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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Weathering Thunderstorms

Last night’s storm as captured with my Fujifilm X-E4.

Arizona gets summer thunderstorms. If you are not from this region you might be surprised to learn that on average one-in-five days are rainy in Phoenix during the months of July and August. The thunderstorms come suddenly and can be intense. Flash flooding is common in the desert. They call this Monsoon, which roughly translates to stormy season or perhaps more simply weather or season, depending on who you ask.

One of these Monsoon thunderstorms hit the house hard last night. The wind was strong, the rain was pouring, and the streets turned into streams. Things toppled over in the yard. Branches broke off of trees. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed. It was kind of scary for a few moments.

I snapped a high-ISO image of the mayhem from safely inside the house. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens, which isn’t the greatest low-light combo, so I used a window frame to help stabilize the camera for the 1/5 second exposure. I had my Nostalgic Print Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera; however, after the fact I thought it would look better in black-and-white, so I reprocessed the RAW file in-camera to the Kodak Tri-X 400 recipe.

I photographed this still-wet blossom today with my X-E4 and Fujicolor Pro 400H recipe.

I went to bed while the storm was still raging, but when I awoke this morning all was calm. It was a peaceful morning. The sun was shining. The wind was still. Birds were chirping. Everything seemed normal, except for what needed to be cleaned up—a task that didn’t take long—and I was able to enjoy the moment while sipping a cup of coffee.

This made me think of life. Sometimes the metaphoric storms rage, and it can be kind of scary. But once these storms-of-life pass—and they will pass—we can enjoy a moment of peace. The sun will shine again. The flowers will bloom. I think it’s important to take in the calm that comes after the storm. It’s inevitable that more storms will come; perhaps they’re easier to weather when we can remember the calm that comes after. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Yeah, you might have some junk to clean up, but then take a moment to appreciate the peaceful morning.

Storm brewing behind a Palo Verde in 2019, captured with a Fujifilm X-T30 and Velvia recipe.

This article doesn’t have much to do with photography, but I hope that it is encouraging to some of you nonetheless. If there is a way to make this more photography-related, it is this: no matter if it is stormy in your life or a peaceful morning, get your camera and capture pictures. Expressing yourself through your images can be therapeutic, and there are many valuable lessons that could be learned.

Even though they can be scary, Monsoon thunderstorms are necessary for life in Arizona. They provide much-needed water to a parched land. They produce cooler temperatures on scorching days. The land becomes more lush and green in its wake. Similarly, your personal storms-of-life, although they’re awful to experience, can make you stronger and better, and perhaps are what will propel you forward to whatever is waiting for you tomorrow.

Video: Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly (500th Post!)

Follow along with me as I photograph Monument Valley! The video above, Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly, is a behind-the-scenes look at my photographic adventure to the incredible desert formations of southern Utah and northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation. It was a thrill to experience Monument Valley. It really is an amazing place!

This was my last trip before the worldwide pandemic shut down all of my travel plans. So far I’ve had to cancel two trips, and there’s likely one or two more that won’t happen. I hope that this video will bring you some joy. I hope that it reminds you of some recent travels that you’ve done. I hope that it inspires you to dream of where you’ll go and what you’ll photograph when you can once again go places.

My wife, Amanda, and I created this video. Actually, she did the majority of the work. Amanda recorded the clips. She did all of the editing. She coached me through the narration. I have a face for radio and a voice for print, yet somehow she made the video look great! Her vision, her storytelling, and her talents are what made this happen. Thank you, Amanda!

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Evening at Monument Valley – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm

The photographs in the video were captured using a Fujifilm X-T30 and X-T1. I used four different lenses: a Fujinon 100-400mm, Fujinon 90mm f/2, Fujinon 35mm f/2 and Rokinon 12mm f/2. Amanda recorded the video using a Fujifilm X-T20 with a 16-50mm lens and a GoPro Hero 8 Black. The film simulation recipes used on the X-T30 were Velvia, Kodachrome 64, Analog Color, Dramatic Monochrome and Agfa Scala, and Velvia and Monochrome were used on the X-T1. Amanda used PRO Neg. Hi on the X-T20.

This article marks a significant milestone that I wanted to point out to you. This is the 500th post on Fuji X Weekly! Many blogs never make it to 500 posts, either because they publish too infrequently or they simply give up before it’s reached. What it means for you is that there’s a lot of content on this blog! If you haven’t been following Fuji X Weekly since the beginning, there are a ton of articles that you might have missed. There are perhaps many posts that could be helpful to you and your photography that you’ve never seen. I invite you to explore the older articles. The best way to do this is click the four lines on the top-right of this page, and either search a topic or browse the archive. Anyway, thank you for being a part of Fuji X Weekly! Without you, the 500 Posts milestone would not have been reached. You are appreciated!

Be sure to follow Fuji X Weekly, so that you don’t miss anything! I invite you to follow the Fuji X Weekly YouTube channel, as well. If you liked the Monument Valley video, I invite you to give it a thumbs-up, comment and share!

See also: Monument Valley – A Monumental Landscape

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Photoessay: November Arizona, Part 2: Monochrome

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North Mountain Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Part 1: Color

Many years ago, Ansel Adams photographed the Arizona desert in black-and-white. Many people might be unaware that he was a regular contributor to Arizona Highways magazine back in the day. Adams’ photographs of the desert have been an inspiration to me even before I captured a single exposure in Arizona. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not trying to compare myself with the legend. What I am saying is that Arizona and black-and-white photography go together like peanut butter and jelly. There’s something timeless about it that just makes me feel good on the inside. It brings me back to those classic pictures by Ansel Adams that I carefully studied back in the early years of my own picture-making. As colorful as Arizona can be, to me it looks best in black-and-white.

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Downtown Phoenix From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Saguaro In The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Monochrome Desert Hill – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2 

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Hillside Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lookout Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Cactus Sun – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Morning In The Desert – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Arizona Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Saguaro Couple – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Rushing New River – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

See also:
Willow Beach, Arizona
McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, Arizona

Photoessay: November Arizona, Part 1: Color

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River & Rays – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

I love Arizona! It is perhaps the most beautiful state in America. Some might disagree with that sentiment, thinking that the desert is dull and brown, but I find it to be a colorful and diverse landscape. Others might consider California, Colorado or my current home state of Utah, or perhaps another state like Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, etc., to be more majestic, and they are each certainly majestic, but to me Arizona is at the top of the list, and my heart belongs there.

My family and I like to travel to Arizona whenever we can, which is usually once or twice each year. A few weeks ago we visited some family of ours in Phoenix, and of course I brought my Fujifilm X-T30 along, with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 attached to the front. I appreciate this setup for travel because it’s small and lightweight enough to not get in the way, yet can produce some stunning pictures. The film simulations I used were Velvia, Kodachrome 64, and “Classic Negative” (for Quit My Job). This wasn’t a photography trip, but as always I captured a number of pictures. I hope you enjoy!

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In It Together – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Gravel Road Above The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Above, City Below – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Saguaro Above Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Neighborhood – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lookout Mountain From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Phoenix From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Above The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Two Palms – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Palm Tree Bees – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Hill – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Red Barrel Cactus – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Foothills Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Warmth – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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The Desert – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Bright Spikes – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Palo Verde Sun – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Quit My Job – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lucy – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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New River Trail – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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New River – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Water Under The Bridge – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Falls & Foam – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Pigeons Over A Roof – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Part 2: Monochrome

See also:
Willow Beach, Arizona
McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, Arizona