I know many of you will be traveling, if you are not already doing so, solo or with others, to celebrate whatever holiday you observe that comes around this time of year. So, I thought I’d get this posted, in case any of you decide to try out your own Christmas/holiday-themed photography.
Every year, it’s a tradition for me to photograph the decorated tree and to capture the warm and cool beauty of the season where I live. If it snows outside, which it has lightly done on and off for a couple of days, then I like to capture an image of the scene, including the snowy ground and looking toward and then through the window of the house, where we set up the tree and holiday lights.
I capture images of the livingroom decorations, tree, and all the presents as seen during the day and at night. During the day, the light tends to be cooler and the tree lights a little frostier and maybe even not as well seen. There’s a light, airy feeling to the daylight shot. Night, though, is a completely different story. The colors are richly saturated on their own, but with the addition of the warm gold from the tungsten lamps and the sparkly lights of the tree. Everything looks so inviting.
I make it a point to go outside at night to capture the look of the tree and decorations through the large picture window. This scene above is a sort of yin/yang composition that I often create without even knowing it. There’s the cold blue-white light of the outside light, next to the warm, golden light of the house interior.
And of course, I capture the ornaments and decorations, their colors and their sparkle.
This year, I used my Fujifilm GFX 100 and GFX 100s cameras. The GFX100 has a 45-100mm lens attached, and the 100s has a prime 23mm lens attached. The 45-100mm is analogous to a 35mm 36-79mm lens and the 23mm lens is analogous to a 35mm wide-angle 17mm lens. The photo above, however, of the light-up little snowglobes, was captured with a Sony Alpha a7riv and 24-105mm lens.
I hope all of you have a safe, peaceful, and photographically fun holiday time. Never stop taking those pictures, because that’s how you improve and learn.
Comments Off on Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays!
I don’t know how many of you out there are still on a waiting list for a Fujifilm GFX 100S. I had to wait 5 months for mine and I only lucked out because I started looking at camera store websites other than the Big Two (BH Photo and Adorama). I can honestly say that, if you are a landscape photographer, the wait is worth it. The resolution is phenomenal and Fujifilm has not only actually brought a medium format camera down to the price of a high-end SLR like Sony, Canon, or Nikon, but at about the same size, too!
So, not too long ago, I spent a couple of days with my cameras up at Mount Rainier National Park. My main reason – aside from getting out and about – was to give my Fujifilm GFX 100S more of a workout. It wasn’t a complete workout because I didn’t try to get any night shots (the moon was out, making the sky too bright for decent star pics – that plus I was too tired from a full day of hiking), but it was enough for me to give a few more thoughts on this camera as well as the Fujifilm GFX 100.
1. The level of detail is simply amazing. I find, though, that I must add more saturation to the image when working with it on the computer. Sure, I could switch the film simulation from Provia/Standard to Velvia/Vivid, but that’s just a bit too vivid for me. That, plus it appears – on the LCD anyway – that some of the finer detail seen in the Provia/Standard setting is removed, or covered over, with that large boost of saturated color in the Velvia setting. I tend to apply saturation judiciously and thus prefer using Photoshop, where I feel I have a little more control.
2. Learning the menu setup is like learning another language. I’m language-challenged, but I do know my rudimentary way around the Fujifilm, Sony Alpha, and Canon menu setups. The menu setup for this brand of camera is extensive, but easier to intuit than Sony’s menu settings. That said, it behooves one to do a marginal skim of the owner’s manual before heading out into the field. I didn’t do that and ended up spending 30+ minutes trying to work with a setting while out in the park, wasting some good lighting conditions. And, I know better than to do that! Jeesh.
3. Battery life sucks for air – especially with the GFX 100S. My intention was to use the GFX 100S for an entire day of shooting, but both the battery that came with the camera as well as the spare battery I’d purchased pooped out on me before midday. I’ve since ordered an extra couple of batteries on top of the two I have, and I went ahead and ordered a couple more batteries for the GFX 100, although it’s battery life seems to be a bit longer. I just don’t want to be caught out in the field empty handed when that once-in-a-lifetime composition comes along. Know what I mean?
4. Two-second timer. When the camera is on the tripod, I always use the 2-second timer. It eliminates that last bit of vibration from my finger touching the shutter button. With both the GFX100 and the GFX100S, there’s three parts to the timer. In the Shooting setting (the little camera icon in the menu), you can set the self-timer to 10 seconds, 2 seconds, or Off. Then, you need to tell the camera to remember that self- timer setting in order for that timer to remain in effect for the next image, or if you turn the camera off and then back on at a later time. Otherwise, the timer will only work for one shot. Then, you’ll have to go back in and tell the camera to use the timer again. You’ll also need to decide whether or not you want the self-timer lamp on. That’s the little light that turns on while the s elf-timer is in use. For night shots (which I haven’t tried yet), I’ll turn that lamp off.
That’s all I’ve got, for now. I’ll be taking the two cameras with me on a forthcoming 2-week trip to a couple of national parks I’ve never visited (fingers crossed I don’t have any further health issues – or car issues, for that matter). I’m not certain if I’ll be able to get any star shots due to the smoky skies from area wildfires, but if the sky is clear, then I’ll see how well these cameras do regarding night scenes.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
Comments Off on Some Very Quick Thoughts On The Fujifilm GFX 100S
May marks the 41st anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens (May 18, 1980). I first visited this volcano about 10 years after its eruption. The devastation was obvious. It would be 30 years before seeing this area again. While there has been much growth in the area (including stands of trees planted 3-6 years after the eruption), the devastation is still obvious.
I had recently purchased the Fujifilm GFX 100 and desparately wanted to get out to test this medium format camera. A return trip to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was just the ticket. It’s about 4 hours’ drive from where I live, and even leaving at 3 a.m. didn’t get me up there in time for sunrise shots. Once I arrived, I did spend all morning there and about an hour or two of late afternoon. I can tell you that early mornings (before 9 a.m.) and late afternoons (5 p.m. and after) are the best times for good lighting, because starting at 8 a.m., things start to get a little hazy and a blue cast to the atmosphere begins to settle in prior to harsh light for the remainder of the day. Doesn’t really matter, though, since this mountain (or what remains of a once conical, snowcapped mountain with an elevation of 9,677 ft [2,950m]) is picturesque nonetheless.
I only have two lenses for the GFX 100, and both of them are prime wide-angles (wide and wider). So the close up shots I achieved while there were captured with a different camera, about which I’ll write later.
The GFX 100 is easy to work with. It still takes a little hunting in the menu to find what I need, but as I wrote in a previous post, the menu is much easier to walk through than my Sony menus. The only thing I had a problem with was the auto power-off setting, and it wasn’t so much a problem as the fact that I assumed it would be like my Sony cameras, where I depress the button and the camera comes back to life. Not so with the GFX 100. I kept pressing the shutter button and nothing would happen. It wasn’t until I turned the camera button from the On position to Off and then back On again that the camera came to life. Needless to say, I changed the settings and the camera remains completely on now. I know it’s a drain on the battery life, but even with that, I was able to shoot through the entire day without needing to change to the spare batteries (the GFX 100 takes two batteries).
As long as you check the weather reports to pick out a decent day for visiting this national monument, May is a great time. I could count on two hands the number of people I encountered, and that was at a safe distance. Not many people were there early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is a bit of a drive off of Interstate 5 (about an hour). There aren’t that many hiking trails around there, and Johnston Ridge Observatory is not open – well, the building is not open, nor are the restrooms, but you can still drive up there, park, and walk around. The nearest restrooms are accessed at the Coldwater Lake parking area, 8 miles away from the observatory. The main hiking trail (Boundary Trail) which starts at the observatory still has quite a bit of snow on it in places – deep enough for snowshoes. I had them in my vehicle but didn’t feel like putting them on and taking them off multiple times just to cross over the snowy parts. IMO, the two best view areas for really seeing this volcano are the Loowit View Area (the photo above was captured there) and Johnston Ridge Observatory area.
If you go visit, make sure you take a telephoto lens with you. I’d brought along my Sony 100-400mm lens but left it in the car and naturally, I came across a trio of mountain goats grazing around the observatory area. Sigh.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
Comments Off on Mt. St. Helens And The Fujifilm GFX 100
Here’s a fun fact for your Monday: the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park gets over 12 feet of rain a year. So, when you go visit, make sure you take along a rain jacket.
The image below was taken during late summer, and it was actually a dry day. In truth, all the days I was there in the park were dry days – well, ok, except for the last two days, when I visited Hurricane Ridge.
I know, what a word to use for something as beautiful as the scenery along the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park. Actually, this image (just in time for Halloween, I might add), is a duplicate of the color one I uploaded to a post a couple of days ago. I wondered how forest interiors might look if converted to monochrome. I immediately noticed the clarity and texture of the tree roots, and the play of shadow and light in the scene. A lovely, green and brown serene scene became a bit more sinister in black and white.
Usually, I don’t travel to any national park with high expectations. I even wrote an article in the National Parks Traveler about the rewards of lowered expectations. I know it’s going to be rainy, overcast, snowing, probably the roads will be slick, and there might even be another f***ing government shutdown while I am there. Nonetheless, I am stoked to be returning to Yellowstone National Park in a few days for 8-1/2 days of fall photography. For a portion of that time, I’ll be staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn, and will definitely get some interior architecture images of that beautiful lodge. I so wanted to do this during my short summer stay (2-1/2 days) during my road trip move from Texas to central Washington, but the inn was full, the crowds were YUGE, and I ultimately needed to get back on the road again to my sister’s home.
I’ll be taking 3 cameras with me and an assortment of lenses: my Canon 5DSR, Canon 1DX Mk II, and Pentax 645z. I’ll take the Canon 16-35mm, 14mm, 24-70mm, 24-105mm, 100-400mm with a 1.4x extender, Pentax 28-45mm, and Pentax 55mm lenses. No need to tell me it’s going to be a heavy backpack I take onto the plane with me. I already know that. I had to pack one of my lenses into my laptop bag, which will also be carried onto the plane. Hey, I don’t know when I will be able to return to Yellowstone, so might as well bring as much as I can carry and that’s allowable on the plane, because I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Plus, I’ve broken lenses before while traveling (Hawaii comes to mind), so I’m being a little redundant with one of the lenses. I decided on this instead of trying to work around taking my Canon 500mm lens. As it is, I’ll probably forget something, even though I’ve written a list of things to pack.
Soon, soon, I will be back inside America’s first national park. Can’t wait!
Scenery along the Hall of Mosses trail, with and without the Orton Effect, Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park
Just as I have memorized the ingredients to only one drink (a prosecco margarita) so that I no longer need to look up the recipe, I have now memorized how to create the Orton Effect in a photo and won’t need to look up the instructions. What is the Orton Effect? It’s a method of creating a dreamy, Lord Of The Rings-type atmosphere within an image. Oh, I still prefer my images to look natural, but I must admit, the Orton Effect, when used judiciously, looks kinda cool, is easy to create (if you know how to create a Layer in Photoshop), and adds to the other photo editing stuff in my repertoire. The more I learn, the better I become.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved
Comments Off on To Orton Or Not To Orton … That Is The Question
I’m glad I visited Olympic National Park when I did, because it’s got some rainy weather going on now and probably will for the foreseeable future, I am guessing. Fall is coming. Winter is coming. Lots of rain and wet are coming to the Olympic Peninsula.
I captured this image because, as I was wandering the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest, I noticed the sun peeking through the trees. It created what is called a “single point light source” and is great for producing photographic sunbursts. I’d already set the tripod and camera up to photograph the interesting roots, and that little bit of sunburst light was a cherry on top.
I used my Pentax 645z medium format camera for this. I don’t use this camera as often as I should, because it produces wonderful images. As a matter of fact, I’m taking it with me on my forthcoming Yellowstone trip. I’m not even going to tell you how heavy the camera pack is, or the fact that I am carrying one of the long lenses in my laptop bag so I don’t have to put anything in checked luggage. 😁
The waterfall at Falls Creek, Mount Rainier National Park
Whenever I enter Mount Rainier National Park via the Stevens Canyon entrance, I always stop at the Falls Creek pullout to photograph this waterfall. Depending upon the time of the year, it can be at full throttle, or a mere trickle. I also love photographing this waterfall because of the play of light and shadow, and the many shades of green. Plus, it’s good exercise for me in getting in a few “silky water” shots. During this particular instance, it was also good practice working with my new medium format Pentax 645z.
It was my last day in the park, and my plan for the day was to use no other camera except the Pentax 645z. I didn’t bring this camera along with me on my Zion trip (and wished I had, in retrospect), so I made a point to really use it fully for a couple of days during my Bryce Canyon stay. Medium format is awesome, but it takes a bit of getting used to the different aspect ratio. To me, medium format photos are a bit “boxier” than SLR photos. However, medium format photos are more in keeping with magazine sizes (ahem).
As for that morning, it was superb. There were clouds to add a little texture to the sky, but not enough to hide the sun, which bathed the landscape in a saturated golden-orange glow. It was pretty gusty and downright cold, but I wore warm clothing. I also enjoyed a long chat with a fellow photographer who talked to me about what she did and the Sony mirrorless cameras she used.
The interesting thing about photographing in Bryce Canyon NP is that the formations (hoodoos, spires, towers, walls, arches, windows, etc.) are amazing, no matter what kind of light or weather is out there. The colors, though, are always somewhat different. In overcast weather, the colors of the landscape tend to be saturated but muted beige and pinkish-salmon with a bit of a blue cast. In direct sunlight during midday, the colors are definitely a deep, almost blinding, orange-gold and white-beige. When the morning or evening sunlight hits the landscape, the colors are saturated gold, red, orange, and absolutely glowing.
I sure do miss this place, right now.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
Comments Off on A Medium-Format Sunrise Over Sunset Point
All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org