Visiting Five National Parks …with RitchieCam!

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Color Negative — Arches National Park

This year I’ve had the opportunity to visit five different National Parks! I love going to National Parks to experience the wonder of nature. They’re great for photography, and they’re great for the soul. Anytime the opportunity arrises to visit a National Park, I jump at it. In winter, I traveled to Arches National Park in southern Utah, Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah, and Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming. In spring, I visited Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah and Hot Springs National Park in central Arkansas. These are wonderful locations that are worth the effort to experience!

While my main cameras are Fujifilm—such as the X100V and X-E4—I also use my iPhone for photography. Chase Jarvis famously coined, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” He was specifically stating that if your cellphone is your only option, then it’s the best option; however, I would go a step further and say that your cellphone can be used in conjunction with your main cameras. Why? Your phone might have a different focal length than the lens on your camera (versatility). It’s quicker and easier to share the pictures from your phone (convenience). You don’t have to think about the settings (simplicity). Your phone is more easily portable—you can have it with you when your camera isn’t as practical to bring along (compactness). It doesn’t have to be either your camera or your phone—it can be both, and I used both on my visits to these five National Parks.

Of course, when I photograph with my iPhone, I use my very own RitchieCam App, which is a streamlined camera app with no-edit filters. RitchieCam is intended to help you capture everyday moments—including those that happen while visiting National Parks—more beautifully while maintaining simplicity (anyone can use it, not just photographers). The app is free to download and use—becoming a RitchieCam Patron unlocks the app’s full capabilities. If you have an iPhone, be sure to download RitchieCam today (click here)!

I utilized RitchieCam on my iPhone to photograph these National Parks, and so did others in my family: my wife (Amanda), my daughter (Joy), and my son (Jonathan)—they used RitchieCam, too! While most of the pictures in this article were captured by me, there are a few that they took. After our visits, it’s a lot of fun sharing our photos with each other. We all love going to National Parks, and being able to share the photographic experiences—thanks to RitchieCam—makes it even better.

Arches National Park — Utah

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Instant Color 3

If you love unusual rock formations, Arches National Park in southeastern Utah is the place for you! Protruding from the high-desert sand are massive red rocks, which form bluffs, pinnacles, balancing acts, and (of course) arches. There are over 2,000 arches within the National Park, which is the highest concentration of stone arches in the world! Several movies have had scenes filmed in this National Park, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Thelma and Louise, and Hulk, among others.

Arches National Park is a great place to visit anytime of the year; however, it can be extremely crowded in the summer (not to mention hot), so the winter is my favorite season. It snowed while we were there—a somewhat rare occurrence, although it does happen at least a few days each winter. I loved photographing the park blanketed in white snow, but it melted quickly, and was mostly gone by the end of the day. While we only spent one day in Arches National Park, we made a lifetime of memories there.

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Analog Gold
iPhone 7 — RitchieCam — Analog Gold — Photo by Jonathan
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Standard Film
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — B&W Fade

Canyonlands National Park — Utah

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Faded Film

The day after our Arches visit, we went to the nearby Canyonlands National Park. While Arches can get packed with people, I’ve never seen a crowd at Canyonlands—I’m sure it happens, but I’ve always found plenty of solitude. The Colorado River goes through both Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon, and they’re both on the Colorado Plateau—both are indeed natural wonders, and there are certainly some similarities between them, yet each offers a unique experience for visitors. Picking a favorite National Park is a difficult and unfair endeavor, but Canyonlands is without a doubt one of my top picks—maybe not number one, but definitely top five.

The reason why Canyonlands was on Day 2 and not Day 1 of our National Parks adventure is because it was closed the day prior due to the snowfall. A dusting of snow in Arches was a blizzard in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands, which sits about 6,000′ above sea level, and about 1,000′ higher than the terrain below. Thankfully, by the time we arrived, most of the snow had melted, and we had a fun day hiking, taking in the incredible canyon views that this park offers.

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Standard Film
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Vibrant Color
iPhone SE — RitchieCam — Analog Color — Photo by Joy
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Dramatic B&W

Bryce Canyon National Park — Utah

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Standard Film

In southwestern Utah is Bryce Canyon National Park, which is known for its vibrant red hoodoos. While I’ve visited the nearby Zion National Park a couple of times, I had never made it to Bryce Canyon until this last spring. Wow! I was really missing out—Bryce Canyon is absolutely incredible! It’s a National Park that everyone should experience at least once, if they can. While Zion is quite nice, too, if you only have time for one or the other, I would go to Bryce Canyon.

The elevation of the park varies between 6,600′ and 9,100′ depending on where you’re at. Despite “canyon” in its name, Bryce Canyon is technically not a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters. To really experience the park you’ll want to put on your hiking shoes; however, don’t expect an easy trail, as the paths are often steep and full of switchbacks. It’s completely worthwhile, though, and, if you are physically able to do it, I highly recommend going down a trail or two while you’re there.

iPhone 13 Pro — RitchieCam — Vibrant Color — Photo by Amanda
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Standard Film
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — B&W Fade
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — B&W Fade

Grand Teton National Park — Wyoming

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Color Negative Low

The Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming is an amazing sight to behold! I had been once before—in late-spring several years ago—and this was my first winter visit. Unfortunately, the park was much less accessible this time, due to snow. Jackson Hole is a ski destination, so there were lots of tourists, but most of my favorite photography spots (that I was hoping to return to) were closed. I would say that it was disappointing, but when you view the towering range, despite the conditions, it’s impossible to be disappointed—it just made me eager to come again in a different season.

Within Grand Teton National Park are eight peaks that are over 12,000′ above sea level. The location of Ansel Adams’ famous Snake River Overlook picture is well marked and (normally) easily accessible—I had to hike through some knee-deep snow to get to it on this trip. Definitely worth seeing, but perhaps winter isn’t the best time.

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Analog Color
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Instant Color 1
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Instant Color 1
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — Dramatic B&W

Hot Springs National Park — Arkansas

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — B&W Fade

Perhaps the strangest National Park I’ve ever experienced is Hot Springs National Park. Located in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas, this park is free to visit (although the observation tower has a fee to access), but there’s not much to see. You can self-tour one of the bathhouses (which is now the visitors center). There are a couple of rather-ordinary springs that you can view—unfortunately, most of the springs are oddly capped with metal encasements. There are some trails that twist up a hill (along with a road), and at the top is a tower, which offers breathtaking views of the southern Ozarks. None of it comes close to the grandness that I have come to expect from National Parks, or even many state parks.

I was surprised by the beauty of this region. I liked Hot Springs. The National Park was a good place to spend a few hours. But I left wondering why in the world this was a National Park, because it doesn’t seem like it should be. It’s worth visiting if you’re in the area (and the area is worth visiting), but I wouldn’t make a special trip just to see Hot Springs National Park. Still, we had a good time, and made some family memories, and that’s what really matters.

iPhone 13 Pro — RitchieCam — Sunny Day — Photo by Amanda
iPhone 13 Pro — RitchieCam — Sunny Day — Photo by Amanda
iPhone 13 Pro — RitchieCam — Instant Color 1 — Photo by Amanda
iPhone 11 — RitchieCam — B&W Fade

There are 63 National Parks in America, and someday I hope to visit them all. It will take years—probably a lifetime! Five in one year is a good lot, and maybe the opportunity will arise to visit even more before January rolls around. I hope so. And if I do, not only will I bring my Fujifilm cameras, but my iPhone, too.

Find RitchieCam in the iOS App Store!

SOOC is LIVE on Thursday!

The next SOOC episode will be live on Thursday, August 11! Join Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and myself as we finish our discussion of the Fujicolor Pro 400H Film Simulation Recipe and introduce the next recipe-of-the-month: Vintage Agfacolor. The PreShow starts at 9:30 AM Pacific, 12:30 PM Eastern Time; if you can’t make the PreShow, be sure to tune in by 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern to catch the broadcast.

For those who don’t know, SOOC is a monthly live video series, with each episode focused on a different Film Simulation Recipe. It is a collaboration between Tame Your Fujifilm (Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry) and Fuji X Weekly (Ritchie Roesch). SOOC is a fun and educational experience where we not only talk about Fujifilm camera settings, but also answer your questions and give tips and tricks. Basically, we’re trying to help you master your Fujifilm camera, with a focus on simplifying your photographic workflow.

If you missed the last episode when it was live, you can watch it below:

See you on Thursday!

Fujifilm X-Trans III + X-T3/X-T30 Film Simulation Recipe: Melancholy Blue

Pops of Pink – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1 – “Melancholy Blue”

For this Film Simulation Recipe I wanted to combine the beautiful blues of the new Pacific Blues recipe with the dark moodiness of the Vintage Agfacolor recipe. The result is a slightly melancholic aesthetic that can also produce dramatic results in certain circumstances. It’s great for daylight photography—delivering interesting (yet quite dissimilar) results in both overcast and bright sunlight conditions, including Low Key photography—and it also seems like a good option for some artificial light situations. Despite its versatility, it’s not a recipe that everyone will love; however, I know that a few of you will really appreciate it.

Unless your camera is an X-Pro3 or newer, you cannot save a white balance shift with your C1-C7 custom presets; however, your camera will remember one shift per white balance type, so if each C1-C7 recipe uses a different white balance type, you won’t have to remember to change the shift when you change recipes. There aren’t very many recipes that use the Incandescent White Balance, but now you have another recipe option if you are using this method.

Enlightened Nature – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Melancholy Blue”

This “Melancholy Blue” Film Simulation Recipe is intended for Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras, plus the X-T3 and X-T30. I used it on my Fujifilm X-H1 and X-T30, and it did well on both. For newer X-Trans IV cameras, set Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, Clarity to 0, and Grain size to… either Small or Large, you’ll have to decide which you prefer.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +3
Shadow: -1
Color: -2
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpness: -1
Grain Effect: Weak
Color Chrome Effect: Off/NA
White Balance: Incandescent, +4 Red & -9 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400

Exposure Compensation: -1/3 to -1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Melancholy Blue” Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujifilm X-H1 cameras:

Prickly Fruit – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Yellow on Top – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Dark Saguaro – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Buddies – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Lights Along A Wall – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30
Backyard Blooms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Backlit Trumpets – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Twin Blooms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30
Climbing Trumpets – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30
Bougainvillea Branch – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Block Wall Shadow – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Does Not Stop – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Roof Lines – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

Find this Film Simulation Recipe and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly App!

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Creative Collective 026: Simple Hack for Dreamy Lens Flare

I like using vintage lenses because they often have character, and sometimes that character is pronounced in the lens flare. When light is scattered within the lens system, such as reflected between the elements, you get lens flare. Some people love it and some people don’t. Modern lenses are precision engineered and coated to avoid lens flare as much as possible. If you’re one of those who like it and try to incorporate it within your photography, you might be disappointed that newer glass just doesn’t produce very much lens flare; however, there’s a cheap and simple hack for increasing the flare in your photographs.

If you are using a lens that’s not especially prone to lens flare and you want a little more of it in your pictures, it’s very easy to do.

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Fujifilm X-E4 (X-Trans IV) Film Simulation Recipe: Pacific Blues

Coastal Blooms – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Pacific Blues”

Sometimes—like “Arizona Analog“—Film Simulation Recipes come together quickly, and sometimes—like this recipe—they don’t. This particular recipe has been in the works for over a year! I’ve made several attempts, and I finally feel satisfied that it is right—or at least as “right” as I’m going to get it. But what is it?

I’ve had a few requests to mimic the aesthetic of Lucy Laucht‘s Spirit of Summer series, particularly the Positano Blues photographs. Lucy is most known for shooting with Leica cameras—both film and digital—but she also uses others, and I wasn’t sure what she employed for this project. Recently I discovered that Positano Blues was shot on film, but (as far as I’ve found) she doesn’t discuss which film. I did find a reference (not related to this specific project) that mentioned she has used Kodak Gold and Kodak Portra, and that she digitally edits the film scans to some degree. She mentions using VSCO with her digital images, and I wonder if she also utilizes it with her film, too. When I first saw the pictures in this series, I thought it had a Classic Negative vibe—a film simulation that emulates Fujicolor Superia film. Lucy’s pictures are warmer than Superia typically is, but so much depends on how a film is shot, developed, scanned, etc., on how exactly it looks, and she certainly could have used warming filter. No matter the film and process used by Lucy, there’s a certain “look” to the Positano Blues photographs that is recognizable and beautiful—no wonder why people want to emulate it!

Coast Blue – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Pacific Blues”

While Lucy Laucht’s pictures have a recognizable aesthetic, there are subtle differences between the images. Once you study them closely, you realize that some are warmer and some are cooler. Colors are rendered slightly different in some pictures. In past attempts, I felt like I’d get it “right” for one picture but “wrong” for others; however, with this final attempt, I feel like it’s possible to get close to the “look” of most of the Positano Blues photos. I’m very satisfied with how this one turned out, and I know that many of you will appreciate it, too. Obviously it is intended for a summer day at the beach, but it will do well in many different daylight situations. This “Pacific Blues” Film Simulation Recipe is compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. I assume that it will also work on the X-H2s and newer GFX cameras, but I haven’t tried it to know for sure.

Classic Negative
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: -2
Shadow: +3
Color: +4
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpness: -2
Clarity: -3
Grain Effect: Strong, Large
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong
White Balance: 5800K, +1 Red & -3 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Pacific Blues” Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm X-E4:

Pier Feet – Avila Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Water Taxi – Avila Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Harford Pier – Avila Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Bird & Boats – Avila Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Bird ‘Bout To Get Wet – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Ocean Post – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Pacific Plants – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Rocks in the Water – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Central California Coast – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Grass in the Sand – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Beach Frisbee – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Sax at the Beach – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Surf Rider – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Lone Rider – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Two on the Wave – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Evening Wave – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4

Find this film simulation recipes and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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RitchieCam Update!

B&W Fade Filter — XPan 65:24 Aspect Ratio

I just released RitchieCam update 1.2.0! If you have RitchieCam on your iPhone and it didn’t update automatically, be sure to manually do it right now. If you have an iPhone but don’t have RitchieCam, go to the Apple App Store and download it today!

For those who don’t know, RitchieCam is an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. There are 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. It is intended to be simple enough to be useful for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, and robust enough that even seasoned photographers should find it satisfying. Visit RitchieCam.com to learn more. Also, be sure to follow RitchieCam on Instagram!

What’s new in this update? There are three new features: drag to switch filters, 65:24 aspect ratio, and straight-down level indicator. Each one of these is discussed in detail below. There are also several small improvements and refinements, which will mostly go unnoticed—the most obvious is the enlarged EV +/- switch, hopefully improving its ease of use. Many other features and improvements are in the works, but it takes time to bring them to fruition, so be patient if this update doesn’t include what you were hoping it would—for certain, many great things are coming down the road.

Let’s take a look at the three new features!

Drag to Switch Filters

There’s a new way to select your desired RitchieCam filter even faster—simply drag your finger across the viewfinder! If you are a RitchieCam Patron, far-left is Standard Color, far-right is Dramatic B&W, and the 16 other filters are in-between; otherwise, left is Standard Color, middle is Analog Color, and right is B&W Negative. This is a quick and fun way to get to whichever filter you want to use, or to see which filter might be the best fit for the scene.

The video above is a screen-recording I made using this new feature. Just picture a finger dragging across the screen, left-to-right. I was trying to be slow and smooth, but this is a snappy function, so it is as quick as you are—you are in control of how fast or slowly you swipe through the filter options.

Drag-to-switch is a new way to find and select filters, but the previous methods still work as they always have. I think a lot of you will prefer this new method, but it is completely optional, so nothing changes for you if you like your current process; however, if you ever wished that there was a quicker way to switch filters, now there is!

65:24 XPan Aspect Ratio

Analog Color Filter — XPan 65:24 Aspect Ratio

The 65:24 aspect ratio was made popular by XPan cameras, a joint venture between Fujifilm and Hasselblad. I received a lot of requests for this aspect ratio, so I am happy to announce that it is now an option on RitchieCam! You can capture panoramic pictures straight from RitchieCam, no cropping required.

Currently there are six aspect ratios to choose from: 4:3/3:4, 5:4/4:5, 1:1, 3:2/2:3, 16:9/9:16, & 65:24/24:65. The panoramic 65:24 ratio can be challenging to use, but also highly rewarding, producing cinematic feelings that are only possible by going wide—give the XPan ratio a try today!

Dramatic B&W Filter — Xpan 65:24 Aspect Ratio

Level Indicator for Straight-Down Photography

If you ever do product photography that requires you to shoot straight down, it can be difficult to get the camera level. I’m always off by a little, tilted slightly one way or another. But RitchieCam is here to help!

Now, when the phone is flat (parallel to the ground), the gyroscope activates a white and yellow plus that, when aligned (indicated by the yellow plus as the only one visible), lets you know that the phone is level, not tilted in any direction. This feature is always on, so anytime the phone is flat when using RitchieCam, the pluses will appear. Some of you might not ever use this, but for some of you this is a really big deal.

Level
Tilted

Fujifilm X-E4 (X-Trans IV) Film Simulation Recipe: Arizona Analog

Building Storm Over Desert Ridge – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Arizona Analog”

Inspiration can come suddenly and unexpectedly, and it’s important to be open to it when it comes.

I was at the grocery store the other day, waiting in line to checkout, standing right next to the magazine stand. My wife points out the latest issue of Arizona Highways, which I previously subscribed to, but (with my move from Utah) I let the renewal lapse. She says, “Wanna get it?” I shake my head no, then begin to load the groceries onto the belt. I didn’t want to get it because the subscription price for a year is the same price as four issues at the stand, and because I’m pretty busy right now (still unpacking boxes and such) and I might not read it anyway.

“Do you mind getting me an iced coffee?” My wife asked a moment later. Then, pointing at the stuff on the belt, she stated, “I’ve got this.” There’s a Starbucks in the grocery store, and I was happy to jump out of the line and get a couple of coffees. A few minutes later, just as the barista was done with our order, my wife walks up with the basket of bagged groceries. Sitting right on top was the Arizona Highways magazine.

Old Saguaro – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Arizona Analog”

When we got home, after unloading the car and putting everything away, I thumbed through the August issue. On page 10 was a photograph by Scott Baxter of a rancher wrangling cattle, which was in a small article called Sierra Bonita Ranch (the picture can be seen if you click the link—click on the picture to see the whole thing—I find it interesting how different it appears on my screen vs in the magazine). I grabbed my Fujifilm X-E4 and threw in some settings that I thought might be close.

I snapped a few photos in the yard, then showed my wife. “Those look good,” she said. “This is where I got the inspiration,” I stated as I showed her Scott’s picture in the magazine. She viewed the picture, then gave me a puzzled look. “We’ve only been home 10 minutes. You made this recipe from that picture?”

“Yes!” I replied with a smile. “Wow,” she said, “that’s really amazing!”

Suburban Americana – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Arizona Analog”

This recipe isn’t a 100% accurate match to Scott’s picture—it’s pretty close, but not perfect. Not surprising, it’s closer to the printed aesthetic than the digital look, as I hadn’t yet seen it online when I created the recipe. I considered attempting to more closely replicate the aesthetic of the picture, but I really like the look of this recipe—accurate or not—so I decided not to change it. I have no idea what Scott used to capture his picture… apparently he shoots a mix of film and digital.

Thanks to Scott Baxter, Arizona Highways, and my wife’s thoughtful gesture, the inspiration for this recipe came quickly. It was one of the fastest recipes that I’ve ever created. Certainly it’s not for every person or every situation, but I’m sure for some of you in the right situations, you’ll appreciate the aesthetic that this “Arizona Analog” Film Simulation Recipe delivers. It’s compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras—I assume the new X-H2s, too, but I haven’t yet tested it on X-Trans V.

Eterna
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: -1
Shadow: +3
Color: -2
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpness: -2
Clarity: -3
Grain Effect: Strong, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Weak
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Weak
White Balance: Daylight, +6 Red & -3 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Arizona Analog” Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm X-E4:

Pavillion – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
The New West – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Curved Trellis – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Evening Flowers – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Flower Garden Blossoms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Real Bloom over Artificial Turf – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Trunk & Flowers – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Wall Flowers – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Fishhook Barrel Cactus Blossom – Mesa, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Rocky Hill Saguaro – Buckeye, AZ – Fujfilm X-E4
Desert Cholla – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Dusty Desert – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4

Find this film simulation recipes and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Creative Collective 025: FXW Zine — Issue 09 — August 2022

The ninth issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!

What’s in the August issue? The cover story is a visit to the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Arizona, captured with my Fujifilm X-E4. There are a total of 24 photographs this month, including the cover image (above). I hope that you find it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring!

If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first eight issues, too!

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Rediscovering Old Photos of Forgotten Americana — An Interview with Legendary Photographer Troy Paiva

Chinook With a Limp
Essex, CA, 2002
Photo by Troy Paiva

If you already know who Troy Paiva is and have seen his wonderful night photographs, then you are well aware of how important his work has been to the genres of light painting, urban exploration, and Americana photography. If you don’t know who Troy is… well, you will soon be initiated, and you can thank me later. “Every once in awhile an artist bursts forth with such a profound impact on a genre of art that it forever alters its course,” photographer Ken Lee stated in a Photofocus article. “Troy Paiva is one such artist.”

What Troy is most known for is nighttime light-painted photography of abandoned, forgotten, or neglected roadside Americana. He visits abandoned buildings and old junkyards and even airplane boneyards during full-moon darkness, capturing long-exposure images using artificial lights to add pops of color that aren’t naturally there. His striking pictures have been displayed in art galleries and museum exhibits, and printed in magazines and books, including a couple of Stephen King covers.

The Star in the Window
Rhyolite, NV, 1997
Photo by Troy Paiva

My introduction to Troy Paiva came through an unusual book: Weird Arizona. He was a contributor to it (plus some of the other books in that series), and it had a little Route 66 writeup by Troy that included a picture of an abandoned gas station with a strange red glow on the ceiling. Later, I found Troy on Flickr, and even corresponded with him briefly on the location of one of his photographs. I’ve been a big fan of his photography for over a decade; however, he’s been doing this whole light-painting thing since the late-1980’s, well before I stumbled across his fantastic images.

I interviewed Troy recently, and I’m very excited and honored to share it with you. This is a very important article, because I’m certain that many of you can relate to it—I know that I can! Perhaps, like me, you have piles of old slides and/or negatives stored in a box somewhere. Nobody ever sees those pictures. What do you do with them? They can’t be any good, can they? Are they worth the trouble to dig through and scan? Will anyone care about them if you do? Are they even worth keeping? What will eventually happen to them if you do nothing? Those are questions that Troy Paiva recently wrestled with, and I think his answers are both fascinating and inspiring.

Salton City Trailer
Salton Sea, CA, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: Troy, I love your photography—your pictures and your process! I noticed that you have been revisiting your old analog images lately—daytime photos from the late 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s. What made you dig out your old slides?

Troy: Earlier this year I bumped into a set of my images on Flickr—The Mojave Carhenge from 1992—that I had scanned ages ago. They looked bad, with low resolution and converted to B&W. I wanted to find those slides and rescan them, but I put it on the back burner. Later, I needed to re-up on the long-dormant software for my film scanner to do something for a friend, so I used that opportunity to finally dig out those slides—scanning and processing them using 2022 software and skills.

I was surprised by how my perception of those pictures had changed over the course of 30 years—how old and rare and cool the cars in it were. It was weirdly timeless, like it could have been shot in 1982 or even ’72. I put them on Facebook and I got a response that supported these feelings. I looked through a few more boxes of early ’90’s daytime slides—pictures that even I hadn’t seen since the early ’90’s—which seemed to generate the same level of surprise. It didn’t take me long to realize that I should keep going. 

Welcome to Nephi
Nephi, UT, 1996
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What camera gear did you use back then and what do you use now?

Troy: I’ve always shot with Canon cameras. In the early ’90’s it was a ’60’s vintage FX, an all-manual (broken) match-needle relic for night work, and A-1’s for metered shooting. I switched to the T90 in the late ’90’s—it was a great night shooting camera. I had several running different films. I used the FX forever, right up until 2004. Digitally, I went from the 20D to the 60D to the 6D. Once you night-shoot from a knee-high POV with a swivel screen, you never go back! All the film cameras were used—cheap. I’m pretty cavalier with equipment, and night photography has a way of wrecking and breaking your gear anyway.

In the ’90’s my lenses were constantly changing. All of them were purchased used, and lots of 3rd party junk. They’d fall apart, or get stuck on f/2.8 forever—especially the wide lenses from the early ’90’s, which were loose and wiggly in your hands and the focus fell off hard in the corners—and I’d buy another one for $25 at the flea market. All part of the character of the work: shooting junk with junk.

I used a mix of Ektachrome and Fujichrome, and a little Agfa, too. I would shoot with whatever slide film was on sale.

The Islands of Yucca
Interstate 40, AZ, 1996
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What drew you to your subjects back then?

Troy: A lot of the signage imagery stems from my MCM graphic design background. At the time I was working as a designer at Galoob Toys, making Micro Machine-sized gas stations and car washes. I was already obsessed with abandoned roadside long before I ever got to Galoob, and taking pictures of it—day or night—was a natural part of the headspace I occupied.

N’
Fresno, CA, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What is your process for digitalizing your slides? What challenges have you encountered?

Troy: I’ve had a Nikon IV ED film scanner since about 2001, which I’ve always used to scan my night work to put online. After moving into the digital era (in 2005), it sat largely unused. There was even a long period where it was unusable because Nikon stopped updating the software. Luckily, 3rd party software appeared at some point—I use the one from VueScan. The raw scans are not even close to right, but good enough to get them into Photoshop where I use MANY tools to make them presentable: masked sharpening/noise (grain) control, major HSB adjustments, white and black point shifts—the whole bit. Some also require perspective adjustment, cloning scratches out, creative cropping. Some mix down in a few minutes, some take a half hour to pull together.

The Yuma Cabana
Yuma, AZ, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What differentiates your daytime pictures from your night ones? What is surprising about it?

Troy: My daytime work was more about scouting locations to potentially come back and work later that night. Many of these subjects would have been impossible to do with my full moon technique because they’re bathed with sodium vapor streetlights. Or sometimes I’d get chased back to the car by dogs or some nut racking a shotgun. In many cases, the day shots are the only record.

The daytime work always took a back seat to my experimental night work, so I rarely showed it to anyone. It just sat in storage for 25, 30 years. Occasionally I’d pull some night work for a fresh scan, completely ignoring the daytime work. Why? I wish there was some smart-sounding “I was consciously playing the long game” answer, but, apparently, I was playing it unconsciously.

It’s a part of my photography that longtime followers of my night work have never seen. It mirrors it in many ways, yet doesn’t fall into the trap of having the “light-painted night” aspect take over what the picture is about. They are just “normal” pictures of things, and that makes them easier to conceptually digest.

Also, I’m still scanning. There’s a lot I haven’t even looked at yet. I am intentionally not going through everything at once. I grab a few boxes, or all the work from one trip—cull, scan, and process. Only then do I look at the next few rolls. The picture of my slides (below) isn’t even all of it—there are about 10 carousels full, too. A lot of it is personal things of no interest to anyone but me. Several boxes have nothing worth scanning, but some… every slide gets an “Oh, wow!” when I put it on the light box for the first time.

Troy’s old film slides, mostly from the 1990’s.

FXW: What did you discover through this project?

Troy: I discovered a body of work that almost feels like someone else shot it! Sometimes memories come flooding back as I look through them; for others, it’s, “Where was that again?”

My MO was to specifically shoot the once-loved things that looked like they were on their way out. Most of it was abandoned and heavily weathered, steeped in Wabi-Sabi feelings of accepting loss and finding beauty and nobility in decay. It turns out that my hit rate was good: it seems like 90% of these subjects are now irrevocably changed or just gone. I perform Google searches on most of the sites—looking for them on street view, images, etc.—and in many cases, there doesn’t appear to be any other “intentional” pictures of them made before they disappeared. I’ve run across a couple of motel signs where the only other picture that I could find is in the John Margolies collection in the Library of Congress. It seems like everybody shoots this kind of stuff now, but in the early ‘90s, it was rare and—frankly—kinda weird. 

I haven’t parsed out what any of it means. I’m still in the middle of the scanning project, so I’m not ready to sit back and figure out what to do with it yet, except share some of it online and get it seen.

Mom’s Motel
Fresno, CA, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: How important is it to revisit your old pictures?

Troy: Once I started to see how much of this rare imagery I had, I began to think of Vivian Maier and Charles Phoenix. Imagine finding this motherlode of daytime and weird night photography of the long lost American roadside in a dumpster behind a Salvation Army! If I didn’t scan and share it, someday when I die that mountain of boxed slides would either end up in the dump, or a thrift store to be found and exploited and re-contextualized by someone else. The 99.9% reality is that it would most likely end up in a landfill, never to be seen by anyone. Once I realized what I was sitting on, I didn’t want any of that to happen.

Time has a way of making ALL pictures better. They’re a record of a moment in time. That moment often seems inconsequential when it happens, but someday you may not be able to experience anything like that moment again because the place or people are gone, and the picture suddenly takes on different meanings that were hidden before. Ever notice when you look at really old magazines you tend to gloss over the articles and spend most of your time looking at the advertisements? The things we don’t think are important or historic now have a tendency to be the ones that end up being more interesting later.

Liquor For Health
Yuma, AZ, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

I want to give a very big thanks to Troy Paiva for taking time out of his busy day to allow me to interview him and publish his words and photographs on Fuji X Weekly. Thank you, Troy! Many of these pictures have been shared on his social media pages, but a couple of them have never been published before, and you’re the very first (aside from Troy and now myself) to see them! To say that I feel honored is such an understatement.

My hope is that this article has encouraged you to take another look at the pictures you captured years and years ago. Maybe they have a different meaning today than the last time you saw them. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to do your own project similar to Troy’s. It could be time to dust off that old scanner, or even buy a new one. I think this article also illustrates that the photography you’re doing right now is important, even if it doesn’t seem so at the moment. Keep at it, and in time you’ll see the significance of the pictures you captured today.

Please visit Troy Paiva’s website: LostAmerica.com. Find him on Facebook and Instagram. Buy his six books on Amazon: Lost America, Light Painted Night Photography: The Lost America Technique, Night Vision, Boneyard, Night Salvage, and Junkyard Nights (seriously, pick up one or more of those books—you’ll be glad that you did!).

More of Troy Paiva’s daytime photography:

Have a Cuppa Kofa at Ern’s
Parker, AZ 1994
Photo by Troy Paiva
Silver State Bowl
Hawthorne, NV, 1994
Photo by Troy Paiva
The Smelly Mirror
Bombay Beach, CA, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva
Barstow Texaco
Interstate 15, CA, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva
Virgies West
Gallup, NM, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva
The Squirt Fade
White Sands NP, NM, 1991
Photo by Troy Paiva
The Pigeon
Convair 880, Mojave, CA, 1991
Photo by Troy Paiva
MMM, Diesel
Interstate 15, CA, 1990
Photo by Troy Praiva
The Astro Burger 
Kramer Junction, CA, 1990
Photo by Troy Paiva
Truxton Garage
Route 66, AZ, 1989
Photo by Troy Paiva
Yard Sale 
Monument Valley, AZ, 1989
Photo by Troy Paiva

All photographs © Troy Paiva

Six Photographs… Plus SOOC will be LIVE in Two Weeks!

The next SOOC episode will be live in two weeks, on August 11! Join Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and myself as we finish our discussion of the Fujicolor Pro 400H Film Simulation Recipe and introduce the next recipe-of-the-month: Vintage Agfacolor. Be sure to mark your calendars now! Also, don’t forget to upload your photographs captured with the Fujicolor Pro 400H recipe (click here) by August 9th to be included in the next broadcast.

Among all of the other recipes that I’ve been shooting with (and creating), I also shoot with the recipes that we feature in the show. I don’t just ask you to use them—I use them, too, as does Nathalie (← seriously, click that link). You can find six of my pictures below, three captured with Fujicolor Pro 400H and three with Vintage Agfacolor. Enjoy!

Pink Bougainvillea – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Pro 400H”
Flower in the Garden – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Pro 400H”
Cactus Fruit in Evening Light – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Pro 400H”
Vintage Blue – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1 – “Vintage Agfacolor”
Bird on a Branch – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1 – “Vintage Agfacolor”
Saguaro Desert – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1 – “Vintage Agfacolor”

If you missed the last episode of SOOC, I’ve included it below. Underneath that, you’ll find the viewer-submitted images video from that broadcast.

Fujifilm X-Trans I Film Simulation Recipe: Faux Classic Chrome

Bougainvillea Color – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Faux Classic Chrome”

A little over two years ago I figured out how to replicate default Classic Chrome using the PRO Neg. Std film simulation. I published my findings in a blog post, to hopefully be helpful to those with cameras which don’t have the Classic Chrome film simulations, such as the X-Pro1, X-E1, X100, and X100S. I didn’t make this an official Film Simulation Recipe because it was just emulating Classic Chrome without adjustments (other than Noise Reduction), which I didn’t think was especially exciting; however, I recently found out that this recipe is being used and there’s a desire for it to be included in the Fuji X Weekly App. I’m simply turning those two-year-old settings into an official Fuji X Weekly Film Simulation Recipe.

If you want a recipe that resembles Classic Chrome with DR100, Highlight 0, Shadow 0, Color 0, Sharpness 0, and AWB (without a shift), this recipe is a good facsimile of that. It’s not possible to 100% faithfully mimic Classic Chrome without Classic Chrome, but these settings are pretty close, and as close as you’re likely going to get.

Laughing at a Joke – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Faux Classic Chrome”

I created these settings on an X-Trans II camera, but all of these images were captured on my Fujifilm X-Pro1. If you have an X-Trans I or X-Trans II sensor that doesn’t have Classic Chrome but does have PRO Neg. Std, you can use this recipe to approximate default Classic Chrome. The results are pretty decent; it’s a solid all-around recipe that’s good for a variety of subjects and situations.

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +1 (Medium-Hard)
Shadow: +1 (Medium-Hard)
Color: +1 (Medium-High)
Sharpness: 0 (Standard)
Noise Reduction: -2 (Low)
White Balance: Auto, 0 Red & -1 Blue

ISO: Auto, up to ISO 3200
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +1/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Faux Classic Chrome” Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm X-Pro1:

Midday Palm – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Building, Clouds – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Mostly Sunny Bougainvillea – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Garden Trumpets – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Reaching Garden – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Pergola Roof Design – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Pop of Pink – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Hiding Blooms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Scraggly Bloom – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1
Josh Looking at Something – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-Pro1

Find this film simulation recipes and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Creative Collective 024: Going Long

Fujifilm X-H1 + Fujinon 100-400mm @400mm + “Acros Push Process

I recently visited a vista in Arizona that overlooks The Valley of the Sun, which is the nickname given to the Phoenix metropolitan area (beginning back in the 1930’s); the official name is The Salt River Valley. I brought along my Fujifilm X-H1, plus my Fujinon 90mm f/2, Vivitar 135mm f/2.8, and Fujinon 100-400mm lenses. Programmed into the X-H1 was my Acros Push Process Film Simulation Recipe. I thought it would be interesting to use these longer lenses to capture the views of the vast valley, plus the desert bluff behind me—never forget to check behind you when photographing, because it can be easy to miss something great when you’re not focused on it.

When I was a kid, my friends and I often played “catch” with a football. Sometimes whoever the quarterback was would shout, “Go long!” You’d run as fast as you could for a good distance, turn around to see the ball wizzing through the air—maybe you’d catch it and it would be amazing, maybe you ran too far or not far enough and the ball hit the ground.

Let’s see what happens when you “go long” with your lenses.

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Fujifilm X-Trans III + X-T3 & X-T30 Film Simulation Recipe: Ektachrome E100GX

Pink Rose Blossom – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

I wanted to make another recipe that uses the Fluorescent 2 (or “warm white fluorescent”) white balance. Why? Because this is a very underutilized and under appreciated option. I have only four other recipes that use it—Provia 400, Fujicolor Super HG, Super HG Astia, and Fujichrome Sensia 100—and those are all very good recipes. I didn’t have any specific film in mind when I made this, I was simply attempting something that looked good.

After shooting with it awhile, and looking at the pictures, the results looked familiar, but I couldn’t put a finger on it. I started digging through my old pictures, and wasn’t finding anything. Then I stumbled on a few Kodak Ektachrome E100GX frames, and the results were similar.

Ektachrome E100GX was a color transparency film made by Kodak from 2001-2009, and is what replaced E100SW. It was known for vibrant saturation, a warm color cast, and fine grain. It wasn’t quite as warm, vibrant, or sharp as E100SW, but overall very similar, yet with finer grain. Some people thought it was better than E100SW, some people thought it was worse. I liked E100SW a bit better, but E100GX was still a good film, particularly if you wanted something warm, colorful, and contrasty, but not overly so.

Intelligent Children – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Ektachrome E100GX”

This recipe is compatible with Fujifilm X-Trans III, X-T3 and X-T30 cameras. For those with newer X-Trans IV cameras, to use this recipe simply set Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, Clarity to 0, and Grain size to Small.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -2
Shadow: +2
Color: +4
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpness: -2
Grain Effect: Weak
Color Chrome Effect: Off/NA
White Balance: Fluorescent 2, -1 Red & -6 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400

Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +1

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Ektachrome E100GX” film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujifilm X-H1 cameras:

Yellow Glow of Iowa – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Sunlight Reflected on Window – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Dark Red Tree & Partly Cloudy Sky – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Dead Leaves in a Dry Drinking Fountain – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Small Waterfall – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Forest Graffiti – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Growing Out of the Side – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Two Boys Going Down a Trail – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Autumn Trunks – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Ektachrome E100GX”
Backlit Yellow Leaf – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Rose in the Garden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Bright Bloom – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 –
Rose Clump – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Wagon Duty – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Pines in Autumn – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Reflection in the River – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Left – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30
Warm Pink Blooms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Bougainvillea Pink – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Little Orange Flowers – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1

Find this Film Simulation Recipe and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly App!

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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New Fujifilm X-Trans III (+X-T3 & X-T30) Film Simulation Recipe: Xpro

Suburban Abstract – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1 – “Xpro”

The Fuji X Weekly App is free, yet becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron unlocks the best App experience! One benefit of being a Patron is you get early access to some new Film Simulation Recipes. These Early-Access Recipes will eventually become available free to everyone in time, including this new one. In fact, many Early-Access Recipes have already been publicly published on this Blog and the App, so now everyone can use them. Patrons help support Fuji X Weekly and, really, without them there would be no App. So I want to give a special “thank you” to all of the Patrons!

This “Xpro” Film Simulation Recipe came about after some experiments with white balance and shifts. It went through several iterations before I settled on these settings. The results remind me of cross-processed Fujichrome Sensia or perhaps Elite Chrome. Cross processing film (also called Xpro) is developing it in chemistry that it wasn’t intended to be developed in, most commonly color slide film (E6) in color negative film (C41) chemistry. Different films can give different results. I have several other cross-process inspired Film Simulation Recipes (here, here, here, and here); this one is simply a little different aesthetic.

Storm – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1 – “Xpro”

If you are a Fuji X Weekly App Patron, this “Xpro” Film Simulation Recipe is available to you right now on the App! Don’t have the App? Download it for free today! Become a Patron to unlock the best App experience and gain early access to this and other recipes.

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Xpro” Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X-H1:

Cactus Hotels – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Barrel Cactus – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Secret Garden Gate – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Don’t, This Way – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Light Bulb – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Closed Window – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Pigeon Pipe – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Pergola in the Rain – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Arizona Architecture – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Hanging Blossoms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Dark Flowers – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1
Light Pink with Green – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-H1

Someone Tried to Scam Me — And Maybe You, Too

Someone attempted to scam me. Maybe they attempted to scam you, too.

It all started after I commented on pal2tech‘s video about Fujifilm’s firmware updates. I received what initially appeared to be a reply from Chris (the guy behind pal2tech) that I had won something. While I was excited for a moment, red flags and warning alarms quickly filled my brain.

The reply wasn’t from pal2tech, but from a channel called “Text me on Telegram →@Pal2tech” that had Chris’ picture on it. I quickly spotted several red flags. First, pal2tech did not mention any sort of giveaway in his videos. I searched for it and couldn’t find any. Nobody’s going to spontaneously give something away without previously announcing some sort of giveaway. Second, even if there was a giveaway, it’s highly unlikely that this is the method that anyone reputable would use to notify you. Chris wouldn’t create a new YouTube channel to inform you to text him on Telegram. The writing—the way it’s worded and the emojis—don’t sound very pal2tech-like to me. Third, the Telegram account is called “Pal2tech” but his channel is called “pal2tech” (the “p” isn’t capitalized… a small detail, but notable). All of these things pointed to a scammer who was pretending to be Chris in order to prey on his audience.

I emailed Chris and reached out to him on Instagram to inform him of this scammer, in case he wasn’t aware. I then did the unthinkable and engaged the scammer on Telegram.

On the fake Pal2tech Telegram account, I said, “Hi! I received a message that I might have won a prize.” Within a minute I received a reply, “Congratulations you were randomly selected as a winner” (no punctuation, which was another red flag).

“What did I win?” I asked.

“You won a Sony A7 IV a hoddie and two custom stickers” was the response. The red flags were a misspelled word, more lack of punctuation, and the fact that Chris would most likely give away Fujifilm gear and not Sony gear.

“Awesome!” I replied. “I hate to be cynical, but I need to verify that this is actually pal2tech.”

“Sure,” the scammer said, “I understand not everyone on the internet is honest but this is real and you can trust me”

So I asked a question that Chris would easily know. “What was Tip 10 for preventing burnout?” This question came from his 10 Tips to Prevent Burnout video. I figured the scammer could find the answer, but not quickly, and this would keep him busy for awhile. I had a second question in mind once this one was answered.

About five minutes passed before I got this message: “please give me your name and address”

I replied, “Not until you answer my question so that I can know you are actually pal2tech.”

“look,” the scammer said, obviously getting impatient with me, “if you want the prize i will send it right away and if not i will find someone else stop wasting my time”

This is when I told the scammer that I knew he wasn’t pal2tech, that he should be ashamed of his actions, and he should stop trying to steal people’s money.

I never got a reply. Instead the conversation was deleted. I was going to screenshot it, but it was completely gone. I suppose this is why they use Telegram: they can delete the evidence. The only thing left was this:

Originally, where it says “PO” in the circle at the top, was Chris’ photo, but after calling him out, the photo was removed.

I did get a response from Chris. He also posted a video about this scammer, which you can find below.

Unfortunately, people got scammed. Apparently the scammer asks for shipping-and-handling fees, and nothing (obviously) is ever shipped. It’s frustrating for those (like pal2tech) whose channel is bombarded by this spam—Chris told me that about 400 people have received a comment from the scammer similar to the one that I got. I don’t know how many went to Telegram and contacted the scammers, and how many were scammed, but apparently enough that it continues to happen. Chris posted a video back in January warning his viewers of this scam. I feel bad for those who got scammed, but they had to ignore many warnings that should have made them pause and reconsider.

You can prevent yourself from being scammed. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Look for red flags, because you’ll certainly find several if it isn’t legit. Don’t be afraid to triple verify that something is true—even if it seems on the up-and-up, it’s better to be 100% sure before giving away any of your personal information and especially your money.

I hope that I was able to occupy the attention of the scammer long enough to maybe prevent someone else from being scammed. Probably not. I hope that calling him out would make him stop picking on pal2tech’s audience. Probably not. At the very least I hope this article will bring some awareness to the scam so that maybe you won’t be caught in this trap. Knowing is half the battle (as G.I. Joe used to say), so now you know. Please let others know, too, so they won’t be scammed, either.

New Recipes for Ricoh GR!

Captured with the new Vibrant Teal recipe for Ricoh GR III

Ricoh GR owners rejoice! I just published a new Recipe Collection, called The California Negative Collection, for the Ricoh GR III and Ricoh GR IIIx cameras! Find it at Ritchie’s Ricoh Recipes, and on the Ricoh Recipes App!

Also, the Ricoh Recipes App received an update, which fixed some bugs and added the ability to search for recipes by name. If you have the App, be sure to update it manually if your phone didn’t do so automatically.

Have a Ricoh GR camera? Download the Ricoh Recipes App today!

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Ricoh GR III — AmazonB&H
Ricoh GR IIIx — AmazonB&H

Instagram is Dying — For Photographers

Instagram is a dying platform for photographers.

Still shocking to me, I’ve gotten a lot of followers on the Fuji X Weekly Instagram account over the last two years: over 25K right now! I topped 10K followers on May 11, 2021, and 25K on July 9, 2022—it has grown 150% in roughly 14 months. That’s amazing, and all thanks goes to you! I never thought that was possible.

When I reached 10K followers I signed up for a business account. While it certainly has its benefits, it also has one huge negative: Instagram wants me to pay them money to show you, my followers, my posts. They purposefully hide your content from your own followers—if someone seeks it out they will find it, but it won’t show up in their feed—unless you pay Instagram a fee. My engagement dropped in half the instant I signed up for the business account. You might think that engagement—likes, comments, shares, etc.—would have grown at the same rate as the followers, but not so. The average post at 25K has a similar engagement as a post at 10K prior to signing up for a business account. While my followers have increased by 150%, my engagement has only increased by 100%—back to where it was before Instagram cut it in half.

Instagram is a great place to feed your envy. There are people whose pictures suck that have 100K or more followers and are basically earning an income from Instagram. There are people who capture amazing pictures who have less than two hundred followers. I’ve seen both of those circumstances personally, and maybe you have, too. Now I’m not the world’s greatest photographer by any means. I see many, many photographers who are more talented than I who have fewer followers, and I also see the opposite, too. Nobody’s self-worth should come from Instagram, and the followers and engagement (or lack of it) don’t actually mean anything. Unfortunately, it’s more of a popularity contest than anything else; however, Instagram is a good way to connect with others across the world.

Once upon a time Instagram was the place to see wonderful photographs. You could find a lot of inspiration. It still is, but less so now. Why? Instagram (which is owned by Facebook/Meta) recently claimed that engagement in still photographs is down nearly 50% over the last two years, so that’s why they’re focusing on video. I call B.S. on this.

I know two things: Instagram will hide your content if they want to, and Instagram (Meta, actually) doesn’t like competition. Whenever a new social media app comes along that Meta perceives as a threat, they buy it; if they can’t buy it, they make their own version of it to incorporate into their own apps. Right now that competition is TikTok, and since Meta can’t buy it (I’m sure they tried at one point), they’re becoming “TikTok” in order to win—at the expense of you, the photographer.

I believe that Instagram has put into place algorithms to suppress still photography and simultaneously push video content (Reels, as they call it). Then they say that still photography is dying and video is booming, so they need to be video-centric. They’re paying people money to publish videos. I’m not a video guy myself, but by far my most popular post on Instagram is a Reel, with triple the engagement of my most popular still-photography post. Is it because you all are more interested videos, or because Instagram wants you to be more interested in video? In my opinion they’re trying to transform their app into TikTok, which means that photography needs to take a back seat.

You can still be successful on Instagram as a photographer. Since Instagram is pushing Reels so hard, you might consider using those to show your pictures (instead of a traditional post, or in addition to it). I’m personally not a fan of what Instagram is becoming, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. A lot of people have discovered my Film Simulation Recipes through Instagram. I’ve made a lot of connections (I get about 50 DMs on IG each day!), and even made some friends. There are definitely still some positives.

I do think the time is ripe for an Instagram-alternative for photographers. I know that many have tried, and no one has really succeeded. I don’t know what its unique shtick should be, but there has to be something that sets it apart. Money is obviously an obstacle, because everyone wants a free app, but an app like that would be expensive to produce and maintain. I don’t have the solution, but I do know that an opportunity exists right now for someone who thinks that they might have the solution.

Now it’s your turn! Do you like or dislike how Instagram is evolving? Would you try an Instagram alternative if there was a good one? Is there a current app that you prefer to Instagram and why? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to check out my Apps!

Creative Collective 023: Comparing Kodak Color Recipes

Great American Fish – Morro Bay, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”

I thought it would be interesting to compare Kodak-inspired Film Simulation Recipes on my Fujifilm X-E4. So I pulled out my phone, opened the Fuji X Weekly App, and selected Filter by Sensor (choosing both X-Trans III & X-Trans IV) and Filter by Color. Then I used the Search feature to find all of the recipes with “Koda” in the name—I didn’t search for “Kodak” because Kodachrome would have been excluded. The App displayed 36 recipes. Some recipes, like Reggie’s Portra, Old Ektachrome, and Elite Chrome 200, didn’t show up because “Koda” isn’t found anywhere in the recipe title, despite the Kodak-inspired aesthetic, so I had to search those out separately. Then I reprocessed an exposure (captured in Morro Bay, California) on my X-E4 with all of these recipes.

Let’s take a look at how these 41 Kodak-inspired Film Simulation Recipes compare to each other!

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Fujifilm X-E4 (X-Trans IV) Film Simulation Recipe: Pure Negative

Gold Coast – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Pure Negative”

This “Pure Negative” Film Simulation Recipe was created by Thomas Schwab, who has made several recipes published on this website, including Superia Xtra 400Fujicolor NPS 160 Pulled, Urban Vintage ChromeKodachrome IIKodak Portra 800 v2Kodak Brilliance, Classic MonochromeB&W Superia, and Monochrome Kodachrome. Thomas has also collaborated on other recipes, playing an important role in getting them right, including Kodak Portra 800Kodak Ektar 100Kodachrome 1Kodak Portra 400, and Kodak T-Max 400. I’m sure I’ve missed a few, and for that I apologize.

Thomas told me that this “Pure Negative” recipe is basically a modification of his X-Trans I Kodachrome II recipe for use on X-Trans IV cameras. Because X-Trans I doesn’t have Classic Chrome, Thomas used the PRO Neg. Std film simulation to emulate a Kodachrome aesthetic as best as possible, and his recipe does a good job of that for the X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras. There are already several excellent Kodachrome options for X-Trans IV; this recipe isn’t intended to replicate Kodachrome, but instead produce good natural-looking results—perhaps there is a little unintentional Kodachrome 25 resemblance, too. Thank you, Thomas, for creating this recipe and allowing me to share it on Fuji X Weekly!

Cactus Scar – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Pure Negative”

This Film Simulation Recipe is a great general-purpose option. It’s very versatile, delivering excellent results in a variety of situations. The only modification that I made to Thomas’ recipe is Dynamic Range: he prefers DR-Auto, but I set it to DR200. That’s not a big change, as DR-Auto chooses DR200 whenever there is bright highlights in the frame. Select whichever you prefer—either DR-Auto or DR200 is fine. For the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30 cameras, ignore Grain size and use a 5% CineBloom in lieu of Clarity (or just ignore Clarity)—the results will be similar. For X-Trans III, you’ll additionally have to ignore Color Chrome Effect, since your camera doesn’t have it. This recipe should be fully compatible with the new X-H2s, although I have not tested it to know for certain.

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +1
Shadow: +2
Color: -4
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpness: +1
Clarity: -2
Grain Effect: Weak, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Weak
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Off
White Balance: Auto, +1 Red & -2 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +1/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Pure Negative” Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm X-E4:

Bougainvillea Branch – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
One Blossom Remains – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Prickly Pear – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Arching Palms – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Veiled Wasatch – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Pismo – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Brad’s – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Turbulent Waters – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Wave Rider – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Surfer – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Standing on Water – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4
Golden Ocean – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X-E4

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm X-E4 Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver   Amazon   B&H

Find this film simulation recipes and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

The Disappearing Entry-Level Camera

Fujifilm X-T200 — Fujifilm’s last entry-level camera?

I commonly get asked advice on camera gear. Most often it is which Fujifilm camera to buy, usually by someone who is trying to get into the system—either as a first “serious” camera or switching brands, typically because they want to try Film Simulation Recipes; however, I occasionally I get asked by someone (that knows that I’m “into photography”) who is looking for an entry-level camera for themselves or their teenage kid. If it’s for themselves, it’s because Johnny’s 5th birthday is coming and they want better pictures, or they’re about to take that epic vacation they’ve been saving up for and want to capture the memories. If it’s for their child, it’s because their kid has shown some interest in photography and they want to foster that. Either way, the basic entry-level model is what’s needed.

Whenever I ask about budgets, I usually hear something like, “Under $300.” Sometimes $500 is the upper limit. I’ve been told $150 before. Almost never is it $1,000. In the past the advice I gave was to buy a used entry-level DSLR, like the Nikon D3200, for example, which could often be found somewhere close to the budget—super easy for the novice, yet advanced enough that a budding photographer could learn on it. Later, I would suggest something like the Fujifilm X-T100 or X-A5, which were affordable mirrorless options (and, of course, Fujifilm). Nowadays it’s harder to make a recommendation because the entry-level camera is basically gone.

Those who are “serious” tend to know that they have to spend more to get a quality camera. Much of the time you get what you pay for; however, sometimes these entry-level models were surprisingly good—I was impressed by the image quality of the Fujifilm X-T200, for example. Those who are after quality will typically skip the entry-level and go for a mid-tier option or higher. Those who want a cheap introduction will be satisfied with a low-budget camera. A lot of people—mostly those who would never consider themselves a “real photographer”—used to buy these cheap cameras in droves, but now they don’t.

Hidden Church – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T200 – “Golden Negative

The reason they don’t is largely because of the cellphone. The camera technology on your phone is beyond good enough for most people and purposes, and it keeps getting more and more impressive. You don’t need a bulky, inconvenient, complicated, and expensive DSLR to capture Johnny’s 5th birthday. You don’t need an interchangeable-lens camera to photograph that epic vacation. Your phone is more than capable of delivering stunning pictures that can be instantly shared. Yes, you could spend a grand on a camera and lens, you could lug it around, you could take classes or watch videos on how to use it since it’s all so confusing, and you could download a bulky photo editing program onto your computer—or just pull out your phone and let its smart technology handle it all for you with just one tap.

It wasn’t long ago that the cellphone killed the pocket point-and-shoot. Now it’s also killed entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras. While I think cellphone camera technology can be (and could continue to become) appealing to “serious” photographers, I don’t think it will have a big impact on higher-end cameras. The market is shrinking from the bottom up—not the top down. If anything, there is an increased demand for mid and high end models. But the lucrative point-and-shoot and entry-level markets are pretty much all dried up.

What does this mean? There are several things. First, those hoping to find a cheap camera will have to get an older model, because less and less are new ones being made. I definitely don’t mind using “old” gear, but others don’t always feel the same—five-year-old tech is practically obsolete and 10-year old definitely is (in some people’s opinions, not mine). Fujifilm’s last entry-level cameras—the X-A7 and X-T200—were discontinued shortly after their release, due to sluggish sales. Right now the mid-tier X-E4 is their lowest-level model, and it is certainly not a “low-end” camera. Other brands have been discontinuing their entry-level options, too. If you want a “real” camera, you’ll need to get a “serious” camera; otherwise, stick with your cellphone.

iPhone 11 with Moment 58mm lens

I think the affect on those with a budding interest in photography will be profound. Either you will learn on a cellphone (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), or you’ll pony-up for a mirrorless—those who cannot afford the mirrorless model either won’t have their interest fostered and it will fade, or will learn photography differently—good, bad, or indifferent, this will shape the future of photography in some way. Change always has some impact on the future, but we won’t know exactly what it is until we get there.

Another impact that the disappearing entry-level will have on the camera industry is that money must be made somewhere. Camera companies have to make up for the lost revenue. While the trend in tech is that things become cheaper over time, I think we’re already seeing that the top-end is not getting cheaper. It won’t just affect the top, but that is what’s most affected currently it seems; I suspect that it will have an impact across all brands and all tiers to varying degrees. Fujifilm is lucky because their Instax line is still extremely popular and profitable.

The flip side of the coin is that the cellphone camera market is (and has been) booming. Whether it is Apple or Android, the camera capabilities of your device likely had a significant impact on your decision to buy. How many lenses does it have? How much resolution? What kind of computational tricks can it do? The more people spend on cellphones, the more the technology marches forward, and the better the cameras become. It’s really quite amazing what the little telephone/computer/camera in your pocket can do!

Photo by Amanda Roesch using the RitchieCam App on an iPhone 13

Obviously those advancements mean opportunities. I took the opportunity to create the RitchieCam App to bring simplified and intuitive one-step photography to your iPhone. My wife took the opportunity to do some underwater photography—something that she wouldn’t have done with an interchangeable-lens camera, but her iPhone 13 handled it swimmingly well. What that opportunity is for you depends on you—there is an opportunity for certain, you just have to find it and make it happen.

Yes, the entry-level camera is disappearing, and will soon be gone. Much like CDs, Blockbuster, and one-hour photo labs, cheap interchangeable-lens cameras are a thing of the past. It will have an impact on photography, but whether that’s positive or negative depends on your perspective. And I do think there are both positives and negatives. Certainly camera manufacturers have been concerned for some time—if there’s a lesson to be learned, perhaps it’s to do more to bring the mobile photography tech advancements to “real” cameras, too. Those wanting a bottom-end camera are seeing their options disappear. Those hoping cameras will become cheaper as they become better will likely be disappointed, at least for a time. That might look bleak, but I also believe that photography has become more accessible.

How has photography become more accessible if it isn’t becoming more affordable? The phone-in-your-pocket is only getting better, and is being taken more seriously. There’s a reason why the pocket point-and-shoot and entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras have succumbed to it. Many more people have access to a decent camera, and the pictures are easily shared across the world—more pictures are being captured now than ever before, and that’s a huge understatement!

Captured with a Fujifilm X-E4 using the Fujicolor Natura 1600 recipe.

Fujifilm cameras have made post-processing unnecessary. I don’t know how many of you truly understand the impact of this—I have a front-row seat, and I’m just beginning to grasp the magnitude of it. Learning Lightroom and Photoshop have been a prerequisite barrier to becoming a “serious photographer” for years; however, not everyone in the world has access to photo-editing programs, not everyone has a desire (or the time) to learn them, and not everyone enjoys sitting at a computer for hours (or has the time). A lot of people have been on the outside looking in, but now they don’t have to be because the barrier has been removed (thanks to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes). For others, it’s just a fun way to do photography, and has made the process of creating pictures more enjoyable.

Some who are just learning photography, who’ve maybe only used their cellphones previously, are buying Fujifilm cameras and using recipes and getting good results out-of-the-gate; if they had to edit their pictures, they would still be stuck on the software—they’d be making less progress and having less fun. Some who are experienced pros and have been in the business awhile have found that using recipes on Fujifilm cameras has simplified their workflow and made them more productive, while not sacrificing quality delivered to the client (true story I’ve heard several times).

Camera makers don’t like seeing a previously profitable market segment disappear, and that makes them worry about the future. Those wanting to buy a low-budget camera are finding it harder and harder to find. Things are shifting and changing within the photography and camera world. Yet, whether you just want some decent snaps of Johnny’s birthday or are just starting out in photography or are a seasoned pro—or anywhere in-between—there are great opportunities for you right now. The obstacles in your path have never been smaller.

Download the RitchieCam App for iPhone here.
Download the Fuji X Weekly App for iPhone here, and Android here.
Also, check out Ritchie’s Ricoh Recipes! Oh, and there are now recipes for Nikon Z, too.