During a move, I come across my Grandfather's Polaroid SX-70 Alpha2 SE and several boxes of film. What do I have to lose by seeing if this works? In part 1 of this two-part vlog, I provide a little history of the SX-70 and how it works.
I think it is important to hit the reset button once in a while. Start over. Take a step back. Evaluate. Creatively or technically. In photography, it's popular to say that it isn't about the technology or the camera, it's about the creativity. Sometimes, however, the technology can affect the creative.
I've been shooting with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for nearly two years. Shortly after receiving the camera I wrote a blog post titled: "Fujifilm X-Pro2 Initial Settings," and that was also the last time I took a deep dive into the entirety of the camera's menu system.
During the past few months there have been several occasions where I was seeing the photograph, but struggling with capturing what I was seeing. It seemed to be a case of technology getting in the way of the creative. Something that I never experienced before with the X-Pro2.
Over time a camera setting or two get changed, new features are added via firmware updates (4.01 as of this blog), and before you know it, it's possible the technology no longer matches the creative. Or matches how you're used to capturing the creative.
So did I change or did the camera? I felt myself falling out of love with the camera, but I wasn't ready to get divorced. The X-Pro2 is still a top of the line camera and I see no reason to leave, so maybe I just need a little marriage counseling. A reset button.
So with that in mind, I reset the camera to its factory defaults. A fresh start. Next, I opened the manual and went through every setting as if I had just purchased the camera. Lastly, I revisited that blog post from 2016 and compared those settings to what I had just done. Surprisingly, they matched up, with only one exception. I now use both Electronic Shutter (ES) and Mechanical Shutter (MS) depending on the situation. Most notably when using an electronic remote cable release, the camera must be set to MS.
There is no need to run through the initial settings again, you can go back and read them, however, I do want to talk about some choices I made that weren't available in 2016 when I wrote that initial blog post.
1. Copyright info in EXIF data. This allows you to register the photographer's name and the copyright holder's name in advance so that the camera automatically adds the information to EXIF data for each image.
2. Addition of "Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display" in the View Mode. This isn't an option I use all the time, but it does have some advantages, especially when shooting landscapes or if you need to compose a photograph while holding the camera away from your eye.
3. Voice Memo function. While not available during shooting, this function allows you to record a 30-second voice memo while in the playback mode. This is useful if you need to record a name or something special about a photograph without having to write it down.
Maybe, in the end, this is really more of a creative reset and I'm using the camera as an excuse. Nothing wrong with that.
Finally, another new feature now available is support for backup/restore of camera settings via FUJIFILM X Aquire. In the future, if I want to reset, I will no longer have to return to zero, just to my proven settings that match my shooting style.
It is said that you can't take it with you. But that doesn't stop most of us from accumulating a whole lot of stuff over a lifetime. And associated with all that stuff are memories. Memories of a lifetime.
Nothing makes it clearer just how much stuff you have then when you move, or in my case, what I hope to be a final move. I've moved before and much of my stuff has followed and this frustrates me now, but explains why I still have so much stuff.
In the end, it comes down to decisions. Tough decisions that I've clearly put off before and most certainly have put off for the past 25 years in the Philadelphia house. What to keep, what to dispose of or donate, becomes the big question.
One way I've come to terms with making the big decisions is to photograph my stuff, the objects that represent my life. Or at least the objects that represented the first 55 years. Note, I will not accumulate more stuff.
This is a photography blog, and I'm a photographer, so it may seem like this idea came naturally to me. It didn't. I have always been attracted to the physical object, but I've also spent the majority of my life capturing the physical object, first on film, and more recently, digitally, so now is the time to compromise.
And compromise is the only way forward. To date, I've filled a dozen trash bags with more to fill. Some stuff is easy to let go of, for other stuff, a quick cell phone shot will suffice. For other items, a small studio set up and a proper photograph is the only way to truly do my stuff justice.
However, there will always be a few items that I can't replace with a photograph.
Which is probably why after photographing the stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll from my childhood, it went back in a box and has yet to be thrown out. Maybe some things are harder to part with than others.
I'd also caution against printing out all those photographs, because, well, you get the idea.
The biggest problem with photographing landscapes in the fog is actually predicting when there will be fog. And while timing, location, and a little luck are important, an understanding of the types and causes of fog may help lift the veil and put you, and your camera, in the right place at the right time.
But before we get into the details, why would you want to shoot in the fog anyway? For me, fog provides a softness or ethereal feeling that adds interest to the landscape. It's the unknown, the mystery. Fog can also obscure unwanted backgrounds and help to isolate a subject. But it really is that otherworldly feeling that gets me excited.
So then what is fog? It might help to think of it as clouds at ground level. Made up of condensed water droplets which are the result of air being cooled to the point where it can no longer hold all the water vapor it contains.
There are four types of fog.
Radiation fog is formed on clear nights with relatively little or no wind present and usually forms in low-lying areas like mountain valleys. Radiation fog usually burns off as the sun and temperature rises.
Advection fog is when a layer of warm, moist air moves over a cool surface and is most common in coastal areas where sea breezes blow the air over cooler landmasses.
Upslope fog happens when moist stable air is forced up sloping land like a mountain range. Unlike radiation fog, upslope and advection fog may not burn off with the morning sun and may persist for days.
And finally, steam fog forms when cold, dry air moves over warm water and as it rises, resembles smoke. It is most common over bodies of water during the coldest times of the year.
Understanding the types of fog and when they might occur may help you to predict when and where it will happen. Or like me, you might just get lucky.
And unlike John Carpenter's movie "The Fog", you probably won't encounter any vengeful ghosts of shipwrecked mariners, but the fact that you don't know for sure is what will add interest to your photographs. And if it adds interest for you, then it will certainly add interest to viewers of your photography.
Right up front, this is not a complaint about the price of Really Right Stuff (RRS) products. Yes, RRS gear can be expensive. It is also quality gear and more than likely will last you a lifetime of photography.
My grandfather often said that you have to pay for an education. So it's natural for new photographers, after spending a significant amount of money on a camera and lens, to look for a bargain on accessories. Only after purchasing those bargain accessories do they realize that they have to now spend more money buying what they should have considered buying in the first place.
Which brings me to point of this blog. I've used several ball heads on my Gitzo Mountaineer series 0 tripod in the past, starting with the Arca Swiss Monoball B1. That is an expensive ball head, so it isn't always about the bargain for me, sometimes I just need to do more research. That ball head was overkill for my tripod, especially when I switched from a DSLR to a Fujifilm X-Pro2 for my landscape photography. In an initial effort to go lighter and smaller, I purchased the Demon DB-46 Tripod Ball Head. At around that same time, I also purchased my first L-Plate, the universal quick release L-Bracket. Both the ball head and the L-bracket worked fine, and for a total investment at the time of around $60, I guess it worked well enough for me to get by for two years. But it was my grandfather's advice that would come back to haunt me.
I was reading the new RRS magazine, Light & Shadow, and was intrigued enough to visit their website and check out some gear. The first thing that caught my attention was the RRS BXPro2-L Set L-Plate. The difference between this L-Plate and the knock-off I owned was night and day. Sure, the other L-Plate worked, but it always felt like it was just an accessory and somewhat in the way. The RRS L-Plate is custom made for the camera and in my case, fits the X-Pro2 perfectly. I can access the battery compartment and the connections on the side of the camera without having to remove or loosen it. After several weeks of use, it really is part of the camera, almost as if Fuji had added it themselves. Then during a recent trip to the Smoky Mountains I become frustrated with the Demon ball head. It wasn't smooth and I was never quite sure when turning the locking knob if I was tightening or loosening the ball head. Besides, it seemed like a crime using this really nice RRS L-Plate on a substandard ball head. So, when I returned home, I was right back on the RRS website and ended up purchasing the RRS BH-30 Ball Head with Mini Screw-Knob Clamp. I had to think a bit about the cost, $260.00, but again, after using this ball head for several weeks now, I'm glad I did.
The ball head is smooth, light and just right for my camera. A feature I really appreciate is the oversized spring-loaded locking T-lever that can be pulled out and repositioned. A nice bit of attention to detail. Even in the dark, with gloves on, there is no fumbling around when making adjustments.
I was lucky to get great advice from a mentor when I was purchasing my first professional camera gear in 1985. At the time I wasn't sure I really wanted to spend around $250 for a tripod, but guess what, I still have that Bogan 3020 Series tripod today. It's a little heavy and only gets used if I'm working out of the car, but the point is that it was money well spent.
So my advice is to do the research, buy quality gear and only buy it once.