Today my oldest brother and his fiancée got married. The wedding was held on the beach, with the sun and surf joining the 80 guests in witnessing the ceremony and vows. It was fantastic!
My brother had asked me if I could take photos during the ceremony, and of course, I was happy to do so. I’m not a wedding photographer so this was pretty new for me, however, I have some experience shooting events and have confidence in how to operate the camera so I wasn’t nervous at all. And that made it a lot of fun!
While I was taking photos, I remember thinking that when I was younger, I would have been so nervous about how the shots will turn out, if I am getting the right angles, if I am missing shots, etc. All those feelings were not present this time, though! I guess that just comes with experience and preparation. And I’m sure the fact that no money was involved and it was a casual wedding had plenty to do with it too. 😀
Anyways, the lighting conditions were pretty challenging (direct sun backlighting) but it made for some really nice shots too. I made lots of use of exposure compensation and was thankful that Fujifilm provides that dedicated mechanical dial just for that function. As much as I dislike using zoom lenses, I have to admit, the Fujifilm 18-55 XF lens worked nicely for the shoot.
All in all, I am happy with how the photos turned out, and I am happy that I was able to be a part of an amazing and joyous event!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a big trip coming up (to China!) and since I will be taking a suitcase for this trip, it got me thinking about my travel photography kit. 📷 Specifically, with the extra space, maybe I should bring along the Fujifilm X-T10 and its two lenses. And maybe I can bring the 50mm f/1.4 Minolta lens as well. It’s China after all! We’ll be seeing some amazing sights, so I might as well be prepared to get wide shots, plus some tight shots, so the 18-55mm zoom will be perfect. With this in mind, I figured I should get a couple extra batteries (I only have one for the X-T10), so I put a couple in my Amazon shopping cart.
But before pulling the trigger on the batteries, I thought of my recent trip to New York, last year’s vacation to Morocco and Spain, my work trip to Stockholm, and the reason why I decided to just take my Fujifilm X100T.
And that reason can be summed up in one word: Simplicity.
The Fujifilm X100 series of cameras have a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens which simplifies the act of shooting photos. I don’t have to think about what lens to put on and what would work best in each situation. And later, I won’t be able to second-guess my decision. With the X100T, I have to use the 35mm field of view for everything. If I can’t get close enough by moving my feet, then so be it. Forget about that shot and move on. If I must have a super-wide shot, then Lightroom can stitch a couple photos together. But taking the lens choice decision out of the equation makes shooting so much more stress-free, and therefore more fun!
Of course, having the single camera and fixed lens also makes for a smaller and lighter kit. (a nice bonus is that I don’t have to worry about getting dust on the sensor). My back and knees appreciate the lightweight setup, I’m sure! 😀
So, I’ve reaffirmed my choice of travel kit (and everyday kit, to be honest). And here it is:
Frankly, the power bank is mainly used for charging my phone, and I can’t remember the last time I used the microfiber cloth, instead opting for the Lens Pen. The USB cable does double-duty since it charges my phone.
This setup is so compact, I don’t even need a dedicated camera bag. And since I am usually wearing the camera across my body using the strap, I just have to put the burrito organizer in whatever bag I happen to have. For instance, in New York I used a small MoMA shopping bag all day. It was a great set up! Burrito, power bank, phone, and umbrella in the bag, camera across my body, and that’s it.
I believe that a simpler, minimalistic life can make you happy, and that a simple, minimalistic camera kit can make photography a lot more enjoyable. In fact, I experience it firsthand every time I walk out the door!
The 50mm lens is what I used a lot my Minolta X-700, and more recently with my Sony A77 via an adapter, so I thought it would be cool to put it on the Fujifilm. I am happy to report that the quality of the photos that the lens produces with the Fujifilm is much better than the ones produced with the Sony. The edges are sharper and there’s less chromatic aberration. I’m not sure why the Sony images weren’t as good, since the adapter simply acts as a spacer between the lens and sensor. I can only guess that the adapter I used with the Sony was a tiny bit too long or short.
At any rate, the 50mm lens produces some lovely bokeh at the wider end, and when stopped down to f/3.6 the sharpness increases quite a bit. Using a manual-focus lens on a mirrorless body is easy because of the focus peaking feature, which overlays color outlines over the parts of the image that are in focus. I love it!
Now I have another option that I can use with my single body/lens philosophy, which seems to be working out nicely. Just yesterday I used the X-T10 and 35mm lens combination at the Fourth of July party, and I am really happy with the images! And I don’t mind “zooming with my feet” with the prime lens. It’s actually kind of fun!
So recently I sent my Sony A77 DSLR + 16-50mm lens to my niece in California. She’s going to do some photography for her school next year and wanted to use a more serious camera. Since I rarely use my DSLR, I was happy to let her use it indefinitely.
So now the camera collection has been pared down some and it has simplified my photographic choices a tiny bit. Honestly, I only used the A77 for video and when I needed an ultra-wide angle shot that only the Sigma 10-20mm could handle. But I can now take care of the video with other cameras and how often did I really use the UWA lens?
Currently, my digital camera kit comes down to 3 bodies: the Fujifilm X100T, the Fujifilm X-T10, and the Sony NEX-6. Here’s how I use each:
Fujifilm X100T – The camera I use 90% of the time, and the one that is almost always with me (unless I have X-T10 that day). I love the 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) frame of view and the near-silent leaf-shutter.
Also, I find the limitation of the non-interchangeable, fixed-focal-length lens to be liberating. No need to think about what lens to use. Just compose with the 23mm and shoot. No second-guessing, no indecision, and no regrets! It’s a great feeling.
Plus, the camera is so sexy!
Fujifilm X-T10 – I’m starting to enjoy using this camera as a backup to the X100T. It’s got the same sensor, image quality, and the size is also similar to the X100T, so it’s familiar and easy. I mainly use the X-T10 for company events and presentations, where the excellent 18-55mm zoom’s versatility shines – I can get in close, without having to get right in front of the presenter.
I also have the excellent 35mm (48mm equivalent) f/2 lens which makes beautiful images – sharp in-focus, and nicely blurred out-of-focus. Plus, the focusing is lightning-fast, silent, and the lens is physically small.
Sony NEX-6 – This camera stays in the glove compartment of my car, where I use it for quick snapshots of clouds or other interesting things on the road. It powers on quickly with just one hand. The wide-angle (24mm equivalent) of the 16-50mm kit lens is perfect for shooting without composing – I just point in the general direction and shoot away. Here’s an example of a shot from the car, although this one was taken by Koa who was riding shotgun.
I have a way of thinking about how I use my cameras, which might seem strange, but I’ve found it is shared by many other photographers – I prefer a minimalistic setup since it cuts out a layer of decision-making which bothers me. Logically, it would seem that having the flexibility of zooming or changing lenses would contribute to a better photographic experience (you won’t “miss the shot”), but that’s not the case for me. When I have too many choices, I always second-guess myself and that feeling is unsettling.
On the other hand, when there is only one choice of focal length, I see the situation more quickly and that simplicity makes photography much more enjoyable and less stressful. I believe a lot of X100-series photographers experience this same feeling.
With that in mind, when I do take the X-T10 with me, I’ll put on the 35mm prime lens and that is my setup. I don’t take any other camera, nor lenses. I’ve made the choice already before I step out the door, and there’s no going back, so to speak. By setting limits, I can enjoy the simple photography experience even with an interchangeable lens camera.
I mentioned that I also have the 18-55mm zoom lens, which is fantastic and takes great images. But the problem with that (at least for me) is that not only is it too big, but I dislike having to make the decision of what focal length to choose. No, I don’t see the convenience of a zoom as a plus for my personal photography. It takes away much of the joy of snapping photos.
So I’ve decided the 18-55mm lens is only for work, where the images are strictly for documentary purposes. I’m taking those photos simply for the company’s success, not for any kind of artistic expression.
With all that being said, I’ll be taking the X-T10 with 35mm lens out tomorrow night when we visit a friends’ house for a barbecue. I hope to get some nice images!
Warning, this post is a bit of a rant… but here goes.
There’s a school of thought that says the surest way to lose passion in a hobby is to turn it into your job. There’s some truth to that sentiment, and I experienced it today. If you follow my blog or know me in person, you know that I love photography. However, I don’t like to take photos for my work and for a few years now, I’ve kind of handed that job off to others as much as possible. I don’t mind the occasional photoshoot when we’re in a bind, but I’d rather leave it to the professionals, or others who have interest in it.
So it was with serious reservation (and after kindly refusing once) that I agreed to do some headshots. Well, that seems to have turned into taking photos for several more small events. Ugh… Don’t get me wrong, I love taking photos, but the time spent culling and post-processing can be long, especially because I want to spend the proper amount of time to do a good job. (plus the common perception from non-photographers is that you just snap the photo and upload it)
This morning I took photos for a company event, and it was time-consuming. It was a one-hour event, and I ended up with 440 shots to go thru. After four passes of culling, I got it down to 19 images. From there, it was on to post-processing. And there goes 2+ hours of the day.
I enjoy processing photos in Lightroom, but not for work. I want to enjoy it purely for fun and relaxation at home, with photos I have interest in.
This afternoon I was supposed to take photos for another event, but after spending all that time in Lightroom, I was kind of burnt out, plus the event was outdoors and the lighting was contrasty and harsh. So I really wasn’t in the groove. I still got a few shots, but it was difficult and I deleted most of the photos because they weren’t good. 😫 Also, each click of the shutter adds a few minutes to the workday. It sucks to think that way, but that’s reality. Hey, time is money, and I’m not getting paid by the hour. 😆
Also, photography is its own totally different discipline so it’s hard to shift attention in the middle of other tasks. I don’t think people realize that. I mean, I know people realize that task-switching is inefficient, but they don’t realize that photography is a separate way of thinking from print design, ad design, etc. It’s all the same, isn’t it? (no)
Anyway, I usually carry my camera with me when I go out, but this evening, I didn’t even want to pick it up. 😓 That was kind of depressing. I like to keep my work and my home life separate, but these photo duties at work steal the enjoyment out of something I really like doing for fun on my own time.
So, today’s daily photo is just a simple still-life of some of my favorite things: watches, pens/pencils, and a coaster from a bar in Japan. Oh, and my passport since I need it for a visa application for a China trip.
I don’t know… maybe I’m just a bit burnt out because it was two photo shoots in one day? Or maybe it’s because I am kind of swamped with work and the photography is a significant time-sink? I’m hoping it’s one of those because I enjoy my work and I’d hate for photography to ruin the good thing I have going. Or maybe the solution is to not spend what I think is the proper amount of time on work-related photos, and just do a half-assed job? (I don’t know if I could do that, actually)
Sorry for today’s rant. I rarely vent, so today is an anomaly… I promise!
Today’s photo is of my favorite digital camera and my favorite film camera. I’ve seen quite a few videos about shooting film, and there’s a general revival of film photography happening. It’s pretty cool! I guess all the younger photographers who grew up with digital are discovering film. I think it’s great.
I love my old film cameras and had so much fun shooting with them. Because I learned photography by shooting film, they hold a special place for me, and each of my film cameras has certain sentimental value. Actually, that’s not true. I have a few that I acquired later on that I don’t have any real attachment too, and I should probably donate those. But my Minolta X-700, α507si, Nikon F, Holga 120, and Olympus XA are keepers!
That said, I don’t see myself shooting film in the future. I just think the advantages of digital are so great that the charm of film cannot overcome them. The combination of digital and Lightroom allows me to create the photographic style I like, plus the speed of processing that I require to post to my blog every day requires a digital camera. As much as I enjoyed shooting film, it’s simply a hassle to develop the film.
I guess for me it’s also a case of “been there, done that”. But for the younger photo-enthusiasts, it’s a whole new world to explore, and that is wonderful. I get excited thinking that they might be experiencing that same magic of discovery that I experienced when I learned how to develop film and make prints in the dark room. It was a great time. I honestly feel that film is something you have to try out at some point as a photographer because it is an important part of photography that still exists and it’ll be an itch that you’ll have to scratch, or it will stay at the back of your mind and drive you crazy.
Anyways, I will hold on to my precious film cameras and maybe someday my sons or even grandkids might want to use them to shoot some film. 😀