All posts by Tom Dills

Water Abstracts from 2014

Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I’ve been cleaning up some old folders and came across some abstracts from 2014 that I hadn’t processed.  Interesting what saw then, and what I see when I revisit old photos.

Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

A Weekend With a Fuji X-T3

Roy Taylor Forest Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 433.3

For our recent visit to Waynesville I rented another camera – the Fuji X-T3.  It’s the latest version of my existing camera, the X-T1, and I wanted to see how it compares.  It was an interesting experiment, with mixed feelings.  The Folkmoot photos from my previous post were taken with that camera, and here are a few more.

Clouds and rising fog from Waterrock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 451.2
Clouds and rising fog from Fork Ridge Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 450.2
Clouds and rising fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waterrock Knob

All in all, the camera would be a worthy upgrade from the X-T1 if I happened to be in the market.  But I’m not.  The obvious reason would be cost, because in addition to the camera itself I would need to upgrade my memory cards, buy new batteries (my current batteries fit but have a lower power output so will supposedly not last as long), buy a new L-bracket and eventually – because of the 26MP files vs. my current 16MP – I would need to buy larger hard drives.  Sorry, that would cover the cost of a nice vacation!

Clouds and rising fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waterrock Knob
Roy Taylor Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

Another, albeit minor, negative would be the slightly larger size of the X-T3 body.  In my opinion the X-T1 borders between just right and a little large (weird to say since my initial impression 4 years ago was that it was tiny compared to the Canon 5D!).

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Oak Park Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina
Oak Park Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina

On the positive side, the files were quite nice, although I wasn’t blown away by a huge difference between the newer camera and mine.  There is definitely a slight improvement in detail, and I found that with files almost twice as large, zooming in to 50% instead of 100% is far enough.  Any closer than 100% just accentuates the flaws, and I don’t need to accentuate them any more, thank you!

Waynesville, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina

The menus are a bit more complex, necessary due to the customization the camera allows.  But it wasn’t impossible to figure out, probably because I’m already used to the setup.  I liked being able to see blinking highlights in the viewfinder, which I can’t do with my current camera.  That’s not a big deal but it is helpful in certain situations.  The EVF is nice and bright, and contains all of the information found on the main screen.

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina

One of the things I should have paid more attention to is the ability to set different autofocus parameters based on specific shooting situations.  I tried tracking subjects in the parade but found a lot of missed shots because I didn’t have it set up correctly.  That’s not something I usually do, so I didn’t think about it until after the fact.

So, no new cameras for me – yet!  Although those new Canon point & shoots are due out any time…hmmmm! 😉

Waynesville, North Carolina

What’s A Folkmoot?

Performers from El Alma de la Luna of Spain at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

Tell just about anyone around here that you’re headed to Asheville, Boone, Blowing Rock or Cherokee, and they know where you’re going and likely have been there themselves.  Tell someone you are going to Waynesville, and just about everyone says “where’s Waynesville?”  Tell someone you are going to Waynesville for Folkmoot and they just get confused.  “Where for what?”

Performers from El Alma de la Luna of Spain at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Performers from El Alma de la Luna of Spain at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

When I was photographing for Our State and WNC magazines I took photographs to accompany articles about small towns in the western part of NC.  Waynesville has become our favorite mountain town for a number of years and we keep returning.  We’ve become friends with the couple who owns a small motel there, interestingly the same motel where my family used to stay when we visited from Pennsylvania.  Waynesville has several restaurants we really like, a coffee roaster that makes my favorite coffee, and is ideally located for access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Members of the Kecskemet Folk Dance Ensemble of Hungary perform at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Members of the Kecskemet Folk Dance Ensemble of Hungary perform at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Performers from the Bahamas Platinum Knights Junkanoo at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Performers from the Bahamas Platinum Knights Junkanoo at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

Every year in July, Waynesville hosts Folkmoot.  Webster defines a ‘folkmoot’ as a general assembly of the people (as of a shire) in early England”  Folkmoot in Waynesville has traditionally been a two week festival of international friendship and fellowship, highlighted by dance and musical performances.  The Folkmoot organization has recently begun to evolve into a year-round cultural center, with programs and events that celebrate diversity, encourage cultural conversation, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages.

Members of the Student Folkloric Ensemble “Martisorul” from Romania at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Members of the Student Folkloric Ensemble “Martisorul” from Romania at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

We have been to Waynesville during Folkmoot several times in the past but have limited our participation to the Parade of Nations that is held one Saturday.  This year we also purchased tickets and attended the opening ceremony, where all of the performers are featured in an indoor (and air-conditioned!) setting.  I didn’t photograph there, but we did attend the parade the following day.  I think I would like to eventually participate more, but for now we can be glad that we did something we hadn’t done previously.

Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Performers from the National Folkloric Dance Troupe of Egypt at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Representatives from the Cherokee Indians in the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

Here is a small selection of photos from the parade.  It is a lot of fun to attend, and I think I captured some photos that represent what it is all about!

Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina
Representatives from the United States at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

 

Curves Ahead!

Curvy shadows along main street in downtown Waynesville, North Carolina

Kathy & I are spending some time in Waynesville, NC trying to beat the heat in Charlotte.  We’ve driven some curvy mountain roads during our sightseeing.  This is a scene I have passed by many evenings without a camera, and decided to take one along last night just to capture a few shots.

Our “50 States” Project

Cable Car in San Francisco, California

Kathy & I have set a goal to visit all 50 of the US states by the end of 2020.  Well, all except one.  If everything goes according to plan we’ll cap the project off with a trip to Hawaii in 2021 to capture that elusive #50.  We have a long way to go, but do have a plan to get there.

The Queen and her Throne. Key West, Florida

The first challenge was to define a “visit.” Do we need to sleep there, have a meal there, drink a beer there, or what? For us it is easy…we need to take photographs!  There are a number of states that we have actually been to through the years, but we have not counted them as visited yet because we don’t have photographs.  I know I’ve been to Arizona, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois & Indiana and others but I don’t have photos from those states, at least none I’m willing to use for this project.  We’ve been to airports in Dallas and Newark, but those don’t count as Texas or New Jersey!

County Road 90 North of Fort Collins, Colorado

Every state has it’s “Best Of” locations, but we aren’t necessarily looking to do that.  We’d eventually like to visit the famous places like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite or Mount Rushmore, but those are places that justify longer stays than just a “drive-by” long enough to take a picture or three.  For now we’ll be happy to get photos from more off-the-beaten-path kinds of places.  It’s our project so we get to decide.  I love being able to make the rules!

Foggy scene in Hensley Settlement, Cumberland Gap National Historic Area, Kentucky

I’ve recently added a new section to my website titled – amazingly enough – “50 States” with a separate gallery for each state that we have visited so far.  This gallery is a collection of representative photographs from each of the states that we are counting as “visited” according to our definition of having a collection of photographs. These are not intended to be the “top” anything or most famous locations from these states, simply photographs that show that we were there.

Booker Noe Statue, Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont, KY

We’re planning a trip up the DelMarVa peninsula in August to catch Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.  Then later this fall we’re hoping to make a road trip out west to catch a dozen or so states in the middle part of the country.  I’ll update the photo gallery and the accompanying map as we go, and of course I’ll post about it here on the blog.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC

If anyone has suggestions about “must see” locations, feel free to pass them along in the comments or via email!

Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA. Built in 1868, spanning the Shenango River. The only remaining bridge in Pennsylvania with an all-wooden truss design patented by Robert Smith of Tippecanoe City, Ohio. The last historic covered bridge in Mercer County, extending 120 feet in length and restored in 1990.

Final Thoughts on the Leica D-Lux 7

Kathy’s New Home (not really) – Belhaven, North Carolina

I wanted to wrap up my thoughts on this camera for anyone who might be interested.  Nothing earth-shaking here.  Bottom line: I didn’t buy one and won’t be buying one.  Below are a few pros and cons, some of which may repeat my earlier post, and all of them are my opinion only:

Pros:

Excellent image quality – RAW files processed efficiently in Lightroom using the Adobe camera profiles.  The “Auto” function in the Develop Module worked amazingly well.  I could be comfortable with the results and seldom feel like I am compromising quality if this were my only camera.

Belhaven, North Carolina

Lightweight and Compact – The camera was very well-constructed and has a certain “heft” to it that speaks of quality, but is very light.  I use a thin strap on my Fuji cameras, and it would easily accommodate the Leica.  Although the Leica probably deserves a fancy custom leather job…. 😉

Belhaven, North Carolina

Good battery life – this is not fully tested since I made a point of recharging it daily.  I only had one battery with the rental so I didn’t want to chance running out.

Belhaven, North Carolina

Cons:

Size – I don’t have large hands, but it is a small camera and seemed to be a little small for me.  I never felt like I was going to drop it, but some of the controls were a little touchy.

Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Manual zoom & focus – The primary zoom mechanism is a toggle switch that surrounds the shutter button.  Many camera have that but I just never feel like it is very precise.  In addition, there is a lens ring that can be set up to function as a zoom control.  I actually prefer that, except that the zoom ring is right next to the aperture ring and I kept inadvertently changing the aperture!

Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Other:

Menus – people complain about menus on all cameras.  This one was fine – I was able to figure out just about anything I needed easily.  I think I went to the manual a few times but it was mostly out of curiosity.

Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

The “Only Camera” Question – I could see myself having a camera like this as my travel camera.  The photos are good enough that I don’t think I would worry about having the “wrong” camera with me if I left the Fuji at home.  The zoom range is a little limiting for me, mostly on the long end as I like to get close to my subjects and frame tightly.  That isn’t a big deal and there are plenty of pixels for a little cropping if necessary.

Stumpy Point, North Carolina

Lens Choice – I’ve gotten used to the ability to put together a kit of lenses for a particular trip.  Going out the door with a Fuji body and a single prime lens is a great way for me to simplify and narrow my seeing.  Traveling with a lens or two or the whole bag gives me endless choices.  That can work both ways, but I’ve gotten comfortable with the idea of making a choice and living with it.

Stumpy Point, North Carolina

What’s Next? – I have a rental Fuji XT3 coming today for an upcoming trip.  I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to my aging XT1.  I’m not in the market for a new camera, but with a price point very similar to the Leica, it feels to me like the better option when and if the time comes to upgrade.

Downtown Aurora, North Carolina
Downtown Aurora, North Carolina

More words and photos to follow – stay tuned!

Stumpy Point, North Carolina

At Long Last – Italy Photo Gallery On My Website!

Kathy & I were talking to friends recently who asked me about our travels to Italy, when I remembered that I had never published a gallery of Italy photos on my website.  It’s only taken a year, but I finally got around to it.  It’s a lot of photos – admittedly way more than I would ordinarily put in one gallery.  But it was a huge trip with lots of photos!  I ended up with about 3,000 processed photos, so a gallery with “only” 180 or so images is really editing it down!

Here’s the link!