Category Archives: Photography

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

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

Revisiting Favorite Places

Historic Pump Station at Lake Mattamuskeet, NC

As much as Kathy & I like to explore new places, there is a certain comfort in the familiarity of places we return to often.  Such is the case with our recent visit to Belhaven, in eastern North Carolina.  Whenever we visit that area, we return to places like Swan Quarter, perhaps best known as the location of the ferry to Ocracoke Island, but also the location of a number of fishing companies and their boats.  Englehard is also the location of an inlet that houses a number of fishing boats.  Lake Mattamuskeet is the location of a number of interesting places and the photographs that can be made there.

Boats on Far Creek in Englehard, NC
Fishing Boats at Swan Quarter, NC

While I rarely return with anything truly new, it is a good place to go and look for things I haven’t seen previously.  Storms wash away old piles of debris and sometimes bring in new subject matter.  Businesses come and go and sometimes the change in decor can mean new material.  Sometimes returning to a place with fresh eyes can mean new opportunities.

Belhaven, North Carolina
Belhaven, North Carolina
Porch Swing
Belhaven, North Carolina

This is another collection of photos from the Leica D-Lux 7 that I took on our recent visit there.  I’ve got a few more batches that I’ll post once I’ve worked out the words to go along with them!

Swan Quarter, North Carolina

A Toe In The (Photoshop) Water

Pink Plemmons General Store, Luck, North Carolina

For years I have been steadfastly avoiding the use of Photoshop for processing my photos.  No particular reason other than stubbornness and preferring to only use one program (Lightroom) for the work.  Recently, Adobe began sending out free special effects actions for Photoshop.  It sort of got me intrigued enough to download them and I finally got around to trying them out.  This is a photo that I took a few years ago but never really liked the “straight” version.  I’m not sure how much I really like this version using the “Watercolor Artist” action, but it is starting to grow on me.  Like any recipe I’m going to need to work with the options a bit to get a “look” that suits me.  But in the mean time it’s something interesting to look into, and it may even motivate me to spend more time catching up my Photoshop “chops.”  I only have a 10~ year learning curve to catch up on! 🙂

Cyprus Impressions

Cyprus trees at the Tupelo-Bald Cyprus Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway

While visiting the cyprus swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway, I did a few impressionistic photos of the trees using camera movement to blur the trunks.  These are two of my favorites from that session.  I love how the motion simplifies the composition by making it all about the lines of the trees and removing the distracting details.

Cyprus trees at the Tupelo-Bald Cyprus Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway

A Thing For Cyprus Trees

Cyprus trees at the Tupelo-Bald Cyprus Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway

I have a thing for Cyprus trees.  The shapes are interesting, and I love how they live against all odds of nature.  We found these in a swamp along the Natchez Trace Parkway today.  I know there’s a rule about taking landscape photos in harsh sunlight, but I keep forgetting…. 🙂

Cyprus trees at the Tupelo-Bald Cyprus Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Cyprus trees at the Tupelo-Bald Cyprus Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Cyprus trees at the Tupelo-Bald Cyprus Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway

PDF Books for Download

Road Ends

My reply to a recent comment from Monte reminded me that I needed to find a way to link to some of my old PDF books so I could share them.  My website doesn’t allow me to upload the files directly, but it does allow me to link to a 3rd party location.  I’ve added a link to a Dropbox folder from my website, and am also posting it here.

Toms PDF Books