Milky Way Photos and Hiking Out of the Chisos Mountains

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 25 sec, ISO3200
“Milky Way” Big Bend, 2021

This morning I woke up at 5 am and right outside my tent was the Milky Way. It was awesome! I got out my Fujifilm X-E4 with 18-55 mm lens, put it on the Ultrapod and took a few shots. There were only a few clouds in the sky so the shots looked pretty good, and I even captured a few shooting stars. In fact, with the 30-second exposure, almost every shot had at least one shooting star in it. It was so cool!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/1000 sec, ISO25
“Sunrise” Big Bend, 2021

Soon, the sun made its way into the day, and after a sunrise photo and some coffee, it was time to hit the trail. We hiked Laguna Meadows Trail all the way down to the Chisos Basin, seeing one large bear along the way. It was digging a hole near the trail so we had to scoot past pretty quickly, bear-spray at the ready. Very exciting!

At the end of the hike, I splurged on a Topo Chico and mango ice cream bar before we hit the road. After a couple of hours we arrived at Fort Stockton and had lunch at Pepito’s, where I had a huge burger. It was a good way to satisfy my hiker hunger!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO25
“Refreshments” Big Bend, 2021

Here are a few more photos and the Strava track from the last day of our Big Bend trip. Enjoy!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/480 sec, ISO25
“Switchback” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/950 sec, ISO25
“Laguna Meadows Trail” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/5300 sec, ISO25
“Casa Grande” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 4.2mm, f/1.6, 1/60 sec, ISO500
“Pepito’s Burger” Fort Stockton, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 20 sec, ISO3200
“Triple Shooting Stars” Big Bend, 2021

Scanning Old Snapshots Using Photoshop

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO800
“Scanning Snapshots” Cedar Park, 2021

I’ve started scanning in old print photos in an effort to declutter the home office and make it easier to browse. I find it much more convenient to look at photos on the computer or iPad than opening a box of snapshots. However, I never started on the large scanning project until now.

It took a bit of tweaking the workflow, but I think I have optimized and automated it as best as I could using my Epson 4490 Scanner and Adobe Photoshop. The basic steps are:

    1. Place multiple photos on the scanner bed. I can fit four 3×5″ or two 4×6″ photos per scan. I find it best to offset/skew the photos a bit so that they DO NOT line up. This will help out later.
    2. In Photoshop, choose File > Import > WIA Support… Select a destination folder and check “Open Acquired…”, then Enter. Next select the scanner and Enter. For my particular scanner, I have the option to scan at a custom DPI, and I chose 300 DPI. I have the scan area set to the entire scanner bed, and I do not use Preview. Just Scan. I mapped the F9 key to launch WIA Support, so I can just type F9, Enter, Enter, C (to select custom), and Enter. The scanner will do it’s thing, and the BMP will open in Photoshop. The destination folder is where Photoshop will save the BMP files, which I will delete later.
    3. Choose File > Automate > Crop and Straighten Photos. This will create separate images for each photo in the BMP file (see the photo above). I’ve set this command to be my F10 key. If the photos are too close together or lined up too well on the scanner bed, Photoshop might think they are a single photo, which is why it’s better to place them askew on the scanner bed. In my workflow, I CTRL+TAB to check the images and rotate any images that need it (I have F12 mapped to Rotate 90 degrees clockwise). At this point you can save each image if you’d like, but since I want to scan many more photos, I remove the photos from the scanner, and begin again.
    4. After I have scanned several batches of photos (and Photoshop is filled with windows), it’s time to save the files. Because the cropped/straightened images are not actually saved as files, the Image Processor script I want to use in Step 5 will not work (yet). So, we need to temporarily save all the open images. The easiest way I’ve found is to type CTRL+ALT+W to close all images. In the dialog box, check Apply to All, then Yes. In the next dialog box, select a folder where the individual BMP files will be saved. Then I just hit enter for each subsequent dialog box.
    5. Next, I will save all the BMP files as JPGs. In Photoshop, choose File > Scripts > Image Processor… In the dialog box’s step 1 section, choose the folder where you saved the individual BMPs from Step 4. In the next section, I then to save the processed image into a new folder. Choose any other desired settings, then click Run. I mapped the F11 key to run the Image Processor. You will now have a folder full of JPG images!
    6. Lastly, delete all the BMPs that were created in Step 4 (and step 2 if you wish) and you can start on the next batch.

That’s pretty much the process I have been using and it works well for me. What’s nice is that Photoshop will create new names for each file (and not overwrite). I definitely recommend mapping the keys for the Photoshop menu items. It makes it much quicker!

Here’s my process in a nutshell: Put the photos on the scanner, type F9, Enter, Enter, C, Enter. I wait for the scanner to finish, then hit F10. CTRL+TAB to check the photos and F12 any photos that need rotating. Then I start the next batch of scanning. After I have many open files, I hit CTRL+ALT+W to save and close the files. Then F11 to create the JPG files. Delete the BMP files and begin the next batch. Easy-peasy! I don’t even need to touch the mouse except to delete the BMPs in File Explorer.

I hope this helps out anyone who wants to scan a bunch of snapshots!

Brief Storm

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/8, 1/2400 sec, ISO320
“Mammatus Clouds” Cedar Park, 2021

A storm rolled though the area this afternoon, with a severe weather watch in effect for a couple of hours. We had heavy rain, no hail, and an amazing showing by the storm clouds! These photos are highly stylized in Adobe Lightroom, but I really like them. They look like the undersides of ocean waves, don’t they?

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/8, 1/1600 sec, ISO160
“Mammatus Clouds” Cedar Park, 2021

I hope you had a nice day! またね~

Astro-Photography from the Rest Stop

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 13 sec, ISO1600
“Stars Above” Deming, 2021

I woke up early from my highway rest stop accommodations, and while packing up, I decided to put the Fujifilm X-E4 on the tripod and point it up at the Milky Way. I am pretty happy with the result that the XF 18-55mm “kit” lens produced (with some editing in Adobe Lightroom). 🌃

Orchid Snapshot

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO160
“Small Orchid” Cedar Park, 2021

I’m impressed with the quality of the Fujinon XF27mm F2.8 R WR lens. The sharpness, bokeh, and color are so much better than the 23mm f/2 lens on my X100T. It’s not quite as good as the Fujinon XF35mm F2 R WR lens in terms of sharpness, color, and focusing, but it’s excellent for a pancake lens.

FYI, the photo of the orchid has the vibrance bumped up a bit, and sharpness enhanced in the center of the top-left orchid.