Category Archives: Photography

Same Meat, Different Seasoning

ACROS+Red filter

The photo in my previous post was processed using the “Vintage 01” profile in Lightroom.  My default setting is usually an Import Preset I’ve developed using the “Camera Velvia” profile, with some of my own secret sauce.  The Velvia version with that subject came out way too saturated, so I started messing around with a few other treatments.  I created new Virtual Copies, changed to a new profile then made a few additional tweaks based on what I thought each version needed.

Original with Velvia Profile

No verdicts or preferences at this point, but it was interesting to see what the different options can do.

Vintage 01 Profile
Pro-Negative-Hi Profile
Classic Negative Profile

A New Kid On The Block

My New Fujifilm X-T4

Kathy’s birthday is coming up soon, so of course I did the sensible thing and bought her a camera.  I think she’s going to let me use it. 😉  Actually, I did buy a new camera, but it’s for me.  For her birthday I think we’ll plan to go somewhere fun for me to use it.

When I migrated from Canon cameras to Fuji cameras in 2015, I bought the X-T1, followed by a “backup” X-E2.  When it was all said and done, I had a pretty enviable collection of lenses, both zooms and primes.  The whole kit weighed a fraction of what my literal suitcase of Canon gear weighed, the Fuji cameras and lenses are excellent and I paid for most of the Fuji stuff for what I sold the Canon stuff for.  Wins all around!

Now, 5 years later the camera technology has improved, to the point where when Fuji announced the X-T4 I knew it was time for an upgrade.  The X-T1 & X-E2 are still excellent cameras.  In fact, my youngest son is going to embark on his own photography journey with the bodies and two of my lenses.  So they will go to a good home, and by keeping them “in the family” maybe I can borrow them back at some point! 😉 Not really, but I wrote that for his benefit….

I had looked seriously at the X-T3 when it came out, and it is an excellent camera.  I actually rented one to try out about a year ago.  The timing wasn’t right, I felt like I still needed a second body and it was going to require different batteries, memory cards, etc., and at the time I didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do.  But after all the travel we’ve been doing the last year or so, the more I realized that I was just carrying too much stuff.  I’ve always said – jokingly – that the more lenses I carried with me the more likely it was that I had the wrong one on the camera.  So the idea of having to choose from 2 camera bodies and 8 lenses – or heaven forbid carry all of it with me! – seemed like things were getting out of hand.

Backing up a bit – several years ago we went from a 2003 Acura to a 2016 Honda.  While we thought the Acura was a pretty sophisticated car, the 13 year difference with the Honda was astounding.  The years do (usually) mean an improvement in technology, engineering and performance.  Same thing holds true for cameras , even though in this case we’re talking about a difference of only 5 years!  At the time I am typing this I haven’t even turned the camera on, but reading through the manual (YES, I did!) I am amazed at the improvement in just the custom settings alone.  I can’t wait to see what the photos look like.

I’ll write about my initial impressions once I have had a chance to take it for a spin and see what it will do.  But for now suffice it to say that the X-T4 is a pretty fine looking piece of equipment, I like the silver look instead of the all black of my X-T1, and I can’t wait to see how it performs in real life.  Stay tuned for more thoughts and many more photos!

Foggy Morning

Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning

We awoke this morning to some dense fog, following the passing of the weather system that brought us all the rain over the last few days.  I grabbed my camera for a walk and came back with a nice collection.  No, I never get tired of shooting those power lines and towers. 🙂

TGIF and Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning
Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning
Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning
Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning
Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning
Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning
Photos from an early walk on a foggy morning

Phase 1: Day 12 – Out and About

Out and About: Abandoned Shopping Carts at the Bus Stop

One of the blogs that I follow is On My Om by Om Malik, a tech journalist, photographer and investor.  While perhaps a bit extreme, he started self-quarantining even before it became widespread.  A comment in a recent post echoes a sentiment I have also been having:

“…the 80-day quarantine has made me ask the two questions that I should have been asking all along: What do I value? And what is worth my time? Those two questions are intertwined.”

Kathy & I have already been asking a similar question when it comes to eating out or “splurging” on “treat foods” like Five Guys (how long has that been?!?): Is it worth it?  As in cost (both caloric and financial) and weight gain.

There have been a lot of rabbit holes during this 2+ month sabbatical, and more and more I find myself questioning whether I am spending my time in the best way I can.  I would add to the quote above a third question: “how will I feel about how I spent my time during this period 5, 10 or even 20 years from now?

 

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 40

Ordinary Household Objects: Kindle

Forty days and forty nights – seems we might have been able to sail around the world in that time (oh, that was 80, sorry)!  The good news is that not spending money on travel means that we have more money to spend on future travel.  The bad news is that the markets have eaten some of our travel money!

We’ve had a number of conversations lately about when and where we’ll be able to go when the time comes.  We were supposed to be on a Southwest US road trip right now.  We have 17 states plus Hawaii left, and have routes mapped out to catch all of them.  The current hope is that we can head to a family birthday/wedding/July 4 blowout in Ohio then extend on into either the Northwest or the Northeast, saving the Southwest until fall or next spring.

Our big issue now is not so much fear of the Coronavirus itself, but what I am calling “Pandemic Panic.”  It’s all the ‘stuff’ that people are going to feel like they have to do to either comply with health department requirements or the expectations of the Perpetually Paranoid.  I’d prefer to not have to wear a mask into a grocery store in North Dakota (not that they are requiring it, this is hypothetical) or a museum in Oregon (again hypothetical) but if the choice comes down to going with compromises or staying home, I think we’ll figure out a way to go.

The October cruise we have booked?  Another story completely.  It depends on many factors: Are the ports in Canada going to open (they are currently closed until July, and the cruise season only goes through October)? Is the port of Boston going to allow cruise ships to take on and discharge passengers? What is the onboard experience going to be like?  We need to send them our money by early July, and I just don’t think we’ll know enough by July to make that kind of commitment.   So October might be the perfect time for another road trip and get our 49th state.  We’ll see! 🙂

Shave & A Haircut

Floyds Barber Shop in Downtown Mount Airy, NC

It’s been about 6 weeks since I had my hair cut, and while it was a good cut, it is getting kind of shaggy.  Fortunately it seems like the latest style and I’m on the cutting edge for once!

I have resisted the trend toward beards and mustaches and have maintained my every-other-day(-ish) shaving, but it’s going to probably be another month or so until I can get the hair trimmed again.  It will be interesting to see how people deal with their hair over the next few weeks.  At least we don’t have to worry about hair color like a lot of our friends and neighbors! 😉

The photo is from several years back at Floyd’s Barber Shop in Mount Airy, NC.  Mount Airy is known to many as Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 18

Ordinary Household Objects: Basting Brush

I’ve been amused by people’s interpretation of “stay at home.”  Conversations about going out seem to be punctuated by a lot of “excepts.”  I’m only going to the grocery store “except” Lowe’s for tomato plants, Target for something, Walmart for something else, some restaurant for carry out.  Every day!  If “hunkered down” means behind the steering wheel, people are all over it! 🙂

Figure It Out

Dogwood, azalea and spring flowers in bloom in Charlotte near the intersection of Mount Holly-Huntersville Road and Westminster Rd

It’s been interesting to see how people and businesses are responding to the forced changes in their lives.  Many people have found ways to adapt.  Some have not.

The owner of a restaurant that Kathy & I frequent when we travel recently posted on Facebook something along the lines of “well, our food doesn’t translate too well to takeout, so we will remain closed for duration of the coronavirus situation.”  So now he just spends time posting photos of his tattoos and sharing articles about how the government is going to have to step up and make loans to all these businesses that are affected by the shutdown.  Meanwhile, two of his neighboring businesses – also very fine restaurants – are offering takeout meals and posting words of thanks to all of their friends that are responding positively to their efforts to provide takeout.  When I read the stuff that the one guy posts, I think, “dude, you need to figure it out!”

On the flip side, I was inspired by a recent article about a Michelin-star chef in NYC who “created a menu that eschews complex, hard-to-deliver items like tuna tostada in favor of homey offerings like chicken — a food he never thought he would serve.”  The article goes on to say that “he has also had to get used to seeing delivery drivers mishandle his carefully assembled dishes. And he has learned to package certain orders in foil containers so the dishes do not have to be removed from their delivery vessels to be heated in the oven.

“Before, we were a Michelin star restaurant where people would have a bunch of mezcals and hang out for a while and spend money,” Mr. Steele said. “Now we’re sending chips and salsa and soup to people.”

This is a guy who has figured it out.

I know that my criticism might seem a little unfair, because this is hard for everyone.  But we see examples everywhere of people figuring it out.  Locally, our local breakfast/lunch diner has setup a drive-up/pick-up service.  They figured it out.  Many other restaurants, including our favorite fine dining restaurant and favorite Italian restaurant, have set up online ordering so you can do “contactless pickup” of their dinners.  They figured it out.  A bartender at one of those restaurants has started preparing mason jars of pre-mixed cocktail ingredients to sell with their takeout orders.  You just have to follow instructions and add your own booze.  She has figured it out.  Our favorite bartender, who just happens to enjoy concocting many of his own mixes, has come up with a line of bottled Old Fashioned mix that he is delivering – reasonably priced – to anyone who asks for it.  I won’t be surprised to see him expand his offerings.  He has figured it out.

No one is coming through this unscathed, and unfortunately a lot of businesses will not survive.  By the time this is over though, we’re all going to need haircuts!  Many of us will be looking forward to that first sit-down meal, wherever it might be.  And we’re surely looking forward to planning and setting off on that first adventure, whether by land, air or sea!  But in the mean time we all need to figure it out, in whatever way works for us.

Interesting Times

Sunbeams through the fog along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the intersection with US 23/74 near Waynesville, North Carolina

Interesting times these are.  According to Quora, the saying “May You Live in Interesting Times” is misattributed to Confucius.  It was first used by Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1936, and later popularized through a speech by Robert F Kennedy in 1966. The phrase “live in interesting times” dates at least to the late 19th century. The “Chinese curse” element was likely added by Sir Chamberlain as an (effective) embellishment. There is no evidence of a Chinese origin.

Rosebay rhododendron along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

When we’re not traveling, I’m usually content to be a homebody.  Why is it then, when I’m told not to go out, I want to go out?  When we saw Monday’s announcement that people should stop eating in restaurants, almost immediately followed by an announcement from our favorite fine dining establishment that they would be closing immediately, Kathy & I did the sensible thing and dashed out to our favorite Italian restaurant for pizza!  That’s essential travel, right? 🙂

Turk’s Cap Lilies along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway
Turk’s Cap Lilies along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

When I walked this morning, it was business as usual at our local Micky D’s and Eat Mo Chikn, but now we’re getting word that the governor has ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms after 5:00 today – take out and drive through only.  So it’s a good thing we brought home extra pizza!  And a good thing we like to eat our own cooking!

Yellow jewelweed along the Blue Ridge Parkway Waynesville, North Carolina

The grocery stores should still be open, although there’s no telling what the shelves will look like.  Kathy & I are well stocked with vittles to get through, although we’ll continue to shop as long as we’re able to get to the store.

Wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 437 near Waynesville, North Carolina

The whole thing seems like a ridiculous overreaction from here at this point, but I know that we see a very small sliver of the world, and I know that we are – for the moment – mostly out of the epicenter of the exposure to this nasty bug.  Hopefully we can keep it that way.  A reminder like this video from people in Italy helps keep the perspective.

Wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 437 near Waynesville, North Carolina

So we’re good for now.  We’ve got food & wine, music, internet, LOTS of photography books to look through, and several thousand photos to process if I choose to.  So I think as long as our neighbors don’t try to sing we’ll be able to get by just fine!  I told Kathy earlier that, since the economy (and our retirement fund) has gone to sh1t, we might as well do our best to stay healthy and keep ourselves occupied while it has a chance to recover.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 437 near Waynesville, North Carolina

The links are from friend and photographer Jeff Curto’s blog.  He and his wife are “stuck” in Italy (by choice – read the blog) and he has been posting about his time there.  Because Italy is a few weeks ahead of us in terms of the virus, they are experiencing what we might have to endure if things progress in this country.

Rosebay rhododendron along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

We’re also tracking the progress of some friends who have been on a world cruise.  When the cruise line decided to shut down operations and send everyone home, they started looking for a place to dock.  They are currently in the Pacific Ocean somewhere, headed to Australia, but Australia might not take them.  The good thing is that they have been sailing since early January and no one on board has been exposed, so hopefully they will be able to land somewhere!

Rosebay rhododendron along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

The photos are ones I’ve recently rediscovered from a macro workshop in 2009.  I’d forgotten about them and am having a blast with the processing, especially using software technology that didn’t exist back then.  Looking at these photos reminds me to get my macro lens back out! (And yes, a few of them have some nasty fringing from the closeup diopter I was using at the time.  Others really do have pink edges!)

Morning fog in the valley from The Orchards Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 444 near Waynesville, North Carolina