Your Websites on Fuji X Weekly

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Phone Conversation – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

Last week I invited you to share your website in the comments of a post on Fuji X Weekly. I thought it would be great to see everyone else’s websites. The response was overwhelming, but in the best way possible! It was great fun to visit all the different pages that you shared. I hope you found it helpful, and perhaps you even found some new blogs to follow. I know I did!

To make things easier, I decided to put all of the links into a new post, so that you don’t have to dig through comments to find them. I hope that I didn’t miss any, and I apologize if I did. If you didn’t get a chance to take part in the previous opportunity, feel free to share your website in the comments of this post.

Here are the websites, in no particular order, that you all shared with Fuji X Weekly:

Best Light Photographic
Best Light Photo Blog
Visual Ohio
The Flying Kitty Monster
Island In The Net
Photo A Day
Find The Right Light Photography
Benoit Takes Photos
Fujitopraphy by Veijo Matikainen
Delatorre f/5.6
A Lens In The Landscape
Fragglerocking
Fraggle’s Other Place
Abijango Street Photography
Tintinburgh
Helen Fennell Photography
Earthponds
Ian Clavis Photography
The City Beautiful
Incrodato
James Posilero Photography
Doug & Abby Vinez
Sam and Steve Photography
Miro and Ira
Travelling Lens Blog
Joaquin Fernandez
Life, unintended
Moments & Moods
Nicolas Olonetzky Photography
Len Dobrucki Photographic Journeys
Dia Khalil Photography

Thank you once again to everyone who participated! Also, James Posilero published issue two of SOOC, and he invites you to check it out.

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The 5 C’s of Photographic Vision

Fujifilm X-E1

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

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

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

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

1. Clarity

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

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

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

2. Creativity

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Ethos – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

3. Conception

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

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

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

4. Capturing

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

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

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

5. Composing

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

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

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

Conclusion

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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

10 Old Color Slides

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I opened up a box in the garage. I was looking for something, and I hoped that I would find it in there. The box had been packed for many years. It was loaded and closed up when I moved from Arizona to California in 2011. I guess whatever was in there wasn’t important, because it remained closed for many years. I commented about this box to my wife once, “Let’s just toss it, since we obviously don’t need whatever is in there.” I’m glad that I never followed through with that, because when I dug through the contents of the box I discovered some old slides that I had forgotten about.

It was fun to look at the old slides, most of which I had captured in 1999, but a few were from 1998, and some as recently as 2005. It was great to reminisce as I viewed the different pictures. Most of the exposures weren’t particularly good. Something that I have discovered over the years is that I was never as good of a photographer as I thought I was. Time has a way of humbling you, I think. While there are a few decent shots, some pictures that I really thought were worthwhile are actually cringe-worthy. Still, I separated the “best” slides from the rest and had them scanned. I never scan my old slides because it’s expensive to do so, but I thought it would be fun to do it in this case.

The Kodachromes appear to have a cool color cast, but in reality they don’t. That’s the difference between scanning them and viewing them through a projector or light table. I could have corrected that in software, but I chose not to. The Elite Chrome 200 shot is clearly fading, showing discoloration from age and inappropriate storage. Elite Chrome was a version of Ektachrome, and Ektachrome has been referred to as Fade-a-chrome for not having an especially long shelf life. It looks kind of neat, though, so I had it scanned. The actual slide seems a tad more red/purple than the digital version, but it’s close. In the early days, a lot of my photography had transportation themes, such as trains, trucks and airplanes, so you see that represented here (mostly trains). Even though these are old pictures, and despite the only Fujifilm connection being the singular Provia frame, I thought it might be worthwhile to share. I hope that you appreciate the ten slides below.

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Night Train – Plano, TX – Canon AE-1 & Kodachrome 64 – 1999

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Sunrise Tracks – Floyd, TX – Canon AE-1 & Elite Chrome 100 –  1999

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DGNO Locomotive – Dallas, TX – Canon AE-1 & Elite Chrome 200 – 1999

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Moving Tracks – Palestine, TX – Canon AE-1 & Ektachrome E100VS – 1999

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Colorful Circles – Greenville, TX – Canon AE-1 & Ektachrome E100VS – 1999

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Camaro & Caboose – Farmersville, TX – Canon AE-1 & Kodachrome 64 – 1999

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Kansas City Southern – Plano, TX – Canon AE-1 & Kodachrome 64 – 1999

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Lake Michigan From Sears Tower – Chicago, IL – Promaster 2500PK & Provia 100F – 2005

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Flat Ball – Surprise, AZ – Promaster 2500PK & Elite Chrome 100 – 2004

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Grand Canyon Summer – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Canon AE-1 & Ektachrome E100SW – 2000

My New Fujifilm Camera

I bought a new camera. By “new” I mean new-to-me, as it was in fact a used camera. It’s a few years old, but in decent shape, and functions well. I’m not going to disclose the model just yet, as I’m going to let it be a surprise a little further down this article. I will give you some clues: this is a 16-megapixel fixed-lens Fujifilm camera. Any guesses?

Let’s take a look at some straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from this camera, and then I will reveal what it is.

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Red Trike – South Weber, UT

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Leaves By The Shed – South Weber, UT

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Flower Jungle – South Weber, UT

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Green Summer Leaf – South Weber, UT

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Dead Rose – South Weber, UT

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Factory Authorized Service – Ogden, UT

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Mary Wants You To Buy Some Books – Ogden, UT

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Suburban Fence Monochrome – South Weber, UT

What camera do you think captured these pictures?

My new 16-megapixel fixed-lens Fujifilm camera is…

…an AX350. You’re likely saying to yourself right now, “An AX what?!” The Fujifilm AX350 is an eight-year-old low-budget pocket point-and-shoot zoom camera. It came out around the same time as the original X100. It has a tiny sensor, and really is a point-and-shoot with very few manual controls. It has three film simulations: Standard, which reminds me more of Astia than Provia, Chrome, which is a lot like Classic Chrome but predates it by a few years, and B&W. Changing the film simulation is pretty much all you can do on this camera, besides zooming in and out and activating macro mode.

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I was surprised by the image quality. When the ISO is low (ISO 200 and lower, roughly), and just as long as the highlights aren’t too bright, it produces very lovely pictures. The lens seems to perform worst when at the widest or most telephoto ends, but it does well when in-between. It has a narrow window, but when things line up correctly, this camera creates pictures that you’d never guess came from an eight-year-old low-budget point-and-shoot. On the flip side, when things don’t line up, the pictures are just as you’d expect them to be.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a box of assorted film and digital cameras for under $40. I had no idea if any of it worked, but I thought it was worth the risk. This Fujifilm AX350 was among the cameras in the box. I tried it out just to see if it worked, and I was shocked when I reviewed the pictures! I’m glad that I didn’t pay a whole lot of money for this camera, but I think I might keep it around for a little while, as it seems to have a purpose, and can potentially fulfill a tiny niche role in my bag. I wouldn’t go out looking for one of these cameras to buy, but if someone is trying to give you one, maybe accept the offer. It is a capable photographic tool, even if just barely, in the hands of a skilled photographer.

The Ray Manley Photo Challenge

In 1939, Ray Manley, who was at the time a broke college student in northern Arizona, made a decision that would change the course of his life. Ray decided that he wanted to be published in Arizona Highways magazine, so he purchased 10 frames of Kodachrome. During that era, Kodachrome was not cheap, and Ray could barely afford those 10 frames. He had some prior experience shooting black-and-white film, but not much. Color photography was completely new to him, and he’d never used Kodachrome before. Still, Ray was determined, and he set out to make the most of those 10 exposures. Three of those Kodachromes would be printed on the cover of Arizona Highways during the 1940’s. And it was those three pictures that helped Ray launch a successful photography career, which included publication in National GeographicSaturday Evening PostPopular Science, as well as several books that featured his pictures.

The Ray Manley Challenge is to capture 10 exposures and only 10 exposures, attempting to get a minimum of three good pictures out of it. The intention of this is to train yourself to slow down and really think about what you are doing. It’s about being very deliberate and making every exposure count. Ray had only 10 exposures because that’s all he could afford, and it’s incredible what he did with it. You have unlimited exposures, yet, I know for myself, meaningful pictures are only captured sparingly. This photo challenge is a good way to refine your photography skills, and increase the odds of capturing something good.

I had considered using my Vintage Kodachrome recipe to really mimic what Ray was up against, but decided instead to use any settings that I felt would best fit the scene. I might try this again and use only Vintage Kodachrome, although I’m not really sure right now if I’ll do that. You can choose to do so for an added challenge, or use whatever settings you feel is best. It’s really up to you how you want to tackle this challenge, as the only real rule is that once you’ve made 10 exposures, you are done.

Here are my results:

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Frame 1: Mt Wolverine Reflected In Silver Lake – Brighton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.7 Seconds, f/11, ISO 160

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Frame 2: Flowing Creek – Brighton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.4 Seconds, f/11, ISO 320

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Frame 4: Big Cottonwood Creek – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/5, f/13, ISO 160

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Frame 5: Flowing River Monochrome – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.3 Seconds, f/11, ISO 160

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Frame 10: Hidden Falls – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 2 Seconds, f/13, ISO 160

How did I do? I would say mediocre.

In the first exposure there’s that bright stump on the top-left that I really didn’t want to include in the frame. Unfortunately, there was a bridal photo shoot going on just out of the right side of the frame, and I had to pick between including people in the shot or the stump. I chose the stump. Otherwise, I like that picture. I felt like I did a good job of taking my time and creating the best picture that I could with what was there, and I think this is my second favorite frame from this challenge.

The second frame is a well executed photo of a rather bland scene. I feel that there probably wasn’t a better picture that I could have created at that spot, but perhaps I shouldn’t have made an image at all, and saved the exposure for a different location.

Frame three was identical to frame four other than I didn’t get one setting right, so I made another exposure. If I had taken my time just a little more I wouldn’t have made that mistake. Frame four is a good picture and probably my third favorite from this challenge.

The fifth frame is alright. I don’t think I composed it particularly well. I put the tripod with the camera on it in the river, which was a risk. At this point the light that I wanted was quickly disappearing, and I wasn’t taking my time like I should have been.

Exposures six, seven, eight and nine were all failures. I was going too fast. I should have stopped and really soaked in the scene and worried less about the disappearing good light and saved those frames for another time. This was the lesson that I needed to learn.

For the final frame, I made sure that I got it right. I slowed myself down and really thought about how I wanted the picture to look. I moved the tripod a couple of times to refine the composition. This is my favorite exposure of the 10 that I made.

On the drive home, just a little ways down the road from where I exposed the 10th frame, I saw what I thought would have been a great picture. I stopped the car and looked at the scene, but I left the camera in the bag. If I hadn’t wasted several of my exposures, I could have captured this place. I got back on the road and stuck with my restriction.

This project didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, but it was a great photographic exercise that proved to be valuable. I learned much. I intend to do it again soon, and I invite you to join me in completing the Ray Manley Photo Challenge.

SOOC eMagazine

There’s a new online magazine called SOOC that’s dedicated to Fujifilm straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I encourage you to take a look at issue one and to support James Posilero‘s efforts, and not just because yours truly is in the magazine. There’s been an unfair sentiment within the photography community for some time that you are a second-rate photographer if you rely on camera-made JPEGs. The argument is not true, but unfortunately you will find this attitude spread throughout the internet, and you might even encounter it in person. This magazine turns that preconception on its head and debunks the fallacy, simply by the photographs found within. I personally look forward to seeing more of SOOC, and I wish much success to James.

Arizona Highways & Vintage Kodachrome

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Last night when I checked the mail, waiting inside the metal box was the September issue of Arizona Highways. For those who may not know, this magazine has a long history of  publishing great photographs, and many renown artists have been found in its pages throughout the decades. The newest issue of Arizona Highways features many pictures from the 1950’s and 1960’s, including the cover photograph by Allen Reed, so I found it especially interesting.

As I was flipping through the pages of the magazine this morning while sipping coffee, I was drawn to the Kodachromes, which can be seen many times in this issue. I was impressed with how well my Vintage Kodachrome film simulation recipe mimics the aesthetics of these pictures. It shouldn’t be too surprising since I consulted (among other things) some old Arizona Highways magazines when I created it, but it is a bit surprising that it’s possible to get this look right out of camera. Studying this issue was good confirmation that I got those settings right, and it made me want to shoot with it more. Perhaps later this week I’ll use Vintage Kodachrome for my Film Simulation Challenge.

If you can, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Arizona Highways so you can view these pictures for yourself. Look carefully at the vintage photographs captured by Ansel Adams, Ray Manley, Chuck Abbot and others. Esther Henderson’s pictures were especially impressive, and this was my introduction to her work. It was great inspiration for me, and perhaps it will be for you, too.

 

How To Add Texture To Your In-Camera JPEGs

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Green Mountain On Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

A creative option found in many photo editing programs is texture. The texture, which might be canvas, paper, cloth, wood, etc., is added as a layer which can be blended as strongly or subtly as one might want. It’s a fun technique that adds an unexpected element to pictures. I used to occasionally do this when I used Alien Skin Exposure software. There are even some specialty films that have texture built-in, such as Revolog Texture films.

When I was experimenting with my Faded Color and Faded Monochrome film simulation recipes, which use double-exposure photography to create a vintage film aesthetic, it occurred to me that I could use the double-exposure feature of my Fujifilm X-T30 to add texture to my pictures in-camera. I could get a textured look without software. Incredible! So I begun to experiment with textured JPEGs, and the results were interesting.

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Canvas Daisy – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

You might ask, “I can do this in Photoshop in only a few seconds, so why would I want to do this in-camera?” That’s a good question that deserves a lengthy explanation. I used to shoot RAW, but I rely on camera-made JPEGs now. Why? It saves me tons of time and makes my photographs more honest. Since I started shooting JPEGs, my photography production has gone through the roof while my total time investment in photography has noticeably dropped. I’m creating more with less. It’s all thanks to Fujifilm’s superb JPEG engine. The honesty statement is a little more controversial, but it’s clear that photography in general has taken a large perception hit when it comes to integrity. Non-photographers (photography consumers) don’t take a picture at face value anymore, and “Photoshop” has negative connotations. People ask me, “How much is this Photoshopped?” I answer, “None of it, this is how the camera captured it. This picture is unedited.” You’d be surprised at the overwhelming positive responses that I get from this answer. People find it refreshing. Photographers don’t see anything wrong with photo manipulation; however, many non-photographers feel that it’s not the image that’s being manipulated by the photographer, but the general public. They feel as though they’re being tricked by dishonesty. Whether or not that perception is fair or should exist is a whole different discussion, but you can avoid it altogether by shooting JPEGs. People are looking for authenticity, and this is one way to move in that direction.

To capture a photograph with texture on your Fujifilm camera, you will first need to enable the double-exposure feature of your camera. On the X-T30 it’s found on a knob on top of the camera. You can use any film simulation, but note that double-exposure pictures on the camera will be flatter (have less contrast), so Velvia, Classic Chrome and Acros work best because they have more contrast. Astia and PRO Neg. Hi work alright, as well. You will want to have Highlight and Shadow set no lower than +2, and more might give better results. Don’t be afraid to try +4 on one or both. I also recommend DR100, and DR200 if the scene has a lot of contrast. I find that for the main exposure, exposure compensation typically needs to be in the +1/3 to +1 range. The second exposure, which will be the texture exposure, typically needs exposure compensation set to -1 to -2, and I usually start at -2 and adjust as necessary. The camera will show you what the picture will look like, and it also allows do-overs if you need it.

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Hanging B&W Picture – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

For texture, I found the best results came from a white stretched canvas for painting. I also tried other things, like burlap, cloth, paper, wood and metal, but the results weren’t as good in my opinion. I recommend trying different materials and seeing for yourself what you like or don’t like. After capturing the main exposure, capture a second exposure of the textured object. It’s really that simple. The camera gives a 50/50 blend of the two exposures, but because the first exposure is brighter and the second is darker, it will appear more in the neighborhood of 70/30, which is what you want. It might appear as though the image is actually printed on a textured surface.

This is a simple but creative way to use the double-exposure feature of your camera. You could really play around with this and get inventive. Try different settings, different subjects and different textures and see what happens. Below are examples of textured pictures I created using this technique on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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Afternoon Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Spring Green Hill – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Backlit Sycamore Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Hazy Light Tree Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Tree Trunk In The Corner – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Weed Flower Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 -Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Yellow Flower on Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Yellow Blossom Burlap – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Burlap

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Bottle Still Life – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Coffee Still Life – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Metal

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Blue R – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Film on Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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E To H – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Zenit E on Wood – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Wood

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

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Knot A Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Wood

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Window Birds Texture – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Cloth

Times Have Changed

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Airport Lobby – McKinney, TX – I captured this picture about 20 years ago.

I was thinking about how things have changed significantly in photography over the last 20 years. I have been doing this picture-taking thing for 20 years, beginning when I enrolled in Photography 101 in college. I remember that it started because, in the summer of 1998, I took a trip to New England, and brought along my dad’s Sears 35mm SLR and a bunch of film. I didn’t really know how to use the camera, but how hard could it be? When I returned and had the film developed, the pictures were extraordinarily awful! There were only a few frames that were correctly exposed, and the ones that were exposed alright had other issues, such as improper focus or were poorly composed. My desire to learn photography came out of the frustration of not understanding how to capture a descent picture. That fall I enrolled in college and signed up for a photography class, and soon fell in love with the art of creating pictures.

While it’s easy to say that the biggest change in photography over the last 20 years is technology, I don’t know if that’s completely true. Gear has changed a whole lot. When I started, it was all about film and darkrooms. Now it’s about sensors and software. However, there’s some carryover between the two methods. Technology has made things easier for the most part. I think it’s possible nowadays to throw a camera into auto and get good results, and one-click software has made editing much simpler. The prerequisite knowledge of how stuff works and why is no longer required, although it can still be very useful. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the learning curve for digital isn’t necessarily less–it’s definitely different–but there are technologies that will allow you to appear to know what you’re doing even when you don’t. Because the camera and software will take care of many things for you, you don’t have to know what you’re doing to capture a decent picture. Today’s cellphone cameras are more capable than many DSLRs were 15 years ago, and are one-click wonders. Advancements in photography technology has opened up photographic possibilities that weren’t conceivable before. It’s incredible what the modern camera can do! Another aspect of all this gear change is that cameras have become throw-away. People often “upgrade” their gear every year or two, and many don’t keep a camera more than five years. A ten year old camera is ancient. It used to be, in the old film days, that people kept their gear much, much longer, and typically only replaced their camera if it broke.

Another big change is the number of photos being created. Over a trillion pictures are captured worldwide each year now. When I started out the number was around 85 billion, so that’s a pretty big increase–about 12 times, in fact! Not only are there a ton more pictures being captured, but the ability to share those pictures with an audience worldwide is much, much easier (that’s a gross understatement). Everyday, each of us are bombarded with pictures. It’s become overwhelming! It’s to the point that it is difficult to get noticed among all the noise. You have to be extraordinarily great, do something especially unusual, have great marketing skills, or have amazingly good luck to get noticed. Or cheat. A lot of people buy their way to success nowadays, using questionable or downright unethical methods. Despite the fact that it’s more difficult to get noticed or create an iconic image, the number of great pictures being captured now is significantly higher than it used to be. Since there’s a heck-of-a-lot of quality pictures available, it’s a great time to be a photography consumer.

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Clearing Rainstorm – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – I captured this yesterday.

While way more photographs are being captured now than ever before, the number of pictures being printed is way down. Most photographs are only seen digitally via a computer monitor or cellphone or tablet. The physical print is significantly less common than 20 years ago. While the number of digital pictures is high, the number of physical pictures is low. However, with print-on-demand services, it’s very easy to obtain a print of almost any subject, if you should ever need a photographic print of something.

I bring this up because, in my opinion, the biggest change in photography over the last twenty years is the photographic market. It’s much harder to make good money as a photographer now than it used to be. Everybody with a camera–and everyone has a camera–is a photographer. It’s incredibly easy to start a photography business nowadays. Buy a camera, which will take decent pictures in full-auto mode, take a few snaps of family and friends, create a (free) website to look professional, then post a portrait or wedding photography business ad on Facebook Marketplace. I have seen a lot of people do this. And they make money, but not a lot. The photographers who are actually talented, which is a minority group, can do well for themselves, but many earn much less than they should for their efforts. The stock photo business is pretty much dead, replaced by micro-stock, which sells images for cheap and gives photographers peanuts at best for their work. They get away with this because a huge number of “photographers” willingly participate, trying to earn something from their pictures. The photojournalist has been replaced by onlookers with cellphones. The travel photographer has been replaced by the “influencer” who probably cheated his or her way to success. A lot of photography jobs that were good jobs have been replaced by things that don’t pay much, if anything at all.

I’m not saying this because I’m bitter. I’m just pointing out how the photographic industry in many genres has changed a whole bunch, which has made it more difficult for the photographer to make a decent living. There are still plenty of people who are making good money at photography. There are new opportunities that didn’t exist before. If you really want to become a successful photographer, I believe that if you keep trying really hard and are determined to do so, you’ll likely see your dream fulfilled. It won’t be easy and won’t likely happen overnight, but it can certainly happen. If you are doing photography for the love of the art and have no interest in the financial side of picture making, you’re doing it at an extraordinarily great time.

It’s an interesting era in photography. Gear has changed, becoming more impressive with each year. People across the globe are capturing pictures at an unprecedented rate. If you like viewing photographs or creating photographs, there’s never been a better time. If you want to earn money from making pictures, competition is extremely fierce, and you might find it as tough as it’s ever been to be successful. There are opportunities, so it’s far from impossible, but making good money from photography is not an easy task. It never was easy, but it’s more true today. You have to discover your niche and market the heck out of it. Those who don’t need to earn money from photography, but can create simply because they love to, are the lucky ones. They have it good. In fact, they’ve never had it better.

Steak, Sushi & Shutter

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Japanese Lamps – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

I try to carry a camera with me wherever I go because you just never know when a photographic opportunity might present itself. One recent example of this was dinner. Specifically, my family and I ate out at a local Japanese restaurant called Kobe Teppanyaki, which was a fun and delicious place. Because I had a camera with me, I was able to capture a few photographs of the experience, a couple of which turned out decently enough.

The camera I used was a Fujifilm X-T20. I sometimes like to use vintage lenses, and I had an Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 attached to the front of the camera. This is one of my all-time favorite lenses, as it produces lovely images. The dark environment proved to be challenging. It’s a restaurant, and people move pretty quick to get their work done. The lens is a manual focus lens, and nailing focus with a large aperture is not an easy task. The added challenge is that I had my one-year-old daughter in my lap, so I was one-handed photographer much of the time. Still, I managed to capture a few pictures that I’m happy with.

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Japanese Cook – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Sushi Makers – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Itamae – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20