Old Dog Learning New Tricks

Nikon FE2 next to Fuji XT1


As most are aware I recently switched from Nikon to the Fuji collection of cameras and lenses. Over the last year my photography has progressed further than in the last 20 years because of this.

 I'm an old dog.  I've been making images since the mid seventies.  I was lucky enough to have a middle school that had a beautiful darkroom to explore and create in.  In High School I contributed to the newspaper and continued to make images on film until my switch to digital in 2005.  I went with what I knew, which was Nikon.  A trusted brand that I had been shooting with for over 20 years.  I began my journey with a Nikon D70 and graduated to a D7000.  I rented several full frame Nikon cameras as well.  As my abilities grew with digital I contemplated the move to owning a more professional system.  This is when I found Fuji.  I rented the XT1 and loved it.  Still not 100% sure I purchased the X100T to see if I wanted to commit.  Reasoning was that I wouldn't have to invest in lenses and would only have to sell one item if it didn't work out.  Well it worked out.  I love it and I kept it.  I now have added the XT1 and the 35mm f2, 56mm 1.2 and the 18-55mm kit lens.  Next on the list are the 16-55mm 2.8 and the 50-140mm 2.8 zooms.  All this for half the cost of a similar Nikon system.  It also looks like Fuji is about to release, crossing my fingers, the XT2 with a 24mp sensor.  This is all rumor but with the release of the XPro 2 with a 24mp sensor it only makes sense that the update to the XT1 will follow suit.  

When you look at my old Nikon FE2 alongside my new XT1 you have to see the similarities.  Fuji was brilliant to go with this form factor.  There is a huge population that grew up with old film cameras.  The nostalgia factor alone is enough for some to purchase any of the new generation of cameras that have the look and feel of old school film cameras that ruled for decades.  They haven't reached the status of Nikon or Canon but I believe it is just a matter of time.  I believe that digital camera technology is till in its infancy and has nowhere to go but up.  New features and functions are being released at an astounding pace.  Who would have thought, ten years ago, that Wi-Fi would be an expected feature in a new camera.  So camera companies please keep it up.  My abilities grow with each new feature and my mind is challenged by each innovation you make.  



Yosemite Drama! Not the Ahwhanee?

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 will be uploading video throughout the weekend as well as images to my Instagram account.  This will be the first photographic journey I will take with my Fuji XT1 and  i'm excited to see what I can accomplish with this new tool in a place that is close to my heart.  

For the Love of Photography

I have been trying to find a theme for my work for some time now.  Nothing jumped out at me.  Matt Granger has "Get Your Gear Out", Jerod Polin has "I Shoot Raw" so what should be mine........and then it hit me.  "For the Love of Photography".  The expression "for the love of god" has been one that I have heard a million times growing up.  Always an expression of exasperation.  Not believing whatever it was the person was witnessing or being so disgusted by it that the expression was necessary.  I love photography.  I don't love gear, I don't love software and I sure as hell don't love spending my time with my camera so that I can get a few likes on the interweb.  I just love the act of creating images.  Sharing them is just a bonus.  Do I want people to love my work?  Sure, who doesn't, but it's not my motivator.  I am at my happiest while wandering, looking for the perfect landscape or the leaf that is just the right color of orange or someone doing something interesting in a place that has meaning to them.  Capturing these moments in time is a pure pleasure.  

I feel that we have gone far afield in the world of photography.  Spending too much time pining away at the newest gear.  Cameras are replaced with newer models before you have time to master the one you just bought.  Technology is improving at an amazing rate but does that mean that you have to have the latest and greatest first?  Is doing this going to help you master the craft of photography?  I believe that answer is a resounding NO!  My old Nikon D70 is a great camera.  6 megapixels, small viewing screen and no movie mode.  I am able to still make amazing images with it.  I am confident that I will be able to hand that camera to my oldest son in a few years and have him learn the basics/fundamentals of photography by using it.  

Do I like new gear?  Yes.  Do I get G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) sometimes? Another YES!  but I have to put on the brakes.  I have to think, do I need a new camera or is a new lens a better choice?  Maybe I should invest in a class or book or visit a museum or photo gallery.  Or maybe I should take a day off from my day job to take photos.  These are all things to think about.  Sometimes you do need new gear.  Your abilities outgrow your equipment and new features are what you NEED, not what you WANT!  I get it.  I just think we should all take some time and enjoy the process.  Learn a new skill with that existing camera.  Take a walk with a photo friend and do it "For The Love Of Photography"