I found Dad’s Golden Toy Mine!

Mission Control this is John Paul.

JP – MC go ahead.

MC I have the toys in sight.  They are magnificent.  Two Fujifilm cameras, loads of lenses, batteries and HOLY BIRTHDAY CAKE the 56mm is here!  

JP you have permission to acquire the toys.

MC I have a problem…oh my it is a rigged flash…I’m on film…he caught me red handed.

JP Break Off! Break Off!  Go to ground!

MC will play baby no worries.  I’ll get another chance…I know where the toy mine is now.

MC-JP Out

-ehw

And the World Begins to Grow

    As with most newborn families, we continue spending time letting Momma recover and John Paul his rest.  We are now at the beginning of a period I look as magical.  It is the time a baby can see further than his fist, shapes take on meaning, and eye contact begets social reactions.

    In between common household chores with my four big kids, a quick reward trip for donuts at Mr. Dunkin’s, and making an indoor BBQ we got time with the new son as his world expanded once again.  This is the reward time for Dad’s and family members.  Facial gestures, words and coos get replies from this intelligent creature of God’s creation.  I also find this is when we start to get a fuller assessment of a child’s personality.

    So as we head off to church this is a typical slow, family oriented weekend in my home.  Yet it is one I am fully thanking God for, because this is what the rewards of putting family life first is all about.

-ehw

Travelling Lighter

Going on a business trip, so I packed up my camera as I usually do…only to recognize some pretty big changes in my load plan.

Now this is a business trip, and if I get to shoot and enjoy myself it will be a small miracle. I just feel unprepared without a good camera on hand…and being a geek I wanted my toy set with me. On my last big trip I toted my Pentax K-5 DSLR along. Great camera, outstanding quality from its 16mp sensor. I took the little bag you see below. Inside was the K-5 with a 16-50 F2.8 and either the 50-135 F2.8 or a trio of primes (usually DA 15 F4, DA35 F2.8 (or the FA43/FA77) and DFA100 F2.8 Macro). I could take either one flash, or store my batteries and charger in the top compartment. This was a great set of toys.

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Over the last six months I traded out a lot of Pentax gear to pick up a Fujifilm rangefinder style kit. So this time I put the following in the bag: Fujifilm X-E1, 18-55 F2.8-F4, 55-200 F3.5-4.8, 14mm F2.8, 35mm F1.4 and 60mm F2.4 close focusing lens with a small XF-20 flash, XF-42 Flash, off camera flash cord and the battery charger. This is way more than I need…probably too much. The way I shoot though is opportunity driven, as such the better a set of tools I have on hand the better I can handle any situation.

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What did I gain and what did I lose? Well the X-E1 displays much sharper image due to its lack of an AA filter, and in dim situations and almost no noise up to IO3200. Now I also want to point out that I have an early generation 16MP sensor in the K-5, and a later generation 16MP sensor in the X-E1 both probably made by Sony. Sony does continuous improvement on the sensors, and users of current 16MP K-5II and K-5IIS do have a better sensor. On the plus side I also had more room to carry some fill flash without exceeding my previous carry weight in the Fuji package. I used that a lot over Thanksgiving, and it could become useful here.

The style of the X-E1 is definitely a retro design with aperture rings and a shutter speed dial. It is simple and direct. For more complicated functions I can dive into the Q menu and handle the need quickly. It does force me to slow down in some situations to get everything set up the way I want it in terms of focusing point just because of button positioning and how my brain works. The AF is definitely slower compared to a DSLR, but it is very precise. I also can compose just as easily on the large LCD as the small Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). I am still working to use it as fluidly as I did the K-5.

I made the jump because quite frankly Pentax had not grown very far since I had purchased it. Now they made advances in the last year I would like to take home with me….but I was not sold on where the company was going and what their intentions were. Heck the company could not tell anyone what they their strategy was. My prize lenses were the FA43, FA77 and DFA100. They were dreamy…but out of place on crop sensors most of the time. I had hoped to use the crop sized zooms for sports, and the primes for deliberate work on a 35mm size sensor one day. With no Pentax FF on the horizon to waltz into at some point, I really had to make a decision about their usefullness. Fujifilm on the other hand had a coherent strategy of getting great APS-C quality with compact glass that was very portable (and when on sale relatively uber affordable). So for now when focus speed and weather sealing is of most importance, Mr. Pentax comes out to play. Other than that….it is getting aback seat right now. The Pentax primes are gone except for the macro….all to fund the new Fujifilm kit.

I must admit the jury is still out on whether I made a good choice. Both are good systems, and a little off the beaten track. I almost picked up a Micro 4/3 Olympus OM-D5. Iit has incredible glass, better AF, and a good sound design except it was a little too small for my hands. The Fujifilm fits me well…and the system is growing by leps and bounds. So time will tell if I did the right thing…until then I just need to learn my craft until I get blue in the face! The gear today is very, very good…and the limiter is not the gear but rather me!

So if you are looking for something to lighten your load take a look at the growing number of mirriorless options. They are good cameras, and by design could save you quite a few pounds on your next all day excursion.

-ehw

Negative space in life and a portrait

Negative Space Adventure

Negative Space Adventure

Here is my pretty china doll Julia Rose…

I think the world’s technology if overloading us with stimuli.  Our brains are truly wired differently now because of it. Unfortunately this is robbing us of our ability to be introspective.  Introspective people often look into what appears to be nothingness, and find the rich textures and beauty God has hidden in there for their enjoyment and enlightenment that others ignore.  While making these portraits with my daughter I was able to slow down just enough to explore what I was doing…the why…the how…the wonder of the moment before me.  Writing this article, and thinking about what I wanted to do actually made me go back and re-edit my photograph to make it more attractive..actually to make the nothingness more attractive and complementary of the subject!  I had set the stage, but only by self examination was I truly able to explore it.

Here is the story of the shot:  When I shot this portrait I wanted to explore the concept of negative space a bit.  I just finished reading about in in Bryan Peterson’s book so I thought it would be good to practice.  This is one of those times where you purposely let a big set of space be empty…but in this case I filled it up with a rich texture.  Before last month I would be scared to do something with the space, wondering if I was “allowed” to by the photogurus of the world.  Bob Coates helped me walk away from that supposed stigma last month at a class I took with him.  “If the masters of art did it, why can we learn from them?” he said…and then he encouraged us all to play a little but with the concept.  Only through play can you learn, experience and find the your style in the wonderful world of photo development we have at our fingertips today.  It is a great lesson we should all grasp on in so many ways (Bob Coates website bcphotography.com)  I used Julia’s eyes and body curve to compliment the negative space…she is looking at the negative space as if something is there you cannot see!  By moving Julia in the lighting space I also purposely created shadows to give the subject a three dimensional depth to match the texture.  If I had more space in the old basement I’d pull her further from the backdrop..but I am out of that vital commodity in the basement right now…to create more depth and contrast in the textures.  Next step is to do more with the lighting outside of post to make this easier.

So put down that smart phone, ipad or gameboy.  Look into the nothingness, and see what you’ve been missing.  Remove the man made stimuli, and look, listen and feel for the rich textures of life God prepared for us.  I think our lives will be much greater for it…I know this portrait of my daughter certainly was.

-ehw

P.S.  The Fujifilm X-E1 F5, 1/110, ISO1600, at 234mm(35mm equivalent) tripod mounted!