Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 46: AFHAN BAKERY - FIRST IMPRESSIONS - FUJIFILM X-PRO 3

The launch of the new Fujfilm X-Pro 3 has been controversial with quite a few people being very opinionated about the new "hidden LCD" screen at the back of the X-Pro 3. I personally always refrain from commenting on new camera gear until I've had hands-on experience!

I shot the new X-Pro 3 for a week but unfortunately had to return it earlier than expected to the fine guys of Fujifilm Middle-East. I do however a second copy in the coming days and will eventually blog about my experience with the new camera somewhere in December. Meanwhile a few words below as part of this weeks Pic(k) of the week. 



I've never been a full time X-Pro user, but have always enjoyed using the Range Finder like X-series. The newer Processor and sensor brings image quality and autofocus in line with the present X-T3; in some aspects even better, but there is much more. When it comes to "developing the in-camera jpegs" there are new options to fine-tune the image and then there is the new "Classic Negative" Film simulation which works great for Colour Street photography. If you like Classic Chrome, you'll love this one! Not sure why Fujifilm just didn't call it Superia, since it clearly simulates this type of film. A good explanation by Fujifilm about Classic Negative, can be found here.

And then there is the LCD screen or the lack of it should I say. In to avoid  "chimping" (looking at the images you took on the LCD), Fujifilm has decided to flip the screen around facing the back of the camera. According to Fujifilm in the interest of going back to "pure photography" and in order to avoid "chimping" (slang for reviewing images on the LCD straight after shooting). There is a mini display at the back displaying the common cameras settings or the selected Film Simulation.

If you want do some more involved menu changes or can't resist reviewing the  images, the LCD does however hinge at the bottom displaying the LCD below the camera. The flip down LCD screen also works great for shooting from the hip, something I often do for my candid photography in more sensitive areas.

Back to my Pic(k) of the week, shot while hunting the streets of Deira, in the old part of Dubai. Yes, I know. I do have a sweet spot for those Afghani bakeries. Maybe because I'm the son of a baker myself? 



Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with XF23mm f2 lens
  • ISO 6400, 1/100s, f 9
  • Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) using the new Classic Negative film simulation
Two other things stood out while using the X-Pro 3 for the first time. The X-Pro 3 EVF (Electronic View Finder) is a lot better than its predecessor X-Pro 2. 

Secondly the Custom settings of this camera now store all of the menu settings like it should have been since day one on all X-series. While before Custom settings were limited to IQ (image Quality) settings only, one can now save all of the AF/MF settings, Shooting settings and some of the Set up menus like screen set-up etc... A great addition which is hopefully going to come to the other cameras like the X-T3, X-T30!

The new X-Pro 3 is clearly not for everybody, nor is it meant to be. Don't forget that there are plenty of other great Fujifilm (and other brands) cameras around. Pick what you like best and most importantly, make some great images!

Lastly, remember: "Less is more" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe



Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 45: ON THE STREETS OF CUSCO, PERU

This weeks Pic(k) of the week, will be the fourth and last one from my recent photo-adventure to Peru last month. In case you missed it, check out the earlier posts, Paraglider take-off in Lima, Maras Salt Mines and Machu Picchu

When traveling I always try and do some Street Photography along the way. The  old capital of Peru, Cusco was great for this. With its narrow streets and colorful people it was heaven for street work. 

While acclimatizing to the higher elevations in a park in Cusco, I saw an older lady sitting at a bus station. The combination of the old with the new advertising posters immediately resonated with me as it is a good illustration how a single frame can sometimes tell a story...


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF16-80 f4 lens
  • ISO 1000, f8, 1/500s, 52mm
  • Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) using the Classic Chrome Film Simulation (-1 Highlights, +1 Shadows, +2 Sharpness, -1 Noise Reduction) 
One might notice that I shot this image with a zoom lens; something that is quite unusual for my street photography as I'm a strong advocate for shooting prime lenses for this genre of photography. This is typically where the 50mm f2 lens would have worked perfectly. I often refer to this lens (my review) as my "across the street" type of street photography lens which literary was the case above. 

I've added this image to my "Best Colour Street photo work", check it out here

I'm presently testing a new camera for Fujifilm Middle East which is "made for Street Photography"; the brand-new Fujifilm X-Pro 3. There will be an in the field review later in the month, however if you would like to follow the process be sure to follow me on Instagram here.

Remember: "The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find on the street" - Robert Doisneau




Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 44: Machu Picchu - The lost city of the Inca

Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I’m clearly not alone as it is the number one reason people visit Peru. Having said so, this great South-American country has of course much more to offer. 

Most archeologists believe Machu Picchu was built as an estate for Inca emperor Pachacuti in the middle of the 15th century; more than 550 years ago! It was eventually abandoned about 100 years later at the the time of the Spanish conquest. While known locally, the Spanish didn’t know about Machu Picchu and it was American historian Hiram Bingham who (re)discovered the place in 1911. 

Since the Inca didn’t have any written language, people don’t always agree what the main purpose of Machu Picchu was. Most tends to think along the lines of a Royal refuge. National Geographic who first wrote about the place after Bingham discovered it, list 5 different possible purposes in a interesting read here.

Today, one can hike the Inca trail to Manchu Picchu from a few difference place; the longest taking 4 to 6 days. Alternatively one can take a train from Ollyantambo (about 1h30 outside Cusco) to Aguas Calientes to then catch a bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. Tickets for train and entry to the site need to be purchased before the travel dates are numbers are limited. High season JUL-SEP, tickets often sell out months in advance. 

It doesn’t matter how one travels to Machu Picchu, the first sight remains something very special! 

The image below, is one of the first images I made of the Lost city of the Incas just after opening time at 6am at the sun started hitting the city.



Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF16-80 f4 lens
  • ISO 800, f16, 1/250s, 21mm
  • RAW file development in Lightroom CC
  • DxO ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast using Pro Contrast filter
More images of my latest Peru trip can be found here.

Remember: "To Travel is to live". 








Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 43: VIEW FROM ABOVE - MARAS SALT MINES, PERU

During our latest photo-adventure to Peru, there were 3 main places I really wanted to photograph. The number one of course being, Machu Picchu; shooting some of the Andean Condors with their 3m wingspan and last but not least, the Maras Salt mines in the Sacred valley a couple of hours outside Cusco.

These salt pools date back to the Wari civilization (500-1000 AD), more than 1000 years ago, but it was especially the Inca's in the 14th century that took the salt exploitation to the next level. There are several thousand salt pools at Maras, placed delicately on a mountain slope. Most (if not all) belong to families living in the two neighboring villages; the number of pools being carefully shared based on the size of the family. Once harvested, the salt is sold on site as well as in local markets and is known for its high nutrition quality. 

Normally salt pools are found in coastal plains. Placed at 3400 m in the Andes mountains far away from the sea, this side is of course very different. A natural spring feeds a salt rich stream that flows into the pools which are opened and dammed by the owners of the individual pools. Once the pool is filled, the water is closed off and allowed to evaporate. A few weeks later the salt is then being scraped off. All of it is done with manual hard labour; mostly early morning or just before sunset. 

Until last summer, tourists were allowed to walk along the top ridge of the pools. As some of the salt was being contaminated, this is no longer allowed. A shame on the tourists again!

Even though, there are still some interesting viewpoints over the pools, including a wooden viewing point that is "close enough". I do recommend using a longer lens; around 200 mm full frame equivalent, for those higher impact photos.

I shot a few hundred images at the pools; making it the most photogenic place of our Peru Photo-adventure. The one below I particularly like as the three people working on the left hand side, gives it the extra bit of scale. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF50-140mm f2.8 lens 
  • ISO 400, 1/500s, f11, 135mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC using Velvia Color Profile
  • DxO Nik ColorEfex Pro4 for optimal contrast
The above image is definitively one that will be printed large as part of my Aerial collection. More images shot at Maras as well as all over Peru can be found here

Remember: "Don't always thrust what you see. Even salt looks like sugar".






Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 42: PARAGLIDER TAKE-OFF, LIMA - PERU

As I’m writing this, our Peru photo-adventure has come to a close. The 12 day trip started and ended in the capital Lima; a city along the Pacific with close to 10 millions inhabitants (1/3 of the total population of Peru) .What it trip it has been! Great experiences, great food and some good photography. What else can a Travel photographer wish for?

During the Southern Hemisphere winter, Lima is known for its morning fog and generally overcast skies. This is due to the colder water of the Pacific in what is otherwise supposed to be a tropical climate. 

On our second afternoon there, there was a lot of paragliding going on in Miraflores, ones of the better neighborhoods in Lima. With the sun breaking through the overcast over the ocean, it was a great opportunity to shoot silhouettes. 

I decided to still leave a little bit of detail in the image below (especially on the parasail). While I experimented with black and white for the shot, the warm glow of the sun peaking through the clouds added quite a bit to the overal atmosphere. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the new XF16-80 f4 lens
  • ISO 160, f5.6, 1/680s
  • Straight out of camera (SOOC) jpeg shot in Velvia Film Simulation mode
During the trip I only brought my 12 inch iPad Pro as I wanted to see how it can replace my MacBook laptop during my travels. Since the recently released iPadOS operating system, one can now connect external harddrives to the iPad which allows for a in the field photo back-up. As expected it is still a bot of a work in progress there were still a few bugs here and there.

I've just completed the editing process; images can be found in their dedicated Peru gallery here. One can of course expect to see some more Pic(k) of the weeks over the next few weeks.

Using the XF16-80 lens as my main travel lens has been great. I shot 90% of  the images on the lens and found it a great travel solution. In case you missed it, my XF16-80 lens review can be found here


Remember: "Those that fly solo, have the strongest wings” - anon