Mermaid Becca

I had a great time shooting with model Becca in Auburn California at Lake Clementine. Between dodging crowds of people and climbing down rocks, it was challenging, but Becca knows how to work the scene to bring it all together.

Becca wanted a waterfall and we found a great one for our shoot.

Becca wanted a waterfall and we found a great one for our shoot.

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You can see why they call this Rainbow Falls

You can see why they call this Rainbow Falls

After shooting at the falls, we moved to the Foresthill bridge for something totally different.

One of the tallest bridge in the country.

One of the tallest bridge in the country.

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Finding Shadows

After watching Sean Tucker talk about Shadows, I wanted to see how I have used shadows in my street photography this year. Not just really high contract images, but actual shadows to highlight a subject. I love using very high contract and shadows whenever possible, but the small towns I shoot in, just are not heavy in shaded areas. Overall, I find it easier to crush the blacks and make an image very contrasty, and I will do a blog entry for that soon.

Below are a few of the images I found this year, that use shadow. As I reviewed my work, I can see more shadows being used later in the year, as my skills improved.

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Testing the Fujifilm X-T3

I now have the Fujifilm X-T3 in my hands and I was able to take my first images. Overall the camera is very similar to the X-T2. A few under appreciated changes have made shooting with this new camera a joy to use. First is Bluetooth. I don’t have a need to sync my photos to my phone, but the Bluetooth connection has enabled seamless geotagging of my images, a feature I lost when I moved from Nikon to Fuji. The X-T3 also added an electronic 3D level, which is a nice feature when you are shooting handheld.

Another note. A lot of people have asked if you can use an X-T2 L bracket on the X-T3. I have confirmed the Really Right Stuff bracket does not fit. I contacted them and I am told pre-sales will start within the next 2 weeks for an updated L-Bracket.

Below are a few jpg images with minor edits. RAW support is not in Lightroom yet, so I am stuck working with jpg for a few more weeks. I can’t wait to start working with the RAW files.

Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City.

Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City.

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Acros film simulation.

Acros film simulation.

Acros film simulation.

Acros film simulation.

Acros film simulation.

Acros film simulation.

Reno Balloon Races

After years of wanting to visit the huge balloon festival in Reno, I decided it was time to check it out for myself. The morning started out at 3:30 as the ballons begin to arrive.

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As the crowds grow and the people arrive, the balloons begin to coordinate and glow together.

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Sun soon rises and this added an entirely different glow to the balloons

Sun soon rises and this added an entirely different glow to the balloons

Almost 100 balloons rise at the same time in a very impressive display.

Almost 100 balloons rise at the same time in a very impressive display.

Around 7:30am the event starts to break up and everyone begins walking back to the parking lot.  This balloon hovered over the lake to give everyone a chance to take photos on the way out of the park.

Around 7:30am the event starts to break up and everyone begins walking back to the parking lot. This balloon hovered over the lake to give everyone a chance to take photos on the way out of the park.

Woodland Sunflowers

All photographers have a bucket list of places they want to photograph.  The Woodland sunflower fields is one of those places.

While the sky wasn't very exciting, I am still happy with the "hot summer" look I managed to get from a few of my images.

I used photoshop to blend multiple exposures to keep as much of the image in focus as possible. 

I used photoshop to blend multiple exposures to keep as much of the image in focus as possible. 

This old oak tree is the element that makes this field super popular with photographers. 

This old oak tree is the element that makes this field super popular with photographers. 

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All of my images from this trip were taken with the Fujifilm X-T2, while this iPhone X image produce really outstanding color. 

All of my images from this trip were taken with the Fujifilm X-T2, while this iPhone X image produce really outstanding color. 

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Oregon Creek Covered Bridge

I recently discovered this covered bridge about 20 minutes outside of Nevada City.  The Oregon Creek is along the Yuba River in North San Juan. It is part of the Tahoe National Forest.  

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The bridge originally opened in the early 1870's and was totally restored in early 2018.  I searched the web and found that the bridge was closed to traffic before it was rebuilt, because it was in such bad shape. 

The rebuilt bridge uses some of the same wood that was used in the original bridge. 

The rebuilt bridge uses some of the same wood that was used in the original bridge. 

Under the bridge you will find a beautiful creek that is used for fishing and swimming. 

This is a panorama made up of 5 images. Because my tripod wasn't totally level, you can see a little distortion in the bridge shape. 

This is a panorama made up of 5 images. Because my tripod wasn't totally level, you can see a little distortion in the bridge shape. 

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When you cross the bridge, you will find a large parking lot with bathrooms, park tables and a sandy beach that gives you access to this large open section of the river. You can swim and even use the rope swing. 

When you cross the bridge, you will find a large parking lot with bathrooms, park tables and a sandy beach that gives you access to this large open section of the river. You can swim and even use the rope swing. 

Dad's Restoration Project

My dad has been a geek since his early teenage years, with a love of all things ham radio. He supported the family by owning a small business that sold ham radio equipment. I grew up around dusty old ham radio equipment. I can still remember the unique smell you get from these antiques and seeing my dad work on these antiques bring up a lot of childhood memories.

He is retired now, but he still has a love for radios and radio equipment. He recently developed a passion for morse code keys, the history behind them and restoring these little communication devices.  Most of them come to him covered in grease and dust. He takes each one apart and restores them back to working condition. 

Just a sample of over 100 in my father's collection. 

Just a sample of over 100 in my father's collection. 

Many of the 100's he has collected were made in the early 1900's and 1940's.  Below is a small handful that he has already restored or are in different phases of restoration.

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The graphics on this box are really amazing. Inside is all the original documentation and equipment, in original condition. 

The graphics on this box are really amazing. Inside is all the original documentation and equipment, in original condition. 

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This device uses a punch tape to transit sounds. It was used for training. 

This device uses a punch tape to transit sounds. It was used for training. 

This was a military device, still waiting restoration. 

This was a military device, still waiting restoration. 

Another still waiting to be restored. 

Another still waiting to be restored. 

Nevada City Dark Tourism

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.

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Long Exposure on the South Yuba

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. 

South Yuba River in Nevada City.  13 second exposure. f/16. ISO 100. 16mm lens. Mid day sun. 

South Yuba River in Nevada City.

13 second exposure. f/16. ISO 100. 16mm lens. Mid day sun. 

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. 

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Model Bridget Pelzman

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. 

The studio (located in a 2 car garage) using a black backdrop and 3 continues lights. 

The studio (located in a 2 car garage) using a black backdrop and 3 continues lights. 

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The outdoor images were shot with natural light in Folsom. I didn't have access to a flash or reflector, which I think would have really been great to help the eyes pop. 

The outdoor images were shot with natural light in Folsom. I didn't have access to a flash or reflector, which I think would have really been great to help the eyes pop. 

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I really love getting the chance to do portrait photography. If you are ever interested in shooting portraits with me, shoot me an email. 

Winter in the Foothills

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. 

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Broad Street, Nevada City

Broad Street, Nevada City

Broad Street, Nevada City

Broad Street, Nevada City

Deer Creek in Nevada City

Deer Creek in Nevada City

Nevada City

Nevada City

Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley

Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley

Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley

Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley

Nikon vs Fujifilm

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. 

Shot with a Fuji X-T2 with the Fujifilm 18-55mm lens. Handheld with a high ISO.  Edited in Silver Efex Pro. f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/60th. (testing the OIS). 

Shot with a Fuji X-T2 with the Fujifilm 18-55mm lens. Handheld with a high ISO.  Edited in Silver Efex Pro. f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/60th. (testing the OIS). 

Shot with the Nikon D810 with the Nikon 24-70mm lens. Tripod.  Edited with Silver Efex Pro. f18, ISO 400. 15 second exposure. 

Shot with the Nikon D810 with the Nikon 24-70mm lens. Tripod.  Edited with Silver Efex Pro. f18, ISO 400. 15 second exposure. 

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? 

Prime Lens Action Challenge

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. 

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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. 

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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.  

The skylights brought in great natural light, but shooting into them isn't ideal. 

The skylights brought in great natural light, but shooting into them isn't ideal. 

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.

Fog machine was used and filled the warehouse with a little too much smoke. Shutter speed was 1/1000th.

Fog machine was used and filled the warehouse with a little too much smoke. Shutter speed was 1/1000th.

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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. 

Even shooting at f2.0 and 2.8, it was almost impossible to blow out the background when using these wide angle prime lenses. 

Even shooting at f2.0 and 2.8, it was almost impossible to blow out the background when using these wide angle prime lenses. 

A video of the workshop highlights can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUWJuwGIrOY

Small Town Street Photography

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. 

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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.

Everyone dresses up for the Christmas festivals. 

Everyone dresses up for the Christmas festivals. 

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. 

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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.

Father and Son Time

Father and Son Time

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.  

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If you want to see more of my street work, follow me on Instagram