Tagged: Aging photographer

My Demons

One demon that I have been wrestling with again is the weight of lenses.  I make a variety of images from the hands of people up close, to details of landscapes, to wider landscapes, to distant wildlife, etc.  Most would say “use a zoom lens” since I am often out photographing this range of things on one walk.  But multipurpose zoom lenses are heavy, not as fast, and often don’t produce the same image quality of prime lenses.  I could take multiple primes lenses in a bag, but rarely do because of the weight.  When walking, I prefer one camera, one lens, and no bag.

I am currently making my pictures with two Fujinon prime lenses, the 23mm or the 35mm F2 WR lenses.  When I know I will be outside, I use the 35mm lens, which is an effective 50mm on my Fuji X-Pro2 camera.  I then often crop the images.  The above pictures are an example of the uncropped and the cropped images from a single picture to give you an example.  This has worked well for me, up to a point.  Now that the new 50mm F2 WR lens is out, I might order it to increase my range.

The bottom line is that I will probably not use my zoom lenses and mostly use prime lenses for my serious photography.  My practice will mostly be to only take one prime lens with me unless I am photographing an event and know I will need more than one.  Using just prime lenses gives me the most flexibility for the least weight, even in bad weather since they are all weather resistant.

Those who know me know I am always planning for the future when I find that I need an even smaller and lighter camera.  I will be watching all the reviews of the new Fuji X100F camera very closely.  Its built in effective 35mm lens with the digital zoom of effective 50 and 70mm focal lengths using the cropping and resizing option within the camera might work for me.  Hmmm, get the new 50mm lens for the X-Pro2 camera or sell everything and replace them with the X100F?

Two Steps Forward, One Back

First things first.  I have decided that this blog has been and will continue to be, to a large measure, about my photography.  If my viewers don’t want to read about my trials, experiments, findings, etc. with a camera they can choose to not read about it.  Now, about why you are seeing the above pictures and what I like about them.  I have taken two steps forward with my camera and style and one step back in that I am going to return to writing about my photography.

I have been making progress on a style that I like, from two perspectives.  One I am using a camera and a lens that I really like from a usability perspective.  I plan to continue using my Fujifilm X-E2S with the 35mm F2 prime lens for most of my personal photography.  I find that the effective 50mm focal length works well for me and I prefer the external controls.  I can preset the camera and lens and then use the camera with one hand if necessary as I walk around with my cane, or when in the car.  It is also small enough to carry on a strap most anywhere I go or fit into a small bag with my zoom lenses when photographing for Homewood.

The second aspect that I am liking is the quality of the images and the contrast, etc. when using the classic chrome camera calibration.  While I have enjoyed using Light Room to process some of my more abstract images, I also like to set the style and then work purely on the composition as I photograph and prepare them for output.

I made the above images when I drove to the market before six am.  One of the things I am constantly looking for is new subjects to photograph.  In addition, I like images that are rich in color with large amounts of black and find the best way to make them is to go out after dark.  So far I have only been trying camera settings, etc. as I mostly drive and look around for ideas, and I have been seeing new things that I plan to photograph.  In the future I hope to be going to different areas around Hanover and parking and getting out and making more images similar to the above.

Ancestral Migration Route


Next week I will be meeting my brother in Virginia for a few days.  My brother’s hobby is studying and following our ancestors and the migration routes they used to go to central West Virginia.  On this trip we will be going to the Cowpasture River area in Virginia where some of the ancestors of my mother’s mother’s family lived and migrated through in the mid 1700s.  The chart above is my brother’s listing of those particular few family members; i.e., some of our great, great, great, great, great grandparents.

While I doubt that I will take many pictures, I have been thinking about which camera and lens to take.  I don’t like to travel with much but since I’m driving I have plenty of room.  The problem is that I still have to consider the weight since whatever I take will still have to be taken in and out of the car whenever we stop.  Normally my travel preference is one camera which is small and light, i.e. had no viewfinder, with one or two prime lenses, but not this time.

This time I plan to take the E-M5 II and a new zoom lens.  I just received a Panasonic 12-35 mm F2.8 zoom lens.  Lately I have been photographing with two longer zoom lenses, the Olympus 40-150 mm and the Olympus 75-300 mm lenses, but for this drive I will take the Panasonic 12-35 mm zoom lens.  For backup, in case the 12-35 mm lens doesn’t work or if I need something smaller and lighter, I will throw the Panasonic 20 mm lens in a small bag.

Olympus better than Fujifilm (for me)


Look at the camera and lens I used to get the images in my previous post (lower right in slideshow mode).  I have decided to use micro 4/3 sensor cameras due to a combination of size, ergonomics, image quality, and cost.  In order to keep the cost down and quality up, I purchased a used Olympus Pen E-P5 since it has the same sensor and uses the same battery as my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II.  I plan to use a few prime lenses with the E-P5 and use the E-M5 II for my longer focal length work, primarily at 300 mm focal length.  This will enable me to stop frequently changing lenses and grab and go quickly.

The E-P5 doesn’t have a EVF but I don’t need one for inside or low light work.  The lack of the EVF hump also makes it easier to carry in a vest or jacket pocket.  It is a little on the heavy side but is built like a tank and should withstand being thrown into various small bags, etc.  I need the EVF on the E-M5 II for use with long focal length lenses since it makes it easier to hold the camera-lens steady to compose in bright sunlight.  A big plus for both of the cameras is the 5-axis image stabilization system.  It is quite good, but I still need to hold the camera steady with long focal lengths to focus on the area I want.

I decided to sell all of my Fujifilm gear and go with Olympus due to the size and cost of the lenses.  I used my Fujifilm X-T1 and 35 mm lens for the last time to make the above picture. Using the Olympus smaller sensor cameras keeps the weight and cost of the long lenses lower.  I decided that I couldn’t afford or carry the long focal length Fujifilm lenses.  Using the E-P5 with prime lenses rather than the X-T1 enables me to have and use one system.

There are three earlier posts which discuss differences in image quality as well as some of the reasons for ending up with these cameras:  Round 1, Round 2, and Changes.  Click on each to read each of them if you haven’t already read them.  When I earlier decided to go with the Fujifilm system, I planned to only use shorter focal length prime lenses and give up images of wildlife and distant compressed landscape details, but I found that limited my photography and therefore I went back to some longer focal length photography.

Times are Changing

Four years ago when I moved here they were plowing snow from our roads in October.  This year it was 55 degrees and foggy when I took a walk this morning at 7 am in December to make these pictures.  They are predicting that this December will be the hottest on record.  From the way the birds were singing this morning I think they believe spring has arrived.

In addition to the changing global climate with the wild swings in our weather, our politicians are equally wild and the outcomes could be worse than the climate ones, at least in the short-term, with global debt on the increase.

Since I moved here, I have tried close to a dozen different cameras.  Now I am only using one main camera plus a small pocket WP one and I’m not interested in another camera until the image quality of a smaller and lighter camera improves.  In this last year I bought more photography books than cameras.

I moved here with a desktop computer with a 22-inch monitor.  I then replaced it with a 17-inch laptop, and now I have replaced that PC with a MacBook Pro with only a 13-inch monitor.  I am still feeling my way through the changes in processing my pictures on such a small screen, but I think it is going to work just fine.  If not, I can add a larger monitor later.

As I get older and the future becomes less certain, I am changing and trying to minimize my actions as well as my stuff.

Blackwater Falls in WV

I enjoy returning to Blackwater Falls in West Virginia and finding that little has changed.  Since I usually end up taking the same pictures whenever I return, I decided that I would try to make some different images of the falls this year.  If you search my blog you will find previous pictures that I made, some in the fall as well as other times of the year.  Since the access is restricted to a few walkways with specific viewing areas, it is hard to get different viewpoints.

For those who wish to travel with a lightweight camera setup, note that all images were made with the Fujifilm X-T1 camera with a 27 mm pancake lens from two locations.  Since I don’t do steps as well anymore, I didn’t even go down to the lowest viewing area.

Enough, Sufficient, and Minimal for the Purpose


And now there is one.  I now only have one camera.  I found new homes for all but my Fujifilm X-T1 camera and three prime lenses, the 18 mm, 27 mm, and the 60 mm lenses.  I hope to enjoy my path to a more simple existence.  I have been shedding not only cameras and lenses, but also camera bags and other camera related stuff, and I hope to continue reducing other things from clothes to tools, etc. if I’m not using them.

I am now approaching photography a little differently and I’m enjoying the freedom from carrying a heavy camera bag and looking for a wide variety of subjects both near and far.  I hope to spend more time photographing details, and life experiences up close with a wider prime lens.  I will have to shorten my vision and not look for small images in the distance.  It sort-of goes with the image of me walking slower with a cane and looking down rather than far.  My 27 mm lens will be my standard walk-about lens for now.  I’ll use the 18 mm lens for inside buildings when I need something wider and my 60 mm lens when I’m photographing details and/or need a little greater reach.  The only change or addition that I’m still considering is getting the new 35 mm WR lens when it comes out and making it my standard walk-about lens.

I plan to continue my photography and make images of ordinary things around me with my single, lighter, smaller, higher quality camera.  I hope to photograph the mundane, but with an ever-changing perception of how I see and think; but it will have to be up close since I no longer have a long focal length zoom lens.  I like to go out with just one lens at a time … just one focal length at a time.  I usually just select from one of my three prime lenses before I go out and then just photograph what works with that lens.  I rarely change lenses out in the field but I do change them when photographing an event or project here at Homewood when I don’t have to walk far with a bag of lenses, etc.


Fuji X-T1

I got rid of my Leica X2, Canon 70D, Ricoh GR, Olympus TG 820, and Nikon 1 J5 cameras along with all the gear that goes with them.  I am shrinking and simplifying my photography gear and making some other adjustments.  I have gone lighter and simpler.  I kept my Fujifilm X-T1 and prime lenses to photograph events, etc. at Homewood as well as for my personal photography.  I also plan to get rid of lots of straps, camera bags, etc.  In addition to the X-T1, I have kept my Lumix LF1.  I am keeping it temporarily for a pocket camera, to make close-ups, visual notes, etc.  I am the closest I have ever been to using only one camera and one lens at a time and simplifying my photography to match.

An even bigger change might be in what and how I photograph and blog about, but those changes are still in an incubation phase and, at the moment, only limited by my gear and subject availability.  Not having longer focal length zoom lenses will necessitate some changes.  While I am working this out and no longer trying new or different cameras and lenses, I will be photographing and blogging less.

One thing that has happened in the last month is that I have taken a larger percentage of pictures for Homewood and a smaller percentage for myself.  This shift might continue with my current lenses since I am in a better position for documentary or street photography.  Whether or not I will make that my primary personal style will depend upon my travel opportunities and how much variety in locations and subjects I can find; but, more Homewood photography and less personal photography usually means fewer pictures for my blog.

Model Railroads


I have been working with the model railroaders as we get the various layouts ready for the holidays.  I have started thinking about lighting, camera and lens settings, etc. and after the layouts are completed I hope to spend some time making pictures of some of the details.

At the same time I have been reducing my cameras and lenses, and before I take the next step I wanted to see how well the Fujifilm X-T1 and the 27 mm lens worked for the layouts.  I had not used this camera and lens before in this manner so I wanted to try it before I made anymore reduction decisions.  It worked just fine.  I am one more step closer to using only one camera.

Morning After the Rain with a Nikon 1 J5

Click on any image to view all in gallery mode.

I am still being amazed about the little Nikon 1 J5 which I used for these test images.  It is light-weight and small.  It has a great tilting LCD which I used when I sat the camera on the floor, and to keep from needing to bend so much for the leaf and flower pictures.  It focuses fast and has great resolution as you can see in the picture of the flying bird.  I made that image at a focal length of 30 mm which is the maximum zoom of the lens I have.  That picture is a crop that has been resized up for displaying here.  I am now really wondering what I could do with the CX 30 – 110 mm lens.  That would be a maximum of an effective 297 mm focal length.  I have never found such long lenses of much use on cameras without a view finder since it is too hard to hold the camera and lens still for focusing, etc.

After this morning’s test shots I’m now thinking about getting the CX 30 – 110 mm zoom lens and try it before I decide to try anymore cameras.  I would really like to try the Nikon 1 CX 70-300 lens on the Nikon 1 V3, but they are too expensive.  If you are curious about what can be done with the CX 70 – 300 mm lens take a look at the article comparing David and Goliath, and look at Tom Stirr’s web site.