Sunday, November 29, 2015

FUJIFILM XF1.4X TELECONVERTER - SECOND LOOK - Camel Racetrack Dubai

August 2015, Fujifilm Middle-East lend me an early copy of the then yet to be launched, Fujifilm XF1.4x Teleconverter. As usual I put a disclaimer in my reviews that the equipment tested is not final and that the quality might vary. 



While my review of the 1.4x TC went online on launch day, October 21st 2015, it turned out that the quality did indeed vary significantly; it looks like that the installed lens firmware (1.0) of the borrowed unit, was of an earlier version and did not show the full potential of this new piece of photo-gear.

One month later, I'm testing a production copy of the TC with the latest 50-140 1.10 lens firmware and have seen a large difference in the overall sharpness of the files. It is now superior to the one of the 55-200 lens. 

ISO 200, 93mm, f8, 1/240s 

Even though. I've now updated my original review, I still wanted to share a few images shot with the 50-140 and the 1.4x TC at one of the Dubai Camel race track last night. 

ISO 800, 181mm, f5, 1/400s 

Even in low light the focus tracking with the TC installed is pretty good. I got almost a 100% keeper rate, using the new Zone AF mode combined with Continuous (C) focus and CL mode.  

ISO 800, 198mm, f5, 1/550s 

ISO 800, 104mm, f4.5, 1/4400s 

ISO 800, 198mm, f4.5, 1/5000s 

Given the dusty environment I was working in, I was definitively happy to have 100% Weather Resistant (WR) photo-gear; X-T1, 50-140 and the new TC which is WR as well!

Since the new lens firmware update, it looks like the XF1.4X TELECONVERTER, will now indeed replace my 55-200 lens! 

In case you haven't done so, please check out my updated 1.4X TC REVIEW here.

Feel free to share this blogpost on your blog, forum or social media platform. No prior permission is required. Thanks!

BJORN



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 48: Peaceful Belgium

After the deadly attacks in Paris last week, my home country Belgium has been in the international news a lot this week; all for the wrong reasons. Since last week, it has unfortunately become clear that some of the terrorists were of the "Belgian" nationality and/or were living in Belgium. 

Today the terror threat level is still set at 4, the highest on a 1 to 4 scale, which basically means that all schools and most of the public transport remain closed. Daily life has almost come to a full stop because of what the government call, "a  possible imminent terrorist attack". All of this while police and military are on a manhunt for some of the bad guys... The most "wanted" one, Salah Abdeslam, was directly involved in the November 13th attacks im Paris.

Contrary to all the sobering news, the image below of a man enjoying a misty autumn walk, was shot earlier this month in a forest in the West part of Belgium. To me it shows how "peaceful" my home country normally is. May life revert back to normal as soon as possible!

























Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 18-135 LM OIS WR lens
ISO 800, 66mm, 1/15s, f10
RAW file development on Lightroom CC (6.3)

Nik ColorEfex with foliage and pro contrast filter

Remember: "Don't let the behaviour of others, destroy your inner peace" - Dalai Lama

Sunday, November 22, 2015

FUJIFILM GOES FLYING (part 2) : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY with the XT-1 and XF 18-135 lens

In part 1 of my FUJIFILM GOES FLYING series, I blogged about how the XF 18-135 lens turns out to be great for my Air to Air photography. If you haven't done so, please had a look at this popular post here

Often confused with Air to Air photography is 'AERIAL" photography; the art of photography of the ground (unlike other aircraft for Air to Air) from an elevated position; this could be from a bridge, high-rise building or more typically an aircraft and since recent years a camera drone...

I personally don't do drone photography yet as I'm too much in love with the flying bit myself. It is way more fun to do the flying bit yourself or just be up there as a photographer!


My 1954 vintage Piper Super Cub is a pretty cool photo-platform to shoot some personal aerial images; especially since it can be flown with the door open for an unobstructed view! Whenever I go out there on a solo photo-flight, I use my Blackrapid RS-Sport strap so the camera remains secure and is not in the way while flying. After all Safety is always our number one priority in Aviation!


As I wrote in my initial review of the XF 18-135 lens (click here for review), I thought this would make for a great Aerial photography lens; it is weather sealed (WR), has the perfect focal range for most aerial shots and has an excellent image stabilisation (OIS). Since I gave back the review copy of my 18-135 lens to Fujifilm Middle East, I bought a copy of the lens; confirming my initial thoughts on the potential use!


Below is a series of images, all shot with the 18-135 lens. Please click on the individual image for a full screen view.

ISO 400, 52mm, f5.6, 1/300s

ISO 400, 44mm, f5.6, 1/800s

ISO 800, 79mm, f5.6, 1/1500s

ISO 400, 62mm, f5.6, 1/950s

ISO 400, 88mm, f5.6, 1/1500s

ISO 800, 62mm, f5.6, 1/500s

ISO 400, 66mm, f5.6, 1/2200s




More of my Aerial photography can be found here.

Remember: "You haven't seen a tree, until you have seen its shadow from the sky" - Amelia Earhart.


BJORN



Thursday, November 19, 2015

DUBAI AIRSHOW 2015 - Airshow Photography with Fujifilm camera gear

The DUBAI AIRSHOW, is a biennial event held every odd year somewhere in November. 

Dubai Airshow 2015
Al Fursan performing with a Emirates A380 in the foreground

Originally started in 1989 as "Arab Air", it is held under the patronage of HH Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. 

Dubai Airshow 2015
First Dubai Airshow in 1989

It used to be held at the main Dubai International airport (DXB), but since a few years has moved to the brand-new Dubai World Central airport (DWC) where more space is available. 

Dubai Airshow 2015
Airbus H160 helicopter
Dubai Airshow, is not your classic airshow with a lot of aerobatic displays but rather a trade-show like the Paris airshow at Le Bourget or the biennial Farnborough show in the UK. It is one of the shows where airlines often confirm rumoured orders and where aircraft manufactures announce new stuff.

Dubai Airshow 2015
Rolls-Royce Trent engine
This years show had a total of 1103 exhibitors from 61 different countries, with a total of 150 aircraft on display. One can easily spend a few hours in the main exhibition hall. 

Dubai Airshow 2015
Hazim 15 UAV made in Iran
The most interesting place for airplane geeks however, is the outside static park where one can pretty much walk freely around the aircraft on display.
Dubai Airshow 2015
V-22 Osprey

If found it quite interesting to find both aircraft from Iran (be it unmanned) and the US, being exhibited together. 

Most aircraft can be visited; I personally had a look in the Qatar A350,  Airbus A350, Antonov 178 and Bombardier CS100.

Dubai Airshow 2015
Qatar A350 Business Class

Dubai Airshow 2015
Airbus A350-900 prototype

Dubai Airshow 2015
Antonov 178

Dubai Airshow 2015
Bombardier  CS100

During the afternoon a flying display takes place with a mix of military jets, airliners and training aircraft. Pure airshow acts were somewhat limited the day I was there; the two most interesting ones, being the UAE jet team "Al Fursan" and the Breitling Wingwalkers flying two Boeing Stearman biplanes.

Dubai Airshow 2015
Al Fursan and A380 tail
Dubai Airshow 2015
Breitling Wingwalkers
Airbus, put on another great display by flying their Airbus A350-900. Flying airliners myself for a living, this obviously is close to my heart!

Dubai Airshow 2015
Airbus A350-900

Dubai Airshow 2015
Airbus A350-900

This years show was however much quieter than earlier editions; for the first time in a long time, virtually no new aircraft orders from the main three UAE carriers were announced. They were however all present with airliners on the static line; a total of three A380 were there; the new 2 class 615 pax Emirates model, a Qatar and Etihad one. 
Dubai Airshow 2015
Etihad A380 in the late afternoon sun

Dubai Airshow 2015
Qatar A380

After having just ordered 22 Cirrus SR-22 single-engine and 5 Embraer Phenom 100E's, Emirates also announced their new "Emirates Flight Training Academy". 
Dubai Airshow 2015
Future Emirates Flight Training Academy Cadet ?

While the Dubai Airshow is limited to trade visitors(you'll need a proof of connection to Aviation), they have also started giving access to the general public; one can now buy a 70AED (20USD) pass to sit on a grandstand overlooking the show. This does NOT give one access to the aircraft and exhibition hall. I personally wouldn't recommend this limited access entry to any serious aviation enthusiast as the grandstand was quite far away from all the action, especially given the flying display was somewhat limited. 

I do however recommend going to the Al Ain Airshow, which this year will be held next month December 17 to 19 and which is always a great day out for everybody with an interest in aviation! 
Dubai Airshow 2015
USAF B-1 Bomber
For the ones interested, I brought two cameras and a few lenses to the show; the Fujifilm X-T10 with the 10-24 f4 lens and the Fujifilm X-T1 with the 50-140 and the brand-new 1.4x Teleconverter. All images of aircraft in flight have been shot with the 1.4x TC Teleconverter installed.  


BJORN



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 47: P E A C E for P A R I S

Last night, I got back from a very eventful 24 hour layover in Paris... Yes, that is right, I was in Paris during the deadly and barbaric attacks of Friday 13 November 2015. 

After a night flight from Dubai on Friday morning, I had a few hours sleep and then make my way to the beautiful "Grand Palais" in downtown Paris where I was attending "Paris Photo 2015"; a renown international Photography fair, housing more than 150 galleries from all over the globe. 

The cloudy start of the day made place for a beautiful sunny afternoon... It looked like Friday the 13th would be a great day! I spent several hours at Paris Photo and left after dark, full of creative energy. As it just started raining when I left, I changed my plans to have dinner in the center of town and instead made my way back to the hotel. 

Walking across "Place de la Concorde" just a few hours before the tragic events, I framed a few images of the ferris wheel with the famous Egyptian obelisk in front. Little did I know that these images would make a connection with an illustration made by French artist Jean Jullien, early next morning! The rest is history...


Using the Eiffel Tower, French graphic designer/illustrator Jean Jullien, drew the "Peace for Paris" symbol with a brush pen and uploaded it to his Twitter and Instagram account. It quickly became "the" symbol for the tragic events last Friday night!

Although purely a coincidence, the image I personally shot at Place de la Concorde that night, somehow connects with Jean's symbol. I will never look at the obelisk and the ferris wheel in the same way again!!!

For the ones interested, Jean Jullien, has given a few short interviews; some can be found here: wired.com, time.com, slate.com.
.
Obviously my thoughts go out to all the people that have been directly affected by the Paris attacks, but also to the ones that suffer from similar radical violence all over the world; be it in Kenya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen or any other place! 

Hopefully powerful symbols as the one above are more than just a popular Instagram or Twitter post; let it be a way to express our solidarity with the people directly affected, irrespective to religion or beliefs!

Image details (right image):
Fujifilm X-T10 with the XF27mm prime lens
ISO 1600, f3.2, 1/70s
Lightroom CC 6.2 for RAW development
Photoshop CC to frame both images together

BJORN



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 46: D E S E R T S T O R M - Dubai, UAE

Today, it rained! Yes, believe it or not, but that is pretty special and exceptional in the UAE... 

Those of you living in the region will know what I'm talking about; traffic comes to a halt, number of car accidents go through the roof, kids playing in puddles. It is pretty much like during a major snow storm in Europe or the Eastern US seaboard !

The rain after the summer  often is a sign of the much cooler air coming to the Gulf region; something all inhabitants are really looking forward to!

The image below was made in the desert about 45 min east of Dubai, while a storm was brewing. I was especially attracted by the contrast of the complimentary colours; yellow and blue of the sand and sky/clouds. The leading lines of the sand dune pointing towards the dramatic sky, finish it off nicely. 


Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 18-135 Fujinon lens
ISO 640, 37mm (55mm full frame equivalent, f16, 1/125s
RAW file editing in Lightroom CC (6.1)
Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast 

Remember: "Some people feel the rain, others just get wet" - Bob Marley

Have a great weekend,





Saturday, November 7, 2015

FUJIFILM GOES FLYING (part 1) : AIR to AIR PHOTOGRAPHY with the XT-1 and XF 18-135 lens

Photography and Aviation are undoubtedly my two passions in life; hard to say which one comes first, but whenever I can combine both, I know I'm in for a great day!

1938 Tipsy Trainer (foreground) and Piper J-3 Cub


Last week, I invited photography friend and fellow Fujifilm shooter, Giel Sweertvaegher, for an afternoon of Air to Air photography while I was over in Belgium.  After contacting a few vintage aircraft owners, we scheduled a few flights where I flew our 1954 Piper Super Cub as the "photo-ship" in close formation with a 1938 Tipsy Trainer, 1944 Piper J-3 Cub and Stampe SV-4. The main objective of the shoot was trying to capture these beautiful birds with the great Autumn colours in the background!

1938 Tipsy Trainer

Sometimes confused with Aerial photography, Air to Air (often abbreviated as Air2Air or A2A) photography, is photographing all kind of aircraft in-flight; up where they belong!

Even though, I didn't shoot Air to Air images myself that afternoon, I thoroughly enjoyed flying the photo-ship, working with the photographer in the backseat and coordinating with the other pilots in the formation; it felt a bit like being a film producer on a shoot.

1951 Stampe SV-4B
It definitively helps if the pilot of photo-ship aircraft (normally the lead aircraft) is also a photographer, as this cuts down significantly on the communications between the photographer, pilot of the photo-ship and other pilots in the formation. A combined pilot/photographer tends to see straight away if the position of the surrounding aircraft needs to be corrected with regards to the background and position of the sun.

Typically in Aviation, SAFETY is written with capital letters; it is therefore essential that a detailed preflight briefing is given to all pilots and photographer(s). As most Air to Air photography is done through open windows and open/removed doors, it is vital that the photographer does remove all loose items such as lens hoods/caps, spare  batteries, etc... Needless to say, that these can quickly spoil the day if they end up in the propeller(s)/engine(s) of the aircraft in formation.


Piper Super Cub "Photo-ship"
One of the main challenges of shooting propeller aircraft versus jets is the fact that the shutter speed need to be brought down to about 1/125s or slower to avoid the propeller being stopped in-flight; a stopped prop is not desirably as a pilot but neither as a photographer! Good prop blur is always a winner!

Giel recently also left the camera brand starting with a "N", and switched to Fujifilm for all of his Air to Air photography. Something he does since a very young age as part of the Aviation Photocrew; a very respected Belgian group of Air to Air photographers who are shooting lots of high profile military and civil aircraft. To check out some of Giel's work with the Aviation Photocrew, click here

If you are interested in taking up Air to Air photography, I can recommend the eBook "A Guide to Aviation Photography".  Also, while you are there, check out Giel's blog at apron6.com

A few of my own Air to Air shots can be found below:

Max Holste MH.1521 C Broussard
Piper Super Cub PA-18


BRM Aero XL8 Bristell 
Stampe SV-4 formation
Pitts Special S2B
Yak-52 

Today, both Giel and myself are using the Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon XF 18-135 lens for the majority of our Air to Air photography; a great combination, especially when shooting from smaller photo-ships like the Piper Super Cub. 


Yours truly in action with the Fujfilm X-T1 and 18-135 lens
I will be blogging about another great use of the 18-135 lens, Aerial photography, in a separate post over the coming week(s). 


  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 45: FOREST ZOOMBURST


Post-processing techniques are pretty much endless and sometimes I push them quite hard to show my photographic vision of a certain scene. Whenever possible, I do however also like to finish a photograph 100% "in-camera", i.e. no post-processing at all! 

This was the case in the image below of a zoom-burst I shot in a forest in southwestern Belgium. 

What is a zoomburst
Well, it is a very simple technique where one zooms a lens (does not work with prime lenses, sorry....) while the shutter is open. The idea is that the center of the frame, remains more or less static and becomes the point of interest and focus.

Depending how fast one turns the zoom-ring, you will need a shutterspeed of at least 1/30s, preferable longer. I do recommend using a tripod whenever possible for the best results.

One can either start with the lens zoomed out and then starting zooming in while making the image, or just work the other way around; i.e. start zoomed in. Suggest you try both, as some scenes work better in one or the other. Especially when using a lens with a large zoom range, one does not need to use the full zoom potential. 

Don't expect to have great results straight away, it takes patience and lot of shots... but that is all part of the creativity process. 


Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon XF10-24 f4 lens
ISO 200, f8, 1/2sec
Started 10mm and zoomed in to 24mm while making the image
All done in camera, no post-processing

As photographers we all spend too much time behind the computer in the first place, so trying to be creative in-camera, boosting ones creativity is great! Enough said. Go out there and try it!  

Remember: "Creativity is allowing one to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep" - Scott Adams

BJORN