Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 33: LIGHT BULB MOMENT - HELIOS MC M44-4 vintage lens on FUJIFILM X-T2

Over the years Fujifim has continuously expanded their lens selection for the X-series cameras. Upcoming new lenses are announced months in advance through the "X mount Lens Roadmap"; something Fujifilm has been consistently doing for several years and which greatly helps photographers make an informed decision on what next lens to buy next in the future. 

Apart from maybe having a 400mm f4 lens for my Airshow photography, I'm not really missing anything specific on the present Lens roadmap. I have however recently played with some older vintage lenses mounted on my X-T2!

Non-native lenses typically have a different mount and will need a specific lens adapter to be mounted on an X-series camera. A popular older mount was the  M42 mount. I therefore have picked up a K&F Concept M42 to FX converter for 23,-USD. A great bargain in order to have some fun with vintage glass on a modern mirrorless camera! The only caveat with these is that the lens will be "manual focus", but then again after all it is vintage! Call it part of the experience.

For the ones new to using "adapted" lenses, I can recommend the Helios M44 line of lenses; built in the ex-Soviet Union (USSR), they are one of the most mass produced "standard" lenses ever made and are known for their interesting bokeh (quality of the out of focus area). 

Until a year or so ago, one could pick up a copy of a Helios M44 lens for less than 15,-USD; popular demand has however driven the prices up somewhat to around 50,-USD now; still cheap for some interesting vintage glass! 

The image below was shot with a MC M44-4 version of the lens. 


Image quality:

  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the Helios MC M44-4 lens
  • SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) jpeg no editing

Before anybody asks for the Exif (Meta) data... Well given the lens does not provide any electronic data to the camera, nothing shows up in the file. I remember having shot at f2... the rest will remain a mystery forever! Guess we have to revert back to the film days, where we used to write the Exif data in a small notebook straight after the image was made. 

My curiosity into vintage glass is growing and I'll likely do a bit more once I find some other interesting glass... But no need to panic; I won't be selling off any of my great Fujinon lenses as this adventure is merely a creative out to have some fun! 

Remember:"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up" - Thomas Edison 


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 32: FINE ART AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY - Somme Bay

Officially known as one of the most beautiful bays of the world, the Baie du Somme (Somme Bay) is an amazing natural site. A large estuary in the Picardie region of Northwestern France, its characterised flat areas of marsh and sand especially come to life during low tide. 

The bay drains six rivers into the Channel and takes up a total of 72 square kilometers. The reserve shows most of its natural beauty from the air and is my biggest playing ground for aerial photography!  

To most the colours and patterns in the image below might look somewhat unreal, but I can tell you that beside an overall contrast adjustments nothing has been added or deleted. One could almost think it was shot from space since it provides the viewer with a lot of mystery. The image was shot from my vintage 1954 Piper Super Cub on a trip from Belgium to Normandy at 1000ft (300m). 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with XF50 f2 lens
  • 1/2400s, f5.6, ISO 400
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • Nik ColorEfex pro4 with Colour contrast filter
The image is definitively one that needs to be printed large as a "fine art aerial photograph"; preferably on Dibond since the amount of detail is jaw-dropping. Meanwhile, I've also added it to my new Aerial Portfolio section on the site. 

People interested in purchasing this or other large prints of Aerial images, can contact me here

Lastly, on September 01, I plan to take part in the 110 year celebration of the Worlds very first Flying school at the Le Crotoy (France) beach. In the middle of the Somme Bay, this small village was the stomping grounds of the french brothers Caudron where people to fly on the same beach we plan landing 30 aircraft on in a few weeks... 

Remember: "It is amazing the things you find if you bother to search for them" - Sacagawea 


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 31: AUCKLAND DURING BLUE HOUR

My travels as an airline pilot take me to all corners of the world. Such was the case last week when I was able to spend a few days in a city that I hadn't visited for several years; Auckland, New Zealand.  

Beside photographing the Dubai skyline, over the years I've collected quite a few of images from skylines all over the globe; New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, to name just a few. 

While Auckland is not a very large city, its skyline has some interesting features; the 328 m high Sky Tower, which is the largest freestanding building in the Southern hemisphere, being the most iconic landmark. One of the best places to shoot the Auckland skyline is next to the Devonport Ferry terminal, to the Northeast of the city center. 

Luckily the winter sunset produced dramatic light the night I was there. An opportunity I couldn't miss!

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 50-140 f2.8 lens
  • ISO 200, f11, two shots 1/7s (for sky), 5.6 sec (for skyline)
  • RAW developed in Lightroom CC
  • Photoshop CC to blend the image of the sky taken at sunset and the skyline image, taken 20 mins after sunset. 
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast 
For a shoot like this, I typically set up a specific composition about 20 mins before sunset. Using the built in intervalometer, I then start shooting one image every 2 min. For locations closer to the equator, where typically the best light is gone in a matter of minutes, I reduce the shooting interval to 1 min. I stop shooting after the peak of the blue hour light is over, in this case about 20-25 min after sunset. 

In post-processing I then select a handful of images of which I want to use certain parts; at least one for the sky and one for the skyline with the buildings lit up. In the case above only two images were used on a 10 min image blending job. 

Remember: "The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo" - Desmond Morris