Weekly Photo Project, Week 17

I’m continuing last week’s theme of alternating between color and black-and-white. Monday and Saturday were the only two days that I didn’t capture a whole lot, and the pickings were slim. Otherwise I had at least a handful of photographs to choose from for each day. Amazingly enough, I’m about 1/3 of the way through this 52 week project, which is hard to believe because it seems like I just started. I’m anticipating that winter will be the most difficult season, but I’m staying hopeful that I can complete it without missing a single day.

Monday, November 12, 2018

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Every Rose Has Its Thorns – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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Lights & Shadows – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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Steve – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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A Paleontologist Happily Working – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Friday, November 16, 2018

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Little White Pumpkin On The Mantel – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Saturday, November 17, 2018

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Classic Russian Camera – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Sunday, November 18, 2018

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Waiting Alone For The Train – SLC, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Week 16  Week 18

Travel: Zion National Park in Autumn

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Virgin River From Canyon Junction Bridge – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Zion National Park was the third most visited National Park in America in 2017, right behind the Grand Canyon. Utah has five National Parks–only Alaska and California have more–and of the five Zion is by far the most popular, with Arches National Park a distant second. It’s no surprise that Zion is usually quite crowded. I was surprised at just how packed it was when I visited in the middle of the week in the middle of November. Isn’t this supposed to be the off-season when fewer people are there?

I arrived with my family in the morning about an hour after sunrise. We waited in a somewhat short line to get into Zion. Once inside we found the parking lot at the visitor’s center to be completely full, with a number of cars circling hoping that somebody would leave. We decided that we’d explore what we could of the park by automobile and hope that the parking situation would be better a little later.

This was our first time to Zion National Park and we really didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t anticipate the gobs of people and we didn’t expect that there’s not much one can see of the park from the car. There is the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which is over one mile long, and a few pullouts along the road that were packed full of cars (I illegally parked to get the photo at the top of this article). There are some things that can be seen and experienced from behind the wheel, but most of the park is accessible only by the park’s bus system or by foot. Once we figured this out we put a more serious effort into finding a place inside Zion to park the car. Unfortunately, parking was still scarce and we were lucky to find a spot in an overflow lot that required a small hike to the nearest bus stop; however, we soon discovered that we left the kid’s sweaters at the hotel and it hadn’t warmed up enough yet to be out without them.

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Vista From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

We left the park feeling a bit defeated and disappointed. We found a combination coffee shop and gift shop in Springdale, which is the small town right outside of the park entrance, and purchased some warmer clothes for the kids and the wife and I sipped on some coffee. We decided to park in town and take the free shuttle to the park. This turned out to be a much better way to get into Zion. The bus dropped us off right outside the park, and a quick walk across a short bridge brought us to Zion’s shuttle stop. Unfortunately, the line for Zion’s shuttle was about 400 people deep, but thankfully there were a lot of buses running and the line moved surprisingly quick.

The bus was completely packed. We rode it to the end, which is where the Riverside Walk trail is located. This trail is about two miles round trip and very easy, even for the kids. It’s also extraordinarily scenic! The draw to this place is quite apparent. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground. It was also packed with people and at times felt like we were strolling through New York City and not a canyon in southern Utah. Even so, we had a good time enjoying the amazing natural sights around us.

After our hike we got back on the bus, which we had to wait in a line for and was again filled to the brim. We had intended to stay in the park longer, but we dared not get off the bus at a different stop because we might not find seats on another bus. So our stay in Zion was short. There is no doubt that this park is one of the most beautiful, but it’s too crowded. Next time I will have to ensure that it’s a less busy time of the year for a visit. I hear the park is beautiful dusted with snow.

For these pictures I used a Fujifilm X100F, a Fujifilm XF10 and a Fujifilm X-T20 with an Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 lens attached using an M42 adapter. The Asahi lens is fantastic, with just a little corner softness that improves as you stop down, and I paid only $30 for it (and it came with a camera). Despite the crowds, Zion is incredibly beautiful with photographic opportunities literally everywhere. I spent a partial day there and came away with these pictures. I felt like I left many great photographs behind. Zion National Park is a magical place for photography, but it’s not a very good place to find solitude, at least not when I was there.

B&W

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Virgin River Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Rocky River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Sun High Over The Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Zion Canyon Sun – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Sun Over Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Amanda & Johanna Asleep – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Rock Wall – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Trunks & Leaves – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Monochrome Vista From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Color

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The Family, Zion Bridge In Autumn – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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A Pine Among The Rocks – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Mount Carmel Tunnel & Chevy – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Autumn River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Virgin River In November – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Strolling Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Rock Ledges – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Yellow Tree Against Red Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Yellow Trees Below Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Rocks of Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Virgin River Through Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Yellow Tree, Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Canyon Tree in Fall – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Yellow Leaves in Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Autumn Tree & Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Sunlight Through The Trees – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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The Yellow of Autumn – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Autumn Along The Virgin River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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River Along The Autumn Path – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Flowing Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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River In The Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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River & Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Rushing Virgin River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Vibrant Autumn Forest – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Travel: Snow Canyon State Park – St. George, Utah

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Crevasse Tree – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Earlier this week my family and I traveled to southern Utah. One place that we visited was Snow Canyon State Park, which sits just outside of St. George. This place was new to us. I saw it on a map and thought it might be interesting, so we went. I knew nothing about Snow Canyon State Park other than how to get there. I didn’t have any expectations, but if I did they would have been blown away. This is a really neat state park!

Despite the name, Snow Canyon doesn’t receive much snow. It was named after the Snow family, who were early settlers to the area. The park features beautiful red sandstone, petrified sand dunes, a couple of small arches and different lava formations. It’s a place that begs to be explored. It’s a great location for hiking, camping and rock climbing–oh, and definitely photography!

We arrived about 30 minutes before sunset and stayed for about 15 minutes after. We didn’t have a long visit, which is a shame because it seems like an awesome park! In the short time that we were there we had a lot of fun. The kids ran around and explored as much as they could. From what I can tell the park has a lot to offer, including some large lava tubes that would have been fun to find. I didn’t know about the lava tubes until after we left, so we’ll have to find them the next time that we visit.

There are most certainly some great photographic opportunities in Snow Canyon. The place has something worthy of your camera’s attention at every turn! The quintessential red rocks of the region and the unusual land formations create the potential for great images. I was there for less than an hour and created the pictures in this article, which were captured using a Fujifilm X-T20. Zion National Park, which isn’t far away, get’s a lot of attention, but Snow Canyon State Park shouldn’t be overlooked! It is definitely worth your time to see.

Color

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Last Light On The Cliffs – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Cliff Hanger – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Petrified Sand Dune – Snow Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Overcoming Adversity – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Crevasse Tree in Color – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fuji X-T20

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Autumn Tree – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Autumn Tree In Snow Canyon – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Exploring Kids – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Moon Over The Rocky Ridge – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

B&W:

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Rock Hills – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Monochrome Moon, Snow Canyon – Snow Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Using A Phone Because I Had Her Camera – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Small Arch In Monochrome – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Wood In The Sand – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Window Rock Joy – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Alone At The Top – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Monochrome Moonrise – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fuji X-T20

Fujifilm X Deals

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With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, I know that some of you are already thinking about gift-giving and holiday shopping. I wanted to give you a quick heads-up on several great discounts currently being offered on Fujifilm X items at Amazon. If you use the links below to purchase something, I get a small amount back, which will be used to improve the Fuji X Weekly experience. I want to give a big “thank you” to everyone who has done so already, and hopefully by the beginning of the new year you’ll be able to see some positive changes to this blog as a result of using the links I provide. I appreciate it so much!

Current discounts being offered on Fujifilm X cameras: the Fujifilm X100F is $100 off, the X-T100 is $100 off, the X-E3 is $100 off, the X-T20 is $200 off, the X-Pro2 is $250 off, the X-H1 is $250 off, and the X-T2 is $500 off, which is an incredible deal!

Current discounts being offered on Fujinon X lenses: the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 is $150 off, the XF 16mm f/1.4 is $150 off, the XF 80mm f/2.8 is $150 off, the XF 10-24mm f/4 is $150 off, the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 is $200 off, the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 is $200 off, and the XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 is $300 off.

As a reminder, I have Fujifilm and photography inspired merchandise, such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, iPhone cases, tote bags, etc., available for purchase in the Fuji X Weekly store!

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram using @fujixweekly. If you have captured an image using one of my film simulation recipes, I invite you to use the hashtag #fujixweekly on Instagram so that I’m sure to see it. I would love to see what you guys are capturing with these settings. Thanks!

Weekly Photo Project, Week 16

You might notice that I alternated color and black-and-white photographs this week, which I did just for fun. Every day except for Monday I had both color and monochrome images to choose from, so it was easy. Alternatively, I could have made this an all-color week. If a theme presents itself I might try to do that on some weeks just to spice up this series a little.

You might notice that five of the seven pictures were captured at my house. It’s nice when you can travel someplace to do photography, but sometimes that’s just not practical. If you have a camera and a creative mind, it’s possible to create interesting images right where you’re at, wherever that is. It might seem like you’re in a boring location without photographic potential, but try hard enough and you’ll soon spot things worthy of pointing your camera lens towards.

Monday, November 5, 2018

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Porch Light – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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Sitting Room – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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Union Station Waiting Room – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Thursday, November 8, 2018

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Peculiar Water – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Friday, November 9, 2018

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Time to Dust Off My Film Photography – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Saturday, November 10, 2018

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Jonathan’s Smile – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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Wasatch November – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Week 15  Week 17

My Fujifilm X-T20 Aged Color Film Simulation Recipe

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White Duck – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Aged Color”

During World War II there was a shortage of rubber, and an effort was put forth to create synthetic rubber. There were many ideas and experiments to create rubber in the lab, most of which failed. One of those failures was a silicone-based elastic substance that could bounce, float in water, and lift print off of newspaper. This substance was created by mistake while trying to invent something else. It was a twist of fate. It was a happy accident. It was Silly Putty.

Recently I was experimenting with the JPEG settings on a Fujifilm X-T20, trying to replicate the look of some different films. I’ve been working on four different film simulation settings for several months, only hitting dead ends. I haven’t been able to achieve the desired results, but I did stumble across an interesting look. Like the discovery of Silly Putty, I made a happy accident! Even though I used an X-T20 for this recipe, you could apply these settings to any X-Trans III camera and get the same exact results.

This look doesn’t quite resemble any specific film that I’m aware of. I think it produces an analog film aesthetic, even though I couldn’t tell you which one. There are a couple of films that I can see maybe some resemblance, but overall it’s not an exact match. Actually, what it reminded me of is a group of four Alien Skin Exposure presets under the “Color Films – Aged” tab called Color Photo. These presets are similar to each other but each one has a slightly varied look. My new film simulation, which I’ve named Aged Color, produces a look that resembles those Exposure presets, although I will admit that it’s more of general aesthetic than a carbon copy. It’s just what I think it most closely resembles, by coincidence.

Below are three pictures of mine that were edited with those Alien Skin Exposure Color Photo presets:

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Hidden Waterfall – Lava Hot Springs, ID

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South Pasadena – Pasadena, CA

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Three Kids In The Water – Carlsbad, CA

While Alien Skin Exposure gives you four preset options for this look, and each of those can be heavily customized, I only have one Aged Color recipe, but you are more than welcome to tweak it to your liking. I find that it produces muted yet lovely colors and slightly faded shadows. If the scene doesn’t have a lot of contrast the images can come out a little flat. The skin tones in the pictures below show a lot of red, but some of that can be attributed to cold temperatures, and I think that under normal conditions skin will look a little more natural. This film simulation recipe is an interesting option to achieve a look that is perhaps unexpected from a digital camera and looks a bit more film-like. I doubt that it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but I think some of you will really appreciate it.

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: +2
Shadow: +3
Color: +4
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: 0
Grain Effect: Strong
White Balance: Auto, +5 Red & -3 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 (typically)

Example photos, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured on a Fujifilm X-T20 using my Aged Color Film Simulation recipe:

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Brother & Sister Fun – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Playground Play – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Joshua Throwing Leaves – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Evening Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Swingset Post – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Oak Tree Autumn Sun – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Last Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Sunlight Through The Branches – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Ducks Swimming In A Pond – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Late Blooms – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Dry & Yellow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Old Town Clock – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Little White Pumpkin On The Mantel – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Lego Food Stand Creation – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Boy Reading – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Hot Coffee Brew – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Potted Succulent  – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Asahi Pentax SLR – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

 

Fujifilm X-Trans III Sharpening & Noise Reduction

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About 11 months ago I published an article entitled Fujifilm X100F Noise Reduction & Sharpening, which detailed my opinions on these two features. I felt like this topic needed a quick refresher, but I didn’t want to rehash what I’ve already said. I think I came up with a good way to approach this topic while not repeating myself.

All Fujifilm files, whether RAW or JPEG, have some level of sharpening and noise reduction applied to them. The options found in the camera for sharpening and noise reduction are specifically for in-camera JPEGs. If you shoot RAW you apply whatever sharpening and noise reduction you’d like with the software of your choice in post-production. If you shoot JPEG you decide this using the options that Fujifilm provides inside their cameras. You cannot turn these off, and the lowest setting, -4, still applies some sharpening or noise reduction, even if a tiny amount.

I don’t think Fujifilm named the setting levels very well. It should be +1 through +9. Naming it -4 through +4 just causes confusion. Instead of thinking of 0 as zero, think of it as the middle option. 0 is really 5 on a scale of one through nine.

Sharpening and noise reduction are great because they make your photographs crisper and cleaner. They help give your images a polished look. However, too much of a good thing is not good at all. Apply too much of either and weird things start happening to your pictures. It’s a balancing act, and it’s easy to go too far.

How far is too far on Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras? That’s up to you to determine. I will give you my opinion, and you can take that for what it’s worth. I will say that for internet use or prints no larger than 8″ x 12″ it really doesn’t matter what settings you choose because it’s difficult to notice the difference between -4 and +4 when viewed that small. If you don’t pixel-peep or print large, using the default settings of 0 are a perfectly fine approach. If you do pixel-peep or print larger than 8″ x 12″ you may want to more carefully consider your choices.

Sharpening:

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Sharpening -4

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Sharpening 0

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Sharpening +4

What can be determined from the three crops above? Not much, because to notice anything you have to look much closer. If you do take the time to study them you can spot the differences. The change from -4 to +4 isn’t especially obvious, so, as you can imagine, a plus or minus of one is very difficult to perceive. My opinion is that anything from -2 to +2 sharpening is where the best results are found, and I stay in the -1 to +1 range for my own photography, which I believe is the sweet spot. I used to use +2 all of the time but I haven’t used that high of a sharpening setting in probably a year.

Noise Reduction:

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Noise Reduction -4

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Noise Reduction 0

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Noise Reduction +4

By looking at the three crops above it might seem as though there’s not much of a difference between -4 and +4 noise reduction, and you are correct, but it’s actually a bigger difference than you might initially think. In my opinion, the noise reduction setting is a little more critical than the sharpening setting as Fujifilm applies it a little heavy-handed on X-Trans III cameras. I think the best results are found between -4 and -2. In my opinion -2 can be marginal sometimes so I typically use -4 or -3.

If you aren’t pixel-peeping, and you are just sharing to Instagram or Facebook, none of this matters. Worry about sharpening and noise reduction if you like to zoom way in on your pictures or if you like to print them large. I personally worry about it, but I take great care with all of the settings so that I get exactly the results that I want. Just because I worry about something or like things a particular way doesn’t mean that you should, too. Find what works best for you, even if it’s unconventional or goes against popular opinion.

Using White Balance Shift For Black & White

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Dramatic Sky Over The Wasatch Front – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Just a couple of weeks ago I posted an article about using white balance shift to achieve different looks in color photographs. What you may not be aware of is that white balance shift can be used to adjust the look of black-and-white images, and it can sometimes be surprisingly dramatic how much it changes things. White balance shift is an unexpected tool that allows you to better achieve desired results in monochrome.

When you shift the white balance it changes how different colors are rendered, so it only makes sense that the grey interpretation of those colors would also be different. Some colors might appear as darker shades of grey and some as lighter. The tones shift, creating a slightly different rendering of the scene. It could be very subtle or it could be quite apparent, but indeed the monochrome interpretation has been altered.

Let’s take a look at the photo below. I reprocessed the same exposure using the RAW developer built into the Fujifilm X-T20, with each version having identical settings except for the white balance shift. I used the Acros+R Film Simulation for this image. As you can see, each adjustment changes the look of the image. For instance, the sky has some areas of bright white in the top version, which is the overall brightest picture, but not the bottom version, which is overall the darkest picture. The highlights on the mountain are handled a little differently in the top and bottom versions. The two middle versions fall in-between, and are only very subtly different from each other.

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White balance shift: +9 Red & 0 Blue

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White balance shift: 0 Red & -9 Blue

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White balance shift: 0 Red & +9 Blue

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White balance shift: -9 Red & 0 Blue

If I were to use Acros+G, the white balance shift would manipulate the image differently than what you see above. It still changes things, but not in the same way. That goes for Acros and Acros+Y, as well. It makes sense when you consider that Acros+Y, Acros+R, and Acros+G settings are designed to simulate the look of using colored filters on real black-and-white film. One must consider the color cast that is being applied to an image, and how the different Acros options will render that.

I’m still figuring out how to use this knowledge in actual real life situations. It’s one thing to apply it when redeveloping a RAW file, and another thing to use it in the field, applying it before the exposure. The latter option is where I’d like to be, but it will take a lot more practice. It’s certainly fun to play with! White balance shift is an interesting option for getting the grey tones more precisely where you want them to be in black and white photographs.

Fujifilm X100F in Brown Now Available

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Fujifilm ended production of the black and silver-and-black versions of the X100F earlier this year, although there appears to be plenty of stock available. A couple of months ago in some parts of the world Fujifilm made a limited-run brown X100F, which apparently sold like hotcakes. They had previously said that the brown X100F would not be made available in North America, but, because sales have been so good, Fujifilm had a change of heart and beginning today they have made the brown X100F available in the USA and Canada. Yea!

I really want one! I have a silver-and-black X100F that I love, but the brown one looks particularly beautiful. I think it looks better than the brown X-E3, for whatever reason. It’s very tempting, but I don’t have gobs of cash to spend on cameras, and especially not right before Christmas, so if I do end up someday with a brown X100F it will be sometime down the road, perhaps in 2019 if things go well.

As a side note while I’m talking about the X100F, I do believe, although I have absolutely no inside information, that Fujifilm is working on the next X100 camera, perhaps called X100V or X200 or something along those lines. I think it will be announced within the next six months and will include an X-Trans IV sensor. I want to make it clear that I don’t have any proof of this, that I’m 100% speculating. It’s just a guess. If you’ve been waiting for the next model, I don’t believe you’ll be waiting all that much longer for some news.

Weekly Photo Project, Week 15

Wow! It’s hard to believe that I’m already 15 weeks into this photo-a-day project. Daylight Savings ended and the clocks were set back one hour, and it almost derailed this series. Thankfully I had a camera with me and I was able to snap an image out the car window while driving down the highway just before the last light of day disappeared.

Monday, October 29, 2018

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Window Pentax – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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Empty Church Seats – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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Stretching Scrub – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Thursday, November 1, 2018

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Fog On The Ridge – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Friday, November 2, 2018

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Clouds Over The Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Saturday, November 3, 2018

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Autumn Morning Sunlight – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Sunday, November 4, 2018

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Sunset From Legacy Parkway – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Week 14  Week 16