Back…With a some Light Painting

YES – It has been ages since I’ve made a blog post. Not since March 29, 2016 !.

Keeping the details for the long delay for another time, it is thanks to a creative light painting project by Adrien Barrieau (Through the Glass Photography) to get the ball rolling. These images were created using light tubes, in the style of Eric Pare. The models are Inemesit Essien Graham and my daughter Amelie.  Adrien is created the visual effects, while Helen Barrieau and I did the photography. 

   

Inemesit Essien Graham – under the northern lights.

Wat Chedi Luang, Chaing Mai Thailand

Any visit to Thailand must include a tour of the Buddish temple of Wat Chedi Luang in historic Chaing Mai. Construction of the temple started in the 14th Century, and was not completed until the mid-15th Century. In 1545 an earthquake caused the collapse of the upper 30m of the 82m high structure. In the early 1990’s the Chedi was reconstructed financed by UNESCO and the Japanese government.

 

Yes – These are ‘typical’ tourist photos. There isn’t any human connection, just pictures of scenery. My only excuse is that this was at the start of a 10 month adventure, to Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Nepal, Turkey, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  The cultural differences between my native Canada and Thailand were, to say the least ….Enormous. At this stage in my adventure, I was simply overwhelmed – and did not have the courage (the ‘balls’) to interact with the local people. That did change – and within a few weeks I had the courage to photograph people on the street, and even to use hand signals – pointing at them, and then at my camera to indicate that I wanted to photograph them. Once I had this courage, my photographs improved, the image had life, had a personality.  

It just took a bit of courage…

 

All photographs taken using a Fujifilm X-E1 with XF14mm lens or XF55-200mm, and Fujifilm X-Pro1 with XF18-55mm

Sunrise on the Mekong is full of life an full of color

Sunrise on the Mekong is full of life an full of color. Even before the sun rose over the bridge over the Mekong River at Kampong Cham Cambodia, the fishermen were out in their tiny boats.

 SHSA3969x2Photographed with a Fujifilm X-Pro1, with XF55-200mm. Exposed at 1/350 f/13 ISO400

SHSA3920x2Photographed with a Fujifilm X-Pro1, with XF55-200mm. Exposed at 1/30 f/13 ISO400

SHSA3972x2Photographed with a Fujifilm X-Pro1, with XF55-200mm. Exposed at 1/350 f/14 ISO400

December 8th, 2014, 6:17am. 

Two and half years with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1

Welcome to a blog post about my experiences with a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1 and X-mount lenses while traveling through 10 countries between September 2014 and July 2015. This is not a hands-on review – there are already tons of reviews online, and, both the X-Pro1 and X-E1 have already been replaced by the X-Pro2 and X-E2 respectively.

For the past 10 or so years, I have been a hard core Nikon gear user – with two full frame DSLR’s (D-700’s) and a range of lenses from ultra wide angle to 400mm. From experience, I always travel with a 3 to 5 lenses (or more) and when on extended travel, or to challenging environmental conditions – I always bring two cameras; one as a backup in case one is dropped, or malfunctions, and also the flexibility of a wide angle lens on one camera and a telephoto lens on the other camera. A year off work to travel changed all that.  The size and weight of even one DSLR and a range of lenses was too much, even carrying a single D700 with a 50mm lens is bulky and heavy – and does not allow the creativity of different lenses, or a second camera. There was simply no way that I could carry my normal camera gear for 10 months international travel.  Bottom line – I needed a smaller and lighter camera with near SLR capability.

 

Approximately 8 months before the start of my year off work, I started to look really closely at the developments in mirror-less technology.

My basic criteria included:
1) Small size and light weight.  I don’t want to look like a pro photographer with a couple of DSLR’s dangling from my neck. My goal was to be able to carry all my camera gear in a non-descript messenger bag.

2) Ability for inter-changeable lenses.

3) I needed a system that would provide excellent image quality.

After a lot of research at mirror-less system Olympus, Sony, and Fujifilm, I settled on the Fujifilm. At the time, the Fujifilm choices were between the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. I bought an X-Pro1 for the electronic and optical viewfinder, and since I did not have previous experience with electronic-type viewfinder.  The X-Pro1 with the large buttons and dials has the look of a vintage rangefinder film camera.  Still wanting a second camera as a backup – the other logical choices was the X-E1. The X-E1 is smaller and lighter than the X-Pro1 and doesn’t have the optical viewfinder. Both cameras use the same “X-Trans” CMOS sensor – so image quality is identical. The two cameras do have slightly different ergonomics – with practice I would learn how to automatically adjust the buttons and dials on each without removing my eye from the viewfinder.  

 

With the X-Pro1, and X-E1 my lenses included the XF 14mm, XF 18-55mm, and XF 55-200mm, which all fit easily into my Timbuktoo shoulder bag. All this gear (camera and lenses) was less bulk, and weighed significantly less than my Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm land and 70-200 VR1 lens.

 

During the 10 months of travel, we experienced high humidity in Thailand and Cambodia, dusty and hot conditions in Western Australia, experienced cold temperatures on the mountains of Nepal, were blasted by sand storms in Dubai, snowed on in Turkey, and chilled on the damp beaches of Normandy (France), and in Holland. The X-Pro1 and X-E1 and my and X-mount lenses performed without problem – mostly. The X-E1 had a hate relationship with the XF 14mm, the rear LCD screen would flicker and then the camera would lock up. Only after pulling out the battery would the camera cooperate – until you pressed the shutter – and then it would lock up again.  I didn’t have any problems with any other lenses. Mysteriously, the problem was “cured” after dropping the camera on the street. The X-E1 worked fine (even with the XF 14mm lens), though the XF 18-55mm lens didn’t fare so well (it has since been repaired by Fuji Canada).

 

Now, almost 15 months after starting the year-long journey and nearly two and half years since I bought them, both the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are showing signs of wear and tear. There are small dents, and in some areas the black paint is worn off. There are a couple of flakes of dust on the sensor, even some inside the lenses  – nothing major. The cameras and lenses are still working well. During the travels, they were not ‘babied’ – simply dropped into the messenger bag, lens caps were never used, and even at times, the lenses were changed in less than ideal conditions. I have taken tens of thousands of images X-Pro1 and X-E1, and by now can speak comfortably about the positives and negatives.

Like most cameras, the X-Pro1 and X-E1 do have little quirks that could be annoying. My only major negative comment is the slow focusing. Actually, focus speed sucks.  Do remember that focus speed has been significantly improved in X-Pro2 and X-E2.

Other quirks are the all-too-easily turned exposure compensation dial, and the fly-by wire Fuji XF lenses that do not remain set to a specific focus distance after the camera has been turned off and back on again.  

 

  • I do like the large buttons and dials for adjusting the aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation.
  • I also like that the X-Pro and X-E1 are small and compact, and do not spook or intimidate the subjects as much as a large DSLR, giving me more freedom and access than if I had a large DSLR around my neck.
  • I bought the X-Pro1 for the electronic and optical viewfinder originally thinking that I would not get used to the electronic viewfinder. Instead, I hardly ever the optical viewfinder, only in low light situations.
  • I also really like the fact that the eyepiece is not centered as in DSLR (and X-T1). Instead, the viewfinder is on the left side of the camera. My nose is not squashed against LCD screen.  My right eye in viewfinder, left eye is not blocked – and can view the scene.
  • I also like that the cameras look retro, or old-school. Many people have asked me if the camera was an old range-finder type film camera, or a Leica M9 !. Although the Fuji’s do use the Fuji-X lens mount, with adapters I can attach old film camera lenses (M39 and M42 lens mount) along with Pentax, Canon and Nikon lenses.  While in Holland,  I bought a couple of old manual focus russian lens (Industar, and Helios). Their optics are not nearly as good as the Fuji-X lenses, though they do have a unique look.
  • I also like the build quality, image quality and weight of the Fuji-X lenses – especially the 14mm, 35mm and 55-200mm.
  • I love the quality of the images. Even though though the X-Pro1 and X-1 are now several years old, compared to newer cameras, the quality of the images is still amazing. Images straight out of the camera are sharp with bold vibrant colors.

 

So – will I sell my DSLR camera gear ?

The Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 are unique cameras, and not necessarily for everyone.

There are some things that the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 simply do not do well. As any artist knows, it is a matter of using the right tool for the job. Photographing things that move quickly; children, wildlife or trains – are easy with a large DSLR, and is a challenge for the X-Pro1 and X-E1. The X-Pro1 and X-E1 are great for static subjects, or where you need a lightweight and more discreet camera for street and travel photography. Back at home, I can use my X-Pro1 and X-E1 for studio work, with my (for Nikon) Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 controllers.

Finally, my experience is biased, since I have not yet tested the newer X-Pro2, X-E2 or the X-T1.  

 

In Ottawa: Russian with Love (Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 and Russian lenses)

 

I am visiting Ottawa for a couple of days. I feel bit like a spy – Wait don’t call the RCMP just yet !. What ever you do – Don’t call me Igor Gouzenko. It is actually just my camera gear I am using – a couple of Russian camera lenses on my Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1.

Yes, Fuji does make some really awesome lenses for their X-Series cameras including the ones that I own; Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS, Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R Super EBC, and the XF 55–200 mm f/3.5–4.8.

For this trip, I am going nostalgic. I grew up in Ottawa, and lived there for many years. This short visit is also somewhat nostalgic, in that I am vising many of my old favorite places. Back when I lived here, I used manual focus lenses (autofucus was still in its infancy), so going manual focus for this trip isn’t out of line.

So – on my Fuji X-Pro, and Fuji X-E1 I have a L39-FX adapter for the Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 lens, and a M42-FX adapter for the Industar 50-2 f/3.5 50mm, and Helios-44-2 58 f/2.0 lens. Oh – I know what you are thinking – Why not stick with the Awesome Fuji lenses ! – They are small, light and Autofocus !.

The old Russian lenses are fun to play with, they are cheap, and they are not optically perfect. There are imperfections in the glass that give the lenses a unique look. It is also so much fun to just play ;>

DSCF5375Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

SHSA5440Industar 55mm f/2.8 on Fujifilm X-Pro1

SHSA5444Industar 55mm f/2.8 on Fujifilm X-Pro1

DSCF5378Industar 50-2 f/3.5, on Fujifilm X-E1

DSCF5382Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

DSCF5384Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

DSCF5390Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

SHSA5454Industar 55mm f/2.8 on Fujifilm X-Pro1

Yellowknife snowking

2016 Snowking Winter Festival XXI

March 1, 2016 – The Grand opening of the 2016 Snowking Winter Festival XXI. Check out the official Snowking Winter Festival webpage ….http://snowking.ca/

These are a couple of sneak peak images and panoramas from inside the castle and from the roof.

Yellowknife snowking

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. Use your mouse or swipe the screen to look around. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

Yellowknife snowking

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. Use your mouse or swipe the screen to look around. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

 

Yellowknife snowking

Yellowknife snowking

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. Use your mouse or swipe the screen to look around. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

Yellowknife snowking

2016 Snowking Castle – Nearing Completion

Have a look around inside the 2016 Snowking Castle – it is almost Done !

DSCF5255 Panorama-2

Click Here for a Larger Image

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. Use your mouse or swipe the screen to look around. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

Yellowknife snowking

2016 Snowking XXI Castle – in Progress

This is a quick n’dirty post – just to see if I can still remember how to photograph, generate and post 360 virtual reality panoramas.

Seems fitting in a way – as I haven’t done this in two years, and this image is of the yet to be completed snow castle for the 2016 Snowking Winter Festival in Yellowknife.

SHS_6458 Panorama-2

Click Here for a Larger Image

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. Use your mouse or swipe the screen to look around. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

My piece of Remembrance

Seventy one years after that fateful day it is hard to imagine what happened here.

To my left, there is a large house-size concrete box, it is tipped almost on it’s side.
Behind it is a building with several Canadian flags, and the village of Courseulles-sur-Mer.
In the village, there is a small monument, and a World War 2 vintage Canadian Tank.

Years ago this beach was called called Juno Beach.

I walk across the beach towards the ocean.
The sand is soft, with patterns sculpted by the tides.
I walk quietly over the sand, the silence broken only by the
soft crunching of sea shells under by shoes.

Seventy one years ago, there were many, many more sounds on this beach.
Sounds of gunfire, sounds of explosions, sounds of pain and  the silent sound of death.

On that fateful day seventy one years ago,
Canadian Soldiers disembarked from small thinly armoured ships.

There was no shelter, no place to hide.
The Germans were well prepared and well defended, with large cannons inside the concrete boxes, machine guns, minefields and beach obstacles.

Many of these small ships were blown to pieces by the German guns
that were inside the large concrete boxes.
Other ships were blown to pieces after hitting explosives buried in the sand.
Some ships carried armoured tanks with canons to destroy the german guns.
Many of these tanks were destroyed by the German guns.

For the Canadian Soldiers that arrived on that beach on June 6th, 1944 –
It was Hell.

This is a piece of twisted and rusted metal that I found on the beach.
Was it a piece of one of those small thinly armoured ships that brought the Canadian Soldiers to the beach?, or was it a piece of a destroyed German cannon ?
Without specialized testing of its metallic properties – we will never know.

The jagged edges and bent shape of this small piece of metal are a silent witness of what happened on that fateful day seventy one years ago.

Hundreds of Canadian Soldiers died on this very beach, on fateful day, and hundreds more before the war was over.

SHSB5053

This small piece of rusty jagged metal is my piece of Remembrance of all those Canadian soldiers that came ashore on this very beach and also all the other soldiers, sailors and airmen from from Canada, United Kingdom, US, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland that participated in D-day and liberated Europe.

November 1st, 1989

This isn’t a post about photography. It is a post about life and the loss of Life. My father passed away at midnight on November 1st, 1989 after a year-long battle with cancer. I wrote this poem on the sleepless evening before is funeral.

 

 

Yesterday-during the wake I felt a need to look at the casket.

But what is the use- as now all that remains is an empty shell.

Like some creatures which shed their skin- my father still lives in my memory.

I can picture his face, his smile, his clothes, how he would sit and how he would sleep.

I can also remember the favorite expressions, foods, idiosynchricies and most importantly our happiness and times together.

So as long as I can remember these details- my father is not dead.

Through the passage of time some details will be forgotten, but my father doesn’t die until the last detail is forgotten.

1987-02-B4 1985-08-A17