My Fujifilm Gear Page

Fujifilm Gear

Have you visited my Fujifilm Gear page? The intention of this new page is to make it more convenient to find camera and lens reviews, recommendations, and links to buy. Up until recently it has been difficult to find that information because you had to dig for it. The articles were on this blog, but you might have missed them when they were new and perhaps were unaware of their existence, or didn’t know how to locate them. Now it’s all in one easy-to-find place, which should improve the Fuji X Weekly experience, at least a little.

As I write more articles, I will expand the page, adding relevant material. As best as I can I will keep the links accurate so that you can see what gear is available and what’s on sale, which will hopefully make gear shopping a tad easier for you. I’m hoping that this will be a good resource, and it will be a page that you’ll return to often. I’ve made a few additions and changes since the page went live three weeks ago, and I plan to keep working on it over the coming weeks to improve it even more.

To get to Fujifilm Gear, simply click on the three bars (the “hamburger menu”) at the top-left of this page, and then click on Fujifilm Gear. Once there, I recommend bookmarking the page so that you can easily find it whenever you might want to access it. I also invite you to follow Fuji X Weekly, if you haven’t already done so. When you are at the top of this page, click “follow” on the bottom-right. Oh, and don’t forget to look me up on Instragram: @fujixweekly.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Artist Photographer

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Dark Rose – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Let’s talk about art and photography! Discussing art is kind of a dangerous proposition because it’s subjective, and you’re bound to step on someone’s toes. I think it’s important to talk about art, and I think, even if someone might be offended, it’s beneficial to define it and have some understanding of how it relates to photography and to you, the photographer.

Most pictures are not art. Most people who use a camera are not artists, just like most people who have a paintbrush in their hands are not artists. Most people who sing aren’t recording artists. Not all who whittle are wood-carvers. Those who draw letters are not always calligraphers. You get the idea. Just because something is similar to art, does not make it art. There is something that separates actual art from facsimile “art” that’s not really art at all.

Before jumping too deep into this, I want to clarify that it is perfectly fine that most photographs are not art. There are many different purposes for the photograph, and art is just one of them. There is nothing wrong with pictures that aren’t art, as they have their place, just as photographs as art also have their place. Just because one uses a camera doesn’t mean that person must be or should be an artist. You may have little to no interest in art at all, but you love to photograph, and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

Webster defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.” Oxford defines it as “the expression of human creative skill and imagination.” Both of these explanations are similar and describe the two critical components for determining if something is or is not art: skill and imagination. If something is created skillfully but not imaginatively, it’s not art. If something is created imaginatively but not skillfully, it’s not art. It must be both skillfully and imaginatively completed in order to be considered art.

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UP 4014 & UP 844 Racing West – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30

People have different levels of skill and creativity. You might be very skillful but only marginally creative. You can be highly creative but only marginally skillful. Either way, you can still create art, and you can work to improve your shortcomings. You can become more proficient and increase your creativity with practice. Obviously the place you want to be if you wish to be an artist photographer is very skillful and highly creative. That’s a life-long process, and there are no easy one-size-fits-all instant answers. Just continue to work hard and be persistent.

Aside from knowing how to use your camera gear to achieve your desired results, and having imagination enough to know what you want the results to be in the first place, I think that there are a few more aspects to art that should be talked about. Look again at what Webster said of art, paying particular attention to the phrase, “conscious use of…” in the definition. You have to know what it is that you are creating. You have to be able to define it. You should be able to explain it to some extent. If you can’t, it’s not likely art that you’re creating.

I used to show my photographs to people and they’d say, “Oh, that looks nice!” Or, “What a pretty picture!” Then one day someone asked, “What does this picture mean? What is its purpose?” I had no answer because I had never thought of that before. I really didn’t know what to say, and it was kind of embarrassing. I realized that I needed to have an answer for all of my photographs–I needed to know the purpose and meaning of each–but the answer needed to be made prior to exposure, not after. If I’m trying to make it up after the fact, the answer will typically translate as artificial and weak.

If a photograph is art, the photographer should be able to give a clear and concise explanation of the image. It doesn’t necessarily have to be profound. It doesn’t necessarily have to be obvious to the viewer. But the photographer should know clearly in their mind why they created the image and what the meaning of it is. And it’s okay if the viewer doesn’t see it the same way that you see it, it only matters that you know the purpose.

If something is art I believe that it should communicate some message to the viewer. It might be a strong and obvious message, it might be a subtle concept, or it might be an emotion. There should be some kind of nonverbal communication, whether clear or vague, that is presented to the viewer. The photographer must decide what it is that the picture will convey, and then make decisions prior to exposure that will most strongly speak it. The stronger the communication, the stronger the image will be.

Fujifilm Blog

Winter Forest Impression – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

The Oxford explanation of art uses the word expression, which can be defined as making one’s thoughts and feelings known. When you are an artist photographer, that’s exactly what you are doing. You are expressing your thoughts and/or feelings to others through your pictures. You are giving the viewer a glimpse of yourself through your photographs. Art is self expression. How you do this is entirely up to you. What glimpses you give of yourself is entirely up to you. You have to make those decisions, then skillfully and imaginatively create something from it.

Not everyone will appreciate your art. Not everyone will get it. In fact, if you are truly expressing yourself, you should expect criticism. People have opinions that are different than yours. People have experiences that are different than yours. People see the world through different eyes than yours. Strangers will look at something that you think is great and they’ll think it’s terrible. That’s completely okay, and you may not realize it, but you do the exact same thing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

If you are an artist photographer, you have to expect that criticism will come. Take it for what it’s worth, and, most likely, it’s not worth much. Listen to people who you trust, and take their criticism to heart. They mean well with what they say, and they’re just trying to help you. For everyone else, give the criticism a listen, but don’t put much stock into it, and don’t let it bother you. If you’re not getting any criticism at all, it’s most likely because you are not creating art, and you are not expressing yourself through your photographs enough.

Not everyone is an artist photographer, and not every artist photographer is always creating art. Photography as art happens when someone consciously expresses themselves in a masterful and creative fashion. It happens when the photographer communicates thoughts or emotions through pictures. I’m constantly striving to be an artist photographer. Sometimes I think I’ve succeeded, other times I feel like I’ve fallen short. But I keep at it, never giving up, always striving ahead.

The takeaway that I’d like to most impart is that you and I, if we are indeed artists, should continuously be working towards becoming more skilled with our gear and we should be practicing creativity daily. Constantly take baby steps to become a better and more artistic photographer. Even if things are slow developing or mistakes happen, don’t give up but instead keep moving forward. Be persistent. Tomorrow’s photographs can be better than today’s.

Hoya Intensifier Filter For Fall Photographs

Hoya Intensifier Filter

The Hoya Intensifier filter claims to increase the intensity of reds and oranges within an image while not adding an overall color shift. It’s a great promise that might be especially beneficial for fall foliage photography. But does it work? Is it worth buying?

I have had my Hoya Intensifier filter for several years now, but I rarely use it. It does, in fact, intensify the reds and oranges within an image, but the promise of not making an overall color shift is false. The filter has a purple tint to the glass, so it should not come as a surprise that it adds a slight purple cast to the picture. That color shift is what makes the reds and oranges appear intensified. That’s how it works. In fact, if you don’t use the filter, but shift the white balance a couple spots towards purple, you can accomplish something similar. While I think that this filter could be beneficial for photographing autumn leaves, I don’t think it’s anywhere near an essential item for that purpose. If you like how it makes pictures look, by all means buy it and use it. If not, skip it. That’s my advice.

Here are two examples of how the Hoya Intensifier filter effects the picture:

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No filter.

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With intensifier filter.

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No filter.

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With intensifier filter.

There is another reason why you might use the Hoya Intensifier filter. This filter reduces light pollution in astrophotography. It does a decent job of it, in fact. If I’m photographing stars somewhere that I know will have light pollution, I like to use this filter to reduce the effects of it in my pictures. If I’m photographing stars somewhere where there is little to no light pollution, I won’t use the filter, as I prefer to not put extra glass between the subject and the sensor if I don’t have to. If you are interesting in astrophotography but aren’t near any dark sky parks, the Hoya Intensifier filter is probably worth buying and using.

To conclude, the Hoya Intensifier filter is perhaps OK for autumn foliage pictures. On one hand it does seem to intensify the reds and oranges within the picture, but on the other hand it does so by way of a color cast, which can be done in-camera with a white balance shift, and is opposite of what Hoya claims. But if you like to photograph stars and want to reduce the effects of light pollution on your pictures, this filter is a good option for that.

5 Tips For Fall Foliage Photography with Fujifilm X Cameras

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Fuji Provia 100F'

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

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year for photography. The weather gets cooler, the coffee turns pumpkin flavored, and the leaves change to vibrant colors. Autumn is the season of change, perhaps more than any other season. Autumn begins almost summer-like, yet ends wintry cold. The trees begin green, but quickly turn yellow, orange and red, before becoming bare and dormant. It’s a vibrant season, that is until winter begins to grab hold. You can’t let time slip away from you or else you’ll miss the annual autumn show, as it never seems to last long enough.

If you don’t have much experience photographing fall foliage, you might not know how to get the most out of it. Since autumn officially began a couple of days ago, and I’ve already seen a few leaves begin to colorfully transform, I thought this would be a good time to share with you some tips for photographing the season of change with your Fujifilm X camera. Below you’ll find five tips for fall foliage photography.

1. Light

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Color – Wasatch Mountain SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

You need quality light to capture good autumn pictures. All great photographs begin with great light, because, after all, without light there is no photograph. Fall foliage pictures feature trees, so you’ll often find that a certain type of light situation works especially well: back-lit. I think, generally speaking, the best light to capture dramatic tree photographs is when the sun is behind the tree. This is even more true in the autumn, as the sunlight illuminates the colorful leaves, displaying them in their most vibrant fashion.

I find that early morning or late evening, when the sun is low to the horizon, provides the best light for fall foliage photographs. Sometimes when the weather is changing, you might find low clouds or fog, which could provide a softer quality of light that can be especially beautiful. While I highly recommend seeking back-lit opportunities, don’t limit yourself strictly to that, but also try to find those fleeting moments of diffused sun.

2. Location

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Kodak E 100G'

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

Not everyone has a brilliant autumn display near where they live. Those colorful fall landscapes aren’t found everywhere. When I lived in California, I had to drive several hours to find a good show, but I would still try to capture the small amount of colorful leaves that were nearby. There would be a tree at the park, or in someone’s front yard, and even at my own house, that would have a less-than-spectacular display, but nevertheless the leaves would change colors. There were times that by really isolating the subject with a tight crop, I could create a decent picture with what was there. Don’t overlook the small opportunities that are nearby.

Oftentimes, unless you happen to live in the heart of fall leaves, such as one of the New England states, you’ll have to travel to photograph a grand display. Do a little research and plan your trip wisely. You’ll want to find out where a good location is, when the leaves are at their colorful peak, and what the weather will be, so that you can make the most of your photographic adventure. Pre-planning goes a long ways, and as the saying goes, “Location, location, location!”

3. Leaves

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Sycamore Autumn – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Robert Capa famously said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” That’s not always true, but often it is, and you might find it to be helpful advice for your autumn pictures. Get close to the leaves, capturing their shapes and patterns. Don’t be afraid to use a macro lens and get super close. Make the leaves the main subject, and don’t even show the rest of the scene in your composition.

Some of the best autumn pictures that I’ve seen have a narrow focus. Isolate the scene with a tight crop. Make the scene a bit abstract. Oftentimes less is more. The vibrant leaves are what make this season so colorful, so don’t hesitate to make that the clear subject of your pictures.

4. Lenses

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Yellow & Green Trees – Wasatch Mountain SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

You can use any lens to photograph fall foliage, but I find that telephoto lenses are especially useful. The Fujinon 90mm f/2 is a good one for creating tight compositions. The Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro is another good one for this, plus it’s a macro lens, so you can focus close to the leaves. Another strategy is to go wide-angle, and showcase the larger scene. It’s a little trickier, but the results can be very rewarding. The more wide-angle, the more dramatic, but also the more difficult. The Fujinon 16mm f/2.8 might be a good option for this.

My recommendation is to have a few lenses in your bag, if you can. If you’re only going to have one, consider a telephoto lens instead of a wide-angle. Best case is that you have a telephoto, a wide-angle and a “standard” prime. A zoom lens, like the Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8, would be a very good alternative, especially if you don’t want to carry a bunch of gear around.

5. Lively

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Red Leaves In The Forest – Wasatch Mountain SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

Go bold when capturing the vivid colors of the season. My favorite film simulation recipes for autumn pictures are ones that use Velvia, either my original Velvia recipe, the new Velvia, or my Ektachrome 100SW recipe. Astia can work well, too, and my Ektar recipe, which utilizes Astia, is a good option. I’ve even had good luck with my Vintage Kodachrome recipe, so don’t be afraid to try different settings, but, generally speaking, the lively colors of Velvia deliver the best results for fall foliage pictures.

This article contains affiliate links to purchase products, and, if you buy something, I get a small kickback for referring you. Nobody pays me to write the articles on this blog. If you like what you read on Fuji X Weekly and wish to help support this website, if you are planning to purchase something, using my links is appreciated. Thanks!

Share Your Website on Fuji X Weekly

Fujifilm X100F

What’s your website?

I thought it would be a fun idea to give you an opportunity to share your website with me and the Fuji X Weekly community. I know that many of you have a website. It would be great if you posted it, so that I or anyone else reading this could visit it. Even if it’s not photography related, please feel free to share your website. Simply, leave your website address in the comments section. Give your name, web address, and maybe a brief description of your website.

We’re all on this road together. The photography community has been incredibly helpful to me over the years, and I’m glad to be a part of this continuum. If we are all kind and helpful to each other, we’ll all be better photographers for it. I’m hoping that this post will benefit some of you, and maybe you’ll discover some good resource or inspiration. Perhaps you’ll find a website a two to follow, in addition to the others that you already follow (and don’t forget to follow Fuji X Weekly if you are not doing so already).

I look forward to seeing your website in the comments section. I encourage you to check back on this post after a few days and click the different websites that are shared in the comments, and see what others are up to.

This should be a fun!

Featured Gear: Fujifilm X-Pro2

Fujifilm X-Pro2

Fujifilm X-Pro2

Fujifilm recently confirmed that the X-Pro3 is forthcoming and will include some new features. The X-Pro3 will have an unusual backwards-mounted rear screen, a small second rear screen that displays exposure and film simulation information, no four-way D-Pad, plus a brand new film simulation and some new JPEG options like clarity and curve adjustments. The screen setup has created a lot of buzz, and it seems that people either love or hate the redesign. The X-Pro3 might be the most controversial update by Fujifilm ever, and it hasn’t even been officially announced yet.

The X-Pro line is Fujifilm’s second most beautifully designed camera, only marginally behind the X100 series. Fuji knows how to produce appealing cameras, and X-Pro cameras look great! They resemble 1960’s-era 35mm rangefinders, and can even operate like one. It has a really cool hybrid viewfinder, that can work optically, digitally or both. The X-Pro design produces an experience that’s different from other digital cameras.

The X-Pro2 was released in March of 2016. Despite being three-and-a-half years old now, the X-Pro2 doesn’t often get discounted. It’s a popular camera that’s almost in the collectible or cult-like realm of Leica. It’s one of those cameras that I think most people would love to own just for the joy of it. Is the X-T3 a better camera? Absolutely. Is the X-T3 more fun or better looking? Absolutely not. Enjoyable and superior-styling are how I would describe the X-Pro line. People will often ask you about the camera in your hand when you shoot with an X-Pro. There’s pride in owning one. I know this from first-hand experience. And the joy of the shooting experience is what this camera is about.

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

While the X-Pro3 is around the corner, and will be available to buy before the end of the year, there are reasons to get yourself an X-Pro2 instead. First, the X-Pro2 is available for purchase today, and you don’t have to wait. Plus, it’s currently discounted, since the new camera was conformed by Fujifilm. The upcoming version has the unusual rear screen, which you might not like and maybe think is odd, and it also doesn’t have a D-Pad, which the X-Pro2 does have. You might find the backside of the X-Pro2 a better fit for you than the X-Pro3. Aside from all of that, the X-Trans IV sensor and processor inside the new version isn’t a huge upgrade over the X-Trans III sensor and processor inside the X-Pro2. The biggest benefit to X-Trans IV is heat (the new sensor runs cooler), which allows the camera to operate faster. Your style of photography might not require blazing fast auto-focus. There’s not much of a difference in image quality between X-Trans III and IV. The X-Pro3, aside from some design changes and a few JPEG features, isn’t much different than the X-Pro2, and they’re probably about 90-95% the same exact camera.

Below are the current prices (as of this writing) on the Fujifilm X-Pro2, whether for just the camera body or bundled with a lens. The graphite version with the 23mm lens looks especially appealing, and has the largest discount. You will find affiliate links to buy the camera at both B&H and Amazon. If you do, I will get a small kickback for referring you. Nobody pays me to write the articles you find on this blog, so using my affiliate links to buy an item is an opportunity for you to support what I do on Fuji X Weekly, and it’s greatly appreciated.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 (Body Only): $1,499 ($200 off)
Buy: B&H  Amazon

Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/23mm f/2 lens: $1,948 ($200 off)
Buy: B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/35mm f/2 lens: $1,898 ($200 off)
Buy: B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/50mm f/2 lens: $1,948 ($200 off)
Buy: B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite w/23mm f/2 lens: $1,949 ($350 off)
Buy: B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm Full Spectrum (Or, Dreaming In Infrared Colors)

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This is a fake infrared picture that I captured in Yosemite National Park several years ago.

I would love a full-spectrum Fujifilm camera for infrared photography. I’ve had an interest in infrared photography for some time, but I have yet to actually try it. Yes, I shot a roll of infrared film many, many years ago, but I didn’t understand what I was doing and the results were disappointing. I’ve also used software to make faux infrared, but I don’t particularly like the results from that, either. No, what I need is a Fujifilm camera that has been modified for full-spectrum, and then a bunch of filters to achieve various affects. You can find these cameras sometimes on eBay, like this X-E3 for $900, this X-T1 for $850, or this X-T100 for $590. [Edit: This X100F is the one I want, but at $1,300 it is outside of my budget.] I would especially love to buy the X-E3, but honestly I’d be happy with the X-T100. You also need filters, which can be cheap (like this one) and can be expensive (like this one), depending on the brand, filter thread size, and the exact effect you are after. Additionally, you need to know what lenses are good for infrared, but thankfully there’s a good database, so it’s not too difficult to know which lenses will work well and which ones won’t.

It would be great if Fujifilm made a full-spectrum version of one of their cameras (the X100F, perhaps). I doubt that will ever happen, unless there’s a sudden interest in infrared photography. Sigma cameras have a removable IR filter over the sensor, which when removed turns the camera into full-spectrum. The filter just pops in and out. An option like that would be pretty cool on Fujifilm cameras, but it’s unlikely. The best bet is to buy a camera that’s had the conversion done to it. Someday, when I have some extra money burning a hole in my pocket, I will do that. Until then, I will dream in the unusual colors of infrared.

My Fujifilm X-T30 Kodak Elite Chrome 200 Color Fade Film Simulation Recipe

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JTPX 1204 – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Elite Chrome 200 Color Fade”

I recently ran across some old slides that I had forgotten about, and one of those color transparencies was a frame of Kodak Elite Chrome 200 that was beginning to fade and change color. The picture wasn’t especially good, but it looked interesting because of how the image was transforming. Elite Chrome was a version of Ektachrome, which has been dubbed Fade-a-chrome, as it’s very prone to fading and discoloration, especially if not stored correctly, which this particular picture wasn’t. You can see the fading Elite Chrome 200 photograph below.

I wondered if I could create a film simulation recipe that mimics the look of fading Elite Chrome 200. I experimented with the settings a bunch, but couldn’t get it to look right. After showing my wife, Amanda, she suggested that the digital picture looked too crisp, too detailed. I made some more modifications, and found myself much closer. Not perfect, but very close. I made more changes and adjustments, but unfortunately I couldn’t get it to look better, so I went back to those settings that were very close to being right, which is the recipe here.

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DGNO Locomotive – Dallas, TX – Canon AE-1 & Kodak Elite Chrome 200 35mm film

One addition to this film simulation recipe that you’ve never seen in any of my other recipes is Image Quality. I have always used Fine, because it’s the highest quality setting, but in this case Fine was, well, too fine. I set it to Normal instead so as to better mimic the transparency. While I’m sure this particular recipe is not for everyone, those looking for something that resembles film from decades ago might appreciate it, as it has an analog aesthetic, and a look that’s a bit unusual, perhaps a bit lomographic (did I just make up a word?).

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: 0
Shadow: +2
Color: -2
Noise Reduction: +2
Sharpening: -4
Grain Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Image Quality: Normal
White Balance: 8300K, +4 Red & +8 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to -2/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this Kodak Elite Chrome 200 Color Fade recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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Green Locomotive – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Tank Rider – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Tracks By The Refinery – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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American Joe – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Neighborhood Patriotism – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Sidewalk Tricycle – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Red Flag – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Peek – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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One Eye Open – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Evening Bike – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Fence & Path – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Out Flowing – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Mountain Sky – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Wet Red Rose – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Rose Blossom Fence – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

X-Pro3 To Have New Film Simulation: Classic Negative

Fujifilm Classic Negative

The upcoming Fujifilm X-Pro3, which will feature an unusual rear screen, will have a new film simulation called Classic Negative, which is supposed to resemble Superia film, according to Fujifilm. I get a lot of requests for Superia, so I’m very happy to see this as a new film simulation. Yea!

Fujirumors stated that the X-Pro3 will have some additional adjustments for in-camera RAW processing, such as Clarity. I welcome this because the more tools that Fujifilm provides, the more easily I can achieve a desired look in-camera. Fujifilm is one of only a few companies that take camera-made JPEGs seriously, and is one of the big reasons why I appreciate their products. Shooting JPEGs saves me so much time, allowing my photography to be more productive while simultaneously allowing me to spend more time elsewhere, such as with my family.

I hope that Fujifilm makes these things–the Classic Negative film simulation and the additional tools–available to other cameras, such as the X-T3 and X-T30, which share the same sensor and processor as the upcoming X-Pro3. There is, according to Fujirumors, some big firmware updates on the horizon, and I hope that these are a part of that. Sometimes, when a new feature is included in a new camera, Fujifilm will update older cameras to include it as well, and sometimes they don’t. So it’s really hard to know. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Fujifilm Classic NegativeFujifilm X-Pro3Fujifilm X-Pro3Fujifilm X-Pro3

The 5 C’s of Photographic Vision

Fujifilm X-E1

Photographic vision is essential to successful photography. Many people will tell you that you need it, but very few will explain what it is. You can search the web endlessly, but you won’t find a whole lot that lays out photographic vision simply and coherently. It took me a long time to learn it, mostly from experience, and mostly from failures. And, really, I’m still learning it. In this post I will briefly explain this important concept.

“In order to be a successful photographer, you must possess both vision and focus, neither of which have anything to do with your eyes.” –Kevin Russo

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” –Ansel Adams

My definition of photographic vision is “a vivid and imaginative conception.” There are five essential elements of photographic vision, all beginning with the letter C, and three of those essential elements are found within that definition: Clarity, Creativity and Conception. Capturing and Composing are the fourth and fifth elements. Let’s take a look at each.

1. Clarity

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Passerby – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

In order to have photographic vision, you must have vivid clarity. You must see in your mind’s eye what it is that you want to create before opening the shutter, which means that you must pre-visualize the finished photograph. This might be a brief moment before the shutter opens or this might be something that you’ve thought about for days, weeks or even years in advance. It doesn’t necessarily matter how long that you pre-visualized, it just matters that you saw the finished picture prior to capturing it.

Great photographs are very rarely happy accidents. Almost all worthwhile pictures took some thought and planning to create, even if just for a moment before the shutter clicked open. The more clearly you can see in your mind what it is that you want to capture, the more likely you are to accomplish it. Clarity means vividly seeing the end while still at the beginning, which is the first key to capturing great pictures.

2. Creativity

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Ethos – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X100F

In addition to having clarity, you must be creative. Some people seem to be naturally creative. If that’s not you, don’t fret! I believe that creativity is something that can be learned and fostered. The more you allow yourself to think outside the box and look at things from different angles, the more creative you’ll become. Creativity takes practice.

You have to relax. You have to keep an open mind. You have to use your imagination. Try to channel your inner child. This all might sound cliché, but the only barrier to creativity is yourself–your rigid self–the self that says words like “no” and “can’t” and “shouldn’t” and other negative things. Think positive and throw all the so-called rules out the window. Take a deep breath; let yourself go.

3. Conception

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Barn By The Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

Your photograph begins as a concept. You have an idea. You begin to see that idea vividly in your mind’s eye. As the thought forms, you begin to consider other ways to look at it. Your creativeness takes the concept to new places. This is a vivid and imaginative conception.

Speak some message through your picture. Show your unique perspective. You have something important to say, so say it! Photographs are a form of nonverbal communication, and they all say something. The stronger the communication, the stronger the image. Use your strongest communication in your photos. Make your concept as clear as practical so the viewer isn’t left wondering what the point of the picture is.

4. Capturing

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Jacob’s Ladder – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2

The next step in photographic vision is to capture the image on film or digital sensor. You’ve come up with a creative concept that you can clearly see in your mind. You’ve made a vivid and imaginative conception, so now is the time to make it a photographic reality. This is when you take what you saw in your head and make it happen photographically.

There is a lot to this, of course. You must consider gear and settings and lighting and composition and everything else. You have to know how to put what’s in your mind into something tangible. If you don’t know how, then perhaps you should learn. There are so many resources available on the internet and at the library–it’s all at your fingertips if you put in a little effort to learn. And oftentimes learning-by-doing is a good approach because, after all, practice makes perfect. The more you do, the better you’ll be. Because this step might be the most difficult, I cannot overemphasize the importance of understanding how your camera works at a deep level, and knowing fundamental photographic concepts. Capturing what’s in your mind is much easier said than done, but it can be done.

5. Composing

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Brush Strokes Over The Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Composing probably reminds you of composition, but that’s not what I mean, as composition can be found in the previous principals. Instead, think of a symphony composer, putting everything together, placing consideration on even the smallest details. In the case of photographic vision, composing means taking account of all the little details, including editing. Especially editing.

Editing might mean post-processing your files if they require manipulation to fulfill your vision, knowing how much manipulation is enough, and knowing when no manipulation is better. Editing also means editing out the lesser exposures, deleting the bad ones and not including the mediocre ones with a body of work. Consider composing to be a synonym for curating. Additionally, it’s knowing when the vision or execution of the vision wasn’t good enough. Composing means knowing when to take it from the top and try again. It means being responsible for the finished image.

Conclusion

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

It takes a lot of work, mostly mental work but also physical work, to create worthwhile pictures. You are creating pictures, not merely taking them. Your art requires your best craft. Understanding what photographic vision is goes a long ways towards this, but more important than understanding it is practicing it. Grab your camera and head out with a vivid and imaginative concept in your mind so that you will more successfully create great photographs.