You might think that you live in a boring neighborhood. You might think that there’s nothing of interest to photograph where you live. You might think that you have to go somewhere to capture good photographs. This photoessay is intended to debunk that. I live in a boring suburban neighborhood, but I have still made an effort to walk the sidewalks with my camera in hand. This particular collection features some recent black-and-white images that I’ve captured in the neighborhood where I live. In the past I’ve shared many pictures captured in my neighborhood, so these are far from the only ones or even the best ones–they are simply ones that I have not posted on here before. I hope that this article inspires you to get out into your local area with your camera, even if “getting out” is just a short trip around the block.
The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River, the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere and the 33rd largest lake in the world. It’s massive! It can seem almost ocean-like, or perhaps more like a large ocean bay, but it is located far from any ocean. One difference between the Great Salt Lake and an ocean is that the lake is much saltier, and brine shrimp are the only thing alive in it. It is one of Utah’s natural wonders!
The largest island in the Great Salt Lake is Antelope Island, which is 15 miles long and five miles wide. The highest point, Frary Peak, is 6,594′, and is often snow-capped in the winter. It’s accessible by road via a causeway. Antelope Island is managed by the Utah State Park system.
Kit Carson and John C. Fremont, who visited Antelope Island in 1845, gave it its name after hunting pronghorn antelope on the island. Daddy Stump and Fielding Garr would build homes on Antelope Island over the next few years. This is a place that people have been coming to for a long time. In fact, there is evidence that native people have spent time on the island since at least the time of Christ.
Antelope Island seems like a world away from the Salt Lake City metro area, even though it is located very close to the city. It looks remote, and it must have been very remote before the road was built and the city grew. Interestingly enough, the oldest non-Native American structure in Utah is located on the island: an adobe ranch house built in 1848. The Fielding Garr Ranch was a working ranch from 1848 to 1981, and now the old ranch is open to the public for self-guided tours.
Wildlife abounds on Antelope Island, including buffalo, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, big horn sheep and many other animals. At one time the bison herd on Antelope Island was the largest in America. There are a huge variety of birds that migrate across the area.
The water is often calm and the reflections can be incredible. There are sandy beaches. There are trails that curve across the rugged landscape. There is a unique beauty to Antelope Island that draws me back. It’s one of my favorite places to photograph. But it’s also disgusting! There’s a certain “rotten egg” smell that can be found near the shores. There are tons and tons of bugs, including biting no-see-ums, brine flies (that cover the shore like a thick cloud), mosquitoes, tons of spiders (venomous and non-venomous), among other things. It’s pretty common to see dead birds. There’s plenty to love and hate about this place. I try to look beyond the gross to see the beauty.
Something interesting that I’ve discovered since moving to the Salt Lake City area almost three years ago is that most people who grew up in Utah don’t visit Antelope Island. Maybe they went on a school field trip as a kid, but they haven’t been back since. The majority of people you find on the island are from out-of-town. The locals who do visit are often those that moved to the area from someplace else. It’s too bad for those who don’t make the short trip to the island, because they’re really missing out!
Antelope Island is incredibly beautiful and tranquil. It is indeed odd, and one has to purposefully look beyond the negative aspects of the place to truly appreciate it. I feel like it is a secret treasure that is easily overlooked, and I feel honored to have found it and photographed it.
Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. It’s home to about 700 wild buffalo. Every year Antelope Island State Park rounds up the buffalo herd so that they can be counted, examined, and vaccinated. This event, which is open to the public, happens every autumn and takes place over a seven day period.
I had the opportunity to photograph a portion of this year’s buffalo roundup, which I was very excited about. I missed the actual roundup, where a bunch of cowboys on horseback traverse the island to guide the bison to the corral, but I did get to witness the second phase, where the animals are seen one at a time by a veterinarian. This operation takes a team of about 40 people several days to complete. It’s fascinating to watch, but it’s also a slow process and there is a lot of downtime where very little is happening.
I used my Fujifilm X100F to capture these photographs, which are all unedited camera-made JPEGs. For the camera settings I used the [Not] My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Tri-X Cross Process Film Simulation Recipe, utilizing the X100F’s built-in neutral density filter so that I could use high ISOs even in bright midday light. I took a photojournalist approach, and I think these settings worked particularly well for it. I’m pleased with how this series turned out and I hope that you enjoy the pictures!
I have created many wonderful film simulation recipes for X-Trans III cameras, but none of those can be used on my Fujifilm XF10. I had to create brand-new film simulation recipes for this camera. I used my experience with other Fujifilm cameras to create different straight-out-of-camera looks that I would appreciate.
You can only have one custom setting saved on the XF10. The default settings that I have programmed for the camera are my Classic Chrome recipe. If I want a look with more saturation I’ll adjust the settings to my Velvia recipe. If I want black-and-white I’ll adjust the settings to my Monochrome recipe. It’s a little bit of a pain to be constantly switching, so I try to not go back-and-forth any more than I need to.
While I use these recipes on my XF10, they’re compatible with the X-T100, X-A5, X-A3 and any X-Trans I or X-Trans II camera. The rendition might vary slightly from model-to-model, but the overall look should be fairly consistent. These settings won’t translate to X-Trans III or X-Trans IV.
Aside from some minor cropping, the photographs in this article are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I like to keep my workflow as simple as possible, and Fujifilm’s different film simulation options allow me to rely on camera-made JPEGs. Using JPEGs instead of RAW saves me a ton of time. I appreciate being in front of a computer less and behind a camera more.
Below are my Fujifilm XF10 film simulation recipes!
This is my go-to film simulation option. I use it significantly more often than the other recipes. It has a classic Kodak film look, although not exactly like any one in particular. I think it most closely resembles 1960’s era Ektachrome, but it’s not an exact match. Even so, it looks great and is quite versatile. It has a lot of contrast, just vibrant enough colors and a warm tone.
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Highlight: +1 (0 sometimes in high-contrast situations)
Noise Reduction: -2
White Balance: Auto, +3 Red & -4 Blue
Velvia was one of my favorite films. It produced incredibly vibrant colors. Apparently Fujifilm didn’t intend to make such a wild film, it was more of an accident than anything else, but it quickly become the standard film for color landscape photography. Something interesting that I recently learned is one of the people who helped develop Velvia for Fujifilm also helped develop the Velvia Film Simulation. The film simulation isn’t a 100% match to Velvia 50, but perhaps closer to Velvia 100F. My recipe is intended to produce a look that is closer to Velvia 50.
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Highlight: 0 (+1 in low-contrast situations, -1 in high-contrast situations)
Noise Reduction: -2
White Balance: Auto, +1 Red & -3 Blue
The XF10 lacks Fujifilm’s greatest film simulation: Acros. Instead it has the old Monochrome option, which is alright but not nearly as good as Acros. Despite this, it is possible to get nice black-and-white camera-made JPEGs from the XF10. There are four different options, and to understand what each does one must understand what different colored filters do to black-and-white film, as +Y simulates using a yellow filter, +R simulates a red filter and +G simulates a green filter. If you know how to use color filters on black-and-white film then you know when to pick which option on the XF10.
Monochrome (Monochrome+Y, Monochrome+R, Monochrome+G)
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Highlight: +1 (+2 in low-contrast situations)
Shadow: +2 (+1 in high-contrast situations)
Noise Reduction: -2
One thing I found particularly fascinating about the Taos Pueblo is that this historic site is still inhabited. This is a real home to many people. The doors and windows belong to someone. Inside there are living spaces, bedrooms and kitchens. Surrounding the two large pueblos are even more houses. There’s a church. This is a community.
Visiting Taos is like being invited into a stranger’s home. You have the opportunity to see a more intimate side of things, and perhaps come away with a different perspective. What I found in Taos was not what I had pictured in my mind prior to visiting, but something much more interesting. There’s a certain profoundness to this place that’s difficult to put into words.
I appreciate those in Taos for allowing me in, answering my questions and showing hospitality and kindness. Unfortunately, my stay was much too short. I had only a couple of hours to spend at the pueblo, and then it was time to continue down the highway to Santa Fe. I truly hope that the opportunity to return comes sooner than later.
Pawhuska is a rural town in northeastern Oklahoma that once boomed. The 1920’s were especially roaring, but the 1930’s included an oil bust, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, scars of which are clearly evident to this day. The Boy Scouts of America began in Pawhuska over 100 years ago. The town is also home to Drummond Ranch, which is one of the largest ranches in the country. Ree Drummond has a popular television cooking show and has authored a number of books. She also has a store and restaurant in town, and that’s why my wife and I were there.
The town is quite small, but photographic opportunities were numerous. In fact, I made more exposures in Pawhuska than any other place we visited on our road trip. There’s a lot of history, character and hospitality packed into the little town in the middle of nowhere. Pawhuska proved to be a great experience! I felt as though I left many potential pictures unphotographed, so perhaps another visit will be in store in the future.
In July my family and I visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa, Colorado. This national park features the tallest sand dunes in North America. The towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains loom in the background. It’s an impressive and unusual landscape!
During wetter months the Medano Creek flows beneath the sand dunes, and in order to get to the dunes one must get their feet wet. We were there during a dry month and there was no water in the wide creek bed. Unsurprisingly, a visit to the sand dunes requires a significant amount of walking on sand, which means that it takes more effort and more time to get from one point to another. It’s no walk in the park, and it’s best to come prepared with plenty of water and ready for the hike.
While we were there, once on the dunes, the wind was blustery and it kicked up the sand quite fiercely. It pelted our legs and would occasionally blow in our faces and get into our eyes. It was more of an issue for the kids since they’re shorter. It was not a fun experience, so we did not stay on the dunes for very long.
The place offers amazing photographic opportunities. If you like working with shadows and highlights and abstract shapes, this is the place for you! The Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of those special landscapes where it’s difficult to come away with bad pictures. I had with me a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens attached to the front. The X-Pro2 is weather sealed, but the lens is not. Thankfully I did not get dust on the sensor. I would strongly recommend not changing lenses while at the dunes, as you’re just asking for trouble by doing so.
We were only at the sand dunes for a couple of hours. It would have been great if we could have stayed longer. I think that a sunrise hike to the top would have been epic, but time just didn’t allow for it. Even so, we were glad for the opportunity that we did have. I’m happy with the photographs and memories that I came away with.
I’ve heard it said that at Grand Canyon National Park your widest lens isn’t wide enough and your longest lens isn’t long enough, no matter how wide-angle or telephoto those lenses might be. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times, and each time I’ve felt that way. The place is amazing, yet it seems difficult to do it justice with a camera.
The canyon is huge! The national park is almost 2,000 square miles. The Colorado River traverses 277 miles through it. At its deepest point (or, really, the highest part of the rim to the river) is 6,000′. The longest stretch across rim-to-rim is 18 miles. It’s hard to effectively portray this scale in a photograph.
The Grand Canyon is the most photographed landmark in Arizona and one of the most photographed places in America, with tens of thousands of images created within the park daily. The task of creating something that’s photographically unique is nearly impossible. I’m sure that there are hundreds of pictures that look almost identical to mine. One has to spend significant time within the park, as well as exercise the creative mind, in order to capture something different than what’s already been done before.
I was attempting art with some of the photographs that I captured at the Grand Canyon. Other images were family snapshots meant simply for memories. There’s a difference between interpreting and documenting. Both are valid and serve different purposes, and they each take a different approach to accomplish. In this article you’ll find both.
I used my Fujifilm X100F for most of these pictures, which are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. The Acros Film Simulation makes for exceptional monochrome images, and I used my Acros and Acros Push-Process film simulations for these X100F images. I used my Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens for three of these pictures, which are also camera-made JPEGs. I used the Monochrome film simulation, which isn’t as good as Acros, but the X-A3 doesn’t have Acros so I couldn’t use it.
I love black-and-white photography, and Grand Canyon National Park is a wonderful place to create monochrome images. I look forward to returning. Grand Canyon is a special place, and it’s been much too long between visits. Maybe next time I can stay a little longer.
I surprised myself with how few images I captured in monochrome of Canyonlands National Park. During that visit I most often chose color, as the lighting made for wonderful color photographs, and I only went with black-and-white here and there. This is the opposite of what happened at Arches National Park earlier in the day, in which I chose monochrome more often because of the poor light. In general, I’m more drawn towards black-and-white photography, and so it was very unusual for me to focus so much on color.
Canyonlands was a joy to photograph and I felt like I came away with some print-worthy exposures. The pictures in this post were mostly captured using my Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens attached, which is a good telephoto combination. I used the Monochrome+R film simulation, which isn’t as good as Acros, but the X-A3 doesn’t have Acros and so I couldn’t use it (the lone Fujifilm X100F image was captured using Acros). All of these photographs are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, which I prefer because it saves me tons of time. A couple of them could have been slightly improved if I had edited the RAW exposure, but the JPEGs are certainly good enough in this case.
If I ever have the chance, I’d love to spend a week at Canyonlands National Park. I feel like I barely touched the surface of the potential photo opportunities there. It seems like a place that could provide plenty of portfolio material. It was just so breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful. I just can’t say enough about Canyonlands! If you ever have the chance to go, definitely go, you won’t be disappointed.
As I mentioned in part one, the lighting for photography was pretty terrible during the few hours that I was at Arches National Park. Still, the place was nothing short of amazing! I wanted to capture it all, and found that black-and-white was often a better choice than color. I think if I had been there closer to sunrise or sunset, color would have been the way to go. Because I was up against the harsh midday sun, monochrome seemed to better express the abnormally stunning landscape.
On the X100F I used my Acros and Acros Push-Process film simulations, except that I had the dynamic range set to DR400. I often chose Acros+R to simulate the use of a red filter (making the blue sky darker), although the results are closer to what one would get with an orange filter in real black-and-white film photography and not a red filter. On the X-A3 I primarily used the B&W+R film simulation with the highlights and shadows set to +2, which seems to give the right amount of contrast in most situations.
All of the photographs in this article are camera-made JPEGs. If I had relied on RAW and used Lightroom or some other software on my computer, I’d probably still be editing the pictures. Instead, I saved a ton of time and relied on the camera’s great JPEG processor. I’m happy with the results. I didn’t capture any portfolio worthy pictures, but all things considered, I managed at least a few decent photographs that I’m proud to show here. I just hope for the opportunity to return and photograph Arches National Park in better light.
If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend this place. It’s so unusual, filled with seemingly impossible formations and brilliant colors. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground. Or just a great place to wander in the wonder of nature. I enjoyed my short visit to Arches National Park, and I cannot wait to return, hopefully sooner than later.