Category Archives: Equipment

What kind of camera equipment I own, the camera equipment I have rented, and the times that I use particular equipment

Fujifilm GFX 100 The Landscape Camera Of My Dreams

Hosta
Hosta – Closer
Hosta – Closest (93%)

Recently, I sold off quite a bit of my camera equipment that I don’t really use any longer, and managed to purchase the Fujifilm GFX100. I’d really wanted to purchase the GFX100s, but that thing is on backorder probably until 2022 (just kidding – sort of).

This morning, I took the GFX100 out for a spin around the yard. I’d already gotten it all set up, but had not actually taken any photos with it. I’m heading out to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument next week and figured I’d better do some test runs to make sure I understand how to get most of what I want from the camera.

After my 15 minutes outside, I must say I am totally blown away with the results. Editing was minimal – just some light/dark adjust and a little increased color saturation. I didn’t use sharpening for any of these images. I’m still learning and during this upcoming trip will fine-tune things (hopefully). I’d like it all to be “camera ready” for my big trip in a few months to Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite national parks.

The photos above are of a hosta plant. With that last image, I tried to crop it at 100 percent but I’m apparently not that good with cropping ratios. I managed to get to 93 percent crop and the photo looks as if I’d captured it with my Sony mirrorless – it looks that awesome even at such a crop. This makes me think it’s a landscape photographer’s dream – at least, this landscape photographer’s dream.

So, a few first impressions here:

I turned off the focus point beep so it wouldn’t be intrusive. However, I guess I didn’t turn off any noise regarding the shutter click (still learning the menu system). That said, the shutter click noise is quiet (to me), which is nice.

The menu system is pretty easy to understand – far easier than the Sony menu system but not quite as intuitive as the Canon menu system. Still, it’s easy. There’s just a lot of menu items to go through in order to find what you want (like the command for formatting the memory card).

There are dual memory card slots. I must say, the door to the slots feels kind of flimsy – as if it might snap off if I am not careful.

An acquaintance of mine who has had this camera for far longer than I, told me that attaching and removing the lens was “backward” to his Nikon. That, of course, means it’s just like my canon, which for me, is easy. So, no problems there.

The GFX 100 does not have that mode dial that my other cameras have. I miss that, but it was definitely not a deal breaker for me. I see the GFX 100s has the mode dial. And, speaking of modes, I am a total manual settings person, but I have to tell you, trying to figure out how to set the camera to manual took me quite a while to figure out, even with the instructions. You’re given a few choices for programming the front command dial (I chose ISO) and a few choices for programming the rear command dial (I chose shutter speed) then to make it completely manual, you simply twist the aperture ring on the lens to choose your aperture.

The top LCD is always on, even when the camera itself is off. I don’t know how much of a drain that puts on the batteries, but the juice to keep that LCD on has to come from somewhere, right? The LCD itself is nice and clear and easy to read.

The rear LCD is a moveable one, but, if you have the camera on a tripod and it’s low to the ground, and you’ve got the LCD flipped so you can look down to see what the camera sees, that viewfinder sticks out and actually hides a good portion of the rear LCD. Sigh.

I’ve read about everybody complaining about the joy stick. There’s a 4-way controller in the rear, and that’s what you use to move and select your focus points, among other things.

I turned off the touch screen because it tends to make selections for me when I am wearing the camera around my neck and it bumps into my clothing. I’ve done the same thing with my Sonys.

A number of photographers don’t much care for the “clunkiness” or show reaction time to the camera. Sure, this camera is not a Sony Alpha 1 in terms of speed, that’s for sure. But the resolution and resulting images make up for that, where I am concerned.

While this camera is “boxier” than my Sonys, it still feels way lighter than my former Canon 1DX and 1DX Mk II. I have small hands and it fits my hands pretty well.

The colors do tend to be understated, but – as reviewer Ken Rockwell says – that’s because this camera was made more for “people, fashion, and product photos.” So I’ve had to bump up the colors during the editing stage. Not a big deal for me. I have read about quite a few photographers getting this and the GFX 100s for landscape and I wonder if Fujifilm realized this would be a game changer for that aspect of photography. If they didn’t before, I’ll bet they know it now.

This camera uses two batteries, so I had to remember to order two spares. These batteries are supposed to last a long time for a full day’s shooting, but I always like to carry spares around.

This morning, as I was walking around with the camera around my neck (which is how I carry it when I remove it from the tripod), I realized I needed to put that vertical shutter button on lock, because it kept bumping against me as I walked and clicking that shutter.

I have an l-bracket for this camera. Actually, I use l-brackets for all of my cameras because it makes it so much easier for both horizontal and vertical shots. It was difficult to find an available l-bracket but I managed to snag a used one on KEH.com.

This is not a camera with a fast fps (remember “people, fashion, and product photos”), so it’s not anything a wildlife photographer would be using much. But for those of you landscape photographers out there who use a tripod (or, well, ok, use the burst method of handholding, which I sometimes do), then this will blow you away with the image quality.

There is in-camera image stabilization, but I keep that off since I use a tripod mostly. However, even with handholding, I keep the IS off because I’m using the burst method (aka “spray and pray”) which generally means at least one image out of the series of contiuous shutter clicks will be nice and clear. Sure, that uses up space on the memory cards, but that’s why you should always have extra cards handy, so you don’t have to waste time going back and deleting previous images to make room for new images.

There are all sorts of other pros and cons that I’ve read about things I haven’t actually needed or wanted to utilize – yet – and this post is just a sort of “first look” review. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts about this camera once I return from my Mount St. Helens trip. That’s when it will get much more of a workout.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Fujifilm GFX 100 The Landscape Camera Of My Dreams

Filed under Fujifilm GFX 100, Photography

Steps Up The Trail

A leading line shot, Flood of Fire Trail, Foree Area, Sheep Rock Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

It’s Saturday, folks! Or does it matter? For the past year, the days have all run together and I’m glad I have a calendar (a real paper one, no less) to which I can refer and find out what day it actually is ;).

This photo is looking up the very short .4-mile round trip Flood of Fire Trail in the Foree Area of the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in Oregon. It was the last trip I made pre-pandemic, before things shut down. Not the last trip I made during the entire year, mind you, but the last regular trip I made prior to Covid.

Anyway, if you are ever looking for a nice little road trip to make, a trip to any of the three units within this national monument will allow you to stretch your legs, since the few trails in each of the units are short. I really wish there were more, longer trails, but I have a feeling that perhaps, national monuments don’t get quite the love (or money) that national parks get. Then again, national monuments probably don’t get the visitor headaches that national parks get – or do they?

Last year, I saw a post, either on Facebook or Instagram, by this national monument asking that people park responsibily in the Painted Hills Unit. Apparently there was a crowding issue, brought on by people wanting to get out and away from Covid for a little bit. Many of those people were probably the kind who are only accustomed to water parks or theme parks, and a trip to an actual, outdoor, in-the-wild-type park unit is a new experience for them – an experience for which they don’t know how to practice the Leave No Trace etiquette.

But, I digress. Central Oregon is a place of winding roads, slower driving (so as not to hit the cattle ranging freely), stunning geology, awesome landscapes for your camera, but few large towns or gas stations. If you prepare accordingly, it’s a great excuse for a road trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Steps Up The Trail

Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Tuna Noodle Casserole (With and Without LumeCube)

Finished Tuna Noodle Casserole (Without LumeCube)
Finished Tuna Noodle Casserole (With LumeCube)

WTF? What on earth is this? Food photos? And not even really good ones. Well, yeah, I basically just saved them as-is without any fancy touches. It’s to demonstrate my new toy: the LumeCube panel. And no, I’m not a paid whatever – I’m just impressed, that’s all.

Ok, here’s the backstory. I am a pretty damned good cook, and I do almost all of the cooking for our family (me, my sister, and my youngest nephew). My sister suggested I create a little Blurb-made cookbook to give as Christmas presents this year. I have tons of recipes that I’ve been using over the past 3 years, and I take photos of my daily dinner creations. They aren’t fancy, posed, food photos because I get these suckers right before we chow down, and frankly, I don’t have the time (nor do I want to make the time) to get everything all just perfect in terms of composition. I just take the photos and then will work on them later for my cookbook.So, last night’s dinner was an awesome tuna noodle casserole (how 1950’s, right?). I took a photo of it sitting in the oven after it was done, then remembered I’d just gotten my LumeCube panels (one for the camera, complete with little mini ballhead that sits on the flash shoe, and one for my laptop so I’ll look only slightly better and more lit-up during Zoom meetings. I’d not yet even tried the LumeCube panel for my camera and decided this would be a good opportunity to test it out. I’m totally impressed.Yes, I might be able to get the same view with a regular camera flash, but with LumeCube, the light is on all the time so I can actually see how everything looks lit up through the viewfinder before clicking the shutter button.

To learn more about LumeCube, click the photos.

Anyway, I can tell you from personal experience that the tuna noodle casserole was very good, and it’s going to end up in the cookbook, tentatively titled “Becky Homecky’s Cooking Template.” That Becky Homecky moniker was bestowed upon me by my hairstylist a year ago. She likes giving people nicknames and since I’m the cook, she thought up that name. It’s a “cooking template” because all the recipes I use can either be cooked per the recipe, or tweaked (and I’ve tweaked many if not most of the recipes I use). So, if somebody wants to add cheese, or take it out of the recipe, they can, since all the recipes are basically “templates” which can be changed to suit the cook’s preference. Clever, eh?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under food, Studio Lights

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Nature’s Christmas Tree

Nature does a fine job at making her own Christmas tree, don’t you think? I photographed this lovely, snow-frosted evergreen along the side of the road in Mount Rainier National Park.

And, since it’s Fun Fact Friday as well as Christmas Day, here’s a little bit of Mount Rainier tree trivia for you:
The trees in this park extend all the way up to over 6,000 feet along the mountain flanks (over 1,800 meters, more or less). Forests cover approximately 58% of this national park. And most of the trees here are evergreen conifers, meaning they have needles and they keep their needles on their branches year-round.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, holiday, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, nature, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, trees, winter

Looking Past Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving

A Wild Turkey In Zion National Park (Utah)

On my next-to-last day in Zion National Park, I happened upon a flock (actually, it’s called a “rafter”) of wild turkeys. I first encountered them along the road through the park and thought that was pretty cool and I was tickled to have seen them then. Then, during a hike where I was crossing the bridge from Sand Bench Trail toward the Court of Patriarchs, I found a flock – er – rafter – of them hanging out around a park maintenance building. I had the best time walking along with them, photographing them. They weren’t the least bit afraid of me and that’s where I learned they can actually fly – enough to get up into a tree, at least. Wild turkeys, for all their grizzled faces, are pretty cool birds to watch, and their feathers are beautiful.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, holiday, National Parks, Photography, Thanksgiving, Zion National Park

The Bald Eagle

After a presidential election, what better photo to post than the symbol of American democracy, the bald eagle. As I post this image, I am listening to National Parks Traveler podcast episode #91, about bald eagles in Chesapeake Bay and how populations in the national parks around the Bay have a bit of a better chance of survival. It’s a good podcast, if you feel like listening. It’s about 41 minutes long, and you can download it to listen to later.

To listen to the podcast, click on the image above.

This image was of a bald eagle taking off from a snag in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, in Alaska was captured with my Canon 1DX and rented 500mm lens.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on The Bald Eagle

Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon, Canon 500mm f/4L IS II, Canon Lens, Katmai National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Podcast

National Bison Day – um, it was yesterday, November 7

Ok, I’m a little late in getting this posted – a day late, actually. Nonetheless, yesterday was National Bison Day. And, in honor of that day, the National Parks Traveler published a short aerial video about a herd of 100 bison from Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt national parks being released onto the Wolakota Buffalo Range of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. That article also has links to other Traveler stories about bison.

To see the video and perhaps click on the links to other bison-related articles in the Traveler, click on the top image.

The images above were captured during a visit to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. I was actually on my way out, but before I reached the park entrance/exit booths, I saw a small herd of bison on either side of the road. I parked in a pullout and drew out my Canon and 100-400mm lens to capture some shots of the bison and the tussle (and subsequent detente) between two male bison.

Here’s an interesting thing about the bison located on the North Rim: these particular animals are a result of an experiment at crossbreeding cattle with bison by a man named “Buffalo Jones.” Mr. Jones wanted to cross the two species to create a hardier breed that could withstand the cold and snowy winters of the Plains. Didn’t really work. The small herd made its way to the North Rim, and, if you ever see any during your own North Rim visit, look at them closely (without getting close to them, if you get my meaning) and see if you don’t spot a few that look “cow-ish” and maybe have white faces.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under 1DX Mk II, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Grand Canyon National Park, National Bison Day, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, North Rim, Photography

Fun Fact Friday: Burls At The Base

Burls At The Base

As you wander along the trails, marveling at these very tall coastal redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks, you’ll notice all sorts of interesting knots and bumps and “molten wood sculptures” around the bases of these trees. Those are burls and are another way for the redwoods to sprout new growth, in addition to growing from seeds the size of a tomato seed. The ranger told me burl sprouts occur usually during some sort of traumatic event like a fire.

So, if you find yourself roaming the trails in this series of parks, take a look at the bases of these trees, photograph those burls, and notice whether or not you see any sort of growth from those “bumps.”

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Fun Fact Friday: Burls At The Base

Filed under 5DSR, California, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, National Parks, Photography, Redwood National and State Parks, Travel

It’s Trivia Tuesday!

The Penthouse Tree, Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop Trail, Redwood National and State Parks

They call this tree the “Penthouse Tree.” The damaged bark revealed the heartwood of this tree, which began to rot. In so rotting, it provided nutrients for other vegetation, such as the leather fern and evergreen huckleberry growing atop this redwood. This vegetation has a room with a view! If you ever have a chance to visit Redwood National and State Parks, you should definitely wander this 1.3-mile easy trail located in Redwood National Park. There’s a plaque dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, who was there to dedicate this national park. Many of the sights you’ll see have numbered stakes beside them that correspond to descriptions in a brochure of this hike. The brochure used to be available at the trailhead, but due to Covid, the box is no longer stocked. You can, however, print out and read your own copy of the pamphlet by clicking on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on It’s Trivia Tuesday!

Filed under 5DSR, California, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, National Parks, Photography, Redwood National and State Parks, Travel, trees, Trivia Tuesday

The Difference In Elevation

The next time you visit a place that has some elevation difference, take a moment to observe the other differences due to that elevation difference. For instance, notice the differences in these images here? The lowland forest interior, captured at the entrance to Westside Road in Mount Rainier National Park, looks deep and dark and is filled with lush vegetation like ferns and devils club along with dead logs and moss on parts of the trees. Sunlight makes its way into the forest in spots. Whereas the forest along Trail of Shadows in the Longmire Historic District looks – well – clearer, with more space in between the trees, less moss, and a clearer forest floor. Yes, there’s vegetation there, too, but as you can see, not quite as thick. In part because it’s not quite as wet as it is in the lowland forest, plus the difference in elevation between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire creates a difference in temperatures, too. Observation is key to getting nice photos, rather than just a grabshot.

Peering Into The Lowland Forest At Westside Road, Mount Rainier National Park
Looking Into A Smoky Forest Along The Trail Of Shadows, Longmire Historic Districe, Mount Rainier National Park

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on The Difference In Elevation

Filed under Forest, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV