Category Archives: Fuji X-E1

Favorites for 2013

Each year as I look back through my images, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people I was able to share my passion with.  To all who came on a workshop, a tour or attended a lecture, thank you!  You have enriched my life.  I am also reminded of the amazing places I was able to see.  2013 brought me to Cuba, Iceland, The Palouse, Charleston, New Hampshire, Death Valley, Cape Cod and Cape May!  Wow what a year!

I’m looking forward to 2014 where in addition to the tours  I do with Dan Sniffin,  I will be co-leading a special workshop in Hawaii  with with National Geographic photographer Jonathan Kingston  and guest lecturers Dewitt Jones and Rikki Cooke .  Look for our official announcement in January.  The workshop will be in early December.

Here are some of my favorite images from the past year.  You’ll notice I’m drawn to varied subject matter which includes the Palouse, my granddaughter Abby, the gentle waves of the dunes, the warm people of Cuba and the wonderful Experience Music Project building in Seattle.

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Be the Light

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Be the light.  No really, be the light.  Oft times we hear the masses exclaim, “its all about the light”, and they would be partly right.  The quality of light is something we need to be keenly aware of.  However, the light I’m speaking of is your own.  The light we see is one thing, the light we bring to the act/process of image making is another thing.   Ansel Adams said it this way, “You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, and the people you have loved.”  Freeman Patterson says “The camera points both ways.” It sees what it sees but is also a reflection of you. Your light if you will.  By the way, this includes the bad mood you’re in, feeling tired, feeling overwhelmed, the argument you just had with your spouse, etc, etc.  The energy from this kind of light may or may not be a good thing.  It depends on how you choose to use it and what type of images you are making.  Just know that your light whatever that is, will become part of your images.

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2014 Workshop Schedule Posted

Today, I have posted what I will be doing for my personal 2014 workshops. There is also a page for the TOURS I do with Dan Sniffin, I keep them separated.  I’m particularly excited about the Cape Cod workshop in September with Betty Wiley.  With the success of the last two Cape Cod workshops with with Jeff Lovinger based in Provincetown, I decided to move to the Lower-Cape for some different scenes.  Take a look at Betty’s work you’ll understand why.   Of course I’m heading back to Fonthill and will continue to do the Pocono’s in the fall.  Take a look at the WORKSHOP page for more information.  On another note, Tony Sweet and I will be taking another group to Cuba in January of 2015.  If you are intereted in going, please send an email and I will add you to the list to be contacted.

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This image is of the old abandoned pier in Provincetown.  We were headed out for an afternoon shoot and never made it out of the parking lot.  The sky was screaming to be photographed.

Perspective

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Last week was a very good week.  On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak to a very receptive group at a well organized meet-up in Plymouth MA.  Thank you Amy Davies and Betty Wiley for organized this and doing a great job.

Next, I went to Cape Cod to meet with Jeff Lovinger for our long weekend workshop.  We had a bit of rain and lots of windy weather, however, this group was TOUGH and we had a grand time!

As usual, I managed to snap off a few keepers during the weekend.  I just love these old day cottages and could not resist another shot at them.  This time, I had my trusty Fuji X-E1 with me and placed it on the ground for a unique perspective.  The stormy weather and blast of good light all made this moment work.   Funny, but with the big Nikon, I would never have thought to do this…. but with the smaller Fuji I did.  This is part of the draw of that little camera.  For whatever reason, the smaller, lighter camera seems to liberate me.  I find myself shooting a LOT more with it and trying things I might not normally try.  A new perspective!

The Fuji X-E1 and 14mm lens at Fonthill

The last two Sundays I was leading groups at Fonthill.  As these were not my workshops, I had a chance to snap a few images with my Fuji X-E1.  All images shot with the Fuji 14mm 2.8 prime lens. The last image is a 5 shot HDR capture processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.

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One More

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Fuji X-E1 – 55-200mm

In my last post I said, “at first blush there seemed to be just one composition, just one shot, the wall of color, however, that is almost never true.”   The lead image in today’s post came after being mesmerized by the wall of color, working that scene AND THEN looking for something else.  It pays to stay in a location for more than a few minutes.  If you are still and allow it, more images will present themselves.  Don’t be so quick to move on to another location. And look, there was a vertical composition too!

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Fuji X-E1 – 55-200mm

A comment with regard to the comments that were shared on my last post.  With the exception of one, all liked the tighter square crop best.  If you recall, I said I presented three right answers, however, most settled on one they preferred.  What does this mean?  First, I would suggest if you had never seen the square crop you would have liked one of the other image just as well.  In addition and probably more importantly, I believe it cements the idea that it pays to work a scene that you are drawn to.  As you simplify the scene, leaving behind just the elements that matter, while eliminating all that don’t, typically the image becomes stronger.  I think that is exactly what happened with that last post.  Folks were drawn to the neat tidy composition more than the others.

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While shooting with Dewitt Jones one time, I was struck by how patient and willing he was to stay with a subject.  He found thistle in a field as the sun was setting and stayed in that spot for almost 2 hours.  He never moved, he was invested in that moment.  He was drawn to this particular scene and was willing to stay and work it.  I remember his wife Lynette saying, just move on if you wish, he will be there for awhile!  She knew that he would be happy alone, working the scene.  I remember thinking, what on earth does he see?  I don’t see a thing! Was I ever wrong, the result of his patience was brilliant!  

For the processing of the lead images, I used a diffused glow technique.

More than one

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Not far from our hotel along the Androscoggin River is a magnificent wall of color.  At first blush there seemed to be just one composition, just one shot, the wall of color, however, that is almost never true.  So again, like the last post, I submit what were for me, three right answers.

All images taken with the Fuji X-E1 and 55-200mm lens including the square which was shot in-camera as a square.  This is another feature I really like about my Fuji’s.  I can even shoot square and B&W while not losing the original full frame RAW capture. 

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Fog in the Valley II

Another from the Hawk Watch area when leading the Johnstown Workshop.  I pointed out this great moment to the gang and quickly snapped one myself.  I’m a sucker for this kind of scene.0915_Johnstown_1734matteFuji X-E1, 55-200mm at 200mm, ISO 400, F/9

 

 

The Fuji X-E1 & Fuji X-Pro1 and why I love mine

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Cape May with Fuji X-E1 and 18-55 lens.  Singh Ray Mor-Slow 10 stop filter

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Fuji X cameras I’ve been using.  I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts on why I went with Fuji and have both the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 along with the X100.

I was getting tired of lugging 40 lbs of gear in a backpack.  I was intrigued by the “mirrorless” revolution and started to investigate what was out there.  The Sony left me cold, feeling more like an electronic device rather than a camera. The Olympus is a micro 4/3 sensor and I wanted at least APS C.  I wanted the bokeh and performance that a bigger sensor would provide.  That said, the new Olympus is getting rave reviews for its performance.  I think Michael Reichman said it best in his recent review, “MFT used to mean some compromises when it came to image quality, but those days are past. Only the most neurotic pixel peeper will find anything to kvetch about with files from the Olympus E-M1 and its contemporaries.”  

 

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X100 with Soft Release and Thumbs Up

After much research, I settled on the retro looking X100, a dedicated 23mm non-interchangable lens camera. I admit, I fell for its retro looks and unique and highly regarded dual optical/EVF viewfinder.  It has its quirks such as slow focus speed, however, when I opened the first file of a family that asked me to photograph them for a Christmas card, I was ASTOUNDED!   The color, tones and sharpness of the images were truly breathtaking.  

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I was hooked and excited to see what Fuji would do for an interchangeable lens version of the X100.  They came out with the X-Pro1 but is was a bit too pricey for me.  I waited a bit longer until they released the X-E1 and got it with the 18-55 lens. Then recently with the price falling by $600.00, I decided to get the X-Pro 1 as well. I should note that the X100 has been replaced with the X100s and is arguably the best camera in its class.  Why both the X-Pro and X-E1?  Because, I wanted a backup body for trips where I’ll be taking just Fuji gear. (see comment on Cuba below)  And I wanted the availability of the optical view finder that I loved in the X100.

What are the differences between the X-Pro 1 and X-E1?  Essentially there are two that really matter to me.  The X-Pro 1 has the patented and amazingly good dual viewfinder.  With the flip of a lever on the front of the camera, you can switch between the optical (rangefinder style) viewfinder or the EVF (Electronic View Finder)   The X-E1 has just the EVF.  That said, it is a better EVF than the PRO.  By removing the optical view finder the E1 is a smaller camera.  The other major difference is the ability to use an electronic cable release.  The E1 has this capability while the Pro does not relying on the old style plunger style release that fits into the shutter button.  The sensor is identical and the image quality virtually the same on both cameras.  I have big hands and like the feel of the Pro better.  There are a few other small differences. The E1 has an adjustable diopter in the view finder and the Pro does not.  On the pro you will need to purchase diopters separately.   The E1 has a built in flash where the Pro does not.

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X-Pro 1 with Thumbs Up and Soft Release

 

There are three essential accessories that you should consider should you purchase one of these cameras.  First, the Thumbs Up from Match Technical.  This gives your thumb a place to rest and makes the camera more secure in your hand.  While on the Match site pick up a Soft Release.  You might think these are purely cosmetic and they are cute, however, they really provide a function in that you can squeeze a shot off with less camera shake making hand holding lower shutter speeds easier.  Next, pickup a Gordy’s Leather Wrist Strap, the best $18 you’ll spend. I also purchased the Sling.  Last, if you’re going to use your tripod or even if you’re not, I would highly recommend the Really Right Stuff grip that doubles as an “L” bracket.  Not only does this make using the camera a breeze on a tripod, it makes the camera fit in your hand perfectly.  Everyone who tries these has come to the same conclusion, The camera feels just right with the Thumbs UP and the RRS grip.

Lets talk lenses for a minute.  I stared with the 18-55 “Kit” lens.  This is no ordinary kit lens.  It is image stabilized and produces great results throughout the entire range.  I also have the 55-200 and was honestly expecting to be a little disappointed as I’ve come to love my “big boy camera” 70-200 2.8 lenses.  While the 55-200 does not quite have the bokeh that the 2.8 Nikon does, again I was stunned with the IQ of this lens.  Fuji is expected to announce the 10-24 anytime.  I’m guessing PhotoExpo in October.  This will then give you an effective range of 15-300 with these three lenses.  In addition too the stellar stable of quality zooms, Fuji keeps coming out with very high quality prime lenses.  I own the 14mm 2.8, 35mm 1.4 and the 60 2.4 macro and plan on getting the 23mm 1.4 as well.   Each of these lenses fall into the excellent category.  The 60mm received poor reviews early on until Fuji addressed the poor focus speed with firmware updates.  This leads me to comment on firmware updates.  Fuji has done an incredible job of responding to customer feedback rolling out a number of firmware updates to both the body and lenses.  Each time Fuji has addressed issues and frustrations.  Most recently Fuji has added focus peaking to the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 via firmware.  Being responsive to customer feedback is a big plus for Fuji! 

Fuji has always been about color with great emulsions (thats film for you young kids) and they have nailed color in each of these cameras.  In fact, I’ve never shot JPEG’s opting for RAW files.  I shoot both now and often use the jpeg with no processing, they are that good.  I have always shot in sunny or daylight white balance, not with Fuji, I shoot AWB, why?  Because once again Fuji nails it.  I mean even with sunrise and sunset colors.  AWB is crazy good on these cameras.  What about high ISO you ask?  GREAT! I’ve been shooting at ISO 3200 with minimal noise.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan. Will the Fuji cameras replace my Nikon cameras and lenses?   Not yet, however the more I use them, the more I don’t miss my Nikons.  As my buddy Tony Sweet recently wrote, 40 lb. back pack, 7 lb. shoulder bag?  40 lb. back pack, 7 lb. shoulder bag???   So where does the Fuji fall down? High speed shooting, sports for instance or bird photography, probably better for the DSLR.  Inclement weather might be better with my sealed Nikon.  Other than that, I’m thinking Fuji.  

Tony and I will be leading another group in Cuba this coming January, all I’m bringing is Fuji gear.  This is where these cameras shine.  Their small size is so much less intimidating than the big DSLR’s.  And of course the light weight will be very much appreciated!

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X-E1 and X-Pro1 with Gordy’s Strap, Match Technical Thumbs Up and Soft Release and the Really Right Stuff “L” bracket grip

These cameras have made photography fun again!  I love the retro look, feel and especially the image quality. And their size allows me to always have one with me.  Anxious to see what they come up with next!

Here are some excellent links should you want to learn more. 

Zack Arias  Why he ditched his DSLR gear.

Tom Grill   Comparing the X-Pro1 an X-E1

G Dan Mitchell – A solid and thorough review 

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Always have a camera handy.

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As most of you know, we are blessed to have my granddaughter Abigail living with us along with her Mom and Dad.   Abby is so much fun and always finds her way into my office.  I am forever putting my hats on her hoping to capture a cute moment.  Yesterday I was able to make this one capture before she took the hat off and moved on.  I’ve been trying to get a “great” shot of Abby for months!  She is fast and the light in my office is always a challenge, typically too dark for a fast enough shutter speed.  That said, I have not been deterred and ALWAYS have my Fuji X-E1 handy.  

I recently purchased the 35mm 1.4 lens and had it wide open at 1.4 for this capture with the ISO up to 1600.  And lo and behold, MAGIC happened!  So the moral of the story is, have a camera ready, pre-visualize an opportunity and be prepared, you never know what might happen.   For me, these new mirrorless cameras are making photography spontaneous and fun again.  Their size makes it so there is no excuse not have a camera with you.  And the quality of the images from the Fuji X-Trans sensor is nothing short of amazing.  I am grateful that I had my camera sitting on my desk for this shot!

So, what about you?  Are you looking to join the mirror-less revolution?  Sony, Olympus and Fuji are all offering great cameras.  I’d be interested to know what folks are doing.

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For processing I brought up the crazy good Alien Skin Exposure 5 for the B&W conversion and then blended that back in with the original at 60% opacity for the third look.  The lead image is a straight out of the camera jpeg shot in the square format.

One last thought, I’m trying a new plug-it for WordPress that allows me to add these click to tweet boxes making it easy for you to share content that you like.  We live in a social media world and I would appreciate your sharing if you feel so inspired.

Click here and use the code JBW0913 for a 10% discount on any Alien Skin Software.

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