might catch my eye as I wandered the Castle. In other words, I was not looking for something to photograph, rather I was going with an open mind and no expectations. I wanted to allow something to call me to be photographed rather than force it to happen. I was called by these four situations and feel I was successful with each. A pretty good hit ratio, four scenes four “keepers.”

About the images. I’ve photographed the vessels with my iPhone, but never with a “real” camera. A triptych seemed like the right creative choice. I’ve photographed the room with the wonderful chair, but never this way. The chair is my favorite in the castle, so I focused the attention on it opting for a medium telephoto lens versus my normal wide angle choice. The items on the desk were newly added, they called to me, I responded. Finally, the shadows on the stairs is something I’ve walked past many times. This time the scene turned my head, I responded and got my camera. 





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Wanaka Willow

The Willow in the water at the lake in Wanaka is iconic. On our morning at “the tree” it started out slow. It was not looking like we’d get any magic light, however, once again patience paid off!  For a few minutes just before calling it a wrap we were rewarded with a blast of gold light while the clouds lingered!  It might be iconic but my goodness was it exhilarating when it happened! Lots of happy dancing going on this morning!

It was hard to pick just one, but here it is!



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Lake Matheson


This is a classic view of Lake Matheson. It is about a two mile hike but worth it. The path is lush with the ubiquitous fern found at every turn. A storm was brewing as I made my walk to the lake. When I arrived, I could hear the thunder closing in. I waited anxiously for a little blast of sun to light the trees. It came but lasted for about 30 seconds. This was the best I could do as I really wanted to get back before I got drenched! I just barely made it! Others were not so lucky.

I’m posting a B&W version below. Was not quite sure about it. Curious what you think? It is a tighter composition.



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Telephoto Sky

I have to come clean, for a guy who is sometimes referred to as “Skyman,” I missed it. Yup, I missed a really good sky shot. Dan on the other hand nailed it! When he showed me, I almost killed him. Well not really, but pretty darn close! So, when this situation revealed itself on a different day, I made sure to get it. The lesson? I was so focused on capturing wide angle images that I lost track of other possible right answers like a telephoto sky. Always good to be reminded, thanks Dano!


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