• Why Fuji?

    Why Fuji?

    Life is too short to settle for second best. My wife and I have been testing out a saying this year, “No second best options,” as a mantra for ourselves making life decisions. Let us all strive for what is best in life. Now, with cameras, it’s often complicated. We get involved, or more aptly put, entangled in lens systems and often habit-influenced brand loyalties, and we don’t always choose what’s at the very top of our list. Now, for sure, there are economic factors that keep us from shooting whatever we might want. If that weren’t the case, I’d be blogging about my GFX 100s, to the tune of $9-10k for one camera body and one lens. That’s a grip!

    I’ve been using Canon and Fuji for the last few years, Canon mostly for my professional work, and Fuji for my personal photography. However, in the summer of 2022, I had a realization: life is too short to shoot with a camera you merely like. I used Canon for everything and trusted it for my client work. I called it a workhorse, and I relied on it. The relationship was transactional. I used the camera; it delivered images that clients liked. However, I kept using Fuji, in fact, more and more, because I simply loved how Fuji cameras – the X-T4, the X-E4, the X100v, the GFX100s, the GFX50R – rendered light. There was something delicate and fleeting in the images – something very similar to how light, if you really watch it carefully, study it, changes from moment to moment in a place, throughout the day.

    The photo below is natural light, from the apartment window, which faced north. It’s soft, and the gradient behind the dog on the wall, is partly why the photo draws me in to the subject. But it’s also the shape of the chair. The tendril of a framed piece of art on the wall. The shoulder and hair of the dog’s owner, Betsy, who is sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, while the dog sits in the chair.

    Pearl. A dog I met in Newburg, NY. Fuji X100V.

    I’m getting more demanding of myself as I mature – and routinely ask myself: do I love this image? Do I? Not will someone else like this image, and not will this image get a lot of likes, love or play online, but does it satisfy something artistically for me. Does the image represent what I sought to capture in the moment? So, that’s a type of accuracy to the vision or memory of the moment. But there’s something more than accuracy, which may be enough all by itself. An image that is beautiful is interesting, and that can be for a handful of reasons: it provokes curiosity, it subverts expectations, it envokes nostalgia, it confuses, it produces longing, it angers, and more.

    A wood rocking chair. Chipped and abandoned. In the loft of a barn built in 1869.

    This photo above works because the chipped white paint of the rocking chair pops against the dark background of the barn’s loft. But it’s also the echo of the chairs slats in its shadow on the wall. It works also because of the composition – more than half of the image is basically indecipherable blackness, and only in approximately the right third can you even make out the texture of the wood flooring. And everything in the photo is wood. And the texture is rendered not by detail, but by various levels of contrast, of light and dark.

    I don’t believe that a photo, typically, tells a story. The term “storytelling” – not to be too melodramatic! – is overused and abused. Photographers may have embraced, in recent years especially along with the rise of social media, calling themselves “storytellers” and accepted the inference that an image tells a story. Stories have beginnings, middles and ends. Photos – as they represent one moment – can show one of those three, and imply others, but photos are usually limited to one point: a beginning, a middle or an end. I believe that an image should aspire to convey an emotion, on top of a moment. And that will bring the viewer in. This photo above has joy in it. From the smile, the twinkle in the eye, to the warm colors and tones.

    Workshop in late afternoon sunlight.

    So, we have talked about a few things that make a beautiful image, and really only one of those – how light is rendered – seems tied to shooting a specific brand of camera, in this case Fuji. Composition is universal. Good, bad, strong or weak, composition is in every photo shot by every camera brand. Emotion should be delivered in every image. Echoes or repetition can be in images from any camera brand. Light, dark, contrast – these are all elements of exposure that any image can have. So, what role does Fuji play? Why Fuji?

    The stories that need to be told are not easy, not simple, and not clear. And to tell difficult, complicated, and confusing stories well, you need subtlety. And for me, I choose Fuji because of the gentle, tender nature of the way it handles light.

    The images on this page speak for themselves. All taken with the Fuji X100V, summer 2022.

  • Oh Hey, O’Hare

    Oh Hey, O’Hare

    Fuji X100V

    A moving runway. Colored panels of lights. Auto-generated piano music. A fleeting experience. Shot in Kodak Color Negative film recipe, but I used the in-camera raw conversion to change the film recipe to Velvia and I warmed up the temperature to 5700 Kelvin.

    I like the out of this world dreamyscape look.

  • Truck for Sale

    Truck for Sale

  • Shopping in Ojai

    Shopping in Ojai

    It all starts with something that sparks your imagination.

    It’s a color, or it’s a shape. Maybe it’s a texture.

    Something beckons, come inside.

    Treasure promised. Exploration.

    Meet new people.

  • Down at the River

    Down at the River

    Rain came and bloated the little creeks in the Ojai River basin.

    We explored until sundown.

    The Pacific Blues Film recipe with the Cinebloom 5% filter brought a warm glow to these shots.

  • First shots with 40MP X-T5

    First shots with 40MP X-T5

    Here we go… All shots Nostalgic Negative film simulation. Auto everything – Shutter speed, ISO, Aperture. E/V – 1&1/3. TTartisans 27mm lens.

  • Portra Film Recipe – for the Win

    Portra Film Recipe – for the Win
  • The Surprising X-M1 + 56mm F/1.2 Lens Combo

    The Surprising X-M1 + 56mm F/1.2 Lens Combo

    This combo is not fast. For one, the lens – the new 56mm from Fuji – is not equipped with a linear motor as many of the newer Fuji lenses are; it bears a DC coreless motor. While it’s not quite as noisy and clunky in its focusing movements as older DC coreless motors, it’s still not up to the quiet linear motors we are coming to expect from new Fuji lenses. For two, the camera is an old camera model – originally released in 2013 – and while it’s a mirrorless model, it doesn’t offer have the newest autofocus capabilities like eye-tracking, doesn’t have a touch screen, and doesn’t offer an optical viewfinder, just a few features that can speed up the process of picking up an subject and snapping a well-exposed, in-focus image.

    Another hurdle of the X-M1 compared to modern mirrorless cameras is that it doesn’t offer a preview of your exposure and white balance as part of the live view on the back screen. However, once you half-press the shutter button and the camera gains focus, then the back screen will give you a preview of the exposure. So, at that time, you might want to adjust your exposure settings and try again. The image above was shot indoors in a dimly lit entry space of the Millard Sheets Art Center and I had to snap off a few exposures before I had everything dialed in. Fortunately, this couple, attending the Kwanzaa event, was patient and waited for me to get the shot together.

    This combo works, when the photographer is on his or her game and the exposure is dialed in, and I would chalk that up to a pleasing way that the camera renders skin tones and textures, coupled with the gentle and pleasing bokeh of the background. I asked the DJ for the event (brother of the event organizer, Chara) to pose for a photo and I love this shot so much! One, he’s charismatic and friendly. Two, this looks like a shot from a movie with the smooth, even rendering of light on the face – even though this was taken directly in harsh midday sunlight.

    In monochrome mode with the black and white film simulation selected, the portraits come out sharp and pleasing. These three images really pop with the contrast of the skin tones against the light colored plaster walls of the courtyard behind them. The skin almost has an airbrushed quality to it, yet when you zoom in, the image retains the details of the skin’s texture, just rendered softly and without a lot of contrast so the skin appears super smooth.

    The 16 MP sensor, a first generation or X-Trans I sensor, really complements people’s skins. I love the friendly smiles of these two participants, complemented by the soft lighting of the covered patio.

    I love the natural, engaged smile from one of the event’s presenters as she chats with another attendee during a break. Again, pleasing skin tones from the X-Trans I sensor, and a soft, gentle rendering of the background from the 56mm lens.

    Finally, a couple of shots of event organizer, Chara. She did a great job organizing all the resources from speakers, musicians and vendors to bring this annual event to the community, and I loved being a part of it as the event photographer, documenting this part of the life of the community.

  • GFX100s Panoramas at San Simeon State Beach

    GFX100s Panoramas at San Simeon State Beach

    Golden light at dawn, hitting the waves.

    These shots are jpg format, straight out of camera, taken with the Fuji GFX100s camera and the 63mm GFX F/2.8 lens, using the Ektachrome film recipe from Fuji X Weekly.

    One shot taken straight at the exploding surf. One shot taken down the beach across the forming waves.

    Same scene. One shot is more aggressive and one is more calm. Yet, both are images of the same power of the ocean.

  • Band Photoshoot with Fuji X-T1, X-M1, X100v & X-S10

    Band Photoshoot with Fuji X-T1, X-M1, X100v & X-S10

    Starting the new year off with a bang for a quick photoshoot in downtown Pomona with the band Odoheedah.

    Every shot here is straight out of camera. The Fuji X100v features the Big Negative Film Look film recipe. The X-T1 features the Classic Kodak Chrome recipe. The X-M1 features a monochrome recipe I made up and on the color images from the X-M1, I just used the image straight out of Capture One with the default color profile that C1 placed on the X-M1 raw file. The X-S10 was completely flat with the Eterna film simulation.

    We worked our way down the block trying out a variety of poses and backgrounds.

    They have good chemistry as they are brothers, can be serious and bored looking in one moment, and laughing and joking in the next.

    We took some photos inside The Social Cut barbershop (shout out to Steve, the owner, for lettting us!). We also took some photos inside Delicious Freedom, a fairly new ice cream shop downtown. The front of the Fox Theater is always a good backdrop.

    I used 4 Fuji cameras on this shoot. Overall, the favorite photos from this shoot came from….the Fuji X-T1 and the 13mm Viltrox lens with the Classic Kodak Chrome film recipe.

  • Why Buy Another Fuji Camera?

    Why Buy Another Fuji Camera?

    I picked up a used Fuji X-T1 on January 2, 2023. It’s not even a week into the new year and I’m buying cameras. Not a new camera – a 9-year-old camera model. Interesting start to this year. Actually, I bought two other used Fuji cameras in December 2022: the Fuji X-M1 and the X-S10, released in 2013 and 2020 respectively.

    This post is not necessarily about camera technology or image quality but it is about the exact question posed in the title. What are some reasons to pick up a second or third Fuji camera, if you already own one? Particularly older models. I can think of at least five reasons.

    1) Different sensors create different images. The 16MP X Trans I sensor in the X-M1 will create unique looking images compared to the other Fuji cameras. I am interested to see the images the X-T1’s 16 MP X Trans II sensor produces. This can inspire different perspectives and ideas when holding the camera and composing images.

    2) Different camera bodies feel different in the hand and will cause you to shoot differently. Lighter and littler cameras can inspire different shots than heavier, wider or bulkier cameras. One is not better than the other. But different sources of inspiration can produce different results. And more variety of inspiration can expand your repertoire.

    3) Megapixel differences or limitations will cause you to – or allow you to – compose differently. Knowing an image will not hold up to pixel peeping actually informs how you compose and shoot. If you are not concerned primarily about the resolution, clarity and sharpness, you may be okay with introducing some motion blur, some high ISO grain, or other artifacts that might be contrary to those first three concerns.

    4) Different film simulations (or lack of film simulations) can provide different inspiration. The X-M1 has only 4 film simulations so I find myself choosing monochrome more often than not just as a compositional tool. The X-T1 has 6 film simulations and doesn’t have Eterna or Classic Negative which are two of my go-to film simulations from the X100v and the X-T4. So I’m going to adapt and choose different film simulations based on what’s available and I will see what’s in my frame differently.

    5) Appreciation. Expanding your experience to older Fuji cameras helps you to understand and more fully appreciate what cameras like the X100v, the X-H2s and the GFX100s offer. You can start to sense – in a new and different way – the innovative development of the new Fuji cameras. Did you see the price difference in the X-T1 and the X-S10 when they were introduced? $1299 vs $1000?!? Newer, more technologically advanced cameras are entering the market at a lower price point. Buying older models, simultaneously cheaper than buying newer models, also – in sort of an imaginative reverse engineering user experience experiment allows you to better grasp what exactly the newer cameras are offering that wasn’t available in the past. And with more appreciation comes maybe more respect and maybe new reasons for choosing a particular camera for a certain scene, subject or event.

    And sometimes the limitations of the past provide helpful creative choices and inspirations moving forward.