Comparing JPEGs: Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T30 with Astia film simulation.

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Fujifilm X-T1 with Astia film simulation.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my Fujifilm X-Trans III & IV film simulation recipes compatible with my X-T1 camera, which has an X-Trans II sensor. The X-T1 has the same film simulations as my Fujifilm X-T30, minus Acros and Eterna, but many of the customization options to fine-tune the image are different. For the X-T1, everything maxes out at plus and minus two, while X-Trans III & IV cameras can go to plus and minus four on many settings. There are other tools that the newer cameras have that the older ones don’t. The simple fact is this: X-Trans III & IV recipes aren’t directly compatible with X-Trans I & II cameras; can I recreate those recipes for the older models?

When I looked at the pictures that I captured with the different film simulations on my X-T1, it seemed like the results were different than with the same film simulations on my X-T30. Do the film simulations look different on different sensors? I did some tests to determine what is the same and what is not. I think there are some subtle changes, and you won’t get precisely the same results from X-Trans II as you will from X-Trans III and IV. It’s close, but not exact.

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Fujifilm X-T30 with Monochrome film simulation.

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Fujifilm X-T1 with Monochrome film simulation.

Something that I determined is that, with everything set at 0, X-Trans II has slightly darker shadows and X-Trans IV has slightly lighter highlights. It makes it seem like the pictures from my X-T30 are brighter than those from my X-T1, although mid-tones are identical. I made the mistake in the test below (with the exception of Provia) of trying to compensate for that by dropping the exposure by 1/3 stop on my X-T30, which made it darker than the X-T1. That overcompensated for the highlight and shadow difference, while making the mid-tones all wrong. Instead of lowering the exposure on the X-T30, I could have adjusted shadow and highlight by one (-1 Shadow and +1 Highlight) on the X-T1 to get a closer match. Actually, if I had adjusted shadow and highlight (+1 Shadow and -1 Highlight) on the X-T30, it would have been an even closer match, as I also discovered that +1 on the two cameras are different. I think that +1 on the X-T1 is equal to about +1.25 on the X-T30 (if it could adjust in 1/4 increments), and +2 is equal to about +2.5. I think that, because highlights have a brighter starting point on the X-T30, +2 Highlight is about the same on both cameras, while +2 Shadow on the X-T1 is actually closer to +3 on the X-T30. Interestingly enough, I think that -1 and -2 highlight and shadow on the two cameras are similar to each other, and with the same exact minus settings applied to both cameras, the X-T30 will have lighter highlights and shadows than the X-T1. Color on the X-T1 seems to move in +/-1.25 increments when compared to the X-T30, which means +2 Color on the X-T1 is in-between +2 and +3 on the X-T30, while -2 Color on the X-T1 is in-between -2 and -3 on the X-T30.

There’s another difference that I discovered between X-Trans II and X-Trans IV: the white balance is not the same. The X-T1 is actually slightly warmer, leaning towards yellow or yellow-green. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s not exactly the same, which means a slight adjustment will be required to the white balance shift for recreating recipes. What I anticipate as I attempt to translate X-Trans III & IV recipes for X-Trans II is that some will be easy, and some will be difficult or maybe impossible. Because there are less tools to work with on my X-T1, the aesthetic won’t be as precise, as it’s not as fine-tune-able. Despite that, I hope to have some good film simulation recipes very soon for those with older Fujifilm X cameras.

Provia:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

Velvia:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

Astia:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

Classic Chrome:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

Pro Neg. Hi:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

Pro Neg. Std:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

-2:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

-1:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

+1:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

+2:

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Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T1

+3:

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Fujifilm X-T30

+4:

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Fujifilm X-T30

Photoessay: Autumn 2019

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Mountain Autumn – Big Mountain Pass, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

Fall might be my favorite season, but it’s always too short. Summer often overstays its welcome. Winter usually comes too quickly. Autumn gets squeezed in the middle. You have to be quick, because it’s fleeting. It comes and goes so quickly! If you don’t take time to see and experience it, you’ll flat out miss it, and you’ll have to wait another year for fall to return.

Autumn is the season of change. The weather changes. The colors of the leaves change. The food we eat and coffee we drink change (if you want them to). There’s beauty in change, and uncertainty. It ends cold and gloomy as winter budges in, but before it does autumn puts on a spectacular show. Autumn can be breathtakingly beautiful!

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Apple Harvest – Logan, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

The photographs in this post were captured during the 2019 fall season. Many of them I’ve yet to share on the Fuji X Weekly blog, but you’ve probably seen a few of them in other articles. Some of the pictures are from early autumn when the weather was still warm and the leaves only beginning to change colors. Others are from late fall when the temperatures dipped cold and the scene turned drab. Still others were captured during the height of vibrant colors, which unfortunately didn’t last very long, yet long enough for me to get a few exposures made.

I used a Fujifilm X-T30, which is a great all-around camera, for all of these pictures. A number of different lenses were attached to it, depending on the image. I used a Fujinon 35mm, a Fujinon 90mm, a Fujinon 50-230mm, a Rokinon 12mm, an Industar 69, and an Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm. There’s a number of different film simulation recipes that I used, including Velvia, Kodacolor, Eterna, “Classic Negative” and possibly another one, I’m not certain. I hope that you enjoy!

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Leaves of Autumn – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Bent Trunk – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Icy Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Industar 69

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Changing Nature – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Tree Star – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm

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Autumn Sun At Ogden Station – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm

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Drab Autumn Drive – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Flowing Creek – Bountiful, Utah – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Flowing Fall – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm

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Gradations of Color – Big Mountain Pass, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Change Begins – Big Mountain Pass, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Winter Kissed Autumn – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Mountainside Autumn – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 50-230mm

See also:
5 Tips For Fall Foliage Photography
Zion In Autumn

New Project: Farmington Bay

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Crane Reflection – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

The Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area is a landscape and wildlife photographic treasure trove in Farmington, Utah. I’ve lived in the Salt Lake City area for almost four years now, and only learned of this place last week. I’ve passed by it thousands of times. I’ve seen it on many occasions without knowing what it was that I was looking at. I had no idea that it was accessible, and I’m so glad that I finally found it!

What is the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area? To be honest, I’m not entirely certain. There’s a small museum and signs along the road that explain it, but I have yet to actually stop and learn anything. Educating myself is pretty high on my to-do list. What I do know is that Farmington Bay is a bay in the Great Salt Lake, and it is where Farmington Creek empties into the lake. The area where the creek approaches the lake is a marshy wetland with several ponds and small lakes. The Great Salt Lake is a massive salt water lake, but access to it is surprisingly limited. My favorite place to see it is Antelope Island State Park, which is a fascinating spot but not particularly convenient for me. There are a handful of other locations that provide access to the Great Salt Lake, but not many. Farmington Bay is very convenient for me, so that’s a huge plus, as I’ll be able to stop by often. There are several miles of roads (mostly dirt, but well maintained) that take you into the marshy bay, and several miles of trails (again, well maintained) that go even further. I’ve only been to the end of the road and back. The purpose of the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area is, as far as I can tell, to provide a refuge for migrating birds, to protect the marshland, and to provide access for outdoor enthusiasts.

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Farmington Bay in January – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

My new project that I begun 2020 with is to photograph Farmington Bay for a year. I want to capture this location under different light, different weather, and different seasons. I want to intimately immerse myself into the environment, so that I can document it as only I can. My goal is to photograph Farmington Bay no less than once every four weeks for the entirety of 2020. I will likely drop by more frequently–if I can make it once per week that would be great–but at a minimum it will be once every four weeks. If I over-commit then I’ll end up abandoning the project before it’s complete. Perhaps if everything goes well this project could turn into an exhibit or book, but for now it’s for my own enjoyment and skill enhancement. While I’ve done plenty of landscape photography over the decades, I’ve done very little wildlife photography. This project will allow me to stretch my skills and hopefully improve my photography.

I invite you to follow along as I embark on this journey. I will be posting periodic updates on the Fuji X Weekly blog. I’ll be using Fujifilm cameras and lenses throughout this project, such as my Fujifilm X-T30. The lenses that I used for these pictures are a Fujinon 90mm, Fujinon 50-230mm and Rokinon 12mm. This post contains pictures from my first outing. I hope that you enjoy these photographs of Farmington Bay!

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Winter Trees Over Farmington Creek – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Tree Canopy Over Farmington Creek – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Winter Creek – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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On Thin Ice – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Hidden Wasatch Reflection – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Frary Peak From Farmington – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Salt Lake Shorebird Sign – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Water Under The Bridge – Famington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Turbulent Water – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Hiding – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Designated Parking – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Ice Water Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Cold Cranes – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Birds of a Feather Huddle Together – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Part 2

Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 + Fujifilm X-T30

Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 Fujifilm X-T30 Blog

The Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is a legendary M42-mount lens made by Pentax in the mid-1960’s through the mid-1970’s. There are four different versions of the Takumar 50mm f/1.4 that were manufactured. The first version is optically different from the three that followed. Versions three and four are Super-Multi-Coated and are slightly radioactive (version two might also be radioactive, but the first version is for certain not). My copy is the fourth version. Some say that the original version is better, while some say that versions three and four are better. There are endless debates, but, regardless of which Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens you have, you can be assured it’s a great lens!

The Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is super sharp in the center at all apertures. Even at f/16, which is subject to diffraction, the lens is pretty sharp. Below f/4 there’s some noticeable corner softness, which is quite pronounced at f/1.4. There’s vignetting when wide open, but that disappears completely by f/4. From f/4 to f/11, this lens is “tack as a Tak” (as the kids used to say), and that’s where it optimally performs. I noticed some chromatic aberrations when wide open and focused close to the end of the lens. There’s a little distortion that you’ll only notice when photographing brick walls, and even then you’ll only barely notice. It’s a tremendous lens, no doubt about it!

A lot of people talk about bokeh, and it’s a misunderstood term. People get it confused with depth-of-field. The Takumar 50mm f/1.4, which when mounted to my Fujifilm X-T30 is equivalent to 75mm, has an excellent close focus distance of about 18 inches. That’s not quite macro territory, but when you combine the focal length with the close focus capabilities and the very small maximum aperture, it’s possible to get a super thin depth-of-field. This means that you can get a whole lot of the frame out-of-focus, which some people call bokeh by mistake. Depth-of-field is the amount of blur, while Bokeh is the quality of the blur, and it is subjective. Bokeh is pretty darn good on this lens, although in my opinion the Fujinon 90mm f/2 actually has better bokeh, if you want something to compare it to. Still, you won’t be disappointed by the blur, whether the amount or quality, especially at the larger apertures.

Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4

The coating on this lens, which controls flare only moderately well, has a yellowish tint that shows up in pictures. It’s easy to correct with white balance if you don’t like it, or perhaps it adds to the charm of the lens if you do like it. I personally like it. The lens has pretty good contrast. It feels solid and well built. It’s about average size and weight for a vintage “nifty-fifty” lens. You’ll need an M42 to Fuji X adapter to mount it to your Fujifilm camera.

The Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is an all manual lens, which means that you’ll have to adjust the aperture and focus yourself. The aperture ring and focus ring work very well on my copy. It may take some practice to get the hang of using it if you don’t have much experience with manual lenses. I used full-manual cameras for many years when I shot film, so I actually enjoy it, as it’s a bit therapeutic for me.

The Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is an excellent vintage lens! It really is something special. It’s not perfect from a technical standpoint, but it’s those flaws that make it special. It’s super sharp and will produce lovely pictures. This is one of those must-have lenses if you enjoy manual photography. Below are some pictures that I captured using this lens with a Fujifilm X-T30. Enjoy!

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December Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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December Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Morning Tower – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.2

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Jon In The Kitchen – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Shoe Zipper – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Gather For Christmas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Holiday Dreaming – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Christmas Light – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Beautiful Blur – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Monochrome Christmas Scene – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Angel Choir – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Artificial Santa – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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Christmas Wonder – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

See also:
Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm
Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

Family Holiday Portraits: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Every November my wife, Amanda, asks me to take some family pictures for the Christmas card. Actually, for several years now she’s been wanting to hire a photographer to capture our annual holiday portraits. But, you know, I’m a photographer, and I’m also stubborn and cheap, so I usually tell her that I’ll take care of it, no need to hire anyone. I know that it’s a big challenge to be both in front of the camera and behind it at the same time, but I’ve done it before, so no big deal, right?

Amanda likes to pick the location and our clothes. Actually, location scouting is a joint venture; Amanda has an idea in her mind of what she wants, then I help her find it. Last year I photographed our family at Antelope Island State Park. The year before we went to downtown Ogden. This year she wanted a tree-lined road, and we found a good location not terribly far from our house. You wouldn’t know from the pictures that we were actually in the city, right behind a restaurant.

Everything was set, we were all dressed and ready to go, but I had already encountered a problem: one of my tripods was missing. I discovered in past photo sessions that I get the best results when using two cameras. I have a primary camera that I shoot using a remote, and I have a secondary camera offset to the side, which has the interval timer set to snap a random picture every five seconds. The primary camera captures the staged portraits, while the secondary camera captures the natural moments in-between. This setup has worked well for me, but without the second tripod it wasn’t going to happen. After much searching without success, I found some step-stools and books to stack onto each other to form a makeshift tripod, which was far from ideal but better than nothing.

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

Upon arriving at the photo-shoot location, I encountered another issue. The plan was for our family to be far away from the camera to make us smaller in the frame, but I discovered that the camera remote range was not large enough. I was too far away from the camera to remotely activate the shutter. After trying a few different things, and after much frustration, I settled on ditching the remote and using the camera’s interval timer, set to snap an exposure every three seconds. This is like spray-and-pray to the extreme. The wheels were beginning to come off, but we put on a smile and pressed forward.

I’m not a family portrait photographer. I’ve done it before a few times, but it’s really not my cup of tea. Trying to get everyone to look good simultaneously is nearly impossible. There’s inevitably always someone with a goofy look on their face. And even if you think an exposure looks good, one of the adults (usually but not always the wife) will find something insignificant to nitpick about. It seems like, as the photographer, you just can’t win. Maybe some of you have better experiences than me, but I just don’t find much joy in family portrait photography. Still, doing it myself is better than paying someone, I told myself.

In my family, the two youngest children, ages five and two, are the goofballs, and they also don’t follow instructions well, sometimes defiantly so. If you’re behind the camera, you can observe their behavior, and offer some words or bribes (candy works well) to get them to pose appropriately. When you are in front of the camera and not behind, it’s much more difficult to catch them in the act, and so you’ll get a bunch of shots where they don’t look good. The ten-year-old tries much too hard to smile, and often looks as unnatural and uncomfortable as possible. Only by telling funny jokes can you get him to loosen up. The 12-year-old thinks that she’s the boss of the other three, which sometimes causes unnecessary conflicts. The challenge is somehow getting all of this under control at just the right moment when the shutter clicks. And it’s clicking every three seconds on one camera and every five seconds on the other.

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Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

It’s actually a tiny miracle that any of the pictures turned out decent. The light was rapidly changing. At one point the sun found a place between the clouds and the trees, and put a bright hazy flare right through the middle of the frame (and not the good kind, either), and during this time someone walked through the scene. I couldn’t see this because I wasn’t behind the camera. As the sun got lower the temperature rapidly dropped, as did the spirits of those being photographed. It was all a mess, beginning to end. We did it anyway, determined to have a nice picture on the Christmas card. Afterwards we had some hot cocoa to warm us up.

The primary camera was a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens attached to it, set on a tripod. The secondary camera was a Fujifilm X-T20 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it, which was set on top of a stack of stools and books. I used the Provia film simulation, DR400, Grain Weak, Highlight 0, Shadow +1, AWB +1R & -2B, Color +2, Sharpening +2 and -4 NR on both cameras. This is a new recipe that I created for these pictures.

This article would not be complete if I didn’t share with you the outtakes. Below are the pictures that were failures, where things didn’t go as planned, and the pictures are far from the “good” photos that we had hoped to capture. These are the “bad” and “ugly” images that show what really happened during our family holiday portrait session; not what we wanted, but certainly real life.

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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

Fujifilm Grain Settings

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Blue Winter Sky – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Many of my film simulation recipes call for faux grain, in order to achieve a more analog aesthetic. The picture above was captured using my Kodachrome 64 recipe, which requires Grain set to Weak. Fujifilm cameras with X-Trans III or IV sensors have a faux grain option, which can be set to Off, Weak or Strong (the X-Pro3 has additional grain options). The Acros film simulation has built-in grain that increases as the ISO increases. I have often said that X-Trans digital noise is also grain-like in appearance. But all of this is hard to see, especially when viewed at web sizes, so it can be tough to know exactly what the different settings are doing to pictures. I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the grain on Fujifilm cameras. For this post I used a Fujifilm X-T30.

Let’s take a closer look at Blue Winter Sky, the picture at the top of this article. Here are some crops:

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ISO 640, Grain Off.

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Grain Weak

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Grain Strong

You likely can see the grain in the bottom crop, which has Grain set to Strong, but the middle one with Grain set to Weak is a little more difficult to notice. It’s subtly there, but the difference between Grain Off and Grain Weak isn’t huge by any stretch, and you have to look very closely to find it. Even Grain Strong isn’t particularly obvious, but it’s certainly noticeable upon close inspection.

Let’s look at some massive crops from another picture:

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ISO 640, Grain Off

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Grain Weak

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Grain Strong

This example is a little bit deeper of a crop, and so it’s also a little easier to spot the differences in grain. Still, there’s not a huge distinction between Grain set to Off and Grain set to Weak. Grain set to Strong stands out from the others, but again it’s still not especially obvious.

Can you spot the difference between Grain set to Weak and Grain set to Strong in the two images below?

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

I think if you study the crops above long enough, you can see that the bottom one has a stronger grain, but just barely. It’s not obvious whatsoever, even when viewed this closely.

Can you spot the differences between the two crops below?

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The top image is ISO 400 with Grain set to Weak. The bottom is ISO 6400 with grain set to Strong. You could probably tell that the top image is slightly cleaner and crisper, but it is very subtle, and not something you’d ever notice without closely comparing crops side-by-side.

Now let’s take a look at some Acros crops. Can you spot the differences?

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

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ISO 6400, Grain Strong

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ISO 6400, Grain Weak

There’s not much to notice, but there’s (once again) a subtle difference between ISO 400 with Grain set to Weak and ISO 6400 with Grain set to Strong, and you’re not likely to spot it without closely comparing crops. In real life, nobody does that.

The conclusion is that the faux grain options on Fujifilm cameras aren’t especially obvious without a close study. Grain Strong stands out much more than Grain Weak, but neither are particularly noticeable without a close inspection. Even the difference between ISO 400 and ISO 6400 (with or without grain) isn’t all that big, especially if you aren’t viewing the pictures large. The more you crop, the more you zoom into the image, or the larger you print, the more you’ll notice the differences. For internet viewing, you’ll have a tough time even noticing. It’s perfectly fine to set Grain to Off if you don’t like it. I personally enjoy seeing the grain, even if it’s not immediately apparent, because I first learned photography in the film era and I love grain. I look forward to someday trying out the new grain options that Fujifilm has included on the X-Pro3, and I hope it’s added to the X-T30 via a firmware update, but in the meantime I’m happy to use the faux grain that’s currently available to me in my camera.

Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 + Fujifilm X-T30

Asahi Pentax Macro Takumar 50mm f4 Fujifilm XT30

Asahi Pentax Macro Takumar 50mm f4 Fujifilm XT30

I recently purchased an Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 lens from Fuji X Weekly reader Tony Reidsma. I love Takumar lenses! Generally speaking, they are super sharp and have great character. There’s something special about them. They are often quite affordable, so you can add a bunch of Takumar lenses to your collection without going broke.

Asahi was the original name of Pentax. Up until the mid-1970’s when they switched from M42 screw-mount to K-Mount, Pentax used the Asahi brand name for their lenses. Asahi called their lenses Takumar in honor of the founder’s brother, Takuma Kajiwara, who was a famous photographer and painter. Asahi Takumar lenses require an M42 to Fuji X adapter, which can be found for cheap, to attach them to your Fujifilm camera.

The Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 is, no surprise, a macro lens. It has a 1:2 magnification ratio, which is not as close up as some macro lenses. An earlier version of the lens (without SMC) does, in fact, have a 1:1 magnification ratio. This SMC Macro-Takumar has a similar close-focus capability as the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro, which is good-but-not-great.

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What I love about the Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 lens is that it’s very crisp. There’s some corner softness at f/4, but the lens is edge-to-edge super sharp at f/5.6 through f/11 (diffraction begins after f/11). I haven’t noticed much distortion, vignetting or chromatic aberrations. This lens has excellent contrast and controls flare very well. Bokeh is pretty nice, too. The lens is made of metal and feels very solid. It was a quality lens when it was new, and all of these decades later it is still a quality lens.

The Macro-Takumar is an all-manual lens. You’ll have to manually set the aperture and manually focus. The aperture ring on my lens is a little stiff, but otherwise works as it should. The focus ring is super smooth and accurate. Because it’s a macro lens, it takes a little effort to get from the close end to infinity, and the lens will actually focus just past infinity, which isn’t entirely unusual.

On the Fujifilm X-T30, because of the APS-C crop factor, the 50mm focal length is equivalent to 75mm. Essentially the Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 is a mid-telephoto prime that’s very sharp but with a maximum aperture of only f/4, which isn’t especially fast. It doubles as a macro lens, and it’s quite good at that, just as long as you’re not trying to get really close, as the magnification ratio isn’t particularly impressive. There are certainly shortcomings with this lens, but it has the “it factor” when it comes to image quality, producing especially lovely pictures. If you find this lens for a good price, be sure to buy it, because it’s worth having around. The technical specs of this Macro-Takumar lens won’t knock your socks off, but the images that it produces very well could.

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Micro Christmas Lights – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Christmas Berries – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Amanda’s Eyes – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Citrus Ladder (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Country Barn (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Highway Sunset – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Sierra Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Old Truck & Old House (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Two Horses Monochrome (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Speedy Super Chief (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

See also:
Industar 69
Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm

Travel: McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, AZ

McCormick Stillman Railroad Park

Ol’ Number 11 – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

Almost two years ago my family and I visited the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I captured it with a Fujifilm X100F. The McCormick Stillman Railroad Park is one of the best city parks in America (it’s actually been ranked #1), and it truly is a neat place to go. If you are in Phoenix, Arizona, with your family, I highly recommend that you stop by this park. It’s especially magical around Christmas, as they elaborately decorate it for the holiday season. Last week my family and I returned to the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, but this time I had a Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens to photograph the visit.

What I love about this park is that there’s something for everyone. There’s a large playground for the kids. There are barbecue grills and pavilions and large grassy areas to throw a ball or Frisbee. There’s a gift shop where you can buy ice cream in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter. There’s a museum. There’s a carousel. There are scale trains which you can ride that loop around the park. It’s both modern and historic. You can feel mindfulness and nostalgic simultaneously. It really is unique. And, of course, it can make an interesting subject for photography. I used my Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe for most of these pictures.

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Trains Boarding – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Santa Fe Sun – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Aguila – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Happy Train Riders – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Looking Back – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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P&P 42 – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Train Rides Today – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Little Trolley Rider – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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It’s Not Too Late – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

Photoessay: Monochrome Sun Rays Over Willow Beach, Arizona

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

Along U.S. Highway 93, about 12 miles south of the Hoover Dam, there’s a scenic view pullout, which offers tremendous views of desert mountains and canyons and a glimpse of the Colorado River at Willow Beach. This is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s easy to drive right on past this spot, as I have done many times before. Those who do stop here are rewarded with an incredible vista. It’s not the Grand Canyon, but it’s like a small glimpse of the Grand Canyon. It’s a quintessential Arizona landscape. Actually, you can see both Arizona and Nevada, as the river marks the boundary between the two states.

When I was at this scenic pullout last week, there was a storm passing through, which provided a dramatic sky with streaking light rays from the peeking sun. It was an amazing sight, yet short lived. I had my Fujifilm X-T30 with me, alternating between a Fujinon 35mm f/2 and a Fujinon 90mm f/2 attached to the front. A more wide-angle lens might have been nice, but these are the two lenses that I had with me. I captured a number of frames, then the great light disappeared as quickly as it had come.

Because I had a camera with me, and I decided to stop, I was able to witness and record this beautiful moment. Many cars zoomed down the highway, perhaps witnessing the scene quickly from behind their windows, or perhaps not noticing it at all, and only a few stopped. I’m thankful that I was one of the few who stopped, and what a great reward I was given for doing so. Sometimes the journey is the destination, especially if you are a photographer.

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Light Streaming – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Light & Mesa – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Shining Down – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Pouring Light Over Desert – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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

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

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