I always find cemetery shooting to be a challenge. I don't always know what compositions will work best to bring out the details of the old headstones and statues. This week I decided to try shooting with the Fujifilm 80mm macro lens and I think it was a perfect choice. I think this will probably be my goto lens for future cemetery visits. A few samples are below.
I recently purchased a Lee Filters ProGlass 10 Stop filter. This impressive Lee Filter is designed to eliminate pink color casting found in many other 10-stop filters. I am very happy with the results produced by the filter on the Fuji X-T2. I didn't have to spend any time changing white balance in lightroom or tweaking the image to remove unusual pink colors.
When using the almost totally black 10-stop filter, the Fuji X-T2 is able to accurately calculate exposure time with the normal light meter. I didn't need to spend any time calculating the exposure time before shooting, unlike using the Nikon D810, which requires the use of an exposure conversion chart. I was also able to compose the shot and lock focus, without removing the filter from the camera. Just one more reason why mirrorless is ahead of DSLR cameras.
I had the opportunity to shoot High School Prom photos in Auburn yesterday. After a long search for an ideal location, we settled on The Ridge golf course, which is surrounded by beautiful oak trees.
The biggest challenge for the night, beyond having only about 30 minutes to shoot 7 different kids, was the wind and cold. I think the temp was around 55 degrees. These are a few of the 30+ images I edited.
For one month a year (in April), you can visit the Crystal Hermitage gardens in Nevada City. These impressive gardens feature around 17,000 tulips and flowering trees in a beautiful hillside location, about 25 minutes from downtown Nevada City.
The gardens are visited by 1000's of people and it seems like everyone is taking pictures with either cell phones or full size DSLR cameras. With all of the colors and different types of flowers, you can imagine why it is so popular.
If you are a Macro shooter, these gardens are a great opportunity to get close to some flowers and maybe a few bugs.
I had a chance to do some portrait work with the wonderful model Kelsey Jackson. Below are a few of my favorite images. If you ever want to shoot portraits with me, drop me an email.
I recently picked up the Fujifilm 80mm Macro lens and from the moment I held this lens, I knew it was special. First thing you will notice about this lens is the size. It is a pretty large and heavy lens, made of all metal and glass. The only plastic seems to come from the lens hood. Even with the weight, it seems to balance well on the Fuji X-T2, even without a grip. When I really noticed the weight was when it was in my camera bag.
As other people have said, the sharpness of this lens is insane. But even more impressive is how smooth the backgrounds are when using this lens. It is by far the highest quality glass I have used and I expect to be using it for a lot more then just close up macro photography.
Like all Macro lenses, the depth of field is very shallow, so locating the ideal focus point can be a challenge. Overall I thought the lens focused quickly when used inside and outside. Being able to work without a tripod gives me the freedom to quickly move around the subject.
I had a chance today to work with a 16 year old professional model Bridget Pelzman. For a a teen model, she really has very talented and made for a wonderful shooting experience. A few of my images from the shoot can be found in today's blog update.
I really love getting the chance to do portrait photography. If you are ever interested in shooting portraits with me, shoot me an email.
One of my photo projects has been to capture minimalist architecture. Below is a random collection of images that fit into this category.
I have always loved shooting rusty things and Empire Mine State Park is the motherload for rusty history. Add some snow and everything changes. I went out early on Sunday morning to try and see if I could capture the snow mixed in with the gold mining equipment, before the snow melted.
Shooting in the snow is new to me, and the biggest challenge has been to keep the white balance as close as possible, without the snow turning blue or the highlights being blown out.
When you think about Nevada City, you have to think about the outdoors and the unique camping experience offered by the Inn Town Campground. Located only 5 minutes from downtown Nevada City, the campsite offers you an outdoor experience that includes glamping, RV camping or you can just pitch a tent for a few days.
When you get into the campground, you will immediately see a collection of buildings and tents that you can call home for a weekend.
Once you go inside a glamping tent, you will be impressed with the care and detail put into each unique overnight visit. You can't get closer to a hotel experience while still enjoying the fresh air of being in a forest.
The Inn Town Campground offers 17 different glamping tents with different decorations and features that will make you want to try them all. Different bed configurations are available for the entire family.
The campground offers a place for your own RV or you can bring the family and spend time in a Retro RV with beds and its own bathroom.
If you like old shacks and cabins, then check out the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park in Nevada City, California. The park is the location of an 1800's gold mining town and what is left is a mini ghost town.
My first trip to this park was last year in the middle of summer. When I decided to make my 2nd trip to the Malakoff Diggins park, I didn't realize it would be 1 to 2 feet deep in snow, but that really made for some interesting images.
If you visit the park, you will find an old cemetery, historic church, lake, hiking locations and you can take guided tours of some old general stores.
It took a really long time for winter to finally happen in Northern California. Between storms and bad driving conditions, I managed to find time for a few photos before the rain returned to melt the snow. These are my favorites.
The biggest challenge about winter in Nevada City is how fast the snow melts. I want to shoot the snow in 3 or 4 different locations, but I seem to run out of time before the snow is gone.
The National Hotel in Nevada City is the oldest continuously operating hotel in California. It was recently purchased with a plan for total renovation. When you see the pictures below, you will understand why it will cost upwards of $2 million to re-open the hotel. While the hotel has historic charm, it also looks like a candidate for an episode of Hotel Hell.
In Nevada City, you can find a unique suspension bridge that hangs over Deer Creek. It's a pretty easy and short walk from downtown Nevada City.
The creek that runs under the bridge is always changing, and today seemed like a good day to get some updated long exposures. Because of fallen trees and giant rocks, it is a little tricky reaching the ideal shooting spot, but I did manage a location I am happy with.
Yesterday I returned to the Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley, California to test out my new Fuji 18-55mm lens. I wanted to see what a Nikon D810 image (shot last year) looks like vs a Fuji X-T2 image from the same location.
While the composition and editing are a little different, I think this is an interesting comparison of these systems. I prefer the high contrast found in the Fuji image. Which image do you prefer?
When shooting landscapes, I usually prefer moody weather. Clouds, mist, fog and even rain. Winter is trying to end early and we have been experiencing bright cloudless sun for weeks. When we finally had an overcast day, I decided to return to Buttermilk Bend trail in the South Yuba River State Park to capture the green hillsides along the South Yuba River.
I have been on this trail three times now, and I only found these cool bridges by accident.
As spring reaches the peak, the trails should be filled with wildflowers. Something to make a return worth while.
After moving to Grass Valley in 2016, I soon discovered a really special hiking trail about 10 minutes outside of downtown Nevada City called Independence trail. This happens to be the nation’s first identified handicapped-accessible wilderness trail. The trail is broken down into two different trails, East and West.
The trails are a combination of wooden boardwalks like the one above and dirt trails. All of the trails are mostly flat, although they can get muddy during the winter. The trail also has an ok sized parking lot and bathrooms. I have heard of cars being broken into, so hide your stuff.
If you go West (right turn from entrance), you can walk just over a mile to one of the coolest boardwalks I have crossed.
The real prize on this hike is the not just the handful of small waterfalls, but the impressive switchback ramp designed to allow wheelchairs to reach the water below. Unfortunately age has damaged the ramps and it is closed. The current plan is to get an engineering study completed and make major repairs. The restoration costs are around $750,000.
This weekend I attended an indoor action photography workshop featuring martial arts, acrobats and aerial artists. The workshop was attended by about 20 other photographers, shooting with Canon, Nikon and even a few Sony systems. I was the only photographer with a Fuji and the only one using just prime lenses.
Going into this workshop, I knew I had a few challenges to overcome. First, I had never been to this location, so I didn't know anything about the lighting or layout. The second big challenge was my available glass. I wanted to stick with my Fuji system, and that would mean I would basically have a choice between my 23mm and 35mm lenses. Not ideal when you are photographing people who are 20 feet above your head.
I also brought a Godex speedlight with a huge umbrella. Other photographers brought full size strobes and big softboxes. In the end, with the mixture of natural light and the unusual locations of the models, I decided against trying to use the flash. It's hard to position a bulky umbrella when someone is spinning above your head and I am constantly moving around the subject.
Overall, I was really impressed with how the Fuji X-T2 performed. For the first time, I had a chance to try some of the focus tracking modes in the camera, but in the end, I really prefer just using a single focus point. I found the focus tracking just kept missing the face and head. Maybe with more practice, I can find a focus mode that works best for moving subject, that I can be happy with. Either way, I found the camera focused really fast in this mixed natural light environment.
I did most of my shooting between continuous high and low burst rates. It is pretty amazing how fast the shutter is, making it super easy to freeze a subject and pick the exposure I liked the most.
Overall I am pretty happy with the images I captured, but for future events with unpredictable movements of the subjects, I would prefer a zoom lens like the 18-55mm (or 16-55mm) offered by Fuji. The prime lenses are great for street work and portraits, but maybe not so much for action work. I probably would have been happy with a 56mm f1.2 lens to help capture details and blow out the background.
A video of the workshop highlights can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUWJuwGIrOY
When you think about street photography, most people think about New York, London or maybe even India. You think about the busy big city. I don't really have access to the big city, I have access to small California towns with only 3,000 to 12,000 people. That is small. But I have been able to find an endless supply of photo subjects.
What we do have in this small community is festivals and tourists. With tourists, the populations can grow by 10,000 or 20,000 people in a single weekend. This has helped me to develop my skills in an area of photography that is totally different from my traditional landscape photos.
I have been doing street photography for about a year and during that time, I have started to develop my own style, that involves wide lenses and in many cases close up candid captures.
I have found some of my inspiration has come from London Photographer Craig Whitehead who is a master at finding unique angles, shadows and reflections. These are harder to come by in a small town, but I am always looking for something new on these tiny streets. I have also been inspired by the high contrast documentary style of Kevin Mullins.
It's the unique moments that you can capture with street photography that i like the most. Being able to capture something that no one else can duplicate later keeps street photography interesting.
If you want to see more of my street work, follow me on Instagram.