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Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase, Seasoned Citizen, I thought it was cute back then, now I guess I am one! This would be a good time to preface my remarks with a few important points. I started the Pilgrim’s Chronicles to share my faith and what God is teaching me, and to expound (a fancy word for share), my thoughts on photography. I get occasional notes, not often, but every once in a while, from people that don’t like my doing either thing!!! I always wonder why they come here if they don’t believe in God, or they think I know nothing worth sharing about photography and gear. So here is some sincere, friendly advice; if you are adverse to talk of faith, what are you doing here? If you think I don’t know anything about photography, you may not be alone, but once again what are you doing here!!!??? All I can give anyone is what I believe to be the truth, in both matters of faith and photography. So today’s subject;
What should I buy?
The answer is simple, What you Need!!!! Now knowing what you need as opposed to what you think you need is two different things! Now, the next question; are you and equipment collector or a photographer? If you just love to buy and fondle equipment, and there’s nothing wrong with that, (ala Jerry Seinfeld), but if you are a photographer you need cameras and lenses that will help you make wonderful photographs. Now this complicates things so lets pull some things out of the mix, if you do any kinds of highly specialized work, medical, wildlife, serious sports, scientific, then my recommendation will not fully apply. So here goes
For most generalists, travel, nature, close-up, landscape, Americana kinds of photography I recommend the following:
Two bodies: (best if they are identical so the control functions will be the same)
Each with a Really Right Stuff “L” brackets
A Wide Angle Lens: (if a zoom in he 16-35 / 12-24 focal length range)
A Medium Range Zoom: (24-70 or 28-80 focal length or equivalent)
A Telephoto Range Zoom: ( 70-200 or 80-300 range)
Some method of close-up Lens or device: (90, 105, or 200 Micro lens, Diopters, or Auto Extension Tubes)
Accessories needed in any camera bag:
Spare batteries and chargers
Polarizers for each lens
Neutral Density Filters (I carry Singh Ray 5 – 10 -& 15 stops)
lens hoods for each lens
Tools: small pliers (Clutch by Gerber), small blade screwdrivers, allen wrenches)
cable release for your camera bodies
lens cleaning supplies (I use Zeiss cleaning wipes)
toothbrush and camels hair brush for cleaning camera body
Visine or your preferred eye drops
Small container of Advil.
A tripod and ball head ( I use several; one heavy, one mid size, and one small, I use all three with Really Right Stuff ball heads.
Ah, but what brand??????? Well that is up to you, but I do have some suggestions:
I think the two best current cameras in a full size 35mm size sensor are the:
Nikon D800/800e and the Canon 5D Mark III
The D4/D4s and the 1Dx are both great, but heavy.
How about Sony, Panasonic, and whoever? They are all getting much better, but for me not ready for prime time yet.
If you need something lighter my choices are:
the Fuji X-T1 and the Olympus OM-D1
The Olympus has a bigger variety of lenses, but not all are critically sharp, (some are).
The Fuji X System has a very complete and awesome quality, everyone!
Now something VERY IMPORTANT! Whatever works for you, works for you, just consider my ideas as the raving of a Garrulous Old SEASONED CITZEN! Cheers!
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 at 8:21 pm
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Where is your treasure? What is your treasure? When I found the image from New England of an old fashioned trunk, it made me think of what belongings might have once been stored in it? These old handmade trunks were expensive in their day, and were often reserved for keeping peoples’s most priced possessions! Having just been in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I’ve come home as I often do, with a new appreciation for living where I do! These Islands are beautiful and the clear blue water, and rain forest are very interesting, but these places are a lot more like a third world country than where we live. All it takes is a trip into a grocery store and you will see what the standard of living is in another country. I had a lot of time to think about my blessings while out of the lower 48 states, and I think from time to time it is a great exercise to name them, so with your permission I would like to share the list I’ve come up with;
What I am thankful for today:
1. A loving God that is my Heavenly Father and never, ever looses track of me, and is always watching over me and my family, and my friends. I’m so thankful for my salvation, made possible by Jesus sacrificial love on the cross!
2. A fantastic wife, who is also my best friend, the love of my life, and person I respect, trust, and look up to, and the greatest earthly gift God has bestowed on me!
3. A wonderful loving family! Scott, Diane, Hannah & Ben. Catherine, Clint, Cassidy, and Cade, Wesley, Rhonda, Elijah, and Abigail. My brother Homer and his wife Terri, Sherlene’s sisters and brother, and so many other family members who all mean so much to me!
4. A bunch of great friends, (I will not embarrass myself by trying to make a list!!!) God has truly blessed my life with some great people I get to call my friends!!!
5. Health! I’m still on this side of the grass, and well enough to enjoy all His blessings, so you can’t ask for more than that!
6. A great love for photography and the fun of a lifetime of trying to learn more everyday and get better at the craft I enjoy so much!
7. A roof over my head, heat when it is cold, a comfortable place to live and work. A sanctuary from the storm!
8. A future to look forward to! I get excited when I think about running workshops with Jim Begley, Jack Graham, James Haverstock, Nick Coury, Snake, Chuck, and Ricky Skaggs, and all the fun we will have, and the nice people we will get to know! The coolest way to make a living and a life!
9. Peace and Joy which can only come from Him!
10. The honor of serving Him by loving others in His name and for His sake!
Your turn, make your own list of what you are thankful for!
This entry was posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2014 at 7:53 pm
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My brother-in-law Ron Oliver sent this to me this morning, It really hit home for me. I will share it with you and post some of the last images from St Croix. Have a blessed weekend and remember the key sentence of this little story; Aspire to inspire before you expire!!
Sometimes it’s the smallest gesture that leaves the greatest impression.
The Cab Ride
I arrived at the address and honked the horn, after waiting a few minutes
I walked to the door and knocked. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor..
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned
on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase
to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her..
‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave
me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice. ‘
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have
any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice.. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me
the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived
when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were
solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to
the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said ‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient
to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked
once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID ~BUT~THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.
Aspire to inspire before you expire……….
“One day you will be just a memory to some people… Do your best to
be a good one.”
Bill Denton, AIA
William S. Denton & Associates Architects
430 Burridge Drive
Sevierville, Tennessee 37862
865-548-1982 – Cell
The last of my St. Croix color……….
This entry was posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014 at 1:04 pm
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Why wait, too hot at the pool! So here is the disclaimer, remember this is my thoughts on menus settings after one week of using the camera!!! For only a week I think I’ve learned a lot, but keep in mind some of these first thoughts could change over time, but for now I”ll stick by them!
BKT/Adv. SETTING : This is where you set up all your initial BKT settings:
Mine are as follows:
AE Bkt +/- 1 Stop
ISO BKT +/- 1 Stop
Film Simulation BKT Film 1 Std (Provia) Film 2 S (Astia) Film 3 B (monochrome no filter)
White Balance BKT +/- 1
Auto Focus Setting
AF Mode Area (the rest can be set as you work)
Advanced Filter (to your liking)
ISO Auto Control (These setting take affect when you turn the ISO dial to A)
Default Sensitivity 400
Max. Sensitivity 3200
Min. Shutter Speed 1/125
Image Size ( change this depending on subject shape in the Q Menu )
Image Quality I shoot F (Fine jpeg) You can choose RAW or jpeg + RAW
Dynamic Range I’ve found AUTO to work great.
Self Timer Off – I assigned Self timer to the Function button FN button that says WiFi because I use a 2 second delay a lot!!!!!
Interval Timer Shooting (only go there when I want to use that feature)
White Balance Normally set to AUTO however is easy to set in the Q menu and I do often!
For now I have all he following at 0
Highlight Tone o
Shadow Tone 0
Noise Reduction 0
Long Exposure Noise Reduction : ON
Select Custom Setting is still on 1
Edit and Save Custom Settings : Used when needed.
Mount Adapter Setting Is set with the focal length manual focus lens you are attaching.
* I have a Kiron (Amazon) for attaching older Nikon lenses to the camera) And they work great! Especially he 200mm Micro Nikkor!
Shoot Without Lens Turn to On if you attach a manual lens via adapter other wise it should be off, (be sure to remember and turn the focus selector on the bottom left front of the body to M for manual if you are using a manual focus lens)
MF Assist I like Focus Peak White (you can try them and pick the best for you!)
AE/AF Lock Mode I have mine set to: On when pressing
AF-Lock Mode AF ONLY
Flash Compensation (Depends on situation)
Red Eye Removal OFF
Movie Set-Up Haven’t fooled with it yet, I’m not a videographer
IS Mode CONTINUOUS
Wireless Communication For setting up Wireless which is very exciting! With this camera and the Fuji App, gives you about the same features as Cam Ranger!!!
The 8th item down is FUNCTION FN SETTINGS
This allows you to set the Function buttons for the things you do the most often, and is a great feature that makes using the camera much easier!!!
Just for the record here are my settings: Yours may be different!
Function 1 Acrtivate focus points
Function 2 Self Timer
Function 3 Close-up focusing Setting
Function 4 DRV (Bracket settings)
Function 5 White Balance
Function 6 Face Detection Auto Focus
Color Space: sRGB (best for Web and Ink Jet Printing)
Some other thoughts:
I’ve found the Velvia film simulation to be a little over saturated, except when shooting killer color on overcast day, then it rocks!!!!
Astia has become my favorite Color Simulation setting, the colors are rich and the overall image is slightly less contrasty. Provia comes in second and the Monochrome setting are flat out crazy good! I rarely need to use NIK Silver Effects Pro anymore if I get a monochrome out of the camera. My standard set up is BKT mode film simulations, So I get Astia – Provia & Monochrome of every single shot! Hot dang!!!!
I shoot in Aperture Priority mode (Shutter Speed knob on A)
This is a general tip: The X-T1 has a great Dynamic Range in Auto, but it still is best to shoot on sunny days during the first two and last two hours of the day, and of course all day on overcast or rainy days. Contrast is harder to control when there are hard edged shadows, though there is an exception to every rule and strong contrast can be appealing for certain subject, but not all!!
I hope these ideas will help you, the X-T1 is a very forgiving camera, but like all photographic instruments the better you know it, the better you can take advantage of it’s qualities!!
Please share your thoughts here too…..
O.K. Questions from my email!
Question 1 Can you describe how the color simulations are different?
Yes, Velvia is very much like the Fuji film Velvia, very punchy colors, rich saturation and high contrast, blacker blacks and deeper reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. Provia is a more accurate portrayal of color. Good rich color but not as punchy as Velvia. Astia is a softer lower contrast color with rich deep color, just less contrast!! The two film palates are very much like two of negative film emulsions from Fujifilm, I never shot either and don’t use them on the digital cameras. For everyday stuff I shoott Provia and Astia, for overcast days and rich color I shoot Velvia. All the monochromes are killer, choose the filtered ones based on subject matter.
Question 2 At what ISO do you become concerned about noise?
I always use the lowest ISO I can. Having said that I feel comfortable using up to ISO 3200 without a problem, I do shoot at 6400 when I need to and even though there is noise it is just very fine and no color noise! That is one of the most amazing things about the Fuji X System cameras! Above 6400? Go there only if you must, I don’t!! Well unless I saw Elvis at a truck stop!!!