In 1990 my college buddies talked me into a backpacking trip. We hiked from Tuolumne Meadows, through Pate Valley and finishing at White Wolf. We did this trip in seven days. This was my first backpacking trip. I was the ultimate noob! My pack was full of things I had no business bringing. I was totally out of shape and had no idea what I was getting into. On top of all of that I woke up with an abscessed tooth the morning we were supposed to depart. A quick trip to a local Oakhurst dentist allowed me to make it to the trailhead in time. Needless to say the physical part of this journey was not enjoyable. What I did find was that I had discovered the place that brought me closest to, whatever it may be, that created all of this. Yosemite, from that day forward, became my church. What does this have to do with photography you ask? From that date on I have spent many hours photographing both the valley and the backcountry of Yosemite. Both on film and more recently digitally.
This week, on Friday, I depart for another photographic journey to Yosemite. We have been blessed with several feet of snow at higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Yosemite high country is blanketed with the beautiful white stuff. The Valley Floor has seen more than just a dusting over the last few weeks and i'm curious if we are going to be lucky enough to see it this trip. As of this writing two small storms are on track to hit while i'm there. I save a ton of money by staying in the Curry Village tent cabins. While heated with propane heaters several blankets will be necessary.
There is a new twist that has recently happened in the valley. The concessions company that lost the contract for all of the businesses in Yosemite is fighting in court, for compensation, for the naming rights of practically everything in the park. The Ahwhanee, Curry Village, the Wawona as well as the title of the park "Yosemite National Park" has been claimed by this company. With the exception of the later, everything has been renamed temporarily. Only a judge will decide the outcome and I'm sure it will take years before it is resolved. You can read about it here. I don't really care what changes are made, I will continue to call these locations by the only names I have ever known. That I know is true.
My last trip to Yosemite happened in February of 2014 and I was lucky enough to catch a departing storm from the Valley View parking area. It is my favorite image to date of the valley.
There are two additonal images from this trip that I love. One of Upper Yosemite Falls and the other a view from the road that I captured out my car window. You never know when an amazing image is going to happen.
I've been shooting with the Fuji X100T for close to year now. It has become my take everywhere camera. It's a manageable size and fits in the cargo pocket of my shorts or the pocket of most of my jackets. I don't have to worry about extra lenses so I don't have to bring a camera bag. There are, however, a few accessories that I have purchased that have added to the user experience and I recommend them highly.
The first item I purchased was a wrist strap. I didn't want to add a bulky, full length strap. I also wanted to use this camera as a second camera when shooting events, weddings or other situations that require a second camera. I like to have a mid range zoom as well as a fixed prime when I shoot these types of events. I have started carrying the X100T on the wrist strap and my Nikon D7000 (soon to be a Fuji XT1) on a Black Rapid strap. I was at the Leica Store in San Francisco and found the strap pictured below made by DSPTCH. You can find it here.
It took a little getting used to. When you hang something that costs $1300 from a thin piece of cord it takes a little faith. After a few days of use I have total confidence in this strap. But like everything, time will take its' toll. I will probably replace this once every other year just to be safe.
The next item I purchased was the Lensmate Thumbrest. I have shot with the Nikon FE2 since 1983. The thumbrest reminds me of the feeling I have when I shoot with that old film camera. It's a natural spot to place your thumb and adds to the illusion that it is a film camera. It fits snugly in the hot shoe and has a small rubber pad where your thumb sits, to reduce slipping. If you didn't know any better you would think it was part of the camera as the finish matches perfectly.
The only other accessory I have for this camera are extra batteries. I purchased the Fuji brand batteries for one reason and one reason only. Reliability. I have heard horror stories regarding off brand batteries. I once bought an off brand battery for my Nikon D70 and it sucked. What you save in price comes back to bite you in the amount of hassle that it can cause. From then on I have stuck with name brand batteries. I know they are expensive but I believe in this case you get what you pay for.
There are two other accessories that I want to mention here. Fuji makes two conversion lenses. The first, the TCL-X100 converts the 23mm (equivalent to 35mm field of view) to a 35mm (equivalent to a 50mm field of view). The other converter is the WCL which converts it to a 19mm (equivelant to a 28mm field of view). I don't feel the need to purchase either of these as I have those fields of view available with my interchangeable lens camera. I also love the 35mm field of view and have been shooting with that equivalent for over 30 years.
One of the things I love about this camera is that there aren't a ton of accessories. It's a back to basics camera for me. It has reminded me of what I love about photography.