Monday, December 23, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 52: BURJ DUO - 10 YEARS PICK OF THE WEEK COMPLETE!

First of all to all the ones celebrating, a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hard to believe that we are once again at 52 of the year. What is even more remarkable to me, is that I just completed 10 complete years of my Pic(k) of the week series; 520 weeks with no interruption, never missed one! What started in January 2010 as an experiment to motivate me and go out and shoot more, grew to something much more substancial.

Here is that original post from a snowy Belgium in early 2010!

The last Pic(k) of the week comes from Dubai where I tried shooting the full moonrise from one of my favorite places for these type of shots. Facing the Eastern horizon one can see both the Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab from the east side of the Palm Jumeirah. 

While the visibility was fine to see the Burj Khalifa (worlds highest tower) which is 15km away, the moonrise was unfortunately hidden by the cloud cover in the east... As this can only be shot one day every 28 days or so, there is of course a limited success rate. Sometimes we tend to forget to photography is often all about patience and persistence. Needless to say that I'll try again once the conditions are right. 

I do however love how the Burj al Arab which just celebrated its 20th anniversary in the foreground, reflects the golden light coming from the sunset in the West. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 160, f11, 4sec, 100mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • DxO ColorEfex pro 4 for optimal contrast and gradient neutral density filter
The image is a single shot; no HDR technique applied. 

While I love shooting in camera jpeg for pretty much all of my Street Photography, I do believe there is still a place for shooting RAW for shots like the one above.

I did shoot the a Pic(k) of the week in 2016 from the same location, with a full moon in the frame. Click here to check it out. 

I do want to wish all blog readers and followers a HAPPY 2020. Hoping the New Year might bring you joy and happiness!

Remember:"You don't take a photograph. You make it" - Ansel Adams






Friday, December 20, 2019

60 DAYS WITH THE FUJIFILM X-PRO 3 - TOP 3 LIKES AND DISLIKES

Never have I seen so much controversy after the launch of a new Fujifilm camera as with the X-Pro 3. The vast majority has been about the so called “hidden LCD”, but there was also no shortage of the lack of D-pad and the new OVF complainers. Unfortunately almost all people who were so vocal about the X-Pro 3 had never used and often never even seen the camera, let alone spend enough time with it to voice a real opinion. 


When reviewing new gear, I have an unwritten rule, that I'll have to shoot with it for at least a full week before I will publish a First Look review. For the X-Pro 3, I knew I would need a bit more time in order to have a good feel for the more minimalistic approach the camera was designed for. 

I first picked up an X-Pro 3 end of October, making it 60 days since I framed my first image with it. This post will not be a classic review as there are plenty of good reviews out there. For those that first want to learn more about the camera's specifications, I invite you to look at the following three X-Pro 3 reviews, which I personally value the most:

Rather than repeating what others have written multiple times, I've decided to list my top 3 Pro's and Con's of the new camera after now having used it for a couple of months. And yes, they are in chronological order. Here we go!

TOP 3 LIKES

1/THE LOOKS & SHOOTING EXPERIENCE


This was clearly a case of falling in love at first sight! Does a great looking camera make better pictures? Of course not, but you'll be much more tempted to go out and shoot. After all that is what really matters in Photography isn't it? 

Even after two months, I'm still often just picking the X-Pro 3 with no specific purpose in mind. Over time it has become the camera I enjoy shooting the most and it seems to connect very well with my Street/Documentary style. I must say that the shooting experience was something that gradually grew on me; no love at first sight here...

2/CLASSIC NEGATIVE 


Inspired after Fujifilm Superia film stock, this has quickly become my go to natural light colour film simulation. I do realize that every time a new Film Simulation comes out, it often becomes our new favorite; this was the case with the Black and White Acros and also with Classic Chrome for a lot of Fujifilm shooters. Somehow it seems to be on a different level with Classic Negative! 

Lets hope that Classic Negative will make it with a future firmware update to at least the X-T3 and X-T30. Check out the sample images at the end of this post to see what all the fuss is about! 

3/ TILT LCD - LOW LEVEL SHOOTING (LANDSCAPE)
The new hidden LCD has likely been the most talked about item when the X-Pro 3 was announced. First, unlike some other X-Pro users, I've always been a strong proponent of tilt/flip LCD screens for candid photography. For waist level shooting, I find the X-Pro 3 screen even better than the 3 direction X-T3 tilt screen. And yes it had a higher resolution as well! When shooting low to the ground in portrait orientation the X-T3 still rocks however.


Compared to the X-T2/3 and X-T20/30, taking the hidden LCD out on the X-Pro 3, feels more natural and organic as well. I also love to use the screen for shooting discreetly from a table. 



TOP 3 DISLIKES
As most photographers know, no camera is perfect and probably never will be. Like daily life, it is always a compromise. Here we go:

1/ LEFT EYE DOMINANT PHOTOGRAPHERS
I am part of about 1/3 of the worlds population who is left eye dominant"; i.e. closing your right eye while shooting with the left. As the X-Pro 3 viewfinder is on the left, it means that your nose is pressed against the small sub-display in the middle of the camera while shooting. Obviously "right eye dominant" people have their left eye free of the camera and can even use it to check their surroundings while looking through the viewfinder with the other eye; an advantage I'll unfortunately never have!

This has been my argument for not actively using the X-Pro (or X-E) series for years now. Its great looks and overall minimalistic shooting experience seem however to have pulled me over!

2/ NOT A "SHOOT IT ALL" TYPE OF CAMERA
Fujifilm made it quite clear in its marketing campaign that the X-Pro 3 is not intended to be a "shoot it all" type of camera".  We have the X-T series for that! Do not buy an X-Pro 3 if you do a lot of Sport Photography (with long lenses), or landscape photography on tripods. An XF100-400 lens will obviously fit the body but it of course looks out of place and is not well balanced.

While the X-Pro 3 can of course be used on a tripod, one will need a small camera plate or the optional X-Pro 3 Metal Hand Grip, to use it effectively on a tripod. Be advised that depending on your set-up, the LCD might not be able to flip down 180 degrees and will therefore be restricted in its use. 

In summary, for me the X-Pro 3 is a camera made for prime lenses; especially the smaller ones. It is perfect for Street and Documentary photography work, which is clearly what this camera is aimed at.

3/ LCD FOR PORTRAIT ORIENTATION
As explained in the Pro section nr. 3 above, I do not like the use of the LCD for waist level portrait orientation shots; one can use it that way but it just feels awkward.




STOP CHIMPING!
For those not familiar with the term, "chimping" (after the Chimpanzee), it is when a photographer looks immediately at the image he/she just took on the LCD. Doing so in a dynamic environment like Street Photography, often means that you might loose other great moments and therefore also potentially some keeper images.

Personally I thought that I didn't really "chimp" that much. Having the "hidden LCD" on the X-Pro 3 is however very confrontational; making it much more obvious when you do look at the image you just made as you have to flip the screen down on purpose. 

People have said/written that we can of course easily turn the LCD screen OFF on other cameras and achieve the same result. Well, while technically correct not having a screen right there, seems still be a little different. I was skeptical at the beginning, but seem to have bought into the concept!

FUJILOVE
Lastly I've written a blog article about my X-Pro series dilemma for the fine guys of "Fujilove". Make sure to check it out here. I can also recommend subscribing to the great Fujilove monthly Magazine. Always inspirational with great content. 

SAMPLE IMAGES 
I'll end this post by sharing some of my most favorite X-Pro 3 images shot during the last two months! All, except when mentioned otherwise, are shot using in camera Film Simulations and have minimal editing done to them.

Classic Negative - 1/100s, f9, ISO 6400, XF23mm f2

Acros Y - 1/2000s, f5.6, ISO 320, XF50mm f2

Velvia - 1/500s, f11, ISO 160, XF18-135mm

Classic Negative - 1/100s, f5.6, ISO 6400, XF35mm f1.4

Classic Negative - 1/140s, f13, ISO 6400, XF35mm f1.4

Velvia - 1/800s, f8, ISO 160, XF50mm f2

Acros Y - 1/7s, f10, ISO 160, XF14mm f2.8

Classic Negative - 1/500s, f10, ISO 320, XF23mm f2

RAF file - Velvia in Lightroom - 4s, f11, ISO 160, XF100-400

Velvia - 1/1250s, f5, ISO 160, XF35mm f1.4

Classic Negative - 1/680s, f13, ISO 320, XF23mm f2

Classic Negative - 1/500s, f5.6, ISO 160, XF35mm f1.4
Remember: "There are no bad cameras. There are only bad photographers

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 51: WINTER TREES TRIPTYCH - Fujifilm X-Pro 3

This time of the year it is very common to  hear fellow photographers complain about the weather and the bad quality of the light. Dull light when overcast skies. It is raining, I can't take pictures. Obviously this should stop us making images. 

Point is that one can often use these aspects of so called bad light to your advantage. When I saw these winter trees in Zurich last week, sitting under a very dull overcast skies, I knew that a hard contrast "black and white" like the one below would make for something interesting. 

Given I was after the highest type of contrast, I actually shot the image in the new Classic Negative "colour" film simulation rather than black and white; which seems to increase the contrast even more. 

As I immediately could see a series of images, I shot about 10 frames of a few different trees with the main trunk across the frame in different directions and angles. This to give me more variety to compose a triptych later on.

The image below looks small on the blogpost. Please make sure to click on it for the best viewing experience. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with XF35mm f1.4 lens
  • Varying aperture, shutter speeds and ISO for the 3 images
  • Using Classic Negative Film simulation, SOOC
  • Lightroom CC print module to make the triptych
The triptych is definitively in the pool of images to be printed. 

Remember:"There is no bad light, only bad photographs

BJORN

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 50: AT THE CAMEL RACES, DUBAI

When an outsider thinks about the Arabian peninsula, one of the first things that probably comes to mind, are camels often called the ships of the desert. Over my 17 years in Dubai, I've photographed quite a bit at the Al Marmoom Camel race track on the outskirts of Dubai. Hundreds of camel farms can be found around the track, making it perfect for travel/people photography. It is best explored with your own transport (4x4 preferred) as it is a very large area  and not entirely "walkable". 

Camel racing is a national sport and a long time tradition in the UAE. Races are held on different days from October to March and vary from 4km for the young camels to 10km for the larger ones.

Until about 20 years ago, the jockeys were small boys from Pakistan and Bangladesh, which were secured to the saddles with velcro. For obvious reasons human rights stopped this practice and since about two decades remote controlled robots are used instead. 


Last week, while attending one of the morning races, I spend some time at the post-race resting place for the camels. In the frame below I was attracted by a camel head, its shadow and the official Dubai Racing Club symbol on the wall. 




Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with XF35mm f1.4 lens
  • ISO 160, f5.6, 1/1500s
  • SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) jpeg using:
    • Classic Negative
    • Highlights -1, Shadows +1, Sharpness +2, Noise -1\
More info about upcoming races can be found at Dubai Racing Club website. Unfortunately it is not always kept up to date.

An entire gallery with images shot at the Camel Racing grounds can be found here

Remember: "A camel is a horse designed by a committee" 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 49: OSAKA CASTLE - Fujifilm X-Pro 3 Classic Negative

Over the last few weeks, I've been pretty much exclusively shooting the new Fujifilm X-Pro 3 camera; likely the most controversial released camera of 2019! 

In order to spend some intensive time with the new camera, I elected to last week take it on a 3 day trip to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan; the place where it was born. I intend to blog about my experience with the X-Pro 3 before year end but meanwhile wanted to share a few images of the trip in my Pic(k) of the week section.

The first one is one from Osaka Castle, one of the most touristy and overshot places in Japan. The impressive 5 story building which originally dates back to the 16th century has been rebuilt several times; from several  lightning strikes and resulting fires in the mid 17th century to extensive bombing raids at the end of World War II. 

Rather than shooting the building in a pure Architectural way, I wanted to frame it with in a bit of a different way; after all this piece of architecture has been shot to dead! I used a powerful tree as a main frame for the image to show its majesty and used the new Classic Negative Film simulation to make the image. 

Shooting up from a low perspective, yes I used the tilt screen, allowed me to illuminate the thousands of people present at the site. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with XF23mm f2
  • ISO 320, 1/680s, f13
  • SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) using the following settings:
    • Classic Negative Film Simulation
    • Highlights -2, Shadows +1, Color 0, Nose reduction -1
    • Color Chrome FX Blue, Strong, Clarity +3 
Using the new Clarity setting in the X-Pro3, does slow down the image processing a bit. I therefore only apply it when I see an image that can benefit from it and do it post-shooting in camera. I pretty much exclusively shot Classic Negative on my Japan trip; love the "film look" of this new Film simulation, especially in a place like Japan where one tends to find some real life pretty strange colors to start with!

Remember: "Tell your customers what they need, well before they realize it themselves" - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 48: A380 and AL FURSAN FORMATION - Dubai Airshow

The Dubai Airshow, the regions largest Aviation trade-show has just come to an end again. The five day event is a held every two years (odd years) at the DWC, also known as Al Maktoum airport outside Dubai.

This year, 1288 exhibitors were present, with 161 aircraft in static display while the show attracted more than 84000 trade visitors; the shows busiest to date. The order book on site reached 54.5 Billion USD by close of business on the last day.

As a yearly tradition there was a formation of aircraft to open the show on day 1; but what a formation... With more than 25 aircraft, the flypast started with pairs of three different military helicopters, followed by an Emirates A380 in formation with the UAE military formation team Al Fursan. Thereafter was a UAE Airbus A330 MRT (Multi Role Tanker) with some F-16's and a C-17 with Mirage 2000's. Impressive to see all pass overhead in the span of a couple of minutes. 

While I attended the show as part of the Aviation media, I also shot some images on day 0; the rehearsal day just before the show. The image below of the A380 with Al Fursan, I particularly like, as it looks like it is shot in an air to air shoot. Needless to say that the dramatic clouds in the background made for an interesting add-on. 

Image details:

  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 2000, f11, 1/400s, 183mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom Classic
  • DxO Color efex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
  • DxO Define for minimal noise reduction
The image was added to my Aviation Portfolio, a small collection of my best Aviation work which can be found here

More of the Dubai Airshow 2019 work can be found in its dedicated gallery. here

For those that are wondering, what gear I took to the show; I used my Fujifilm X-T3 (with battery grip) with the XF100-400 and an X-Pro3 with the XF18-135. This combo proved to be perfect for the job while keeping the weight down. 


"When everything is going against you, remember that aircraft take-off against the wind, not with it" - Henry Ford



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 47: SUNSET OVER DUBAI CREEK HARBOUR

As a natural harbour, the Dubai Creek was historically a busy regional hub for trade, fishing and pearling. This is where it all began...  

The end of the Creek is the location of one of Dubai's latest large scale developments, called "Dubai Creek Harbour"; a residential area overlooking the Creek and the neighboring Ras al Khor Wildlife sanctuary, known for its flamingos. It is also the place where the worlds highest "tower" (non-residential)  designed by Spanish architect Calatrava will be built; supposed to surpass the 820m Burj Khalifa.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the part that is open to the public as of now. The art work of three flamingos against the Dubai skyline in the west, begs to be photographed. I shot quite a few different frames and allowed people to vote on social media for this weeks Pic(k) of the week!


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF50-140 f2.8
  • ISO 1600, f13, 1/120s, 63mm (handheld)
  • RAW development in Lightroom using Velvia Camera profile
  • Photoshop 2020 for minor clean up of disturbing subjects
Check out my Instagram account for more shots at Dubai Creek Harbour.  


Remember: "In Dubai we don't wait for things to happen. We make them happen" - H.H. Sheik Mohammed Al Maktoum - Ruler of Dubai